Follow TV Tropes
High in the hills of Frael, nestled in the crux of two hills where a river ran down to the lowlands and the scent of spruce needles carried on the breeze, lay the village of Bethran. It was not a large village, nor a rich one. It had begun as a rest stop for wagons carrying ore down from the mountain mines and supplies on the way back up, and over the years it had grown. In the grand scheme of things, it was of very little importance to anyone but those who lived there... and to the bandits who had taken over the high hills in the past few months.
Sir Tigra Alvalena, former Knight of Frael, stepped out of the mayor's home and shooed a couple village kids away from the massive axe resting against the wall before they hurt themselves with it. The weapon had been a gift from her knightly master upon her graduation from squire many years before and proudly she had wielded it in battle after battle in the name of her king, hewing the enemies of Frael like saplings beneath its mighty weight. Now she had carried it to this remote village, defying her king's orders to reinforce the northern border, because her conscience would not allow her to abandon these people. With all of Frael's military might sitting on the banks of a river staring dumbly at their northern neighbors, Tigra had taken the last few weeks since her resignation to gather whatever fighters she could scrounge up into a mercenary company to do what the king would not, and protect the highlands from the lawless blaggards who thought they ruled it.
With one hand she hefted the lopsided blade onto her shoulder and set off. Afternoon sun glinted off her heavy armor as she made her way down to the coach inn that was serving as her company's temporary barracks, and the spring breeze lifted her long, blue locks behind her. Tigra towered over most of the villages, standing several inches over even the burly workmen who pounded horseshoes and wheel rims all day in the smithy, with a build to match.
"Hey, boss!" cried a familiar voice as she approached the building, and Tigra smiled to herself as her page, Malia, jogged up to meet her.
"Hello, Malia. What have you got there?"
"Phew! Inventory, m'lady!" the younger woman panted, holding up a simple ledger book. Malia had been Tigra's errand girl for several years now, but when the knight resigned to form her mercenary company, Malia had volunteered to act as quartermaster and staff officer, assuring Tigra that she had peeked over enough shoulders in the army to get the jist of the responsibilities. "The smiths here don't know much about weapon making, but they can hammer out a basic blade. With the tomes we brought from the capitol market and the medicine from Thoros, We're all stocked up!" she said, smiling proudly. Malia was a wiry little thing, skinny from the fiery red hair atop her head to the dainty shoes she wore on her feet. Her dress today was a soft pink with a rose embroidered on the short skirt, and she had expended some of her precious make up to make her lips and eyelids match the ensemble. Tigra could hardly imagine a girl more her opposite in looks, but her heart was as true as Tigra could ever ask for.
"Well done, Malia," Tigra said, ruffling the girl's hair with a gauntleted hand.
"Ack!" went Malia, and ran off into the inn, likely to find her brush and mirror, if Tigra knew her at all. The knight chuckled fondly to herself, and proceeded inside to meet with her company with the details of their first mission together.
The Walkright Inn was the oldest, and largest, building in the village. It had been here from the very beginning, and the town had grown up around it. Years of expansions had turned the formerly humble coach inn into... well, still rather humble, by the standards of anyone who'd lived most of her life downhill, but it was still a nice enough place. The innkeeper's son served from behind the bar while his sister ran the kitchen. A large hearth dominated one side of the building, though it had not yet been lit, being only the afternoon. Several tables filled the downstairs, while the upstairs was devoted to half a dozen rooms for guests. The innkeeper's family lived in rooms in the back of the first floor, and a large stable outside accommodated anything up to the size of a mail coach, which was quite fortunate, given what some of the troops in Tigra's command had ridden in on.
Propping her axe against the wall by the door, Tigra put one hand on her hip and surveyed her troops.
edited 11th Nov '16 7:07:19 PM by Wryte
"...cooked food and fruits, but he really prefers raw steak. It's a wyvern thing, I guess." Apparently Tigra had caught her long-time subordinate, Grendan, discussing mount care with another of the recruits. "I can't count how many times I've had to stop him from trying to eat dead soldiers. I mean, who knows where they've been?"
Apparently wyvern riders had... somewhat different values, if the cringing from other patrons and incredulous looks at his reasoning were any indication.
"Anyway, Heath-" He broke off on noticing his superior had entered the building, standing up to salute her. "Sir!"
The other recruit, Getrude, likewise saluted her, but she kept glancing at the winged beast through the window. She had never seen a wyvern before meeting up with Grendan, and she almost jumped when the flying lizard sniffed her hair back then.
"...Sir... Grendan... talk... wyvern..." The words struggled to escape her mouth. Gertrude had never been able to speak properly since that day.
edited 11th Nov '16 9:05:46 PM by RAlexa21th
Grendan followed her gaze to where Heath was standing in the yard, staring expectantly at the door (with the townsfolk giving the beast a wide berth, unsurprisingly). "I TOLD him to stay in the stable..." he sighed in mild exasperation. "I guess he's just too excited to meet my new coworkers."
Turning back to Gertrude, he added, "Don't worry about him trying to eat you too much- if he was planning to he would've tried by now. I'm pretty sure he was just saying 'hi.'" Probably not the best attempt at reassuring someone ever made, but at least he made the attempt, right?
"At ease, Grendan," Tigra said. "I'm glad to see you here. Having aerial reconnaissance on our side will be a great advantage against the bandits." Like Malia, the wyvern knight was someone who had served her in the army, and she was grateful to have a member in her troop whose skill and dependability she already knew firsthand. With luck, the rest of the company would be just as worthy.
Speaking of which, "Gertrude, glad to see you, as well. You didn't have any trouble finding the village, I take it?"
Zeera looked up from her meal as she saw Sir Tigra enter. The guy with the large mustache stood up, and so did the lady dressed in black uniform.
Was that just something she was supposed to do too, or was that just something for people who knew her?
She knew guards did that to other guards, and sometimes those other guards were called Captain or something like that. A lot of the people in here looked like guards, so maybe that was just something they did.
She wasn't actually sure about this. She hadn't actually been to one of these places in a while. People usually yelled at her and told her to get out, but the people here didn't know her yet.
The food was good.
Zeera felt strange.
Something told her that she should stand up with these other guys, but she didn't really want to draw attention to herself.
A mercenary company, right?
Zeera said she wanted to join. That would mean more food with less walking.
She hadn't been able to scavenge as much lately, and it was getting harder to find time to rest.
If Zeera did nothing though, the knight lady would just walk over to her and show her off anyway.
Zeera stood up from where she was and meekly did the same hand thing as the guy with the giant mustache. "Sir?"
Zeera wasn't sure if anyone heard her, as she was kinda sitting at one of the tables towards the back end of the inn, though not far enough away that people might think she's one of those mysterious, shadowy types that like to sit in corners. People tended to notice that sort of thing, though she wasn't sure where she had heard that before.
Then Sir Tigra started talking with the others. Zeera watched as the knight spoke, before slowly lowering herself back into her seat.
edited 11th Nov '16 10:15:34 PM by CathariSarad
"Glad to be here, Sir. It's certainly an improvement over the incompetent they put in charge of our old unit." Grendan nodded in acknowledgement, relaxing as he returned to his seat; unlike Zeera, he did not currently have a plate in front of him, likely due to not having ordered yet. He gestured to an empty chair nearby. "I saved you a spot, by the way."
Gertrude went back to her seat nervously. The word "incompetent" makes her sweat. Sir Tigra was kind enough to take her in when no one would. She did not want to screw up this chance.
edited 11th Nov '16 10:46:23 PM by RAlexa21th
"...and that was how I got that scar," Gramps said from his stool at the bar, taking a drink from his large flagon.
The door to the inn opened with a creak as a lone fellow entered with a book tucked under his arm. Making his return from surveying the village masses, Eridan's posture instinctively straightened as he saw that Tigra was present.
"Ah, Commander. You're back."
"Ah, Eridan, good. That makes..." Tigra looked around the room for any other members of her troop that she had missed. There were Grendan and Gertrude, of course. The older gentleman who'd insisted she call him "gramps," (though he wasn't that much older than her), was sitting at the bar, and... yes, there was the outlander, sitting in a corner. What was her name again? Zee-something. She suddenly regretted teasing Malia away; the younger woman was better with names, especially when it came to foreigners. Zee concerned Tigra a little. She seemed rather quiet and withdrawn, and Tigra couldn't yet put a finger on whether that was something about her, or just about southerners in general. But she couldn't really be a chooser, after all.
"...five," she concluded, taking a small step aside to let Eridan through the door more easily. "Now we're only missing our two horsemen."
"Buckley and Arthur," Malia corrected as she descended the stairs, as if summoned by Tigra's forgetfulness for names. She finished adjusting her hairband as she reached the floor and made her way over, shooting Tigra a pouty frown for earlier before turning her smile on the rest of the assembled company.
"Malia, I keep telling you, your hair's gonna keep getting messed up for as long as you're with us, so you should really learn to let it go," Grendan commented, amusement in his voice. "Besides, I'm pretty sure part of it's just her having fun watching your reaction to messy hair."
edited 12th Nov '16 2:08:04 PM by Suttungr
They seem to know each other.
Zeera looked upon the growing crowd, trying to keep track of who everyone was. The boy looked like a magician, and he had a book with him. Maybe she could see what it was later, though there were too many people around for her to do it right now.
The pink-dressed lady had passed through just a few moments earlier, though Zeera wasn't sure if she had seen her before then. She looked like a rich person, so maybe she had some treasure with her or something. Maybe not that rich though.
Zeera turned back to her food and continued chowing on it, occasionally glancing back to see if there was anything important she needed to hear.
Gertrude could not help smiling at Malia's flustered face. The girl was always so sweet to her the moment she was employed. Seeing Malia always makes Gertrude happy.
"Well maybe if you took a little more care of your own appearance, you'd have a girlfriend by now, Grendan," the red haired girl replied, crossing her arms and sticking her tongue out at the wyvern rider.
"Don't make me separate you two, children," Tigra chuckled.
Malia promptly straightened up and cleared her throat, trying to look as professional as possible as she hefted her ledger for no real reason. "Hello, Gertrude. Lovely to see you again! Let me know if you need your sword sharpened, or armor repaired before you all head out tomorrow. As the company quartermaster, I'm at your service!"
"Malia, would you have a word with, ah, Zee..." Tigra interrupted.
"Zeera," Malia finished, following her boss's eyes to the southerner at the back of the room.
"Yes, her. Make sure she's getting on with everyone, would you?"
As Malia crossed the room, Tigra joined Grendan and Gertrude at their table, motioning for Eridan to take a seat as well. "I was just speaking with the mayor," she told them once they were settled. "He's arranged a guide to lead us to the bandit holdout tomorrow. I'd like to set out by first light, so be sure you all get a good night's sleep. That goes for you, too, Gramps," she said, raising her voice to call to the older man at the bar.
Meanwhile, Malia approached the table where Zeera sat alone. "Hello! Do you mind if I have a seat? I don't know if you remember me, but I'm Malia, Sir Tigra's assistant. I was about when she met with you last week. How are you liking the north?"
Grendan shook his head, chuckling to himself at Malia's typical reply; she knew that his usual retort when this conversation came up involved the amount of maintenance his mustache needed. This time, though, he had more important things in mind. "Understood. When do you want me to leave for my scouting run?"
While waiting for Tigra's response, Grendan waved the innkeeper over to place an order for his meal; apparently, he'd waited just so everyone could order at once rather than needing to speak to the proprietor individually. (Heath, incidentally, had already been fed earlier.)
"Don't you worry, just taking a nightcap before bed, sir!" Gramps called back to Tigra, toasting her with his new flagon before starting on it.
Zeera was startled a bit by Malia's sudden approach.
Zeera instinctively looked from side to side, but then returned her attention back to the person in front of her.
Zeera didn't remember seeing Malia when she had met with Sir Tigra, but maybe she was dressed in something different that day.
"The North... is that what they call this place?" She heard from texts that these were supposed to be the Cairn mountains, though she didn't know the kingdom's name until she had learned it from Sir Tigra and a few of the locals. "There are more forests and trees here compared to where I'm from, and more people here too, though I haven't seen that many big cities. No sand either."
Zeera's attention drifted towards the conversation on the other table. Dropping her spoon, she slowly got up and walked over to find a seat nearby, though for some reason she stopped her search when she got close.
"Why can't we go now?" Zeera said as she briefly glanced up the stairs. "Or at night? Or when everyone's ready?"
"It's just a matter of preparation." Eridan said as he walked to the table and took a seat, laying his book down at the table.
"We've only just arrived, and we will be fighting on the bandits' turf. We should take the time to gather intelligence and familiarize ourselves with the terrain. Besides, I don't we've even gone through introductions yet."
Eridan suddenly stood up once more as he addressed the table. "Hello everyone. I am Eridan, strategic advisor to our merry little band. I am trained in the art of Dark magics, and I hope to work with you all for a good long while, at least."
"Easy, Grendan," Tigra chided. "We'll let the guide get us close first. We wouldn't want to exhaust your wyvern before the fighting's even started."
She turned to Zeera. "Have you ever gone hiking in the mountains at night, lass? Believe me, it's not something you want to do if you have the choice. You've all only just arrived, so we'll spend the rest of the afternoon finishing preparations and get a good night's sleep, then head out fresh and prepared."
Tigra was about to address Eridan next, but as she opened her mouth a cry came from outside. Springing to her feet as gracefully as was possibly in plate armor, she crossed to the door and looked outside. Villagers were running from the town gates, some screaming or shouting for help, and others pointing to the open ground outside. Armed men were approaching the village, and not the missing members of her mercenary company.
"Well, so much for that plan. Mercenaries, to arms!" Hefting her axe once again, the former knight took to the inn yard, quickly measuring the enemy force. It was not an especially large one; the knights of Frael would have dispatched them easily, but they outnumbered her little mercenary troop two to one. "Malia! Get all the villagers somewhere safe! The rest of you, it's time to prove your mettle!"
Taking her stance, the knight settled in to hold her position against any would would come to break themselves upon her steel. Come hell or high water, she would not be moved from this spot.
edited 13th Nov '16 4:24:09 PM by Wryte
Gertrude hurriedly grabbed her weapon and took position. She spotted bandit was sneaking near the group. Without a second thought she rushed at the bandit.
Gertrude I3-L4 attack with Iron Sword.
edited 13th Nov '16 4:50:22 PM by RAlexa21th
"Dammit! I wasn't expecting them to show up today!" Grendan snarled, grabbing his saber from the wall near the door as he rushed out. After mounting Heath, he flew to slash at an archer on the other side of the river.
Move to C3, attack C4 with Iron Sword.
A horse and rider dragged a triangular travois with some loose bundles fastened to it, moving slowly down the road; despite the fact that he was late Buckley wasn't too worried. In fact he was feeling positively joyous. It wasn't every day that a standard boring moorland journey was interrupted by an impromptu hunt, a successful one to boot.
"Tha's been aye kind," he said to the two young women who'd assisted him in butchering the red deer carcass, short dark strongly-built sisters who had helped to drive the animal into his ambush and were now giggling and whispering to each other as they carved it up. It was a big animal, and Buck couldn't imagine that his new boss wouldn't be glad for it even after the sisters took their share (which should be enough to feed a family for a week).
But now the village came into view, and it was time to part. "Onn-was, Ah's gon meet me new boss yon," a flourish of the lance. "Heya, tidy miss, kiss for luck? Nah? What about tha?"
No luck, but he did get some cheerful curtseys out of the deal. Not bad at all. Now to focus on the language question, trying to make sure he didn't come off as a provincial buffoon, and—the thought struck that perhaps two-thirds of a red deer, a good three hundred pounds or so, wasn't quite an adequate apology for showing up on the first day of work so abominably late.
With that chill rattling around his stomach, Buckley quickly put on steel bonnet and brigandine armor, buffed and polished until it gleamed, hoping at least that a full battle-ready uniform would earn some protection from the wrath of outraged Authority. He'd met Tigra once before when he was hired and he really didn't want to see her angry.
Following directions by the villagers, the first he ran into was Malia. The situation was clear enough: raiding party, and there was Tigra organizing the defenses.
All his worries melted away. This was familiar territory.
"Hiya, miss," he said to the lady who looked like she was in charge of the villagers (Malia). "Yin's a good bash-up, aye?" He grinned as rakishly as he could manage.
No tactical directions, yet. It'll happen this turn, just not this moment.
It wasn't hard for Malia to notice the stranger trying to get her attention, what with being the only person in the crowd on horseback, and kitted up for battle, to boot.
"Are you Buckley? Or Arthur?" she asked, clearly flustered by her efforts to organize the mob if her flushed cheeks and constant running of her fingers through her hair were any indication. "Oh, I really wish Sir Tigra'd had me with her when she hired more of you. If you're here to fight, everyone's over there in front of the inn!"
edited 13th Nov '16 5:42:47 PM by Wryte
"Or not. Or I guess introductions can wait until after the welcoming party."
Eridan grabbed his tome off the table and rushed outside.
"Wait, where are you two going? We should stick together and work out a plan!" Eridan shouted as he saw Gertrude and Grendan rush in opposite directions, but then sighed as he realized they probably couldn't even hear him.
"Oh well. The enemy force seems pretty scattered. We'll have time to regroup."
Opening up the tome in his hand, he then ducked into the bushes and launched several orbs of dark energy at the opposing archer to finish him off.
Move to E4, Attack C4 with Flux
Community Showcase More
How well does it match the trope?