Jessica stood on the orcs chest and took a firm grip on her great two-handed sword. She had hit the little bastard far too hard. She wiggled the weapon back and forth slowly working it loose from where it had lodged in his chest.
Sir Jory stomped up to her, and smacked her on the back with the loud “clang” of bloodsteel on mithril. He was covered in blood, and she could tell from the way he was favouring one leg that at least some of it was his own.
“That’s the last of them,” he said grimly.
“What about the ones that made a break for the tree-line?” asked Jessica. finally getting her sword free. She checked he blade carefully, then kicked the orc corpse in the head. “Notched the blade, dammit.”
“They didn’t get far.” Sir Rory inclined his head to a Navarri archer picking among the dead for unbroken arrows.
Jessica looked skeptical, but held her peace. Like many Dawnish she considered the bow-and-arrow a poor choice for a warrior’s weapon.
“None of them made it into the trees, then?”
Sir Jory shook his head. “It was strange, mind. Three of them made it to the edge … and then … they came back.”
Jessica began to wipe her sword clean. Sir Jory put his hands on his hips, breathing heavily, and leant forward slightly. He looked pale under the blood.
“Are you alright?”
Sir Jory waved her concern away. “Right as rain once I’ve had a sit down. One of the brutes dinted my helmet for me. That’ll teach me to turn my back on a desperate Druj, even if it’s cause two of his friends are trying to disembowel me.”
The two Dawnish looked towards the forest. A wall of green, stretching as far as the eye could see. Not just a metaphorical wall, not really.
“How far does it go do you think?” asked Sir Jory.
“All the way to the Barrens, obviously.” Replied Jessica. She sheathed her blade, now clean, and looked speculatively at the dead orcs around her. Sir Jory made a sound halfway between a grunt and a snort.
“They’ve attacked Drycastle, I hear.” he said to nobody in particular. “And set one of the Towers aflame to boot. Bloody vermin.”
Jessica, a questing knight, had more experience fighting the orcs of the Barrens. She chose her words carefully.
“You know they brought Lord Agravaine back? I remember telling you - the questing knight?”
Sir Jory nodded. “I remember you saying that all the talk was that the Barrens was ripe for the conquering.”
“I know that with a fourth army, with the Druj out, with Spiral Castle admitting they’re part of Dawn again, there won’t be a better time to strike in the next decade, if ever. Once we get bogged down in Urizen, or on the west side, we’ll not get loose again easily.”
Sir Jory shrugged. “I don’t know if I agree with you … but I do know that right now there are orcs shooting arrows into Dawnish yeomen and the only thing between us and them are some trees.”
They looked at the Forest of Peytaht again. Jessica forced a grin - and the Paragons knew there had been few enough of them in the last few months.
“Spooooky trees,” she joked. Sir Jory met her gaze.
“Well, you know what a Dawnishman such as myself says when told that a forest is full of things even the Druj are fightened of?”
They stared at each other in silence for a moment. Jessica’s grin become stronger, more natural.
“I assume it’s the same as this Dawnishwoman says - let’s go and see what the Druj are so afraid of …”
She slapped Sir Jory on the back with a clang of mithril on bloodgold, and the pair of them went off to report the destruction of another orc encampment.
A fourth army, and a series of attacks against the people of Dawn. Time to sound the horns and raise the standard of war over the Barrens, claim the troubadours. You can learn more about this opportunity here → profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Crusade
The picture is a banner design by Kate Lee which some monkey has scrawled the word “GLORY!” on ineffectually. It’s embarassing, frankly.
#IreallyhopehewascalledLordAgravaine, #strikewhilethebloodishot, #GLOOOORY!