Hidden 28 days ago Post by VitaVitaAR
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The sky was painted orange. The light played across the clouds, and cast that splash of color along the landscape beneath it. This light stretched the shadows of trees and other objects across the ground, making them seem almost jagged. Quite a large number of these shadows were moving.

The horses's hooves clacked as the hit the ground on a steady rhythm. Due to the large number of them, this created almost a chorus of clopping hooves. At the head of the group was a white mare, a young and sturdy horse clearly well-cared for. On her back was a girl, no older then sixteen, wearing armor with a flowing white and gold cape. Her armor was pristine, cared for with exceptional attention, shining in the light of the sunset. Though she had never been in any serious combat before now, the level of care to her armor would not falter even after doing so. Her hair was blonde, eyes blue, and skin pale. She had a rather intense expression on her face.

Bandit King Jeremiah. That was the name of the man they were riding out against today. He led a band of thieves and criminals, vicious bandits who had pillaged even small villages by this point. They had preyed upon the innocent. They had killed the defenseless to claim their belongings. And their leader had the gall to claim himself a "King". Reports told of how he had cut down soldiers sent to destroy his band. Of how he had sent a dying man back to the capital to tell of how he would ransack it, as well. Of how not even the Iron Rose Knights could stop him.

So, it had been decided it was time to put this to the test. To destroy these vicious and cruel men before they could take more innocent lives. Thaln's soldiers were unable to eliminate Jeremiah, but the legendary Iron Rose Knights...

Fanilly gripped the leather in her hands tightly. They... had to win. She had to prove she could do this, and they had to destroy such cruel, wicked bandits. There was no question of it. The bandit's camp was not far off, not even too distant from the road. The Bandit King's brazen attitude had grown, leading to little fear from his band of criminals at remaining so close.

She looked back over her shoulder.

"It won't be much longer that we will need to proceed on-foot," she said.

The strategy was a simple one. To position themselves around the camp, advance inward, and destroy it. While the bandits were powerful... an attack by the famed Iron Rose Knights when they unprepared could surely eliminate them. Even though she doubted herself... deep down, Fanilly felt that the Bandit King was more of a braggart then a powerful warrior. He had likely exploited whatever advantage he could to take down the soldiers sent to eliminate his band of thieves.

Her knights were prepared, however.

Fanilly could only hope she was as well.

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Hidden 28 days ago Post by Raineh Daze
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Tyaethe Radistirin


The knight's longest serving member looked considerably less prepared for battle than the majority of their assembled host--to the unaware, Tyaethe looked entirely out of place surrounded by the armoured knights; a child sheltering under a pastel-coloured parasol, mounted upon a rather gruff looking pony. The only clue that she belonged lay in the sword strapped to the saddle. But why would she have been armoured up like the others? It was an unpleasant way to travel and the advantage in creating your armour was that it took no time to equip.

It had been quite some time since the knights had been called on to do anything in the way of simple bandit clearance, so she had to wonder what made this man so much more fearsome than your average bandit. Magic? Some sort of experienced knight run amok? Some northern adventurer who thought his luck at prowling in dungeons translated to the ability to oppose an army? Whatever i t was, it didn't matter. The man was as good as dead.

"Dismounting sounds good; don't want any bandits to change job to horse thief when we walk in."
Hidden 28 days ago Post by Asuras
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Forina kept to the front. It was the closest position to leadership in spirit, and though she was no longer the spearhead of a banneret, it felt right to be near the one who did take the position. Forina's horse, the brown-colored stallion Origeld, paused idly beside Fanilly's own white mare. The knightess had a sour look on her face, doubtful of the necessity of their being there. As peace in general had been so enjoyed for years since the War of the Red Flag, it was difficult to believe that someone had risen up in the sanctity powerful enough to easily rout the King's men. Perhaps, she thought, these were the unfortunate remnants of the war, turned to banditry to survive where once their swords had been used lawfully.

Forina spoke up to the captain, her voice stern and composed as her gaze followed out onto the fields.

"Captain, if I might make a suggestion," she began. Forina reigned her horse to a turn, siding up along Fanilly with mere inches between them. Turned to the rest of the group, her eyes bore straight into Fanilly, seeming altogether determined, if perhaps skeptical of the girl.

"We've every reason to believe the King's men were caught off guard, either by trickery or numbers, or a combination of the two. I've confidence any one of us can hold our own against a number of these rats, but I'm cautious of what they may have prepared to meet with our superior skill. Entering their camp is not something I advise we do straight away," Forina advised.

Forina was painfully aware that Fanilly had next to no combat experience leading to this excursion, nor any significant force of established charisma behind her to embolden those serving under her. If they were to find the bandit king and his forces truly testing her ability, Forina wished to see to it that she left the area still alive, rather than buried six feet under after her leader failed to make the grade.

"Spreading out may be a good idea, as was already discussed, so as to ensure any planned entrapment of theirs is reserved for few, rather than many. Be alert for those who require immediate assistance once we enter." Forina's words seemed half meant for Fanilly, and half meant for the Order itself.
Hidden 28 days ago Post by ERode
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"Can't just bombard them from a distance?" Elodie spoke up indolently, her own steed a dappled mare. The Bandits didn't mean much to her, not really. It'd be a mark against every member of the Iron Rose Knights except for herself if they lost here, after all, so chances were that they weren't going to lose here. Her own mixture of woven steel and mithril plate sat nice and comfortably over her skin, while her goggles, tinted to shield from bright light and snug enough to ward off smoke and poison, currently rested on her head.

"Got enough magic people here for it, don't we? Just blow em up and clean up the scraps afterwards. Not like they deserve an honorable death or whatever." They really didn't. Innocents involved children, after all. Those bandits weren't even the type to let orphaned kids go. Elodie wasn't vengeful or righteous by nature, but that particular fact didn't sit well with her at all. "And once they start running, well...that's when y'all cut 'em down."

"Till the fields and reap the harvest, y'know what I'm sayin'?"
Hidden 28 days ago Post by Click This
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Narcissa too belonged to the vanguard, trotting up on her endearingly named and trusted steed, Maple. She kept on the other side of Forina, just behind the Knight Captain. It was partly her own personality and a desire for glory in battle that she kept to the front as much as possible. She had a neutral, if not slightly bored expression on her face, but noticing her red haired cousin move alongside their new captain, she took up the pace and took the other side of Forina. Unlike her, Narcissa was unsurprised by the resurgence of banditry in certain regions; despite peace now being so prevalent, she knew full well that regions that had been depressed by war or sacked by forces on either side did not recover quickly. It was not entirely unlikely that inhabitants of such regions could be compelled into banditry.

Still, she was of like mind of many of the knights, surprised, if not mildly irritated by such a mundane use of the Order. Little glory could be had by crushing small-time bandits, and she was more of the opinion that the Kingdom’s regular troops must have been poorly commanded indeed if they fell to bandits.

And that brought Narcissa quickly to her chief concern on this sortie—the captain herself. She was green—barely still a child—and riding out to lead an entire veteran army of knights, many with commendable battle honors under their belt themselves. The Order had noble beginnings and traditions, she could admit as much, but she still privately questioned the expediency of appointing a knight with so little experience to lead. Narcissa could see her cousin shared the same reservations, although she felt that her chief concerns were over cautious.

In the meantime, the sole artificer in their group spoke up, offering an alternate solution. If Forina’s tactic felt overcautious, Elodie’s felt too chaotic and haphazard. Still, she didn't want to fall here, or risk botching a mundane thing, either.

“Lady Forina, Knight-Captain Fanilly, if I might interject. We have little in the ways of intelligence, so I would offer a suggestion to split off a small reconnaissance party rather than risk an immediate assault.” She glanced back over at Elodie, giving her a frown at her suggestion before turning back to Forina. “This will afford us some time to prepare, and see the lay of the situation. There may be potential hostages or civilians in the camp, so I would not advise a magical bombardment lest any innocents are caught in the crossfire.”
Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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It was a pang of familiarity, all things considered.

Six months ago, he rode out on a similar mission, yet with far less honored company. He wore the same humble and incomplete armor upon his torso, and carried the same stalwart blade upon his back, and his ears, now so used to the din of a clamorous battlefield, were washed over by the same rolling thunder of massed cavalry. He even found himself in a remarkably similar position within the formation, though now a scant bit closer to the front of the center as opposed to the rear.

His amber eyes swept the surrounding area as they galloped on, pulling in the long shadows and flamelike hues of dusk as it fell upon them. That ride was different in this respect— the raid that had brought him to this point in life, to be tasked like this with such storied fellows... it had taken place at dawn. Were he more poetically minded, Gerard believed that he may have pulled some significance out of the difference, like stanzas set to rhyme but carrying dissonant meaning. That which brought a beginning to his knighthood began the day, and now he rode out at the end of one... perhaps he would think something like that.

But he was a simple man from the country, as it were. The earth he had plowed in his youth had offered him much that served a knight— integrity, a strong back, no fear for hard work— but none such appreciation for the arts. As he was now, these things would simply be beyond him, and to read so far into it for an omen without proper understanding would only serve to disquiet a man riding out to battle. It was simple, really. People feared that what they did not know, did not understand, and did not find a clarity in. Such would not help a man with his life on the line in the slightest.

Fortunately, when the wind tossing his short charcoal locks died down and the thunder of cavalry receded, he felt no fear of that nature. A brief flash of a sort of disappointment in how mundane his task was, yes, but in that very same vein, he felt such a way thanks to countless raids like it as a mercenary. The contempt was borne of familiarity, and familiarity meant confidence.

This would be nothing he had not handled before, and that time was with worse training and more questionably equipped comrades.

Suspend with the questions of why make knights do this for now, Sir Segremors told himself, now once again looking ahead to the Captain, and count it a mercy that you aren't being thrown into unfamiliar territory.

She looked back over her shoulder. So young, that one. Scarcely if at all older than he was when he first held a blade, but to her credit, she came from a bit more preparation than "swinging an axe at a wolf in the woods a couple times as a boy" for matters of war. He understood that much. But for all his attempts at understanding...

"It won't be much longer that we will need to proceed on-foot," she said.

Her voice, high and clear, managed to carry out to the line even over the racket of transportation. Fine by him. He was a footsoldier often, before all of this. She hadn't committed any overt tactical blunders yet in his memory, and had Paladin Tyaethe and her two hundred years advising her. Captain Fanilly was new and young, that much was undeniable. It challenged many things he had learned as a sellsword, but who was he to speak upon such matters of Knights?

The Order of the Iron Rose had held its prestige through this method of selecting its new leader for far longer than any of them, save the aforementioned Paladin, had been alive. He could not ignore that, not as easily as he could ignore his misgivings. He remained quiet as others, such as Dame Forina and Artificer Elodie, mulling over their raised concerns and suggestions.

Forina's in particular seemed almost a direct rebuttal to his earlier determinations about their mission— which he did not in the slightest like. The knightess was many things, but she didn't speak without valid point. Not now. His considerations began to shift. Complacency wasn't warranted after all.

"I find it strange that he mentioned this order specifically." he mentioned, more within the undercurrent than the others.

Anyone thinking as simply as to challenge them for the sake of braggadocio wouldn't have given normal forces such trouble. They didn't think far enough ahead. This, in Gerard's mind, had to signify some perceived advantage.

Perhaps they should scou—

Ah. Lady Narcissa seemed to be of like mind. That worked.

He held his tongue, wishing to neither speak out of turn (he was new amongst them) nor flood the young Captain's ears any more than they were already.
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Hidden 28 days ago Post by Psyker Landshark
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He barely managed to resist sighing audibly. How in the hell did the crown's men get routed by bandits and pillagers? Renar had fought with the king's levies in the days when he'd been under a banneret. They weren't that incompetent. Not knights, to be certain. But even militia and men-at-arms could kill well enough when given a sharp weapon and a target that wasn't in full plate.

And speaking of killing...Renar looked briefly towards their new Knight-Captain. Throwing a young girl into the position of leadership simply because she'd happened to be fortunate enough to be born on the full moon wasn't quite to his taste. Certainly, he'd heard tales of the Danbalion girl being skilled with a sword, but damned near everyone here was skilled at arms, with perhaps the exception of their artificer. There were more important qualities that their captain would have to be evaluated on. Could she lead well? Was she an able tactician? Had she ever killed a man before? It wouldn't quite do for their assumed leader to freeze up on her first kill. Not that he couldn't sympathize just a tad. The first kill was always the most difficult. But a leader couldn't afford to have that slow them down.

Pah. It all came down to her having the noblest birth of all. As a bastard, it grated on him. But he'd wait and see. It was too soon to judge, not before witnessing her in the field. And so Renar finally turned his attention to both the Ladies Forina and Narcissa speaking. They'd brought up solid points. Charging in blindly with their full force was beyond foolish, even if the foe before them were mere bandits.

"Lady Narcissa speaks truly." Renar said from his position in the van, his helmet already on his head and his orcish cloak billowing in the breeze. "Best to determine what lays in wait for us first inside the camp. The bandits and their..." He paused from atop his horse, his voice derisive, "...king have already raided several villages. No doubt they would have taken women. The order would never hear the end of it should any prisoners be slain in a bombardment."
Hidden 28 days ago Post by Crimson Paladin
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Fleuri Jodeau


Despite being neither at the front or at the flanks, Fleuri was not difficult to discern among the procession of knights. He rode a few paces behind Narcissa upon a caparisoned stallion, holding his lance upward. Both the caparison on his horse and the pennant upon his lance bore the heraldic symbol of the Jodeau family- a black sun emblem consisting of twelve spokes or rays in between two concentric circles on a white background (derisively referred to by some nobles as the Jodeau Cobweb). This was not a mission where mounted combat would likely come into play, but he preferred to keep a cavalry lance on hand because his sword was of little use on horseback. Perhaps it was also due to his diminished but lingering desire to stand out.

From what he knew about this mission, it was a worthwhile cause to put these bandits and their "king" down. Nobody seemed to know anything about who this Jeremiah fellow was or where he came from, but he was clearly dangerous and murderously ruthless. Judging by the man's ability to organize brigands into a band capable of even defeating Thaln's soldiers, and his admittedly outlandish threats against the kingdom, Fleuri was willing to wager a guess that the man was a veteran of Phoran Cal's rebellion, perhaps a traitorous captain or knight-banneret.

"It won't be much longer that we will need to proceed on-foot," the Knight-Captain ordered.

Fleuri didn't envy Captain Fanilly and the burden of command she bore. To accept command at such a young age, especially after the impression left by her heroic predecessor, was a daunting task. Dame Forina and Dame Narcissa spoke out against rushing in, and suggested instead getting a closer look. On one hand, Fleuri felt, if they were already prepared, blindly attacking could be costly. On the other hand, there was no better way to destroy an enemy's plans than to hit them hard when and where they don't expect it.

He said nothing as he followed behind them. It was not his place to question the Captain's orders. Fanilly may be a child, but Fleuri trusted the in judgment of the goddesses to guide the Iron Roses. In time, with the proper guidance, mostly at the hands of the First and Youngest, Fanilly would hopefully grow into a great captain. For now, she needed the support of her knights in this difficult time.

Fleuri rode up beside Gerard Segremors, a knight who, like himself, was a faithful devotee of Reon, closely connected with Her church.

"Sir Segremors, what do you make of this? This so-called bandit king, I mean." From what Fleuri had heard, Gerard had rubbed shoulders with some arguably dubious folks before coming into the Church of Reon and the Iron Roses, and thus could perhaps offer a unique perspective on this banditry trouble.

@HereComesTheSnow
Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by VitaVitaAR
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It was a little reassuring to Fanilly to hear that the oldest knight in the order approved of her decision. It was made for a simple reason, that riding horseback into a skirmish in a forest was a poor idea. The horses could easily be tripped up by roots, and render the advantage of cavalry instead into a liability. While Fanilly had never participated in a proper battle, at the same time she had tried to do as much research as possible before being appointed. It was part of her training, just as as her training in swordplay.

Just as...

For a few moments, the sudden bombardment of concerns of several of the short blonde's knights suddenly overwhelmed her. The look in Dame Fiora's eyes, too, seemed especially piercing and difficult to prepare for. But she couldn't falter, not before they even set foot in combat. No matter how her heart beat more quickly in her chest, Fanilly had to ensure she did everything she could. To lead her knights triumphantly into battle, and to leave 'King' Jeremiah's bandits dead or captured. The Artificer Elodie's suggestion was a bit of a shocking one. How could they ever bombard the camp knowing that there was even the slightest chance of killing potential prisoners? There were magi among the order, certainly, but simply firing off spells and hoping... there was no way the Iron Rose Knights could ever do such a thing!

Dame Narcissa's suggestion, however, gave her a good point to jump off from.

"Ah, yes, I..." she paused for a moment, trying to gather her thought before speaking, "Yes. After we have dismounted, sending ahead scouts would be wise. While I believe they do not yet know when we are coming, given their success against the King's men I am certain they must have some sort of defenses in place in case of surprise attack."

Fanilly couldn't falter even for a moment.

"I shall deploy, er..." she paused for a moment. Ah, she didn't even yet know the names of every knight... To be fair, it was difficult to know that even if you had been among their number for a long time, given how many knights there were, but as the new Captain this was just something else that made Fanilly feel self-conscious. "... I will ask for those among us who are the most capable of stealthy observation. They will compose our scouting party."

A small part of her considered the fact that this would help her become more aware of the strengths and weaknesses among her knights, at the very least. The forest was growing thicker, it would not be much longer before their horses would have to be left behind in order to proceed.

"... However, a magical bombardment is absolutely out of the question," Fanilly asserted, doing her best to sound commanding, "There's no way we could possibly risk the potential of harming innocent prisoners they may have taken."

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Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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"I don't like it, Sir Jodeau. It doesn't make sense to me at all." Gerard said, offering a respectful nod in greeting to the more tenured knight and fellow Reon devotee as he rode up to his side. "The braggart claims himself 'King of Bandits' and has openly challenged a knightly order with what seems to be full intent to bring us down upon his head."

His words, honest and straightforward, were accompanied by a grimace as he took in the concerns of Sir Renar, a knight he had spent long hours in the Training Grounds alongside. The man's character was one somewhat like his own from what he could tell— a tireless engine of self-refinement, driven by some all-encompassing goal. Gerard hadn't felt it right of him to pry further, but he considered the man's word worth respecting on ethic alone. He was willing, more than most, to color in gray areas of thought. It lead to insights few dared make otherwise.

Perhaps, then, his mercenary background had given him such an image among his fellows.

Well, best not to let Sir Jodeau down.

"Bandits aren't bold people. They're opportunists. Creatures of pragmatism that prey upon safe targets, and they either crumble beneath a decent group of the King's soldiers, or know how to pick their battles. They ought to be cutting and running the moment they pulled off that defense, not literally inviting retribution. Even if we were to ride straight in without regard for casualties, we would certainly crush him just with the difference of troop quality alone. There are too many good knights here for us to not draw out a victory in a simple contest of strength. If he can hole up in that camp well enough, smartly enough, to turn back a full force of trained militia or men-at-arms, he knows full well the kind of fight he has courted."

He met the older Reonite's eyes for a moment. Here was a man who had been raised practically wreathed within their Goddess's light, trained by Her Paladins in combat against the evils of necromancy and educated by Her Priestesses in all manner of subjects. The type of Knight who, despite few personal glories, Gerard saw as exemplary— And he, just as the others, seemed to be at something of a loss.

That man of action.

"Unless they've grown more brazen in half a year, no bandit I know of does this without being quite sure he can handle us. For my money, he has something up his sleeve. I cannot say what it might be, but I can say I agree it to be worth planning for once we know. On that note—"

He rose a hand as he turned again to face the front, and spoke clearly and loudly for the first time in response to Captain Fanilly's stated request.

"Knight-Captain, I would volunteer for that job. It'd for once prove fortunate that I am not so completely armored as many of us here— less metal to catch the evening sun and less noise altogether." he explained, allowing himself a small and self-effacing smirk. "I grew up near a forest much like this one, as well. The terrain can't be too dissimilar."

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Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by PigeonOfAstora
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Ciern kept to the back end of the knights, gently patting his horse's mane as he rode silently, ghost-like and listening to the conversations that floated back towards him. He watched the group's hind, although he never officially accepted that designation. His light armour clinked as they progressed, the scratched armour plates occasionally jamming briefly before realigning themselves. Ciern felt his horse stumble a little as they passed an overgrown patch, but steadied itself soon and ran to catch back up.

His horse, this time, was a runt of the pack. Dirt-brown and unnamed, the horse clearly was the one intended to be passed off to the common soldiers by the stable-masters. Still, Ciern suffered narrowed eyes and grudged glances, but in the end, secured his ride for the dispatch. The horse was overeager and prone to wander, but still with the smaller frame, Ciern was surprised that he kept up with the other knights all the same. Ciern was worried that it might over-exert itself, but so far, the horse showed no signs of wanting to stop. Was it because of a sense of determination or pride? Ciern was secretly fond of its determination. Ciern was tempted to name the horse, but really, who was he to so?

As the Knight-Captain and the vanguard discussed the strategies to tackle their enemy, Ciern mulled over the nature of the foe. Bandit-King, so they called him. A storm Broke the King's army and challenged the Knights. The Bandit-King wasn't an ordinary bandit leader, especially not if they brewed up the attention and might of this magnitude. Though bigger territories would be more desirable, it also meant that the bandit leader also had to "rule" that much more territory as well, along with the risk of drawing the ire of stronger powers. Medium size, manageable territories were much more 'economical' for the common bandit.

So, Ciern conjectured, either the Bandit-King was driven out of a desire to "rule" rather than settle with the simple accumulation of wealth, out of arrogance and challenged the Iron Roses to make an example of power, or out of the desires of a third actor. In any case, there would be a reason why this particular individual had managed to accrue so much command over his forces, by fear, respect or otherwise, and that would certainly be a factor that no opposition should take lightly. It was a mission of a simple objective but a complex execution, though Ciern hoped it would be just as simple as "magical bombardment." If for anyone...

Ciern adjusted his visor and watched the Knight-Commander on the white mare. 16 years old. Born on the full moon and chosen without consent to lead a centuries old Order. As much as Ciern tried to convince himself, Ciern was nervous for her. No doubt, she would have pressure on her shoulders, unbearable to most. What if she over-reached? What if someone tried to puppet her? What if she lost too much too fast, and made the same mistake so many made?

Ciern realized he gripped on his horse's mane too hard and was now tugging on it. He patted the tuft of mane back down as an apology, though Ciern doubted the horse would understand. No. He swore to be loyal to both the Order and the Knight-Captain. Regardless of who the leader was, he would be loyal all the same.

The Red Hound of the Roses...

Ciern's mouth tugged in a fascimile expression, neither a sneer or a grim grit. He will be loyal all the same.
Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by PaulHaynek
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~ Towards The Bandit Camp ~


Interacting with: @VitaVitaAR, @HereComesTheSnow


Jarde rode on his horse at the very back of the group. He figured these distinguished knights at the front would have a problem with some commoner wearing little armor riding at the fore. No need to instigate anything, thought Jarde. Besides, he had no right to be so close to Fanilly. While he wore light, leather and uninteresting armor, the Captain shone in her armor and her white-gold cape fluttered in the wind. She was like a beloved royal of a kingdom.

He was, however, close enough to hear the chatter. The Captain's plan was straightforward: Surround the bandit camp, and begin tearing them a new one until they all meet up at the center. Jarde could see the reason, these were but bandits. Rabble, but with delusions of grandeur. One that would be shattered considering they were about to tangle with the Iron Rose Knights. The elite warriors of Thaln. Needless to say, the so-called 'Bandit King' may have bit off more than he could chew. Or did he?

Jarde heard the suggestions made to the Captain. Some said they should annihilate the camp with artillery. Some more sensible ideas were sending scouts to see what they were up against. Fanilly agreed to a reconnaissance, to gauge the enemy and assess their numbers and strength.

It was like hearing calling, Jarde rode up to the fore of the formation. On the way, he heard some of the knights speculating about the bandits. About who they were, what their abilities could be, what spurred their leader to declare himself 'King' and get all arrogant and such. "What if it turned out he is an actual king?" Jarde joined in, with a jovial tone and a dopey smile on his face. "Wearing full plate armor with a regal cape flying behind him and a beautiful crown atop his head." At this point, his smile was wide. "Then his 'bandits' are also wearing plate, wielding sharp, steel lances and riding barded horses. All the while waving expertly designed banners and coats of arms."

Approaching the Captain herself, Jarde inhaled a breath of air as he steeled himself. Can't mess up in front of Fanilly. With a formal tone and the poise of a knight but also a warm, confident smile, he spoke. "Captain, I volunteer for this scouting party. At the very least, I'll look the part and keep this guy from getting lonely." He motioned to Gerard.
Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by Virgil
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~ Onward Into The Bandits' Forest ~




. . .Short attention spans, clearly - not a one of them seemed to have taken the messenger's words to heart; Anxious for the element of surprise, the Iron Roses rose swiftly and rode off into the sunset...but apparently not with all their senses entirely intact. The gaudily clad knight lifted a hand from the reigns to scratch his exposed chin, his visor lifted to allow breath and...other peculiarities from down along the party.

Dusk painted a troublesome trail of shadows along the path leading into the forest, made all the worse of course by the fact that they were riding headlong into a brazen challenge. His ear caught the drifting attention of every spare word carelessly laid down the line - in his mind's eye, he played with his surroundings, his experience...and the suggestions of others.

Brash in his jest, the realization of a possible truth to the blonde-haired Devaron's words struck a painful chord within the very bowels of Druncarde's armored frame; Not the notion of bandits arrayed with their own display of chivalry, of course not - but, that they might actually be...Prepared.

The odds were strongly in the favor of the order, but The River Knight was no gambler, and at the very least he needed to *hear* that there were more than two options being considered on the table. Gently leading the reigns, he mustered his grey steed into an advanced trot and sidled up behind the vanguard to speak:


"...A King he may be, but not for lack of spirit; Gold cloaks he may adorn his soldiers with, but not for lack of prowess; Bold proclamations he may reign over...but not for lack of foresight."

The shine of his orange suit masked itself within the receding glare of the sun, rendering the knight's presence almost ethereal from behind the backs of his prestigious comrades. His voice started out a fair bit bolder than usual, but it quickly leveled out into the quiet, almost cautious tone it usually took:

"The eyes of the forest are many, and in the absence of light we will surely not be prepared to *leave* these tangled roots should retreat be in order. Pray tell, did we ever stop to consider that our own humble carnival might be the one under watch?"

Druncarde shot a glance at the waning sun hanging low over the horizon, and motioned a hand towards its decline:

"A coiled serpent lies within the recesses of that thicket, held strong to the advantage of its defence - yet, *it* has issued the challenge...it can afford to wait on our arrival. The night falls soon, and darkness levies sense from prey and predator alike - in the dark, animals huddle together and are not so bold as to wander far from familiar sight. Let darkness slip, and they will have no choice but to let the forest surround them..."
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Gillian


"I would also volunteer to scout Miss Danbalion." A voice drawled darkly from behind the young girl, a few of the more green knights who had been only paying half attention reaching for their blades for a half second before recognizing the speaker and deciding to look elsewhere. Gillian sat on an old donkey, the mares fur greyed with age but gait still sturdy. Hardly the mount of a knight, lacking in speed and power but Julia was a tough old creature and bore his weight comfortably in her age and could do so all day if needed. The Living Reliquary lounged comfortably on the beast, overly long arms crossed comfortably across its back and draping down its sides as he gave the would be knight captain a languid stare.

"I was a furrier before I was a knight. Forest like this is going to have a few trapper trails throughout." He said, nodding towards Gerard for confirmation of the fact. "We'll use those to get close. No major traffic along them so the bandits are unlikely to be aware of them. Between the three of us, should be a relatively comfortable fit. And if we're discovered I'm the best suited to signaling for backup...." He gives the group a thin smile. "What with being able to set myself on fire and all." he said casually, as if the idea of routine self immolation had long since dissolved into a passing amusement on par with cloud watching.

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Narcissa made a frown, the halting language of her inexperienced commander not lost on her. Still unconvinced, she was yet patient, and nodded at agreement of sending a forward scouting party. What she might lack in experience, at the moment she seemed to make up for it in listening to and taking good council. Even if she were green, those were still the qualities of a good leader, as long as they didn’t entirely lean on them as a manner of conduct. Hearing the words of another of the knights, Sir Renar, she nodded. Narcissa only had a passing knowledge of his background, but even if it was dubious, he was cut from the same cloth as her, and he also tended to have sound judgement.

Tactfully ignoring the Knight-Captain’s second stumble, she raised a gloved hand to volunteer. “I would not have made the suggestion without offering, and I can lead it, if that is your wish. I’m more lightly armored than the others in full plate, and I’ll be less noticeable in on foot and in the woods.” If anybody had noticed, she had carefully danced around directly referring to the fact that she was small, and short. There was no denying that those were advantages in a stealthier scouting operation, though. She considered her weapons in that case; with a fair bit of reluctance, she realized she would have to leave her lance behind with her horse. In the thickets and woods, it was unwieldy, and would also stand out, so she would have to default to sword and shield. She internally grumbled, making a small grimace as she made a brief glance to suss out who had also volunteered, before looking further on down the road. Druncarde's words were a bit long-winded for the scenario for her taste, but they did have merit. Being ambushed in the thickets was a very real possibility.
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"Exactly my issue," Forina droned. The knightess trotted her horse by Narcissa, eyeing her briefly before speaking to the group at large, though of course her voice was carried to resonate with their captain the most.

"Poetic waxing aside, my assumptions are with Druncarde. One of the many real possibilities as to why the King's men failed each time is that they have a continual scouting presence long before their camp. They may very well know we're here already, perhaps for days now. After all, the 'bandit king' did invite us of his own accord. No one is that stupid without a plan in place," Forina explained. "There's also the fact that we had not received any intel on the camp itself, which seems to me like evidence that none had even reached it before being slaughtered."

Everything about this screamed 'trap' to Forina. The brazen challenge by the bandits, the ease with which they dispatched the King's soldiers, the lack of information... She worried they were about to send but a few knights into woods coursing with bandits lying in wait, ready to converge on them before they could even reach sight of the camp.

"Ultimately, however, it's your decision, Captain Fanilly," she said, turning her gaze to the young girl.
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The sun bled into the sky and set the clouds on fire. Ter was a smudge of brighter orange against it. Jerel called his attention down, snatching most of the words from the steady tumble of hooves. His fellow knights spoke sense, mostly, so Jerel held his tongue and chewed on their words. He shifted in his saddle. William, his blue-roan gelding, kept a steady pace, but his ears twitched so frequently. Perhaps he sensed his master’s nerves? Jerel’s brows were knit together tightly. The words of his companions only served to fan his worries. He hoped nobody was underestimating their opponents.

There might have been a place for him amongst the scouting party; he was used to moving quietly and was dressed in his leathers, yet it was already swollen with numbers, so he ceded that responsibility.

At Sir Druncarde's words William jerked forward; Jerel had tensed up and squeezed the horse on. A deep breath escaped Jerel, rushing out of him like water wrung from a wet cloth, and the tension with it. The horse slowed again, casting an eye back at its rider. Jerel fell back into the rise and fall of William’s motion, and considered how to add to the counsel.

“I agree with Sir Druncarde, ” He called forward from behind, “A -,” he was not sure if his words were heard above the din, but Dame Forina began talking and so the rest of his sentence crashed into his teeth as he bit his tongue; silent. Heat flashed behind his cheeks. He looked down, shaking his head.

Idiot.

He pulled his view from the floor to the skies, sighing. Outstretching an arm, Jerel let out a shrill whistle, and bolt of blue and orange struck his forearm and materialized into Ter. The bird met his eyes. Jerel could feel Ter’s fervour bubbling up - eager to hunt, to kill. Jerel kept him close, his sword and bow additional comfort, heavy against him.

“Be ready,” He whispered, though he was not sure if it was to his bird or to himself.

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Tyaethe Radistirin


"If a dragon shows up, do you cowards plan to feed the princess to it and hope for the best? These are just bandits," Tyaethe said, unable to contain herself as yet another knight chose to view for the captain's opinion by a humiliating display of caution. If this was the best Thaln could offer, no wonder the Bandit King had such an easy time of it; a reasonably determined child could probably put them off. "Mayon grant you all a spine... if so many of you are that scared of one man, I'll clear the camp on my own."

Hopefully, Fanilly would put her foot down and limit the excessive level of caution if some good old-fashioned goading didn't work. Nothing like an apparent child looking down her nose at you to push you into trying to prove yourself. Even if her gaze was a bit blunted by the sheer press of bodies, it was still quit the weight bearing down. Particularly on Druncarde.

That was just useless whimpering. Generally, it would take an idiot of a foe to not notice a company of armoured knights riding up; not having the element of surprise was something they had to deal with.
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The knights who quickly volunteered for the scouting party were a considerable boon. It allowed Fanilly to understand their capabilities, at least to some extent, far more quickly. But the scouting party would wait until after they dismounted. She did want to try and lay out her plan of attacking the bandit camp in more detail, but for the moment it was important to understand what defenses were in place. The bandits themselves were invariably inferior to the knights in equipment and training, but the 'Bandit King' was something of an unknown factor, and it was possible there were some sort of defenses in place that could make an attack more difficult.

Fanilly paused as she listened to some of the concerns(and Tyaethe's rebuttal) voiced by her knights.

While scouting seemed practical, if they moved too slowly, didn't that give the bandits more of an opportunity to prepare, if they did know they were coming? It was strange that the Bandit King had challenged them so directly, but... ah, this was an odd situation. But the Iron Rose Knights wouldn't be cowed by bandits! She didn't want to be an unworthy captain, and when the order had such a history of striking down far more impressive threats then bandits...

Besides, this was Fanilly's duty. She had to carry it out.

As the knights around her spoke, Fanilly thought over what they knew of the bandit raids in her mind. Certainly, a few of the dead men of the King had been killed in methods one would expect. Arrows, blades, axes, spears. But the majority of the dead that had been recovered were slain through far more grisly methods. Whatever weapon had been used against them had not simply killed them, it had cut their bodies to pieces. Many soldiers had been cut entirely in half. Simple fact was that there was someone among the bandits who wielded an enormous weapon capable of doing such incredible damage to even someone wearing armor.

The forest was growing considerably thicker, here.

"It's not unlikely there may be scouts of the bandits, as well, but for the moment it's important to act quickly," Fanilly said, finally, "But the forest has become too thick for horseback, we must dismou-"

She stopped dead as she looked up. Ahead, wheels smashed, caught up against a tree, was a cart. A horse lay dead in front of it, arrows sticking from its side and neck. A man lay on the ground. He wasn't moving.

The Order's duty came to the forefront of Fanilly's mind immediately as she lept from her horse. There was the sound of metal on leather as she drew her longsword in one hand, the blade flashing in the light of the setting sun. Even if this was foolish... if that man was alive...!

The Captain of the Iron Rose Knights sprinted forward without a second thought. Soon she was upon the cart, coming to a halt and kneeling beside the downed man. He was an older man, in his late fifties perhaps, with greying black, short hair and simple clothing. His side was soaked in blood, and there was a gash in his flesh. And yet, he was still breathing, even if he was pale an unconscious.

"... He's still alive!" Fanilly called to the others, looking back over her shoulder, "But he needs aid immediately!"

The man's eyes fluttered open, and fell upon Fanilly's face, then the symbol on her breastplate.

"... You... an... Iron Rose Knight..." he said, weakly, reaching up towards the girl. Her attention returned to him quickly and she took his hand in her own.

"Hold on," she began. His wound was bloody, but if he got medical attention swiftly then he could perhaps survive, "As captain of the Iron Rose Knights, we will get you to safety!"

He weakly shook his head. "L... leave, this is... a trap..."

... A trap...?

Fanilly heard the sound before she saw anything. She released the man's hand, and did the first thing that came to mind, throwing herself to the side, catching herself with her free hand as she stopped and looked up. Three black arrows had buried themselves deep in the wooden cart where she had been moments later. Almost immediately, a hooded man in ragged leather armor sprang out of the downed cart and threw himself at her.

Fanilly threw herself to the side as he swung a shortsword down towards the short girl. His sword hit dirt, but he swung back up just as she drew her dagger and immediately locked his strike up in her guard, a followup strike forcing him back immediately. Just as her training had told her, just as she'd practiced a thousand times or more...!

"Heh," he spat, "Skilled for a little girl, but no use when the other guys get here. What are you doin'-"

His eyes found the symbol on her chestplate, and then his gaze found the other knights. His eyes widened in horror.

"... Th... the Iron Roses?! Oh gods above!"

Perhaps he had known there was a large force approaching. It would have been difficult for him not to, if he had been lying in wait. But it did not appear he realized it was the Iron Rose Knights.

He was hardly alone, however. A considerable number of bandits now emerged from the forest, brandishing shortswords, axes, and a number of other weapons. Not a single one of them appeared unshaken, but perhaps they felt they had little choice but to commit to their trap.

"Iron Roses, to arms!" called Fanilly, raising her sword.

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Hidden 27 days ago 27 days ago Post by OwO
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With Aria's old gelding carrying the ever-alert knight to the bandit's encampment, the sortie had been deliberating ideas. Scouts, bombardments, and just plain routing the enemy had all been offered by the various knights, but the most important fact remained; their leader didn't offer much of a plan. Simply win was the goal and not a plan. While Aria was fine—agreed, even—with the tradition of choosing someone born under the full moon, following such an inexperienced woman into battle left a sour taste in her mouth. A general that couldn't command an army was no general, after all.

Soon, they dismounted as the thicket became too harsh for the horses to traverse. Not even bothering to tie her gelding down, she dismounted with weapons in hand. On a cursory inspection of her allies, a few noticeable faces stood out. The first was a similarly tall woman with red hair. She looked noble, but she was no Larette. She either had some Larette blood in her, or she was just unlucky enough to be born with the same characteristics of Aria's house. Another was a small woman; a child, in fact. Under a parasol, she had rested for the duration of their ride. She was a knight, no doubt. If she too bore the crest of the iron rose, then that would mean her ability justified her odd behaviour. The one who had suggested the... bombardment was also interesting. Rather than traditional plate, she wore cloth. Well, the same applied to her. Those who wore the Iron Rose were still allies. Lastly was a giant. He was a giant. It wasn't often that one would see non-humans in their order. Plus, it was impossible for Aria to not notice his massive figure. He was one of the few knights that were taller than her.

As they dismounted, the group of knights had stumbled upon a damaged cart and the victims of an attack. It wasn't too uncommon for a bandit to attack random passersby to take whatever they took. What was important was to avoid the damaged carts and survivors. After all, those who wished to help others were easy targets. No strategist worth their salt would go to inspect an obvious trap before securing the area first. Of course Aria would look the other way, ever alert to ambushes and flanks.

Then their captain yelled something about someone still being alive. Well, that was fine. As long as she secured the area first, that was. As long as Aria watched the flank, the others could secure the area.

Then she heard the man speak and turned around, only to see their captain trying to aid the man at the cart.

"Sto-"

It was too late. Their captain had realized her mistake and leapt out of the way. Arrows rained where she once was. Thankfully, their fearless leader was unharmed. Emerging from their hiding spots behind the trees, a large group of bandits came out. Were they fearless? Did they not see the equally large group of trained knights facing them? They were either fiercely loyal or fiercely dumb. Either way, they would end up dead.

Their captain had raised her sword, signalling it was time to counterattack. Really? That was it?

There was no point in waiting. One of the key tenements of battle was speed. If they were to rout the enemy, the fleeing bandits would be easy pickings. Quickly, she entered slapped the back of those who also also carried polearms. The female knight who wore only a small breastplate for plate, the knight with a twin-edged spear, the equally tall knight with the fur neck-lining and poleaxe, and the rather short knight who possessed and ash spear.

"With me," she ordered them, "we're going to push for a rout." Suddenly, she yelled to the rest of them. "And leave one alive!"

She didn't actually care if they came with her. It was simply better for spear users to fight as a unit. Even if they didn't, Aria didn't need to rely on others. Charging towards the rightmost bandit that faced them, she dashed even more right. The rightmost bandit, distinguished with a hodgepodge of chain and leather with sword and shield, had been confused by his sudden opponent avoiding him. With all of her might, Aria planted her feet and thrust her spear directly into the trunk of the tree. The wood parted as though it wasn't there, forming a large hole an inch larger than the spearhead in each direction. The spear didn't stop at the tree. If it had, it would have been a lesser spear. No, it instead carried onwards, directly into the skull of the bandit Aria had placed in line with her thrust. The bandit instantly dropped, his skull made considerably airier. With a quick pull, Aria brought her spear out of the trunk, ready for her next move.

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