Chapter Fifty-Eight

June 30, 2012


6th of Haymonth


                Boian, Brianna and I discuss and decide to attack the group of ratmen.  We will take out as many as we can, moving closer with each attack, and the men will follow out of the tunnel once someone in the group cries out to alert of our presence.  Brianna moves to the right, while Boian and I go toward the left.  All four are easily dropped.
                We move a bit closer and take out one of the ratmen.  His companion who was standing next to him screams the alert to his comrades, and five of them charge toward Boian and myself.  As one of them approaches and swings at me, he loses his balance and spins around before falling down.  As he falls, the blade of his sword slices his femoral artery, and he rapidly bleeds out at my feet.  I fire at another and the bolt finds purchase, just a shuriken hits his back and he goes down.  Boian handily removes another, as I turn toward the ones who hung back to fire at us.  He goes down, and the other archer breaks into a charge at Boian.  The ratman madly swings his arms and bites at Boian, but misses with each attack. 
                About this time, a general ruckus is rising amongst the group, and our men start charging from the tunnel.  Brianna hides behind a tree, and randomly takes out some of the ratmen as they run by, exploding their heads with a well-placed clothesline maneuver.  A fierce battle ensues.  One by one, the ratmen fall.  At the end of the battle, we have lost seven of our men; however, none of this grouping of our enemy remain.  The knight with us sends his three wounded men, along with two others as guards, back through the tunnel to the safety of the town.  He asks for my orders, and I send him to guard the tunnel exit, whilst Boian, Brianna and I continue to carry out Ulric's orders, seeking out targets of opportunity.
                We move through the woods, and after about a hundred yards, we can hear the main battle raging in the direction of Reghin's walls.  I move to the edge of the woods to see how we are faring, and I see a melee of men and ratmen, horses and archers--a crude mélange of men fighting for their lives.  Off to my right, I hear movement, not so much from loud action as from a large group of quietly moving individuals in a larger group.  I return to Brianna and Boian and let them know what I've seen and heard.  We begin to move toward the sounds.
                After a few minutes, we come up to an area of the woods that is much less dense, but not quite a clearing.  We see ten ratmen in two well-organized lines, surrounding four other ratmen.  One of the four is huge with white fur, riding a large white rat, and another like him but slightly smaller.  The other two are females on foot, each wearing a strange turban and a belt with two wands and nothing else.
                As we begin to devise our plan, I notice that Boian's tattoo is glowing so brightly that its light is seeping through the leather of his glove and the cloth of his shirt and cloak.  He knows it is from one of the ones in the middle, but he cannot point to which one it is specifically.
                I fire at one of the wanded women, and she goes down.  Brianna tumbles into the fray, severely injuring the other wand-wielder.  The smaller of the two albinos steps up to her to attack, and the larger albino casts at her.  The injured female uses a wand to fire two magic missiles at Brianna, but I fire and kill her.  Brianna tumbles away from the center of the fray, and punches one of the sentries in the back of the head.  Boian charges up next to her, killing one of them. 
                The large albino starts to cast, and a lightning bolt slams into the ground by Brianna, but she manages to avoid the strike.  Two of the sentries run toward me, but I deftly step into a nearby shadow and load the special bolt with black fletching.  I hit him, and a blackness begins to spread out from the wound.  It reaches about halfway across his body and stops, then he unceremoniously falls from his mount.
                Brianna and Boian both attack the remaining mounted ratman, and efficiently end his miserable existence.  This leaves only the nine sentries and two rat mounts on the field.  We make quick work of them and stop to take a breath.  Boian kneels down for a moment, then looks up and says, "I have to go."  He bolts off as fast as he can in the direction of the main battle.
                Brianna and I look at one another and take off after him.  To gain speed, she picks me up and puts me on her back so I won't slow her down.  As we break from the woods, we see ratmen everywhere, including on the walls.  One of the siege towers is on the wall, and it is burning.  As we approach, we see it fall to the ground.  Just barely, we are able to see Sir Conner riding along beside the wall standing on his saddle.  He reaches up and grabs onto a merlin and swings up onto the top of the wall.  His horse disappears into a globe of blackness.  Next to the burning siege tower, we spot the flags of Zurwald and St. Cuthbert waving.
                Off to the side, we see a massive horde approaching the wall, flinging humans aside in their path.  There seems to be a convergence coming.
                Briggette takes a moment to heal up and surveys the battlefield.  The battering ram, though billowing smoke from its portals, is moving again toward the wall.  Behind the ram, she sees a group of our men whose mounts have been killed, and who now fight surrounded by the enemy.  She notifies Ulric, and they ride in that direction to help turn the tide of battle.  On the way there, Henrick rides up to them.
                "Those men need our help," Ulric explains his direction.
                "Of course," Henrick replies.
                "We have to stop that ram, too."
                "To them or to the ram first, my Lord?"
                "Them first," Ulric replies.  He turns to Gustav, "Keep that pennant up as high as you can."
                Right about then, just behind them, the ground begins to collapse, and people fall in--both friend and foe.  Flames pour out of the opening which stops about ten feet from the wall. 
                Ulric rides directly at the cluster of ratmen, screaming the glory of Zurwald as he goes.  He mows down several of them in the process.  The men follow him in, and many of them end ratmen; however, one of the ratmen gets the better of Gustav's horse, sinking in its teeth and ripping out the animal's intestines.  Gustav manages to land safely, but is now fighting on foot. 
                As they reach the center of the fight, they see Aethelred, Sandor and two knights we don't know standing over the bodies of several wounded, some possibly dead, of our men.  When Aethelred sees Briggette, he yells, "Cal is inside the ram!"
                They continue to fight this little knot of enemies, and once done, they make for the ram.  When they get there, they see a horse's carcass hanging from the back end of the structure.  Ulric and Briggette both dismount and enter the ram's housing.
                Inside, they see orcs and ratmen and zombies pushing the massive thing forward.  They catch the distinct odor of oil inside.  At the far end, they see Cal in single combat with several ratmen, despite his shinbone sticking out of his right leg.  Briggette gets to the center of the ram and turns the zombies, raising her holy symbol and calling upon the power of St. Cuthbert to destroy the enemies.  Nine of the ten of them turn to dust. 
                Ulric's authoritarian voice booms out, "We are ambassadors of St. Cuthbert!  Run for your lives!"  Three of the orcs immediately break and run, but two continue pushing.  The ratmen ignore the epithet and keep pushing the mammoth machine.
                Briggette makes her way to the end by Cal.  He has four ratmen on him, and he is fighting them with a lit torch.  She and Cal together kill the four with ease.
                Sir Sebastian makes his way to the back of the ram housing and climbs over Cal's horse to enter the structure.  He kills the first ratman pusher he finds, then moves on to the next.
                Cal and Briggette head for the exit, and Ulric yells, "Sebastian, get out of here!"  As we leave, Ulric tosses a bottle of alchemist’s fire into the midst and lights the thing up.
                "Ulric!"  They hear Sir Connor's voice from on high, "I need reinforcements on the wall!  And, there's that!"  He points far afield.
                Headed this way, they can see two large albino rats riding on other giant rats.  Between the two of them, they see a large snake, nearly thirty feet long.  The bigger of the two ratmen stops, and the snake continues to move forward.  It approaches Briggette and says,

                As we approach the grouping, now moving through smaller skirmishes, I hear Boian yell, "Gizli!  No matter what happens, if every human in this town dies, Briggette must not fall!!"  I know that there are higher forces at work here, some I know of and some I don't.
"Understood!" I reply.  We continue to make our way to the center of the field.

                Briggette, Ulric, Sebastian and Aethelred all charge the snake, but it goes straight for Briggette.  As it opens its mouth to snap at her, huge fangs protract from its mouth.  He doesn't manage to penetrate her armor, and her lance finds purchase and drives through its neck.  A bright light pulses forth from the impact, and the end of the lance comes out the back of her neck.  The impact tears the lance from her hand, but the snake falls over.  Cries of praise spring up from those who saw, as Briggette yells, "Did I kill your pet?"
Five ratmen and the smaller of the two albinos mounted on giant rats all charge toward Briggette.  Ulric meets one of them as if on the lists, and lands a solid blow with his lance.  Sebastian connects his axe with the skull of another, but doesn't quite bring the creature down.  One of the albinos rides directly toward Briggette, and as he approaches, a flaming sword forms out of his hand.  Rather than him hitting her, however, she is able to smite him and send him to meet his maker. 

As we continue the fight, there are suddenly giant hailstones raining down around us.  The painful downpour hurts, but their troops suffer as well, and two of them are killed.  Briggette charges on toward the remaining mounted albino, as does Ulric.  They both connect with stunning efficiency, but the beast still breathes.  Sebastian also charges it and adds a bit of damage to its tally.  We keep fighting back and forth until all of them in this party are killed.
Around this time, we hear horns in the background.  We arrive to the battle just as Ulric kills the final rat.

Baron Voda arrives on the battlefield at around that same time.  He discusses the situation with Ulric, and his men chase down stray stragglers who may have snuck off.  Men on the wall begin to chant Ulric's name, and he raises his sword to them.

We all ride back into the gate, whereupon Briggette is immediately sought out for her help.  She begins the work of healing the townsfolk she can, and we hole up safely within the walls.