When she landed on the wall, Tythel paused for a moment to look through the prison’s windows. The yard beneath her was still empty, but beyond it she could see the battle raging within the prison.
It was utter chaos.
Arcwands were being fired, providing intermittent bursts of light or unlight, but the prison had relied on thick walls and impregnable cells to hold its population in check. Without those, and the city being in a state of general chaos, what was left was a prisoner population that outnumbered the remaining guards nearly a hundred to one. Thank the light we pulled the guards away.
Of course, once the battle inside came to a conclusion, the prisoners would have to come out. Once they did, it would be a slaughter – the guards still held the external walls and towers. The prisoners could get into the yard – and from what Tythel could see, they would soon – but they’d be cut down as soon as they did.
Tythel took off towards the nearest tower. No one was watching for her. If I was sitting guard on a prison where chaos reigns, Tythel though, I wouldn’t be watching the external walls either. After all, who could possibly want to break into a prison?
A single massive leap took Tythel flying up towards the top of the tower. She brought one hand over her eyes to protect them from shards of glass when she burst through the window.
The guards didn’t react immediately. They noticed her, that much was certain, but even with the general panic none of them were prepared to come bursting through a side window that the prisoners couldn’t have accessed.
Their loss. Tythel dropped some of the presents that had been ‘donated’ by the soldiers in the street. Then, just as the guards gathered their wits enough to open fire, Tythel leapt back out the window and into the prison yard behind the tower.
She glanced up just in time to see the tower explode. Another followed moments later, then a third and a fourth. She could see Lorathor skittering down the side of the last tower. The other two packages had been carried by Eupheme Stepping directly into the tower and Haradeth coaxing some bats to carry his bundle.
Tythel could hear a cheer rising up from within the prison. The remaining guards were forgotten or slain, and the prisoners began to pour out the door.
“To me!” someone shouted over the din. “Form up on me!” It was a voice used to command, a voice that expected people to obey the orders it was giving.
It belong to the Duke d’Monchy. Tythel could see him holding an arcwand over his head for attention. While some of the prisoners were running out into the yard and bolting for the doors, many more were converging around the Duke. “Get back from the gates!” Tythel shouted, adding her own voice to the din.
d’Monchy looked over at the sound of her voice and his eyes widened before he gave Tythel a fierce grin. “Get back! Get back, you Light-blinded fools!”
The prisoners did, and the Duke approached her. “Tythel! Cast me into Shadow, but it’s good to see you again.”
“You too,” Tythel said, blinking in joy. “Is your wife alright? The others?”
The Duke pursed his lips. “My wife lives. I’m not sure about everyone. I know others weren’t so lucky. How fares Nicandros and Haradeth?”
“Haradeth is still with us,” Tythel said curtly. “Eupheme, Armin, Ossman, and Lorathor as well.”
The Duke quirked an eyebrow but didn’t push her further. Before he could open his mouth, the last of the prisoners moved away from the gate – just in time for Armin and Ossman to use the last of the explosive spheres to detonate the hinges. The gate fell.
“I take it there’s a plan?” the Duke asked.
“Armory. I can’t imagine you have enough arcwands for everyone.” Prisoners were still streaming out of the building.
“Fill me in on the way,” he said, then turned back to the prisoners. “Come on, then! Our young friend here knows where to find arcwands! Let’s shoot some flathing Alohym lackeys.”
The prisoners cheered again, and Tythel moved with the Duke to lead them out.
“We’re going to lose some,” he explained as they ran. “Most of these people just want to get free, and are going to take advantage of the chaos. We’re going to gain more than we lost.” The Duke grimaced. “Assuming we get out of the city alive.”
“We shouldn’t have too much opposition on our way to the Armory, at least,” Tythel said, and then quickly explained the plan – and everything that had gone wrong so far. “Getting out of the city will be harder because of that, but at least we’ll be armed,” she finished.
“Sounds like a solid plan,” the Duke said. “I’d like to see what-”
The Duke didn’t get to finish what he wanted to see. A volley of unlight streaked towards the rag-tag army. Tythel dove to the ground, taking the Duke with her before the fire cut them to ribbons.
They had been running at the head of a mob. Tythel and the Duke were safe, but their front lines were cut to ribbons. Tythel snarled and activated her shield, taking to her feet and putting the barrier up to absorb some of the incoming fire.
These weren’t the single shot rifles of the guards or normal soldiers. These came at her too rapidly for that. Behind the cloud of unlight, she could see the Imperiplate soldiers who were responsible for the fire.
Behind her, the army was dispersing into alleys and taking cover behind Crawlers. Tythel’s stubborn refusal to drop drew more fire. The unlight shield began to show splinters in its structure. It couldn’t hold indefinitely, and if she didn’t take cover soon, she’d join the dead and dying behind her.
Or there’s always a second option.
Tythel tapped the Duke and motioned to a nearby alley. She covered him, running along with her shield to keep him out of the line of fire, then turned and began to charge the soldiers.
Arcwands and unlight relied on energy to kill their targets. They didn’t have any force behind them.
Nothing existed to impede her charge into the line of Imperiplate.
There were seven of them. A single imperiplate soldier was more than Tythel could defeat. She activated the hammer, remembering how bent and twisted the soldiers armor had become earlier under her relentless assault. It could do something, at least, but it wasn’t what she was hoping would allow her to survive this.
That was on top of the factory to her left.
When she got close to their line, they stopped the fire, activating their own unlight weapons. Swords, hammers, and axes began to absorb the light around the imperiplate soldiers. The collection of unlight was enough to cast the area into a shadow, like a cloud had passed overhead.
Then Tythel was in that unnatural shadow, among soldiers that could rend her limb from limb.