Once upon a time a terrible scourge came upon a peaceful people in a distant river valley. Pirates and marauders had been pillaging the upper reaches of the regions for years; distant tales of horror and mayem had reached the river valley. But the violence had as yet left them untouched, and as it was seen as a far away land, the cries of dismay and woe went unlistened to, and unheeded. The valley dwellers lived in a peaceful harmony and went about their days, ignoring the deadly peril that would soon be upon them.
That peace, of course, did not last. And one day the maurders did indeed sweep down from the north, seeking new roads to move their plunder to exotic locales across the ocean. They attacked the villages, intent upon raping the land, scouring the woodlands, and leaving an ugly scar of waste and destruction in their wake. The valley dwellers appealed to their magistrates, their captains and lords; and though the those great men and women fought valiantly, their efforts went for naught. For the pirates had bribed the court for the favor of the King, and his gaze went askance to other matters as the maurders willed it to be. And the fear grew, and the pirates grew bold, and there was much despair.
But just as things looked bleak, when the dark leader was poised on the brink of victory, a curious thing happened. The valley dwellers rallied amongst themselves. They banded together and formed a new citizen union to resist the raiders, to push them back, to break them up and force them not just from their lands, but from everyone’s lands. To utterly destroy the threat forever.
These were not heroes. There were no great knights on chargers, no heroines of legends before. There were no magic swords, no spells to cast. They were simple farm folk, people of the land. But they learned a great secret that gave them strength, and hope. That even a simple man, defending his land, his honor, and his family, can be stronger than a thousand knights on chargers. And that should the need be great, and the cause be just, that even the meek can be mighty.
The war was a dark and destructive one, with many terrible casualties on both sides. The valley dwellers threw down their homes, their lives, and the very future of their children in the path of teaming hordes. They risked all in defense of that that they held dear and true in their lives. They made a final stand against arrayed strength of that terrible host.
And though the pirates forces had all the weight of their kind with them; though they had bought the king and his court; though the despair hung heavy over all who defended their home steads, the valley dwellers held fast. They held fast, and tightened their belts, and braced themselves for the rush.
AND THEY BROKE IT.
And then, amidst a great cheer, they scattered the enemy forces, and routed them back over the river, and destroyed their armies utterly.
The victors hunted the leaders of the bands of pirates, tracked them and brought them each in turn to justice. And when the last was captured – the dread pirate himself brought in chains, and the court brought their justice, and his fate sealed – when the last remnant was done, the citizens of the river valley left a sign for any future marauders who would dare cross swords with them.
The host of each great pirate band was put to their doom, and sealed therein; their wraiths can be seen above their graves at night when the moon is full. The vermin and parasites and crawlers of the night are disturbed at these times, and teem through their tombs.
And the original one, the highest of them all, the instigator and schemer: his remains were left to stand for all time as warning to all. Left to say “Pirates, try our walls and our arms, and this shall be your fate”.
YE BE WARNED.