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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
Posts: 2580
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

The Reivers

Postby Reverend Norv » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:49 am

On they rode through the dark.

The mist swirled like deep waters around their horses’ hooves, and scudding wisps of milky cloud veiled the stars above. Faint silver moonlight glimmered on steel helmets, and blasted trees and heather bushes cast long pitch-black shadows over the rolling moors. Over the hills they rode, passing by ancient standing stones upon the bare summits of the Cheviots, occasionally nodding their respects to a distant bastle house of the Armstrongs or Elliots. Ahead, very close now, waited the Esk Water, the wee river – more of a stream, really – that separated the Elliot holdings in the Debatable Lands from the Scott holdings on what everyone agreed was legally Scottish soil. Once the riders crossed the Esk, the foray would be on in earnest, and the Elliots would have passed the point of no return.

It was a quiet ride. Here and there, a man muttered something; once, White Kester waved at a distant bastle house and remarked that his home looked fine in the moonlight. Iron Kenneth grumbled that he wanted to be dead by breakfast, and was rewarded with a low rumble of coarse laughter - but Pale Duncan made the sign of the cross over his breast when he thought that no one was looking. Roger Elliot was hunched in the saddle, his old eyes scanning the moors. Red Duncan clapped Robert on the shoulder with a rattle of steel and leather. “If your brither could see ye the now,” the big warrior replied, “he’d be proud for ta see ye a-riding wi your kin once more, cousin. Ye will do us all proud this night, and your brither’s memory as well.”

Abruptly, Hoary Rory – who was riding out in front of the other Elliots alongside his son, Walker Thom – gave a soft grunt of pain as if he had just been punched in the gut, and reined in. One by one, the other Elliots crested a low rise in the moor, and what Rory had seen came clearly into their view.

Below lay the Esk Water – perhaps twenty feet wide from bank to bank, and five feet deep at the middle of its channel. It ran slowly around rocks and logs and treeroots, gleaming in the moonlight like a river of quicksilver. On the far side, the land sloped up again to a stony crest, where a Scott bastle house stood; candlelight gleamed with a warm glow in the building’s faraway windows.

On the bank of the Esk, kneeling in the shallows, there was a grey figure. It looked like a woman, but only in the way that a corpse resembles the man that his children once knew – some essential, indefinable element is missing, and the result is more unfamiliar than it would have been if there were never any similarity at all.

Such was the old woman who knelt at the ford in the Esk. She wore a shapeless grey dress that dragged, soaked through and heavy with water, in the stream around her knees. Her hair was grey, and hung in limp, lank ropes around her head; it fell down directly over her face, and naught could be seen beneath but shadow. And her grey hands were wrapped around a man’s white linen shirt, dipping it into the river and then wringing it dry. Blood – thick blood, arterial blood, a man’s lifeblood – ran down from the shirt into the Esk in heavy, viscous drops. Black in the moonlight, the blood coated the woman’s hands and stained the sleeves of her dress, and swirled like a dark current in the riverwater around her knees. It seemed like far too much blood for any man’s body to hold.

The woman’s head rose, and turned, and though her face could not be seen, every rider could feel her gaze upon him. The shadows behind her curtain of lank grey hair fixed upon the Elliots with burning attention.

And with a shrill, desperate keening like a dying animal, the Washer at the Ford began to scream.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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The Grey Wolf
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Founded: May 19, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby The Grey Wolf » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:36 pm

Robert stared at the bloody mess from atop of his steed with an unsettling fascination with the blood before him. It reminded him of the continent, every battlefield was a festival of corpses. While he had grown to loathe it, at the same time, he remained fixtated with bloodshed. His inner contemplation was disturbed when he heard a trickle, and he looked around before realizing one of Willie's men had pissed his pants.

Willie, meanwhile, had grown quite pale, but still maintained control of his bladder. His horse was as nervous as he was, as if sensing it's master's discomfort. "Steidy lass," he murmured, the urge to flee from the specter growing every minute. Suddenly, it began screaming, and his horse bolted, Willie falling off the saddle with a yelp, his leg still attached to the stirrup, being dragged through the dirt as the horse raced around the Anglo-Scottish border.

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Occupied Deutschland
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Founded: Oct 01, 2010
Ex-Nation

Postby Occupied Deutschland » Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:37 pm

An Otherworldly chill swept down Marcas' back. He attempted to suppress it, hide it, mask it underneath his clothing, but the chill would have none of it. It exploded from his back and reached around, tendrils of chilled lightning racing into his stomach and then expanding outwards as if carried by the same forces that carried ardent spirits he had drunk. This time however brought on not by his consumption of a drink, but by his mere witness of the woman that was not a woman.

It wasn't quite fear. Marcas had felt that touch more than enough to know the feeling. This was slightly different. It was more a sudden realization, an understanding of the danger that had not been there a moment before. A recognition of the inevitable fate that lay across the river. Faeries did not lie.

Below him, Marcas felt his mare shake under the same feeling. Or perhaps that was his own legs shaking the horse. He was unsure.

He was sure of one thing, however. Maisie was, most definitely, not as touched in the head as anyone had thought. Or perhaps she was. But it was assuredly not the touch of idiocy.

Ye ride to death.

Marcas was suddenly glad for the horse's presence. The strength in his legs seemed to fade away and had he not been sitting on the beast's back he was sure he would have collapsed. Marcas did not want to die, and there was no arguing with the Washerwoman. Should have been no arguing with Maisie either. Someone was going to die tonight, and not solely those of the name 'Scott'. One of the Elliots, at least, would be in that number.

Fleetfoot Marcas Elliot did not desire to be in that number. But what was there he could do to avoid it?

With every fiber of his being wishing to shrink into insignificance before the not-woman, Marcas stared into the darkness at the not-woman's feet. Trying to identify the clothes she washed. Hoping he would not see his own.

The mare stomping and smashing at the ground, head shaking and on the verge of rearing up in an attempt to move away from the screaming stole his attention away. Seemed it had not been only him shaking. Not been only him wishing for a quick exit from the screaming of the Otherworldly not-woman.

Willie's horse bolted off, throwing Willie half-off in the process. Not been only him with an unsteady mount in the face of the Faerie messenger.

Marcas desperately clung to that thought. The Washerwoman did nae kill anyone. Or at least, that was what the stories said. The stories about her--it--killing anyone might never be told because there was no one to tell them, though.

"Cracked Maisie tried ta tell us we were riding ta death!" Marcas growled, or more accurately cursed, as he used every meager ounce of horsemanship he had to keep control of the foul creature through the Washerwoman's wailing. That incessant, chilling wailing.
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Cylarn
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Founded: Nov 25, 2011
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Cylarn » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:07 am

Job lost his wood when they came across the demon. His eyes grew wide as his gazed upon her, seeing the black liquid dropping from the shirts into the stream. Every Reiver knew of this omen, of what it meant for men of violence. In Job's mind, the Washer was a demonic presence, symbolizing the proximity of death to the group. At this realization, his skin turned pale white and his hands began to shake. When the eyes of the demon fixed upon the group, he grew even colder, muttering something about the Lord under his breath as he was otherwise frozen in fear. Even his pony began to slowly step back and whine somewhat. The shriek came next, and Job let out a scream of terror, just as his horse reared back, neighing loudly. Despite his fear, Job brought the creature under control. They were going to die tonight; they had no other option. If they turned back, they would be facing dishonor and the collapse of the prestige that came with their Name.

"We-we...have to ke-keep ridin', brother," Job said, trying to muster up some courage. "We can't turn back now."
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Nature-Spirits
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Founded: Feb 25, 2011
Ex-Nation

Postby Nature-Spirits » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:42 pm

Elspeth had few people to see off. Of course, she had bairns, but they had bairns of their own now, and were more concerned with them than with a bitter old woman such as her. But she cared little for the present moment anyhow. Her mind was in the past, in the night that she had sent her husband off on a foray much like this one. He, too, had been confident in his own abilities; had been confident that, though men would die, he would return.

It had not been so. When the party returned, she was a widow, and would remain such for the rest of her days.

Soon, though, the women, children, elderly, sick, and infirm retreated into the relative safety of Harelaw Tower, and the widow found herself returned to the present in a crush of Elliots, their collective fear almost palpable in the air, though none would admit to it. All knew that not all of the men would return, and each was possessed of the nagging worry that it would be their son, their father, their brother, their husband who would die.

Wee Mungo finished his song, and there was a crushing silence weighing upon all of them for an indeterminate stretch of time. Elspeth, being perhaps ten paces from the nearest arrow-slit, could not see when the menfolk vanished into the night, but she knew when Lileas spoke that they were gone, some never to be seen again.

"Well. How about a song then?" Lileas gave a small smile and clasped hands with two lasses, and Elspeth could not help but feel some pity for her dearest friend. She knew how the Mither cared for her brother, and all Border women knew the gnawing sense that their loved ones may be dead by the morrow, so of course she could sympathise.

"Whit song wad ye hae me play, my dear mither?" asked Fiona -- the Elliots' finest Celtic harpist, despite her youth, and having a lovely voice to boot.

Elspeth pondered which song would be most appropriate. Of course she knew many songs -- they were ingrained into all womenfolk from birth -- and of course she had spent many a night singing, praying for the menfolk's return; but this occasion seemed somehow different. Perhaps it was Cracked Maisie's premonition of death that had put her on edge. She glanced at the madwoman. Not many put much stock in the lass's words, but Elspeth was one in which the Sight was strong, and she understood things that most of her kin -- and especially the menfolk -- did not.

She turned back to Lileas. Perhaps the Mither had a specific ditty or ballad in mind.
Last edited by Nature-Spirits on Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rupudska
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
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Founded: Sep 16, 2010
Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby Rupudska » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:11 pm

Cylarn wrote:Job lost his wood when they came across the demon. His eyes grew wide as his gazed upon her, seeing the black liquid dropping from the shirts into the stream. Every Reiver knew of this omen, of what it meant for men of violence. In Job's mind, the Washer was a demonic presence, symbolizing the proximity of death to the group. At this realization, his skin turned pale white and his hands began to shake. When the eyes of the demon fixed upon the group, he grew even colder, muttering something about the Lord under his breath as he was otherwise frozen in fear. Even his pony began to slowly step back and whine somewhat. The shriek came next, and Job let out a scream of terror, just as his horse reared back, neighing loudly. Despite his fear, Job brought the creature under control. They were going to die tonight; they had no other option. If they turned back, they would be facing dishonor and the collapse of the prestige that came with their Name.

"We-we...have to ke-keep ridin', brother," Job said, trying to muster up some courage. "We can't turn back now."


Slowly, turning his horse to face away from the Washer, Tall Rory nodded.

"Ay... ay. We shoud keep moving. Naw reason tae stay here."

Lest ony weaker Elliots turn and run, thought Rory a bit grimly. Most milkdrinkers would turn and run from such a sight, even the Scottish ones the Elliots seemed to be a bit closer to. Even Reivers were often spooked by such things, and Rory was certain that many of the others, Red Duncan included, were most definitely spooked.

Still, his own mind prevented Rory from completely abandoning the others to go stake out sniping positions further ahead. Some twisted, morbid curiosity glued him and his horse to the spot, trying to find out just who would die that night.




Moira

There is a certain kind of telepathy reserved only for siblings, parents-children, or other relatives so biologically close. It alerts the one of the other's happiness or pleasure, yes, but far more often than that it alerts of fear and danger.

It was the latter that caused a chill to run down Moira's spine as she peered out one of the balistrariae in the tower.

"Somethin' awfu bad's aboot tae happen..."

She quickly turned around. There was someone she needed to see.

"Whaur's Maisie?"
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Nude East Ireland
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Founded: Dec 31, 2011
Ex-Nation

Postby Nude East Ireland » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:34 pm

Duff was a decent rider. He considered himself above average, good enough to win in a fight - depending on the opponent, of course. Before the men of Clan Elliot rode out into the night, he strapped his armour on and held his sword at his side in its sheath. After adjusting the saddle on his horse he looked to his sister Fiona and pulled her close to him. "I will return," he whispered to her, as he held her tightly.

The ride was smooth, or as smooth as it could be. He wrapped a light cloak around himself to keep warm, but it could easily be removed if he needed it to be. As they stopped at the Esk, he - like the others - saw the figure. A woman? He soon found her screaming, and it was unbearable for Duff. He gripped his sword grip tightly, wincing as he heard her loud shriek.

Stay calm. Wait ta see what happens, he thought.
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Nationstatelandsville
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Founded: Apr 27, 2011
Ex-Nation

Postby Nationstatelandsville » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:10 pm

"Mother Mary's tits!" Kenneth cried. He leaped back as he laid his eyes on the spirit, which sent his gelding a-whinny and kicking; a squeeze of the smith's thighs forced the beast into a reluctant calm. The horse trusted Kenneth - it had served him long, and did not doubt him.

Iron Kenneth feared little, but the feeling he got when he watched the faerie monster reminded him of an incident; during a particularly harsh winter, he had stolen a piece of bread from one of his siblings, and so his father rode him out to a nearby lake - frozen over - and tossed him in. The same goosebumps, the same deep, dark cold entered Kenneth's body. He pushed his hands quickly into his fur pelt, hoping to save them frostbite. He was drowning, drowning and cold, and he hardly knew why; and yet, just as he had then, he held himself together and attempted to swim ashore. He cried when he crawled out of the waters, but no sooner - so it would be today. He wouldn't grown any softer in his age, he'd promised himself that.

It was not death he feared, he knew that, nor was it the omen. The cries of Cracked Maisie did not haunt him like this did, even if they were prophecies of his own demise. No, though he did not know it, he feared the very being of this creature before him. Kenneth liked to think he had all the universe figured out; in the sky there was Heaven, under the ground there was Hell, and in-between there were men who scrambled for either extreme and never quite reached either. Both sides had their emissaries to the land of men - Heaven had Christ and Hell had Satan. There were angels and demons, but they did not show themselves to any but prophets. And there were once prophets, but they had all lived in the dusty shits of Jerusalem and Nazareth a long time ago, not here, in the Borderlands. So, just what the fuck was this? Was she a demon or an angel? No one knew with the faeries; they were neither good nor evil, though they did more evil than good. The same, Kenneth reckoned, could be said of the Elliots. The bean nighe was an impartial force of death, but she had the face of the Devil and the same dark taint about her; yet she spoke truths only the Lord knew, and claimed allegiance to nothing but the darkness in the swamps. Shifty creatures were the faeries, born of the mud and green. They didn't fit. They didn't belong - just like the mystics and oracles the Elliots so dearly loved. You couldn't trust them.

Kenneth did not seek his clothes - not because he didn't want to know, but because he couldn't bear to watch. That wet bitch brought him close to vomiting.

"We ought ta go," he urged his kin, his distress betrayed in voice rather than action.
Last edited by Nationstatelandsville on Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Cylarn
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Founded: Nov 25, 2011
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Cylarn » Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:23 pm

The Grey Wolf wrote:-snip-


As Job tried to ignore the shrieking, he looked over to notice something rushing away, along with the screaming of his cousin. Despite his hatred for the man, Job felt that he couldn't just sit there complacent and let a kinsman fall into harm's way. Job gave a sigh and stabbed his spear into the ground before riding after the beast and Willie. The creature was rushing far at a gallop, and if Job didn't catch up to the beast in time, Willie would have plenty of broken bones. Kicking the side of his horse, the beast took off, pursuing the fleeing pony that was towing Willie. Job was a seasoned cavalryman, and he had mastered the art of fast riding. The horse was a little ways away from the other Reivers, but Job managed to catch up to the pony, grabbing it by the reins and bringing his own horse to a stop as he attempted to stop the horse from dragging Willie any farther.

"Calm down, beast," Job attempted to say calmly as he stopped the horse.
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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
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Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

The Women

Postby Reverend Norv » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:57 am

“What would I have ye play, child?” Momentarily distracted, Mither Lileas gazed over Fiona’s head and met Elspeth’s eyes; the Elliot matron saw Elspeth glance at Cracked Maisie, and Lileas’ brow furrowed. One of Lileas' hands shook slightly, almost like a spasm, and her eyes widened. There was a sudden chill in the crowded circular chamber; candles guttered, and an abrupt wind howled through the thin arrow-slit windows of the tower like the wailing of the damned.

Blind Hamish twitched, and his head swiveled this way and that. “Whaur’s that?” the old man demanded. “Wha’s there?” Young Harry inched closer to Hamish, his eyes wide with fear.

Willful Moira was standing by a window. “Somethin’ awfu bad’s aboot tae happen,” she whispered. Lileas raised a shaking hand to her brow, and she opened her mouth to say something. But Moira was not finished. “Whaur’s Maisie?” she cried, turning away from the window.

“I can hear her on the wind,” Lileas whispered. Her hands fell onto Elspeth’s arm and Fiona’s shoulder. “Hark! Can ye na hear her?”

There came a sound like a clap of thunder, and the heavy iron-banded door of the tower jumped on its hinges; sawdust cascaded from the gate’s timbers. Outside, in plain view of Harelaw’s windows, stood a massive man – well over six feet tall, and built like an ox. He raised a mail-gloved hand, and struck the gate again, with similar results. Young Harry swallowed hard and picked up a carving knife from one of the tables; a pretty wife of eighteen years by the name of Bluebell Laurie bit the inside of her cheek hard enough to draw blood.

Those Elliots watching at the windows of Harelaw would see more men emerging from the night shadows that surrounded the tower. They were reivers – steel helmets and jacks o plaite, swords and bucklers and latches, ponies following obediently at their sides. One or two of the strangers carried torches, and the flames cast a guttering yellow glow over Harelaw’s ancient stones.

Into that glow strode a man. He was a little less than average height, and wiry rather than burly. But it was the way that the man moved that caught the eye of any who beheld him. It was as if he were dancing to a tune that only he could hear; he swayed and twitched, and his feet tapped the ground in strange patterns – a stamp of the heel here, a scuff of the toe there. As the man moved into the torchlight, he swept off his morion and gazed upward. From the tower’s windows, the Elliots could see the stranger’s shock of fire-red hair, and the purple trails of burst veins in his cheeks. His face was at once round and youthful, and also sagging with the wattles and weals of age. The man’s wide green eyes swept over the tower, unblinking and glittering in the torchlight, and his feet capered beneath him, twitching as if he were palsied.

“Hallo!” the stranger suddenly shrieked, and his voice was raw - like the howling of wolves. The gate boomed and rattled on its iron hinges as one of the men outside struck it with his fist. “Hallo!” called the man again, and then he snorted, and leaned over, and put his hands on his knees, and howled with laughter.

Inside the tower, Blind Hamish cocked his head, and then spat. “Tis the Kinmont,” he confirmed bleakly. Young Harry flexed his fingers on the carving knife, and Joseph’s lips moved in soundless prayer.

“Hallo!” Kinmont Willie screamed a third time. “Hallo, Elliots! Your hospitality is na quite sae warm as I had hoped.” Another choked laugh, and the man’s feet drummed the ground, a mad palsied jig. “But perhaps ye are undermanned just now, eh? Perhaps ye havena got hands enow ta welcome such guests as we.”

There was a coarse laugh from several bandits, and the gate rattled on its hinges again. Blind Hamish flapped unhappily at Young Harry. “Go brace the damn door, ye useless whelp.” The boy scurried off and began dragging a bench toward the gate; after a moment, Bluebell Laurie joined him.

Outside, Kinmont Willie was still screaming. “If ye canna gie me bread and ale, perhaps ye can gie me cattle in their stead, hmm? Your hamesteads are all quite empty, and the poor beasts are just a-wandering the land wi no man ta guide them. Tis a crime, so tis, ta leave them thus. Perhaps when your menfolk cross the Esk again – oh, aye, I know whither they ride – perhaps when they return, they will find their cattle gane, eh? And mayhap we shall take a few prizes o a different sort hame as well?”

Abruptly, the Kinmont coughed, and then coughed again, a long and painful sound; one of the reivers took a step toward him, and the skinny man bared his teeth and shrieked like a man in agony, flailing with clawed hands at the empty air. “No!” Willie howled. “No! Get back! All o ye! Back wi’in the earth! Go!”

Bowing his head, the warrior fell back, and the Kinmont turned and stared wildly up at Harelaw. “Gie it me!” he screamed. “Gie it me, ye bastards! I need it! Naw longer can I bear it! Gie it me or I’ll strew your eyeballs on every tree from here ta Newcastle!”
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
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Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

The Men

Postby Reverend Norv » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:06 pm

As the Washer’s wailing continued and Job rode off after Willie, Roger Elliot sat slumped in his saddle, his chin touching his breastplate, his eyes half-closed. Hoary Rory bared his teeth in a furious snarl, and shook his grey head like a wet dog. White Kester stared vacantly straight ahead, his expression stunned, his lips moving soundlessly. Red Duncan glared angrily hither and yon – at his brother, at his cousins, and above all at his immobile uncle. And over it all, the wailing continued, worming its way into a man’s ears and mouth and brain and heart and stomach, infecting him with fear like a great horrible tapeworm that reached into every hair and finger and toe.

“Enough!” Red Duncan finally roared. He put the spurs to his pony, and charged into the shallows. In his right hand he drew that great backsword, the size of a fence post, and swung it hard at the grey woman in a well-practiced sweep that was meant to decapitate an unmounted foe.

At the last moment, the Watcher turned, and looked up at Duncan - and the warrior’s jaw went slack, and his eyes went wide, at what he saw in the darkness beneath those lank grey locks of hair. Then the blade passed through the hag’s neck with a hiss like steam rising from a cauldron, and the wailing ceased, and the ford was empty once again under the moonlight – just dark water running mirror-smooth around the rocks. Of the Watcher, there was no trace.

Roger Elliot straightened in his saddle, but his eyes were far away. “Death,” he muttered, and the word hung in the air.

“Aye,” Red Duncan snarled, “but all men must die. We ride for vengeance upon them that wronged our bluid, and for the safety o our kin, and for the profit o our Name. Is there a man here wha wouldna gladly gie his life in such a quarrel?”

Here and there, a few men nodded or called out in agreement, but there was no overwhelming chorus of assent. Silence, stifling as the still waters of the Esk, settled over the ford once more.

Roger Elliot raised his eyes to the Scott bastle house that stood atop its hill on the far side of the Esk Water. Even at this distance, the dim gleam of candlelight could still be seen in the building’s windows, and the dark shapes of cattle lumbered about near its thick walls. All was still. Very faintly, the Elliots could smell the savory aroma of a cod stew drifting downhill on the breeze. In the silence, White Kester took a deep and ragged breath, the sort of breath that made a man think of shredded lungs and throats wheezing futilely out into the night air.

Job and Willie had returned. Red Duncan looked around; his pony trod at the streambed where it stood, splashing the dark waters. “We canna linger here,” the big warrior said grimly.

“Aye,” Roger agreed. The old man slowly drew his sword. “On, then.”

“On,” said Hoary Rory. "On," said White Kester. "On," said the others in their turn.

Red Duncan turned his horse’s head, and rode across the Esk Water in a spray of silver foam and pitch-black liquid. The others followed swiftly. They rode up the far bank, dripping with stream water from boots and trousers, their few pistols held high above their heads to keep the splashing waters from dampening their powder. The bare ground rose before them, and the hill-slope was clad with purple heather that seemed black in the darkness, and their path took them around boulders and low, flat, lichen-covered rocks. Their horses’ hooves were well-muffled; little noise did they make, and no torch did they carry.

Red Duncan reached the crest of the hill, and reined in next to the bastle house. He pointed to Job and Iron Kenneth and Hory Roary, and then at the house’s door. The message was clear; the three veterans were to try to force the door, and take the house’s inhabitants by surprise. The other men rode out to the few dozen cattle that grazed in front of a copse of pine trees near the bastle house, and began herding the beasts into a group with lance-butts. Red Duncan shook himself slightly, and grinned fiercely. The business was afoot.

Then a crossbow bolt came out of the darkness, and flew an inch in front of Robert Elliot’s nose, and tore through White Kester’s neck in a spray of dark blood. The pale man reached up and clamped one gloved hand to his throat, and black liquid poured between his fingers. He took a deep breath, a ragged rasp that never reached his lungs and that fluttered the flaps of torn skin around his neck. And then White Kester Elliot fell limply forward onto his horse’s neck, and moved no more.

For a moment, nothing happened. And then all hell broke loose.

From behind that little copse of pine trees near the bastle house, horsemen began to charge out. There were only a dozen at first, firing latches and pistols, filling the night with smoke and flame. But then there were a dozen more. And another dozen after that, more riders than it seemed possible could be hidden in such a little grove. But they kept coming, until the world seemed filled with them, and there was deafening noise and flashing fire and dark-gleaming steel everywhere a man could look.

A man in a steel bonnet was galloping at Clever Duff with lance in hand, and then Grim Adam Elliot shot him in the chest with a snaphance, and then Grim Adam was gone and there was another rider galloping at Duff from his left, and the Scott was bringing a backsword down toward Duff’s collarbones. “Ambush!” Red Duncan was bellowing, roaring over the chaos. “Ambush!”

Tall Rory found himself at bay on the edge of the fight, with three riders spurring toward him and no one nearby, but the moor was open under the moon behind him. His kin, though, were in front of him, and they could not flee with such ease. And now one of the Scotts was raising a pistol, and Rory could see the man’s gritted teeth gleaming white in the moonlight behind his beard, and there was no more time to think, only to act.

Willie the Wolf and Fleetfoot Marcas were together near the center of the fight, close by Clever Duff, and there was motion everywhere they looked, horses galloping and falling, swords swinging, men writhing upon the heather. Half of Willie’s cut-throats were already dead, cut down by a disciplined charge of a dozen Scotts bearing lances. Another Scott was staring wild-eyed at Marcas over the length of a nine-foot lance as he spurred his horse toward the young man; the lance-tip gleamed in the moonlight, long and cruelly sharp. A huge bearded man wearing a battered cuirass of solid wrought iron was galloping toward Willie the Wolf, swinging a bearded axe toward the neck of the Elliot’s steed. All around were more of the Scotts, riders pouring into the battle from all sides.

Robert, Job, and Iron Kenneth were trapped near the bastle house itself, their backs to its wall; nearby, White Kester’s horse galloped away at random, its master still slumped a-dying in its saddle. Almost a dozen riders had closed in around the three men, and one of them trotted forward amidst the chaos. The fellow was a big man, lean-shanked, broad across the chest and shoulders; he hurled his morion to the ground, revealing a shaggy mane of dark hair, and bared his teeth. “Know ye this, Roger Elliot!” the rider roared over the din of the battle. “I am Arthur Thomson! Sixteen years ago, ye slew my brither in cold blood, and fled my kin and our friends. Four years hence, I took your brither in return. And now ye also ha’ come home ta die.” Arthur smiled, and blood dripped down his chin. “Truly, God is good!” And with that, he charged, and his men charged with him, and the world vanished in a blinding hurricane of clashing steel.
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Nationstatelandsville
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Ex-Nation

Postby Nationstatelandsville » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:40 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:Robert, Job, and Iron Kenneth were trapped near the bastle house itself, their backs to its wall; nearby, White Kester’s horse galloped away at random, its master still slumped a-dying in its saddle. Almost a dozen riders had closed in around the three men, and one of them trotted forward amidst the chaos. The fellow was a big man, lean-shanked, broad across the chest and shoulders; he hurled his morion to the ground, revealing a shaggy mane of dark hair, and bared his teeth. “Know ye this, Roger Elliot!” the rider roared over the din of the battle. “I am Arthur Thomson! Sixteen years ago, ye slew my brither in cold blood, and fled my kin and our friends. Four years hence, I took your brither in return. And now ye also ha’ come home ta die.” Arthur smiled, and blood dripped down his chin. “Truly, God is good!” And with that, he charged, and his men charged with him, and the world vanished in a blinding hurricane of clashing steel.

Iron Kenneth paused for but a second - battle does not lend itself to long musings, only short thoughts about how that bastard with a sword is coming to kill you, and you'd best kill him first.

Kenneth raised Backbreaker; all credit to his grandfather, it was a good hammer. Sturdy, strong, and most importantly, fucking heavy. Kenneth had brained many a man with it, a few of them not unlike this Arthur Thomson - loud and proud. Kenneth did not care for the Business, but those were the only kills he had ever cherished. Kenneth had not always swung his hammer in the name of righteousness, but a well-earned kill was hardly a kill at all.

Likewise, he raised his shield before him, Backbreaker held high behind it. The shield - though it had no name - was far more useful than the hammer. You could kill a man with a shield, but you couldn't stop a bullet with a hammer. Well, perhaps you could, but Kenneth wasn't dumb enough to try. He'd let men like Duncan try for things like that.

As Kenneth raised his shield, however, he quickly undid his reins - something he'd practiced in many battles before, though something he'd put to use few times. Charging into a row of men with swords was stupid and dangerous, and even if it was the only available course, it was smart to have an escape plan.

"Cunts on horses always want ta talk," he growled. With that, he buried his heel into the ribs of his gelding; despite its own fears, it barked like a hound and charged the twelve. Kenneth hid behind his shield and roared incoherently, hoping to break their formation.
"Then I was fertilized and grew wise;
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From a work to a work I was led to a work."
- Odin, Hávamál 138-141, the Poetic Edda, as translated by Dan McCoy.

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Cylarn
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Postby Cylarn » Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:21 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:Robert, Job, and Iron Kenneth were trapped near the bastle house itself, their backs to its wall; nearby, White Kester’s horse galloped away at random, its master still slumped a-dying in its saddle. Almost a dozen riders had closed in around the three men, and one of them trotted forward amidst the chaos. The fellow was a big man, lean-shanked, broad across the chest and shoulders; he hurled his morion to the ground, revealing a shaggy mane of dark hair, and bared his teeth. “Know ye this, Roger Elliot!” the rider roared over the din of the battle. “I am Arthur Thomson! Sixteen years ago, ye slew my brither in cold blood, and fled my kin and our friends. Four years hence, I took your brither in return. And now ye also ha’ come home ta die.” Arthur smiled, and blood dripped down his chin. “Truly, God is good!” And with that, he charged, and his men charged with him, and the world vanished in a blinding hurricane of clashing steel.


Job's senses soon came to life as the riders ambushed the Elliots. Turning his horse to face the charging warriors, he pointed his long spear towards the threat. Ambushes were never fun when you were on the receiving in, but fear was a sense that Job didn't really feel in battle. He had been reiving ever since he was a young lad, and he had fought in several major conflicts in the Isles and on the Continent. He had charged cannon emplacements, armed with nothing but a sword and pistol, and he had survived sieges. Arthur Thomson talked a mighty game, but Job was intent on seeing how the warrior could fare against the Elliot forces.

"TO HELL WE GO!" he cried out, before screaming out a war cry and charging forward into combat, his long spear ready to tear through the chest of some unlucky Scott.
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Ex-Nation

Postby Occupied Deutschland » Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:34 am

Marcas stared in wide-eyed horror at Red Duncan as he returned to the group after slicing off the Washerwoman's head.

"Ye hellblasted fool, ye'll doom us all." He muttered unhappily, crossing himself and looking about as if the slaying would raise the spirits of the night against them. If it already hadn't. Already they'd had two warnings from the Fair Folk. Would they get a third?

Was Red Duncan so stupid as to think angering the Faeries was a good idea?

"Damnfool." Marcas muttered once again as he passed into the water, giving one last look at where the washerwoman had been.


Marcas paled as the Scotts seemed to rise up in the very worst-case scenario anyone had mentioned. To not even get through one bastle house...To barely be in Scott lands at all...And there were so many!

Before he even seemed to be able to finish thinking the thought, the Scotts were upon them, and any errant idea of retreat that may have beaten its way past an almost equally intense desire for vengeance proved impossible to carry out. The Scott riders enveloped most of the Elliots before anything could be done to stop them.

Now the only option was to fight. Any direction would do. But it was the only hope they had of surviving.

For the first time in a long time, Marcas wished he had armor as he spotted one of the Scotts barreling towards him, lance drawn. His mind was blank for an eternal moment of pure panic. Then, with a practiced ease Marcas neither felt nor really had, he drew his own, significantly shorter, spear and hefted it above his head. Drew it back. Tossed it forward.

Most Elliots were known as being gentle on their farm animals. Which was logical. They were the source of wealth and survival in the Debatable lands. They were what made on successful and envied, or unsuccessful and not even worthy of pitying. They were exemplified by horses. For without them few of the other animals would be herded, or obtained in raids. The natural inclination, therefore, was to spare the creatures whenever possible.

Marcas, fortunately, labored under a much different set of priorities wherein horses were down around the level of Catholics and Jews in matter. He actively despised the things. It was that, more than any skill likely, that allowed him to so cavalierly aim to kill one of the beasts with his spear.

The spear sank into the horse's front, burying itself a handful of inches from the throw, then was forced further in as the shaft dropped to the ground and the horse's own forward momentum pushed it further in before the wood snapped. There was a ear-splitting scream of horrific pain from the horse that sounded too close to a human's to be all that indistinguishable, and then the beast tripped forward.

The horse's human occupant followed the creature down, but Marcas had no time to revel in the surge of post-death delight that accompanied it. Nor, for that matter, even be certain the man was deceased.

Rushed by the din of battle and an itching on his back that told him a Scott could bury something unpleasant and sharp there any moment., Marcas pulled his mare back and behind Willie as best he could and surged forwards towards the axe-carrying assailant of his cousin, swinging his own axe in a sideswipe at the Scott.

"Damn you Red Duncan! Ye just ha' to go an kill a Faerie!" He shouted. As a war-cry, it left a lot to be desired. As an expression, it wasn't half as emphatic as Marcas wished it could be.
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Cylarn
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Postby Cylarn » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:18 am

Blood sprayed forward, as Job Elliot's spear found its way into a Scott's neck, the sharpened tip easily cutting into the man's flesh. With a push, Job shoved it deeper as the Scott attempted to delay his own death by grabbing onto the blade and attempting to free himself, though Job would soon direct the man from his saddle and onto the ground. He would let go of his spear just in time, as another Scott warrior was charging him from the right flank, sword drawn. Spotting this threat, Job's right hand went for his sword as he kicked his horse into gear, moving out of the warrior's path as he finally drew his sword to meet the high chop offered by the other warrior.

Job's horse might have been a beast of burden, but it was no fool. The beast had seen him through many engagements, whether they be on the Continent or in the Borderlands. It knew how to fight too, and as Job and the warrior began to have a clash of steel, the beast would send a low kick to the leg of the other beast, causing it to stagger a bit and giving Job the chance to use his free hand to slug the warrior right in the face. Gauntlets to the face suck and could kill a lesser man, but the warrior shrugged off his broken nose and continued to clash swords with Job Elliot.
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Ex-Nation

Postby Nature-Spirits » Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:34 am

Elspeth noticed Lileas's shaking hands, and went to hold the matriarch's hands in her own; yet before she could, she felt the sudden chill in the air, and the cry of the wind as it raced through the arrow-slits pierced her ears. The candles caught the elderly woman's eye as they guttered, and she bit the inside of her cheek nervously. Outwardly, though, she held her head up high, beholding her sistren as they shivered, many glancing around fearfully. Hearing Blind Hamish's cry, a low warbling sounded from the throat of a young woman standing beside the widow, and she gently shushed the lass. She needed to remain strong for them, a refuge from the mischief of the Good Folk and the chaos of the night.

"Somethin' awfu bad's aboot tae happen," she heard Willful Moira whisper then, and Elspeth's blood ran cold with a chill much more intense than that which permeated the air; 'twas a chill from beyond the tangible lands of man, a chill that spoke of the hidden tapestry that existed just beneath what was apparent to most folk. For though many would have dismissed the girl's mutterings as superstitious nonsense, the widow -- just as many other women of the Border -- knew that when someone, and especially a woman, felt such a thing as dread, it was prudent to pay attention; and doubly so when that woman had the Sight.

"Whaur's Maisie?" Moira continued, and Elspeth, too, glanced again to the madwoman. A witch in her own right, the carline could not simply ignore the signs anymore. Fear clutched at her heart, and she struggled to maintain her composure.

"I can hear her on the wind," she heard Lileas whisper, and as the woman's hand fell on Elspeth's arm she looked to her cousin and friend helplessly. "Hark! Can ye na hear her?"

A thunderous sound echoed around the tower, and Elspeth twitched, again shushing some of the younger women and gently pulling a few closer to her to offer whatever comfort she could. She could not see much through the windows, but she could guess at what was happening. She swallowed a lump in her throat, trying her best to remain strong, but to any who knew her well it was clear that the old widow was terrified. Memories of one particular night in her fifteenth year rose to the surface of her mind, with one at the forefront: the moment when a reiver grabbed her harshly, his fingers digging into her skin, bruising her arms and legs as he pushed her to a wall and tore aside her dress. Elspeth's eyes unfocused, her pupils dilating; and her stomach twisted in nausea as the memory of that instant slammed into her, more vivid than any memory she had experienced in decades. She closed her eyes to shut out the thought, but that only made it clearer in her mind's eye, so she reopened them. Her eyes glimmered with tears, and she looked to her hand, where her brass wedding ring shone with the reflected light of the candles.

A shriek entered the tower through the windows, and Elspeth realised that it was a word: "Hallo!" A thundering echoed around Harelaw again, and again the man called, "Hallo!" She heard a howl of laughter then, a cacophony of ugly noise that sounded as though it could have been made by a dying wolf.

"Tis the Kinmont," Blind Hamish informed the crush of fearful Elliots after a moment, and the woman's bones in her left hand and hips flared with the dull pain that had come with age.

"Hallo! Hallo, Elliots!" Kinmont Willie's voice grated on the widow's senses, and her hand snaked into the knife-shaped pouch that she had sewn inconspicuously into her dress. "Your hospitality is na quite sae warm as I had hoped," the despicable excuse for a reiver continued, and laughed again. "But perhaps ye are undermanned just now, eh? Perhaps ye havena got hands enow ta welcome such guests as we."

This time there were multiple, rumbling laughs that came from outside the tower, and the gate shook again as it was struck. Elspeth barely registered the fact that two of her kin were going to block the gate, her hand clamping down forcefully on the handle of her dagger. The memory of that night still played behind her eyes, one foot in the past and another in the present.

"If ye canna gie me bread and ale, perhaps ye can gie me cattle in their stead, hmm? Your hamesteads are all quite empty, and the poor beasts are just a-wandering the land wi no man ta guide them. Tis a crime, so tis, ta leave them thus," the Kinmont screamed. "Perhaps when your menfolk cross the Esk again – oh, aye, I know whither they ride - perhaps when they return, they will find their cattle gane, eh? And mayhap we shall take a few prizes o a different sort hame as well?" At this Elspeth gasped, but it got stuck in her throat, blocked by the lump of pain and fear that had grown there. She knew that they would likely not take herself -- she was far too old for them to consider her worth it -- but the widow was nevertheless afraid: afraid for her flock, for the lasses that surrounded her. The Armstrongs were well-known on the Border for being merciless -- even more so than most reivers -- so the fact that they had disnamed Kinmont Willie for that selfsame reason was a testament to his violence. And Elspeth could not live knowing that she had let such a man take members of her flock of young women. She would have to stop him. She simply had to. The widow could not bear the thought of such tender lasses being subjected to such a fate.

In her torrent of fear and hate the woman did not hear the Kinmont's cough, but she did hear the last thing he said: "Gie it me! Gie it me, ye bastards! I need it! Naw longer can I bear it! Gie it me or I’ll strew your eyeballs on every tree from here ta Newcastle!"

And Elspeth suddenly wondered what in Heaven or Earth he could be speaking of. Did he mean cattle? Women? Or was there something else he wanted? Nae, nae, she thought. It must be the nowt and the women. But I sall na let him take them.
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The Grey Wolf
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Ex-Nation

Postby The Grey Wolf » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:27 pm

At the keep, Louisa sat in a chair, facing the wall. Since Robert had left on his horse, she had become despondant, any attempt to speak to her would elicit possibly incoherent mumbling, before she continued to stare at the stone silently. Her trance was finally broken by the sound of horses.

"Robert?" she muttered, rising from her seat and walking to the entrance in a hurry, before realizing that Robert was not there. Her trance broken, she walked up to Elspeth. "What is going on?" she asked, unsure and scared.


Robert stared at the man, the brother of the one he had slain years ago, for a split second, his sword arm quivered. "Bloody hell," he cursed, spitting on the ground angrily. "That's wha yer here for?" he asked, steadying his arm. "I shall gladly send ye on ta way I sent yer brother." any remorse was bottled up at the moment, he couldn't afford to think of regret. He rode his horse forward, saber forward, ready to run him through.

While Robert was fighting his old foe, Willie was attempting to rally the last of his outcasts. "Kill them!" he shouted in vain, as several of them were butchered. He turned to face the old man charging at him, before one of his men hurled a pike into the old fellow's horse. He turned to face the man who had saved his life, a young lad, who had been disnamed after attacking one of his own kin. Silently thanking him, he rode forward, attempting once again to rally the remnants of his company.
Last edited by The Grey Wolf on Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Reverend Norv
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Postby Reverend Norv » Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:08 am

The combined efforts of Job, Iron Kenneth, and Robert had an immediate effect.

Job unhorsed one man within a second; the Thomson was shoved out of his saddle with a foot of honed steel through his chest, and he fell to the ground so that the lance-head which had torn through his chest sank into the sod. Pinned like a bug on a needle, the man lay dying in the mud, the shaft of Job's lance sticking seven feet up from his chest like a flagpole.

Another Thomson swung his sword hard at Job's neck, but the Elliot managed to parry the blow. There was a painful shriek of steel on steel - Border broadswords were not made for fencing, and blade-on-blade impact ran the risk of snapping a sword-blade in half. Accordingly, Job punched the man in the face; his horse followed suit by kicking the Thomson's mount in the leg. Man and horse reeled backwards, and the Thomson raised his brand to fend off Job's killing strike - but the foeman's sword snapped, its blade shattering on contact with Job's brand. The man swore a bitter oath, and turned, and galloped away through the fray.

Two down. That left nine to go.

As for Iron Kenneth, he ducked behind his buckler and charged the Thomsons at much the same time as Job began his attack. A sword-blade bounced off his shield with a deafening sound like pots and pans falling onto a stone floor; the impact nearly knocked Kenneth out of his saddle. Another blade slashed across the outside of his thigh, cutting through his trousers and ripping a gouge almost an inch deep through the skin and muscle beneath. A few inches further to the inside of the leg, and Kenneth would have bled out from the femoral artery; as it was, the wound was painful, but not immediately life-threatening. And Kenneth had achieved his goal: the Thomsons scattered, and the blacksmith broke out of the encircling ring. One foeman didn't make it out of the way in time, and the sheer combined mass of Iron Kenneth and his horse crashed into the shoulder of the Thomson's mount and knocked man and beast off their feet. There was a painful crunching sound as the Thomson was crushed into the mud beneath his falling pony.

Three down. That left eight to go - and there was suddenly a way out of the area near the bastle house in which the three Elliots had been pinned.

Robert's attack was less successful. Arthur Thomson was already charging when Robert began his assault, and so the two men met at a full gallop. Robert's sword rang off Arthur's buckler, sending a spray of sparks but doing no damage. As he passed, though, Arthur Thomson stabbed across his body with his own sword, driving its blade deep into the rump of Robert's pony. So deep did the blade penetrate, in fact, that it could not be withdrawn, and the continued forward motion of Arthur's own horse tore the embedded sword from the Thomson's hand. But the effect was devastating. Robert's pony screamed - an awful sound of uncomprehending agony that every man on the Border knew far too well - and fell forward onto the ground as its rear legs ceased to function. If Robert did not act swiftly, then he too would be crushed into the sod beneath his dying steed's bulk.

* * *


Elsewhere in the fight, Marcas and Wolfen Willie were swiftly settling their accounts. Marcas' makeshift javelin tore shallowly into the chest of his assailant's horse; then its shaft dropped to the ground, where it caught against a stone, and the horse's continued speed drove the lance-head in almost a foot. The shaft snapped with a sound like a gunshot, and the horse let out a scream; it fell, legs flailing, onto its side, and its rider was crushed beneath it.

Meanwhile, Willie was trying to rally his bandits. It was not going particularly well. The problem with disnamed men was that while you could expect their loyalty and their obedience and even their love, they were still ultimately their own men. A man with a Name would stay and die for his kin without a second thought. A man without a Name, by definition, was his own clan unto himself, and so self-preservation became a sacred duty. The fight had begun to seem suicidal, and Willie's bandits reacted accordingly. Before Willie could manage another word, one more of his men had been slain, and all but two of the rest had scattered, fleeing back toward the Esk.

Fortunately, blood ties were more secure. Marcas fell in behind Willie, and charged the big Scott in the cast-iron cuirass who was swinging an axe at the black sheep of the Elliot family. Before either Marcas or the Scott could land a blow, one of Willie's two remaining bandits threw a lance into the old Scott's horse. But with surprising nimbleness, the big man kicked his feet free of the stirrups and leaped clear of the falling mount. He rolled twice on the ground, and came up on his feet already swinging his axe - straight into the knees of Willie's own mount. The massive bearded axe-blade amputated one of the front legs of Willie's pony at the knee, and the Elliot's horse shrieked and fell.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
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Cylarn
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Postby Cylarn » Sun Aug 10, 2014 12:36 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:-snip-


Job grinned at his defeat of the Thomson, who rode away with his blade broken. Job's blade was a fine English longsword, stolen from a knight that had once been Job's commander during his time serving under the Crown. The blade had seen him through vicious fighting in almost every reach of the Continent, from the city-states of Italy to the dominating forests of Germany, and he had even had the dubious honor of fighting in Arabia, a region that Job would forever hate for its heat, sand, and camels as much for its vicious warriors and their curved swords. Curved. Swords. He had taken care of the blade all those years, but it was Iron Kenneth whom Job thanked the most for helping him to maintain the blade. The man had a natural talent with maintaining weaponry, and he was Job's go-to guy for weaponry.

As Job rode through the battlefield, adrenaline pumping through his veins, another Thomson decided to try at Job, though in a much more cowardly manner. The man readied his pistol at the Elliot as he rode forward, and fired at the man at almost point-blank range. The only problem: matchlock pistols and hackbuts were horrendously unreliable, especially on horseback. Had the weapon fired properly, Job Elliot would have been knocked from his horse by the ball and he would have bled out from the chest wound, but the weapon decided to misfire instead, the pull of the trigger and the match doing nothing. The Thomson and Job made eye contact, the Thomson's eyes growing wide as he realized the problem and saw the fire burning behind Job's eyes.

Job slashed his sword at the man's neck, catching a good chunk of the warrior's neck and his jugular vein. A rush of blood squirted out, coating part of Job's face and his armor in a coat of blood (thank you for the inspiration, Sam Peckenpaw and Quentin Tarentino.) The Thomson slumped down, his eyes rolling back in his head as he lost his life. Despite Job Elliot not being a violent man like his brother, the younger Elliot couldn't help but feel some sort of pleasure that came with striking down a man. It gave him an adrenaline rush to end the Thomson's life, and he gave a mighty war cry and raised his sword above his head as he charged forward, picking up his spear from the first Thomson that he had felled.

Across the battlefield, he spotted Robert battling with Arthur, the Thomson's back turned to Job as he rode forward. He saw Arthur tearing through Robert's pony, and even if Robert managed to survive this predicament, he wouldn't last long in a battle while on his own two feet. He kicked his pony in the ribs, forcing the beast to charge forward at Arthur as Job raised his spear once more. Elliots protected Elliots, and Job would be damned if he was going to let Arthur Thomson take down his cousin. Despite his desire to help Robert, he wasn't about to take what was rightfully Robert's kill away, though Job could have easily done so. As he drew in closer, he forced his spear downward with all of his strength, aiming straight for the back of Arthur's pony. If he was successful, he would force the blade as far through the pony as he could, hoping to even up the odds between Arthur and Robert.
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Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby Rupudska » Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:15 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:Tall Rory found himself at bay on the edge of the fight, with three riders spurring toward him and no one nearby, but the moor was open under the moon behind him. His kin, though, were in front of him, and they could not flee with such ease. And now one of the Scotts was raising a pistol, and Rory could see the man’s gritted teeth gleaming white in the moonlight behind his beard, and there was no more time to think, only to act.


Rory had no time to think, so he chose to act. And act he did. He leveled his latch at the pistolier and fired once. Especially at this range, not even armor could have saved him, and the man was knocked from his mount. Quickly reloading, he fired once at each of the other two riders before moving his pony out of the way, heading towards the woods from whence the ambush came. It seemed a far better position for picking out horses form under riders than his current one, even if it was more distant.

Reverend Norv wrote:Outside, Kinmont Willie was still screaming. “If ye canna gie me bread and ale, perhaps ye can gie me cattle in their stead, hmm? Your hamesteads are all quite empty, and the poor beasts are just a-wandering the land wi no man ta guide them. Tis a crime, so tis, ta leave them thus. Perhaps when your menfolk cross the Esk again – oh, aye, I know whither they ride – perhaps when they return, they will find their cattle gane, eh? And mayhap we shall take a few prizes o a different sort hame as well?”

Abruptly, the Kinmont coughed, and then coughed again, a long and painful sound; one of the reivers took a step toward him, and the skinny man bared his teeth and shrieked like a man in agony, flailing with clawed hands at the empty air. “No!” Willie howled. “No! Get back! All o ye! Back wi’in the earth! Go!”

Bowing his head, the warrior fell back, and the Kinmont turned and stared wildly up at Harelaw. “Gie it me!” he screamed. “Gie it me, ye bastards! I need it! Naw longer can I bear it! Gie it me or I’ll strew your eyeballs on every tree from here ta Newcastle!”


It was at this time that Moira chose to do something as incredibly brave as it was incredibly stupid. She, like the rest of the women at the tower, was not on the ground floor, and thanks to her position near the window, was afforded a clear view of Kinmont Willie below. This was very advantageous, because this meant she could throw just about anything she wanted at him.

A vicious grin crept across her face as she decided on what she would use. There was a sizable chamber pot on this floor that was filled to the brim with human waste products and other fluids. It was large, heavy, and just large enough to fit out the window. Gingerly, she picked it up (taking great care not to get any of the contents on her), carried it over to the window above the door, and dumped its contents on Kinmont Willie.

Every.
Single.
Drop.

And when it was empty, she dropped the chamber pot onto the ground below. She didn't see what it hit, as she backed away from the window before it landed, but she hoped it had hit something.

"THARE'S our 'hospitality', ye nameless, milk-drinkin' son o' the prince o' goats! Nou gae from our door and niver darken it with yer presence again!"

Her brief rant done, she ran to the safety of Lileas's side, embracing her tightly. She was white as a sheet.
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Rupudska wrote:So do you fight with AK-47s or something even more primitive? Since I doubt any economy could reasonably sustain itself that way.
Presumably they use advanced technology like STRIKE WITCHES

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Nationstatelandsville
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Ex-Nation

Postby Nationstatelandsville » Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:20 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:As for Iron Kenneth, he ducked behind his buckler and charged the Thomsons at much the same time as Job began his attack. A sword-blade bounced off his shield with a deafening sound like pots and pans falling onto a stone floor; the impact nearly knocked Kenneth out of his saddle. Another blade slashed across the outside of his thigh, cutting through his trousers and ripping a gouge almost an inch deep through the skin and muscle beneath. A few inches further to the inside of the leg, and Kenneth would have bled out from the femoral artery; as it was, the wound was painful, but not immediately life-threatening. And Kenneth had achieved his goal: the Thomsons scattered, and the blacksmith broke out of the encircling ring. One foeman didn't make it out of the way in time, and the sheer combined mass of Iron Kenneth and his horse crashed into the shoulder of the Thomson's mount and knocked man and beast off their feet. There was a painful crunching sound as the Thomson was crushed into the mud beneath his falling pony.

Iron Kenneth screamed, though it was hardly one of victory.

The old blacksmith's right thigh was torn to shreds. Though he had seen many wounds in his life, this did not make him a doctor - certainly not with the adrenaline pumping through his skull. With no way to gage the distance, with such a large wound, he had no choice but to conclude it was fatal; or he would have, had the aforementioned adrenaline allowed him to think rationally in that moment. What few thoughts Kenneth did have in the seconds after being wounded were different curses, smashed and broken on the sea upon the rocks of pain and fury, scattering themselves into a nonsensical mess of gibberish sounds. The intoxicating cocktail of hatred and excitement quickly overwhelmed his conscious mind, and in that moment, Kenneth was as feral as any of the younger Elliots knocking about for glory. Kenneth didn't want blood, however, he just wanted to get the fuck out.

But he had fought before, and he had been wounded before. Through some trick he had never understood, he didn't run, and instead turned his anger on the man that brought it. Kenneth would have turned immediately to face him, but his wound prevented that. Instead, Kenneth twisted in his saddle and turned the horse left, away from the man. The action brought forth another surge of crimson blood from his leg, which flowed down his leg and became trapped in his fox furs, solidifying in a thin crust around the individual hairs. Kenneth made another sound - not quite a war cry, not quite a scream, not quite human, but the sound of a dying beast twisting a lifetime of hatred into a dagger. Kenneth swung his hammer downwards at the legs of the horse of the Armstrong he had turned on, sweeping it at the knee and shattering the bone. The horse cried and fell to the side, crippled permanently. As it fell, Kenneth brought Backbreaker up to his left and clipped the rider at the side of the head. For good measure, he smashed the horse's skull, at least keeping the Armstrong bastard occupied if he wasn't already dead. More blood spilled from his thigh, dying the brown fur black.

Red-eyed hatred, Kenneth turned his glare on the Armstrong that had actually wounded him now. He rode suddenly to the left of his assailant, swinging the hammer with his right arm, hoping to catch the bastard's horse in the face while riding.
Last edited by Nationstatelandsville on Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ex-Nation

Postby Nature-Spirits » Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:09 pm

The Grey Wolf wrote:At the keep, Louisa sat in a chair, facing the wall. Since Robert had left on his horse, she had become despondant, any attempt to speak to her would elicit possibly incoherent mumbling, before she continued to stare at the stone silently. Her trance was finally broken by the sound of horses.

"Robert?" she muttered, rising from her seat and walking to the entrance in a hurry, before realizing that Robert was not there. Her trance broken, she walked up to Elspeth. "What is going on?" she asked, unsure and scared.

Elspeth turned on Louisa wide-eyed; fear, hate and rage roiling in her emerald eyes like a winter storm. It took her a few seconds to register what Louisa had said, and for a moment her eyes went hard as she thought, Wha kind o daft sot is she?

Then, however, she realised that the lass was inexperienced with the ways of the Border and had likely never been raided before; and the widow's eyes went soft as she smiled grimly. "We're bein' raided, jo. Tha man out thar be Kinmont Willie, formerly o the Armstrong Name. His name's knawin ta awl in the Debatable Lands on account of his appoventabyll deeds. Afere him, lass. Afere."
Rupudska wrote:It was at this time that Moira chose to do something as incredibly brave as it was incredibly stupid. She, like the rest of the women at the tower, was not on the ground floor, and thanks to her position near the window, was afforded a clear view of Kinmont Willie below. This was very advantageous, because this meant she could throw just about anything she wanted at him.

A vicious grin crept across her face as she decided on what she would use. There was a sizable chamber pot on this floor that was filled to the brim with human waste products and other fluids. It was large, heavy, and just large enough to fit out the window. Gingerly, she picked it up (taking great care not to get any of the contents on her), carried it over to the window above the door, and dumped its contents on Kinmont Willie.

Every.
Single.
Drop.

And when it was empty, she dropped the chamber pot onto the ground below. She didn't see what it hit, as she backed away from the window before it landed, but she hoped it had hit something.

"THARE'S our 'hospitality', ye nameless, milk-drinkin' son o' the prince o' goats! Nou gae from our door and niver darken it with yer presence again!"

Her brief rant done, she ran to the safety of Lileas's side, embracing her tightly. She was white as a sheet.

Upon seeing Moira's brave (and, admittedly, perhaps a tad foolish) act, Elspeth could not decide whether to reprimand or applaud her great-niece. But whether or not it had been a good idea, the old woman agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment behind the lass's act and words. Her determination renewed, Elspeth raised her chin and placed a hand on Louisa's shoulder. "We sall not be taken sae easily as he wills." Raising her voice so that more could hear her, she continued, "For we are Elliots! And the Elliots are not fazarts!"
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Ex-Nation

Postby Occupied Deutschland » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:41 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:
Elsewhere in the fight, Marcas and Wolfen Willie were swiftly settling their accounts. Marcas' makeshift javelin tore shallowly into the chest of his assailant's horse; then its shaft dropped to the ground, where it caught against a stone, and the horse's continued speed drove the lance-head in almost a foot. The shaft snapped with a sound like a gunshot, and the horse let out a scream; it fell, legs flailing, onto its side, and its rider was crushed beneath it.

Meanwhile, Willie was trying to rally his bandits. It was not going particularly well. The problem with disnamed men was that while you could expect their loyalty and their obedience and even their love, they were still ultimately their own men. A man with a Name would stay and die for his kin without a second thought. A man without a Name, by definition, was his own clan unto himself, and so self-preservation became a sacred duty. The fight had begun to seem suicidal, and Willie's bandits reacted accordingly. Before Willie could manage another word, one more of his men had been slain, and all but two of the rest had scattered, fleeing back toward the Esk.

Fortunately, blood ties were more secure. Marcas fell in behind Willie, and charged the big Scott in the cast-iron cuirass who was swinging an axe at the black sheep of the Elliot family. Before either Marcas or the Scott could land a blow, one of Willie's two remaining bandits threw a lance into the old Scott's horse. But with surprising nimbleness, the big man kicked his feet free of the stirrups and leaped clear of the falling mount. He rolled twice on the ground, and came up on his feet already swinging his axe - straight into the knees of Willie's own mount. The massive bearded axe-blade amputated one of the front legs of Willie's pony at the knee, and the Elliot's horse shrieked and fell.

Marcas cursed as his axe swung through empty night air where the Scott had been moments earlier, and awkwardly stopped the strike before it sent him twisting off his own horse. Twisting the reins to dodge behind the dying Scott horse the axe-wielding man had been on moments before.

For one brief moment, there was a break in the mayhem. The Scotts were focused on other Elliots, and a corridor out of the bloody melee seemed to open before Marcas’ eyes, as if by magic. As if the Lord himself had set for it to happen. The avenue was wide enough he could dart his horse through. One flick of the reins and he could be halfway through it before any harm could possibly befall him.

Marcas hand tightened on the reins as he snapped them upwards in the first part of the motion that would send him galloping away. He need only snap his wrist downwards for it to be done.

He was here to avenge Tam though. And Willie was…

“Damn me to hell.” Marcas muttered. as he twisted the reins to send him back towards Willie and his attacker. He was becoming foolish in his old age it seemed. It was the kind of stupid gesture to be expected from Red Duncan or some other of the fool-Elliots. Not him. He thought he was smarter than that.

It was a man of his name though.

But it would’ve been a lot easier if he still had his spear. Or some armor as the Scott had. Curse it, he didn’t like these close-up cattle-shit excuses for battles. There was a very real chance of some Scott besting him. Or just stabbing him in the back while his attention was turned elsewhere. In bow-range at least you needn’t worry about that.

Charging once again at the Scott who’d amputated Willie’s horse moments before, Marcas screamed incoherently as he swung his axe once again at the man.

As the blow connected, sending a rattling, teeth-crunching shake up Marcas arm, he absently remembered to notice that the Scott was wearing iron armor. There was a light-colored scratching and minor indentation in the back of the armor where his axe had landed, but it had neither the force behind it or strength to pierce.
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The Women

Postby Reverend Norv » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:04 pm

For a long moment after Willful Moira made her move, there was dead silence. Mither Lileas held the girl in her arms; Lileas' jaw was slightly slack, and her slim bony body was motionless and stiff. Then, at last, she gently touched Moira's hair. "There, lass," the older woman murmured. "Twas a bauld thing, sure and twas. A fine thing for ta have done."

"Did Willful Moira just do," Blind Hamish asked slowly, "what I am supposing that she just did?"

Young Harry turned around from his work barricading the gate, and braced his back against the benches which were piled against the iron-bound doors. "Er, aye," he replied distractedly.

Blind Hamish absorbed this. "Soup, or - "

"Not soup."

There was a moment's contemplative silence. Then Blind Hamish sucked in a breath, and shook his head. "Well, we may all be skinned alive afore the break o dawn," he remarked, "but sure and I'd gie it all for ta have me eyes again and see that sight, so I would."

There were a few nervous chuckles, but there was still no sound from outside the tower, and fear gnawed at every heart. Everyone knew the tales of Kinmont Willie: the rapes of small children, the ingenious tortures, the lingering deaths. Bluebell Laurie wrung her hands silently. In the silence, Elspeth's words echoed in every ear: "Afere him, lass. Afere."

And, in the end, it was Elspeth who broke that silence. The old widow straightened, and laid her hand on the shoulder of Robert's young German wife, and spoke softly but with an iron confidence. "We sall not be taken sae easily as he wills." Elspeth gazed around the tower, and her voice grew louder, stronger. "For we are Elliots! And the Elliots are not fazarts!"

Mither Lileas followed Elspeth's cry up with words of her own. "I was born in this tower," the old woman called. "And now that there's naw place left for ta run, I can think o naw better place for ta be a-dying in." Lileas' gaze swept from face to face. "I have birthed three children, and seen 'em all laid i' the earth. I fear naw pain, naw sorrow. Let the madman come."

There was a growl of approval from Wee Mungo. "Aye," cried Young Harry, his voice high-pitched and wild and delirious-sounding. Bluebell Laurie lifted her chin, her eyes bright and afraid as she gazed at Elspeth, and the air between the two women seemed almost to grow thick as youth drew strength from age. And then Bluebell Laurie gave a single, silent nod.

"Well, then," Blind Hamish announced, "ye had all best brace that gate, and find sommat weightier for ta throw down upon the whoresons." The women laughed, and rushed to prepare for the coming onslaught.

At that moment, Kinmont Willie screamed.

At first, no one was sure that it actually was the Kinmont, for that keening did not sound like a man's shriek. It sounded like an animal in torment, a noise of pure uncomprehending agony and horror and fear that was not just physically painful but somehow morally unbearable. To hear it was like seeing a wee babe fall under the hooves of a horse; just as a woman would do anything to avert her eyes from such a sight, so she could almost wish herself dead so as to escape the sound of that scream. Even the Kinmont's own men quailed away from him as he knelt, rancid and dripping, and howled like a damned soul loose out of hell. On and on he screamed, and never did he seem to stop for breath, until Bluebell Laurie covered her ears and whimpered and Joseph Elliot's prayers grew garbled and incoherent on his tongue.

Then, at last, it stopped, and the man's raw breathing could be heard straight through the thick stone walls of Harelaw. After a moment, the Kinmont stood, and pointed at the tower. "Bring me the amulet, and the grimoire, and the Druid Blade," he hissed loudly enough for everyone in Harelaw to hear. "Kill them all."

With a feral chorus of whoops and howls, the bandits streamed toward Harelaw's gates. The iron-banded wood doors leaped upon their hinges as a mass of armored men slammed into them; the bar rattled, but held. Young Harry and Joseph ran toward the doors, bracing them from the inside. Harry turned to the women, hesitated for a heartbeat, and then cried, "Help!"

The doors rattled again, creaking and groaning. There came a great cry from outside, and then one of the timbers split under the impact of a mighty axe. The blade glimmered silver in the candlelight, and then the axe was wrenched back out of the door. A moment later, it crashed through again, splitting another timber in the process.

"Brace the gate," Blind Hamish was screaming. And Mither Lileas was grabbing stools, kettles, and anything else she could find, and hurrying to the arrow-slits overlooking the gate. "We have to kill that axeman," she cried. "We have to stop him, we have to stop him now!"

The siege of Harelaw had begun.
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The Grey Wolf
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Ex-Nation

Postby The Grey Wolf » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:38 pm

Looking back on it, Robert had no idea what possessed him to do something so foolish as charge at his nemesis head-on. Perhaps it was the desire to end the cycle that had gone on since the day that he had killed the man's brother. Until he had met Louisa, he had buried it with cheap thrills, alcohol being the best way to temporarily rid oneself of problems. The trouble was that they always came back afterwards. He always felt terrible for that day, when he had gotten into an argument that culminated into a fight, and the death of someone he had had no argument with, aside from the hand of a buxom English lass. Whether or not the kill had been intentional or not, no one knew, Robert never told anyone. Maybe even Robert didn't know. He kept it buried down deep in his mind, and never let himself touch it.

A hundred thoughts rang through his head as his saber screeched against Arthur Thomson's buckler, only to be ended when the Thomson's own blade plunged into his pony. The poor beast let out a shriek, and Robert quickly leaped from his mount before it collapsed onto the ground with a thud. He too hit the ground, groaning and picking himself back up, reaching for his sword and turning to face his enemy.

* * *


In exasperation at the desertion, Willie looked upon the remaining two men who had stayed by him. Johnnie and Sandie, silently thanking the latter with a nod of his head for the perceived save. However, his gratitude was premature, as the skilled Scott managed to save himself, and swung his axe into Willie's horse's leg. Surprised and caught off guard, Willie jumped from his steed, falling to the ground with a thud not quite as loud as Robert's horse. He managed to push himself up, and reached for his axe, but his fall had dazed him, and he was not sure he could muster enough strength and dexterity to land a blow on the Scott.

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