Chapter 47: By Fire and Blood
Absalom sprinted to the doorway ahead of the burning fuse and tackled the nearby Amorite scout from behind, slamming the shrieking warrior to his belly. The man spun to his back with surprising speed and clawed at Absalom’s throat. The warrior’s nails dug deep into Absalom’s neck, locking into a vice grip on his Adam’s apple. Absalom tried desperately to rip the warrior’s hands away.
“Drakkath Ak Guluz!” the scout screamed at him and smiled a vile grin. The fuse’s spark burned past them as they struggled, and Absalom knew that in a few seconds time, they would both be blown apart. He loosened his grip on the scout’s hands, allowing the pressure on his throat to increase. The attacker broadened his grip to get a better hold and Absalom saw his opening. In an instant he shoved his palmed hand up against the killer’s nose, snapping the bridge and driving the bone straight into the scout’s brain. The warrior fell back and collapsed on the wooden floor.
Absalom staggered to his feet, jumped over the body, and raced for the door. There, at the doorstep, he saw the army of Dagon rampaging past.
Without hesitation, Absalom burst into the street and was instantly grabbed from behind. Savage faces filled his vision and Absalom felt daggers slicing across his back and legs despite his own parries.
Rustag grabbed his arm and pulled him free. Absalom looked up to see his comrade had four enemy soldiers on his back yet he still moved like the wind ahead of the mob. Not fast enough. Run you fool run!
There was a split second of silence before Absalom saw explosions of fire burst from every doorway and window on the street. The invaders were thrown like rag dolls in all directions. Others were engulfed in flames and impaled by flying debris. Then the closest house behind them exploded. Absalom felt himself being lifted off the ground and thrown ahead. The fast-approaching cobblestone filled his sight before it went black.
A fog of screams and explosions filled his mind for a time until Rustag’s hand swatted Absalom’s cheek, waking him from the stupor. His vision cleared and his hearing slowly returned as he saw the burning devastation around him. A full two-thirds of the attackers were dead or dying and farther down the street many others were fleeing back to the Ambassador’s Square. The smoldering crack and echo of the explosion filled his ears until Rustag’s great hand grabbed him by the back of his ragged, bloody shirt and pulled him away from the flames. Absalom gazed at the burnt bodies around him. No one would bar their way now. The giant looked down at him.
Absalom barely nodded.
“Good enough. We just sent the bastards a little love note. Let’s return to the king.”
Rustag helped Absalom to his feet but he immediately collapsed again. The slaughterman grunted and lifted Absalom over his shoulder.
Absalom saw Rustag’s side was scalded and bleeding. The man must have a heart the size of a behemoth. “Thank you, I . . .” he gasped.
“Shut up. You talk too much,” the slaughterman mumbled.
Absalom smiled as they made their way back to the last barricade.
* * * * * * * *
King Braeden looked over the burning maelstrom and smiled to his guard, “Our city burns, yet she gives us a chance at life.”
“What now, my lord?” a guard asked.
“There is no other defense. We must not lose this advantage. We must chase them back from the streets to the square and out to the docks. Ready my horse. Bring the last of the guard and send a messenger to Egan at the eastern gate. He can rally what forces he has and bring them to the Lion’s Mouth. We’ll cut the Amorites off from their ships and finish this.”
The guard nodded and moved down to spread the word. The King took a deep breath and clenched his fists. The fires of his youth burned again in his chest. He pulled his blade, Teacht Riocht, from its scabbard and saw the reflected glow of the flames dance across its tip. The names of his ancestors etched onto the blade gleamed in the fire light.
“Tonight, you and I will have our final dance together.”