(514-08-02) Unsafe Roads, Part 2
Summary: Claire and Drustan encounter the source of the reports on their patrol and find themselves in a spot of trouble.
Date: August 2nd, 514
Related: Dorset Border logs
claire drustan 

Note: In which Drustan-player runs his first combat and nearly kills his own character. It is not noted at the end of this (we faded with them heading to Ebble Keep), but a runner was sent to the Earl with word of Dorset Knights being at fault for the reports of harassment and attack at the border.

Morning comes bright and early for Knights as it is, but out in nature… it's even earlier. Dew clings heavily to all that they own and the sun manages to cut right through the trunks of trees; scattered rays landing across the individuals arrayed by the fire. Drustan had set his bedroll to be head-to-head with Claire, allowing them to speak into the night. And keep an eye on the squires at the opposite side of the fire. It's one of those rays that woke the Falt and in turn, he woke the squires and got them up, moving, and preparing for the morning.

Breakfast will be bread, cheese, and dried meat. Not terrible fare, but there's no need to stir up a fire for a full meal. The man has opted to allow Claire to sleep (or feign, if she's so chosen) while he reclines and studies the map, tracing out their chosen path for the patrol itself. There's a stifled yawn and murmured thanks as Cai sets down breakfast and a wineskin nearby the two Knights before returning to his morning chores.

The Squires, at least, are behaving after their talks with their respective Knights the night before. Both are dutifully working, rather than risk any ire by goofing off or chatting at one another.

If he's up and cooking? Damned right she's going to doze. He can order Ellee around and get her moving. After all, its something they are both going to have to get used to - ordering around each other's Squires. It will be a unique situation. Might as well let it trial run before banns are issued. She sleeps in and out a little more after staying up late whispering with Drustan. She doesn't stir until there is food laying next to her.

She rolls over to look at the bread, cheese, and meet. The roll she uses for a pillow is left as she props herself up and moves to sit. Like any Knight in the field, she sleeps clothed in case of mid-night attack. "Should I expect my betrothed to be the woman of the house and cook for me most mornings?" she teases with a low smile, reaching for the bread and meat to make a sandwich of it. "Not that I will complain, but I shall be remiss in some of my duties as wife. I cannot have others whispering that I neglect my husband," Claire says with that smile growing a bit more, relaxing while she eats.

Ordering the squires around is something that Drustan takes well in hand. It's just as easy to give instructions to one as it is to two. Both have already eaten and are already checking over armor, saddles, and their other morning duties. It will keep them occupied for a bit. As Claire stirs, Drustan looks over and flashes his teeth in a grin.

"I would suggest not getting used to it. I fear once I share a bed with you, I will be loathe to rise from it." There's a lean, pressing a kiss to her brow. He straightens after, reaching for some of the food himself. "I was awake and you looked peaceful. I saw no reason to disturb your rest before it was necessary."

Claire looks over at him with lidded eyes. "Are you implying we may do something untoward in our bed, Sir Drustan? Do not make me blush." She holds the gaze for a long moment with her own little smile. Even with the kiss. "Thank you. You are very kind, Sir Drustan. I'll try to remember that in the future." The woman looks him over with satisfaction before finishing her meal. Once done, she goes about rolling her own bedroll and tying it up within the leather to protect it from any rains. While the squires work, she gets herself all situated with her sword and other items she wears. Including a rather small dagger she tucks into the inside the belt of her right hip. It is no wonder it has not been seen before. But the handle is wrapped in staggered leather bands and the tang has a recurve for her hand between the handle and blade. This is no showpiece. "Ellee, I trust you finished both saddles?"

The girl looks over to Claire and nods once. "Yes, Sir Claire. Both saddles. I even wiped them down afterward." The girl looks tired enough to reflect the effort. Claire seems satisfied. Lesson learned.

Critical Success!
You check your Lustful at 7, you rolled 7.

Maybe it's the mention of their bed. Or the way she looks at him. Claire will be paused in tending to her bedroll for a moment by being drawn into a kiss. It's a long one and the way his hand slides into her hair is harkened by his own memories of their day in the clearing. Drustan cannot, for the moment, help himself. And perhaps he's not overly concerned of their squires seeing; the two teens must be aware by now and if not, it's as good a time as any.

When he releases Claire, the Falt looks a touch flustered himself. He leans away to start gathering up his own roll and nearby sword. There's definitely color to his features; he's thinking things that are not meant for mixed company. In fact, Claire is left to go over things with Ellee while Dru takes his sweet time in getting packed up. He needs a moment.

Claire checked her Lustful of 7, she rolled 5.

Claire was about to get to it… Then she's taken aback with it. In front of the- oh. She feels the hand in her hair and the passion with it and she melts into it, returning the kiss. Pressing herself to him for a moment, she cannot help herself and is left hanging as he departs her kiss. She sighs -heavily- as he moves off and watches him go, a mixture of frustration and desire. That was NOT fair. Shaking it off, she goes about her business with ordering Ellee around, taking out that frustration on her. Yep, sucks to be at the bottom of the food chain.

Had he not moved away, there was a great risk that the squires would have gotten much more than the sight of their knights kissing passionately. It does mean, at the very least, that there are those who can speak up should anyone deny that these two do, indeed, wish to be wed. Either may deny claims of a 'love match' at this juncture, but it may not be too far off the mark. There is desire, clear and true.

Cai is fortunate enough that Drustan isn't snapping at him. The man is just being firm and doing a lot of pointing and grunting rather than speaking. Things are packed up, steadily, and the two seem to be in discourse over what to pack with which horses. With the map in hand, the Falt finally turns to look towards Claire. "We could cover more ground without the pack horses. There may be some benefit in leaving someone here to watch the camp, while we make our patrol for the day. It depends how far we want to range, I believe."

Claire ensures Ellee is busy and behind her schedule. After a bit it becomes obvious she's just being an ass and laughs a bit before comforting the girl with a few whispered words. Stricken panic slowly leaves the Squire she she goes about getting Claire's horse ready at a more active and relaxed pace. There's something to be said about mistakes in a rush. Looking back to Drustan, she nods slowly. "I believe we should cover as much ground as possible." The woman regards Drustan as a fellow Knight as she moves to look at the map. "Select our route, but I would suggest leaving Cai here with the pack horses. He is likely better trained and has better size. Ellee can move as a scout as we need her to and stay behind should we engage. Cai would likely be in the same position." But he is still a male. There's something to be said for size at their age. And fighting ability. She looks to him for his thoughts.

When Claire moves in to review the map, Drustan leans slightly to press his shoulder to hers. He can't help himself. They can't take further advantage of feelings stirred by that kiss, so he'll settle for proximity. "I agree. Cai can keep camp tended, as well as the spare horses. Field experience will likely be good for Ellee." His own squire had some, not too long prior. Just before the Saxon raid upon Sarum. The map is rolled up and handed off to the teen, who returns it to its case. Cai seems quite pleased by this arrangement. Sure, it's not chasing down rumors of errant knights, but it is a guard position (of a sort) all his own.

"We'll leave shortly," Drustan decides, leaning in to press another kiss to Claire's cheek. "Have Ellee pack lunch for the road, so we can eat on patrol."

Claire checked her Prudent of 16, she rolled 12.

Claire leans in juuust a smidge, but she is giving an opinion. "I agree. After your experience in Marlboro, I expect he knows what must be done if the time should come. Ellee has yet to see such things and should see her future." With the map rolled, she looks back to him with the kiss. There's a small smile there. "Remember, Sir Drustan, we are expected to prove ourselves." She looks to her squire, then back to him. The words are kept low and between them. "We fight as a team, not betrothed nor husband and wife. We prove ourselves each or not at all." She tries to smile, but there's no missing the sort of serious nature of it. She intends to fight as her own self without concern for him as any other knight. There's a lingering look before she leans a hand out to grab his and squeeze once before it drops and she moves away. "Ellee. Ready your jerky. You will be leading the ride. We will not be stopping for meal." Claire moves for her own horse.

There's a return squeeze of Claire's hand and something of amusement in Drustan's mien. "I would expect no less from a Stapleford." He moves towards his charger in turn, checking over various things. Seems the lance has been left behind; the duo (Drustan and Cai) have none with them. They opted for supplies over the large weapon. Instead, as the Falt mounts up and rides into the morning light outside their shelter… he is wearing helm and has both sword and shield readily at hand.

Awaiting the other two, he leans just slightly to regard Cai. "The camp is yours. Do not stray far, if you must leave at all. We'll be back as near to dark as possible, to see to it that a meal is ready." The lad nods, looking rather proud of his assignment. He may even be trying to show off for Ellee. Just a little.

Claire mounts her charger easily and reaches into a small pocket on the side. Her hair is gathered up into a ponytail, then retied. She secures it with a tie of brown ribbon and leaves it behind her head. Donning her helm, it leaves her eyes visible and a line down the center for her nose and mouth. To look at her, the overtunic worn easily, she could be mistaken for a man to the last moment. Without order, Ellee does the same and goes without a helm. Dressed in a bliant, she may serve as an excellent scout. Sidling up to the girl, Claire looks directly at her. "You will ride point along the route. Remember what we spoke of about points of choke and intersections. Stop well short. Trust your instincts. I would rather you be wrong than ignore them. Over time, you will hone them. Should someone come at you, ride back and behind us. If we fall, ride at best speed to Cai and then report back to the Earl yourself. Tell no lies or fables. Is this clear?" The girl nods a little shakily. "Good. Lead the way."

The speech of potential failure does earn a slight frown from Drustan, but he says nothing. The advice is, at least, quite sound. The man gives a final nod to Cai and turns to follow behind the two women.

The storms seem to have well-passed. There was intermitten rain through the night, but the skies now are clear and blue. The trail by the narrow Ebble river is a bit muddy and washed out, but nothing their horses cannot handle. The path they follow will take them past Chalke and further towards Ebble Keep and the border to Dorset itself, before rounding back and along a different route on their return. It may be a long ride, but it's the best path if reports of travelers and merchants being hassled is true.

Claire seems to take no notice at the time. She simply gives her instructions and gives the girl her point to ride. Following along, she sidles up beside Drustan after a long morning ride. "You disagree with telling her of possible failure?" she asks, looking off and away. No argument to the route, she just keeps her post with her sword kept close on her left hip.

When Claire adjusts the forward momentum of her steed to end up alongside him, Drustan watches and waits. He knows she wouldn't do so, without a topic at hand. "What to do in case of failure is an important topic for a squire," he begins, gaze shifting toward to the girl further ahead. Scouting their way. "I think maybe it would have been better served before we slept, perhaps. Reminding her just before departure could leave it lingering in her mind. With Cai, I want failure to be the furthest thing from his mind while afield. I want him to know what to do if and when it happens, but I don't want him dwelling on it."

There's a glance to the woman who rides alongside him, brows tilting. "But your methods are not my methods and I do not seek to judge them."

Claire nods slowly. She still doesn't look at him, keeping her eyes away and on the fields and treelines they pass. "I want it on her mind." That's all she says for a few moments. "Falling in battle is honorable. Fighting for that which we are sworn. That is why she was given to me. There is no honor in her death as a scout. I expect the warning to hone her fear and keep her sharp." She ventures her look back to him for a moment, looking past her helm at him. "You judge with words. Judgment does not indict, Sir Drustan. But your words to convey their own thoughts. Judgment is an end, not a discussion. Careful how you defend." She shows a hint of a smile. "To be more plain, I wish her to be thinking about such things. A good scout and patrolling knight keeps those things in mind. Our first sons are to go to defend Falt. I bring this to you not as an argument, my berothed," as deferring to her future husband, "but as proof that I want to see our sons raised to keep watch upon a border."

"Mmm." It's a thoughtful sound, truly. One left to rest in the moment. Maybe Drustan is just savoring the word 'betrothed' again. Even if the Earl has not yet signed off on their desires, the confidence that it will come is there. It's not as if the Falt could have eyes for any other at this point. Claire is the point all else revolves around, in his ken. "I have seen even seasoned Knights make mistakes because they let their fear of failure get in the way. A measure of fear is important, but I would hate to see it govern her actions. A Knight of the realm cannot risk running for fear they may fall. We often must go headlong into battle, knowing that we are likely to fall, but unable to turn away because doing so would ensure innocent souls come to harm."

Another glance, sidelong, to Claire. This time, he smiles. "But your training methods are not mine, nor should they be."

Claire listens to all that and holds a smile beneath her helm, looking away. Her eyes go back to the scenery and what else is out there. "This is where our Houses differ, Sir Drustan. Fear must be confronted early. It must be faced. It must be accepted. When fears are placed before you, they are no longer feared. They have been faced. Stapleford does not fear death, Sir Drustan." She looks back to him. "We welcome it. To die in battle is honor. We revere our fallen. They live forever. Our family raises girl and boy alike to fight to the death and preserve the honor of their name. Accepting fear and having instruction on how to face these does strengthen. These are the children we will raise. Make no mistake." She looks to his eyes with it before looking away again.

Claire checked her Awareness of 12, she rolled 8.
You check your Awareness at 10, you rolled 18.

"Do not mistake me, Claire." No title used here, but she is the one who referenced their future progeny. Bringing the discourse from one between knights to something personal. "I believe fear is important. However, the young are… flighty things. There will come a day, yes, when she knows fear and the potentials of failure and death as a matter of course. When that day comes, will you still remind her of failure in such a way that makes it sound so very likely?" He's smiling, faintly. Almost bemused, perhaps. "You spoke to her before we left as if our failure may very well be unavoidable."

The conversation, as it may be, is perhaps why he doesn't see nor hear it. Ellee will first, of course. A bit ahead and off the road, in some underbrush, there is a struggle. Claire will be able to note it as well, shortly after her squire. Two men, equipped as knights, rummaging through the contents of a small wagon while the presumed owner of said wagon lies unconscious (one hopes) nearby.

"Yes." The response comes quickly. "And when she has grown more into her position, she will smile upon death. You term it as failure. I never have. I term it as falling. Death holds no dishonor unless committed by cowards. Stapleford lifts their cup to the idea of death in battle, with honor. There is a place for all of us. Should she fall honorably as my squire, she will earn her place beside many other Knights. And she will be celebrated and remembered by our children's grandchildren. And their's as well." The words are not quite terse, but close. All spoken with her eyes out.

Ellee see's it first and stops. She lifts a hand into the air and her fingers are splayed out. Trouble. Freezing in place, the scout has done her job. Claire catches it quickly and cuffs Drustan on the shoulder before kicking the charger. She rides up quickly towards the scout and stops to observe. Those eyes glow with fire, though. "I will approach direct. Sir Drustan, would you ride around the other side wide to come around the other side?" It may be the first time Drustan see's her fully kipped up to battle, but there is a distinct energy and desire there.

"Should we fall in battle upon this mission, our deaths may be honorable… but the mission itself would be a failure." Drustan is not able to add more, for something has been spotted. The man rides ahead to follow the Stapleford, leaning a measure to retrieve his shield and strap it in place. His sword soon follows; leading him more to guide his mount with his knees than by the reins. It shows the good breeding of the equine that it follows.

When Claire proposes her plan, he gives a curt nod. His voice is kept low: "I am disinclined to give them opportunity to try to argue." Meaning: let's not try to call them out. As one is still on horseback, it may be the best option. Already, the Falt is moving off and away; intent to circle about to flank the two from the other side.

Claire checked her Sword of 15, she rolled 19.
You check your sword at 15, you rolled 6.
You make a check for Mounted Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 2.
You make a check for Dorset Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 11.
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (1 4 6 3) for a total of: (14)
Claire checked her Horsemanship of 10, she rolled 19.
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (4 6 4 2) for a total of: (16)
You check your Horsemanship at 15, you rolled 4.
Claire checked her Sword of 15, she rolled 9.
You check your Sword at 15, you rolled 3.
You make a check for Mounted Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 9.
You make a check for Dorset Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 14.
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (4 6 6 1) for a total of: (17)
You check your Horsemanship at 15, you rolled 2.

When he notes Claire heading for the man upon horseback, Drustan aims for the other. The man is upon foot, but his mount waits nearby. There's no reason to risk him being able to mount up and ride off. The Falt Knight is a stoic sort; there's no battle cry, no undulating call for the republic. Just a set determination as he rides in with his sword… But the mounted knight calls the alert in time and though Drustan brings his shield up, that first pass results in the Dorset knight's blade skidding across his shield and into the very same shoulder that's so recently recovered from Marlboro. Here, the man's breath hisses through his teeth as he rounds for a second pass. Unfortuntely, in the brush, there may even be a mild disadvantage to those upon horseback… for he cannot get the angle and his sword only comes up in time to partially deflect the blade that cuts into his thigh.

The knight that Claire has found herself facing seems to be made of fairly stern stuff, himself. He does not back down from the charge, no. He's ready and waiting with sword and shield; cutting at the Stapleford as she rides towards him.

No stirring from the man upon the ground: quite possible he is dead.

Claire's ruse doesn't quite work as hoped. But she rides in anyway. Shield up and sword out, the woman rides in with full intent. A misstep from the horse brings her a touch closer than she wanted and the slash from the opposing knight cuts across her leg. Her charger makes contact with the other horse and she rolls off. Falling from the horse, the charger moves to the side and she attacks straight away. When she does, her shield comes up to block and they're left at the impasse for the moment.

Claire checked her Sword of 15, she rolled 2.
You check your Sword at 15, you rolled 14.
You make a check for Mounted Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 19.
You make a check for Dorset Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 16.
Drustan rolls 5d6 and gets (4 1 2 5 5) for a total of: (17)
You make a check for Dorset Knight Dex at 11, you rolled 16.
Claire rolls 4d6 and gets (2 4 3 6) for a total of: (15)
You make a check for Mounted Knight Horsemanship at 10, you rolled 4.
You check your Sword at 15, you rolled 7.
You make a check for Mounted Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 11.
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (2 1 6 5) for a total of: (14)
You check your Horsemanship at 15, you rolled 6.

Upon seeing Claire unhorsed, Drustan is caught in a difficult sort of situation. Does he ride to help, thus leaving the man he fights able to run or gain his horse? Or does he continue? Instead, there's a sort of shout from the Falt as he rounds upon the man that was digging through the cart. It's enough of a blow that the knight loses his footing. With this opening, Drustan rounds about and goes after the knight upon horseback. He angles his own charger between the opposing figure and Claire; not even bothering to instruct her to remount. It should be clear.

And though his shield is up, the knight's sword manages to skirt over the shield, chipping no small amount of wood off of it. It's another cut to the same arm, but nothing major.

"See to the other!" This, called over his shoulder. Seems he'll handle this man for now. Or at least intends to try.

Claire takes the opportunity and reaches for her charger. She grabs the knob and hauls herself up across the saddle. Taking it up, she takes up her shield again and kicks the horse hard, steering it right around the fight and moves to slash down at the guy on the ground and getting up. There's no emotion in her eyes… except a smile. This is battle to a Stapleford. Despite the wound to her leg, she rides in hard and fast.

Claire checked her Sword of 15, she rolled 13.
You check your Sword at 15, you rolled 16.
You make a check for Mounted Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 13.
You make a check for Dorset Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 1.
Claire rolls 4d6 and gets (6 1 3 3) for a total of: (13)
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (2 6 1 4) for a total of: (13)
Claire checked her Sword of 15, she rolled 3.
You check your Sword at 15, you rolled 1.
You make a check for Mounted Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 6.
You make a check for Dorset Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 9.
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (2 5 2 6) for a total of: (15)
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (6 6 5 3) for a total of: (20)
You check your Horsemanship at 15, you rolled 10.
Claire checked her Horsemanship of 10, she rolled 1.
Claire checked her Sword of 15, she rolled 11.
You check your Sword at 15, you rolled 2.
You make a check for Mounted Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 6.
You make a check for Dorset Knight Sword at 15, you rolled 14.
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (6 3 5 3) for a total of: (17)
Drustan rolls 4d6 and gets (4 3 5 2) for a total of: (14)
You check your Horsemanship at 15, you rolled 16.
Claire checked her Horsemanship of 10, she rolled 12.
Drustan rolls 1d6 and gets (5) for a total of: (5)
Claire rolls 1d6 and gets (6) for a total of: (6)

You check your Heraldry at 3, you rolled 4.
Claire checked her Heraldry of 5, she rolled 4.

When both Knights find themselves unmounted, the opposing knight on foot runs for his horse. Even as he's swinging astride, he's shouting: "Told you we should have left sooner!" Claire may notice, as they depart, that one does certainly wear colors and markings known to be common amongst knights in Dorset.

It would seem, for all they intend, murdering Knights of the Realm is not on the docket. Likely this fear came of the fact that when Drustan fell from his horse, he did not immediately get up. The man's stoicism, it would appear, extends to injuries. He didn't cry out, didn't flinch away from combat. He just continued. But that final landing upon the ground has knocked the wind from him. His eyes are open at least, but as the men ride of… he's not moving quickly. Maybe he likes the pretty shade of red his blood paints the grass.

Nearby, at the cart, the merchant groans and shifts upright, looking around warily. "Are they gone?" Someone, it would seem, played possum. Good thing no horses got near his head.

Claire rounds from her fight, getting up from her horse and moves to strike - only to see the knights running. 'Knights.' She runs after one but they both mount and ride off. She's about to turn for her own charger, but a quick glance back reveals the truth she needs to attend to. Still bleeding from her leg and now a cut to her back from the fall into a tree, she moves back. Her sword is wiped of blood on her leg before sheathed. "Drustan! Call out!" she demands as she moves to the man playing possum, a hand reaching for his as she kneels. "They are gone. Do you recognize them? Have you seen them before anywhere?"

"Give me a moment." Drustan is conscious, but it's in the realm of 'just barely.' "Have Ellee bring the kit." To tend to their wounds. He's been hit in a few places, but mostly along his left side. Those strikes that picked and chipped at his shield and still hit his arm and shoulder. There's a few upon his right leg as well, but it's that left arm where chainmaille is rended and washed in blood. Even as he slowly sits up, it's clear the man is favoring it. He groans slightly, hand to his head.

"The reports said they'd been harassing travelers and merchants. Likely… they had no desire to add murder to their crimes."

The man at the wagon is gripping at a wheel, but accepts Claire's assistance to his feet. He does have a line of blood running down his head, from where he was knocked in the skull. Likely what dropped him in the first place. "N-no, never," the man says, frowning as he looks at the two young knights. "I've heard rumor, but I have places to be. I couldn't just stay home out of fear." The wagon is sitting at an angle; it would appear the horse drawing it was cut free.

"ELLEE!!!" Claire barks at the top of her lungs. There's nothing but command there. The girl kicks the horse hard and starts to ride in while Claire looks to the traveler. "I understand, sir. Please relax and I will get you help." Meanwhile she bleeds from her own wounds. The woman doesn't look terribly healthy, but she refuses to quit.

As Ellee approaches, Claire looks over at her. Even past the helm, her eyes are vivid and fierce. "Give Sir Drustan aid, then get him on your horse. Ride him back to Sarum as fast as you can! Bring him to Falt and stay there until I arrive. I will attend to Cai." Her eyes look back to the traveler while Ellee leaps from her horse and fumbles for a saddlebag. "Can you leave here safely? Do you need escort?"

There's a grunt from Drustan, who holds up a hand. "No need for that. I'll be able to get on my own horse." He's had worse, his words seem to say. The way his left arm hangs, however, says otherwise. There is a wry sort of chuckle and he's starting to push himself upright. "Well, at least we have confirmed the reports."

The man at the wagon looks towards the harness at the front and makes an unhappy sound. "If you could find my horse, I could head to Ebble." The Keep, not too far away. "But I think…" and he's rooting around inside. Looking for things the Knights did not steal nor disturb. He soon surfaces with a bag. "I've some experience in tending to wounds. You don't handle herb trade as long as I have and not pick up a few things." He's waving at both of the knights. "Sit, sit. Let me at least do what I can, in appreciation for your aid."

Claire watches the hand go up as Ellee arrives. "You will cease your prostestations!" she yells at him. There is fire and anger in that voice. Ellee tends to him, trying to fumble with bandages. Stem to blood flow. "Knight, you will do as I say!" Claire doesn't let up for a moment, even as Ellee finishes and tries to right him towards her horse.

Claire looks back to the traveler. For a moment, she listens. The words bring her pause. She looks at Drustan over her shoulder, much like she would any other Knight. It is the sort of moment call Knights are forced to make. "You will save him." There are no other options. She directs Ellee to bring Drustan closer, even while she bleeds and gets weaker. Going to both knees, she looks to her squire. "Get Cai. Bring everything. Ride hard and fast." It's getting harder to hold herself up.

Oh, Drustan's a touch delirious, that much is clear. His horse is nearby, he has his sword- he can continue, right? The man is, however, led nearer to the man with the cart… who is already laying out bandages, herbs, and tinctures. "I can tend to both of you, so that you might ride back, but-" There's a pause, his lips turn to a frown. "Maybe you should head for Ebble-" his head tilts to the raven on Drustan's battered shield. "If that's Falt colors, you'll be welcome there." The Knight grunts his agreement, glancing to Claire. "It's closer. And a few months back, I aided in retrieving herbs needed to save his wife." Meaning: there may be a favor of sorts owed by the Lord Knight of the Keep.

Should Elle ride, it will be some time before she and Cai return. Not terribly long, but there is a camp and two packhorses to gather. Meanwhile, the man tends to them both. If Claire insists, yes, he'll tend to Drustan first, but the woman will receive attention shortly after as well.

Just imagine a lot of NPC First Aid rolls here. Successes, d3 rolls. Y'know, stop the poor Knights from bleeding out before they can get to the Keep.

Claire seems to demand that Drustan be attended to first. Ellee has been told to ride and get Cai. It all takes time. She's weak, but still able to fight in some respects. She does wait until Drustan has been tended to until she accepts her own treatments from the traveler. Hearing the words from him during the wound tending, she nods. "Ebble will accept Falt?" She goes to her knees and looks to Drustan… "We need help. Do you give me permission to ride under your colors to Ebble? As your future wife?" Her eyes focus on him, the Squires approaching in the distance.

"Falt pays allegiance to Ebble," who pays allegiance to the Earl. It just means that this may be one of the sources of delay on their banns. There's an extra 'layer' to be considered. But no surprise, as close to the Dorset border as Falt, Chalke, and a few others are. To have a nearer Keep to pay heed is important. The man is tired, sitting upright against the wagon's wheel by the end of it. He blinks a few times at Claire and offers a smile, reaching out to take her hand in his. "I do. But I believe I am capable of riding with you. It is much nearer than Falt and we can get this man's wagon attached to one of our horses. We should at least see him somewhere safe for the night."

The merchant, meanwhile, is doing what he can for Claire. One of the injuries upon her leg, he is unable to get to (either by her motions or his own fear of touching a female noble thus). In all, however, the pair of Knights are at least not in danger, just yet, of more blood loss or infection.

Watching the Squires approach, Claire looks to them and then the merchantman. There are more hard decisions to be made. The desire to return to something known is the easy route - but a much harder and longer ride. She curses under her breath. "Alright, we all ride for Ebble. All of us. Merchantman," she addresses, looking to him, you will bear witness. You will accompany us to out pleasure." Rising, and nearly falling back to her knees, she motions for the Squires to help. "Get us on our horses. We have a ride to make."

"Cai, unload our pack horse into the wagon. It should be able to pull it at least to Ebble." The horse may not be trained for it, but it's only an hour or two ride out. Slow-going, but still a shorter distance than back to Falt. They rode all day to get to their campsite and they're a ways out from there even now. Drustan does get to his feet, hand going to the flank of his charger once the horse is brought near. No one injury was enough to be his downfall, but the hurried battle and the sheer number of strikes… He looks about to fall over. At least he's not bleeding any longer. Not enough to be problematic, at least.

Getting the cart tied up to a horse is a slow-going process, but the merchant is able to help at least. Soon enough, they're on the road, though Drustan is sagging somewhat in his saddle. He's staying astride, at the very least.

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