Haradeth landed shortly after Tythel did, tossing Armin down into the grass to whirl and face the window he’d just vacated. Tythel followed his gaze. One of the mutants peered up and over through the window, but before Tythel’s eyes it began to slump until it collapsed back into the tower. ”I think they took all the light they could,” Armin said, forcing himself off the ground.
“Is everyone alright?” Haradeth asked.
Ossman held up his hand. The deep gashes Tythel had left in his arm were now scabbed over and pink around the edges. “I think so,” he said slowly. Ossman ran the hand over his now smooth scalp. “I’m going to miss hair until it grows back.”
“It probably won’t,” Armin said, finishing the process of standing up. He began to rub his temples. “I’ve got a headache that won’t quit, but other than that I’m fine. I can fight. We should be moving.”
Eupheme just nodded in agreement.
With alarms going off across the city, the streets were relatively clear, and most of the garrison had been pulled to the walls. Tythel sprinted ahead to catch up with Haradeth. “We’re going to have a problem with the gates, now that every guard has been pulled to them.”
Haradeth grunted. “This entire mission has been flathed up one side and down the other already. The plan has officially turned to a fecal sandwich. The gates are just the crust. Let’s work our way through the other ten problems before we worry about the flathing gates.”
Tythel frowned at his tone, but couldn’t find an argument with his points.
“You didn’t have to leap for Ossman,” Haradeth said after a bit more silence.
Tythel almost stumbled in affront. “Of course I did! Did you think I’d let him fall?”
“You could have died,” Haradeth said.
Tythel picked back up the pace. “And that worries you? I get the impression you think it was better if I was dead.”
Haradeth just grunted at the accusation, which Tythel took as affirmation. “I’d think you’d worry about if you would die or not,” Haradeth said.
“Better to risk that than do nothing.” Tythel didn’t know where he was going with this, and it looked like her confusion was going to go unanswered.
A group of soldiers, unlight swords in hands, turned the corner directly in front of them.
For half a second, the two groups stopped, comically amused expressions on their faces. “It’s them!” one of the soldiers shouted, starting to reach for something on his shoulder.
An unlight bolt from Armin took him in the forehead, and the battle was on.
Tythel picked her target and started to charge, a torrent of dragonflame preceeding her rush. The soldier dove out of the way of the dragonflame and came up with a slash directly towards Tythel’s neck. She caught it with her shield, and the clash of unlight sent a shower of dark sparks flying from where the two met. Have to get this done quick, or they’ll alert the rest, Tythel thought.
Out of the corner of her eye, Tythel saw another soldiers reach for his shoulder. Eupheme appeared behind him and her daggers flashed. His fingers went flying from his hand.
Tythel didn’t see the rest of the man’s fate, as her attacker had stopped trying to overcome her shield with brute force and removed his blade for another strike.
Tythel drew back her hammer and swung. The soldier tried to parry the blow, but didn’t expect the strength Tythel could put behind the swing.
The hammer came down on his face, and Tythel winced at the crunching sound it made. The soldier didn’t get up.
Ossman was finishing off his attacker, and the last of the soldier tried to flee. Lorathor caught him and dragged him to the ground, and with a flash of his knife ended the last of the soldier’s lives.
Attackers? Tythel realized she’d thought that about the soldiers that way twice now. But they weren’t the attackers, were they? They were the defenders, not the aggressors.
They have hundreds of people in a prison awaiting execution, Tythel. Stop weeping for them. Weep for their victims.
“Hey, everyone?” Ossman said, holding up something he’d pulled off the belt of one of the dead soldiers. “I think I know a way we can get into the prison.
Tythel had seen similar devices before, and couldn’t help but blink with satisfaction.
“You know, Ossman,” Haradeth said with a fierce grin, “I think those just might work.”
The prison loomed ahead in the night sky, squat and foreboding. This was not a building built for comfort or beauty. It was exactly what its name implied – a place meant to hold men and women under lock and key. A place where people were taken and left to rot or await the headman’s axe.
It was clearly of a different, more recent make than the buildings around it. Tythel marvelled at the walls, which were smooth and showed no sign of being built out of individual stones. Instead, they looked like they had been hewn somehow out of one single, solitary block, with pillars for towers set in the stone – also formed where it appeared to be a single, unbroken stone.
“How is it possible?” Tythel murmured to Armin.
“The Alohym have this stone mush they use for building. They put up these big molds, with iron bars running in the center, and pour the mush in. After a while it hardens, and you’ve got…well, you’ve got something like that. No weak points, no gaps, no handholds.”
“We don’t need handholds, at least.” Lorathor added, glancing around. “Everyone clear on the plan?”
Nods went around. Haradeth, Armin, and Ossman were staying behind – they had no way to clear the stone wall of the prison.
Tythel headed in with Lorathor and Eupheme.
On top of the prison were great arclights, ones that shone with actual light and not the false radiance unlight provided. They were constantly sweeping, but they were sweeping inwards, not outwards.
You’d have to be crazy to try and break into a prison.
Then I guess I am, Tythel thought, and she lowered her head and charged the last distance between herself and the wall. The wall was tall, about three times as tall as a man, and Tythel was certain she could clear it in a single jump.
She wished she was as confident about what happened when she reached the top.
Small Worlds returns 08/13. If you haven’t yet, check out Weird Theology, the first book of Small Worlds, here