(514-08-07) Hail to the Thief I
Summary: Bloodshed interrupts a fine summer day.
Date: 514-08-07
Related: Hail to the Thief, Part II and Hail to the Thief, Part III
eirian elrick 

It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, so far as the early summer morning goes. A cloudless sky, long rolling fields of green dotted by early rising farmers threshing wheat: the picture perfect image of Logres. Travelers head up the Bourne in little flat-bottomed boats, while others follow the old Roman road between Sarum and Du Plain on the eastern edge of Salisbury.

Such a peaceful, serene image deserves to be shattered by a blunt rock. A man comes jogging up the road towards the Laverstock manor, his coarse linen trousers gartered around the legs and sweat rolling down his broad brow. A hat flops as he strives to take another stride at speed, the twine tied under his chin in a knot leaving a raw line on deeply tanned skin. His shoes slip in the dust and he turns towards the household, gulping for air in great heaves. Chickens and geese probably suffer for his quick passage, disturbed into clucking and honking.

“Need tha lord or…” Barris puffs for breath, calling out to the nearest other body he sees, rather like the famed runner of Marathon who dropped dead after warning the Athenians of a Persian landing. “Knight. Trouble,” he spits out.

The goose he disrupted loudly honks and waggles its tail feathers, irritably marching past in slow, imperious strides. Geese are assholes.

Elrick happens to be one of the knights that are out and about this morning, closer to the road that leads north to the Roman highway that leads west to Sarum or east to Camelot. Since he is on his household’s territory, the young Laverstock Knight is in his daily outdoors outfit, mostly leathers and a linen shirt. At his hip is the sheathed sword though, so the running peasant can easily narrow down who to seek.

The Laverstock Knight is also not too close to the geese, knowing them to be assholes unless you have food for them. Then they are only lesser assholes. Hearing the man call out that he needs a lord or a knight, especially with the added word of ‘trouble’, that catches Elrick’s attention immediately. Stopping what he was doing, he approaches the man who is out of breath, a hand resting on the pommel of his weapon, “Slow down and tell me what the trouble is. Bandits up the road?” He may need to call his brothers and put the manor on alert if it was dire.

A huffing breath blows out from Barris’ lungs. He struggles to catch his air, wandering around in circles rather than standing there bent over, hands on his thighs. He is a short, stocky man of little more than five-and-twenty years. Seasons in the field give him the rough look of a farmhand.

Critical success.
Elrick checks his Recognize of 7 for 7.

Barris is the son of a farmer near the Roman road to the eastern edge of Laverstock lands. Married last year, he is notably a bluff fellow respected for doing hard work and making no excuses. He’s rather famous for his tendency to blush when telling tall tales, in fact.

“Heard a lot of noise when I went out to feed the pigs. Looked like bandits, maybe, couldn’t say. I wasn’t so close. Found a body in the field,” he chokes out. “Out there with Rex… my hound, sir.” He squints up at Elrick, and the exhausted heaves of his chest even out a little. “Fresh enough. Blood on the dirt, sir. I sent my brother out over to Glenn’s farm and he said he heard shouting too. The others were in a bad shape, but I left them with my missus.“

Since he was young and also first knighted, Elrick was not as well traveled as some of the knights of Salisbury. Being the second child not of the main line, he remains mostly around the Laverstock manor and territory, patrolling and assisting in household duties. His daily work would usually carry him out towards the roman road to the west and east, ensuring travelers and visitors were having no issues on their lands.

Thus, when Barris arrived, he is able to recognize the young man easily. "Bandits…" The Laverstock Knight curses under his breath, though the peasant would be able to hear with no issues. "Barris, thank you for this news, I will see if my brothers are available and what men I can gather. "You can stay here if you wish, or return home. But be careful, make sure you keep your door barred and family safe. We will ride out and investigate."

“I only saw myself a little, sir,” Barris admits. His thick fingers knead at the stitch in his side. He keeps pacing, and ducks his head. “I'm sorry, sir, I’ve shown no manners. I ought to stand still but ran here fast as I could. The missus has the two I could find. Don’t know what Glenn found himself, but the fuss started down on the road and these poor men were half-trampled by a horse. Spooked, I reckon, but it was plenty distant for me to see.” He wrings out his sweaty, damp tunic and flaps it over himself to cool his overheated skin.

“I can’t be leaving my brother and my father to be defending the lady by herself,” he says. His brow is wrinkled at the weight of the thought. “Don’t know anything about them men. They didn’t sound at all like they were from here, moaning about. Maybe calling for their god, but I couldn’t make no sense of them.” Straightening a little, he gamely sets himself up to hobble back out to the road and jog back. “You need to know anything else, sir?”

Waving off the apology, Elrick's focus is now on the bandits that may be plaguing their lands and potentially their neighbors. "No need to apologize, Barris. You did well bringing this news as soon as you did." As a bit more of the situation is explained by the commoner, the Laverstock Knight listens without interrupting before shaking his head, "That will be all. Return to your family and do not venture out, either I or someone else will come by to let you know the threat has passed. Again, thank you. Take in some water before you return home though." He does take note that they may be dealing with bandits of Christian in nature, or some other religion, not Pagans. More information to pass on to his brothers or cousins.

“Very good to hear that, sir. My wife will be relieved, I’m sure, and my father too.” Barris scrapes his hand over his face, and then sinks his shoulders down an inch or two now that the burden has been relieved. He will be the first to head to a water butt and use a ladle, if there’s any such thing, or dip his hand in to take a palm full of water. The liquid doesn't help his thirst but he will not douse his head and drink to his heart’s content. One must not make loose and fast with his lord’s privileges.

When he is done, he hisses at one of the gaggle of geese trying to peck at him for revenge at existing. Geese would have ruled the world if it weren’t for opposable thumbs or endurance. Then Barris sets out at a slow jog again after giving a rough nod to Elrick. Not his best skill, manners.

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