3rd of Planting, 383 ONT, Eastern Battlements, Aderaid, Cainia.
“My Lord, we cannot hope to hold them much longer, you have served your uncle well, we must retreat” Sir Jaxen cried as a section of wall shuddered under the steady cannon fire from their enemies. Baron Harvey Forbes looked out at the assembled enemies below. They were mercenaries, The Order of the Black Arrow, and had brought maybe five hundred men to take Aderaid. He had done a worthy job keeping them at bay for the last two weeks, but now his foe held good firing position and had brought canons that would soon destroy his stone walls. He had maybe thirty fighting men left, it wouldn’t be long now. The Baron turned to his friend and loyal knight Sir Jaxen
“Elizabeth and the kids?” he asked
“They are with the reminder of the citizens, ready to make haste for Fruyhn Forest, from there they can attempt to get to Dragnye Hold, your father will know what to do” The walls shuttered again under the onslaught, the knight looked to his Baron “Sir, you should be with them, they only have ten men as escort surly…”
“If we go…” Harvey cut the knight off “… then these bastards will swarm the walls and overrun us before we can make the woods, that’s over a hundred people there, most on foot… no, have my soldiers load the last of the armaments in the catapults, I don’t care if we are throwing desks and beds at them, anything of weight have them loaded, all remaining crossbows pre-loaded and at the wall… we will throw everything we have at them for as long as we can, we buy our wives and children a shot at life… I will gladly pay that cost with my own… will you?” The knight’s chest swelled with pride as he stood a little straighter, he had mentored Baron Harvey since he was twelve and at this moment he could not be prouder of the man he had become, he put a hand on the Barons shoulder and looked him in the dark grey eyes
“You know I will Sir… you know I will” with the moment quickly passing Sir Jaxen turned and began to shout orders. The men jumped to hauling old dressers and filling pots with knives, forks, hot oil and even salted pork… whatever they could muster. The walls shuttered under the constant force of the cannon barrage, large chunks of granite began to fall away to the ground, the defenses of Aderaid had maybe hours left in it.
“Sir Jaxen, open the western gate, have the evacuees make all haste for Fruyhn!” The Baron yelled. The Western gate opened and the procession hurried out, muffled cries of children sounded as women and elderly clutched felling axes and tools to defend should the unfortunate come upon them; there were no ‘non-combatants’ in Aderaid these days, every person had held to the defense, and these stalwart people knew they were far from free of danger. “FIRE!” the Baron ordered his soldiers. The twang of crossbows rang in the air as the two large catapults released their payloads. The Baron ran down the battlements picking up a crossbow, firing it and tossing it aside looking for another loaded one. For maybe ten minutes they put up a fight felling two for every one that they killed before their ammunition ran out.
“Sir…” a solider ran forward “Riders circling on the northern bluff, they have noticed our people and are moving to intercept” Harvey ran with the young man to the Northern Wall to see for himself.
“Then Selwyn has truly turned away from us” he said, the last hope of life leaving him. He took a long deep breath and turned back to his ragged team of soldiers, of which he had maybe sixteen left “I had hoped that once our families were safe, we might take the last of the horses and make our escape my friends…” He said, ignoring the palisade that exploded ten feet behind him. “… This is not the fate that gods have chosen for us, there are maybe fifty horses that ride even now, and will surly reach our host before they make it to the safety of the forest” he saw the fear and despair set across him men, they were good boys and girls, they had served him well, and he had hoped he could have given them a chance… that was gone now. He took a deep breath, trying to remember the words of his cousin Reuben in times like these “Blessed are those who Sheppard the innocent, may it be known that the wings of Selwyn will take those who die for the noblest deeds onto her heavily thrown, and they shall want for nothing for evermore!” he quoted loudly “I don’t know about you… but that sounds pretty damn good to me, Doesn’t it?” there were a few assents from those surrounding him, he pushed forward with it, shouting to be heard over the din of cannons and muskets “WE HAVE BEEN GRANTED A GIFT, A FREE RIDE ON WINGS OF GOLD TO THE HEAVENS AND ALL WE MUST DO TO EARN THAT GIFT IS KILL THESE BASTARDS WHO DARE TO THREATEN OUR HOMES, OUR HEARTHS AND OUR LOVED ONES!” There was a stronger cry of resolve from his solders, again he pushed onwards “WE ARE THE WARRIORS OF CAINIA, LET US SHOW THEM WHAT IT MEANS TO CROSS BLADES WITH MEN ON HONOUR! WILL YOU RIDE WITH ME?” the roar of his people deafened the next blast. He raced from the battlements his warriors hot on his heels and threw himself onto his noble steed, Tambourine. He petted the stallion lovingly one last time before putting spurs to him flying out the western gate, turning slightly north to charge the fifty oncoming riders. As he rode he let out a single slow prayer “Please Selwyn, let them make it to the Forest, let them make it”