burned. When the soldiers had realized they were cornered in the keep, they had
attempted to take out the cover that the rebels were using with pitch soaked
arrows. They lit them, launching them down onto the shacks and wagons that the
rebels were using for barricades. The dry wood had caught immediately, and
despite the efforts of the rebels, the city was soon in flames. People who had
been in hiding swarmed out of the houses, and chaos ensued.
managed to pull himself up, and looked back in hEwan as the flames spread.He felt dazed, and he leaned on the wooden
structure nearby. He looked back and forth from the rocky rubble to the burning
city, his stomach aching, his heart beating. He stumbled, woozy, as he looked
at the grave of the rebels and soldiers alike, and of his best friend. He was
alone. He slid to the ground, leaning on the wooden structure behind him.
pounded, aching. He pulled off his helmet, letting it drop to the ground.He looked around at the shacks and equipment
surrounding him. It was empty. He looked up to the sky, where wintry clouds
began to cover the sky. He leaned back, closing his eyes, trying to fathom what
had happened.It began to lightly rain,
sprinkles of water barely making a mark on the dry ground. The wind chilled
him.He tried to stand, looking across
as the rain began to come down in a torrent. It was icy, burning Owen’s face.
He stood, and began to walk slowly toward the city as the rain began to make
the flames go out. The fire had a head start, and it fought back against the
torrent that attacked it, but it flickered, falling back, fading.
stood in the pouring rain, letting it drench him to the skin.He began to slowly walk up out of the mine
workings, toward the charred city.He
looked up toward the keep, and began to walk. He made his way through the empty
streets, people watching him from the shelter of the surviving homes.
walked straight toward the keep. The closer he got, the more houses were
burned. They smoldered as the rain rushed down the streets. It began to be
icier, and the wind began to blow harder.Owen strode steadily as he could through the burned streets, as the rain
began to flow through. He was drenched, water dripping from his hair. The rain
began to freeze, and soon pieces of ice were pelting Owen, covering the ground
slipped his helmet over his wet hair, protecting his head from the pelting hail.
He began to run toward the battle line where the rebels took cover behind the
remains of the burned houses, as arrows flew down among them. Blood mixed with
the water in the streets, staining the ground red. Puddles filled the uneven
streets. Owen held up his shield as he slipped into place near several other
rebels. They looked at him in surprise.
you come from?”
leaned back, breathing hard, holding his shield over his head.
part of Morgen’s unit. Last survivor.”
rebel’s eyes widened. “That collapse…”
nodded. “Fell on everyone but me. The imperials too.”
man looked down. “Morgen?”
an arrow to the throat before we even got there.”
man shook his head. “That was two units lost, right there.”
looked over at a thin man sitting nearby, speaking loudly over the sound of the
rain and hail.
to the General, and tell him that Morgen and Calways units have been destroyed,
but the mines are secure.” He lowered his head. “Tell him that I’m taking their
lone survivor into my command.”He
looked at Owen. “You’re with me now, lad.”
few more arrows whistled down, landing just beyond the rebels as they sat under
cover. Owen glanced over his shoulder. The top of the keep was just visible
above the stone foundation behind which they hid.
is the plan?”
commander shrugged. “We wait, for now. There is nothing we can do without
losing more me than we already have.” He pulled himself down lower. “We’ve
already lost too many men to make a concentrated attack on the keep.” He
wrapped his short cloak around him, huddling into the corner. Owen followed his
example, unrolling his cloak and wrapping it around him. Fortunately, only the
outside had gotten really wet, and the majority of the cloak was still dry. It
sheltered him from the rain as it poured down.
stirred, his head aching. He tried to move, but his legs seemed to be
immobilized. It was dark. He grimaced as he tried to pull his legs out from
under the rocks. He moved his arms. They seemed to be free. He could lift his
body, but he only had a bit of room. He tried to move some of the smaller rocks
he could feel around him, but it seemed that a fairly large piece of rock was
supporting most of it. He managed to pull a rock out, and a tiny sliver of
light broke through. But it was enough for him to see around him.
looked back. His legs were pinned under a fairly large rock, but he knew if he
had something to pry with, he could probably get it off. It seemed that the
cliff had shattered, but he had been almost into the cave when it had fallen,
so he figured that most of the damage had fallen outside its reach. He heard a
reached for the hilt of his sword, which was nearby. He grabbed it and pulled,
but to his mortification there was only a shattered few inches of blade. He
stuck it under the rock, and attempted to pry the rock. It moved a bit, but in
this awkward position, he could not get much leverage. He dropped it, and
pulled out his knife, twisting his body to look behind him.
could not see much, but there seemed to be a large space where the rock was
supported above them.He once again
struggled, but the rock was solid. He heard a voice.
twisted around again.
can’t, I’m trapped!”
new voice joined the conversation.
this bit of light.”
heard a scratching noise. A hand and then a head appeared near him. It was a
young man. Kallan couldn’t tell the color of his tunic in the darkness.
stuck under this big rock.” He said, pointing toward the boulder that held his
legs. The man moved to it.
let is only partially trapped. If I can lift the rock a bit, you may be able to
get your right leg out.” Kallan felt a bit of pressure on his right leg lift
off, as the pain in his left leg increased as the weight shifted. He quickly
jerked the right leg out, grimacing. The rock dropped, and the pressure decreased
on his left leg again.
you get the other leg out?”
felt a bit of pressure lift off, and then it was dropped back on. He let out a
small cry as the pain increased.
sorry… I can’t get the right leverage. I’ll try going over to the other side.”
This time Kallan felt the rock lift and he crawled forward, pulling his left
leg out. It was limp. He turned, and sat up, trying to open a bit more light,
but the rocks were too tightly packed together to move. He turned to crawl
back, shoving the hilt of his sword into his satchel, still holding his dagger.
His hand touched a piece of broken timber, and he had an idea.
reached to the pouch on his belt, and brought out his flint and steel. He began
to strike, but it wouldn’t light. He ripped some pieces of his tunic off, and
lit them. These lit quite nicely, and soon the wood caught as well. It seemed
to have had some pitch on the wood, and it flared up, lighting the cavern.
bodies littered the chamber, and there were a few moving figures. It was about
five paces wide, and it went back a ways. After a few paces, the rubble turned
into the tunnel, and rounded out. Kallan pulled the piece of timber out from
under the boulder, and held it up as a torch.
looked on the young man who had helped him. The man was in a red tunic. Kallan
started in surprise, holding up his knife, then remembered this enemy had just
saved his life. He lowered the knife, watching the man. The man held his arms
up in a position of surrender.
unarmed. Go ahead and kill me, if that’s how you rebels work.” Kallan lowered
his eyebrows, and shoved his knife into his sheath.He held up the torch, and crawled around the
small cave. A massive piece of rock was the roof, resting against the cliff
face. Kallan looked up at it.
should get into the tunnel, before this rock falls on all us survivors.”
soldier nodded. The voice cried out again.
worked his way towards the sound. A man was trapped under a massive boulder. His
upper torso and right arm were free, but his legs and left arm were completely
tried to lift the boulder, but it was massive, and he made no headway. The man
can’t get you out.” Kallan sat back. He glanced back around the room, holding
up the torch.The other man had gathered
a few men, and they were heading for the tunnel. Kallan placed his shoulder
against the boulder, and tried to move it, but he could do nothing. He heard a
grating sound, and glanced up toward the ceiling. The massive hunk of rock was
grating down, slipping toward the opening of the tunnel.
once again tried to lift, this time desperately. The man began to cry out in
pain, but still Kallan could do nothing. He looked up, and then dove for the
cave, slipping in. The ceiling crashed in.He lay on the ground, breathing hard, and then rolled over. Several men
sat around him, a few in the deep red uniforms of the empire, and a few in the
brown tunics of the rebellion. Kallan sat up, and leaned on the smooth tunnel
looked back into the darkness. His leg ached. He looked back into the tunnel,
but he didn’t feel like standing. He felt sick to his stomach. He just sat
there for a moment. He looked at the rock which now covered the entrance.
chance they could get us out?”
of the men looked at the rock.
worked in the mines before joining the army… we used small amounts of blasting
powder to build the mining tunnels. There’s a chance that whoever wins this
battle may try and get through with that.That must have been what brought down the cliff… I don’t know why,
though.” He looked back into the tunnels, and lowered his voice. “There have to
still be miners in here...”
sooner had he spoken than several lights appeared far off in the tunnel,
growing slowly closer. Soon the light revealed the battered faces of men. They
carried an assortment of tools.One
carried a small barrel. They wore helmets with candles in front of small
mirrors, reflecting the light forward. They reached the end of the tunnel.
of the men stepped forward. “Trapped, eh?”
tall young soldier nodded. “Aye. The cliff fell…”
see.” He stepped forward and tapped the rock with his pickaxe. “He glanced back
at the man holding the barrel. “Bring it up.” He popped off the top, and
carefully took a few handfuls of dark sandy looking substance out, carefully
keeping them a distance from his headlamp. He put them in a large crack in the
rock, filling it with the black grains. Then he made a trail, a thin line
leading back into the tunnel. The miners motioned for the men to follow. Kallan
pulled himself up, and used the wall to support himself as he followed them
back, still holding his makeshift torch, which was beginning to get small.
continued to go uphill for a long distance. The miner ended his trail of
powder, than motioned for Kallan to pass him his dwindling torch. He touched it
to the grains. They lit with a pop, causing several of the men to jump back as
it followed the trail down the tunnel. The miners dropped, and Kallan and the
others quickly followed their examples. An explosion rocked the cave, and
pieces of rock flew past them.
the sound had subsided, they all stood and headed slowly down the tunnel.
Pieces of rock littered the tunnel. Light filtered in through a crack in the
rock, along with a stream of dripping water. It was still much too small for
anyone to get out, but the light was cheering for all. Kallan grinned, and
looked at the head miner.
is that stuff?”
nodded slowly. “Got to get me some of
that…” he thought, as the ground collapsed under his feet.
once again awoke, his head aching. He rolled over, looking around. A faint
glimmer of light came from above. He groped for the wall, and felt it. It was
smooth, carved carefully flat. He leaned against it, as suddenly, a light
flared, lighting around.One of the
miner’s lamps was lit, and the head miner stood up, looking around. He whistled
as he saw the tunnel.
tunnel was smooth, carved flat on the sides and bottom, with the ceiling
sloping up slowly. Above them, a gaping hole showed, too high for anyone to
reach. The tunnel continued up hill, into the mountain, but it also led down.
The men began to stir, and within a few moments all sat, bewildered, in the
narrow tunnel. The tall young imperial turned to the miner.
idea…”The grizzled man walked a few
paces down the passage. The others followed, the other miners lighting their
lamps. Kallan looked up the passage, his
feeling of adventure swelling up as he wished to explore the tunnel, but
knowing that going into the city was the most likely chance of escaping.He followed as the miners headed down the
neatly carved tunnel.
kept his hand on his dagger, feeling vulnerable without his sword. He glanced
at the soldiers, working out his odds. He had four men on his side, and
possibly the miners.He couldn’t count
on them, so he didn’t include them. He had an injured leg and a dagger. Two of
the other rebels were almost uninjured save for nicks, bruises and scratches.They all had daggers, and one of the
uninjured men had a hatchet on his belt. The other two were worse off. One held
his arm, and it looked as if it could be broken. The other walked with a
pronounced limp, although Kallan could not be sure of the extent of his
looked at the six soldiers. Although they had more numbers, they also had worse
injuries. Three of them looked to have broken bones, and only the young soldier
seemed to be uninjured. Kallan decided he was the worst threat. He watched them
carefully as they moved down the tunnel.
moved quickly, even the injured men, desperate to escape the darkness.Suddenly the miners stopped, after they had
seemed to have been going on forever. The passage ended, but a set of steep
stairs ascended to the ceiling. Kallan moved to the front. The miners moved out
of the way. The soldiers moved in behind him. He climbed carefully up the
stairs, and pushed on the stone at which it ended. It lifted with a quiet
peered out through the crack, then lifted it just enough to see the room.It was full of weapons, empty of humans. As
he looked across the racks, he realized in a flash where they must be. He
closed the stone as a plan began to formulate. Moving so as to not attract
attention, he loosened his dagger in its sheath as he climbed back down. A
short, squat soldier looked at him.
put one foot back. “Sorry, friend.” He slammed his fist into the man’s stomach,
then whipped out his knife, and slammed the hilt into his head. He fell. The
other soldiers ran forward. Kallan stepped back up the stairs, kicked one in
the head, and then smashed his foot into the injured leg of another. The other
rebels moved forward, the two without injuries grabbing the last two soldiers
and holding them steady.
tall young soldier stopped struggling.
shrugged. “Didn’t know if we could trust you.”
is going on!?”
leaned back on the stairs. “We’re under the keep. I didn’t want you to stop us
from blowing your fellows to kingdom come.”
soldier closed his eyes. “Do you know why I’m here?”
raised an eyebrow.
was drafted! Taken from my home, dragged to the army.” He looked up at Kallan. “I
haven’t seen my family in over a year.” A single tear dribbled down his face as
he looked directly into Kallan’s eyes. “Do you think I love the empire?”
watched him carefully for a moment. “You are still part of their army.”
looked into his eyes. They showed no fear, but Kallan didn’t think that he
looked dishonest. He nodded. “Let him go.”
two rebels let go of the soldier slightly reluctantly. He stepped forward, and
unbuckled his belt, letting it fall to the ground. Then he reached up and
pulled off his dark red tunic, throwing it to the side. “I am deserting the
imperial army.” He buckled his belt back on over his leather and chainmail
jerkin. “I assume you have a plan?”