(This is a bit of a prequel, from my characters viewpoint, as we are waiting for a few profiles I decided to give a better explanation about my character and the situation he finds himself in.)
The Imperial City Of Sumbria
The trumpets sounded as tough announcing the arrival of the all-mighty emperor himself, but instead of an emperor the people would have miserable wretches picked from all corners of the world to form a motley lot. In the place of a parade, there would have been a funeral march had it not been for the spiteful crowd mocking the men walking towards their inevitable fate. Where the emperor would have been sitting on a throne, these wretches were faced with the gallows, looming ominously in the center of the city square. The men sentenced to be hanged today sat quietly in their cells with a somber atmosphere weighing down on them. Not because of what they were about to lose, but because of what they had already lost and in the face of that death itself seemed like a welcome event. Their ship, The Daring
had been reduced to pile of scrap lying on some forsaken mountain side, most of their friends had perished in the crash and most importantly there was nothing left for them to do, they were trapped.
A few of them had tried to brake out of their cells and even managed to knock out a guard in the process, admirably so until a squad of soldiers descended into the jail and butchered an entire cell with well aimed volley of musket fire. At that range only one had survived, wounded tough, the soldiers had left him to bleed under the bodies of his comrades. The man died some hours later whilst having begged for some kind of god for forgiveness and what had originally been twelve was finally reduced to seven. Whatever pittance of defiance left in the smugglers was snuffed out by the gory display of ruthlessness, some of them broke down mentally and almost cried themselves to sleep. The youngest amongst them, to survive that was, was a lad by the name of Abel Cromwell. Cromwell`s face was almost devoid of emotion, lest you count being tired one of those. His gaze was empty as were his thoughts, he was frightened to even think of what the next hour entailed, the painfully long suspense of building up to the kill. Their crimes would be read out loud, someone would tell them to beg the emperor forgiveness etc, a cheap theater if some one asked him.
It wasn`t like he hadn`t seen executions before, his pap had taken him to see a few in the day, maybe as a cautionary tale or maybe because everyone of his neighbors were going too, might have been the entire town for that matter. Not like it mattered, the old bugger had managed to get his head chopped off at a public venue no less. Like father like son, huh? That was not a very pleasant thought. At least he was keeping his head where it belonged, hopefully scrapping some of his dignity whilst he was throttling to death yet likely not. The cell door screeched open and the guard was tearing him from his seat, earning an frustrated rebuttal as Abel shoved them man aside. Straightening himself and grinning widely, he began to walk towards his doom. He joined line of ragged convicts in the dank corridor, exchanging somber nods with a few of them, as tough to say "Nice knowing you mate". The seven men began slouching up the stairs, towards the gleaming sunlight that burst from the open doorway. Leading the sorry lot was their first mate, lucky enough to have survived the crash with a few scratches, followed by crew member of varying ages, from the almost 50 to 20.
Being the last of the line, Abel was the last to feel the sun rays warming his face, which would have been a welcome change had the side effect not been the certain chance of death by strangulation. And... that`s when it hit him, his knee`s began to buckle and his stomach twisted itself around a couple of times. He was going to die
, as in THE END, nothing was going to remain beyond that point save for a carcass cause he for one was not about to start praying on his knee`s for some non-existent deity, problem with those was that there were so damn many of them and it was hard to know which of em was the right one, if any, take your pick. Just as he was about to let out his nervous "here goes nothing" chuckle and step out to the city square, someone yanked him by the collar and pulled him backwards. Before knew it, two guards had grabbed him the armpits and were practically dragging him to a side corridor, the wrong way.
Dumbstruck by the sudden development, even horrified a bit, he tried to squeeze his way out of the guards grips, but was unsuccessful. By no means was Abel a small man, 6 feet and 2 inches, yet the guards happened to be made of sturdier stuff, whatever that might be. As he was about to vocally protest, the guards pushed a door aside and revealed an even more baffling sight before Abel. A long room flanking the city square, furnished with a single table in the middle, weapon racks littering the walls and a fireplace on the far right wall. At the aforementioned table sat an imperial officer, clad in a green uniform and the insignia indicating his rank decorated his jacket chest. On the table laid one sleek stiletto, a number of other small tools and one alarmingly familiar pistol sword in it`s scabbard, his sword no less. At a loss for words as he was seated down opposite the imperial officer, who seemed entirely content to be sipping on his tea whilst the guards made their exit back the way they came and closed the door behind them.
Only flanked by his adjutant, a young dark haired man in a similar uniform yet possessing less insignia like his superior, now the man at the table placed his cup aside. Taking a grip, Abel studied the man before him, his appearance suggested he was no youngster yet his hair remained perfectly blonde as they had been in his youth, albeit a bit dimmed. Clearly someone with the authority to interrupt an execution no doubt, his execution. Before he knew it he could see a shadow in the corner of his eye, something falling down and being suddenly stopped in mid-fall. As he glanced outside he could see one of his comrades already hanging at the end of a noose, the first mate, old bastard must have opened his mouth and cursed every single god known to man or simply called the executioners mother a pig, which ever did the trick. Shaking his eyes from the unpleasant sight Abel glared at the officer before him and then at the weapons assembled on the table before him, the officer across made note of this.
"Contemplating on killing me Mr.Cromwell?" The officer inquired
"Wouldn`t dream of it... Colonel. I doubt the lieutenant would like the idea very much and I think I can be a hundred coins on the fact, that sword of his would pierce my heart before I managed to grab a hold of my sword." Abel replied cautiously and indicated at the adjutant with a tilt of his head.
"You are well versed in the ranks of the imperial army, no wonder we had a hard time catching your people, you could have sniffed an imperial bloodhound miles a way no doubt." Scheller commended Abel on his insight, most civilians didn`t know a lieutenant for a major.
"Or a Frank one for that matter." Abel added, feeling slightly more comfortable as he was not being faced with the gallows, albeit he could see them and the corpses of his comrades hanging in the corner of his eye. He also tried to ignore the roaring of the crowd and concentrate on whatever they wanted out of him.
"So I`ve been led to believe." Scheller commented with a dry tone and leaned forward, glaring a hole through Cromwell, which made him visibly uneasy. "Many people have told me, including my adjutant here, that normally you shouldn`t be even breathing at this very moment...." He continued with a lowered voice, but it was as tough he was telling a secret instead of threatening him.
"And these aren`t normal circumstances?" Cromwell followed up on the thought, that Scheller had left hanging in the air, yet couldn`t help feeling terribly unease about his current situation.
"They are exceptional, Mr. Cromwell as the empire isn`t in the habit of pardoning any of it`s death-row convicts. The emperor frowns upon such weakness as it is his personal view, that people like you are a plague, which corrupts his domain from within. Yet... maybe there is merit in that... maybe if your ability for mischief was turned to fuel the welfare of his domain, past crimes could be overlooked, and future services rewarded even. Ecspecially in a time when the empire was in dire need of those willing to serve it through one form or another." It was as tough Scheller was dangling a prize in front of Abel, who was now desperate to avoid his fate at whatever the cost, he was no longer grasping for straws.
Abel leaned backwards in his chair with a contemplating and troubled look on his face "You want me
to work for the imperium?" He inquired after a moment of silence, obviously Scheller knew how to work a desperate man to do his bidding, like a ruthless loan shark. "I`m no soldier..." Abel leaned in forward with an apologetic look on his face, hiding a grin.
"If the imperium needed another soldier I would have increased recruiting in some backwater province." Scheller sneered, expressing his contempt at the notion, that mere military might was the key to victory. Scheller chuckled a bit afterwards at his sudden outburst and steered the conversation back on it`s right track."I wanted to recruit you because of your experience with other cultures and knowing how to avoid detection in enemy territory, in other words the tools a smuggler requires. I need those expertise, and a couple of others, in order to ensure that my new venture goes smoothly. I call it `The Invisible Hand`, a ship and a group of agents infiltrating enemy territory to strike key targets within. A war fought in the shadows, if you will." Scheller explained with ambition blazing in his eyes, a bad sign, if Abel ever saw one.
"I understand why you need someone like me... but... why me?"
"Do you see anyone else left?" Scheller responded with a witty smile on his face and tilted his head to the side as, if Cromwell couldn`t see the corpses hanging at the gallows.
"Good point, where do I sign up?" Abel hastily muttered as tough he was, quite literally, looking for a piece of paper to sign his name on.
"You already have." Scheller said as he motioned for his adjutant to act.
The lieutenant marched to Cromwell and unchained the cuffs, the young smuggler rubbed his wrists, thankful for being free of the metal around them. He would have felt an overwhelming wave of relief had his eyes not been been locked on the gallows, at the seven people hanging by the nooses. He had been about to ask about how they were going to explain his disappearance, yet closed his mouth without a word. Only now he realized, that there had been seven people hanging at the gallows all along and he had merely been too distracted to notice. Abel couldn`t help, but chuckle as he equipped himself with the weapons spread out on the table.
"Didn`t think there was going to be an afterlife."
Cromwell remarked with wide smirk on his face, making sure the adjutant hear it, as the two living men and one dead man left the room.