Within seconds of battle, Rohl could already hear the screams and shouts of pain as the two forces slaughtered each other. Lines of spears brought down hulking trolls as the rampages of wendigoes butchered all in their path. Arrows and spells flew, piercing and disintegrating countless monsters as war bats moved to harass the back lines. Cavalry charged, running down goblins and trolls but not without heavy casualties of their own as men were brought down off their horses and devoured by monsters too strong or nimble for the riders to combat.
Rohl’s fate was no different, as he led the charge into the enemy forces, a brutish ogre tossed its wooden club straight towards him. The club smashed into the ground before him, the sound and of the collision sent his horse rearing and him flailing off of its back.
He landed harshly onto his chest, the force of the fall left him struggling to regain his breath. It took several quick painful breaths before he could finally push himself off the ground. To his great relief, a small circle of spears had formed around him, the sharp points kept the monsters from closing the gap and killing him while he laid unable to defend himself.
These spears protected him as the battle raged around them but in only a short moment, he saw the lines begin to break down. It would soon become a mad brawl rather than an organised engagement, despite the general’s best efforts.
More monsters soon breached the lines and as more beats began to pour through the gaps, any semblance of battle lines vanished. In mere seconds, it had evolved from a cohesive battle to a fight where small detachments of soldiers soon found themselves fighting their own monsters.
Rohl’s small group was no different, as the soldiers fought to hold back the ogre, several goblins slipped through the gaps and engaged the soldiers in small 1v1 engagements. As the small creatures rushed in, he slashed one down with a quick strike from his own sword. The second he used as a shield, the archer and mage support from the city’s walls had never ceased and with the lines gone, it became harder to pick out friend and foe. One such arrow flew straight towards their group and only quick thinking allowed Rohl to dive to his left and force the creature between the arrow and him.
Whilst such shots were risky, the support seemed to be keeping the soldiers from being completely overwhelmed by the encroaching mass of monsters. He saw arrows and spells pick off any monster that was stupid enough to stay still for too long, a impaling spider took a bolt straight to the eye as it tried to pierce its prey. But with the risk of friendly fire too high, many smaller monsters went unimpeded.
Rohl so dearly wished this hadn’t been the case as more ferocious enemies flooded towards him. Even now, moments after he’d slain the goblins, a bugbear rushed forward to challenge him, but he wasn’t the inexperienced beginner he’d been when he’d left Furbrough. With ease, he sidestepped its axe and brought forth his own sword, he cut deep into its outstretched arm before he struck straight at its now unprotected chest. It died with the look of challenge still engraved on its face.
Two more charged at the death of their comrade, the left one gave a vengeful roar and rushed, its jaw aimed straight at his neck. Rohl didn’t hesitate in striking it down with a quick slash across its face. The other one moved to his left; he parried its blow before thrusting his sword deep into its gut. It was a needlessly brutal wound but he had no choice, he still lacked a lot of the skill other fighters had.
Rohl hadn’t found the bugbears too much of a challenge but they had served as enough of a distraction for a wolf rider to charge at him, it had gone unnoticed, hidden by the thick fur and large bodies of the bugbears.
It bolted straight at him and with a panic yelp, Rohl just managed to move his leg out of the way of its bite. Only his quick reaction had stopped his leg from being torn to shreds by the beasts. In cohesion with the wolf’s attack, the goblin struck his small spear towards Rohl’s chest. His dodge got his body just far away enough for his leather armour to stop the spear from piercing through and into his flesh.
In return, Rohl rushed his own attack, stabbed his blade into the wolf’s skull with his right hand as his left moved to grab the goblins spear. His attack killed the wolf, it collapsed to its right with a terrible cry of pain. The goblin had remained mounted and was now trapped underneath its mount, its spear was still in Rohl’s hand. With a small look of pity and sorrow, he brought the spear down into the struggling goblin.
The battlefield was littered with similar scenes and the bodies of both beast and man. All battlelines shad broken down in this mad scramble, little semblance of order or formation remained as the monsters swarm continued to pour in.
A wendigo proved to be Rohl’s next challenger, it ran down an unfortunate soldier before turning to size him up. Rohl stood unsure of what to do, he was hesitant to fight such a powerful monster, one he would surely struggle to kill. Even as he stood, sword shaking in his hand, the horrifying beast continued to prowl towards him.
A loud bellowing horn interrupted their standoff. Both man and monster turned at the sound. The bellow erupted again as guards, soldiers and adventurers poured out of Elmon’s gates. The defenders had sortied to reinforce the 4th legion. Rohl could feel an increased drain on his blessing as the new combatants flooded the field, the drain was harsh but he held steady. They would need his blessing and the advantage they provided gave his side the advantage even if their boost was not as strong as he had given the 4th legion.
Elmon defenders charged straight into the flank of the enemy, and with the enemy already fighting across the battlefield, these new combatants had maintained some semblance of order. They drew soldiers to their lines and with them came a semblance of a cohesive force. This new force pushed the enemy back, with adventurers bringing the specialised monster-slaying knowledge that the average solder lacked.
Still, even with these new additions, men and beast alike died in droves. Bodies littered the ground screams filled the air and the stench of blood became almost overwhelming. It was an absolutely horrific sight and one which almost drained Rohl’s will to fight as he stood and observed the carnage of battle.
He didn’t know how long he stood in this horrified daze, only that the force of a familiar face wrapping him in a tight hug brought him out of it. A face with bright silver eyes and black braided hair, Mimi was hugging him and even without the daze, Rohl could barely believe she was here. He had not expected to see her here, it took him a second to overcome his surprise and finally return the hug.
A familiar voice emerged from his left “Hey, as his mentor shouldn’t I be the one to greet him, still look at little Rohly now, killing monsters left and right. I’m so proud,” Quinn spoke as both Terrance and Thaddeus took up defensive positions around them, only giving Rohl rushed nods of acknowledgement as they did so.
“Mimi, Quinn, Terrance, Thaddeus, what are you all doing here?
“Aww, he still remembers us, thought you might have forgotten about us, although I’m sure you thought of Mimi every night.” Quinn laughed before a quick angered look from Mimi stopped him.
“We just finished our last quest, Mimi insisted we return right away and what did we find but you already gone. Broke our little hearts you did. Next thing you know we got conscripted into the fight and here we are. Nice outfit, by the way, the cloak really brings out your eyes,” Quinn spoke before taking out another arrow and firing it at whatever monster dared get to close.
Rohl was caught between a few emotions at Quinn’s words before he finally settled on a small smile and a quiet apology. “Sorry I missed you, I was uhm doing stuff,” Rohl replied not believing this was the time to explain everything that had happened to them.
As if to add credence to his words, Rohl turned away from his fellow adventures and struck at an approaching goblin. His blade was soon followed by a swipe from Mimi. The goblin soon fell to the ground, barely able to come to terms with its fate. With their close threat now disposed of, Mimi once again turned to face Rohl “I’m happy to see you up, seeing you in bed like that was heart-breaking. We’ve all missed you.”
“I’m glad to see you all as well, although the situation could be a little better,” Rohl replied to a gentle laugh from Mimi.
“We’ll talk more after the battle okay; try not to get hurt again okay.”
“I’ll try, you all as well,” Rohl replied sincerely before he turned his attention fully to the fight, now with four close allies now fighting by his side. They were a cohesive force, able to slay any monster they came across. The combination of Terrance’s magic, Quinn’s arrows and the others combat abilities allowed them to easily dispatch any of the lesser monsters with only more powerful monsters like wendigo’s able to offer up any real threat.
One of the wicked monsters charged them as they stood battling a troll. With a shout of warning from Rohl, the group dived away in whatever direction they could. None had been injured but the charge had left them all separated and surrounded by their own groups of monsters. Rohl was surrounded by both bugbears and trolls, both of which blocked his path back to his friend. With no other choice, he kept his sword and stood ready to fight off whichever beast made the first move. He spun his head rapidly, doing his best to keep an eye on as many of the creatures as he could. Before they could lunge, a charge from a group of nearby soldiers brought down several of the monsters and brought him some much-needed breathing room.
He was no longer surrounded but he had lost sight of Mimi and Quinn somewhere during the fight. Their voices were faint in the distance, but he had no time to focus on finding them, a goblin was squaring off against him, this one was a lot more cautious than its brethren and refused to charge into his waiting blade. They circled each other until eventually Rohl charged, he rushed forward and slashed with his blade. The goblin dodged the attack, but Rohl continued with his charge, using the goblins dodge to safely slam his body into its smaller form without being stabbed as he did so. The power of his charge sent the goblin crashing into the ground, Rohl finished it off before it had the chance to recover and stand.
With the goblin dealt with, Rohl searched desperately for a landmark or ally. The only possible landmark was General O’Halley and his retinue of lieutenants the mounted group carving their way through monsters as they attempted to reorganise the soldiers. Even this landmark couldn’t be due to the sheer quantity of monsters and battling soldiers that stood in between them. The closers of which being a group of impaling spiders who were carving their way towards him.
Rohl rushed towards them, intent on ending their slaughter. Remembering how he had defeated them before with Ell, he used he rushed through the gas in their legs and began to strike and carve away at their dangerous appendages.
As if his thought had summoned her, Ell was stood by his side, her own blade struck repeatedly at the closest spider leg. Rohl cut off the closest spider leg before doing a double-take at the sight of Ell. Once he was sure he wasn’t imagining her, he returned to his task and cut away at the next leg. The spider toppled over with a sickening crunch.
With a nod to Ell, they charged at the next spider and weaved in between its legs, back to back they struck at its legs and cut away one after the other. Soon enough it fell, unable to support its own weight. The creatures death brought them some much-needed reprieve from the battle and with it, Rohl turned to face Ell.
“When did you…”
“Just now, I couldn’t leave you fighting by yourself, your helpless without me,” Ell said as they embraced in a deep hug ignoring the grime and blood that soaked them as they did so.
“Are you alright?” Rohl asked in concern. He couldn’t discern if Ell had any wounds, , her cloak, light armour and the blood that covered her made that quite a difficult task.
“Of course, who do you think I am,” Ell replied before adding “Are you because if you die on me again, I’m going to hurt you.”
“Good, nice to see you following my orders,” Ell said before she angrily broke off from the embrace. She brought ut her weapon and struck hard into the chest of an encroaching goblin.“ No more stupid interruptions.”
The goblin died quickly and painfully but before they could talk more, the battle was once again upon them. Three golems had begun to clamber over the spider's corpses. They were intent on reaching the pair who remained stood, unable to think of a way to defeat them. There could be no running or tricks here. Despite the threat they slowly moved towards them, Rohl and Ell didn’t move, they raised their blades high and readied themselves for the battle.
To Rohl’s relief, the thundering of charging horses and the thrust of spears brought down the golem threat. General O’Halley and his lieutenants hard arrived and with them a sign.
It seemed the battle was beginning to turn, veteran ranked adventurers had slowly been able to turn the tide against the powerful monsters who were typically below or just on their level. The monsters numbers appeared to have thinned, enough for the general to launch a small cavalry charge anyhow. But even with these successes, Rohl knew the casualties were still rising. Bodies already littered the floor, some of which Rohl recognised. The guards who he’d met at the gate, some of the adventures he’d spoken to back in Halleway inn, their bodies lay still and unmoving. A truly disheartening sight.
Death was in the air and the battle was far from over, monsters still fought across the battlefield. Soldiers still banded together in broken down battle lines. Archers continued their volleys and mages healed the wounded or fought with their own spells. The pale adventuring mage from the guild was one of these, casting bolts of black magic that stopped the hearts of the weaker monsters and paralysing any stronger more resilient foe.
The battle was far from over but death had yet to be sated. As Rohl stood focused on the bodies, a voice broke him out of his daze. His voice.
“No more running.”