Chapter 6: Stand Up and Be Counted

Leo glanced back Marin at the moment, but he chose not to talk to her. After all he didn't know the first the thing about bandaging people. Instead he'd headed along the tents to see if he could help others salvage what was left of the equipment. It wasn't as if he was ignoring her at the moment, but everyone had their jobs before a strenious march: there was not time for idle banter.


The activity of the camp resumes as the uninjured and healed among the company carry out the sergeant's orders, gathering carts and supplies, pulling down tents, and preparing to head up-mountain towards the watchtower. The men keep their weapons close, but aside from keeping a wary eye on the surrounding forest no watches are posted. The reason why is a silent secret shared by all the survivors: should another gnoll force of any respectable size show up, there will be no second victory.

A scant hour later, the Iron Hearts take leave of the shattered camp and begin the long, slow march to the southeast. By the blessing of the gods, the wagon train does not draw the attention of any enemies; either the opposing force has been well and truly defeated, or there are simply none close enough to detect the ponderous procession.

5th Squad, being in the best shape overall, ends up doing most of the heavy pulling. Wendshof, showing himself a sergeant rather than a captain, does not excuse himself from a turn at the yoke, and perhaps does more than his fair share. The men may notice it, but they are too tired to say anything.

It is nearly dawn when the sound of rushing water indicates the nearby presence of Baden Falls. Before the company reaches the cleared area surrounding the watchtower, though, another sound can be heard. Leo and Drystan, at the front of the train for the moment, make out the thud-thud rhythm of horse hooves, coming this way from the southwest.


The march is grueling. There isn't any other way about it. After the adrenaline high of combat wears off, there's only the ache of old wounds, the thud in the back of your skull that reminds you you haven't gotten any sleep since well before the patrol the day before - an event that seems eons ago in recollected time. Butch's existence narrows down to the stolid trudging either at the rear of the column, sucking in the dust the carts kick up, or at the front, yoked to the cart like a beast of burden. Some of the salty vets always used to joke that if the men ever stopped bitching, then something was wrong. As the men move along, there is only silence, a silence that reflects the grim spirits and even grimmer prospects of a company that only hours ago was at full strength.

But through it all, Butch disappears inside of himself to the place where only resolve and the ability to put one foot in front of the other remains. There is no doubt, or fear, or worry about the future - - those things exist only for those who are well rested and coherent enough to think thoughts of the future. The gaunt eyed survivors of the Iron Hearts, covered in the grime of the march and the gore of their friends and enemies from last night's attack, have no such thoughts.

Then after what seems like an eternity, the sound of rushing water is heard.. maybe they made it after all.

I didn't hear the hoof beats, but perhaps we could move the train off the trail if that's feasible.. also, back now!

Alelip stays close to the cart, making sure that the soldiers who are riding on the cart are tended to, and that dressings on the wounded soldiers stay where they should.

As Alelip walks, he reflects on that which he lost during the course of the night -- his tent, his bunk, and a fair number of the items in his medical kit. He hoped that the supplies that he improvised would be enough, and that there would be no further casualties this night.

As they march, Alelip leans heavily on his walking stick, using it to support his weight as he walks, feeling every bit of his age as they march slowly towards Baden Falls.

Givin her space in the carts to the other followers, Marin walks tiredly beside the carts, trudging in a zombie like state. Now that the battle has passed, and that the adrenaline shock had worn out she can feel her wound stinging and her legs aching for a bit of rest.

She looks at the somber caravan and in a soft voice, almost whisper like, she starts singing, not a army march like days before, even if that seemed centuries instead of days. Her voice carries a soft tune that her mother sang for her when she was little, about the works of the country, and the blessings of each day.

There are no more tears in her eyes, have been dried a bit ago. Instead a small grim smile is in her face as she finishes the song and starts another, about the journey of the brave souls that have departed and their advice to the living, in honor to her fallen comrades.

"And here I stand, in the gate between lives
Waiting the herald to carry me home
I've been brave, that I hope
so I can serve the will of the Gods

Forgive me for leaving, beloved ones
but I felt the calling of the skies
Carry on in my name
Remembering my battles and my games

I've had victories and defeats
I've lost and I've gained will
But all this has no use
If my Gods judge me a ruse

Remember that, you who are still alive
live with courage, but not wihtout fear
a humble soul is a gold stone"

Just to give you and idea... think in Pippin when he sings in Minas Tirith for the Steward

Drystan has been quietly humming his own tune at the front of the group to take his mind off of his slowly healing back, considering his future goals in life. Perhaps Alelip could teach me a bit more of magic; he seems to know what he's about. I doubt that archery will suit me as well.... Either way, I should tell the Sergeant when we arrive. He grunts to himself as he makes this determination. Although I doubt he'll be in the mood for much of anything, best to take core of this while I can.

stops suddenly as he hears the hoofbeats. He turns to Leo and says, "Do you hear that? Perhaps a bit of relief has come... Gods but I hope those beasts," Drystan spits out the word "Beasts" as one would a curse, "Don't have cavalry...."

With that, he tugs on one of his moustaches and calls yells tiredly to the rest of the group, "Sergeant! I hear horses coming; what do you want of us?" He leans wearily on his lance as he waits for a response. Best to let him take the lead here.

Hearing the yell from the fron line, Marin looks up and around a look of panic in her face as she freezes

"Please, please, have mercy of us. Don't let it be gnolls" she prays in a whisper scared, her tiredness making impossible to keep a calm facade. Rising a bir her sword she gets closer to the cart besides her and starts looking att all sides, trembling a bit


When a yell from up the line breaks the silence, Butch instinctively grasps the handle of his sword, sweat dripping off of his upturned face as he labors away at pulling the carts. He glances rapidly from left to right and then silently slips out from the yokes, signaling one of the walking wounded to take over pulling.

Hand still on his sword he makes his way towards the front.

Alelip, upon hearing the sound of the horses, puts his walking stick on the now-stopped cart, and draws his scimitar from its scabbard, and attempts to
Dice Roll:
d20 Results: 8 (Total = 11)
identify where the horses are coming from.

Leo keeps walking in silence at the front, his mind focused on the future in front of him. He'd take a slow breath as he watched the area around the path to make sure that nothing else came. Near exhausted Leo let out a growl of frustration as he searched for the source of the noise.


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