In the ranks of the Yenvark Union, recruitment is a constant necessity for any company that wishes to survive. Bryce and Liarie know this all too well as they begin the next stage of their plans. Fortunate for them actions speak louder then words.
The featured art was done by Mattias and you can see more of his work here – website.
The editing was done by Luke Thompson and here is his – website.
The Union’s method of distributing firearms is quite interesting. The acolytes, and in some cases even the companies themselves, are given the freedom to choose which weapons they purchase, which results in the Union army using a wide assortment of weapons. And this isn’t limited to weapons produced within the Union, as some companies choose weapons they’ve obtained by trading with neighboring nations to their west and across the sea to distant continents. If a Lead with enough money earned from battle wants his entire company to be fitted with Algadah rifles, then he can. Such an expensive venture would be incredibly rare, but it very well could happen in the chaotic inconsistency of the Union.
-Fargil Alluha, The Different Firearms of the Great Nations
The distant artillery rumbled, the impacts close enough to even shake the ground that Liarie stood on. All around, the camp was filled with the life of soldiers, workers, and medical staff going about their business. A pair of trucks sat at the heart of the encampment, supplies being unloaded and carried over to tents half-full of the wounded. The cries of agony that filled the camp a few days ago had now calmed to a dull quiet only punctuated by fresh casualties caused in the previous night of artillery and small raiding parties. The horrid rotting smell of the trenches carried in by the gusts of wind that swept through. The trenches themselves were too far to be seen and further blocked by the hills that surrounded the camp, sheltering it from any long-range artillery that happened to get into position.
Liarie walked down the center, her turquoise dress billowing around her knees in the breeze. The rising sun above was partially concealed by clouds. The calling of a bird overhead drew her attention, looking up she saw a purple wingspan soar by. Her ears flicked at another bird call as a few more passed overhead, going south toward the trenches. The migration’s begun. How many will perish in crossing the front lines?
A honk took her out of her thoughts, and she turned to see one of the trucks which had been unloaded starting to depart. She headed for the side of the path with the uniformed soldiers as the truck went by, kicking up dirt in its wake before turning to go by a row of tents to avoid getting her dress dirtied as she hurried towards the grouping of wooden structures at the heart of the camp.
She felt eyes on her, studying her outfit in confused wonderment. Liarie paid little heed to the men and women, more focused on reaching the large cabin adorned with a blue banner depicting an intricate stag horn. She went down the organized rows before finally reaching the steps. Hopping up, she pushed through the door without knocking.
The space was lit by white rune lights placed behind transparent glass along the ceiling to help spread the light out evenly. Small window slits went along the top of the wall helping combat a claustrophobic feel. Five unfolded worktables sat around the room, one covered in maps while the others were covered with equipment ranging from armor plates to empty clips and magazines ready to be loaded. An ashy smell filtered in the air, the source a cigarette between Hendrick’s index and middle fingers.
“Hendrick!” she snapped.
In an instant, the man came to attention and shoved the cigarette into the table, leaving a scorch mark. “Terribly sorry, Lady Majes!”
“Poor Hendrick, caught red-handed!” Zel laughed from across the table, empty clip in his hand that he should have been loading with bullets.
Roy sitting beside Zel nervously chuckled at the remark, his hands struggling to slide the last bullet into the magazine he was loading.
Walking over, Vonna slammed her hand on the table startling Zel from his chair while Roy dropped the bullet he was shoving into the magazine, the bullet landing with a thump. “Focus on loading!” she hissed while dropping another package filled with empty clips. “Sorry, Lady Majes.” She said with a quick salute to Liarie before returning to her own table to resume working on unpacking various boxes stacked in the corner.
“It is okay.” Liarie waved her hand to dissipate the ashy smell in the room, as she heard a snicker and looked back to see Theodore and Earl sitting in a back corner diligently working on cleaning their rifles sprawled across the table. “I expected as much upon my entrance.”
“The smell isn’t that bad. Stop being so dramatic,” Hendrick said.
“Speak for yourself, Hendrick! The fair lady is obviously disturbed by it!” Earl called from his shadowed corner.
“Who said you can talk?” Hendrick replied.
“He speaks the truth, please take that filthy habit of yours outside,” Liarie cut in.
“Alright,” Hendrick replied with a defeated nod and returned to his work loading a magazine. “I assume you’re here to talk to Bryce, he’s in his office.”
“Thank you,” Liarie replied and walked past the group towards the door at the back of the room. With a gentle knock she waited.
Opening the door, Liarie walked in to see Bryce at a desk pushed against the wall with a second desk across from him. The two desks were covered in a large map expanding across both with documents layered on top. A mug of coffee was beside him, his eyes on the map with intense focus. On the other side of the room sat three wooden chairs, one of which had boxes stacked on it with even more boxes behind taking up the last of the free space in the room. The thin walkway Liarie stood in led to the back where two doors went into private quarters for sleeping. With the amount of stuff crowding the room, the thin window slits in the wall did little to fight back Liarie’s claustrophobia. What a poorly designed space. She took a deep breath and shook her head, trying to rid herself of the feeling.
She looked back to Bryce, “Gave up with resting?” Liarie asked, closing the door behind her, and walked over to take a seat in the worn, cushioned chair across from him. The tight feeling of the room seemed to lighten slightly once she was able to sit.
“I think I’ve laid around long enough.” He looked up to study her expression. “It seems you’re well rested too, that lively color of yours has returned to your cheeks.”
“Do you think so?” Liarie lightly touching her cheeks. “I have been unable to check since my pocket mirror broke in the trenches.”
“They’re just as colorful as your hair.”
“That’s fortunate.” She smiled with a slight blush and looked towards the documents before him. “What are you reading?”
“A boring document summarizing our order of supplies.” He placed the paper on the stack and leaned back in his chair.
“Is it all accounted for?”
“Yes, seems like it.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “At the expense of my sight. It honestly makes me wonder if the Ministry try to make the font as small as possible to get at us Leads.”
“I doubt it,” Liarie replied picking up one of the documents to scan its small font. Details of number of weapons and their ammunition divided by type, small explosives, ration bars, and a whole slew of other supplies ordered was listed down the page. She looked over at the stack of paper, “It is amazing how little can be said on so much paper.”
“Tell me about it,” Bryce groaned and took a sip of his coffee. “Any sign of Quil returning?”
“It should be soon.”
“Good.” Bryce pushed the stacks of papers to the side to get a clearer view of the map beneath. “I’ve been thinking about that dark place when we encountered Guidance. He had to use magic to communicate with us, right?”
“How else would he?”
“Right, so how far could he have been from us when we talked?” Bryce tapped his finger on the small-town symbol indicating Bosavan’s location.
“He could be in many places.”
Bryce slid his finger in expanding circles around the town. “Just give me an estimate. Are we talking this big of a circle? How about this big? The whole region?”
“We have to consider that he may have access to additional magic beyond his body’s capabilities. If he had a concentrated soul that may double the distance.”
“Let’s assume he had no help, just his own magic.”
Liarie looked to the Primordial Tower’s location at the center of the map.
“Don’t tell me he could be at the tower! That’s over three hundred and fifty kilometers!”
She looked up at his wide glare and gave a gentle laugh. “There is no telling what lays within the tower, it is possible he could be there, but…” She leaned closer to the map, “I’d estimate at most thirty kilometers.”
“That much still?”
“He is a Tal’ithian. Their blood is well tuned to magic more so than you or even I.” She scanned the locations around Bosavan seeing no location names standing out as a likely place. “Supposedly Tal’ithian’s are descendants of the Primordials.”
“And it’s been well over a week since we spoke to him, who knows where he could be now.” Bryce groaned.
“We know for certain he would not dare enter Luncal’sha Kingdom land. Their hatred for Tal’ithian’s after the last tower is unquestionable.” Liarie leaned in the chair, arching her back in a long stretch. “Either way…” She let the chair fall back onto its four legs as she finished her stretch. “The area to search for him is far and wide we need to look for information in other ways.”
“What if you used the soul we captured to enhance your magic and reach out for him?”
“I thought of it already and it is a fantastic idea.” She shrugged. “Except for one problem.”
“Let me guess, if you did it would have used up all the magic?”
“Not all, but without a doubt it would be weakened and thus no machine.” She watched him take another sip of his coffee, her own thirst growing as she reached down along her belt for her canteen. “I know you would care little; however, my sister would have protested, and I do think a war machine will pay off for us in some way.”
“But if we could find Guidance…”
Liarie drank from her canteen of water before she replied, “If’ is the key word, my dear. I do not believe we should waste this soul on an if.”
Bryce nodded his head, “You’re right. Still, the sooner we find him the better. The damage that trench battle did to us is more than just losing Chapman.” He placed a hand on his chest to squeeze something hidden beneath his collared shirt. “I fear if we stick around with no visible plans than we’ll get dragged into more suicidal operations.”
“An unfortunate truth. We should head for the Bosakil front that is soon to develop after retrieving the warmachine. It is near our last sighting of Guidance, it might be our best bet to find a clue to his whereabouts.”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking.” Bryce dug through more papers before settling on one hanging half off the table. It was covered in scribbled names, some crossed off and others circled with lots of other information written in. “And I think it’s the plan we’ll go with as long as at least one acolyte who takes charge is someone we can work with. I can’t handle dealing with another Randalk.”
“Are you not concerned about what Randalk will say if you position yourself with another acolyte?”
“Whatever happens it can’t be worse than the spot we’re in right now.” Bryce scanned the paper. “It’s honestly something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now. I asked a few different Leads before our journey into Bosakil about some other acolytes. One in particular stood out, Acolyte Hill. I think he would work great for us.”
“Do you have others in case Hill does not join the Bosakil front?”
“There’s a few, but I think I’d prefer Hill. He’s new to being an acolyte and, from what I heard, is easy to work with and open to ideas. With him I think we’ll have a lot more freedom to maneuver our way to what we need.”
“It all sounds well and good.” Liarie crossed her legs and brushed a strand of hair back behind her ear. “Keep the other acolytes in mind just in case.”
“Of course, knowing our luck Hill will suddenly die just as we get close.” Bryce chuckled.
A new acolyte, might be the best choice, but will Quil agree with it? She nervously rubbed her hands together. That conversation with her will most certainly go poorly. A knock on the door disturbed Liarie out of her thoughts. She turned and saw Hendrick poking his head in.
“Lead, you have some guests,” Hendrick said.
“What do they want?” Bryce asked.
“They’re looking to join up with us.”
“Is that so?” Bryce smiled.
“That’s most excellent news!” Liarie exclaimed and looked to Bryce. “We should speak with them!”
“Definitely,” Bryce replied and stood up motioning to the crates in the corner. “Can you get Zel and Roy in here to move these crates out so they can start unloading them? They’ve sat in the way long enough.”
Hendrick nodded and leaned back into the room behind him, “Roy, Zel, finish loading your last clips and get in here! Got some heavy lifting for the both of you!”
Liarie shook her head at the curse that Zel made, muffled by the wall dividing the two rooms.
“How many is it, Hendrick?” Bryce asked.
“Just two. However, they mentioned there may be a couple more showing up. From the sounds of it they were all having lunch and got to talking.” Hendrick stepped to the side to hold the door open while Zel and Roy marched into the cramped room.
“It seems a success of ours has paid off, hopefully it’ll gift us with more recruits after these initial four,” Liarie said.
“I wonder what we did as I don’t consider the trench as a real success,” Bryce grumbled and pointed at the crates. “These crates, carry them out to Vonna so she can start to unload them.”
“Yes, Lead!” Roy gave an over dramatic salute and got to work eagerly reaching for a crate that he struggled to carry out.
“I bet you they’re joining ‘cause of my handsome charm, especially the girl, she’s got the hots for me.” Zel gave a big grin.
“What happened to Vonna?” Bryce asked.
“Oh, come on, Lead, don’t encourage him!” Hendrick said.
“She’s always criticizing me, a guy can only take so much, you know what I mean, Lead?”
“Not at all.” Bryce chuckled and slapped a crate. “Now get to moving so our guests have some room to sit.”
“Yes, Lead,” Zel said giving a half-hearted salute before lifting a crate himself and puffing air as he did it. “By the Gods what are in these, Lead!”
“More explosives, don’t drop them!”
“Are we trying to blow up the Tower ourselves?”
“No, but a great idea, maybe we’ll send you off to do it.” Hendrick smiled and patted Zel’s shoulder as he passed.
“No, thank you!” he exclaimed before hurrying along as the crate became harder to bear.
Bryce settled back in his chair and began to organize the scattered papers into neat stacks.
“You human men are hard to keep up with,” Liarie said, having watched much of the exchange with wide curious eyes.
“In what way?” Hendrick asked squeezing against the doorway as Roy and Zel passed back through for another trip.
“Just… I wonder how you all keep a sense about what you speak. Half of it seems like a joke.”
“Because it is, especially when you got a poor comedian like Zel here.” Hendrick chuckled as Zel passed by straining with another crate. “Ahh, poor kid is struggling too much to have another come back.”
Liarie sighed and placed her elbow on the table’s edge to rest her head against her hand. “It’s honestly exhausting.”
“Just the typical banter, no need to worry yourself about it, Lady Majes,” Hendrick said, shifting again as Zel and Roy walked in to grab the final two crates.
“At least I am a comedian, unlike you Hendrick,” Zel said, passing back into the main room.
“Ah, there’s the comeback I was waiting for.” Hendrick chuckled and stood back in the doorway after both boys had passed. “Ready for me to send the first two in, Lead?”
“Yes, definitely!” Bryce replied having finished organizing the documents in three stacks and rolling up the map to lean in the corner.
With a nod, Hendrick closed the door and walked away, the wood creaking under his footsteps as he went.
Liarie let out a yawn and straightened herself to face Bryce. “Hopefully they have some experience, I do not believe we should risk taking on recruits, Hendrick is tied up already having to train Roy.”
“Agreed,” Bryce said and leaned forward to rest his elbows on the table and clasp his hands together. “I have a good feeling though.”
“Oh? What’s giving you that?”
“Well, we’ve already gotten shot up how many times in the last battle, how much more shit can we get into? Surely we’ll get some good luck now.”
“Excellent optimism, I like it.” She smiled to him and reached over to run her fingers along his rough hands. “I wish you would have it more often.”
“It comes easier when you’re around.” He returned her smile and gently took hold of her hand, squeezing it reassuringly.
The creaks of approaching footsteps alerted them as Liarie pulled away. Such blissful moments, why must they always be so short? She forced her heartache away at the sound of the door opening. Turning in her chair she saw Hendrick open the door and step to the side giving space for the two youths to walk in. Both gave salutes with fists over their heart.
Bryce stood and returned the salute. “I’m Lead Bryce Coduire and who might you two be?”
Following Bryce’s lead in standing, Liarie felt a wave of nausea hit her. More people in this cramped space… can’t we have this meeting outside?
“I am Jacob Mits, Lead,” the dirty blond-haired boy said with a smile. His coat and pants seemed a size too small.
“And my name is Rachel Sandlyn,” the red-haired girl added with a twinkle of excitement in her eyes. Her body shivered at having to move as if she was in pain from something.
“Welcome, Jacob and Rachel.” He waved his hand towards Liarie. “This here is my familiar, Liarie Majes.”
“It’s great to meet you two.” Liarie forced a smile, hiding her sick feeling, and gave a salute of her own.
“And I assume Hendrick already introduced himself?”
“Yep, all the pleasantries, Lead. I’ll leave you all to it then,” Hendrick said as he started to close the door.
“Take a seat the both of you.” Bryce motioned to the extra chairs. “Hendrick I want you to sit in on this too.”
“Oh, sure thing, Lead.” Hendrick stepped back into the room and closed the door before dragging one of the chairs to the side to face the two new recruits as they took their own seats.
Settling back in her chair, Liarie closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to rid herself of the sick feeling. Looking up again, Liarie crossed her legs, relaxing in the chair, and began to study the two individuals before her with keen eyes. Both are older than Chapman and Roy, but not by much. Hopefully, there is some sort of experience behind them. Liarie looked over to Bryce waiting for him to ask the first question.
“I’ll cut to the point.” Bryce sat back in his chair with arms crossed. “What reason do you two have for joining our company?”
“Well,” Rachel began nervously, placing a hand on her stomach.
“We wanted to fight with you as a way of saying thank you,” Jacob finished for her. He reached for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “It’s thanks to you that Rachel is alive right now.”
“You saved her?” Liarie asked Bryce, “When did this occur?”
“I’m trying to remember,” Bryce rubbed at his forehead and closed his eyes. “I vaguely remember seeing you two somewhere…”
“It was in the trenches, you looked like death with all the mud and blood covering you, but you still helped,” Jacob said.
Bryce came to full attention. “I remember now! It was when we were retreating to our lines. I’m surprised you’re even walking right now, Rachel.”
“Yes, well, there were lots of other wounded,” she said shyly with eyes cast down, her hand gently rubbing her stomach. “And, well, you had closed much of it, so the nurses rushed me along. I’m just sore still.”
“I’m glad my magic worked so well. Typically, Liarie is doing the healing.” Bryce reached for his cup to drink more of the coffee. “Though I don’t want you two to join just because you feel indebted to me.”
“It’s not just that.” Jacob leaned forward. “Watching you two, along with some of your company soldiers, set off those ammunition crates and with such coordination allowing us all to retreat was truly incredible!” His words nearly tumbled over one another as he spoke excitedly. “A chance to work with a company Lead who is at the front himself is so exciting and inspiring! I knew watching you fight that I wanted to follow you, and Rachel said the same thing to me after our Lead had abandoned us.”
Rachel nodded her head with a smile.
Liarie looked over to Bryce and could see him trying to hide a smile. We’ve left quite the impression, haven’t we, my love?”
“It was a mistake to ever fight for Lead Gilford. He sent us to the slaughter while staying comfortable in the back,” Jacob continued.
Bryce frowned and brought the cup back up to hide his expression.
Gilford, of course. She looked over at Hendrick, who was grimacing as he reached for a cigarette. You better not, Hendrick. This room is tight enough as it is, we don’t need that disgusting ash clogging it up! Her fingers itched, ready to reach across the space to slap Hendrick.
“We know joining your company is the right decision and that Yenvark is behind you in every way just as they fought in the legends with their comrades!” Jacob finished; his face flushed as he realized how loud he had been. Clearing his throat, he leaned back in his chair and exchanged a loving look and smile with Rachel. “Lead Coduire, will you let us fight with you?”
Bryce placed the cup down, now empty. “Yes, I gladly accept both of your requests.”
Jacob and Rachel both lit up; Jacob stood with Rachel following suit. “Thank you, Lead!”
“Lead, you sure ab—,” Hendrick began.
“Hendrick, relax,” Bryce cut him off and stood up as well to shake Jacob’s hand then did the same with Rachel. “I’m glad I was able to help you two out in that bloody mess.”
“What can we do first, Lead?” Rachel asked.
Liarie observed Hendrick with his arms crossed, tapping his foot. I agree, Hendrick, what will this spell out for us with Gilford?
“First do you have all of your gear?”
“Yes, we brought it with us, the packs are out there with the others.” Jacob nodded to the room next door.
“Good, head out there and tell Herra that you two are new recruits and she’ll get you set up with your quarters and replenish any gear you need.”
“Thank you again, Lead.” Rachel smiled. “We told two of our friends, they should show up soon, hopefully.”
“Sounds good, we can talk more later, for now I need to talk to Hendrick and Majes about some business,” Bryce said, motioning to the doorway for the two new recruits.
“Thanks, Lead!” Jacob said before opening the door for Rachel.
“Oh, and Jacob.”
“Tell Herra to get you fitted out for a new uniform; you obviously outgrew your last set.”
“Thank you, I’ve been asking for a refit for a while now from Gilford.”
“Well, you’re finally getting it,” Bryce said, waving him off.
Liarie watched the door close, and Bryce settle back into his seat. She looked to Hendrick waiting for his response to the situation.
Just as Bryce sat, as if on cue, Hendrick spoke up. “Are you sure about this, Lead? They’re both from Gilford’s company; he’ll accuse us of stealing recruits!”
Bryce picked up the coffee cup, remembered it was empty, and placed it back down with a heavy sigh. “I’m fully aware of that.”
“Then what are you doing? Trying to pick a fight?”
“We need the recruits. Isn’t that right, Liarie?”
“Yes, that is correct.” She nodded. “There is another reason; speak it so you can lay Hendrick’s concerns to rest.”
“What’s she talking about?” Hendrick asked.
A cry of excitement from Herra in the other room echoed into theirs along with Zel cracking a joke, muffled by the walls.
“What’s that all about?” Liarie asked.
“The news of Jacob and Rachel joining us I assume,” Bryce said with a yawn. “Herra and Zel were there when I saved Rachel.” Bryce looked back at the map as if reassuring himself that it was still there. “As for your question, Hendrick, I’ve been thinking that our current position working for the acolytes in this region, in particular with Randalk, isn’t paying off.”
“A move? Are you sure about this? What about our reputation?”
“It’ll suffer.” Bryce shrugged and leaned back in his chair with crossed arms. “All the better we take any recruits now before we set off.”
“You’ve already made up your mind.” Hendrick took the cigarette from his lips to roll it between his fingers, his foot tapping faster. “Did you know about this, Liarie?”
“I learnt it not long before you,” she replied and leaned forward to tap the table to get Bryce’s attention. “There is another reason.”
“Oh?” Hendrick asked.
“Yea, by joining up with another acolyte on the Bosakil front we should have more freedom to grow in strength while hunting for clues on the whereabouts of Guidance,” Bryce closed his eyes and crossed his legs as he leaned back further tipping the chair.
“What he fails to speak is that he debated on going through with this plan based on which acolyte, but it seems he made a final decision. Isn’t that right?”
“You could say that,” Bryce said with a yawn. “Telling you about it made me realize just how good of a plan it is so we’re doing it.”
“Going out on a whim, eh?” Hendrick said with a chuckle. “Alright, nothing new there.” He stood and began to head for the door. “I’m going to go have a smoke.”
“Outside, yes?” Liarie piped up.
“Yes, outside, my lady,” he growled. “I’ll return with the other two recruits if they show up.”
“A wonderful plan, Hendrick. see you soon.” Liarie smiled, oblivious to his angry response.
Once the door had closed behind Henrick, Liarie looked over to Bryce who still had his eyes closed, the chair tipped further so the back was resting against the wall. “I do hope you are right about this plan. I fear we may get a worse acolyte then Randalk.”
“There’s a chance, but at this point, if we stay here, we’re sure to die.”
“Of course.” She frowned.
“Do you not like my idea?” Bryce asked.
She looked up catching a glint of his eye. “No, it isn’t that. I’m worried what Quil will think of it all, especially after she worked to get a warmachine from Randalk.”
“Whatever she thinks it won’t stop me from going through with our move. It’s nothing against her, but I have to think what’s best for the company.”
“I understand.” Liarie stood a nauseous feeling hitting her again. “I’m going to go get some fresh air.”
“You can’t stay here?”
Liarie heard the chair’s four feet tap onto the ground, she glanced back to see his eager eyes. “I’m sorry, Bryce, I’d love to stay, but this cabin is so cramped.”
“I understand, let me come with you then.”
“No, rest. You keep yawning and anyway…” She turned and leaned over the table to whisper to him. “We can’t truly spend time together right now anyway; it’ll have to be later.”
“I suppose you’re right.” He grinned and leaned back in his chair. “Alright, I’ll rest up until the other two are here.”
“Good, see you in a bit.” Liarie turned and opened the door to step out into the main room again.
She quickly walked through the room, the sick feeling growing. Zel and Herra were busy talking excitedly with Jacob and Rachel, everyone else so intent on the conversation that they only gave her a passing glance as she went by. Opening the door to the outside, she was relieved to have made it with no one stopping her. With a deep breath she stepped out to the top step of the wooden platform, her eyes on the blue sky beyond the clouds. Finally.
“Got tired of the indoors?”
“An appropriate description of my feelings,” Liarie replied, looking down to see Hendrick sitting at the edge of the platform to the right of the staircase, a lit cigarette in his hand.
He noticed where she was looking and took the cigarette from his lips, trying to hide it from her sight. “I am smoking outside as you requested.”
“You are.” she sat down to the left of the staircase, away from him. “Just stay downwind of me and I’ll be fine with your distasteful habit.”
“I won’t move from this spot,” Hendrick replied and brought the cigarette back to his lips to take a long drag of it before releasing a plume of smoke pointed away from her.
Liarie leaned back, hands stretched behind her so she could arch her back in a stretch before relaxing altogether. Why must humans deal with such poisons and trap themselves in tight shelters? Being back at home would be a true delight. She lay the rest of the way back along the wooden boards, hooves kicking idly over the platform’s edge. Running through the forest with such gleeful abandon with you, sister. I wish we could do it again. Her hand gently twisted the silver ring around her right index finger, spinning it round and a round. A fey seeking revenge. I still can’t believe what I’m working toward; what would the others say if they saw me now?
“What’s the lady Majes thinking about?” Hendrick asked.
“Idle thoughts,” she replied.
“Nothing in particular?”
“A few particulars.”
“That’s better than none.”
She propped herself on her elbow to get a look of him. “You need to shave,” Liarie said noticing the dark brown scruff covering his face and neck.
“Seriously, that’s what you were thinking about?”
“No, just an observation.”
“Eh, well, I have been meaning to shave.” He scratched his neck of a sudden itch. “Share your thought already.”
“I was thinking about how humans like to enclose themselves in tight shelters and enjoy their poisons liberally.”
Hendrick raised a brow, looked at the cabin, and then around to the neighboring cabins and tents beyond. Taking a long draw from his cigarette, he paused and looked down at it before bursting in a chuckle. “A fair point.”
“I know.” She shook her head and lay back down.
“Is that what’s going in a fey’s head? Thinking about how you’re surrounded by a bunch of fools killing themselves?”
“A sound observation,” Liarie replied.
He chuckled again. “Well finish up with your thoughts for now; we have a couple of guests!”
“Oh? Is that so?” She sat up to look in the direction Hendrick was facing. A pair of youths, one a human boy and another a dark-furred male vlaxon both stopped before the dirt path to wait for a truck to pass by. “Two more youths, we need more veterans.”
“How right you are.” Hendrick spat to the side and dropped his cigarette onto the dirt below. Standing up, he crushed it under his boot and crossed his arms waiting for the human and vlaxon to cross the road.
Standing up herself, Liarie looked the boy up and down. Skinny, shallow eyed, he’s seen enough. Maybe he’ll have more experience than I thought. She turned her focus on the vlaxon and grinned having recognized him. Seems I convinced someone for a change.
The two stopped before Hendrick and Liarie, both saluting.
Hendrick returned the salute, “What brings you two to our humble war cabin?”
“We’re looking for Lead Coduire,” the boy said.
The vlaxon let out a low grumble, “Why are you asking such an idiotic question? This is the place!” The vlaxon looked to Liarie and bowed his head slightly, “I do not know if you remember me, fair Lady, but I am Sir Halgurd of Brakenshaw. I had the fortunate luck of crossing paths with you upon the tactical retreat from the trenches just three days prior.”
“Oh, a friend, Liarie?” Hendrick asked.
“An acquaintance,” Liarie replied and gave a smile to Halgurd. “I do remember you; I am terribly sorry I could not escort you all the way to safety.”
“No need for apology, without you I would have fallen that day with my sword never to be unsheathed again.” He rested his right paw on the hilt of the sword hanging from his belt.
Liarie nodded her head in understanding, “I am very much glad that you did make it in the end. I never gave you my name; it is Liarie Majes and my companion here is Hendrick Adam.” Liarie turned her attention to the boy. “And what might your name be?”
“Samuel Thim, Lady Majes.”
“And what brought you two here this day?” Liarie continued.
“Well,” Samuel said rubbing his short buzzed mohawk. “Herra told me all about your company after Lead Coduire helped me get out of the fight with the Imperials. She said many good things about the company, and I wanted to join… I honestly should have come sooner; she made a convincing argument.”
“Herra recruiting others now?” Hendrick chuckled, “Well, let’s get you both inside and have a talk with the Lead; he’ll make the final decision on if you two can join.”
“Do you think he’ll say, yes? Both of us don’t have many places to go now.”
“Are you both from Gilford’s company?” Hendrick asked.
“You’d be correct, Sir Adam.” Halgurd said.
Liarie laughed, covering her mouth with her hand. “Hendrick, I don’t think Gilford will like us much by end of day.”
Hendrick shook his head. “Guess, you’re right.” He walked up the steps and headed for the door. “Well, let’s get on with it you two.”
“Does that mean… he’ll say yes?” Samuel asked again.
“I think you have an excellent chance,” Liarie replied and waved her hand for Samuel and Halgurd to follow Hendrick into the cabin. She took a deep breath of the clean air before heading for the doorway. Four recruits in one day, such incredible luck. Is Yenvark shining on us this day? If so, I could get used to it.