Well, I know I said I was going to stop posting the chapters from my adventure novel: The Seven Kingdoms, because I want some of you to buy it, so I don’t want to give away the ending. But I am enjoying the big, final battle, and I decided to post it. And there will be stuff happening after the battle… so…
I am doing this, however, in a sneaky way. I am not adding it to the full… (almost)… version that is up there in the top bar, if you click the button with the title of the story on it. And I am not titling the post the way I usually do, which is to call them: The Seven Kingdoms… chapter whatever. This way, you can read it now, but it will soon slip away into the dim depths of the swamp I call my blog.
And, to be honest, you are showing very little interest in this story. I know, it is aimed primarily at young adult readers… particularly young female adult readers… because I thought that they needed some princesses who aren’t cut out of the Disney or fairy tale mold. Now that I think about it, I haven’t really sold all that many of my other books here on the blog either, but I’m not whining. I did find some awesome volunteer editors for my other books here… books which you can buy by hitting the links disguised as the covers of the aforesaid books over in the sidebar—> hint, hint… and I do need an editor for this story and the last of the action/humor science fiction series of novels… hint, hint… who will work for an awesome dedication page and a free, signed copy mailed to them.
A little feedback would be nice,
Anyway, here it is, in all its unedited glory, chapter 43 of The Seven Kingdoms:
The Seven Kingdoms
Chapter Forty Three
Hildy turned to the triplets and gathered them into a hug. “How did you manage all that?” she whispered.
“We can sort of talk to each other while we do it,” Tam Tam whispered back.
“We can come up with ideas, and the other two can see what we are thinking,” whispered Andita.
“We knew he couldn’t that thing if we distracted him.” Whispered Miri.
Of course, they all whispered at the same time, and Hildy only caught the general idea, but it didn’t matter. “I am sending you back up the hill,” she told them. “I will send for you if I need you.” She looked up to find Nius Tar standing nearby, and almost laughed aloud. The guardsmen and their commander were all looking at the triplets with eyes and mouths wide open. They didn’t know how the girls had done what they had just seen done, but they knew they had done it.
“Nius,” Hildy barked, “close your mouth and pick fifty men to guard the princesses and take them back to where we spent the night.”
Her guard commander literally shook his head to clear it, and snapped orders. Hildy was already turning back to take command of the battle. She wasn’t really needed. The battle began as she had expected it to. She watched, safe behind ranks of her own soldiers, Sanara and some of her fire troops, and a solid phalanx of guardsmen who glared down the slope as if daring any Skulls to get close to them or her. They were so protective that Hildy couldn’t see anything with them all bunched up in front of her, and she had to ask those directly in her way to kneel in the road.
The Skull slingers came closer. Two ranks of her soldiers moved forward from the dense woods, into the smaller and more widely-spread trees on the lower slope. Some of the enemy let rocks fly, but they fell well short. The resistance army troops began to sling stones in return, and those hit with impressive regularity. The Skull troops stopped to take better aim, and still most of their shots didn’t make it to their targets. The black lines moved closer, and more men fell.
The Skull slingers stopped again, and began to sling stones for all they were worth. Hildy saw some of her men fall, but she also saw men dodge stones they saw coming, because the enemy was forced to aim so high that the stones lost much of their speed by the time they came back down. Her first two lines fell back, and were replaced by fresh troops. The Skulls took the brief respite to move even closer. Now the fresh resistance army troops had a target they couldn’t miss.
Skull slingers began to limp and crawl back towards their main lines. Others fell to writhe in pain or lay still. Twice more, Hildy’s soldiers were swapped out for new troops. By this time, the fallen in the Skull lines outnumbered those still standing. They could take no more punishment, and pulled back, some aiding injured comrades, others running in their haste to get out from under that deadly rain.
The fleeing slingers passed through the advancing ranks of spearmen as they drew closer. The resistance army soldiers now focused their sling stones on that mass of men. At once, Hildy realized that she might have made a critical error in her planning. More of her soldiers moved out of the woods to add their fire to the stones hitting the advancing lines, but, because of her orders, they were all aiming at the black robes further back, and this meant that the front ranks were mostly unscathed. Hildy saw Sanara and some of her fire troops in the road, slings at the ready, helpers holding jars of oil to pour on the fire balls, but even though the first ranks of advancing enemy troops were in range, they held their fire. The main lines of spearmen were going to hit her lines in good order and with high morale, and Hildy knew with grim certainty that her mistake was going to cost the lives of some of her own troops.
She watched Sanara light a fire ball from a torch set in the ground, swing it, and send it sailing, to crash with unerring accuracy into the ranks of the black robes. Her men followed her lead. They were hand-picked slingers, chosen by Sanara for their skill. From the slope on either side of the road, more smoky trails arched out, to burst in spattering flame among the black robe ranks. The fire troops only had time to fire a few volleys before the first line of Skull troops reached the resistance army lines. In front of them, the soldiers in green slipped their slings into their belts and picked up their spears, just before the lines crashed together. The fire troops continued to send their fire balls right over the heads of their own men.
The sounds of battle rose around her, the fighting spreading out in both directions, screams and shouts, clangs and thuds. Hildy couldn’t see most of the battle. The trees blocked much of her view in either direction. She moved closer to the lines, and her guards tightened up around her. In front of her, on the road and among the smaller trees beside it, tightly-packed rows of men thrust at each other with their spears, and when one man fell, another stepped into his place. The fighting in the center was going well. The enemy lines were thinning faster than the resistance lines.
A man burst from the trees to Hildy’s left. “The enemy is getting around the end of our line,” he panted to Hildy. “We need more men!”
“Nius,” she shouted, to be heard above the din, “send half of my guard to strengthen our left.” He wasn’t happy about it, but he followed her orders.
There was a new burst of shouting from the troops nearby, and Hildy turned back to the battle. The enemy was backing away. They were wavering.
“Nius, we are going to lead a charge,” she yelled. “We have to break them, and get close enough to kill the king.”
He stood silent, looking at her without saying a word.
“Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter that I am safe if we lose this fight. It doesn’t matter if I die, as long as we win. Without their king, they will give up. We have to kill him,” she pleaded, knowing that she was right.
He simply nodded, looking grim.
“Follow me!” she screamed at her guardsmen, and hefted her spear, starting down the road. When they passed Sanara, Hildy paused long enough to shout to her. “Bring your troops forward behind us. We are going to get you close enough to that hill to set it ablaze!”
Sanara grinned, and turned to her men.
Martus Rudder held his right hand over the spear wound in his left bicep. He had dropped his own spear somewhere. He was so hungry and weak that he was having trouble concentrating. The men of his unit knew that he had been sent to this kingdom to fight in the front ranks until he was killed, and they didn’t waste food on him. As men had fallen around him, he realized that all those who would recognize him were now dead or wounded. He could barely hold his weapon anyway, since being stabbed through the arm. He had backed up, letting other men move forward around him. Now, keeping his face down and his helmet low over his brows, he pushed his way through the rear ranks. Men saw he was wounded, and let him shoulder his way by them.
Martus figured the black robes would kill him or send him forward again, but when he made it through the last line of spearmen, the black robes were all gone. No, not gone, not all of them. Many of them lay where they had fallen, their black robes darker still, scorched and sometimes still smoldering. He laughed quietly to himself. When the king had interrogated him, he hadn’t known about the balls of fire the enemy could throw. He would have told the king had he known. He would have told him anything.
He found a black robe that had been killed by a sling stone that hit him between the eyes. The stone was still there. Martus pulled the robe from the body and wrapped it around himself. He picked up another spear to help steady himself, and started walking again. He had no plan. He was just done fighting.
Other Skull soldiers began to catch up with him, passing him by, running as fast as they could. Most of them had thrown their spears away too. Martus trudged onward, and then he saw the hill. The king was up there, on that hill. The king that had been the cause of so much sorrow and loss. His king. Martus turned slightly, changing his direction. He wanted to talk to the king one more time. There was so much that he wanted to say to him.