Here is the promised second excerpt from ‘The Dagger of Dresnia’, book one of The Talismans by Satima Flavell.
Beverak leaned into the charge, sword drawn, wind rushing in his ears. The earth reverberated with thousands of hooves, the air thickened with yells and screams. Arrows rained down around him. One caught him in the shoulder, knocking him back in the saddle, but it failed to penetrate. He brushed it off his mail and it fell harmlessly to the ground.
Closer, ever closer they rode, toward the bristling line of archers. The archers broke and ran, firing a final volley over their shoulders. Their departure revealed a wall of shields, sheltering behind a line of pikes stuck into the earth like a row of old men’s rotten teeth. A horse bolted past Beverak, making for a gap between the pikes. It missed and impaled itself, went down screaming. The rider flew into the wall of shields. It opened briefly, swallowed him whole. Another horse stumbled into a pitfall, and rolled on its rider. Both were trampled by the oncoming charge.
Around him, horses reared, baulking at the bristling pikes. He whispered into his own mount’s ear, and it hurtled forward, unfazed by the wall of shields and pikes. The wall broke. Men scattered and ran.
Shields reformed in clusters around banners. Riders on the charge’s flanks fanned outward to attack from the sides.
Beverak pressed forward with the centre, slowing to meet sword with sword among the huddles of fighting men.
He hacked and slashed at man after man, some mounted, some on foot. A sword chopped at his horse’s neck. Beverak’s sword took off the hand that held it. He wheeled to meet a mounted opponent, but the man’s horse bucked and pitched the rider beneath the hooves of Beverak’s rearing mount. Mud and grass and blood sprayed up, and Beverak pressed on.
The day reduced to cut, thrust, kill, turn, over and over again. Ullavir’s voice of years before rang in his ears. Grip with your knees and try not to die.
Then Ullavir was beside him in truth, the standard bearer at his side. ‘Back off, sire,’ he hissed. ‘We want a live king, not a dead hero.’