Fog settled over the battlefield, the air for now sucked dry of magic. The Debruans would surely strike again soon. Gors sheathed his blade for the moment. He would need it later but not now.
“Ready the men Bog. We have an hour at least before the next wave.”
Bog looked at Gors. The grizzled veteran shook his head. “There is no fight left in the men my Lord. We should retreat over the bridge to the keep.”
Bog had seen war since he was a small boy. He had not lived to be so old by making rash decisions. But Gors knew that the veteran’s advice would not help him today.
“We are already at the bridge. There is nowhere further to retreat.”
Bog shook his head. Gors knew what he would say. “We can go to the keep. Brave hearts will be defeated today, but stone can hold them off for days, or weeks.”
“And then what?” Gors replied. “In the keep we are trapped, our defeat there will be certain. Here we have the bridge, our one great advantage. We should hold as long as we can, help will come.”
In the distance pillars of fire burst from the ground. The fiends were summoning more imps. The imps would not stay in Rhyfell long. Just long enough for the battle, before their essence started to break down. Gors’ soldiers had captured imps in the past. After a day or two they would become completely mad, their mind back in Debrua, lost.
The fire was proof that the fiends had lost none of their strength. Gors could see his men’s shoulders slump at the sight. The defence had lasted days and it would need to last many more if help did not arrive.
Behind him lay the Bridge of Light. It used to be at the heart of his lands. Today it was their front line. The Keep of Serma lay beyond the Bridge. It was their home. Gors would never let war come to that place.
Next to Bog stood Glan, Gors’ twelve year old son. The boy held a blade just like the other men, but he was the future lord of this land. It was because of him that Gors could not abandon this Bridge.
The Bridge of Light was built by The Guardian. It provided a way over the ice lake from the mainland to the Isle of Serma. Even Debruans could not cross the ice lake without the Bridge. The Bridge of Light was the only way the Sermits could reach the rest of the world. If the Debruans took it they would all be trapped and eventually would die. Not even the Guardian could save them if the Bridge of Light were to fall.
The Bridge of Light always amazed Gors. It was more than just a pathway from Serma to the rest of Rhyfell. It was more even than a form of protection against the Debruans’ magic. It was also beautiful. Two white towers stood at each end and an enormous arch, the Heart of the Bridge, marked its middle. Shining like white fire it was a beacon of hope in the bleak landscape that surrounded it. It was the one ray of order in a time of chaos and Gors would die before abandoning it.
“There is no help coming,” Bog whispered. He did not want to destroy what courage the men had left. The old veteran knew that Gors would not back down.
“The Guardian will come,” Gors spoke confidently. “This will be the last time we face the tide.” The men nodded, trying to cheer in agreement. Yet Gors could see in each one of their eyes that they did not believe.
“We face our death then,” Bog spoke sombrely. “I will die today. As will you and your son.”
Gors looked at Glan. The boy showed courage to the end. Gors wished he could send his son back to the keep but that would break his men. And the keep would not save his son.
“Ready the men to form ranks. We hold our ground here,” Bog nodded at Gors’ order. The men drew their swords, loyal to the end.
Gors stopped at the sound of his son’s voice.
“There is another way.”
“Form ranks my son. This is the way I have chosen. Our hopes lie with The Guardian now.” But young Glan did not move.
“We destroy the Bridge,” was all that the boy said. Gors paused as all the men looked to him. For the first time in days they had hope in their eyes.
“No,” Gors couldn’t give up the bridge. It was madness.
“Listen to your son. He is wise beyond his years,” Bog whispered to his lord.
“Do you know what will happen if we destroy this bridge? The Guardian will abandon us. We will be alone, we will be helpless.”
“No,” Bog replied. “We will find a way. The young will find a way. Your son will lead the Sermit people to greatness. He will lead the Rhyfian people to greatness.”
Gors opened his mouth to order the men to take arms, to defend the Bridge of Light once more, but no words escaped his lips.
“The only way to destroy the Bridge of Light,” Gors began, his voice breaking up with anguish. “The only way is to set fire to its Heart, the central arch. Whoever is appointed this task will die in the purifying flames.”
“I am old,” Bog said respectfully. “I would be honoured to perform that task this day my lord.”
“No Bog, my son will need your wise hand on his shoulder if he is to become a great leader. My time is over. I was the protector of the Bridge of Light. I must be the one to destroy it.”
Bog nodded and withdrew. He informed the Sermit warriors that they would withdraw to the Keep of Serma.
Gors knelt down in front of his son. “You lead these people now Lord Glan. Rule them with integrity and bravery. Do not succumb to pride and sentimentality like your father. Good times will come for our people. I regret that I could not bring them for you.”
Glan simply nodded, tears forming in the youth’s eyes, though his face remained carved of stone. He turned and joined the men, crossing the Bridge of Light, one last time.
Gors wept as his son left. In the distance the Debruan horde was beginning to charge. He stood and grabbed a torch from the ground, and strode away from the carnage and onto the Bridge. As he reached the Heart he could see his son leading the last of the soldiers onto the Isle of Serma. Gors lit the Heart and watched it flare into a brightness that meant Gors could see nothing else.
The fire filled Gors’ lungs, but he did not feel pain. His body would be cleansed and he would depart for Kematia, the Afterlife, with his essence pure. And there he would be content to rest and wait until he was reborn.