1850-11-08: Selected
Summary: A fateful morning for the young Royal Lancer Jaren Cassomir and the Lady Alysande Tracano, even if neither of them know it yet.
Date: 1850-11-08
Related: Anything relating to Jaren and Alysande
Alysande  Arturo  Jaren  Raymund  

It was a sunny Novembre morning in Sunsreach. A very light touch of frost had covered the ground in the pre-dawn hours but it had already melted away to dew. Still, the air carried the chilly promise of impending winter, enough so that Lord Arturo Tracano had insured that his daughter Alysande had added an extra layer to keep her warm as they visited the training yards where the Royal Lancers were hard at work. Arturo was holding the eight-year-old Alysande's hand as they moved up the steps to the platform that would allow them to overlook the entire yard.

Alysande giggled at the final two steps, when she grabbed Arturo's hand with both of her own, and he lifted her entirely up and past those last steps to place her down atop the platform. He looked at her and tilted his brow, but knew he could not keep the amused smile from his face. She at least made the show of being abashed for her childish outburst, linking her hands behind her back and scuffing her toe, though the cheeky grin she added ruined any attempt at contrition. Arturo shook his head, still clearly bemused, then turned to the Lord-Captain of the Royal Lancers who had been walking beside them…Gavin Tracano was his first cousin, and newly-raised to his post.

"Well, it seems you have your pick, Arturo." Gavin grinned a bit, gesturing towards the yards, where the bulk of the Royal Lancers were well-engaged in sparring and other pursuits of training, "Save for those permanently assigned to his majesty and the few that protect Lord Anton, there seems no restriction upon your selection."

"Good to know." Arturo replied with just a hint of drollness to his tone and a humored smile on his face. He glanced down to Alysande and noted, "Stay on the platform, Alysande." She nodded solemnly, and turned to go stand near the railing, peeking through the slats at several of the sparring matches going on. Arturo looked back to Gavin and queried, "Do you have any recommendations?"

Gavin considered a moment, "Well, we've just had a Selection, so we've a fresh crop of new Lancers. If you're looking for someone more experienced, Sir Donnel Durante's a good, solid knight."

"What about Matias Cassomir?" Arturo asked without looking at Gavin, his eyes searching out the practice yards for the son of his oldest and closest friend, Baron Aric Cassomir.

"Sorry, Arturo, but Matias has been sent to his majesty's detail." Gavin shrugged a shoulder, "You know how it is with the Cassomirs. They almost always end up serving the royals."

"Hm. Shame." Arturo said absently, still looking about, before he felt a slight tug on his trouser leg, and looked down to see Alysande wearing a concerned expression. She pointed in the opposite direction that Arturo had been looking, blue eyes laced with a touch of fear and worry.

"Popp- I mean…Father, why are they hurting that man?" Alysande's face flushed from having to correct herself to use the proper term for mixed company, but Arturo's eyes followed Alysande's extended finger to where she was pointing.

It seemed one knight was beset by two of his fellows. Older Knights…Arturo recognized them as among the four (Four! And here he was nearly begging for ONE!) Lancers that were regularly part of Lord Anton's bodyguard. The younger knight was trying to defend himself against their attacks, and not very successfully. His movements bore the slight sluggishness of fatigue and he was drenched in sweat…it seemed he'd been at it for a while. One of his opponents hit him squarely across the abdomen, and the man dropped to a knee. The second swatted the waster from the younger Knight's hand, and the first again struck, smacking the waster at the young man's shoulder. He actually groaned in pain and pitched forward catching himself with the arm of the shoulder that wasn't struck.

Arturo couldn't hear what the two knights were saying, but a cruel sneer affixed itself to one of their faces. He nudged the younger knight over with a foot, and the younger man scrambled back to his hands and knees before being kicked over again, and again trying to rise.

"Good God…aren't you going to put a stop to this!?" Arturo turned on Gavin, his bewilderment plain upon his face, but Gavin's eyes were following something…or someone else across the yard, and a rueful smirk crossed his face.

"Just one moment, Arturo, I'm confident the situation is about to resolve itself, and regrettably for me, your choice is likely about to be made…." Gavin noted.

Meanwhile, the sneering knight lifted his waster once more….

Sir Jaren Cassomir was being pressed hard by Sir Donnel Durante. Their sparring match had lasted for several minutes, and had attracted some attention from their fellow Lancers. Jaren had been pressed into the selection almost the moment he earned his spurs, and had attracted much notice when he was the first Selected at the end of his trial. He wasn't even 19 years old yet. The last few months had practically been a blur to the young Knight, but he was aware there were some among the Lancers that felt he needed to learn some humility before it all went to his head, possibly the kind of humility best conveyed by contusions and concussions.

Sir Donnel Durante was not among those, however. The somewhat elder Lancer seemed to look out for him, which may have been no surprise given that his uncle Sir Raymund Durante, had been the knight that trained Jaren. At times Jaren wondered if Raymund had put Donnel up to the task, but he knew Raymund better than that.

Still, there was one thing Donnel and Raymund definitely had in common…neither ever went easy on him. He staggered back after narrowly deflecting a powerful slash from Donnel's waster, but he kept his feet, and pivoted, bringing his own blade back and then down and across Donnel's torso. Donnel yelped, but then laughed ruefully as he resumed his attack.

"Damn if Uncle Ray didn't make you fast, Cassomir." Donnel huffed as he launched an overhead strike. Jaren sidestepped away and gave Donnel another swat, nearly in the same spot the last landed.

"He did." Jaren affirmed, grinning behind his helmet and stepping back, blade still held in a defensive posture.

"All right, all right…peace Sir Jaren. We could both use a drink of water and a breather." Donnel grinned, lowering his blade and pulling off his helmet. Jaren nodded, lowering his own waster, and wiping the sweat of his brow with the back of a forearm once his helmet was off. A few moments later he peeled off the padded jacket he was wearing and draped it over a nearby railing as he and donnel moved over to the nearby trough to splash some water on their faces and smooth their hair back. As they walked, Jaren noticed that Sir Gavin was apparently entertaining some gues-…wait, that was Lord Arturo Tracano. Jaren hadn't seen him in years, but he was close with his father and a frequent visitor to Ironhold in his youth. His attention was turned elsewhere, but Jaren regarded him intently for a moment.

"Hey now…I think she's a little young for you, Cassomir." Donnel's voice chided him. Jaren blinked and looked at Donnel in confusion.

"What?" Jaren oh-so-eloquently replied, then looked back to the platform, only now noticing the pretty young tow-headed girl that was peeking through the slats, just a few feet away from Arturo. He laughed softly, and shook his head, smirking back at Donnel. "Oh…for the One's sake, Sir Donnel, give me some credit."

"I'm not the one that had nearly every female courtesan in Sunsreach practically lining up to try to bed me after Selection was over, Sir Jaren. Some of the male ones too, from what I recall." He nudged Jaren with an elbow. Jaren just made an intense study of the trough while trying to will the rush of warmth to his cheeks to subside.

"It wasn't like that." Jaren murmured rather feebly. It really wasn't. But…there -was- a grain of truth to it. Enough to make it terribly embarrassing. He really hoped his Father didn't hear about it.

"Like hell it wasn't!" Donnel laughed once more, "The First Knight of the Selection, routed by a squad of pretty girls."

"I just didn't want to offend any of them by declining…" Jaren muttered again, feeling about as feeble as the protest sounded in his ears.

"Didn't want to off-…That's why you snuck out the back of the tavern?" Donnel shook his head, clearly trying to hold back peals of laughter, "For the One's sake Jaren, when that's your problem, the answer is bed them all." He snickered and noted, "We were placing bets that you just fancied the lads instead."

"No…it's not like that." Jaren's voice was more steady now, his tone matter-of-fact.

"What then? You don't like them young and you don't like them prettied up and lined up…" Donnel grinned cheekily at him, "Is it older women then? That what does it for you?"

Jaren gave Donnel a swat on the arm, smirking, "Just waiting for the right one."

"The One help you, you're a romantic." Donnel replied with mock resignation, lifting a scoop of clear, clean water from one of the many buckets that sat above the trough, gulping it down. Jaren did the same.

"Oh hell. Zeph and Guillaume are at it with Ted again." Donnel's tone abruptly shifted to something more troubled. Jaren turned and followed his gaze. Sure enough, the two senior Lancers were in the process of thoroughly deconstructing Sir Theodric. "Ted" had been the last to be chosen in the Selection, and was of common birth. Sir Zephram Farrant and Guillaume Lockley seemed determined to keep reminding him of both. With contusions and concussions.

Jaren didn't understand why Sir Gavin allowed it. Why Sir Gavin seemed wary of Anton's Lancers. Weren't they all brothers here? It made no sense. It was unknightly.

It was going to stop.

Jaren started in that direction at a trot, snatching a waster from one of the racks as he passed it.

"Oh hell…Sir Jaren, you shouldn't…" Donnel warned, but Jaren's mind was made up. He increased his speed to a near-sprint in the last several meters, and brought the waster up just in time to deflect Sir Guillaume's strike to the already-fallen Teodric.

"No one likes a bully, Sir Guillaume, much less when demonstrating unknightly behavior." Jaren said, surprised at how cold he sounded even to himself.

Guillaume blinked in surprise, then glanced at Sir Zephram and smirked, before turning his attention back to Jaren. Jaren sensed more than saw Teodric moving away behind him.

"Well, you've been asking for a lesson in how things work around here ever since you finished the selection, boy." Zephram lifted his waster and moved in on Jaren's left, even as Guillaume started to lunge for him.

"I'm not the one that needs a lesson." Jaren replied, ducking under Zephram's slash, and deflecting Guillaume's with his own waster before pivoting and swatting Zephram's sword hand, which earned a gratifying yelp from the older knight.

"Come on then." Jaren grinned his best, most cheeky, most infuriating grin, "Let's see if you know anything worth learning."

"Is that…Jaren?" Arturo Tracano asked as he watched the new arrival begin to "dance" with the two older knights. Brash, he thought…no helmet or padding…and yet…"dance" was very much the word to describe it. The young man weaved around the other two men's strikes with grace, his own strikes lashing out with precision. A swat on the hand. A tap on the head. At one point he even smacked the larger of the two men on the rump, and Arturo could swear he heard a growl of anger from the man. He hadn't seen Aric's middle son in many years…apparently he'd put the time to good use.

The younger knight was toying with them, and they were starting to realize it. Especially with that grin that Arturo could see even from here.

"Yes…that's Jaren Cassomir. He was chosen first in the Selection…you can see why." Gavin gestured, his expression sour, "I confess…I was hoping to keep him from your attention. I ah…"

Arturo turned his attention away from the fight for a moment to study Gavin quizzically, "You what, Gavin?"

"Well," Gavin looked distinctly uncomfortable, "It's just that Lord Anton has his eye on him for his own detail."

"Ah…" Arturo replied, looking back to where the rather one-sided battle was still taking place, "He's…amazing. Who trained him?"

"Sir Raymund Durante." Gavin replied. "Earned his spurs just before the selection. Just 18 years old."

"Raymund?" Arturo frowned, "I didn't realize Old Sir Ray was still taking students."

"I wasn't." Came a new yet familiar voice, as the snowy-bearded form of Sir Raymund Durante stepped up onto the platform with the rest of them. Alysande eyed him curiously a moment, but then turned her attention back to the battle. "I made an exception." Raymund explained in his typically laconic fashion. "And he's good. But he's not the best…not yet." Raymund frowned a bit, and then suddenly raised his voice to such a volume that all three of the others on the platform jumped at the bellow:


Jaren cringed inwardly as he heard the voice of his former instructor. Mostly because he knew he had been showing off. Or at the very least excessively needling his fellow Lancers. That moment of uncertainty cost him, as Guillaume's waster crashed hard against his arm, and then Zephram's hit him in the midsection, pushing the air from his lungs. Jaren staggered back precisely two paces.
"Well now, not smiling now, are you, Cassomir?" Guillaume sneered behind his helmet as he advanced.

Jaren steadied his feet, forced back the panic of breathlessness, and managed to wheeze a simple "No" as he looked back at Guillaume, all trace of emotion wiped from his face. He took in the short, quick breaths that Raymund had taught him for such a situation, and ducked between his two opponents as they advanced, pivoting about with his blade held high. They turned to face him, and once they were squared, Jaren struck.

Five swift, hard blows later, and it was done…silence largely gripped the practice yard now, save for a couple of moans from Guillaume and Zephram as they picked themselves off the ground.

Jaren tossed aside the shattered remnant of the waster he'd been wielding, and nodded to Teodric as he passed, reaching up to clap his fellow on the shoulder. Teodric smiled a bit weakly, still holding his ribs, but returned the nod. Jaren paused then, noticing the eyes upon him from the platform. He briefly met the eyes of the young girl who was still watching him from between the railings, and gave her his best courtly bow, smiling politely before moving over to reclaim his padded jacket and helmet.

"He's not the best." Raymund re-affirmed. "But he might be, someday. If he remembers the things he already knows." With a bow for Arturo, Raymund turned and strode off the platform. Arturo made note that Raymund barely seemed to regard Gavin at all. Tension among the Lancer ranks? A troubling sign.

Arturo glanced down to Alysande, reaching to place his hands on her shoulders as he asked, "What do you think, Lissa?"

Alysande looked up to Arturo and grinned upside-downly at him, nodding her assent. Arturo glanced to Gavin and grinned himself, just a bit smugly for the knowledge that Anton would be annoyed by this:

"We'll take him."

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