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Forums : Your Characters' Story(s) > A Retired Mercenary. (Teaser)
Sunky (Member) 2/5/2013 2:39 AM EST : A Retired Mercenary. (Teaser)
GP User: okram
Sunky
okram
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The following is the prologue and first chapter of my novel, A Retired Mercenary, featuring Leon and some of my other characters transferred to my own mage-punk fantasy world. You may recognize adaptations of scenes I've written regarding Leon here in this novel as well I hope you enjoy, I am about half-way through my first edit through and then I will be looking for some volunteers willing to read the whole dang thing and offer feedback and would love any takers.

Prologue:

Perhaps this trip had not been a complete waste. The fact that he, a human, was standing on the soil of the elven country known as Insuladom showed just how much the world had changed in the last decade. For as long as he could remember the elven nation had been, at best, isolationist in their attitude towards the rest of the world. At least when they weren't confrontational to what they considered lesser uncivilized races.

But even xenophobia was susceptible to the pursuit of profits. A growing demand for a resource only the elves controlled brought in the unshakable might and power of merchants. The long lived race had thought they didn't need to trade or negotiate with the rest of the world. But then they realized there were nice things out in the world that couldn't be produced at home. Spices, sugar, cotton, metals, and gems. Insuladom's influential citizens never realized they needed such luxuries until the great might of commerce finally broke into the isolated continent. Now they couldn't live without them.

Even after centuries of becoming a hesitant member of global trade the elven kingdom still saw outsiders with suspicion. Those without pointy ears were limited to the port city of Bonuvernum. Entry further into the territory was punishable with immediate deportation. Repeat offenders wouldn't be so lucky.

Thus it was with almost shock that the young Frank Knight read his summons to the capitol of Insuladom, the royal city of Regius.

Frank stooped down to inspect himself in the supposedly body sized mirror of his room. In what most of his fellows considered foolish and wasteful he had come to the elven city and leased the use of a large inn. He straightened his brown military uniform and checked the pins on his shoulders. The double gold bars signified the rank of captain was a recent addition and he checked them every time he was fortunate enough to glance at a reflective surface. The dark brown coat covering white shirt and khaki pants instantly identified him as a member of The Foundation of the Bear.

The foundations existed as large international organizations that sat safely outside of the jurisdiction of any one nation. And while Insuladom was a signer of the great charter four centuries ago their xenophobia superseded rules that were meant to allow autonomy of the foundations. Each of the large organizations had specialized into specific industries that had been chained down by local politics and regulation. The charter freed them from such bonds and allowed each to flourish and expand. They boasted profits, wealth, and power that could rival even the great human empires.

The Foundation of the Eagle was the first great organization. Their history stretched back thousands of years as a guild of elven magi. Accumulating knowledge and research in magic manipulation and the creation of new spells they also preserved old spells and did their best to prevent magical knowledge from ever being forgotten. They made great profits from magical enchantment and spell services throughout the world. If it was not for them being a driving force behind the creation of the charter Insuladom undoubtedly would have continued to be an isolated and secretive continent cut off from the rest of the world.

The Foundation of the Owl, or more commonly known as The Healers, was the first foundation created by Humans. While not even one-fifth as old as the Eagles they strove for similar purposes. Pursuing the healing arts and finding the best ways to keep their patients alive and prosperous for as long as possible. Their near monopoly on the healing arts raised constant concern however their first principle is to aid before profit. They aspire to never charge for their services more than a patient can afford.

The Foundation of the Cat were the youngest of the foundations to sign the charter. The knowledge brokers of the world boast an enormous collection of spy networks and informants which runs deep through every nook and cranny of the globe. They took over the news industry with nearly crippling control on news papers and town criers throughout much of the world. Notorious for blackmailing affluent individuals whenever they get sensitive information their enemies are as numerous as their allies.

The Foundation of the Bear held some pride at also being one of the original four charter foundations. They were known as mercenaries but had become much much more than simple sell-swords. The group prided itself on being the very best with strict military training along with acquiring the best available weapons and talent. They could provide the best trained and equipped soldiers to augment any army at a cost. They also ventured into policing and security providing guards for merchants, private police forces for cities, and even impartial personal protection for heads of state.

After the charter two new foundations would eventually be added. The Foundation of the Bull were a collection of bankers and investors who helped push forward the financial system of the world. They created a global currency called Bulls or Bull Notes, promissory notes that could be exchanged for gold at any of the foundation's numerous branches. Many smaller nations fully adopted the new currency and the other foundations now took payment only in bull notes. These arrangements gave The Bulls near control of the world's financial sectors and trade.

The Foundation of the Fox was the youngest and newest foundation. They rose to prominence with the recent invention and refinement of the steam engine and were expert engineers. They refined airships and steam driven carriages and continued to push forward technological motivation. Their most recent invention, mechmen, was the reason the Bears had decided to expand their recruiting operations. They perfected the ability to mass produced mechanical soldiers and was seen as direct competition by the mercenary foundation.

Frank shook his head at the mirror. His idea for recruiting elves had been around long before the recent introduction of mechmen. It stemmed from one of his first assignments, escorting an elven merchant caravan that was traveling through The Barren Isthmus. The long narrow strip of barren desert was a favored ambush point by bandits of those attempting to travel by land between North and South Lagordo.

The merchant's son came ready, armed with an elven magewood bow and sword. As Frank discovered upon their first encounter with bandits, he was what the elves called an archer mage. Using the elf's natural talent with magic he imbued his arrows with devastating magical effects and dished them out with an almost unnerving frequency. When the young elf ran out of arrows he simply summoned magical versions to keep up the volley. The young officer had been completely blown away by the efficiency of the elf while he and his squad simply watched and stayed out of the way.

His first attempts at forming an elven archer platoon were shot down. The Bears had been set in their ways, including their strict policy of molding recruits into their idea of soldiers and intermixing races. While most of the foundation's recruits and officers were Human, Dwarves and Orcs did fill out a significant portion of their rosters. The idea of a regiment consisting of elves and only elves specializing in elven fighting techniques was considered counter-productive by the high command.

However, a few promotions later and increased pressure to innovate from the recent competition finally cracked the foundation's stubbornness. The recently promoted Captain Knight was given a small stipend of funds and shipped off to Insuladom to see what he could come up with. While command expected him to fail, the young officer entered the elven kingdom with a few favors to cash in and the fortune to arrive at a changing of attitudes in the elven nation.

War had been waging in various degrees between the three great human empires of North Lagordo. Vicmorta, Maramic, and Corodo had allowed disputes over tariffs and trades to boil over into a global war. The sporadic fighting that had already lasted a decade appeared to have no end in sight. Many in the elven community had grown tired of isolationism and there was growing support to send an expeditionary force to the northern continent.

Composed and ready to present himself, Frank exited the nearly empty Inn and waited for his carriage. The note signified it would arrive at noon and the eager officer was a quarter of an hour early. The oddity of seeing horse drawn carriages after being used to the steam version was a bit of a shock when he had first arrived. But the technology of the Foxes had not penetrated very far into Insuladom, where the long thinking elves were notorious for taking centuries to accept technological innovations. The trip to the capitol was a long all day affair of endless fields. All he had seen so far of the elven nation was the clean and bustling port city and its surrounding plains of grassy grazing fields and wheat farms. As the sun began to dip to the west, the northern horizon shot upward with a tall green and white wall. He realized as he neared these were trees forming a forest who's border was so stark and thick it appeared like they were moving towards a giant fortification that stretched from one end of the horizon to the other.

As the sun finally dipped below the horizon he saw a sight very few non-elven eyes experienced. The white trunks of the forest began to glow a bright pinkish-purple. The glow was enough to overpower the moonlight as they had traveled near enough for Frank to pick out the buildings of the royal capitol coming into view.

“The magewood forest,” his elven escort explained as he noticed the human gazing open jawed at the horizon.

“It's amazing,” Frank said quietly.

“The trees absorb sunlight throughout the day and store it as magical energy. Excess energy is given off as a fuchsia glow at night. It is brightest just after sunset and dims until barely enough to see the ground just before sunrise.”

The explanation of the phenomenon did little to stop Frank's awe at the sight.

The royal city stood almost as a keep along the wall of the forest. Half the city jutted out into the grassy plains while the other half blended seamlessly into the forest. Frank noted great care was taken to disturb as little of the trees of possible while building an intricate city in and around the trunks of the massive trees. Up close he realized their trunks were nearly thirty feet wide and shot up over a hundred feet until they spread out their large canopies of green foliage.

Frank was escorted to the palace. Located at the center of the city, the walls of the massive complex were built into and through the trees themselves. Frank continued to gaze around in awe as he passed white painted walls lined with immaculate art and sculptures. As he expected he did not have a meeting with the elven monarch themselves but was regulated to a simple clerk.

After introductions the clerk explained the elves were seeking to send an expeditionary force to North Lagordo. There had been a growing desire by some of the elven noble families to join the war for the usual reasons Frank had heard before: glory and wealth and such. This was of course said in elegant flowing words but Frank was an expert of picking out important bits from what Bear officers referred to as 'noble shit'. There were of course demands, mainly that the first expeditionary squad would be composed of only elves and be led by an elven officer of noble birth. Frank agreed, papers were signed, hands shook, and the deal was in place. He was assigned an elven attache to assist him in his efforts and his business was done.

He was fed a generous meal and then shipped back to the port city. In total he spent more than twelve hours traveling but less than an hour in the actual capitol to work out the deal. After the glowing fuchsia wall of the magewood forest became nothing more than a glow below the along Frank fell asleep on the return journey.

He awoke the next day to find almost a dozen recruits waiting in the lobby of his leased inn. They were all quickly recruited and a steady stream continued throughout the day. The very first of the recruits was a 'Sir  Pakwan Dorusal' The elf was the third son of a noble family and Frank realized what was up. One of the elven families learned of his arrival and spotting opportunity for glory and fame the pompous elf was hoping to use the Bears.

Frank was probably without much choice but to accept Pakwan who seemed to have to restrain himself from ordering the captain around. Pakwan was beginning to wear on him as he read through the files of all the recruits. They were mostly young by elven standards but ancient by his. Of the forty recruits, only five were female. Then one file caught his eye, the middle aged elf was older than almost all the others at just under four centuries. And a Sir was thrown in front of the name Ormollien Elanesse. A servant of the Inn he had recruited as a gopher was dutifully waiting outside of his door, Frank had the gopher summon this Sir Ormollien.

Frank went back to looking over the files as he waited patiently for the surprise find of a second noble born elf recruit.

A knock at the door prompted Frank to look up from the dossiers and announce, “enter.”

The elf, looking short in Frank's eyes, but in fact of average height amongst his race entered the room. In a traditional elven salute he bowed his white haired head and closed his purple eyes, placing his fist on his heart before looking up and asking, “you summoned me?”

'The first thing I have to do with these elves is teach them the proper human salute.' He thought to himself as he stood and returned the elf's salute with his own proper human one, fingers of his hand held rigidly straight and tapped to the forehead.

“Ormo...” Frank struggled to roll the elf's name off of his tongue, “Ormollien Elanesse, say you don't happen to have a nickname?”

“No sir,” the elf replied in a courteous quiet manner, which to Frank's relief was not pompous or belittling. “Elves do not usually assign each other nicknames outside of our given names.”

“Well, if you don't mind Ormo... Ormo... Leee... On is a bit of a mouthful, how bout from now on I just call you... uh... Leon?”

“I have no objections.”

“Right, Leon,” Frank said, trying out the new nickname and finding it seems to roll off his tongue much easier. “As you are aware, I have yet to name a commanding officer for your newly formed battalion, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind offering your input.”

“As you wish.”

“As I'm sure you're aware of my obligation, the leader of this battalion must be of noble blood, which doesn't leave me many options. What are your opinions of Sir Pakwan Dorusal?”

“He is of proper noble heritage.”

“That doesn't tell me a lot, would you be willing to follow him into battle Leon, even if necessary into the gates of the abyss?”

Leon hesitated a moment before asking, “may I speak freely?”

“By all means, in fact I order you to give me your full and complete and unfiltered assessment.”

Leon thought a this over a moment before he said bluntly, “I would not follow that pompous self centered idiot into a brothel.” After a brief pause he added a quick, “sir.”

“I see, and what do the other men... I mean elves think of him?”

Leon shrugged, “about the same I think. We're here because we are sick of living life one century at a time. And we are tired being judged by your breeding than your actions.”

“Thank you for being honest with me Leon, I have another question for you, if I were to place you in command, and this is an if. Would you follow me, and follow all orders I gave you?”

Leon hesitated a moment before he answered with a quick, “no.”

Frank, taken aback by this looked over the elf, “no?”

“No, I will not follow orders that would cost the lives of good elves for unnecessary endeavors.”

“We are mercenaries, Leon. Mercenaries are hard pressed to go on suicide missions when they won't be alive to spend their pay.”

“Very good sir.”

“I'll be honest with you Leon, some of my colleagues in the foundation would most likely hate you. Dorusal is their kind of leader, as he's the same kind of leader they are. But you happen to be lucky that you are reporting to me, instead of them. But if I do make you Lieutenant, you will have to make sure you don't speak so freely to some of my superiors.”

“Yes sir.”

“One last thing.”

“Sir?”

“I accept that the elven salute is full of tradition and meaning, but so is the Bear salute. As long as you and the other elves are members of this foundation, please salute in the Bear way.”

Leon nodded and then holding his own hand straight and imitating the captain he saluted in an almost acceptable fashion.

Frank sharply returned the salute before ordering, “recruit, you are dismissed.”

After Leon let himself out of the room, Frank returned to his desk. As with any well organized military, paperwork was the lifeblood that really ran the whole bureaucratic operation. One form in particular regarding the official formation of a new Bear battalion was at the center of his desk. He had already filled out most of the form, dividing the forty elves into five squads of eight but near the top was one empty line: battalion officer. After a few moments hesitation he finally took his pen and then scribbled in the name, 'Ormollien Elanesse'. It would cause a stir, he was sure, and the elves would be upset, especially the Dorusal family but he had followed their conditions to the letter and he felt there was no better elf for the job.

Chapter 1: The Broken Bear

The earth shook, thick stone walls rattled, shuttered, and then creaked as they settled. Soot, dirt, and crumbled mortar shook free of the roof and walls, falling down onto the heads of ten soldiers taking shelter in the circular stone keep, their room lit from a violet glow emanating from the wall. Stones jutting out of the wall spiraled up twenty feet to a ceiling above, and downward into a small basement. The keep could easily hold more than its ten occupants, who all appeared battered and covered in blood. Three members of the group were much worse than the others, one whimpering softly as pain killers numbed the pain of a missing limb, one more lay unconscious with several freshly applied bandages, and a white robed healer was calmly applying bandages to the last man's mangled arm.

Of the ten soldiers, six wore blue uniforms, three wore brown, and one white. Yet there appeared to be no animosity towards any. Most of the occupants glanced apprehensively at a small steel door, the entrance and exit to their small keep. It was flanked with two windows, each sealed by similar steel shutters and all were barred shut. The muffled sounds of scratching, pounding, and a constant low drone of moaning leaked through the door.

The earth shook again, as the stone walls rattled once more and a fresh layer of dust rained down onto the soldiers. Most shook off the grimy irritant but two, a young human, and a white haired elf stared straight forward with lifeless purple eyes that took no notice of the world around them. The elf's long ears stuck out as the only non-human of the group.

One of the soldiers in a brown uniform looked towards another in blue, the soldier's blue uniforms was marked with the stripes of a sergeant, while the brown uniform had the single stripe of a private, “They will hold, right sarge?”

The sergeant, while not a gifted structural engineer, or a skilled on the knowledge of magic wards looked up at the stone work of the structure around them. Its walls now constantly flickering violet as the earth shook more and more. He was, however, gifted with superiority and took full assessment of the situation, “Of course, Private. They make these inner keeps to last, don't they? Gotta have some place to run off and hide in, can't have it fallin' in on its self from a little bombardment, proves to reason.” After a brief pause he asked the young soldier, “what's your name son?”

The private blinked and ducked as the earth shook and swayed more violently then before, this time the walls stayed glowing violet for quite some time.

After finally pulling himself up, the private looked up to the sergeant, “Oswald, sir, Private Phillip Oswald.”

“Merc right, with the Bears? I think I saw you operating one of the repeaters on the wall before everything went to hell, whern't ya?”

Oswald nodded, “Yes... Sir, with the Foundation of the Bear, Repeater Gunner, our squad came over with Leon's Lions.” He hesitated and looked over towards the elf, who continued to stare straight forward, the elf's brown uniform had the long thick bars of an officer, the rank of first lieutenant were signified by a gold and silver bar on each shoulder. A quiver full of silvery arrows were slung peaked over elf's right shoulder, hinting he was here for his archery prowess. Oswald offered a small chuckle, “money well spent for you guys, eh sarge?”

The sergeant offered a mournful laugh at this, then ducked as another large shake of the earth caused nearly everyone to fall over. The elf however remaining unmoving, sat on the stairs and continued starring at an unfixed point that could very well be several miles away. He definitely took no notice of anything in this small keep.

The sergeant looked around and sighed, “well Oswald, you're lucky you survived this mess, seen it happen many times, they overrun us, then the more they try to push in, the more they get pushed back.” He looked over towards the wall, the sound of pounding and scraping had stopped, “either that or we get captured, and go spend the rest of the war in some camp somewhere. Though I heard you mercenary boys usually get bought and sold from those things like livestock.”

The elf blinked, then shuttered horribly, as if some terrible sight were hidden under his eye lids. The hours had slowly drifted by as soldiers talked, chatted, ate, drank, and slept around him. There were enough stores in the basement for a very long siege and it had been meant to support much more occupants. There was plenty of room in the keep, including a small barracks on the floor above them but nobody felt like leaving the ground floor for as long as necessary. Soldiers moved blankets, food, and other supplies form other corners of the keep to that large open space where they had relative safety amongst comrades.

Hours slowly turned into days. Those outside had apparently given up their attempt at blasting the keep apart. After the third day, the disheartening sound of constant moaning outside their barred steel doors were slowly being overtaken by the extremely steady and precise sound of rhythmic thumping.

Oswald lifted his head at that, cupping his ear to listen to the familiar rhythm, “mechmen.”

The sergeant looked over towards the private, “what? Constructs?”

Oswald nodded, having seen them used in battle before, “yeah, but are they friendly or not? The Foxes sell to all sides.”

The sergeant grinned, “ours, the bloody Vicmorta bastards stick to necromancy, don't think they need to hire outside mercs or rent Construct soldiers.” The sergeant looked back towards the elven officer, unsure if he was even in the same world as them or not. Then looked around the room, outside of the Captain he was the highest ranking soldier, and decided to take charge. He pointed towards a pair privates in blue, “Johnny, Terrence, head up top and check out the situation, up and down, real quick.” He then pointed towards Oswald, “you, there's an ol' repeater down in the basement. Make sure its still workin' then I'll help you get it up top.”

The soldiers rose, ready, almost eager to follow orders, but then a small voice said, “No.”

The Sergeant looked around for the source of insubordination, finding the blank stare of the elf had been turned towards him. Rather than locking eyes it seemed as if the elf was focusing on something a mile behind the sergeant. The sergeant not missing a beat saluted smartly as he often did when dealing with an officer and quickly reported, “sir, we need to assess the situation outside.”

The face did not change, the elf continued to look blankly, but he repeated, “No.” Then as if with some semblance of recognition he added, “sergeant.”

The Sergeant knew full well one of the first unwritten rules of the chain of command is to never argue with a superior in front of others. But with no private place to squabble he instead decided to close in on the elf and lean in to talk quietly. In a hushed whisper he pleaded his case, “sir, I believe reinforcements are in bound, we must do what we can to assist them, even one repeater in a fortified position on the enemy's rear flank could cause complete havoc.”

The elf blinked, then shuttered, then stared forward once more. He turned his full attention on the sergeant. The nearly lifeless eyes bore into the man causing him to take a step back. The elf said coldly, “I am not losing another soldier under my command, are we clear sergeant?”

The sergeant nodded, “yes, of course sir.”

The elf stood sharply, “good,” and then added as if reading blankly from a book, “I will assess the situation outside.”

The elf ignored the stammering protest of the sergeant, “Captain Leon, sir, you should let us...” but Leon wasn't paying attention as he grabbed a bow that had been left lying carelessly on the floor. Before any more protests the elf deliberately walked up the long set of stairs. They spiraled up twenty feet to the barracks on the second floor. It was full of empty beds that had been stripped bare to be used down below. He continued upward another twenty feet until he reached the steel hatch of the roof. He quickly unbarred the hatch and pushed it up and outwards.

Deep gray overcast blotted out the sun and made the world seem trapped in eerie twilight. One man, in red uniform was on the roof. He turned suddenly at the sound of the hatch opening and managed to turn his face just in time to see a boot kick right into his torso and send him reeling backwards. Before the man could recover, a second hard kick pushed him further across the roof of the keep and in the middle of his tumble he was quickly grabbed and shoved off the side.

Leon knew his enemy well enough that a simple fall would not be much of a hindrance to one of them, especially a necromancer mage who had probably used magic to reach the top of this keep. He was not surprised when he peered over the edge and saw the intruder merely drifting slowly downwards. A silver arrow, however, did not drift slowly downward and caught the man in the chest. Piercing him easily the figure that had been struggling to gain bearing immediately went limp and was pulled downward with the arrow into a satisfying crunch onto the cobblestone lined courtyard of their fortress below.

Leon looked downward, noting the stones of the fortress courtyard would so quickly end his life if he just simply jumped off. Head first to ensure a quick painless end. He blinked then shuddered. After a long pause he looked around to sum up their surroundings. The fortress that had once held over three hundred soldiers was surprisingly mostly intact. The walls and entrance that the Vicmorta had smashed through to take the fortress had been mostly repaired. All except the northern wall facing towards what was once the Vicmorta front lines was still mostly just a pile of ruble. Red uniformed Vicmorta soldiers were taking up positions along the southern walls turning weapons that were once used to fend them off and preparing them to fend off another siege.

To the south, a huge column of Mechmen were indeed advancing towards the fortress. The formation, at least a hundred wide and four deep marched rhythmically in perfect step. Leon's keen eyes watched as they slowly and methodically hacked their way through the masses of Vicmorta undead. A horrible combination of dead soldiers from all sides, reanimated and controlled by Vicmorta necromancers.

They were withdrawing too, and quickly, as their minions were no match for the wood and steel mechanical creations that would tirelessly hack and smash their way through almost any foe. The formation was flanked by a landship on each side, those steel and mechanical monsters billowing steam and smoke as their mage cannons bellowed fireballs out towards the retreating undead masses. Leon had seen them up close once, large iron tracks propelled a huge hull of thick steel all powered by a harnessed elemental powering a steam engine. The huge contraption carried several powerful weapons and men inside capable of charging haphazardly through all but the stoutest defenses. But it was not invincible and one of the more level headed Vicmorta mages, knowing steel can be melted with acid began summoning and throwing sickly green blobs towards one of the landships.

Leon notched a fresh arrow, this time as he pulled back his armed bow he muttered elven words. The shaft of the arrow was quickly engulfed in blue and white flames while the tip glowed bright red. He closed his eyes a moment, shuttered, then opened them once more. A forced calm allowed him to feel the gentle breeze of wind ruffle his short white hair and rub against his cheek. Time seemed to slow as he angled his bow upwards, to the right, and a few subconsciously calculated adjustments before letting the arrow loose. The extended heartbeat of time passed and the world sped back up as a light blue line streaked through the gray sky. It arced downward towards the necromancer until moments later it struck him in the back of his torso causing the figure to slump forward. A moment later an explosion of blue and white flames burst from the collapsed red figure, engulfing several of the fallen mage's comrades that had attempted to aid the fallen figure.

If even half of the fortress's original garrison had managed to escape to the inner keep, Leon knew they could have easily launched a counter attack and torn apart the Vicmorta's exposed rear. Instead the only assistance he would be able to lend was with his bow as more arrows began to streak through the gray sky finding more targets and quickly snuffing them out of the fight. He knew they would turn their attention to him soon. He was almost glad that this would be the end of it, so many terrible, terrible memories, finally, over.

As Leon notched another arrow, a clanking and cursing distracted him from lining up another target. Oswald was pulling half of the large repeater up through the hatch that had clearly not been intended for such a large object to pass through it. Several twisting, turning, pushing, and pulling later, he twisted the mechanical contraption through the hatch with the Sergeant on the other side pushing it up. The repeater, a large crossbow made of steel stretched almost two feet out to each side and connected to a thick heavy duty steel cable for its string. A complex mechanical system attached to the foot thick wooden stock could cock the string back, loose it, then cock the cable again in less than a second. During that process a magical enchantment would summon a fresh bolt made of pure force energy. With this deadly contraption one could fire a nearly endless supply of bolts without worry of ammunition or tiring. Leon had seen such inventions used to slaughter countless soldiers on all sides of the war.

The repeater had a small tripod and Oswald and the Sergeant were securing it to the fortifications of the roof, ready to aim it down towards the Vicmorta soldiers that had taken up positions below.

Leon gazed his empty look towards the pair as they worked, his voice still a monotone, “were my orders unclear?”

Oswald shrugged, “you can throw me in the brig for insubordination after we get out of this mess.”

Leon stared at the pair, a memory flashed through his mind, something of somewhat better times before he had been ruined by war, then he blinked and shuttered. His voice was a little less blank as he said, “fine, unless we are spotted hold fire until they fire upon the mechmen.”

They would not be spotted as the approaching mechanical army took up the enemy's full attention. As the reinforcements neared the landships opened fire on the walls. Sending balls of flame hurtling towards positions that only a few days ago Leon and the others had occupied in their failed attempt to hold off the undead masses. The Vicmorta soldiers ducked for cover, then returned fire, turning mage cannons and their own repeaters on the oncoming mechanical army. As instructed, Oswald then let loose the repeater. A steady rhythm of twang as the bolt is fired followed by a fast rapid clicking as the cable is pulled back and then another twang as the Repeater fires again filled their ears. Slowly Oswald calmly turned the weapon from his left to right, Leon did not even need to notch another arrow as the unprotected soldiers below were ripped to shreds by the magical bolts. The retaking of the fortress was quickly over as the Vicmorta soldiers decimated by Oswald and any stragglers were easily handled by the constructs.

Leon observed the slaughter blankly, then turned towards Oswald and the Sergeant. “Good job,” he offered blankly as he sat on the edge of the fortified roof. He closed his eyes, shuttered uncontrollably, then leaned backwards. To the stunned shock of Oswald and Sergeant he let his body to fall easily over the edge, towards the hard stone ground below. He looked slowly back up towards the top of the keep as it slowly drew away for a couple long drawn out seconds.

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