The Castle  
Alex Hazlewood
November 2015
[512 words]

The journey had been exhausting, but finally his goal was in site, a castle surrounded by a poorly maintained forest. Secluded from most travelers and far from the beaten track the climb up the rock face had been hard but not impossible. Three floors visible above ground, a heavy iron reinforced oak drawbridge and arrow slits covering all approaches, it would be a tough structure to siege. Add to that the top layer of Crenelations allowing guards to poor boiling oil or pitch on any attacking army and you would need numbers in excess of 30 times the complement inside to be in with a chance of breaching the defenses. Such is the benefit of a well-constructed keep.

Still there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Light seeped out from the slit windows, silhouetting the men inside as they walked around, the sound of laughing and drinking could be heard, carried far in the calm moonless night. Sloppy thought the mighty hero. Very sloppy. His had unconsciously gripped the metal shaft of his mighty double handed axe, the blades like his armor dark and well used. This attack would need perfect timing. If the alert went up too soon, then all would be lost.

Counting only 3 sentries on the roof and at least 15 different voices inside he concluded his information was correct. A guard complement of no more than 30 protected the keep, normally this castle would barrack over two hundred. The Earl had moved the larger complement of his men to his main castle at Perin Falls and made it known, through selective pad foots he was located there. It had cost much to find out this was a bluff, and the earl was really here, poorly protected hoping on a ruse to save his hide.

The bounty for the Earls head was considerably, but that was immaterial to the mighty hero. The peasants he had unjustly slaughtered last year was reason enough to separate his head from his neck.

Months of patient planning and cracking skulls, had bought the hero here. He went over the plan in his head one more time. Nothing must go wrong. He slipped his axe back into the sheath, the metal handle sliding silently into the Doe skin, the twin blades resting against his side, a feeling so natural he hardly noticed the weight. He stood slowly, and while keeping the trees to his left he moved forward. The shadows would hide him until he was only a mere 15 paces from the wall. His timing would have to be perfect.

Waiting for the guards to move out of sight he stepped forward at a cat like run, a crack echoed through the night and he looked down to see a fallen branch. All was lost. A sentry turned, and he was spotted.

Peter cursed; he reached up, press CRTL F9 on the keyboard, the screen darkened.

The climb had been exhausting, but finally the goal was in site, a small castle surrounded by a poorly maintained forest…