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The Red Duke by Warhammer

The Red Duke by Warhammer

Author:Warhammer [Warhammer]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


108

“You expect them to come tonight, my lord?” The question came from a grizzled

old peasant. Despite his age and the lack of teeth in his lower jaw, Jeanot was a

powerfully built man, his shoulders broad, his arms knotted with muscle beneath the

coarse fabric of his robe. He wore a mail coif, the hood pulled back to form an iron

muffler about his throat. Bits of garlic were tied to the cuffs of his sleeves and pinned

to his belt. A horseman’s mace, its surface pitted with age, swung from a tether

lashed about his wrist.

“They are already overdue,” Maraulf told Jeanot. Unlike the villagers, Jeanot

understood the ways of war. He was a grail pilgrim, the only man in Mercal who had

known the knight interred in the Chapel Sereine when he was alive. As a boy,

Jeanot’s village had been attacked by orcs. The brutish marauders had been stopped

by the arrival of a lone knight who had given them battle and taken such toll upon

them as to send the monsters scrambling back to their mountains. Since that day,

Jeanot had followed the knight throughout the land, ringleader of a small cult that

venerated the knight as a living saint. The cult of pilgrims had followed their knight

throughout Bretonnia, fighting beside him in his many battles. When he had at last

died and been interred in the Chapel Sereine, Jeanot and the other pilgrims had

remained to watch over his grave.

The original battle pilgrims were all gone, all save Jeanot, but others had come to

take their place, men who had heard the tales of the grail knight and sought serenity

through serving the holy warrior’s spirit. There were only a dozen of the pilgrims in

Mercal, but Maraulf considered himself lucky to have them. They were the closest

thing to real soldiers he had to draw upon.

Instead of scattering the pilgrims along the trench, Maraulf kept them back near

the chapel itself, a reserve to react to the Red Duke’s attack. He would have preferred

a squadron of fast-moving cavalry, but in the crowded ground of the cemetery,

Maraulf thought the dismounted pilgrims might actually prove more manoeuvrable.

Maraulf stared at the battle pilgrims, a ragged group of unkempt men dressed in

coarse homespun robes, each bearing some bit of armour on his person. One wore a

vambrace suspended from his neck by a leather thong; another had a pauldron tied to

his head like a helmet. Each man wore the scrap of armour not for protection but as a

talisman, for each piece had been taken from the grave of their grail knight. A dark-

haired pilgrim named Girard bore a heavy reliquary box fastened to a stout

maplewood staff, the little wooden doors bearing a crude representation of the grail

branded upon them. Inside the box itself were the helmet of the grail knight and the

splintered skull of his warhorse. For the pilgrims, these were the most holy of relics,

as important to them as the grail itself to the knights of the realm. As peasants, they

could never hope to see the Lady or sip from the grail; all they could do was pay

obeisance to a knight who had.



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