Part of a series about the Royal Armies.
For most of its recent history Arginet was at peace, broken only by a few minor overseas campaigns and the occasional case of bandits, and as a result its standing armies were rather distant from the political spotlight. The Breaking has changed all that. Now that skirmishes with interplanar beasts are a common occurrence, generals are as likely as dukes to hold the attention of the crown, and both military spending and recruitment are at all-time highs.
The Royal Armies are among the most meritocratic institutions in Arginet. Having the money or connections to start out with a commission always helps, but it is entirely possible to rise through the ranks right from the bottom, and this has become easier as soldiers now see a lot more combat than they used to.
The Armies have a reputation for being more concerned with the material than the spirit world, but they have some support from the priesthood, and (significantly) their ranks contain plenty of channellers and witches trained in combat alongside the more conventional line troops. They’ve also been very quick in learning how to deal with manifested spirits, and are fairly pragmatic about battle casualties returning to life.
More than most people, they face harder and more dangerous times thanks to the Breaking, but they also face many opportunities. They are more vital to the realm’s survival than they have ever been before, and have the resources and organisation to hold together against the greatest threats.
Five things about the Armies
- Fight for the Crown. The Armies are loyal to the Crown alone, and stand apart from the politics of the Noble Houses.
- In our hour of need. After many years playing a minor role the Armies have become vital to the survival of the nation.
- Led by the best. The Armies are highly meritocratic. Promotions and commissions are awarded to the most capable regardless of their background.
- Pragmatic and practical. They are willing to use any tool to complete their objectives, and take pride in being free from the hidebound rules of the nobility.
- Into the jaws of death. Soldiers and officers must defend the nation from unnameable dangers, and are expected to do so with courage and valour.
What the Armies will never do
Everyone in the armies is expected to obey standing orders. Although most officers give their subordinates a degree of free rein, disobeying the rules of engagement set by the high command will be viewed extremely dimly; looters in particular can expect dishonourable discharge or execution.
“Come on lad, we know it’s hard, but we’ve got to make sure they’ve got the gifts for the spirits, don’t we?” The voice was kind, the Sarge must have sent on so many, and now... and now...
The young soldier nodded numbly and fell to his knees by his friend (Mel, always cheerful, always quick witted, not quick enough) and drew a breath. Naming. Naming came first. “Private Melissa Carter is the name you chose, and we introduce you by that name so that the Guides will let you pass into the Spirit World.”
His hands reached for purchase. Grass? Grass. Yes. Offerings, next was offerings. He’d have to do soldier’s offerings, there was nothing else in this damn patch of nothing in the middle of nowhere. “We send you with the elements you return to. For Wood, a stick.” Barely a twig, but it was enough, resting on her chest.
“For Fire,” his throat caught, but he forced himself to continue, “my warmth.” He touched her forehead, feeling his heat seep into cold flesh before retreating.
“For Earth, grass, to... to remind you of home.” The traditional soldier’s offering was mud, but no, not that, she was better than that, not when the mud had killed her.
“For Metal, your knife.” Always by her side, it joined the grass and twig. His vision blurred. They’d seen too many knives tucked at the side of the road. You never took a knife that had been left, never.
“For W...” Damnit he was crying, teardrops falling onto his hands. He reached out and let them fall onto the dagger. “... water. Our tears. I’m so sorry.”
He felt Sarge’s hand on his shoulder. Silent strength. After a few moments they squeezed. “Story. Then Farewell.”
“Yes Sarge.” He swallowed, “Mel, you were always better than me. Remember back in Lowen? It was always you training, dragging me out at stupid o’ clock in the morning to spar, always so cheerful, always dreaming. You... you were fucking amazing. I remember up the weir where you first told me you were going to join the Army and all I wanted to do was follow you. Dammit Mel, what am I going to do now without you to follow?” He swallowed back a hysterical laugh. “You’ve gone and made me choose my own path haven’t you? Bastard, always pushing me to be better.” His breath hitched and he tried to wipe away the tears. “Goodbye Mel. We’ll meet again someday when we follow you to the Spirit World, but for now... for now you get to scout ahead.”
He bowed, feeling Sarge bow behind him and knowing the others were too. “Goodbye Mel, we’ll miss you. Go with the spirits.”
There. It was done. He collapsed into a heap as the others came in with oil and tinder, the Sarge moving him away as the flames cleansed what was left behind.