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There were a few days of respite before Fazalur launched his siege. We managed to recoup and organize the able-bodied and healthy men and women into smaller units. Messengers had gone forth to muster more soldiers from the villages and towns. Groups appeared, carrying their own home-made banners. The messengers were tasked to stir up the people's love for the land, for the kingdom. Many loved Harald and respected Lisbet.

Wearing the surcoats and livery of the kingdom, our new soldiers braced themselves for more war.

Their wish was granted when the first whizzing missile hit the outer wall of the castle, crumbling a small hole through the parapet. It took out two men, smashing into their bodies like stone into butter.

"He's using a trebuchet, two, if I am not wrong," I said. Lisbet trembled with barely uncontained anger.

I was not wrong. Throughout the day, stone missiles began chipping away at the castle's walls. The damage was growing. We had to shift all the injured soldiers back into the castle. The sounds of shattering stone filled our ears. The castle shook with thunder. The girls were afraid. They, however, wanted to protect the castle. I sent them immediately to the shelter, deep inside the castle.

"But aunt..." Sirana protested hotly. "We are also warriors."

"No," I said sternly. "You are the princesses Lord Fazalur is trying to hurt."

"Aunt Morgan, we are not stupid," Maura countered. "We know! I want to protect my aunt. She's my family!"

Despite her niece's howls, Lisbet placated them before shooing them to the shelter, together with the older women and women with young babies and children.

Something huge crashed and one of the windows caved in, the wood shattering with a loud bang. Lisbet screamed. A round stone, the size of my head, remained stuck in the hole it had made. I growled at the sight of the wolf's head carved into its smooth surface.

"Are we going to lose?" Lisbet kicked away the broken bits of wood with her foot. She looked at me beseechingly for reassurance.

"No," I hugged her tightly. "You told me that you are the daughter of your father. You have the blood of kings and warriors running through your veins. You are stronger than you think. We will not lose this war. We will not."

Fazalur was building towards a final confrontation. I felt it in my bones. He was not going to give up with just bombarding the castle with siege machines and round stones. He intended to chip away at our resolve and will. It was not only war in the physical sense, it was war to destroy our minds. Our bones would break, our flesh ripped asunder, but our minds would be the most precious of all.

As I helped Lisbet clear the debris, I couldn't help but hope for a miracle. We would win the war, but at a terrible cost. 

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