With Honor, part 1

With Honor

by Leigh Townsend

Part 1

Sergeant Matthew Lewis enjoyed riding through Diaea, especially when his troop was unburdened by infantry to slow them.  The wagons carrying their gear hindered them slightly, but the cavalry mounts benefitted from the comfortable pace set by the draft horses.  At their current speed Matthew’s chocolate gelding could walk all day without tiring.  There was no reason to rush; this troop of skirmishers was traveling to the border on a routine assignment, reinforcing the rest of their company already working on the problem of bandits in the northern mountains.

The troop was spread out, allowing room for merchant wagons and other locals to share the road.   One of the mandates of the Diaean Army was to maintain the goodwill of the people of Diaea, and not taking up the entire pathway was an easy way to keep to that goal.  When the army had expanded, this and several other new ideals instituted by King Marden had made it easier for the civilian population to accept and support their growing military.  The son and heir of King Stefan, Marden had been a peaceful man, much like his father, but had shown an aptitude for military strategy.  His legacy was a larger, more organized, and more efficient army.  While the Army revered King Stefan as much as everyone, they held a special place in their hearts for his son.  Marden’s son, Brannon, held the throne now, but King Marden’s reputation lived on in the Army.

As they rode, quiet except for the creaking of leather, Matthew mentally worked on assignments for tomorrow.  It was his unit’s rotation of rear guard and wagon protection.  They may be riding through their own countryside, but good soldiers never forgot to set a guard.  It was up to him to decide which soldier took each position tomorrow. 

Lieutenant Fisher kept a three-day rotation for the units under his command, a standard practice in the Diaean army.  One unit would scout, another guard, and the third would have a “rest” day.  This last group was responsible for the overnight watches on their day.  The rotation changed at midnight, meaning the watch was split between two units each night.  No matter what their daily assignment, every soldier was responsible for setting up his own camp and caring for his own horses.

Matthew finalized the next day’s assignments in his head just in time to see one of Sergeant Graham’s scouts galloping hard down the road.  As he neared, headed for his commanding officer, Lieutenant Fisher stood in his stirrups and waved to the other two sergeants.  Nodding in response, Matthew nudged his gelding into a trot toward the front of the line. 

“There’s something on fire – a lot of smoke,” the scout said to the four officers as he saluted.  “Davis and Hayes went up ahead to check it out.”

“Graham, Lewis, take your units in that direction immediately.  I’ll be coming with you.  Young, keep your unit with the wagons and spare mounts,” Lieutenant Fisher ordered.

Saluting his response, Matthew turned his horse back towards his unit.  Graham’s team rode out as he was issuing orders; on scout and sentry duty, they were already prepared.  “Fall in, soldiers, we are heading for the next village with haste.  Bows at the ready, no arrows.  Head out!”

Following his own command, Matthew unslung his bow from its usual position and hooked it over the pommel of his saddle.  This would likely be an assistance mission, but with the increased bandit activity in the area, he preferred to have his fighters ready to respond in case it turned out to be more.  Leaning forward, he kicked his gelding into a gallop and headed in the direction of the blaze, his unit hard on his heels.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Story Math… Again « Butterflies and Dragons
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