The rain stopped as suddenly as it began. The wind died down and the clouds began to break apart, as sun rays found their way to warm the ground. The mysterious army halted, and seeming to await further orders – it wouldn’t be long now.
Cydel stood on the northern wall, staring into the distance at the unknown army, willing it to turn around. His sister and mother rested beneath him at the wall’s entrance, preserving their energy until they’d need to stand and fight.
The army restarted their march and resumed their progress toward Ikalga. Cydel cursed. There hadn’t been enough time for reinforcements. Coming down from the wall, thoughts rushing through Cydel’s mind had him ready to hug his sister and mother for the last time. Then he suddenly spied a dark mass approaching in the distance. When had that appeared? From the black mass broke a solitary shape that rode towards the approaching force. Shouts rang out through the unknown force and it came to yet another stop. Two men separated from the march and went to meet the small dot on horseback that had emerged from the mass. The rider was wearing DeLurian colors.
Cydel sat, unable to figure out what was going on. Ace had not briefed the sixteen-year-old boy on a situation that included two armies approaching a gate he alone guarded. The boy wouldn’t complain though, as long as the army’s march was interrupted, it’d give him more time to wait for his father to return with reinforcements.
Cydel began to sweat as the sun beat down on the back of his neck. The weather was unpredictable nowadays. Ace had told him it was due to the walls of fire. Now situated against the wall of the gate’s entrance with his mother and sister, Cydel shrugged to himself, letting his head fall. I only need to rest my neck for a moment… He absentmindedly drew a picture in the dirt with his finger, and closed his eyes, underestimating the extent of his own exhaustion.
Cydel dreamt that he was on a boat with Anroma and Francesca. The sun beat down on them, tanning them both instantly.
“I bet I can hit that bird before you!” dream Cydel exclaimed. He shot an arrow, missing badly. Francesca rolled her eyes and a bow with arrows appeared in her hands.
“Maybe next time, little one,” Francesca said as she hit the bird dead on.
Cydel groaned as he heard shouts cheering on the success of his sister. Typical. He turned to his mother, at least she didn’t play favorites.
The chanting grew louder and now both his mother and sister were calling his name.
The boy snapped out of his nap, having fallen against the wall, face down in the dirt. He jumped up, now standing between his mother and sister.
The army had begun its march again. The chants from his dream were real, they were coming for him.
Cydel turned back toward Anroma and Francesca. “What do we do?”
“Your father is almost here,” his mother said, a grim look cast on her face. “He’ll make it.”
“Look!” Francesca pointed to the black mass, which had skimmed off and turned around half of the unknown army.
“I guess their meeting didn’t go well…” Cydel said.
But the mysterious army continued charging, despite being intersected by the black mass, who were presumably the Lurians. Cydel thought to himself, Half an army would help if-
A thump sounded behind him and his father stood there, staring out at the charging half-army. “They should be here shortly,” he said, not taking his eyes from the battlefield.
“Are the gates closed? If they don’t have many archers, we can hold them for a bit,” Sledg asked.
Cydel and Sledg looked to Anroma. She nodded, “They’re closed.”
Cydel ran and stocked up on arrows he could find on top of the wall, taking a position behind cover. He kneeled on top the wall, waiting for the charging soldiers to get in range. Cydel glanced back and saw his mother give Francesca her remaining water orbs. He hoped that meant his mother would be taking it easy.
He heard an increasing sound of countless footsteps and looked over the wall. They’re on grass, why did the sound suddenly get louder? His head swiveled in the other direction as Ikalgan defenders ran around the corner. Cydel smiled- reinforcements. They now had a fighting chance.
Sledg dropped off the roof and gave orders. Cydel was soon joined by several archers. He had them ready their aim as the other army would be in range in moments, at least the half that hadn’t been turned around by the Lurians.
Cydel yelled as they crossed the threshold for the archer’s weapon range, raising and lowering his arm to signal the first shots. The arrows streamed over the wall, flying into the approaching soldiers. Cydel nocked his second arrow before the first had hit its target. Aiming for their ranged attackers, the boy sent out a half dozen arrows in only seconds. Aiming at his next target, he cursed, seeing the enemy already returning aim at him. Cydel hurried with his arrow and it slipped, his eyes watching it fall harmlessly to the ground. The boy didn’t have a chance to look back up before the impact of an arrow to his face sent him into darkness.