Sell-Steel

Hard times had befallen Potamia. Toruan, first of his name to rule the country, has been assassinated, the Throne usurped by his cousin, Ingbahr. Many with a valid claim to the Throne have been disposed of, exiled or murdered. The opposition was weak, but still fighting, and some have raised support and forces in the neighboring kingdoms.

Hard times meant good times for Jinx’ breed. Jinx was a sell-steel. In times of peace seldom better than a thug or thief, his kind was sought after in times of war, and this war was expected to be particularly nasty. Chalderon was supporting Toruan, second of his name, son of Toruan, first of his name, who had ruled Potamia for nearly 25 years. Chalderon and Potamia had been bitter foes for generations, but King Hadros, third of his name, wed his daughter Issande to Prince Toruan two years ago, thereby sealing a prolonged peace treaty between Chalderon and Potamia. Now, Prince Toruan led the forces of Chalderon against Potamia, in order to liberate his people from the rule of the Usurper.

Jinx had been hired by the Phoenix company. The war was young, so there were many sell-steels in the company, and the pay was not high, but there was pay. Jinx had received two silvers upon signing, and a new blade and chain shirt. Well, not new, but as good as new. Jinx found a few nicks in the blade that had been pounded out by a common smith, and several rings in the mail were a tad too large, a sign of replacement. They were better than the gear from his last campaign, though. Jinx was a good fighter, but smiths craft was lost on him, so he sold most of his steel off after the last war, save a long dagger and a boiled leather jerkin, knowing that a new war would provide him with cheap, new arms.

The evening before, Jinx had found himself in a pub with several comrades, soaking his innards in honeyed wine and flirting with tavern wenches. Today, he stood on the battle field. The vanguards had met each other, and his unit was moving in to flank the enemy. Their task was to take out the archers that were raining hell onto the reinforcements to the front line so they could take the field. Jinx was in charge of four fresh soldiers, who were nearly shitting themselves out of fear. There were lots of those in this war. Most of the able bodied men, and even some women, had been recruited for this campaign, and the last great war was long enough ago for new warriors to grow. Also, the new King wanted to finish Chalderon off as quickly as possible, and the vast numbers he had mustered were supposed to help that. Jinx knew that only two out of ten freshmen were going to survive this battle, and even some experienced warriors were going to die. Jinx had served Prince Toruan in his previous campaign, and found him a capable tactician and a passionate leader. Chalderon’s forces were high in morale, thanks to him, but Potamia’s sheer numbers would decide this battle.

Jinx never saw the arrow that pierced his chain shirt. He sank to the ground, which was slowly catching red from the stream running out from under his gambeson. He saw the freshmen he was in charge of being slaughtered by Chalderon light infantry while they broke formation before the world went black around him.

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