Graham had just received the report that the north wall had been breached when he pushed his way through the flickering flames of the forest. The two tankers had been a surprise and had accounted for nearly seventy of his soldiers in their initial blasts but had managed to trap nearly two hundred more behind a wall of flame. He had lost another forty as he had commanded them through. He still had all ten of his torchbearers with him as he entered the field and watched as his troops began their push against the nearly two-story tall gate that barred his entrance into Boulder City. Graham walked around the corpses of his fallen soldiers as they crossed the killing field, his opponents firing concentrated on the immediate threat that was trying to breach the wall. He stood back and watched the wall shift beneath the press of bodies until finally the last volley of cannonballs flew overhead, smashing more sections of the wall apart, and drawing the defenders attention just long enough for the massive gate to shift a few inches inward.
The casualties so far had been immense, but he still had almost twenty five hundred soldiers on this front alone, and pretty soon the defenders would find themselves sandwiched by the force from the northern wall. He felt the loss of a few more soldiers as they were killed when the remaining townspeople managed kill closest of his army and pull the gate shut again. It was then that the pull of his soldiers deaths at the northern gate became overpowering. He crouched amidst his torchbearers and shifted his focus, looking for an injured soldier lying in the street far removed from the battle. He found one and managed to will the body to sit up. He watched as the white limned army slammed into his troops again causing even more deaths.
“Tartarus, is that you?” The Pennyman asked, from where he stooped over a nearby corpse.
Graham growled, trying to pick out details of who this new threat was attacking his soldiers..
“I’ll take that as a yes. What do you think of my brothers handiwork?” The Pennyman asked, taking a step closer and attending to the next body.
“Damn it, Nyx told me that Acmon had not brought his souls up here.” He could hear the cheer that was sweeping the remaining band of ragged and worn out defenders who finally realized that the new enemy was in fact an ally. “Who are they?”
“Just the broken ones you have left in your wake,” The Pennyman said, adding “But I must go, many more of your soldiers are dying. I have a long night ahead of me.” He continued on to the next corpse, ignoring the curses coming from the mouth of the body Tartarus now occupied.
Graham growled again and tried to pursue his closer nephew but the body he was in would not move. It was only then that he looked down at the holes the machine gun had ripped through his legs. He felt the final life force ebbing from the body and he left it, shifting back to his own body. One of his torchbearers lay on the ground beside him bleeding from a chest wound, but his own body remained in tact. “Forward.” He said and they resumed their march. He sent a call to his cannoneers, who should be preparing to join the fight in earnest, and requested that they push one of the cannons down as they came.
More of his men died as they fought to open the gate with little success until the cannon arrived. The heavy metal cylinder was lifted off of its cart and turned into a battering ram, the hollow end making short work of the heavy wooden gate. Once the hole had been punched through, larger chunks of wood were torn , costing Graham even more soldiers as the defenders shot through the new opening.
With nearly two thousand soldiers left, the gate finally crumbled and his men began to pour inside but for every three men that made it through, one more fell, but the defenders were also beginning to suffer there first real casualties of the fight. He heard the word “Duck” yelled over the gunfire and watched as his foes jumped backwards and covered their eyes, blocking out the intense light from the explosive that went off in the midst of his own soldiers at the gate. Another forty dead or mortally injured, he felt the first pangs of fear. He had nothing else in reserve and he ordered his men to fight harder, and fight they did.
He pressed forward and soon he and his torchbearers were through the gate, ringed by his remaining army. Many of the defenders had fallen back to positions within or atop nearby buildings. They decimated the small pocket of men and women who remained in the yard, ignoring their requests for surrender and mercy.
Graham addressed two of his torchbearers, sending them atop the wooden wall, and setting it on fire. The dry wood caught quickly and soon the barricade of cars was crowned by a wall of flames. Waiting for the two men to rejoin his personal entourage, he tried again to shift back to the northern border but could not find a live soul anywhere. Cursing again, he called for his men to pick up burning pieces of the wall and beginning the burning of the city. They thrust the burning timbers into the windows of the buildings, driving their opponents deeper into the city, their flight punctuated by the screams of men and women burning alive, or jumping from roofs in an effort to save themselves.
Graham came across the writhing form of one such man, clutching at a leg that was bent at an awkward angle halfway down the femur and smiled.
“Please! Help me.” The unfortunate man said.
“Certainly,” Smiled Graham as he leaned forward and clasped the man’s head, wrenching it hard to the left and breaking his neck. “Enjoy the afterlife.” Graham said over his shoulder as he marched on.