Author’s Note: I said a while back that I would start fictionalizing my journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis through story, so here’s a small bit toward that.
Late was the hour as Reynaud crouched beneath his blanket on the Southern Battlement. No fires were permitted, no warmth except for the ragged bit of cloth draped over his shoulders, reeking of wet, mildewed wool. He’d drawn a corner of it over the top of his head and over his face in a poor attempt to keep some of his body heat to himself, but it was to no avail. The cold cut like a sharp knife and seemed to find every hole and tear in his tattered shroud.
Thud. Thud. Thud. In the distance, the constant thrum of a battering ram resounded against the South Gate. For hours it had been pounding away at the sturdy iron-wrought doors, but neither a dent had been made nor had it moved a single inch. It was Reynaud’s job to keep an eye on things, but the sound of it had grown so monotonous, so perpetual by now that it just throbbed in his bones. Every time wood struck metal it gonged like some sinister bell, but no quarter was given. It simply ached, particularly along his back and shoulders where his tension resided. If only something would happen. Some change. Something different beyond this waiting.
He was tempted to fight back, tempted to use the anti-siege weapons that bristled along the battlements waiting to be used. However, the Lady’s orders had been clear: These were Arey’s own citizens, both innocent and ignorant of the crimes they committed against their own capital and the Crown. She believed that with enough patience they would realize the error of their ways on their own and return to the normalcy of their lives. There were many who were skeptical of such faith. Others who believed that they should fight back with every ounce of their strength and courage.
This was to be a protracted battle, fortified only through the influx of supplies that came in secret from what few allies remained of the city. The siege wall of the Trinity Princes was difficult to slip through, but there were those loyal enough to the Queen to take the risk.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
“If only someone would silence that damnable ram,” Reynaud muttered to himself, “I might be able to get some sleep.”
“It seems you’re in for a bit of a rough night.”
A tall, dark-haired man dressed in a flowing red robe mounted the steps of the battlements not far from where Reynaud had set himself up. A grizzled old veteran, Reynaud only grunted in response. What was he doing here? Kodean was the Queen’s pet Wizard that rarely ventured out from the heart of the citadel.
“S’all’us a rough night on the South,” Reynaud grumbled.
“So it would seem,” Kodean chuckled as he leaned over the battlements to watch the ceaseless work of the battering ram. “Perhaps, though, I can help you get a few hours rest.”
Reynaud only rolled his eyes. He wasn’t the kind of man that believed in magic. He waved his hand, however, to signal the mage to do whatever finger-wiggling nonsense he had in mind. It wouldn’t change things for him, but perhaps it would make the Wizard feel useful. Perhaps he was just as restless as the old wall-sitter.
Kodean smiled, bobbing his head at the man’s permission before he returned his attention to the ram below, but moreso on the men that hauled it. He spoke a strange, sibilant series of words as his fingers weaved in artful patterns. From his sleeve, he seemed to toss out a handful of what looked like sand that glittered in the night air and the torchlight for only the briefest moments before it fell over the crowd of men below.
Thud. Thud… And then silence.
“What in the hell?” Reynaud muttered, looking over the wall for himself.
Down below, every single man bearing the battering ram was on the ground, each of them snoring gently in slumber. Reynaud looked from them to Kodean and back again in disbelief. Maybe there was more to this wizard than most gave him credit for!
“Maybe now you can get some rest,” Kodean said with a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry I couldn’t do more.” With no more than that the Queen’s Wizard turned and descended from the battlements as mysteriously as he had arrived.
“Hell yeah,” Reynaud muttered shuffling off to find himself a comfortable place to sleep.