The wait before battle was always the worst, at least that’s what everyone said. Leon silently chuckled at that thought, to him that just wasn’t the case. That wasn’t to say he believed the statement was false. There was plenty of evidence to suggest pre-battle jitters were rough.
Such as the pile of vomit he found himself standing in, compliments of the young man to his right.
No, Leon just never had a problem waiting for a fight to begin. His anxiety was more directed to the blades and bows his enemies wielded. Any one of which could more easily take his life with a single moment of distraction, than the quiet ride to said weapons.
“Take a breath,” Leon said holding the shoulder of the sickly man. ”The moment that door comes down, you’ll need to fight like a devil. If we can make a foothold our job’s done.”
A sad smile took place on the young soldier's face.
They both knew their chances of survival. They were in the first rank, nothing would stand between them and the enemy once that door opened, it was do or die.
Leon had no idea how old the guy was, but if forced to guess, he would say a year or two under himself at twenty one.
Count Kelos had to really want this town if he was conscripting already. The war wasn’t even six months old and already losses were high. At least to the point that the civilians were giving the noble enough pressure that he hired mercenaries from his own coffers. No doubt planning to raise taxes after the war, to cover the costs.
Leon hid a grimace. He was no soldier, he chose this. At least in a way. He chose to risk his life for profit. He chose to fight in a war he had no real opinion of. Hell he even chose to join this assault.
There was a bonus in it after all.
The room shook. Shouting and the sound of battle could be heard clearly now.
“Brace!” A voice sounded from the left. Leon recognized it to be Patricks, not to be taken lightly.
Leon reached for the wooden hand hold in front of him. This was no time to be contemplating useless information like this. It may sound harsh, but in the end that’s what it was.
Nothing would matter once that door came down, either he survived to complain another day or not. He had to remind himself that no amount anxious thinking now would help him survive.
Huh, maybe I’m more nervous than I thought.
A reassuring hand appeared from behind and rested on his shoulder.
Roger was his closest friend, so it was obvious when Leon's rhythmic breathing went off cadence. While normally he wouldn't need to be reaffirmed before battle, Leon trusted Roger to always have his back. That was why Leon didn’t even bat an eye when Roger entered the siege tower after him.
Well, that and the bonus.
“Ready to put that shiny new armor of yours to the test?” Roger said over Leon’s shoulder.
“Is that why you’re behind me? Not to use me as a shield?” Leon replied with a sideways grin.
“Sorry, can’t hear you past that helmet. I’ll just assume you’ve realized how precious this face of mine is, and accept your offer to guard it.” Roger said back, gesturing toward his face, mostly left uncovered from his own helm.
“So future historians can ponder how the hell an ogre found its way into a siege tower?”
Roger's reply had been a punch to the back of Leons shoulder, followed by a quick yelp when Rogers fist was reminded of the aforementioned armor.
“So, did it pass your test?” Leon asked with a grin no smaller than shit eating.
Considering Rogers' lack of a retort, Leon would say yes, yes it did.
“Unlatch the door!” Patricks demanding voice sounded. The thumps of arrows could be clearly heard from their front. Others along the front line readied their shields, Leon did not. His armor would be enough. Covered in full plate he probably stood a better chance against arrows than any man with just a shield. While Roger may have been joking earlier, Leon really was curious on how his new set would hold up. What he had before was just a collection of looted pieces of plate and chainmail, poorly fitted and very ugly.
Still though, it served him well. Probably saving his life many times over. As the only one in this tower in full plate, it would be his job to catch as much attention from the enemy as possible. It was the job of Roger and the others to make sure he didn’t get overwhelmed by the numbers against him.
They were left waiting for the signal to release the ramp. Patricks’ was perched on the only window, waiting for the other towers down the line to get in place. Leon was patient, knowing they all had a better chance if all the towers opened at once, stretching the town garrison as thin as possible.
“On my Signal!” The voice sounded again. Nervous voices and gasps filled the cramped compartment.
“DOWN THE RAMP!” Patrick screamed to the group.
Leon pushed as hard as he could on the wall in front of him, along with the rest of the front row. The door came down, letting in the outside world and finally giving the men a breath of fresh air.
Along with arrows. Lots of arrows.
Leons ears rang with the sound of projectiles shattering into splinters as they battered against his armor. Screams and yelps of pain could be heard as well as well placed arrows hitting their mark in any unshielded flesh they could find.
“Charge!” A warcry sounded.
Leons focus narrowed as he charged ahead of the others, giving a petrifying scream to any soul that would listen. Leon needed to draw as much attention as he could before the next volley hit the spearmen lagging behind, less shielded than the now decimated front line.
It seemed fewer archers aimed for him than he would have guessed. Most of the frontline was absent, including the conscript he consoled.
The enemy front line was only a few meters away as Leon's eyes were drawn by the expressions of the men in front of him.
Terror. Panic. Sick.
Almost no different than the boy from earlier. Most of the gazes were focused now solely on his face. Well his helmet at least.
The effect had been purposeful on Leon’s part. For a moment part of the line froze leaving their weapons slack and guard open. That moment was all Leon needed as he met the line, brushing two spears out of the way closing the distance. With no hesitation he went for a killing strike on one of the soldiers he set off balance. The wall being too crowded for his spear this close, the terrified man had no time to pull another weapon as Leons’ sword chopped into his meaty neck.
With a sickening scape against bone, the sword was quickly drawn free. The other defenders were at a loss. Pull blades to deal with the man already in their ranks and suffer from the rest of the attackers who were right behind Leon, or keep up the spears to deal with the attackers.
Leon deigned to not give them a chance to decide. His next target actually had time to draw his short sword.The young man's face covered in fear as Leon set upon him.
“What are you!?” The man screamed in terror as Leon struck with an overhead swing.
The blades clashed loudly as Leon pondered what the man meant, if only for a moment. Managing to parry a blow from Leon had reinvigorated the man as he made to counter attack. Jousting forward into a stab, a hopeful expression on his face.
One that would remain even in death as Leon sidestepped the lunge. Chopping the back of the man's neck with a well placed attack in the unarmoured area.
All of this took place in only a few seconds, each of which easily meaning death in combat.
“Hold the Line!”
Leon looked over as his allies clashed with the rest of the enemy line. The area Leon hit was nearly decimated thanks to the opening in the spear wall, the men were being made short work of. Right as the groups met, Leon was hit by several attacks, most were easily shrugged off as his armor took the hits. Though a solid strike had knocked his head pretty hard from behind.
Having to correct his footing, Leon took several steps ahead putting him deeper in enemy lines. Leon turned his head, to see six men in between him and his allies.
During the brief fight, several plucky soldiers had taken the opportunity to get behind Leon. These men didn’t have the same fear ridden expressions as the others.
Instead of being drafted from the population these men were most likely part of the standing army. Which was not good news for Leon. He had no fear facing up against peasants given a spear and told to fight, but these men were trained and drilled regularly. Given proper arms and armor. They wouldn’t break as easily.
They weren’t idiots either; three of them went to fill the line where Leon's preemptive attack had left a breach. While they only had swords instead of spears, it may still be enough to hold off his allies while Leon was being dealt with.
Twisting fully around with practiced footwork, Leon spotted the man that must have made the hit. An older man perhaps mid-forties, with greying streaks in both his hair and neatly trimmed beard. This man without a doubt was a veteran. Most likely the man in charge, judging by the sash that bisected his chestplate.
The veteran sported a full set of armor. While it may not all be plate, chainmail was no joke. The biggest weakness visible was his helmet. Leons’ guess was since he needed to be heard and recognized by the troops he couldn’t afford to be wearing a full visored helm.
Leon couldn't make any mistake. If these men were able to pin him they could easily finish him off with a well placed stab. His best bet would be to hold them off for the moments needed for Roger and the others to reach him.
Though that may be hard.
The men around saw Leon and immediately gave room around him. Several of the further back soldiers even drew weapons to keep him surrounded.
This was not good, no matter how skilled of a warrior you are, the moment you're attacked from all sides, you’re dead. So he needed to think fast, the way the veteran looked he would at the very least put up enough of a fight the others would take the opportunity to grapple him.
Leon Ducked his head and put his shoulder forward. With one last yell he charged directly toward the grey haired veteran. Seeing the large Leon barreling toward him, the veterans eyes widened. Realizing what Leon's plan was, the man went to move out the way only to be blocked on either side by his own men.
Leon braced for the impact, doing his best to angle away from the siege tower. Right for the edge of the wall. His charge caught the man directly in the mid section, taking him off his feet. Leon felt a sharp pain in his shoulder unsurprisingly. As he charged passed, the other two men took shots at Leon, both of which hit hard enough to ring his ears.
The old soldier tried to right himself as he fell. One of his feet only barely scraping the wall, his hands flailed for purchase, only to find none. A loud scream echoed, abruptly stopping along with his short journey to the ground below.
Leon fell to his knees breathing heavy. The pain in his shoulder still flared. He turned his head to see Roger covering his back taking on one of the career soldiers. The other of which was laying on the ground with a dented helmet, courtesy of Rogers' war hammer. The rest of the battle was going in their favor, Leon's distraction and preemptive strike having taken out the leadership of the enemy.
With no one to lead them, the conscripted troops' morale dropped severely. Leading to a trickling route, as more and more men started to lose heart and run. Roger went to kneel by Leon, having just finished off his opponent.
“My God, what the hell was that!?” Roger asked exasperated, worry plastered across his face. “You nearly died!”
“What’d you mean?” Leon asked, lifting his face plate to reveal a wide grin . “jus’ testing the armor.”
“Haha, well it looks like it's got a few weak spots.” Roger responded sarcastically.
Leon gave Roger a questioning look.
“Weak spots? Thought it held up pretty well.”
Roger then gestured to Leon's shoulder, in which a long spike jutted out. No doubt a present left behind by the now dead veteran.
“Oh! Well I guess you're right. Shit, Amelia’s gonna be livid.”