Garkhen would not have thought he could have been more fatigued than he had been the past weeks, but he discovered quickly he was wrong. The Mage-Commander drilled him and the other wizards and priests as hard as any drill sergeant, and Garkhen’s duties as a healer were in no way lightened to make up for it. He could barely drag himself to his quarters each evening, and sometimes found that he hadn’t entirely made his way to his cot when he awoke in the morning.
Somehow, he continued on, drawing on reserves of energy and resolve he didn’t know he had. He could tell the strain was wearing on the others, as well. Fortunately, they did not have long to wait—the date set for their attempt was only a week after they had begun their training.
That day, Garkhen received orders to conserve his energy, and to retire to his quarters early. They would work their ritual in the dark of night, and could afford no mistakes from fatigue. Despite his considerable anxiety, Garkhen was exhausted enough to fall asleep as soon as Lt. Ailill gave him leave to retire to his quarters.
A knock at his door awoke him. It took Garkhen only a moment to awaken and remember what this meant. He arose quickly, speaking the command for his armor, and emerged to see another Private waiting to guide him. The soldier led Garkhen down to the riverside, where the other spell-workers were gathering. They were just out of sight of the other bank, one half-ruined warehouse between them and the water. Once they were all assembled, a few of their number worked spells of concealment, and they quietly walked out to the edge of the river.
The ritual itself was lengthy, with all of them working arcane magics or calling upon their gods for aid in an odd sort of harmony. Garkhen himself was… uncertain if Bahamut truly wished to aid in this, but he knew not what else he was to do, no better way to aid in ending this terrible war. And so, he raised his voice with the others, noting only subconsciously the odd muffling of the sound caused by their concealing magics. He focused entirely on his part of the ritual, feeling the energies wash through him into the pattern of the spell.
Finally, it was done. Garkhen looked about him, and saw that some of the others had collapsed. He himself felt weary, but not to the point of unconsciousness. But what concerned him more was the seeming lack of result from their efforts—there was not so much as a slight bulge in the river.
No sooner had this thought entered his mind than he heard a low rumbling, soon followed by a large bulge in the midst of the river’s flow. Soon, a wall emerged, entirely blocking it. Not long after he could hear the sounds of water rushing over the opposite bank, followed by distant shouts as the Rebel forces began to awaken to this sudden, unexpected threat.
The Ferdunan forces were prepared, however. Already Garkhen could hear the fighting on the bridge intensifying, and he suspected there were other plans already in play.
“Can you march, Private?” Garkhen started slightly at Lt. Ailill’s voice.
He turned to face his superior. “Yes, sir.”
“We’ll be needed shortly. Come.”
The next hour was a blur to Garkhen. Somehow they were across the bridge, and there was word that their forces had driven the Rebels entirely beyond the walls. At some point their dam had collapsed, as planned, and so the water was receding from the city and the plains beyond. Garkhen had somehow kept up with Ailill, but in truth, he was feeling more weary every minute.
Then there was a change. Whispers ran through the soldiers around him like wind through grass. The soldiers who had reached the wall had seen something—another army, coming from the west. Their victory might well be short-lived.
Don’t think I mentioned that Garkhen had gotten his own room. It’s small and simple, but he did. The mass evacuation of the city left a lot of empty rooms, and healers, even if they’re just privates, are valuable enough to get one.
But oh, look, it’s a cliffhanger! New chapter starts next week.