Report from How the West Was One

From: ANDOVER@delphi.com
Date: Mon 05 Feb 1996 - 05:53:02 EET


Unfortunately, I received the following transmission from Eric Rowe:

>David's I'm afraid Shannon has no record of ever receiving. I don't know
where in the great maze of the internet it was lost, but regret it because
we could sure have used another How the West was One write-up. We had one
other loss like this and I'll treat this one the same way. Meaning I'll
be sending you guys 3 copies, and hopefully if David still has a copy of
his piece he can post it to the digest in a few days.

So here is David Chapin's piece, as he suggested.

 From the field journal of Sir Briestoc, Grand Knight of Valsburg and military
attache to Sir Brumant l'Orguilles

    After all the things I have done, it is ironic that my greatest difficulties
began with an act of mercy. If only I hadn't let that damned squire live, I'd
probably be relaxing in comfort in King Vadalon's court. Instead, I'm out in
the field, fighting against the Kingdom of War.
    
   Vadalon and I always worked well together--a man like that needs people like
me. Or so I thought, before I realized that he lacked the courage of his
convictions. When it came down to it, he just wasn't willing to do what needed
to be done.
    
   The King had disappeared, you see, and one day a man came to speak to the
Prince in private. When he left, Prince Vadalon sent me after him to hunt him
down. I did, but I recognized him as the King's squire, and so stopped to
interrogate him before doing the deed. Thus I discovered that the King had been
captured, and easily deduced that the Prince did not mean him to be rescued.
    
   This was fine with me. Yet I did not kill the squire--I left him in the
tree, and thence all of my troubles sprang.

    The real trouble began on Wildday, at the Ecclesiastical Council. I'd been
thinking about the King's daughter, Glisandour, for a while, and I figured I
wanted to hedge my bets, since Vadalon's as much of a bastard as I am. So I
went and told her everything about the squire and King Gundreken's capture
(altering my role just a bit, of course). My plan was that this would cover me
either way, which I suppose it did after a fashion, but not nearly as well as I
had hoped.
    
    That damned guardsman, Baudwin, showed up, complaining about one of those
villages that I had to burn down because they wouldn't pay their proper share of
taxes. Not that I'd need to tax them so heavily if it hadn't been for those
Knights of the Wood. That quickly ceased to be a concern of mine, however, as
Cardinal Bersules decided to work against me, too. So Bersules, Baudwin, and
Glisandour confront me in front of Prince Vadalon and demand that I repeat what
I knew about Gundreken's squire! This put in a pretty fix. I hemmed and hawed,
and ended up not satisfying anyone. The end result of which was that Vadalon
decided to take away my position as tax-collector and give it to Baudwin, who
got knighted in the bargain! Ah, well. Frankly, I was probably better off
without that damned post. At least everyone decided to drop exact discussion of
what had gone on with the King and his squire.
    
    Meanwhile, that fellow Ungor showed up, offering Gundreken to the highest
bidder. I repeatedly asked our good Prince whether he wanted the messenger
disposed of, but as I say he lacked courage, and never ended up giving me the
order. So finally they raised enough to pay him off, and the King came back in
one piece. He seemed surprisingly friendly to Vadalon, considering.
    
    By this time, I had realized that Vadalon wasn't going to stick his neck
out for me, and had found the one person who would: Sir Brumant. He had just
gotten titled as a Lord, and had a position in the Order of the Swallow, so he
could carry a lot of weight. It was obvious, too, that he felt some debt for
me, although I never found out exactly why. Apparently it was something to do
with my father. At any rate, I decided that his star was rising, while
Vadalon's future was uncertain at best, so I threw in my lot with him.
    
    This meant that I was included in the military councils, and so I decided to
go with the scouting party to check out the Kingdom of War's advancing army.
So, taking a good fifty knights, I loaded on to Artaphaestos' moon boat. We
certainly succeeded in locating the army, but were brought down due to some
rather unimpressive piloting on the part of the Lunars. Having no desire to die
a hideous death, I quickly agreed to the demands of our captors. Swearing many
oaths to Malkion that I would betray the city to the invaders, I quickly
returned.
    
    Fortunately, I have never been a great believer in Malkion over survival.
Immediately upon my return, I ran to Brumant and told him what had happened,
realizing that, if anyone would cover me, he would. In fact, he did, managing
to conceal my role in the whole affair. Things were starting to look up, in
some respects. With Meriatan's disappearance, Brumant was sure to become First
Knight of the Order of the Swallow, and it looked like I could manage to be his
right-hand man. Not as good as working for a Prince, perhaps, but it seems that
I can actually trust Brumant. Strange concept, that.
    
    There was one small problem, however--the advancing army of the Kingdom of
War. Particularly after the desertion of the Rokari church, victory was far
from certain. I asked Brumant if I could lead part of the charge, and he agreed
that I could take the right flank of the vanguard. I may be a bastard, after
all, but I'm not a coward.
    
    The battle itself was hell. There were at least seven times that I was sure
I was about to die. But I kept my wits and my sword with me, and finally the
enemy broke in front of us. With their left flank broken, the Kingdom of War's
army was forced to withdraw, although we were hardly in any shape to give
serious pursuit.

    And so I am in a military camp, going from skirmish to skirmish, leading
troops and living life in the field. Brumant seems to think he can yet make a
real knight out of me, but I wouldn't count on it. I keep thinking about places
I could have moved faster. I should have killed that damned squire, should have
silenced Baudwin, should have ditched Prince Vadalon sooner.
    
   Yet here I am, living the life of a soldier, risking my life every day. I
have to admit that Brumant impresses me at times, though his optimism gets
tiresome at times. I wish my father had been more like Brumant. Maybe I'd be a
better soldier. I hope we win this war. I want to go home.
    
    And still, I am here, and I have not run from battle yet. Brumant is a
fool, but I can not imagine someone I'd rather fight next to. I remember that
first battle against the Kingdom of War, and I have to admit that I feel good
about it. Brumant thinks he may make a knight out of me? Perhaps he shall.

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