The Black Sword Trilogy: The Poacher

The Black Sword Trilogy: The Poacher by Jeffery VanMeter Read Free Book Online

Book: The Black Sword Trilogy: The Poacher by Jeffery VanMeter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jeffery VanMeter
Captain Krall.
    “So these are my new recruits?” Krall asked the Sergeant.  He said it loud enough for the group to hear.
    “Unfortunately yes, sir!”
    Captain Krall walked up and down the line of men, briefly inspecting each one.  He stopped at Kenner and nodded at him.
    “Not much are they?” Krall said.
    “Give me a few weeks with them, sir and I’ll turn them into soldiers.” The sergeant answered.
    “Unfortunately, we don’t have a few weeks.  These men are needed immediately at the North Wall.”
     
                  “Ordinarily,” Krall continued, “you would spend the next four weeks here in these barracks learning how to be soldiers.  However, one of the stations at the wall is in immediate need of replacements and the Army has none to give of seasoned, veteran soldiers; not for a dead end like the North Wall anyway.  Therefore, you will be sent to this horrible place instead.”
     
                  “You all have one thing in common.  You have been convicted of petty crimes and given the choice of serving in the Army or being punished in some painful and humiliating way.  Fortunately, for you, you have chosen to serve.  This means if you do die out there on the Wall, you will die with, at least some honor.”
    Captain Krall then turned to the Sergeant.
    “Take these poor souls, get them equipped and then get them ready to go.  We leave in one hour.”
     
                  Kenner and the rest of the recruits were then marched into a small building with soldiers drilling outside of it.  Once inside, they were greeted by a short and fat soldier who was bald and had a grey beard.
    “More dead meat?” He asked the Sergeant.
    He examined the first recruit in line for a few seconds, and then placed a breastplate over the new soldier’s chest.  Several other men then began placing other parts of armor on the soldier’s arms and legs.
    “This doesn’t fit.” The soldier complained.
    “I don’t care.” He said, spitting on the ground.
    Every soldier in the line, including Kenner was treated in the same way.
     
                  Moving along through the building, they were given more equipment, including water canteens, metal plates and eating utensils, flints, a torch, bandages, six feet of rope, socks, a blanket and a pack to put all these items in.  They were also given four square pieces of hard tack.
    “That’s in case you’re out in the field with no cook at your disposal.” The Sergeant said laughing.  His laugh sounded like the wheeze of an old man who had smoked too much.  Before they left the supply depot, they were each fitted with a helmet and for all of them; the helmet was either too big or too small.  Before Kenner walked out, he heard Captain Krall call out to the supply person.
    “Wait.” He said.  “This one’s an archer.”
    The supply person then handed Kenner a long bow, a quiver full of arrows and a something that looked only slightly larger than a dagger.
    “What is this,” Kenner asked unsheathing the blade, “a letter opener?”
    “It’s the difference between life and death if you’re ever in close quarter combat, you worthless piece of filth.” The Sergeant responded.  “Now get back in line!”
     
                  The new recruits were then instructed on how to pack their supplies in their packs.  Kenner was also instructed how to properly wear his quiver and short sword over his armor.  They were then put in line and marched out of the gate of the barracks.  The Sergeant kept them in close cadence and screamed profanities at any soldier that was out of step.  They marched through the city streets and eventually out of the city.  The people in the streets and on the main road made way for them.
     
                  They marched for several hours on the main road.  Some began limping as their new boots didn’t quite fit.  Kenner still had the boots his father had

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