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Snippet: The Red Scarves
The Dime
wilowisp
"Some of the Red Scarves will be guarding you," Chrysanthe told me keenly, as we walked away from the room where my guardian Lord Phillip was recovering. She laughed derisively when I told her I did not know what a red scarf was, for there had been no such thing when we had left for Northwatch all the years ago. She told me of their heritage, for she loved seeming more knowledgeable than me, yet through it all, there was a hint of hungry jealousy in her voice.

The roads to the northwest, long and treacherous trade routes to the Lands of Silk and Glass, had always suffered from bandit attacks. But three years ago, the various gangs had been unified under a single banner - the banner of a disgraced earl's son, who sought to carve himself a kingdom along the rich trade route. The king had dispatched several contingents to deal with the matter, for the flow of goods to and from our distant cousins was too important.

The bandits were better organized than anyone expected. Disgraced though the earl's son was, he had still received training in the ways of war at his father's side. Many of Warren's men where slaughtered, waves of soldiers breaking against a fierce wall of desperate and immoral men. Not only did they fight with unorthodox frenzy, but they knew to strike for leaders first - captains, commanders, generals.

In the midst of the battle they would call the Taking of Desher Cove, one soldier took a deep cut to his arm and was left for dead. The perpetrators of the ambush spoke loudly in his hearing of their plans to destroy the army by swiftly attacking the commander general's unit. When the beasts had departed, the soldier bound up his arm with a scarf, soaking it red in the process. He then march solemnly onward, back through battles, to find his general commander and warn him of the incoming attack. But he was too late, and the bandits were upon the general. With a strength terrifying to witness, the soldier picked up the weapons of the fallen guardians, and beat back the attackers, saving his commander's life.

The hero died on that field, but several of his comrades took to wearing a red scarf around their arms in his honor, and pledged themselves as the new protectors of the commander general. They were fierce men, men of danger, and their battle prowess allowed several more key victories for Warren's armies. Eventually, the bandit king was found and executed, but not before the Red Scarves foiled a dozen more direct assaults. They became a unit to be respected, their contribution to the reclamation of the trade routes well sung.

They had returned with the rest of the army six months ago, and Warren had granted them all the honor of protecting the royal household. According to Chrysanthe, they were all stalwart, handsome men of great physique and stern countenance, which made this honor all the more appealing to her. However, not all agreed with this decision, and some whispered that Warren's hand had been forced in the matter, in order that the country might have heroes and spectacle again to distract from the growing unrest.

I would later learn that much of the origin of the Red Scarves was the creative fantasy of the general public - that the original Red Scarves were not bound together in the remembrance of fallen comrade, but in a shared secret. That the tradition of the red scarf was older by far than just the battles with the bandits. I would learn these things when I met the Red Scarf who was to protect me: my love Dorric, who had been ripped from my side in Northwatch four winters ago.
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