As promised... and strangely enough Moon related too!
Cromon of Atlantis
A legend of Celtic Atlantis.
The moon crept over the mountainside, slipping over shadows, trees and glades. Cromon sat on his horse, wondering if his meeting with the legendary Conan would be a bloody affair or amicable.
Soon the moon would be at the zenith, a sort of midnight noon, the shadow of the cross of Cromm which marked the northern border of his kingdom, was slowly receeding as the moon crept up into the night sky, stars were shining with an almost blinding light. Cromon had never seen them so bright on a moonlit night. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a strange orange glow on the horizon, almost like a forest fire a day's ride away. Puzzled Cromon turned to watch the glow, then he saw the most amazing sight his 27 summers had ever seen. A pale orange disc was rising like a second moon but only bigger, it seemed to stretch from south to north across the whole horizon.
The horses started to dance as they also became aware of the new heavenly body rising up over the horizon. The men all gave a gasp of fear. "It is the Destroyer of Worlds my lord Cromon" said Haldobar the dark one. "I have heard the soothsayer speak of this thing, it comes without warning to crush the stars and moon. Every three hundred and fifty generations it visits the earth to smite us lest we forget our place in the universe."
Cromon was now completely entralled as the new face in the sky rose from the horizon, it had grown smaller it seemed, could it be as Haldobar had said? Then this was a time to forget his quarrel with the northern kingdom. If it was a destroyer then it was time for all men to stand together.
As Cromon thought these things a cry from one of the sentries rose up. "Lord Cromon, I see many hoses, I think Lord Conan approaches." With that a shout from the approching hosemen was heard, " Hail lord Cromon, we come in peace"
a Few moments later the horsemen came into view with a giant of a man leading them. The leader stopped short of Cromon and spoke with a deep sonorous voice. "Cromon it is I, Conan Lord of Cimmeria, how goes it with you on the eve of Nathali"
Nathali? a Sudden chill ran down Cromons back, of course the legend! How could he have forgotten. Nathali was the story of winged creatures that lived on a great disk in the sky, they visited the earth from time to time to collect slaves, or so the legend said. Could this object in the sky be Nathali?
"Hail Conan lord of the Mighty Cimmeria, have you ever seen what my eyes are now beholding?"
"No, Lord Cromon of the Powerful Atlantis I have never seen so wonderous a thing as what we now behold. If it is the Nathali then we have no time to quarrel but must join hands to protect our people at once, a war council must be called at once I fear." With these word spoken Conan turned and insructed one of his men to ride to the City of Cimmoron to call all the nobles and generals to the war council. "I think the council should be convened in Atlantis, Cromon, it is but only a few hours hard ride. We should prepare while we wait for my councillors to arrive."
"Aye I concur Conan, let us proceed with haste."
With that Cromon turned his horse and dug in his spurs, "Come noble warriors let us return to our City of Gold and prepare for war"
a Great cloud of dust rose up into the night sky behind the collumn of horsemen, lit up by the light of the moon and the new body, the light was no longer a soft pale blue moonlight but a eerie orange glow. The disc of the interloper in the night sky was rapidly approching the silver disc of the moon, soon it would engulf it. Cromon was dreading this as the orange glow was quite alien to his senses. Once again he felt the tingle of apprehension slide down his spine like an icy drop of rain.
From afar one could hear the uproar in the Great city of Atlantis, on approaching the gate of the city Cromon realized with dread that the whole population of the city was awake and agitated by the new visitor in the night sky. As the sentinel's of the gate saw the warriors they let the great drawbridge down to let the foam flecked hores and riders into the citadel.
Cromon leaped from his mount and raced up the stairs to the door of the Golden palace. Pandamonium was beginning to set in as he flung open the doors of the Royal terrace overlooking the great Plaza of assembly.
"Hornblowers, announce the presence of the Lord of Atlantis, gather the people to hear the words of their Ruler" shouted Haldobar to the white faced hornblowers who had rushed up with the entourage assembling on the terrace.
Within seconds people started to gather on the white marble covered Plaza, soon it seemed that the plaza was a heaving mass of humanity akin to a swarm of ants. Cromon raised his arms up in a gesture of calm. "Citizens of Atlantis, you have all seen what I have seen in the sky. I and my councillors wil soon be gathering in a war council together with our neighbours of Cimmeria, as I speak Conan is waiting in the Great hall to council with us about the apparition in our sky."
A whisper ran through the masses as soon as Cromon had finished speaking, but before calm could take hold a gasp of wonder rose from a thousand mouth's. Cromon looked up and saw to his horror that the disk in the sky had a gaping black void in the centre. What could this mean. As he watched he saw with amazement the disc of the moon start to appear again. The new orb in the sky was clearly not a destroyer of moons as the legends had said. If so it had to be a object of the making by some form of creature and if so Cromon knew that any creature that could fabricate such a wonderous and perilous machination would be a formidable foe, but even so, they could be killed if needs be.
"My people, it may be that what we see may look more powerful than us, just remember this! We are a mighty nation of warriors and if there be creatures that breathe and eat, and they proceed from the sky visitor we will be ready for them, if they show us evil intent we will slay them, if not we will greet them with caution. Go now to prepare for war or peace, be not fearfull as we are not a nation of fools."
With these words Cromon waved to the crowd and turned to go to the Great hall of assembly where the war councillors where waiting for him.
"Councillors! Please come to order" Cromon shouted as the doors of the hall closed behind him. "We are still waiting for the councillors of Lord Conan to arrive, but in the while we have to prepare for the threat in our skies"
Conan stood up and asked if any one had a suggestion as to what may be expected, as he finished the Mage Merolon spoke up " Lord Cromon and Lord Conan, I wish to excuse myself as to avail myself the time to read the legends of Nathali" Cromon waved towards the door and replied " O Merolon go and read with haste and return as soon as you can with any light on the subject you may find.", Merolon hastily departed to his chamber in the Southern Tower.
Haldobar spoke up, "While Merolon is doing his reading we should come up with a contingency plan Lord Cromon. I think we should consider moving the women and children to the higlands of Cimmeria, there are many caves where a great many people can be concealed.". "a Ecellent plan Haldobar" replied Conan, "I will do the same with my people." Cromon nodded. "So be it, Haldobar, you must go now and arrange this, but be careful not to cause any more panic than what is already prevailing." With that Haldobar excused himself and left the Hall with his leutenants in haste.
"If only we knew wat form the skymen would take and the tactics they employ, it would make our planning a lot easier" Conan commented. "As far as I can recall the legend they use some form of aerial contraption to attack and capture the slaves", said Kornam the master of arms of the palace."I wonder if the new crosbows would be effective to use against such attack my Lord"
"How many men at arms can use this crosbow? And how far can it shoot?" asked Conan. "Kornam, get one of the crosbow archers to demonstrate immediately." Cromon ordered. A few moments later 13 crosbowmen ran into the hall, a few clicks where heard then the swish as the bolts flew across the hall to embedd themselves in the great beam above Conan. The distance was almost 200 yards. "We have specialized about 3000 men in this weapon Lord Conan, does that answer your questions?" cried Kornam with obvious pride.
Conan looked at Cromon, "If I knew of this I wonder if I would have risked coming here, this is a formidable weapon! I suggest they be deployed on the walls and roofs of the highest buildings, as this would be an effective weapon to use against an attack from the air."
Cromon stood up "Kornam let it be done, deploy the men immediately. Conan let us retire to the armoury, I believe we should order the armourers to make haste in preparing more crosbow's and bolts."
Attack & Repulsion
Cromon was contemplating the vast armoury, 240 weaponmasters were at work with their apprentices and labourers, amid smoke and sparks the air was filled with the roar of furnaces and the clang of hammers and other tools being weilded with urgency. Gesturing across the vast workshop Cromon spoke"As you see Lord Conan, the work is proceeding well, we should have plenty of weapons by nightfall." Conan replied "Aye my friend, so it seems, every moment here amazes me more, I did not know that Atlantis was so advanced in weaponry, you surely have the best weaponmasters of all nations. That flame thrower is an impressive weapon and I believe will be very useful in the event of an attack" Cromon smiled and felt a warm glow of pride in the expertise of his workmen and mages, turning he motioned Conan to follow. "Shall we proceed to my chambers for a meal, it seems as if no attack is imminent at this hour, all the preperations have given me an appetite."
Just as Cromon, Conan and the rest of the entourage were approaching the great doorway of the palace the skies seemed to darken as the first wave of fliers from the ship came down to attack the fortifications of Atlantis. The craft swooped down from sky with a scarecly audible swooshing sound, each one was as big as a two horsed chariot with batlike wings.
"Prepare to fight noble warriors" Cromon shouted as the first of the fliers passed over the outer wall of Atlantis, a stream of bolts rose upward from the defenders on the wall, but they had miscalculated the speed of the flier, but as fate would have it the next flier was directly in line of the falling bolts. A roar rose from the watchers as the second flier seemed to falter and then plunge downward towards where Cromon and his comrades stood.
The next fliers were also able to penetrate the defenced with little damage, but as they veered overhead they released objects from their bellies, the first struck the roof above Cromon and exploded with a loud bang and sent pieces of masonry flying through the air, Cromon felt a sharp pain between his shoulderblades but it was Conan who had run full tilt into him to pull him under cover of an archway.
"Cromon let us try the flame throwers" shouted Conan over the din of more exploding missiles.
Within seconds the first wave of fliers had passed over and some were not flying as well as before due to the marksmanship of the Atlantean crossbowmen on the city walls, unfortunatley the missiles from the fliers had caused some caualties both on the wall and in the city itself. Cromon hurried to where the first flier lay in a crumpled heap, it was made from some strange black fabric and a curious riblike structure with a tube running down the centre, inside two figures lay prostrate and bleeding from numerous crossbow bolts, the central tube was also riddled and it was smoking as if on fire.
After what seemed like ages the first set of flame throwers were set up on the wall, just as the second wave of fliers came streaking down from the sky, with a great roar the flame throwers sent their balls of fire streaking towards the fliers which at once tried to avoid the flaming balls of pitch and napthalene, some were struck, others came within range of the crossbowmen and the sky was suddenly filled with fire and falling fliers, the tide had been stemmed. Clearly the attackers from the sky had underestimated the weapons and capacity of the defenders of Atlantis.
While cromon contemplated the brief but decisive battle the sun started to set, hopefully the aggressors would respect the dark and not attack at night.
The Mage Merolon approached Cromon and Conan with something clear and glittering in his hand. "This fell from the sky after one of the wounded skydevils hit the skyship my Lord. I have reason to believe that we may have found another chink in their armour. Seing that the fliers are such flimsy contraptions and clearly no match for our new crossbow's and flame throwers"
Cromon looked at his friend and advisor, the wisest and most knowlegeable of the Mages of Atlantis. "What is it o wise one?"
"It is Ice my lord, frozen water protects the ship of the sky, I believe if we could somehow melt it we would be able to cause some damage. But for that we first have to prepare and wait for the sun to rise my Lord, I have already started men on stripping the gold from the West palace O lord Cromon, we have to fashion a mirror or mirrors to focus the rays of the sun on the skyship to melt the ice"
The rays of the sun struck the thousand's of polished golden shields, and with a shout the warriors pointed the reflected light onto the belly of the behemoth in the sky above them. The great craft was clearly unaware of the early morning assault by the forces below, after a few minutes a patch of the ship began to change colour and a cloud seemed to form where the reflected sunlight was focused then a loud crack was heard and a massive piece of ice tore from the vessel and hurtled to the ground. The earth shuddered as it struck the mountainside miles from the city.
A wave of fliers was lauched by the ship but the sunlight had clearly struck a weak spot on the ship, smoke was seen pouring from the place where the light shone on the hull. The fliers could not effectivly do much damage to the shieldbearers, Cromon had ordered that crossbowmen and flame throwers be spread among the thousands bearing shields. The shields protected both the bearer and bowmen as well as protecting against the flame throwers, even still the attack was not without some casualties, however the fliers were decimated, some even crossed the focuspoint and exploded as the rays from the shieldbearers hit them. Clearly the fight was not going as the intruders had intended.
While all this was going on the skyship was losing more of the ice shielding and the sunlight had started a fire on the vessel, the heat was melting the ice and a shower of water was falling from the ship in the sky. Suddenly a massive explosion ripped through the air, a great hole appeared in the skyship, it seemmed as if it had started to move in a southerly direction, clearly the attack from the ground was totally unexpected and unprecedented. The skyship was now no longer directly over the city but a mile or two south of the city, but the shieldbearers kept up the barrage of sunlight as the mage Merolon had instructed.
What happened next was both unexpected and of deadly consequence, a sheet of flame shot out where the sunlight had been focussed and a thunderous roar was heard from the skyship, then the great vessel seemed to quiver before exploding in a blinding flash that seemed last forever. The thunderclap that followed blew the most people off their feet and seemed to lift the very ground. The skyship was now disintegrating in the sky and thousands of pieces were raining down on the land as far as Cromon could see southward. A huge cloud had also formed and it boiled as if alive.
Victory & Destruction
Merolon came running towards him. "My lord forgive me for I have caused the end of the world!" "What do you mean O wize one?" Cromon asked. "The idea was to damage the ship not destroy it Lord Cromon, now the ice will cause a flood!" The meaning of the mage's words caused Cromon to slap his head in a gesture of dispair. The fact struck Cromon like a fist to the stomach, Of course, such a vessel, almost as big as the moon, or so it seemed, would contain many tons of ice and ice would melt into water. Thank goodness the women an children and all non combatants had been sent to the highlands of Cimmeria before.
Cromon realized it was time to run, there was no time to even clear out the treasurehouse or the mage's store of writings, the evacuation had to start before the melting ice caused a flood. "Warriors of Atlantis, I fear we have won the war but lost the battle for the city, depart all of you to the Highlands of Cimmeria as fast as you can." That was the last decree Cromon would ever utter in the Great City of Atlantis.
Slowly at first, then with a roar that grew in intensity the water came rushing down every mountainside. Cromon, together with Conan and all their mages and officers stood and watched as the water started to fill all the creeks and rivers, soon they would start overflowing, Atlantis would be covered. Cromon spurred his horse and quitely wiped a tear from his eye. It was time to depart to the Kingdom of his newfound friend and neighbour Conan.
Several hours later, turning in his saddle in the pass to Cimmeria, Cromon could not believe his eyes, for miles and miles as far as the eye could see the glittering ice lay and in between the wreckage off the invaders skyship glinted with a blue hue. Even now the buzzards were circling to peck at the remaning corpses that had not been washed away.
A wind soon started blowing with a chill never felt before by anyone in the departing party.
Cromon gazed at the vast expanse of water, where once the mounains of his kingdom touched the clouds, a island or two were still to be seen. So much had happened in so short a time and the World would never be the same again. Cromon was amazed that so few people had been killed by the deluge caused by the destruction of the ship of the sky, but he knew that the effects of their victory would be with him and the world for ages to come. Their world was no longer a world of desert but one of water. Atlantis was no more but together with Conan they would build a new city and a new empire in the new world.
Hopefully the visitors of the skyship would never send another to investigate the disapearance of their vessel. If they did the world would be prepared as the mages were even now recording what had happended, it would however take many generations to rebuild the knowledge that had been stored in the ancient library of Atlantis, all lost in the deluge.