The Silent Foe (W’adrhun) vs. Campaign: Albion (Hundred Kingdoms)
Regal. Unbowed. Unbroken. The Prince of Albion stands atop the fallen monster which was the Matriarch Queen’s chosen steed, his glaive pointing at her throat while she gazed back, measured and unafraid, even though her leg is trapped under the wounded beast. He notes the lack of perspiration from his foe; in contrast, his armor itched from chaffing against his body, the applied oils already evaporated in the midday sun. His face is moist, his breath ragged, as he fights the urge to commit regicide.
Fall. So this is a true battle.
“So you must be the Matriarch of the tribe beyond the hill,” Artur says, swallowing his saliva first and managing to control his shaky voice. “Let’s get straight to business. You’re a Queen, and me? I’m a King. You’re my prison as of this moment. And by right of conquest, I will demand of your people everything that I see fit to own.”
She opens her mouth. For a brief moment, Artur feels somewhat relieved: finally, some diplomacy with these people! His hopes are dashed – she spits at his boot, soiling it with mucus.
The next moments blur for the young, hot-blooded prince. He recalls his fists and boot whirling about, his heartbeat pumping loudly in his ears, trying to feel petty vindication at inflicting pain but only hurting himself in the process. And feeling a dark seed fester like a parasite inside his heart.
When Artur finally returns to himself, Gilead has him grappled on the ground while Gravin is shouting at the Shield Templar to release him or, “So help me, Theos, I will-!” The Prince taps at Gilead’s arm and shakes the other at Gravin, calling for appeasement from both of his agent and his Armsmaster. Gently, Gilead releases him and Gravin shoves the templar aside to check on Artur.
“I-I’m alright…” Artur coughs. He smiles weakly at his guard before looking around in alarm for the Matriarch Queen. “T-the prisoner, where is she? Did I… Did I kill her…?”
“No, milord,” the Armsmaster shakes his head, partly in disappointment, “Were it any other woman or man, surely your righteous strikes would have slain the fool. She is beaten badly, but otherwise still alive, by Theos.”
Artur nods. He looks around the battlefield, noting his veteran guard already fulfilling their task by taking charge, commanding the volunteers to care first for the wounded and the fallen heroes while they capture those who accepted surrender, and gave a merciful end to those who won’t. One man, in particular, managed to stand and began running for the hill, screeching something horrible. Three longbows put an arrow in his eye, throat, and heart almost in one shot.
So. This is true battle…
Artur rises and immediately takes command. First, he calls upon his men and praises them for their service. To the survivors, he promised an increased twelve-percentage of the spoils of war to be divvied up among them all – this causes a great cheer throughout the small expedition. Second, he calls upon the prisoners, explaining to them their situation as prisoners of war and the conditions for their release. To one of their uninjured javelin-throwers, he gives the simple task of returning to their tribe to relay the circumstance, along with a single cart for which he was to return bearing the first of many tributes of cinnamon barks, unrefined salts, and especially fine ivories.
Thirdly, he has the Matriarch bound like a boar on his own, unbladed polearm, to parade and keep her immobilized while the ransom is paid over time. Her own size alone almost makes the task impossible, but they make do. Had there been other ways to carry a royal prisoner, Drakequill would undoubtedly be using it; however, the expedition hadn’t planned on earning a Queen’s Ransom in the first place.
But a Queen he did defeat. And a prize, he will receive. He meets the defiant Matriarch’s gaze with his own, unflinching as he relishes in his first sovereign victory.