Siege Pt. 1
The trio had finally made it. They had left the city a while ago and had just been walking through open land except for crossing a bridge over a river that stretched out as far as the eye could see, appearing to extend entirely around the castle. Now they looked on at the lush, rolling green hills surrounding the castle only interrupted by a few exotic animals and the wooden, sometimes stone, structures that served as the servant's quarters.
As Alexander insisted on reminding his two compatriots, they could have made it here much quicker, but Bo insisted on taking the 'scenic' route. In truth, he wanted to verify that the kingdom's citizenry had indeed been left cowering in fear in their homes as Alexander previously stated. Now, though, the three stood at a small wooden gate; they had finally reached the castle grounds. They were still a short distance away from the palace, but now the mission truly started.
Leon's grin widened considerably at the prospect of facing off against an army. If he thought this was what being a Marine actually entailed, he would have joined up long ago. Alexander stood upright, his face the picture of determination and resolve, as he fingered the ornate handle of his rapier. Bo, standing between the two taller men, was similarly poised and ready for whatever was about to ensue. He was less than a week removed from his master's death. First Emma, then Taylor and Tyler (the twins), and most recently his teacher, Zande Ming; every time someone close to him was taken away, Bo was always too weak to stop it or avenge them. He needed to get stronger, become the strongest, but first he would fulfill the final promise he made to Master Ming. He would find a place that the few people they managed to save, thanks to Ray, would be able to start over without worry or fear. Even Tala could feel the energy and anticipation in the air as she let out a loud caw from atop Bo's shoulder. This is what she was trained for after all; war.
The group stepped forward, past the waist high fence surrounding the grounds as if it wasn't even there. Leon was going to make a comment about how such a pitiful fence was supposed to keep people out, but was interrupted when Alexander broke the silence instead. "Well, if they didn't know we were here already," referencing the numerous surveillance snails positioned at set intervals within the fence's parameter.
Bo simply ignored them as he continued walking towards the shacks that made up the servant's housing. Instead of venturing through the area and continuing towards the castle, he stopped before the opening that made up the entrance to the horseshoe shaped arrangement of structures. It was a large area, almost like a small village in itself. Bo and Leon looked on normally, but Alexander was confused by the sudden stop.
Before he could question, Bo yelled to seemingly no one at all, "You all can come out now." Leon grinned and Alexander was even more confused as nothing happened. Alexander was really starting to worry about his choice in accepting help from these two as a few more moments passed and Bo was growing increasingly frustrated that nothing happened, but Leon didn't seem fazed in the slightest.
Just as Alexander was about to question the sanity of the two people he'd joined up with, stirring could be heard from the buildings and shortly thereafter a man wearing light armor over his chest and shoulders, covered by a white tunic that had the kingdom's crest on it, with a helmet stood up on the building almost straight in front of them followed by another and another and another until almost 100 similarly equipped soldiers had emerged from the buildings' roofs and doorways each with weapon drawn, making one wonder where they all could have been hiding, and stood facing the three.
"The Imperial Guard." Alexander sounded almost shocked though he hid it well behind his regal image. "Stand down; I am the Prince of this kingdom."
The man who had stood up first spoke in a loud, booming voice, "We know who you are Prince Alexander. Please turn around now or we will have to use force." Alexander looked flabbergasted and more than a little annoyed at the head guard's words. The last line certainly didn't help his frustrations either: "We are only following orders."
Those words made Alexander seethe to the point that his body was actually shaking trying to calm itself down. 'Following orders'? He was in charge of the Imperial Guard, no orders superseded his own. Alexander gripped the handle of his rapier and began to pull it out of its sheath, but was stopped by Bo holding his hand over the hilt.
"We will not back down, so if you would be so kind as to come off those roofs, we can begin. These grounds set up a perfect battleground."
The leader contemplated the course of action. Their numbers certainly dwarfed the three opposing them. Not even the Prince could stand up to all of them simultaneously. But, something still nagged at him. There had to be a better plan, but nothing came to mind and it was clear the three would not retreat nor would they step forward and make themselves easy targets for an ambush; the two sides were at an impasse. Finally, after much deliberation, the Head Guard ordered his men to enter the area and prepare to engage the enemy, they still had the advantage even without an ambush due to the overwhelming amount they outnumbered them by.
"A battle between gentlemen." Alexander mused.
"Yea, insomuch as three versus 100 can be considered gentlemanly."
"No, this isn't about being gentlemanly." Bo stated as he reached into his shirt and pulled out a small sack. He applied a liquid to the bottom of the sac, making it susceptible to being ripped under the weight of its contents, and was holding it so Tala, who was hovering above his shoulder, could grip the bag in her talons.
Once the guards were gathered within the confines of the wooden and stone structures, Bo had Tala fly up far above the crowd and let gravity pull the contents of the sac onto the guards below. Small, round objects slightly larger than bullets bombarded the enclosed area causing a cacophony of explosions as each one impacted the ground below. Each explosion rocked the area, sending multiple soldiers careening and crashing into walls and each other as concussive forces and projectile debris took out the Imperial Guard and many of the buildings in one fell swoop. There was nowhere for the soldiers to run as bomb after bomb shook the area with surprising devastation for such a small weapon. The buildings that were intended to trap the trio now left the many soldiers with nowhere to run and the buildings themselves provided no safe haven as they too fell victim to the numerous bombs.
"Good girl;" remarked Bo as Tala flew back and alighted gently on his shoulder while he watched some of the guards struggling to stand back up, including the Head Guard who had a defiant look on his face, and commanded, "Leon, Alexander...take out the rest."
"Don't kill them; they're still my guards even if they have become misguided."
Leon scoffed as he ran forward. The few remaining guards were no match for Leon and Alexander due to the injuries they'd already sustained and went down quickly and easily.
Bo strolled through the area not even looking at the destruction he'd wrought. He figured some may have died, but the majority of them were likely protected by their armor from any fatal damage. Although it didn't much matter to him either way; Bo got no particular joy out of killing and only did it when he felt it necessary or the person had made him especially furious. Leon and Alexander rejoined Bo just as he was passing by the destroyed remnants of the building at the rear of the encampment. Alexander had made sure to merely disable the men he encountered, while Leon was surprisingly lenient and attacked from a distance that the resulting injuries were painful but shallow.
Once they had completely left the area, Alexander asked Bo, "How did you know they were hiding there?"
Not even looking from their destination, the palace walls which were steady getting closer, Bo answered him in an offhanded manner: "Simple. They had to have seen the ship at the coast, which means they knew we were here. If by some chance they didn't, like you said, they would have found out when we crossed the gates onto the palace grounds. But, since no one was charging at us over some hill, and I figured they would choose to finish this away from the palace if possible, they had to have already been set up. That was the only place for them to hide so I took a shot."
Alexander mulled this over as they walked, considering whether or not Bo was telling the truth. As far as he knew, Bo had given him no reason not to believe the explanation, and he couldn't think of any other way for Bo to have known, but it just didn't feel right. When he told the guards to come out, he sounded too sure to have been guessing. Even if it was based on solid facts it just didn't make sense.
"Hey Prince, your questioning my honesty is going to have to wait." Bo's voice tore Alexander from his thoughts and he looked at him and saw Bo removing the bow from his shoulder.
"Wha- Why? I mean, what are you talking about?"
Bo merely pointed ahead in answer. Ahead of them, just over the horizon, the base of the palace walls was visible and in front of them stood a small army of rebels, outlaws, and mercenaries. The sight was certainly intimidating as each man looked like he had battle experience and was more than capable of holding his own in a fight. But, it obviously wasn't near enough to impress Bo and Leon who had spent years fighting, with only a few friends, pirate crews making their last stop before entering the Grand Line, as once they arrived atop a hill where they could clearly see the open field and the enemies ahead of them, Bo offhandedly remarked "There's not as many as I expected," to which Leon nodded in agreement.
Alexander obviously wasn't listening closely as he stated, "We took out as many as we could, but there was only so much-" before actually realizing what Bo said and responding "If you thought there would be more, then why only bring two people? You must have more bombs left." in an expectant, almost panicky, tone.
"Not that many; now we fight. Besides, there spread out enough that bombs would just cause problems for us." Those words had opposing effects on Bo's partners: Leon had a wide grin- he'd finally be able to let loose, he hoped they could take it- while Alexander looked a tad nervous about facing such odds.
Bo could see the look on Alexander's face though he was trying to hide it behind a regal facade. "Why are you nervous? You're plenty strong enough to deal with stronger than this bunch." he encouraged. "Us three against a small army, maybe I should sit this one out." Bo mused with a smirk on his face.
"You and Princess can both sit out; more fun for me." Leon growled while tapping his sword on his shoulder.
"No, we're all going to fight. Don't worry about holding back, though." That was all the encouragement Leon needed as he began charging straight into the heart of the enemy, sword held behind him. Bo was nearly as excited, but he first had to take care of the enemy gunmen who had been firing but none were good enough to come close at such a distance. In doing so, Bo pulled out and nocked an arrow that had a small hole in the arrowhead just big enough to snugly fit a single bomb. He quickly fired one and then another of these special arrows, both hitting their targets, the base of the lookout tower on each side of the entrance gate causing them to crumble, crushing the gunners inside as the remaining debris fell on some of the nearby men.
Bo then cut the string on his bow, happy but curious that they didn't have more gunners, and ran towards the battlefield, with his staff now in hand, after giving his quiver to Tala who flew off in a random direction.
Alexander, still unsure of the two people whose help he'd enlisted, ran towards another area of the battlefield as well, his pride not allowing him to be outdone by outsiders in freeing his kingdom.
Leon arrived first in the midst of the battle. He charged forward into the mass of outlaws letting gravity pull him as he ran down the hill. He brought his sword from behind him and swung it around at five men that had attempted to quickly surround him. A deep gash was inflicted across the stomachs of the first two, made worse by the forward momentum Leon still had, but the others were more prepared. It took the combined efforts of the next two to block the powerful strike, but with his attack stopped, Leon was open for attack from the final man.
The burly fellow swung his sword down towards Leon, but Leon planted his right foot in the ground and used the remaining momentum from charging down the hill to twist away from the strike, planting his hand in the ground to stop his body from moving. A wide swing allowed Leon to force back the people that had thought that a good opportunity to attack as well as let him gear up for another forward swing.
The two men that had blocked his previous attack jumped back to avoid this one, but Leon made an improbable move and turned his strike into a thrust with the utmost skill skewering the two men effortlessly. As he withdrew his sword, Leon grabbed the front man by the throat, using him as a distraction by throwing him into the crowd that had gathered behind the last of the original five he'd engaged while he ducked and spun in a full circle with his blade out and cut clean through the burly man and gouged deeply into another.
Fully engrossed in the battle, Leon continued his assault with a smile on his face and blood flowing around him while Bo entered the fray as well. Bo would have preferred to use his bow to take down enemies as he approached, but the sheer number of them required that he have the staff ready for immediate use. Launching himself into the middle of the enemy forces, Bo jabbed one end of his staff through the head of a combatant behind him. Pulling the blade out, he stabbed the man in front of him with the other end, and spun the staff around using the small but sharp points at each end to cut down the nearest wave surrounding him. Crouching down in a low stance holding his staff behind him with one hand, Bo prepared to continue his fight.
At the same time, Alexander prepared to take on another portion of the outlaws, but instead of jumping into the middle of them like Bo and Leon, he stopped in front of them, drawing his rapier and taking up a fencing stance as the horde rushed in for the kill.