|Chain of Command|
|Summary:||Bruce and Rygar talk shop on the road back to Stonebridge.|
|Related Logs:||Melee At The Roost, Tournament At The Roost|
|Worn Road - Terrick's Roost|
|This is a dirt road that leads away from Terrick's Roost towards Stonebridge, it passes over several low wooden bridges.|
|28 October, 288|
The noble entourage that had travelled from Stonebridge to the Roost for the occasion of the wedding is now winding its way back homeward. A few retainers ride at the back of the column, while the two knights are ahorse at the front, as the Nayland party moves along the well worn dirt track eastward.
Bruce has a sour looking frown on his face, a bandage wrapped around his midsection under his mail shirt and a wineskin in his hand. "I don't drink on the road, Ser Rygar, but that Lord Anton can really swing a greatsword. 'Specially when I'm not looking."
Rygar sniffs shortly at the comment. "I have found that the swordsmanship of a man grows markedly superior when employed from out of sight, Ser. Were it not expected of my station, I should waste not another day on such idle contests and count myself the better for it." A drawn breath. "You begin to see why I place such stock in the training of the levy, Ser?"
Bruce gives his sombre companion a half grin. "I've always seen the logic in it. I just know I'm not quite the best man to train levies. I've never done it before, my expertise lays in the professional retainers. Unfortunately, here, in Stonebridge, it's a bit of a joke to say that." The wineskin is lowered, capped, and put into his horse's saddlebag as they plod along. "I used to command a group of sixty professionals. Then, two hundred. Now, a dozen." He chuckles.
"A dozen," Rygar echoes dryly, with a raised brow. "You have hired two more?" A nod to the sentiment, "It is better to be present with a dozen good men, than absent with a thousand, Ser. If it is your wish to embrace such training, we have recently come into the necessary funds to equip your men with crossbows, to better defend the tower under siege, and better support the pikes in the field. Compliments of Lord Ser Jerold Terrick," the Nayland notes with a wry twist to his words.
"I count myself and the lady Isolde's bodyguard in the number, though maybe the latter is a bit of a farce as he's notoriously hard to find much of the time and has not attended morning parade.. ever." Ser Bruce doesn't look particularly pleased at that. He idly pokes at his side. "When I get more money, I should get a scale shirt. Hardier." Then, as the subject goes to crossbows, he falls silent for a few moments. "Well. I was thinking the guard would plug gaps and watch flanks. Though the idea of crossbows has merit, certainly. On the other hand, maybe some of the more talented levies could be peeled off and instructed in their use?"
Rygar frowns in thought at the suggestion of arming the levies. A moment's consideration follows. "I am disinclined to put such weapons into the hands of unsworn commoners, as of now, Ser. I rather prefer the concept of disciplined professionals firing crossbows from the reserve, and moving into melee to reinforce the pikes should they falter in the later stages of battle. Preserving our professionals until their committment can be of utmost effect in counter-charging any breakthrough and following up any rout- a tactic I recall you are quite familiar with, Ser."
"Yes, I agree with you. Which is, maybe, why if it's possible, we should increase the number of sworn. Not a big number. Ten or so. If we snap them up from Stonebridge they won't be particularly expensive. Just a suggestion. I don't have an eye in the ledgerbook, Ser Rygar, not like I used to. I have no idea how much coin we've to spend, nor any of the logistical concerns outside my own small group of men. It's arguable whether good heavy infantry is more important than good missile troops." Bruce only falls silent for a moment, while he scratches at his newfound short beard. "In my mind, we need both. But if my soldiers are carrying crossbows and bolts, that adds another twenty pounds onto them. You know how fast lines can break. Will they be able to drop their crossbows and form into a cohesive group in time to react to a split?"
"They can if they are well trained, Ser," Rygar returns to Bruce's last question. "As you are their Captain, I have no doubt they will become so. Even if we were to hire on another ten men- which, at this time, we cannot-" he adds, "Twenty heavy infantry is not enough to hold a battle line. For depth of formation, we must rely on the pike formation. Yet, you know as well as I that the weakness of pikes lies at range. We must have the missile strength to force our enemies to meet the pikes head-on." A drawn breath, "Your men will bear broadswords, shields, leather jerkins, and crossbows. Apart from the better armor, these are the same armaments borne by the men at arms of the Mire. Alacrity at changing arms will of course be crucial, but I have full trust in your ability to train the men to an even higher standard than that of Lord Rickart's guard."
"That's not a problem. I've been focusing on having them throw javelins for range, but that was under the assumption that they would be acting as heavy infantry solely in battle. In fact, you're the first person I've been able to talk to about this. In months. I'm glad for it, Ser Rygar, and I imagine in any battle we would be part and parcel with the men of the Mire. That's more important. Stonebridge cannot, will not, ever be able to stand alone. Who commands the foot at the Mire? I've not been able to liase with anybody, at all. I've been cut off. I haven't even seen m'lord for going on a month now." Bruce frowns at that notion, grumbling.
"I am able to answer any queries you have as to the likely deployment of your men, Ser Longbough," Rygar begins, before answering the Captain's prior questions. "The Captain of Lord Rickart's Guard is one Ser Bryan Keane, a sworn sword of some years' service. Lord Ryker is like to remain at the fortress of the Sevens for some time yet, but if you have had difficulty in communicating with my good cousin, be assured this shall be corrected."
"Well, you know, I did ask for leave from a very good position in a rather prominent centre to swear to my old friend, who is also your cousin, Ser Rygar. Then he dissapeared and I haven't heard from him since. I don't poke my head into noble affairs as a rule; I'm baseborn, and I really do not understand how the proper Houses work." Bruce begins, petting at his very average, workman like horse's head as it walks along the road. "But, well, if I may - what in the name of the Gods is going on with that?" His voice is kept down enough so that only Rygar can hear.
Rygar sniffs sharply once at the blunt query. "You have no doubt observed a certain degree of resistance to new policies among the smallfolk of Stonebridge, Ser. No doubt, you can also appreciate the neccessity of such policies. Lord Ryker and Lady Isolde are being kept out of the public eye so that blame and resentment of the masses do not fix upon them. Should any suppressions become necessary, the proper steps can be taken without the hand or reputations of Ryker and Isolde becoming dirtied." A drawn breath follows his unabashed answer. "Once they return, strictures may be relaxed, and their popularity will be much stronger. As well, it seperates my good cousin from the Lady Valda, for whom his contempt is so strong as to jeopardize administration of Stonebridge."
"I see." Whether Bruce does or does not understand, he clearly broods on the matter for a few minutes of silence, just riding in contemplation. Finally, he ventures, "I'd like to conduct drills with Ser Bryan. We should be training together as regularly as possible. I'm essentially a sub-unit under his command." There's another pause, though this one is much shorter. Bruce's expression darkens a bit. "I've seen what I've seen in battle, as have you. The vast majority of our problems are caused by people, especially knights like you and I, unwilling to put themselves under the command of others. Pride, in that case, is blasphemy to the God of War. I am willing to go under his command, since he's obviously the senior knight in the household and in any real battle, my soldiers will be under him."
"The chain of command will be determined by the appointed general on the day of battle, Ser. You do not answer to Ser Keane, you answer to Lord Ryker and Lady Isolde. In their absence, you answer to Valda Tordane and myself. You are the Captain of your Lord's men, just as Ser Keane is the Captain of his Lord's. Both of you answer to Lord Rickart, ultimately. Besides that.." a drawn breath, "To be blunt, Ser, what you and I have seen is not within the experience of Ser Bryan. He and the other knights of Nayland did not partake of battle during the Rebellion. though he command twenty men and you ten, I do not place his opinion above yours. Knowing that, if it is your wish to conduct drills with Ser Bryan, it can likely be arranged without difficulty."
Bruce grunts something inaudible, shaking his head. "Aye, I do. I would suggest establishing some kind of chain of command. Get people used to working under eachother. Failing that, I can't speak as to our efficiency in battle." He's got a vague look of distaste on his lips.
Rygar nods once. "Word shall be sent." As to the latter, and look of distaste, Rygar sniffs again and comments, "In the numbers we are discussing, Ser, simplicity of structure is a strength. Should Ser Bryan come with his strength to Stonebridge, he shall answer to Lord Ryker, myself, and you. Should you go to the Mire with your strength, you shall answer to him, Ser Stevron, and Lord Rickart. Common bounds of noble vassalage should be sufficient to address any dissent. Do you feel otherwise, Ser?"
Bruce returns Rygar's nod. "I do. I'm of the mind that there needs to be designated who is senior, and who is junior. In all cases of actual combat."
"How much structure would you judge necessary for a standing force of thirty men, divided between two castles, Ser?" Rygar prompts, once Bruce gives his honest answer. "I note again that the chain of command in a battle situation will be established by the appointed general, given the specific circumstances of each engagement. Share your thoughts."
"Not much. One senior commander of the group. One, or two junior. Perhaps one for each group of ten. I personally train all of my men so that they can assume responsability two levels beyond their own, whatever it may be, but that's my preference. More important than just the standing force, Ser Rygar, is that we need to be used to working with the levies themselves since they will be the ones doing the bulk of the fighting, making up the bulk of the men, and so on." Bruce answers, wincing as his horse steps into a rut in the road and jostles him. He reaches for the wine skin and takes a sip. "Garrison duties are simple and can be handled by whoever's closest. But as your maxim; drill is priceless. Yes, but especially if we include ourselves in the levies drill. I think they're sufficiently ready to work with us, would you say?"
"Be assured that the structure of the levies is more clearly defined by sheer necessity. Each block of twenty men answers to a serjeant, who in turn answer to the Officer of the Line, and his second," Rygar begins. As to the rest. "You raise a fine point, Ser. I believe that the levy has become practiced enough to begin integrated drills. It would well benefit the peasantry to see more professional smallfolk at work among them." A moment's silent thought followed by a sharp nod.
"And it will benefit us, as well. Right now if you needed my lads to do a quick raid, to ambush some supply wagons or something of the like, they'd be able to do it no problem. They'd be able to stand up and fight two, three times their number. But battles are not between ten and thirty men, as you pointed out. They're between hundreds." The common born Stonebridge Knight looks at his wineskin, shakes his head and places it back in the saddlebag. Then he looks back at Rygar. "Hence. It's good to practice for both situations. My lads know how to fight in, and out, of formation. But they need to get practice fighting integrated to a much larger and more chaotic formation, because that's what real battle is."
"Agreed," Rygar assents, with a curt nod. "It shall be done. Upon arrival take what steps are needed for your men to join the levy in the common green for drill in two days' time. Within one week, I expect a sufficient number of crossbows with bolts to arrive from the Twins."
"You'll have to tell me how you managed to obtain them, one day, Ser Rygar." Ser Bruce's disposition improves rapidly to the point that he's smiling again. "It'll be done."
"I may tell you now, Ser," Rygar returns. "With the ransom Jerold Terick paid for his steed, arms, and armor after being overthrown in the joust. The cost of such a fine animal and harness was not inconsiderable," the icy Nayland recounts, with a wry note twisting the words.
"So, there is sometimes a point to silly games, then, eh?" Bruce chuckles heartily, to the point that he has to stop himself and wince at the pain he's got from his little abdomen wound. "Oh, that smarts. And they said you didn't have a good frame for jousting, did they?"
"I do not," Rygar notes simply. "I am a tall man, and lean. When ahorse, the center of my weight is carried too high in the torso, which makes unhorsing me easier than it would a shorter, heavier man." Practical in analysis, is the Ser. "With that said, my handling of the lance is sufficient to endanger any man."
Bruce laughs. "That's why I stick to being an infantryman, Ser Rygar."
"You are the wiser and more fortunate for it, Ser Bruce," Rygar returns. "Now if Ser Wayland could be pried out from behind Lady Isolde's skirts, perhaps he would make a fine cavalryman," the Nayland muses aloud. "Perhaps Rowan, when the boy returns."
"Ser Wayland is, for me anyways, a lost cause. You're right when you say he's hidden behind skirts, but whether that's his own or his lady's is another story." Bruce shrugs. "As for the young Lord Rowan, I've never met him, I don't believe."
"You saw him twice, in the past week," Rygar notes. "Once in the joust, where- in diguise- he overthrew Ser Ryman Frey, and again in the melee. He came to blows with the Oldstones free lance while all the others descended upon we two. Bold, if foolish, though young men are often thus."
"Aha. Small, thin lad. Got spirit, though, and he did overthrow the Frey, who's a good jouster. I think I've the fortune to have been born to smallfolk, Ser Rygar. Caution was the order of the day until I started doing what I do." Bruce taps the pommel of his sword.
Rygar sniffs sharply (what Bruce might begin to recognize as a sign of amusement) at the Captain's jest. "We are all as we have been made by fortune and will, Ser," the Nayland observes afterward, seeing fit to offer no other answer, as they continue to ride.