He was just about to turn back into the cottage when he heard them; screeching, tearing screams coming from the direction of the bonfire.
He froze, uncertain of what he had just heard, but the street continued to echo with the pained cries.
Suddenly the door behind him slammed open and the Arrels rushed out, swords in hand, closely followed by Edrin, who was brandishing a woodcutting axe.
The Arrels acted so quickly it was as though the whole thing was a rehearsed act; without a sound they flipped their swords to a ready position and spreading out into the shadows of the street, and sped toward the sound, heading off into different side streets so as to come in on the sound from different directions.
Edrin nodded to Tauren.” Go. Get up to the fort. Get the garrison down here.”
Tauren stared at him stupidly.
Edrin headed down the side street that Marlan had taken, turning back to Tauren once.” Go!” He yelled, and disappeared into the shadows.
It took the last yell to break through the feeling of . . . empty fear, that had covered Tauren, and he responded to it by instantly sprinting for the fort towering on the hilltop ahead. Something was wrong; this was his chance, his chance to prove himself.
By calling the soldiers from the fort down to the problem?
It sounded lame, but he knew that it had to be done, he quickly had an image flash through his mind; his grandfather slipping a long, straight bladed sword under the seat of the cart, and he instantly knew where his next destination after alerting the soldiers would be. But why did he feel afraid, what was his training for if he felt so fearful. His heart beat rapidly, thumping in his chest, as he ran, trying not to pay attention to the fear welling up inside him.
But there was no alerting to do; even as he approached the fort he saw the gate swing open on oiled hinges, and a dozen heavily armored Arrels pour out, their armor gleaming in the light of the torches they carried, their red and white cloaks flapping behind them as they ran.
They didn’t even pay any attention to Tauren as he ran toward them, and simply went crashing in a dense formation for the side of the town that glowed with the light of the bonfire and still echoed with the screams.
Tauren rushed by them, into the fort, and into the stables, reaching frantically under the seat of the cart for the sword he had seen earlier. He froze, not sure what to do, he could stay here, he would be safe, he could let the others take care of the problem. No, he told himself, he was better than that. He instantly felt the cold handle of the sword, and whipping it out, turned and rushed back out of the gates, running as hard as he could for the glow and screams.
As he got closer; rushing by the buildings and screaming townspeople running frantically away from the meadow; through the dark shadows of the streets, getting closer by the second to the screams and fire, he began to hear the deep battle cries of the Arrels, and the sound of steel on steel: true terror gripped him, terror that made his knees feel as though they were about to buckle, and his mind screamed at him to run away.
If you fail now, you’ll never succeed, he yelled at himself, and pressed on, forcing himself to run faster, closing his eyes and trying to think of anything that might rid him of this mind – numbing fear that coursed through him.
He was in the former meadow almost before he knew it, and what he saw almost made him lose his resolve. He jerked to a stop and stared: the bonfire seemed to have exploded leaving a blackened smoking crater fifty feet across, the white tents that had been erected for the merry festival where now burning husks, and a dozen houses bordering the meadow already had flames flickering among their boards.
YOU ARE READING
The Soul Forge.Fantasy
Book one of the Netheron Chronicles. Welcome to Netheron. A land on the brink of a war in which it has no hope; it's ancient protectors have returned to their own lands, and the land is now left virtually unprotected, helpless in the hands of a m...