The ominous gray wall loomed over Gurley like a drooling hound staring down upon a pile of discarded dinner scraps. Wisps of rain sprayed outwards into the dead silence of the eye. Sunlight drowned in darkness as the storm wall crept forward towards the band of stragglers before it.
Gurley’s horse whined as he struggled to keep his balance. He pulled hard to the right on the reins and his mare steadied beneath him now that it was not directly facing the wall. The other boys were having similar difficulty. In front of the group, Gurley watched as the warhorse beneath Orten stood like a stone pillar, rain splashing against it’s bridle. Gurley craned his neck and looked up and around the storm wall. “You sure we need to be riding through that?”
Orten spurred his massive mount forward. At first it was a slow trot, but he quickly built speed. “Remember, meet at the Sentinels.” Orten’s voice trailed off as he disappeared under a vale of fog and driving rain.
Gurley knew this was not the time to hesitate. Orten would not be gentle with those that did not follow, so he drove his good leg into the side of his horse. The beast bucked and neighed loudly, but it obeyed. Gurley approached the wall. A quick glance to his side revealed the other boys following. The bright day turned into dark night as he passed into the storm wall and a sudden cold cut a thousand wounds into his skin. The horizontal rain sliced at his vision. Fading pockets of light guided him forward and the occasional peak of the sun ensured he maintained a southerly direction. He crested a ridge and spurred his horse hard enough to will it down the embankment.
The horse crashed through the undergrowth. Gurley never saw the tree branch. He hit the ground with a sickening crack of bones echoing out into the fierce storm. His horse screamed as he locked the reins in a death-like grip forcing the horses neck backwards. The horse jerked and pulled free. Come back. The animal was gone before Gurley could push the thought to his lips. Darkness consumed him.
Enlil looked up at the storm wall as it hovered over the road leading out of the camp. His assumption was Gray Court lay in ruin a short distance down the road, leveled beneath the massive storm. This brought a smile to his face. The final coward deserters that had left over the past day would have flocked to Gray Court only to find it in no better shape than the camp.
Enlil turned and looked back towards the remnants of the camp. Outside of the blacksmith, Rodhero, no one could be seen. Rodhero, of stout frame, continued his picking and separating of the pieces of the camp before dragging select pieces back to his makeshift working area. Rodhero was not part of the army proper. Enlil had enlisted him after finding him slaving away on pots and trinkets in Gray Court. Rodhero had proven invaluable during the supply shortages with masterful skill when working bladed weapons. Enlil mulled over whether to release the smith from his duty.
The camp was not going to be raised again. Enlil knew that much. Outside of a few tents, including his own, the destruction was final and months of supply shortages ensured there was nothing to rebuild with. The debris that lay scattered across the camp’s grounds would be picked clean once the storm passed. From his estimate, the eye of the storm had situated itself like a prison directly over the castle which he suspected is what kept the castle’s inhabitants contained. However, it wouldn’t be long before they realized nothing more than the storm held them captive. The storm was destructive, but it wasn’t washing away a castle anytime soon. Castle Black would most likely send scouts out sooner than later and at that point, Enlil knew his failure would be final.
The Reichland forces on the other side of the southern wall of the storm would prevent escape in that direction leaving the only route of escape to the north. Without fear of the Eatern Army there was little to stop anyone that wished to flee. Gray Court would more than welcome the refugees and their looted plunder from the Castle vaults. That’s if Gray Court hadn’t been brought down to anything more than stone foundations.
While the events of the past two days troubled Enlil, they did not trouble him nearly as much as losing sight of the Fravashi. After knocking him senseless for a fortnight, they had all but disappeared. Not even Govad, with his trusted western senses had taken note of where they had gone. It seemed that the Fravashi had been replaced by their cursed storm. Yet, something ate at Enlil. A gut feeling that told him they were not far away. Which is why he had sent Govad to find them.
Turning once again towards the storm wall, Enlil let his mind wander. He thought back to the days leading up to his arrival in the camp. He remembered how fierce the force had looked that day, aligned in the marching yard. The elegant organization: a dozen Cadres broken down into perfect formation, the feathers of the Wind Lords flowing in the wind. The king’s banner: the crimson star upon a white field. The white uniforms of the officers, punctuating the sections, stood in stark contrast to the leather draped soldiers.
The sight of a proper military force. One for him to command. It had inspired him that day. His soldiery ways were in his past and his climb of the leadership ranks was about to begin. There was hope in that first day. However, it was crushed when he had met with the incumbent Wind Captain. Vico had been his name, of house Katara. He was young. Too young to be a Feathered Sergeant, let alone a Wind Captain. The boy had hardly began growing hair on his baby-smooth chin.
The situation grew cumbersome quickly as Enlil took military turn over from Vico. The boy had not documented anything. Supplies were not tracked, discipline was lax, and the camp finances were in disastrous shape. Vico had done nothing more than ensure the men could form up in neat rows and put on a show. The camp was meant only for show. How this farce had kept Castle Black holed up was beyond Enlil.
However, in the despair of what Vico had left him, Enlil had found a mission. And even though that mission eventually lead to disaster on the field below the castle walls and left Enlil drowning in ale and the handsome clutches of a different whore every few days, he felt accomplishment. If anything he had shown the king the betrayal that this camp had thrust upon the kingdom. It was him, after all, who was betrayed by the lack of preparation imparted upon his station.
It was no surprise that Govad had returned without having found the Fravashi. He opined that they were probably in the storm, if not the storm itself. Enlil had not been pleased with that assumption. Enlil shook his fist towards the sky above the storm wall in a silent protest.
Word count: 4630
Post a Comment
Join the conversation; leave a comment!