The Great War
I had never in my life felt so tired. My sword arm would barely move. My shield felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. Even taking turns in front of the doors, we were all worn thin. The rat twins weapon technique had turned clumsy and crude. No one could use finesse or grace anymore - we did anything that could down an opponent. I had felled at least two hundred by myself, and I was still not recovered entirely from the effects of the Xanax. I was covered in wounds. Scratchy was much worse than I, but complained not one peep, and fought next to me without so much as a moan when I rose to take my turn again. As long as the doors held, we could protect the females and elderly. As long as we could stand and swing, they would not reach the doors.
We took naps, surrounded by the ringing of weapons, in ten minute pieces while others covered our posts. We had broken almost every spare blade in the house, which the human bought us in bulk packs of 500 each, and now some soldiers were using toothpicks against their foes. The ground was covered in broken armor, bodies, snapped bright plastic weapons, bent shields, and blood. Our medics could not keep up at all. Our time was running out, but we set ourselves to make that clock tick as slowly as it could go until it hit the final hour. In the backs of our hearts, we all hoped for that distant horn sounding the charge from our own forces returning, but in our minds we knew it would not happen. And we knew why.
The enemy was at our doors because our army had failed.
I had thought I would know when my master died. Perhaps he was not dead yet. We knew nothing. It was worse than knowing in some ways. The human had not returned either, and that was not right.
More fighting was the very last thing I wanted, but I rose and Scratchy rose with me. I went forward to the window and put a hundred shots from the slingshot out into the enemy, still covering the ground as far as the eye could see like a moving carpet. Drawing our swords, my squire and I laid into the assaulting bodies.
As it turns out the lull was, of course, just another ploy. The enemy had regrouped over a hill and was preparing weapons large enough to kill the human. We raided them and routed their engineers, but ran smack into the second wave they had waiting for us. It was an awful fight. The ground was choppy and broken, the air was frigid in the rising wind, and the crest of the hill had no defensible spots. Still, it seemed as though he had not an unlimited supply of dead warriors any longer, for their numbers stopped coming after a time. They did not retreat, they just ran out of men. There was no tactics after that - no clever tricks, and not even any formations. It was as if the brain behind the army had vanished. Could we have killed the black mouse and not known it? Could the ants have devoured him with the others? I seriously doubt it.
If he is not here, then there is only one other place he could be. But there is nothing we can do for Squibble now. I pray the elite legion is up to the task. It pleases me to think that the enemy might be facing the rat twins at this very moment.
Border skirmishes continue in several places. My father has his sword back, and he goes to and fro upon his third mount, giving orders and reassuring the troops.
What troops we have left.
It is dawn of the Seventh day, and viciously cold. Our only defense lies in the reinforced doors the human had built us. We are out of arrows. We have mostly run out of swords. The fighting is now hand to hand. Stompy doesn't mind, and her tireless pummeling has taken a deep gouge out of the enemy. My daughter is grace in fluid motion, her strokes more perfect than mine even when she is tired. She alone has not one mark on her. She is built like me - slim and squibby. Dodging for her is effortless. Ghost uses two blades, and when they broke, he took up two toothpicks. Disliking those, he took up the nearest items - two matches. Shiva laughed at that, and lit them for him. He had been using the box of them ever since, careful not to light anything vital on fire. He fights on the kitchen counter. Even One-Ear has been doing well, defending those who fall in battle, dragging them back to the medics. He seems to have redeemed himself.
But the seventh day, the last day, was when everything went wrong.