Battle! (Prelude)Submitted by ridiculous at 2010-02-09 09:40:03 EST
Rating: 2.0 on 20 ratings (20 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
Sir Perth, Knight Commander of the Kings 2nd horde stood upon the summit of the tallest hill over the field. He took a deep breath of the foggy predawn air and looked at the swirling wall of mist hanging down the field and just before the woods. Today would be a glorious day.
Mordarren, Lance Commander of the Kings Horse finished ascending the hill and approached his lord.
“Good morning, Commander.”
“Death smiles at you.” Perth replied with the Horde’s motto.
“Death smiles at all of us.” Mordarren completed. “Any sign of Baraccus?”
“No, but he is out there.” The Knight Commander shifted his footing causing the mail of his coif to rustle across the emblem of his heraldry, embossed on his breastplate.
“That is disappointing.” The other remarked.
“To be honest I would be terribly disappointed if I could see any trace of him, or his men. A schoolmasters pride I suppose.” Half a smile crept on to Sir Perth’s face. Mordarren answered with a grunt of disapproval before countering.
“I just hope that pride doesn’t prevent you from… executing … your duty.”
Perth laughed a loud and merry sound that carried down the hillside to his men, some waking, others sharpening swords and readying arms for the day. “You need not worry that, old man.”
It was Mordarren’s turn to laugh. “Who are you calling old? As I remember it you were the one who encouraged me to take The Earl Brisdane’s horse for a ride so you could steal away with The Earls daughter, The Lady Chaste. Or was she… Not so chaste?”
Perth laughed again as he turned to his old friend and threw a few feigned swings at his armored chest. “Churl - I’ll have you to the leeches for that!”
The men below looked to the hillside and watched their commander’s dance about one another eventually grappling, falling and rolling down the hillside together laughing as if they were boys. While some of the older men shook their heads, a great many men took heart. The men needed courage. There would be blood today, and they knew it.
“They laugh at us… Fools, they’ll not make merry by evening!” Baraccus turned back to the embankment and half slid half jogged to its base where one of his scouts held the reigns of his horse. Mounting as lightly as a man in field plate may, he turned the animal and with a kick to its ribs trotted the beast into the fog. The General started the horse into the wood, ducked under reaching branches and steered the animal around the roots of oaks. He broke through some low shrubs; the twigs cracking under the war horses hooves. He heard a low whistle.
“Hold!” His voice was moderate, but his tone carried authority. The sound of a fist clapping an armored chest let him know the sentry had heard. He rode on.
Baraccus entered the outer reaches of his camp, a page took the reigns and he dismounted calling for his lieutenants to be brought together. The camp was a cold one, light discipline in effect he hadn’t allowed the men a warm supper and knew they did not like the fact. He smiled thinking that they would like it considerably less if one of them voiced complaint.
Baraccus strode into his command tent, removed his gauntlets and set them on the table. Reaching into a fire pot he lit a taper from the coals within and then lit the tallow candle his maps were arrayed around. Studying them intently he waited for his lieutenants. Bromere was the first to arrive.
“What news m’lord?”
Baraccus raised a hand demanding silence, studying the map a moment longer he spoke: “They are in spirit for battle. They must know we are here but keep their sentries close and I think, did not dispatch scouts.”
“No scouts?” Baraccus could hear the confusion in his voice.
The General did not look up. “They knew it would be a wasted effort to scout us in our own country. More so, in the fog.”
Bromere nodded to himself and stepped closer to the maps examining them intently. Baraccus had no doubt this was to his benefit, he was certain Bromere was unable to decipher anything more than bunches of lines on a parchment. The General would have had him killed for the farce but Bromere had a natural charisma and was fearsome in battle. As such, he was tolerated.
“Bromere, seek ye Graegor and Owen and bring them in haste.” His patience, both with waiting and with Bromere, was waning. Baraccus shook his head as Bromere exited the pavilion.
“You summoned m’lord?” Graegor entered the tent, stood at attention and clapped his fist to his chest.
Baraccus, still distracted by the maps before him, mumbled “Sappers…”
“M’lord?” his voice was uneven. He was clearly intimidated being in proximity to the General.
“The sappers, have they prepared the field?” Baraccus snapped.
Realization came to Graegor in a rush and he quickly stammered his reply. “M’lord… They have worked all night but have not completed the tunnels as of yet… Soon m’lord. Very soon.”
Baraccus’ voice was low and filled with menace. “Tell them that if they want to see another day they will finish in time!”
“It will be done.” Graegor saluted and was gone as Owen entered.
“I am surrounded by fools!” Baraccus punctuated his rage by slamming his fist on the table.
“No one could live up to your expectations m’lord.”
“What?!” Baraccus roared, his hand moving to the dagger at his belt.
Owen smiled and offered. “It is only that your brilliance overshadows us all, m’lord.”
Baraccus was not amused. “Still that forked tongue of yours, lest I remove it from you… Report!”
“Yes, M’lord.” The smile persisted. “The men are prepared. The spikes and deadfalls have been prepared throughout the wood and cleverly disguised. I should think it will be to your satisfaction.”
“ Nothing will be to my satisfaction until I have Perth’s shield…”