BC: Second Chances [Story]

Convicted Murderers, Thieves, and pirates. They all have a propensity towards violence. Something that the Empire of Khodar needs in its struggle against the Thelmor Dominion. As a convicted criminal, you are given the choice. Serve in the army for a chance at freedom or go to headsman. Wanting to live, you choose the former and enter the world of the Black Company.

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BC: Second Chances [Story]

Postby Herzog » Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:21 am

The Choice

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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 the burly man out of his cell after they administered their beating. Now the prisoner sat in an hard wooden chair, his hands bound behind his back. Curly brown shoulder length hair hung over his face blocking his initial view of the room. Jerking his head, Uthgar swished the unkempt hair out of his swollen eyes and looked out. As a prisoner, he wasn't afforded the luxury of keeping his hair and matching beard in check.

Utghar saw he wasn’t alone. The prison warden sat across from him behind a rough wooden table. His face stern and expressionless. The warden was an older man with white hair crowning his skull, a sharp hooked nose and dark eyes. Uthgar had never met the man before, and figured this was an honor. Two prison guards remained in the room as well. Displeasure was painted over their faces.

The rest of the room was rather utilitarian. Stone walls with no decorations and a single barred window. One of the interrogation rooms it seems.

The warden tapped a parchment that lay on the table with his finger bringing the prisoners attention back to the center.

“Uthgar Redarm, former Sergeant in the His Majesty's Imperial Army. Convicted of murdering a superior officer and treason. Sentenced to death.”

Uthgar would have glared if his eyes weren't so 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, but kept his expression under control. 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 officer 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 guard's displeasure thought Uthgar. To them, it must be paramount to a pardon. No matter that the Black Company was a death sentence in it's own right. The former sergeant had heard the stories. Not to mention the current war with the Dominion. What better way to empty the prisons in times of war then to use the prisoners as fodder.

The warden continued, “Considering your previous service to the army, 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. He had heard the tales about the company. It was always spoken with disdain and such by some of the older veterans. It may have been decades since the Black Company's banner flew, but there were those still living and serving in the army that remembered. Always comprising the worst of the worse, the former prisoners were used in the those near impossible situations without regard to causality rates. The Black Companies were a death sentence in their own right. Yet...there was some glory in it.

Ah, but there was the Brand. The arcane yoke to keep the Black Company in check. It forever marked even if one served their sentence in the Black Company. Uthgar struggled with that thought, but it was short lived. Better to live marked with a chance to survive than die today.

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 the Mages, and bring the next prisoner.”
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Re: BC: Second Chances [Story]

Postby Herzog » Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:29 pm

The Brand - WIP

Ugthar's head lolled about as he swam back to consciousness and fought a wave of nausea from being clubbed in the head. His arms hurt as the two guards dragged him by the armpits through the prison corridors. The prisoner felt his wrists were once again bound. Not that he was in any condition to put up a fight. Uthgar's body hurt all over from the early morning beating. Cracking his eyes proved that his vision still swam about, but soon cleared up a few moments.

"If you stop briefly, I can make this easier on all of us and walk on my own two legs, " Uthgar grumbled to his escort. He had been trying to get his feet underneath him for the last minute, but the pace of the guards made it rather difficult.

"Shut up you!" snapped one of the guards.

But they did pause long enough for Uthgar to scramble his feet and stand. He let out sigh of relief that was quickly stiffled as the guards shoved him along the corridor. Even though Uthgar wasn't burdening the pair of escorts, they didn't feel an obligation to return any favors.

Before too long all three of them came to a stop in front of wooden door. From the the glimpsing around, Uthgar found that they had entered one of the guard rooms outside the prison infirmary. The closest to outside of the prison complex Uthgar had been since he arrived. He could actually smell the offal from the prison river docks, instead of the moldiness of the prison cells. It was a hint of freedom despite the rank odar.

Uthgar's pondering were interrupted by a screaming that emanated behind the closed door. The sound was short lived, but it still made the prisoner cringe. The scream was that of a deep primal scream of pain. Oh the ex-solider had enough battle experience to recall those screams of the wounded and dying, but this was something a bit more intense. It reminded him of the screams of a wounded animal, and yet that animal was likely a person.

Suddenly, door opened and sobbing prisoner was dragged out by two other guards. Uthgar's eyes widen at the sight of the ugly fresh Brand on other prisoner's hand. There was also a whiff of burning flesh. Uthgar's eyes followed the poor man's sobbing form as it was dragged out of the guard room and into the infirmary's wards. Uthgar was quick to figure out the scene. This is where they were Branding the "volunteers" for the Black Company.
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