Ardaric : King Of The Gepids
The Master Plan
" The forests are thinning, and the mountains and hills are turning into flat open plains. It is here, in these wide expanses, that the Hun horse archers will have a great advantage over our slower, less mobile foot soldiers. Our surprise tactics will no longer deceive our enemy on such terrain, and therefore I feel that it is now the time to make a stand and fight. " he explained to his fellow Germanic kings.
Hunulphus looked nervously around at the other leaders before speaking.
" Yes ! I realize that we have whittled down their army somewhat, but can we defeat them on their terms ? " he asked.
Deorold nodded that he agreed with his comrade's concerns, and then added :
" Is there nowhere we can ambush them one last time ? " he inquired hopefully.
Ardaric looked around the table, and saw the grave looks of concern on the faces of the men he had fought with for many years. He understood fully their apprehensiveness towards attacking the Hun army head on, but he was also well aware that the fate of his combined army, and possibly the future of the entire Germanic peoples lay in his hands. He had been made the leader of the Germanic tribes, by those around him, and despite the great weight of that responsibility pressing down upon his shoulders, he felt that it was now or never if they were ever to finally defeat the Huns. And with that in mind he laid out his plans to the other kings.
" I believe that there is a place where we can fight the Huns in the open, and yet still restrict their free movement. " he informed the council.
Remismund looked up into Ardaric's eyes. In them he did not see the fear that he himself felt, nor did he observe any lack of resolve in their leader's demeanor. What struck the king of the Suavi most was the gritty determination of the Gepid leader to destroy the Huns and provide homelands for the many Germanic folk who were fighting so hard for their freedom.
" Tell us Ardaric ! If your plan is sound we will follow you to death or glory ! " he stated as though he was already resigned to his fate.
The king of the Gepids nodded and pointed to the entrance of the tent.
" Then let us go outside and I will show you . " he replied.
The sun had not yet broken through the misty morning fog as the frowning bewildered Germanic kings watched Ardaric searching the ground around the tent for something, though they knew not what. When he finally bent over and picked up a thin three foot stick they all knew what it was for. When Ardaric returned they gathered in a circle around their leader. Using the stick he scratched a crooked line in the dirt, with another smaller line radiating out from the first.
" This is the river Sava. " he began.
" And the smaller line is a tributary that flows south from it. The local people call it the river Nedao. We will be positioned on the west side of the Nedao, while the Huns will be arriving on the east side of the river. " he explained before scratching other features around the lines.
" Now this, to the southwest of the river, is a great wet marsh, which would be difficult for the Hun horsemen,...., or the Alan foot soldiers for that matter, to make it through with any great speed. If they try we can simply pin them down with our archers, while we destroy the main army first. To the north, this spot here, there is a forest. It is not dense enough to impede the Huns greatly, but if we put up fake fortifications, and traps, I believe that they would either not want to enter these woods at all, after what we have done to them in the past, or they would do so with such caution as to not make them much of a threat. This woodland extends on the other side of the river Nedao all the way up to the river Sava as well, which should funnel the Huns, along with their Alan allies, into this narrow corridor between the forest to our north, and the swamp to our south. " he told his allies, before pausing to gauge their feelings.
Flaccitheus studied the crude map for a moment, and then pointed to a large area that Ardaric had drawn away from the Nedao, on their side of the river, in between the swamp and the forest.
" And what may I ask is this ? " he inquired suspiciously.
" That my friend is a steep hill where the main army will make its stand. " he explained with great joy.
Rodulph nodded and smiled.
" It does have all the elements that give us a great advantage over our enemy. But what if King Ellac will not engage us here, and continues to move north? " he asked nervously.
Ardaric could not help but smirk at the thought of the Huns moving further north, when for the first time the Germanic army was making a stand in the open.
" We are not very far from the river Sava, and the river Danube is just beyond. No ! I believe that he will want to destroy us here before we reach our southernmost homelands. " he replied.
Hunulphus pointed to the position of the forest.
" And what if they are able to cross the river and come through the forest ? " he asked.
Ardaric pointed his stick at the Nedao.
" The river in this area is fairly deep and not easily forded. And we will construct a few surprises in the forest just in case they try. Only in the swamp area is the river Nedao low enough to easily cross. But here they will be under the watch of our archers who will pick them off during the crossing, and once again when they become mired in the swampy marsh. " he assured Hunulphus.
Rodulph pointed to the section on the east side of the river where the Huns would have to cross, and then looked up at Ardaric with a glare.
" How can you be so damned certain that they will cross right here, at this point, directly across from our fortifications on the hill ? " he asked with a hint of impatience.
Ardaric grinned from ear to ear.
" Because, my wary friend, we will place a hundred severed Hun heads on stakes across this area. And in front of those heads we will place Edecon, his commander's head. " he assured Rodulph.
Rodulph's attitude changed instantly.
" Yes ! That tactic has infuriated the Hun king every time we used it ! " he agreed.
Ardaric then pointed at each of the kings.
" Tell your people that this hill is an ancient burial mound of a great Germanic king. This will inspire your warriors to fight to the death for our ancestors ! " he told them with a grin upon his face.
Ardaric looked around at his Germanic allies.
" Are we agreed that this is our best chance to defeat the Huns under King Ellac ? " he asked hopefully.
All five kings gave a hearty, " Yes ! " simultaneously.
" Then let us get to work on our fortifications at once ! " he stated emphatically.
- End Chapter 10
- Next : Chapter 11 : " They Must Not Slip Away ! "
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.