The Ride to Fort Brenton Part 1

The Ride to Fort Brenton, Part 1
Summary: Enroute to Brenton, the mixed party comes across a bit of trouble at a village.
Date: 17/10/1329
Related: None
Samwell Deidra Gauvain Jaren Claire 

TP Room 2
The path to Fort Brenton is rocky, lined with rocks and leads onto a plateau where at least one village is present.
Oct 17, 1329

The morning dawn is misty though the sun will certainly come out later. Prince Samwell and Lady Claire have left the comfort of Losthren Castle to join a small select group of riders for their tour to the Mountain Fortress of Branton. His trusty Blue Guards are close of course and two Taniford man-at-arms who are mostly in charge of bringing tents and food along. Sir Jaren and Sir Gauvain have been chose as well as their two trustiest squires and men at arms to carry their stuff.

Deidra rides somewhere close to the prince, her mind not as sour as usual, why there is even a smirk playing across her features as she lets her gaze linger on Sir Gauvain and Sir Jaren for a moment. "I hope you've enjoyed your cozy bed at the castle, my prince. We had to put up with much less comfortable lodgings, still I feel well and rested on this wonderful morning, Commander sir."

Sir Jaren's attention is first upon inspecting the packhorses carrying the necessary supplies. After a good once-over, he gives a nod, and turns away, spotting the Prince's arrival. He bows from the waist and notes, "The party is ready to depart on your command, Your Highness." His dark eyes shift to Claire and Deidra, and he offers another, more shallow bow towards the former, and a nod of greeting to the other, "Milady, Sir Deidra, a pleasant morning to you both." Sir Jaren is currently without a squire, his most recent one having quite recently attained his Knighthood, but one of the accompanying men-at-arms has been doing a serviceable job of assisting him when needed in the interim.

Strider was pleased to be out and moving at a normal pace. the large black Warhorse was fairly prancing as if to show off to the Prince and the Horses of the other Blue Guards. He was of Tarris stock, and to Strider, the Warhorse, that meant he was the best.

To Gauvain it meant his horse was showing off. He tugged lightly on the reins and looks at the back of the Horse's head. "Relax Strider. We're not at tourney. You're going to break a leg." Looking over to the Prince he nods to the other man and says to Samwell, "Your Highness. Have you ever been to these mountains before?"

Riding alongside the group near the front, Claire and her companions are silent for a number of reasons - be it observing their surroundings or lost in thought. That may be true for the noblewoman, who nods to Jaren in return with the slightest of smiles. "Good morning, Sir Jaren," she replies in kind, looking forward to those who are immediately beside her. Maid on one side. Guards behind.

Samwell rides ahead with Deidra by his side, listening with some amusement to her tale of how she kicked the knights' asses the day before. Finally he falls back a little as Gauvain catches up with him and he smiles at the man. "As a matter of fact, I have not. Lord Losthren has arranged for us to meet a young local guide by a bridge… he will lead us along the treacherous mountain path." the Prince looks up to where craggy rocks rise steeply into a leaden morning sky, dull grey with only some shrubs now and then visible. High above an eagle circles in the sky. Because there's always an ominous bird circling when people go off adventuring.

Gauvain nods once and looks over the path that he finds himself on. His eyes carefully judging the distance and surrounding area as he rides. "I'm glad he got us a guide. I don't doubt we would have found the castle, but having a guide will make it much easier." He rolls a shoulder in the saddle and gestures toward the mountain itself. "Do you know anything of this Lord we are heading to? I've heard the name, but nothing else."

"House Dalyan has held the mountains for centuries or so Lord Losthren informed me.", Samwell replies, "They are apparently… a little rough around the edges but they have been loyal to us all the time. Their mountain lookouts offer them a perfect view across the border into the north and they also keep the bandits and vagrants of the mountains in check. It's treacherous terrain though… I hope our horses can handle it.", he muses, patting his big destrier's neck. It's a horse for battles and long marches, not for climbing delicate mountain paths.

Listens as the Prince explains who the Dalyan are. "Hardy folk. I think I fought beside a Daylan in one of the battles of the Corsair War." He looks over to the Prince. "What are our goals here?"

"Is this mountain path the only way in and out of the castle?" It's a feminine voice making the query, though the identity comes into view as Claire nudges her horse further ahead for ease of conversing. "If so, I would think that it would only make sense one path would be traversable," comes the offered suggestion, her own horse's hooves clapping lightly against the surface underfoot.

"The same as in the other places.", Samwell replies, "Making sure that their fortress is safe and well-equipped and see if they need anything. My mother also felt that I need to acquaint myself better with our lands.", he admits, then points towards small wooden bridge over a little stream. Behind a bridge a lone rider is waiting on a scruffy pony. "That must be our guide.", Samwell tells Gauvain and also Claire when the lady catches up with them. "I'm sure it will be fine.", he assures her.

Gauvain looks to where Samwell points ot the lone rider and the identifies him as the guide. "The Queen, like all parents, must have a secondary reason for sending you to check on these castles." Gauvain says with a faint smile. "Could your Highness have driven his mother, the Queen insane, and she thus sent you on a long trip of the kingdom?" He asks with a good natured tone and grin.

"I doubt that the prince could ever do such a thing," Claire chimes in, lips twitching into a small smile as she glances down to guide her own horse across the rocky terrain. "But I can hardly see any harm in learning and seeing oft seen territories in the kingdom. Where are you headed after finishing your duties here?"

Samwell chuckles at Gauvain's questions. "I do not think my mother would appreciate you considering her insane.", he replies with a slight smirk, "And yes, there have been secondary motives, but… I need to go and meet our guide." Neat escape, Sammy. "We will talk about our next steps once we've completed these ones, Mylady.", he adds for Claire, "Now if you'd excuse me…" He nudges his horse on so he rides ahead of the group and meets the guide who's waiting for them.

Gauvain reins in and watches as Samwell moves on. "My guess is my Lady is that we'll continue to the Western lands. The Sollingers." He nods to Claire as he says, "Your family. They're one of the largest military strengths in the kingdom and are THE largest Navy."

The young local guy, let's call him Kevin, has led the small group into the mountains, where they are forced to ride single-file on a steep narrow path that winds its way through the rocks, a chill wind blowing in to tear at their clothes and hair. The horses are nervous, not liking the height and wind at all. Samwell rides ahead, just behind Kevin, trying to look composed and in charge… and not shit-scared. At least Kevin assured them, that the path would soon wind inland.

Sir Jaren and the chestnut mare he rides seem to both be equally stoic as they traverse the narrow pathway. Mountainous country is nothing strange to either of them, given that there are plenty of them in the lands administered in the Queen's name by House Lohstren. Compared to many of the other animals, Jaren's horse seems calm…or at least less scared. A well-trained animal, it seems.

Riding behind Jaren, Gauvain keeps a firm hand on the big black Warhorse that is Strider. The Horse is a monster, easily one of the biggest, and he is NOT comfortable riding on this ledge. For all the biting and surliness Strider normal presents, he is currently Wide eyed and locked right on Jaren's Horses ass. This of course leaves Gauvain a wry chuckle and smile. "Finally. Something that doesn't make you decide you want to kill the animal kingdom." He nods, and just takes in the view as he goes.

Claire appears outwardly calm, the mare ridden making her way forward one step at a time. It's not something that is disconcerting - being on a horse with such a narrow pathway finds her guiding the creature with one hand and the other resting soothingly against the horse's neck. The rest of the party that is rightfully hers remains behind, managing without complaint.

After another endless fifteen-twenty minutes the path finally winds inland indeed, away from the crazy precipice. Samwell is not the only one heaving a sigh of relief apparently. A large bleak expanse stretches out towards a leaden grey sky, high grey cliffs lining in on the left side. "We're an hour from the fortress now.", Kevin announces cheerfully, shouting against the winds, "Though watch out, there are often bandits lurking in the cliffs - passing riders make an easy target for their arrows.", he warns.

Gauvain looks to the back of the Horse's head, as Strider visably walks more relaxed. More his Warhorse Lordly self, then the terrified mule he was a moment before. Gauvain pats the large beasts neck and leans in to say to the horse, "Don't worry old friend. I won't say anything."

Strider winnies in softly in response.

At the announcement of possible bandits, Gauvain unslings his shield from the saddle pommel and straps it to his arm. He looks behind him for Bethany, and motions for her to do the same. Then he looses his sword in it's scabbard and begins to keep an eye out.

Much like his old friend, Jaren calmly shifts his shield from horse to shield-arm, glancing back to make sure Claire's armsmen are taking proper measures to keep their lady protected. His dark eyes scan the cliffs on either side as the move, watching for signs of ambush, whether of the arrows already mentioned, or potential deadfalls that could be used to block their path.

As always keeping close to her prince, Deidra scans the cliffs with attentive green eyes as she grabs the reins of her horse a little tighter. A glance towards Gauvain and his squire follows, before the Blue Guard turns her gaze to Prince Samwell. "Bandits, eh? As much as I'd love a bit if action, I'd rather we could do without an ambush of sorts…"

The new environment makes it easier for Sam to slow turn his horse a little and half-turn to smile at this companions. "Soon we'll be safe and warm indoors… with hot mulled wine awaiting us.", he tries to cheer them up, "Perhaps we should spur our horses on?" But the terrain is treacherous, full of small rocks and uneven, so nobody who remotely loves his horse would spur it into a gallop here. So they proceed in a slow pace, eyes forever scanning the horizon and the high cliffs. And suddenly… there's a faint smell of smoke in the air.

Having been in far too many ambushes in his career by people no better than Pirates, Gauvain draws the bastard sword in one smooth motion. He scans the horizon looking for the smoke, and holds the big sword at an angle to the side of the big Warhorse. The Horse flattens his ears, clearly sensing that battle may be upon them.

Jaren isn't so quick to draw his sword, but the smoke definitely catches his attention. Could be bandits, could be a hunting party, could be something else, but better to presume the worst, to his mind. So after a few moments, Jaren does indeed draw steel, if in a more leisurely fashion than Gauvain. His steed's ears do twitch a bit at the odor, but it remains steady and sure-footed despite any unease. Meanwhile, Jaren's eyes look for the visual evidence of the burning, as well as judging which direction the wind is coming from, to see if they can make an educated guess as to where they should be looking.

Steely green eyes narrow a touch when Deidra notices the smoke, one hand moves instinctively to the pommel of her sword, while the other keeps holding the reins of her steed. Her demeanour attentive and alert as all her senses seem to concentrate on taking in more information. Although… the smell suggests the damage might have already been done.

Kevin looks nervous too, trying to figure out where the smoke is coming from. "It's not the fortress.", he explains in answer to everyone's looks, "It's that way up, but the wind is coming from there…" He points towards the far end of the plain where more craggy rocks are in evidence. And if someone has really sharp eyes, they will see faint wisps of smoke drift through the sky. "Well, let's go, let's see if we can help!", Samwell decides and spurs his horse on, treacherous ground be damned.

Gauvain gives Jaren a look of: "Where we REALLY that young?" Then nudges Strider with his spurs and guides the horse with his knees, the Military Saddle keeping the big Knight in place. Strider moves easily, big rocks be damned, the Horse is bigger. He moves swiftly, trying to get in front of the Prince.

With Gauvain charging towards the front, Jaren flicks the reins of his mount, moving into position behind Samwell and his Blue Guard, to make sure no one tries to circle around and flank them. It seems unlikely they're expected, but best to be on guard despite that. He does, once again, glance back to make sure Claire and her small group of men-at-arms seem in good order, and are following relatively closely. Wouldn't want them to be separated at this point.

Soon enough they have covered enough ground to see that a house in a small hamlet is on fire and that there's mayhem going on. A bunch of mounted men in boiled leather with random bits of armor are spreading terror, swords raised, while families shriek and beg to be left alone. There just isn't anything left to steal. One bandit has dismounted and is chasing a young woman who's running away in terror. Sam knows he doesn't even have to command. He just spurs his horse on, draws his sword and gallops towards the tiny village.

Surveying the scene, Gauvain spurrs Strider into a full on charge. The Horse barreling down toward the village. For once wishing he'd have thought of putting his helm on for the ride, but foolishly having not. He closes the distance fast, the ground churned up in the Horse's wake as it closes the distance, sending clods of dirt and mud up with every stride of teh heavy Warhorse. Gauvain swings his blade as he rides between the Bandit and the woman, the big Bastard Sword arcing deadly and glinting off the light of the fires and what little light filters in through the smoke.

Jaren now applies the spurs, bringing his big chestnut mare up to speed, and heading towards one of the mounted bandits. He brings his blade up, and then around into a horizontal arc to try to slash the fellow across his upper body, or even better simply lop his noggin right off at the neck.

Claire and her entrougage are well equipped to maintain the pace set, though it's the noblewoman who looks as if she should have come better prepared. A healer, she is. But her capability is severely limited. Nevertheless, she and her party nudge their horses forward into a gallop to maintain pace with the troops and keeping within the center. Those fighting on the outside, while she and hers stay within. It's a loose type of organization, but she does remain alert.

Samwell leaves the knights and Blue Guards to do battle with the bandits and rides down the one who has been chasing the girl. Because the prince loves saving damsels in distress. It's enough to distract the man, so the girl can escape to safety. Meanwhile the bandits certainly hadn't expected a group of armed warriors to turn up and their defenses are limp at best. The first ones are already going down, others are struggling to gallop away on their horses but could be chased…

"Atheara guide your soul." Gauvain says as the man is cut down. Strider Rears and Gauvain turns the horse, as the massive beast paws the air. He spies another target and spurs Strider, who, eager for battle himself, lowers his head and snorts. He barrels toward another man, His Bastard Sword once again arcing in toward another of the bandits, coming down in a swift angle toward the top of the man's head. The blade threatening to split the skull, sever major arteries in the shoulder, or lop off an arm.

Jaren doesn't spare any words for the bandit he just felled, at least not aloud. He does, however, allow the momentum of his charge to carry him past the now-riderless horse and straight towards the nearest of the disorganized and haphazard cluster of bandits, again lashing out with the long blade to attempt to put down yet another before he can retreat, this time in an overhead slash aimed to catch the man between the neck and the shoulder and cleave downward.

Soon enough the rest of the bandits scatter and flee. Samwell lifts his arm to indicate that the knights should just let them run. There are five felled ones lying around and four confused riderless horses standing in the middle of the mayhem. "They're yours now, I suppose.", Samwell grins at one of the villagers. "Sir, I don't know how to thank you!", the man replies and the other villagers start thanking their saviours too. There are a few nursing grave cuts and other injuries though and Samwell starts looking around for Claire. "Who are you anyway and what brought you here?", a woman asks Gauvain.

Gauvain whispers a prayer for the second downed bandit, as he rips the Bastard sword out of the man's skull in a spray fo brain, blood, and bone. He turns Strider in a circle, searching for Bethany, and spies the girl just now coming up to the battle. He breaths a silent sigh of relief. "She's still not blooded." He makes the sign of the four and thanks them for that in a slight whisper.

Moving Strider closer to Samwell, the Big Knight lets out a breath. "Your Highness. Sir Jaren and I can easly hunt the rest down." He looks in the direction they fled. "We shouldn't leave this town unguarded. They may come back for retribution."

Jaren trots up alongside Gauvain, not adding anything to his summation of the situation. The commoner who asks her question of Gauvain, however, gets a reply, "Just travelers on our way to the Fortress of Brenton. Purely good fortune that we happened along." He'll leave it for Samwell to decide how much he might wish to reveal. Sometimes it's best not to advertise one's movements too loudly, after all.

Here. It's all that Claire doesn't call out her presence, pulling the reins sharply to come about to face Samwell with a gloved hand lifted in acknowledgement. She's already regaining her bearings and nudging her horse towards some of the injured, gloves being tugged off as she approaches.

Samwell won't go advertising who he is, once it is clear that the villagers in this remote outback have no idea that they are talking to a prince. "No -", he tells Gauvain, "It's pointless to hunt them down now. Let's help to bury the dead and bind the wounded here. We'll find out where their nest is and smoke them out there." He dismounts to talk to the man who seems to be leader of the villagers and ask him questions about the bandits. The man basically confirms Kevin's story of small bands of bandits roaming the mountains, turning up once in a while to steal livestock and harass the womenfolk. Samwell'S frown grows steeper and steeper the longer he listens.

Nodding once, Gauvain slides easily off Strider, nodding to Bethany to take the Warshorse. He bends down over the body of one of the bandits and wipes the blood off the blade before he sheathes it. "I will set up a perimeter, and check some of the houses to make sure there are no more hiding in ambush." He slings the shield on to Strider's saddle, and then stalks off, holding the big Bastard Sword easily in one lobstered Steel gauntlet. He scans as he moves, wary for any possible otehr intruders.

"The bandits do have the advantage of knowing the country." Sir Jaren notes, eyes roaming towards the direction the brigands fled, "They'll go to ground easily enough and be difficult to root out. But…why hasn't anyone from the Fortress done anything about this? They didn't have the look of spur-of-the-moment rogues." He wonders aloud, glancing between Samwell and the others assembled.

The man, who's probably introduced himself as Erek by now, shrugs sourly. "They don't care. They just hang around their fortress and get drunk. Unless they aren't attacked directly, they don't lift a finger to help us. Lack of manpower they claim." "We'll have words with Lord Dalyan.", Samwell promises gravely, "Even the lowest commoners are worthy of protection. If he cannot offer it to you, he may be relieved of his responsibility for this area." "Huh and who are you to make big promises?", another young man asks almost angrily, approaching with a woman bringing a tray of rather questionable home-brewn ale for their surprise guests.

"The man who leads those that just saved your lives and livelihoods." Jaren answers on behalf of Samwell, not in an angry or testy tone, simply matter-of-fact. "And if he says we will have words with Lord Dalyan, then we will have words with Lord Dalyan. Regardless, it seems likely the men of the Fortress have been lax in their duties." Jaren leans over a bit closer to Samwell and murmurs quietly, for his ears alone, "Or perhaps are receiving a share…"

"Also, how long has this been happening, I wonder," Claire asks, bringing her horse close to villagers before moving to dismount with the assistance of one of her guards. "We can start treating those injured over there," she directs with a pointing hand near where some already lie. "The most serious first. Those who can wait a few moments longer will be next." The unrest by the comments she does hear, do register for later addressing. Right now, there are injured to tend to.

The young man shuts up when Jaren addresses him in that matter of factly voice, but it's obvious that the villagers are still curious. Samwell holds back his identity though and listens to Jaren and Claire thoughtfully. "We will see what Lord Dalyan has to say for himself.", he finally says, "I also assume this is not the only village being blighted by bandits. Perhaps we should also speak with Lord Losthren about a stronger presence. The plain we just crossed could do with another stronghold, wouldn't you agree?"

"Possibly. Strongholds can be an expensive proposition though. The same purpose could be served with the regular rotation of men to and from Brenton. It was an arrangement that worked well at the River Fort I commanded…armed and clearly-organized parties moving through bandit territory tend to quiet things down rather quickly." Sir Jaren replies to Samwell, avoiding honorifics so as not to give up the ghost, but still clearly deferential to the somewhat younger man.

"In the short term, it may be beneficial to the people here if we remained for a little while. There are still people which need tending, but in all," Claire replies, attention mostly on the man in front of her - medical box open to one side and her maid involved in the process of getting fresh, clean water. "The question is, how long are we intending to stay here before moving on?"

Samwell sighs. "We were meant to stay overnight at Brenton, Lady Claire. We cannot stay here, it is not safe and we cannot impose on people. If you could treat as many as you can now, then we'll move on before nightfall - Kevin said it's less than an hour to Brenton from here." He looks at Jaren thoughtfully as he explains the arrangement and smirks. "Perhaps I should put you in command of the fortress." A few of the village women have shyly crowded around Claire, offering help to bind wounds, treat cuts and so on.

"If it is your will." Jaren replies to Samwell, inclining his head, "I will serve in whatever capacity required of me." Jaren smiles ever-so-faintly, "Though it may be that I could use some more time afield. The sound thrashing that Sir Deidra provided me in the practice yard would seem to indicate it, though I take no shame in being handily defeated by so skilled a Knight."

Help. Always accepted and never turned away. Especially now, taking the assistants and instructing them firmly in what they should be trying to do until she can reach them firsthand. It's a quiet organization - given that her rank has been noted. "Then, it would be within distance to check on the people on our return trip." Because treat and leave doesn't sit well with her. Not when the distance is so short. "I will do what I can," she says over one shoulder before turning back to her work at hand, quite literally. (Claire)

"Ah, but Sir Deidra is very special.", Samwell assures Jaren, "She's as elite as it gets, that's why she's my deputy." Hhe looks over to where Deidra is probably being helpful with something - digging graves or robbing the dead bandits' pockets. "I suppose we could do that.", he tells Claire, then he sets the empty mug down and rises to his feet. "Excuse me for a moment -" He heads over to where Erek is standing, gesturing and joins the man in a quiet conversation before they both walk away.

With Samwell moving on to attend other matters, Jaren turns his head to see Claire hard at work, and deciding it probably best to keep out of her way, he moves off towards the perimeter to catch up with Sir Gauvain and let him know that they'll be moving on in a relatively short time.

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