Cadeyrn's Tale - Part 6
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
- Cadeyrn's Tale - Part 5
Cadeyrn and Aedan meet in a final showdown. Only one will stand, but not without a little help.
From Part 5
One war leads to another. New areas to conquer, but Cadeyrn is feeling the strain - and so is Cathail.
Cathail and I made our way back to the castle. It took days. Our energy and strength were much depleted. We collapsed inside the town gate, and what a wonderful surprise! We were carried to the castle by the rest of my men. They had made it safely home, all but the six. Aedan had been eliminated. Perhaps now I could rest.
That was not to be the case. Caiside, my most reliable soldier, came to me privately. "Oh, King! The land north of Munster is ready to be taken. The king has taken ill and there is no one to lead them into battle. We must leave tonight."
"Yes, tonight," I said. Make ready. We shall leave at dusk. The moon will light our way."
I, the great Cadeyrn, had taken much land, but there was more to take, and it was there for the taking. This would be an easy battle, a quick battle. My Cathail did not see it that way. She wanted to retire to our place in the deep wood by the stream.
I thought back to our first days together in the wood. That stream - so blue and refreshing curving its way through the hillside. The freshest of fresh water, for bathing, for swimming, for fishing. The deep greens of the forest throwing shade over our parcel. The sunlight flitting in and out as a gentle breeze moved the leaves on the ash trees with ease. The quiet, the solitude. It was a gift from the gods.
Truly, this was a place to retire when the body ached from battle. A place where wounds could heal. A place to forget the blood that dripped from my hands. It seemed inviting, but we needed to take advantage of the situation. Yes, We shall leave at dusk. The moon will light our way.
The sun was just beginning to set as I left the castle. With the king taken ill, I predicted an easy victory, but that was not to be. I learned a great lesson about overestimating the power of the enemy, a lesson that would serve me well in the coming battles.
I and my men traveled on as the sun slowly disappeared beyond the horizon. Now the moon would serve as our guide. With many miles before us and only a few behind us, it became necessary to retire for the night. Clouds covered the sky and threatened rain. The moon did not show forth her light.
In the morning we would start our climb through the hills that would lead us to the next war. It seemed that all I knew since I left the sheepfolds was blood and war. I only knew I had to win and build a world where the all-powerful Cadeyrn ruled. My determination would exceed any difficulties we might face along the way.
I felt different about this battle. I realized that the other battles were fought to defend our land, our village, the village King Fergus built. Fergus, for sure, was a man who took what was not his, adding to his kingdom almost daily. He fought the offensive war. After his demise, it became necessary for me to defend and protect what was taken. It was for his purpose we went to war. I went in his name, but when I returned he was no longer. Vengeance became the motive for war.
Certainly, Aedan needed to be eliminated. There was a purpose in these skirmishes that led to bloodshed. But now, now I found myself leading men to war - for what purpose? What reason? Why? The city we were about to take had not challenged us. They had not done any evil against us. Their only crime - their king lay ill.
This was to be a battle of opportunity, nothing more, nothing less. I pushed the thoughts from my mind. A soldier must be disciplined at all times. We traveled on.
Fields of the Might War Battle Anthem
I sent two men on ahead to spy out the city. From their information, I would draw up the battle plan. I moved the troops along and within two days, the spies met us at The Great Crossing. They reported both good news and bad news.
The good news was there was only one gate to the city. The bad news was the walls were high and thick. Could our fire-arrows reach above the height of the wall? It was estimated that two chariots could ride abreast on top of the wall. This could be a serious problem. The heavy stone would be broken down only with great difficulty. That would take much time. Time we didn't have!
This must be a surprise attack. With the king taken ill, the element of surprise would overwhelm the army, and we would be victors once again. I set to planning the battle, but the night was once again falling. I worked by candlelight. We would stay in place this night as I needed to place my attention on the battle plan. I was not to be disturbed. At midnight, Caiside came to my side.
"King, the queen waits for you."
"Yes, yes. I know. This will be a hurried and swift battle. I will return to her soon enough."
"No, my king. I mean the queen stands without. She is here. She says she must see you."
I couldn't have been more surprised. Cathail had traveled these many miles alone, through the cold and dark, through storms of rain. Her news must be very urgent.
"Caiside, bring her to me at once."
Cathail entered the tent and ran to me. We embraced.
"Cathail, what news of such importance do you bring?"
She looked into my eyes. "No news, my lord. I just needed to be with you. I shall fight side by side with you. We shall overcome as one."
I could not believe what I was hearing. With sadness, and with yet annoyance, I said, "My Cathail, you must return at once. The battlefield is no place for the queen. The battle will be swift and powerful. We shall return in but a few days."
"Cadeyrn, was it not I who put an end to King Aedan? It was not you - and with only one arrow, I might say. I shall live or die with you."
Slowly anger began to rise in my being. I did not need her to fight my battles. True, it was her arrow that ended the wicked life of Aedan, but I surely would have removed him myself had she not interfered. War was not the place for the queen to be. She should be safe at home in the castle. I ordered Caiside to return her safely to the castle at once. We would wait in place until his return. Cathail's wreckless carelessness cost us many days in wait. I continued to plan the battle.
The wait for Caiside was prolonged. Perhaps he and Cathail met with danger along the path to the castle. Perhaps nature's forces had delayed them. No matter, we had to continue our drive toward the enemy while we had the opportunity. Time was not on our side. Our desire was for Caiside to meet us along the way, but we also knew he may never return.
King Cormac lay sick in the castle. He would be unable to lead his men into battle, but given too much time, the opposing army would regroup and be ready once again to fight. We pushed through the hill country leading to the north and the fruit ready to be plucked.
it wasn't long on our first day of the continued journey that we met a man wandering in our path. His name was Senan. He asked of our mission. I told him I was the Great Cadeyrn and we were heading to war with Cormac's troops. He assured us of his hatred for Cormac and would lead us to his city. He spoke of the sickness of the king, and that he knew a way through the gate if we allowed him to travel with us. We agreed.
He told of how he was abused by the court of Cormac but finally found a way to escape. Revenge was in his heart. After stopping for the night, we made our plans to attack.
The news Senan brought gave us much happiness. The king was indeed very ill. The army was discouraged and had lost the will to fight. If we could approach the gate between dusk and dawn, the city would be sleeping. Senan had discovered a way to unlock the city gate from the outside. This he would do while we rush the sleeping city. It would all be over in a matter of hours. We made final the plans and continued on. Tomorrow night we would attack. That was the night I learned the lesson in warfare I shall never forget.
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© 2019 William Kovacic