After examining the Scottish War of Independence, I discovered many of the factors that defined both sides of the war. Let us start with England. England’s population was six times larger than Scotland’s, which meant that the Scots would always be outnumbered. England’s lands were also wealthier and more fertile, which meant they had access to high class armor and weapons as well as have enough food to feed their armies. Despite these advantages, the Scots had several advantages of their own. They knew the terrain of their country better than the English ever could and could use the terrain in their favor. The Scots also utilized unorthodox methods to fight such as the schiltron spear wall formation as well as guerrilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics. With these factors, the Scots had the ability to counter the numerical and economic disadvantages they had against the English. For my spin-off fantasy book, I am thinking of modelling several of these factors in the new war.
One of the major battles of the Scottish War of Independence was the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Many of you would recall the Battle of Stirling in the film Braveheart, but the actual battle was much different in real life. Instead of an open field, the Battle of Stirling Bridge took place on a bridge in a marshy landscape. When the English marched north to quell the Scottish rebellion, the only way to northern Scotland was by crossing Stirling Bridge. The normal rules of engagement of the time required the Scots to let the English to march their entire army over the bridge and form ranks afterwards. However, if the Scots did this, the English would win so the Scots did not wait for the entire English army to cross the bridge. Once about half the English army was over the bridge, the Scots deployed the schiltron spear wall formation and started mowing down the English. Because they were caught off guard and were facing a tactic they never experienced before, the English had no way to counter the Scottish schiltron, resulting in massive casualties on the English side. When it became clear they were about to be annihilated, the English fled for their lives back over the bridge only to run into their comrades marching behind them. This collision of bodies caused the bridge to collapse and many English knights, horses, and men-at-arms fell into the river. Because the water was deep and the beaches were muddy and marshy, the English soldiers were weighed down by their heavy armor and sank to their deaths. By the time the battle was over, the English lost more than half their army. Among the dead was Edward I’s hated tax collector. This tax collector was so hated by the Scots that they each cut off a piece of him to take home as a souvenir. For instance, William Wallace flayed a strip of the tax collector’s skin from head to heel to be made into a sword belt. This battle was a significant boost in morale for the Scots and earned William Wallace the title Guardian of Scotland, which made him king in all but name. I am thinking of drawing inspiration from the Battle of Stirling Bridge for my spin-off fantasy series.
One of the most iconic battle tactics from the Scottish War of Independence was the schiltron spear wall formation. It operated in a similar fashion to the Spartan phalanx and the viking shield wall. However, this formation only consists of spears and no shields. Each person in the schiltron wielded a twelve foot long spear and if one person falters the whole formation is compromised. Even if you parry one spear, you still have dozens of its neighbors to deal with. In the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the Scots used the schiltron to inflict massive casualties on the English. By the time the battle was over, the English lost more than half their army. The schiltron has been described as being similar to the quills on a hedgehog. I am thinking of including the schiltron in my spin-off fantasy series and it will be used to deadly effect.
In The War of the Gilded Beasts, I depicted a battle that was outside of the box. In this battle, a fleet of 1,000 longships and 200 war galleys, which carried an army of around 20,000 strong, was sailing around Gradaia in an attempt to lay siege to the capital, Chrysos. However, they sail into a school of giant plankton eating fish. Then swarms of sea monsters such as Megalodons, Tylosaurs, and Krakens start to feed on the giant fish and fleet alike. I got the idea for this from when great white sharks attack surfers because they think they are seals. By attacking the fleet, the sea monsters think the ships are the giant fish they are preying on. It becomes a feeding frenzy and a fight for survival. This setback creates serious consequences for the side that is in control of the fleet and plays a role in the endgame of the entire war.
In Numen the Slayer, a rebellion breaks out in the kingdom of Umbran. When King Robar Baal lays siege to House Letum’s castle of Foxden, three other noble families are spurred into action against the king. These pictures give you an idea of the heraldry of the four noble families Robar was fighting. House Letum’s heraldry is a rampant gray fox on a white field. They are a cadet branch of House Magnus and live in eastern Umbran and possess a considerable amount of political influence amongst the other barons. As King Robar besieges them, the Letums defend their castle with 400 men-at-arms. House Torren, who formed a political marriage alliance with House Letum, has a heraldry that is a silver portcullis on a blue field. They live in the northeastern region of Umbran, which is the most fertile in the kingdom. They can summon 4,000 men (1,000 cavalry, 500 archers, and 2,500 infantry) in a month, but because of the urgency for war, they managed to summon 1,000 in a few weeks (800 infantry, 100 cavalry, and 100 archers). House Marmor’s heraldry consists of a silver trident on an aqua field. They are the wealthiest family in Umbran second only to the royal family. Their lands are in the center of Umbran, which gives them access to all the major trade routes in the kingdom. They can muster around 3,000 men (2,000 infantry, 500 cavalry, and 500 archers), but do to the urgency for war, they summoned 1,000 men (600 infantry, 200 cavalry, and 200 archers). House Drada lives in the far north, where fierce predators dwell and snow is almost always constant. As a result, they are a family of hard people and the best warriors in Umbran. Their sigil are a pair of bronze battle axes in a cross on a red field. They can muster 1,000 men (500 infantry, 250 cavalry, and 250 archers), but due to the urgency for war, they summoned 500 men (300 infantry, 100 archers, and 100 cavalry). Their combined army numbered 2,500 strong, but the royal army outnumbered them more than two to one. The defiance and rebellion are based on the Barons’ War in 1215.
One of the most common battle tactics would be the hammer and anvil. With this tactic, you have a stationary army holding the enemy force in place and then you deploy another army that attacks the enemy from the rear or flanks. I depicted an interesting version of this tactic in The War of the Gilded Beasts. You would have a stationary army holding the enemy in place and then you would have a flying beast (either chimera or dragon) attacking from behind and above. More than 40,000 men die with this tactic and it delivers a crushing victory for one of the armies.
Arms races have always served a significant role in the formation of governments and escalation of wars. In medieval times, there was an arms race between arrows and armor in which armor technology continually advanced to counter arrows. When nuclear weapons were first created, there was an arms race between the United States and Soviet Union that lasted for decades and almost created World War III. I am thinking of featuring an arms race in my second fantasy book. Before the events of Numen the Slayer, dragon warfare did not exist, which made them the ultimate weapon of mass destruction in Gradaia. Therefore, this arms race will involve ways to counter dragons. It will be an arms race between dragons, blood magic, human engineering, and dark alchemy. I already have ideas in mind of what this arms race will produce and it is going to be an epic clash between man, beast, and sorcery.
To most of Gradaia, the Welt people are often regarded as mindless, godless barbarians. While there is some degree of truth of them being barbarians, in reality they are highly spiritual people who rely heavily on the magic of their Druids and guidance of their gods. Part of their ideology revolves around paying their debts to people who help them, which is a policy they take VERY seriously. House Baal spread false propaganda that Welts raided and pillaged villages to get what they want, but the truth is that Welts relied on trade to get provisions they had no access to.
Still, even though the Welts are a mostly peaceful people, they can defend themselves in frightening ways. In open warfare, Welts tend to drink potions that allow them to enter a berserker rage yet have just enough self control to tell friend from foe. This allows the Welts to fight numerically superior and better equipped armies. While in their berserker rage, Welts each wield the strength and fury of ten men and are immune to physical pain. Just as the Celts terrified the Romans on the battlefield in real life, the Welts frighten the Civil Folk of Gradaia when they make enemies out of Welts.
However, the Welts’ true specialty is in guerilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics. While the Civil Folk rely on castles for protection, the Welts rely on their forests like Robin Hood and his Merry Men rely on Sherwood Forest. Whenever an enemy force invades their forest, the Welts attack from the branches and shadows, wipe out several foes before vanishing into the trees. They repeat this process over and over until either the enemy is wiped out or give up and flee the forest. They also wire the borders of their forest with deadly booby traps. The only way to beat the Welts in their own territory is to burn their whole forest down, which the Civil Folk won’t do without stripping the kingdom of much needed timber and game. This is similar to how the Picts were able to keep the Romans from conquering northern Britannia.
Overall, I have a very personal connection with the Welts because I based them on my Celtic and Scandinavian ancestors.
One of my all-time favorite themes of fantasy is dragon warfare! Imagine controlling the mightiest creature in the known world at your command. You would wield the power to demolish castles and annihilate entire armies. During a siege, a castle’s walls can defend you against conventional attacks such as trebuchets and siege towers. However, such defenses are useless when it comes to fending off dragons. The reason for this is because dragon fire can melt stone and even if you take shelter in the deepest and most secure section of the castle the dragon fire would super-heat the stone and you would be baked alive in your own stronghold. In addition to being ideal for sieges, dragons can also fly right over enemy territory and perform systematic strikes on enemy strongholds, which would weaken your enemy’s power base from within and make them easier to conquer. During an open battle, even if your armies are hopelessly outnumbered a dragon can give you an immense advantage in six distinct ways. First, a dragon can perform a military maneuver called strafing in which it would sweep over the enemy army over and over while blasting it with fire. Second, a dragon could dive bomb in the center of the enemy host, which would increase the damage to both the army itself as well as its morale. Third, a dragon could set fire to the surrounding landscape to not only throw the enemy army into chaos but also blind their archers. Fourth, if your army can hold the enemy in place with the vanguard then the dragon can blast the enemy from behind with impunity. Five, because dragons fly they can give their rider a scouting position by flying overhead to watch enemy movements then report them to your allies, which will give your own forces enough time to prepare. Six, a dragon can also be used for guerrilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics by attacking and raiding enemy supply lines, which would cripple enemy armies and make them easier to crush. However, despite all their size and power, dragons are far from invincible. Even though their scales are hard enough to withstand normal steel, they can be pierced with either special or mystical weapons. For example, you could tip a spear or arrows with this special material and then use them to bring the dragon down. Also, you can counter a dragon with either another dragon or another beast that is just as powerful. Overall, I am exceedingly excited to explore all of these aspects of dragon warfare to the fullest in my second volume, which will depict an entire war from start to finish.
This is a type of sword I included in Numen the Slayer, a falchion. A falchion is a type of single-edged sword that operates like a machete and can only be wielded one-handed. It is one of the weapons of choice of King Robar Baal and has a blade forged from a meteorite called a Ferruman. King Robar uses this in conjunction with a meat cleaver that has a handle made from human bone. These weapons make King Robar a frightening enemy on the battlefield.