An arrow glanced off of Ledram’s shield, snapping in two as it struck the scarred surface. Another flew past his head, while a third impacted the dirt to his right.
Ledram peeked over the rim of his shield. The distance was closing rapidly, a line of Telucian rebels arrayed before the sellsword. Glancing to his right he spotted Isaac, who strode forward undaunted, and Tors. Tors had adopted a tactic much like Led’s, hidden behind his sturdy shield as he advanced. Close behind him were two more Anwexian mercenaries, much more reckless in their attempts to get to grips with the foe.
Behind them marched the rest of the mercenary army. Broad shouldered northerners, pale islanders and dark-haired Telucians charged forward, any previous prejudices lost in the clamour of battle.
An army at his back, Ledram turned to face the rebels. Drawing himself from his protective huddle he barged forward, his sword held high. Isaac and the others followed suit, matching Led’s pace.
The rebels wavered for a moment before planting their spears into the pale sand, presenting a bristling wall to the sellsword. The rain of arrows had ceased, those on the roofs more concerned with the advancing army than the few mercenaries at their doors.
With all his weight pressed into his shield Ledram caught the head of the nearest spear. Twisting his arm he knocked it out of his path before skewering the sorry sod who brandished it. He dropped silently as Ledram pulled his blade free, his blood soaked up by his tunic.
Even before the first man hit the ground Led was upon the second, sweeping his blade to the left, under his shield. He slashed through the side of the second spearman before he could bring his weapon to bear, and he crumpled to the ground.
To Led’s right Isaac had despatched another two rebels, their weapons useless against his armour. Beside him Tors had taken the hand off of an aged Telucian, who cried as he sunk to the sand.
The rest of Isaac’s company pressed into the gap between houses, driving the assembled rebels back with sword and shield. Ledram had felled another foe, this one bearing a curved sabre and buckler. His strikes were slow, and Led despatched him with a stab through the chest. He stepped over the prone corpse, ready to take on another foe.
None presented themselves, however. Led had reached the centre of the village, and now stood a few feet away from the rancid oasis that anchored the rest of the houses. He scanned the sandy streets to his left.
The press of mercenaries had overwhelmed the Telucian rebels, hordes of northerners and Anwexians pushing the outmatched defenders past the wall of homes. Those on the roofs had abandoned their elevated position, their quivers empty, and joined their brethren on the streets.
But it seemed the rebels had given as good as they got. Mercenaries, both injured and slain, were piled next to the defenders. Of particular note was the hulking northern commander, skewered by no fewer than three spears. He was slumped forward, surrounded by a half dozen Telucian dead.
As Ledram surveyed the field he heard a shrill whistle behind him. Before he could turn a mighty impact hammered his right shoulder-blade, staggering him. Steel bit into flesh as the projectile pierced his chainmail coat, stopping as it struck bone.
Crying out, Ledram regained his footing, and turned to face the unseen assailant.
A Telucian rebel, clad in patched scale armour and bearing a wicked sabre, charged Led. At his side rattled an empty quiver, his last arrow now lodged in the islander’s back.
Led lowered his stance, wincing as the arrow tore through his flesh. He held his shield high, and with great difficulty aimed the point of his blade at the oncoming opponent.
With a bellow the Telucian swung at Led, catching the edge of his shield and nearly toppling him. Led attempted to lunge at the rebel’s exposed side, but his blade met naught but air. The Telucian had sidestepped the blow, and had recovered his sabre in the process.
The rebel made another strike, this one against Ledram’s head. The mercenary’s shield had been knocked away, and it was unlikely he could raise it in time. His options limited, Led stepped back, attempting to dodge the blow.
He was not fast enough. The tip of the sabre met Ledram’s face, just below his left temple. The honed edge bit into his skull, slicing through his eye and splitting the bridge of his nose.
Silently Led fell, the arrow in his back snapping in the process. Half of his world had gone dark, and he felt blood ooze down his face. He was in agony, but found himself unable to cry out.
The Telucian rebel stepped over his fallen opponent, levelling a challenge at some unseen adversary. Led tried to rise, to take the head off the bastard that had ambushed him. But every move was tortuous.
Overwhelmed by pain, he blacked out.