Jakos ran out of javelins. He stepped back, catching his breath and rubbing his sore arms. He wasn't the only one to have emptied his stock. Other men had stepped back as well, allowing fresh troops to move up.
A huge rock crashed into the wall near Jakos.
The impact knocked him off his feet, but he was otherwise uninjured. The same couldn't be said for the poor souls who had been crushed by the impact. Jakos averted his eyes and forced down a wave of nausea from the bloody sight. He stood up unsteadily, and extended his hand to another soldier who had been knocked down as well.
Another impact shook the walls. Jakos looked around, searching for where the boulder had hit, but saw nothing. He peeked over the edge of the wall, and his eyes opened wide at what he saw. A huge battering ram stood in front of the massive gates. It was in the shape of a massive wolf, teeth bared, and claws extended. It swung back for another hit, and Jakos braced himself. The walls shook again, and Jakos heard Captain Fallin ordering the men to fall back to the courtyard. They obeyed, and soon he found himself standing nervously facing the gate that was starting to crack. The gates shook as another boom rang out, then a few seconds later exploded into splinters, and the fearsome head of the ram glared through.
Nihlem felt the vibrations of the ram and the giant boulders crashing into the walls. The archers were still firing in huge volleys, taking the Gorlacs out a few dozen at a time. Unfortunately he couldn't see much of the battle to his right, but he could hear the screams of wounded men and the clash of steel. He called for another volley, then turned as a messenger ran up to him.
"Sir," the man said breathlessly. "General Trena says to move your men closer to the main gate. The Gorlacs are about to break through."
Nihlem nodded crisply. "Understood." He turned to give the order, but as he finished there were some gasps of horror from the archers around him. Nihlem looked up, and a lump of fear formed in his throat, choking him. A huge boulder was hurtling down towards right where the archers were standing. Towards right where Nihlem was standing.
His last thought was of his son, then the boulder crashed into the wall, sending chunks of white stone and battered bodies cascading into the courtyard below with a resounding crash. Nihlem's body landed with a dull thud, then was still.
Ashe stood stunned as half of the archers were taken out in a moment. He turned to ask for orders from General Trena beside him, but the stoic commander was already making preparations.
"Get another messenger down there to make sure that there's still an officer left to take charge. Then reiterate the order to move to the main gate."
A messenger scurried away, and Ashe turned back to watch the tides of the battle below with a keen eye. He could see the wages of movement in the Gorlac's ranks as telepathic commands traveled. Then he realized that after a few minutes of watching, he could almost predict the movements of the enemy before they happened. He was about to turn to alert the General of this, but a resounding crash sounded from the main gate, and he could see dozens of Gorlacs rushing through the newly made hole. The sounds of real battle finally reached his ears, and he was surprised at how harsh it was. Years of tactical training and practice never prepared you for the real thing. A feeling of dread grew in Ashe's stomach as he saw the Namorian infantry start to give way before the deadly force of the attack. He anxiously fingered the sword that hung at his belt, praying that he wouldn't have to draw it.
He realized that Trena was talking to him.
"I'm sorry sir, what was that?"
Trena looked miffed. He did not like repeating himself.
"What are your thoughts on the Gorlac's strategy?"
Ashe thought a moment. "Well sir, I don't think they have one." He gestured towards the shifting mass of hairy bodies below. "If you watch, you can see the waves of movement as commands are issued."
Trena stared a moment, then nodded.
Ashe continued. "I think they're just going to throw themselves at us until they either overwhelm us, or die trying. If we could withstand the assault, we would be fine, but..."
Trena finished the thought. "But we don't have enough men to withstand this attack."
Ashe nodded. Trena contemplated silently for a minute, and Ashe could feel the tension rising in the air as his commander pondered how to save the lives of eight thousand men.
They were losing. Jakos could see it. The line of infantry was steadily getting pushed back, with more men falling every second. Jakos slashed and hacked with his sword, keeping his shield up as much as he could, but the weight of the Gorlacs was bearing him down. The soldier next to him collapsed suddenly, a gaping wound in his side, and a Gorlac's hairy body started to push through the wavering line of shields. Jakos tried to respond, to keep the monsters back, but the man on his other side suddenly contorted and fell to the ground as well, blood pouring from his neck. Jakos quickly scrambled to the side, trying to reach the other soldiers, and barely made it as a huge wave of Gorlacs charged past him. The dead bodies of soldiers were crushed under the massive feet.
Jakos could hear Captain Fallin shouting orders to fall back, and he fell in line with the other soldiers, shield held up desperately. But it was too late. At least fifty Gorlacs had broken through, and were rampaging through the fortress, cutting down anyone in their path. Jakos once again braced himself against the onslaught, but he was quickly tiring. Men were cut down on all sides, and the ground began to be slippery with blood. The harsh sounds of metal clanging against metal and the even harsher sound of steel against flesh, echoed in his ears, filling his mind with terror.
Fallin stood back from the battle, desperately trying to keep his men alive and in order. It wasn't working. Minutes seemed to pass in an instant and stretch into eternity all at once. His eyes focused on each killing blow dealt to his men. A huge axe breaking through a shield and burying itself in a man's shoulder. A gruesome meeting of huge teeth and a soldiers neck.
These Gorlacs were unlike any enemy Fallin had ever seen. They fought with weapons, yet were as savage as a starving lion. They killed with teeth and claws, and seemingly reveled in the gore. Fallin almost felt sick, but he pushed it down and focused. He heard marching feet behind him, and he spun quickly to see a small column of blue-armoured figures approaching. Reinforcements. Praise Alta, or whatever being was listening. It looked like General Trena was paying attention after all. There weren't many of them, but the other fortress gates were being attacked as well, so any help was better than none. He waved the sergeant over, and told him where to position his men. They were still heavily outnumbered, but they would hold out a little longer.
A stray arrow suddenly buried itself in Farrin's shoulder pauldron, and he stumbled from the force of it, but it hadn't broken skin. He refocused on the battle, and despair began to rise in him as he saw the troops getting pushed farther and farther back. He shouted, encouraging the men to hold their ground, but he could see them losing morale as well as ground. He could hear some sounds of battle behind him as the fifty or so Gorlacs who had broken through wreaked havoc.
"Fall back to the inner wall!" He called. He heard the command being repeated down the line, and he saw the blue-clad soldiers expertly condense and slowly give ground, backing through the courtyard toward the iron gates. Fallin himself turned and jogged to join the commander of the inner wall. Lieutenant Crota was an absurd looking little man, but he was one of the most steadfast soldiers Fallin knew. The little man saluted as Fallin approached.
"Sir! Inner wall defenses are ready to go, sir!"
Fallin waved for him to be at ease. This was no time for useless formality.
"That's fine, Crota. Just be ready to close the gate when my men get here."
Crota deflated a bit, then nodded. "Yes, sir."
Fallin watched anxiously as his men approached the gate. A messenger skidded to a halt next to him, panting hard.
"Catch your breath, soldier."
The man looked surprised. He took a deep breath, then nodded.
"The other regiments are pulling back to the inner wall as well, sir. One gate is already closed, and the other one is almost ready."
Fallin nodded. "Thank you. Take a rest before heading back to your station."
Fallin turned back just as the last of his men scrambled through the closing gate, which shut with a clang.
"Everyone who just came through," he shouted. "Take a rest. Get a drink, and make sure the wounded are tended to. We'll need all our strength for this."