Snow and BloodMature

  They had maybe...five minutes at best before the occupants of the city realised something was wrong. All of his men were wearing the same boiled leather armour as the northmen, it would make an arrow none lethal, and stop a dirk, but not much else. However it did give them the added benefit of blending in, from a distance at least. Just like he'd predicted the streets were mostly silent with only a few small patrols of thirty soldiers striding around the open plan streets between the dull square houses. Resting his sword onto his shoulder he strode around the wall as if he was just another sentry working his shift, as he walked left his men went right, silently killing the soldiers stationed at the lookout towers. He'd need as many killed as possible, when the gate went up the whole city would know something was amiss, then the real fighting would begin. Rickard turned up at his side, double bladed starsteel axe swinging gently in his hands behind his back. 'I see two above the portcullis tower closest two us, three on the second tower, one by the crank in the middle.' he whispered as they strode along the city wall.

'Leave the first three to me.' the huge captain whispered back. As they neared the raised portcullis towers Tywin walked up the short set of steps behind Rickard.

'You're a new face big man!' said one of the guards. 'I think 'Id've remembered seeing a mug like that 'round 'ere.'

'Just on my patrol like everyone else...' His axe swung, slicing the thigh of the nearest. Swords and cries rang out across the city like wailing banshees. Sliding beneath Rickard's axe swing Tywin cut down the man by the crank his blood smearing through the air in a thin red line as his sword passed clean through his belly. Rolling out of the slide he leapt into the second tower stabbing outwards in mid air. A northmen blocked his attack. With a clean whoosh an arrow passed so close the his head he felt the hairs of his scalp being picked up by its breeze. Landing on bothfeet he quickly blocked the two swordsman’s attacks, parried the closest one too him slicing through the leather of his shoulder. The man screamed, his arm dropping uselessly to his side with his blade hanging loosely in unfeeling fingers. Booting him in the chest he shot backwards, flying down the steps and landing in a heap with a soft grunt. Ducking swiftly the last swordsman's blade flew a few inches off his back, again the northmen swung but Tywin got his sword above his head just in time to block the over hand strike.

Searing pain shot up his side, lancing through his ribs and heart and arm all at the same time in one raging ball of fire. Screaming to the heavens he back kicked the archer, his boot smashing his tiny button nose in a bloody pulp in the centre of his face. The archer crumbled in a spray of blood but left the three arrows sticking deep into Tywin's side. Adrenaline surged through his system just as the swordsman lashed out again, Tywin ducked, and ducked again, blocked, side stepped, parried, ducked until finally he saw his opening through the haze of pain. Smashing the hard cast iron pommel into the northman's wrist he heard the bones crack a small cry of pain leaping from the moustachioed mouth of the northern soldier. Unable to grip his sword it fell to the floor, Tywin ducked and lunged, placing an arm and his head through the man’s legs before lifting with all his strength. The sentry flew through the air, over the wall with a quick squeal before landing in a deep furrow of snow beside the portcullis.

'RAISE THE CULLIS!' he ordered as Rickard ran over to him. The three arrows dripped with blood that steamed in the cold air as soon as it left the warm core of his body. 

'Can you fight?' Tywin nodded as he saw two soldiers hurriedly raise the portcullis.

'I'd rather have them out.'

'I'd wait...I'm no apothecary...'

'Waiting won't make it hurt less will it!'

'No.' admitted Rickard tenderly wrapping his hand around the three elm wood shafts. 'Ready laddy?' Tywin nodded. 'Deep breath!' the instant he filled his lungs Rickard pulled. A choked cry stumbled from his mouth as pain surged through his entire body; it dulled everything, the sounds, the smells of the cold and the blood.

'Thank you captain. FORM UP RANKS!' he bellowed as his soldiers scuttled through the slightly raised cast iron cullis. Jumping down the wooden stairs that lead to the inner city Tywin stood at the head of his men as they formed up behind him, Rickard joined him at his side. 'Rickard hold the cullis!'

'Aye sir.' he said without hesitation. He was the old veteran; he knew...this was war you obeyed. You didn't obey you died. As hundreds of his soldiers ran in behind him the young man he'd met on the ice stood beside him, long spear and cast iron shield in his hand. All colour had drained from his face, blood covered his spear head.

'You're first kill son?' asked Tywin staring down the street.

'Yes ma'lord...' he breathed. He felt the lad’s eyes on him but didn't look at the boy. 

'You'll remember that man’s face for the rest of your day’s boy...stay beside me, I'll try to keep you safe.'

'Thank you ma'lord...same to you.' he forced a smile. Tywin smiled to the tall boy just as some colour started to return to his cheeks.

'ANY RAPERS, PLUNDERERS OR CHILD MURDERERS WILL BE FLOGGED UNDER MY COMMAND! FORWARD! MARCH!' he bellowed starting to slowly jog forward his sword in hand. The rhythmic thrump, thrump, thrump of the soldier’s boots on the hard compacted snow was so far the only noise in the whole city. The main street was huge and the houses either side were deserted, their doors and windows flung open haphazardly. Huge circular dents covered the snow from the mammoth's heavy footprints, but under them he saw human boot prints...all heading in the same direction, but they were small...footprints of women and children. Few of men but those few that were had smaller circular holes close to them from their walking staffs. Before he knew it they'd reached a cross roads. A lane of tall gray houses with slate roofs and wooden gutters with carved gargoyles at their corners stood before them. The city was still silent...'Something's wrong...' he said to himself more than anyone else.

'What isit' ser?' the thin whisper of the boys voice seemed to echo down the empty street. 

'There isn't anyone here...all the footprints in the snow are of women, children and old men heading towards the keep. They knew we were coming...if they knew then...EVERYONE BACK IT'S A TRAP!' A distant scream shot between his commands as the cullis fell into the snow cutting off the rest of his soldiers. Cries shot out from all sides as northmen appeared from small hidden streets between the houses. Arrows flew from behind him as archers sprung from the tall gray buildings roofs and windows. 'SHIELDS UP!' shouted Tywin pressing his body against the wall of the nearest house. Looking down the street northmen shot from behind the houses killing his men by the cullis. The soldiers formed a large circle with their shields raised over their heads. Arrows bouncing off them from all sides as archers appeared on the roofs of the long central street they'd just walked down. A wooden window cover beside Tywin flew open, a northern archer holding his carved bow popped out the space with his arrow aimed at the face of the young soldier as he cowered in the middle of the shield ring.

Pulling his sword down his bow smashed, arrow got cut in half and his hand fell from his wrist all in just a second. As he screamed Tywin spun in front of the window, grabbed him by the bloody stump and pulled him from the window. As he crawled along the hard white ground he reached for a dirk in his boot with his good hand. Finding his feet he lunged clumsily. It was a simple kill. He just side stepped the knife and slammed the point of his sword through his chest. Blood flew from the man's mouth as Tywin pushed the blade ever deeper into his chest, blood sliding down his blade, dripping onto the pristine white ground. 'CHARGE!' a voice yelled around him. Every archer dropped their bows and picked up weapons as the main bulk of their forces rounded the corners of the cross roads. Northmen sprinted towards his small circle of soldiers like wild animals, war paint covering their faces in stark contrast to their pale white skin. Every weapon imaginable was in their hands. Swords, axes, dirks, climbing spikes, scythes, sickles, spears.

'FALL BACK!' Tywin yelled pushing the northman's body from his sword. His men stood and sprinted down the street, some slipping on the hard snow. As he passed a fallen soldier Tywin grabbed the back of his boiled leather vest and hauled him to his feet. Pushing him in front of him. He could hear the northerners footsteps close behind him. With a roar he spun. Sword swinging through the air. A northmen holding a sickle fell as he cut his legs from under him. A scythe sliced down towards him. Blocking the blade he parried but another northern sword blocked his attack. A sickle flew towards him.

'SER!' a shout behind him and a spear shaft caught the curved blade pulling it downwards before the boy lunged. The spear head being driven down into the man’s gut. Kicking the scythe wielder in the fork of his legs the man crumbled, Tywin drew his dirk from the sheath on the small of his back and stabbed the sword holder in the eye. Both fell but a dozen more replaced them.

'RUN BOY!' shouted Tywin parrying a blow from a soldier with a double handed axe. Slicing through his neck the man’s blood fell like a great water fall onto the white ground. Grabbing the axe before he fell Tywin threw the huge weapon at a soldier that was about to charge at the boy.

'I said I'd protect you ma'lord! I keep my words!' his spear shot forward into a man’s groin. Ducking a spear strike Tywin grabbed its shaft pulling it free from its owner’s hands before spinning it around in his hand and digging its leaf shaped blade into the northman’s neck. Soldiers fought northmen all around him now, the portcullis was still closed as northmen held the crank. Standing back to back with the young soldier with a spear in one hand and his sword in the other he cut down any northmen that came within striking distance. The ringing of steel hitting steel crushed his ear drums into submission as his men were slaughtered around him. All discipline had been crushed by the northman's ambush, he couldn't blame them, they were boys. Not soldiers. 

'RUN DAMN YOU!' he yelled blocking another spear attack sending the blade digging into the ground. Running his sword up the wooden shaft the man lifted his hands from the weapon, saving them from being cut off. 'CLIMB THE WALL AND GET BACK TO THE SHIPS! THAT'S AN ORDER!' he yelled shoving his spear into the mans chest. 

'MA'LORD!' jumping in front of him a blade shot through his chest, stopping inches off Tywin's face. His body fell from the air with a hard thump, blood pouring out onto the pink ground. 

'NOOOO!' Tywin screamed lunging forward at his killer. A blade sliced his calf sending him down to one knee but still he fought. Swinging around with his spear held out, the blade slicing the man's throat. Clambering back to his feet a hard foot shot from in front of him, knocking his sword from his hand. Taking his spear in both hands he just had time to block a sword strike. Jumping back he lunged at the beast of a man that had killed the boy; he blocked the first attack but stumbled over his own feet. Swinging the long weapon over his head with a single hand the shaft collided with his sword blade, knocking it into his face. The man screamed for just a moment before Tywin thrust the blade through his ear. A small pause cut the chaos. Pain shot through his leg and side, breaths came hard and ragged, wincing against the shine from the bright ground as the sun appeared from a hole in the clouds. 

He was surrounded, completely. Only a few sword strikes could be heard in the distance, they'd lost; even his men were being killed beyond the cullis. Blood and snow...that's all there is. Taking stance he held his spear ready. The sun disappeared and a man behind him stepped forward. Spinning around he raised the spear above his head just in time. A man behind him lunged out with his sword, Tywin side stepped and pulled his first attacker forward, the sword blade impaling him. Ducking a scythe swipe he kicked out before blocking an axe strike. A dirk sliced his shoulder. Screaming in pain he once again swung the long weapon around his head giving him room to move, any that were hit by the shaft were left stunned, easy kills as he stopped and took the offensive. Slashing, thrusting, cutting, slicing, batting, kicking, punching. All whilst blocking and dodging attacks from all sides, bodies littered the ground around him, some dead others just injured, but still they kept coming. 

After what seemed like three days he fell to a knee, breathing like a tired dog, shaft of his spear sticky with the mixture of blood and sweat. The northmen stood around him in a huge circle, watching him, panting just as hard as he was. 'Come on!' he urged thrashing his spear against the pink ground. 'Come on kill me!' he yelled. 'COME ON! KILL ME!' KILL ME!' he bellowed. A man shot out at him, axe raised. Spinning on his knees he raised his spear, the axe sliced through the wood like it was nothing before a hard boot hit him in the face. Falling to the ground Tywin stared up at the sky. The man smiled and raised his axe above his head. Picking up the splinted shaft he lunged out, sticking it in his neck. The northman gargled blood, dropped his axe and fell backwards. Climbing to his knees he picked up the bladed end and sat ready. 

A young girl stepped forward, blue war paint covering half of her pale face, red hair tied into a long braid. 'Would you like to die on your feet?' she asked softly. Her voice was so soft, so sweet. Tywin laughed. 

'It doesn't matter! Dead's dead.' lunging forward, purposefully lazily, the girl swiped her sword down knocking both shafts from his hand too easily. The cold steel kiss of his sword rested on his neck. This is it...finally. Closing his eyes he felt her blade leave his neck.

'STOP!' boomed a deep powerful voice. Opening his eyes he girl stood in front of him with her sword hovering over her shoulder, a colossal man stood beside her, behind him a slightly less colossal man with huge thick arms and a deep black beard holding two hammers in his hand. The one closest to him had a plain shaven face with flinty gray eyes under his blood spattered face. A starsteel blade hanging in his hands. 'Take him!' 

'My lord?' said the girl never taking her eyes off Tywin. 

'You heard.' he huge man with the beard shoved the handle of one of his hammers through his belt as he stepped forward, his huge fist flew at Tywin. This'll hurt when I wake up. That was his last thought.  

The End

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