Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Virgil
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Virgil Genuine Novice

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~ Pressed Into The Forest Trap ~


Interacting with: [@Cheeky_Bandit], @OwO


With a slap of his back, the Dame was off her mount - spear at the ready, belching out a counter-attack at the sudden ambush. He figured he hadn't heard them because they weren't moving; He figured they'd heard the order's party because they were; He figured it'd be wise to get off his mount before it bucked him into the arrow-fire. The River Knight slapped shut his visor and swung a leg down over the opposite side of the beast's sadd--

A force like a lightning bolt clanged full-on where exposed flesh had so tantalizingly lain only seconds prior, forcing a disoriented
"UOMPH!" from his whiplashed windpipe. The world tumbled around Druncarde, and he collapsed backwards over his saddle visor-first into the loamy earth below...

One of the horses shrilled in pain to the thunk of missile-fire, stray or intended, and with a surprised grunt, Druncarde collected himself onto all fours - scrambling to retrieve the spear & shield that'd lost their way amidst the malicious greeting. Wheeling about back to his feet, he stumbled upon the realization that he now lay *across* the horse-train from which Larette had so hastily advanced...though by the looks of things, she was handling the situation bloody well.

A second arrow bounced off the back of his head, shunting him forward a step before he could find the time to recover. Whipping back another 180 degrees, he raised his kite and advanced silently toward his side of the thicket as the din of battle awoke under cracks of dusk shattered between ancient canopies. Another arrow shot out of the treeline and failed miserably to halt his wary endeavor - whoever was hiding back here had a tremendous amount of grit for a bandit (presumably) outclassed in every measure. At this pace, it'd take at least a few more seconds to reach their cozy nook...so he decided to book it instead - dropping low on his hips and pelting full-sprint into the mess of silhouetted trunks and entwined shrubberies!

...No one - completely devoid of any presence that'd been there moments before. Druncarde surveyed his flanks and caught sight of a rather promiscuous little set of skirmishers skittering about behind the vegetation, ducking out of cover to loose the occasional potshot before hastily blending back into the safety of the trees. The path to the vanguard was temptingly preoccupied with reckless hit-and-run maneuvers, but it seemed the wiser course of action to secure the rear...besides, he needed a quick bit of payba--


"CLUNK", went the taunting invitation of a third and (he hoped) final shot to his cranium, blunted by the rush of adrenaline pulsating through his veins.

"EY-EY, BRIGHT-BOY - 'WAT'S-A-MATTER, CAN'T TAKE A HINT?"

. . .Brazen idiots...bored Druncarde.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Crimson Paladin
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Fleuri Jodeau


Fleuri was startled by the abrupt ambush, with a bandit boldly attacking the captain at the wagon and more emerging from the woods. He wasn't shaken, however; the captain had a plan, and this ambush was not going to thwart it. Hearing Fanilly's rallying cry, he turned and cantered to the left flank. The terrain further in was too wooded for fighting on horseback, but his horse would be useful for getting him into position as quickly as possible, and the attackers had made the mistake of emerging from the thicket instead of taking shelter within it.

The knight reached a suitable location from which to attack from, slowing to a stop. Fleuri discarded his lance and dismounted as soon as he reached the edge of the flank, drew his greatsword from a scabbard tied to the saddle, and briefly adjusted the fit of his helmet. He was ready. As the other knights closed in on the enemy, Fleuri rushed in as well. He circled around into the edge of the forest and charged into the bandits' flank, sword held high. There was no better way to destroy a foe's carefully laid plan and sow panic in their ranks than by hitting them where they didn't expect it. And from the look of this ambush, the bandits' plan was certainly not carefully laid.

Fleuri targeted a bandit at the edge of the enemy band, a man in leather armor, wielding a handaxe and crude wooden shield. "For Reon! For the Order!" he shouted as he charged, both to frighten his foe and to amp himself up for the battle ahead.

His target appeared to panic when he saw and heard Fleuri closing in, instinctively ducking and raising his shield to block the assault. It didn't do any good- the poor angle of the shield enabled the knight's greatsword to cut through it, fatally striking the bandit in the head through his leather skullcap with a sickening noise. The man crumpled to the ground, his left arm held aloft by the shield that was still stuck in his assailant's sword.

Fleuri placed his boot on the shield and pulled on his blood-stained sword, wrenching it free and turning to another bandit. If they were all as poor warriors as the dead man in front of him, this would be less of a battle and more of a slaughter. It was going to be a bloody evening, but by Reon, none of these murderers would be allowed to escape.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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"Understood."

His dismount was immediate, swinging off of his steed with practiced ease and drawing his longsword upon landing. Sliding free of scabbard upon his back (hitched up in the transition from mounted to grounded to facilitate this), it glinted dangerously in the evening light, well-kept but otherwise... nondescript. He was neither the caliber nor pedigree of knight to name his blade.

However.

Seize the initiative. Take it and press it for all you're worth. Fight in The Before.

He surged forward, blade floating above his shoulder in a muted form of the High or Roof Guard, covering distance between the road and the nearest bandit who had appeared from the treeline that he had moments before been eyeing to enter as a scout within moments. The man was somewhat scrawny, wearing a patchwork armoring of layered hide and mail near his joints, and upon his countenance was an expression that suggested a note of trepidation at the idea of facing the Iron Rose Knights in open combat. Understandable.

He held in his hands a sword. It was short and shoddily made, the type Gerard had seen and faced often in those seven years before knighthood. Chipping ran its length, and the knuckles squeezed white as the highwayman's grip attempted to strangle whatever wood was beneath the pommel's leather. The blade was covered in a brownness that suggested not rust— but blood. Recently dried, lining up with the attack they had stumbled into. Unforgivable.

The knight's eyes shone and his guard raised higher, now overhead. He had neither caliber nor pedigree to his name, true, and his sword had no title bestowed upon it— But when the order was given, neither he nor it would hesitate. The Before and The After were a wellspring to all skills, and he had learned to always seize The Before. When you have initiative, you control the fight, and your opponent wilts under having to defend himself from you.

The bandit stepped back, raising his sword high—

And Gerard was upon him.

From the Roof Guard, the brigand made a natural assumption: the knight was to strike upon his head like hammering an anvil. He had a decent chance of deflecting such a blow if his blade wouldn't break from the force— yet no such blow came. Instead the knight drew a glinting arc, stepping out to his right and bringing the blade around to bite into his skull, top hand now leading and thumb pressed against the flat of his blade. Driven by the full rotational chain of his legs and hips, this Thwarting Strike was one of the master cuts he had repeated thousands of times against any manner of foe, real or imagined.

The Bandit fell.

Onto the next. They were not far.

Now in the Ox Guard after that initial hew, Sir Segremors spotted the bandit's fellow charging him, before the first's corpse had even hit the ground. Trying to use his comrade as a sort of concealment or distraction, then. With his woodsman's hatchet held high, ready to split the knight's skull in two, the man let loose a war cry. He had merely one or two strides left to be in range for such a feat. Cunning, after a fashion.

Gerard's rear hand re-positioned, pushing against his pommel as he stepped into the man's advance with a thrust. Simply extending his lead arm and putting his weight into it was almost natural from Ox. Startled by the sudden shortening of the space between them, his foe wrenched his arms downward, trying to capitalize or even just react—

But fell short and limp, bouncing off of the crossguard of the sword he had run himself onto.

The young knight kicked the body free, taking in the battlefield that had emerged as he did so. Dame Larette had set to one flank, Sir Jodeau another. The Vanguard was engaging the bandit's in earnest. He spied Druncarde, Knight of The River, moving towards the rear of their group and caught up with what seemed to be a bunch of harassing crossbowmen. Too far now for Gerard to help without passing through most of the others.

Perhaps lend more strength to the front, then.

He set off again. It was as always.

Onto the next. They were not far.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Click This
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With the foliage density increasing and the increasing difficulty of traversing up the path, many of the knights in the column, including Narcissa, were getting ready to dismount. After that, according to the captain’s plan, they would split off the scouting party to search up ahead. That plan had been barely formalized when it was shattered; just before the group was going to dismount en masse, the wreckage of a small cart came into view, accompanied by a dead horse and a bloodied body alongside. Narcissa remained alert as she took the opportunity to dismount, but she wasn’t too concerned. If it was a man simply left for dead, they would just move on. If it was an ambush, they could easily fight it off. Either way, it was prudent to establish a small perimeter around the area before inspecting the wreckage, and Narcissa was about to open her mouth to give an order to that effect, the idea so obvious to her that she didn’t think the Knight Captain needed to deign herself with it.

That was, until the young captain literally jumped from her horse and sprinted up to the man, walking right into what was an obvious ambush after all. “Idiotic!” She muttered, watching as Fanilly barely dodge a volley of arrows and then a engage with a concealed bandit. The call to arms was sloppy, with no plan, but in a proper order like the Iron Rose, a well-trained group of knights didn’t need one to effectively respond and counter an ambush. Hastily adjusting her equipment as more bandits emerged from the forest, Narcissa quickly rushed forward with spear and shield to reform the van around the captain.

A man armed with sword and buckler got in her way before that objective could be achieved, but immediately sensing his disadvantage against the reach of Narcissa’s weapon, attempted to disengage. Not giving him the chance to run, she immediately jabbed for neck but was blocked by his shield. The bandit, forced back into an engagement, swiped with his sword, but bounced harmlessly off her kite-shield, and a second thrust downwards caught the bandit in his foot, causing him to stumble to the ground with a yell of pain. Not hesitating, she swung her spear down once more with another jab, delivering the coup de grace before charging in again.

One of the other noble knights, a Larette, had somehow made it ahead of her, rallying for a spear push. In a split-second decision, she agreed the decision was expedient, and pushed in towards her. “Larette. I’ll cover your rear.” Announcing her intentions, she engaged another bandit just off to her side, deflecting an axe before replying in kind with a skewer to the torso, only to be immediately engaged by another one immediately afterwards...

The battlefield was quickly getting messy, but Narcissa still remained fully confident of their superiority. She only had to take one look at the fear on their faces when they realized they were being engaged by knights.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Raineh Daze
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Tyaethe Radistirin


Like the others, Tyaethe dismounted, smoothing out her dress as she did so--and then throwing the sword over her shoulder as Fanilly went to the rescue of the wounded farmer. So, they'd left someone alive...? There was no way that could be an accident. Not this close to the camp. Talk about a lazy trap--sure enough, the captain easily avoided the obvious attempt to spring something on her. So amateurish; you didn't leave your bait alive to give warning.

But the small girl was alongside the captain in moments, shifting grip to wield the sword as best as possible in her free hand. It was almost an afterthought as she thrust it through the heart of one axe-wielding bandit, not seeming to pay much attention as the order's one and only undead briefly strengthened herself to free her sword; the corpse sailed into an onrushing pair, leaving them free for other knights to stab down.

"Reon's jiggly ass... this is enough to scare you brats?" Tyaethe grumbled, looking back at the farmer. What... there, on the horse. That would do. The paladin dropped her umbrella and tore the saddle blanket free, pressing down on the man's wound. No sense in dropping the sword, and the trees shielded enough of the sun that it was more an irritant than painful.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Dystopya
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Joss Corbyn
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Somewhere around the middle of the Iron Rose's formation a man in armor sat comfortably on his steed. Joss was comfortable in full plate armor, though he chose to keep his helmet off for the moment, seeing as his companions were discussing the best way to deal with the "Bandit King." Being relatively new to the Order, Joss figured he'd let the other's figure out the plan, though there seemed to be no shortage of ideas. He didn't see what the big deal was, they were the Iron Roses for Reon's sake, they should be able to handle these scum regardless of whatever traps they may have in store. He saw the logic in sending a scouting party to test the bandits' defenses, but the Roses had a reputation to keep, any opposition should be thoroughly crushed beneath their boots.

The skeptic in Joss whispered that they were walking into a trap. If he looked at the events leading up to that day, it only made sense that the Bandit King would only be bold enough to challenge the Order if he had something up his sleeve. Even if it was, there weren't many options for the Roses, they had to take the bandits out regardless. As Joss mulled over his thoughts, he reached into one of his saddle bags for some food to give Zephyr, his horse. While letting Zephyr snack on the feed he had just brought out, his attention was drawn to the vanguard, where the Rose's newest Knight-Captain was considering the best way to engage the mission. Joss had been baffled when he learned how the Iron Roses picked new leaders. To put someone so young in charge of such a unique and efficient group of warriors seemed like a recipe for disaster. And by the looks of it, it was mostly the seasoned members of the Order that spoke up to either agree or disagree with Fanilly. It made sense, the old and the new will always clash, tradition versus change, it was the way of the world wasn't it?

Joss dismounted from Zephyr, patting him lightly before tying him to a nearby tree. Normally the tether wasn't necessary but he figured if things went south and Zephyr got spooked at least he wouldn't have to run around trying to retrieve his anxious mount. He had just returned to the main cluster of Roses when an explosion of movement took place near Fanilly. It looked like their caravan had come across what was left of a bandit attack, coincidence? Joss didn't think so, and he was proven right when his Captain was almost skewered by an archer volley. Quick to act, Joss retrieved his spear from it's holder over his shoulder and donned his helmet as the Order scrambled into an attack formation. Fanilly made the call, attack!

He was moving in an instant, taking in his surroundings and looking for the best place to enter a formation with the other Knights. Spotting Aria, a fellow spear user, Joss slid up behind her group of Knights to cover their rear. "With you," he called out, signaling that they could advance forward on the bandits in front of them without having to worry about being ambushed from behind. Joss activated a mechanism in his spear that allowed it to split into two blades and he adopted a wide stance, grounding himself. Guarding the rear meant he would have to be reactive and not allow himself to be baited out of formation.

A rustle in the forest was enough to alert him of the bandit that sprung from it's tangled depths. Joss almost felt sorry for the man, almost. He was a short man but made up for it with muscle, but judging by his unbalanced stance, he didn't know how to properly use it. The bandit held a battle axe and a buckler shield, and he rushed Joss hard. Corbyn let the man come, refusing to budge even as the bandit let out a war cry and let loose a wild but devastating strike from over his head. Joss moved then, dashing past the strike and lowering his shoulder, his left knee almost scraping the ground. Joss heard the air leave the bandit's lungs as his armored body met the leather clad bandit's. Using the man's momentum, Joss flipped the bandit over his shoulder, using his crouched position to spring himself upward. The axe fell from his grip and the man found himself on his back, winded and dazed. Joss knew what he had to do next, and instead of the expected swift slash to the bandit's neck, he sunk one of his blades straight through the man's shoulder and into the dirt beneath him. Having successfully pinned the bandit, Joss called for rope, and a Knight who was still mounting their house retrieved some from a saddlebag. As quickly as he could, Joss hogtied the bandit and the Knight who grabbed the rope for him threw the man over one of the horse's backs for interrogation after the skirmish. "We got one alive!" He informed the squad he was moving with, having returned to his place in the formation.

Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Asuras
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"You idiot!" Forina practically screamed, already rushing for the Captain. The knightess had her blade drawn quick as a flash, but paused for a moment as the arrows sunk into tree and carriage with a quick thunk, thunk, thunk. The bandit that swung at Fanilly met with Forina's own steel before he could even try for another shot, and in an instant his life ended. The longsword cleaved right into the bandit's shoulder, sinking deep enough that Forina need an immediate wrench to free it from the flesh.

As the bandit crumpled into an oozing pile, Forina turned to Fanilly, her sword held low at her side. The red-haired knightess' face was a contorted mess of anger and disappointment.

"I caution everyone and then this?" she spat. Forina wasted no more time chiding her own Captain, taking to the rest of the bandits as the Order had charged in so recklessly to do. Forina added another unanticipated kill to her list as she drove her sword through the spine of a bandit which had only just begun to engage Narcissa. A scream escaped him as the tip of her sword shot out from his belly, only to be pulled cleanly out before the pained noise could die.

"At the very least, we can confirm they'd not expected us. This will be easy," Forina said to Narcissa. She flicked her blade to clean it somewhat, though her whole right arm remained dripping with blood. A nod of her head towards the Larette signaled she was ready to help her cousin charge further in.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Psyker Landshark
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So it was a trap. One that didn't seem to actually be intended for them if the look on the bandits' faces was any indication. Ah, well. They chose this fight. They'd get what was coming to them. Someone would have to have a talk with the captain later in private about delegating. Or just resisting her instinct to help. If the bandits were more competent, she'd be dead by now.

Renar simply dismounted and took his place in the van as Bloody Aria barked an order for the spearmen to form up. It was a good order, but even if it hadn't been, to second-guess in the heat of battle was beyond foolish. He brought his poleaxe up, pushing alongside the rest.

A bandit charged his position in the line specifically, and he smirked. The man only wielded a hand axe and a leather shield, being covered in hides and rusted mail. Simple enough. Renar stepped forward, meeting the bandit's charge with a swing of his polearm's axe head, forcing the bandit to stop in his tracks and raise his shield. Another step forward, and Renar was in range to draw his poleaxe back, quickly whirling it around and smashing the bandit in the gut with the opposing end, knocking the wind out of the man. While he was doubled over, trying to suck a breath in, Renar slammed the polearm's spike forward, smashing it through the bandit's left eye and out the back of his skull.

"Another one down!" Renar roared, kicking the still-warm corpse off his weapon and leveling his poleaxe as he continued the push with the rest of the line.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by VitaVitaAR
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The man who had engaged Fanilly in the first place was almost immediately killed by Forina, who took the moment to chastise her for her actions. Dully, Fanilly realized it had been foolish to move before trying to see if the man was alive, but... but weren't they also knights of compassion, who helped the innocent? Weren't they...

In her moment of silence, another man leaped from behind the cart. Seeing her distracted, and likely realizing there wasn't much room to run where he had found himself, had managed to mount another attack moments after Forina had changed targets. But Fanilly wasn't completely stunned. She caught his shortsword it swiftly on the edge of her own blade, sliding his weapon along it and forcing it downwards. She'd practiced practically every possible motion with her longsword over and over, and this bandit, while not totally unskilled, was simply not someone who could claim the same thing.

She made her opening, adjusted her grip, and thrust her sword. The leather armor was no match for her blade. Neither was the bandit's torso.

It wasn't the first. It was the second. The second man Fanilly had ever killed.

The blonde girl stepped back, and he let out a gurgle, tumbling sideways.

Fanilly took a deep breath. It was striking her in her heart, for a moment. Even if it wasn't the first... But, they had come here to kill these bandits. Any that surrendered would be taken prisoner, but any that resisted would be killed. They were murderers. They were the type of people who hurt innocents, who had no remorse for their actions, who would kill anyone if it meant making coin.

Just like the first.

These facts in mind, Fanilly readied her bloodstained blade. Around her, the knights were taking initiative, those with poleaxes pushing forward, others taking out the archers in the brush. Tyaethe had rushed to her side swiftly and tended to the injured farmer, as well as cut apart one of the bandits. The sight of a man cut in half before her eyes gave Fanilly a moment of shocked pause, but she swiftly shook her head and tried to recover. She couldn't freeze up. She couldn't let herself be lost in the frantic clash. She had to make up for not realizing how this was a trap. She had to do everything she could. She couldn't be the fool Forina had called her. She had to do everything she could to be the captain that the Iron Rose Knights needed!

Given the bandits were, for the moment, unable to focus largely on her, Fanilly took a moment to take stock of the situation, trying to clear her mind and ignore the hammering of her heart. This was likely not all of the bandits. The first bandit's reaction indicated they weren't expecting the Iron Roses. Therefore...!

"Do not let a single man escape!" cried Fanilly, finally managing to speak, "They cannot alert the camp to our presence!"

Every bandit here had to be killed or captured. If they were not, it was possible they could warn the others, in which case the bandits could prepare further defenses, traps, or flee outright.

"Archers, magi, suppress their crossbowmen!"

The most dangerous bandits among this small force had to be those that were hidden among the forest, using their crossbows to fire unseen. To keep them from injuring, or worse, killing any of her knights, Fanilly knew she had to suppress them in any way possible. She had to keep them from being able to concentrate enough to aim! Even if they didn't know exactly where the bandits were, it would be difficult for them to attack if they were being struck with a hail of arrows themselves. Ah, what else could she order?! She had to give further guidance, she had to think! But everything was happening around her, bandits being slain left and right...

She had to have faith in her knights above all else!

With Tyaethe caring for the man, Fanilly took a swift step forward. Ducking low, she heard something whistle over her head. Shortly afterwards, she heard a pained cry from the same direction.

A man with an axe sprang from behind the tree in front of her. As he swung down, she responded immediately with her parrying dagger, locking the axe's head between the blade and the hilt!

This one came easier, her sword cutting downwards between his shoulder and neck, hacking into his leather armor. The bandit's numbers were dwindling swiftly, and though there were a considerable number still fighting for their lives... there were others wavering, preparing to flee.

Fanilly tore her blade from the dead bandit.

"Do not let them escape!"

@HereComesTheSnow@Raineh Daze@Asuras@jdh97@Dystopya@Psyker Landshark@Click This@OwO@PigeonOfAstora@Animal@TheFake@ERode@Virgil@Crimson Paladin@ghastlyinc@PaulHaynek
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ERode
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While the Knights surged forth, an unbreakable wave of steel and skill, Elodie made a quick assessment: this was literally just a waste of time. The Bandit King couldn't have been dumb enough to have challenged the Iron Rose Knights and then expected them NOT to have come; these ignorant savages were most likely just a convenient detection system for him, and the time they spent cleaning up the suicidal filth here was simply more time for the main bandit camp to prepare themselves. String up the hostages, man their artillery, ready their rituals, all that cute stuff.

Shoulda mounted a cavalry charge instead. Was it too late for their dear young Captain to order a magical bombardment?

With the battle practically won before it even began, Elodie took her time surveying the battlefield instead, the shoddy arrows of the enemy falling short of her own position. She picked a few of them off the ground, twisting off steel arrowheads and putting them in a small pouch as the artificer watched her bloodthirsty brethren rip apart the bandits like a scythe through wheat. Well, except for one. Rolling her eyes at the vampire knight's decision-making, Elodie pulled her goggles over her eyes, hopped off her mare, and ran over to Tyaethe. She stopped beside the ancient warrior, checked the state of the bleeding man, and then said, rather flatly, "Hell you doing here? Plenty o blood to be had in the fight, leechgirl. Put your sword to good use."

Elodie was the one that had the kits for taking care of injuries, after all. God knows why a monstrous knight would deign to play the role of a healer here. Pulling the injured man closer to the toppled cart, the artificer began her own work, forcing tonics into his mouth while properly cleaning and dressing his wound. She wasn't concerned, not really, that a bandit would find their way here. After all, to do so, they'd have to go through a veritable storm of steel.

And if they actually made it through, she could just shittalk the entire group about it after.
@Raineh Daze
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by PigeonOfAstora
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Ciern had been toward the back of the group, slowing down early as soon as he saw the cart, expecting the rest of the convoy to do the same. Trap. Convenient location, thicket to hide, and a wounded man to bait in victims. This was a classic bandit's trap - easy to set up, easy to execute. Problem was, it was so commonly used, it was mostly just a trick for the common traveller. He should make sure the Knights had the jump on the ambusher instead, and started to turn to inspect his surroundings, when the Captain jumped off and rushed to help the wounded man. Ah.

The thicket erupted with bandits, armed with various common bandit weaponry. They looked a little startled, but still closed in on the group as per the ambusher's plan. Ciern was caught a little away from the group, a much less than ideal situation.

His horse had whined and reared, nearly toppling Ciern over but he managed to barely stay seated, though his hips shifted awkwardly out of the saddle. His armour rattled as the horse stamped and jumped backwards, and inadvertantly kicking away a bandit unfortunate enough to be in the way of its hindquarters. Ciern grit his teeth. He knew the horse was a nervous one, but this was a bad time for a spook. He tightened his grip on the rein and coerced the horse into a spin, straining to keep on the horse while checking his surroundings. In the blur, Ciern could see that the bandits had back off, seeing the fate of their comrade, but were now closing in and drawing ranged weaponry to exploit his position. The horse was still slowing down, and Ciern's vision was spinning from dizziness, but he had no time. Kicking off firmly from his saddle, he bailed his horse and slammed into the closest bandit, using their body mass to dampen his rough dismount and throwing them away. Ciern felt the body of the bandit crack and give in slightly under the leather armour, but didn't have time to check if they were truly down. He staggered, but managed to regain his ground just in time to parry an incoming jab from a spear. The spear wielder, over-eager to exploit Ciern's dismount, had extended far too much and allowed Ciern to rush forward and pull his opponent into an embrace, plunging his dagger into their neck.

Ciern breathed heavily through his visor, still holding the weakly struggling body of his adversary and dragging him along. He managed to back off and watch as the rushing contacts hesitated, unsure where to attack now. It was a dirty tactic, using his enemy's body as a shield, but Ciern could not afford to fight so many targets in an open ground - at least not until he regained his stamina. As his victim stopped struggling, Ciern let them fall away, pulling his dagger out with a tug. With a furious shout, the remainder of his opponents attacked with the now open Ciern, but Ciern had managed to make his way back to the main bulk of the Knights. With the Knights surrounding him and numbers advantage gone, Ciern could now battle on even terms - and there was no chance for the bandits, still relatively untrained and swinging widely as Ciern backpedalled and parried them blow-by-blow, before finally executing them with a well-timed riposte.

As the battle shifted clearly to the Knights' favour, the Captain commanded the magi of the group to strike the long ranged crossbow wielders. Ciern started to draw up his mana, lightning crackling gently from his tunic, then hesitated. Ciern hissed at his brief indecision. Orders. His personal preferences meant nought in face of Captain's orders. "Bolt incoming!" He shouted, making sure there were no allies in his way, before letting loose a bolt lightning that shot towards the nearest archer. In a flash and scream, the archer fell to the ground, convulsing in apparent agony and red streaks covering their unprotected face. Ciern did not check to see if the contacts were fully down, and let loose a flurry of lightning, the bolts snarling as they screamed towards the crossbow archers and striking their targets with rhythmic and precise execution.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by HereComesTheSnow
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Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war...

Not a phrase one often heard amongst knightly company, being that they held themselves to higher standards than "crying havoc". They were chivalrous, they were controlled, they did not let themselves slip, they were above mere dogs. These were all understandings he had long held, even before he himself had risen to their level.

A flash of movement from his peripheral prompted him to whirl into a sidestep, barely registering that the point of the brigand's spear had nicked the cloth shirt beneath his cuirass, inches from his ribs. Initiative wasn't his after this man charged him from the treeline. He had to remedy that. Fight in the third, crucial stance, The Instant. The realm of split decisions that could set up a sturdy defense to regain a fierce offense. His left arm clamped down upon the wooden haft of the spear as the momentum of the thrust carried it clear without the resistance of flesh and bone to impede it. Pinning the weapon to his side before the foe could retract it, he stepped forward and used his free hand to ram his pommel into the bridge of the bandit's nose, earning a spurt of blood for his effort and stopping the hands that were scrambling for the dagger after giving up on retrieving their lance.

Gerard Segremors did not yet possess that level of domain amongst himself. Not yet, as six months could only undo so much of seven years. He still yet grappled with the trance of bloodshed, the disembodying sensation of combat's action and reaction. At times, it was almost as if he watched himself fight. It was worse when he was angered... and though he was not filled with white-hot rage yet, each bloodied weapon drove him a step further.

Without much of a thought, the new knight cut the man clutching at the white pain that had exploded across his vision, a spray of red from his side coming forth as he fell. He had made his way past most of the mass of his brethren now, and was drawing even with Paladin Tyaethe, Knight-Captain Fanilly, and Artificer Elodie. He noted their presence and roughly what they were doing, that the latter was kneeling near the wounded man and the former pair were currently engaging enemies.

There were bandits yet in front of them, he intuited, like the one their Captain had just slain. If those turned tail and ran, they would doubtlessly break away from the group and report back to their 'Bandit King'. He would not abide this. They could not flee from what they had done. He wouldn't let them.

A bolt at a shallow angle bit into his pauldron, prompting the spear he carried to be stabbed thunderously into the brush on the right of him with its full length. His golden eyes, alight with intent to repay, caught the fleeting form of his assailant nimbly weaving past the strike, having already been in motion after loosing the crossbow, and tracked his movement—

The rumble of thunderous magic informed them both of the bandit's destination— fulminated death. The mages had began their counterattack as ordered, and around their section of woods harassing forces much like him met similar fates at the hands of the Iron Rose's arcane arm. Between the crack of lightning and kinetic jolt from the bolt that was now stuck within the padding beneath the plate, though, he returned somewhat from his combative fugue.

"The front," he breathed, addressing the group nearby as he was allowed a moment by the mages. "I believe we should cut it off. Pen them in like we originally planned."

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~ The Forest ~


Before the scouting party could be sent out, the party had encountered the wreck of a cart beside a large tree with an old man and a horse laying nearby. The Captain immediately dismounted to attend to the man, checking if he was alive. He was, but then he warned that he was but bait for an ambush.

And ambush there was. Three bolts from crossbows were shot at Fanilly but they fortunately missed, the Captain being nimble enough to get out of the way. But that was not the end of it though for a brigand in leather armor emerged from the wreck to continue the assault. Jarde's heart skipped a bit. "Captain! Watch ou--" He was cut off when his horse was hit.

While the bolts meant for the Captain missed their mark, the bolt shot at Jarde was true. At least it would have been if it were not for the strange essence he has on his necklace. The bolt, conspicuously, veered off from Jarde to his horse, hitting the equine right in the eye and quite deeply too. The animal neighed and rose in pain, throwing off Jarde, before falling into the forest floor, dead. The battle had begun and Jarde knew he had to get up as soon as possible.

He recovered as fast as possible and readied his eastern sickle weapons. The bandit band came charging from the thick forestry and the Iron Rose Knights met them. Jarde was about to engage a bandit axeman when an Iron Rose knight in ebony-colored armor attacked first, his sword striking the bandit through his wood shield and into his head.

"For Reon! For the Order!"
Fleuri Jodeau


Jarde was taken aback. A little disappointed at the denial but he shrugged it off and looked for another target. He saw the blue-haired Narcissa fight and kill a couple of bandits before engaging a third one. Jarde moved in to assist only for the red-haired Forina to get there first and kill the bandit and relieve Narcissa. He shrugged in annoyance. His blood was pumping yet here he was, mostly ignored. Jarde supposed he could be in worse situations.

The battle raged. Well, 'battle' implied two large parties fighting each other evenly. So far, the bandits have lost a considerable number of theirs while the Iron Rose Knights have only lost one horse, Jarde's specifically. The young knight joined the formation of knights around Fanilly, who had just murdered a bandit attacking her, and awaited orders. Seeing the dead brigand, Jarde realized he had not taken a life before. He wondered if he was really able to. Or will he just take them unwittingly in the heat of battle?

"Do not let them escape!"
Fanilly Danbalion


Jarde's train of thought was broken when the Captain issued an order. Now was not the time to ponder, it was the time to fight. He saw why Fanilly made the order, some of the attacking bandits were losing heart and may retreat soon and possibly tell their Bandit King that the Iron Rose Knights were coming. He devised a course of action and with his speed, he could pull it off. Being a speedy fighter, he had no place at the front where armored, shielded warriors held the line.

"You got it, Captain!"

Jarde raced around the battle lines and placed himself behind the bandit mob. With their crossbowmen suppressed and an Iron Rose knight causing havoc amongst their ranks, Jarde felt confident that he won't be targeted with bolts anytime soon. The disheartened bandits in the rear of the fighting turned around to face him and realized that despite wearing leather armor like them, Jarde was not one of them. One of the Knights, in fact.

The young knight was silent. Admittedly, he was scared and afraid and anxious. It was his first real fight and the one he picked could have him surrounded. So his mind was focused on the fight, eyeing the bandits for any sudden movement. At these moments, there were no jokes or humor for Jarde.

A bandit lunged at him with an overhead swing. Jarde saw that the attack was slow. His master's swings were much faster than that. The young knight caught the sword with both his sickles before moving one of them for the counterattack. Time seemed to slow for Jarde as he wondered where his sickle would hit. The bandit's vital parts were painfully open to attack and Jarde was trained to hit them but he could very well just cripple the man to be interrogated. On the other hand, his fellow knights were massacring the brigands with little problem.

The debate was brief. Time moved slow but it moved nonetheless and Jarde made his decision. The sickle's blade plunged into the bandit's neck. With a choking noise, the bandit died and fell to the ground. It was no time to ponder as his attention went to the living bandits. One of the further bandits took his chances and began to run away from the battle.

Distance was no problem for Jarde. At least, not great distances. The young knight released his right sickle, gripping the chain it was attached to it instead. With that, he swung his now long-ranged sickle and struck the bandit on the shoulder. With the sickle plunged, Jarde pulled the bandit into the ground before tugging the chain to release the sickle. By swinging it, Jarde wrapped the chain around his arm and returned the sickle to him. The bandit was left writhing on the forest floor.

Jarde turned back to the bandits, seeing desperation in their eyes. He realized that was not a good thing as that emboldened the bandits to attack him in an effort to break through. Some three brigands jumped on him and while they were slow and untrained, it'd take time for Jarde to deal with them without assistance.
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After dismounting her chestnut colored mare, Alyssa rushed to aid the fallen man. Only to realize it was an ambush set up by the bandits. She immediately pulled out her shield and deflected the incoming arrows aimed at her. While the others proceeded to form up and counterattack, Alyssa moved closer towards the farmer. She trusted them to cover her while she tends to the wounded.

She noticed Paladin Tyaethe and Artificer Elodie were already assisting the farmer. Much needed delay, the man's injuries appeared to be quite severe.

“I'm going to heal him!” She called out to the two. Needless to say, that offer stands for everyone else.

With her enchanted wand in hand, she pointed it at the farmer and chanted a twelve word healing spell to help stabilize him. Hopefully, she wasn't too late. If the farmer's life could be saved, surely he could provide some useful information regarding these lowlife bandits. But, that wasn't why she was healing him. Alyssa merely wanted to save an innocent life.

“Respite from the pain. Recover from the wounds. Return this body anew!”

A green colored aura emerged from the wand and tethered with the farmer's body. It took intense concentration for Alyssa to maintain the connection, she had to drown out the ongoing skirmish around her. All of the farmer's wounds were being mended and disinfected. The body was released from pain as internal injuries were gradually healing. Alyssa decided to wait for the farmer to regain consciousness before breaking the spell.

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Tyaethe Radistirin


Oh, they had a healer around for once. She had entirely forgotten; it was rare enough to have knights with any magical ability beyond the straightforward "pick an enemy to set on fire" option, let alone one competent at something such as healing. It was like those that had the ability to heal injuries were somewhat reluctant to attach themselves to the kingdom's most efficient source of rapid-response dismemberment. Not that Tyaethe was going to complain, it definitely freed her up even more than the artificer coming along...

"Like I would lower myself to feeding on bandits," the child sniffed, but Elodie had a point--and, at that, one of their newest knights had somehow managed to get in a pickle. With bandits. Honestly, it was pathetic, but Jarde might need help if left to get more surrounded.

With both hands on her sword, Tyaethe took the most dangerous and direct route to the very forefront of the conflict, even though it was by this stage certainly winding down: run straight ahead. The ease of it seemed almost comical, as if fate itself was looking out for her rather than awareness--but there was a slight hesitation before taking a step, slightly veering to one side to let a bolt pass, lowering her head as friendly magic passed into a bandit.

And then the flash of white was behind Jarde's opposition, blade swinging from ankle to shoulder and leaving two of the bandits in rather more pieces than the human body ought to be--and a light shove to push the third forward, into his range and completely exposed.

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Fleuri Jodeau


Through the chaos of the fighting, Fleuri could discern the captain's voice barking more orders.

"Do not let a single man escape! They cannot alert the camp to our presence!"

If there's was one advantage of having a sixteen year old girl in charge, it's that her voice certainly stands out, he mused. He looked over the nearest bandits, a scarred woman with a shortsword. His foe kept her distance, perhaps a bit shocked from seeing her buddy killed. Fleuri readied his sword and prepared to charge, when his concentration was disrupted by the impact of a crossbow bolt striking his left shoulder.

His pauldron deflected the quarrel, which tumbled and impacted harmlessly against his helmet. He was unharmed, but was all too aware as to how close the shot came to his neck. By Reon, that was close. Both his instincts and his anger concurred- he needed to take that crossbowman down as quickly as possible.

Before he could even scan the area for whoever shot at him, the sword bandit rush in, her earlier hesitation having evidently been to give her friend a clear shot. Fleuri raised his sword and brought it down as his assailant closed the distance. The brigand managed to bring herself to a halt of the tip of the greatsword, narrowly avoiding the downward swing, but kept at a distance by the sword's length. Before the brigand could regain her balance from the very sudden stop, however, Fleuri stepped forward and thrust his sword with all his might, pushing through his target's shoddy armor and skewering her through the chest.

He pulled his sword back and wrenched it free of the fatally injured bandit. Free of that distraction, he turned to his left, intent on finding who shot at him. Sure enough, there was a man frantically trying to reload a crossbow. Without skipping a beat, Fleuri charged. Seeing the knight coming at him, the man lose all nerve, dropped his crossbow, and turned to flee into the thicket. Fleuri was very briefly concerned that this bandit might actually escape to warn the others, lighter on his feet than the knight and no doubt more familiar with the terrain.

Fortunately for the Iron Roses, the man was not as familiar with the terrain as Fleuri thought. In his panic to escape, the bandit failed to notice an exposed tree root behind him, and tripped on it almost immediately. He hit the ground face-first, quarrels spilling from his quiver. It was a bit ironic, that he'd be undone by the same woods that he had relied upon for concealment.

Before the man could regain his senses, Fleuri was already standing over him, sword in hand.

"Stay down and don't make any moves, if you want to live," Fleuri spoke to the fallen bandit. "You can consider yourself a prisoner of the Iron Roses."
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Gillian


As the other knights scrambled about the battlefield, Gillian almost lazily steered Julia off the path and dismounted, taking his sweet time with the act. Parnella long since beat into him the lesson of staying calm during a fight. Not for any overly strategic reason, obviously. It was just that most folks were very hesitant to attack someone who walked through a battlefield like they owned the place. Less so if said person had several layers of metal grafted to their limbs.

After a quick moment to pat Julia on her flank he walked back into the chaos, as casually as one might a stroll through the woods. He took a moment to survey the goings on of the fight. The melee was pretty much handled, though it was hard for him to call it an elegant strategy. Most of the knights seemed only half interested in listening to the 'Captain's orders, barking their own commands as additions or throwing out their own counter strategies from what he could hear. But, credit to her where it was due, she'd atleast been the first one to give the order.

He broadened his circle around the combat, content to stay out of the brawl and work his way towards the back lines as the little girl had ordered. He got about half way when the crossbowmen-bandits finally noticed him, a small cluster of six closer to him turn and firing on him hurriedly. Gillian dropped low, his hands grasping into the earth as three poorly aimed reactionary shots whizzed past him. To give the poor bastards credit, they atleast proved to him in that volley they weren't entirely incompetent. Crossbows were great for ease of use, but most greenhorns tended to forget you were vulnerable during the slow reloading process. These gentlemen compensated as best they could, one half providing covering fire while the other reloaded.

Gill locked eyes with an aiming bandit, a honest and easy smile spreading across his lips as he silently congratulated as a familiar unnatural strength oozed into his arms. The bandit in question had about half a second to pull the trigger before Gillian launched himself at the squad, basically firing himself like a slingshot, deadly bolts thudding uselessly into the dirt where the knight once stood.

Gillian slammed into a bandit feet first, feeling something beneath the mans armor give way as the knight suddenly and violently decellerated on top of him and throwing him to the group. The bandit to his left, a short man with ruddy hair, screamed a curse as he turned his crossbow to Gillian, only to find a clawed hand slapping the weapon from his grasp and another plunge itself into his chest.

With the faint stunned gurgling from the man now impaled on his wrist, Gillian swung his free hand wide, clipping a retreating bandit across the shoulder and stumbling him as the four remaining members of the squad attempted to gain some distance. "FUCKING KILL IT!" One of the men screamed, firing his newly reloaded crossbow at the knight, the bolt going wide and sinking into the captive dying bandit. Gillian reached forward, snatching the bandits skull in his grasp and yanking downwards, a sickly crunch echoing in the vicinity as bone shattered against dirt.

Gillian wrenched his hand from the red heads chest, a soft squelching noise erupting from the soon to be cadaver as it feel limply to the ground. The two remaining bandits stared at him, both having abandoned their crossbows in favor of drawing short swords. Their guards were poor, arms too far apart and blades wavering in their shaking hands. Beneath him, his landing pad wheezed wetly. 'Punctured lung. Probably two.' Gillian noted dully, stepping off the man slowly as he kept himself low to the ground. Hunched and animal like, feeding into the remaining two bandits fear of the inhuman like thing that just tore through their companions and shocked them into stillness.

Fear tactics like this didn't always work. Especially not against more learned opponents. But Gillian knew from experience how well even a normally skilled fighter could simply dissolve into uselessness when scared enough. The left most bandit broke first; dropping his blade and turning to flee. His remaining companion turned to follow, a panicked scream cut short as white hot pain seared through him as claws rippled and played along his spine.

"I...I YIELD I YIELD!" The final bandit wailed, flinging himself into the swarming melee and rushing to the young captain as fast as his legs could carry him. "Call it off! Please call it off!" From the back of the bandit line, Gill watched the exchange for a moment, an amused grin slipping past his lips for a moment before turning his gaze to what few bandit crossbow men remained, slinking towards them with a predatory gait.
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Indrau rode along with the lead knights, a grim look on his face. He had a special, deeply rooted hatred for bandits. There would be no mercy from those that exploit those weaker than them, no matter the excuse. Strength of arms should be used in a virtuous manner and if he had his way the knights would express their strength most virtuously by charging straight down the bandits throats.

But all of this talk of scouting bothered him. They would be dismounting to go on foot anyway and sending a smaller scouting force would be just asking for the knights involved to get rolled up in an ambush if there was one. Better to forge ahead in force and strike all at once with overwhelming numbers.

They came upon the wagon and they were already well past the point when cavalry stopped being a help so he was already dismounting when the Captain sounded the call to arms.

Indrau didn’t rush in, but strode purposefully forward with the point of his blade leading the way and a slender, steel clad walking stick aiding his steps. The slow advance gave the bandits time to raise their weapons against him but this didn’t grant them any special advantage. Even before his injuries He was a gifted fencer and now he was only better. Indrau batted aside the first sword he came up against and disemboweled his target with the backstroke.

He made his way to where Tyeathe was, not quite agreeing with her priorities in first aiding the farmer but not quite as disapproving as Elodie had been either. Peasants turned into bandits were little more than a momentary resistance to the knights. Doubtlessly there would be a harder force holding the main camp. Along the way he downed a handful of others, none lasting more than a couple of swings before he landed either a mortal blow or a crippling wound.

"This felt like only a token force. I foresee more hardened opposition in the main camp. Perhaps some deserters as well."

His expression made it plain to see that this last part was distasteful to even consider.
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To say the battle was one-sided would have been an understatement. There was a single casualty among the Iron Rose Knights: Sir Jarde's unfortunate horse. Of course, for an order such as the Iron Roses, no-one should have been expected to die against mere bandits, even if Fanilly had been unable to prevent herself from fearing such a thing.

On the side of the bandits, however...

The forest now lay littered with the dead and dying. Fanilly had ordered her knights to finish any who were fatally injured but not yet dead. While the bandits were certainly murderers and thieves, the Iron Rose stood not only for justice, but also mercy. Undue suffering could not be allowed, and Fanilly would not be the captain who allowed it. Those who were going to die would be given a swift death, while those who lived would be brought to justice.

"Bind the hands and feet of the survivors and take them to the cart," Fanilly ordered, as she walked through the remains of the swift battle. It was... she'd never quite seen the remains of even a small engagement such as this first-hand, and it was still somewhat jarring. But she couldn't allow it to show. She was the Knight-Captain of the Iron Roses, and she had to keep herself as calm as possible.

The Iron Rose Knights stood for justice and mercy, but they also stood for retribution against those who harmed or sought to harm the innocent. As bloody as it was, this too was part of their duty. Fanilly had learned enough of Thaln's history, of the history of the order, to know that.

The most important thing now...

Fanilly raised her sword, and approached one of the as-of-yet unbound men who had surrendered. He had been quite terrified of Sir Gillian and surrendered directly to her out of fear.

She pointed the tip of her blade towards him. He was the most shaken out of all of them, and the most likely to talk if interrogated.

"Are there any further ambushes?"

Frantically he shook his head, and Fanilly cleaned her sword before sheathing it.

At the very least, now the path forward seemed obvious. She took a deep breath, attempting to gather her thoughts before speaking. There was a clear path forward now. The bandits were unaware of their presence, and while taking their time and deploying a scouting party no longer seemed wise due to an engagement already having occurred(or was it? Fanilly wasn't certain) they still had a plan in place. Encircling the camp from all sides, and moving inwards. It wasn't complicated, but it would cut off every possible escape root and ensure the 'Bandit King' couldn't flee. Additionally, they had already cut down a relatively sizable number of the bandits, meaning the force remaining at the camp would be somewhat smaller.

But... it was strange. While such an ambush was clever(and cruel, the poor farmer seemed to be recovering thanks to the swift attention at the very least however), how could such bandits have taken on the King's Men and won?

Was there something Fanilly hadn't realized yet?

For now, however, it was time to wait until the knights were ready to move on, after the surrendered bandits were imprisoned. They had to reach the camp soon.

Fanilly had to make up for any mistakes, both those she knew she had made(she could have secured the area before tending to the wounded man, but he seemed in dire straits...) and those she was perhaps as of yet unaware of. She had to. She couldn't stop.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by jdh97
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Jerel Ban

Chaos unfurled, an unwelcome flower. Ter took off in a flutter of blue. The world lurched as William reared, but Jerel had stayed put to much worse before. Pulling on the reins, Jerel urged his horse to spin around; his eyes went immediately to search the scrub and bush that circled around behind them. His comrades could handle all else, he’d wager his life upon it.

Like a heavy river stone, Jerel sank into the Stillness. Cold calm consumed him. The clamour and din of battle that fell over the forest seemed so distant. Breath, the in and out rhythm of life, slowed, under total control. Anger and fear slipped along the surface of the Stillness, but deep within Jerel was untouched. Emotions left him like water sinking into the earth. He was in control. Light cut everything into sharp focus, as though a million hues were suddenly revealed from their hiding places.

Movement. The scamper of men covered in mud and earth and green, moving to flank the party from the rear. A hand came up, his own, and knocked an arrow. Tension. In and out. The arrow was loosed, and struck deep into the chest of an approaching man, the flame of his life extinguished. Another arrow was knocked and drawn before he even hit the ground.

The rest gave up all pretence of sneaking and charged. Two men were running close together, so Jerel leant back in his saddle, tapping a rune on his bow with a thumb, finding the right angle to… fire! A silver-blue streak marred the air, and in the far distance a tree shed its bark in a small shower, an arrow embedded deeply within. The trail hung in the air for a moment - it had passed through the two men - then faded. They both stumbled forwards, bereft of life, the arrow having cleanly passed through their vitals.

One man left, eyes wide, ten metres out. Fearful eyes, full of white, eyes like those of a deer dying in its own blood. Desperate, helpless. He turned to run, stumbling. To show mercy now would be folly. Jerel looked down the shaft of another arrow, ready. He let it fly. His mind, detached as it was, muttered a small prayer for all the poor souls here. They were only a handful of poor or cowardly decisions removed from the people the knights were sworn to protect.

Pain. Deep, and burning. It reached down into the Stillness, and threatened to break it. The world shifted as the Stillness flexed. Jerel hit the ground hard. The air was driven from his lungs. The Stillness shattered. The world rushed back, slamming into Jerel’s mind, his ears, his body. He cried out. A spear was driven into his left shoulder, a bandit above him, fully utilising the leverage to keep Jerel pinned. Both the knight’s hands were clenched on the shaft, trying to push back, arms quivering, failing fast. He could not die here. Not like this.

A flash of blue. A new cry of agony to mix with the medley of death and dying. Red spattered, mixing with Jerel’s blood on the leaf covered floor. The bandit dropped the spear, pressing both hands to his eyes. Ter cried out, circling about to strike the bandit again, gashing the side of his head and knocking the man to the floor.

Jerel tugged the spear free and scrambled to his feet, drawing his sword. The bandit lay writhing and whimpering. Ter landed on a nearby tree, watching. Jerel raised his sword, then lowered it, and looked about.

The battle was over. He orientated himself; the River Knight unmistakable, the large group of knights unmissable. To kill now would be butchery, worse than they had already committed. Jerel sheathed his blade, retrieved his bow, and whistled for William. He grabbed the bandit by the scruff of the neck and hauled him over in the direction of the Knight-Captain, ignoring his ravings.

The smell hit Jerel sure as any fist - detritus mixed with blood and other bodily substances. It was all he could do to keep standing. The aftermath of the main battle was… Jerel was, for a brief moment, envious the bandit that he dragged behind had lost his vision.

“Dame Eleanora,” Jerel said, “This one needs your arts, perhaps bind him before,” he shoved the bandit forward, and winced, hissing through gritted teeth and more blood pulsed from his shoulder. “As do I,” he added, “I was careless.”

Jerel watched as Fanilly held the man at swordpoint, his expression unreadable as they rested on the young captain. His eyes flitted to each of his companions, eyebrows raised in unspoken question.

“What now then?”
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