Renegade Project 4: Life by the Sword

“As a child, my earliest memories were of a lone child in the streets of a small town.  There was a monastery in the town and one of the monks took pity on me.  He brought me into the monastery to educate in hopes of giving me a brighter future.”

“Then may I ask how you became a mercenary? Why not an educated profession as your beneficiary apparently intended?”

“Years ago the monks were attacked under the cover of darkness and the buildings razed to the ground.  I survived because the monks hid me in the catacombs below.  There was just enough moisture to keep the fire away, but I was the only survivor.  Let us just say that I intend to keep my sword sharp and ready until I find the villains behind that attack.”

It was a practiced version, refined over the years. Created to be practical, plausible and half-true. There were plenty of monk groups scattered through the land and raids on them were common enough. The details you withheld wouldn’t be missed and would only make your job harder – assuming people believed the whole truth. Besides, even rumors connecting you to the Ameltian monks would dampen job options and could be deadly. They had been peculiar enough to earn more than their share of enemies and dark rumors. Even though they had been wiped out seven years ago, most people remained superstitious and feared them. And then of course, if the villains responsible learned you had survived … well, you’d much rather be the hunter than the hunted.

The merchant strokes his bearded chin.  “What is your name?”

After you give it, the man replies, “I am Galen Tarish.  You are an interesting man with a dark past, I see.”  Galen grins.  “I like you.”  He gestures to the contract.  “Please, feel free to study it and ask any questions you wish.”  He waves to his servant to escort Taz out, leaving you and the merchant alone in the room.

For the most part, the contract was simply verbatim of what Galen had said.  You eye him.  “What’s the merchandise you trade?”

Galen shrugs.  “Standard stuff – lots of quality fabric, including the best silk on the market –  prime ale and wine, and spices with a few medicinal herbs.”

You raise one quizzical eyebrow.  “So you don’t cater to the war?”

Galen grimaces.  “I want nothing to do with it.  It’s because of these idiots that I have to waste so much money on guards!  All the cut-throats brought in by the war and paid to wander the countryside are half thieves and when they’re bored, they seem to think it’s fun to lurk around my estates, steal from my caravans and would probably love to demand ransom on one of my children. This war should never have happened, if only Lord Sander had any guts. Lord Tivolt and Lady Cinea are just dragging it out no matter the destruction it creates.  They’re both wasteful fools!”

You nod, a slight smile edging your lips.  The ‘old geezer’ has quite a bit of back bone.

Galen meets your gaze and leans back again in his chair, steepling his fingers.  “You seem the cunning and intelligent type so I wonder.  What is your opinion of the war?”

“If I favored it, I would have just joined one side or the other, but as you see, I’m here instead.” You sigh. “After a while, the principle of who is right and who is wrong is worthless compared to the lives wasted.”

Galen nods.  “Yes, I do indeed favor you and need more men like you on my side.  I think you would be wasted simply as a guard and am willing to offer you a deal.   I need someone I can trust to help protect my lands, family and business from these fools.  I think they have bribed and seduced information from my servants and workers.  Sabotage is the next step and only an idiot would sit back and wait for them.  They’ll ruin me if they can.”  He scowls.  “They’ve been working on it for years, but,” he adds with a smug grin, “I always outwit them in the end.”

“And what’s the deal?” you press, intent on the details and not just the theories.  Ideals and abstracts don’t make money and they certainly don’t win fights.  Usually they just make you an easy target.

“I will give you double the regular pay and you will have access to the main house and a private room in the servant quarters.  You will report only to me.” His eyes grow serious as he studies you.  “You would officially be the one in charge of keeping the main house secure.  Unofficially, I want you to watch and learn who is loyal to me and who is out to destroy me.”


Take the job. Sure beats sleeping on the road.


“The special treatment would make it hard to mingle. Just hire me for the regular job and for a little extra pay I’ll watch over the caravans and report anything.”


“I’m not really into that sort of work. I’ll be fine with the regular job and if I happen to see anything, I’ll let you know.”


I’m outta here. I don’t want anything to do with this mess, be it real or just paranoia.

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

20 comments on “Renegade Project 4: Life by the Sword

  1. Good job, Ren! This is shaping up really well. I’ve got my decision on which one to vote for, but I want to see what everyone else says first in case there either needs to be a tie breaker or a tie maker. 😉 😈

  2. I’d say the second one, with a bit of emphasis on how being undercover can increase the chances of ferreting out sneaks, goons, traitors, and Mafia members. They’ll be more willing to approach a regular guard than an openly admitted spy for the boss.

    • Oh, not an openly admitted spy, for sure. He/You would just be sort of the Security guard for the main house. The regular job would ban him from most of the main house and means he would often be on the road with the caravans. So he wouldn’t have any interaction with servants or that sort, mostly only fellow caravan guards.

  3. “Take the job. Sure beats sleeping on the road.”

    Any challenges that come with this will only make it all the more interesting.

    • lol, for some reason I can hear Bette Midler singing “From a Distance”… you sound like a true writer, go for the path of the most complications… good thing this story doesn’t suck you in like Neverending Story, right?

      • The most complications give you the most options (and the most challenges to think of the most plausible, believable ways to extricate yourself from those options).

        Wow… I haven’t seen (or thought of) the Neverending Story in years. That queen/princess/empress/whatever-she-was always creeped me out a little.

  4. Oh, this is good! Very good, m’dear. I choose option 1, especially since it’s completely opposite of the contract you went to so much trouble to create. hehe!

  5. Take the job…. start out with higher pay and as a manager? That’s an easy choice.

  6. Yep. Number one for sure. It looks to be the most interesting….

  7. So far it looks like a rout for option one. Good thing I like it too.

    “Take the job. Sure beats sleeping on the road.”

    @Robynn, it seems rather more of an addendum to the original rather than its opposite. We see an increase in pay, accommodations, and responsibility but I would assume the portions of the original not superseded would still remain in force. @Ren, would you please confirm or refute?

    Besides, I think taking the job would actually make the unofficial part easier. Conspirators are likely to want you on their side with your high level of access to the estate. It will take some time since you are an unknown actor and they will be subtly assessing you for your willingness to be a co-conspirator. If our man keeps his wits about him he can cast a baited hook and see who nibbles. This type of game takes time so the real question is the length of the old man’s patience for results.

    • Oh, you mean the rules like don’t give away information, don’t steal, and don’t endanger his family or enter their private rooms? Yep, those ones are very much in force. Granted, on this path it doesn’t seem likely that you will travel with the caravan so those particular rules would only apply if you did.

  8. I vote for “Take the job…”

    I like the backstory he’s provided his employer, and the fact that he’s holding something back, not trusting his employer with the whole story. It’s intriguing that you’ve given us just enough about these monks to whet our curiosity, and provoke questions, like, “What made them peculiar?”

  9. Okay, so just 1 more day for voting. I’ll close the vote at noon central time tomorrow. From the looks of things, I should be able to post the next segment immediately.

    They’ll be lots of new info to explore, so stay tuned!

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