[Mock-Fiction] V - Fures Misericordiam

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Aye. Tis me again.

Cover by Secrets Unfold


19. 17 – The Terms of Becoming a Mercenary

Mariqah turned around, and smiled at the teenage boy standing at the top of the stairs. He had light brown hair and his fair skin had a glow to it – much opposed to his father’s rather pale and ominous look – though they shared the same eye colour. He was quite thin, tall, and was dressed in a white shirt and dark trousers.


“This your boy, Dante?” she asked, turning to Dante.

“Yes,” said Dante, frowning, “Come, Leonardo. Meet an old friend.”

“She doesn’t too old, father,” said Leonardo, climbing down the stairs.

“Aye, a fair exposure to strangeness does you favours and curses alike, lad,” she said, “Got his looks from his mother, I suppose? She must be a very pretty woman.”

The mercenaries laughed.

“What interest have you in my mother?”

“Though I can see his tongue is his father’s,” she gave Dante a look, “and his dress-sense.”

“Leonardo,” Dante sighed, “This is the Midnight Rogue.”
He looked aghast, “The mercenary?”

“Now,” said Mariqah, “that’s something I didn’t expect from your children.”

“Sign me up!”


Mariqah stared at the boy, and then furrowed her brows at Dante, “What have you been teaching him?”

“Why? Wouldn’t my son be fit for the barracks?” said Dante.

“Yes,” said Khadir, “As an accountant.”

The mercenaries laughed.

“Oh, stuff it, the lot of you!” said Mariqah, “As if you lot looked any better when your fathers handed you in: screaming and crying to go home to your mammies that never loved you!” the laughing stopped, “Meanness is unbecoming of you lads! We always welcome new recruits, from all backgrounds, all sizes, all shapes. None of you teases, a’right? That’s my job,” she smirked, and turned to Leonardo, “Right, Leo. You have the first idea what it’s like? To kill a man?” she looked at him seriously, “To see a man die? To see the light in his eyes fade as his soul leaves him?” she stepped around him, taking in his height, his estimated weight, all his dimensions, “What do you know, lad? Why do you want to be what I am? A petty killer?”


“A… petty killer?” said Leonardo.

“Aye,” said Mariqah, folding her arms, “Wars for coin. That’s all this is about.”

“B-but your legacy! Your standing! The world is calling for your blood!”

“I don’t see your point, lad.”

“You will be remembered for eternity to come!”
“Aye – as a criminal, a thug,” she yawned, “A rogue, that fought against men of her own country. Why would a nice lad like you want to be like that? Even memories fade into the ashes of history. Become regarded as myth and legend. Ask these lads,” she gestured to her mercenaries, “what kinda stories they’ve made of me. These boys… they were the scum of the earth. Rejects of every kind. Bastards. Accidents. Run-aways. Chuck-outs of orphanages, run by nuns. Skinny runts from all the jungles and gutters you can think of. And some you can’t even imagine. I took them, I fed them, I raised them – through tears, yells, blood and sweat – and gave them the family they never had,” she paused and looked at Leonardo, “but you have that already. You have a family. A father and mother who loves you, and cares well for you,” she took another swig of her Irn-Bru, “Why would you want to be one of them?”


Leonardo stared at her for a while, “I… I want to be like them. Men who fight for an idea.”

“Idea?” Mariqah paused, “What idea?”

He looked confused, “Freedom… and peace. The Creed.”

She shook her head, “Lad, these boys live and die for the money they get from the wars they fight,” she drew her face near his and muttered bitterly, “It’s soldiers that do the fighting and soldiers that do the dying – philosophers rarely ever get their feet wet. Perhaps if they knew: to walk through the blood and entrails of friend and foe alike, they might have known what ideas have done to us all,” she straightened a little, “But I suppose if your father lets you come, then I could take you.”


Though Leonardo looked paled, he looked back at his father. Dante was scowling, “Is that really the way you encourage a seventeen-year-old boy to be a good person?”

“Dante, I have a thousand and more men in my keeping, some raised by me from ages eight and nine – coming from backgrounds of crime and suffering – that said, and noting that not one of them steps too well out of line ‘less I say so, why don’t you answer that question for me.”

Dante sighed, being well-acquainted with Mariqah’s style, and said, “His mother won’t be too happy about it.”

“Since when is any mother happy about her child joining a military-based organisation? You’d practically be signing a contract legitimising his early death on the battlefield or a late one as a cripple.”


Dante stared at her angrily, “Why are you saying that?”

“Because I’m not going to sugar-coat my work, or make it seem awesome or cool like they used to in commercials!” Mariqah snapped, “I say it as it is, Dante! If the boy wants to come, he’d better know what he’s in for. He won’t be eating with knife and fork, on a lovely set table, with food being served to him! He won’t be sleeping on a four-poster bed, with footy posters hung up on his personal bedroom walls! He won’t be horse-riding and sipping tea, like some preening fraud of a rich boy!” her face became set, “He will become a hardened soldier. And if that means eating the entrails of dead pig raw and sleeping on soiled straw near flea-bitten donkeys – then so be it. Now is the time to re-consider – both of you. Because as soon as you’re in – I rarely chuck you back out.”


Both father and son paused, then looked at each other.

“Well, you’ve heard it,” said Dante to his son, “It’s up to you.”

Leonardo looked at Mariqah and her soldiers (ignoring, for a moment, the slightly odd-looking blonde man in the waist-coat as he glared at Mariqah with confusion). He thought on all the movies he’d watched over the years (and some recently with his father). The legacy of the Spartans and the Romans. Their ideals of a ‘beautiful death’: To die for something, and not just waste away over time through boredom and idling. Even if mercenaries, in general, didn’t fight for a specific cause… that didn’t mean that Leonardo couldn’t, did it? But was he willing to sacrifice what he had – a comfy home, a warm bed, good food – for what was to come, which was no doubt going to be something he’d never quite countered (fighting aside, his father had taught him… enough)?


“I’ll join,” he said, even if a little hoarsely.


“Alright, lad,” said Mariqah, slapping his back, “training is minimum five years – you can stay or leave after that. No leaving. No such thing as homesickness. And no serious fighting until then.”

“Five years? But I’ll be eighteen next year!”

“Aye,” said Mariqah, “and you’ll be blessed if you ain’t weedier by then. Khadir will instruct you until I get back. I hope you know what you’re doing, Dante,” she paused, “because you might not see him for a while. I allow the lads to write, though.”

“Emails? Texts?” said Leonardo.

Mariqah snorted, “Letters, Leo. And don’t mind the lads – they can be mean sometimes,” she looked up at her mercenaries, “but they’ll become family to you soon, that you can count on,” she looked at Edward, “Come, let’s get our stuff from the hotel, return those torture items I had to wear all night and head one or two streets up the high road. There’s a flat I’ve had rented out.”

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