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” a man in the front shrieked, right before he ducked behind the cover of his
large square shield.
My head whipped up at the cry and watched as thousands of black dots arced
through the inky sky, only seen by the flickering torchlight, racing down towards us.
“Cover!” a voice commanded and the sky slid out of view as my partner covered me with
his shield.
As the screams of arrows arcing through the air mingled with the screams of men
that fell before the onslaught of the arrows, Jeffrey grinned at me. “Can’t wait for this to
be over, eh?”
I gave a grim smile in reply and peeked out from behind the cover of the large
shield to see how we fared. “If it were over, I hope it’s in the sense that we’ve won,” I
sighed, stepping out from behind the shield.
“Captain! Don’t waste the time by yapping when you should command the
catapults!” a general shouted to me as he raced by on his horse, no doubt relaying orders
and overseeing that they were carried out.
“Yes, sir,” I called back and turned to my men, drawing my sword.
Jeffrey set the heavy shield down but his eyes were on the gates of the city walls
ahead, aglow with the torches placed at even intervals along its length. “Forward, three
hundred yards!” I bellowed, swinging my sword in a small circle in the air, signaling just
in case my order wasn’t heard.
With a groan, the contraption began to move forward at an agonizingly slow pace
on its large wooden wheels. “Get it moving faster!” I shouted to the men, putting my
sword away and pushing with them at the catapults nearest to me.
“Cavalry forward!” someone shouted and with a roar of approval, the cavalry ahead
of us kicked their horses into a trot and quickly speeding up into a gallop.
“Three hundred yards!” the lookout called. I looked up to nod at Sven who had
been counting our paces since we had started to maintain our distance from the wall.
“Man the catapults!” I bellowed.
A great oily rock was heaved into the catapults’s cup by two burly men who also
added a collection of pebbles that no doubt had crumbled off of the larger piece. I winced
as I watched them load the pebbles in – those would hurt if they hit anyone. “Ready!”
they shouted once they’d finished. All down the line, there were the same shouts until all
five catapults were ready.
Five men held lit torches in their hands. “Fire!” I shouted, watching the cavalry.
Quickly, the five men touched their torches to the stones and leaped away as men
rammed hammers onto the gears that held down the machine’s great head. With a whir,
the catapult swung back and launched the flaming stones into the air. There was a horn
up ahead, the signal for advance. “Forward!” I shouted. “One hundred feet!”
With a great groan, the catapult moved forward, pulled on its giant wheels by teams
of horses attached to it. Around us, the other catapults did the same. A scream in the air
warned me before I could see the arrows. “Arrows!” I shouted just as Jeffrey pulled me in
behind his shield. Hundreds of arrows struck the great shield as Jeffrey held me close to
him for protection. The shield was big, but even arrows could get around them.