There were great plumes of smoke now erupting from fissures in the ground. The red seams exposed liquid rock which oozed down along the shore and sizzled into the bay’s water. The heat radiated outwards in all directions. Ket itself was pouring out from the ruined city!
“Get that blasted gate out of the way!” Roared the Commander. He called to Lord Ian, who had found a sword and shield from Sasser supplies brought up belowdecks.
“My Lord, it looks like all the ships are moored in such a way! We are doomed! We’ll be swamped soon, and taken back, or worse.” Ian was looking now over the prow and seemed to spot something through the haze. “Wait! My Lord! There! A mechanism. That wheel, surely it is the lever!”
Fritz ran to the prow himself, dodging a small wicked creature with a needle like probiscus. Iricah slammed the creature to the deck with her shovel, squishing it’s guts.
“It’s a release mechanism! It must be for the gate!” He spun around, taking in the battle. All around him, the scene was motion. There was just no time for a decision to be made. Desperately, he cried out, “I need Celns of Honor now men! I need Celns of Merit and Deed! Come with me, a dozen of you lot! We save our fellows tonight! We live on in the Flame!”
Without waiting for a response, the Commander, Lord Fritz, swung over the rails and down upon the dock. Many of his fellow soldiers did as well. Thrak had just climbed back on board the vessel. Zy’an flung himself over the rail, in his usual fashion. They ran to stand by Frank and Iricah, who watched the Commander go over and up to the wheel. A gigantic thing, made of metal, it sat atop the hill.
“This ship is free!” Called a soldier from the stern. “The sails are out, make way! Make way goodly Celns!!!”
Frank breathed in far too calmly for the moment. He sighed. “None of the others will ever make it.”
Iricah exhaled. “Fritz is right, the ships will be stuck if they don’t free it.”
“I gather that Fritz will free the mechanism though,” said Zy’an. “They just will not make it back themselves. They’ll be overrun by the enemy.”
“Under sail! We’re under sail. Man your positions!” called another of the Celns. Underneath their feet, they felt the ship lurch backwards.
Iricah watched the Commander stagger up the hill. He punched and kicked, while Ian and the other haggard souls climbed their way up through the smoke and rubble. The wheel still a few yards off.
She turned to Frank and then to Thrak. A wry smile shone through the dirt and soot stuck to her face. “For Cellinor?”
Frank’s eyes flashed red.
Thrak’s nostrils flared.
“For Cellinor!” said Frank and Thrak.
At the same instant, the bard, the barbarian, and the cleric, climbed over the rail, slid down onto the dock and ran up the hill to save the battle, the war, and just maybe all of Cellinor itself.
The monk would make it to the wheel first, and so none remembered that he had jumped not for Cellinor, but for them.