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Subject: The last night's attack

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Date Posted: 21:04:09 01/27/03 Mon

Sircyn swore under his breath and blinked back the unmanly tears that peeked out at the mention of his oldest friend's death. Life was tough, Riante's death while a personal tragedy would not cause the world to stop spinning.

"He died peacefully," Falden lied gently, blocking out memories of the man's agonised screams as they had yanked the spear head from his calf muscle.
"I didn't even notice."
"Few people notice anything in a heated battle," Merriam interjected.
Sircyn nodded slowly in agreement as his own words flowed from the younger man's mouth. He had trained these men well, they all knew and knew well that there was no room for over sentimentalism in war.
Last night had not been war though. No, last night had been a massacre. Whoever had released the prisoners from their cells had apparently no intention of them actually killing any of the king's soldiers. Infact, as Sircyn looked around, it soon became clear that only Riante and Madjeal were missing from his men. He crossed to the edge of the wall and looked over its edge. From this height he could see the group of soldiers, now armed with shovels, who had been given the odious task of burying the dead ememy. The pile of bodies was emormous. Exhausted from their life in the dark and hunger stricken, they had been in no condition to fight and they had died for it.

The general's mind started to race. If they were just going to die what was the purpose of freeing them unless, Sircyn's brain whirled, "unless," he murmered outloud "they were but a distraction."
"My thoughts exactly," Merriam agreed joining the general by the wall. "But a distraction for what?"
"I don't know," Sircyn confessed. In the distance the men with the shovels had stopped digging and had started picking up the bodies and dumping them in the new hole.

And suddenley he knew.
"Stop!" he yelled at the top of his voice.
The men on the wall stared in astonishment; down on the ground however the work continued, his words had not reached them. He started running, taking the steps two at a time. People stared in astonishment as the elderly general flashed past, iron grey hair streaming behind him.

Finally he reached them and bellowed the order again.
They stopped and he managed to gasp, "how... many dead?"
"Are you alright?"
Frantically Sircyn waved aside their concerns. "How many are dead?" he demanded of the nearest soldier.
"I don't know," the man stammered adding a hurried "sir" as Sircyn glared at him.
"Find out then."

Minutes passed. Sircyn stood and watched as they hauled the dead from the pit and lined them up for counting. It was fortunate, the general reflected, that the day was so cold or the stench would've been unbareable.
"Fifty six, sir," the captain reported after about an hour had passed.
"Thankyou," he replied before dashing off again to the dungeons. If his suspcions were correct...well, there would be time to worry about that later.

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