Last time, on CYOA, as written by Samodean of Hardcore Casual: Click Here.
And now, as the saga continues to unfold:
Shaking his head, Corrigan reaches for his Shield. He surveys the front, catching his own disheveled reflection in the polished steel. Not liking what he sees there, he quickly throws his arm through the inner strap, slinging the shield over his right shoulder.
"What is a soldier of the light if not a shield for those in need?" he mumbles to himself in an effort to steel himself for what he knows is on the horizon.
Pushing back the flap of the tent, he exits into the bright sunlight, squinting as the rays assault his foggy brain. Surveying the walls of the hold around him, the Commander attempts to take a mental inventory of the situation.
Men, women, and children run frantically here and there about Corrigan as he stands rooted in place. The few soldiers that notice the Commander stop for a moment, looking at him expectantly before hustling away to continue whatever it was they were doing. The troops and citizens alike are very obviously at a loss for leadership, and Corrigan shakes his head again in disgust with himself.
The priest, Rondrey, appears at his side, having waited just outside the tent for Corrigan to prepare himself. He places his hand on Corrigan's arm and says simply, "As you can see, the men need you, Commander." He gestures vaguely towards the north.
A cloud of dust rises over the northwestern gate, and the sound of a struggle drifts from that direction, letting Corrigan know where the heat of the battle seems to be occurring. Even as he is watching, the wooden gate is beginning to deform against the onslaught. From experience, he knows it will only be moments before the scourge come pouring through the gate like a rotting river, come to claim more victims to bolster their grim ranks.
Looking up at the sky, he makes note that the sun is yet a few hours from its apex. Remembering what the old priest had told him, he fires back, "Rondrey, you fool, they will not be through in a few hours. They're coming NOW."
Even as he says this, a loud cracking noise resounds through the camp. Screams rise from the women as they cluster with their children. Savage roars burst from the throats of the men in response, their willingness to protect their loved ones driving them into a righteous rage.
Corrigan observes all this dispassionately, as he has seen it all before. He tries to find empathy in his cold heart, but finds only the dizziness of rum. Clearing his mind, he focuses on the task at hand. It is obvious the hold is to be overrun. What remains now is escape and taking as many people with him as he can. Disgustedly, he realizes he is not so much concerned with the lives of the people, rather he does not want to see the scourge force grow in number.
He decides now is the time for action. Sprinting forward, he quickly arrives before the gate, which has splintered down the middle. Valiantly, men fight in the breech, momentarily halting the forward progress of the enemy forces.
"Men," Corrigan bellows, "hold this front. Archers and scouts follow me, we shall evacuate the citizens. Once we are clear, make your retreat however you see fit. We shall rendezvous in three days time at the Temple." Perhaps the dragons will be of some assistance to us, he muses. "May the Light be with you!"
A pitifully small number of men break off from the defenders and follow Corrigan as he sprints towards the back of the hold where the women and children have gathered. Looking at the dishevelled townspeople in front of him, he feels his first pang of guilt at having let the situation deteriorate to this. Quickly, though, he pushes his self-loathing from his mind and makes a mental note of the number now under his protection.
"We are to make our way to the Temple," he announces. "Gather your belongings and prepare to move quickly. Take only what is necessary!"
As the citizens begin to group up, Corrigan directs half of the his troops to the rear and the other half to the front with him, sandwiching the citizens in between. Satisfied with the arrangement, he nods and turns to face Rondrey, who has been shadowing him at his side.
"Are you prepared, Priest," Corrigan asks.
"Sure, but the question remains: are you?" Rondrey fires back.
"Of course I am," Corrigan says, eyeing the Priest. "This isn't my first battle, Rondrey."
"Right, Commander," Rondrey says sarcastically, "then through which gate shall we make our timely escape. To the East, or to the South?"
YOU CONTROL THE FATE OF CORRIGAN AND THE TOWNSFOLK
If you choose East, the story continues here at Me and My Ghoul.
If you choose South, the story continues here at Circumspect Snug.
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