Aelric

Lady Lylyth's mind rushed forward two days to the calm before the battle, sitting resolutely on the back of her beautiful black charger. She counted the numbers of the Saxons from a cliff overlooking both armies, breathing slowly and steadily despite the fear rising in her stomach. There were too many Saxons and not enough Bretons, that much was clear, as the Breton princess looked at the overwhelming force that was the Saxons.

Lylyth turned Brevalaer adeptly, headed back down the hillside, and issued an abrupt command to the lieutenant in charge of the archers. "I want every man prepared to fire as soon as the Saxons come within range. Pick off as many as you can and then send everyone with a sword, spear or club to join us below. We will need quite literally everyone capable."

The lieutenant nodded, repeating her orders among his men. His tone left it clear that he would brook no argument and Lylyth nodded to herself, assured that her orders would be well dispersed and carried out.

Urging the spirited horse forward, she proceeded to reach the bottom of the hill. Her eyes scanned the men lined up before her, all ready to fight and die in battle. Lylyth galloped her stallion in front of the line of men, every one of them raising his weapon in exultation as she passed before them. The young woman smiled to herself, feeling the intensity of emotion that these men – her men, felt about the battle before them.

Lylyth turned, controlling Brevalaer expertly, and addressed the multitude. "Bretons! Aye, every one of your can identify with that title, and take pride in it! As you all may have noticed, we are about to enter into a quite important battle!" Several men laughed heartily as she said this.

"Do not fear, oh great warriors! Every man of you is capable of slaying one of these Saxon brutes and I am quite sure more than most of you will! Fight for your kingdom, fight for your families, and fight for yourselves!" Lady Lylyth yelled in an attempt to inspire her men.

"For Brittany!" they bellowed back, the cry echoing through the valley as the Saxons charged toward the Bretons. Lylyth heard a command from above and nodded to herself as the arrows of her archers zipped into the ranks of the Saxons, most of the arrows finding their marks.

The archers reloaded quickly after a shout of, "Fire at will!" and continued to send their arrows tearing through the Saxon forces. The battle was opening well for the Bretons, but Lylyth knew that the outcome of this battle would be decided by the collision of the two forces.

The Saxons were bearing down on them and Lylyth cued her men forward in response to their proximity. "Montjoie!" she yelled, letting loose the traditional war cry of her people.

"Montjoie!" the men took up the cry, charging forward with their general. The forces clashed, neither side giving any ground as they stood toe to toe. Lylyth growled, bringing her blade down mercilessly into the flesh of a Saxon man twice her size. She pulled Durandal swiftly from the dying man's chest, already swinging toward another as her force started to fall back against the onslaught of the Saxons.

A flash of steel brought Lylyth's attention around to the man standing beside her horse, the man who was, in any war, the best second-in-command a general could have. Mathieu fought bravely and struggled against a Saxon man twice his height and weight. Lylyth flicked her blade to deflect another attack from her left, turning away from her trusted advisor for a split second. She killed the man that had attempted to take her by surprise, hearing a sickening thud before whirling around to assist Mathieu in his fight against the tall Saxon.

Lylyth's eyes flickered toward the lifeless form of her friend's corpse, rage bubbling within her. The Saxon man who had killed Mathieu grinned maliciously, daring her to be his next victim.

Spurring Brevalaer into a gallop, Lylyth held Durandal high, her lips pulled back in a wordless snarl as she leapt from her saddle toward the Saxon. Lylyth's weight hit the man squarely in the chest, knocking him onto his back and allowing her to beat at his face with the pommel of her sword.

Fear leapt into the man's eyes as Lylyth pummeled him with her sword. He struggled against her light weight, but strength forged of anger and desperation kept the young woman firmly planted over him. Taking a great swing, Lylyth brought the blade of her sword down on the man's neck, beheading him.

The enraged Breton looked at the dwindling battle, catching glimpses of her people – her friends, being hewn down mercilessly by the stronger and more vast Saxon army. Lylyth threw her head back, an inhuman shriek of anger tearing from her throat. She launched at the nearest group of Saxons, slaying several where they stood before the others began to fight back. Durandal lodged in the chest of one of them, but Lylyth continued to fight, fists flying swiftly toward another enemy.

"For my friends!" Lylyth shrieked, catching one of the men with a stiff left hook. A bloodlust consumed her, stronger than any other emotion she had ever experienced before, and Lylyth could feel naught else. Nothing, at least, until a pair of heavy Saxon arms caught hers fast behind her back.

The princess struggled against the man and his restraint, yelling furiously at the Saxons surrounding her. "I will kill you all! I'll slay you and your mistresses in your beds, you heartless pieces of garbage!" They could not understand her, but she cared little, knowing that the men would understand her tone, at least.

Laughter broke out among the men as Lylyth continued to make her futile struggle, their mirth enraging her still more. The man holding her arms spoke in a harsh, strangely accented language, clearly taunting her. He caught a glimmer of her hair as it started to slip out from under the rest of her armor and spoke to the man that she had punched.

From the strange mess of foreign words, Lylyth was able to pull out the man's name, which was Cælin. He nodded respectfully to the man, addressing him as a man of rank and referring to him as Lord Jaenberht. Lylyth was unable to decipher much else of what he said before the man called Cælin stepped forward and wrenched her helmet off mercilessly. She snarled in pain, sounding more like a feral animal than a human being, and her plait of darkly shimmering hair slipped into view. The Saxons gave a start, realizing that the "man" who had brutally killed their companions was not, in fact, a man.

Slow, carnal smiles spread across the Saxon faces that surrounded her and Lylyth's anger wavered, tendrils of fear snaking into her mind. Lord Jaenberht brought his mouth to her neck, sending a shiver of discomfort down Lylyth's spine. A voice with no obvious owner resounded through the throng of men in the strange Saxon tongue, commanding them to stop with the utterance of a single word.

Tall and fair, a shadow of tan skimming across his skin, a young man muscled his way through the crowd, which, by the look of his thick build and muscles, was no difficult feat. The young man's cold blue eyes looked on her, mercy flickering in them before they hardened again.

"Let her go," he said, in Lylyth's own tongue.

"Do not push me around, Aelric," Lord Jaenberht said from behind her, the Saxons slipping into her language easily. Maybe they had understood what she'd said. "I want to have my fun first, and then you can have her …if you still want her." The Saxon lord laughed maliciously.

"I will not repeat myself again, Jaenberht. Let her go. I will take her to a prison tent and deal with her. The king has demanded that she be untouched and unharmed," Aelric said, his words few, but his tone allowing for no defiance.

Jaenberht thrust Lylyth at Aelric, sneering angrily, his brutish face contorting in an ugly fashion. Lylyth fell against Aelric's chest, the close proximity slightly uncomfortable, and she stepped away from him slowly. He stalked off, his posse of men following him. Lylyth stood before Aelric, entranced by his dangerously muscled form and shoulder-length hair, hanging loose about his shoulders. "Are you alright, Lady?" he asked gently, the coldness in his eyes having faded.

Lylyth's reverie broken, she nodded. "Lylyth. My name is Lady Lylyth. I am a handmaiden of my Queen…but do not think that just because you have been kind to me and saved me from being ravaged by your Saxon men that I will not try to escape. I do not doubt that your king sent no such order as you spoke of about the keeping of my good health. I am quite sure, however, that your king would very well rather I be dead."

Aelric arched an eyebrow at her, replying after a moment's thought. "Oh really? And why should you think that? You are quite beautiful, so maybe he will simply take you as his fourth wife." The Saxon man attempted to keep a straight face, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

"Thank you so very much! I am glad you find this funny, you jerk," Lylyth snapped. Her eyes darted suspiciously, meeting Aelric's for a moment before he took her arm gently. He was digging for information, acting as a spy for the Saxons. This was all a big facade. Save the girl, make her fall in love with you and then persuade her to tell you everything from being Princess of the Bretons to the war paths and plans of her kingdom.

"I have to put you in the prison tent, you know. I will not take you by force if you will go willingly, but I have to take you," Aelric muttered regretfully.