November 29, 794
A while had passed since Reeven had returned with the rest of the Red Bastion Expedition. King Rolshin had remained true to his word and supplied him with whatever he wanted. That consisted of new bows, a force to command, and a new life to begin.
Reeven tested his two new handbows. Fitting one over each forearm, they held ten bolts apiece. Crafted to his exact wishes, they were made as light as possible, and could fire three bolts in a second. In order to pull the trigger, he had to push a button on the weapon where his palm was with his thumb. Pointing at the targets that had been set up nearby, he launched a bolt from each bow. Both hit the center of the targets, getting a round of applause from his men.
The five hundred archers he commanded were gathered to practice their trade. To do that, Reeven had decided on a little competition between his men. The top 1% of the force would be the Elite, and travel with him. They were divided into a tournament, ten to a target. The winner of each target would continue on to the second round, in which there would be ten to a target again. The winners of this round would be the elite, but would continue to see who was the best archer.
Watching the competition from hundreds of feet above, Ravyson was testing his new armor. Instead of a sword, he had decided to use gauntlets as a offensive and defensive tool. His new weapons had a retractable blade on arm, and were strong enough to withstand blows of great magnitude. He also had a breastplate, made to his specifications. It was tinged with blue, and had an etched picture of Frostbite, his dragon. The dragon had been returned to the northlands, but could be called back if needed. The finishing touch was a blue cape that marked him as the commander of a his own force.
Dropping down quickly, Ravyson landed deftly next to Reeven. "Think the winner will be better than you?"
Reeven laughed at his friend. "No one could be that good! Remember, I've had over a hundred years of life to practice!"
Ravyson let the fact that he had been frozen in time for that period slip. "Good point." The two had become good friends ever since the day that Ravyson and Jerreck had found him outside the Masoleum of Mohab. Their similar requests to King Rolshin had helped also. Now they were able to enjoy themselves without the constant threat of a painful death.
The first round of the competition was ending. The judges declared the winner of each target, and pulled the arrows out. The winners moved to their new targets, at which they prepared to find out who was the best.
Moments later, it was decided. The five winners walked up to Reeven, who gave them each the bows that had been offered as the prize to the victors. The five who were now the elite told Reeven their names: Jhonn, Sedium, Purget, Grayden, and Xiansen. After watching them compete for the top place, Xiansen ended up on top. The rest placed in order of Purget, Sedium, Jhonn, and Grayden. Reeven congratulated each of them, and assigned each a group of 100 to manage.
Ravyson smiled. He had his own men train earlier, and were on a break that had been well-earned. Training resumed in three days. Ravyson thought about his own men, and launched himself back into the air, where all was quiet except for the birds.
The next day, Grayden's men had first chance at the targets. Early in the morning, his company of 100 was taking their turn with the targets, with Grayden moving up and down the line, giving instructions to any archer who seemed to be having trouble. All were good shots, but few were of the same natural ability as their leader.
The targets had been arranged for the morning so that the rising sun was to the backs of the archers. Squinting into the dawn, Grayden could make out a handful of figures, watching from one of the parapets of Justice Keep.
Grayden looked curiously at them for a time, but couldn't make out their identity. Grumbling to himself, he returned to his instruction.
On the end target, one of the archers was particularly struggling. He was barely striking the target itself, let alone the bulls-eye. He sent up a loud curse as his most recent shot soared over the target by a few feet.
Grayden meandered to the end. The bowman was still fuming, and hadn't yet reloaded. Grayden approached the archer. "Some trouble here, soldier?"
"Let me see another shot, then."
The bowman nocked another arrow. He attempted to concentrate on his aim. Beads of sweat were visible on his forehead. He brought the bow up, drew, and loosed.
The arrow grazed the top of the target, missing the rings completely. The archer's eyes flared. Under his breath, he muttered, "Blasted bow!"
"Trouble with your weapon, soldier?" Grayden's voice was cool and intimidating. All eyes were on the incident at the end of the line. All other shots had ceased.
The archer's head whipped around. "Here, you try with it then." Smirking, the bowman handed his weapon over to his commander.
Grayden, undaunted, calmly picked up an arrow, nocked, drew, and loosed, with barely a pause to aim. It flew smoothly and sank into the target, two rings above the bulls-eye. Not a perfect shot, but accurate to suit its purpose. The bowman carefully studied his feet.
Grayden handed the bow back to him. "You'll need some more practice, on your own time. I expect to see you out here, as long as the range is free. Perhaps Reeven can help instruct you."
The archer nodded, clearly not wishing to press his luck any further. Grayden nodded, satisfied with the outcome. He turned to order his men to resume, when another arrow sailed over his head, missing it by only a few feet. It sank heavily into the target and quivered there, almost centered in the bulls-eye. Grayden turned in astonishment, looking for the source. Finally he looked up at the parapet, where he was able to make out one of the observers unstringing a bow.
Latros gave a slight wave to the astonished commander, with a broad smile on his face. At his side, Dvorak was nearly doubled over with laughter. "Did you see the way he looked around? His eyes were so wide that you could see them from here!"
Torlax nodded at the remark, smiling himself. Latros had just recently returned from tending to the fallen Wolfriders, and when he had heard that one of the companions had asked for a post with the Dantimian archers, he had insisted on watching their competition. Once he had been assured that only a few of the archers were even in his league, he decided that this was the best way to prove it.
Latros was still grinning as the trio descended from the parapet. "Let's see what happens when Grayden reports THAT to his commander!" Dvorak convulsed again with laughter as they returned to their chambers. Torlax watched them go, then turned and went off to prepare for the king's council that afternoon.
OOC: Where would we be stationed?
OOC: You mean, where would you be stationed in the kingdom? Do you have a preference? In my initial vision for Dantimos, we don't really have a huge standing army that roams around, but rather we have many soldiers in reserves at home to be called on if needed. Your archer company can pretty much pick its post. There are five options: The Ashen Plains, central to Dantimos and home to Justice Keep, also the most peaceful; New Avalon, recently without leadership (more to come on this: I will attempt to turn this into a storyline, anyone interested in participating, let me know); Deep Shadow, only part of which is under Dantimian control, with the occasional dark elf threat, but that's rare; Loebar, home of the dwarves, on the eastern border, mountainous terrain, frequent orc and goblin activity but not much use for archers; or my preference, the Western Territory, with unexplored and uncivilized wilderness, and if anyone remembers, a defeated warlord still loose in the countryside, but gone quiet (this was another potential plot, but as of yet I have seen no reason to introduce it, I think Phaema is bored of typical wars).
As I said, I would choose the Western Territory, but if you would prefer, I can station you in New Avalon. Since Blackdragon left, I do expect to run a succession storyline, but I'm still planning it. I should have more than enough time to make posts for the next month; on the other hand, I don't want to go back to college and then leave the story hanging for long periods like the RBS did. I had intended for the other more frequent posters to carry the storyline for long distances, but it seems no one wanted to determine the course of a story they didn't start. We'll see how things go for the next story, I'll try to stay more active during it.
There's your major options, if you don't want one of them, there are other interesting possibilities: exploration expedition in the west, with assistance from more of the army; a journey to the Eastern Continent, where I can set up a war scenario and let you defend our allies there; or perhaps some other diplomatic or exploratory post.
The Ashen Desert was the remnant of Deep Shadow after it was burned down by Mary the Atog Goddess. When the damage was repaired by Tara, the Ashen Desert became no more. It no longer exists and hasn't existed for two and a half years!
I'm planning the Dantimos army to get some usage with the barbarian threat.
I know, Elrohir :-)
I didn't say Ashen Desert, I said Ashen Plains. The "Ashen" term is merely a reminder of the history of the place. I saw on the homepage that it was renamed the Ahzul Valley, but I use both terms. I figured that the residents of the place would be more likely to want to retain their heritage. In game terms the Ashen Plains are still flowing grasslands.
Ravyson: I haven't been following closely the other posts of the Mill. What barbarian threat? From what quarter? Dantimos is not really seeking another war right now, even after the RBS it hasn't truly recovered from the BMW. If you could tell me a little about the barbarians and where they are right now, it would be appreciated. But I have an idea of how to work them into the current state of affairs in Dantimos.
The barbarians I created that are taking advantage of the current state of weakness that Dantimos has fallen into. They come from the northwest, across the mountain range that I'm having trouble remembering. They are gathering forces from the towns in that area. Read anything referring to BIS for more.