The sound of the courser's labored breaths, and its hooves pounding the earth, was all that Melchior could hear. The blazing combat before him was all that he could see. The fear boiling inside his chest was all that he could feel. He was oblivious to the handful of arrows that nearly glanced him as he closed on the melee.
He could not rip, for a single instant, his attention on the fray as it drew near. It was a writhing mass of bodies, glistening with the flicker of countless blades as they arched above to catch the light of the sun before crashing down into armor and flesh.
The deafening sound of his galloping mount was soon overpowered by the cries and clashes of battle, and the wails of dying men. If there had been a time at all where he could have chosen to turn back, it had now passed. Carefully, he let one hand loose from the reins and grasped the hilt of his sword. With a heave it slid free from its sheath. This blade, the color of dark ash, whistled in the turbulent air as he raced headlong into the melee.
He crashed through the line, bodies tumbling beneath his steed to be trampled as her momentum forced them deeper into the strife.
It suddenly occurred to him, when he lurched forward from the impact, that he was yelling. Next to him, Thomias' troops too, had broken into a roaring hoard.
The moment took him as his eyes locked with those of an enemy. Without even commanding a thought, his arm rose and fell, then rose and fell again ... and again. A grunt from the exertion of the blows was all that separated one from the next. Crimson arched from his blade and painted everything in a thick and oily mess; his eyes wide with maddened rage.
Melchior was no longer in control. The animal burrowed deep within his soul had emerged from its sullied den armed with an insatiable hunger. For now, he would let it reign. He allowed the throne of his mind to be usurped by the primal urges of this invading creature. He let it lap up the chaos and fury. He allowed it to revel in the folly that was combat.
Alas, lest he become nothing more than a flailing beast upon the battlefield, he finally roped it in. With its claws tearing at his mind, he pulled it from where it commanded him and buried it deep, where it belonged. In that moment, when the creature was once again caged, his eyes opened to the truth of the environment.
For the brief time that he was dazed by bloodlust, he had driven himself deep into the melee. This was not good. Melchior would be of no use to his troops if he were to be de-horsed and subsequently skewered by a dozen of Stahll's men. He had come to this quarrel not to singlehandedly push back the enemy, but to do what he was renowned for. He pulled his courser into an opening in the sea of bodies and drove forth until he found himself amongst a majority of Thomias' troops.
Those not locked in combat cheered at his presence, an imposing silhouette atop a blood soaked horse.
Melchior scanned the battlefield one last time and then turned to the men. He thrust his sword toward the sky and all eyes followed it. Even the nearby enemy where temporarily stunned, mesmerized by some unknown force.
There, they set their eyes upon the sword as though it were a towering obelisk of jet, scratching at the ceiling of heaven itself.
"Brothers!" Melchior yelled, as their eyes lowered and met his. "Follow me!" He turned his courser and drove across the line, breaking through to the other side. Behind him trailed a small cohort of rallied troops, lusting for blood and victory.
A Knight rode toward the Duke's party. "Sir, Melchior's rallied a small force from the melee and is making his way down field toward Stahll's guard."
The Duke spat, "That fool! What does he hope to accomplish?" he said, pushing past the Knight with his horse to see for himself what had transpired. From his position atop the hill, the Duke could see that a small force had indeed broken through the line. "That's no more than three hundred men. How is he to take on Stahll's guard with that? They're probably all nearing exhaustion to begin with!"
Another one of the Duke's Knights removed his helmet as he spoke. "With Stahll's reserve force busy on the egress, he has a chance ... albeit a small one."
"No." The Duke continued. "I don't have a single grain of trust in that man. Ready the rangers. When they reach him and he's locked in melee, fire."
"Sir, what about our men with Melchior?"
"So far as I'm concerned, they are Melchior's men now and I'd rather have them dead than back amongst my ranks."
"Yes sir." The Knight said, waving a hand to which a lightly armored rider spun about and raced toward the eastern wood line.