The Dragon of Time,
Gods and Dragons
By Aaron Dennis
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“What do you see?” Scar asked.
One warrior produced a telescope. Looking through glass for a moment, he was silent. Then, he turned to the mercenary.
“The three lookouts on the roof have not seen us, and I did not see anyone looking to the south through their windows,” the soldier answered.
“Excellent,” Scar sighed. “Taking this tower by surprise allows the Kulshedrans to continue running their supply wagons. Their horse drawn carts stop at each outpost along the Satronian border carrying goods. Therein lays the second portion of Zoltek’s attack strategy.
“With the supply wagon compromised, storming the adjacent outposts is a much easier task, especially after my suggestion of utilizing the wagons for an ambush.”
Some of the warriors glanced at each other. Their frowns and furrowed brows were indications of disbelief. Zmajans considered themselves masters of the art of war, but then they had yet to dethrone King Gilgamesh and take Satrone for themselves.
Scar slowly climbed the sandy hill. At the top, amidst stunted shrubberies, he laid on his stomach. A beaten path through the thin chaparral rounded the tower. Two more paths curved to the east and the west. It was evident by twin tracks that supply wagons came about on a regular basis. Scar maintained his observation. No wagon was in sight, and it was too dusty to see any other tower on the black horizon. The silence was his only concern. They may yet hear our approach, he thought.
He climbed back down and addressed his group, saying, “Men, we must move slowly, lest our heavy feet draw unwanted attention.”
They nodded in understanding. Scar rounded the hill and skulked the remaining distance to the outpost. His eyes were wide, ready for any movement. The soldiers behind him grit their teeth while doing their best to remain quiet. Before long, they reached the beaten path. With backs pressed to the brown stone of the tower, they waited for Scar to mount the attack.
He approached the massive entryway at the base and peeked inside. The structure of the tower, as was similar with those of Zmajan architecture, was a four-entry crossway at the base with a staircase leading to the top. The size of the entrances also allowed the supply wagons to pull into the tower proper. From his position, Scar saw two men with bronzed skin clad in brown, leather armor.
The guards sat at a table chatting. They had no clue bloodthirsty Zmajans had arrived with slaughter on the mind. Scar turned back to his men and pointed to round the other side. He counted ten seconds after they moved. Then, he rushed inside with his great sword at the ready.
The Kulshedrans had not even the time to comprehend the situation. Scar slashed his blade, and one’s head fell from his body. The other just came to his feet, but Scar had kept the momentum of his swing going by carrying the sword overhead. With a vertical slash, he killed the second man. In less than five seconds, the base of the outpost was secured.
Scar held his left fist up. In silence, the men waited a moment. When no clamor from above resounded, Scar took the lead again. He rushed past a long table lined with lanterns, plates of dried fruit, and Kulshedran corpses, to the steps at the far end. Battle lusty Zmajans followed behind Scar. Aware of the plan of attack, four, grumbling soldiers remained at the base in the event of Kulshedran support from whatever sights unseen.
Twenty steps up from the base of the outpost was another large room similar in design only with windows in place of doorways. Coming off the steps, the Zmajans fanned out, and slew three Kulshedrans. Drunk from too much wine, the enemy gave no resistance.
Once more, Scar waited. There was no sound indicating their presence was known, and he proceeded up more steps, only with four less men to remain on the second floor. Twenty more steps up, he spilled into the third room; it was lined with rows of beds.
Caught unawares, a Kulshedran guard gasped and made to grab his spear. A Zmajan warrior chucked his javelin. It struck the guard high in the back, and he crashed to the floor with a great deal of noise. Roused by the attack, the slow waking guards tried to resist, but Scar and the soldiers made easy of work the enemy. Sleeping lions make easy prey, Scar laughed to himself.
“I’ll take the roof,” the mercenary whispered.
He walked slowly. Time was of little importance. The tower had been secured, leaving as his only concern the Kulshedrans’ gong. Aid was likely too far to pose the Zmajans any immediate threat, but negligence was outside of Scar’s approach. Coming close to the last steps, his bald, white head poked through the floor.
“Hey?” a dozing Kulshedran asked in shock.
One made for the gong while the other swung an axe at Scar. He parried by simply pointing his blade forward. Following up with a lunge to the top step, he stabbed the guard in the midsection, leapt up to the floor, and spun with a slash across the back of the man about to ring the gong. The blow killed the enemy, but Scar left his flank open.
The remaining Kulshedran slashed at exposed skin. With a groan, Scar twisted his sword hand. The action brought his pommel against the guard’s head. Staggered from the blow, the Kulshedran was susceptible to a kick in the gut. The mercenary’s immense foot sent the man into the tower’s guardrail and over it. The enemy plummeted close to a hundred feet.
The four Zmajans at the base saw the guard hit the ground. A large puff of dust came up, but was quickly carried away by the subtle winds.
“Guess he’s done it,” one soldier chuckled.
On the roof, beneath a thin, whipping cloth for daytime shade, Scar took the rotating ballista. A bolt was already loaded. By pushing against a horizontal beam built into the framework, he pointed the giant weapon to the south where the remaining Zmajans along with General Dumar waited for the signal that the supply wagon was on its way. Then, Scar went down a floor.
“Someone gather oil and cloths,” he ordered.
While they did so, he went back to the roof and took a seat in a wicker chair. Frowning, he checked his flank. The blood was already dried, and the wound no longer ached. He scratched it. Crimson dust crumbled away revealing a new scar. Why does it heal so quickly?