Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Siege of the White Mountain, Vol. 3: Due to the Dead--Part 23

The men were willing about, almost at random, when Brothers Law and Cord arrived there to try and get them to form a pike line.  It was proving difficult.

"We're going to die!" screamed a man.  "We're going to die!  We're going to die!"

"Sir... Please calm yourself," muttered Brother Law.  "We are..." He started trying to say 'Not going to die' bu the lie died in his throat.

Brother Cord stopped trying to get a man who had rolled himself into a ball on the ground to get up.  "This is going badly, Law."

"I can see that," snapped the senior Flagellant.  He took a deep breath.  "Right.  I've got one last desperate trick.  If it works, excellent.  If it doesn't--well, we're all but dead men anyway, so--worth the risk.  I'll just need you to back me during it..."

"Brother Law, this sounds... rather... terrifying..." said Cord.

"And this situation isn't?" muttered Brother Law as he found a sturdy barrel to stand on.  Steadying himself on it, he turned to the crowd.  "Men of LEONAIS!"  Bit by bit, the men slowly quieted, and turned to see him.  "I will not lie to you--our situation is grim!"

Cord flinched.  "Not helping us, Justin."

"We may indeed stand before Douma Dalkiel herself," declared Brother Law.  "Well, if I'm going to see the Black Bitch, I will look her in the face before I spit in her eye."  Cord blinked as Law removed his mask. "My name as a Flagellant is 'Brother Law'.  As a man it is Justin True.  And it is as a man of Leonais that I will stand with you today!  All I ask is that you follow!"

The men stared at him in a sort of simple awe.  Cord stood there for a moment, and then took off his own mask.  "I am 'Brother Cord' as a Flagellant.  As a man, I am 'Aaron Smithson'."  He took a deep breath.  "And I will follow him."  He stepped behind his sworn brother, and crossed his arms.

The men began to follow them as they moved forward, two unremarkable men in white cloaks, and then it happened.  Three more Flagellants appeared.  "Brothers Cord and Law," said Brother Strict, as Lash and Fist looked on.  "What have you done with your masks?"

"Given the situation, Brother," said Justin quietly, "We have decided to go without them as we lead the men into battle."

Strict was silent for a moment.  Then he removed his mask.  "Very well," he said.  "I, Bartholomew Swift, shall do this as well."

Lash and Fist stared for a moment, and then took off their own masks.  "Gregory Dern," said Lash.

"Matthew Miller," stated Fist, plainly.  He looked at the crowd.  "Brothers... it is an honor to die with you."

And so the Flagellants prepared for battle.

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