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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

A New Arrival (attn all ?)


Hayl3y
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Clutching her gray woolen cloak, Fang looked towards the citadel one more time. The fortress looked so scary and so inviting at the same time. It was supposed to house fierce and mighty warriors, people who spent their time fighting Darkspawns… or that was what she had been told in one of the inns she had visited, it felt like ages ago. People who won’t notice who she was, who won’t try to make her go back to her father or call her stupid for leaving comfort and luxury for a wish of freedom. She needed them, she needed to lose herself in battle and to forget what had been her life before arriving here.


 


More than once, she had hesitated about going back to Tear and ask forgiveness to her father. He would forgive her, maybe ... that was not certain, after switching her raw and marrying her to that horrible business partner of his. She would not have to be cold nor hungry anymore, would she choose that path. She’d be rich, she’d have servants and a fluffy bed with pillows made of goose feathers. But this was not the life she was picturing for herself anymore. In the beginning, she had wanted adventure.  Unfortunately, the adventure she had encountered so far had been completely different that what she had had in mind.


 


Leaving Tear had been easy. It had not been hard to break in the seamstress shop, to steal a nice black linen riding dress and a red silk cape, then to go the blacksmith, to steal a couple of fancy daggers. Even grabbing a couple of golden coins in pockets had been very amusing. But life out of the city had been very different. The food she had taken with her had only lasted three days and the clothes she had chosen had been way too thin to protect her from the cold at night. The first people she had encountered had either tried to rob her, either laughed at her. Some had even made disgusting propositions that sent her running as fast as she could.


 


She had quickly understood that traveling as a lonely girl was a very bad idea and she had hurried, after a horrible night, to steal breeches, shirts and a dark grey coat to replace what had remained of her linen dress. She had also decided to tie a black scarf around her hair to pass as a boy for a while. It had helped her feel safer that way. But only for some time. Always people would eventually notice she was a girl and think she was weak. Then they would try to take advantage of her. Sometimes, she would have the upper hand, sometimes not …


 


Daggers had been very nice weapons to start with, but they had been no good to defend herself against some of her opponents. The daggers hadn’t even been enough to hunt for food in the forests and fields she had crossed. After having starved for days, she had been happy to see a village and to steal a bow forgotten in a garden. It had taken her time to get used to that weapon and to train but she had been quite happy when she had been able to eat her first bow-killed rabbit.


 


Going from hiding place to hiding place, having learned from her mistakes, she arrived in that Andoran town, she didn’t remember the name of, thinking that settling there would be a good idea.  At least for a while. The town had looked rich and not very protected. She had found a sleeping spot in an abandoned house  and had managed to steal some coins at the weekly market, enough to get a room and a bath in one of the two town inns. After some more tries at picking pockets, she had bought herself new clothes and food. It was at the had heard old men talking about the Band of the Red Hand.


 


At first, she had thought that fighting like the Band did was the silliest thing in the world. But she had not been able to stop thinking about it: at least there, no one would dare taking advantage of her. She’d have free food and a roof, and she’d learn how to fight to defend herself.


 


It had taken her days to travel to the Citadel, away from the main roads, trying to hunt for her own food, and now, in a couple of minutes she would be there …


 


 


- Fang


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OCC: Hope you, or anyone else, don't mind if I use Edward to help our new friend. Since he's our new NSW I'd reckon he'd be pretty suited to welcoming new recruits.

 

   “Hey Danny, what day is it?”
   “Why do you need to know the bloody date?”
   “Not the bloody date, you stupid, the day! Is it Monday, or is it Tuesday?”
   “It’ll be a day for latrine duty for both of you, if you don’t shut up and keep your heads on a swivel,” Edward snapped. The two spearman assigned as part of the escort detail fell instantly silent as he gave them both a sideways scowl. The day had passed its zenith and Edward Fawn was in no mood for any more footslogger tomfoolery. He usually let it wash over him in camp, but after a day of walking and trekking, the two had picked a bad time to start yabbering. The spearmen slunk back to the rear, and Edward saw by the looks on their faces, that they won’t be talking for a while. At least, not yet – not when he was still within earshot.
He needed his Kaff, his warm tent office, his bed. He was getting too old for this.  
    Well you’re the one that still insists on volunteering for this, a voice whispered quietly in the back of his head.  It was true. Edward had asked to be part of the escort that accompanied the supply wagon to the citadel. And for every other week – ever since he found himself waking up at One O’clock in the afternoon. He definitely wasn’t what he used to be. The years had just sort of… crept up on him. One day, he remember he could still throw a spear a good thirty metres, the next he’d feel hung over from just a single mug of ale. The wiry sergeant shook his head as he adjusted his footman’s cap. A part of him knew it was probably high time for retirement, but another just simply refused to die. Next week, Edward would probably be standing in the same spot again – at the front of the citadel supply wagon.
     He raised his head and noticed a figure walking with his back turned towards the advancing column. A youth by the looks of it, with a grey cloak wrapped tightly around his shoulders. Another to join the Band, probably. Young men, and sometimes to Edward’s shock – women, flocked to join the Band of the Red Hand. For whatever their reason – glory, wealth, freedom to do as they pleased, all facets of material appear on the other side of his office desk. Edward was the one who was supposed to sort through the influx of new recruits and pick out the ones that will eventually get accepted. A Human Resource person of some kind. He sighed audibly. He had grown to hate his current position. Why couldn’t one of the bloody Officers do it? He sighed once more. Might as well get this one dealt with first, he thought as the wagons, along with himself, trundled over. It might as well be on the way, rather than having to waste time in his office.
   “Ahoy stranger!” he called, and the youth, apparently having been oblivious to the rumbling of the wagons, turned to find the source of the cry. “Be headed to find the Band, I presume?” After a moment, where the youth simply seemed to study them, he nodded.  “Well then you’d better tag along; got some questions I need to ask you first. And yes, we are part of the Band, if you were wondering.” He added the last part when he saw suspicion flash across the youth’s eyes. Green eyes. That’s unusual. His skin was tanned, and the accent to which he spoke hinted of Tear.
    “Shall we start with your name?” He waved the rest of the supply column forward, as he and the youth tagged along near the rear. The two Spearman, he also didn’t fail to notice, promptly relocated to the front. He’d have a word with those two when he got back.
   “Now…Chin up lad, and stop skulking. This is after all an interview. What, you didn’t think we’d just accept anyone here did you?”

 

~ Edward Fawn
Infantry Sergeant in the Band of the Red Hand

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Fang had arrived near the Citadel and was hoping to reach the wall as soon as it was possible to. She was hungry, her stomach had been growling for hours now and she was tired. Unfortunately, the road in front of the fortress doors had looked quite busy. Some soldiers where busy patrolling, or discussing. There were also some carts. Getting in would not be as fast as she had hoped. The young girl didn't know whether or not she should feel safe. She was alone, protected only by her daggers and her bow would do no good would she be attacked. Maybe with luck those soldiers would be nice to a new recruit, or maybe not.

 

Pulling the hood of her cloak, she tried to think about what she could say to gain admittance. She could definitely not tell the truth. But it would be hard to hide the fact that she was Tairen. Her accent and her features would giver her away immediately. She jumped out of her thoughts when she heard someone calling.  

 

"Ahoy stranger! Be headed to find the Band, I presume?" Fang turned and saw an old soldier, fighting to put his helmet back in place. Straightening, she tried to appear calm and nodded slowly. The man didn't look especially gentle nor very happy to see a new comer. Better for her to say lilttle. This man could be an annoyance, she thought. Maybe he would try to slow her down or to give her another of those weird proposals. Men tended to do that, she had learnt.

 

She felt relieved though when he told her that he was with the Band. Seeing how proudly he had said the word, she guessed he must have some kind of position.

 

But, he asked her her name, and Fang started to panick. She had not her story straight yet.

 

"I am Fay... " Fang bit her lips. She was not supposed to give out her real name if she wanted to stay away from her father. "I am Fang, Old man", she replied trying to grin and talking with the lowest voice she could manage. Under no circumstances would she show that she was a girl. She had to try to pass as a boy at least till she'd be accepted officially.

 

The man didn't look impressed though. Fang put them more efforts in trying to look confident, as he eyed her from head to toe, but his words had scared her when he had made it clear that not anyone would be accepted in the Band.

 

"I am not anyone, i can fight", she replied with a scowl. Of course, she would not tell him yet that she could only fight with daggers nor that she had barely mastered shooting with her bow. She tried to look in front of her and to think about the kind of information she could give. Placing her hand on the hilt of the dagger that was hanging on her right side, she added "I have injured a couple of men already. Some badly."

 

 

- Fang

 

 

 

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Edward let out a huff. Old man indeed, he was barely. He did a quick count with his fingers, forty-nine. There’s still…  
   “I am Fang,” said Fang trying to pull off a nonchalant grin with his scowl. The youth was obviously trying to impress him, though at the moment, that was proving unsuccessful. “Mhmm...” The Veteran Sergeant nodded absently to the youth’s response, adjusting his cap to one side.
   “And just exactly why, do you think, I should allow you into the Band?”
Fang hesitated. It always appeared he was on the edge of answering, but always, the boy had to think before he gave his response.
He’s hiding something.
Again, that wasn’t unusual. People who sought out mercenary bands usually had something to hide. Or were hiding from. Which in Edward’s case was… but that was a long time ago.
    “I’m not anyone,” the youth blurted out, which prompted a raised eyebrow from Edward. This one had a particular strangeness about him. Indeed it provoked a few quite unpleasant memories from the aged footman. The stabby, dual short sword to the chest kind, in particular. Yes, why was he suddenly thinking about Captain Eb of all people? The female officer and Edward had rarely gotten along, even after they had been forced to make amends with one another following the slight… Misunderstanding.
   “I can fight.”
   “I’m sure you can, lad.”
   “I have injured a couple of men already. Some badly…”
Oh dear. We have a wild one. Edward gave the newcomer a sidelong look. Why did everyone in the world think the Band was only looking for Cut-throats and murders? He’s had to sort through more than one resume which looked more like a butcher’s list, than a job application. This kid, at least he must be pretending.
     Despite all his external hardness, despite the tough looks and menacing scowls, there was something decidedly insecure about this one. The provocative tone, the agitated air. This one probably had a rough time getting here. Edward wasn’t a particularly harsh person; which meant he didn’t particularly enjoy tormenting for the sake of it.   
   “Come over to my tent,” he said as the first of the wagons rolled through the front entrance, “Whatever comes, we’ll at least see you fed. Rodrigo!” He called out to one of the kitchen hands, which he knew by sight, as the two of them stepped through to the Citadel proper. “Get this lad a cup of broth. Come,” he gestured to the youth, “my tent, now.” Hefting his spear over one shoulder, he walked with the youth towards the familiar sight of his quarters, near the outskirt of the third battalion’s staging area.
     The tent was much as he had left it. The supply run usually lasted for only a day, sometimes two, depending on the condition of the road. Setting down his helm and laying his weapon in one corner, he turned and began lighting a stand lamp that was sitting on top of his fold up desk. After a minute of him working the flint, the lamp finally caught and illuminated the dim interior with a flickering orange light.
“Now,” he continued, fishing through for the Tobac pouch which he had stashed in one of his drawers. “We got your name, but you haven’t answered my questions. Why do you want to join the Band?”
     At that moment the broth which Edward had ordered arrived in the form of two wooden bowls, steaming with the peppered scent of mushroom in the air.
   “Thought you’d like one too,” the cook pushed aside the tent flaps and entered.
   “Yes, just leave it on the table.” He said absently, as he finally located the pouch he had been looking for.   
     Edward hadn’t realised up till that point how peckish he felt. Picking up one of the bowls he began blowing on the surface of the creamy liquid to cool it.
The newcomer didn’t touch his, though Edward noticed the all too familiar look of hunger cross those dark emerald eyes. Who has Emerald eyes anyway?
Taking a tentative slurp, he settled the bowl down to his lap, then began rummaging for his papers.
   “Right. Shall we start with how you came here?”

 

 ~ Edward Fawn
Infantry Sergeant in the Band of the Red Hand

Edited by Sherper
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Come over to my tent, said the soldier. And Fang's grin disappeared straight away. He must surely have noticed she was a girl and he must be planning to rape me, she thought. Gripping the hilt of her dagger, it was with relief that she heard him calling for food after a couple of seconds. Maybe he had some other plans for her after all.

 

I still must stay on my guard , she repeated to herself till she arrived to the soldier's tent. It was a plain one and the few pieces of furniture matched the man it housed. The soldier set down his helmet and layed down his weapon, not so far from his hand, the girl noticed. He lit a lamp and turned himself toward Fang.

Now, we got your name, but you haven’t answered my questions. Why do you want to join the Band?

 

Fang tried to rehearse the stories she had been preparing in her head. But the man was looking at her so intensely that she decided to go for some kind of truth. Before she had the time to open her mouth though, a younger soldier entered the tent with food. Two big bowls of broth. It smelled so good that her mouth started watering. She thought she would escape giving any kind of the explanation : the old man looked hungry too. But he kept his eyes on her. When he told the youth to leave the bowls on the table, she knew she had to say something.

Fang sighed and decided not to touch her bowl. She couldn't show any sign of weakness. She had to show that she was strong. Biting her lips she knew she had to say something fast. Soldiers were not of the most patient kind. But her story was not ready yet.

 

Right. Shall we start with how you came here? he asked.

 

On foot ! All the way from Tear, she said with another grin.

 

I came all the way from Tear, Fang repeated, trying not to look at her broth too much. Ran into some problems over there. Have no dad, no mum, no one. I need to do something with my life.

 

Again the the old man didn't look impressed. As he raised his eyebrow once more, Fang felt obliged to continue.

 

I have learned to steal, to break into houses. I am quite sneaky, she smiled. Being a thief is not a future. Well at least it is not what I envisionned for my future. I want to be useful. She sighed

 

Things turned out bad for me in Tear, and there are things i want to forget. I want to be a fighter, a soldier. I want to live for something, not only be a ... survivor. she added, hoping this would do the trick.

 

Fang grabbed one of her daggers and started to juggle with it then she threw it at a random piece of furntiure in the tent. Surely that would impress the soldier.

 

 

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Edward eyed the dagger which was stuck quivering in one of his wooden filing cabinets. Blast it! Why did everyone do that? That was precisely what Eb had done when she was last in his tent. Women, he thought moodily, turning his attention back to the face of the raw recruit.
   “Impressive…” he growled, making sure to get just the right amount of sarcasm into his words. “But don’t ever do that again. Cause next time… that’s coming straight out of your salary.”
He lounged back into his chair, which in all its capacity, really wasn’t designed for the purpose. Another orphan, his mind mulled over the factors. Or at least, the lad claims to be. Edward still wasn’t quite sure if the boy was telling the truth or not. But in any case, despite the frankly appalling show of bravado – not to mention the damaged cabinet – Edward knew he couldn’t turn this one away. The Band rarely turned away people in desperate need.
   “You claim you can fight,” It wasn’t a question. “But I don’t believe you.” The words that flowed from his mouth were familiar to him. He had said them countless times before, to each and every patch of new recruits. Not all drill sergeants were born naturally mean; some like Edward, simply did it to keep up appearances.  If all the boot camp stories were true, Edward reckoned there wouldn’t be enough mental asylum patients to fill the drill sergeant quota.   
   “But since I’m too darn lazy to even bother with the likes of you,” he continued. “I’m just going to have someone else deal with it.” Cocking his head to the side, he bellowed as loud as he could.
   “Jeral! Private Jeral!” After a moment of silence, he yelled that much louder.
   “Bear bait!” He finally tried. “Get your flaming boots in this tent this instant, or else…” he cut off as the entrance flaps threw themselves open to admit a scrawny teenager with jet black hair and coloured Tairen skin.
     “What is it sore-tooth?” the youth grinned as he walked in. “Want me to fetch you another hot water bag for your bed?”
Edward felt his left eye twitch involuntarily as he glared at the scrawny faced soldier.  
   “I’m not that old,” he snapped. “And stop using that name.”  One day, he promised, he’d find the idiot that had popularised that nickname.   
   “Whatever you say, Pops.” The boy returned with a broad smile. Insufferable teenagers.  
His mind churned as he glared first at the youth, then at the recurve longbow he carried to his side like a quarterstaff. Scouts. He huffed, then cleared his throat.
He gestured towards the other seated figure, who seemed to examine the spindly youth with the same look of distrust he had shown Edward earlier.
   “Bear-bait, meet the new kid. New kid,” he said. “Meet privat-”
   “That’s corporal to you. Sir...” Interrupted Jeral, at the most exasperating of moments.  The aged Sergeant rolled his eyes.
   “Yes,” he chewed his words, “I almost forgot. Who’d you bribe anyway?”
The scout only smiled.
   “You’re to take the new kid around, and get him equipped with something other than…” he trailed off, giving Jeral the chance to notice the dagger still stuck to the filing cabinet.
   “Right.” The scout paused, “We’ll go see the quartermaster in a bit. Come, New Kid.” He mimicked Edward’s deep growl. “I’ll have your hide if you don’t double time yourself out of this stinking pit of misery and decay!” The two of them quickly stormed out, but not before Edward had a chance to throw a few choice insults.
   Stinking youths, he thought as he sank back down into his seat. Was it too early to be seen drinking? He shrugged, deciding a quiet evening with his pipe was probably more preferable. If only he could figure out where he had placed his matches.

~ Edward Fawn
Infantry Sergeant in the Band of the Red Hand

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When the younger soldier entered the tent, Fang bleached. Her stomach got tight, very tight as she felt sweat running down her spine. The flaming soldier had called a flaming Tairen!

 

It took the girl three whole minutes to relax. After all, there were not many people who had encountered “Fang” in Tear and “Faydora” had been overprotected by her father, barely putting her feet outside of the family house.  Even if the newcomer shared the same birthplace as her, he would not… he could not recognize who she was. Keeping out of the conversation between the two Band members, she adjusted her coat and tried to breathe more slowly. She couldn't resist pulling her hood a bit lower though even if it seemed that the younger man was more interested in the old soldier than in her.

 

Corporal Jeral, that was his name, was "nicely" ordered to take her around. The exchange between the two men turned out to be quiet interesting in the end. It looks like they really like each other thought Fang but it will better if i stay out of it. I can attract any kind of attention on my past. It was with pleasure that she heard that they both allowed to go.

 

Stepping out of the tent behind the corporal, Fang welcomed a colder breeze. She had felt very warm in the tent. Probably because of all this stress. I hate it. Everything looks good so far, though. She had forgotten her dagger, she noticed, but she didn’t want to get it back right now. Nothing won’t interrupt me now. I need to show what I am good at.

 

The first step seemed to be visiting the quartermaster. But he was nowhere to be seen. Fang didn’t really pay attention to his absence, nor to what Jeral could have been saying to her. Her eyes were attracted by the weapons and pieces of armor placed at the disposal of the members of the Band. From heavy plates and huge axes, to chain mail and poles. It looked like a soldier paradise.

 

Immediately, she went to another set of daggers a little bit longer than the one she had used during her journey. Those looks lethal. Jeral coughed and finally Fang looked at him. It seemed that he had been asking her something and was expecting a reply.

 

"Nice stuff you have over here" she said with a grin.

 

 

 

 

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Jeral found himself giggling as he stormed out of the tent, followed closely by the new-comer – and a flying projectile of some description. Sarge really is getting moody with age, he thought as he straightened his jacket and looked from the tent to the new recruit.
“Well, we’d better go and find you something,” he said, hefting his unstrung longbow across the small of his back and leading the two of them towards the quartermaster’s building.
“Name’s Jeral, as the old bear said. I’m one of the Band’s scouts.”
     They walked for a few minutes, passing the Citadel’s grounds and through its busy intersections. The Citadel really shouldn’t be seen simply as a military fortress these days; it was essentially a self-sufficient city, equipped with a blacksmith, tanner, mill and the means to grow its own food. Not forgetting to mention the sizable garrison always on alert that could withstand just about anything, apart from the most determined of armies.  
Jeral waved in greeting to a few familiar faces as he passed them. Arkin giving them a toothy grin as he approached the Tavern, his tankard already half empty. At three in the afternoon? The man must be off duty today. Calder would usually peel the skin off of anyone’s back – high, or low ranked – if they were caught drinking on the job.   
     After passing a few more corners, all of which was done in silence as the recruit gave no opening for Jeral to start anything resembling a conversation. They arrived at the Quartermaster’s yard.
“We’re here.” He said as they reached the stout wooden door marking the entrance. It was a separate building, out and divided from the rest of the Citadel infrastructure by a flattened courtyard used for weapon drills.
The quartermaster did not appear to be in at the moment, and Jeral hoped for the man’s own sake, that he hadn’t decided to join Arkin for some early entertainment.
The recruit on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind. The Tairen walked towards the weapon rack which the quartermaster had left out for the evening, and picked up a dagger.
     Jeral coughed, clearing his throat as the recruit weighed the weapon, testing its balance and juggling it in one hand experimentally.
“Take it you’re into daggers then.” He said, trying yet again to start a conversation. His own hunting knife sat comfortably in a loop on the left side of his belt. The slightly curved weapon was the perfect length and weight for him; not too long, and not too short. Enough to block a bastard sword, and quick enough to get under an enemy’s guard. Though in truth, Jeral usually preferred to pepper an enemy full of arrows first; nine-times-out-of-ten it worked.  Much easier to finish off a foe who resembled a hedgehog, rather than one that didn’t.
     The Tairen recruit also carried a bow of his own, though its draw-weight couldn’t have been more than forty pounds. Considerably less than any war bow Jeral and the other archers used. A hunting bow then. The boy turned, green eyes sparkling into a mischievous grin.
“Nice stuff you have over here.”
Jeral paused, closely studying the figure.
Ha.
     “Wouldn’t recommend one of the poleaxes. You wouldn’t be able to swing it, even if you were able to pick one up.”
He wasn’t really listening to his own conversation at that moment. The words flowing from his mouth was a practised distraction used to keep up the appearance of being engaged.
Well that explains it, he thought, as he looked at the boy ­– no wait – Girl, as she return to the rack and began testing the strings on a horse bow.  
The disguise had been convincing – too convincing. The trouser, tied hair and the waist length coat had all fooled to the illusion of an underdeveloped boy. Of course, as soon as she had opened her mouth, the game was all but out. The voice had been too obviously lowered, the tone distinctly feminine. Jeral was good at detecting lies – though he had not been expecting to use his talents for this purpose.
     She – the Tarien recruit, looked up after a few moments, and Jeral realised he had stopped talking; his stock packaged conversation having run out. Well balls, now she’s going to suspect that I know something.
He gave her a disarming smile. None of my flaming business if a woman wants in on the Band, his mind frantically raced. That flaming sore-toothed sow must have known this from the beginning! Set me right up, that old accursed fool!
    
“Anyway…” he continued, breaking the tense silence and saying the first things that came to his mind. “I like your hair.”
RAT BRAINED IDIOT. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

 

~ Jeral Ahan
Scout in the Band of the Red Hand 

Edited by Sherper
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“Anyway... I like your hair”, said the Corporal.

 

Fang dropped the short bow she had been holding. The weapon had looked easy to handle, but it was nothing like the bow she had been carrying so far. The size were almost the same but the pull was different. I need to exercise a lot if I want to be good at shooting with it, was what she had been thinking when the young man had spoken about her hair. Fang pertified. She was there, in an empty room, full of weapons and she was discovered it seems. Fast images came to her to disappear in a Flash: her father who could have sent words of her even here in the Citadel, the old soldier she had met a couple of minutes ago who had looked like he had known something about her, the man drinking near the tavern - how could a soldier be drinking when there were surely more interesting things to do like training, her missing dagger.

 

The Corporal tried to smile, surely it was to make her believe she was safe. As he tried to step towards her, Fang grabbed the dagger that had caught her eye with her right hand and the dagger that was hanging at her belt with the left. It had been a good thing to keep as many daggers around. She still had one in her left boot and another hidden somewhere safe. Jeral had barely the time to move when the girl rushed at him with both weapons.

 

'You won't get me", she said as she tried to slash at him with her right then with her left hand. Flaming goat, this man is quick.

 

As she had expected it, the soldier had grabbed his own weapon. A short sword. She grinned. It would  be easy to use one of her dagger for the defense and the other to attack.

 

"I don't mean any harm". Jeral tried to keep a table between them.

 

"Do you think that I will fall into your trap?". Keeping a eye on her opponent, Fang tried to cool down. She needed to think. If her father had tried something with the Band, she would need to be careful. That Tairan was maybe not the only one who'd try to stop her.

 

"What did my father promise? Was it gold, women, an estate in Tear?"

 

"Your...what...". The soldier stuttered. He tried to get futher away in the room. Probably too get some kind of reinforcement, thought the girl.

"I don't know what you are talking about".

 

Fang spat on the ground. The man sounded sincere. But her father had reach.

"You flaming know well what i am talking about. Don't think that because I am a girl, I can't fight".

"How many people know about me?"

 

The soldier shook his head. He tried to repeat again that he had no idea about what was happening. Indeed he had noticed she was a girl but that was about it.

 

Stepping back, she fastly placed  her left foot on the edge of the table, putting all her weight into it she toppled the table on its side, towards Jeral.

 

 

 

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The table crashed towards him and Jeral was only just able to roll out of the way in time. Panting, he regained his footing and stared across the room at the girl. Light blind him, but he was in this situation yet again.
“For the thousandth time Lass, I’m not trying to hurt you.” A single throwing dagger zipped through the air towards him and imbedded itself in the overturned table. The other Tairen had moved over towards the weapons rack and was throwing daggers as fast as she could pull them down. His curved hunting knife rested at the centre of his right palm, but he didn’t really intend to use it. He couldn’t hurt this young woman – Edward would surely would have his skin for soup if he did.  
     “I don’t know who your father is.” THUNK. “And honestly I don’t really care.” Another loud clank signalled two more throwing daggers being hurled in Jeral’s direction. He had to find a way to disarm this woman without doing any damage to her – no permanent damage anyway. The daggers had stopped for the moment; she must be conserving her ammo. How long did she think she could keep this up? The quartermaster certainly won’t be pleased when he returned. The small room was now littered with scattered debris; books, overturned ledgers and fallen pieces of armour.
Why the hell was he thinking about the Quartermaster at a time like this? Blood and Ashes, there was a crazy woman just on the other size of the room who thirsted for nothing else but his blood. He needed a way out.  
     Using his right hind leg as an anchor, he heaved the table across the length of the floor. The wood was relatively light, so it was easy to push, and it acted as a makeshift shield – separating Jeral from direct line of sight. The girl let out a gasp of surprise as the table suddenly rushed towards her. She dodged out of the way; her reaction was good, but Jeral hadn’t been counting on the thing ramming into her. Still holding his own knife, he swung it at the girl’s right hand. She instinctively blocked, but the force of the blow – plus the sideways angle – made the weapon fly out of her hand. Jeral had his opening.
     Without missing a beat, he pivoted on the girl’s now exposed side and twisted the hand that still held a knife, bring his short sword to sit across the length of her throat. “I really didn’t want to have to do this,” he said, panting slightly from the exertion and the adrenaline. “But please stop struggling, and especially stop trying to grab that dagger I know you have in your boot.”

 

~ Jeral Ahan
Scout in the Band of the Red Hand

Edited by Sherper
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“Stop trying to grab that dagger you have into your boot” said the Corporal and Fang grinned. Just as she had been asked, she stopped stretching her left arm and put her left foot back on the ground.

 

“I see you have a keen eye”, she replied after having cleared her throat. She needed to think, fast, she needed a way out. In the worst case scenario, this man had indeed made some kind of agreement with her father and would try to make her go nicely to a room where she’d be locked for a couple of days, waiting for a journey to be arranged back to Tear. The man was fast, had spotted where one of her hidden weapon was. It would be hard to escape but it was still doable as long as no one would appear too soon. On another hand, she may have been wrong. The soldier could have said the truth about not knowing what she was talking about. Why this flaming comment about my hair, then ?

 

The blade was still at her throat but Jeral’s eyes seemed to be pleading for her to calm down. It was far from the greedy grin she would have expected. Dang, he must have told me the truth… and I have made a fool of myself. No, it can’t be! He is a Tairan he must know about my father. Fang’s inner debate was interrupted by the soldier. “Now, tell me what this is all about. The Quartermaster will surely not appreciate what you have done here unless there’s a good reason… a very good reason”.

 

The Corporal looked a bit less tensed now, he had changed the position of his feet and his arms seemed to be a bit more supple. But Fang knew that he had only set himself in a more comfortable position that will allow him to jump, run or kick depending on what would be useful. Ready for anything, huh? she thought.

 

The girl’s eyes swept the room as she licked her lip. It was messy indeed … she felt her cheeks turning pink but decided that it was the time to show herself tough. Unfortunately forbidding herself to blush had usually the opposite effect. If need be she’d tidy up the room herself and scrub the floor during hours.  After all her first goal had been to be accepted in the Band, not impersonate a crazy hurricane. No one needed to know that right now, though. Sighing, she fixed her eyes on the man. Of course, the flaming man is a soldier and not an actor. He would not lose his time asking me what the matter is if he knew about me. He’d grabbed me and lock me up before I’d have the time to say “dagger”.

 

“I come from Tear and my father is after me. No one is supposed to know, and I didn’t tell a thing about it to that older guy at the entrance. For him, I am an orphan and that is how it is supposed to be for everyone”. Fang checked at the blade. It was still there near her throat but Jeral had taken it a bit further away showing that he wanted more information than what she had offered so far. Rolling her eyes, she gave him a small summary of what had happened to her in Tear. The truth would be her way to give an excuse, she had decided. She didn’t speak much, only a couple of sentences but it would be enough for him to understand why she had attacked.  “I didn’t commit any crime. He wants me as a precious doll he can show off and I am not a doll”, she concluded.

 

Hearing a chuckle, Fang tensed. Is he laughing at me? Would I be free to move, I’d surely have …

 

Jeral lowered his weapon. And Fang stepped back astonished, waiting for a reaction. Either she’d have to flee, either she’d have to give some kind of excuses.

 

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Sheathing his knife back into its belt loop, Jeral gave the girl Fang a bemused look.
“Flames, woman. You’re telling me you tried to cut my head off just because you’re afraid we might send you back to your father?”
Fang slowly nodded, looking for once sheepish at what she had done.
“Well be assured, no-one is going to do any such thing. You’re probably older than half the recruits that come here, and obvious capable of handling yourself – judging from the state you’ve left this room.” He chuckled, looking around once again at the bits and bobble lying around.
     “As for your backstory, I guess I won’t pressure you to telling me more if you don’t want to. And I’ll keep your secret, so long as you promise not to bite anymore. Also,” he continued, heaving with both hands to lift the overturned table back into place. “You can stop pretending to be a man, you’re just not good at it.”
Again, Fang seemed embarrassed by Jeral’s comments. For a person who had the will and instincts to stab and ask questions later, she certainly did blush a lot. He shook his head to clear it. He never had been very good with women in the first place.
     “I’m uhhh… also sorry about the comment about your hair.” He said. Now he was blushing! “It’s just that…” What should he say? That he had never been in relation with a woman before? That there had never been a time when he felt himself in control around anyone of the opposite gender? Stop it, he scolded himself. You’re drifting again. He didn’t have trouble talking to her when he still thought her a boy, why did he find himself tongue tied now? He cleared his throat.
Fang raised an eyebrow, and Jeral felt himself shifting uncomfortably on the spot.
“What I’m trying to say is…” he tried pushing on. Is that uhhh… well, I’m just not very good at all this.”
He felt foolish. An idiot again. Surely this Fang person will simply fall over laughing at him. He probably deserved it anyway.

 

~ Jeral Ahan
Scout in the Band of the Red Hand


 

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“Well, if I am that bad at acting like a guy, I guess that I will need to practice a lot to be able to defend myself and do things like that trick of yours, with that knife”, Fang said with a grin, pointing with her chin towards Jeral’s weapon. The soldier fastly moved his eyes in the direction of his belt loop, seeming to check whether his weapon was still there or not, then grinned back, hoping, she would say, that this would lead toward a more comfortable topic of conversation.

 

This day is full of surprises, a soldier, blushing? Better to show him that I can do as if nothing has happened, and maybe he’ll forgive my outburst ? Fang stepped towards the daggers she had thrown at the soldier a couple of minutes ago, trying to look tough, just like she had done so many times since leaving her birth place. Some weapons were planted in the wooden furniture at the back of the room, others were on the floor. If he isn’t used to be around girls, I am surely not used to be around soldiers. But, he’s not supposed to know that, is he? Grabbing one weapon after the other she went on. “I only know how to fight with daggers, I am good at close ranged combats. But I want to train and be more effective”. She put the first load of daggers back were they had been and went back to get the others. “I am bad with a bow, and I surely don’t have the muscles to handle a broadsword”. Another load of daggers went into place and she turned towards Jeral. But, seeing his now amused face, she turned quickly her back to him. Now I am being to talkative. Silly girl that I am. If I go on like this he’ll find a pink gambeson for me to wear…

 

Taking a short sword, she juggled a couple of times with it, showing off a couple of moves she had learned with the orphans back in Tear. This would look impressive enough, she hoped. Putting the sword aside, she tried to gather the last things that were lying on the ground. I really hope I will manage to tidy this room a bit before the arrival of the Quartermaster.

 

“Also don’t give me an axe nor a hammer, those are not my kind of weapon at all”, she fastly added while grabbing a couple more things.

 

Fang wanted to look at the Corporal again, to check what he was thinking. But she didn't dare to do it too soon. She needed to act like a serious woman, a very good asset for the Band, not a refugee craving for approval. So, silently she put the last things laying on the ground were they belonged. By chance nothing looked broken, ... or too broken.

 

Not knowing what she could add to the conversation, she brushed her trousers with one hand and adjusted her coat. " So Corporal, sorry for this bad start", she said, tightening her ponytail. "What are the weapons  i am allowed to wield?"

Edited by Hayl3y
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Jeral smiled at the newcomer. He visibly relaxed, glad now that the subject had turned to areas he was more comfortable with.
“You’re allowed to wield? Lass, you’re allowed to wield whatever the hell you want. Though, if you were asking for a suggestion, I’d stick away from anything that weighs just about as much as you.” He stopped leaning his foot against the back wall, and sauntered towards the girl and the weapons rack. “Oh, and you can stop trying to clean the room up, I might need it in a second for… something else.” A little revenge for someone who hasn’t paid Jeral his money back.
     He went up to the weapons rack and pulled down a selection of weapons and laid them on the now once more upright table.
“Daggers are fine for throwing,” he explained, pointing a pair of diamond shaped weapons with little red ribbons attached to the end of them, “but they’re practically useless when going up against someone with a pole-arm or sword. You might try and cut into the person’s blindside – if you’re quick.” He gave the girl a look, entailing that wasn’t always possible. “And not to mention risky if you ever try it against multiple opponents.”
     He picked up one of the smaller side swords. “Now this is something which you might find useful.” The weapon wasn’t curved like Jerals, but its guard enveloped the front portion of the wielder’s knuckle – an effective tool in case one needed to backhand someone. “This you could use to block, and notice the edging along its side? Those are used to catch and hold the edge of a broadsword.” He threw the weapon towards the new recruit and she caught it, then weighed it experimentally in her hand.
     “But as with anything, a good battle plan is a safe battle plan.” He hefted one of the full war bows on the rack and handed it to the girl. “Try and draw that, use one of the arrows if that helps you pull.”
She did as she was told, and as Jeral suspected, only managed a wobbly half-draw. “Not bad, you’ll probably want to eventually be able to pull one of those. I’ve seen one of the older archers fire off eight arrows in under a minute and put an entire squad of heavy cavalry to route before they even managed to reach him.” The girl sounded impressed, though Jeral knew he himself was still a long way from that goal.
     “Anyway, for now you can start with something a bit easier to handle.”
He picked up one of the other bows.
“This is a recurve shoulder bow. Some of the cavalry scouts use it whilst on horseback, but it can also be quite useful for firing on the run.” He let her test the weight, the pull and the feel of the strings for the moment.
“Well, take your pick, I’ll still be here if you need me. I just need to do something to shift the blame on someone else.”  
     Rummaging around inside his pockets, he found a pair of loaded dice and haphazardly placed them in a corner of the room. It wasn’t so obvious, and whoever searches the room later would surely find it eventually. Yes, Jeral decided, that should be sufficient punishment for that old drunk.

 

~ Jeral Ahan
Scout in the Band of the Red Hand.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Weapons with red ribbons, really ? Fang rolled her eyes thinking that she must look like a very girly girl to make Jeral point at those. On another hand, red was a nice color, and the ribbons were not that big. Maybe, she would enjoy playing with such a nice pair of daggers, but not too openly. She would never manage to look tough with "toys" like that, not unless she'd have a huge killing record to show off with.

 

The next weapon, picked up by the Corporal, looked more interesting for now. The small thin sword had indeed a nice handguard : it looked dangerous and elegant at the same time. For a while, Fang lost herself into Jeral's explanations of how the weapon could be used to backhand someone, or to the catch the edge of an opponent's weapon. Its weight and balance were perfect. Could it have come from unfamous Ebou Dar? As soon as the sword was handed to her, she tried a couple of moves, imagining herself wielding it alone, then with a dagger in her left hand. This is definitely a winner. I can see myself fending off some foes with that one.

 

"Thanks, this one looks perfect!" she replied with a grin and little stars shining in her eyes.

 

Ready to be on her way out, she was suprised when she heard Jeral next words. His raised eyebrow announced her clearly that she was not done yet.

 

 “But as with anything, a good battle plan is a safe battle plan." Handing her a bow, he asked her to draw it. Looking at her feet, Fang sighed. She knew she wouldn't be able to draw it completely. She was bad at archery and surely she would be miserable with a war bow. Supressing the urge of ranting about this being very useless, she grabbed the weapon and tried to draw it once, then twice, then a third time. As expected, she didn't manage to do better than a half-draw. To her suprise, Jeral didn't laugh at her, with a very serious voice, he just insisted on how she should practice with it. This man is suprising... would i be him, i would surely have laughed at myself.

 

“Anyway, for now you can start with something a bit easier to handle”, Jeral added.

Another bow was handed to her, a recurve bow, used by scouts it seemed. Even if this one was supposed to be used on horse back, it looked like something she could train with quite easily. She immediately managed to draw it fully, probably thanks to all the frustration she had from her failed experience with the war bow.

 

"I think i can use this one", she announced proudly. "I'll head to the training grounds for a bit, I think i need to exercise a bit". Jeral smiled and told her he'd be around if she would need help.

"Oh, thanks, i'll manage i am sure. I just hope to find myself a place to sleep tonight but we have a lot of spare day light for that, haven't we ? ".

 

Grabbing the sword and the recurve bow, Fang turned towards Jeral. "Thanks, again". She winked at him and went toward to the door. As he was rummaging inside his pockets she still grabbed the red ribboned daggers and left with a smile. The Band could become her new home after all.

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