If Beatrix had thought the Erls’ army was big, then Aaron’s army was off the scale. The two armies lined up facing each other, sunlight glinting off swords, shields, armour, blinding her and making her blink rapidly. Swords and shields clanked, armour creaked, horns blared and horses whinnied.
Her heart leapt into her mouth. This was it! They would sink or swim together according to this moment. So much depended on this. This had been her decision. Her plan. And it was her fight.
So why was she stuck up here like a spectator at a play? Her swordhand itched, and she could hear Keiran laughing in her ear, calling her a ‘regular little wildcat’. Was all that training for nothing?
A fanfare was sounded, and most of the noise stopped. The pennants flapped in the wind. A man in full armour, flanked by soldiers and holding a white flag rode out from the rebel army and into the centre of the battlefield. An answering figure, surrounded by guardsmen, rode to meet him in the grey ground between the two armies.
Beatrix held her breath along with the rest of Disnarta as this small moment began. It would decide everything. If this could be resolved peacefully, then...
But already Aaron was riding back to his army, and she could just imagine the look of smug self-satisfaction that resided on his face.
Hathering rode back to his own army, riding up and down the front line, gaining a hearty cheer as he did so. Beatrix felt a great hope rise up in her chest, weighed down by the sharp tang of fear. There was no way they could win. But they had to.
Engulfed in her emotions as she was, she nearly missed the movement that started it all off - a quick, sharp jerk of Aaron’s head. Immediately, the trumpets sounded, and before the rebels had a chance to do much but register the danger, a volley of arrows, tiny as pins from the distance, sped up from Aaron’s archers. For a second they whirled through the air, tiny packages of death, before crashing into the rebel army. Beatrix was close enough to hear the screams.
If Beatrix had been trained in war, she would have known that the volley of arrows was not much more than a deterrent, as most of them fell short, but from where she sat in her ignorance, it seemed to be a disaster.
The trumpets sounded again, and Beatrix had no way of knowing whose army they communicated to. But luckily the soldiers seemed to know, because the cavalry on the left wing of the rebel army let out an enormous roar, and began the charge.