Axe swinging down and across in a wide ark, the blade struck home and cut through flesh and bone alike, leaving the man’s ankle hanging by tattered threads. As his opponent fell, Cuthred had no time to think and brought his iron shield rim up to crash into the lower jaw of another Mercian with a sickening crunch. Teeth flew in all directions and the man was tossed backwards like a rag doll.
The enemy shield wall had long since broken and now Cuthred’s men were cutting through the last of the peasants that had been Ethelbard’s reserve. A fleeting gap between the crumbling mass of enemy warriors allowed the Wessex King to take a glance across the battlefield towards the hill. His enemy would still have the chance to recover, should they break Aescwulf’s men. Even now he could see the line wavering, men falling as the superior warriors of Ethelbard’s personal guard hammered home a constant attack.
Another foe leapt forward, eager to try and claim Cuthred’s life as his prize, and knocked the king’s spear from his grasp. Instead of the execution of the leader of Wessex, a red haired warrior stepped in and swung forward to split the enemy’s helmet and head alike. Recovering, Cuthred ducked, looking for the weapon and sending a madly charging warrior hurtling over his shoulder at the same time. A renewed stream of sweat trickling down his face, he dismissed the lost weapon and grabbing a fallen axe instead. Bringing it up it cut into the chest of another foe, claiming another life. He prepared for another assault, but none came.
The sense relief washed over him as the enemy began to flee in earnest, breaking under the onslaught of Cuthred’s household. Roars of victory filled the air, warriors raising their weapons and shields in triumph but the King did not follow suit. Instead, he raised his axe and pointed it at the hill and Aescwulf’s band still bravely fighting. Roaring out a battle cry, he began a charge across the battlefield with his men following.