A War to be Won

A War to be Won

A Story by Limmy42

The young Marquis of Asplund, Elizabeth Wake must defend her estate and people against a butchering invader and soon finds herself an officer in the Royal Army.


Chapter One

Elizabeth Wake walked through the great oak double doors of the Wake estate manor as a footman came to her, taking her military cap and jacket. “Congratulations on the commission, my Lady.” the footman said bowing as he stepped back with her jacket folded over one arm and the cap carefully balanced on top. Taking both the hat and jacket off revealed her slender figure which the military uniform fitted well to and the light, hazel brown hair that came down past her shoulders.
“Thank you Hargrave.” Elizabeth said without breaking stride, in front of her stood the wide open parlour of her family’s manor. From the double sweeping stair case of finely carved crystal and smooth white wood to the sheer white marble of the walls and pillars onto the carpeting and the near two thousand acres that surrounded all of it, it all belonged to the Wake family estate, or to be more specific, it all belonged to her, the now Marquis of Asplund. She rested her hand on the hilt of her officer sword, the gold and black handle and sheath matching her new, crisp, uniform. A maid walked down the left flight of sweeping stairs, being careful not to touch any of the pristine varnished wood, crystal hand rail or spotless marble wall. “Sarah, run a bath and tell the cooks to prepare dinner for visitors.”
“Yes my Lady, right away.” The young servant said, bowing before ducking into one of the many doorways that attached to the parlour. “And Hargrave.”
“Yes my Lady?” the elderly footman said, stepping out of the cloakroom.
“Send a message to Lady Hassborough that I have returned and I graciously ask her attendance for dinner tonight.”
“Of course my Lady.” He said, bowing with one arm folded against his stomach before retreating back into the cloakroom. Elizabeth strolled up the perfectly white stairs, shaking the handle of her sword to test the sturdiness of its fixes, the scabbard was clasped to her thigh with leather straps and felt like it could fall out at any moment but never did.

The sun had set by the time Lady Hassborough arrived at the estate in horse and carriage, bringing with her an entourage of servants, footmen, guards and family. Lady Adalia Hassborough always felt the need to travel with such a following, especially the house guards, she didn’t know, perhaps it was a power thing. Elizabeth greeted the elderly Lady at the great oak doors of the estate as the carriage pulled up and two footmen helped her out of the wooden contraption and onto the ground where she reassessed her standings and made good her overly elaborate dress. Once she was satisfied she looked up beaming at Elizabeth who by contrast was just a younger version of herself and if she was perfectly honest with herself, a little more beautiful at that age than she had been. “Lady Wake, I am honoured to have been invited to dinner by the good Marquis of Asplund.”  Lady Adalia said feigning the honourifics she might have given to a Marquis who was not her niece.
“Oh Lady Hassborough, you flatter me but you are not without honour yourself Countess.” Elizabeth said, half playing along with what Lady Adalia thought was a fantastic joke. It was something she had been playing at ever since the sting of Elizabeth’s father’s death had worn off, not that it could truly have warn of after only eleven months. The late Marquis of Asplund, Drake Oliver Wake had fallen beside his men in a crushing defence of Everlann Harbour which turned into the first battle of new war and the first of a string of defeats against Elizabeth’s own country. Elizabeth stood there thinking, her eyes staring at nothing in particular until another voice broke her sudden and badly timed day dream. “Liz!” a young boy yelled, pushing past a footman as he climbed out of the carriage. “Liz, Liz, Liz!” he yelled happily, throwing himself at her. Elizabeth reeled backwards, taking a step and then another to recover from the impact. “Adrian,” she paused, trying to find something to say her little brother after six months absence, “It’s good to see you again.” She said, going down on one knee to hug him. He was particularly short for his age at fifteen while Elizabeth herself was particularly tall at eighteen, something they got from their mother and father respectively. “I take it you’ll be staying the night Aunt?” Elizabeth said jokingly, dropping the dull honourifics.
“See Adalia, I told you we shouldn’t have invited ourselves in.” came a voice from the carriage who was still being helped out by the footmen.
“Quiet Harry, you’re being rude. I wouldn’t have it any other way darling!” Lady Adalia answered with a genuine smile as her husband, Harold, got his feet on the ground and was handed a black varnished walking stick with a silver handle.
“Well then come in, I have rich foods, warm fires and an entire manor to share with you.” She said, pulling the sword out of the leather ties and handing it over to Hargrave.

The three made their way under the parlour’s balcony, in between the double sweeping staircase, through a set of white wooden doors and into a waiting room. Adorned with carpet, fireplace, paintings across thick wooden walls, polished floorboards, a small library and an assortment of couches the room was where guests would wait until other entertainment had been prepared. The small group made their way in, past the house guards armoured with cuirass and armed with musket into the waiting room where the sweet smell of lemon cakes mixed with the smell of fresh tea leaves in boiled water. Sitting down Lady Adalia almost pulled Harold into the seat next to her and Adrian closer to Elizabeth in his own arm chair, immediately sampling the lemon treats. It was only now in the light of gas lamps and away from the cold air that she began to notice just how each of them had changed. Lady Adalia had grown older beyond her years, though her hair had been graying when Elizabeth had left six months ago it was now all but grey and new creases had found their way onto her face from stress. Lord Harold, or Harry as Lady Adalia called her husband, had fared better and retained his thick black hair and curving moustache. The most noticeable change among them however was Adrian, he had grown nearly an inch and was now fifteen years old, an adult in the eyes of the law. Just as she looked over each of them Lady Adalia spoke up, “My Elizabeth how you’ve changed over these months. You have matured so much, your uniform, your face and hair and well, other things too.” She said with a smile that could have warmed the room with no aid of the fires. Her smiles were always so welcoming, it was an endearing motherly trait she had which was a shame since she could never be a true mother. Instead Lady Adalia had taken it upon herself to them both after their mother passed away giving birth to Adrian, more often than not their father had to be away; the Marquis of Asplund was a prominent figure in politics and the military. Elizabeth blushed slightly, eyeing back and forth between Lady Adalia and Adrian who, still devouring lemon cakes, the comment had gone unnoticed to. “Thank you Aunt and Uncle, it’s been so long since we’ve been together.” Elizabeth said.
“It has, hasn’t it?” Lady Adalia replied, her voice soothing and soft, “We should get all the family together to celebrate your commission! Wake, Hassborough, Evernean, Montith and Philipe all under one roof, wouldn’t it be fantastic? Why, we could have them all year this time next fortnight.”
“I’m afraid I won’t be here next fortnight Aunt.” Elizabeth said. She had been hoping to save the bitter news for a bit further into the night but if she didn’t say it now then there would be the trouble of finding another opportunity to. “The Royal Army is desperately low on officers, my orders are to take a command.” She said, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t put a damper on the mood.
“A command?” Lady Adalia said gleefully, “You hear that Harry? Our little Elizabeth will be leading men into battle.” She finished but then quickly added, “Make sure you don’t get hurt, you know how Harry and I would feel if anything happened to you.”
“Any idea where you might be going?”
“I have been posted to the second battalion of the First Royal Storm Guards Regiment.” At this Lady Adalia turned to Harry as if to explain what this meant.
“The Storm Guards? That’s a highly prized fighting force, an elite if you didn’t already know. They are one of the regiments cycled through the royal guard along with the sixteenth Royal Life Hussars and the fifth Brunderbig Grenadiers Regiment.” Lord Harold said, pausing to take the cup and saucer being offered by Lady Adalia. “It’s an elite and highly prestigious unit, though it’s not really surprising that someone of your title is to be assigned to such a regiment.” He continued taking a sip from the fine china cup.
“I suppose… I’ll be in good company then?” Elizabeth asked.
“The very best.”
“You know Harold,” Lady Adalia began, “War’s an awfully dangerous thing. What if we got our Elizabeth some armour? You know, to keep her safe? That cloth uniform looks nice but it will hardly do!”
“Aunty, thank you but I hardly think an officer will be in harm’s way.” Elizabeth said thinking back on the etiquette of warfare and she had learnt in the Royal Military Academy which specifically taught not to target officers but then she remembered her father, he had been a colonel but he had fallen with his garrison.
“No, no, I think that’s a good idea.” Lord Harold said, “We’ll get you measured and fitted tomorrow morning and have it ready by the time you need to leave.” He said and then stopped with a puzzled look on his face, “When are you leaving?”
“A week from now. Then it’s a three day journey to the front where the third army is stationed.”
“That’s enough time to fashion some armour isn’t it Harry?” Lady Adalia asked.
“Well I’m sure if it’s not then we’ll make sure it is.” Lord Harold smiled since he was in fact exquisitely rich though so was Elizabeth now she had inherited the Asplund estate.
“I really appreciate this Aunt and Uncle, it means a lot to me that you’d do this and take care of Adrian while I’m gone.”
“We’d do it anyway, wouldn’t we Harry?” Lady Adalia said with a smile though Elizabeth saw just a hint of sadness behind it.
“Of course, Adrian is a blessing so long as he’s distracted and a thousand sets of armour are worth you coming back home safe.” Lord Harold said.

Elizabeth walked through the town of Raspley with the Hassboroughs in the early morning, the sun had barely crested the distant hills and the town was just waking up to start business for the day. The streets quickly grew busier and crowds began forming at the assortment of traders, merchant stores, craftsmen, blacksmiths, armourers and every other business imaginable. Smoke began to rise into the air as fires started burning, the town was alive just an hour after sunrise and it became apparent that the guards her Aunt always brought with her were immensely useful. Clad in cuirass, half helm, gauntlets and red cloak and armed with bayonetted muskets the House Guard of the Hassboroughs were not to be trifled with and the golden eagle coat of arms emblazoned on their chest was something the locals easily recognized. They arrived at an armourer, one that had been serving the Hassboroughs and other families for generations though Elizabeth had never had anything to do with them. A guard walked up to the door of the stone building that lay in between an assortment of other stone and wooden buildings of various business and announced the Lordships arrivals with an official wax seal and a booming voice. “My Lord and Lady of Hassborough, my Lady and Lord of Asplund.” A voice called as they walked inside the dimly lit building.
“Jack, Lady Wake needs the finest set of armour you will ever make.” Lady Adalia said as she entered.
“Of course my Lady.” Jack said, bowing to Elizabeth as she walked inside, her attire of leggings and tunic slightly more masculine than a woman of her stature might have normally worn, but women of here stature rarely had to purchase armour plate.
“Oh and Jack,” Lord Harold began, “I need the cuirass to be double thickness, and some gauntlets that cover all the way to the elbow. Put some Faulds on the breast plate as well.” He said before turning to Elizabeth, “Elizabeth, the breast plate will be heavy, twice the weight of even some of the thickest armour but you must wear it, at long range it will stop shot and at close there is no war hammer or sword that can pierce it. The gauntlets will protect your hands and arms which will save you in a fight.” Elizabeth had been taught in the Academy that officers rarely had to fight themselves, the rules of war exempted them from such acts and even more so that armour rarely ever including anything past a cuirass but Lord Harold had been a soldier, fought a number of battles and she would not disagree with him. He stood there a moment, as if picturing the armour on her body, eyeing out where she would be covered and were she wouldn’t. “Jack, I want upper arm plate, the sort that wraps around on the outside and has straps on the inside of the arm… and a collar.” He said finally.
“Make this your finest piece and you’ll be rewarded for it greatly.” Lady Adalia said and Jack bowed, taking to Elizabeth with measuring rope before recording the findings on a piece of parchment and returning to the measurements once again. “What colour would the Lady have the steel?” Jack asked, “It is customary to have it painted both to resemble a unit and to slow rust.”
“The Storm Guards don a black armour with gold trim.” Harold said and Jack looked up, surprised for half a second at the name before looking back down to his work.
“And when would this need to be completed?”
“By Friday.” Elizabeth said suddenly, she had been silent this whole time. At this Jack looked worried, a suit of armour fashioned to the standards they required could take a month or more to complete and this would be needed in six days.
“Jack, I understand the difficulty but we must have this done by Friday.” Lady Adalia said, taking a velvet bag from an oak case a footman was holding. “This is gold, hire the people and machines you need and keep the rest for yourself. I can assure you there will be more where this comes from and none if you fail.”
“At once my Lady, the armour will be a masterpiece.” Jack said, finishing his measurements and beginning to draw finely crafted sketches. “I will have it done by Friday evening, no later, no earlier.”

Elizabeth walked out of the blacksmith shortly afterwards wondering just how much money had been spent on her alone. “Now we get the fun part!” Lady Adalia said gleefully though the blank look Elizabeth returned clearly showed no understanding of what she meant. “The surcoat, darling! We get to colour it and weave it and pattern it… well, we won’t be colouring or weaving but it’s basically the same thing.” She said. They found themselves in an expansive building dedicated purely to the selling and buying of rich fabrics and the crafting thereof to which Adrian was sorely disappointed. A seamstress came over, bowing and addressing them with the usual honourifics before Lady Adalia told her what she needed. “Lady Wake requires the wears of battle, two sets of garments to be worn under heavy armour and a surcoat.” She said firmly as if she knew how Elizabeth might be worrying about the cost but would have none of it.
“Of course my Lady.” the elderly seamstress said before collecting her measurements as the blacksmith had done before though much, much, slower. As she finished the measurements she asked Elizabeth in a slow and tenderly fashion, “I could suggest golden silk from the Far East if it pleases my Lady. A new shipment, freshly arrived.” But thought of the East only brought thoughts of the war, her father and the invaders along with it.
“No, my cloth will be black.” Elizabeth said, half vacantly as if there were some profound meaning in her choice.
“As you wish my Lady, the dark colours are stored where the light cannot spoil them.” And she led them into a cold, dry, cavernous cellar where real upon real of the highest quality fabric was being held in storage. The seamstress lurched forward slowly on legs that might have given at any time holding a gas lamp in one hand. At the far end of the room a real of black silk seemed to almost sparkle in the dancing light and Elizabeth was struck by it. Approaching she touched the magnificently light and soft but strong material that throughout its body had flecks of silver. “That’s tempest silk from far south, across the ocean and has been threaded through with pure silver, coated in a way that only the tribes of the far south have knowledge of that guards the metal from rust. Fit for the King they said and I have to agree.”
“What about the Marquis of Asplund?” Lady Adalia asked.
“It is some of the strongest silk know to the Kingdom, my Lady. You would need Canvas ten times its weight to be half as strong.”
“In that case we’ll have it emblazoned with the Wake crest in gold thread and trimmed in the same.”
“As my Lady wishes.” The feeble seamstress said, shaking a bell that she had pulled out of her pocket to call her assistants over.

Elizabeth broke her fast the next morning with her brother, aunt and uncle. She indulged in richer foods knowing she wouldn’t see anything like it for many months after she left on Saturday morning and enjoyed the simpler luxuries of the manor that she had missed before and would miss again, the library was full of documents, manuscripts and classical literature but the pieces she had been reading today was Bon Avalleti’s Strategies of Human Conflict. Avalleti had been a general from the southern states of a past century who had forged a nation out of squabbling states despite the great northern kingdoms, empires and confederations, including the Kingdom of Ardeaen that she belonged to, striking up armies and marching on the new state. Avalleti, despite being vastly outnumbered and lacking the effective supply lines of disciplined troops of his enemies waged a new war, one that spat in the face of conventional ‘rules of war’. In this conflict, the War of Abellon Succession, officers and supply wagons were given bounties, aggressive leadership by junior officers on the field, rather than by an overall commander, saw many breaks in the enemy army be exploited to a great extent and lightning raids during the night caused many great armies to be broken and destroyed. It was in this book that she was learning the difference between fighting with the goal to win and winning before fighting. The main difference between the book’s teachings and conventional military honour was that there is no such thing as a fair fight, that every engagement should be fought to destroy the enemy, not to meet in a fair arranged field to duel. This was what bothered her, while she might understand the concepts at the very least would her commanders? Or more importantly, would her enemies? The menace to the East was brutal, it had already set razed a dozen cities and tails of the butchery and barbarism that took place in those was too much to believe. Berserkers high on blood cutting through a line of fusiliers, a war lord leading men on a bloody rampage for a ‘god that demands the blood of heathens’, rape and slavery of tens of thousands and the butchery of a hundred thousand more. Still, at least it was a war worth fighting, many thousands had been sent to the grave in past decades on the whim of a prince or because of estranged marriages from long ago and treaties being called on for slights to a monarch’s honour. Here the enemy was clear, the victim obvious and the price for failure cruel.

The morning had quickly turned to noon then noon to dusk and as with the sun the Hassboroughs and Adrian left too. Elizabeth looked out over the countryside from the western wing’s balcony to the town that appeared just on the horizon as a bring glow. The next day she would have to head into town to be fitted for the armour and then again on the day after next until it was finally finished. Starring across the fields to the distant town she could imagine the glow becoming brighter and brighter until every building was ablaze, laid to waste by a marauding army and suddenly she was afraid. The pang of fear was almost painful, the sense that she would not return, that she might fail in her assignment and leave the entire province of Asplund vulnerable was unbearable. Elizabeth retreated back inside, shutting the door and curtains on the town that in her mind was still burning. The decision she had made was to defend her people, the idea of being a Lord was to defend and protect your people and land against invaders. Staying here she would be as helpless as the townspeople, after all, how long could her house guard of fifty soldiers past their prime last against an army of eighty thousand? It was a plan at least to leave behind a civil militia under strict supervision of the House Guard and the nearby Hassboroughs along with their Home Guard. At least then should worst come to worst as her racing mind told her it would, maybe her people could die protecting their homes and family rather than being butchered and destroyed without a second thought. It was as if a dark cloud had come over her mind while a knot clenched tighter and tighter in her stomach, I might die she thought to herself, I really truly might… Will… die. With each passing moment her mind grew more and more pessimistic with the outcome of her future campaign until she retired to her quarters for the night.


© 2014 Limmy42

Author's Note

This was something I wrote after being inspired by this image, the setting is somewhere between medieval and imperial eras in a fantasy world that, in my mind, somewhat resembles Europe.


I hope this gives you some feeling of curiosity as to what comes next and actually makes you want to read more. Any constructive criticism though simple typos or basic mistakes in spelling or grammar aren't my main concern.

I hope you enjoy it, I've put a decent amount of effort in and will be starting chapter 2 tonight which should be posted in between three days and a week if all goes well.

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Added on September 3, 2014
Last Updated on September 3, 2014
Tags: military, fantasy, nobility, nobles, earl, marquis, army, Kingdom, royalty, royal, guards, storm, line, infantry, musket, pistol, rifle, estate, manor, napoleon, history, war, battle, combat




I write just cause I can and enjoy reading, writing or watching anything to do with military, war or combat cause I'm weird like that. I also have a bad habit of writing at the same level as an irradi.. more..