AsÂ excited as I was to bring Anne into the Black RoseÂ Society’s ranks, it would be a few more days before they could actually swear her in.Â The Society’s headquarters was still controlled by the “bad” Roses, so the guildstone was out of reach for both RP and practical purposes.Â Not that that really proved to be much of a problem.Â Anne and I had a blast just shadowing theÂ troopÂ during the interim, offering what aid we could.Â Â During a couple skirmishes,Â in which the “good” Roses came away with a couple captives, Anne had a brief chance to trot out her knowledge of herb lore and tried to provide aÂ sedative.Â TheÂ soliders under control by the rings had a bad habit of dying when captured.Â Â While the sedative wasn’t foolproof – IÂ wasÂ intruding on their fiction a bit with it – at leastÂ Anne could try to help.Â Aside from that, she had toÂ take a back seat to most of the action until the Soceity could settle things for themselves.Â
In the meantime, Lt. Kenyon McBain tried to getÂ her training in any way he could.Â Since she had admitted that her abilities with a sword were lackluster, and she couldn’t lay a hand on the “bad” Roses due to game mechanics, KenyonÂ assignedÂ Anne to helpingÂ Jhelom’s city guard keep theÂ undead at bay in the local cemetery.Â Â It wasn’t glamorous work, but it helped hone her skills and turned up at least a small influx of cash.Â KenyonÂ was kind enough to provideÂ Anne with some better gear, and heÂ started her instruction in the history of the Roses.Â As Lieutenant,Â he was essentially the man inÂ charge of recruits most of the time.Â Â Through her interactions with him, Anne found Kenyon to be likeable.Â He always had time for her questions, and he genuinely seemed concerned about all of hisÂ soldiers – even raw recruits like her.Â Â Despite his rank and the craziness of the rings unfolding, the two found an easy friendship of sorts.
Finally though, theÂ “good” Roses managed to put an end to the insurrection of the ring-bearers.Â I actually missed the ending of all that.Â AnneÂ just happened to be in Jhelom one day when Kenyon and Captain Torinor Zequire ran across her.Â To her surprise, the Captain ordered Kenyon to takeÂ her to headquarters and swear her in.Â Very briefly, Kenyon filled her in about the “bad”Â Roses being on the runÂ or being recovered.Â The rest of the Ring Cycle then wrappedÂ up out of my sight.Â
But the end of that at least got Anne toÂ the event I’d been waiting aÂ couple weeks for!Â
Anne’s Oath – Taken in early January 2002
Kenyon: ok repeat after me
Anne Savant: *slips headband off*
(Kenyon goes through the Oath – I removed that for brevity)
Anne Savant: I swear upong the beating of the heart in my breast…
Anne Savant: that I will uphold the ideals of the Society and her code…
Anne Savant: that I will conduct myself to all around me with Poise, Precision…
Anne Savant: and Discipline..
Anne Savant: that I will follow the leadership of those the Society places above me…
Anne Savant: that I will live and die by the Contract….
Anne Savant: and maintain the Society’s honor and prestige in doing so.
Anne Savant: I swear to know, I swear to will, I swear to dare, I swear to be silent.
Anne Savant: This I swear on my life’s blood.
Kenyon: you may touch the stone
: a guildstone
: The Black Rose Society
: You are now loyal to Debinani Rahl.
The name of your guild has changed:Â The Black Rose Society
Kenyon: welcome aboard
Anne Savant: *smiles*
Anne Savant: Thank you, sir.
Private 3rd ClassÂ
To her surprise, Anne was deeply moved by both the Oath and the brotherhood she had witnessed between the Roses, good and bad, up to that point.Â After threeÂ years on the road, she had very few people she trusted.Â The prospect of a stable home sounded really good, andÂ sheÂ was very hopeful seeing how even a motley group like the Rose soldiers melded together.Â In the earliest days she knew them, and quickly into her earliest days as Private 3rd Class, Anne was swept up by that fellowship, and it didn’t take long for her to become fiercely proud of her new family.Â
Her friendship with Kenyon continued, and through him she would meet Sarah Athens who was Ken’s sister.Â Sarah and Anne quickly took a liking to each other, which would translate into the closest friendship Anne would have aside from Thomas Flint.Â Through Sarah, Anne also got to see Cpt. Zequire in a new light as he and Sarah were a couple at the time.Â Those three – Ken, Sarah, and Torinor – were the first circle of friends that Anne developed (although Tor and Ken were always officers in Anne’s mind!).
For those ofÂ you not familiar with the Black RoseÂ Society as it was at the time, they operated as a mercenary company built on military ranks and divisions.Â At the top of the pile was General Debinani Rahl, the man whoÂ hadÂ forged the company into its current Sosarian incarnation.Â The General was somewhat of a legendary figure to Anne.Â EvenÂ surrounded byÂ soldiers who had been witnesses, Anne struggled to wrap her brain around some of the General’s exploits.Â In short, he terrified her.Â *laughs*Â To handle more of the day-to-day stuff, the General had his command staff, which were Colonel Anubis, CaptainÂ Zequire, and Lt. McBain.Â Other officers were in the mix shortly before Anne joined, but these would be the main disciplinary figures in her world except for Sgt Major/Staff Sgt/Whatever his Kick-Your-Ass title of the day was Shadowspawn.Â Drill sergeant is about all you need to know for Shadow.Â The man lived and breathed that job.Â heh.Â And Anne was starting at the farthest other end of the spectrum from these larger-than-life-figures.Â She was now a Private 3rd Class, which was the lowest of the low for maggot recruits.Â She had a path forward though – show up, follow orders, and do what she was told until she accumulated enough points to advance to Private 2nd and someday Private 1st.Â After that, she could escape the ranks of the recruits and join a real division, which is where the bulk of the Society’s soldiers were.
Sadly, I can’t remember exactly which divisions were active when Anne first signed on.Â I remember the Crimson Thorns, for sure.Â But I can only recall the Storm Guard and the Warders beyond that.Â Pitiful on my part, really.Â Anywho, the divisions filled various roles, such as the Thorns being sort of a heavy infantry group, if I remember right.Â The Storm Guard and Warders were far more specialized groups, however.Â Again, as these held special places in Rahl’s mythology, I won’t try to explain them.Â From Anne’s perspective, the higher-ranked Privates andÂ regular rank soldiers of the Society were to be obeyed.Â The Storm Guard and the Warders were not people to f*ck with.Â And the officers?Â When they were really in their officer role, she kept her mouth shut and tried not to screw up and draw any attention to herself!
BRS Meeting outside HeadquartersÂ – Sent by Pagan, early 2002
So this was the atmosphere Anne found waiting for her as a full-fledged member of the troop.Â Her days were filled with drills, patrols,Â and piecing together the living history around her as soldiers of all ranks dropped bits of information about the Society and its history.Â There were also a lot of battles, and Anne got her first taste ofÂ combat with orcs, undead, and other unsavory sorts both at headquarters and in Jhelom.Â In the ranks of the recruits, Anne was fortunate enough to find a couple friends, the first being Barristan Selmy.Â Although he was a bit distant and far more intense than Anne, she was comfortable working with him.Â The two spent a lot of time training together.Â Higher in the maggot-ranks, Anne also met Thomas Flint, a Private 1st Class at the time.Â Flint was a help and an irritant to the higher ranks even back then.Â He really had an interest in helping the privates train, but his methods didn’t always mesh with some of the officers.Â That friction would play out to worse effect much later.Â But Anne liked Thomas immediately, and she really enjoyed participating in activities he organized.
Between Thomas, Barristan, and the rest of the recruits and the extra trainingÂ she could find with Kenyon and Torinor, Anne was thoroughly enjoying herself.Â She desperately wanted to fit in and measure up, so she threw herself into the soldier life, but she was pleased to have friends, a support network, and a structured life (even for a mercenary) that made a lot more sense than wandering the streets.Â In those earliest days, Anne really didn’t make much of a splash outside of trying to fit in and not cross the officers.Â Most soldiers would probably only remember that she was the quiet one with her nose in a book (usually her father’s journal on herbology) and dirt under her fingernails from “digging”, which is what Anne called her herb collection runs.Â If she wasn’t training, she usually could be found doing one or the other.
Unfortunately, since I had built Anne’s character on the concept of her running a bit mindlessly from Nujel’m, I also made herÂ cautious about sharing too much information about her past.Â That didn’t lend itself well to other characters getting to know her beyond the present.Â Now in an atmosphere like the Roses, that actually wasn’t unusual.Â After all, mercenaries might not live too long, and quite a few soldiers came from less than sterling backgrounds.Â Some soldiers didn’t share much at all.Â But to open the door for the players behind Anne’s new companions, I wrote the first of Anne’s stories shortly after her recruitment.
It was just a little bit of fiction to flesh out some things in my head about her origins, and it let me start forming Anne as a progressing soldier in how I played her.Â I was pleased enough with the results that I decided to pick up where the story left off the next time I logged her in.Â Anne basically crawled out of the swamp near headquarters, hoping to find the first Rose she could in the area.Â That happened to be Leedja that day.
Anne Savant: *dragging her pack behind her*
Leedja: come look.
Anne Savant: *looks over*
Anne Savant: *shoulder heavily bandaged*
Anne Savant: *very pale*
Anne Savant: *gasps*
Anne Savant: Help…
Anne Savant: please.
Anne Savant: *leans heavily on her sword*
Anne Savant: *face bruised*
Leedja: *frowns and lifts her up a bit*
Anne Savant: *nods faintly in thanks*
Anne Savant: I… need a healer.
Leedja: come, lets get ye to tower.
Anne Savant: *leans on her*
That led to a long visit to the infirmary where poor Leedja and Melanie had to clean her up.Â *chuckles*Â But it also led to one very short exchange that had me grinning when I re-read it later.Â Anne absolutely hated being laid up when wounded, as Tay would rue forever after, so she refused to stay in bed even after losingÂ that much blood.Â She managed to shamble downstairs while the troops were preparing for a training mission – under Rahl’s leadership no less.Â This was probably the only time Anne was ever flippant with Rahl….
Anne Savant: *slowly walks*
(soldiers prepping for the training run)
Anne Savant: *tries to stand straight*
Debinani Rahl: Ey…aren’t you supposed to be in bed?
Anne Savant: *salutes*
Anne Savant: Probably, sir.
Debinani Rahl: And?
Anne Savant: I did not want to miss all of training, sir.
(soldiers opening the gate to leave – nice distraction!)
Anne Savant: I can watch at least.
Debinani Rahl: *sighs*
Debinani Rahl: You need a jump out, just holler. Don’t overextend.
Anne Savant: Yes, sir.
(and off they went)
And Anne ended up going along for the ride in an “observer” capacity.Â It was really dumb from an RP perspective to take her out in that condition, but it was a sight more interesting than staring at hospital walls!
The best part of that night though?Â The troops were unwinding after the training mission, and Anne had just finished reporting to Kenyon what had actually happened to her, when General Rahl came back in to make an announcement.
Debinani Rahl: *grabs a mug and bangs it on the table*
Anne Savant: *stands at attention*
Doc Holiday: *stands at attention*
Barristan Selmy: *stands at attention*
Ssin’urn Elghinn: *stands at attention*
Debinani Rahl: At ease….sheesh…
Debinani Rahl: Ladies and Gentlemen…and Kenyon…..
Doc Holiday: *chuckles*
Debinani Rahl: I would like to present to you the – apparantly foolish, blind, and masachistic-
Debinani Rahl: Future Lady Kalipso Turon.
Debinani Rahl: *bows to Kalipso with a flourish*
Now Anne had known that something had been going on, even in the short time she had known Kal.Â Kalipso was another recruit who had been with the Roses a while longer than Anne had.Â Although she and Anne were never close, they knew one another and had fought alongside each other in a few skirmishes.Â But the announcement was still a surprise to Anne – the officers were so much higher than maggot recruits that Anne had trouble bridging the gap mentally.Â Unfortunately, I don’t have a complete log of the wedding itself.Â Anne volunteered to stand guard during the ceremony, which was held at the shrine on Paladin’s Isle in Trinsic.Â She was stationed too far away to hear everything.Â *sigh*Â Anyway…
Although the marriage of the General should have beenÂ big enough news, the real kicker came with theÂ “no fraternization” rule that followed.Â I don’t know if the rule had existedÂ unofficiallyÂ previously, but it was made clear afterward thatÂ officers weren’t supposed to fraternize with the lower ranks.Â While having such a rule seemed sensible enough, it would cause a major disruption in Anne’s life later on.
The rule actually helped her out shortly after it was relased, though.Â Anne and KenyonÂ hadÂ become friends not too long after first meeting,Â but after a few weeks in the ranks, it was obvious that Ken’s interest was going beyond friendship.Â I kept AnneÂ relatively oblivious to it at first, largely because I didn’t want to addÂ a romance to her life yet.Â But the rumor mill started running wild, both in game and out.Â No one ever asked Anne about it until later, but I was peppered with questions OOC.Â Â Eventually, KenÂ made a gesture that was too hard to ignore, and Anne had to respond.Â The two had a brief and somewhat frank discussion on the subject.Â Although very flattered, Anne had her plate full with training and finding a role within the Society.Â And the fraternization rule was laid out quite clearly.Â In all honesty, if it had happened later in Anne’s life, I may have considered it more.Â But at the time that it happened, and with Kenyon being an officer, I didn’t want to go down that road.Â Thankfully, Kenyon didn’t take it too badly, and he eventually moved on to marry another gal.Â Anne took it all in stride and just kept on going.
Private 1st ClassÂ
By the end of the first real-life month with the Roses, Anne had accumulated enough points through meetings, drills, and other activities that she jumped from Private 3rd Class straight to Private 1st Class.Â She could have held the Private 2nd Class title briefly in between, but sometimes there was a delay before points were tallied and promotions handed out.Â Barristan was progressing just as quickly as she was, and the two often found themselves heading up their Fireteams (a fireteam was a subset of the recruits division).Â Thomas had become a full-fledged soldier by then, and Shadowspawn had chosen him as Chief for the recruits division (each division had a Sergeant and a Chief to lead them).
As a Private 1st Class, Anne was supposed to take some initiative in helping the lower-ranking maggots train.Â So I devised a short training session on explosive potions, which Anne would host twice during her career.Â As she was still training as an herbalist, she was very familiar with the potions, and they had been a part of her arsenal and combat tactics since the beginning.Â The class itself was pretty straight forward.Â The participants discussed the potions and their usage, then they had some time to experiment and practice.Â There’s nothing quite like tossing exploding potions at one another!Â Much to my pleasure, the feedback on the class was very positive.Â :)Â I really enjoyed being able to do something constructive with the recruits.
Not everything was routine drills, however.Â There had been some activity in Delucia, a town in the Lost Lands, pitting the locals against undead and other forces.Â When warning came that the undead and their allies were preparing for a large assault, Delucia’s townsfolk put out a plea for help.Â That led to a contract for the Society, tasking the Roses with helping the other defenders against the invaders.Â Anne was absolutely terrified and excited to go out on her first big contract mission.Â The Society showed up in force, and they took a position atop one of the larger buildings.Â The thought at the time was that the enemies would be bottlenecked coming up to fight them.Â Stationed near Barristan and the other recruits, Anne was a ball of nerves while they waited for what seemed like hours.Â Finally, the invaders attacked, but all the defenders careful plans fell apart, leading to a vicious and ugly battle that didn’t last very long at all.
From an RP perspective, it was a rout.Â From an OOC perspective, most of us considered it a farce.Â I could go into bitter details (that loss still rankles me to this day), but it boiled down to a flaw in game mechanics.Â Arraying two large armies against one another didn’t mean much when you could walk through anyone and pick off any target you chose to attack first.Â Tactics largely went out the door aside from killing the mages first.Â 😛
Following the battle, I was so incensed that I immediately wrote this short story.Â I was determined to have Anne learn from the fight, even if I was incredibly annoyed by the whole thing.
As would happen from time to time later, this seemed to open a floodgate of battles, although the orcs ended up taking the lead on being the attackers.Â Headquarters and Jhelom became dangerous places for a while, with regular beatings being handed out by both sides.Â Anne scrambled to keep up, frantically working her combat skills to keep herself alive and desperately applying what herbal knowledge she had to help clean up in the aftermath.Â Her skills were nowhere near as advanced as the medics, but she did what she could to help on the battlefield or to assist in the infirmary.Â The constant assaults shortened tempers quite a bit too – Anne found herself joining Corporal Adulphus Turon and Barristan on a trip through Shame to retrieve a vial of blood from a blood elemental after Turon and Shadowspawn had a few heated words one night.Â The three came home triumphant, but Adulphus damned near died from it.Â Shortly thereafter, the Society turned out with the Byzantines (another guild out of Jhelom) and some other “good guys” to return the favor to the orcs in an attack on the Shadowclan Fort.Â Both battles were fierce and downright nasty at times.
All of the activity did one favor for Anne, however.Â She very quickly racked up the points needed to graduate from the ranks of the recruits and become an Armsman 3rd Class.Â When the promotion was imminent, she was surprised when Thomas took her aside for a brief chat.Â Shadowspawn had been promoted and reassigned away from the recruits, and Thomas was taking his place as Sergeant for the division.Â He had a proposition in mind for her on the same topic.
Although it was a short span, Anne’s time as a Private helped me to set her character in motion.Â She went from a frightened girl on the run to a woman who knew how to take care of herself – and oneÂ who hadÂ a mean pack of mercenaries at her back when she needed more support!Â Â Anne also found that she loved the recruits division and working with raw newÂ talents.Â Getting the offer to stay with them asÂ Chief was a good fit for her, in my opinion.Â Her future was starting to look pretty darn good.