24

Jan

by thefourpartland

The sixteenth installment of a 30k word short story set in The Four Part Land. It takes place 400 years in the past from the time of Tarranau and Chloddio, and details the collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun.

Several minutes passed, and then Rhyfelwyr pulled the two soldiers with him to the top of the mound, lying flat on their stomach so they could see the Lianese patrol. There were ten men, two standing guard, sitting down and having a light meal, their midday pause before the end of the patrol. Presumably, the Lianese forces had scouted the disposition of the central arm of Glanhaol Fflamboethi, and were returning with that information, in which case it was even more imperative that they be slain.

“Prepare yourselves, should be any minute now.”

“What are we waiting for?” Rhocas asked again, nerves showing in his voice.

“Quite down and wait, and just follow me in.” Taflen nodded at that, but Rhocas had a slightly wild look in his eyes, a prey animal who has just seen a predator. Rhyfelwyr sighed, placing his hand on the recruit’s shoulder.

Llofruddiwr burst up from the ground not five yards from the campsite, his two favourite longknives in his grasp. A quick slash with one cut the throat of the picket he was standing near, and he charged into the mass of Lianese soldiers, his blades flickering from left to right, catching incoming thrusts and deflecting them aside as the Veryan soldier tore through the camp at a full sprint, wounding several soldiers and killing two. Those still standing made to follow, grabbing their gear and chasing after Llof, who appeared to flee, directly towards where Rhy was waiting. As the Lianese soldiers burst into a run, Gwyth and Locsyn slammed into them from either side. Gwyth’s heavy shield sent one soldier flying into another, knocking both down into a tangle on the ground, while Locsyn feinted a shield slam, pulling up at the last moment to deliver a short stabbing blow with his sword underneath the rim of the shield, ripping through the leathers over his opponent’s thigh.

Rhyfelwyr hoisted Rhocas up, and the three soldiers sprinted at full speed to join the battle, Llofruddiwr turning to join them. A dagger flew over Rhocas’ shoulder, and the young man turned his head back in fear, but it was Llof’s throw, and the dagger protruded from the thin collar armour of the leading pursuers. Gwyth and Locsyn were sore pressed now, facing two against six Lianese. Several of the Lianese had been wounded, and discomfited as they were by the strange tactics of their opponents, they had not managed to take full advantage of their weight of numbers until moments ago, and then the remaining four Veryan soldiers arrived to join the battle, evening the field once more.

Llofruddiwr danced around the outside, lunging in with lightning fast thrusts, always hunting for an opening in the guard of his enemy. With quick stabbing motions, he would leap around one of the other Veryan soldiers, strike, and then be back out of range before the counter could even begin. Gwyth stood as a wall, facing off against two enemies and laughing while battering their attacks aside through sheer size and brute force, his countering blows nearly driving foes to their knees as they sought to catch the force on their shield or mace.

Locsyn fought in the more traditional style of a Veryan soldier, round shield held high in front of the face, one-handed sword stabbing out from beneath it to strike or catch a blow. He was using all the years of combat to his best advantage though, and a quick lunge sent a knee crushing into a Lianese groin, staggering his foe and making the follow on attack easy. Rhyfelwyr arrived in the fight with a sideways strike towards the kneecaps of his enemy, and when the sword swept down to intervene, his shield’s edge snapped up and crashed into the helmet, knocking the Lianese soldier backwards and almost off of his feet. Rhyfelwyr pressed the attack, but a thrust from the staggering soldier bounced off the edge of his shield and caught Rhy across the thigh, leaving a deep red gash that began to bleed. Backing away with his shield held to protect his wounded lead leg, the sergeant was forced to let his opponent recover.

Taflen moved into battle with precise form, each strike a cut taken exactly from the training regimens of the Veryan army. That was not to say that he was predictable, for each cut may have been straight from the book, but they followed one another in such a vast profusion that his opponent appeared almost stunned by the rapid strikes. Taflen had left his right flank for Rhocas to cover, for that was the recruit’s position, but Rhocas hung back, his sword arm low and his shield held high, an entirely defensive posture. Seeing the opening, a Lianese soldier charged into the side of Taflen, sending the historian sprawling and bringing his mace down. Taflen’s shield came up to block the strike, but the force of the blow cracked the shield in the middle, and he knew he could not survive another such attack. Rhy cried out and sought to lunge towards his downed squadmate, but the wound in his leg took the speed from him, and he knew he would arrive too slow to save Taflen.

The strike that would finish Taflen began to descend, and tears sprung to Rhyfelwyr’s eyes, for he had known Taflen many a year, the two men growing old and surviving many battles together. He had always worried that one of his squad would die in battle, but he had been blessed that he and these other four had been able to keep one another hale for so long. It appeared now, in this place and after all this time, that Rhy would lose one of his friends.

Comments

  1. Adam Byatt on 01.25.2011

    Great description of the battle: showing what’s happening without requisite gore. But Rhyf can’t be allowed to die.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  2. The Four Part Land on 01.26.2011

    *Grins* I had fun with this one. And that’s all the hint you’ll get.

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