Stabbing his sword downward, Woden speared the Mercian Saxon with its tip as the man tried to crawl away through the mud. Kneeling down beside the body, he fumbled amongst the folds of the man’s cloak, finally finding a small broach that might be of some value. All across the battlefield, warriors of Wessex claimed lives and looted bodies.
He stood once more as his comrade, Bawdewyn, made his way over to him, stepping over bodies and occasionally slipping in the blood soaked soil. The man was broad shouldered and had short cut hair: dark-brown that matched his hazel eyes. His face was etched with weaved creases that had formed through time, “Anything useful?”
Woden shook his head, disappointment clearly showing on his face, “A few baubles but nothing much.” Thoughtfully he stared across at where the King stood over the body of the fallen Ethelbard. The soil was soaked with blood where the enemy King’s lay, crumpled and defeated. Woden had watched as Searwine’s men had sprung up from their hidden position, attacking Ethelbard’s rear, and Cuthred had charged in from the flank. It had been a slaughter fest and few had survived.
“I saved his life.” Grumbled Woden, his gaze never falling from the King.
Bawdewyn’s brow rose in surprise, “What do you mean?”
Sliding his sword back into it’s fur-lined scabbard, Woden nodded at Cuthred, “In the battle he was about to be slain and I saved him.” As if the words had no meaning he began looking for spoils once more, nudging limbs aside with his boot and occasionally bending to roll a corpse over. His friend jogged to catch up with him.
“Cuthred owes you his life?”
His friend seemed astonished, as if the fellow Saxon did not believe his words, but Woden knew it was more shock than disbelief. They trusted each other with their lives. Nodding he continued his search. Already the crows were pecking at corpses and the smell of faeces was rank where a dog was tearing at the entrails of a disembowelled Saxon.
“He was disarmed and was about to be impaled.” Grunted Woden, lifting a dead man’s cloak to see if it was any good. It was stained with blood and torn from one side to the other. Dismissively he threw it away.
Standing he looked across the hill where he stood. An endless pile of corpses: like the swamps of hell where bodies endlessly tossed and rolled. He shook his head. It would take a lot of work to get all these into a grave. A tug on his wolf skin cloak made him turn sharply, a hand dropping to his sword hilt, but it was only Bawdewyn.
“Don’t you see he must repay his debt!” The fellow Saxon stated gleefully, “You can claim anything; wealth; women; power...” He let the sentence trail to drive home the endless possibilities of reward.
Woden’s eyes clouded over as sudden thoughts swept across his mind, “Warriors.” He murmured.
A frown arose on Bowdewyn’s face and the warrior leaned on his spear, “Possibly,” He grinned, “but I’d prefer women!”
The larger man did not smile. Instead he seemed lost in a void. Something was taking hold within the warrior’s mind.
“Arw.” The word slipped from his lips and this time Bowdewyn fell silent.