Chapter 20: The Beginning Of The End
Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred
Allan's ride back to the front lines is a solemn one. Again he pushes thoughts of Emma and love out of his mind, and allows the spirit of the lion to take hold once more.
When he reaches the front lines everybody is busy continuing the process of building rock walls and barricades, and anything else that will help them make a defiant stand against an unwavering enemy. Since they have run out of enchanted arrows to hold back the demon dragons, they need some way to survive their attacks, and to force the enemy to advance on a fortified position causing greater casualties to said enemy.
By now there is one formation or obstacle of some form all the way up and down the second defense line. It would have been nice to have some giant castles to take up defenses in, but this continent never built them on a large enough scale to be effective. In fact, the one true castle in the land of Tally was the home of Prince Reginald, and that is now in enemy hands. It is said that the residents of the castle fought gloriously, but the demon dragons made quick work of it.
The truth is, it is only going to delay the inevitable. The enemy can still put fifty thousand soldiers or more on the front lines, with more reinforcements coming, and the Forces of Light are scraping the bottom of the barrel to get ten thousand, and half of them are wounded in some fashion and the other half aren't professional soldiers.
"But they have stood strong, and if I am to die, I will be honored to die at their sides."
By the time Allan returns to the front lines, the enemy is only a couple of hours away. By now most of the allied cavalry has been annihilated, and won't be a very effective fighting force now that the enemy dragons have free reign to attack them from the skies without having to worry about being attacked by wizards, witches or enchanted arrows, all of which are now gone. However, Allan chooses to remain mounted. He figures if nothing else he can run around like a madman in the background distracting enemy dragons. It is a foolhardy plan, but he feels a necessary one.
They wait anxiously for the enemy to arrive. If time and circumstance had allowed for it, their best chance would be to hide behind their fortifications, if you can call them that, and pelt the enemy with arrows. But the amount of arrows they can muster at this point won't stop a charging bull. It is going to be hand-to-hand, and it is going to be bloody.
It is noon, and the world has decided to grace them with bright sunshine and a day that will reach sixty degrees. A blessing indeed, for it is a good day to die. It is good to see that beauty still exists in the world. It reminds them what they are fighting for.
All Allan has to do is close his eyes and picture Emma, and he knows what he is fighting for. Her eyes staring up at him, her fragrance enveloping him in an intoxication that rejuvenates him, and her soft skin that stimulates him in a way that is probably better left off the battlefield. Allan smiles to himself.
Again the thunder of marching soldiers advance towards them. Steadily, unwavering, the enemy approaches. If this second line of defense fails, their last tactic is to fight the enemy in the cities and towns and then finally to pull back to the ocean and dive in and swim. It isn't a very practical plan, at least not the last part, but you make do with what you have, and with what you can and cannot do. It is as simple as that.
By now Allan can bend his right arm and lift it above his shoulders, but it still has very little strength. It has enough strength to hold a dagger. Allan doubts if he can plunge it deep into his enemy, but he can at least slice with it, giving him that microsecond in battle that often can be the difference between life and death.
The enemy again is making noise, trying to intimidate the Allies. The enemy is just out of eyesight beyond several plunging hills. Then the world becomes silent. Faint at first, and then stronger and stronger they hear a rustling through the air. A sheet of black rain is coming towards them. Thousands upon thousands of arrows come at them.
"Shields up." Of course Allan's arm is not strong enough to lift a shield, so he watches them plunge downward.
Just as they are about to hit, Allan closes his eyes and pictures Emma and a smile comes to his face.
Allan falls to the ground and opens his eyes. He looks around him and is amazed. His horse is now dying on the ground with a dozen arrows sticking in him, and hundreds of arrows surround him, but not one struck home. When Allan had his eyes closed he could feel Emma's love envelope him and repel the arrows. Whether that is true or not, Allan begins to think that maybe he should keep Emma open in his heart and mind, instead of burying her so he can freely embrace the darkness and become that which sadly comes naturally to him; a killer.
"Grab the enemy's arrows and send them back to those children of the abyss."
Every time the enemy sends a volley of arrows at them, they send them right back. Allan thinks the enemy has finally figured out what they are doing, for the arrows stop coming and they can once again hear marching.
The last volley of arrows the enemy shot at them they hold on to, so they can return them face to face as they charge their positions. A wave of soldiers hit the barricades. The barricades slow the enemy up for about two minutes, but they never really stop them. Allan is now on his feet, and as the first enemy soldiers appear over the rock pile he has positioned himself behind, he prepares for the end. Allan slices his enemy in the ankle, and when he falls on the ground he plunges his sword into his stomach and twists.
Four more follow that soldier, and then another twenty follow them. The second line of defense is a dream, and one that does not fulfill its destiny. All up and down the line you can see the Allied soldiers walking steadily backwards, all the while fighting for their lives.
Allan is holding off two enemy soldiers when he hears a thump and feels pressure in his right shoulder, but as of yet there is no pain. After dispatching his foes, Allan looks over and sees the arrow sticking out of him. Before he can comment on it another arrow hits him in the stomach on his left side. He quickly comes to the conclusion that it is a very bad idea to stand still in place for very long. Even with all that is happening around him at lightning speed, the one thing that catches his attention the most is there are no enemy dragons in the skies.
There is no time to count their blessings, because from an unseen command their forces break contact and run full speed for the nearest three towns, which they have also fortified. The Allies still have too many men and women to fit inside the three towns on the southern front, and four smaller villages on the eastern front, so those that cannot fit inside their defense will pull back to the next set of towns and villages.
The four villages on the eastern front are important, because if they do not stand long enough, the enemy can then encircle the southern allied army.
At the point where they can no longer hold out, they will pull back. If they can get out of the surrounded fortifications and pull back past the next line of defense to the next predetermined and fortified villages, they will survive for all that much longer. After that, there are only several more coastline villages, two coastline towns, and the one big city. Beyond there is only defeat and death.
The plan works amazingly well, maybe too well. The enemy comes at the towns and villages like flies to a corpse, and surrounds them quickly. Allan is trying to stop the bleeding from his arrow wounds, so he does not stop at the first line of village defenses. The plan gives them more than enough time to set up the next villages. They never do see one man or woman make it back from the first towns and villages. Unfortunately that now means that there are no more soldiers to take up positions behind them.
Allan thinks about it long and hard as they wait for the enemy to reach them. Like a lightning bolt of clarity, he comes to the conclusion that if they are to stay here they will be utterly annihilated.