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Chapter 3 - Sethra's Army in Dragon

In Dragon, Sethra's army marches from Castle Black to within sight of the Eastern Mountains:

It had started raining a little before noon the very first day I'd marched with Cropper Company ... We'd been marching for about four hours ... Somewhere in there we crossed into enemy-held territory ... Years later I found out that Sethra had cut the entire army off from its supply lines ... The rainfall grew heavier ... We're bound for interesting country / I looked around; it was plain, and flat, with never a hill and hardly a tree to break up the terrain. (Dragon, Chapter 9)

in the distance there were now a few hills to be seen [they stop for the night] Thirty hours later ... You'll see the Eastern Mountains in the daylight ... I strained my eyes eastward, but in the failing light couldn't see any mountain ... We're pretty high up, Boss; I can tell you that much ... Their nearest outpost is three miles northeast of us (Dragon, Chapter 9)

At this point, two days in, Vlad has been assured he will be able to see the Eastern Mountains.

From how far away can you see a mountain? It appears that on the Earth, you might be able to spot a mountain that is 466 miles away in perfect conditions, but you can definitely spot one from 330 miles away. That's on a clear day on Earth, but what about the Enclouding that shrouds the Empire? Perhaps it is thin enough this far east so as not to hamper visibility. Even if it does affect visibility, I don't know how to calculate the impact it would have, so either way I'll stick to the 330 mile figure. The shaded area on the following map shows every point that is within 330 miles of the peaks of the Eastern Mountains:

Eastern Mountain Visibility
Eastern Mountain Visibility

At this time, they have not yet encountered the Laughing River, which indicates they are traveling to the west of it. The nearest point that is within sight of the Eastern Mountains and yet not within sight of the Laughing River is probably some distance northwest of the river where it crosses into the shaded area. I measured that distance as about 650 miles.

In two days, that works out to 325 miles a day, which is an astonishing figure for an army on foot. The Romans, for example, expected their troops to march 25 miles in a day, which works out to be about 31 miles in a Dragaeran day.

From there, a few more days pass, and they finally arrive at the Laughing River:

The rains plagued us for the next day ... by then it was time to sack out for the night ... after a couple of days, the rains [stopped] (Dragon, Chapter 10)

There were mountains before us now: the Eastern Mountains in general, and Mount Drift in particular; I remembered it from the map. There was no more rain at all, as we had reached the dry lands west of the mountains; by whim of the Gods or freak of nature, the eastern slopes of the mountains were lush and forested while the western would have been desert were it not for the mountain streams, washes, and rivers that made their way across ... Eventually, late one evening, we reached the Eastern River ... Beyond it Mount Drift was getting close, and its companions were appearing tall and impassible ... once we crossed the river, we could follow it downstream right into the heart of Fornia's territory. (Dragon, Chapter 10)

This is at least four more days (next day ... couple of days ... Eventually, late one evening).

After crossing the river, they turn north for some unknown distance, then turn and head back south, then finally turn east and march straight towards the Wall:

we usually had the Eastern River on our left, and we always had the Eastern Mountains on our right, and we kept going north; and then one day we turned around for no apparent reason and headed back south, almost exactly retracing our steps ... one day, we made a sharp turn, put our backs to the river, and headed toward the mountains ... One peak in particular seemed to be our destination; a very tall, reddish-looking mountain with, it appeared, nothing whatsoever growing on its side. ... we stopped a few miles away from it, and I saw just how steep it was; it seemed to rise straight up from the ground, its top lost in the overcast [The Wall] ... That piece of rock is Baritt's Tomb. (Dragon, Chapter 12)

If they traveled at 325 miles the first two days, why did it take four more to travel less than half the distance? Perhaps because the ground became rougher and more elevated?

I find this whole march challenging to visualize, but here's my best guess (the area that is within sight of the Eastern Mountains is shaded in light blue):

Sethra's Assault on Fornia
Sethra's Assault on Fornia

An even more confusing item is Vlad's belief that on the first day they crossed into enemy-held territory. Does Fornia extend that far south? If Fornia's army was so close, why did they march several hundred miles north before engaging him? Vlad claims Sethra cut off Fornia's army from its supply lines with presumably this maneuver, but I'm not sure where his supply lines were that made this possible so close to Southmoor (perhaps he had supplies shipped east along the Yendi River, or brought up through Methni's Channel).

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Copyright © 2011 Bryan Newell, unless otherwise noted.