31 Imbolc, 2020au
Just west of Traitor’s Rock, two armies faced one another nervously.
Joining the Bordermen (Arthur Hawkmoor, Byron Fletcher, Edmund Stewart, and their companion, Hakmet ibn Damar) were units sent from House Morgan, led by Sir Garrett Mark. The knight rode at the head of four Outriders, all from House Mark, and followed by ten men-at-arms commanded by young Stanford Morgan.
Their adversaries were co-commanded by Prior Malistar Tull, a priest of Mythraos, and Sir Gaal of House Rastus. Their forces were bolstered by six Knights of the Morning Star, led by Sir Norman Gaines, whom the Bordermen had tussled with before — at the razing of the Winds of Thor. Complimenting the knights were more than a dozen archers and men-at-arms from Houses Rastus, Forrest, Mallory, and Granger.
Riding out to talk terms, it was decided to postpone military engagement to celebrate Valorblôt, the first joust of spring, with a mini tournament. It was decided that Byron Fletcher would battle Sir Kraven Forrest in a feat of archery prowess, Arthur Hawkmoor would cross swords with Sir Gaal Rastus, and Edmund Stewart would enter the list with Sir Norman Gaines, with Prior Malistar Tull serving as Tournament Grandmaster.
A list was hastily built, as was a Ring of Valor, but the archery competition was first on the agenda. Set at three distances, Fletcher took victory at the short range targets, while Forrest took the mid-range, forcing the need for the long shot to break the tie. Fletcher’s arrow struck true, while Forrest’s flight went high, missing the target completely.
Tull was quite amicable in his man’s defeat, praising Fletcher’s prowess. He was awarded a medal of pure silver, and, as tradition dictated, Forrest surrendered his bow, a House Archer longbow with House Lange markings.
Next came the Ring of Valor, where Hawkmoor would face Rastus in a swordfight, the loser determined by he that begged first for quarter. As the combatants began their melee, Hawkmoor flustered his opponent, deftly parrying the more heavily armored fighter and utilizing his riposte advantage. Frustrated, Rastus grappled Hawkmoor, taking him to the ground where both men turned to daggers. Hawkmoor found a gap in the man’s armor, and, unknowingly, dealt a near fatal blow to the knight. Desperate, Rastus’ own attack, while vicious, was nowhere near as ruinous, but drew enough blood as to force Hawkmoor to ask for quarter.
Rejoicing, and with his own “quarter” dying on his lips, Rastus thrust his fist into the air, bellowing his House Motto, “Who Dares Wins!” The knight then collapsed, to be drug off the field by his followers. Removing his armor, a wicked wound into the arm pit was found. It has opened the man up and he was bleeding out fast.
Prior Tull approached the defeated Hawkmoor as Stewart dismounted to go to his compatriot’s side. Tull picked up the Hawkmoor blade that had fallen from Arthur’s grasp during the melee. “A pity to lose such a fine weapon,” Tull said. “You’ll be giving that back,” Hawkmoor growled. Tulls response, “I think not,” was met with a dagger to the man’s throat. The priest fell away, blood gushing from the wound as the crowd erupted in gasps. Hawkmoor grabbed his blade as both encampments retreated to form up. Sir Garrett rode in hot and took up Hawkmoor onto his mount and then joined his unit.
Stewart was livid at Hawkmoor’s attack, but he had no time to act on it, nor did anyone else for that matter, as Sir Norman Gaines rallied the troops, with both commanders, Tull and Rastus, out of commission. He ordered an advance and a short but bloody battle ensued.
Byron let fly an arrow into the retreating command ranks, dropping an arrow into the Prior’s chest. Rastus died soon after the priest, as his men-at-arms were unable to stabilize his wounds. The priest had been the only one skilled in the healing arts.
Sir Kraven Forrest blew the horn of retreat and both forces fell away from the other, regrouping, with Sir Garrett Mark pushing for their beleaguered units to fall back to Saddler’s Wallow, a hard march north of Traitor’s Rock.
While the Bordermen’s allies had suffered more casualties, it was they who had won the day. But at what cost?
to be continued