NaNo has been going really slowly for me, and I’ve lost interest in working on it at the moment, hence this story, which is the first in a short series. Hopefully I can pick things up in the next couple days.
With a twang, the rope snapped. Fryca cursed. “The bloody thing broke again. We’ll need another day or two to reset.”
Ellgis patted her on the shoulder. “It’s nothing, we’ll have it sorted out soon enough.”
“Nothing? Nothing? How can you say that! We’ve got those damn Wheelies breathing down our necks, and if this doesn’t work, they’re going to capture us.”
“We have enough. This one doesn’t matter that much.”
“But it does! If we’ve trapped them on the path through the swamp, this will sweep them into the murk and bury them there.”
Ellgis looked out over the path, where dead logs and hidden trips and pressured stones covered the ground. If the device worked, it was supposed to fire branches as spears, swing dead logs across the path, and then drop mud on those in the water. He was sure the Knights of the Broken Wheel would have never seen something like this before. And they still wouldn’t have if they didn’t get the counterweight working. Three times they had tried to attach it, but each time the ropes had failed.
They’d used stronger weaves, and more of them, but each time the massive basket of stones failed. And with the scouts reporting that the Wheelies and their soldiers were little more than a day away, if this contraption didn’t work, well, the village would have to flee deeper into the swamp. And that meant losing all of the inventions they had created.
To Ellgis, the machines were more important than the villagers. People could be replaced. Years of experiments could not. Fryca felt the same way, and so the two of them were out here, late at night, trying to fix that blasted basket. If they saved the rest of the villagers as a result, well and good.
They fumbled in the dark for some time, but without enough light to see, they became more and more frustrated, until Fryca threw her lantern into the swamp and stormed off. Ellgis followed, and the two went home.
The next morning they resumed their work, but they found the basket of stones had sunk into the swamp, and they had to spend many an hour digging it out of the muck. By the time they were ready to lift it into the air again, the scouts had fled back into the village, and the Knights of the Broken Wheel were at the edge of the swamp. This would be a trying time.