This is the draft of the prologue of Halls of Power!
The shriek of metal striking metal split the air, and Reva cringed at how harsh the sound was. His ears didn’t appreciate it in the slightest, but what he was seeing completely outweighed his discomfort. Two dozen golems had just slammed into the front lines of one of Kelvanis’ orc legions like juggernauts. Reva had been impressed by the sight of the golems to begin with, but until now he hadn’t really understood just how dangerous the constructs were. The attacking force had completely shattered the front lines of the orc horde. Fearless and massive, each golem was stronger than an ox and incredibly tough as they unflinchingly carved their way into the enemy army.
No elven force could clash directly with orcs in melee like that. The porcine orcs tended to be between six and eight feet in height and both enormously muscular and tough. By comparison, though dusk elves were about as tall as a human was, they were also thinner and smaller of frame, tending to be faster and frailer. The sheer difference in strength between an elf and orc was what made a direct clash so deadly. Elves couldn’t stand and fight orcs without fortifications, and even then it was difficult. The shock value of an orc army was immense, and had contributed greatly to Kelvanis’ ability to drive Sifaren’s army back over the years.
That was what made the impact of the golems so incredible. A small army had emerged from Kelvanis’ western-most fort to block their return to Sifaren, and the fort had been reinforced without Reva’s knowledge over the winter. Instead of about three companies of orcs and an equal number of human soldiers, the fort instead had five companies of orcs, which had been an unpleasant surprise when the large force had appeared in their path.
Reva’s worries had been somewhat allayed when Alissa and Helia had volunteered to let their golems spearhead the assault. While he knew that one of their intentions was to test the golems against the enemy army, the risks had seemed a bit more reasonable with them in front. In the end, it seemed that his fears of their force getting savaged were entirely unfounded.
The golems cut through the orcs like a maul-axe splitting wood, their halberds painted red as they inexorably advanced. Arrows rained from his archers into the rear ranks of the Kelvanis force, and Reva took a deep breath and held it, his eyes fixed on the enemy as several lightning bolts lanced into the orc lines. He could see the human soldiers behind the orcs wavering, and the knight willed them to break and run.
Colonel Edwin Miller watched the gleaming giants cut through the orcs like a scythe through wheat, the blood draining from his face like the blood was draining from their bodies. The sight left him aghast, and he could see how his troops were wavering in shock.
None of them had ever seen an orc company take so many casualties before. It was unheard of in their battles with Sifaren, and he instantly knew it was because of the constructs. What frustrated him was that, despite their obvious power, there were so damned few of the war machines! They could take on a few opponents at a time, but on their own they wouldn’t be such a massive threat. The problem was that they were blocking a direct assault on the elves, which gave their opponents a chance to stand and fight, and to use their archery and magical prowess to their full potential. The resulting carnage was absolutely devastating to the morale of his soldiers.
Nearly a quarter of the five hundred orcs were dead or injured, and the remainder were, to his shock, actually starting to fall back. So Colonel Edwin found himself facing a difficult decision. For a long, long moment he hesitated, watching what was happening.
Finally he spat out the words he had been mulling over for the past few minutes. “Sound the retreat.”
As the horns blared, he winced as his soldiers began to move hastily, almost eagerly, at the command. He muttered under his breath, tugging at his mustache nervously. “Where in the hells did they get monsters like that?”