Sir Gerard de Breze smiled to himself as he watched his tower grow.
It was one of six siege towers that were being built to pierce the proud white walls of Montalban, which boasted of having never fallen to a siege, and Sir Gerard liked to think it was the tallest of them all. In another few days, it would be ready for the attack, and those walls that had never been pierced would fall to him and his fellows.
Gerard patted the head of his stallion. He planned to ride it up the tower, and lead the charge that would claim this city that had never been claimed. He shut his eyes and imagined himself, his horse leaping over the walls, and a smile came unbidden to his face…
His musings were interrupted by a whistling sound as the Montalbanese forces once again sent a boulder hurtling towards the Leonais encampment. It struck the ground with thud, and sent men scurrying. Gerard noted with displeasure that his men had stopped working on their tower, and were instead desperately dashing around.
“Cowards! Filthy cowards!” he declared, raising his riding crop. “Are you as cowardly as those wretches behind those walls? You, proper Leonais? Things that scurry beneath their shells, like little snails?” He stared at them contemptuously. “Perhaps you’d rather join them, eh? Them that are hiding like cowards behind their walls?”
The men didn’t seem to know what to think about that, but stared at him, quietly and sullenly. It wasn’t quite the response Gerard had hoped for, though he noticed that several seemed to hold their hammers and spikes with a new sense of purpose. “Of course, we don’t, sir,” said the old man, stepping out of the crowd. “Of course, we don’t.” He clapped his hands together. “It’s just that when those Night-loving cowards in Montalban throw down those stones, well, some of us get startled, and the rest of us scramble to make sure that the tower don’t take a hit.”
Gerard frowned to himself. The old man’s words were good, on the surface, but it didn’t take a cunning man to see that the men seemed to be lowering their gear as he spoke. Probably the old fellow was serving as a distraction to give the slackers time to catch up. It seemed the sort of thing the man would do.
The old man had been an irritant all the way to Montalban. He had no idea how he’d had once again wound up a major part of the siege working crew, but once again, the fellow had done it. Still--once again, he was too useful to get rid of. The man made some mention of a few obscure battles during the war against Lord Shaddad where he’d picked up the trade--and Gerard was willing to grant there was some truth in his tales. He was, at the very least, proving most useful--one of the many reasons Gerard’s tower was taller than all the rest, albeit a minor one.
“Very well,” said Gerard, thrusting out his chest, as he tucked his riding crop on his saddle. “But get to work. I will not let those men assigned to me slacken in their efforts. We will pierce the white walls of Montalban, so that they run red with blood!” He drew his sword dramatically, and gestured to them. “And I swear--I will be the first one there! The first--but not the last!” Then, sheathing his blade, he rode off.
Sir Gautier de Fleur Rouge was waiting for him in the armiger’s tent when he arrived, sipping a bit of wine. “Down to the towers again?” he said to Gerard. “You know, that is commoner work. Leave them to it. It’ll be done whether you are there thrice a day, or twice a week, so why you choose the first option is a mystery to me.”
Gerard sat down and poured himself a cup. “I burn to see the Holy cause done, Sir Gautier. And I think knowing I burn makes the men burn as well.” He sipped his drink. “By the way, the Montalbanese sent another rock at us. I think it may have killed a man or two.”
Gautier clicked his tongue. “Those bastards. Do they realize how inconvenient that is for us?”
“You’d think so, but apparently not,” said Gerard with a sigh.