May 30, 3969 BC, Just outside Berlin
It had been a long six weeks. You'd think the worst part of being a Warrior would be the fighting, but no. It was definitely the traveling.
Still, the overall mood of the group had improved over the last few days. Joseph and I were looking forward to seeing our wives again. George and Steve Jobs were eager to report their success to Lord Bismarck.
When we got into the city our first order of business was to report to the Palace, as much as Joseph and I wanted to see our wives and the others wanted to eat. As we marched we got waves from several of the civilians. We were well-liked and respected in the city. Should a prostitute have been attacked here, recognized citizen or not, we would have had far more power in bringing the assailant to justice.
I hoped we wouldn't have many more "diplomatic escort" missions. On the battlefield, there is far less mindless bureaucracy. Things are simple. Kill or be killed.
Still, if there was one good thing that came out of the incident, apart from Lucas' agreeable mood on the trip home, is that it reminded me to ask Lord Bismarck about a method of identification after the meeting, which ended up being rather boring and mundane. When confronted he agreed with me.
"If this nation is to conduct with foreign powers," he said, "We must ensure our military is easily recognized, as to avoid diplomatic incident as well as events such as the one you described to me. I will see about getting you all some sort of uniform, or at the very least an insignia of sorts."
"Thank you sir," I said. With a salute I turned to leave.
"Just a moment, Erkenbald."
I spun around to face Bismarck.
He stepped from behind his desk and walked up to me, placing an arm around my shoulder.
"Son, I've known you for, oh, thirty-some years. "
He took a step back.
"But when I look at you, when I look in the mirror, why, you and I look no different than we did that day we miraculously appeared in that field."
I said nothing; I simply stared at Bismarck.
"Yet when I go out into Berlin, I stare at faces just as old as mine or yours, yet they are different. They are… older. Aged. Only members of the military and myself seem immune to this aging process."
I paused, considering my response, then spoke, slowly.
"What do you want me to say, sir?"
Bismarck turned and began pacing behind his desk.
"I'm not sure, son." He turned to look at me, his face hard. "I know you're married. Not just you, but Joseph. And I hear Lucas met a woman in Venice?"
"My point is, regardless of what the future holds, you cannot let your personal relationships get in the way of your first priority: your duty to Germany."
I was puzzled. "Of course sir, why would that be a problem?"
He sat down. "Just some friendly advice son. Dismissed."
I saluted and left.
Back at the Barracks everyone was almost finished stowing their gear, except Joseph, who had gone to see his wife. I started putting away my things as well, eager to see my own wife.
Lucas came up and clasped me on the back. "You know," he said, "I love traveling, but there's just something about ol' Berlin I love."
"Well I'm glad you're happy," Otto shouted from across the room, "Because unless another Great Merchant decides he wants to see a new city-state you'll probably be spending the rest of your life here."
"Nah," Ralph chimed in, "I'm sure we'll get a cushy post somewhere, like the Mountain Road, or a nice field. Or maybe a hill."
"If I'd known how little action we'd be seeing I'd have stayed in Venice," Peter added, "Meet a nice girl, like Lucas."
Everyone laughed. Even Lucas chuckled.
"Oh what," Alfred chortled, "German girls not doin' it for ya?"
"I was thinking of going back to London at some point," Carl mused, "Settling down with a nice English girl."
"Yeah," David snorted, "You could woo her with your maps."
Another roar of laughter, excluding Carl.
"What are you gonna do, David," he retorted, "Show a girl your battle scars?"
"Hey, I've been in just as many battles as you've been!"
It was at this point in the conversation I snuck out, seeing as I actually had a woman.
Hannah's hut belonged to her and her brother, Herman, who was out in the fields most of the day. She stayed home and kept the home in order, which was nice, since, outside of training, I had nothing to do whenever I was garrisoned in Berlin, so we got to spend a lot of time together.
I walked up and rapped my knuckles against the door. I could hear faint footsteps and the door swung open. Before I knew it she had wrapped her arms around me tightly, making me smile like an idiot.
I came in and she shut the door behind us, before turning and smiling back at me.
We moved to sit at the crude wooden chairs at their table.
"Can I get you anything?" She asked me, "Herman just brought some food home from the farm yesterday."
"No thanks," I insisted, "I'm not hungry."
"So," she said excitedly, "How was Venice?"
I described to her the city in detail, the palace on the oceanfront, the workers outside the city we saw on our way in and out, and Lucas and mine's little adventure.
"I'm proud of you," she said, beaming, "You did the right thing."
"Well, Lucas certainly seemed to think so."
She punched my arm, a habit she hadn't lost in our thirty-odd year relationship.
"How come," she asked, "You've never taken me to the ocean, like you said you would all those years ago?"
"Oh honey," I replied, "You know I would love to. But I'm limited by my deployments you know that. We can't just up and leave for a vacation; it would never be allowed."
"I know, I know," she said, sadly. She cupped my face in her left hand. "Just promise me you'll keep trying."
"Of course dear." I kissed her.
She pushed back on my lips, kissing me harder. We stood and Actually you know what let's move on a bit why don't we?
July 15, 3969 BC, German Capital of Berlin, Monument
"I'm telling you, it COULD work."
"Alfred, you're being ridiculous."
"I am not!"
Alfred and I were standing guard at the Monument – our assignment for the day. Recently there had been several fights in the square where it stood, so we were in charge of keeping the peace. Right now the only disagreement going on was between me and him.
"Fly? Like a bird?"
"Look," he said, facing me. "It's not that complicated. Birds use wings to fly. We could build wings and use them as tools, like we do a pickaxe or a shovel."
"But wings?" I said with disbelief. "They wouldn't work. We're too heavy."
"I didn't say it would happen anytime soon. Probably not within our lifetime. But look at the amazing technological advances we've seen in just the past thirty-"
"Meeting at the Palace for all military!"
We both turned to see Peter shouting at us from down the street.
"Meeting at the Palace for all military!" He shouted again, his hands cupped around his mouth. Without waiting to see if we had heard he ran off out of view.
"This isn't over," I said to Alfred, and with that we began running towards the Palace.
In the Palace Atrium stood Germany's three combat units – the 1st Warrior Division, the 1st Archer Division, and the 1st Spearmen Division. In the front of the room stood Lord Bismarck, and behind him stood a large group of civilians, all with huge packs and various rucksacks on their backs.
"Listen up!" he shouted, and a quiet fell over the room. "Our Scouts report a fruitful area of land to the east. It has new resources, plentiful fields for food, and a favorable defensive location.
Unfortunately, they have also reported the English seem to have scouted this territory themselves. I believe they are trying to claim it for England. I would rather the lands belong to Germany!"
Cheers rang out.
"These brave individuals behind me mean to colonize a new city, to be known as Hamburg. Escorting them across the harsh wilderness is task I believe to be best suited for the 1st Warrior Division."
More cheers, though I noticed the Spearmen weren't nearly as loud as they'd been before.
"The 1st Spearmen will be in charge of guarding our current territory, and the 1st Archers will continue to remain garrisoned in our fine capital of Berlin. All these new assignments are to be carried out effective immediately. Unit leaders to my office for further instructions, everyone else back to the Barracks."
We all shuffled of the room except for George, Derrick, and Hans. The Barracks had been expanded alongside our military, so there was plenty of room for everyone there.
After about an hour of waiting George entered our wing. We all jumped up, but he waved us down.
"We leave tomorrow morning."
"What?" I blurted out. Protests began arising from the others as well, but George shouted us down.
"You heard Lord Bismarck! The longer we wait the more we risk letting the English snag that city spot. It has to be as soon as possible."
"Did you see the faces of those Spearmen kiddies?" Peter said. "They were just itching for a chance at glory."
"Yeah," Otto laughed, "I think I saw Junker's face flush bright red when Bismarck picked our unit and not his."
"Jealous is an understatement," Ralph added, "They want action even more than we do."
"Be ready to leave by sunrise," George asserted, "Anyone that isn't gets to hold the hands of our most scared Settlers."
A handful of half-hearted "Yessirs" filled the air as we began packing.
July 16, 3969 BC, German Capital of Berlin
We left the next morning. The Settlers and Warriors intermingled, traveling in a large pack, or as George disgruntledly referred to it as, a herd.
"We're sitting ducks," he grumbled to Martin and I, "One squad of Brutes would cut into our formation like a-"
"George," Martin interrupted, "We destroyed the only encampment around here, and the Scouts reported back just a few weeks ago and saw no signs of-"
"Never mind what was going on a few weeks ago," George retorted, "Our job is to ensure that-"
They likely would have continued had it not been for a cry that came up from Carl, who was leading the cavalcade.
"George, Martin, Erik, come look at this."
We jogged up to where he stood. Out beyond laid a vast valley, with the only break in scenery, apart from the mountains in the distance, was a singular hill that laid in the center. It was surrounded by forest to the south, whereas the north was defined by plains.
Carl gestured to the map he held in his hands, then toward the lone hill. "That's it. Our destination. The future site for the city of Hamburg."