The organised elves put the remaining dwarves down, seeing wisdom in dwarf familiarity with fighting on foot.
The dwarves formed small compact squares in the middle with the elf army dividing in half to flank them. Edel rode on the right as his son rode on the left. Aravoen and Leo waited behind the rest hoping to make a charge at the gap they saw in the wall with the few men they had about them. Close to five-hundred horse.
The horns sounded the charge, and forward they went. The hordes did not know what had hit them.
Slithbron and his brothers were at an advantage. Their height made them hard targets. Using this they hemmed at the rear of the hordes, forcing them in trying to drive them back to the gate and gap in the wall. The two forces struggled, the dwarves fresh for the kill and the hordes hungry for survival.
Aravoen and Leo used the distraction to ride unseen for the gap where they could hear Hauma and Mendrek bellowing for courage. Valyn pushed an orc back through the gap and glimpsed them. The light returned to her eyes and with renewed strength she flung herself back to hacking at the masses.
The horses cut a thin line of the orcs avoiding the Earoseian blades. They let the Earoseians take the first two lines.
Twice Aravoen was saved from a fall by Elben’s pure instinct and twice he reacted in blind rage. But the Earoseians were now emerging, gaining ground from the gap.
Hauma led the charge, his sword stained red with no hint of silver along its blade. Aravoen then rushed into the gap, separating from Leo to see what was on the walls, knowing the defenders there might also well be weary.
Victory was swift. The hordes of Novorgord were caught unaware and were disorganised. As Aravoen led the riders of Elvhelm through the gap to the aid of the men defending it, he saw Sedranor. The shock and anger that rose in him could have destroyed the city.
Aravoen charged down Sedranor and fought him so fiercely that orc and elf alike stayed away from the duo. Wound for wound, Sedranor fought, but Aravoen was younger and faster. With a flick of his sword, he had Sedranor on his knees. He ordered the men of Earose to take him to the king’s hall.
Soon calm returned to him. He saw Ralyn leading a small company of men to the gate and throwing the ladders down. She managed to set fire to the siege towers that were next to the gate.
Leo was fighting the hordes that were still out of the city, with the dwarves and his kindred. They hacked, stabbed, parried, blocked and lunged at the orcs, uruks, trolls and evil men.
Aravoen led his elves up to the second wall, clearing the path. Their horses were knocking orcs aside as their blades and arrows slashed at the skins and armour of the attackers. The defenders on the wall cried with joy and swung into the thick of action more violently.
“Lord Hauma,” he called over the red field.
“Aravoen,” Hauma screamed from below his standard in the thick of things, men about him gathering and fighting on.
“Earose is defended; fight on, we might soon see it fall. Ride out further into the hordes,” Aravoen said. “Ride out for your people. Mendrek defends the gap in the wall. Ralyn clears the gate and Leo fights the hordes outside. Ride out smashing their centre. Use your position for your people.”
“Men of Earose, knights of Caerso Uden,” Hauma said. “Ride for honour, glory and death. Honour in life, glory in death.”
“Aru! Aru!” his knights bellowed their savage and death hungry war cry, in reply.
Slowly forming two thick lines around the standard of the king, the horses of Hauma pushed forward. Swords swinging and shields clanging they threw themselves into battle. Their battle cries were loud and strong. Whichever of the attackers saw the blood thirsty eyes of desperate men defending their land was struck with terror.
“Honour in life, glory in death. Charge.” The knights rode out from about the standard of their king, bringing death to the orcs, and Mendrek looked up with renewed hope and began fighting again.
Pushed through the gap, attacked from the wall and killed in the south, with a wall to west, the Novorgord hordes were trapped in a circle of enemies.
With no space to manoeuvre, the orcs began to fight with the uruks and evil men. The trolls were rallied on by Ralyn who fought more fiercely than anyone did that day. She parried, threw javelins at the trolls and manoeuvred through them, slicing their legs.
Valyn looked at her sister, who raged like a lioness and was as swift as a cheetah. She was astonished and impressed. Victory was theirs long after the sun bathed the walls of Earose gloriously.
The walls were blackened and sections of it were gaping. Signs of the great struggle of the previous hours; bodies of orcs, trolls, uruks, and evil men lay everywhere. Elves, dwarves and Earoseians were amongst the dead, but the day was won and Earose was safe.
* * *
As the sun pulled itself higher into the sky, its brilliant rays shone on the field, which was multiple colours of red, black and stone. Bodies of trolls, orcs and uruks lay in huge heaps, whilst the evil men stood in chains. Ralyn stood with Leo, Mendrek, Edel, Slithbron and Mindacil before the gate of the city.
Aravoen rode towards them with Hauma, Valyn and Hiiuma at his sides. They all stopped before the gate.
Hauma looked at his daughter, whose hair was cut shorter, armour the colour and disgusting odour of dried blood. She held her head high and did not meet his cold disapproving stare.
“Father,” she replied.
“You could have died, Sister,” Valyn said.
“But I did not,” Ralyn snapped, turning to her sister. “Forgive me for going away. I had to, besides if I had not gone, maybe the wall would have fallen and been breached.”
“Ralyn,” Hauma snarled. “You must…”
“She has a point, My Lord,” Aravoen cried. “She had to leave, and she saved the wall. Remember that she is your daughter and she has proved today, more than anything, that she is your daughter. Her armour is testament to all those that she has slain this very day.”
“a very disgusting statement if I might add,” Leo said.
There was a silence and Leo spoke. “Hauma, King of Earose, you should get to know your second daughter, she is more than you know.”
“You all have a point,” Hauma said. “Ralyn, this matter will be discussed later. Now Ralyn, go with your sister, and bring the people out. Hiiuma, send riders to Rauma and the others, tell them to bring their men here. Ethelberd, gather the bodies of those dead and tonight we shall hail the victorious dead.”
“I am proud of you, sister.” Valyn stunned everyone with her statement. Aravoen looked from ralyn to Valyn, not sure he had heard the words correctly.
“Thank you.” Ralyn whispered, stifling the tears of gratitude.
* * *
Aravoen stood with Hauma, Leo, Mindacil, Mendrek, Slithbron and Rauma who had just arrived with a small part of his troops. The rest would make a return to their city in days following.
They all stared down at the rugged being sitting in the city dungeons. Sedranor was a shadow of his former self. The pomp and pride was gone, replaced by an angry scowl and sadness in him.
“Why?” Aravoen whispered. Sedranor looked up to him, a small smile escaping his lips.
“You are a fool,” he spat. “You and all your line. Serving the dark lord was better than serving your family.”
“And the rest of Eduin?” Aravoen snapped.
“Elasia, Aravoen,” Leo corrected him.
“Elasia shall fall soon.” Sedranor laughed. “And I will be the Lord of Eduin. My master will let me go once he is done with all you people.”
Sedranor paused and his smile grew wider. “My master’s plans are a secret and I will not let you know.”
“Sedranor,” Mendrek said. “So it was always a ploy to oust the line of kings. Always against the Lady Eleonor.”
He nodded in acceptance.
“We shall leave him here to rot, My Lords,” Aravoen said stonily.
“Leo, maybe it is safer if he is held in the cells of Elvhelm,” Mindacil added.
“Yes, but I will have to return here for him,” Leo said. “He cannot come with us.”
Aravoen moved ahead into Sedranor’s face and smiled.
“In the lands of the elves maybe you can be saved.”
Aravoen swept aside suddenly and looked at Hauma.
“Keep him close and watch him.”
Hauma nodded and motioned for all of them to walk away and leave Sedranor be.
* * *
Aravoen sat in The Tent, with Leo, Slithbron, Mendrek and Mindacil. The others were in the city setting defences and welcoming the men who came from the lands out of the city.
“So Moldrin fell?” Leo asked.
“Yes, it was not easy,” Mendrek said. A silence gripped the small tavern where they were sitting.
“Well,” Aravoen said, turning to Slithbron and Mindacil, “you return north to your woods and mountain.”
“Aravoen,” Mindacil said, “your actions have intertwined our fates more than you know. I believe my father intends to stay here until Novorgord falls. If he does so, I will travel with you and lend my bow to your tasks. As for the dwarves, they love their mountains like an eagle loves its nestlings.”
“There you are wrong,” Slithbron broke in. “We intend to send our armies down to Guardon. As for me, I pledge my axe to you, Aravoen. You are the first person to get elves and dwarves in the same army after Eldon did it many years ago.”
“Sad but true,” Mindacil sighed.
“That makes five for the journey to Elvhelm,” Leo remarked.
“When do we leave for Elvhelm, My Lord?” Aravoen asked
“In the morning,” Mendrek said.
“Will I ride on your back, master elf?” Slithbron asked Mindacil.
“If you keep cool and calm,” Mindacil said with a smile. “Then I do not see why not.”
“Like you said,” Slithbron said. “Sad and true.”
* * *
The celebrations that night were colourful and joyous. As the night dragged on, Aravoen and Mendrek stood at the back watching the crowd.
“Sarzgat will not take this lightly,” Mendrek said.
“He is not foolish, Mendrek,” Aravoen said. “He will bide his time. Right now, I fear more for Ebrithia. It is so isolated and my acceptance will not be that easy to come by.”
“Do not worry.” Mendrek smiled. “We will cross that bridge when the time comes.” He chuckled. “Or, you will, when the time comes.”
“Well, we must all get rest.”
They both walked back to the hall where they had spent the night a few days back.
As they made their way across the hall, Aravoen spied Ralyn and Leo talking intimately. Aravoen was too tired to see how the elf prince and human princess looked at each other.
No sooner had he lain down, than sleep took him in its sweet, tender, loving hands.