Once she earned the requisite points to graduate from Private 1st Class to Armsman 3rd Class, Anne accepted the job of Chief in the Recruits Division to work with Thomas Flint, who was now Sergeant.Â The offer had surprised her, but she was thrilled to have the opportunity.Â Â Anne thoroughly enjoyed her time with the recruits, even the extra chores assigned to Privates 1st to help train the 2nds and 3rds.Â Continuing to help the newest members of the Society appealed to Anne in a way that joining another division didn’t.Â She also had come to trust Thomas in the time she’d known him, and their mutual rapport would work in their favor as they took on their new roles.
Of course, Anne was nervous about the added responsibility.Â Taking charge of a few Privates for minor endeavours was cake compared to shaping the next wave of Roses to meetÂ the high expectations of their Oaths and of Command.Â Thomas had always been a very positive and enthusiastic man, though, and Anne found that his faith in her made it easier to put her nerves aside.Â After all, the Society was the only family she had, and she had been through several scrapes with them already.Â Being able to contribute back more than just her sword was a proud, yet humbling, thing.
Unfortunately, Anne had her first unpleasant day as an NCO shortly after promotion.Â She returned to headquarters one evening to find Thomas in a dispute with Odwin, a Rose who had been a Private 1st Class when she first joined as Private 3rd.Â Odwin had voiced objections to Thomas’ quick rise through the ranks previously in Anne’s presence, but things had been quiet for a while.Â That night, however, Odwin decided to air his frustration over Thomas making Sergeant when Odwin himself was only an Armsman still.Â Anne and I never fully understood the friction between Odwin and Thomas as we missed a great deal of it.Â I’m actually glad we did.Â In any case, Odwin purposely interrupted a meeting between Thomas and Anne.Â Thomas tried to deal with the situation properly, directing Odwin to command with any complaints, but Odwin wouldn’t have it.Â He even went so far as to draw his weapon, whichÂ would haveÂ landed him in the infirmary if Captain Zequire hadn’t shown up a few minutes later.Â Anne wanted to beat him senseless the moment he drew armsÂ – but Thomas was trying to talk him down.Â Torinor took Odwin aside for a chat, but some time later, Odwin walked in on Anne and Thomas again.Â This time, he seemed to be implying that he was ready to suicide, although he would deny that later.Â When Anne and Thomas restrained him and the officers showed up again, Torinor kicked Odwin out of the Society.Â Anne wouldn’t have much time to really think over the events of the day until she crawled home -Â the troops had a standard meeting not long afterward, and the highly aggravated officers sent them off to the Fire Dungeon AND to Titan Valley AND held a skirmish between two forces of Roses.Â Once she could sit and think, Anne was appalled that things had gotten so out of control.Â She had never known Odwin personally, but seeing any Rose disregard the chain of command was disturbing.Â The incident drove home the fact that she was now part of that chain (albeit a low man on the chain), and her own adherence to her Oath was more important than ever.Â While Anne was always softer with her soldiers than Command probably liked, she did see that she had a lot to learn to really be effective for the good of the Society.
Aside fromÂ aÂ particularly nasty fight with orcs and undead, things were relatively uneventful for a while with standard training exercises and routine work for the division.Â When Thomas pulled Anne aside for another discussion a week or two later, the topic was a complete shock to her.
Anne readily admitted that she was too inexperienced to comfortably lead soldiers who had been wielding swords longer than she’d been of age.Â Her anger stemmed more from the insult (in her mind) to Thomas, whom she saw as a driven, fresh mind for the Rose.Â Given that the two were leaders of the recruits, and the other Sergeants and COs were often in attendance, how often were they actually going to have to lead the more experienced troops anyway?Â The rebuke, although meant to maintain cohesionÂ and provide more detail on lines of command, rubbed her completely the wrong way.Â Anne had always held the top ranks in awe, but this left a little chip on her shoulder.
Following that night, I wrote this story to recap the frustration Anne felt.
TheÂ most ironic part?Â Before the reprimand, Anne hadn’t had to step up with the regular ranks very often.Â The Sergeants and the COs really were around a lot.Â Following the reprimand?Â Â Anne seemed to continually run into situations where she was either the ranking Rose on hand OR the only NCO available.Â She spent more time leading the other divisions’ members after that.Â :PÂ At the time, I didn’t appreciate what was going on.Â Being in the middle of it kept Anne and I too busy to see it.Â But going back through my logs surprised me with how often she had to take charge of things.Â I’m frankly amazed that most of them listened to her!
Things went back to fairly routine afterward.Â The recruits division had another task to complete, so Anne was leading a few sorties out to collect bola balls for the craftsmen.Â The COs also ran a host of training exercises, often pitting two groups of Roses against one another in various environments.Â Of course, the best – and most painful – exercises were marching drills.Â When you’re playing a game with an average 150 – 300ms ping, and wildly varying lag, getting a line of soldiers to all march together is … well… interesting.Â The most exciting goings on were new orc incursions.Â There were several battles in a very short period of time both at headquarters and Jhelom.Â Sometimes we won, sometimes we didn’t.Â Anne already had a dislike for Fidgit, the orange-robed mage and tamer who often scouted for the Shadowclan.Â With him leading the attacks during that time, her dislike steadily grew until she was ready to take his head at any opportunity (although killing Fidgit as a melee fighter was difficult for someone with PvP skills like mine.Â *laughs*).
Anne also made her first trip to Haven as part of the training exercises underway.Â I hadn’t visited the city since the Fel/Trammel split when OSI converted Trammel’s Ocllo into Haven as a city for brand new players.Â For a long while, veteran players had been barred from entering the city, but we had recentlyÂ regained access to the island.Â The exercise was another simple one – one group of defenders and one of attackers.Â This timeÂ they drafted Anmoch Coisich as captive, with Anne leading the “bad guys” and Thomas giving command of the rescuers toÂ one of the recruits.Â Like all of the Rose vs Rose combats, it was an interesting matchup, seeing what tactics could be devised for the situation.Â We had fun with it.Â 🙂
This was also turned out to be aÂ busy time forÂ the recruits division – certainly the busiest while Anne was with them.Â We had enough recruits to fieldÂ three fireteams: Hammer, Fist, and Scimitar.Â It was fun having that many soldiers on hand.Â The division outnumbered pretty much everyone else (which wasn’t always unusual), and they managed to pull off some good manuvers during combat on occasion.Â There was a certain level of pride in seeing most of the recruits survive a fight when the veterans were having trouble!
Somewhere in there, we also gainedÂ better access to Ilshenar, which was another expansion area for the game.Â I want to say that 2002 was when the 2D client was given access.Â Previously, you had to use the 3D client, which many people either didn’t have or wouldn’t use for various reasons.Â Â Whatever the reason, the Roses made more frequent forays into the area.Â Thomas would eventually craft an entire storyline around the goings-on in Ilshenar, but to start, the Society was sent over to scout and otherwise get a feel for the place.Â Anne took some of the recruits there for a few training exercises, and one assignment from command had her and Anmoch scouting the area outside the shrine closest to a city populated by gargoyles.Â The landscape was interesting, and the creatures challenged even the most veteran of players.Â Sadly, I missed a large part of Thomas’ line of fiction related to Ilshenar, the Harrower, and other events he put together.Â I’m not sure why I was offline so much, but I did miss a lot.Â Since I’ve bumped into his player again recently – let me lay out a challenge to you!Â Write up what you had in mind and what went on, if you have time.Â I’ll post it here if you do!Â 😉
So let’s see…. We’re now into late February 2002.Â Again, things were fairly routine with patrols and training aside from what Thomas had cooking.Â Then things ramped up again when a group from Britain decided to attack Winterfell.Â It wasn’t a terrible surprise to a lot of people OOC – there had been some bad blood brewing there for a while.Â But it was a definite shock to a lot of characters IC.Â Anne happened to be at headquarters that night, and Albrek Sterling was actually in Winterfell when it went down.Â As Xavier Sterling’s son, he often made visits to the Kingdom.Â To Anne’s surprise, Sgt Shadowspawn didn’t even flinch at the news.Â The SocietyÂ kept a good handle on the currents of politics!Â The regular ranks ofÂ Roses scrambledÂ to assemble their forces just in case.Â At the time, Command was trying hard to stay neutral – at least until someone offered to pay us to get involved.
As things usually panned out when we had a large force handy, a group of undead decided it was a prime time to attack.Â These invasions seemed to always come in droves.Â *chuckles*Â February into March had quite a few of them that year.Â Anne managed to survive that particular battle, and everyone went back onto alert.
As expected, a contract came in pretty soon from Winterfell – although it was more to defend against orcs than the Brits really.Â I think the Brit attack shook them up a bit, and they needed the help to keep the other baddies out.Â As the orcs were proving a nuisance, and there was good money involved, the Society took the job.Â That led toÂ a series of battlesÂ as the orcs made their presence known.Â Anne had never been to Winterfell before she joined the Roses, and from an IC perspective, she wasn’t impressed.Â With the long history between the Kingdom and the Society, going back to the early days of Northwood, the two sides weren’t exactly friendly.Â Being a Rose, Anne found the treatment from Winterfell’s citizens and soldiers to be rude and rather annoying.Â I think her life as a mercenary made it easier for me to make her a bit more jaded about it too.Â *laughs*Â She didn’t think like Elyriel, that’s for sure.
Ahh yes.Â This brings us to an evening that would change a couple things in Anne’s life.Â Keep in mind that she had been seeing far more frequent combat, and other than the injury to her left shoulder and a few bouts of res-sickness, Anne had walked away from most of them unscathed.Â
The night started withÂ AnneÂ out and about with Anmoch and Barristan in Ilshenar just exploring and testing the creatures there.Â They returned to headquarters to find Lily, a soldier Anne had not seen in some time, with a pet dragon in tow.Â I have no idea what set him off, but Barristan took exception to the dragon from the moment they arrived.Â He had been working hard to start up a new infantry division for a few weeks, so whenÂ Barristan’s comments against Lily and the dragon riled Lt. Kenyon, things looked ugly.Â About then, Fidgit popped by – and while Anne was distracted, Lily claimed that Barristan had struck her and then attacked her pet (which he probably did).Â Aragos, another Rose soldier who was in a relationship with Lily (I think), jumped in.Â Between Aragos, Lily, and the dragon, poor Barristan didn’t last long.Â After he was back on his feet, Anmoch and AnneÂ were ordered toÂ place him under arrest for assault.
In the middle of THAT, Sgt Shadowspawn showed up in a fury.Â He all but attacked Kenyon over some comments Ken apparently had made to MelanieÂ – who was Shadow’s fiancee by this point, I think.Â I suspect the whole thing was a misunderstanding of sorts, but I really can’t (and don’t want) to explain it more than that.Â Â In any case, Anne now found a scuffle going between Barristan, Lily, Aragos and Kenyon AND between Shadow and Ken.Â Her head was outright spinning.Â Anne tried to intervene after Shadow drew his sword on Ken – not that she could have stopped him if he really wanted to turn it into a fight.Â But Anne had developed a massive respect for the Sgt, and she didn’t want to see him do something foolish in a heated state.Â In hindsight, it was silly for her to worry – in a company of mercs like that, these kinds of disputes were inevitable.Â 😛
So the ranks are in turmoil, everyone is in a huff…. Can you guess what happened next?Â If you guessed undead attack, you’d be right!Â Anne immediately got pulled into the larger battle, which quickly devolved into chaos.Â Stupidly, I took Anne outside, and a cluster of spellcasters unloaded on her.Â It was a very short fight for us.Â In the end, I couldn’t even tell you who won.Â If Lily and the dragon survived, then the undead probably had to beat a hasty retreat.Â Between her pet and her spells, she was a potent warrior.
Having been taking down so incredibly badly, I decided on the spot that Anne really couldn’t just walk away from this one.Â Too many mages had hit her all at once.Â After the OOC cleanup and she got back inside the tower, I followed up with Anne collapsing to the floor, unconscious and burned down her right side.Â Kenyon was the first to get to her and hauled her to the infirmary where he and Anmoch did what they could until Tay Trefenwyd showed up.Â Tay was an unofficial member of the medics, a former member of the Storm Guard, and one hell of a magic user.Â TayÂ used some of his healing magic on Anne, which not only helped to speed the healing along -Â it alsoÂ helped to strengthen the friendship the two had been building during Anne’s tenure.Â Anne had always liked Tay, but his efforts on her behalf, plus his awesome and quirky personality quickly made him one of her favorite people.Â
After they had done about all they could, I called it a night and let poor Anne rest.Â I then posted this:
As I said above, Anne’s body had been taking constant abuse from the mercenary lifestyle, but I was letting most of it roll off her without a trace.Â Given the attacks from that fight, I decided it was time to add a little more characterÂ and leave her with some scars – both physical and mental.Â I talked to Tay’s player before logging out to let him know that his healing would do wonders, but the scars would remain.Â Then I altered Anne’s profile for the first time since I’d created her:Â
TheÂ physical scarring became permanent.Â Â Anne would always have scars down her right side from her jawline to her right hand.Â She also adopted her first quirk from the long retraining process that followed.Â It wasn’t unusual to see her flexing her right hand in its glove to helpÂ strengthen her gripÂ despiteÂ the damaged skin.Â For a long while, she would keep her gloves and gorget on.Â It was rare to see her in anything short-sleeved too.Â I think the only time she caved on that was Shadow and Melanie’s wedding.Â *chuckles*
Now the mental scarring wouldn’t beÂ severe – Anne was still a fairly resilient gal.Â But itÂ tamped downÂ on the occasionalÂ flippant girlie natureÂ that peeked through.Â I figured sheÂ was getting too oldÂ and jadedÂ to behave so carefree anyway.Â I also had never played her as a drop-dead beauty queen, nor had Anne ever been hung up on on her appearance.Â But the scarring affected her like it would any woman – it shook her confidence and made her more self-conscious.Â Having been a mercenary for a while, she knew how cruel some people could be, which made her somewhat more withdrawn.Â Â Although Anne could logically tell herself that her appearance wasÂ irrelevant in her line of work, it tookÂ time to come to terms withÂ the changes.Â For me, it let me focus more on who she would be as a Rose rather thanÂ just another female.Â
But wouldn’t you know it, the acquisition of her scars promptedÂ a completely unforeseen event that reinforced and also undid some of my planning to separate Anne the woman and Anne the mercenary.
Anne and Anmoch
As I’ve said before, romance wasn’t high on my “to do” list whenÂ I created Anne.Â Brenna hadÂ eventuallyÂ marriedÂ and settledÂ down with Gorren.Â Elyriel and Wraith gave Britannia nightmares byÂ unleashing Wraith children before settling into the retirement sunset.Â My characters and I had been down that road.Â I was far more interested in exploring Anne’s life as a mercenary and howÂ a personÂ would cope with that lifestyle.Â
That disinterest had made it easier to deflect Kenyon’sÂ advances on Anne in her early days.Â While I had no problems with his player, and Anne refused to hold Ken the character’s more colorful past experiences against him, it just wasn’t going to happen.Â Â I wasn’t interested in that path, and the rules about officers and soldiersÂ only made it evenÂ sillier to think about.
Anmoch though, he caught Anne’s attention in a unique way and at a unique point in her life.Â While she had been a Private, Anne had gotten to know Anmoch as a fellow soldier.Â She had been on several patrols with him; they shared guard duties during General Rahl’s wedding; and Anmoch had helped Anne and Barristan with their training on multiple occasions.Â By the time Anne became Chief, the three soldiers would dungeon crawl together or send themselves on other missions to gather materials for the Roses.Â They developed an easy camaraderie as time went on, and I believe the two men had intentions of recruiting Anne to Barristan’s planned division at the time.
Anne respected Anmoch and enjoyed his company.Â She knew that they had both grown up in Moonglow, but she honestly didn’t know much else about his past.Â Anne was hesitantÂ to be questioned about her own background, so she never took the time to ask the other Roses too much about theirs.Â Working from only what she saw daily,Â Anne foundÂ Anmoch to be the type of man whose actions spoke volumes andÂ whose few words were well thought out.Â She appreciated his willingness to train the lower ranks, and he very often had great insights to impart.Â All in all, she liked him, but he was simply a respected fellow soldier.
After being promoted toÂ Chief, Anne dedicated a lot of time to bettering herself as a soldier and a leader.Â She wanted to give Thomas the support he needed, and she took a lot of pleasure in helping the recruits adapt to Society life.Â It kept her plate very full.Â In her mind, she was just another cog in the wheel, and she was content with that.Â
While sheÂ was recovering in the infirmary,Â several soldiers stopped to visit, which touchedÂ Anne deeply.Â Seeing their concern was a good reminderÂ that the Roses were family – and an appreciative one sometimes.Â Â She really wasn’t surprised when Anmoch stopped by too.
That’s what started the whole thing.Â
I kid you not, my first reaction was my jaw hitting the floor.Â The two had been friends, so having him visit wasn’t unusual.Â The longer the conversation went on, the stranger it seemed to me -Â theyÂ never had a lot of extended quiet times to talk (you know, being soldiers and whatnot), soÂ Anmoch talking at that length was out of the ordinary.Â I just brushedÂ it off and let Anne be Anne talking to her friend.Â The last statement before he departed left us both speechless for a time.Â *laughs*
Now I have to admit that Anmoch’s player HAD mentioned OOC that heÂ was toying with the notion of introducing Anmoch to the dating scene.Â At the time, I laughed and said I’d love to see how that would play out.Â I think I set myself upÂ there.Â *grins*Â Seriously, though, Anmoch’s player and I had known each other for a good year or two at this point, having met through other characters before Anne.Â I think that’s what made a relationship between Anne and Anmoch possible.Â Considering how conservative Anmoch was, and how Anne was starting to become moreso, it worked that their characters would develop an affinity stemming from a mutual respect for one another.Â This would NOT be a head-over-heels romance in any way, shape, or form.
At first, I didn’t even know how serious his player was.Â It would take another real-life month before there was any outward sign that something was going on – and that was only from a story I posted which dropped a vague hint or two.Â OOC, I believe we had a couple conversations during that time, basically laying out the framework and determining how comfortable we were with the whole thing.Â IC, Anne and Anmoch went about their business, pretty much the same as usual.Â AnneÂ wasn’t sureÂ how to take whatÂ Anmoch hadÂ said anyway, so sheÂ didn’t press the issue.Â AnmochÂ helped her withÂ retraining once Tay’s healing accelerated her recovery, but nothing changed in how they treated one another.Â Â If anything, it was the tiniest of gestures spread out over a lot of routine events.Â 🙂
Back to Anne…
Seeing as this post has taken me far longer than planned to finish, I’m going to stop here.Â Anne still had a couple months to be Chief for the recruits,Â and I’ll recap the remainder of that next time.Â Thanks for hanging on through all the text in this one!Â The lack of screenshots makes it hard to break this up with fun pictures!Â :|Â Ah well.