A Memory of Light Page 255

He turned toward Tam. "Are you ready to soften them up for us, archer?"

"I think we can manage that", Tam replied.

Lan nodded, then raised his sword. A Malkieri man at his side raised the Golden Crane high. And then they charged right up that slope. Coming toward them was a huge enemy army spread out in wide ranks across the landscape, the sky lit up by the thousands of torches they carried.

Tam al’Thor shouted for his men to line up and fire. "Loose!" Tam yelled, sending flights of arrows at the Sharans.

Then arrows began to be returned in their direction, now that the distance between the two armies had narrowed. Arganda figured that the archers wouldn’t be nearly as accurate in the darkness as they might have been by day—but that would be true for both sides.

The Two Rivers men released a wave of death, arrows as fast as diving falcons.

"Hold!" Tam yelled to his men. They stopped firing just in time for Lan’s cavalry to hit the softened Sharan lines.

Where did Tam get his battle experience? Arganda thought, thinking of the times he’d seen Tam fight. Arganda had known seasoned generals with far less sense of a battlefield than this sheepherder.

The Borderlanders pulled back, letting Tam and his men loose more arrows. Tam signaled to Arganda.

"Let’s go!" Arganda called to his foot soldiers. "All companies, forward!"

The one-two attack of archers and heavy cavalry was powerful, but it had limited advantage, once the enemy set their defenses. Soon the Sharans would get a solid shield-and-spear wall up to deflect the horsemen, or the archers would pick them off. That’s where the infantry came in.

Arganda unhooked his mace—those Sharans wore chain mail and leather—and raised it high, leading his men across the Heights, meeting the Sharans halfway, as they’d advanced to engage. Tams troops were Whitecloaks, Ghealdanin, Perrin's Wolf Guard and the Mayener Winged Guard, but they viewed themselves as one army. Not six months ago, Arganda would have sworn on his father’s grave that men such as these would never fight together—let alone come to one another’s aid, as the Wolf Guard did when the Whitecloak forces were being overrun.

Some Trollocs could be heard howling and began moving up alongside the Sharans. Light! Trollocs, too?

Arganda swung his mace until his arm burned, then switched hands and kept going, breaking bones, smashing hands and arms until Mighty’s coat was flecked with blood.

Flashes of light suddenly launched from the opposite end of the Heights toward the Andorans defending below. Arganda barely noted it, consumed by the fighting as he was, but something inside of him whimpered. Demandred must have resumed his attack.

"I have defeated your brother, Lews Therin!" The voice boomed across the battlefield, loud as a crack of thunder. "He dies now, bleeding away his mortality!"

Arganda danced Mighty back, turning as a hulking Trolloc with an almost-human face shoved away the wounded Sharan beside it and bellowed. Blood streamed from a cut on its shoulder, but it didn’t seem to notice. It twisted, heaving a short-chained flail with a head like a log covered in spikes.

The flail crashed to the ground right beside Mighty, spooking the horse. As Arganda fought for control, the immense Trolloc stepped forward and punched with its offhand, slamming a ham fist into the side of Mighty’s head, knocking the horse to the ground.

"Have you any care for the flesh of this birth?" Demandred thundered in the distance. "Share you any love for the one who named you brother, this man in white?"

Mighty’s head had cracked like an egg. The horse’s legs spasmed and jerked. Arganda hauled himself to his feet. He didn’t remember leaping free as the horse fell, but his instincts had preserved him. Unfortunately, his roll had taken him away from his guards, who fought for their lives against a group of Sharans.

His men were advancing, and the Sharans were getting slowly pushed back. He didn’t have time to look, though. That Trolloc was on him.

Arganda hefted his mace and looked up at the towering beast before him, whipping its flail over its head as it stepped over the dying horse.

Never had Arganda felt so small.

"Coward!" Demandred roared. "You name yourself savior of this land? I claim that title! Face me! Do I need to kill this kin of yours to draw you out?"

Arganda took a deep breath, then leaped forward. He figured that was the last thing the Trolloc would anticipate. Indeed, the beast’s swing went wide. Arganda scored a solid crack at its side, his mace hitting the Trollocs pelvis, crushing bone.

Then the thing backhanded him. Arganda saw white, and the sounds of battle faded. Screaming, pounding of feet, yelling. Screams and yells. Yells and screams . . . Nothing.

Sometime later—he didn’t know how long—he felt himself being lifted up. The Trolloc? He blinked, intent on at least spitting in the face of his killer, only to find himself being hauled into the saddle behind al’Lan Mandragoran.

"I’m alive?" Arganda said. A wave of pain across his left side informed him that yes, indeed, he was.

"You felled a big one, Ghealdanin", Lan said, spurring his horse to a gallop toward their rear lines. The other Borderlanders were riding with them, Arganda saw. "The Trolloc hit you in its death throes. I thought you were dead, but I could not come for you until we had pushed them back. We would have been hard pressed if that other army hadn’t surprised the Sharans".

"Other army?" said Arganda, rubbing his arm.

"Cauthon had an army lying in wait on the northern side of the Heights. By the looks of it, Dragonsworn and a banner of cavalry, probably part of the Band. About the time you were tussling with that Trolloc, they fell on the Sharan’s left flank, breaking them all apart. It’s going to take them a while to regroup".

"Light", Arganda said, then groaned. He could tell his left arm was broken. Well, he lived. Good enough for now. He looked toward the front lines where his soldiers still held their ranks. Queen Alliandre rode in their midst, back and forth through the ranks, encouraging them. Light. He wished she’d been willing to serve at the hospital in Mayene.

There was peace here at the moment—the Sharans had been hit hard enough that they had pulled back, leaving a section of ground open between the opposing armies. They probably hadn’t been expecting such a sudden and strong attack.

But wait. Shadows approached from Arganda’s right, oversized figures walking from the darkness. More Trollocs? He set his jaw against the pain. He’d dropped his mace, but he still had his boot knife. He’d not go down wi

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