The Flight of The Draykes
Quickly taking stock of the situation, I realized the enemy numbered close to 70 men and was probably half a ship’s complement worth of soldiers.
The thing that I couldn’t figure out was why this ship had double, no - triple the number of our marines.
Our knights were 2 silver ranks, Sir Aaron and Sir Egon, and another 4 gold-ranks with Sir Chase, a wounded Dame Bathory, the wounded unknown gold-rank Knight, and Sir Patrick.
Our marines were all iron ranked and numbered 10 of them with only two archers among them who took up position next to Sir Chase.
Our own soldiers formed a thin shield wall two men deep and seven wide, with Damon taking charge as the grizzled veteran was injured and lying in the hold.
The sailors clambered frantically over the sides of the ship and grabbed brutal-looking swords and spears before they ran and formed a block of men and women on either side of our shield wall, with Captain Saylor leading them.
As for the refugees, they moved to a spot further away from the ship and the battle and stood in a huddle as the ones of age amongst them moved to the front, clenching their empty fists.
Then the enemy was marching over to us, their sandals and shoes biting the land and leaving their mark upon it.
“Loose!” cried out Sir Chase and the two archers, and he began firing as fast as they could.
Sir Chase was felling one person at a time while the two archers just released straight into the general mass of people, sending a few tumbling to the ground.
Nervously, the sailors readied their weapons as the enemy broke into their charge, and then Damon was pointing his sword at them and screaming out, “Loose all projectiles! Free Fire!”
And a scattered rain of spears, javelins, stones, and anything that was at hand hurtled towards the charging enemy, who were thinly armored - I noted.
A few went down, but the rest kept charging when the sailors - led by Captain Saylor, who suddenly burst forth with a golden aura - charged in turn with a bellow.
For a moment, the battlefield froze.
Our wings had charged at the enemy line while our center was stationary, caught by surprise and bracing for the impact that never came.
For the enemy found that the very same nervous sailors were now cutting into them with a professional look in their eyes and demolishing their ranks as though they were hanging bait on their fishing rods.
Damon watched slack-jawed before he bellowed out, “Advance!” and our soldiers advanced as one and battered into the reeling enemy.
For a moment, I thought the battle was won.
Then paling, I saw figures silently climbing over the sides of the ship from our bow that was nearest to the water.
Looking around, I realized the enemy had sent a flanking force to board the ship through the water.
Shouting and making everyone aware of the situation, I hefted my shield and my sword and with quick powerful steps, rammed into one enemy soldier who was climbing over the railing, sending him falling backward.
With a quick turn to the left, I raised my sword and slashed it down, severing the fingers of another enemy who fell screaming.
Then I had turned into a full circle and, facing my original direction, I backpedaled as I was being surrounded.
Looking at the enemy, I saw 8 of them - all lightly armed and clothed, whereas I was in my leather armor with a chainmail vest and armed with both the Shield of Draconis and a short sword.
Breathing out and calming myself, I fell silent as I regarded the enemy, who sneered as they saw a solitary girl standing before them.
Then they charged.
Stepping in and meeting the first person's swing before it gained momentum, I pushed back upwards while I deflected a sword coming from my right to the side where it fouled the attack of another enemy.
Pushing forward, I cut through the reeling enemy and jumped back, where I again covered myself with the shield and regarded them coolly.
The deck of the warship was at most 5.5 meters in width. Not a very wide place to fight upon, given that much of the deck space was occupied by rigging and rowers’ seat decks.
Moving backward, I placed my back against the mast and gestured provocatively toward the enemy, who howled and charged again.
Moving to the left and around the mast, I slashed my sword from the right to the left - taking off a person's arm and then circling the mast; I slammed my shield from above to the bottom, pinning a sword that was stabbing toward my waist to the ground, and thrust my own sword in a clean stab into the man’s brain.
Pulling it out, I raised my shield and hunkering behind it; I charged at the befuddled person who stood revealed as the dying man slumped to the side and slammed into him, throwing him back onto a lithe woman who rolled out of the way.
As the woman’s roll finished and she came up, she only had time to block with her two hands as my leg came sweeping across and sent her flying over the left side railings and onto the sand of the island.
Then it was my turn to jump onto the railing and dance amidst the blades that hacked at me.
My shield was being used as a spear as I stabbed downward using the edge of the kite shield to deflect the stabs and cuts of the soldiers who were frenzied from the loss of another 4 of their comrades.
Then I spotted my opportunity and, jumping high and forward, I kneed one enemy in the face before rolling upright and whirling around with a burst of warforce speed, taking another woman’s head off as she turned too slowly to keep up with me.
Panting, I watched the three people who were left. Two men, one with only an arm left, and a woman.
Then they glanced at the ship’s hold entrance and signaled to each other and fury burst through me.
Yelling, I charged at them only to have the man and woman block me while the enemy with one arm ran to the hold, grinning maniacally.
I watched with anger and I took a cut across my armor that took my breath away, but in exchange, I reaped the life of the man and sent the woman reeling with a punch to her face.
Turning, I was about to run after the one-armed man when he froze at the entrance of the hold, a sword emerging from his groin and into the sky behind him before it retracted and the man collapsed backward with howls of pain that ended as Ares climbed onto the deck and stabbed his sword through the thrashing man's throat.
Looking at him gratefully, we turned in unison with predatory looks in our eyes at the woman who snarled and vaulted off the ship.
Running to the railings, we watched as the battle finished; the enemy broken and streaming away, chased by the sailors and our soldiers with grim expressions on their faces.
The marines, clad in their heavy armor, stood protectively near the ship with alert looks on their faces as they scanned the surf.
Letting out a sigh of relief, I looked at Ares and mouthed, “We survived.” only for Ares to shake his head and say, “I feel like death is stalking us.”
Shivering, I was about to admonish him when the treeline again spat out people but from the side that our foraging party had gone through.
First came the remaining troops of the foraging party. 20 had gone - less than 10 had returned and they were fleeing to the ship as we spoke while the three knights were again fighting a desperate retreat.
Looking behind them, I paled as I saw another 40 people with 4 gold ranks amongst them charging toward us.
Ares was more direct.
He spat out the word,
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