The Story Of Axilles and Astrogarde - Part 6 – The battle of Silfawn
The ranks of Drumeras army were lined upon the western side of the great Silfawn valley. His cavalry, who were all Winkong noblemen, officers drawn from the ruling families of the twelve tribes; his infantry who were Winkong peasents trained for war aswell as hired mercenaries from beyond the western isles and his archers who were slaves from the conquered islands of Numa and Artan.
Lastly, the armies of the Traitors Covenant marched behind them and among the traitors sat the Duke of Saneka-Vanegra with a cowl covering his shameful face but with his family crest and colours clearly visible.
At the head of the Cavalry sat Drumera; not upon a dappled Seatreader, but upon a looted black war stallion called Bragad and in his right hand he held the fiercesome hell-blade.
On the eastern rim of the valley were the assembled knights and the infantries of Lovingod and their archers. The king of Lovingod sat upon a milk white mare, called Lanam, which was symbol of the eternal mother and carried the crest of the church aswell as the crown as part of its green and blue livery and by the kings side,yet unknown to him or any other, was brave Axilles – the magical locket making him invisible to all. “My king, do not fear. Hear my whisper in your heart and have courage. I have sworn to your son Prince Astrogarde that I shall protect you and I will keep that promise”.
“Honorable men of Lovingod”, said the king, turning to face his troops, “The dragon approaches that has the head of a tyrant king. Gods lead pulls and the lion of Lovingod is summoned but the lion is more than an emblem within a crest. The great lion of Lovingod has four thousand hearts today and four thousand souls and four thousand hallowed heads upon which rests the crown of our nation and upon eight thousand sturdy legs it walks forward into battle and with eight thousand strong arms it fights and it bears four thousand talons of long,curved lovingian steel and in its throat can be heard four thousand brave voices that roar out the fury of heaven.
The dragon approaches that has the head of a tyrant king and the leash of the devil is round its throat and wherever its feet tread they leave ruin and chaos,carnage and fire
and wherever its wing spreads, the law of evil flourishes and so God pulls upon the golden lead of destiny and the great lion is summoned. Honest men of Lovingod, you are the pride within the lion,and a lion is within the heart of each one of you and when the lion roars it shall be heard throughout the realm and it shall echo throughout the ages that follow. Advance,honest men, to honour,to glory or to the fields of heaven, advance!”.
Now the drums began to pound and the trumpets sounded and the honest men of Lovingod advanced and across the valley came a volley of arrows from the archers of the Winkongvasse and all the Lovingian troops raised their long shields and most were protected from the arrow although some were hit and fell but strangely for the king an arrow meant for him seemed to be stopped in mid air. “How strange is this”, he thought, “The arrow seemed to hit a wall of air and stop dead and fall to the ground before it could reach me?”.
The duke of Ankoll who rode by the kings side also saw the arrow and was equally stunned. “My oath!”, he exclaimed, “Perhaps God has sent an angel to protect you?”.
But it was not an angel,although he was angel like in goodness and courage,it was the invisible shield of Axilles that hovered unseen about the battle to protect the king for his beloved Astrogarde.
However, the king dismissed it as a freak occurance and gave the signal to halt and for their archers to fire. There was an upward curving rain of arrows and they fell upon the Winkongmen and as all Lovingian archers mark their arrows with a prayer so some of the prayers hit their targets and some of the Winkongmen were given a swift elevation to heaven.
Now the archers on both sides retreated and the proper battle commenced. The silver and black armoured cavalries clashed and the thousands strong infantries roared as they rushed forward in a great wave and at the heads of the two great armies the King of Lovingod met the Tyrant Drumera and the kings sword met the terrible hell-blade.
“King you are nothing before the dark powers I wield”, said Drumera, “This fight will be short and your stay in torment will be long”.
However, King Drumera did not see the invisible form of Axilles beside his horse. “Their battle is too frenzied for me to intervene”, thought Axilles, “But perhaps there may be some other way in which I can protect the king without coming between their blades” and thinking this, Axilles saw the saddle upon King Drumeras horse and, using nothing more than a childs pocket knife, he sawed through the straps that held the saddle in place and, in the giddy motion of fierce battle, Drumeras horse rose up and the evil king fell from off of his dark stallion and as he fell backwards he let go the hilt of the hell-blade and as he did so Axilles seized the blade and because Axilles was invisible the demon sword seemed,to king and all, to float in mid air and then, to the awe and surprise of the king of Lovingod the hilt of the blade was offered to him. “Take the evil blade by the hilt, my king, and convert it to good use. Bury it within the stone heart of King Drumera so that this battle can be ended and we can all go home to bed”.
And,believing that this must be the angel of destiny talking to him, the king seized the hilt and ended the evil Drumera’s heart-beating while he lay upon his back in the mud, which might have been cowardly if it had been an ordinary man who had been slain and not the demon fuelled monster and butcher Drumera,and all the knights and soldiers who saw this strange and marvellous thing cheered. However when the sword hit Drumeras heart then blood spurted over Axilles’s invisible form and he was partly visible from the red stain. “My angel is stained with blood”, exclaimed the king and tried to wipe the air clean and this startled Axilles and so he clutched his magic locket and wished himself away from the scene of battle.
“Be good”, said Axilles, “Isn’t that what angels say? Put this victory to good use and be a good king to your people. I must be gone”.
And more awkwardly than any real angel, Axilles disappered. “How strange and
ungainly my Angel spoke”, thought the king, “He spoke like a boy and yet he brought us victory over evil and so god bless him”.
But not everyone upon the field blessed Axilles, although the enemy soldiers were fairly treated by a kind and god loving king, “You have all been under a dark spell.
Now go home and reclaim your own lands for god”, he told the defeated ones, but the covenant of traitors were rounded up and put in chains to be locked in the traitors dungeon and await the only penalty for treason in Lovingian law, execution and that included the Duke of Saneka – Vanegra, father of Axilles.
This worry weighed heavilly upon the head of Axilles when, in his private quarters, he removed his blood spattered chain mail and prepared a secret bath to remove Drumeras blood and, as he bathed, his step-mother, who was a demon changeling,
walked in and saw the bloody water in the bath tub and asked, “Who’s blood is that,
“It is the blood of the evil king, Drumera”, said Axilles, with a little tone of pride in his voice, “I was just at the battle of Silfawn and used the locket which you gave me to end his evil”.
The demon step-mother was horrified, “That locket was to be used to grant your selfish desires,not to help others. How could this happen? You have thwarted a demons plan with a demons charm?”.
“Was it an evil charm? I had no idea. I would not have touched it,had I known but I suppose that my one great desire is the love of my fair Astrogarde and to have him
I had to slay all who would hurt his father”.
The step mother was angered and Axilles saw her beautiful young face change into an evil and frightening appearance. “You will give me back the locket and I shall curse you and take your soul”, she shrieked.
The locket was still around Axilles’s neck and the evil stepmother tried to seize it with hands which were withered and clawed but the charm now burned her hands when she touched it. “Damnation”, she exclaimed, “Your good deeds have converted the power of the charm from evil to good and so I cannot take it back, not until it is again used for evil. I will go for now but beware, I will be watching your fate and it will be twisted towards evil ends, then when I have made you do evil I will take back my locket, your life and your soul”, and the evil step-mother faded and vanished as if only a nightmare saying, as she dissolved into the air, “I must go to witness your fathers execution. His soul is now ripe and ready to eat and when he writhes upon the gallows then I will pluck it out.”
Axilles gasped, “Oh, mad treacherous father, though I abhor you, I still love you and I cannot let that evil wretch feed upon your soul” and so, dressing quickly, Axilles used his locket to transport himself to the side of his beloved Astrogarde, “My love. I have done as you wished. Your father is saved and the battle is won. Now you must use your influence as a kings son to save my father from the gallows. I will take you to your fathers side in the palace of Klanbek and you must implore him,on my behalf to spare my father, the Duke of Saneka-Vanegra”.
“But why would my Father wish your father harm?”, asked Astrogarde.
“It is a matter of great shame for me but my father turned against his king and fought upon the enemies side at the Silfawn, he is to be hung for high treason in the courthouse of Klanbeck and yet you and your father owe me his life. Without this traitor’s son your father would be lying dead upon the muddy valley floor, without me
Drumera would be feasting at Klanbeck and hanging twenty faithful dukes and earls
Instead of my father. I have betrayed my father to save yours but I will not condemn him to death”.
And so Astrogarde agreed to plead with his father and Axilles called upon the power of the locket and,embracing,they were both transported to the throne room of Klanbeck.
The king was greatly surprised to see his son at the palace rather than safe within the fortress of Nye, but so many strange things had happened that day and so the king dismissed the strangeness of it. “My lord,my father”, said Astrogarde, bowing before the king, “I am here to ask for you to pardon the life of the Duke of Saneka-Vanegra.
He is the father of a friend who has been so very loyal to me and to you and though his father is a traitor,the loyalty of the son has been so great that it is surely enough to pay for the fathers crimes”.
“The son of Saneka-Vanegra?”, said the king, “What loyalty has he shown me?”.
“He was there at the Silfawn today but not by his fathers side. He fought bravely on the side of Lovingod, on the side of your majesty and would have driven a sword through his fathers heart if it were necessary but now he asks for your mercy for the Duke”.
The king smiled, “To tell the truth. I do not like killing or executing. I have no stomach to watch anothers death or agony and I myself was granted some kind of pardon today by the god of mercy,herself and so I will do this one thing for you my son”, and the King summoned one of his court officials, “The one whose title is duke of Saneka-Vanegra. Let him,rather than swing from the gallows, be banished from Lovingod. His lands shall go to his son but let him have a small purse of silver so that his banishment will not be his certain death”.
The court official bowed, “As your majesty wills but what of the other traitors?”.
“They will be hung when the cock crows, as the law of my ancestors dictates”,he declared, “Mercy may be the law of the immortal but survival is the law of things which live and die and since a man possesses both immortal and mortal parts he must weigh up mercy and survival carefully, a too merciful king may be a hero in heaven but he will also be a corpse beneath the earth”.
And so, the father of Axilles was banished to roam outside of the Isle of Lovingod
And never return and Axilles prayed to God that his father might change and learn from his wanderings and his exile,to be a good person and thus to save his soul from the demons who had put their curse upon him.