The Soldier's Code, p.1Steven Moorer
THE SOLDIER’S CODE
A SHADOW TIDE SHORT STORY
The Soldiers Code
Copyright © 2013 by Steven Moorer
Published by Steven Moorer
All rights, including the right to reproduce this ebook, or portions thereof, in any form, are reserved by the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only, and may not be resold or given to other people. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Gartin was getting colder as fall deepened and winter started to peak its head. Andres Kaprin had been here with his battalion for a week now waiting patiently for the orders to march out.
Just to the north past the Ghost Swamp the Fullbright Family had declared that they would move and take more lands from King Liam. Their demands had been made after the King declared that their family was not noble and would never be given such titles as long as there polygamist ways remained.
The Fullbrights had been in Agantia for over a hundred years, traveling from Trodania and taking the lands north of the Ghost Swamp, south of the Middle River and west of Bellbourne. They didn’t believe in marriage outside of the original family and some of the men of the clan had taken multiple wives, some their own sisters. They felt they were noble but the King and the other seven governing families of Agantia felt different.
Andres was here with the rest of his battalion, and their job was to meet the Fullbrights and convince them to turn back and go home to the lands that they had occupied for many years. The King had given them the chance to live peacefully inside their own lands but they were close to losing that now.
“Twenty minutes, the Lieutenant wants movement within the hour.” He heard the watch Commander yell over their camp just outside of the city. Today was the day; it would take a week to navigate around the swamp and meet to small host of Fullbrights.
The Lieutenant was confident in everything he did. Andres watched him ride his horse with confidence, his large hat and feather, his cape and tabard; he was everything the young soldier hoped to be on day.
Unlike Andres, the Lieutenant wore no cuirass or helm. His status was shown by his clothes, rich deep crimson tunic trimmed in gold, white cavalier shirt, black hat with a crimson band and feather, black trousers and boots. It was the finest military attire.
Andres was just a soldier, he was in the Crimson Army not the Crimson Guard, one of the Kings chosen leaders like the Lieutenants. His attire was simple, his crimson trousers, leather boots, crimson shirt and cuirass.
He was just a pike man, his weapon of choice an eight foot long pike along with small powder horn and six flintlock balls for his pistol and of course his rapier.
His job along with all the other pike men was to stop any advancing cavalry. The pike he carried would stop even the strongest horse bringing its rider to the ground where he would turn to his pistol or rapier to finish the job his pike started.
He marched watching the Lieutenant talk with his advisors as they came to him from the front lines. The Lieutenant was noble, or he used to be, Dominic Caporia was his name. He was young but wise; the other soldiers spoke highly of him, he was fair, smart, and most of all very cunning in battle.
Andres had met him before. Months ago when he was first selected to start training in the Crimson Army, Lieutenant Caporia had been the man who had sworn his oath to the King and Agantia.
They walked, for what seemed to be days but it had only been a few hours when Commander William Southerlin and his second, Prim rode from the front. “Sir, the Fullbright’s are ahead.” Commander Southerlin told Lieutenant Caporia.
“Halt march.” The Lieutenant ordered. “Form up, musketeers to the ready and hold, banners on me.” He said as the banner man along with Commander Southerlin, Prim and Lieutenant Caporia rode from the formation front.
Andres knew they were going now to meet the Fullbrights for parley. Even though the Fullbrights were not civilized it was still customary, and if the Fullbrights chose no parley it would certainly mean the end of their rebellion.
Andres was anxious. He had only been a real soldier for less than two months now. He wanted to know everything that was going on, but after the Lieutenant’s order he had been shuffled back, three rows deep in the formation of pikemen.
“What do you think is happening?” Andres asked the soldier beside him. The soldier who he didn’t know looked out from under his helm. “The Fullbrights are trying to prolong their imminent death.” He said smiling, his yellow rotting teeth shimmering through his rough beard.
Andres swallowed. It suddenly hit him and he realized that in just moments a battle would be raging and he would be caught in the middle of it. His hand started to shake, was his pistol loaded, and was his rapier ready, he was panicking.
“Calm yourself, just hold on tight and remember, use the killing end of your weapon on your enemy.” They yellow tooth soldier told him placing his hand on Andres’ shoulder.
He took deep breathes. His mind was racing; he was anxious; anxious for something. He had to force himself to relax, to let go of some of the anxiety that was starting to consume him.
His breathe was getting heavier, his hand no longer shook but his palms sweated in his gloves. He could feel his skin starting to tingle; he was sweating in the cold morning air.
And then it hit him, like a heavy sack in the practice and training rooms of the Military Ward of Derencorss. He took more deep breathes, he had to relax and then it was gone.
As fast as his panic had come it was gone and he felt more focused than ever before. He suddenly knew that the blade on his pike was honed, his rapier too and most of all he knew his flintlock pistol was loaded.
Time ticked away as he tried to see what going on the field in front of him. He was too anxious and couldn’t stand it, he wanted answers and they weren’t coming until…
He heard the sound of hooves coming back and then he heard voices. It was Lieutenant Caporia and Commander Southerlin yelling orders. “Musketeers make ready. Two hundred yard to the front to the line, make ready.” He paused
“Volley front, fire!” He yelled as the musketeers behind him brought their muskets to life. As fast as the first shot rang out, he heard the Fullbright’s return fire. “Hold!”
They held and then from nowhere bodies began to fall around him. He once again felt a small sensation of panic setting in and then he saw the soldier beside him. He didn’t know if he was a friend but he was a brother and the only name Andres could give him was yellow teeth.
He had taken a musket ball just above his chest in the neck where the cuirass didn’t cover. He didn’t feel a thing just alive one moment and then nothing. Andres couldn’t imagine what it must be like he didn’t want to. All he felt now was anger, the panic had passed
The musketeers behind him continue to fire and rotate their three lines, shooting an endless volley of lead balls toward the Fullbrights. He could see the Fullbright lines starting to break. They didn’t have but maybe three hundred family members and supporters, far less than the five hundred Crimson Army had.
He watched them start to faultier; suddenly as fast as they broke they came back into order. Those who could drew rapiers and began to charge.
All of his training came back to him as he watched one hundred and fifty men charge on a foot and horse. “Your pike protects your musketeers so use it well.” He was told during training.
After the repeated volleys o
He reached up the pike, not straining but comfortable grabbed the handle with his left arm and braced. He could control the front of the pike easily, up and down, left and right.
He watched as the Fullbrights came closer and closer. The horse riders of course were coming faster than those on foot.
He set his eye on a single white horse. The man atop looked crazed, his eyes not only filled with rage, but something else Andres couldn’t figure out. He raised his pike slightly, ready for the inevitable.
His job was to keep cavalry off the musketeers behind him. The horse closed closer and then, it took all of his strength to hold the pike but it was not in vein.
The weight and momentum of the horse crashing into the pike killed the beast instantly. His pike had been thrown from his hand and shattered as his body thrown out of the way.
He was on his back when he realized the Fullbright was above him with his rapier in hand. His training kicked in and he rolled as the Fullbright’s downward swing missed him. He reached to his side and grabbed his flintlock. Drawing it he barely had time to aim the weapon before he pulled the trigger.
It was enough. The ball had ripped through the Fullbright’s side. He clenched the wound as he his hand turned as crimson as his clothes.
He had used his only shot and the time to reload wasn’t now. He pulled his rapier and locked his eyes upon the neck of the Fullbright, he swung the lightweight balanced blade. The blade was so sharp he didn’t even feel the blade as it sliced the throat of the Fullbright open, killing him.
Andres had never taken a life, he didn’t know if he was feeling remorse or satisfaction. His world seemed to go still for a moment as the battle raged around him. He could hear the sparse sound of musket fire around him, but most of the battle had turned hand to hand.
He watched it unfold; he watched men from both sides get cut down by rapiers and ancient long swords. He watched as more and more Fullbrights tried their best to gain an advantage over the highly trained Crimson Army and Crimson Guard.
He watched Commander Southerlin kill multiple Fullbrights from atop his warhorse. He was almost flawless in his moves and Andres wondered if there was anyone who could ever defeat him in battle.
The battle was almost over when Andres saw it. A Fullbright with a long pike, a Crimson Army pike, was running toward Lieutenant Caporia whose back was turned.
He remembered the one day of training he had on throwing a rapier. The rapiers issued to the Crimson Army had been perfectly balanced and if thrown just right could be just as deadly as an assassins throwing knife.
He reared his right hand back and watched the Fullbright as he ran toward the Lieutenant. He took careful aim and threw. The rapier flipped and spun through the air as he watched the Lieutenant turn and look at him, and the charging Fullbright.
The rapier stuck into the man’s back, between the shoulder blades. He fell and slid as the Lieutenant watched him. He could see the look of approval in his eyes as he watched Andres stand on the battle field.
The Lieutenant was a strong man, stronger than Andres. He could tell the Lieutenant was trying to tell him something but he couldn’t tell what, and then he realized what it was.
Everything went blurry around him and his head was in severe pain. He was on the ground and he faintly heard the sound of musket fire off near him and his world faded. His last sight was the lieutenant standing over him, holding his pistol.
Andres awoke looking up at the yellow and red leaves of the autumn woods. Somehow and at sometime he had been moved to a wooded area, he didn’t know where. He tried to sit up but his head was hurting to bad. “You need rest.” He heard a voice beside him say. “Lay back down.”
The voice was from Lieutenant Caporia. He was sitting on a small half rotten log. “What happened?” He asked the Lieutenant. “We were victorious, only lost seventy men and you took a mace to the head. Only the Fullbrights would use such a primitive weapon. Here drink.” Lieutenant Caporia said offering him a leather water skin.
He took a drink of the cold water, it was relaxing and refreshing going down. “Sir, the battle, what happened? It was my first time Sir, I have never killed…” He was interrupted by the Lieutenant.
“Stop. The others tell me your name is Andres, right?”
“Andres, before you go any farther let me tell you, what you did out there is nothing to ashamed of. If you don’t feel remorse for the death you are not human. But never feel ashamed for honoring the oath you took and the code you live by. Me, you, all us took oaths to defend this land and its people, we do what we have to, to defend it and if it means killing then we do it.
“Andres you took a life today, and today you fulfilled the oath that you made. The soldier’s code is our code, both from in here.” He pointed to his heart. “And here,” he pointed to his head.
“Andres, our code is simple. Defend and protect. We will defend and protect this land to our deaths.” He said reaching and grabbing Andres shoulder.
Andres took what he had said to heart. “We protect the people of Agantia.” He replied to the lieutenant. “Yes sir, I understand, to the death.” It was true and he was prepared to do it. He was a Crimson Solider and he was the protector of Agantia.
Lieutenant Caporia stood and grabbed his hat. “Get some more rest, we will camp tonight and move out by day break.” He said putting his hat back on. “Yes sir.” Andres said rolling his head back over.
“Sir.” He said stopping Lieutenant Caporia.
“What will happen to the Fullbrights?”
The Lieutenant turned and looked at him. “Those that fled will live to fight another day. Those we captured will go back and stand trial for charges to start a rebellion. If they are guilty they will face death at the gallows, sit in prison to serve their sentence or some might be given the opportunity to serve the King and Agantia. We will now rest.”
Andres could tell by the tone in his voice that it was an order and he obeyed. Tomorrow would be a long journey back to Derencross and rest was what he needed. He was proud to serve the land and more proud to serve Lieutenant Caporia. He was a strong and smart man and Andres knew that one day Lieutenant Caporia would be a strong leader of all men.
He closed his eyes and felt himself falling asleep again, before he faded he saw the faces of the two men who had died by his hands, just like the Lieutenant had said, if you didn’t feel remorse you weren’t human. He felt a tear roll down his cheek as he fell asleep.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven was born in raised in a town known as Pine Apple, AL and is a graduate of Wilcox Academy. Steven is an Army veteran and took an interest in writing during his deployment overseas.
Steven now lives in Millbrook, AL with his wife April and their two kids Dokata and Austin and soon to be Emily.
Steven's writing inspirations and favorite authors are; George R.R. Martin, Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Brown, and Michael Crichton.
First off to my wife, April. I know the endless nights of lying in bed and listening to keyboard pecks probably drove you crazy but I'm done for now. My mom, my first beta reader and the first to help with corrections. And finally to everyone who followed me on social media and made this project a reality.
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