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I'm glad we're taking the Johan joke to its logical extreme. Somewhere along the way we're gonna meet an NPC who isn't named Johan and we're all going to be suspicious that he's lying about his true name...

The following morning Guy de le Guerre awoke with the rising sun, feeling and looking much fresher than he’d been the previous evening. After the eventful exposition downstairs, he’d retired to his purchased quarters, spending the scant few extra pennies on a tub of hot water and a sharp razor to preform the traditional Bretonnian preening. Scraping the fuzz from his chin and trimming the curling locks by a good three inches did wonders on their own merit, but the bath and a fresh pair of breeches and tunic finished the transformation off, très bon.

Sighing in content he strode lazily over to his single window, throwing open the wooden shutters to allow the eastern sun free access. Fresh forest air wafted indoors smelling of rain and pine chasing away all the worries he still possessed about his ever-dwindling currency supply. If there is one thing I shall bring back to Bretonnia, he considered staring down at the commonfolk going about their morning duties. It will be the sewers. How Imperial towns of this size do not smell solely of dung and pestilence is a marvel, and one sorely needed at my father’s fiefdom. Perhaps my brother and I shall bring back one of their architects, to design a system. Wouldn’t that put a smile on his face, seeing his sons return full Knights of the Realm with gifts to boot. Smiling at this optimistic notion he knelt reciting his morning prayers before the sun, as always begging for strength and guidance. The practiced words did not take long for the young knight to articulate and before the half hour he’d risen, sheathed his sword, and oiled his armor, packing it away under his bed. His morning ritual finished he proceeded promptly down to the stables where his unnamed mare had waited out the night, chewing contentedly at a few flakes of hay he’d thrown for her.

He met the stable boy by the door, who was already hard at work shoveling soiled straw into a wheelbarrow. The heavyset lad perhaps a year Guy’s senior perked up at the accent, seeming to think this Bretonnian might be as generous as the last. He began retelling how fervently he’d cared for the blood bay, grooming and brushing the mud from her mane and fur as if he was tending the Emperor’s own noble steed. Whatever reward he might have expected for his extra efforts however were waved away and rebuffed by the haughty adolescent.

“You, cared for her? Bah, do not make me laugh you foolish peon, you do not look to know a bridle from a halter. Hurry along now, fetch me a pick and brush, I shall attend her needs personally.” From learned experience Guy knew that only the best taverns throughout the Empire possessed stable hands of merit, and the Ogre’s Maw did not enjoy an air of an establishment that hired proper stable masters. Besides, he had been caring for his particularly perfectionist father’s horses since his fourth nameday and knew the business well. When it came to his only mount Guy reasoned only the best would suffice. Sure enough, after a few minutes of diligent searching he discovered a few clumps of mud clinging at her girth, and a pebble lodged in her right forehoof all of which were removed with a few economic flicks of his wrist.

I ought to have him whipped for selling lies. Have these Imperial commoners no respect for the diligence of the nobility? I suppose the layman would soak in his falsehoods and pay him handsomely for his services, leading him to think he might hoodwink anyone. Guy groused as he tossed away the tools, giving his mare a few heartfelt pats on her sturdy neck. He grinned, somewhat maliciously at the notion of pursuing just such a tactic. It was something his uncle would do semi-religiously, but his father would consider it petty no doubt. Guy tossed the idea away, continuing to pet the loyal beast who’d carried him this far, his hand traveling up until it was scratching behind her ears beneath the dark mane. She deserved a name he knew, but none he could invoked seemed to fit the surefooted mount. Naming pets and horses was Phillipe’s specialty, his brother always had a knack for finding the perfect label in the space of a heartbeat. His own Erranty horse had been dubbed Bonjour un-jour and it suited his grey charger perfectly. Perhaps once they reunited Phillipe would once again conjure up the perfect name for Guy’s mare, Quest Finisher, or Oathkeeper or something. Guy shook himself, grinning self-consciously once the supposed names sank in. Those were terrible. He nearly laughed aloud, but merely gave the unnamed mare one last good-natured pat before heading back indoors.

His good mood was cut short as he stepped through the door that separated the stables and the common. His eyes immediately locking upon the face of the Bretonnian mercenary who’d spoken to him the night before. Jehan le Cordelier as he had introduced himself so boldly, proudly carrying the Imperial black powder weaponry, and forgoing the sigil of his father, as if the precious heraldry meant nothing. Guy for his part wore the Crimson Raven like the badge of honor it was, his separated from those of his brothers and father by a delicate white rose clutched gingerly in one talon, as the red death-bird spread its mighty wings in defiance against all evil. Jehan wore none, most probably because any fallen Bretonnian knight would be hunted to the ends of the earth by their extended family should the fallen wear the house’s symbols in dishonorable fashion. This way he could act as a gold biting mercenary without wrathful second cousins shadowing his every move. When they’d spoken briefly the previous evening Guy had been too enthralled in the events surrounding the man Johan Sebastian Bock and the other colorful figures to give Jehan much thought. He’d watched as the adults- No, he was a man grown, and no longer needed to think of them as his seniors, - the company concluded their business and departed, as his exhausted brain put together the different facts ultimately drawing the only possible conclusion for Jehan’s past. A fallen Knight, spurning Lady and blood and oath in pursuit of gold.

“Jehan le Cordelier,” He spat the name out in Reikspiel as if it was some foul excrement not worthy of their native tongue. His fingers dropped until they were resting on his sword’s leather-bound hilt, ready at a moment’s notice. He’d left his armor upstairs, but the tough embroidered doublet, and travel cloak would serve to stave off shallow cuts, and Guy was confident enough in his skill that he could win, should his needling provoke the dishonored Breton into action. “I see you have not yet departed to serve as the errand boy for the lesser folk, to scrounge your meals at the generosity of employers, and further dishonor your family’s proud name. Cordelier, I do not recognize this House, but I can only imagine how your ancestors suffer in their graves at the shame you bring upon them. I, Guy de le Guerre am half a mind to ease their pain…” Guy’s tone was harsh, and his barbed underlying threats were not withheld, but he did not feel them, not truly. His tone shifted as he wondered what would drive a noble son to forsake everything and live as Jehan did. Deep within Guy felt a jolt of hurt and confusion, and part of him did not want to admit even to himself how uncertain he felt.

“Why would you break your vows?” He asked suddenly in High Bretonnian, unable to maintain the air of cold indifference as his voice hesitated ever so slightly. “Were you not like me once, a Knight Errant? And – and the Lady, and your father, and your kin and everything we swore to uphold? How do you reconcile betraying everything?”

Yeah, sorry Ty, I’ve just been real busy IRL and flying a bunch, but I’ve got a free day today so my post should be up soon, it’s almost finished actually. Just one from Guy’s perspective, then we could do a collab, from Jehan’s POV if you’d like.

This is getting really out of hand, now there are, *does quick count* five of them!

@TyrannosaursRex Can Guy spot Jehan down in the tavern common in the morning? So we can get things started in their blossoming rivalry?

@TyrannosaursRex I could have Guy start a little spat with Jehan if you're so willing?

Also FYI, Guy will not be volunteering to join Johan's expedition for the time being, because of his quest and honor and all that fluff, and if anyone suggests he should he'll probably scoff at such a ridiculous notion. His motivation to join will come later through the boy, whenever he wakes up.

Johan is the Robert of the Empire of Man.

@Penny Interested in doing a quick collab from Marguerite's POV, so she can ask whatever necessary questions of Guy and what not?
@Dusty Excellent post, are you sure you're not a Bretonnian knight in reality?

Non, non you ‘ave no proof monsieur!

Alright, its up. Lemme know if it conflicts with y'all at all.
The Breton boy rose to his feet, hot tears sprouting unbidden from his eyes as his weary body protested the sudden movement for all it was worth. How dare he! How could he, a son of Guerre and Bretonnia fall asleep like some child while at his prayers? To dishonor his name was one thing, but to spurn his sacred duty to the lady because he was tired? A tidal wave of shame washed over Guy de le Guerre as he angrily rubbed at his face, his fingers brushing briefly over the thin layer of dark stubble on his cheek. The product of a fortnight’s growth he guessed. To any passerby he must have looked the part of an unkempt urchin, stinking of horse and the road. The knees on his woolen breeches were stained by the grass, his once fine doublet was fraying at the hem, and his hair was a wild mess of raven curls, long overdue for a good trimming. A far cry from the noble picture he’d cut departing from his castle home in the lands of the Duchy of Bastonne. Guy dropped to his knees, sharp pangs forcing him to grit his teeth as he curled his thin fingers around the hilt of his sword, head bowing in humble reverence.

He prayed again, begging forgiveness for his transgression, requesting strength and guidance through this hostile foreign land, and pleading for some sign to show that he was on the right path. Whether the Lady heard his cries so far from their homeland he did not know, but he prayed nevertheless as his father had taught him, pouring his heart out into his last source of hope. How long he remained there, silent he could not say, it was only when the first droplets of rain struck his neck that he was jolted back into the land of the living.

How long have I slept? He wondered, looking to what he’d remembered being the morning sky, now shrouded by dark clouds heralding nasty weather. This road looks to be well traveled; how many could have passed me by as I snored away valuable daylight hours? Surely, I would have been seen and heard easily, I am only a few paces into the trees. I am a fortunate fool to not have lost my sword, my horse, and my purse while I rested in sacrilegious slumber!

Guy rose unsteadily, his legs tingling as the blood returned. How he would have loved to sink back down beneath the cover of the trees and rest his eyes for a little longer. The grass looked comfortable and welcoming in his current physicality, and his heavy cloak would keep him warm. Clenching his jaw Guy banished such traitorous thoughts. Had he not spent the better part of the hour asking for the strength to go on? Besides, distant rolls of thunder and heavy clouds promised a deluge before nightfall, and Guy did not fancy another sleepless night beneath the elements. He whipped his sword up with an irate twist from the earth where’d it’d sunk near half its length beneath the weight of his bowed head. Drawing the honed battle edge across his doublet he wiped it clean of loam before sheathing it safely at his hip. The familiar weight was comforting at least, like having a reliable friend at his side. His only friend now, Guy reminded himself as he gazed upon unfamiliar woodland.

The rain began to fall in earnest by the time Guy remounted and retook the road, forcing him to draw up his hood and clasp his cloak tight around his shoulders. Nevertheless, he shivered as fierce northern winds snaked through the trees biting deep through the fabric’s folds. Struggling to keep his exhausted steed centered Guy took the time to double check his baggage, ensuring the leather bags containing his maille and shield were sealed tight against the downpour. He was about to continue along his way when he felt the dun mare beneath him shrink, ever so slightly, ears twitching with wary attentiveness. A crack of a breaking branch alerted Guy to what had startled his horse and he laid a hand upon his sword hilt.

“…Bonjour?” He began, then remembering where he was, he started again. “Hello, who approaches?” Guy felt a tightening in his gut as the guttural heavily accented Reikspiel rolled off his tongue. He’d been warned many times by the locals that the Reikwald held many dangers for those traveling alone, bandits being the least of them. The last thing I desire right now is a fight, I nor the horse are capable. Plague and pestilence my eyes feel as heavy as lead weights and my fingers are cold, and clumsier than a newborn foal. Guy was jolted from his thoughts when a dark skinny shape leapt from the tree line taking too shaky steps onto the muddy road before collapsing in an expended heap. The mare and knight jumped together, the horse shying away from the offending form and Guy drawing his sword in one swift swish, cold and tiredness forgotten in a surge of adrenalin. For the space of a few tense heartbeats they sat in silent caution, ready for the shape to rise and attack.

Then Guy began to laugh. A weak, frightened laugh but a spate of nervous humor, nonetheless. “Naught but a child, girl.” He soothed the horse in High Bretonnian, clicking his tongue until he felt the mare ease beneath him. “A muddy, skinny little boy lost from his home no doubt. Not the terrifying monster we imagined hm?” Flicking the reins Guy made to ride around the prostrate body when the boy shifted, a gleam of blood on his lips, his gaunt haunted eyes rooting Guy to the spot.

“P-please.” He whimpered, barely audible over the driving rain.

Please, but please what? Guy frowned, glaring down at the boy. In truth he could not have been much younger than the knight, three or four years at the most, but he was nothing but skin stretched taunt over bone. “I have nothing for you.” Guy said at last wondering why he couldn’t bring himself to just ignore the peasant and ride on. Starving commoners was nothing new, yet something in those sad grey eyes kept him stationary. “…I have no food or coin to spare, and little time to waste before this rain kills us both of cold.”

“Schartenfeld!” The boy rasped chattering the word to such a degree that the Breton could not understand.


“…Town… w-warn.” He pointed shakily down the road, in the direction Guy had been traveling.

“Boy, make yourself understood!” Guy snapped, growing annoyed at the pitiful statements. “I do not speak this tongue well, and the rain builds up such a racket. You must be clear.” No response came from the thin form to such a degree that Guy began to wonder if he had perished there on the road. But no, looking closer he could see the bloated stomach move ever so slightly with each pained breath.

Passed out then, and all the better for him, his passing may be gentler. May whatever god you worship accept your soul you poor child… But what were you trying to say? Warn… Town? I know those words, but where have I heard Schartenfeld before? A name perhaps, his name? Or maybe the name of this town, yes, I think I heard mention of this place, a village here in the Reikwald. Then he is a messenger, on a mission to warn Schartenfeld! But warn them of what? I cannot relay news of a threat of which I know nothing about… At long last Guy released a frustrated groan rolling his eyes skyward.

“For the Lady I do the most unpleasurable things." Guy groused aloud. "But of all the things, this? I will become known as Guy the Peasant Portage, he who lends his horse to whoever ask. Perhaps I should even charge a few penny fee? Bah, this warning better be serious.” Slipping down from the saddle Guy bent over the body, scooping the child up with shocking ease. Lice and fire this child must be at least twelve, but he weighs next to nothing, and all I feel are bones. Securing him in front of the saddle took little effort despite Guy’s own weariness, and soon they were off once again at a steady lope. Keeping one hand wrapped securely around the boy’s waist, and the other resting on his pommel he guided the mare with his knees, peering through the thickening sheets for any sign of habitation in the distance, while glancing regularly over his shoulder, mindful that whatever the boy had been running from might not be far behind. It was an hour before he saw lights, the watchman’s lantern bobbing along as the unlucky bastard given watch in the foul weather made his rounds.

He wasn’t a very good guard Guy discovered as he rode nearly over the top of the unsuspecting man, who was keeping his hood tight and his head bowed. “Open the gate!” He snapped when he wasn’t hailed, the man jumped fumbling with his lantern.

“Err, say who’re you old chap?”

“I am a knight.” Guy replied in haughty self-assuredness, stating his rank rather than his name. His noble blood alone should lend him swift entrance, and he wasn’t wrong. Upon seeing the soaked crimson raven embroidered upon the young man’s chest the watchmen made quick his duties of opening the gate just enough that Guy and his mare could slip inside, saluting their passing in the Imperial fashion.

“Point me towards the nearest, cheap establishment.” Guy ordered once they were inside and the gate was barred against the wind. He wanted out of the rain, and he did not have time to bandy words. “One with a fire and something hot to drink.”

“Is that kid alright? Er I mean, The Ogres’ Maw fits the bill sir.” The Watchman frowned lowering his hand, recalling the Breton’s rank. “But it doesn’t suit one of your stature sir, perhaps th’ Blu-”

“It will suffice” Guy kicked at his mare’s flanks leading her towards the building that’d been pointed out too him. In truth he possessed little coin. His foray into the Empire had been a long one, and while he had never dared live the life of luxury, Guy appreciated a bed and a warm meal, and his coinage reflected that. Sigmarites had an annoying habit of expecting payment for their services, whereas a noble son in the fair lands of Bretonnia need not even bring currency on his journeying. Every peasant was expected to provide when a knight came calling. Guy had been prepared of course, but his purse was lighter than ever, and he did not wish to waste it on unnecessary expenses.

Leaving the mare for the time being Guy scooped the boy up with awkward uncertainty, cradling him as he pushed through the heavy door, kicking it shut behind him. Not sparing a single glance to the other patrons making their confusion and concern known he made a beeline for the fireplace, shooing away the pair of dogs near it and settling the child upon the warm earthen floor…
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