Chapter 23: The Enemy Falters
Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred
"Grand Master, it appears these creatures god is the dark creature Masil. From what I have been able to piece together, they call themselves the Zalls, and they are bent on world domination."
"No, Grand Master. He is dying, and his thoughts deteriorate more with every passing second."
"Masil again, huh?"
"Yes, Grand Master."
"We need to speak with the dragons, for they are the only ones alive likely to remember his last walk in this world." As an afterthought, just before Stephen walks out of the cottage into the rising day, he turns and commands, "Once the Zall dies, do an autopsy on him and find out the most efficient ways to kill them."
They brought this on themselves.
Allan awakes to the horrible sounds of dragons fighting in the skies. Their fierce screeches and roars echo their sounds of rage throughout the city. He sits up a little too quickly again and pays for it in pain. Once Allan gives himself a moment to clear his head, he realizes he feels a lot better. While Stephen and Allan were talking last night he managed to nibble a little food and drink some water.
As Allan lingers in the cot, the kind nurse Maria comes walking in. "Feeling better, I see. After you went to sleep last night, your brother enveloped you in a cocoon of power and left you in it for an hour. After he left just before sun up, he sent in a healer and she ran her magic through you another two times. I kind of figured you'd be waking up feeling mighty good."
"Indeed I do, milady. Thank you so kindly for your attentions."
"It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the great Crag Clan, milord. I have brought you a warm meal here, but the battle has begun in earnest and I am sure you will be wanting to join in as soon as possible."
"Heard of me have you?"
"Aye, I am of the Gordon Clan, milord, you are legend."
"Ah, the Gordon Clan, long have our great peoples been friends and family. Well, Maria of the Clan Gordon, I will take that food now, for unless I get food in me not even the magic of the Grand Master himself will sustain me as the battle progresses."
Allan eats with a surprising calmness and relaxed pace. While every fiber of his being is screaming for him to get out the door, he knows he needs this time for himself and his friends that have given their all for this endeavor. Allan figures the reason he is able to relax is because since he decided to keep Emma in his mind instead of pushing her aside so as not to involve her in the horror of battle, she has never left his side. In truth, she never has left his side, and the brief moment Allan gives himself to remember his fallen friends, it is a moment of supreme pride.
Someone has left Allan new clothes, boots, leather armor and weapons. As it always does, gearing up for battle is almost like a meditative exercise. After Allan slips his boots on, he picks up his new shield and positions it on his right arm. Allan then takes the sword and looks it up and down, moving it this way and that to get the feel for her. It is a good sword. The last thing Allan does is slide his helm onto his head. It fits near perfect, and it is made in such a design that it will give him good protection yet not limit his visibility to the point of being dangerous. As Allan slides the helmet on, that old feeling comes over him, and his brown eyes become steely eyed. Allan walks out the door.
Stephen is leading the second assault on the enemy positions. Even though the dragons have become less of a factor, because they are too busy fighting each other, they are still a danger, because every once in a while one will drop out of the sky taking whole houses with them as they land to their deaths, or fighting with another dragon.
The sounds of the dragons are deafening.
Allan comes up to a group of soldiers and asks them, "Where can I find Stephen, the Grand Master?" They try to tell him something, but between the dragons and his new helm they give up and just point almost due south.
"You there, give me your horse."
"I don't think so, sir, I ... Sorry, sir, I did not recognize you. Here you go."
"How is it you know me lad?"
"I am of the Rock Clan." The youngster says, sticking out his chest.
"Little Mad Marty?" A red-haired, brown eyed, now fifteen years old firecracker.
"Aye, milord." he says, smiling proudly.
"I have been away from home a long time indeed."
"My father is up at the front lines, Allan. They say I am still too young to be on the front lines, but that I can still be useful. What do you think, sir?"
"Jonah the Brave is here?"
"Of course, Allan."
"What are your orders?"
"To relay messages back and forth between the front lines and the command center, and between commanders up and down the front lines."
"Marty, find me another horse and we'll ride up to the front lines together. You're doing no good hanging out back here in no mans land."
"Actually, sir, I was relaying a message from your brother to the rear command center. I was just taking temporary shelter as a pride of dragons flew over."
"Fair enough. Give me your horse and tell me where Stephen is, and you run back. Now, boy. Oh, and Marty, you are of the Rock Clan, your time will come, and I'm sure you will shine." The promise of glory and valor makes him smile as he runs off down the street.
Allan mounts the black stallion, and repositions his weapons and armor to be a little more comfortable, which is nearly impossible, but he thought he'd try anyway.
The whole neighborhood lights up, so it isn't that hard to track Stephen down. At first Allan isn't sure about his choice of going mounted, because the streets are so narrow and all the rubble lying about, but by the time he reaches the raging battles he has room to maneuver. Allan follows the commotion and the dead bodies, and when he breaks out onto the largest street in the city he sees a sector of his forces being pushed back, so he kicks the stallion into a full run and plows right into the enemy. The shock factor of his actions makes the difference, as the enemy folds before their renewed advance.
Unfortunately the stallion is not so lucky, and comes up lame and wounded.
"I hope this was not a favorite horse of young Mad Marty." Oh well, Allan is on foot again.
Just as well, he has found Stephen and he is engaged with several of the Zalls. No one stands long against the onslaught that Stephen can bring to the battle.
"It's about time you decided to join the action." Stephen replies, without taking his eyes from the battlefield.
"What's the plan?"
"Step one is to push these sons of the abyss out of this city."
"Simple and to the point. I like it." Allan raises his sword and advances on the enemy.
The enemy Breen mercenary swings at him with his broad sword, which Allan easily deflects with his shield. As Allan uses the shield to make his enemy go off balance to Allan's right, he then spins around to his right and comes up behind him, cleaving a wound that no magic can heal.
Brick by brick, building by building, street by street, the Allies push the enemy back. The enemy fights on tenaciously until nightfall, and then they use the cover of darkness to pull out of the city and fall back to the next line of villages and towns. Many of Allan's kin feel as he does, and want to chase them all the way back to the southern ocean, but cooler heads prevail and they let them go.
A teenage young man with wild red hair and piercing blue eyes, who has been fighting for his country of Tally from the very beginning, and whose name, Eric The Red, will go down as legend, is shaking his scarred sword at the retreating enemy and yells, "The city is ours again." The allied forces cheer and their spirits are raised.