The Shadow Over the Keep

Selena watches the horse come racing over with interest. Such a beautiful steed had never met her eyes before. It was a wonderful union, to see the knight and his horse together and ready to fight with the trust of each other aiding them. She then looks at her javelin. It appears no different, but she does not doubt that Carl was telling the truth. It would be interesting to see how he had altered her weapon.

As she looks at the captain again, she says one more thought that has been lingering in the back of her mind. "While we all have accepted this challenge, Captain, I wonder how much use there is in testing us under such formal circumstances. When we face enemies in this mission, they will not stand here and allow us to prepare. For true combat potential, it would have been best to start instantly."

"That is a foolish notion. There is no 'true' combat potential as there is no true way to fight for everyone fights in their own way. When you do face an enemy on the battlefield both sides will have been expected to prepare before they march upon it. Do you see armies marching into hostile lands without their armor on, their equipment not maintained, their soldiers not given the best preparation for what is to come? I give you the chance to prepare as though expecting a fight, how a soldier should. Being able to fight at your best and how to fight at your worst are two different things and I need to know your abilities and know them well. How would I tell how skilled you are if I knock you out before you could draw your weapons? In warfare, a sufficient ambush will cripple an enemy's forces, ignoring how well they would perform in combat otherwise. What we need is a fair match to test you." The captain growled. She began to close her hand and in an instant a huge, double edged sword appeared in her grip. Upon the blade are multiple runes etched into it.

"If it makes you feel any better, that will be the captain's preparation." the woman in red commented.

Q's eyebrows went up when they were told that they would fight her. When noone was looking he even showed a small grin.

"Pffff.... Even you on your own could take her." he told Fel Bunny, without anyone else being able to understand it.

When they were out on the field he prepared some spells, just to help them in combat.

Afterwards he walked towards the Captain, and told her "I just wanted you to read this before we start. Perhaps it will make you reconsider fighting me. Just as a note to you." After he gave the notebook, which, of course, was filled with the explosive runes, he went back to the group of others, casually, but as quick as possible.

Before Q could walk away, "Captain don't read it! He cast an explosive runes spell on it!" Jacib shouted. Stormblade crushed the note within her fist and dropped it onto the ground. "I knew he did something to it already. It might've worked if you didn't prepare it right in front of us all." She grabbed onto Q's shoulder and growled while looking down at him. "What exactly was your plan?" Before he could answer she let go of him. "You'll be first." She then let him run back towards the group.

Selena remains silent, but the captain's answer does not fully satisfy her. From the work she had done before, she had seen most battles be decided swiftly by whoever had a head start. Standing by idly while watching enchantments be used was not something that would happen later. Perhaps this is a customary way to test the strength of mercenaries. Maybe it has never been much questioned. If so, I doubt she will listen, and it does not matter in the long run.

At seeing what Q tries, she gives him a flat look. That had to have been one of the most idiotic tricks she had ever seen someone try. Who would be mentally impaired enough to read a book handed over by the person he or she was about to fight? She shakes her head in disbelief before taking a ready stance.

Jared simply nods and grins. The day was going rather ok, from his point of view, but being able to kick an orc's ass was definitely an improvement. He gets atop Rage Kage and draws his axe "This'll be t'only prep me and Rage'r gonna need." then he finishes with a growl "Bring it on!"

While Q walked back, he only grinned to himself, while a small creature ran from his legs to behind the woman, staying around 20 feet behind her, overwatching the field.

"Oh, I just wanted to see if the person that would lead me is competent." he said. "Also, I hope you don't mind if Fel Bunny stays there to watch the fight. He hates getting blood on him."

It may be from years of fighting side by side, or from the smug expression in Qs face, or even just plain coincidence, but as Q returned from the side of the captain, Jared grinned a mischievous grin, readying himself to charge as soon as battle is engaged. Rage Kage senses this to, as he begins to paw the ground to charge.

Kip did not like what he saw so far. Novice pattern, bunching. Ranged in too close. It did not bode well for the fight to come.

Likely, the front few would charge in quickly and just as likely she was precisely ready for exactly that. Tactics, first year. Assess your opponent first. Anticipate. For those of the faithful, all of life was a battlefield and victory the goal for every engagement. Restraint was always key early on. Doing what was expected, typically a recipe for disaster.

His eyes, never seeming to leave Stormblade, Kip tried a few last words of direction before he resigned himself to play out this mummer's farce, "Sir knight, if you would please, endeavor to keep at least 5 feet or so between you and the dwarf. Move with him even if he doesn't with you to establish a line. I advise the ranged among us to seek more distance. You are too close. Avoid bunching. I daresay charging her is folly. Wait and determine her strategy, and then prevent it if you can. Don't waste your time, but make sure the timing is best applied!" Kip waits for the inevitable retorts. His eyes remain focused on the Captain. She must be touched. She must fall. Bloodied is a victory, Defeated a dream. It is a dream he will pursue wholeheartedly.

Kip waited to see if anyone else would move into a better starting position to best place himself.

Leonard sighed and responded back to Kip, "Have a little faith in your allies..."

He then waited to start. He resisted the urge to thank Kip for speaking out loud for the Orc what he was already planning. Did Kip seriously think that he wasn't going to attempt and press every advantage? Especially the one advantage they obviously had? Their numbers. Of course he was going to try and circle around and enclose their target. He didn't have to announce that for everyone. However, Leonard couldn't bring himself to complain about it. He just told himself it didn't matter. Chances are if both of them could think up this little brilliant strategy, then surely the veteran commander also had this ploy in mind. Not to mention an appropriate counter measure. Even if that were the case he'd at least show her that he knew the basic tactic and could apply.

As for his placement in the battle in correlation to the others, he had a specific role to play. He had to be right up in close quarters to the orc. If he was near an ally, then he could better protect that ally as well. He specifically had to be within five feet range of them for that... Leonard didn't know if the others had reasons for standing together... Kip included... He didn't know them well enough to know what they were planning or capable of. Odd though that Kip did not take his own advice. For his own strategy, he was at least thankful that they were behind him, and taking advantage that he was to be their shield. If they had spread out, he would have had greater difficulty in his role. Even as they were, he couldn't be sure the Orc would go for him first, if she got the drop on them.

Of course this meant that the orc might be able to strike at them all at once, but judging by her impressive sword, he was willing to bet she was a melee type. He wasn't anticipating any wide blasts of magic, though he did not rule it out. There was the possibility that the long weapon had some kind of reach, but the fact of the matter was not all possibilities could be avoided... And he had to prepare for what was most likely and use what he was capable of. Even now, Leonard's skill with the shield meant that his allies were just a little bit more protected. It was so subtle it might be hard to notice, but Leonard's mere presence made it that much harder for the Orc to get to his allies. A veteran commander might be able to pick up on this, even if to her it was a minor annoyance. Still, perhaps she might value its worth in the field. However,

Leonard knew that Kip also was not aware of what his allies were capable of. So it made sense that his advice might not apply. This is why he kept his response vague. He just wish that he didn't act like he did know. The up side was that the Orc would not know how much of Kip's advice was good, and how much didn't apply. Though, it would soon become obvious.

Leonard did not have real battle experience. Instead, he was more accustomed to this. Fighting instructors and upperclassmen from the academy. He sparred with men and women ten times greater than him. In those fights it was often decided quickly. If anything, getting one good hit in or surviving one exhange would have been asking for a lot. Fretting about that wouldn't have helped, though. The only thing he could do was what he could, so he aimed to fight as if it were a normal engagement. He was thankful that the aim was not to kill her at least.


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