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Guardians of the Grand Duchess

Word has secretly out to proven professionals and skilled knights that a diplomat of great importance will soon be traveling along the Great Road between Lenosia and Caith. A surge in banditry, and necessity of speed has prompted this diplomat to eschew a large force for a smaller group of skilled protectors to keep her, and her precious cargo safe.

Date

Nov. 11, 2019, 7 p.m.

Hosted By

Rysen

GM'd By

Rysen

Participants

Merek Harlex Jeffeth Jaenelle Bree Bhandn

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - Lyceum near Lenosia - On the Great Road between Lenosia and Caith

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


Near the gate leading from Lenosia to the Great Road lies an inn bedecked with flowering vines and trellises. It is early in the morning, and a deep purple leads to an ever lighting gray with a slight chill in the air - the only reminder, perhaps that it is, indeed winter in the Lyceum.

A coach arrives at the inn, and a middle aged driver, dressed in plain clothing and a lycene-style coat holds the reigns. The innkeeper, Mistress Launa, approaches a woman clad in a voluminous hooded ebony cape fastened at the throat with an ivory hook woven around an opal tipped button. "The carriage has arrived, Gr... My Lady," she says in a low voice. "Please be careful." A man standing beside the cloaked woman named Leiland, a Captain of the Velenosa guard by his livery, says, "Are you certain you would not prefer a full detachment, Gr.. m'Lady? I don't like sending you off with so few armed guards."

Merek has taken his time to settle into the coach. He was here as the Knight he is, dark attire on with the cape about him, while he takes a moment to look to the team, nodding then to the lady, "Alright, I'll be with you on this little tour along the Great Road."

Black is not inherently subtle, though it can do the trick. Harlex could be any sellsword, really, clad in shadowmeld with a sword and dagger at his side. His dark hood risen up over his head. On his back is a cloth wrapped bundle, worn via strap across his chest. Keeping with the discretion of the assignment, Mirror Blade is hidden from sight. Nothing to see here, just a very intense swordsman protecting a client. "She's safe with me," is his brisk response to the concerned Leiland, seeming to ignore Merek's assertion. He'll be riding alongside the coach, mounted on his dabbled gray warhorse, Scout.

Leiland, not unfamiliar with the style and posture of the black swordsman, nods. He sighs, and says, "Gods be with you," though his eyes trail after the cloaked woman with concern.

There's comfort in the familiar. The Knights of Solace protect travelers. Frequently lone knights on the roads find themselves attaching to caravans or convoys, bolstering the strength of their defenses and assuring their safety. Frequently they just wander around alone, waiting for somebody to protect. Today their holy duty is sated by attaching to a convoy that just so happens to belong to the Gradmnaster's patron.

For this occasion the Grandmaster has come with some of his finest knights that start with the letter B. The Bull of Solace sits astride his monstrous black mare, Friend, his own alaricite horns gleaning in the waxing light. There's a warm smile cast over to Jaenelle as she tends to Leiland. The Bull visor is then pulled down and it is the Bull that nods to Harlex. A glance to his B knights flanking him and a little nod. "Everyone sleep alright?" Jeffeth asks of Bree and Bhandn.

There is a soft smile for both Launa and Leiland as they voice their concerns. "I will go. It is important" the woman in the cloak states with a firmness to her tone that suggests that her word is final in all matters. "But I will return soon, I promise. I need to go visit the library while I am here, it is my baby and I must visit each time I return to Lenosia. Soon" she repeats with a promise as she holds Launa's hands in her own before turning back once more to the captain, teasing, "you worry too much. We will be fine." Harlex's horse is patted gently with fondness, as she looks at the Velenosa Sword, "you heard him, I am safe with him. And them" she motions towards the others in their group, patting Friend afterwards as she looks up at Jeffeth with warmth. "Oh, and Leiland?" she calls as she settles into the coach, "take the evening off, go enjoy your wife. Stop worrying!"

One of the two B's wears a bright smile on her face, clearly pleased to be out on the road - with some sort of purpose to guide her. Her own horse waits outside the Inn, and with the deftness of one who has spent much time on horseback, she mounts in her full armor. Adjusting in the saddle, she nods to The Bull, who is also a B if he would just change his name to Bull full-time. "Always sleep better out of the city," the Harthall knight responds, leaning down to pat her steed's neck adoringly. The lady giving assurances is met with a fist to chest, and a dipping of her head. "And us," she agrees to the words of protection.

Merek leans back within the coach, snapping his bracers on while he places the helmet to his features, then he leans back while he takes a cup of water to chug from. After that, he sighs, then it's on to wait for them traveling.

Launa smiles at Jaenelle's touch, and steps back into the foyer of the inn. As the warmth of Jaenelle's hand fades, a nervous twitch comes to her lips, but she maintains her confident smile as best she can.

Leiland drops to a knee before Jaenelle, and rises as she settles into the coach. The gleam of the morning light on the alarcite horns of the Bull of Solace does seem to give him some comfort. "Jeneyssa sends her love, Your Grace," he says to Jaenelle, before stepping back as Bree adjust herself in her saddle and Merek takes a drink.

When Jaenelle gives Friend a pat-pat, the Bull half leans out of his saddle to lean forward towards her, pushing his faceplate up just enough to murmur quietly to the Grand Duchess. His eyes flick up to the coach and then back down to Jaenelle as Jeffeth murmurs quietly.

Harlex returns the /nod/ from the Bull. He was brisk with Leiland but after that, he doesn't interfere with their farewells. His pace is Jaenelle's pace and he looks content in the saddle, one clawed hand holding to the reins. Scout is appreciative of the pats and dips her head a bit before looking over at Friend and making a noise. The horse equivalent of an up-nod.

In complete betrayal of its owner, the male B's mouth spreads in a yawn at the question of sleeping well, one of the few times he's opened his mouth the entire trip that had nothing to do with matters of transpotation security or practical matters that would effect it. Even the exhalation out of his mouth is quiet, with a gauntleted hand covering his lips, and his hand promptly hits himself on the cheek right after his lips reseal. Despite all that, his grey eyes are alert, and his response to the Grandmaster's query is a nod and a murmured, "More or less." He seats himself on his own steed with an otherwise pensive expression, occasionally drifting off into silent contemplation while the journey is yet to get underway, waiting.

When the guardians are assembled, there is a snap of the drivers reigns and the pair of white chargers harnessed to the carriage being to trot at a decent pace. The first rays of sunshine being to illuminate the great road, but the carriage and its defenders seem to be early risers, and only a few farmers and merchants are seen in those first miles leading from Lenosia toward Caith.

The stoic up-nods are not Bree's style. When she spies Harlex, a memory sparks, and her gauntlet covered hand lifts from the reins to wave merrily at the man. "The whiskey," she reminds him, although that probably isn't enough of a spark for anyone who is a consistent drinker. Bhandn is glanced to as he doesn't seem to be full of the energy of the road, and she grins to the older knight. "Rise and shine," she teases. And then with a small, imperceptible squeeze of thighs, her horse moves to take up position near the rear of the carriage.

There's a small nod to Jaenelle with a little smile before Jeffeth is pulling the faceplate back down. Righting himself on the saddle, Jeffeth looks back to his B's and Bull-nods towards the back of the carriage. There is a light clicking noise made with his tongue and the massive beast is soon trotting to move in front of the carriage.

Jeffeth checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 35 higher.

Merek checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 21 higher.

Jaenelle checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 13 lower.

Harlex checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 60 higher. Harlex rolled a critical!

Despite being inside the carriage, Jaenelle does not seem to wish to sit still as she should. While quite careful not to rock the carriage to the point it tips, the woman moves back and forth to speak to those guarding her. "Hi" she peeks around towards the back where Bree and Bhandn are, focusing on Bree first, "I don't think we've met. Thank you for coming." Then she dips back inside and comes out the other window to look towards Bhandn, "we've not met either. How are you doing?"

Merek looks over to the side of the road, while he motions to the others, spinning his fingers about, "Looks like prone folk on the side of the road," he mentions, being subtle about it, a nod to the ones riding horses to look that way.

Harlex clicks his boot heels on the flanks of Scout, ushering her toward the driver. He gives him a signal to slow the carriage. There's a look aside toward Jeffeth and he nods in the direction of some bushes nearby. "Two of them," he says quietly. "Bleeding and wounded," but he leaves the choice of action to the Knights of the Road. His priority is Jaenelle, whose side of the carriage he swings to ride along closely. A vigilant protector first, helping hand -- second? Third. Probably way down the way.

The driver, whose name is Gio, slows the carriage at Jeffeth's signal, and it comes to a stop not far from the pair of bodies prone in the bushes. One of them seems to be moving a little - perhaps a woman with long, black hair.

And despite her attentiveness to the road, and any possible dangers that might befall a carriage moving along the path, Bree takes a moment to smile at the woman twisting and turning in her seat. "Dame Bree Harthall, your... ladyship." She coughs, having picked up on the titles and such back at the Inn. "Pleasure," she offers, but the sound of voices distracts her from these cheerful greetings, her brow forrowing. She can't quite make out the bodies, or real anything much from her position in back, but she sits straighter in her saddle, her eyes moving to the Grandmaster for direction.

The Bull shakes his head at the front of the carriage. "Keep it moving. Slow." Jeffeth calls out as he leads Friend around the length of the carriage. "Your Grace." He helpfully chimes in to Bree as he trots. There's a glance to Harlex. "Keep it slow. We'll check it out and catch up." Jeffeth murmurs before trotting past the carriage towards Bhandn and Bree. "Bhandn." It's a name but also a command, the Bull helm motions towards where the bodies lay prone. Jeffeth himself does not dismount just yet. "Be wary."

The carriage starts up again, moving at a steady pace, but such that the other guardians can catch up. Beads of sweat form on Gio's forehead when he notices the wounds on the bodies.

Merek seems content to watch while he keeps guard within the coach. He nods a bit to the others while he waits along.

"At least I don't have to be roused out of my blankets with bloodcurdling screams," Sir Bhandn says to Bree with aplomb, though there's a small quirk at his mouth to give it away as banter. He goes quiet as Jaenelle speaks from the carriage, glancing between "Her Ladyship" and Dame Harthall, but Bhandn himself is put to the question right after, and his own response is to offer as much of a bow as he can from a saddle. "We haven't, no, my lady." He, too, takes his cue from the previous conversation. "Bhandn Yvar." And then he hears his name and conversation comes to an abrupt halt.

'Be wary' he intreprets in a rather casual way: going one-handed on the reins of his mount, and the other straying rather innocently to his side, seemingly riding alongside his left leg not very far from where Vigil is residing. His head and eyes both go in the direction Jeffeth indicates, giving a silent nod in response. Unfortunately for Jaenelle, Bhandn will suddenly grow selectively deaf, as his attention now restlessly swivels, keeping watch on the flanks and the occasional glance behind.

"I thought... to keep her identity under wraps... ladyship..." Bree pieces together an explanation for Jeffeth as to her flaw in etiquette, but really it comes out in a jumble of words. She moves to position herself more securely as she watches Bhandn take his order. "Be careful. Traps like these are common on the road," she says, even if the two she speaks to would be the most aware of such traps. Her blue eyes scan, not the bushes with the wounded, but the wilderness on either side of them.

Bhandn also breaks formation to go check out the bodies where he's pointed.

The black-haired woman reaches out to Bhandn as he approaches. "Help," she says, weakly. Beside her is a young man, about her age, who looks severely beaten, and is breathing shallowly.

As the carriage slows, and there seems to be discussions around her as to what is found, Jaenelle stops making friends and rests at the side where Harlex and Scout pull towards, looking up towards the man with concern. Her head is no longer peeking from the window now, though her voice rises, "Jeffeth? Harlex? Tell me what is happening?" Then she looks towards Merek, "if something happens, I need you to make me a promise that you will bring the medicine we are taking to Caith without hesitation. You will take a horse, and you will go."

Bhandn checked intellect + medicine at difficulty 15, rolling 11 higher.

Harlex checked intellect + survival at difficulty 50, rolling 10 higher.

"Oh." Jeffeth lets out to Bree. Oops. Luckily for him his embarrassment is hidden by the Bull faceplate and he just clears his throat. "Ahm. Right. Good work." After that unfortunate mistake the Grandmaster of the entire Solace is looking around as well with Bree for any signs that this may be an ambush. As Bhandn approaches, the Bull helm tilts. At the sound of Jaenelle's voice, Jeffeth looks over his shoulder. "Two injured, My Lady. Checking in on it." He announces before looking back down towards Bhandn, watching and waiting.

Harlex rides alongside the carriage still, a glance in the direction of the injured. Affirming Jeffeth's words, he nods. "Nothin', at all. Couple wounded, like he said. Seems they escaped from something fierce by their state. The knights will tend to them. We'll keep on our way."

Merek is within the carriage, and isn't assisting currently with the others, although he's watching while they move onwards a bit. He leans back a bit with a sigh.

He'll dismount, to investigate the injuries of the two off by the side of the road, and once he's ascertained just how bad their condition is, he'll give the pair a quick command: "Give him this to chew on for the pain. Don't move him. I'll be right back." 'This' is willowbark, which he'll procure from that pouch with that crudely stitched hands-holding-flame logo on it to indicate what's inside.

Bhandn will make haste, both in giving over that minor remedy as well as getting back to the group, and it's to Jeffeth he'll report, keeping his voice down so that it's just within the traveling group instead of other ears.

"They're both in bad shape, the man more so. If I had to guess, bandit's work or bored thugs that left them to die."

Bhandn checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 5 lower.

Bree checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 37 lower.

Bree checked perception + survival at difficulty 40, rolling 4 higher.

Jeffeth checked perception + survival at difficulty 40, rolling 3 lower.

Merek checked perception + investigation at difficulty 40, rolling 7 higher.

Harlex checked perception + survival at difficulty 40, rolling 12 higher.

Jaenelle checked perception + survival at difficulty 40, rolling 30 lower.

The woman, whose name is Ella gives the wounded man the willow bark. He chews it weakly and swallows. He leans against her, while she desperately looks up at Bhandn, Bree and Jeffeth.

Bree has made a point /not/ to look at the wounded. Her job is to stay on horseback, to guard the rear. When the woman looks up, the Butterfly knight catches that desperation, and there's a struggle in her that tells her to dismount, to rush to the side of the wounded, to help - but a distraction stops her from breaking ranks. "Riders, inbound," she calls to the group, clutching her reins more tightly.

"250 yards behind us," Bree adds. Helpfully.

The look on Gio's face at the words called out by Bree are best describe as panic. He glances back into the carriage at Jaenelle, waiting for her command, and prepared to strike the reigns with all his might.

Harlex swings his horse around to face something in another direction. He's facing a treeline and he's drawing the sword at his hip. Its kept low, near his side, the curved alaricite blade not as pristine as Mirror Blade but far better for that kind of work from a saddle. He's not the trusting sort, it appears. "Friends of theirs, most likely." Theirs being the wounded ones. But he speaks toward Gio and his voice is ice cold, "Keep them nerves. Don't do nothing stupid."

Harlex checked command + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.

Harlex wields Silverfang, a curved alaricite sword with a vicious single-edge.

Jaenelle checked command + leadership at difficulty 30, rolling 19 higher.

When Ella turns to look where Bree has indicated, she screams and stumbles, pulling the man to his feet. She begins half dragging him to Bhandn. "Don't let them kill me! Queen of Endings, don't let them kill me! I want to see my baby!"

"Ask them where they were headed and what happened. Be ready for a fight." Jeffeth calls out. There's a nod given to Bree as Jeffeth wheels Friend around. Another nod to Harlex as he comes around. The Bull's hammer is slowly worked from his back. "If they don't slow, be ready to charge back." The massive knight murmurs quietly to Bree. Friend is turned to the side and the massive knight waits as the riders approach, a hand raises up, palm out towards them. Sloooow down, it says. And if there is no response to that signal, Jeffeth looks like he's ready to ride. Though Ella's call has him looking over his shoulder with a grunt. "Get on your horse, Bhandn!"

Bree wields Kindness, a diamondplate messer.

Merek wields Torean Nightsong.

As Gio turns to look towards Jaenelle for some sort of sign, she holds up a single hand to stay the man from rushing into anything further. "Trust them as I trust them" she says calmly, eyes meeting his. Her hand is slowly lowered back to rest folded in her lap, appearing relaxed for the moment as things begin to swirl around outside the carriage where she sits. "We will be fine" she assures the carriage driver with a smile.

Bhandn wields Vigil.

Jeffeth wields a tactical warhammer with a brutal spike.

Merek looks from the carriage, then he hears a sound while he takes a moment to unsheath his weapon, taking a momnt to settle in from it to look towards the others while he nods to those in the coach. He won't move from protecting them.

Bree turns her horse so that she's between the oncoming riders and the carriage, Kindness brought from its sheath to be held low. She nods to Jeffeth, her body taking on a certain excited tension that her horse can feel as it shifts beneath her. "Steady," she encourages both herself and the beast.

As Jeffeth raises his hand, the horsemen seem to pick up their pace. They seem to move into a V spearhead formation, and the two on the other wings draw arrows, aim high and fire at Bree and Jeffeth.

Since Gio isn't going to do anything foolish, not with Jaenelle's steady command, Harlex moves to join Jeffeth and the others. "I'm worse than them," he says as a friendly aside to Merek. Indicating to the approaching riders. "Not a hair on her head." Then he goes, moving to investigate these horse-guys. Oh look they're shooting. "Subtle."

Rysen GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + archery(4) at difficulty 35, rolling 3 higher.

Rysen GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + archery(4) at difficulty 35, rolling 28 higher.

Bree checked dexterity + ride at difficulty 35, rolling 4 lower.

Jeffeth checked dexterity + ride at difficulty 35, rolling 22 higher.

75 inflicted and Bree is harmed for moderate damage.

"Get in the bushes. /Hide/," Bhandn tells Ella, and sternly. This he says as he's readying to unsheathe Vigil from his side, getting back in the saddle. "Stay out of sight!" But, once he's back in the saddle, he's positioning himself so he's between the approaching riders and the injured two, and out comes steel as it becomes clear that arrows are going to fly.

Ella, nods to Bhandn, and takes off running into the brush, with the man, moving chaotically after her.

"Counter charge!" Jeffeth shouts, his hammer going to dangle at his side. "Break the wedge!" They are a bit outnumbered in this counter charge. But Jeffeth seems to think pretty highly of his companions flanking him. Or maybe he just thinks highly of himself. Whatever it is, the Bull is ducking low to Friend and immediately urging her forward to a gallop. An arrow whizzes by, though the Bull does not take the time to check on the results of the other arrow. His charge begins, and he is driving at full pace for the tip of the spear, horns tilted down as the massive man on the massive beast resound against the frost laden brush.

Harlex checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 50 higher.

Bree checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 45 higher.

Bhandn checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 46 higher.

Jeffeth checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 31 higher.

The other arrow that Jeffeth does not take note of finds purchase in Bree's thigh between the small gaps in armor. She tried to maneuver out of the way, but she failed. A quick glance sees the stem of the arrow jutting up, and instead of trying to pull the thing free, she sucks in a breath, breaks off the end, and then grabs hold of her reins again to charge forward. Straight for one of the riders she goes, a swing of Kindness unseating the rider and sending them flying to the ground. The blood trickles down from her wound, and she rounds her horse to look to one of the others.

Harlex clicks his heels at Jeffeth's command and moves swiftly forward like a black bolt across the field. The hoof-fall of his warhorse well practiced, that blade in his hand of equal measure to the swordsman who wields it, because the Sword of Lenosia goes right into the enemy formation and in a single flick of alaricite -- beheads the lead attacker. As if it were nothing. His body jostles and then collapses onto the dirt, his horse dashing forward until its motivation becomes lost and it banks to the left, wildly, vanishing on the middle distance. Swinging back around, he readies to ride onto the next. Like a beast leaping into the midst of a hunting party, turning the tables on would-be predators.

Harlex checked strength + intimidation at difficulty 30, rolling 18 higher.

Jaenelle watches from the carriage as her guardians begin to gallop towards the offensive guests, not leaving the protection nor allowing Gio to drive off without her riders. She does not call out to Bree, Jeffeth, Bhandn, or Harlex, not wishing to distract them from their duties in protecting her. She seems content to watch, all beacon of hope like.

Thundering across the brush, Jeffeth's warhammer is swung with one hand, clipping his target. It's still a massive blow when you just barely get someone with a giant hammer, though it doesn't finish the archer. Friend is quickly rounded as Jeffeth goes to pursue the next rider. "Knights of Solace!" Jeffeth calls out. Identifying himself as an officer (after they've killed a couple people). "Surrender and be spared!" He does not expect surrender, though it is an important thing to shout as the Grandmaster of Solace. Leaning in to Friend, Jeffeth's hammer is at his side once more as he thunders after his quarry.

Rysen GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + ride(5) at difficulty 30, rolling 8 higher.

Rysen GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + ride(5) at difficulty 30, rolling 26 higher.

<Counter charge!> is the order, and counter charge means "YA!" coming from Sir Bhandn's lips as he kicks that horse into action. The two injured folk are ignored in the face of the offensive, and Bhandn has one hand on the reins, the other on Vigil, and his own clash with the oncoming rider first takes off the man's arm, but it's the turn and second pass that finishes the job, severing the man's head and kicking the body in hopes of getting him out of the saddle, in addition to Bhandn trying to grab the dead attacker's mount by the reins. He's ready to drop them and join in, if the surrender isn't held, but despite the fighting, Bhandn does glance towards the carriage and the bushes with Ella and her companion, Vigil's blooddrenched steel remaining at the ready in his hand.

As the guardians crash into the enemy formation at Jeffeth's command, a number of the attackers are sent down into the dust. Two of the riders who kept the formation smash their lances into Jeffeth and Bhandn with immense force. Reeling from Jeffeth's hammer, the horsearcher has broken through the line, and rides with all speed towards the carriage, taking careful aim at Jaenelle, but blinking violently from the wound dealt by the Bull of Solace.

120 inflicted and Jeffeth is harmed for moderate damage.

120 inflicted and Bhandn is harmed for serious damage.

Rysen GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + archery(4) at difficulty 40, rolling 21 higher.

Merek checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 30, rolling 10 higher.

70 inflicted and Merek is unharmed.

As the headless corpse falls to the ground from the overwhelming might of the Sword of Velenosa, the lancers, having passed their weapons deep into the flesh of their peal off, apparently deciding that they would rather flee into the thicket than find their own heads rolling on the Great Road.

It is then that Harlex and Bhandn notice a group of twenty or so more riders, moving onto the road from the same region where the previous six outriders had ridden.

Merek looks as that archer comes to fire on Jaenelle, "Duck, Your Grace!" he calls, then he twirls his weapon while he stands before her. The arrow lodges clean into his armor, but doesn't manage to hit him in full. He then shifts his stance to protect the woman.

Bree checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 24 higher.

Harlex is close to turning on those lancers before they flee. The approach of a full charge, twenty strong, has his ire. More than anything. He looks back in time to see Bree and Jeffeth chasing down the one that got away. But his focus returns to the riders coming down on them. For a moment, he seems to weigh his odds. There's a look to Bhandn, then ahead. He grunts. Noting the injuries that have gone around. "Lets collect your friends and get on our way," he suggests with a nod toward the people in the bushes. "They'll have to endure it, if they want to live."

Jaenelle watches as the archer grows closer towards the carriage, and the arrow that sails from the bow. There is a rather good chance that she has never actually had an arrow fired at her and this is a whole new, exciting experience for her. As Merek stands before her and there is the call for her to duck, she does so, watching the point lodge into Merek's armor though he seems unhurt. She remains slightly bent and out of the line of fire. "I want that rider dead" she says, perhaps a bit colder than she usually is.

Bree sees the rider break through, sees the bow come up and the arrow hitched and ready to fly. She does the only thing she can think of to save Jaenelle (even if Merek's got that under control, and the arrow already leaves the bow before the sword finds its way). She throws Kindness at him. The diamondplate blade cuts through the air and lodges directly in the archer's back, the man slumping and falling from his saddle. And so Jaenelle's wish is answered - the rider is dead, and Bree brings her horse around, swinging down low on the side to unhouse her blade from the man's back, the blood glistening against metal.

"Shit." It's a knightly curse, in that it was perfectly enunciated, and not because Bhandn was on the receiving end of a for-keeps joust pass. He saw the riders coming, and there's little time to communicate that fact. "MORE RIDERS!" he bellows out in the direction of the carriage. "Agreed," he says to Harlex, "but that carriage is going to get crowded and we should each take one," and Bhandn is quickly turning in his own saddle to do exactly that, riding straight for Ella and the man with her.

The man pushes Ella towards Bhandn with tears in his eyes. "Give our Sasha my love!" he says. He turns and limps as quickly as he can in the direction of the oncoming riders, screaming, "I love you Ella!! I love you Sasha! You bastards!!" He draws a knife from his hip, and continues to stumble madly toward the incoming warriors.

Merek wields Dusksong.

Harlex yanks the reins now and Scout bolts for the wounded. He's over by Bhandn so the man mustn't be far when he pushes Ella and hobbles his ass out to die. "Eejit." The wolf sneers. He isn't delicate in the way he reaches down with that clawed-gauntlet to /snatch/ the man up and throw him over the front of his saddle. He's doing him a favor. "Wouldn't even slow them down." The Sword of Lenosia rides fast for the carriage, his primary concern, "Don't become a burden to me," he offers these simple words of advice. "Or I'll let you meet the Queen."

Merek sheaths his weapon, then he swings the bow to the front while he watches as Bree kills that archer. He lifts up his bow and sweeps with his gaze, prepared to fire if they come upon them. He nods a bit to Jaenelle, "You are alright, Your Grace?" he asks.

To say the man is elated when thrown onto Scout by Harlex is a supreme understatement. Harlex and the wounded man, Tomma, come to the side of Jaenelle's carriage.

Galloping after the archer only to see him die. The call of more riders has Jeffeth looking over his shoulder. There is no reaction on his face. Because it's a Bull's face. So the appearance of extreme stoicism is all that is seen when the Bull looks back to the carriage. "Get the carriage to go!" The massive man calls towards the carriage. Immediately getting Friend to start galloping after it. Bhandn gets a nod as he goes for Ella, as the man stumbles /away/ from them, the massive man shakes his head. "Stick to the coach!" He calls out, nodding when Harlex goes to collect the man. Galloping up beside the carriage the Bull, cranes his neck to look into the carriage, notably to Jaenelle. His question is a wordless one.

And so the orders are given, and with one glance back to the oncoming riders, Bree with a mighty, "Hyah!" sets her horse to gallop along with the carriage. Her sword is still drawn, still dipped in blood, and she looks occasionally over her shoulder to see how much ground the riders gain in their pursuit.

As Jeffeth peeks into the carriage, Jaenelle gives him a nod to show that she is perfectly fine and none of the arrows that had been aimed at the carriage hit their mark. If Gio was waiting on any sign from the Archduchess to go, she gives it and more as the horses begin to return to where she was left and all begin to move down the road. When the bleeding commoners are brought closer, she looks worried, "are they going to make it? I don't have any training in this!" Then there is a pause, "were they checked for weapons?" She is kind, she is not stupid.

Harlex is not riding his horse in a way that is kind to a wounded man. Poor Tomma. He swings out of his boot and kicks the knife out of his hand. "They ain't armed," he affirms to Jaenelle. "And I think he's all done bein' stupid today. Ain't that right? Your choice, Your Grace." Which includes also dumping him on the road. Poor Tomma.

"Don't like it." Jeffeth calls out to the carriage motioning with his Bull chin to the commoners. "Up to you. I don't like it." A beat. "Lay flat." One gauntlet comes up to knock against the carriage in a thump-thump. Before he's felling back to ride with his compatriots behind the carriage.

There's a brief sound akin to a grunt coming from Bhandn's lips, but if the Grandmaster doesn't like it, Bhandn isn't going to pursue it, dipping his head in acquiescence without a word. "Try not to move," he says to Ella, not unkindly. He'll have situated her to be in front of him, an arm gently but firmly around the woman's waist to help her stay upright without falling, and while shielding her with his armored bulk from possible attack from behind.

Bree rides behind, allowing the others to determine what to do with the injured - because she resisted their call, she is able to keep the rear of the carriage and trust their care in other, softer hands. Like those of Harlex. Poor Tomma.

"I know" Jaenelle tells Jeffeth, "but we must help." With these words she gives a nod for the doors on either side of the carriage to be opened and those hurt to be placed inside should Harlex and Bhandn grow tired of holding them. She then looks towards Merek, "you are their sitter." Her voice is lifted then, "how far are they to use now?"

The wounded commoners enter into the carriage, and seem exhausted and in a bit of shock. They offer a heartfelt thanks to Jaenelle, addressing her as 'My Lady.' As Merek begins to look over their injuries, at Jeffeth and Jaenelle's gesture, Gio cracks the reigns and the carriage lurches forward and begins to pick up speed, as Jeffeth, Harlex and Bhandn ride along side. As Bree glances back, she notices the riders closing in, but they don't seem to be charing like the others, preferring - at least for now - to stay in formation.

Merek checked intellect + medicine at difficulty 15, rolling 40 higher.

Harlex checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 5 higher.

Merek looks then to Jaenelle with a nod, "As you wish." Then when all the commoners are loading up, he then takes a medical kit from the tool belt which he keeps on. Then he begins to assist in treating them with skill in medical work.

Harlex checked perception + war at difficulty 15, rolling 12 higher.

Bhandn checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 1 higher.

Jeffeth checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 25 higher.

Harlex tosses Tomma into the carriage. If he doesn't like it or mistrust them, he doesn't speak it aloud. It frees the swordsman up to keep his eye on the approach of that formation. Under less distracting circumstances, he can focus on gauging this enemy, at least. "Mercenaries," the Sword of Lenosia calls. "I know that formation. We use it in the Blades. What Company?" This is said, almost accusatory, toward Tomma and Ella. "Who'd you piss off?"

"I truly don't know," shouts Ella to Harlex over the rattling of the wooden wheels over the gravel. "We were carrying fruit from our family orchard to Lenosia, and we were attacked, beaten, mocked. They took our silver and fruit and left us to die." Her voice is quavering, and she looks extremely shaken, watching as the riders maintain their pace in attempting to overtake the carriage.

"They're gaining," Bree offers from the back, no fear in her tone - only the knowledge that they may have an altercation again soon. She's prepared this time, the broken arrow still sticking from her thigh as a reminder of what happens when she's /not/ prepared.

"Stay down," is all Bhandn says to Ella, when Jaenelle gives the assent to transfer the woman to the carriage. Bhandn does make a glance towards Harlex at the question he poses to the two rescuees, but says nothing, focusing instead on both his mount and the road ahead, trying to ignore his own wounds. Something vile erupts from his lips at the sight ahead. "How far back are they?" he calls back towards Bree.

"About 300-400 yards behind," Bree calls forward. "If we keep full pace, we might be able to outrun them!"

"Not with that barricade ahead," Harlex is sorry to have to inform Bree.

Bree is in the back. She sees nothing ahead! The news has her arching to try to see past the carriage without much luck.

Jeffeth urges Friend forward into a dead gallop, to push past the carriage and get to the blockade first. Perhaps intending to physically move it out of the way. Though as he rides the Bull helm oddly is looking up to the skies.

Harlex's words cause Gio to raise one hand to shield his eyes from sun. "Gods," he says, as he notices the barricade ahead. "We're doomed," he says in a defeated voice.

Jeffeth checked mana + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 35 higher.

Harlex watches Jeffeth urge forward, reading his intentions from that set look about the Bull Knight. He hastens ahead, moving to give him a hand at the task. "Shards, Gio. Get a spine," the Sword calls as he hastens past. Time is against them but two strong boys are better than one.

its true

And Bree stays behind, ever glancing over her shoulder, prepared to take on the five riders if need be.

Jaenelle has no idea what is happening outside the carriage, and perhaps against the better judgement of all, she sticks her head out when she hears Gio's words. "We are not" she informs the man with a chastising clicking of her tongue as if she might be talking to one of her children. "We'll be fine!" she urges once more, and there is no doubt in her voice that she believes it, the command in her voice makes it so.

Gio glances at back at the Grand Duchess, Jaenelle Velenosa herself, flanked by the knights Bree, Bhandn, and Merek, and ahead, the Bull of Solace, Sir Jeffeth Bayweather and the Sword of Lenosia, Harlex Valtyr. At Jaenelle's words, he grits his teeth and steels his resolve.

Three strong boys, if one ignores the fact that Bhandn was in his prime about two decades ago. While he hasn't been slouching in training, age /does/ collect its due in the end. For himself, he'll speed up to ride all the way up to the barricade and all but jump out of the saddle to assist Harlex and Jeffeth in that matter.

Bolting ahead, Jeffeth goes to hastily dismount, his feet breaking into a run as he approaches the blockade. The Bull gives a nod over to Harlex and then looks up.

To the descending black wings coalescing above him. Crows. Dozens, all flying about just above the Bull. Jeffeth looks up to the forming murder and points. "Take a few and find Knights of Solace. Show them /this/, show them the way. Go, /now/." To the rest of the birds, Jeffeth pivots a little. "Fly low over the riders, give em a spook."

After just casually commanding a group of crows, Jeffeth reaches down to /lift/.

"They're gaining. Merek, your bow!" Bree calls to the man, inviting him to make use of the weapon he brought along. She rounds her horse once, Kindness at the ready should she need it, but she sees the crows flying overhead, a flicker of a smile at her lips.

Harlex checked strength + athletics at difficulty 40, rolling 18 higher.

Bhandn checked strength + athletics at difficulty 40, rolling 3 lower.

Jeffeth checked strength + athletics at difficulty 50, rolling 18 higher.

Merek checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 40, rolling 17 higher.

Bree checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 15 higher.

Harlex hastens to the barricade as Scout idles, an experienced warhorse. She knows when her rider has to do some /off saddle/ business. Such as bracing that enormous barricade, putting his shoulders into it, and the visible lines of his biceps are evident through the leather jacket sleeves as he flexes to help hoist that burden and support Jeffeth in its /removal/ from their path.

Merek lifts up that bow of his, then he nocks an arrow. He aims towards a front liner and fires, arrow striking into one of them, sending them forward in the saddle with their horse going wild to break their formation.

There's a moment's pause for the crows. Only a moment, but it's enough where Bhandn stumbles slightly, missing a step as he moves into place to aid the other two at getting the barricade dislodged. He frequently glances away before the movement of the barricade begins in earnest, to both the carriage and to the approach riders. "Ready," is all his deep voice says from inside that helmeted head.

As Bhandn begins to support the massive stakes making up the barricade, the blood beings to ooze from his wounds and pool on the ground.

Jeffeth bends his legs and places one massive shoulder under the barricade. The crows split off into groups. One that leaves the opposite direction, one that flies directly at the group of riders, flying /very/ low. Lots of cawing. Very spooky.

Meanwhile strong boys doing strong things. Jeffeth lets out a low growl as he slowly pushes up, and up. The barricade slowly lifting from the ground with Harlex's and Bhandn's help. With a roar Jeffeth extends his arms and sends the big thing to the side. The carriage will have to navigate it slightly, but it's enough to get through. Taking a moment to pant, Jeffeth gives a nod before letting out a whistle for Friend to /come back/.

Gio, Janelle and the other passengers followed by Bree blast through the road where the barricade had stood before the incredible strength of the Bull of Solace cast it aside!

Harried by the low flying crows and the wild horse from the fallen mercenary shot by Merek, the enemies formation is shaken, and slows a bit to regroup - but still they have gained significant ground in their pursuit as Friend, Scout and Bhandn's mount move, and their riders swing back into their saddles.

In her circling behind the carriage, Bree's gaze catches sight of the strong boys doing strong things. The barricade moves, the carriage able to pass through now - but not without danger. "Riders ahead! Three coming in from the tree line!" she calls out to her companions who must remount. "See them? One is in a green coat with... with a morning star on it!" She offers as much detail as she can, the blur of the riders as they are all in movement sure enough to cause confusion.

Bree checked dexterity + ride at difficulty 20, rolling 6 higher.

Harlex swings up into the saddle, a masterful motion. He hears Bree's shout and his first priority, it seems, is to ride up to catch the carriage and -- it looks like -- crash into the three approaching it from the flank.

Bree checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 138 higher. Bree rolled a critical!

Rysen GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + medium wpn(4) at difficulty 30, rolling 16 higher.

Rysen GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + medium wpn(4) at difficulty 30, rolling 44 higher.

Merek checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 30, rolling 7 lower.

Harlex checked dexterity + ride at difficulty 15, rolling 59 higher.

Bhandn, on the other hand, lets out a loud grunt as he regains his mounted position. He can feel what his wounds are doing, and more importantly his life's blood. There's a moment's consideration for the barricade, a frustrated noise erupting from him over how much it had delayed them, but he's heeling his mount to regain that rapid pace. He'll try to chew some willowbark for the discomfort during the ride, but nothing to be done about the bleeding while in armor.

Merek takes a clean shot, but with the foe moving, he doesn't manage to hit. All the same he nocks another arrow while he lifts that up.

There's a wild intensity to Bree when she flies past the carriage, the riders behind far enough that she feels confident in leaving her post for now. With Kindness at the ready, she comes upon the rider in the green surcoat, desirous to see that star cut in half, it would seem. With a mighty yell, she brings the strength of her blade down across the torso of the rider, cleaving into him with a viciousness that some might not expect from the smiling knight. The force of her strike is carried through the full motion, leaving the man to slide from his saddle to his death. She's smiling when the deed is done, her blue eyes sparkling with fire, and she's rounding her horse to eye the other two.

Harlex checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 30 higher.

Jumping back onto Friend, Jeffeth goes to charge after Harlex and Bree, taking the open rider, hammer swinging out into his hand once more. (With a crow flying behind him for effect.)

Harlex leans forward in the saddle, his weapon held to the side. Bree more than has that rider in the surcoat welcoming Death by the time he reaches the other two in a blur of speed. The heavy hoof falls herald the swift purpose of his sword, slicing at the one on the right in their leather armor. The alaricite blade peeling it open at the chest as if passing through water.

The rider in the green surcoat slumps forward at the masterful sword stroke of Dame Bree Harthall, his wickedly spiked morning star, dangling in his grip. The two horsemen beside him however, stab Bree with the long swords, trying to force the knight away from their slouched comrade.

70 inflicted and Bree is harmed for moderate damage.

70 inflicted and Bree is unharmed.

Unfortunately for one of the intercepting knights, his attack on Bree was his last, as Harlex's alarcite sword opens his chest in a spray of blood. His horse however, bumps Bree's and she is force back from the carriage.

Jeffeth checked dexterity + ride at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Bhandn checked dexterity + ride at difficulty 15, rolling 21 higher.

Harlex checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 44 higher.

Harlex pulls on the reins and doubles back around. He comes toward the last knight, there's a clash of weapons. A clash which splinters his foe's armament as if it were a splinter of wood. There's a sudden choking sound. Blackened alaricite claws reach out and yank the rider from his saddle. The motion is swift. A crushing, brutal noise that leaves the attacker limp. The Sword of Lenosia releases the corpse to the field. His bloodied grip flicked aside to dispel the gore. Scout turns as he retakes the reins, "Go!" Is barked Gio's way, the swordsman in black taking up his position beside the carriage once more.

At the same moment the other incepting knight is slain by Harlex, the attacker in the green sits up his stirrups with a gurggling roar! The blood is still flowing freely from where Bree struck him, but with a ferocious sweep of his arm, he smashes the carriage with his morning star, splattering the hand of Tomma as he raised it on instinct to protect himself, and sending golden hair of Lenosian Princess floating in the wind, with a shower of wood and glass!

The Green Knight grabs Harlex as his flicks the gore from his weapon, nearly ripping him from his saddle, but for the training and bond of Scout to his rider. The knight's massive gauntlet clad had begins to crush the black swordman's throat, as he raises his morning star in an attempt to strike again at the carriage.

50 inflicted and Harlex is harmed for serious damage.

Harlex checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 43 higher.

Bree checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 29 higher.

Bree's victory over the Green Knight was great, but the way in which the other riders descend upon her to defend their leader? No so great. She takes the blows, deflecting as much as she can with the swing of her bloodied blade. Harlex is there to handle the one, and she grunts out her gratitude, the other taken by Bhandn. There's blood at her thigh, her side, and her hands - some of it hers. When the Green knight is NOT DEAD (what?!) she blinks, and moves to attack once more.

Merek checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 30, rolling 7 lower.

Merek lifts up his bow to keep firing, his goal is to at least harry them away from the carriage. He's managed well enough with his previous shooting, he checks back in to see if folk are doing alright!

Bree is quick to catch up to the Green Knight again, Kindness dripping with his blood as she lands a second devastating attack - too late to save the carriage, but hopefully not too late to save the lives of those inside.

Jeffeth checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 12 higher.

Jaenelle checked command + leadership at difficulty 30, rolling 31 higher.

There is a scream from the carriage as the wood shatters and the hand is made into puree. Jaenelle looks in shock as she blinks in the sudden sunlight as the carriage is ripped apart, having remained crouched down to avoid any flying arrows. With the large hole in the carriage she is able to see more details as they continue to charge towards their destination. "We are close" she announces to Gio and those close enough to hear. "Only a little further and we will be within the safety of Caith. Just stay the course" she commands to all.

Sure enough, as the carriage rattles along the Great Road, the high walls of Caith loom in the distance.

Harlex needs to speak with his tailor about this assurance Shadowmeld provides. The sudden revival of the Green Knight has him facing(?) down with the assailant. His first mistake was keeping in arms reach of the Sword. Gritting his teeth, he arcs his sword swiftly as a hand grabs his throat. The arm taken right off the man's body, then taken into Harlex's grasp, and flung to the side. But it isn't a single chopping motion, he wields the blade back around, intending to slice the persistent foe into pieces.

"I'll cover them!" is all that Bhandn gives by way of explanation, a pained tone to his words as he maneuvers to place himself on the side of the carriage that Green decimated. He tries to match pace with the carriage, keeping himself between the inside of the carriage and the air, particularly focused on watching for unexpected arrows from the side. He isn't idle beyond that, one hand fumbling at his belt for that pouch in which he keeps very little for simpler first aid. A roll or two of bandaging, some willowbark, an herb for the coughs, and little more. "Here." He tosses the whole thing into the carriage, trying to block out Tomma's pained sounds over the ruination of his hand, trying to focus on making certain the carriage and its inhabitants won't receive further damage.

Ella is grabs the willowbark, as the carriage careens towards Caith. Jaenelle, eyes squinted into slits against the rushing wind can see the city gate rising, and a formidable host of cavalry riding out to meet the carriage.

The arm of the Green Knight is cloven from his body, and falls from Harlex's throat, several other slashes cleave through the knight's mail, as the blinding speed and skill of the Lenosian Sword cleave metal, muscle and bone.

Raising his hammer up as Jeffeth charges in, the heavy hammer head is swung into the Green Knight's chest after Harlex takes his arm. Driving him powerfully off his horse. The big man wheels around. "Let's keep pushing. Will take too long to kill him, but he's without his horse." There's a glance over his shoulder to the crow. "Scare his horse off." The massive knight is then looking to Harlex and then to the carriage, urging Friend to follow in its wake.

The Green Knight, or what remains after the attacks of Bree, Jeffeth, and Harlex, tumbles along the road, and his horse breaks away from the carriage. Ahead rides a column of Gilden cavalry, and Gio glances back at Jaenelle unsure of what to do.

Merek begins settling back when it's all finished, taking a moment to nod to Jaenelle and all in the carriage and away from it, while he leans back.

Bree is wounded in several places. Her armor will need hammering out, as well. But the gates loom, the dangers of the road (mostly) defeated, and the party (mostly) intact. Despite the struggles, the blood, the pain, she grins widely to see the success of their venture. She brings her horse to the rear of the carriage again, ending this journey where she began it. "You okay, Your Grace?" she drops the subterfuge titling.

Harlex has enough battlefield awareness to know when Jeffeth approaches and as though it were all part of some coordinated effort, that flurry of cuts gives way like a blinding wind to the heavy dislodging of a blunt wave, sending the Green Knight down. He pulls Scout at the ready, giving Jeffeth a nod, cuts along the Sword's throat revealed from the vice of the gauntlet. He hastens ahead, alongside the fleeing and damaged carriage.

"Your Grace," it's not like his voice could get any more rough at least. But he's a bit quieter. "Are you alright?" In the end, this question, is the sole drive of his concern.

Bhandn's own wounds have started to take a toll, and once everyone is in the clear, he visibly slumps. His breathing has started to grow more labored, enough so that he nearly rips off the steel protecting his face, passing one arm over his glistening brow. He doesn't speak, visibly clenching his jaw to ensure that silence, while giving his steed a momentary pat in recognition of its efforts.

2 inflicted and Jaenelle is harmed for minor damage.

Once within the gates, and Jaenelle is able to move from the carriage, there is a poise and grace that truly can only come from a woman who was almost murdered on her way through her own lands. There is no crouching any further as she extends a hand from the large opening now giving the carriage a third door option, fingers wiggling until someone reaches to assist the woman to stand. As she does, there is a moment where she smooths down her dress as if nothing happened, and a bundle is passed off to a servant who goes rushing to bring the medicine that was the entire reason for this trip. It is only then that Jaenelle reaches up to feel the blood where the debris from the carriage must have caused a few scrapes. "That is going to bruise" she informs everyone, though the others are hurt worse than she. "Please have the healers come at once to see to my guards" she command.

When the guards within the gates realize that they are in the presence of the Grand Duchess of the Lyceum, they kneel immediately. A guard takes the chest of medicine and sends orders for the physician to visit Lady Lucene at once. Word quickly spreads that Archduchess Jaenelle Velenosa has personally arrived in the city with medicine for her vassal, and money for their own soldiers and sailors. As she proceeds to the Gilden's seat of power, people flock to see her and her guardians in the streets. From the balconies, flower petals are thrown to rain down upon them in colors of pink, red, gold and lavender. Shouts arise from the young and old. "Long live the Grand Duchess! The gods have blessed Caith!!" By the time she arrives at the Gilden Villa, she and her protectors are met with the warmest and most lavish welcome, and some well deserved rest.



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