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1210 RE-- The Battle of Sultan's Road

Date: August 17th, 1210 RE
Outcome: Victory for Demeyen Bishak
Belligerents: Demeyen Bishak, ghuls.
Bishak Commanders: Rahala Sevast, Kara Ihtiras.
Strength: Bishak: 57 warriors
               Ghuls: 30 Recently Fed (Sated) Ghuls, 50 in various states of diminished, 100 feral. All ghul numbers are approximate.
Casualties:  Bishak: 3 dead, 20 wounded to varying degrees, 7 disabled (limbs consumed).
               Ghuls: Unknown, perhaps 70-75% dead or wounded.

In the 38 years since the fall of Khodar-i-Gesh, the border between that land and the Caliphate of Dusk has required constant vigilance, to prevent the Ghuls from encroaching any further into civilized lands. To that end, Mezcaal Ortyah, a former Cavalry Captain of the Sultanate, and Captain Ramzayn Bhaali, an Officer from Bazmel in the Sirkaye Province, founded Demeyen Bishak, The Knives of the Border (also known as Dinyez Bishak, The Welcoming Knives, satirically), in 1188 RE. Membership in the Bishak is difficult and dangerous; it is perhaps natural that the majority of those who join willingly are either former Sultanate, from the Sirkaye Province which borders the former Sultanate, or (previously), from the southernmost tip of the Emirate. Punitive assignment to the Bishak from other parts of Akathia is not unheard of, though its leadership originally frowned on the idea; those having chosen such duty having a certain amount of pride in their office. They, after all, are the the last bastion of defense Akathia has against the Ghuls. All the more since the fall of the Emirate of Rahaal to the Marrashi.

None exemplify this ideal of pride in national defense more than the current Commander of the Bishak, Rahala Sevast. She became Second in Command at the very beginning of 1207 RE, after the ninth Co-Commander, Captain Zhila Mhotar was killed in the Tazuj-Qalbas Incident, and full Commander after Captain Ortyah (amazingly enough) retired in 1209. She appointed one of her warriors, Kara Ihtiras, her Second in Command shortly after. At four years, Sevast has held the longest Command role in the history of the Bishak, next to Captain Ortyah.

As one might imagine, a career in the Bishak is frequently very short, and promotion a potential death sentence-- or at the very least, it means that soon you will be fighting enemies who think that it is, or they are you. Most unsettling. Further, while by and large, the Ghuls are sated with the huge amount of dead within the borders of Khodar-i-Gesh, not a few of them are now possessed, at least partially, of the nature of the Akathian warriors who held them off for so long. As a result, they have a certain amount of military acumen, and plan some frighteningly clever sorties into the Caliphate. As one might imagine, not a few of these engagements end poorly for both sides, or in Pyrrhic victories, as the ghuls are by and large more interested in capturing live prisoners for later consumption than in outright slaughter. As such, most of the deeds of the Bishak merit little comment by the standards of those who serve therein. The most impressive victory of the Bishak against the Ghuls in recent memory is the Battle of Sultan's Road in 1210 RE.

Sultan's Road is actually a river which flows the length of the Sultanate, enters the Caliphate at Surmek, flows north through Sirkaye Province and splits at Bazmel. Captain Sevast and her company had put camp south of Surmek for a couple of days, upon report from their two of their scouts, one of which being a Homunculus called Jonty; the other a Desert Screamer named Caracal, that there were Ghuls massing downriver, near the ruined Sultanate town of Ghilat. The Ghuls being unusually organized, Caracal deduced that they had command of some sort-- probably one of the Ghuls having consumed a particularly competent officer. It looked as though the ghuls (about 150) had refit a bunch of small river vessels and were planning to come upriver to invade-- probably to try to take Surmek. Jonty marked his eyes like a ghul and snuck into their encampment to get a better idea of how many of them were...fed, so to speak, and how many were bestial.

The thing about Ghuls, is that while they can occasionally be snuck up upon, they can also smell food as keenly as you might smell a steak dinner in the process of cooking. Jonty managed to sneak close enough to find a stockpile of arrows, all fiendishly covered in blade poisons, and destroyed a number of them before he was caught and dragged alive into the encampment, where the ghuls began carving pieces off of him to feed, apparently intending to make him last. Nonetheless, Caracal had most of the necessary information and alerted the rest of the Bishak as to what had happened. Giving the homunculus up for lost, Sevast and Ihtiras came up with a plan.

Working quickly, they built several crude magonels and arrow traps, the tips of several arrows enhanced through the work of two of their Ritualists, Berk Acar Acahan and Jak Kovago, along the banks between Surmek and Ghilat, hiding them behind piled scrub. As night fell, they saw the shadows of what looked like several merchant punts, floating up the river towards Surmek. In the darkness, the Bishak loosed several arrows, followed with fire arrows, taking the Ghuls completely by surprise. The Ghul Commander lept from the lead punt, snarling epithets in what sounded curiously like the Marrashi tongue, and swimming for the shore, avoiding the arrows with uncanny aptitude. Sevast rushed to the shore to meet the Ghul Commander, who lept for her, spear at the ready. Second in Command Ihtiras and another warrior, Farad al Sahin, rushed to help her, fighting a couple of other Ghuls who had varying levels of Sanspire training. Slaying his opponent swiftly, al Sahin attacked the commander, distracting him long enough for Commander Sevast to catch her breath, and the two of them took their enemy down.

In the meantime, Ihtiras fought the other Ghul nearly to a standstill, but fell to a sidelong spear-thrust, at which point the Ghul, very near to ferality, fell upon her and began to feast on a limb. al Sahin and Sevast cut the ghul down as it ate, and managed to pull Ihtiras to safety. Once she was deposited with the rest of the wounded, under the care of the ritualist, Kovago, they and the standing Bishak took rafts out to the center of the lake, boarded the punts, and slaughtered the rest of the leaderless ghuls.

While the main battle went on on the river, Caracal and a few others snuck back towards Ghilat, to see what it would take to clear the town of remaining Ghuls. The town was largely empty, with only a few ghuls left. Much to their surprise, they discovered Jonty, bound and missing pieces, but still alive. With arrow and spear they slew his most immediate guards and rescued him, carrying him back downriver, towards the place where the Bishak had launched their attack. By this time, what few Ghuls remained were swimming or running away back towards Khodar-i-Gesh. Although the Bishak were not able to report a complete slaughter of the whole bunch, they nonetheless counted it a resounding victory. In the aftermath of this battle, Ihtiras and Jonty (at the very least) were granted leave-- Jonty in particular, as it is all but certain that one or more Ghuls now prowled possessed of his skills.

For the past couple of years, considering, it has not been uncommon for warriors on leave from the Bishak to be sent to Marath Suvla.