Oca 11

War For A Rose: 1459

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Four years had passed since St. Albans, and the small battle there between the House of York and House Lancaster on 22nd May 1455, where the Yorkists triumphed over the Lancaster army based there and captured King Henry VI in the battle. Bartand and Lady Lott “Pixie” had evaded Yorkist forces and safely made it back to Lancaster controlled lands.There they made their goodbyes, hoping and intending to meet once more when Mason thought it the time to partner them both together for an assignment.They had not met again since the day they departed from one another’s company, Lady Lott returned to Court with her noble family with her orders from Mason in the interests of King VI and House Lancaster. Bartand’s last orders from Mason were simply “Keep yourself content Bartand, go to the coast and work to protect the trade merchant’s ships at sea against the French. I will contact you when you are needed once again in this war.”Bartand simply did just that, travelling to Dover and Southampton in search of Sellsword work. He found it, with merchants who were having problems and troubles with French raiding parties in the English Channel.Trade ships transporting valuable goods from England to Europe, and vice versa. Good trade, and good profit came from it which was why they were hiring Sellswords and men to protect their ships at sea.Bartand spent the next four years at sea protecting ships against the French, and fought for coin as best he knew.September 1459, The English Channel, A Few Miles off of The French CoastlineBartand stood on deck, on the ship Merryweather looking out into the sea at a blur on the horizon. However the blur was moving and moving fast towards Bartand and the crew of the Merryweather.”Alright lads; axes, swords, and bows at the ready. These French bastards are coming at us again, and will be here soon enough.” Bartand roared out, commanding the small force of armed guards aboard the ship.This wasn’t the first battle Bartand had been involved in, with these men. The Merryweather had been at sea for almost three months, trading between France and even Germany with English goods. Majority of the piracy stemmed from the French coast, and most of the skirmishes Bartand fought in were along the Calais coast. In the four years he worked for the merchants and the trading companies, Bartand had cut down more than his share of pirates and only a handful of times was he forced to abandon the ships he was on due to fire, or pirates outnumbering them.Bartand wore faded blue breeches, his swordbelt hanging loosely at his hip. His boots were faded from the salt water, and air. He chose not to wear armor in battle aboard ships at sea, even the ships he protected. It made him a big target on the ship for the attacking pirates, and the armor weighed the wearer down against the cold wind and the sudden jerks and movements of the ship in the water.It was also too risky to wear armor aboard a moving vessel at sea, and attempting to fight off attackers. All it would take were a swipe from a sword or an axe, sending the wearer of the armor overboard into the waters below where the weight of the armor would double in the waters and pull the man down below and drown him in a painful death, as he would attempt to get the armor off while underwater.He told his men the same thing, but it took a battle to convince the stubborn ones; many of their fellow guards falling into the waters in their armor and drowning. After that battle, they took Bartand’s advice to heart and were now wearing the same as he was; simple shirt and breeches with their swordbelts.The air was crisp, and windy with a slight sun shinning down on them from between the clouds.The crews of all the vessels Bartand served on, went by calling him Sir Bartand even though they did not know if he held lands, or titles but it was a mark of respect from the men who served with him and in battle saw his skill.Bartand had saved a few of the men now standing alongside him, from death at the hands of the French pirates.”Archers, prepare to dot their hull with arrows and strike anyone you can see on their decks. They’ll barge us with the full force of their vessel, and board us!” Bartand ordered, the half dozen archers who wielded their longbows and crossbows aiming them, or loading them with bolts.The archers aboard the vessel, aimed their bows high in the air and memerising their training and experience of distance, aimed to allow the arrows to drop onto the ship from above.The blur was now clear and coming upon them hard, the hull of the incoming enemy ship bored slightly into the air like a knife out of water directed at them. The water rushing and splashing around the tip of the hull, like blood dripping off of a blade.”Archers, litter their decks with bolts! Slaughter those French bastards!” Bartand shouted unsheathing his steel sword, with a bolbol of red metal at its pommel. The archers on command loosed arrows at the French boat, the arrows flying high into the air as they turned and came down sharp into the French ship’s deck and hull.The arrows splintered, and bored into the wood as Bartand could see some of the shapes of men aboard the French vessel drop and not get up again.”Thats it lads pin the fucking French bastards to their decks!” Bartand shouted, but even with the arrows raining down on the French ship it continued bearing down on them readying to board the English vessel by force.”Small arms out now! They are bearing down on us, prepare for boarding!” Bartand qripped his steel sword hard, with both hands on the hilt.The French ship was now simply yards away, as the large hull of the ship now dotted with arrows came down crashing onto the deck of the Merryweather.The sudden blow, make the Merryweather shake violently, sending a few of the men-at-arms on the deck sprawling to the floor, but Bartand held his balance. As the movements settled, Bartand helped a man clutching his bow to his feet.”No arrows now, we’re too close for that! Sword out now!” He ordered the man, gaining his balance again. He threw down his bow, bursa escort and on Bartand’s advice unsheathed his daggers; two of them in hand.The French vessel crashed into the front of the Merryweather sending the attacking vessel, to crash side by side alongside the English ship. Bartand thought that was excellent sailing.The grappling hooks came overhead, and over the bannisters of the ship’s side hooking onto the Merryweather pulling it alongside the French ship.Bartand turned and saw men in armor breast plates, leather jerkings and other armors carrying weapons climb onboard the Merryweather.”To arms! With me!” Bartand called out over, the salt sea and the sounds of wind.The men turned on his order alongside him, several of his fellow guards armed and clutching clubs, swords, axes and daggers.The French pirates climbed aboard, pulling their fellow pirates aboard in aid.Bartand dashed across the deck towards the French pirates, and centering on one wielding a war axe brought his steel sword down with both hands striking the man’s breast plate with a clash of steel on steel.The Frenchman wobbled backwards, attempting to bring up his sword to block Bartand’s strikes but as expected the sudden movements of the ships on water made it impossible for the man wearing such a large thick metal armor plate from standing his ground stable.Bartand sensing his chance, brought his sword back up and down striking the man’s bare and unprotected arm striking flesh hard, tearing it almost off. The Frenchman recoiled in pain, as blood spluttered covering the deck heavily.Bartand struck one more, with his sword this time across the man’s exposed throat as he had his head high to scream out.The blow literally tore out the man’s throat, sending blood and flesh to the decks of the ship. The Frenchman slumped to the floor motionless, as Bartand turned breathing hard and sweating on his brow he saw the skirmish unfold aboard.The archers onboard, had thrown down their bows and had taken to their swords and daggers.The fighting was mainly kept at the bannisters of the ship, if the French got into the centre of the upper deck they would have control of the ship from there.”Keep them away from the cabins!” Bartand shouted over the clash of steel and iron.A guard Bartand could call a friend, who he drank with regularly when they docked was pressed into the bannisters of the Merryweather under attack by a large French pirate clad in leather from neck to toe.The large breastplate the man wore was made of rough sewn leather, held together roughly.Bartand ran to aid the man, and brought his sword down the back of the Frenchman’s leather armor splitting it open and the backflesh of the man underneath. He squeeled, the flesh opening like an orange would be sliced open. Blood began to seap down the man’s torn armor and his back, before the guard Bartand had helped grabbed hold of the French pirate and threw him over the bannister of the ship into the sea below.The numbers of the French pirates boarding the Merryweather dwindled, due to Bartand’s training and leadership with the crew. Soon the French were all killed, their bodies strewn across the deck of the ship. There were a few straglers left, a few of the men finished them off sliting their throats. Their screams and shouts for mercy, for aid were met with steel.”Search the men, take what loot they have on them before we search their ship. We will be pushing off from their wreckage within the hour men.” Bartand said aloud over the screams of pain and suffering.The looting followed the battle, the guards left searched the corpses of the French pirates. The Merryweather crew lost just three men, which was good fortune for Bartand and those who hired him.”Three dead Sir Bartand, not too bad for a day in the English Channel.” One of the crewmen said to Bartand, with a smile.Bartand wiped his steel sword clean of the blood he drew, and slid it back inside its scabbard.Bartand as fit a soldier, knew he was entitled to the loot of the men he killed and so found the first man he killed. The Frenchman who wore his steel chest plate, he was lying on his stomach motionless with a pool of blood beneath him.He grabbed hold of the corpse’s sides, and flipped him onto its back. Bartand was used to murder and death, the stench and the image of blood did not falter him even with the throat gaping open.Bartand turned out the corpse’s pockets, and found a few French coins.Bartand thought.I can sell these coins to the French merchants when we make port or perhaps use them to buy me some wine. My headaches are worsening, but the wine helps.Bartand turned out the man’s pockets and found nothing more except some foul meat and bread wrapped in linen. He checked the man’s breast plate, it was good steel and still useable with blue markings across it and a few scratches but it would fetch good coin at a market.He literally ripped it off the dead man’s body, undoing the straps around the man’s armpits. He slid it off, and threw it to the deck. He found the man’s longsword, it had a jewelled pommel and felt good steel, even after striking it on his own sword.Bartand thought.I could break loose the jewels and sell them, keep the sword for myself or sell it in its entirety to some trader. I will decide at port.Soon the hour passed, among the corpses aboard the Merryweather every crewman earned a good few coins, or something worthwhile to trade. The ship before being pushed off, was found to contain stolen goods from other ships the pirates had succesfully targeted. Everything from fine linens, silver, gold, rich wines that would fetch a high price to merchants.Bartand observed the goods, listed them for value and began to move the goods aboard the Merryweather with his men’s help.”Jesus, the goods aboard their vessel are worth hundreds in coin. We may even get a raise in coin from the merchants for our work.” A crewman laughed beaming with excitement.Bartand did not share his excitment.”I doubt it my friend, the merchants we work for are not known for their charity not bursa escort bayan even to the men who steer their ships or defend them. Even if we return to Southampton docks with what we found, they will not share a single coin with us. They’ll pocket this, and send you all on another ship bound for Calais.” The man’s smile disappeared as the truth set in.”Bastards and we did all the work! We retrieved stolen goods from these French bastards, and we don’t even get a share of it.” The man babbled.Bartand smiled, a smile all knowing of the reality of the situation; one he had been in more times in the past than he could count on a single hand. As a sell sword he had been betrayed more times that he could count, both in battle and after. As a sell sword he worked for a fee, but that fee never changed regardless of how well he performed his skills in the field. He could slew an entire army, but he was held in contempt by soldiers of the Lords that he served. He was a Sellsword and his loyalty was valued only by those willing to pay the coin, and most suspected and feared he would turn to the faction offering the better coin.This always made soldiers keep him at distance, none drinking with him or even breaking a meal with him.He stayed with other fellow Sellswords, even pirates and smugglers under the Lord’s orders. He broke bread with notorious pirates who ravaged the coasts, but whom also had the boats and ships the armies needed to sail for battle.Smugglers who were renowned for their skills in avoiding the Royal navy at sea as they smuggled goods and illicit trades.It was unusual for Lords and ladies of Noble Houses to see, but they feared him and only looked for him to do what he was being paid to do.It made him the way he was, keeping a distance from those he fought with.They pushed off the French vessel from the Merryweather, and made their way back to Southampton with both their own cargo intact and the cargo they retrieved.September 1459, Southampton Docks, EnglandThe docks were busy, smoking pires where fisherman cooked their finds on burning coals and cook fires. Traders sold their wares from wagons, stalls and even carried them around hailing for customers to see what they were selling.The Merryweather docked against the wooden dock, and tied up by its crew.Bartand carrying his loot in his large satchel filled to the brim with the steel armor he took from the dead French pirate, and even jeweled sword that he planned to sell as well as the French coins he was sure he could find a French trader to sell to.Bartand disembarked from the Merryweather along the gang plank onto the docks, the salt sea air filling his nostrils as he looked at the large port which was Southampton. He had been back here almost three months before, setting sail with the crew of the Merryweather to Europe. Now things seemed to be different, a new air to the port and it was clearly visible even to him and the crew; Royal soldiers patrolling in numbers and rank around the docks. Double, perhaps even triple the number of soldiers he had seen three months before.Bartand spotted a fisherman, selling his wares from his wagon on a bed of stones soaked in cold water to keep the fish fresh through the day, and he was cooking the fish on a cook fire nearby to sell ready edible fish to anyone with coin.The man looked to be in his forties, balding but with a thick white beard stretching almost down to the collar of his grey dirty shirt.He was gutting a fish one moment, and just as quickly he was leant over the cook fire smoking a fish for a waiting customer.”You there, fisherman. Why such a busy day at port, what brings the Royal soldiers here?” Bartand asked humphing the satchel laden with loot over his shoulder.The fisherman looked up, handing the man his cooked fish with a knife onto a clay plate and pouring some sauce over the fish for the customer before turning back to gutting his fish. The customer walked away swallowing chunks of blackened cooked fish. The fisherman with his knife cut open the fish’s gut and began to empty its insides into a basket.”Where have you been these past weeks Sir, do you not know the news spreading all over England?” He asked Bartand.Bartand pulled his swordbelt up, as it slipped down.”I’m afraid Sir, I have been at sea protecting galleys and trade vessels against French pirates. Will you tell me this news Sir?” Bartand explained.The fisherman smiled with missing teeth, and gummy.”I would Sir, if a man would buy my wares I think a hungry mercenary needs a good bit of fish in him after such a long time at sea.” The pry fisherman grinned, knowingly trying to sell his fish to Bartand in exchange for information free to anyone asking.Bartand smiled, smelling the fish smoking.The wry sly old fool, trying to make me buy his fish for such free news. Although… that fish is smelling really good, hes put spices and pepper on it. I haven’t had a real meal in weeks aboard the Merryweather.Bartand slipped a single copper coin from his purse, and handed the fisherman it.”Fine you win fisherman, give me one of your smoked salmon you have over there cooking.”The fisherman smiled, and began to break up the fish on the cook fire sprinkling spices and salt onto it, before placing it on a crude clay plate and handed it to Bartand.Bartand gingerly took grasp of the clay plate, and shoved a mouthful of seared smokey fish between his teeth chewing the hot meat.”Information fisherman, I kept my end of the trade.” Bartand said between gasps of pain from the hot fish meat on his tongue and lips.The fisherman smiled conceeding.”Alright sellsword, word is the truce between the King and the House of York is failing after four years of peace. Both the King and the House of York are recruiting soldiers and armed supporters to their cause, preparing for war it seems once more. Queen Margaret herself is raising an army from noblemen across all of England. The House of York are finding support among those against the King, it won’t be long before another battle will be fought. If you ask escort bursa me, England has enjoyed its peace why must we go to war once more.” The fisherman claimed, placing the fish he gutted onto the cook fire and allowed it fry.Bartand listened intently biting down chunks of the spiced salmon, pulling out his leather canteen of water and washed down the fish.”Thank you Sir, for both the fish and your news.” Bartand bid the man farewell, but the fisherman was already gutting another fish from the wagon to cook once gutted. Bartand began to walk along the docks, looking out into the English sea.Abruptly soldiers shoved past Bartand, almost making him drop his fish but he held onto it as the soldiers walked past. Bartand looked back to see them, they were the King’s men wearing the sigil of House Lancaster and a lesser Lord’s sigil loyal to the King. They wore chainmail and surcoats, carrying spears, swords and even bows intent on getting somewhere in a hurry.The man who barged into Bartand, as he walked away turned to look at Bartand before shouting over the sound of heavy footsteps from the men’s boots.”Watch where you step Sellsword!””Is that how Royal soldiers act in the presence of the king’s people?” I said aloud, the column of soldiers stopped marching and the pious soldier who barged Bartand turned to him.”Did I not just tell you to watch your step, now must it be your fucking tongue!” The Royal soldier stepped out of column and turned to face Bartand.Bartand had his hand on the pommel of his steel sword, he did not want to fight the King’s soldiers but the soldier should have apologised.”Are you a bastard, as well as a money grubbing mercenary!” The soldier padded over to Bartand, as the soldier took hold of his sword Bartand simply unsheathed his own steel sword.”I advise you soldier, I fight for your King as well and I don’t think your liege Lord would take satisfaction in knowing you spoke to others like this including a sellsword I think he would hire into the King’s service. I am in all my rights to defend myself against attack soldier.” Bartand rehersed.The soldiers turned alongside each other to face Bartand, hands on their pommels.Bartand had one hand on his steel sword, and his own resting on the dagger sheated on his belt. Bartand was well trained and versed with swords, daggers, bows and even axes so he could fight with two weapons at a time.”If you feel like you need to answer steel with steel soldier, then come at me then. We will see who walks home tonight, to their wives. I’ll wager you could kill me, but I shall take most of you with me to the halls of the dead.” Bartand said gripping his steel sword in one hand, and in the other the dagger.The Royal soldiers did not move, they were not stupid and knew from the way Bartand stood and presented himself that he was experienced, well trained and could match all of them in combat.”Like I said sellsword, watch your step next time. The King’s soldiers have duties to attend to, and you will not deter them.” The captain of the soldiers said, turning on his heel and began marching away with the rest of the column attempting to catch up pace.Bartand sighed, he wasn’t happy he wanted a fight; to take out his frustations. But this fight, it was better he had avoided it; attacking a Royal soldier brought down the King’s justice which was beheading for such a crime. He didn’t want to lose his head for fighting a few King’s cloaks.Bartand looked out into the English sea, as seagulls flew overhead quarking he ate his fish.”So you still think the need to pick a fight with just about anyone don’t you.” A female voice called from behind him. Bartand turned slightly to see the girl speaking to him, but even her voice triggered a memory; he knew who it was before he even turned around completley.She stood in a grey and white dress, tightly fitting around her chest and waist with a bodice around her upper torso over the dress made of leather and bound tight with strings pushing her breasts up to the air.Her short blonde hair was now braided, but shielded by her cowl pulled over her head, with her blue piercing eyes bearing down on Bartand.She was smiling slightly, as she wore her own swordbelt discreetly beneath her robes, and a dagger swung in its scabbard on her hip.”Lady Lott, by god I haven’t seen you in four years. You have changed haven’t you.” Bartand observed, noticing her slightly bigger bust, more womanly legs and hips but also the complexion she wore on her face more shrewder.”Nor have I Bartand, I did not think I would find you at the docks protecting trade ships at sea. The duty suits your… demeanor I would say.” She smiled beaming.She is still as coy as ever it seems, god she has not lost her beauty that is obvious.Bartand thought.”Well I always thought a life at sea, beyond me but it has kept me busy these last four years Ma’Lady.”Lady Lott, also known as “Pixie” to some for her cute and petite body and frame smiled.”I think we have both changed Bartand, come walk with me.” Pixie beamed, her eyes awash with blue sea in them. Bartand nodded and followed her as they walked along the dock edge.”I wonder Ma’Lady what brings you here to Southampton?” Bartand mused.Lady Lott looked over at Bartand, as they walked side by side.”War, i’m afraid Bartand. Our King’s war to be exact, Mason sent me to find you. We have been given a task by him.” She said walking, her heels clicking on the stone cobbles. Bartand took a moment to stare at her legs, encased in white cotton stockings.”I had heard of war coming, once we docked the Merryweather. I saw more Royal soldiers patrolling these docks, than I did three months ago when I sailed off. Also a local spoke of both the Queen and House of York recruiting soldiers for war.” Bartand explained his own account of events since landing.Pixie nodded gently as they walked.”It is true, Queen Margaret is rallying support from the noblemen and those loyal to the King as House York finds support among the commoners. This past year has seen a lot of heated exchanges between the King and those of House York. Lords loyal to both sides are calling in their bannermen, buying sellswords even. War is coming once more Bartand, Mason knows this and he wants us to target a Lord loyal to the Yorkists. A Lord by the name of Walters, of Dover.

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