Scottish Independence By: Scott Moseley

The shambles of the defeated Scottish militia huddled around a fire. Their faces were sullen, for they had just received word that their leader and inspiration, Braveheart, had just been splayed open by the English for treason. The cold Scottish rain drenched their shawls and their weapons lay in a heap off to the side. No one spoke. Dreading the silence one of the younger Campbell lads, an eighteen year old, wanted to start a conversation. "So, now wha' do we do?" he asked.

Everyone looked up at him. Most of them shrugged. One of them, an older farmer in his forties said, "Ah know wha' we do now. We go back to our homes, back to our normal lives or no?" Several of the men agreed with an "'ere, 'ere." Others did not say anything, but most disagreed. Shouts of dissention came from them.

"No, we are 'ere for a reason! We are all tired of being pushed aroun' by the English!" One of the men, a shopkeeper known only by the name of 'old man MacDougall', stood up.

"Just because the English have those long bows does no' mean we can no' win. So, le' us go finish wha' Braveheart has started." He walked over to the pile of weapons, picked up his saber and scowled. "So are ye wit' me, or no?"

Most of the men got up, retrieved their weapons and stood by MacDougall a few, who believed the farmer, stayed and stared at the fire until their silence was unbearable. Finally, the farmer stood up and looked around. With a whelp he exclaimed. "Well, ye can no' win if yer outnumbered. Ah've seen too many a good Scotsman fall and if it were fer a vain cause, ah'll slay the man who made it so." He walked over to the pile of weapons and picked his long sword up and thrust his dirk into his belt, then putting on his wooden shield. The remaining men huddled by the fire continuing to stare at the flames. The newly discovered soldiers looked at the shopkeeper who had inspired them.

The farmer spoke. "Ye'are the one in charge now," he said.

The eighteen year old cried, "Aye. Aye!"

The shopkeeper nodded. "Alright lads, let's go get our country back."

Their total numbers barely broke two hundred, but with new found determination the militia marched off towards the English border.

Later that night the young Campbell lad, farmer, and MacDougall found themselves situated four miles from the English army. As the night wore on the sentries were garrisoned on high alert because the English army was so close.

The next morning the Scots awoke before the sun arrived on the horizon to yet another misty grey and dismal day. They formed up and marched off to meet the English.

At the English camp breakfast blood sausages and mushrooms were cooking. None of the English seemed to notice that they were in a basin formed by the rolling Scottish hills. At this point all the English seemed to care about was or so it seemed to them, the Scottish uprising had been put down and that for once in two years they were feasting on a decent breakfast.

MacDougall and the farmer were kneeling on the ridge of the green hill that formed part of the basin that the English were in. They were silently observing everything the English were doing. The shopkeeper leaned over to the farmer and whispered, "Lis'en to me now. Tell the lads to get on this ridge as quietly as possible. Go quick and do no' make a noise 'til Ah give the word."

The farmer nodded and ran down the hill as quickly and as quietly as possible. Old MacDougall heard the patter of the farmer's feet as he ran through the lush green grass, continuing to stalk the English, taking in every little detail. Most of the English were still in their bed clothes eating breakfast as if they had not a care in the world. Not many of them were armed and MacDougall could smell the fires burning as the grey smoke rose slowly into the air and then blended in with the grey sky.

Before MacDougall knew it his men were gathered around him. The farmer came over to him and questioned, "Wat do we do now?"

MacDougall eyed him and responded. "Bring the archers up front and spread 'em out, but do it quietly."

Within minutes the archers were up front spread out as MacDougall had ordered. The shopkeeper laid out the plans for the archers.

Although their range was not as long as the English long bows, the Scots wielding them were deadly accurate at their longest possible range. The plan was simple. Get as far down the hill as possible without being noticed, then let off a volley of arrows, let the swordsmen charge while the archers put off two more volleys, and then they were to join the fray.

The Scottish marauders began to creep down the hill as quietly as possible. Pleased that he had gotten half way down with out being noticed, MacDougall decided this was a good place to stop. He ran behind the archers, and whispered to the farmer.

"Now is where Ah leave ye in charge of the archers. Ah'll tell 'em to fire once and then ye take over while Ah charge. Do ye understand or no?"

The farmer nodded. "Aye sirs, Ah understand."

MacDougall looked around. "Archers ready!" He whispered loudly. Every archer notched an arrow onto their bows and drew back. "'Ire!" he again whispered loudly.

Arrows sliced through the air, striking their unknowing targets with painful accuracy. Those still untouched by the hail of projectiles at the bottom of the basin looked around and tried to find the source. Drawing his saber MacDougall stood and shouted, "Charge, fer the love of yer country, charge, and may yer strength be as twenty!" He shouted as his soldiers ran past.

"'Ire!" shouted the farmer. Another deadly accurate hail of shafts rained upon the camp, finally sending those who were still living into a mass panic and frenzy to reach their weapons.

The Scots reached the edge of the camp as King Edwards' English army came out of their tents with their newly grabbed weapons.

"'Ire!" the farmer shouted once more sending more British to their graves. The farmer then immediately shouted "Charge!" The archers drew their swords and joined into the melee.

The Scottish were badly outnumbered, but they fought on. Not one soul fell back to run. The young Campbell ran between a line of tents and fires. A knight jumped out of his tent slashing at the lad. The knight was quickly slammed in the face with a round oak shield, and knocked backwards into a fire, his clothes quickly set ablaze. Another knight ran at the lad slashing down. The lad hopped back letting the blade of the Englishman's sword sink deep into the soggy ground. The Campbell lad hit him with his shield, knocking him flat.

There was a sudden whizzing sound and then pain swelled in the boy's abdomen. He looked down to see an arrow protruding from his stomach. He looked up and saw an English archer notching another arrow onto his long bow. The eighteen year old let out an ear wrenching scream of pain and then charged the archer. He smashed the bow against his shield causing it to snap. The archer, stunned, dropped to his back. The boy smashed the archer with his shield, killing him instantly.

MacDougall, who had been watching him, parried an unexpected lunge from a knight; returning the lunge with one of his own, he dropped the knight instantly. He ran over to where the wounded lad still stood. MacDougall looked at him. There was a distant look in the Campbell lads face. Then the lad dropped to his knees.

"C'mon now. Ye aren't hurt tha' bad. Are ye?" asked MacDougall as he snapped the arrow off. "C'mon, Ah'll help ye up. Ah'll have to thank ye. That archer was goin' fer me."

The eighteen year old stood, stumbled, and then fell back to his knees. "Ah can't stan', the arrow is painin' me too much," he grimaced.

An English knight spied them and he swung his sword at the MacDougall who neatly blocked it with his own blade. The eighteen year old brought up his sword and shoved it into the knight's stomach.

The Campbell lad looked at the shopkeeper. "Go on now 'nd do no' forget me." He fell forward. MacDougall looked down at Campbell sullenly, and then he looked up to survey the battle scene. He watched a knight stab a Scottish marauder only to be jumped upon by three more. A sudden noise made MacDougall look up. The English were in full retreat. Once over the opposite ridge the English ran as fast as possible. The farmer ran to the crest. "Take tha' back to yer king and let him know that Braveheart's spirit will 'ive on forever in our own brave 'earts." The remaining Scotsmen ran to the top of the crest and cheered.

MacDougall came up to the crest and shouted after the English. "Let tha' be a testament to ye tha' the Scottish won' be pushed aroun'!" He shouted after the British.

The Scottish went about burying their dead. MacDougall came over to where he had left the young Campbell lad and rolled him over.

"Did we win?" Campbell asked. He was still alive. MacDougall smiled and nodded.

"Aye, we won, or at least fer now anyway," he said.

"Good, Longshanks can now pay his men fer bein' lily livered!" the eighteen year old grunted.

"C'n ye stan' or no?" the shopkeeper asked. The Campbell lad shook his head.

"Nay, Ah'm afraid not. Ye see, I can no' feel me legs."

The shopkeeper nodded. "So ye say. Ye stay 'ere and we'll be back fer ye a'fer burying the dead, and we'll bring ye a litter."

The eighteen year old nodded. "Aye. Ah won' go no wheres without you."

Of the two hundred Scottish soldiers who started out, and pledged their lives, only thirty-six were battle worthy. The only wounded marauder that survived was the Campbell lad. The dead English were numbered about three hundred and thirty five.

The Scottish walked away in the direction of home, leaving the battle ground behind them, each taking turns carrying the litter, except for MacDougall, who made sure that he carried an end by himself. All were hoping that Longshanks would not try to take control of Scotland again, at least they reveled in this day's victoy.