The Call of our Forefathers
Aban Melchior Herindale
The Black Hound of Herindale
“You don’t understand.” Aban said dismissively. “I care as much for my family’s actions as they do mine. We divested ourselves of each other long ago. You needn’t feel pity. It was amicable on both ends. I visit occasionally during festivals.”
“Yet you still fight in their name.”
“Their name is my name; it’s a burden we both carry.”
“I think you lie to yourself. You care for them more than you admit.” She paused a moment, scrutinizing him. “You miss them.”
“I miss the idea of them I carry in my mind. I have never missed the reality.”
“You should return to them.” She said, and reached out to hold his face in her hand. He remained motionless at her touch. “Someday. Perhaps not soon, but someday. It would be better for everyone.”
“Perhaps.” He replied simply, then gently took her hand and moved it away.
- An account of a discussion between then-Second Lieutenant Aêtava and Aban Melchior Herinadale from the journals of Lieutenant Bren of Kryta.
Aban Melchior Herindale is the eighth of ten children, though the second son, and brother to the late Kevish Herindale. Despite his standing, he has made a name for himself under the moniker The Black Hound of Herindale (frequently shortened to The Black Hound) as an adventurer and mercenary captain in Tyria and abroad. He was given the name The Black Hound of Herindale by fellow soldiers during The War of Medarrion and has since worn the name as a badge of honor. He is the husband of Lady Aêtava Herindale with whom he has two daughters Suroyazat Arzu Herindale and Ava Khorehomand Herindale.
Aban was in the south, planning a voyage to the lands beyond the southern seas with his mercenary company when The War of Medarrion began. Turning down a naval captaincy as the south marshaled, he instead took his company and hurried north. Upon his arrival, however, he began to wonder whether his help would be enough. After assessing the situation on the ground, he immediately sought out Musa, his older brother and the lord of the region. He found Musa in his study. Upon seeing him, Musa greeted him tersely.
“Well enough that you came. There’re no celebrations, so I was uncertain. You have something to say. Let’s hear it.”
“I have rank and skill enough for captaincy. Give me command to hold the pass. We cannot match them any further west with the palisade gone, but I promise you, I will hold them there. Take the rest of your men north where they will be needed more.”
“No. You left this house and its governance, as I’m sure you recall. What sign would it show the men if I gave you command the moment you returned?”
“That you’re willing to put their lives above your pride.”
“This is not a matter of pride. The north will hold without us, but only if we keep these forces engaged here. Holing ourselves up in the pass will defeat that purpose. They will leave only what is necessary to keep us contained and direct the rest of their forces up north, where they will do more harm, as they have before.”
“And so you tore out the palisades? Your solution is to give their number the advantage of an open field? This is madness brother.”
“My solution, Aban, is to give them hope that they will be able to hold that advantage. My men will hold them at the mouth of the pass, where their forces will remain committed but unable to make use of their numerical advantage.”
“Giving your men no room to withdraw. We used to climb the hills at the mouth as children, Musa. As children. If the men must fall back for whatever reason-”
“They will not fall back. The men will hold them there under my command. You will serve as my lieutenant. We grew up in those hills. The Krytans did not. They will not advance. We are done here.”
“They will not hold. They are men, not warriors of legend, and they will be spread thinner than they should be to face waves of cavalry. The hills at the mouth are too low to contain the Krytans completely, and the mouth will give them more room to maneuver their cavalry. For every foot they gain we will be faced with worse odds against our number, and they will press us to take that advantage. If we hold at the pass, they will attempt to take it through sheer attrition. They have the numbers and the skill to make a decent attempt at it, and they know if they break through the main supply line to Lord Avery can easily be cut off. Even if they do send their forces north, the forces they send will be equal in proportion to those you bring with you. Even if I am wrong in everything else, it is a poor strategy that depends upon everything falling in our favor when there are other options.
“Men, Aban? They are more than men. They are Tyrians. That makes them some of the finest soldiers on the continent, and you do them an injustice imagining otherwise. Perhaps you’ve forgotten, working with foreigners as often you’ve made a habit of. Welcome home, brother. We have been rebuffing the Krytans for one hundred years. We will do so again soon. Be ready to march when the sun rises.”
Musa began to arrange his papers, leaving Aban standing in silence. Finally, Aban turned to leave. As he reached the doorway, Musa turned to him.
“Oh, and Aban?”
“I would watch your pet Krytan. The men haven’t taken kindly to being called dogs.”
“He told them the Krytans call us all dogs when they asked. He called then no such thing.”
“Word has spread through the ranks. Keep him by you when we march. Goodnight Aban.”
They marched the next morning, Musa in the front with the standard-bearer, Aban given the rear-guard. When the battle finally began, Krytan heavy cavalry battered their northern formation while their light infantry kept the other Tyrian forces engaged. As word came through of Krytans trudging through the hills north of their formation, Aban redirected forces to support their north only to have his order countermanded by Musa. In response, Aban tripled the frequency of runners reporting from the front lines. As the northern formation began to buckle, Aban sent for permission to expose an opening he saw forming in the Krytan ranks and lead a charge into it. The response he received was to see the standard of House Herindale charge ahead in the distance. He prayed for his brother’s success, but in short order he saw the standard fall. Word came back to him on the lips of hurried messengers: His brother had fallen. The front ranks were beginning to break and run.
In response, Aban took his men and pushed forward, attempting to salvage their formation. The Krytans had begun to press the attack, seeing their lines falter. He studied their movements as he advanced and there, in the distance, he saw his brother caught under his horse, alive, but dying among the remains of his failed charge. There, too, he saw an opening greater than the one he had predicted, an opening exposed by the Krytans’ zeal, a chance to break into the Krytan ranks, expose its heart, assault their commander, and if he was lucky, cut off the forward forces from their reserves at the pass where he might succeed in the struggle to hold them. Looking up he saw the banner of his house, the house he had left behind, lying in the snow next to where its bearer lay dead or dying. Aban grimaced, sighed inwardly, swore, then tasked his second with his brother’s safety and charged, taking up his house’s banner and giving a rallying cry.
“Stand firm men!” He screamed, his voice carrying clearly above the chaos, the banner of house Herindale held high. “They will take this land over our frozen corpses!” He charged forward, deflected an arrow, cut down a Krytan and continued. “They will not call our farms their homes!” He went silent a moment as he unhorsed a rider with the pole of the banner, then called out again. “Or should we leave our families to their mercies!” A scattered stream of voices gave an uncertain reply.
“Shall we-” here he paused again as he knocked back a Krytan ready to fell one of his men, disarmed him, and kicked him to the floor before calling out again. “Shall we let our fathers, our mothers break their backs in fields as those pompous bastards’ serfs!”
“No!” Sounded the reply.
“Would you have your sons and daughter bend knee to the Adamantine Throne!”
“No!” Sounded a roar of voices as Aban leapt and grabbed the reigns of cavalry attempting to ride him down, swung up behind the rider, dismounted him, and wheeled the horse around.
“Then take up your weapons and fight, damn you! Only show them your backs when you’re dead on the floor! Give no man leave to call Tyrians cowards! Let no Krytan claim we’ve no steel! Stand you dogs! Let’s show them the teeth of hounds of war! For House Herindale! For Tyria!”
As his words a great cheer came from his forces and they surged back into battle. Over the hours that followed, the remainder of his brother’s forces under his command pushed back wave after wave of forces from the Krytan army at great cost until at last they had forced the Krytans back into the pass and there held them for the rest of the war.
As the assaults by the Krytan forces began to wind down, Aban visited his brother at his tent and was surprised to find him awake. They stood in silence for a time before Musa spoke.
“I don’t apologize.”
Aban scoffed. “I hadn’t expected you to.” Musa looked away.
“What of Mīkhā’īl? No one has answered my questions of him.”
“Mīkhā’īl?” Aban asked, remembering briefly the face of his youngest brother. “He was in the field? Where!”
Musa laughed, a tired, bitter sound. “I didn’t expect you’d recognize him. He was scarcely a child when you saw him last. He rode as my standard-bearer.”
“That was him? Why hadn’t you told me!”
“To what end?”
“I could have saved him! If I had known I could have…”
“He is gone then.”
“Yes, as I will be soon.”
“Leaving again? And who will lead while I recover?”
“I’ve given Amrissa command.”
“You must be joking.”
“She’s as capable as either of us, and I will advise her until I go. That she’s remained as sane and uncorrupted as she has while remaining with you all speaks highly of her. You should rely upon her more.”
“Then this is it. Again.”
“Fare well brother.”
“Rest well, Musa. I hope to see you recovered when I return.”
“What of the war, Aban? That you are here…I presume…were we victorious?”
Aban paused, considering the news he’d received of the young commander in the Central Plains. “I don’t know, Musa. Avandra take me, I don’t know.”
Aban left the north among a cry of protest from the men and having earned the nickname The Black Hound of Herindale. By the time The Lion’s rebellion had begun, he was already in the southern seas. He continued make to a name for himself in lands far from his family. Eventually, he would marry his one-time lieutenant and confidant, a peasant officer named Aêtava. Together, they returned north when word of Musa’s ill-health reached them and left upon his younger brother Kevish’s succession after Musa’s death. He presently lives in southern Tyria with his wife and two daughters as captain of the mercenary company he founded years ago.
It has since been learned/come to pass…
After the murders of House Avery and Kevish Herindale left the north without a lord, His Majesty Richard Medarrion named Aban Warden of the North. Aban accepted reluctantly and is currently rebuilding the lands he has been appointed to govern and protect. Given the task ahead of him, he declined the invitation to the wedding of Adaia Barshai citing the urgency of his task, but send his daughters bearing wedding gifts from their house.