Battle of the Warren
In Words We trust (We trust!)The Battle of the Warren was the definitive conflict of the Second Word War. A magical battle of epic proportions, it decided the fate of the Realm and staved off a second zombie apocalypse.
By the power of the Holy Queen of Buns (Hail words!)
For the glory of the Tome
To win this epic battle, in her power we must trust to set us free
In Words We Trust!
First Word WarIn the First Word War (2020), the world's last known remaining literomancers, who were engaged in an annual friendly competition known as the Game of Tomes, suddenly found that those who had been defeated were rising from the dead. Now known as Tome Zombies, they fed upon the Literomancy and magical energy of living literomancers (though often through more visceral means.) Accompanied by a horde of "common" undead, they ravaged the world, leading to the rapid collapse of known society. Their appearance may have been linked to the sudden reappearance of The Iron Tome, a mythical literomantic artifact. The Tome was rumoured to have the power to alter reality, limited only by the imagination and literary prowess of a literomancer who inscribed stories in its pages. As the only House Leader who survived the fall of her House, Sable Aradia, forever known afterwards as "Sable Bright-Eyes" and "The Queen Who Knelt," stood with The Cosmic Kraken, and supported Coffee Quills' claim to the Iron Tome. Once used to resurrect as many of the dead as possible, including all the Tome Zombies, the Tome was sealed in a vault deep in the Zafforza Trench , and guarded by the elite guard of House Mollusca, the Inkies . The world began to rebuild, with most of civilization now reorganized into a feudal arrangement with one or another of the literomantic Houses.
Second Word WarIn October 2021, Zombie Summoning Totems appeared near the Great Houses' seats of power, each implicating another House. The Second Word War broke out soon after. It was still a couple of weeks before the literomancers, now called Tome Knights, discovered that the Iron Tome had gone missing from the Molluscan vault, and a new Night Monarch, leader and source of the Undead Horde, was at large. Though suspicions and politics divided them, eventually the Tome Knights came together under the banner of House Lapin, and sought refuge in The Warren, House Lapin's base of operations. Calling themselves the Grand Alliance, they combined their strengths to make a last, desperate stand against the Undead. The new Night Monarch, AuthorGoddess, sent her considerable forces against the combined might of the Realm on November 30, 2021. Among them were Erin Righ, the previous Night Monarch and Sable's husband, and Lord GalaWight, heir to House Meles and, secretly, Sable Aradia's son.
The Grand AllianceSable Aradia maintained a war council that involved all of the House Leaders and their military commanders. Limited in the way that a feudal army is limited, she did her best to assure that not only could the Houses play to their own strengths, but they would be commanded by someone they were loyal to.
Exterior DefensesThe defensive perimeter consisted of magical wards, followed by a minefield of explosives that was established by a task force working under Commander DM Stretch of the Owsla. After that, a dozen fire elementals summoned by Eli Kwake, Great Flame of House Incendium, were charged to immediately attack any Undead creature that broke through the perimeter. Following the wave of fire elementals, the more combative Werebeasts* were to be the first to cross claws and teeth with the enemy; namely, the Sauropodans and the larger Werecats of House Felis, with House Kitsune laying in wait in hiding to snap at the enemy's heels when they came near. Werebadgers of House Meles would provide the next line of defense, to shield the combat literomancers who stood directly on the mound of the Warren itself. Because Sable would be commanding the battle with the combat literomancers, James Woodwright, Captain of the Owsla was also present, standing in Sable's defense, and Owsla Commander DM Stretch placed himself among the defenders of the mound. The Werebats and giant Sauropodans would provide forward observation and scouting. Once the enemy closed in, the Bats would then be used as aerial bombers, staging from the enormous tree at the top of the mound. Ammunition was piled in its lower branches, ostensibly out of reach of the zombies.
Civilians and non-combat literomancers were sequestered in the large central chamber of the Warren, known as the Honeycomb, along with the Lapin literomantic library and as much food as they could fit. A few shallowly dug side chambers also served as temporary larders.
They were surrounded by the House Lapin Guard, commanded by Kitoypoy in all of the runs, especially the secret entrances, in case escape became necessary. Each run was also guarded by at least one non-combat literomancer, protected by magical wards and bulwarks. When possible, these Tome Knights were drawn from Meles or Lapin, being best suited to underground defense, and aided by Werecats of House Felis placed strategically in cubbies and dark corners. The primary escape run was defended by Gwenefre , the Owsla's newest recruit, and a literomancer of note.
The underground lake access to the Warren, which had been established to create a habitat for the Molluscan refugees, was guarded by the living members of House Mollusca, and the sole surviving member of House Tiki, the Wizard of GoT, since other Tome Knights were not suited to the aquatic environment.
The Tome Knights were also aided by a number of Litwalkers scattered among the other divisions where best suited.
The Great Flame, a novice combat literomancer, opted to remain ensconced in the Honeycomb, where they could sing their incantations about the battle as a whole with little risk of interruption. They were defended by Isaac A Thom , leader of House Ceapaire.
*Strength and Casualty statistics include the Werebeasts under Tome Knights or Tome Zombies.
The Undead Horde
AuthorGoddess was no fool. Not knowing much about military science, she deferred to Erin Righ the Nite Qing to inform the deployment of her troops -- with one exception. Erin and Lord GalaWight were personally charged with the killing or capture of the Mother of Bunnies.
The Nite Monarq was fully aware of her friend Sable's weaknesses, one of them being a soft spot for the people she loved and trauma around being hurt by her loved ones. She knew that Sable would be especially vulnerable to their attacks. This freed her up to concentrate on the most formidable literomancers on the field; especially Siobhan the Writer.
Her aquatic Undead, former Molluscans, would have to take on the aquatic defenders of the Alliance, and hold them until the rest of the Horde could break through the Warren and pin them between two forces. Fortunately for the living, they lacked both of the Hammerheads , the undead sharks that had once been House Tiki's elite guard. Erin, with AuthorGoddess' approval, had left them to hold the Zafforza Trench.
Between previous familiarity prior to the Word Wars, and intel that Princess Melody had unintentionally provided, the Nite Qing had a good idea of the Warren's layout at the time of the siege. Being Sable's estranged husband, he also had a sense of his wife's thought processes.
The first wave of the Undead would be a massive force of ordinary zombies, who would overwhelm the initial perimeter defenses, followed by a number of bio-engineered zombie mutants acquired from The Company , aided by about half of Lord GalaWight's summoned demons.
Erin sent Lord GalaWight around to the secret entrances, commanding a force of half of his conjured demons and a third of the Tome Zombies.
The Warren is located beneath the ground in a large hillock in the middle of an open grassland valley near a tall mountain range. On the top of the hillock grows an enormous tree, the root system of which forms most of the natural structural support beams of the Warren beneath it, including the Honeycomb. As with any warren, the Warren of House Lapin has many entrances, including a few secret entrances (three, in this case) which lead away from the heart of the structure. Most of these entrances were sealed up to encourage the Undead forces to take particular pathways that were easier to defend. Passages, or "runs," are designed to minimize the number of individuals who can pass through them at any given time, so only a small number of defenders were required for each. Because of the refugees from House Mollusca, two long passages were also dug to a nearby underground lake. The lake formed a separate, aquatic environment with only peripheral connections to the rest of the field.
The defense of the Warren was complicated by a couple of factors: first, that Princess Melody of House Felis had appeared on an episode of MTV Cribs prior to the battle, giving a tour of the Warren and even featuring a loosely-drawn map; and secondly, that expanding the Warren to accommodate all the refugees of other Houses had limited its structural integrity, restricting their engineering options. At least a third of the literomancers on both sides were also suffering from The Filking Plague, an ailment that drives literomancers to write silly songs about their favourite fandoms. While many were hopelessly distracted, others incorporated this into their literomancy and made it work for them.
The First WaveThe battle began at midnight on November 30. The forward scouts of the Alliance spotted the massive force of Undead in time to warn the Warren, which battened down the hatches as planned. They had not anticipated so many zombies, however. Nor had they anticipated AuthorGoddess' exceptional combat literomancy. As a practitioner of rune magic as well as a consummate, concise literomancer, she was able to detail complex magical effects through the use of bindrunes, serving as a sort of "literary shorthand" for the effects she wanted, including countermagic. Even with the bombing runs of House Chiroptera and the frantic combat literomancy of the Tome Knights defending the mound, an estimated 500 zombies from the first wave broke through to the defenders.
The Second WaveAs the Tome Knights tried to deal with the zombies, the second wave arrived in the form of demons. It was this stage of the fighting that resulted in the most casualties among the Grand Alliance. A number of legendary demons took the field to deal with particular House Leaders. Since they were summoned by Lord GalaWight, these were demon lords as portrayed by a popular roleplaying game.
I can't unsee it. "I know who that is," I thought as RPGDinosaurBob was enveloped by a massive slime pool with a thousand red eyes. The acid on the creature's skin immediately began burning Bob. He roared in pain... And then I saw her, the Demon Queen of Spiders herself. There's no way she could have been anyone else. She started snatching Bats out of the air with her webs, grinning through slathering spider fangs. I was so stunned to see a creature from the RPGs I play that for a long moment, I had no idea what to do. I wondered if I was hallucinating.The Queen of Bats summoned a cauldron of enchanted vampire bats to combat the aerial demons, then waded into the fray, wielding her enchanted sword against a plethora of ghosts and other incorporeal opponents. She fought her way to the Chief Rabbit's side. Protected by their elite guards, the Nightwings and the Owsla, they focused their combat literomancy on dealing with the summoned demon lords. A few ghosts and incorporeal flying demons broke through, forcing the two House Leaders to fight them off directly.
The Secret EntrancesNow that the battle was fully joined, Lord GalaWight made his way around to the secret entrances. He instructed Baphomet to direct the battle and clear him a way into the Warren. The House Lapin Guard were slain almost to a man. Lord GalaWight soon learned that two out of the three escape runs had been almost entirely filled in, so he reluctantly concentrated his efforts on the third. He sent Baphomet back around to the front, knowing the enormous demon lord would never be able to squeeze through the narrow runs. After the Werebadger had personally dug through several fortifications, and disenchanted numerous wards, he was confronted by an open passageway filled with scattered dirt piles. A literomantic inscription was scratched directly into the wall:
As the Demonic Conjurer tried to puzzle out why this sounded familiar, Dame Gwenefre burst out of the ground where she'd been covered by the scattered dirt, and engaged all her literomantic talents. The fight took hours, but eventually, Dame Gwenefre fell, leaving the second company of Undead almost unrestricted access to the Warren.
My Chief Rabbit has told me to stay and defend this run, and until she says otherwise, I shall stay here.
The Aquatic AssaultLord GalaWight's company divided themselves into two smaller task forces; one to deal with the Molluscans below, the other to make their way through the Warren and out the forward runs, cutting the Mother of Bunnies and other combat literomancers off from retreat. The aquatic demon lord Dagon, numerous water demons, and ten undead Molluscans assaulted the underground lake. This did not go according to plan.
Dagon, you little puke! What are you doing here? And where's my cosmic wormhole? I want it back RIGHT NOW!Dagon immediately made a hasty retreat.
I'm telling Mom!The Molluscans were forced to fight each other with only their water demons and water elementals for reinforcements. The Undead were no match for Coffee Quills' literomancy. Realizing that the presence of this assault team must mean the Warren had been breached, the Cosmic Kraken martialed their forces to head up to the Warren proper and lend their aid.
The Third WaveOn the surface, Tome Zombies now engaged Tome Knights directly. Significant Confrontations
The HoneycombMeanwhile, Lord GalaWight's task force began their assault on the Honeycomb. An extended skirmish ensued as the chamber was defended by Isaac A Thom, Princess Melody (who was supposed to be ensconced in the Honeycomb chamber), and ShyRedFox acting in concert to trick and confuse the Horde. ShyRedFox's illusions, Melody's use of teleportation and the dimensionally shifting tunnels of the Warren, and the swordsmanship and sandwichship of Isaac held the task force at bay. In the chamber, Prince Jean , Sable's heir, protected his unconscious aunt Princess Sunny Bunny by embracing the Filking Plague. He wrote an epic on the fly and gave it to Eli to sing.
Battle of the BardsICCDeadPeople heard Eli's song echo through the tunnels. Being a prolific filker himself, he immediately began a countersong. Sensing resistance, Eli redoubled their efforts. Eventually the proliferation of Eli's material outlasted the undead bard.
Paladin of the WorldforgeAt that moment, Kajetan Writes , former member of the Owsla who had fallen into a coma in a previous skirmish and disappeared, returned in the golden armour of a Paladin of the Worldforge. Accompanied by four companion Litwalkers, they turned their powers on the remaining demon lords. Lord GalaWight then took advantage of the Warren's shifting tunnels to circumvent the Honeycomb entirely. He abandoned the demons, commanding them to hold the line, and made his way out onto the surface of the mound.
Final ConfrontationBoth Night Monarchs pushed through. After an extended combat, which, as predicted, Sable only fought halfheartedly, Erin Righ had Sable defeated, the living were flagging, and the Undead closed in. As Erin lifted his Literomantic weapon to crush the yielding Bunny Mom, Lord GalaWight burst out onto the mound. With Sable's flagging energy she blasted Gala with poetic love magic -- and he returned to life. The renewed Galakrond turned all his new and old knowledge to defeating Erin, and Erin, who had reached into his reserves to beat Sable, had nothing left to fight him. Gala schooled his former master in the literomantic arts and left the Nite Qing staggered and beaten. As Gala's rage subsided, he took hold of himself and stayed the final blow that would have finished Erin once and for all.
"Kill me, boy," the Nite Qing gasped. "No," he replied. "Why not? Surely you must hate me by now?" He nodded. "Absolutely. I hate you with a passion, but I love my uncle, who's more like a third dad to me, and we're going to save him."Erin noticed that in the exchange, Sable had regained her footing and keyboard, and turned to renew his efforts on her. As he reached into the final well of Dark Literomancy and began to type, Sable responded with two powerful letters that stopped him in his tracks. "NO!" she typed, and he stopped.
I don't give you permission to include my family in this narrative!And all at once, Erin was himself again. The Tome released him.
"This is impossible!" screamed AuthorGoddess. Gala summoned a wind elemental of such force that it snatched the Iron Tome from her hands and delivered it to Sable. "AuthorGoddess, stop!" she yelled, and the power of the Tome compelled her.Just like that, the Battle of the Warren was over.
In the immediate aftermath of the battle, Sable Aradia used the Iron Tome to resurrect the fallen Tome Knights and as many of the dead as she could name, restore the ravaged landscape, and banish any remaining demons. What Sable Aradia wrote in the Iron Tome at the end of the battle
"NO!' I typed, and everything stopped. Erin stopped. I felt the powers of my ancestors, the great literomancers of old, flow into me. All of the ghosts of House Lapin cried out through me. "I do not give you permission to include my family in this narrative!" flew my fingers over the keyboard; for once, with no typos, and no hesitation. Selfish, maybe, when so many others have lost so much. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." But I am not Jesus Christ. I am not the Buddha. I cannot love the world with universal compassion. I am only Sable Aradia, and I can only save the world one person at a time. I hit enter. It released him. Whatever dark force was holding him released him. He's alive! He's alive, he is my husband again! The Nite Monarq screamed her negation, but Gala summoned a wind elemental, who carried the Tome into my hands. I drop my laptop and write in its pages the words you now see. The War is over. I have saved my son and my husband through the power of love, and they have saved me. Yes, I knew it, have always known it; love is the key. Love and hope are the answer. So I reach out to them, all the ones I have known, and I call them back. I call them back with the power of love. Anna Belle Writes, with her gentle manner and her chill sprints. ATW Writes, with their constant encouraging presence. Barbarossa -- oh, lovely Barbarossa, with all his joy and encouragement, all his kind and generous words, all his beautiful ideas he never gives enough credit to... Bitzer and hir concern for others and hir wacky sense of humour... Offspring and their love for their family... TheKidsAreAsleep, with their powerful positivity... Diannika and Py3h0n and FrozenStarfish, with their love for House Mollusca and the Cosmic Kraken... Clockwocket, who loved them so much he wrote them a song... Nathalia and Kahuna, my beloved friends, who have become so close even over great distances... SailingOcelot, who used their words to raise money and raise awareness for those who cannot help themselves alone... FoxWriter and his dedication to the Self Care Mafia, a new friend... GodKingKarthus and Gamez and their glorious bluster... Chris, a teacher, a dad, and his love for music and art and the written word, rapidly becoming a friend, I think... Amancham, WriterLee, and ThatStormyGeek, with their willingness to step out of their comfort zones, who so nobly gave their lives for others... Oncoming Shower and their enthusiasm... UncleTOBen and the cynical shell over his big teddy-bear heart... DragonMagpie and her cheerfulness and her joy in roleplay... WardenRed and his steady, reassuring presence, who always has a sympathetic ear... L0n3 Survivor and Bellezarna and Juice_Tex, MimiReadsALot and CathWolfie, who I'm just getting to know... All those whose bodies still litter the field, like my beloved Owsla, Gwen and James... And above all, AuthorGoddess. My friend. My dear friend. So much like me, with all my strengths, all my weaknesses; a vase mended with gold to display the beautiful cracks, a wounded healer. How I love you. How I love all of you! Warriors of hope, Tome Knights, weavers of words. Come back. Come back to sunlight and love and hope. Breathe the air. Feel the life flow into you. LIVE. It is not enough. It is not enough. So many others, so much pain, so much suffering, so much death. But it is what I have. It is who I can reach. These, the souls I can save, one glorious, precious life at a time. They will have to save the rest with their love in turn. My son is weeping. I'm going to go hold him now, hold him like I never got to do when he was small. I'm going to tell him how much I love him, how proud I am of him. How proud I am of all the Tome Knights. Then I'm going to kiss my husband, and I'm going to tell him the same thing. And then we're going to have some time to grieve and to heal, time that I will not be telling the world about, because it is our time. After that, who knows? Peace, I hope. Peace, and life, and love. I'm going now.
As of December 15th, 2021 with the major cleanup behind them, the literomantic houses are sitting down to a celebratory feast. Alliances are strengthening and offers of mutual support and assistance are being made. Plans are unfolding for a Tourney in the spring, to practice their skills. The Tome Knights have turned their energies to restoring the devastation left in the wake of the War. And everyone has accepted that they must remain vigilant for the Night Monarch's return. Erin Righ has gone to seek the Lemon Company to find redemption. AuthorGoddess is recovering well out of the public eye. House Meles remains at the Warren, and family bonds between the Houses are being built. Sable Aradia now carries the Iron Tome in a backpack with her wherever she goes.
Prince Jean's epic, "In Words We Trust," is currently climbing the American Top 40 and other popular music lists around the world.
This article is a work in progress, and may be subject to changes.
This article is part of a series related to streaming the Game of Tomes. For more information, see Streaming Game of Tomes.
Prince Jean's epic, "In Words We Trust", as performed by Eli Kwake Video compiled from actual footage of the battle
The Grand Alliance
The Holy Queen of Buns leading her forces to victory at the Battle of the Warren by Siobhan the Writer & Sable Aradia
AuthorGoddess battlecasting by AuthorGoddess & Sable Aradia
Lord GalaWight facing off against the Mother of Bunnies at the Battle of the Warren by Missi & Sable Aradia