Feb. 28, 2017, 7 p.m.
Hellfrog's Dynamic GMing Room <OOC Room>
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The Shepherds has started at Hellfrog's Dynamic GMing Room <OOC Room>.
The nights are cold here in the forest, and the trees grow rigid and pale in these, the first days of winter. It makes the fire that the three Knights sit around all the more coveted, and more than a dozen other campfires are in sight among the small village of tents that dominates this meadow. Countless other fires send wisps of smoke up into the air, briefly visible before the frigid wind dashes them. This isn't a good spot to make camp, at all. The camp is too exposed, and the trees that line the meadow cast a menacing shadow that no eye can see through. All manner of creature might be in there, drawn by the soft baying of sheep and the gentle moo of cattle that the refugees could not be parted from. After all, with winter oncoming, a peasants livestock is their livleyhood.
But it couldn't be helped. The people needed rest after a hard day's march. Dagon hardly expected so many refugees to still be in the countryside villages, but the local militias are probably tied up with their own duties elsewhere, making defenses to combat the incoming Bringers. It's a thought that weighs heavily on Dagon's mind, as he stares into the campfire, the other Knights around him. Except for Tristram. Tristram is probably off getting more firewood.
Serafine is in her armor, the usual that she wears when she patrols for the Iron Guard, even wearing their trademark cloak. Her helm is on her hip and held in place with her arm, long dark hair pulled back in a tail to stream down the back of her armor. She's looking at the edges of the camp, listening to the fussing and noise of the living and their livestock. She's uncharacteristically quiet, but she's less talkative on these forays and missions. She has two blades, one at each hip. She glances at the others with her, Dagon she knows, Reese, less so. Tristram, of course. Where is he? Firewood. Right.
Tristram has spent the last few days in a sort of seclusion, and as he travelled with Dagon, Serafine, Reese and the refugees, his demeanor hasn't changed much. The usually ebullient Valardin has been uncharacteristically withdrawn amongst the nobles, not speaking much although still polite, although he's been quite kind and pleasant with the refugees, the only time he has seemed to relax at all is when he is grooming his large charcoal-gray destrier Shade, and when he's been cooking for the refugees. As those who've visited the Training Center are aware, the noble is a deft cook--and that is the case now, as he insists on finding the firewood for the cookfires, because he also needed some herbs for the stew he'd be making. And so he rides into the camp this evening, a bundle of firewood on the back of Shade, herbs and spices in the saddlebags, and he proceeds to unload them.
Reese is at the the campfire while wearing her brown traveling leathers instead of her normal steel. After all the metal gets heavy after a while. It is hard to wear for several days straight while traveling and will be even more difficult to sleep in when her turn off watch comes. These leathers are high quality and adorned with small pink roses. Her swords are pink as well. She looks toward the other noble warriors at their fire, sucking in a soft breath and stating what is already known by everyone. "Not a great place to camp, but we really didn't have a choice." She says, looking over the forest around them pensively as if searching for bringers. She glances toward Tristram as he returns with the firewood, seemingly relieved he made it back safely.
"We'll make it work," Dagon tells Reese, voice low. He stands up, knees popping from their stiffness. He's been sitting there on a log by the fire for some time, in contemplation. The pri-- duke has done his best to be a source of reassurance for his companions, smiling brightly, and helping organize the refugees when needed. And otherwise, he's quiet. Nothing new there -- he's often reserved, when he's not too busy being polite or honorable.
Passing Serafine by with a soft clap of a hand to her shoulder, he goes to help Tristram unload the supplies. "You're safe," he notes, pointing out the obvious. But in that, there's an implication. If Tristram is safe, so too, might their camp. He stretches his hands high up into the sky, getting a pop out of his back.
The knight smiles at Dagon as he passes, still not ready to relax yet. Serafine is on edge but only just enough to pay attention, eyes flicking, ears listening, all checking for anything unusual. The livestock are at ease which means -they- sense nothing amiss, neither do the horses. She glances at the duke as he stretches, looking to Tristram as aye, he returns unharmed.
"How many villages do we have left?" Serafine asks quietly. "Or is this the lot for now?"
Reese lifts her gaze to Dagon, nodding in response to his words. "We will." She says, agreeing and seemingly encouraged. She keeps her Iron Guard cloak around her shoulders for extra warmth, a cloak very much like the one that Serafine wears. The princesses seem to have a few points in common. Reese listens to knight's question, curious as what the answer will be.
Tristram hangs out near the separate cookfire that was kept in banked embers til his return and tended to by some of the kids amongst the refugees; self-appointed 'cook's helpers' eager to spend time amongst the soldiers. Feeding firewood into the fire and setting up the stewpot to bring it to a boil, he sprinkles herbs in along with the game fowl they'd found earlier that day for the stew along with a bunch of root vegetables. The food's not fancy, nor much meat, but it will stretch in the pot to give them all a bit to keep their bellies warm in the winter night.
"This is it. It's only two days to Bastion. Once we have them there, we only need to worry about getting home," Dagon explains for Serafine, his midnight blues ticking to look over the shanty-town of tents they have assembled here in the meadow. His brow furrows, "I doubt we could provide for any more refugees. Too much more and we might as well start sending off signal fires for every bandit and shav tribe in the forest." Although, that's pretty much what the camp ground has amounted to. One giant signal fire. "Gods, that makes my stomach tighten," Dagon mutters, looking over Tristram's stew. "I knew I brought you for a reason."
As the duke speaks, a pale face peeks out from the shadows in between two far away tents. But it is not some monster, or a bringer, but a little girl -- probably the sister of one of the boys who tended Tristram's cook fire. The girl looks between Serafine and Reese... and then to the latter she murmurs: "I like the roses on your shirt." As if bragging, she turns to tell Serafine, "I'm going to have gold roses on -my- shirt, some day."
Serafine moves to squat before the little girl, smiling warmly at her as her leather creaks. "Oh aye? Roses are nice, it's true. But don't stop there. Jasmine is pretty as well. Honeysuckle too. Violets. Apple blossoms. My daughters liked the wild flowers that grow north of Caith, in the spring the fields would look like a living rainbow. I'm sure the woods and the lands around here are just as pretty. But roses are your favorite?" She points at her own armor, the thistle blossoms amid the foxes stylized there and here. "I like this one. It's bright pink, lots of spikes. Lovely and hardy, it can grow anywhere." She grins. "Something I do."
Reese seems relieved when Dagon reveals that they are only two days away. Her attention travels over the camp ground just a bit nervously. Still she tries to think positive. When the little girl arrives for a moment Reese tenses in a matter that suggests she was expecting trouble. She smiles when realizes the shadow is a child. "Thank you. Gold roses will be very lovely. I can't wait to see you in such." She murmurs and then falls silent as Serafine speaks. "Pink with spikes. I like it." She says when she finishes. "When we get into Compact, I can get you a shirt with gold hued roses on it." She says, but maybe is thinking /if/ we make it back.
Tristram smiles at the group from where he's stirring the stew and sprinkling things in, saying, "We are at capacity in terms of how many we can feed; but I think we've got enough for the next two days at least, so long as the game holds out enough. At least I brought enough spices to make it interesting, the Lycene traders had just enough in stock to cover our trip. Else this stew would be as boring as eating boiled leather." A slight grin. "I think we've got a slim enough profile that we might escape notice. You picked a good, defensible position to camp, or at least the best we could do in the circumstances." With a somewhat conspiratorial grin he mouths, "I have enough honey for dessert tonight!"
"Spikes?" It's obvious that the roses that the girl envisioned don't necessarily have spiked. But as Serafine talks, she shrugs, and bobs her head. "I 'spose that'd be good. So nobody can grab you, right?" Her eyes dart to Reese then, wide-eyed. "Oh no. No, no, miss ma'am. People in my neighborhood would steal it! They'd beat me something fierce and take it!"
Dagon's gaze ticks towards the girl, and a fond smile parts his lips -- eyes distant for a time. Likely imagining some little girl in his past... or maybe a little girl in his future. At Tristram's words he snaps back to reality, staring around at the meadow. "Too open. But camping against the river would be suicide, were we to be attack--" he cuts himself off, as the little girl at the campfire begins to notice his words. "Ah... nevermind," Dagon mutters. Lowly, he tells Tristram, "That will be good. Cheer us up a bit. Maybe give the girl some too, before her parents come steal her away."
Serafine smiles fondly at the little girl, leather armor creaking again as she moves to stand. "If a person knows the spikes are there, they can be avoided. But aye, so no one can grab me." She grins at Reese and shrugs as if to say, 'ah, kids?' and looks to Tristram and Dagon. Serafine isn't especially hungry, but food wouldn't hurt. She catches the word 'honey' and her stomach makes a liar out of her, growling loudly. The knight has the grace to look sheepish, snickering at herself.
"My swords are kind of like pink spikes." Reese says mostly to herself, before looking back toward child. The Grayson princess was born to great wealth and so the child's words kind of shock her. "I didn't think of that. I should have thought of that." She says, having the grace to blush as if suddenly aware of her own ignorance in this matter. "In Compact the Iron Guard should be able to keep that from happening thought." She says with the idealistic hopefulness of one who wants to believe that is true. Is it true though? Maybe not. Reese seems to realize this and sighs softly. "Maybe something that won't be stolen then." She looks over to Tristram and his food. He is so resourceful! Things are awkward between them, so she gives him space though, not drawing close for food. She has rations though, plenty of rations from the Grayson stores. She tries share some of her dried beef with the child.
Tristram finishes the stew--pouring four bowls for the team, and nodding to the older boys to have them carry the giant pot out to feed the mass of refugees. One at a time he brings them to Reese, Dagon, and Serafine, then sits down himself at the small campfire they have. He nods to the girl so she can go and eat with the other kids and sets down his bowl, but before he sits down to eat, he removes a handful of arrows from his quiver and sticks them into the dirt near his place by the fire, where they join his strung bow. If he's got to stand up suddenly, he wants to make sure he doesn't fumble his quiver. He says, "Aye, Dagon, it's open; but I like that in the night because it's easier to see them from afar. I'll be glad when we can smother the fires a bit so we're not night-blinded, but this really -is- the best place we could stay. And I already told the parents to send the kids here when they're done for the honey; I brought a few combs courtesy of Duke Cristoph, enough for us and the kids. I've also got maple bacon peanut brittle left for tomorrow; as well as extra for gifts to the lords of Bastion." To Reese he says, "Your swords are really -deadly- pink spikes!" somewhat enthusiastically. Then he starts eating the stew with a spoon, winking at Serafine. He must've heard that stomach growl!
The little girl smiles widely at Reese and nods, sending her ponytail bouncing. "I love gifts," she states this in a manner-of-fact way, as if it should be the most obvious thing in the world. After all, who doesn't like gifts? And just like that, she receives one -- food. "Thank you!" She tells Reese, before setting into the spot Serafine just vacated to nibble at her morsel. Her pale blue eyes stare after Serafine, pondering over all the floral designs as she stuffs her chubby, dirt-marked cheeks with meat. When the real meal comes out though, she gives Reese a quick hug, telling her: "I should go eat with my family!" Then she's running off -- but not before giving the last bit of her beef jerky into Serafine's hands. "Here, ma'am. You can have the rest of that. So... thistle, right?" Then she's skipping off.
Dagon, for his part, nods to Tristram. As the food is handed out, he has very few words -- and it's all he can do to not eat before the ladies. Ever the gentleman, even on military rations. "Gifts for the lords of Bastion?" He echoes mildly. "I hope you brought them catapults. They're likely to need them."
Serafine points at Dagon. "Eat. Now." She looks at Tristram. "You too. Chivalry is silly out here, fight breaks out, you forget to eat, get weak, die on us, and then we all die. Eat." She winks over her bowl and starts to stuff her face, just fast enough to be efficient without making herself sick. She winks at the little girl and pockets the jerky for later when she's on watch and peckish. She's no creampuff, Serafine Athalie Velenosa. Sturdy and hardy, short, thick, she knows how to keep herself hale and whole.
"So we pack camp, leave tomorrow at first light?" she asks. "What's our schedule?"
Reese takes the offered bowl from Tristram, having a smile for the archer. "Thank you prince Tristram." She says in his direction. She then listens to his words. "Maybe open is good." She murmurs looking over the campsite once again if searching for possible incoming foes. It is hard not to be paranoid when in the Gray Forest. When Tristram speaks of her swords, she smiles again, a gentle smile. She seems relieved that they still seem to be friends. Now is not the time to talk about what happened, so she doesn't. Reese returns the girl's hug, giving her a smile. "Take care." She says in her direction. She then starts in on her own stew.
Just like Dagon, he too was waiting for Reese and Serafine to eat--but now that they do, he tucks in. The broth is rich and the vegetables are plentiful, and the occasional bits of pheasant make things interesting. He comments, "I couldn't pack any catapults on my horse, Dagon. Perhaps we should escort some carpenters here next time."
"If you insist," Dagon murmurs, a grin twitching his lips in spite of his chivalry. He begins to eat -- getting in a few mouthfuls all at once before slowing down. Again, he stares at the fire, pondering something far from here. But when Reese speaks, he looks up to her and Tristram. His brow furrows -- posing a question that he doesn't ask. "There are enough trees here, that's for sure," he mutters, looking about. Serafine's words bring his eyes back to the fire. "We get our rest now, and by evening of the next day, we should be far enough within Bastion's reach to discourage raiders. We'll stop again -- but I've sent word ahead. A patrol will meet us at our camp to march us the rest of the way to Bastion."
"It wouldn't be wise to bumble around the Gray Forest at night with such a large group. We'll run right into our enemy," Dagon tacks on.
Serafine finishes her food quickly. "Are we doing watches? I can go first. Too spun up to settle in to sleep," the knight comments, cleaning her utensils and plates quickly. Gloves are put back on and she flexes her fingers. The cold doesn't seem to bother her too much, she finds it rather exhilarating. Indeed, her dark eyes shine as she peers about, readjusts her cloak and goes to do the same to her vambraces.
Reese looks from Serafine to Dagon at the question of watches. "Should we watch in teams of two?" She asks of The Duke. She has her bowl still perched in her lap and the soup is almost gone.
Tristram finishes the stew that he's made and produces honeycombs for the four of them. Even as he does so, from sporadic locations around the refugee camp the happy squeals, quickly silenced, of the children can be heard as the honeycombs he's previously distributed to their parents are given out. Passing around the sticky treats, he says: "I assume we'll do watches. I'll be up there," he points up to a nearby tree. "Gonna hang a cot and nap off and on, then I'll wake fully in the morning to take the last watch myself. I don't think there's enough of us to double up *and* get enough rest, but perhaps we can overlap; do three watches and stagger them amongst four people so at least part of the time there're two people on each watch."
"You're going to sleep in a tree?" Dagon wonders blankly of Tristram, brow raising. He doesn't question it though. He's hardly an archer-- and he trusts Tristram to know what he's doing. Or at least not break his neck. "Two will be good. We have the guards patrolling, but it will do their morale good to see us also keeping watch. If one of you tire, feel free to stagger the time and go to sleep." A beat of a pause, then, "Princess Reese, will you take the first watch with her highness?" Even in such a wild and lost place, Dagon doesn't forgo the use of courtly titles.
Serafine sighs. "Knight. Dame. Please." But it's said with humor and the sigh is playful and long-suffering. "But aye, I'd like the company but only if the princess is up for it." She grins at Reese and winks. "Do we have word about any nasties in the area? Rumors or scouts?"
Reese lifts her gaze to the tree in question and she seems a bit concerned. Still she doesn't question Tristram on this, giving him a nod and seeming to have faith that he knows what he is doing when it comes to the trees. Reese then turns to Dagon. "Absolutely, Duke Dragon." She murmurs before setting the new empty bowl aside and rising to her booted feet. Reese turns to Serafine. "I am up for it." She murmurs gently before giving her a smile that touches her blue eyes.
Prince Commander Tristram stands and begins to collect his arrows and as he does so, he holds one up above the fire; its head looks different from the other ones--it has small holes in it. He says, "I've brought whistler arrows. From the top of the tree," he points, "if we detect an ambush, I can fire them into the camp," he points towards the center of the refugee camp. "When I gave the parents the honeycomb, I told them the safest spot to retreat to to get behind us if they heard the whistle, and my best guess as to escape routes that'll keep at least some of them alive and maybe let them get into Bastion if we fall. Wouldn't be the first time I've slept in a cot in a tree." He grins.
"Reports are... old, at best. Our enemies are always moving, and the forest makes it difficult to place their locations," Dagon tells Serafine, before finishing off the rest of his stew. He says nothing as to Serafine's title, but a ltitle sparkle of amusement is apparent in his eyes as he chews. "Lord Gabriel said there were reports of scouts; the vanguard, pillaging and plundering as they go. If anything, we will run into them... and it's they that I hope to keep from these people," and he points with his stew-stained wooden spoon around at the camp, indicating it in general.
"To bed we go Prince Tristram, while the ladies guard us life and limb." He gives his bowl a quick scrubbing of dirt from the half-frozen dirt beneath their feet before moving to his own tent. "Mangata's blessings. Do shout if you see anything, so his highness can give one of his whistler arrows a try. I'm keen to see how well they actually work." And with that, he retreats into his tent, to try and catch some sleep before his own watch.
Tristram nods and, after dampening the fire and making sure the refugees do the same to at least slightly improve their concealment, though the smell of the smoke may still give them away, starts to collect his things. He leads his horse to the tree he's going to be sleeping in, gives it a good brushing, then turns to the group and says, "Good night; if for some reason I wind up not waking, pitch rocks at me. SMALL ones." He grins, and then scales the tree, setting up a hammock.
And falling asleep.
Tristram checked dexterity + athletics against difficulty 15, resulting in 30, 15 higher than the difficulty.
Reese makes her way closer to Serafine so that can talk together while they patrol. Maybe they should split up, but she doesn't think of this. She glances over the campsite and then to the princess. "So I guess we make rounds." She murmurs.
Serafine watches Tristram mimic those climbing monkey things, shaking her head and joining Reese on watch. She shifts to stand for a bit, stretching, checking to make sure her swords are loose in their scabbards, that her leather is worked loose as well so as not to creak. She's silent when she needs to be, a skill she evokes now that she's on watch. She grins at Reese. "Aye, we do. We can split up or patrol together, or alternate. Do the first round together, then split up, complete a circuit, patrol together again, so on?"
Reese looks toward Serafine. "That sounds good." She murmurs softly, keeping close to her for, but planning to split up eventually. "So that was such a mess." She murmurs softly. "The duel. I wish I undo that day Ainsley and Tristram met in the training center." She chatters and then peeks around, trying to be responsible and to keep watch! Still did take this chance for girl talk, apparently.
Serafine winces as Reese cuts straight to the heart of Serafine's curiosity. The knight has the grace to blush and she coughs lightly as the two patrol, eyes scanning, ears attentive. Her answer is quiet. "The duel already happened?" she asks. "I've been focused on guard duty, and family affairs of the less scandalous kind. I was worried about Ainsley. I was going to offer to be his second but the man can handle himself, I'm sure."
Serafine and Reese meet a few guards on their patrol, doing the same shit they are -- but elsewise, all is quite. The trees croak together in the cold wind.
"It hasn't happened yet." Reese says in response to Serafine's words. She keeps her hand close to the hilt of her silvery pink blade which she is wearing against her right hip. She shivers as if a bit cold and then continues. "Oh, I am sure he can."
Serafine shrugs. "Pietro and I were friends. I daresay, he was the only man I'd have been content to marry, we even discussed it once. I offered to marry him and let him keep Ainsley, and I would squirt out a child and keep my own lady-love." Her smile is sad but she laughs at the memory. "He appreciated the offer, but as we're rather closely linked to the same House, well... it'd serve not great purpose to wed. I was going to talk to Ainsley about it, bear a child for both of them while the four of us loved as we liked and fulfilled our duties." Her hands never stray far from her hilts. "...suppose we'll never know now if it would have worked."
Reese checked perception against difficulty 20, resulting in 10, 10 lower than the difficulty.
Dagon checked perception against difficulty 40, resulting in 14, 26 lower than the difficulty.
Serafine checked perception against difficulty 20, resulting in 14, 6 lower than the difficulty.
Tristram checked perception against difficulty 40, resulting in 16, 24 lower than the difficulty.
Reese checked dexterity + dodge against difficulty 15, resulting in 32, 17 higher than the difficulty.
Tristram checked dexterity + dodge against difficulty 15, resulting in 60, 45 higher than the difficulty.
Serafine checked dexterity + dodge against difficulty 15, resulting in 45, 30 higher than the difficulty.
The whistling is the thing that gives it away -- the low hum, just before impact. But Serafine and Reese don't receive that impact; trained for such things, they dodge the three arrows that would have sunk into their bodies, and now instead thunk in to the ground. It came from somewhere out in the woods, for certain -- but the shapes are well hidden within the dark of the trees, no more than twenty-five yards away.
Reese looks over to Serafine as she speaks of her possible marriage. "Well you could still marry Ainsley you know and become a Grayson." She seems to think this would be a good idea. She could have an warrior princess sister! That is when the arrows come. Reese nimbly darts to the side. "Oh...not good." She says drawing her silvery sword and starting to head in the direction the arrows came from.
Dagon checked perception against difficulty 15, resulting in 15, 0 higher than the difficulty.
Tristram checked perception against difficulty 15, resulting in 12, 3 lower than the difficulty.
Any response Serafine would have by this unexpected suggestion is cut off by arrows. She dodges and curses softly, yanking her blades free, a sword in each hand, twirling them as she scowls into the darkness. "Can't see a damn thing," she hisses.
Reese has rolled a critical success!
Reese checked dexterity + dodge against difficulty 20, resulting in 45, 25 higher than the difficulty.
Several more arrows fly directly at Reese, but they've lost the element of surprise now: the Pink Princess dodges them easily, and when she does, there's a sudden roar from the woods. Two dozen warriors, clad in leathers and furs and wielding axes of steel and stone, charge from the darkness of the trees and straight towards the camp. Luckily, some of the camp's guards have caught wind of things, and are already heading over to assist Reese.
And then the screams start.
Within the camp itself, towards where Dagon and Tristram sleep, the screams are the first thing they hear. Below Tristram, a guard bleeds out from his throat, while the shav assassin collapses moves on to collapse the nearest tent, swinging wildly with his knife and axe at the family inside. When did they get inside the camp? How? The animals were calm up until the throat-slitting started to happen in full-force -- but now Tristram can see half a dozen shavs within the camp, some dealing with guards, and some seeking out the mindless slaughter of the refugees.
Tristram's first action on waking up is to fire the whistler-arrow, blowing whatever surprise the shavs may've had and waking any of the sleepers. He starts to methodically shoot at the shavs closest to the refugees--beginning with the one right below him. For now, the other three nobles are on their own--but Tristram very clearly believes that they can handle themselves. He calls out, "Take the archers, then take the ones in the camp!"
Tristram checked dexterity + archery against difficulty 15, resulting in 45, 30 higher than the difficulty.
Tristram checked dexterity + archery against difficulty 15, resulting in 55, 40 higher than the difficulty.
Tristram checked dexterity + archery against difficulty 15, resulting in 47, 32 higher than the difficulty.
Dagon stomps out of his tent, nearly knocking it down in the process. He unsheathes Reafian, and the black blade gleams in the firelight. Immediately, one of the shavs fall before him as Dagon stabs the man straight through the throat, soaking Reafian -- and himself -- with blood. "Soldiers!" He calls out to those near him. The camp is large, covering the entirety of the meadow. Wherever Serafine and Reese are, they are forgotten for now. "Soldiers, to me!"
"Tristram! Where are the others?" Obviously, he means the women. Apparently not forgotten after all, as he looks to his tree-top scout for answers. Another shav falls on his blade, and the soldiers around him form up ranks, quickly dealing with the shavs nearest them.
Swearing, Serafine moves quickly towards the oncoming group of warriors to back up the other guards. "Reese!" she hisses, to show the woman where she's going and what she's doing with her actions. The Knight runs into the group, shouting to draw the attention of several enemies attacking her allies, gaining the focus of two and setting to work on them with her swords.
There's only focus from Serafine, gritted teeth, swinging weapons, and she's not above kicking out for kneecaps, shins, and genitalia.
Reese keeps her silvery pink sword drawn. The Grayson princess is quite nimble. She weaves and ducks past the arrows that are sent in her direction. It is quite impressive, but Reese doesn't have time to bask in the success of darting up to archers without becoming a pincushion. She finds herself facing two dozen warriors. Reese sucks in a soft breath, braces herself and attacks. Her intention is to kill the closet enemy warrior or at least hit them so hard they cannot rejoin this fight. This is intention the princess follows through upon. She is quite skilled with her blade. There is Shav at her feet, but many more suround her.
Tristram checked dexterity + archery against difficulty 40, resulting in 35, 5 lower than the difficulty.
Tristram checked dexterity + athletics against difficulty 30, resulting in 19, 11 lower than the difficulty.
From his tree perch, he pauses in his firing, shooting a whistly-arrow towards where the women are for Dagon's benefit. A moment passes as he looks from Reese to the shavs running amongst the camp and then back to Reese...and then he tries to do something difficult: kill the shavs closest to the people in the camp, then turn in time to kill one of the many surrounding Reese, then turn back and kill more shavs. But splitting his attention--and turning in the tree--causes a bit of a problem. While he hits his targets, pretty accurately, his constant motion causes him to fall out of the tree. He reaches out to grab a branch to break his fall, but misses; he lands on the ground with a heavy thud. It's a good thing he killed the one beneath him first.
Nodding, his lips a grim, thin line, Dagon moves through the camp -- towards the direction of Tristram's arrow. But it's slow going: many of the shavs have gotten into the camp at this point, and the guards are fighting a pitched battle to distract them from the refugees. It's chaos. Pure, bloody chaos, as families run, children in their arms, only to face the bloody blades of the forest shavs. But soon, the numbers begin to thin, even as the ground begins to become more red than brownish-green.
Towards Serafine's and Reese's front, the shavs are being pushed back. The combined might of the knights, and the soldiers who come over to cover their flank, does a good job of pushing them back into the woods -- this, even as a soldier is cut open at Serafine's side, splurting blood over her. The battle is almost over, even as soon as it's begun.
There's a roar from Serafine, shouting to keep the attention of the enemy on the knights and the guards and out of the camp. Her blades are bloody and now so is she, the blood, none of it hers, making her a vision of death as she continues to cut, swing, dodge, parry. Her eyes flit to Reese now and again, checking on the princess as her partner in battle, defending her from the unseen when she can.
Reese fights the remaining shavs who are close to herself and Serafina. She tries to keep track of the other princess. The Grayson warrior has no intention of stopping until they have all yielded or fallen.
Tristram checked stamina against difficulty 15, resulting in 16, 1 higher than the difficulty.
Tristram is hurt. He came very close to passing out--and that might've been a mercy indeed because he seems to have broken his left arm in the fall. With a bit-back groan of pain he manages to lever himself up on his right arm and climb on the back of his horse. He draws his cavalry sabre with his good hand, and 'Hya!'s the horse forward, guiding it with his knees. The well-trained warhorse follows his guidance as he rides into the camp at speed, heading towards the edges where the shavs are closest to the remaining refugees, riding them down with his horse and cutting at them with the sabre.
Dagon checked dexterity + dodge against difficulty 40, resulting in 35, 5 lower than the difficulty.
For a moment there, Dagon is outnumbered on the ground. But with Tristram moving by, and his soldiers moving to help him, the shavs in the camp soon fall. The ones on the fringes have no intent on fleeing outright, but they're losing ground quickly -- and, eventually, they are slaughtered. Down to the every last one. Not a one will surrender. They will keep swinging until their last breath, mad with bloodlust. In the interim after the last shav by him is slain, Dagon -- blood soaked Duke Dagon -- pulls a knife out of his side, gasping. His hand immediately goes to apply pressure to the wound. No vitals seem to be hit, but the prince breathes heavy -- not enough strength to go forward and help Serafine and Reese kill the rest of the shavs on the outskirts.
But, eventually, Serafine and Reese make a fine job of it themselves. The ladies are excellent fighters, and when the last shav is dead, the survivors can go around and take stock of the slaughtered. There are definitely less refugees dead than there are dead shavs...
...but among the tents of the refugees, there's a screaming father. "Sarah!" He cries, over and over again. And in his arms is the girl who wanted gold roses on her shirt.
Serafine is panting, flicking the blood from her weapons, wiping the blades clean on her cloak before sheathing one to give herself a hand free to search the bodies for clues as any reason these bastards came in force, just in case there is one. Her search is interrupted, though, after most of the bodies are gone through, by the screaming of grief that Serafine is all too familiar with.
She straightens, dark eyes wide, watching the man with a familiar girl in his arms. Grief contorts her features a moment, eyes glassy, and though the tears soon fall, she's turning away, barking orders to the other guards and soldiers to create a perimeter around the camp, to check for more enemies on the ground and in the trees without straying far from the light of the encampment. She doesn't look at Sarah or her father again, not for the rest of the night, or into the next day. Focused. Locked down.
When it's over, Tristram's faithful steed--bleeding itself from several cuts--trots slowly back from the edges of the camp, bearing a wounded Tristram on his back. In addition to the break and bruising, the Valardin has been cut several times as he ran down shavs; his ability to dodge and fight having suffered from the initial fall. A somber and depressed look on his face despite the pain, he considers approaching Sarah's father, but decides, in the end, that there's no way he could help the man with his grief right now.
Reese seems to have a kind of tunnel vision for the duration of the fight, attacking Shav after Shav until they are completely wiped out. Serafine's presence at her side certainly gives her comfort and well all the Shavs she taken down has kept Reese alive after her brash charge. Now that the battle is over, she finally takes stock of the situation on the field. She sucks in a sharp breath and promptly breaks down when she sees the father cradling Sarah. Tears bead on her lashes, her lower lip quiver and her cheeks pale. Reese is a new warrior to these kinds of battles and never seen children attacked before. Her childhood with the Graysons was quite posh. Sure she had lots of training and was expected to be great, but she hasn't see a darkness like this against little ones before. She sort of always assumes that good will and the innocent will be rescued in time. But it wasn't time. She is breaking down.
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