Twenty Seven

Twenty Seven

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
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Woodedge prepares for battle.

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27.

‘Let him who desires peace, prepare for war.’

   --Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus

 

With surprising quickness, things progressed around Woodedge.   The Elven Council left by late afternoon and surprised everyone by arriving in mid evening with slightly less than four hundred Elves.    It was all that remained of the Elven people and they had actually journeyed with the Council and Zete, though they had camped about 5 miles west, waiting for the meeting’s results.

Gevin was saddened that the remnant was so small, for he’d hoped there would be far more left.    Those who arrived were mostly younger Elves (though you couldn’t actually tell as Elves quit aging after reaching maturity) and were wary of those watching them arrive.

“Most of them were either very young or had not yet been born when the forest burned,”  Troem told Gevin and they and their ladies watched them.

“They are scared of us, especially of me,” Gevin replied, “Come on, let’s go meet them in person.”

“Even me?” Zaeya asked.

“The sooner they see that we are willing to associate with them and mingle amongst them, the sooner they will trust us.”

So the four went down and did just that, surprising the new immigrants.    It caused somewhat of a sensation as the Elves grouped around the four.   Many vented their suspicions and even hatred of Gevin and their fear of Zaeya.    Gevin responded gently and sincerely to their concerns, showing remorse and acknowledging his blame for the disasters that befell the Elven people.   But not all the Elves were angry and many of them seemed impressed by his honesty and sincerity.   

Troem was well received as one of their own and his words to them did much to ease the minds of those angry for Gevin’s past sins.   Zaeya either worried or fascinated them, but the young men in particular were charmed by her charisma and to Gevin’s amazement, by the time everyone had dispersed for the night, most were fond of her.

 Yet it was Applemint with which the immigrants were most thrilled.   They had heard the report of their council and they treated her almost as if she was the reincarnation of the White Queen.   She did the most to soften their hearts toward Gevin and they clearly loved her by evening’s end.

“That went quite well,” Gevin told his friends as they were heading back to the fort.  

“Then why do you sound troubled?”  Applemint asked, sensing his tone.

“Well, they don’t seem as sure of me as they are of the rest of you.   I’m thankful that you were well-received, and Zaeya especially turned on her charm and won them over.”

“Naturally,” The Drow lady replied, her head held high.

“Don’t sell yourself short, Gevin,” Troem said, “Elves think about things a long time and the fact that they are here only hours after your meeting with the Elven Council is a very good sign.   You were open and honest with them and they know that.”

“I just hope they feel comfortable here, near this fort which probably has painful memories to some of them.    Then we should wonder about the humans in the garrison - if one or two of them gets drunk and causes trouble with the Elves, this could all come apart.”

“The humans here are a respectful lot.    It seems the Elves love the Halflings.”  Troem answered.

“They love Applemint,”  Zaeya added, “She has the knack with them, that’s for sure.”

Applemint was surprised and pleased with the Drow lady’s compliment, “Thank you, Zaeya, I have to admit that I felt so nervous talking to them that I thought I sounded like an idiot.”

“They loved you and that will probably help them overcome any misgivings with Gevin.    I must say that our reluctant duke was equally as charming though and I could tell that all of them were softened toward him by the time they left.”

“Well, the Elven Council is meeting with the immigrants this evening in The Wood Chip and I’ve asked that they be given some privacy so they can discuss everything with the council.”

“My Mom and Grandma are finding rooms for them, there are several human families that agreed to take some of them in until they can find permanent homes in some of the vacant houses in the village,”  Applemint told them.

“That will certainly help ease tensions.    Zaeya, how are the golems coming along?”

“The second one is about halfway done, but I’d like to get some of the Elven immigrants interested in magic so we could increase production.   I thought about asking the Elven Council for permission to make this suggestion to them.”

“They’d agree,” Troem responded, “I saw how the Council reacted to your suggestion of teaching magic to their people.    I think you’ll have many willing apprentices.”

“All of them young men,”  Applemint teased, but Zaeya took it as a compliment and thrust her chest out.

“When you’ve got it, use it.   Remember that, Applemint, for you’ve got it too.”

“So noted,” She answered, thrusting her own chest out as the Drow lady did, to the men’s amusement.

 

***

 

Weeks passed quickly and soon it was the hottest part of the year, late summer; not too long before harvest time.   The arrival of the Elves seemed to be a signal for other small roaming groups to join them, as over the summer several bands of humans that had fled Greidour after the coup asked for permission to settle around Woodedge.    After Zaeya used truth detection magic on their spokesmen to determine their honesty, they were allowed, and so around two hundred additional people were integrated into the growing community until there were just shy of eight hundred residents by summer’s end.

For eight weeks the people of Woodedge worked feverishly to fortify the village and prepare for another assault by Earl Cetiline’s forces.   Everyone spent each waking hour doing something useful, and Gevin worked tirelessly gaining the trust of the Elven immigrants and strengthening relationships with the humans and Halflings of the community.  

Surprisingly, everything went quite smoothly and there were very few conflicts (and even those were easily handled).   The Elves seemed almost happy to be among the other races and the humans and little folk were fascinated and charmed by the Elves.

Several of the Elven men taught use of the longbow to the human residents and nearly every man and a large number of women continued to practice daily in the archery field.    A friendly rivalry between the Elves with their longbows and the Halflings with their short bows developed, with many contests and much good-natured joking that only worked to hone their skills for the dreaded future defense of their town.

The humans’ skill at arms grew as well and Gevin personally trained a number of people on swordsmanship.   Applemint was his favorite student, of course.   They announced their engagement publicly the day following the Elves’ arrival and planned their wedding for sometime in the fall, hopefully after an attack by Cetiline’s forces (or, if they were really fortunate, no attack at all).   Applemint’s father and brothers instructed the older children and some of the women on use of the short bow and her mother and grandmother, along with a multitude of other women, sewed gambesons and fletched arrows.

Weapon construction was a high priority, but limited resources meant that there were more spears and reinforced clubs than there were swords.    

It was decided to allow merchants to trade with the city, though everyone knew that Cetiline would have numerous spies amongst them to learn about their preparedness.   Applemint and Zaeya came up with a scheme to mess up the information gathering of these spies by various tricky means, including illusionary magic.   

Once, when a couple of spies were eating at the Wood Chip, Zaeya cast a ‘Mirror image’ spell on the four golems that had been made at that point and then had them trudge down the street past the Wood Chip so the spies would see it, after first planting some of their people inside the Wood Chip posing as simple townsfolk, who would talk about the golems.    The spell Zaeya cast made it appear that they had eight golems and as they passed the windows of the Inn and the spies were glancing out at them, those planted there chatted about how their wizards had crafted ‘eight more golems this week’ and then debated whether that would make eighty or eighty eight of them in total.    Another time they spread a rumor to the spies that Zaeya had trained twenty residents to cast spells that would reanimate the dead and that she was in the process of making rock golems that were extremely hard to destroy.

They never knew if the false rumors were believed, but it did give them two months to prepare.   Food was stored up in the garrison fort and by late summer they did indeed have eight clay golems, after Zaeya and Troem taught six Elves and two humans specific spells for creating them, which greatly sped up the process.   The newly constructed golems weren’t idle either, but were used in the creation of an eight foot tall and two foot wide wall of undressed field stones that completely encircled the village, with only one gate, which was next to the garrison fort.   It was crude, but with the help of the large golems, by summer’s end, it was done.    While this was being constructed, some of the Elves and humans made wooden ‘towers’ - six in all- to be placed at certain spots next to the gate and around the perimeter of the stone wall.    The towers were just wooden framed platforms with ladders to reach the top, where defenders could shoot arrows down at attackers.   The golems built sections of the wall in front of the towers an extra two feet high so the defenders had some protection on the platforms.

Wood was somewhat scarce - ironically- in Woodedge, so much of their building supplies were bought from merchants, and that meant that word would eventually get back to Cetiline about their plans.   It was a chance they decided to take.  

By the time the wall was done, enough food was stored for a lengthy siege and a surplus of bows, arrows, quivers and quilted gambesons were available for everyone.   Spears and simple clubs were the hand weapons provided to most, though the Elves had their long Elven knives and swords as well.  They had salvaged some weapons and armor from Cetiline’s army when they abandoned their camp, but there was not enough left behind to arm a great number of the residents.   

Some of the people from Woodedge had planted crops in some of the fields of the abandoned farmsteads around the town and the harvest looked to be good this year as long as Cetiline didn’t tromp through the land with a destructive and hungry army before harvest time.   Any supplies left behind at the farms by families that had fled earlier that year were reused for other things.   Broken furniture or wagons had their wood recycled into small shields or clubs.    Abandoned scrap metal was melted down and used to make arrow and spear heads.  

Some of the residents purchased weapons and better armor from passing merchants (at high cost) but Gevin was pleased with their decision.   He formed a horse patrol from the restless Elven teens (and some human teens as well) who rode out about five to ten miles each day up the only road that an army could use to get to Woodedge.   They were charged with watching for an advancing force and they seemed to like the assignment as it gave them something important to do.  Crois was a lieutenant to the captain of these patrols and his attitude remained respectful toward Gevin.   His father, Terib, was one of the instructors for archery and the Elven Council worked feverishly to get all of their people settled in the various empty houses in the village.

The residents of Woodedge were very innovative in their defenses and work-arounds for material they lacked.   Perhaps the most brilliant idea came from Troem as he watched the golems building up the wall around one of the wooden towers.    He worried that a large army would overwhelm the tower and walls, and thought to himself how wonderful it would be if the towers could be much taller.   As he thought this, he watched one of Zaeya’s students use a levitation spell to lift the floor of the wooden platform up to position. 

Then the idea came to him - they could make a series of strong wooden platforms, about ten feet square and reinforced by steel underneath.    In the middle and at several places on the platform, they would put several large holes.    The platforms would be loaded down with rocks and maybe ten men with bows and arrows, then one of Zaeya’s students would cast a levitation spell on the platform and raise it up forty or fifty feet.    Another student could cast a simple maneuvering spell to move the platform over an enemy and when overhead, those on the levitating platform could drop rocks and debris, burning oil or simply shoot arrows down upon the enemy forces.    They would be too high for the enemy’s arrows to be effective and as long as the controlling magic users were able to focus and keep the spells active, they would be difficult to defeat.

Excited at his idea, he told Zaeya, who liked it and told him that she could cast a permanent levitation spell upon each platform that could be controlled by a ‘pilot’ on board each one.   Then as long as the platform did not sustain too much damage or was overloaded with weight, it could be used indefinitely.  

Gevin and Applemint loved the idea and within a week’s time, ten levitation platforms had been made that could hold a large pile of unused field stones from the wall construction as well as half a dozen archers and a pilot trained on how to move the platform up, down and sideways.   Knowledge of these levitation platforms were kept secluded from most of the people of the growing community out of fear that the spies would report their construction to Cetiline.

On the very day that the finishing touches on the perimeter wall were completed, a rider sent from the horse patrol reported that a massive army was sighted in the distance by some of the sharper-eyed Elven horsemen.   

“How many are there?”  Gevin had asked as everyone that had assembled for the wall completion ceremony fell hush.

“All of us that could see them debated about that, sir, and we came to the consensus that there are probably 10,000 to 15,000 men, most of them on foot but with a sizeable cavalry.”

Those assembled murmured and Gevin glanced at Applemint who stood at his side.

“We have 797 residents here - Nevon took count yesterday,”  Applemint said to him, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Of that number, approximately 630 are ready to go to battle and are healthy and of the right age.    Add to that about 20 to 30 merchants here today, but we don’t know what they’ll do or where their loyalties stand.”

“ Six hundred against fifteen thousand,”  Gevin responded, “But we have a few surprises for them.   They won’t be easily frightened by illusions this time.”

He turned to those assembled and spoke loudly, “We are faced with what we have trained and prepared months for; I know all of you want to keep this town free and share my dream to re-establish Albsidhe again.   To do that we must face this obstacle that might seem insurmountable, but I firmly believe that we can, by Yesh’s mercy, achieve this.    You all know what your jobs are in the upcoming struggle, now go and prepare yourselves and spread the news.   This time the enemy will be at our gates, but we shall try to delay them before they arrive.”

 

Immediately, everyone dispersed in various directions, preparing to put the plan for the defense of Woodedge into motion.

 

***

 

Baron Dellye and Earl Cetiline had spent months convincing, threatening or bribing various noblemen to send troops under the Earl’s banner against the ‘dangerous forces’ massing around the garrison fort at Woodedge.   As the Earl’s leg slowly healed, he formulated plans for a massive army that would not be fooled by phantasms and illusions as his first force.    The problem was the stories of supernatural occurrences in that region that spread as rumors always did, all across the fragmented kingdom of Greidour.   

His reputation was on the line, however, and he could never succeed at winning the throne of Greidour with a humiliating defeat at Woodedge hanging over him.   So, with Baron Dellye’s help, they worked hard to raise an army and he was more than a little frustrated that half a year’s work could only gather about 14,000 troops culled from a handful of Barons or Earls that would commit them for this cause.

Still, they far outnumbered the inhabitants of the pitiful village and his spies had returned regular, though often conflicting reports on what happened there.

It did not defer Cetiline from his mission, though and now his army approached the village, but this time with great caution.   Most of their ‘magic’ was simply illusions; this he had told everyone and actually began to believe, though if he wanted to succeed, he had little other choice.

He selected a spot nearly three miles away from the village and split his forces into two camps a half mile apart, so if the half breed knight that had assumed command of the garrison fort decided on another night attack to terrify his forces, half of them could come to their aid or retreat if needed.

He had quadrupled the usual number of sentries around the camp this night and was anxious but surprisingly confident about how the battle would go tomorrow once they reached their destination and attacked.

He fully intended to take the fort in one day, by the sheer number of his forces simultaneously attacking from multiple sides.

As he lay on his cot trying to force himself to sleep, he heard excited murmurs from the guards posted outside his tent. He leaped off the cot and hurried to the entrance to find the guards and several men in the camp staring off to the east, where the village of Woodedge was located.

“What is it?”  He demanded as he joined them.

“I don’t know, m’lord; look!”  The guard pointed and it was easy to see what he was referring to, for there were flashes of green lightning that seemed to be forking out from the location of the garrison fort up into the clouds.   Cetiline watched for a while without comment.

“Trickery,” he finally said, trying his best to sound confident and unworried about it, “They’re trying to scare everyone.    It is nothing but a display of lights cast by their sorceress.    Faerie lights and will-o-wisps.”

The Earl’s confidence seemed to only slightly ease the anxiety on the faces of the men, so he knew he had to drive home his ease at the situation.

“I’m going back to bed; wake me if something meaningful happens,” he turned and was halfway through his tent flap when a commotion came from the direction of the neighboring encampment of Baron Dellye.  

“It’s just trickery, you idiots!”  Earl Cetiline growled angrily, interpreting the noise as simply Dellye’s sentries noticing the green lightning.

But as he turned to rejoin his guards, there came a deep roar and suddenly the sky above Dellye’s camp was lit up with orange light from the flames of a huge, flying, fire-breathing dragon that was swooping down at the camp, belching out fire.

“A Dragon!”  Several of the guards yelled and all around Cetiline’s camp, soldiers awoke and rushed to the entrance of their tents, hearing the commotion.

“Damn, them!”  Cetiline screamed over the yells from his own men as they caught sight of the creature, “There is no dragon!   It’s an illusion!   They want us to flee in the night!”

“It looks real!”  Someone called out in the dark from nearby and the Earl turned to try to find the terrified man, but could not locate him.

“Of course it looks real; otherwise it wouldn’t terrify anyone!”

The dragon spiraled around and with another roar, breathed fire down onto the tents of the neighboring camp.    Men screamed and fled from the dragon’s descent, but the flames of the beast, though they engulfed many tents, did not seem to actually burn them.

“See!   The fire isn’t real, no more than the dragon!”  Cetiline screamed out, shaking his fist in frustration as Baron Dellye’s camp erupted into sheer panic.

Turning to one of the guards, Cetiline grabbed the man by his cloak,  “You!   Find Baron Dellye and tell him to rally his men!   We’re being tricked!   You can clearly see the Dragon’s fire has not caught any of the tents on fire!    Have him calm his men before the damned lot of them run all the way back to Whiteberry!”

The guard looked horrified at the order and though he was much larger than the Earl, Cetiline slapped him, screaming into his face, “Are you a craven coward as well?   Get your butt moving or I’ll have you drawn and quartered!   MOVE!”  

He pushed the guard back, who stumbled, but with the look of a lamb on its way to be slaughtered, turned and ran to do his master’s bidding.

 

As Earl Cetiline was turning to try to yell over the din coming from the next camp in an attempt to calm the men in his camp, there came a sudden rumbling and then a series of booming crashes from Dellye’s encampment.   Turning back to look, Cetiline was stunned to find that the huge dragon had disappeared, but so had the camp.    He could see past the other side of his own camp, but where there had been campfires, torches, tents and panicking men and horses, now there was simply a wall of utter blackness.    Screams and the sounds of either battle or disaster filled the air, but it was as if a thick black veil concealed Dellye’s camp from them.

“What the hell now?!”  Something moving overhead drew his attention upward, in time to see blackness suddenly obscure the sky.

“We’re being attacked!”  Someone yelled and that sent everyone into motion.

“No!   It’s not real, it’s a trick!”  Cetiline yelled at the top of his lungs as men began running everywhere.    But just as he was about to grab the nearest guard to try to get him to help restore order, from above the camp came the same deep rumbling that they had heard from the other camp and the sound of many objects, some quite large, falling, a few of them directly overhead.   He heard a few things dropping around him, and then suddenly everything went absolutely dark and completely silent, as if he’d lost his sense of hearing and sight.

In spite of himself, Cetiline screamed out in alarm, but he could hear nothing leaving his mouth or see anything.   For an instant he wondered if he’d been knocked unconscious, but he knew he was still upright and breathing.    Then something like a hand-sized stone glanced off the edge of his ear and bounced off his shoulder and immediately afterwards a smaller object hit the top of his head, drawing blood though it did not knock him down.    They were not illusions and Earl Cetiline at that moment lost what was left of his bravery.     Yelling in utter silence, he stumbled wildly forward, feeling things raining down from the heavens.   He covered his head with his arms and ran blindly, only to have someone in the darkness crash into him, knocking both of them down.

In sheer terror he clawed his way to his feet, not caring who he was climbing on top of, in his desperation to get away.    He stepped on someone’s face and felt their nose crunch, but he didn’t stop or worry who the poor idiot was; he had to be free of the prison of darkness and silence.

Something sharp from above sliced the side of his cheek and only fueled his desperation.    Bouncing off first one person than another, he pushed and stumbled in the void and when he felt himself in an open area, ran wildly for a few seconds, only to snag his ankle on a tent rope tied to a stake in the ground.    He fell hard onto his chest, the impact knocking him unconscious and there he lay as the madness continued around him.

 

***

 

“I wish we could see the effect,”  Troem said to Zaeya as they hovered about sixty feet above Earl Cetiline’s camp on one of ten platforms that had maneuvered into place overhead while the camps were distracted with Zaeya’s frightening illusion of an attacking dragon.

Holding her right hand flat to keep their platform stationary, she turned to her lover and grinned happily, “It will be pandemonium.  Deprived of two of their senses, most people of every race reacts with hysteria.”

“All from such a simple couple of spells,”  Troem replied, shaking his head, “A Sphere of darkness and another one of no sound, cast on little rocks tossed over the side.   It’s a brilliant strategy.”

Zaeya shrugged, “It was used all the time in the Underdark.   Most Drow, even non magic users, learn to cast both spells as youth.    The secret is not just using them together, cast on rocks, to confound the senses but to build up apprehension before hand, then panic is easy to create.    The Drow are taught not to panic in sudden soundlessness or darkness.   Surface folk are used to big open places, so they get very boxed in when both spells overlap and they can’t see or hear.”

“How long will the spells last?”

“Well, yours should last three hours, the apprentices…about two hours, and my own will last five hours.    But everyone will have fled the radius of the spells by then or else will have died in the wild stampede out of the radius of the sphere.”

“Some have found their way out already…look at them run.”

“Yes, but we can’t keep doing this over and over every six months or so;  Cetiline raises an army, we scare them off, he raises a new one, and so forth.    We need to end it all here, this time…either tonight or tomorrow.”

“I think Gevin concurs.   Do you have any ideas how to facilitate things to bring about a conclusion?”

Zaeya thought for a moment, “Well, they are like cattle right now, so what if we pushed them toward Woodedge while still unorganized and panicked?”

“We’d have to get word to Gevin or Applemint so everyone will be ready.”

“Leave that to me; come take over steering the platform.”

Troem stood beside her and when she slowly lowered her arms, he quickly raised his, causing the platform to slightly dip.

Zaeya immediately began chanting a spell and a moment later a tiny sphere began floating above the palm of her hand.

“It’s a short distance communication ball - a weak crystal ball, so to speak.   It only works if you know the person and their location at the time you are casting it, and they are less than about five miles away.    That was a fair distance in the Underdark, but up here it seems much shorter.”  She turned to the sphere and spoke Gevin’s name and a moment later the startled face of the Half-Elf appeared, bending over and looking closely at a glowing blue sphere which suddenly popped up in front of him.

“Hello?”  He said, “Zaeya?”

“Yes, it’s me; I’ll explain how the spell works later.    Right now the scaring is underway and they have gone wild.   They would probably run off like last time.”

“Good, but sooner or later they’d return.   I’d rather have this all settled.”

“We thought you’d say that.    I have an idea.    We could push them toward Woodedge while they’re panicked and unorganized.    I’d say that would give our forces an advantage, plus, I work much better at night.   Can you get everyone in position quickly?”

“Most are already manning their positions.    You should see the turn-out, Zaeya!  I think the whole village is suited up and spread out along the walls.   Go ahead with your plan; we’ll be ready.”

“Excellent; I’ve got some ideas how to push them toward you.   They should be scratching at your door in a bit over an hour.”

“We’ll be ready.    Good job, Zaeya, you too Troem; you both are amazing.”

“Oh, we know that, we’re just glad you realize it now as well,”  Zaeya replied, then dispelled the magic sphere.

 

***

 

Earl Cetiline felt himself being coarsely dragged by two men who seemed to be more concerned with speed than for his comfort.   Letting a groan escape his lips, the men slowed their pace and one of them spoke up, “My Lord?  Can you hear me, sir?”

“Stop,” he replied, and when they didn’t obey, he repeated the command, “STOP, damn you!”

They obeyed immediately and he feared they’d simply drop him before he could get his feet under him, but they didn’t.

“My Lord, I apologize for treating you in such a way, but we had no time to find something to carry you in.”

Cetiline weakly stood up, glancing around for a long moment before saying anything.    All around him were men, some fully armored and ready for battle, but an equal number wearing little but their night clothes.    Most were running, frequently glancing over their shoulders behind them and all of them were moving in the same direction on a dirt road going slightly uphill.  

“What the hell is going on?   Where are we?”

One of the two men who had been dragging him bowed to him, anxiously glancing past him as if monitoring for something possibly pursuing them.   Both men wore tabards of his own family crest, so they were his own servants.

“M’Lord, we’re running for our lives!   We found you lying on your face when the darkness passed and -“

“Darkness passed?   What was that, anyway?   I could not see nor hear anything!”

“None of us could, Lord!   It is some sort of Elven magic - the defenders of Woodedge, of course.    Some of their wizards have levitating platforms that they brought over our camps while we were distracted with that dragon illusion.   They started dropping rocks and things upon us from probably sixty feet above us and then cast terrible spells, like those that sent everything into utter darkness with no sound.    Everyone panicked, Lord!   Some came out of the darkness on fire and many never did.   The area of darkness moves, sir!   Apparently the wizards on the hovering platforms can control them for when those platforms move around, the areas of darkness follows them.   We found you on the ground when the platform above us moved.”

“So where are we now?”

“Lord, they are forcing us northeastward on the road toward Woodedge!   The levitating platforms are pushing us like cattle along the road.   Anyone who tries to head southward goes into the darkness and those of us still out of it hear terrible sounds and screams coming from anyone who went into the dark.   The camps were in a complete panic, Lord!   Half of the tents are on fire, there are dead bodies strewn around with their heads crushed by large stones dumped on them from above, rocks and debris are everywhere and they spooked most of the horses and so they’ve ran off.    Some of us grabbed up our armor and weapons and managed to dress while fleeing up the road, but a lot of our men are still in their nightshirts!”

“Where are these hovering platforms now?”   Cetiline asked as he watched his soldiers running and trotting northward.

“They’ve formed a line across the road south of us, completely blocking the road.    The path falls off into steep rocky ditches on the east and on the west side of the road the land rises too sharply with rocks and stones and no way to climb up them, so we’re stuck with following the road northeast or risking going through the magic darkness again.”

“Those wizards need to be neutralized,” Cetiline growled, now catching a glimpse of shapes moving across the night sky; they were dark squares hovering close to each other and inching slowly but steadily northeastward along the road.    He could see a section of the starry sky beneath them, then, abruptly, there was a zone without any light and that continued down, apparently to the ground.   

“We can’t reach them with arrows, Lord,” The other soldier, who had been dragging him spoke up, “Men have been firing arrows up at them, but they are too high above us, sir!   Look!   See?   They’re getting awfully close, Lord, we need to keep moving!”

“They want us to go to them?”  Earl Cetiline asked, puzzled at the strategy, but as the men urged him to begin moving before the zone of darkness engulfed them, he began to understand it.   They were unorganized, their horses were gone, so they could not mount a cavalry assault, and half of them (and probably more) had left armor, weapons and equipment behind in their panic to escape.

“Damn them!”  He murmured as he jogged along side his men.   He still wore his arming doublet, which, thankfully, he’d decided to wear that night instead of his usual nightshirt, just in case of a night attack.   But he lacked his armor and weapons.

“I’ll need armor and a sword,” he told the two men who had rescued him.

“I have your sword, m’Lord, we grabbed it out of your tent.   We saw your squire, Reginald, was carrying a heavy bundle on his back a little while ago and when we asked him, he said that it was your armor, Lord.   He wanted to assist us in carrying you, but we thought it would be best for him just to keep moving with your gear.”

“Good…very good…you were right in that.”   The Earl admitted, pleased with the news.

“He should be just a little ways ahead of us, Lord; he wasn’t running with that heavy sack; do you want me to run on up and summon him to you?”

“Yes, go at once.   I won’t forget your loyalty and it will be richly awarded.”

The man bowed, “It is my honor to serve you, Lord.”

He ran on ahead to find the squire, leaving the Earl with his other rescuer, but he didn’t speak, for he was busy formulating plans to pluck victory out of this setback.




© 2020 Eddie Davis


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Added on December 6, 2020
Last Updated on December 6, 2020
Tags: Synomenia, Nihility_Gate, fantasy, elf, sword_and_sorcery, magic, knights, Halflings, Drow


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Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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