Aglaril Cycle:Chapter 02 Earthquake by Rich Feitelberg

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SUMMARY: Lan searches the ruins and gets more than he bargained for.

Lan and his men headed on foot to the right. The Michaeline captain placed Sir Geoffrey in charge of the swordsmen, while Lan took charge of the archers. They walked five abreast for several minutes with the swordsmen in the lead and the archers in the rear, their metal armor clattering. Ahead, Lan saw a pair of high walls, which formed a crude street about twenty feet wide. He ordered the knights to fall into a three abreast formation before continuing.

They followed the street for ten minutes watching for anything unusual, as Evan had instructed. In most places the walls were crumbling or collapsed. The road curved gently to the left and the knights continued only another five yards before reaching a section where the walls on both sides of the street had fallen. The pile of rubble topped Geoffrey's head and there was too much stone to try and move it.

Lan saw the blockage as he rounded the corner. "We'll have to double back," he said.

However, before anyone could move, the ground began to shake and Lan heard a distant rumble from the ground. His eyes widened and his brow furrowed for an instant before he suppressed his surprise and began turning around. The motion of the ground grew stronger, making it hard to walk or even stand. Lan was thrown to the ground along with many of the other knights.

Lan heard the walls crumble and then two people screamed. He looked in the direction of the voices. To his right, rubble covered two knights; they were crushed under the weight of the stone. A little farther along the road a pile of small rocks rained down on five knights as the stone mound flattened. Off to Lan's left, a large heap of stones had been toppled on top of a knight, burying him. A section of the left wall crumbled; the falling debris injured two knights as rock pinned the leg of one and trapped the arm of another.

Lan looked behind him. Several archers tried to stand and failed. A slab of stone fell on one of them. He screamed and then stopped abruptly. Several other archers crawled forward as rocks fell all around them, clanked against the metal armor, and dented it.

"Hold that shield in place," said a knight off to Lan's right. He turned to see four knights a few yards away crouched behind their shields and using them to deflect the rubble.

Craning his head, Lan tried to see how Geoffrey was faring but he could not find him in all the chaos.

The ground continued to shake and the noise seemed to grow louder. Lan wanted to stand so he could help his men and locate Geoffrey but couldn't get his balance. It was like standing on a log in the river. He collapsed again and slammed his fist into the soft earth, growling softly to himself. He took a deep breath and focused on what he could do, his mind ablaze, thinking about this earthquake.

Earthquakes in this part of Thalacia are rare. This has to be an attack by a necromancer, thought Lan.

The trick, as always, was finding him. The entire troop made too much noise to sneak up on the man but individuals deployed strategically might be able to, once the quake ended.

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