Scouts chapter 1 (Draft 1) – thorns

They would all die.

The thorn bit deep into Jaspers face, but he did not move. Instead, he stared at the small leafy plant that defied the tamped down path before him. Until a heavy boot crushed it.  

When the captain told him to slice Norths throat he hadn’t hesitated. He had loved that horse, but horses screamed when they were pushed down a cliff. They had had only one minute to dispose of him and get themselves into the thorny bushes. No other way to go.

Now twenty men were lying in these thorns, a deep slope behind them, a cliff before them and on the narrow road in between the enemy army. All of them marching in order. One cough away from spotting them. Fifteen minutes now and still it was only infantry. The path only allowed for three man rows. This made it the worst deathtrap Jasper had ever been in and the best ambush by far. If the now jumped out and started cutting hundreds of the enemy would die. Sure it was suicide, but how likely was it that no one spotted them? A spearman could come up with the idea to take a piss in the thorns. If he hit Jasper all would be well. If he hit the Boar carnage was imminent. No sign from the captain yet.

Jasper tightened his grip on his shortsword. If they waited for the cavalry the chance was gone. Pushing a scout horse down a cliff was one thing. An armored warhorse would trample three of them before the rider even reacted. If they wanted to sell themselves dearly the time was now. Still no sign.

Sweat was filling Jasper’s eyes. They weren’t high enough to escape the noon heat. When he had counted about 800 men a huge hoof stomped the ground before his face. He glanced up. A giant black warhorse. On its back, a rider in the heavy black armor of the Lysian knights with a grey beard. Behind him maybe thirty or forty each with a squire. They didn’t notice them. Then the supply wagons followed brushing against the thorns.

Jasper was between the Boar and Tomkin. When Tomkin slowly crawled back he did too.  The wheels didn’t crush his skull. A new wave of action went through the patrol. Swords were loosed. The captain had decided. They would attack. Jasper couldn’t see the rearguard yet. He pushed his sword out of its scabbard and made the mistake to look left at the Boar. The lunatic was grinning like mad, clutching his axes with white knuckles.

The rearguard came into vision, but Jasper could see only their boots yet. The last wagon rolled about. Before it could pass the whole patrol the captain whistled. A low sputtering note and a high one. Attack and let the horses loose.

Jasper jumped, cutting his face. No time to look around. His sword found flesh instantly as he stumbled into an archer. It went hilt deep into his side as he obviously hadn’t put on any leather. Jasper tried to pull it out but it seemed stuck on a rib. The man was still wheezing but didn’t make a move as Jasper pulled the sword from side to side.

Another man came screaming from his left a shortsword high above his head in one hand reaching for Jasper with the other. Before he could finish his strike an axe split his face and a  warcry deafened Jasper while blood sprayed into his face. The Boar was in a frenzy. Nothing could stop him now. At his right, Tomkin was in a deadly grapple with another soldier. Jasper couldn’t get the sword out but grabbed the strung bow of the archer and kicked him aside. He took an arrow from his own quiver and put it with a fluid motion point blank into the grappling soldiers head. The arrow went right through the iron of his helmet and Tomkin was free, breathing heavily.

“Thanks, rookie.” he coughed and went back to business. Jasper, for the first time, could get a look at the battle. They had engaged right into the enemies archers. To his left, the boar was causing a massacre as his axes cut faster and faster. A little further some other patrol members were cutting down the guards of the last two wagons getting ready to cause a panic among the horses. To his right, the brunt of the patrol was killing the archers before they had a clear shot. Getting close to the spear-wielding rearguard.

Everyone had left his bow in the thorns. Jasper too, but now he had one. He pulled a new arrow and shot the next soldier that got into range in the stomach. Next arrow into a head further down the row. Next one right into the melee, through the throat of an archer that was about to hack Maces skull with a shortsword. He drew his next arrow as the last of the archers fell.

The spearmen were now in range and the patrol had no shields.

“Down!” shouted the captain. And everyone to Jaspers right went to the ground as if hit by a lightning strike. He knew what was expected of him.

Twenty spearmen. An axe flew so close beside his ear he could hear the metal sing. It landed in the face of the next spearmen. The boar would aim for the head because of the chainmail. At the twenty feet, Jasper was a way that wasn’t necessary with a war bow. He simply shot the first one in the chest right through the mail and the man went down. Another axe, came and beheaded a man in full motion. The first line of the spearmen down. The next stumbled across their fallen comrades and promptly the patrol jumped up to thrust their swords into the confused men, keeping them up and pushing them back.

Jasper didn’t wait. Another arrow went into the face of an enemy. He could now hear the horses scream behind him. The wagons were going surely causing a rampage. The captain and his men held the dead spearmen like shields before them and Jasper shot right into the blocked band. A minute later the surviving ten of them dropped their weapons.

Everyone got their equipment out of the thorns. Crashing could be heard further down the road. The panicked horses were doing as expected.

“Good job.” the captain said to no one in particular and pulled his bow over his head, the heavy leather of his armor creaking. He had lost his eye patch and the hollow socket of his eye was visible.

“What to do with them?” Mace asked while pointing a thumb over her shoulder on the captives. Her expressionless face already held the expected answer.

The captain said nothing. Throats were slit.

—–Notes———

  • fight to clean, don’t like the “throwing down part”
  • captain shouldn’t have an eye patch
  • more character introduction
  • Feedback: line-up of enemy confusing
  • Feedback: Why didn’t come anyone back to help the rearguard? -> reason is clear to me but not explained good enough, path very narrow, wagons etc.

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