All three of us would have been slain, and likely any others who dwelt in the small farms nearby, had it not been for the Horn of Faldham. Thrice blown to summon aid, it brought a mounted patrol to the aid of Waelden, Duncadda and I. The bird did less well, though he tried his best. I doubt any others saw him, so small was he against the hulking brute of a Troll attacking us. But I saw him. I saw Herrost. Against an unhelmed man he would have done some damage, but not against this, that even Waelden and Duncadda’s swords could not bite.
I am no Shieldmaiden. Never had I thought to be one. I didn’t have the love of a sword to do justice. Neither did I have the nobility of birth. I wanted to save life. And at that time it was my man and our friend who needed all the aid they could get. Both were well honed warriors, but Wynn and I….well…..we were more like the bird…..perhaps?
As the huge Troll lumbered rather swiftly towards us, Waelden had shouted to Ethel to run. She, mounted on Roan, turned a touch stiffly and grasped Ealdhors’ bridle to lead him and the cart away. I followed her departure with my gaze, until I heard the warhorn of Faldham and the first shout of challenge from Waelden, trying to lead the attacker away from our fleeing girl.
I can’t say I remember much more.
Wynn was a well-bred mare, sired by a war horse, but no warhorse herself. Yet I always knew she had a staunch heart. She turned as I touched the reins, to gallop in a circle around the creature. Had I a bow, like Ethel, I may have done a small amount of damage. But nothing seemed to have much effect against the armoured and armour skinned Troll. When it got close to Waelden, Duncadda was there, shouting challenges of his own in what I thought was elvish. At least his words were like echoes of some distant light.
Hope. We had none, I thought as I lay low across Wynn’s withers. I could hear and feel her pounding heart, or was that my own?
I only had my iron capped staff with me… and the ability to distract. Wynn was swift enough for that.
I was afraid. She was afraid. But we could not stand back.
“Aim at its legs” I think I heard Waelden yell.
Well, I would not care for a whack on the shins from my staff, so I rode in and tried that.
As suspected little happened, though the Troll did make a small moan. (That may have been from Duncadda, wielding his sword to the back?)
Circle and circle. Wynn was breathing hard. Then Duncadda was unseated. The helper overtook the attempted warrior in me and I went to his side.
“Get my horse” he bit back.
He was on his feet, and I could see no copious blood pouring from him, so I did as he asked. Waelden, in the meantime, was trying to lure the creature away from Duncadda and I. That’s when I saw the tiny black speck flying fast at the Troll. ‘Attack crow’, I almost laughed at the futility. My ‘help’ was no better than Herrost’s.
Duncadda was back on his horse, and we were both back in the fray.
Again the swift galloping of the horses, one of us trying to grab the troll’s attention while the other two dared melee distance. Wynn shivered with fear and exhaustion, but she would not betray me.
Circle and circle, in with the staff to strike at the shins. Backing away as the others took the closer position.
Then Waelden fell from Ealfin’s back. I had never seen that before. Man and horse fought as one. But my Greybeard was down.
“Waelden!” I cried, urging Wynn to the space between him and the attacker. He was unconscious.
Time seemed then to slow. I knew Duncadda would be trying to draw the attacker away. I knew we were beaten, and yet…
“A good pack can bring down the greatest beast, where even the strongest individual fails.” A familiar, yet not familiar voice was in my mind. It was like an older, wiser Isa. “Do not give up, she-wolf.”
Then I was back in the battle, striking again and again at the Troll, while Wynn made some well placed kicks. Duncadda had its attention though, his own horse rearing to strike, even as there was the blessed sound of three blasts from another horn.
The thunder of the hooves of heavy warhorses filled the air, and brought in to view the banners of Cliving. They had very sharp ‘fangs’.
It was the ‘pack’ that saved us.
I was off Wynn’s back as soon as possible, to attend to Waelden. But he had regained consciousness and was getting to his feet. None of the three of us, nor our horses had taken a worrying injury. All were bruised, battered and exhausted.
Waelden spoke with the Captain of the Riders, who had by then brought the Troll to the ground with their spears. Ethel was safe, and being lead back to us with Ealdhors and the wagon. She was a bit subdued.
In the distance I saw a crow flying away. Back to his own ‘murder’ hopefully. He and I had tried.
“Ah, but he is a crow, and you are one of us, child.” the voice in my mind said. “I shall teach you more of our ways as you draw closer.”