Author Topic: The Travails of Taelan Robhart  (Read 1043 times)

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Offline X-Avanil/Aubrae Avan (Thorsten)

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The Travails of Taelan Robhart
« on: April 01, 2012, 09:39:57 pm »
1.

The heat was sweltering. Even this late into autumn, the sun baked down, threatening to lay both man and beast low with its wicked sting and parch the throats of both old and young.
       
Captain Taelan Robhart squinted as he sent a reproachful look in the direction of the offending celestial object. Wasn't the sun Haelyn's symbol? Surely He could only look with favor upon a venture such as the one he and his men was preparing for. Noble and just. But if that was so then why did the bleeding thing blaze away with such unrelenting heat? It was almost unbearable.
       
The young cavalry-captain turned in his saddle to reach for the already half-empty watersack hanging from the saddle behind him. With a steady aim, he directed a stream of the lukewarm liquid into his mouth. He swirled it around and leaned forward to spit on the ground in an attempt to clear the foul combination of travel dust and dried up saliva. Another helping from the watersack followed the first, and then he allowed the third to trickle down his throat and into his stomach. And then the container was empty.

Taelan grunted and replaced it, before surveying the men who passed him on the road in double column towards the port up ahead. Each pair of riders nodded respectfully to their commanding officer as the went by him, before continuing whatever inane debates or discussions the common man bothered himself with. Being a viscounts son himself, Taelan was quite sure he had no clue just what the common man might find entertaining conversation, but he imagined it involved either pigs or whores – or maybe a combination of both. Peasants where strange that way.

He was considering stopping the next pair of riders and ask which it was, when Luthan Terl, a former farmhand who had shown himself apt at cracking skulls and keeping order in the ranks and had been made a sergeant as a result cantered his destrier up beside him. Terl was a shoddy horseman – one of the units worst, but more than made up for it through a series of other skills. And of course his rough but lovable demeanor made him well-liked by the men, which made keeping him around useful for Taelan.

        “Cap'n-Commander?” the sergeant asked when he saw his commander looking at him in a way that meant a question was soon forthcoming. They hadn't worked together for long, but the sergeant had made it his business early on to learn how to read his commanding officer. It made things go smoother. And smooth meant not being asking to take part in the van, when it came to battle – as well as getting out of several less desirable tasks around the camp. He'd also received a bottle of brandy once, after helping his captain with a few delicate matters. Who said brown-nosing never paid of?
        Taelan, still halfways into his pondering about the topics of choice for the common man, shook his head to clear his thoughts and lifted an arm to indicate their targets up ahead with a nod, sending his second a sideways glance. “There. So, what do you think?”
The gruff lieutenant rubbed his face and swiped the lanky hair plastered to his face out of his eyes and followed his captain's eyes. “Well, it's a boat, innit, Cap'n? A couple of 'em, matter o' fact.”
        Taelan suppressed a sudden urge to slap the man and took a deep breath instead. “I am aware of what they are, Sergeant. Will they work?”
        Terl shrugged, and scratched with a finger at his neck where his shirt cut into the skin and irritated him. “Well, they're probably rotten and filled with holes – friend o' mine once said that all ships start sinkin' the moment they leave the docks, and its just a matter o' how you treat them until then that means anythin'... but for gettin' from point A to point B, I suspect they'll work jus' fine. They float, and that's what matters.”
        “Good” Taelan said, relaxing visibly. “Then lets get everyone aboard and everything stowed away. We're late as it is...”
Aubrae Avan,
Princess of Avanil, Duchess of Taeghas

Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.

Offline X-Avanil/Aubrae Avan (Thorsten)

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Re: The Travails of Taelan Robhart
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2012, 10:01:19 pm »
2.

The crossing had gone fairly okay. A few horses had panicked and broken free when one of the flatbottomed barges that held them had lurched quite suddenly , but the soldiers had managed to get them calmed down before any serious damages could occur. A trio of men had also been put in detention for starting a drunken brawl  with the crew – Taelan's initial thought had been to flog them, but Sergeant Terl had talked him out of it, saying that the men would resent such a display of discipline when they hadn't even been gone for a month. Instead they had been tied together and left to mull upon their actions until they drink had left their bodies once more. 

Now, as the last of the horses where being led from the transports, Taelan had sought his tent, wanting to refreshen himself before a the next trek of their journey.

The young captain stared at his own image, reflected in an intricate silver mirror he had propped up against the lantern on his table. The face that looked back at him was youthful, yet tired. His dark brown eyes where perhaps just a bit too far apart to be considered charming, and a neatly kept beard covered the weak chin that had haunted the Robhart's for generations - Avanese fashion these days dictated that cheeks where bared, and that both moustache and beard where kept long and drooping, and while Taelan did not see himself as one of the fashion-sycophants that would change their wardrobe every other week, he did still insist on appearances.
Until his fate changed, appearances was more or less all he had left.

The most prominent feature, however, was Taelan's nose. Long and hooked. A training accident had left it broken and slightly crooked, but the captain had stubbornly refused to have it set properly, claiming it as a battle scar in the hopes that it would make him appear more mystic and dashing.

The small mirror, framed by the twin swordfish that had been part of his family's coat of arms for generations, was among his most prized possessions – combined with a slightly tarnished and well-used shaving kit it was almost all that was left to Taelan from his departed father, after his two brothers, his elders by a decade, had shared the inheritance between them, with little regard for the runt of the litter. The rest of his worldly possessions had been pawned off for a small amount of coin, all of which had gone to buy a sword and armor, and a cavalry commission.

And that was where he had been ever since. Training and working alongside the commoners that formed the core of the Avanese armies, and hating every day of it. His fortunes had certainly looked grim then – especially in the wake of the burning of Daulton. Soldiers in the employ of Avanil, it seemed, did not have the highest survival rate. Especially with the Terror from Thasbyrne on the loose.
That was possibly why his brothers hadn't prevented his move too. They hoped, no doubt, that, like so many others, he too would find his end at the tip of a Boer sword or an errant arrow and give them less to worry about.

But while he was prone to brood upon his own misfortune and his brothers deceit whenever he shaved, a ritual he had conducted for years - for once it was something else that held his attention as he sharpened the blade and lathered up. 
Now, the face that looked back at him was filled with determination, rather than thoughts of revenge. He had been given the opportunity to serve his country, and, should he do well, the captain-commander had no doubt that his fortune would rise. Now, if only he could get this over with without putting his foot in it too badly...
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 10:06:51 pm by Avanil/Aubrae Avan (Thorsten) »
Aubrae Avan,
Princess of Avanil, Duchess of Taeghas

Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.

Offline X-Avanil/Aubrae Avan (Thorsten)

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Re: The Travails of Taelan Robhart
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2012, 07:47:25 am »
3.

When you thought about it, it was actually quite amazing how relatively minor things could have such a major impact. At least that's what Taelan considered as he chewed through his day-old bread, washing it down with sour wine of local stock.
Take for example his present situation. Just one small stone had been enough to make his horse go lame after it threw a shoe, thus leaving the captain of a thousand Avanese horse without one himself.
Somewhere, he was sure of it, someone was laughing at his misfortune.

They had brought spares, of course – every company had a few extra horses which helped carry the provisions at first, and doubled as reserve-mounts for just such occasions as these. That way they wouldn't have to leave a man behind in foreign territory. But it was still just a bit too ironic not to notice, that the only horse to go lame so far had been his own. Even Terl had managed the daily treks with nothing but a sore backside to show for it.

Taelan snorted. At least they had made decent progress. Not as fast as he'd hoped, granted, but they where moving forward. And as they did, tension had visible risen in the ranks.
It was always a funny thing, riding into the unknown. His men and he had trained it a couple of times, certainly – but there was quite the difference between training and live combat. And of course on this side of the Maesil waving a banner with the Avanese dragon around might as easily be construed as a threat as anything else. Just another reason to be wary.

Not for the first time, the captain of the horse-regiments hoped that the Princess' plan worked as she intended. They'd heard rumors about the situation in Calrie – tidbits at best, but the closer they came, and the more they heard, the better the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

They said the city had fallen, that traitors where everywhere and that people who where once the closest of neighbors and friends, now looked for nothing more than the best way to plant a dagger in their next fellows back. Taelan scoffed at this – until these people had experienced true Avanese brotherly love, he doubted they had anything to complain about. At least with a dagger the end came swiftly, rather than linger on to fester and grow, until it consumed you whole.

They also said that several large hosts had converged on the province. So at least there the Princess projections seemed to be on the mark. Hopefully that boded well for the future.

He attacked the dry bread in his hand with his teeth once more, more out of necessity than any actual wish to eat it, and wolfed the last of it down. Then he stood back up, grimacing as his sore muscles protested at the treatment, and looked out over the small army of men under his disposal. They had gathered in small groups, some sitting and eating, like he had just done himself, and others trying to get what sleep they could. A few riders where still in the saddle, maintaining a loose perimeter around the resting troops, and up ahead he could see smalls group of ouriders moving ahead and off to the side to get the lay of the land in front of them in preparation for the small host to move out again. Five men where returning with two horses between them. Heavy sacks hung across over their backs – filled with bread and dried corn to top off their steadily dwindling supplies. Parties such as that one was constantly out buying what they could, and, Taelan had no doubt, even sometimes taking what they couldn't, though they had strict orders to cooperate with the local populace. That was just the way things where –  give a man a sharpened stick and teach him how to use it, and suddenly he feels himself more entitled to a piece of bread than the baker who made it in the first place. In fact it sometimes seemed like the only real difference between mere thugs and royal soldiers where the men who led them.

Taelan snorted again. That was just another reason that Taelan needed to reclaim the Robhart-legacy from the weasals that currently held it. He could only all to vividly imagine the chaos that would ensue, if his older sniveling pen-pushing brothers stood in his stead. Gods above. Just thinking about them standing in the defense of Avanil made him sick to the core. Avanil didn't need sycophants and perfumed dandelions with nothing in their heads and even less between their legs. It needed men of action. Men who did their Princess honor. Men like him.

Looking about, Taelan spotted one of his adjutants – a gangly lieutenant of about the same age as himself, what was his name again? Boelswick? Boerswick? Mightily unlucky name for an Avanese chap, no wonder people disliked him. The captain caught his attention and gave a throw with his head in the direction of the resting troops.
   “Raise the men – we ride out in ten minutes. We've dallied enough around here.”
« Last Edit: April 02, 2012, 08:00:25 am by Avanil/Aubrae Avan (Thorsten) »
Aubrae Avan,
Princess of Avanil, Duchess of Taeghas

Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.

Offline X-Avanil/Aubrae Avan (Thorsten)

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Re: The Travails of Taelan Robhart
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 10:51:25 am »
4.

The wind blew from a southern direction, as Taelan Robhart galloped his horse down the gentle slope to rejoin his command. The visor on his bascinet had prevented him from getting a clear view, and so he had opted to take it off, hanging the helmet from a strap on his saddle. His dark hair, fastened with a strip of leather, almost reached his shoulders, and bobbed up and down along the movement of the horse.

His face betrayed none of his thoughts, as he slowed the horse down and came to a stop where the rest of his command-section awaited him. The other captain where all, as he, young and relatively unproven on the field of battle, which made them prone to a self-imposed sense of invulnerability. But after Terl had cracked a few skulls at Taelan’s direction, they at least knew enough to stay silent until their commander had spoken. He considered that a small victory all on its own. Had anyone told him six weeks ago, that Avanese commanders where an arrogant and self-absorbed bunch, he would have laughed at them, and then probably run them through with his sword for impugning his honour - but now he knew the truth. You’d be hard pressed to find a group of people who thought more highly of themselves and their capabilities. Except perhaps Boeruineans.

One of men, a captain of one of the outrider regiments, coughed lightly to bring attention to the fact that everyone was waiting on him. Taelan sent him a reproachful look.
   “The highway keeps going eastwards” he began, pointing in the direction the road headed. “But we’re not going that way. Instead we’ll pick our path south from here.”
   Glancing around the group of officers he stilled any comments with a glance, allowing him to continue. “We’ll head off the main path up there” another indication, as Taelan made a vague gesture in the direction the column was heading. “I saw a road - a dirt path really - going around those hills over there”  at this he stood up on his stirrups and made a swooping motion with his hand to encompass the small series of hills to the south of the group.
   “I want a number of scouts up top to keep an eye out for trouble. The rest of us will continue on south. Oh, and I spotted light smoke rising in the distance, so I assume we’ll encounter a few minor settlements. Nothing out of the ordinary. We’ll try to steer clear somewhat clear of them, but lets use the opportunity to stock up on necessities before moving on.”

Taelan had wanted to cut a few days of their traveling time by staying closer to the ancient forest that marked the boundaries of the spiderfell. Surely a thousand men and their mounts would keep the forests creepy denizens at bay he reasoned - but something had spooked the horses, and this was about as close as they could get them, without using extra time and energy to properly handle the beasts and keep them in check. It was bad enough to have to deal with rebellions and errant wars that saw cities burned to the ground. The young captain could not for the life of him imagine having to live with the knowledge that every moment a horde of scuttling vermin might erupt from the dark canopies in the far distance. Taelan looked at it, and felt himself sucked in by the almost palpable sense of malice hidden among the old and gnarled trees. Even the Manslayer’s realm, when viewed from afar, had a civilized outlook to it - this forest just felt foreboding. Like it crept up on you, somehow, and got under you skin.

He shook his head to clear the sense of creep crawling all over him, and returned to the present. Someone, the same outrider-captain as before, had apparently asked something, and now everyone was looking expectantly at Taelan for an answer. Instead, Taelan shrugged noncommittally and cleared his throat, decidedly ignoring the man.
   “Let’s get moving. Dismissed.”
Aubrae Avan,
Princess of Avanil, Duchess of Taeghas

Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.