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Chapter 4

This was not going well at all. The sergeant assigned to retrieve 1242 was one of the warden’s men. He was a large brutish man smart enough only to know where his best interests lay when dealing with orders from the warden. While the amended orders had reached the man’s hands intact, no doubt there was an understanding between the two should 1242 try to escape or attack some men or any other situation that may arise resulting in the death of the prisoner. They were well on their way now so there could be no replacing or last minute changes.

Since the last war the militia and the orders of knights have been on joint duty. That is to say that the militia has been little more than men and women from local population, given weapons and told to defend their homes. During the last conflict the knights bolstered the training, armor and weapons skills of the local militia wherever they have a command center. Knights and militia generally get along well, but there are raw spots, especially when it comes to guarding prisoners. Local militia is used to keep the prisoners inline, but they report to knight wardens who report to their order. The militia sees this as slap in the face. They must guard dangerous men and women, kept in their midst, but with no control over how the prisons function. While this is the most common rubbing spot it isn’t the only one. Subsequent battles and fierce wars have tempered many of the veterans of the militia. Unfortunately, the knighthood has nothing in place to recognize these heroes. To be a knight one must be born into an existed knighted family. There has been no new knighting for the last thousand years. A practice that the knights claim has kept the order strong. The militias see it as elitist and also a way to keep those in the militia from rising too highly in the ranks, especially those with views not concurrent with those of the orders.

It is this that concerns the knight. He can’t be sure how the militia will respond should a problem arise. Looking through the ranks the knight sees some friendly faces, but too few should a skirmish result and knight face knight. Besides, there should be no reason to spill any blood on this mission. Too late he realizes that he should have kept his mouth shut when speaking with the warden. Maybe then he wouldn’t be so ready to loose his minions on 1242.

“Nothing that can be done about it now.” He thinks, shifting uncomfortably in his saddle, his armor clanking in time with the cantering horse. There is a small village up ahead where they will bed down for the night. Perhaps he can slip away early and catch up with 1242 before the rest of the contingent awakes. To be safely on his way back to the prison with 1242 would be the best possible outcome.

The detachment makes its way slowly through the small village, searching houses, root cellars and the like. It is tedious work, but it must be handled delicately. There’s no need to rouse the villagers into frenzy over an escaped prisoner or worse an escaped former knight.

While searching one property he overhears two brothers arguing about the loss of a meat pie to a beggar or thief last knight. They are sorely upset because the meat had been fresh and now one of them must go hunting to procure a new kill. It’s a day wasted when there are fields to be plowed.

The knight approaches and starts to question them. “You saw this man, this thief take your pie?”

“Na”, answers the younger. We saw him runnin away with it though. Chased him past the end of the property.”

“Thought I had him too, but suddenly he just sorta disappeared into the night.” The older chimes in.

“Where did you last see him?” The knight continues. Both point to the far Eastern corner of the field.

“It’s a shame really. There was at least four silver worth a meat in that pie. Not easy to come by in these parts.” The brother finishes.

“Well, if I stumble across a full, but slow thief I will make sure to get you your two silver back.” The knight says half smiling, knowing full well that there is no animal healthy or otherwise that these two could bring down that would be worth four silver.

The younger brother starts to say something, but is quickly silenced by the older with a short jab to the ribs. He knows that two silver will buy many meat pies unlike the one coppers worth of meat that they had in their sorely missed meal. The older brother, knowing that he is coming out the better, keeps quiet and politely excuses them both, lest they start flapping their mouths and talk themselves out of whatever silver they may have had coming. The knight makes a dismissive wave over his right shoulder and makes his way back to the end of the field. Carefully climbing over the fence he mulls around the back end of the property until he finds a nearly imperceptible set of footprints leading off into the woods. They are not easy to spot, but a trained tracker wouldn’t miss the out of place rocks or the torn moss. He is going to follow them, but then stops. The armor he is wearing might as well be a church bell. Quickly he takes off the plate, leaving only the padding on. He thinks for a moment to go back and get his chain mail, but then decides that 1242 isn’t out to hurt anyone. Chain would be unnecessary.

He stacks the plate up in military fashion and covers it with leaves lest the two boys come back, find his armor and make off with more than the two silver he offered them. Once sure that his armor is well hidden he follows the footsteps. He must be quick. Day is fading and he doesn’t want to be alone in the woods. While 1242 might not be willing to do him harm, there are plenty of bandits and thieves in these woods that wouldn’t be so understanding.

Following the steps through the wood he is careful to make sure he isn’t followed. He wants enough time to be able to try and diffuse this situation. Shortly he come across a clearing containing some ruffled leaves, one empty pie tin and a fire that is at least six hours old. Rubbing his head he then makes his way slowly back to the detachment. He needs to find 1242 and he needs to find him quickly. Luckily, he believes he knows where he is going.

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The following comments are for "Name Forgotten, Grave Unknown - Chapter 4"
by wrath186

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