The Severed Reality
Flight from Orlais
“Ser!” Someone called him, but he ignored it. Instead, focusing on the sight in front of him. “Ser!” The call came once again and with some reluctance he turned his head away from the sight. “Yes boy, what is it?” His voice sounded raw and angry. “Well… Ser… you see. The men ser. They are wondering where we are going. They seem to think we’re going the wrong way ser.”
Casting his gaze skyward, Guy sighed. “Do the men think so, or do you think so boy?” The young chevaliers face flushed red. “Well, I’m not sure ser. I’m sure you know best ser. But…” The lad trailed off. “Come on boy, out with it!” He barked.
Jumping to attention, the youthful warrior looked at his commander. “Ser! The route you seem to have us take would lead us into Ferelden ser! Why would we go there ser? There’s nothing but trouble there as well! And we’d be abandoning the people of Orlais! Did we not swear an oath of fealty to our Empress ser?”
Here we go… Guy mused with an annoyed sigh as the lad went on. “We are to protect the people of this land ser! Why would we seek out the barbaaah GAH!” Guy’s patience had worn out and he slapped the boy in the face. “You forget your place lad. We march for Ferelden because this old badger says so. And as long as I am in command you shall keep putting your legs in such a position that they keep getting closer and closer to the damn border!”
Several of the other chevaliers looked up at the outburst. The younger ones looked frightened while most of the older ones just looked amused. They had known Guy for a long time. Several had even served under him during the war with Ferelden 30 years ago.
Grabbing the boy by the shoulder, he turned him around so they faced the carnage together. The slaughter… He didn’t even know how they had survived this. He and his men had been sent out to investigate rumors of Dark Spawn. So they did. With a group of 50 chevaliers, Guy had been sent south, towards Val Firmin.
He had requisitioned one of the larger inns in a town and stationed his men there. From there he led and coordinated the search. His men had found nothing out of the ordinary. Of course they hadn’t. Guy had thought the entire thing a waste from the start.
But then, mere hours before he and his men were to return home he had sent out one last scouting party. Only of them returned, his body riddled with arrows. He had warned them of the imminent Dark Spawn wave that was heading this way and guessed they’d reach the city within a day or two.
At that point, Guy had taken his dagger and killed the man to end his suffering. The taint was already becoming evident in the man, so he had him burned straight away before taking command of the mayor’s office and the city watch.
Every man able to bear arms was conscripted straight away and he had them prepare. He ordered all the women and children to evacuate the city right away. Loading them onto any cart they could find as the men fortified the city walls and gate and made pitfalls and other traps to discourage anyone from reaching the walls.
When the horde finally arrived, he orchestrated a magnificent defense. Always being there wherever the fighting was toughest, encouraging chevalier and commoner alike to go the extra mile. Luck would have it that there had even been two mages sent on some important task by the Divine herself.
Under normal circumstances, despite being a devout Andrastian, Guy would have had his doubt about working with mages. They were dangerous even in the best of times! But now… Well, he couldn’t really afford to be picky right now.
Even after the women and children had been evacuated, he kept fighting. Buying them as much time to flee as any man could. In the end however, he had been forced to abandon Val Firmin. He took his men, and the mages east, towards the Dales. Drawing with them as many of the horde as they could.
Every Dark Spawn chasing them meant one less Dark Spawn chasing the civilians. One less Dark Spawn that would show up at the gates of Monstsimmard. Each and every single advantage he could buy for those people would be worth it.
At first it had not been that hard. They had their horses, meaning they could ride ahead. He assigned his best marksmen as tirailleurs, or skirmishers. They were to keep the enemy focused on Guy and his men. Harrying them with ambushes and running off before the enemy could get close.
When after several days, the Dark Spawn where no longer interested in them, Guy turned his men around, and charged straight into one of their camps. A furious charge so fast the monsters never even knew what hit them. They had been in and out without a single casualty. Some minor wounds, but nothing too serious.
Having drawn the hordes attention once again, they set out to flee. The Dark Spawn however, did not send a single group after them. No. A second army had been sent, whose purpose had been to get ahead of Guy’s small force and cut them off. They almost succeeded as well, but…
Well… the result of that was right in front of his eyes. Of the 50 men he had taken with him, only 15 still lived now. And the mages of course. Guy did not like nor trust them. But they had proved their worth a hundred times over in the past two weeks. At least two of the men still alive would not be with him had it not been for their help.
Most of their horses had died now as well. “Take a gander lad. And remember their sacrifice.” Patting him on the shoulder, Guy turned around calling to his men. “Alright! Listen up ladies! Check your equipment. If anything needs replacing, there’s a nice store of spare items right over.” He pointed over at the battle field.
Several of the men seemed to grew uneasy. “I know it’s despicable. Stealing from the dead. But they’re dead. And we’re not. They have less use for their boots and clothing then we do. So get going. Leave the food you find behind. You have no idea if it might be tainted by Dark Spawn blood.
After everyone is done, we march! Every man will carry his own weight, we shall not ride. I’d rather the few horses we have left keep some meat and fat in case we get hungry. Now, get going!” And with that, his men set off. Walking over to the mages, he squatted down next to them.
“Dorian, Damaf, I want each of you on a horse.” Dorian seemed like he wanted to start protesting but Guy silenced him by raising a hand. “No, I am not telling you to flee. I merely doubt you’d be able to keep pace with us if you don’t. I’m afraid we’ll need your skills again before long.”
The man gave an understanding nod, but it was Damaf that answered. “Of course my lord. There’s just… A forced march like this…” He looked at the man he was tending. “This one would have to be tied to the saddle and even then I’d doubt he would make it…” Biting his lip, Guy looked at the man. Ser Lefévre… Guy did not know the man personally, but he had made it this far…
“Ser…” The wounded man looked up. “Leave me behind my lord. Our supplies were already running thin. You WILL need to use the horses I’m afraid ser.” Guy remained silent as he nodded. Lefévre was one of the older men under his command and while Guy did not know him personally, during the war with Ferelden, the man been known for his insight.
“Please ser. Do what must be done.” Closing his eyes as Guy grabbed his dagger the man looked away. “I’m sorry. Truly I am. If I had been a better commander… maybe…” At that, Lefévre’s eyes shot open as he took hold of Guy’s arm.
“Ser. Do not say that. You did what you could. And I am proud to have served under you. I shall reserve a seat for you at the Makers side my lord. You will have earned it. Now, please.” With a solemn look, Guy plunged his dagger into the man’s heart.
Looking around, he saw his men were done. “Alright, listen up!” He shouted as he rose to his feet. “The road back to our beloved Val Royeaux is currently denied to us. So we march for Ferelden! This is a threat to all of Thedas. We cannot stand alone, and we can do nothing to help. So we shall do what we can do!”
The men looked at him, wondering what he would say. Taking his sword from its sheath, he raised it above his head, as a beacon of hope. “We can survive! And we shall! Until the moment is there were we CAN do something to aid our beloved Orlais! The moment where we can make those Dark Spawn bastards pay dearly for what they did!”
A roar went up from his men and he gave an imperceptible nod to acknowledge for himself that his words had struck home. “Now then!” He shouted as he swung his sword downward, pointing it to the east. “We march!”