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May 14th, 2003, 10:13 AM
"Damn"! the Colonel said, jumping back. He moved left; parry, get away. He spun as a belly stroke whistled by.

He went on the offensive, using heavy strokes. e-Berry countered neatly, slapping his blade, not confronting it. She skipped sideways, then in; up-down-cross-cross.

It was awkard for him. Wrong side, dammit. He lunged in, she took the blade and ran up it like a snake. You could hear the hiss of steel on steel and he cried out as the tip nailed him in the hand.

The sword clattered to the ground and e-Berry short-skipped in, her blade poised delicately on his Adam's Apple. He grinned at her.

" My Lady. I am yours to command". He bowed gracefully. "You are one fine swordswoman".

May 14th, 2003, 10:26 AM
Withdrawing her blade, e-berry catches her breath, her breasts heaving with the excitement and exertion. Then she nods courteously to her worthy opponent.

"You are an excellent swordsman, Colonel, and the match could have gone either way," she said, wiping her hand across her brow. "And now, we will hold you to your word, sir, which I know you will honor."

Cadfael looked on, recovering from the nervousness of wondering if e-Berry could pull it off, and now relieved it was over and she had won. He stepped over to her and said quietly, "Lady, Stranger was right about you. Let me bring you some wine, my dear, and some for the Colonel as well." And the Monk bent to kiss her hand, which was still shaking from her fight.

May 14th, 2003, 11:54 AM
Within the hour the Colonel had his troops ready for review. The three of them walked along, inspecting them.

"We have two hundred foot soldiers, all crack men.
"They are backed by fifty archers, using both long and cross bow.

"They are divided into two companies.

"One hundred heavy cavalry with lance, shield and greatswords. A few carry battle axes, although I don't care for them myself.

"Forty light cavalry who serve as reconn and trackers". He came to the end of the line where a small group of men stood at attention, dressed in plain black.

"And these are my, ah, Special Troops. Search and Destroy. Behind the lines. We call them The Wolf Pack".

"That's the five hundred troops. In addition I have an engineer unit, fully equipped to build anything I need, from weapons to siege equipment.

A MASH unit with three surgeons, the mess, of course, and over there are the camp followers; the soldiers' women, general volunteers that help out with anything and everything. They even have a travelling pub and some- enterprising ladies".

He blushed at that last remark.

"There, My Lady, are your men".

Note: Cad, you will effectively take command of this force. You will play the part of the Colonel and run all combat.

May 14th, 2003, 12:08 PM
"A brave troupe, all, Colonel Lucius. I am honored to travel in such company, and thank you for your aid." E-Berry walked along the lines, stopping now and then to converse with groups of soldiers, and also down the line, with their women, making sure everyone understood the seriousness of their task.

Cad remained to confer at length with the Colonel. Much needed explaining beofre the group could set out in earnest.

May 14th, 2003, 12:46 PM
One of the ten in black stood by. e-Berry could tell he wanted to talk to her,so he beckoned him over.

He wanted to know all about The Stranger; where he'd last been seen, what he looked like. He listened carefully.

"Ma'am, my boys will get to tracking him. Once we find the trail, I suspect you'd best take us along for the ride. We'll travel faster with a small group, and they've got a good head start on us".

e-Berry nodded. The man went to his team and they disappeared into the hills, looking for sign.

May 15th, 2003, 09:19 AM
e-Berry felt a new hope as she pondered the combined forces of Lucius's cohort and Cadfael's dragon-mates as they prepared to set out to find her Beloved Stranger. She feared what she had heard of possible torture, and prayed to find him before he could be broken.

May 15th, 2003, 10:55 AM

He squatted by the figure staked out spread eagle. He was breathing, although shallow and labored. The cuts across the chest were fine lines of blood. The big man's body quivered.

"So, Ill Nuchor, how do you like being on the other end of the knife"? he hissed. The men around the campfire watched impassively, chewing hard tack and drinking water.

Hamas heated the knife in the fire. "Perhaps a little change of pace, killer of my brothers"?

May 15th, 2003, 11:06 AM
A shiver of premonition coursed through e-Berry's body, and she had a flash of pain....as if she could feel Stranger's body being put to the knifew.
"Oh Dear One, we must hurry! I pray your strength holds until we can get to you....if only I could show you a vision of hope...we are coming, A'maelamin!"

May 15th, 2003, 11:46 AM
Hamas turned to Stranger. Suddenly the eyes opened, he felt a surge of strength, and with a roar sat straight up, ripping the stakes from the ground, grabbing Hamas by the throat and shaking him like a rag doll.

The Arab squeaked, dropped the knife and struggled for his life. He couldn't breathe, his windpipe was being crushed.

The other men sprinted over, shouting in alarm and began beating Stranger with axe handles. He slumped back, unconscious.

Hamas sat on the ground, rubbing his throat and choking. But he didn't go near Stranger again.

May 17th, 2003, 09:48 AM
Cadfael and the Colonel sit in the command tent. A half consumed bottle of brandy sits on the table between them... outside the sound of men preparing to relax after a hard days forced march can be heard... the occasional song. The laughter from some of the camp doxies plying their trade.

"I ought to kill you you know..." the Colonel chuckled "you demand my troop... just like that! God you are an arrogant bastard!"

"Look Colonel..." Cadfael tosses back another shot "for the last few days.. I have been followed, shot at, and beaten half to death. Every move I and my companions have made has been known by our enemy. Then you turn up... out of the blue... like a saviour." Cadfael turns a hard eye on the Colonel "I do not believe in such miracles.... can you blame me for being just a tad paronoid. Also... your 'Monk' seems to know who and what I am... no, this is no coincidence you turning up"

"I agree... my ah...'Monk' as you call him told me you would be here" the Colonel shrugged..."I have found that ignoring him can be costly... both in money and lives"

A sudden commotion outside the tent sends the two men to their feet, the whinny of terrified horses fom the picket lines drowning the shouts of men. As one they grab weapons and leave the tent.

"Report!" the colonel snaps to the man standing sentry duty.

The sentry jerks his head towards Cadfael "One of 'is mates Boss... just flew out of nowhere, the big bugger is waiting for him by the picket lines."

Cadfael turnsand walks towards where the horses are are tethered... the Colonel on his heals. The huge red, dwarfing even Cadragon, waits for them... his head on the ground watching them arrive....

"Well...." Cad stands before the dragon.."have you found them?"

"Aye... we have "Sh'Roth replies..."about a day and a half away... we could have taken them.... " he twist his head and looks at Cad..."Tell me why we did not?"

"I prefer you to stay in the background for the moment" Cadfael realises just to whom he is speaking "If you would be prepared to accept that? Just do recon for us? I do not want our 'friend' to know about you yet."

"A bit demeaning for our kind..." the dragon drawls... "But I will allow this for the moment"

"Sh'Roth?" Cad calls as the dragon prepare to leave... "Could you stay away from the horses next time" he smiles "it just panics them."

"Silly creatures... why by the great Shell she decided..."

"Just!! stay clear of them!" Cadfael interupts... his eyes boring into the dragons....