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Battle Report Contest Winner - Fallen Comrades

Lauren
Freehold, New Jersey, United States

The brightness of the day seemed to mock us as we stood in our hall, the pounding of our hearts even louder than the shouts of the enemy at our gates. Behind us the guild lord paced, his armored footfalls punctuating the murmured prayers of the clerics. But we needed more than prayers. We needed a miracle.

There were only three of us now, huddled before our lord like cornered beasts awaiting their hunter. Once eight strong, we had vowed to protect our lord and slaughter our enemies. Now, five of us lay dead at our enemies’ feet, and twisted horrors summoned from the bones of our allies pounded on our gate. Had I tarried a moment longer, I, too, would have been used to create such a beast…

Mere moments ago, six of us had set out on the main road to our enemy’s guild hall, laughing and joking about what we would do once the battle had been won. Many of us were even looking forward to the encounter; it was our first battle on behalf of our guild, and each of us wished to prove ourselves in combat. ‘Fluffy’, as the warrior called herself, had seemed particularly eager.

***

“Do we get to fight now?” she asked, her green eyes gleaming with barely contained excitement. She practically bounced as she marched in front of the group, her childlike exuberance shining in the huge grin upon her face.

“Not yet, Fluffy…” our monk, Elena, explained for only the 47th time since we’d set out two minutes ago. “We’ll be at their door soon enough. Just be patient for a little while longer, please.”

“But I want to fight!” the grown woman whined, causing most of our group to roll their eyes. The thief we had taken with us seemed ready to slit her throat if given half the chance, and our necromancer, Kurai, went so far as to hiss in my ear,

“Remind me again,” she whispered harshly. “Why did we take the half-wit with us?”

“Because,” I whispered back, glancing at the large warhammer Fluffy tossed from hand to hand like it was nothing. “She can use that hammer better than any of us.”

A hearty laugh from Reubin, our leader, cut off any reply Kurai might have made. I looked up to see our flag planted firmly in the ground, our emblem rippling magnificently in the breeze. My heart skipped a beat; the enemy had let us take the center unchecked. How big of a challenge could such a guild be?

“I claim this land in the name of the guild lord!” Reubin shouted, his warrior’s voice rebounding off the hills around us. “Come, friends, let us continue on, and bring our guild’s name glory!”

He took off at a sprint towards the enemy’s gate; Fluffy and I were close behind him. The others struggled to keep up with us, but we paid them no heed, caught up in the thrill of the moment. Only when the first arrow embedded itself in my helm did I have the sense to back away, though Fluffy and Reubin did not do likewise.

Beside me, Kurai and Mizuni, our elementalist, were chanting loudly, their voices rising to a crescendo as they made identical gestures in the air. A moment later, I heard the screams of the archers on the battlements as fire poured from the sky, courtesy of Mizuni and Kurai’s pyrotechnic talents. Behind me, Elena was fervently praying to the All-God, pleading for the power to continue to heal Reubin and Fluffy as more and more arrows thudded through their armor. Muttering curses, the thief began skillfully weaving through the rain of arrows, making his way to the switch that commanded the door.

Before he could reach it, the gate swung open, its sound muffled by the roar of the earth beneath our feet. I suddenly found myself flat on my back, staring at the cloudless sky and listening to cries of my comrades. I struggled to my feet just in time to see a hammer crush Elena’s skull. Three warriors stood over her; I could only surmise they had gone for her first, knowing we would be powerless without her healing strength.

Ignoring me, they turned on Kurai and Mizuni. Kurai began the incantation for a fire storm, and I felt the heat as Mizuni lashed out desperately with an inferno, but I knew it was no use. I glanced to Reubin and Fluffy, staggering under the enemy’s blows, their arrow-riddled armor resembling pincushions. As I watched, Fluffy gave one final scream and collapsed facedown in the dust.

I had no choice. I fled, sprinting back down the main road, crying the alarm to Alonna and Morning Glory, both rangers we had left behind. They ordered me to wait by the guild lord and began setting traps around our hall. When they were done, Morning Glory wiped the tears from my face, and the two clerics said a brief prayer for the souls of our fallen comrades. Then there was nothing to do but wait.

***

Our gate swung open.

Three separate traps exploded as the enemy warriors charged inside, but still they came, shouting prayers of healing as they went. They ignored the volley of arrows from our rangers, and seemed not to feel the bite of my sword as I rushed to meet them. Instead, they went straight for our clerics, intent on taking down our only hope of salvation.

As I hacked at them in a frenzy, mesmeric chanting filled my ears and a feeling of overwhelming ineptitude settled upon me. I swung my sword regardless and hit my own helm, the blow to the head blinding me temporarily. When I regained my sight, the guild lord lay dead, Morning Glory’s corpse atop his. A strangled cry from Alonna told me that she, too, was lost. The sword slid from my hands, and I fell to my knees, waiting for the end…