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Posted: Nov 7 2016, 04:25 PM
While Arthur and the Knights were fighting at Mons Badonicus, Hector, Erec, Dinadan, and Palomedes, the Saracen, as mounted knights, were leading 500 Briton and Woad, attacking Cerdic’s western guard of over 2,000 men. It was at one of the milecastles near Stanwix (Carlisle), that, despite being outnumbered 4-to-1, the Vershnyk proved their worth by denying the Saxon King the vital reserves he needed at Badon Hill.
Hector had fought in a lot of difficult battles of Britannia under the standard of the Vershnyk, that group of horsemen and mounts that he formed, trusted, lived with, and trained… that renown standard bearing the running horse, white upon green - the revitalized emblem of the House of Mordua.
Hector was a fine leader as well as a brave warrior, and for years, his sword that had fiercely slashed the Woad besieging the wall. Now with Arthur, Lancelot, and the other knights, they make a successful ally with the Woad and Briton… and the Saxon enemy hesitate seeing his banner.
And as the banner fluttered in the wind… the long line of Vershnyk, one abreast the other, stood atop a small ridgeline, uphill from their enemy… their steeds stamping the ground in anticipation of battle they were trained for… now faced the enemy just north of Stanwix, an enemy four times their numbers… but the blond warrior, beneath his helm, smiled and turned to his men, his sword raising…
“There is trouble now on all our borders, and we are threatened; but we desire only to be free, and to live as we have lived, keeping our own, and serving no foreign lord, good or evil. And they have met us with a paltry 4 to 1 odds… So my brothers and sisters… now is the hour, Riders of Britain, oaths you have taken! Now, fulfil them all! To Lord and Land!"
And he spurred his warhorse into a great leap… and as the steed landed, his brothers and sisters spurred theirs as he resounded the word “Charge !!!!” and down into the frey they rode… the line of Saxon shield and spear steady, poised for the onslaught…
And in only thirty minutes of battle… only the Saxon wounded survived the onslaught of the Vershnyk… for none were left standing that day. And to his own men, Hector surveyed a mournful 30 dead, 110 wounded; minimal, compared to what could have been if the Saxon King was able to link up with his reserves numbering 2,000 warriors.
And as he walked amongst the dead, his mind veered to a faraway place; where only the mind could venture.
And of those days of youth, Hector remembered, he was a carefree child who had trouble staying out of mischief. He’d romp around the stables all day with his friends, bragging about how he was going to become the greatest warrior Mordua had ever known. Alas, no one took him seriously though; he was, after all, but a scrawny boy with big dreams and a big mouth.
Born the eldest of Gastein, the village’s horsemaster, and Borena, sister of Xogodis, the chieftain. His childhood was a happy one; being the middle of five, he and 4 girls, may not have meant that he was spoiled rotten, but it did give him free range to do whatever he pleased.
With a smile crossing his face, he remembered his mother telling him that when he was three, he had decided that he was going to be a blacksmith when he grew up; spending all of his free time banging an anvil with a hammer; although the village’s resident smithy never allowed him to help meld horseshoes or anything that went anywhere near fire. She reminded him back then he was just too young; though he remained happy just banging away.
Then the smile faded across the weathered face, as memory served him as he had grown older, bonding more and more with the other young lads of Porakos and spending less and less time with his family. They were, after all, just girls; boys didn’t spend time with girls!
And his mind veered to his eighth year… one where everything changed. Vaguely, he remembered it was a cold, miserable day; he wasn’t allowed to play outside, as it was raining. Instead, he and his sisters were playing quietly in front of the fire, when a rider pounded on their door, soaking wet and chilled to the bone.
The man did not stay long; he didn’t even come into the house. He had only arrived to inform their mother that their father, Gastein, had been slain in battle by a marauding tribe. As the rider galloped off into the pounding rain notifying others of their fathers, brothers, or sons’ misfortune, Hector saw his mother collapse for the first time in his life. She simply folded onto the floor, her face pale. He, and his sisters, managed to drag her to the fire, thinking maybe warmth would help her revive, but none knew what else to do besides calming their younger siblings from screaming.
Now, he was the man of the family... He didn’t say a word to his sisters; he just pulled them close and wrapped his arms around them into a group hug, rocking them gently until they quieted down.
He remembered Borena never returned to her quiet, motherly self… and as time went on, she became seriously ill, never getting over the death of her husband and worrying herself to death on how to make ends meet. Hector took over his role as the sole male in the family, leaving his childhood and friends behind to become the blacksmith’s assistant. He needed to become the provider his father had been after all… and although being a smithy did not have the same thrill and glory as being a warrior, he had to put his family’s needs first.
Once more painful memory forced a smile upside down… knowing that despite all the Healer’s efforts, his Mother’s condition grew ever worse. Six months… six long painful months, then he was again standing before a funeral pyre, watching as this time his mother was laid to rest. Now he and his sisters were truly alone in this world.
Either his parents had not told him of his uncle, or the man never made himself known around here, for he had not heard from his uncle, his mother’s brother, in so long, and greatly doubted that the man would, or could, help them. After all, he thought bitterly as he watched his mother’s body crumble into ashes, when their father had died, his Mother’s family had done nothing; and now when his mother had fallen ill, they had done less than nothing.
And he remembered he matured quickly in those arduous months, changing almost overnight from an arrogant boy to a quiet, thoughtful young man beyond his years. Being a blacksmith required much strength, and it wasn’t long before muscles had grown… that his friends, who still enjoyed youthful activities such as frolicking around the village and hills, stealing food from the market, and just being meddlesome, couldn’t even fathom. Though there were times, he doubted his ability to care for his sisters.
Next, as his mind wandered amongst the dead, a smile crossed his face again. However, back then, his doubts were proven wrong, as the very next day, as Hector was trying to choke down some of his sister’s porridge (how do you burn porridge, after all? it’s nothing but barley-oats in milk! how can you ruin it?!), the boy’s uncle, Xogodis and his friend, Benzyl, arrived at their door, a young lad named Lancelot, not much older than Hector, at his side. It wasn’t long before the boy and his sisters, and their meager belongings had been packed.
All but a memory now, his mind filtered thru emotions as he remembered. Xogodis, Gastein, and Benzyl had been Sarmatian knights in Rome’s Auxorii together in the embattled Germania, and had remained friends and sword-brothers long after their 15-year duty to Rome had ended. Now Xogodis, along with his best friend Benzyl, travelled from their village on the mighty plain that flowed south from the foot of the snow-packed Caucasus Mountains all the way to Gastein’s village in Mordua to take his nephew and nieces back with them.
Hector and Lancelot befriended each other quickly, already fast friends before they had reached Xogodis’ village there nestled near the shore of the Black Sea. And as the Roman influence in lands near the Asian borderlands diminished, once solidified Sarmatian clans, now warred against one another for Roman scraps left behind. The vacuum of Rome felt by all those who once remained loyal by vow to a great power.
Xogodis, Benzyl, and the entire village hoped for many a year that the Romans wouldn’t come, but in the end, they came like they always did. First it was Lancelot and Evaine who were the ones to go… Evaine going in place of the sickly Hector. Then a couple of years later, it was Hector’s turn to fulfill his family’s vow to Rome.
And before the recruit contingent could reach the shores of Britannia, Asian hordes swept across the plains of Mordua into the southern plains of Sarmatia. Then there was nothing left of Mordua… only what Xogodis could teach him, and others, of Mordua’s history and culture of the horsemen.
Hector turned from the living for a moment, and wiped a tear from his eye… his mind veering dangerously to the memory of Evaine.
He remembered when he found out about Evaine’s disappearance, and he took it as his blame, his shame. How he grew taller, bulkier, and older, and he learned to love the fight. Though Lancelot blamed him not, Hector lived life embattled… both personally and with the savage people of Britain.
He soon began to see how terrible war truly was; his bright, bubbly demeanor changed. His teasing jokes became dark sarcasm; his cheerful grin became a grim, mirthless, knowing smirk. His reactions, however, didn’t change. When something bothered him, he became somewhat aggressive; he used quiet threats as warnings. When something he cared for greatly is threatened, he became violent, lashing out at the cause in hopes of destroying it and returning things to the way they used to be. War and battle were all that his life revolved around.
And as the months rolled on, he became no longer comfortable in castles or villages, preferring to camp in the open plain, where he can see his adversary, and fight or flee if necessary. However, when he is in the castle or towns, he spent most of his time in taverns, drinking ale with the men; when he is drunk, he can forget all the pain and suffering, if only for a few hours.
And as the Saxon began their invasion of Britain, Arthur summoned his knights… and divided them as he deemed strategically beneficial. And he put Hector, Erec, Dinadan, and Palomedes, the Saracen in one group. And it was Hector that requested he be allowed to form, and train, his men as his Father had told him about so many years before. And with the Commander’s approval, Hector formed the Vershnyk… or in the common language, cavaliere, or Horsemen.
Here is where Hector and the Vershnyk shined… his future set… and at Stanwix (Carlisle) he proved their worth for all to bear witness…
"Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking: Now for wrath, now for ruin, and a red nightfall !!"