Just a little idea I came up with about the fall of an ancient keep. Fantasy style.
“Bar the gate! Use anything you can find! Prepare yourself, protect your king!” Bellowed Sir Tristan as the men rushed to follow the his command; closing the huge iron and oak doors behind him with a bang. The commander of the Kingsguard leant against the cold stone of the ancient keep and tried to steady his rasping breath. He placed his hand under his arm but quickly pulled it away with a wince; his fingertips covered in blood.
Tyranrath had come under attack without warning or mercy, ‘how could this be!’ he thought angrily to himself. Only moments earlier he had been pulling on armour over his night clothes after being roused from bed. The commander had emerged on to the battlements to discover a huge force besieging the city, endless bodies and torches as far as the eye could see, sickening chants and roars swelling relentlessly in the calm summer night air. The unprepared defences of the grand city had been overwhelmed in minutes.
Sir Tristan wiped the sweat and dirt away from his face and glanced around to take stock of the situation—barely twenty of the guard had made it inside the throne room. Already exhausted and many carrying heavy wounds, he realised any resistance they offered would not last long. The men of the Kingsguard, dressed their in their plate armour and red capes, hastily propped beams against the door in a desperate effort to secure it. Some were dragging the large banquet tables from the centre of the room, others were tossing chairs, anything they could get their hands on to help add weight. Sir Tristan barked out more orders to his guardsman before turning his attention away and looking up towards the throne at the far end of the room.
There the King stood in front of the golden ornate throne, looking mighty in his full battle armour. The Crown of Kings sat perfectly over his slightly greying hair, the ancient longsword Lionstrike fastened around his waist in its bejewelled scabbard.
He looked noble and strong; everything a king should be. But worry was etched across his scarred face as he peered down at the small bundle in the Queen’s arms. He was speaking quietly to her and his infant son but the words inaudible over the calls and shouts of the guard. Then suddenly, ripping Tristan's attention from the king, a huge crash erupted from the throne room doors as men and timber were sent toppling violently backwards, crying out in alarm.
There was a brief eerie silence as the dust settled and some of the men did not stir again, but the luckier ones quickly picked themselves up and hurried to brace the door once more. It however was beginning to crack and splinter, fissures appearing all over its surface like creeping veins. Another crash echoed around the hall, and then another, their enemy ceaseless in attack. ‘The doors would not hold’ thought Tristan fearing the worst.
“My King you must leave, you must get yourself to safety!” pleaded Tristan, his mail suit chinking as he hastily ran the length of the room to be at his lords side. “We will not keep them out for much longer!” he insisted. The King at first did nothing, continuing to gaze into his young son’s eyes, but then after a brief moment looked up and regarded Tristan with a warm smile.
“My great and loyal friend, I am glad you are here.” the King said placing a gauntleted hand upon his shoulder. “I thank you for your council all these long years, you have never let me down...not once.” He said removing his hand and walking past Tristan to stare down at the men who now struggled to hold back the cracking wood. Seeing his countrymen bravely fight on despite the hopelessness emboldened the king. “But the Ascarian line has held this keep for over an Age.” he said proudly. “And if this is to be the final chapter of our story then let the scrolls say king Aldwyn of Tyra did not abandon his post, that he fought along side his men to the last breath.”
Although Tristan wished with his whole heart that the king would leave, he couldn’t help but feel admiration for his decision. A craven man would have left long ago, would have abandoned his men at the first cry of trouble, but his was not his way. King Aldwyn never backed down from a fight and he would lead his men from the very front, as was Ascarian tradition.
Tristan now looked to the queen who continued to rock the young infant gently in her arms. Dressed in only her white night gown, with long flowing hair dropping down to her waist, she looked radiant as always. This could not be their fate too.
“Then the Queen my lord!” said Tristan desperately “and your son.” Get them out while there is still time, this does not have to be the end for them!”
“How?” said the king turning round to face him “We are surrounded on all sides. Even if they could get out of the keep, how could they make it outside the city walls? They would be captured, tortured and slaughtered!” he said darkly.
“Through the sewers sire” said Tristan quickly “I have a man that knows the way, he could guide the queen my lord.” The king looked Tristan dead in the eyes, considering this, trying to block out the ceaseless pounding upon the doors.
“The sewers lead to a safe point outside the city walls?” questioned the king.
“Yes my lord!” answered Tristan “a line runs to the base of the eastern cliffs, leading out into the bay.” The king hesitated, considering everything. The queen fearfully looked to him, waiting for his words.
“So be it” decided the King finally.
“No!” cried the Queen “do not send me from your side.” she said begging him to change his mind.
“Elenore” said the King quietly, moving to hold her as he did so. He caressed her face and looked down once more at his son. “Tristan is right, this does not have to be your end. You must protect our son, the line will not die out with me.”
“I cannot leave, I will not leave!” yelled Elenore defiantly “Give me a sword, I will fight!”
“Oh brave queen I know you would, I have no doubt. But what of our son? Is he to surrender his life before he has had the chance to live it?” The Queen looked back at the king trying to find words to protest this, but none would come to her lips.
”There is no time Elenore, I have made my decision—Tristan call your man!” The king commanded.
“Yes my lord” said Tristan instantly. He rushed from their side and down back towards the doors. The king, still holding Elenore, placed a kiss upon her forehead. She pulled away slightly, a single tear running down her cheek.
“Do not weep for we will see each other again amongst the Golden Plains” said Aldwyn gently. He then reached down and took hold of his only child. The boy did not argue, but stared back at him with big brown eyes, a curious look upon his face. He did not seem afraid at all. Already the boy had grown long golden hair, common to all in his line. Aldwyn was sure he would grow up strong and healthy; a Lion. The king gave the boy a rough kiss before placing him back into his mothers arms. Then just as he did so, Tristan arrived back to them, a Guardsmen at his side who removed his helmet in respect.
“This is Tycas my Lady” said Tristan gesturing to the man next to him. “A more loyal and brave soldier you will not find, he will show you the tunnels.” The man bowed as the king embraced his wife once more.
“You must do this” whispered the king. “Go. For our son.” he said as he released her.
“This way my lady” said the Guardsman gently placing his arm around her waist and guiding her away from the throne to the back of the room. The queen remained silent as she went, but more tears began to roll down her cheeks. Tycas pulled open a small bolted door hidden behind one of the hanging royal banners, unsheathed his sword and motioned for the queen to follow. The king did not break his gaze, the queen looking back at him, until finally his wife and child disappeared from sight, the door closing behind them. Tristan bolted it after them and fell back beside the king.
“Who did this Tristan?” said the King, his voice cracking slightly, eyes still lingering on the door “Who could assemble and march such an army across the land without us ever being warned?”
“The men I fought atop the walls bore markings of the Kargerak my lord” answered Tristan “Others fired arrows with such accuracy they can only have been guided by Elven eyes.”
“You think the Elves have a hand in this?” said the King in surprise “They have not entered our lands in years, centuries, not since the peace.”
“I cannot be sure sire, it was chaos. Our men barely had time to arm themselves. From the wall I couldn't make out much in the darkness. But I could hear them, thousands of marching feet. And... a dark presence my lord, shapes moving amongst the shadows. Something else is out there. The king thought on this for a moment, he understood what Tristan was saying. He felt it also; A gnawing, foreboding sensation deep within in his chest.
“It does not matter now”, the King said straightening up and setting his jaw in grim determination.
“It is time.”
King Aldwyn faced away from his throne and looked at the banners which hung down the vast walls. A red lion rampart, majestically set over a white background. Generations of kings had ruled under the Ascarian banner. And now it fell to him to be its last. But he would not go quietly. He stepped forward and unleashed his sword from its scabbard. A resounding ring emanated out into the hall causing the stricken guardsmen to turn and face their King.
“Men of the Kingsguard! From the door now, rally to me!” the King roared over the constant barrage against the door. The guard acknowledged his summons and hastily rushed to place themselves at their lord and Sir Tristan’s side; no more than ten remained. King Aldwyn then placed his sword vertical, point to the floor, and got down on one knee. The men around him followed his example.
“Valdar guide me to your side” started the kings calm voice, eyes closed and head bowed. “Give me and my companions the courage to face death. May we find you and our ancestors in those great hallowed halls with a full heart, knowing we died here as men, with honour and without fear. Valdar guide us!”
“Valdar guide us!” responded the Kingsguard in unison as their charge rose to full height.
“It is an honour to spend my last moments in this life with you men.” called the King “You will be remembered for all eternity, the last brave sons of Tyra. Our ancestors watch us, and they will fill the skyhall with songs of this day!”
At that moment the doors of the great room imploded sending a shower of splinters and debris in all directions. As The king raised his arm to shield his face, he felt his skin begin to scorch as an unearthly heat immediately filled the room, ushered forth with a chorus of terrible howls and demonic screams which pierced the men’s minds like jagged thorns. Lowering his arm, for a brief moment the king could not move; stunned by the terrible sight he now witnessed.
Pouring into the throne room were a mass creatures, skin like leather, as black as a moonless night. Monsters thought of only in nightmares, each more twisted and horrid than the next. A deadly array of teeth and bone, a thousand unblinking eyes and razor sharp fangs clambered and clawed over each other in a mindless bloodthirsty charge to seek their prey. They seemed to move as if made of vapour, their forms intermittently appearing solid, but then evaporating into a thick dark mist which swirled and pulsed.
Then as Aldwyn watched this horror unfold before him, his wife's face flickered across his mind if only for an instant. A spike of clarity struck the king and at this his mind was sharpened and steadied, finding his composure. He turned to look at Sir Tristan who's eyes were wide with shock at what he was seeing. The king gave a small smile and a final solemn nod to his old friend before lifting the great sword Lionstrike above his head.
“TYRA!” He bellowed charging forward from the throne, directly at the oncoming black horde.
“FOR THE KING!” called Tristan and the Kingsguard in loyal reply, before racing to follow their leader into battle. As King Aldwyn reached the enemy line, he cleaved his great sword downwards with all his strength. His battle cry reverberated into the topmost corners of the ancient hall as he was swallowed by the fire and darkness, torn and ripped into oblivion by the creatures that enveloped him.
And as the echo of the lions roar faded away, the last king of Tyra was forever silent, his god and forefathers waiting to meet him at the great gates of the Skyhall.