Battle! Part X (End)Submitted by ridiculous at 2010-03-02 10:17:58 EST
Rating: 2.0 on 13 ratings (13 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
2nd Prelude: http://www.ubersite.com/m/124425
2nd Day: http://www.ubersite.com/m/124476
Part VI: http://www.ubersite.com/m/124495
Part VII : http://www.ubersite.com/m/124527
Part VIII : http://www.ubersite.com/m/124552
Part IX : http://www.ubersite.com/m/124595
Sir Perth had barely been able to understand Graegor during his blubbering report. Saleene had ordered him to relate all he knew and dutiful to his mistress he had. Saleene had gone on to explain that his reaction was simply the effect of her glamour and that in several days he would be alright, if he lived that long. William had shook Uriels hand and thanked him before wishing them a safe journey and returning to question Graegor.
Graegor had reported that all of the timber lined against the bulwark had been drilled hollow and filled with stones and the burning powder Saleene had concocted for Baraccus. They were meant to serve as a trap when the main charge against the bulwark occurred. He described how the Horde had to charge the position or they would be whittled down by the archers. Baraccus would wait until the first soldiers had nearly reached the top and then push burning logs over the edge. The logs would push the troops down onto the spikes in the ditch, but more importantly, they would weight down the timbers and set them alight. When they detonated the burning timber would disintegrate and throw a shower of shards and stones at them. The velocity of the projectiles would punch holes straight through their armor.
Graegor went on to report on their plans, how they had stores arrayed and explained why Saleene appeared to be directing the men the scout had seen. They were making a bunker behind the bulwark for their men to shelter in when the timbers were fired.
The plan was simple but the Knight Commander knew it could have easily decimated his force. He also knew he needed to finish this before Baraccus had a chance to come up with something else. This had to end, today.
“ 2nd Horde! Forward! ”
Having sent engineers and scouts into the woods ahead, to disarm any traps they could find, Sir Perth had taken to foot with his men. Together they moved into the wood. This time there would be no parlay. This time Baraccus would pay for his crimes and not even God could save him.
Baraccus was anxious; his hands were sweating as he paced back and forth over the bulwark. Today would be the day. Today he was going to kill Perth and then the King would be powerless against him. He would raise an army with tales of his exploits and then he would return to the capital. He would storm the palace and make the king watch as his mistake came full circle. He would make the King beg his mercy and then he would hold him by the hair and slice his throat. He would make sure the last thing the king saw was his eyes. He grinned and felt a pleasing chill at the thought of that moment. It was coming. His day would come, soon.
Baraccus stopped his pacing and turned to the edge of the woods. Were his eyes playing tricks or did that shadow just move? He strained his eyes to pierce the gloom of the wood, he could see someone. There was a man crouching there.
Baraccus opened his mouth the shout an alarm as a flight of nearly a dozen burning arrows flew from the woods and into the timbers along the Bulwark. Baraccus saw them impact and eyes widening he turned to flee. The concussion hit him and lifted him into the air. He flew down the rear of the Bulwark and landed on solid ground with a force that knocked the wind from him and left him struggling for consciousness.
William watched the smoke and flames rise into the sky, he lifted his shield and lowered his visor as the spray of stones and splinters showered his men. They were well outside of the traps effective range. William had seen Baraccus on the bulwark just before the explosion but as the smoke cleared he was no where in sight. He hoped Baraccus had not been killed.
Sir Perth, Knight Commander of the King’s 2nd Horde was the first to break into the clearing. He shouted a war cry that was echoed by the hundreds following him. The enemy was only stunned by the explosion and the vision of their commander being its first victim for a moment. Answering the cry with one of their own every man among them took to the wall.
As Sir Perth and the swords, pikes and axes with him charged they were met by the moving shadow of arrows headed for them. Those men who were able lifted their shields to partially protect themselves as they ran headlong across the clearing. Arrows thunked solidly into some shields, glanced off of others and provoked screams from many men. Sir Perth charged on.
Another volley found them on their way. Men died. Some were wounded and lamely continued the charge. William sidestepped as an arrow landed where he would have been in another moment and looked up tracing its trajectory in his mind. He approximated what part of the wall the enemy archer was on and steered his charge to that point.
The wind shifted slightly, pushing more of the smoke from the burning ditch back over the bulwark. The arrows continued but quite a few seemed to stray further from the mark. More men fell but the Horde advanced. Sir Perth’s force reached the bulwark, many leapt blindly into the smoke and burning embers, for some a loss of footing sent them to the spikes below others clamored towards the top receiving an arrow or a thrust sword upon reaching the peak.
The Knight Commander shouted again rallying his men as more threw themselves down into the ditch and began the likely terminal ascent of the earthen wall. Sit Perth jumped into the ditch narrowly avoiding a gore covered stake and began to climb.
Baraccus had come to his senses when he heard the commotion on the wall behind him. Rising to his feet he steadied himself and looked around. He was only slightly injured but stiff all over, he grasped a large splinter lodged in his cuisse and with a grunt of pain pulled it out. His blood immediately began trickling down his armor.
His men were holding the wall but there had been a breach off to the west. The man had already taken back that section of the bulwark again. The number of men with swords, not bows, in their hands told him that the enemy was close and getting closer. He pulled the massive bastard sword from his back and trudged up the incline shouting for reinforcements to be diverted to the West.
William was directly behind two swordsmen as they crested the wall. The one to his left received an arrow through his throat at a range of two feet. The arrow nearly passed all the way through, as it was the man seemed to stand straight before falling back. William turned to watch him fall and could see by his face he was dead long before he hit the earth. He hadn’t even clutched at his throat.
Reaching up the second swordsman pierced the archers ribs with his long sword, the swordsman didn’t even slow down, reaching the top and starting to stand he was hit solidly in the back by a lightly armored soldier with a mace. The swordsman dropped to his hands and knees.
With a hand on the wounded soldiers back William propelled himself to the top of the incline cleaving the enemies arm off at the elbow. The now armless enemy stumbled back into another of Baraccus’ men knocking them both to the ground. Sir Perth made sure neither of them ever stood up again, dispatching them both with quick thrusts to the chest.
Sir Perth spun around to see another coming, his sword held high over his head. Training taking over William sidestepped, bowed low and swung his sword up hard into the soldiers mailed midsection. The blade bit through the steel links nearly lifting the man from his feet, the soldier’s sword fell to the ground as he collapsed.
William surveyed the scene before him: more of his men were climbing through the hole he had made them and the wounded swordsman was back on his feet. Resuming his role as commander he sent half of them in each direction to flank those enemies who did not yet realize they were on the wall. A loud cry distracted him. He looked to the East and saw Baraccus, eyes set upon him and pushing through his own men to get at him.
William gathered a few men who had just climbed through the breach and pushed into the wall of men and steel towards Baraccus. His men pressed the enemy and fought hard but casualties were mounting. Blood soaked the earthen rampart and the footing became treacherous. Men slipped in bloody puddles and tripped over fallen comrades and enemies alike.
Swords swung home and axes bit into steel, the smell of burning sulfur and blood covered all. His men pushed through a knot of the enemy taking advantage of any exposed weakness. Stabbing and slashing they pressed on. William never broke eye contact with Baraccus as they came together.
As their parties met the men paired off trying to find any way to overwhelm or flank their enemies, but the run atop the bulwark was too small for fancy maneuvering. Soldiers swung their weapons and the ring of steel on steel drowned out all else. Sir Perth could see his men appearing all across the bulwark and knew the tide was turning in their favor.
William charged at Baraccus crying out all of his fury, his long sword striking and nearly bouncing off Baraccus’ massive bastard sword. They collided and pressed their blades together, each seeking to knock the other off balance. With a tremendous display of strength Baraccus pushed Sir Perth back several feet. Without hesitation he brought the massive blade around in an arc aimed at William’s chest. The Knight Commander was quicker; leaping back he avoided the sword and pressed in during Baraccus’ follow through, hoping to find him off balance.
Baraccus anticipated the rush and stepping back he used the momentum of his previous swing to arc his weapon into an overhead attack that would have cleaved the Knight Commander’s head in two. Again William reacted raising his blade horizontally overhead he caught the larger mans attack, the force with which the blades collided was incredible. Baraccus’ heavier blade bit deep into Sir Perth’s own weapon nearly slicing the sword in half.
Baraccus withdrew his blade nearly wrenching William’s own from his grip as the steel of the two weapons had bitten each other so tightly. William found himself staggering forward. Baraccus seized the opportunity bringing down the pommel of his sword hard on Sir Perth’s helmet. The force of the impact dropped William to his knees at Baraccus’ feet.
Focusing his vision William saw the blood running over Baraccus’ poleyn and followed it back to the puncture in his cuisse. Baraccus lifted his massive sword, prepared to take the life of his nemesis. William reached out and dug a finger into the hole in Baraccus’ armor, into the flesh of his right thigh. Baraccus yelled in pain and anger as he jerked away, one hand reaching for the wound and the other supporting his massive sword. Sir Perth used the opportunity to roll away and get to his feet.
The battle moved between the two combatants as men from both sides pushed at each other filling the gap. Baraccus in his anger began to swing his sword madly cutting down his own men as well as William’s. Sir Perth defended himself from various attackers all the while trying to make his way back to his enemy. William killed two, then three as he hacked his way back to the one he really wanted.
The Commanders met again; steel rang on steel as they tried their might against one another. Baraccus was stronger but Sir Perth was quicker. Their exchanges tried them both sorely each smiting the other repeatedly but never landing that strike which would turn the contest in their favor. They both bled and sucked air greedily, through their visors, but refused to rest and offer their opponent an opportunity to end their war.
The battle raged all around, Baraccus’ men were harried and dying but still fought with bitter determination. They knew this would be their last battle and seemed to have resigned themselves to death with the sole caveat of taking as many of the Horde with them as they were able. There would be no quarter asked or given today.
Owen pulled his sword from a soldier’s breastplate by a foot on his chest; wiping the blood from the side of his face with the back of his hand he scanned the rampart. He could see no way for his men to take this battle now and turning to engage another soldier of the Horde he swore to himself that before he died he would see Sir Perth ashen in death.
“You cannot beat me William!”
Baraccus swung his great weapon again. Sir Perth dodged but slowly. As the minutes passed the Knight Commander was getting much slower.
“I already have beaten you! Look around!” The Knight Commander panted.
William was out of breath, his posture slouched under the weight of his armor. Baraccus pressed the attack swinging wildly for William. Having no where to go, Perth raised his sword. He managed to deflect the blow but the weight of Baraccus’ sword was so great he stumbled away, nearly falling over the edge of the bulwark. Sir Perth turned back as Baraccus closed the distance between them prepared to send him over the edge to the spikes below.
Owen saw the Knight Commander before him. He watched him stumble and nearly fall over the edge, then turn his back. Abandoning his sword in the guts of the soldier he had just stabbed he pulled a long dagger from his belt and stepped behind Sir Perth. Raising the blade he slid it neatly into the gap under his vembrace and into his chest. The man stiffened and dropped to his hands and knees trying to reach the wound. Owen smiled as he looked down at the dying man feeling his victory.
“No!” Baraccus charged Owen, raising his sword.
The startled Owen turned to see his General charging him. Before he could even mutter an exclamation Baraccus had brought the massive sword down on his neck, nearly cleaving him in two. Baraccus watched Owen crumple before him and still in the grip of rage he removed his helm and spat on the corpse. Turning back to William he saw the Knight on his knees, looking up at him, his blood coursing out the bottom of his breastplate.
Baraccus raised his sword, one final time. He was determined to savor what he could of his stolen victory by removing Sir Perth’s head.
William sat, on his knees as Baraccus raised the sword, his vision going black he could still clearly see the madness in his foe’s eyes. It was all over now, he had lost. Baraccus brought the sword down, the weight of the blade setting him off balance, just enough. William gripped the bottom of Baraccus’ breast plate and leaned back pulling the larger man with him. They tumbled down the earthen mound together coming to rest on the sharpened stakes below.
Uriel crested the hill behind Saleene and stopped. He turned to the landscape below and looked at the smoke rising lazily from the center of the woods. He clenched his jaw as he watched, knowing he should have been there to support his old friend.
Saleene stopped and turned to look at the old wizards back.
“Something troubles you, sire?”
“William is dead.”
Saleene did not respond immediately. “I’m… sorry.”
He turned back to her, took her hand and continued walking.
“So am I.”
(To be continued?...)