Thoughts on Fact vs. Fantasy

So, recently I’ve been brushing up on my knowledge of all things medieval — not with the express purpose of making my worlds more realistic, more out of curiosity, but I digress — and it has occurred to me that some of my characters do very unreal things. I don’t mean magic; that’s a no brainer. No, what I mean is other things that are just straight up unreal, magic or no. Like Tom. Tom is impressively acrobatic despite carrying oftentimes multiple weapons and wearing a breastplate. Now, experts in armor and weapons, or even people like myself with only a cursory knowledge of the subject, can tell you that armor and weapons in the middle ages were often lighter and more agile than we give them credit for, and certainly more than we see from video games. But you don’t climb trees so outfitted. You don’t run across rough terrain as if you were wearing nothing at all. You don’t throw a halberd like a javelin or dodge a hail of arrows with ease. You don’t survive otherwise fatal blows. Anyways, I’m not making a point of anything, really. Tom and co. are still going to be a bit fantastical, but I am going to try and make some things more accurate, like interactions between weapons and armor and what types of armor and attire fit different situations. I am going to try and make physical aspects of the weapons and armor more accurate where necessary, but I am not going to worry too much about it. But here’s a thing I just thought up now that is probably going to be an introduction to a character you won’t see for a long time.

Excerpt from Clash of Dragons

The woman approached Tom, silent as a ghost and dark as the shadows, both in skin tone and attire. She wore close fitting cloth attire, and her head was completely covered, save for the area around the eyes: the spitting image of a rogue. Had it not been for the fact that she announced herself, Tom would never have known she was there. He was too preoccupied with examining a blade.

“Hello, Thomas Riversedge,” the woman said, coldly and flatly, in a way that made Aaron seem warm and lovable. “I am Eione Sanddog. You killed my master and–”

“And you want to avenge him, right?” Tom interrupted, his attention still focused on the sword in his hands. “Get in line.”

“No, I–”

“Oh, you want to thank me? Was he a cruel master?” Tom inquired, giving the blade several test swings.

“No, that is not it.”

“What is it, then? Training? You should know that most of my methods are simply skillful execution of common techniques. There is very little I have to teach that won’t come with time or practice.”

“I do not want that either,” the woman said, a slight Rhydann accent coming through. She was from the Nagyb, and Tom knew it.

“Huh,” the warrior muttered, lifting his eyes from his blade and staring at the strangely garbed woman. “Those are the three reasons most people approach me with when they’ve known someone who I’ve defeated in combat. Revenge plots haven’t been successful yet, obviously, and gratitude is always a bit too much. Training? Well, there are better people out there if that’s what you want. But you want none of those things. So, now you’ve got my attention. What do you want?”

“Perhaps some context will help. My former master was Kilroy Fargone.”

“Ah. So, you’re a Deathdealer. I must say, this is the first time I’ve encountered such a high level assassin and they haven’t been trying to kill me.”

“Indeed. Though I doubt I could have succeeded, even if I were. After all, you have survived a number of assaults from my brethren in recent years. Clumsy attempts sometimes, but typically the kind of thing that would work on just about anyone. Your instincts are impressive.”

“Thanks, I think. Anyways, why has a Deathdealer come to me, if not to kill me?”

“I wish to join the Wasserdrachen.”

“You what?” Tom exclaimed in disbelief.

“I wish to join your guild.”

“Why? I mean, I don’t have a personal problem with it, but you must understand how odd that sounds.”

“I am aware of the peculiarity of my request. My reasons are simple. When I belonged to the Deathdealers, I lived in a cutthroat world. Survival was not guaranteed and failure was rarely met with forgiveness. Kilroy himself was a lenient master — too lenient in my opinion — but those he entrusted to run the guild were not so. Thus, to ensure my own survival, I became the perfect assassin. I earned a place at my master’s side, and I served as both his protector and his most valued agent. My survival was assured. Until you slew him on the field of battle. A most honorable death for an assassin, given that assassins are not typically found amongst the soldiers on the battlefield. My master was an odd one. Now that my master is gone, the reins of the guild have been handed over to one of his subordinates until the new leader is chosen. My position is no longer guaranteed, nor is my survival. Thus I have come to you, the one who slew my master and who has survived so many of my brethren, in the hopes of finding a new safe haven. I am prepared to do whatever tasks you ask of me, provided they are of a non-sexual nature.”

“Uh, rest assured, I have no inclination to sleep with an assassin. Or anyone that I’m not married to, for that matter. Survival is what you seek? Well, you should know, the Wasserdrachen are different from the Deathdealers. We are a family, and we defend our own. I’ll give you a chance, but I’m not the only one you have to impress. If you can show us loyalty, bravery, and a commitment to your allies, you’ll fit in just fine. But a betrayal is seen as the highest of crimes. Because of your “special” circumstances, You report to me directly and you report to Aaron if I’m not around. Now, given that we are several days away from the guild, you can start proving yourself now. Accompany me on the journey back. I’m sure you’ll see plenty of action if you do.”