Auraet 14, 1539
Our general has been out with fever for three days now. Our lieutenant is dead. Our slighen is over a hundred miles away on a four-month wedding tour.
The Aveaans block our escape south, and presumably wait for reinforcements to attack. Should be any day now, I suppose. And all we can do is sit and drink and pray to Casper for our death to be a quick one.
The Beginning of the EndThe culmination of a six-month long defense campaign to secure the northern border of Beourjen from Aveaan invaders began when the feeble remainder of the Second Beourjen Division, led by General Fjornin Balassar, was cornered by the Empress' Army near the base of the eastern range. Their lieutenant had been slaughtered somewhat pathetically in battle the previous day, and General Balassar himself fell ill to a severe case of gray fever. Their slighen, Lisbet Ryker, was on her honeymoon—three months into her four-month wedding tour across northern Beourjen—and the slighen on duty in her stead had been young, rash, and inexperienced. He too had died in lame fashion.
What was left of the Second Beourjen Division was 7,000 soldiers at most, nearly half of them wounded. They had almost no semblance of leadership, and little more than a week's worth of food. Attacking the Aveaans who stood between them and the Beourjen border seemed futile; the Aveaans had more men and several arcanists in their ranks. Second Beourjen was stuck in Avar, with no feasible way to call to Beourjen for reinforcements without alerting the Aveaans. It was quite clear that, without a miracle, the rest of the division would be slaughtered within the week.
Lisbet's ArrivalThey say Lisbet arrived in the dead of night with her horse driven to the brink of death. Woke up the few remaining majors and dragged them to develop whatever strategy they could muster by dawn. And then at sunrise, she rose the rest of the men to prepare for battle.
The crows were already flocking to the carnage when we left. A field of Aveaans scattering the plains, because Lisbet couldn't spare any time to clean up the mess. She says eventually more of their men will come across it and take care of it themselves, and maybe they'll think twice about treating us so cavalierly.
But no matter. It is a race back to the border now, and the men are uncertain of whether to foster any hope or not. One of our more outspoken comrades went off on Lisbet earlier this evening—about how we should not have left behind our own men and how can she claim herself a true Beourjen when she would betray her own countrymen?—and while she was silent throughout it all, he had not even finished his tirade upon her blade slipping through his throat.
With Lisbet's strategizing, the Aveaans not quite prepared for the onslaught, and their arcanists already dealt with, Second Beourjen managed to swipe a bloody but efficient victory. A number of Aveaans managed to flee once it became clear that the Beourjens had in fact procured themselves a miracle, but Lisbet ordered her men to leave behind no enemy survivors on the field.
Auraet 16th Battle
After the Beourjens had properly buried their own comrades they began to make their way toward the Beourjen border, leaving behind any of their wounded who couldn't walk—save General Balassar.
Lisbet drove the men at a breakneck speed through the following day and into that night. From where they had been near the mountains to Beourjen was a weeklong ride, however at Lisbet's speed—had they not encountered anymore Aveaans—they would've made it in four days.
To the Border
She had always been ruthless, both as a soldier and Balassar's slighen, but it was more than that now. Her soldiers recall the black etching around her eyes, skin cracking out in gray at her knuckles. Three soldiers were killed by her own blade on the following day's journey, each for a carping tone or word spoken out of turn.
Auraet 18thWhen Lisbet declared that they would fight, the men of Second Beourjen bawked at her. When she told them that she was perfectly willing to cut down any man too weakened to fight, they got in formation with the dismal acceptance that their Slighen had rescued them from one deathbed only to bring them to another.
They were winded from riding, sore from the battle only a day before, the Beourjen border almost within reach. And the Aveaans were prepared for battled this time, with their arcanists and still a slightly bigger force.
Auraet 18th BattleDespite their fatigue and other shortcomings, the Beourjens managed to hold off the Aveaans for several hours. It was a struggle on both sides, the Beourjens losing close to a thousand soldiers and the Aveaans losing at least as many; at the sky's first tint of sun the battle still appeared to be a draw.
The bitch is insane. Absolutely mad.
But as the morning light banked over the horizon, so did the Sovrik Northguard. Bringing additional forces of over ten thousand men to aid the Beourjens, the Aveaans' numbers were shredded in practically minutes. Any fleeing soldiers were cut down and beheaded per Sovrik custom during the Border Wars.
The AftermathFollowing the battle, Second Beourjen passed back into the province of Aurouree alongside the Sovrik Northguard without incident. They spent several days at the Northguard Keep near D'Aurouren, during which time the Confederacy and Aveaan Empire would concede to a peaceful end to the Border Wars. General Balassar's fever broke within a week of the division's arrival at the keep and, after relaying to him the events that had taken place during his bout, Slighen Ryker departed swiftly and covertly in much the same way she had arrived.
It is presumed that someone managed to send message to Slighen Ryker, however who it was, and how, was never disclosed. Of course, she would've known that something was wrong through her bloodbond with General Balassar but that still wouldn't have informed her of what exactly had transpired or where the remainder of the division was.
Word to Slighen Ryker
I thought it was Ulfric himself when I awoke. Standing over me with fresh murder in her eyes, huffing in the scent of blood and feces. She asked if Balassar was still alive, how many men were left, and I stuttered blankly through it all.
Then she told me their arcanists were dead. She didn't say how. She told me we would attack tomorrow, that the Eighth Brigade was en route but that we didn't have time to wait; we needed to take out the Aveaans now in case their reinforcements arrived before ours.
Late that night, they spotted another Aveaan brigade across the plains. It was far enough away, and moving liesurely enough, that the Beourjens could've almost certainly outrun them. It was unclear if the brigade was the intended reinforcement of the Aveaans they already slaughtered or another brigade that just happened to be stationed in the area, but nonetheless Lisbet's men were not looking for an unnecessary fight.
The Night Ride
When Lisbet arrived her horse shook with exhaustion, foamed at the mouth, bled from its hooves and nose.
Now that horse is us.
Second Beourjen's unprecedented success under General Fjornin Balassar throughout the Border Wars is largely due to Balassar's equitable treatment of both common and slighen soldiers. Prior to Fjornin's entering the military, slighen mostly trained and operated distantly from the rest of their units—this was common practice in Beourjen as well as most other armies across the globe—however Fjornin's willingness to depend on Slighen Ryker and other slighen within his division allowed for strategy and tactics that many of their enemies couldn't predict and weren't prepared for.
A Word About General Balassar
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I'm still not sure how I feel about how this turned out, but I'm leaving it for now and coming back to it later, I think.