Stones crumbled and soil flew as the wall of the Viceroy building came under fire from the Empire’s catapults. Another boulder came dangerously close to the building, crushing three men partially under its weight.
“Hold your ranks,” Riku shouted at his men, hoping to convince both his soldiers and himself that they could do this.
Riku turned to a soldier standing to his left. “Have the catapults ready to fire on my mark.” He then turned to the men standing on the wall with him and those standing behind it. “Archers, get ready!”
As they all notched arrows into place, Riku looked back out at the enemy army. After a few minutes, the catapults stopped firing. All was silent on the battlefield before the forward section of soldiers shouted a battle cry at the behest of a commander.
Then they charged.
“Take aim,” Riku yelled, and all archers stood at the ready, bows drawn. The soldiers behind the wall aimed upwards, leaving the probability of hitting an opponent up to chance.
Riku waited, spying the catapults now raised and being readied to fire. He raised his arm, watching roughly one third of the enemy force charge towards them.
“FIRE,” Riku bellowed, and all archers on the wall unleashed their arrows, cutting down a great score of soldiers. Then the soldiers behind the wall fired, and it was as if the sky had replaced rainwater with arrows, as they embedded themselves into more Imperials.
“Catapults,” Riku shouted, “You may fire at will.”
The boulders placed the Incastan catapults were put to a torch, lighting the oil poured onto them before being flung towards the Empire. Some of the boulders landed on top of advancing soldiers, burning them alive or crushing them outright, while others managed to hit those soldiers that were holding back. One even managed to smash a Imperial catapult to smouldering smithereens.
But for all of Incasta’s firepower, the Empire pressed on.
“Fire at will,” Riku shouted at the archers, and a steady stream of arrows now flew over the wall. But even so, there were still at least seven hundred soldiers advancing towards the wall.
“Where are Nikz and Stone,” Riku asked a nearby soldier, moving away from the wall for a moment.
“They are both still in the waiting room, watching the battle My Lord,” the soldier replied.
“Have them remain there and organise the evacuation of the city at once,” Riku replied, turning back to the battle.
But the Duke’s eyes went wide once they saw the battering ram approaching the gates, and the siege ladders being carried forward.
Riku scowled, grabbing a bow and taking an arrow from a soldiers stock. Riku notched up the arrow, taking aim at one of the forbearers of the ram. But an enemy arrow grazed his right elbow, forcing Riku to fire early and off target, hitting a random soldier in the shoulder.
“My Lord, are you alright,” Asked a soldier as he and another pulled Riku out of the line of fire, shielding him with their bodies.
“I’m fine,” Riku muttered, shoving the soldiers off of him. “Everyone prepare for close range combat!”
As the soldiers behind the wall drew their swords, Riku glared at the battering ram.
“It’s times like this I wish Lydia was here,” The Duke thought.
“Are you sure you wish to do this,” Lydia asked as she and Ales accompanied Terrya towards the northern gate of the Palace. Ales was still in military uniform while Lydia was in a navy blue gown with silver trimmings.
“Yes Lydia,” Terrya replied, wearing a midnight blue gown with a common cloak draped over her in order to make her look more of a common-place traveller. “If there is a chance he is there, then I must take it.”
“The information I received was not completely accurate,” Ales stated, seeming to sympathise with Lydia. “There’s a large probability that you won’t find him.” Terrya stopped, turning to face Ales with the same sad yet composed face she had worn for the past three years. Her empty gaze intimidated even him, the Prince of Wrath.
“I understand that it is only a small chance,” The Queen spoke, “But even so, I need to find him, if at least to find some form of closure.”
Ales nodded in understanding. “My apologies, Your Majesty,” He said then turning to face the gate watchmen. “Open the gates.”
As the large wooden gates slowly opened, the three could see a carriage with four accompanying horsemen now slowing before the gate.
“Your Majesty,” The lead horseman began. “I am Alfred; we shall escort you to your intended target.”
“You have my thanks,” Terrya replied, showing them her well worn smile.
Terrya then turned to Ales and Lydia, the Princes’ face impassive while the Lady’s full of concern. Lydia quickly came in for a hug, which Terrya slowly replied to in kind.
“Be safe Terrya,” Lydia whispered, trying hard to keep her emotions in check.
“You too,” Terrya replied. When they broke away from each other, Ales gave a short bow and she nodded to this before heading for the carriage.
Once she was inside, Ales came up to Alfred to say something. When Alfred bent down in his saddle, Ales grabbed his shoulder to get the horseman’s attention.
“She is of great importance to me and my family,” Ales whispered in a deathly tone, speaking of Terrya. “Should you and your men allow any harm to her, I will have your heads, understood?”
Alfred’s face showed his fear of Ales’ threat, but he nodded, and in an instant, the cavalcade was off, Terrya’s hand waving from out of the window.
“Do you think she will be okay,” Lydia asked, worriedly looking on at the disappearing carriage.
“She will be,” Ales replied, a small smile starting to form on his face. “At least she won’t be here.” Lydia looked at him, confused by this.
“What do you mean, Ales?”
“Lydia! Ales,” A voice cried out from behind them, and the two looked back to see Katherine moving quickly towards them, concern written on her face.
“What are you two doing? Where is Terrya?”
“She’s gone on a trip to Allisia,” Ales replied bluntly, with no real emotion in particular.
“What,” Katherine nearly shouted, trying her hardest to maintain her composure as commoners were watching from a distance. “What do you mean she’s gone to Allisia?”
“Katherine,” Lydia began, trying to calm the Queen down, “If you could calm down, we can explain-”
Lydia was unable to finish her sentence as Ales brought an arm tightly around her throat, and placed a dagger at her side. Some gasps from afar were heard as the eyes of both Katherine and Lydia widened in shock and fear.
“What are you doing Ales,” Katherine asked, extending a hand to stop the Prince. But he tightened his grip around Lydia’s throat and lightly pressed the dagger towards her side.
“Try anything and Lydia dies.”