Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Siege of the White Mountain; Vol. 2: Fields Running Red--Part 56

The crowd gathered to meet the emissaries sent by the opposing army was large, and chaotic, a roiling, muttering mass--and somehow, Elaine was very glad of that. The tiny handful of men sent to see them--consisting of a rather confused looking young man with light brown hair, wearing armor and a light yellow cape, and handful of rather sullen-looking guards in what she realized were Amfortas’ livery--were visibly overawed by the crowd confronting them. Every advantage they had, was one denied to the Leonais, she felt these days.

As she watched the young man fidget about on his horse, Elaine almost felt a bit of sympathy. But then he spoke, and killed that very quickly. “Gentlemen…” he began in tones that suggested that words aside, he considered his general position to be that of a man talking to a bunch of rather willful children.

The Countess Gradasso cupped a hand to her mouth. “Have we all become gentlemen while we weren’t looking, Osric de Ross?”

Osric flinched at that. “Gentlemen and ladies,” he continued. “I have been instructed by my master, the Prince Astolfo to inform you that those of you of the Free Cities who choose to surrender now, may be assured of mercy. This will not be granted to those captured after the battle, when…”

Count Morgante de Serricana blinked. “Pardon--did you just ask us to surrender?”

“Yes,” stated Osric with a nod. “You will be treated with mercy, and forbearance.”

A steady rise of titters came from the assembled crowd. “And what of the Nightfolk?” asked Duke Agrivain. “Will they enjoy the same treatment?”

Osric glanced around nervously, noticing as if for the first time the rather significant crowd of Erls, Ogres and even Goblins among the group. “Ahh… well… they are… the enemy…”

“We are your enemy,” said Marfisa, looking rather impressive in her winged armor to Elaine’s surprise.

“As are we all,” said Duke Brunello. He regarded Lord de Ross calmly. “Now, you flea of a flea, crawl back to your master, the Prince Rabicano, and tell him that we regard his master as the enemy of all righteous folk, and that we have deemed siding with the Children of Night as a lesser evil than siding with him.”

Lord Osric glanced around desperately. “I… you will all… there will be no mercy… None! When the Sev--Seven give us victory we…”

The Gali Khan crossed his arms. “You are outnumbered, your men are green as grass, and you face the hussars of Tremisona, the Kizaks of all three Hordes, and the valiant men and women both have spent their existences fighting.” The old man shook his head. “There is no future for you, boy, save the a blade plunging in your bowels and your life oozing out the hole. And you dare threaten us?” He cackled. “Boy, I say you should hope your Seven are as powerful as you all say--and that they hold you in high regard indeed.”

Osric listened to that, then gave one last look around the group before turning around. “Very well! You have made your choice! You have chosen who you stand with! He gestured at Marfisa and Gali Khan. “Your doom! On your head!” He rode off then, followed by his smallish retinue.

They watched him leave for awhile, and then Marfisa clapped her hands together and smiled broadly. “That was AWESOME! We were so cool and honorable, and intimidating! It all worked! That guy was terrified throughout the whole thing! And he tried not to show it! And he failed!”

“Osric de Ross,” said Duke Brunello, “was born scared of his own shadow.”

“Well, we scared him MORE than that,” Marfisa declared. “So good for us!”

Elaine felt a hand nudging her shoulder. She turned and saw the man she’d been introduced to as Duke Valfonda. “Ahh… Lady du Lac,” he asked, in a soft voice, “is the Marshal… always like this?”

Elaine nodded. “It’s part of her charm.”

Valfonda considered that. “Ah. I see.” He nodded a few times, then coughed politely.

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