King Stépan IV's pleasure dome at Kragoneidin, on the shores of Lake Polishov

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Encounter with the Rebels

So, I've been trapped at the desk with a number of big deadlines the last few weeks.  I spent the scarce spare time I had on painting rather than thinking about 13th century Syldavia.  Things will be calmer for the next few weeks (I hope…).  Here is the next scene of Duke Jiri's story.

Encounter with the Rebels 

Alone in the ruined chapel of St. Narcissus, Duke Jiri and his son Konstantin held a whispered but intense conversation about Brother Velimir’s proposition to lead a rebellion and then left to rejoin the waiting army.  Soon the mass of men was put grumblingly back into motion, marching towards a dark hilltop a few miles off to the west.  A few hours later, at the end of the afternoon, Jiri lead his army over the crest of hill, to see the high wooded hill and the rebel army before him across a narrow valley, just as Velimir forewarned.  Jiri ordered his men into battle line and then marched them down into the valley, coming to a halt again on a long low terrace near the valley bottom. 

Across the valley, on another slightly higher terrace was the rebel army, arrayed in their own battle line, looking impassively at the Hum soldiers.  They were obviously more numerous than the Duke’s army, both of whose flanks were plainly overlapped.  Higher up on the slope were the obvious traces of a large camp, smoking campfires, tents, penned herd animals and women and children milling about.  Men in Jiri’s army began to mutter and grumble about their disadvantage: There are so many of them, this will be a hard day for us….  Sensing a spreading unease among his men, Jiri called out « Courage, men!  They make a fine looking army indeed, don’t they?  So much the better!  They may have numbers but we have the advantage of cavalry on our flanks, let them worry about that!  Stand tall men of Hum!  Turning back to survey the opposing line, Jiri  secretly suppressed a sly smile; he was impressed and a more than little delighted to see that the rebel force was indeed quite a bit bigger than he expected and so well turned out. 

Syldavian soldiers on the march, commemorated in the Basilica of St. George, Douma 

Konstantin pointed out a pair of riders descending from the rebel line, one carrying a white flag « They wish to parley ».Jiri walked his horse out in front of his battle line and motioned Konstantin to accompany him.  Once clear of his men, Jiri spoke to Konstantin « Son, the moment of decision is upon us.  I now know my own mind but you will have to live with today’s consequences for longer than me.  So, tell me, what do you think we should do? ».   Konstantin’s eyes widened a second but composed his answer rapidly «For the moment, the Bordurians aren’t in control of things in Syldavia and we have a small advantage.  I think we should use it while we can.  I say we should join the rebellion ».   « So be it » said Jiri with a grim smile.  « I will go meet these men, out of earshot of the army.  I need you to stay here and keep the men calm, there will be a little theatre if all goes well!  Speak to no one of Velimir’s plan and get your hands on Dokovic’s lackey Pawel Vitros and his men right away, we don’t need any reports getting back to the Bordurians”.  Jiri motioned for two chosen knights to join him, one his bodyguard and one who carried the ducal standard, and spurred his horse out to meet the approaching riders in the middle of the valley.