The arrogance of my brother was astounding. He knew that there would be a chance that the Duros would get to the wreck before him, but thought nothing of endangering his men’s lives. The Durotriges had several large camps within their region, but they spent the majority of their time at the compound closest to the River Sid, especially in the warmer seasons. It was almost certain that they’d be in close proximity to the shore.
Cador’s only advantage over the sheer numbers of our enemies was that the Duros were all on foot. Our warriors were mounted on our strongest horses and furnished with bronze tipped spears and blades. I watched from my clifftop position as the first Duro child raised the alarm. The tiny boy squealed to his mother, pointing to the wall of our men galloping towards them. She in turn bellowed to those around her, scattering the women and children in a frenzy of panic.
Dropping the spoils from the wreck, their men armed themselves with whatever lay to hand and prepared for the onslaught. The tide was fully out, allowing Cador’s warriors to ride either side of their Chief. Spears raised to shoulder height, they charged towards the Duros roaring with the calls of the Head Hunter Clan.
I have to admire the bravery of the Duro men. They stood shoulder to shoulder, axes and daggers in hand, teeth clenched and bared to their foes. My breathing shortened; my heart hammered its beat in my ears as I raced down the trail towards the beach. When I got to the woodland, I slipped off my horse and ran the rest of the way, keeping low to avoid detection.
Dodging the wagons and carthorses, I arrived just in time to see Cador ploughing through the front row of Duro warriors. His horse barged one man aside, while another caught the end of Cador’s blade as he reached out to swipe it across the warrior’s throat. It almost severed the head from his neck. Crimson humours gushed out of the wound, opening it wide until the man buckled to the shingle in a limp and bloodied mass.
A third man launched a spear. My brother ducked and deflected as it clipped the top of his shield and clattered to the ground behind him. Swerving his horse into the path of a wiry Duro fighter, Cador took him down with a well-timed jab to the man’s torso.
His sickening grin grew wider each time he dispatched another young fighter to the Summerlands to sit with their ancestors. He certainly earned his title of Cador the Cruel this day. The men either side of him slaughtered several others, taking few hits in return. Broken bodies and entrails sprayed across the grey pebbles attracting the gulls in squabbling flocks.
More Duro men lay ahead, undaunted. Cador yanked the reins of his horse, aiming his steed into their path. Before he was a couple of boat lengths from his next victims the Duro men crouched down, revealing a long line of maiden warriors. In unison, they raised their bows and took aim. Cador and his Head Hunters saw them, moving their shields across their bodies.
It was not our men they were targeting. One woman at the end of the row yelled “Loose” and every arrow thudded into its mark. The horses reared up, squealing in agony. Blood streaked down their glistening necks. Some crashed to the ground, pinning the legs of their riders beneath them. Cador was thrown. He skidded on his shoulder, gouging a great groove in the shingle, before landing at the feet of a massive Duro warrior.