A Runaway Father's Odyssey by Xerolo44 | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 7: Warriors in the Making

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"BACK IN FORMATION, BOTH OF YOU, NOW!" Elias's voice thundered across the training ground, prompting Benedikt and Daniel to swiftly join the ranks of their fellow recruits. Their eyes locked on Commander Elias, awaiting his next command.

"You all witnessed the skirmish between them, and it exemplifies the power of determination and will. However, it's equally crucial not to underestimate your adversaries, as Laurin unfortunately did. We stand on the brink of war, with the looming possibility of our city facing a siege. In those dire moments, it falls upon you, the defenders on these walls, to safeguard our people. Not every citizen you encounter will be like Benedikt, and that's a reality you must reckon with," Elias addressed the assembled recruits.

"With that in mind, I'll have you continue your training for the rest of the evening. Meanwhile, I'll engage in a more in-depth discussion with our new recruit, Benedikt," Elias declared, concluding his address as the recruits dispersed to resume their training regimen.

With Elias's instructions echoing through the training ground, a flurry of activity ensued. The recruits wasted no time, their hands swiftly reaching for the array of wooden weapons that lined the training area. Each recruit selected their preferred instrument of practice, be it a wooden sword, staff, or polearm, and began the rhythmic dance of training swings against strategically placed wooden dummies.

As the recruits immersed themselves in honing their combat skills, Elias, with measured steps, approached Benedikt. The seasoned warrior stood in contemplation, leaning casually against the sturdy wooden palisade that bordered the training ground. His gaze was focused on the recruits, observing their movements and techniques with an experienced eye.

The crisp sound of wood meeting wood resonated through the air as the recruits delivered controlled strikes and practiced defensive maneuvers. Elias, nearing Benedikt, acknowledged the determined efforts of the recruits. The atmosphere was now charged with the energy of disciplined warriors striving to improve.

Benedikt, though engaged in his observation, was aware of Elias's approach. He turned his attention to the commander.

“Commander, ya wanted to have a word?" Benedikt inquired calmly.

"Yes, Benedikt. You were a mercenary once, correct?" Elias questioned.

"Aye, I wore many hats in my younger years, and for a brief period, I took on the mantle of a mercenary. Why the interest, Commander? Is the pay as the Garrison Chef not enough?"

"Nay, the pay is more than fair. I earn a decent penny," Elias chuckled before adopting a more serious tone. "I need your help, Benedikt. With the war looming at our doorstep, I must transform these lads, so they don't crumble at the first sight of blood."

“I can help but not promise much.“ Benedikt said camly

"I'll increase your pay, Benedikt, and grant you the role of instructor. The pay is a hundred times better than that of a guardsmen, but I need your assistance," Elias proposed, attempting to persuade Benedikt. After a brief moment of contemplation, Benedikt agreed, especially when Elias mentioned that he could receive his first payment immediately. With this agreement, Benedikt secured the funds he needed for the floorboards and an additional handsome sum.

"Aye, alright. Does that mean I have complete control over them?" Benedikt inquired, flashing a smug smile at Elias.

"Don't kill them, and you can pretty much do as you please," Elias responded, a hint of concern evident in his eyes.

Benedikt chuckled and then questioned, "What's our garrison's name?"

"It's the 7th Garrison," Elias replied. With that information, Benedikt stepped forward and bellowed so loudly that his voice carried beyond the training ground, "7TH GARRISON, STEP UP!"

Confused, the recruits listened to him, unaware that Benedikt would be their instructor. After a few seconds, all recruits, except Laurin, who was currently in the infirmary receiving treatment for his injuries, stood before him.

"ALL MEN, DROP DOWN, GIVE ME 20 PUSH-UPS!" Benedikt commanded, his dominating voice almost making the recruits tremble. Without missing a beat, the recruits followed his orders, going down and executing 20 push-ups. Observing the effort, Benedikt noted the soldiers who struggled, mentally categorizing them based on their appearance.

After all soldiers completed the push-ups and stood again, Benedikt singled out the six soldiers among the 17 who had struggled with the exercise.

"You struggled just now, am I right, recruits?"

All of them remained silent until the smallest of them muttered a nearly inaudible "Yes, sir."

Benedikt asked again, raising his voice, "You struggled just now, am I right, recruits?" He got significantly louder towards the end.

Once more, only the smallest of them spoke up, this time with a clear and loud response, "Y-Yes, sir!"

"Ah, finally, at least some of you got balls. Small one, name now," Benedikt said, scrutinizing the smallest recruit.

"F-Frédéric, age 16," Frédéric answered anxiously.

"I will structure you guys anew, only for training. Frédéric, you are the group leader of the worst. Feel grateful," Benedikt declared with a laugh.

"Y-Yes, thank you, sir," Frédéric stammered.

After that, Benedikt organized the other soldiers based on the abilities he observed during their training with the dummies and the recent push-ups. He had three groups: 5 who were mediocre, 3 who were good, and 2 who were excellent, David and Daniel. Since he couldn't evaluate Laurin at the moment.

"Now then," Benedikt turned to the mediocre, good, and excellent groups. "You guys just train as usual for the moment. I will, for now, focus on the ones who would die in the first 5 minutes of a battle." He concluded his speech with a loud shout, "GO ON NOW, MY CANNON FODDER."

He turned back to the 6 recruits looking miserable. "Do you know why you would die in the first 5 minutes of a battle?" he asked the group, but the recruits remained silent.

"So you don't want to talk, or are you too afraid?" He turned to Frédéric. "How will you take responsibility for the incompetence of your group?"

Without receiving a command or anything, he turned to his group and said quietly, "E-E-Everybody down, do 5 push-ups."

However, his group didn't listen, visibly angering Benedikt, who let out a shout.

"DIDN'T YOU HEAR YOUR GROUP LEADER? GO DOWN AND GIVE US 5 PUSH-UPS."

To Benedikt's surprise, Frédéric joined his group in doing the 5 push-ups.

Benedikt's heart warmed at the sight. "DO YOU SEE WHAT YOUR GROUP LEADER DOES? HE JOINS YOU IN YOUR PUNISHMENT, EVEN THOUGH HE WOULDN'T HAVE TO. AFTER YOU LEFT HIM EMBARRASSED, HE STILL JOINED YOU."

In that moment, Benedikt sensed that this seemingly feeble recruit possessed a natural talent for leadership. He had the right spirit not only to command but also to save his troops if the situation demanded it.

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