Across the Land Twice Over
Silberschreitener Mar 9th, 2016 (edited) 877 Never
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- Across the Land Twice Over
- The Impossible Party and the Blood Moon
- com-pa-ny (kŭm′pə-nē)
- n. p. com-pa-nies
- A military unit consisting of 80-250 soldiers; commanded by a captain and typically divided into three to six platoons.
- Free Company
- Free com-pa-ny (frí kŭm′pə-nē)
- n. p. free com-pa-nies
- A company not affiliated with a country or larger organization i.e. mercenaries.
- The two hooded riders made their way along the old road towards the fort, long abandoned by the Legion as they expanded onwards to the borders of the frontier fiefdoms. A lantern hung from the saddle of each horse, cast pale blue light as the magic stones inside pulsed, slowly and softly. In the lead was Borgas Silberschreitener, behind him Octavius M. F. Aquila, the pair of mercenaries who made up the leadership of the Silver Striders Free Company. Borgas himself was a warlock of some renown and wealth, with a decorated military career and an oft gossiped about diplomatic one. Octavius was many things; he was second in command of the company, as well as his manservant, personal solicitor, and permanent accompanier. A former scout in the Legion, he was the only survivor of a brutal ambush in the campaign towards the Northern Isles. Only by Borgas’ arrival did he survive, and thus was saddled with a life debt towards him.
- The tranquil silence of winter night was indomitable, even the horses’ breathing was quiet and easy. They were just returning from the nearby city, collecting a payment for a contract past. In their return, the weather had taken a turn for the picturesque. Soft, large flakes of snow fell along the road back, and their lanterns owed to the nocturnal mystery as it cast a sapphire light onto the trees to one side.
- Nearing the fort, the center of their enterprise, they could already hear the music playing and general merrymaking carrying on. The common area had been renovated and expanded upon over the years until it had doubled as a lively tavern and inn. A little homebody money for when times were lean in the market of brokered violence. Hearty food, abundant drink, music and singing and courtesans into the night all brought in steady, regular business. Of course, many of the men refunded their own pay into the inn, themselves seeking more convenient lodgings than in the city, or falling to the allure of the many fermented and distilled drinks that lined the bar’s walls and back rooms.
- They had finally returned their own horses to the stable, and handed the reigns to the stable master. Placing their hand upon the large oaken doors, they pushed through from the cold, serenity into fire warmth and revelry. Looking across the room, tables were filled with patrons who were talking or arguing with one another, some few were singing along to the collection of musicians at the head of the room. Rich curtains, decoratively carved wooden pillars, and paintings of seemingly random size and quality spackled the walls of the tavern, deepening the contrast between the atmosphere inside, and the deep azure one just on the other side of the glass panes.
- Ordering their food and drink, the two sat by the fire. Borgas had himself his personal armchair, stuffed to nearly bedlike softness; Octavius maintained a short wooden stool with a woollen cushion at its base. He was a man of uncompromising simpleness, and unending patience. Breaking their silence that had persisted since they departed the city, the mercenary captain finally spoke up, “Fetch my pipe, boy. I think it’s time we retire for the night.”
- Octavius, who partook in a few luxurious vices, one of which was the smoking of pipeweed, produced two pipes. The first was a short, mahogany pipe was produced; its well was carved ivory depicting the head of a ram, fastened to the stem with a ring of smooth brass. His own pipe was a simple affair, a pale wooden pipe with a smallish well and a long stem that could reach his mouth while the well was rested in his lap. He had carved a coiled sprig of holly around the opening of the well and two simple geometric lines along the stem. Each was stuffed with a pinch of pipeweed. Borgas’ was grown in a specific farm in the Halfling shires, while Octavius’ was purchased from the general trader in the city limits. After he passed Borgas’ ornate pipe to him, and lit it, he sat back intent on smoking and contemplating the evening. His seldom-mistaken intuition was uneasy tonight, as though a great change would walk through the door any minute.
- Instead plates of food and a tankard of mead were delivered. Ham, bread, cheese, and pickles lay in front of them. Borgas tore into his own as though he’d not eaten for a week. Octavius simply reached into his coat and produced a small, dark wooden flask. Uncapping it, a pugent bitter smell rushed out. The contents were an extremely potent liquor of wormwood and anise, his other vice. This was sipped in between measured bites of his meal. Where Borgas scooped up pickles and mustard sauce onto his bread and cheese, the vegetarian scout opted for a plate of olives in a yoghurt seasoned with juniper and mint.
- After their food was finished and a servant swooped in to collect their dishes and replace Borgas’ empty tankard, they continued to smoke and stare at crackling flames and glowing coals.
- Some few hours into the night, the door of the common area opened again and in walked a sight many, including the pair sat by the fire pit, regarded as dubious and somewhat mysterious: Five figures of varying heights entered. Figure they were, as their heavy, dark cloaks obscured their faces and forms. The only signifying features were their cloaks’ colours and their heights, dark brown, deep reds and purple, and a smoky grey enshrouded the mystery party who ranged from no higher than 5 feet to nearly 8. The smoky grey cloak, carried it’s 6 foot form to the desk, and paid for two rooms. After writing what were presumably their supper orders on a parchment to be delivered to the kitchens, they swiftly exited and went to their lodgings. Quiet, suspicious visitors were not unheard of in the inn, but an air of destiny had carried them in in Octavius’ mind. Ever the philosopher, never the romantic, this surprised him.
- A short time after the unusually notable event, the surly pair were joined by two more. These two were officers in the company, and technically Octavius’ subordinates, being the company second. But his unique relationship with his Captain meant they often sat aside him in the chain-of-command.
- One was Ortel, the head of the second platoon, similar to Octavius who led the first, while Borgas commanded them overall. His face was a few scars past roguish and had fallen into ugly, a burn over one eye from some encounter or another with a mage, runes along his brow to ward off a curse from a lesser imp, and a significant bisection of his lip with a hasty stich had left his rust-coloured beard parted. His matted hair hung down to below his ears and his bloodshot, grey eyes almost shone, with a fox-like mischievousness. Apart from being acid-tongued and with cupidity to rival his Captain’s, Ortel was known for his one redeeming quality, his singing. He was the bane of good company until instruments were produced as he seemed to know every song about the sea one could imagine. Dressed in dingy green clothing, he looked as though he’d just returned from battle. Whether or not he did was irrelevant, his laziness prevented any more care going to himself. At his side was a titanic man still dressed in iron armor. His name was Kalt Ironhand and he filled Ortel’s number two position. Ortel was the talkative one of the two, taking most of Kalt’s duties of dealing with the soldiers in his platoon himself. Kalt remainded in the command structure because he was one of the few who put up with his Sergeant’s ramblings, musings, or spree of complaints. He himself, was almost eternally silent, four word responses were extreme and often, gestures and grunts were the on replies paid to the interrogator. His personality was anyone’s guess; some called him a quiet genius, others, a buffoon. Some more still thought him endlessly arrogant, his silence a sign of utter contempt.
- “Greetings, gents-“ Ortel’s voice always sounded like he was trying to sell you something for way more than it was worth, “-couldn’t help but notice you sitting all by your lonesome. Can’t imagine you’ve much to say, but I’ve got a topic for you: What do you think those five were all about? Here to hire use and ruin some lives? Make some men wealthy? Or simply passing through, with nary a thought given to a starving sellsword who’d stick his gran for a bit of cold beef and some beans?” If a viewpoint could ever be described as ‘a glass that’s anything other than half-full’, then it would sum up Ortel perfectly, sardonic, sarcastic, and pessimistic to the point of absurdity.
- “Ever the cheerful bastard.” Grunted Borgas, so annoyed he almost snuffed his pipe and left for bed. Instead he tightened his mouth across his face and returned a musing he couldn’t help but make, “I noticed some magic about them, not the human kind either. We’ve monsters in our midst. I don’t like them keeping a low profile but there’s enough of them there to take a man without much fuss. Maybe they’ll keep to themselves.”
- To Be Continued
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