A scream came from overhead as the bushland seemed to instantly produce Vindavians.
The king caught a would be assassin and flung him at a newly arrived horseman. Rider and man collided, and fell heavily to earth, writhing a moment in agony before Nusallean axes descended.
Traya’s voice was lost in the fight, amounting to no more than a brawl. His men began to fall as Vindavians seemed to move as a line forward. The king sought out their officer. These men were led, fighting as one under single leadership.
A man on horseback emerged from the trees with a sizable fighting wedge around him.
Traya gaped, losing concentration long enough to have the tribesman’s axe knocked from his hand. He rolled aside from the descending sword stroke, and swept up the nearest weapon. Ducking beneath a thrust meant for his chest, he stabbed up, rewarded with the southman’s dropped sword.
To his horror, the king had already met with the fighting wedge around the Vindavian officer.
“With me!” he shouted.
He ran a few steps before he encountered the first of the southmen. Deflecting a sword aside, he riposted across the Vindavian’s throat without losing his stride. Necessity alone, forced him to use the weapon of his enemies. Already, he favoured the sword over his traditional tribesman’s axe, delivering deft strokes with devastating results.
Vindavians began to turn from the fighting as he arrived. Three faced him as he raised the sword, hoping to deliver at least one fatal stroke before he fell. To his surprise, men had followed close after him and joined the fray.
A circle of Vindavians still closed around the king as he fought his way to the horse. Traya’s men already saw the danger and moved accordingly to aid him.
A war hammer swept at the king’s haft. With a yelp, he dropped the axe. Traya’s heart froze. At any moment, a lucky sword stroke would end the king’s life, but he proved far from helpless. Twisting aside from a sword thrust, he snatched the wielder’s wrist and forced him to stab another Vindavian. With a curt twist, the swordsman screamed; his wrist kinked at an impossible angle. His scream abruptly halted as the king’s fist came down. The Vindavian fell, his helmet dented from the blow.
Now upon the horseman, the king ducked beneath a sword stroke from the rider. He slipped his arms about the horse’s neck and wrenched the beast to the ground.
“To the king!” Traya shouted.
A circle of Nusallean soldiers dispensed justice on the officer with their axes.
The king casually picked up his fallen axe and watched the Nusalleans push deeper into the Vindavian ranks. Traya, still panting, stood beside him.
“It seems the Vindavian line is falling,” said Traya.
The king merely placed a heavy hand on his shoulder. Without another word, he jogged after the line of fighting men to lend his axe to the battle.
Hours later, the battle wore on, consisting mainly of fleeing Vindavians fighting in a retreating pattern. They broke through the last line of trees before the hills lining the river. Horns blared throughout the Nusallean lines, signalling the end of the day’s fighting.