Friday, 16 December 2016

Teaser for "Enden" by David Kummer

Enden by David Kummer

The Siege of Moslow
Moslow, Ormdel, In The Far West

With a roar, he swept his axe low, cutting off the legs of his opponent. The screaming
soldier tumbled off the wall, falling into the crowd of troops below. Lord Dargu raised his axe
again, staring at the large and barbaric man directly ahead of him.

It was the main point of a long war, a strategic point on the Saic River. Oldon was
crushing down on the small, nation of Ormdel. The city was their final hope. If they lost the city,
their homelands would be open to pillaging and death. The majestic, towering city of Moslow
rose up from the plains, standing against the dark forces. Now, it was covered in soldiers like
ants, as war raged inside it and on the walls. Ormdel’s final hope.

Men screamed as they surged forward on the walls of Moslow. They raised their swords
and swung, cutting through skin and sinew. Blood poured like a waterfall over the side of the
stone walls, staining every inch of the glorious city. The soldiers glinted in early sunlight as
metal beating against metal sent clangs and crashes up from the battle.

Lord Dargu, dwarf king of Ormdel, charged forwards, leading the battle on the wall. They
were trying to retake the city and win a losing battle. He led the rush of soldiers, crushing
against the enemy. They were forcing them back, inch by inch, as they took back their walls.

The Oldon soldier ahead of him was waving a heavy sword with both hands, squaring up
against the king of Ormdel.

“For Ormdel!” the king screamed, rushing at the enemy soldier. He jumped in the air,
bringing his axe down on the man’s head. There was a disgusting, cracking sound as the
enemy’s skull imploded and brain specks flew out, smothering the axe.
“Press forward!” Lord Dargu shouted. “Drive them off our walls! Win back this city!”

Even as he struck another soldier dead, his own men swarmed around, protecting
him. With the group of friendly fighters in front of him, he relaxed for a minute. Lord Dargu
was about to thunder forwards into the battle, when he heard somebody shout his name
from behind.

“Lord!” cried the hoarse voice again.

His own soldiers were now pushing the enemy far back, so Lord Dargu turned around
and away from the battlefront. There was a small dwarf, holding his axe tightly. The man’s eyes
were exhausted and his skin sweaty, but his features gave the sense of urgency.

The king stepped forwards and clasped arms with his fellow dwarf. Lord Dargu’s long,
dark beard rose as a smile formed across his face. “It’s great joy to see you, friend,” he said with
a deep voice.

The dwarf nodded, but spoke in a hurried, jerky voice. “Yes, my lord. But look, lord! Bad
news!” He gestured out at the horizon and squeaked, curling his arms against his chest

Lord Dargu turned and peered across the fields in front of their city. The Oldon army was
routed, fleeing from Moslow. But in the far horizon there was a great cloud of dust. Storms of
men were heading over the land in their direction. It was an army too great to be numbered and
too dense to make out. Like one swift disease, it was spreading towards their homeland.

“What is this?” Lord Dargu’s shaky voice faded, even as the cheers of victory went up
from around them.

“Navarro has brought them all, lord. The king of Oldon is here, with his army.”

“We don’t stand a chance,” said Lord Dargu, wiping sweat from his forehead. Praying to
all the gods he knew, he asked for mercy on their doomed souls. “How long until they arrive?”

“Our scouts say a few hours. My lord, when they get to the city, they will burn it. We have
to leave, don’t you think?”

Lord Dargu did not answer at first. He gazed back at the remaining soldiers in the city.
They were celebrating and cheering, because they could not see the army on the horizon.
Across the walls, however, all the troops were terrified. This high up, they could also see the
Oldon soldiers, the doom that was coming to their country.

The king bowed his head. “Yes. We must leave.”

“On boats?” the dwarf asked. “We could sail to the south of our kingdom and regroup
there. If we hold out long enough, we might get help from the human nations.”

The Saic River ran alongside the city of Moslow, flowing out to the west where the
enormous Omega Sea lay. The river watered their crops and citizens. It was the sole reason
Moslow had flourished over the last many years. But this time, it could not save them.

“The river is close…” mused the king. “But no. We must retreat by foot. If we go through
the mountains, we will be quicker than them. We can stay in Wursburn in the south.”

The king focused on the steps a bit ahead that led down to the city ground. He directed
his steps towards them as the smaller dwarf tripped after, trying to keep up.

“Won’t they follow us there? They might attack Wursburn then!” The dwarf groaned,
throwing his hands up. “This is hopeless!”

“They may follow, but we can send a message to Kelormen. They share a border with
Oldon, and could help us attack,” the king said, approaching the staircase.

“The human kingdom?” the dwarf asked incredulously. “They’ll never help us, and you
know it.”

“They might.”

The dwarf sighed. “But what if they don’t?”

The king stopped when they reached the ground. “Then we are truly doomed.”

Within minutes, the order was given to flee. Every citizen would gather their families, and
then in one long line they would leave the homeland.

Evacuating the city was quick work, but at times the people fell into panic and trampled
each other. They were all pushing to get out of the back gate, which pointed south and towards
their destination. Possessions were mostly left behind, although some people brought what they
could carry in their arms. The livestock was set free to roam, all the horses brought along to load
supplies on, and any food wrangled from the city was put in pouches and bags.

The possibility of starving in the mountains was very real and very sobering. Despite this,
Lord Dargu insisted that they had to travel by foot. They had the advantage of quickness and
experience, knowing much more about the mountains than Oldon did. If they chose to travel by
boat, there was the danger of an Oldon fleet. It would be just like Navarro to set up his own
boats and then wait to kill them as they tried to escape. They would have surely been sunk. For
all these reasons, it was better to go on land.

As the herds of humans and dwarves were flooding out of the gate with soldiers
attempting to keep them in line, Lord Dargu sat quietly on his horse observing. His general,
Templeton, sat beside him, glancing around at the city. He was drinking in the homes soon to
be burned, and the walls that would crumble within a day. The whole city would be ashes, the
battlements fallen to the ground, the crops raided and gone. Moslow would fall, and Oldon
would have opened the gateway to victory.

“It’s the worst part of war,” Lord Dargu said simply. “I hate seeing your friends die, your
home burned, and all the treasure you’ve gathered burned to dust.”

“If we don’t move quicker, the army will overtake us,” said the general. He nodded
vaguely as the crowds of people. “They will slaughter us and them.”

“Fear can do many things,” said the king. “If they understand what is coming, they will
move faster and we will be fine.”

“But do they understand?”

“They will.”

Silence enveloped the two companions, as they sat in the morning sunlight. Last night’s
battle had taken its toll on both of them. Exhausted as they were -exhausted as they all were they
had to move.

It was a dirty move by Oldon. They attacked by surprise in the middle of the night. If not
for the quick speed of Ormdel’s scouts, they would have been caught entirely off guard and
massacred. As it was, they had prepared enough to withstand the first surge of the army. When
the iron gate had finally broken, they fought their hardest and gained the victory. Now, despite it
all, they were once again retreating, once more running from a foe they could not defeat on their

“These are dark times, friend.” The king folded his arms, burdening to keep his head tall.
It would have been easier to fall forwards and lean against his horse, or even more to ride back
and fight to the death. Dying was terrible; retreating was worse.
“They are, yes. Our country is doomed, it seems.”

Lord Dargu shook his head. “Not just us. Enden as a whole is seeing dark times, more
than any in our life. Kelormen is weak, Byrum is lazy, and we are fading quickly. Unless
something changes, there will be nothing left.”

“I really like this city,” General Templeton said thoughtfully. “I like the gigantic walls, the
gleaming buildings, the way the sun sets over the plains.”

“Get your last glances then, friend. We won’t be back here. This is all we have had, and
we are leaving it behind.”

“You’re quite the dramatic type,” Templeton joked. He smiled feebly, but it was gone in
an instant.

“Am I dramatic or is this war?”

“Now isn’t the time for one of our theological discussions, my lord.”
The king sighed, wrapping a hand in the reins of his horse. “I suppose you’re right. And
it’s almost time to go, anyways.”

Their chestnut horses began a steady walk out of the city. The last of the citizens had
passed through the gate, and so they went ahead. While Templeton remained facing forward,
the king peered around with the wonder of a small child, drinking the in the hauntingly empty
sights of the city. He wondered how close the Oldon army was now.

“Do you really think there’s hope for us, Templeton?” the king asked quietly.
“I was about to ask you the same.”

A birch perched above them on the city wall. It was surrounded by its fellow clan of
poultry, until they flew off into the sky. Yet the one bird remained, standing alone defiantly on the
wall. Lord Dargu scratched his beard absentmindedly and smiled to himself.

“I never thought I would leave this place for good.”

“We will return,” the general assured him.

“No,” said Lord Dargu, “I don’t think we will. This very well could be the end, Templeton.”

“We have gone through much together, my lord.”

“No need to call me that,” the king grinned. “I am not your lord. We are friends, who find
themselves presently on the brink of death, and have fulfilled all of their lifelong dreams.”
He chuckled, but as they passed outside of the city wills, a tear rolled down the king’s
face mixing into his beard.

“Not all of them,” Templeton said.

“What haven’t we done?”

“You still haven’t beat me in a swordfight, friend.”

Lord Dargu chuckled as they passed out of the city gate and into the warm sunshine. Far
behind them in the distance, the army of Oldon was roaring.

*Enden comes out January 1st, buy it here

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