Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2244334-The-Lady-and-the-Thug-Part-7
by RickyZ
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Fantasy · #2244334
Richard arrives at Fort Vasbrook, and receives a warm welcome.
         Richard rechecked his gear, ensuring that the tent and bed-roll, he had been provided with, were secure. Next, he re-examined the saddle. Satisfied that all was properly strapped, he scratched around the horse’s shoulder, calming the animal. The large mare grunted with pleasure from his touch. Then he reached down between his legs, tugging at his trousers. It was a difficult adjustment to make, considering that he was in his armor now. The last few days had seen him in his dress uniform, but not today.

         Today he’d be arriving at Fort Vasbrook. He didn’t want to be dressed up, all fancy and polished, for the occasion. The Fort was a rat’s nest, full of all manner of filth-ridden vermin. Strutting in wearing his best outfit seemed likely to draw the wrong sort of attention. Attention that would likely get him into trouble. If there was going to be trouble, this time, he wanted to be fully armored.

         Still struggling to get himself comfortable, Richard gradually felt more awkward as he worked at himself.

         “Any luck finding them yet, Sergeant?” The voice of his escort leader, a real slouch for a sergeant, came from a short ways off.

         Raising his head, Richard frowned his irritation straight into the man’s face. The escort lead looked as though he might burst into laughter at any moment.

         “It’s not a matter of finding them, Sergeant,” Richard snarled. “It’s a matter of making them fit in my trousers better.”

         “Maybe you should get your trousers re-tailored,” the lead suggested in jest. “Make more room for the bits.”

         Laughter came from the other three escorts. Richard continued to eye the lead with growing frustration.

         “I don’t need new damn trousers,” he finally growled, straightening. “I just need to be finished with this horse you insisted I take.”

         “At least we’re arriving today,” the lead offered. “If we had let you walk all the way, we’d still be a couple of days out.”

         “And my bollocks would feel fine,” Richard strode right up into the man’s face, burning irritability.

         Lingering his glare upon the lead, he finally made to retrieve his spear.

         “Look on the bright side, Sergeant,” the lead called after, “a short morning ride, and you won’t have to worry about horses ever again. Until you make it to the frontlines, that is.”

         The other three snickered. Richard took up his spear, and strode back to the mare carrying his gear.

         “Of course,” the lead continued, “you will have to deal with your new comrades constantly kicking at you.”

         More snickering from behind, as the lead leered at Richard.

         “I’ll bet they’re going to have a whole lot of fun with you.”

         “Oh, they’ll kick, alright,” Richard growled. “And they’ll scream. And they’ll cry themselves pissing for their mums.”

         Richard scowled at the lead, watching confidence drain from the man’s face. The three behind him seemed to lose all their good cheer, and coward by their horses.

         “Yeah,” Richard continued, “it’s going to be really fun fucking time.”

         He allowed the silence to settle before snapping.

         “Now are you ready to get going, or not?”

         “It’s your bollocks, Sergeant,” the lead shrugged, turning to his own horse.

         Richard narrowed his eyes as the retreating man, before adjusting Kazimir on his back, as he returned to his mare. Spear in one hand, he took hold of the reins, and began leading the mare back onto the highway.

         “What are you doing, Sergeant?” The lead called after in confusion.

         “We’re getting there today, aren’t we?” Richard shot back over his shoulder.

         “Well, yeah,” the lead sounded uncertain.

         “Then it’ll make for a nice morning walk.”

         “That’s going to take several hours, at least,” the lead ventured reasoning.

         “I’ve walked more than that before. Now let’s go.”

         He left it clear that he wasn’t in the mood for debating, nor riding. It didn’t matter to him if they took all day to arrive at the fort. He’d arrive with his bits feeling normal again, not smashed up into his own taint. He needed to ensure that he wouldn’t be preoccupied with how much they ached. He needed to arrive prepared for something to go down. That required his armor, and no sore bollocks. The rat’s nest of Fort Vasbrook awaited.


         The fort looked about as much of a shit hole as he imagined it would be. The old castle stood as a faint pink mass, desperately in need of new paint. In comparison, the small town standing before the fort’s gatehouse appeared much better. A bit dusty from the highway and the pigs, but still better.

         The old castle, on the other hand, looked filthier by the stride as it loomed nearer. It appeared as shitty as the scum it housed. It was a terrible sight.

         A filthy, pink fucking castle. Great.

         Approaching the gatehouse, they drew to a halt at the ushering of two guards armed with bills.

         “What business do you have here, then?” The guards seemed to stand straighter before Richard’s escort, though they maintained a friendly enough demeanor, holding their polearms with relaxed hands.

         The lead nudged his horse forward, producing a sealed scroll from a travel container, and extended it towards the guard who had spoken.

         “Re-assignee transfer from Nottingdale.”

         Taking the scroll, the guard examined the seal. Then he showed it to his fellow, who nodded his verification after a studious glimpse. Looking back at the gatehouse, he called out, holding the scroll high.

         “Re-assignee transfer orders here, sir. Sealed in Nottingdale. Shall I review them, sir?”

         “Proceed,” a tired voice approved from somewhere within the gatehouse.

         The guard broke the seal, and scrawled the document open. His eyes quickly scanned the length of the scroll. Brow furrowing, he began squinting at the text. Then he blinked, and his eyes bulged in surprise. Glimpsing at his fellow, he turned the document allowing the other man to read it. Leaning forward the second guard squinted at the scroll, darting his eyes down the length. His eyes grew in kind, and the two men shared a look, before turning to regard Richard.

         “Assault charges?” The first guard held the scroll out before himself. “Against four lawmen, no less. Well, that certainly isn’t a common sight around here.”

         His fellow gradually shook his head. An ironic way of confirming a claim.

         “They might actually take a liking to you in there,” releasing the bottom of the document, the first guard motioned back towards the fort as the scroll rolled itself back up.

         “I doubt that,” Richard muttered, scowling about the hideous castle structure.

         Fucking pink.

         Pushing the rear prong of his spear into the ground, he left it standing as he held the mare’s reins out towards the escort lead.

         “Thanks for the horse.”

         “Not much good if you don’t ride it,” bewildered, the lead accepted the reins.

         “You don’t like horses?” The first guard showed his confusion.

         “I don’t like riding them,” Richard corrected, before turning his scowl towards the rear of the mare.

         “Hurts his bits, he tells me,” the lead added.

         Richard rounded on the man, glaring into him. He simply shrugged to the guards’ raised brows, refusing to look back. The other three escorts snickered from their mounts. Richard allowed his gaze to burn into the lead a moment longer, before returning his focus to his gear.

         Unstrapping his pack, he left the tent and bedroll on the mare’s back. With Kazimir already worn across his own back, Richard would just have to carry his pack with one arm, for now. Gear in hand, he stepped towards the gatehouse, giving the mare a few farewell scratches as he passed. She grunted happily at the touch. Taking his spear back up, he appraised the old castle with a displeased scowl.

         “Watch those bollocks of yours,” the first guard cautioned. “There’s some real animals in there.”

         “All the better for the hunting, then,” Richard growled at the guards.

         Looking back at the fort, the first guard called out once again.

         “New sergeant reporting for duty.”

         The call echoed between a few members, working its way around the gatehouse. Sighing, Richard marched forward, stepping onto the ramped retractable bridge. Heavy boots clunked against sturdy wood as both he and the first guard ascended towards the gatehouse.

         “You have a copy of your orders for the commander?” The guard’s voice came up from behind Richard.

         “Of course,” he drove his annoyance into the man.

         “I’ll see to the documentation of your entry into the fort,” the guard proceeded. “You’d better get to the commander’s office. He’ll want to see you, immediately.”

         “Commander Carrington, is it?” Richard didn’t bother looking back at the man.

         “That’s right,” the guard continued. “His quarters are on the third floor of the keep. Shouldn’t be too hard to find your way there. Just march on for the very rear of the second balley. Keep’s hard to miss.”

         “Second balley?” Richard glanced over his shoulder with some surprise, as they passed beneath the portcullis .

         “If you do get lost,” the guard pressed on, “just look for one of the other sergeants. Their quarters are on the second floors of the barracks.”

         Passing between the open gates, they entered the first balley, and the guard’s boots halted as he presented the scroll to a superior. Richard marched off, uninterested in their exchange.

         “Good luck, Sergeant Ordell,” the guard’s voice called after. “You’re going to need it, in there.”

         “I don’t know about that,” Richard continued to march for the rear of the first balley.


         “Alright,” Tanner returned to his stool, presenting a keen knife he had freshly sharpened, “I’ll ask you one more time.”

         Sitting, he brought the knife to eye level, point towards a terrified Rookstard. He allowed the point to trail ever closer to the smuggler’s face, delighting in Rookstard’s wide eyes crossing slightly. The smuggler strained to back away, but could only lean so far as he was firmly held in place by two goons. From across the table between them, Tanner’s leer turned into a pleasant grin as he asked his question for yet the tenth, or twentieth, or however many times it had been.

         “Where is the merchandise?”

         “Where it always is,” breathed the recoiling Rookstard. “Where it should be.”

         Tanner lowered the knife to the table top as his eyes rolled skyward. He sighed heavily.

         “Actually, it should be with me, or in proper custody by now. But you,” Tanner jabbed the knife accusingly at the smuggler, “had to go, and fuck up the drop.”

         “It’s there,” Rookstard insisted as much as he dared. “I swear it. I swear it to Her Grace. I swear it on my life.”

         “Well now,” Tanner let the words flow slyly as he gently took hold of the smuggler’s left hand. “You’re life is it? Good thing we can still cut into you a fair amount without killing you.”

         Tanner leered as he brought the smuggler’s fingers up before himself. Five plump little piggies just waiting to be sliced up. His thrill deepened as Rookstard began stuttering in panic.

         “N-n-no, no. No no no no. Tanner, please, don’t.”

         “Look at all the little piggies,” Tanner mused.

         “Tanner, please,” Rookstard begged, “I need my hand to shoot with.”

         Tanner huffed at how absurd that sounded.

         “What do you mean you need it to shoot with?” He stared in profound confusion. “You’re no lefty. It’s your right hand that does the shooting.”

         He presented the man’s open hand as if giving a demonstration.

         “See, you use these three fingers here on your right hand to shoot with,” and Tanner tapped the flat of his blade to the tips of smuggler’s index, middle, and ring fingers.

         “But I still need to grip my bow in my left hand,” Rookstard protested.

         “True,” Tanner agreed, “But aside from your thumb, how many fingers do you really need to grip with?”

         The color drained from the smuggler’s face. He swallowed, horrified eyes fixed on Tanner, who grinned with pleasure.

         “What are you going to do?” Rookstard stammered.

         “Why, I’m going to peel the skin from your little finger,” Tanner replied conversationally. “Then I’m going to carve the flesh from the bones. All before sending you off to deliver me my merchandise proper-like.”

         “It’s there!” Rookstard screamed in panic. “It’s there! I swear it is! I left it at the drop, just like I’m supposed to! It has to be there!”

         Tanner adjusted his grip on both his knife and the smuggler’s hand. Slamming the man’s hand onto the table, he brought the knife down hard. The smuggler sang a stream of nos as the point sailed towards his hand.

         It thunked heavily into the table top, protruding between the smuggler’s little and ring fingers. Rookstard gaped at the knife, all breath vanished from his lungs. He appeared as though he wanted to scream despite the near miss, but was too scared to remember how to. Gradually, he raised his gaze to Tanner’s face. In response, Tanner gave a sideways glower while resting his knuckles on the table top. After a long even moment, he began to reach for his side.

         “Well I got some news for you, fancy bowman,” Tanner’s voice dripped with accusation as he worked his hand into his hip pouch. “It doesn’t have to be there, nor is it.”

         He squeezed Rookstard’s hand for emphasis, causing the smuggler to cringe. Then he withdrew a small bundle from his pouch, raising it before the two of them. Tanner’s expression softened slightly.

         “You see, I already have it.”

         The smuggler looked completely dumb-founded, glancing in disbelief between the outheld bundle and Tanner’s face. Rookstard’s mouth worked to ask what, but he seemed incapable of making sound. Perhaps he still needed more breath.

         “He’s good,” Tanner looked casually to his goons holding the smuggler in place.
They released him, granting looks of approval towards Rookstard. Horace, the bigger of the two by a considerable height, gave the bowman a set hearty pats to the back of the shoulder while wearing a broad grin. Leonard, of the other hand, held a grimace that could be misread as unfavorable by those who didn’t know him well enough. The goon simply brushed the bowman’s sleeve with a single swipe as he continued to nod slightly.

         Rookstard gazed apprehensively at Tanner.

         “You did good,” Tanner explained. “Delivery was seamless and smooth. Merchandise was well hidden, yet easy enough to find. Perfect placement, just like you said you would.”

         Tanner’s off-putting grin spread across his face as he continued.

         “I like that in a smuggler. Makes them reliable.”

         “And...,” Rookstard began hesitantly, “my fingers?”

         “Well you can keep them,” Tanner stated matter-of-factly. “At least until you do fuck me on a delivery, and then I’ll start with your toes. Archers don’t need toes to shoot.”

         “You mean this was all in jest?” Rookstard looked perplexed.

         “No,” Tanner looked slightly offended. “Not in jest. I never jest when it comes to business. Consider this your one and only warning. A brief demonstration of what will happen to you if you ever do fuck my end of business.”

         “Demonstration?” Rookstard stood from his stool in shock. He seemed to remember how to breathe with some compensation, as he panted to the point of frothing.

         “Yeah,” Tanner shrugged his shoulders heavily, gazing about for whatever else the smuggler wanted from him.

         “You’re a sick fuck, Tanner!” Rookstard barked, before running off to join the masses filling the open balley.

         Horace began to guffaw towards the heavens, while Leonard snickered through his snear. Tanner allowed himself to cackle delightfully. It had been perfectly played. The smuggler hadn’t suspected a thing, and the looks on his face had been priceless. Such entertainment couldn’t be bought, only had.

         Horace’s laughter cut out suddenly, and the giant’s face turned to total alarm, eyes locked on the balley entrance way.

         “Holy shit,” Horace rumbled, “would you have a look at those whiskers.”

         Tanner turned in the direction, and caught sight of some new comer. He felt his jaw slacken from the shock of it, threatening to loll open. Sure enough, the new comer sported the dumbest looking mustache he had ever seen, and he had seen some terrible ones. He watched on in bewilderment, taking the man in. Tanner noted the stern face, the urgent pace, how he held his head high, and the sergeant’s insignias around the shoulders.

         “What the fuck kind of fashion is that?” Leonard grumbled through his curious scowl.

         “A right buggering awful one,” Horace offered. “Who do you suppose he is?”

         “New sergeant, by the looks of it,” Leonard pressed. “Probably a right toe lick, at that.”

         They watched as the new sergeant weaved his way amongst the masses. Tanner observed all the closer. Sighting the way he moved among them, as though he might contract something if he came too close. The way he looked at the rabble, as though they were the filthiest, most disgusting things he had ever seen. It was as if he had far better things to do, as if he was too good to be bothered by anyone else. What a right upturned cunt this new sergeant was turning out to be.

         Just as the sergeant began to pass out of sight, Tanner caught a glimpse of something trailing behind the man. He craned about in his seat to better see, and locked in on the man’s tails. Horace let out a whistle of appraisal.

         “Fucking shit,” Leonard exclaimed. “Now that’s something.”

         “Oh,” Tanner allowed his intrigue to build. “Well now, lads.”

         Tanner stood. Eyes locked on the new sergeant, he wrenched his knife free from the table top. Raising the knife to his ear, he held it as though it might speak at any moment, a sly grin spreading across his face. His malice grew, and he thrilled.

         “That most certainly is a lovely pair of tails.” Tanner strode off after the new comer, ready to welcome him.

         Tanner had to move briskly in order to close the distance. The new sergeant walked quickly. Apparently, he had better places to be. His manner suggested pure disgust towards those around him, as though he were so much higher and mightier than anyone else. Tanner could feel the heat of his glare, as it parted the masses before him. Noting the mixed looks on the faces of those they passed, this new sergeant was an out right prick. Someone should cut him down to size. Someone like Tanner.

         Trailing within the gap of the new sergeant’s wake, Tanner locked sight on the twin tails flaunting themselves a few yards ahead. He spun his knife in his hand, feeling it with each finger. Testing its weight and grip. It whistled a soft tune as it spun. Even if he was the only one who could hear it, he still loved the tune. His knives always sang so beautifully. Holding the blade up towards his ear, Tanner appraised the fine detail of the tails dancing before him. He spoke to his knife, but made sure it was loud enough for the uptight prick to hear.

         “Oh. Yes, indeed. That is most certainly a lovely pair of tails.”

         The prude didn’t even bother to look back at Tanner. Just kept surging through the crowd, without so much as a backwards glance. Seemed rather rude, but Tanner figured as much, and kept eyeing those damn flashy tails.

         “Seems an awful shame to drag such things through the muck,” he leered. “Maybe we should see them retailored.”

         Leaning, he reached for one of the tails, feeling a strange excitement for cutting simple cloth. Usually this kind of excitement came with the thrill of cutting into a person. Still, he welcomed it all the same. He was looking forward to this, after all.

         “Somewhere more fitting,” he grabbed hold of the tail’s end, and brought his knife down in anticipation.

         The man before Tanner blurred, and the cold prong on the rear of his spear wheeled around to strike Tanner’s hand like a mallet swing. Releasing the fabric, Tanner allowed the momentum of the strike to throw his hand off to the side. Holding it aloft, he felt stinging heat rise from his palm and radiate from his knuckles. He couldn’t help but stare at his own hand for a moment. It seemed shocking that it got to be that way so quickly. One moment he had hold of some upturned prick’s tail, the next his knuckles stung like hell.

         He gradually turned back to deliver his annoyance to the uptight bloke, and caught sight of the single most forbidding glare he had ever received. Dark brown eyes stabbed fury at Tanner, raging like some kind of demon unleashed from the bowels of the deepest pits of Regret. It annoyed Tanner all the more, but surprised him also.

         “Touch them again,” the bristling prick fumed, “and you’ll need someone to sow shut the second asshole I rip into you!”

         An immediate hush fell over the masses filling the balley. There was a collective rustling as all turned towards the source of the disturbance. Eyes fell upon both Tanner and the out right prick, then glanced back and forth between them. Anticipation built, and the prick’s scowl deepened.

         Tanner couldn’t believe the absurdity of it all. He wheezed against his humor, then submitted to cackling in delight. He allowed his mirth to continue for a while longer, finding himself in rising good cheer. This was going to be fun, after all. Far more fun than he could’ve hoped for.

         Mid laugh, Tanner rushed the bastard. He readied his knife for a low strike. Best to wound the sergeant, and make sure he knew who was boss around here. Plus he could gloat in victory then.

         The sergeant moved with incredible anticipation, dropping the pack he carried, and hefting his spear into the air before them. The raging ass took hold of the lower end of the haft, gripping one hand just above the rear prong’s joining. Staffing the spear, the crafty bastard levered the shaft into Tanner’s shoulder. Following through the swing, the sergeant shoved hard, forcing Tanner to stumble back. It was damn lucky that Tanner even stayed on his feet.

         He stared at his shoulder feeling a slight tingling. Fortunately, his gambeson and mail had done their job to absorb most of the impact, yet Tanner could still tell he had been hit. He pressed his off hand to the spot, noting the sensation. In truth, it had been more jarring, than painful, being pushed back like that. Still, he was becoming increasingly agitated with this new sergeant.

         He returned his gaze to the same burning fury in those dark eyes. The bastard just stood there, spear at the ready. From this range he could’ve ran Tanner right through with the merest of thrusts. The spear tip stared Tanner straight in the face. He didn’t much care for that.

         Quick as a flash, Tanner drew a parrying dagger up against the joining of the spear head, flinging it up and out. Seeing his opening, he rushed in under the spear, sliding the dagger blade along the length of the shaft. His knife sang in anticipation, and he thrilled.

         Unexpectedly, the bastard released his spear, and threw his hands out towards Tanner’s wrists. Vice like grips squeezed shut around them, preventing any bend or flex. Both blades hung in the air. Upon locking Tanner’s hands in place, the sly bastard lunged forward, delivering a hard knee to the gut. The impact lifted Tanner off his feet, and he could feel the hard ass shoving against his wrists. The bastard actually threw him. Threw Tanner back like he was nothing.

         Tanner sprawled across the dirt, coming to a crouch. Noting the tingling in his gut, he couldn’t help but look upon the infuriating sergeant with rising loathing. The bastard simply burned fury back. Scrambling, Tanner returned to his feet, and readied his blades.

         He went in hot, fueled by mercilessness. He would cut this bastard, and have his tails. Tanner threw strike after strike at him, yet the damn sergeant kept weaving around the blades. No matter how quick the thrusts and cuts came, the stabs and slashes fell upon nothing. Tanner just couldn’t land a hit. The wily bastard seemed to anticipate every move, and countered them with incredible precision.

         Tanner raged in frustration as he kept at the bastard, trying everything he could think of. Yet the more moves he tried the more times he came out a bit more embarrassed. Here he was, the Slicer of Bristol, being flung about like a rag doll, and at the quick hands of some uptight prick of a sergeant, no less. Sometimes, the bastard threw him back, other times forward. Sometimes to either side, even. His wrists and knuckles grew sore, along with various other parts of his body.

         Finally, Tanner had a crazy idea. Thrusting his knife forward, he watched for the counter. Knuckles blurred towards his wrist, and Tanner instantly halted the knife’s progression. The sergeant’s fingers hesitated as Tanner’s blade hovered between them. Seizing the opportunity, Tanner pressed his blade’s edge to the top of the bastard’s hand and pulled back.

         His knife dug lightly into the skin, streaking red in its wake. The bastard let out a single bark of shock from the sudden cut, and recoiled. Feeling his victory approaching, Tanner readied both blades, and moved in for a final flourish.

         As the bloody bastard cradled his wounded hand, a sudden cry of exertion and a swift kick to the gut surprised Tanner. He felt like he should’ve seen it coming, but damn it was quick. Not to mention hard. Staggering back, Tanner hunched slightly as he remembered what his stomach normally felt like. Not like it did now.

         He glared angrily at the tricky bastard, who was inspecting his wound. Gradually, the sergeant raised his gaze to return to Tanner. At that moment, Tanner couldn’t help but sense that something was very, very wrong with this new sergeant. He could’ve sworn that the man’s eyes were a dark shit filled brown, but now they burned green. It was like gazing upon a vast forest, only to watch it all catch fire. Only to realize that the fire was coming for him.

         The bastard seemed to straighten, growing taller by the moment. He really wasn’t even all that tall, yet at this moment that didn’t matter. The man could probably kill a giant if he wanted to. His stupid mustache seemed to bristle, but Tanner could swear that not a single whisker swayed.

         The sergeant stood firm, ready for the next bit. Tanner would have to prod him back into an opportunity again. Rushing forward, he noted a small movement in the sergeant’s rear leg. Next thing he saw, a stool from a nearby circle of dice popped up into the air. The bastard actually caught it by a leg, and swung the entire thing for Tanner.

         Instinctively, Tanner threw his dagger forward in defense. With a loud smack, wood struck against the blade and hand guard, nearly sending the weapon from his hand. Before Tanner could fully recover from the hit, the stool curved back with vengeance. This time, his knife came to the defense, but did little. Tanner’s knuckles screamed in searing agony, yet he clenched his knife all the tighter, gripping against the pain.

         Then the stool drew back, and launched forward. Throwing both hands and blades up, the stool pressed them all against Tanner’s chest. The crazy bastard gripped the stool with both hands, and began pushing on it. Tanner felt himself stumbling to remain on his feet as the sergeant shoved harder. The bastard drove him along, growling all the while. After a good few yards, Tanner’s heels suddenly met with something solid.

         With a savage roar, the raging bastard threw Tanner out into space, where he flew briefly. Then he crashed onto a table top. Rolling, he swept a few loose tools from their resting place, scattering them about. Tanner toppled off the work table, and found the ground beneath it. Landing roughly, he groaned as his back stung all over.

         The mad bastard strode around the work table, and approached Tanner briskly. Green fire flared in his eyes as he glared over that fucking mustache of his. Then, he raised the stool high above his head.

         “Start shit with me, will you?” The crazed sergeant bellowed, as the stool apexed.

         “What in the hairy ass fucking circle of Regret is happening out here in this shit pit?” The voice boomed over the entire balley, gruff and unpleasant as ever.

         Tanner couldn’t help rolling his eyes at the sound, while the uptight sergeant turned sharply towards it, lowering the stool hesitantly. Glancing under the work table, he could see a parting within the crowd of on-lookers, and the master sergeant appeared. Men scattered like skittish deer from the superior, as he shouted his way through.

         “Everyone get the fuck back, or, so help me, I’ll tan your asses into leather!”

         Master Sergeant Palford caught sight of the new prick, and stuttered his step as his eyes recoiled from what looked like bewilderment. Continuing, slowly at first, Palford’s eyes bore down on the new sergeant before turning to spot Tanner on the ground. Snapping back to the new sergeant, Palford descended upon the prick with his most authoritative strut.

         “Who the fuck are you?” Palford demanded.

         In response, the lofty bastard tossed the stool to the ground before snapping the attention. He made the movement so fluidly, made the stance seem so natural. He looked like a total knob-end. Tanner wanted to vomit in disgust.

         “Sergeant Richard Ordell, sir.”

         What a terrible name that was.

         “Ordell, eh?” Palford barked, now feet away.

         “Yes, sir,” this Richard fuck continued. “Newly transferred out of Nottingdale.”

         “Nottingdale?” Palford appraised him for a moment. “I didn’t realize they liked the stir shit up at the old academy. What’d you do to go and piss away officer rank?”

         “Assault, sir,” Richard hesitated in his response, but continued. “Against four lawmen.”

         Palford’s eyes grew with some surprise. He gave the Richard bastard a look as though he just might fight him next.

         “Interesting,” Palford finally exclaimed, unblinking.

         The master sergeant noted the man’s rigid posture.

         “High regard for formality, low regard for the law.” Palford bore into Richard. “Or maybe they were just making right asses of themselves, and needed to be taught a lesson. Is that it, Ordell?”

         This Richard, whoever he was, seemed increasingly uncomfortable as Palford ranted on. His eyes flicked about ever so slightly as he searched for the right answer, as though it were written somewhere on Palford’s face. His mouth hung on the cusp of speech, yet nothing came out. Could he really be defeated by words?

         “I was in the wrong, sir,” Richard finally mumbled.

         It sounded so pathetic. What an absolute load of toss. Still, Palford appraised the sly bastard more thoughtfully.

         “Well it don’t put you in the right here, Sergeant,” he finally declared. “Your stubborn ass didn’t learn a damn thing in Nottingdale, you go and start scrapping about with the biggest piece of shit to ever bog out of Bristol.” He jabbed an accusatory finger at Tanner.

         “All the filthier to grime some color into your sorry excuse of a mustache, sir,” Tanner mused from his spot on the ground.

         “You watch your smart ass tone, Tanner,” Palford barked, “before I fit my fist elbow deep in your ass. You’ll be shitting out of both ends by the time I’m done with you.”

         Palford leaned towards him meaningfully, eyes squinting.

         “You’ll learn some damn respect, or come out of here permanently purple from the ass whoopings that are due to you, you filthy little weasel.”

         Tanner allowed himself to recline on the ground, looking away so Palford couldn’t see him roll his eyes. The master sergeant turned back to the Richard bloke.

         “Well then, Sergeant,” Palford continued, “since you’re new here, suppose now would be a good time to see the commander. Wouldn’t you agree?”

         “Of course, sir,” Richard sucked up to Palford, even if with some hesitation.

         “Very good then,” Palford announced. “Right this way.”

         Motioning with his head, Palford turned about and led the new bastard off. Tanner didn’t rush to get up after that. He took his time, eyeing the two men. His eyes stabbed into Richard’s back as the sergeant followed off. Glared daggers as the slick fuck recovered his spear and pack, before dressing his wounded hand at Palford’s urging. Pressed upon the devious bastard as he took to following the master sergeant once again. Eventually, both men disappeared amongst the masses as they strode off for the old keep. Still, Tanner wanted to cut both of them, badly.
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