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Old 12-05-2012, 09:31 PM   #1
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Mercenary In Their Affections

The village of Upper Gralt wasn't altogether a miserable place to spend a winter, but the world had much more to offer than a huddled cluster of quaint stone buildings. The Greater Gralt Valley, where the moderate hamlet was located, was generally out of the way economically. But was occasionally important strategically. This particular winter was one of those occasions.

Captain Silas Connor sat astride his black warhorse as he surveyed the valley and the village nestled in its close corner. His mount was a large charger, black as midnight and a gift from some minor prince from a few seasons back. The stallion was well-trained in martial disciplines that befitted a warhorse, and quite large for his breed. At nearly six and a half feet himself, Captain Connor needed a large horse to avoid looking foolish while riding. And talented warhorses were hard to come by for mercenary captains to begin with so the gift was doubly prized. The Captain himself wore a burnished steel breastplate under a dark cloak. A business-looking rapier was belted at his waist and a brace of wheel-lock pistols hung from his saddle. Hopefully they would all be for show today. The village should acquiesce to their occupation without resistance, most did, but there was always the possibility for an outlier.

"Sir?" The question came from Silas' right.

"Very well Sebastian," Silas responded. "Quickly and efficiently. But let's not spook anyone into doing something rash. Remember, they still outnumber us almost ten to one."


Sebastian was one of those middle-aged professionals that had been fighting wars since he had been a young man. He barked orders with a stern voice that brooked no questions. Over one hundred mercenaries that composed Captain Connor's free company began that determined march down the road into Upper Gralt. They carried an assortment of weapons, mainly halberds and pikes supplemented with swords, axes and hammers. There were also crossbows and muskets, and even a few rare rifles. The men were mainly flankers and skirmishers, but held the grit to do the tough jobs as well. They were followed by a dozen wagons carrying some supplies; foodstuffs, ale, gunpowder and the like. Unfortunately they didn't have enough to see the company through the winter. Which was the second reason the troop had come to Upper Gralt.

Once the company came within eye-sight of the villagers, the muted commotion began. Captain Connor led the column into the center of town where the men began to disperse and then seize the important buildings. The Captain waited in the center of the square, unmoving as a crowd began to form. Eventually a small contingent of village elders coalesced, and stepped forward to approach Silas. One in particular, a short fat man, stepped forward to address the Captain.

"Sir," he began in a small, high-pitched voice, "I'm the burgomeister here in Gralt. My name is Cornish and..."

"I'll speak to you later," Silas cut him off before sliding off his charger. He took a few steps towards the crowd so they could see him better. He had neglected to wear a helmet for just this reason. He waited a moment to let the image sink in.

"Townspeople of Gralt. I am Captain Silas Connor. I know that name doesn't mean anything to you, but you do know who I am and why I am here. My company will be spending the winter in this valley and we are going to share in your accommodations. Thank you for your hospitality." He paused to let that sink in. "In order to ensure peace and stability, I require that you follow all directives that you are given. My officers and I will control my men, but I must insist that you give me no cause to enforce more... stringent... measures to ensure structure. For the moment we are going to be occupying certain buildings within your village. We will also be requisitioning food and supplies. Do not resist. The transition of power will go smoother that way." Silas paused another moment. "For now concern yourself with only two imperatives. First, obey every order my men give you. Second, make no assault on any of my men. Any attack will be met with the swiftest of destruction of the perpetrators. Do no doubt my sincerity." Silas let that sink in as well. "I must also insist upon a curfew after sundown for everyone. Further directives will be forthcoming. Until remain clam, and do as your told."

Silas turned away from the crowd to find Sebastian waiting. "Sir," his second began, "We have all the strongpoints under control." He pointed to a three-storied stone building at the corner of the square. "That is the municipal building, which also doubles as the burgomeisters house. It is secure."

"Thank you Sebastian," Captain Connor replied. His second's terse announcement had answered a lot of questions. He then considered his next order a moment before issuing it, but the look on Sebastian's face indicated he was already expecting it. "Round up the usual volunteers for inspection then." A man like Silas Connor did not indulge in many vices if he expected to live long, but he did remain faithful to those he had.

Silas strode over to the indicated building, with Sebastian pushing Burgomeister Cornish to follow the Captain into his own house. The building was comfortably warm in the chill morning, and Silas had no problem finding an open bottle of wine and a plush chair by the fire. He then turned his attention back to the burgomeister.

"Master Cornish, I don't know how intelligent a man you are but I'm sure you've realized a few things by now. I am generous enough to go over them again just to ensure we're both clear. First, everything in Upper Gralt now belongs to me. My company will winter here in this town until the spring thaw comes and we can depart this valley. Until then we will hold this strategic location against enemy occupation, and we will require food and lodging while we are here. Most of the daily issues I will leave in your hands, but I expect to be kept abreast of all major events. You have leave to inform me of these every morning at 10 o'clock precisely. I will be easy to find because I will be living here. You, of course, will be living somewhere else. Where that will be is left in your hands as well. You may go now." Master Cornish stood there trying to work his jaw, but eventually decided to back outside the door.

"One final thing," Silas said. "Shortly my second-in-command, Officer Sebastian, will be leading a dozen of your village's young women here. One of them will be my housemaid for the duration of my stay. There will be no complaints." With that Captain Connor left the man to find his way out.
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:50 PM   #2
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Rose walked into her new home, the smallest cottage on the outskirts of the village. It had not been her first choice, or second, or third for that matter, but it was all that she could afford the rent of right now. And besides, there wasn't a lot of people who would do business with her.

It was a dusty, dark, smelly old place, the fireplace with a table and a chair by its side, two pots to cook food on and a small bed was all there is was inside the small building. There was only one window and it didn't even have a curtain. Rose was hopeful that she could make the house better soon, it was a very sad sight as of that moment.

She remembered life before, when she was a carefree maiden, with a place at her Father's table, a bed to sleep in even if it had to be shared with her sisters and a place to work at. There had come a time, however, when she had to be pragmatic. Her parents had disowned her and every one else had shut her out, leaving her homeless and lonely. All she had now was her trade and the unrequited love for a nobleman's son.

Peter, the son of an Earl who lived on a nearby town, had seduced her with his beautiful eyes and sweet words, promises of undying love and togetherness for the rest of their lives. He had sworn to marry her, even if it was against his family's wishes. Rose had given him proof of her affection by welcoming him in her arms late one night, sneaking out to meet him. However, lost in passion, desire and love, she had been careless in keeping quiet and they had been caught.

Rose was a seamstress, apart from all the housework a maiden or a woman should know how to do, it was the only thing she was good enough at to make a living from. It couldn't be that hard, could it? Widowers worked on their own all the time, didn't they? And often they had children to raise all alone! So why couldn't a healthy, strong bright, young woman of only 19 such as Rose do it?

Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as Rose thought it would be. Two moons had passed and she was all out of what little money she had managed to bring from her house when she was made to leave. She had planted a few vegetables in a the little square of land that existed behind the land, but knowing nothing about farming, it was an absolute disaster.

People didn't bring her garments to mend, nor did they bring her cloth to turn into clothing. She did not have enough money to buy cloth, food and pay for her rent. People avoided contact with her as if she were a leper, they saw her as unworthy, as tainted by the worst sin a unmarried woman could ever commit.

Rose was sitting by the fire when her landlord knocked on the door, yet again, to collect his rent. He knew she was inside the small little house and he knew she didn't have any money. Still, he knocked on the door every single day, several times a day, trying to collect his due.

Today, however, he did not just ask for his money. He also warned Rose about the invasion of the village and what things were like down there. Rose couldn't help but think that the man must have felt sorry for her. He was as kind as she could expect him to be, he was the only one to let her have a place to stay and did not evict her though her rent was so very late and he was now giving her the news and warning her to be careful and lock her door. Maybe he had had a love affair when he was younger too.
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:56 PM   #3
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