sat on the bench in the healers, wincing as one of them cleaned the wound with
an ointment. It burned, and he gripped the edge of the bench and bit down hard
to avoid making a cry of pain. His leg had begun to swell, but the healers
expected it to heal well fairly quickly, for which Owen was glad. He was tired
of having long lasting injuries.
had seemed worried when they had brought Owen in, but that soon faded, and he
sat down to make conversation. He chatted with Owen for a few minutes, before
Owen decided to go back out and get some rest.
had made slow progress, but they had eventually made it to the south gate with
the oxen and supplies. They had been greeted as heroes, welcomed back. They had
just returned in the late morning. A few
other units had already left on missions, all set on harassing the empire and
weakening and delaying them. The council was hidden away, planning the larger assaults.
walked toward the training area, and glanced toward the kitchen.He stopped in his tracks. Nai stood with a
young man, a bit older than Owen, and a bit more attractive, from his point of
view. They talked quietly, and then she kissed him on the cheek, before rushing
back into the kitchen.
felt sick as he turned and headed out the gate. Neither of them had seen him.
He felt a mixture of hurt, anger and above all, a feeling of downright disappointment
and confusion. He stumbled down to the barracks, and went straight to his bed.
He was surprised to see Kallan on the top bunk, lying there quietly. He looked up as Owen entered, then leaned
back again as Owen lay down on his own bunk.Owen rolled over a few times, feeling utterly confused. He wrapped his
head in his cloak, and lay on his chest. He heard Kallan drop to the ground,
and sit down on his bed.
grunted, then rolled over and pulled the cloak off his face.
stared moodily up at the ceiling.
bloody mad, and confused.”
sat quietly for a moment. “Is this something with Nai?”
sighed. “Just… do you want to talk?”
nodded again, and then pulled himself together.
spoke… before we left. She made it sound like there might be something for us
in the future…” He sighed. “I just saw her… she didn’t mean it. She didn’t want
me to be disappointed, but she doesn’t want me.” He turned, and sat up next to
feel defeated. I’ve liked her for so long… but I have realized something. I
guess we aren’t right for each other. At least not right now.”
sighed. Kallan sat quietly. Owen shook his head.
just have to wait. All will tell if she is the right person. I somehow doubt
it, now…” Owen shook his head again. “We’re about to go to full war. It won’t
door opened into the long dark hall. A throne sat on a dimly lit dais. The
cloaked man entered the hall.He walked
toward the throne.
silhouetted figure on the throne spoke in a raspy voice.“Yes, Cardowac. You had something to tell me.”
Several attacks have been made. I warned you of these rebels, yet you did not
man on the throne rasped out the words. “What did they do?”
destroyed one of our convoy s from the south, sacked a camp of our soldiers, and
now our reports have come in that the country house of one of your advisors was
burned to the ground yesterday.”
emperor sat quietly, nodding, for a moment, and then his head jerked up. “Fine,
Cardowac. You were right. But I am your emperor! Go out and do something about
it! Ready your troops, find these little people, and destroy them!”
nodded his head. “Milord…”
am your emperor! Do as I say!” Cardowac turned from the throne and walked out
of the throne room, a smirk on his face.
argued within himself. He wanted to go to Nai, confront her, but part of him
said to just let it go. That part grew over the next few days, as he made his
swift recovery. He still had a bit of limp, but he was strong on the leg.Now he just continued to train. He
strengthened even more, keeping sharp.
few days after all the units had reported back from various missions, a meeting
was declared of all fighting men. They all crowded outside the hall. Corwin
stood on a chair and outlined what would happen next.
must take the southern cities, as well as the villages along the mountains.
Then we will begin to take over the northern fortresses and finally, Drenna.”
He paused, and then continued. “Now, we are revealed to the empire. So we must
be even more careful than we have been.” He stopped again, and looked across
the men. He smiled broadly.
first target is the city of Ildiv. Our full army will be there. For now, our
families will stay in the mountain. Do not worry; we will leave a small force
here, including our normal guards. They will not be unprotected. But our
primary force will be focused on Ildiv. It is a mining town, without much
defense besides the cliffs around it.” He began an in depth description of the
few fortifications, and described what they would be up against.
packed his bags. Each man was to carry a heavy pack, full of supplies. This
time, there would be horses only for the scouts and leaders, as there were not
enough for the whole army. Owen made
sure his boots were solid on his feet, and readied to march. He was not looking
forward to the long march through the mountains.
finished packing his pack, and then pulled his sword out from under the bed. He
looked at it with indecision for a few minutes. Finally he strapped it on to
his pack. It would add extra weight, but he might need it.He shouldered it, and headed out the door,
and up to the castle, where the units were falling into marching order.
fell in next to Kallan. Kallan smiled, and then looked forward, standing
straight. They began to march. All who were staying behind lined the streets,
watching as the army of the rebellion marched out. Undoubtedly some would not
return. The men lifted their heads high, and marched out of the city. Owen chanced
a glance back, and saw the army stretching out behind him and in front.He shifted his pack on his shoulders, and
then marched out the gate, to war.
was tired, sore, and ready to stop. They had marched fairly slowly, attempting
to save the strength of the men for the battle ahead, but Owen was still
exhausted from the long trek. They had made their way through the mountains,
staying hidden. After the long several day march, Owen felt ready to collapse.
But he knew the attack would begin tomorrow.
rolled out his blanket, and wrapped himself in his cloak. Even General Corwin
was sleeping on the ground, wrapped in his own blanket.
were no fires. They had survived on hardtack and jerky for the last few days,
as there was no point in drawing attention to the force as they moved through
the wilderness. Owen rolled over. He felt stiff, and tired, but he couldn’t
sleep. His stomach was knotted, and he felt sick. He sat up, making his way up
the nearby mountain. He knew the city of Ildiv slept on the other side of this
ridge. He made his way up, climbing through the pine forest, until he finally
hit the summit. He stood for a moment, looking off, down the steep, rocky hill
city of Ildiv was surrounded by a high stone wall, with a single gate. It was
up against the mountains, mighty cliffs forming half the wall of the city. Owen sat down, looking at it. There was a bit
of light in the center of the city. He could barely see the silhouette of the
central keep, a hulking shadow in the center of the city.He leaned back on the rough pine. He sighed.
thoughts flitted from one thing to the next. He thought of Marcus. He wondered
where his friend was now. He hoped the family was safe. His thoughts flitted to
home. Or what used to be home. He sighed, and the knot in his stomach twisted
all the more tight. He sighed, as he thought of Nai. He felt betrayed. It hurt.
He leaned back, and almost cried.
scraped the dirt with his fingers, as he felt the sudden chill. He hugged
himself, but didn’t feeling like heading back to the camp just yet. He curled
his legs up and wrapped his arms around them, shivering violently suddenly. A
tear trickled out of the corner of his eye.He started to cough, then the tears came. He buried his face in his
arms. He sat there for a while, quietly sobbing.
thought of all the years that he had lived near her, but never really tried to
become her friend. He was always too shy to speak to her about almost anything.
He wished he’d known her better now. Then he wouldn’t have fallen into this
self laid trap. He scraped the ground, and leaned back, the tree bark catching
in his hair, and scratching the back of his head.
sat there, above the lights of Ildiv, for a long time. *************************************************************************************
braced his shield as he stood in formation with the rest of the unit. The
entire army stood across the front of the city, surrounding it as the morning
sun grew higher. Before the sun had risen, the entire army had made their way
out of the mountains, and dropped in, destroying the watch posts outside the
city without much difficulty, then marching on the city. They now stood,
awaiting their orders.
city had closed its gates. A panic seemed to reign as the people of the city
realized what was happening.The wall
was now swarming with soldiers, all readying for the battle that was
brewing.Some of the rebels began to
draw grappling hooks from their bags, as a group headed with axes and began to
fell a massive tree.
soldiers began to ready the ladders that they had carried from the mountain.
They were over 20 feet long, plenty long enough to reach the top of the
wall.They faced off with the soldiers
on the wall for several long minutes. Owen lifted his axe to his shoulder. He
stood near the center, facing the gate. He hefted his shield as the now
completed ram made its way through, held by a dozen soldiers. General Corwin
rode down the line of soldiers.
your hearts! This will be the first victory of many! Now, for your families!
ONWARD!” With this he pointed his sword at the city walls. A rousing battle
began to echo down the ranks.Owen moved
next to the ram, lifting his shield over his head, and beginning to march
alongside it as the rest of the troops charged forward.
reached the gate. Rocks and arrows flew from above. Owen held steady,
protecting himself and the man next to him that held the ram. The wall of
shields kept off most of the projectiles, but a rammer fell. A new man fell
into his place. The ram was brought back, and then slammed into the gate. The
wooden timbers shook. Another blow fell. A rhythm began to form as the ram beat against
the gate. It trembled, and Owen heard a slight cracking in the wood.
glanced to his right. A mass of men with shields surrounded him, waiting for
the gate to open. The beat of the ram kept a steady tempo. The gate began to
give way, and Owen braced himself, bending his knees, ready to charge. The gate
opened a bit, and he heard a massive crack as one of the supporting beams
broke. The gate cracked this time, a hole chipping in it. Arrows flew from
within. A few of the rammers fell, but more men took their place.
charged. He held his sword in both hands, gripping the pommel. The wall grew
near, and the grappling ropes flew through the air, locking into the
crenellations on the wall.A few were
thrown off, but many stayed solidly, as the ladders were lifted up onto the
wall.Kallan sprung up, ducking as the
man above him hurtled down over his head. He knocked an arrow out of his way
with his sword, and then leapt over the wall.
was chaos. He was among the first, and so he was immediately confronted with
multiple enemies. He blocked a sword, then knocked a soldier of the backside of
the wall, then elbowed a soldier in the chin. He swung his sword around, and
knocked back one of his attackers, and began to drive them back from the ladder
as more rebels swarmed over the wall.
took new courage as his back was covered by the other rebels. He knocked a
soldier off the wall, and then cut the feet out from under another. He swung
again, but his wrist was grabbed by a soldier. He lifted his fist, but that was
grabbed as well. The soldier shoved him against the parapet, grappling. Kallan
slammed his helmed forehead into the soldiers protruding nose, then punched him
hard, knocking him to the ground.
was a mad scramble on the wall as the soldiers desperately tried to hold back
the rebels, but they were falling back. The soldiers began to retreat. Within
minutes they were in organized retreat back down the streets. The rebels gave a
soldiers were in rout. As soon as the rams had broken the gate, Owen and the
rest of the troops had rushed in the like a flood of water. A mass of soldiers
tried to hold the gate, but they rushed in.The rebels broke through the wall of shields. Owen brought his axe down
with a feral yell, smashing his shield into the chest of a soldier, before
kicking him down.
saw the rebels on the wall, fighting hard, pushing back the forces of the
empire.They retreated, backing down the
narrow streets toward the keep, looming high above.Owen gritted his teeth, ramming a soldier
with his helm, then kicking another’s legs out, before smashing his shield into
the face of the next.
glanced up and saw Kallan, locked in combat with a burly soldier. He knocked a
soldier out of his way, and then ran toward him. He axed the large soldier.
Kallan grinned, and they turned and charged the shield wall of the soldiers as
they backed towards the keep.With a
battle cry, the rebels smashed against the soldiers.
felt a spear pierce his chain mail, and he slammed into the wall, pinned by his
mail and by a sliver of skin.He grimaced,
and cried out, before kicking the soldier. Kallan grabbed the spear, and pulled
it out with a sudden jerk. Owen fell to his knees with a cry, as Kallan lunged,
stabbing a nearby soldier with the spear. Owen pulled himself to his feet,
grimacing, and jumped forward, using the pain to fuel his rampage.
soldiers turned as the rebels began to over run them, and made a full retreat
to the keep. The rebels followed at full speed, but the gate of the keep
clashed shut. They stopped short as the sound of heavy beams falling into place
met their ears. They stopped, looking up
at the massive stone building. Suddenly
a hail of arrows broke the silence, flying from above. Several rebels fell.
Owen raised his shield and dashed behind the nearby shacks.
arrows whistled down as the rebels scrambled for safety. Arrows felled a few rebels. Owen braced his
shield, and looked carefully over it around the corner of the building.He could see the sunlight glistening off the
tips of arrows in the niches in the tower. Another volley launched down, and
Owen ducked back behind the building as several arrows thudded into his shield.
gritted his teeth as his wounded shoulder caught on the cloth of his shirt. He
reached under the edge of his chainmail. The spear had cut through a few links
of the chainmail, and ripped the shirt underneath. It was wet with blood where
the tip of the spear had pierced the skin. He ripped a thin sliver off of the
edge of his tunic, and put it over the wound, at least trying to soak up the
blood and stop the bleeding.
sighted Morgen running through the street, gathering his unit. He reached Owen
are besieging the keep, but several units are going to take the mines. We are
to move quickly and destroy any enemy soldiers in our way.” He paused, glancing
back at the rest of the unit. “Follow me.”
moved quickly down a side street, out of shot of the tower. They all stayed low
as they moved quickly through the city, making a wide loop around the
keep.They could see faces peeking out
of windows occasionally, but the city almost seemed empty. They had just
crossed a street, when an arrow caught Morgen in the throat. He fell with a
gurgling cry as soldiers charged out from a side street.
charged forward, cutting down a soldier, then glanced up just in time to see
several arrows headed for him. He brought up his shield, but one arrow hit him
in the chest. He winced as the tip scratched his chest, but the arrow was
caught in his mail. He smashed his shield into a soldier, then looked up on the
rooftops, where several soldiers were in position, holding readied bows.
glanced at Kallan. They locked eyes. Owen beheaded a soldier who had just cut
down one of his companions, then ran toward the house where the soldiers stood.
Kallan cut down another soldier, and then followed. They both ran, then Owen
turned and knelt. Kallan caught the idea immediately. He jumped as Owen lifted
his shield. Owen propelled it upwards as Kallan landed, shooting him upwards. Kallan
grabbed the edge of the roof and lifted himself up, quickly rolling into
position and beginning to fight. The fire of arrows ceased as Kallan began to
occupy the archers.
spun, catching a soldier with the rim of his shield, and then slamming the rear
spike of his axe into the gut of another. He placed his back against the wall,
and held them off as best he could. Several of the unit had already fallen.
Owen fought his way through, trying to unite the group. Dalt was locked in
combat with a soldier. The soldier managed to disarm him, and was just bringing
his sword arm back when Owen smashed his shield into the back of his head.
soldier dropped. Dalt grabbed his sword, and launched back into the battle.
Owen glanced up to the roof of the house.Kallan was dueling four men at once, desperately holding the high ground
at the crest of the house.
broke the latch on the nearest house, and slipped inside, setting down his axe
and shield and bringing out his bow. He nocked an arrow, and quickly shot one
of the archers. He cried out, and tumbled down the roof, making another soldier
lose his balance. Kallan stabbed him, and then continued to fight the other
two. Owen nocked another arrow, and shot a soldier a few feet away. He launched
arrow after arrow into the fray, carefully hitting the soldiers in the areas
where they were not protected by their armor.
kicked one of the soldiers between the legs. He grabbed him, swinging his legs
into the other soldier, making him lose his balance. He shoved the one down the
roof and slashed the other down. He slid down the roof, and then jumped off,
rolling as he hit the ground.
soldiers were finished, but at least a third of the unit was lost, including
their commander. His second in command was dead as well. Dalt immediately took
command. Owen grudgingly followed orders, readying his weapons to move. They
moved quickly, leaving the bodies behind.
winced as the several small injuries he had acquired rubbed against his
clothing. He followed Dalt through the city streets. Soon they entered the
slums. Kallan looked around at the irregular houses. Owen stopped, and began to
call. Kallan soon caught on, and joined him.
are here to save you! We are here to fight your oppressors!”
few heads began to stick out from the windows, and doors began to open. Owen
called out, smiling. “We are here to rid you of the empire!”
called out once more, then they continued to make their way toward the mines,
now moving quickly.
mines were bored into the cliffs behind the city, and the large workings were
surrounded by a palisade wall. A large open area without houses surrounded it.
This area was now full of bodies. A group of soldiers braced in the opening of
the mines, their large rectangular shields braced in a row. The rebels charged
upon them, but were pushed back, leaving the bodies of several in front of the
bristling wall of shields.
rebels halted, as their reinforcements arrived.
were you?” A tall dark man looked at them angrily. “Where’s Morgen?”The men bowed their heads. Owen looked up.
rebel bowed his head.
take charge of you now.” He turned. “The soldiers have a solid formation there
in the gate. We need a strategy to get through without wasting any more
attacked from the rear, Kallan and three other rebels smashing into the back of
the shield wall. As the soldiers turned, the rest of the rebels charged. They
were pinned between the small rear attack and the forward movement of the
larger force of the several united units.The soldiers scattered, retreating deeper into the mine. The rebels
charged in, pursuing them. Finally they reached the tunnels.
soldiers stood at the entrance, once again trying to hold formation in the
entrance.The rebels stopped, facing
off. Then they charged.Owen raised his
axe, as they charged the last few soldiers. He glanced over at Kallan. Then he
tripped.He fell, his axe flying out of
his hand, and landed on his shield, smashing into a nearby apparatus made of
wood. His head smashed into the wall and he fell dazed.
rebels continued to charge. Owen tried to pull himself up, but he was unsteady,
and he was forced to support himself on the nearby wooden structure. He
stumbled as he attempted to pick up his axe. The rebels charged. It seemed as
if things were in slow motion. A sudden explosion rocked the air. Owen’s ears
rang.A rumble sounded, and in his dazed
mind, it seemed as if the cliff was falling.
was. Kallan turned with an expression of fear. Their eyes locked. Then the
cliff collapsed on him.