Kegan and his men charged up the road towards the village screaming Kegan’s name as their battle cry. The villagers guarding the bridge looked uncertain, and some of them looked terrified, but they held their ground.
There were two men with bows among the villagers exchanging arrows with Kegan’s three archers. They were ineffective, but both sides were only using the archers to keep up appearances while luring their enemies into a false sense of security.
Kegan easily outsprinted the rest of his men due to his physical fitness and his running perk. He reached the bridge first and then the half-circle barrier on the other side of the bridge. The villagers had set it up that way to allow them to attack from a wide arc while funneling the attackers into a tight space.
Kegan was carrying a spear in each hand and he aimed for the middle of the formation where three of the men at arms were stationed. A half dozen spears were thrust out to meet him, but Kegan had more reach than all of them. He’d choked up his grip on the spears and thrust them far out ahead of his body. Each one ramming into a different man at arms. His forward momentum had been slowed down by each of the spears, and the half dozen spears thrust at him lost power as they reached his armor. The defenders were thrusting intending to hold onto their spears, but Kegan lost both of his as the falling soldiers took the spears with them.
The man on Kegan’s left had seen the attack and backed off just enough at the last second that the spear tip only pierced into his chest by an inch. He would live with a wound like that. The other man hadn’t been so lucky, he’d taken Kegan’s attack as an opportunity to thrust his spear, so his body had moved into Kegan’s attack. The full three-inch spear tip had shattered his cheap chainmail, gone straight through the layer of quilted armor, and buried itself in his heart. He’d be dead moments after hitting the ground.
There were still spears being thrust ineffectively at Kegan where he stood at the edge of the bridge. He quickly grabbed one from a frightened-looking peasant and yanked it out of the man’s grip. Then he swung the spear like a sword. The sharpened tip flying dangerously close to the villagers at the front of the barrier. They all backed away in fear, giving Kegan a little more room to avoid all of the jabbing spears at the base of the bridge.
One brave peasant tried to swing his spear against Kegan’s. The spears collided and the peasant’s spear was knocked away. Kegan took the opportunity to thrust his stolen spear at the startled man’s face. The thrust was a little off and instead of going into the man’s skull it grazed his left eye socket, cutting open his eye, and opening up a gash going back towards his ear.
The man’s horrified screams mixed with the war cry of Kegan’s men as they finally crossed the bridge and caught up with him. The four remaining men at arms were trying to keep the peasants at the barrier, but Kegan’s brutality had frightened about half of them into fleeing.
Two of Kegan’s men were carrying large wooden shields with one hand and a short ax in the other hand. If any spear tips got caught in the wooden shield they’d use the axes to hack away at the spears. Someone was behind each shield-bearer just holding a long spear and using the shield-bearer as cover to attack the peasants behind the barrier.
Three more peasants were wounded and the rest were on the verge of breaking. Kegan had borrowed a spear from his men and had been waiting for an opportunity. He finally saw one. A gap had opened from two peasants losing their nerve, and one of the men at arms was trying to shove them back up against the barrier. Kegan’s spear thrust was lightning quick, and the man never saw his death coming. The spear tip went in his eye socket to the back of the man’s skull, his other eye exploded out with brain matter and blood covering the two frightened peasants.
That was the end of the left side of the barrier. A gap opened up from the retreating peasants, and it quickly spread around to the right side of the barrier.
Kegan’s men knocked down the barriers and acted like they were about the chase down the fleeing peasants, but instead, they stopped and started cheering.
“Kegan! Kegan! Kegan!”
Kegan just nodded at them and smiled. The cheering went on for a minute until it ran out of steam and died down. The men started looking around and looking at Kegan for hints of what to do next.
Kegan was feeling almost as lost as they were. He was hoping the enemy would just come charging out during the chant, and he’d seen a few villagers peeking out from their hiding spots.
A few more moments of silence passed until Kegan came up with a solution while staring at the flimsy huts. He grabbed a broken piece of wood from the barrier and lit it on fire using his fire starter perk.
“Gather around, grab some of these pieces. We’re burning it all down.”
He lit a few other pieces of wood before throwing the first one at the nearest hut. The pops and cracks of wood-burning were enough to get the men hiding in the hut to rush out. One of the knights was among them, and when he shouted ‘attack’ more men started pouring out of nearby huts.
“Ambush! Get back on the other side of the bridge!”
Kegan and his men backed up across the bridge. Kegan had told them that there would be an ambush, but he had downplayed the numbers. The fear in most of his men’s eyes was real, they hadn’t expected to fight twice as many men.
Kegan held a spear and a shield. There were about ten archers and two crossbowmen among the villagers. His shield had already caught a half dozen arrows and a crossbow bolt by the time the first villager got close enough for him to attack.
It was an eager young peasant boy, he couldn’t have been older than fourteen. Kegan growled in annoyance that they’d use boys to fight, he whacked him across the head with the shaft of his spear. The boy was knocked out cold, there was a chance he’d live, not a good chance, but mercy was a luxury Kegan couldn’t afford in the heat of battle. As soon as the boy was knocked out the next man wasn’t a villager at all. It was the armored knight that had called out the order to charge.
He was carrying a sword and shield. Kegan tried to thrust his spear into the knight’s face, but the shield was held high and easily blocking his spear.
Kegan had been standing out in front of the bridge on the village side, but he was quickly pushed back as the knight pressured him. The villagers and men at arms around the knight were being cautious and keeping behind the knight as much as possible.
Once Kegan had been pushed back about halfway across the bridge he decided now was the time.
“Do it men!”
All of Kegan’s men pulled out the javelins they had been carrying with them. Kegan had made sure before the battle that they all knew how to throw the javelins.
Suddenly the air above and around Kegan was filled with over two dozen javelins. There was a moment of stunned silence before the javelins landed and the screaming began.
By delaying the front of the charge, Kegan had forced all of the villagers to get bunched up on their side of the bridge. He’d known for a while now that hardly anyone else used javelins, and because he’d also not used any javelins earlier the villagers were caught completely by surprise.
The men directly in front of Kegan were surprised, but unharmed. He jumped forward sliding his spear low and to the right of the knight and jamming it into the abdomen of one of the men at arms. The knight didn’t look back or even pause for a moment. Instead, he used the opportunity to get within striking distance and swing his sword at Kegan in an overhand chop.
Kegan pushed his shield out to meet the sword, instead of waiting for it to land. The additional force allowed the sword to cut into the top of the wooden shield. The stronger reverb had also caught the knight off guard, and when Kegan twisted his shield the knight lost his grip on his sword.
Kegan grabbed the knight’s shield and yanked it, trying to rip it free. But the shield was strapped tightly too tightly to the knight’s arm. Kegan gave up on killing the knight, and instead just yanked him sideways over the edge of the bridge and into the small creek below.
He’d taken a few moments too long with the knight and there were now three spears jammed into his armor and digging into his skin. His men came up behind him to support him, and the men at arms were forced to back off enough to give Kegan room to retreat.
Kegan used the break to observe the rest of the battlefield. The javelins had been effective in dealing with the peasants. A little less than twenty of them were dead or wounded on the other side of the creek, the rest had run. About five of the men at arms were seriously wounded and taken out of the fight. Only one looked dead. The other two knights were near the back ordering the men around.
The third knight that Kegan had thrown into the stream was making his way back out of the stream on the village side. He was stumbling and having trouble making it up the bank. Kegan realized the knight had fallen about eight feet into water that was only a foot deep, the landing must have hurt more than any blows he’d inflicted.
The remaining men at arms had started gathering the javelins and were throwing them back at Kegan’s men.
“Hold the Javelins!” Some of his men had been throwing javelins back again. Kegan didn’t want to give the enemy any more ammunition.
The situation on the bridge was mostly a stalemate, with no one on either side being wounded after Kegan left the fight. Just three men on each side thrusting spears at each other’s shields and getting nowhere.
Kegan tried to break the stalemate for a moment by throwing a javelin over his men’s shoulders right into the front row of men at arms. A man’s head exploded, ripped open by Kegan’s overpowered javelin throw from only ten feet away.
His men shouted in bloodthirsty joy before pushing forward. But the men at arms reformed quickly enough and although the other two men up front were lightly wounded they managed to retreat and be replaced with some fresh bodies.
Kegan was about to throw another javelin when he saw movement and color in the village. Some of the villagers that had fled earlier were running back toward the battle at the bridge. Then he saw what they were running from. Horsemen, wearing the colors of Trivary. Fifteen of them were charging down the road towards the bridge, lances lowered.
Kegan felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise, his head whipped around. Ten horsemen wearing Trivary’s colors were coming out of the woods from behind his men. They lowered their lances and spurred their horses into a full charge. The third ambush of the day had begun, and Kegan was pining for the simpler days of fighting orcs.