“Ladders!” called out Matvey in warning as he was pulled away from the window by Alfana.
Feldard cussed at hearing the boys shrill warning. He glanced about quickly determining who could be spared. “Hasan, go assist Stephan, Pyotr and Taras in keeping the tower battlements secure. We will be lost if they take the tower from above. The boy and the women can remain in the bed chamber continuing to provide archery cover. Stellios take your sling and go assist the archers.”
With the charge on… Feldard began his own bellowed out singing, a dwarven tune meant to inspire everyone to battle with dwarven ferocity. He stood alongside Maruc, waiting with axe in hand, for the magically held door to fail under the goblin onslaught. He and his companions would prevail—of that he had no doubt.
Maruc grinned blightly at the scowling dwarf. “I’m getting a curious feeling of ‘deja-vu’ here. Try not to get yourself killed my friend, ‘Hacked to pieces by a fifteen foot Bone Golem’ is something to put on a headstone not ‘Stabbed by Brogg the Goblin Cesspit-Licker.’ Maruc slowly winked as he waited for the magic on the door to fail.
Mage-wrought words tumbled in quick succession as Miklos tried to hold the power of more magic in his already tired mind. Goblins. One would have thought they’d have given up by now. His dry eyes blinked back the residual grit and his head span with the aftereffects of the poison. If the words were less familiar this task would be impossible.
‘Its not the words themselves that are important,’ his lecturer on runes had said, ‘but it is utterance that forces the mind to become a funnel or focus for residual magic to collect different spell affect its ’shape’ and ‘type’ which is why and unpracticed mind can only hold so much. Can you imagine how much power you need to control to force a gateway between worlds?’
Right now he could. The sigils in front of him blurred as he fought to control the poison, the growing headache and the twisting focus of his spell. The yelling of the boy next to him wasn’t helping.
Miklos eventually recited the last word. The spell teetered and wobbled barely under his command. The haze of pain threatened to undo his work. There was no finesse. He elbowed the boy away from the arrowslit and with an explosion of effort he unloaded the sleep incantation at the crowd of chagrined goblins that were somehow repulsed by a doorway that was essentially a table.
Virtually all of them slumped over where they stood, dropping their axes. The four that remained were the largest of the bunch. They abandoned their attempts at kicking the table away–having determined that it was held in place by some force they did not understand. Instead, they hacked at the thick oak of the table—it wouldn’t be long before they would be able to breach the makeshift enchanted barrier.
Miklos slumped back out of the way of the arrowslit. There was a jug of water on the bedside table. He drank some and splashed the rest on his face. Refreshened, he looked up and he frowned. He swore he saw a goblin climb past, upwards. Crossing to the arrowslit he looked closer. A ladder, then a goblins head, then a goblin scimitar jabbed through the hole forcing Miklos to step back stand on his robe and collapse on the floor. Cursing, he picked himself up and fumbled around for his staff. Fortunately, he had left it behind in here when he had run from the bat.
Grimacing, he took up the staff rammed it through the arrow slit at the surprised goblin, but he was aiming at the goblin. The staff wedged against the bound corner of a rung and with all the force he could muster he began to push the ladder outwards. The frantic goblin slashed his crude axe against the seasoned oak of the staff. Beads of sweat sprung from the mage as the weight of the goblins kept the ladder against the tower he wondered the goblin would whittle his staff to nothing before the ladder started to move. A disturbing crack came from his complaining staff. He was pushing a full tilt and he knew he wasn’t going to shift it when suddenly the staff shot forward.
Mikos thought his staff had finally snapped. Then he heard the cries of flailing goblins. He sank to the floor again exhausted.
Pyotr winked at him as he darted for the stairwell. “You looked like you needed a hand,” he laughed. Then he vanished up to the battlements.
“Thanks.” Miklos said, staring at the hacked remains of his staff.
Stephan found himself bounding up the tower stairs before Matvey shouted “ladders” a second time. Pyotr, though severely wounded, was behind him.
As he reached the top, Stephan was a bit startled to not see his older brother right behind. But the visage before him instantly consumed his full attention.
Taras lay clutching his shoulder where a lucky goblin arrow had found it’s mark. For the moment, he was safe behind the battlements.
Hasan was deftly loosing arrows and taking cover between shots. “Don’t poke your head over. They’re covering for the ladders.”
Stephan could see the ladders tilting toward the tower with a few goblins already part way up as their mates below strained to leverage the ladders against the tower. He took aim, along with Hasan, at the ladders.
“I’ll take the one on the left.”
“The right for me then.”
“And I’ll join you brother, at the left. I’ll shoot lower.” Stephan was pleased to see Pyotr crouching at his side.
On Hasan’s mark, the three loosed arrows at the teetering goblins. Two struck their mark sending squealing goblins plummeting to the ground below.
Taras, having dealt with what turned out to be a slight wound. Joined them for the next volley.
There were so many of them, crawling like insects up the ladders. As soon as the defenders brought one down, another ladder took its place. Finally, two of the goblins made it inside, Stephan sliced down one of the pair with his sword. The other managed to lightly wound the warrior as he adjusted his positioning, preparing to meet what was now a steady stream of goblins that burst into the room.
Thankfully, they had done a pretty handy job at thinning their ranks. Only nine remained to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the Sukiskynians. To take them on, there were the brothers Stephan and Pyotr. The son and wife, Taras and Darya. And lastly the elf, Hasan. Irina and Stellios were ill-suited to melee combat, and as per the plan, retreated to join the other non-combatants.
Meanwhile, downstairs the table/door finally gave way to goblin steel. Four goblins burst forth. One appeared to be a standard Red-Blade grunt, but the other three were larger and better equipped.
Amazed to see the dwarf yet alive, the clan-head shouted goblinian epithets as he followed the others into the room. Swinging a large, blood-red-painted battle axe, he made a direct line towards Feldard, followed by one of his lieutenants, and the other two darted for Maruc.