Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: The bright lady|
My name is Hunter Patrick Kimber and for almost seventy years I have lived and loved in the highlands of my home. Well, except for the few years I spent in the Black Watch. There are many tales of people with gifts or mythical creatures. I have always been fascinated with the renascence, the English long bowmen and roman short swords. I even had a Damascus steel roman short sword replica.
I was drinking a wee bit and sitting beside the lock. I glanced back to see a stunning lady and smiled as she walked to me and sat, “Have you come to bring me home?”
She smiled as she took my hand, “your time is near Patrick but I have a task for you.”
I grinned and squeezed her hand, “and what task would that be?”
She stood and pulled me up, “fighting, why else would I come for a rogue like you?”
I woke to sunlight and sat up to touch my head. Things seemed different, clearer and the sounds around me were crisp like when I was young. I glanced around and saw a couple of horses with a western saddle and what looked like a pack saddle. I looked at myself to see I was slim and fit looking and was wearing my black leather belt with the sword.
I pulled it out slightly before letting it slid back into the sheath. I had my tanto fighting knife on my left thigh and a Sykes dagger along the small of my back. I stood and a note fell to the ground and I bent to pick it up.
Patrick, I brought your weapons, I also sent you companions. Go south to the large river and follow it to the west. You will find enemies as you go.
I shook my head and looked around again. I walked to the horses and patted one before turning to look at the saddle. It took me awhile to saddle the horses and I started to swing up when two very large wolves appeared. I slowly reached for my sword when I heard a woman’s voice in my head, “are you ready?”
I stopped moving as I had an image of one of the wolves. I cleared my throat, “did you say something?”
The female voice was back, “yes. Are you ready?”
I shook my head, “ready for what?”
It sounded like she snorted, “to go. The pack has been waiting.”
I looked at the two wolves as one turned and slipped back into the brush. I sighed and looked at the two horses that remained calm even though I knew they must have smelled the wolves. I gathered the reins and swung up into the saddle before gesturing, “I’m ready.”
I had only ridden a few times and never like this. The other horse walked half behind me and like mine kept slowing to eat grass constantly. I wasn’t in a hurry and thought as I rode, I glanced at a wolf as it appeared beside my horse and I heard a male voice, “the pack smells the little foul ones.”
I slowed the horse, “little foul ones?”
A picture appeared in my mind of a vicious humanoid with greyish green skin. I thought and looked at the wolf, “how far?”
The answer was quick and not very precis, “Not far.”
I slipped off the horse and started leading it. I followed the wolf as it moved ahead of me and it was maybe twenty minutes before I dropped the reins. I stared at a group of what looked like rabid creatures tearing a deer apart. I pulled my sword and knife and moved forward.
One of the things lifted its head to look towards me. It growled and turned to charge me and the others turned to look and then follow. I shifted my stance and moved to the side at the last second as I sliced across. There was a shock of the sword biting into the neck and then it fell. I lunged to stab the next in the belly and moved around it to thrust the knife blade into another’s chest.
I let the knife go as the creature fell and pulled the Sykes. I used a back hand with the sword at the last thing as it reached me. It jerked back and I moved after it and turned and back stepped as it leaped. I stabbed into its neck with the dagger and ripped it out. It fell jerking and I looked around before kneeling to clean the sword and dagger. I sheathed the dagger and sword before retrieving my knife and cleaning it.
I took a moment to really look at these... creatures. Besides what I had noticed before, each one wore a dirty half rotten strip of hide with some type of stone knife. I looked around to see seven large wolves watching me. I shrugged, “no more foul whatever these are.”
I headed back to my horse which hadn’t even moved and climbed into the saddle again. I got the horses moving as the wolves vanished. It was several hours before I came to a wide river. I sat looking at it before glancing up at the sun and turning the horse to the right.
I rode carefully and took deep breaths to smell the fresh air. I stopped a couple of hours before the sun set and put the two horses on long leads after taking the saddles off. I looked through the packs before pulling out a small coffee pot. I went into the woods and began collecting dry branches because I knew they gave off little or no smoke.
I glanced up at the sky before ignoring the tarp and rolling out the bedroll. I pulled out the sections for a fishing pole and walked to the river and started fishing. I had always loved to fly fish but there weren’t really any large fish where I went so when the huge fish swallowed the fly I was stunned before quickly trying to bring it in. I had a big grin when I brought the fish in and cleaned it. I started digging through the pack to see if I had what I needed to cook it.
I was more than full as the pack of wolves laid around and slipped some of the cooked fish to the female that seemed to stay near me. I cleaned the sword, knife and dagger before the sun set and laid back to look up at the stairs that seemed to fill the sky. I woke during the night when the wolf laid beside me and sighed. I smiled and closed my eyes again.
I woke at the bare hint of daylight and glanced around before standing. I stripped and walked into the river to wash before returning. I used my shirt to dry off and folded my clothes before packing them in the saddle pack and pulling out another set.
I saddled the horses and began leading them as I started walking. I was thinking of a nice English long bow as I looked at the trees around me. It was a couple of hours before I swung up into the saddle. My only real company seemed to be the female wolf that stayed close as I rode. I saw the wolves catch rabbits a few times and had to smile at how easy they made it seem. Around noon I was walking again when one of the wolves ran out of the brush behind me, “run!”
I turned as two yellowish grey humanoids burst out behind them with wicked looking swords. I quickly swung into the saddle and turned to kick the horses into a run after the wolves. I leaned forward as I dodged branches and brush and broke out of the forest and started across a small meadow. A half dozen of the new creatures were yelling and a couple were aiming at the fleeing wolves with bows.
They yelled and started chasing me. Just before I reached the safety of the forest a sharp pain struck me in the back of my left shoulder. I fell forward and let the horse move through the trees and brush with a tearing pain in my shoulder and back. A few minutes later we broke out into a large clearing.
The wolves ran ahead of me and to the right was a huge roar as several hundred of the creatures charged. Several moments later we were back in the trees and protected from arrows. I pulled the horse back to a trot, trying to save it. The horse continued to trot as I kept checking behind us.
It was a half hour before I stopped hearing the creatures following us and we broke out of the forest into wide field. A large walled town was in the distance and the wolves moved closer around the horses. I kept glancing around but no one was in the fields as I got closer to the city.
The gates were closed but there were people watching from the wall. I slowed and looked at the gate before turning to look at the distant trees and slowly dismounted and walked to the gate. I pounded on it, “open the damn gate!”
There was a yell and I heard scraping and then one of the gates slowly opened. Three soldiers stood with swords drawn as I turned to look at them, “well?”
One looked past me at the wolves and I shook my head, “my companions. I have a small army of nasty creatures following me. If you aren’t going to let me in then point me in a safe direction.”
The older one in the middle finally shook his head, “let him in.”
The gate was opened wider and I started leading the horses in with the wolves slipping in close to me and the horses. The old soldiers pointed to a stone building down the cobblestone street, “see Mark about a room and I’ll have someone fetch a doctor.”
I slowly walked up the silent street with people looking at me. A small girl ran out and hugged one of the wolves and there was a gasp. The wolf stopped moving and turned his large head to look at her before seeming to give a sigh and moving slowly towards a woman with her fist in her mouth. She hesitated before pulling the girl away, “thank you.”
I smiled and continued to walk as the female wolf slipped closer to walk beside me. I felt a small weight in my shirt and reached in to pull out a small pouch. I smiled as I opened it, “still watching me bright lady?”
The large stone building had a sign over the door, it was of a brightly colored bird. I glanced across the cobbled street to see what looked like a weapon shop. I handed the reins to an older boy, “I’ll be right back.”
I crossed the street and walked into the shop with the female wolf. A huge breaded man turned from a crate. He frowned as I stared at a long bow in a rack. It was easily six feet long and a light purple with the wood grains highlighted in green. He grinned, “pretty isn’t it?”
I turned and he frowned, “you have an arrow in your back.”
I glanced back, “I noticed.”
I gestured to the bow, “how much?”
He looked at me, “you going to use it on the orces?”
I blinked, “are those the creatures that are man tall and mean as snakes?”
He grinned, “and then some, yes.”
I nodded and he crossed to pull the bow out of the rack and fished out several bow strings. He turned and pulled a large quiver off the wall and filled it with arrows from a barrel. He handed everything to me, “just kill some and we will call it even.”
I smiled, “I can do that.”
I turned and left and walked across and into what looked and felt like an inn. I nodded to a large man that came out of the kitchen wiping his hands, “a room...”
He looked from the wolf beside me to my shoulder, “take a seat.”
I nodded and walked to a table by the fireplace as he turned to go into the kitchen. I put the bow and quiver on the table and sat and the female wolf laid down by the fireplace. A minute later the man was back with a large bowl and a towel as well as a bottle. He bent me forward and looked at the arrow, “that needs to come out. It isn’t in deep but they always cause the wound to go bad.”
He pulled a small knife and I hissed as he did something to the arrow. A moment later he snapped the shaft and tossed it into the fireplace. I glanced at the door as my shoulder started to feel like it was on fire. I thought it was just a short man standing in doorway but as soon as he started walking towards me, I knew he wasn’t. Besides the long pointed ears he just seemed to move different.
He set a small case on the table, “well, you do seem different.”
I looked at him and grinned, “any shorter and I would say you were one of the wee people.”
He grinned, “a crossover.”
He bent to look at my back, “hold him.”
I glanced at the large man as he leaned down and pushed me against the table, “this might hurt.”
A moment later I was gritting my teeth as the small man or whatever he was slowly pulled the arrow out. He seemed to be taking his time and finally held it up, “good, no barbs broke off.”
I looked at the wicked arrowhead as I was helped out of my shirt and pushed back down on the table. I hissed as liquid fire was poured into the wound. A moment later it was something that seemed to string and bite and a bubbling froth spilled out with the blood. There was a rotten smell and then the liquid fire was back as the large man poured something from the bottle into the wound.
The small man waited and poured a little of something from a small bottle that brought more bloody froth. It reminded me of peroxide so I held still. The other man cleaned the wound with what was in the other bottle and then a little more from the small bottle was poured in. This time there was only a little bloody froth. The little man dried the wound and started sewing it before wrapping a linen bandage around my chest.
I sat up with a throbbing ache in my shoulder and nodded to the small man. He sat as the large man went into the kitchen, “so how long have you been here?”
I glanced at the female wolf as she stood and came to put her head in my lap, “two days.”
I looked at the large man when he walked back in with a bowl of water and a towel. He pushed me forward and cleaned my back and dried it before setting the towel on the table. I stopped gritting my teeth, “do you have a room for my horses?”
He nodded his head, “since almost everyone has left yes.”
The small man nodded and stood, “hopefully we can get the last of the women and children away tonight.”
I looked at him and then the big man, “Away?”
He nodded, “you must have been very lucky. There are thousands of Orcs beyond the fields just waiting to attack.”
I shrugged, “kill them.”
He grinned as the small man laughed, “you are a strange one.”
I stood and struggled into my shirt before taking the bow and quiver, “I need to check my horses.”
The big man snorted, “eating like nothing was wrong and those wolves laying around peaceful like.”
I smiled as I walked out and around the building with the wolf following. The horses were in the stables and the saddle and pack were on the stall rail. The small man had followed me, “will you stay?”
I glanced at him, “why send the women and children away?”
He shrugged, “we have been moving them across the river and down to the duke’s stronghold. The city doesn’t have enough warriors to defend it.”
He turned to look at me, “not many crossovers happen anymore.”
I smiled as I looked at the wolves laying in pairs around the stable, “any chance I can get something for my friends and myself to eat?”
He grinned and slapped my arm, “I am Elwin.”
I headed for the door with him and the female wolf, “Hunter.”
Elwin led me to the kitchen and the big man turned to smile. I nodded to him, “I need food for myself and my friends.”
He gestured to the other door, “I can send my son across to the lamb pens for your friends. You can take a seat and I’ll burn something since my wife was the cook and she left.”
Actually it wasn’t as bad as he made it sound. His son came in grinning and slipped the wolf a lamb shoulder. After I ate, I moved to the fireplace and laid beside the wolf. I woke sweating to the touch on my foot and looked at Elwin. He smiled, “the sun is setting and the orces are crossing the fields.”
I sat up, “the women and children?”
He shook his head, “the orcs are on the other side of the river now.”
I looked at him after standing, “then we kill the orcs before they can get in.”
I was thinking of the little girl from the day before as I stretched before taking the quiver and fixing it to my belt. I bent the bow and slipped the string on before testing it. I looked at Elwin and he turned and headed for the door. I glanced at the wolf as she trotted after me and smiled. I stopped after we walked out and turned, “does Mark have whiskey or anything strong enough to burn?”
Elwin grinned, “we have barrels of lamp oil.”
I grinned back, “have it brought to the walls.”
I headed down the street and smiled as the other wolves appeared to walk with me. I headed towards the steep steps up onto the wall beside the gate. The older man that had let me through turned when I appeared. I looked out to see torches in the fields, “Elwin is going to bring lamp oil.”
He looked into the almost dark city before grinning, “Peters! Jones! Run to the street lamplighter’s and help the elf bring the barrels of lamp oil back.”
Two men nodded before moving around me and then the wolves as they filled the walk. I glanced over the wall again before pulling an arrow out and fitting it to the string. The old man caught my arm, “you shoot and they might attack.”
I looked at him, “they haven’t before?”
He shrugged, “just arrows.”
I smiled, “sounds like you are letting them get away with it.”
I turned and pulled the bow and sighted on one of the orcs with a torch before releasing. I was surprised when it fell and a scream reached me. I pulled another arrow and began firing into the massed creatures and barely a moment later all the men on the wall joined me. The orcs milled around in confusion before turning and running towards the trees.
By then my quiver was empty and I stretched and tried to ignored the pain from my wound. The old man laughed and pointed to a barrel, “we have plenty of arrows.”
I looked and went to fill my quiver before going back to the spot I had chosen. I pet the wolf when she stood and followed her look to see a couple of wagons. We moved down and began moving the barrels onto the wall and spread them out. It was another hour before the orcs came out of the trees again and moved closer. Word passed and those resting stood and we waited.
There was no torches this time but we didn’t have lanterns or torches either so we could see using the moonlight. When I nocked an arrow I wasn’t alone. I kept shooting as they came closer and Elwin brought bundles of arrows. I finally paused and glanced around, “throw the barrels of oil over!”
I set my bow aside and helped lift and toss a barrel before glancing around, “someone with a few torches would be good.”
I turned and went back to shooting down as the orcs started closing with the wall. As they reached the wall several torches flared and were tossed over. The oil almost exploded when it ignited and a solid wall of flames engulfed the ocrs at the wall trying to climb as well as those crowding behind. I fired into the army as they screamed and fled.
The wolves growled suddenly and I turned to look as they charged to the left. I turned and shot an orc fighting a man and then dropped the bow and charged as I pulled my sword and knife. I passed wolves killing orcs and sliced the throat of another orc fighting with a man. I kept going and slammed into an orc and stabbed into its gut and yanked up and out with my knife before shoving it over the walk.
I spun and used a back handed swing with my sword to block a descending sword and followed it in and brought my knife up under the orc’s throat. I stabbed into its brain and twisted and shoved it away. I looked around to see the rest dead. I turned and started checking the men that had been wounded and then I went to each wolf to check them.
I returned to my spot on the wall as Elwin started helping the wounded. The orcs had retreated all the way to the forest. The fire at the base of the wall was still burning and there was a glow that spread out into the fields. I refilled my quiver and stretched my arm before sitting and wiping my sword and knife. The orcs didn’t return for the rest of the night and I finally climbed down with the wolves after the sun had risen.
Mark met me and walked back towards his inn with his son. We had breakfast and Mark’s son Mathew brought chunks of meat for the wolves who had returned to the stables. I slipped away after the bathing room was pointed out and took a cold bath. When I was done I folded my dirty clothes and wrapped a towel around me before going to the stables.
I opened my pack and pulled out clothes and looked at them as I realized they were the ones I had worn a couple of days before. What got me was they were clean, they even smelled clean. I smiled as I tucked the dirty clothes into the pack, “thank you bright lady.”
I dressed and took a walk as I thought about our problem. I glanced at Elwin when he appeared beside me, “no wounded?”
He grinned, “minor and they have been seen to.”
I nodded as I turned to head for the wall, “to bad they don’t have rifles or gunpowder here.”
Elwin grabbed my arm, “I arrived as this started.”
I looked at him and he grinned, “I had several wagon loads of fireworks for the high king’s birthday celebration.”
I stopped walking, “where is it?”
He turned and pulled me after him, “you know of a way to use it?”
I grinned as I thought of pipe bombs and hand grenades, “I have an idea.”
The small barn he pulled me into had four wagons side by side and back to front. What drew my attention were the boxes along the walls, “Shadow boxes!”
He looked at me strangely and I pointed to the boxes with hundreds of wooden tubes in each one, “those.”
He nodded, “they send the fireworks into the air before it explodes...”
His eyes widened and I started moving, “we need men now!”
I climbed into the first wagon and began sorting. Elwin came back with a couple of dozen men and I began telling them what we needed to do. There was eight arrow boxes, each with a hundred tubes and we moved them to the wall as the men began helping me fit the rockets to arrows instead of the sticks they were on. More men came in and I started showing them how to break down the fireworks to make small rockets.
We worked through the day until early afternoon when we were told to rest. I ate in the inn as I thought tiredly and smiled as I turned to Mark, “I need paper... parchment and something to write with, I also need the weaponsmith.”
He opened his mouth and then closed it before going to a corner table. He returned with a large parchment, a bottle of ink and a metal pen. I moved my food and began to draw swiftly as he left. I glanced up for a second as the huge breaded man stomped in, “have you heard of a repeating crossbow?”
He stopped and looked surprised, “vaguely.”
I nodded to the parchment, “Look.”
He tilted his head and then grinned, “that doesn’t look to hard to build.”
I finished drawing and turned it and pushed it to him, “can you build some?”
He picked it up, “I don’t know how many.”
I stood, “hopefully we won’t need them until tomorrow.”
I headed to the stables and a thick pile of hay. I barely shifted when the female wolf laid down beside me. The others were laying at the stable door and in the stable yard. I woke to lantern light and Elwin touching my foot. I sat up and he held a hand down to help me stand. I took a minute to do some stretching before grabbing my bow and quiver.
A huge pot of lamb stew was being served in the common room. When we went to the wall I saw the arrow boxes along the wall by the gate with the men spread out. I helped move a few barrels of arrows before sitting and leaning against the wall, “how many volleys do we have for the arrow boxes?”
The old soldier Jacob chuckled, “three and we have a dozen crude repeating crossbows.”
I nodded, “we need to wait until they are charging and a hundred paces from the wall before setting the arrow boxes off.”
He nodded, “sounds good.”
It was a couple of hours before I stood to the sounds coming from the fields. There was a few clouds but we saw the orcs moving towards us in a wide mass. I looked to the left and right before pulling an arrow from the barrel and put it on the string. I pulled the string back and aimed into the front ranks before releasing it. It was like a signal and the next instant two hundred arrows swept out.
It took a couple of minutes before the orcs roared and charged as we kept shooting. When the arrow box fuses were lit, eight hundred arrows swept out and tore the rushing orcs apart. They panicked at the sound and flaming trails behind the arrows and turned to flee. We kept firing until they were beyond our range. I relaxed and stretched, “we need to fire the boxes further away next time and reload as fast as possible.”
Jacob grinned, “they just lost at least two, maybe three thousand.”
I nodded before I went to help move more arrow barrels. It was well after midnight before they attacked again. The men had napped and stood to turn and watch as the orcs started spreading out as they moved towards the wall. I started to nock an arrow when the female wolf growled. I glanced at her to see her looking into the city. I turned and saw all the wolves doing the same thing, “Jacob?”
He glanced at me and I nodded to the wolves. He swore and started calling names, “they know something, let them go and follow them.”
I glanced out at the orcs just as the arrow boxes were fired and a rain of arrows lashed out. I spun and trotted to the stairs, “lets go.”
The wolves loped ahead of us and we had to ran to keep up. We were almost to the dock when the clouds parted and I saw the barge almost to the end of the dock, on it was a huge crowd of orcs, “ORCS!”
I slowed and lifted my bow as the other men took positions on each side. We started shooting as the orcs roared and tried to leap onto the docks. Some fell but a few made the dock and rushed towards us. We were firing as fast as we could as the barge hit the dock and the rest of the orcs rushed towards us. When they were almost to us the wolves attacked out of the shadows and I tossed my bow away.
I pulled my sword and knife and moved forward. I stabbed an orc trying to pull away from a wolf before sliding a crude sword away with my knife. I sliced across with the sword to cut its throat and spun to stab an orc in the neck with my knife. I ripped the knife out and kept fighting as the other men joined me. I blocked suddenly with my knife and stabbed into a black clad man’s stomach.
He screamed and fell away as I turned and used a back handed cut to almost take the head off an orc. I looked around to see all the orcs down and the men with me panting. I knelt to wipe my weapons, “everyone okay?”
Replies answered that they were fine. I put my knife away and then my sword before I looked at the dead man I had killed. I glanced at the silvery bright short sword he had been carrying and quickly took it and replaced it in the sheath. I cut his belt off and stood and started checking the wolves. They brushed against me before pushing me away. I stood and glanced out at the river before turning, “we should head back to the wall.”
I found my bow and checked it before we walked quickly and climbed up to see the men resting. Jacob grinned as the men moved back to their positions, “anything to worry about?”
I looked out at the bodies in the fields, “a barge full of orcs.”
He looked at me and then sighed, “I don’t think we can hold another day.”
I grinned, “if they give us another day.”
Jacob nodded and I smiled, “everyone that can should build repeating crossbows with the weaponsmith watching and checking. With that kind of fire we can kill ten times as many when they charge.”
The weaponsmith snorted, “how many do you think we can do?”
I turned and sat on the walk leaning back against the wall, “if we make them crude maybe enough for each man. It’s the bolts I worry about.”
The orcs didn’t return and the sun rose to a blue sky that almost promised a new beginning. I stood and stretched before starting for the stairs. While half the men went out the gate to drag orc bodies into a solid line and retrieve as many arrows as they could, the rest of us followed the weaponsmith. We sat and did as he told us and began making crossbows. Some of the men started cutting arrows down into bolts.
Food was brought and in the mid afternoon we looked around as we realized we had enough crossbows for every man. We started on the bolts and the magazine boxes after that and finally everyone was sent to rest. I laid down in the stables and glanced at Elwin when he walked in. He smiled and stretched out in another pile of hay. He sat up a minute later and pointed to the ragged sword sheath hanging beside mine, “where did you find that?”
I opened my eyes and followed his pointing finger before closing them again, “a man was with the orcs that attacked the docks.”
He hissed, “that is an elven short sword.”
I turned my head to look at the sword, “you want it back?”
He snorted and then laughed, “no but you should take it and use it.”
I closed my eyes, “wake me when it gets dark.”
I caressed the wolf as she laid beside me with her head on my chest. I dreamed of a black haired woman that I almost seemed to recognize. I woke to the wolf licking my face and glanced at the door to see the sky darkening. I smiled and sat up, “thanks lady.”
The wolf growled as I stood and I smiled and bent to shake Elwin. He groaned and sat up as I slipped my sword belt on and hesitated before grabbing the other sword. While I was eating with several other men Elwin came in and handed me another belt, “try over the left shoulder.”
I nodded as I ate and slipped morsels to the wolf. Mathew grinned as he ate, “I tossed a couple of lamb shoulders to the others.”
I smiled and stood as I finished, “we need to move the bolts and crossbows to the wall.”
It took several trips to move the small crates full of cut down arrows. It was full dark before everyone was on the wall. I even had the woman with her small daughter next to me. The wolf sat and leaned against the little girl to keep her against the wall. Each man had six bolt magazines that were full as well as a crate of bolts to reload them. Jacob slapped my shoulder as he walked by, “cock and load the crossbow.”
I smiled since I had already done that but moved to help the woman. I glanced out to see the orcs moving and spread the word. Elwin hissed a few moments later, “they have bows!”
I turned to pass the word before lifting my bow and fitting an arrow from my quiver to the string. I emptied the quiver before setting the bow aside. Several minutes later Elvin yelled, “ARROWS!”
I reached out to pull the woman down and against the wall. Moments later clouds of arrows hit the wall or passed over. There was a roar as the orcs charged and Elwin yelled again, “ARROWS!”
As soon as this cloud of arrows went over I stood to see the army of orcs almost to the wall, “MAN THE WALL AND FIRE!”
I lifted the crossbow and fired into the mass below. It was like a harvest of grain, they fell that fast and then I was changing the bolt magazine and helping the woman. We fired again and again, going through five of the magazines before they broke and ran leaving more then five thousand dead behind. We reloaded the magazines as we waited but they didn’t return.
I was worried about the river and the dock but young Mathew was watching and had a horn to warn us. We took turns napping but they didn’t return. As the sun began to rise we moved around inside collecting the arrows they had fired. Once the sun was up fully we went out the gate to take weapons and collect arrows. That was when Duke Pell appeared on barges with seven hundred men from the king’s rangers.
I was busy cutting down the orc arrows to use in the crossbows when they marched through the street and the few women and children were taken to a barge and left. It was awhile before old Jacob led a young man into the stable yard where several of us were working. I glanced at him as I dropped a new bolt into the half full box beside me, “who is with you Jacob?”
The man was staring at the wolves laying around and beside the men and turned to look at me, “Duke Pell.”
I nodded, “I’m Hunter Kimber and thanks for joining our little tea party.”
He grinned, “we were in the neighborhood and decided to drop in.”
The men laughed but kept working. The duke cleared his throat, “you designed these crossbows?”
I shrugged, “they seem to make killing the foul bastards that shot me easier.”
He smiled, “I would think so.”
Elwin walked in with three more small elves, “Hunter my cousin and his friends wanted to meet you.”
I glanced at them as I started attaching another arrowhead, “well met cousin and friends.”
They grinned and ignored the bemused duke as they sat around me and Elwin absently slipped a large chunk of meat to the wolf beside me, “is there still war on your world Hunter?”
I glanced at him and then to the others, “wars and weapons that destroy whole armies and countries. Weapons that can crack the very earth open or kill every living thing on the world.”
They were silent as I worked and absently reached out to start helping. One cleared his throat, “so it is a wasteland now?”
I smiled, “nay, there are many marvels in the world besides war. My highlands are a green and lovely place.”
I sighed and looked at the wolf when she shifted and put her head on my leg, “not many of the wild creatures live there though. It is mostly field and farms with a few bits of woods.”
I caressed the wolf’s cheek before looking around, “other countries have large forests and preserves and there are some of the wild ones there or to the north.”
I looked at my hands as I worked on another arrow, “there are things that fly or even go under the seas. We can speak to another persons on the other side of the world or just next door. Movies... plays are common and seen in almost every house on dozens of televisions. Trains and cars can travel across the country in days or hours.”
I looked at Elwin, “everyone is always rushing. You may have these orcs but things are slower and I like it.”
I grinned as I remembered the fish I had caught, “for decades I fished and caught wee little fish in the streams of home. The first day here I caught a giant that fought like the devil and tasted as fine as...”
I looked around as everyone laughed and the duke turned, “after we send these foul orcs to hell I will show you some real fishing.”
I glanced after him as the men chuckled and smiled, “I will look forward to it your lordship.”
It was afternoon before we stopped and went to rest while those that had slept in the morning took over. I woke to the wolf nudging me and sat up. It was just beginning to get dark so I stood and went to the horse trough as I stripped. I sat in the cool water and washed before getting out and dressing. Mark was alone since he had sent his son away but had managed to make another huge pot of lamb stew.
I helped myself to a large bowl and some bread and cheese. Mark grinned when he came in from the kitchen, “I fed your friends but your lady wouldn’t leave you.”
He stopped and held a thick chunk of meat down to her. I grinned and watched her take it and lay down as she ate. The common room was crowded with rangers and one leaned over, “wolves ain’t no good.”
I looked at him calmly, “neither are rude men that don’t bathe.”
His face reddened as the men around us roared with laughter. The man finally laughed and looked at the wolf, “they do seem to keep the odd varmint away.”
I nodded, “yeah, the orcs really don’t like them tearing limbs off.”
The room laughed again and I finished eating. I grabbed my bow and the crude crossbow before leaving. When I reached the wall, crates of bolts were waiting. Jacob nodded to me and the wolves before looking out across the fields as the last of the sun disappeared. The duke appeared a little while later as the wall began to fill with rangers.
We didn’t have to wait as the orcs flowed out of the woods. Even in the faint light I knew it was more than before. It wasn’t long before they began to move towards us. Jacob chuckled, “eager to get killed this time.”
Several men laughed as I lifted my bow, “but now we have a wee bit of light.”
I released and pulled another arrow as it flew. I had just released a third as all the men and rangers on this side of the city wall fire. The orcs didn’t even slow or pause as hundreds fell. By the time I released my eighth arrow it was time to switch to the crossbow. The orcs had slowed as they got closer and more fell to arrows. Soon we were firing in huge volleys and whole ranks died.
They reached the wall with barely a third of their army left. That was when I found out the duke had brought small barrels of oil. The barrels were thrown over and then torches. Almost the whole city wall was under attack when the oil exploded and a small wall of flame began spreading. I dropped my crossbow as an orc leaped over the wall.
I was pulling both swords when the wolf leaped and ripped its throat out. More orcs appeared and small fights broke out, several ended quickly when a wolf went to help and killed or distracted the orc. Two more orcs climbed over the wall beside me, one I stabbed in the throat and the other the chest. It was over as fast as it began as the orcs turned and ran for the woods.
We went back to using bows so not many reached safety. The ranger that had commented about the wolves walked down the wall following one of the wolves. I was reloading bolt magazines when he stopped, “I owe you an apology.”
I glanced at him and he shrugged, “one saved my life.”
I glanced down at the wolf beside me, “tell them.”
He grinned, “I did.”
The duke and Jacob laughed and I smiled as I looked at the bitch wolf, “any one hurt?”
She shook her head and I nodded before returning to the bolts. It was quiet all night until around false dawn. A cry went up as thousands of orcs spilled out of the distant woods and poured across the fields. With the better light we started killing them further away and they went down by the hundred. By the time we switched to the crossbows less then half were still coming.
When they reached the wall maybe three or four thousand were left. I set the crossbow aside and pulled my swords as they came over the wall. I slashed one’s throat and stabbed another in the chest before moving to the side to kill one on the top of the wall over the duke. I moved back to cut another orc’s throat and stab one through the eye. The fight was short and then scattered before a few hundred were running away.
I used my bow to kill several before they were gone. I checked the wolves before helping the few men on the wall by me. The duke was shaking his head, “there shouldn’t be this many orcs.”
Elwin snorted as he wrapped the wounded arm of a man by us, “foul ones breed like rabbits until there are finally to many and then they move out and attack and kill to start over somewhere else.”
I glanced over the wall, “the female orcs?”
He shook his head, “nothing but animals.”
The orcs didn’t return that night or the next. The scouts that went out returned to say the few trails led back towards the Granite mountains.
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