In the Greening of 624, Wildlings infiltrated Fastheld from beyond the Aegis and launched a surprise attack on the township of Hawk's Aerie and the keep of Aerie Heights...

Aerie Heights Keep Great Hall

The largest room of the keep, it is big enough to be warmed by two hearths spaced down its length. The raw stone walls of the keep are here covered by large parti-colored fabric hangings with the exception of behind the dais at the far end, there the wall is hung with a large tapestry showing a tournament scene from Fastheld's far past. The ceiling is as high as two men at the sides, sloping up to an apex far above in shadow. The whole of it is held up by large biinwoood beams, dark now with the smoke of many winters.
Along the sides of the hall a few biinwood benches and chairs are arranged for the convenience of members of the court as well as those who seek audience with the Baronial Court. The dais at the high end of the hall is polished wood platform, raised a foot off the floor. Here are two ornate chairs for the Baron and Baroness, and here is where the public business of Barony takes place.

Arturo Lomasa comes rushing into the room from the much for a quiet evening's dinner. As he moves, silver chainmail clanking against his legs, he withdraws the ancient axe from his side, looking around for someone who seems to know what they're doing. "Who shouted of wildlings? Where and how many?"

Servants are hastily putting up chairs, tables and whatever else they can to block the doors to keep Wildlings from smashing through and breaching the keep.

Elias glances up from the barricade building as the loud nobleman enters. He shrugs his shoulders at the man, his deferential attitude mostly lost in the intensity of the moment. "I only heard the yell from outside", he calls, nodding his head towards the makeshift barricade, "I have no idea how many." He pauses to listen as another yell is heard, then turns back to barricade construction, grabbing a nearby shardwood bench and sliding it towards the doors.

One of the vassals is shoving a chair into place when a three-clawed fist smashes through the door and snatches hold of his arm. The claws sever his right arm at the wrist. He shrieks in agony and falls, blood spurting from the stump.

Arturo Lomasa nods to Elias, gaze turning to take in the preparations, looking for any weak points. He motions to grab the attention of a bustling servant, directing. "Put fresh wood in the hearths....see the flame stays hot. Let's not have Shadowspawn crawling down the chimneys." He turns at the shriek of the fallen vassal, and rushes towards the fallen man, calling. "Healer to the doorway! Ashwood, answer it back!" One of the three archers near the door to the study puts an arrow to his bow, and attempts to send the oaken shaft through the hole the wildling punched.

The archer looses his shot, and the arrow impale's the Wildling's hand, pinning it against this side of the door and causing the creature to shriek and hiss furiously.

From Aerie Heights Keep Study, Norran Lomasa yells, "Guards from your chambers! Move quickly, full arms!"

Elias leaps back from the barricade as a nearby servant is attacked through a hole. His eyes dart furtively about the room, perhaps looking for a good hiding spot. As the archer pins the Wilding's arm to the doorway he pauses to consider the farm implements he is carrying with him. After a moment, he adds the hoe to the barricade, weaving it between the legs of a couple of benches to help strengthen them, then steps further away from the barricade with his shovel in hand. He licks his lips nervously with his tongue and settles in to wait for the worst.

Arturo Lomasa glances over his shoulder at Norran's yell, pausing long enough to yell back before beginning to issue commands to those around him. "Armed men to the door, women and children deep into the hall. Watch those windows! Lomasa to me, Nillu to Norran. For the Light!" Gathering a portion of the footmen to him, he awaits the wildling assault, head tucked to keep his helmet guards close against his shoulders.

After a few minutes, a servant is kneeling to stack wood in the fireplace. He's busily arranging shardwood logs when a pair of clawed, blotchy-skinned hands reach down and snatch him by the neck. He's dragged, shouting and crying out in horror, as he's drawn up the flue.

Arturo Lomasa yells, "We've got them coming in the front, Norran! Blast it, they're coming down the chimney too!"

A door opens to the scullery, reacting to the shouting out in the hall without actually hearing it. A plump woman in flour-caked skirts bustles out, her head low and respectful, but a canny eye keeping watch. Elseve straightens as some of the shouting becomes understandable. "Oh! Oh, oh my..."

Wheezing intakes of breath are drawn in as Sophia frantically tries to breath. Her lungs begin to burn with the strain of her flight from Wildings. The Contessa makes no more to complain; instead she bears down struggling to get oxygen into her lungs.

Now that basically everyhing movable in the room has been added to the barricade, Elias begins to slowly edge away from both the doorway and the open chimneys, shovel in hand.

Emerging quickly from the study comes 4 nobles, one of which being Norran Lomasa. He is dressed pretty normally, except for the silver cuirass strapped securely over his torso. He bears the bronze longsword of an Imperial Horseman in his hands. Flanking him are two guards, bearing chainmail and shortswords.

Varal Mikin takes more of Sophia's weight on his shoulders for the last hurrah, setting her down once he finds an acceptable place. "Stay with the Contessa, Duchess," he says in a firm voice. He takes a moment's pause to catch his breath, his parrying knife appearing back in his off-hand. In his right hand is an oversized obsidian longsword. His eyes flick around, looking for the signs of Wildlings.

Arturo Lomasa is standing before the door with six of his men, axes drawn all, in full armor. Three archers remain near the study, covering the doorway. Guards are presently dividing on Arturo's order, those in Damiante's Nillu livery moving towards the study, while those in Warlan's Lomasa livery move towards the door. Servants move here and there, towards wherever they're told, or wherever they tell themselves, depending on the panic level.

Other Wildlings outside the door yank the wounded one, shredding its hand as they pull it free of the arrow. The unwounded Wildlings then begin slamming against the doors, jarring the furnishings barricaded against it.

Merielle Mikin nods her head, taking a step in front of her daughter in a protective gesture, her eyes narrowed as she looks around her, though looking rather helpless at the same time, as well as quite flustered, and frightened.

Shredded, bloody clothing spills down the flue, falling in a crimson-slicked heap on the firewood stacked in the fireplace.

"Lomassas! Hold the door, I'll take the chimney!" Varal shouts. "If I need help, I'll shout," he adds as an afterthought, stalking in that direction, weapons in hand.

Norran Lomasa takes up a defensive position near Arturo, his own guards joining his cousin's. As Varal heads toward the chimney he yells, "Can you light the wood in there? That should scare the shadow-cursed out!"

The rotund woman by the scullery seems to have her wits about her more than some of the other servants, stepping out of the way as some try to force their way through the door into the scullery and clog the opening with the press of their own bodies. "Now...ohhh!" Elseve's chiding is cut off into a frightened whimper, however, as the bloody remains fall down the flue. "There's fire in the kitchen!" She calls in a quavering voice, responding.

Merielle Mikin stands silently in front of Sophia, who is out from the fear, or lack of oxygen. She tucks a blanket around her more securely, her arms arms at her sides.

Elias glances towards Norran, then towards the nearest fireplace. Whether he's paralyzed by fear, or just indecision is difficult to tell, but for the moment he keeps his distance from the entrances to the room, clutching the shovel in his hands as though it were the most precious thing he owns.

The Wildlings outside the door drop back for now. But one can still be heard scrabbling down the flue.

Arturo Lomasa glances to Norran, calling to Varal after his cousin speaks. "That one was trying to do it when he was grabbed. Mind..." He pauses, cutting off his thoughts, and looks to Elseve as she speaks. "Bring the archers a bit of fire, they can light the logs with an arrow. Ashwood, see if you can get a target!" The last is directed to the same archer that pinned the wildling's hand, who now moves to kneel and sight on the hole left by the wildling's claw. If he can catch sight of a green body, he'll let another shaft fly, trying to strike through the hole. As the wildlings start to back off, he looks to Norran again. "What now, cousin?"

Varal Mikin's head turns just long enough to shout, "Fetch it!" at Elseve, standing tensely, ready for action, in front of the flue. Then he nods at Arturo's suggestion. "I'll just make sure that if it comes down prior, it has something to deal with," he suggests. "But be quick about it. Imagine what they're doing to the township."

Ashwood's arrow doesn't strike a target. Instead, it thunks into the wood above the hole in the door. And that's when a burning lantern is smashed through the hole, spilling burning oil on all the nice wooden furniture propped against the doors.

"There's a Blades Garrison directly to the south, They've definitely taken notice by now! For now, formation circle! Non-combatants on the inside, guards, form an exterior perimeter!" Norran barks aloud in command, moving in the formation near Varal. At the fire, he frowns terribly. "By the Light! They better get here soon!" calls Norran as he hefts the longsword deftly in his hands, glancing quickly throughout the hall.

Elseve curtseys, such ingrained habits of a servant of the keep even more impossible to ignore while she's trying to keep her wits about her. The ungainly looking woman turns about, slapping the shoulder of a scullery maid crouched in the doorway with her small wooden spoon so she can retreat properly to the kitchens. "Fire... fire," the chatelaine repeats to herself mneumonically, not realizing she's spreading a warning of the new conflagration behind her.

Merielle Mikin's position doesn't change, though she steps back slightly at the flames, tugging Sophia's chair a little bit to better protect the girl.

Elias nods his head curtly towards the Noblemen, his own servantly obesience shattered by the tense circumstances. As he lets the guardsmen move between himself and the barricade his expression is caught somewhere between the tired smile of a man whose life has been spared, and the frustated frown of an independent person forced by situations to rely on others. He grits his teeth as he looks about the room and hefts his shovel a little more confidently.

Arturo Lomasa bobs his head to Norran's orders, moving to take up a position a little down the line from his cousin. "Archers to the middle...position to fire through the ranks. Any man not a guard with a weapon to hand mingle with the archers....for our three houses and the Light!" He grips the mass of Humlek's Hand, crouching his towering form slightly and rolling his shoulders as he prepares for the assault.

Varal Mikin spins his longsword in his hand, licking his lips as he watches the chimney. "Come down, shadowspawn. Let us dance. I'll show you the Light," he mutters under his breath. "My blade thirsts for tainted blood."

Two Wildlings drop in through the chimney flue, dropping into a crouch and snarling at the people gathered in the main hall.

Flames crackle and smoke billows as the furniture stacked against the doors begins to burn exuberantly. The fire quickly spreads to the damaged door where the Wildling punched through.

"Enemy at the flue!" cries Norran, taking a supportive position at Varal's flank as he holds his longsword in a defensive stance, glaring at the beasts. "By the Light..." He speaks breathlessly, stance firm.

There is a slight delay, with respect to the fast pace of shouted orders and knocked arrows, before anyone else passes through the low scullery door. Those servants who fled already are through, and those still remaining are gathered by the archers as ordered. Except one focused chatelaine, who bustles back out from the safety of her domain with a pot in the crook of one arm, and a small firebrand in the other. The pot is smoking - apparently Miss Elseve's solution to bringing some of her hearthfire out as ordered. Her head is lowered somewhat, as politely as the smoke will allow. "I brought the fire, m'lord!" She calls, not noticing that already burning by the door.

Damiante, having heard shouts, emerges from the Study, hesistates and surveys the room.

Merielle Mikin is standing, protecting her daughter, who has fainted in a chair. She stands in front of her, trembling slightly, though still determined.

Elias frown as the Wildling beats drop down the chimney and takes half a step towards the fireplace, raising his shovel as he moves. He stops after that half step however, his good judgement getting the better of him perhaps as he steps back to allow the men with actual weapons to do the fighting.

Arturo Lomasa nods as Norran moves, glancing to Elseve. "Ashwood, dip an arrow and light those fires. The Lords Captain can drive the beasts back into it." He blinks as Damiante comes out, and glances to one of the nearest guards. "Sergeant, get the Baroness to the center! Archers, let fly when you see green; they'll be coming in any moment."

Ashwood nods to Elseve as he dips the pitch-tipped arrow in the flame. Then he nocks the arrow, draws back and fires it into the fireplace, igniting the wood.

A feral grin spreads across Varal's face as the Wildlings appear in front of him. He crouches slightly, watching them a moment before going forward, swinging heavily with his oversized obsidian longsword.

Norran swiftly moves to support Varal, his bronze longsword raised as he charges forth at the other Wildling, moving to slash at the beast.

Elseve shifts the pot full of flame and embers, allowing the archer easy access to it. As the scene around her - swords and burning furniture and green-skinned monsters - penetrates her tunnel vision, the womans thick legs begin to quiver slightly in fear. "...I left something out in the storeroom," she whimpers softly.

One Wildling lunges toward Norran, claws flashing, hissing viciously. The Lomasa swordsman swings deftly, but the creature ducks and keeps on coming. Varal has more luck. His Wildling ducks the first swing from the left, but then is caught by the arcing weapon that swings from the right. The Wildling's head is separated from its body.

Damiante squats as low as her skirts will allow her, and scurries to the safety of the circle. Behind her flood 25 of her personal guard, taking up positions to fortify the circle and protect the noble warriors. 4 guards each come to flanking positions around Varal, Norran and Arturo, swords in the ready.

Merielle Mikin doesn't step away from her daughter, but gives a tight nod in greeting to Dami, "What in the name of the Light has happened?" she asks softly, her voice hoarse.

Elias chuckles softly to himself as the Mikin nobleman decapitates one of the Wildings. A grin touches his face for an instant and the tension in his shoulders eases, but he still keeps his shovel up and ready, just in case he needs to bash something.

The fire at the front doors continues to spread, consuming the wood of the furniture, the doors.

"Well swung, Lord Mikin. Watch him, Norran!" calls Arturo, flexing his grip on Humlek's Hand. "Come on, burn....enough waiting, beasts." mutters the Baron, watching the doorway for the first wildlings through. "Front rank, sound off 1 and 2. Ones be ready for a counter-charge, twos be ready to close up ranks. Protect the women and children."

"By the Light," Varal roars as he decapitates the first wildling with his swing, his eyes shining. "You will not live to see the sun rise," he hisses at the second green creature, swinging his longsword heavily downwards while his parry knife is ready to stop any Wildling's claws with an added bite.

"Arturo, take command of the force, and charge down the door when it's weak enough! This keep will not fall!" yells Norran while his initial strike misses, and noticing Varal attacking the next creature, he moves to circle 'round the beast and attack from the flank, his bronze longsword swinging powerfully in a diagonal slash.

The second Wildling is first decapitated by Varal, and then sliced diagonally from lower left to upper right by Norran. The dismembered creature falls in two halves and a head on the stone floor.

The front doors of Aerie Heights Keep burn exuberantly, along with the stack of furnishings and the severed arm of one of the servants, who's been dragged off to be treated for his grievous wound. The carcasses of two dead Wildlings are on the floor in front of the fireplace. Varal and Norran are facing them. Arturo and his crew, along with Elias, are facing the burning doors. Merielle and Sophia are huddled near the study, caught between the men making their stand. And, suddenly: CRASH! The Wildling impaled by an arrow earlier is hurled through the fire-weakened doors, and comes down in a hissing, flaming crouch near one of Arturo's men. Bits of fiery wood fly in all directions.

The flaming bits of door singe Varal and Norran as they're turning toward the commotion. Arturo tries to fend off a fiery projectile, but burns his hand. Sophia, helpless, is burned on her cheek. Elias just barely ducks aside as some of the burning debris whistles past his face - so close he can feel the heat. But one of Arturo Lomasa's hirelings fares worst of all: He takes a couple of burning splinters in his eyes. Thus blinded, he can do nothing as the Wildling shreds his belly with snik-snakking claws from both hands, hissing and smoldering. The retainer gapes and collapses on the floor. And through the wreckage of the doorway, more than two dozen other Wildlings can be seen, moving closer, tentative because of the fire - but closer.

Arturo Lomasa ducks his head and lifts a gauntleted hand from his blade as the flaming bits shower the area. He hisses and shakes the hand violently as a bit of flaming wood drapes itself around the gauntlet, shaking it free but not before the silver glows with the heat that sears his hand within. "Blast it..." His concern for his own pain is diverted however by the cries of his blinded soldier, and he grits his teeth as he grips his blade anew. Too late to do anything for the luckless man, save to whirl and bring the blade in a eliptical arc towards the Wildling, seeking to behead it with a blow, the curve chosen to account for the peculiar bent blades of Humlek's Hand. Meanwhile, the three archers avoid the falling bits, and three oak shafts hiss through the air in the direction of the wildlings.

Varal Mikin grunts as he is burned, fumbling with the clasp of his cloak and letting it slide from his shoulders. He turns around, pausing just long enough to shout an order at Elias, "Keep the fire burning." WIth unhurried steps, he moves away from the fireplace and towards the two dozen new foes, stopping between them and Sophia. "Contessa, is M'lady alright?" he asks in a harsh tone over his shoulder, adrenaline pumping through his system. He grips his weapons tightly, ready to charge or receive a charge once he ensures that the heiress to Light's Reach is safe.

The Wildling that killed the retainer turns and is about to lunge at one of the other hirelings when the whistling finality of Humlek's Hand - the ancestral axe wielded by Arturo Lomasa - cuts through the creature's neck. Head separated from body, the two parts collapse in a smoking ruin on the floor as the arrows are loosed through the burning doorway. Two arrows find their marks, felling their targets. But a third Wildling evades the shot.

The Lomasa Captain winces at the singe, keeping a firm grip on his longsword as he takes the heat. "All men but my two guards, form a defensive line at the door. Single line before the archers, swords ready!" he yells, moving quickly toward Sophia with a worried look. "Are you alright, Sophia? I must join the fray. I'll leave my two personal guards to stay with you incase there is failure or incursion from another side," whispers Norran quickly, as two guards in chainmail take position by Norran. He utters a few words to them as they take position near Sophia, and Norran smiles grimly at her. "Light be with you, Sophia," he answers, then rushes toward Arturo to join the line with his family and their guard.

Elias glances towards the Captain for instant after ducking the flaming embers. He frowns slightly and glances towards well lit fireplaces. Then with a silent shake of his head he reaches up from one hand to pull his hood up, and takes a step away from the centre of the room towards a darker corner. His dark eyes play across the entrance and the wildlings gathering outside, while his hands tighten on his shovel.

Sophia Mikin huddles in closely beside her mother near the study. Trying to suppress the violent compulsion to cough, Sophia covers her mouth without success. Between the coughing and terror, Sophia adrenalin pulsates through her body giving her an inner strength despite the fragility of her current state of health. The Contessa's crystal blue eyes radiates with terror as she watches the scene unfold with an expression of utter horror and dismay. Blood and the smell of burnt flesh filters through the air around only increases the panic state of anxiety Sophia is feeling. An imploring look of helplessness is directed towards Varal at the same time a shower of fiery wood propels crimson hot shards crashing in her direction, the results searing the side of the young Contessa's cheek. A loud shriek of agony resonates throughout the room as Sophia screams. Her eyes flash to Varal where she merely nods calling out to the Guardian of Light's Reach. "Go Varal we are alright." She tries to convince herself more than Varal. "We am fine.." Sophia's gaze flashes up to Norran and with a quick intake of a breath she replies with a facade of bravery. "Light Protect you and everyone. your duty...Hurry!" This is said as her hand tenderly seeks out and covers her burnt cheek.

Merielle Mikin wraps her arms around Sophia, hugging her daughter in a protective manner, her eyes focusing on the two Lord Captains as they glance in their direction. "Are you alright, Sophie?" she asks softly, worry tinging her voice.

The Wildlings outside the keep watch almost clinically as the humans inside maneuver and position, preparing for the onslaught. For now, however, they break into two groups and move off out of view on either side of the doorway. The flames continue to crackle as wood is consumed and smoke billows.

Arturo Lomasa turns his gaze back to the doorway as the ancient axe drips fresh blood, bringing the weapon back to a ready position before him. Sophia's shriek draws his eyes that way, but finding no wildlings in view he turns gaze to his fallen man, shaking his head a moment. "Light protect us..." he murmurs softly, then lifts his head as Norran shifts the troops. His own voice comes quiet but firm. "River Turn, flying wedge. Archers in the center. Be ready for any breakthroughs." The five surviving axemen shift position to comply, forming a second rank behind the long line of Nillu-liveried guards that hold the fore. Arturo himself remains in the main line, leaning to try to get a view. "Now what are they up to?" A glance over his shoulder. "Healers to the wounded, and clean out the scullery for knives. Every vassal armed as possible. Just in case."

Varal Mikin shudders as he hears Sophia scream, turning around with his eyes wide. At her order to continue forwards, he does so by instinct alone, nodding swiftly. His mouth forms into a harsh grimace and his hands tighten, the knuckles turning white. As the wildlings move he growls in the back of his throat. "They may be looking for other ways in - keep your eyes open," the Mikin advises, slowly moving forward.

"Cousin! Have a man light the other hearth! They might be trying to get in through the fireplaces again. There are too many riddled throughout the Keep, though, so we must form a perimeter. They could come from /anywhere/," warns Norran as he takes place near his cousin. As the guards complete the line, he yells again. "Create a lighter circle around he servants again. Half keep forward position, half reform the perimeter! Watch /all/ points of entry, especially that door! Don't get too close!" Norran keeps a steady eye around the hall, sword held firmly in his hands as he gazes quickly about the hall.

As the Wildlings begin to move away from the door, Elias glances back towards the fireplaces, ensuring that the fires there are still burning merrily. A faint smile appears on his mostly hooded face for a moment as he slips further into the shadows, doing his best to disappear from view.

The burning, searing, throbbing pain of Sophia's injured cheek swells turning into a large ugly welt across the side of her face. Though the pain is severe in intensity, Sophia manages only to flinch as she bravely holds in the temptation to scream at the top of her lungs staring wildly in the direction of the ensuing chaos frantically holding on to her mother for support.

Merielle Mikin hugs Sophia tightly, tears forming as she sees the horrible welt beginning to rise. "Do not fear, Sophie," she says softly. "As soon as this is over, Rowena will prepare for you a wonderful salve to help heal the burn," she nods her head, sounding sure of this.

Having withdrawn to a place near Merielle and Sophia, Damiante stands firm before them, eyes scanning the room for 'ling movement and shouting to unarmed staff maintain the fires and comb the rest of the keep to be sure

Having withdrawn to a place near Merielle and Sophia, Damiante stands firm before them, eyes scanning the room for 'ling movement and shouting to unarmed staff "Maintain the fires and comb the rest of the keep to keep the places HOT! Brenna! Take the heirs to the Deep Keep, quickly!" Her dress is scorched and torn from embers she has dodged. "Follow the Lord Captain's Commands!"

The fire's not burning quite as bright in the doorway, but things to burn seem to be in short supply in the great hall. The thrones remain, and there may be other furniture elsewhere in the keep. But if the fire doesn't get replenished soon, it's likely to dwindle enough for the Wildlings to make their next move.

Arturo Lomasa nods to one of his archers as Norran gives direction, who lights another arrow with pitch from Elseve's bowl of embers, and sends the arrow into the second hearth to be sure it's burning well. He turns attention then to Norran and Varal. "We must plan before the fire burns down. We can pile on what wood we have....or we can let it burn down and take them as they come in. It will be a close pressed thing. I'm for letting it burn down....there's still those outside we need to reach. If I may suggest, cousin, perhaps you should take one line and the Lord Mikin take the other. River Turn will support where it's hottest. My men are cavalry....they're used to moving with the battle more than Keep guards."

Varal Mikin moves to form part of the circle of defenders, his eyes looking for any sign of the creatures. He scowls as he head swivels back and forth. As Arturo speak, he nods. "Of course, M'lord. I agree. Perhaps I should take the main entrance?"

"A defensive battle is the easiest battle to win," Norran utters as he gazes about. "If we charge outside blindly, we will not know what to expect. The shadowspawn could be poised on the roof, ready to rain down upon those who exit. Or, they could be waiting for the fire to die, striking in full force down from both hearths. I vote we remain," Norran nods slowly, glancing momentarily between Varal and Arturo.

Elias remains silent, his dark eyes shifting under his hood from person to person as the Soldiers debate amongst themselves as to the best course of action. As for himself, he concentrates on staying as still as possible, though his grip on the wooden handle of his shovel shifts slightly as he attempts to get a better hold.

Sophia Mikin goes or stays where ever her mother decides to do. If the Countess Mikin has to fight, fight Sophia will. Her blue gaze seeks out frantically for a weapon and seeing the broken leg of a burnt chair, the Heir Apparent of Light's Reach reaches out to grab with her free hand. Her non so perfect health if her enemy presently leaving her in a somewhat weaken state and the burn, the excruciating burn consumes her enter body. "Mother?" Sophia cries out. "What should we do?" The desperation of her voice echos softly with a horrifying realization that the possibilty of dying is very high. Through all the chaos and death Sophia's eyes track Varal, Norran and Arturo praying inwardly nothing befalls the men.

Merielle Mikin presses a firm hand into Sophia's shoulder, keeping the Contessa in her chair, "First, you will remain put. You can barely stand, Sophia, and your trying to fight will do no one any good. At least until you've had a chance to be taught correctly. She shakes her head, frowning. "There is little we can do but place our trust in those around us, and pray to the Light that we will be saved. Perhaps your Father has heard of this by now, and brings some of his men to help us."

Damiante searches the surround also for something to weild. She manages to secure a fire poker in one hand. She grips it as best she can and yells to the men, "Use the thrones if you must! And if you need more, then take a group into the study for furniture. 'Ware the flue!" She swallows, her small frame trembling, but her feet spread apart, blue eyes steely, the womenfolk behind her. She tries not to let herself be overcome with grief for her missing husband and suffering citizen's in Hawk's Aerie. "Light take these Shadows and Preserve us!"

Almost on cue with Damiante's sharp words, a Wildling swings through the hole from above the ruined front door, cutting a clawed, slashing arc through air as it descends on Norran's location.

The vicious Wildling comes down brutally on Norran, catching the swordsman in a green-splotched, threshing tangle, getting him in a hideous hug while shredding the sleeves of his tunic and rending his flesh with poisoned claws. The Wildling then opens its fanged maw and dives for Norran's exposed throat.

Three archers ready as the Wildlings descends...but it's far too quick for them to get a good aim, and they're forced to hold as Norran goes down beneath it, turning their arrow points towards the doorway instead, ready. "Norran!" cries the surprised Baron, before charging towards his cousin's fall, bringing the ancient blade down in a fury, aiming to sever the Wildling's exposed back in two while it's clinging in place.

'Lomassa, take your men and guard that line," Varal hisses at Arturo once said Lomassa runs off to rescue his cousin. The Mikin nervously watches the door in front of him. "Aerie's Guard, stand fast!" he shouts, pointing his sword at the burning door. "We are dead if the shadowspan lure us away and hit our flank."

The Wildling clinging to Norran is just about to chomp into his neck when the blade of Humlek's Hand swishes through the air and then K-CHUNKS through flesh, bone and gangly spine, tearing the creature in half and splashing Norran with gooey green ichor as the beast's remains fall upon him.

Norran reacts in no way to the happenings, covered easily in green ichor as the Wildling buried its poison into the Lomasa's unarmored sides. His silver cuirass gives him no aide as his eyes turn glassy, falling with a *clang* emitting from the armor to the floor on his back. The bronze longsword in his hand is slowly released, also making a sharp clatter as it falls to the floor beside the paralyzed Lomasa.

Elias jumps slightly as the Wildling descends on Norran, and tightens his grip on the haft of the shovel. He nearly takes a step forward, but holds himself in place, waiting for a more fortuitous time to involve himself in the fray.

Sophia Mikin lets out a blood-curdling scream at the sight of the Wilding latched upon Norran's back. Her eyes flash with horror, complete and total horror. Sophia's free hand grabs onto Merielle's sleeve digging her fingers within the fabric her mother's arm as a wave of sickening panic overtakes the Contessa whose compose is barely hanging on. "Norran! Someone help him!" Again Sophia screams. "Oh Light! Oh Light! Poppa where are you!!! Where are the reinforcements??? Where are they!" Sophia cries out in heart retching panic.

Merielle Mikin is forced to step between Norran and Sophia, blocking her daughter's view of the horrific events, hugging her tightly, crooning gently, "Hush, Sophie... Norran will be fine. See there, the Baron Lomasa saved him, and now he just awaits Rowena to help him so he can be much better again."

"NORRAN! NO!" screams Damiante as the wildling attacks. "Mannan! Vens! To the Captain!" She grips her fire poker tightly as Arturo's blow falls. "Quick, Mannan, get him OUT OF THERE!" Mannan and Vens scoop the Captain by the arm pits and quickly drag him to the feet of the Baronnes. "Hold the LINE! Hold the LINE! Look to Arturo, Aerie Heights!" As Norran is unceremoniously dumped at Damiante's feet, she crouches low and begins to tear at her underskirts. "NORRAN! WAKE LAD! Look at me!" she screams, tears running down her face. "You're frightening Sophia." She begins to blot his wounds with trembling hands and the torn cloth from her skirts.

Two more Wildlings come swinging through the hole in the door. The first arcs through the air toward Elias. The other is going toward Arturo's archers.

The first Wildling lands with a threshing fervor on the shovel-wielding Elias, digging its claws into the human and plunging him backward to the floor.

As the second Wildling comes down toward the archers, it is pincushioned with three whickering arrows that impale it in the chest. It comes down with a lifeless WHUMP on the floor.

Arturo Lomasa turns towards the door, looking up to track the progress of the arcing Wildlings....but they're well out of his reach as they pass over, so he moves back to rejoin the line, issuing fresh commands. "First line! Orderly withdrawal, back twenty paces. Make them work harder to reach us! For our houses and the Light!" He looks for someone to aid the downed Elias, but seeing the second line too far away he calls. "River Turn to me!" and moves towards the fallen vassal as the 5 axemen move to back him up. If he can reach the fallen man, it'll be the great axe rising once again, this time aiming for a diagonal cut from shoulder to hip to cleave the Shadowspawn apart.

The Wildling crouched on the wounded Elias leans toward the fallen man as the paralyzing poison begins to creep through his veins, and hisses a whispered, "Shadow...where is she? Where is *she*?" And then come the thundering footsteps of Arturo and his axemen. The creature leaps aside, deftly dodging the ax swing from Humlek's Hand, and then the Wildling pounces in Arturo's direction.

Arturo Lomasa yelps as the Wildling moves his direction, and twists aside from its own leap, trying to position himself before the fallen man. True to their Baron's call, River Turn does indeed come to him....three attacking the wildling while two move to position themselves to cover the Baron and Elias.

The Wildling leaps in the air as the first axeman swings, lands on the heft and kicks the warrior's helmet before the second axeman takes a swing at the creature's legs. The Wildling backflips and somersaults, and is just coming down for a landing when the third axeman decapitates him. The head goes bouncing along the floor, coming to rest next to Sophia and Merielle.

Varal Mikin points to two of the guardsman behind him. "Buy us time. Use the thrones," he says dourly, looking at the diminishing fire. "The rest of you, hold the line. When the thrones are ready, advance. I don't want anyone dragged to the other side. Be *careful*." He takes a step forward, planning on helping with his orders. "Wary," he reminds again, "they may get bored. Wildlings aren't necessarily the most self-preserving breed."

Norran Lomasa doesn't speak very much, meaning he doesn't really speak at all. His eyes remain fixed grimly toward the apex of the ceiling, wounds on his unprotected flanks pouring forth with blood from the slashes. He does, apparently, appear to be alive. The slow rising and falling of his silver cuirass shows breathing, slow, but there. His two guards blink at the misfortune having befallen their long-time master and friend. However, they keep to the rear. At the rolling head, one of the men decides not to let it gaze at the two women as he quickly fetches it and tosses it gently away to the wall.

Elias, his attempts at both stealth and evasion unsuccessful to say the least, lays silently in the shadows, the wildling poison slowly mixing with his blood. His hood has fallen backwards revealing his face, and his deepset eyes move to follow the creature that leapt upon him. He frowns thoughtfully at the Wildlings words but makes no response.

Sophia Mikin drops to her knees beside Norran's unconscious form with all traces of her own pain momentarily swept away. Her eyes scan the Steward's face for any sighs of breathing. Her eyes jet up to Damiante's then Merielle's face as all color fades rapidly from her delicate features. With a cry of despair Sophia's darts about seeking out Varal's whereabouts then seeing the Lord Captain her attention is returned to the fallen Lomasa Lord.

Merielle Mikin rests a hand lightly on Sophia's shoulders, "Sophie, please, sit back down," she says gently. "You are far too weak to be on the floor... Rowena would have my head if she knew..." How ironic that the Wildling head decides to go rolling by her at this exact moment. She gives a small cry in despair, before it's taken away. She gives a small shudder, her hand tightening on Sophia's shoulder.

Damiante continues to shred her skirts. "Merielle! Sophia" she says. "Tear your garments, my cousins. Bind Norran's wounds as best you can. I'm to the farmer." She checks the surround and shuffles quickly to Elias, avoiding what harm she can.

The fire continues to dwindle. Everyone has been so busy guarding the entrances and feeding the hearths and tending to the wounded - but no one has fed the front door fire. It's really dropping quickly.

Arturo Lomasa pants heavily, gripping his axe as his men dispatch the wildling, then blinks incredulously as the small form of his Aunt shows up inside his small ring of men. "Light bless us, Aunt, what are you doing here?" Shaking his head, he directs his small guard. "Snow, Sand, carry him back to the lines. Sergeant, keep us covered. Pull back to the women and children." He does his best to see that Damiante stays in the center of the little group, four axes (counting his) on guard against further assaults as two of his men carry Elias as quickly as they can towards where Merielle and Sophia wait. The three archers keep watch, while Arturo's half of the soldiers stop twenty paces back from where they were as ordered, allowing Varal's men to advance through their ranks towards the fire.

With alacrity, the guardsmen grab the first of the thrones, carrying it to the door to put into the fire. Two guardsman stand on one of their sides, Varal and another on the other - just in case the Wildlings attempt to act against the placement of the throne. "Quickly now, but place it well!" Varal orders, only paying heed to the door and the Wildlings beyond, tightly gripping his sword and parrying knife.

The fire catches on the rich blue velvet of the throne, and suddenly the inferno's exuberance is renewed for at least a while longer.

The fallen knight retains his gaze upward, wounds aided by the efforts of those attempting to tend him. He continues to breathe, slowly, his longsword left behind as he is dragged away without retaliation or struggle. His men stay near Merielle and Sophia, as ordered, their shortswords drawn at the ready.

Elias moans softly as the men lift him. His fingers loosen their grip upon the shovel and allowing it to fall with a clatter on floor as he is lifted. His dark eyes continue to move rapidly as he attempts to look around him, but he makes no other movements.

It is amazing when even the most timid of women can suddenly exhibit the inner strength of a lion, and this is what best describes the delicate form of Sophia. Heeding the Baroness' instructions. the Contessa Mikin begins to tear at the only garment she is wearing, that of a long, white linen nightgown which is already soiled with soot and blood. Without much thought of propriety, Sophia lifts up the tattered hem and begins to tear jagged strips along the edges, thus revealing the calves of her slender legs. The burn welt upon in her cheek puckers into an ugly crimson blotch of bubbles thus shooting daggers of pain through out her frail body. Even so, such does not take away from the task at hand, which is to try and bind any noticeable wounds upon Norran's body. And this is what Sophia does without question.

Merielle Mikin assists with Sophia's ripping of garments in order to help patch up Norran to the best of their abilities. "Carefully now, Sophie," she murmurs softly to her daughter. "Don't tie those bandages too tightly, else you'll do him more harm than good. And be trying to use the cleanest pieces, less there be an infection."

Damiante does not spare even a glance at her nephew's reproach, but gathering her skirts, scoots along the floor following close the men who drag Elias to a safer area. Two men remain wary, serving to guard the fallen man and the Baronnes while two others wrench the other throne from the dias. With all haste, they quickly cross the hall and throw the other throne near the first, effectively barring the entrance with fire once more.

Arturo Lomasa tracks close to Damiante, watchful for Wilding's attacks, and takes a few moments to take stock of the wounded, looking around the keep. He crosses the floor to retrieve Norran's sword, then returns. Waiting for an opening as the women work, he folds his lanky form to lay the weapon at Norran's side before looking to his Aunt. " there a part of the Keep that's more secure? If reinforcements haven't come by the time we run out of wood, we'll need to move the women and wounded to a more defensible position to free up men for the line."

Varal Mikin's face is orange with the light of fire upon it as he looks behind him for a moment. He motions the guards to step back. "The fire burns," he mutters, stating the obvious. "We will have to move quickly, Baron. I don't think these thrones will last that much longer. I'm willing to fight a delaying action, if the need rises, but you must keep the Contessa and Duchess safe."

Norran remains in a completely vegatized state upon the floor, eyes gazing blankly toward the ceiling as he is tended to by the various peoples around him. His breathing continues, slow, but steady.

Damiante pages Norran Lomasa, Varal Mikin, Merielle Mikin, Arturo Lomasa, and Sophia Mikin: We hold the West and he holds the East.

Elias groans once again. "Where is she?", he whispers, his eyes clouded by pain and delirium likely setting in. His hands idly tug on the hem of his cloak even in his largely disabled state. "Where is....", he murmers again before falling silent.

Deftly with nimble fingers from years of playing a string instrument, Sophia wraps and ties the makeshift bandages about Norran's wounds. Dirt, soot and sweat cover and smear across the Contessa's face with the ugly burn upon her cheek swelling severely. Sophia looks like a half-starve waif with large illuminating eyes that search the room for Varal. A sudden convulsion of harsh coughs consume the delicate woman and suddenly the world spins as the remaining energy gives way causing Sophia to fall into the blessed realm of unconsciousness midst the pandemonium and chaos. Quite simply, there is no energy left, all has been spent.

Merielle Mikin manages to grab Sophia's shoulders before the Contesssa falls, holding her daughter in her arms tightly, frowning as she looks around her for help. "Varal!" she calls, lifting her voice to recieve help from the Captain.

Damiante looks up from Elias briefly. "Every room has a fireplace, Varal," she says dispensing with titles. "Unless we knew that the 'lings were clear of the roof, then the study and mastery would do well. But I fear it will be a death trap for us." She shakes her head grimly and ties off another piece of her skirt. "Take all but three of the swordsmen with you. If you fail at the Approach, then there will be little we can do." She hastily wipes her face of sweat, soot and tears.

Return to Season 1 (2003)

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