The Red Sapphire

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Chapter 57

“Heave!” said Doranand as he and two other men lifted another boulder into the spoon of the ballista. One-on-one combat with the rock men was guaranteed death sentence. Instead, he ordered his men to lure the pebble-brained golems into a central position, where they would then be bombarded by the catapults.

The next lure were coming in and he watched his soldiers raced across the battlefield on horseback and then ducked between a narrow canyon out of the monster’s reach. One of the men wasn’t so lucky and Doranand watched as he was caught by the head picked up and thrown violently into the side of a craggy rock face.

“Release.” he said and the rope of the catapults were cut and he watched as the missiles hit targets. One had its head knocked off and the other three were hit in the chest. He would have just a minute or so before they reformed.

This was pointless, he thought. They need a more permanent death. They started reloading the catapult once more but he noted that there was no sign of reformation. The next herd was coming in, the rock men pounding forward at full speed and then he watched as the green light in their joints faded and they crumbled away. He thought it was a mistake but as he scanned the battlefield it was happening everywhere else. Half of the rock men just stopped and crumbled.

Aliana. She must have found away. He had seen what she’d done. And when the soldiers turned to witness it, they turned back to fight. In a single blast she’d wiped out almost all the Whispers that had begun driving some of the men mad, having them suddenly stop fighting and stabbing themselves. In another she wiped out almost all of the grim. Those wraiths, she could destroy by fire, but the rock men were still a challenge. Fire didn’t burn dirt, so she must have burnt something or someone else.

He noticed a ball of green forming in the distance, it then exploded into tiny packets of light which dispersed into the darkness. The earth then began to shake violently. There was another loud crack and everyone stopped and looked behind them. The eastern sky was lit up by orange light.

The Landing. It had erupted. This couldn’t mean well for the men. They wouldn’t survive the lava flow. “Gather arms and horses. Leave the catapults.” he shouted. “You six,” he said pointing to three grimy-faced Garians and Arnayans who had been working together at the ballistae. “Get to the earls and barons directing each unit, them and the centurions. Tell them that we need to leave now. The Landing is erupting and we need to evacuate the field or we will be burned in the lava flow.”

They found their mounts and went off to carry out his bidding. “The rest of you start moving west now.” The men around him shook their heads and started a hasty retreat. He on the other hand headed in the opposite direction. He needed to find Lania fast. She was in the camp helping with the wounded. She was going to have to leave some of those men behind.

He didn’t like it, but he had to keep her safe. He had only just got her and he was not losing. Not this way.

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