Bill and Jane packed their belongings, waved Bronson goodbye, and left for the city.
For Bill the time seemed to pass more quickly than before. He could finally talk to someone his own age, and from what Bronson told him he had a feeling it was a first for Jane too. It seemed she led the same isolated life as him.
They had left Badlands shortly after noon, once again entering the peaceful green forest. Several multi-coloured birds chirped and played in the trees and patches of blueberries glistened softly in the forest moss. The sunlight played gently with the shadows of leaves upon the flower carpets that covered the two friends' surroundings. After almost two weeks of living in the Badlands, Bill finally felt safe.
"So, when do you think are we going to reach the city?" Asked Jane after a long moment of silence.
"In two or three days." Answered Bill.
"Why do you want to join this Royal Guard so badly?"
"It's a kind of a family tradition. My father had also joined it when he was my age, and his father had too." Bill smiled.
"I remember the stories my dad used to tell on the cold winter nights when the whole family assembled in the dining room. He told us all about the Battle of Terra, and how he saved the King's life during the enemy's retreat."
"The Battle of Terra? What's that?"
"You've never heard about the Battle?" Asked Bill, astonished.
"No, I haven't. My father's never even mentioned it" She said.
"The Battle of Terra ended the Great War, and it was the most important battle of the century. Here, let me tell you all about it..."
Even though a few months have passed since the story's last update, I decided to go ahead and continue it. I already have a few next chapters written in advance, so hopefully I won't run out of material too quickly. @daderpycoolguy and @Treesmasher please message me if you still wish to be subscribed.
The Silver Sword, the Prelude to the Battle of Terra
As I'm sure you know, our kingdom is divided into twelve districts, each governed by a Duke.
Each Duke answers only to the King and is a member of the high Council. The Council and the monarch meet every day, discussing matters concerning our kingdom.
But thirty years ago not everyone agreed with those set rules. The old King had died and a new one was chosen, a young member of the Council considered by many to be weak and unfit to rule the kingdom.
Several Dukes who didn't agree with the choice had decided to take matters into their own hands. The uprising was led by the Duke of High Hills, a district in the far south, in the middle of the Great Desert.
The Duke, Duncan the Angry, had amassed an army of ten thousand men and twenty thousand summoned minions, which was over three times as much as the King and the Dukes supporting him had.
In fact, the only advantages we had over Duncan were mounts - slimes, bees, turtles and a few Pigrons - and a genius, the Royal Tactician.
The War went on for many years. Many brave warriors were lost on both sides of the conflict, with both Duncan's and the King's forces almost decimated. All of our trusty mounts were slaughtered by the enemy. Frankly, we didn't know what to do. The King and what was left of the Council spent hours with the Royal Tactician trying to devise the perfect plan to get rid of Duncan once and for all.
Finally they decided on drawing the enemy to the City. Such a maneuver would hopefully seem to Duncan like the perfect chance to strike us down. Then we'd spring our trap, and the Battle of Terra, the concluding battle of the Great War, would truly begin.
The plan was quite simple; we wanted to lead the remaining enemy forces right to our King's strongest keep, the City itself...
And open our gates to them.
We hoped Duncan, in all his arrogance, would perceive this as admitting defeat. We hoped he would enter the castle thinking himself
to be the Victor, with only a few of his mightiest knights by his side. We even had peasants on the walls throwing flowers down at him
to keep the illusion up - our own knights hidden and ready to close the gates shut, thus locking the Usurper in our stronghold.
We hoped the enemies would drop their weapons after seeing their leader captured.
Unfortunately, battles rarely go according to plan.
Our nation's greatest historians still argue over what exactly went wrong that day; I believe it's quite obvious - it was the Royal Tactician's
betrayal. We should have suspected his unbelievable skill in conducting battles, the intelligence that bordered on genius, was actually fake -
he was just relaying whatever information his evil master deemed unimportant enough to relay. All while waiting for a moment like this, of course;
a moment when we would try to finish it all in one final attempt. When one hastily sent letter could determine the outcome of a war.
And so, when we opened our gates to the enemy, no one came.
The Silver Sword, the Battle of Terra: the Attack
The attacking forces instead surrounded the City, effectively locking us, and not the enemy, inside.
The situation quickly got critical. The Stronghold had nowhere near enough food to feed our whole army for
any length of time, it was unfit to even house that many; people where forced to sleep on the streets, and the nights were cold.
Soon, with everyone already half-starved, the King and his Council assembled in the Royal Room.
But the King could no longer trust his own councillors. Even though the Tactician's head was already hanging on a pike on the city walls,
the enemy has succeded in planting distrust deep in the hearts of the kingdom's greatest. We no longer knew what to do. And so the Council has
decided on another risky, even more unpredictable plan - this time only a select few were let in on the secret. While the bulk of the army would divert
the attention of Duncan's soldiers, a small division comprised of the king himself and five other knights would try to assassinate the usurper. Most of our people
wouldn't even know they are essentially being used as bait.
Does this idea sound desperate to you? Good. It was.
The commotion was arranged to begin at midnight. The cavallery led the charge, and as the remains of our weakening force piled out from the now open gates
everyone could truly appreciate the battle spirit of our knights. Starved, underslept and cold, these people thought they were undertaking
a suicide attempt; and they had no idea they would be hailed as heroes for centuries to come.
Meanwhile, a small unit of six snuggled out the secret passageway leading to the far side of the forest behind the city walls. Marching underground in a very
un-kinglike manner, the King slowly put on his iron helmet, and got ready for the fight.
The Battle of Terra has begun.