The Battle for the Castle.

This was it, a week and a half had passed since Brevan's group had met the miners outside the castle, and the preparations for the assault had been made.

Saul and the talking beasts had arrived five days ago, and tensions had risen through the roof. It seemed that Brevan' party was the only group who didn't want to start shooting arrows at the animals and Saul was the only animal that didn't want revenge for the animal war. Surprisingly Calak was the one who restored order offering to turn himself in for his crimes in exchange for their help...and that somehow worked!

The Talking beast army, if it could be called that, was made up of around 60 silver, gray, and black pelted wolves, about thirty brown bears, twenty eagles, fifty cougars, around seventy-ish rabbits, three mice,a flock of eagles, and a red fox. The beasts mostly mingled among themselves, with a few speaking to either Brevan or Saul and all of them staying away from Calak, sending hateful glares and growls his way.

Four days ago, the outline of a plan was developed by Zac, Brevan, Serina, and Ortega

"The Castle walls may be old, but they're strong and can hold up against an attack." Zac pointed to the walls for emphasis, stretching his arm above his head to point at the top of the walls.

"What about a siege?" Brevan asked "Once the remainder of the miners get here we might have enough numbers to encircle the castle."

Serina shook her head "Make no mistake, they know we are here...The only reason they haven't attacked us is to show us they have the ability to withstand a siege attempt."

Ortega rubbed his chin "We're mostly all miners here, can't we dig under the walls?"

Serina groaned "Did you here what I said? They know we are here, they'd surely notice an attempt to dig under the castle, plus it would take just as long as a siege attempt would."

Apollo didn't listen to me either...She thought to herself, struggling to keep back tears. Apollo would get a faraway look in his eyes when she spoke for any length of time longer than ten minutes, she would attempt to ask him what she was speaking about and he'd make her melt with those big eyes, causing her to forget what she was speaking about.

I can't cry Serina sniffed looking at her pinky finger, I promised my baby I wouldn't cry.

She'd always miss her husband, but she had Calak now, and Apollo would want her to be happy.

Brevan looked at the gates to the castle, steel gates with a lever system to open them outward, and the lever was defended by archer towers and directly above the gates.

"Zac..." Brevan smiled "Do you remember what I told you when we first met? About how we could use your status as a deserter to our advantage?"

"Yes..." He nodded "What do you have in mind friend?"

Almost two hours passed with the group hearing Brevan's plan, listening to Serina offering up a counter plan, and having Zac changing one or two details of the plan and after fixing a few other things the group shared a smile.

"We're ready" Ortega declared.

Two days later the last of the miners had arrived at the castle and the plan was relayed to them with the majority of the miners agreeing with it. The talking beasts were a little harder to convince but, Saul was able to persuade them by reminding them that Calak would face justice by their hands.

Brevan was letting his inner wolf completely take over, and he was quickly falling back into his the personality he had had back on his old world. He was a leader of an army and was going to lead them into battle, so he began treating the miners like soldiers, drilling them and outfitting them like an army.

Calak took the days in stride, spending his time with his family and preparing his arrows for the battle. He knew that the Talking beasts hated him, but that feeling was nothing compared to the guilt inside of him, that was eating him up. Serina had been more help than she could have ever known, offering him silent comfort whenever he needed it, a hand on his shoulder, a hug, one of her soft kisses, letting him know that no matter what she loved him.

Climbing trees with Boxey, telling stories to Elloe, and playing princess with Athena were his main pastimes and he enjoyed the time with them to the fullest. He didn't dare hunt with all the talking beasts around, but he didn't really mind, he needed to save up his arrows for the big battle anyways.

Calak reminded himself to do something nice for Boxey, as he climbed to the top of a large tree. "It's so peaceful up here" he mused to himself as he watched the leaves rustle in the wind. "Just me and the tree..."

"And me!" A voice jolted him out of his thoughts and Boxey pulled himself over the branch, sitting beside Calak.

Calak smiled fondly at his son in all but blood and looked out at the sun setting over the castle. "It's beautiful isn't it?"

"Yes" Boxey remained quiet for a second before turning to Calak "Daddy? Are you going to leave like Papa did? Thea' told me Papa had gone away and I don't want to lose a daddy again."

Calak's eyes widened at the question and he shook his head "I'd never leave you, and your Papa didn't leave you...he was taken by the King...I'm going to make sure the King never ever takes anyone again."

"Okay" Boxey shrugged "I guess 'Thea was wrong."

Calak reached over and hugged Boxey, "I promise, once I come back, we'll be a family forever."

Boxey leaned into his daddy and sighed "Thanks daddy."

They remained like that for a while until Calak shifted "Alright, let's climb down...It's getting late"

Boxey nodded and climbed down, followed by Calak.

One day before the battle, the plan was drilled into every miner's head, weapons were sharpened and repaired, and the battle was now the only thing on every man, woman, and beasts' mind. Ortega swung a sword like an expert, sparring with Tigh.

"You're getting better my friend!" Tigh smirked as his own sword was blocked "But not good enough!"

Ortega leapt backward from another strike "I'm a soldier Tigh, or did you forget! I'm already better!"

Tigh chuckled as he parried several more strikes, "I remember! Still..." He flicked his blade upward and disarmed Ortega holding his blade just above Ortega's chest "Knowing you're a great warrior and letting your opponent know are two different things."

Ortega grabbed his sword and sheathed it "Good fight Tigh"

Tigh nodded "Well at least I'll be there to keep you alive during the battle, you won't stand a chance without me!"

The two friends drew their swords again and faced each other, ready to duel again.

Brevan meanwhile was watching the other miners duel one another, and aside from offering one or two comments he was quite proud with how the army was doing. More miners were shooting bows at targets or hurling magic at one another, and he felt good about their chances against the MageKnights

Finally it was the last night before the battle, and Brevan gathered the army together.

He took a deep breath "You miners are going to be a part of history, because tomorrow the king is going to be brought down by all of you. It doesn't matter what you were before the mines, whether you were a criminal or a regular person...today you are warriors. Your children and their children will ask you if you were there, and you'll be able to say yes! On this day years in the future, people will ask you if you fought the fight, and you men and women and beast will proudly show your scars and say Yes!"

You all have magic inside of you, you all have abilities, you all have something that makes you special...so use it! No more will you be thrown into a mine by a King, or have your families torn apart. The Talking beasts will regain their lands and live without fear of being hunted down. I'm sorry all of you have to fight this war, but we will fight with honor and show the King and those who follow him what we can do. We are strong, and today we will show the king just how strong we are! Your names will be remembered by thousands across the world, so let's show the King that we will not go quietly, but we will bring him down!"

The miners cheered and raised their weapons, and the talking beasts howled and roared. Saul smiled up at his friend, once again glad that their paths had crossed all that time ago.

Brevan basked in the glory of the cheers and let his inner wolf howl as the army dispersed for their last night.

Calak meanwhile wandered away from the group a few minutes after the speech, and went back to his campsite where his family was. Elloe was already asleep with her arms curled around Boxey and Athena, and Serina was lying down with her back turned to him.

He lay down beside her and slipped his arms around her, interlocking his fingers over her stomach. Good she's asleep...

"Serina" He whispered, smiling as he realized she was still asleep and couldn't hear him. "Serina, you've been someone I never thought I would ever fall in love with, but for some reason I did...and I can't imagine living without you...you've changed my views on magic, you've given me a family, and you've given me a home...I never want to let you go ever...I love you so much and I hope you know whatever happens I'm yours...now and forever."

He hugged her to him a bit tighter and closed his eyes, falling asleep.

Serina opened her eyes and fought to stop a blush from creeping across her face, she was a light sleeper and had awoken the moment he'd whispered her name.

She fought the urge to turn around and start kissing him, because she knew if she started it would be very difficult for her to stop...especially after what he had just said, plus judging by his whisper he didn't want her to hear what he had said.

She eventually calmed her emotions and fell back asleep, with a smile on her face.

Finally the day of the assault came, and the first phase of Brevan's plan was set into motion.

Zac, Starbuck, Dillion, and Jolly stood in a group with Brevan. "You guys are sure you want to do this..." Brevan pressed.

Zac nodded "Have confidence in your plan my friend...we're ready."

The miners and talking beasts had gathered themselves, preparing for the battle. Armor was donned by whomever had it, and weapons were taken up. Archers bundled up packs of arrows and slung them over their backs, and strung their bows. Other miners simply showed off their bands, needing no other weapon but their magic, and the rest of the miners brandished swords, daggers, axes, maces, and almost every other melee weapon you could think of, a few even held the pickaxes they worked in the mines with...only this time they would hit something other than stone.

The talking beasts stood close to their human allies, fully prepared to unleash their fury on the human king.

Calak had loaded his quiver to the breaking point with all the arrows it could handle and he began to walk over to the ranks of the archers when a voice called his name.

"Calak!"

He turned to see Serina approaching him "Calak...I'm afraid I won't be joining you in this fight."

Calak nodded understandably as Boxey, Athena, and Elloe approached. "I understand dear, someone needs to look after these three rascals."

Elloe looked around, trying to find the third person, only to realize a second later it was her, "Hey! I'm not a rascal!" She laughed, hugging Calak "Stay safe big brother..."

Calak hugged back and let her go as Athena walked up to him "Stay safe daddy!"

He pulled Athena into a hug and smiled "Keep an eye on Boxey for me."

"Okay" she giggled

Boxey hugged his daddy's leg "I wish I could go with you..."

Calak smiled "Hey, I need a warrior here to protect our family, that's why you're staying."

Serina ruffled her son's hair "Please don't go, Boxey I need you to protect me!"

"Okay Mama!" Boxey smiled "I'll keep them safe...don't worry."

Calak gave his family a group hug, then Elloe led the children back to the safety of the camp and Serina

stood awkwardly, thinking of something to say as her pulse pounded in her ears.

Who needs words? She thought, before pulling Calak down for a kiss.

Unlike the soft kisses Calak had grown used to, this kiss was hungry and emotion-filled. Calak responded with equal enthusiasm, pressing her body up against his as he kissed back. The kiss was filled with words and emotions they didn't have time to say, or weren't ready to admit to one another just yet. It did confirm one thing however...they loved each other.

They pulled back after a long while, both gasping for air. "Stay safe and come back" Serina ordered.

Calak nodded "Yes ma'am" he then walked back to join the archers, and Serina wandered over to Elloe.

Brevan, Zec, Starbuck, Jolly, and Dillon walked up to the castle gates, and except for Brevan all of their hands were tied.

"Hello, mate!" Brevan called up to the Castle "I've captured some deserters"

The MageKnight by the lever smiled "Hey Starbuck, I thought you were dead!"

"Wish I was, it's embarrassing to be captured by one guy! He knocked us out while we were sleeping!" Starbuck responded.

Brevan smiled "Once people start drinking a lot of Ale, you can never tell what's going to happen!"

The Mageknight pulled the lever and opened the gates, "Good work friend, I'm sure the King will want to speak with you."

Brevan led his 'prisoners' into the Castle and heard the gates close behind him as three ordinary soldiers walked up to him.

Three non-banded soldiers, one Mageknight, this is going to be easy.

Brevan drew his sword "If you don't mind, I'd like to finish them off..."

The three soldiers looked around, "I don't see why not?"

"Yeah, it'll take too much money and time to organize their execution."

The third soldier looked towards the keep "The king can't be bothered with this, let him do it."

Brevan nodded "Thank you gentlemen!" He began spinning his sword around himself, transferring the blade from hand to hand and moving the blade up his body and his arms, before he began swinging the blade around the prisoners, just barely nicking their skin with his blade. He did this for a while, before ending his little show with a salute and a bow.

The soldiers clapped "Nice bladework friend!"

Brevan held up a hand "Wait for it, wait for it...Now!"

The ropes fell from the wrists of the four soldiers, cut clean off by Brevan's display, and they leapt forward, just as more soldiers came out of the barracks attracted by the display.

Zac punched one of the soldiers in the face and lunged for the man's sword, grabbing the hilt and wrestling the owner for control of the blade.

Starbuck kicked a soldier in the stomach and grabbed the soldier's spear whacking the man on the back with the wooden rod.

Jolly was just getting the feeling back in his wrists as two soldiers rushed towards him. He ducked the first one's sword thrust and shoved both guards into one another, knocking them both to the ground.

Dillon charged towards a soldier, but received a punch in the face. He rolled backward towards a weapon rack and smiled "Hey look swords!" He seized a blade and turned to face the soldier, who had drawn his sword. He lashed out and knocked the soldier's blade away before whacking the soldier on the head with the hilt of the sword.

Alarm bells began ringing as more soldiers rushed out of building with swords and spears drawn, accompanied by Mageknights.

Starbuck turned to Brevan, who was already halfway up the stairs to where the lever was, "Get that gate open!"

Brevan rushed up the stairs and towards the Mageknight guarding the lever, he kept up his speed and rammed his shoulder into the MageKnight knocking him off the wall.

He smiled "Mageknights aren't that hard."

Brevan rushed towards the lever and began pulling it, groaning as it gave way and the gates began to open.

Calak saw the gates begin to open and drew his bow back as the miner army began to surge forward.

"Charge!"

Someone screamed that one word and the whole army surged forward with greater speed, rushing inside of the gates, whooping war cries as they smashed into the ranks of the guards. Calak skidded to a stop, along with the rest of the archers, and they opened fire.

Arrows whistled through the air, and the King's forces collapsed and their charge fell to a halt.

Calak watched a soldier go down to his arrow as the two sides clashed, melee fighters rushing towards one another as the clash of steel and the sound of magical attacks filled the air. MageKnights began hurling magic: Ice, fire, light, and wind were thrown at the miners, many of whom responded in kind.

Ortega was dueling a Mageknight who had only one orange band on his arm, but even that was giving him trouble as the MageKnight ducked and dodged his attacks and then lunged forward bringing his blade down onto Ortega's with the strength of three men. Ortega tried to copy the MageKnight's strategy, but every time he dodged and tried to gain a little breathing room, the MageKnight just kept hounding him.

Until finally Tigh stepped away from his own battle to lend a hand, rushing behind the MageKnight and kicking him in the back. The knight stumbled forward and Ortega stabbed with his sword, killing his opponent.

"Thanks Tigh, glad you saved my...look out!"

Tigh spun as a soldier snuck up behind him, jabbing at him with a spear. He parried the blow with the twin swords he was using and kicked the soldier away, smiling as he felt Ortega stand back to back with him.

"Let's show these men what soldiers can do!" Tigh exclaimed as they fended off attacks from all sides.

The rest of the miners were fighting pretty well, with most of them holding their own against the Mageknights. Weapons clashed, arrows were shot from battlements, and all twelve elements of magic were on display...from low to high levels.

Rocks and other objects were being used as missiles, shadows seemed to come to life and fought alongside their owners, fireballs and ice shards were exploding and colliding in the air, plants were popping out of the ground and wrapping around legs and arms, fist-sized bolts of light were gouging out chunks of flesh and stone, waves of water were disrupting both sides' attempts to rally, and the wind picked up warriors from both sides and tossed them around like toys.

The talking beasts were also fighting alongside their human allies. Eagles picked up loose rocks and dropped them on guards, wolves bit at arms and legs forcing their targets to either drop their weapons or lose their balance, bears stood up on their hind legs and roared to the skies smashing their paws down on the soldiers, the fox sped around the Mageknights, distracting them with his pelt so his allies could finish them off. The rabbits simply hopped around, distracting the soldiers with their cuteness, before turning savage and kicking them in the face. The cougars snarled and lashed out with their claws at any exposed skin or thin clothing, and the rats realized that they were in over their heads and scurried off to the nearest building.

Brie held a war-axe in one hand and was fighting two soldiers, weaving her weapon around their swords with ease and chopping at their arms. Just as she was finishing them off, an arrow arced down from the battlements above her and finished the job. She spun to see several more soldiers with bows aiming down at her. "Find cover!" She screamed before leaping behind a wooden cart as arrows began to rain down. The miners near her did the same, some returning fire with bows or magic, but they were effectively pinned down.

Brevan could see the line of archers firing down into the crowd, and knew they couldn't be left unchecked. The area around me is clear, for now...I've got to help them!"

He raced over the battlements, always keeping one eye on the lever that controlled the gates. If that gate was closed, the miners couldn't get out.

Brevan ran into the line of archers, who turned and fired their bows at him. He raised his shield and the arrows pinged and broke when they hit the metal, he charged forward...using his momentum like a battering ram. The first three archers were knocked off the wall, and the others drew their swords.

Brie peeked out from behind the cart, seeing that the danger was over. "Come on!" She yelled as she led the miners back into the battle, confident that Brevan could handle himself.

She was almost right in that assumption. There were about twenty archers on the wall and they could only come at him two at a time. He parried their blows with his shield and began slicing and hacking at them, killing four before he turned back to the lever.

He saw a guard climbing up the steps towards it, and all the miners and beasts were fighting in the courtyard, if the guard shut the gates...

"No!" Brevan took off at a run and the remaining archers seized their bows and opened fire. Arrows skimmed past him, two sticking into his clothing, and one jammed into his shoulder, causing him to stumble.

He regained his footing and charged forward towards the guard, who was wrestling with the lever. The guard heard his footsteps and spun, sword drawn.

Brevan stopped and parried the guard's first strike with ease, he counterattacked only to find that the guard's sword blocked his. The two danced along the battlements, with one of them always keeping their body between the lever and their opponent. Finally Brevan pressed his blade to his opponents and twisted his wrist, disarming his foe before finishing the fight with a strong punch to the face.

He then yanked the lever back to the way it was and waited for anyone else to try to grab it.

A Mageknight rushed towards a large wooden building that seemed to be wobbling on its foundation, and screamed an order to another Mageknight "Release the trolls! Now!"

The MageKnights rushed forward and opened the door before leaping out of the way as four man sized trolls rushed out, wearing crude battle armor and carrying two handed axes and hammers, they rushed into the battle, shoving miners and soldiers alike aside.

The Mageknight who had given the order to release the trolls was wearing four silver bands and reached out into the trolls' minds. "Attack the miners!" He ordered.

The trolls suddenly lost all interest in the soldiers and MageKnights, turning their attention to the miners.

Calak jabbed an arrow into the shoulder of a guard who had gotten too close and saw the trolls, fighting and overpowering the miners. He rushed forward towards the closest troll, and fired a fire arrow at its feet.

The arrow exploded and the troll scurried backward as the sparks faded. Calak slung his bow over his back and drew his knives, leaping upward and locking his arms around the troll's neck. He reached out and jabbed one of his knives into the troll's neck, feeling warm blood run down his arm. Calak smiled, wishing Serina were here to see him wrestling this troll, and winning!

Calak pulled his knife out and lashed out again, knowing that the effects of his fire arrow would only last a bit longer before the troll's regenerative abilities kicked in again. The troll jerked his head and Calak went flying, rolling to a stop a few feet away. He turned to the miners "Alright everyone with fire abilities engage the trolls! Everyone else steer clear!"

He ran back to his troll and slashed at its tough skin, but his arrow's effects had worn off and the skin was beginning to knit itself back together faster than he could cut it. He ducked a swipe of the massive battle axe and kept stabbing at the skin.

Fortunately his call had been heeded and several miners with red bands stepped up and began hurling fireballs at the trolls, knocking them backward. Calak smiled and was about to finish his troll off when a flash of familiar movement caught his eye.

The LightMage!

Calak instantly forgot about the trolls as he turned to see the LightMage who had kidnapped Elloe in the midst of the fighters. Rage suddenly filled him...Elloe had never told anyone, but she'd been suffering from nightmares about the kidnapping, and would often come to Calak in the middle of the night crying. He always held her and told her it would be okay, but no matter how many times he did this...she still would be upset.

Calak let out a scream of rage and the LightMage turned to see him, waving his hands and sending bullets of light at the hunter.

Calak ducked the bolts of light and fired an explosive arrow at the Lightmage's feet, leaping forward as the LightMage stumbled backwards. He fired his first white arrow directly at the LightMage's leg and smiled at the scream of pain.

The LightMage stood up and looked down at the arrow, feeling his powers suddenly vanish.

Calak smiled "That's one of my white arrows...it's delivering a pulse into your bloodstream, and its disabling the connection you have with your bands! You won't be using your powers for quite a while!"

The LightMage turned to run, but Calak threw his bolas and entangled the Mage's legs, tripping him again. "You don't get to run anymore!"

The Mage scooped up a sword and charged towards Calak, desperation fueling his strikes. Calak shouldered his bow and drew his knives, parrying the sloppy strikes with ease. He ducked a slash and swung his knife up, stabbing the mage in the stomach, but purposely missing anything vital. I'm going to make you feel as much pain as possible before you die bastard!

Calak shoved the Mage forward, blocking more swings with his blades. Neither one of the men were experts with blades, but Calak had used his knives before, where it was obvious the Mage had never picked up a sword in his life. Calak pressed his knives to the Mage's sword and flicked them upward, causing the blade to leave the Mage's hand.

Calak quickly stepped behind the LightMage and stabbed downward slicing at the man's arm, he relished hearing the yelp of pain and was determined to hear more. Elloe didn't deserve to be taken! Didn't deserve to have nightmares! Didn't deserve to have that memory in her mind!

He shoved the Mage down and held up his knife intending to finish the man off, unfortunately the effects of the arrow were starting to wear off and the Mage was starting to regain his powers. Enough so that a forcefield was able to come up between him and Calak, throwing the man backward.

Calak started to get up, groping for his knives, but the Mage leapt on top of him and pinned his arms down, wrapping his hands around Calak's throat. "I'm going to kill you!" The Mage screamed "You and then your sister!"

Calak grabbed in the dirt for his knife, finally locking his fingers around it "You don't threaten my Family!" He yelled, before jabbing the knife into the Mage's side burying it to the hilt.

The LightMage's eyes widened and a death rattle sounded in his throat as he fell off of Calak, dead to the world.

Calak stood and kicked the body one last time for empathsis before sheathing his knives and redrawing his bow, seeing that the miners and talking beasts were forcing the King's men into the various buildings.

Brevan stood by the lever, surrounded by the bodies of four soldiers and two MageKnights who had attempted to reach it. He saw miners pursuing their foes into the buildings and his inner wolf roared, wanting to join the chase, but his human mind remained in control and he remained by the lever.

"Charge!"

Brie screamed that one word as she led several miners, including Tigh, into the barracks. MageKnights retreated from the attack and Brie rushed forward after them, ready to extract revenge for all the years stolen from her in the mines.

The miners rushed down a long hallway, ready to confront their foes down at the end of it, when a MageKnight with three red bands appeared at the end with two fireballs in his hands. Before the miners could even realize the danger, the fireballs were thrown.

Brie screamed as the fire shredded her legs, and the miners behind her were turned to ash as the hallway began to burn. Tigh rushed forward and hurled one of his swords at the MageKnight, and the blade buried itself into the MageKnight's chest. He scooped up Brie and rushed outside of the now burning building, gently laying her burned body on the ground.

"Brie? Are you alright?" Tigh asked, frantically looking around for a poison mage to heal her. Brie grabbed his hand and shook her head "It...hurts...Tigh..."

Brie squeezed his hand and her voice got lower and lower "I'm sorry...we lost our chance...I love..."

Tigh knelt by her mouth, barely hearing the last word "you."

Tigh stood up and charged back into the battle in the courtyard, destroying everything in his way.

In the great hall, Starbuck and his men were fighting several soldiers and beating them easily, until a MageKnight with three silver bands rushed into the room, picking up the large table with telekinesis and hurling it at the four men.

"Duck!" Zac screamed, seeing the table first. He managed to leap out of the way, but the other three men were pinned to the wall by the massive oaken table.

The MageKnight began attacking Zac with his sword, and Zac ducked the blows. "Guys, get out from under that table and help me!"

Starbuck groaned "We're trying, but this table is deceptively heavy! Dillon, Jolly use your legs! Push men!"

Zac parried an attack from the MageKnight and swung his sword, which clanged off the Knight's armor. Great even when we sparred I couldn't beat a MageKnight on my own!

He kept fighting on the defensive, wondering how he was going to do this, until a flash of movement above him caught his eye.

There was a massive chandelier just above the dining hall and the three mice were busy gnawing through the ropes.

An idea flashed through Zac's head and he swung his sword much more aggressively, knocking the Mageknight around, muttering to himself. "A little to the left, a little to the right, a bit to the back and now!"

He leapt clear as the last rope snapped and the chandelier fell. The Mageknight had time for one scream before the chandelier fell on top of him, splintering as it crashed to the ground. Zac laughed and moved to help the men with the table, finding that it was deceptively heavy.

Once they managed to roll it back they turned at the sounds of more soldiers and Mageknights rushing into the room, attracted by the noise.

"Sorry!" Starbuck smiled "Fight's over!"

The four men shoved the table towards the group of enemies, knocking the front rank down as they rushed back out to the courtyard.

The other miners were finding difficulty in the close quarters of buildings, whether they fought in bloody melee combat, or hurling magic and arrows at one another. The miners were losing the battles and were forced to retreat outside.

Brevan was leading the Talking Beasts that remained in the courtyard to battle against the King's men who were attempting to seize the lever. He had summoned Solomon and Sheba and they were fighting with Saul, Cassie, and Muffy to keep enemies from climbing the stairs. "You men are not getting to this lever!" He yelled.

He saw miners rushing out of buildings, fewer miners than had gone into the buildings. The battle in the courtyard resumed with the miners fighting for their lives.

A silver banded Mageknight stood on the roof of the keep, with the King behind him cloaked in shadow. "Close that gate now." The King ordered.

The Mageknight nodded and reached out with telekinesis, grabbing the lever and beginning to pull the gate closed...

Brevan turned to see the lever moving on its own and he leapt towards it seizing the lever and pulling back. "No!" He groaned...If this gate closes, any chance of us escaping is gone!

He began wrestling with the lever, pulling with all his strength against the unknown force, managing to keep the lever still, just barely.

The King watched this human intently, he was unlike the other miners...and no ordinary human could outfight a MageKnight's magical abilities. He was dangerous...

"Kill him and close the gate!" The King ordered before walking back into the keep.

The Mageknight levitated a small stone that was in front of him and sent it flying across the battlefield towards the back of Brevan's head.

Thunk!

The stone flew into Brevan's head, remarkably not killing him but instead knocking him unconscious.

Saul saw his best friend slump over the lever and let out a howl, rushing towards his friend. Cass, Muffy, Solomon, and Sheba did the same. The five wolves ran up the stairs and circled their master protectively, letting out growls that intimidated the guards and kept them away from the stairs. Saul looked around and saw the keep.

"Carry him into that building! He's still alive!" Saul ordered.

Saul, Cass, and Muffy grabbed his clothing and began dragging him towards the keep, while Solomon and Sheba growled at the guards, keeping them away from their master.

The keep's door was still open and the wolves dragged their master through placing him against a wall. "Brevan, wake up! Please we can't carry you!" Saul begged, hoping he could be heard.

Tigh was fighting with the last troll, ducking the massive stone warhammer that the monster swung at him. His swords carved into the troll's flesh, which seemed to heal almost instantly from his blows.

"Hang on Tigh!"

The shout came from Ortega as he grabbed a nearby torch and rushed towards the troll, holding the flame near the wounds, so the skin blackened and burned and the blood oozed and bubbled. Tigh kept slashing and carving out chunks of troll flesh, and Ortega swung the torch burning the wounds.

Finally the troll stopped trying to attack Tigh and swung the hammer towards Ortega. Who ducked and dodged the blow badly. The hammer collided with the ground by the miner's leg and Ortega fell to the ground, The troll swung his weapon towards Ortega ready to pound the man into a pulp.

Tigh leapt forward and stood in the path of the warhammer, taking the blow to defend his friend. He grunted as the hammer crushed his side. He fell forward and lay face down, remaining still.

Ortega thrust the torch at the troll, fending it off with fire as he turned his friend over. "Help we need a poison mage! Help!"

Tigh grabbed Ortega's arm "It's alright...finally get to be...with Brie...thanks my friend."

Tigh closed his eyes and died, and Ortega stood with fury in his eyes. He rushed the troll, swinging his torch and jabbing with the sword. He slashed the troll's throat and watched the dark blood begin to see out, shoving the torch at the wound. The blood boiled and turned black as the troll fell to the ground dead.

Ortega closed his friend's eyes and rushed back into the battle, seeing Calak pounding on the gate.

"They closed it!" He yelled "Why can't we push it open?"

"The Kings of the Valley designed their castle gates so that the one lever and that lever only could open the gate. We're trapped in here."

"What kind of a king designs a castle like this!" Calak roared, pounding on the gate harder.

He turned around to see the miners fighting for their lives, and losing...

"We need to come up with a plan or fall back!" Calak screamed.

Ortega followed the archer back into battle "We can't fall back or all the men and women we led here will die!"