and Owen stood side by side, watching as the wagons rolled out of Ildiv.Supplies, armor, weapons, and blasting powder
rolled out, and the rebels marched, hauling supplies. A number of miners and
rebels dug mass graves outside the city in which to bury the large numbers of
dead. The few prisoners the rebels had taken from the small city garrison were
marched out of the city under guard.
watched everyone pass. He had not yet been assigned to be a new unit after
Morgen’s death.He knew that few of his unit had survived.
Only the few that had escaped with Kallan and, unfortunately, the coward, Dalt.
Owen frowned as he thought of how Dalt had hid in the attack on the tunnels,
and had survived the collapse for that reason.
single horseman rode up to the large group of unitless soldiers, the majority
new recruits from the city. “You are all to report to the command area.” With
that he wheeled and trotted off to deliver another message.They turned and began to march.
large number of citizens had enlisted. Their numbers included slaves, miners,
and other men. It was a surprise, but a pleasant one, for many good men had
been lost in the battle. Unfortunately, these men would have to be trained on
the go, as they were now on the move. The army of the rebellion had begun its
assault, and there would be no time to retreat and train the new men. So they
would move forward, and take the cities of the empire.
walked quietly among the new soldiers, Kallan next to him. Kallan had had a
mood of joviality since the city had been taken. He knew that it was by his own
leadership and strategy that the final blow had been struck so quickly,
although Owen had pointed out that none of it would have happened if he hadn’t
had a giant rock wall fall on top of him, weakening the rock enough to reveal
the passage. Kallan was still very proud
of himself. Owen worried that he was a bit too proud.
finally reached the improvised command post outside the city, made up of a few
wagons and a canvas tent.Several men
stood around a table, discussing something in quiet voices, when the group of
soldiers walked up. General Corwin and a few other members of the council were
there, along with the commanders of the army.
soldiers stood at attention as the General and his commanders turned to look
over the troops. Corwin stood for a
moment before speaking.
thank each one of you for joining us. Every man that joins our force gives us a
better chance against the empire. They are strong, but we have the power of
right on our side.” He smiled.“Each of
you will be assigned to a commander.” He paused. “Come forward, sign your name
as best you know how, and you will be assigned a commander.”
man walked forward in turn, and signed the parchment. A few just placed an x or some sort of mark
where their name would go.Owen stood to
the side, as he knew his name was already on the lists of parchment.He waited until all the men had gone forward,
waiting his turn. Kallan stood nearby along with Dalt and a few other soldiers
who had been separated from their units. Corwin approached them.
will all be falling in with Commander Erin Redwill.” One of the commanders
stepped forward, slipping his helm off to reveal thick brown hair and a bushy
beard.He stood silently. Owen looked
over his new commander carefully. He was tall and burly, with a large quantity
of thick brown hair and beard. A long poleaxe was strapped to his back, and he
wore a suit of chainmail that had to have been made especially for him to fit
over his hulking chest.
this man, to join the rest of your new unit.” He pointed to a small messenger. He bowed his head for a moment. “I am truly
sorry for the loss of your commanders.”
men turned to leave with the messenger, but Corwin took Kallan by the
shoulder.“Stay here, lad. I need to
talk to you.” He smiled genially. Kallan waved Owen on, mouthing that it would
moved off, glancing back as the General talked quietly with Kallan.The messenger led the men to where the army
was camped, beginning to set up tents.They were to stay the next night in front of the city.The man led them silently through the camp
until they reached a place where a group of men were setting up several large
tents. He spoke for the first time.
set the camp, then set up a bed and rest for a while. We begin to march
sat at the table with the other commanders, listening as they discussed plans.
He wondered where Owen was, but he was too excited to think much of it. To
think, he, Kallan Keeganson, was to become a commander in the rebel army if he
proved himself! He couldn’t help but grin as he listened.
small unit was to be made up of the men he had led in the taking of the keep
and a few men of Corwin’s selection. He knew this meant he would no longer be
with Owen, but he also realized that this could take him far.He was to serve under one of the toughest
commanders in the army. Corwin had said if he proved himself well under him, he
would have command of his own unit.
had spoken to him of his plans for the unit. It would be ‘a special unit that
used the special skills of the miners and the power of trust for getting into
cities quickly’. Kallan had also been excited that he would be allowed to use
listened carefully to the planning. He felt extremely honored that the General
had seen fit to allow him into the central planning.A large map lay across the table, as Corwin
pointed out the city of Merten.
reason we took Ildiv so easily is because it was relatively unprepared, had a
small garrison, and because of the ingenuity of our friend Kallan.” With this
he looked at Kallan with a small smile, then turned back to the map.
has a slightly larger garrison, but it is not as defensible as Ildiv. We should
be able to take it fairly easily, as long as they do not receive warning before
we reach it. Unfortunately, there is a good chance that messengers and scouts
of the empire have already sighted our army here, and that we will be waited
for when we reach the city. All the same, we should not abandon our position.”
He placed his finger on Ildiv, moving upward along the great road.
will move upward, and set a position at the crossroads, south of the hills of
Moran.There our main force will set up,
while a force will head south to take Merten. We will defend our position by
the Moran hills, maybe taking some of the villages between the hills and
Hollen. Once Merten is taken, we will move on to clear the plains north of the
hills of Moran, and then to the three largest threats of the empire: Hollen,
Lengbridge, and finally Drenna.” He stopped with a flourish. “If things go as
they have gone here, our army will gain followers at every city.”
commanders nodded slowly. “Commander Quil, Commander Laxley, and you, General
Wesley,” He looked at his second in command, a member of the council, “shall
move on Merten.”He looked at Kallan.
“That means you as well, Keeganson. Prove yourself well.”
marched steadily north, standing with the rest of his elite unit. Connor
marched by his side, holding a similar pack to Kallan’s on his back. They moved
along the road, the mountains to their left, and the rocky foothills to their
left. They marched near the head of the army. They would camp as soon as it
became night, and the next day the army would split, the main force moving
north to fortify a position and wait, while the force commanded by General
Wesley would move south to Merten.
looked back at the long line of men. He glanced around, wondering if the empire
knew of their presence.
lone rider on an exhausted horse rode through the gate of the castle of Hollen,
and jumped off. His horse stopped, breathing hard and sweating, a lather of
foam covering its body.The rider
stumbled past the large number of guards and through the gate, into the keep.
He moved through the feast, and collapsed in front of the dais. The large lord
is the meaning of this?”
city of Ildiv… is taken…”
gasp went across the room full of feasting people. The lord looked at the man
was not the messenger who answered, but a cool, calm, voice.
rebellion, lord Alun.”Cardowac stood
from his seat at the dais. “Of whom I already warned you.” The lord watched
Cardowac in shock, then fell backward into his seat, fainting. Cardowac jumped
from the dais. “Raise the alarm and mobilize the army. Bring me your fastest
messengers. I have a message for the capitol.” As he paced out of the hall,
people leapt to their feet. There was no mistaking that he had been ready for
lay quietly on his blanket. The army had not set camp fully, but instead had
just lay down to rest. They would make a more permanent camp tomorrow. He
looked up at the waning moon, and sighed. It seemed that Kallan would be
separate again. He wished he could stay with his friend, although he thought
maybe he could use the independence. He drifted off to sleep, exhausted, and
watched a man riding through thick forest, jumping logs and crashing through timber.
He was clad in a dark blue tunic, and he had a hood over his head. His horse
was sweaty and breathing hard, but he didn’t slow.He rode faster, and suddenly he burst into a
clearing. He paused for a moment, when he suddenly tensed and looked round,
pulling his hood off. Owen recognized the tall man from his previous dreams,
Martin. Now he was tall and strong, much older than he had been in the last
dream. He looked around as he heard a sound.Owen heard it to.
was a twang, and arrows flew from the forest around him. He spurred his horse,
but was caught by an arrow, and fell. The horse began to run, but a man in dark
clothing stepped from the woods and grabbed it’s bridle. Martin stood, but was
caught by another arrow and fell to his knees. He struggled to draw his short
sword, but a third arrow hit him in the chest, and he fell on his back,
stepped from the forest, wearing dark clothes and masks. Martin lay on the
ground, breathing hard as blood seeped from the wounds in his chest.His face was pale as his attackers surrounded
him. One of them pulled off his mask, revealing the face of Card. Owen let out
a cry of shock as the man knelt beside his once friend.He spoke quietly as the face of Martin was
transformed by confusion and shock.
when I told you that I would happily join anyone who could change this broken
kingdom?” He paused, watching as a bit of blood slipped from the corner of
have found a leader. Die in this knowledge, that soon this kingdom will be
destroyed, and a new, better, stronger empire will rise up from the ashes. Die
knowing that your… friends… will all die. You could have joined me earlier, and
maybe you would not be about to die.”
hand shot up, clutching with his last effort at the man’s throat. Cardowac
whipped out a dagger and stabbed. Martin collapsed, letting out one last cry as
his last breath slipped from his pale and bloodless lips. Card stood, wiping
his dagger on his tunic.
him to his horse. I have a message to send to the empire.”
quickly scrawled something on a piece of paper, sticking it to the body with an
arrow and slapping the horse, sending it running. And the dream suddenly
flashed to something different.
again he saw Card. This time, he had begun to grow a light beard, and was
dressed once again in dark clothes. He stood near a tall strong looking man
with striking features. He had long light brown hair held in a ponytail, and
deep brown eyes, almost black.He talked
loudly to a large crowd of men.
will build siege weapons. The kingdom is weak, and their armies are not ready
for this onslaught. We will destroy their castles, their places of security.”
He turned to Card. “Cardowac, write this down.”
woke with a start. Cardowac. That was why he seemed so familiar, and so
evil.Owen lay, thinking, wondering who
this friend was who had been betrayed so brutally. He shuddered, then rolled
over and fell back to sleep.