20th Decending Wood, western Hundred Kingdoms
The rain, as usual, hisses down like arrows fired from a great bow from heaven.
The overhanging elm and bamboo foliage provides some respite from the rain, but out on the trail overlooking the river's edge, you often receive the full force of the weather whenever the wind shifts. Your straw raincoat and hat provide only scant protection, and even then, cold drops from the hat leak through your wool jacket and stream down the line of your back, chilling you to the bone.
"Forget the Season of Wood, this should be the first Season of Water", you glumly mutter to yourself. Xuansu, your horse, picks up the sound and snorts in response, flicking his ears and spraying drops. You reach down to reassure him, scratching underneath the jawline.
"Relax Xuansu, we should be out of this weather soon, as soon as we come across a village or something", you say, more for your own benefit than his. To be honest, it has been 9 days since the last farmhouse, over which you have slept on the ground, eaten little other than tea and oatmeal, and been pounded on by rain and mountain wind. Your clothing is soaked, and you most definitely need a bath. Xuansu needs to be brushed, your armor likely needs to be dried, and to top it off, despite being trained as a cavalryman, your ass and back are sore from non-stop riding over rugged terrain.
To put it short, you are looking forward to a hot meal and a dry place to sleep, and are even willing to part with some of your hard-earned copper coins to get it. If only there was a village!
Which, to your pleasant surprise, there is, after you come around a bend in the river some time later. Clustered around a stream descending from the mountainside, surrounded by terraces churned into mud by the rain, is a small farming village. The peasant's houses, made from daub, wood and thatch, are rude, but look well-kept compared to the forests you have been sleeping in for the last week. Already, you can imagine hot bread and a warm fire, and you eagerly push Xuansu on.
A couple of minutes later, you pass by the village outbuildings, and you almost instantly know something is off. Even with the almost-incessant rain, there should still be people about, either farmers working on some project or another, or simply children playing under the eaves. So far, nothing.
Suddenly, there is movement in the corner of your eye! On reflex, you throw back your raincoat and free the chappe of your sword from its sheath, allowing it be drawn quickly. The movement reveals itself to be little more than a child peeking around a doorframe, a child that is quickly snatched up by a woman and the door slammed shut. Almost as soon as it happened, the village is silent again.
It doesn't take a genius to realize that something has got the peasants scared. And, contrary to the popular opinion held by many of your social class, it usually takes a lot to set these hard-worn rural folk on edge like this. Over your travels throughout these parts, you have come to realize that the people are often as rugged as the land they work, often (sadly, you realized a while ago) as a result of defending themselves from bandits and raiding parties.
Whatever happened here, it must have been bad. It doesn't look like the village has been raided recently, but there could have been some disease or something. But, you didn't see any signs of recent burials when you approached. Something else? Something ..... worse?
Perturbed, you pull the collar of your jacket up around your nose and mouth as a precaution, and head further into the village. You are already here, so there is no use avoiding possible calamity. Underneath your coat, you keep your blade ready to be drawn, hidden from view.
At the relative center of the village, there is an open spot forming a rough plaza of sorts, upon which sits the largest building in the settlement. The "common house" isn't usually used as a dwelling, but as a meeting-house, a drinking establishment, generic shrine and as a store-house for goods to be paid to the local lord for taxes. On top of all that, there is usually a warm corner or something that compassionate farmers would let a weary traveler sleep in to get out of the weather. Unfortunately, it looks like that won't be happening.
On the veranda of the common-house, a couple of louts lounge about, drinking from clay jugs, throwing dice ,and avoiding the rain as best they can. As soon as you enter the "plaza", they perk up. Just from looking at them, from their unshaved appearances, to their rough-and-mixmatched weaponry, you can immediately tell what they are.
There is about 5 of them (unless there are more inside the common-house), and they are all in various stages of drunkenness. Two of them have clubs studded with metal spikes, one of them is kicked back in a stool next to a spear leaned up on the wall of the building, there is a crossbow (mercifully unloaded) in the lap of the drunkest, and the bandit that walks out to confront you has a heavy, broad-bladed chopping sword suspended from his belt. Thankfully, none of the bandits are actually brandishing the weapons, merely watching you approach with bleary eyes.
All of this you take in from under the edge of your straw hat, as you ride up to the veranda. They are paying more attention to your horse and to your weapons strapped to the saddle than to you, greed apparent in their gaze. The bandit with the sword (whom you take to be their leader) calls out to you as you dismount.
" Ho, there! A poor day to be travelling, especially with this weather. Come up and share a drink or two, and tell us some stories of the road"! The leers from his companions suggest the offer isn't being made in actual honesty.
You don't reply, instead focusing as you dismount Xuansu, removing the bit and lashing the halter to a railing.
"Hey, didn't you hear me! I'm talking to you, horse-boy!" Now the bandit's hand is on his sword, but he hasn't quite drawn it yet. Neither have his friends moved yet, content to watch.
1) Draw your sword. A little less than a meter of fine, castle-forged Vaneha steel, double-edged and needle-pointed, your sword is already partly drawn and ready to go.
2) Draw your spear. Lashed to the right side of your saddle, your spear is 6 feet of solid Mountain Ash, with another foot of razor-sharp spearhead. The reach provided could give you the edge in this fight.
3) Draw your bow. Lashed to the back of your saddle, in a lacquered wood case, your bow is 3 feet long, made of laminated wood, bamboo and rawhide, and powerful enough to take down a deer at 60 meters. There is still 30+ feet of mud between you and the villains, enough space to get off at least one arrow, maybe more
4) Try to talk the bandits down. You have always been told you were good with your tongue (especially by the castle maids /snerk), and doesn't your book on philosophy state that "to win without fighting is best"? Regardless, maybe nobody has to bleed today.
5) Something else? -write insert-
** Both the sword and spear can be used solo, or with a shield that is hanging off the pommel of the saddle**
++ Keep in mind, the weapon you choose is going to be the weapon our character here is going to prioritize with, specialize with, in a fashion. We will almost certainly use all of them eventually, however, but the weapon you choose with be his "favorite"++
After hanging around this forum for quite some time, I have finally decided to work out the quest that I have had rattling around in my head.
Feel free to ask questions, about the setting or about the characters or whatever, and I will gladly answer.
So keep in mind that this is my first actual Quest thread, so be gentle. Constructive criticism is gladly welcome.
First things first, the title "Oathsworn" refers to the protaganists social class, which is basically the combination of European feudal knights, Japanese Samurai, and Chinese Youxia. They are the military caste of the feudal Hundred KIngdoms, which themselves are a combination of Warring-States Era China, Sengoku Jidai Era Japan, and Feudal Europe. So ..... landlords, peasants, castles and stuff. They train as mounted and dismounted archers, spearmen and swordsmen (and women. So long as one can fulfill the obligations of the position, both men and women can be Oathsworn, and Lords for that matter), and fight for Lords in order to be granted lands (and therefore, food and money). The title comes from the Oaths they make when being invested, basically Chivalry + Bushido.
Of course, not every Oathsworn starts out with an Oath of Fealty made, and therefore, they have to wander around the Hundred Kingdoms, fighting under different lords and making a name for themselves, until they attract the right sort of attention. This ..... doesn't always happen, and some, if not many, Oathsworn end up forsaking their vows to protect people, and end up as glorified bandits and mercenaries.