When last we left Sgt Forn and Lieutenant Tain they were preparing for a desperate rearguard action to delay the massive invasion force of the Emperor Saladin Malice!
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Prince Quellen had waited, despite orders to the contrary. However, when the last wagons of women, children and supplies had moved past the summit which he was using as an observation point, he was forced to either order his squadrons back to rejoin Lord Tain and the rearguard, or move forward without them. Lifting his arm halfway into the air with two fingers pointing up he signaled the standard bearer to order the advance.
The fog ahead of him was beginning to thin and, other than the enemy scouts his skirmishers had captured and killed, there were no signs of an enemy presence in this area of the kingdom. Whatever had diverted Lord Tain would hopefully, at best, only delay him a day or two; with a force of three thousand land fighters and two hundred mounted swordsmen not even the mountain barbarians known to inhabit Rellong Valley would pose any real threat to the Rear Commander.
“Nonetheless” thought Quellen, Maven Nilrick’s castle was less than three days march from his present location. Once there, at Castle Horry,he would have Maven send out three squadrons of riders to rendezvous with Lord Tain and help him rejoin the main army.
Quellen might even ride out with the squadron himself and have the army keep moving ahead under the command of Lord Dellon.
“Better still”, reasoned Quellen, he would wait at the castle for the riders’ return and take advantage of the opportunity to entertain Maven Nilrick’s daughter, the Lady Vellestia. Who according to rumor spent her days of late holed up in the castle gardens awaiting the return of her betrothed – the Admiral Nicholus Crellus.
King Banton had sent for First Admiral Crellus over two months ago and the lovers had only met once since his departure. If nothing else, the impending invasion, had succeeded in doing what all of Prince Quellen’s advances could not – postponing the most awaited marriage in Ryder – at least among the aristocracy. Quellen was almost thankful for the invasion but only momentarily. If the invasion was not repelled soon much more in Ryder would be postponed than just marriages -including romance.
Spurring his horse forward Quellen forced these thoughts up and out of his head into the clouds of dust created in his warhorse’s wake.
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