“Against the Fell Hand”
The Bordermen, with their new allies, the mercenary company Dark Horse, moved against the Fell Hand. The Hand, led by a robber knight, Roland Riddle, had made off with the mercenary’s horses, and several of the band were either killed or had gone missing during the brief conflict.
Riddle’s forces were spread throughout the valley, so the Bordermen opted to split into three units. Edmund, with their Mortainne hostage in tow, commanded the Stewarts and marched them in formation up the valley trail. Byron rallied the Archers, taking up position on the highest ground, ready to unleash a ranged assault against their foes. Arthur, along with Sir Garrett Mark, took the rest of the Dark Horse and stealthily crept up on the makeshift corral where the Fell Hand held the stolen mounts.
Arthur moved first, seeking to secure the horses and return them back to the Dark Horse camp. While they were able to liberate half of the mounts, Sir Garrett was severely poisoned during the melee that ensued as the Fell Hand descended quickly on Hawke’s operation.
Byron supplied critical ranged support, felling several of the advancing bandits, losing only one of his archers, their healer, Morticia Masters, to the cruel hand of a particularly vexing adversary, a one-eyed bowman, who, while crafty, Byron was able to severely wound.
Edmund’s footmen set up a solid line of defense, beating back the advance of the Fell Hand brigands, as several were dispatched or sent scurrying, while Edmund’s spear work hampered and harried all who came within range of his attacks.
Riddle called for a tactical retreat, leading Edmund to advance on him where Stewart attempted to parley with the robber knight, eventually coming to terms — three champions would meet in combat.
If Riddle’s chosen won the field, the Bordermen would return the horses they’d liberated, and their own mounts, as well as whatever coin they possessed, and swear an oath to not take up arms against those under the Fell Hand banner for all the days to come.
Should the Bordermen win, Riddle would return the stolen horses and hostages in his care and he and his bandits would swear fealty to the Bordermen and ride north with them to the Keep on the Borderlands.
The champions were chosen. For the Bordermen, it would naturally fall to Edmund, Arthur, and Byron. Against them, the Fell Hand’s inglorious leader, Roland Riddle stepped forward, along with a rapier and dagger wielding Dermond Billet, and the vexing bowman, Callus Verner, who was eager to avenge the death of his young son at the hands of Fletcher’s ranged attacks.
All that was left was to determine the rules. While two out of three was called for, the exact nature of the fight still remained to be determined…
to be continued