Literature: Arcia Chronicles
The Arcia Chronicles
) is a High Fantasy
novel series by Russian author Vera Kamsha, set in a Constructed World
, which itself is a part of a multiverse
. What makes Tarra stand out among other worlds is that unlike them, it doesn't have any gods
: some nine thousand years ago, seven alien deities known as the "Lightbringers" conquered Tarra, slaughtered the native Old Gods
and whatever worshipers they had, and ruled Tarra for seven thousand years in the name of the "Light
". After that, the "Light" called them back, leaving Tarra effectively defenseless against cosmic threats
. Therefore, it is up to local humans and a handful of Elves
(left behind by two renegade Lightbringers) to punch out cosmic monstrosities
eying Tarra. The books are mostly set in Arcia (hence the title), a Vestigial Empire
(later, The Kingdom
) in what is likely the most densely populated region of the world.
The series consists of six novels as of 2014, with the final tome in planning since 2004
- War of the Deer duology:
- The Dark Star (2001). An Elven undercover agent Neo "Roman" Ramierl and a Pirate Duke "Lucky" René Arroy team up to thwart an Ancient Conspiracy that aims to incarnate an evil Old God Roigu as a child of a mortal woman, who happens to be René's distant relative. They partly succeed but in process, kick off the devastating War of the Deer (named after said Old God's physical form).
- Incomparable Right (2001). Failing to incarnate their god, the Roigians mount an all-out assault on Arcia and neighboring lands and it's up to Roman and René to repel them. Other Elves, The Church, and supernatural forces join the fight but their salvation lies with Gerika, the proverbial Dark Star and the failed mother of Roigu, who gained powers equal to the Deer himself.
- War of the Daffodils duology:
- Blood of Sunset (2002). Set 600 years after the Incomparable Right, the novel reenacts the Wars of the Roses from Charles Tagere's (Richard Plantagenet's expy) marriage until Philip Tagere's (Edward IV) ascension to the throne, against the backdrop of yet another Ancient Conspiracy and various supernatural powers ramping up for the Final Battle.
- Argument of Kings (2002). Covers the War of the Daffodils until Alexander Tagere's (Richard of Gloucester) crowning and ties the duology nicely into the overarching plot by proclaiming him the Last of Kings, whose coming was prophesied in the end of Incomparable Right.
- The Year of Three Stars duology (tetralogy?):
- Tower of Fury was intended as a single novel but was split in two because of its sheer size:
- Black Poppies (2003). Alexander is saved by Gerika (where Richard III died) and brought to Tayana, while Arcia degenerates under Pierre Lumen's (Henry VII) rule. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse make their move, foreshadowing the advent of their masters.
- Wind's Harvest (2003). Alexander's followers in Arcia (both human and otherwise) organize La Résistance, while he leads the armies of Tayana against Roigian remnants to ensure the former's help in returning his throne. Neo returns to Tarra, Gerika and her like clash with the Horsemen in anticipation of the prophesied Year of Three Stars.
- Wild Wind. The Grand Finale of the series, to be published after the Reflections of Eterna cycle is completed. The most recent Word of God is that it'll be released in two volumes, as well: Steel and Fire and Grizzled Field.
Fun fact: The Dark Star
started off as a High Fantasy Deconstruction Fic
based on Nick Perumov
's Chronicles Of Hjorvard
but eventually lost all connections to the source material (with only slight conceptual overlaps, such as the "True Mages"). When Perumov was finally shown the manuscript, he took it straight to the publisher
This series contains examples of:
- Alliterative Family: All seven Lightbringers.
- All Witches Have Cats: Gerika keeps pet lynxes before and after she gains powers, but switches to ordinary cats when she pretends to be a swamp witch while healing Alexander in book five (which is lampshaded). She can also possess her cats, look through their eyes, and use them as conduits for her power (which probably explains it).
- Arc Words: "Dark Star" throughout book one. Also, the entire Prophecy of "St." Eric:
"You must wait; wait, even when it sounds like madness. Wait and remember. The seeds have been sown. They need time. The Year of Three Stars will come, and the Last of Kings will raise his sword. The Blue Star will sink in sea, the Red one will rise again, the Dark one will not fade. She was lit by the Chosen One but will light the way for the Last, heralding victory. Don't fear the Night, don't fear the Day. Darkness will protect from Darkness; Light, from Light. Don't weep for those leaving for war. The Lynx Constellation... The Dark Star... They cannot converge, but their light is timeless..."
- Artifact of Doom: Ciala's Rubies, which have a very corrupting effect on all who wear them, turning even The Ingenue in a Manipulative Bitch over a few months. According to some pieced-together lore, they were made by Greditara out of the blood of a demigod who lived in the ancient jungle temple.
- Author Tract: Kamsha clearly doesn't like Christianity. Or Henry VII (as well as anyone who was historically opposed to Yorks in general). She misses no opportunity to remind readers of that.
- Badass Army: The Orc/Goblin infantry are one of these and that's probably why they tend to be rather peaceful.
- Badass Family: The Malvani clan. They are so badass that the title of the Marshal of Arcia seems to be their family heirloom, regardless of the petty power struggles in the court. Even the priests from the Malvani family quickly turn into Church Militants. And they can shapeshift into tigers, apparently.
- Big Brother Instinct: Raphael and Dariolo Kerna.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: All Elves are basically interrelated somehow. Also, the royalty and aristocracy of Arcia and nearby countries.
- Black Sheep: Geoffrey Tagere (based on George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence), the only one of Charles' children who is presented without any redeeming qualities.
- Blue Blood: Lots and lots of blue blood. About 90% of all recurring characters are aristocrats or related. The other 10% are supernatural creatures.
- Born Lucky: René, while not completely immune to misfortune, is by far the luckiest character in the books. Even though he gets screwed up pretty badly every so often, most notably, in the end of the second novel.
- Break the Cutie: Let's see. Marita is raped by the Big Bad and Driven to Suicide. Solange/Anastasia is separated from her beloved Charles Tagere, loses their child, and eventually becomes a Big Bad herself. Dariolo is in love with Alexander but coerced to marry Arthur Barrot, and Alexander is apparently killed, on top of that.
- Character Overlap: There is a possibility that the Chronicles and Kamsha's other cycle, Reflections of Eterna, are set in the same multiverse: in Black Poppies, Gerika mentions that her last love interest (while she was still amnesiac, wandering the other worlds) was a certain "blue-eyed Alva from Cinaloa". It just so happens that Reflections feature a major character named Roque Alva, who has blue eyes and rules a province named Kenalloa (though Gerika's lover may have been any one of his ancestors, too). Word of God, however, says that this is just a coincidence.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The magical power of the Orders comes from the belief of the congregation. In a twist, The Church originally had little to no magic but since the Elven magic during the War of the Deer was intentionally attributed to clerics to uphold The Masquerade, the people started believing in miracles, allowing them to perform even more miracles... Also of note, the only Order who don't have their own magic are the Erastians—because all power gathered by them goes directly to Erasti (who is still alive!) himself.
- Consummation Counterfeit: Dariolo Kerna is supposed to be a virgin when she marries Arthur Barrot, when, in fact, she already has two (illegitimate) children. Arthur, being not the sharpest tool in the shed and madly in love with her, assumes her hymen was broken while riding a horse and cuts himself to produce a stained bed sheet as proof that his wife was a virgin before marriage, as the nobility custom dictates.
- Cool Boat: René's Lynx Constellation, which becomes a literal Flying Dutchman at the end of the second novel.
- Cool Horse: Gib, the Water Horse. He is not so much a horse as a force of nature, in fact... Many Elves also see him as a Hellish Horse because he is part of Old Tarra, inherently opposed to the Light.
- Corrupt Church: The Church of Arcia is generally portrayed this way but individual priests are often shown in positive light.
- This is especially evident with several religious Orders, first of all, the Cialian Order.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Oh so much. Roman draws upon the "Power of Darkness" so often, he eventually arrives at the conclusion that it's Not So Different from the Power of Light inherent to all Elves.
- Dashed Plot Line: The second duology is prone to multi-year time skips between parts.
- Deader than Dead: After killing the Old Gods, the Lightbringers fed their bodies to the Burier, a minor Eldritch Abomination, to make sure they stay dead, since "gods have a tendency to spontaneously come back to life". They didn't really count on having to leave Tarra for good later...
- Death of the Old Gods: Part of the backstory of includes the Seven Lightbringers physically destroying all the Old Gods of Tarra. This returns to bite Tarra mightily in the ass nine thousand years later when the Lightbringers leave and a bunch of cosmic monstrosities show up to devour the now completely defenseless world.
- Defecting for Love: Gerika is daughter of the first duology's Big Bad Mikhai Godoi but falls in love with René and joins his side.
- Dramatic Wind: One of abilities Rene acquired after returning back from the dead seems to be conjuring wind to dramatically ruffle his hair even indoors.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Owing to its origins, the first duology is crammed with light-hearted elements aimed mainly at deconstructing fantasy staples—in a rather jarring contrast to the author's later, much more somber and politics-heavy Low Fantasy.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: Of the Wolf Cubs, only Alexander, Raphael, and Louis Truelle survive the Battle of Graza in the beginning of Black Poppies.
- Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The War of the Daffodills duology is a fantasy retelling of the Wars of the Roses.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Starting from the third novel, Arcia becomes very much like the England during the the Wars of the Roses. Ifrana is France (King Joseph is obviously Louis XI), Miria is Spain, Darnian Union is Germany, Er-Atev is generic Muslim world, Tayana is Russia, Frontera is Ukraine, Escota is Scotland, etc. Original Eland from the first duology is Viking Scandinavia.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Averted in the Deer duology, where pistols were common among rich nobles, but played straight after the Time Skip. It was justified in-story by The Church discovering a magic that'd make gunpowder explode prematurely, rendering guns useless since they could explode in your hands at any moment. The Deer duology had not only pistols, but early 17th-century level of tactics in warfare, with the mix of musketeers and pikemen ruling the field.
- Fantasy World Map: A map of Arcia and neighboring countries is included on endpapers of most volumes of the series. Notably, the parts east of Tayana and Tarska (including the mythology-relevant Grizzled Field) have never been mapped until now.
- Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue: Happens in the prologues and epilogues of some volumes, with two or three mysterious figures discussing the events of the respective volume in the context of the apocalypse Myth Arc. Their identities have not yet been revealed but two of them are strongly implied to be the Great Brothers, the Eagle and the Dragon revered as gods by the Eland mariners.
- Feuding Families: The Elven Clans of the Swan and of the Silver Moon were left behind in Tarra on purpose by their Lightbringer patrons. However, desperate and believing that the other Clan was guilty, they engaged in a suicidal conflict known as the War of Monsters, where most of the remaining Elves in Tarra died. Eventually, the sides struck an uneasy truce but even two thousand years later, there's still enmity between them (not helped any by the circumstance that most participants of the War are still alive).
- Fictionary: The universal language in Arcia and neighborhood is (obviously) Arcian, but there are also others, from the Elven and Orcish to Er-Atevian, Mirian, and Darnian after the Time Skip. Most of them get at least a few words spoken in the text of the novels.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Gridetara, a True Mage corrupting Tarra, was properly introduced in the final chapters of Wind's Harvest and dispatched just as quickly. He was foreshadowed since the second book, sure, but was still rather unexpected.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: A recurring motif from the second duology onward is that women in power are more dangerous than they are useful. Gerika's explanation is that men can be (though not always are) motivated by honor and abstract obligations, whereas women always live for themselves and the ones they love. Especially bad are those who only love power, which is what the Cialian Order is all about. This is particularly evident in the stories of Agnesa (Margaret of Anjou's expy) and Anastasia, though notably subverted by Marta Tagere, who is a far more capable monarch than her first husband.
- God's Hands Are Tied: Or rather, the Old Gods are dead and the Lightbringers abandoned Tarra because the Light needed them elsewhere.
- Good Shepherd: Popes Philipp and Felix, Cardinals Maximilian (before his Face-Heel Turn) and Joachim, etc.
- The Heretic: The Damned One a.k.a. St. Erasti Cerna.
- Heroic BSOD: Erasti suffers one after discovering that his beloved Ciala betrayed him for fun and profit.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Too many examples to list. Perhaps the most touching example happens in Incomparable Right with the sacrifice of Faithful, Gerika's lynx, who willingly throws himself into magical fire to let her escape Tarra. Actually, for that particular sacrifice, nothing short of an Elven sacrifice would have worked (originally, Roman was to be sacrificed), but Faithful's sheer devotion and intelligence apparently sufficed. In fact, the very title of the second novel comes from a poem by Nikolay Gumilev and refers to the "incomparable right to choose one's own death".
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Appear in Tower of Fury, albeit without horses (yet?). In a twist, each of them is a reincarnation of a human who committed a terrible treachery in his life.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Of several historical figures of 16th Century Kamsha doesn't like. However, while they are upgraded in villainy, they are downgraded in competence.
- The Ingenue: Quite a few examples, most of whom end up broken.
- Inhumanly Beautiful Race:
- Elves are exceptionally beautiful, which is justified by their species being many times older than humans, meaning that they represent the peak of humanoid evolution (frozen in time thanks to their immortality) while humans are still getting there. However, having a perfect physique and looks means that all elves (of the same gender) look the same to humans, since their physical differences (read: deviations from perfection) are so minimal that only fellow elves can spot them. Hair/eye color and clothes are the only way mortal races can tell elves they don't know personally apart.
- Also, Orcs, another race much older than humanity (though not as old or immortal as the Elves), have a kind feral beauty some humans admire (while others are intimidated by their appearance).
- In the Blood: Only humans descended from Elves, Old Gods, or St. Erasti's family seem to have prominent magic talents.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Roman effectively manipulates Kriza (his love interest) and Urrik (his Worthy Opponent) into falling in love with each other.
- Just Before the End: The later books emanate this feel. Also, the visions on the dead world that Roman and company visit.
- Just Between You and Me: Upon their meeting, Greditara cannot help but give a speech explaining his evil plans to Roman, whom he believes he can kill at any moment. Justified somewhat by the fact that Roman is the first person he has spoken to in centuries.
- Latin Lover: Subverted with the toreador and Alexander's best friend Raphael, who is the most popular guy among Arcian noblewomen—but has rarely entered relationships with any of them.
- Light Is Not Good: The Lightbringers and, by projection, Elves are portrayed as invaders from Another Dimension who attacked Tarra without warning, ruthlessly eradicated any opposition, then left it to sink or swim in the name of the "Light".
- Literary Allusion Title:
- Incomparable Right, as mentioned above, is a reference to Nikolay Gumilev's poem.
- Argument of Kings is a play on Louis XIV's "Ultima Ratio Regum" ("the last argument of kings", meaning the declaration of war).
- Tower of Fury comes from a 1956 poem by Nikoyal Zabolotsky, which is quoted in the epigraph to Black Poppies.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Nearly each book comes with a five to ten pages names list appendix.
- Macabre Moth Motif: The moths are an attribute of evil (not dark, but dirty gray) magic, such as the one of the Cialian Order.
- Mary Tzu: In-Universe, Alexander Tagere's tactical skills are acknowledged as supernatural (by actual supernaturals, no less).
- Mayfly-December Romance: Roman and Kriza. Bonus points for him being an Elf and her, an Orc. Also, Alexander and Gerika: this time, with the roles the other way around.
- Multiple Narrative Modes: The books are written predominantly in third person but, starting from book two, switch to first-person whenever Gerika becomes the POV character.
- My Sister Is Off Limits: Inverted with Raphael who actively encourages Alexander and Dariolo's extramarital affair despite their doubts about his reaction. However, he also (violently) rejects Dariolo when she is later manipulated into marrying Arthur Barrot by the Cialians.
- Naval Blockade: The Church blockades Orgonda from the sea after it refuses to acknowledge Pierre Lumen (whom the clergy endorsed) as king. The blockade is eventually lifted by the Eland Mariners.
- Nobility Marries Money: Everyone thinks that this is the reason why Alexander (the king's youngest brother) marries Jacqueline re Flo (daughter and sole heir of the wealthy late King Maker). However, in reality, he does it mainly to protect his Childhood Friend from other, less scrupulous suitors.
- Noble Wolf: Not only is the wolf a symbol of Agnes, God (Lightbringer) of War, but it is also on the personal coats of arms of both René and Alexander. Considering how Agnes is the only Lightbringer who still cares about Tarra, and both Rene and Alexander are among its most heroic inhabitants, wolves are definitely a symbol of benevolent power in this setting.
- Non-Human Sidekick: René's Jan-Florentine (a toad who doubles as a living Philosopher's Stone) and Gib. Gerika's "pet" lynx Faithful, who was passed down to her after his original master Stefan, Crown-Prince of Tayana and her love interest, died.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves never appear in the novels but are alluded to as the most skilled smiths in Tarra on many occasions. Word of mouth is, they hide in the mountains of Er-Atev.
- Our Elves Are Better: Belief of some Elves in their superiority over other races causes a lot of evil, most notably, Roman's sister Eanke who murders her own father Asten, one of the strongest opponents of "Elven superiority". It is also subverted soon thereafter with Eanke's mother Nanniel, who shares much of her views but dies by sacrificing herself to save human victims of a Roigian cult. After that, the idea of Elven superiority slowly withers and dies, until an entire Elven clan sacrifices themselves to protect Tarra.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Dark Is Not Evil and Proud Warrior Race Guy variety.
- Our Souls Are Different: Orcs admittedly don't have souls though what exactly makes a "soul" is never explained. Apparently, souls can be used for reincarnation (as well as becoming a Horsemen of Apocalypse) and orcs only have one lifetime, unlike humans and Elves.
- Pair the Spares: Invoked by Shander Gardani when he proposes to Ilana in the end of book two. They don't love each other, having both lost their respective beloved ones, but he needs a family to establish a dynasty, while she is on the verge of becoming a nun. However, their purely pragmatic marriage results in a genuine love and becomes surprisingly happy for both parties.
- Pirates: The entire population of Eland are mostly Type II pirates. Er-Atev catches up with them in the second duology.
- Philosopher's Stone: Actually, a Philosopher's Toad. Jan-Florentine is a toad-like spirit/creature who can transmute any material into any other on touch and has a penchant for philosophic Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
- Physical God: Pretty much any "god" in the setting. Also, True Mages like Erasti Cerna gain god-like powers if properly trained.
- The Prophecy: Quite a few, since the series has a Plot Device that allows to deliver new prophecies as the plot requires: namely, the Agva Zakta poison, which has no antidote but grants the poisoned perfect prophetic vision for the few seconds until they expire.
- The prophecy of Saint Erasti, delivered in the form of a painting (Erasti was an artist before he became involved in politics) and depicting the arrival of Roigu the Deer and the Dark Star, drives the plot original duology. Notably, it wasn't delivered under the influence of Agva Zakta but came to Erasti in his dreams.
- Probably the most important prophecy that drives the rest of the series (thanks to containing more Arc Words than the rest of the book combined) is the one delivered by old Eric Connac in the end of book two after taking Agva Zakta.
- Psycho Lesbian: Daphne, the blankess (Cialian prioress) of Miria, is not so much a psycho as a Manipulative Bitch who likes young girls. Laying her eyes on Raphael's little sister Dariolo, however, was a very bad idea...
- Rearing Horse: When René' and Gib kill the Roigian ambassador to Eland, after René returns Back from the Dead.
- Really 700 Years Old: Actually, Gerika is 600+ after the Time Skip. But she looks about the same age as she was during the War of the Deer (late twenties?) thanks to her godlike powers. And since she hides her origins, men (most notably, Alexander) keep falling for her.
- Reluctant Ruler: René is crowned Emperor of Arcia in the end of Incomparable Right but manages to walk out and get himself killed. Alexander becomes a King of Arcia after his brother's death, despite being perfectly fine with remaining a mere general.
- The Remnant:
- Roigu is the last of the Old Gods by the (mis)fortune of having been imprisoned by his own kind long before the Lightbringers invaded Tarra. The Seven have never found him before the Great Exodus.
- On a smaller scale, the Roigian cult still exists in Tarska even six hundred years after the Deer has been defeated in book two.
- Senseless Sacrifice: The collective suicide of the Elven Clan of the Swan in Wind's Harvest borders Stupid Sacrifice, even, except that they couldn't have known that Gridetara would have been killed by Neo and his gang, anyway.
- Shakespeare in Fiction: His Expy is portrayed rather unfavorably in Tower of Fury.
- Signs of the End Times
- Smug Snake: The great majority of villains. Initially, at least some of them were somewhat competent, if not nearly as much as they thought, but in the latter books all of the surviving ones are downright pathetic. Nearly all of the human-level bad guys past the first duology only remain dangerous because the good guys tend to suffer from Contractual Genre Blindness and fail to treat them as they deserve. Magical ones, well, have magic, which makes them more threatening, but their level of competence is the same.
- The Soulless: Orcs.
- Speak of the Devil: The Damned One, the greatest heretic of all times, is only known by this nickname, when, in fact, he is the same person as St. Erasti Cerna, one of the most revered saints of The Church, Emperor Anhel's most trusted henchman, Lunar King Laren's disciple, and the first True Mage of Tarra.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Gerika and René.
- Straight for the Commander: During the Battle for Graza in book five, Alexander's army is betrayed, so he gathers the remaining loyal cavalry and orders a Self Destructive Charge against the the enemy commander Pierre Tartue's position. He doesn't make it all the way there (though his best friend saves him from a certain death), but he gets close enough for Pierre to literally need a new pair of pants afterwards.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Gerika, to a certain degree.
- Supernaturally Marked Grave: When the Elven lord Asten is killed, Gerika causes the earth to magically envelop it, then transmutes the earth into a giant amethyst.
- Tarot Motifs: The O card deck is the local variation of Tarot. The symbolism isn't helped any when Elven artist Clare takes real heroes of the War of the Deer (many of whom are still alive in one way or another) as models for card images on his deck... which becomes the most imitated version in Arcia.
- The Time of Myths: Twice. First, there is the time when Tarra was ruled by Omm and other Old Gods, though only the Orcs remember it in modern times. Then, there were the seven millenia-long rule of the Lightbringers, of which the Elves have the best memories. Modern humans barely remember what the "Great Exodus" was, despite counting years from it.
- Time Skip: Blood of Sunset takes place ca. 600 years after Incomparable Right. The second duology is prone to many-year skips, too.
- Trilogy Creep: And Kudzu Plot. And Door Stopper. Not quite as bad as The Wheel of Time in this department, but by the middle of Wind's Harvest it became apparent that the plot is not going to be resolved any time soon.
- True Companions: The "Wolf Cubs", Alexander's personal merry gang comprised of youngest children of aristocratic families loyal to Tagere, which eventually evolves into the most feared regiment of Arcia and is slaughtered almost completely in the beginning of the fifth book.
- Unluckily Lucky: Rene Arroy was Born Lucky, so when things are left up to chance, they usually go his way. However, this also means that he casually subjects himself to incredible dangers that, even though he always manages to survive them (in some way), have long-lasting and grave consequences for him.
- Unstoppable Rage: When Eanke kills Asten, Gerika taps into The Dark Side for the first time. Let's just say that all that's left of both Eanke and her escort afterwards can be put into a small box. A very small box.
- Updated Re-release: The first duology re-released in a single volume titled Tarra: Edge of the Storm in 2009, with many of the plot holes and continuity errors fixed.
- Vestigial Empire: Anhel's Arcia, briefly resurrected under René only to fall apart for good later.
- White Sheep: Basil Grizier (based on Anthony Woodville, who unexpectedly survives), the completely irrelevant member of the "poodles" who suddenly becomes one of Arcia's leading diplomats and courtiers—all while retaining the self-deprecating attitude to himself as a result of his family history.
- Written by the Winners: The Corrupt Church is particularly guilty of this. After the War of the Deer, they overwrite its history, e.g. making Mikhai the righteous king and René, the bad guy, who seduced Mikhai's innocent daughter Gerika to get his throne. They attempt to do it even more blatantly after Alexander's defeat, presenting him as a Card-Carrying Villain and Pierre Tartue, as the rightful heir. They even employ a playwright... a slight poke of William Shakespeare's Richard III.
- You Shall Not Pass: In his personal Crowning Moment Of Awesome, Arthur Barrot stays back to hold off an entire enemy army on a narrow bridge while his True Companions are bringing the reinforcements. And he survives.