Empire: Total War – A New Beginning
In the year 1775, six teenagers are sent away by their parents to a fortified colony in the Appalachian Mountains. The American Revolution has just started at Lexington and Concord and the teens' parents want to keep them out of harm's way. But when all of their parents are killed by the British, one of the group members, named Christian, joins up with the Continental Army, and the action begins to unfold.
(Side note: the characters are based off of myself, five of my friends and my current love interest.)
Chapter 1: A New Life
The date was April 22, 1775, three days after the battles of Lexington and Concord. Six teenagers, all from the same town, were to be sent away by their parents to a new colony in the Appalachians. The group was composed of three young men and three young ladies. The first and oldest of the group was a young man named John Wilkinson. He was the son of a farmer and seemed insistent on following in his father's footsteps, as farmers were held in high honor at the time. He was also the tallest of the group, perhaps six feet tall. He had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a somewhat roundish face. The second oldest was his girlfriend, Margret Milner, the daughter of the town milkman. She was shorter than John Wilkinson, had blonde hair, blue eyes and was very religious. The youngest young man was named Andrew Hartmann, a blacksmith's apprentice. He was also the shortest of the group, with black hair, gray eyes and a dark complexion to his face. He also had a girlfriend, named Anna Schlager. She was a thin girl with light brown hair and eyes and a bit of a lighter complexion than that of her boyfriend. She was the daughter of a printer and didn't seem to have a set direction in life. The two in the middle weren't together however. The young man's name was Christian von München. He was knowledgeable in the art of war, as his father served in the Prussian Army as a young man, which would also explain his surname, von München. He had brown hair and eyes, a lighter complexion and, like Margret, he was quite religious. The young woman was Christian's recent love interest. Her name was Emma Chamberlain. She was shorter than Christian with blonde hair, brown eyes and a light complexion. She also had a very charming smile, at least that's what Christian thought. Emma was relatively new to the town, arriving only two years earlier, but Christian didn't really talk to her much at first. They officially met at the Harvest Dance that the town had every All Saints' Day. She was the first girl he had ever danced with. At the time, he was 15 and she was 14.
On April 22, they were all sent away to the colony. It wasn't really a colony so much as a sanctuary. It was a large star fort hidden in the Appalachians. Each member of the group was reluctant to leave their parents, but they insisted that it would be good for them. Emma was especially scared. She wasn't as independent as the other two girls. Her parents had watched over her for her whole life and being forced to leave them was extremely difficult. The rest of the group was ready to leave but Emma wasn't there.
"Where is she?" Anna said
"She's probably still saying good-bye to her parents." Margret replied.
"Ugh. Why doesn't she just get over it already?" Andrew groaned. Anna scolded him for being so heartless.
"I'll go get her." Christian replied as she went to her house. He entered and saw Emma sitting by the fireplace for the last time. "Emma…It's time."
She looked up at the young man and nodded tearfully. She got up and collected her pack. As she was getting ready to leave, her parents entered the room. She ran up to them and gave them one last good-bye.
"Christian," Mr. Chamberlain said, "I'm counting on you to look after our daughter. Can you do that for us?"
"Yes, sir." Christian replied. He then led Emma out of the house. "Don't worry, Emma. I'm going to make sure you're safe. Trust me." he said. Emma smiled and allowed Christian to slip his hand into hers. They walked over to the group and they set off for the fortress. It took them a day to reach the sanctuary, but when they arrived, they were amazed. The fort was enormous. It was set up in the shape of a star, so that any army that tried to attack couldn't assault the walls without being fired upon by the flank.
"My God!" Christian exclaimed. "I knew star forts were supposed to be big, but…Jesus!"
The gates opened for them and the group that they were travelling with and they were directed to the middle of the fort where they would be notified where they would be staying. As they stood in line, Christian felt Emma's hand interlink with his. He looked over at her and saw that she was a bit scared. He gave her hand a comforting squeeze and smiled at her. They then heard the director of the camp call out their names.
"Christian von München, Emma Chamberlain, Andrew Hartmann, Anna Schlager, John Wilkinson, and Margret Milner, you will be staying in housing block A28. They all looked at each other in a bit of surprise. They would all be staying together under the same roof. They arrived at the housing block and dropped their bags in their rooms. They then took a little tour of their living quarters. It was a relatively nice place to stay. It was spacious, comfortable and quite luxurious for a refugee camp. They then heard a knock at the door. Anna opened it and saw a short young man standing at the threshold.
"Ah, so you're the newcomers? Welcome to the Appalachian Sanctuary. My name is Henry Garside. I have been instructed to give you a tour of the fort."
He led the group around the fort. Inside, the fort was bigger than it looked. It housed an agricultural center, numerous blacksmith shops, a barracks, a church, a library, an infirmary and several brothels, many of which Henry was a regular customer. He led them into one of the brothels, which was more pleasant than Christian and Emma had anticipated, with more of the atmosphere of an Irish pub than an American brothel. There, Henry spoke to the three young men about finding an occupation.
"So," Henry began, "I've heard about the career paths that you're interested in. So John, I hear that you and your father were accomplished farmers."
"Well, he was. I was his apprentice, so to speak."
"Well, you must have learned a lot from him."
"I did. Perhaps there would be a possibility for a job in the agricultural field."
"I was just about to ask you that. we have a position for you as a farm worker. Would that be alright?"
"That would be fine."
"Excellent. Now you," Henry said, turning to Andrew, "you were a blacksmith's apprentice, weren't you?"
"Yeah." Andrew replied.
"Well, we have an opening at the smithy. Perhaps you would be interested."
"How much does it pay?"
Henry let out a bit of a chuckle. "How does sixpence an hour sound?"
"Sixpence an hour? Sign me up!"
"Excellent. And now the young Prussian man." Henry said turning to Christian. "We already have a job for you. You are going to be working at the barracks as a military instructor. I understand that you've been educated in the art of war."
"That is true. My father taught me everything I know. He even served in the Prussian Army for a time."
"Excellent. You start tomorrow. Oh, and you'll be starting out as a sergeant."
"I hope that's acceptable."
"That's perfectly acceptable. Thank you."
"Well, that's all I needed. I'll let all of you go about your business." and with that, Henry Garside left the building.
That evening, as the group was settling in to their new home, a guard knocked on the door. Margret let him in and he called for John, Andrew and Christian. He was carrying a pouch of gunpowder, a musket and bayonet, a supply of musket ammunition and an early Continental Army uniform.
"Let's see here, John Wilkinson?'
"That's me." John said as he stepped forward.
"You'll be in the field tomorrow. You'll need…actually you'll be fine in what you're wearing. Uh, Andrew Hartmann?"
"You'll start work at the smithy tomorrow. You'll need sturdy clothing and an apron if possible."
"I've got those."
"Excellent. And finally, you must be Christian von München."
"That's right." Christian said as he stepped forward.
The guard handed him the uniform, weapon and ammo. "We've put your uniform together already, so you won't have to worry about that. You start work tonight. We're short one man for the nighttime guard on the walls so you'll be filling in. You'll be working a three hour shift starting at seven o'clock this evening."
"Yes, sir." Christian replied as he took the goods from the commander.
"Oh, I would also advise that you load your weapon before head up to the wall. The Brits have been sending a number of spies our way lately.'"
"It will be done, sir."
"Excellent. Welcome to the Continental Militia."
At, seven o'clock, Christian stepped out in his Continental uniform. It was a brown vest, white wool pants and a Continental tricorn hat. John and Andrew gave him a wolf whistle.
"The uniform suits you, sergeant." Andrew said sarcastically.
Anna lightly slapped Andrews arm. "Cut it out Andrew. He looks good in that."
"Thanks, Anna. I'd better get going. I'll be back at ten o'clock."
"Okay, Christian. We'll all be here when you get back."
As Christian left, John and Andrew went back to smirking. "Oh, shut up you guys." Emma said. "He looks really handsome in that." Suddenly, John and Andrew began to wolf whistle at her remark.
"Oh, sounds like someone has a bit of a soft spot for our resident sergeant." Emma then began to blush, and John and Andrew noticed this, which made them laugh even more. Anna and Margret stepped in and pushed the boys out of the room.
"Boys." Anna said while shaking her head.
"Yes, but they're our boys." Margret remarked and all three girls laughed. But then Anna and Margret began to go off on the tangent that the boys did.
"So, Emma," Anna began, "not to put you on the spot or anything, but, well, I'm just wondering that maybe you do have a soft spot for Christian?" Emma's head shot up when she heard this and began to blush again. "I…I…I don't know. Maybe." she replied.
"If you do, you don't have to be embarrassed about it. The boys were just teasing you. Christian's a good man. He's hard working, honest, a soldier and, you said it yourself, he's pretty handsome."
"And it is pretty obvious that he has feelings for you too." Margret added.
Emma sat for a little while, thinking about it. Maybe she did like him. She probably wouldn't have let the fact that she thought he was handsome slip out if she didn't. She also knew that Christian had feelings for her. Maybe she had the same feelings for him…she did have the same feelings for him. She looked up and nodded her head with a smile. Anna and Margret hugged her in response.
"However, can you two keep a secret? I want Christian to tell me first."
Anna and Margret nodded. "Can I ask you something?"
"What?" Anna replied. Emma felt most comfortable talking to Anna. Not that she wasn't comfortable talking around Margret, but Anna was like a sister to her.
"What is having a boyfriend like? I know that sounds like a silly question, but I just want to know."
Anna and Margret smiled and told her about their "experience."
Meanwhile, Christian had arrived at the wall. One of the officers greeted him.
"Ah, you're Sergeant von München?"
"Yes, sir." Christian replied.
"Glad you could make it. The job is pretty simple. The Brits have been sending spies our way and we need to stop them from reporting back to the army. Just keep an eye out for anyone who looks suspicious. If they start running, shoot them."
"It will be done, sir." Christian then began his shift. For the first few hours, it was relatively slow. He had a chance to meet a few of the soldiers, many of them older than him but of lower ranks. At about 9:30, the action started. Christian looked out beyond the wall and noticed a small figure. It couldn't have been an animal as it looked like it was standing on two legs. There was a corporal near where he was and he ordered him to surrender his field glasses. Christian examined the figure and noticed that it was a man. He quickly pointed his musket at the man. "Hold it right there!" he shouted and the figure took off, running. Remembering orders, he opened fire. The others on the wall heard this and ran over to where Christian was. They were ready to fire but it wasn't necessary. Christian's shot had met its mark and the man was incapacitated.
"Go arrest that man!" the commanding officer shouted. "Who fired that?"
"That was the Prussian, sir."
"Well, that was an excellent shot."
"Thank you, sir. My father was the one who taught me the proper way to fire a musket."
"He taught you well."
The prisoner was brought into the fort and was to be interrogated the following day. Christian headed back to the house. He entered the door and was immediately greeted by questions.
"Christian, what happened up there? We heard a gunshot while you were out." Emma said straight away.
"There was a British spy just outside the wall. That gunshot was me."
"Really? Did you hit him?" Anna asked.
"Right in the leg. He's being held in the infirmary. We'll interrogate him later."
"You hit him in one shot?" John asked in amazement.
"God! I guess that's why you shouldn't mess with a Prussian." Andrew laughed.
"Ich bin ein Preuße und will ein Preuße sein, mein Freund." Christian replied. They all laughed at his German remark. Emma was fairly impressed at the fact that he could speak German.
"It's good to know your safe." she said. John and Andrew began to smirk again and Anna and Margret slapped them on their shoulders.
"Why don't you two just go to bed?" Margret said. Andrew and John headed to their rooms while Anna and Margret followed. Emma was headed for her room when she noticed that Christian wasn't following the group.
"Christian, aren't you going to bed?" she asked.
"I'm going to stay up and clean my gun." He replied. He went over and sat down by the fireside and began cleaning his gun. Emma then turned to sit down beside him. Christian looked at her and smiled. There was a bit of a silence before Emma spoke up.
"So what was it like; guard duty?"
"Eh, there's not much to talk about. It was pretty boring; just pace the walls, keep an eye out for the enemy and report your status to the first soldier you approach. It wasn't that exciting until that spy showed up."
"Hm. So, you actually hit that spy with just one shot?"
"Wow. I thought muskets weren't very accurate."
"Well, like Andrew said, that's why you shouldn't mess with a Prussian."
Emma giggled a bit at his remark. "That reminds me, I didn't know you could speak German."
"My father began teaching me at a young age. I became fluent in the language at age 14."
"Really? What was it that you said to Andrew when you came in?"
"It means, 'I am a Prussian and I want nothing else than to be a Prussian.'"
"What was it in German again?"
"Ich bin ein Preuße und will ein Preuße sein. That's actually a line from the Prussian national anthem."
"How does the Prussian anthem go?"
"You don't want to hear me sing that." Christian laughed.
"I've heard you sing before. You're really good. Please?"
Christian chuckled and cleared his throat and began singing.
Ich bin ein Preuße, kennt ihr meine Farben?
Die Fahne schwebt mir weiß und schwarz voran.
Daß für die Freiheit meine Väter starben,
Das deuten, merkt es, meine Farben an.
Nie werd' ich bang verzagen,
Wie jene will ich's wagen
Sei's trüber Tag, sei's heitrer Sonnenschein,
Ich bin ein Preuße, will ein Preuße sein!
He finished singing and stared at the fire.
"Your father taught you that?" Emma said.
She smiled and rubbed his shoulder. "You must miss him."
Christian smiled at Emma. "I know that leaving your parents was difficult for you, but you seem to be taking this pretty well. I'm proud of you."
Emma smiled at the young man. The two locked eyes and began leaning toward each other. Their heads tilted and just before their lips touched, they heard a smirk from one of the rooms. They looked over to see John and Andrew standing there. Those two are the most immature people on the face of the Earth, Christian thought. "You two would make terrible spies. Now go to bed already!" Christian laughed. The two retired back to their rooms and Christian refocused his attention on the young lady sitting at his side. "You should get some rest too." he said, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Okay, Christian." She gave him a tight hug. "I'm glad you're alright." Christian smiled. He was never in any real danger on the wall, but he appreciated her concern. She then stood up and began to head to her room. "Goodnight, Christian."
"Goodnight, Emma." and she went into her room. Christian returned his gaze to the fire. He said a prayer before heading to bed himself. He thanked God for letting him know that his feelings toward Emma were mutual.