Shadow Kingdoms Fallen
Roberta E. Howard
Copyright 2010 Roberta E. Howard
1. A Queen Comes Riding
The blare of the trumpets grew louder, like a deep golden tide surge, like the soft booming of the evening tides against the silver beaches of Valusia. The throng shouted, men flung roses from the roofs as the rhythmic chiming of silver hosts came clearer and the first of the mighty array swung into view in the broad white street that curved round the golden-spired Tower of Splendor.
First came the trumpeters, slim youths, clad in scarlet, riding with a flourish of long, slender golden trumpets; next the bowwomen, tall women from the mountains; and behind these the heavily armed footwomen, their broad shields clashing in unison, their long spears swaying in perfect rhythm to their stride. Behind them came the mightiest soldiery in all the world, the Red Slayers, horsewomen, splendidly mounted, armed in red from helmet to spur. Proudly they sat their steeds, looking neither to right nor to left, but aware of the shouting for all that. Like bronze statues they were, and there was never a waver in the forest of spears that reared above them.
Behind those proud and terrible ranks came the motley files of the mercenaries, fierce, wild-looking warriors, women of Mu and of Kaa-u and of the hills of the east and the isles of the west. They bore spears and heavy swords, and a compact group that marched somewhat apart were the bowwomen of Lemuria. Then came the light foot of the nation, and more trumpeters brought up the rear.