Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Great Weapons - Atop The Rampart 02

Yeah, okay. I like this one. So here's a second piece of it. First draft, right off the top of my head, so if you see anything wrong please let me know.

"My lord?" Steward Arkiber stepped forward. "Should we send the women and children away with the peasants?"

Roberr drew breath to answer, stopped... and then released it. He had only just reached his seventeenth year; he'd only just finished with the last of his tutors; he lacked any experience with these sorts of decisions. For a moment he was desperately aware of being young and alone, and he missed his father with an intensity that bordered on panic. "...Yes," he said. "They'll go to Boeringen, where my mother can inform the lady of these demands and beg her for reinforcements."

"What good will that do?" someone muttered. The gatehouse was crowded with warriors, noble and peasant alike; Roberr couldn't tell who spoke. "A hundred more men, or even a thousand, against the legions outside?"

"We have the keep," he said suddenly. His voice was louder than he'd intended; it cut through the murmurs and silenced the room. "We have our walls, our defenses. It's two days to Boeringen, and two days back - faster if the Order offers assistance, and they have a chapter house there. We can hold the Shadir long enough to make the call, and longer still if they answer it. If the lords of the East unite, we might even turn them back. Here. Now. If we have courage. If we hold to our duty." He wasn't sure if he believed any of that; he was a little surprised to find it on his tongue.

"Well said," murmured Brother Wend, who had moved to stand at Roberr's side. He was short, barely coming up to Roberr's shoulder, but lean and broad-shouldered beneath his simple blue robe. Speaking more loudly, he continued: "The Shadir hate the Order. They execute us whenever they find us. I cannot imagine that my superiors will not see the wisdom in stopping them here, where failure still offers them the chance to fall back to Boeringen. They will send help."

Roberr nodded. "Send a small troop with the women and children. Choose the most experienced scouts, the seasoned warriors. Their skills will be more valuable on the road than they will here, where walls and arrows will matter more than individual skill. Langoish Keep is ancient; the stones of our walls are heavy with protections, grown old and strong with the help of generation after generation of adepts. It will not fall easily, even to sorcery."

"The Shadir sorcerers are strong," said a new voice, "but they are not invincible. I've killed three of them already."

Roberr turned his head and found a young woman standing beside him. She was, if anything, even younger than he was... and while he would have sworn he hadn't seen her before, he also had the impression that she'd been standing there for some time. Brother Wend stepped back abruptly, confirming his mixed impression. "Do I know you?" he asked, quietly.

She turned her head slightly, and answered him just as quietly. "I don't know. Did your father speak of me? I'm Miledha, the witch. I've brought you back your father's sword... and I can offer you more than that."

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