Hast seen the white knights as they march past? Tell me, hast sighted the black footmen that follow as night follows day? Hast seen the cross of blood that binds them together?
Tell me, have you seen the Order of the Temple?
The night was deep, and there was silence on the part of men; only the sounds of nature could be heard on the old path that ran through the forest. Day was done, and most travelers were well indoors, in inns or the homes of farmers who would house them for the night. For it was perilous to be about in the dark.
But the sound of hooves could be heard, and the slapping sound of mail and padding. The lone horseman was clad in a black mantle, the hood back from his brimmed helm. The mantle was drawn close about him, and the red cross at his left breast stood starkly out, even in the night. He traveled at a brisk cantor, and neither man nor horse seemed at ease, despite the arms on man and horse.
The night was perilous even for the brave and knightly.
His gaze roved from one side of the forest to the other as he rode, almost expecting arrows to fly from the shadows; any native to this land would have told you how likely such occurrences were, even for armed soldiers.
But perhaps this soldier was held higher than the others, or else he was plain lucky, for the forest yielded none of its perils, and presently he reached a clearing, reining in his horse and dismounting. Although he was not now alone, he seemed to be more relaxed. Five men stood off the road; four clad the same as the rider. The other two were clad in while mantles, and wore sugarloaf great helms.
One of them spoke as the black rider walked forwards.
“Is the location spotted and scouted, brother?” he asked, his voice deep, with a courtesy that seemed inherent to it.
“I have looked, and have found it to be so, lord commander; the bandits have little regular sentries, and are fattened by their latest raids.”
“It is well then,” the white clad commander said. “We can move out, take them unaware. Come, lord brothers, On behalf of God.”
“On behalf of God,” came the muted response from the others as they mounted; the scout without complaint despite the lack of rest. But although they were swift in leaving, they moved at a relatively slow pace. The white clad knight leading them beckoned the scout to his side.
“What approach shall we take, brother?” he asked.
“The brigands have set their camp in the foothills, commander; it has good tree cover, and several caves. They have set up their main camp in a shallow valley between two spurs of mountain, where they have a fire pit, and several crude cabins. Normally, they would have one or two sentinels, but tonight they are too wasted from their raiding to care. One drunken sentinel badly placed, mayhap two.”
“It will not be the easiest target, brother. Not all are drunk, and they greatly outnumber us,” the commander cautioned, more to himself than to the scout. His brow set in a frown under his helmet.
“We will arrive in a minute, commander,” the scout said softly. In response, the knight held up his hand and gave a sharp, but still muted, command to halt.
“Brother Sergeants, you will follow on foot. The knights shall lead the charge. The infidels are smitten by their greed, and offer no organized watch. We shall scatter and confound them, and you shall smite upon them.”
“On behalf of God,” the others responded, and they set off, the sergeants leaving their horses behind.
The camp gradually spread out in front of the riders’ eyes, the glow of a few fires through the spaced out pines, the dim shapes of a few buildings; most importantly, the sounds of human life. The two knights quickened their pace, shifting into a swift cantor.
To the bandits, there was nothing more startling; one moment the peace of the night and the warmth and heat of the fires enveloped them, the next horsemen crashed through, scattering the fire and thrusting several unlucky brigands through with their lances. Bodies crashed about, to their feet or to the ground, some stumbling around drunkenly, not knowing whether to fight, flee, or just collapse. The knights vanished out of the fire area after the charge, leaving the bandits a few seconds of respite, a chance that was lost in the general confusion. Skillfully maneuvering, the two knights split and charged back into the clearing, one from each side. Two more bandits collapsed before they were gone.
Even still, they had not yet routed, now trying to form some defense even in their unreadiness. The knights’ tactic of hit and run, while confusing and line-breaking, could not achieve the carnage that a pitched attack would have, and there were still over a dozen men left. But even as they—somewhat—armed themselves, the main Templar force arrived. Bolts flew out of the trees, piercing two more bandits, and even as they looked towards this new threat the four black-clad warriors charged headlong into the fight. Outnumbered three to one though they were, they had a clear advantage over the unarmored, ill armed ruffians they faced. Several fell in the first clash, and the cries of the wounded outweighed the sounds of weapons clashing. Hardly a half minute into the fight, and the six remaining bandits broke, fleeing for their lives. Surprisingly, the four Templar did not pursue, quietly watching the ruffians flee. Two of them unslung crossbows, reloading them. To them, the fight was done. Cries rang out from the forest, and the Brother Sergeants knew that the fight was done for those remaining brigands, ended on the points of the swords and lances of the two Templar knights lying in wait.
Mayhap not fitting the theme Pathfinding that well, I needed the flash fiction goal to get me to finish this. The title goes to my brother, who also tused 'infidel' in the same sense as this story (bandits being infidels, sorta a loose usage). But I'm rambling.
Edited by Zarayna: The Quiet Light, Mar 01 2013 - 07:58 PM.