(514-07-28) - The Saxon Toll
Summary: Acwel and Heulwen are riding to Dinton when they are confronted by survivors from the Saxon attack.
Date: July 28th, 514
Related: None.
acwel heulwen 

Even days after the attack on Sarum, even weeks, there are still Saxons in the wilderness between manors. Which is good enough reason to travel the roads in small groups and with armor on — if one is a knight that is. There is just a touch of rain scudding over the terrain, that warm summer rain, although the little shower has gone by now, leaving a slightly damp, sunny day.

Which is why Acwel has offered to escort Heulwen to her home, clad in his armor and wearing a black traveler's coat rather than the tabard he usually dons when in duty on behalf of the Earl. The knight's steed is on a steady march rather than the usual gallop at which it travels, the wetness of the terrain not lending itself to much speed over control; horses are expensive and the Woodford is rather fond of his stallion charger, after all. Every once in awhile, he slows his horse a little to ensure that his betrothed is following.

Ffionn has managed to keep apace with the charger, although the dainty mare is demonstrating her disgust with the state of the mud as her hooves draw up out of the mud with a faint squelching sound. For the most part her rider is in a better state, Heulwen having thrown back the folds of her pale blue, lightweight summer cloak to try and catch the faintest breeze after the rain. Nary a gust stirs the branches of trees and grass, however, offering no reprieve for the knight and his lady.

"Oh, I hate the fact that there is never any wind when the rain passes," the lady laments, using a fold of cloth to dab at the line of perspiration on her brow with one hand while the other clutches the reins of her horse carefully. She fans herself frantically, red-cheeked, and exhales audibly. "It is always so damp and uncomfortable. How ever do you manage in so many layers, Sir Acwel? You must feel as if you are swimming through the very air itself."

"When we are squires, my Heulwen, we tend to wear padded shirts or boiled leather all too often; one might say that it becomes second nature about the time you earn your spurs, as Summer is the season for battle. By comparison, one almost becomes glad with the arrival of Fall, if they are still fighting." the Woodford remarks as he turns to regard Heulwen for a moment; though she can't see his face through the metal of the helmet, his lips curve in amusement at the sight of her red-cheeked and fanning herself and dabbing at her brow with the cloth. He is not immune to sweating under such weather, either, the sting of a droplet that finds home in his eye felt, and prompting him to blink very briefly as he looks forward to the road.

His horse, Saint, does not seem to mind the mud that much, in contrast to the Lady's dainty, delicate mare. His pure white color is marred by the reds and browns of mud and clay, and it seems almost purposeful on the part of the mount to tread in such ground forcefully.

The worst of things are not sudden. They trickle into place, one little tumble at a time. In this case, the first sign is a flight of birds from a copse of trees ahead. Grouse or something else like that, the quartet of birds bursting free well ahead of the riders.

"I could not even begin to imagine," Heulwen replies with some asperity, lips pursed as she shakes back the draping sleeves of her bliaut to bare the white skin of her forearms to the harsh glare of the sun. It is of the faintest relief, and she sighs quietly and resumes fanning herself for a moment or two before the flight of the birds causes her poor horse to startle. It is a lucky thing that her mare does not bear the name of Saint, for a saint she is not; Ffionn jerks in response to the sudden harshness of squawking and movement, shying and squealing beneath her rider.

Heulwen curses and tugs forcefully on the reins, bringing Ffionn around in a tight circle as she pulls the mare's head to one side in a sign of domination. "Oh, you fool beast," she hisses. "Sir Acwel! Your help, please!"

"It is really not as difficult as it sounds," the knight comments to Wennie's reply, casting a look to her before he turns his head at the sudden flight of birds, then back when he hears Ffion's squealing. Quick on his saddle, he wheels Saint around just as Heulwen starts to try and keep Ffionn under control, letting his horse ride closer to the Lady's in order to reach out and grab at the reins, to steady the mare, while pulling hard on Saint's so that the charger's superior strength compared to the other steed allows to placate her or otherwise put a stop to her motions.

"Quiet, Ffionn!" He whispers, bearing Saint to wheel around once again and force the mare to tread along in an attempt to overpower her, afterwards. His attention, once she is calmed down, returns to the copse from where the blasted birds departed.

You check your awareness at 10, you rolled 7.

The second sign is that the movement in the copse of trees does not stop when the birds burst free. Brush continues to shake, there's a buzz of noise that almost sounds like voices, although the language… oh look, there's the third sign. Two hulking men push out of the brush, holding axes and shields. Their clothing is ragged, one wearing a bloodied cloth wrapped around his temples and the other limping slightly and with further cloth wrapped around his leg. They are both big, they are both blonde, and have their hair and beards braided.

Another foul word flies out of Heulwen's mouth at the sight of the bedraggled Saxons - for they are so clearly Saxons, injured and separated from their companions as they may be; one would think a lady wholly unaccustomed to the use of such language. Her heart leaps into her throat and she gurgles some wordless note of warning to Acwel before she wheels Ffionn about again to drive her horse well back behind his. She is hardly the heroine, unarmored and with only a utility knife on her belt. She gazes about madly, judging the distance between here and Sarum, here and home, and whether or not a mad dash for her own safety may be worth more than sticking around to see this skirmish through to the bloody end.

Oh, no. The Salisbury knight's sword is drawn with a metallic hiss at the sight of the Saxons, taking in a deep breath. Acwel looks to Heulwen, and that gaze takes on an ever more alarmed cast; it seems that he's content with laying down his life, but his love's? Not a chance. The shield arm is kept closer to him, Ffionn's reins let go of. He nods to Wennie's word of warning, though he remains silent for a moment, readying to take battle to the Saxons. "If they engage, I want you to ride the other way. I will protect your escape."

Oh, no. The Salisbury knight's sword is drawn with a metallic hiss at the sight of the Saxons, taking in a deep breath. Acwel looks to Heulwen, and that gaze takes on an ever more alarmed cast; it seems that he's content with laying down his life, but his love's? Not a chance. The shield arm is kept closer to him, Ffionn's reins let go of. He nods to Wennie's word of warning, though he remains silent for a moment, readying to take battle to the Saxons. "If they engage, I want you to ride the other way. I will protect your escape."

The Saxons are between the two riders and their destination, but the way back toward Sarum is still free. The two men look at one another, sharing a few rumbling words in their own language, and then they start toward the pair, the one with the leg wound limping straight toward the knight while the one with the head wound starts to circle out to the side, looking to put distance between himself and the knight so that he can get around him and toward the lady having trouble with her horse.
ooc Can I choose who to engage?

Critical Fail!
You check your sword at 15, you rolled 20. + 5 Mounted = Critical Success. Double damage.

Critical Fail!
Morlois makes a check for Legwound's Axe including mods at 9, he rolled 20.

Acwel rolls 10d6 and gets (3 2 4 1 1 3 1 5 3 5) for a total of: (28) - Saxon 1 Unconscious.

Critical Success!
Heulwen checked her horsemanship of 10, she rolled 10.

"If they engage?!" Heulwen inquires shrilly, tugging at the reins and trying desperately to keep herself ahorse as Ffionn prances beside Saint; the mare can tell something is amiss, although not quite what, but the rider is more intent upon the Saxon who is trying to intercept her potential way out. She gasps, seeing well that she may not be able to escape at all come what may, and decides that before Headwound can close the gap she is going to worm her way around to circumvent his escape.

The Dinton lets out a cry of triumph as Ffionn responds well to her nudge and leaps rather spectacularly over the road, wheels about, and backs up several paces to keep her out of reach but to effectively cut off the Saxon's escape instead. How do you like dem apples, huh?!

If that is so, then the Saxons will have their work cut out for them. The Knight of Woodford's sword cleaves at the Saxon that shoulder bone and muscle is cut into, a spray of blood covering his chainmail and helmt as he pulls the weapon out with the slightest nudge. Perhaps it wasn't a mortal blow, but it certainly renders the foe unconscious, and in serious risk of dying. That's all he can ask for. Acwel's feet dig into the flanks of Saint to propel him into a wild gallop as he raises his sword again, this time seeking to run through the last remaining foe; the one he certainly has a personal grudge over, considering his attempt to get at Heulwen.

Seeing that his betrothed is already a safe distance away does bring him relief, but not enough to forget the task at hand here, and so he swings the weapon.

You check your sword at 15, you rolled 4.

The Saxon with the leg wound stumbles at just the wrong moment, and as he comes swinging in with his axe, he leaves himself wide open for the blow from the Knight of Woodford. Blood sprays, and the Saxon makes a choked cry. Blood even makes it onto his lips, and then he falls with a thump. The Saxon with the headwound is out-paced by Ffionn, the man gasping out several curses in his own language. At the last moment, he turns back toward the knight coming hard behind him, raising axe and shield and beginning to bellow out a very tune-deaf song that sounds very angry.

Morlois makes a check for Headwound's Axe including Mods at 9, he rolled 8.

You check your horsemanship at 15, you rolled 3.

Ffionn is settled, but Heulwen not so much. Her features grow pale at the sight of the one wounded Saxon leaking blood into the roadway. She swallows and shifts in the saddle, causing her mare to dance a little bit, but her attention is drawn immediately to the remaining enemy fighting her betrothed who is still, God be praised, perched upon his horse. The sickening clang of metal and grunts of men locked in deathly combat do nothing to assuage her taut nerves, however, and she raises her hands to cover her eyes for a moment.
A miscalculation on his end ends up with the swish of a sword that strikes the thin air, and nothing else, while an axe is brought down upon him. The shield works to deflect the damage, somewhat, and he feels the impact against him nearly unsettle his control over his horse. Thankfully, Acwel is steady on horseback, and so when he wheels around, it is with a quick look to where Heulwen is before the sword is brought down on his opponent once again, with a shout. He will put down this Saxon.
You check your sword at 15, you rolled 3.

The Saxon with the head-wound ducks down low, letting the sword swing over his head. And then he rises up again, swinging his axe straight on into Acwel's middle, into the shield, and then the armor beyond. This causes him to bellow in triumph, even if the blow is only enough to raise a bruise behind the mail.

Morlois makes a check for Headwound's Axe including Mods at 9, he rolled 11.
droll 5d6
Acwel rolls 5d6 and gets (1 5 4 6 1) for a total of: (17)
Morlois makes a check for Headwound's Dex at 8, he rolled 17.

Ffion stamps the ground with a hoof, causing Heulwen to bobble in the saddle. She gasps and reaches down to clutch the reins she had so carelessly dropped in her absorption with the fight. She murmurs soothing words to the mare, glancing from Acwel still locked in combat with the Saxon to the road behind her leading into Sarum - still clear. Should something turn amiss, it will be easy enough to run for help.

"This is for Heulwen," The Knight of Woodford manages to snarl out as he makes a counter to the enemy's successful blow and the bruise he will no doubt feel in the future with a slash to the back's chest in an upward swing of his blade, wheeling around when the Saxon falls in order to strike him on his side. The next attack is a thrust to the man's throat, seeking to end this bloody business once and for all.

You check your sword at 15, you rolled 13.

The dirty, ragged Saxon cannot recover quickly enough from his bellowing roar, stepping forward to try and shove the horseman over by sheer brute strength — only to charge straight into an upward stroke of the sword. The man is already off-balance, and the headwound doesn't help. He goes spinning down to the ground, bleeding again from the slash, but immediately pushing himself back up, still fighting, but mostly just trying to stay alive at the moment.
Morlois makes a check for Headwound's Axe including Mods at 14, he rolled 2.

To Wennie, the battle looks all but won. Her shoulders slump in relief, and she slips down out of Ffionn's saddle with a gentle cluck to the mare. She lets the horse trot off to the side of the road to soothe herself by feasting on grass, leaving the young woman standing in the mud with her arms wrapped about herself in a tight hug. She dares not approach the presumably downed Saxons, at least not yet, but instead watches from a distance of several paces. For her, he is all but finished.

Acwel rolls 5d6 and gets (2 4 3 2 2) for a total of: (13)

The sword does land on the target, but it is not effective enough to go through the stoppage of shield and the Saxon's armor, so only a rivulet of blood is drawn from the Saxon. Acwel lifts the sword again, but this time he opts to bash at the enemy with his shield before sending his blade cleaving down at the Saxon, drawing in a breath as he does so, perhaps to steady his hand.
You check your sword at 15, you rolled 4.

The Saxon gets his shield up this time, working to simply keep himself alive as he gains his feet again, but blood stains his neck now, as well as his torso and the bandages on his head. Shouting something in his own language, he throws himself at the knight again, because there's no way to get out of things easily at this point.

Morlois makes a check for Headwound's Axe including Mods at 9, he rolled 17.
Acwel rolls 5d6 and gets (2 6 2 5 3) for a total of: (18)
Critical Success!
You check your merciful at 13, you rolled 13.

Finally, it appears that the Saxon is felled by Acwel's blade, as it hits the man too close to where his neck and shoulder meet, eliciting another spray of blood when the broadsword sinks into skin, past flesh, only to be slid away once again. But the Woodford will spare this Saxon of a slow, painful death of pestilence. The sword will descend again, in a coup de grace, before it is pulled away and the knight turns to his betrothed, wiping the edge of the blade against what remains clean of his enemy's clothes before he sheathes the blade. The other one, that went unconscious right away, he'll ignore for now. Heulwen's well-being comes first.

"Are you alright?" He asks, in a low tone.

"Yes," Heulwen replies rather abruptly to Acwel, gazing up at his bloodsplattered appearance with something akin to nausea. Her gaze shifts to the bloody bodies sprawled on the road beyond the mounted knight, and then behind her to the empty stretch leading into Sarum. Neither her manor nor the keep are quite visible from her vantage point, and she frowns deeply at this. Her hands rub over her arms and she looks up to Acwel once more. "Are you? I thought perhaps one of them wounded you. I'm not so great a healer as Lysie, but still…"

The Saxon falls under another swordblow, struggling to stay on his hands and knees and push himself up again — only to have the bloody blade fall once more and chop deeply into his neck. Even with the tall Saxon, however, it takes some leaning out of the saddle to cut to his neck again, and by the time he collapses, dead, his clothes are well out of reach. Still, one is dead, and the other is either dead or dying, and both the knight and the Lady are safe, for now.

"I am fine," the Knight replies, removing his helmet so he can better look at Heulwen. A droplet of sweat runs down the side of his face, though his expression is neutral. Acwel removes one of his chainmail gloves with the other hand, to place his hand against her cheek. "I wouldn't have let them hurt you. Them, or anyone else." Having said this, he slides his hand down and away in a caress and turns to regard what is beyond them. "I have a bruise, at most, but if you would like to look it over we can stop somewhere to do so."

Heulwen nods rather numbly, turning her back firmly on the Saxons and moving a few paces away so as to put even more distance between herself and them. A shudder of revulsion travels down her spine and she clasps her hands together tightly to keep herself from trembling to pieces. "Of-of course, I will look at it for you if you'd like. I d-don't suppose you have any wine with you? Or ale? I'm feeling a bit parched of a sudden, I think, and would not mind a drink before we resume the ride home." Her fingers unwind slowly and she reaches out for Ffionn's trailing reins, although the mare seems content to munch away on some grass. "I really should get Thea to work with her some more. She does startle ever so easily."

Sometimes, Acwel travels with an ample supply of booze thanks to his wineskin. It helps, especially when someone is singing off-key the entire trip, as has been the case in several different occasions. He reaches back, into his traveling bag before producing the container, which sloshes a bit heavily with liquid. He follows Heulwen with her ride away from the dead or dying Saxons, and outstretches it towards her in an offer, his expression one of concern. He has never seen her stutter, but he understands a Lady is ill-prepared to seeing something as violent and bloody as the usual business of a knight. "You know, I heard of that cousin of yours, but I don't know if I've ever met her," he comments, off-hand, as though seeking to distract Wennie from what just happened.

Choosing not to mount Ffionn just yet, Heulwen instead leans against the content mare an accepts the offer the wineskin with something amounting to gratitude. The expression on her wan face is a fleeting smile as she uncorks the skin an sniffs, trying to determine its contents, but decides ultimately it doesn't really matter; she tips it back and chugs freely, and the contents dribble out from the corners of her mouth to trail down her cheeks and chin. She pulls it away from her mouth and gasps loudly for air before wiping her mouth clean with her sleeve and offering up the wineskin to Acwel. "My cousin? Oh, yes, Lady Lysanor is quite skilled. She has had quite a bit of practice, I imagined, and always volunteers her services whenever a tourney rolls through Sarum. She helps tend to those who work near the manor, too, should they be wounded. Heart of an angel, she."

Taking the wineskin, uncorking it and drinking a deep sip from the container, Acwel swallows slowly, letting the taste of the wine fill his lips before he offers it back to Heulwen, sliding a leg over the back of Saint and then landing onto the ground with a practiced gesture. Saint, after the particular bout of excitement, doesn't seem prompt to running off into the sunset just yet. So it is that the Knight, should Wen take the wineskin, approaches her, shedding the blood-stained cloak and wraps his arms around her in a tight embrace. "I know Lady Lysanor; we have traveled together a few times, which is how I got to know your cousins and your brother, for that matter," he does enjoy a friendship with the Dintons, after all, "I meant Lady Amalthea. Or have I met her?" He wonders.

"Oh, Thea," Heulwen murmurs, nonplussed, and she exhales audibly as Acwel surrounds her with a warm, tight hug. She melts into his arms and presses her face into his shoulder, relaxing and allowing the stress and worry to dissipate. "Thea is wonderful with horses," she replies, her voice muffled against his rather uncomfortable armor; awkward though their embrace may be, she does not seem to mind it so at this time. "She has a rare gift of speaking with the animals, and they seem quite keen to listen. She uses it well; she earned her position at court, in my opinion." The talk of other things does well to distract Wennie from the violent encounter, so much so that she can pull back from Acwel a bit and peer up at him curiously with only a lingering trace of distress in her eyes. "You've not seen her at court even the once?"

His arms lower a little, wrapped around the small of her back as they are, and Acwel kisses Heulwen's cheek with the slightest bowing down, closing his eyes as he feels her warmth against him. However the fight could have gone, or not, his heart certainly raced at the prospect of his lover being in danger; of losing her. He feels relieved now, even as he listens to her as she talks about her cousin, his bared hand, the one without the chain gloves, reaching up to caress her cheek as he considers her question. "I don't think I have, Wennie," he tests that nickname with a lopsided smile, his tone affectionate. "Then again, I suppose I should endeavor to know all of your cousins, now that they will be my kinsmen, too."

You check your flirting at 10, you rolled 2.
Heulwen rolls 1d3 and gets (3) for a total of: (3)
Heulwen rolls 3d6 and gets (6 4 3) for a total of: (13) - 13 base + 3 flirting + 2 glory + 6 life-saving = 19 Amor

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