There I stood, atop the walls of Corran castle. I watched farms and houses burn; our farms, our houses…our lives. The sun had just set when the call rang out “TO ARMS!”.
It was not more than 3 days since the rider came from the wilds to warn Sir Derrick that Corran was under threat. We took refuge in the castle. Forges burned day and night to make arrowheads, spearheads, and iron wrappings that would turn clubs into maces. Supplies and livestock were ferried into the castle’s bailey. Wooden doors were hacked into shields, tables and chairs made into arrow shafts and mace hafts. We prepared and we waited.
The rider was a member of the rangers guild. She stood atop the battlements with the 10 best bowmen Corran could muster. Sir Derrick led the rest of us in some kind of military formation on the inside of the gatehouse, we stood 40 strong.
I could hear them as they approached, the beating of war drums, the lockstep marching, voices howling and chanting. The sounds of arrows being loosed. It seemed like an eternity waiting in the bailey of castle Corran. Waiting to see what horrors march beyond. Were we just waiting to die? I prayed to all the gods that I could think of plus a few more, not just for my safety, but for my family, my friends, my neighbors. I know not what happened next, be it sorcery or alchemy but the gate splintered open with a blinding flash. Shadows shifted in the dark beyond the gate, their yellow eyes seemed to glow. As they charged towards us, our torchlight revealed them. Sickly green skin, pig-like faces with tusks jutting out at all angles. They wore furs instead of armor. Did they have no fear? Scarred and brutal beasts, standing a head taller than any man I had ever seen and twice as strong. Hollering and grunting in a language I couldn’t understand, they crashed upon us like an avalanche. Spear and axe tore flesh, mace and hammer cracked bone.
The bailey of castle Corran became a slaughterhouse, only it was the animals that were killing. The dirt now slick with blood, ours and theirs. Our makeshift arms against their battle-tested weapons, our fear against their fury. The line couldn’t hold, we were pushed back to the Keep. Half of us were left, if that. I may have gotten in a good jab or two but it was hard to tell, as soon as one fell, two replaced it.
The last I saw of the ranger was as I entered the keep. A lone silhouette on the battlements madly firing arrows into the bailey to cover our retreat. Those monsters must have had siege ladders. One crept up the battlements behind her. I was too scared to call out, but she didn't need me. With one swift motion the ranger dropped her bow and dispatched the beast with her sword. Just as on the ground, two monsters came in its place, then four. I know not her fate but I doubt she is well.
Sir Derrick barred the iron door to the Keep, buying us time. Once inside a plan was hatched; 5 would repel out through the latrines to clear the way for our escape, the remaining 6 would hold off the horde best they could. The women and children would be escorted to the latrines and leave after the first 5 were out. I was chosen by Sir Derrick to be among the first. Was this the Divine intervention I had prayed for? Was this blind luck? Or was I headed to my doom? An iron poker was seized and a rope tied around it. One by one we descended through the shit-covered stone tube…Desecration or death.
I was halfway down the rope when I felt a tug, I looked up just in time to see a body hurling towards me. I tried but failed to avoid him. We collided and both of us fell into the bogs below. The fall nearly killed me, he suffered a worse fate. Struggling I swam for the outer bank and was hauled out of the bog by the first two men from the castle. The fourth was dead, no sign of the fifth. We hid in some nearby brush and waited, no one came out. We did the only thing we could, flee into the night…survive.