With Honor, part 7

With Honor

by Leigh Townsend

Part 7

The chocolate gelding snuffled softly as Matthew stroked its nose.  He had paused in leading the horse on a slow walk in order to watch the last few soldiers arrive in their groups.  It was nearly time for their attack on the bandit camp.

Matthew’s group had been one of the first to make it to the gathering site, and their horses were becoming restive.  This part, when the small groups were collecting again north of the camp, was the most vulnerable moment of their plan.  If the bandits were going to spot them and realize what was happening, this would be the time.  All of the fighters were nervous.  Matthew was already feeling somewhat relieved by the arrival of the last of their soldiers, and he could tell the same was true of the other officers.

Quietly and quickly the company assembled at the southern edge of the meadow.  Lieutenant Lewis swung up and into his saddle, much like many of the other fighters who had dismounted during their wait.  At the silent signal of the captain, the mounted soldiers in the company began moving briskly toward the bandit camp.  They were still a fair distance away; they had gathered in a location far enough from the brigands to hopefully avoid detection.

Nearing the top of the hill at the very edge of the camp, Captain Harlan motioned for the company to slow.  The lines condensed behind the ridge, the front riders stopping completely.  Every soldier nocked an arrow or drew a sword.  After only two heartbeats, the captain dropped his fist and the riders silently boiled over the top of the hill.

As they came down the slope, horses gaining speed, there remained only one obstacle: a sparse stand of trees that bordered the north edge of the camp.  The trees forced the company to spread out slightly, horses leaping fallen logs and riders focused on their goal.

For a moment that stretched on to eternity, the only sounds that Matthew could hear were the creak of leather and the dull thud of horseshoes on the forest floor.  The sudden battle cry was so unexpected, several of the riders near him drew up to a stop.

From the trees all around them, bandits shrieked and yelled with ear-splitting power.  Many of the horses began to spook, while other fighters stopped their mounts and turned to face an as-yet invisible enemy.  Before anyone could speak, bandits materialized from pits beneath the leaf litter swinging thick branches while others dropped from the trees onto the backs of horses.

The company was swarmed by bandits from above and below.  Matthew ducked under one of the branches while his horse spun to avoid another man on the ground.  The sounds of battle filled the air; the army soldiers were being forced to spread out, each fighting two or three bandits.  Arrows were next to useless, since it was impossible to aim and hitting another soldier was likely.  Matthew slung his bow onto the pommel of his saddle and drew his sword.  A blow to an unprotected head felled one of the bandits near him; a sharp kick from the gelding’s hooves dropped the other.

Temporarily alone, Matthew turned to look for a retreat.  His mind panicked for a moment as he realized they had none.

The bandits had ambushed them, and now they were surrounded.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. A.M. Kuska
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 23:33:22

    You’ve got a very powerful writing style here. I loved your voice, and even though I haven’t read any of the other parts, I had no problems getting into the story or visualizing what’s going on. That takes some talent.

    As a critique…I see some flaws on both sides of the ambush here. Like for example, the intelligence of hiding in pits during a cavalry charge. Despite what you see in the movies, the horses are not going to simply run around the pits, or stop gracefully in front of them and wait for the bandits to pour out. They’re far more likely to end up falling into the pits, killing the bandits inside and probably injuring the rider on the way down.

    Without getting rid of the horses, the bandits are going to have a hard time keeping the cavalry there also. Most horses are quite happy to find an escape route, and a few trees won’t stop them. (Might take the rider off though. I’ve hit my fair share of tree branches I’m afraid.)

    If you’re open to suggestions, I’d suggest the bandits set up a nice little tripwire, or just wait behind the pit trap till at least a few of the horses fall.

    Reply

    • Leigh Townsend
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 10:35:34

      Thanks for the compliment! I’m always open for advice and comments.

      The logic of the bandits not trying to take out the horses is their value – these bandits are intrinsically greedy people, so their goal is to kill, injure, or knock riders off the horses and then keep as many of the horses alive as possible.

      Good thinking on the pits, though – you’re right, the horses wouldn’t just run around them. Perhaps if the bandits simply all drop from the trees? Some would end up on the backs of horses, while others would end up on the ground for fighting.

      Reply

  2. A.M. Kuska
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 11:32:39

    Actually yes, that’d be brilliant. ^^ This story is so fun! I couldn’t wait to check back to see if you’d replied this morning. I’ve got your blog bookmarked. This video might be worth checking out to give you some ideas on how to handle footmen vs. horsemen

    http://horsethink.com/ (Horse defense video clip in the corner)

    It’s actually really easy to dismount a rider. I don’t know about how easy it’d be if they’re beating you with a sword, but it might give you some ideas anyway. ^^

    Reply

  3. A.M. Kuska
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 01:36:10

    I look forward to reading it!

    Reply

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