Twice the luckless Cyra the Saxon had attempted to plunder British lands, and twice he had been defeated by the valiant Aelius.
The third time Cyra was able to muster up a force large enough to consider raiding was in early August. He attacked a farm not far from the British-Saxon border, but was unlucky enough to be intercepted yet again by Aelius’ army.
Hurrying forwards, Cyra laid a cunning trap for the incoming Britons. He posted his hearthguards out on the open south of the farm, sent one band of warriors into the farmhouse looking for plunder, and kept the rest of his men in the farm-complex, creating an L-shaped ambush for the British to walk straight into.
Decurion Flexigus was first onto the scene with the Numeri. Realising the folly of advancing into Cyra’s trap, he formed up a shieldwall and lined his men up on the ridge to the west of the farms, overlooking the plundering going on before him. Eventually Rellius and Aelius arrived with the rest of the British forces.
Aelius quickly came to the same conclusion as Flexigus: a head-on assault on Cyra was impossible while the Saxon aristocrats Merx and Heist (a new member of Cyra’s retinue, and distant cousin) held the farm complex and the northern flank. Therefore, Aelius started threading his men around the farmhouses between the forest and the wheatfields, in order to outflank Merx’s outflanking force.
The manouvere was successful, for although Merx was able to reposition his men to face the new threat, Rellius surged forth with the elite compulares and smashed into the Saxon line. His own half-dozen warriors had killed four Saxons within moments. If the inexperienced Heist had not managed to bring his plunderers out of the farmhouse to reinforce the line, the Saxons may well have folded instantly.
Realising the threat to his right, Cyra launched his own assault against Flexigus on the hill. Although Flexigus led valiantly from the front, and Cyra started suffering heavy losses, slowly and gradually, the British warriors started to succumb under Cyra’s relentless blows. Slowly but surely, he was starting to break through. Cyra could taste victory at last!
Meanwhile, after his first brutal onslaught, Rellius was causing Merx and Heist no end of trouble. This only escaluated when Aelius was finally able to bring his levies out of the wheatfields (Aelius was having constant trouble manouevering the untrained mobs) and crash into the Saxon flank. Aelius fought as was his custom, at the front, and saw his own champion cut down and all the men around him killed. This was eerily familiar to the Praefectus, who could still vividly remember being isolated and surrounded by Saxon hearthguards just moments before they broke in flight.
However, Aelius’ bright sword was enough to tip the tide of battle, at least around the farm complex. Heist and Merx were flung back by their own routing warriors. The farm had been saved.
At this point, Flexigus, who had been injured in the first clash against Cyra’s elites, was cut down and his head displayed as a trophy by the triumphant pagans. Panic spread throughout the exhausted British vanguard. Cyra was on the very cusp of smashing nearly half the British army.
However, the Saxons were equally exhausted. As Merx and the few Saxon survivors from the brawl in the farm complex retreated, they were chased by a band of British youths armed with bows and slings. The boys were no great warriors, but they gave the Saxons such a barrage of missiles that even Merx was hit and fell to the ground. He was simply knocked down and quickly picked himself up again, but the damage had been done. Inexplicably, one last surge of panic rippled through the Saxon ranks, they wavered, and then they broke. Cyra was defeated again, and hounded by Aelius’ men even more vigorously than last time.
Victory had not come cheaply however. Flexigus was dead, as was half of the British infantry. But even this eventually became a blessing for the fortunate Aelius, as he was adopted only a month later into Flexigus’ grieving family, in order to carry on the bloodline. He became known as the Purple-born, which was partly an epiphet of respect and partly an ironic statement lampooning his modest middle-class background.
The luckless Cyra, however, stumbled across an old British priest in his flight. Cyra demanded refuge, the priest refused, and Cyra in a rage, cut his throat. But even as the priest’s lifeblood seeped out of him, he spat out a curse that was to haunt Cyra for the rest of his days.
“May you never find peace, even in the land of the conquered, and may you ever run in defeat from your foes.”
He tried not to let the story spread, but one of his men, tired of Cyra’s boundless bad luck, witnessed the murder and the curse and spread the word very rapidly (needless to say, he soon left Cyra’s service). Cyra became known as Cyra the Damned.