Battle at Bennet’s
It took another four days for the camps to be ready for the battle. The sky was clear, the day – hot, and the suns – scorching. Some of the soldiers had already gotten tired and sweaty in their heavy armor.
The Frosts had the better iron-makers and thus, the better armor. Their armor had breastplates, arm plates – that left a gap near the elbow for free movement – and shoulder pads on the chainmail in addition to the barbuta, gorget for the neck and iron pads that covered the gaps. The armor was made in a convenient way to leave a visible gap in the middle – above their chest – which resembled the shapes of their respective sigils. The Frosts had a cross with icicles popping out from its outline.
The Flames had an ‘X’ with flames at its edges, for it to be the complete opposite of the Frosts’ own sigil in every way possible; even symmetry. It was all very silly and leaving the chest and belly guarded only by the chainmail was a big gamble. But pride came before safety for them. The Flames’ armor also consisted largely of just iron pads. It left bends in the body like the shoulder and elbows protected only by the chainmail they wore inside the padded armor.
They also had a nasty surprise for the Frosts. The iron-makers had made a major breakthrough. Something the Frosts wouldn’t be ready for…
The camps had assembled at the outskirts of Bennet’s town. Queen Pamela Flame had made sure to make the Frosts come to them. Smart, that one. A great move to show power, to show dominance, thought Pomeron Flame. Pomeron was an astonishingly skilled fighter. With flaming red eyes, a freakishly fit body and pitch black hair that fell to his shoulder, he was a fierce foe to even the eyes of his enemy.
He was next in line to be one of the Heroes. He had been a present Hero – Xavi’s apprentice, and a shadow for nearly two years now. He himself would become a Hero only after his master’s death. They had formed a bond in the two years that they were together, but he wished Xavi dead during every battle nonetheless. He had dreamed of being a Hero ever since his childhood when his father was one. He started his training the day his father didn’t come back to their tent after a battle when he was seven years old.
The horns blew loud, steady and long at the end of which the roars of men kept the noise going as the two camps charged at each other. At the end of a run that alone took a minute and the breath out of many soldiers, the Heroes finally clashed. The apprentices fought the apprentices and the spearmen behind them speared anyone who dared to try to get closer. Arrows flew overhead from nowhere.
Pomeron met his foe at full speed. He didn’t go in for an attack straight away – which would’ve been expected. This threw his opponent, a broad-shouldered man, off who awkwardly tried to slash at Pom. He easily dodged it and drove his sword ‘Killer’ straight into the man’s sigil. Easy, predictable. “Too slow,” he said to the dying man. Someone’s blood splattered over his left cheek; Xavi had gotten his foe. The spearmen then gave way to the swordsmen in a clean swift movement and went behind them again and Pom went to do what he did best.
The sounds of the clinking of swords took over now. All around, soldiers grunted, fought and died. The Frosts were especially hitting the ground more often.
Ugh, finally! thought Saint. The swordsmen had to just stand behind a wall of spearmen before they gave way. “Come on!” he screamed and come, they did. He parried a cut from one and found a tiny gap to act back. He drove his sword as hard as he could at the Flame’s neck just above the gorget and spun away from another cut made at him and hit the new one straight on his padless shoulder. To his utter amazement, his sword just bounced back from the Flame’s chainmail. The guy only winced when Saint’s cut – with the amount of force he put into it – usually would have cut his hand clean off. “What? How did you?” he muttered foolishly. He was still comprehending what had happened when his foe put on a toothy grin and caught him unaware.
A spear out of nowhere caught him right in the nose between the gap in his barbuta just before his sword made contact with Saint. Saint turned and nodded, gratefully, at the guy who was retrieving his spear from the dead guy’s face. He was nodding back when a sword took him in the belly. He wrenched the spear out and drove it into the jaw of the man who had stabbed him and took him down with himself as he fell to the ground, lifeless. Another Frost soldier tripped and fell right on them and got gutted by a Flame. Saint slit his throat from behind and added him to the growing pile.
Saint looked around him. Most Frosts had already broken into a run. The ones who still stood their ground seemed to be just as confused as him. An arrow that came from above bounced off his breastplate, leaving a dent. He winced. That’s going to leave a mark. He heard Renner grunt behind him. He turned to find him fighting a damn Hero!
Pomeron came to aid his master when Xavi said, “Go on, I can take care of this guy”. His opponent was well-built but small compared to Xavi. Pom obeyed and went to the next guy. This was like a feast for Killer.
Oh, you’re going to ‘take care of me’ huh? Smug bastard. I’m going to kill you or die, trying. Renner dodged, rolled and parried as long as he could but the giant thug wouldn’t give him a moment to bounce back. His cuts came at a breakneck pace. This was the first Hero Renner has had to fight. He had hoped to just dodge and play around until the thug got tired before attacking, but the bastard had kept on cutting relentlessly for what seemed to be an eternity. Renner was the one left panting now. Many had come to his aid. Well, they tried to.
“Just die already, we both know that’s where this is heading. Do we really need all this?” Xavi quipped, with the longest grin Renner had ever seen. Ugh, this guy! Something about him just made Renner absolutely hate him. No, don’t let it get to your head! He continued dodging and narrowly avoided a savage cut. He quite frankly didn’t know what else to do, the others had broken and run but he knew that if he turned even for a second, he wouldn’t be doing any running.
He saw Saint to his right, who came running towards him with his sword raised. He took his eye away for a second and that resulted in a fatal blow coming at him that he couldn’t do anything about, it was too late. Well, this is it then. He fell to his knee, defeated. The sword met with flesh, and blood sprayed everywhere. Is that Nicola? Did he just jump in front of the sword to – to save me? What the-”
“AAAARRGGGHHHHH” the Hero screamed.
Saint had come in screaming and cut at the Hero’s back. Before he could react to everything, Saint grabbed and pulled him up to his feet. The Hero was cut at the back of his neck and was holding it, on his knees, as the two turned and ran back with the rest. The Flames howled and laughed, triumphantly and loud. So loud.
Renner knew they weren’t allowed to attack a running opponent but kept looking back anyway. Am I scared? The thought frustrated him. He felt rage like he never had at his humiliating defeat, at his stupid smug opponent, at this pointless war.
He realized Saint wasn’t running next to him, suddenly. He turned to see Saint having gone back again and coming back dragging something.
“Is that a -”
“It’s a corpse, Ren. Just keep running,” he answered, straight-faced before Ren even finished asking.
And they ran…