01 December 2012

Who dares stand against his rightful lord?

18 November 1312

Our hunting party set forth from my Lord DeSpencer’s Fortwirth castle before dawn, planning to hunt the woods hard upon the Vesicarum Swamp. We had not yet approached the woods to the northwest when we encountered a fence! Someone had fenced the woods, blocking our progress and continuing around to the east before turning north along the edge of the swamp, terminating at the Larkhall Burn Bridge.
Of course we trampled the vile, illegal thing and continued into the woods, four spearmen in front, seven archers in the rear, and Commander Willard of Hawick astride Warbringer in command.
We had scarcely entered the woods when we heard a horn blowing from the northeast. Our archers on the right flank moved toward the swamp and sighted a group of villagers and a few pathetic huts on the far side of the loch. They appeared quite agitated, and were crossing the bridge as if to approach us. Meanwhile, Cdr Willard’s prized hunting dog Charger had indeed charged, into the thick forest due north of us, apparently (we thought) spotting game. The Cdr called to Charger, but to no avail, and turned his attention to the unknown, ordering the party to move east to determine the source and intentions of the horn and rabble of peasants.
The bloody fools from the village charged us straightway, attacking with pitiful farm tools, little more than sticks, really, and babbling some nonsense about “their lands” and “sacred forest.” ALL these lands, even these very peasants are the property of my Lord DeSpencer, duly granted by the King for long, brave and noble service! And these stupid, ungrateful vermin fence and hunt the forest without my Lord’s blessing? And even to attack my Lord’s most loyal and fearless commander?!?
Two archers stopped on the bridge and managed to bring down Jeffry of Newcastle upon Tyne, one of my Lord’s best archers, before we shot them through, but the archers could not be again brought to bear due to the close nature of the fight.. Our attention was so focused on the peasants that we didn’t notice until after the battle that two more archers (if you can call what these wretches carried “bows”), whom the dog had spotted, had taken down the archer on our left flank, he being Arthur Farrier, a boy of 14, but already a good marksman, a fine lad, he shall be missed, and his family the object of my Lord’s protection and blessing.
While our spearmen jousted with the peasants, the two archers who had flanked Arthur came in to attack, the Cdr’s dog right behind, snapping and snarling in splendid bestial fury. The narrow confines of the dirt path that ran between the woods and along that blasted fence made our superior numbers useless, as the peasants attacked two and sometimes three on one.
But they were so poorly equipped, and completely unarmored, they were quickly dispatched, but not before William Campbell, a Scot by birth, but a faithful subject of my Lord, was severely wounded. The remaining four or five peasants, apparently coming to their senses, fled in great haste back across the bridge and beyond, out of sight behind their huts of mud and dung and twigs.
Cdr Willard ordered the dwellings and fence fired, but we had little in the way of making such a large fire, and the fence was perpetually damp, being set hard upon the edge of the swamp, and with Campbell down, he assented to return to the castle, forestalling vengeance upon the wretched creatures who dared defy their rightful Lord!

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