|Nazcuss the Black Hearted|
Sometime during the Mythic Era
Considered members of the Knights of the Sixteen to be his family
Changed depending on his emotions
|Chronological and political information|
The Dark One
Nazcuss the Black-Hearted was an Ayleid created during the Mythic Era. He founded the Knights of the Sixteen when he was ninety-seven years old and led them to prosperity. In 2E 18, he was killed by an ancestor of Reman Cyrodiil. However, his spirit survived and inhabited many beings throughout time. The two most significant of these were perhaps Jagar Tharn and Mankar Camoran, both of whom almost destroyed the Empire of Cyrodiil. His spirit has been neutralized but has not been destroyed as it was only soul-trapped inside a Grand Soul Gem by the Hero of Cyrodiil in 3E 456.
Nazcuss was among the first beings to be created. He had no parents but was simply created by the gods. Which gods they were was unknown; whether it was the Daedra or the Nine. Either way, Nazcuss soon came to believe that the Daedric Lords were the true masters of Tamriel and luckily the Ayleids who ruled Tamriel at the time shared his views and he became a member of the court of the King of the Ayleids. He eventually left the court at the youthful age of twenty-two to preach in the wilderness. When he returned at the age of ninety-seven from regions outside Tamriel, he was a changed man.
The Revolt of the AuroransEdit
At this time, Nazcuss began preaching about the Daedra Lords and how Tamriel was rightfully theirs. (This was mirrored during the Third Age when Mankar Camoran began preaching.) Many Ayleids believed him and together they founded the Knights of the Sixteen, an unholy order of Dark Crusaders. At first, they were nothing but an order similar to the much later Knights of the Thorn in that they claimed to be great but never really did anything. Then, twenty-two years after the founding of the Knights of the Sixteen and a year after the beginning of the Revolt of the Aurorans, Nazcuss led a force of knights to the occupied region of Miscarcand, which at the time was a small city on the outskirts of the Ayleid Empire. He used espionage and stealth to get into the city and took it from the inside. For this, the Knights of the Sixteen were given recognition as a supreme fighting force.
Nazcuss led the knights to more and more victories during the Revolt of the Aurorans. Eventually, he was given command of a large portion of the Imperialist force, and he sent them to assault the final Auroran-held fortress of Anga. Nazcuss and Terac the Great led an Imperial army against the rebels at Anga. The battle was hard. Uletsnil the Powerful was the commander of the rebels and therefore, the defenders were well-organized and filled with courage.
The battle opened with Terac's forces charging at the walls even though Nazcuss had advised him against it. The Auroran archers simply cut them down. Nazcuss then sent the elite Ayleid cavalry round to the back of the fortress before ordering the Knights of the Sixteen to aid Terac's forces. The Knights made a difference. As they were by now backed by the Ayleid Emperor's money and armory, they were now elite soldiers. The only ones superior were the Dwarven mercenaries that roamed around Tamriel at the time. This elite band of fighters proved effective as they cut through the Auroran defenders before being confronted at the gate to the deep inner workings of Anga. Their blockade was Bragi the Mighty, a famous Dwarven mercenary armed with a battle-axe he had strengthened with a Great Sigil Stone. The axe was capable of killing any being with a single blow unless they wore armor granted to them by Mehrunes Dagon. Terac however, owned such armor himself, was able to come to the rescue of the Knights, and killed Bragi. Nazcuss then led a strike force through the newly breached gates and onto the center of the fort.
The remaining Aurorans however, managed to beat back Nazcuss and his men. They were forced to fall back and besiege Anga, all the time suffering raids upon their camps by Auroran archers. Eventually however, dwarves hired by Terac arrived at Anga. The new allies gave the Ayleid Imperialists some morale and another assault was planned. This time, Nazcuss led the Imperialists. He proved to be much superior to Terac in leadership and soon the Imperialists were celebrating the recapture of the Entrance Hall of Anga. Nazcuss then decided to burn the rest of the fortress rather than risk a small war inside the many corridors of the place. However, at a council of war, Terac overruled the tactic and instead the combat option was chosen.
Both sides sustained heavy losses in the long four months of guerilla combat that followed. Eventually though, the final tower fell to the Imperialist forces and Uletsnil fled. Nazcuss noted that his arch-nemesis was not among the dead or the captured and so set off after him after a three-day head-start.
The Great War of SkyrimEdit
Nazcuss roamed Tamriel searching for Uletsnil everywhere. He rode across the entire continent many times but never came any closer. He heard many rumors that an Auroran had been spotted crossing the mountains and going through Pale Pass to reach Skyrim. Nazcuss however, could not follow. After the death of Terac at the Battle of Anga, the Ayleids had grown more hostile towards the inhabitants of Skyrim. Nazcuss would need an army to go to Skyrim otherwise he would be killed. However, if an Ayleid army entered Skyrim, then it would be a declaration of war between the Ayleids and the Nords. Nazcuss opted for the latter, believing that if he was victorious, he would be hailed as a hero in Ayleid Tamriel for conquering Skyrim.
Thus, Nazcuss travelled south to Miscarcand and petitioned its king to give him the army of Miscarcand. The king agreed and combined with the Knights of the Sixteen, Nazcuss's new army marched into Skyrim. War was now inevitable. Nazcuss marched to the-then Southernmost border of Skyrim in Bruma. Nazcuss arrived at the city and besieged it for eight months, before assaulting and capturing the city.
The second battle was fought in Pale Pass. After Nazcuss left Tamriel, an army under Likig Higg was sent to the Pass in order to halt his advance. The two forces crossed paths near the river Rigga, but as they were several days apart, there was no contact.
Higg left the army to continue on to Tamriel and face the remaining Ayleid forces there, while he returned for Skyrim to face Nazcuss in the mountains near Bruma. Having recently entered Skyrim, Nazcuss was busily trying to recruit the local Orcish tribes when he heard of Higg's return.
Nazcuss decided to face Higg as a show of force, hoping to improve his standing among the local tribes, and immediately set out for the Pohg River. Higg was just as eager for a fight and was then marching northward up the Pohg to meet him. The two scouting forces met near Pale Pass, and both armies made camp.
The next day, both forces set out scouting parties. Nazcuss took the majority of his 6,000 cavalry that remained after crossing the mountains, while Higg took all of his cavalry and a small number of light infantry armed with javelins.
The two forces both met, with the heavy cavalry in both forces soon mixing into a huge melee in the centre. Nazcuss had kept his lighter High Elf cavalry on the flanks however, and soon ordered them to attack the flanks of the Nordic skirmish line. The line collapsed and the Nords disengaged and fled for their camp.
The immediate outcome of the battle itself was trivial, with both forces suffering only minor setbacks and the main force of each army remained intact and combat-effective.
Nevertheless, due to Skyrim’s defeat at Pale Pass, the Orcs were encouraged to join the Ayleid cause. Soon all Southern Skyrim was unofficially allied with Nazcuss and both Orcish and Nordic troops soon bolstered his army back to 40,000 men.
Nazcuss’s army, significantly reinforced, now stood poised to invade Skyrim in earnest. Higg, injured in the battle, retreated across the Tregg River with his army still intact, and encamped at the town of Plaphg to await reinforcements from another general, Agga Ulis. The result would be the Battle of the Tregg.
The war's thrid battle was fought at the river Tregg. The winter of that year was particularly cold and snowy. Higg was still recovering from his wounds but Ulis was spoiling for a fight. Eager to come to blows with Nazcuss before Higg could recover and assume command, Ulis took measures looking for a general engagement, disregarding Higg's caution to beware of Nazcuss. Unfortunately for Ulis, Nazcuss was aware of this, and prepared a plan to take advantage of Ulis's impetuosity. Nazcuss's force was camped across the cold and swollen Tregg River. He had noticed a place between the two camps, flat and treeless, but well adapted for an ambush, as it was traversed by a water-course with steep banks, densely overgrown with brambles and other thorny plants, and here he proposed to lay a stratagem to surprise the enemy. Nazcuss, having ascertained by the use of several Dark Brotherhood spies the whereabouts of his opponents, which he had deemed essential, sent a chosen detachment of 1,000 light infantry and 1,000 Altmer cavalry under the command of his younger brother Magda, to conceal themselves in the underbush among the streambeds along the Tregg under the cover of night, and prepare an ambush for the Nords. Then, on the following morning, he sent his cavalry beyond the Tregg to harass the nearby Nord camp and retreat, so as to lure the Nords into a position from which Magda’s hidden detachment could strike at the opportune moment.
No sooner had the Ayleid cavalrymen arrived in the vicinity of the Nord camp than Ulis sent out his own cavalry to drive them off, and shortly afterwards recklessly sent towards battle his entire army of 36,000 Nordic infantry, 4,000 allied cavalry, and 3,000 Orcs. The day was raw, snow was falling, the Nords had not yet eaten their morning meal, and by the time the legions had crossed the Tregg fords, the men were exceedingly tired and chilled. The Ayleids on the other hand, had fed themselves well, and anointed themselves in oil before their campfires. Nazcuss now arranged his army on a field of his own choosing. He positioned 1,000 light infantry as a skirmishing line, and behind them, he placed the main battle line of 20,000 infantry of elvish mercenary infantry, with 10,000 light shock cavalry and some fifteen elephants split between the two flanks. Ulis arranged his army in the standard Nord three-line formation, throwing out the skirmish infantry to the front, and placing the cavalry on the flanks, while the Orcish warriors, who were allied to Skyrim, were placed on the left of the army.
The light infantry screen first clashed, but the Nords performed poorly and they were withdrawn. After the Nords retired through the gaps in their line, the Youngers and Warriors (heavy-armed infantry) took their place and engaged in a struggle with their opponents. As the opposing heavy infantry remained locked in a severe hand-to-hand struggle, the Ayleid cavalry and elephants attacked the Nord cavalry, whom they greatly outnumbered. Gradually, the Nord cavalry wings were pushed farther and farther back, leaving their infantry, whom they intended to protect, more and more exposed. Meanwhile, Nazcuss had dispatched forward all his war elephants to attack the Orcish allies on the extreme Nord left, who, having never seen such creatures before, were quickly demoralized and retreated. After the Nord cavalry had been driven off the field, the Ayleid cavalry fell savagely on the unprotected flanks of the Nord infantry, hindering them from dealing with the enemy foot soldiers who faced them. At the same time, Magda’s hidden force emerged from the ambush and fell upon the rear of the hard-pressed Nord infantry. With their morale already sapped by hunger and fatigue, the Nords broke under this fresh onslaught and then finally collapsed under intense pressure.
What had once been a line of determined fighting soldiers became a mob of helpless men, whose only remaining strength was in their legs. Thousands were cut down on the spot and trampled by elephants, and many more drowned attempting to cross the river to safety. Trapped in between Nazcuss’s forces, the Nords were quickly routed, losing more than a third of their forces. The vanguard of Ulis's centre had a more fortunate fate. Having been forced to advance by pressure from the rear, the Nords in the centre actually defeated the troops opposing them, and managed to break through the Ayleid line, advancing so far that they became separated from their wings. However, seeing that both their flanks had been driven from the field, these men retired in good order to the nearby town of Plaphg. This resulted in Nazcuss’s first great victory over the Nords.
The Nords, greatly alarmed and dismayed by Ulis’s defeat at Tregg, immediately made plans to counter the new threat from the south. Ulis returned to Skyrim. The Royal Court commissioned Dregg Killi to replace Hegg and take command of his army, while Falg Ukkug was appointed to lead what remained of Ulis’s army. Since both armies had been weakened by the defeat at Tregg, four new armies were raised. These new forces, together with the remains of the former army, were divided between the two generals. After the battles of Pale Pass and Tregg, Ukkug's army turned south to prepare a defense near Skyra itself. Nazcuss immediately followed, but marched faster and soon passed the Nord army. Ukugg was forced to increase the speed of his march in order to bring Nazcuss to battle before reaching the city. Another force under Killi was due to join Ukugg.
Before this could happen, Nazcuss lured Ukugg's force into a pitched battle, by devastating the area Ukugg had been sent to protect. Nazcuss calculated that he could draw out Ukugg into battle and that no sooner had he left the neighborhood of Faesulg, and, advancing a short way beyond the Nordic camp, made a raid upon the neighboring country, then Ukugg became excited, and enraged at the idea that he was despised by the enemy: and as the devastation of the country went on, and he saw from the smoke that rose in every direction that the work of destruction was proceeding, he could not patiently endure the sight. At the same time, Nazcuss tried to sever the allegiance of Skyrim’s allies, by proving that Skyrim was powerless to protect them. However, Ukugg remained passively encamped at Arreg. Unable to goad Ukugg into battle, Nazcuss marched boldly around his opponent’s left flank and effectively cut Ukugg off from Skyra. Still, Ukugg stubbornly kept his army in camp. Nazcuss decided to march on Apulik, hoping that Ukugg might follow him to a battlefield of his own choosing.
Ukugg, eager to exact revenge for the devastation of the countryside, and facing increasing political criticism from Skyra, finally marched against Nazcuss. Ukugg, like Ulis, was impetuous, over-confident and lacked self-control. His advisors suggested that he send only a cavalry detachment to harass the Ayleids and prevent them from laying waste to any more of the country, while reserving his main force until the other general, Killi, arrived with his army. However, it proved impossible to argue with the rash Ukugg. Though every other person in the council advised safe rather than showy measures, urging that he should wait for his colleague, in order that joining their armies, they might carry on the war with united courage and counsels ... Ukugg, in a fury ... gave out the signal for marching for battle.
As Nazcuss passed Lake Trasill, he came to a place very suitable for an ambush, and hearing that Ukugg had broken camp and was pursuing him, made preparations for the impending battle. To the north was a series of heavily forested hills where the Malpassog Road passed along the north side of Lake Trasill. Along the hill-bordered skirts of the lake, Nazcuss camped where he was in full view of anyone entering the northern defile, and spent the night arranging his troops for battle. Below the camp, he placed his heavy infantry (Orcs, Nords, and Redguards) upon a slight elevation. Here, they had ample ground from which they could charge down upon the head of the Nord column on the left flank, when it should reach the position. His cavalry and Orcish infantry were concealed in the hills in the depth of the wooded valley from which the Nords would first enter, so that they could quickly sally out and close the entrance, blocking the retreat route of the Nords. Then he posted his light troops at intervals along the height overlooking the plain, with orders to keep well hidden in the woods until signaled to attack. In addition, the night before the battle commenced, Nazcuss ordered his men to light campfires on the hills of Tuoroph, at a considerable distance, in order to convince the Nords that his forces were further away than they actually were.
The next morning, the Nordic troops marched eastward along the road running near the northern edge of the lake. Eager for battle, Ukugg pushed his men hard and hurried up the column in the rear. Nazcuss then sent a small skirmish force to draw the vanguard away from the front of the line, in order to split the Nordic forces. Once all the Nords had at last marched through the foggy, narrow defile and entered the plains skirting the lake, trumpets were blown, signaling the general attack.
The Ayleid cavalry and infantry swept down from their concealed positions in the surrounding hills, blocked the road and engaged the unsuspecting Nords from three sides. Surprised and outmanoeuvred, the Nords did not have time to draw up in battle array, and were forced to fight a desperate hand-to-hand battle in open order. The Nords were quickly split into three parts. The westernmost was attacked by the Ayleid cavalry and forced into the lake, leaving the other two groups with no way to retreat. The centre, including Ukugg, stood its ground, but was cut down by Nazcuss's Orcs after three hours of heavy combat.
In less than four hours, the Nordic army was annihilated. The vanguard saw little combat and, once the disaster to their rear became obvious, hacked their way through the skirmishers and out of the forest. Only about 6,000 men escaped the slaughter, under the cover of the fog, only to be captured by Maharbal the Commander the following day. Maharbal promised safe passage if they surrendered their weapons and armour, but Nazcuss had them sold into slavery irrespective of the promise made. Of the remaining 30,000, half were either killed in battle or drowned while trying to escape into the lake (including Ukugg himself who was slain by the Orc, Ducaron-gro-Bolmog). 10,000 were said to have managed to make their way back to Skyra by various means, the rest were captured. Nazcuss's losses, on the other hand, were 2,500. However, the disaster for Skyrim did not end there. Within a day or two, a reinforcement force of 4,000 under Gaiug Cetruk was intercepted and destroyed.
In the spring, Nazcuss took the initiative and seized the large supply depot at Cannak in the Apulig plain. He thus placed himself between the Nords and their crucial source of supply. The capture of Cannae caused great commotion in the Nord army; for it was not only the loss of the place and the stores in it that distressed them, but the fact that it commanded the surrounding district. The generals, resolving to confront Nazcuss, marched southward in search of the Ayleid general. After two days’ march, they found him on the left bank of the Afidug River and encamped six miles (10 km) away.
An Ayleid officer named Gisa commented on how much larger the Nord army was. Nazcuss replied, "Another thing that has escaped your notice, Gisa, is even more amazing—that although there are so many of them, there is not one among them called Gisa."
Vatag, who was in command on the first day, was a man of reckless nature and hubris, and was determined to defeat Nazcuss. While the Nords were approaching Cannak, a small portion of Nazcuss's forces ambushed the Nord army. Vatag successfully repelled the Ayleid attack and continued on his way to Cannak. This victory, though essentially a mere skirmish with no lasting strategic value, greatly bolstered confidence in the Nord army, perhaps to overconfidence on Vatag's part. Paig, however, was opposed to the engagement as it was taking shape. Unlike Vatag, he was prudent and cautious, and he believed it was foolish to fight on open ground, despite the Nords' numerical strength. This was especially true since Nazcuss held the advantage in cavalry (both in quality and in numerical terms). Despite these misgivings, Paig thought it unwise to withdraw the army after the initial success, and camped two-thirds of the army east of the Afidug River, sending the remainder of his men to fortify a position on the opposite side. The purpose of this second camp was to cover the foraging parties from the main camp and harass those of the enemy.
The two armies stayed in their respective locations for two days. During the second of these two days, Nazcuss, well aware that Vatag would be in command the following day, left his camp and offered battle. Paig, however, refused. When his request was rejected, Nazcuss, recognizing the importance of the Afidug's water to the Nord troops, sent his cavalry to the smaller Nord camp to harass water-bearing soldiers that were found outside the camp fortifications. Nazcuss's cavalry boldly rode up to the edge of the Nord encampment, causing havoc and thoroughly disrupting the supply of water to the Nordic camp.
The combined forces of the two Nord generals totaled 75,000 infantry, 2,400 Nord cavalry and 4,000 allied horse (involved in the actual battle) and, in the two fortified camps, 2,600 heavily-armed men, 7,400 lightly-armed men (a total of 10,000), so that the total strength the Nords brought to the field amounted to approximately 86,400 men. Opposing them was an Ayleid army composed of roughly 27,000 heavy infantry, 6,000 light infantry, and 8,000 cavalry in the battle itself, irrespective of detachments. The Ayleid army was a combination of warriors from numerous regions. Along with the core of 8,000 Ayleids, fought 8,000 Redguards, 16,000 Orcs (8,000 were left at camp the day of battle) and an unknown number of Nordic Infantry. Nazcuss's cavalry also came from diverse backgrounds. He commanded 4,000 Altmer, 2,000 Bosmer, 4,000 Orcish and 450 Knights of the Sixteen cavalry. Finally, Nazcuss had around 8,000 skirmishers consisting of Redguard slingers and mixed nationality spearmen. All of these specific groups brought their respective strengths to the battle. The uniting factor for the Ayleid army was the personal tie each group had with Nazcuss.
Skrim's forces used traditional Nord equipment including javelin and battle-axe as weapons as well as traditional helmets, shields, and body armor. On the other hand, the Ayleid army used a variety of equipment. Redguards fought with swords suited for cutting and thrusting, javelins, and incendiary spears. For defense Redguard warriors carried large oval shields. The Orcs on the other hand carried long slashing swords and small but sturdy oval shields. The heavy Ayleid cavalry carried two javelins and a curved slashing sword with a heavy shield for protection. Altmer, being light cavalry, used no armor but carried a small shield, javelins, and a sword. Skirmishers acting as light infantry carried either slings or spears. The Redguard slingers, who were famous for their accuracy, carried short, medium, and long slings used to throw stones—they may have had a small shield strapped to their arms.
The equipment of the Dunmer line infantry consisted of short stabbing spears and equipment taken from the Nords in previous battles.
The conventional deployment for armies of the time was to place infantry in the center and deploy the cavalry in two flanking "wings". The Nords followed this convention fairly closely, but chose extra depth (by stacking their maniples), rather than breadth for their infantry line, hoping to use this concentration of forces to quickly break through the center of Nazcuss's line. Vatag knew how the Nordic infantry had managed to penetrate Nazcuss's center during the Battle of the Tregg, and he planned to recreate this on an even greater scale. The Warriors were stationed immediately behind the Youngers, ready to push forward at first contact to ensure the Nords presented a unified front. The maniples were nearer each other, or the intervals were decreased… and the maniples showed more depth than front. Even though they outnumbered the Ayleids, this depth-oriented deployment meant that the Nord lines had a front of roughly equal size to their numerically inferior opponents.
To Vatag, Nazcuss seemed to have little room to maneuver and no means of retreat as he was deployed with the Afidug River to his rear. Vatag believed that when pressed hard by the Nords' superior numbers, the Ayleids would fall back onto the river and, with no room to manoeuver, would be cut down in panic. Bearing in mind that Nazcuss's two previous victories had been largely decided by his trickery and ruse, Vatag had sought an open battlefield. The field at Cannak was indeed clear, with no possibility of hidden troops being brought to bear as an ambush.
Nazcuss, on the other hand, had deployed his forces based on the particular fighting qualities of each unit, taking into consideration both their strengths and weaknesses in devising his strategy. He placed his Orcs, Redguards and Nords in the middle, alternating the ethnic composition across the front line. Nazcuss's infantry from Tamriel was positioned on the wings at the very edge of his infantry line. These infantry were expertly battle-hardened, remained cohesive, and would attack the Nord flanks.
Maharbal led the Redguard and Knight cavalry on the left of the Ayleid army. Maharbal was given about 6,500 cavalry, and Nazca had 3,500 elves on the right.
Nazcuss intended that his cavalry, comprising mainly medium Redguard cavalry and elvish light horse, and positioned on the flanks, defeat the weaker Nord cavalry, and swing around to attack the Nord infantry from the rear as it pressed upon Nazcuss's weakened center. His veteran Ayleid troops would then press in from the flanks at the crucial moment, and encircle the overextended Nord army.
Hannibal was unworried about his position against the Afidug River; in fact, it played a major factor in his strategy. By anchoring his army on the river, Nazcuss prevented one of his flanks from being overlapped by the more numerous Nords. The Nords were in front of the hill leading to Cannak and hemmed in on their right flank by the Afidug River, so that their left flank was the only viable means of retreat. In addition, the Ayleid forces had manoeuvred so that the Nords would face east. Not only would the morning sunlight shine on the Nords, but also the southeasterly winds would blow snow into their faces as they approached the battlefield. Nazcuss's unique deployment of his army, based on his perception of the terrain and understanding of the capabilities of his troops, proved decisive.
As the armies advanced on one another, Nazcuss gradually extended the center of his line. After thus drawing up his whole army in a straight line, he took the central companies of Redguards and Nords and advanced with them, keeping the rest of them in contact with these companies, but gradually falling off, so as to produce a crescent-shaped formation, the line of the flanking companies growing thinner as it was prolonged, his object being to employ the Ayleids as a reserve force and to begin the action with the Redguards and Nords. The weak Ayleid center was deployed in a crescent, curving out toward the Nords in the middle with the Ayleid troops on their flanks in echelon formation. The purpose of this formation was to break the forward momentum of the Nord infantry, and delay its advance before other developments allowed Nazcuss to deploy his Ayleid infantry most effectively. However, some historians later called this account fanciful, and claimed that it represented either the natural curvature that occurs when a broad front of infantry marches forward, or the bending back of the Ayleid center from the shock action of meeting the heavily massed Nord center. Most historians believed that Nazcuss deliberately had his forces curve back to draw the Nord soldiers in and then to cut them off and slaughter them.
When the battle was joined, the cavalry engaged in a fierce exchange on the flanks. When the Redguard and Nord horses on the left wing came into collision with the Nord cavalry, the struggle that ensued was truly barbaric. Here, the Ayleid cavalry quickly overpowered the inferior Nords on the right flank and routed them. A portion of the Ayleid cavalry then detached itself from the Ayleid left flank and made a wide circling pivot to the Nord right-flank, where it fell upon the rear of the Nord cavalry. The Nord cavalry was immediately dispersed as the Ayleids fell upon them and began cutting them down mercilessly.
While the Ayleids were in the process of defeating the Nord cavalry, the mass of infantry on both sides advanced towards each other in the center of the field. As the Nords advanced, the wind from the East blew snow in their faces and obscured their vision. While the wind itself was not a major factor, the snow upheavel that both armies created would have been potentially debilitating to sight. Although the snow made sight difficult, troops would still have been able to see others in the vicinity. The snow, however, was not the only psychological factor involved in battle. Because of the somewhat distant battle location, both sides were forced to fight on little sleep. The Nords faced another disadvantage caused by lack of proper hydration due to Nazcuss's attack on the Nordic encampment during the previous day. Furthermore, the massive number of troops would have led to an overwhelming amount of background noise. All of these psychological factors made battle especially difficult for the infantrymen.
Nazcuss stood with his men in the weak center and held them to a controlled retreat. The crescent of Redguard and Orcish troops buckled inwards as they gradually withdrew. Knowing the superiority of the Nordic infantry, Nazcuss had instructed his infantry to withdraw deliberately, thus creating an even tighter semicircle around the attacking Nord forces. By doing so, he had turned the strength of the Nordic infantry into a weakness. Furthermore, while the front ranks were gradually advancing forward, the bulk of the Nordic troops began to lose their cohesion, as they began crowding themselves into the growing gap. Soon they were compacted together so closely that they had little space to wield their weapons. In pressing so far forward in their desire to destroy the retreating and collapsing line of Redguard and Orc troops, the Nords had ignored (possibly due to the snow previously mentioned) the Ayleid troops that stood uncommitted on the projecting ends of this now reversed-crescent. This also gave the Ayleid cavalry time to drive the Nord cavalry off on both flanks and attack the Nord center in the rear. The Nord infantry, now stripped of both its flanks, formed a wedge that drove deeper and deeper into the Ayleid semicircle, driving itself into an alley that was formed by the Ayleid Infantry stationed at the echelons. At this decisive point, Nazcuss ordered his Ayleid Infantry to turn inwards and advance against the Nord flanks, creating an encirclement of the Nord infantry in one of the earliest known examples of the pincer movement.
When the Ayleid cavalry attacked, the Nords in the rear, and the Ayleid flanking echelons had assailed them on their right and left, the advance of the Nord infantry was brought to an abrupt halt. The trapped Nords were enclosed in a pocket with no means of escape. The Ayleids created a wall and began destroying the entrapped Nords as discussed earlier. As their outer ranks were continually cut down, and the survivors forced to pull back and huddle together, they were finally all killed where they stood.
Recognizing that his ploy had resulted in near-total victory and still needing to consolidate his gains and take only those few prisoners who would be willing to genuinely defect, Nazcuss ordered his men to speedily cut the hamstrings of surviving enemies and move onto the next available Nord, and then later in the day—when there was no more able-bodied resistance—to butcher the lamed Nords at their leisure.
So many thousands of Nords were lying … Some, whom their wounds, pinched by the morning cold, had roused, as they were rising up, covered with blood, from the midst of the heaps of slain, were overpowered by the enemy. Some were found with their heads plunged into the earth, which they had excavated; having thus, as it appeared, made pits for themselves, and having suffocated themselves. Nearly six hundred Nords were slaughtered each minute until darkness brought an end to the bloodletting. Only 14,000 Nord troops managed to escape (most of whom had cut their way through to the nearby town of Canug).
Of the Nord and allied infantry, 70,000 were killed, 10,000 captured, and 3,000 survived. Of the 6,000 Nord and allied cavalry, only 370 survived.
Later Imperial historians all largely followed these figures. Appian gives 50,000 killed and "a great many" taken prisoner. Saeren agrees, "50,000 Nord fell in that battle... 4,000 were taken alive". Quintilius: "60,000 men were slain by Nazcuss at Cannak". Eutrop: "20 officers of high rank, 30 coutiers, and 300 hundred others of noble descent, were taken or slain, as well as 40,000 foot-soldiers, and 3,500 horses".
Nazcuss's losses were about 8,000 of his bravest and best men.