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The Black Company: Reemergence

The Reemergence of The Black Company

It has been a long time since I have written the accounts of The Black Company in the Annals. This is based partly on the fact that due to unforeseen events, The Black Company had been forced into retirement.

After our journey to Hyboria in The Age of Conan, as it was known to us, The Company had an unusually hard time securing any contracts. Our days in Hyboria, for however short a time, were spent training and doing a myriad of tasks in order to secure a foothold within those lands. Along with the tasks came gold, although it was not enough to sustain a mercenary Company. After just a few short weeks, our Company coffers were beginning to dwindle into the red.

I remember that fateful day like it was yesterday. The Captain had called us all into formation in our camp in the late afternoon. The Hyborian sun beat down on us without mercy and it took every ounce of military bearing to not swat at the flies swarming around my face. After what seemed an eternity, The Captain emerged from his tent with a grave look on his face and, making use of the cane I had fashioned him, hobbled towards the formation.

He had been injured in combat not a week prior by an enemy’s halberd which had sliced open his back like a hot knife through butter. It took every ounce of my medical knowledge and supplies to bring him back from the icy grip of death. I remember thinking to myself that The Captain wasn’t going to see out the night as I carried him to camp with the help of First Sergeant Kingzmen. It was as much The Captain’s determination to live, as it was my skills, what kept him alive. I had never seen a man so close to death make such an expedient recovery. It was a miracle that he was even walking.

The Captain stood in front of formation, returned our salute and called for us to relax. I took the opportunity to massacre a fly that thought it was a good idea to land in my ear. Despite my partial deafness caused by the swat, I will never forget the words I heard The Captain say.

“I’m not quite sure how to say this, so I’m just going to say it,” he said, rubbing his forehead “The Company is retired.”

Veterans and Recruits alike began to look around in disbelief. Everything we had fought so hard to create, among them the very Keep we stood in, would be abandoned. You could cut the tension with a knife. Many a Brother wanted to say something, anything, to get The Captain to change his mind. He waved them off with his hand.

“It’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new,” he paused to wipe the sweat trickling down from his brow “There are many things which lead me to this decision, and it was not an easy one.”

He motioned towards the Lieutenant and the First Sergeant. “LT and First, like myself, have suffered grave injuries. Thanks to Patches, they are alive, but not entirely well and most certainly out of commission for the foreseeable future. And myself? I can barely walk, as you can see.”

“Hyboria has been a poison for the Company. Many of you here have become part-time members. The Company cannot survive on part-time membership. There have been many operations and training regimens that most of you did not show up for. Instead, you thought it more wise to gallivant around the brothels, giving yourselves away to booze and whores. We cannot take contracts here if we do not know if we can fulfill them.”

The Captain began to pace to the best of his hobbling ability as we stood ever so quiet. “I do not have the time to train new Officers.  Since most of you are part-timers anyway, I cannot grant you these positions nor do I have any reason to believe any of you would want them.  If you did, the fact remains that I still have much recovering to do, in regards to my wound.  I don’t have time to train new people, period.   Some of you may be thinking I should just hand over the reigns,” he looked at the non-commissioned officers  ” No.  It’s that simple.  Absolutely not.  Not one single bastard here as been doing this as long as I have. I turned The Company over once before to disastrous fucking results and I swore I’d never put anyone through that again.  That is a promise I intend to keep.”

He continued. “Effective immediately, we depart for The Glittering Plain. Those of you who wish to stay in Hyboria have my blessing. You will not be chastised one bit. The rest of you, pack up your shit and prepare to move in three hours.”

First Sergeant dismissed us and we began to break down the camp, gutting our Keep. The memory of that day fades shortly afterwards.

That was roughly two and a half years ago.

Take it from me, two and a half years on The Glittering Plains feels like a goddamned eternity. I’ve seen many men whom I’ve called Brothers leave, never to return. To the present day, there are five of us left. The Captain, Xt Ra, Waam and Lao. The only man who held rank anymore was our Captain, Tekerton. His name had come out during a drunken game of Tonk in camp many months ago. Since then, we continued to respect his rank and title, but we felt closer to him. I’m happy to say that, to this day, these men have never felt more like family to me.

I woke up, as I usually do, at roughly ten in the morning. I laid in my bed, thinking about all those that have left. Those I most likely would never see again: Skinny, Bastet, Tiger, Stone, Epiphany, Kingzmen and Matty. I wiped the sleep out of my eyes, stretched and stepped outside into the cool morning air.

My tent was across from The Captain’s and next to Xt Ra’s. I smelled the delicious odor of meat, which marked that breakfast had already been cooked and would be cold by the time I made myself a plate. In front of me was the campfire and I sat down on a log next to Lao.

“Morning, Patches.” Lao said with a mouthful of meat. He offered me a bite and I politely declined.

I reached into my tattered jacket, which I had taken with me from our deployment to Eve years ago, and pulled out an all but destroyed pack of cigarettes. I lit one up and thought to myself pretty soon I’ll have to start scrounging for tobacco and rolling my own.

I leaned forward, staring at the ground. “How’s The Captain today? Anyone seen him?”

‘No’ was the general consensus. I tried my luck with another question.

“Word is we’ve found another Gate. Weren’t we supposed to go check it out?”

“We will.” It was The Captain. He squeezed in between me and Lao, grabbed my cigarette and took a drag.

“Cap’, you don’t smoke.” I said rather matter-of-factly.

“Perfect time to start, I think.” He smirked as he handed my cigarette back. “Patches, come with me.”

I extinguished my cigarette and followed The Captain inside his tent. Before me was a table with a crudely drawn map of The Glittering Plains on it. The Captain had spent a lot of time having this map drawn up by researching through the Annals of old. He beckoned me to sit at the table and I very slowly and deliberately sat, concerned as to what he wanted to talk to me about.

“It’s not hard to see that you Brothers are anxious,” he began “and I want to get us through that new Gate.”

I nodded.

“However, my wounds have not healed. Frankly Patches, I’m tired. I can’t lead this Company the way it should be.” The Captain stood up and went to his footlocker, looking for something.

Within a few seconds of silence, he returned to the table and slid across something round and metallic. It was his Soulcatcher’s Badge, displaying his rank of Captain. I was thoroughly confused.

“Brother, if you’re interested, I feel as though you’re ready to lead The Black Company as Captain through the new Gate. Right now, I think you’re the best one suited for the job. What say you?”

I sat there, in shock, staring at the badge and back at Tekerton. I picked it up and admired it’s craftsmanship; its beauty. I then placed it back on the table and looked The Captain in the eyes.

“I would be honored.”

With a smile, he stood up and took the badge. Following suit, I stood up and snapped to attention as he pinned the new rank to my chest. He went to salute me and I intercepted his hand, shaking it firmly. He smiled again and patted me on the back, motioning for me to exit his quarters.

When I stepped outside I was greeted and congratulated by Xt Ra, Lao and Waam. I told them it was time to pack up and begin the trek to our new home away from home, and they did so with a new spring in their step. I went and began to pack up my belongings, still taken aback by what had just happened. Four years ago, I promised I would make it somewhere in The Black Company. Little did I know, I would be The Captain. At that thought, the weight of the World was placed on my shoulders. I had a large responsibility. I had to lead The Black Company. I vowed at that moment to bring The Black Company to it’s former glory, no matter how hard it seemed.

The sun was mid-sky by the time we four set off towards the land of Tamriel…

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