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Luck, Armour and a feeling of belonging
Sat Dec 30, 2006 14:00 (XFF:

Just a couple of minutes later Crael was thanking the Light for the training back in the lancers that allowed him to get the barding on Brutus and everything else he needed done so fast or he would never have been able to make it to the meeting in time. Kaleb had been a great help even though he spent a lot of time saying how it had been a long time since he had put barding on a horse, Brutus himself hadn’t made it any easier by attempting to bite Kaleb as soon as the other Shienaran had got within range. Luckily Kaleb’s mount was of a similar temperament so he was half expecting it and managed to pull away before losing a finger or two.

Crael and Kaleb pulled their mounts up sharp as they all but galloped the two horses into the square where there was already quite a gathering of trainees ready to be taken to Podian. The Gaidin taking them was the same one who had commented on Crael’s wish to train in armour and he raised an eyebrow at the sight of the steel armour on his horse as well as its rider. He nodded to himself slightly after a quick count of those before him before turning his own mount and setting off and a light canter out of the camp and down the road towards the walled town of Podian.

The wind in his hair and on his face and the fresh smell of winter served to wake the young shienaran, and invigorate him enough to try some of the tricks he had seen light Saldaen cavalry doing the last time he had been there. He wanted to be the best he possible could be with horses and using them as a weapon, he knew a lot about the Shienaran style of heavy cavalry, he had trained Brutus himself and was proud of the result, the big black stallion was as much a weapon as Crael was himself, his mother used to claim that the horse was likely the more intelligent of the two as well. That brought a smile to his face, but if I truly want to be the best with horses I possibly can I have to learn all the styles of mounted combat. His comrades in the lancers had thought it strange when, while they had been staying in Saldea he had watched their cavalry practicing and then had began to attempt some of the complicated manoeuvres himself on Brutus.

He grinned to himself as he turned in the saddle to see Kaleb close behind him, this’ll shock him! He leaned forward to Brutus’ ears and commanded the stallion to follow, I word that the horse would take to mean he had to follow the horse in front as if he was in a group of horse archers and his rider could not pay attention to the path ahead. Crael then slipped first his left then his right foot out of the stirrups before turning completely around in the saddle switching the sides that his legs were on to be sitting backwards in the saddle staring back at the gaping Kaleb. The other Shienaran’s jaw had dropped briefly before it split into a grin and a laugh as he realised that Crael had moved on purpose and not by some strange accident.

Crael grinned again as he reached behind himself to take hold of the front of his saddle before leaping from it completely still holding on to the pommel as he ran alongside Brutus for a couple of seconds before leaping back into the saddle, landing perfectly balanced with both feet in the proper stirrups. He turned back to Kaleb and yelled, “first time I’ve ever tried that in armour!” This time Kaleb’s jaw did drop and stay that way as he shook his head in disbelief. Crael laughed again at the look on his face as he turned to face the direction that Brutus was travelling, once more guiding the big black stallion with his knees.

A short ride through frost covered countryside ended as the fifteen foot walls of Podian came into view. Crael pulled Brutus up, slowing the steady gallop that the stallion had been at for the past twenty minutes or so, the riders in front were already the same and Crael didn’t want the larger horse barging his way through other trainees who weren’t too sure of their riding capabilities. Brutus snorted heavily to show his displeasure, I need to work this energy out of you more often, getting bored and fat in the stables!

Crael looked at the walls of the town as he and the other trainees rode through the south gate, it was a habit of those who often relied on thick walls for safety in times of Trolloc raids and one that he didn’t think would fade after only just over half a year away from the borderlands. The walls looked thick and well made, just as he remembered them to be. A smile crossed his face as soon as he was fully inside the bustling town as he heard the sound of metal on metal that was so distinctive, somewhere nearby was a smith’s workshop and if he remembered correctly the man who worked in it making everything from ploughs to axes was Shienaran.

After brief instruction from the Gaidin leading the party as to when and where to meet the trainees and their guardians split up, Kaleb tied his mount to the post outside the nearest inn as he ventured inside to learn what news he could of home, Crael on the other hand was lead directly to the smithy by the sounds and as he got closer the smells and heat. Turning a last corner he smiled to see an obviously top-knotted head bowed over an anvil and forge. As if sensing the glance the man looked up and smiled himself as he saw another Shienaran, or perhaps he was simply smiling at seeing a horse in barding that he may get paid to repair.

Crael quickly dismounted and commanded Brutus to hold as there was no nearby post for him to be tethered by, the command would do just as well as Brutus had been well trained and he didn’t fear anyone doing the large stallion harm or trying to steal him, one because he knew the people of Podian from his last visit and two because anyone would-be thief would get the their fingers bitten off or worse. Once out of the saddle Crael strode over to the blacksmith clinking metallically all the way as his chain hauberk moved, the young Shienaran then bowed with a fist to his smart still smiling, “Peace favour your sword by friend, I was hoping to find you still here, I have a commission for you that needs to be completed by midday to today!”

The man bowed also although a little stiffly and Crael noticed a slight stiffness to all the man’s movement and assumes for unfortunately among warriors in the borderlands it is a fair assumption that the man had been injured in some past battle with shadowspawn making it impossible for him to continue as a soldier. “Peace friend, let me guess; by the state of your armour I’d say you’re an ex-lancer, I say ex as my wife has already be going at me with the gossip about all of those from Tower and the Aes Sedai camped down the road and as you’ve just a rode in by the look of you with the rest of them you must be one of them, also you have no crest for your shield and there are no lancer units stationed near here as far as I know.” He paused slightly and his mouth quirked as he looked Brutus over where he stood before looking Crael himself up and down. “The commission you speak of I’m guessing will be to replace the armour that you’re missing, a shield, breast-plate, helmet, greaves, boots and arm and shoulder scale.” The man raised an eyebrow at Crael the smile now splitting his face, “Am I right?”

Crael had to shake his head as the friendly smith had got it exactly right, “Perfect friend, on my honour you have guessed me right as well, is there any chance that you could get all that done by midday sun today.” Crael pulled his steel gloves off, quickly thrusting them in his belt as he then pulled his money pouch off of it opening it and showing the smith the contents, “I can pay any price you ask including extra if you need recompense for being late on other works.” The smith then reaches out with his spark marked hands and took the leather pouch from Crael hands, he then counted out a fraction of the cost that Crael had marked to be spent on this commission.

“This will be fine I would not take more on my honour as you see it will not be such a hard a job as you had obviously expected it to be…” There’s something I don’t know here, a pleasant surprise. Light I am lucky to find a shienaran armourer this far from Sheinar! The older man then walked to the back of his workshop beckoning Crael to follow with one hand, and follow Crael did as the man lead him to an armour stand that was covered with a white cloth. The smith stood next to it as he watched the excitement spread across Crael’s face as he suddenly pulled the cloth back to reveal a complete set of Shienaran full plate armour of a quality and style that Crael had never seen before. “…I just finished making this before the lancer who commissioned it was killed in a battle not far north of here, I kept it in case another fellow Shienaran might happen along looking for such a piece.”

Crael was in awe, instead of the usual breastplate that would be found in a suit of heavy Shienaran armour there as a scaled chest of overlapping heavy pieces of shining burnished steel, not fancy as would be found in many officers and nobles armour, no this was functional. The armouring for the legs and arms and shoulders was done in the same way, with scales of steel plate rather than a solid piece than would normally be found. The helmet was barred over the face just like would be found in a normal Shienaran set and the shield balanced against it was long but well shaped to worn on the arm while riding, with straps for the arm to hold it in place without needing a hand. “How did you design this…I’ve never seen a suit like this.”

The smith grinned again, “It’s a hybrid suit, the sergeant that it was made for had just returned from Saldea and while he was there he studied the way they fought from horseback, light cavalry you understand my friend, they can’t fight so in heavy armour exactly like we do so they wear mail with this sort of scaled breastplate but only the mail at the arms and legs. He thought that after learning their way of mounted combat that they could still fight with this style even with more armour if they used the scale style that they have with their breastplates and extended it to the shoulders, arms and legs. We sat and planned how this would be done many nights together, and after many mistakes and redrafts, this…” He lifted his arm to gesture to the magnificent piece of amour sitting on its wooden stand, “…was the result. The scaling of the steel on means that you have much greater freedom of movement even on horseback while maintaining if not increasing the amount of protection that you would get from a standard set of Shienaran heavy armour.”

“Tai’ Shar Shienar.” The armourer bowed again, “I am honoured that you would let me have this for such a small fee, I can think of nothing that I can do to pay back such a great favour.” He took up the shield, “if you can fit this suit to me before midday could ask you one more favour.” The genius of a smith smiled and nodded in an obvious gesture saying that if it is within my power I would be happy to. Crael strode back to Brutus and pulled out the streamer that had been tied to his lance as they left Tar Valon with the Flame of Tar Valon emblazoned on it. The young Shienaran brought it back to the smith handing it to him, “Could you put these colours on the shield?”

The smith nodded, reaching up to clap Crael on the shoulder with a powerful hand, “now there’s something I can do, you’ll have a crest once more my friend and fight the Shadow in a different way from your old comrades but no less hard.”

As the midday sun rose over the slanted roofs of Podian Crael stepped out of the armourer’s workshop wearing the unique, surprisingly comfortable and light armour. He had left his old armour, mail hauberk and all with the kindly older man, he had learned over the hours that he had stood as minor adjustments had been made that the man had once be a lancer himself, one of the King’s own out of Fal Moran and he’d be injured by a Trolloc while fighting at Tarwain’s Gap. Crael had understood and had left a larger proportion of his gold hidden in the mail hauberk that he had left. The skilled blacksmith had also chuckled as Crael tried to hide the knives that he had hidden on him as he had changed, he smiled all the time as he sewed leather sheaths for those daggers into the armour itself in easy reach of the wearer, but out of reach and sight of casual observers.

He was surprised at how easy his movement was despite, wearing a much larger amount of armour out of the shop than he had worn in his movement was almost as easy as if he wasn’t wearing any. With a grin he leapt back into Brutus’ saddle and turned the patient horse back towards the south gate that he and the other trainees had entered through. He arrived just in time, as the last trainee but him joined the throng just inside the gate. Crael pulled Brutus up next to Kaleb who was talking to the Gaidin and he glanced around, as did the Gaidin, both of the men’s eyes widened as they took in the new armour, while Kaleb’s spent longer on the main body of the armour while the Gaidin’s quickly took it all in, his eyes lingering on the shield now glaring emblazoned with the flame of Tar Valon with black highlights courtesy of the smith’s wife and lacquering paint. The Gaidin looked up again and caught Crael’s eye as he nodded, wholly seriously to Crael, a sign of approval that Crael had been hoping and praying that he would get.

The swift ride back gave Crael the perfect opportunity to try the armour out in the saddle and it certainly passed the test and more. The ease with which he moved in the saddle astounded Crael, he tried the same manoeuvres that he had tried on the way to Podian and found that the armour made the movements smoother than he had ever managed them before. Crael grinned and decided to try something he hadn’t done before, quickly and smoothly he pulled both his legs up under him so he was squatting in the saddle before straightening his legs and standing in the saddle while Brutus cantered along underneath him. Crael dropped back into the saddle with a smile plastered on his face he still couldn’t believe his luck.

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    • Luck, Armour and a feeling of belonging — Crael Kantar, Sat Dec 30 14:00
      • Once more into the breach...Crael Kantar, Tue Jan 2 07:43
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