“Knights of the Morning Star”
31 Imbolc, 2020au
Darkness fell hard on the Bordermen as they took cover on the north bank of the Red Rogue River, across from Traitor’s Rock, where six Knights of the Morning Star, House Somerfort’s premier military order of cavalrymen, dismounted and prepared camp. With but the slimmest slivers of Enochia’s moons visible, it was near impossible to do more, proven overly so as the Bordermen stumbled about in the dark, anxious to make some progress, but realizing the night would not allow it.
They reported to Laylah via the Treskeggmal Staff, but their night was further hampered when Togo detected encroaching predators, drawn by the smell of blood gushing from America, Byron’s severely wounded mount. Two mountain lions crept in, one drawing Togo away as the other made for the horse. Arthur made an amazing shot, near blind, wounding the big cat. America bolted, and the cat chased after. As the mountain lion took the frightened stallion down, the horse caught the cat with a hoof and both fell dead to the earth, even as Togo tore the throat out of the other cat.
The Bordermen slept uneasily that night, with enemies the breadth of the Red Rogue away, and the knowledge that they were now on foot save for a single mare, Edmund’s Brandi. As dawn began to break, on the morning of Valorblôt, the first joust of spring, the Bordermen rose and began to make their way back across the river, intent on a narrow stair from which they hoped to better defend against the crush of Somerfort forces.
But Somerfort was stirring too. Over night, their numbers were bolstered by Somerfort Men-at-Arms, bowmen from House Forrest, and a priest of Mythraos, who parted the waters and allowed the better part of their company to pass, even as a smaller contingent crossed closer to where the Bordermen were making their way to the southern bank.
It became a mad dash as arrows and bolts were exchanged, as Hakmet and the Bordermen made the stair, but the swarm of Somerfort seemed relentless and oppressive. In the end, they found themselves on the high plain, with footmen climbing after them and a mounted contingent of the Knights of the Morning Star bearing down on them.
Edmund, astride Brandi, prepared his great spear. This is what he had trained his whole life for, but never with these sort of odds. Arthur and Hakmet leveled their crossbows as the foe galloped toward them. Byron sent a wicked shaft that buried itself in the lead warhorse. And still they came.
Then, the sound of a horn cut through the clamor, as thundering hooves swept up behind them. Riders from House Mark, Morgan bannermen, swept up behind them, forming up with Edmund. While still outnumbered greatly, the Bordermen felt far less alone.
“The banners have been called,” Sir Garrett Mark barked to the Bordermen from his Morgan steed. “We are to wage war. Hawkmoor and Wolfe have declared independence.”
As the Morning Stars pulled up, reforming at the sight of the Marks taking the field, the Morgan Knight added, “Hopefully they don’t know that yet.”
to be continued