24-30 Imbolc, 2020au
The flight from Iolaire over the next few days was stressful and perilous, as the Bordermen made their way through the Razorbacks, trying to get back to the safety of Brigand’s Rest. They spent their time pressing forward, hunting small game that the cooked over tempered fires to avoid detection. They also managed to heal in this time, and Arthur’s more grievous wounds were finally behind him.
It was during this time in the Razorbacks that word came from Laylah. Speaking through the Treskeggmal Staff they learned that Whitemane was spinning the assault on Iolaire, and other scattered settlements, as the work of Wardruna raiders. She told them of attacks in the Duchy of Wolfe, and of those closer to the Rest, such as an assault on Mareston. She feared that Martial Law was imminent.
With but slivers of Delarius and Salazar overhead, on the 30th they entered Grimnoir Wood, a copse of ancient pines that signaled they had left the Razorbacks and into Morgan lands. Their relief was short lived.
Hakmet, with the aid of his wizard’s glass, espied a troupe of Northmen encamped just off road, in the old ruins of Silverton. Comprised of a crumbled stair and an old, razed inn, the town was long gone and the former foundations mostly overgrown, but there was no mistaking the signs of occupancy. The inn was aglow with a fire in its hearth, the light rising up into the nightsky as the tavern’s roof was long gone.
Taking great care, they crossed the road under cover of darkness, leaving Hakmet in the wood with their mounts. Byron and Togo positioned themselves outside the inn entrance, while Arthur and Edmund searched an attached storage room. Edmund found a secret panel that let them into a closet within the tavern, and between their two positions, the Bordermen were able to overhear sinister voices within.
The men held up in the ruined inn appeared to be Somerforts, commanding troops that were disguised as Northmen from Wardruna. The debate, between a Somerfort officer and a Mithraos Priest, concerned the officer’s distrust of their young king’s martial skills, fearing the regent’s immaturity was governing their policies. The Priest assured him that the king was being controlled by competent and well-placed advisors.
Suddenly a voice called out — approaching from the Northmen camp was a Somerfort nobleman, who had caught sight of Byron and his wolf. This sparked a flurry of activity as the noble called out for reinforcements, and the camp mobilized quickly.
Fighting their way back to their horses, Hakmet and the Bordermen attempted to flee north, through a throng of warriors on foot. Crossbowmen took out Arthur and Hakmet’s horses, and severely wounded Byron’s, but he was able to gather up the Crescentian and push onward. Edmund swept in and retrieved Hawkmoor, and they raced onward, trying to escape the wave of footmen that had tried to bar their path.
On the open road, pressing as hard as they could, they soon realized a small team of mounted knights were on their trail and would soon overtake them. They surveyed their surroundings and opted to cross Red Rogue River, hoping it would deter their heavily armored pursuers.
They chose to wade across at Traitor’s Rock, an area surrounded by decent sized boulders where the ground was littered with the bones of executed men, alone skeleton still impaled on what was known in Morgan as a Snitch Cross. After a rough crossing, in which Edmund’s Brandy was nearly swept away, the Bordermen prepared for the hard riding knights that were bearing down on them from the opposite side of the river.
to be continued