1866-01-28: The Old Knight and the False Prince
The Old Knight and the False Prince
Summary: Old Sir Ray makes a final stand against the Grey Prince to save the Queen and Princess Clara
Date: 1866-01-28
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Players:
Raymund  Alysande  Clara  Victor  

Betrayed. The Thorns were in the palace. Raymund parried a sword slash from a man in a grey tabard as he lead the Queen and Princess Clara from the withdrawing chamber a pair of his brother lancers close behind. Sir Luthor stepped forward and finished the man in the grey tabard as Sir Galwell stayed close to the royal ladies.

Good men. Raymund thought in passing as he scanned the corridor. Where had Maya gone? He’d sent his squire with a message not long before the men had burst into the chamber to kill the Queen. There was no sign of a body in the corridor and she knew her duty well enough to shout if she’d seen trouble…

“Sir Raymund,” Alysande said drawing Raymund’s gaze away from the search. “Which way do we go?”

Raymund thought quickly. “The Rose Passage is closest.”

Alysande nodded once and stooped to pick up a sword from one of the dead men. “Lead the way,” she said calmly nodding for Clara to take a weapon as well.

Raymund nodded and started towards their escape route. As he walked he listened. There were shouts of alarm in the castle, and the clash of blades. The four men who had come for the Queen were not alone it seemed. They came to a crossing of passages and found a dead man in a red tabard bearing the black eagle and suns of the Gerrell. Abyss. Are they for us or for them? There had been no word from the Duchess about sending men, only those she put under the command of the Carling whelp and the Sir Paul. Both of them at last report were in Normont fighting Alphard Haldis with Jaren.

Raymund made the turn towards the Rose passage only to have Maya skid to a stop coming out of a cross passage. “Maya,” he called in surprise. The squire looked unhurt, thank the One, and had wisely drawn her sword.

“Sir,” Maya replied. “Good. You have the Queen, the Duchess and the Duke are here so is the Grey Prince.”

Raymund heard Alysande curse.

“The Gerrell are with the Thorns?” Clara asked, speaking the question everyone was thinking.

“Yes,” Maya answered as she approached. “They have most of the palace. I don’t know how they got in.”

Raymund looked to Alysande. He could read the concern and the fury in her eyes and wondered if the concern was for herself or for Jaren. After all he had ridden into Normont after Alphard Haldis and if Normont's duke and duchess were here on the side of Alphard's puppet prince what did that mean for Jaren and the army? He didn't have time for those concerns all that mattered now was getting the Queen to safety.

Raymund turned back to his squire. “Come with us we’re headed for the Rose passage,” he said nodding to where the passage opened up to a pillared colonnade and gave entry to one of a dozen small gardens about the palace.

Maya nodded. “Right away, sir,” she said her voice tense.

Something in the back of Raymund’s mind sounded a warning call. He turned as Maya took a mad lunge at the Queen her blade aimed for the thigh.

“Your Highness-“ Clara began to warn seeing the attack before the rest.

“Maya! No!” Raymund said as he stepped between the Queen and the blade. He took the wound his squire’s blade finding a gap in his plate and slashed at Maya. She was quick and the blade cut air as she fell back shouting “SHE’S HERE! THE QUEEN IS HERE!”

“Bitch,” hissed Alysande stepping forward only to be stopped by Sir Galwell’s hand.

“Get to the passage,” Raymund said. Though Sir Luthor and Sir Galwell were already moving Alysande and Clara towards the garden and that they needed to cross to reach the escape tunnel.

Raymund limped after them, the wound was fresh and the pain had yet to kick in but he knew it was only a matter of time before it slowed him. While he limped and the Queen and her party ran, Maya fell back before the advance of the lancers but when she reached the passage she had come from she came to a sudden stop, her confidence returning.

The enemy was coming. Raymund steeled himself for the fight and moved to intercept them. “Sirs, see the Queen from the palace.”

He glanced towards the Queen and the protest she lodged didn’t have words, but it didn’t need to. She was weary of losing people, of having to run while others fought for her. “Another time,’ Raymund said. “Go.”

Alysande went, fleeing into the garden, her protectors and Princess Clara close behind. Raymund turned as Maya’s reinforcements arrived and Maya stepped aside to let them through.

“Why?” he asked his squire as he sized up the men who came for the Queen. He was lucky they were a mix of Gerrell and Grey Company. He doubted they had trained to fight together.

Maya answered his question but he no longer had time to register the words. There were five men, six if Maya did more than speak. He didn’t have time for the answer now.

Stepping back between a pair of pillars he met the charge of the first two men. The Gerrell man had an axe, the Grey Company man a sword. The swordman’s blade was a half-second quicker and so Raymund swept his sword out parrying the blade into the path of the axeman fouling his attack. The axe man struggled and the swordsman tried to bring his sword back to center but Raymund was in the way, darting forward through the pain in his leg, he drove the point of his sword into the man’s throat. There was a splash of warm blood on Raymund’s face and the grey man was done his body falling in the path of the axeman.

One he thought tiredly as one of the Grey Company men rounded the pillar to stab at Raymund’s side. The old knight twisted to avoid the blade and again to avoid the wild swing of the axeman as he crossed his fallen comrade’s corpse but he was a moment too slow. The sword tagged his side turned by the steel of his breastplate. Raymund countered with a slash. It wasn’t deep but it opened the second swordsman’s forehead spilling blood into the man’s eyes. He followed up with a strike of his pommel, crushing the man’s nose and sending him groaning to the cobbles of the garden walk.

Two.

The axeman came next. He swung hard and fast but he wasn’t a veteran. His blows were the sort that looked good in tourney melees but left openings. Raymund stepped, no staggered back, damn this leg , avoiding the blow he brought his blade down quickly hacking at the axeman’s wrist.

There was a scream and the axeman fell back holding his wrist, blood welling through his fingers. Raymund let him go. There were two men left but his leg was beginning to throb with each step. These ones were cautious, both in grey tabards, working together to try to corner Raymund and not let him get them alone.

Abyss Raymund swore and would have spat if his mouth had not long ago gone dry.

“Stop!” called a voice from behind Raymund, from the far side of the garden. The way Alysande had gone.

Raymund turned slightly to glance in the direction of the voice. The man who spoke wore plate worked with thorny roses and a grey tabard. Behind him he could make out more men in grey but at least there was no sign of the Queen.

Thank the One

“Sir Raymund is it?” the man in the plate asked. His voice was smooth like silk but there was something foul in it as well, like a sour touch of madness that tainted the otherwise soothing effect.

“Vincent is it?” he countered. “Vincent Chavez?”

Tracano” Vincent snapped the silk replaced with fire.

Raymund didn’t turn away from the two grey men but his attention was fixed on Vincent, the so-called Grey Prince.

“If you’re looking for your Queen, I have men waiting for her down the Rose passage. Your squire was most informative about the routes in and out of the castle. It was good of you to trust her so.”

Vincent flashed a smile at Maya across the garden. Maya took it with a grimace. At least she had that much shame.

“So, what is this about then?” Raymund asked.

“I need a Captain of the Lances,” Vincent answered. “I had thought to offer you the job.”

Raymund turned now to look at the man, keeping his other foes in the corner of his eye. Vincent, the Grey Prince was young, perhaps just old enough to have earned his spurs and his expression had the sort of sincerity you only saw on the truly mad. Though that was not what Raymund was looking for. He was looking past the prince, to the prince’s men. There were six men with him.

Abyss. Too many.

“Well, what say you, sir?” Vincent asked still sounding serious.

“LANCERS TO ME! FOR THE QUEEN!” Raymund bellowed in the vain hope some of his brothers still lived and would respond to his summons as he charged towards the Prince and his men.

The Prince was stunned, but the men on Raymund’s flank sprung into action lunging with their swords. Raymund took the blades on his armour and swung his sword behind them to drive them back. Even if he couldn’t reach the Queen he’d bloody well kill the Prince.
Closing on the Prince and his men he lunged for Victor’s face, with the visor up there was a chance.

Victor caught the blade in his fist, quick as a cat.

“No then?” Victor asked holding the blade firm with inhuman strength.

Raymund ripped the blade free of Victor’s grip and was kicked in his chest for his trouble. He fell, landing hard and groaning. He kicks like a bloody mule Raymund thought as he struggled to get to his feet. Through the corner of his eye he could see the grey tabards closing on him. “Stop,” called Victor and the men stopped closing.

“Get up, Sir Raymund.”

Raymund reached out a hand to grip the rim of the fountain in the middle of the garden and pulled himself to his feet. His leg was throbbing with agony now though that pain was nothing to the anguish of failing yet another ruler. Still, perhaps there was some hope, kill the Prince and the others might fold. It was a faint hope. Mad as Victor was he doubted he was the man pulling the strings but he was here he was here and Raymund had little time left.

Raymund turned blade in hand to look at the Grey Prince. “Well?” he demanded of the boy.

“Is there no way you will accept my rule?” asked Victor.

Raymund managed to spit this time. “None.”

“Fair enough then,” Victor said and drew his sword from his scabbard, three feet of good steel, but it was steel and not Sidhe steel.

At least there’s that Raymund thought as he sized up his foe. His grip on the sword was sloppy his stance was shit but there was that strength. Some part of his mind questioned where that strength came from. Alchemicals? It didn’t matter. Victor had it and that’s what counted.

“Come for me,” Raymund said and Victor pressed the attack. His first slash was wild and came with enough warning even with his leg throbbing and bloody Raymund slipped under it and made a slash at Victor’s face. The prince twisted out of the way and the fight was on. Both men attacking and countering.

Quick and strong and I'm bleeding like a stuck pig… Raymund thought barely avoiding a sword stroke aimed for his head. He countered with a slash at the man’s legs to draw the sword down and then followed up with a pommel strike that left the Prince bloody.

He can bleed. That’s something he thought as he came stepped out of the way of a clumsy counter and rang a blow off the Grey Prince’s helm.

They parted then gaining space and time to think. Raymund’s chest burned with each breathe as he watched the Grey Prince observing him just as unfazed as he had been at the start of the match.

There was a smile then from the Prince. A confident upturn of his lips. The bastard knows he’s winning.

Raymund changed tactics stepping in front of the fountain. “Ready to dance again, Prince Chavez?”

The smile vanished replaced with rage and the Prince came for him sword raised. Raymund stepped to the side, too slow, they collided but the sword kept swinging slamming into the rim with clash of steel and stone and the blade broke with the impact.

Raymund tumbled backwards falling back into the fountain. The waters rose up around him as he struggled to get to his feet. He felt a hand grasp his ankle and he kicked out and felt it hit hard steel. Then the waters parted and Raymund was flung to the cobble stones of the garden path.

“Damn you,” snarled the Prince.

Raymund rolled over onto his back. The prince’s sword was thrown to the dirt as well broken two feet above the hilt, but the prince was advancing empty handed towards him. Raymund’s sword was in the fountain so he drew his dirk.

Get close enough you bastard

His whole body ached now but if he could get close enough he could still finish this. The prince reached down and Raymund stabbed. The dagger drove into his face and the young man screamed in pain and rage.

“You bastard!” he shouted as he batted away the blade with a swat that felt like a hammer blow. Raymund stabbed again, but the prince kicked out slamming hard into Raymunds chest and sending him sprawling.

“You flaming bastard, you son of a whore,” raged Victor as he cast about for as weapon as Raymund struggled to get to his feet by the fountain.

“Pot calling the kettle black don’t you think, boy?” Raymund gritted out through blood stained teeth.

Around them the prince’s men closed in. “NO! STAY BACK! HE’S MINE!”

Raymund rose dagger still in his hand as the prince closed in on him. He waited set to meet the charge.

This time hit the flaming ey- his thought was cut off by the impact of their collision. The dagger went flying and Raymund was flung back into the water.

This time the hands didn’t come for his legs, they came for his head. They grabbed him, pushed him down and kept him there. Instinctually Raymund fought and kicked, but the boy, this whoreson prince of Anton’s was too strong. Raymund’s lungs burned, he could feel the need to breathe forcing his lips to opening. His hands tugged at the arms holding his head down and he kicked his feet wildly.

Let go. You poxy son of a bitch.

It was no use. It was no use. Then the words came, the ones his uncle had taught him as a boy so many years ago. Ice not fire.

Raymund struggled. He could feel the last of the air going.

Ice not fire…

He stopped struggling. He let the prince win.

There was a long airless forever in the fountain before the hands that gripped him wrenched him from the water and tossed him on the stone. He breathed then deeply but once, the sound hidden by the clash of armour on stone and then he held it despite his whole body screaming for more.

“Pathetic,” he could hear the Prince say to his men. “Hardly worth the legend. Someone give me a sword I’ll-“

Footsteps and with them new voice. “My lord.”

“Your Highness” corrected the prince.

“Your highness, the Queen is taken and the Duke and Archduchess are waiting for you in the throne room.”

There was silence. “Very well, let’s go speak with them,” Victor said after the silence had passed.

Good. Go. Raymund thought sneaking a slow breath through his nostrils.

The footsteps and voices receeded and blackness replaced them. No he thought as unconsciousness took him. No not yet.

Raymund woke to voices.

“Shit, they got Sir Ray. We’re fucked now.”

“C’mon, we need to be gone. The Birds and those grey bastards will be back soon and we need to get gone before then.”

Raymund coughed blinking as he tried to push himself up from the wet cobbles.

“One’s mercy!” exclaimed one of the voices.

“Fuck me, he’s alive.”

There were sounds of boots on stone and hands grabbed Raymund’s shoulders and rolled him onto his back. It was night, the stars were out and the moons shone beyond above the garden. He could see the men who had been speaking. One of them was House Guard, though the name escaped him, the other was dressed in the green and gold of a household servant.

“The Queen?” Raymund managed in a croak. His throat like everything else burned with a deep ache.

“Normont bastards got her. The Couveri princess too,” the guardsman said. “They were shouting about it, saying if any of us hiding fought back the Queen'd be punished for it.”

Raymund lay back. She was alive

“Jaren?” he asked.

“The Champion? Was he here? Shit if they got him…” the soldier began.

Raymund shook his head. “No. North.”

The men looked relieved. The guardsman licked his lips, and sheepishly offered “About the hiding Sir-“

Raymund coughed, waving his hand dismissively. Think…

“My kin. The Durante…”

“Don’t know. Sorry Sir, we’ve been stuck here.”

“Fine,” Raymund before asking. “Ride?”

“What sir?” asked the guardsman, the servant having fallen into a pensive and worried silence.

“Can you ride?” Raymund said with effort as he tried to sit up.

The servant reached out to lift him up and the guardsman followed suit.

“Some,” the guardsman said and the servant nodded “Same for me.”

“Get me up then,” Raymund managed through gritted teeth as they sat him up. It took another moment and a great deal of pain to get Raymund to his feet. He rested against the guardsman and looked to the servant “My sword. Fountain.”

The servant fetched the sword. While he did the guardsman asked “How are we going to ride?”

Raymund ignored the question, breathing in long slow breathes to help control his pain. The servant returned with his sword and with an effort of will he reached out to grab it and slide it back into its scabbard.

The servant took his place at Raymund’s otherside propping him up. “My lord, where are we going to go? You asked about riding and-“

“That way,” Raymund cut him off pointing to the western entrance to the garden. “Then Normont.”

And pray to the One that Jaren and the others still live

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