By early afternoon Hugo and company have finished digging a grave the width of two coffins. Carefully they hauled Dotan's almost pristine body--with only a piercing hole through his chest--down to the pit, covered in a grainy sack. Then came Krul, and Dolor and Bautu who were carrying their leader's desecrated body in a burlap had their nose wrinkled the entire time. Rueful laughter was shared as the company pushed heaps of dirt back into the hole. It seemed to Frey that, no matter how vile the person, people will still count the good in him, at the end of the day, when he's laid down in his grave. Ceremonies were made, with the highest commanding officer present, Captain Hugo, cutting a slit on his thumb and letting blood drip down the damp soil above the deceased.

"Let my blood be a prayer to thee, old and everlasting Seer o' War. May these warriors who fell today, rise to your halls of blood and metal, forever aroused with the thrill of battle, and those who dare lay sacrilege upon thy warriors' grave die not in battle but waste away in crippling disease of your making."

After Hugo's litany, the company impaled the former grunt's and lieutenant's swords into the grave as placeholder for headstones. Gren took him away then, patrol as a pretense, into the treeline on the other side of the road. Frey trailed closely behind as they went deeper and deeper into the woods and the camp was slowly fading into a scene of trunks and branches. None of them said anything. And then when they were far enough that no one will hear any one of them scream, Gren took Frey by the collar of his steel vest and pushed him, hard, onto a tree. A grunt escaped from Frey's lips, and then nothing more, even when Gren unsheathed his sword and poked the side of his neck with its tip.

"What are you?" asked Gren. It was a threatening whisper of sorts, and he was trying hard, but Frey heard the tremor in his voice, and the clattering of his sword as it shook in his hands.

"A Player. Or a Chosen." Frey answered. "Whichever."

"Now I see why the King wants you bastards dead. You are all monsters." Gren's voice still trembled, but with more hatred than fear.

"Are we all? I don't know. They're not like me. I'm not like them." said Frey. The sword pointed at his neck didn't scare him--even though it should've--for some reason.

"I was a moron for thinking Hugo's trust in you was well placed. You're a scum. You low, god-hated scum. I saw what you did to Krul. I saw you laughing as you tore off his legs with your own two hands. I don't know how you did that but you did, and you were laughing. You were laughing. You were enjoying it, weren't you? And before he could scream you pulled out his tongue, you sick bastard." Frey felt the sword puncture a dot through his skin, and a hot drop of blood roll down to his collarbone, then to his chest, before his shirt absorbed it.

"So you're saying I did that to the Lieutenant, huh? Then how would you explain his rotting flesh?" Frey tested him.

"The demon up your sleeve. That's how."

He had heard all he needed to. Frey started to giggle, then the giggle turned to cackle, and he'd made it so vile and disturbing, that Gren's hands shook more than ever at the sound.

"I'm a monster, yeah? I guess I am." Frey said. He looked straight at Gren's brown eyes and he saw fear and hesitation, and the reflection of his smiling face. "And believe me, your sword isn't as lethal as you think it is. It can kill me, yes, but not really. I may die but, you see, what's up my sleeve is an artifact. A nasty one. You can carve my neck right up, decapitate me, and I can still kill you, then I walk out of here, just without a head, but alive."

Gren backed off. "Showing your true colors, aren't you? Maybe I'm not enough to kill you, but there's no fooling the camp now. If I die here, know that Hugo and the others will avenge me."

"Ah, yes, the cavalry." snorted Frey. "Do you know Captain Zalvik? I think he was of the 48th infantry battalion--something, didn't really bother to remember. He and his squad was chasing a Player a few ways back from where your cargo was raided, where he met me. He's still there, you know? And some dozen men of his squad--though they won't be telling you what happened. You see, the dead can't talk." he was feeling cold, even though it was a hot afternoon, and numb, emotionally and mentally. Yet the words came out naturally from his mouth, and they were his, not the devil's. It felt a little like auto-pilot, with his heart taking a step back to let his reason do the work. Do this because it's for the best, not because you like doing it, that kind of auto-pilot.

He continued, throwing in more effort into scaring the man in front of him. "Now, not saying I will kill you--no, I'd hate that, you're the good man Zalvik wasn't, but you ought to think of who you will be telling this to, I mean, I handled an infantry squad on my own, and I wouldn't want to do the same to Hugo and the others, too. They've done me no wrong, and I'm still grateful to them for the ride down capital, after all."

Gren lowered his blade, reluctantly and with a face as if he was chewing pickled gourd. "Wise choice, Gren. I'm counting on you again."

Gren gritted his teeth. "You're a pitiful creature. You don't deserve their trust. Are you even a man, under that skin?"

Frey straightened, fixed his clothes and dusted his coat and pressed the puncture on his neck. It had stopped bleeding. Not just that, the minute wound was already gone. "I don't know. I was put in this, and I didn't have much of a say about it, but I sure hope I still am. "


The two returned unnoticed, as everyone was busy packing up camp and riling up the horses. Gren spoke to Hugo for a bit, and while Frey didn't overhear, he knew Gren didn't tell Hugo about him. Gren was still a good man, at the end of the day: a man who wouldn't risk the life of his comrades for his own sense of justice.

Then the convoy rode forward, once again. Frey asked to be put into the empty wagon where the slaves once slept in, and both Dolor and Bautu agreed. Now he had a room all to himself--it might've stunk of piss and bile and human odor, but he was alone with his mind, for the rest of the journey. He needed that the most. He thought of Elise and how they first met. It was when...

"When... was it?"

He had forgotten, and he didn't know just for how long he had already forgotten. The wagon he was on did not have any seat, and he sat in a corner, hugging his knees, and he cried for the first time since he could remember, and it was no more than a sob quickly drowned by the rocking of the wagon and the gallop of the horses.

A note from Polaris Archon

If you like what you've read, please consider leaving a 5-star rating or, if you're feeling up to it, how about a full-blown review? It helps the book in the long run and a little motivation goes a long way! As always, thanks for reading Player 47! 

P.S. Released the edit for Chapters 1 and 3 quite recently. The sequence is weird, I know, but my priority list is from the most cringey ones to the least. 

About the author

Polaris Archon

  • Artrud Province. North of Larcon, Asteria.
  • Archive Code

Bio: Writing is rarely a work. More often than not it's a study.

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