Men of Bronze

Chapter II

I awoke with a start on a day like any other, taking to a breakfast of turnip and stew. I made haste with the days duties on the farm, choosing to first head to the cellar and fix the pipes which had given me some trouble the day before. The pipes were made of a sturdy bronze, sticking between the sandstone and rock of the deserts core. They pumped water from an underground aquifer to be used on my farm and to give water to passing soldiers and travelers with marks from the King and so on; but just the other night I pulled on the above ground dispenser to find no water at all.

Taking out my tools I set to work, only to be interrupted minutes later by the distant sound of treads rolling on the soft sand above. Making my way back up the steps to the side of my home I walked out to see what approached. From up north I could see two steam-crawlers lurching their way towards me, with their wide dirty treads kicking sand up all around them. Upon each crawler stood two bronze-men, large nine foot machines the soldiers would use as suits of armor in battle against the Giltons and Virgils alike.

Meeting them at the pump not far from my home I greeted the travelers, only to find that one of the men was my good friend Franke who I would see when he made runs between the Capitol and the towns south of here.

”Im afraid the pumps not in action this time around. ” I said as the men dismounted.

”We know, ” said Franke. ”The aquifers gone dry early this year, and as winter approaches Im afraid thats all the water we
e going to get. ”

”Well, then Im assuming I don need to write the King on getting a shipment of water here soon. The harvest isn for another week and I only have a few gallons saved up for myself during the winter. ”

”About that, ” said a man in a weathered blue officers uniform with gold trim along its sides. ”We came not for water but rather to get you, I have a statement from the Palace asking for a Deckard Bilfur to be drafted for the Kings army. ”

Being rather surprised I looked to Franke who now thought it timely to drift his gaze away. I had always known I could be made to join the army but I always assumed they had more than enough men at the Capitol and in the towns of the Kingdom. Why they needed my farmstead abandoned a week before the turnip harvest made little sense at all to me.

”We think you will make a great addition to the platoon, ” said the officer. ”Franke has told us all about your work with hydroponics. We will be stopping here for the day before we head south at night, so if you need to gather your things you have quite some time. ”

I shook their hands and met the members to the platoon with great respect for them and the King. I learned the name of the officer to be Darek, the others were knights Jarvis, Amelia, Cambry, and of course Franke. Heading inside we sat and ate what food I had left as we waited out the desert sun which could kill a man who wasn careful. Jarvis told a story from down south about how the Order of Gilton had sent three jury rigged bronze-men after the group only to be gunned down by him and Cambry. Apparently the suits heated up very quickly and would need to be refilled constantly with water and coalatik which could only be found down south or in the mountains to the east. I had some coalatik myself in the form of bars which I would trade with merchants for tools and bread from time to time. Little had I known that they fueled anything more than pumps and quarry drills.

After the stories where done and the sun had reached its end the group invited me back to the steam-crawlers. Here they formed a circle, sitting around me as officer Darek and Franke stood up and approached me.

”On this night and in these sands we invite a new brother into our fold. By presenting him this blade we welcome Deckard Bilfur to the second Platoon of the Kings third southern battalion. I hereby and by the Kings name proclaim you as a Knight of the Kingdom of Jamin. ”

With that Franke handed me a small box, which I opened to find a small blade no larger than my hand. Glinting silver in the moons light with a brown leather handle I took it in my hand. I had never seen a blade such a size but even in its appearance it deceived as it felt heavier than any wrench twice as big.

The group shouted: ”Here here! ” before each congratulating me on their way back to the house. Franke in particular gave me a look of approval before joining the others. I put the blade back in the box for the time being before heading back home to finish grabbing my things. For that night in the moons blue light we rode south, farther from my home than I had ever been before.

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