A Day in the Life of the General
Day in the life of General RedFox
(Just prior to Kesten Garess’ funeral in the Spring of 4714)
Quinn the Redfox, The General, bard, part time scoundrel, emerged from a dream of rivers made of clouds. He stretched out in his bed and was pleasantly surprised by the company that he found in it. A slender feminine hand draped across his chest, muscled leg threw across his own. Lifting his head, he spotted the trail which lead him to this point. Empty wine bottle, two sets of clothing strewn across the room, spilled deck of cards- Ah!
With widening eyes he glanced to his companion.
“General.” She spoke then grinned.
“Lieutenant.” He replied grinning. “Was a good game last night.”
“It was. Any regrets?”
“Never.” He leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips. “More wine?”
“Ugh, nay. Water, two tubs. One hot to bathe in, the other cold to quench my thirst.”
“Hmm, yes. Food?” Quinn kissed her neck, and then heard the growl from her stomach.
“Yes! A kings feast is what we need.” She grabbed his head, pulling him up away from her, and then looked him in the eye. “It’s what I need.”
“Excellent, the night is over. The bet is done. Lieutenant, fetch us a breakfast so grand that we would not regret if we died by noon.” Quinn stared her in the eye and mock ordered the young woman.
“Only if you share it with me in this bed.” She held her hand out. He sealed the deal with a kiss, and summarily bumped her out of the bed. She landed softly onto the blanket and pillow that had fallen there sometime during the night. She mock frowned back at him, then finding his shirt put it on and strode out the door.
“That will be bound for a few good rumors.” Quinn stretched out again, poured himself a deep mug of water. Drinking of it, he felt no ill effects from the previous night. The drink was flowing free along with the dealt cards with a few of the regulars at the bar. Small copper bets were the standard, until Lieutenant Cecile arrived reminding him of the exercises for the next days. He wrote into the latest of his bard journal her loveliness and the moments spent. He flipped back to an unfinished poem, wrote a few hasty lines, and pleased with the pacing started humming a few bars.
The door swung open and she rolled in a large tray, kicking the door shut behind her. “We’ll definitely have to improve the morale of the remaining troops. The attack of the owlbear rattled some. Others are handling it well, but some are still in shook.”
Quinn paused for a moment, a look of horror crossed his face. “By the winds, is it a council meeting to-”
“No.” She cut him off and shoved an apple into his mouth. He took a big bite and then held it to her. She grabbed it from him taking a bite, she nodded to the pitcher of water. He poured for the two of them. Quinn looked at the large spread, enough to stuff them well. She reached under the top tray and dropped a bundle of letters onto his chest.
Quinn began sorting through the letters and messages, updates from the field. “Agreed, I would put any of those men back into the field of battle on a moments notice. An army that isn’t challenged is-”
“A corrupt police force. Given too much time, and not enough defending, they would turn to the populace. Brela’Duren, I’ve heard it before. Now shut up and eat your warm buns.” Cecile looked to the large map which adorned the one wall, the distribution of the forces. “I have heard of too many corrupted townsteads, police forces that bully and dictate the population.”
Quinn took one of the hot warm buns steaming from under the towel, threw one at the back of her head, she caught it without looking. “And now I find I must bring the men together into groups larger than before. It works just fine with the patrols within the borders, small groups, spread the word. Join the army. Now, with organized presence to the west, wild reports from east, and the possible threats from the south…”
“General, you sound like an old woman.” Cecile looked over the map and a few of the letters, updating the groups positions.
“True enough. Though, there are some days that I wish I was on the road again. Playing street corners for the odd silver to spend a night in a closet, or a chair by a hearth.” He sliced off a chunk of cold ham from the tray, and chewed on it absently while struggling to get into his pants. Quinn brought some of the other letters over, handed a few of them to Cecile, and finalized the board.
“The problem is General, we are fighting an enemy without a face. Fear of the unknown.” Cecile tacked up a note on the northern end. ‘Giant?’
“True. I do like to figure out the crowd before performing. And usually once we do know the name of the enemy, it doesn’t last too long… and we put it’s head on a pike on the borders of our region.” Quinn finished the updates to the distribution. “We’ll need to get more recruitment from up north. I’ll have to speak with the Duke, see if he can draw up a letter to speak to his contacts.”
“Noted,” She said as he glanced at her and then again. She was back into her own clothes, quick wash, and had her hair tied back,. A few notes already on her small chalk slate, she waited with a grin.
“Weren’t we supposed to have breakfast in bed?”
“Yes, but you seemed inent on the map and the letters. And you were doing your rambling speech again. Doesn’t make for good bedcompany.”
Quinn rubbed his chin, “Noted. Exercises this afternoon, don’t alert the men. I want 20 armed armored men ready for battle, at least four with hunting experience. Group is to ride north of town, into the woods. Draw up instructions that the first man to find me and not have blue paint on them will be rewarded 10 gold from my own purse.”
“They need to learn stealth.” Quinn quickly washed himself with the cooling water in the pitcher. “They also need to learn that even though we’ve suffered a major loss of men, we do not stop fighting. The fight continues.”
“Yes, yes. Everyone fights, no one quits.”
“Just for that Lieutenant, draw up some more letters. Send messages out to the troops informing of our loss, they are to step up recruitment if possible. The same basic training drills they received, run those against volunteers. Those who pass and show improvement, go to recruit. Other letters to be drawn up, pubs and inns to the north. My usual list of venues, brief word about a new song from Innisfree, willing to send it for free in exchange for information.” Quinn dried himself off and pulled on the rest of his clothes. “Also draw up a personal letter, one to the Pathfinders. Requesting information as to the attack and murder of Tristan and Bonnie Foxsmith of Lake Reykal. Coincides with the attack at Awzera river and the death of a group of dwarven brewers. The Foxsmiths may have been adventurers at one point.”
Cecile looked to Quinn with a sad look, “I’m sorry Breladuren.”
“Nothing I can do about it now, except look for answers.” Quinn strapped his rapier to his hip, longsword across his back. “Also, I need a performance report after the exercises, get the other Lieutenants together. And they need to go over the projected budgeted costs versus threats and days in the field. I need hard numbers to show the council. It needs to be ready for presentation before the next council meeting.”
Cecile noted at the large work log. “And you will have to say something at Kesten Garess funeral. Will that be all General?”
“Not yet.” He crossed the room, took her face in his hands, and kissed her on the lips gently. “Thank you. These small moments make all the difference.”
Cecile stopped at the door, looking to all the notes on her chalk slate. “You’ve managed to get me to do all your paperwork for today, get out of town, avoid councilmembers with inquiries and get me into your bed. And bring you breakfast.”
Quinn grinned broadly and pulled on his cloak, tucking on his gloves. “I did loose the bet.”
She narrowed her eyes at him, “Somehow you didn’t.”
Quinn sat on the branch of the tree, writing a few notes on Kesten Garess.
Restov found a willing heart and recruited men to follow his lead, Kesten Garess was assigned to the Olegs outpost over three years ago. At the time, I personally found his ambition a little disturbing. But with time, I found his enterprises quite remarkable. During this time, he managed a fighting force, loyal to his word. He organized the defense of the Innisfree and its city guards, maintaining a watchful eye to keep those within our borders safe. He served with blade and justice in his hand. He carried the needs of the people within his heart. He died fighting. For us. — Joke about cheating at cards, just to break tension.
The General finished the note, and noticed some movement below him. He silently replaced the journal into his bag, and waited. The four men, marked as soldiers did not look up once. Waiting for them to get out of range, Quinn waggled his fingers and chanted. The small spell broke flanking off to the side of the four men. The sound of a lute string breaking, twanging loudly. He waited and then heard the men hurriedly chasing after the ghost sound.
He quickly climbed down to the forest floor, stealthfully watched about him, then cast the spell that truly hid him. The invisibility spell wrapped around his form.
‘Now for some real fun.’ Quinn thought as the group of four men met with another group who heard the false sound. He murmured under his breath as quietly as he could. The ghost sound began rising, the sounds of small underbrush being pushed aside, and then a low growling becoming larger. An intense growl and roar began rushing towards the men. The men broke ranks and fled, running for the forest edge. Two Lieutenants barked orders to form ranks and the men fell in line.
Quinn grinned as he saw the small pot of paint and brush fly past him. He couldn’t help it at this point. There was no way that the men would be able to find him. And with the help of a faerie dragon, the blue painting was going along quite well. Already a few minutes into the exercise, and the blue paint was on over half of them.
He was pleased at this point, seeing that the men were following orders, and holding the line. It was more than he could ask for. And what was the use of the exercise, if he couldn’t reward them, get their hopes up.
Quinn cupped his mouth and shouted, “It’s going to take all of you to find me! Well, half now!”
The sudden surprise made a few of them laugh. Quinn thought he heard whispering, then he saw the men begin to move into the forest with their arms spread out almost touching, swords in hand. They strode and whispered under their breath, one, two, three four. Over and over, they walked forward. Then somewhere around sixteen, they all began to yell as loud as they could and ran towards him. All of the men, those also sporting the blue paint.
Quinn surprised at this sudden turn, instinctively flicked out his hand and a cloud burst of golden particles fell over a good portion of the men. They coughed and cursed, wiping the sparkling dust out of their eyes. Quinn quickly ran away from the troop, finding a small clump of short brush to hide behind. And a very surprised faerie dragon who squeaked, threw the small pot of paint at one of the Lieutenants and then sped away. There was another shout from his right, someone spotted movement. Cursing under his breath, he cast again. Four lantern lights appeared and he pushed them away from him.
The remainder of the men came running towards the center of the forest. Quinn stood still and held his breath. They passed him, and quickly he ran as silently as he could back out of the forest. Checking the area, there was no one in sight. Quinn ran to the pair of horses that he brought, he found the saddle unhooked but on the horse. Cursing silently, he reworked and adjusted the straps wondering who did that when it hit him.
In the face. With a splat of blue paint.
“General, I believe that is 10 gold.”
“Berkshire, well done.” Quinn wiped the paint from his face. “How?”
“Sir, it was obvious that you were going to come back to your horse eventually. I was thinking you’d leave later on, after drawing them further into the forest. But, I had a hunch and the Lieutenants agreed.”
Quinn nodded and dug into his pack, pulling out a small pouch and tossed it to him. “Good thinking Private. Get word to the troop leaders. Plan B exercises for the rest of the afternoon, then report back for tonight.”
The private snapped off a quick salute, and Quinn rode back into town, wiping paint off his face and hair.
Mid afternoon and time to see what news could be found from the heart of the castle. The decisions could be made in council meetings. The clandestine whispers and deals could be made in any hallway or alcove. Loud proclamations made outside to the general public could be made. But the real pulse of information was the kitchen.
“Hey, it’s the General!”
“Quite the late night meal you had last night.”
“Got a song for us General?”
“Breakfast for two? Heard you had an overnight visitor.
“You lot stay out of my bedroom, and I won’t tell you how to cook. Besides, it’s a lot hotter in there than it is in here.” A roar of laughter responded to the crowd.
Quinn grabbed a fresh hot bun from a basket and finished it in a couple bites, waving to the usual crowd of staff, men, older women, smiling at their jeers and barbs. He tuned his mandolin, trying out a few chords. “Got a hot drink? Came across a cold wind on the ride back in.”
A mug of hot spiced tea was shoved into his face. Quinn grabbed it, and then continued to strum with his other hand. Quinn looked to the head chef who flipped through the papers on a board. The dark eyes of the large man carefully studied the dance of work at all the stations around him. Soups in large pots, vegetables heaped into large baskets.
“You have blue paint in your hair.”
“Well deserved too. What have the city guard been requesting lately?”
“Not as much as they should be. Some have been refusing their meals, sending the foodstuffs to the tenaments and the market vendors nearby.” Chef stopped one of his attendants, and corrected the cutting method on a large slab of beef. “As for the rest of the council, some are eating as well as they usually do. But some have taken to more sweets. Lowered spirits make for less larger meals, and more indulgences.”
“Heard a certain Lieutenant has a lovely singing voice. Haven’t heard her use a pleasant tone-”
Quinn held up his hand. “If my army’s horses ran as fast as the word of mouth in this place…”
The broadshouldered man grinned, “Heard rumor of a ghost in the old widows house from one of the smithy runners. Just rumors though. More interesting is our neighbors to the west, and a retired resident that has recently arrived. That, you, should, visit.”
“Hmmm. Anything else?”
“Few of the old women say that it won’t be a good summer for honey. Signs say a colder summer. Not enough wildflower to pollenate. I say its from the new farmers outside of our borders. "
“Speaking of which, how is the quality of meat from them?”
“Decent, not poisoned. They have experience raising pigs. If anyone does decide to start larger trade with them, demand live pigs. I’d like a look at some of them.” The head chef nosed his way over to another station, watching a young attendant hastily beat some eggs. “Some of the farmers in the north are looking for fresh breeding stock.”
“Thank you Chef, and let me know if you need to lower your staff. The army does have need of talented culinary staff.”
“I heard an army marches on it’s stomach.”
“Worst way to get from one place to another.” Quinn strummed out a song, and the kitchen staff perked up a little. —Roll me over, in the clover. The song carried through the hallways, and he strode with purpose. Both announcing that he was back in the castle, and he was returning to his quarters.
The stack of reports were already complete, he updated his logs with personal observations on the troops. With a quick hand, he placed out five pieces of paper, and quills. With a small spell, the quills matched his own, and began writing the letters in duplicate. A quick observation on the days events, the information from the chef, as well as another paragraph urging that there should be a safer place to train the men. As well as provide a much larger venue for sporting events and the festivals. He included a note that recruitment could be done to include outside talent through smaller sporting events, if some Games were performed. Such as archery contests, wrestling and boxing, spellcraft. The local tradesman could set up booths leading up to the area. The churches could hold their festivals and celebrations within.
Quinn sighed as he completed the letter, signing with a flourish and ended the spell. He patted the paper down with the stained cloth, folding it gently, then sealing it with hot wax and his ring. Quinn felt the weight of the day and the previous night come over him.
“Guard.” Quinn yelled, a tone of anger coming into his voice. “Please deliver these letters to the inner council members. And do not disturb me for the evening. Unless it’s the Duke.”
The guard saluted and headed down the hall.
Quinn shut the door behind him, listening. Quiet, solitude. He placed a wedge of wood blocking the door, and then carefully balanced a wine bottle on the doorknob. Quinn flopped back onto his bed, just a quick little sleep-
And he blinked awake, the light was a lot dimmer in his room. Evening fell, and he felt little refreshment. But a melody filled his mind, the slow mournful pacing…
Quinn quickly took up his mandolin in one hand, paper and quill in the other. Strumming along with one hand, writing and singing, the melody came easily to him.
“To the sun and the sea,
we travel afar,
yet we go on and on,
from the hearth to the veil,
we live and love,
yet we go on and on,
“By blade and by blood, we serve those around-”
“Needs work and new words.” Quinn stopped singing made a note then continued strumming.“Possible different version for the Duke’s forces.”
“To sing and dance,
from the wood to the field,
we cry and laugh,
we sweat and toil,
yet we go on and on.
De da, de daa,
de da, da da daa
And we go on and on…"
A letter was slipped under the door, and Quinn eyed it suspiciously. Taking the moment, he looked at the small note, a request to come down to the bar from one of the survivors of the owlbear attack. He quickly got dressed, going to his wardrobe, he strapped his small drum set, mandolin, and set of panpipes. It had been too long since he indulged the public and if there was a need for distractions, it would be tonight.
A few moments the half elf, stood before the front doors, there wasn’t the usual sounds coming from within. His instincts kicked in, danger within? Something was different. Striding in, he glanced at the crowd as they all glanced back at them. Some still sporting bandages, others deep purple bruising on arms and faces. The crowd was made of the remaining guard and army men from the fated night. He tossed a small purse to the barkeep who caught it with one hand.
“For the house, and one for the departed. Serve ’em up.” Quinn jumped over the bar and began helping fill up the steins then looked up to the silent faces. “Well come on you dogs, when the General buys you a drink, the least you could do is get it yourselves! Tribute is needed, and no hand should not be empty.”
There was a few chuckles as the men split up moving the drinks across to the entire room. After a few moments and a few sips, Quinn jumped to the top of the bar, holding up his own stein.
“To departed friends. Drink.” The crowd recalled the tribute and sipped.
“To a safe home. Drink.” The crowd spoke it aloud in one voice.
“To a bastard who set the example of being a determined good man, and serving Innisfree. To Kesten Garress. We’re a little less without him, and may you all strive to be as good as he was. To Garress.” Quinn drank deep on the stein, then strode towards the stage as all returned his tribute louder.
A voice from the back, “What about the Duke?”
“If he’s here, he can buy his own damn drink!” Quinn jumped onto the stage and struck a chord, instinctively the footcandles light up. The crowd laughed and cheered. “We stay till morn, share stories of those who are not with us. Find comfort in drink, in story, laugh and cry. For if we do not, we insult those who sacrificed themselves before us.”