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The Second Tale of Sir Simon, Knight of The Quest: Blood On The Sands PDF Print E-mail
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Written by The Red Cross Knight   
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
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The Second Tale of Sir Simon, Knight of The Quest: Blood On The Sands
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THE SECOND TALE OF SIR SIMON DU MONTFORTE, KNIGHT OF THE QUEST:

 

BLOOD ON THE SANDS

 

In which a new friend is discovered, an ancient evil is awoken, and a vile secret is revealed

 

 Listen then ye ladies and gentlesirs, as I tell thee the second tale of Sir Simon, a most noble knight of the Quest. It is a story of desperate battles under the unforgiving moons, of blood on the desert sands, and most of all, the courage of a true Bretonnian. So hearken then, and let us begin our next journey...

 

            The hot sun beat down upon the column as its inched slowly, like a train of determined ants, across the mighty sand dunes of the desert. Trudging wearily along, the men of the column looked ragged and downtrodden. For weeks, they had marched into the desert, only to now walk out once again without the great wealth and loot they were promised. Some struggled along using their weapons as crutches and others helped push a set of rickety wagon, laden with provisions and barrels, across each steep dune. This far out in the desert there was no path, nor was there any water. Men licked their cracked lips and wiped sandy sweat off of their brows. The sun, like the desert, was completely unforgiving. In the last two days alone, four men had succumbed to heatstroke, dropping out of the march to lie amongst the sands until some carrion birds came to pick their bones clean.

 

Those birds circled the column now, casting huge shadows as they lazed across the blazing midday sun. The sole non-human of the group, a sturdy looking dwarf with a bushy black beard and fierce grey eyes, scowled up at the cawing birds and spat onto the sand. The moisture from his spit sizzled on the ground and the dwarf grunted. Of all the members of this column, Brynn Borgnisson looked among the best at the moment. Indeed, he was from the Elder Races and he didn’t really need as much water as the men who trudged slowly alongside him. Even his heavy breastplate armor seemed to discomfit him little, despite the cooking heat that would’ve dropped most men.

 

            “Damn buzzards,” he said to no one in particular, “they’re driving me bloody mad with that damn cawing. What I wouldn’t give for a fine crossbow at the moment… or a pint of ale… yes… a lovely pint right now would be wonderful…” The human warriors marching next to the dwarf rolled their eyes as their stout ally let his sentence descend into mumblings about Bugman’s brew and some bar called the Ten-Tailed Cat. They had heard the same thing a dozen times before on the march and would doubtless here it again, assuming they lasted that much longer. Despite his grumbling, the dwarf truly was one of the few individuals in the column who didn’t seem to feel the heat. Another rode towards the front of the group and unlike the dwarf, did not grumble, much less make a sound. Had his un-helmeted head not occasionally turned to take in the surrounding landscape, the other men of the column might have mistaken him for a corpse on a horse.

 

Attired in a worn suit of plate armor, the knight rode tall in the saddle despite the oppressive desert environment. A mighty two-handed blade, the trademark weapon of a Bretonnian knight of the Quest, sat across the back of his well-built frame in an old leather scabbard, ready to be drawn at a moment’s notice. A faded and torn black jupon, emblazoned with the heraldry of silver stag’s head, covered his steel breastplate, yet it only added to the man’s rough look. His face, just showing the first stubble of growing beard, was stern and square-jawed. Across his neck was a shallow scar, the sign of some near mortal wound from a battle long past. However, it was his piercing green eyes that stood out the most, sweeping back and forth across the land around the caravan, constantly looking for some sign of danger. Where other men in the column had grown too weary to even raise their heads, the questing knight remained ever vigilant of some as of yet unseen threat. With a quick nudge of his heels, he urged his warhorse, a large rowan beast as ragged looking as its master, forward a little farther ahead of the column. Truth be told, Sir Simon Du Montforte, knight of the Quest, dispossessed lord of the Montforte family lands, did not much like his travelling companions. It was only by the grace of the Lady herself and her guiding visions that he had fallen in with this group of mercenaries and their rather eccentric leader. A loud curse from the rear of the column identified the location of that leader, riding atop a cart upon which was lashed a gold box, decorating with intricate carvings, about six feet long and four feet tall. It was the only item that the caravan had taken from its destination before turning back for the coast of Araby.

 

The column’s leader and financier, a well-bred Tilean, was struggling to urge the horses drawing the cart over the latest dune and was cursing as some of his mercenaries tried to help shift the wagon’s weight from the sand it was stuck in. Francesco Ferdonio cut a striking figure, despite the deprivations and hardship of his journey through the desert. Clad in a billowing green silk shirt and gold-trimmed red pantaloons, garments that would not have been out of place at the court in Couronne, the mercenary captain looked every inch the dashing rogue. A bronze breastplate, engraved with the twin symbol of the Tilean city of Luccini, covered the showy green shirt and protected his chest. A brace of pistols hung from a broad leather belt that ran around the Tilean’s waist under his breastplate, accompanying a fine steel rapier, its thin blade decorated with slightly glowing runes. The weapons left little doubt as to the man’s trade. His face was dominated by a mustache, which Ferdonio had a nasty habit of twirling the ends of when annoyed, and a finely manicured goatee. Quick brown eyes looked out over a bulbous nose and a ruddy face that was framed by curly black hair, as was common amongst many Tilean men. To top off the man’s garish ensemble, he wore a cap with a large eagle feather at a jaunty angle on his head. Truly, Ferdonio was every inch the classic Tilean mercenary captain.

 

However, at the moment Ferdonio was every inch the aggravated wagon-master, hollering orders at the men who were pushing the cart. Finally, Brynn the dwarf stepped up and shouldered some of the cart’s weight, pushing it over the sand dune and sending it rolling on its way once again. Ferdonio sighed with relief and sank back down onto the seat of the wagon, tutting the horses forward once more. This entire expedition had been funded at great personal expense so that he could acquire the treasure that now sat in the back of this cart. Undoubtedly, it would make him a very rich man, yet the men he had brought with him had been promised loot and had received none, so every delay in the journey back to Araby made Ferdonio sweat from more than just the heat.

 

The Tilean was not a stupid man by any means and he knew full well to be wary of a group of disgruntled, hot, and hungry mercenaries. Indeed, he had been on the instigating side of enough mutinies to know the danger that all captains faced, especially when promises of wealth were not kept. It was surprising that he had managed to keep the men going this long. The promises of great treasure stored within the golden chest, a chest he told the men could only be opened by Arabyan sorcerers, had so far been enough to keep his mercenaries marching. That was a lie of course. Ferdonio could open the chest at any time and had indeed done so to check its contents when he had first discovered it lying deep underground in the musty tomb of some long-dead king. It was worth double its weight in gold, yet the collector who wished to acquire what it contained had given very specific instructions about the state in which the box was to be returned.  If the men were to take it or open it, they could very well jeopardize the whole deal that Ferdonio had worked so hard to construct, and that was just not a risk he wanted to take. The only other man in the column who knew the contents of the box sat next to him, a thin, skeletal figure with narrowed, squinting eyes dressed in dirty brown robes.

 

Paulus was one of the many hedge wizards that could be found roaming the Tilean countryside, but he was doubtless one of the most accomplished amongst those who had never set foot inside the Imperial Colleges of Magic. More importantly, he was completely and utterly loyal to Ferdonio, a trait the mercenary captain admired above all others. It was Paulus who had enabled him to bypass the wards of the tomb and had guaranteed that the column would so far be free of any sort of retribution, though Ferdonio doubted that the nonsense of curses his natives guides had babbled at him as they led the way to the tomb was anything more than superstitious prattle.

 

That being said, it was better to be safe than sorry. He made sure Paulus worked many spells to mask the raiders’ presence as they had snuck in and out of the tomb. Only the damnable dwarf and that aloof Bretonnian knight had refused to enter, something about the sanctity of the dead and whatnot. While Ferdonio was happy to have their added experience and blades, he didn’t not particularly like either the dwarf or the Bretonnian, who always seemed to look at him as if he were some sort of rodent rather than one of the most prestigious mercenary captains in the glorious city of Luccini. Such was the way with Bretonnians, Ferdonio thought, always so damn aloof until they needed you, then it was all smiles and oaths of honor and whatnot. Regardless, he was keeping a special eye on the two warriors, especially the Bretonnian, who had shown up so mysteriously out of nowhere right before the expedition’s start. No one, not even some supposed questing knight, was going to upset his chance at a fortune. As he leaned over to whisper something to his sorcerous compatriot, he kept one eye fixed on the dwarf and the Bretonnian, who appeared to be talking together at the head of the column.

 

 

“Ya know that’s some fine Dwarven steel ya got there on yer back laddie,” said Brynn, looking up at the strange Bretonnian knight leading the front of the caravan. The man appeared to not have registered the comment, so the dwarf spoke a little louder this time. “I said, that’s some fine Dwarven steel ya got there on yer back laddie!”

With a sigh, the knight snapped his head around to the dwarf, his voice stern and deep. “Please be quiet, lest you startle Marcelles,” the knight patted his warhorse on the neck as it snorted, “and I heard you the first time.” The dwarf eyed the horse warily, knowing there was no love lost between his kind and such mounts.       

“Tis a great big beastie if you asked me. It will take more than me chatting with ya to startle such a large creature. I reckon a whole tavern full of drunken dwarves would ne’er scare that monster.” The dwarf smiled up at the knight, yet kept a wary eye on the horse nonetheless. Marcelles snorted again, as if sensing the dwarf’s discomfort, and Brynn licked his lips nervously. If the knight noticed the dwarf’s edginess, he said nothing. Instead, he returned to the subject of the sword.

 

“You speak true master dwarf, the sword is the work of your kind, at least the blade. The hilt and pommel…”

 

The dwarf cut the knight off, “Are bloody elven work if I’m not mistaking, and I never am. And my name is Brynn Borgnisson. Calling me master dwarf makes me sound like a bloody craftsman, which I ain’t particularly. Now tell me, how does a Bretonnian knight, especially one wearing such banged up armor, no offense…”

 

“None taken,” the knight replied softly.

 

“Come across something as beautiful as a blade crafted by both the Elder Races?”

 

Sir Simon nodded, knowing the dwarf’s question was a valid one. Though he did not like conversing much with the other members of the caravan, the ride had been long and there seemed to be no immediate danger. Sir Simon figured he would suffer the distraction. Indeed, it had been some time since he had spoken to a member of the Elder Races.

 

“It belonged to my father, Lord Raymond du Montforte and his father and his father before that. It has been in my family for generations and sadly I do not know exactly how it came into our possession. The blade is a credit to your people master Brynn, for it has served me well the many years I have travelled the questing road.”

 

“Oh aye laddie,” the dwarf nodded sagely, seeming ignore the use of master before his name, “I have nary seen such a nice blade in many a year. I’m proud to know that one of my people has greatly aided ya through his fine smithing. Doubtless more than that elf rock on the pommel there.”

 

Sir Simon chuckled, “Oh, it has helped me through a few scrapes as well, though it is most likely nothing without the blade itself. Now it is my turn to ask a question of you, master Brynn. How does a son of the mountains come to wander the deserts of Araby with a caravan of mercenaries? It is far from your people’s mighty holds.”

 

“Oh aye,” the dwarf said, his voice sounding a little distant as he reminisced, “tis far and not the farthest I have travelled, let me tell ya laddie. I couldnae give ya the whole story now I’m afraid, for it is long in the telling. The short of it is, my family’s lands were laid to waste by foul greenskins while I was off campaigning.  I was all that twas left of the clan, and with nothing to tie me down, I began wandering, looking for some way to make enough money to raise me own force and go after the monsters that slaughtered me kin. It has been many years since, yet I still dinnae have the resources I need, so I ended up following that damned fool Ferdonio out it to this accursed desert, hunting for his bloody treasure. Which never materialized, I might add.” The dwarf spat into the dirt and the knight smiled slightly. “That’s the long and short of it laddie. And you? How does one of you mighty knights end up riding through an endless desert with a crew of ruffians led by a half-mad Tilean? Doesnae seem the place for one such as yerself.”

 

Sir Simon chuckled again. He was enjoying this conversation more than he had thought. He liked this rough dwarf and his straightforward manner, despite his seeming desire to spit upon most everything in sight. Certainly, it was a change from the rest of the shifty members of the caravan guard.

 

“Our stories are slightly similar, at least in the fact that they are long in the telling, to use your words. My father was slain by a foul creature of the night, my family’s lands left in its grasp. A young man, grievously wounded I staggered away, searching for the Grail of my Lady so that I may gain the strength and wisdom to one day return and claim what is rightfully mine.”

 

“Revenge. Tis a fair motivation laddie, and one this particular dwarf can well understand.” The dwarf grunted his approval and motioned for the knight to continue.

 

“As for my presence on this caravan, a vision led me here. My Lady appeared in a dream as I slept under the stars and whispered softly the words Ferdonio and Luccini into my ear. I rode with all haste to the city, found the man, and agreed to join his expedition, though to what end I know not.”

 

The dwarf looked at the knight skeptically, “A lot of faith to be putting in your Lady, is it not knight?”

 

Sir Simon shook his head dismissively, “She is my guide and my shield, and she has served me as faithfully as I have served her. I would follow her will to the ends of the world and beyond. And my name, master Brynn, is Sir Simon du Montforte. You may call me Simon. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, son of the mountains.”
           

“The pleasure is mine, laddie.” The dwarf ignored the knight’s name and reached up a hand. The knight leaned down and shook it. “Now laddie… Simon..sorry… tis a long walk and it’s been a while since I’ve had a passable conversation with one of the people of this here expedition. Tell me about how you came across that great bloody scratch in yer armor there and I’ll tell you all about the bastard troll that gave me this here wee nick in me axe.”

 

The knight trotted along and the dwarf strode by his side, chatting pleasantly in the pressing heat of the desert sun as the column struggled along behind them across the dunes.

   


Last Updated ( Friday, 25 May 2012 )
 
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The Second Tale of Sir Simon, Knight of The Quest: Blood On The Sands May 24 2012 23:10
This thread discusses the Content article: The Second Tale of Sir Simon, Knight of The Quest: Blood On The Sands

I would love to hear any feedback anyone has because I am planning on writing more Sir Simon stories if this one is well received!


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