"Mages." Scoffed Sir Branden as he sheathed his sword. “Not a damn one in the bunch." he said as turned the corpse over with his boot "King's orders." reminded Sir Karn as he handed over the torch. Sir Karn was man past fifty and lived through enough kings to see what happens to knights from lesser houses who defy them. “We should head back." urged Karn as he tugged on his gray cloak. Sir Branden nodded and the two began to walk away, Branden was a young knight of nineteen years of age from a lesser house with a small keep and no army, his green cloak over light plated armor that bore no sigil of any noble house. Branden urged by his father to join Lord Cascane’s band of warriors operating under orders directly from the king himself, to bring honor and glory to his family name.
Branden had been victorious in a melee held by Sir Jason Cascane in a small tent outside of his holdings, he invited knights from the lesser houses sworn to his own, hedge knights and a dozen sell swords. He had won his bouts against a sell sword from Ielwold and two knights from Black Marsh and given a personal invitation by Sir Jason Cascane himself to ride with his band. It had been a fortnight and every night they went into villages that bordered Blackbay and the Midvale and questioned the small folk that lived there.
He studied Sir Karn's and could see a man that resembled his father with his shaggy gray hair and stocky short frame and wanted to state his unease killing men in fishing villages, but now was not the time and this was not the man to mention it to. Karn was a man of iron, served well and did not ask questions “The camp is two miles north along the river." stated Karn, the knights order by King Roland I where thirty in all. For a fortnight, the knights been ordered to find a mage leading a rebellion, but each raid turned up nothing but innocent men dead. Magic was a rarity and if you were born with the gift to weave spells most you could do is simple tricks and illusions. Most courts had mages yet they were to read lore and cast small enchantments or create potions.
They continued to follow the river and made it to the camp, no banner flew and was silent; it looked like a brigand camp. With Oar's Rest held by Lord Randall Brightwater, just a few miles north and word of this getting out before they left would be bad. As they strode into the camp twelve men sat at a fire, a few knights from lesser houses and sell swords save for Sir Jason of House Cascane; dressed in boiled leather armor dyed black with his heavy double-handed axe on his hip his face sharp featured with short black hair and scruffy beard.
Lord Gideon Hywin; called the King's shadow an assassin he well past his prime but his eyes were sharper than knives. "Did you two find anything?" asked Lord Hywin barely lifting his head to notice them. "No milord" replied Sir Karn, “The others have not returned yet," Lord Hywin said as he arose from his seat, dressed in an emerald waistcoat with high black boots. He stroked his beard that was black and peppered with white, “When they return we will head out." he said before he walked away into his tent.
Sir Jason motioned to Sir Branden to sit beside him, “Sir Branden how are you?" he asked “I am well, milord." he said as bowed his head slightly. The two men talked for a long while a few more men joined the fire, they spoke of their families, battles fought with Sir Jason acting out how he triumphantly won the battle of Flintforge with only a few hundred men and maidens he bedded. "Ride with me to the crown lands to meet the king.” Sir Jason said as he patted Branden on his back and smiled, “Of course milord, I would be honored." Branden fought to not let his emotions show.
“I am going to go check on Lord Hywin." Sir Jason stood up smiled and walked into the tent, Sir Karn joined Branden handing him a horn of wine. “Aye boy, you alright?" Karn asked as he took a deep sip of wine, Branden nodded and drank his wine. "Where is Lord Hywin?" a voice yelled, “Lord Hywin" it yelled again. A man dressed in leather armor with a fur cloak carrying a satchel, darted towards the fire. He was mid thirties with a scruffy beard “Where is Lord Hywin?", "In the tent" a knight pointed out. "Thank-you kind sir" he said then he walked into the tent, a few minutes later out came the three men. Lord Hywin walked towards the fire “You can all leave, return to your own holdings." he commanded. No one asked why and they all headed in separate directions, “King’s orders," Karn said before he vanished from sight.
“Sir Branden we are riding towards the King's lands ready yourself." Sir Jason said and they headed to the stables. Sir Jason had warhorse, a big muscular black stallion “Milord what was the meaning of the sudden departure?" asked Branden as he mounted his horse. Lord Gideon Hywin and Othor Graceford rode in front of them while two more knights rode behind them. “Milord what was the meaning of the sudden departure?" asked Branden as he mounted his horse. "See that man, he is Othor Graceford and what he brought with him is nothing but trouble" Sir Jason replied as he tugged on the reins.