Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Siege of the White Mountain; Vol. 2: Fields Running Red--Part 16

Gerard de Breze wheeled his horse around, and screamed at the men. “You cowards! You filthy cowards! Put out these fires! Put them out I say!”

The men stared at him and the flames but refused to move. “Sir,” said one, “sir, there isn’t enough water…”

“Not enough water?” the armiger shouted. “Then use your hands, your bodies, anything to smother the flames! You are replaceable--but those towers--if we lose them, then it’s weeks of effort wasted…” At that moment a loud crash was heard. Gerard turned to see the tower he had worked on for so long, that tall and proud thing come crashing to the ground.

Gerard gave a scream, and then rode over to the towers, only for the heat to make his horse shy. “Onwards! Onwards, you brute!” he shouted, digging his spurs into the animal’s flanks. “It’s only fire!” The horse whinnied, struggling at his commands, inching forward, and then shying back. Frustrated, Gerard raised his fist towards Montalban’s walls. “You--cowards! Cowards! Fighting us with this unearthly magic! It is unnatural! Unnatural and--” Gerard gave a cry as he felt a sharp pain in his stomach. As his hold on the reins slackened, the horse gave a neigh, and bolted, running as far from the flames as it could.

Gerard tried desperately to regain control, as the horse moved in blind panic, but he felt light-headed, and the pain in his stomach was growing worse. Putting his hand to it, he felt something wet--looking down, he saw that some… red liquid was now covering it.

At which point, his horse reared, and Gerard was thrown from his seat.

He landed in a soft, stinking heap that seemed halfway between solid and liquid, which he eventually realized was the midden. Gerard gave a cry, but no one seemed to hear him. Indeed, no one seemed to be near him at all. He gave another cry and tried to rise, but his legs didn’t seem to quite work, and so he wound up squirming desperately in that stinking heap, unable to get out of it.

The indignity struck the armiger like a blow. This can’t happen! Not to me! I have a destiny! I can’t die like this! Like some… pathetic… fool without a drop of armiger blood in his veins!

It was his last coherent thought. But not his last thought, which was a vague and wavering memory of watching his father ride through the fields, and his father letting him give the horse an apple afterwards.

And then there was nothing.

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