Tumult Part 3
Kayse Goodharvest laid in bed, his head resting on the thigh of his fiance, just below the gentle swell of his child growing inside her. It was very early in the morning, and he had promised that he would take Lara to see Or at the bathhouse so that they could discuss the offered business further, but at just that moment, he was having difficulty keeping his eye open. Sleep had been trying to reclaim him all morning, and back when he still adventured, that was something he would not stand for, but his days had been filled with leisure of late, and the thought of a nap was not unappealing.
From her lap, Kayse turned his gaze upwards to his lover's face. She was idly leafing through one of the recipe books she had inherited from her grandmother, written in the matriarch's native Elven language, and dog-earing the page of each recipe she wanted to look at in more detail later. He smiled at her, and she returned it behind her book. Neither said a word, but their tired smiles said so much.
Sleep was overcoming Kayse's resistance once more, and his eye slowly closed until he could see Lara's face only hazily through his lashes. His hand drifted onto her knee, and his lips moved, forming three sweet words, barely audible as he drifted into slumber.
The earth shook with an enormous crack, snatching Kayse at once from the rest he desired. Dust fell from the thick timbers overhead, and for a heartbeat, all was silent, but the first crack was followed by a second and then a third. Each sound sent shockwaves through the room, strong enough to displace the heavy blocks of the walls and make the furniture dance across the floor.
Though he had barely been able to lift his eyelid a minute before, Kayse's warrior training had the man's body upright and burning with energy in an instant. His mace – given to him by Nora Starscale of the Champions upon his rescue from the orcs – was in his hand and he was racing towards the door, all before Lara could cry out in alarm. He clutched the door handle and looked back to his fiance.
"Go to Cinder's office," he instructed firmly. "Lock yourself in and barricade the door. Don't open it until you hear my voice again."
Distant sounds rumbled through the walls, accompanied by a thousand, cacophonous drum beats. War cries, Kayse realized at once, and men charging out of the forest. They were under attack. Lara didn't understand what was going on, and she was terrified, but still, she nodded her compliance. He smiled fiercely, returned the nod, and then was gone.
Kayse had agreed to give up adventuring after the loss of his team, the Golden Hawks, and she understood that now, fighting and killing would be necessary, but what scared Lara the most – even more than the thunder of feet overhead – was how her lover's eye gleamed with eagerness. She gathered up her blankets and ran into the hall so that she could hide in Cinder's office.
Kayse ran down the hall to the stairs, doors springing open in his wake as other members of the Clasp rushed to respond to the attack as well. At the head of the stairs, Kayse saw the full extent of the damage to the bastion.
A boulder, roughly the size of a carriage, had crashed through the roof and rolled across the floor, destroying tables and chairs, until it fell into the fire pit and scattered coals all around. Two more boulders struck the wall that faced the forest, and the heavy logs had born the attack with surprising steadfastness. A few were splintered, giving view to the outside, and still more were shifted out of place, but by and large, the bastion was intact.
Screams from outside drew the attention of the gathered adventurers, and they were in motion again, all moving as one like a flight of birds. In the frozen field behind the bastion, breakfast was being prepared, and the caterers were already being over run by the invaders. The huge, heavy double doors already hung crooked in their broken frames, and when the surge of armored men and women slammed into them, the doors fell from their hinges and struck the ground with a crash, throwing up a cloud of snow through which the adventurers surged.
Orcs, goblins and worgs were running wild in the field, killing and howling to the skies. Beyond them, a trio of stone giants were pulling whole trees out of the earth. A single giant would have proven a difficult fight for any one of the adventuring parties, without an army of orcs, but no one faltered as they charged the field to protect their home.
Kayse charged the nearest orc and his first blow rang off of the creature's shield, but it left his foe unsteady. The orc attempted to return the attack with a swing of his great cleaver; stumbling as he was, the orc swung wide of Kayse's body, and he paid for his wild swing. As the mace crashed into the orc's sword hang, it made a sound like a fistful of twigs breaking before the cleaver fell from lifeless fingers. The second swing of the mace caught the orc across the jaw, rotten teeth and blood spilling from between the monster's lips; the final blow came from overhead, pulping the top of the orc's head.
Before his first opponent hit the ground, Kayse turned his burning gaze to the next. A flash of color raced before the orc's face, and it left a thin red line that ran straight across the creature's eyes. The orc howled in pain and his polearm clattered to the ground, huge fists lifting to clutch at his bleeding eyes. Kayse took advantage of the opportunity and crushed the orc's collar bone with a single swing.
The sparkling orb of light raced from orc, to goblin, to orc with speed such that Kayse had difficulty tracking it. It struck with ruthless accuracy and each foe cried out in pain as their vision became shadows and pain. Kayse had never seen Plinkit fight before, and now that he had, he was more glad than ever that the sprite fought alongside them rather than against them. He only had one eye to begin with, he wouldn't have been much of a challenge.
With a quick glance, Kayse took in the state of the battlefield. The snow on the frozen Earth was red with blood; the sky was alight with bursts of fire and lightning called into being by the wizards at the rear of their line, some murmuring and some with voices that boomed like thunder; someone had summoned an owlbear that seemed to have a particular fondness for goblin meat. At last, he turned his eye on the giants, and not a moment too soon. He watched the first one hurl the uprooted tree like it weighed nothing, and it was aimed for the front of their line of defense.
The tree hit the ground with a roar, but it landed just short of the bastion's defenders, sending greenskins flying in all directions. As the tree bounced off the frozen ground, Kayse raced towards it; the tree flew above his head, close enough that the fronds brushed his face and shoulders, before it crashed down behind him. Without missing a step, Kayse continued to run.
All of the orcs nearest to him were dead, either by the blades of his allies, or by the thrown weapons of their own. Nearly half of the attacking force laid dead; Kayse didn't care to think about how many of their own number laid with them. Finally, Kayse saw what he had hoped to find: an orc, bigger than the rest – an orog – who, like him, had only one eye. The Eye of Gruumsh would pay for what it did to him and the Golden Hawks.