It is a cold autumn day at the end of October. Beltaine is fast approaching but a few days yet remain until the veil between the living and the dead is at its weakest. A light rain dampens everything without soaking through the thickest clothes. The stand of trees to the west of the field have leaves that are yellow, brown, orange and red showing their full autumn splendour. The field that we are focused on is uneven and hasn’t been properly tilled. Remains of old wheat and barley is withering away together with various weeds in patches here and there. On the field four men have met, despite the inclement weather.
On the western side of the field a Cymric knight by the name of Sir Cadry is just strapping on his shield marked with the green oak of the Cellydon on a white background. Assisting him with his preparations is his young, squat squire Jasper, the son of one of Sir Cadry’s best friends Sir Jaradan.
To the east, a hulking saxon warrior by the name of Lifstan has just dismounted from a horse. The observant among you might notice that the saxon isn’t a skilled rider and walks with a stiff-legged gait as he starts making his way across the field. Accompanying him to witness the duel about to take place is another warrior who goes by the name of Vigrid. Vigrid is by no means a squire but rather a warrior in his own right. Vigrid considers the fight about to take place foolish, and would rather have seen a fullscale raid on the manor of the enemy. Honour has dictated however that this fight must take place and such is life. He keeps his mouth shut.
The two duellists walk towards each other and stops when but fifteen paces remain between them. Both fighters start seizing up each other to determine if any advantage is to be had from any perceived weakness of the enemy.
Sir Cadry measures in at 183 centimetres and weighs in at 87 kilograms. He is a tall, lean, handsome man who moves with the grace that is almost elf-like. He has no other living brothers and some claim that all the potential that was meant for several sons culminated in Sir Cadry. Others claim that his father, Cadwallon, made dear sacrifices to the old, bloody, pagan gods of the forest to ensure that they would favour his son. What is certain is that the fair knight has made a name for himself in several battles and he has fought several previous duels. He has as much talent for acquiring fame as he has for making enemies. At the age of 31 he has slain and murdered countless Saxons. In his chest burns a seldom seen hatred for the foreign invaders that has at times lent his sword arm a strength and speed far beyond his years.
Behold the arming sword “Oak Edge” that Sir Cadry wields in his right hand.
Eighty-one centimetres of pattern-welded, double-edged carbon steel, Cymric quality. 1.16 kilos in weight with a 5mm tapered fuller and a solid iron pommel. The grip is Salisbury oak harvested in the forest of gloom, polished smooth by 3000 handholds.
The folded carbon-steel, laid over a softer steel core, accounts for the sword’s impressive flexibility, as well as for the high price it fetched at the market in Sarum since it had to be shipped from the forges in London.
In his left hand, he hefts a large kite shield fashioned and finished according the precepts set forth by the mighty king Uther. On the inside of the shield an enarmes can be found, and it has been pulled taut to secure it to Cadry’s arm. The shield is made from solid, laminated, Salisbury oak with a leather covering produced from cow hides. It is truly a shield created for mounted warfare but it is also serviceable when dismounted.
Lifstan is a large mound of muscles measuring in at 197 centimetres and weighs in at 110 kilograms. As is usual for many of the greater Saxon warriors he relies more on brute force and overwhelming strength than dexterity. Many enemies have made the mistake of underestimating the hulking man though, judging him nothing but a brute. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lifstan is a cunning and skilled warrior that has seen more than 40 winters pass and he is as of yet undiminished by age. He has slaughtered Cymric warriors and knights since he was but 17 years old and carries the scars to prove it. In his beard, he carries many iron rings forged from the weapons of his departed enemies and they rattle against each other in the wind blowing around the combatants. He has many reasons to stand on this field today. Foremost among them is his sworn promise to behead Sir Cadry if the aforementioned knight did not release Ingold, nephew of Lifstan. Such release has not come and thus familial loyalty and honour dictates that Lifstan must pit his own skill against the hated Cymric knight. Secondly, he also plans to ride toward Tisbury manor after Cadry is dead and reclaim the Sword of the hero Sigeberht, taken so ignobly from said hero as he was killed by Cadry’s father Cadwallon. Lifstan plans to claim the sword and gift it to the head of the fenris family, Saexwulf, who happen to be the son of Sigeberht.
Lifstan’s axe, loosely held in his left hand, weighs in at 6 kilograms of high carbon steel, flaring out at 32 centimetres at the notched killing edge. The haft is made from ash, harvested in Suth Seaxe, measuring in at 56 centimetres. It is a shock weapon, favoured by many Saxons, meant to splinter shields and cleave even the stoutest helmets at close range. Lifstan, being a bit of a blunt object himself has named it “Hel”.
In his right hand Lifstan tightly grip a large wooden round shield marked by a stylized wolf’s head. It is made from durable yew wood and has a large central iron boss that will protect the hand even after most of the wood is chopped to kindling. The rim is reinforced with cured leather hides.
By some unspoken consensus, the fighters start approaching each other and circling clockwise. None of them wants to overextend himself before having taken measure of the other yet someone has to strike the first blow.
Cadry takes a few, quick steps closer to his enemy obviously intent on utilizing his longer reach due to his tall sword and thrusts the tip of his sword towards Lifstan’s expose right knee. The massive saxon just lowers his shield and the sword quickly taps the surface. Lifstan has been waiting for the knight to come closer and releases a large cut from overhead really putting his shoulder and hips into it. Cadry is prepared for the counter attack though and takes two quick steps backwards and interposes his own tall shield. He is surprised though by the force behind the blow that makes his shield groan as splinter fly from left side of it.
Realizing that his shield won’t be able to handle to many of those massive axe blows that the saxon champion seems to deliver all to casually, Cadry carefully backs away. He has noticed how slippery the ground is thanks to the damp and knows that the first man to lose his footing will probably lose his life too.
Lifstan is experienced enough not to follow up the attack, knowing that the knight isn’t quite as much on the defensive as he seems. For an instant the two men stop and stare at each other and one can see hatred burning in the eyes of Sir Cadry. Lifstans eyes on the other hand hold a quiet but fierce determination. He knows that even should he lose this duel he will be feasting in Wotan’s hall this evening as long as he dies with honour and a weapon in his hand.
Suddenly the duellists are at it again, both now fully committed to death or victory. It is hard for the observers to notice every blow and move made since both warriors are fighting far beyond their normal capacity. Sir Cadry’s blade seems to live a life of its own and strikes like a snake from many different directions. One can tell though that there is force behind the cuts and thrusts as chips and splinters sail through the air as Lifstan’s shield takes a beating.
Lifstan for his part is slower, but not by much and the blows that he deals out are terrible. One of his chops goes right through Sir Cadry’s shield and cuts into the arm underneath. Sir Cadry cries out but a rage has taken hold of him. Buried deep inside is a dark and terrible memory buried from when Cadry was but two years old and saw many kin butchered by the treachery of the Saxons. All that hate blocks out most of the pain and forces him to fight even harder and faster.
The fight flows back and forth with both fighters taking wounds inflicted by the other. None of the wounds can settle who is to win though and soon blood mists the ground together with the rain.
Neither of the two observers dares to shout any encouragements or swearwords during it all for fear of distracting their own champion.
What finally tips the fight in the end is that damn horse. Lifstan, being saddle-sore, is slightly more stiff-legged than usual and thus his footwork lags behind as the muddy ground turns more and more slippery. Sir Cadry’s old trainer and lord Sir Amig, would have been proud to witness his old squire utilize all the training he beat into him and finally outmanoeuvre the saxon bastard. As Cadry slides in low on Lifstan’s right side, Lifstan is just a little bit too slow to shift his shield in the way of the darting blade. Before he realizes it, 30 centimetres of steel is shifting around in his gut, having penetrated right through his rugged Frankish chainmail. He tries to force his left hand to rise and hammer a killing blow down on Sir Cadry’s helmet but the iron worm in his belly is quickly stealing all his strength.
Sir Cadry backs away still with both blade and manhandled shield at the ready. He can hear the large saxon heaving out breaths like stunned bull and he sees shivers rack Lifstan’s great frame. After what seems like a full minute, the saxon finally falls to his knees. The only part of him that doesn’t seem to relax is his left hand that holds a dead man’s grip on Hel’s haft.
Cadry steps forth and with a swift stab through the neck he finishes of his enemy. After having done so he raises his blade against Vigrid and says “Next time any of you decide come after me, remember what happened to Lifstan. Remember that you will all die in vain on your foolish quest for the that overgrown sword.”
Vigrid stands quiet for a short while before he replies “I will tell Saexwulf”.
The bout of the day being concluded, Vigrid turns and walks over to his horse and mounts up and rides away to the east. How he will make his way back to his own lands the story doesn’t tell but a few days later word of what happened on that muddy autumn field reaches the ears of Saexwulf, head of the Fenris family. None can say for certain though what he is thinking but it is clear that this blood feud is not settled.