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by Bruce Heard

Now, what if these brave Simbasta, after having secured the Heldannic artifact, effectively took control of the warbirds? (Just for the sake of creating another upheaval). They decide to fly them back to Davania and use them to defend themselves against a possible Heldannic crusade to recover the artifact. I'm beginning to feel sorry for the Heldannic Knights' cruel reversal of fortunes.

The Heldanners throw in all that they've got since now, this is a religious matter as well as one of military survival in the Known World. Months later, the two armies face off for the mother-of-all-battles, somewhere in the Davanian savannah. Much violence and death is expected, especially on the side of the Heldannic Order.

The Simbasta, being paladin-like at heart, dislike this decidedly one-sided battle. They see no honour in such a massacre. After all, their culture is one where victory and glory lie in their foe bowing before the regal creatures, yielding before their might. This is all the Simbasta truly seek.

The battle begins as a Heldannic warhorse fatefully bolts ahead. The battle begins and soon the Heldannic are encircled and reeling before the fury of the Simbasta. The majestic leader of the Simbasta orders combat to halt. His warriors obey at once. He allows surviving Heldannic Knights to regroup, and sends them a messenger.

He tells the Heldannic Grand Master that the knights may regain their artifact and their warbirds. But they must first yield before the Simbasta, and accept them as their overlords in Davania. They must also swear that they may not use the power of the artifact for evil deeds. Only then could the Simbasta regain their artifact and the use of their fortress. While in Davania, the Heldannic Order becomes a vassal of the Simbasta and must honour them in all ways. Outside of Davania, they are free to act as they please, provided the artifact's power isn't used to support evil acts. As proof of their word, the Grand Master and his lords must swear on the artifact itself upon which their word and their souls are bound to the holy object. The Knights accept. The Simbasta make their entry into Known World politics, although one that is far away... Meanwhile, the knights begin to change their behaviour.