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Author Topic: The Tamber Saga  (Read 4181 times)

Description: The Story of Tamalyn Traveler Continues

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Offline Lord Palatine

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The Tamber Saga
« on: October 08, 2017, 05:29:20 AM »


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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2017, 05:48:42 AM »
There was a nervous week from the departure of the ships...
====================================================
“Bloody fog,” Malea Telbrantil-Meldresse growled. “It gets thicker the closer we get.”

“Don’t be too harsh about it,” he murmured, “and keep your voice down, sound carries. It’s heaviest along the river, and my lookouts above can see right over top of it. I’m going to make a small shift to our plans, my scouts have returned and tell me that there’s a three mile sandy beach north of the outpost, and one two miles across to the south. Rather than tie up the piers too much, I’m letting your strikers for the south wall go a bit ahead, they can attack in conjunction with your strike from the river, and not tangle feet.”

“Excellent,” she nodded. “You realize that if you hadn’t have gone with the Navy, you’d be at least a general by now, don’t you?”

“But I’d have missed a lot of life at sea, and that was something else,” he shrugged. “The navy is more hidebound and opinionated, but it does beat sitting around one place for more than a few minutes. And the sunrises and sunsets are prettier.” He looked at the sand glass as it flipped. “Your cavalry barges will beach in an hour, a turn of the glass,” he nodded to it. “In two more hours your strikers will land, and then the attack on the piers and eastern wall, and we’re well and truly in it by then.”

“You left time for everything but a reunion in your cabin,” she teased him.

“You couldn’t keep up,” he grinned. “You know what us sailorboys are like when we finally find a welcoming port.”

“No, but I’d like to find out,” she grinned.

“Not for some time I’m afraid. After we get you well established here, I have an engagement in the south.”

“Three days sail, through hostile waters, to attack a whole port full of ships that won’t like you? Cover your arse well, Ryan.”

“Quit thinking about my arse, Melly, it’ll only distract you,” he chuckled as she elbowed him.

“Just my luck, I’m one of the few women that don’t tongue-tie you when you discuss anything but duty,” she grumbled. “And I don’t get anything for my troubles.”

“You get a nice seat in one of my boats to take you ashore to play with pointy steel.”

“Not the same,” she replied.

“Service is a lonely life,” Taraborne replied sagely.
====================================================
Taraborne was aloft in the rigging when the first sounds of battle to the left reached him. At his order fire lances streaked from his ballistae and the flames lit up the stone walls, he directed them to elevate slightly and the wooden hoardings atop the wall were soon in flames as soldiers charged down the piers, carrying scaling ladders. The archers ashore relieved the engines in raking over the top of the walls and soon dwarven engineers were swarming ladders and started clearing the walls and battlements. The sounds of fighting were light, with luck they’d caught them in bed with only the night watch. The sun was rising and with luck it would burn off the fog so he could see what was happening. It was nearly an hour later when he dimly saw three red flames burning bright. The slave quarters were secure. He could dimly see the cavalry to the north raining ruin upon the north wall, and lines of troops advancing.

He returned to the deck an hour or so later when a messenger came aboard. “General Telbrantil-Meldresse’s compliments, My Lord, she has the honor to report the outpost is taken and wishes you good hunting down south.”

“Thank you, Sergeant,” he replied. “My compliments to the General, tell her I wish her the best of luck getting my barges home,” he chuckled when he thought of her reaction to that and the days of poling that would follow.

Taraborne looked around the deck. “Signal the ships,” he ordered. “Those remaining make way for those going south, we move in the order previously specified.”
====================================================
“Malea and Taraborne took the eastern compound before midday,” Oldwine explained to Tamalyn. “At the western compound, they found it empty, Durmand is in council with the militia officers to decide what to do next. I'm sure they will all drive south to attack.” He paused and shook his head. “I’m glad somebody is comfortable waging war on water, because I am not. I like falling on solid dirt, water just swallows you.”
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 06:05:43 AM by Lord Palatine »

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Offline Milady Kim

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2017, 06:17:11 AM »
"That was exactly my concern when they were loading legions onto the troop ships. If it sank, for whatever reason, we would lose five legions per ship. A very scary thought" she added not mentioning her brief consideration that it would be her bringing them home. She gave him a small smile, "anyway" she said taking a breath, "what do you think it means that the eastern encampment was empty? Do you think they figured out they were coming? If so, wouldn't that imply that they have advanced notice for the southern battle?" She asked knowing that it was the second half of this mission that was the most dangerous.

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 06:24:18 AM »
"It is possible," he replied. "Or they are concentrating forces for a raid and want to use that compound to supply troops raiding the Frontier Army along the border region. Our garrisons are closer to the western compound than to the eastern, so it is at risk. But, I have sent warnings."

=========================================
“Signal to all ships,” Taraborne,” Maintain watch and position, we sail in harm’s way.”

Color Sergeant Darragan stood beside him. “What is the narrowest point of the river?”

“Close to five hundred yards, that stretch is thirty miles long,” Taraborn replied. “They can reach us if they can move engines into place, but we can definitely reach them with everything except bows and great crossbows. We’ll be in armor and shields for anyone on deck, aloft, well, we’ll hope we don’t have to send anyone aloft, but they’ll go for our sails.”

“At least we’ll have deep water,” Darragan said thoughtfully.

Taraborne nodded. “We’ll put the second 4th class at the tail end, if anyone needs towed they can do it.”

“Do you suppose that they knew how risky this was before they let us go?”

“Oldwine knew,” Taraborne replied. “He just knows how to weight risks and rewards. I believe the Grand Duchess knew as well, or suspected rather, but she wouldn’t feel it her place to stand in the Marshall’s way.” He studied the sky. “If we can keep this pace, we’ll be two and a half days on the river until we reach the port, and we’ll reach it at night with a good moon. It’ll be a long night, but we can break the barricades and create havoc at night until the 6th can reach us at sunrise. They won’t try and cross into the port until they know that the barricade is down, and I can’t blame them.”

=========================================
“Signal, My Lord,” his steward called from the hatch. “Fishing boats blocking the river.”

Taraborne was out of his bunk and into his trousers and shirt and out the door in moments. On deck he went forward and stared into the dark, extending his hand for a glass. “Warn the vanguard that they may be fire ships,” Taraborne called to the signalman, who duly passed it along with torches, fire semaphore was the preferred method of communicating in the dark.

“They request permission to attack with fire lances,” the signalman called back.

“Granted,” Taraborne replied. “Break the center.”

Tomorrow night he should reach the port, he knew the warnings were out and worried a bit as fog had been coming in from the sea at night and blowing right up the river toward them. He didn’t want to have to slow or lay up at night. He wanted the advantage of speed. “They know we’re coming,” he said to his first officer. “The wind is against us, so break out the poles and I want a crew in the long boat, we’ll to under tow as well, this big tub is slowing down the smaller ships, we must fix this, as soon as we clear the boats ahead.”

“I’ll tell the captain and send word to the trailing ship as well,” Brigadier Mallor assured him.

Flaming lances streaked out from the three lead ships, their shooting rate was relentless as they shot lance after lance into the center ships. Only a few jumped off of each, and the speed at which the fires spread confirmed Taraborne’s suspicions were correct.  The oars of a longboat churned white at the sides of the boat as it dashed forward, they found the thick cables binding the boats together and hacked through them, a 5th rate took the lead and with men with poles to ward off the burning boats, it broke through the gap formed by the cut cable.

“Tell the vanguard to keep their boats out and searching the water ahead,” Taraborne ordered. “And after we pass through, get the boats out. I want speed.” He looked around and sighed. “I won’t sleep now,” he growled and went below to dress. He returned to the bow, the captain’s place was on the quarterdeck, his own responsibilities required him forward, so he stood in the bow until the bosun rigged him a hammock chair. He sat, drinking tea, at the bow and pretending not to take cat naps. The crew turned a blind, smiling eye to his transgression.

=========================================
“Sir,” Mallor shook his shoulder, he looked at her oddly. She was wearing a naval uniform. “Dispatch from the Lord Marshall, he has decided that Using army ranks for the navy isn’t efficient. Therefore, you sir, are now commodore commanding the 3rd Frontier Battle Group.”

He rose and slipped from his arming jack and into the one with the corrected rank. “Very good, Flag Captain. Are all ships aware?”

“Deliveries were made to all Frontier Squadron ships, My Lord.”

The differences were slight, the army version of the arming jack was closed with hidden hooks in the center. The naval version had two rows of gold-colored bunkers, one for show and one that close the jack on the right side of his chest, dark blue for regular officers, as a Knight of the Palatine Order, Mallor’s was a lighter blue, as a Lord of the Palatine Order his was a lighter silver-blue . “Feels much more comfortable,” he grinned and called for his steward to bring breakfast and tea.

=========================================
“Deck there,” a voice called down from the mast top, “fires along the shore, looks like alarms.”

“Very well,” Taraborne called back up. “Signal all ships, crews will armor and stand ready for action.” He studied the water ahead, peering carefully through his glass.

“Deck there, ships moving toward the river’s mouth.”

“I see them, size and numbers if you please.” He called for the signalman. “To all ships, proceed with plan as ordered.”

He continued to study the specks moving to block him as the order was relayed. “Methia, I’ll stay in the bows, take position amidships, if you would, if something happens I don’t want to lose us both. We and the lead ships go for the booms, the rest will create havoc. We have to cut that damned thing and hope our hardest that the 6th Fleet isn’t late.”

“Luck to you, Ryan,” she murmured quietly and took up her post.

Color Sergeant Darragan, now restored to proper Royal Marines uniform, took up her post behind him. “Don’t do anything daft, Alica,” Taraborne cautioned her. “I shouldn’t even allow you into armor.”

“Anything to catch me naked on deck?” she teased, then added, “My Lord.”

“I don’t think I’d survive catching you in a state of nature,” he replied gravely.

“Uncommon insight, for an officer.”

He chuckled. “Mast there,” he called. “I make it out as two 1st Rates under tow, what say you?”

“Aye sir, two under tow.”

“Mast there,” the captain shouted up. “Keep better watch, why are we seeing what you can’t?”

“I was checking between then to see if I saw anything hiding,” the topman called back.

“Report what you see then look for more,” the captain shouted back.

The Commodore grinned faintly and glanced at the Color Sergeant, whose face was blank, but her eyes twinkled. “Signal to all ships, switch out the boat crews,” Taraborne ordered. “Mast there, call out any change in the wind.”

“Deck there, wind is from the due south, but we’re starting to get gusts from the westerly.”

“The wind is likely to get interesting in the harbor,” Taraborne said, mainly to himself, Darragan didn’t reply. He unconsciously stepped aside as the engineers for the bow-mounted ballistae took their post with murmured apologies. “Move me as you need,” Taraborne assured them. “Just keep shooting as long as you have a target.”

He thought aloud. “If they are rigged as standard 1st rates, three catapults and nice ballistae.”

“Begging your pardon, My Lord, but a heavy catapult in the bows, left and right light catapults amidships, two heavy ballistae near the bow, another astern and three light ballistae along each side.”

“Thank-you,” he glanced at the man’s shoulder and glanced at his arm. “Lance corporal.” He checked and grinned to see the red stripe on the leg of the man’s trousers. “How does it feel to be a marine again?”

“Missed the blood stripe, My Lord,” he admitted.

“I’ll expect better aim out of you than any infantry engineer.”

“You’ll have it, My Lord.”

“Excellent,” he nodded and turned his head to his flagship captain and then looked at the Color Sergeant. “My compliments to the captain,” he murmured. “and tell him I inquired if he intended to offer a tot or rum to the crew?” He looked down and back at her, “and whiskey for the engineers?”

There was an excited stirring among the ballista crew. He ignored the activity on the deck until the bosun touched his elbow. “Rum or whiskey, My Lord?”

“Whiskey, I think,” he held out the small tumbler that all on the crew carried with them. He looked to see that the crew all stood with their drinks at the ready. “Success in battle, and long live the King!” They repeated it back and all drank together, holding the tumblers over their heads, upside down, and then they tucked them away. “Signal the flotilla,” Taraborne called to the signalman. “Beat to quarters!”

“Deck there, stronger west wind,” came from aloft.

“Signalman, all ships, use the west wind as soon as practicable, speed is essential.”

As soon as they felt the wind, the sails were unfurled and set, they brought the ship close along the bows of the leading first rate, fire lances tearing into masts and rigging and setting small fires across the fully-reefed sails tied tightly to their spars. Aloft he heard the archers at work. A fiery globe crashed into the sea off to starboard causing the Commodore to grin, they were in too close to hit with the catapult. He glanced at two spots of fire that tried to catch on the wetted and sanded deck, the crew was quick to smother the flames under wet sand and canvass, smothering them.

It was a weak wind, but managed to break them free and to the inside of the ships trying to block them. He could see rowed boats of all sizes moving to catch them as well. They reefed up the sails and were back under tow, pulling madly toward the booms.

“Mast there, have the other ships broken through?”

“Deck there,” came the reply. “All through, two have fires on deck or aloft, small fires, My Lord.”

“One of you keep a good eye on them,” Taraborne ordered.

It took them more than an hour to reach the booms, with smaller boats swarming toward them. As they reached the boom, sailors stripped to the waist and barefoot straddled the massive logs and hacked at the chains and ropes holding them together and in place. Archers lined the rail and began thinning boat crews as they drew closer enough. The ballistae on the side having started much sooner. Taraborne watched then breaking the chains and growled in frustration and went over the side himself, panicking everyone that saw an armored man standing on a huge log. He drew his great sword and focused his will for a moment and hacked at a chain, shearing a link on the second strike. The sailors looked impressed, marveling over the edge of his Palatine blade. He carefully walked the log to the other end and hacked it loose in three strikes. He stepped over into the boat and they went to the next boom. There were three in all, and they finally had them breached and towed clear, they dropped buoys over the side, each with a bright red flame glowing.

“Boat there,” a voice shouted. “Blue flames to seaward!”

“Excellent!” Taraborne grinned. “Get us back to the ship!”

He found the fighting around his ship intense, several smaller boats were trying to swarm his flagship, held at bat with engines, bows and long poles. He scrambled back to the deck, greeted with a glare from his First Officer. “That was bloody stupid, My Lord,” she snapped. “Don’t get yourself killed!”

“I’ll bear that in mind,” he grinned boyishly as he walked to the rail. “With the boat crews back aboard the captain ordered full sail, the ships of the barricade force rode the wind back into the harbor. “Deck there,” called the observer in the mast. “6th Fleet is approaching the boom at speed!”

“Very well,” he turned and shouted orders to move deeper into the port. “He retrieved his glass and studied the ships there, finding four that matched what he was looking for, he ordered the ships of his small force to attack them. “Those aren’t regular merchantmen,” he pointed. “I think we’re seeing slavers. Large, a lot of masts and built for speed. The hold doesn’t look to be deep enough for bulk cargo. At best, I’d say smugglers. Signal our ships, assemble boarders. As we board, I want them blocked from moving, until we get aboard, sweep the rigging and decks.”

He looked at Color Sergeant Darragan. “Do you smell it?” He asked her. Her face was twisted with anger, she looked at him and nodded. “When we go aboard, I want prisoners from the officers. We’ll hang them later, but they’ll tell us where the market is. I leave that to you.”

“You’ll get the location,” she affirmed.

“The 6th will have troopships, I want to be able to tell those marines where to go when they land.”

“Then I’ll make sure they answer questions quickly.” Darragan assured him.

Darragan led the boarders from his ship across, insisting that officers needed to follow the fighters. He found that a tiny bit offensive, but she was correct, by King’s Regulations. He followed in his turn, and in short order he found that most of the officers had fled ashore as they approached. Darragan gathered them up and spoke to them scathingly, explaining that slavers and pirates would face justice, but just how harsh that punishment would be for them.

Darragan was down the first hatch as the cover was pried loose. The decks looked marginally clean, they’d probably used pump hoses to wash it all down, mainly to protect the return cargo. Now he saw eyes staring at him in fear, some with hatred. “I am Commodore Ryan Taraborne, Lord of the Palatine Order of Selnendrin. We are here to free you and take you to safety. Those with me are sailors and Marines of the Frontier River Squadron of Selnendrin. We are here to remove your chains.”

He returned topside as the sailors set to work removing chains. He looked across the decks of the ships to either side. He saw that the action was similar to the deck he stood upon. He stepped to the bow and looked down to see his Flag Captain glaring at him. “Find me ships that we can take these people north in,” he called down. “These things are pure filth.” He started to turn. “And if they offer any insolence about losing their ships, chastise them firmly.”

He returned his attention to the small knot of people huddled on the quarterdeck. He met Darragan with a question in his eyes. “A Walled compound just over a hundred paces from here,” she pointed.

“Signal 6th Fleet, I need marines here at once.”

He and the Color Sergeant led a hundred marines to the gates of the compound. They were closed and barred with scared men along the top of the walls, looking down at them. He didn’t say a word as a fiery lance slammed into the gate, shot from one of his smaller ships. Several more followed, sinking deeply into the wood and spreading the most flammable oil known across its surface, his marines tossed several jars of the stuff onto the top of the wall, spreading the flames across the stone, and men, as a couple of squads hoisted a mast as an improvised battering ram. It weighed a few tons and made short work of the gates. He and the marines entered silently until they made a ring around him in the center of the open ground, surrounded by barracks with barred windows. “In the name of King Ramon II of Selnendrin and Grand Duchess Tamalyn Traveler, all held in bondage in this city are now free. Any that raise arms against us, will be dealt with harshly. All are ordered to surrender, all involved in the slave trade are liable to face death. Do not try us, we do not bluff. Color Sergeant, clear the walls.”

He wasn’t necessarily fond of pompous pronouncements, but they had their uses. He glanced outside the gates to see the first of the troopships disgorging a thousand marines onto the pier. He walked out to greet the Legate. “This is a slave compound, there may be more. We need to secure this first, then move out into the city. How many marines can we count on?”

“A full company,” the Legate replied. “We’ll see to securing prisoners and freeing captives here, then we’ll move out and spread the word, any held in slavery will be brought down to the docks.”

He nodded to the Legate and left him to see to his work as his own marines returned to him. “Sixty prisoners,” Darragan reported. “About half that number more dead. The rest seemed to take our point and laid down arms.”

“We have about nine more legions landing soon, let’s see to them and get them moved out into the city. I want the government of the city rounded up, I want the slavers rounded up, I want to get the captives onto ships and we’ll take them north. That may be hundreds, it may be thousands, it need to happen with utmost speed. I want this city and port in ash when we leave.”

He paused to draft a preliminary report. “We are ashore, the 6th has joined us, troop landings continue, many captives secured.”

He then took to directing operations on land, the Admiral commanding the squadron from the 6th seemed content to concentrate on capturing the ships of the port while the marines did whatever it is that marines do on land. Taraborne was unique in naval ranks in that he’d always been, if not comfortable ashore, he was at least competent and successful ashore. That reputation served him well here.

“Legate Gallor,” a marine officer greeted him.

“Commodore Taraborne,” Ryan nodded at him. “Legate, you would oblige me if you would find the government of this cesspool, and put it in irons. The other nine legions would do great service if they went through the city and found all in slavery or indentured status and bring them here until we can evacuate them. We’ll also need to empty the markets and storehouses of foodstuffs and clothing for our charges.”

“Aye, Sir,” the marine officer nodded. While he and Taraborne were substantively the same rank, Taraborne had taken the docks, and his reputation was well-established, the fact that the Commodore was a Lord of the Palatine Order also earned him respect. “I’ll take the legion with me to find what I can of the government, I’ll wager that many of them are leaving through the north gates, should we try to stop them?”

“No,” Taraborne said after a moment of thought. “As gratifying as it would be to sentence and hang the bastards, the more that flee, the fewer we have to fight. Put men on the gates and have them offer sanctuary to any held in bondage, the rest can run for their worthless lives.”

“One thing, sir,” the legate said thoughtfully. “Where are their naval ships?”

“I wondered that myself,” he sighed. “There should be a few dozen in this port, we’ve only seen merchantmen and a few warships put up for repairs. I worry that our Admiral may find more than we expected.” He took out his pad and drafted a warning, wondering if it were needed, or in time.

=========================================
“First Corps is returning to Tamber with a thousand freed captives. Request that camps be set up along the river for them to allow the government to determine their needs. Awaiting further orders to this effect. Malea Telbrantil Mendresse.” Oldwine read to Tamalyn. "Meanwhile, Taraborne says that naval presence is light and warns Admiral Durmand that he may face greater opposition. Durmand is already in action, I'm awaiting reports, but he has a full corps of mixed cavalry, infantry and engineers in case the port is reinforced, plus the marines of the 6th Fleet."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2017, 06:56:43 AM »
She nodded her understanding of the situation, "we will be ready" she said with assurance. "From the sounds of things Durmand is running into the bulk of the opposition. How many of the militia are with him?" She asked concerned about the welfare of all of them.

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2017, 07:01:06 AM »
"He has a full corps of fifty thousand with him," Oldwine replied. "Taraborne went in with only the marine compliments on his ships, so Durmand has many times the soldiers, plus the marines from the squadron from the 6th Fleet."

==========================================
Admiral Durmand looked with mixed feelings at his navy uniform as he dressed to face what would be an active day. The voyage was a bit odd so far, the slavers’ compound was nearly empty, and it’s destruction was handled quickly enough, the Admiral was about to send the mixed army corps home, but General Tana Royal, the provisional commander and Captain Cleaver of the 20th Company, argued for the rest of the day that without captives to free and return home, the corps could do good service at the port, offering him far more troops to subdue the city. He finally agreed and after reloading the barges they’d continued south in the morning. Their journey was a bit slower than Taraborne’s, and he had a bit farther to go, which gave them time to make a rough plan of action when they reached the port. He studied the intelligence reports and noted that the size of the force assigned to the port could make things interesting, but if the squadron from the 6th Fleet arrived in time, they’d be fine, especially now that he could attack the port by land and sea now. He nodded confidently at his reflection in the mirror and went out on deck.

The landing of the infantry went rather well, after piercing light resistance at the port itself, he looked with great satisfaction as cavalry lead the way for the infantry and engineers into the waterfront area of the port city.

“Deck there!” the watch called down. “Many ships entering the booms!”

Durmand snapped the glass to his eye and cursed. He could see the ships of the port to his left and right as they flowed from the river and into the brackish fresh and saltwater mix of the bay. “Piss and blood,” he hissed. “There was no way to gather a corps of five companies and retire, and he couldn’t leave the army soldiers to fend for themselves. “All ships, make for the boom, do not let them put it back in place! Best speed to the boom, array for battle! Signal the cargo ship to come about and retire upstream.”

He cursed when he saw the first rates aimed right at his flagship. “Captain Kernan, we are going to be their target, price of being the largest ship here. That means we’re going to take a pounding, but we have to get the rest through to take the booms. Prepare your crew, we’re going to have the damndest fight they’ve ever seen. The weather gauge is against us both, from the westerly, so we’ll be towing into action. Take us south west, signal the rest to break east with the wind. Before we get into engine range, we’ll break east, and come across the bows of those big bastards and rake them with all we have. ”

“How do you know that they’ll stay with us when the rest break, My Lord?” Kernan asked.

“Run up the Palatine colors, they’re in my cabin, my steward knows where. I’ll wave it like red to a bull.”

“That it will,” Kernan admitted. “And we’ll fight proud beneath them.” He looked back at the shore. “Signal the army of the danger and that if we fail, they will need to fight their way out of here.”

His prediction proved correct, Durmand reflected grimly as he drafted a report to the Marshall of the Frontier and 6th Fleet. “We have encountered a reinforced naval presence in the harbor, speed is of the essence. My flagship and two other 4th rates appear to be diverting the enemy, my remaining captains have orders to keep the booms open against all hazards. We face much larger ships and any delays may doom the entire mission. I respectfully remind My Lord Marshall that there is an army company ashore in the port, that will be alone and deep in enemy country if the navy cannot do its best on their behalf.” He added the customary respectful and obedient servant closings, signed it and sent it off.

“Deck there, message from the army. They say: ‘Understood. We proceed in confidence that you will do your utmost, and we shall do the same.”

“Mast there, very well,” Durmand called back up. “Watch for any additional signals.”

He waited until the last moment and then he and his ships turned in a beautiful maneuver, the sails catching the wind as they completed their turn and he felt the ship taking wind and gaining speed as the rigging went taut. “Rake them as we pass their bows,” he ordered, gauging the range by eye. Many considered Gareth Durmand to be a fussy man about his appearance, he was a bit prideful and prickly, and he was well aware of his own shortcomings, but he’d built a reputation as a hard fighter in his thirty years at sea. He now commanded a short flotilla into harm’s way, and he was confident that his small command would achieve its objective, now it fell to him to bring as many of his command alive beyond that.

The engines and archers engaged and shredded sails and set them ablaze as his three largest ships crossed the enemy’s T, then they turned, fighting to use the same wind to bring him into range of their inferior engines, his own were of the best dwarven construction. The engineers fed the hoppers as other spun the wheels as fast as they could as others aimed. They raked the ships mercilessly, knowing that they would receive no mercy in return. Soon they were in archery range and the bowstrings sang as every hand that could be spared from engines and sails swept the decks and rigging.

Still, first rate warships were much larger than his own, and their engines were as well. He grimaced as a catapult lobbed a fiery mass that landed short and aft of his, the lead ship. Captain Kernan ordered a few simple maneuvers that preserved the wind in their sails but might spoil their aim. “Ranging us,” he said to Commodore Lara Fowler. “Take position amidships, if Kernan goes down, take command of the ship, if I go down, take command of all.”

She saluted and moved without comment. It was a standard precaution, after all. She hadn’t reached midship when a fiery mass struck the quarterdeck, he saw Fowler move quickly aft to take command, shouting orders to fight the fire, she beat at the flames with a wet canvas from a barrel kept on that deck, and extinguished the flames at the wheel and grabbed the charred and smoking wheel in her gloved hands and restored control to the ship, bringing her back before the wind. Others fought the flames aloft, fortunately the sails were wet enough to save them from some of the damage, having been wetted to make the best use of the wind.

“Deck there, five of our ships have reached the boom, they’ve lit the beacons for the 6th.”

“Mast there, any sign of the sixth?”

“Deck there, the sun is too low and the 6th will be coming out of the sun.”

“I bloody know that, answer the bloody question!”

“Deck there, no sign yet.”

“Bugger!” He grumbled and cursed as someone pulled him down as arrows rained down on the deck.

He turned his attention back to the ships trying to close on him, and took up his shield from the deck beside him and slipped his arm into the strap and grasped the handle firmly as he closed on the rail. “Keep raking them,” he shouted, knowing that his rate of shooting was a bit low as they had to light the fire lances before they could be launched. The engines would destroy rigging and sails, the archers would target men. The oil was decidedly nasty stuff, hard to extinguish and actually dangerous to handle, but his engineers were maintaining discipline. He noted several bolts struck the foremast and forecastle, spreading fire quickly. “Well done,” he shouted. “Don’t let the bastards breathe!”

Then fire engulfed the rail amidships, he heard the screams of a ballista crew as the fire struck them all down. The engine was a wreck, he knew. While some hauled away the wounded and dying, others hacked apart the burning engine and cast it overboard as one from the port rail was loosened and moved across to replace it. In the bow they’d turned the heavy ballista toward the starboard rail and were launching much heavier lances into the enemy. He swore bitterly as heavy stones passed through sails and rigging as the enemy catapults tried for his masts. He ignored the sound of bodies striking the deck from above and continued to fight his ship.

“Deck there, lead ships of 6th fleet five miles out from the booms.”

They were the better part of an hour from the boom them, long enough for these ships to engage his own holding the booms before the fleet could arrive. “Very well,” he shouted back, pleased and surprise anyone kept their senses to keep a good watch. Then he hear the sound of snapping timber and looked up to see the forward topmast coming down, dragging down rigging with it. Fowler shouted orders and sailors leapt into action, cutting away debris as the topmen swung into action to correct the rigging.

“Signal the others to maintain full sail,” Durmand shouted back. “Archers, sweep their quarterdeck!”

He felt some satisfaction as the enemy captain and his officers on the deck were riddled, and their quartermaster fell at the wheel. Causing it to swerve and lose the wind, and disrupting the formation. Commodore Fowler called corrections to the replacement quartermaster’s mate at the wheel when she saw the firepot engulf the bows her ship, claiming the heavy ballista, it’s crew and her admiral. She shouted commands to fight the fire as the quartermaster’s mate struggled at the wheel to keep the sails into the wind with the upper rigging and sails ablaze. Then she too fell as a heavy stone shattered the starboard rail and tore off her leg at the thigh. She fought to remain conscious as a sailor rigged a tourniquet on the bloody ruin of her leg. They went to move her and she told them no. “I will not leave the deck while the ship can fight!” She snapped. “Cut away that sail and send more canvass aloft!” she pointed at the flames above.

A surgeon bent over her leg, his hands flying as he cut away the cloth around her stump. “It ain’t good, My Lady,” he told her grimly. “I can’t save this leg.”

“Tie it off and bandage it,” she replied. “And don’t block my view.”

More wreckage crashed into the deck, she was all but dismasted, two stumps and no canvass. “Crews into the boats, tow us clear and keep the engines shooting!” She ordered, her face growing more pale. At least half of her crew was dead or down, most of the officers included. Men tumbled over the side to comply with her orders as a huge explosion shredded the bow, must be the oil for the fire lances,” she reckoned.

“My lady,” the bosun knelt beside her, “we’ll try and tow her clear of the fight, but we don’t have enough left to fight the fires, fight the enemy and tow us clear.”

“I know, Bosun,” she nodded. “But we have to do what we can. Just get us clear, signal the rest to continue the fight, signal Flag Captain Regis to take command, and continue the fight without us.”

More fell or died as the boat crews fought hard to get them clear, towing her stern first as the bow was engulfed in flames. “My Lady,” the bosun said grimly. “The fires are below decks now, we’re bringing up the wounded, but we’re losing her.”

“Take command,” her voice was faint. “Don’t let them have her.”

The bosun, an old sailorman, looked at her with admiration. He’d spent a lifetime at sea, and this was one to remember. “Call in the boats,” he ordered. “Abandon ship!” Then he prepared his ship to burn as those able helped the wounded off. The bosun was last off, he watched the flames leap higher as his ship became an inferno. He took the Commodore’s dispatch book and wrote out a brief report.

“Flagship lost, Admiral killed, Commodore badly wounded, they bought time and we sent the ship down with colors flying. The rest still fight and we hold the booms. We are in boats and getting clear. Signed, Oran Tarralt, Bosun.”

==========================================
"Bugger," Oldwine growled. "It sounds as if the 6th will join the battle, and General Royal is loose in the city, but I hate being so far from the fight. Still, it is their fight."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2017, 07:31:29 AM »
"It is always hard to stay behind and read the reports of those who are injured and killed" she said, "we just have to trust that they will be able to get the job done. It is actually the hardest part about being a Grand Duchess, or even being myself" she shrugged, "the desire to meddle is overwhelming, but I have to trust in others."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2017, 07:42:19 AM »
"All I have to do is remember how much I hated being interfered with, it helped.

============================================================
Captain Cleaver of the 20th Company saw the flaming flagship settle beneath the waves. “Signal those boats, come ashore at the beacon,” he ordered. “Then send a squadron of cavalry to stake out a piece of beach over there and hold it and light a beacon. Move!” He looked back out. “And send a couple of ambulances with them.”

The action on the waterfront was progressing very well. They held two compounds filled with slaves, his engineers had burned several ships in drydocks, his infantry was swarming over docked ships and his cavalry was keeping anyone from the rest of the city from reinforcing the docks. Just a few more hours and the marines from the fleet would join him, he hoped. Either way, this port would be burned and the city as well, even if they had to march the whole way home.

“Get me a cavalry battalion,” Cleaver ordered. “I’m going to loop around the left and come back across the front a few streets over, slow down their reinforcements, perhaps drive them back.”

“Captain, dispatch came through,” a signalman reported. “General Royal went down, Captain Kilmaren has assumed command. They are in possession of all city gates and are driving straight through the city, along five streets, with a company to reinforce us.”

“My compliments to Captain Kilmaren, inform him that we hold the immediate waterfront and are working to make a second line a few streets in, and advance the waterfront forces to clear the area between.” Cleaver dictated. He paused to consider that the original plan called for the ships to attack the harbor without army support, hold all ships in the harbor until the 6th Fleet’s marines could be landed. “Bloody hell,” he grumbled, remembering that they’d lost An admiral and now a general. Fighting on ships was entirely unnatural, and anything could happen there; but, Generals were supposed to have sense enough to stay back from the fight. Something he knew he was supposed to do as he led a battalion into action.

==============================================================
Nearly seven thousand freed from captivity, Taraborne sighed. He was leaning against a low wall, a small meal of bread, salt beef and cheese was laid out on his mess plate, with a canteen of water. Mostly women and children. Those men that they found had been taken as very small children and were pressed in service as porters, loading and unloading ships. He took up a slice of beef and ripped off a bite with his teeth and chewed, ignoring his dirty and blood-flecked hands. The fighting was still fierce in parts of the city. The marines held three of four gates, only the westernmost gate still lay in the hands of Gamedian’s garrison.

“Orderly,” he called loudly. “Message. My compliments to the officers holding the three gates, they are to wreck the gates so they cannot be opened, they will pull down buildings and pile the rubble to further block them and they will join up to take the last gate. That gate could allow them to bring in troops to counterattack us.”

He scanned the written dispatch and signed it quickly before sending it off with runners and turned his attention to the port. “Signalman!” He called. “Send to the troop ships, unloading is too slow, leaving us vulnerable to counterattack. Increase unloading speed or answer for this failure.”

He sighed and wrote a report back to Tamber City. “Pressed but holding, nearly 7,000 freed and safe for now, more coming to us. Preparing for preemptive spoiling attacks to prevent counterattacks. Many wounded, count unsure. Taraborne sends.”

“Color Sergeant,” he said around a mouth stuffed with salt beef as he pulled on his gauntlets. “It is time to put the spurs to some marine backsides. Gather me a battalion, I am going to lead the attack on the western gate from here. They keep getting fresh troops, it has to be from there.”

“Aye, sir,” she nodded sharply and started shouting her own orders.

Taraborne turned to his first officer. “Methia,” he rubbed his face with a cloth, ruining the rag. “Get our charges onto barges or anything else that we can use and put them aboard, we can’t keep them ashore, they are an anchor around our necks. It’s not going to be easy, but stuff them anywhere that you can. Call in our ships to load and tow. If we don’t hurry there won’t be any marines left to board anyway. I’m going to go put an end to these wasting attacks.”

Taraborne had five cohorts, five hundred men to launch his attack. He formed one cohort into a flying wedge, solid lines behind large heavy shields. He took up a line shield and slung his own on his back and drew his short sword. They advanced down the wide street, rapping swords on shields and driving into the formations sent against them. She shield wall held, men fell and rank-fillers from behind stepped into their place. Short swords lashed out, low thrusts to the belly, hamstringing cuts, whatever it took to maintain the momentum. The ranks behind pushing them forward.

As they approached the gate several threw themselves at the head of the wedge, recognizing the command flag near its apex. Taraborne’s shield was finally pulled down and his short sword lodged in an opponent’s ribs and pulled free. Bellowing defiance he drew his greatsword and stepped forward, cutting a bloody swath as he roared curses and insults, leaving arms, legs and heads in his wake. He saw Royal Marines driving at him from the north and knew that if they could drive harder they would link up and clear the gate. He finally slipped his shield from his back and called for two squads to follow him, and charged up a set of stone steps leading to the top of the wall and the upper gatehouse.

An hour later he took up a quill in a heavily bandaged hand. “I have the honor to report that all gates into the city are sealed, all marines finally ashore and sweeping the city. I have ordered all captives evacuated, when this is accomplished, we will withdraw from the city and the port. Taraborn signs.” He ignored the bloodstains on the report and sent it off.

=========================================================
"Sounds like Gamedian reinfoced and Taraborne cut them off and secured the last gate, meaning he holds the walls and waterfront." He referred to another dispatch. "Captain Kilmaren reports that he is ordering all captives, infantry and engineers onto barges and captured ships, he's going to have the cavalry break out from the city and drive north, holding the western bank of the river, they'll board the cavalry later and all return north. It looks as if the navy scored a rout as well. Oddly enough, the stronger fighting was with Taraborne ashore and Durmand's side at sea. Western casualties were surprisingly light, even considering the flagship." He studied things a bit longer. Kilmaren is good, not surprising considering who his father is, I suppose. He''s fighting smart. Taraborne is also no one to be trifled with, judging by the blood on this, he's seen action."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2017, 07:55:50 AM »
"I have never meddled with you in battle" she said before he read the newest reports. "Who is Killimaren's father? I don't think I know that name" she added.

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2017, 07:58:37 AM »
"Barcus Kilmaren, his father, took in a young girl named Franchesca before the Third Great War," Oldwine replied. "Barcus is retired now, but he was a damned good soldier. He lives in Wisnore now, being spoiled by Lady Bragg. He spent a lot of years out in the Frontier fighting bandits, and lived to talk about it."

============================================================================
Taraborne returned to the docks to find an angry Captain of Marines waiting to confront him. “Who do you think you are?” The man roared. “By what authority do you presume to criticize my landings?”

Taraborne pulled off his helmet, a deep cut over his left eye almost blinded him with blood before it finally started to scab. His angry blue eyes stared out from blood and bruises. “I am the man that can thrash you and finally put a little blood on that pristine uniform, and I’ll get a bloody medal for having done so,” he growled with deadly calm. “I am the man that freed the captives and thrashed the garrison of this city without you. If you take exception to my actions, I invite you to make your charges to the Marshall of the Frontier, but you’ll do it from somewhere else, get off of my field, return to your ship or I will send you back, by force and under arrest. If you object further, come to Tamber with a sword in your hand, I’ll make sure that your ashes are returned to your family.” He poured his canteen over his face and accepted a relatively clean rag from a marine. “Color Sergeant, see this man removes himself from my command, at once.”

Color Sergeant Darragan drew her sword, the white of her surcoat was filthy, but still marked her as a Lady Defender of the Palatine Order.  “Walk, or be carried, Captain,” she snapped.

By dawn the captives were loaded into everything they could find that could sail or be towed and were assembling to sail at the mouth of the river. “Message from flagship, 11th Squadron,” the signalman reported. “The admiral directs you to report to him aboard his flagship.”

“Reply, my orders do not allow me to comply with your request, I am directed by the Marshall of the Frontier that the safety of my charges are my paramount concern, we are leaving at once in accordance with these orders.”

Taraborne was stripped from his armor on deck, his armor was carried off to be cleaned by his steward. A few sailors worked the deck pump and he scrubbed himself off with a coarse brush and a bar of rough soap before he permitted himself to be taken to his cabin to see a surgeon.

Before he would allow himself to eat or rest, he drafted a report, after reading the reports from his ships. “My Lord, I have the honor to report that we are sailing with a good following wind north toward Tamber. We have in our barges and captured ships, 6,878 freed peoples. We have lost two 6th Rate ships, and 625 killed and 189 wounded. All remaining vessels ready in all respects, despite some battle damage.” He paused and fully detailed his interactions with the 6th Fleet’s 11th Squadron and it’s Captain of Marines and Admiral. He further laid out the land actions in the city and the actions of his ships in the battle. He finally concluded the long report with the words. “We are coming home.”

=====================================================================
"I need to make sure that the engineers have the encampments set up," Oldwine sighed. "I'm not sure of the count yet from the western port, but it has to be a lot. The east are bgining a whole lot. We've got our work cut out for us."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2017, 08:09:37 AM »
"I have met Barcus Killmaren" she admitted, "he was the ambassador to Valcaster when the rebellion began. He moved into my town house when I moved into the Traveler's Red Wall section. I was not aware he retired" she shrugged, "again."


"It sounds like Taraborne is a bit crowded, has General Telbrantil-Melldress arrived back with the troop ships? If so, perhaps we should send a few to meet Taraborne so he can redistribute people. We could also send additional supplies, medical personnel and support."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2017, 08:25:27 AM »
"They haven't made it to the camps yet," he replied. "I have things to look into. I've ordered camps built along the river in the south, and Iron Wolf is helping with camps in the west. First we need to get families together, we need to know who they are and where they're from, and we need to get them everything they'll need to live. The Palatine Charities are on their way out with a lot, and I understand that your father is already looking at where they'll camp and whatever else your father decides to do. Probably a lot." He looked over a large board on his wall covered in names. "I'm going to promote Taraborn to Admiral over the whole River Squadron, Kilmaren to command of Fifth Corps. If Commodore Fowler doesn't retire, and can return to duty, I'm going to offer her command of the Squadron Headquarters port and shipyards, put her close to home and family." He shook his head. "I've visited Lord Fowler, not a happy man, but he knew the risks when she took her commission." He picked up another report. "Taraborne remains on duty, he's got a lot of nicks and dents though, I need that man healed, he and I have some fighting to do with the navy."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2017, 08:41:01 AM »
Tamalyn knew that she could heal him, even from here, but it would not be right to do so with so many others injured on his ships. "I will take care of Taraborne when he returns" she told him, "sooner if you prefer, but that isn't really fair to the rest of the injured. I will work with my father to help get the camps set up. I am certain that you will be able to handle the navy, they will be all high and mighty" she shrugged, "but it's all bluster. I do not think my uncle or the king will back their complaints" she added. "We can do this, we have been doing this" she assured him. "Go, tend to your duties" she said seeing his antsy stance.

Tamalyn changed her clothes then went to see Duke Fowler. "Your Grace" she said when she was shown in. "I came to express my sadness in the injuries of your daughter."
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 09:42:04 AM by Milady Kim »

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2017, 10:12:01 AM »
"What we need is a good magic healer that can bully him into recovering," Oldwine snorted. "He won't let himself be healed all that much, no commander will let himself be seen to place their care over their command's, but there's plenty that can be healed that can'r be seen. Besides, he's going to want to be spry when he sees his new flagship. The Shipyard in Delloram has refitted a 3rd class coaster for river work, it'll be the largest ship in the squadron, when it arrives in the next few days."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2017, 10:30:56 AM »
Tamalyn smiled at Oldwine, "I have had ti convince stubborn commanders into being healed before. And, if I cannot convince him I think my mother can. I have been thinking about Commodore Fowler as well. I know that she would never allow me to regrow her leg. But, I can assist her with a suitable prosthetic and assist her rehabilitation. That would give her the best mobility for service or retirement, should she choose that" she added. "Though, I think if she fully accepts my aid that she will wish to accept the port commander position you offer her.

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2017, 10:51:52 AM »
"That is something best handled by her father," he replied. "Family will try and help her find what is best for her, comfortably. As soon as Taraborne is fit to fight, he and I need to raid the Royal Navy, we need sailors and officers and we have ships to replace. That means that I need to grab all the shipwrights and engineers that I can as well. While I'm at it, I think I'll spike the wheel of a certain admiral in the 6th Fleet that's annoyed with Taraborne. Their marines were slow to land, sending scouts first rather than trust our scouts already in place, they could have caused the failure of the whole operation, and forced Taraborne to try and salvage things on his own. They cost me marines. I won't have that."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2017, 11:25:32 AM »
Tamalyn frowned, "I did not intend to push her rither way. My efforts for her will be to give her back her mobility, without making any decisions for her. She, and her father, can decide what she chooses to do in the long term. I only said that I thought she would take the position, and I based that on my experience with soldiers. Her father is a Palatine, and she is too, she will not go down without a fight" Tamalyn informed him.


"As for the Navy; from what you told me in the reports, neither naval force was where they should have been and acted with extreme caution causing far more deaths and injuries than were necessary.  Taraborne's reaction to the Admiral was very similar to what your own would have been, I would stand by you and I will stand by him" she said with affirmation in her tone.


"I still think we should consider sending healers and physicians to the first camp being set up. I am certain that there are many who will require aid and slavers have a tendency to let illnesses fester in order to control their captives. With so many sick and injured they are going to need additional support" she added.

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2017, 01:41:32 PM »
"It might be a good idea for you to track down your father as well, if for no other reason, to find out where he is building the camps, so we can send people to them."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2017, 02:32:50 PM »
"He is rarely difficult for me to find him, though he does occasionally block me" she added. "I will go help him. Let me know when the supplies and support staff is ready to move to the camp. After I have that done, I am going to go see Duke Fowler" she informed him.

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2017, 04:34:37 PM »
Her father was sitting in a comfortable chair, looking over a rather spiffy-looking camp, camp was stretching the word a bit as the buildings were all wooden and was laid out like a large town, all ready to move into. "There's one to the west too," he said, by way of greeting. "And all sorts of people headed in this direction. You have the attention of every goodie-goodie bunch of do-gooders in the Realm."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2017, 05:21:26 PM »
She nodded, "yes, Oldwine mentioned that." She pulled a chair out and placed it next to his, then sat down beside him. "Almost seven thousand freed prisoners, most women and children. I am glad we were able to free them" she said, "but I wish the cost hadn't been so high" she admitted to her father. She hadn't said anything of the sort to Oldwine, and she never would. But, she knew she could talk to her father about how she felt. "There is still so much I am not sure about. Like where did the slavers go from the second encampment? Did Taraborne manage to get the books he felt would have locations for the slavers port of calls? How many people did Malea lose, how many did she free?" She shrugged, "this is the hardest part about being a Grand Duchess. Sending people into harms way while I stay behind and worry about them" she admitted. "Oldwine got a taste of it this time, and he did not like it at all" she added.

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2017, 07:23:47 PM »
"No commander, worth their salt, wants to send others out. The good ones want to lead from the front," he shrugged. "I'm willing to bet that Taraborne couldn't sit on his boat and leave the fighting to others either. You never find out more than the very basic details in preliminary reports, it's not until they have time to sit down and flesh out the skeleton reports that you'll know everything that happened."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2017, 07:45:49 PM »
She nodded, "I know. This isn't the first time I have experienced this. It just doesn't get any easier" she added. "Oldwine really wanted me to come talk to you.  I think he just wanted me to leave him be for a while, but he wanted me safe too" she shrugged. "He suggested that I needed to ask you what your plans were for the freed prisoners. But, then he also said the Palatine Charity Committee is heading our way" she shrugged, "like I said, he wanted me safely out of his hair."

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2017, 08:05:32 PM »
"I'm sure that while there is some truth to that, you may be exaggerating a bit," he grinned. "I am surprised that he didn't go down and check on things himself, but that would imply a lack of confidence in his officers, which wouldn't be good. Besides, I'm sure they're busy enough dealing with banged up boats and people, on top of all of the people they're bringing back. He paused. Wasn't Barcus Kilmaren's boy down there too?"

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Re: The Tamber Saga
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2017, 08:16:35 PM »
"Yes, he took command of the miltia that was with Admiral Durmand after both Durmand and Royal died. From what little was reported, he did well. I believe that Oldwine will be promoting him to commander fifth corps of the second army." She paused, "oh and Taraborne has ticked off a Royal Navy Admiral by refusing to report to him. Ah, the political games" she shook her head, "are always so much fun" she said with sarcasm.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 08:23:28 PM by Milady Kim »

 

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