Keon had knelt on the ground and tried to pull Azzara into his arms. She screamed and cried hysterically until he eventually managed to gently pull put her down and embrace her. She cried into his chest. Keon looked out onto the battlefield. The Fiondan army had clashed against the Imperials. Farron and rolled up toward them and shouted “We need to move! Now!”
Keon picked up Azzara in his arms and started to run; with Farron not far behind. Loose arrows whizzed past his head, but he did not falter. He needed to get Azzara past the fort and onto to the main road. As they got closer to the fortress, Keon was pushed back with incredible force. It was all he could do to hold on to Azzara as tumbled backwards. Keon got up slowly, lifting Azzara up with him. Standing in front of him was the white-haired man who was speaking before. He stood over them, his sword drawn, and a wicked smile on his face.
“I’ve finally found you little lamb,” he said, “You belong to me now!”
The Imperial General charged toward them. Keon did not know what to do. He had Azzara in his arms, and the man moved with inhuman speed. Just as he was about to fall upon them, he was blasted away with an invisible force. A man with light brown hair, dressed in full plate armour had hurried toward them.
“Come with me if you want to live!” he shouted.
Farron had already begun to follow the knight. Keon balanced Azzara in his arms and started to sprint after the knight. He was leading them straight to the fort. As they got closer to the fort gate, Keon noticed that the Fiondans were retreating. They were falling back into the fort as the Imperials pushed forward. The brown-haired man was through the gate first, followed by Farron. Keon rushed in just as the gate was closing.
Keon looked back through the gate and saw that the Imperials were pulling back.
“They’re going to set up camp,” Farron said suddenly “They will regroup, reorganise and then…”
“And then they will attack”
Azzara sobbed into Keon’s neck softly. The wooden contraption still stood up on the field with Vallarie’s body yet nailed onto it. Her head pinned to the wood with an arrow for all to see.
Tarius burst into the command tent. He was covered in blood and suffered from a minor head injury. The battle was fierce, but he fought just as fiercely. The Fiondan’s fought like men possessed. They were angry. Why wouldn’t they be? After what Marcus had done.
Marcus was already in the command tent. He was lounging on a high backed chair with his feet on the table. He sipped from a goblet and Marcus stomped toward him.
“Imbecile!” Tarius roared.
“If I had known what it was you had intended to do I would have stopped you immediately!”
“And that is why you were kept out of the loop my dear Tarius.”
“Such insolence! You defiled an honourable knight, mercilessly killed her in front of her people! You have destroyed any chance we had of gaining the trust of the people once we win this war!”
“There is no honour in war Tarius. It is either kill or be killed. The Fiondan army broke as soon as she died. They scurried back behind their walls. I had thought you would be happy.”
“Happy? The only thing that will bring me happiness is to see you and that harlot niece of yours exiled from the Empire! I don’t know how you wormed your way into the imperial hierarchy, but I never liked you! I don’t trust you! You disgust me, Marcus!”
“I am well aware of your feelings Tarius. However, your feelings do not interest me. We defeated Gillia because of me. We are going to defeat Fiondan because of me. You are weak, Tarius. Too weak to lead a military campaign and too weak to rule an Empire. I admit I feel that young Mario could do a much better job once your father finally stops breathing.”
Tarius drew his sword and slammed against the table. The wood shattered under the force. Marcus did not flinch.
“When this war is over, Marcus, I’ll be coming after you. So you had better watch your back. I am not a man to be taken lightly.”
Tarius stormed out of the command tent to gather his commanders. It was time to plan the siege of Fort Arlcliff.