The following was read aloud in all temples, on all squares, and in all the fortresses of Cora; copies were also sent to all rulers in Eria as well as to the Hannuman Caliphate:Defenders of Cora and the World of Man, on this, the 3rd day of the 9th month of this, the 1022nd Year of Enlightenment, the Black Storm has surrounded us. The blockade has begun, and the Enemy is sure to be upon us shortly.
We have all come here willingly, and we all know well what would follow should we fail. On us rests the weight of Destiny. With our blood we will buy the future of our world. The battle we will fight will be one all the world will sing of in years to come, and those who were not among our number will lament their fate. Here the Light of Creation stands against the Darkness. Here we shall guard that flame with sword, pike, and shot. Here are no civilians, here we are all warriors.
Brothers and sisters, I am truly blessed to be with you here, now -- for this is the fulcrum, the pivot-point. Let all the world know that Cora stands! Let them hear of our bravery, and let those who dared not join us weep in shame.
Defenders of Cora, this is our time. Let the Enemy come. Let them know that here nothing awaits them but fire and steel!
~Orthellion de Martellus, Grand Master of the Knights of St. Invictus
The defenders of Cora counts close to 35,000 warriors, made up of the following contingents:
The Knights of St. Invictus
The Wolf Lords of Draccia
276 Grey Knights
1,711 Knights of Draccia
The Hannuman Caliphate
4,900 Harun al'Azizin
In addition to these forces are some 2,000 adventuring ladies and gentlemen, as well as close to 2,500 Coran militia. In the time since Martellus was appointed Grand Master, he has made sure every civilian left on the island knows their role in the coming siege.
All fortifications on the island has been strengthened, and all stores have been stocked to sustain a prolonged siege. It is said that the Grand Master has emptied the order's coffins completely in this process, and most of its treasures have been sold or traded to strengthen Cora's defenses. What has not been relinquished is the order's considerable collection of reliquaries, and numerous Saintly Avatars are summoned to guard the defenders.
Against these forces stands the full might of the Court of Stars. Among the enemy forces are the fearsome Black Ships, the Blood Legions, savage warriors from the Lost Tribes, orcs, and a host of foul demons and Abyssal entities, not least of which is the dreaded Kraken.
Storyteller's note: My chief source of inspiration for the Siege of Cora is the Great Siege of Malta of 1565 CE. This is, in my opinion, one of the most awe-inspiring events that has ever took place. Reading about it, I more than once had to put the books away and make a reality check. The men and women who took part of that fight were of a type I do not believe exists any more.
It was a conflict of worlds, civilizations, great men, and religions. The bravery, determination, and atrocities exhibited on both sides are almost unfathomable in scope. The leading men, both among the Christians and the Muslims, would put most heroes and villains of fiction to shame. Grand Master de Valette of the Knights of St. John, to name an example, survived a year chained to the oar of an Ottoman galley. This is as inhumane an ordeal as any you could imagine. Nevertheless, he survived, grew stronger in both body and mind, and was later to lead his order to victory against overwhelming odds, at the outrageous age of seventy. It should be mentioned that the character-building experience of being a galley slave was one he shared with Turgut Reis, one of the Ottoman commanders of the siege.
If I could impress one thing upon you, dear reader, it is that you do some light research on the subject. At the very least, that you follow the three links above. And if I could make one further recommendation, it would be that you read The Religion, by Tim Willocks. It is by far my favourite work of historical fiction, and it also gives a fairly accurate account of the siege. I made an attempt at reviewing it here.
[Picture source: Carsten Holtman]