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Ethengar "air power" scenario

by Sharon Dornhoff

These remarks about the influence of "air power" and magic in general on Mystaran warcraft remind me of something I thought of, while poring over the MML Digest Archive -- specifically, all those posts about how hard it would be for the Ethengar to run roughshod over any of their neighbour-states, the way the IRL Mongols mopped the floor with anyone who got in their way. The discussion on the mailing list centred on the fact that all the adjacent countries to the Khanates are either mountainous (miserable terrain for horses), or gifted with too much "air power" (HK warbirds, Glantrian archmages on aerial mounts), for the Golden Khan to give his followers the victories they've been hoping for. Even the Almanacs haven't been able to give the Ethengarians much in the way of butt-kicking to do, AFAIK.

But what if we gave the Khanates a chance to muster a bit of "air power", themselves....?

So for all those Genghis Khan buffs out there, who are sick of the Ethengarians' only making quick forays into other regions and getting knocked back to square one, consider this for a scenario:

1009 AC -- As the continent of Alphatia sinks into the sea, many flying steeds (whose magical control had been dispelled during the week of no magic, and had not yet been re-established) break loose and escape their corrals, thus avoiding the fate of the land-bound populace. Among the escapees are several hundred pegasi, who flee to nearby Bellissaria.

1010-1015 AC -- In the monster-free backwoods of Bellissaria, the feral pegasi breed like rabbits, much like wild mustangs in the American west or brumbies in Australia. Able to elude humans who try to recapture them, they undergo a population explosion and spread out to many of the adjacent islands and Esterhold, seeking anywhere there is open grassland. Frequently harassed by local humans, who try to seize them or drive them out of croplands, the once-lethargic pegasi become fiery, suspicious, and temperamental.

1015 AC (spring) -- To the astonishment and initial dismay of the Ethengarians, the Sea of Flowers is invaded by thousands of wild pegasus mares and their stallion escorts. Unlike the effete white steeds of the Glantrians, which the rugged steppe-dwellers hold in contempt, these feral- born herds have grown hard-bitten, scruffy and aggressive since escaping the Alphatians, swiftly impressing the Golden Khan with their spiritedness. He immediately claims the winged horses as his personal property, and forbids any harm be done to them.

Satisfied that the presence of so many equines marks the steppe as ideal birthing-land, the winged horses accept the close proximity of the humans as an acceptable inconvenience. Although fearing to return to captivity, the pegasi soon learn to trust the steppe-dwellers; they look and dress very different from the Alphatians or Bellisarians, and do not attempt to enspell the pegasi to service. More importantly, they live with horses, smell like horses, and don't seem to abuse their equine companions. Gradually, the feral pegasi accept the humans' and wingless horses' company.

As the pegasus mares give birth, the Ethengars assist distressed foals and keep predators from the flightless young. Stallions who are injured in fights over females also receive doctoring, and herds with young are especially provisioned by servants of the Golden Khan, who dig water- holes and set out salt licks. These acts of generosity by the forward- thinking Khan cement the alliance between human and wild pegasus, and begin a new era in Ethengarian history: the era of the sky raiders.

1016 AC -- The first yearling pegasi born in the Khanates are fledged and ready for riding. Eager volunteers - human and pegasus - begin vigorous training in aerial riding and archery, learning to work as a team. By summer, they're ready for action.