The Lubanthan Warrior
A Rookeri Supplement
THE DRAGONS AND THE TOWN WATCHES
With a society as precisely regulated as it is in Luban, it is no surprise to find the military equally structured. But while the principle of equality underpins their society, in the military it is, perforce, hierarchical.
At its head are the dukes of East, West and Central Luban, appointed and funded by the three Regional Councils. A fourth duke, of Ultra Luban, is appointed, as Luban security requires, by a specially formed representative council.
Subordinate to each duke are the counts (I, II and III). Though these are appointed by the dukes they, too, are funded by the Regional Councils. In addition to their military duties, these counts are responsible for the coordination and collection of the necessary tribute from each of the townsteads in their own counties. The tribute offsets the costs incurred in the board and maintenance of the Watch, also known as the Dragons.
Each count has command of a cohort. Under normal conditions 9 cohorts comprise the Full Watch. Though this consists mostly of men serving for set terms on rota, the Dragons also maintain a permanent complement of men (the Eques). From aged 16 to fatherhood, all males are expected to serve the Dragons in addition to their own Town Watch.
In both the Dragons and the Town Watches the men are banded in tens and commanded by deans (Dragons) or decks (Town Watch, though the eastern townsteads tend now towards the use of dean for both commands).
Raselstad, being a frontier town (the most easterly before the Falls) is particularly at risk from bandits. Here the Town Watch prides itself on being disciplined, well-trained, and always on hand, conscientious beyond the demands of Lubanthan law. As with all Town Watches, its administration is in the hands of the Council’s Head of Defence. This, currently, at Raselstad is Count Slemba of Eirethe Gord, though as Count of .East Luban he is not often present at Council meetings.
Eques and Angels
The Eques form a permanent, full time, wing of the Dragons with numbers never to exceed a third of their cohort. These are the only Dragons not referred to as warriors. They are soldiers, paid to protect and defend, not to wage war.
Administratively attached to the Eques, a group of part-time Dragons known colloquially as ‘angels’ serve as mounted messengers, providing a vital fast link between a duke and his counts, and a count and his deans.
Luban is essentially a pacifist society yet townsfolk and their lands must be protected. It is a constant dilemma in which the Watch, both Dragons and Town, will always be caught. The answer at best is a compromise as seen in their choice of tactics and weapons. Prime is to disable the attacker as soon as discerned. This requires a distance-weapon; the long bow.
With a draw-force of 100 pounds, a bowshot of 1,600 feet, and accuracy up to 850 feet, the long bow is without equal. However, topping the height of an average man, this isn’t a weapon for the mounted Eques and angels; they require a shorter bow. For this, the recurve is used, allowing greater draw-weight with shorter limbs. It is the recurve bow that makes the typical ‘twang’, mimicked by boys at their practice.
When the enemy is closing, with his face now visible, the bow is replaced by the ‘spiked staff’, a euphemism for the long thrusting spear that the Rothi know as the pike. 25 feet long, its shaft reinforced beneath its iron spearhead with metal strips, on Earth-side of old it was made of seasoned ash, for its strength. Today, the Luban use a native grass harvested from the Umenkat Forest, for which the forest is a protected reserve. (So too with the bows: native grasses are used.) The typical ‘spike’ is styled much resembles an elongated arrowhead, with up to six vanes. Less typical, and found only in the West, are the glaive-tip and the voulge, the former resembling a long pruning knife, the latter more of a cleaver. But whatever its offensive ‘spike’, it is effective only when deployed by warriors held in close formation, and this is only possible where the men have been trained to act and to think as a unit.
Effective though this defensive hedge while the Eques-bowmen persuade the enemy to retreat, it does sometimes fail. It is in the resultant hand-to-hand combat that Luban’s innate pacifism is most conflicted. The comprise weapon now is the club; cracked heads and accompanying bloodshed apart, there is no gore, no splatter and no hacked-off parts. But the club requires a clear radius for effective swing. In a mèlée this isn’t possible. Then the short narrow-bladed stiletto comes into its own.
While not standard issue of Dragons or Town Watch, the sword is not entirely unknown in Luban. Yet it is more the resort of the lone traveller.
Following the rule of equality, all Dragon uniforms, of all ranks, are manufactured from heavy-duty cotton twill, though the Eques and angels’ trousers are of nettle-cotton canvas. Throughout the ranks, and throughout the divisions of Luban, though the cut of the shirts, trousers and coats might vary, all are dyed the same mid-brown. A black jasckte wool cloak provides harsh-weather protection and doubles as sleeping-gear. The Town Watches, however, have no uniform but are distinguished by the black waist-sash and black armband carrying their badge.
The Dragons also use these devices; the badge-design is used to identify the cohort.
A cream right to left cross-stripe on a green ground, representing the Falls.The counts’ cohorts are denoted by a multiplication of stripes (1, 2 and 3).
A gold chevron on a brown ground, representing the Ghats’ towns.Again, the counts’ cohorts are denoted by a multiplication, this time of chevrons.
A black vertical stripe on a gold ground, representing the Poner Range. The counts’ cohorts are denoted by multiplication of the vertical lines
Ultra Luban (when it is formed)
A blue chevron on a gold ground, representing the Ridge and the River.
The counts’ cohorts are denoted by a multiplication of the chevrons.
Rank, i.e. of dean, count, and duke, is shown by black ‘pips’ (1, 2 and 3, respectively) studded on their cream coloured epaulettes.
The Ridge, with its hidden valleys, has always attracted the Rothi bandits who make their bases amongst these natural defences. From here they launch their attacks into Luban. The Dragons, their prime purpose to intercept such attacks, continuously patrol this region. But with the Ridge an estimated 900 miles long, each duke responsible for an approximate 300 miles, appropriate accommodation set at a day’s march apart are an essential provision for the foot-slogging Dragon. Hence the Watch Stations.
Sited close to spring or stream, the Watch Station provides basic all-weather shelter for the men, and stabling for horses. While cooking facilities are provided, there are no other comforts, not even a bed. The men – counts and dukes included – must snuggle into their jasckte-wool cloaks.
The Last Word . . . on words
For the origin of the word ‘war’, the Good Book gives the Teutonic base WERSISA, which also gives ‘worse’ (thus arises the saying, ‘to make war is to make worse’). For this reason the Luban Dragons initially forbade the word ‘warrior’. Yet it persisted, as impossible to eradicate as the goblins that infest the lowlands.
‘Soldier’, formed as it is on Latin soldum = ‘pay’, from solidus = ‘a piece of money’, could not be used except for the Eques, counts and the dukes, for the common Dragon receives no pay.
The alternative was here, arguably formed from the same Teutonic base WERSISA, though the Good Book makes no mention of it. But here had become indelibly marked as Rothi, thus not available for Dragon use.
Therefore, despite its unwelcome connotation, the Dragons’ infantry remain warriors, all.