Bergus jumped back up to his feet as quickly as he had gone down. In each hand he brandished a small thrusting dagger. “Take one,” he beamed. “Take one for Dugaro.”
Rugerius stared hard at the shiny seax in Bergus’ left hand. The grip was bone white and the polished steel blade no more than eight-inches long…
Bergus twirled the blade in his left hand around and offered the hilt to Rugerius. “Come on. Take it. What are you waiting for?“
Betrayal – Chapter 7
Bergus is an orphan from Brindisi who made his way north into the service of Landgrave Cole Hensting in Bavaria. One of many pages and squires in the castle, Bergus took a special interest in the new kid, Rugerius Fabbro. The boy was a year younger than him but the most violent, unmanageable cur the keep had ever seen. Rugerius resisted authority at every turn although he had a penitent for learning martial arts, quickly managing weapons and besting squires. If after all the beatings, Rugerius survived, he was destined to be a force of nature.
Bergus didn’t have any friends in Germany, not real friends he could talk with. He was Italian. Rugerius was Italian as well. Rugerius refused to learn or speak the German tongue, obstinate to the core. Bergus began to imagine he might be able to form a connection of some kind with the violent kid, although Rugerius didn’t want friends. He seemed quite mad.
Bergus had developed a fondness for alcohol. One evening, while hiding in the wine cellars, secretly drinking wine from his lord’s stash, a hairy disgusting brewery thrall named Dugaro dragged Rugerius down the steps into the dark and forced himself on the boy, shaming him, abusing him. Despite his violent nature, Rugerius was still a boy and offered no resistance. It looked as if this was not the first time.
Bergus saw opportunity.
Nights later, after working on his plan, Bergus dared to do what other boys did not. He spoke to Rugerius.
“I know where Dugaro will be tonight. He will be drunk and alone, vulnerable.”
Betrayal – Chapter 7
Skeptical, Rugerius agreed to follow him. Bergus took him to the horse barns where he had hid two stolen short blades. The pages, under the cover of darkness, snuck out of the castle. They went to a farmhouse in the country where Dugaro spent time with the whore who lived there.
Bergus had made it a habit to come and watch this woman be with men, watching her through her windows. He knew what would happen with Dugaro. His prediction was correct. Dugaro got violent with her and was kicked out. Drunk, the large man staggered out into a sheep field and collapsed.
With knives in hand, the boys descended upon him and slashed him to pieces. They then turned their lust and fury on the woman in the house, killing her as well. As hoped, Dugaro and the woman were unimportant people and the law took little interest in their deaths. The boys, being boys in service to Lord Hensting, were never suspects.
… everything had gone as planned. Sacrificing the pederast with their own hands made them feel like soldiers. Engaging in fornication with a resistive older woman made them feel like men. Sharing these secrets made them feel like brothers. Mission accomplished.
Betrayal – Chapter 8
As the years passed, Rugerius and Bergus hardly ever separated. They were best friends. Rugerius trusted no man more and Bergus was grateful for his confidence. They did everything together, drinking and fighting, whoring and warring. They went on crusade. Bergus was once commanded away from Rugerius’ side and nearly died, being one of four men who survived the Battle of Cresson. When their time in the Outremer was over, Rugerius went home to Parthenope to serve his father as Castellan. Bergus came as well, appointed by the Court to be his second. Obedient. Dutiful. Likeminded. Bergus even created his own house and sigil, donning gold armor with a black ship emblem.
When Rugerius did not show to greet his new bride, Anthea Manikos, at the docks, Bergus stood in his place, walking her through the city, regaling her with stories, almost wishing he’d be the one deflowering the innocent Greek girl. In fact, after Rugerius ruined the arranged marriage, their was talk that the Court might be willing to wed Anthea to Bergus. But Pero de Alava stepped in and took her to Capua with him.
That’s why it was a surprise to Bergus when Rugerius commanded Anthea be spared during the siege of Capua. The morning after the slaughter, Rugerius left Capua for Capri in a carriage with Anthea. Bergus didn’t know what to make of it and frankly didn’t care. He stayed behind and completed the work, sealing the keep, boarding it up, hanging placards of warning and leaving the dead to rot beneath the hot summer sun.
Bergus couldn’t believe his ears when he later learned that Rugerius had employed the services of the giant magician Sinibaldus in a wizardly scheme. He knew how much Rugerius loathed anyone who practiced magic arts or dabbled in the supernatural. Rugerius’ mother, Lady Bee, was the maddest woman in Parthenope.
As commanded, Bergus quickly rounded up the men of Mors Cohortem for a new mission. They were to journey on Eagles Pass to find and kill Pero de Alava, the Spaniard who was supposed to be dead already.
On their ride, however, before the first night was over and before reaching Eagles Pass, the mercenaries happened upon a small nameless village about to throw a grand festival. Mors Cohortem, drawn to wine, food and women, invited themselves, ruining the party for the poor people of that town.
Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series The Crystal Crux