Heimarian Odyssey - Chapter 25

"Hmm... a caster..." Cardoj muttered as he looked at the three fireballs in the sky.

Not far away from the city gate, Solon and Jersson noticed it as well.

"Charge! Baron Cashel's brought his caster! The city will be ours soon!" Solon yelled.

"What about your safety, Milord?"

Jersson quickly swallowed his words at Solon's glared. What kind of task was this?! He preferred to fight rather than looking after Solon. He promised himself he would give Locke that task next time.

Glace and her companions' faces paled at the explosion.

"Magic!" she gasped before she could catch herself, "The city won't last much longer. We need to get going!"

She could not afford to concern herself with her noble image any longer. She lifted her skirt and started running down the alley. Her maid followed, Kristin still in her arms.

Willis and his accompanying soldiers heard the bang as well from where they were at the north gate. Although he was not one of the margrave's favoured offspring, he had done his research and knew a little about magic.

"Casters..." he murmured, his eyes darkening, "Hurry up! We have to leave!"

Although he had only 50 escorts, the majority were elite cavalrymen. He had also his wealth in the few carriages following at the rear of his entourage.

The north gate was under the least pressure of the city's gates. If he was going to break out anywhere, it was here. At the same time, he was confident that if he got out, he would make a clean break for the forest. If he made it to the forest, he was home free. He had the map now, so he could make it through and retreat to his manor in Karaman. It would actually even be an improvement in his situation. He stood a very good chance of making a better living there than he had here.

He led the charge as the gate opened, but came face to face with a larger cavalry force just as they were about to break through. Luckily the other side had not been expecting them.

WIllis had trained his impetus in secret, and he had just barely reached the level of beginner Knecht. He immediately noticed the enemy leader. The man was substantially stronger than him and he felt his muscles suddenly tighten as the man's gaze settled on him and his pressure came down on his body.

"Lord Baron... try to run as far as possible later," a middle-aged soldier wearing full plate armour said quietly, "Protect the baron!"

"Yes!" all the troops replied as one.

Willis' eyes widened. He could not deal with the enemy, even with his fifty elites. His gut told him that with absolute certainty. How strong was the Knecht to make him so certain of his defeat?

The city fell despite the defenders' valiant efforts. The gates fell at noon and the men poured into the city. The men had withdrawn from the walls once the gates had fallen, but had found no lord waiting to make a final stand with them at the city hall. When they realised he had abandoned them, they surrendered without another fight.

The city was under Faustian control by the end of the day, and the first patrols were marching in the streets to announce victory and restore order shortly after sundown. It was a bloody job. The people were stubborn, and unlike their uniformed defenders, they were in no mood to surrender. The city was littered in corpses and dotted with fights. More men were lost to the riots and uprisings across the city than in the assault. The men had dealt with such situations on several occasions before, however, and knew what to do. They beat down the rioters and rebels, and hung those that didn't die in the dispersal. It took most of the night, but the city eventually calmed down.

Locke left the two barons to argue about who had set foot in the city first. It was absurd, really. Both gates had fallen at the same time and each to a different baron's forces.

Locke had cleaned up the wall and their gate, then checked on Solon. The baron's son had not suffered so much as a scratch, but Jersson had not been so lucky. The enemy had not dared close to sword distance with Solon and his men. They instead pelted them with arrows from a distance. Solon's impetus and armour was enough to keep him safe. Jersson, however, had neither the same power impetus, nor the same quality armour. He took an arrow to the hip.

Locke met Solon in a luxurious courthouse and reported his losses. The latter was content with Locke's knowledge and adherence to the military hierarchy which made Solon his superior. The young officer's actions had assured him he had total control over the platoon and a good officer serving under him.

He rewarded Locke with a bundle of red silk and a slice of redsea flower in his good mood. It seemed he knew Locke was pampering a women. He would not have given him the silk otherwise. He let Locke cut a redsea flower for himself. Locke took a larger portion this time. It was definitely more important than what Solon had made it seem, for him to even carry it along with him into battle.

He rejected Solon's request to dine together, however. He gave the excuse of visiting Jersson He had expected Solon to be at least slightly displeased, even if he didn't say anything, but he saw even more approval blossom in his superior's eyes. Clearly he approved of his subordinate taking an interest in the well-being of his peers.

Jersson was being taken care of by two of the platoon's men. An arrow in the hip was no minor injury. That said, since Jersson had impetus, he could recover in about a week. That didn't mean it didn't hurt, or didn't impede his just as badly as it did any normal man until it was healed.

He was grateful to have Locke visit, He insisted he stay for dinner and the evening if he had yet to find lodgings for himself. Locke was happy to receive the offer, though he was less appreciative of the man's constant insistence that he take over Solon's guard duty in the next battle. Locke couldn't turn him down, however, not when he'd taken an arrow on the duty, so he agreed with a surrendering smile.

The moon was high in the sky when Locke left. Despite his appreciation of the offer of lodgings, he turned it down. He had actually also come to inform Jersson that each platoon jarl had been given a temporary residence by the baron. Jersson had expected to spend the evening in the house in which he was already because he was injured and expected the building to be the healer's centre. It was instead the house he'd been assigned. Locke, of course, had his own.

The houses had belonged to rich merchants and other upper-class folk, but they were now under the army's custodianship. Locke wanted peace and quiet to train. He was certain he either had, or was about to, see a significant increase in his impetus' power.

He ambled around for a while and came across some soldiers smashing their way into stores on both sides of the street. The baron was allowing some looting as a reward for his men's performance. He'd made sure to designate only the lesser assets as lootable. He didn't want them going after the really valuable places. Even so, it was a huge score for the men. If they could find even just one gold coin in the shops, they had made 50 silver thalers. It was beyond unlikely, however. The owners had bolted long before they had arrived at the walls. The men were still eager to hunt, however, so the looting continued enthusiastically.

Locke would have been right in the shops with them just a couple months ago. He had been one of the most prolific looters as a squad jarl. He'd even made an organised event of it with his squad. Now, however, he had no need to join in himself. In fact, it was beneath his rank to take part in the looting. He would get his share of it regardless. Regulations were that he, as one of the platoon jarls, got a share of whatever the platoon's men found. And that didn't count the reward he was due from the baron for his efforts during the assault. He had made sure to train Hans, Caen, and his other old squadmates well before he'd left for his platoon jarlship, so he was not worried that they would miss anything decent.

His eyes settled on a building with a red-brown door. According to the descriptions he'd been given, this was his temporary residence. He kicked the door down without hesitation. No one screamed or shouted. Whoever had lived there before had long since abandoned it. Even if they hadn't, he had full authority to kick them out of 'his' house.

The yard was neat and clean, a sign that the previous owner had been an attentive person. He noticed a tree in the yard but no leaves on the ground. It seemed the residents could still be there.

There were two buildings in the yard aside from the small gatehouse. He found no one at the gatehouse, so he decided to look into the two buildings with shut doors. Vigilantly, he drew his sword and entered the smaller one situated at the right corner, which likely wasn't where the owner lived as it was the smaller one. He slowly opened the door and charged inside, but found no one. The faint fragrance lingering in the air indicated that it was a woman's room. It was not huge either; there was only an unmade bed, yet another sign that the house residents probably left in a hurry.

Locke walked out and glanced at the bigger building. It was entirely silent. If anyone was still within, they were probably hiding there. He slowly walked up and nudged the door open. Just when he completely opened the door, he was met with a flash of silver lashing out from complete darkness.

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