Friday, 26 February 2016

The Saga of Caradog ap Llewellyn - Chapter One

Once again the English crossed the border into my lands looking for gold and slaves. This time the invader was Guffer AEg-Stank, he of the strange accent.

I decided to confront them at a river crossing not far from the border and arrived at the place toward mid morn. The river is fast flowing and deep with two wooden bridges across it. In front of the left bridge on my side of the river is an area of rocky ground and I placed my archers within supported by four warriors. To the right of the rocky ground betwixt the two crossings is a crop field, high with winter barley, and I placed eight of my Hearthguard here so that they could respond to attack across either bridge. The ground around the right hand bridge is open and I placed twelve warriors opposite the crossing to defend it and supported them with my four remaining Hearthguard.  I took my place with the Hearthguard in the field and awaited Guffer.

He soon appeared across the valley and formed his warband to attack my position. He deployed two units of eight axe wielding Hearthguard and a unit of eight warriors opposite the left bridge. His last unit of eight warriors deployed close to the right hand bridge.
The English began banging weapons on shields to raise their courage. In response my brave boys sung Men of Harlech, drowning out the English clamour with Welsh harmony!
Guffer charged a unit of warriors and both units of Hearthguard across the left hand bridge, shouting encouragement from the rear. The warriors formed their shieldwall on my side of the river with a Heartguard unit on their right. The second Hearthguard unit formed on the bridge behind the warriors. All seemed winded by the exertion.

My archers pulled back deeper into the rocks and loosed a volley at the enemy warriors which dropped one of them. I pushed my Hearthguard out of the barley field at a run and showered the English Hearthguards on the bridge with javelins but only saw one fall.
Guffer had his warriors charge my Hearthguard and my men slaughtered them like spring lambs without loss. Only three of the enemy warriors escaped death and fell back toward the bridge. The English on the bridge moved toward my Hearthguard but were reluctant to close with my men, cowed no doubt by the sight of our shields covered in English gore. Guffer was seen puffing his way across the bridge.

The English were where I wanted them, trapped in the killing ground. My archers, warriors and Hearthguard launched a torrent of arrows and javelins against the enemy Hearthguard killing six of them.

There followed a lull in the fighting during which Guffer withdrew the remnants of his warriors and decimated Hearthguards while advancing his remaining Hearthguard unit across the front of my levy to confront my Hearthguard.

Once again we deluged his Hearthguards with missiles but this time they formed a tight shieldwall that saved them from loss.

Guffer strode to the front of his men and led them in a charge against my Hearthguard. The fight was red tooth and claw and despite their bravery my men gave ground with the loss of five of their number. Four of the English fell to our swords.

My archers shot down two of the English warriors on the bridge but once again the enemy Hearthguard survived our javelins including four of my own casts.

With relentless determination Guffer charged again with his four Hearthguard and with despair I witnessed the slaughter of my three Hearthguard with no loss to the English.
I stood alone amongst the trampled barley confronted by Guffer and his four men. My four warriors moved out of the rocks in support and threw javelins at the enemy Hearthguard who deflected every dart. I made four casts at them but only killed one. My archers killed the last English warrior on the bridge as I glimpsed their warriors on the opposite side of the river moving toward the bridge on my left.

I cursed my decision to place my other four Hearthguard so far away, it would cost me this day.

Guffer and his last three Hearthguard charged me raining down axe blows that that rent my armour and split my shield in twain. A blow to my helmet knocked me unconscious.
When I came to my men related the last of the battle to me. My four brave warriors gave their lives to save me and killed one of the enemies Hearthguard. I had managed to kill another before I went down. The last of them was shot down by my archers.
Guffers last unit of warriors crossed the bridge and covered his withdrawal but lost three men to my archers as they did so.

Guffer claims the fight as honours even because he knocked me down. I say he went home with his tail between his legs. Thanks be to God.

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