Descar was a town surrounded by tall granite walls. It was traditional this close to the plains to dwell behind tall walls, it helped block wind and kept herds of antelope or wild horses from venturing through populated areas. The walls were never meant as a defensive tool. There were no ramparts and no turrets to shield defenders. There were look outs and crows nests to track dust storms or incoming merchant caravans. Prior to the revolution, Descar was a perfectly pleasant place untouched by the horrors of battle.
The Instigator stood in the middle of a street lined by row houses that stood side by side. Lanterns attached to old wooden posts hanging from doorways still hung on porches. The street was cut with tracks from carriages that passed at all hours of the day.
It was in this street she called upon the retreating troops of the Resistance to hold their ground.
“Stand now, fellows and comrades, this is our time. Stand now and strike against those that desire nothing more than to return you to the rule of the Crazed King,” she shouted into the crowd rushing by her. Her long coat waved wild in the winds created by the rushing mass.
“Stand here and let freedom be your battle cry!” She feared her words were not enough.
Her locket, the trusted tool to win the hearts and minds of her countrymen, rested against her neck. She could feel it asking to be put to use. She knew its power. She knew that with a simple grasp and a whispered word the running soldiers would stop in their tracks and turn to face the incoming enemy. She knew the only magic greater than her locket was the spirit of humanity. She refused to turn the locket on her compatriots, pleading with the powers above that the freedom so desperately desired would motivate action in their hearts.
She called into the crowd once more. Hundreds had passed by now. The sound of gravel slipping under foot covered her voice. Smoke rose over the city’s walls; the Royal Army drew closer.
She felt a tug at her arm and an unknown voice spoke most treasured words.
“We’ll stand with you, always.” A young man, covered in grass stains and grime from the journey into the city spoke as the voice of a dozen more who looked just like him. Men and women, old and young formed a line and readied their rifles. As they formed ranks, others joined. The street was soon lined from one side to the other with those ready to make their stand against a enemy most foul.
The Instigator took her position at the front of the pack and turned to face the hundreds assembled by her side. She took hold of her locket.
“Friends,” she started, “be not fearful of this coming storm. Gaze out and see the enemy, know that your aim will be true and your cause just. They shall fear you as they enter this street!’ The Instigator raised her batons to the air and led a battle cry more ferocious than any sound the Royal Army could hope to muster.
She had witnessed the physical effects her words and locket caused those that listened. As she looked upon the improvised platoon, she saw how powerful her words could be. She saw muscles relax, nerves eased and rifles steadied. The eyes of those before her dilated so every bit of available light could bolster aim. The soldiers felt not worry, no fear as the first of the Royal Cloak and Cowl entered the street.
“Let loose and send them back to their king,” the Instigator commanded.
The Resistance fighters lobbed a fierce volley at the approaching soldiers. The Cloak and Cowl were the best trained, most feared foot soldiers on the continent. Their metal masks concealed their faces and stopped their speech. They were the Voiceless, they were death come to the mortal realm.
They were no match for the precision of the Instigator’s troops. Volley after volley, moving more rapidly than any training session had managed, repelled the dreaded foes. Lavender cloaks filled the end of the street, either discarded in fleeing surrender or draping the fallen. Regardless of reason, the street had been claimed.
The Instigator stood, breathless and stunned. Her eyes felt as though she had no blinked in an age. She turned to her comrades.
“To stare down the Voiceless, the metal faced men of the King’s Guard, you are now without equal. There is still work to be done. Deeper into the city we must go; landships and automatons are certainly crawling about. To the defense of Descar my friends,” The Instigator rallied her troops.
With a cheer that shook the wooden homes around them, the assembled force abandoned the street and move deeper into the walled city.
Thanks for reading!
Here’s more in this series:
The Instigator’s Street