XNN - High Flying Ideas

XNN - High Flying Ideas

A Chapter by BL

The times we had are not a memory they are real, the fire tells me this as it eternally burns.


Alfos was not a man of high flying ideas, he was pragmatic in his approach to things. He generally found that he had little time to use what imagination he had and rarely engaged in free, fanciful talk or thinking. However on this fine, bright day he had allowed himself time so he could let his mind wander where it liked without worry in the hope he might get some new ideas. Inspiration for the oncoming battles; the war. He decided to spend the day in the country away from the city and rode out along the southerly narrow windy lanes under blue skies and after taking several forks in the road, left and right he eventually found a remote tavern. He sat on a rough hewn wooden bench in the unkept garden staring at the trees that surrounded the small thatched roofed building. The trees swayed gently in the calm breeze, their crowns bending as their leaves made a sound like rushing water.

I wonder what it will be like in two hundred years. Will there be roads and houses here? Will there be lighted streets and fast moving horseless carriages that make no noise? Will there be high fortified walls for protection like in the cities around Arun? Will there be enemies and opposing kingdoms at war or will a new way be found to live together in a greater peace? A face appeared at the doorway of the tavern and a young woman, the serving maid smiled at him. She wiped her hands on her white apron as she came to his table. Alfos looked at her and his seriousness turned to calm indifference. She wore traditional dress of a long brown skirt that touched the floor, a tight open bodice with a white blouse underneath that emphasised her body.

‘Hello, Sir,’ she said softly, looking at his washed hair and new unmarked clothes. He wore a dark blue tunic, baggy, loose-fitting hessian trousers and a thick gold chain necklace.

‘Ale and a meal. Whatever you have will be good for me,’ he said to her. Nodding, she disappeared inside.

But what is the point of thinking such things when there are so many practical issues to resolve his rational mind said. The army, the men and their training. His right to the throne, if they repel the invasion and the heir he might have, if and when he found the right woman. At that moment he thought that the bright and stable future he so desired was as unlikely as the daydreams he was having. Looking up at the crow flying he wondered if man would ever take to the skies with wings of his own or even more crazily reach the stars. Transport along the ground in the form of chariots and carts and in the sea with boats and ships had been invented and was developing, but not anything with success in the air. It would be impossible as people were too heavy, but the birds flew. It seemed impossible, but not impossible to dream of and dreaming of it might lend the mind that way so that the first steps might be taken.

The serving maid brought out a jug of ale, a tankard and a platter of cold meat, cheese and bread. She poured the tankard half full and smiled happily. He looked at her and what she was doing. She was about to speak, but instead watched silently as he got out two silver coins from his pouch and placed them flatly on the table. ‘There’s no need for that, you are the son of the king aren’t you?’ she said smoothly.

‘I still need to pay my way,’ he said.

‘But that doesn’t make sense, isn’t that money from taxes?’ she pointed at the coins.

‘No, it’s earned from my estate, that’s been in my family for generations, long before my father was king. Take it,’ he ordered. He offered the coins up to her, putting them in her hand. Her hands looked delicate and soft, but they were rough from working.

‘No disrespect, Sir, but how would anyone know? I still can’t take it, not from the king’s family,’ she said moving back. She put the coins back on the table. Her face was red and she looked uneasy.

‘They don’t, they have to trust. You trust me don’t you?’

‘Yes,’ she laughed.

He smiled at her. ‘I may drink a lot of ale,’ he said. She shrugged. ‘A lot,’ she shrugged again, raising her shoulders higher. ‘Until I fall off my horse,’ she laughed.

‘We have plenty,’ she said regaining herself, but let her face break into a polite smile.

He looked at the dilapidated thatched roof and the unkempt garden. ‘I must be able to do something around here. Can I make a contribution?’ he asked dramatically in a loud voice, two drunken locals, who were sat under an apple tree nearby listened in, she said nothing. ‘I’d like to help mend the roof. How much would a good thatcher be?’

‘I have no idea,’ she said twisting around to look at the roof. ‘I’d have to ask,’

Standing up, he gave her his leather money pouch. ‘This should be enough,’

‘Oh, What? Oh. Thank you, Sir. Thank you very much,’ she weighed it in her hands. Her eyes wide, a smile beaming across her face, she didn’t know what to do with herself, she was excited.

‘And when I come back after the war I expect to see it all done. A nice thick roof of thatch, cut neatly,’ Alfos said smiling cheekily. He sat back down and started to drink watching her run back inside the tavern with the pouch. He looked at the old roof and imagined a smart new one in its place, he imprinted the image in his mind so he wouldn’t forget it as he knew he may never see it in reality. Alfos drank quickly, the heat of the day had got into him, he was thirsty. And when his thirst was quenched he ate. Thick slices of crumbly cheese and cured ham between the fresh crusty bread.

So what of the army then? the army that was stuck in tradition, that hadn't been changed for hundreds of years that was controlled by the Elders, the Druids and their deepest fears. Could it be improved? Changed? Made more effective against the formidable enemy they faced. The men lacked experience, which was their main disadvantage as the armies of Italia were veterans of numerous previous battles on the mainland. They couldn't just get experience from nowhere. Numbers weren’t necessarily a disadvantage as he estimated they had nearly as many men fit and ready for battle as the invasion force. The only solution to a numerical advantage was to recruit more mercenaries. Fighting on home soil was a real disadvantage as they could be held to ransom over hostages taken. So clearing the enemies path ahead of him and an organised retreat was the only answer there. The kingdom on that most likely path was Londoria in the south east, it would have to be made into a clearing zone of false villages and defences to make the army of Italia believe they were facing a true enemy. In this way civilian lives could be saved and the military could be better used when it had more of a position of advantage. It would be a mammoth task to organise, but an even greater one to get the Londorians to agree to. Their king and lords were too proud and set in their ways, they wouldn’t listen to him, particularly as there had been so many feuds and border skirmishes between them, not to mention a war only twenty years ago. At this time he wished he had Bezon's council. Bezon would have ideas, he would know what to do. He drunk his ale down and refilled the tankard from the jug. It was good strong clear ale, not like the watered down stuff from the city taverns that charged high prices. The pickled onions were strong and sweet tasting, offsetting the sour taste of the ale.

The army of Arun needed to be more flexible, it was too rigid. For as long as he could remember or had ever been told they had faced their enemies like chess pieces on a chess board. A line of men against a line of men as though it was some sort of bizarre game. There must be some way to fight that was more imaginative, there was no need to to have everything set out in a predicted way, but to do anything else would be dishonourable he was repeatedly told, but what was the point of honour, if you were dead. They had to use more cunning and be less predictable as well as strong. The enemy must have its weaknesses. This was going to be no petty squabble between tribes, where a few men got killed or injured, a whole country was at stake. From what he knew of Italia, once a kingdom was in their control they showed little mercy. There would be no free living, it would be a brutal suppression not a civilised invasion. He crunched into an apple watching the serving maid collecting tankards and plates. She moved gracefully and efficiently, saying nothing

I've got an idea, multi-functional units. A swordsman, five archers and a charioteer; or maybe two swordsman. A unit that can support itself and attack any opponent. A unit that can retreat and be manoeuvred in and out of a battle zone as and when it was needed. One that could deploy troops and pick them up when they ran into trouble, not just a hit and run chariot. They would have to be carefully organised and given the right conditions for battle. A flat surface where they could run free, but where they could also have the cover of trees. He thought of several area like that and the plains near Salisbury was one. The chariots could be used in number as a striking arm to flank the enemy as they faced the main mass of Arunian troops. He knew that it might not be enough and that they were short of good archers; the most dishonourable of all fighting men. Something else was needed, an extra dimension; mercenaries perhaps.

The serving maid came over to him carrying another jug of ale. ‘I have asked my father about the roof and he says the money will pay for a good roof and more and it’s very kind of you. He also says if you are the king’s son you are very welcome here at anytime,’ she said spitting the words out quickly as if they were offending her tongue. ‘He also said that he, with your permission wants to rename the tavern after you and to call it the ‘Prince’s Tavern,’

‘Oh,’ Alfos said, sounding a little disappointed.

‘He can’t come out as he is extremely drunk. He can’t even stand up. I am sorry,’ she laughed again, she was a happy soul and not unattractive for a working girl. Alfos thought of the war and how he was most likely to die, the ale as well as give him ideas had depressed him. ‘Thought you’d be pleased with that,’ she said, her smile fading.

‘How nice. That would be fantastic, thank you,’ he said trying to sound enthusiastic.

‘The sign over the door will be re-painted so that name can be read, by those who can read. It’ll be named after you.’ she laughed.

‘What’s your name?’ he said trying not to slur his words.


‘Listen, Jenna,’ he whispered leaning towards her, gently taking her hand and squeezing it. ‘If sometime in the future you hear I haven’t come back from this war, I want you to rename this tavern again,’ she tilted her head perplexed, not knowing what to say. ‘I want it to be called the Princess Jenna,’ he had a glint in his eye that caught her and her eyes shone.

The sky had turned in now, there were large, heavier grey clouds floating over. They looked leaden and full of rain. The thought of sitting inside the tavern by the fire seemed very appealing. He drunk down more ale, feeling light-headed, but now he didn’t care. He was living for the day. Alfos was not a man of high flying ideas, but he did have his moments of inspiration.

© 2018 BL

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well princess was much better than having her head cut off for telling him about his money
i liked this chapter

Posted 2 Years Ago


2 Years Ago

good for her

2 Years Ago

I’ve rewritten the 2nd from last paragraph so it emphasises what I mean more ;-)

2 Years Ago

yeap,that works better

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Added on November 17, 2018
Last Updated on December 16, 2018
Tags: spy, battle, army, kingdom, luck, war, hope, fear, empire, dust, peace, fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure, power, Memory, mystery



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