The Easel Chronciles: The Golden Gates

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Chapter Twenty-Four

Lines of men stood on the wall gazing out to the massing sea of black uruks and orcs. Teeth chattering and hands burning into the spears, the defenders of the city looked down on the attackers from Novorgord.

Hauma, who stood with Hiiuma, Valyn and Mendrek on the second wall, watched as the never-ending lines of enemies formed a few yards from the wall and gate. All apart from Mendrek were dressed in mail with sword at side.

Slowly, the front lines of orcs broke away to reveal a rider holding a white flag trotting forth. His black mail was the colour of soot. Just before the gate, he stopped and waved the white flag about for all to see.

“May the Lord of Earose come forth,” he said. “The armies of Novorgord wish to spare him his life and those of his people. Come forth and terms will be given to you.”

The defenders were silent. Slowly Hauma went down and got his horse; a massive stallion the colour of soil. Together with Mendrek he went out through the small gap opened in the gate. His standard bearer walked behind him. They reached the man holding the white flag and stopped.

“Leave my lands, with the foul beasts that you ride with, stranger,” Hauma said, looking straight through the visor of the man opposite him.

“The dark lord wants to offer you survival, horse man,” the man snarled.

Mendrek had heard the voice before.

“Remove the helmet, as you speak to the king of these lands,” Mendrek cried.

“As you wish, Wizard,” he replied, removing the helmet. “He will not be king of these lands any longer.”

The hooknose and short grey hair with the well-structured face that stared at them sent a chill down Mendrek’s spine.

“Sedranor, you traitor,” he whispered.

“You know this man, Lord Mendrek?” Hauma asked, astonished.

“How long has it been since the dark lord bought you?” Mendrek asked, ignoring Hauma’s question.

“The dark lord is a good master, Mendrek.”

“How could you?”

“Enough,” roared Sedranor, cutting Mendrek short. “Hauma, the terms the dark lord sent are simple. Give up all the lands beyond the South Weald and your kingship as well.”

“Never.”

“Then,” Sedranor snarled, “you and all your people shall be killed and those that survive, enslaved.”

With those words, he rode back to the armies of Novorgord. Stopping in the gap, he turned back to Mendrek.

“I will be Lord of Eduin when the dark lord takes over the whole of Elasia,” he roared before rushing into the sea of uruks and orcs.

“Your lord would have your head before you achieve that!” Mendrek bawled.

Hauma, Mendrek and the standard bearer entered the city and the gates shut once more behind them, blocking out the armies of the dark lord.

Mendrek and Hauma rode up the steps to the wall. When they reached a strategic point, they turned to face the dark armies. The catapults of Novorgord had moved forward now and were preparing to fire at them.

The men of Earose looked anxiously. The grey clouds gathered in the sky like an omen of bad tidings. First as a patter, then as a thunderstorm, the rain began roaring down. It drenched most of the men and cleared the stench of orc in the air. It was becoming darker, and the armies of Novorgord lighted their torches.

A crack of thunder broke the air, and the orcs, uruks, trolls and evil men howled and roared in the night air.

Mendrek looked around him. He saw some of the men scared and gripping onto their spears too tightly.

The creak of wood and the twangs of rope marked the release of stones into the city. Huge stones roared past them into the city, others hit the wall, shaking it. Some parts of the wall broke off, others stood firm. Some of the men standing on those parts that were broken flew down into the enemy or pelted down to the ground some feet below.

Still Hauma waited as his men looked at him with alarmed eyes. Hauma drew his sword, and it shone in the night like a star.

“Send these foul beasts into the abyss!” Hauma roared.

The catapults of Caerso Uden unleashed stones of their own into the legions of Novorgord. The squeals of the orcs and howls of the uruks told the men of Earose the stones had hit their mark. The two sides exchanged stones for a while before the archers of Earose released a volley of arrows into the catapults.

The sound of horns sounded in the air. Hauma and Mendrek looked to see large siege towers approaching them, pushed by trolls and orcs carrying ladders.

“Shoot down the trolls and those orcs,” Mendrek ordered.

The archers moved up and aimed down. Nevertheless, their efforts were fruitless as the towers crushed into the wall. As the dust cleared, streams of orcs rushed onto the wall.

“Push them back!” Hauma shouted. They hacked and shoved, but still the orcs came. As Mendrek threw an uruk off the wall, he noticed three trolls rushing forward to the small soft stream and following it, holding torches. He knew where they were headed and what they were going to do. Aravoen had tol them to try to dam the stream but Mendrek had argued against it. He now saw why Aravoen had resorted to such a thing. That small stream could very well be the end of Earose.

Taking a handful of men, Mendrek rushed down to the wall where Valyn and Hiiuma stood waiting for orders from Hauma who fought on the wall.

“Follow me with the best you can spare,” Mendrek gasped. “The wall might be breached and broken.”

“Where?” Hiiuma cried, alarmed.

“Soft stream.”

With those words, he rushed off to the soft stream drain. He stood there with the men he had dragged down off the wall.

Slowly more men amassed around him. Hiiuma approached him with Valyn at his side. None of them thought to bring their horses down. They knew it had to be a hand to hand affair and horses would not help. From above they heard Hauma order his men to the second wall. They stood there as they watched throngs of men led by Hauma enter the second wall.

Suddenly, the wall before them was blasted apart. Large boulders hit their ranks. Screams were everywhere around Mendrek. He cast a silent soothing spell and the Earoseians calmed down.

Masses of orcs stormed the first wall. Mendrek had to use all his willpower to keep his mind on the dust-filled gap in front of them. As the dust settled, a large gap in the wall stared at them. Orcs, uruks, trolls and foul men stormed into the city.

“Men of Earose,” Mendrek cried. “War is on your doors and now it is opened. Stand firm and strong. Forward and defend the city.”

The men moved forward and met the evil armies with a crush. The two sides haggled between the gaps. Once the Earoseians pushed and next the armies of Novorgord pushed into the city. Each man fought knowing that his brother would defend him. None was alone; this was a fight for their land. The ferocity of their attack was made clear in their faces. They struck fear in the trolls, uruks and evil men that charged at them.

The armies of the south were amazed by the strong men that did not give ground. Wave after wave of attacks came but no ground.

“Archers!” Hauma bellowed, trying to give his glorious defenders breathing space.

An answer to his cry was a whistling of two thousand arrows in the air. This was followed by the screams and growls of the enemy.

Not to give them any time to relax, the inner gates were flung open. Hauma rode out leading a company of riders to flank Mendrek and his weary defenders. Slowly the Earoseian Calvary advanced.

It was a bloody affair. Horses were cut up but they moved on. The men forced the southern armies to divide their attention.

Valyn saw it from the corner of her eyes. A group of orcs was slowly passing behind the skirmish at the gap. They were headed for the second gate.

She grabbed a handful of battle-hardened men and raced through the lines of defenders. She reached the gate as the first orc entered. She hurled her sword at the orc.

Her men streamed past her, meeting the orcs with a loud bang. She looked around her and saw one of the Earoseian blades. She picked it up and rushed into the melee.

There were three battles raging on the inside of the first wall. Valyn and her handful of men were slowly being pushed through the second gate, but still they held on. For each Earoseian that fell, three orcs fell.

Mendrek was holding the gap with Hiiuma. Together they managed to hold off the uruks. They pushed and shoved whilst firing missiles over the gap. Hauma was on their flank trying to push the orcs from spreading through the gap.

On the wall the defenders from the second wall hurled volley after volley of arrows to the orcs. It was an endless battle, one in which no side seemed to gain advantage. It was slaughter, but more so for the uncoordinated southern beasts.

Suddenly, Valyn’s group got the upper hand. They were gaining ground slowly, forcing the orcs back. The orcs gave in and ran away.

Valyn wasted no time in rejoining Mendrek again. It was a welcome relief to the gap defenders. Bodies were piling up: orcs, horses, uruks and men. But Valyn’s return with her group gave the Earoseians new energy.

This gave them time to breathe. Mendrek looked up to the skies; the sun was rising. In the distance horns sounded.

Again, the blast came up and this time it was fierce and yet soft. The elves had come, and with them the dwarves.

Mendrek looked through the gap for a brief moment, as he stepped on a dying orc. He could make out Aravoen riding at the head of the force. Besides him rode a strong line of elves. Hope had come, hope for Elasia.

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