The grave was freshly buried, the gravestone was just a piece of rock one chiseled line down the middle. Everyone had left over an hour ago but Dalmar still stood there at his father's grave. Why? He had no idea, no matter how much he thought about it he couldn't bring up an answer.
Reese who had fathered five sons and one daughter had lived a good life. One son however was out of place they didn't get along at all right up to his death. Dalmar didn't really know why, maybe is was because unlike the rest of his brothers he was unable to find his place in life.
Luc the eldest inherited the farm, he married the neighbor's daughter and gained even more land. Aron the next eldest became a blacksmith and was one of the richest out of the brothers. Bryn was chosen by a knight and became a square, one day he would defend the land while serving the local lord. Trefor who was the weakest and with a heart of gold joined the way of prayer and joined the church.
Now Dalmar was already sixteen summers and he hadn't found anything. He even tried to become a ranger for the lord but they already had a dozen others before him. So, he ended up helping with the farm and working around the town as a labor worker.
"So now what?" he asked allowed, "Luc probably will be having children soon and won't need my help. I might as well go to the bloody depths."
He starred at his father's grave for what felt like ages entail he finally forced himself to turn around and begin the trek back to the farm. That's when he noticed the figure draped in dark cloaks that concealed his entire body but the bottom half of his face.
Grave robber? Highly unlikely but his outfit was something that popped up out of a story book. Just to be safe Dalmar readied his dagger just incase he had to confront this stranger who was standing at the edge of an unmarked graves.
"What would you do if the dead arose from their final place of resting?"
Dalmar halted in his tracks from the man's sudden question. The stranger pulled his hood off and grinned. He seemed some years older than Dalmar but the man had eyes of a real warrior someone who had seen to much in his young years.
"I would burn them; the dead should stay dead."
He the grin widened, "I like your answer. I'm Franlad I came to this village to seek anyone who would want to join a mercenary company."
"I doubt anyone would, everyone likes their place here and anyone who doesn't aren't of fighting age."
"Are you content? I have knack for seeing troubled men, if you join us you'll probably make a good amount of coin and some land…if you don't die that is."
Stunned was the only thing that Dalmar could think of. He had no goals and suddenly, this stranger comes and offers him a new way of life. Mercenaries weren't liked by kings and lords, but they got more coin then any soldier.
"I serve Captain Thorn Blacksand, he is a very odd man I have to admit. I've never seen him every hump a woman after we take a town. Bastard forces that rule on the rest of us, says that he doesn't want to make unnecessary enemies."
That was odd, Dalmar had never heard of a man who would not partake in those spoils. He found himself interested in this man, who was he and why did he? "I only own an ax and a gambeson I don't even have a helmet."
"A helmet gloves of mail and a shield will be provided for you. Along with that you'll be tested by Thorn himself, mark my words he seems soft, but I saw that man cut the balls of a noble's son right in front of his father."
Dalmar thought about it for several minutes before his feet felt solid, "alright all go with you."
"How much time do you need?"
"All be back here in three hours."
He was off with an uneasy stomach and a smile on his face. The entire time he walked the path back to the farm he thought about his decision that had come out of nowhere. Once he was back he had a hard time thinking of what to say, in the end he decided he would make it short.
The entire family except for Bryn and Trefor weren't seated around the table. "Dalmar," Aron said clearly already drinking, "come sit."
"I'm sorry but I have to leave."
Yiva his mother looked up at him then back down. Her face had seemed to have aged just in the past few minutes from his words. What could he say that he had suddenly had a thought of going off and killing for coin?
"I was offered a job by…ah mercenary."
Everything went silent, the one who finally spoke after ages was Luc's wife Claire. "So, you'll be a raider and murder instead of just staying here?"
Dalmar flinched from her words, he had never told anyone that he was in love with Claire and even while pregnant with his brother's child he still loved her. To hear words like murderer made his heart sink right down to his boots.
"I don't have a place here," he explained, "so all go elsewhere to find one."
Everything went by in a blur after that, he remembered hugging his mother and brothers. Aron produced a bastard sword from a deerskin and offered the blade to him. "I was going to give it to you tomorrow to cheer you up, looks like it was fate that I made it," he said soberly.
The blade was gorgeous, its single-edged blade glittered in the firelight. He thanked his brother and before he knew it he had already hugged his mother who was nearly in tears and was off and down the road.
The question why he was doing this was still lost to him. Instead he focused on what he was getting himself into. Being a mercenary was something that no man would dream of in his village. Fighting in the army was common everyman payed their respects by serving in a local militia it made a kingdom strong with a large force that could be mustered quickly.
Being a mercenary was different you didn't fight for a lord and a reason, you killed and fought for a job. It was that simple a job that just required you to kill, rape and die for a few gold coins in you're pocket and scars on your body.
On the other hand, staying at his village was the same he would just work and never have any land or his own or occupation. So, he might as well go and see other places and experience knew things. When he met up with Frenled he decided that he would think about it later and just go forward from here on out.
"So, what is Thorn going to do?"
Frenlad looked at Dalmar puzzled, "do? Mercenary work what are we going to do besides that. Thorn got a letter from one of his companions in the Isles so we're rounding up some extra men and setting sail for war."
"Is there war in the Isles?"
"Loads, two centuries ago we first set the first ships and war hasn't ended since. Everyone fights each other on those blasted pieces of land. Mercenary companies from all over the continent go there to fight against each other and get paid to do it."
It took them two days to reach Thorn's company that was based in a small bay in the middle of nowhere. The first thing Dalmar noticed was at least several families were with the company with a good number of children along with two of Thorn's.
Fifty extra men had been gathered from nearby villages all young. It swelled the mercenary company to nearly two hundred. Dalmar met Thorn right away and his first impressions were quite mixed. The man just looked like any other man who was getting on the older side of life.
He quickly understood that Thorn was obsessed with discipline. Men would be beaten in place and taught to fight with his comrades entail the death. A month passed and his view on Thorn had changed, he was a commander worth following.
Dalmar found himself stronger than ever though his nose had been broken several times in fights with his comrades but each time it happened he came out smiling. The Lieutenant took an interest in the young man and quickly began to train Dalmar on an individual level.
"I think all place you on one of the flanks," Lt. Pike stated one night, "it's a serious job the entire shield wall needs good men on the flanks who won't run."
"When are we leaving for the Isles?" a young man called Rough who was no older then fourteen asked.
"In a month I would say we have to begin preparing food for the two-week journey and some to hold us off when we get there. Along with that we're meeting up with a company who's led by a man named Elklad. Once we meet up we'll head straight to Anglia a small kingdom in the north of the Isles."
Another month passed with nothing but training and work that made everyone begin to get impatience. Then the letter came, and the entire company set sail the next day, a week passed onboard that ship.
Dalmar in that time found out he hated ships the entire time he puked and was stricken with bought of shivers that lasted hours at a time. Franlad found amusement in his pain and constantly told him he wouldn't make it as a mercenary with that stomach.
They ended up at the Bright Islands where they were to meet Elklad, and it wasn't hard to find the man. Smoke from a village signaled where he was, Thorn got volunteers to go ashore and Dalmar was one of them.
The lieutenant wanted everyone armored and ready for battle and that's how they went about going into the village that had just been raided. Their first signs were several men filled with arrows who at their sides had pitchforks.
"What in the depths is that madman thinking," Pike said allowed, "get ready for a fight if it comes down to it."
They formed a straight line shields out and spears at the ready. Men took silverware and anything that looked valuable and were placing it on two wagons. Other men drank and laughed as they threw throwing spears at a priest who was tied up to a post.
Others dragged women who they found pretty and tied them against barriers, so they wouldn't be able to resist. Dalmar before he realized it found himself beginning to walk towards them with a growl that clawed out of his throat.
"Elklad!" Pike shouted, "what do you think you're doing?"
A man who looked older then Thorn got up from a table that had been brought out of one of the homes. He had short hair with a cropped beard, a broadsword hung at his hip and he had a wolfish appearance as he grinned.
"Pike is that you, damn I haven't seen you in almost two years. Come have some beer there's plenty to go around."
"What are you doing?" Pike repeated.
The man looked confused, "what do you mean? I needed supplies obviously and I had little coin to get it so…" his words trailed off.
"The Frankland forces will hear of this," Pike stated, "and what happens when they discovered once again it is the renown warrior Elklad raiding their villages?"
"I don't really care I've already lived my life," Elklad snorted, "now go on ahead will meet up with you at Anglia."
The priest cried out as a javelin found his thigh. Pike sighed and turned towards Dalmar who couldn't help but force his mouth closed. "Go give that poor bastard some mercy," he stated sourly."
Dalmar buckled his shield on his back and gave his spear to Pike. He walked right into the mess of mercenaries who grinned at him as if they eyed a prize-winning pig. He stopped and picked up one of the javelins off the ground.
"So, you want to try five gold coins if you kill him," a big man who stood almost a foot taller then Dalmar bellowed, "lets see you try lad."
The priest mumbled something between his groans of pain. Dalmar said a silent pry for the man's soul to find its way back to the All Mother. He pulled his arm back and with one fluid motion threw the javelin. It landed with a thwack into the priest's head and pinned his skull to the post, he died instantly.
They gave him the five gold coins and Dalmar left and tried to keep himself from loosing his breakfast. His first kill was not a man on the battlefield but an unarmed priest, he made sure that he wouldn't forget that day the day he gave away his soul to being a murderer.