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A Knights Pep-Talk

"Remember Brom it is not the strength of your sword arm that shall win the day, but the strength of the heart that will bring victory." I remember my old masters words clearly, in every day I live his words resonate within my mind. Even after he had passed his teachings never left.

My name is Brom, I was trained under Master Ulric who was a master of the sword and general for the armies of Castle Rose.

I had spent years under his tutelage. Every bruise, every injury and loss of blood had made me into the warrior I am today. Even now as the world has delved into war I stand strong with my masters teachings.

Me and my men were stationed at Fort Blackwater, a position the king wanted to be defended at all costs due to its strategic positioning and close proximity to a forest with bountiful harvests. I was positioned captain over it all, as of late it had been slow and not much action had been seen yet, though that was more worrying then it was relieving.

Fort Blackwater was fashioned into that of a large rectangle, each corner held a tower for archers and the walls made of stone were quite hard to penetrate whether by catapult or war machine. Even if the walls were broken down the inside held another wall, that way anyone left standing could evacuate to its inner sanctum and continue the fight from a more enclosed space. Our archers were on watch, patrolmen walked the walls and the areas outside the fort while still remaining close if attacked for a quick retreat.

"Captain what do you think of our chances if The Oni arrive?" One knight asked, the Oni were an old clan of forest dwellers that as of three years ago had come out of hiding. They had more primitive weapons then we but their battle tactics and beasts made them fearsome foes, almost like a Hydra the more we killed even more came in their place. "If the walls remain strong our archers can fend them off, if all goes well their beasts won't be able to climb our walls. We have a special plan in place." I responded, as night began to fall it seemed we would see if the plan worked.

As the sun dropped lower and lower down beyond the horizon the men began to get restless, we had heard word of a group of Oni coming towards our direction but we had not seen a single feather nor hide of these enemies.

Soon though an attack began, the Oni came out like locusts from the north forest, many riding on the backs of large bear like animals as they charged forth. The others ran like demons to the fort wielding wooden spears, stone hammers, strangely made swords and stone-throwers. They wore pelts of beasts to hide their faces, feathers and bones, each one more decorated then the last. When Master Ulric had spoken of them he informed me that the Oni had a belief in strength, the more kills and power the Oni had the more they would be dressed like the beasts they rode.

The Oni's attack began with their stone-throwers, while not as accurate as an archer they could do significantly greater damage once struck. They archers had to remain hidden as a barrage of stones pelted the fort, those wielding swords had to either duck behind cover or use their shields to help protect themselves from the onslaught. "Prepare the walls!" I ordered out, the men began to carry barrels of a mixture between oil and water to the walls. Other knights used their shields to help cover them as they advanced to the walls, once there they tipped the barrels over the walls edge soaking large portions of the stone in the mixed liquid. "Archers ready your arrows!" I continued to order, a battalion were stationed down below in front of the two large wooden doors that was the entrance in case the Oni somehow managed to bust down the doors.

On my command the archers notched their arrows, with a point of my hand they let loose a barrage of their own projectiles and in the process hit many of the incoming Oni. Screams and howling filled the night air and even with many torches lit around the fort, seeing any of them was a bit difficult to do.

The Oni's beasts could not climb our walls due to the liquid, once it was set on fire it burned several of the beasts causing them to retreat. The Oni may have been more savage then we but they were not dumb, seeing the wall they could not climb and the heavily barred door they created a counter offense. Splitting their main force into two, sending one to the south side while the north group continued their attacks with stones. "Captain Brom they have split, the south wall has no oil mixture on its walls." A soldier informed me, the Oni had us outnumbered and if counting the beasts they had us outgunned as well. "Send the battalion south, we must keep the doors barred so have the men ready with spears and use the Shield Wall to keep the beasts at bay." I commanded, there was a reason I was asked to be the Captain for this mission, not only due to Master Ulric training me but my strategic planning as well.

The battalion headed south and not a moment too soon, The Oni had traversed the walls using their beasts and its sharp claws. The battalion stood at the read, a wall of large and thick shields for protection and spears facing outwards for a moving offensive but defensive coordination.

While the battalion attacked the beasts in the south me and the rest of my men held up the front, we suffered a few casualties and those injured were sent into the inner walls to be treated by our doctors. "Aim for the heavily cloaked ones! Take out their strongest fighters and they will retreat!" I ordered, eventually some beasts from the south snuck past my men and began attacking those in the east wall, taking three men with me I went to face the beasts, keeping my most trusted man in command with my absence.

I had seen these beasts before, we had no names for them but some had taken to calling them Shadow Beasts due to their dark fur. Up close they were much bigger then I had imagined, their stature when standing was bigger then that if any man, standing almost ten feet tall. Even when on their fours these creatures could still tower over most men. "Watch their claws and attack from the sides! They cannot turn as quickly as they can move forward!" I issued the command and led my men to battle. The beasts were strong but they lacked speed, ducking under a massive paw before moving to its side and using my shield to block the riders spear, plunging my sword deep into the creatures side before pulling blade out and severing the riders head from its body, even without a rider the beast lunged at me, I tripped backwards falling onto my back and only managing to barely get my shield in the wall of the creatures large gnashing teeth. Its strength bared down onto me, my arms quickly losing the battle of holding the creature back. Thankfully for myself a soldier had climbed the beast, plunging his spear down into the creatures neck and killing it.

"Thank you so much.." I uttered out, a little in shock of my almost premature death.

Blood stained my clothes not, a nasty greenish red color from these unnatural creatures. Picking up arms once again I ran with my men, fighting in unison. One blocked as the other struck a blow, reversing the rolls while fighting ever so fiercely. It felt as if the battle had gone on for hours, as the sun rose our question was answered and we now knew it had indeed been hours.

As the sun rose into the sky the Oni let out shrieks, the sun did not injure them but it agitated them to a great degree. You could almost say they were nocturnal.

Several of my men lay dead or injured, but the Oni had suffered far more casualties then we.That was just the bonus. As the sun rose the Oni retreated back into the woods, those that were dead were not so lucky. Obviously.

Fort Blackwater had been kept, I myself was injured in the battle but nothing too serious. Though I wish I could have said the same for so many others.

As the dead were buried, the injured taken care of, I sent word to the king of our victory. It took a few weeks before I received a letter, though reading what was wrote I could only smile.

"Dear Brom of Red-Rock I am pleased to hear of your victory at Fort Blackwater, I have already sent out condolences to many families for those men who were unable to make it. Your teacher, Master Ulric, he would be proud. You had fought against harsh odds, many of my generals might have not been able to succeed as you have. Once healed please return to The Crimson Castle, as well as your men. We shall be sending down a few battalions to guard the fort while you and your men are treated to fine rewards.

Signed, King Boramir."

I rolled the letter up and placed it into my pocket, I stood and watched as the sun began to set. That was not the first battle I have fought, but with my masters teaching, it will not be the last.