Author Topic: Tocoto's Heroic Tale  (Read 1524 times)

Daycryn

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Tocoto's Heroic Tale
« Topic Start: April 22, 2012, 06:50:30 PM »
Reports from Tocoto Daycryn, Knight of Ossmat:
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Ossmat is under attack! ...What are we doing in Unger? I've been patient enough, though my men are seven days unpaid and unhappy about being so far from home, yet it seems that we simply move around - slowly - while the war rages on, to our detriment.

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14 of my men have cowardly fled the unit. Those who remain have extremely low morale. They're angry about being far away from home and not getting paid.

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Ten more men have deserted my unit. Perhaps they are angry not just for being unpaid and far away from home, but being from Ossmat and sitting here in a foreign land doing absolutely nothing while the Daimons wreck havoc makes them question their leadership.

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Thirty-three more of my men have deserted during the night. I now have just fifteen out of seventy-five troops that I set out with... that is 80% casualties, except we didn't fight a single battle.

What a waste!


Winifael.

"Quite a lot of banners and companies assembled here," Tocoto remarked.

Captain Ernst waited a respectful moment before saying, "Is there a plan to do anything with this army, sire?"

Tocoto shrugged and sighed. "I should like to believe there is. But I admit I have doubts as to that. Ossmat is burning. We had reports of Daimon movement many days ago, reports of battles fought, and still our orders were to move out farther and farther from the fighting. I wanted to return at once, but our Lord Treasurer all but called me a fool. A brave lady suggested something similar, that perhaps we should be looking to fight the Daimons rather than march around in the middle of nowhere, and our good Emperor all but called her a coward. Orders come in sporadically at best, and they're usually to rally in some place I've never heard of, for some mysterious purpose and who am I to question the wisdom of our plan? Just a knight."

Ernst seemed to decide that this was the moment to report that more than twenty more of the men deserted during the night.

"DAMN their inaction!" Tocoto swore, kicking over a bucket of water, breaking it with his armored boot. "What's that leave us with now, fifteen? We set out from Ossmat with seventy-five! That's more casualties the unit has ever suffered and we haven't even fought a single battle!"

The captain had nothing to say to this.

"We've been marching around here for a week now! What can they possibly be thinking? Help our glorious allies? FINE, I say, then we should have DONE so. Are we helping them with our collection of pretty banners? Now it's practically too late. The men will probably throw rocks at me if for some odd reason I do get the order to move. And if they don't, all they will be able to do is throw bloody rocks at the bloody Daimons! Assuming we go to fight them at all, and not just march around like fools while the war is lost!"

"Perhaps you should give voice to these concerns, sire. You're a knight of Ossmat, surely they must take your words into account?" Ernst suggested.

"Bloody hell I will! And have my leaders call me a fool and a coward? They know the situation, surely, unless they are truly evil or foolish themselves. Gods save us all if that be so. I tell you, sometimes...." He lowered his voice. "Sometimes I wonder if they are working for the Daimons. We've handed our capital city to them on a silver platter, and made of our good army a paltry force. It would make as much sense as anything else. Sometimes I..."

But he restrained himself from speaking these thoughts, even to his captain in private. The Daimons were true evil, he knew, and the only honor to be had was in fighting them. Anything else was reprehensible, cowardly. He finished with a different thought: "Sometimes I have no faith in humanity." That was better than what he had been about to say, but still probably demoralizing to poor Ernst, who'd been his loyal man since coming to the realm.

He turned to the battle-hardened and presently entirely useless soldier. "Never mind all that. I'm just ranting. The situation angers me. My estates are under threat and there's nothing I can do. You understand. We'll get through this. It may be bloody - hopefully it will be, in fact - but it will pass."

Ernst said, "A lot of the men feel as you do, sire. Most are from Ossmat. Born and raised." And you were not, the unstated part of that sentiment in the brief glance the captain gave seemed to accuse him. It put Tocoto to shame. "They just want to be doing something for their time and effort to help their homeland."

"And if not, at least some gold, right?" Tocoto half-smiled, but only briefly. That was another thing he could do nothing about. "Well, I have over two hundred in bonds. If only that were of any use to them, it would be of use to me as well."

He sighed, and frowned with a dark look in his eye. "Well, let's to the camp. Can't look pretty when they can't see us. Maybe the Daimons will hear of how pretty we all look and will surrender."

It was a sad little joke. The captain gave a single, half-hearted snort of breath, humoring him.



Pomatim.

"Give us the gold."

"Wha...?" Tocoto rubbed his head. Something was very wrong. The last thing he remembered, he was ordering the men to march to Pomatim. No, they were marching, they'd gone right ahead, only fifteen had remained but good old Ernst had them in control and -

"The gold. Now."

No! Now he remembered. The entire army was marching, and his unit had just gone through a shaded copse and he'd gone to refill his water from a nearby creek and then he'd been attacked from behind. Several of the men had grabbed him, knocking him face-first into the dirt, bending his sword arm back and beating on his helmet with a rock. He had time to look up at captain Ernst, getting his throat slit by one of the footmen who'd accosted him as well. Then all had gone red and black for him.

Until now, when the bandits seemed to be demanding his gold. He was tied up, his sword and helmet and shield missing. His purse had been cut off. There goes seven whole coins, he thought dryly. Only they weren't bandits, they were his men. Ossmat Daimon-Slayers. Seventy-five had left the capital a week ago, but over the past few days, complaining about lack of pay and distance from home - a home being burnt to the ground, if the reports were true - desertion had plagued the unit, giving it a pretty high casualty rate considering they'd fought in no battles.

"You've got the gold," he heard himself say. His throat was dry and sore, his mouth tasting very much like salt and dust and blood.

"Bugger this," one of the ruffians said. "It's like he said. We've looked everywhere. All he had were the seven."

"Yeah. Maybe the rest he's got up his arse."

"Probably does!"

There was cruel laughter, while rage made Tocoto's eyes tear as he thought blackly about the great and severe punishment the cowards would all suffer at his hands. "I'd have given you your damn pay if I'd had it," he said through gritted teeth.

"Bah! We've all heard it, day after day! Your dog Ernst told us, didn't he?"

"Oh yes, Ernst told us, we told Ernst, and well that's that, innit?"

"Traitors!" he shouted. They hadn't thought to gag him. Presumably so he could tell them where to find more gold? But perhaps the rest of the army was miles away and no one could hear him. He raised his voice, difficult though it was on his belly and his chin in the dirt. "Cowards! I'll have every one of you hanged!"

"Now, now, now, my lord, oh my lord, I wouldn't be saying such things, if it please you, just now, my lord," someone said, and planted his own sword inches into the ground just inches from his head.

"Let's just kill him and be done with it. I'm sick of his mouth."

"I get his breast-plate!"

"I'll search his arse!"

"Ha ha!"

Just then a horn sounded - a battle horn, and then more trumpets. The call was surprisingly loud. He heard the blasts from the Legion, and those of Old Grehk's allies, and then more he could not recognize, and much shouting and the pounding of heavy horse hooves. Battle, he knew, and he swore under his breath as he realized the battle against Overlord must be going on even now, and they were missing it, because of these cowards.

But the men must have been confused, and drunk to boot, for panic took them quickly. They stumbled over themselves in haste to get away, perhaps thinking the rest of the army was coming for them. In a few moments he found himself alone, struggling against the poorly tied ropes while the chaos of battle, the roaring of daimons and shouts of men and screams of horses blended together, so close, so loud, yet so far away.

By the time he stumbled, helmetless and shieldless (but the ruffians had left him his sword in their haste to leave), toward the battle, it was already over. The carnage on the field was unbelievable. The glory of what had happened had passed him by, the fury of the Daimons had won but they had apparently lost one of their greatest beasts - could that be Overlord himself? he knew not -  and he had nothing to show for it but dishonor.

Dishonor, shame, and endless anger.


Ossmat.

Chaos and madness enveloped the city. Tocoto carefully picked his way through rubble-strewn streets and abandoned buildings, making sure not to be spotted by the enemy.

Unfortunately some of the survivors saw him: sword in hand, armored torso and legs and arms, a true Knight of Ossmat - he must have looked like some sort of shining savior. They were a filthy man and woman, their clothes turned to sweat-and-blood-stained rags, a wide-eyed, dull look on both their faces. He wondered if either of them had been anything but a beggar even before the Darkest Hour had come upon them. The woman fell at his knees, hugging his legs and sobbing loudly. Through the blubbering cries he managed to discern she was begging him to help them, take them away, be their rescuer.

"Quiet, woman. Quiet!" he growled, but she was beyond hearing. The man looked somewhat sheepishly, gave a shrug, and pleaded with his eyes alone. At least he had that decency - and sense. No way was Tocoto going to risk himself for these clowns. "Quiet!" he said again, louder, but it was no use. If she heard, the refusal only made her sob heart-brokenly and louder. Damn her.

He kicked her away, and then she started screaming. No time to think now. She'd bring the whole damn horde on him. He lifted his sword-arm and ran her through the neck with it. Her noises turned to a sickly wet gasping sound as blood spilled down her brown wool potato-sack. The man's eyebrows raised to his bald head's roof and his mouth gaped open. Tocoto decided he couldn't risk the man screaming too, and he opened the man's neck with a backhand slash that nearly took his head off.

Stealthily, quickly, Tocoto moved out of the now-lifeless building - some shoppe or tavern, he couldn't tell anymore and didn't care - and continued his way through the city.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2012, 06:52:27 PM by Daycryn »
Lokenth, Warrior of Arcaea, former Adventurer
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Daycryn

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Re: Tocoto's Heroic Tale
« Reply #1: April 25, 2012, 06:45:39 PM »
Kell.

Tocoto arrived in the backwater of Kell with sixty-five men. The Survivors of Ossmat, he called them, although in truth he was the only one who qualified for that title. These were nearly barbarians, with no discipline, armed with a hodgepodge of weaponry and armor ranging from 'rather fierce' to 'embarrassingly inept,' who shuffled clumsily along the road in a disorderly mob. He'd been lucky to get them, though. Together they'd left Ossmat with no trouble, following the command he'd received to rally in Kell. Hoping all the while for the glorious command to return in strength to his city where they could throw off the Daimonic invaders.

Today a messenger came, bearing reports. Grim news, the man said. The Lord of Verdomite, the Duke of Lake Salaman, and two knights had been captured by the Netherworld. The Grehkian Legion and allies from Sint had fought a great battle, mustering well over a thousand men at arms, and lost. In Ossmat.

They'd fought a battle in Ossmat. His own commander led Old Grehk's forces. In Ossmat, where he'd just been. While he had been following his own orders to rally in Kell. In Kell.

The parchment report crumpled in his hand. He gritted his teeth.

Slowly he commanded his breath to slow down.

"Captain Ernst!" he shouted angrily. The most reasonable thing to do in this unreasonable situation was to train this heap of vermin into something resembling a fit military unit. "Ernst, let's train this heap of-"

Suddenly it dawned on him. Ernst was dead. He had no captain. Some of the men nearby were looking at him oddly.

Gods, he thought. Am I losing my mind?
Lokenth, Warrior of Arcaea, former Adventurer
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Daycryn

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Re: Tocoto's Heroic Tale
« Reply #2: May 02, 2012, 05:26:22 PM »
Ossmat.

The memories of the attack became a dark blur in his mind. Twice his Survivors of Ossmat bravely attacked the horrors of the Daimons, both times bloody defeats. After the battle was definitively lost he looked to rally the survivors of his Survivors, but couldn't find them. He remembered vaguely stumbling around the charred and blackened battlefield that had once been a proud city with outlaying estates, calling out half-remembered names, his voice falling flat as if he was trapped in a prison cell.

Black clouds blotted out the sun. The screams of the damned filled the world. The smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils. It smelled like roasting pork. He retched several times over himself, head pounding in pain and confusion. He hadn't been wounded, not like the Emperor had (two days ago? four? he couldn't tell anymore), but he felt plagued and weakened all the same. He felt as though he were drowning and his armor was dragging him down further from the sun. Was it day or night?

The triumphant noises of the Daimons drove him to make haste away from this blighted place. When last he received reports, the capital had been moved to Vozzessdor. He knew that was to the southeast. But there were no stars to guide him, no scouts to help him, and even the roads were nearly obliterated with rubble and corpses. Everywhere there was darkness; he could barely see. He tried to follow his ears, to stay away from the beastly Daimons and their helpless victims, but sound played tricks on him. Once he thought he was well away from them when suddenly a loud, inhuman howl pierced the air and he saw dim, shadowy shapes and flickering flames ahead. He stumbled and turned around yet again, now trying to go where the rubble and destruction was least.

But destruction was everywhere. He wondered when he might wake from this terrible dream, this nightmare worse than anything he had ever experienced before.

At one point he thought he came upon his old estate. The peasant huts had been torn down, the walls broken, the manor burned, the crops dead in a black field, but it looked familiar somehow. The stacks of skulls and the corpses spit on pikes surrounding the old manor house like a palisade was a new addition.

He thought he knew now which way was southeast, though.

Thirst and hunger and exhaustion set in deep, but he kept walking, praying to gods he no longer could believe in to give him strength. He felt dirtier than he ever had been before. Around him was death, ahead of him was death, and death was in him, too. Each step was harder than the last.

I have to keep moving, was all he could think.
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Daycryn

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Re: Tocoto's Heroic Tale
« Reply #3: May 19, 2012, 07:34:06 PM »
Jedinchel.

Another battle won, before Tocoto had arrived.

Soldiers and nobles alike were praising one another over the victory when he found the blood-drenched battlefield. Tocoto's face was wooden as he looked over the carnage, his heart angry. The thirst for vengeance was not quenched, he reflected, by the deeds of others.

The Darkest Hour of some direction or another had been felled by the warrior named Rila, and some impulse in him drove him to seek him out for a forced word of congratulations that hid within it a bitter note of envy. He found the telltale banners and men in time to see a half-crazed woman in armor shouting defiantly about Daimons, and collapse in a cold faint. He frowned, disturbed. A woman had stolen his glory! But she didn't seem to have profited much from it.

He maintained his distance, eyes dark with thought. Then he turned to his new captain. "Gregor, fetch the healer and send him to Lady Rila. Tell him to bring his potions and a word of congratulations from me. And a skin of wine."

"Aye, sire," Gregor said. The captain didn't seem saddened in the least that he had not fought in the battle. Tocoto didn't think he was a coward, just a common man with goals of survival instead of glory. Well, commoners always had silly notions.
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Daycryn

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Re: Tocoto's Heroic Tale
« Reply #4: June 21, 2012, 07:12:03 AM »
Qual.

Before the great battle in which the Overlord was slain, half of Tocoto's men deserted. Because of their departure and the losses in combat, he had enough gold to pay Captain Gregor and the remaining troops what they had not been paid in twelve days. Because of that, he was fairly confident they would be quiet til they returned to the capital.

He came to in a ditch on the side of the road, his purse cut from his belt, his sword and armor removed, blood on his tunic, and Captain Gregor standing over him with a grim grin, with some of the other troops standing around him.

"Miserable greedy bastards," Tocoto managed to say, the words coming through thickly.

His new captain gave a laugh. "You promised pay. But you waited til after the lads had been killed in sufficient number, didn't you? Such an honorable knight. This is the least you deserve."

"What... what would you know of honor?"

"May be I don't know anything about it, sir. Not like I'm a bloody high born myself. Not like I've ever had anything but you stuffed-up gentlemen commanders, too concerned 'bout your precious honor to bother caring about the men who fight for you."

"You didn't fight for me. You people ran off before the [email protected]#$ing battle."

"The ones that didn't get killed by ungodly demons, yes. They're the lucky ones, seems like. Turns out I can make some luck of my own, and not get killed."

"What are you going to do, talk to me to death then? Have some mercy and use the sword."

"Nah," Gregor said with another laugh. "You don't deserve mercy. Seems like the glory and honor is all you care about. So that's what we'll take-"

"-and your fancy sword and armor and the gold you owe us too!" someone else pointed out.

"Aye, and word will spread of what a piss-poor knight you are. All your high lordly and lady friends will hear of what a piss-poor knight you are, and they'll laugh behind your back, but that'll be just fine, since you'll always get more soldiers to send to the slaughter for no pay. Maybe one of them will give you some mercy one day. Not us, though. We let you go home just as you are."

"Hey Gregor, seems to me he's poor, we took all he has. But maybe not piss poor."

"Aye, Armunt's right, ain't he, lads? So here's one gift, from us to you, sir."

* * *

Later, Tocoto dunked himself into the freezing water of a mountain stream, but his clothes would not be rid of the stench, nor the shame. By nightfall he couldn't stay warm, and had to bury himself in underbrush, leaves, and dirt to keep from freezing, and when sunrise came his stinking clothes were ragged and a lingering cough was settling in his chest. It was a long way home.
Lokenth, Warrior of Arcaea, former Adventurer
Adamir, Lord of Luria Nova