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Battle of Agincourt Short Story

October 25, 1415

Saint-Pol, Artois

Disappointing.

That was the word to describe the whole cumbersome experience. Only a few weeks earlier Thomas Arthur was delighted, practically ecstatic about going off to his first siege, but that lasted only a few hours.

They had traveled for days, 11,000 in number, to cross the English channel and sieged Harfleur, a city which lay in Normandy. Thomas grimaced as he remembered the experience; days outside the walls of the vast city, as countless volleys of arrows sprouted from Thomas’ massive oak longbow, bringing death to some thirty men. He had slept in a crude excuse for a bed in a thin tent surrounded by the other archers in his unit (who smelled all but foul), eating nothing but dry loaves of bread and a few cups of milk or water a day, only tasting meat a few times.

He was just glad it was over, that the city had surrendered and that he would get rest when he arrived in England and he would be fed good food. But of course after King Henry gathered more troops he would launch another attack on another place in France, and the dreadful cycle which he had just discovered would start over.

He couldn’t bare to think about spending his coming years like this, marching in seemingly ending sieges and sleeping in ghastly chambers,

Thomas tore himself from his pondering, as he swept his gaze over the area. The plains were flat, the ground clad in dew-kissed grass and flimsy patches of mud. Flanking the area on either side were vibrantly colored forests, filled with towering pine trees that looked like the spears of giants. A few large boulders pierced up from the ground, smooth and glossy at the surface with recent dampness.

Thomas had yet to grow familiar with marches, which were rather nasty affairs. Every muscle in Thomas’ body seemed to radiate with a dull, throbbing soreness that broke out across his body, but the pain hardly compared to the searing pain that screeched from the cuts and scrapes which covered his body, seemingly yelling for help. The sound of crunching of twigs and yielding dirt rose up from the soles of the soldier’s stiff leather boots, echoing in the cool, crisp summer air.

Thomas wore light armor that day; a leather tunic, fastened together by buckles which ran down the center, topped with shimmering steel pauldrons and plates of hardened leather which ran down his arm. His legs were covered with a pair of leather trousers, padded and reinforced with steel plates at the knees and tightened by a firm leather belt, with a sheathed axe hanging from it. His boots were composed of a stiff leather, crunching as it stepped over dirt and small stones, and shadowed by a black cloak which billowed over it all, fastened at his shoulders by round silver pins.

The wind was moist, frigid as it collided against Thomas’s face and reddened his cheeks. The sun was tucked away behind the hulking menace of caliginous rain clouds which had long passed, and a lofty shadow crept slowly across the plains.

Thomas couldn’t help thinking how soon it would be over, soon he would be home and meet again with the warm embrace of his hearth, or any source of heat, really. Why had he been so stupid to join this army. The question pondered through his head, but he knew the answer. He wanted to be recognized, or even simply accomplished for once in his life. But it was not worth this torture, this endless agony.

Suddenly the army halted, and the general hushed the confused troops. Thomas managed to get a look in between two soldiers broad shoulders, seeing what was happening ahead. The forest (some 300 meters away) was rustling, seemingly showing signs of a strange presence among its vibrant green leaves and underbrush. Thomas squinted at the mass, and suddenly the glint of steel caught his eye.

Burly men in shimmering steel plate armor, with blue round shields emerged from the forest, their shapes looming into sight. From the flanks emerged two massive huddles of cavalry, their warhorses covered in armor displaying the fleur de lis on blue. Thomas scoured at the horrific sight.

It was the French.  

The English army suddenly bustled with movement, as their lightly armored infantry formed sparse lines, flanked by bundles of archers positioned on either side. Thomas glanced at the general, a large man with long black hair and a short black beard, awaiting his command.

Soldiers in front of him suddenly lifted their arms, digging large wooden stakes into the ground, aimed at toppling any advancing cavalry. Thomas prepared himself, grabbing his longbow and nocking a massive bodkin arrow from his quiver. His soul stirred with fear and horror, remembering the last conflict he had entered. The English army stood only 6,000 as opposed to the tens of thousands of French troops, who had heavy plate armor and breastplates compared to the English leather padding and gambesons. The English army was arranged rather strangely; with a large square of men at arms in between two flanks of archers, positioned a few meters above them. The met at arms were armed with long spears, heavy halberds, and large longswords, their steel gleaming as an edge of approaching sunlight caught it.

Thomas shook the ideas out of his mind, focusing at the task at hand diligently. After what seemed like hours (but was only five minutes) The general gestured towards the archers, shouting his command.

“Fire!” He yelled, and they did so gladly.

Thomas  tugged his heavy bowstring (having a draweight of about 180 pounds), releasing smoothly in unicen with the other archers. His arrow barreled through the air with the other storm of arrows, and he followed it with his eyes to see its course. It streamed through the air, slamming down into the neck of a cavalry unit, sending him stumbling to the ground in shock. The other arrows rained down wildly, thrusting their points into troops and killing hundreds.

The rumbling of hooves thundered through the air as the cavalry charged, putting their lances straight in front of them to try to prevent more devastating volleys of arrows. Another volley was fired, killing hundreds of cavaliers. But the cavalry pressed on, not realizing the wooden stakes pitched in front of the archers. Men screamed in terror as they collided with the large spikes, impaled and dead before the hit the ground.

Thomas fired another arrow at the enemies in front of them, easily hitting a soldier in the chest. The cavalry now knew of the threat, and attempted to retreat swiftly. But in doing so, quiet humorously indeed, they collided with the advancing men-at-arms, rattling the lines into disfigurement and breaking the sharp formations of the troops.

Thomas chuckled slightly, and the archers fired another volley of deadly arrows, which crashed down on the confused soldiers for a truly devastating effect. They managed to launch several deadly volleys during this time of disarray, but eventually the troops were organized again, lumbarding forward slowly in their heavy armor to face the English.

Arrow volleys streamed through the air, and Thomas’ bow had pierced the flesh of many men. He was a bit stunned to realize his strange pride and joy in killing so many men, and the thought slightly scared him.

He tore himself back to attention, almost jumping back when he realized how close the troops had come. Eagerly, he drew a long bodkin arrow from his quiver and fired once, twice, three times, before he realized his quiver was empty, and he was left completely weaponless, as were many of the other archers.

The French infantry were now close enough to attack, in between the two flanks of archer,  and they weakly flailed their weapons forward, killing only a few English soldiers as they sustained destructive amounts of casualties, for they were very tired from the long weighted walk. Other archers fired off more arrows, as the English hacked and thrusted their weapons at the congested French lines, killing hundreds with their sheer advantage of light armor, enabling them to move swiftly and freely.

The sheer weight of the french numbers pushed at the English lines, shoving them backwards gradually, until the flanks of archers were close to the infantry.

“Archers, take up your weapons, attack!” The General yelled.

Thomas’ heart seemed to leap up his throat, as a deep pit of fear and anxiety down in his chest. He had decent experience at close quarters, yes, but he had never actually tried such a dangerous position in battle. Slowly he grabbed the shaft of his weapon, pulling out a long Danish axe he had hung from his back.

He took one last deep breath, and charged forth, his ax raised above his head. He found a men at arms in front of him, and he quickly swung the weapon down as hard as he could, and an expected ring of metal hissed through the air, as the weapon clashed against the soldiers helmet, engraving a deep gash into his head. The soldier shrieked in pain, falling back dead against the ranks of soldiers behind him.

Thomas took another massive swipe with the axe, but a troop raised his small buckler shield quick enough to block it, and the blow bounced off with a large boom of steel biting into wood, and splinters thundered through the air violently. He raised his axe again, slamming it down harder this time. The blow thundered against the shield, and the soldier yelled in a deep, rolling voice as a splitting sound echoed. The shield fell to the ground, and the soldier’s arms grew completely limp; Thomas knew the man’s arms were broken.

Thomas knew the soldier would be easily killed if he didn’t do so himself, and in one more swipe the man’s life was ended. Before he could fight another one, he felt a splitting pain screech across his back, and he could feel his skin yielding to the sharpness of the weapon.

He spun around, the pain amplifying into an excruciatingly blazing pain which wound down his back, staining his torn gambeson in blood. He met gazes with a soldier, one with a smug, prideful look on his face as he held his bloody sword.. Thomas scoured, raising his weapon to strike the man before his foe impulsively kicked him square in the chest out of panic, knocking Thomas to the ground immediately. Thomas gave a grunt of pain as his back slammed against the hard land, and he struggled to get a hold of his weapon which had fallen next to him.

At last he obtained a firm grip on the hilt of his axe, but when he looked up he saw a sword thrusting towards his chest. Quickly he rolled out of the way, and the blade sank into the ground, stuck. He seized the moment, sinking his axe into an unprotected spot in the man’s armor; his neck. Blood rushed from the wound as Thomas wrenched his axe out of the man’s neck, and the knight fell to the ground, dead immediately.

The adrenaline began to leave him, and he fell to the ground to at the splintering pain which entombed his back. Moments later French horns cried out, and they gathered their forces for a retreat. Thomas felt a stir of joy enter him at the sight, then swinging his attention back to his wound.

A man in red and white uniform rushed towards him, along with other men.

“Come, you’ll receive treatment elsewhere.” One said, as all loaded him onto a pad which they lifted him up by.

Maybe things were going to be okay after all.

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