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Mr. Hyde
November 19th, 2005, 11:37 PM
Snow falls lightly on the castle and the field stretched beyond it. The moon stands in the sky and torches are lit along the walls and off in the distance, far beyond the reach of arrows. My chain mail is wet and red blots cover spots of my surcoat. I look down at the bits of stone from the damage the catapults caused.

I hear Gregory as he trots up to me. His bow still clutched tightly in his hands. "Capt-er- Diego!" he shouts excitedly, "Sir, are you feeling okay?" I tug my coif off my head and turn to him. "Are the people safe?" He nods. "Then I'm okay." He asks me, "Are you sure?" I drop my hand to his shoulder. "To be honest I'm a little scared." "Me too sir." he says. Elizabeth stares out at us from the balcony and waves. I smile lightly and wave back. And Gregory asks, "We're going to die aren't we?" I lean close and whisper, "As long as I draw breath, no Saxon will ever set foot inside these walls. No Saracen will ever claim this land. And not a single Valerian will ever sit on that throne." He nods slowly.

I step back and point to the highest point on the wall. "I want you to take your best archers and get up there tonight. Keep watch for my signal tomorrow. And don't stand, don't fire, don't even look at anything other than me until I give the signal. Okay?" "Yes sir." "And when I give the signal, I want you to stay kneeling and close to the wall." "Yes sir." He turns and jogs away.

I walk down the steps towards the entrance. There are people staring out windows and some gathered around little brush fires for warmth. Each one passes a glance at me and whispers. One cries and says she'll pray for me. Another tells me he wants to help. One hands me rosary beads. I thumb the beads through my fingers and ask God quietly to protect the people.

Elizabeth meets me as I push past the doors. She falls into my arms and tells me she loves me. "You sound like I'm going to die." She looks up at me and says "You're going to be ordered to attack tonight." I look down at her, "How do you know that?" She replies, "I heard the counsel talking about it. They want you to lead an assault on them. Filego is on his way to hand you the notice." "The men are too exhausted." She answers, "They're giving you command of the elites." "That's trusting."

She asks, "They have faith in you." "No, they have faith my ability to kill people. Not me." She hides it, but I can tell part of her wants to ask what the difference is. But instead she says, "If you go you'll die. I can feel it." I kiss her and say, "Do you remember what you said when we started with each other?" She nods and I continue. "You said, 'Everything happens for a reason. Everything that has happened in our lives led us to each other.' Well, this is just another thing that's happening for a reason."

Filego arrives and hands me the note. He looks at Elizabeth and then looks away quickly. And for a moment, my muscles tighten in a kind of anger I haven't felt in a long time. Filego, a personal servant to the King, and one of the elites. But I read the note anyways and tell him, "Suit up. We're leaving now."

sylouette
November 20th, 2005, 08:22 AM
She asks, "They have faith in you." "No, they have faith my ability to kill people. Not me."

What IS the difference?

Mr. Hyde
November 20th, 2005, 01:18 PM
What IS the difference?

Faith in a man's ability to kill ends when there's no one to left to kill. Faith in a man ends only when he proves unworthy. I'll write more later.

Mr. Hyde
November 20th, 2005, 06:51 PM
Past the walls and just beyond the at the end of the field is their camp. We take off our armor and pull on regular travelers clothing. Grabbing our swords and a quiver of arrows each and a bow, we walk towards the front gate leading out. Just a group of rangers or scouts or hunters leaving is all we look like. Filego says to me, "Do you think we can do this?" "Do this? Yes. Do it and live? No." He smiles and as the gate opens we saddle onto horses and ride halfway out across the field. The wind blisters our faces as we gallop. When we stop we hop down and group together. There's twenty-one of us including me.

"I need ten of you on each side of me. We stand back in the trees and keep the high ground. Keep your distance. Use the darkness to confuse them. Keep them guessing how many and where we are. Don't make a sound. And aim for their knights."

And we slowly stretch out into a line. When we reach the wood we take up positions behind rocks and trees and kneeling near snow capped bushes. We notch an arrow each and take a slow steady aim. THe knights are like Jannisaries for the Ottoman Empire. They're the backbone. The strength. ANd they're all about to die. We let fly and in seconds the camp is alive with shouts and frantic calls to arms. The men gather in circles with the shields out waiting. And we stay quiet. Twenty one men dead. And twenty one more are about to follow.

We fire again aiming just above their shields. Wounding more than we kill. Then we move to the left. Let them think we're firing in shifts. The Captain calls forward for the men to hold and tighten formation. The shrink back and together. Men gather in the middle and raise shields flat above their heads to the groups become walking tanks. He orders them to move forward. The go slow. One step at a time. And we wait. They get closer and closer to the tree line and we stay still. They're using an old Roman technique that's about cause a lot of them their lives. In the wood they can't move fast or maintain formation. THe Captain is spooked and this shows he's losing his cool.

Davock, a man who rivals Gregory in skill as an archer lets loose with an arrow that slinks between the shields and shoves a man's head back into the group. They break loose and we let our arrows go. The dead hit the ground in droves. Each ten on my sides start moving in opposite directions. Splitting up. Getting them in a pinch if we can. And I knock an arrow back and fire at the Captain. He bows slightly and the arrow glants off his helmet grazing him. He drops to a knee and fifteen men rush forward. Axes, swords, and maces raised. Screaming wildly they charge into the night and each one of is cut down except for two. I sling the bow over my shoulder and draw my sword.

As one of them passes a tree I step out and swing hard. The blade catches him just across the chest and throws him to the ground. As he falls the hand axe he's carrying goes loose and I grab it. I hear the other one behind me as I turn and bury the axe into the side of his head. I pick up the sword and the group at this little camp is dwindling quickly. The Captain raises his horn and alerts the army. ANd we're about to be in a world of trouble. I run down as arrows fly left and right and roll under one guy's sword grabbing a burning stick on my way back up.

I swing hard and the stick busts to splinters across the Captain's helmet slinging embers into his eye and mouth slits. I shoulder into him and knock him back as I draw my sword. Filego charges down next followed by the nine of his side, the ones who had been on my right. The Captain readies himself as he shakes off his helmet. His hair is long and gangly black. His face is pale and there are scars all over it and several burns. I drop the busted stick and step towards him.

I hear steel clang behind me and Filego screaming for me to hurry. The Captain laughs and charges at me. He swings his sword overhand and I step to the side and duck as he swings his shield at me next. I catch him under the arm and push hard shoving every inch of my sword into his side. I throw my arm up to keep his shield above us as I jerk hard pulling the blade out and dropping him to the ground. Arrows stick a little too close and Filego helps me in tossing some burning sticks into the trees as we fall back into the night.

With luck we'll smoke them into the open. Maybe burn off some of their supplies or even, God willing, kill a few of them.

.......

Mr. Hyde
November 21st, 2005, 07:00 PM
Their archers are quick to wrap cloth around the arrow heads and fire into the night heaving bits of light around us that disappear into the snow or stick in trees. We tromp along as hard and fast as possible, occasionally turning to volley behind. I reach for an arrow and there's none. I drop the quiver and bow and draw my sword and keep running. I hear a man shout in pain behind me. Amidst the deep roar of the Valerian Army his voice pierces the echoes like the scream of a banshee.

Filego catches me and points ahead to the castle. "If we can make it inside, we'll be safe." I thumb to our backs and reply, "They'll never open the gates with a few thousand pissed of North men chasing us. But they might give us some cover from the walls." He nods and we rush hard to the horses. They're breath is still pouring out as a small fog as we mount up. We kick hard and thunder across the field back towards the outer walls.

As we ride arrows, little flashes of orange flames, flicker near us and one hits a man in the back. He jerks hard to the left and rolls onto the ground with his horse. My jacket flutters in the wind until an arrow pins it to my horse and it bucks. Going wild it kicks and slings me to the ground before trying to gallop away. For a few moments I'm dragged through snow covered grass and over rocks and small holes. My shoulders snugged inside the jacket while my body bounces off the ground. I throw my arms up and slide out and tumble backwards for a few feet.

I crawl up onto my hands and knees and look at them riding off. Leaving me as I'd left the others. I suppose it's fair. I push to my feet and stumble a bit before drawing my sword once more. If I run, I'll just die tired. If I stay, I'll die anyways. Bleeding and freezing the winter chill sets in and I stare back and forth between a slow and a quick death.

.......