Saturday, October 17, 2015

Red As Any Blood--Part 36

Bres regarded the men before him.  They were, he felt, a singularly unimpressive lot, even by the low standards of the Leonais armies, which seemed to him under Amfortas to have switched to the novel method of pulling men off the street, putting weapons in their hands and declaring them soldiers. 

Not that he, as a Prince's Man was in any position to criticize over being selected through odd hiring practices, but he at least had skills that were of use in something like this.

The men were talking amongst themselves, with resentful glances that suggested rather distressing things to Bres' mind.  He cleared his throat.  "Gentlemen," he began, "I think we can all agree we are in dire straits at the mom--"

"Where's Captain Kessler?" asked one of them.

"The Captain is under the weather," answered Bres, simply, which he felt was a better answer than 'roaring drunk, and about as useless sober'.  "I am taking command here, as senior Prince's Man..."

"We're Leonais army!" declared that one boldly.  "We answer to a Leonais officer!"

"That would be me," said Bres.

"No, you Prince's Men are another thing!" continued the apparent Leonais military maven.  "Unless you can show that you are an officer of the realm, independent of your being a member of the Prince-Regent's personal guard, I have no obligation  to obey any order you give. Nor does any man here!"

Bres rubbed his temples, as he considered how best to deal with this.  "That may be so in most cases," he explained at last, but this is an emergency..."

"That is irrelevant," proclaimed the man, the men around him starting to nod along, "the laws of war are the laws of war!  And the laws of war being so, we will not take any orders from you, but only from Captain Kessler."

Bres nodded dully.  "Indeed."

"Further, as our pay is in arrears and has been for the last five months," stated the man, "we refuse to muster and perform any military action until it is paid."  The others chirped in agreement.

"On what authority do you take this action?" snapped Bres.

"The Leonais laws of war!" said the man. 

"And the fact that there are a lot of us!" said another.  "And we've got weapons!"

Bres stared at the men for a moment.  "I have to admit," he said at last, "your argument has a certain weight."

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