Chapter 44: The Trap is Set
Absalom backed into Rustag and dropped the barrel of black powder onto the hard cobblestone. He winced, but the barrel rolled an inch and then stopped.
“Damnit fool, we’ll both die if we’re not more careful,” he yelled at Rustag.
“Then watch where you’re going,” Rustag grunted and went back into the lamplighter shack for more of the explosives. He returned hugging four of the barrels in his huge arms.
Absalom wondered if the Slaughterman’s lumbering strength would become a burden when stealth, speed, and agility were required for rigging their trap.
Still, four hands are better than two in a pinch. Absalom helped Rustag move the remaining barrels to a small wooden cart and paused to count the stock. His eyes danced over the leather skins of lamp oil, leaking grease that dripped down the wheels, and the thin corded rope hastily thrown on top of it all. “I’m not sure it’s enough, but we don’t have time to scavenge for anymore,” he said.
“I can hear their war drums. Let’s finish this,” Rustag said and peered down the alleyway. The sound of the Amorites’ laughter and slaughter was louder now.
Absalom nodded and beckoned Rustag to follow him down the road.
Rustag took hold of the cart’s tongue like it was a feather and quickly pulled the wagon after him. The two men turned onto the main thoroughfare. The market road curved several hundred yards ahead and the glow from the fires reflected on the windows of the homes lining the street. Absalom turned back and saw in the distance the archway leading to the bazaar.
“This is as good a choke point as any,” Absalom whispered. “The bastards won’t bother scaling the inner walls when they can come right up to the front door. Help me!” He scurried over to the nearby doorway of a house. Rustag followed behind, carrying a barrel of powder and a skin of oil and hemp line. Absalom pulled out a lockpick and coaxed it into the lock. He placed his ear to the door as he began working it.
“Now just one little click and . . .”
Rustag kicked open the door and pushed past him. “It’s open,” he grunted.
Absalom picked up his lockpick and went inside. He surveyed the living area and grabbed the line from Rustag. “I’ll leave you to opening the other doors on this street,” Absalom said. “But before you do, give me the rope there and the oil and powder. I’m going to make a fuse.”
“Will that bit of string burn like you want it to? Seems like it might smolder.” Rustag fingered the line in his hand.
“Normally I’d say you’re right, but if coated in the oil and powder itself, it should burn much more quickly. Grab those tables and chairs and anything else that you see. When this barrel goes off, we need as much debris as possible flying out.”
Within a minute, Rustag had piled furniture up against the windows facing the street. Absalom finished coating the line with oil and powder and with a quick thrust of his dagger, punctured the barrel and placed the end of the fuse into it.
Rustag nodded and hurried out the door to the next house, grabbing more barrels from the cart. Within several minutes they had set charges up and down the street throughout the homes that lined the road. Absalom had covertly placed and tied together the long fuses leading from each house to one single knotted line in the middle of the cobblestone street. As they worked they softly called out to see if any survivors hid in the empty homes. No answers came.
The shadows of the Amorite troops reflected on the path ahead as the torch fires came closer to Absalom’s position.
Absalom and Rustag crouched next to the knotted fuse in the middle of the street.
“It’s not the subtlest ignition point, but it’ll have to do,” Absalom whispered. “All we have to do is light it and run.”
“It will be good to see their bodies flying in burning masses,” Rustag replied.
Absalom glanced at the giant man kneeling next to him. “You’re demented. Do you know that?”
Rustag nodded and smiled.
The black-armored warriors flooded into view, many carrying torches, setting the buildings ablaze as they approached the trapped chokepoint. Absalom watched nervously as smoke billowed from the windows and fiery tendrils coursed up the rooftops near them. One meandering spark could easily set off their fuses but a slight breeze kept the embers from traveling near them.
Thank the maker for small miracles, he thought as he spied a runt of a warrior to the side pound on a cruel-looking war drum made of bone. Others in the front of the horde ran forward on hands and feet like wolves chasing prey.
Rustag grimaced. “They’re barely men. They need to be put down.” He pulled out a piece of flint and stone, ready to start the spark.
“Just a little closer, wait!” Absalom hissed. “We can only do this once.”
The horde marched forward, their torchlight eating away the shadows in the street. Absalom knew they would be spotted within a minute or less.
As the mass drew closer, one of the scouts tripped on the fuse and paused. The warrior slowly pulled the rope up from the street and saw its line arc up to other houses on either side. The warrior crept into the doorway of a house to investigate.
Absalom’s face went white, within seconds the trap would be discovered. He turned to Rustag. “Light it!” Absalom hissed, “and pray to the Maker that we can outrun the charge!” He turned and raced to the house’s doorway, as Rustag lit the fuse.
Absalom could hear the spark chasing on his heels.