17 Of those laying upon the grass - 1213
My sword slashed down the face of a man, brown hair flowing backwards as he grunted. His weapon was inches away from my leg. He twisted and fell. His horse leaped right over his prone form. I forced my own ride on through the fighting crowd although I knew the mare to be drained after more than three hours of battle.
The smell of blood, dirt and horses inundated me as the clash of metal filled the air.
I knew Guichard to have fallen. The report had been given to me not long after I started partaking in the fight.
Hearing a shout on my left, I stabbed my sword through the belly of an advancing soldier. Another felled one of my guards as he rode past. My horse reared and whined. Only barely keeping my seat, I kicked her in the side.
I kept on a cautious pace. My sword drawn. My breath rapid. I felt a hand close around on my leg. A man whom I had taken for dead, had risen from the ground and strived to pull me from the saddle.
"Komm her, du –"
I lashed out with the handle. Hitting him on the bridge of his nose. As the man fell - blood on my hand from his nostrils - I felt my horse jerk. Her hooves skipped a step. I saw the second haul just as she fell onto her neck. I hit the ground before I thought to protect myself - shouted at impact - and rolled once before my back hit an overthrown cart. The sky above my head spun; a blur of blue, grey and white. I sucked in a breath, coughing and tightening my fist around the sword in my hand. My helmet was gone. My hair had fallen into my eyes. I shoved my back against the cart for support and sat upwards. Blinking away the fuzziness, I realised my guard had descended their horses and held a protective formation around me.
"I'm good," I said, and accepted Auguste's arm.
As I was pulled to a standing, I saw a man rush towards me and dodged the blow by throwing myself to the left. The sword buried itself deep into the shield of Auguste. I lashed out. The man heaved up his arm to protect himself, taking the blow there. He picked up a fallen sword and lunged towards me again.
"No!" I snapped, clashing metal on metal.
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The man used his hip to knock me back, breaking our weapons apart. A spear hit him full in the chest. I withdrew. Auguste stepped forward and retrieved the weapon from the man's ribcage.
My guard smiled, though the ardour did not reach his eyes. His posture being as cold as a statue cut from marble.
Another advanced and stabbed up feebly. The brown haired guard on my left cut him down. He fell on me - screaming and grabbing at my throat - his nails digging into my skin.
I hit him. He sagged. Blood escaping from between his lips. By the time I stepped over him he had stopped moving. I turned away and breathed in deeply, as the air attempted to seize in my lungs. I looked about the field around me– my horse twitching but a few feet away, blood dripping off my hand. Two guards cutting down an enemy soldier. Scratches on their face. The flash of a sword.
I breathed out.
The rush of battle calmed down as enemy soldiers began throwing down their weapons. I called on a guard for his horse, had another hand me my lost helmet, and proceeded towards Konstanz while the defeated men were rounded up. Once we crossed the bridge and rode into the city, we were met with near no resistance. A courier informed me of the state of the city's castle, a fortified mansion, which proved to be the remaining challenge. Its last defence had retreated behind the stone walls.
Arriving upon the scene, I jumped down from my horse and found refuge beside a marble statue of some roaring lion flanking the entry road to the estate. Some of my troops remained in the standard fighting line out of range of the defenders' crossbows and tar.
I exposed myself briefly and distinguished arrowheads peeking out all along the battlements. My men fell with startling rapidity. Surveying the structure, I knew that with but a few strategic attacks we would easily take their position. The castle was built to defend against small parties, such as raiders, but would not survive the attack of an army such as mine, much less a siege.
A sharp pain overtook my senses and I cried out. An arrow had grazed the slit between my helmet and harness; a lucky shot, yet bloody. I slumped down on my knees. The arrow had left a fine line across the base of my neck. Though I had initially been consumed by the pain, it faded, and a numbness took over. With caution, I attempted to move, resulting in a sting that went trough my whole upper body. My breath quickened.
I have been shot. I have been shot. Oh God, I have been shot.
Swallowing, and flinching as the cut moved, I placed my hand upon it. A quiver went through my spine. Tears welled up. Panicking, I looked about for help.
No answer. A few soldiers looked back, confused, but were unable to spot me hiding behind the statue.
Hiding, again; it dawned on me. I heard moans and wails, even the exaltation of prayer; the sounds of human suffering and fear. Regarding the men laying across the grass, arrows sticking upwards from their lifeless bodies, I took my hand from the wound, paying it no further mind as I clenched my jaw while the blood wet the satin garments I wore beneath my chain mail.
It was my claim upon the throne these men were defending. It was my cause that had brought them here. I took off my helmet so I might fix my gaze on the sky. Resting my head against the cool marble behind me, I let the mere whisper of a moan escape. I regarded the heavens and fought the tears; this time I would not cry, nor would I plead.
I was to be the Holy Roman Emperor, and I would not entreat.