Ardaric : King Of the Gepids
" Where Are Their Heads ?! "
" Leave him for the Goths ! " was all Ellac said as he rode further to the back of the column.
That unfortunate warrior was never seen alive again.
Sangiban was not immune to the Hun king's wrath either. When Ellac reached the Alan position in the rear he admonished the startled king for allowing his warriors to dawdle.
" Are these men, Sangiban, who march in your army, or are they women out to pick flowers ?! " he shouted before reining his horse around and galloping back to lead his army.
When they reached the edge of the meadow, where the battle had occurred, Zolban stopped his horse and allowed the king, and his second in command Edecon, to ride by and take the lead. Majus stopped at first as well, but quickly moved forward to protect the king.
The three horsemen slowly rode along the far perimeter of the battlefield, where it appeared most of the Hun warriors had fallen. For the first time since they left the river Drina, the king of the Huns had nothing to say. In silence he rode from body to body, stopping only long enough to examine each for a moment. When they reached the ninth of the slain the king's expression suddenly changed. His face reflected a sudden horrific realization that had somehow escaped his notice earlier.
" Their heads ! Where are their HEADS ?! " the king inquired. The volume of his tone rose with each word.
All three men looked around the battlefield to see if any of the bodies still remained intact, but all seemed to have been decapitated. Just as Sangiban rode up from the rear, Edecon pointed to the north side of the meadow.
" My king, I believe I see one of them at the other end of the field. " he stated with no emotion.
All four men rode over to the head, that had been placed on the sharp end of a stick, which had in turn been planted firmly into the ground. As they walked their horses over to the severed appendage the breeze caught hold of the top heavy stick and made it rock back and forth as if the head were nodding to them.
King Ellac was the first to identify the butchered head.
" Basich ! " he shouted out in disbelief.
Edecon nodded, agreeing that the head, with the bulging dead eyes, was his old friend. For a moment he remembered back to the days when he was first chosen, along with Basich, as the fiercest warriors in Attila's army. Their reward was to be given the honorable duty of guarding the king of the Huns. His mind quickly flashed ahead to the morning when they found Ildico sitting on the edge of her wedding bed weeping next to their dead king.
Edecon was still remembering his old friend when King Ellac howled like a wild animal, which broke him away from his memories, and brought him back into the stark reality of the moment.
" Take it down ! Majus ! TAKE IT DOWN NOW !! " he screamed at the top of his lungs.
When the king calmed down slightly he added :
" Find the body and bury them together ! " he ordered.
Majus jumped down off of his horse, ran over to the stake, and with great care reached up and began to lift the head off of the stick. All four battle hardened warriors involuntarily winced at the sucking sound the head made as it worked its way up to the top of the pointed stick.
Disgusted by what he had just witnessed King Ellac began to frantically look around the battlefield like a warrior desperately searching for a fallen friend.
" Where are the rest of their heads ? " he asked impatiently when he did not see them.
It was Sangiban who caught sight of the next head. With a shaky finger he pointed off into the distance.
" I believe their is another approximately one hundred yards north, just at the edge of that tall stand of trees. " he replied.
The king of the Huns kicked his horse into a wild gallop, and headed for where the king of the Alans had pointed. Edecon, seeing that Majus, the warrior charged with protecting the king, was in a bit of a quandary, being that he stood there still holding Basich's head in his hands, nodded to the king's guard, and headed off to see to the safety of Ellac.
Sangiban, however, did not rush to the side of his Hun ally. Despite desperately trying to hold back a grin, the expression curled up on both sides of his mouth anyway.
" The Germanic people have learned much from their Hun hosts ! " he stated sarcastically under his breath.
A moment later Sangiban slowly trotted his horse over to King Ellac and Edecon. As he reined in his horse a frown came over his face.
" I wonder why Ardaric did not simply stack the heads at the edge of the field the way Attila did when he destroyed a village, and killed all of the inhabitants ? " Sangiban asked.
King Ellac ignored the question, slid off of his horse, pulled out his sword, and cut the stake in half, As the head detached from the point, and rolled across the grass, the Alan king could not help but notice that Ellac's face became red with fury as he watched it slowly come to a stop by an above ground root of an old oak tree.
" I will kill them all ! But first I will torture the prisoners we take very, very slowly. I will have my revenge for this atrocity ! " he screamed.
Sangiban cringed in his saddle at the ferocity of the Hun's words. And when he glanced off into the distance he knew that Ellac's fury would not abate any time soon. For in the woods, to the north, he saw another head bobbing in the breeze !
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : The Tactic Of Hit And Run
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.