The Flight of The Draykes
Everybody who was carrying finite rings broke out all of the rations that they carried.
Tallying them, we came to a conclusion that we had enough food for 7 days on the road and not a day more unless we were to ration the food.
Even including the Teacher's personal reserves which - though ample for one person - were barely enough for the number of people gathered and we could scrape by another day at most with them included.
This was not counting the fights and battles that lay ahead.
Usage of warforce would consume immense energy which needed to be restored and thus, more food would have to be consumed and our reserves would dwindle accordingly.
The only good thing turned out to be the bad thing.
Our seedlings who would slow down our pace of march were also slowing down the rate of consumption of energy for the Knights which in turn would help us with the food situation or make it worse, I don’t know.
Water on the other hand was the issue.
We didn’t have enough and the land from here to my uncle’s viscounty had only one place where we could refill our canteens and that was two days from our destination.
Till then, water would be scarce and rationed even more severely than food.
What used to be a nightmare for our original enemies, the Hagarians, has now turned into a nightmare for us.
It was expected that if Draconis ever fell, then the Hagarians would be either weighted down by an extensive supply train or they would be without water for a good portion of the way since we would’ve used the scorched earth policy before Draconis fell.
Now it was our turn to undergo that, even without the scorched earth policy since Draconis was no longer in our hands.
After one hour precisely passed - the call for grouping up and forming ranks was given.
Confused about my position, I milled at the outskirts before Sir Egon walked up and said, “If you don’t mind young Lord, You can fight with my men.”
Face reddening at both being called a young Lord as well as the honor of being acknowledged as worthy of fighting alongside the castle guards, veterans that they were!
Nodding fervently, I followed behind Sir Egon and took my place in the ranks while many of the gathered soldiers looked at me friendlily, and a bit admiringly.
“They must have heard about my fight with Deianira,” I thought to myself.
Guided into my place in the ranks, I waited, conspicuous with my lack of armor and weapons, until Aaron came by and saw me.
Stunned, he stared at me.
“What,” I said, self-consciously.
“Why are you standing there like a plucked chicken. Where’s your shield? Where’s your armor? Sword? Spear?” He fired off like a repeating crossbow.
Defensively, I raised my dagger and my gauntlet-covered hands toward him.
Bulging his eyes in disbelief, Aaron quickly jogged to Galen and spoke animatedly for a minute before Galen slapped his forehead and quickly strode to the center and attracted everyone’s attention.
“Change of plans,” He said apologetically.
“It has come to my attention that many of you don’t have weapons or armor. As such, I request everyone with spare pieces of both to come and give them all to Chase who shall record your name and contribution before they will be redistributed.”
Murmurs ran through the cave before the neatly formed formations had men and women streaming forth and going to Chase before giving him a piece of armor here, a weapon there.
Then my brother walked up to Chase and concentrating hard, armor and weapons began appearing in the air, all of which were constructed into two mountains by his deft hands.
Soon, The walking arsenal scratched his head at Chase’s befuddled expression before asking, “Was that not enough? I’m sorry, I didn’t have time to arm myself properly and I could only make do with what I had.”
Gulping, Chase stared at my brother as though looking at a freak before nodding his head fervently, “It’s enough, It’s enough!”
It was more than enough to possibly arm a small battalion on its own - never mind our pitiful company of ragged soldiers and seedlings.
Eyes gleaming, everybody eyed the weapons and armor with hungry looks.
Galen quickly issued a series of orders and his men walked up and began sorting the equipment into its base categories.
Then he said, “Everyone outfit yourself as you please. The only requirements are that in the first round, you only choose 1 weapon for yourself.”
“If more remains, you may choose another weapon after everybody has chosen and so on - until you are fully equipped. The soldiers have the first choice of equipment after which are you seedlings. Am I understood?”
A murmur of assent greeted him and then the arming of our ragtag company began.
Soon it was my turn and as I walked up, I declined a weapon since I already had one at the moment - before turning to the armor and seeing me hesitate, the knight on the other side smiled at me before critically examining me and saying,
“Your build is light and I see that you like to get up and close with the enemy. I would recommend leather armor with chainmail for protection and a shield like a buckler or something a little bigger. Will that be okay?”
Nodding my head, I received all the armor pieces that the man gave and walked to the side where I struggled to put them on - never having worn any armor before.
As I struggled to slip into the chainmail, I felt soft hands grab the chainmail and hold it in place while I wriggled through it.
Coming out from the neck-hole, My eyes saw Sia who was carefully looking over my armor and tightening the straps that I hadn’t.
A surge of warmth went through me and I was about to thank her when I swallowed the words.
No thanks were needed between us. Now, and forever.
Lifting an open-faced black leather helmet, she placed it carefully over my head. Then she fussed around making sure my vision wasn’t obstructed and my ears were soundly in place and not squashed flat.
Then she stepped back to admire her work and smiled at me.
Grinning at her, I flexed my arms and felt like a true warrior.
Then she gestured toward the weapons area and nodded. Looking, I realized it was my time to claim a weapon since everyone was done.
Walking up to the pile of weapons, Chase the archer looked at me with half-lidded eyes as I selected a longsword before shaking my head and selecting a short sword with a thick blade. Nodding my head in appreciation, I lifted my eyes to meet the archer’s eyes, who smiled as he said, “An archer’s blade that. Good choice lad.”
Smiling, I turned away before sheathing the short sword in my belt.
Fully armed now, I felt secure.
My equipment was a round shield a bit bigger than a buckler, a short sword, my dagger and gauntlets, leather leggings and body armor along with pauldrons of the same kind, finished off with my open-faced helmet, all burnished black.
I felt good.
I felt great, actually.
I looked like a vision of death and destruction. Until Sia laughed and looped my short sword such that it didn’t threaten to cripple said vision of death and destruction before the battle even began.
Blushing, I looked around furtively to see if anybody noticed.
Only to meet eyes that swung away and innocuous whistling.
Finally, our company - now looking like a proper company - was formed up and ready to march.
So march we did, only for the seedling formation to fall apart after two hours of hard marching.
Puzzled, I looked on as the seedlings gasped for air and their formation became strung apart as the weaker ones fell out of formation.
I looked at Sia who was watching with a critical eye and an “as expected” look.
Confused now, I turned to my Teacher who was raising an eyebrow at a frustrated Galen.
“Bal sake, move aside, I’m a doctor...a doctor!” Galen muttered as he moved to the seedlings and needles started forming and flying in the air.
A minute later, most of the seedlings who had been pale-faced a minute before, were now ruddy and blushing - though whether from shame or good health was unknown.
Sighing, Galen said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that you wouldn't be able to keep up with the double-time march for so long. It was my fault.”
Turning back, he shouted, “No camp, just rest up for 15 minutes before we move out again,”
Coming back to us, he stood and waited stone-faced as his scouts that had been behind us caught up before sending them out to guard our surroundings again.”
The original soldiers of the company had promptly gone to sleep barring the ones on guard duty but the seedlings milled around, lost and confused with precious few taking the opportunity to rest and regain energy.
Taking a note of those who did rest appreciatively, I walked to Sia and asked, “Why are they so tired? Isn’t it normal to walk at that speed?”
Sia looked at me in silence for a moment before she said, “I’m starting to think that if you shouted those words out, the seedlings who are drained of energy might just run after you all the way to the viscounty...with their weapons pointing at your behind.”
Wincing, I defensively crossed my hands over my bottom before I began mulling over her words.
“Devil Teacher?” I asked.
“Devil Teacher,” She replied.
Nodding, I mused over it again. What had become normal for Sia and me was probably unbearable to these seedlings who had never trained under the devil teacher.
Looking with pity - though whether at them or myself, I’m not sure - I sighed at their plight.
Until a few days ago, they might have been attending page school as normal and would have been considered as prodigies amongst their peers. Today they were on the run, separated from their loved ones, and forced to escape for their lives.
Looking bitterly at myself, I mumbled, “I too am one of them.”
Raising my head resolutely, I walked toward the ones who had collapsed before calling out to them.
Wearily, they looked at me as I said, “I have a few stretches that can relieve your pain and a way to massage yourself that will make the pain recede for a while. If you want to use them, just follow along,” and saying so - I began going through the stretches slowly and patiently explained the massage technique.
Gratefully, the seedlings slowly roused themselves and began using the stretches and massage techniques before more vigor began coming back to them.
Nodding, I left them to utilize the remaining time and walked to my Teacher and guiltily spoke, “Sorry Teacher, I taught them your teachings without asking you…”
Tensing myself, I waited for the inevitable fist to the head.
Except, the thwack I expected never came as instead his hands reached out and ruffled my hair and said, “I don’t mind. Whatever I teach you is for you to use however you see fit. Even my secret techniques are yours to give away should you wish. I just ask that you give them to those you deem worthy. That’s all.”
Looking at Teacher in disbelief, I knelt down again in respect and cried out, “Teacher! I will remember you and your words forever!”
This time the fist did hit.
“Don’t kneel and talk as though you’re not going to see me for a long while!” said Teacher, disgruntled.
Rubbing my head, I grinned at him before a clap sounded out and Galen shouted out, “It’s time!”
Heaving themselves up, the seedlings and the soldiers quickly formed their formations, and once again, we marched.
But others too were marching unbeknownst to us.