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I dash forward to cover, 1st Ulan following me. An arrow glances off my side, throwing me behind a fallen siege tower. My men see that I have “taken” cover, as they put it, and rush towards me. “Will!”, screams my second in command, a man of 27 named Bill, “We are get getting cut to shreds”. I scream back “I know, but we have to get into that fortress”, even though we had only lost few men so far. Bill, sure hates losing any our men.
My army of mercenaries and me, named Screaming Eagles, had been hired by the Sir John, Duke of Wellington, of The D’Haran Empire to help take the fort named McTager, from the Imperial Order. The plan had gone wrong from the start. The D’Haran troops were to distract the Order until we could sneak in and take a part of the walls. But as we got into place, we came under heavy fire from archers and scorpions (large mounted crossbows, these models firing a javelin that is 7 feet long).
I order the Rangers Traves and Bors to take out some of the archers while we find a way up the walls. Their longbows sing a deep note as they release their first arrows. I hear a scream come from the walls. I then see an opportunity. I get Ranger Richard to join Bors and Traves. Then, the rest of my Ulan, 50 men,without Bors, Traves, and Richard, out of the 60 we started with, charge with our grappling hooks. More than one Order ran at the site of us running at them, pushing their friends out of their way. We got close, losing only one man, our banner carrier. Bill picks it up, for it is bad luck for the banner of an Ulan to touch the ground.
We get to the walls and throw the grappling hooks onto the walls. I climb up, and get to the top first. I jump over the top, a trick I had learned after one of my friends had been killed by a man waiting just behind the wall. And what do you know, there is a soldier waiting right behind the wall, waiting for me. He look surprised that I had know what he was doing. I pull out my gleaming long sword, one of the three I always have on me, and make a quick feint to his left. He falls for it and I cut him down when he opens his guard. More of my men pore over the walls, ready for a fight. But all the Order troops, seeing that we had broken through, had fallen back to the Keep.
We rush down the stairs and hurry to the gates, ready for an attack. We lift the heavy oak beam the hold the gates closed and pull open the gates. The first person I see, to my surprise, was General Zimmer, commander of the army I had been sent to help. ”Congratulations Captain, you and your men may have just saved the day”, said General Zimmer in an booming voice, surrounded by his bodyguards.
I am next greeted Auther, my second in command aid. I give him a big hand shake and he tells me that he had the rest of the Screaming Eagles move up to the front, except 6th Ulan.
The Screaming Eagles is made up of 360 combat veterans, all out of the D’Haran army. The Eagles are divided into 6 groups of 60, each called an Ulans, with other units. 1st Ulan is the assault group, made up of an assortment of spearmen, swordsmen, axemen, and Rangers. Rangers are archers that never miss. A saying goes “A Ranger carries the live of two dozen men in his quiver”. But there is always that one time. A Ranger once missed a target 2 years back, and he hung himself to save his honor, and the punishment from the other Rangers, which would have been high. Another skill they have is that they can disappear in any shadow. They can make it look like they walk out of the wall they are standing next to.. Then, if they run out of arrows, they use the double knives and they can throw both those knives too. Their horse, small as they are, are the best in the world. And I have 15 Rangers in 1st Ulan. Then there is the rest of the army. 2nd Ulan is spear-men, 3rd Ulan is swordsman, and 4th Ulan is axemen. They are usually used as regular troops. 5th Ulan is fire support, 48 archers and 3 heavy scorpions, these one firing a 20 pound, 8 feet tall javelin, each manned by 4 men. Then there is 6th Ulan, which is our heavy cavalry unit, which stayed behind.
Then there is the support Ulans. 7th Ulan is the cooks and horse handlers. Last but not least is 8th Ulan, our Intel and money handlers. 7th and 8th Ulans stay away from combat, but some time trouble finds them so they are all train with daggers and short swords.
Auther had 6th Ulan stay back, because horses are of no use in the close combat we are about to take place in. 5th Ulan provides fire support while 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ulans form up. Two hundred and thirty two men in fitted blood red leather armour with chain mail, bristling with an assortment of weapons can be an impressive view. Then, while another 400 D’Harans soldiers moving into position near my men, I walk to the front of the body of men. I slowly draw my best long sword, slightly curved to increases the cutting area, while still being able to thrust. I raise it above my head, and bring it down, pointing at the Keep, while I begin a massive war cry that is taken up by over six hundred men as we charge into the fires of war.
My favorite saying is “Out of the frying pan, and into the fire.” The fight for the walls was a good brawl, but it was nothing compared to the fighting in the Keep. It was dark so you had to take you time to see if the person was friend or foe. More than once I walked into a man and realised, about the same time as them, that they were foes. Once I followed a man through a hallway, thinking he was a friend, only to realise that he was an Order soldier. He fell easily after a quick hack to his back and a final trust to end his life.
It took hours, but we finally cleared the Keep.
To our surprise, since in was such a fierce battle, we lost only 13 men. 12 of them had been newer recruits, newer meaning they had been in the D’Haran army for 5-10 years each, but just joined the Eagles, but the other one, named Jogt, had been with us since the beginning of the Eagles, nearly 11 years ago.
We collect our dead, and ride out. We do not stay with the army, for our job is done. We go home, to our families and our home in Heartwood. We give condolences to the families of the dead and proceed to bury them, in our fashion.
First, we dress them up in their finest armor and weapons. Then we march down Main Street, the dead on our shields, held by up by six shield-bearers, who are his closest friends. If all his friends are dead, then Guardians of the city bear him down the street.
Next, we play a battle hymn over the body as it is laid down, six feet under ground, with their gear in all their glory. Lastly, since everyone is issued a great-sword, we stab it into the ground, right above their head, as their tombstone, to stand there forever.