Thursday 2 October 2014

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Rivulets of blood ran between the stones from the gaping wound in the man’s head as he slumped lifeless against the towers wall. He had been a rebel under the charge of Lord Karramar, the latest man to try for the throne. This dead man had been more than just a rebel. He was the first man that Reven had killed. The fighting had been fierce and Reven and his unit were fresh into the ranks of the Black Guard. Only days had passed since he had joint this company of fighting men and already he was in the thick of it. No real training had been provided as he and his new companions had spent the last two days marching to break the siege of Osmir Keep. There was no respite. As soon as they had arrived they had been formed up into units and given their orders. Reven’s unit numbered about forty, all fresh faced recruits. Sergeant Ledyn had given them simple orders. Reven’s unit were to approach the rebels left flank and do as much damage as possible. They would be a vanguard for more seasoned units, soaking up punishment whilst the real soldiers made their tactical advances. If they lived, they were to return to the plain black banner that the leather faced sergeant had placed into the ground. The sergeant had explained that the banner was plain because none of Reven’s unit was worthy to fight in one of the named companies. He sneered at them as he explained this, his leathery face wrinkling as a half-smile crept across it. Reven had an instant dislike of the man and looking at those around him he thought he was not the only one who felt this way. Sergeant Ledyn had chosen the biggest recruit to lead them, a boy named Danil. He looked to be about the same age as Reven, no more than sixteen, but his was much larger. His arms were a thick as Reven’s thighs and he towered over the rest of the unit. He wore his black hair in a top knot and wore the same simple black leather armour as the rest of the unit. Reven looked at his companions, they were more or less all boys. The ages must of ranged anywhere from ten years of age up to seventeen or eighteen. They were all armed the same with short blades and shields and most had the same unmistakable look of fear in their eyes.

The fighting around the keep had already started. The Black Guard were not the only loyalist troops answering the call for aid but it did look as if they were one of the last forces to arrive. The enemies left flank had already seen fighting in and around a watch tower and some out buildings. Reven’s unit approached the battle at a run and stopped short before entering the fray. Despite Danil’s size he looked visibly shaken by the sights and sounds of the battle in front of him. Reven couldn’t blame him. Two forces were in amongst each other, caught in close fighting, the shadow of the tower looming over them. There appeared to be no order to the fighting. It was brutal and bloody and the clash of weapon and shield was almost deafening. The boy next to Reven whimpered as he emptied his bladder, leaving a pool of piss at his feet. Reven took a side step away from the lad and readied himself. Danil straightened and turned to his new unit, he looked as if he wanted to say something inspiring but the words seemed to stick in his throat. Looking at his fellows it appeared as if half of them were ready to run. This apprehension would be short lived. At their backs came some of the Black Guard troops, they were a way off but it was enough. This stirred the unit into action as they ran to enter the fray. Reven howled as he launched himself forward, adrenaline flooding his system. His call was echoed by some of his comrades as they rushed onward. Some of Karramar’s rebels turned to face this new threat. They hurled abuse at the approaching boys, taunting them as they raised their weapons to repel the assault. As Reven approached the boy at his side raced passed him. He screamed as he drew his arm back to strike out with his sword but his scream was cut short as his head was removed from his neck without ceremony. The head landed squarely in front of Reven and he couldn’t help treading on it as he sped forward. He slipped and lurched to the side, having to use his hands to stop him going all the way over. One of the rebel soldiers stepped forward and struck down with a two handed axe. More by luck than by design the blow struck Reven’s shield and brought his tumble to an abrupt end as the force of the blow knocked him the rest of the way to the floor. His arm when numb as the impact drove the shield back on top of him. Reven scrabbled to move away from the next blow and half rolled out of its way this time more prepared he hoisted the shield up with his still numb left arm. The axe came straight through this time, shearing away the bottom half of the shield, barely missing Reven’s forearm. The shield fell away completely as the wrist straps were rendered useless. Reven’s attacker stamped down on his leg as if to hold him in place while he pulled his axe free from the ground where it had ended its descent. The ease at which it passed through the shield even seemed to surprise the rebel. Reven didn’t need his leg, he swung the sword he still gripped in his hand at the man’s arm with all the strength he could muster. It smashed into the rebels arm at the elbow. The blade wasn’t keen enough to slice through the leather jerkin that protected his opponent but Reven’s ears were met with a gratifying crunch and an accompanying scream. The rebel stepped back cradling his broken arm with his other hand. His guard down he didn’t notice the sword that was being swung at his face by one of Reven’s cohort. The blade caught him straight on the chin, smashing his jaw to pieces and leaving a bloody rent in what used to be his face, he fell down dead without uttering a sound. Danil looked down at Reven and nodded, his bloodied sword dripping gore as he took off in a hunt for a new enemy. Reven came to his feet, looking about as he did so. Only seconds had passed and many of his comrade’s bodies already littered the ground, broken and bleeding. Reven shook the last of the numbness out of his arm and moved into the fray.

This is where he met the first man he would kill. Reven moved into the battle looking for an opponent. He had followed Danil into the press, hoping that he might stay alive longer by being at the big lad’s side. He lunged in with his sword at the first of Karramar’s men he met. The man was already in combat with another of the Black Guard recruits. As the man parried Reven’s thrust the other boy swung at his leg. The rebel couldn’t parry both attacks at once and was brought down onto one knee, Reven kicked at his face and the man reeled backwards, his arms coming up instinctively to protect his already broken nose. The other recruit wasted no time capitalising on the opportunity and stabbed his sword in to the rebel’s chest, ending his pain. Reven moved on, he could see some of the black leather clad recruits doing battle at the base of the tower and he moved to aid them. Despite even numbers these boys were well outmatched by the rebel soldiers and it was telling. One boy cowered behind his shield, another was wrestling desperately with a rebel, both vying for control of the same sword. The third recruit had already lost his battle as Reven approached. His assailant was removing his sword from the recruit’s guts. He turned in time to see Reven’s approach and raised his sword and shield in defence. They circled each other briefly before the man struck. Time seemed to slow as the rebel’s sword arced toward Reven. His sword in a two handed grip he moved his sword to counter, batting his adversaries blow aside with ease and then striking out with his own. The blow landed on the rebels shield but with enough force to stagger him a little, Reven followed up with another swing but again the shield was there. The rebel swung low with his sword, forcing Reven to hop back. He tried to follow up by bashing Reven with his shield but Reven saw it coming and using his left hand grabbed the shield and pulled his opponent toward him spinning as he did so. The momentum carried the rebel past him and sent him circling back first into the wall of the tower. The rebels head cracked against the wall and Reven continued to let his body spin put all the force of the movement behind his sword. The blade bit home just above the man’s eye, tearing a deep gash that only ended when the sword struck the stone wall. Blood sprayed up the wall along with pieces of brain matter and the man slumped down, his arm twitching as he did so. He tilted to the left and that’s where he stayed. Blood gushed from the wound, running down the wall and pooling on the floor. Reven had never known that a head contained so much blood. He stood staring at the man for a moment as the battle continued to rage around him. He stared at the man’s face and knew he would always remember it.

He moved on, emboldened by his first kill, taking his fight to whoever would face him. The rebel struggling with the Black Guard recruit was next. Reven buried his sword into the man’s side ending the struggle. So it went, the battle was short lived. When the Black Guard soldiers joined the fray after the recruits they had butchered the rebels, outmanning and overmatching them at every turn. The left flank was won and soon

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