‘All has been going well, quite well, save the imprisonment of Sergeant Flint, another matter to deal with at another date. Training has been conducted for the most part on time and as directed. Lieutenant McBain seems to be holding events for most of the vets on active duty. Although I think the unit leaders need to pick up the reigns more.
The recruits seem to be steadily working their way into units, although the two unit holding tanks are getting a little larger than I expected. The income of new recruits seems to have dropped some, typical for the season.
Operationally I see us in the finest condition the Society has been in some years, save the days of old which of course will never again be seen.
I will be taking leave starting this week; Major Matthew Delios is more than ready to assume full command for the short duration of my absence. I trust he can keep things in once piece. He had been at this for a while now. I wish him luck with his undead campaign.’
Colonel Anubis Garret
Executive Officer, Black Rose Society
Anubis tucked his journal in his pack, then drew it out and opened it. He paused a moment, never remembering signing a journal entry with his last name. He had his reasons to keep it a secret, but no more. He closed it, replaced it in the pack and tossed it over his shoulder. A few months of leave lay ahead of him. He had moored his ship off the coast of Head Quarters the night before so he could head out at dawn. This would be his last trip so he had wanted to get an early start on it. The tiller man, Stitch hauled on some crates and lead two horses on. Then drew in the gangplank and hoisted up the anchor with a nod and a grin to the Colonel, with the next gust of wind the great ship sailed seaward into the morning fog.
“Colonel sir, ya ain’t gonna catch nothn’ at this speed sir.” Anubis drew back to cast out another line and shot a cold glance aft at the tiller man.
“Thank you Morris, but I spent a good deal of time on a floating brig a while ago, and I think I have this fishing thing down.” He shot back, tugging his hook and line out of the main sail.
“I ”˜ate it when he calls me that,” Stitch murmured under his breath. “So where we ”˜eaded dis time sir?” chuckling a bit at the sight. Anubis snapped the pole in two, “Check the map, I already plotted the course.”
Armand stood motionless on the shores as the ocean surf slammed into the rocks below. In his hand he clenched a letter, a letter from his father. Finally he would meet him, for sixteen long years he had lived on the island, isolated from the world. His father’s letters came once a month, and from them the world seemed a dark and terrible place. But he was ready for it. His father had spared no expense in his upbringing, shipping in the finest tutors and equipment. Journal entries, strategy guides, handbooks, even penned copies of the Societies Annals. Armand soaked it all in. It was his father’s life, and now it was bread into him.
A drow slave named Drez’et had raised Armand. The drow hated the boy as much as he hated being a slave. Drez’et was strictly forbidden to speak his native tongue while on the island. Anubis would not have the boy growing up listening to such filth. The drow was however an excellent choice to raise the boy. The Colonel had always admired the drow for their prowess, and ruthlessness on the battlefield, he simply had no taste for their religious beliefs.
“Best get your armor polished boy, the Colonel will be here tomorrow!” Drez’et spat, walking up behind Armand.
“I know, and it is already done, now run along and go catch some snakes for your diner.”
Drez’et hissed and pulled his blade in an instant slashing at the boys’ head, Armand responded in equal fashion and speed blocking the attack.
“You are getting slow drow, might want to try and find a nest, get those snakes before they can hatch.” Armand grinned spinning his blade and dropping it into its scabbard.
“Bah, see we will what good that blade does you tomorrow.”
Dawn broke once more in an eerie fog off the coast of the jungle island.
“Land ho!” Stitch bellowed out.
Anubis strolled up on deck tossing his cloak over his shoulder.
“An ye were on leave dere, Colonel?”
“Leave is a term we use to withhold paychecks” Anubis grinned.
“Dis island ain’t on da map sir, where da ”˜ell are we?
“Its an old Society of the Iron Rose training site, it wouldn’t be on a map.”
“Naught lookn like dere be many a place to put in, lotsa rocks and cliffs,” the old sailor noted peering through his spyglass.
“That’s really the point, there…” the Colonel pointed to a large tree, guide us in off that.
“Iron Rose? I though dey was disbanded years ago?”
“Yes, all but one, all but one, just incase. I have a copy of everything here, Stitch I won’t have it all lost again. I’ve got two oaths to uphold.”
“Ya’ll are some damn sneaky bastards, the General know bout this place?”
“He doesn’t need to know, but rest assured, with Ring-wielders and crooked politicians on the float, the Society is better off for it.”
“Whos da last one?”
“That would be a long story, but since it looks like you are going to have to take us around to the South end of the island, cause your about to hit that reef.” Anubis smirked.
“Oly shit!” Stitch hollered as he pulled the ship hard to port. “Dat was a close one, thanks Colonel.”
“Aye, well I was on assignment…” Anubis began.
I say assignment; I was really on a drinking binge with my old buddy Demelock. We had been living under the tap at Kent’s for about a week or so. Worst part was, we were on duty. I say worst part but that was pretty much the norm for Dem and me. We did some of our best fighting drunk off our asses. And you can ask Naz, he was our corporal then, he used to make us down three pitchers before every battle.
Stitch chuckled a bit, and Anubis ducked down and lit a pipe.
Well as for the week before we took some pretty heavy losses to the Shadowclan, lost one of our best friends, a lad named Nekwi, got cut in two during an ambush on a recon mission. So we had plenty of reason to be drinking as if we ever really needed one.
After we finally got thrown out for the last time one night. I ran into a pretty little lass on my way out the door. Next morning, or I should say afternoon, I got up out of my tent and she was gone. Didn’t think much of it, till I ran into Demelock at the Pint. Apparently he had some wandering healer get me and that lass married. Had plenty of laughs over it, till nine months later, when I get this letter from a healer in Brit.
The lass had died giving birth to our son, and the fella requested I come pick the boy up. So I put in for a weeks leave and headed to Brit. My unit was headed to this island a week after that, so we met them here.
Few months later I picked up my commission and got assigned to the Desert. Month after that we got cut to pieces in Yew and I assumed command. I didn’t need to be toting some kid all over Sosaria; I didn’t need to complication or the compromise. I had an obligation to my troops. The Rose comes first.
“Sounds like ya got some guilt der sir, I didn’ questin’ ye rearn the boy up like ye did?”
“Bah, never, the boy learned his place, just like I did. I could be so lucky as to have the training he has gotten.”
Stitch said nothing, just nodded and turned into a small harbor.
Soon after they moored and Stitch began unloading the cargo. Drez’et greeted his master with a bow. “I shall see to your things master, the boy is on his morning run.”
“Very well, take them up to the main house.” Anubis ordered.
“Two months Stitch.”
“Aye der Colonel.”
Anubis whispered a short incantation and rose up on his ethereal.
“Private Third Class Armand Garret reporting as ordered sir.” the young private snapped off a precision salute and came to attention.
Anubis sat behind a desk in the officer’s quarters; he looked the boy over and nodded.
“At ease Private.”
“I was reviewing your reports here, seems you are getting tired of this assignment?”
Armand swallowed hard and shook off a look of disbelief. Sixteen years he thought to himself, and his first words are about my reports.
“Yes, Colonel, I would also at this time like, with your permission sir, request a transfer from the SIR, to BRS Head Quarters in Trinsic, sir.”
“I assumed you would, your relief will be here in two months.”
“Very good Colonel, thank you” this time he kept his bearing.
“That is all private, dismissed.”
“Yes sir.” he snapped to attention and flagged another salute, did an about face and exited the office.
“Yes sir?” turning about.
“I brought two mounts out with me, you will be issued one, for training at this compound. Privates in the Rose do not ride. However in the event you are picked up by a cavalry unit later in your career its best you know how.”
“Thank you sir.”
“Do not thank me private, head out to the stable and get familiar with tending to them.”
“Right away sir.”
That was all he knew, and he was satisfied with their first encounter. Armand would make a good solider, he followed orders to the letter, he was smart with the blade and over the next two months learned to ride. Combat on horseback was a good deal more challenging than on foot. It was clear he was trained by the drow in that respect. For they were never seen mounted. Perhaps this was for the best for now.
Anubis spent most of the days there preparing the documents and the copies of the Annals for turnover. Armand spent his days training and preparing the outpost for turnover. And never in-between did the two share a word on anything that did not deal with the task at hand.
Stitch arrived at the harbor a day early,.
“Colonel Garret, good to see you again sir.” A man dressed in black announced.
“You to, let me show you around, I need to catch this tide, so it will be brief.” Anubis responded.
Anubis took the new relief on a tour, no name was ever spoken.
“Any questions?” the Colonel asked.
“No sir, I await your first correspondence in one month, and will reply shortly after.”
“Very well, In Protection… be vigilant” Anubis shook his hand.
“Aye sir, In Protection of the Rose.” The man in black responded.
As they headed out to sea Armand looked to his father, “Sir, am I to be enlisted in the Rose?”
“Not yet, soon, but not yet…”