“This is good, good, yes!” The Alchemist shouted. He had been escorted to a pharmacist’s shop. “Oh, this is highly volatile,” he continued.
The escorts exchange uncomfortable glances.
“I talk often and loudly, folks,” the Alchemist explained, “Oh glycerin! This is going to be fun. I feel like a per-pubescent in a taffy factory!”
More uncomfortable glances.
“You three empty these containers into that barrel,” the Alchemist said. The three soldiers did as instructed and emptied jars of leaves and flowers into a large barrel soon joined with fish oils and the mad man’s beloved glycerin.
“Good, now someone find the cork lids for these jars. When those landships come through we’ll want to make sure the jars we throw at them have lids. And they need to be on fire. Lids and fire. Get to work,” the Alchemist clapped his hands together and continued rummaging through the shop.
The pharmacy was drafty, which annoyed him to a greater degree than he should have allowed. It was unbecoming a house of health and restoration to be so shoddily put together. He let his opinion on the matter become well known. The escorts learned quickly to let the ramblings go on uninhibited.
The battle raging through Descar was growing nearer. Gunshots ringing through the streets were louder and more rapid. The escorts kept checking their own munition supplies and grew ever more panicked as they realized there were not nearly enough rounds to get them and the Alchemist to safety if the enemy line pressed this far into town before the explosives were ready.
“Sir, how much time to you believe is needed for this operation?” Asked one particularly worried soldier.
“You four were from a fire brigade, correct? Take the buckets, fill them water, squelch the fire? Combat was not meant to be your focus? No, that is better left to the Vanguards and the cloaked one rallying behind the Musketeers. Do you know why the General had you follow me? Why you four, of all the soldiers in the Resistance, were chosen to safe guard the one creature in this town that can stop those dastardly machines from zapping all of to crispy version of ourselves? The fire brigades work better together than any others. Everything you do is coordinated and executed to perfection. We are making tremendous bombs here and when it comes time to throw them in the path of those landships, you are the only ones I know will succeed the first try.”
The escorts exchanged glances full of pride. “We will not let you down, sir,” one said.
“And if you do, at least I will not be alive to yell at you,” the Alchemist said as he sniffed a freshly opened jar of arsenic. He curled his nose at the stench and placed the jar back on the shelf.
A blast louder than any other shook the building.
“That was a cannon. The landships must be near,” an escort said.
“Those towers won’t be far behind,” another called out.
“Mix quickly then, young heroes, our time is short,” the Alchemist ran to the store front to see the commotion.
Rolling down the street was a Royal landship. Tread wheels, smoke stack pouring out smoke and a magnificent iron forged cannon sitting atop the mess in a turret that could turn it a full three hundred sixty degrees; he loved the machines most any other time. Watching the turret bring the cannon toward his direction was unnerving.
“We’re ready, sir,” an escort said. He had heard their names repeatedly throughout the day, but could not commit them to memory.
“Good, now put the goo in the jars, put cork in the lid and find something to light them on fire,” the Alchemist said.
“Done, sir,” said another escort holding a cork capped jar and a cloth ready to be set a flame.
“How did that happen so quickly?” The Alchemist was flustered.
“You’ve mumbled the plan several times now,” the fourth escort said.
“You listened! Thank you, thank you,” The Alchemist smiled.
“Now, someone follow me with flaming jars. We are going to run this in the path of the landship. I need someone to draw its attention,” the Alchemist started. As he spoke a cannon round slammed into the building, ripping off the door and knocking down an entryway pillar.
“We should move now, sir,” the third escort said.
The Alchemist heard fear in the escort’s voice and stepped to him, laying a hand on his shoulder.
“This is not a moment to fear, this is a moment to rely on ourselves. We are better than any machine that can come for us. The Crazed King thinks his engines and mortars can break us; only we can do that to ourselves. Now, put your faith in yourself and come throw explosives with me. It will be outstandingly fun. And loud. So very loud.”
The Alchemist felt his speech was rather rousing, ending it with a reassuring head nod and a slap on the young man’s shoulder.
Uncomfortable glances filled the room once more.
“Come now, light the rags and aim well!”
The Alchemist lead the charge. Cannon rounds landed before him, sending gravel and dirt into his eyes. He raised the flaming bottle of combustable materials and threw it with all his might. The jar clashed against the machine’s wheels, shards of glass shot through the air and the flaming wick fell to the ground. The jar had failed.
“I would have preferred an explosion,” the Alchemist said in a an odd, calm manner. He stopped in his tracks and stared at the incoming landship and its redirecting turret.
“We’ll try it, sir,” the escorts said as they rushed from the now crumbling pharmacy.
Four jars flew through the air, soaring a mess of flame and and cork bits flying out of their holds. Four jars collided with the landship and set it ablaze.
The escorts cheered the victory as explosions rang through the interior of the ship. A Musketeer emerged from the ship, his armor charred and his lungs full of smoke. The escorts pulled and raised their side arms without a second thought. The Musketeer, the former pilot of the troublesome landship, surrendered without incident. The burning landship rolled its way into a storefront, which soon too was filled with smoke and flame.
“Maybe we leave that part out of the final report, gents, yes?” The Alchemist said.
As he spoke he felt the hairs on his arm and neck stand on end. He looked to his comrades and saw the hairs on their heads raise to the clouds above.
“Coil!” One escort shouted. He pointed to the electricity arching tower rounding the corner to the block they had sought refuge.
The coil let out a bolt. The Alchemist felt a sharp and sudden pain at his side, then nothing.
“Sir,” an escort came to his side, “we’ll fix that. You need to get to safety.” The escort pulled him behind a building that smelled of manure. He felt it a fitting location for the way things were moving.
“What can we fix?” The Alchemist asked.
“Your arm sir, the coil ripped it clear from its post. You do not feel that?” The escort looked concerned.
The Alchemist looked to where his arm should have been and tried to move his fingers.
“That is a most bizarre feeling,” he said. “Why don’t you all do me a favor and cripple that tower and its crew? Plenty of jars left, just push the cork in better this time and things may wait to catch fire. I did so enjoy the flame trail though. It was like the vomit of a firefly. I am a little woozy, perhaps the analogies are not the most fitting.”
The Alchemist closed his eyes despite his own protest. The escorts lobbed volley after volley of explosive jars into the coil before finally chasing of the tower’s crew amid a wall of flames.
When the electrical towers fell and the landships burned, the Royal army sounded its alarm to retreat. The streets of Descar were claimed for the Resistance. They had proven their might and their will to be stronger than that of the Royals. There was only one course of action remaining; it was time to topple the king.
Thanks for reading!
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