The First Contract

The First Contract

A Chapter by Brandon M. Whittaker
"

Fyrethil's first actual battle with the Phoenixfire Mercenaries and the first friends he made.

"
The Phoenixfire Chronicles
Entry #002 Year 10500 BR (Before Reconstruction)
Logged by Jeena Kethala


"Hey, you're Fyrethil, right? The Phoenix they found laying half-dead in the road?"

The voice was more inquisitive than it was biting, though the bite was there, he also seemed to be having a little trouble pronouncing his name. Fyrethil diverted his attention from his current task to look across the campfire at the one who had spoken to him. He was a man of average height, but a rather muscular build and judging by the smaller, white wings on his back, he was a Siren.

Sirens of his kind weren't the ones of myth, no they were something like Phoenixes, but they more-over controlled water whenever it was available to them. That would make this season perfect for this man's fighting skills, it was the rainy season in this province.

Fyrethil moved the whetstone across his blade one more time without looking away from the Siren, and since the interaction seemed friendly enough, Fyrethil graced him with a rare smile. "Indeed, I am, and you are?"

The siren plopped down next to him, wings flapping a little as he settled himself. "I'm Gorta, and I will call you Ryth because I can't pronounce your name. I'm a Siren. I've been with the Phoenixfire Mercenaries for two or three seasons now." Gorta was actually far from bragging. Fyrethil was under the impression that the Siren was just trying to spark up a conversation, which was fine by him. The Phoenix knew nobody here, he had no friends, not even any acquaintances other than Loraina, the Captain of the Phoenixfire Mercenaries.

"Then it sounds like you know what you're doing out there and how things work around the company. That's valuable, I've never met any mercenaries before you guys found me, and it's only been a few weeks since then."

Gorta nodded slowly and the corner of his mouth quirked a little into a kind of half-smile. "Well, then I guess this would be your first contract with us. I know it doesn't seem very exciting, we've been traveling for days, hardly getting much rest. You haven't spoken to anyone since you arrived, save Loraina, but that was purely business."

"I figured that for now I would stay quiet, the less most people know about me the better off they'll be. Besides, I've heard the survival rate for mercenaries wasn't very high, so making friends only to have them get picked off seems rather foolish." Fyrethil didn't really realize how single-minded and naive he sounded until after he'd finished speaking. The astonishment that came with that realization caused him to visibly wince, and Gorta was quick to catch that.

"Don't worry. Despite the fact that you've been misdirected greatly, our survival rate is a lot more than you think. True enough, most of the greens are the ones that die first, so surviving a season is kind of a rite of passage."

Fyrethil blinked at the use of the word "greens." He didn't quite understand what Gorta was talking about, but there was no sense in trying to figure it out on his own. "Greens?" he inquired, quirking an eyebrow.

"Recruits." Gorta offered flatly. "The fresh ones. You're a green, but somehow I don't think you'll have a problem handling yourself in battle."

That brought a genuine smile to Fyrethil's face. It was true, he shouldn't have a problem. Gorta was a good judge of character.

"Although," Gorta continued, cutting off Fyrethil's thoughts. "It seems that lately we've been having disappearances."

"Are you sure they just haven't deserted?" Fyrethil put in, finding it hard to believe that people just wound up missing.

"Hard to say, we've never really had deserters before, usually people don't leave the Phoenixfires unless they retire or die." Gorta shrugged then and stood up, clapping Fyrethil on the shoulder and giving him a wide smile. "Welcome to the Phoenixfire Mercenary Corps, Fyrethil, I'm sure you'll like it here. I'm gonna get some sleep, it just so happens I'm one of the people you're sharing a tent with."

"I was wondering about that," Fyrethil said with a little chuckle. "What about the other two?"

"Oh, Hilrek and Jeena. They won't be around though, they usually don't wander in until later, and they're usually the first ones up."

"Jeena sounds like a woman's name," Fyrethil said, causing Gorta to stop in the middle of the "doorway" to the four-man tent, hand still holding the flap open.

"It is," he replied shortly and disappeared into the tent.

Fyrethil shrugged that bit of information off and ran the whetstone down the length of his blade a couple more times, examined his work with an expert's eye. Satisfied, he sheathed the blade, carrying it with him into the tent.

~~~~~~~~

Fyrethil tightened his grip on Hyana's reins. The battlemare stamped her feet impatiently as she knew that he was currently revisiting memories known to be dangerous to the mind. Fyrethil seemed to sense her impatience and patted her neck gently. "Easy, thunderhooves. I'm sorry I haven't been paying much attention.

The mare tossed her main indignantly and started forward following the rest of the company out of the now-packed up campsite. They would be at their destination sometime today, but the last courier that came through looking for them had stated that the battle was likely to begin sometime this morning. Which meant they would be getting there late.

"Heyla, Ryth!"

Fyrethil knew that voice from the previous night, and he smiled as Gorta came riding up from behind. The Siren's mount slowed to match Hyana's pace and Gorta reached out a hand. Fyrethil clasped his hand in a warrior's hand-shake, gripping Gorta's arm at the elbow and the Siren reciprocating.

"Jeena scouted ahead and reported that we should be reaching our destination around midday," Gorta said gleefully.

"Hopefully when we get there there will still be a client to help!"

That voice was female. Fyrethil wagered a guess that this was the Jeena his friend had been talking about. Yes, friend. Fyrethil could accept that.

He was correct in his guess, for a female came riding to join them, pulling up at Fyrethil's other side. To his astonishment, she was also a Phoenix! Her wings were a reflection of his own, despite the fact that her primaries were a darker teal while his were a dark red. Her hair was brown and she kept it in a high tail, though he guessed that if she let it down it would fall to about her mid back. She was rather beautiful, as well. Her eyes held a kindness that seemed to mask a harder edge. The thing about Phoenixes was their eye-color directly reflected the color of their primary feathers, which made her eyes a deep teal.

"Julara heya, Ryth!"

"Julara oketa, Jeena." He had guessed that Gorta had spread his nickname by now, and he would have to get used to it.

Fyrethil smothered a laugh as he spotted confusion on Gorta's face out of the corner of his eye. They had been speaking in their native language, though Fyrethil decided to speak through his long, black hair. If she was a Phoenix, then she would recognize his face, all of his people knew him from his past. They knew his face to be that of the middle prince of the now-dead royal family.

"Why do you hide your face from me, veelith?"

She had used the Phoenixian term for friend, though Fyrethil wasn't entirely sure he could trust her. However, he knew the custom, when one speaks to a friend...

"...One must face them with honor and truth," Jeena finished for him. She had read his mind, literally. Phoenixes were also telepathic creatures and communicate, read thoughts and memories, and even attack other peoples' minds, provided they weren't shielded.

Fyrethil let out a low sigh as he realized now that he had to show his face to her. Slowly, he brushed his hair out of his face and turned to look at her, and as he expected, her eyes lit up with recognition.

"My Lord! I had no idea!"

"Fe'chra shina'me Jeena! Stop that!" He hissed as quietly as he could. "You know damn well what happened..."

Jeena was clearly taken aback by both his sudden use of vulgarity and the tone in his voice. She hung her head as if in shame. "Minas soreh, I am sorry, my Lord."

Fyrethil had to smile then, this wouldn't do at all. Other mercenaries had already turned their heads in curiosity when she had exclaimed the words "My Lord" almost as loud as she could. "Worry not, veelith, and you don't need to call me 'my Lord.' Ryth will work just fine."

"But I thought your name was Xethnar..." Jeena said, still sounding a little down.

Fyrethil shook his head. "No longer, Jeena. I've left my royal ties behind."

"Regardless, I'm glad you're safe. After the destruction, I feared none of the royal bloodline had survived. But now that you stand here before me I know the gods have not abandoned us."

Fyrethil graced her with a smile then, blatantly ignoring the continuous curious looks coming from their fellow mercenaries. Gorta, however, had been listening in on their whole conversation.

"No worries, Fyre! Your secret is safe with me," he said, almost too happily.

Fyrethil tossed a smile to him, too, and clapped him on the shoulder. "Thank you, Gorta. That means a lot to me."

"Sure! But how are we going to explain this to Hilrek?" Gorta replied.

Jeena smothered a giggle. "Very slowly, Gorta. Very slowly."

~~~~~~

It was a midday that the three of them found themselves mounted atop a hill in the midst of the massive throng of mercenaries. They peered down the hill and onto a battle that was well into play already. Loraina, their elven Captain, stood just in front of their ranks. She turned her mount around after surveying the battle below and smiled. "You all know what to do!"

There were cheers and shouts that thundered over even the noise of the battlefield. The result was not a complete silence, but a noticeable lowering of the noise from below. "Sound the charge!" came Loraina's call.

Three war horns sounded then, and the Phoenixfire Mercenaries launched forward in a mounted attack with swords drawn toward the enemy forces below. It didn't take long for them to cover the distance between themselves and their foes. The plan wasn't to stay mounted for long, however, for as soon as they completed their first pass, they were to dismount and charge in on foot.

Fyrethil looked from Gorta to Jeena about half way through the pass and locked eyes with each of them. "NOW!" he cried. On that cry, all three of them leaped from their mounts, flipping down with vertical slashes to take down an enemy each. They fought there, three surrounded by many, holding them off as the rest of the company came in, clashing with the enemy's western flank.

Fyrethil and Jeena had come to a mutual decision that using magic wasn't the greatest of ideas. In the chaos it was easy to mistake friend for foe, and some magical blasts were used to take out numerous enemies.

"Friendly fire isn't," Fyrethil remembered as he turned and cut down a few more enemies, standing back-to-back with Jeena. This was a typical battle for him, even though he wasn't used to having people fight with him. Most battles, Fyrethil ran off into the cluster of bodies by himself, taking on five and ten enemies at once.

Yet, somehow this felt better. Having two teammates that were watching his back and him theirs was a great feeling. That, coupled with the jokes that Gorta was barking out as he killed, made this battle fun. The Phoenix found himself laughing almost hysterically as he fought, listening to Gorta run his mouth. Taking out an enemy before Jeena suffered a blade to the back, he noted that she was laughing, too.

It hadn't seemed like they'd been fighting long when cheers sounded from their client's forces. Turning around, Fyrethil saw the enemy retreating back the direction they came and he joined his fellow mercenaries in an adrenaline-fueled cry of victory. Suddenly he felt weight on his shoulders as Jeena leaped onto his back, one arm across his chest for support. She held her blade in the air cheering and mocking the retreating enemies, Fyrethil saw fit to do the same, putting one arm around the back of her leg to help support her.

When they were all out of site, Jeena leaped off his back and sheathed her blade, smiling at Fyrethil with something a little greater than friendship hidden behind it. He noticed it immediately, though he didn't say anything.

"I have to say, Jeena, fighting beside you was intense and amazing," he said proudly.

The female Phoenix giggled and brushed a strand of hair out of her face. "And fighting with you, Fyrethil, was an honor, and an immense pleasure."

As they both expected, Gorta jumped in on this with great enthusiasm, pulling them both into a mighty hug. "And don't forget about Gorta! Who you should both be honored and pleasured to be fighting with!" The Siren stated loudly and very proudly. The three of them laughed and called for their mounts, ready to ride to their client's keep and collect their pay.


© 2012 Brandon M. Whittaker


Author's Note

Brandon M. Whittaker
Don't be overly critical, I was extremely tired when I wrote this, but I feel like it's relatively decent :)

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Added on April 24, 2012
Last Updated on April 24, 2012
Tags: mercenary, mercenaries, mercenary company, battle, war, phoenix, siren


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Brandon M. Whittaker
Brandon M. Whittaker

San Diego, CA



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