The Battle of the Heroes, or Second Northern War, is the war between the Union and the North during the book The Heroes, culminating in the climactic three day battle around the eponymous stone formation on a hilltop.
The Union and The North had been in conflict eight years before in the First Northern War, when self-proclaimed King of the Northmen, Bethod, invaded the Union in Angland. The Union eventually won the war, with help from a group of rebel Northmen led by the Dogman.
Bethod was killed at the end of that war, and the throne of the Northmen was briefly held by Logen Ninefingers, a Union ally. However, Ninefingers was soon “assassinated” by Black Dow, who usurped the throne as Protector of the North. The Dogman called Black Dow traitor for what he did to Ninefingers, and most of the Northern clans near Uffrith agreed. Moreover, King Jezal of the Union was a close friend of Ninefingers, so the Union joined the Dogman in declaring declared war on Black Dow.
In the backdrop to this, is the First of the Magi, Bayaz. Bayaz secretly controls the Union through money and the bank Valint & Balk. He and Bethod were allies for a while, but fell out when Bethod became arrogant after his early victories … or Bethod refused to submit to Bayaz’ meddling, depending on your perspective. His ulterior motives for engineering the war, is to rearrange the deck of leadership in the North, to someone more easily manipulated than Black Dow.
Bayaz is also in conflict with fellow magi, Khalul. Khalul controls the Gurkish Empire through religion as the Prophet. This conflict is centuries old, and revolves around the death of their master Juvens, and Khalul’s apprentices breaking of the Second Law.
Hostilities Open Edit
General Jalenhorm commands:
- The 1st Regiment of Cavalry under Vallimir
- The Kings Own 6th Regiment under Wetterlant
- The Kings Own 8th, 13th, and 14th Regiments of Foot
- The Rostod and Stariksa Levy Regiments
General Mitterick commands:
- The Kings Own 2nd and 3rd Regiments of Cavalry
- The Kings Own 7th, 10th, and 12th Regiments of Foot
- The Keln and Aduan Levy Regiments
Lord Governor Meed commands
- The Kings Own 4th Regiment of Cavalry
- The Kings Own 15th Regiment of Foot
- The Angland 5th Regiment of Light Cavalry
- The Angland 6th and 7th Regiment of Foot
- The Holsthorm Levy Regiment
- The Dogman’s Loyalists
Black Dow’s forces are centred round his five war-chiefs, Brodd Tenways, Cairm Ironhead, Glama Golden, Caul Reachey, and Scale, the eldest son of Bethod; Splitfoot acts as Dow’s second. Dow has also made an alliance with Stranger-Come-Knocking, chieftain of the land east of the river Crinna. Still massively outnumbered by the Union, the Northmen press almost every man and boy who can hold a sword into service.
The early months of the war have few significant engagements. Lord Marshal Kroy slowly and steadily pushes northwards, firing crops and villages in the hope of drawing the Northmen into battle; but Black Dow’s forces manoeuvre and then fall back without giving battle. The Union suffered some minor defeats, including the reverse at Quiet Ford and the ambush at the village of Barden. Lord Governor Meed later put siege to the town of Ollensand in the south of the North.
General Jalenhorm’s division is the furthest north, approaching the town of Osrung. Union scouts under Hardbread encountered Northern scouts led by Curnden Craw at a high hilltop near the town, crowned by ancient standing stones known as The Heroes. Craw eventually secured the hill for the Northmen.
In due course, Bayaz showed up in the Union camp; though officially retired, he has come to “observe” Lord Marshal Kroy defeat the Northmen. He explained that the Closed Council is impatient for Kroy to engage Black Dow in a decisive battle, rather than continue his cautious approach. He had also brought a new invention of some rudimentary cannons to test.
The Lord Marshal recalls Meed from the siege of Ollensand, and move all Union forces north at haste, converging on the valley of Osrung. Black Dow had good reconnaissance of the Union movements through his alliance with Gurkish agent Ishri, and recognising the land around the valley of Osrung as good ground for a battle, moves his forces on Osrung also.
There are few major casualties on either side in this early stage of the war.
Day One Edit
The lead Regiments in General Jalenhorm’s division reached the valley of Osrung, causing the Northmen scouts on the Heroes to fall back. The Union take up positions in the key locations in the valley; the Thirteenth Regiment under Colonel Vinkler and a few of the Dogman’s men in the town of Osrung in the east, the Sixth and the Rostod Regiments on the Heroes in the centre, and the Fourteenth Regiment just north of the Old Bridge in the west. Nevertheless, the remaining Regiments in Jalenhorm’s division are caught up on the bad roads north, with Mitterick and Meed’s divisions further behind and entangled with them.
Under cover of the thick forest north of the valley of Osrung, which hadn’t been scouted by the Union, the Northmen approached is great numbers with a well-planned assault. Caul Reachey’s forces leads off, moving towards Osrung, carrying all the Northmen standards to make it look like their big effort. Jalenhorm falls for this bluff and sends the Rostod Regiment from the Heroes to meet Reachey’s Northmen, leaving the stones weaker held. Once the Rostod Regiment were between the hill and the town, Golden’s cavalry catch them in the open and rout them.
Meantime, Ironhead and Tenways’ forces, including Black Dow himself, make the proper effort on the Heroes, and comprehensively breaking the Sixth. As the Union flee south to the river, Golden’s cavalry follow through and ride them down. Golden is eventually stopped at the river, when Bremer dan Gorst leads a cavalry charge with half the First Regiment; the other half of the First Regiment had been sent through the marshes on the far west.
In the east, Reachey’s forces breached the gate of Osrung, though the Thirteenth withdraw in good order, with only a few casualties. In the west, Scale’s forces take the Old Bridge, though again the Fourteenth withdraw and hold the southern bank.
At the end of the day, the Northmen had pushed the Union back to the south of the river, all across the line. There were some Northmen casualties, but Union casualties may well be close to a thousand dead, perhaps the same number of wounded, and many more captured by the Northmen.
Day Two Edit
The Northmen were well entrenched across the north of the river, with all the best ground in the valley. Black Dow orders Reachey’s forces to garrison the houses and hold Osrung in the east, Ironhead to hold the shallow and the orchard in the centre, and Scale to hold the Old Bridge in the west, with part of his force forming a second line behind Clail’s Wall under Calder, Bethod’s younger son. Golden and Tenways were kept in reserve, Golden between Reachey and Ironhead in the east, and Tenways on the Heroes behind Scale and Ironhead.
Lord Governor Meed and Mitterick’s division were now in position in the valley of Osrung, Meed on the east flank to assault Osrung, and Mitterick on the west flank to force their way over the Old Bridge. A battalion of the First Regiment is put under Mitterick’s command on the far west, through the marshes. Jalenhorm spends the day regrouping in the centre, re-equipping his division, looking to the wounded, restoring morale, and imposing discipline.
As fighting begins, in the east, Lord Governor Meed orders all his Regiments into the attack on Osrung. The Union get over the fence in three or four places, into the south of the town in numbers, and eventually take the gate. The Northmen flee across the new bridge, and setup a three man deep shield wall at the north end of the span. The Union setup a double row of archers on the south bank of the river, and peppered the Northmen with arrows. When heavily armoured Union men charge across the new bridge, the shield wall breaks, and Union men flood into the north of the town. However, Reachey launched a savage counterattack, and catches the Union bogged down in the houses and twisting lanes, retaking the northern half of the town.
Meanwhile, in Lord Governor Meed’s headquarters in an inn south of the town, a Northmen raiding party appears from the thick forest in the east, led by Stranger-Come-Knocking. With Meed having committed all his men to the assault, the headquarters has little unprotection. The Union men are slaughtered including Meed, and Finree dan Brock and Aliz dan Brint are taken captive by the savages. Eventually, the Dogman’s men drive these Northmen off.
In the west, General Mitterick’s first direct assault over the bridge fails; after the Tenth Regiment crosses the bridge, Scale's men met them with a hail of arrows before the Union could find their order on the far side, then spring from hidden trenches to cutting them down. Their second attempt by the Keln Regiment using rafts also fails, when they misjudge the strength of the river current. The third assault by the Seventh and Second Regiment is the hardest so far. As the assault is about to falter, Bremer dan Gorst throws himself into the melee, and when Scale is “killed”, his men are finally broken. No support arrived in time from either Calder or Tenways’ reserves. Calder had found out about the Union First Regiment in the marshes, and feared they would attack and flank them, and Tenways thought Calder was just being a coward; ironically Colonel Vallimir, who commanded the First, had no instructions to attack after the orders were lost.
During the day, Bayaz tests his cannons with the two old Adepti, Denka and Saurizin. They hit the standing stones on the hill on their second attempt, killing Dow’s second Splitfoot and inflicting considerable injury and confusion. Bayaz orders the cannons to continue firing, against the will of the Adepti, until they all break, injuring dozens of Union men.
At the end of the day, the Union had made gains at great cost, having captured the south of Osrung in the east, and a bridgehead on the north bank of the Old Bridge in the west. Later, Finree is released from captivity by Black Dow with a few dozen Union prisoners, with an offer of peace. However, Bayaz insists on continuing fighting when he learns that the Gurkish agent Ishri is helping Dow. Northmen and Union casualties were equally high of day two.
Day Three Edit
Black Dow orders Reachey’s forces to remain defending Osrung in the east, and Ironhead to hold the shallow and the orchard in the centre. Calder and Tenways are to protect against assault from the Old Bridge in the west from behind Clail’s Wall. Golden would again be kept in reserve.
In the west, Mitterick moves his Second and Third Regiments of cavalry across the river, ready for the attack. Calder orders a raid on the Union camp so that he can taunt the enemy with their own stolen standards from Clail’s Wall. Mitterick falls for the taunts and orders the cavalry charge immediately, without scouting the ground properly, or waiting for full light. He charges half his divisions to their deaths when the horses hit the pits and ditches that Calder’s men had dug in the field in the night; the Union cavalry that do make it to the wall are slaughtered. Now, Mitterick commits his Regiments of Foot. A fierce melee develops near Clail’s Wall. As the Northmen are near breaking point, Tenways commits his men, and eventually drive off the Union. In the far west, the First Regiment in the marshes eventually do charge, but find the wall has been abandoned by the Northmen.
In the centre, General Jalenhorm, meanwhile, has reorganised his division, augmented by the levy regiments from Mitterick’s, and is prepared for an attack upon the Heroes in overwhelming force. The Eighth and Thirteenth Foot and the Stariksa Regiment lead off across the shallows. The Twelfth and the Aduan Volunteers form a second wave. Then, the remnants of the Rostod and the Sixth Regiments follow in reserve. The Ironhead’s men fall back to the orchard for cover, but soon flee back to the Children and beyond, as Dogman’s men with Jalenhorm shout “The Bloody-Nine”. After capturing the Children, Jalenhorm, desperate for redemption, insists on continuing the charge up to the Heroes, despite Golden’s cavalry entering the fight and delaying the second wave. The Northmen provide much heavier resistance on the Heroes. Despite the efforts of Bremer dan Gorst, the Northmen eventually drive them off, leaving the hill scattered with the dead of both sides.
In the east, with Meed dead, Colonel Harod dan Brock takes charge of the bridge in Osrung. The Union get over the new bridge again, and Reachey is hard pressed, fighting street by street. In the end, the Gurkish agent Ishri set a surprise, and causes a great explosion in Osrung, leaving both buildings and men shattered.
After the carnage of the day, Lord Marshal Kroy decides that he cannot countenance another attack. Kroy sends a flag of parley to sues for the peace that Black Dow had offered the previous day, despite Bayaz’ anger.
After the battle, Black Dow and Calder agree to a duel in the circle, and Dow is killed when Caul Shivers intervenes in the dual. Calder’s elder brother Scale becomes the King of the Northmen, when he is revealed to have survived the battle on the Old Bridge on the second day. Bayaz had intended for Calder to take the throne of the North, but Calder can’t bring himself to kill his brother.
After the war, Lord Marshal Kroy resigns his role, and General Mitterick becomes the new Lord Marshal. Colonel Opker takes over Mitterick’s division, and Colonel Felnigg takes over Jalenhorm’s division; both being promoted to General.
In the peace talks it is agreed that a new Protectorate region within The Union is created in the southern part of The North, south of the river Cusk, under the rule of Dogman. This will act as a buffer zone between Angland and The North. It contains the city of Uffrith.
The human casualties in the war for the Union were massive. Notable losses include:
- Lieutenant Kerns killed in the early phase of the war
- Captain Lasmark killed on the first day, between the Heroes and Osrung
- Sergeant Gaunt killed on the first day, on the Heroes
- Major Culfer killed on the first day, near the Heroes
- Colonel Wetterlant killed on the first day, north of the shallows
- Lord Governor Meed killed on the second day, at his headquarters
- Captain Hardrick killed on the second day, near Meed’s headquarters
- Colonel Vinkler killed on the third day, near the Heroes
- General Jalenhorm killed on the third day, on the Heroes
The human losses for The North were also huge, and the town of Osrung was decimated. Notable casualties include:
- Athroc killed in the early phase of the war on the Heroes
- Lightsleep killed on the first day, between the Heroes and Osrung
- Sutt Brittle killed on the first day, between the Heroes and Osrung
- Agrick killed on the first day, on the Heroes
- Brack killed on the first day, after the battle on the Heroes
- Hengul Feathers killed on the first day, north of the shallows
- Crossfeet killed on the first day, north of the shallows
- Splitfoot killed on the second day, at the Heroes by Bayaz’ cannons
- Reft killed on the second day, in Osrung by Beck
- Colving killed on the second day, in Osrung
- Stodder killed on the second day, in Osrung
- Brait killed on the second day, in Osrung
- Bregga killed on the second day, in Meed’s headquarters
- Saluc killed on the second day, in Meed’s headquarters by Stranger-Come-Knocking
- Curly killed on the third day, north of the shallows
- Irig killed on the third day, north of the shallows
- Whirrun of Bligh killed on the third day, on the Heroes
- Drofd killed on the third day, on the Heroes
- Black Dow killed in a duel after the battle
- Brodd Tenways killed after the duel with Black Dow