The moat was nearly dry, all except the pool surrounding the causeway up to the castle gate. It was deep there yet. Hopefully it was deep enough.
Fathren tried to swallow, but his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth as a hot wind swept over the dry parched plains. He told himself it was from the rationing of water, but the dust raised by the invader’s armies wasn’t helping either.
“Ready?” His whispered cracked.
“Ready.” Three soft voice replied from the dry grass about him.
Fathren nodded his fingers tightened around his bow as his breath hissed rapidly though the cloth covering the lower half of his face. They had one chance, the four of them. If they failed, they’d die. If they succeeded, they would be branded destroyers. But at least the invaders would suffer a bitter blow.
Already the steady tramp of feet were echoing along the brush filled moat surrounding the castle. On the wall, the sun glinted off silent troops.
Fathren closed his eyes for a long moment, then drew an arrow. “On my mark, and may the Prince be with us all.”
“May the Prince be with us.” His companions’ voices were accompanied by the swish of arrows.
Fathren tensed, measuring the distance of the approaching soldiers. The troops in the moat. The horsemen behind his party in the tall grasses. The dryness of the grasses.
He raised one hand.
Fathren sliced his hand downward and leapt to his feet, springing to the middle of the causeway. Focusing, he breathed on the tip of his arrow and his heart leapt as it flashed into a flame.
“Draw!” His voice seemed to echo along the battlements even as startled cried from the wall reflected the shouts of derision from the invaders.
He focused toward the brush just beyond the lead troop, feeling rather than seeing his friends fall in place behind him.
His string sang as the arrow cut through the air. Shouts burst into a confused babble and Fathren spun, a single glimpse assuring him his companion’s arrows had found their mark while anger ripple through the walls above. But it was the only way. The lord would have surrendered if given the chance. Surrendered, and been slaughtered.
He’d not have the chance.
And, as Fathren followed his men, leaping over the causeway to the murky pool beneath, he only hoped the flames already catching hold on the plains and enveloping the invaders would be enough to save them all.