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Elnissa - by Noelio

The cold winds howled over the parapets of the Fortress Elnissa. Before the great gates of the outer wall, the Knights of the Emerald plume gathered their strength to assault the Fortress. Weeks past, Jerome, a senior knight of the Plume, was taken captive by the legendary Elnissa, Queen of Ice. Dismayed, yet determined to rescue their comrade, the remaining knights of the Plume gathered their far-flung forces to assault her fortress. After weeks of travel and planning, the knights now stood assembled beneath the walls of the Queen's stronghold.

"This isn't looking good, Guyard. Without siege engines, I don't know how you expect to take the walls of this accursed fortress." Tarla spoke to her leader, Guyard apart from the rest. "Brave though they are, our men cannot conjure miracles."

"We have no choice. There is nothing here with which to build the engines you are so fond of. Keep your courage about you and we will take these walls." Guyard spoke with a tone that signaled the end of the discussion. Her pride stung, Tarla returned to the main force to prepare for the assault. Guyard's plan was a simple one: Array the men for battle before the gates, and await Elnissa's inevitable reply. When she opens her gates to issue her forces, the knights will attack with speed and take the great portals before they can be closed against the assault. Simple and daring, Tarla thought, yet fraught with risk. If Elnissa perceives their intentions, she will simply close the gates quickly and let the soldiers of the plume throw their strength against her great walls. Having committed their soldiery to a full-scale assault and under constant bombardment from the walls above, the Plume would be forced to retreat with great loss from the fortress.

As the knights awaited the Queen's response to their challenge, Guyard took his position foremost amongst his troops. Some doubted his wisdom in this attack, he knew, yet none would doubt his courage and resolve. As Guyard began going over the plan for battle in his head, his thoughts were interrupted by a great noise of chains being pulled taught. While his heart beat with anticipation, the great gates of the fortress opened. From them began issuing a far greater force than Guyard had ever imagined. As sudden doubt flew into his mind, Guyard knew that he had gone too far to pull out now. Even if he ordered an immediate retreat back through the pass, Elnissa would catch him from the rear and wipe his force out. Thus, hardening his determination, Guyard gave the signal for the advance.

As one, his disciplined force began their charge for the gates. Within moments the air began to fill with the flying of spears from the parapets of the wall. It was then with a weakened force that Guyard and his men struck the vanguard of Elnissa's army. Knowing that everything depended on this initial charge, the knights of the plume fought with desperation to drive through the enemy army. As Guyard struck wildly at his opponents, he noticed that the gate had not yet begun to close.

"Comrades, brothers, rally to me!" Guyard's call echoed through the narrow pass as he strove for the still-open gates. As the vanguard of Elnissa's army crumbled beneath the charge of his knights, Guyard reached the open gates. Staring within he saw a sight which stopped his heart. Ranks upon ranks of iron-clad warriors stood arrayed within the inner courtyard of the fortress, awaiting the knights. Rather than close the gates on Guyard's charge, Elnissa had allowed his forces to breach the wall only walk straight into a trap. Before Guyard could say aught of caution, Tarla and her troops threw themselves through the open portals and into the courtyard. Instantly, spears began to fly upon them with great vigour as Elnissa raked her enemies from all sides. Knowing that Tarla's force stood no chance against such impossible odds, he called out to her, ordering her to retreat back through the gates before all was lost. Yet as Tarla stopped in mid-charge, her face turned to his, the great gates began to close upon Guyard. As Tarla and her troop turned about-face and ran wildly for the closing gates, Guyard could see it was too late. Within seconds the gates were closed, splitting his force in two. Guyard had no choice but to fall back from the walls where spears continued to hail upon his soldiers.

"We can't leave her!" Tuomas shouted to Guyard from a dozen feet away, as his soldiers tried desperately to break through the closed gates.

"By the God's Tuomas, fall back! There is nothing you can do!" Guyard's retort carried over the howling winds and the screams of his men dying. Slowly, Tuomas's soldiers began to fall back from the wall, all the time losing men to the hail of spears from above. At last his men were safely away and Tuomas came to where Guyard was standing and accosted him. "I won't leave Tarla here! There must be some way we can rescue her and maybe Jerome too!"

"Send someone for rope. We have no choice but to scale these walls with the men we have left." Guyard was grim as he responded to Tuomas. The Knight's losses had been terrible, and he wanted nothing more than to be done of this whole affair. Yet his conscious would allow no such thing with so many of his men trapped at Elnissa's mercy.

Yet as his thoughts turned to the inevitable death of so many more of his soldiers, a dragon carrying a Hero of Medievia came flying over the horizon

December 29, 2006

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