The Aceluns had been camped outside of Tanon for a few days now. Since they had arrived the city had been under siege. The Aceluns had not bothered to bring any siege machines with them counting on the area to provide them with the raw materials. No one had bothered to tell them that for the last century Tanon had been using all of the forest around them for firewood, and other industrial needs. The forest had been cut back so far in the last hundred years that it had become cheaper to ship wood into the city than drag the remainders from the foot of the mountain range.
The walls that Tanon hid behind had not been breached since the cities inception some 200 years ago. They were very well maintained. From the outside the city looked like it could withstand four armies and still come out swinging. Unfortunately the defenders on the inside saw a much different picture. Food supplies had been dwindling rapidly, no ships had arrived for days because of the massive Acelun blockade. A lot of the wealthier population had fled to the kingdom proper in the first week after new broke that Mumbril had been taken.
The state of the trained troops was questionable as well. The militia still had a painful lack of archers in the ranks. The few they had were poor shots barely being able to hit the side of a three story building from any respectable range. As for ground troops they had numbers enough to match that of the invading army. They did not however have the equipment or training to put up much of a fight.
Marcus had changed greatly in the last month. He was in a smaller squad chosen because of the quickness that each individual had in learning the fighting profession. They were stationed among center defenses inside the city gate where fighting was expected to be the worst.
“They say the attack is gwonna be coming any day now.” A light hearted voice bubbled.
“They say that everyday Rat. Hell you say that everyday.” Marcus replied.
“One oh me boys on the wall say that they’ve begun to assemble some sort of siege weapon.”
“Yeah well good. I’m tired of sitting on my ass just waiting. They are slowly killing us in here. We can’t get outa the damned city anymore.”
“I jus cant wait teh bash their heads in an show um even us Tamultan commoners got some lion in us.”
“Well for me I just want this done with. I’m tired of army life. Its all waiting, and for what? Death? Great, that’s just the kind of early retirement I want.”
“C’mon, we’ll be running through the streets killing those murderin bastards. We’ll be the avatars of ol, running through the streets and dealing death. The enemy will fear us and the women will want us!”
“You’ve got yourself an overaggressive imagination there. Best thing that can come outa this for us is a quick death. Were here to hold the line at all cost. Yeah we might be some of the best fighters in Tanon which is like being a dwarf amongst midgets, but really, they got a whole army of trained men out there.”
“Ya know, sometimes jus lettin a man dream doesn’t hurt.”
“Yeah, your right. Reality is so overrated.”
A shout came from one of the sentries on the tower. “Their coming!” The desperation was already clear in his voice.
The ants began to get into position, from afar it looked like a drunken blind painter had tried to assemble the men. Only one gate guarded Tanon, there had been no need for more entrances. It made defending the city much easier but it also meant no escape. There would be victory or death and every single one of the militiamen knew it.
Nothing happened for the next hour. Silence had pervaded the entire city. Everyone was anticipating the break of the gate. Then all of a sudden the sun was gone. Arrows had blocked out the sky, death began raining down among the defenders. The lack of shields meant mass death and panic in the groups directly defending the gate. The first earth shattering boom sounded soon after. The large battering ram had been constructed out of the largest trees the Andrine Mts. Could provide. Every few minutes the Aceluns would pull it back then let go making the massive wooden war machine slam violently against the reinforced steel doors.
“Told ya they was coming today.” Rat said smugly.
“Oh, what a great thing to be right about!” Some of Rat’s enthusiasm vanished.
For the next few hours all the defenders could do was sit and hope an arrow didn’t pick them off. The constant booming of the battering ram did nothing to quell the tide of panic that had begun to wash over them. Rat and Marcus began to notice the gate giving ground to the horde outside. Crashing into the defensive structure a final time the gate buckled and fell to the ground hinges destroyed.
“Here they come!” Rat exclaimed happily. Only they didn’t come. The soldiers began to move the war machine out of the way. The few defending archers inside finally began to fight back against the attackers plucking some off but more often than not missing altogether. After the siege machine had been moved a wall of red and blue shields had been created in an instant. It began to march forward.
The first line of defenders rushed towards it and tried to halt the attack. They got to within three feet of the wall before it showed its teeth. Spears the length of a man jutted out and skewered the defenders. Soon the wall had made it to the first buildings. It moved through the first block with ease. A bell sounded from town square and before the it could retreat hot blackness was being poured all over them from the buildings that surrounded them. The archers had armed themselves with flame tipped arrows and let loose.
Instantly the wall disintegrated into a buzzing burning hive of dying insects. The screams that came from it turned into wails of despair and a sickening smell began to permeate the city.
“Smells like bacon” Rat mentioned even more excited. “Lets go kill us some piggy’s!” Marcus just about threw up.
The attackers had wasted no time in getting more troops into the city. Once the burning men realized that they could not retreat because their brothers in arms were clogging the only way out they began to rush the defenders.
“Here they come!” Marcus yelled. Rat managed to make a noise of delight or ecstasy Marcus couldn’t tell.
The few men of the initial attack came sprinting towards the defenses where Rat and Marcus were. Rat jumped out to the side of the barricade that blocked half the street surprising the aggressor. His war hammer went into a wide arc moving in quickly on the man. The enemy swiftly positioned his shield in a way to try and deflect the blow while simultaneously pulling his short sword out. Rat’s blow connected and a sickening thud sounded. He had put so much force into the blow that the bones in the Aceluns arm disintegrated. The man stumbled over hitting the side of the barricade knocking him out. Marcus quickly grabbed the mans sword which was of much higher quality that his own.
“Finish him quick!” Rat yelled as another soldier approached him.
Marcus began trembling. He had never taken a mans life. What if this man had a family he wanted to return to what if- “Finish him now! He whudda killed you if he had the chance!” Rat yelled. He had been taking on soldiers with ease, if not grace. The power he could put behind the blows was astonishing but the flood kept coming and Rat was beginning to slow down. “AARRG!” Rat yelled as one of the soldiers broke through his defenses and cut a gash into his side.
A flip switched in Marcus’s head. Seeing someone hurt his comrade he instantly stabbed the unconscious man in the heart.
Three Aceluns had engaged Rat. Marcus jumped into the fray flanking one of them and cutting him down. A few of the other men in the squad had been killed on the far side of the street. Reinforcements had begun to pour in on both sides. It became hard to distinguish who was a friend and who was trying to cut who to ribbons.
Marcus tried hard to keep his back to a building or barricade. No reason to get chopped up from behind. He could make out Rat in the middle of the fighting still swinging his hammer smashing friend or foe around him. Three attacks were suddenly on Marcus, he had picked up a shield from one of the attackers and was making good use of it but he had neither the skill nor the strength to take them all on.
“Rat!” he yelled, his voice beginning to get horse. “HELP!”
He thought he heard a chuckle. The three attackers began to move in synchronization coming in from different angles at different heights. Two were blocked by shield and sword but the third was blocked by arm and bone. Blood began to flow freely from the top of Marcus’s arm. Pain coursed through it. The three seeing the opening began to attack again. Suddenly a blur came from behind them and turned one to paste against the barricade. The other two began to turn and Marcus used the opportunity to stab the middle one in the back. The last suffered a similar fate as the first.
“Hey there buddy! Lets get ya outa here, you don’t look so hot.” Marcus looked at Rat in disbelief. Rat was covered in blood. There were cuts all over him and what looked like a purple mushroom on the side of his arm.
“Thanks, but you don’t look too good either.”
The duo fought their way back to the defensive lines. Just as Rat and Marcus got through Rat collapsed on the ground. They were done fighting, at least for today. Marcus helped carry Rat back to the triage area. It took about five men to move him.