A small wooden wall went across a snowy pass in a range of high mountains. The captain walked out from a wooden house built into the wall. “Stuart! What it look like out there?”
Stuart was on guard from the previous night. “Nothing much sir, but, by god, its cold out here, can I go in yet?” Stuart was only 15, and the captains’ heart softened when he saw the boy shivering. “Aye, lad get in by that fire, I’ll take it for now. Oh how’s the cannon doing?” Stuart climbed down on a ladder from the 10 foot tall wall. “I had to keep a fire right by it all night to keep the frost off. But it’s not frozen up, even a bit, sir.” The lad always goes to such at it with such thoroughness, thought the captain, I bet he’ll go far in the army. Out loud, he said”excellent boy, that’s the only cannon the government will supply us. If it freezes and cracks, it’s the soldiers pay that will get us a shiny new one.” The boy grinned, as he knew his kind captain would never cut soldier pay like that.
About noon, the captain was still standing watch on the wall, keeping the cannon from freezing in the subzero temperatures. Then he saw something moving down the desolate pass. A merchant, he proposed, as they were the only people to ever pass through here. As it got closer, he could make out men, and suddenly his senses went cold. They marched, ranks 50 men across, and ten men deep. As they got closer, he could see their stunning, snow white uniforms, blending with the white background. They flew a flag with a polar bear on it, swiping its paw at a black shadow. The only part of their uniforms that was black was the six foot long muskets. At the end of the muskets, a 7 inch blade glinted in the sunlight. He could hear their drums beating. The Anderites were coming.
After several minutes, the 75 men manning the wall were running back and forth, loading muskets, and rolling out gun powder kegs. The cannon was being primed. Filled with round shot, 45 pounders. But they had grape shot canister for when the Anderites got closer… the captain drew Stuart to the side. “Boy, you have to ride to Varessen, and tell of this invasion. Go saddle up.” Stuart looked at him with indignation, “sir, I must fight, as a soldier it is my duty…” the captain cut him off. “None of that soldiering business now. You have to go, get the king to mobilize his forces. If you’re quick, he can set up a defense.”
“But…what of you and the men, sir?”
Tears sprang to the captains eyes”Stuart me lad. Not one man defending this wall will see tomorrow” he then embraced Stuart briefly, and then shoved him towards the horse stable. “Ride like hell, Stuart Cornigy, ride like hell, for that’s what this war will be.” He then turned, and shouted for the men to fire the first shot of cannon. By the time Stuart had mounted and was riding away, he could hear the roar of the cannon, then the crack of muskets.
The captain turned from Stuart, and told the men to ready the single cannon. They were all on the wall, holding smoothbore muskets. They were in smart red and black uniforms. For a second the captain thought they could win this, or at least hold out. But he glanced down the pass. 500 yards away were the white uniformed men. Fifty men wide, ten rows deep. A single division of the size could overpower this wall, if not with large losses. But he counted the division flags. Fifteen, but more divisions were coming. He could now here marching feet, outdone only by the screaming flutes that led the divisions instead of drum commands, like most nations used. The drum was only to keep marching beat, and behind each division walked five 25 pounder cannons. This did not mean the cannons weighed 25 pounds; it meant the cast iron ball they fired did. On the left and right flank of each division where ten white coated men on pure white horses. They carried super accurate, machine grooved carbines. Nine times out of ten they hit their target.
The captain ordered the cannon fire. The cannon, while powerful, and firing heavy shot, was outdated, and inaccurate. But because the Anderites were filling the pass so fully, it was nearly impossible to miss. The 45 pound ball slammed into the second division, and five men fell screaming. The Anderites continued the forward march. The first rank was now in range for the muskets to fire affectively. The men had assembled into three ranks. The captain called for the first rank to fire. The musket barrage was deafening. Eight Anderites fell, blood staining their pure white uniforms. The Capitan screamed for the cannon team to load it with grape shot. The gunners started loading it. The first rank fell to their knees, and the second rank fired. Twelve Anderites fell this time. They were now fifty feet from the wall, and were running forth. The second rank of musketeers on the wall fell to their knees, the third rank firing. Ten enemies fell. The grape shot fired, and tore apart the rank, with nearly twenty five men falling, screaming, and bleeding into the snow. By now the first rank was reloaded, and stood to fire. But this time, the Anderites were ready to. They fired up at the wall as the defenders fired down. The thick redwood of the wall absorbed most of the bullets, but some of the defenders fell back in bloody heaps. By now, men had reached the base of the wall, and where preparing grapples to throw onto the walls.
They drew long ropes with grapples on the end. They threw them upon the wall, and began to climb when a rope stuck solidly, they then began to climb. The men on the walls tried in vain to dislodge the grapples. It was no use, as the heavy iron had pierced into the wood, making quick removal impossible. Also, the ropes were very resilient and could not be cut quickly. The men on the wall, not being able to remove the grapples, aimed there muskets at the top of the ropes. As the first Anderites were over, they were rewarded with a ball of lead in the face. They fell screaming back into the ranks. Some of the Anderites below fell with them; some were smart enough to avoid the falling bodies. The men on the wall had not the time to reload, so they readied there bayonets for use. The released a small latch on the bayonet, holding it against the barrel, and it slid out to its full length. Then flipping the switch back down, it locked the bayonet in place for stabbing. As more men swarmed up the walls, the defenders hacked down, for if they managed to get on top of the wall, the defenders would be over whelmed.
The fife screamed an order that only the Anderites understood, and they pulled back. The captain breathed a sigh of relief, only to cry out in horror as he saw what was coming to be. The Anderites where bringing the cannon brigades forward. The captain ordered the men to the ground, but before they could all shuffle off the wall, the firing began. The cannon shot tore into the wall, showering splinters. Men were thrown to the ground from the wall, killing or injuring. The wall shuddered, and began to give. The captain screamed for the men to go faster. By the time that the men were assembled on the ground, thirty six remained. Men where cut and bleeding, or had wood shrapnel deep in their skin.
The wall shuddered as a second cannon volley hit it. It collapsed with a massive cracking sound. A ten foot section gave way, and through the dust, the men could see the pure white uniforms advancing. The defenders ran to and fro, reforming the rank. The white rank came forth, and fired. The defending men, not being reformed, and caught at an angle, could not retaliate well. One or two of the defenders, thinking for themselves, got shots off, but neither hit home. The Anderites, after seeing the work of their muskets, charged into the still reforming defenders with sabers and bayonets. The defenders finally got there rank back in order. The defenders made a brave stand, turning back the tide as white clad men flooded down onto them. But even the strongest man cannot hold the tide forever. The defenders fell, and slowly the line began to bend like an arch away from the attackers. One by one the fell, fighting like demons the whole way, making the Anderites pay in blood and injury for every centimeter of ground. Finally the captain stood with three men to each side of him. The white tide had pulled back and now stood staring at them. An officer came forward. “Surrender and you will not die, but serve the glorious army of Andor! Or make your peace with god and die where you stand!” the caption pulled back his lip in disgust. “I will never serve under an anderite;” he filled the word with disgust”we will die where we stand.”
The officer looked at him for a moment, wondering why enemy troops had to be so stubborn. He raised his hand, and the musket line was raised, twenty muskets pointed at the men. The captain pulled out his short barreled pistol; he raised it, and aimed it at the head of the officer. The officer, seeing his own death coming, shrugged, and brought his hand down to order a volley. The captain quickly brought the pistol up to fire instead at the gunpowder storage shed, and fired. The seven defenders were hit before the pistol bullet found its mark. But a millisecond after the captain fell to the ground, his heart slowing in death, he heard a massive boom.
The anderites officer brought down his hand for the volley. He fully expected to be also bringing down his hand for his own execution, via pistol shot in the head. But the captain brought up his pistol and shot a small building instead a fraction of a second before his men fired. All seven of the defenders crumpled in the snow. He had a moment to ponder why he was not dead before he died.
The bullet went into the gunpowder store, and ricochet off a metal beam. A single spark floated down onto the gunpowder, glowing in heat. After a second, it began to fade, but right as it was going out, the gunpowder reached the heat required for combustion. Once one grain went off, they all did. A massive shock wave went out, followed by hungry tongues of fire. The boom was heard from thousands of feet away. The blast zone was about one hundred yards outward, most being funneled down the pass. Five hundred anderites burned. The close ones, the lucky ones, were dead before they could feel pain. The ones on the outskirts were set alight; there beautiful uniforms catching quickly, and curling into brown black as they burned. The men beet at themselves and tried to roll in the snow. But it was to no avail, the fire was too strong to douse in time to save lives. Three men in the blast zone survived. They later died of their injuries.
The invasion of Narcas had begun.