Chapter 18

The battle started the next day when the enemy began to launch boulders into the city from all directions. Rather than use tension launchers to attack the walls of the fortifications, they use massive counterweight launchers to pound the terraces, hoping to collapse them and destabilize the fortifications. The Barbidons responded with their own minor bombardment, but the enemy army was still out of range, and they only succeeded in setting fire to a few fields between them and the enemy.

Turos spent most of the day in the spire with the Tawg, Tawgjug, Prince Hifur, Chief Oholohono, and Wet Zet, watching the bombardments progress. They were completely surrounded on the south and east, but did not yet have any enemy sailing toward them from the west, or approaching toward the river to the north.

Around noon, Tawg Tishatov became frustrated. “These dark legions are better equipped than anticipated,” he growled. “I have never seen such massive launchers, or I would have ordered them constructed for our own defenses.”

“Where did they get them?” Prince Hifur asked. “Nazada is built on a barren ice-covered plain, so there are no trees for them to have built them there. Sometimes I wonder how they even manage to feed their soldiers down there.”

“The former pirate Overlord was allied with the Dark Lunari,” Turos answered. “I did not find out until recently, but he had been building massive ships and sending them south from this land. It is quite conceivable that he may have also supplied lumber and food.”

“The lumber is most likely from our own forests,” Tawgjug Rushalot said. “It is much easier to build those machines on the spot than transport them a distance of eighty-five or more ar’nura, not considering the mountains they’d also need to cross.”

“What’s an ar’nura?” Wet Zet asked.

“It’s the standard unit of Barbidon measurement,” Prince Hifur answered. “Seven ar’nura is equal to ten nura. If this world is six thousand nura in circumference, then it is only four thousand two hundred ar’nura in circumference.”

Chief Oholohono had an idea. “The enemy is all within a quarter nura from our outermost defenses. Would it be possible to send out forays of archers to perform hit-and-run strikes instead of waiting for the enemy to come to us?”

“Father, I would like to lead the strikes if you decide it’s a good idea,” Tawgjug Rushalot said.

“Small teams could do it,” Wet Zet said, “but they’d need to find their own cover if the enemy employs their own archers. I’d go myself, but I am still recovering from a previous wound that would keep me from moving fast enough.”

Tawg Tishatov made a decision. “Rushalot, go tell Gorchov to send out his archers in small teams. You’ll find him in the third terrace. You are welcome to accompany one of the teams, but only if Gorchov goes with you.”

“Thank you, father,” the younger Barbidon said. He eagerly left them and hurried down the stairs.

“Do you think it wise to send your son off to battle at this point?” Prince Hifur asked the Tawg.

“He would have had to fight by the end of this battle,” Tawg Tishatov said. “I’d much rather send him out to fight while his will to fight remains strong, rather than keep him protected until the final moment when all hope is lost and he would only fight out of desperation. What would you do if your son asked to go to battle?”

“Previously, I would have said no since he has no heir to succeed him,” Prince Hifur answered. “However, he has spent more than a year living apart from the royal family. I can no longer make decisions for him. I may not wish to see him fight, but I will not prevent it.”

“Likewise, I will not make decisions for Rushalot,” the Tawg said.

By evening, most of the lower levels of Lajolaine were in shambles. The terraces were pulverized to the point where parts of the hill were now shaped like a slope rather than a staircase. Buildings were reduced to piles of rubble. Fortunately, the Barbidon soldiers had been mostly capable of avoiding the bombardment, and their ranks were scarcely damaged. They then spent the evening digging trenches and building new fortifications, all while attempting to continue dodging the continuing bombardment. Unfortunately, the darkness meant they would be unable to see the coming projectiles and there would be many more casualties. Out beyond the damaged defenses, the archers were still engaged in their small-scale attacks. It would be dark, or almost morning before the first of the teams returned.

The next morning, Wet Zet awakened Turos. “You had better come and see what is happening,” he said urgently.

Turos followed Wet Zet from the tent and to the defensive wall around their camp. He looked down toward the outer sections of the city and saw a slow procession making its way up the slope toward the palace. Barbidons lined the path, although they moved from their positions when enemy projectiles came at them. “What is going on?” Turos asked.

“I don’t know,” Wet Zet answered, “but we should probably go to the palace and find out.”

Turos agreed and the two of them left the camp and went to the palace. There they found the Tawg on his knees, weeping. “What happened,” Prince Turos asked.

One of the other Barbidons pulled them to the side. “Tawgjug Rushalot died in battle when his team of archers rushed into a team of enemy archers. Only two Barbidons in his team escaped, and they went back and retrieved his body. Rushalot is now a hero, and will be remembered in much song.”

“I’ve never considered dying to be heroic,” Turos muttered.

Wet Zet slapped him. “Be quiet,” he softly hissed. “You’re being disrespectful to the dead!”

Prince Hifur stepped into the room and Turos pulled him to the side. “Tawglug Rushalot was killed in battle,” he explained. “I don’t think the Tawg is taking it very well.”

“I wouldn’t take news like that very well, either,” Prince Hifur replied. “I know what it is like to be marching off to war only to learn that one of your sons has been killed.”

“I’m sorry,” Turos said. “I did not mean anything demeaning by that. Perhaps you should talk to the Tawg, though.”

Prince Hifur nodded and walked toward the crying Barbidon. “Tawg Tishatov,” he said, “I understand the heartbreak you are experiencing. It would be best for you to mourn your son, and leave the cares of battle for your commanders.”

The Tawg scowled at Prince Hifur. “What strategy do you propose my commanders follow if I were to mourn my son in private?”

“A defensive strategy is our best hope at this time,” Prince Hifur answered. “We must continue to hold out while they bombard the city, and then wait for them to come closer before we bombard them back.”

“So be it,” the Tawg said. “Bring my son to my chamber, and let the rest of you care for battle.” He turned and walked into another room.

Prince Hifur frowned. “It will be a long tedious day for us. Let us hope the enemy decides to move closer so we can begin our bombardment.” He turned to leave, and grabbed Turos by the arm and pulled him out the door. Wet Zet followed behind them.

“We need to do something to turn the tide of this battle,” Prince Hifur said. “The courage of the Barbidons is wavering from this constant bombardment and the loss of the Tawgjug.”

“Use the wind,” Wet Zet suggested. “Start a fire along the west shore of the Lake of Lajolaine and let the wind fan it east through the enemy ranks. Even if the enemy avoids it, there will still be that fire between them and us to provide a little extra cover.”

“That’s easier said than done,” Prince Hifur said. “The easiest way to do that would be to use flaming arrows from a ship, and all the ships have already been destroyed to prevent the enemy from using them. Keep in mind; we do not have rum like you had in Irata.”

“Don’t give me that excuse,” Wet Zet replied. “The Barbidons may not have rum, but they have plenty of similar drinks. Launching a few flaming barrels should be enough to start a decent fire.”

“I’ll have my soldiers give it a try,” Prince Hifur said. “We can use one of the Barbidon launchers that have not already been destroyed. You two go try finding some barrels and bring them to your camp. I’ll have my soldiers retrieve them there.”

Prince Turos and Wet Zet went off to do as ordered. After searching for three hours, they finally managed to find a few unbroken casks of an obscure Barbidon brew in the rubble of a building that had been partially demolished. After enlisting the help of a few soldiers, they managed to bring the casks to their camp.

Chief Oholohono met them. “I don’t think your father knows it yet, but the Barbidons just demolished the bridge over the Lower River of Lajolaine,” he informed them. “A single Barbidon ran across from the other side, and apparently he convinced them to destroy the bridge.”

“Then the enemy is advancing from the north now,” Prince Turos said. “How long ago did he arrive?”

“It only just now happened,” the Chief answered. “The Barbidon is still on his way to the palace.”

“Then go find my father and tell him to hurry to the palace,” Turos said. “The Tawg already lost his son today, and there is no telling how he will react to more bad news.”

The Chief nodded as Turos grabbed Wet Zet and ran toward the palace. They arrived about the same time as the Barbidon that had crossed the bridge, and went inside.

The Tawg came out to see what was so urgent. “Chog gegret wilgthelgor wu?” he asked.

The Barbidon bowed. “Wu ig Gogwelch. Wu shivesh levshot shashthu holshig shol a je rog,” he answered. “Lamarjolaine igesh vuthgar. Rutwulg itoth chagho hovwog holshig levjor. Wilgel gish a hug ig hoj. Wu rutla lejhorwulg shivesh jenoshwilgel.”

Tawg Tishatov clenched his fists and looked up at the ceiling. He roared loudly in his anger. “Holshig shotojwulgel tetech vuthgar hocheth Barbidonor tetech vuthgar. Wel itoth heth hio holshig shotojwulgel chaglig wel. Rutwulgel Lamarjolaine tetech huvgosh ashgol elhoj levjorwel chegcharg.”

Turos looked around confused. “What did he say?” he asked one of the Barbidons standing at the edge of the room.”

“Lamarjolaine was destroyed,” the Barbidon explained. “As many as possible boarded the ships and escaped to Elgwith Island, but there were too few ships, and many Barbidons were killed. The wife and daughter of the Tawg were also killed in the attack. Now we will take the fight to the enemy and avenge this loss.”

Turos stepped forward. “That is a bad idea,” he shouted loud enough for everyone to hear. To throw away your lives by rushing an enemy that outnumbers you is no way to remember and memorialize those who have been lost. I say let the enemy come to you and save your anger for then.”

Tawg Tishatov glared at Turos. “Rishla woth jenoshav hio gesharv ig shashtho vewgah. Your words and suggested actions do nothing,” he growled.

Turos stepped back, surprised. “What did he just say to me?” he quietly asked the Barbidon.

The Barbidon bent down. “Roughly translated, the Tawg said that warnings to be cautious only serve to hinder. There is nothing you can say or do to convince the Tawg to take your advice.”

“Then this battle is lost,” Turos muttered.

“Perhaps,” the Barbidon replied, “but perhaps not. When our army advances, pull your armies back to the palace. We may all be killed, but we will first cause extensive damage to the enemy.”

“I suddenly wish I had stayed in Irata,” Wet Zet said.

By the time Prince Hifur and Chief Oholohono reached the palace, Tawg Tishatov was putting on his armor. “What is going on?” Prince Hifur asked Turos.

“Lamarjolaine was destroyed, and the Tawg’s wife and daughter were among the civilians slain,” Turos answered. “Now the Barbidons are going to attack the enemy rather than stay within what defenses we have left.”

“This is madness,” Chief Oholohono said. “They must be stopped!”

Prince Hifur stepped in front of the Tawg. “Tawg Tishatov, I urge you to reconsider this decision,” he said. “We are fighting a war against an enemy that outnumbers us, and we must take care not to make rash decisions. Now, I understand if you’re bereaved by the loss of...”

“I will decide what is and is not a rash decision in my land,” the Tawg roared. He put on his helmet. “You people can hide in the ruins of this city, but the Barbidons will hide no more.” He picked up his large sword and walked to the door. The other Barbidons in the room readied their weapons and followed him from the palace.

“Turos, Chief Oholohono, bring Ro’Ana and Jo’Ana to the palace, and guard them with your soldiers. I’ll pull back my brigades and a few launchers as well. If the Barbidons are going to abandon us, we must stick together to be a more formidable foe.” He paused briefly as he was about to step from the room. “Turos, after the Barbidons attack, pull down their flag over the palace, and raise your own. The enemy has fought against my banner before, but seeing the flag of a new adversary may make them more cautious.” Prince Hifur ran out the door without saying anything else.

“I’ll go bring the soldiers and decide their positions,” Turos said. “Chief Oholohono, you bring the women to the palace and stay with them as a guardian. Wet Zet, you deal with the flag. If you wish to stay up in the spire, feel free, but keep in mind that they may move the launchers closer when the Barbidons are destroyed.” The three men then ran back to the camp to carry out their plans.

By late afternoon, Princes Hifur and Turos had their soldiers at the top of the hill, surrounding the palace. They had joined Wet Zet in the spire to watch as the Barbidons prepared for their attack. Ro’Ana and Jo’Ana also joined them.

“We are witnessing the greatest battle this world has yet seen,” Prince Hifur said. “They will charge the enemy, and we will be left to deal with however many remain.”

Several loud cheers rang up from among the Barbidon ranks as they prepared. They marched to the outermost edge of the defenses. Their long spears glistened in the afternoon sun. Farther away, the enemy prepared to receive the Barbidons. Their archers lined up with swordsmen to guard them. The Barbidons would have to pass through their lethal shots while they charged.

Tawg Tishatov thrust his sword in the air and gave the command. The Barbidons began their assault. The units began to march forward, slowly speeding up until they were running as fast as they could. Their sharp spears pointed ahead of them, directly at the enemy. They raised their shields over their heads to protect against the enemy arrows as they raced forward. Ro’Ana and Jo’Ana looked away when the Barbidons reached the enemy so they would not have to see the carnage.

Having been ineffective, the enemy archers and their defending swordsmen were overcome by the charging Barbidons. A few of them fled, but the thick spears cut most of them down. The Barbidons then passed among the many launchers of the enemy, destroyed many of them along with the soldiers that operated them. The next line of the enemy defense was their main infantry. The frenzied Barbidons rushed straight at the enemy units with no regard for their own lives.

Carried forward by their momentum, the Barbidons succeeded in pushing through some of the units of enemy infantry, but they soon slowed to a stop. The Barbidons resorted to their swords. The large heavy pieces of metal swung by the muscular Barbidon soldiers easily cut through the men of the enemy army, but they were still horribly outnumbered. Bodies, both Barbidon and enemy, soon littered the ground, and despite their best efforts, the Barbidon attack was stopped.

Turos frowned. “How long do you think we have until the enemy advances against us?” he wondered.

“It doesn’t matter,” Prince Hifur said. “The Barbidons have left us with this ruined city, so we must immediately prepare it as best we can. I’ve got launchers ready to be used, and it might be a good idea to start some fires throughout the city to give them more obstacles to navigate.”

“Save the casks for the enemy attack,” Turos said. “A fire can easily be put out, but burning soldiers can no longer fight. If we must start fires, I suggest it is done with a torch.”

“Very well,” Prince Hifur decided. “I have the most soldiers, so I will have some of them start the fires. He turned to Chief Oholohono. “I am under the impression that the Olo soldiers are all good archers. My soldiers have arrows, but we have few decent archers. Feel free to take as many arrows as you need, and we will resort to our spears and swords.”

“We will gladly use as many arrows as we are given,” Chief Oholohono said, “but we did not bring any more poison to coat the ones we did not bring with us.”

“Every little effort helps,” Prince Hifur said. “Turos, I know how much you like to lead from the front, but this battle is one of the few where I must forbid it. Stay beside your woman and protect her instead.”

“Prince Hifur, It seems you expect to lose your twelve brigades and my two hundred soldiers,” Chief Oholohono observed. “Is there anything optimistic you can also say?”

“Don’t forget, we also have about fifty pirates fighting with us,” Wet Zet added.

Prince Hifur grinned at Wet Zet. “A whole fifty pirates? That’s very reassuring!”

“Just you watch,” Turos said. “These pirates can be very resourceful in times of need.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Prince Hifur said. “The only thing that reassures me against these odds is that we were brought here by the words of the Lunari. If they expected failure, then I doubt they would have sent us here.”

“We could discuss the nuances of the Lunari knowledge of the future and their interference with our lives all day long without conclusion,” Turos said, “but now is the time for battle, not talk.”

“I agree,” Chief Oholohono said. “Ro’Ana, Jo’Ana, I must take you to a safer place.”

“And I need to get my troops prepared,” Prince Hifur said.

The four people left the spire, leaving Wet Zet and Prince Turos looking out toward the enemy. “What do you think fifty pirates will do for us?” Turos asked.

“Hack and slash,” Wet Zet answered. “They’ve all been in fights with the royal fleet, and in those fights the pirates are always badly outnumbered. Some pirate ships are defeated, but a few have been victorious through multiple battles. I’d sooner throw in my lot with a bunch of desperate pirates than with the most professional armies of the world.”

Turos smiled. “I’ll keep them close. Raise the flag, and then come down from this spire. It’s too great a target if the enemy brings some launchers closer.”

Wet Zet nodded and pulled out the flag. “You go on down. I’ll be there as soon as I get this up.”

Turos went down the stairs and out of the palace. He found the others preparing a defensive position made of large stones a short distance from the palace to avoid any falling rubble if it collapsed under bombardment. The twelve brigades formed their own positions outside the area, with the Olo archers standing in front of them. The gaps between the brigades provided pathways for the Olo archers to retreat from the front lines when the enemy came too close. Turos had the fifty pirates assist the others where needed, but expected them all to fall back to the center defenses when the enemy attacked. Jo’Ana and Ro’Ana were in a small area surrounded by three large blocks of stone and a number of shields. They had weapons, but hoped not to have to use them. Throughout the city, various soldiers were setting fire to piles of rubble. Smoke soon filled the air and blocked the view of the enemy.

Turos sat down in the entrance to the makeshift shelter for Jo’Ana and Ro’Ana. His spear was propped against one of the stones, and he started sharpening his sword. “Now all we can do is wait,” he said.

“I’d rather wait with you than anyone else,” Jo’Ana said, sitting down beside him.

Turos smiled. “I’d rather die for you than anyone else, but I hope it doesn’t come to that,” he replied. “If we survive what is coming, I am taking you with me to Atalan and you will be my queen.”

Jo’Ana smiled and ran her hand through his hair. “You may be the Great King one day, but you will always be a pirate to me.”

“I thought you didn’t like pirates,” Turos said.

“I don’t,” Jo’Ana admitted, “but you aren’t like any other pirates I’ve known.”

Turos turned his head and looked at her. He didn’t say anything, but leaned in and gave her a quick kiss before standing up. “I need to find out why Wet Zet has not yet returned,” he said.

Turos returned to the palace and back into the spire to look for Wet Zet. The flag with the two arrows was flying, but the man was not there. He went back down the stairs and began checking through the various rooms. He called Wet Zet’s name several times, but there was no answer. There was a loud rumble from one end of the palace, and Turos knew the enemy bombardment had begun again. He rushed through the hallways, briefly glancing in all the rooms he passed.

“Prince Turos, come here,” he finally heard the man respond to his calls.

“Where are you?” Turos called back.

“Go to the end of the hallway, turn left, and come down the stairs,” Wet Zet answered. Turos obeyed and soon went down the dark stairs. He found Wet Zet carrying a torch down a dark tunnel. “I think I found a way out of here,” Wet Zet said.

“That’s assuming the palace doesn’t fall on top of us,” Turos replied, shaking his head. “The enemy has resumed their bombardment.”

“This tunnel goes through solid rock,” Wet Zet said. “I cannot see an end to it, but even if it is a dead end, pulling the enemy into a chokepoint like this would give us an advantage.”

“We can tell the others about it,” Turos said, “but first we need to leave the palace until the enemy ceases their bombardment.”

Wet Zet returned to Turos and frowned. “Very well, we can do that.”

He quickly followed Turos back up the stairs and down the hall. Several stones in the ceiling collapsed behind them as another rock of the enemy bombardment struck the palace. They were fortunate that the structure remained intact until they returned to the rest of the soldiers. Minutes later, the palace collapsed into a pile of rubble.

Wet Zet found Prince Hifur. “I found a tunnel in the palace,” he said. “If we can find it in the rubble, it may lead us out of here.”

Prince Hifur grinned and shook his head. “That is a tunnel alright, but it only goes down to an underground well. There is no way it would be safe for us. Now grab your bow and guard my son!”

Wet Zet nodded and ran back to where Turos and Chief Oholohono stood near the stones protecting the two women.

“The enemy will attack as soon as this bombardment stops, and then we’ll have our work cut out for us,” the Chief said.

“And you’d better do a good job of it,” Ro’Ana shouted out at them.

They did not have long to wait. The bombardment soon ended and the enemy began to advance up the hill and through the burning rubble. One of Prince Hifur’s soldiers retrieved the flag of Prince Turos, and soon it was flying in the center of their position on the top of the hill.

The fighting was fierce along the front lines and the two armies grinded away at each other. Spears and arrows flew both directions. Swords dulled and shields shattered. Armor was slashed and battered. Flesh was pierced and torn. Rivulets of red slowly trickled downhill, staining the dirt and rubble of the city ruins. The twelve brigades of Prince Hifur and the enemy army were growing smaller.

The sun was beginning to sink by the time the twelve brigades were down to their last few ranks. The pirates and the Olo soldiers readied their weapons. Prince Hifur held up his sword and gave another cry to rally his soldiers to stand their ground. An arrow struck him in the arm. He dropped his sword and clutched at his wounded arm.

Turos left his spear and rushed forward when he saw his father’s sword drop. He slung his shield over onto his back and pulled out his sword as he ran to protect his father. “Turos go back,” Prince Hifur protested.

Turos shook his head as he reached his father. “You go back instead. There is nothing more you can do here.” He reached down with his left hand and picked up his father’s sword. “Go back and have Wet Zet take that arrow out of your arm.”

Prince Hifur smiled and Turos and turned and left. Minutes later, the final rank of the former twelve brigades fell, leaving Turos alone to deal with the enemy. He turned and ran back to the Olo soldiers. Several arrows struck his shield as he ran, but none of them pierced through its protection. The Olo army opened to let him pass through their ranks and closed behind him.

“Stand firm,” Chief Oholohono shouted to his soldiers. “Retreat will only take you willingly into the hands of the enemy.”

The valiant Olo stood their ground and fought their best fight against the impossible odds. Still the enemy came and the Olo were slowly overcome. Night fell and the battle continued chaotically in the dark. Groups of Olo soldiers began to be cut off from the others as the enemy continued to press on.

Lightning flickered, lighting up the sky to the west, and a strong wind began to blow across the hilltop. A storm was brewing and was soon upon them. Buckets of rain fell on the fighting men. The hilltop turned to mud. The remaining Olo fell back to be reinforced by the pirates. A battle that had begun as a fight between units was now reduced to a massive melee with no coordination or unit cohesion.

Several of the enemy pushed through and attacked the three men in the center. Chief Oholohono’s sword cut majestically through the air, and through the enemy. Wet Zet quickly ran out of arrows and resorted to his malinoa-laced dagger.

One of the enemy soldiers stepped forward toward Turos. He wore a black cape and carried a long sword. Turos had no doubt; this had to be the commander of the enemy army. He held both swords in front of him, ready to defend or attack.

“Do not pretend you can stand against me, even with two swords,” the enemy commander sneered. “They call me Bozorg the Bad because I do bad things to my enemies, and you will soon see that for yourself.”

“I may only be one man, but one man with two swords is better than two men with one sword,” Turos growled. “You may be called Bozorg the Bad, but you will fall before TUROS THE MIGHTY!”

Turos lunged, and attacked with all his might. Lightning flashed across the sky and thunder shook the ground. The battle was going ill with the wind and rain raging across the large hill. Turos soon found himself lying on the ground with both swords falling from his hands and Bozorg crouched over him.

“I said I do bad things to my enemies,” the enemy commander said with an evil grin. “Now you will find out.” Turos struggled to escape, but the enemy commander leaned up, lifted his sword, and prepared to strike.

A number of shouts rang out across the hilltop. Two arrows struck Bozorg in the chest and he fell to the side. A Barbidon rushed past Turos and attacked one of the enemy soldiers. Several other Barbidons followed behind him.

Turos pushed the enemy commander’s corpse off him and sat up. He looked behind him and saw Wet Zet standing there with his bow. “Did you do that!?” he asked.

Wet Zet nodded as he fitted another arrow to his string. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I know you had it all under control, but I felt a few extra arrows in his body wouldn’t hurt.”

Turos laughed. “I just found it strange that you used two arrows instead of one.” He looked at the battle around him. “Where did all these Barbidons come from?”

“I don’t know,” Wet Zet replied, “but they’re very welcome to join us!”

Turos picked up his sword and stood up. “Come on, Wet Zet, the battle isn’t finished yet!” He charged into the thick of things and fought until the final enemy soldier was vanquished.

When the battle was over, one of the Barbidons approached Turos. “You appear to be the man in charge here,” he said. “What happened to the Tawg?”

“Tawg Tishatov and the others were all killed earlier today when they attacked the enemy in response to the death of the Tawgjug,” Turos answered. “I am Prince Turos. My father and many others that fought with us have been injured. Do you have doctors with you?”

“We do have doctors, and they have most likely already begun to treat your wounded,” the Barbidon said. “I am Hugvolsh, commander of these five hundred Barbidons. We were stationed near the eastern foothills of the Tanikwa mountains at the far reaches of the Upper River of Lajolaine when we received the summons to return to Lajolaine with haste. That was six months ago, and we have marched across the lands south of the Lake of Lajolaine, following close behind the enemy and attacking any stragglers. I am sorry we are late to battle.”

Turos shook his head. “I am pleased you were late to battle. If you had arrived on time, you would have joined the Tawg in his hasty attack and been killed. Instead, you are late, and have saved the day for the rest of us. Thank you, Hugvolsh.”

The Barbidon bowed. “I am glad to be of service. Are there any other enemy groups that you know of in the area, or did we just defeat the last of them?”

“There may be a group of them across the Lower River of Lajolaine,” Turos said, “but the bridge was destroyed earlier today. We heard about them from a messenger from Lamarjolaine who claimed that city was destroyed and the enemy army followed him here.”

Hugvolsh frowned. “This is bad weather for scouting. We will have to wait for morning to see if they are a threat to us. It is too bad this city has been demolished; we could really use some shelter.”

“Look through the rubble for overhangs,” Turos suggested. “We could also use cloth to improvise shelter.” He looked around at the few pirates and Olo soldiers remaining in the area. “You look after your soldiers and I’ll look after mine,” he said. “Tomorrow we will discuss what comes next.”

The Barbidon bowed and disappeared into dark rain. Turos bent down and pulled the cloak off the corpse of the enemy commander. “Scavenge the dead,” he shouted. “Take anything you need since they no longer need it!” He turned and walked back to the three stones protecting the two women. Draping the cloak overhead would help keep out the rain as they weathered out the storm.