SEIGE - Elias Simpson
The night was cold and wet. The sea sprayed over the ship and onto the poor souls who drew this shift on deck.
“I’m gonna drown standing up!” mumbled one sailor.
“Aye, three weeks at sea, and all we get is a cracker and this to quench us!” agreed another sailor, “I’d rather take my chances with the sharks than this!”
“At least you’re not in Amerulia fighting drakes,” said a lofty voice. both sailor looked up at this unseen voice.
He was leaning on the railing of the quarterdeck, a strand of his wet hair ran down his nose and, though he looked no better than any of the sailors, had a air of importance around him.
“At least they get some glory!” argued the first sailor, “all we get is lice and scurvy, if we’re lucky! WAVE!” The crew braced themselves as a wave larger than the ship broke over the bow.
The figure straightened on the railing and looked towards the bow of the ship, “Rildoon!” he shouted up to the crows nest, “look ahead what do you see.” There was a heavy silence as the rest of the crew stopped and looked ahead, all they could see was choppy waters, rain, and waves. Endless waves.
The festival was in full swing. People were dancing, laughing, drinking, eating. The entire city of Shipwragos was in uproar for this public holiday. One young man, sat in a cart rolling through the city, he was sitting along with almost dozen other men, all covered in muck, and grim, wounds and scars. The city streets cleared before them, eyes away, but the young man knew they were watching, they always watched.
“Jarl,” saluted the young man, “I’ve news from the front, the Drakes want to end the war.”
“Really?” questioned Jarl Balgrof the Greater, “this is momentous! what made them want to end the war?”
“Sir,” Said the young man, “the Tark Watchers have taken the fight into the caverns, we’ve slain the Oath Maker.”
“A blessing from above! I’ll have a full report later, but for now we must celebrate!” The Jarl waved for his courier to come over to him. “Prepare for me to address the people, they must know the news!”
They courier nodded his head in agreement and turned to one of the doorways behind where the Jarl sat. He got up and said, “ Thank you Barrett, go enjoy the festivities, drink, eat, be merry,” he leaned in, “find yourself a girl yeah? You’ve been looking so down lately.”
Barrett looked up and chuckled at the Jarl, “Thanks, but no, I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure? I could set you up with a nice girl!”
“No, really I’m fine.”
“Suit yourself, you’re dismissed,” the Jarl walked out of the main hall, leaving Barrett to his thoughts in the Great Hall. He walked down the aisles of the long cedar tables, running his hand upon their polished surface, thinking of the history that ran through their wooded veins.
The air was clouded with noise, the air rang with laughter, love, and life. Barrett sat in the barracks next to the headquarters of the Tark Watchers. He thought of the last time he was here, the last time he was by himself, resting. His mind came up blank, he was either up in Amerulia or watching the Tark in their cesshole of a land. He sighed, no longer was there war against the Drakes to the north, the city would become lax in its vigilance. The city had been founded from violence, the first stranded settlers came in desperation from drake torn Amerulia, the founders had been plagued with strife. Now they had no strife, no conflict. He laid back on his bed, better to sleep for the coming days.
Fredrich woke on the shore, his hair was plastered to his face and nose. He picked his head up from the ground and looked around. He had landed on a beach, the grainy sand dug into his hands and body. The world spun, he fell back down, weary from the waves and the water, he closed his eyes as shapes appeared over him.
Barrett awoke from a deep slumber. He started out of his bed, but stopped. Something was wrong, something was off about the city. He looked out of his window, the sun was just starting to rise. He got out of bed.
The Jarl had slept late, the celebration of the past week had left him weary, and still a little buzzed. The night before was wild and a complete mystery to himself. He thought to himself, trying to recall the night of revelry, but not one thing besides his pounding skull was left of the night before. He called for his attendants, “Herman, what happened last night?” he asked while leaning against the wall.
“Sir, you got drunk, very drunk.”
“Did I say anything I’m going to regret? Did I pardon the Klarence twins again?”
“No sir, not that I can recall, but you may have said something to Barrett privately.”
“I spoke with him privately? I’m sure I didn’t say anything bad to him.”
“He stormed off looking mad sir, and mad Tark Watchers are never good.”
“Shit,” the Jarl muttered, “leave me, I have important business to attend to.”
Barrett stood on the peak of Uhst, the lost mountain. He stood on the ruins of the first Tark Watchers watchtower. On this peak, those first Watchers lost their lives to the Tark chief, Ulok the Flange. Barrett stood on the final resting of the first Tark, Rildoon the Iron Eye, he was one of the founder who were shipwrecked, along with Fredrich the Witch and Lizzor the Grizzled. Barrett sat before his tomb, watching the east for the Tark, like his forefathers.
“Rildoon! You’re alive!” shouted Fredrich, “I’m glad to see you friend.”
“You as well, Fredrich,” replied Rildoon, “I have to say, you look surprisingly well for a man who’s nearly been drowned!” they both chuckled and looked inland, where a few more survivors had started to gather around a large rock in the middle of the miniature peninsula they had crashed or drifted onto.
“Men,” shouted a older, gruff looking man with salt and pepper hair, “we’ve much work to do, and little time before nightfall,” he paused as he saw Fredrich and Rildoon walk up, “Ah, Mr. Fredrich, Rildoon, glad you could make it, I’ve started gathering men into parties to explore further inland for food and supplies.” He looked towards the sparse forest and plains and also the slow rising peak of a distant mount.
“We should make for the mountain,” said the man, this was greeted with mutters of agreement from the sailors.
“I agree,” said Fredrich giving the man a confused look, “what was your name again, Sir?”
The City Guard had been preparing for days. Barrett the Vigilant had rode back to the city two weeks after he had left. “I heard he fought off an entire tribe of Tark by himself,” whispered one recruit as he was preparing his armor.
“I heard that he walked into the Hollow itself and killed the Flange himself for what they did to his father,” said another, “I heard he even got far enough into the citadel to desecrate the tomb of the Witch for the blessing he gave to the Tark.”
“No, not even Lizzor himself could do that you idiot.” retorted a more experienced guardsmen, “even if Barrett did do that, he would never recover his sanity, the Hollow does things to people.”
“I heard that Lizzor gave him his blessing, that he rode back bathed in golden light.” argued a third recruit, “If not how is he still alive?” the others murmured in agreement.
The older guard sighed into his hand, “he had a horse, they didn’t, moron.”
“Where'd he keep it?” asked another.
“Shut up, all of you, get back to work.”
“Whatever,” they scoffed and went back to preparing for the defense of the city.
“What are our defenses looking like?” asked Barrett.
“Not good,” said the Jarl, “most of out army was up north are only just now leaving Amerulia. Even if we told them to get down here as quickly they would get here in two or three weeks.”
“What of the Southern Dukes? They’re closer than Amerulia!” questioned Barrett, his voice tense and strained. His armor was worn and I’ll fitting, he had scrapes and bruises along his hands, arms, face. His eyes were bloodshot, his hair was wild and slicked with sweat.
“The Southern Dukes have their own problems, they’re still trying to stabilize their country after the revolution they had.” the Jarl was stone faced, the garrison of regular troops was laughable, all they had was the city guard and the few Tark Watchers that were left, for they had yet to replenish their loses. “We need to arm the populace in the few days we have, prepare for a siege, hold them off until the bulk of our army returns from Amerulia.”
“No,” retorted Barrett, “we need to get the population out while we still have time, the Tark don’t take prisoners,” he face darkened, “I know.”
The Jarl opened his mouth then closed it, he simple nodded in response. “Herman,” he yelled, “get Robert and get the people to start preparing for evacuation,” he looked at Barrett, “I hope you’re right.”
“So do I,” chuckled Barrett, “so do I.”
The streets were filled with people, the sea of heads was gradually moving west towards the southern docks. The was a dark cloud of suspense hanging by a thread over the crowds, Barrett fought to get to his father's old home through the streets. He leapt through the crowds passing carts with children hanging over the sides and people desperately trying to take their prosperity with them. “They’ve never had to do this,” Barrett thought, “not in a thousand year of existence, they don’t even know what's worth bringing.” he kept moving forward, instruction people where to go.
Barrett stood in front of his father’s former residence. The windows were dark, what was left of them was cut and broken. Someone had broken down the door and another had painted “Traitor” on the walls. He stepped inside. The inside was trashed. Furniture was splintered and chopped, books were flung about, loose pages were everywhere. Paintings were tossed off the wall and torn asunder. Barrett looked around, eyes unseeing, taking in the memories of his younger years, years that left too quickly. He went down the hall to his
Father’s bedroom, the bed was no longer there neither was the dressers on any furniture. Barrett’s eyes shifted over the room, scanning for any minute detail. Over by where his father’s bed used to be, he saw a loose floorboard. He smiled, simple.
Fredrich smiled, Lizzor was on the ground in front of him, sword sliding away on the wooden floor. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you Lizzor,” he laughed, “many men have made that mistake and failed.”
Lizzor stumbled to his feat, a trickle of blood from his mouth, “You’re a traitor,” he spat, “you killed Rildoon, you’re gonna kill all of us!” he rushed towards Fredrich. He threw a punch, Fredrich seemed to shift in his place, thought not making any motion to dodge at all. He retorted with a swift knee to Lizzor’s gut. Blood flew as he let out a ghastly wheeze.
“What kind of demon are you?” Muttered Lizzor, he was bent over on the ground, blood dripping from his mouth, dirt was smeared across his face and sweat was pouring from his brow. Fredrich strode closer, Lizzor could smell the starch on his pressed pants, where did he get the starch?
“Lizzor, you’ve helped build this civilization in the past year we’ve been here, you broken your back to save these men,” Fredrich paused and chuckled, “you never gave enough attention to the real threat.”
From the front of the Hall, there was a large boom, Lizzor looked over to see the large wooden doors splinter and crack.
“I didn’t want Rildoon to die,” Fredrich stopped, “he sadly knew too much,” he crouched next to Lizzor and whispered, “he knew my secret,” and disappeared into mist.
The door burst open, and in came dozens of Tark. The Tark snarled at Lizzor, their ashen skin pulled tight against their sunken features. Lizzor stood, pointed his sword towards the Tark, “come and get some, you savages,” He took a medallion he had around his neck and squeezed it, “Come and get some.”
Barrett squeezed the medallion around his neck as the Tark launched their attack. The town behind them was quiet, the air tense and thee soldiers ready to snap from the pressure. Then the Tark launched their first attacks. A wave of fire shot up from their lines towards the city. Barrett tensed as it hit the walls, it wasn’t enough to keep him on his feet as slabs of burning stone hit the walls and behind them. People went flying.
“Sir, they’re not in arrow range!”
“Sir, they’ve hit inside the city!”
“Sir! They’ve hit the Garden district!”
Barrett got up and looked calmly onward, this would not be the end. “Get everyone off the walls and preparing for the assault of the holes they just knocked in the walls, Go!”
“The Tark put too many holes in the wall, Sir. We the defenders were pushed back into the city,” reported Herman to the Jarl.
“Prepare my armor, I am not the ruler people think I am!” flared the Jarl, his eyes were alight with a green fire.
Dozens of Tark fell before his blade, Barrett was a one man army, empowered by the memories of his brethren who had fallen beside him. Fueled by hate, he held off the Tark from the breach he was assigned to single handedly until he was almost surrounded, then he fought his way out. But hate can only last so long.
“Sir, they’re breaching the doors!” shouted one soldier to Barrett as he was taking cover behind a table on its side. Barrett ran his hand along the smooth wood, feeling the history in its veins.
“Let them come, we will hold.” he stared at the carved ivory doors, given by Aremulia as a replacement a thousand years ago. The door gave a large boom.
“Men,” shouted Barrett, “these Demons will not take our glorious city, they will not slaughter our people, they will not break us! For Shipwragos!” He brandished his medallion, “For Lizzor the Great!” He and the rest of the soldiers, charged the doors as they flew open and the Tark charged in.
Lund speared the last Tark, black blood gurgling from its throat as the life left it’s black eyes. The Shipwragian army had arrived after almost two weeks of hard marches to save the city from siege. They had arrived too late. Lund walked up the steps of the Great Hall. He found the doors flat on the ground on the inside of the Hall and further inside he saw the remnants of the defenders. One in particular he noticed was still moving. “Hey, you, what happened here?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” the man replied weakly, “The damn Tark came and killed us all.”
“You’re still alive ain’t ya?”
“Shut up and get me help, would you?
Lund went over and picked up the man and asked, as something caught his eye, “Who’s that?” he said, pointing to a man surrounded by piles of Tark almost up to Lunds waist.
“That, my friend, is the embodiment of Lizzor himself, I’ll tell you, that guy was absolutely crazy,” The wounded man looked down, “Bravest man I ever knew.”
Lund looked over, he recognized him now, Barrett the Tark Watcher, slayer of the Oath Maker, watcher of the east, “As he was mine,” said Lund, “as he was mine.”