Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Castle Rajikline: Part One

            A dark silhouette stood on the broken down guard tower and starred across the moat at the castle. In terms of castles, it was not very big, but it was one of the best built and most heavily defended in the whole realm. Covering just a quarter mile square of ground, it had more than 200 soldiers to patrol its walls and guard it. To assault the castle with an army would have been suicide. A moat prevented access to the wall, meaning that the army would be trapped across the water with nothing to do except be hit by javelins and rocks flung by the siege machinery on the walls as well as the arrows from the archers stationed in the castle towers. If, by some miracle, the army was able to cross the moat, they would be rained down upon by caldrons of boiling oil and large boulders, a very effective defense indeed. There was a reason that the devices that allowed for this direct assault form above were called 'murder holes.'

            But for as much trouble as it would be to get within the castle walls, the real danger to the army would begin once they had done this for to breach the walls was not to gain access to them. The walls had but three gateways of entry, three bridges stretching from the central keep to the outer wall. So now that the attacking army is in the city, if it is not able to get ladders up against the walls, it must still breach the keep to be able to attack the archers stationed in towers and along the wall. The problem now would be that the keep is itself a fortress that is not to be scoffed at. The walls are all thick and though there are four entrances, they are all heavily fortified with dual portcullises at each gate. To gain entrance to the keep, both portcullises at a single gate would have to be breached. The outer of the two would be difficult as the attackers would be peppered with arrows from all angles from the archers still stationed on the wall and in the towers there. Also, archers stationed in the keep itself would finally be able to fire on the attackers as well so to drop things on them from above. The only advantage that the attackers would have would be that the defenders would stop pouring boiling oil on them for fear of starting the castle's buildings on fire.
            Assuming the case of a well prepared and very determined army, the attackers would get a battering ram to one of the keep's gates and begin to work at the outer portcullis. The attackers would probably have some sort of defense for their battering ram and though the defenders poured arrows and such into them, they would still succeed in smashing the outer gate to the point that it simply fell from the stone that it was built into. Thinking that they had practically breached the castle, the attackers would wrestle the bent and mangled portcullis from the keep and throw it to the side. Then they would rush their battering ran under the arch that separated the outer and inner gates, across a grate with holes so small that the attackers wouldn't even notice, and to the inner gate. Thinking they were home free, protected as they were from the archers outside, they would prepare to demolish the inner gate. This one consisted of two large double doors made of iron banded oak with a portcullis that dropped down in front. It was stronger, but it would fall as the first one had. But just as the ram was rushing toward the gate for the first strike, gallons of boiling oil would stream from above, scalding and killing everyone and everything in its path. As it hit the ground, it would spill through the grate and fill a large, metal containment vessel. A system of pipes and pumps would carry it back above the gate where it would be re-heated and the whole process would start again.
            At this point, most armies would be demolished, demoralized, and ready to retreat, but, if by some miracle, the attackers in question regrouped and managed to get past the inner gate, they were far from taking the keep. They still needed to reach the third story before they could even think about getting out onto the walls where the archers were stationed, but the whole inside of the keep was designed to prevent that from happening. With each floor designed in such a way that those above it could look down and fire into it, the assent would be tricky at best. Once one the third floor, the attackers would still have to deal with the 200 defenders who knew the best ways to use the choke points and vantage points of the keep and walls. An army this size trained as the defenders had been was no joke in any situation but fighting them on their own turf would be next to impossible.

            And if, by random chance or some miracle, the attackers did manage to overcome the defending troops, they still had to deal with the top two stories of the keep. What would await them there? No one knew for no one had come close to ever breaching the fourth or fifth floors of the keep of Castle Rajikline.

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