“Would you look at that!” King Robert the Bruce said, he over-looked the arrival of the English Army.
Jack stood by the Bruce's horse, circular shield in hand, and stared at line after line of heavily-armoured, mounted English men.
“We should head back, sir,” Jack said, “It won't do for you to be caught out alone.”
“You head on back,” said the King from on top of his mount, “I'm coming.”
Jack bowed and left. The King probably just wanted to get a reconnaissance, he would be fine. Jack joined the King's schiltron which had taken up position in front of the New Park; behind the three schiltron's commanded by Sir Edward Bruce, the Earl of Murray, and Sir James Douglas.
Jack could see the Bruce sitting on his mount, observing the opposing army - probably mentally amending his plans now that he could see the scale of King Edward's power. From Jack's position, he watched the English take their places, two cavalry formations began advancing straight towards the bridges of the Bannockburn at a trot. One knight separated from the contingency, splashed across the stream and headed straight towards the Bruce.
Jack was dumbfounded for a second.
“William!” he said, spotting his friend amongst the light Scottish cavalry, “The King! The King!” Jack cried, pointing wildly at Robert the Bruce.
William jerked his head up and whipped his mount, others following in suit - rushing to reach the Bruce.
When Jack saw the most astounding thing.
The young English knight charged - full gallop, his mount nodding its head, pulling forward with speed - lance held high, the knight's heavy armour clattering against his body: edging closer and closer to Scotland's monarch. The King simply side-stepped his horse, tore the axe from its hold and split the knight's head in two - the conical helmet folding into the man's skull. The knight fell off his mount - dead.
And then William's company joined finally arrived at the King's side.
Jack watched, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, as the King and William's company rode back to the New Park.
“Sir...” Jack said.
The Bruce dismounted and grumbled, “That was a perfectly good axe I broke on the nephew of Hereford's thick skull.”
Jack looked at the other men, to see if it was just him or if everyone was witnessing this, and then said, “You killed Henry de Bohun?”
“I don't know. Probably. Is he the Earl of Hereford's nephew?”
Jack laughed, “Lads,” he called, “I think the English are in for a show.”
“Take your positions!” the Bruce said, raising his pike, “Edward, Sir James Douglas - there stands the charge of the Earls of Hereford and Gloucester,” he said, pointing at the two factions of English struggling through the pitfalls, “Go, bring the war to them.”
They hailed the King and marched towards the stream at a brisk pace, yelling at the top of their lungs. They took their positions by forming a solid line of defence, leaving their pikes on the ground and holding their shields and swords or axes in hand.
The English cavalry, having cleared the pitfalls, began to ride at a canter, their lances held high.
“Ready!” Jack heard Edward announce, over the thunder of hooves and armour.
The English began to gain pace, closing the gap in urgency.
“Hold!” cried Edward and Douglas.
The English pointed their lances forward, their mounts riding at gallop now, preparing themselves to skewer the Scottish with their weapons.
“Hold!” Edward and Douglas repeated.
And, at what seemed to be exactly the last moment, they both cried, “Now!”
The Scots dropped to their knees and raised their pikes, bristling them outwards, like the spines on a porcupine.
It was too late to halt.
The pikes speared through the chests of the armoured mounts, making them rear back and fall on their comrades behind them. The chaos was plain to see, most of the horses towards the rear crashing into the horses at the front, and soldiers writhing beneath the dead-weight of their mounts. Some of the knights, in their frustration, threw their lances like javelins at the Scots. In the confusion, the Scots rose and cut down the struggling Englishmen.
“Sir,” Jack said, noticing movement to their open left-flank, “Over there,” he pointed.
“Ah,” scoffed King Robert, “That's why I kept Murray,” he called Murray over and gestured, “Take your position, and when I give the order - you charge. They won't even see you coming.”
Murray took his schiltron and they hid in a wood nearby, as another portion of the English cavalry tried to attack their flank. But the boggy Carse hindered them, so they were more than noticeable. Murray's schiltron burst out from the line of trees and made their formation. As they did, confusion and argument broke out amongst the English. Jack was surprised that they actually waited for the Scots to form their line. Again one man broke away from the confusion and ran at the Scots while they were still forming, but found his death on the end of a pike.
And many after him found a similar end.