Lest some have forgotten, the new volume of The Tennis Shoes Adventure Series is very much underway. Estimates of completion or release? I dunno. But I gotta get 'er done soon to feed my family. I'm not saying the picture below is an accurate representation of uniforms, weapons, warhorses, or other images from Cumorah. Or even that it accurately represents what I describe in "Thorns of Glory." But hey, having a cool picture is better than having NO cool picture.
The following scene is written from the point of view of Marcos:
Young Commander Moronihah's voice rang like an alarm. "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!"
Officers echoed this command all along the fortification line. The air whipped around me—the snap of bowstrings, the whirl of slings, the launch of atlatl darts. Torches carried by the advancing soldiers—flames that had been bouncing toward the wall—began to drop, roll, and extinguish in the dirt. Many were retrieved by fresh warriors and seemed to miraculously reanimate. Enemy soldiers were dying, but the relentless onrush of torches created the illusion that Moronihah's defense was having no effect at all. Even as the Tarantula Division reloaded and fired I perceived the first shades of dread darken their eyes. Two young warriors could not contain themselves: "They're not stopping!" "Nothing stops them!"
Endless torches poured over the lip of the ridge, an infinite flood of fire surging toward the Nephite fortifications. I'd told Moronihah that the enemy likely outnumbered him three- or four-to-one. I'd known I was deliberately underestimating their strength. Was I trying to bolster his hopes? I couldn't define my motive. Anyway, the reality of my distortion was quickly being exposed.
A volley of return fire whistled overhead, thudding against the wall, many arrow and atlatl tips set alight. A strange crack and pop also impacted the fortifications, causing an explosion of fire unlike any burning arrow or spearhead. The residue splashed onto unprotected faces and bear skin of the Nephite soldiers, inducing screams of panic. One of these munitions missed, lobbing over the top of the wall, rolling harmlessly to a stop ten paces behind me. It was a rounded clay ball, surely flung by a slinger, a tiny flame spitting from a hole in the top. I braced myself, aghast to think the Teotihuacanos had invented a kind of 20th century shrapnel-filled grenade. After several beats the flame fizzled; the ball lay dormant. It hadn't been designed to explode spontaneously. These hollow globes—tennis-ball sized—combusted on impact, like a water balloon, its contents spreading orange and yellow swaths like Molotov cocktails. I marveled. Did the Nephite army employ such a weapon?
An arrow threaded the embrasure a few feet to my left, piercing the stomach of the Nephite archer stationed there. He howled and fell. I grabbed up his bow and snatched an arrow from his nearby stockpile. I nocked and fired, nocked and fired.
The Tarantula Captain's young voice was firm and steady. "Keep firing! Keep firing!"
Atop the wall, I heard one of Moronihah's officers: "Kill every cockroach of Lord Fireborn!"
Cockroaches versus tarantulas—the irony flitted across my mind. Within minutes these roaches would overwhelm the arachnids. Many of Teotihuacano's flaming arrows struck stone or plaster or skidded into the mud, but the clay grenades were brutally effective. Wood easily caught flame wherever it had been left exposed, especially along the highest ramparts. I watched a Nephite soldier whose uniform was splattered by flammable liquid frantically twirl and spin, but such movements transformed him into a human torch. He flung himself into the air, still alight as he hit the ground, squirming in agony. Comrades threw blankets on him, but gruff-voiced officers shouted to "Leave the dead to die!" Their efforts were turned to smothering the growing conflagration along the ramparts.