Bannerlord: Tabula Rasa (IC)

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Úlfheðinn

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Bannerlord: Tabula Rasa





It was midday by the time that Captain Dorotheus rode into the city of Sargot. He had been riding for the better part of a week and he did not doubt that he smelled and looked like it. Besides his horse, dirt, mud, and poor weather had been his constant companions on the road from the Jewel of the South, Lycaron. The roads had contained a multitude of travelers, chiefly merchants, peasant farmers heading to nearby cities, and the occasional noble retinue. Fortune had smiled on him and he had managed to avoid any bandits.

The seventh son of a minor noble, Captain Doro had served the Calradic Empire since his youth. He had been a proud Imperial Cataphracts. He had fought and bled for the Empire even as it crumbled around him, even as his King was cut down by treachery. Now Captain Doro was a mercenary and preferred not to dwell on the past. Memories did not contain any profit, only dead men and dead dreams.

Nominally, he remained a loyal subject of the Calradic Empire and Empress Rhagaea , but having been betrayed once by Late Emperor Arenicos, he did not see much of a reason to extend his loyalty to the widow of the doomed emperor. At least not without a sizable payment for past debts and the promise of fresh coin. Honor was not worth much these days.

A man of martial means and long memory, Captain Doro had instead spent some five years serving as a mercenary with the Legion of the Betrayed across Calradia, serving imperial and foreign lords alike. He had left the Legion of the Betrayed on amicable terms. They were loathe to lose a veteran commander and soldier, but the once proud soldiers were mercenaries now. They understood the calling of gold, coin, and a commission. Patrys had simply told him not to die fighting for some foreign lord, least of all some traitorous Vlandian. Captain Doro, of course, had no intentions of dying, at least not until he was old, rich, owned several estates, and presided over a minor harem.

He carried the letter of commission that he had been granted beneath his traveling shirt, wrapped in a roll of thick, waterproofed leather to protect it from the elements. He would need it soon enough.

"By the Power of God and his most holy servant, the Grand Duke Mathurin of the House of Tihr, the holder of this writ is commissioned on this day of the lord XXXX to raise a banner in his name of no more than five hundred men. To be outfitted and lodged at the expense of Free Company Captain, Dorotheus Kourtikios for a time lasting no longer than XXXX or until the danger to the realm has subsided."

Captain Doro had never met the man, although he had fought against him on more than one occasion. Marthurin was said to be an honorable man. The good Duke's representatives had offered him enough coin to silence any lingering doubts that Doro held. Their desperation had been unmistakable. Whoever, the Brotherhood of the Forest were, they were proving to be no small trouble for the Vlandians. Raising an army with war on the horizon would not be easy. However, Captain Doro did not despair. He had a plan. A plan that few nobles would ever think of. He just hoped the jails in Sargot were full enough.

As he entered the city he noted with some concern that the guards did not so much as stop him, merely waving him through the wide open southernmost gate. Tossing a denar to a young child lazed that nearby, Captain Doro spoke in a cloud of dust, "Lead me to lodgings fit for a noble. Clean sheets, edible food, and a supply of ale. Beyond that it matters not. Another denar if you find a stable for my horse and see that she's fed and watered."




This RP will essentially and ideally be the Battle for Tihr 2.0 (legendary forum RP)
Be cool, be nice, don't fight (or I'll start moderating/banning)
Write a character that fits the setting and do some fun/cool/interesting stuff as you explore the world of Bannerlord in a classic play-by-post fashion. Be creative, you can write whoever you want within reason. Write a merchant looking to trade who gets involved in something above their head. Write a surgeon trying to make a living in a world of war. Write a youth just stepping out into the world for the first time. Post a simple character concept (name, age, profession, appearance, brief history) in the out of character (OOC) thread and I'll almost certainly approve it.
As with Battle for Tihr, I'm aiming for low GMing/moderation and ideally I'd love to see some player initiative and cooperation (but I'm also happy to help or provide some sort of push in character if you get suck).
Be reasonable (don't start with a super bad-ass army, unbeatable character, and avoid ever losing. Suffering and failure add to any character, don't just write to win.
Related to the above, if characters or armies are really dumb, I'm gonna step in and offer some feedback (with the goal of reaching a reasonable compromise). I ideally want to see some fun writing between people, not one player writing an army that wrecks everyone and everything so they can feel bad-ass.
Similarly, if you can't resolve something with another player, please send me a PM and I will attempt to moderate your dispute.
 
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Lord Tim

Master Knight
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*thud*

“You’ve got nothing left to give?” Sein asked, while spitting in the man’s bloody face. One of Sein’s knuckleheads pushed the poor farmer to the ground and hit him in the face a second time. “So what are you going to tell Chief Fenagan if he comes collecting taxes? You think he would hesitate one instant to cut your head open?”. The man buried his face into the dirt, ashamed and afraid. “I’m sorry!”, he muttered beneath his tears.

Sein had recently bought a parcel of open land near the village for a very agreeable price from fen Penraic. The young chieftain, Luichan is progressive, and believes a good merchant might put the grounds to better use. The man lying at Sein’s feet was already using the clearing as an area for farming wheats as his family had been doing for years, providing for the village and the fen. When Sein found out, he seized the site immediately and went to rough up the farmer in order to give him whatever the earth had produced there already. It’s one of those moments where Loren would’ve wanted them to stop. Where he would’ve wanted to be heroic and jump in front of his innocent peer, but this was not his place, not his right. There was no realistic thing he could do to prevent what was going to happen next. And Loren knew exactly what that was. Once Sein had gained access to the stored goods, he would claim them all as his own, leaving the farmer penniless and unable to pay the taxes. The Penraic chieftains would’ve gained an acceptable reason to sell him as a galley slave to the Sturgians. Sein would now take his chance to kind-heartedly loan him whatever the landlord would tax. In return, he could now farm the land that his family had been farming for generations, but of course, for Sein’s profit only. And all that Loren could do was stand by and watch it all happen.

Sein dragged Loren along on the way home. His two dogs, mindless muscle bags obeying every order, remained at the farmer’s house, to make sure he wouldn’t run off in the night. Loren was leading Sein’s steed, a handsome Battanian thouroughbred, by the reigns through the forest, as he always does. Sein enjoyed being served. He was pompously and comfortably sitting in the saddle. Looking around like a musician trying to find the crowd. Making sure everyone sees how this fat and always hungry beast just filled its belly and can now return to its lair, satisfied, seemingly unaware that there are only birds and squirrels to watch him for the next half mile or so. Loren enjoyed the forest. He preferred spring over the summer heat, but under the cover of the dense spruce trees the air was cool and fresh. The smell of pinecones and the deafening stillness of the wood calmed his mind. All until the smell of Sein’s greasy shoes, dripping with fat from the boar they ate that afternoon, filled his nostrils, followed by a disturbing slurping noise as Sein placed a flask of mead on his lips. “You’re disgusted by me Loren. You’d pretend it’s not so, but I can see it in your eyes.” “Master, what makes you think that I…” Loren replied innocently, but realised it made no sense to lie when Sein could see right through him. “I just keep hoping the gods won’t punish me for standing by your actions. But it is not my place to say.” Sein grabbed Loren by the shoulder, forcing him to look. “Damn right it’s not! I don’t give a rat’s arse about your long face here on the trail, but once we enter the village, once we’re near people, I can’t have my men visibly doubting my actions.” A drop of mead crawled down his red, untrimmed beard and fell onto Loren’s arm, leaving a stain. At this moment Loren should’ve firmly grabbed the reigns, turned his face forward and marched on. And most of all, he should’ve shut his tongue, but by some inner force he could not control the words that rolled out of his mouth. “Like they don’t know we’re just working for you because you have us all by the balls.” Sein, who had already concluded the conversation in his head and was taking another sip, spit out his mead all over the horse’s fine manes and face, slightly startling it. “What?! I’ll make you resent speaking out to me pig!” He grabbed a sheathed dagger that was attached to the saddle and prepared to hit Loren to the head with the pummel. Loren however, dodged and the pummel slammed into the steed’s neck. The Battanian thoroughbred neighed and reared up forcefully, pulling his reigns from Loren’s hands. It jumped, kicked and rolled over, removing its rider by smashing him against the forest floor, hard, before fleeing into the trees. Loren regained self-control and rushed towards the stranded body of his master. “Master!” he yelled. He observed Sein’s face turning pale. A stream of blood now ran down his beard and followed the same path where earlier a drop of mead had made its way towards Loren’s arm. As Loren looked down he saw a large, sharp branch, red with blood, sticking out of the beasts’ full belly. A gargling sound came from its throat. Loren grabbed Sein by the hair on the back of his head and raised him up. He coughed and a blood clot was catapulted onto Loren’s chest. “Help me, you fool!”.
 

Vovolov

More name changes than Prince
Baron
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Piss wets Owain's breeches as the hangman tightens the noose around his throat. He quivers - terrified of dying - something he didn't think he would be. He feels shame, stood there at the center of the square of Sargot, with the locals looking on to see just another waste of skin being brought to justice. Their sneers and stares cut deeply. He knows they might all have done the same to survive.

To his left hangs a horsethief, stupid enough to have tried taking from some nobleman's stables. Further over hangs another man, guilty of one crime or another severe enough to warrant death. The hangman moves around the side of the platform, where a lever connected to some mechanism will pull open doors below the feet of those who in a few moments will cease to exist.

There are incomprehensible shouts from the mob, but the hate in their voices is palpable. Owain averts his gaze and stares at the sky, tears rolling down his cheeks. He sees birds pass overhead.

With a snap, all goes dark.



Owain wakes with a jolt, sitting instantly straight up on the cold, dank floor. A streak of light reaches into the cell through the barred, small window in the ceiling, the sun tickling his face. Owain places his head in his hands, combing through his greasy hair. He checks – his ragged breeches are dry. The cell might smell of **** and piss, but at least he’s not wet himself.

Down the corridor marching footsteps approach. It’s a prison guard. He rattles the bars with his wooden baton. “Wakey wakey, scumbag. Grub.” He says in a coarse voice, after clearing his throat. The guard slides a bowl of murky liquid under the cell door, along with a piece of mouldy bread. “Don’t understand why we feed you lot, you’ll be dead by the end of the week anyway.” he follows up with. Owain ignores him, keeping his head down. With a grunt, the guard leaves.

Owain stands up, pain shooting through his back, still sore from the beating he received when the Lord’s men caught him. The would-be soup is barely lukewarm, but he slurps some down quickly. A few sad, lonely pieces of vegetable swim on the bottom of the bowl. He reaches for the bread, removing the mould where he can. Mouldy bread isn’t anything new – that’s most of what he could afford to eat lately, anyway. He savours it, dipping it in the salty liquid and eating it with the mushy carrot and onion.

Having eaten, he slides down against one of the cold walls of the cell, and waits.
 

Lord Tim

Master Knight
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Loren tried to carry Sein back to the village, but he was heavy. Every step hit him like an arrow in the gut and he couldn’t stand in any way. He carried him on his shoulder, than the other one. Than he pulled the wounded body behind him like a sleigh through the mud. Then the shoulder again. All the while a messy stick remained firmly inside Sein’s stomach. Removing it might’ve caused him to bleed out. Finally, after what felt like ages of floundering through the forest, even though it couldn’t have been more than half an hour, the first houses started to appear. Voices penetrated Loren’s ear. He gathered his final strength and uttered: “Help! Someone help!”.
People from all around the village rushed to their aid. Loren felt his arms being relieved as two men took over the load. He fell. All the muscles in his body just gave up. He felt his head falling into someone’s hands. Another pushed a jug against his face and he felt water entering his throat and running over his cheeks.








Loren awoke. He fumbled around and felt the straw bed under him. The smell of vegetable soup filled his head. He was at home. Dad’s home. He got up slowly. His arms and shoulders ached. It was dark out. The room was lit by some wax sticks and by the fireplace in the middle, where his stepmom, Teruin, was cooking. She had never been able to replace his real mom. But that’s mostly sentimental. The truth is that she had tried the best she could to take care of her adopted sons. Egon always claimed to feel just like Loren about it, but he was much younger when it all happened. Loren never knew whether he meant it, or just wanted to impress his brother. His dad was sitting at the table, trying to reattach a rusty sickle to its handle after it had come loose. It didn’t use to be like that. Once they were wealthier and then he would’ve just asked one of the merchants to bring a new one if they went to town. But times had changed. Loren groaned as he took some steps away from the bed. His father turned towards him. “Look who’s up.” Loren went to sit at the other side of the table as Teruin served him some soup. He tried stirring it with a wooden spoon, but his hands kept shaking, spilling some on the table. It resulted in him grabbing the bowl with both hands and slurping the mushy substance like that. It tasted a little salty. Wasting wax sticks to light the table and salt to spice up the food… they were pampering him. His father kept staring at him in anticipation. “Where’s Sein?”, Loren asked. His dad sighed. “You roughened up your boss quite bad.” Loren dropped the bowl. “It was an accident. The horse, it panicked…” His father interrupted: “That doesn’t matter. He’s at the healers’ house. They don’t know whether he will live or… pass on. That’s for the gods to decide now. “Loren let the words linger for a while. Then he went back to eating the soup. His dad sighed once more, from deeper within this time, or so it seemed. “Here’s the truth. If you’re not working again before the end of summer. All of us, the people in this house, might starve come winter.” And so the cat was out of the bag. Loren glanced at the bowl before him and then at the soup he had spilled on the table. “I could ask some of the farmers or craftsman if they could use a helping hand.” Llum shaked his head. Another sigh. “No. You’re going to finish your soup. You’re going back to bed. You’ll rest. At first light you’re going to find Sein to see if he’s awake. And you’re getting your job back. You will beg if you have to.”

 

RightQuandary

Recruit
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Alysandir sat slouched at a corner table of a tavern in Sargot, his back to the wall. Elbow on the table and chin resting on his knuckles, his free hand tapped the bone handle of his knife quietly on the table to the rhythm of a lyre. He cast cursory glances around the room at the other inhabitants – men, and a few women, already drinking, singing to the music, playing dice or draughts, and occasionally squabbling – but focused most of his attention on the sensuous undulations of a young woman who danced on a table, bare foot and only partially dressed, reminding him more of the graceful dances of the Aserai than the cruder ones of the Vlandians. On the table in front of him stood a goblet, a half empty pitcher of wine, and a plate with the remains of his lunch. One of the tavern’s ladies of light virtue, more a courtesan than your typical back-street whore, looked over and noticing him, picked up her tankard and strutted over.
‘What a lovely dish you are! Here for some fun?’ the girl asked playfully, plonking herself down on the bench and leaning into him as she reached across for the pitcher.
‘Not today,’ Alysandir answered whilst moving the pitcher out of reach, ‘I’m just passing through.’
‘You haven’t been here before, have you? I’m sure I would remember your face,’ she stated with what he thought was a nice smile.
‘Of course you would,’ he said, looking her over and straightening up as he realised that she looked and held herself well. Better than some of the other women he had solicited, at any rate, ‘Just as I would remember the pleasure of laying eyes on such a beautiful houri.’
Frowning, she asked, ‘A beautiful whorey what?’
‘No,’ he laughed and, as he explained his meaning, he decided to pour some wine for the girl.
‘Thank you! I like this red you have on! Rich like this wine,’ she complimented, lifting her tankard in a mock toast as she ran her other hand over the cloak which covered his shoulders, ‘Where did you get it?’
Pausing only to evaluate the value in answering her, he replied, 'Ortysia.’
‘It’s lovely,' she said and, as her hand roamed more than necessary, asked slightly petulantly, 'Can you get me some, please? Come on! You don't get what you don't ask!’
Although conscious that this was probably part of her job, he was still smitten by her good looks and nature. They continued to sit together and talk, drinking more wine, flirting, and he generally delighted in her presence. And perhaps she did, too. Her name, or at least her alias, was Sophia.
‘Oi, scarlet, you finished with him?’ exclaimed a drunk man from the next table, breaking the spell that had grown between Sophia and Alysandir. The drunkard was sat at the table accompanied by two other similarly drunk men, although they seemed more interested in their game of dice. She had apparently solicited him in the past as she flinched and, suddenly finding a reason to look at the tankard held in front of her, murmured under her breath; ‘Wellaway, it's him again. On time to be early, as usual.’
'What'd you say, whore?!'
With his somewhat wine inebriated temper instantly flared and feeling more reckless than usual, Alysandir stood up, still holding his goblet. ‘You best not call her that again, ey, lad?’
‘The **** are you?!' swore the drunk indignantly.
‘Don’t bother yourself,’ cautioned Sophia to Alysandir, looking up when he had stood.
Ignoring this, Alysandir went around the table and approached the drunk. ‘There are plenty of other places you could frequent. And plenty of other ladies willing to earn a few coin.’
‘Piss off,' and turning to Sophia,' Whore! You deaf? Come and sit with me! You don’t need this prick, when mine-’
‘I’m not going anywhere 'til you stop calling her names, laddie. It's too early in the day for you to be upsetting women.’
‘I told you to **** off, why are you still here?’ the man said, finally provoked into standing up. Alysandir glanced towards the man's two friends to make sure they were not about to join in. They did glance upwards but were soon engrossed in their game again. Alysandir was older, not as tall, nor as broad as the man in question, but he was slightly more sober and raring for a fight. He thought the knife might have been too fiddly in his current state, but that he could possibly take out the standing man and one of the others with a goblet-assisted blow before the third could even stand up. Unfortunately;
'What the **** is going on here?!' a souteneur shouted, three of whom were rushing over from their place at the counter.
 

Kalnia

Sergeant Knight at Arms
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“Smell that?” Johnan breathed in deeply, the smile of a traveller coming to well-earned rest spreading across his grubby face. The road this close to Sargot was busy enough, with the usual hubub of travellers and peasant-farmers going to and fro, though they were far enough out for the traffic to be light and unworried. The skies were blue, wisps of clouds making their way inland from the not-so-far-off ocean, so that Johnan could almost smell the sea air. Impossible as the coast was easily two or three horizons away near rich Charas or merry Jaculan, but the smith still fancied that he could hear the gulls. Days like this were a joy to travel and they had made good time, even slowed with the rickety old wagon Johnan currently steered down the road.

“Smells like every other teneg orda we've passed so far.” Came the reply from the man that rode beside the cart. His posture was perfect, not in the parade ground fashion favoured by Imperial Cataphracti or Vlandian horsemen, but as one who'd been born to the saddle and then spent the next three decades atop one. Khurayl was the picture of a Khergit Khuzait; blunt features, sharp eyes and a lithe frame weathered hard by parched summers and steppe winters.

The stocky Imperial chuckled at the curt response and flicked the reigns to keep the small cart moving. If he had stood from the carts driving bench, he would have stood almost a head taller than his companion, and no small amount broader. Whereas the nomad atop his horse wore deel and lamellar, bow and sabre, the smith sat unarmed and comfortable in simple shirt and trousers, sleeves rolled up and head bare to enjoy the warm breeze. In short, they made an odd pair and fair contrast as the town walls came into view.


“Now, if we were two good looking and talented sellswords, where would we find work in this delightful town, you think?” Johnan spoke to himself, twiddling the whiskers of a long bristly moustache thoughtfully.


Khurayl smiled lightly and shook his head, the action momentarily lightening the grim visage cast by the scars that marred the left of his face. “I don't know who these two daichin of who you speak are, but there are worst places to start than a tavern...”
 

A_Mustang

Baron
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The courtyard of the keep in Sargot and the seat of power of the Vlandian King, Derthert, was small and cramped, fitting only a stable for the noble lords of the land, along with a small training yard. Two dozen men from the garrison watched, gambled and hooted as a fit sergeant and a well equipped knight of the garrison sparred, swords dancing and flashing with strike, parry, counter-strike and evasion. Despite being fully armored in maille, and plates in the knight’s case, they moved easily, with skilled darting motions as the ebb and flow of the match went one way or the other.

Despite the obvious distraction of the two elite troops, who occupied the focus of the men around, they were not the only troops practicing. Another Sergeant in the background had a set of young lads practices with pikes, and a number of troops spared with wooden blades in the background.

Among the background troops in the back were a pair of leather armored men, one just entering the age of adulthood and another a scarred veteran, but still young. Despite their lighter armor and weapons, they moved through stiff practiced motions, the clack of blade and re-post measured and calculating, rather than natural and second nature. The younger wielded a practice sword meant for mounted combat, unwieldy compared to the lighter arming sword of his compatriot. His companion was heavier, but just as fast, and used his strength to force himself close, and exploited the advantage of having a more handy blade. Again and again, the older warrior closed the gap and scored a death-stroke, but each time took longer, and few more tricks in his book.

Finally, as the sparring sergeant overcame his opponent, with the roar of a dozen excited soldiers, the younger of the two Vlandians turned the tables, meeting and counter-matching the veteran’s rush. Surprised, and with the younger squire stepping on his foot over-balance the older warrior, the larger man fell backwards, and found the youth’s practice sword at his throat.

“Enough, Keith! Well done.” Grunted the veteran.

“Ha!” Chucked the young squire, proffering a hand to the downed trooper. “I knew it was only a matter of time. Fallen in your own trap, methinks.”

The veteran snorted. “Aye. It only took a dozen bouts for you to best me. One out of those isn't bad, really.”

The youth punched the veteran in the shoulder playfully. “By my count the score is two to three. You scored thrice in a roll, aye, but that is still even enough. Another bout, Ekrick?”

The light cavalryman looked at the sky. Cloudy and almost overcast, through the gaps he could tell the sun had passed its zenith. He shook his head. “Jorumther will be expecting us at the Prancing Palfrey by now. Garrison life, even though that’s what your father pays for, can’t last forever.” Keith sighed, grabbing the wooden practice blades and returning them to their racks, and retrieving their steel swords in the process. “I suppose. Wouldn't mind a beer or two to finish the day.”

Strapping the swords to their belts, the pair made their way out of the courtyard, and wandered down to the traven.

Jorumther and his old friend Adael sat at their table, mailed and armed, although their helms dangled from their belts and not their heads. They had left the large pavis shield and their deadly siege crossbows upstairs. The pair nursed tankards of ale, idly watching as a southerner chatting up a tavern wench engaged in a potential escalating fight. As it potentially evolved into something dangerous, some of the traven’s crew started to deal with it, and the rest of Jorumther’s band wandered in.

Six men entered the traven, of which three were in the old boar sergeant's employ. Two of them, the twins, chattered, wheeled, dealed and argued with their local counterparts, thugs working for one of the local gangs. In the back, Neils fiddled uncomfortable with his siege crossbow, steel tip of his bolt almost poking the terrified thug’s gut.

The group broke apart after a minute of argument in the foyer, the trio of boar novices leaving the thugs to do their business with the owner of the prancing palfrey. They returned to their sergeant, money passing hands quickly. The week’s pay, the sergeant’s cut of their illicit dealing, money for more beer. The twins didn’t stay long, however, quickly being pulled away to start a rigged game of dice, while Neils paranoidly watched the entrance of the tavern.

“How much longer do you think we’ll stay in Sargot?” Adael wondered mildly. “I have no objections to staying here and drawing garrison pay, but this isn’t earning Keith a household which we can look for retirement in.”

“We’ll see.” Grunted Jorumther. “We’re too small to go it alone, not unless we want to draw a posse of locals. Maybe one of the lords is looking for a lance of sellswords for an upcoming campaign. Either way, we’ll have to get the boy onboard first. He was supposed to be here by now anyways.”

Even as the sergeant finished speaking, the pair of horsemen, Ekrick and Keith entered to treaven, quickly finding their way to their table.
 
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Úlfheðinn

Section Moderator
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"You stand before the honorable tribunal of Sargot, acting with the blessing of King Derthert dey Meroc."

"Thank you bailiff. Captain...Doro was it? What brings you before our esteemed court."

Offering only the most acceptable of nods, Captain Doro spoke without hesitation,"Prisoners, your grace. I require prisoners."

"P-prisoners?" One of the judges stuttered, more out of irritation than surprise.

"Yes, I need the prisoners that you have in your jail."

"What?"

"Not all of them, of course. Just the ones that can still fight."

"What use do you have for prisoners?"

"Trouble to the East, the Brotherhood of the Forest, as your people call them. I need soldiers if I'm to fight a war."

"We could perhaps allow you to take a number of those convicted of lesser offenses."

"No, I need more men than that. I need men that can fight. It doesn't matter what they've done, so long as they can follow orders."

"That's preposterous. Some of the men in those jails have been condemned to death. You can't expect us to release such villains."

"I can. A man who knows that the only alternative to enlistment is the executioner's rope or ax makes an ideal soldier. Such a man has already faced his own death. He is less likely to run in battle. He makes a most motivated soldier."

"Captain Doro, this tribunal will waste no further time on such foolish notions."

"Ah well, I had to make an attempt. Unfortunate, my employer will be most displeased. I'll have to tell him that aid from Sargot was wanting."

"What was that?"

"Oh, I was simply considering how best to tell my employer, Count Aldric dey Tihr that you had no interest in dealing with bandits that threaten your forests. I suspect he will be very unhappy to hear such dismal words."

Shrugging his shoulders, Captain Doro offered a short bow of his head, turned, and then began to walk slowly towards the grand door that lead to the chambers of the tribunal.

"Wait! Wait! Captain Doro, please wait!"

"Certainly."

"We would of course require proof that you are who you say you are and have been tasked with the task that you claim you have been given by Count Aldric dey Tihr."

"Of course, your grace, I would expect no less," Captain Doro replied with a disarming smile as he pulled the letter of commission from beneath his coat. "Will a letter, signed and sealed by the man himself, suffice?"




The prisoners stood assembled in the courtyard of the ominous stone structure that had over long, centuries shifted from a fortress to the gloomy prison of Sargot. Still bound in shackles and chains, they were a pitiful lot and precious few seemed to have the making of proper soldiers, but Captain Doro could sense some potential in the wretches arrayed in front of him.

The armed guards that surrounded the prisoners did little to hide the disdain they felt towards their charges and the mailed stranger standing in front of them. Captain Doro would have had it no other way. He held no great love for jails and jailers having long since learned how little the justice of kings and queens was worth.

Removing the heavy helmet that he wore, Captain Doro scratched his beard lazily, finding little discomfort in lengthy silences. Studying the prisoners more closely he carefully considered his words. It was hard to convince a man to die for his kingdom. It was easier to convince a man to die for gold. And it was easier still to convince a man to die fighting for his own freedom. But he needed the right men, the right man. Men who could be trusted. Men who could learn. Men who could die for the company if it came to it.

"Gentleman, I am Captain Doro," Captain Doro began, his voice booming across the courtyard. "I have been commissioned by Count Aldric dey Tihr to raise and lead an mercenary company to face the bandits, the so-called Brotherhood of the Forest that threatens these lands. I have come here to offer you a chance to participate in a great adventure. I have come to offer freedom to those of you that can still fight. I have come to offer you a chance to escape this prison and the sad fate that your superiors would force upon you. I have come to offer you a new life."

The mercenary captain paused to offer a broad smile, taking a slow sip from the waterskin he carried. Though he had the air of an officer and did little to hide his southern dialect and noble upbringing, there was something distinctly military about the way Captain Doro spoke. Bravado and charisma kept pace with the seriousness of his eyes. His words were to the point. He spoke in the honest way of a soldier, with little time the niceties of polite society.

"I do not care who you are. I am not interested in what crimes you have been convicted of. My only concern is your willingness and ability to fight. Follow my orders, fight bravely, and you will secure your freedom. However, listen well, disobey, threaten the great cause I have been tasked with, or attempt to flee and I will cut you down myself. I have no time for amateur soldiers hellbent on looting and I will not risk my company for the life of a coward."

"I can offer no assurances about your fate should you join me. The risks of any battle do not permit such naive hopes. However, all death is certain and choosing to remain here will not save you. Not for long at least. And while I cannot promise that you will survive this campaign, I will provide ample compensation for any man grievously wounded in pursuit of our noble mission. Further, I have no intention of risking my life or those of anyone under my command unless it is necessary, a dead mercenary cannot collect pay after all. I am here to earn fame and coin, not to die on some rustic battle, fighting starving bandits in a forest."

"If you still desire denars, fresh food, pretty women, and wine that is properly chilled then speak to my sergeant here, the right and honorable Sergeant Gallus, and you will be released posthaste into my supervision. And if not, ah well, dying in a prison bed is still something, eh?" The aforementioned sergeant, seated at a simple table that had been brought out, simply nodded at the heavy ledger that lay in front of him.

With a shrug of his shoulders, Captain Doro refastened his helmet, "Those of you that chose to join me, well, I'll see you in some tavern or other. Just ask for Captain Doro and you'll find me soon enough. Your first drink is on me, from one soldier to another."
 

RightQuandary

Recruit
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‘Nothing is going to happen,’ interjected Sophia, standing up to pull Alysandir back to the table. Some of the other patrons nearby had turned to look, the drunk man’s friends being two of them.
Alysandir for his own part turned to place his goblet back on the table but, in that moment, the drunk man started forward. Reacting instinctively, whether rightly or wrongly, Alysandir spun round and flung the goblet at the man's face, using the distraction to rapidly cover the distance and shove the man back onto his bench. If it were glass it might have smashed and blinded him, but instead the pewter hit with a comical thunk and wine splashed over his face. Swearing, the man got back up and lashed out with a punch aimed at Alysandir’s head. It was a terrible attempt which all Alysandir needed to do to avoid was step backwards, parrying with his forearm. Overcommitted, the man drunkenly toppled forwards under his own weight and fell head-first into the table. A few people gasped and several others laughed.
‘Bugger,’ Alysandir muttered as the souteneurs, bade by Sophia, rushed forwards to keep the two friends, who were expressing their displeasure, in their seats.
After checking to see whether the man was still conscious and whether or not he had some weapon hidden away, Alysandir picked up the disoriented drunk and sat him back down. Seeing him dazed and glum made Alysandir decide, in order to make an amends for what he now thought was a bit of an overreaction, to buy the man and his two friends another pitcher of ale.
After humbling himself somewhat, Alysandir felt Sophia’s hands clasp his hand and pull him round, ‘Come, finish this pitcher with me.’
‘Right. Sorry, about that. How are you?’ Alysandir asked, following as she led him to a table further away.
'Fine. There was no need to do that, I've had much worse,' with a slight smile and, offering the knife bone-handle first, 'Here. Lucky you didn't use it or they'd raise hue and cry.'
By this time, the nearby patrons of the tavern had realised there wasn’t going to be a brawl and had already returned to drinking and playing. However, noticing the occasional glare he decided that he had attracted too much attention so for the time being, unless something else happened, he'd keep his head down, finish his drink, and possibly some business with Sophia, before making himself scarce.
 

Lord Tim

Master Knight
M&BWBWF&SNW
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Loren strolled along the village pathways as the sun gradually lit up the roofs and trees. Most folks were still asleep, but some early awakeners were already strapping their boots for another day of hard labour. His pace was slow and hesitant, reluctant even. But his dad couldn’t have been clearer. Loren had to get his job back with Sein, or starve come winter. He approached the village healer’s house and was struck by silence. The kind that overwhelms the forests shortly before a storm. The stillness that is only interrupted by the howling of the wind, rustling leaves or startled critters. He noticed torch light coming from one of the windows. An incomprehensible murmuring of multiple voices. Loren slinked towards the house, one of the larger in the village, and leaned in to eavesdrop. “Is he… dead?” One of the voice asked, uncertainly. “It’s done .”The reply came from an older, rougher voice. “We did it brother. We’ve finally gotten rid of the old pig.” A third voice entered the conversation. The first voice turned towards the murderer again. “Won’t the healer expect something? Yesterday he said he was getting better.” The man grouched. “He would’ve, but I made sure he won’t say a thing after I placed my dirk against his wife’s throat.” The third voice shrugged. The rough one continued. “There is one more obstacle though. People will accuse the man who was with him for his death.” A moment of silence followed. “Tradition requires the deceased’s family to take revenge. It’ll have to be one of us then, it can’t be you, Muirkin. Who needs to die?” The first voice concluded. “A young fellow master Sein recently employed. Llum’s son.” Loren could hear the brothers walking towards each other. In the shadows cast by the burning torch that Muirkin was presumably holding, he could see the silhouettes of a man grabbing another by the shoulders. Not in an aggressive, but in a brotherly, caring way. “It should be you Beric. You’re the oldest son, you must revenge our father by cutting down that son of Llum.” Beric was shaken and stuttered: “I’m not sure if I can, Toric.” Toric’s silhouette opened its hand towards Muirkin who placed his sword in it. Toric then pressed it against Beric’s chest, urging him to hold onto it. “You can, big brother. Take some of our men and go drag him from his bed before he finds out his former employer died.”

Loren slowly stepped away from the window and sprinted home. He raced past the workers now steadily walking towards their daily workplaces, who barely caught the scent of Loren’s sweat as he disappeared in between the huts and shacks of Glintor. He shoved the door of his father’s house open, startling his sleeping family. “We have to go!” Loren panted. Llum raised his still tired eyebrows in disbelief. Loren straightened his back and started packing some food, a knife and a woven blanket in large bag. “Sein is dead. His sons are coming to take revenge as is tradition.” His dad and stepmom jumped up. Llum closed the front door and walked towards one of the few windows in his house. He slightly opened the shutter to have a peak. “It’s too late.”, he whispered. “They’re here. But they’ll want you, not me.” For a brief moment the family of three stood petrified, staring at each other, letting the reality sink in. They were immediately reanimated when five loud knocks made the door shiver. “Go out the back!”, Teruin cried. Loren ran as she held the door open for him. He glanced at his dad once more. Their eyes met for an instance. Behind him, the shutter was forcefully pulled open from the outside. “He’s escaping!” A large man brutally kicked the front door in. Loren turned to run and Teruin quickly pushed the bag with essentials in his hands. Loren ran over his dad’s wheat field towards the treeline, as fast as his legs could carry him, without even looking back once at his home. He had left once before, but now his chances of ever returning were slim. He could hear footsteps behind him. He could hear the weaponry of his pursuers clap against their leather trousers as they ran after him. They were strong and many, but Loren was in good shape and carried less weight. He had already been running for what seemed multiple minutes before he even dared to stop, catch some breath and look behind him. He could still see the armed men advancing through the trees and it would only be a matter of time before they could catch up with him. Loren was tired of running, but continued anyway at a slower pace. He was thinking of ways to escape. He could climb a tree and hide, or bury himself with dirt and moss. No matter what he came up with, the risk of being found, he felt, was too great. So he just kept on running. The footsteps behind him returned and kept getting louder. “There he is!”, one of them shouted. A throwing axe buzzed past his head and planted itself deep inside a tree. “This is the end”, Loren thought to himself. Gathering his last strength and willpower he thrusted his body forwards to slightly increase the gap between himself and his pursuers before finally giving up. He stopped, grabbed the knife from his bag and prepared to fight. That’s when he heard it.

*neigh*

Loren stooped down and gazed through the forest. And then he saw it. Grazing between ferns and bushes stood a large, dark brown horse. A Battanian thoroughbred. A beautiful steed, still saddled, barely 30 feet away. “Sein’s horse!”, Loren excitedly uttered. “I’ve got him!”, the reply equally came from some 30 feet behind him. Loren jumped up and ran towards the horse. It scared for a moment, but then looked Loren right in the eyes and remained still. Almost as if it wanted him to jump in the saddle. Loren grabbed the reigns. He flung his leg over the saddle and placed himself on the blood-stained leather saddle that had been Sein’s last throne. Without even having to probe it, the horse leaped forward, past Loren’s would-be abductors and disappeared into the forest.
 
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Kalnia

Sergeant Knight at Arms
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“Oh be quiet, you old nag. I'll get you something to eat once we're settled.” Johnan chuckled, scratching behind the ears of his mare as he undid her well-worn harness from the small wagon she pulled. The beast snorted in response, knowing full well of the apples her owner kept beside his tools in the cart behind her. She was no Vlangian charger or Imperial war mount, Johnan smiled as he stored the tack, but he appreciated the honest labour she could put into a day. The smith tied her to a post and, ducking his head into the covered back of the wagon to checked his tools, bellows and forge were still in situ, jumped down with a satisfied nod and locked up. In his line of work, a man's tools were his life, and should treated with an equal amount of respect.

Khurahl shook his head and dismounted with a fair bit more grace than his companion, the scales of his lamellar clinking lightly as he hit the cobbles. The Khergit tied his gelding up to the courtyard wall and ran deft hands down it's dapple grey legs to check for sprains and lift the hooves. It would not do for some stray nail or broken glass to cripple an animal he loved as others might love a child.

Content that their beasts were happy, both men strode across the courtyard and entered the tavern without fanfare. They had made their way to one of the larger alehouses, the large stables giving away that sellswords and travellers common patrons, whilst a few stacked shields outside suggested frequent use by the local garrison. Such am establishment would be an excellent place to hear of both news and work about the surrounding countryside, even if the bastards would likely charge above what any honest man should pay for a drink.

Khurahl entered first and quietly; his face, foreign as it was in these lands, often caused enough trouble before he opened his mouth. Not that his own people were welcoming of outsiders, he mused. The nomad found a somewhat quiet table, sheltered from the worst of the hubub, whilst the red-bearded smith shouldered his way through the busy taproom. This time in the evening, after a day of hard work and a week of cerulean blue skies, the tavern was pulling in good trade. How these gadny-khün could breathe with so many around them, jostling, shouting, moving, spilling ale and breathing pipesmoke... Khurahl would never understand. He swept his gaze over the laughter, drink and dice and could feel that ever-familiar yearning for wide open spaces and the endless blue sky above.

The horseman was brought back from his grand cultural criticism by two earthen mugs being set upon the table, cider spilling lightly from their rims, and Johnan grinning at him from across the table.

“Word from the proprietor.” The stocky Imperial took a hearty drink, then leant across the table so as not to shout over the din of a busy tavern. ”There's someone important moving about the city, looking for fighting men. Not sure what for yet, but sounds a like a funded endeavour and this early in the campaign season? Could be a good contract.”

Khurahl tapped his fingers against the wooden table, examining his thoughts for a long moment, before shrugging and reaching for his drink. Wherever they ended up, he was almost sure it couldn't smell any worse than the bilge he was currently in.
 

Úlfheðinn

Section Moderator
WB
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The men that walked into the Prancing Palfrey were no banner bearing soldiers. They were armed, armored, and walked with the gait of fighting men, but the rough air about them spoke of a most mercenary inclination. Bringing up the rear of the small group, Captain Doro stood a good head above the next tallest man.

Captain Doro was confident that Sergeant Gallus could handle the recruits at the prison, see them cleaned up, armed, and sent in the right direction. Any man that could stand up to a charging host of Vlandian cavalrymen could be counted on to face any danger. Appearances had to be maintained and decorum had to be followed, a mercenary captain did not spend more time than he needed in a prison. He had places to be, sweet wine to drink, and still more soldiers to recruit.

Taking a seat at an empty table, the mercenary captain gestured towards the nearest serving wench, "Drinks, ale and wine, enough to satisfy our twice our number. I'm expecting some late arrivals. Oh, and tell the barkeep to send any fighting men my way. I'm looking to hire and I've still got coin to spare."

Waiting for the promised alcohol to arrive, an Imperial soldier, a grizzled veteran by the name of Callistus, offered a smile before he spoke, "Much obliged, Captain. Now, what's this trouble you mentioned."

A bloodied veteran of the Imperial Civil War, he was a man aged beyond his years by scars and a nose that had been broken more times than Captain Doro could guess. By all rights, he should have been the enemy. Callistus had spent most of his career fighting for Garios Comno, he hated followers of the Empress almost as much as he hated those poor, miserable souls who believed that power belonged to Senator Lucon. He hated officers. He hated nobles. But he had the all the marks of a good soldier and Captain Doro had decided that he liked the man.

"Bandits," Captain Doro began, carefully placing his heavy helmet on the table in front of him and removing his mail gloves. "It's always bandits isn't it? Well, when it's not another war. The Brotherhood of the Woods is what they call themselves..."
 

A_Mustang

Baron
WBM&BVC
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As Kieth and Erick sat down, Jorumther turned to a waitress and roared, the battlefield bark of skilled sergeant rattling cups and drink, suppressing the chatter of the tavern as he asked. “Adeline, two pitchers of cold beer for us and the young Kieth here.” The moment of the sergeant's words died down, the usual chatter of the tavern resumed.

Awkwardly, in the sudden but disappearing silence, the youth and his minder took their place on the bench, backs to the door. Niels, the paranoid novice, stood with his siege crossbow in hand, and trotted to the sergeants side, watching both his back and the door to the tavern. Adael and Jorumther, for their part, finished the contents of their mugs, greeting the cavalrymen with grumbles. A moment later, a pretty blonde walked up carrying a pair of cold, top-sealed pitchers and a few more mugs, dropping it all at the table with a grumble. Adeal thanked the lass, popped the seal on one of the pitchers, and poured into the five glasses.

Keith smiled as he was passed his mug, drinking deep to quench the thirst of the training yards. With a relaxed sigh, he leaned, forward, and saw he only had about a third of his mug, just poured, remaining. Silently, resolving himself to be more restrained in the future, he took another sip of the brown ale, then asked the old sergeant. “How are the lads?”

Jorumther snorted, pointing to the dice games that the twins were involved in, with one of their friends in the local criminal enterprises. Five men were clustered around the table. Three he recognized, Flocke, Locke and a mutual friend. “Do you really have to ask? Garrison is only good for getting them bored and in trouble. They’ll keep for a few more weeks, hopefully, or either piss off the city guard or their erstwhile friends so much we’ll have to move. Got any leads on where we would be moving too?”

Keith sighed. “King Derthert is still in the field, and will be so for the next few weeks according to the higher barracks gossip. Safe to say that enlisting in his majesty's party will be off the table for now. As much as I would like buttering up to his lordship and earning solid coin, I think we might want to look at the other options.”

Jorumther groaned. “I do not want to start drilling a bunch of pissant peasants. I mean, I can, but drilling is a pain in the ass. Wiping some boys soft from garrison duty back into shape is one thing, but taking a posse of peasants and wiping them into a good mob takes seasons, and not only do we not have enough coin to arm and feed the assholes, I don’t have the patience. Plus, the whole point of this expedition was to springboard you to a lordship, not just attempt to grind it out. That would takes years of good fortune, never mind the fact all it would takes is one unlucky bolt to **** us all.”

Neils grunted, jerking his head to the entrance. Jorumther glanced up from his beer. A pair of men, foreigners, entered the Palfery quietly and unobtrusively. Alas for their silence, a single glance at them put the three men of the Golden Boar at the table on their guard. What business did a Khuzait have here in the west? The gaze of the three clued in Ekrick, who, in good sense, did not bother to look himself. “Problem?” The light cavalryman asked lightly.

“We’ll see.” Muttered Adael darkly.

For his part, Jorumther examined the easterner for a second, before shaking his head. “Sellsword, methinks. Neils, keep an eye on him. No, crossbow down, dumb-ass, eyes, not bolts. Just in-case he starts trouble.”

“What are we all looking at?” Asked Keith, his youth on full display.

As Adeal refilled the mugs at the table, and then finished the first pitcher of beer himself, the old sergeant deliberately pointed out the eastern horseman. “That’s a Khuzait, over there. Take a good look. Best light horse, scouts and horse archers in the known world. You would do well to keep a few in your employ once you have a company of your own, lad.” A moment passed, and, as Keith continued to stare, and then Jorumther cuffed the squire lightly. “I said a look, gods-damned-it, let the man have his business. He has as many rights as the rest of the scum in this joint.”

A silence descended for a moment on the table, admid the hubbub. Neils was busy obsessively categorizing everyone and everything in the room and how they could betray him. Ekrick and Adeal both didn't want to come between their sergeant and employer respectively. The old sergeant winced internally at the fact he just hit his noble, and hated class. The young lad, himself, nominally in command of everyone at the table and paying their wages, used what he considered common sense and deferred to the old trooper, asking, in his naivety, what everyone else considered a loaded question.

"Should we hire him? Or fold him into our lance, I guess?”

The old sergeant sighed at a bolt dodged, and settled the issue before it could make Niels murder someone. “Not him, specifically. When you have a company. Let's work on that first then?”

Keith nodded, grabbing his refilled mug and drinking a solid quarter of it. “A company. A dozen lances. Scouts, flank-guards and a baggage train….” He trailed off and then jerked, as an epiphany hit him. “We’re gonna have to sell our swords for a while, aren't we? To lay a foundation?"

Jorumther sighed, a tired smile on his lips. “Sell-swording is the best option. You need experience, not only in combat, but campaign and leading. I know you’ve been on campaign with Count Aldric, but you’ve been on the field as a page and barely a squire. I’m” he paused for a moment, then leaned forward as if he was to share a secret. “Going to say something dirty. Are you ready?” The people around the table bowed, winces as they sniffed out the heresy that was about to come out of their sergeant's mouth. Keith nodded. “Logistics.” Everyone else besides the pair groaned. They swore under their breath, they whined, they wanted to ignore the emperor's elephant in the room. There were plenty of reasons why they followed the sergeant, only half being because he was the most experienced fighter in the group. He always found a place to sleep that was dry (relatively), never missed a wage-day, and always had a meal at the end of the day.

The old man refilled the youth’s mug, topping it for the third time today. “I’ve talked about this before. Lay the foundation, make friends. Find guild leaders and troop leaders. There are a few big mercenary companies here and there, like the Golden Boar, but affiliating with one of those will stain your honor. A quiet affiliation won't hurt.”

The young lad sighed, feeling himself being dragged to a path not of his own choosing. “I’ve heard…” there was that pause, not quiet because they were in a tavern, but a pause from everyone none the less. “A mercenary captain is in town. One of good skill and reputation.”

Adeal shrugged dispassionately. “Captain Dorotheus? That Imperial wizbag? Another Calradic horse commander trying to fill his ranks with young Vlandian cavalry, yes?”

Erick stiffened, and Jorumther raised is eyebrow. “Is there more to the story?”

Keith nodded. “Word is that he is now a company of troops, under oath to our king, Derthert. More importantly, by the grace of Sir Mathurin, he is oath-sworn to Adric dey Tihr, to raise a company of no more then five hundred swords.”

Another pause.

Jorumther, boggled, spoke. “Five hundred swords? Twice the king’s men? With hangers and mules, that’s a village on the move. How?”

Ekrick shook his head. “Not under arms, but allowed. He’s looking for troops in Sargot now-”

Neils, tapped Jorumther’s shoulder and pointed. This time, at the tromp of maille and kit, like the rest of the tavern, the table of five turned.

“Speak of the devil” whispered Adeal.

Neils twiched, and he cocked his crossbow. The heavy bolt was locked and ready, the same promise of murder that was on the battlefield. Jorumther swore loudly. “Calm down. Coincidences. This is a bar. Even the nobles need a drink.” The mercenary band settled down at a table, beginning to talk, while being stared at by Jorumther’s table. Neils, twitched, turned, but did not unload his crossbow. Joumther motioned, and the newcomers were served by Adeline, who was carefully listening into the conversation…

Leave it to the twins to spoil a good thing.

To be fair, cheating at dice was bound to start a knife-fight sometime. Murphy, however, leveled a law, and it demanded that violence happened now.

By the time Keith had turned, all he saw and heard was screaming violence, even as his mind caught up with Niels having fired his siege crossbow and his hand went to his sword.

A second ago, five men had been playing dice. Flocke, Locke, one of the local thugs, and a pair of caravan riders. Now, the local thug was busy scrabbing at his throat, blood pouring like a fountain. Flocke and Locke were pinned under the table, the second of the two dragging out his seax, while his brother Flocke sucked up a number of punches to the face, desperately attempting to fend off the knife of the caravan man attempting to stab him. A single, desperate, bowel clenching word issued from his lips. “Woodlander!”

The fifth man was dead. Niel’s bolt had pinned the Woodsman to a support beam, his body rolling relaxed around the nailed skull. The woodlander’s mouth rolling open in confusion, as the man’s body began to recoil itself with death.

That left Keith still getting to his feet and drawing his sword when sergeant Jorumther reminded the lance of the other half of the reason he was a Sergeant. Not just logistics. Violence.

The caravan guard looked up at the shadow, and caught the hammer end of the war pick in the jaw. It would have been beautiful if not the arse-clenching sound and sight of two dozen teeth being removed from the man and being nailed to the ceiling, support pillar and wall of the tavern.

The scream was inhuman.

The third woodsman, charging with blade thrusting, caught his breath when the spiked tip of the fighting pick found its way into his windpipe. He steadied himself, trying to breathe again, and caught the bloodied point in the side of his temple. His corpse flopped languidly at the foot of his nailed brother.

As Keith took his second step towards his deadly Sergeant, attempting to reconcile the reality of it all, the screaming started.

“Silence!” The sergeant roared, and the screaming cut off as it began. He looked around, took a breath, and declared. “The local bandits showed their hand.” He hefted his blooded pick. “This is the rule of law. They tried to cheat the law, and they tried to steal from us. This is their fate. Look, and remember, lest you share theirs.” He turned to the young Keith, who kept his blade locked to his leg. “Sir, I have taken a prisoner.”

There was a moment of terror for Keith. The bloody sergeant locked eyes with him. Flocke and Locke had wiggled themselves free. He opened his mouth and gaped.

Erick spoke. “By your leave, sir, I’ll take Flocke and secure him.”

Relief flooded the squire, and he found himself working again. He pointed to the crying, toothless man. “Erick, Flocke, I want this man examined.” Keith stopped and emphasized for everyone. “Under my protection, dey Tihr, understand?”

Erick twitched, and nodded. “Aye, sir.”
 
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RightQuandary

Recruit
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Alysandir, with Sophia now sitting on his lap, was drinking from the tankard she held to his mouth and was tipping for him. Both he and Sophia overheard one of the new arrivals, their backs to him, talking about hiring fighting men. Now, a man has to live and pay for bread and board, and, despite all the money he had saved prior to his sacking, the road from Pravend had taken its toll on Ali's coin purse. Depending on the direction the man and his volunteers would be travelling, Ali thought that he could perhaps take advantage of the protection a group of armed men would provide, especially with all the conflict going on.
Noticing Ali frowning, Sophia queried softly, 'Are you interested? You seem like you're a man able to fight.'
'Well...yes, I have fought.'
'But not with any masterless men, I'll be bound,' Sophia said referring to those that were beyond the law.
'No, I was a soldier myself,' he replied.
'Pendraic?'
'Yes, I was there.' Alysandir remembered the thundering hooves, arrows falling, spear-thrusts and sword-clashes, blood-bespeckled and shattered shields, men shouting and crying, and the black blood gushing from dying mouths, 'It was quite an affair.'
He had seen much the past few years - wrecked cadavers did not shock him much anymore - but there was always something about the actual event around the ending of a life that was jarring to the soul. Especially if things had seemed so cheerful only moments before. Much as that which broke Alysandir from his reverie.
 

Kalnia

Sergeant Knight at Arms
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There were always a couple that stared. The dangerous ones only glanced, whilst the young ones stared like moonstruck calves. That moonstruck calf, however, had an indecently large crossbow just a trigger twitch away from going off. Khurahl passed his gaze over the staring group briefly, before shifting around the table so that a group of dice players sat more directly between himself and the crossbow. The nomad has seen such designs punch through and buckle lamellar like birch bark, and had no interest in getting shot due to some paranoid child sneezing.

Johnan has noticed his friend shift slightly and cast his eyes over his mug in the direction. He wasn't as quick to pick up danger as the Khergit, he'd been raised in a comfortable family and never been forced to take the battlefield often, but even so a loaded crossbow in a tavern was a statement unto itself. The smith was about to say something, when sunlight poured in through the smoky taproom and the sound of maile and heavy boots made themselves known. Johnan turned about in his seat to get a good look at the new group and grinned broadly, wiping the cider from his long moustache.

“Well slap me with canvas and call me a longship, they look like the boys in question. You get the next round in and I'll...” The redbearded smith didn't get a chance to finish as he got hauled down hard, Khurahl's grip pulling him down by the collar as the tribesman flipped the table up. The nomad had been keeping his gaze, eyes that could spot a marmot in the grass at gallop, on the crossbow stripling and his more dangerous looking companions. When the game of dice had gone south, it had been a sensible guess by the reactions and gazes that two or three of it's players belonged to the dangerous group in the corner, and Khurahl was moving as the violence erupted.
The speed that practised men could come to violence was often shocking, but coming from a place where riders could whip out of the night and take everything you'd ever worked from made for a natural response. As the heavy thunk of the crossbow and ensuring screaming began, Johnan was scrabbling onto his knees behind the makshift barricade of the table and Khurahl had an arrow in his hand and one on the string of his bow. In a single brisk movement, he'd risen to one knee with the bow up, a halfdrawn bodkin pointing through the swiftly concluded melee that had been the dice game.

“Silence!” The sergeant roared, and the screaming cut off as it began. The arrow quivered for a moment, as able to pick a spot on the man as Khurahl could breath, before it was lowered and removed from the bow. The sergeant clearly had the reigns of the situation, and had cowed the rest of the tavern from any more mischief. The nomad looked down at his slower friend, who'd just regained his feet and was dripping cider from where the pitcher had landed on him.

“Aye... next drink is definitely yours to buy.” Johnan chuckled, brushing himself off and looking over at the dangerous group in the corner, raising a hand and pulling the table back upright.

“Some warning next time, eh?”
 

Draco Wrath

Recruit
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Southeastern Vlandia

Romund smacked his cloak against the horn of his saddle sending bits of caked mud in all directions. The sun was just beginning to rise through the trees to the east and he wanted to get back on the road as soon as possible. With camp packed up and fire snuffed out he rose into the saddle. Even his mount, Flight, seemed anxious to get on the move.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been this far west boy...” Romund whispered as he fed Flight a carrot from the saddle. A light tap and they were both on their way again, only a few hours ride through rolling farmland to Sargot now.

It had been two days journey towards Sargot since he had left Dabard’s Company, with only his personal belongings and a week's pay to his name. He couldn’t help but fear some greedy ealdorman getting word of the Cortain bounty on his way to Sargot. Better to travel fast than to travel comfortably. Not that that was different than usual, Romund couldn't remember the last time he had slept in a warm bed anyhow. Most soldiers wouldn't recognize him, and the few who would wouldn’t be looking by the time he arrived. Romund knew that besides Pravend, Sargot was a prime market for sellswords. He shouldn’t have any trouble finding a company to join up with though the status of their character was less determined. Either way he had little choice, he needed to disappear and doing so in the company of armed men was good security for the future.


Sargot


Getting through the gates was easy enough, a few denars in the right hands and an alias to boot left Romund feeling secure for the first time since he got news of his bounty. Sargot was the picture of a city any kid in Calradia dreamed of: exotic Aserai furs and spices, splendid dark stallions, Khuzait silks, Battanian gold and silver, the very fruit of the world itself always lay low for the picking in Sargot sang the bards. The truth of it was not for a man like Romund to find out.

Draped in cloak and armed, Romund made his way towards the lower end districts of Sargot. Finding a reputable stable in good condition and friendly hands, he paid for his horse to be cleaned and brushed. It'd been too long since his good friend had had true rest. Bad things come to a rider who neglects his mount.
 
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Úlfheðinn

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"A man thinks he can drink in peace, and then another man paints the tavern with blood. What a waste of lives and ale," Captain Doro stated loudly with some irritation in his voice. He drained the tankard of ale in front of him and stood to his full height, his armor clinking as he moved towards what remained of the dice game.

The aftermath of the fight, if it could be called that, did not move him. Violence was nothing new to the mercenary captain, certainly not when games of chance were paired with alcohol and women. He looked across the tavern with an easy air, surveying the panicked patrons that had shied away from the fighting. He could not help but notice with some interest that not all the tavern customers seemed unprepared to defend themselves.

Two tables caught his eye in particular. The gentleman in the corner of the tavern, the self-proclaimed delivers of justice, were of obvious interest. Men willing and able to commit such violence at the toss of a pair of dice were exactly the sort of men he was looking for. The stocky Imperial and the Khuzait with the bow stood out as well. Doro didn't doubt that the bowman would have added some corpses to the evening's tally had things not calmed down.

The captain stopped to examine the bodies that lay on the tavern floor and corpse nailed to the support beam with a crossbow bolt. It was good work. Clean, efficient, and coordinated. Whoever they were, they knew how to fight. The sergeant especially. It was impossible to miss his rank given the unmistakable command wrapped into each of his words.

"Best leave this bandit to the city watch," Captain Doro tutted, gesturing at the sobbing and bleeding thug. He took several steps closer, waving off his own compatriots who moved to follow. He wasn't worried. The strangers were no fools and for all their spontaneous violence, they had been remarkably measure in their response. "They'll have a chat with your friend here and resolve the matter."

Captain Doro turned his gaze from the Sergeant to Keith, flashing a broad smile,"You mentioned the most honorable House Tihr. I take it you command these men? Allow me to introduce myself, I am Captain Doro, and I am looking for men with courage and skill..."
 

A_Mustang

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Kieth paused for a moment, looking about him in the tavern. His wits had returned fully, and he took stock of the situation. The captain was eying the melee with distaste, as were the pair of foreigners he had been watching earlier. The normal patrons were looking at his troop with undisguised horror; it was one thing to know that they were mercenaries seconded to the garrison, it was another thing to see their skill employed.

Kieth took a deep breath, and summoned his reserves of aristocracy and arrogance. “Sergeant Jorumther,” He said with a wave of his hand. “Deal with this.” With that, conveniently handing off the task of stabilizing the situation to someone who actually know how to do so, he turned to face the Captain and he addressed the group.

"A man thinks he can drink in peace, and then another man paints the tavern with blood. What a waste of lives and ale.” The Captain turned and smiled at the young noble. “Best leave this bandit to the city watch, They'll have a chat with your friend here and resolve the matter. You mentioned the most honorable House Tihr. I take it you command these men? Allow me to introduce myself, I am Captain Doro, and I am looking for men with courage and skill..."

Kieth smiled, with a nod. “I know who you are. Word travels fast in the garrison. As for the prisoners,” He gestured and pointed at the woodlander, whose hands were already tied and being dragged by across the ground by Flocke and Erick. “We are part of the watch. I’m sure my men can see to his incarceration while we… discuss potential work for the house.”

Behind Kieth, Jorumther had worked himself in to a rage, the spectacle itself enough to stabilize the situation and assert the law, let alone the scramble of men behind him. “Neils, go with Erick and Flocke.” The sergeant barked, full of vitriol and rage. The paranoid novice already had his crossbow reloaded, and held his fighting axe in his off hand, eyes darting around and head on a swivel. The sergeant continued, “I don’t want any nasty surprises on the way back. Make sure the sergeant of the guard is notified. Go to the fifth post, quickly now, get a squad from the garrison and move him to the keep. I want that man secured.”

Jorumther turned to Locke. The young lad stayed were he was, sitting on his knees, rasing his arms protectively, showing his wounds to his sergeant as if they would afford him a protective geis. Behind him, the trio of warriors and their prisoner exited the tavern. A dangerous growl filled Jorumther’s voice. “You. You dumb ****.” He turned to his second, turning to Adeal, and barked. “Take this welp and un**** him.” There was a pregnant pause between the three, while Jorumther glared at the Locke. Then, in a sudden motion, Jorumther reached into the young lad’s vest, taking out a bundle of silver the size of of an newborn’s head. “This is mine.”

Locke swore, then tried to beg. “Sergeant, please...”

Jorumther glared at him again, stoping his protests before they could start, then tossed the pouch of dinars to Adeline. “A round for everyone!” He yelled, loud enough for all to hear. The waitress caught the pouch of silver with a grimace. The old sergeant sighed. “Get a keg for the youth, and take the rest as… damages paid.”

The serving girl nodded. She shouted, and the beer flowed.

Keith took his seat, Adeline having a pair of men drop an open keg at the end of the table. Jorumther caught his breath, then took his seat by his noble.

The young cavalryman looked at his sergeant, then turn to the captain. “Tell me, captain, about your proposition..”
 
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