Assassin's Creed: U-Turns

NaNoWriMo 2014. Hopefully I aim to finish this. It is a sequel to At Cross Roads though, so


16. 24th June 1314, Morning ~ Stirling Castle, Scotland

It wasn't often that wars at this time and circumstance lasted more than a few hours, so it came as a surprise that this battle stretched into its second day.
Under the cover of night, the English had swung their remaining forces into the invitingly open area of the Carse, in the hope of out-manoeuvring the Scots. But as they staggered through stagnant ponds and squelched through deep muck - they realised that the heavy cavalry that they had been so proud of was no longer an advantage.

Jack realised that the orderly formations the English had maintained just a day before had become a disorganised rabble - a messy line of knights in front of a messy line of infantry - inconsistent in their stationing and knee-deep in filth. The Bruce marched with his men to meet with the English, his four schiltrons marching side by side, and halting only to drop to their knees and pray for mercy.

From God, not the English - for these men would die or conquer.

The Bruce ordered his men, and to the great surprise of the English horde, he led an offensive. He did not wait to be attacked.
Jack ran alongside the Bruce's schiltron, throwing up his shield to fend of arrows or the blows of a knight, and thrusting out his pike to slay their horses.
This was no chivalrous war, this was a gory killing match.
Jack saw the chaos around him, the blood of men and beast splattered across his face and armour as he cut his way through the Army. He looked around, when he could, catching the axe of the Bruce glinting in the sunshine and hacking his enemies to pieces. The corpses turned to heaps, stopping the English knights toward the rear from advancing.
But the Scots chorused, “Push on! Push on!” and they continued the bloodbath.
Jack noticed stragglers moving towards the their left flank and called, “King Robert! The archers!”
The King jerked his head up, slicing through a man's throat, and watched the archers readying their fire. Black arrows sailed into the sky, holding their place, before raining down on the chaos below. Jack threw his shield up and caught most of them - but two caught him in the shoulder and he cursed. Blood leaked from the embedded points, but he continued to fight.
“You need to summon the cavalry!” he called to the King, stabbing a horse through its chest making it cry out and stand on its hind legs. The knight was thrown from its back and was quickly dispatched by another Scottish soldier.
The King sent a messenger to Sir Robert Keith. A pause in battle once more as all threw up their shields, the arrows nailing themselves into leather hide or metal casing or soft flesh.
The Scottish light-cavalry - 500 men on horseback - galloped down from their post and charged at the archers. The English archers shifted their focus, caught a few men, but knew they were doomed. The archers began to run, but the bog sucked at their legs and trapped them, leaving them to be ruthlessly dispatched by Sir Robert Keith's men.

The English had just about had enough.

Right at that moment, the camp followers - the cooks, the grooms, the ordinary Scottish people - burst out of the New Park, yelling their way to the battlefield and joining the fight. It was a final stroke of genius. The English began to flee, but retreat instantly turned to confused rout. The Scots chased after them with zeal. Many of the English stumbled backwards into the stream of the Bannockburn, men stumbled over each other to get away. King Edward himself fled with his personal guard, while others were not so lucky.

Jack pulled himself away from the fight, holding his injured shoulder, and watching. The Bannockburn stream was so full of English corpses, you could walk over it - dry shod. Adrenaline was replaced with fatigue, bloodlust with remorse. The aftermath was difficult for Jack to stomach, so he sat down on the soft, peaty ground and threw up.
Of the 15,000 English infantry that had come to Bannockburn, it was clear that perhaps only 4,000 of them had escaped with their lives. How many would make it back to their homes, God alone knew.

But the Scots had won.
They had claimed their country.

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