The opening gambits were nothing compared to this, many of the warriors in the initial attack had been rotated for the chance to rest, replaced with fresh troops in the front lines, men with a burning rage in their eyes, with another horn signal, the Caledonian lines began launching their attacks again, knowing full well that to them this was the end of the pitiful kingdom that was Azarowa and the start of their reign, commencing their quest to dominate the western kingdoms.
Lord Valon sat on his horse calling orders to his minions, and eyed those who had opposed him and his ancestors for the last two-hundred years. “This is the end of this worthless good-for-nothing kingdom, and the beginning of our reign over these lands, here’s to my ancestors who fell before these people, their revenge along with my own will be everlasting, nothing will keep this from me” he shouted as he brought his sword out of its scabbard, and with that started forward his men.
Similarly Maarten was going about delivering a speech to his own men as the oncoming front ranks of the enemy appeared over the last hill some three hundred meters away. He looked out at his men, gathering his own voice, and called out to them, giving them strength. “Remember what lies ahead of you, don’t be afraid to show your fear, harness it, use it to your advantage as passion for success, look at the men beside you, know that you achieving your goal will give them something to fight for. We fight as one!” Maarten yelled, as chants of “fight” erupted around him, and the lines began to move.
He looked to his side to find Paul his long-time friend, together they had fought in many campaigns together, he couldn’t help but share a little joke with him to calm the nerves. “I wonder Paul…” he began, “was that a bit cliché? A bit, how they say…‘cheesy’?” he asked his friend, “honestly sir? I would say yes.” Paul answered, managing to keep a straight face, then Maarten’s sides starting heaving as he let go the contained laughter, a broad smile on his face.
“It’s gotten their spirits going and fired up their fighting senses, it will do” he added with a mischievous grin.
For the time being, neither side getting the upper hand on the battle, at times one wing of an army would give ground, but a shift in numbers to that side would added further impetus to the defensive position, staying off the advance. As discussed prior, Maarten sent one of his captains forward to take care of proceedings, he trusted the man to make the right to decision to allow a small gap to form in their wall. It wasn’t much longer until he saw the left hand side buckle again under the pressure, he called the next order, for the men to move back to their secondary position, a four note horn blast each reaching a slightly higher pitch than the last, and his men started to give ground, falling back to the safety of their next rank.
The disengage was slow, but methodical, any faster and the enemy may switch focus, keeping them interested and drawing them out, committed to fighting the slowest of the defenders, the squadron of archers were busy controlling the enemy position, dictating their movement to the path they wanted them on, anyone brave enough to stray from that path was quickly removed from the battle.
Aaren and Eamonn watched the move happen. Aaren was to be with another half dozen of the Commissioners on the right flank for their surprise move. It was the dangerous side, the Caledonian’s were in greater number there and Aaren wanted Eamonn close by the bulk of the army, “I’ll take my leave now” Aaren said, slapping Eamonn’s shoulder in encouragement, “stick close by the others, you’ll be safe with them” he told the boy and he was off to aid the right flank.
“Eamonn” it was one of the Azarowan Commissioners, summoning him to join the group, forty men strong with nearly a dozen Commissioners and they would be a prime target for the enemy, they slipped back through the lines, there was a low gully back and to the left of the force, it was there that they would be able to move further up the line and flank the enemy.
They were in position now, waiting on the high banks about fifty meters from the enemy, they would be the first to move out, once they revealed themselves the enemy would turn to face them and seeing the smaller force they would engage them, leaving the left flank open for Aaren and the others to sweep through, or at least that’s what Eamonn was hoping for. “Quiet now” the commander called. Eamonn’s hands were shaking, damp with perspiration, his heart was thumping, his teacher’s words flying around in his mind, trust your judgment and you’ll be fine, it was a mantra that went over and over in his thoughts. A quick signal arrow from the main group was to orchestrate their other flanking maneuver, telling them things were ready to go.
On the other flank, Aaren watched as the archers prepared their first barrage. They sat, waiting for the right time, whereas the left flank had a gully leading to a tall hill, the right flank had a pathway that would lead them directly into the side of the enemy, but they had to time it perfectly, if they were early they would be turned on, if they were late, Eamonn and the others would be wiped out. They were hidden in the trees for the moment, shortly they would form up in their ranks to fire on their enemies. A horn blast was sounded, now was the time to hit the enemy hard.
“That’s the signal, form up and prepare to fire on my command, after the first volley, the rear ranks and pike-men are to charge the enemy, swordsman are to follow after the first sequence” Aaren called the commands quietly, but as he looked around at the soldiers each man grasped the idea. There were no Commissioners with him, just soldiers, the rest of the Commissioners would be busy controlling the battlefield, or what was left of it Aaren thought to himself.
A few seconds passed. They had to time it perfectly, they had to work in unison with the other flanking team. Seeing a brief stutter in the line and the first man over the opposing hill, the man on lookout called them all forwards and immediately Aaren called the order to attack, drew his sword and led the line of attackers.
The sequence of events was fast in the mind of Eamonn, and before he knew the enemy were reaching the archers front lines, and knew that he and his mentor would soon take a hand that he now knew would be a pivotal one, he moved with the other Commissioners, watched as the enemy hit they’re archers head on and made quick work of the light armored soldiers, almost wiping them out to a man, Eamonn moved with the line, looking to intervene in the enemy’s own flanking movements.
Their first volley took out nearly thirty men, all going down under the fire, the enemy were startled but recovered well, looking to intercept the smaller force. Eamonn and another man engaged a smaller group led by what looked to be a sergeant who parried the first attack, disengaged and tried to call more men to his aid, to swat away this irritating attack like a mosquito. Eamonn took the first man with a sweeping side cut, pivoted to his right and lunged at another, his blade biting deep into flesh, he did well in the single combat, but they were losing ground, they had been cut off from the rest of the flankers, he knew numbers would begin to tell if he were to hang around any longer, he fought on, but he began to tire, he defended fiercely, watching around him as soldiers went down.
He smiled ruefully to himself, he’d been foolish to think he could make a difference. He’d only been there to just stem the flow of their losses and wait for the Aaren to take them by surprise, not mount a counter attack. Any time now Aaren, he thought to himself, as he struck down another with his sword.
There were pitifully few of them now, three Commissioners were down and the enemies that remained began to circle him, perhaps were a little too eager to attack the youngster, he noticed that they rarely came more than one at a time. An attack to his left surprised him, his responding effort caused him to over-balance as he tried to sidestep their attacks. He managed to grapple the other man’s shield, but was beaten away from it, knocking his sword from his hand, hastily he drew his long bladed dagger, deflected two slashes from him before stabbing him through the small gap between the armour at the shoulder and torso, and slashed at the next man, he took no notice of the trampling of horses in the distance.
They were being driven away from the allies now, the initial ploy had worked well as the cavalry burst through the enemy lines, scoring a major hit on the unsuspecting enemy’s rear. Nevertheless, as he expected, the Caledonian numbers were beginning to overwhelm their smaller force, he watched as a defensive wall of archers had started sending back some heat on the others.
He turned just in time to dodge an arrow that hissed just past his head and into the man beside him, he fell away from the enemies, rolling down the hill hoping to escape. Had he been with the any of the others, he might have retreated to their lines but cut off and alone, he had to run, he hit bottom of the hill, falling across a sharp rock, gasping at the sudden pain. Men spread down the hill after him, he had enough time to throw out his arm to stab the first then rolled clear of a clumsy stabbing attack, pushing himself to his feet in the same move. Sensing danger he turned, again seeing more oncoming enemies.
There was again just too many to take on. He’d lost his dagger in the tumble down the hill, but fortunately, along with his dagger he had a smaller set of throwing knives at his disposal. Though not designed for fighting to drew two, sidestepped the first attacker and sent a knife after him, hitting him square in the back. He retreated back now, trying to move back towards the line of the battle, deflecting whatever he could.
Perspiration was soaking his clothes now, some from exertion, mostly from fear. He ducked under a vicious side cut, driving one of his knives into the man’s chest. Reinforcements finally arrived, he heard the rasping of arrows on bow string and another half dozen attackers went down, Eamonn backed up a few more paces, to find himself against a tree, he dashed to his right, avoiding another attacker, turning back to engage the man he was grappled from behind by another man dropping his knives in the process.
They struggled for a moment or two, Eamonn desperately trying to get his hand to the other man’s dagger, he stamped on the man’s foot. The man howled at the sudden pain, whipped out his dagger and cut short the man’s cry.
Eamonn shoved off the last enemy, whose return stroke never came, he stared in surprise at the word in his side and felt to the ground in a crumpled heap. Breathing hard and tired, Eamonn collapsed to the ground, his last dagger clattered to the ground. Somehow he realised, he had survived. How that was, he had no idea, he had beaten off about a dozen men single handedly, and only just managed to wait it out for help to arrive.
He trudged back up the hill under the help of another, grimacing at the shallow wound in his thigh, he guessed one of his deflections hadn’t been entirely successful. It took him ten-minutes to find his sword and dagger, he sheathed the dagger, took a swig of cool water from a fallen comrades water skin, and jogged back to rejoin the battle.