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Once more into the breach...
Tue Jan 2, 2007 07:43 (XFF:

Crael was the one who was laughing now, the Gaidin who had suggested that he train in armour would have been pleased at Crael’s efforts, for the past two days he had done just that. Most of the training he had done had been from horseback as it was now. Crael sat in the saddle holding his horse bow with the quiver attached to the side of his saddle, I would practice horseback combat more at the Tower if I could but there isn’t quite enough space for everything I’d like to try. But here, Light I’ve got more space than I could ever ask for.

Crael had borrowed some spare archery butts that were beginning to look rather old anyway and as well as using them for their intended purpose, archery he had been using them as targets for lancing runs. As such many of them were now looking even more damaged than they had done to begin with. The borderlander set Brutus into a fast canter parallel to the targets as he knocked arrow after arrow before firing them at the nearest target, the majority hit their mark but at least three of the ten he attempted went just wide at which he shook his head in annoyance. Just as he wheeled Brutus for another pass shooting from the opposite side Kaleb rode up on his mount at full gallop and Crael was greatly surprised to see a steel axe at his belt as well as a broadsword at his back and a quiver tied to the saddle. The other Shienaran called out in haste to Crael who once again turned Brutus and squeezed his knees to force Brutus to gallop to the other youth’s side. “What has happened my friend, peace, you look fit to burst!”

“Trollocs are attacking Podian, we are to ride against them all of us.” He paused to get his breath back and order his thoughts, “We are allowed to take what weapons we can find from the armoury and join Jield Gaidin in the central square, and I knew you’d be alone up here so I came to find you.” Before he had finished Crael was already at the archery butts gathering his arrows, he would need all that he could take. Done he galloped back to the line he had created and took two lances that he had staked there in his grip, he beckoned for Kaleb to do the same.

Back in the camp it was organised bedlam with people running in all directions in a frantic scramble to get everything ready for battle. Crael stopped briefly at their tent to gather up the remainder of his knives which he now strapped openly to his new armour. He attached his war staff to his saddle and strapped his shield to his arm before turning and galloping Brutus to the armoury. Kaleb followed him all the while, knowing that while one lance would be effective in a charge, two together would do all the more damage.

At the armoury Crael complimented his already large supply of elicit weaponry with a one handed axe which he let hang from the strap on his breastplate that it was meant for and double handed broadsword which he strapped to his back so that the hilt came over his left shoulder. Finally he finished he turned and nodded grimly to Kaleb, “Suravye ninto manshima taishite” Kaleb grinned mirthlessly and bowed from the saddle as Crael followed suit. Before they both turned their mounts and headed for the already crowded centre of the camp.

At the central plaza most of those who would be involved in the ensuing battle were already present, Aes Sedai, Gaidin, Warders, Sei’Tar and many Aethan’Tar were all gathered around Jield Gaidin. There were weapons and armour of all sorts all over the place, the styles of combat from every land could be seen in varying degrees of abundance. The Gaidin were almost all wearing their fancloths looked deadly in the gracefulness of their movements and the Sei’Tar also managed close to that effortless deadliness. The Aethan’Tar came in varying levels of ability depending on how long they had been at the Tower and what experience if any they had of battle before this point. Crael had seen instances like this many times before joining the Tower, not so much as a more experienced warrior but enough to realise that the Light would have to give them every aid if none of their number were to die today.

Crael listened at Jield Gaidin’s instructions nodding and understanding the wise sentiments and tactics before he turned to see to his own readiness. They were now almost in sight of Podian’s walls and the sounds of battle were loud even at this distance, the clash of bodies and the metallic ringing of metal on metal, like a forge but all the more bloody and brutal. As the trainees and Gaidin formed a line to attack with Crael planted one of the lances he was carrying in the ground next to Brutus’ hooves and saw Kaleb doing the same on his left. If I can I’ll come around for another charge, far more effective with a lance than without. He checked the strap on his shield being sure that it was firmly fixed on his arm, any movement could mean a quick end to the battle for him as the charge could drive him on to a spear that had turned his shield.

Crael looked over the mass of Trollocs with eyes that had seen similar sights before and he appraised their chances critically. The reports he had heard looked to be right, he estimated two fists of Trollocs and fortunately for them no Fades that he could see. From this distance he could not tell what band the Trollocs belonged to but as his memory served him he believed that the majority of raids in this area at least the last time he had been stationed here had been by Ko’bal. He let his breath out all slowly, calming himself as he slowly assumed the void, feeding his hate of the shadowspawn, his fear of them, his anxiety over the lives of his friends and his panic the flame in his mind. The void formed and his mind floated in emptiness, immune to emotion or pain, solely concentrating at the task, the battle before him.

The young Shienaran hoisted the lance so that he held the grip in his right hand and the shaft balanced against his shoulder, he would lower it to point at a target once the charge had reached full speed. The horses in the line began to step forward and he carefully kept the line with Brutus, controlling his warhorse with his knees alone. The pace of the line increased and amazingly almost all of the trainees no matter their experience managed to hold the line, the Gaidin in the centre of the line began to form a flying wedge which would cut its way through the Trolloc horde by sheer force, alone on one of the wings and being the only two with lances Crael and Kaleb created their own formation together with Kaleb slightly behind Crael but keeping solid pace so that they would punch a small, concentrated hole through the Trollocs in front of them.

Both men had, by now lowered their lances and Crael looked for a target for his, the Trollocs had, by now heard the clamour of the charge behind them and those at the rear of the mass of shadowspawn were turning to face this new threat. Crael chose a wolf-muzzled Trolloc right in line with his current course, he turned briefly in the saddle to make sure that Kaleb had chosen the one to the left of his target so they would be most effective, the other man was smiling under his barred visor his target obvious and his lance held straight and true before his racing mount. Into the battle again, for the Light and for Tar Valon.

Silence reigned, as he had experienced before in the battles he had been in before leaving the lancers the whole world seemed to take a breath and a great stillness overpowered everything in that moment before the combatants met. He was up out of the saddle leaning into his lance to give it as much power as he could, the steel tip was directly aligned with the breast of the foul, man shaped monstrosity before him. Suddenly that moment of peace before the storm was gone and Brutus seemed to leap forwards, the stallion’s movement forcing the lance all the way through the Trolloc before him.

Seeing the lance hit its mark and the Trolloc already falling as Brutus’ forward momentum piled him through the Trolloc lines. He abandoned the lance throwing it aside as he drew the broadsword with his right hand, pulling it over his back while using his shield to deflect as many of blows aimed at him as he could. Once the great sword was free he began to swing it in powerful arcs towards any Trolloc that he saw as within his reach as he turned Brutus to go back for his second lance. There was no skill in his wielding of the blade, the weight of it doing damage enough to keep the Trollocs at bay for now even if it didn’t kill more than one outright and that being a lucky cut at a jugular. He perceived at that moment why he always had so much trouble with the thin blades that were the norm at the Tower, being used to using a broadsword in this manner he had attempted to learn the forms imagining that the practice sword that he was using had the same weight as the broadsword he was swinging now, no wonder he was always off balance with the lighter blade. All that stood between him and the quick gallop to gather his second lance were two Trollocs barring his path, he could hear Kaleb to his right and slightly behind him, laughing of all things so he would get no help from that quarter. Crael kicked Brutus forward aiming for the gap between the two looming creatures; he waited till he thought he had judged the distance right before, “Brutus, hooves front.” The warhorse reared up and his front, steel shod hooves crashed powerfully into the Trollocs in his way, knocking them to the ground and opening the space needed for both he and Kaleb to gallop back to where they had planted their spare lances.

He gathered up his quickly and waited for Kaleb to do the same before he kicked Brutus back to the gallop towards the raging battle before Podian’s walls. Crael spotted a group of Trollocs crowing round two trainees and a Gaidin, all three engaged heavily with only the Gaidin making any real dent in the numbers assaulting his small party. Crael instinctively turned Brutus towards this group, pointing out the target with his shield arm for Kaleb. Crael knew that he may not kill a significant number of Trollocs with his charge but if he did right, with Kaleb’s help he may knock enough of them down or injure them enough to allow the Gaidin and the two trainees with him to gain the upper hand.

Once again time slowed and Crael stood in the saddle as his lance seemed to accelerate through a Trolloc’s shoulder literally pinning it to the ground. “Brutus, shoulders.” The warhorse responded by using its mighty strength to bull into as many Trollocs as it could in its charge knocking many from their feet and Crael could hear the sound of bones snapping as they fell. The Gaidin despatched the nearest Trolloc to him and nodded grimly before gathering up his charges and turning once more to the fight. Crael turned Brutus back out of the main battle once more as he pulled his bow from its place on his saddle, Kaleb, having no bow rode at his side riding cover to his flanks as he shot arrow after arrow into the mass of Trollocs.

He was much closer to his targets now than he had been when practicing before and as such almost all of his shots hit their mark. Few did enough damage to kill the Trolloc at which he was aiming, but enough damage was done he hoped to make it an easier task of finishing them off for his comrades. Crael drew back his horse bow with his last arrow resting against his cheek as he sighted on a Trolloc that was just raising a wicked looking mace above an unsuspecting trainee’s head, smoothly the Shienaran released at the arrow took the beast through the throat and the trainee turned in shock as it collapsed behind him.

Crael quickly tied his bow back to his saddle alongside his shield as he redrew the broadsword from behind his back, this time wielding it two handed as he rode side by side with Kaleb hacking with all his strength at any Trolloc muzzle that came near him or Brutus. His arms began to ache with the strain of deflecting and giving blow after blow with the mighty steel sword but within the void he felt little and kept at his work with no emotion. Abruptly the sword became stuck in the chest of a massive beast, Crael tugged on it with all his might but he couldn’t pull it free, he was just about to release it in favour of the axes still at his belt with a Trolloc mace battered against his left arm where it still held the hilt of his sword. Though the pain was dulled through the void Crael registered the impact, unemotionally realising that the arm was broken, though on inspection the armour had held well, not even denting but the force of the blow had been enough to snap at least one of the bones in Crael’s lower arm.

He quickly released the sword and in one motion swept the axe from his belt on his right hip with his right arm and sunk it heavily into the mace carrying Trolloc in an underhand sweep. The Trolloc dropped the mace and tried to reach for him with its hands but Crael pulled a knife from his bandoleer with his broken arm and slowly gritting his teeth even through void drove the point through the Trolloc’s eye. The beast collapsed and Crael quickly strapped his shield back to his left arm which by now would be useless wielding a weapon but might still bare up holding his shield.

  • Luck, Armour and a feeling of belongingCrael Kantar, Sat Dec 30 14:00
    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... more
    • Once more into the breach... — Crael Kantar, Tue Jan 2 07:43
      • A brush with deathCrael Kantar, Tue Jan 2 08:47
        Crael battled on as the clash of arms around him seemed to drag on interminably, underneath his armour he was drenched with sweat and Brutus’ flanks were increasingly warm to the touch. The battle... more
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