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Ch. 5 Unexpected help

Carefully Zo. climbed her way down the tower and safely jumped down halfway from the ground and landed silently, her boots made no sound. Sky smiled at the Witch, then walked to the entry of the Hall signaling the job was done. Raven gestured that she understood the nodded to Keira. Sighing in relief, the Hunter smiled behind her mask. Strom clouds began to block out the sun and the wind began to pick up, soldiers began taking their posts. " What have I done?" Selene wondered aloud as she was being dressed in to her battle armor, " Who am I Halthore?" The leader handed her, her sword then answered, " You are our Queen and we fight for you gladly. We will follow you even to death my Queen."

Down in the armory, Keira slowly began to dress for battle. Carefully she dawned a breastplate and secured her belt around her waist, placing her blades in their designated loops. She secured another blade and her bow into a quiver on her back.  Finally she dawned her cloak and fastened the mask back around her neck slowly drawing it up after she lifts her hood. " You take too long." Raven commented from the door, handing her the small dagger on the shelf. " And yet my cloak stays on in a fight." Keira said back. The two friends smiled at each other as Sky and Zo. entered. " We must get to the gates, I fear something approaches." Sky warned. All four walked to the wall and looked over the gate seeing the weather take a turn for the worst. " The weather will not favor us this time." Zo. stated as soldiers marched down the wall towards their post. All was silent as night began to fall and Rowan landed on the Hunter. Selene made her way to Keira and the two spoke over the plans made earlier.

The silence was broken by horns sounding out in the night. " Those are no Goblin call." said Zoe, rushing toward the gate. Keira too ran to the gate passing the Queen without notice. " Open the gate." Keira ordered. As the great wooden gate opened shock ran through everyone. For instead of the enemy, two hundred Witches dawning the green and silver of the forest of Āldile, ready for battle. " A gift from Lady Jade." The Witch in command said. Smiling at the Witches Keira and Zo. embraced the leader and the soldiers took their place with the Vampires. Selene was amazed and thankful that some form of helped had arrived.

Once more an uneasy silence covered the land and lightly it began to rain. The beating of drums and a shrill cry of a horn pierced the silence as Goblins marched forward. In front of the gate, a few feet away, the enemy formed in rank stood, the drummers still beating. The rain became heavier as the drums halted, archers at the front of the lines drew their bows, awaiting the order to kill.

On the wall Keira stood sizing up the enemy. " Aim beneath the helmets." She ordered. " They will try to take us. They seek an easy victory, but they shall not have it. On this day we fight and we shall give them a fight worth remembering." She spoke with such passion that rallied the confidence of the soldiers." Steady !" Zo. ordered the archers as they too drew their bows.

With a cry from their horn the Goblins marched to the gate. " Fire!" Keira commanded, and thousands of arrows came down upon their enemy. " Fire!" Zo. commanded the Witches and arrows met their targets. Goblins fell, but more seemed to take their place. " Brace yourselves !" shouted Keira, " Draw your swords and fire at will!" As the city prepared, Goblins began firing back with such ferocity that Vampires were being struck left and right.

They marched forward and released grapples, hooking them to the wall. Rain was thundering down upon them as the Goblins climbed up to the wall. The first Goblin set foot on the wall and was struck down, but it was to late, more began to breach the defense. Raven and Zo. fought side by side covering each other as the enemy ascended upon them.

Sky and Keira held their ground and with deadly efficiency their blades hit their targets. Keira lowered her hood and ducked as a dagger that Sky threw hit its target between the eyes. " Be careful Hunter." Sky smirked, helping Keira take down two opponents. In the distance Zo. spotted a group of Goblins hauling a large trunk from the forest straight towards the gates below. " Brace the gate!" the Witch bellowed. Soldiers began piling themselves against the doors and Selene had a second flank set up incase of a breach.

"Hold steady!" the Queen ordered as the soldiers felt the impact of the trunk against the doors. " Keira you need to get out there, the city is breached. They must not break the gates." Selene called out. Looking over the wall, Keira spotted a way down to the enemy. " And where do you think you're going without me?" Raven called behind. Smiling the two made their way to the back of a tower and slowly climbed down to a ledge just beside the attackers. The two jumped from the shadows and attacked the Goblins, swords clashed and the enemies ranks were broken. Soon more help arrived as Keira, Sky, and Raven again turned into the beasts inside them.

As the Goblins scattered from the gate the three turned back. An arrow whizzed past Raven and hit a Goblin square in the chest as he ran towards them. " Nice shot Zo.." Sky called up as the Witch fired upon returning Goblins. " Get back in, the west wall needs help." Selene ordered while striking down her attacker. Rain continued to fall and no end to this battle was in sight. Fighting their way to the west wall, spears flew past their heads and soldiers from both sides were falling. " Finally help is here." Arrow called to them.

Keira fired an arrow and saved the Vampire from being cut in two. Thunder clapped in the distance as they fought on. " The Queen wishes to speak with you Keira." A messenger called out. Keira made her way to the Hall and saw that Selene's arm was bandaged. " Do not look so worried, it is just a cut." Selene said. Keira bowed, her wet hair dripping on the stone floor. " If the east wing is taken, order them all to fall back to the Hall. Do you understand me Hunter." The Queen spoke sternly. Keira again bowed while saying " Yes." Then left to oversee the east flank.

Mika was wounded and being carried off by the time Keira arrived. Halthore greeted her then resumed fighting. " Halthore if this wing is taken we must fall back to the Hall." Keira relayed the message. " Well then the east will not fall will it." Halthore cracked and fired upon oncoming Goblins. Together the two fought along the others side. On the west wing Raven and Sky were pushing back Goblins and Zo. was bracing the gate once more.

Relentlessly the enemy came and began breaching further into the city as the grapples began to take over the wall. " Push back!" Sky yelled to the Vampires, and seeing her determination the soldiers found a new sense of energy. The west wing was holding off the Goblins and even slowed the rate of the enemies progress. "Fall back!" Keira ordered as the east wall was being overrun. The Vampires retreated to the Hall or to the west to help brace the gate. Halthore was struck from behind with a spear and stood no more.

Keira sprinted to the Queen. " The east is taken Queen. We could not hold them." Keira reported sadly. Selene watched as the wounded were being brought in. " Brace the gate and fall back to the inner city." She ordered. Raven and Zo. were both keeping the men at the gate and helped brace against it. Sky and Arrow continued their fight on the wall. Arrow was struck in the back and fell. Sky roared and swiftly struck down the Goblin. Kneeling by his side Arrow spoke up to the Wolf.

" I am glad to have fought by your side Wolf." Arrow smiled then breathed no more. Sky watched as soldiers fell before her and lay on the ground, grabbing her blade she attacked and kept the enemy at bay. " Fall back!" Keira ordered the Wolf. " Brace the gate or fall in to the inner city and prepare for a defense."

Sky nodded and held the gate. With a last heave, the Goblins splintered through the doors and descended upon them. "Retreat!" Keira cried out, " Fall back to the inner city, we must protect the Hall." Soldiers began racing back towards the Hall and formed ranks. Closing the last barrier between them, the Vampires retreated to the Hall, preparing for a final stand.

" My Queen the gate is gone, they have taken the city. We must fight." Raven pleaded. Selene looked around and smiled seeing that all were ready for one last try. "At dawn fight with me. Sky sound the horns we will give one last push. Keira fight by my side." Grinning, Keira drew the blade from her left side and lifted it in honor. " Gladly Queen. I will fight along your side." Dawn broke as Sky ran to the tower and blew the horn. A deafening yet sweet melody rang from it and rang throughout the mountains. Keira spotted Rowan as the bird landed on the ledge of the window, and a mysterious glint sparkled in her eyes as she smiled. " Form lines!" Selene commanded and the army complied filling in ranks and readying battle formations. The rain broke and the sun peaked from the mountains, lighting the city and lifting the hearts of the weary soldiers.

Pounding on the wall grew thunderously, Goblins ready to take the Hall and claim victory formed on the other side. Soldiers began pounding their fists against their armor, creating a beat as though from a drum and cheered as the horn rang out once more. Silence took the other side and fear gripped the Goblins as the sounds crescendoed throughout the city. Zo., Raven, and Keira joined the pounding and Selene laughed victoriously at the rhythm the soldiers created.

Smiling Selene took the lead and guards prepared to open the wall. " A beautiful death!" Selene cried out and the army echoed her, "Death!" rang through the mountains and Goblins began backing away from the wall.

The wall flew open and the army cheered as Selene and Keira swiftly ran through. The army flooded through the wall and the Goblins were overwhelmed. Triumphantly the Vampires pushed through and began to overrun the city, taking back their home. Goblins began to flee as the army came down upon them with vengeance, sparing no one in their path. The enemy was pushed out of the city and the Vampires cried out in triumph, but the endless army the Goblins had began to regroup and reform.

Rowan flew overhead and cried out as the sun rose higher. Looking out Keira shouted, " Now let us give them a battle to truly remember! Form rank and do not break it. Today we shall have victory!" Once more the Vampires cheered and lifted their weapons in jubilance ready to fight. Archers began firing down upon the Goblins and soldiers began to charge the enemy head on. The faint beating of drums caused all to fall silent and look ahead. The enemy formed a defense for their back as the beating drew nearer and louder.
Ch. 6 Redemption of Men

As the rain continued to fall, dawn came and the camp came to life preparing to move. Supplies were packed up and gear was distributed amongst the men. The King mounted his horse and rode through the camp, overseeing final preparations. Iomheir helped Macnair gear up in his armor. " Lucky we brought armor for one your size." Iomheir joked as the helmet engulfed the young Vampire's head. " My size, even this helmet is to large. But it will have to do, for I want to fight." Macnair pouted.

Laughing the two made it out of the tent and gathered their horses. " Witches were sent to Diantherine as aid." Allister announced as he fed Rowan. Kynthelig smiled at the news.   "Good." he said, "Then they shall last the night. Let us hope we can make it to the city by daybreak tomorrow or else I fear there will be no one left to aid." With that all soldiers mounted their horses and began the journey to the Vampire city.

Long and hard they rode not once stopping. The riders pushed their horses and swiftly they made it across the land. Faint sounds of battle were heard throughout the trail. Through night they rode and made it to the base of the mountains, the rain began pouring down. Swiftly up the pass they rode and cries from the battle became more and more clear. The sound of swords clashing and the thundering of armor meeting armor filled the silence and covered their own noise.

Rowan grew restless and Allister let him fly, hoping against all odds that the Vampires held. Dawn began to break and the sound of a horn engulfed the air, Allister and Macnair smiled, knowing the horn. Through the woods they rode and at the top of the hill soldiers formed lines, the King and Allister in front. " Look at that, the Vampires live." Kynthelig observed. " Beat the drums! Let those filthy Goblins know fear!" the King ordered.

At the sound of the drums the Men descended upon the Goblins, roaring mightily. Vampires cheered, seeing the Men gave them the energy they needed to push harder. Both armies fought together and began dwindling the Goblins numbers to size. Iomheir and Macnair striking from their horses and Allister leading with the King pushing the enemy against the Vampires. Spears and shields were splintered and broken while Goblins tried to flee the wrath of the armies. Raven and Zo. met up with Iomheir and together they struck down their enemies. Sky rejoined the battle, cutting through any
Goblin that lay before her blade.

Selene cried out in joy as victory came closer into sight. " Show them no mercy! Let us finish this!" the Queen commanded running forth blade drawn. Keira ducked spears and swords while fighting her way through the pass. Striking her opponent in the chest, Keira ran past the swinging swords.

Sky was locked in a fight with two Goblins when Iomheir's blade ran through its back. "Thanks" the Wolf smiled up and kept fighting. Raven covered Zo.'s back as the Witch darted through the battle grounds to help Allister. Macnair was doing battle with a commander of the Goblins as an enemy archer had him in his sights. Keira spotted the archer but was to far to take him down, silently cursing, she ran toward the Vampire. Diving in front of the prince, Keira was struck in the abdomen by the arrow as he whirled around.

Slowly the Hunter rose, breaking off most of the shaft of the arrow,  and went after the archer. Macnair unaware that her friend was hit continued battling the foe before her. Iomheir and Macnair rescued Raven from an ambush. Soon the enemy was flushed from the battle field and the army cheered victoriously as the Selene and Kynthelig raised their swords in triumph. The wounded were tended to and the dead were gathered and respectfully burned.

The Moon shone brightly in the mountains as the living gathered into the Hall for a feast. Selene sat on her throne with Kynthelig, Macnair, Gwyneth, and Allister by her side. Drinks were passed all around and the Vampires called for a speech, banging on the tables with enthusiasm. Rasing her hand the Hall fell silent and Selene stood before them. "My brothers, guests, and kin, we are victorious." Selene spoke, "With great honor Men have come and redeemed themselves, proving that we all can still work together, and it seems Lady Jade is willing to set aside past grievances." The Hall erupted in cheers. " Today we fought with valor and unity. This battle shall be told across the land for ages to come." Selene continued, "Let us honor the dead by rebuilding and working together. To the triumphant dead!" The Queen finished and rose a goblet while the Hall echoed her.

Men and Vampires shared the Hall peacefully and shared their battle stories. Raven and Zo. were telling Gwyneth about her brothers valor and courage during the battle while Iomheir boasted to the Queen how strong the prince stood. Selene smiled as her son was honored by even the most seasoned soldier. Music and laughter filled the Hall and Sky was being thanked by many Vampires, including those who disrespected her during the council.

"You did well my son." the King praised Iomheir, "One day you shall make a fine king." Iomheir beamed at his fathers praise and bowed deeply. Allister smiled as he saw Macnair dancing with Arrow's daughter, laughing and enjoying himself.

"Where is Keira?" Sky asked Raven. Raven lowered her mask and took a sip of ale that was offered to her before answering. " She most likely snuck off somewhere in the city for quiet. She goes off for few hours to honor those fallen then she turns up mysteriously. No questions asked and she acts completely normally." Raven finished then walked over to Allister.

Zo. and Selene began speaking and Iomheir found Sky. " You fought well. Thank you for saving me from that spear." Iomheir said. Sky blushed a bit, then looked back outside. " No need to thank me, I should thank you for you saved me twice." She said smiling. Selene began singing a song to honor the dead and Zo. began playing a violin slowly to match the song. The Hall was quiet and all had their heads bowed in respect. When Selene was finished Zo. began to play a more lively tune and dancing resumed.

Allister sat back at the table as the Queen approached him. "I have to thank you Allister. If not for your defiance and orders I fear we would not have made it another day." the Queen sighed and sat next to the Wizard. Allister gently looked at her then smiled. " It was my plan yes, but the disobedience goes to Keira, Sky, Raven, and Zo.. They were the ones who lit the beacon." The Wizard laughed and smoked his pipe. Selene watched the crowd and smiled as her people were enjoying themselves. Gwyneth sat by her mother and asked of the battle and congratulated her mother. "It is not me they celebrate my darling. Keira not Selene led us to victory." The Queen sighed. Gwyneth looked at her mother strangely. " What do mean mother?" The young Vampire looked confused. " Nothing darling, I am just tired. Go join the dancing." Selene reassured her daughter and watched as Gwyneth joined Zo. by the fire.  

Sky watched as stories were told and dancing continued, but could not help the feeling in her gut. She knew Keira might have been hit but she seemed fine, this thought did little though and she was still worried that the Hunter has yet to appear. Raven looked out the window and stroked the falcon's beak. Though she knew better, Raven was beginning to worry about her sister in arms. A figure was lit by the moon and Raven sighed, for she saw that the figure was the only well lit object in the darkness of night. Kynthelig stood and again the Hall was quiet.

" I wish to thank the Queen and yourselves for such kindness and say that once more Men wishes to honor our alliances. We have for to long ignored our friends, now we will uphold the alliances once thought to be dead." The King sat and applause filled the room. The festivities continued and all were overjoyed at their victory.
chapters 5-6
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