Remnant: Book of Xiandol Chapter 1
Inside the rocky walls of Xiandolia, the strength of the land was honed and focused. While no major conflict had befallen the vast kingdom in many years, the forces were still held at the ready. From the settlements about the land, young men coming of age were often taken away from their homes and brought to the capital to be trained in the ways of the sword and the tactics of warfare. When deemed ready, they were assigned to one of two regiments in which they would serve. The Banner Guard were of permanent station at the capital, serving and protecting the city and its people. The Enforcer’s Consort served as the hands of the Keep, traveling about the land to assure the Kingdom’s subjects remained in line and continued to provide the tribute for the capital.
That autumn morning, the young recruits who had completed their many months of training had come forth to the Keep before the King, the Guard Captain, and the Enforcer General to be inducted into one of the regiments. That day, from the selection of five fresh faces, three were inducted into the Banner Guard, and two to the Consort. For the first time, many of the young men were allowed to move out of the training barracks at the edge of the city walls, and join their fellow men in one of the two buildings serving to house the members of the organizations.
Captain Carlyle of the Enforcers was inside the Consort’s hall that morning, reading reports from the Keep’s officials, and moving about tokens marking the assignments on the map table. The only others about were a couple of men between duty shifts, maintaining their gear and awaiting the arrival of the new inductees.
Enforcer General Edrian arrived suddenly through the doors of the building in his normal, brutish manner. “Attention,” He huffed, announcing his presence, both to the new and old members of the group. “We’ve some fresh meat to take up the bunks.”
Carlyle stood and presented himself outward toward the room, his arms folded behind his back. Edrian stood by the door, allowing the two men to make their way in past him. “You ought to cut that mess of hair from your head,” the general commented at the second man, “it’ll just serve to fly up in your face.”
“Yes sir.” The long-haired man replied meekly. Carlyle immediately recognized one of the new members as someone familiar, but he could not seem to get a glance his way out of the individual. The recruits had little more than a pack of bedding and a few changes of clothes on their backs.
“Anywhere you would wish to lay your head is fine.” Edrian spoke up again. “More than enough empty spots this time of year. Carlyle.”
One of the two captains of the Consort, Carlyle was respected both by the General and the men. Although not as experienced as the other captain, his soft features and forgiving attitude gave him a sense of approachability. He followed the General’s call and approached. “Yes, sir?”
Edrian extracted a roll of parchment from under his arm and brought it with him to the table laden with other documents. He unrolled it to a patiently awaiting Carlyle standing just beyond his shoulder. “Some more information from the Keep. Way up in the foothills, just below the northern woods. You familiar with the area?”
“There’s a tiny pass up that way, I believe.”
“That area, apparently, yes.” Edrian sighed and rubbed at his thick, dark sideburns. “There’s been reports of a group of miners taking up camp along the mountain there. When we went to Rallig, there was a pair of them, apparently from up that way, trying to trade off raw iron ore for other supplies. This is what we took from them.”
“I see.” Carlyle hummed, looking over the list of items. “Not much.”
Edrian tapped on the parchment upon one of the items. “A dagger, too, and not from our forges. They likely have more.”
“You think it’s from that group way up north?”
“The Blackclaw?” Edrian shrugged and grunted. “If there was such an organized group up there, they wouldn’t be able to hide away so easily. Nevertheless, I’m asking you to head out that way and see if you can’t run into them.”
“I can manage that.” Carlyle nodded.
Edrian patted his shoulder with a worn, heavy palm. “Good man. Take some of the fresh meat with you.”
Carlyle nodded and glanced across the room to the particular recruits, one of which was painstakingly rolling out his bedroll on the rickety bunk. “Understood.”
The General stood and stretched his back. “I’ve got other things to attend to about, I’ll return before you head out at least.” With a stretch of his shoulder, Edrian returned back out the door.
Carlyle ran his fingers through his thin, light brown before making his way across the room. The long-haired man jumped up and held his fist to his chest in response to the captain appearing behind him. “Sir, I’m at your service.”
Carlyle waived him down. “Relax, boy. You’ve not forgotten me, I hope?”
The long-haired man finally met eyes with the captain. “Carlyle… sir.” He breathed a sigh of relief. “It has been long, indeed.”
“Kensley was your name, correct?” Carlyle nodded, inspecting the young man who had since seemed to have filled out his clothing, if just a bit more. “I’m pleased to see you’ve been accepted into the Consort.”
Kensley blinked and offered up a short nod in response. “Of course, sir.”
“Or were you perhaps hoping to been offered a position in the Banner Guard?”
“No, sir.” Kensley shook his head. “It was a surprise, perhaps, having Edrian choose me. A friend of mine, equally skilled, ended up under Oberlander, somehow.”
Carlyle folded his arms over his chest and looked back over his shoulder. “The guard are those of the type who are simply content to listen to orders. An enforcer is chosen based on their ability to make decisions on their own.”
“I… understand,” Kensley replied, turning back to his bed and the roll of clothes upon it.
“Before you get too comfortable here…” Carlyle spoke up, leaning back on the bunk behind him, “I was assigned a task. Edrian wanted me to bring along one of you.”
“Who better?” The captain nodded. “It should be of no great danger, if you are perhaps concerned.”
“We’ll get along much better if you drop the formalities.”
Carlyle chuckled. “Force of habit. It will be at least a day before we depart. Perhaps we should fashion you with a proper weapon.”
“Even if…” Kensley hesitated, holding a loose fist. “There is no risk of danger?”
The captain huffed. “You’ve certainly got a good head on your shoulders.” He said with a smile. “An enforcer hopes to never have to use his sword against his own people. The sight of it on your hip is usually enough to deter anyone attempting to escalate.”
Carlyle stretched his arms. “I’ll go and have a chat with the quartermaster to have one prepared for you. Get comfortable here for the day. We’ll eat at sun’s rest- I believe Bently is on cooking duty tonight.”