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Sunday, 21 October 2012
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The Battle of Carcassonne fields.
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The Battle for Carcassonne Fields.

Bretonnia is a land of blood and horses. Powerful Knights ride to war on noble steeds whilst hordes of peasants follow through in a hope for a small chance of glory. This tale is focused on a Knight called Sir Neville Morchart, Knight of Carcassonne, and his run in with the Lady of the Lake, and the arrogant Lord Henri Blanc.

Sir Neville Morchart stood on the raised plain looking over the site for tomorrows battle. The setting sun was slowly melting into the hills of the far horizon, making the large rolling green plains in front of him shine in a light golden colour. By his side stood his faithful squire Jules Darget, looking with him.

“How does it look Sir Neville?” He asked. He was barely fifteen, still too young to be a Knight Errant, but next year would be his coming as a man. He would have to take up the lance and the shield, and fight in one of the units of brash young Knights. Sir Neville would need to find a new squire.

 “I believe we have picked a good place to fight the Orc. We have large open plains for our Knights to get a good charge going. Let’s just hope they don’t want to swamp us to death, and pray to the Fey Enchantress that rain does not grace our land this night.”

 “That would slow the horses down, even a Bretonnian warhorse cannot charge through mud.” Jules said, it was a most basic statement, but one that many young men apparently forgot. He had seen hundreds of headstrong Knights charge through mud and bog, only to meet their death upon ranks of the enemies spears. Those that survived often ruined the horse as its tendons ripped to shreds.

 “Yes, remember that when you are a Knight. It is not very long until you become an Errant Knight is it?”

 “Only a few more months, then I will be fighting alongside you, Sir.”

 “Well not exactly alongside, you need to earn your spurs with your peers before you get to be a Knight of the Realm. Which is exactly what I need to be doing on the morrow.” He looked over to the large smoke emanating from the orc camp across the valley.

“Are you sure they will attack Sir?” Jules asked after a short break. Neville preferred the silence before the battle, it helped him to focus.

“I believe they will, if they don’t come over for the sport, then our Lord Henri Blanc will force them to do so.”

 “I have never meet our Lord Commander, what is he like?” Jules asked. Lord Henri Blanc was a bigot at the best of times. But he was a Questing Knight, and that gave him the power to be a commander. He had yet to taste the waters of the Grail. But he had been doing the duty of the Lady for many years, and his time to meet the Lady would soon be upon him, or so he would have everyone believe.

 “There are worse commanders,” Sir Neville replied. “He does have a large experience against the Orc hordes and I know that he has personally slain at least two Warbosses. He will get them to fight here, and he will aim to kill the Warboss himself, to prove himself for the Lady.”

“Why are we here Sir? Do you not wish to fight?”

 “Wishing has nothing to do with it, you forget that I am not longer a Knight Errant. I do not go out seeking the largest Orc or the fattest Ogre to prove my worth, I am a full Knight of the Realm of Bretonnia. As Lord of my domain it is my job to keep my land’s secure against all threats. It is my duty to my Duke to fight the enemies of our country. These Orcs have made themselves a nice home over there.” He pointed towards the smoke covered camp. “It is now my duty to purge them and remove them from this area. That is my goal. It is Lord Henri Blanc’s goal. Now let us get back, Lord Henri has called a war meeting for sunset, I had best not be late.”


The walk down to camp was quick, and Sir Neville took it at a brisk pace. He made his way back to his tent in the middle of the camp. His guards, two of the finest men-at-arms from his land, guarded the entrance with crossed halberds. At the sight of him they stood straight and parted their weapons. They would have looked intimidating, except that Sir Neville and nearly every other Knight stood a good several inches above their heads. And that was without their helmets.

 To be a peasant in Bretonnia was a hard and thankless job. They worked as farmers and tended to all the lands for the Knights, who had better things to do with their time that to tend fields. They also leveed a roughly ninety per cent tax on everything that they owned and grew. Many of them tended to be malformed due to interbreeding, as leaving a Knight’s domain without permission was strictly forbidden unless written permission was granted, which was extremely rare. But every year every peasant gave up their best and brightest to be a member of the Knight’s army. These men were trained to be the men-at-arms. The police and soldiers of Bretonnia. They guarded the castles and the cities, and were paid a hefty sum for their work. However basis needs such as rent, clothes, food, weapons, training amongst other things were taken from their wage. As such they were often not much better off that the unlucky peasants that tended to the fields in the first place.

 Jules helped Sir Neville get his armour on properly, as his job as squire demanded. It still took a good fifteen minutes before he was suited up in his full battle plate, it was very heavy. But he was used to wearing it, and he could even run in it for hours before he was tired. He clipped his birth-sword to his side and slung his shield over his back. On its front it bared his heraldry, three silver stags on a blue and red chequerboard background. He slung his helmet under his arm and headed out to the war council.

 By the honour of his vow, a Questing Knight could not sleep in the same place two nights in a row. And this was the case of his tent. Every morning the tent was packed up and taken to a different area and re-erected.


This night it had moved to an area towards the front of the camp, close to the Orcs. Sir Neville made his way towards the large banner that was upon the top of it. He showed Henri’s current emblem, a very large Hippogryph with the fleur de lys on its chest.

 Sir Neville was one of the first people to enter the large tent. In the middle was a very large table covered in a map of the area. It had be drawn by one of the members of the Church some years earlier, for they were the most well learnt people in the land. The sun was nearly fully set and some of the torches had been lit, giving the place a warm glow, several tapestries hung carefully around the edges of the tent, showing scenes of the twelve great battles of Gilles le Breton. Henri Blanc stood behind the table, the fleur de lys emblazoned upon his chest in bright gold thread.

“Ah, Sir Neville. It is good to see you arrive early.” He smiled. Henri was a few years older than Sir Neville, his black hair had flecks of grey in it and his beard had even more so. It was a stark comparison to the golden blonde hair that graced Sir Neville's head. Both men had cut their hair short and smart, but Sir Neville preferred to keep his face clean shaven, it helped to enhance his gaunt features.

“I try to arrive on time for such meetings, I wouldn’t want to miss any important information.”

“That is always useful, I’ve brought you here for a particular purpose that I shall explain properly later, first we shall drink some wine. We still need to wait for the other unit commanders.”

Sir Neville did as was asked and helped himself to some wine from a passing servant. Gradually over time more Lords did arrive, by the full setting of the sun everyone was accounted for. Each man was a Lord in his own right, as well as being the most experienced man in each of the units that would make up tomorrow’s battle line, except for the peasants of course. Henri Blanc would not allow such people to squander his precious tent. It was up to the nobility of Bretonnia to make war, the peasants would just have to follow.

“Our scouts report that the orc army outnumbers us by at least three to one. But from what they can tell, over half of that army is comprised of Goblins.” Sir Henri began. All the other lords nodded. “Naturally the Goblins will be in the front to absorb any casualties, whilst the Orcs can get into position behind them, so don’t let them bog down the charge. That means you Sir John.” A light burst of laughter erupted from all the Knights, Sir John included. “Make sure that your Errant Knights don’t break all their lances on Goblins when they will be better suited on Orcs.”

 Sir John was the current commander of the Errant Knights that had joined up with Lord Henri’s army a few weeks ago. He was the son of a minor lord in Brionne. As the second son he was not entitled to his father’s lands and had been on his Errantry Quest for several years. He had only just begun to lose the rash impulsiveness that plagued many of the Errant Knights and had developed a slightly more calmer approach. Indeed many Errant Knights wouldn’t think twice about charging a troll, ogre or even a giant single handed, in hope of taking it down with great glory.

 “Do not worry Lord Henri, I will make sure that my knights pick out better targets than just Goblins, I can assure you of that my Lord.” Sir John replied.

“I am sure that they will, in any case this is going to be a simple battle if all things go well. Sir John, I want your Errant Knights on the far left flank, Sir Neville I want your Knights of the Realm on the Right. I don’t care what is there, but I need you to break it.”

 “What about the middle my Lord?” Asked Sir Richard.

 “The middle will be me and the glorious Questing Knights that have recently joined us in our noble quest to rid the Orc from these lands. But as we are not entirely suited to the charge.” Lord Henri was referring to the Question Vow, which prohibited the use of the lance, the main sign of the knight. “We require you Sir Neville, and you Sir John, to break the orc flanks and hit them from behind.”

 “What about the foot soldiers?” Sir Neville added. Most Knights had a tendency to forget the vast amounts of foot troops that followed them into battle. They made excellent chaff against the enemies of Bretonnia. And every dead enemy was a bonus to the Knights.

“Those peasants? They are going to try and hold the line in front of the Questing Knights. I hope to have them join the battle and hold the goblins for a few minutes whilst we get into position.”

 Sir Neville knew that this was the general use for the men-at-arms that made up the majority of the foot soldiers of the standard Bretonnian army. Lord Henri's plan was harsh, but fair. The men-at-arms would force the Goblins into a stalemate before the Knights could come in to finish the job. Many Goblins had short range bows, and every shot peasant was one less dead Knight. This was about all the honour that a peasant would get in his time in the Knight's army.

 “The longbow men will be behind the lines and provide long range damage.” Lord Henri added. No knight would ever dream of engaging an opponent with a bow or any other ranged weapon, it was a dishonourable practice. That didn’t stop many of them from using bowmen as support, the arrows did their job in weathering down the enemy ranks before the knights charged in. Lord Henri had even brought along a few trebuchets for the battle. These monstrous machines hurled massive rocks at the enemy and were capable of crushing dozens of men with a single stone. But again, no knight would ever admit that one of those things could ever really affect a battle, besides they were all manned by peasants, who had no concept of proper honour.



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