Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire

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In both cases, the rebel fleets were defeated by the Constantinopolitan Imperial Fleet through the use of Greek fire. The importance placed on Greek fire during the Empire's struggle against the Arabs would lead to its discovery being ascribed to divine intervention. The Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetos r. This, however, was apparently not enough to allow their enemies to copy it see below. Greek fire continued to be mentioned during the 12th century, and Anna Komnene gives a vivid description of its use in a naval battle against the Pisans in This might be because of the general disarmament of the Empire in the 20 years leading up to the sacking, or because the Byzantines had lost access to the areas where the primary ingredients were to be found, or even perhaps because the secret had been lost over time.

Records of a 13th-century event in which "Greek fire" was used by the Saracens against the Crusaders can be read through the Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville during the Seventh Crusade. One description of the memoir says "the tail of fire that trailed behind it was as big as a great spear; and it made such a noise as it came, that it sounded like the thunder of heaven. It looked like a dragon flying through the air. Such a bright light did it cast, that one could see all over the camp as though it were day, by reason of the great mass of fire, and the brilliance of the light that it shed.

In the 19th century, it is reported that an Armenian by the name of Kavafian approached the government of the Ottoman Empire with a new type of Greek fire he claimed to have developed. Kavafian refused to reveal its composition when asked by the government, insisting that he be placed in command of its use during naval engagements. Not long after this, he was poisoned by imperial authorities, without their ever having found out his secret. As Constantine Porphyrogennetos' warnings show, the ingredients and the processes of manufacture and deployment of Greek fire were carefully guarded military secrets.

So strict was the secrecy that the composition of Greek fire was lost forever and remains a source of speculation. Despite this almost exclusive focus, however, Greek fire is best understood as a complete weapon system of many components, all of which were needed to operate together to render it effective. The information available on Greek fire is exclusively indirect, based on references in the Byzantine military manuals and a number of secondary historical sources such as Anna Komnene and Western European chroniclers, which are often inaccurate.

In her Alexiad , Anna Komnene provides a description of an incendiary weapon, which was used by the Byzantine garrison of Dyrrhachium in against the Normans. It is often regarded as an at least partial "recipe" for Greek fire: [36] [37] [38]. This fire is made by the following arts. From the pine and the certain such evergreen trees inflammable resin is collected.

This is rubbed with sulfur and put into tubes of reed, and is blown by men using it with violent and continuous breath. Then in this manner it meets the fire on the tip and catches light and falls like a fiery whirlwind on the faces of the enemies. At the same time, the reports by Western chroniclers of the famed ignis graecus are largely unreliable, since they apply the name to any and all sorts of incendiary substances. In attempting to reconstruct the Greek fire system, the concrete evidence, as it emerges from the contemporary literary references, provides the following characteristics:.

The first and, for a long time, most popular theory regarding the composition of Greek fire held that its chief ingredient was saltpeter , making it an early form of gunpowder. A second view, based on the fact that Greek fire was inextinguishable by water some sources suggest that water intensified the flames suggested that its destructive power was the result of the explosive reaction between water and quicklime. Although quicklime was certainly known and used by the Byzantines and the Arabs in warfare, [52] the theory is refuted by literary and empirical evidence.

A quicklime-based substance would have to come in contact with water to ignite, while Emperor Leo's Tactica indicate that Greek fire was often poured directly on the decks of enemy ships, [53] although admittedly, decks were kept wet due to lack of sealants. Likewise, Leo describes the use of grenades, [54] which further reinforces the view that contact with water was not necessary for the substance's ignition.

Zenghelis pointed out that, based on experiments, the actual result of the water—quicklime reaction would be negligible in the open sea. However, extensive experiments with it also failed to reproduce the described intensity of Greek fire. Consequently, although the presence of either quicklime or saltpeter in the mixture cannot be entirely excluded, they were not the primary ingredient.

The Byzantines had easy access to crude oil from the naturally occurring wells around the Black Sea e. Although the text contains some inaccuracies, it clearly identifies the main component as naphtha. A 12th century treatise prepared by Mardi bin Ali al-Tarsusi for Saladin records an Arab version of Greek fire, called naft , which also had a petroleum base, with sulfur and various resins added. Any direct relation with the Byzantine formula is unlikely. The Byzantine military manuals also mention that jars chytrai or tzykalia filled with Greek fire and caltrops wrapped with tow and soaked in the substance were thrown by catapults, while pivoting cranes gerania were employed to pour it upon enemy ships.

Anna Komnene gives this account of beast-shaped Greek fire projectors being mounted to the bow of warships: [76]. As he [the Emperor Alexios I ] knew that the Pisans were skilled in sea warfare and dreaded a battle with them, on the prow of each ship he had a head fixed of a lion or other land-animal, made in brass or iron with the mouth open and then gilded over, so that their mere aspect was terrifying.

And the fire which was to be directed against the enemy through tubes he made to pass through the mouths of the beasts, so that it seemed as if the lions and the other similar monsters were vomiting the fire. As they came out of the boulders onto the open tundra, his gaze roved in the way of an experienced hunter who knows how to read the land for signs of game: broken stalks of grass, prints sunk into the ground, a carcass stripped to the bone, fresh scat.

No matter how she tried to focus, her thoughts kept swirling back to her grievance. It wasn't fair that Grandmother protected Baishya while she got stuck with a half-crippled orc who mocked her and didn't even belong to the clan. Just because Grandmother said he was one of them now didn't make it true. She kicked a rock onto a shallow puddle. The rock cracked the skin of ice on the water and sank out of sight. He glanced her way. Better not to choke on words that should be loosed like arrows. What kind of answers do dead things have, except for signs that tell us how they were killed?

It's better to let the dead go and concentrate on the hunt. Maybe not better for us who must serve them rather than rule ourselves as we once did. But the thought of turning him over to Atarka grated. He wasn't wrong for pointing out that the rule of the dragonlords was harsh and uncompromising, that it made the people more like servants than proud hunters.

She did not want to become one of those spineless tale-tellers who scraped and wheedled in Ayagor to try to win the favor of Atarka, as if the dragon cared anything for her mortal subjects except that they brought her meat and more meat. But that is not why, young one. Many ways to fight, even if my tribe does not recognize their worth. Unlike the humans, he needed no gloves because the tough skin of his hands withstood the worst cold. A network of thin scars wove a harsh pattern across the back of each hand, the mark of no claw she had ever seen.

Maybe it was just how orcs got old, like age spots on the hands of wizened elders kept alive by their sentimental children. Atarka rules us now, not the dragonclaw, not a khan. Even though we don't like it, that's just how it is. He gestured across his throat, cutting her off. Humiliated by his high-handedness toward her—Yasova's granddaughter! If only she were a dragon. She would burn him. Burn him.

But he hadn't been reacting to her words. His tongue licked the air. His back stiffened. He stuck the staff into a loop along his back and tugged free both swords with a swift motion whose efficiency impressed her. Made of brass, they were the most valuable objects he possessed, although they did not have nearly as sharp a cutting edge as the obsidian weapons used by the rest of the tribe.

A vast darkness sped toward them, monstrous and silent. Only one creature possessed such a frightening spread of spiky, glowing antlers. Naiva sprinted back toward the boulders, but although she was young and fleet, she was not a dragonlord. Atarka's huge form passed over her in a wash of shadow and heat.

The dragon slammed down to earth right at the edge of the boulders.

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The ground shook. Naiva stumbled, catching herself on her forward hand, then leaped back up and kept running. But it was too late. The dragonlord had caught Grandmother and the others a spear's toss away from the outermost boulders and placed herself between them and the safety of the rocks. Naiva slowed to a walk. She knew better than to move quickly. Atarka might look ungainly but nothing moved faster than the dragonlord when her ire was roused. The dragon's growl rolled as loudly as the avalanche that had torn away half the snow field on Eternal Ice.

With a long, hot hiss, she reached out and closed her claws around Darka. Grandmother strode forward and tapped her spear on the dirt three times, demanding to be seen. Never would she bow. Never would she cringe. For eighteen years my people have brought you meat in honor of our agreement. I have something better and more substantial for you than a skinny ainok. The great eyes blinked. Sour scorching breath gusted over them. He was my favorite.

Naiva doubted that any of the broodlings were Atarka's favorite but the dragon was a wily, greedy beast. They did not kill him. It fell out of sight but close to the spot where, Naiva knew, the carcass of the broodling lay. His death sickened her, but they all faced death every day. At least his had come quickly. Grandmother did not move, keeping herself between the dragon and Darka's kinsman, Rakhan. But as I was saying before you wasted the meat of my ainok, we have killed you something better.

One of Ojutai's kin killed your broodling and fed on its innards. We avenged your broodling's death by killing the outsider.

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A dragon for your next feast! Atarka raised her head and tested the air. The pungent odor of the tempest still lingered, woven in with the smell of grass, of dirt, of drying blood and old rock. Grandmother gestured for the others to remain behind and started walking, alone, toward the distant scatter of boulders where the broodling had deposited the dead Ojutai dragon. Atarka slammed a foreclaw down on the ground in front of the old woman. I will eat all if I am not satisfied. Naiva kept her back rigid and her gaze ahead; every child was taught never to challenge a dragon by looking them directly in the eyes but also never to cringe submissively or run away.

It was better to die than to cringe. She let the others pass, exchanging a glance with Baishya. Her twin hesitated, making ready to fall back with her, but Naiva gestured for her to go ahead. Only when everyone else had gone ahead did she fall in at the end of the line. Nothing but air separated her from Atarka. The dragonlord paced behind them, each footfall an earthquake. When the dragon exhaled, sparks swirled past her body. It was so hard not to glance behind, not that a look would save her.

One swipe, one blast, and she'd be dead, obliterated, but she wanted to do as Grandmother would do. She wanted to prove herself worthy of being Yasova Dragonclaw's granddaughter: undaunted, a living shield between danger and the tribe. Her sense of the world around her expanded: each step might be her last, each intake of breath her final measure, each heartbeat the end. Tae Jin glancing back at her; Baishya's shallow breathing; Rakhan's stifled grief; the other hunters silent and alert, ready for anything even if that anything was the death that awaited all in the end.


But Atarka let them live, or maybe she had crueler sports in mind to play with her hostages. They lived on her sufferance. The dragonlords were more powerful than the old ways, so what was the point of cherishing the ancestors when they had been crushed and defeated? If they had been worthy, surely they would have won.

Unexpectedly, Atarka leaped upward and with a howl of glee flew in a quick hop over them to drop down beside the body of the Ojutai dragon. The slender dragon was badly torn up after the titanic battle, but they all braced themselves as Atarka snuffled around the body and inhaled a taste of his congealed blood. Would she realize no human weapons had cut the body? She whipped her tail back and forth to force the hunting party up against a boulder, trapping them there. Thinking of their mother, Naiva placed herself in front of Baishya, but the dragon's gaze fell not on the inheritor of their mother's shamanic gifts but on Tae Jin.

Fortunately, the mended tunic covered his ghostfire tattoo, but his facial features and shaved head marked him as different from the other humans. Tae Jin took a step forward, lifting his arms, palms up, and bringing his forearms together in the gesture that would birth the ghostfire blade in his hands. Do not begin that which you cannot end. As he obediently lowered his arms to his side, she returned her attention to the dragonlord. What use for a brave warrior is it to serve a pompous, ice-breathing windbag when he can hunt in the service of a true dragon like you?

Atarka rumbled, her head swaying mesmerically back and forth as she considered first the carcass and then the slight young man. Tae Jin took a step forward. For example, I can tell you many stories. They are not tasty like meat. But consider this. Ojutai himself sent his own favored broodling to hunt down the man. He did not wish the man to leave his domain and serve another, greater dragonlord. You win a victory over Ojutai by keeping this man alive in your tribe when Ojutai wants him dead. Atarka's cruel laughter washed over them like an icy bath.

Tell a story while I feast. Then I decide. As the great dragon began ripping into the smaller dragon's cooling flesh, Tae Jin began to speak. A very, very long time ago, there ruled a king of great beneficence, greater than any other king in all the land. This king was a dragon of particular wisdom and strength. Once called the least of his siblings, Nicol had traveled the continent of his birth with his brother Ugin to discover the truth of the world.

But alas, the truth was harsh. The world was harsh. Violence and murder erupted even in the most orderly of humanoid realms, even when there was plenty of space for all where vegetation grew lushly and beasts roamed in abundance. Troubled and distraught by this revelation, the young dragon journeyed to the mountain of his birth with his brother. He wasn't sure what he sought but hoped to discover enlightenment.

A far more terrible prospect greeted him when at last he reached the ancient peak. The humans who lived below the bright radiance of the birth mountain had elevated a killer as their chief, and his heirs were also killers. Atarka raised her head, sinew and flesh dripping from her jaws, and fixed a hot, golden gaze upon Tae Jin.

The air snapped with anticipation. He had her attention now, and that was not a good thing. He rubbed at his eyes, shook his head as if to clear it, and muttered, "That isn't the story I meant to tell. Let me try again. With vile sorcery the chief and his heirs preyed upon dragons, caring nothing for the noble superiority of the magnificent ones. These feeble humans fed on the blood and bone of those greater than themselves, hoping to steal that strength.

With spear and sorcery, the chief crushed his subjects under his heel. Those who pleased and flattered him prospered, and those who were caught whispering treason under their breath died. Those who could not fight labored hungrily in the fields to feed him. The healthy and strong were given spears and whips with which to thrash the rebellious and the stranger into submission. As the years passed, the chief came to rule more people and extend his sway over more of the land. The greedy prospered, and the weak groaned under the burden of their endless toil.

But dragons do not suffer such indignities for long.

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Such an affront must be answered. When the young dragon arrived at the birth mountain and saw the injustice and abuse being meted out to the vulnerable, he knew he must act. It is true his brother was not as bold; he caviled; he hesitated. But to do nothing to avenge the death of one's kin is the same as killing them yourself.

Outnumbered and unable to match the cruel sorcery of the humans, the young dragon outwitted the humans instead. With matchless cunning, he set the heirs against each other so that they fought one against the next until all lost the war for succession. In the course of the war, his brother was swept away into nothingness by a blast of human sorcery, their own claw of revenge.

But the dragon triumphed.

Dragons always triumph for that is their nature, to rise above all. In place of the brutal chief, the young dragon was acclaimed as savior of the realm and offered the throne. Those who had once worshiped the drinker of dragon's blood now bowed before the dragon. He ruled according to the precepts he had discussed at length with his brother, for they were ever eager to understand the world's scope and heart.

He knew that he could best honor the memory of his beloved brother by acting as he would have done, as he would have urged his brother to do. So it was that he reigned justly and fairly, with order and peace, for many generations. Where is the blood and the shattered bone? Victarion's Iron Fleet of over ninety ships splits into three squadrons and sets sail for Meereen.

With him aboard Iron Victory is "the dusky woman ", a gift of Euron's. She is comely but mute. On the journey, Victarion loses nearly half his ships, though he also gains some ships back by capturing and seizing several trading vessels and their cargo. Victarion's wounded hand continues to trouble him, and he suspects that Kerwin , the maester that Euron sent to accompany him, is poisoning him. During the voyage, a red priest of R'hllor named Moqorro is discovered clinging to wreckage out at sea. The crew wants him killed, but Moqorro convinces Victarion to allow him to treat his wounded hand.

Behind closed doors, Moqorro apparently uses magic on the lord captain; when Victarion emerges from his cabin, his hand is charred and blackened. Moqorro, like Melisandre , can see the future in the flames, and uses the magic to aid Victarion in his quest. For instance, Victarion orders his crew to kill Kerwin, as Moqorro had a vision that the maester's death would bring the ship good winds.

Victarion makes offerings to both the Drowned God and R'hllor. Moqorro also alerts Victarion that he has seen Daenerys married in the flames, but Victarion is unconcerned by this, stating "she would not be the first woman I made a widow.

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Words are wind, and the only good wind is that which fills our sails. When Balon was wed, it was me he sent to Harlaw to bring him back his bride. I led his longships into many a battle, and never lost but one. The first time Balon took a crown, it was me sailed into Lannisport to singe the lion's tail. The second time, it was me he sent to skin the Young Wolf should he come howling home. All you'll get from me is more of what you got from Balon. A wolf is not a a kraken. What the kraken grasps it does not lose, be it longship or leviathan.

Wizards may be well and good, but blood and steel win wars. There is no wine so sweet as wine taken from a foe.

One day I shall drink your wine, Crow's Eye , and take from you all that you hold dear. I beat her to death with mine own hands, but the Crow's Eye killed her when he shoved himself inside her. I had no choice. Euron : It is a fearsome thing to sail beyond Valyria. Victarion : I could sail the Iron Fleet to hell if need be.

Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire
Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire
Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire
Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire
Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire Battle For Magic: Hand of Fire

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