Uthgar hurt. It had been a long time since he had taken a beating such as the one he found himself in. Fighting back had apparently only made it worse. The guards at this prison had tempers and didn’t take kindly to those deemed as traitors. Even on Uthgar’s execution day, they hadn’t made an exception.
The guards had hauled him out of his cell after they administered their beating. Now the prisoner sat in an hard wooden chair, his hands bound behind his back. He wasn’t alone either. The prison warden sat across from him behind a rough hewn table. Two prison guards remained in the room as well.
The warden was an older man. White hair crowned his skull, sharp hooked nose and dark eyes. Uthgar had never met the man before, and figured this was an honor.
The warden tapped a parchment that lay on the table with his finger.
“Former Sergeant Uthgar Redarm. Convicted of murdering a superior officer and treason. Sentenced to death.”
Uthgar wouldn’t have glared if his eyes were swollen from his beating. It didn’t matter to the army or the law that the superior officer had been an idiot and deserved what he got.
“The asshole deserved it” spat Uthgar.
The warden looked up and narrowed his eyes. Uthgar was beginning to suspect something was afoot. You don’t drag someone on death row into an interview. You just send them to the block
“Rather or not that was true, assaulting the office in question is paramount to treason, let alone beating him to death.”
“Then get on with it. The headsman must be busy if we’re having this discussion.”
The warden frowned. He then sighed heavily and interlocked his hands in front of him.
“Straight and to the point. Almost like you rather see the headsman. Very well…”
The warden unfurled a scroll and began to read:
“By the high order of Emperor Tullius the First, of House Blackwell do hereby issue Imperial Edict XXVII on the year 942 FE. the reinstatement and reformation of the Prisoner Assignment and Reformation program to be given to select convicted parties. If convicted parties agree to terms, there sentences will be commuted into military service under the banner of the Black Company. They will submit to the Brand, and once their term of service is sufficiently served, the convicted parties will be pardoned of current crimes. If convicted parties refuse, then their sentence is carried out as normal.”
The Black Company. That would explain the guards displeasure thought Uthgar.
“Considering your service, someone thinks you are better off with your head attached. Personally, I send the lot of you to the block.”
The warden nodded to the guards behind Uthgar. A few swords were drawn and a moment late, the bindings holding the ex-soldiers arms were loosened. Meanwhile, the warden produced a form, pen and quill, and sled them across the table to towards Uthgar.
“Your reenlistment terms if you should so choose. Otherwise the headsman is waiting.”
Uthgar glanced left and right, noting the guards were grim faced. They looked ready to cut him down if he tried anything foolish. While flexing his sore wrists, he took a moment to reflect. The Black Company he had heard of. It was always spoken with disdain and such by some of the older veterans. Always comprising the worst of the worse, they were used in the those near impossible situations without regard to causality rates. The companies were a death sentence in their own right. Yet...there was some glory in it.
The ex-soldier looked over the parchment. It was more of the same of what had been read out loud. But it had a place to sign. It was the contract and pledge of the Black Company. Uthgar took the quill.
“Who wants to live forever, “ he murmured as he signed his name.
“Indeed, “ replied the warden. He nodded to the guards. One quickly advanced and before Uthgar had a chance to react, he was clubbed unconscious by the pummel of the sword.
The warden took the signed parchment to file away and sighed. It was going to be a long day and very few would probably see the headsman.
“Take him to the barge, and bring the next prisoner.”