Chapter 7b: Watch for the Return

Chapter 7b: Watch for the Return

At the grim old watchtower overlooking Baden Falls, the remaining soldiers set about making their encampment comfortable and secure. Lieutenant Wyndshof sets up a watchbill where six men will be on patrol along the parapets; six resting, eating, and practicing or repairing equipment; and six sleeping, each group on their duties for eight hours.

Betsey, the remaining chaperone, works hard to keep everyone well fed and the laundry clean, but it's a losing battle until she recruits a volunteer from each of the teams to help out when they are on their rest cycle. The food is limited to rations, supplemented by a bit of fresh food left over from the 3rd Eastgard's stint and some tough biscuits baked with the company's flour stores. She keeps the portions tightly controlled, for the Lieutenant hasn't authorized any foraging expeditions until the other group of six returns.

If they return. Everyone in the company remembers the battle on the road, just a few days ago, where the hundred-strong force was almost wiped out by a gnoll attack. The odds that six men--five men and a woman, really--would manage to find and bring back the lost horses was a prospect that even the boldest of the young soldiers could scarcely believe in.

Nate, Giles, and Rufus are all on the team that's on their rest cycle right now. That'll give you the most flexibility to socialize and "get to know each other", even though you've really been together for a few weeks now.

The small stone-surrounded building was quiet. The few benches in the room were empty and would be for days -or months to come. The manpower behind Baden Falls was nothing more than a handful of novices and amateurs. Even the walls reflected the solemn feelings of this. Empty coat hooks, untouched cots, the stillness of the whole place echoed the sentiments of those few who had survived long enough to hear it.

Withers' blonde hair hid his tears. His head rested in his open palms as they propped him up from the wooden tabletop. An open book sat just below his chin and avoided the occasional drop by inches. The pages revealed were empty, and Withers had found the whole book was void of any writing. He'd found it in the footlocker at the end of his assigned bed last night. He'd left it there until and after a good night's rest he'd pulled it out and brought it here to this secluded -but only because of the lack of soldiers- place. He'd expected to find something, anything, within it's leather bound casing. But when he'd found it empty with not even a hint of practiced writing or torn edge, it had been enough to set him off. Until now, he'd held up well against any emotions thrust upon him by the recent attack.

The young soldier wiped away the last tear from his cheek and allowed himself a loud inhale to clear his nostrils. The silence of the room enveloped him once again and he reached for the vial of ink that rested a few inches from the book.

He tapped the quill on the side of the tiny glass jar to allow the excess ink to drop back in. Then he began to write with as steady a hand as he could.


The final tally is seventy-five. Seventy-five honorable and deserving men died in the attack just beyond the borders of Baden Falls. We are the lucky few who made it. This will be our testament. We will remember those fallen before us, our comrades and commanding officers alike...

In the refectory, Giles gnaws on a biscuit, grinding it down with his teeth and dogged preservation. Its a not a quiet affair, but he doesn't dramatize it, so its unlikely to disturb anyone else. Not like the gathering in the refectory was anything other than a manner of convenience now that so many bunks were empty. The sight of a lone soldier lounging and taking his time with his small portion of food is certainly not so unusual.

"What, the Lieutenant? He's in his quarters." He directs one of the others on rest to the door with a wave of a hand, not like they don't know where to go by now, but its automatic rather than energetic. "Man, I volunteered to get away from baking, but I think I best take it up again. Wouldn't be so bad to get some proper bread than this stuff, not like we are going anywhere soon." He sets the biscuit down in his plate and stares down at it, pupils dilating slightly as he brings all of his attention to bear on the ever-so-slightly moistened item and its holder.

"Well, not going anywhere that we'll need food anyways." He grins after this, a sudden flash of white in his dark face, "Paradise or home is likely to be our next destination. Maybe one and the same, hey? Heh."

Who is he talking to? Who knows. Feel free to jump in, lets get the 'socializing' or as it looks to be 'doomilazing' on. Maybe someone is an optimist!

"Well, paradise or bust, I'd say", the young man in front of Giles replies. Nate is edgy, as you can tell easily by the way he keeps pacing around the refectory, always keeping his hands busy. He has even ground his sword twice today without any actual need.
"I came here to see some action and I sure as hell won't go back to my town without some metal on my chest." Nate smiles and sweeps a dreadlock out of his face: "Thanks anyways, and don't choke on those bloody biscuits!" With a scurrying pace the slender young man then heads in the direction he was given by Giles.

Nate opens the door to the refectory and heads out into the evening air. It's quiet, as it has been since the 3rd Eastgard left, and aside from one of his watchmates relaxing near the well, there's no activity in the courtyard to speak of. Wyndshof's quarters are across the way, where another from the small team is standing outside, waiting on the officer's call.

In the refectory, busy Betsey just clucks at Giles's remark. "You want tender biscuits, you can damn well cook them yourself," she huffs in the direction of the young soldier. "Soon as you can find some proper soda." On the heavy side and with unkempt raven locks, Betsey has been nothing but grumpy ever since Mistress Marin, the head chaperone for the company, went out with the team to try and retrieve horses.

"S'what I'm talking about." Giles agrees amiably enough, his passion not rising to her ire. "Technique can make up for ingredients, sometimes." His volume drops on the last part of that sentence, but he smiles brightly afterward all the same, "I remember pillowy mounds of mashed potatoes... onions and garlic-gravy. Mom wasn't exactly inventive, but she honed her side dishes, let me tell you."

Pushing back from the table and rising to his feet, his hands move into the automatic soldier's pat, checking his belt, scabbard, concealed weapons. Then he picks up the biscuit and the plate, moving with them to the dish repository. "But here, every day is an adventure, culinary, bureaucratically or violently. So cheer up, we've a leg up on the silent majority, don't we?" Giles attempts to mollify Betsey with these words as he cleans his own plate, resting the biscuit in-between his teeth for the duration of the activity. He glances out the door after Nate briefly at this point, too.

Nate nods to his comrade, he's not too much in the mood for idle chatter. His hyperactive streak leaves him restless during times such as these while his fellow soldiers seem to rather enjoy the rare faineance. On his way to the officer's quarters Nate gets second thoughts about bugging his superior. He still hasn't got used to chain of command and blind discipline and all that. Sure, Mack Graniteshoulders had taught him obedience, but idly sitting around like this without anyone telling them what's going on? Maybe this is what being a soldier is all about in the end, he thinks by himself, retracing his steps to the refectory. Sittin', waitin', listenin'. He enters the refectory once again, sits down opposite of Giles and snatches away one of his last biscuits.
With a loud sigh he says to noone in particular: ""Sweet Lord, am I bored!", stretches his arms and legs and leans back in his chair.

The page filled quickly as Withers tried to recall as much of the attack as he could. He knew there was plenty he missed, the fog of war accounted for more than enough holes, but it felt good to get it out. He finished the page with a single denotion; R.W.

After a few moments, just enough for the ink to dry, the young soldier closed the leather book. Replacing the cork on the ink bottle and retrieving the quill he headed back towards the living quarters.

He walked into the refectory just as his comrade sighed his boredom. Withers hid his distaste for the sentiment. Boredom meant being alive. He quietly put his things away in a
Only if I'm correct in thinking the refectory would hold our personal items..if not, he'll hold onto them or have dropped them off on the way in here.

"When do we expect the others?" Withers asked the group.

"Bored like a sword?" Giles twists his head to the left, his shoulders riding up and then down in a lithe movement. Whatever sentiment he is trying to convey, it is evidentally distracted by Wither's entrance and the question he poses. His smile is swallowed, like a lantern being doused, turning his countenance dour.

"Do we?"

The snark comment caught the blonde boy a bit deep, but he tried not to let it affect him too much. He stammered through his response but soon found himself back to form, "I just thought, you know, they'd be returning soon."

When he realized that there was no place for him to properly store his new journal and ink jar in the refectory -he'd been silly to think he would in the first place- he slid the leatherbound book under his arm. Withers stood awkwardly at the door's entrance for a moment, always the outsider among his peers due to his introduction into the ranks by connection rather than ability, and the feeling was not entirely one-sided. Sometimes he felt different than the others and now those feelings were being brought back to the surface. He felt tired, worn, exhausted from his earlier tears, but he could not rest now.

The boy took a seat at the table and placed his quill, ink, and book on the tabletop in front of him.


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