Part 66: A Scotsman In Egypt - Chapter 65Domnall Canmore,
Your very name is an insult to the honor of your once proud family, it makes me sick to my stomach to use that surname in connection with as pathetic a wretch as you.
Your Father's blood was watered down, surely the result of some dalliance between your Grandfather and a cheap, disease-ridden whore. Perhaps it was her who drained all the courage and strength of Malcolm? Your Father would know, he probably bedded his own mother often enough, and you are probably the result of their foul, hairy backed rutting. But your Uncle? There was a true man, brave and sure of himself when all others questioned his wisdom, your cowardly dog of a Father included.
That you are the one to continue his legacy must burn him in the hell were you can be assured he spends eternity. Though he was a brave man, making you heir to his Empire was the gravest sin any man could commit. Look at you, you useless sodomite, bandying about with your faithful, stupid hound Angus and Hew Mar, a lily-livered fop who has sought to find solace in your cock, and falls into a depression everytime you fail to live up to the standard set by the way his father used to fuck his sorry arse. Every accomplishment you have had has come on the back of another man's work, you have achieved nothing on your own, you stand on the shoulders of giants and call yourself Kronos.
Gawain Arthyn dealt the first blow to the Mongol Horde, your Uncle Edward dealt the blow that broke their back and you... you simply cleaned up the dregs and called yourself Vanquisher of the Horde. Baby Aodh was the one to attack the Turks, and you set Angus to guard your real borders, while you blubbered on your throne over the loss of your twin, or more accurately the cock he used to fuck you with as a child. That a weak, book minded academic like Baby Aodh killed the Sicilians while you wept for the arse you'd lost says much, and there is a reason that Dougall Macdonchie became known as The Unstoppable despite the fact it was YOU who lead the war against the Spanish.
And then you cemented your reputation as "Merciless" by striking at a spent force in the Dutch, allowing your dog Angus to tear out the throat of the crippled, dying body of the Russians before you both heaped yourself onto the pathetic "Empire" of the Venetians and then my neighbors, the Byzantines.
I name you coward, Domnall the "Merciless", I name you opportunist and weakling and self-aggrandizing sodomite. Now Baby Aodh has whored out his own daughter to fool some dolt sitting low in the ranks of MY armies so that you could take control of Rome and destroy the power of the Church like the snide cowards you are? Rather than face an enemy who could truly match you, you have struck from the shadows, played games as if men were chess pieces, and then proclaimed yourself men of peace?
To think I idolized the name Canmore when I studied war in my youth... and to see it come to this? And now Hungary is at war with Scotland? I would not waste away lives on you, Domnall Canmore, though I am sure you would happily throw away the lives of my men, and yours, to avoid your people discovering the truth, that you are a puffed up little boy dressed up in the clothes of your elders and betters, pretending to be a man.
Come to Gallipoli, Domnall Canmore, prove that you deserve that name. Face ME in combat, both of us acting as champions for our Empires, as was done in days long past. Let us spare our men the indignities of war and settle the affairs of the nobility in a noble way, amongst ourselves. Come and face me at Gallipoli Domnall Canmore, man to man, and prove to the world and to me that you deserve the name Canmore.
Istok - King
Domnall Canmore read the letter again, and looked up at Hew Mar, who had sat patiently in the King's private quarters in Vilnius as Domnall took in the contents of the missive from his Hungarian counterpart. Angus meanwhile had been stalking back and forth angrily muttering to himself, only barely holding his tongue in check over the dire insults that the letter contained.
"Tell me about this Istok," grunted Domnall at last.
"He's a bastard!" snapped Angus.
"He's a fighter," noted Hew smoothly,"Not a bad battlefield commander, but nothing special. He lets his Generals handle troops, strategy and the like, his special talent is in fighting, in terrifying his men into obedience and awestruck love and striking dread into the heart of the enemy."
"I'll give him a fight!" snarled Angus,"A hound dog am I? I'll tear his bloody throat out!"
"He has nae lost a fight, ever," continued Hew,"In personal combat he cannae be matched, whether on horseback, with a sword or his bare hands... he is hoping to goad ye into a fight and kill ye to destroy the morale of our troops, he must surely ken that as powerful as his own Empire is, it cannae match Scotland's.... unless he makes our armies scared of him."
"The smart thing to do would be to ignore this letter," mused Domnall.
"Except the bastard has sent it to every Scottish city!" howled Angus,"All ready word will be spreading to every town, village and farm that the Hungarian King has insulted the Scottish King and challenged him to a personal fight for the honor of our Empire! If ye dinnae fight him, people will believe ye are scared of him.... men who believe their King to be a coward cannae respect him!"
"Do ye think the men of Scotland are so foolish to believe such a thing when their King has fought alongside them on the frontlines for decades?" countered Hew,"My Father used to sa-"
"Prepare the armies," interrupted Domnall suddenly,"We march within the week to Gallipoli."
"Ye will fight him, then?" asked Angus hopefully, eyes wide as he followed Domnall who stood and moved to the door to his quarters,"Ye'll prove him wrong?"
Domnall stood quietly for a moment, and then repeated himself,"Prepare the armies."
He turned and exited his quarters, leaving behind Angus and Hew to stare at each other uneasily.
King Istok stared with a delighted grin on his face, an unusual reaction to a sight that would strike fear into the hearts of most men.
The Scottish King had arrived with his army.
A herald stepped forward past the crossbowmen on the frontline of the Hungarian ranks, directed by his King to ask the question of the Scottish King.
"DOMNALL CANMORE!" he cried, his voice carrying across the field to the Scottish,"KING ISTOK OF HUNGARY ASKS NOW WHAT HE ASKED IN HIS LETTER TO YOU.... ARE YOU A MAN? WILL YOU STEP FORWARD AND MET HIS CHALLENGE OF PERSONAL COMBAT TO RESOLVE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN OUR NATIONS? OR ARE YOU A COWARD WHO WILL HIDE BEHIND HIS MEN?"
Domnall felt the eyes of his men, his commanders and his two Generals turn onto him, and the eyes of all the Hungarians as well. Of most weight though was the gaze of King Istok, whom he could see only as a distant figure on horseback beneath the Hungarian banner.... yet knew was staring directly at him.
"HOW SAY YOU, DOMNALL CANMORE!?!" called the Herald,"ARE YOU A MAN OR NOT!?!"
"Aim ye Bombards at the trebuchets," he ordered, his voice authoritative,"Archers, use fire on ye arrows and fire on their frontlines!"
An almost audible sigh of disappointment rose from the Scottish ranks, but then the roaring voice of Angus the Mauler and Hew Mar kicked their Commanders into action, who in turn shouted orders to their soldiers. Discipline and training overrode the disappointment of the Scots, who moved quickly and efficiently to complete their orders. Across the field, the Herald noted the activity and smiled, turning and moving back through the ranks of Hungarian soldiers as they jeered and laughed at the Scottish and hurled insults towards Domnall.
And then battle was joined.
"Byrta, why aren't our men firing?" Istok demanded of the General who was directing the battle for him.
"They are out of range of the Scottish archers, my King," responded Byrta Sido as he watched flaming arrows rain down on the frontline of the Hungarians while the trebuchet to their side crumpled after taking a direct Bombard blast,"If we can withstand this first assault, the Scottish Infantry will charge, that is how the Scottish fight their battles... an initial ranged barrage followed by hard in close fighting by the Infantry, and then a charge by the cavalry."
"The hell with that!" snarled Istok with a fierce grin,"MEN! FORWARD TO FIRING RANGE! BE PREPARED FOR THE SCOTS TO COME AT YOU!"
The Hungarians roared in delight, excited to be taking pro-active steps over the waves of flaming arrows coming towards them while Bombard blasts soared over their heads. They rushed forward, and the Scottish Infantry braced to rush to meet them.
"HOLD YE PLACE!" demanded Domnall angrily, and Angus - moments from ordering a charge - turned to look at him in surprise.
"My King?" he asked.
"HOLD, DAMN YE!" snarled Domnall,"Continue firing on their frontlines, bring down those other trebuchets!"
"I.... aye, majesty," muttered Angus darkly, and gave the order.
Istok watched the small figure far distant underneath the Scottish banner and gripped his sword hilt tighter. He wanted so desperately to fight the man, even if he was barely a Canmore, he was still a Canmore, a family that Istok had read about and idolized since his youth. He'd wished so desperately as a young Prince that diplomatic relations would lead to an alliance between their Nations and he'd be able to ride under the command of Edward Canmore, but it wasn't to be. Now this Domnall claimed a position that Istok genuinely believed to be his, he was the TRUE heir to Edward Canmore, and he would prove it in battle the way Edward had proved himself against the mighty Mongol Warlord Subutai.
But as his trebuchets were shattered by dangerously accurate Bombard blasts and flaming arrows continued to pour down on the frontline of his men (while few of the Scottish archers were falling to his crossbows) his frustration grew... was Domnall Canmore truly such a coward that he would not commit his infantry to the battle and risk coming face to face with him?
"FORWARD AGAIN!" he roared, surprising Byrta.
"My King, is that wi-"
"FORWARD!" roared Istok, directly into Byrta's face, and the horrified man swallowed nervously and turned to obey.
"They're goading us!" snapped Angus angrily,"WE HAVE TO CHARGE!"
"Continuing firing on their frontlines," replied Domnall, stony-faced.
"....aye," hissed Angus through clenched teeth, turning to give the order.
"It's a trick, Angus," Hew warned,"The King of England tried the same thing on me once, I was nae fool enough to fall for it. My Father once tol-"
"FUCK YOUR FATHER!" roared Angus,"AND FUCK YOU! THEY'RE CALLING US WOMEN AND GELDINGS! AND OUR OWN KING IS TO-"
Hew pulled his sword and pressed the tip against Angus' neck, so quickly that Angus didn't see him move.
"Be careful, Angus," Hew warned coldly,"Insult me, insult my Father... but never insult our King."
Istok snarled angrily and spat on the ground, still in disbelief that Domnall had proved such a coward. A flaming Bombard blast crashed down only a few feet over his head and into the men behind them, shaking the ground and causing Istok's horse to stumble sideways as his men screamed in agony.
"STAND!" snapped Istok at his horse, and the animal reacted to his master's voice instantly, calming beneath him and ignoring the stink of burning human flesh.
"Send the infantry forward to meet their lines," grunted Domnall suddenly, pretending not to have seen the recent stand-off between his two Generals,"No charge, march them slowly, I want the line straight when they meet. Send our cavalry to the southern hill, when the Infantry engage, charge them onto the flank."
"Against Istok?" asked Angus eagerly, forgetting that only a few minutes earlier his best friend's sword had been at his throat.
"Against the Crossbowmen," responded Domnall, his face still stony and his eyes unreadable,"Forget Istok and his men, the target is the Infantry and Crossbow."
"Dammit," hissed Angus under his teeth, then saluted and turned to give his orders.
Istok sat on his horse as his own men rushed to try and hold off the cavalry charge on their left flank, staring with hatred and contempt across the field at the tiny figure of Domnall Canmore. It was chaos all around him, the Infantry had joined in combat with their Scottish counterparts, replacing the crossbowmen on the frontlines. More crossbows were firing wildly at the Scottish Cavalry on the flank, hitting Istok's own men in the chaos, while Byrta screamed orders, trying to regain chaos. A Scottish horse broke free of the throng and charged at Istok, and screaming Hungarians threw themselves into his way, knocking down his horse and tearing the man to pieces as Istok finally relented and began to slowly back up his horse, eyes never leaving the far distant figure of Domnall Canmore.
"It is over," sniffed Istok contemptuously, riding up alongside Byrta,"Order all who can to retreat to the ships, we'll reinforce the garrison at Constantinople."
"My King, the situation is grim but we can still salvag-" started Byrta.
"I am not interested in defeating the Scottish army, I am interested in Domnall Canmore.... pathetic coward though he may be," snapped Istok angrily,"Now order the retreat!"
Biting back his pride, Byrta did as his King bid, and joined his men and what few Infantry and Crossbow were able to pull free off the Scottish. They rushed down into the rocky cove designed by nature to discourage enemy ships from landing troops (only madmen would ever attempt to land troops there knowing an army was waiting for them), to where ships waited to transport them north to Constantinople.
Those who were unable to retreat, soon left the field of battle by other, more permanent means.
"Victory, such as it is," spat Angus as the last surviving Hungarians were cut down, despite their attempts to surrender when their fate had become apparent,"I never thought winning a fight would leave such a bad taste in my mouth."
"The battle is nae done yet," Domnall grunted, his eyes on the all ready departing Hungarian ships,"We ride for Constantinople."
"Will ye face Istok there, my King?" asked Angus eagerly, too eagerly. Domnall turned in the saddle to glare at his wide eyed "Hound", and then around him at his soldiers as they too stared hopefully at their King. In Hew Mar eyes alone did he not see the unasked question - was he a coward?
"Prepare the men," Domnall spoke at last, coldly, then repeated himself,"We ride for Constantinople."
He turned his horse and rode away from his despairing men, back towards his Command Tent, leaving them to turn and stare at each other, the unasked question hanging in the air.
They feared that now they knew the answer.