Twenty two hundred pairs of eyes followed the glint of the celtic blade in Philopater Ptolemy's hand as he gestured toward the final treeline ahead of them. "On the other side of this wood, the army of Ivomagus awaits it's demise. We have driven them back! We have driven them back all winter, and now their backs are to the coast! They outnumber us, and outmatch us hugely yet they know their deaths are imminent, for they have spilled royal blood and incurred the wrath of Set and Anubis! Men, we are that wrath!" His men cheered, beating their chests and rattling their armor. "Now! Let us drive these ƒirish into the sea!"
Philopater's army emerged from the treeline, in the shadow of the watchtower that had been constructed reminiscent of Egyptian architecture, and into the frosty plains leading to the coast. They marched, slowly and with determination, against the cold to which they had become so accustomed. It had been proclaimed that the soldier who killed the enemy general Ivomagus, would receive as a prize the armor of Auletes Ptolemy, top quality armor that had been crafted in Egypt before the fall of Alexandria and one of the few reminders of their past life on the other side of the world.
Three thousand hungry and desperate barbarians swept up from the beach, the vast army wheeling around to meet the advancing Ptolemaics.
The Ptolemaic army halted, the Pezoi spearmen forming thin vanguard formation in front of the archers. The machimoi drew their bows and raised them expectantly. "Regression volley, double count!" Shouted Philopater, "then fire at will!" A wave of activity swept the archer formation, as them men at the front loosed their arrows, followed by them men behind them, and the men behind them. By the time the archers at the back of the formation had fired, the ones at the front had reloaded and drawn, so that the two volleys of arrows blended into a constant, demoralizing rain.
The front line of the rebel army crumbled, as the barbarians backed away from the shower of blades. Those who didn't, fell, punctured and pierced, yet the rebels didn't break. The shouts and curses of Ivomagus drifted across the rebel army, and they reformed the line.
Eventually, the rain of arrows stopped. The Machimoi had exhausted their arrows, like they had in battles before, but Ivomagus' army had endured and held their positions and as a result, had suffered minimal losses. The machimoi drew their short swords, expectantly, but Philopater waved them away. He rode to his captain of archers, Obamos. "Your men have done their best, but it would be suicide to send such lightly armored foot soldiers against the enemy. Get your men out of here and meet us at Tara."
Obamos nodded. "And what of you, my lord?"
"I will remain behind with the pezoi and cover your retreat."
The Hibernian ƒirishmen taunted and jeered at the Ptolemaics, as two thirds of Philopater's army retreated back into the woods. "That was their secret weapon, lads!" Ivomagus roared, "A rain of twigs from the sky! Their archers are harmless, this I know, because we are still here!" His men cheered, many of them picking up the Ptolemaic arrows embedded in the ground and snapping them in half. "Chariots, let us show the invaders some of their own poison!"
Hoplon shields and armor pinged and sang, and the cries of men floated up the lines of the phalanx as Hibernian arrows, launched from improvised bows on the chariots, arced into the Ptolemaic army, which now numbered a little more than a thousand men. The Hibernians, too, had adapted to their foes' tactics.
Slowly the vanguard creaked to life, and the frozen ground began to rumble as the V-shaped phalanx inched forward. Ivomagus laughed at the slow-moving formation, bristling with spears, as it advanced. "Look at this, men! Is this their unbeatable formation? If it moved more slowly, it would be retreating!" The men thumped their chests and hurled stones and ice into the Ptolemaic formation. "It will be sundown before they meet us, so let us meet them!" Ivomagus' captains raised their pan flutes and blew the signal. "Let's get the bastards!"
A wave of humanity slammed into the phalanx, clambering through or over the spears, and throwing themselves into the Ptolemaic formation, howling and screaming and driven forward by the infectious wrath of Ivomagus. Shields shook and spears splintered under the tremendous momentum as the Pezoi braced their heels against the ground, fighting for their lives.
Ivomagus watched the teeming slaughter all round him as his chariot raced up and down the Ptolemaic flank. A constant spray of blood shot up it's sides and down onto his shoulders as the scythed wheels of the chariot severed limbs and torsos, while the archer aboard picked off survivors. Then the ground began to shake and the terrified screams of men erupted to Ivomagus' left.
"Whoa." Ivomagus muttered under his breath. The bronze-skinned giants had emerged from the woods in full charge, bellowing and trumpeting in rage, and shredded the left flank of Ivomagus' army. Bristling in cuts and steeped in gore, the beasts were clearly locked in an uncontrollable rage and began to swing around for a second charge. Ivomagus snapped out of his stupor. These animals were old, and weakened with winter, though they were still formidable foes. Left unchecked, they would stomp half of his army into the frozen ground, and probably a few of the Ptolemaics as well. "Do not fear the demon beasts! See how they bleed like we do?" His chariots disengaged the phalanx, and began to ride a circle around the rampaging elephants, launching arrows into the beasts. "Their skin is thick! Aim for the eyes! Aim for the mouth! Bring them down!" Ivomagus roared. "Bring them down!"
A thousand years later, farmers in northern Ireland would unearth the largest and most fierceome skeletons they had ever seen, without equal in history or myth.
All around him, Ivomagus beheld a field of carnage and death. In some places, the corpses packed so tightly that the bodies of the dead kneeled or even stood. Against all odds, he had failed to fully break the Ptolemaic army, which now clambered over the battlefield in slow pursuit of the fleeing rebels. Then he heard a trumpet to his right.
"Ivomagus! Ivomagus you cur, face me!" It was Philopater and his cavalry, charging the chariot line with their long xyston spears lowered. The chariots turned to face them, and Ivomagus raised his sword, a greek blade that that had once belonged to Auletes Ptolemy.
"Come, lads," he spat defiantly, "let us ride to our deaths!" When chariots rumbled forward towards the charging egyptian cavalry.
Philopater's xyston pierced effortlessly through the gold helmet of Ivomagus. It's steel tip smashed through the rebel general's remaining ear and into his skull before bursting out of the back of his head, ripping it off completely and showering the frosted grass with his blood, brains and bone. Ivomagus' body, as those of so many mortals before him, hit the ground with a deathly and wet thud, spewing gore into the land he had fought so hard to defend.
In life, Ivomagus had achieved almost messianic status with the ƒirish resistance, but in death he was but dust. Anubis and Osiris had clearly sided with the Ptolemaics that day, for every man the rebels killed, the Ptolemaics had killed fifty.