Author Topic: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5  (Read 3429 times)

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Offline Laurna

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Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« on: March 26, 2013, 03:45:42 am »

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Chapter 5 - WIC 9.18.985  2nd coin

Sir Washburn Iliff Cynfyn, Knight Captain, commander of the armies of Lendour, and heir presumptive to the Earldom of Lendour, eased his seat back in the saddle.  His scan of the rising hills before him found nothing but the beckoning road home.  He urged his steed forward.  The black R’Kassi stallion, aptly named ‘Shadowed Night’, lightly pranced a short anxious trot before settling back to an eased walk.

Shadow sported the full regalia of a wealthy lord on his parade home from a victorious war.  The stallion’s barding was of light armor, the heavy war plate had done its job throughout the season; it was no longer required during the hot journey home.  The light barding was composed of a half plate mail champron covering his head from ears, across the eye bows, and down the nose.  A crinite of light chain mail replaced the heavy war mail across the stallion’s arched neck and chest.  A croupier of light mail covered the stallion from saddle to haunches.  All this iron and steel was protected from the heat of the sun by the drape of silk.  This black stallion’s caparison was of black ground, with red and black checkered bordering.  Emblazoned at the hindquarters was the heraldry of the house of Cynfyn: a red rearing stag on a white shield.  The rider emulated his steed in the wearing of light plated armor and chain mail under a tunic of red on black.  The warrior had also chosen to leave his heavy war armor behind with the baggage for these last two days ride home.  The knights at his back rode in similar array, with light armor and a brilliant variation in the color of each caparison.

The Knight Captain’s stature, on this warm mid-September morning, was straight and attentive.  He led fifty of Lendour’s greatest knights toward the final destination of the city of Cynfyn, the seat of the earldom and home.  The Knights of Lendour were honored men, well disciplined in loyal ranks.  They had shared the long seasons of battle in the fields of the City of Rengarth to the east.  They were a renowned heavy cavalry, which had gained the respect of the newly crowned King Cluim of Gwynedd.  They had won the field through an array of skirmishes that led to the main battle at the very gates of Rengarth.  The siege was finally broken, and the Torenth army was routed back across the mountains, eastward into the enemy’s own lands.  These men at his back, Sir Washburn called friends.  They were skilled and loyal to the house of Cynfyn.  He led them in fairness and honesty, relaying the orders of the Earl of Lendour with victorious effect.

Wash’s faith and loyalty sat squarely on the shoulders of his older brother, Earl Muir Cynfyn.  As his men looked to their Knight Captain, so did Wash look to Muir.  The two men could be mistaken for twins, though Muir had five years on his younger brother.  Both men wore their gold hair short beneath their helms, with a neatly combed mustache, and a goatee upon their chins.  Both men’s eyes were blue, but Wash had a rounder face that often gave a more youthful appearance than his twenty-six years.  The clear difference was that Wash, as the rogue, affected blacks in most of his attire.  By contrast, Muir’s preferences lent itself to the reds and whites of his hereditary colors.  Hence, the magnificent grey stallion that he rode, ten paces behind the commander.  The stallion proudly displayed the house of Cynfyn heraldry of white field caparison with a red and white checkered border.  Muir named the grey ‘Mystic Morning’ in response to the name of his brother’s steed.  It was a private joke between friends.  For the first time in months, Muir was relaxed and enjoying this final ride home.  He sat in the midst of his knights, relishing the casual camaraderie that his title seldom allowed.

The vanguard of fifty strong knights and twenty squires at Sir Washburn’s back had on the previous day dispatched from the main Lendour army an army of thirty-five hundred soldiers.  These men considered themselves home, having cleared the northeastern boundaries of the Earldom of Lendour two days ago.  Once in home territory, the army had split in half:  those heading south along the mountain’s base toward Drellingham, and those traversing the east/west pass to travel over the Lendour Mountains to reach the western facing hills where the capital of the earldom and the castle of Cynfyn stood strong.  The main army with their heavy equipment and wagons would take an additional five days to reach their chosen destinations.  Earl Muir Cynfyn had left the army early, looking forward to finally getting home.

The morning hours saw the cavalry riding steadily westward, ascending far above the dry grassy hills of yesterday.  The brush above their heads turned to trees and the trees to dense woods.  They climbed through the forested mountains, upward toward the Pass of Festil.  The pass was a treacherous ravine in the mountainside, which got its name from the first Torenthi earl who fiercely controlled this land a hundred and fifty years before.  The road ended a quarter mile before the opening of the pass.  Here the waters at the source of the Molling River descended off the northern mountains into a flat valley bottom.  Over eons of time, the mountain waters had eroded the westward pass through the hills forming the rugged gorge.  At its narrowest, the gorge was only thirty feet wide with a stepped northern cliff face and a rocky southern hillside.  The autumn and spring floods made the ravine impassible, forcing travelers north around the mountain into Carcashell, or far south into Dhassa.  Not today, however, the dry summer had baked away the moisture, leaving the pass open for horses and men.

As the noon hour approached, with the blazing sun shining on them over the heads of the tall oaks and spruce, the cavalcade of knights came to the end of the road and descended into the river valley before the Pass of Festil.  Lord Washburn stopped well back of the gorge before him.  He cast his mind outward, not expecting to find more than a wolf or a deer.  To his utter surprise, he felt the presence of nearly two hundred minds waiting in ambush on the rock ledges ahead. 

How negligent could he have been?  Within three hours ride of Castle Cynfyn, lying in wait, was a battalion of the enemy.

He furled his brow under his helm, and his blue eyes scanned the northern rock crest for any outward signs of attack.  There were none.  The Torenthi had the location well laid out.  If not for his Deryni senses, he might have walked his men into the mouth of death.  Once more being Deryni proved its worth.  He sent mental warnings to his brother and to Sir Artimus behind him, and then to Sir Dillon at his side.  The three other Deryni within his vanguard were as surprised as he to find the enemy so close to home.  The message quickly spread by words and hand signals to their human comrades.  Within seconds, all knew of the confrontation about to erupt.  They were battle trained and ready.

The Knight Captain held his men in the relatively more open riverbed on the valley floor where he stood.  It was eminently more preferable than that of the narrow gorge of the enemies choice.  To retreat would prove of no value.  Racing back up to the east road, with arrows at one’s back, would be just as fatal as walking into the trap ahead.  Better to face this rabble on his own terms.  They would make a stand and force the Torenthi to come to them.   

A word to Sir Dillon sent the lieutenant back, retreating through the vanguard.  Sir Dillon quickly handpicked the eight sharpest archers among the fifty.  The nine of them retreated at a gallop back up to the east road they had just departed.  A quarter mile back was a hidden break in the north crest wall.  Concealed from all except for those who knew of it was a small deer trail, which climbed the steep hill and crossed the north cliff face at its top line.  This would place Dillon and his men above the enemy archers that invariably waited on the rocky cliffs within the gorge.  The trail was known well to the Cynfyn brothers and Sir Dillon.  As children, they had used it to spy on the old king coming home from Corwyn.

Just as predicted, a vault of metal tipped arrows flew high and far, attempting to eat the distance to the stand of the Lendour Knights.  The arrows fell short by some fifty feet.  Not far enough away for Wash’s taste.  A weightier bow and a stronger arm could send an arrow well into their midst.  Shields swung off men’s backs and steady left arms held them out for protection.

Wash sent a mental word to his brother, warning him to stay back in the middle of his men. “They may not have picked you out of the group yet— best stay where you stand.”

Muir’s response was displeased.  Nonetheless, he stayed near the center back of the vanguard, with his loyal lieutenant Sir Artimus at his side.

Six knights, shields high, took the front line to either side of their commander.  Of the six, Washburn’s two loyal friends came to stand guard at either of his sides: Sir Paulson moving to his right hand, and Sir Thomas holding steady at his left.  Sir Larret and Sir Garwin moved further to his left, just as Sir Ronald and Sir Lambert moved far to his right.  The seven men formed a formidable line of protection for those who prepared behind them.  A third of the knights behind pulled forth their short bows, stretching war tipped arrows into place.  They readied to wreak havoc on the enemy when they came.  The rest, including the squires, surrounded the Earl of Lendour.  They drew their swords, and they waited for the enemy’s move.

A second volley of arrows once more fell short, but only this time by twenty feet.

“Let them come to us!”  Lord Washburn commanded, letting his stallion prance in place at the front line.  They did not have a long time to wait.

The Torenthi army, reordered from their failed ambush, came out from the narrow pass mounted on wild coursers and desert ponies.  They yelled and hollered, brandishing steel above their heads.  Their seemingly undisciplined ranks were a deception that Lord Washburn found all too familiar.  He counted their number at greater than one hundred and momentarily wondered where the rest lay hidden.  If thirty archers hid in the rocks, then at least another seventy men were somewhere unseen.

He held his sword hand high and waited for the descending horde to come nearer.  At thirty paces, his hand slammed downward, and a multitude of arrows from the cavalry short bows flew out from between the protection of the Lendour front line.  He did not have to look to know the bowmen quickly notched a second set of arrows to their bowstrings to let those fly immediately upon the first.

An entire row of horses and men stumbled and fell, crashing down into the uneven riverbed floor.  Some of the enemy behind went down as well, before horses had the room to leap over their fallen comrades.  The Lendour bows once more let fly a full third round, sending more of Torenth’s front line cavalry to the rocks.  Unstoppable, the masses of the enemy came on, crushing against the Lendour shields.  Swords sang out as both sides came together in a deafening clash.

Skill, precision, and instinct influenced each individual confrontation from that moment on.  The Lendour Cavalry had the advantage of well-trained heavy warhorses and superior weapons, with long swords wielded with deadly precision.  The Torenthi advantage was smaller agile mounts, with quick maneuvering ringed leather armor and three times the greater number of men.  Washburn’s sword danced to the tune of clanging steel.  His long blade cut into the enemy with relentless conviction.  His shield arm, ever facing the enemy archers to the north, proved justified as two well-aimed arrows clashed against the shield’s metal face.  The enemy had found at least two archers with the strength to pull that distance.  The others at his side took note and kept their shield arms high.  The enemy now had pushed beyond the Lendour front line, bringing all the knights into the fray.

Slash and dodge, cut and block.  Sword against shield, shield against axe, and pounding warhorse hooves against anything that hit the ground.  The front line of Lendour knights fought with tenacity.  Their commander on his black warhorse was immortal.  A ferocious number of foes fell before him, but an equal number slipped past and behind.  The front line was pushed forward toward arrow range, while the remaining vanguard was shoved back.  The seemingly inconsequential tactic was not recognized until far too late to correct.  The front line of seven was separated from the main core of defenders.  The enemy pushed them north and west toward the opening of the ravine and the archers waiting there.  An attempt was made to fight back from the cliff sides, but the desert ponies, with their attack and run tactics, made the attempt impossible.  Washburn feared the enemy arrows could be their undoing, as more arrows rained down upon his shield.  One thing was quite clear, the enemy had mistaken Wash for the earl, and all arms were strengthened against him.  The Torenthi orders were obvious: at all cost, take him down.
“Wash!  ‘Ware the Brush!”
  Muir’s tightly focused mental warning instantly alerted Washburn of the new danger.  Too late, Wash saw the ambush his brother had sensed on his left flank.  Spinning Shadow around, he turned just as deadly crossbow bolts rang out from the line of green brush covering the southern slope at the mouth of the pass.  Six bolts flew as one across the open riverbed with an anticipated fatal outcome.
The crossbow men surely were sorely disappointed.  All six weighted missiles with razor sharpened flat steel heads shifted angle in mid-flight.  Two thumped uselessly into the dirt under the black stallion’s hooves, three flew high far above the rider’s heads into the enemy behind, and only one hit its target with an unintended aim far off center.  This last barb slammed home between the chain mail and plated armor of Washburn’s right shoulder.  The force of it slammed the commander’s body back.  He caught his balance, bruised and angry.

More deadly than a long bow arrow, the short missiles of the long-stalk siege crossbows held such impact that it could pierce plated armor at three hundred yards.  Fortunately, there was a distinct reload time when the bowman had to turn the crossbow vertical and ratchet the bowstring back to be ready for another round.  Once the crossbows were ready to aim again, only Deryni magic could defend against them.  Something had to be done about those crossbows now, before that magic was diverted.  The black knight spurred Shadow south and charged in a hard line across the riverbed, betting he could beat the crossbow men from taking that second shot.  The three knights at his left flank saw him turn and knew his plan.  They turned with him in a mad charge across the riverbed.

For just a second, Wash glanced back over the heads of the enemy, spying the defending vanguard on their tall warhorses, swords flashing in the continuous fray.  In their midst he saw his brother, head high, eyes unfocused, and his body deceptively unaware of the surrounding melee.  In full trance, Muir’s well-trained mind had located the incoming missiles and deflected them out of targeted alignment.  The helm of Sir Artimus and others were there at Muir’s back keeping the enemy away from the Deryni lord.  Could he hold the trance long enough for Wash to destroy this new danger?  Faster, he spurred Shadow, gaining power and speed in his stallion’s full charge.  The distance across to the southern valley’s edge lengthened in his perception.  The four heavy warhorses pounded their hooves into the riverbed, sending sand upward in a wake behind them in their crazed race for time.  Behind him, his three right-hand, front-line men had missed the queue of the charge.  Belatedly they pulled to the south behind the four chargers, but they were slowed by the horde of enemy at their backs.

Sir Thomas pulled ahead of the four charging destriers, jumping the brush first and succeeded in trampling a crossbow man to the ground before that bolt flew free.  In that same instant, three of the long siege crossbows were primed with deadly aim at the closing targets.  The time to target in the commencing volley came too short for Muir to manage them all.  The first bolt flew clear, but the second heavy bolt struck clean through Lord Washburn’s shield.  With unyielding power, the short-feathered shaft drove the steel point deep through mail, skin, and muscle of the forearm that held the shield upward in defense.  The third loosed arrow, intending for Sir Larret’s breastplate, was magically pushed right and low.  The missile missed its target, but it erringly took Sir Ronald, ten paces back, in the knee.

Intent on the foliage hiding his target, and angered by the pain in his shield arm, Washburn clenched his jaw tight and spurred a leap from his warhorse over the brush.  One man met the stallion’s spiked hooves face on, while his kneeling neighbor took the full swing of the commander’s long sword across the neck.  His momentum carried the Knight Captain up the hill a short pace.  The clang of Sir Larret’s sword upon a fourth crossbowman followed close on Washburn’s haunches.  He spun Shadow hard around searching for the last two men.  Garwin had the fifth man down as he turned, but the last bowman brought his primed unspent weapon into play. 

The weapon discharged.

Unhindered by Deryni magic, the razor head bolt flew straight.  Wash pushed Shadow to leap sideways, but the move was flawed, and his stallion only jumped half a pace to the side.  At the twenty-foot range, the thrust of the cross bolt shaft sank past silk and chain mail, skin and muscle, slipping to its full length within the stallion’s muscled chest wall.

Startled, the black warhorse screamed and reared.  He threatened to flip over backwards away from the penetrating shaft.  Nearly unhorsed, Wash brought the flat of his sword down between the ears of his steed, clanging a sound against the champron loud enough to send the stallion back down on all fours.  Wash gave a mental commanded, and the black locked his knees.  The stallion shivered, stunned, but kept his legs under him.  Behind him, Sir Thomas raced toward his commander, not knowing whether the horse or the rider had been hit.  Both were injured, and the crossbowman was taking advantage of that fact.  He had tipped the crossbow stalk vertical and was already cranking fast and hard to bring the bowstring back again.  Another moment, and he would be ready to launch another bolt.  Sir Thomas made certain the man never met that desire.  He ran the man through with the point of his sword.

Horses winded and men out of breath, the four knights took a moment to regroup.  Victory was theirs against the enemies’ devastating crossbows, the one weapon that could have lost them this battle.  However, the moment was drowned by the sound of barbaric howls.  In abrupt despair, the four front-line men glanced up the southern slope of rocks and trees to see the hillside frothing with movement.

Leaping from every hiding place, the seventy unaccounted foot soldiers swarmed over the knights like insects protecting their hive.  Sir Garwin was unhorsed and stabbed to death in seconds.  Sir Larret took the horde on with his heavy-handed sword thrusts, while Sir Washburn spurred the wounded Shadow to Larret’s side.  For a moment, the two knights bloodied the horde in singular form.  Nevertheless, the swarm of footmen was unrelenting.  Howling like mad men, wielding sharp curved swords with one hand and long daggers with the other, they poured over the two knights like a high tide bashing the shoreline rocks.  Wash’s long sword, in continuous motion, defended Shadow’s right open flank.  He could not help Larret as his red stallion’s legs were cut out from under him.  The horse and great knight of Lendour went down in a dreadful heap of sliced chain mail and blood.

Sir Thomas, far behind, was fighting in a crush of enemy to reach his commander’s side.  Desperate and alone, Sir Washburn defense turned chaotic, his sword slashed wildly at every enemy in his path.  They relentlessly came at him with vengeance in their eyes.  In the swarm of turmoil, an unseen enemy with a strong thrusting arm drove a scimitar blade upward under Washburn’s wounded shield arm.  The blade sliced easily through chain mail and skin, continuing upward under ribs into deep flesh.  In the adrenalin of the moment, Wash barely felt the blade going in.  Only as it was withdrawn with a purposeful twist did the Knight Captain gasp out, and for a moment, his world went white.

Unable to breathe or see, Wash instinctively slashed the long sword down angrily across his left wounded side, catching the face of the man that dared to draw his blood.  The body of the enemy fell away, but his mission was complete.  The commander of the Lendour army faltered, gasping in torment.  His formidable energy drained away as blood ran freely down his leg.  The enemy saw and surged toward him.  Sir Thomas was miraculously there beside him, wielding his sword in swift, protective swings. 

Spurred by need, the last of the three remaining front line warhorses galloped from the riverbed’s edge toward their commander, taking guard position around him.  Dazed and in shock, riding in the eye of the storm, Wash managed to tear away the front of his tunic and stuff the red and black silk hard into the gaping hole of his mail.  The excessive pain of jamming the silk caused him to yell out, but the tight weave managed to curtail the blood exiting his side.

The clang of steel around him forced his numb, shocked mind back into the battle of the moment.  He focused his eyes with difficulty and found his men to be in a crisis.  He could not let them take his men down so cheaply.  His jaw clenched, his mind pulsed,—insanely he charged Shadow toward the center of the mayhem.

Thomas was at that center taking the wrath of the enemy.  Shadow’s charge was sluggishly slow.  Washburn hacked and slashed gaining distance, but not close enough when Thomas took a blade through the shoulder, losing his sword from the attack.  In desperate need, Wash jammed his spurs in Shadow’s sides.  The stallion screamed even as he leaped, landing with flailing legs and hooves, trampling the attackers in his path.  Only sheer desire for life kept the stallion from falling to the ground.

In a blur of need, the two knights crowded together.  They had thinned out the horde, but the Torenthi still came on.  Washburn’s slow swing missed his opponent.  He could not recover in time.  As in a dream, Wash watched a curved blade thrust toward his heart.  He was spent, there was nothing left.  He closed his eyes and mouthed a prayer.

Sounds of death filled the air; howling and clanging echoed around his helm.  The pain of his death did not come.  He attempted a breath and found he could still breathe, although the act tore at his left side.  Another breath and he opened his eyes.  Lendour Knights fought before him.  Sir Ronald even with his injured knee proved deadly accurate in his swordplay.  Beside him rode Sir Paulson and Sir Lambert, and they too fought with the skill of Lendour.  The three knights provided a formidable barrier between their commander and the remaining Torenthi foot soldiers.

The tide of the battle had reached its climax.  The deadly arrows from the north cliff face ceased.  With a sudden change of origin, a hail of arrows precisely aimed at the Torenthi Host slammed down upon the enemy.  Standing on high ground, using high-tensioned long bows, Sir Dillon and his men had completed the task of eliminating the enemy archers.  A notched arrow, aimed with precision, became the instrument of death.  The Torenthi warriors could not withstand the barrage of Dillon’s team.  Dodging the long, slower swords was the advantage of light leather armor.  It was impossible to dodge arrows unseen before they were lodged in the heart.

Energized by the new advantage, the main vanguard of Lendour Knights crushed through the weakened host, leaving none alive.  Muir and Artimus pushed through the mounted stragglers and swiftly up the southern hill in their need to reach the separated men from the front line.  Five of the exhausted knights were alive.  Three continued the battle with Muir and his protectors now at their sides, but two, clinging to life, retreated from the fight.

Relieved from the battle, together Thomas and Washburn fought to stay conscious.  They reached the flat riverbed and stopped.  Skirmishes continued to both the left and right.  The fifty Lendour Cavalry and their fighting squires once more proved their decisive victory over the two hundred enemies’ strength.  Men whooped and called as they cut down the last of the standing enemy.  No one notice the two injured knights and their fading energies.  With a desperate need to stay conscious, Washburn steadied his pounding heart and somewhere found the means to banish his fatigue with a spell.  He stayed upright in his saddle.  Thomas could not do the same.  Wash braced him before he could fall from his horse.  Still no one noticed.  Not until Wash gave out an overly harsh command, using much of his regained focus, did anyone take notice of his fallen friend.

Admonished, three men came to his aid.  They quickly relieved the commander of the unconscious Thomas, carrying him to safety and leading his horse away.  In the process, someone jarred the Cynfyn shield, rendering a flash of pain though Washburn’s skewered forearm.  That little nudge undid him; his world swayed and faded, his sword fell away from his grasp with a clang to the rocks.  His mind went black.

He was out for but a moment, not long enough to lose his seat, but long enough for another to take note of his condition.  Muir turned from his last encounter and eyed his brother’s slumped form and his horse’s staggered stance.  Alarmed, Muir cleared the footman at Sir Artimus’s side.  Then together, both men turned and raced down the slope.

Lord Washburn came to and gathered the last of his will.  Once more, he tried to cast a spell to rid himself of the pain and weakness, but it was useless.  For all his magical talent, ultimately he was mortal, and he knew his time was done.  Short of a miracle, he would not see the sun set on this day.  Under his seat, Shadow was breathing with distress.  The great warhorse quivered from the effort.  Now that the adrenalin had waned, the strengths of both man and horse were gone.  He would die tonight just as he was certain they would have to put his stallion down tonight with him.  He mourned for his steed.  Pulling his right gauntlet free with his teeth, he reached his bare hand down and touched Shadow’s neck, soothing the horse’s mind with a brief touch.

Washburn’s gaze scanned the sand and rocks, looking over the layered dead of the enemy.  In their death, they would have rejoiced that they had taken him down.  With his imminent demise, he rejoiced that they had missed the true earl altogether and gotten the wrong man.

The Earl of Lendour reached his brother’s side.  He pulled the gauntlet from his left hand and seized his brother’s wrist.  With a surge of concern, Muir’s mind brushed up against Washburn’s stubborn shields.  Wash tried to hide the convulsing pain and invading shock, but Muir was unrelenting.  Giving up the charade, Wash lowered his shields, revealing the true condition of his plight.  Surprised and dismayed, Muir transferred energy to allay the younger brother’s pain.

The Knight Captain smiled gratefully.  His gaze rose to greet the earl.  “We have won the day, my lord,” he stated in a voice going ragged.  “I am sorry that I will not be seeing home with you on the morrow.”  Filled with regret, the younger brother weaved in the saddle.  Vertigo turned up to down, and his sight blurred with the spinning.

“Washburn, no!” yelled Muir, grabbing the black knight’s shoulders and holding him from falling forward out of the saddle. 

Sir Artimus rode to Washburn’s left side.  He swept his sword across the red, black and white shield of Cynfyn, snapping away the feathered shaft of the bolt protruding outward.  He sheathed his sword and pulled out his dagger.  Muir held the shield steady, watching Artimus as he sliced the dagger through the shield’s inner leathers, cutting them free from the commander’s grasp.  Holding the arrow shaft hard at the arm, Arty had Muir rip the shield free and toss it to the ground. 

Both men froze aghast at the sight hidden by the shield.  A protruding mound of bloodied silk had been stuffed deep under bent and shattered chain mail.  Wash did not give them time to react.  Unnerved by the jarring of the barbed head still deep in his arm, the Knight Captain ground his teeth but could not keep his focus.  In an unconscious state, he sagged into his brother’s full support. 

Balancing the wounded knight on his grey, Muir ordered others to aid him.  Four men ran between the black and white stallions, grabbing the falling commander, making certain that he did not hit the ground.  For a moment, Muir lost contact and the wounded man’s heart fluttered.  Leaping to the ground, the earl shoved his hand under the shirt of mail and forced the heart to continue its beat.  Renewed breath expanded Washburn’s chest, and his rapid, beating heart tried to compensate for the loss of blood.

Desperate, Muir looked up at his lieutenant, his eyes dilated from the half trance of concentration.  “Artimus!  Take two men west and find the trail that leads to the convent of Saint Clair.  Tell the abbess the Earl of Lendour requires the convent’s assets in our greatest need.  If she resists, tell her this crisis is a defining moment.  Bring to me what she offers, but do not leave there empty handed.”  Muir took a breath and looked up at his waiting men.

“We camp here for the night,” he declared loudly for everyone to hear.

Arty, still mounted, looked dolefully at his liege.  “At full pace, that will still be an hour out and an hour back.  Can he outlast the time?”

“He must!”  Muir proclaimed, already turning his full focus to his wounded brother.  “Quicker is better than slow!” he ordered when Arty did not move fast enough.  The lieutenant nodded, pointing at two knights still horsed, signaling them to follow him.  Artimus left the battle scene at a full gallop, the two men following close upon his heels.  Muir wished him quick success with the Abbess of Saint Clair.  Then he returned his full attention back to his brother as his men laid him across a stretch of canvas.

Muir despaired as men unbuckled armor and stripped back chain mail, exposing the fist-sized gash and the hard packed silk inside it.  They did not disturb the cloth.  His brother was dying.  Could he forestall that death long enough for Saint Clair’s miracle to arrive?


Richenda gasped, taking in a long held breath.

The imagery in the memory coin was highly detailed, the battle precise.  Richenda nearly felt as if she had been there.  There at the end, as Sir Washburn’s story faded, the Earl of Lendour cared enough about the telling to add his memories of the event.  Thus, for the sake of the viewer, the story was told in full.

The duchess shivered at the memories of the fallen knight.  In so many ways, Washburn Cynfyn reminded her of Alaric.  She was surprised.  She had been led to believe that the Cynfyn side of the family line had been ruthless Deryni, loyal to the crown but opportunistic when events allowed.  She had always believed that her husband’s unrelenting loyalty came from Sir Kenneth Kai Morgan, his father.  Now she began to understand that Alaric’s steadfast skill and loyalty came from both sides of his family lines.  With his imminent demise, he rejoiced that they had missed the true earl altogether and gotten the wrong man. With Sir Washburn, the Cynfyn family name was proving to be both loyal and honorable.

However, the name Washburn was not listed in the succession line of the Earls of Lendour.  Now at least she knew Washburn as Muir’s younger brother.  Still, she had no connection to him or to the more recent line of earls.  She still could not reason out how or why his memories were in the coin in her hand.

Richenda considered her husband’s lineage from the Cynfyn family name.  Alaric’s grandfather was Lord Keryell Cynfyn, and Keryell’s father had been Lord Taillefer Cynfyn.  However, before Taillefer, the succession line had not followed father to son.  The problem stemmed from the Great War, known as the Battle of Killingford, which occurred in June of the year 1025, one hundred years in Richenda’s past.

That battle had been a major crisis between Gwynedd and Torenth, during which tens of thousands of men contended for Gwynedd’s crown.  Many of the noble houses of Gwynedd put forth a heroic effort to save their Haldane King from Torenthi invaders.  The men of Lendour defended beside their king, down to the last man.  When King Urien Haldane was overrun by the massive horde of the enemy, so were most of the direct male heirs to the House of Cynfyn.  The king’s uncrowned brother ultimately turned the tide and gained victory, but in the end very few walked away from that field and none walked away unscathed.  Richenda’s research had shown only one adult Cynfyn survived the battle, Earl Walther.  He had been injured during the battle, and four years later he succumbed to complications of his injuries.  Thus, at the age of 14, Taillefer, the only surviving nephew to Walther, became the 11th Earl of Lendour.  Who then was Walther, she did not know.

There had been so many deaths to the heirs of Cynfyn that the direct relationship between the 8th Earl, Muir, in 979 and the 11th Earl, Taillefer, in 1029 was a confused blur.  Even Alaric did not know the full accounting of his ancestry.  A question of sons, cousins, and nephews made it hard to determine how the inheritance bent to accommodate the direct male line.  This question was a puzzle Richenda thought at first would be easy to solve, but the written records in the library were sketchy, as if there had been no one left to write it down.   

Somewhere on the earl’s private library shelves was the answer.  Richenda just had not uncovered it yet.  She would look further at the accounting books from Earl Walther’s time, but first she had to learn the fate of the wounded knight.  Her need to know enticed the duchess to cup the next coin between the delicate palms of her hands.  She opened her mind and let the story unfold before her.

Next chapter:
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 04:42:31 am by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 10:46:47 am »
Methinks Morgan will want to review this coin himself, to get the details of the ambush and that deer trail.  I hope there are some happier memories somewhere in the set of coins.  Poor Richenda is going to need some down-time soon!
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Evie

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 02:36:33 pm »
What is it with heroes named Wash getting impaled in the line of duty?!   ;D  (Sorry, obligatory Firefly/Serenity fandom crossover joke there!)  Another good chapter; hopefully brighter days are coming for our various characters soon.

"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Laurna

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 02:54:04 pm »
The implication is not coincidental. I am an avid Firefly fan and yes that is Wash's name sake.  ;D  Though the mannerisms and looks are different.

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 03:25:53 am »
Excellent battle scene.  We definitely need a memory coin that has nothing but good memories encoded on it.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Laurna

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 02:35:09 am »
Good morning,

For anyone and everyone that has tolerated my story thus far, I will once again say thank you.

Ok, so our hero and our heroine have been individually introduced. Our stages are set and described. Our knights have fallen into a hard place but they are victorious. They are now in a place where lives may be changed forever. Can we salvage the scattered pieces of our player's lives to remake their worlds? In the chapters ahead all things are possible.

I will not promise a smooth downwind sailing from here on out.  Our travels move us up the current and against the wind.  Our destination is paramount to our adventure. The course we travel may be smooth at times but there may still be shoals and rocks to be navigated around.  My hope is that some of you will stay with me in this journey, for I believe that each tack of the sails gets us closer to a safe harbor.

I'm not sure why I am using a boat metaphor.  There are no boats within this story.  Which, now that I think on it, is odd.  All my stories before had sailing in them.  Many years ago I lived on a sail boat.  I love boats and the sea. This story is about castles and those who live within them. I never lived in a castle, but maybe that is why I am so fascinated by them.

My sincerest warm wishes for the future and the past,
Have a lovely day,
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 02:47:24 am by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 06:51:33 pm »
Set the course and we will follow, past rocky shores and barrier reefs.  I'm in for the long haul.   :)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 5
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2013, 10:31:19 pm »
I like this so far, in spite of some of my nitpicks.


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