Friday, April 4, 2014

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Twenty Five // Gossgath Sneak Attack

   "All right, everyone. Anyone who will be assisting with planning, follow me, the rest will follow Kadesh," Emmeth directed, pointing after his friend. Willow nudged her horse over to the prince's.
   "Are you sure your guys are ready for this?" she inquired.
   The prince nodded with surety. "I have never been more sure."
   She grinned. "Good. Because I'm sure something big is going to happen. But I hate to say I don't know what."


   "Emmeth!" greeted Killian as he threw an arm over the prince's shoulder and thumped him on the back. Teclemith greeted him in a similar fashion and than gave Willow a side-hug.
   "So Immer arrived safely?" he inquired, looking rather concerned.
   Willow nodded, suppressing a grin. "So how have you guys been doing? I didn't have time to ask Immer."
   Teclemith shrugged. "We are officially closing the gates and barring them at dusk. We do not want any spies sneaking about."
   Emmeth gestured for them to follow him as he bent his head to listen to Killian at his side, who was whispering. The pair followed the prince up several flights of carved stone steps until they reached the planning room that Emmeth had requested.
   "Prince Emmeth, Willow, welcome," Ganymede greeted, bowing to the prince and then giving Willow a tiny bow. They both smiled and nodded, but the prince was the once who spoke.
   "Ganymede, I suspect your father is looking over the city's defenses?" he directed his question at the Knight's son.
   "Yes, Prince. He and his Lord Protector are walking the wall to make sure that it is secure," Ganymede answered amiably.
   Kadesh entered just then, and gave his cousin and forced smile. "Hello, Ganymede."
   "Kadesh," Ganymede greeted even more coolly than his cousin.
   "Ahem, let us get back to the crisis at hand. Here is a map of the city, its towers and weapons and men available."
   Willow leaned over Kadesh's shoulder and grunted. "There's not nearly enough men or weapons."
   Ganymede threw her a sideways glance, almost a glare. "Pardon?"
   She gave an innocent shrug. "I'm just saying, the supply of people is a bit short. I've been schooled in the how-tos of this business, and I've seen too many forts fall because of too little men. But I'd be glad to add support with my bow," she added.
   Emmeth looked thoughtful. "Stay in a tower and out of sight, but if you must, you may add cover." Willow grinned and nodded.
   As the guys went back to their planning, she wandered over to the window in the stone turret and gazed down at the busy scene below them. Gossgath must not fall, she told herself. It must not. It must not.

   "Anything?" Emmeth shouted up at Willow.
   "Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero," she shouted back. Volunteering for watch duty might have condemned her to hours on end of boredom, but at least another guy could be getting ready to fight instead of watching for the bad guys.
   "All right! Someone will check in another fifteen minutes!" he called back up to her.
   "I know!" she called down, stifling a sigh. This had been going on for what felt like thirty hours, but was probably more like three. The air was strangely cool and misty, and the mist obscured everything. Willow had to squint really hard to see anything within fifteen feet of the wall where her turret was located.
  She knelt down on the now damp stone and rested her chin on her arms. An ebony crossbow leaned against the stone balcony next to her, and a small supply of arrows for it was neatly tucked behind it. Because the Tashrians didn't have guns, the most gun-like of their weapons available was the crossbow.
   The damp air stirred as a slight breeze played with the wisps of hair that had escaped from her waist-length braid. Twirling the end around a finger, she shaded her eyes as she gazed out into the rolling clouds of fog. Nothing.


   Night had fallen. In the complete silence Willow was aware of her own breathing and heartbeat. She shifted her position so that the leg she had been leaning on could get its circulation back. 
   A tiny stirring of the bushes near the curve of the wall in the light of a torch attached to the wall caught her eye. Pulling out her telescope, she peered through the single lens at the bush. It twitched again. A hoot startled her and a speckled owl flew overhead. The fingers of her left hand brushed her engraved horn hanging at her side, itching on pure instinct to sound the alarm. Calming herself, she stuffed her left hand into her pocket. At least she was too wired to fall asleep.
   Her eyes followed the owl as it ascended into the starry night sky. The constellations are so different everywhere I go, she marveled. But then her eye caught a sliver of movement. Something was streaking down through the still night air, right towards her! The spyglass was trained on the speck in an instant. A dark figure, dressed in black, seemed to be riding down on something completely black towards her. She took in the gleam of moonlight on a sharp and pointed beak, and realized that it was a giant crow that the figure was riding. Instantly, her mind snapped the pieces of the puzzle together. A Shadow Knight riding a giant crow, a sneak attack!
   This time she snatched for her horn, but the strap tangled in her belt and hung tightly. Yanking at it frantically, Willow pulled and tugged, praying desperately that it would come free. It did come free, but than flew from her fingers as she gave it a sharp pull. It flew over the edge of the turret's wall.
   The crunch of the boots of the Shadow Knights alerted her to his presence. Grabbing the crossbow, she pressed herself against the turret's room, and inched to the side as the Knight strode up to the light. He knelt down and noted the fresh print of dryness instead of the damp stones around it. Oh, no. Glancing around, the Knight unsheathed a black Shadow Sword, that's blade pulsed and glowed a menacing red and purple. Willow swallowed hard. Lifting the torch from its perch, the Shadow Knight started to search around the turret. Breathing a quick prayer, Willow pulled out her crossbow and slid the arrow into its place. The click of the string as it snapped in place seemed extremely loud in the deathly silence. The Knight jerked his head her way, his eyes noting the swirl of her mid-calf length skirt as she stepped quickly into the small circle of light shed by the torch.
   Twang! Willow's eyes widened as the Shadow Knight dodged the arrow and dove into a somersault. He neatly kicked the crossbow out of her hands and clapped a hand around her mouth and nose as she tried to scream the alarm. He had both arms around her, keeping her arms pinned down as she tried to wrench free.
   "Let it go, little Elvish-grace," he breathed into her ear as everything started to go black from her lack of air. "You'll be perfectly safe," he assured her in a mocking tone.
   The last thing Willow remembered was using the last of her strength to light her purple fire on the hem of the Shadow Knight's cloak as he and everything else faded into a sea of black that enveloped her as her eyes slid shut.

   Wow! That was exciting! Sorry it's so late, but I'm actually forgoing resting to edit the cover for this and post this chapter today. You see, I caught a cold yesterday, and woke up early breathing like Darth Vader. Than I slept in and barely got my shower and a cup of tea in before we had to leave for drama week. Whew! What a week! But the dress rehearsal is tonight, and an ice cream party afterwords, so that's nice. We'll probably take picture tonight with our gowns and our friend's {who's a Southern Belle with us} dress too :)
Don't hesitate to ask any questions!

   Be a friend, not an enemy,



  1. Awesome!! Keep it coming, my friend=)

  2. I really don't like those silent knights. They're creepy *shudders* but they're awesome at the same time;)


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