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The Tale of Thunder - Chapter One (Assault on Achim)

Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)
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Galen stood at attention.

"This is it men," Commander Reece Relken shouted to the assembled soldiers, beginning to pace back and forth on his review stand, overlooking the thousands of knights lined up. His voice echoed across the parade grounds to every knight. "Our target is Achim, capital of the Valarian Province. Right now, many other units along the Outlaw's Boarders are being given the same speech I am giving you now. We have drilled for this moment for many a years. I will not tolerate failure at this point. I will expect every single one of you to willingly give your life for the mission. Achim must fall. Your country depends on you all. Take no prisoners, and fight to the death. When we win, you all will be honored among the Western Alliances.

"Our orders are simple as to our part in this upcoming battle. We are to head directly east, across the border to the small town of Khalag. After we have taken hold of that town, we are to head northeast, passing through Tendalli and then north by northeast a week or so's journey to our final stop: Achim. Each troop will be informed on their battle plans from their officers. We leave at noon. Dismissed!"

Each troop consisting of several hundred knights began to dissipate as each person went to their separate base camps. The sounds of swords clattering against armor filled the air.

"Suicide mission to Achim, eh?" Ashford, one of the knights in the same troop as Galen, the Striking Scorpions, murmured.

"Well," Galen grinned. "That's better than staying here. I'm itching for some action. Training for seven years can get to you."

"Don't remind me," Kendall, another of the Striking Scorpions, rolled his eyes as he took off his helmet.

When they finally reached the barrack tents, Galen took off his helm and belt which his sword was sheathed on. "Aie," he sighed, shaking his head back, letting his dark brown hair fall back over his shoulders. "This armor can get very warm after a while."

"I wouldn't advise taking your armor just yet," a knight called Travers said. "Quint's called a troop meeting. He's going to tell us the battle plans. Noon's only two hours away."

Galen groaned.

Grudgingly, he began to put his belt and helmet back on.


"Attention!" Commander Relken shouted.

The knights milling about suddenly stood at attention on their warmounts. Commander Relken turned to each troops' officer.

"Now is the time for us to move. We have two weeks to reach Achim on time. The Red Dragons troop will go first, then the Striking Scorpions. After them will be the Silver Steeds, then the Iron Fists troop. Understood? Let's move 'em out!"

Commander Relken turned and mounted his horse. Each officer got onto their mounts and retreated to their respective troops to inform them of their orders. The Red Dragons troop then began to move down the road towards the Outlaw's Boarder. The Striking Scorpions then moved out, followed by the Silver Steeds, then the Iron Fists.


The town of Khalag sat just over the next ridge. Since each troop was to switch positions as they traveled along so everyone could avoid getting excess amounts of kicked-up dirt in their eyes, it was the Striking Scorpion's turn to be first. The Striking Scorpions were to enter into Khalag from the west entrance while the Iron Fists were to come around from the east side, the Red Dragons from the north, and the Silver Steeds from the south.

Galen stood in the third column, seventh row from the right side of the formation. He looked up at the flagger who hid atop the ridge, waiting for the signals that the other troops were in position. The flagger suddenly raised a small blue flag, signaling the other three troops were in position.

Quint then kicked his mount which broke into a gallop. Roaring with anticipation, the troop followed suit, charging up the ridge full-tilt. The other three troops were also heading for the town. Farmers were racing from their fields, townsfolk racing for cover. All four troops then noticed a target in which all of them began to race to to see who would get first swing. A group of Valarian halberdiers was gathering into a small defensive formation near the town square.

Galen urged his mount to greater speeds as the town drew nearer. Several knights cursed noisily in annoyance when several Iron Fist knights tore straight through the Valarian's formation. The Silver Steeds reached the soldiers next, taking down the rest of the soldiers who had survived. The last two troops reached the town.

Commander Relken then rode up to the officer of the Iron Fists and assigned him to deal with the townsfolk, then try and catch up with the rest of the unit. The remaining three troops headed out up the north road. The next three days went by slowly. The Iron Fists finally caught up with the rest of the unit early the third day. Commander Relken called for the unit to halt when one of the scouts rode up on the fourth day.

After all the officers had been called together, Quint informed the troop that Tendalli was several hours away from their current position. A large group of Valarian soldiers were stationed in the city, so this battle would be a bit more difficult. Commander Relken wanted the Striking Scorpions to circle around and charge in from the three north entrances since they were lighter infantry than the other troops and would be able to get there faster than the other three troops.

As they traveled to Tendalli, the Striking Scorpions were at the head of the marching order. As the hours passed, Tendalli could finally be seen in the distance in the midst of a large forest. Large walls surrounded the outer residential areas as well as an inner wall surrounding the inner parts of the city. As they got closer to the city, it was apparent they had been expected.

Relken swore. "They must have sent a messenger north to Achim. Quint, take your troop to the north wall, now!"

Quint kicked his mount, the rest of his troop following closely behind him. Circling widely around to the west, several knights spotted a messenger heading into the forest along the north road, his horse galloping at a frenzy.

"Galen! Ashford! That messenger must be stopped!" Quint shouted as they circled around the city.

Quint knew Galen and Ashford to be two of the best and fastest riders in the troop. The two took off like bullets after the messenger, leaving the troop to circle around and get in position for the assault. That messenger could ruin the entire mission is he reached Achim. They needed to stop him. Galen urged his mount to greater speeds as the messenger could suddenly be seen further down the road. Ashford reached down to one of his horse's packs that was strapped on it and untied where his longbow had been stored. Galen looked back to see how the troop faired. It was nearly in place, but a group of riders wearing the purple sashes of Valaria were galloping after Galen and Ashford. Several more Striking Scorpion knights had detached from the troop and were giving chase since the two wouldn't last long outnumbered.

Ashford had an arrow out and was pulling his longbow back, aiming to take the messenger at a distance. The riders chasing them were lighter infantry and were catching up. Ashford aimed. Closing in on the messenger; the horse must have been a little lame, they must have sent him off too quickly without checking to see if the horse was lame or not. Riders closing in. Ashford released the arrow. The arrow flew up into the air, and then crashed down, slamming into the messenger's right shoulder. The messenger slid off the saddle to his mount and crashed to the ground from the impact of the hit.

Galen leaned down to the right, his longsword out. The messenger tried to get up, but couldn't get past his knees.

Galen's blade flashed.

Blood flew.

The messenger fell.

The two knights slowed their mounts down and turned to see the oncoming group of riders, all armed with longswords as well. Galen and Ashford pulled their shields out.

The first few riders charged up. The two swung their blades, taking down the riders. Galen parried one attack with his sword and blocked another with his shield. He stabbed at one soldier, tearing through his chainmail. He pulled his blade out and swung at another rider, hitting him with such force he was thrown from his steed. Galen bashed another rider with his shield, swinging his sword around to parry another attack. The other knights were showing up, smashing through the riders at the back of the group. The rest of the riders were quickly taken out by the now superior numbers.

"Better hurry before the battle's over," Ashford said, kicking his mount in the direction of the city where the assault had already commenced.

They headed off. Galen hopped off his mount when they reached the city walls. Since all the gates had been closed, scaling ladders had been put up and tied at the top. Galen began a quick ascent, Ashford following closely. The sound of swords clashing and people screaming had filled the air. Galen reached the top of the ladder and hopped onto the walking space along the walls which were large enough to fit a normal caravan cart on. Galen quickly found a soldier to fight, swinging around at the person's feet. The soldier swung down to parry the attack. When he did so, Galen smashed his shield into the soldier's helmet, sending him flying to the ground stunned. He ran his blade through the soldier's chest, then looked around for more soldiers to attack.

He then spotted a group of Valarian soldiers who had just reached the walls, swarming out of the towers that led to the walls. He charged, shield up and blade ready. His blade tore into one soldier. His shield arm recoiled as blow after blow assaulted his shield. He parried an attack from one soldier. A shortsword ricocheted off his shoulder, denting his armor slightly, but didn't penetrate. Galen noticed the soldiers had all surrounded him. Pain suddenly surged through his shield arm when a sword finally penetrated his shield. He let go of the straps which held his shield in place and tossed the shield at a soldier.

Another two swords beat into his back. Galen swung his sword around, tearing through one soldier and into another. He swung his armored elbow around, taking another soldier across the face. The sound of metal clashing against steel could be heard a little ways off telling Galen reinforcements had arrived. He swung his longsword with a renowned fury, tearing through armor and splitting wooden shields. As he finally tore through the last soldier, four other knights who had been assisting him raced into the tower, going down the stairs to the town below. Blood covered Galen's sword and armor. Sweat covered his face. He followed the knights down.

The streets were empty with the exception of a few groups of Valarian soldiers racing here and there. More knights began to pour from the towers, swarming through the streets, a sure sign that they'd taken control of the walls. Galen followed a group of knights that were marching down one of the streets towards the inner walls. As they passed through intersections, Galen could see other larger groups of knights heading in the same direction while others swept up and down the streets, going through each house to make sure there were no surviving soldiers or people.

Galen was glad he wasn't one of the people who had to do that part. Killing unarmed citizens was not a thing Galen liked to see and was glad to let someone else do it, even if the citizens were supporters of the enemy. The inner wall was in view.

"Spread out!" one of the knights in the group shouted when a wave of arrows suddenly began to hail down upon them.

Galen dodged aside as several arrows smashed on the ground nearby. He ran up to a building and crouched down, still moving towards the inner walls. Who knew what treasure could be found in there? Since the unit had the rule of first come first serve, Galen would need to be part of the inner wall assault if he wanted to see any of that treasure. Suddenly a scream sounded out and a Valarian archer fell from the roof of a building nearby.

'Looks like the archers are finally showing up,' Galen thought to himself. The unit he was in didn't have many archers, except those who were archers were very good shots.

When Galen and the group of knights finally reached the outside of the inner walls, the scaling ladders were already in place. Galen went up the ladder as fast as he could even though he was getting very exhausted. He reached the top of the wall and hurried over to the other side, looking down to see how the battle was fairing. Valarian soldiers were raising their swords over their heads in a sign of surrender only to be cut down by Western Alliance steel. Commander Relken had said no prisoners. Galen went down a set of stairs nearby which led to the inner grounds and set off with another group of knights in search of any surviving soldiers or treasure that could be found.


Galen took another look at the small bag of gold coins and jewels he had collected. Not a bad gain from just one city. His unit had cleared through the rest of the city and resumed their travels north towards Achim. They had traveled for six days with no signs of the enemy. Relken took it as a sign that they'd killed the only messenger sent and that Achim had no idea they were there. Or else the army had gone off to destroy another Western Alliance unit that had been reported. Galen hoped more for the first choice than the second one.

The seventh day came. In the far-off distance Galen could see a small, elevated plateau where a large city sat, surrounded by three walls, one outer, one inner, and one center. This siege would not be easy. Achim looked like it could last several seasons under siege from its size. The entire unit set up camp for the day with Achim sitting in the distance. Relken sent several scouts around to the northwest and northeast. The two other units should be camping just a little ways to the west and east of Achim. Either of those units would inform them as to if the unit to the north of Achim had reached its position yet.

The seventh day passed by slowly. Galen strode around camp, anxiously awaiting their order to attack. Galen smiled in anticipation of victory. Their entire army, which had surrounded Achim, consisted of nearly eight thousand knights, the most elite of soldiers in all the Western Alliances. There weren't many dwarves or elves in all of Galen's unit, but he had heard that several of the other units had a lot more dwarves since they had been stationed in training up in the mountains or in forests. Galen had never actually spoken with an elf or dwarf before, but he had seen them before.

The order to attack came on the eighth day during early morning. The entire unit was ready to attack an hour after the order arrived and began to move towards Achim. When the pathway up to the top of the plateau was seen, Relken shouted the order to charge. Dust flew, knights whooped with anticipation. They reached the top of the plateau several minutes later. Achim's gates were in sight; they were open! Many of the knights broke the pace that they were going to look about in confusion. Hadn't the soldiers of Achim seen the army charging from all directions?

Relken, suspecting something odd was afoot, shouted for everyone to slow down to a slow walk and to stay on guard. They entered the city, everyone's eyes swerving around to take anything in in case of an ambush. The streets were empty. Every building's doors and windows had been boarded shut. An eerie wind howled through the vacant streets. Something was wrong. A chill shot through Galen's spine. Something was definitely wrong.

Slowly the unit made its way into the city, finally passing the second wall. This is stupid, Galen thought to himself. Can't anyone else see that this is a trap?

A call sounded out in the distance. "Ambush!"

Galen suddenly spun in his saddle to look back and saw the streets, now entirely filled with a swarm of purple-vested soldiers. There were thousands of them. They had known we were coming! Galen's mind shouted. The mission is going to fail! We're outnumbered!

Galen's longsword and shield flashed out and he turned his mount around. Both sides clashed. Even though the Valarian soldiers were on foot, they were taking down knights at an alarming pace. Galen swung down at a soldier who had managed to get past the first line of knights, taking the soldier's head off. The Valarians were breaking through the first line.

Galen took down another two soldiers. Suddenly, arrows began to hail down from the roofs of buildings. How had they missed spotting the archers as well as the soldiers, Galen cursed at himself. An arrow suddenly cut his thoughts short when it struck his horse. The animal crashed to the ground, throwing Galen into the swarm of soldiers. His longsword flew from his grip as he hit the ground, stunned from the impact. He shook his head and attempted to get to his feet to avoid being trampled to death.

Suddenly a sword slammed into the back of Galen's helmet, sending him into a swirling darkness.


The Tale of Thunder: Chapter 1 - Assault on Achim © Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)

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