It was a brave sally..
The knights on their silver chargers were well-fortified with alcohol, with a company of archers on the wall to cover their charge they were loud and brash, but their dark-eyed enemy was fierce and grim. All too soon were the knights forced to retreat from the field in disarray with their dead and wounded left behind to be cloven by the cruel weapons of the heathens.
Oh, no doubt tales will be sung in years to come of that cold morning’s deeds. An epic poem brave Sir Decatur’s charge into the enemy’s midst to hew down the fork-tongue captain before he was felled by a stray arrow will be sung to the chorus of a roaring toast from the men-at-arms in the mead-hall.
Or Sir Paradise’s brave sacrifice to give his brother knights a chance to retreat becomes an example of how to comport yourself as a knight. So, they tell squires, all that crap you spout about being chaste, dedicated, poetic and a lady’s man? Managing estates books and leading men from the rear? That’s bullshit. This, this Sir Paradise is how a real knight behaves.
Now Sir Rainbow’s squire, a learned lad, was beaten down and captured in the midst of a fierce melee. He learned the heathen’s tongue from the hours he’d wasted learning from his books. While being ransomed by the heathens he discoursed at length with one of their lords. Eventually his impassioned debates convinced the heathen King Summerlin to withdraw his armies from the besieged castle and sue for peace. He was eventually sainted for his pious work and earned himself a pretty stained-glass window in a church somewhere.
But, you know, those fancily embroidered tales aren’t half of the story. The real story.
Take Sir Decatur. It turns out that he was a right bastard who had a young wife at home with an inheritance of almost a thousand hectares of prime farmland… and a younger brother who’d been vigorously courting her while Decatur Sr. was away. Lonely and unhappy wife; dedicated and charming suitor. A tale as old as Cain and Abel. Decatur Jr. gave a pouch of gold coins to a bowman known to have gambling problems, in order to take care of any niggling technicalities. Nothing was explicitly asked, nothing was explicitly promised. Everyone walked away happy.
Or poor Sir Paradise, a man who has issues with the adage love thy brother. His love for his brother knights went a little farther than some others and when his father found out…oh dear. De-facto disowned by his family, left almost destitute, and with his fathers last words of you’re no knight ringing in his (admittedly pretty) ears, Sir Paradise was determined to go out with a last fuck you, world! that would be sung about for decades to come. What the fuck did that doddering old bastard with his thirteen-year old second wife know? Fuck him. So Sir Paradise was the first to volunteer for the sally and knew that his moment had come when his brothers started to run for the walls. He pulled out his sword and beat those little woodsie fucks down until corpses were piled five deep by his feet before a captain with half a brain just called for someone with a crossbow.
And Sir Rainbow’s squire? He didn’t want to be there, shouldn’t have been there. Rainbow’s lord knight was an old man on his last procession around the kingdom before he hung up his gauntlets for good. Misfortune caught them both at the castle when the siege began. The old cock just had to go out in a blaze of glory and volunteered them both for the sally. A woodsie pikeman caught Rainbow in stomach during the first twenty seconds of the sally and spilled his guts in a gorily spectacular manner. The squire was left standing there facing a mounted knight and three woodsie men-at-arms. After considered the pretty girl waiting for him at home, his future inheritance and his current odds of getting either, the squire literally shit his pants, threw down his sword and begged for mercy. They smirked at him and moved in for the skill. Shit. Think! I’m a merchant’s son, what do I know? Money. Je suis riche et peut