Read Kathir's Redemption (Book 6) Online

Authors: Kristian Alva

Tags: #YA fantasy, #epic fantasy, #dark fantasy, #fantasy, #dragons

Kathir's Redemption (Book 6) (11 page)

BOOK: Kathir's Redemption (Book 6)
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5. Fleeing the Mountain

It took Skemtun and his men hours of walking to reach the small, concealed exit leading out of Mount Velik. The ragged band of survivors crawled out of the tiny opening and emerged on the south side of the mountain, about two leagues away from the main road. It was dawn when they finally reached the outside.

The exit was so small that Kathir had to disrobe and squeeze through like a caterpillar in order to fit. But they all made it out alive.

Sela saw them exiting the mountain while she was patrolling. She and Brinsop landed nearby and covered them with a concealment spell so they could escape to the tree line unseen. Luckily, most of the orcs were stationed on the other side of the mountain, near the front gate, so they were able to make it into the forest relatively easily.


Sela, do you have any news for us?

asked Skemtun.

Sela nodded.

Most of the women and children were able to escape, but the orcs are tracking them. I believe that Nar is planning to send out raiding parties. Elias and Nydeired are trying to help as much as they can, but there

s only so much they can do. Elias is already tending dozens of wounded in a ravine nearby. He has his hands full as it is. Nydeired has scared off several roving bands of orcs, but there

s so many of them

we can

t possibly root them all out. Eventually, your people are going to be attacked.


And what of our men?

asked Skemtun

How many of our soldiers survived?


It

s difficult to say,

said Sela.

An accurate count would be impossible now. Your general, Baltas, is dead, along with his entire contingent.


None of his men survived?

asked Skemtun.


No,

said Sela.

None of them surrendered. None of them turned back. Baltas held the main passage for two days, which was a feat in itself. He died bravely with his men beside him. All of your spellcasters are probably dead, too. I haven

t been able to get a telepathic message from anyone inside since yesterday, and the last message I received was frantic and very troubling. Then everything went silent.

Skemtun shook his head sadly.

This is terrible news for us to hear. Hundreds of men, all dead.  All the dwarf spellcasters

gone.  My people
…”
He put his face in his hands and wept softly.

Sela placed her hand on his shoulder.

I

m sorry, Skemtun. I know this is difficult for you. What

s worse, the road to Highport will be rough, and there are almost no soldiers to cover your escape. The survivors are on their own.


Thank ye, for all ye

ve done for us,

said Skemtun, wiping his nose on his sleeve.

We

d best get moving.

Skemtun asked if Sela and Elias could remain at the mountain for at least a few more days, just in case there were other survivors who needed their help to escape. Sela nodded and mounted her dragon saddle.

I

ll cover you until you get a little deeper inside the forest, and then I

ll go back to the mountain. Elias has a few ponies in the ravine nearby; you can take them and catch up with the rest of your group.

As soon as Skemtun and his men were safely in the trees, Sela raced back to the mountain to resume her patrols.

Everyone was tired, but they couldn

t stop and rest. They had to catch up to the rest of the survivors.

Kathir and Skemtun retrieved two ponies from Elias so they could ride ahead. Moving at a swift pace, they caught up to the straggling dwarf refugees in a matter of hours.


By the gods, look at all these people!

Kathir said shaking his head.

A long line of people snaked through the mountain trails

mostly women, children, the elderly, and the wounded. Some carried small bundles or packs, but most had nothing but the clothes on their backs. The dwarves trudged along in scattered groups; their heads bowed with shame and grief. A small contingent of battered soldiers brought up the rear to protect them.

Skemtun rode up behind the line and spoke with one of the soldiers.


Hey there, boy!

Skemtun hollered at him.

The young man paused. He looked exhausted.

Skemtun, that you?


Aye, it

s me,

he replied.

How are ye gettin

along?


Not too good. The greenskins attacked us last night. About twenty orcs came out of the forest in a nighttime raid. None of us has been able to get any rest.


Did they steal anything?

asked Skemtun.

Supplies, or horses?

The soldier shook his head.

No

they seem to be doing it for sport. The orcs killed a woman and five men. We chased

em off, but they

ll be back again. The women and children are terrified.


How are we on supplies? Do we have enough food and water?


Enough almost for six days, give or take. We

ve got water, but we already started rationing food. We didn

t have much to begin with

only what people could carry with them. We

ve been tryin

to forage in the forest as we walk, but there isn

t much here. The orcs did a lot of damage when they marched through here. A few men offered to go hunting, but they disappeared and didn

t return. We think the orcs got

em. After that, our captain told everyone to stay together and keep walkin

. It

s too dangerous to go out alone.

Skemtun looked around.

Were you able to save any of the livestock? That would have helped us along the way.


Not much, sir.

The young man pointed toward the front of the line.

We saved some ponies and a few mules. The ponies are carrying the wounded, and the mules are carrying the food supplies.

Skemtun could see the mules moving slowly in the distance. The pack animals were laden with supplies.

That

s all we

ve got. Everyone is tired of walking.

Skemtun reached down and patted the young dwarf

s shoulder.

Thank ye, son. Let

s keep movin

. The farther away we get from the greenskins, the safer we

ll be.

The soldier

s voice dropped and he lowered his eyes.

We

re going to Highport, aren

t we?


Aye,

said Skemtun.

There

s nowhere else for us to go, lad. We

ll have to take our chances with the Vardmiters.


That

s what I figured.

The soldier scratched behind his ear. There was an crust of blood near his hairline, and his hand was wrapped with a bandage.

Oh, I forgot to mention

I also saw a messenger ride up earlier. He gave a scroll to Bolrakei. She

s ridin

a mule up at the front of the line.

Skemtun was about to ask more questions, but he was interrupted by a sudden shout. A raiding party of orcs emerged from the forest and attacked. The women and children started screaming and scattered into the trees.


Let

s go, men!

Skemtun called out as he charged forward. Kathir followed behind him on his pony. He looked up into the sky

the dragon riders were nowhere in sight. They were on their own.

They rode into the fray, already holding their weapons. Skemtun raised his axe, swung as hard as he could, and severed an orc

s hand. The orc screamed like a wild animal and clasped his wrist. Blood spurted outward, splattering Skemtun

s face and chest. He wiped his face with his sleeve and raised his axe to strike again.

As fast as lightning, Kathir sank his sword into the throat of another orc. He ducked and felt a spear whiz over his head, grazing his hair. He turned to see Skemtun

s axe embedded in another orc

s skull.

From short distance away, dwarf soldiers fired their arrows into the band of orcs as quickly as they could. More dwarves ran forward, joining the fight with their crossbows, slings, and axes. Skemtun and Kathir stood in the center of the fight, their weapons swinging.

Minutes later, the orcs retreated back into the forest. The dwarves watched them go, and then went to recover their precious arrows from the bodies of the slain. No dwarves had been killed

not this time. There were five dead orcs on the ground, and several more that had been wounded and escaped.


Good job, lads!

Skemtun called out to his men. He tried to give the dwarves the confidence to keep fighting, but everyone could hear the weariness in his voice.

Skemtun climbed on top of a boulder to give himself a better view of the trees.

The orcs are gone. We

re safe for now.


Your men did a good job,

Kathir said, passing him a water skin.

Skemtun uncorked the skin and poured a little water into his mouth.

We were lucky,

he said softly.

We

ve got to be prepared for more attacks.


You

re right,

agreed Kathir.

Scuffles like this will continue for a while. Fortunately, it

s late in the year, and we

re moving north. Orcs don

t like the snow; they

re cold-blooded, and freezing weather makes them sluggish. There

s already snow on the ground in the plains. Once we reach the forest

s edge, your people should be safe.

Skemtun nodded.

I hope ye

re right. In the meantime, we

ve got to keep moving. I can see that these raids are takin

a toll on everyone. All the men look exhausted.


Things are hard right now,

said Kathir,

but it

s going to be all right. You

re doing a good job leading your people. I

m proud to be fighting by your side.

Skemtun raised an eyebrow.

Ye say that, but ye

re a mercenary. Aren

t ye gettin

paid
to be here? Miklagard is still paying ye, aren

t they?

BOOK: Kathir's Redemption (Book 6)
11.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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