Career Choice, Part IV

Several hurled javelins before closing the last few yards, about half formed into some sort of three or four-man formation with sword and shield in front and a spearman poking over or around them, the rest formed a general line and tried to rush and overwhelm with superior numbers and speed. Four tried to get a clear shot with a bow but quickly gave up trying to see anything targetable in the heaving mass of men, tossing their bows aside and either rushed in to back up their fellow soldiers. Some Crimeans wore small black and yellow streamers on their arms or helms, and some started trying to do an end-run on the line to get a side-shot. The Argentain archers were in nearly the same predicament, but the superior number of men they faced gave them a small advantage, and Argentain arrows found their mark among the more numerous foes standing three spear-lengths away.

Many of the Argentain defenders were clearly seasoned veterans, and they planted their spears to receive the charging men. The initial rush together left two Argentain and five Crimean soldiers dead or mortally wounded and out of action.

The archer and spearman guarding the knight realized they had much more important and immediate duty and joined the action, but the unarmored knight was hemmed in by the swirling tide of men and weapons, and he had no idea which might be friend or foe. From the far end of the clearing where the knight had originally entered from two more men on horseback came charging, wearing the red and green the knight carried. They were well-armored, and their lances were not the lightweight spears the others carried, but heavy weapons designed to take down mounted knights.

Seeing another opportunity, Jispin descended from his sylvan vantage point so fast it was little more than a barely controlled fall. When he hit the ground he seized the bow the ill soldier he’d killed had dropped and the nearby quiver of arrows. Knocking an arrow and starting to draw he realized it was a much heavier bow than the typical Argentain bow he’d seen – it was nearly as powerful as his father’s – so he’s have to be careful to not aim to high. It would propel the long war arrows very fast and far, in a nearly flat arc at this range.

He let fly. It hit low, skewering a Crimean just above his belt, next to the spine. Likely a kidney-shot. Not dead, but very much out of the fight. The next long bodkin-point arrow fired from his unfamiliar bow missed the intended target – an opening in the leather armor on the back of a Crimean spearman, sailed over his shoulder and through the open front of an Argentain helm. Don’t like them, either. His actions did not go unnoticed by the mounted man in green and red.

Jispin rapidly got the feel of the bow and its silvery-white fletched missiles. Four arrows with three victims later, the pair of charging Kilpans hit the end of the barely aware line like thunder, one striking the end of the Crimean line, the other impaling one of the two Argentain light cavalry, while running into the other and blocking both spears. At the same time Sir Andronikos finally entered the fray, dropping his spear-tip and spurring his courser forward into the fight while smoothly changing his grip into an overhand position. His lance thrust over the line with his back to him, over the shields pressing them hard, and downward into the face of a Crimean swordsman. Pulling it sharply back, he changed his angle of attack as his steed pressed into the backs of the Argentains. He thrust to the right, pegging another Crimean in the head a moment before the Argentain he faced stuck a sword in his guts, but Sir Andronikos’s lance-point got jammed up as the man went down, forcing the knight to back his horse. The weight and strength of the mount allowed the knight to free his weapon. Jispin kept shooting.

The two charging Kilpans were wreaking havoc on the end of the lines for both sides. Jispin rapidly wore down the other, while also targeting anyone who appeared to be trying to fall back to escape the carnage. Sir Andronikos had drawn his broadsword, and was using his warhorse, shield, and blade to great effect in the middle of the ranks. The chaotic four-sided battle dealt death with shocking speed, apparent randomness, and uncaring brutality. Suddenly the remaining infantry ranks broke. Both of them, nearly simultaneously.

Of the Crimeans remaining, only seven were still mobile. They disengaged and turned to run for the forest they’d emerged from, only to see a bowman sinking an arrow into an eye of the leader of the retreat, an arrow that emerged bloody from the back of his leather armored cap. The other six bunched up and raised their shields to continue the rush from the field of combat, obscuring their vision. A Kilpan squire ran two of them over with his horse, cleaving the skull of a third with his sword. Jispin dropped the bow, drew his long knife, and tripped the man sprinting blindly past. He pounced like a young panther on the fallen soldier and employed the sharp point effectively, slipping it forcefully between two cuir boiuili plates on the man’s back just below his ribs. Liver and diaphragm gone, and life with them.

The knight rode down the four last Argentains whom had initially sought to take him prisoner as they discarded shields, armor, weapons, and anything of weight in an effort to lighten themselves and run faster. Jispin looked up from his bloody work in time to see the last two go down. Foolish to try and outrun a horse, he thought. You should always set a spear to receive the charge if on foot. He looked up at the mounted squire, who was eyeing him cautiously and breathing hard, holding sword and shield ready as he backed up his horse to a position uncluttered by the fallen.

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6 thoughts on “Career Choice, Part IV

  1. Page 4.
    the last few yards, about half formed the last few yards. About half formed
    tossing their bows aside and either rushed in tossing their bows aside and rushed in

    Some Crimeans wore small black and yellow streamers on their arms or helms, and some started trying to do an end-run on the line to get a side-shot. I suggest two sentences as the parts don’t seem to be related.

    so he’s have to be careful to not aim so he’d have to be careful to not aim
    Argentain he faced stuck a sword in his guts, Who’s guts?

  2. “Some Crimeans wore small black and yellow streamers on their arms or helms, and some started trying to do an end-run on the line to get a side-shot.”
    As Adam said, these are not connected. Also, the description of the adornments breaks the flow of the action.

    “dead or mortally wounded and out of action.” Out-of-action can be assumed, modulo that guy Jispin stabbed earlier. But more to the point, “out of action” sounds too modern for the setting.

    “Liver and diaphragm gone, and life with them.” Great, but fragmentary. Is something missing?

    “four last” There’s a lot of accounting in the description of the battle. This plays against the ferocity of the combat. Get Jispin out of his tree earlier so that he’s picking targets more and tabulating combatants less.

  3. There’s a lot of “trying to” in this part. Do or not do? attempt, sought, etc. Mix it up a bit.

    “so he’D have to be careful to not aim to high.” or maybe “he’d have to avoid aiming high.”

  4. “He pounced like a young panther on the fallen soldier and employed the sharp point effectively, slipping it forcefully between two cuir boiuili plates on the man’s back just below his ribs.” Tighten this up. Who’s ribs? ‘He’ is Jispin.

    He pounced like a young panther on the fallen soldier and slipped the point forcefully between two cuir boiuili plates on the man’s back just below the ribs.

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