The rider weaved between swinging swords as he pulled another javelin out from the saddlebags hanging from his horse. He brought his arm back and lined up his target. His eyes, squinting in the sunlight, calculated the range to a man holding a spear and wearing Endry colors. This Endrian was no doubt a Knight by the armor he wore. He was distracted, hunched over a fallen soldier.
With a grunt, he heaved the javelin into the air. It soared, piercing the sky directly toward the Knight. A grin slid across the riders face as his projectile flew truly. There would be one more dead Endrian on the battlefield in just a moment; or so he thought. With what seemed like supernatural speed, the Knight drew his fallen comrades sword.
The rider's eyes widened. It was like no other blade he had ever set his sights upon. It was black as night, yet shone like a blue gem in sunlight; to look into it was as if to peer into the unfathomable expanse of space. He followed its arch through the sky as it severed his javelin in two. Before he could take his mind off the shadowed steel, he felt the warm flow of blood seeping beneath his leather cuirass. In his mesmerized state, he hadn't noticed that the spear his target was holding, had been thrown toward him and hit its mark. He looked to his right to see the wooden shaft protruding from his shoulder.
Luke watched as Lorick's rider leaned back, his spear jutting from the man's shoulder.
As the rider fell backward onto his horse, he pulled on the reins, making the steed slow to walking just a few feet from where Melchior had fallen.
“How fortuitous.” Luke said as he heaved Melchior's unconscious body onto his shoulder and trod toward the pacing steed. “Not a bad throw.” He said to the man on the horse, taking grasp of his waist and pulling him from the saddle. “Though I believe mine was better.” The man crumpled to the ground with a grunt and continued moaning in lament as Luke wrestled Melchior onto the horse's rump.
When he looked back at the wounded soldier, he saw his eyes open once again; confused and mangled words leaving his lips. Luke sighed and turned toward the man. He took the spear by the shaft and pulled it from the man's shoulder, then stuck his foot beneath him, rolling him on to his front. He then placed the spear's tip on the nape of the neck. “An honorable death.” He said, before putting his weight on the shaft and driving the spearhead through the man's spine. With a gurgle, it was over. Luke removed the spear and threw it aside before mounting up and cautiously making his way toward the edge of the battlefield.
It was from the corner of his eye that Les made out the dark shape on the back of one of Lorick's horses, curiously reined by a young Endrian. Les recognized him. It was Luke, General Hurst's squire turned Knight. They hadn't spoken many times, but if anyone had potential among Stahll's entourage, it was this young man. With a violent tug, he pulled his tired horse in the direction Luke was riding in and tried to force out what little energy was left in her. Luckily the young man was riding slowly to keep his load from falling off, and so it didn't take too long for Les to catch up. Though with every few strides, he looked over his shoulder in anticipation of the approaching forces.
“Hold your horse!” Les growled.
Luke turned. His hair, now unbound, was blond shag and hung down to a square jawline.
Les saw blue eyes blazing behind a mess of bangs as the boy turned to his call but did not slow. He soon noticed that in his hand was Melchior's sword. There was no doubt now that the man bobbing just behind the saddle was indeed his friend and leader. Though he did not stop, neither did he act in hostility, and so Les moved in closer.
Luke smiled. “I remember you. You are the General of the Irregulars are you not?”
“I'm afraid not Luke, that was what you were meant to believe. Stahll thought Melchior was too young to be a general, and did not want it to be public knowledge that such a youth was the leader of his mercenaries. I am, though, second in command. It turns out, the man on your horse is my superior.”
Luke's face flashed with recognition, and he looked to the sky in contemplation of recent events.
“Tell me, is he dead?” Les asked, anxiety audible in his voice.
“No, he still lives.”
“Do you want ransom?”
“To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what I want. I'm not sure where I am to go. The future, is shrouded. My allegiance is open, for Endry is lost to the Empire and so I have lost my home. When I return, a man not from this land will own the throne.”
“How did you come across Melchior?”
“Don't tell me you bested him?” Les asked, in disbelief.
Luke laughed. “No, on the contrary. He was an impossible opponent. I was outmatched, and he disengaged from me to put this blade through Stahll's neck.” He raised the dark sword with a tight grip. “I tried to keep up with him, but he was too quick, and I watched him deliver the single and final blow. He even put one gash across Yvon's face before the wretch was struck in the back by an arrow; Heaven knows where that shot came from.
“Rook no doubt.” Les said beneath his breath.
“Nothing.” Les turned to look over his shoulder, this time his anxiety had reason to be bursting through his chest, for behind them rode the leading edge of the Duke's Cavalry.
“I see time has run out.” Luke said as he too noticed the riders on the hilltop, and before him in the low ground, he saw the calamity that was the riverside battlefield. “And below, the remnants of both our forces have dwindled to nearly nothing.”
Les looked at the men below, who had destroyed each other to the point of having enough of it. Those still alive wandered through the fallen looking for survivors or those wounded who may yet live under care. A glint caught his eye, and his attention was once again brought to Melchior's sword. “That's it.” He said.
“What's it?” Luke asked.
“There is only one way.”
“I don't understand.”
“You hold in your hand the key to our survival, our mutual salvation.”
“I beg your forgiveness, I am still without a clue as to what you are trying to say.”
“We must rally our forces, under the banner of the Blackguard Brigade, under that sword, we can succeed in joining what is left and buying us enough time.”
“Enough time for what?”
Les locked eyes with the young Knight. “For those who survive to escape the Duke's intent.”
“To wipe us out.” Luke said in realization.
Les nodded. “He has no other want than to see the Blackguard Brigade and every last Endrian combatant beneath a bloodied blade.”
Luke once again looked to the blue sky and sighed. “Then we should aim to disappoint him.”