Tythel popped over the wall, raising her arcwand and squeezing off three quick shots in the general direction of the Alohym’s approaching troops. Between their armor and her terrible aim, she was relatively certain it did nothing except make them keep their heads down, but that meant they weren’t shooting back. At least, I hope it’s doing some good.
The warship had taken out their heavy Arcwands, and it was now charging for another shot. The Alohym were keeping it far in the back, so it couldn’t focus on individual soldiers. A small blessing. It was still plenty close to target any building the rebels built up a strong presence inside, cracking centuries old stone like it was rotten wood.
Tythel slid along the wall so she wouldn’t be poking her head over the same spot, and then jumped up to fire again. Another three shots, and she ducked back down.
“Incoming!” one of the soldiers shouted, diving to the ground. A sphere fell out of the sky and exploded in a burst of unlight, sending shards of rock and steel flying among the men. Tythel felt some of the shrapnel bite into her arm and hissed in pain.
“They’re closing in!” Another shouted from a watchtower. “On the lef-”
His warning was cut off with a sudden gurgle, and Tythel watched the man’s body fall limply out of the tower. Cold rage washed over Tythel. She hadn’t even known the man’s name, and he was dead now. Go peacefully to the shadow. Your warning won’t be in vain.
Tythel crawled along the ground towards the left of their position. There was an archway over there, and three Alohym soldiers were running towards it, their unlight weapons raised. They saw Tythel and pointed, starting to charge directly at her.
They clearly didn’t know what she could do. She took a deep breath and let loose a gout of dragonflame, moving her head in an arc to catch as many of them in fire as she could.
Their screams joined the general cacophony of the battlefield, and Tythel turned away, just in time to see the part of the wall she had just vacated explode. A soldier in full imperiplate had hit the wall at a charge and burst through, sliding to a stop across from Tythel with an unlight axe raised.
“Get down!” Tellias shouted, leaping into action before Tythel could even begin to draw breath. His arcplate’s light dimmed as he got closer to the imperiplate, and the battlefield rang with the force of his blow against his opponent.
“Get free so I can breathe!” Tythel shouted, but Tellias was lost in the struggle. The two metal-clad men were now in a grapple, the unlight axe discarded at the moment of impact.
Tythel loosed her hammer and ran to join in their struggle. She leapt as she got close to the fight, using her feet to push off of Tellias’ shoulders and fly over the imperiplate soldier’s head.
Eupheme was on this side of the breach, and she vanished into Tythel’s shadow right before Tythel landed in a roll. Tythel whirled and swung with her hammer. It met the side of the soldier’s hip and the armor cracked where it landed.
Tellias broke free of the grapple, bringing back one gauntleted fist to slam into the soldier’s faceplate. His opponent was fast and more experience with imperiplate. He managed to move out of the way in time, sending Tellias off balance. For a moment Tythel thought Tellias would come stumbling into her, but he caught himself before he did, instead bringing his gauntlet around to hit the spot Tythel had weakened. She could hear something break deep within the imperiplate, and the soldier inside became more frantic.
Eupheme reappeared them, stepping out of the shadow to shove a thin blade into the cracks now splintering the armor’s hip. The man inside screamed in pain.
From there, it took Tythel and Tellias only moments to finish the soldier off. Moments they didn’t have. “Fall back!” Someone shouted further down the line. “Fall back or be surrounded!”
Tythel snatched up the unlight axe and tossed it to Eupheme. Eupheme nodded and stepped back into shadows again. Tythel began to run to the first fallback point, Tellias joining her. “Don’t get between me and plate again,” Tythel hissed at him.
“Then don’t get so close to plate,” Tellias growled. “I don’t want to see you in hand to hand with one of those things.”
Tythel leapt over the next wall with Tellias, then turned to him to shout, “I was fighting them in hand to hand before you were-”
Eupheme stepped out from the shadow of the wall. “Enough!” she snapped, her voice firm. “This is a battlefield, not a bedroom. Bicker later.”
Tellias turned a deep shade of red, although Tythel could on blink in confusion. What do bedrooms have to do with arguments? Still, properly chastised, she peered through a gap between the stones.
Numbers should have been on their side, yet the Alohym’s forces were pushing them back. That damn warship in the sky was pelting them with unlight beams that could cleave through any barrier they could erect, and they were making good use of their imperiplate, clumping it together in groups of four or five to act like a fist at anywhere resistance was particularly strong. We need something to change the game or we’re done for.
There was no time for clever strategies, however. Soldiers of the Alohym were rushing forwards. Resistance fighters began popping over the walls to open fire, trying to slow their advance. This time, Tythel didn’t bother with an arcwand, instead waiting for them to get closer before leaping out of cover and letting loose a wide arc of dragonflame.
She only caught a few soldiers in her breath, but they fell, screaming in agony as they did. If only there was some way to burn the whole army…Tythel thought.
Then, slowly, a grin began to spread across her face. “Tellias! We need to fall back to the tunnels!”
Tellias gave her an open mouthed stare. “Have you lost your mind? We’ll be trapped like rats down there.”
Tythel nodded. “I have a plan. Well, an idea. Flath it, Tellias, we’re getting picked off from the air anyway! Underground favors us right now.”
As if to punctuate her point, an ancient tower that contained arcwand snipers exploded nearby, shattered by a beam of unlight as thick as a man’s torso. The warship was beginning to slowly advance, its pilot realizing that nothing they had on the ground could oppose them. “Light burn me,” Tellias swore, looking around wildly. “We need to convince the rest of the army, or we’ll just be cowards running.”
Tythel stood up again to let loose another gout of dragonflame at the advancing soldiers. An unlight beam brushed her shoulder, and she dropped back down as she suppressed a hiss of pain. “Eupheme!” Tythel said. “Find d’Monchy. Tell him-”
Tythel didn’t need to finish the explanation. Eupheme gave Tythel a quick nod of her head and vanished again into shadows.
“Are you alright?” Tellias asked, standing up to return fire on the advancing soldiers. From the lack of screams, both from her flame and his shots, neither of them had struck home.
“Are you kidding?” Tythel let out a dark laugh. “I’ve been shot worse than this. I’ll be fine.” She did her best to seem confident, even though every twitch of the injured arm was agony.
Tellias only nodded. “Well, you highness, your Umbrist has gone to try and change the course of an entire army. What do we do until she returns?”
A soldier made it to the wall, leaping over in a swift motion. His eagerness put him directly in Tythel’s arm reach, and she swung her hammer one handed. The man’s chest cavity collapsed under the blow.
“We hold the line,” she said. And Light grant we can hold it long enough.