As morning came another dreadful day was upon the defenders. They dined well Galahad opened the keeps food stores to feed his people. The men prepared gathering arrows and sling stones.
While things might look bleak at a first glance, the reality is that. The keeps walls were always better maintained and the keep itself is in a much more defensible position in comparison to the wall. As the keep itself has only one real entrance point. A relief force will be there in about a week at most and the stores of food inside the keep will definitely hold that long. While hygiene might be an issue, it is not to the degree of a catastrophe. Furthermore, since the keep is a much more compact, it allows the forces to be less spread out.
Surprisingly, The goblins didn't seem to be in any rush instead most of them searched the burned buildings for anything useful. If anything, they were a bit too quiet. Either way, at about midday they tried to smoke the defenders out. While such tactics might have worked against them in a different day lady luck blessed them by having the wind run northwards away from the keep. Slowly but surely the morale of the men increased their limbs now full of energy and the inferno of hope was now burning in their hearts. Look even the usually rash goblins aren't attacking us they thought.
Living in such a small space leads to quite squalid conditions and as a result, several kids fell sick.
One of the young girls complained that she felt tremors.
Her mother gave a reassuring smile hugged her and told her with a mellow tone.
"Don't worry sweety. I am sure it is just someone that gave you the bad eye. After all, you are my pretty little rose and everyone says how pretty and delicate my little girl is. I will get nan to cast out the bad eye."
In the meantime, Baron Monver had just gathered his forces outside Grangar and would march out tomorrow at the first light. His Personal forces amounted to a hundred men at arms well trained and well equipped with shields swords spears and mail armor. The rest were levies with minimal training about a hundred archers using their own bows and arrows and about a hundred spearman armed with long spears and long elongated oval shields. The Landed knights brought themselves and about twenty men at arms each and twenty levies either spearmen or archers. An important distinction needs to be made for Sir Jeroic von Heria his men at arms rather than having spears or swords were armed with two-handed axes their mail armor also had several integrated steel plates. The total amount of knights Baron Monver gathered were fifteen out of sixteen From which ten were unlanded knights wearing low-quality plate armor and five were landed and as such, they were wearing middling tier plate armor. As for the Baron, he had a top-tier set of plate armor. The only knight missing was Galahad which was currently embroiled in a battle for survival. As the final preparations for tomorrows operation were finished, another day came to an end.
The day differed greatly from the last this time the goblins seemed much tenser some small-scale fights even broke out. At some point, fifty riders just took their part of the loot and left. The rest became even tenser. Soon another group of goblins disappeared.
"Took Took Took Took Crah"
A small hole smaller than the size of a child appeared in the keeps cellar and from there two hundred goblins poured through.In the start slowly similar to a slow stream but soon the speed resembled more one of a torrent. The defenders weren't completely oblivious the lower castle rooms were already emptied of the kids the women and the elderly which now stood on the top of the keep on the south side. Soon a bloody melee ensued Galahad was center stage gifting death to the barely armored goblins. Humans not only had a strength advantage an equipment advantage and even a larger range but they were also fighting for their families and homes. Furthermore they were fighting in an enclosed space. With the humans holding a defensive position in the corridor limiting the number advantage of the goblins. But there was a relatively small amount of humans compared to goblins and a lot of them were untrained and as such, they got tired rather quickly novice warriors are more prone to mistakes, as a result, they accumulated injuries and soon the green tide started pushing them back. Half an hour later half of the remaining men were dead but a hundred and fifty goblins will rest with them. The defenders then retreated off the corridor and barricaded the door to the main hall so they can catch their breath the goblins started pounding at the door.
Markos came up with an idea. At that point barely any goblins remained in their camp. Most of them were currently flooding the keep, and the freshly dug tunnels beneath it. As such it is a good chance to break out and successfully group up with Baron Monver. Galahad begrudgingly approved Markos's plan but Captain Hank, Veteran Alfred, and some older peasants both men and women disagreed.
Hank looked Galahad in the eye and said with a slightly depressed tone.
"Your lordship when I pledged myself to the service of your father a decade ago. I promised that I shall defend his fief with my life. There is no worst punishment for me than staying alive as an oath-breaker. As such allow me this last honor to slow down the enemy as much as I can so your Lordship my family and everyone else may have a better chance of retreat."
Alfred then added with a bitter smile on his lips and a melancholic tone.
"Your lordship I have lived in this small village my entire life I remember when this place didn't have even twelve families. I was but a young lad then. Now, look at this place a small thriving village in the frontier. The young are the future of this place I am far too old to be running around I will just slow you down As such I shall live my last day and breathe my last breath ensuring the continuation of my home."
Galahad lifted his visor his eyes cloudy, a tear forming in his eye. His voice gruff and charged with emotion as he said.
"I might be a Knight but the ones that acted as such are those elders which are sacrificing their lives. They acted as true paragons of knightly virtue. Valiants subjects of the Kingdom. Truly just heroic. Today they have acted more according to the Knightly code than even I have. As such I wish them a farewell and I hope I will become half of the Knight they embodied."
Subsequently, the elders held down the passage while the young escaped. Fleeing north towards the hope of a better tomorrow away from this conflict and bloodshed. The old were sacrificed so the young may have a chance to taste the fruits of their labor.
As the survivors moved north, the wounded children and women slowly but surely fell behind. Inside that group was also the Squire a goblin had broken his leg. Behind them, the sounds of battle had faded as they continued to walk Gragon was only two hours away. At this point, only the keep was still visible. While walking the survivors took in the full scale of the disaster. The surrounding farms were burned rotting corpses littered the ground broken carts and burned animals were also occosianally sighted. The smell of smoke still hanged in the air but it slowly but noticeably grew thicker. Soon a four-year-old child carried in his mother's shoulders shouted SMOKE. Everyone tensed was it their allies or more goblins or even bandits they thought as they checked their surroundings. But it was soon obvious where it was coming from the Keep. Again the sound of drums became audible they were still an hour and a half away. Should they leave behind the women and children or would they continue hoping they will all escape?
Markos said simply and drily.
"If we all die, they were be none to take vengeance and if none takes vengeance justice will not be served and that will displease the god of Justice the one that judges the souls of men."
Galahad took a big breath and said with conviction
"I already gave up our past in the future's sake I will not sacrifice our future in the sake of vengeance for I am a knight and if death has come knocking for our future, I will try to stop him even if it is futile.
Markos then calmly responded.
"My God will not be pleased with me if I act as you require. I am afraid I will be going, see you. Hopefully not on the other side,"
After those words, Markos sped up quickly moving further and further away from the group.
The drums grew louder and louder tension rose. The rearguard had been changed up from women and children to the able-bodied men. Then the goblin riders came into eye distance about eighty of them the last twenty men prepared for their charge as the women and children fled as quickly as they could. Time slowed down each second feeling like a centrury. Then they charged the impact was instantaneous our line was in tatters in seconds men were dropping dead all around. Galahad himself was pierced in the leg by a spear. The combined force of man and riders managing to pierce the ancient plate.
As he fell down the sound of arrows was heard. Soon The Fifteen knights and the baron were counter charging the goblin riders. They were less in numbers but they were better armed stronger and better trained they brought death and destruction in the goblin ranks. Still a couple unlucky knights perished but the surviving goblins soon routed. The wounded, and the survivors were taken by some levies to Gragon while the rest of the force advanced. The goblins when informed of the news quickly retreated. The the army caught nothing but a few small groups of strugglers here and there with about a hundred of them still able to escape back to the forest. Now armed with new arms and plenty of food for the winter.
Soon Galahad woke up feeling weak and drained resting in a familiar room. It was his quarters when he was still a Squire in Gragon next to him a familiar old lady was taking care of him Madam Etheria the kindest soul in the kingdom her brown eyes filled with worry.
Madam Etheria said with a voice full of kindness but with a gruff undertone thanks to her age. Her smile bitter and her eyes red from worry.
"Galahi how do you feel, we needed to amputate your leg. I am deeply sorry I have to tell you that your fighting days are behind you. On the bright side, your squire is still alive and his leg will heal with time the Magos said. But I have been rambling again you must be thirsty and hungry. After you finish eating, I will call Little Monver over."
Before Galahad could even react he was given some cold soup by Etheria. Galahad after the first spoonful realized how ravenously hungry he was and started eating quickly. Momentarily forgetting the fact he was now maimed. After he finished eating the simple meal, he tried to move his leg. It felt missing gone lost. Galahad remained silent contemplating. In the meantime, Madam Etheria left the room. Half an hour later while Galahad was still deep in thought.
Baron Monver arrived he looked at Galahad with a look of pity, sighed and the said.
"My condolences for losing your people, your ancestral home, your family armor, and your leg. But I can't do much both Sir Mark Light and Sir Theodor Strong died two of my knights' such shame. At least you have some survivors seventy to eighty if I recall correctly most are young kids and women though. I would love to help you but you need to stand back up on your own. But for the next two years i am not gonna levy you any taxes. While you might have lost your martial prowess, you got an important thing for a ruler experience. So what are you gonna do now retire on the basic income a knight gets?"
Galahad lifted his head a bitter smile in his face but his green eyes sparkling with energy.
"I will do as I promised to Sir Alfred and Sir Hank and the other eight knights that gave their life so I can be alive today. I will rebuild and I will rule. For I am a knight and a knight shall keep his oath."
The Baron looked at Galahad straight in the eyes and said with a smile on his lips.
"You grew up. A shame that you need something so drastic to do so. But in the end, you did maybe you will prove a capable vassal in the end. Who is Sir Alfred and Sir Hank and the other eight Knights?"
Galahad stopped and thought for a moment before he said.
"Not official Knights but Knights none the less."
Baron nodded but before exiting the room said.
"I saw the tunnels and I hear about their tactics from your men. They even blocked the roads with logs slowing us down. Watch out they are smarter than they look."
Galahad sighed and thought to himself tomorrow I will go and get a wooden leg after that I will go back to my territory and survey the damage done maybe I can salvage something. I also need to visit my squire. Ah, so much work it is hard becoming a good ruler.