Woke up the next morning and the bird was gone. Can’t say I’m sorry to see him go, and with Freya’s shield on the line it’s not like I’m gonna waste the manpower to send out a search party. I’ll just send some paperwork to Major Albrecht when we get back.
Anywho, forest was all weird that day. Sounded like a weeping child lost somewhere in the woods, and everything was all dark and foreboding. Put me off my breakfast, it did. The tree seemed to know what she was doing, and led us into the woods, so we all followed her. Got lost a few times, passed some of the same trees more than once, but Gilbert managed to break whatever spell it was and we found our culprit.
Bloody disturbing things, they were. Looked like children, but with horns, weeping eyes, and a crazy mangle-toothed smile. Three of them came out of the woods and surrounded us, the last one had what could only be Freya’s shield held all close, like it didn’t want it to get away.
My troop sprang into action. Made me proud, it did. Gilbert’s arrows flying, Riwen’s sword dancing, and Köhler doing her thing with the magic popping things. I joined in as well, slashing up a storm, but for all our attacks we couldn’t seem to kill these bastards. After a while of beating on them, one of them broke its claw on Gilbert’s bark, and it all went downhill for them from there. Eventually we got some good hits in and they all vanished in a puff of smoke, screaming like there’s no tomorrow. The last one left the shield though, and we headed back to Horstmar with our prize.
Markus Hofmeister wanted to congratulate us himself when we got back, and I told all the recruits to get their uniforms ready and meet up in the square for the awards ceremony. Freya’s shield was put back on her statue where it right belonged – this might be the proudest moment of my military career.
Everybody was looking sharp at the ceremony, and Markus took notice. Everybody except Gilbert but, y’know, it’s kind of hard to get that uniform to fit a tree so I guess it’s alright. Twigs and leaves poking out all over the place…
Anyway, Lord Markus went down the line and, surprisingly, started handing out some promotions. The Privates all got commissioned to Lieutenants, even Private Obsidian (LT Obsidian now), and bloody Köhler made it all the way up to Captain. By the time he made it to me my chest was all stuck out with pride and I was eagerly waiting for that promotion to Major I’d expected for years. Markus just shook my hand though, and congratulated me on such a sharp unit. I can’t believe I didn’t get a promotion for this! Hell, I can’t believe the bloody fairy is the same rank as me. What a disaster.
Seems like they want to see us in the capitol ASAP, even got a herald here from Dame Winther herself. Gaybreighal Sweetsheen, he said he was, and I wouldn’t trust the bastard as far as I could throw his little orange gnome rump. Dressed all like a priest, but he kept drinking and coughing and generally being a nuisance. Anyway, he’s going to take us to the capitol tomorrow to see his mistress. Hopefully I’ll not have to deal with him again after that.
The new Lieutenants were all up and ready at dawn, but we had to wait almost an hour before that Sweetsheen showed up. He’s an acting Captain, a Chaplain or something, so I can’t actually do anything, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t rustle my jimmies. Despite the late start we made pretty good time – should be there in four days or so.
Traveling had been going pretty well I suppose. Sweetsheen was foul company, jus’ rode in Gilbert’s branches all day, drank, and coughed up a storm. The rest of the unit was pretty amenable company though, and I got to spend more time with Riwen, so that’s a plus.
Anywho, we were about halfway to the capitol, walking through a small forest, when Gaybreighal started acting weird. I stared at him for a bit before realizing that a nearby tree was trying to get his attention. A woman made of wood stepped out then – not a tree woman like Gilbert, this one was much shapelier, more like a human made of wood than a tree made of human, or somethin’.
Turns out these dryads, as she said she was, were having trouble with big lanky trolls who would hide in the canopy and drop down on any dryad who left their tree, then have their way with her. No sooner ’ad she finished explaining than we looked up and saw three of the ugly brutes looking right down at us. They roared something fierce and dropped, straight onto all the female members of the unit.
Gilbert was ready, and stuck one good in the stomach as it fell, but was flanked by that one and another, and the wound was already starting to heal. She’d been through worse I figured though, so after Riwen, Köhler, Lieutenant Obsidian and I killed one of them, I bummed off with Sweetsheen to a nearby tree to watch the rest of the fight.
The Gnome was friendlier than I expected, once we actually got to talking. He said that maybe they were just waiting for me to get to the capitol to give me my promotion and, y’know, that makes sense. He got me feeling a lot better so I left him to flirt with the dryad and got back into the fight. There wasn’t much left fer me to do at that point, so I just helped mop up the rest. Gilbert had taken some good hits, and was slouched over all unconscious like, but she’d probably be fine. Köhler finally ended the fight by sticking that teeny sword of hers right into the troll’s back, then heating it up so the brute lit on fire. Right impressive, it was.
I got a hell of a surprise this morning. Woke up to Lieutenant Barkwin poking me in the side, then rolled over to see another me lookin’ straight at me. I yelled and stoop up, and this bastard did the exact same thing. Like looking in a mirror, it was. The rest of the unit was up by now, and gathered around to watch with infuriating bemused expressions on their bloody faces.
I straight up told them to kill the imposter, but the other me did the same thing. Clever bastard. Eventually Captain Köhler came up with the bright idea to ask a question only the real Benyamin would know. Pissed me off right good though, when she asked where I stored my pornography, and I told her as much. My double, though, stuttered for a second before copying me, and Gilbert put an arrow in him right then and there.
The thing changed then, turning into a creepy smooth skinned person with gray skin and a smooth face. Damned creepy, it was. It tried to get away, but the others gave chase and Barkwin, taking my order to kill it to heart, put a few more arrows in its back before it collapsed and started to melt away.
Blasted weird morning, it was.
We almost made it to the capitol today, were practically right outside when another bloody suit of armor picked a fight with me. It came out of a nearby wall, clanking and waving a gigantic flail around like it was nothing.
As usual, Gilbert was quick on the draw, and the thing had two arrows in it before it even got to us. Armor creature or no, with the whole unit working together we took it down right fast. Sweetsheen just sat in the corner as usual, but I have a hard time believing Dame Winther would send someone so incompetent. Mebbe he’s her idea of a joke.
We arrived in the capitol last night, stayed in a nice inn and I got to sleep in a real bed for the first time in god knows when. Sweetsheen woke up late again, then took us up to Dame Winther’s manor.
Big place, it was, covered in ivy and with a huge garden and all the trappings. No sooner had we gotten to the door than it was opened by a creepy-looking elf, all legs and arms, and with a bald head and an oiled goatee. He led us inside without saying a word, and the interior was just as creepy. Tastefully decorated and nice and all, but the darkness and candles and whole air of malevolence really spoiled the mood.
Alena was waiting in something like an audience chamber at the top of the stairs. She was shorter than I expected, even shorter than me, and I’m not the tallest Elf ye’ll ever meet. Introductions were had and she seemed really pleased to meet the new officers. Thanked me, and then dismissed me. Dismissed me! The nerve!
No promotion for me, no glory for old El-Mofty! That Sweetsheen bastard even said he was sorry about the promotion as I stormed out of the room. Took everything I had not to sock him a good one. I’ll obey orders, don’t get me wrong, but this is a disgrace to Freystadt. They’ll not have seen the last of me, mark my words.