[Mock-Fiction] V - Fures Misericordiam

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Aye. Tis me again.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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38. 36 – Of Brutes and Wisemen

“I don’t believe you!” the Lieutenant burst out immediately, “I don’t believe the words you’ve just uttered!”

“Hold your tongue, Lieutenant,” replied Seth calmly, without looking at him, “Hold your tongue. She is right.”

“You humiliate the Royal Army before this… this outrageous fugitive! This criminal! This… this…”


“Rogue,” said Mariqah, “if I may add to your clearly extensive vocabulary,” she sniffed, “Your ill-discipline is beginning to bother me. I feel like tellin’ you to drop down and gimme fifty! Seth, where does your brother find these jesters, eh?”

I am the son of a nobleman!”

“And clearly, pomp runs in your blood! Seth is your commander – in case you’ve forgotten, Lieutenant – and you shouldn’t speak with him in such a tone, under any circumstance!”

 

“And what would you know, heathen? Charlatan? I am in place to advise my commander, when he is obviously making the wrong decisions!”

“And what’d your advice be, lout? To die for no other reason than to please your sick, cowardly emperor?” she touched the turrets of her walls, “You see this fortress? Roman foundations, built on by generations of Germans and Normans, and improved by me. Nearly three-thousand year in its making, and still standing! And you think your handful of donkeys and your armful of weedy aristocrats can destroy it? I recommend that you obey your commander – as is well expected of you – or get yourself a psychiatrist, mate. There’s no room for an idiot in the army.”

 

“Why do you hide, then, in your stronghold?”

“I’m not hidin’, mate, I’m yammerin’ down at a bunch of angry neighbours who knocked on my door and’re bent on killin’ themselves!”
The Lieutenant ignored her remark, “Come out and fight – if your army is so great!”

You are not in any position to sanction the execution of your men!” bawled Mariqah, becoming frustrated with the man, “But… since you’re spoilin’ to die, I suppose if your commander gives you leave – I could send you to your Maker.”

 

Mariqah watched as Seth and the Lieutenant argued, tuning out of their conversation for the most part.

“Hold the fort for me, Khadir,” she said, touching Khadir’s arm gently.

“I’m being benched again?” sighed Khadir.

“Oh, Khadir,” said Mariqah, lingering a while before turning to the staircase, “if I die out there today, you’ll be here to replace me. But if you die out there – who will replace you?”

 

* * * * *

 

Mariqah walked through the courtyard a while later, fixing her heavy gloves so that they fit snuggly on her hands. She wore her corselet and her heavy armour, her boots stomping involuntarily as she walked and the layers of heavy metal rattling when she moved. She didn’t really need to have a high-flying indicator on the battlefield so that her men would recognise her (like a plumed helmet, for instance) – her armour, being quite figure-hugging, made her stick out as a woman among men, and she usually covered her head with her white hood. She approached the lines of fifty men standing rigidly in five straight columns, dressed in the appropriate livery, waiting for commands. She counted five flag-bearers, as she expected.

“What news, Zhou?” she asked, striding towards him.

“It’s been agreed,” he replied, “that fifty men from the Royal Army will fight – the Lieutenant being among them. The rest will stand away from the… slaughter, among them is Prince Seth,” he gestured to their small cohort, “These are our finest. Shall we?”

“Aye,” said Mariqah, with a small nod, “let’s stomp them into the dust.”
 

“What about me?”

 

Mariqah turned and frowned, “Leo? What do you mean? What about you?”

Leonardo raised his shoulders, “Can’t I get a first-hand experience of the battlefield?”

“We’ve discussed this, lad,” Mariqah said tightly, “no military action for five years, remember?”

“But I’m capable! I’m the best student in the highest tier – you graded me yourself!”
“Being skilled doesn’t make you a good student.”

“Oh?”

“Adherence to the teacher makes you one. Now do as your told, and get back to your dorm,” Mariqah turned away from him, “There’ll be training after this, so get your equipment ready.”

She moved to the front-line and barked an order. The gates opened, and Leonardo watched as the men marched out.

 

* * * * *

 

There was a long pause on the battlefield. Seth had taken the other fifty soldiers and moved off some distance, whilst the Lieutenant stood with his fifty and rode left and right on his dark horse, checking the lines and giving words of encouragement.

 

Mariqah could see it was scarcely working.

She noted that there were no flag-bearers. It was strange, seeing as the flag-bearer had debateably the most vulnerable position – but it signified the time to retreat. If all of an army’s flags fell, it was time to surrender or regroup or run. No flags… it meant no turning back. They really had come to die.

She looked at her own flags, wondering whether there was any purpose for them at all.

 

“Are you not loved at home?” she barked at them angrily, not needing to encourage her own men. For them, this kind of a skirmish was cake-walk – nothing regular, but no problem all the same. The enemy soldiers straightened, their metal gear clinking in uniformity as they did so, “Eh!” she continued, “Are you not wanted by your wives! Families! And, and countrymen!” she pointed in the general direction of Britain, “Then how d’you explain your government’s complete disinterest in your well-being! Surrender for continued decent living! Those were my only terms! And yet…” she marched up, her men following in their lines behind her, “constant want for pure, ducking execution!” the stamping of feet filled everyone’s ears, “By God! I’m at a loss! To kill ye or to press ye int’my prisons!” she drew her sword, the mercenaries drawing in similitude, “But I would profit better by using your organs for chum and your bones for char!”

 

“Draw!” cried the Lieutenant. The fifty of the Royal Army drew their swords, “March!”

“They want a war, lads,” said Mariqah, calmly, “and though it can scarcely be called one, let’s give ‘em what they came for!”

There was roar from the mercenaries, before they leapt into battle, charging through the ranks of  ill-experienced soldiers as they were still slowly marching.

Mariqah blocked the swing of a lance and sent it wide, jarring the bones of her adversary, before kicking him away.

 

Let’s not make too many casualties, she thought, might make parlaying with Seth a little easier. But then… he never was that hard to deal with. But now with his brother loomin’ over ‘im like an over-sized vulture… who knows?

 

Mariqah knocked another approaching soldier over, crashing into him with her shoulder. She saw the Lieutenant shouting orders from his horse and advanced. Holding him at the tip of her sword may make the army surrender. She didn’t fancy the idea of killing every last man, or having them run home and telling stories about her encouraging cannibalism.

He saw her coming, and swung his blade at her. She caught the swing with her own – feeling it in the vibrations, how he hadn’t timed his swing right – and easily managed to cast the sword aside, knocking it clean out of his hand.

 

“Surrender, Lieutenant,” she said, staying where she was, “You know I am as good as my word.”
“I don’t know that!” he said with gritted teeth, as mercenaries began to number more than his living comrades, and began encircling him.

“Well, Seth does,” she said calmly, “He can trust me. Why can’t you?”

“Because Simeon does not! He is my Liege, I should obey him.”
“Simeon is a fool. He doesn’t know the difference between a sword and a pen-knife. Seth is a wiseman – that is why he chose not to fight me with your badly-trained horde and your lack of resources. He’s challenged me when his chances were much more favourable, and lost heavily. Wisemen, if they make mistakes, only make them once. Get down, surrender. Spare what’s left of your men.”
The Lieutenant regarded her for a moment, before dismounting and calling his men to lay down their arms.

 

Zhou came up behind Mariqah, “Madam… I have some bad news.”

“Bad news?” said Mariqah, her eyes widening, “Did one of ours fall?”

“No… he didn’t die, and he wasn’t supposed to be here,” he gestured behind him, and Mariqah saw a limp body of a boy being carried away – bleeding profusely from his neck.

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