(514-10-01) Rest and Tactics
Summary: While Steffan is recovering from an infected wound, he receives a visitor from a fellow commander of the battle.
Date: October 1st, 514
Related: Killing with Kindness
gaius steffan 

Another day at the southern border and another day that Steffan is stuck in his tent, and to be exact, stuck in his cot. Those were the healers orders and they sounded very practical, so the de Wylye is not one to disobey. All needs are being seen to by his own squire, making sure that the knight is as comfortable as he can be in his state. That the man is fed and watered, messages if any are brought to him as well. The fever has gone away with the herbs that his healer dressed into his wound, but he is still in a weakened state. For now, his squire is out taking care of Steffan's charger and the knight himself is attempting to nap, but he can only nap so many times in one day so is rather awake at the time.

Gaius has been busy near Ebble since the skirmish with Dorset, organizing teams to retrieve the wounded and dead from the battlefield, paying special heed to the dead. For those without families nearby, who died during the skirmish, he has penned a few letters, and hopes they find someone who can read or at least work out their import. The final wagon has pulled the of the dead into Ebble castle to be tended to and prepared for burial and transport back to a manor. Gaius makes the sign of the cross as the wagon is taken to a tent next to the healers and chirugeons. He returns to the tent city that has grown with the recent clashes on the border, knights from all over Salisbury gathering to lend their lances and swords to the fight. He takes not of a specific tent, the de Wylye coat of arms or Sir Steffan's heraldry clear on it. The man leans in, "Sir Steffan de Wylye? It is Gaius de Stapleford. I heard the healers were determining the healing properties of mud and dirt when they tended to you…"

Reading a message, one he has ready a number of times already, to alleviate boredom, Steffan's attention quickly snaps to the entrance of his tent when he hears the voice of someone other than his squire. "Sir Gaius, good day. I wouldn't be surprised if they were, Lady Vesper was the one that has been attending to me and after my wound became infected, she visited me again and well… after cleaning the wound, decided to stuff it with some sort of herb, paste." There is a slight sigh as he shakes his head, the de Wylye not one that is skilled in the arts of healing so he has no idea what she actually shoved there. Not to mention he wasn't looking since the process was quite painful, "Stuffed it with something, and wrapped it. It smelled of something fierce, that I know for sure."

If there is any fierce stench thanks to horrible infections, Gaius make any face in regards as he steps into the tent. He is still attired for battle, lest Dorset strikes once more and calls up for another battle. The war drums that rang out after the skirmish made it clear this was not over with one victory. His sword is sheathed at his side, and his heater shield hangs lightly off his one shoulder. "Could have been much worse, she could have been working to prepare your body. I saw how the section of the line you struck folded in. Looked messy, but it is good to see that you and the other Knights you were leading are good and alive." He stands near the entrance, clearly not one to overstay or overstep his welcome. "Any idea when you will be rejoining the line? Or does Lady Vesper have a tight eye on you?"

The stench was more from the healing paste that Lady Vesper concocted but one never knows, all Steffan can tell is that whatever she shoved into the wound, no matter how painful it was, actually worked. He can sense his energy slowly returning and the fever that he was apparently running has faded. So it appears that he will not be courting death this time. Any physical burdens that was on the de Wylye has been alleviated, that means his armor is laid out on the armor rack on the other side of the tent, as is his sword and shield. A simple pair of trousers and shirt is what he has on, with the blanket covering the lower half of his body.

When the battle is mentioned and how his side of the battle was particularly brutal, on both sides, Steffan can only shake his head, "I did not expect the enemy to be so fierce and during that first surge, they really cut into us. I am glad the remaining men were able to rally and bled them proper. Soldiers tend to fight much harder when backed into a corner." As for his current status, the de Wylye can only shake his head again, "I do not know, I believe the Lady Vesper mentioned something about visiting again in a couple of days to check on the wound. Probably to dress it again and to make sure that it is healing properly."

Gaius crosses his arms across his chest in thought, the chain mail giving a soft clink and creak with the move of his arms. "Dorset fights hard, at this rate we will have a full scale war on our hands that will make the conflicts at Norgales look meek in comparison." Gaius likely talks up these skirmishes a little too much, but those war drums where clear in their intent. "And they fight with conviction that I would not expect from ones clearly in the wrong. Either they are extremely loyal to their liege, or a different tale has been spun across the borders." he says with a shake of his head, "I guess in a way I can respect them for that, even if I have grounds to hate them more then most…" Considering they almost killed his wife to be in a smaller skirmish before this day.

He sighs at that, "I'm just waiting for the Saxons to exploit the moment. Only a few months ago they raided Sarum, I can only imagine they have their eyes trailed on us once more before summer turns to winter. What a mess… what a mess…" he shakes his head and glances out the tent at the hustle and bustle of the other Knights and soldiers that have gathered.

"I heard about Nogales but do not know the details, I believe His Grace send a detachment to assist our allies up north?" Steffan says as he puts the piece of parchment down as the current conversation with another knight commander of the skirmish is much more interesting. "I also heard about how this conflict began. All because of a mad man. What a shame." Another shake of head from the de Wylye, enough times that one may believe he is the pessimistic sort, "But I do not believe the conflict will draw out that long. If we inflict enough casualties to them, they should sue for piece. And we have only been on the defensive, once our forces are fully organized, we should march south and show them what Salisbury is capable of. Force them into peace, on our terms."

At the mention of Saxons though, Steffan's expressions darken as he nods his head, "They would and if they were smart, they should. Question is are they going to exploit us or our southern neighbors. They have already tried against us and we bled them hard, perhaps they wish for a softer target. And if they do hit Dorset, then peace with them won't be far behind."

"If I knew of a Saxon who could read or write, or had half a mind for Saxon myself… I would see about them getting a rather convincing letter of striking at Dorset. But then I probably over step my bounds…" He says with a sly little grin. He wouldn't mind bringing this little dust up with Dorset to an end with less blood. Well less Salisbury blood. If the Saxons and Dorset decide to have at it, that is their problem. He might have some respect for their southern neighbor, but there is clearly no love there. "I agree though, we are sitting on the defensive for too long. I have heard they already executed some of our captured Knights, before the skirmish. Perhaps once you recover and find your sword arm and shield leg once more, we can propose an offensive action? Before the rains and snow start to fall harder and more often… Summer only lasts so long."

Once more Steffan shakes his head, something he oft does not just for Gaius but most people he speaks with due to his rather prudent nature, "Sir Gaius, no matter what we think of the Dorset, the Saxons are much worse. They not only kill our people, but they take them as well." At the mention of the executions, the de Wylye does not look pleased, "/That/ was honorless on their part, no doubt revenge for our execution of Sion. It is probably a message from them that if we can kill theirs with impunity, they will kill ours." As for a proposal for a strike, Steffan will be more than glad to contribute, "If one isn't already being drafted by His Grace and his strategists, I will be glad to work with you on something. Even before I fully heal, we can discuss plans if you wish." He then gestures to his leg, "As you can see, I am going nowhere at the moment and my healer has forbade me to leave this cot."

"The curse of bed rest gives plenty of time for the mind to wander and the tactician to plan." he says with a chuckle as he pulls a small wooden stool forward and places it before the man's bed so he can sit. He unshoulders the heater shield at his back and lays it down along with his sword. "I imagine the question is how bold do we wish to be. It is clear Dorset has rallied some army to the border with the intent to strike or provoke…" he says as he draws a thin dagger, using the pommel he draws depressed lines along the rug of Steffan's tent to draw a depiction of the border, with Xs to mark Ebble and the supposed nearby army. "Perhaps a small group could swing around them… lighting fires to barns and manor houses to make them think an army has snuck around them and struck at their interior. Not the most honorable of plans… but with the execution they recently performed… It seems honor is little on their mind…"

Steffan knows all too well as that is all he has been able to flex the past few days, his mind, though to be fair, before Vesper tended to his wound again, his mind was in no state to be flexed. "Despite that truth, Sir Gaius, I have continue to fight the urge to rise from this cot and at least take a walk. Being forced to lie here… is vexing and I have a feeling that I am not the only knight who feels the same if confined to the same state."

When the discussion shifts to possible plans of incursions south, Steffan appears to be consider, "Causing chaos behind their lines will draw resources from the front, forcing them to move men back to guard against further strikes. But we would need scouting reports to be sent to us to see what their soft spots in the lines are. And in battle, strategy trumps honor. Do you think the Dorset would hold their me back if they find that we are outnumbered? I think not."

"If we send them in such a frenzy that they pull men from the front to give chase and retribution… I would consider that a victory, as long as the force assembled here at Ebble is in a position to strike. I imagine the key part would be evading capture… as I do not imagine the Dorset men would appreciate us lighting their stables and grain stores on fire." Indeed capture would likely end in a rather quick and inglorious death, the likes that thieves and poachers face. "But perhaps we do not give them an opportunity to come after us. We set out on the eve or morn of battle. Then when the lines are drawn and the forces march against each other, any Dorset men or women who look back to home will see fires and smoke rising into the sky. Enough to sap the willpower of any knight or soldier. Of course we would need to find Knights who will forgo the glory of battle…"

An idle hand rubs at the sheets of his cot as Steffan listens quietly to the ideas that Gaius have in his mind, head nodding in agreement, "That would certainly sap the heart of their men. And any who are not hardened veterans, especially who's homes that are being set aflame, would certainly break ranks." Tapping his chin with a finger, there is a slight frown on his expression, "Problem is, that would drain our main force of knights and men, from the start. I am not sure if His Grace will be willing to risk that. But certainly a valid idea to entertain."

The dagger is pulled up, done draw on Steffan's fine tent carpet, and sheathed. "I certainly do not suggest to ride out without the approval of His Grace or one of his field commanders, and will of course respect any order." While he might propose plans with little honor, he is not a foolhardy man who is simply about to buck authority. The Stapleford Knight knows his place, even if he has been gone from civilization and the more battle minded duties of Knighthood since the past year. "Shall I send a jug of wine so you can enjoy your bed rest in drunken stupor? I hear the vineyards around have made a nice harvest." He says with a friendly smile, perhaps wanting to see the serious and pessimistic Steffan with a bottle of wine in him!

When the offer of wine is made, Steffan's eyes widen slightly before a smile appears, actually looking pleased for the first time in days. "If you would be so kind, Sir Gaius, that would be much appreciated. My squire has only been bringing water and meals, nothing spectacular, especially when it comes to camp fair. I believe he is also afraid to give me anything like wine, lest I drink too much and decide to fly from bed." There is a shake of head from the de Wylye as he looks towards the flap of the tent as if to give his squire a disapproving look, "I heard that you lead your men well, Sir Gaius, and your forces fared much better than mine. Well done. I am sure our victory was due to no small part on your end."

"Ah! You need to teach your squire better! Throw wine bottles at him.. I think he will get the lesson then." And now Gaius is imagining a drunken Steffan chucking half empty wine bottles at his squire. The image is amusing to say the least. "As for the battle, I do not think the Dorset knights and soldiers expected a cavalry charge right into the jaws of some great spears. Quite frankly I don't believe I will be giving that order again any time soon, but sometimes a little shock and awe is enough to set the stage. But you held your own. It was clear they focused on your flank, thinking the great spears would protect the other. The other to fall back was prudently given and likely drew them more into your forces allowing the rest of us to deal the final blows."

Amused for sure, Steffan smirks as he pictures the same, "That would be rather improper, for a knight to abuse his squire like that. Though it is a tempting thought…" As for the charge, the de Wylye nods his head at the thought of shock, "The same was done to the Saxons when they broke through the gates of Sarum. I heard that Sir Jaradan lead the same charge into a formation of great spears, the knights that followed him courageously, without hesitation." As for his own lines, Steffan can nod at the encouraging words, "At least my line did not break, which I am glad. If it had… the battle would have gone badly."

Gaius makes a motion with his hand. "Just at the boy. To give him a scare, not to hit him. Though if a bit of wine splashes and ruins his tunic. There are casualties in training." He says with an unforgiving shrug. Leave it to a Stapleford to abuse his squire! Perhaps its just to toughen him up as Stapleford squires are often thrown into the thick of things with their mentors and teachers. "I regret not being at Sarum for the raid. I only saw the aftermath and was able to participate in some fighting with stragglers… after the Saxons captured me…" he says and runs a finger across his nose. Indeed Gaius is not all battlefield bravery and tactics, even he can make mistakes. Thankfully God or one of his Angels is keeping an eye on the man to make sure his mistakes happen at less deadly times.

"I was also not at Sarum, Sir Gaius, neither were all the knights of Salisbury. If we were, then the Saxons would not have gotten close to the gates and would have been routed in the field." Steffan says with another sigh, typical of the serious knight that tends to brood over serious issues, "I was at Wylye, seeing to the manor's defenses in case the invaders decided to press in that direction, no one knew they would so boldly strike at Sarum so swiftly, risking their flanks to the manors they left untouched."

"They do not act like a typical army. They are little more then bandits and raiders, which is appropriate as these lands are not theirs…" It seems he speaks of all of Britain when he mentions land, and does not deign to admit that Sussex has properly fallen to the Saxon invaders and they have made it theirs. "But strategizing to deal with the Saxons is for another day, hopefully they are not pounding on the manor door when we do so…" he says as he smacks his legs and starts to rise. "I will bid you careful, long days and pleasant nights. I will send a bottle of wine along with proper instruction to keep your goblet filled and just a bit overflowing as to your liking. Hopefully it makes the days pass easier."

When Gaius rises to depart, Steffan almost did the same before reminding himself that he is not to move, lest he aggravates the wound, "Thank you, Sir Gaius, for the gift and your visit. It was much appreciated and I pray that I will soon be rejoining you out there." As one who hates to sit idle, it is his prudent nature to follow the orders of the healers and Lady Vesper has deemed that he remained in bed, so that is what he will do. "I am sure the next few days will be much more pleasant with the wine. And if Lady Vesper asks, I will say that it magically appeared in my tent one day. You will not be implicated and I will not forget this favor."

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