Renegade Project 3: The Educated Mercenary

You keep your steady gaze on the old merchant. “I never sign something without reading it myself. As a merchant, surely you understand.”

He narrows his gray-blue eyes at you.  “Are you trying to claim literacy?”

You scoop up the parchment and read the first line in flawless articulation.

Your potential employer leans back in his chair, raises his eyebrows and views you with a renewed respect.  “An intelligent mercenary? What an intriguing thought. An oddity at the very least. Tell me, what is your past and why a learned man is reduced to selling his blade?”

Lifting your head, you reply:


“I was raised by a band of monks.”


“I am actually the lost son of a displaced nobleman.”


“Suffice it to say I have friends and connections of my own. However, we were discussing your job, not my personal history.”


Voting is open until Friday.

For those who missed the rules for this game check them out here!

And to see how this adventure began, see Renegade Project #1

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

40 comments on “Renegade Project 3: The Educated Mercenary

  1. Band of monks! Band of monks!
    You can write fight scenes, right. Ka-pow!

  2. Definitely a band of monks. Perhaps warrior monks?

    • You guys been watching too much Airbender or what? lol

      I actually orignally envisioned just the typical western/english monks, pacifists etc. The idea being that they educated him, not necessarily trained him to fight. The second skill came later in the backstory.

      However… if most of the group wants to go for more of a secretive, skilled band of monks, I think I could adapt to that. So those who actually want more of an anime-ish monk clan… put that in your vote and we’ll see how much of an interest there is in that. No promises of how it will turn out since I’ve never written that type of character/plotline before, but hey, why not?

  3. […] Ask questions and insist on reading the contract yourself […]

  4. Logical choice: “Suffice it to say I have friends and connections of my own. However, we were discussing your job, not my personal history.”

    But the monk one would be more fun.

  5. The last one would be great for establishing a sarcastic, savvy character. I saw # 3.

  6. Just to help keep it interesting, I vote for option 2… 😉

  7. Actually, Ren,

    The western monk has also had a long and bloody history of engaging in personal combat.

    Take St. Brendan, whose determination to obtain the Book of Kells resulted in one of the most regrettable battles in Irish history.
    And the Norman monk, Odo something or other, who fought beside William the Conqueror when he invaded England.
    And the various later church councils where whichever churchman (Roman or Byzantine) who brought the most monks “won” his theological point over the cracked skulls of his opponents.
    Also, the Knights Templar.

    Point is; Western Christian monks could sometimes be quite combative!

    I’m still voting for option 2. If he’s being hired as a guard, telling his new employer that it’s none of his business where he learned how to fight seems to me like a good way to get fired before he’s even properly employed. Also; a great many noblemen were sent for education to monasteries. It’s not inconceivable that your character would be of noble birth, and educated at a monastery, and also trained to fight. They wouldn’t necessarily take holy orders at the end of their education and training, either.

    • Krysti, you say “telling his new employer that it’s none of his business where he learned how to fight seems to me like a good way to get fired before he’s even properly employed”, but the question from the merchant is about his education on reading and writing, NOT his fighting skills of which he hasn’t even displayed yet.

      (You’d almost think the employer would come up with a test of skill before just hiring someone outright, don’tcha’ think? 😉 *nudge* *nudge*)

      As far as anything regarding “fighting monks” go, I’ll have a separate comment below.

      • I agree David, that the third reply doesn’t necessarily kill the job offer. It sort of depends on the personality of the employer. They might not like the attitude or that you willfully keep secrets, but then in a hired sword, they might not care a wit.

        True, as merely a hired sword, one’s fighting skills would be more of the focus. However, I will pose a question. As an elderly merchant… how much of a judge of fighting skill do you think this guy is? I will definitely keep your nudge in mind, for it is a tempting thread. However, at this point I see this guy as playing the numbers game. Theoretically, if you have enough strong looking guys hanging around your caravan all armed… well, looks can go a long way. Someone else would be more apt to the job of weeding out wimps – if the need is seen.

        So in the end, it all depends on the employer’s priorities – doesn’t it? Skill? Trustworthiness? Honest? Obedience? Loyalty? Intelligence? You tell me what you think this guy is judging by, or maybe he’s just a paranoid old fool, desperate for even the illusion of security…

  8. lol, I don’t doubt that some were combative, especially when put like that. Almost worth more research – could be some very interesting stories there. I am certainly no expert so I’m always happy to learn more. At least the teachers I had always seemed to shy away from the spots of history I was interested in. They don’t teach this sort of stuff. I remember anticipating studying medieval and then being so disappointed when the teacher only took two weeks to give a glossy overview. Although, I will say I had one Highschool teacher who really got into it and we spent a delightful semester on the middle ages. Learned a ton and have bunches of notes, but I know we only scratched the surface.

    I was aware that often children of nobles were sent to monks to learn. I agree that your last paragraph is very plausible. And true, a potential employer might not feel comfortable hiring a sword with secrets. I actually added in the third choice purely because of the skepticism I saw in the group and got the impression that some of us wouldn’t be willing to discuss the past.

    In my opinion, this is the first round of voting that has gotten a more diverse debate. There have been a number of good points and rationale made. It will be interesting to see what wins the vote.

  9. As I was reading this installment I realized, with some horror, how I projected my own reality of common-place literacy onto this world. I took no account for this thought that literacy might be an unusual characteristic. It would seem that the nobles, merchant, and religious (judging be the options) classes are literate. Does it stop there?

    Anyway, I agree that option three is a quick way out of a job so I will pass on that one. Option one made me chuckle but I don’t feel much inclination to vote for it. I think option two fits the this civil-war setting very well although I feel the “actually” makes it too flippant or arrogant and the “lost” part seems rather ridiculous (at least to pronounce it so boldly in this context).

    So, I will go with “I am actually the lost son of a displaced nobleman” although I would prefer the simpler “I am the son of a displaced nobleman” (not that edits are permitted).

    • Of course I go back and read your comment on the previous post justly correcting my assumption of literacy after I post my comment here. At least I came to realize my error without the correction… I wonder if it would have changed my vote. I might well have tossed a coin.

      • lol, yep, it does take some getting used to. We take our education for granted. In the end though, it seems the group was bound and determined to be educated, so it’s fine. No one voted for just signing the contract, so even if you had changed your vote it wouldn’t have swayed the path.

        I chuckle at your detailed analysis of the word choice. I’m willing to tweak things. This all sort of rough draft quality for fun. However, then you have Mary up there who likes the attitude, lol.

  10. Hmmm…places for further research you may actually enjoy: Georgette Heyer wrote a series of historical novels that were quite well researched, several on what we term The Middle Ages; one on William the Conqueror which may have been titled, The Conqueror, also one titled, My Lord John. I particularly enjoyed her books about Waterloo and the Napoleon era. She includes a bibliography in the back of this series, which can lead to further research and great entertainment.

    I also fell in love with The Scottish Chiefs, the book that Braveheart was based on, the first time I read it in 5th grade. If I remember correctly, the author wrote it in the 1700’s, so she wasn’t a contemporary, but she seemed to have done her research well.
    Brother Caedfael Mysteries are great too, especially the PBS television series, for visualizing Medieval settings. I’ve also checked out and puzzled my way through books on the time-period in Middle English just for fun!

  11. Above, comments are made about monks and fighting monks and whatnot, and I thought I’d enter some items to bring clarity to what is quickly growing out of hand and not at all historically accurate.

    First of all, just what type of monks were Ren going for? With the medieval setting, the image that comes to mind is men with a shaved bald spot on each of their heads going around in brown robes with a yellow-white rope tied around their waists. Very peaceful people indeed. The type that would take a vow of silence and keep it for decades if they had to.

    Then someone had to get cute.

    By suggesting “fight scenes” with “Ka-pow!” and then “warrior monks” you go from the more European image to a more Oriental image, and specifically the Shaolin Monks. More on them later.

    Now, no one is going to deny that Europe has a bloody military and religious history and the Crusades were the worst part of it in my opinion. That being said, let’s not confuse the actions of the kings and queens and leaders of the church at that time with the general stance of monks.

    Also, do not take individuals that may (or may not) have been a part of a monastery that then go out and commit acts of violence or acts which lead others to violence and attribute it to what all monks stood for (and still do stand for, I might add). Those things do not at all represent the general viewpoint that monks as a group had nor does it represent the general lifestyle that monks as a group lived. To do so would be akin to saying that all military people will wind up committing acts of terrorism just because Tim McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City building.

    And for God’s sake, please know the difference between a knight and a monk! Mentioning the Knights Templar in a comment where you are supposedly listing different monks that have done violence is an insult to monks everywhere and is highly HIGHLY erroneous. The Knights Templar may have been issued by the Roman Church and began the Crusades, but they were NOT chosen from among monks. They were already knights to begin with and were hired by the church initially, and then as time moved on their ranks grew as young men sought glory by joining up with them and training with them. Comparing the violence of a knight to the actions of a monk is like saying someone reading this “Choose Your Own Adventure” series will lead someone to Satanism and that when they commit suicide it’s all Ren’s fault. That would be faulty logic, and so is comparing the Knights Templar to monks.

    As a general rule, monks of any kind from all the different religions and spiritual beliefs are peaceful by nature because they are monks!

    So now we come to the Shaolin Monks and the question of “Well if monks are so peaceful in general, then how come these are such expert fighters?”

    I loved Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith in the new version, but doesn’t anyone remember Mr. Miyagi from the original movie of The Karate Kid? “Karate for defense, Daniel-san.”

    The Shaolin Monks didn’t start out by being these experts in martial arts. They started out by just being Shaolin Monks that wanted to meditate and conduct peaceful acts. No violence. No aggression. Nothing that would cause a fight. Just peace.

    But bandits didn’t see it that way. Bandits would raid where they stayed and rob them whenever they felt like it and beat them up and kill them even. So the monks got kind of tired of that. So they sent monks out all over the world to find warriors that could come and live with them and protect them. As a result of this, warriors from many different parts of the world, warriors who each had their own unique fighting style and had never learned any other, were brought together for the first time in one place.

    The Shaolin Monks had them teach their fighting styles to each other as well as to the monks. The monks then adapted those styles and blended them together into one style. While they were doing this, they were also studying the ways animals in nature fought: the grasshopper, the cobra, the crane, and many others. They took what they saw from nature and incorporated it into this one style they designed.

    In the end, they came up with what amounted to them was a style of moving meditation. It’s why when you see them “practicing” it seems like a dance almost, yet if you were to ever try to attack them while they were supposedly “dancing” you would find out really quick how dangerous and even deadly this “dance” was to your person.

    That moving meditation allowed them to be known as the fiercest warriors of history, yet in actuality they were only learning how to defend themselves and still have their meditation. Their goal was always to have peace and harmony.

    Just keep all of this in mind in regards to both European and Oriental monks if you choose to go the “warrior monk” route.

  12. Sorry to step on your toes by mentioning the Knights Templar, David. No offense intended!

    I did mention them, though, because they were a religious order that also seems to have taken vows of chastity and obedience. And yes, I know they didn’t consider themselves monastics. Their purpose was to protect other people and keep the pilgrimage routes open to and within the Holy Land. They weren’t by any account all that contemplative though they were just as committed to the goals and religious ideals of their order as any monk is to his monastic rule.

    And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to bring them up, or to bring up the fighting monks. Yes, western fighting monks were somewhat of an aberration, but not all that unusual. It was a brutal time of history, begun with a hundred years of Viking raids on all points south. Vikings loved to raid monasteries and put the monks to the sword. I suspect that it only took a few incidents before the rest of the monastics considered themselves fairly warned, and then they had to decide whether they were going to fight or go to their deaths peacefully. Some of them did go peacefully. But, it’s also likely that a fair number fought back.

    Oddly enough, the willingness of these men to participate in a fight doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I suspect it really bothers you! They were a product of their times, and St. Brendan, at least, is remembered as learning from his mistakes and teaching others not to let their tempers rule their actions. I like St. Brendan for that…

    And now we really are off-topic, and I’ll stop!

    • I do agree that in the violence of the dark ages, even the monks would have to defend themselves or be favorite targets to be picked on constantly. In my own books I have a number of cultural schisms that happen over such an issue – fight or be destroyed.

    • Krysti, you’ve obviously got a lot to learn about me.

      First of all, if you have “stepped on” anyone’s “toes”, it wouldn’t have been mine, but rather history’s toes. You inferred that the Knights Templar were monks when the discussion was about monks, not knights, and specifically groups of fighting monks by bringing up the Knights and saying about them “Also” as if that makes them monks. Just because the Knights were a religious order SANCTIONED BY THE CHURCH to fight battles while “spreading” Christianity doesn’t in any way mean that they were “monks” of ANY kind – no matter what vows of anything that they took.

      Second, I cited the Shaolin Monks which is a DEFINITE representation of a GROUP of monks that are proficient at defending themselves by fighting. I had no need to provide any sources as the Shaolin Monks are well known and information is generally known and easily found in just about any library, not to mention the Internet and the World Wide Web. You, on the other hand, only made vague references to POSSIBLE groups of “fighting” monks while talking about INDIVIDUALS that either fought or whose actions caused OTHERS to fight. Talking about INDIVIDUALS fighting is NOWHERE near the same as talking about a GROUP of monks that collectively has fighting and defense as a part of their teaching.

      When you say things like ” I suspect” and “it’s also likely” you are not citing examples as I did with the Shaolin Monks, but rather coming up with your own opinons based on your own thoughts and feelings on the matter and not historical facts. Unless you can cite a specific order of European monks that either learned or developed a fighting technique which they became known for and show the proof with several links to webpages, then you really haven’t added anything to your previous statement as any sort of further proof of anything since you had not brought forth any proof to begin with of any European order of fighting monks.

      And the fact that anyone was willing to participate in a fight doesn’t bother me one whit, so I have no idea where you got that preposterous notion from.

      • David,

        You appear to be in a bad mood. I may be reading something into the tone of your words, but frankly, I don’t appreciate it. I’m not trying–I repeat–to step on your toes. I don’t consider that I’ve stepped on history’s toes either.

        Excuse me for not figuring out that we were discussing “groups of monks” here. Sheesh. I was trying to contribute to the discussion–and enjoying myself–until you came along. I’m not anymore.

        In fact, I’m offended now. Taking my enjoyment of life elsewhere. Have a great time, Ren and everyone else. I won’t be back.

      • All right. I forgive you. But–behave, okay? It’s not all about research. And not all of us have time to do research anyway.

        If you want whole orders of fighting monks, YOU do the research! I don’t have time. I’m here for the fun of it.

      • Nah, it ain’t all about research. But making statements without evidence is never good either. And if you think I’m going to do the research to back up your statements, you got another think coming! 😉 Thanks for accepting my apology. Hope to keep seeing you on here. 😀

  13. Monks…cause I like that choice. 😛

    • lol, so would that be the monks with the bald spot and dusty library of priceless history? or the less common kickass variety?

      hehehe… this is just fun…

  14. Since this isn’t our world, monks could be different there. There could be a small band of monks dedicated to defending the world against darkness in a covert war which our character could have been raised in, and trained by.

    • True, there is some intriguing potentials there. I’m not saying that monks in this book world must be the same as Earth’s history. I’m merely trying to clarify what the group wants. If the group wants covert evil-battling monks, I could probably swing that. Definitely a twist to my plans, but then this sort of stuff was intended to be part of the game. I’m flexible and so is this world.

  15. Okay, one day left for voting. I think I said tomorrow at 5pm central time, but I think I may be out and about then so I’ll extend it to 7 pm central time. Until then you may vote or alter your vote.

    So, what I think I have so far:
    Monks have 3 clear votes: Robynn, Kaleb and Diane. And it sounds like they’re all for the fighting monks.

    Nobility has 2: Krysti and Seth

    and Focused on the Job has 1: Mary

    and jlrowan listed two in her comment so I’m not sure which one is her final vote.

  16. It occurred to me that I hadn’t voted yet, so I decided I better get my vote in while I think I still can.

    I vote for option #3 – Focus on the job. 😉

  17. Well, after a lengthy debate (lol) we actually ended up with a tie between the Monks and Focus on the Job, with three people voting on each. The nobleman got two votes so it was close all around.

    So, I had my Husband (who had forgot to vote) break the tie.

    He chose Monks!

    So, I’m off to do some tweaks to my plans, characters, plot and world. This time around I will indeed take the weekend to get things hammered out and you can expect a fresh, new installment on Tuesday! With voting this close and the monks’ newly gained fighting skills (and who knows what else I might come up with, muwhahahaha!) I don’t have the next section ready yet, but I will be back with a new and improved ex-kickass monk hero!

    (hmmm… should we shave his head or not?)*evil grin*

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