The next morning, Turos and Captain Ezrak went to the top of the wall and looked out over the city of Irata. Smoke was rising in the east, but the city was quiet. “That might be the Olo attack,” Turos said.
“Or it might just be slaves burning away vegetation to make room for more crops,” the Captain replied. “I think it would be safest if we waited here and let the Olo come to us, if they ever do.”
“They’ll be here,” Turos said. He noticed a large mass moving toward them from the south. “Look,” he said, pointing, “that must be them.”
“I’ve never seen the Olo before,” the Captain said, “but I would not expect them to be armored in black. Something tells me that we are about to find ourselves in a very difficult position.” He turned around and looked back toward the ships. “Barricade the gate,” he ordered the pirates that were standing near the bottom of the wall. “Pry up large stones from the docks and wall it shut. Bring archers to the wall, and send four ships to patrol our flanks. We’ve got a siege coming.”
“Do you really think it will come to that?” Turos asked.
The Captain nodded. “You heard the Overlord yesterday. He said a new Overlord would rise to power, and now that there’s an army marching our way, I don’t think he meant you or me.”
Turos looked back at the advancing army. “I can fend for myself man to man, but I’ve never been taught anything about sieges.”
“Then you have been fortunate until now,” the Captain said. “If you thought our hacked and bloodied crewmembers on the ships were a mess last night, then you’re going to have a hard time dealing with a siege. It comes down to which side can sustain the most casualties the longest, and our numbers aren’t too great as it is. Your Olo friends had better arrive very soon, or the enemy will either batter down the wall or starve us into submission.”
“There must be something we have a surplus of that will give us an advantage,” Turos said. “If they throw something at us, we should throw something back.”
Captain Ezrak thought for a moment. “I have an idea,” he finally said. “We have a surplus of rum and plenty of fire.”
Turos gave the Captain a funny look. “I think I understand what you’re thinking, but do you really think Captain Bill brought that much?”
The Captain laughed. “He sure doesn’t call that ship the Rum Bucket for nothing!” he answered. “Those cargo holds have only ever held one type of cargo, and he’ll let us use it in our time of need.”
“We’ll need to devise a way to launch it over the wall,” Turos said.
“That’s the easy part,” Captain Ezrak said. “The hard part is convincing everyone else not to drink it first!”
By late afternoon, they were almost done building two counterweighted launchers that they could use to toss flaming barrels of rum over the wall. They were also filling small pots with rum and stuffing the opening with rags that they could ignite before throwing them at the enemy. On the other side of the wall, the enemy was also preparing for the siege by positioning tension launchers in front of the wall. These would be used to throw rocks against the wall at high speeds, but could not throw anything over the wall. They also had several counterweighted launchers, but these were kept in reserve for future use. Arrows began to fly as the enemy advanced.
It wasn’t until the enemy had reached the wall and began to raise ladders that Captain Ezrak threw the first incendiary device. “Let them burn while they climb,” he shouted.
Turos stood back from the wall with the counterweighted launchers. “Ready the first two barrels,” he ordered. The pirates placed the barrels on the launchers and tied a burning rag to each of them. “Launch!” The two barrels shot into the air and over the wall. Seconds later, they could hear the thud of them hitting the ground and bursting apart. The screams of burning men soon followed.
Captain Ezrak looked down at Turos. “I’m glad I’m not down there,” he shouted. “The rum splashes all over and the soldiers spread the fire amongst themselves in their panic.” Turos had his men alter the directions the launchers were facing and sent two more barrels over the wall. “Save the rest for later,” Captain Ezrak ordered. “They’re pulling away from the wall for now.”
The enemy now began their bombardment. Fragments of rock flew through the air as the large rocks pummeled the wall. The enemy also began to launch large clusters of spiky metal balls over the walls in a devastating demonstration of their arsenal. The bodies of pirates pierced by the spikes littered the ground as the survivors sprinted toward the relative safety of the wall. By evening, the siege quieted down except for the continued bombardment of the weakening wall and the occasional throwing of an incendiary device. Turos took the time to return to his ship and check on Jo’Ana and Wet Zet.
Turos quickly found her, sitting on the deck with a bottle of rum in her hands and tears in her eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked, sitting down beside her.
“All this war and killing is senseless,” she cried. “People are getting hurt and dying just because the Lunari told you to go to war. Look in the water. There are so many dead bodies floating in the lake that even the spoonfish are no longer hungry!” She held up her arms, which had evidently not been washed in the recent past. “Look at me. I’m covered with blood and I haven’t even been in the fight.”
Turos put his arm around her. “I wish it was as simple as just being told what to do by a Lunari. If so, I’d be less likely to obey. The truth is they know things we do not. There are evil men out there, corrupted by their greed and the Dark Lunari. They will stop at nothing to kill and destroy, and we fight them to protect the people we love. I don’t like it any more than you do, but it cannot be helped.”
“And why do the other pirates join you?” she asked.
“They too are fighting for their families and the right to choose their own professions,” he explained. “They have been enslaved and forced into piracy by the Overlord’s threats.”
Jo’Ana yawned and took a sip of the rum. “I’ll keep assisting the wounded,” she decided, “but I still don’t like it.”
“It’s been a long day and you should get some sleep,” Turos said. He looked around. “Where is Wet Zet?”
“I told him I would guard the ship today so he could get some rest,” she answered. “He’s somewhere below.”
Turos stood up. “Today is practically over. I’ll go wake him. I need to get some rest too.”
He made his way down below the deck and found Wet Zet sleeping in one of the hammocks. “Get up,” Turos ordered as he lightly slapped the low point of the hammock.
Wet Zet was instantly awake. “Ouch!” he shouted. “What did you do that for? Do you have any idea how long it took me just to get situated in this hammock?”
Turos grinned. “I came to see how you were enjoying the comfort of the ship.”
Wet Zet growled. “I was fine until you came along. How are things going in the rest of Irata?”
“That’s not too good,” Turos frowned. “Apparently someone else has claimed the position of the Overlord and marched an army against the wall. We’ve been under siege most of the day and the bombardment is still underway.”
“Casualties?” Wet Zet asked.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Turos answered. “We started by launching some flaming barrels of rum at the enemy. It worked, but they reciprocated with swarms of metal balls covered in spikes. I saw entire clusters of pirates fall beneath them.”
“I wish I could be of more help,” Wet Zet said.
“I just need you to guard the ship for awhile,” Turos said. “Just stay on deck with your bow and let some others get some rest while we still can. If you insist on ignoring the pain and moving around while you’re up there, you might also try and find out if someone gave Jo’Ana rum or if she went and got it herself.”
“She’s drinking rum?” Wet Zet asked. Turos nodded and Wet Zet rolled out of the hammock and grabbed his bow, completely ignoring the pain of his wound. “I had some brought to the ship for medicinal purposes, but I did not stick around to see how it was used or who delivered it.”
“I think she’s just depressed with all the war,” Turos said. “I found her crying about it when I returned to the ship. I don’t suspect there was any foul play, but there is no way I will let her sleep alone in my office tonight where any pirate could just climb in the window and take advantage of her.”
“That’s a good precaution,” Wet Zet agreed. “Now help me up to the deck, and then you can get your rest.”
Turos was awakened the next day by a loud rumble and the shouts of people in the distance. He sat up on the hard floor and looked over at Jo’Ana. She was still asleep. He stood up and walked to the door to look out. “Wet Zet, where are you?” he called when he did not see the man outside.
There was no answer so Turos stepped onto the deck and looked around. The deck was still a mess from the bloodbath two days before, but there was no one around and it sounded as if everyone was at the wall. Turos stepped back into the room. He had no doubt that the rumble that awakened him meant the wall was crumbling.
Jo’Ana awoke as Turos was putting on his armor. “What is going on?” she asked.
“I think the wall is coming down,” he answered. “I’m going to help hold off the enemy. I need you to rinse off the deck and prepare to receive more wounded.” He paused briefly in the doorway and looked back at her. “Don’t drink any rum. There are too many pirates around here that would love to take advantage of you.”
She frowned, but agreed. “Be careful,” she warned as he left the room.
Turos ran off the ship, across the courtyard, and down the street. The portion of the wall above the gate had crumbled into a pile of rubble, and the bombardment of the wall had ceased. Turos finally found Wet Zet by the two launchers. “I thought you were guarding the ship,” he said.
“I was for awhile,” Wet Zet replied, “but I decided you were enough protection for Jo’Ana and that I would be more useful in the action. We moved the launchers back so we can bombard the enemy when they try to climb through the breach.”
“Good work,” Turos said. “Where is Captain Ezrak?”
“He’s still at the wall to make sure we make enough of a stand against the enemy that they will hold off coming through.”
Turos looked at the other pirates that were standing around the launchers. “We need to give ourselves time to regroup and rebuild our defenses. I need you to gather as much firewood and kindling as possible, and bundle it together with nets.”
As the pirates went to do as ordered, Turos turned back to Wet Zet. “We’ll plug that hole with firewood and then ignite it. That should keep the enemy out long enough for us to make a small wall of stone around the breached area.”
“That might work since our archers could shoot them as they come through the breach,” Wet Zet said, “but we’d only have one shot at defending it. If we lose many more men, we will not be able to defend against their greater numbers.”
“It will have to work,” Turos said. “I’ve got to see how Captain Ezrak is doing.”
Turos continued up the road to the wall. Debris was strewn across the ground. Various pirates were running from position to position as they tried to find better locations to defend against the enemy. Turos eventually found the Captain standing to one side of the pile of rubble where the wall had collapsed. The dirt-covered Captain’s face was grim as he ignited a pot of rum to be thrown at the enemy as they advanced. He did not call out, but merely motioned with his head for Turos to join him.
Turos carefully joined the Captain. “How are you holding up?” he asked.
“I’d be better if I didn’t have to watch as four of my crewmembers were crushed by this rubble,” he frowned. “We’re down to less than a fourth of the men we had before we attacked Irata, and most of the rest of us have also been wounded in some way.”
“I have Wet Zet preparing to launch some firewood to block this gap in the wall,” Turos said. “That will give us some time to regroup and build another small wall to slow their coming.”
“Some of us need to rest and eat before we could work on a wall,” the Captain snapped back. “Where have you been all night?” He gave Turos an angry look.
Turos grabbed Captain Ezrak by the arm and pulled him away from where he was standing. “Find your crew and go back to your ship,” he said. “Eat some food, drink some rum, and lounge in your quarters the rest of the day. I’ll hold this wall by myself.”
Captain Ezrak’s look of anger slowly faded into a grin. “Nevermind where you were all night,” he said. “I’ll call the men down from the wall and have them stand guard with you until Wet Zet gives us a covering fire. Then I want you and the freshest pirates we’ve got to build a wall while I send the rest of them to get some much needed rest.”
“You need to get some rest too,” Turos argued.
“I know,” Captain Ezrak replied, “but this is my war, and I need to see it through.”
“Then pull your men back from the wall and signal me when you’re ready for me to fall back and let Wet Zet block this breach.”
Captain Ezrak nodded and climbed over the rubble and away from the fallen section of the wall. Turos pulled out his sword and held his shield in front of him. He leaned against the wall and took a few deep breaths before turning to enter the breach and stab the first of the enemy to try climbing through.
Step by step, Turos advanced onto the pile of fallen wall, challenging the enemy as he went. They came in waves, but one by one he struck them down. Alone, Turos bore the brunt of the attack. Fresh wounds appeared on his body. His armor and shield were scratched and dented.
After what seemed like an eternity, Turos heard Captain Ezrak shouting. “Turos, fall back! Come back to the launchers! The archers will cover your retreat!” Turos struck down one more opponent, and turned to run. Arrows struck the other enemy soldiers running to attack him. As soon as Turos was off the pile of rubble, Wet Zet had the bundled firewood and the rum launched at the breach. The enemy would be stopped until the fire died down or they managed to put it out.
Turos was very fatigued by the time he made it back to the launchers, and dropped to his knees to catch his breath. He let go of his sword and let it lay in the dirt beside him. The others were already beginning to lay the stones for the new wall, but he was too tired to assist them. Captain Ezrak handed him a cup of water. “You have the strength of ten men and fight with the valor of twenty,” he said. “Never was there a mightier warrior.”
Turos sipped some water. “I only have the strength of one man,” he groaned, “but I have never met anyone with a greater resolve to stay alive.”
The Captain laughed. “As word of your deeds today spread, you will become a legend. The sight of you standing alone in the breach and fighting the enemy will never be forgotten by anyone who saw you.”
Wet Zet slowly limped over. “You look terrible. Should I call for a stretcher?”
Turos grinned. “I am tired,” he admitted, “but I can still walk without assistance.” He slowly finished the rest of the water and stood up, taking the time to put his sword away. “Perhaps I should get some of my cuts cleaned.”
“I think you should wait until this battle ends,” Captain Ezrak said. “Either your Olo friends will show up soon, or we’re all going to be dead and not care.”
“They’ll get here,” Turos confidently replied. “They’ll get here to help us even if it’s just you and I who are still standing.”
“It had better not come to that,” the Captain said. “If the enemy breaks through once more, I’m ordering everyone to flee and set sail.”
“Then I’d better start limping back to the ship now,” Wet Zet decided.
“It won’t come to that,” Turos said. At almost the same time, there was the sound of drums in the distance and shouts of surprise among the enemy.
For a moment, the three men looked at each other in surprise as they realized that the Olo had just arrived. “To the wall!” Captain Ezrak ordered.
Turos and the Captain ran to the wall, slowed only by their fatigue. They urged the other pirates to join them as they ran. They rushed up the steps to the top of the wall, and looked down to see what was happening. The entire enemy army had turned around to face the greater threat. “Perhaps tonight I will get a decent rest,” Captain Ezrak muttered to Turos.
Turos smiled. “I told you the Olo would arrive if we waited long enough.”
“I just wish they’d arrived four days earlier,” the Captain said. “Then this whole business would have been over as soon as we overthrew the Overlord.”
By evening, the enemy had been defeated, and any that survived were fleeing into the darkness. When the Olo army advanced to the wall, Commander Oronomo stepped forward and looked at the breach where the firewood was still smouldering. Turos looked down from the top of the wall. “What took you so long to get here?” he called down.
The Commander looked up at Turos. “All you had to do was raise a sail while we were stuck having to build our own roads and bridges. We came as fast as we could.”
“I’m glad you arrived when you did,” Turos said. “A few more hours and we’d have been defeated.”
Captain Ezrak also looked down at the Commander. “Once that fire in the breach burns out, you’re welcome to come inside the wall. I also request that you bring us supplies. We’ve got more wounded than we can handle, and our supply of drinking water is almost used up.”
“We’ll have supplies brought through as soon as possible,” the Commander agreed. “Gather the wounded and we’ll have our doctors tend them as well. Is there anything else you need?”
The Captain thought about it briefly. “Could you spare some rum?”
“Sorry,” the Commander replied. “You’re on your own there.”
A short while later, Turos and Wet Zet were returning to their ship. Wet Zet was limping from the unhealed wound in his rear, and Turos was walking very slowly because his muscles were beginning to tighten after his strenuous effort that day and also because the many small cuts he had received were beginning to sting.
Jo’Ana saw them and rushed off the ship to meet them. “What happened to you?” she asked Turos when she noticed the condition of his body.
“Someone had to stand in the gap and hold off the enemy while everyone else fell back and regrouped,” he answered. “I just happened to get stuck with the short straw.”
“Something tells me you volunteered,” Jo’Ana replied. “How are the defenses holding up now?”
“The defenses are breaking down into celebration and sleep,” Wet Zet said. “The Olo arrived and defeated the enemy. They should be bringing in supplies by morning.”
Jo’Ana smiled. “Perhaps my parents are with them.”
“They may be,” Turos said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
That night, the pirates held a fish fry. Turos found Hurn with a large pile of fried fish. “Would you like red fish or blue fish?” the cook asked. “And do you want one fish or two fish?”
“I’ll take one of each,” Turos answered. “I’ve never had red fish or blue fish before.”