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6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

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6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:20 am

A while ago, Estefania had not thought she would follow the British into Spanish territory. Days later she had done so with the same sort of determination that kept her and her group at the heels of the French army. She had come and gone. She had met with Augustine, though few words were exchanged. Now, she was in the woods again, carefully tiptoeing her way with her mare, over high root, ducking under a low branch if she could not go around it. She listened, two of her party equally careful not to make a sound that might alert the enemy to them.

They had been on the hunt for deserters. Intent on rounding them up, they were particularly interested in finding the ones that had stolen from the British wagons. That evening before the battle, had been filled with confusion, a sudden salvo of shots from the Spanish side, which had not been ordered at all started it all, of course. The French dragoons may have been the temptation, but they had been far enough that the fire did very little to deter them from playing with the nerves of those soldiers some more. The surprise came, when the Spanish had suddenly upped and turned, advancing in the direction away from the French. Some of those men had gone back to the wagons, raided them with mixed resistance, and escaped.

She straightened in her saddle at a quiet snap off to their left.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:42 am

Three riders, one of them a female ... easy prey.

The man slipping through the woods, carefully avoiding anything that could make noise, whistled silently. The horses looked good, and the weapons, too. Not military-issue, either. It would be easy to fence those off, and bring them a pretty penny.

He had experience enough in his line of work never to get too close to the armies, but to stay on the fringes, using the chaos they created, but keeping his stings aimed at targets that would not provoke their leaders enough to throw the might of those armies against his own.

They had fared well with small groups of deserters or stranglers they had encountered, each loaded with stuff they certainly had not brought to the battle themselves, but now as the two big armies started to round them up again and the food they had stolen was beginning to go stale, he was willing to move to other grounds again. For example to this lovely, but seemingly rather stupid woman.

The man, known only as Atracador, had to apply the same adjective - followed by a curse and a sharp cry of command - to one of his own men, however, when the same stepped on something and drew the group's attention before the land was difficult enough to easily bring the three riders down. Bellowing at his men to attack now, before their prey recovered their wits, he pulled a pistol from his belt and fired at one of the men.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:00 pm

The trio of riders had turned quickly, the rumps of their horses together, while the heads and their weapons  readily aimed at the sounds that were turning to men. The men were armed. Their uniforms were scarse and some seemed to have been plundered rather than earned or signed up for.

With her pistol raised Estefania first shouted a warning, thinking perhaps that there had been a misunderstanding. But then a shot had been fired from one of the men and the rider to her left released his weapon, grasping at his shoulder.

His horse neighed and rose to its back legs, kicking out its front then threw its head up nearly shaking his rider off. The man held on for a moment more, before the animal managed, though by accident, to shift his weight to the point, when balance was lost.

Estefania did try to stop this, should there have really been a misunderstanding or a misindetification, by shouting in Spanish that she was Estefania, and had the whole name said along with the demand that they sieze fire. But these men did not look like the irregulars and reminded her more of the plunderers with no master but their own.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:20 am

Now that the time for silence was gone, El Atracador threw away the pistol, pulled his cutlass and and pointed it at Estefania, trying to catch the reins of her horse.

In the soft dialect of the southern regions, but with a harsh inflection, he demanded in a deep, rough voice:

"Tell your men to stand down, and I won't kill them!"

Of the six or seven ruffians who accompanied him, one pointed his pistol at the fallen man while another caught the spooked horse before it could bolt. The others levelled their collection of firearms at Estefania and especially her remaining companion.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:36 am

Estefania glared fiercely at the man. A few moments passed in silence but for the wince and grunt of the man on the ground, who was still clutching at the wound. The latter had stained his shirt and began to colour the coat that he wore over it.

The second man turned questionably towards her then her hand was raised and lowered, signaling him to wait. "You promise not to harm them?" She demanded, her own Spanish carrying a slight accent.

She was perhaps a skilled guerrilla, but she was not foolish to believe that she could stand a chance against the number of weapons pointed at each of them. They would die.

"Who are you?" She inquired in a sharp tone, clearly not keen on submitting to intimidation just yet.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:45 pm

The man laughed and took a firm grip on the briddle of her mare.

"Why would I harm them if they don't give me trouble? Their carcasses are no good to me, and they only befoul the land ... especially when they start smelling."

He seemed to wait for her answer before doing anything else, but not too patiently. He pointedly didn't answer her second question.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:25 pm

"..I repeat my question, stranger." Estefania spoke slow but firm. She took a firmer grip on the reins of her mare. A gentle nudge into the animal's sides made the mare step forward and shove into the man that held her briddle.

The mare neighed and thrust her foot rather dangerously close to the man's foot. "If you are not the deserters of the Spanish army, nor of the British our ways can part now without harm to your men,..and further to mine."
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:39 am

The man pulled the mare's head down forcefully.

"We are no deserters. Get off your horse, girl. If you stop wasting my time, I might even give you a nice bit of information about your deserters before we let you go, but for now ... get down."

His men had relaxed a bit, but two now raised their weapons at her again.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:14 pm

"If I get down, you will take my mare. You may not be deserters, but, it is clear now, that you have not stopped us to ask for directions." Estefania said simply. "You are a thief, are you not? A vagabond who steals from the Allied forces as much as you would from the French."

The mare pulled at the reins to ease the tension on them. She could sense the unease of her rider. "I will ask you again, stranger. Let us part ways without further harm done, nor possessions taken, and the whole of our irregulars shall not consider you the same scum as the French." It was a fine line she walked now, hoping the men might feel intimidated enough to let them pass. She gazed at the direction where the British were then at the sole uninjured companion, briefly.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:58 pm

The man laughed and bowed: "And every rich Spaniard in between. Doesn't make much difference who rules here anyway - they all don't like our kind."

His eyes got steely again.

"And now stop arguing and get down from that horse before your man there bleeds to death. Or do you care more for your horse than for him."
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:13 pm

"..Oh, your band has a surgeon as well with you?.." Estefania asked stiffly. She sat on her mare for a few moments longer then shifted forward , threw her leg over and quite easily slipped of the saddle. It seemed to be a signal, for the moment she had turned, seemed to stumble and then the stumble turned into a violent kick at the man that held the reins of her horse. She was too close to him now, and intentionally so. Would someone fire, she could hope for a miss and a hit at him instead.

At the same time the only man still in the saddle kicked the sides of his steed sharply in hopes that it might bring him very far, very fast.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:21 pm

The next few seconds were a flurry of movements. El Atracador bit off a curse and clutched at Estefania's leg as he tried to keep his balance without jarring the horse's mouth too much and spooking it completely. As soon as he got his hand around her ankle, he pulled hard.

At the same time a shot rang out and another man cursed violently as he was pulled off his feet by the suddenly lurching horse.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:37 pm

Estefania cried out. The pull on her leg took her balance, and not even a couple of attempted hops on her other leg could prevent her from falling. The fall was hardly cushioned by her arms shifting backwards and her posteriors received most of her impact. She grit her teeth, momentarily phased by the pain. She kicked out with her other leg, her aim straight for the shin of the man. The target had been chosen mostly because it was the only thing he could reach from the position she had found herself in.

The rider cursed. The ball had gone through the flesh of his shoulder and though it had miraculously not caused any shattering of bone it still hindered the right arm from delivering a blow to the man holding onto his steed. His horse tried to lift himself onto his back legs. He failed for the added weight of the second man. Instead he pulled and thrust. The animal was frightened and was willing to do anything to get away from what he perceived as harm.

Estefania's mare stomped her feet, her back legs shifting her body towards the side making a half turn. She took one or two steps backwards, as far as the tension on the reins allowed her and gave whoever was closest a nice smack with her tail.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:07 pm

Suddenly confronted with the possibility that his most valuable prisoner might get trampled by her own horse, and rather painfully kicked in the shine by the same prisoner (although his thick boots had softened the blow considerably, it still smarted), el Atracador launched into a string of curses that even made some of his men turn slightly pink, and pulled at the ankle again, unceremoniously trying to drag Estefania away from her horse a bit and to his side.

His men were mostly occupied with the other rider and the spooked horses, but on the command of their leader, one hurried over and put a loaded pistol to Estefania's head.

"Don't try anything like that again!", Atracador warned. "You are not worth that much trouble."
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:14 pm

Estefania felt the cool barrel pressed to her head and held her hands in surrender. Pistols could be at times inaccurate, but at this closeness the only hope of surviving it was a misfire, and those tended to happen when you least wanted them. Now was not such a time.

Her trousers and coat had been covered in part by the dirt and few of the stray grass bits. "...Alright." Perhaps her theory was faulty, but the men could surely not have aimed so bad at close quarters that they left both of her men alive, albeit injured. "Easy girl." He spoke in Portuguese to her horse, " Calm down, Sombra." She added in a softer tone which must have caught the mare's attention. The animal looked at her. She swished her own tail again for a good measure and if whoever had been close before had not stepped back, the tail would have hit him again.

The other horse was not as easy to calm, but some pulling, tugging, twisting, a hefty amount of yanking and finally the horse stopped as well. It looked nervous, particularly annoyed but not ready to bolt any longer. "Don't .." The man atop the nervous animal spoke, his eyes on the gun that was leveled at their fellow irregular.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:21 pm

"Good girl!"

It was not certain whether Estefania or the mare were meant by that.

The man covering the fallen irregular, now hit for the second time by the tail, took refuge in rather regrettable language as well, and might have taken his anger out on his charge, had not the other men managed to get control over the remaining horses and manhandled the last irregular down from his, and a measure of calm was returned to the situation.

"Alright - search them for weapons!", Atracador commanded, switching places with the man who threatend Estefania with a hard glance when the other made to obey a little too greedily.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:38 pm

Estefania arched an eyebrow at the exchange. It was interesting, however it did not safe her the chance to keep her weapons no more as it did the other two. They glared at the men while they searched them for any blade, pistol or worse that they might have had on their person.

Manuel, that was the man who had kept his horse longest, protested at one point, glaring fiercly at his captors and shoving the hands away from his coat. Clearly they were not only in search of weapons! He gave them a few choice words in Portuguese which were far from complimentary on either their person or their predecessors.

Estefania could not help but give a stifled chuckle at that, though she quickly sobered up and seemed quite unwilling to allow either of the men to search her own person.

She had gotten to her feet, dusted of the tails of her coat, short as they may have been. "Any indecent straying of your hand, and you shall be fed your colhões and made to choke on them just before I slit your throat!"
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:49 pm

The man took a firm hold on her wrist, then caught the other and brought both together in one of his large ones.

"Then you better draw that knife fast, girl. You make too much trouble to take chances. Now either you hold still and let me touch you, or you stand three feet away from me and remove all your clothes, but whatever happens, at the end I will be sure that you have no little pistol or knife that you will plunge into my back the moment I take my eyes off you!"

Once the men were disarmed, one of the robbers pulled some relatively clean cloth from his bag and began to bind up the wounds of the irregulars.

"That one needs a bit more than a simple bandage", he called out. "That wound is going to give him a fever."
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:55 pm

Estefania would have protested further, but there was a certain amount of worry for her two companions. Stiffly she nodded and wondered how a day that had gone as well, had turned so sour.

Manuel observed the men quietly. When an opportunity showed itself, he could perhaps act, but at the moment he had to bear it as well as the other two of their group.

"..Take care of my men." Estefania murmured instead, unmoving. She gazed at her mare, and the animal snorted softly, shifting her ears to the front, listening to her owner and rider. She peered at the other two horses who remained at their stations, made sound and then lowered her head to mull some of the grass.

Quickly again she raised her head and remained attentive and alert.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:04 pm

The man quickly and roughly, but without letting his hand linger more than necessary, searched her for weapons, and removed anything he thought could be used as such. He even pulled out her hair needles and made her take off her boots to check them as well.

When he was finished, he handed them back.

"Who will pay ransom for you?"

Looking at the wounded men, he said thoughtfully:

"You can try your own hand there ... will keep you out of trouble. But you'd better give me a name that works, so that we can resolve this quickly and without much fuss and he can go home."
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:19 pm

The boots were pulled on quickly. She was no surgeon nor did she have a great affinity to healing wounds. She would not have done better than the men that had taken care of her men moments ago, perhaps worse.

"If you have someone who knows how, I would be grateful, should you bring him forward." She answered calmly and then straightened a little. She was contemplating on the name to use. If she had said the name of any of the irregulars, the chances were the men would know those would not come after them to deliver payment. She could have simply told the truth that probably nobody would be willing to come forward. This was war after all. People did not have time to save individuals.

"..Lord Torrington of the English army....I believe he is with the..rifles. It is the men in green, should you need searching." Those words had drawn glances from her two companions. She did not really believe him to come, but it was bidding time, should the man change his mind and exchange their being alive and worthless to being dead and no longer a pain in one's neck.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:32 pm

"Know how is one thing, having the stuff to do it properly is another."

Atracador bend over the wounded and checked the dressing, then shook his head.

"Best we can do for now. Trying to get the bullet out without some drugs and when we have to move him soon will only make things worse. Boys, make a stretcher for him. He ain't walking nowhere."

He sounded gruff now, not unfeeling, but not willing to take risks just to appease her.

"That lord of yours ... is he one of those rifle officers?"
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:40 pm

Estefania glanced at Manuel and then at Agostinho. The two men would be alright, if cards were played right. She turned to Atracador and shook her head. "No...he is not a rifle's officer. He is a captain in the..." She tried to remember what it was called, properly.

"Royal... engineers, something like that. "She said. She did not deny whether the lord was hers or not and allowed the stranger to believe what he wished.

Touching her temple, she rubbed the skin lightly. " You can send Manuel." She indicated the man. "To inform him of my prediction if you are afraid your own men would get killed after he learns what you have done."
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Marashar on Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:59 pm

The man smiled - a not very pleasant expression.

"Leave the handling of that to me, girl. I think we'll send your other friend - or rather leave him somewhere for them to collect with a message. Cheer up, girl. If that engineer cares at all for you, he'll make sure he's properly treated there."

And of course a severly wounded man would hardly try any funny stuff, such as leading the Rifles back to them. He liberated a piece of paper and other writing implements from Estefania's saddle bag and held them out to her.

"Here, write!"

Then he proceeded to dictate, asking for a rather moderate amount of money, considering, but making it quite clear that his instructions for the handing over were to be followed precisely.
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Re: 6th August, 1809: Chaos breeds vagabonds

Post  Allhands on Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:05 am

"....What if he is not found, He will die." Estefania protested. She took to writing the letter, the paper collected unsurprisingly from her own saddlebag. When she had finished she was tempted to add a few words and looked up at the man contemplating his ability to read. She had counted the number of men that were with them now and made a small mark at the top of the letter, another at the end. She hoped that Torrington my read into those, discover them as he could discover inaccuracies on the map. Her English spelling was not perfect, but it would have to do.

She held the letter back. Would he comment on the language? She could see quickly whether he could read or not. "...I want my mare back.. and the horses of my men."
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