Tales Of Gallanol : Ch.7 Battle For Morith (Part 1 : Section 2)
Bleddyn rode near the head of the column, talking with Idwal and Morgan. It was the only way to relieve the boredom of the long march. They talked of times past, their victories and embarassments, on the sporting fields and at the parties of Emywid. Each of them was concerned to prove that they had won the most games, and picked the best women. The arguments provoked by their boasting were to be taken only as wit, for all three of them were good sportsmen.
Bleddyn abruptly changed the subject. While they had been talking he had not noticed the change in the surroundings. “These hills are beautiful, so bare and open!” The wide straight road had been climbing gradually for a while, as the land level before and at either side rose about them. The change had been so gradual, but now windswept, snow-clad plateau hills surrounded them on three sides. Ahead of them the road remained wide and straight, but climbed much more steeply up onto the plateau tops of the Kelsa Hills. There were no more trees dotted along the roadside and they had left the farmland plains of Elladein behind.
Morgan pointed out the view of the plain behind. In the distance ahead some of the edges of the Kelsa Hills fell away in craggy gritstone escarpments.
“If I was King Lew this would be the place where I would strike,” said Idwal. “Here or nowhere. Up there where the road gets steep. There is only one way to go, and some of those scarp slopes are near enough the road to have archers or even catapults.”
“I certainly hope not,” said Morgan. “I was hoping King Lew would surrender. I was even beginning to believe it until you said that.”
“I should not worry, Morgan. If they are waiting for us up there we can still beat them easily,” said Bleddyn. “Deneldinhew says their mercenaries have deserted, and Owen says Elladeinis don’t know how to fight.”
“I will believe that,” laughed Idwal. “We have only had one half hour scrape with them so far, and here we are, nearly at Morith, after having traversed the greater part of Elladein.”
“Just sit back and enjoy the scenery, Morgan,” said Bleddyn.
“It’s a bit stark, don’t you think, Bleddyn” said Idwal. “I don’t mean cold, but there are no trees, and the hills are rather flat and uninspiring.”
“But is the view behind you not appealing, Idwal?” said Bleddyn.
“Me, I am a Baerwysian. I do not think Elladein is as attractive,” explained Idwal. Along the Great River we do not have hills as such, but the scarp slopes are tall, and tree clad, with all kinds of beautiful trees. Yet no part of the scarps is the same. Nature is modified by the artistic whims of the landowners in their gardens and their architecture. Beyond the scarps the farmlands are wide but beautiful, punctuated with many more miles of varied forests and meadows and streams. Beside the Great River, the Ella is very uninteresting in my view. Ella Vale is flat. There are no forested scarps on the river banks, and the farmlands are more continuous. The Forest of Liedein is too wild for my liking, and these hills are too bare. For hills I would go to the foothills of Caer and Caerdin provinces and beyond, where there are real mountains, or to Falwent, Lanardein or Prydein.”
“Alright Idwal, you have made your point very persuasively,” returned Bleddyn, “but I have a soft spot for Elladein.”
The rocks began to fall when they were still a long way down from the plateau. The road climbed under the battlements of a gritstone scarp on the left hand side of the road. There was a less steep scarp on the right hand side, set back a long way from the road, across a fast flowing stream. The road turned out of view to the left a little way ahead.
The southern army was splayed out along the road. The Emywid White Guard cavalry in their white cloaks and furs and breastplates were at the front and at the back of the column. The Galdelleinis were towards the front, and the more numerous Baerwysian volunteers and footsoldiers further back. The volunteers wore no distinctive uniform, but leathers and clothing hardened by chemical treatments and helmets, a variety of styles, most of which could commonly be bought in any Gallanolian city.
The Elladeini were on the scarp. Rocks were being catapulted and men were slinging stones onto the southerners below. In addition archers in the rocks near the front end of the column were raining arrows onto the White Guards.
“We had scouts out. They reported there was no one here!” Deneldinhew turned to Eric and Owen, surprise and agitation written all over his face.
“Some of them have not returned yet,” said Eric sourly in answer.
Owen was quick to action. Get those footsoldiers up into the rocks. There are paths in the scarp. The sooner we get the rebels out of those rocks the sooner we win and the less we lose.”
“Right,” agreed Deneldinhew. “Give the order. I want some White Guards to go back down the valley to the river fleet. If the battle is going to be here we need all the soldiers we can get.”
“Rhodri,” he shouted. “Go back to the White Guard and send four of them to get reinforcements, as many as we can get, from Prince Llewelyn and Anarawd. Tell them to come up the far side of the hills.”
Owen, Bleddyn, Idwal and Morgan were already back along the line, and the Baerwysian and Galdelleini footsoldiers were running towards the scarp. The road behind Eric and Deneldinhew was already marked by a few dead and injured bodies, men hit on the head with rocks and stones or stuck by arrows. The forward White Guard had immediately dismounted and covered themselves behind the horses. They had quickly grouped around their leaders to protect them and await orders, but it was here that the arrows sped quickest. The sound of them filled the air. The Elladeini archers were finding the White Guard an easy target.