Yron Ironoak – First Captain in the Mercenary Army of Balthasar Von Shrect
So, last post I introduced you to Balthasar, the Brotherhood of the Sands and Paymaster Oberschloss. Today I give to you, Yron Ironoak. Ex-captain of the Boggenhoff City Watch and right hand to the Black Bastard.
The prince had called his war council. Yron rolled up his map of the surrounding hills and strode towards the centre of the camp. All about him he heard dialects of the old world, the guttural tones of the Norscan and the dulcet mumblings of Kislev. The accent of Boggenhoff was becoming rarer and rarer these days, only a few of the men under his command had ever seen the city of his birth.
The smell of cooking meats hung in air as Yron strode up the hill. His prince’s tent was a hive of activity. He pushed through the press of lesser captains and sergeants and took his place at Balthasar’s right hand. The prince was smiling, always a bad sign. Prostrated before him was a pair of peasants- a man and woman. They smelt of sweat and fear.
‘Please my lord…’
‘Prince, I am a prince.’ Balthasar sneered.
‘Please my prince, the beast horde fell upon our lord’s holdfast. They are laying siege to the castle as we speak. We escaped before they could surround us completely.’ Balthasar’s licked his thin lips.
‘Your lord has sent you to beg for help. We are not in the custom of treating with peasants. Does your lord seek to insult me? He could have sent one of his household and he chooses you. Well, what terms does he offer?’ The man looked lost in a den of snakes, as if his next words might doom his people.
‘Offer… You misunderstand, my prince, Lord Longbridge seeks your assistance as he would that of any noble man, any brother of the Empire.’
The tent erupted with laughter. Even Von Shrect allowed himself a chuckle, only Yron stood firm.
‘Longbridge seeks me to lend the arms of my brothers for free? Well- I shall take this up with him personally. I am sure once we liberate his holdfast and break the siege he will be more generous.’
Yron had heard Balthasar make such promises before, if the lord proved to be ungrateful and poor he would raise the keep to the ground and slaughter all within. Yron could not blame him, but he could not condone it. The peasant looked relieved not understanding the implied threat.
‘Thank you, prince.’ Balthasar’s eyes narrowed.
‘Seize her.’ Two of his men stepped forward and grabbed the girl by the wrists. ‘She will be our down payment. Captain Rousseau, see that she pleases the men. Don’t bruise her too badly or her lord won’t want her back.’ The man stepped forward,
‘That is my wife.’ Yron shook his head; it was already too late for the girl. She would be senseless from rape by the time the sun came up.
‘You ask us to fight for you? You ask my men to die for you and you offer nothing? You would not even give them the comfort of a woman for the night?’ The bluster and fight went out of the man. ‘Good, Ironoak. Get this man out of my sight.’
The night air was cold and bitter. The man trudged out of the tent at Ironoak’s side, the cries of his wife echoed through the night as the first of her suitors claimed her for his own.
‘That bastard. That fucking bastard.’
‘Watch your mouth boy. He is a prince. He is my prince.’ Yron looked his years in that moment, all sixty of them. ‘He was a good man once.’ The peasant stared at the hulking figure of Ironoak- the captain wore a quartered doublet of purple and cream, stained and patched with bits of newer cloth. His helm and great sword were of the finest quality and his face lined with years of hard living and hard fighting.
‘I give no shit for the man he once was. He consigned my wife to be raped half to death.’
Yron shook his head, ‘He gave you a choice: your home and the lives of all of your people or your wife’s cunt. An honest price for what you asked, peasant.’
The man crumpled at his feet, tears streaming down his cheeks.
‘You could save her, you could ask the prince to make his men stop. Please.’ Yron felt no pity for the man. He was not the one who would feel the hot breath of a hundred men upon him this night.
‘Get out of my sight.’ Yron shoved the man away and stalked back to his tent. The night had left a bitter taste in his mouth. Balthasar was losing himself. He was becoming the Black Bastard.
Yron could still remember Balthasar as a bastard boy, shunned by his family, made to serve his younger brothers. Yron had been Captain of the city guard and had tried to protect him by giving him a post as one of his men- but to no avail. Balthasar’s father was not a man to allow loose ends. Lucian Von Shrect was a cold man, he saw Balthasar as a threat to his true blood children. In the dead of night they took Balthasar, stripped him and pushed him from the city gates. He was given three hours to run and then they hunted him. They hunted him for a day and a night, but they never found him.
Many moons later and in the dead of night a lone figure had approached the city gates. Yron had known him as Balthasar and sheltered him. Yron could not have known that Balthasar intended murder. He was a kind soul, a good lad- but he killed them all. The flight from Boggenhoff had been a terrifying ordeal. Running from the Reiksguard, the bounty hunters and the lawmen, but they had made it.
Yron lay back on his cot and listened to the sounds of revelry. The cries had faded to nothing. She had given up the fight. Yron could not help but empathise- he had long since given up the fight to save Balthasar’s soul. He merely stood at his side.
So here he stands, rendered in plastic and resin:
Well that’s it for this week my fine fellows and fellettes. I hope you enjoyed this introduction to one of my favourite Captains. Next week- Emile Rousseau – a man of dubious morals and all round bastard.