Tears fell from Lytica’s eye in mid battle as he witnessed his brothers occasionally dying further along the wall. A scream made him turn in the opposite direction. Yendor clutched a wound as he dropped his morning star. A Vindavian swordsman grinned smugly, drawing back for a killing thrust. Its progress halted when Yendor’s club like fist struck the southman in the centre of his face.
As a second Vindavian arrived at the head of the ladder, Yendor screaming, ran forward. He collected the swordsman, ladder and the climber in his outstretched arms in his dive, launching them all from the wall.
Lytica’s teeth cracked in anguish as he watched Yendor and approximately half a dozen Vindavians united in death down the slope. Southmen took advantage of the situation, now pouring over the battlements in twos and threes.
“Withdraw to the monastery!” shouted Lytica.
Another brother screamed briefly as he turned to run across the courtyard. The few southmen foolish enough to engage the fleeing monks were cut down with swift calculated strokes.
Inside, the monks pushed the huge doors. They closed with a thundering echo. Monks hefted the heavy bar into place.
“Reinforce the door as best you can,” said Lytica. “Hammer wedges beneath the foot.”
They broke up furniture and sharpened pieces to points before hammering them beneath the door with mallets.
Valmaas held up a pitcher of spiced wine. Lytica took two gulps of the liquid, savouring both the taste and coolness as it made its journey down his throat. His enjoyment; short lived by the muffled cheers of the Vindavians outside the doors.
He handed the vessel back. “I will check on Padaver.”
Yathebon climbed the stairs with an escort of officers before and aft of him. The bar to the outer gates had already been raised and dropped in the courtyard. His soldiers, spearheading his army, stood as a densely gathered group.
“Standfast!” bellowed a Devra.
Men stomped to attention as officers saluted Yathebon’s arrival. He gave a cursory salute in return as he strolled up to the doors. They looked as sturdy as the main gates; a much harder barrier to breach. He did not relish wasting the entire night trying to break them open and then fighting with impossibly stubborn monks.
His eyes fell on the nearest officer; a mere Ruscatron.
“Have someone fetch my blankets. We will encamp here tonight and make a new start on the morrow.”
The officer bowed his head with the pounding of his chest.
Orders passed down the ranks, as men ran down the stairs to fetch the needs of all those present.
Yathebon arranged his cape beneath himself and sat back against the monastery doors. He gazed up at the first of the stars to peek through the new fabric of the night. A senior ranking officer interrupted his view.
“General, if i may be permitted to speak.”
Yathebon gave his permission with a contemptuous gesture.
“Would it not be best to press our attack now, while the monks are weary? I would wager they could barely raise their hands anymore.”
“That is a good estimation, but I am weary too. After breakfast, we will break the doors open in an hour at most.”
“Forgive me, General, but that would involve a ram. There are no trees on the plain and if we were to double back…”
“Enough,” Yathebon interrupted softly, yet sternly.
His eyes shifted minutely to the thick beam used to bar the outer gates on the other end of the courtyard.
“I already know where to get a sturdy enough ram,” he said. “Now get me something worthy to drink.”