The Blood of the Honored, Part 3
Hey all, please enjoy Part 3 of The Blood of the Honored and have a wonderful day! (You can start at the beginning here.)
“Is that the last of your riders, then?” Elavani asked as if she expected the answer to be yes. Pargnok gave the elf an appraising once-over. She wore the simple clothes of a farmer but that was all of her appearance that would give one the indication that farming was her chosen profession. Like all elves she had pointed ears that arced backward behind her head. She was slight of build but tall of stature, with bright golden eyes and a long mane of hair to match. Her height marked her immediately as a Solar elf of Annodor. That made Pargnok nervous, as did the sword she wore on her hip and the bow slung over her shoulder.
“That’s the last of the wolves,” Pargnok corrected politely. “Her rider has yet to return.”
“Forgive me, Captain,” Elavani said earnestly, her shoulders slumping and her bright golden eyes finding the ground. “I meant no disrespect to your man. I am Elavani, a farmer here in Alcoth. Is there aught I might do to assist in the battle ahead, perhaps as a lookout, or on the wall…” When her eyes came back to meet Pargnok’s they were hard, as though she had something to prove.
“Can you fight?” Pargnok asked directly, eschewing any kind of pretense. He didn’t have time to waste and wasn’t known for his subtlety.
“I’m a fair shot with my bow, but I’m better with a sword – especially if you have a shield I could borrow,” Elavani replied optimistically. “I’m also a member of the Alcoth militia, such as it is, and have had experience in taking orders. I assure you, I’ll be more help than trouble.” The directness with which she expressed her last point did reassure Pargnok. Evalani was not trying to convince him, she was stating a simple fact.
“What about your husband, can he fight at all?” Grilcor asked curiously. Pargnok turned to regard him and saw genuine interest upon Grilcor’s face, which was odd for the sergeant, who was known to be a bit curt with civilians.
“Geldinir is more of a lover than a fighter,” Elavani answered, smirking a little, as she looked back at her husband. “He doesn’t like to cause others pain. He’s no slouch with a blade, though, and if push comes to shove, he will defend himself and those around him. We’ve been looking after some of the older folks and younger children, while their families have been busy here at the fort. I honestly think that’s the best place for him to be the most helpful.”
“Then there he shall stay,” Pargnok agreed, nodding. “I want you with the rest of the fort’s regular fighters, in the main courtyard. They’re mostly local goblins and as such, have some trouble with the phalanx. Not to mention they likely haven’t seen much battle at all, so I’ve had them organize into a ranged crossbow unit. If you could supplement them, it would go a long way to bolstering the defense.”
“I’m happy to do whatever is needed, but…” Evalani hesitated, seeming genuinely concerned with the orders she’d just been given. “…should your crossbows not be on the walls?” She looked back and forth from Pargnok to Grilcor searching for an explanation.
“Have you ever fought Grelfs before, Evalani?” Grilcor asked sarcastically.
“Grelfs?” the elven woman repeated, puzzled.
“Forest elves do not charge battlements head on, ever,” Pargnok abruptly cut off Grilcor from making a snide remark. Both because he didn’t want to hear it and because they were running out of time. “If we put men on the battlements now to lookout for an approaching enemy, they will be dead or paralyzed before we even know what’s happening. By dawn half of us will be dead and the other half will be being dragged back to the Dark Forest. To fight green elves – grelfs – you have to hunker down and wait patiently. Then take them completely unawares.”
“How do you do that?” Elavani asked, curious now. Pargnok hoped her enthusiasm would last the night. He hoped his men would, too.
“Follow my orders and you will find out,” Pargnok said exactingly and Grilcor clacked the butt cap of his warblade onto the cobblestone ground to emphasize the point.
“As you say,” Evalani said, smiling and bowing slightly. “Captain, one more thing. You said we’d all be dead by dawn. Do you expect the attack tonight, then?”
“The attack will come tonight almost immediately after dusk,” Pargnok told her in no uncertain terms. “If nothing else, of THAT you can be certain.” With that, he moved back up the steps toward the battlements, offering Elavani a slight bow as he left her.