Aug 2, 2011

The Arrival of Friends

As is often the case on the eve of battle, I was in my private drawing room reviewing charts and intelligence dispatches, and making sure my personal weapons were ready for the coming storm.  I was honing the blade of Claidheamh Flath when Admiral Wildstar knocked and entered the room with what could only be described as a school boy’s grin on his face.

“What news Wildstar?” I asked with a cautious grin spreading across my own face in response to his.

At this he opened the doors fully and my errant knights and protectors walked in en masse.  Leading the way was the ever dapper, Exrex Somme, commander of the Lancers of Skye.  Behind him was Sir Telemachus who showing the evidence of his hasty departure and rapid travel to get to me. His hair was flying wildly around him and he had what seemed like every blade he owns attached to his body in some fashion.  Just a few steps behind him came the retired executive officer of the Lancers, Hotspur O’Toole.  He nearly swaggered into the room in his linen shirt and pants - evidence that he was found precisely where we last knew he was located: a expat hang-out in the desert.  

All three gentlemen walked confidently straight through the door and over to me.  Exrex kissed my hand. Then, putting his cheek near mine, whispered in my ear, “I hope our delayed arrival did not put too much worry in your heart, Duchess Toots.”  I smiled and touched his face.  He had used his silly nickname for me, which he would never do in hearing distance of anyone else, and thereby let me know that he was genuinely sorry if he had caused any concern on my part.

“I am awfully glad for your presence, Colonel.  Have you assembled my Lancers?”

“Indeed, I have, Your Grace.  As we speak they are stabling the horses and making camp on the front lawn,” he said.

“Very good.  We are expecting that the Vulgarians will attempt to take us from all fronts - air, sea, and an amphibious assault onto the Isle.”

Next Tele came over and laid his sword in front of me as he knelt down. “I am so sorry that I was such a distance away, Your Grace.  But I am here and have brought several of my more uncultured friends.”  I laughed at this and touched his head gently.  

“Just the guests I was counting on you to bring along.”  At this I bid him rise and see his men settled alongside the Lancers.  He bowed over my hand and took his leave to do so.

“Well, I see ye’ve gotten yerself into another fine mess, Lady, “ said the linen-clad Hotspur striding across the room.  As he kissed my hand, I noted his greying red hair - just around the temples.

“Aye, it seems so,” I replied.  “I see that retirement is treating you kindly.  You seem quite relaxed and satisfied.”

“It is so, Lady.  I find myself surrounded by many others of our Wrath Fleet and a few less honorable but highly interesting friends. The weather is warm, the drinks are plentiful, and we are never at a loss for stories of old battles,” he remarked.

Touching the grey hair I wondered aloud whether he was still up to the task of battling the Vulgarians.  At this Exrex literally snorted his amusement and Hotspur gave me an exasperated smirk.  “Aye.  I’ll do.  I think I may have a fight or fifty still left in me.”

I laughed and enjoyed the easy company of my old friends and protectors. As I began showing them the charts, inviting Wildstar to join us, Cairine walked cautiously into the room.


“Your Grace, there are a group of ruffians arriving from the Ferry. They say they are here to fight for you, but......”  she nearly hissed.

Turning to the gentlemen still staring at the charts and murmuring battle plans, I said, “I believe your troops have arrived, O’Toole.”  He merely grinned.

“Cairine, see them provided with tents and blankets.  They will billet with the Lancers and Tele’s swordsmen.  Then make sure they all have food to eat.  The great battle will surely begin sometime tomorrow evening based on what we know of the Vulgarian’s movements.”