I’ll admit, Lord Zion Thernardier is an irredeemably evil scoundrel, coward, and lowlife, rendering him rather generic and boring. The battle waged by Tigre and Elen’s forces on the Molsheim Plains to defend Alsace? That’s another story. Even if Zion’s existence was a chore, the episode that ended with his timely and welcome demise was well-orchestrated piece of fantasy warfare.
This was a great battle, full of careful preparation and build-up but plenty of withheld information to make the specific unfolding of the battle a surprise. Elen’s army is only 900 against Zion’s 2,700, but if they maintain their kill ratio of 3-to-1 as they did in repelling the raid on Alsace, they shouldn’t have a problem. That ratio is made possible thanks to some clever tactics devised by Torn. Oh, and having his steward nearby to toss him fresh quivers – good to see the episode took logistics into account.
The movements of both armies are covered by an occasional cut to a strategic game board-like construct with CGI figures representing the units, and a well-informed narrator delivering the play-by-play. I actually really liked this method, as it not only satisfactorily explained what was going on in the action sequences, but split them up to avoid monotony.
As soon as I saw those two dragons last week, I knew Elen would be facing off against one or both of them. She for one, wasn’t expecting a dragon, but as a War Maiden/Vanadis, she’s more than capable of dispatching one on her own, albeit by breaking out a heretofore rarely-used Rey Admos, which she doesn’t use on people.
Lima’s unit of knights retreats, luring Zion’s flying column of knights, whose horses trip over a great rope made from smaller ropes gathered from the townsfolk of Alsace. After the earth dragon falls and a force of 2,000 enemy cavalry appears on the horizon (with only 100 riders, but it’s dark and the ruse works), Zion orders his knights to retreat and challenges Tigre to a duel. Tigre, who has been taking out enemies three per loosing of his bow.
Zion initiates the duel believing his prowess at jousting will win the day over the lowly huntsman, but he doesn’t consider the fact that if enough arrows go to the same place in his thick shield, eventually a hole is going to be made – one that goes right through his arm. But as Tigres and Elen’s forces fight each other, Zion escapes on the flying dragon, abandoning his forces altogether.
Tigre – and I – curse the fact Zion still isn’t dead (even if there’s a good chance he’ll succumb to infection), but then his bow starts to glow blue and talk to him in a gentle female voice, urging him to shoot the dragon. When he nocks, the bow borrows and merges with the power of Elen’s blade Arifar, and the arrow cleaves Zion’s dragon in two. Daddy’s gonna be pissed.
So this was a fun battle with lots of cool tactics and ruses that a military tourist like myself can really get into. It also showed us just how much ass Elen can kick when she chooses to. I’m not opposed to seeing more battles like this, but it suffered a bit from a weak, boring enemy (Zion) whose defeat was a foregone conclusion. Also, he fell in a lake and still may not be dead, which would frankly suck. But still, well done this week, Vanadis!