Why hello my far-traveling friends. Today I would like to tell you a tale of Fhoust. Fhoust has been King Gorundor’s seneschal for more years than I can count now, but I sat down with him at a tavern one day long ago and he told me a tale of when he was in the Royal Scouts. It was a tale that I think gives interesting insight into the Scouts, whom are still held in very high regard to this day. Well, enough babbling, here is the tale of a young, Royal Scout by the name of Fhoust:
“Our Lieutenant woke us before sunrise with a hearty yell to get our lazy backsides moving. It was never smart to keep him waiting so our company grabbed our quivers and knives and rushed out to the training grounds. After the stragglers came running out of the tent the Lieutenant explained our task to us. He said that he had sent out a courier with a message for the Earl of Mensfield. The courier was on horseback and had about half an hour’s head start. Our mission was to track the courier on foot, intercept him on the way to Mensfield, and return back to give the Lieutenant the message before sunset. The land between the castle and Mensfield was swampy mire, caused by the Dhur Thorim River. Then he told us that the task was to be completed in pairs, and that we would sound the horn to start on the count of 5.
I looked to my right, and a bearded Scout by the name of Heath asked me to be his comrade. I agreed and the horn sounded. “Shall we be off then?” I asked as other pairs sprinted across the training yard heading for city gate.
“Wait”, Heath responded. “How well do you know the lands between here and Mensfield?”
“Not that well, I was raised in Wesley Village”
“Damn, there must be a quicker way to get to Mensfield beside the swamp. We will never catch a horse if we get turned around in the mire.”
“But if we don’t follow the horse, how will we pick up its tracks… Unless we beat the courier to the Earl, and wait for him.”
“Aye, that’s clever thinking. And what if we follow the Dhur Thorim, we can run along the banks until high tide comes.”
“Alright it’s a plan” I told Heath.
We set off for the river’s edge, and once out of the city we maintained a steady jog for the whole morning. The ground was wet and our feet sank in the mud, but it was way faster than traversing the swamps. Heath was built like a bear, and had a surprisingly large amount of endurance. We made very good time, until the tide began to come in. Water filled in our path, and we had to move into the marshes, but we still kept the river in sight as a guide.
The going got a lot slower once the river banks filled up. Parts of the swamp were deep, and we had to wade through them, at other times we had to climb over massive tree branches. Our boots filled with mud, we finally approached a small hamlet on the waterfront. Although we were miserable in our soaked clothing, and were exhausted from the run, and trudging through the swamp, we stopped only for a minute to buy salted beef from an inn keeper. We didn’t have time for a meal, so the beef we could eat on the move and it would keep well for days.
It was nearing late afternoon, and Mensfield was nowhere in sight. Heath and I guessed that we had passed the other recruits due to the river route, but we had no clue if we were going to intercept the message or not. Everything seemed to ache, and the deadline, put an immense pressure on us.
We had about three hours of sunlight left, when Heath spoke between ragged breaths, “I think this is where the marshes turns into a main road. The road from Aldouin should meet with the swamp paths over that rise.”
I grunted an affirmative, and we trudged on. Heath was right; we saw a road that would make our travel a lot easier. Heath gave a hearty yell of joy. Then I heard the sound of a horse trotting. I told Heath to quiet down, and the trot became louder.
All of a sudden a courier appeared from behind us on a horse. “Halt!” Heath and I yelled.
The courier slowed his horse, “Scouts I presume?”
“Indeed, what is the message?” I asked somewhat impatiently.
“Tell your Lieutenant that a sparrow flies away from the sun as to not get burned.”
Heath asked the courier, “Is that the same message you are giving the Earl?”
“You’d better get going” said the courier and spurred his horse.
Heath turned to me and asked, “How are we going to get back in time? There is no way we will make it before sunset.”
A crazy idea popped into my head. “What if we swam back?”
“The Dhur Thorim’s flow will have reversed due to the tide going out, which means it can carry us very fast down the river.”
“How are we going to stop and get out of the river? I don’t want to get washed out to sea.”
“We could break off a large tree branch each to help guide ourselves down the river. That way we can keep ourselves near the bank.”
We hiked back to the water’s edge, stripped down to our trousers, and packed everything else into our quivers. Then we each broke off a branch, about as tall as ourselves, and then jumped in. The water took my breath away at first but fighting hard to not get swept out into the middle of the river made me heat up quick. The swim down the river went by very quickly, since we both had so much adrenaline pumping through us.
After what seemed like only a few minutes, the city walls came into view. We drove our sticks hard into the bed of the river and struggled to get ourselves onto the bank. Once we made it, we laid on our backs, just breathing for a minute. The sun had almost set by then, so we put our semi-wet clothes back on and took off running for the training ground. The run quickly turned into a shambling walk, as we were both so exhausted.
Finally just minutes before sundown, we made it to the training ground. The Lieutenant was there waiting for us, and we gave him the message. As a reward for being the only ones to finish, Heath and I both got hot dinners, and a pint of mead, which were very rare occurrences when going through Scout training. All through the night, other scout teams came back into the tent miserably tired having failed the task.
That was the day where I think I fully recognized that I wanted to be a Royal Scout. I had no clue that I would meet Gorundor, and become seneschal.”
Well that was a tale from Fhoust’s training to become a Royal Scout. I hope you weary travelers enjoyed the story. I have no doubt that in time you shall hear more of Fhoust’s adventures. I wish you all merry adventures!