Battle of Durrough - Cobblestone Bridge
The Battle of Durrough: Cobblestone Bridge
A story of rebellion against tyranny, from Lands of Roawia Castle Builders Game Restricted Entry for GC7.
Continued from the Battle of Durrough, Part One.
The Grianmhar River flows gently through Durrough, separating the city into East and West portions. Too shallow for boats, the Grianmhar is crossed by three bridges before this stream adds its meadow-fed waters into the much larger Aines River. At this final point in its eventual journey to the sea, the Grianmhar is crossed by a cobblestone-paved span known to the locals as “the Cussing Bridge”. This was due to the uneven nature of the placement of the stones, causing grief to many merchants and their wares over the years. One stone in particular of continuous annoyance was known as the Ankle-Breaker, for it stood out even more than the others and was the cause of more than a few injuries. This day however, the cobblestone bridge would be renamed, in honor of the life it saved.
…Lord Oslet did not turn and run with his fleeing soldiers immediately. Instead he quickly lowered his weapon with a poisoned quarrel loaded, aimed it straight at the approaching Duke Cartney, and pulled the trigger.
The Duke was a great leader. He was chiefly responsible for keeping Durrough from being put to the fire or even ransacked by the Queen’s Troops, and this very day his actions would lead to the city’s liberty, but none of this saved him now.
Sir Calean did. Spotting the move by Oslet, Baron Munro was surprised when, running alongside the Duke, he himself was not the target, and recognizing a senseless act of vengeance when he saw one, he pushed out with his arm as rapidly as he could, catching Cartney in the shoulder. The Duke was thrown off balance and plowed into several of his own men as they all fell into a crashed mess. The poisoned bolt glanced off Caelan’s arm and continued on until it came to rest in the side of the Black Swan.
Thinking that he had just missed his primary target but got his secondary, Oslet laughed and started to reload, but an arrow from a nearby Scout Sniper skipping off his weapon changed his mind and he turned and ran with the last of his troops.
Duke Cartney, unaware of how close he came to a poisonous death, was furious and called after Calean, “Eh, what’s the meaning of this…!” But Caelan wasn’t listening. Furious himself, the young knight regained his balance and charged onward. He was determined to make Oslet personally pay for all this death and chaos.
He had to fight his way though, as several soldiers turned to try and stop him, only to be bashed, slashed or run through. Caelan was already weary then by the time he reached the Cussing Bridge, where he came upon his prey. He found Oslet in a stand-off with the locals, who blocked his retreat across the Grianmhar with pitchforks, hatchets and anything they could find. They were getting desperate in their mission to stop him however as one was already dying from the sting of his crossbow bolt. He was reloading when Caelan came on like a mad bull, stabbing forward with both longsword and dirk. He had never been on this bridge however and tripped up on a stone, giving time for Oslet to recognize the danger. The Queen’s officer threw down his crossbow and barely had time to draw two short swords out when Caelan crashed into him.
As it turned out, they were both outstanding two-handed fighters, which made for a sweeping sight of brutal thrusts and parries. A crowd of locals on both sides of the bridge gathered to watch the flurry of steel, and cheered Caelan or jeered Oslet as each swung at each other.
Lord Oslet however soon gained the advantage, as Caelan was fully winded by now. Oslet too was showing signs of fatigue, but the advantage was still there; one misstep and he had this impudent Lenfel as a prize to mitigate his losses this brutal day.
Eventually he reached the killing point, and even the crowd could see Caelan was done. A well-dressed local however threw a stone in anger, which briefly distracted the enemy. Lord Oslet then went for the thrust, but his boot caught on something and he lost his balance temporarily. Caelan, even at the point of complete exhaustion, saw it and moved in with the last of his energy; parry with the longsword and thrust with the dirk…
…right into Oslet’s throat.
The crowd erupted in elation, but the sight was anything but pleasant, as Oslet, in shock at the flow of his life onto the cobblestones, sunk slowly, staring blankly at his ‘prize’.
Calean too collapsed onto the side of the bridge, heaving heavily for air. He became aware of his surroundings only minutes later, as the well-dressed Lenfel came forward to help him.
“You’ve done for him sir!” he said happily. “I saw the whole thing, he slipped you see on the Ankle-Breaker!” he pointed to the singular stone. “I’m the local councilman, and we’ll rename the bridge for you sir, if you tell me your name if you please…”
He was still too winded to answer, but a voice coming up from behind them answered, “Sir Caelan Munro”. Tavish strolled up and helped his leader fully to his feet. As he did this several of the local fishermen came up and started searching Oslet for whatever he had of value.
“No!” Caelan huffed through breaths, “He’s all poison. Do not take a thing, especially…weapons.”
The fishermen paused in shock, for poison was an evil thing for a man to use. Tavish kicked the body and callously commanded, “Councilman, have this pig and all his items dragged into the city dump, and leave him there for the rats to eat.”
Caelan stared at his friend, to which Tavish stated, “Maybe they’ll eat the poison too, solve two problems at once.”
Seeming to come awake, Caelan suddenly asked, “The Snipers! What’s happened?”
Tavish nodded gravely. "We won of course, but the butcher’s bill isn’t pretty, lad. Twelve dead outright, seven or eight will pass soon from Oslet’s poison or other wounds, another twenty-one severely wounded, most of whom will never string a bow again….”
Caelan felt nauseous. He turned to the councilman still standing there and repeated Tavish’s kick of the body, “No burial for him. The dump it is then.”
They began to walk back to the Black Swan, and Tavish finished updating him: Sir Haymar’s forces crushed the enemy in both the north and west of the city and was now making for the Bastion; Duke Cartney’s men were now setting up a siege of the castle itself; and only the eastern-most parts of the city remained in question.
“So some of the lad’s didn’t get enough action and we’re going hunting,” Tavish finished, holding up his bow.
“I’m coming with…”
“No you’re not lad,” the wizened archer insisted, “you’ve done enough today. The men need you here.” They were standing in front of the Black Swan now, battle-scarred and much worse for the wear. He nodded at the Snipers who were moving around, some seemingly in shock. Caelan came to realize he was right, and began to give orders to get them back in mental shape. There was still much work to be done.
The councilman lived up to his word, and changed the name of the stone span to Caelan’s Bridge. This however did not change the nature of the cobbles on it, with the unintended consequence that years down the road, angry merchants whose wares shattered upon falling off their wagons would unwittingly cuss on Caelan instead.
“Whoever this Caelan was, he was bloody bad engineer, I’ll tell you that!”
Story continues in To Our Fallen!
Previous Caelan stories: