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Separation: Part One
As I galloped atop my trusted stead up and down my soldiers’ lines, the importance of the approaching battle became increasingly evident. The once shining beauty of my fellow knights’ armour was now battle scarred with after-battle repairs, and our numbers had been severely dwindled. This being said, the men were still in high spirits as always, and were especially delighted since this was to be our last great triumph before returning home to our beloved kingdom of Euretheyum.
The flat Pyritian Plain in which the battle was to be fought was the perfect terrain for my mounted knights to duel with the enemy upon, as the ease in movement around the battlefield was simplified. The short wild grass which covered the plain gently rolled with the wind at every whimper, and the gleaming sun reflected off of the ground with remarkable intensity.
“Have the men ready themselves for the coming battle.” I noted to my second in command, who was following close behind me.
“Aye Sir!” he anxiously replied. He then turned 90 degrees on his silver plated stead and rode over to the men.
Our battle enemy, the Pyritians, were formed directly opposite to us, with their lines very short but deep, while our own were in contrast longer but stretched thinner. The sun lay directly between the two armies, floating high in the sky, and the reflections which both my men’s and the enemy’s armour casted as a result of the intensity of the sun seemed to illuminate the plain in itself.
I silently prayed to the Lord for his divine blessing in this battle, as a victory would allow me to return back to my lovely wife Evelyn in Euretheyum, whom I’ve longed to set my eyes upon. Her elegant black hair always seemed to leap off her dresses, and the bounce of each step she took lingered in my mind. My men and I had been out proclaiming our kingdoms greatness on an epic conquest for almost nine months as of now, and it was about time for us to be relieved of these duties.
“Take cover!” my men suddenly screamed, as the enemy unleashed a ferocious wave of arrows upon us. “This is a bad time to be having such deep thoughts,” I noted to myself, as I quickly raised my crusader shield, hunched over on my saddle, and sent my horse galloping to the rear of my lines, in hopes of us being spared a pre-battle death. The Pyritian kingdom was famed to posses the most skilled archers of all, and the blanketed sun which their hail of arrows created seemed to bolster this reputation.
Swoosh, swoosh, thump. The sound of falling arrows narrowly passing by me, and those which were on target, slamming into my battle- worn shield. The repeated noise of the onslaught soon died out, and I was glad to be unharmed and intact. I pulled out three arrows that found their way into my shield, and one which was lodged between two plates of my steed’s armour. I then kicked my feet into the side of Heremeus, my pure bred wild stallion, and we galloped to our front lines to assess the damage done. I was happy to see, that the majority of the enemy fire was blocked out by personal shields which all of my men carried, and that subsequently, minimum casualties were endured.
My men and I numbered 800,000 strong at the start of our campaign, but have since been reduced to just 350,000. Our archers and foot soldiers were significantly lessened at the battle of Nemeuthes, where a surprise amount of enemy chariots emerged at the battle’s midst. With only great perseverance, did my men and I fight through the carnage, which led to a heartfelt victory. Since then, the men have been trained to fight alongside our knights in small attack groups, rather than in the conventional segregated divisions of soldiers which were mainly deployed in present battles. We knights, who number to some 1,500 in our kingdom’s army, have had our roles shifted from riding into battle to change its outcome at heated moments, to leading our decimated troops into conflict. The new task was somewhat of a challenge, but these unconventional tactics were used with hopes that they would give us the upper hand that we needed in this battle, since we were facing an opposing force of 500,000 men strong.
Since the enemy had started the battle with their archers, we too followed in suite as I ordered my archers to fire at will as well. Although they blanketed the enemy with arrows as had been done to us, our new tactics entailed that after the arrows ceased fire, we would charge onto the enemy, not giving them time to recover from the barrage of fire. Therefore, when our last arrow smacked into an enemy foot soldier, who roughly fell to the ground below, I yelled to my men in as encouraging as a tone possible, “Attack!” The men all echoed this call, and we Euretheyum soldiers rushed forward, some on horseback, the rest on foot. The archers as rehearsed, continued to pick off enemy soldiers from a distance, and started with the opposing archers for added safety.
Heremeus’ hooves trampled through the grass as we advanced upon the enemy on the open plain, which was to be the resting place for many condemned souls. The pale blue sky was dotted with whisking clouds, and the sun eerily seemed to engulf the entire plain, as it shone brightly atop the sky. The enemy soldiers quickly closed the gap between us, with their loosely fitted chainmail crashing against their bodies with every step. My own men had the latest layered chainmail designs, and we knights wore elaborate suites of armour. “Show no mercy men! Stay together! For Euretheyum!” I thundered encouragingly, broadsword raised, leading my troops. I rode into battle with my section of foot soldiers, archers, and accompanying knights, and I wished to lead them all out alive as well. I prayed for the blessings of the Lord once more, just as the two walls of troops collided.
Smack! The sound of nearly a million armoured bodies colliding echoed in my helmet, and the battle cries which I had grown so used to hearing rang out. I quickly took to hacking with my sword at the enemy foot soldiers below, as the enemy had no significant mounted force. The Pyritians in the vicinity quickly took to attacking me, since I was visibly an important figure, and although the armour on both me and my steed protected us, we were soon separated by the continual enemy onslaught. A sudden blow dislodged me from my saddle, and before I knew it, I was lying on the ground, looking up at and endless number of Pyritians.”This will be interesting…” I grimly thought to myself.
I quickly leaped up to my feet, threw off my helmet to improve my visibility, and thrusted my blade into various enemies. My shield proved valuable as I used it to block enemy strikes before following up with my own deadly series of blows. However, as the repetition continued, I slowly noticed that our lines were moving forward, and that the enemy lines were moving back. We almost have them, I grittily thought, as I dug my heels in and swiped my shield at a Pyritian’s head. As we continued to advance, I found myself side by side with another fellow knight, Sir Lysander McDyre. “Good to see you in one piece McDyre! Are you alright?” I shouted over the sounds of battle, all the while continuing to ward off the persistent enemy.
“I wish I could say exuberant, Sir Richardson. “ McDyre responded as he fended off several enemy soldiers. “But during the course of a battle, it is difficult for one to enjoy himself, unless he enjoys death…” his voice trailed off.
“Anyway, let us finish off this victory, so we can return to Euretheyum sooner!” I finished, blocking a slash to the gut with my shield, before disarming the Pyritian with my sword.
“Aye Sir!” McDyre acknowledged, as he surged through the enemy lines, along with the section of men which he gallantly led. I signaled to my section as we too, pushed forward, overwhelming the Pyritians.
The entire battle lasted from when the sun was highest in the sky, to when it touched down on the Pyritian Plain, and ended in a lopsided victory for my men and I. Relieved by the closure of this victorious campaign, my men began to gather and bury our dead from the battle, and allowed the surviving, yet defeated Pyritians to do the same.
My second in command, Sir Arthur Demoy, came to my side and explained to me the details of the battle. “Sir Richardson,” he began. “Our forces decimated the enemy, leaving only 100,000 of them alive, and most with wounds. This is mainly due to the fact that our flank sections held strong throughout the battle, resisting many Pyritian counterattacks.”
“I will be sure to reward the leaders of those sections along with their men once we return to Euretheyum.” I answered, proud of the resolve shown by the men. “An extra glass of wine would suit them finely.” I thought to myself.
“Sadly, our own lines lost roughly 50,000 men in the battle, and some 7,000 suffered wounds.” Sir Demoy’s words sank in, as I thought of all those fine men who perished.
“Loss is an unavoidable portion of victory…” my voice trailed off, as my emotions set in. “That is all, Arthur. Let the men settle in for the night atop the hill overlooking the plain.”
“Yes Sir!” With that, he galloped of on his steed, and I wondered if Heremeus was alright. “I could sure use a ride from him right now…”
I registered these casualty figures as I walked across the blood soaked plain. I saw the bodies of many good men, some whom I have known since the early portions of my childhood. However, as I reached the chariot in which the Pyritian commander was situated during the battle, my heart sunk deeply into my chest.
The body of Sir Lysander McDyre laid sprawled on the ground, with multiple wounds to his chest. His body armour rested in pieces around him, and I could only conclude that he tried to remove it after becoming wounded, in order to attend to the wounds. The corpse of the Pyritian commander rested not far away, and the initials L.M. ,were engraved into the sword which pierced the Pyritian’s heart. “L.M… Lysander McDyre. That outstanding solider…” I sadly thought, as I breathed a deep sigh into the darkening air. “I must mention his bravery to the King undoubtedly,” I reminded myself, as I stored the information into my thoughts. “Time to move on…”
After nine months of bloodshed, I had finally gained notoriety for the Euretheyum kingdom, as a powerful and determined people. After a night of dining and rest for my remaining, deserving troops in our makeshift camp, we packed up and set off for home.
We left the Pyritian Plain at sunrise, and the march back to Euretheyum was to be lengthy. I was happy to find Heremeus waiting for me at the front of our column, and I was told that he ran back to our lines when we were separated. “Who’s a good horse?” I childishly said to him, as he responded with a large nod of the head. I quickly mounted up, and we set a course for home.
End of Part One