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Изменено (AggressiveBacon): 1/11/2019 10:05:20 PM

The Lords of Ambros (Chapter 9, Part 3)

Table of Contents: [b]Chapter 9, Part 3[/b] By the time of Timur and his host’s departure, at the first show of dawn, a blanket of fog had begun to gather upon the gray plain that surrounded them-a notable occurrence, given the general aridity of the region. Once they had drawn near enough to their destination to observe the place of their opponents’ refuge, the fog had thickened substantially. Thankfully, however, the cloud was also drawn closer to the ground, and so hid little from sight. Before the party of Risen stood a sheer wall of stone, which arched forward at its center. A ravine split the precipice at its crest, continuing into the formation for an appreciable distance before vanishing from view. It seemed to beckon them. This invitation was not a benevolent one, however-rather, the scene held an eerie sort of quality. Fog spilled from the canyon’s mouth, and jagged rubble lay about its sides, resulting from ages of weather and wear. Yet even more threatening were those things spotted atop the cliffs: the slender smoke trails of dead fires-their flames having feasted throughout the night only to starve at Sol’s return-and the purple banners of Albios, each bearing an angular white helm as its sole symbol. The latter, the onlooking Lords knew, had been the last sight of a great many souls. Partially in recognition of this, many of those in Timur’s host were hesitant to approach the site further. Still, neither the smoke nor the standards brought the brunt of their fear. That fell instead to the party of Chosen who stood at the cliff’s center, guarding the pass which ran it through. The Warlords were arranged in three rows: the nearest of three abreast, and the others of four. They stood unmoving amid the shifting fog, as statues of stark white, armed and armored for battle. Only the rustling of their cloaks and the hairs of their leader’s crest betrayed the true nature of their existence. They perceived the Wolves’ arrival, but their voices did not cry out, nor did their eyes shift from their level gaze. Timur rode forward at a canter. His dark steed might have recalled to the minds of his watchers the old legends of Death, were any still living who could tell such tales. He allowed his helm to dissipate before addressing the rival force. “Warriors of Albios,” Timur called, his voice alone daring to challenge the calm. “Why have you come to this place?” Timur, of course, already knew their answer. “We come for war,” a voice replied grimly. “And for honor. And, if Fate should see it fit, for death.” “Then I cannot dissuade you from your cause?” Timur responded, his voice that of one making an observation rather than an inquiry. “You cannot,” the speaker confirmed. Timur’s eyes grew hard, and his voice low. “Then you shall find all that you seek.” Having said all that was due, the scholar wheeled his horse about and crossed the fog once more. ________________________________________ Charlie stood at his father’s side, his brothers behind them, and listened-just as all others in the camp-to the brief exchange. Though he was to have no part in the coming battle, the boy could feel the tension mounting about him, and was himself quite anxious because of it. Only the Lords below seemed truly at ease. When all was said, and the already faint hoofbeats of the Wolf’s mount had faded with distance, the men sat, unmoving, and waited. All was now done that was to be done. That is, aside from the dying. Banners fluttered in the wind. In the distance, thunder rumbled. Perhaps it would rain-a heavy rain: one to drown out the screams and the gunfire; to wash away the blood. Perhaps it would snow, and bury their corpses. Or maybe, just maybe, their bodies would lie in the open, for all to see…and they would rot. Charlie felt now, more than ever, that he needed a weapon. A shot rang out, and a corpse struck the ground. What followed could only be described as Hell, though those who survived would not wish to recount it at all. ________________________________________ “Shields!” SynIva cried, presenting his own between himself and the attacking Wolves. The sounds of motion emanated from behind the Warlord as his fellows did the same-that is, all save for the Lord at his right, who lay motionless in the dirt. Another slid forward to fill the fallen’s place, shielding his resurrection from unfriendly eyes. More rounds began to pepper the warriors of Albios, though these were lesser than that which they succeeded, and so did little more than break against the Ambrosians’ shields. When the suppressive fire began to slow, the Chosen responded in kind, their rifle-fire tearing into the nearest of the Wolves, who had trusted in the protection of several insufficiently-sized boulders. Though some were initially felled, their Ghosts were slight enough in size to gain the stones’ full cover, and so the Lords’ deaths were only fleeting. Once they readied to reenter the fray, however, those of their comrades still atop mounts shifted tactics, fanning outward to encircle the Ambrosians before them. Making note of this, SynIva called for the first ranks of his warriors to lower their spears. Just as his command was given, the Lords of Iron charged. At this, those of the Chosen still bearing rifles opened fire, unseating a handful of their prospective attackers before they could advance. Still, nigh upon a dozen of the Wolves continued onward, drawing their own blades to meet the spears of Albios. ________________________________________ [Continued]

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