It seemed to happen in slow motion.  We rushed forward in the torrents of rain, muscles springing into action.  Alex called out to nearby soldiers to help defend the breach in the wall, hollering as loud as he could.  Enemy troops began pouring through the gap as we splashed through mud and puddles towards them.  I drew my sword, afire with white light, and plunged into the chaos.

            I blocked spear-thrusts and countered with a holy blow, I dodged the swipe of a sword and then pierced my attacker with God’s love.  Men around me collapsed and then opened their eyes to join our side.  The battle raged on as tears fell from Heaven, soaking us to the skin.  I saw Eve block a man’s attack with her sword, and then stab him in the ribs with her knife in the other hand.   I lost her in the bedlam of struggling bodies, and saw Alexander fighting with poise and skill and fury.  Everywhere lay the dead and dying.

            We fought them back from the wall, at least for the moment.  Our archers had moved into position so that they could fire into the enemy, which forced them to move out of range.  I waved at one archer in thanks, and he lifted his compound bow in salute.  I marvelled at this; sometimes I forgot that these were twenty-first century men.  After all, the battle itself was something out of a medieval siege.

            Alexander put this brief respite to good use, calling for men to block the breach in the wall with sandbags, wooden carts, and anything else they could find to create a makeshift wall.  In the distance we could hear more thunderous explosions, indicating to us that our foes were attempting to create more breaches in the wall with their catapults.

            “This is bad.”  Genevieve said, leaning against Alexander as we rested on their porch.  “They outnumber us, and if they start attacking from multiple sides there’s no way we can keep them out of the city.”

            Gwen and Zoë brought us food and water, doing their part as non-combatants to support the fighters.  My sister sat quietly beside me.  I smiled with thanks as I ate some spiced potatoes and some kind of meat.  I did not bother to ask what it was, afraid that the answer would be dog or horse instead of beef or chicken.  I hated the idea of eating someone’s pet, but knew that it had become necessary since the world had fallen into shadow.

            “If they get in we all die, don’t we?” Gwen asked.

            “Barring a miracle,” Alexander said, somewhat sarcastically.  Then he looked at me, and the sword at my side, “Though perhaps that possibility is not as fantastical a notion as I used to think.”

            “I can’t fight an army single-handed.  I’ve been trying.”  I said, my shoulders still aching from hours of swordplay.  “The best I can manage is one soldier at a time.”

            Alex’s eyes widened as I said this, and he stood up, injected with energy as some idea occurred to him.

            “One at a time!”  He said, almost laughing.  “It’s perfect.”

            “What are you talking about?”  Genevieve asked.

            “Do you remember David and Goliath?  How Goliath challenged the Israelites to a one-on-one duel, winner take all?  Him against their best champion?”  Alexander asked, animated with his insight.

            “Of course I do.  Everyone knows that story.  But there’s no Goliath here, there’s an entire army trying to break in.”  My sister responded.

            “No, but they do have Neal.  And he could never back down from a challenge.”  Alex rushed out into the rain, striding across the muddy street.

            “Where are you going?”  Zoë called out.

            Alexander ran to the breach in the wall, jumping up on top of a wagon and holding onto the wall beside it for balance.  He knew that he was beyond arrow range, but even so he was taking a risk.  We rushed to follow, and as we caught up, Alex began yelling out at the enemy army.  As he began to speak, the rain began to let up, going from pouring torrents to a drizzle and then to nothing during his speech.

            “HEAR ME!  TELL YOUR LEADER THAT I WILL FACE HIM ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE TOMORROW AT DAWN.  MY NAME IS ALEXANDER ROTHROCK AND I CHALLENGE NEAL OSBORNE TO DUEL TO THE DEATH!  IF HE WINS, WE WILL SURRENDER TO HIM.  IF WE WIN, YOU LEAVE!”  Alex hollered into the darkness.

            “Taking quite the risk there, aren’t you?”  Eve asked him sternly, hands on her hips.  I knew that she didn’t want him risking his life.  She loved him, I could understand her concern.

            “It’s a fifty-fifty chance.  That’s better than the certain doom we face when the walls crumble.”  Alex said, walking past her and signalling a guard.  “I’d rather risk my life to save everyone else than do nothing.”

            The guard approached and saluted. 

            “Have pamphlets written with the same message on them that I just shouted.  Fire them on arrows out there, so that we make sure Neal gets them.”  Alex commanded.  The soldier nodded and rushed off.  Alex headed in the opposite direction to check on the stability of the wall in other parts of the city.

            “Is anyone else concerned that he’s the Goliath of this scenario?”  I asked, staring after him.  “Goliath issued the challenge.”

            “Yeah.  And little David kicked his ass.”  Gwen responded.

            Genevieve glared at both of us and headed into the house.

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