From The Annals Of The Iron Lightnings, vol. 4
The rules are pretty simple when you ride with the Lightnings. Who you were doesn’t matter. Why you joined up is unimportant. All that has ever mattered is your willingness to fight. Sure, disputes and rivalries and even feuds can erupt even in the most disciplined of companies. But two or three battles will knock the animosity out of most squabbles.
The Garoshi, Warlord’s piss but he was so obnoxious when he signed up. Tried to bluff Tawse about his name and didn’t even come close. Tawse put his name down as “Brine,” though he did pick up the nom de guerre of “Salty” on account of his attitude. Although, come to think of it, he wasn’t nearly as bad as Vermin. One of the points of etiquette about taking a name in the company is that you don’t use a title of nobility. It’s less about offending the precious sensibilities of our employers and more about cutting down on confusion. Vermin, unfortunately for him, had the poor fortune to be in front of Battleaxe when he had to sign the papers. Battleaxe is a perfectly lovely woman when you talk straight with her. Very uncomplicated lass, which explains why she bestowed Vermin’s name on him. It was early days, then, when redemption was possible for most any sin provided that one could be sufficiently contrite. Vermin was great with explosives, which explains why Hartmeister put him in with the 5th Infantry, but he needed some seasoning.
Another uncomplicated lass joined about the same time, Quicksilver. Lovely Gray Elvish lass, and one who strangely didn’t have a lot of the baggage that most Gray Elves seem to haul around with them. I was near the archery range when she stepped up to the line. Most of our archers are decent but by no means exceptional shots, and the company average is about 90 paces for maximum effective accuracy. She went the 150 paces that we set as a maximum for testing, and I’m pretty sure she could have gone to 200 if she had a mind to try for it.
There are some folks whose name is made just by looking at them. Rumpot was one of those. You wouldn’t think he was a holy man to look at him, and as ham fisted as he was with needle and thread, you wouldn’t think he was much of a healer either. But he was put in the 5th Infantry because they needed healers, even if they were soused. I remember Cautery telling me that afternoon that he would sooner have Rumpot shot than let him into the surgery ever again, but something told me that Cautery wasn’t completely serious.
If there was one addition to our little band that I had the damnedest time understanding, it was Rache. There was no gainsaying his skill with a blade, and he went toe to toe with Brine in the sparring circle, only missing by the barest margin on that last exchange. Moreover, he had some skill with spellcraft, a point which he seemed determined to make to Brine rather than outright threaten him. Garoshi aren’t necessarily stupid, but somehow I don’t think Brine took the hint. It was also puzzling that Rache was assigned to the 2nd Scouts rather than with the Infantry. When I asked Taram about it, he said he didn’t know why Rache was with the Scouts, but he wasn’t going to overrule the decision without a good reason. The opportunity to succeed, he reasoned, was equally an opportunity to fail.