RP:Rangers, Harassment, and Larket, Oh My!

From HollowWiki

Part of the Defection Arc

Xalious Mountains

Synopsis: Hildegarde and Anann meet on a road through the Xalious Mountains. During a tense encounter, Hildegarde learns that Anann's rangers patrol the Xalious territories under no authority but her own, harass any merchants and travelers from Chartsend, and have an arrangement with Larket, the details of which demain undivulged.

Anann's chestnut stallion carries her high above the muddy road, at the head of a column of Rangers, all mounted. The column contains several men-at-arms on destriers, archers mounted on both lighter horses and chargers, looking slightly odd with their large warbows on the horses, and scattered around the column are light, fast mounts carrying scouts with small, but powerful composite bows. They throw up mud as they ride past, their eyes constantly pealed in this patrol. As the two dozen ride, the few on this road scatter.

Hildegarde had been walking at a relaxed pace, easily towering above the elderly man she was walking besides. It would appear as though she were carrying his things: a sack of grain on one shoulder, stacked with another while she clutched a few heavy looking sacks in one hand. They conversed quietly amongst themselves until the knight heard the galloping and hooves and quickly ushered the man into the side, so he would avoid being close or the spatter of mud from swift hooves. The same could not be said for Hildegarde, who was promptly splattered with the mud. If it bothered her, she didn’t let on. Only looking to see if the elderly man was quite alright. The riders did look familiar, but that wasn’t her concern right now.

Anann breaks away from the head of the column, issues a quick command to halt them and turn them, and then gently walks her stallion towards the knight she saw in Larket yesterday "Hildegarde de Silver righ'?" She asks as she approaches her. "Sorry fer messin' up yer clothes like"

Hildegarde’s elderly charge only waved his hand and continued to slowly walk along the bridge, leaving the knight to carry his heavy items and carry on. But here she was, being apologised to. The knight offered her a smile, “Yes, that’s right, but you needn’t be sorry. I imagine that mud might come off my armour a little more easily than blood.” It was fairly true, if she hurried she could just wipe the mud off easily and then go over it with a damp rag. “What brings you out here, my lady?”

Anann snickers at that comment and reaches into her pouch for a handkerchief, which she tosses down to the knight "Dese ranges are our land now... dat is te say, we patrol dem..." Her rangers trotted up behind her, scattering slightly to cover all approaches, just in case someone were to attack them. "Where are ye two headin' den?"

Hildegarde did not particularly like the wording, but she was certain it wasn’t meant to be quite so territorial! “You mean to say that you are rangers of this land?” she asked politely, catching the handkerchief with ease. “Thank you,” she said, wiping off most of the muck that had stuck to her mithril armour. “To Xailous, Edgar here needed a helping hand and I was only too happy to oblige before I return to Frostmaw.”

Anann noticed the slight unease at that statement. "We are, so we are. Not like we possess dis land like, bu' we patrol dese ranges an' derefore control dem now. Good tin' ye're headin' fer Xalious an' Frostmaw. Not like we let everyone pass te any place wi'hout our permission..." She smiles at that statement she just made, and there is a snickering in the ranks. Anann casts an angry look around, shutting them up. It is obvious who is in charge of these men. Most of the men now wear tunics of cheap, coarse brown cloth, but one of the men still wears the tunic of the Chartsend garrison, though the badge has been torn off.

Hildegarde again did not like the wording of that statement. Her gaze shifted between each man in the unit, taking note of the very familiar tunic. She had seen it plenty of times, most recently in her trip to Chartsend—Chartsend. That was it. These were the rangers who had left Chartsend, who had taken the horses and simply left. A sudden wave of unease washed over the knight but she stood tall, “Is that so?” she asked, offering a little smile as if to say her question was in no way a challenge; that it was merely a genuine question. “And what do you do, say, if you don’t want someone to pass?”

Anann pats her stallion's neck and answers the question with a smile "Well, we let dem try te persuade us te let dem pass... or we set some conditions fer dem te reach deir destination...." She turns to the man-at-arms nearest to her "Ranger Éoin, wha' was it wi'h de last one did no' want te deal wi'h us?" The ranger looks at his commander for a moment before answering, with a grin "You mean that Chartsend guard who came to demand "Officer Anann" reports to Alicia, ma'am?" The archer nods at that statement of the ranger, urging him to continue "We took a toll for his passage ma'am, of his clothes and his armour. Then we tied him onto his horse with his tunic... think we gave him a souvenir as well..." Again there is snickering in the ranks, and this time Anann does not silence the men. "See, as long as people are friendly te us an' willin' te deal wi'h us, we have no problem. If dey insult us, we ask dem te pay fer passin' t-hrough dese parts, simple as..."

Hildegarde goes a bit rigid at the statement, learning exactly how these rangers act. With a sigh, the knight gently places the sacks on the bridge near her feet and carefully removes the sacks of grain from her shoulder to place them down too. Looking to Anann she speaks almost sadly, “I had wondered why your name was familiar; you are the one responsible for the arrest and mistreatment of the Lady Josleen; you and your men are the ones who deserted your duty in Chartsend.” Of course, the knight was not tied to Chartsend but Eliason and Alicia had told her everything; had dragged her into the politics of the matter when she visited on matters of grief and despair. “Tell me, do you ever act that way towards citizens?” she asked carefully.

Anann smiles as the woman recognises her name "Sure, delighted ye have heard o' me! Be sure now, I ne'er deserted my duty, or neglected it. If any did, yer man in Chartsend did." Her rangers move out of the road to let a Larket wagon past, but then move into the road again. "An' wha' way o' actin' tewards citizens de ye refer te?"

Hildegarde watched as the Larket wagon rolled past, moving back to her previous position once it rolled by. “Do you treat them like that guard you treated, if they cannot meet your demands?” The knight asked the question carefully. She had no desire for trouble, but a discussion was always good. “Do you patrol this area as an extension of Larket’s power?”

Anann waves her hand about a bit, as though she throws the objection about the guard away "Dat guard was a soldier. We treat soldiers wi'h de respect we are given by dem an' deir commanders. Given only insults come from Chartsend, we returned de favour, so we did." She looks behind for a moment, tracing the course of the wagon. "We treat all wi'h respect, as long as dey treat us wi'h respect, but dose of Chartsend we ask te pay our toll regardless. If it takes de clothes o' deir back, den it does. Dat's wha' happens if someone tells her people porkies an' tries te rally dem against us." The archer spits and looks slightly angry now. She sighs and lets the anger flood away from her face. She shakes her head "We're our own people now, We have an arrangement wi'h Larket dough. I'd hope Frostmaw will be willin' te deal wi'h us as well, makes life a lot easier, so it does, te rely on words instead o' arrows..."

Hildegarde could see some form of logic in that, she knew the warriors of Frostmaw would tolerate no disrespect and could often be violent in displaying that. “I hope that you do not uphold the people of Chartsend to those standards, my lady, for they cannot be responsible for the actions of a leader,” she said, hoping that Anann had also seen that. “It would be a poor show of any respectable soldier to subject citizens to those standards.” The Silver shook her head, “Frostmaw was allied to Chartsend, but we have been scorned. We do no propose alliances with any right now, nor can we make promises, favours, or anything of the sort until such a time that Queen Satoshi returns.”

Anann nods carefully, that vague smile on her face again "Seems we have sometin' in common den. I was an ally o' Chartsend, doin' dem a favour te train a regiment o' rangers fer dem, so I was. Den dat drosser Eliason fails te appoint officers fer bleedin' ages, expectin' me te lead dem. Den he insults me, questions me in front o' de men, t-hreatens his own officers at dat trial, in front o' de troops as well. An' fer wha'? Te save a woman who's been caught spyin'? A woman who's been entertainin' odders on her back? No wonder de soldiers don' like her an' Sergeant Glyn was a bit too enthusiastic. Fer which I can assure ye he was punished, bu' yer man ne'er boddered te check dat..." She spits again, waving at the rangers "Dat's de way he lost de respect o' men an' women fought wi'h him in Frostmaw..." The men around nod their agreement, and the men-at-arms knock their spears against their shields in agreement "An' I treat de citizens o' Chartsend like dat as well, as Alicia's set dem against us. Any o' dem, an' any member o' de Keepers is a potential enemy. Besides..." Once again the archer spits, showing her scorn "I do no intend te fight dose donkey's bollix ferever, bu' I will not debase mysel' goin' down dere. So any means te make dat bleedin' woman come te talk abou' dis will be applied, includin' cuttin' de town an' deir citizens off from everytin' East o' Xalious"

Hildegarde offered a gentle sigh once Anann had finished speaking, “I disagree with you deeply about the matter regarding to the Lady Josleen and I don’t particularly enjoy how you speak of her,” she said, “but that is in the past.” The knight, however, has little to offer to this conversation. It was a case of she didn’t want to say anything that might anger herself nor did she want to step in it and say the wrong thing. “I disagree with you most passionately about cutting the people off from anything east of Xailous, the people should be free to wander. Will you cut off their supplies and their family?” she asked, “Citizens do not deserve the scorn of soldiers, surely you know this?” The knight stooped to lift the sacks once again, setting them up on her shoulder and clutching the others in her hand, “Xailous is my home town,” she said fondly, “and I would not find any of my people hurt.”

Anann waves her rangers off the road, to make a clear path for the knight and her charge. "If ye want, one o' de lads can hold dat fer ye..." She grins "Don' worry, we won' take it..." She whistles, ordering the column to forms again behind her. Herself she lets her horse walk beside Hildegarde "We do intend te cut dem off. An' we will stop doin' it if Alicia comes te talk te us, instead o' givin' us insults an' settin' all dose people against us. Accordin' te dat woman, we're no' soldiers anyway, she's basically treatin' us as outlaws..." She shrugs, then turns in her saddle "Ranger Éoin, will ye check wi'h dat man whedder he wants te ride instead o' walkin'?" Turning back to Hildegarde, she says kindly "Be sure, as long as we are treated well by de people o' Xalious, we treat dem well. We have no intention o' hurtin' dem..."

Hildegarde shook her head, “I can manage well enough on my own,” she could probably carry the horse with the man on it if she wished. The knight was stronger than any mortal man, she had the strength of many, but she didn’t brag nor like to make it obvious. “If you cut them off to the point of starvation, I do not think I shall be able to tolerate it,” she said gently, trying not to come across as hostile, “for the suffering of the people is not something that *should* be tolerated in the first place.” The elderly man when asked about a horse merely waved his hand away and offered a toothless grin, quiet happy to slowly walk along the bridge. He had made good progress, though, as Hilde stopped to chat; he wouldn’t have far to go to get home now. “The people of Xailous are not bound to you,” she warned, “and they will treat you only as you treat them. Respect them and do not harm them and they will offer you much the same. But if I hear that your men have harmed any one of the townsfolk,” she began, “I shall bring justice to that man.” Her definition of justice was, of course, a proper trial and communicating with the right people; Anann included. “Make no mistake, these people are dear to me. I shan’t see them harmed.”

Anann raises her hands in calm bemusement "Sure did I not jus' tell ye I have no intention o' hurtin' yer folk? Ye seriously tink I am de scum Eliason an' Alicia make me out te be?" She shakes her head sadly, "Ye make de same mistake now as Alicia, takin' de word o' Eliason an' Josleen wi'hout hearin' my side o' de storeh. An' ye are already makin' t-hreats against us... ye see how dat will lead te hostilities?" Again she shakes her head sadly "When I tell ye I will treat de people o' Xalious wi'h respect, as long as dey treat us likewise, I mean dat. If dey attack us, we attack dem, simple as. I don' tink anyone can expect anytin' more or less o' us or anyone..." She bends down a bit in her saddle, lowering her voice a bit "If ye want te help de people o' Chartsend, ye can talk te Alicia as well. I told her te come an' talk te me te hear me side o' de storeh. Te give me de respect an' ally deserves an' was not given by dat drosser Eliason. Instead she refuses te talk te me an' calls me a thief... If she had come te hear me out, or offered te meet me anywhere on neutral ground, dis whole problem would've been sorted. Instead she only listens te a man who insulted an' mistreated me... an' yer close te makin' dat same mistake now, which is no' beneficial te anyone now."

Hildegarde raised her hand briefly from the sacks on her shoulder, “I only say it because of family and old friends in Xailous,” she said gently, “I protect my homeland with each inch of me, Lady Anann, so do not mistake my loyalty to it for hostility. That is not and has never been my intention,” she offered a placating smile. The knight truly was very protective over Xailous – and Frostmaw – so it was reasonable for her to become defensive when discussing the matter. “I would not see anyone starve, be it the people of Chartsend or your own men,” she said, “I am sworn to help all and that is what I intend to do. I shall not involve myself in the politics of the matter. Lady Josleen is an acquaintance of mine, I can only hope that she was not spying as you say she was.” The knight offered Anann a small pause, “I hope you understand that it is not my intent to make an enemy of you, only to make my stance on the issue clear.”

Anann nods "If ye say it was not yer intention te talk in a hostile fashion, I will take yer word an' we'll say yer earlier statement was unluckily phrased..." She gazes out at the road before them, then turns her eyes slightly, looking at the flanks of the column from the corners of her eyes. She whistles again, and points to two points in the distance. Instantly four scouts break away from the column, two heading to each point she indicated, splashing mud up as they ride along the road. "Regardin' Josleen... I found her rifflin' t-hrough de administration o' de Chartsend armies, wi'hout de required written authorisation. I arranged fer a trial, te let de officers o' Chartsend take care o' it. Whedder she was spyin' or not, I don' know, as de trial was broken up by Eliason under t-hreat o' violence te me an' de officers o' his own armies. But tell me, would ye not have done de same? If she were spyin' she should have been hung, if not, she was bein' stupid an' punished fer her actions so nobody would get it in deir minds te reckon dey can do de same an' find out de exact movements o' de armies, de state o' de supplies wi'hout it bein' dealt wi'h."

Hildegarde did, admittedly, have a problem with poor phrasing. She often said the wrong thing or said it so poorly that it was misinterpreted. “I would not have allowed her to come to harm,” she answered, “any prisoner that comes under the care of a guard in Frostmaw is to be treated with respect. Our law is different, of course, but I would hope that any other soldier would respect the rights and wellbeing of any prisoner, with the appropriate powers arranging for a trial. So, I cannot say I would have done the exact same as you. I would have taken her into custody, but not harm her,” she reaffirmed.

Anann smiles gently "Ye tink I meant her harm? When I saw de reaction o' Sergeant Glyn te her, I remembered her... popularity... wi'h de troops. One o' de reasons I had her detained in dat camp. De odder bein' te pressure her a wee bit like. If she were a spy, best te know quickly." She pauses for a bit, turning in her saddle as the sergeant of the troop orders some of the scouts to ride back, behind the rearguard "Wha' happened was Sergeant Glyn kicked her down de stairs, dat's how she was wounded. I could not punish him den an' dere, but I dealt wi'h him later. He was put on continuous patrol fer 3 days an' 3 nights fer dose actions." She laughs then, winking at the knight "Any commander wort his salt knows ye ne'er question an' officer in front o' his men, an' ye ne'er question a sergeant in front o' his men or his charge..."

Hildegarde abided by a strict oath and code of honour, her very ideal of knighthood came from fairy tales read to children about knights rescuing damsels and princesses, those sort of stories. “I would hope so,” she offered a smile, “I can’t imagine any commander worthy of the position refusing to discipline their men.” The Silver then sighed, “But I had best be on my way, my lady, duties wait for no man.”

Anann bows in the saddle "I am de commander o' dese rangers because I earned deir respect, not because I was appointed te lead dem. An' it's deir respect Eliason an' Alicia lost... Respect comes wi'h leadin' t-hrough example, givin' honour an' respect an' dealin' out fair discipline..." She spies the scouts in the distance, who signal the road is clear, or is clear now. "My offer stands, so it does. We're willin' te help anyone offers us a good price, bu' were not wi'hout honour o' course." Bowing again, she gives her greeting to the Silver and the old man "We wish ye joy o' de day!" With that, she rakes her heels back, causing her chestnut stallion to surge forward, quickly followed by the other Rangers.

Hildegarde nodded, “I have little business in Chartsend and even smaller desire to go there, but I shall bear your words in mind,” she said. Their conversation concluded, the knight dipped her head and wandered off to join Edgar; escorting him home before heading to Frostmaw.