Thursday, October 29, 2015

Red As Any Blood--Part 41

Bres was playing on a flute when Captain Kessler found him on the shore, something that Kessler found quite surprising, as he  had no idea the Prince's Man could play any instrument whatsoever.  He stood there for a moment, listening to the music playing, and finally managed a cough.  Bres put down the flute and looked out at the water for a long silent moment. 

"Do you know what he did?" he stated all at once.

Captain Kessler blinked at that.  "Who?  Ryke?"

Bres nodded.  "Aside from killing... oh, whoever that was..."

"Corporal Adge," said Kessler.  "Good man.  He served with me on the border, way back."

"Ahh, yes, aside from killing poor Corporal Adge," muttered Bres absently.  He stomped his feet absently against the ground.  "He was a robber.  And not a dashing sort of robber, though I've no doubt he imagines himself one, but a man who robbed pilgrims for small amounts of coin.  On one of his missions, he became rather obsessed with a female pilgrim."  He glanced at the captain.  "I suspect you can guess how the rest of the story went, and so I won't recount it."

Kessler thought it over , and then sat down beside Bres.  "So what's he doing in the Prince's Men?"  He frowned and shut his eyes.  "Hells, what are he and that lunatic Pell and half a dozen other men like them doing working for the Prince?"

"I can't answer you about Pell specifically," muttered Bres, "but in Ryke's case, Amfortas thought he showed a daring.  A willingness to do anything to achieve his goals.  That's what he looks for in his servants.  Well, that and men and women who will be thankful to escape the noose."

"So what did you do, Bres?" asked Kessler.

"I was a poacher," replied the man simply.  "Nothing more.  But when I was in the dungeon waiting to dance the hempen jig, the Prince saw me, declared I had the face of an utter villain and gave me the offer.  As hanging for killing three pheasants struck me as a rather bad way to go, I took it."  He shrugged.  "As I said, being thankful to escape the noose counts for something.  Quite a bit, really."

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