There was no fanfare welcoming the approaching ship, no greeting from King and Country welcoming those bearing the standard of the Order. All that rose to greet the ship in these cold, foreign waters was a sun as golden as their banner and waves as loud as crowds. None of this was meant to be a comfort to the ‘members’ of the Order who had been brought north to Weirn and were facing their deployment in a land which would not accommodate them, let alone recognize them as anything but leeches. It was in this cold land- both to outsiders and citizens alike- that they were to serve the Order and earn redemption, to be freed from their pasts.
The ship coasted along the waves towards the port of Haev, its appearance causing few to stop in their travels and watch as it made port. While in the lands of Ioria the Order’s insignia may have brought crowds running, all for a chance to seem some legendary soldier, there was no such crowd. No glorious uproar of children nor merchants looking to haggle with the weary adventurers. Only enmity greeted the crew as they moored the boat and placed down the plank-way.
The citizens knew not what the Order had brought to their land this time be it more soldiers to ‘defend’ them or more teachers to ‘educate’ them. They cared not for the Order and their foreign ways even as the Kings of Weirn had turned their attention towards squabbling in the relative peace of their land. Not even the Horimir hordes had bothered them in many months, not even the goblins which roamed the dense forest around the Orimmir range had been aggressive. There was no need for these outsiders, no need for the condescending gaze as they looked up the citizens. Who were they to judge what Old Gods they worshiped, who were they to seek to teach them magic or swordsmanship.
Indeed, the citizens nonetheless watched as a lieutenant of the Order stepped off the boat and was followed by his ‘members’. How odd it was to watch a procession of so few soldiers for the Order as they filed off the boat, one by one; Elves and Humans, Starfallen and Orisiri, even half-breeds and a dwarf. To all but a few this was nothing unusual, a common occurrence in recent months as the Order made their presence in Weirn more known to both the Kings and the people. They had brought expeditionary forces in the early spring and eventually ambassadors, eventually seeing a member of the Order was common and their recruits became more common in the fields outside Haev and Vernthouth.
There was, however, an air of mystery surrounding those that the citizens of Have saw before them now. These people were not the usual fresh faced recruits from Eroammir or the Imperium nor traveler from Keirous rather they all seemed to have seen their fair share of trials. Some bore marks of battle, hardly able to be seen beneath their armor, while one even had a mask that seemed to be a part of him. What stood out most of all, however, was the growing worry for the shackles which were attached at their feet.
The crowd’s muffled curiosity at the new arrivals soon rose into anger, a sheer uproar as many yelled insults both over race and alignment with the Order. Those that noted the shackles simply demanded the Order explain what they were doing, how they could protect their lands if they were to bring scum into it. Eventually the crowd dispersed and a brief silence took over the port of Haev, its merchants soon returning to haggling with the citizens.
”You see, neither us nor you are welcomed in this land. Weirn cares not for the Order and what we wish to do for them. They tend to themselves even with bandits ruling entire cities, even with trade barons fighting for control in their courts. You are but a momentary distraction to them. You are unknown.” The Lieutenant sounded somber as he removed the shackles from the members he had brought with them. It was but a precaution, a temporary facet for the new arrivals so they would not escape their fate.
There was little to escape to, of course, now that they had arrived in Weirn. With little than a motion of his hand, the Lieutenant lead the arrivals through the winding streets of Haev to the Western Gate. There had been little to see on the way through the city, citizens milling about in their homes and smiths working their forges. Even merchants from Eroammir could be seen every now and then as they passed stalls and depots. Once outside the gates, however, the momentary calm was broken. Thrust upon them was a sight unlike any they had seen before, a small city of tents and wooden palisades struck into the muddy ground near the walls. Where the palisades ended began another, far smaller, tent city bearing symbols of various merchant companies from Vernthouth.
”We’ve not had much time to prepare in this land so all we have are these ramshackle accommodations, tents that’ll barely keep us warm in the coming seasons but a home nonetheless,” the Lieutenant sighed and looked over his shoulder, ”This is where you’ll call home.” With a sweeping arm and, likely, a slight hit of comedy in his theatrics, the Lieutenant displayed before the new arrivals the mass of tents dedicated solely to the Order. Among them stood several banners organizing companies and squads, even further divided into jobs and ranks by the markings of each large tent. Most of the soldiers had already awakened and begun their training, many assembling to perform daily matches to improve swordsmanship and even a few gathered studying their magic.
To some it seemed little less than a combat field however the occasional chair and table could be seen among the place the Order had called home. Some had managed to set up a ring for wrestling, betting on who would win with rations or coin they could spare. Others had built a meager lodge out of rotting lumber to act as a library. As much as the new arrivals may have wished to, they were granted no time to take it all in as they were quickly ushered along. Little explanation was offered, as had been usual in their stay with the Order thus far, until they were brought to a large tent fit for only those of the highest ranks. Upon arriving they were ushered in and greeted by a sight of a large map and many other strategic devices on a table.
”Ah, they are here,” called a voice from behind a stack of books, ”You must excuse me for the mess, I’ve been rather busy in recent weeks preparing for Fall and Winter. You see, it gets extremely cold up here and we have rather barren accommodations and little in the way of a supply line. If we don’t hurry with our deliberation with the locals, we’ll end up starving to death. Or freezing.” The voice chuckled briefly and stepped out from behind the books with a stack in hand, placing them on the table quickly before smiling at the new arrivals. He could not have been a man more than thirty-five, obviously Human, yet he seemed more wise than any they had seen yet. ”I’ve gotten ahead of myself again, haven’t I? I am Captain Eros Vaughn, I’m the Commander of this little slice of home we call a garrison. And you all are my new recruits here to be redeemed, yes?” -
A quick step took the Captain from one edge of the table to the other, greeting all his new soldiers in turn with a handshake and smile. ”You see, I know about all of you and have every detail I could ever want on how you ended up coming to me. I know that Georgia won’t be going to Vernthouth until we resolve issues over there and that Einarr would be in serious danger were we to send him to Normundr so soon after we got him. One of you tried to start a revolution, another blamed for her Father’s death, another for a noble’s death.” All air of formality and kindness had left the Captain’s face well into his conversation with the Arrivals, instead replaced by a grim look more of disappointment than disgust. ”As much as I would’ve rather seen you come here willingly, I fear that is not the case we have found ourselves in.”
With a brief bow of his head the Captain moved back to his position at the head of the table and surveyed the map briefly. ”Weirn is a dangerous land my friends, so much so that we very will might die by the end of Fall if we aren’t careful. It is less that there are those out there who want us dead, though they exist don’t get me wrong, it is more that every step forward we have made in the past half year has been met with ever increasing resistance. The citizens refuse to recognize us as a positive influence on their lands, mostly due to the failures in dealing with their Kings. We’ve been forced to live outside the walls of Haev for months now and we’ve been unable to secure a supply line in this land, relying entirely on what little was can get through the path between Eroammir and here.”
”You are going to change that. You are going to perform duties not for the Order but for the people of this land. You are free in this land and answer only to me. All I need is your help. Do you accept my terms?”
Einarr looked around the tent slowly, making sure to take stock of each and every one of the people he'd undoubtedly be working with for the foreseeable future. Each of them was here for their own reasons, although Einarr wished he wasn't. It wasn't the fact that he had to help the Order, he was fine with that as long as he was given an adequate amount of personal space, rather it was the fact that he'd be operating in his own homeland which was filled with people who hated the organization he now found himself working for. Having seen the hostility they showed towards the Order's soldiers upon their arrival, Einarr was seriously concerned about how they would react to him and those in his group.
While he was no stranger to fighting, the thought of killing his own kinsmen, even if it was in self defense, just didn't sit well with him.
Letting out a barely audible grunt, Einarr pushed the thought to the back of his mind and nodded in acknowledgement of the man's request. He could worry about such things when they became relevant to him, the Order, or whatever group he was assigned to.
Until then, he'd just follow Captain Vaughn's orders.
Lunearo stepped up to the table, putting his armored hand on the table. His breathing was loud and metallic, as if listening to the wind in a cave. His eyes were not visible, but it was clear what he was looking at. With the other hand, he bowed to the captain. "My captain, helping people is what you do, therefore, what I do. I've heard much of Wiern, but only from what manuscripts exist. I have but one question; how many corpses do the locals bury annually?" He chuckled, then looked at their merry band. "Captain, just point and I'll pull the string. I'm betting we all would, eh? We all have nothing left to go back to, I lost my land, she's a former slave, they lost their honor, etc, etc." He took off his right glove, and etched a symbol into his hand. He then dropped the blood onto the bare ground, chanting while he did. He quickly finished, and put his glove back on. "There, done. Ask me about that later." He saw a nearby stool and sat on it. He saw a stone and started using his dagger to shape it with runes. He watched the others all the while. "Two outta' twelve. I like my odds."