Chapter 13: The Horde's Assault

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The defenders hunkered down as the Primiad surged towards the walls. Then, without warning, the horde stopped.

"What ... What are they doing?" Kata hoarsely whispered from where she was crouched with a handful of her bodyguards. Longspear frowned as she peered over the wall at the barely restrained mass holding at two hundred metres from the wall.

"I'm not sure, empress," she quietly admitted. "Maybe they're trying to intimidate us by letting us see how powerful they are."

"Or perhaps they've seen the hasty earthen works done at the base of the walls, Majesty," the captain of Kata's guard suggested, a German Shepard variant with grey on his scarred muzzle. Despite wearing a patch over one eye, a souvenir from the fall of the Imperium, he looked ready and capable in battered armor, a worn yet serviceable sword in a gauntleted hand.

"If they have guessed the trenches' purpose,..."

"How could they?" Longspear quickly countered, looking over at the guard captain. "They haven't faced this tactic before."

"Typical human arrogance," the captain just as quickly fired back, his one eye narrowed. "Assuming your tactics are that much more superior than any Fisted."

"That's not what I'm saying," Longspear said with a frown. "For all we know, it was Captain Darkfyre that suggested the tactic, not van Joss. Regardless, all reports gathered from every encounter we've had with the Primiad and their monstrous siege beasts indicate that no effort or tactic was previously employed against them. So we have to assume they have yet to face siege trenches."

"Soon the question will be moot, captains," Kata pointed out. "The Primiad won't wait long to attack. Patience is not in their nature. When they do, we shall see if they will deploy those monsters against us or not and in that moment we will have our answer."

Longspear's frown deepened.

"Which again forces me to ask you to reconsider your decision to be on the front line for the first attack, empress. The royal family has been decimated and you are unmarried, with no heir available to carry on your legacy. If you were to fall here, the Imperium ..."

"Would carry on, as it always has," Kata interjected to say. "The Imperium hasn't always been ruled by my family over it's long history. There have been many Houses that have stepped forward to take over rule when another has faltered, a practice stretching all the way back to the early days of our kingdom, shortly after we rose to awareness in the Burn's hideous wake."

She paused to look out over the battlefield and its enemy host.

"If I indeed fall here, there remains enough of the Imperium's Great Houses that a new ruler would be quickly and smoothly chosen."

"I must agree with the human, Your Majesty," the guard captain said in a low yet earnest voice. "You risk your safety here. And not enough of the House scions survived the invasion to ensure any sort of transition. Your untimely demise would only serve to trigger a succession struggle that would throw the surviving Great Houses into chaos when it is stability and strong leadership that we need. Please." The captain leaned forward, his expression equal parts intensity and concern.

"Please, Your Majesty, let my guards take you to a place of safety."

Before Kata could reply, a low, hoarse horn sounded from the Primiad host. Instantly the entire horde burst into raucous hooting and screeching. With good reason: with steps that made the ground shudder, the siege beasts stepped out of the holes in the Primiad ranks made for them and began to ponderously advance towards the walls.

The assault had begun.

Uthon grimly watched from his position near the main gates as the massive siege beasts moved towards them. With armor plating protecting their heads, they didn't need to focus on a weak point to attack. They could easily assault any section of the wall with equal success, making them that much more devastating. Not only that, but they themselves were well protected, not only by the metal and strapping their handlers has attached. But by natural armor as well; thickened hide, short neck, powerful shoulders and hips, and low enough to the ground that their bellies weren't exposed. 'I don't see any weapon we possess having the power to stop That,' he darkly mused.

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