looked up at the group surrounding him. The five soldiers besides the young
deserter were on the floor, all unconscious. Kallan looked at the miners, who
watched him carefully. They faced off for a few moments. He stood steadily for a few moments.
you with me, or are you against me?”
miners all looked to their leader. He watched Kallan closely for several
minutes. He glanced back at his men, and then spoke in his gravelly accented
join you. We serve no better use than ill paid slaves to the empire.” He hefted
his pick-axe as Kallan grinned. The miner held out his hand.
at your service.”
by one the sturdy men introduced themselves, shaking his gloved hand with a
firm grasp. Then the lone soldier held out his hand.
of Drenna, at your service.” He grasped Kallan’s hand with a firm grip, a
serious and determined expression on his face.
need a number of weapons, a great deal of stealth, and a keg of blasting
set it out as his small group circled around. Finally, he crept up the stairs,
lifting the heavy stone tile. He shifted it to the side and pulled himself out,
looking around carefully, his eyes adjusting to the light, even though the room
was dim. He could hear the rain drumming on the wall outside, and out the
narrow window he could see the fog.He
moved to the door as the miners and fellow rebels climbed out of the tunnel.
Kallan placed his ear to the keyhole, listening.He could hear quiet voices outside, speaking
to each other. He assumed there were guards just outside.
looked around for a moment, seeing that a wooden bar was set to be slid over
and block the door. He thought that the room was made for defense from the
inside if necessary, so it should be easy to keep soldiers out while they readied
for their attack. He slid the door open just a crack as his soldiers gathered
around, ready. A few had grabbed weapons, and the miners had their picks and
shoved the door open, and then jumped back as he heard the door crash into a soldier.
The other turned into the door, a look of shock on his face as he tried to draw
his sword. The miners finished him with a few blows, and then slammed the other
stunned soldier into the wall, knocking him unconscious. They pulled both
bodies into the armory, tying and gagging the unconscious soldier.
men began to outfit themselves, strapping on weapons to replace the ones lost.
The miners added a few weapons to their tools, but they seemed mostly
comfortable with their mining equipment. Kallan found a decent sword, single
handed. It was the closest to his old sword he could find, but it didn’t fit
quite the same in his hand. He slipped his old sheath off his belt and put the
new sword and sheath on, strapping it tightly.
moved toward the door as his men readied their weapons. Two of the rebels took
their places at the door, wearing the soldier’s armor and dark red livery.
Kallan and the remaining men moved out the door, and stealthily walked down the
hallway.A door led out. Kallan quietly
slid it open, just enough to look into the small hall.A group of bunks lined the walls, and the
soldiers gear and possessions were arranged around the room. The gates were
barricaded with several large tables, and a group of soldiers stood quietly, barring
the gate. They stood ready, but did not
look like the expected a heavy assault yet.
watched them for a few moments, a few different ideas racing through his head. He
thought back and forth. He could blow the door open now, but he could also take
the keep alone. He felt confident that he could defeat all the soldiers with
his small group of soldiers and a keg of blasting powder. He finally decided. He closed the door, and
headed down the hall. The men followed him.
moved quickly, trotting up the curving stairwell at the end of the hallway,
moving against the wall, careful. A bit of light came from directly ahead. He
slowed to a tiptoe, making his way up the hill. A thin slit let in light,
outlining the silhouette of an archer. Kallan jumped forward, stabbing toward
the man. He misjudged the stab and the different weight of the sword, and it
glanced off the stone wall. The archer jumped as the blade glanced off the
stone and cut his chest. Kallan grunted with frustration and stabbed him, this
time through the heart. He wiped the blade with his glove and continued
a turn of the staircase and after several soldiers lay dead behind them, they
came to a door. Kallan slid it open, and looked through it. A group of soldiers
were along the wall, launching arrows out of the arrow slits. He could tell
this was the great hall. It was much larger than the guardroom downstairs, and
held large tables. A group of slaves were clustered in the center, looking
confused and scared. This gave Kallan an idea.
looked back at his men, and motioned for them to come up to the door. He
outlined his plan in a second. It was simple and straightforward, but it
counted on something that they could not control. Kallan made sure all his men
had their weapons ready, and he looked through the door again, sighting in on
the closest soldier, and then kicking the door open. He charged in.
soldier turned from the window at the noise, just to see Kallan swing his sword
toward him, and suddenly, he had no head. The archers turned in surprise, and
after the initial shock, began to launch arrows at the small group of men.
Kallan fought like a berserker, glancing toward the slaves out of the corner of
miners had done their job well, arming the slaves with weapons of fallen
soldiers. The slaves turned in surprise, suddenly attacking their masters. The
soldiers were shocked to encounter their slaves turning upon them. They turned
to retreat out the doors, but they were surrounded and slaughtered.Kallan stood, breathing hard. He had felled
multiple soldiers, and blood began to pool around him.
knelt and stabbed a groaning soldier, grimacing as the blood shot up into his
face. He looked around for a moment, then climbed up on a table.
yourselves, and let’s finish them off.”
slaves quickly began to strip the soldiers of their arms and armor, and then
gathered around Kallan. He looked around, now quite content with his band of
men. He looked to the doors.
take half the men and take that side of the castle. I’ll take the rest and go
up this side. We’ll take the third level and then the top. Then we can finish
some reason he trusted Connor, so he put him in charge although he was no older
than Kallan himself. They turned, and headed for doors on opposite ends of the
staircase circled upwards. Every time it came around to the outside of the keep
again, an arrow slit was positioned, sometimes two. Kallan, leading the way,
methodically took out the silhouetted archers before they had a chance to
react.His men followed him, stepping
over the bodies in the narrow stairway.
reached the next door, and burst in. Several soldiers guarded a stately looking
man and several women. Kallan and his men quickly cut down the guards. The room
held a large bed, along with a long table.A door was on the other side, one of which was open.Kallan could hear the sound of combat in the
next room, and then Connor and his men emerged from the other room, blood on
remaining man grabbed a sword from the ground and swung for Kallan. Kallan
jumped over the blade and kicked it across the room, slamming the older man
into the bedstead. The man fell with a gasp of air, and Kallan jumped on his back,
pulling his arm behind his back and pinning him. He lifted him to his feet. Two
of the slaves took the lord from Kallan.
stood back, and looked at the man.
them, while we finish them off.” Several slaves surrounded the nobles. Kallan
turned to Connor and spoke quietly. He turned and slipped out the door, followed
by his soldiers, off to do his part of the plan. Kallan went out the door which
he had just come in, and moved up the stairs. He moved quickly, quickly
stabbing two more soldiers as they fired down upon the rebels. He turned the
corner and knocked open the door.
was met with a burst of cold air and rain. He charged out as the soldiers turned
to defend. Once again he was in the front, leading onward. He knocked a soldier
off the battlements, and then turned to take on several soldiers who stood by.
was a large unit of soldiers on the rooftop, but not nearly as many as there
had been guarding the gate. Kallan had a quick moment of questioning as he remembered
that Connor was headed down into the mass of men, but he did not have much time
to think about it. Several soldiers bore down upon him, while the unarmored
slaves were pummeled with arrows. Kallan ran toward the archers, dodging and
arrow stuck in his chainmail, and then another caught him just below the knee,
puncturing his boot. He grimaced and plucked it out. He continued to charge
toward the archers, and cut several down. One raised his bow to block, but
Kallan broke it with a swipe of his sword and beheaded the man.Kallan smiled grimly and turned to look at
the scene of the fight.
unsuspecting soldiers had been cut down, but two of his rebels and multiple slaves
had been killed. The miners had all gone with Connor, along with about half the
slaves, but of Kallan’s force of four rebels and ten or so slaves, half that
number was dead. Kallan pulled the brown tunic off one of the dead soldiers and
moved to the flagpole.
quickly pulled down the flag and lifted the brown tunic into its place. As the
rain finally stopped, it waved freely in the wind. Kallan waited for several
moments, listening. He quickly ran to the front of the keep and looked down,
far below. Nothing. The gate was not yet open.
quickly moved to the doorway and bolted down the stairs. A single guard blocked
his way, but he bowled him over, cutting him down and sending him rolling down
the stairs. He jumped over the body, continuing down the stairs. He stopped at
the door, and shoved it open.
barrel of blasting powder was knocked to the side, a bit of powder coming out
the uncorked hole. Connor held off several of his former companions, a long
wound on his leg dripping blood, and the miners fought against the wall, the
soldiers pinning them back. The bodies of the group of slaves littered the
ground. Not a single one had survived. A sputtering torch was in one’s hand. Kallan charged in, heading for Connor, while
his seven soldiers went to fight the soldiers fighting the miners.
held off two soldiers, but he was lagging. One of the soldiers knocked his
blade out of his hand, and he desperately dodged the blades. One of them swung,
pinning his shoulder to the bunk bed behind him.The other soldier raised his blade to kill
the young man, but Kallan smashed into him, knocking him into the wall. Kallan
kicked the other soldier between the legs, and then stabbed. The soldier fell,
and Kallan smashed the hilt into the helmet of the other soldier, knocking him
pulled the sword from where it had pinned Connor to the bed. The other boy was
bleeding, but he grabbed his sword from where it lay and followed Kallan. The
miners and Kallan’s men fought against the many soldiers near the gate, but
that wasn’t where Kallan went. He ran toward the keg of powder, and began to
make a trail of powder toward the gate. Connor turned and guarded him, but
several soldiers came toward them.
turned just in time to see the soldiers bear down on Connor. He realized there
wasn’t enough time, and ripped a piece of his tunic and dropped one end into
the keg, and grabbed the dying torch from the hand of one of the slaves. He lit
it, and hefted the keg onto his shoulder with a grunt. It was heavy, but he
moved as quickly as he could through the fight, avoiding swinging weapons and
fuse grew small, and he lifted it to throw it the remaining distance to the gate,
but he slipped, and the barrel flew out of his hands just as the fuse reached
its end. Time seemed to slow as it rolled toward the gate. Kallan turned to run
as an explosion rocked the room and he felt a searing pain and heat on his
looked up at the top of the castle, toward the flagpole, and then jumped to his
feet in surprise as the rain finally calmed. The rebels stood all around, and a
general sound of astonishment went up all around the castle. The soaking
imperial flag no longer flew over the keep. Instead, an unmistakable brown flag
flew proudly above the castle. No arrows flew from the top.The rebels stood still with confusion for a few
moments. A few muttered about a trick, but Owen felt it was no scheme of the
enemy. Something else had happened inside.
an explosion rocked the air, and Owen hit the ground. He stood, as the sound
subsided. He began to run toward the gate. Or rather what had been the gate. It
no longer stood in its place. Instead, a huge, gaping hole in the rock greeted
them. Pieces of wood and shattered rock littered the ground all around. A few
rebels stood, injured from the explosion. They began to cautiously approach the
gap as the dust settled. A silhouette appeared in the smoke and dust. They
raised their weapons as several more appeared.
lifted his shield, but suddenly lowered it as the men emerged from the dust. He
dropped his weapons and ran forward. Kallan stood in front of him, supporting a
young soldier. They were charred, dusty, and bloody. Several more men appeared
out of the dust, some in miner’s helmets and tunics, and a few in dark red.
They raised their hands in surrender as the rebels grabbed them and quickly
took them captive.
ran forward to Kallan, utter disbelief on his face. They stopped and looked at
each other for a moment, and then Kallan grinned broadly. Owen stuttered, a
little bit of water forming at the corner of his eye.
thought you died.”
finally broke into a smile, and embraced his friend.
you’re alive.” He stepped back.The
other boy let go of Kallan, and attempted to support himself.He was shorter than Kallan, looking like he
could be even younger, even though it was hard to tell through the blood and
dust. He had slick black hair, and an angular, handsome, face. He pushed his
hair to the side, and looked back and forth between Kallan and Owen.
grinned. “In all but blood.”
nodded.“Owen, meet Connor.” He looked
around. “A new recruit to the rebellion.”
rebels gathered around the two boys and the miners, clamoring for
explanation.Then Connor raised his
cheers for Kallan, hero of Ildiv!”
crowd let loose a cheer. Kallan was lifted onto strong shoulders, and carried
through the crowd as the rebel army called his name. Owen stood thoughtfully, and
then followed the crowd.