Battle for Prantz

We heard the clarions from the shop in Lor. Mother and I had hidden there when Blood's army drew near to our home. We were trapped, we thought. The guards had the gates locked off. She was crying, I remember, because father was in Prantz still, waiting to fight.

We heard shouting and marching feet, and I looked to see if the soldiers had come. Mother begged me to come away from the window, but I had to see. It was not troops though, it was men and women wearing the brightest, wildest clothing! I'd seen those who adventured before but never so many. They held the flags of all different gods; it was like the entire heavens had at least one follower there. They marched past, and I remember thinking so many of them were not much older than me. They did not talk, every face was tense as they marched in and gathered by the gates. I decided then that I must help. Mother begged me to stay, but it is my city too and these strangers would defend it, while I cowered? No.

I kissed mother and told her not to worry, but my heart was pounding. I felt I was going to my death but at least that death would mean something. More adventurers came and I tried to blend in with my plain dress with no armor. We all gathered around an auburn-haired woman in a blue gown who stood on some wood thrown across crates. At her side was a man, a human, in the brightest blue coat I've ever seen. He was the color of the ocean under the sun and she the color of a deep lake, and they stood together on that rickety platform. They waited until the murmurs died down; then, they sang. You can't imagine'the song was so powerful, I felt as if I could defeat Bloodstone myself when I heard it. All those faces, lifted to hear the words that said YOU can do this, YOU can fight! Never before and since have I been so touched by music. Everyone, all the people there no matter their race or their god or their profession, was moved to tears. I know I was. Midway through the singing, I turned to the man next to me, a huge man in shining plate armor, and asked, "What can I do?"

As I asked the giant man how I might help, the guards moved from the gates and a man in the coat of arms of the Prantz Guard ran through. He was bleeding heavily, and he ran straight into the crowd I stood with. A lady elf and several others knelt and healed him, and he burst out:

"Prantz is under attack! The time to move is now!"

They moved at once. The armored man told me to gather up two leather-bound bundles of arrows and I did, marching behind him as they moved north to Prantz. One group of scouts left for the desert lands, and the rest of us split: one group for the east gate, one for the west gate, and one for the reserves. I continued behind the armored man who became part of the crowd heading for the west gate. A quick tally and vote put a protector of the Al'Noth in charge. Strange that I can no longer remember her name; everything was a blur from the moment we got into the city. I can only remember moments and the heroism that surrounded me. All these people fighting and dying for people they didn't even know. I remember a few faces now: the brave dwarf who stood in front of me when a fiend threatened and the kind elven woman who healed the arrow wound in my side.

We heard battle from the east, the bellow of trumpets and the shouts of war. I felt sick for a moment, but I knew what I must do. Hang behind and keep the archers loaded with arrows. I could hide behind barrels, crates, or palisades if I needed to. I was almost ashamed I could not do more as the power of the song sung by the lady in blue was still ringing in my mind. It was then that the voice boomed around us. I thought it must be magic, but I'm told the dwarves of the Deep don't use it. The voice was deep, loud, and it commanded the city to surrender unconditionally. I looked around at the tired, hungry faces of my siege-weary fellow Prantzers and knew that I could never give up. I took up an armful of arrows and stood behind an elf ready to restock her quiver.

I was to the right of the archer when the first troops came through the gates. They were unlike anything I've ever seen: bald, stone-colored dwarves moving like quicksilver. The first battle was over fast, and I was untouched. Then, another wave came, and another. Each time, they were beaten back, and each time, another group in red metal armor would surge through. After every wave someone would notice me and try to get me to safety, and I would have to tell them again that I would stand and die, child or no. It is my city too.

I heard a melody on the wind then and knew that it was helping us. Just as fatigue seemed to be catching the troops, the voice of the lady in blue surrounded and lifted us, and the men and women stood to take another wave of awful monsters and dwarves with renewed strength. I heard the violin of the ocean-blue man as well and it was sweet in my ears until yelling from the east gate drowned out the strings. One of ours who looked like a fiend but cast magic for us, I don't know his name, used his magic to see what had happened. A dwarf named Varka had fought behind enemy lines and found Lord Rael! I'm not sure who challenged who, but there was a duel. It was only moments after that, that the body of the brave Varka was heaved over the west gate; his neck broken. It was after this that even the songs could not bolster us and spirits began to flag in the constant heat and blood.

Some of the mages used magic to look beyond the walls then. What they saw horrified them. We thought we had done well to hold off for so long; by now it had been three days and I was hungry and exhausted beyond reason. I fear in my tired state I acted more like the child I was than the adult I so desperately wanted to be, but they let me stay and hand them arrows, spears, water, and bandages anyway. Now, I realized how bad the situation was. The dark elf told us of the many thousands of dwarves and demons and worse waiting outside the gates. This punctured our hope further. And the hoards attacked. Finally, we fell back into the city. From there, all I remember is being taken, yelling, and screaming, away from the front lines and into a shelter where I fell asleep. When I awoke the city was quiet and the gray-skinned dwarves walked the streets with hammers big enough to crush me. I never saw mother or father again.

I lost much. But I knew then what I would be, and that those heroes who stood to defend Prantz had not failed. I will stand with them someday.

by Aubrey Marenchette