One: Ordered by Gods
The Dirty Half Dozen
Berrona Eoselunday - Berrona Clairesularday
A weathered man sits over a stack of papers making short, sharp marks with his stylus and ink. A proud knight enters the room and walks to the desk. His voice booms, “Kullak you lazy dog, why do my men delay waiting for you to find the poorest of supplies to fight the gravest of battles?”
“Your men, Lokiyar? Are you a father now that you lay claim to sons waiting at our gates for bloodletting?”
“Keep your tongue, bin rat and bean counter. I remind you that since I relieved you of duties you were unsuited for the Inquisition now commands the Order. I am humble enough to honour your past service to allow you to simply call me ‘sir’. Do not however let my respect for you encourage contempt. We need discipline now more than ever.”
“Certainly Sir Lokiyar. I must humbly report that your knights wait at our broken gates because their supplies will arrive in an hour.”
“An hour? They were supposed to leave yesterday. What laziness is this?”
“Sir Lokiyar, as I told you yesterday, there were no supplies in our stores and none of our suppliers were able or willing to outfit this latest adventure of yours. The well is dry and few are willing to lend you a bucket. But when I was lazily sitting in the sun yesterday after a huge lunch simply smoking my pipe I did remember an old lazy friend of mine that owed us a few tokens. It did take a while to get to my feet since it was such a warm day and my tobacco quite fine but I did manage to convince him to deliver the supplies requested when he could be bothered to support your war. I believe he took a nap first. Or maybe that was me.”
“Enough of your sarcasm, old dog. Perhaps if you were more careful with your distribution of those items real knights need to wage noble and glorious battle to the greater honour of our magnificent deity rather than squander it on the villainous children of heretics, we would have enough.”
His face turning red, Kullak spoke again, “A villainous child of heretics? You cannot mean the son of Pilus. Even you cannot honestly believe that those ridiculous charges will stick to that boy. I gave him a coil of rope and he pulled a half dozen citizens out of the sewers in an hour when the constabulary couldn’t do it in a week. I gave him a lantern and he uncovered a pit of evil that hid all our Dooms. Ha! No court will find him guilty.” Kullak sat back into his chair smiling at the knight.
Lokiyar smiles back. “Court? I have no need for a court when the Crucible of Hieroneous is more than he deserved. That is right. He was weighed and tested and found lacking after facing the hottest of fires – battle! He fell at Sunfalls, just as it fell. He will lie forever in a shallow grave with a broken sword under a pile of orcs. The story is already circulating among the Synod and the name of Justinian will likely be a curse for a generation before the week is done. Wipe that scowl off your face, O Master of the Bins! The Saviour from Göesse will not return. Our Faith is now united under me with no foolish boy heroes as distraction. Redemption for our defeated enemies? Mercy for a fallen foe? Is that the fool you want leading us when the blast of war shakes what remains of our walls? Stick with your papers and ropes and lanterns and make sure my cavalry has barding and grain. My patience with you so richly flows because your barest competence in matters logistic is valuable. Valuable for the time being.”
The knight turns abruptly and walks off with a sense of purpose. As he enters the hallway, he collides with another knight in full armour.
Lokiyar spits, “Fool! Watch where you are going! Why are you still here? I thought I made it clear that you have duties elsewhere of a pressing nature. Your laziness will not be forgotten!” He storms off.
The younger knight enters and walks up to the desk and removes his helmet. He speaks, “Quartermaster Kullak, you summoned me? How can I aid you?”
“No, lad. I have dispatches for the Advance and supplies for you. Here they are.”
He reaches under desk and places a leather pouch on top and grumbles, “Letters”. Again, he reaches under and places a burlap bundle on top with the barest hint of a metallic thud. Young Gunthar tilts his head at the man. “I ordered no supplies that I can recall, am I in error, sir?”
“No, error my good man. True, you did not order anything because you believe there is nothing you want. I have been Quartermaster here since before you were born. Trust me when I decide there might be something you need. That is my Gift to our Cause.”
Gunthar opened the bundle and more questions were added to his face. “I already have a …I do not think I need a…What use would a broken…I normally do not have time to…A joke, Master Kullak? I do not…But wait…but…”. Quickly Gunthar wraps the items back up and looks around behind him quickly. “Kullak, are these what I think they are?”
“That depends on what you think they are lad. I am a Quartermaster and my shelves and bin stock the bags and packs of knights on noble crusades. What you have in that bag is not worth ten gold to a foolish drunk who just won the lottery. Get them off my shelves so I have room for sharp spears instead of broken swords, plate armour instead of a tarnished mirror and papyrus for battle orders and maps instead of a book written by a silly boy. I cannot think of what value anyone could have for anything like that. You are a silly boy too I think which is why the Lord Lokiyar has sent you back to the Advance rather than allow your petition. Ah…Since I have spoken to our aspiring Lord High Commander, I think I now understand our new battlefield a little better. Your petition was to do what: to go playing a foolish game of hide-and-go-seek around Sunfalls? Best for you to get back now with your trinkets, young man. I hear the Advance has lots of hidden places to tuck away trash like that. Best you go now and in a hurry as the Lord Commander just ordered you for the second time.”
“Thank you Lord Quartermaster. I do know a place where this will not bother anyone.”
“Ah you again are mistaken lad. I said nothing about wanting to avoid bothering anyone.”