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Battle of Houndsfort

dominance

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Small note before you begin reading, I have to inform you of a few things. This story is part of the War of The Wolves(link) and this is one POV chapter from my character, Alexander Stokeworth. Another POV chapter will come soon from another character. I highly recommend you read with the music I posted, I've spent quite some time getting fitting music for this story. I hope you enjoy your read.




Men of all ages had manned the walls and arrow towers, they gazed at Alexander as he passed by, his red cape dragging itself across the floor as it followed him. Equipped with the finest armour that gold could afford, Alexander was the most decorated man on the walls, and perhaps even the entire siege. Alexander could see the lack of hope in the faces of the men and in the manner they talked, it loomed throughout the air and was definitely felt throughout the atmosphere.
Alexander looked outwards, occupied within his own thoughts, he had considered escaping as an option multiple times already, but he knew that he could not live with the shame of cowardice, of abandoning hundreds of men, women and children to the fate of a man whose ambition outgrew his love for his nephew.

The enemy army was lining up in formation, a safe distance away from the castle walls, perhaps to avoid any potential missile fire. In whatever direction Alexander gazed, he’d see a shieldwall with the sigil of house Blæcwulf. The enemy had numbers, that was for sure, and they had the defenders by the thousands. He felt glad that the attackers could only mount an assault from one side of the wall, he’d ordered the construction of a moat during the winter, but the moat was unfinished and covered all but one side of the wall. Alexander had hoped to have it’s construction completed by the time the snows melted but it had taken more time than he expected. Regardless it was at least something that would prevent the attackers from using their full numbers and completely surrounding them.

A small group of seven horsemen strolled out of the groups of infantry being organized by their officers, making a slow approach. They maintained distance between the horses, lined up in a looser wedge formation, with one in the front, two behind him and four at the back, all of them holding the sigil of house Blæcwulf on their lances. It was similar to the Aethelwulf banner, yet the wolf was black and it stood on a red field, the wind wildly slapping the cloth. This was surely a request for a parley.
Alexander mounted his horse, along with two of his father’s sworn knights and four of Godric’s household knights, riding out the gates at a slow walk, using the same formation with four horses at the back to represent Aethelwulf colors and the two in the middle to carry the Stokeworth sigil. Alexander’s black destrier elegantly paced its’ way through the stumps of cut off trees, no doubt used for the construction of siege equipment. Alexander raised his left hand to signal his companions, bringing their horses to a halt. The man on the opposite side of him did the same. The two horses now stood almost in front of each other.
Alexander saw a lord in front of him, this was no messenger or commander, judging by his clothing and decorated armour.

“Lord Benedictus, I must assume?”
“It is I, yes, and who may you be?”
“My name is Alexander, son of Raymund of house Stokeworth”
“Your house, I have never heard of it in these lands, is it foreign?”
“It is foreign, yes, a minor house from Wessex”
“What is your business here, foreigner?”
“I have no business with you, my father brought gold, supplies and men to Lord Godric, I am here in his stead”
“Is your father that much of a coward to send his son to fight a war that is not even his?”
“My father is no coward, pretender. He has more important matters to attend to than to be here fighting this petty war of yours”
“Petty, eh? How many troops has your father brought?”
“A thousand men, a sellsword company, the Company of A Thousand Swords they call themselves”
“Sellswords?, Pha!, I’d offer them ten more gold coins than your father and they’d flock to my side!”
“Not all sellswords flock to gold, these men are loyal to house Stokeworth”
“Aye, we’ll see how loyal they are once the news of my victory here reach them”
“This castle, you cannot attack it from all sides, what makes you think you’ll win here?”
“Tell me, Stokeworth, how many battles have you fought, how many men have you slain?”
“I’ve seen battlefields, but took no part, I’ve seen men die, but I’ve slain none.”
“And how many trembling boys and old men hold this wall? No more than a thousand?
Alexander did not respond.
Benedictus allowed a smile to slip through his bearded and aged face, satisfied by Alexander’s silence “There are traitors within your walls, did you not think of that? By the end of each night I receive reports of the castle, I even know the color of the bed you lay in, the time you have your supper, how many times a day you train and who you spar with.”
“If you assault many will die, are you willing to sacrifice this many men?”
“Perhaps I may lose a thousand, or two thousand men, all the same, this war will be over once I take this castle, Eastguard will declare for me, and Lord Wictgils will disband Godric’s cause”
“When this castle falls, and when Godric meets you in the field, you will have no food to feed your men and neither will you have enough numbers to win a battle on a field.”
“So it is you who sent those boys to burn our camps? Yet you doomed them to their deaths”
“They were well aware of the dangers of the task presented to them, they did a fine job, burnt a few of your tents, perhaps some of your men, the trebuchet too, yet most importantly your food supplies are no more, all you’ll get from this castle are its’ empty larders”
The usurper had lost his patience and did not wish to speak anymore, instead he struck Alexander with a proposal “Tell the men to lay down their swords and walk out the gates, every man will be spared and no woman or child shall be harmed, yield this castle for their sakes and I shall allow your father to pay your ransom and will even return you to him as you arrived, alive and well. This is not your war, foreigner”
“A foreigner I am, and this war neither is mine, but I do not trust the words of an ungodly man. You have bled the realm for far too long. Lay down your arms and end this war, let your nephew have his rightful seat and surrender, your life will be spared, you have my word, and if Godric were to be merciful he would even let you have your former titles”
“You have the nerve to demand my surrender? You? Some foreign bastard?”
“You fool, there is no victory here. Yes, we are no more than a thousand men, and yes we can’t hold this castle forever, but I’ll have you know that we will all fight for our lives, and all of us will take two of yours before falling, and when you meet Lord Godric in the field, you will be destroyed”
“That is my concern, not yours, foreigner. I will ask you once more to yield this castle, I do not wish to spill blood if unnecessary”

Alexander turned to the castle walls, yet he gazed at his escort of knights
“No surrender!” he shouted twice, until they caught on and repeated with him, and soon enough the entire castle was chanting. Alexander turned to the usurper, a wide and cocky smile painted on his face.
“Then so be it, perhaps your father will only receive your head, if any of it remains”
“Perhaps if I have yours, I’ll grant you the honor of placing it on a spike at the gates”
“We shall see, Stokeworth, come the morning we shall see”
“Eat well before the battle usurper, for it may be the last time that you do”
Alexander turned and galloped away back to the castle, accompanied by his small envoy.




As much as he did not want to admit it, his opponent was right, there was no way this battle would be won, Alexander could hold this castle for a couple more days, but he could not win. The thought of being ransomed however slightly reassured Alexander, that perhaps he may have a chance to walk out of this castle alive.
Alexander had some training during winter, a good four months of intense daily drilling by Godric’s best knights had served him well. They taught him stances and movements first, then they moved on to parrying and timing attacks, and lastly to managing stamina and lasting long in a fight. He was able to spar and hold his ground with knights who had seen many battles and fought many men, an impressive feat indeed, some even believed he had natural talent and questioned why his father hadn’t sent him to the path of knighthood, then he remembered. “Father already had two sons as knights, it would be foolish to have all of his sons knighted and sent off to battle, therefore, I had to be the one with the wit in him, I was the last resort, the what if my brothers died. I’m the third in line and mother expects another boy to come” He was also taught a couple of dirty tricks by his father’s sworn knights, not so honorable, but they could get him out of a tricky situation, in case he would ever get in one. By the time the snows melted and Lord Blæcwulf made his way to the castle, Alexander had been taught to fight much better than the average peasant armed with an axe.

Night would come within a few hours”, he thought. Noon had long past and the sun was beginning to set down. The opposing army showed movement, some men grabbing ladders and others planting wooden barricades to shield against archer fire.
The defenders began lighting up fire pots to ignite their arrows, boys and men alike carried rocks and arrows up to the battlements to be hurled upon the enemy once within range.
Alexander simply observed the enemy from the battlements. This was it, he thought to himself, For twenty years he had lived a life of luxury and constant travel, he had seen the whole world and its’ wonders, he had travelled from London to Paris, through the Iberian peninsula and out to the ruins of the once great city of Carthage, he had seen the glory of Alexandria and Jerusalem, the famed city of Damascus and the magnificence of Constantinople, the merchant paradises of Venice and Genoa and the eternal city of Rome. And now here he was, ready to die in a foreign land, fighting a foreign war in a foreign castle, commanding foreign troops. There was a single row of archers, at least a hundred that he could roughly count, who were ready to loose arrows at the enemy, Alexander assumed temporary command to at least launch the first few volleys and leave the rest to the officers. The attackers were definitely approaching, men carried ladders and shields were placed up high in a slow march, slowly coming in firing range.

“Archers! To your marks!”
“Stand to!”
After every command Alexander would state, the officers around him would repeat the orders so that they may be heard by all.
“Nock and set!”
The archers ignited their arrows.
“Draw!”
“Hold!”
Alexander could not tell whether the opposing army was in range yet he had to loose soon enough. Every arrow was valuable, considering they didn’t have enough arrows for eight thousand men.
“Loose!”
Hundreds of arrows whistled through the sky, lighting up the night. Some arrows hit dirt, others wood, some hit shields and others pierced through flesh. Bodies would drop, some would rise once more and some would not, a man carrying a ladder would fall, and another would take his place and continue. This would not do. “The enemy must be punished for making such an unprepared assault”, Alexander thought.
“Nock and set!”
“Draw!”
“Loose!”
Alexander released another volley, more men fell, but more men came to replace them all the same. Volley after volley, it was to no avail, the enemy had numbers. Alexander could be useful somewhere else other than commanding archers.
“Maintain volley fire, once the ladders are up fire at will, let half of the archers throw stones down at them and maintain suppressive fire, don’t let them get up those ladders” Alexander commanded the officer, while walking down to the right side of the front wall, flanked by his father’s sworn knights, Ser Aldo and Ser Theodric. The ladders already reached the walls, though there was not much the attackers could do, a ladder would go up and it would get kicked down, a man would try to climb it and he would have a stone hurled at him, or an arrow aimed at him. If a man was lucky enough to even scale the walls, three would be waiting for him at the top.
The walls would hold for now”, he thought.
“Ram!” Alexander heard the yell come from somewhere, he ran to the gatehouse in a hurry, his cape flying behind him as his bodyguards followed him. A ram there was indeed, it was flanked by about a dozen men, each holding shields in one arm and carrying the ram in the other.
Alexander did not anticipate the battering ram, what a fool he was, he thought to himself. The gates were the most vulnerable part of any castle, it was common knowledge, and yet he had not even thought about it.
“The oil! You bastards get the oil!” yelled an officer in a panic “Loose, Loose! Come on! Put your backs into it, Kill the bastards!”, another demanded for more rocks, some archers complained that they had no arrows. It was a mess. The defence would crumble if left like this, but Alexander could not allow that.
“Ser Theodric, rally five hundred men and meet me at the gates, Ser Aldo, represent me on the walls and maintain order”
Both knights obeyed, running to fulfil their duties while Alexander made his way down the gates.
“Heave!”
“Ahoou!”
A thump hit the gates, Alexander barely heard the officer on the other side yelling orders.
“Heave!”
“Ahouu!”
Another thump, this gate would not hold very long.

Soon enough, Ser Theodric came, he brought men with maces and axes, a few spearmen, some sellswords and no more than half a dozen knights and their squires made their way down the gates, all lining up in formation behind Alexander, about five hundred men strong. Ser Theodric stood right beside Alexander.
“Heave!”
“Ahouu!”
A dent was formed, the gate was soon going to be smashed open. Alexander turned around to face his sortie, his men.


"Men! I would rather fight by your side than any army of millions! You’ve seen all those banners out there, those are eight thousand men holding them, right out these gates, all willing to come and kill us. For every man we have there are about 8 of them. We are outnumbered greatly, for we are only nine hundred who will stand against them. But our cause is righteous, we stand in the face of injustice, against a man who had betrayed his own family to fulfil his own greedy ambitions. God is on our side, and if God is with us, then who can stand against us?"
The men cheered as Alexander said the words of house Aethelwulf, he reached for the hilt and drew his weapon from its scabbard, an impressive longsword smithed from the finest steel, imported from distant lands, even beyond the far reaches of Persia. The sword had patterns of waves and some signs of a leaf, or perhaps a flower, it was difficult to tell, though without doubt it was a lord's weapon forged in Damascus. He raised the dark, patterned sword high and pointed it above his head.
"Bastards, blacksmiths, coppersmiths, goldsmiths, merchants, traders, bakers, farmers, hunters, fishermen, craftsmen, gardeners, messengers, servants, soldiers, squires, officers, knights or lords, none of this matters today. Today we are all brothers of the sword, and as my brothers I tell you, let them know how menacing we are, let them taste our fury! Look at all those men knocking on your gates, these same men who wish to come and burn your home, plant a bastard in your women and kill your children! Over their corpses stand the glory of battle, it is yours for the taking! And with their blood you shall fill the books of history with your names! Today we fight, and today we win, No surrender!"




The men chanted at Alexander's final words, "No surrender!" they all exclaimed in unison. While Alexander's impressive speech moved some men, it never changed the fact that they were still outnumbered eight to one and would need a miracle to even win this. Alexander had considered letting someone else take lead of the charge, yet it would not do. He had to put his head out there for morale’s sake, thus, he had to lead the charge. If this was the day Alexander would meet death, then so be it, there was no better death for a man than that in a battle.
The chant continued on without Alexander starting it this time. Even the men from the walls joined the chant, the castle was loud again. “Lord Blæcwulf would hear this” , Alexander thought to himself, no matter where he was, Godric’s men were mocking him.
“Heave!”
“Ahouu!”

“My brothers in arms! Many generations before us have held this castle, it has never fallen before, and it will not fall tonight! Your fathers and grandfathers have held this castle, their fathers and grandfathers before them too, we shall do the same in their honor! Tonight we fight! And when dawn breaks I promise you Houndsfort will stand!”
“Yeah!” the men cheered
“We will stand!”
“Yeah!” even louder this time

The gate was smashed open, small logs of wood, as deadly as javelins flung out of it, there was no going back now. Battle was upon him. This was the only way, if the gates were to fall, then this castle would fall too. Alexander hoped that the men at the wall were holding well.
“With me now! Charge!” he yelled, the war cry of his sortie followed him, slashing and bashing their way to push out the attackers. Ser Theodric was by his side ”A formidable warrior, he will be my shield from the foe” Alexander reassured himself. The handlers of the ram were slain, but that was not it. The gates were wide open, Blæcwulf’s infantry was coming to swarm them.

A regiment came in, charging at Alexander’s sortie, it had turned into a full on brawl. Every man was his battle now. Alexander felt glad that he was trained by Godric’s best knights in such a short period of time to be able to defend himself. A swordsman with a shield came at him, only to meet his blade and fall to the dirt, another with a warhammer challenged him and lost his head. Arrows with flaming tips flew above his head as he danced with his sword, with each twirl of his sword a man would fall, his red cloak elegantly shifting left and right, playing along his deadly dance. He could hear the men from the walls saying his name.
“Stokeworth! Stokeworth! Stokeworth!” they cheered. Alexander was drunk with blood… The battle fever, this was what it felt like.. Time blurred, the past and future and even the present stopped, there was no thinking, no fear, there was only the next man, and then the next and the next and the next, he didn’t feel that an arrow had just pierced his breastplate, he didn’t feel the sweat trailing down his forehead and flooding his face, he didn’t feel the pain in his back from the armour, he didn’t feel thirst or hunger, all he felt was what was right in front of him, and right in front of him stood a fool, a knight with a greatsword. “Come and slay me if you can, fool”, the knight responded to his thoughts and hacked at his sword, but Alexander parried and met his steel with his own. He kicked at his knee, knocking him off balance and before he could get up, the sword was thrust into his throat. “Another fool”, he thought, a man with a mace came charging at him, yet before he could even swing at him Alexander had already buried his sword deep in his chest. For all his life Alexander feared death, he avoided it as much as he could, yet here he was, smiling and laughing with his teeth out at its’ face like a tavern drunkard. Something hit him, something blunt, he didn’t see what it was, he was bleeding from the nose. “Was it a shield? It must’ve been” He could not tell. Alexander was knocked off balance, his sword no longer in hand. He saw a man above him wielding an axe, Alexander reached for a shield that was right beside him and pulled it up to meet the tip of his axe which pierced straight through the wooden shield and almost found his face, he wrestled the axe out of the shield, yet before he could bring it down once more, a sword was guided through his back, the tip of it came right through him. It slid out of him and the axeman fell, pushed aside, and in his place stood a squire, offering his hand. “Ser Wellesley’s squire, an Iberian too, what the hell was an Iberian doing here, so far from home?”, Alexander thought. The squire pulled him up to his feet, and hurried away, vanishing from Alexander’s attention.


He staggered back up on his feet, his pretty red cloak was now shattered and cut up into pieces, dirtied and bloodied, just as he was from boot to helmet. His nose was broken, he found it hard to breathe, all the blood was filling him up, he had to breathe through his mouth now. “What good is a helmet, if I cannot even see what is in front of me?” He took off his helmet, his messy and sweated black hair was finally free of it. Alexander looked around, the walls seemed to hold strong, men climbing on burning ladders were pushed off, stones were being hurled off the towers and the archers were lighting up the darkness with their flaming arrows, but he was losing the battle on the ground. His men were being slaughtered, he needed to do something. A battle must be fought together.
“Form up! Form up on me!” Alexander barked, few could hear his orders but a knight and his squire came, some men with swords, and soon, a few hundred had formed up a shieldwall on him. Aethelwulf shields stood together.
“Fall back! Back to the gates! We’ll hold the gates!” His attack had lost the element of surprise, there was no other way, he had to hold the gates while hoping that the archers would do the rest of the work. Had he stayed out there any longer, his men would’ve been completely swarmed. This was the best he could do. He did not know how much time passed, the fighting continued on for what seemed like days to him, yet it was only a couple of hours since the initial assault. The attackers were pinned at the gates, they could not make much progress. Few were lucky enough to survive the climb up the ladders, yet even when they scaled the walls they were slain. The attackers were at the mercy of the bowmen on the walls, this was exactly what Alexander had envisioned, and it was what he truly wanted. The shieldwall was near impenetrable, it was seven men wide, with hundreds more waiting behind them, forming multiple long lines that were as thick as the gates. One thing he did not think of… The fatigue was catching on to the defenders, the attackers were wise to keep fresh reserves, eager for battle and who were now annihilating the tired defenders. Was this truly the end? There was nothing more he could do but watch from his position. What a fool Alexander was, thinking he could win against an army eight times larger than his. The shieldwall was being cut down like a cow at a butcher’s, he was in the middle of it, only three rows away from death now. He turned to God. “O Lord, creator of Man, Heaven and Earth, have mercy on my soul, please grant me my only wish, that is to be buried home, as a Stokeworth. Lord, please grant me my only wish before I come to you for your judgement” He remembered of his family back at home. “Farewell then”, he thought. “At least father would be proud, I doubt he’d mourn the weakest son of his lot, the third one in line too. And as for mother…” He remembered for how many days she wept when her father passed away “Only God knows how long she would wail. Sweet sister, you were always so kind, do not forget me, but do not weep for me. And oh my brothers, my dear beloved brothers, do not seek vengeance for me, there is no glory in it. Another Stokeworth was to come and replace me, worry not…” Alexander shed a tear, his first tear in years. It sneaked out of his right eye and itched its’ way down his bloodied cheek until it found his lips. He swallowed hard. “My last tear, so sweet and yet so salty at the same time”, he thought. Death was certain, all men had to face it one day, whether it be from old age, disease or battle, today was his day to face it. The front row had already been cut down, the enemy was right in front of him, only one more row and he would face the ferocious fresh troops of the enemy.




A loud warhorn cleared the wind, it trumped over the sound of screaming men and clashing steel, any man hundreds of yards away from the castle itself could’ve heard it. The men were suddenly cheering, yet Alexander did not know why, who did that horn sound for?
Hundreds of hooves were making their presence known, the force equal to an earthquake itself. “Lord Godric is here!” someone shouted. The men who were attacking the gates were swiftly pushed out by the defenders’ second wind as they rushed out the gates to see it for themselves. Alexander saw it too. Men in full armour on horses were bursting through the forests, and at the center of a wedge was Lord Godric himself, bearing a golden crown and a blue cloak. By his left side a rider with the banner of house Aethelwulf mounted on his lance, a golden wolf on blue field. To his right side a banner of house Stokeworth, two combatant griffins, counterchanged on a red and white field. The cries of the riders and the great stampede of horses would make even the bravest man drop his weapon and flee. The force of the cavalry was unstoppable, with lance, sword and axe it slammed through lines of infantry and rode down anything in its’ path, sending men flying. Some tried to hastily turn and brace for the shock, but they were too late. Many tried to flee, but Godric’s wrath was upon them now, and nothing could save them, “God is with us”, Alexander thought as he stood in place, looking at the wedge as it ran through all that stood in its’ path, Godric’s spearhead was unstoppable, regiments of infantry were cut through like a knife through a piece of cheese. His knights rode knee to knee with him as they slashed through any brave fool who had not fled yet. A man deployed his lance, driving the golden wolf in the chest of an archer, the sheer force of it sending him off the ground. One man’s terror was another man’s admiration, Alexander had never seen anything as beautiful as this with his own eyes, it was as if the Red Wolf’s sword was blessed by God and handed down upon him to bring justice upon those who have wronged him. Any man who was unfortunate enough to stand in his path met the full force of his fury, contained within his steel blade. “It is done, they were all fleeing now, the battle is over, victory is ours”. A spearman stabbed at Godric’s horse, he spilled out of the horse and hit the cold dirt. For a moment Alexander thought he had fallen, yet he was back up on his feet, the spearman tried to stab him this time, but Godric was much faster, with a single swing the spearman was no longer on his own two feet. Another one thought he could end the war by killing Godric, yet before he could even swing his axe Godric’s sword already separated his head from his body. He found his horse, shrieking out of its’ wounds, he spared it from its’ pain and brought his longsword down on its’ head. One of his riders approached him and dismounted, so that Godric would once more be on horseback. “It was a great honor to offer your horse to the commander when his was killed”, he remembered what his brother had told him from his war stories. And off he rode, God’s servant of justice with steel in hand. He raised his weapon high, yelling orders to rally the men around him and form a wedge, with him once more at the head of it. They rode off towards the enemy camps, most likely to finish off the routing units and find Lord Blæcwulf. Alexander could faintly hear the men on the walls, “Godric!” “Godric!” “Godric!” they cheered, he was their saviour, the proud red wolf of Warstade. They all charged through the gates, eager more than ever to fight now that their lord was here. The once trembling and scared defenders had forgotten of their fatigue, they no longer felt it, all they felt was vengeance against the attackers, and they would enact it upon them. God he wished he could join them, yet his legs did not share his will, and neither did his arms. He was the only one left in the castle, the rest were all out to fight the routing Blæcwulf forces. Alexander could not believe his fortune, if the hornman blew that horn a second later, he would’ve been amongst the pile of bodies, but today, death would not take him, Alexander shall live to see many more days before it meets him. He could rest now, he was entirely covered in mud and blood, both his own and that of the men he slayed. Alexander dropped his sword and slid his back down the wall behind him to lay on the floor amongst all the other dead bodies with his legs stretched out, only to fall asleep, victim to his fatigue..
 

Maxim

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#2
A really good read, it also gives the characters an actual existing background and purpose - which I believe just improves the roleplay and atmosphere overall.
 

dominance

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#5
I might actually use this battle in my character story, thanks a lot.
Feel free to use it as a background for your character story, just try to stick to the core elements of the story to keep consistency and don't go out of bounds to make your own interpretations please.
 

TheGod

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Royal Guard
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#6
Feel free to use it as a background for your character story, just try to stick to the core elements of the story to keep consistency and don't go out of bounds to make your own interpretations please.
I would never do that to a such a good story.
 
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