As the Tullian forces prepare for battle, their commander, Lord Ballen, rouses their fighting spirit.

Count Ballen, Lord of Tarisburg, Marshal & Knight-Commander of the King’s Guard, turned his eyes away from the far ridge. He had watched as the advance guard of horsemen had been torn to pieces by the crossbow bolts, had seen the horses plunge to the ground with blood coursing their flanks. Men lay still, dead or slowly dying, dotted amongst fallen shields and weapons.

He turned his horse to face the expectant ranks that stood before him. Farmers with pitchforks or axes fit only for forestry, footmen with spear and shield, crossbowmen ready with their deadly weapons, the professional infantry in their maille armour, bastard and great swords in hand. The red of Tullia’s flag rippled above the Marshall, snapping and pulling at the stave that held it high. In the afternoon light the banner looked more like a sea of blood, pulsating and flowing.

“Tullians!” The voice roared, forged by lungs that had shouted orders for over thirty years of battle. “Tullians, rise up and hear me! Once more on to the field we march, once more we take up arms to rid these lands of those that oppose us!” His great fist, clad in its maille mitten, struck against his breast. “Us! You, the true sons of these lands, the only people worthy of this land, will you let these villains, these bandits, raiders of your homes, murderers of your loved ones, will you let them stand against you?”

As the wind whipped as his hair, Ballen tried to suppress a smile as the army in front of him roared its protest, four hundred men roaring, the cacophony of noise making his horse prick up its ears.

“We will win today, we will triumph. First we will smash them with horse!” He balled his hand into a fist and smashed it into his palm. “Then you will kill them! Summon up your blo-u-uh-d! For Tullia, for your King!”

His sword sang as he hauled it from the scabbard and punched it into the air, the gesture provoking fresh bellows from the Tullian’s. The polished blade was like fire in the sunlight, whilst the maille coat, burnished until it shone, gleamed brighter than silver. He lowered the blade to his side, and beckoned with his free hand to two squires, unarmoured and mounted on light horses, acting as his messengers.

“Instruct the cavalry to form in front of the infantry, and to advance on the third note from the horn. They are to smash through their line, surround the enemy and keep them in place until the infantry arrives to slaughter them. No prisoners. Understood? Then get moving!”

As the squires galloped off to the flanks where the Knights and Men-At-Arms, mounted on tall warhorses, armoured in the finest plate and maille the Tullian smiths could forge, with long lances in hand and swords hung at their belts, waited for their orders. Of his army, it was only the cavalry Ballen trusted to implement his will on the battlefield. The infantry were capable, but the ground-shaking, massed horsemen of Tullia were the only ones who would reliably break an opponent. He stared up at the ridge where the mercenary crossbowmen waited. Their accurate volleys had torn apart the light cavalry, ripping the heart out of three squadrons with ease. Balling his hand he thumped it against the saddle. There was no need, none at all, for the scouts to have charged the enemy, but the fools had seen their chance for glory and had paid the bloody price. Serve them right. he thought bitterly.

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  • R J Dent on Oct 29, 2011

    Nice work, R.A. I really got a sense of the danger and the chaos of the battle.

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