[RP Episode] A Brush on the Border


#1

“nodro.”

A grey tide moved silently through the trees.

“tapro!”

The tide ebbed and flowed in the forests, swaying back and forth.

“MAHTA!”

The tide flowed on.


Tramping along a dusty road, that cut through the forest, was a column of armed folk. Without exception mounted, the group was tired, but wary. They were trotting along path that ran through the center of a small valley, between two large spurs of rock that jotted out from the Iron Mountains that loomed overhead.

Astride a massive destrier, covered in white and yellow trappings, a steel-plated warrior rode. A long ashen lance was in his hand, a shield upon his arm, and a sword lay in a scabbard hanging from his saddlebow. Emblazoned upon his shield was a badger. He wore a full helm, but the visor was open to reveal an older face, his wizened face lined with care. He turned in the saddle, looking for danger. His eyes widened, and he slammed his visor down, shouting at the same time.

“Alarm! Attack, attack! In the trees!” The column began forming a rough line, facing the trees. Half a dozen arrows whined out of the woods, burying themselves in men and horses. Slashing with their spurs, the line moved forward, drawing together with the knight at the head.

“For the King!”

There was a rush of feet, and the elves were upon them. They were clad in grey, white, and black, wearing steel armor that glinted blue, bore swords, spears, shields, and axes, and leaped through the trees with abandon, shouting their own warcry.

“LACHO CALAD!”


The skirmish didn’t last. The elves jumped to meet the horsemen, yanking them from their saddles or stabbing at mounts with spears. A dozen or so elves fell, dead or wounded, but the ferocity and suddenness of the attack, coupled with the inability of the horsemen to maneuver, handicapped the riders. They fought as best they could, but that wasn’t enough.


Belar turned the body over with his foot. The knight was dead, the remnants of his cloven shield still cling to his left arm where Belar’s axe had smashed through. Belar thought for a moment, shrugged, and bent to to remove his fallen enemy’s helm. He drew a dagger, bent over, and slashed.

Tucking the bloody clump of flesh and hair into his belt, he turned to look around him. The elves were moving from one corpse to another, finishing off the wounded. The surviving mercenaries had fled after a few moments of battle, leaving the knight and his entourage to die alone. They’d died well, though, better than Belar could have hoped.

He whistled. Instantly, the warriors reformed into a rough line, and then at a command from the Belar, they vanished back uphill into the woods. The bodies, of both sides, they left behind.

@Music


#2

A while later in Fordham…

“Destroyed!?” Commander Wilham Quagmire was red in the face. “Preposterous! Outlandish! I don’t believe it!” The knight was berating a nervous soldier who had arrived bringing him the bad news.

“The King is gone for only THREE DAYS, and now the kingdom is going to absolute RUIN!” Sir Wilham paced back and forth in his office, fuming with anger, his puffy white mustache having a seizure as he shouted. He shook his fists in front of him as if he had some elf raider by the collar.

“S-s-sir, if it’s any comfort at all, the v-v-village was untouched by the raiders.” The messenger tried to lighten Wilham’s mood.

“Untouched? UNTOUCHED you say? Did my men remain untouched?” Wilham was screaming. “To hell with these dratted elves and their wargames. Do they steal? NO. They don’t pillage, they don’t burn fields. NO. They just KILL.” The old knight sighed in defeat. The soldier looked scared.

He rested a heavy hand on the young messenger’s shoulder. “It’s not your fault.” The soldier only nodded nervously.

“You are dismissed.” To this the soldier replied eagerly with a “Yes sir!” and left the room in a hurry, happy to leave the commander’s fiery presence.

Sir Wilham sat down at his desk, his bushy eyebrows furrowed. He was deep in thought. With the King gone, it was up to him to take charge of defense of Midland, and if he wanted to take any action against the elves on the Northern Border, he’d have to have the city council’s approval. He shook his head in disgust. The last decision the council had made resulted in hiring mercenaries to fight for the Crown, and Wilham hated mercenaries more than anything. It seemed however that going to the council was a necessary evil today.

As Sir Wilham left the office, he was welcomed with a solemn sight in the barracks courtyard. Five corpses wrapped in white linen lay on a table, prepared for burial. Five only, as the many mercenaries who were with them were buried in the common cemetery. The body of the commanding officer, Sir Krelanor, was wrapped in his family flag, white and red, with an owl in the center. Sir Wilham’s rage gave way to sadness as he passed the bodies, for these men had served for years under the Landshire flag, particularly Sir Krelanor, who had been a dependable captain. He had a wife at home, who didn’t yet even know that her husband had been killed. Sir Wilham continued on toward the castle, He snapped to some of his soldiers. “Inform the members of the city council that we are having an emergency meeting. This elf problem needs some serious addressing.” The soldiers saluted and went their separate ways to summon the members.


#3

An hour later, in the castle council chamber…

“Sir Wilham, what is the meaning of this?” This was the annoyed voice of the mayor, Bradley Butterworth, a large red-haired man with a beer-belly and expensive looking clothing.

“I’m telling you this is an emergency, good sirs.” The knight sat at the head of the table as the regent, in the spot where the King normally sat. “These elves have been more than just pests, they are starting to make moves! Something must be done.”

Bishop Clarence spoke, an elderly man wearing a white monk’s habit. “What do you suppose incites these elves to such wanton violence? Is there no reasoning with them? An honest answer Wilham.”

Wilham sighed. “We haven’t exactly tried diplomacy, but considering they raid us without reason, and fight like savages, I wouldn’t count on being able to start negotiations safely.”

A man with a wide brimmed leather hat spoke up. “Wilham, maybe we should start from the basics. What do we actually know about these elves?”

The knight nodded with approval. “Excellent question, master Sheriff!” Wilham got up from his seat and walked over to the wall, where a huge map of Midland hung. He pointed to the North border. “Here. Here is where they come from. Down from the mountains…” He slid his finger from the mountains to the green plains. “And into the villages and farms below.”

“We have captured some of these elves before, there are a few in the dungeons even now, and they call themselves Angoni.”

“Angoni?” Butterworth interrupted. “What an aptly savage name for a tribe of savages!”

Wilham glowered at him. “Well actually there’s more. My scouts have reported there being many more tribes than just this one. Further north…” He pointed at the general area on the map, unable to reach that high himself. “There are tribes just as numerous and war-like as them.”

“Are they all under one grand poo-bah or something?” Sheriff Stringer asked.

“No actually.” Wilham replied. “They are all independent of one another, but two major tribes seem to be more powerful than the rest. The Angoni, our good friends, and the Sorni, who are their neighbors farther North.”

“A suggestion if I may.” The Sherrif raised his hand.

“Yes Hans?”

Hans looked at everyone in room. “I’m not the military type, but would it make sense to seek out these Sorni, since they aren’t attacking us, and perhaps reason with them?”

Wilham looked at him seriously. “The Sorni are much farther away from us than the Angoni.”

“Yes, yes, I understand, but perhaps it would be worth it, we could…strike a deal?”

“Are you suggesting we turn them against each other?” Wilham raised an eyebrow.

“Well…yes. I suppose I am.”

The other council members were listening attentively. The Sheriff didn’t usually talk much at meetings, but when he did, he always had some unexpected wisdom to impart.

The mayor spoke. “So another trade deal, like the proposition to Chromaros?”

“Yes.” Hans answered.

Sir Wilham spoke to everyone at the table. “I think Master Stringer has proposed a capital idea. However, does anyone have any further suggestions or complaints about this?”

There was some mumbling, but no one else had anything to say.

“Alright then, I say we now further elaborate on this plan, and finalize it today, so we can take action as soon as possible!”

The council ended that day on an unusually happy note, with a diplomatic trip to the Sorni in the works.


The next day a detachment of cavalry was ready at the gates, and Sir Wilham was leading them. The council had considered sending just the sheriff as the diplomat, but considering the elves only seemed to respect the warrior types, Sir Wilham was chosen, against his will, to be the leader of the party.

“Dratted council and their pranks again!” The old knight huffed as he sat in the saddle. “In the end, old Quagmire has to do all the heavy lifting as usual.”

The Sheriff sat mounted on a pony next to him. “Eh Sir Wilham, it’s not all that bad. I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of going myself, but here I am! Somebody has to do it.”

The commander only huffed even more indignantly. The cavalry troupe had no wagons, since they wouldn’t be able to handle the steep and bumpy terrain of the mountains. All their supplies were taken on pack horses and mules. Several oxen were also tied to the rear, presents for the Sorni elves. The group left by the Northern gate of Fordham at a steady pace, so as to not wear themselves out on the long journey ahead of them.

Their journey took them Northwest, to avoid the Angoni lands, and they stayed along the western river until the snow covered northern lands could be seen. The cavalry detachment was large and heavily armed, so no bandits or raiders troubled them along the way. After a week of travelling, signs of civilization were visible: small hamlets, fishing villages and what not.


#4

While the party was not disturbed by any visible foe, their approach had been noted, and passed on. The villages they passed were either empty or smoldering, the hamlets in ruins. The travelers saw no living elves, but the signs of war were everywhere.

After traveling for some time along the western river, they turned due north, heading towards the snow-speckled mountains that towered over the landscape. They came across a muddy road, that looped through a series of passes, vanishing into the mountains themselves. As their journey was heading in that direction anyway, Wilham and his followers began following it.

The ruins of villages vanished completely, built instead beneath the ground in the caves of the mountains, though the Midlanders had no way of knowing so. In unfamiliar territory, they would have been hard pressed in winter, but the largest snows had not yet fallen, and the passes were still relatively clear. The band moved on, pressing farther and farther into Helegeron. But not alone.

Atop a snow-covered ridge overlooking the road, a patch of snow was substantially darker. Suddenly, it moved and shifted, revealing a humanoid form lying beneath it.

The elf raised himself to his knees, kneeling. He wore steel armor beneath his cloak, and a sword was hung upon his belt, alongside a quiver. A bow was slung over his shoulder, the top half of which was covered by his now cast back cowl. He noted the size of the company, species, equipment, and valuables, and slipped back into the wilderness.


#5

Wilham called his men to halt at the sight of the archer. He yelled out trying to get the archer to stop and listen, but to no avail.

So the company moved onward. The muddy road slowly got worse and more treacherous as they entered the mountains. “Are you positive that we’re going the right way?” The Commander asked his scout.

“Yessir, their capitol shouldn’t be much further down this road.”

The Sheriff was eyeing the ruined buildings they kept passing. “Looks like we’re not the only ones with problems. By the looks of it, we could be arriving in the middle of some skirmish.”

“The elves, fighting amongst themselves?” Sir Wilham conjectured. “Doesn’t surprise me at all.”


#6

The road wound back and forth through the mountains, using a series of switchbacks to traverse the steep terrain. It began to snow lightly, covering the freezing mud of the dirt trail in a thin film of white fluff. Wrapping their cloaks and clothes more tightly around them, the Midlanders pushed on.

As they moved, the road cut through a clef between two large hillocks. The snow was beginning to gather in heaps, as this deep in the mountains the snowfall almost never ceased. Moving along through the cleft, the Midland party was partially sheltered from the elements, at the loss of visibility.

As they continued their ride, suddenly the cleft was full of elves.

Tall, their grey cloaks wet and their furs covered in snow, several dozen of them swarmed over the lip of the cleft, and jumped in among the Midlander riders. Horses shied, and the ambassadors struggled to regain control of their steeds, drawing weapons as they did so and shouting curses.

Clad in white armor streaked with blue, helmets adorned with soggy wet white plumes, wielding broad bladed axes and curved swords, longbows and spears, the elves shouted to one another in a lilting tongue with a musical cadence, a few of them laughing. Their shields were long and broad, covering them from knees to neck, and bore a large blue eagle on a white field with wings outstretched.

One of the elves, dressed like the others and with a sword sheathed over his back and another at his belt, shouted out in Common. He wore no helm, his hood cast back and his white hair running down the back and front in three separate strands.

“Who leads here?”


#7

The commander relaxed. They had not come to fight, but to talk.

“That would be me, Sir Wilham at your service.” He spoke louder. “Men, sheathe your weapons.”


#8

“What are you doing here, Knight?” demanded the elf. “You are far from your safe stone walls.”


#9

“We seek the lords of the Sorni, on peaceful terms.” Wilham said to the elf who spoke to them. “If you could only take us to them.”


#10

The elves roared with laughter. Their spokesman joined in before replying. “There are no ‘lords’ of the Sorni, Knight.” His eyes hardened. “And if there were, why would you, a Midland knight, wish to speak to them?”


#11

“Well, if there are no lords, then your leaders, whoever they may be. Is there somewhere warmer we can talk? This snow is getting the better of me.” Wilham shivered slightly as he spoke.


#12

The elves laughed again. “When you state your reasons, I shall take you to the Teranor. As it is, why do you wish to speak to him?


#13

Sheriff Stringer spoke up. “We’ve brought gifts for your king. Food, and four and twenty oxen. Midlands finest breeds.”

Wilham held his hand up, signaling Stringer to stop. “We seek a military alliance. Your southern neighbors have been giving us serious trouble the past few years.”


#14

There was a moment of silence. Then the elves began to laugh again. ”We will take you to him, Knight.” replied the elf, who appeared to be on the verge of once again breaking into gales of laughter. ”Then we shall hear what he will say.” He barked an order. Instantly, the laughing elves dropped their smiles and formed an escort around the party. ”Follow.”


#15

Wilham furrowed his bushy white eyebrows. These Sorni elves seemed to be on edge as if some threat lay just around the corner. Seeing no issue with how they acted, the Midlanders followed the elves without any questions.


#16

The party moved far more briskly; Wilham’s deduction had been correct: the elves were on edge. Despite their laughter, they kept a wary eye on the mountainsides and slabs of stone, and their hands were never from the weapons at their sides. They moved quickly through the snow, pushing aside the drifts with burly strength, clearing a way for the horses. When the cart got stuck, half a dozen warriors quickly ran to the back, and heaved it back on track in a few moments, keeping the group moving much faster than they had before.

After several hours of traveling, they reached the top of the pass, and started down, the Midlanders gazing across a vast ocean of white slopes and grey rock. To the north, a dark green smudge adorned the horizon where a forest of tall pine trees stood, but in all other directions nothing moved. To the ordinary observer, that is.

The elves abruptly swerved to the down a side trail that led away from the main path, running along a series of rocky outcroppings. Then once again without warning, the path plunged down again, dropping to a large cleared area that jutted out from the mountainside.

It was full of elves. Their shelters were made of hide, and staked into the ground with bone and steel. Hundreds of elves were gathered, all armored for battle. Many were sporting rough bandages, pieces of grey cloaks wrapped around burly arms and legs. This was a camp of war.


#17

Sir Wilham leaned over and spoke in a low voice to Stringer. “This isn’t what I was expecting…”

“Me neither.” The sheriff shrugged. “I’d wager they might be dealing with the Angoni as well, or something of the sort.”

The party entered the camp, escorted by the elven scouts. Many a curious glance they received. Many of the elves sitting in the camp gazed with suspicious stares.


#18

The leader of the escorting elves turned to the Midlanders. His warriors vanished into the camp.

“Knight, you and your companion will come with me. Your men will remain here.” He gestered to Wilham and Stringer. “I shall take you to the Teranor.” He began walking swiftly towards the far end of the camp, acting for all the world as if he hadn’t just hiked several miles through snowy mountains. He began to whistle as he walked. The other soldiers gradually lost interest, and returned to their duties and leisure.


#19

He’s a light-hearted fellow. Hmph! Wilham had a confused scowl on his face. Such folly wouldn’t be allowed under my command.

The party moved through the camp till they approached the large tent, where the knights assumed the “teranor” might be.


#20

”Suilad! Macil! Lasto!” The elf switched to his own tongue. ”There’s a few Midlanders up to see you. They want to talk about screwing Belar over.”

There was a muffled response from inside the tent. The original speaker shrugged. ”A hötule asinye í.”
Half a minute passed, and several tall elves wearing heavy armor and furs, scarred beyond belief, exited the tent. One of them looked at the Midlanders, and at the other elf.

”Says he’ll talk inside. Take your guests with you.” They strode off.

Their guide looked back at Wilham. ”Come with me.” He pushed the tent flap aside, and stepped in.