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The Book of Algheri – Chapter 2 – Sand and Blood

Sand and Blood

    Today started early for The Black Company as all were up and in formation well before the sun was up. As I was donning my armor, with the help of SB, I could hear First Sergeant yelling at the top of her lungs for the Recruits to get into formation with the rest of the Brothers. I remember thinking to myself that it was too goddamn early to be yelling, but the loud crack of a whip snapped me out of that though. I looked to SB as his face contorted to that of concern and in unison we approached my bay window and looked down upon the formation.

    There, lit by a lone torch, stood the dark silhouette of First Sergeant with whip in hand. No one was on the ground or otherwise appeared injured, meaning that First had literally cracked the whip to get people’s asses in gear. I’m beginning to regret carrying that thing around for so many years on the Glittering Plain, hoping to one day present it back to her. However, it certainly served it’s purpose and has only been used disciplinarily once so far.

    First Sergeant slightly turned her head to the left and nodded discreetly. How she knew that she was being watched was beyond me, but that was her cue that The Company was formed. The Lieutenant approached her, salutes exchanged and First Sergeant assumed her position in First Squad. The Lieutenant then turned around, away from The Company, awaiting me and SB.

    I grabbed my sword off of my desk and sheathed it as I walked downstairs and outside S1, towards the Lieutenant, flanked by SB. Formalities were exchanged between the Lieutenant and myself; he saluted me, turning the Company command over to me and took his place one pace behind and to the right of me. SB took his station, with the Standard, one pace behind and to the left of me. For a few short moments I gazed upon the Brothers who stood in front of me, hearing nothing but the snapping of the canvas Standard in the small White Arden breeze.

    All of the Veterans, both leadership and otherwise, who stood before me, I have known for years. I have sweat with them, bled with them, and in rare cases died with them. Back in New Eden, if one died, their conscious would be reinstated to a clone. Those days are gone, and we once again have a slight fear of death. I remember flying through the vastness of space with Bull, First Sergeant and SB. Those were the days. Back when I was full of youth and motivation to make something of myself. Not to say I’m not motivated, but I’m certainly not a youth anymore. Heavy sits the chevrons.

    When I had finished fondling nostalgically the memories of days gone by, I stepped forward and began the Company Announcements and Plan of the Day. Today, I had a meeting with a potential Employer and a few armor requisitions to fill. I never thought I would see the day where I, much less The Captain of The Black Company, would be performing Support Division Duties. However, the Brothers needed armor, and I was the most skilled in Armorcrafting, thus the duty fell to me.

    By the time I had finished addressing The Company and had retreated inside, the sun was up and had begun to beat down a rather uncomfortable amount of heat. This made me rue my upcoming task of being stuck in front of the smelter and anvil for hours on end. All those from Support Division who were to engage in crafting of their own followed me inside, due to the Lieutenant barking orders. He opened up a portal to S2 and we stepped forward into the light. In a flash of euphoria and blinding light, we emerged near the fireplace of S2. The yellow hue of the portal faded away and the SD personnel made a beeline for their crafting stations. I stepped outside into the relatively cool tropical breeze and the noise of various acts of carpentry, husbandry and metalworking.

    I observed our surroundings, making sure to check the horizon for any inkling of danger that might approach. As it stood right now, we were safe. You see, S2 is located in an area that no titled prick, as Bull would say, controlled when killing could occur. After my visual rounds were complete, I walked over to our smelter just as the Recruits carried the last load of iron ingots to the already daunting pile. I began to work immediately smelting ore, refining ingots and fashioning said ingots into various pieces of armor with an assembly line of Conscripts at my disposal.

    After making several cuirasses, I looked to the heavens and saw that I was damn near late for the meeting with our potential Employer. I quickly opened my Teleport Book, chanted an incantation and opened a portal back to S1. I arrived in the Iron and Wine Cantina, our bar on the first floor of S1, just in time to see First Sergeant escort our Employer through the entrance.

    “Ah, Captain. We were beginning to think you wouldn’t make it. He’s all yours.” First Sergeant said with a slight smirk on her face.

    I extended my hand to the Employer and we grasped forearms in greeting. I escorted him upstairs and outside onto the second floor terrace, motioned for him to have a seat at a large oak desk and I sat down at the head. He was about to take a seat to my right when I shook my head and motioned for him to sit across from me, at the ‘foot’ of the table. As he sat, SB walked through the door and stood behind me. That man takes his duties seriously as the sort of bodyguard for the Captain. Anywhere I went, you could be sure that SB was somewhere within arms reach of me.

    “Well, let’s get down to business, shall we?” I said, motioning for the Employer to slide me the contract we had written up a few days ago.

    As I perused the details of the contract, the Employer took out a map case and unfurled a map on the table. I stood up and leaned over the table, next to the Employer and watched as he explained the route we would be taking. It was to be a simple escort mission from the Nuian controlled Crescent Throne Harbor to the Pirate Island of Freedich. The route consisted of hostile waters and hostile territory among Freedich, but the payoff for both The Company and the Immortals, the Employer’s Guild, would be decent enough.

    “Well, Godrica, it would appear that everything is in order. We have the eight bodies ready to go, myself included. You give me a time and we’ll be there.”

    “Tomorrow at noon, Captain. Will that work for you?”

    I nodded in agreement, grabbed the contract and then had SB escort Godrica downstairs and outside of S1. Below, I could hear First Sergeant and the Recruits practicing combat maneuvers and tactics. First Sergeant noticed Godrica mount  his horse and ride off into the distance and looked up at me; I nodded. She ceased the exercise and in her booming voice, called The Company to formation. I observed from the balcony as she named off who would be partaking in the contract; The Lieutenant, Standard-Bearer, herself, Brother Delyn, Recruit Rakkas, Recruit Sprigun Recruit Tempa and Recruit Sanariel. They were then told to head to S2 to have their weapons sharpened and ready for combat.


    We had all awoken early, full of zeal, ready to make this Contract our bitch, so to speak. I was barely awake when my messenger owl, Archimedes, flew in through my window.

    “What is it?” I asked, groggy and wiping the sleep from my eyes.

    “The Client has changed the location at which he’d like you to rendezvous. Solzreed Housing Pumpkin Patch.”

     “Thank you Archimedes,” A talking owl would seem out of place in any normal world. But with magic, damn near anything is possible. Archimedes served The Company well, and has become a valuable asset, that’s for sure. “Go grab something to eat, you’re coming with us. We could use your eyes.”

    Archimedes flew off in pursuit of his meal and I proceeded to get dressed. After SB helped me don my armor, he and I walked outside to the formation. I informed First Sergeant and Lieutenant about the change of location and First Sergeant had Rakkas open up a portal to the new destination. After we had all jumped through the portal, First Sergeant had everyone form up once more. I did a quick assessment of everyone’s arms and armor and we proceeded down the hill towards the beach in Southern Solzreed.

    As we marched down towards the beach, the smell of saltwater assaulted our nostrils while the cool ocean breeze caressed our faces, reminding some of the Brothers of easier times. We could see, near the beach, the Merchant Ship belonging to The Immortals that we would be boarding. Arriving at the beach, First Sergeant had everyone get into formation once more as the Lieutenant and I went to go speak with the Client.

    Several moments later, we approached the formation and I gave The Brothers in attendance the skinny of what was going on.

    “Brothers, we’re here to escort this ship to Freedich Island. As you are all aware, Freedich is a hive of scum and villainy. The Immortals hired the best, so let’s not let them down. Standby for the word to load up on the vessel,” I turned to First Sergeant “we’re going to need a scout element for this Contract. Put two people on a Harpoon Clipper and have them scout ahead for us.”

    Rakkas and Sanariel were chosen as scouts and Sanariel, or Santa as we called him, summoned his Clipper from the Void. The portal opened, and the Harpoon Clipper came gliding across the waves, the Death’s Head on the sails flapping in the ocean breeze. The Clipper, or Harpoon Clipper in this case, was the smallest boat that the Company could crew. Easily built, not too expensive and could carry a crew of roughly five people comfortably. What made the Harpoon Clipper special was the harpoon mounted on the bow of the ship, which allowed us to fire a harpoon into a hostile ship’s hull and either pull them closer to us for engagement, or pull them out of safe waters and into hostile waters, or even to halt their advance.

    Santa took the helm while Rakkas took his station at the Fore Harpoon. I gave them clearance to shove off ahead of us to get a head start, and told Archimedes to ride with them and relay any intel back to me. The Clipper and my owl were soon out of sight and the Client sounded the whistle to load up.

    We waited around on deck for roughly fifteen minutes before the Client approached and told me that we were just waiting on his allies from The Black Shields. Fifteen minutes later, The Black Shields showed up with their ‘armada’ of a Merchant Ship, Eznan Cutter and a Harpoon Clipper. The Company had seen Merchant Ships and Harpoon Clippers before, but the presence of the Eznan Cutter caused us all to have our mouths agape.

    The Cutter was the closest thing to a Galley that we had seen so far in this land. Compared to the Merchant Ship we were on now, the Cutter was gargantuan. She packed enough firepower to scare off all but the ballsiest of hostiles and with the right crew, would be a formidable opponent. I made the decision right then and there to get everyone’s ass in overdrive so that we could get our own Eznan Cutter as soon as possible. I longed to be aboard the Cutter as opposed to the Merchant Ship, but the Client asked that we remain on his ship.

    As The Black Shields were close to complete with loading their Trade Packs, Archimedes came diving in and landed on a railing next to me. “Scouts are engaged by a Cutter, Captain. Rakkas and Sanariel are luring them away. Any further orders?”

    I had no further orders and sent Archimedes back to the scout vessel. Five minutes passed and The Black Shields, The Immortals and thus, The Black Company, had finally shoved off towards our destination. First Sergeant was near the bow of the ship, manning the binoculars and calling out any sails seen on the horizon, of which there were none.

    I had stood next to our Client who was manning the helm and Laotzu, the ever-faithful Standard-Bearer, stood within arms reach of me. The Lieutenant and Delyn were conversing about whatever married people talk about. Aye, that’s right, the Lieutenant found himself a woman, and she was in The Company no less. Recruits Sprigun and Tempa were talking among themselves and it appeared that Tempa was showing Sprigun how to properly draw a bow and loose an arrow. Watching Tempa, the massive seven foot man, give instruction to Sprigun was comical to say the least. Sprigun was the shortest of the Company and seeing him standing next to Tempa, the tallest, was a sight to behold. Sprigun wasn’t a dwarf, by any means, but he was just smaller than the rest of us.

    Several long and painful hours of nothingness had passed before I heard the First Sergeant call out that there was land ahead. Within thirty minutes, we would be on the beach and pulling a security detail while the ships got unloaded. It was the longest thirty minutes of our lives.

    Archimedes arrived next to me once more, asking for orders for the scouts. I told him to tell the scouts to despawn the Clipper and hop aboard the Merchant Ship with us. When Rakkas and Santa were aboard, I called the Company over to me to give a final brief. 

    “Alright, Rakkas and Santa have confirmed, and I’m sure you all can hear, that there is fighting on the beach. One of The Immortals’ allies, Radiant Dawn, have engaged a rather large force of Haranyan pirates right where we’re going to land,” I looked to the Lieutenant “make sure that the packs get loaded up onto the carts quicker than humanly possible. Company quick.”

    I continued, “First Sergeant, make sure everyone knows what to do when we hit the beach. I want weapons out and ready to go. We are more than likely going to take contact. Get your heads in the game, Company. We’re not playing around anymore. Earn your gold.”

    The Merchant Ship quickly arrived at the beach and The Black Company rushed off and onto the sand in the typical patrol formation we were so used to. First Sergeant called for everyone to form a picket around the carts as they were being loaded up. 

    The sound of metal on metal and the casting of spells could be seen and heard by all of us. It made us anxious to get into the fight, but our sole purpose was to protect these two Farm Carts and the Trade Packs within. In the time it took The Immortals to load up all the packs, with the Lieutenant chomping at their heels, Radient Dawn’s defense of the beach had begun to wane. We had to get these carts moving, and quick. 

    The Client sounded the horn and the Farm Carts were kicked into overdrive with Eco-Fuel. The Black Company maintained a mounted formation around the carts as they sped towards their destination; the center of Freedich Island. We escorted the carts, up the beach, through a chokepoint flanked on two sides by large hills and into a jungle. I stood off to the side and allowed The Company and the carts to go ahead of me, so I could keep an eye on Radiant Dawn’s progress of holding the beach. They were doing well enough, for they had some of their numbers at the center of the island as well. 

    The carts arrived at their destination and The Immortals, Black Shiels and Radiant Dawn began to unload the Packs, turn them in and receive their receipts. It was at this moment that the Client approached me and tossed a bag of gold at me. As I caught it, I could hear someone yell that enemies were incoming. I looked up just in time to see a wave of pirates flood out of the jungle and into the clearing, where we were.

    I drew steel. A reassuring pat on my shoulder; SB. The sound of an arrow being notched; Tempa. The authoritarian barking of orders; First Sergeant.

    I turned my head slightly to see what The Immortals, Black Shields and Radiant Dawn were doing. Most had run for their lives, diving through open portals to lands of safety. Fucking cowards. Our Client and his officers stayed, standing behind us, but stayed nonetheless. I turned back to face the wave of enemies. This was it. This is what we get paid for.

    I raised my sword high into the sky. I looked from left to right along our line and saw the eagerness of The Black Company to draw blood. I faced our enemies and brought my sword down.



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