Ravenholdt RP Sanctum Azeroth Press The Twisting Nether Gazette Wowpedia
Forum rules
This forum is used to post one-author stories taking place in the past. For stories following characters in current events or ongoing RP, please post to the Alliance, Horde, or Cross-Faction forums instead.
Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 15th, 2014, 9:20 pm

"What is your profession, sir?"

"Killer sir!" Barnaby snapped a salute with an ear-to-ear grin found only on the young and eager. The officer looked up at the unexpected answer and the man behind it. He was average height, wiry build, short black hair, a young face slightly on the gaunt side and a pair of sea-green eyes that revealed a hard edge to the recruit. If there was any humor in the answer, the recruitment officer missed it.

"I give you a week, kid. Next!" he said at last, giving the kid his longsword and lion-emblazoned shield. "And what is your profession?"

"A better killer than him, sir!" Jon replied, prompting Barnaby to shove him with his newly acquired shield. The rough play nearly became a full bout of wrestling if not for the recruiting officer.

"Enough! Barracks is that way, now get out of my sight!" he bellowed. "NEXT!"

They followed the steady trail of recruits that navigated Valience Keep from the recruitment desk to the barracks front gate, keeping quiet until the officers were out of earshot.

"What was his problem?" Jon asked.

"How would you feel if you were stuck behind a desk witnessing such natural talent?" Barnaby replied, flexing a bicep he didn't really have. Jon's answer was another shove and they laughed again. Folks rushed back and forth as they worked to construct walls, move magazines and marched in formation. Overall, Valience Keep seemed a very lively place for now. The pair quickly arrived at a newly-constructed barracks that dominated the hill it sat on. The portcullis was open and flanked by two privates, whom nodded in reply to their greetings.

The gate revealed a courtyard and dozens of other recruits milling about, some more lost than others. It was easy to pick out who had battle experience in a militia or thereabouts and those who didn't - like Barnaby and Jon. What separated the two of them from most of the other green men and women was that they weren't lost. Eventually they would be formed up by someone - a sergeant no doubt - given an overview of their bastardized training and where they will be posted thereafter.

From there it was a matter of following orders until you retired or dropped dead.

"Come on." Barnaby said. "Let's go make some friends."

They navigated the crowd and settled on a trio in the middle of the room. Two men - one well over six feet and a full beard - and a decent-looking blonde in her mid-twenties. The tall man was about their age but built like an ox with short, red hair. The other man was the shortest they could find around here, with a wiry figure like Barnaby and looked about fourteen, complete with freckles. The blonde was his height, very toned and had the brown eyes of a warrior. She wore her hair in a no-nonsense ponytail.

"Hey there." Barnaby said. "You three arrive together?"

A few 'no's were replied, followed by handshakes and names. Big Riley, Decklyn and Katherine.

"Where are you all from?" Jon inquired.

"Stormwind." Riley replied, cracking his large knuckles.

"Lakeshire." squeaked Decklyn. His sword arm was twitching with nerves and Barnaby wondered if this kid would be the suicidal hero that goes crazy in the middle of a fight.

"Dalaran." Katherine replied, adjusting her sword belt as she spoke, practicing reaching and half-drawing from time to time. "Though I've spent the past few years in Stromgarde. What about you two?"

"Theramore." came the unison answer. The trio chuckled and Barnaby and Jon exchanged a punch to the shoulder.

Summaries on history were exchanged. Barnaby started, offering his farm heritage in Lordaeron and a string of jobs when he arrived with the exodus in Theramore. Carpenter's apprentice. Hunter and fisherman. Deckhand for a year - this piqued Riley's interest, who inquired further and it was revealed they both served on merchant vessels. Most recently he had been a gunsmith, attaining his Journeyman status only a few weeks before signing up.

Riley segued into his own history, starting as a deckhand at 12 and was a full sailor at 16. After a piracy encounter (he promised to tell the story later), he got off the ships and worked as a shipwright until the Call to Arms went out. They didn't need shipwrights at the desks, but Riley had hoped he could swing an axe instead anyway. They all held him to his promise, as it was hinted he had killed more than a few men.

Decklyn was born in Lakeshire to middle-class merchant family, learning to read and write as a child - it was revealed he was the only one of the five that could - and worked toward becoming a scribe. They didn't need scribes at the recruitment table, so Decklyn was stuck with a sword and shield. They learned he was a few weeks off 16 and promised to get him drunk for the occasion.

Jon mentioned his farm heritage and knowing Barnaby since he was five. He fled to Theramore with his family and dabbled in a few trades before settling with shipwright. He mentioned his sweetheart back home whom Barnaby knew well and his desire to see the world and earn some glory.

Katherine went last, revealing her service as a Corporal in Stromgarde's militia for the past five years. She had fought bandits (she called them the Syndicate, and they apparently wore orange masks), ogres, trolls and the Horde. Her parents had both been mages of Dalaran though she desired nothing of that path. A soldier and warrior at heart, she cared nothing more than duty and glory.

"Any of you have combat experience?" she asked. Riley put a tentative hand up, though Barnaby was tempted to mention a run-in during his year as a deckhand. Two men had tried to rape him a few days into the voyage but the then-15 year old had managed to kill one with a fishing knife and stab the other in the hand. He received twenty lashes for his trouble (the other man was keel hauled and later lost his arm to infection) but earned the respect of the crew.

Instead he focused on making his sword belt comfortable, mimicking some adjustments Katherine had made. It wasn't long before it was where he wanted it. Katherine was giving tips on fighting trolls, so Barnaby decided to step out after another round of handshakes. The group was swelling - at least three score were here now - and cliques had cropped up. Barnaby decided to seek out a loner.

He found her leaning miserably against the courtyard wall, eyes downcast. Similar age, a few inches shorter than he, brown hair, a slim but unmuscled body and modest breasts. He leaned by the wall beside her.

"You won't make friends down there." he said cheerfully. "You may be in a shield wall next to one of this rabble sometime..."

"I- Sorry..." she mumbled, still not looking up. Barnaby offered his hand.

"Barnaby."

"Elizabeth." she finally looked up, revealing glassed-over hazel eyes and shook his hand. She had the same name as his mother, and Barnaby had to push away a pang of guilt.

"What trade did you come to ply?"

"Tailoring." she squeaked, looking back down. "They said they were full..."

"Looks like you're stuck killing corpses like the rest of us." Barnaby smirked, but she neither saw it nor responded. He tried to keep conversation going.

"Where are you from?"

"Stormwind." she replied, offering little more. As the 17-year old he was, her slim side profile was arousing Barnaby. Mostly as a means to touch her body, he put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Relax." he said. "Just keep your equipment clean, dance to the tune of the officers and sergeants and be as angry and vicious as a rabid dog when you need to fight."

It didn't seem to help. In fact, the hand caused a few tears to fall down her cheeks.

"Look." he said, gently tilting her chin up to look at him. "You'll be fine. Just keep your head down and do whatever you need to do to--"

"COMPANY!" bellowed the most authorative voice Barnaby had ever heard. "FORM UP! SIX RANKS ON THE DOUBLE!"

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 16th, 2014, 6:46 am

A few of the ex-militiamen knew what was happening, but nine out of ten recruits began milling mindlessly trying to form ranks.

"HURRY UP!" the sergeant bellowed.

Barnaby was already on the left-hand side, so he took a position and raised his hand.

"Left marker!" he shouted at the other recruits. "Come on! Line off me!"

Katherine was already there - she had no doubt the same idea as he - and Elizabeth had sidled up behind him. Slowly but surely, ranks began to form with Barnaby as the front-left man. The sergeant wasn't pleased.

"RUBBISH!" he shouted at the ranks. "IF THAT HAD BEEN AN ORDER TO LOCK SHIELDS, YOU'D ALL BE DEAD NOW!"

A frightened silence echoed through the ranks. In the corner of his eye, Barnaby swore Katherine was smirking.

"Now!" the sergeant began pacing. "I am Master Sergeant Kilroy! And I've been given only two weeks to teach you pathetic lot everything I can-- WHAT IS SO FUNNY, RECRUIT!"

"Nothing, sir!" came a voice from the middle.

"DON'T CALL ME SIR - I WORK FOR A LIVING!" Kilroy boomed. "...Everything I can to keep you alive!

"During the next two weeks you will be taught how to maintain your equipment, basic infantry tactics, including formations, the shield wall and fighting in ranks!

"You will be taught how to employ a dagger, shortsword, longsword, spear, pike, javelin, bow and whatever other weapons we have time for!" he continued. "But you are all footmen of His Majesty's Grand Alliance! The focus of the training will be the longsword and shield!

"In two weeks, you will all be sent to one of two units! The 9th Brigade or the 10th Brigade!" Kilroy explained. "You will be assigned where we want you, and you will NOT ask of a posting from us!"

A few of the men shuffled, including Barnaby. There was a chance he and Jon would be split up now. He wasn't concerned, but they signed up together - he preferred to remain at his side. Brigades were Stormwind units, so Barnaby wasn't sure how they were comprised. If they were the same as the Lordaeron Legions that Theramore still used, then he wouldn't have any problem.

"Who here has militia experience?"

Katherine raised her hand with about fifteen others.

"Under ordinary circumstances, we would push you through quickly and get you on your way." Kilroy said. "But two weeks won't kill you, and I will need your experience to assist in this pathetic training program."

The speech went on for a while and Barnaby absorbed what he could from it. The rest was half a pep-talk and contained little information. When they were finished at last, they were dismissed, segregated into men and women and taken to their respective sleeping quarters. Jon somehow found Barnaby as the seventy-strong crew followed the master sergeant. A female NCO had led the women through the other door.

"How hard is it to form ranks?" Jon remarked.

"I know, right?" Barnaby said, but low enough so no one else heard. He didn't know where Jon had been in the line-up, so he didn't know whether the man was part of the confused masses or not.

"I mean, it's just--"

"Quiet!" the sergeant shouted without turning. "Your three and thirty-five doesn't cover talking!"

Somewhere, someone scoffed but otherwise it was just murmurs. Barnaby guessed three and thirty-five meant the three silver and thirty-five copper a footman earned a day. He had earned more as a gunsmith. Their quarters were filled with bunk beds, open footlockers, weapon racks and armor stands. Someone murmured about the living conditions, but most of the recruits didn't mind. Half were no doubt orphans, and Barnaby and Jon hadn't exactly grew up in luxury themselves.

They were shown the mess hall, armory and the training yard - colliding with the women group there - and marched back to the sleeping quarters and deposited their swords and shields where they could - Barnaby had been at the front of the group, so he had no competition for a bed.

"Training begins at sunrise tomorrow." Kilroy said. "You'll be issued your equipment and shown its care and handling in the morning. Afternoon will consist of drill and formation training. Lights out will be an hour after sunset."

With that, they were free to return to the courtyard and collect their things. The women were already back, and Barnaby spied Elizabeth looking like a zombie as she collected her things. The two groups collided again and conversation was struck up once more.

"Ever heard of the 9th or 10th?" Barnaby asked. "You're from Stormwind, so you might know more than me."

Elizabeth shook her head. She had stopped crying, but she was still sullen. "Where are you from?"

"Theramore." Barnaby answered. "Grew up on a farm in Lordaeron."

"Did you want to become a footman?" she asked. He chuckled.

"Hell yes I did." he replied. "I'd prefer my dad's rifle, but I'm no tradesman. I want to be in there in the thick of things. Run some orcs or trolls through and loot enough corpses to retire."

"Looting?"

"Soldiers right." he said, grinning. "Just don't do it in formation, I'm told - wait until they're routed before you start cashing in."

She was still sullen, both arms wrapped around her waist.

"Cheer up." Barnaby pitched. "Can you read and write?"

"No."

"Me neither."

"I can." Decklyn was suddenly at Barnaby's side. He and Elizabeth made introductions - Decklyn was shorter than even her - and shook hands. "What do you do, Elizabeth?"

"I'm a tailor." she replied. "I joined up to ply my trade but they were full."

"Hmm... My family are merchants - maybe they know someone here." the short kid pitched. "Do you want me to look into it?"

Something flickered over her eyes - hope? - and she smiled. "I- Well yes- I mean... if you have time."

"No problem." he smiled, turning to Barnaby. "Riley's going to teach Jon and I how to throw a punch. You want to join us?"

"Absolutely." Barnaby replied, beaming a grin. "A silver says I can drop you in ten seconds."

Decklyn hesitated. "You'd probably win that. Maybe when I'm better?"

Barnaby laughed and turned back to Elizabeth. "You're dead set on not becoming a glorious soldier?"

She nodded to the two boys. He suddenly realized Decklyn was blushing and snickered.

"Don't worry." Barnaby said, grabbing his short friend's collar playfully. "I'll make sure he does what he promised."

"Ack!" Decklyn must've weighed about seven pounds from how he was manhandled. Regardless, the girl smiled.

"Thanks." she turned and vanished into a group of other footmen-to-be heading back to the women's quarters. Barnaby and Decklyn headed back to their own room to their respective beds to unpack. Before he and Decklyn split back up to their bunks Barnaby grabbed his sleeve.

"How long were you listening into me and her?"

"It's 'her and I', and it hadn't been for long." they exchanged a grin and he let him go.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 17th, 2014, 2:38 am

"One breastplate. Steel." the quartermaster announced as his numerous assistants patrolled the ranks. One-hundred and eight breastplates were held up by one-hundred and eight recruits and one-hundred and eight boxes were ticked.

"Pauldrons. One pair. Steel.

"Rerebraces. One pair. Steel."

"Riley." Barnaby hissed under his breath. "That's a vambrace." Riley looked at what he was holding, realized he had one vambrace and quickly bent over to fix the problem.

"QUIET IN THE RANKS!" the ever-vigilant master sergeant boomed.

"Vambraces. One pair. Steel. Gauntlets. One pair. Steel."

The quartermaster went through the steel plate first, finishing with the trademark full helm before moving onto the iron mail worn underneath. Then the leather undergloves and boots, and lastly the doublets and other miscellaneous clothing. All in all, the armor weighed about sixty pounds total without counting his sword and shield. When they were done, the master sergeant took the reins and went in reverse order, ordering the ranks to equip themselves in his order.

First was the doublet and some burlap pants and leather boots. Then came the short hauberk and the mail pants (the name escaped Barnaby). Then the bottom layer of plating - chest, arms, legs, etc. Riley had trouble buckling his breastplate on and Barnaby gave him a hand. Then the gauntlets, greaves, tabard and pauldrons - someone fell over in the rear rank and some snickering ensued - and lastly the full helm. The plume was horse hair and blue dye, and new plumes needed to be re-dyed several times before it stuck through rain.

Fully kitted up and with their swords and shields, the next part of the day was formations. Of course, the classic shield wall was first, learning to account for height differences and plugging gaps. The company stood half and half, facing one another. One side pelted rocks while the other held the wall. From time to time, the sergeant would pluck men out, simulating a casualty.

Barnaby was pelting rocks and could hear Katherine and another of the militia men co-ordinating the defense. To add to the confusion, the throwers had free reign to scream, shout and hurl as much abuse as they wanted at the other side to incite confusion and to make things *more* confusing, the sergeant occasionally barked orders to advance, retire or shuffle left or right. Corporal Blueford - one of the assistant instructors - pulled Barnaby aside and thrust a bottle into his hand.

"Light it and throw." he said with a grin. Barnaby looked down at the bottle of absinthe and noticed Decklyn and another recruit he'd heard as Recruit Morris were holding similar bottles with linen stuffed into the necks heading his way.

"Waste of good alcohol." Barnaby mumbled as he stuffed a linen into the bottle. Some flame emanated from Blueford's palm which he seemed to caress with his fingertips. With grins of their own, Barnaby, Decklyn and Morris lit the necks, Barnaby tried to remember where he saw Jon form up across from them and then they hurled the bottles.

A female voice cried out in alarm when the Molotov cocktail struck her shield and utter confusion spread through the other rank. Everyone was laughing now as they hurled their rocks. Barnaby could hear Katherine rallying the defenders. Soldiers were still being plucked and the plugs sealed. Usually by her demand, but sometimes the footmen themselves were observant enough to do it themselves. The fiery residue still clung to shields and the stonework at their feet, but the line held well enough.

Soon enough, it was his turn to lock shields and he found himself in the front rank next to Recruit Snyder - a Stromgarde kid younger than him. The kid had already tried to pick a fight with another recruit the previous night and had a crazy gleam to his eye as the rocks pelted his shield. He was also the first to be plucked out, to Barnaby's relief. He shuffled over and plugged the gap. To his left was Elizabeth, who didn't notice.

"Close up!" he shouted. "Close up!"

She still didn't hear and the rocks came down with a vengeance. Barnaby side-stepped, shifted the shield to his right hand and pulled her by the pauldron. She let out a startled 'Ah!' but he couldn't see her face through the helmet.

"Stay closed up!" he shouted to everyone around him. Another man was making shouts further up the line. Barnaby saw the girl struggling to keep her shield up, resorting to using both hands and panting. His arm was burning - he didn't have much muscle himself - but he kept his part of the shield wall up.

"Elizabeth." he said, just loud enough for her to hear. When she didn't reply, he shoved her.

"Use one arm."

"I can't..." she was saying, but before Barnaby could say any more, he was plucked out as a casualty. He watched their side of the wall gradually become a disaster until the sergeant ordered a halt.

"That was a simple arrow barrage and you were all routed!" he bellowed. "The concept is simple. KEEP THE SHIELD UP! KEEP THEM LOCKED TOGETHER!

"A cannonball can plow through a neat file of a dozen men!" he continued. "You need to maintain situational awareness! A chink in the shield wall is a weak point! AND A WEAK SPOT GETS YOU AND YOUR COMRADES KILLED!"

Corporal Blueford was next to Barnaby as the others got their beasting, shaking his head. "You take out the one guy who steps up to hold them together, and they fall apart."

With that he walked away, leaving Barnaby to wonder if he had been paid a compliment or not.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 22nd, 2014, 6:46 am

"Slash! Parry! Thrust!"

Barnaby watched on as Jon sparred Marcus, a dashing (apparently) Kul Tiras kid about their age. The courtyard was divided up into four quarters, each with an instructor and two sparring footmen. When one was beaten, two more were were in for a new fight at the call of their names. He had already been swiftly beaten by a deceptively small-built militiaman once and was eager to get back in and beat someone down.

Recruit Marcus was being driven back now and Jon's blunted sword landed a solid hit on the man's neck.

"That's it!" the instructor declared. "You're dead Recruit Marcus! Good work Redfield. Next!"

Jon bounced in his armor a little in triumph and stepped aside. The next fight was Katherine and another militiaman, which had everyone cheering while Jon returned to Barnaby's side.

"Three bouts?" he sneered. "I expected more from you, man."

"At least I won my fight." Jon retorted, prompting a shove from Barnaby. The two veteran fighters lasted over a dozen bouts. The Stromgarde girl won through in the end, the two shook hands and Barnaby awaited the next call.

"Recruit Grathier and Recruit Whitebolt!"

Recruit Whitebolt... Elizabeth. Barnaby's heart sunk a little. He was hoping for someone to give him a run for his money but as he watched her tentatively step forward, decided this could work to her advantage. Only when they were up close and she didn't look like just another footman did he give a little pause.

"Come at me hard." he said, keeping his voice low.

Without so much as a 'Begin' from the instructor, they were circling with their shields up. Barnaby could see her quickly fatiguing with this. He went in with a hard slash at her shield. She absorbed the blow, let out a startled 'Ah!' and was sent back a step. He followed through with a vertical strike on the shield. Though he wasn't overly strong, his blows were solid and enough to keep her reeling.

"Fight back Whitebolt!" the instructor shouted. "Slash!"

She gave a pathetic slash with her sword. Barnaby took it on the shield and answered with a swing of his own.

"Pathetic! Thrust!" he bellowed.

Barnaby was sick of this already. Elizabeth gave a feeble thrust which he took on the shield again. Before she could withdraw her weapon, he brushed it aside, stepped in and smashed her over the helmet with the pommel of his sword. She cried out, staggered and he covered the gap with a single stride, bashing her with his shield as hard as his strained arm allowed. Two more steps back and she tripped and was seated on the ground.

She gave a futile swing up at him which he bashed aside with a forceful parry. Barnaby finished the job by planting his boot in her face and stomping on her breastplate once she was down. He took a step back and watched as she curled up in the foetal position, her sword out of hand and her shield anchoring her other arm to the ground. He could faintly hear her whimpering.

"Get the hell up, Whitebolt!" the instructor screamed. Elizabeth mustn't have heard, because he had to stride over and haul her up by the pauldron, causing her to cry out as she was manhandled.

"YOU WILL STRIKE RECRUIT GRATHIER OR YOU WILL NOT EAT TONIGHT! IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?!"

Through a few sobs, a feeble 'Yes sir' came from behind her helmet. Barnaby could feel eyes on him.

"Sir--" Barnaby began.

"WAS I TALKING TO YOU RECRUIT?!" the instructor stormed over to him. "KEEP YOUR LIGHT-DAMN MOUTH SHUT UNLESS ADDRESSED DIRECTLY!"

"Yes sir!" he said stoically. "My mistake, sir!"

The instructor stepped back. "Go on!"

Barnaby made the coup de grace, simply feigning a leap forward with a roar. He covered exactly no distance, yet Elizabeth still dropped her sword and cowered.

"You're a disgrace, Whitebolt..." the instructor said at last, using the disappointed-father voice they resort to when screaming fails. "Get back in rank. You too, Grathier."

Barnaby followed her to the fringe of their arena, pursued by the eyes of the other two dozen recruits they shared this quarter with.

"You alright?" he asked, keeping his voice low.

"I- I- Why did you do that?" she asked. "Easts had let me--"

"I'm not Recruit Easts and I'm not about to let someone strike me." he said sternly as a new fight started. "I was hoping they'd reconsider you if they saw a display like that."

She shook her head. "It's like they don't care that I'm not a soldier."

He grinned, though no one else could see it. "Cannon fodder, am I right?"

The fight was short, intense and already over and Jon now went up against the militiaman that Barnaby had initially lost to. When he was pretty sure the instructor wasn't looking, he put a hand on her shoulder.

"I'm still thinking of something. Bear with--"

"Recruit Grathier and Recruit Briston!"

"Ah shit." Jon was already destroyed by the skilled swordsman. Barnaby stepped forward against a man easily bigger than Riley. He had fought using his sword like a butcher's cleaver, hacking and slashing his previous foe to submission. Apparantly Briston had been in the Kul Tiras navy once upon a time. If thinking about his mother had brought up bad memories, then that...

Barnaby was suddenly furious. He absolutely wanted to hack something to bloody pieces and felt the red mist descend upon him. With a battle cry, he launched himself at the bigger man, slashing, thrusting and constantly side-stepping to keep the lumbering giant off-step. Barnaby ducked a swing, kicked the man in the groin - even through mail, it worked - and swung across his body into Briston's armpit. Another hack at the back of his knee hit a nerve, bringing him off his feet. By the time the instructor was there to haul Barnaby off, Briston was on the ground with vicious blows raining down on his helmet.

Barnaby resisted the instructor and was rewarded with a punch to the stomach. Even through the breastplate he was somehow winded, but this helped him regain focus.

"Good aggression, Recruit Grathier." the instructor said as if he hadn't just struck the man. "We'll make a soldier out of you yet. Next!"

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 25th, 2014, 7:54 am

"Six."

"Seven!"

"Damn it!"

The group jeered and laughed as Barnaby threw his cards down in mocked anger and Briston brought the small pile of coppers to his side. The gambling was amongst friends and the wagers were hardly worth mention, the main premise being fun. It was an odd game, but Barnaby was getting the hang of it. Decklyn and Marcus, the Kul Tiras kid also sat cross-legged with them but they had lost their chance at the pot in the last hand. About five others hunkered and another on door watch. Not that the card game was illegal - the beers they smuggled in were though.

"You sure that's thirty-two copper?" Barnaby said with a smirk, drawing a laugh from the drawn crowd. Briston had trouble counting to twenty. "I'd make sure first."

"Well, you can count them if you win them back." Briston retorted. "Might even be enough for a new dress."

A few 'ooo's and laughs followed, the running theme here being Barnaby had the body of a woman. It was his turn to deal and gave two face-down cards to everyone present once the bets were paid. He peeked at his own, spying a 7 and an ace. Eight was a strong hand.

Five copper was put in by everyone and Decklyn and Briston each bought another card for three coppers, leading to the latter to slam his hand down with a curse. Everyone laughed, naturally.

"So Barnaby, any headway on the little brunette?" Marcus asked. Word going around was he was trying to woo Elizabeth. Word was also going around that Marcus also had his eye on her.

"What if I have?" he replied with a smirk. "What if I've pounded her behind the mess hall already?"

"Then I'd call you a liar."

"And you'd be right. Eight." he flipped his cards, causing Marcus and Briston to curse. Decklyn revealed an eight, three and a seven - a tie of eight between the two, since only the last digit counted. Marcus made a short light-hearted rant about the cards being rigged to a few others, fuelling the laughter and banter.

"What's she even doing here?" Riley asked from the sidelines.

"Drafted." Barnaby replied as he redealt between Decklyn and himself. "She came here to be a tailor."

"Bah." Recruit Johnson scoffed - a militiaman and a fellow hailing from Theramore. "She'll get us all killed."

"Yeah, no shit." Barnaby replied. He had a nine and a six, bought another card - a king - and swore. His opponent bought another card and also swore. "And we ought to find a way to get her out before then."

Decklyn flipped his cards, revealing a ten, a two and an ace - three. Barnaby revealed his five, fistpumped and drew in his forty-two copper of winnings.

"My old man's a master sergeant." a wiry, young fellow named Wilkins pitched as he leaned in and pitched his five copper for a hand.

"I think..." Barnaby mused as he took a swig of his beer and passed the deck to Decklyn. "Someone ought to chat with the tailors themselves."

"Good luck with that." Brston said as he received his cards. "We hardly get the time to piss, much less chat with them civvies. Oh COME ON!"

"Cards hate you tonight, eh?" Wilkins said. Cards were bought and distributed and Wilkins produced a ten and a nine to everyone's dismay.

"Bullshit! I call bullshit!" Barnaby was ranting (lightheartedly of course), and Wilkins took his winnings and withdrew to the fringe again. It was the fourth time he casually sidled in with a bet and the third time he'd won. The other hand he had narrowly lost to Marcus.

"Well, we're doing formation marching tomorrow." Decklyn said, counting out his copper and pitching another bet. "If we get a break, one of us could duck out."

A few murmured in agreement. They weren't exactly confined to the barracks, but they never got time off during daylight hours due to the workload. It was six days into training now, and they had hardly even seen Valience Keep yet. In fact, they resorted to underhand deals with the quartermaster to get alcohol and cigarettes because they had no time to buy their own. If the sergeant's knew, they didn't care. If they did get a break, Barnaby decided he would drag Elizabeth to the tailors himself and see if they could help.

"Hey." it was Jon who stood behind everyone now. "What's the game?"

"Baccarat." Marcus and Briston said in unison.

"Come sell your life away." Decklyn urged with a grin, despite the fact he was losing hard.

"What's wrong with dice?" he asked, though he was settling in between Barnaby and Marcus anyway. The banter restarted for a few hours until the beer vanished. Riley had drunk the most, so he was shafted with the responsibility of disposing of the bottles after lights out.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 26th, 2014, 7:25 am

"Fire!"

The archers on the walls launched a dense volley of flaming arrows at the gargoyles overhead, turning them into plummeting pincushions. Those that didn't find purchase in the air became plunging fire into the swarm of Scourge far out on the beach.

Barnaby was exhausted. This was infinitely more exciting than formation marching, but running supplies was boring. Down on the beach, the riflemen launched a shredding volley of round shot to cover the withdrawing footmen. He had always thought of footmen battles as the stoic 'fight to the last man' types. Against Scourge, he'd been told, a fighting withdrawl was a common tactic. Batter them as long as possible to thin their numbers. Once enough damage was done, the footmen would about-turn and march back through the battered waves. Since they were easy enough to kill and never routed, the fighting was long and tiresome, but resulted in few casualties in the end.

He had no part in the good fight. For now, he was running supplies.

Footmen were forming up on the bridge just outside the Keeps main gate while a few were walking or being dragged to the priests that lay inside the walls. Above them on the ramparts, riflemen launched volleys from their flintlock rifles into the crowds and manning the walls were over a dozen 24 pounders hammering away at will. Some duelled the Scourge catapaults and meat wagons whilst others shredded dozens of undead per round with deadly canister shot. Overhead, gargoyles swooped in to rain death down, but were always repelled by the heavier fire of bows and flintlocks.

Barnaby made it back to the quartermaster with Redfield (Jon, he tried to think of him as Recruit Redfield in uniform), Briston and Wilkins, panting in his plate armor. Already there was Marcus and four others.

"--that and that. Got it?!" the quartermaster barked, noticing the four other recruits show up. "You four! Help these five haul this shit up to the north-west tower! MOVE!"

There was a horse-drawn wagon without the horses, carrying over eighty cannonballs and as many wax coated cartridge cases, two barrels and three crates of arrows. They began to divide the work amongst themselves. Four men took the wagon, the massive Briston being one of course while Barnaby took a barrel. The four other recruits took a crate or barrel each and they began to labour to the tower.

"Why can't we have a damn fight?!" Barnaby was complaining. "Let the damn civilians haul this shit!"

"Fuck this." Jon said. "I'm going to get lost on the way back and find myself in a company for the counterattack!"

"Ha! I might just join ya!"

All nine men laughed and nodded in agreement. To hell with running arrows - the fight was out there and they wanted to be part of it. Barnaby rolled his barrel along the dirt, stopping halfway to trade out with one of the wagon crew to give him a rest. Marcus did the same with his barrel, letting Recruit Anthony - a gruff thirty-eight year old workhorse of a man - rest on the barrel.

Reaching the tower was the easy part. The tower itself was over fifty feet of timber and masonry. There was a pulley that some men began unloading the cannonballs onto, but the other items were portable enough to climb the winding internal staircase with. Easier said than done.

Briston took an arrow-crate and dashed up the stairs with the other two, while Barnaby took his barrel back and pushed it up the stairs with the old man. It was painstaking, and the other guys bar Briston who ran ahead bounded back down to get the barrel quickly enough. Every conceivable thought about either killing something, giving up or laying down and dying crossed his mind, but ultimately the stairs stopped eventually and he almost collapsed. Only the sound of a 24 pounder got him back up.

Anthony ran to help Briston on the pulley while Barnaby looked around. There were archers and cannoneers up here.

"Pitch!" he shouted. "Pitch here!"

"BRACE!"

An incoming stone caused everyone to take cover but the thing fell short, glancing off the stonework a few feet beneath the landing.

"Bring it here!" someone shouted. "We're low!"

Barnaby spied a team archers, a barrel and a torch. They were dipping deep into the barrel to coat their arrowheads, before gliding them over the torch to give it flame. After a few seconds, a smartly-dressed NCO gave the order to loose, and a flaming volley soared up at the gargoyles above. Without thinking, he began rolling the barrel over to the group and with a grunt, lifted it back upright. All that remained was tearing the lid off and for good measure, kicking the old barrel off the edge of the platform far into the water below.

"Excellent!" the same archer - a Private - exclaimed with a smile as he became the first man to dip his arrowhead into the new barrel. "Can't go in proper without this!"

"Enjoy!" Barnaby heard himself reply as he turned and dashed over to Briston and Anthony, grabbing some of the pulley to help. They were almost at the top already, and while they used their might to hold the platform, Barnaby reached out to pull it in. He caught a dizzying sight of the ground as he reached out and let out a dazed laugh as they began moving cartridge and cannonball to the artillery pieces.

As he dropped a half dozen cartridges at one of the cannons, the other barrel emerged on the landing. The haulers - Jon was one of them - looked as wrecked as he from the climb.

"Where to?!" Marcus asked.

"Go unpack that!" Barnaby shouted over a firing cannon, pointing to the Briston, Anthony and the pulley. He took the barrel himself and began rolling it around to another group of archers.

"BRACE!"

Everyone dived for cover as a catapault missile smashed into one of the thick, wooden columns that held the ceiling up, bounced off the landing and sailed into the town, its momentum largely spent. The column had exploded into a thousand splinters from the force, but no one was injured. Barnaby struggled to get back up, too fatigued to even get to his knees. He could see some of the archers getting back up, a few taking cover as they composed themselves again.

A second shot hit the masonry below them, rocking the tower's inhabitants. Barnaby saw, again, the same Private reaching for his bow at the ledge before it skipped from the second impact and teetered over the ledge into oblivion. He swore and got to his feet.

It was pure chaos. Soldiers was shouting different orders at different groups while some had no idea what to do. The cannoneers were screaming for someone to help maneouvre the cannon to another firing position while the archers demanded arrows and pitch. The recruits on the pulley contented themselves to lowering the pulley out of confusion. Barnaby raced to the cannoneer and began exerting himself on the limber. He pulled, turned, pushed, turned again and pushed again to get the mighty 24 pounder in its new spot.

One of the privates had taken over his job of hauling the second barrel. Only when he dropped it amongst his comrades and shouted "Make it count!" did he realize it was the same one that lost his bow, trying to make himself useful.

"Gate cannons are unmanned!" he shouted at the cannoneers. An artillery sergeant ran to his side and peered down at the gate. There was a sea of Scourge all the way to the gate, but there were no bodies. The gunners had broken and fled and the footmen clearly had no more reason to hold the bridge.

"Fuck!" the sergeant roared and turned to his cannoneers. "You're in charge! Solid shot at the enemy artillery! You, you and two of you!" he pointed to the private, Barnaby and his four fellow recruits up on the landing. "Come with me!"

The others didn't hear it, so Barnaby raced over to grab them.

"Oi!" he barked. "You two come with me! Briston and Morrison, keep working the pulley here!"

"What the fuck?" Morrison started with his whiny, almost-goblin-accented voice. "Since when do we--"

"THAT'S AN ORDER!" the sergeant boomed behind them. The archer was speaking to his NCO who in turn directed a Private to help man the cannon the sergeant had departed from. Barnaby, Briston, Jon, the archer and the artillery sergeant all bounded down the stairs. Outside they heard another rock smack and glance off the tower and some light crumbling in its wake. The recruits were exhausted and struggled to keep up with the other two. They crossed over the ship, hung a right and came up behind a rag-tag rank of troops.

The rank covered end-to-end to keep the Scourge at bay, a mix of Recruits and full Privates hacking and slashing at the ghouls. Up at the front was a gleaming, yet blood-splattered Knight-Captain slashing from atop a warhorse. They gradually advanced through sheer attrition, the occasional soldier emerging from the rear rank with some kind of injury to be seen to. The five of them slowly followed for a minute, stepping over heaped piles of undead. A single private with his throat ripped out added to the dead as they walked.

"Hurry up!" the sergeant shouted. He was clearly pissed off. Barnaby looked around.

The soldiers above the gate were still firing unopposed. If he could...

"Hold on!"

Barnaby dashed up towards the keep and passed a few cannons to get to the ramparts, distantly aware the sergeant was shouting for him to come back and the other three simply watched him, confused. He had to clamber a little, but eventually made it to the humans and dwarves directly above the gate.

"Oi!" he shouted at a dwarven rifleman and pointed at the pitch. "I need that!"

"Talk ter him!" he pointed to a corporal who was in the middle of aiming a volley at the gargoyles. Barnaby promptly chided himself for bothering a rifleman for something that belonged to the archers.

"Oi!" he shouted at the archer corporal. "I need your pitch!"

"What for?!" he demanded.

"To make our counterattack go faster!"

The corporal was too busy readying another volley to notice he was being addressed by a Recruit and besides, there was a barrel to spare. "Whatever, just don't waste it!"

Barnaby muscled a barrel to the edge of the ramparts, dipped an arrow in it, lit it on a nearby torch and fed it into the barrel. The whole barrel ignited with a whoosh and with what power he could muster, he kicked it off the ramparts into the bottlenecked ghouls. The soldiers all saw this and began laughing. Cheers of amusement and shouts of encouragement echoed as Barnaby began to climb back down. At least two score of the huddled undead had caught fire and some spread the fire around as they kept trying to mindlessly cram forward to the melee.

By the time he reached the group again, the Company had covered the new vacuum and pushed back onto the bridge, tearing off each others cloaks and stamping or kicking aside roasting Scourge to avoid burning themselves. The artillery sergeant just kept moving without a word of approval nor reprisal. When they reached the cannons, they took the leftmost one and checked if it was loaded. It wasn't.

"Solid shot!" he shouted. "Load!"

Barnaby had no idea how to load a cannon, but the sergeant gave him good enough directions. Anthony rammed the bore brush in and twisted it out to clean some gunk out. Barnaby followed this by placing the cartridge inside.

"NOT THAT WAY!" the sergeant boomed. "SEAMS TO THE SIDE!"

Barnaby complied and the archer followed this with a solid 24 pound cannonball. Jon stood at a crank and the sergeant was standing on top of a pile of stone blocks with a spyglass.

"Oi! Recruit!" he shouted. "Go three degrees up!"

Jon turned the crank while the sergeant directed the others to steer the cannon a fraction to the left. The sergeant did a final quick check of everything and without warning, struck the fuse with the flat of his sword. The cannon launched back over ten feet on its limber while the cannonball sailed out over the beach but came up short, caused a distant necromancer to vanish in a plume of blood mist and bounced high over their target - an enemy meat wagon.

The footmen were now formed up at the mouth of the bridge in five ranks of about fifteen led by the battered Knight-Captain while another Company marched over the bridge to join them. The gargoyles were being driven off by gyrocopters now, a gift from an airstrip somewhere to the north. Too little, too late, Barnaby thought. A trio of injured footmen limped past them back to the priests.

They adjusted and fired another shot, missed again, and only halfway through reloading the next round did the original cannoneers sheepishly reappear. The sergeant exploded at them and summarily dismissed Barnaby and the others.

"Let's go! There's a fight to be had!" their archer friend insisted with a fierce grin.

They looked out on the beach, but the hundred and sixty-ish footmen, a handful of cavalry and strafing gyrocopters had already broken the Scourge attack.

"Ah, the fight's done." Anthony growled. "Don't bother."

Barnaby looked down at his sword with disappointment, dusty but unwetted by blood.

"Fuck. Next time, I guess." he said to himself.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 27th, 2014, 6:56 am

"Fuck off, Jones! You killed maybe half that, tops." Riley shouted over the noise at another boasting recruit.

The mess hall was filled with cheering, exchanging of stories and a one-night lift on the alcohol ban. About a third of their 108-strong group had bloodied their swords on the undead that morning and only one person wasn't there to share the celebration. Recruit Orwell - a Stormwind girl - had an arm cut up by a ghoul that was being seen to by a priest. It was hardly cause to celebrate but it was the first battle experience for more than half of them and they had performed well. And like most, all Barnaby cared about was an excuse to drink.

Jon was regaling a small group on his operating the cannon, particularly the necromancer that had been collected by the first round. Barnaby was busy trying to convince a handful of fighters that he had been the one to tip the pitch barrel, though Anthony was busy sharing a quiet drink with another older recruit in the corner and couldn't back him up. Most had their little stories of supply runs, near-misses with the Scourge artillery or simply argued over who soiled themselves and who didn't that morning.

"Oi Redfield!" Barnaby shouted after a swig of cheap beer. "Come back me up here! I kicked the pitch, did I not?!"

"You sure?!" Jon replied over the table. "I guess I missed it!"

"Oh to hell with you!" The laughter drowned out Barnaby's protests and he got up, crossed over the table and put Jon in a playful headlock. A dozen others laughed and cheered as they grappled one another, grinning and cursing one another. Eventually Jon pointed somewhere. "Hey! Check that out!"

Barnaby shoved him away and looked, panting. Two recruits were engaged in a throwing knife competition and others were making bets around them. They grabbed their beers and headed over. Barnaby couldn't remember their names, but one was the militiaman that had fought Katherine the other day. The woman herself and Decklyn were amongst the crowd and the two sidled up behind them, each clapping one on the shoulder.

"Who're the throwers?" Barnaby asked.

"Harris and Acara." She replied. "Acara's got this, I wager."

On cue, Recruit Acara buried his blade into the painted bullseye and launched his hands into the air victoriously. Half the crowd cheered and bets were exchanged.

"Ever thrown a knife before?" Katherine asked the other three.

"Nope." Barnaby echoed Jon and Decklyn. He had seen it at taverns, particularly at Gadgetzan and Booty Bay two years earlier, but had never bothered to try himself.

"You need a specially balanced blade to do it." the Stromgarde girl explained. "Any old fishing knife won't tumble properly."

The knife tumbled into the wall again, a half-inch from the bullseye. Harris stepped up and hurled his end over end on the other side of the bullseye. Another recruit peered closely at the wall.

"Harris! You're closer!"

More cheering and exchanging of bets. Barnaby decided to give it a go sometime and took his leave of the trio. He finished his beer, acquired another and found Elizabeth at a table. She wasn't drinking, but sat with another woman. Without invitation, he sat down next to her and made himself at home.

"How'd you two do today?" Barnaby asked with his beaming grin. The other girl seemed annoyed, but lightened up quickly. Barnaby was still amazed just how much in life a smile and a wink could get you away with. He offered his beer to Elizabeth who waved it off. She seemed to be in a better mood.

"We didn't get any fighting." the other girl said. Elizabeth kept quiet. "Liz here nearly fainted when she saw a wounded soldier."

"I did not!" she protested, blushing a little.

Barnaby laughed a little. "Don't worry, I didn't get to fight anything either. Nearly got cleaned up by a catapault though. Oh, and I got to fire a 24 pounder."

"Hit anything?" the other recruit asked.

"A necromancer." he wiggled his fingers to convey showering pieces. "A puff of red mist, he was."

"I saw a spray round shred some ghouls." she replied. "Nasty stuff."

"Spray round? You mean canister shot?"

"Yeah, that stuff." she got up and offered her hand. "Emma Loken."

"Barnaby Grathier."

They shook hands and she left him to Elizabeth. She still didn't talk.

"So." he began. "Was it a scratched finger you saw?"

"No- I-" she tried to protest, but his chuckle cut her off.

"Just teasing." he said. "Still dead set on getting out?"

"I said I was." she replied, looking at him. "Come on. Dodging falling rocks won't encourage me to stay."

Barnaby was still laughing, stopping only to drink his beer. "At least you have time to get out of the way. One missile missed me by a few feet. Had to actually dive for cover."

"Is using a cannon hard?"

"Takes five men to use it." he replied. "Mostly to muscle the damn thing back into position after it fires."

They were silent for a moment.

"You know..." Barnaby said at length. "Decklyn told me he's pushing to be a quartermaster."

"Oh?"

"Gave me a thought." he said. "If you can't worm your way out in the next eight days. Clerks and quartermasters don't fight... much."

"I've thought about that." she said. "I was going to talk to him tomorrow about it."

"Tomorrow? Psh." Barnaby stood up and cupped his mouth. "OI! DECKLYN!"

It took a second to spot him as he was half a head shorter than most, but he appeared quickly enough. "Someone call me?"

"Get your arse here, you gnome! Bring a few beers!" Barnaby shouted, getting his attention. The Redridge kid got their bottles and sat down.

"Hey Elizabeth." he looked at the pair. "What's up?"

"Well?" Barnaby looked at Elizabeth.

"How are you going to become a quartermaster?" she asked.

"Oh. Usually you ask for it." Decklyn began as he settled in. "Most quartermasters are dumped where they are because they're bad soldiers or cowards." he made a face. "And people wonder why logistics are so terrible in the army.

"But my dad was a logistics officer back in the day." he continued. "And he's got a few friends still. When they learn I'm my dad's son, they'll make me a quartermaster whether I want it or not - which I do."

"Oh. So I just ask for it?"

"Well, at least learn a thing or two about organization and numbers. You'll need to know how to read and write."

"I... can't." she said. "Read or write."

"I'd start learning. It's not too hard." was all Decklyn had to say. When he left them two beers and rejoined the party, she looked expectantly at Barnaby.

"Don't look at me." he said. "I can't read or write either. But he's right - start learning and you'll open doors soon enough."

"Thanks." she got up and left the hall altogether and Barnaby mentally undressed her as he went.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 29th, 2014, 4:28 am

"Aand dead."

"Oh come on!"

Once again, Barnaby was dead in under three bouts against Recruit "KC" Daniels, the man who had long since demonstrated that he was undisputedly the best swordsman in the Company. Both he and Jon had lost to the man the day he had thrashed Elizabeth and Briston and not even Katherine could match up against him. The running joke was that the young Alterac peasant (or so he said) was actually a Knight-Champion reporting to King Wrynn himself on some top secret SI:7 mission.

It was nonsense though, but made for a good laugh. Another thing they teased him over was his lack of skill at poker. Like (nearly) every other insult from soldier to soldier however, it was strictly banter and was never taken to heart.

"If I start pivoting after that deflection," Daniels was saying. "You know the blade is going to come from the left. What you need to do is step like this."

He began instructing Barnaby and a few others wise enough to learn too on how to defend against that counterattack step by step. Riley and Briston - the two big guys - had stepped in with a chuckle each to start sparring themselves. The instructor - Sergeant Luft - was too lazy to be at any of the three sparring rings and sat on the spectator's stand doing exactly nothing. Rumors circulating was that the other sergeants hated him, and it was easy to see why. Everyone wanted to see KC Daniels spar with him.

"Oh and don't forget to tell the King about the quality of our staff, okay?" Marcus had said, generating snickers.

"Naturally Recruit," Daniels replied light-heartedly. "Now as you were."

If the Sergeant hadn't been in sight, a mock salute would have been in order. Most now turned their attention to the main attraction - two beasts, both at least 6'3" fighting a largely unskilled but brutal match. Quickly their weapons were gone and they were pounding and grappling to everyone's delight. Barnaby had twenty copper on Riley before they even left the barracks that morning.

"Oi!" he shouted. "Stop dancing around him and get in there!"

In his thrill of a measly twenty copper, he didn't notice half the recruits watching the exchange between a dwarven merchant and a private behind them. Only when Briston had backhanded Riley, reached for a sword and pressed its tip against the other giant's breastplate with the phrase "Dead, motherfucker." did Barnaby swear and turn around to see what the commotion was about.

"Woah, woah now." the dwarf was saying. "Ye'll need ta pay fer that!"

"It's my bow, unless you'd like to dispute it?" the Private replied, glaring at the merchant. Only when Barnaby saw the bow did he identify the man as the archer who had helped on the cannon two days prior. It was also the bow he had lost off the tower when the catapault had rocked them. If a scheming merchant was going to make a soldier buy his own weapon back, he had another thing coming. Barnaby tapped the gauntlets of his immediate left and right and the three took a step forward. Before they could act, however, the archer was showing what must be an inscription on one of the limbs.

"See? Mine." he was saying. "Pray I don't find anything with that here again."

The dwarf threw his hands up in defeat and demanded the archer take it and leave. Shame, Barnaby thought to himself. He'd been ready for a scrap.

"Grathier!" a female called from behind him. Barnaby spun to see Katherine in the ring and another recruit picking up his weapon to leave in defeat.

"This is he!" he replied.

"Come on, let's see what you can do this time." she said, chopping the air with her longsword. Ever since she learned her father and his had both served under Danath Trollbane back in the day, she had taken it upon herself to show him how to fight like a 'real warrior'. In return, he was supposed to teach her how to shoot when the chance permitted.

As soon as he stepped into the ring, she made her attack without warning. He had been expecting it, one of her lessons about being ready for a cheap shot had sunk in. Regardless, Barnaby was immediately on the defensive as the woman began raining blows down on his shield from seemingly every direction. He tried to push back, succeeding in breaking her attack and getting a few blows on her shield. Shouts of encouragement echoed as they circled and traded swings.

"She likes to do a quick thrust after a bash." someone shouted from the sideline. "Watch out man."

As if on cue, he was staggered by a nasty shield bash but angled his own shield across in anticipation, letting the follow through thrust scrape along its length.

"Ho-ho! Nice!" came the same voice.

After four bouts, it was officially the longest time he had stood against the Stromgarde girl. He deflected another blow and pressed an attack of his own. Katherine broke off and Barnaby quickly charged to swing again. The second he did it, he realized he had screwed up. His attack was quickly parried and he found her sword tip poking into his waist.

"Oh for fuck's sake."

Five bouts was an improvement. They stepped aside to discuss what went right and wrong in that session while two more stepped in.

"You know what you did there?" she asked, removing her helmet and sweeping her dark blonde hair back out of her face.

"Came at you too hard." Barnaby replied. "You fell back and dared me to overextend."

"If you had stepped back yourself, the next bout would have been on more equal footing." she smirked and replaced her helmet. "But you're getting better. You could probably pass for a militiaman now."

"Hey you!" comes a sudden shout from the stands - Sergeant Luft. "Get back to work!"

The mass of recruits looked about themselves sheepishly to see who was being addressed. The sergeant didn't get up. "Yeah you! Get lost!"

Barnaby worked out before most what was happening. The Private with his bow back had come to spectate the fights instead of whatever his current duty was - if he even had something to do. The private stood at ease when he addressed the Sergeant, "Sir, I was just wondering if the recruits have been shot at yet, sir!"

"Get up and get him, sergeant." a deliberately muffled voice said from the crowd. Everyone had to fight a snicker.

"WHO SAID THAT?!"

Even the Private was struggling to keep a straight face. A stiffled laugh escaped from a man or two but no one replied to the demand. The sergeant turned to the private. "You mind your own business, private. And I'm not a sir, I'm a sergeant you potato!"

Honestly. Who uses 'potato' as an insult?

"Understood, Sergeant! I will get back to work shooting at a wooden circle."

A recruit cracked up somewhere.

"Are you backchatting me, Private?!"

"No, Sergeant!"

"Now get y-- DID I TELL YOU TO START AGAIN, YOU TWO?!"

Two recruits - Jon being one of them - had started sparring again during this exchange, much to the flustered Sergeant's frustration. The two either didn't hear him or outright ignored him, trading blows and circling one another.

Luft finally got off the stand now. "EVERYONE FORM UP! THREE RANKS!"

The recruits hastily fell in with the occasional curse as the Sergeant turned to the Private. "Who's your Sergeant?"

"Sergeant Meril Ambergrain, sergeant!" the Private replied.

"I'll be having a chat with him after this, Private. Dismissed!"

The Private turned around, offering the recruits an expression that would come off as 'good luck' and went on his way. Barnaby zoned out a little then as the Sergeant exploded at the fifty or so assembled men about insubordination and respecting ranks senior to you. Mostly he smirked behind his helmet at the notion of Sergeant Luft being respected. There was probably a reason he was stuck training recruits instead of fighting the good fight in Dragonblight or some fjord he couldn't remember the name of far to the east.

The rant ended with half an hour of drill. From what Barnaby could tell, Sergeants really liked drill.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 29th, 2014, 5:31 am

"He sure loves his about turns."

"I lovedthe part when everyone screwed up the left incline."

Riley and Grathier laughed, remembering the spectacle. A grand total of four hours of drill left most recruits pretty sloppy still and it showed on Luft's face on every mistake bound to happen among fifty of them. Decklyn was busy discussing with the nearby quartermaster about steady supply lines of food versus foraging for a marching army.

Barnaby did another quick glance around to ensure rank was nowhere in earshot, spotting the same Private passing by with a grim, annoyed look.

"Oi!" he called, grabbing his attention.

"Yes?" the Private replied. The nearby dwarf merchant grumbled and made himself scarce.

Riley barked a laugh. "'Shoot at a wooden circle..'. Love it."

The three laughed. Decklyn turned around to see what the commotion is about.

"Don't mind the Sergeant." Barnaby said. "He just needs to get laid."

"It's fun to poke fun at him." the Private replied. "And scary how easy it is."

"I doubt you'll get in any trouble for it." Decklyn says. "I've overheard corporals talking crap about him."

"Which is exactly what I was told."

The short, young quartermaster-to-be laughed and offered his hand. "Joseph Decklyn."

"Jonathon Riley."

"Barnaby Grathier."

"Jacob Windrest. Pleasure." he replied, shaking each hand in turn. "And not all at once, damn it!"

"Well keep up, man!" Barnaby said.

"Next I'll be showin' ya around and treatin' ya to dinner."

"No such luck." Riley said, cracking his knuckles. "Working like dogs, we are."

Barnaby and Decklyn both just shrugged.

"Considering your Sergeant." Private Windrest said. "I'm not surprised."

"We're seven days from joining a Brigade." Barnaby replied. "Most footmen get at least three times the training at least."

"Speaking of which." Decklyn folded his arms, producing an air of maturity despite being the youngest and smallest member present. "What Brigade do you fall under?"

Jacob rolled a shoulder with a small sigh as he looked down at the little man. "Ah, 5th Brigade. Helped clear out this place once we landed."

"Ah! Nice."

"Yeah, keep saying it's nice." Jacob said with a wry grin. "I admit it was fun though."

Riley chuckled. "Killed a few ghouls, hm? Wait right here while I go get you a medal."

"Mostly gargoyles." he replied, pretending to loose an arrow. "You'd be amazed how well an oil shot works.

"Wait..."

Barnaby found Windrest looking at him and frowned.

"Wait, you were the one rolling up barrels the other day."

"Ah." Barnaby said, jerking a thumb to the nearby tower they had fought from. The peasants were remarkably efficient and had already repaired most of the damage. "If you mean that one, then sure."

"Yeah, I recall your voice." Jacob said. "Thanks. And nice work dumping that pitch over the gate. Dunno why no one fucking thought of that sooner."

Bam. Barnaby turned to Decklyn and almost shoved him over with a grin. "See?! Fucking told ya!"

Everyone started laughing.

"What did I say?" Barnaby demanded, victory etched into his voice. "What. Did. I. Say?"

"All right, all right. We'll get you a medal as well." Riley replied. "I'd give it to you now, but I don't see a chest to pin it on."

The four of them laughed and Jacob winced at the assault. Barnaby shoved Riley now, accomplishing exactly nothing on the massive man and settled with jabbing a finger at his chest. "This isn't over."

"I'd say you've got the head start, so far." Jacob was saying. "Though muscles over here might pass you up quick."

"Bah!" Barnaby said, trying and failing not to laugh. "And how many ghouls have you incinerated so far, Jonathon?" He made a zero with his thumb and forefinger. "Ze-ro motherfucker. That's how many."

"Ah don't worry about that." the Private said. "The three of you will get more than your share of undead when you get to your Brigade."

Riley grinned and shoved Barnaby back, nearly flooring him. "Keep count for me, aye?"

Decklyn nodded, having kept out of the banter and kept his arms folded. "Exactly. Plenty more where that came from."

"Oi!" Sergeant Luft shouted from a while off. "GET BACK TO WORK!"

The four looked around, suddenly more spry. When he realized the shout wasn't directed at them, Barnaby decided it was time to get back to work anyway.

"Yep, rest lads. That wasn't us." Barnaby assured the others. "Past time to get back to stabbing at each other in a circle."

"While I shoot at circles." Windrest replied.

"Yeah. Good meeting ya, Jacob." Barnaby said, nodding a farewell.

"Likewise. What unit are you being posted to?"

"9th or 10th Brigade." Barnaby answered. "Don't be a stranger."

The three recruits got back to the ring to witness Marcus strike another recruit over the helmet with the pommel of his longsword and they cheered the kid on until he beat his opponent down.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Mustering.

Postby Grathier » August 31st, 2014, 8:18 am

Two weeks isn't long, though Barnaby was surprised how repetitive even that got. First it's swords, then spears, a touch on archery then swords again. Drill, learning ranks and their roles and addressing officers, more drill, learning the working parts of a Brigade and even more drill. They were taught everything and nothing, being pummelled with too much for the human mind to absorb. Barnaby wished he was a gnome more than once.

He learned a deal more from the more experienced recruits than the instructors and tried to squeeze them for tips and tricks where he could. The afternoon Sergeant Kilroy taught them about baggage trains and supply chains was the night Katherine told him tricks to killing Forsaken. Now Harris was holding a sword in the sleeping quarters and showing a gaggle of Recruits how to survive a spear thrust.

"If you don't have room do deflect it so." he concluded. "Pivot your body and let the tip scrape your breastplate rather than puncture it. Won't always keep you alive, but you can get lucky."

There were only two days left until they would undergo an assessment no doubt as bastardised as the training, and three until they were marched into their Brigades. He didn't think the assessment would be failable - no one had been kicked out and those who requested to quit were rebuffed with a stern 'Get the hell out of my sight'. One kid deserted and word was that he fled into the tundra and joined the poaching parties.

Once the group dispersed, the lesson complete, Barnaby grabbed his helmet off the armor rack by his bunk bed, climbed to the top level and settled down to clean it before light's out. No secret beers tonight, and he was out of coppers to gamble with. Decklyn had offered a loan, the shark, but it was refused.

"How's your gear looking?" came Jon's voice from the bottom bunk.

"Like I could put an officer to shame." he replied, scrubbing the helmet. The plume needed to be dyed again.

"Good of you to put your name forward next inspection."

"Good of you to not put it forward when I don't say anything."

"How's Whitebolt?"

"Haven't spoken to Elizabeth in a few days." Barnaby replied. "Apparantly she's been buried in a book in every waking hour."

"I thought she couldn't read."

"I think she's pushing to be a clerk." Barnaby forgot that he hadn't been there when she spoke with Decklyn. "Given her soldiering skills, I suppose it's learn to read or die."

"Did you ever speak to the tailor?"

"Nope." Barnaby smirked. "Never got the chance."

"What are you two lovebirds on about?" Riley asked, removing his sword from the rack it shared with Jon's, Decklyn's and his own. He grabbed a cleaning rag from his footlocker and sat down on the bottom bunk beside them.

"Discussing a threesome with Marcus." Jon replied. "You know, just lovebird stuff."

Riley clearly didn't really know how to reply to that, so he shook his head and got to work cleaning his weapon.

"Hey Jonathon." Barnaby said, not looking up from his helmet. "You said you were a sailor back in the day, aye?"

"Aye." he nodded, also not looking up from his sword. "Four years as a deckhand and another five as a sailor, I was. Was slated to be a bosun but I signed up instead."

"Why didn't you join the navy?" Barnaby inquired.

"Bah!" Riley snorted. "I can either swing swords and axes at things or scurry about a ship until it sinks. No glory in being a sailor."

It seemed as good an answer as any, so Barnaby changed the subject. "If someone thought you'd make a good boatswain, then I'll wager you'll make Sergeant pretty quickly."

"Go on." Jon said. "Tell Marcus to go do something."

"Oi! Marcus!" Riley called. Marcus looked up from a hand of cards. "Get over here!"

The Kul Tiras kid replied with the finger and went back to his game. Barnaby and Jon laughed.

"Maybe not." the big man said.

They laughed and spoke about nothing in particular while they cleaned their equipment. Despite working for every hour under the sun and then some, everyone was buzzing and restless. In less than a week they could all be marching against the Scourge or the Horde or whoever their officers wanted dead. Three days until the fun begins, Barnaby thought as he started on a pauldron. It couldn't come too soon.

cron

Login  •  Register