On to the Tregua M enhir through the Jungle
enhir through the Jungle
Restday 7th Twelfth Moon706 ATN onwards
Morgana’s menie spent the Restday re-organising ready for advancing into the jungles. Depuis Jean told Morgana that the next realistic camping site would be at the Tregua Menhir. This was a place where the three surrounding tribes met for parleys. A powerful wizard Whyman lived there who made sure the tribes obeyed truce rules when they came there. The elephant track went thus far but there were no decent clearings suitable for such a large force to use before then. At walking pace he thought they should reach it in about six hours.
Having checked the state of the wounded, Morgana then had to decide what to do about Sir Fier Feuille’s body and effects. She had originally assumed that they would bury him in the jungle here and carry his effects back to his family. But he had been the first squire coming looking for employment from her after they occupied Charles. His family had a manor a few myles from the city and had avoiding taking sides in the civil war. He had behaved heroically at Verston and Claux and been knighted and made Steward of Claux for it. He fought well at Rues and indeed did his duty in the more recent actions. She spoke to Donna Prominencia, “Milady are you intending to return to Quimica soon? I ask this because if so, you might take the body of poor Sir Fier Feuille to be reduced to bones like your brother?”
“Oh! I had intended to stay with you until Doze Handor is found Madam Marshal. Perhaps Archon Takses would do it? I shall of course return to Quimica in order to take my brothers bones back to our home at Eleneka. If I promised to take Sir Fier’s bones and armour back to his home, it would give me a good excuse to do a bit more travelling! They do not burn witches in Bara do they?”
“Not for just having magic powers any more. Sir Fier’s family live at Blazon Manor, five myles north of Charles. If we can do a deal with the Archon I shall write a letter for you to give them. I will give you moneys for the journey.”
“No need, my holdings mean that I have no shortage and it will really be doing me a favour.”
So Archon Takses agreed to send the corpse to Quimica for the acid bath treatment for another thirty Gilden Pezzi. Morgana then wrote the letter for Sir Fier’s parents with another for Grand Duchess Maudette concerning his death and the rescuing of the damsels from Zarza Tanque. In his effects she found two that he had written addressed to Lady Sabine Flaneur. She did not open them but enclosed them with one of her own telling of his deeds. Sir Fier had been infatuated with Lady Sabine whose elderly husband was dying of dropsy. It was providential in a way that Lady Sabine had had her leg broken by a stone thrown by a nun at Rues. Otherwise she would have been Morgana’s duenna and been in close contact with Sir Fier. Sir Fier had slain his chief rival for Sabine’s affections, the renegade Sir Leon Perdieu at Verston Manor. Not that Sabine had seemed interested in either of them! Naturally they invited Archon Takses and his wife to dine with them that evening but she let Tancred give them an account of their actions since leaving Charles. It rained a lot during the night but had become dry but overcast when they marched off after breakfast. She set out a new order of march with Depuis Jean guiding a party of six others on foot at the front. They were to look out for traps and deal with any attacking wild beasts. Her own mounted group followed with three knight’s destriers and the wagon just behind. After that came the spare steeds, led by the nine damsels and six Dimini Legionnaires, watched by Prominencia’s menie. Sir Dino Rinocero and his squad were the rear guard.
They had no problems all morning and managed to eat a travelling lunch halted on the track. There were the odd cries of jungle beasts but fewer than there had been at night. Dame Anise commented that she was becoming claustrophobic from the never ending wall of greenery on either side of the track. They did not see anyone or any animal, although a few birds flew away squawking. Such wind as there was did not get down to them at ground level. It was a good thing it was winter thought Morgana as the heat would be a sore trial in summer, especially for the plate armoured knights!
It was in the mid afternoon that they saw a group of figures on the track some way ahead! Waving a sword one shouts in kharsh shouts “Halt! Evil ones you must turn back north if you wish to still live! Only your graves lie this way! We of the three tribes decree it!”
(Only Depuis Jean & Morgana can understand Kharsh)
This when the action starts!
The whole column halted at Depuis Jean holding up his hand. He looked back at Marshal Morgana looking for guidance. She muttered “Anima Inquisito!” seeking if there were any enemies hidden either side of the track ahead. Hearing nothing she then shouted “We only wish for peaceful passage through your lands. Take me to your leader!”
“I Onimus am the leader here as far as you are concerned and am ordered to deny your passing!”
“Who is the leader who has given you these orders?”
“Then I wish to speak to him.” There followed a quick consultation amongst the group.
“Come forward alone then!”
To the astonishment of most of her menie within earshot Morgana replied, “It is not meet that I a female should come without at least one male escort?”
“Very well just the one.”
Immediately Sir Jean and Sir Louis volunteered to go if their destriers were brought up. But Morgana said “Sir Gilbert will do well enough wounded or no.” So the pair of them trotted forward hearing the blare of a trumpet and a horn from the Oblivians. Suddenly they realised that there was a large pit trap in front of them! Sir Gilbert and his destrier fell to the bottom, provoking laughter from those watching ahead. Morgana’s Harold managed to leap to the other side. Enraged Morgana shouted “Shimmer!” and drew out Taglier. Immediately ahead of her were a small horned humanoid and a centauress with a bent bow. The centauress froze in fright and Morgana clove her in two. The horned humanoid cast a spell “Radius Formidulosis!”, a Terror beam at her menie behind her so she slew him too. A satyr bearing a horn and a human trumpeter fled but the swordsman Onimus attempted to attack Morgana only to die in turn. Seeing no more foes she ordered her menie to haul the luckily unscathed Sir Gilbert out of the pit. Then they had to hack a path through the jungle large enough for the wagon to pass around it. This took nearly quarter of an hour before they could move onwards. As they passed a narrow cross tracks they spotted a wild creature, some sort of a dinosaur watching them from the one to the left. It remained stationary so they ignored it.
They soon spotted another group on the track ahead, three bowmen and a centaur archer. As they approached cautiously Toxo exchanged fire with them. Sir Louis stopped one arrow with his shield but Tancred received one taking some flesh out of his shin. A hit from Toxo’s longbow downed one of the bowmen. As they expected there was another pit trap in front of the enemy so the knights started to hack a path beside it. They found there were three light spearmen lurking in the jungle ready to oppose them. However at that moment another of Toxo’s arrows killed the centaur and they, with the two surviving bowmen took to their heels. Clarisse bandaged Tancred and applied a draught of the Artesian water to the wound. Morgana asked Mistress Primrose to send up some of her Dimini, to assist with hacking another pit side path. Then they all had half an hours rest to recover from their exertions. After they had not gone far when seeing evidence of another pit trap they cautiously approached it. Three spearmen then broke cover and ran off. “The other fugitives must have warned them of our strength!” suggested Sir Louis. However further back the watching dinosaur suddenly charged the Dimini and damsels who were leading the steeds and pack beasts! It was followed by some satyrs who had been controlling it. It pounced on the damsel Worre and hungrily began to devour her. The Satyrs engaged the Dimini and pack beasts in a remarkably clumsy way. Even the animals kicked them off. The Tennosaur and three were killed, three were crippled, one fled and another surrendered. Mistress Hedkah asked if the Tennosaur would be good to roast? “It was slain with poisoned weapons so it is better not to try it!” replied the Dimini cook Spune. Sir Louis suggested that the wounded satyrs should be thrown into the pit trap but they decided to leave them where they were.
After hacking another path round a pit they moved onwards. A brook crossing the track was no obstacle. The track then curved round to the right. Around the bend the leaders could see a clearing but with a wizard perched on a crag beside it. On the far side of the clearing stood a line of armed centaurs! “Go back to Narchad now or come on to die!” shouted the Wizard.
“We are not from Narchad! I am Morgana Lefey Marshal of Bara, who are you?”
“I am Wizard Whyman friend to the three tribes here. You are Bronwyn Sektarar of Narchad and you ride a blue painted horse!”
“Not so! I am Morgana Lefey.” And she ‘shimmered’ her gown which had faded out some time earlier. “How do I know that you are a wizard as you claim to be?”
“Everyone knows Bronwyn wears a purple shimmering gown! I am Wizard Whyman and this is Collel’s staff. If I touch you with it you will collapse!”
“If you come down you will see that my unicorn is no painted horse. I seek Doze Handor Culip.”
“To take him to Charles.”
“For his marriage to Maudette.”
“Yes she has chosen him out of all the suitors.”
“I thought she was Grand Duchess Maudette now?”
“Yes she is. Look it will be better if you come down closer.” So cautiously he descended from his crag and Morgana went forward to meet him. “If you are Morgana you should be Lawic as Bronwyn is Chaotic?” He cast a Scelta spell but it gave no result.
Morgana racked her brains for a means to convince him of her true identity. Then “‘Evoca Gapode Igual’” and the cherub materialised above her head trumpet at the ready. Wizard Whyman gasped, “So you are Lawic! I am sorry we were convinced otherwise. By him! Hold him fast!” and he turned and pointed with his staff at Sir Guido Orishnos who was in the middle of the row of Centaurs.
“She is indeed Morgana Lefey Marshal of Bara and a devotee of Mighty Valarian. As she has said she seeks Grand Duchess Maudette’s fiancé Doze Handor Culip.” confirmed Igual Gapode in Simnith.
“I regret that we have perforce inflicted heavy casualties on your friends to get here.” said Marshal Morgana.
“Their deaths are due to his treachery!” declared Wizard Whyman who then shouted out orders in the Wosha used by the Centaurs and other tribes of the jungle. Sir Guido was dragged from his horse and beheaded with the large sword carried by one of the centaurs.
“We seek your permission to camp here for the night learned Wizard? As I mentioned we seek Doze Handor who we think is lying wounded near the Valley of Bones.”
The wizard pondered for a moment. “You are welcome to camp here for the night. I had heard that there is some differences between Doze Handor and the Managua people. I shall ask the Kenturi to give you an escort to there.”
So they set up camp for the night in the rocky clearing. Wizard Whyman had arranged for Malem and two bow centaurs to escort them on the morrow. Malem was the sword armed centaur who had beheaded Sir Guido. The other centaurs had taken his horse which they intended to eat. They took the now freed satyr captive back towards the scenes of the fighting to recover the wounded and burn the dead. Wandril gave the satyr back his spear and a flask of poison antidote for his wounded comrades. The other six spears, sword and three self-bows with quivers they hid in the wagon. Mistress Primrose said that some could be given to arm the rescued damsels, once they were away from the centaurs.
Morgana invited Malem his two escorts and Wizard Whyman to dine with them that night. The centaurs were willing to try cooked food for a change, as they usually ate meat or herbage raw. Tancred the Talker being indisposed due to his wound, Morgana delegated telling the tale of their doings to Dame Anise.
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