A Coward's Battle

The missile flew from the window, like a swift darting through the sky, to plunge into his horse’s neck. The arrow’s shaft stuck out, like some morbid acupuncture needle, the feathered flight adorning it’s tip.

His world was thrown into chaos as the animal reared, tossing him as a tidal wave throws a small fishing boat. A ragdoll hurled around, Woden’s head snapped back, his very core shaken a thousand times over. Another arrow was shot from the hall’s sanctum but he was too busy clamping down his thighs to take notice. His muscles tensed, every bit of his being straining, but the bucking animal was too much. Thrown from the saddle he hit the ground, grunting with pain as his shoulder struck the floor, the momentum causing him to roll. Miraculously the animal was still standing and as it was freed from it’s master it bolted.

The other men were tugging on reigns and swerving their horses to make for cover, shouts of alarm filling the air. As another deadly projectile dug into the floor, they swerved behind the surrounded houses, leaping down from their horses and drawing their weapons.

“Are you injured?” Shouted Bowdewyn from where he crouched being the dry stone wall of a small sty, looking across at Woden.

The larger man had ran for cover behind the wattle and dorb wall of the nearest roundhouse, thankful that he had not landed on his sword. His arm ached from where he had fallen on it, the pain throbbing through him. Refusing to show weakness he drew his sword, spitting on the ground.

“Cowardly bastards!” He growled, “If they’ll not face me in battle then I shall make them!” Looking across at his men, he saw they all waited anxiously for instruction. They were all good in combat but this was a situation that had them at a loss, “Get me fire.”

A thane grinned and immediately darted into a roundhouse to fulfil the order. They waited.

It had fallen oddly silent; a strange stillness that was so in contrast to the confusion only moments before. The horses were now holding steady, only Woden’s mount had run any distance and now it stood tossing its head, confused at the annoying pain that was searing from its wound. There were no more shots, indeed there were no targets as they were all behind cover. Odell had been ready and had taken the way no honourable Saxon would choose.

The thane who had left came jogging back, holding a flaming torch in his hand. It was formed from some dry thatch bound together with thread, and its darting tongues sent a plume of smoke into the air. Woden nodded in satisfaction.

“Come out and fight!” He roared, issuing his challenge to the yellow enemy but the man still refused, not even replying. Woden gestured to the thatched roof of the hall. If they would not come out and fight then he would force them out.

Eyes gleaming, a sudden thought occurred to him.

“We shall get to the side of hall. Against the wall will be too close for them to fire.” The others nodded in agreement, “Bowdewyn, you will come to the door with me. The rest of you cover the windows.” An evil grin spread across his face, sadistic and dark, “If they try to leave, we kill them.”

The End

31 comments about this story Feed