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The Fireside Tales - Chapter Sixty
Chapter Sixty: Gate

"They must not pass!"

The courtyard smelled worse than it looked. Burning orge met with various other smells to create a wall of odor that Shayliss only thought possible in barn fires. While Sandpoint was not quite farmland, she had lived near the stables long enough to get an idea of what that kind of situation would smell like.

So, she was not reacting as badly as Lotho and Alicia while the group of six rushed across the field of battle. The Black Arrow archer and Alicia moved in tandem to make sure no ogre decided to break from the main fight while the rest surrounded them. Fires burned, blood flowed and cries of pain from both the ogres and goblins rose up from all around them.

It was something that Shayliss had not experienced before as a simple peasant. Yet, she was surprised, and a little worried, to find that there was a thrill and excitement to the battle. Was that the kind of thing that Valtyra felt all the time?

She shook her head. Valtyra's tendency to ramble thoughts was starting to get to her.

"Get that door open!" The Black Arrow archer yelled.

Lotho and the Black Arrow axe-wielder immediately moved toward the front gate of the fort. It was made of intercrossing wooden planks reinforced with steel and barely visible at the top were fastenings with chain links attached. At each side of the gate were wooden crank wheels directly attached to the stone wall. The halfling moved to the left and the human moved to the right. Without a second's hesitation they started rotating the wheels simultaneously. With a loud creak and scrape the gate started to slowly slide up.

The ground behind them shook and rumbled. Shayliss turned around to see two ogres, mostly burned and completely angry running toward her. They were screaming incoherently and held massive weapons in hand. Within seconds they were on top of the group.

Shayliss pulled her grappling hook off of its latch and threw it forward without aiming. The metal sailed through the air and sank shallowly into skin. The ogre did not have to do much except twitch to remove the hook which did not impede its advance at all. However the barrage of arrows that descended upon both of them was not something so easily dealt with.

Arrows sank into blackened skin. Howls of agony rose into the sky and the rumbling motion of that ogre slowed considerably. Yet, that did not stop the second ogre from advancing like a runaway wagon.

With a massive yell it raised its plank of wood about as wide as Shayliss's head to come right back down in a diagonal swing. It was aimed at Alicia and the woman had no chance of avoiding it. The speed of the attack was too fast and she was still focused on the first ogre. She had not seen the attack coming.

Shayliss twirled her grappling hook in two quick circles before flinging it at the attacker. She could not tell if the creature had seen her attack coming or was just lucky, but the hook flew wide of its neck, where she had aimed it. Instead, it fell back down and wrapped itself around the wooden plank at it arched downward. Without hesitating, she let out a yell and pulled as hard as possible.

She was not a strong person. She was not even as strong as Valtyra and it consistently showed in her training and in the last few days. Normally, there would have been no way for her to match an ogre one-on-one and win. They were just too large. But thankfully, this time physics were on her side. Her pull against the wooden plank redirected the attack away from Alicia. Not enough that the woman got away completely, she took a glancing blow to her arm, but it reduced the attack from a fatal flattening.

Wood slammed into stone foundation and splintered with a loud crack. Shards of wood flew out in every direction, some the size of fingers, and threatened to skewer whatever got in their way. Two grazed Shayliss's limbs and a third pierced the left side of her belly, through the armored coat. Yet, she only retracted the hook and prepared to throw again. She fought through the pain as the ogre with a smaller wooden plank turned toward her.

It let out a booming roar and leapt at her arms and legs outstretched. Shayliss's eyes widened as she realized what the creature was trying to do. There was nowhere for her to run in time and there was not much room to dodge. Her gaze frantically darted around to find her salvation. Only seconds stood between her and getting pancaked against the stone. If she did not find it she would be...

She found it.

With a cry of fear, she threw her hook straight upward. The shard in her body cut deeper but she gritted her teeth against the pain. The metal prongs of the hook wrapped around her target and set fast. As it did, she ran as fast as she could forward and jumped. The rope pulled taut and her momentum moved from forward motion to upward motion.

The ogre's body barely missed hers as she was flung into the air. But the ogres were smarter than she thought. She was only in the air for a second before a blackened hand reached up and pulled the empty torch sconce the grappling hook was attached to down. Rope slackened again and Shayliss started falling to the stone. Her movement carried her toward the ogre as she fell and so with a quick thrust Shayliss sank her blade into flesh.

She continued to fall for a second, but the blade halted her momentum to a stop with her feet about a foot from the ground. Before she could drop the ogre, in a pained panic, flung his limb. The force of it caught Shayliss by surprise and she crashed hard against the wood and steel of the gate.

The world instantly went white. Pain enveloped her and the silence of her condition was a vast contrast to the raging battle happening around her. She tried to send signals to her body to get up, to roll, to do anything. But she felt none of it happening. She was not even sure if her body was responding. It was just white and emptiness around her.

Slowly, senses started returning to her. She first felt hands grabbing at her. Fearing the worst, she flailed trying to get them away. Again, she was not sure if anything was happening. Stone under her moved and her mind went into a panic. Was the world changing around her? Was she about to fall into nothingness?

"...th... gat..." Someone muttered.

The stone under her moved faster and the hands on her tightened. In her fear she continued to try and struggle but it was futile. Now she was almost certain that all she was doing was twitching. Her sight was slowly returning and she could see a roof above her. It was moving as well and she could see the gate open and drifting away. So, it was her that was moving, not the world.

Using that as a focal point, she started piecing the fragments of her thoughts back together. The sounds of combat returned in a flood and she could start smelling the aftermath of it. The pain that had infused her whole body was separating back out into the individual injuries with the addition of a migraine.

"Get that damn gate closed already!"

Shayliss looked up from her position on the floor to see Alicia and the Black Arrow archer holding the ogres off with arrow after arrow. Yet, the creatures continued to push forward. They were staggered by the arrows but not enough to make too much of a difference. Even if Lotho started working the wheels on this side of the gate now, he would not be able to get the gate down before the ogres got in.

Lotho seemed to have planned for that, though. Shayliss could feel the water in the air around her congeal and she watched it form into two razor sharp blades of ice. With a cry he waved his hand and those blades launched forward in two blurs. Metal shrieked and parted. The gate rattled in reaction to the force before it slammed home into its fittings.


Do you have any comments, questions or concerns? Please leave a comment or email me at sean.francis@rivalcastmedia.com!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter for updates on The Fireside Tales, or just random statements I may make: @Miggnor23.

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Next Chapter Coming On May 12th!
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