Vox Populi Forum
Much has occurred in the weeks since I last wrote. Some deeds might bring you grim satisfaction, others, sorrow. The most apt word I could use is an epithet rather close to the surname of Mal de Merd-a-din. Yet I get ahead of myself. I shall write of these events in order, starting from where my prior message ended.
Once aboard the caravel Percy chartered, we determined that her Captain was an agent of the "Sons of the Sons of the Grognards," and were ordered to disembark. Moridin immediately tried to rabble-rouse the crew, while I helped persuade the unconvinced to join our cause. We fought to take the ship, but no one seemed compelled to fight at full ferocity. Rather than sword, pistol and fist, the sailors seemed to merely slap at one another.
I cunningly dropped to the hold to cross below-decks as the fighting continued. Marchand, meanwhile, found himself hoisted aloft when he stepped into the wrong rope, and Le Tomb, attempted to bring the fight to a quick close with a blast of cannon fire. To his chagrin, he chose a signaling cannon with a charge of powder, but no shot.
Moridin was first to confront the Captain, but soon found himself swimming. In the meantime, I'd completed my tactical plan and climbed back up behind the Captain, just dusting off his hands. The man was quick to recover, I'll admit that. He hurled a dagger at me, and, clutching the first thing I could grasp as a shield... Pulled the dangling Marchand into the path of the blade. In the heat of the moment, I'm afraid I failed to notice what, or who, I had just used as a shield and, instead, swung the twice-abused soldier directly into the Captain. There was a thud as forehead met forehead. The ship was ours.
Marchand was truly more gracious than I would have been had the roles been reversed. He described the gash in his throat as a "mere flesh wound." In recognition of the man's bravery and steady temper we honor the newest member of the Vert Valiant by naming him as the new Ship's Captain.
Tortensson merely shrugged, took the Captain's cabin for himself and chose to stay within for the entire voyage.
We left port, only to me met halfway out of the bay by the local Patrol vessel (attracted by Le Tomb's cannon fire). A friendly little talk and the sacrifice of my personal stash of doubloons sent them on their way.
As we left the bay, we could all swear that a certain five-deck Galleon under full sail was the Kleef flagship, "Thor." I had thought she was now a prize of France. Still, that is a mystery for another day.
Once asea Le Tomb took personal offense against one of the sailors. None of us ever found out exactly what the offense was, but Le Tomb was caught trying to smother the man in his bunk. The sailor's friends called for justice, but we feared that la Tomb would be unable to survive a flogging, given his still fresh wounds from Mainz. As the word of the Captain is supposed to be the only Law, we convinced Marchand to set Le Tomb ashore in Amsterdam, where he could make his way overland to join us in Dublin.
The crew were unhappy about this decision, and almost rose in mutiny against their new Captain. Marchand failed to calm them with words but Moridin quickly quelled the rebellious spirit. Moridin simply pointed out that a man who would laugh off a dagger throw to the throat and being bodily used as a bludgeon was not one to be trifled with - especially when that brave (if not Stout) man is a member of the vaunted Vert Valiant.
Ironically, the shouts and cries of the crew, Captain and Moridin attracted the attention of a Patrol vessel of Amsterdam. We, of course, did not have proper registration for this commandeered caravel, nor a ready supply of gold with which to bribe this Patrol. The fight began with me knocked unconscious by a belaying pin. I am told it ended with Marchand; still in his bloody shirt from the earlier fight, he strode into the middle of the fray, striking down the Patrol's leader with a laugh and a sneer.
And, with that completed, the rest of the voyage to Dublin was uneventful.
Dublin itself was a city in poor shape. Depleted, deserted, and unruly, her remaining people suffered from famine. We had to enter the port under cover of night, running dark and silent, to avoid the blockade of the harbor. We docked, dispatched the proper messages and at the behest of Tortensson (who stayed behind at the dock) started for our rendezvous with the supplier of the arms we were to take across the border, then walked directly into a full riot in the streets.
I was replenishing my purse from an unconscious looter when the surging crowd took notice of the fine French in their midst. Suddenly we became the target. I whipped my cloak over la Tomb and Marchand and told them to run for the warehouse while I bought them time to escape. Le Tomb muttered he would one day "take a wound" for me before they dashed off.
We all gathered at the warehouse. Moridin, Marchand, Wishard and I have made it. La Tomb is missing. Marchand says la Tomb was mistaken for me and deliberately taken captive.
While I am the first to admit to my renown for my exploits as an explorer, I cannot yet understand who would identify me by name for capture. We'll have to rescue him sooner rather than later as the Vert Valiant leave no man.
Our supplier, James Gott, was there, but our goods were not. We passed the time with a game of chance (losing the coins I had just obtained), and practicing our swordplay. The Scotsman was able to teach us all a few new moves. Adapting the techniques of the Scottish Broadsword to the of the fine French epee or ubiquitous cutlass resulted in unusual - perhaps even Irregular - swordstrokes.
The supplies we are to take the the rebels arrived. We chose to travel lightly for this initial foray, and loaded up four carts of Oxen with supplies of coins, maps, powder kegs, supplies of food, thick wool, tarp, small arms, melee arms, cannon, shot, shoes, and, of course, an altar and Bibles to raise the souls of those Godly men. Not to mention ale. We took double loads of ale and coinage. A team of oxen was left unladen in case one of the others should throw a show.
Moridin, the drunkard, loaded up a handcart with a keg ale "for himself." If he wanted to pull that himself, I wasn't going to tell him no.
The crossing into Carpathia was quiet. It seemed we were a small enough train of cargo to avoid notice from bandits and robbers. The only event of note was the discovery that we had more ale, coinage and small arms than we'd initially thought.
Our destination was Lucerne Peak. This region was populous, but depleted and suffering from famine caused by the seething masses of Godly Pilgrims seeking Divine inspiration and healing. Despite this, the people seems entertained. Perhaps by the strength of their faith. The Lord High Mayor, a man named Marx seemed suspicious of our supply train and wanted to take our goods to feed the local farmers. We informed him we were taking supplies and shoes to the local orphanage and offered him our unladen Oxen as a token of sincerity. He accepted the story and the offering before directing us to the farm of one Jacob Lem to rest for the night.
Rem was a renowned prospector (the rumors say he could smell the ore in the ground). His young daughter was one of those among the sickly, and Rem hoped she could be healed. Moridin offered to do what he could with his skills of physician and apothecary. As a physician myself, I could tell that the daughter was beyond help, but Rem appreciated Moridin's efforts and even taught him some prospector's secrets.
In the morning, subdued, we took our leave of Rem and made way for Lucerne Peak - the mountain itself, not the town at it's base. Tortensson told us to deliver the cargo of supplies to the brave rebels, while he would deliver the unladen oxen to the Mayor himself. Throughout the entire mission, that man had been glad to let the Vert Valiant do all the work, and now he was absenting himself from the delivery of the goods we'd been sent to deliver. In hindsight, we should have realized what the man truly was.
From atop the summit it was Marchand who sounded the alarm. Alas, we could see we were surrounded and betrayed. No rebels awaited to be armed, just a company of three hundreds of loyalist soldiers screaming for our deaths.
Whoever commanded our foes must have felt certain of the victory as we were left alone for the morning. Three hundred men against a mere five? Most men would call that insurmountable odds and quickly surrendered. We are Vert Valiant! We call that Wednesday!
During the hours we attempted to construct makeshift shelter from the crates and sacks of our supplies, but found we had only about half as much material as needed to construct anything of benefit. Yet we were also able to unpack much of the armament. Foolish is the foe that gives the Vert Valiant even a moment to prepare and plan!
As the sun neared it's zenith a bound and gagged figure was pushed forth to stagger uphill. Lo and behold, it was none other but Henri Le Tomb! I cut his ropes as the others continued preparations. Le Tomb's mouth was dry from the cotton stuffed within, and he was unable to speak. I was about to ask Moridin for a mug of ale to sooth la Tomb's parched throat just as the hour reached high noon.
The trumpets sounded, the drums began to beat and the surrounding force began their ascent. I discharged cannon down-slope, killing nearly a dozen/ Boleyn lashed the oxen, driving them down-slope where the frenzied beasts trampled another thirty more. Moridin killed four more with the pikes he had actually managed to forge himself atop that mountain. While Moridin was fighting, Boleyn set the kegs of ale alight, and rolled them down the mountain to kill another nine. I tossed the strongboxes down-slope and five "soldiers" were distracted enough to stop and grab at the coins when the boxes break open. Boleyn piled the tarps on the carts, set them ablaze and sent them on their ways, slaying another ten.
The attackers remained confident in their numbers, despite us killing over seventy of their troops before the battle was even well and truly joined! And now they were near the summit.
The battle degraded into "run and gun" tactics. Another thirty of the enemy fell before one of our own. Boleyn was the first of the Valiant to suffer a vicious wound. The action continued with small arms. Another twenty or so foes met ignominious deaths before la Tomb finally worked up the moisture to speak. He told me who had captured him and who had betrayed us all.
My Lord Bayleigh, you will, no doubt, feel no surprise to read it was Major Leonard Tortensson. Whether Tortensson alone or with the backing of other agents of the French court isn't known yet, but, rest assured, we will find out. And on that day, if I am around, I will absolutely help you take your vengeance upon the man who slighted your honor. He has not only dishonored you, sir, he has betrayed the entire Vert Valiant. For that reason, I would appreciate it if you would forward this knowledge to Francois Duclos in Paris. His new Appointment to the Realm may not be as safe as he thinks it is.
Yet, the traitor must have rued this day greatly. La Tomb croaked for us to close with the enemy, to get close enough to foul their aim. The four of us rushed into the oncoming throng, killing dozens more with our blades.
Cries from below signaled the arrival of reinforcements for the onslaught of enemy soldiers, and these new troops had cannon. Tortensson obviously had as little regard for this company of men as he had for us. The gunners below opened fire, never mind their own troops being in the area. Never mind that we are but four against hundreds! The shells began to fall, the slope erupted in smoke and fire, and we four were driven apart. Marchand found himself alone and was taken captive. Moridin and I broke east while La Tomb broke west.
Tragically, Henri la Tomb, our brave cohort in action, brother in arms, soldier of the Vert Valiant, the man sent forth by Tortensson before the battle in mockery, and a man who came on this mission despite severe injury, and a very man whose name meant "leader of the grave" is the only one killed in the shelling. I had one last glimpse of the man, cutlass aloft, clothes ragged, his wounds from Mainz again raw and bleeding through his garb, shouting, "..with all the armies of the world against Vert Valiant, each man will take dozens of you to Hell before die."
There was a whistle.
There was a roar.
There was an gout of stone, fire and meat.
There was silence.
Perhaps it was the last defiant speech la Tomb made. Perhaps it was the simple fact that our five had slain over one hundred and fifty of theirs. Perhaps the men were ashamed that they followed an order to fire on their own troop's position. Perhaps it was the fact that their commander, Tortensson, the coward, had vanished during the fighting, but, whatever the reasons, the company we faced released Marchand and stood down. Only one man continued to oppose us on that scarred and burnt mountain, and that man was James Gott.
In what now stood revealed as a double-betrayal, Gott came to the peak from simple Scottish greed - not content to send men to death, he just had to come along to retrieve a few measly carts worth of goods.
Yet la Tomb, Brother of the Vert Valiant, and a man I, personally, had tried to protect, had just been blown into pieces for nothing. If the battle had been for King and Country or for the greater good of the French, or even if la Tomb had died to protect or save an innocent there would have been meaning to his death. Instead this brave man had been killed over simple spite and petty greed.
It was I who stepped forward and felled Gott with a right-left combination. I let him live. I let him live but made certain he knew he only yet lived because I, unlike him, unlike Tortensson, understand mercy and honor.
To drive home the point, we made Gott dig the grave for Henri la Tomb, made Gott gather what could be found, made Gott fill in the grave and made Gott sit, silent, while Gott's (and Tortensson's) remaining troops payed homage and respect with prayer and twenty-one gun salute to Henri la Tomb: "General of the Vert Valiant who slew one hundred and fifty-six men at the Battle of Lucerne Peak."
We now return home, to France, to argue before the court that Major Tortensson betrayed the Vert Valiant and the Royal Crown of France for personal glory and that his foul actions run the risk of dishonoring the entire Kingdom of France in the eyes of Carpathia and Bavaria.
My Lord, Bayleigh, I expect you will join us at court. We of the Vert Valiant have wronged you. We have mocked you over your obsession with Tortensson, thinking only that you were overly obsessed with a woman's indiscretions. We were wrong. You were the truly the one who saw the dog for what he is. The dog has now made enemies of us all. Soon, the dog shall be brought to bay, kenneled and neutered. It is my hope you will be there on that day.
Leon Leonard L'eonce
Henri Suitably Avenged -- red (posted: 5/18/2018)
He (literally) shouldn't have been there. -- Mike Miller (posted: 5/18/2018)
Should be Skirmish at Lucerne Peak ,,,, -- Iron Conrad (posted: 5/18/2018)
I like Betrayal -- Mike Miller (posted: 5/19/2018)
Plus Half a dozen teamsters -- red (posted: 5/19/2018)
All dead... -- Mike Miller (posted: 5/19/2018)
All they can drink for my friends but not a drop for Traitors .... -- Iron Conrad (posted: 5/19/2018)