• Member Since 24th Aug, 2015
  • offline last seen 16 minutes ago

Mitch H

Not busy being born...



I like to think of the Company as an island of order and sanity in a sea of chaos, selfishness and irrationality. My fellow soldiers tell me I'm a damn foal, and an idealist, and I white-wash the mercenaries of the Black Company in ways that doesn't serve either the Company or them. But I've been given the role of Annalist, in the absence of anyone better-suited and properly lettered, so until they take the Annals away from me, I'm going to write them as I see fit. The Company has been my home since it forcefully recruited me from my unending apprenticeship, and I've seen more interesting medicine in the years since then than a hundred apothecaries, a dozen chirurgeons, or three other doctors with, pfft, "degrees". Most of it screaming for its mama and bleeding out on my surgery table.

They call me Sawbones, and this is the story of the last of the Black Companies.

Chapters (229)
Comments ( 925 )

What is this a crossover of?

Glen Cook's Black Company novels, and in a lesser sense, his Tyranny of the Night series which is a sort of spiritual sequel to the Black Company books. They're a marvel of cynical extension of the traditional sword and sorcery fantasy. Wizards are wicked, their natural enemies, barbarians and soldiers are compromised or piratical; and the weak politicians plot in the background, to manipulate those with power to turn their magnified flaws to the advantage of the weak and powerless, who have no real moral edge against those with power.

I know you said you had experience, but this is one heck of a high quality first story on the site.

I really am confused as to why this doesn't have half the exposure it deserves.


Thank you both. I suspect I've found the unhappy valley in between "all OC cast", "no HiE or PoE", "no changelings", and "new writer" as far as these things go. I'm trying to enjoy the experience for its own sake. I've always been a voracious reader, and an indifferent writer. The discipline of daily writing is probably good for the soul.

I'm not sure about no soul, never had enough of one to make stick, but it's great for practice if you can keep it up. And if you do, you'll end up gold starred by me soon enough. Though I hope that we'll get back to Equestria one of these days, not in a rush to see it.

Hmmm ... Celestia seems ripe for filling the part of the Lady (or "the Bride" as you have it), with Luna ready to step into 'Taker's shoes ... but the flag already implies a past connection with Luna ... and you have Marklaird showing 'Takers most obvious character "quirk" ...

Eager to see where you take this :twilightsmile:

Oooh - one of my favourite series - added to the list to read - thanks!

"Would you care to cart for killers, predators, and ponies known to make bad puns?"


Time to indulge in some wild guessing -- the Company was originally one of Luna's Thestral regiments (back before she went crazy), and they stayed loyal when she turned into Nightmare Moon. When Nightmare got banished, the Company fled through the portal into exile, but they took Luna's personal weapon (the spear that forms the heart of the banner-lance) with them. And that lance is still touched by Luna's magic and is holding a small "imprint" (if you will) of Luna's and/or Nightmare Moon's personality. Here ends the reading from the Book of I'm Making This Up As I Go.

7566251 I'm trying to work out in my head what's safe to talk about on background, and what qualifies as spoilers. Suffice it to say, the Company is moving at a rapid operational tempo, on an ambitious scale they haven't attempted in generations, and that means that matters that have laid dormant in the Company for centuries are being jostled awake.

Also, I'm still learning things about my characters; some of them aren't who I thought they were.

Maybe it's just me being a cynical and suspicious sort, but something about Middle Donkey's feels off to me ...

Well, aside from the janky name - a sad little joke that this poor middle child was so un-noteworthy that even her parents basically assigned her a position rather than a name - she was the sparrow that fell without her Company. Combat is chaos, and not only do things occur without understanding and attention, but perhaps almost all of it is a mystery. What we know of war is a story told to impose meaning and order on something that is intrinsically without order or meaning.

Middle Donkey's story is that she died alone on a field crowded with her fellows. Anything else was lost with her.

This seems a bit outside Annals writing. Have we transitioned into pure narrative or is this still being writ by Sawbones?

Also, Shakespeare - really? The archaic of it always throws me off and makes it a struggle. But for this, I'd struggle again with his words and wordplay.

Spoilers for anyone reading the comments on the main story page.

7570844 Yeah, it's a problem. But it was a problem in the original Black Company books. Croaker's style was so casually noir that it was sometimes difficult to imagine it as an actual chronicle. Shadowlinger in particular was essentially the narrator writing third person historical fiction with himself as a supporting character.

I was trying to play with the idea that these ponies are living a sort of memetic overnarrative; one in which they are each the hardboiled protagonists of their own noir war-drama. That necessitates a certain cynical voice. Sawbones had a random oracle harsh his mellow once already this week; as a result he's been dreaming of TS Elliot imagery. Gibblets outed himself, and is living, in the moment, in the past, and as a result he doesn't sound anything like a Brother of the Company. He'll get himself back in the game.

I need to pull back the focus a bit here, anyways. I was developing a case of Zeno's fanfic, shorter and shorter bursts of smaller and smaller slices of time and story.

Oh snap son, plot aplenty!

I am enthralled but not much to say on the matter - and curse this infernal (in all sense of that word) phone for the ease and ill ease it is.

Whoops ... should be "about Middle Donkey's death feels off". :twilightsheepish:

7568695 Ahh, so it was just my snake-thoughts after all.

I knew it was The Devil's Dictionary but not the author. And that 'wickedest' line made me think Crowley but I knew that couldn't be right - wrong era entirely.

Had to look it up.:ajsleepy:

7580388 I couldn't think of a way to ponify his description of "his price" to a lackey of the Central Pacific Railroad being "seventy-five million dollars payable to my friend, the Treasurer of the United States".

And looking things up is how we all improve on our native wit and intelligence. Do you think I'm actually fluent in French or German, or all that knowledgeable about pre-modern surgical techniques and herbalism? We are all cyborgs, if we allow ourselves to be, and google and wikipedia our extended intelligence and knowledge-base. The internet makes us smarter almost to the same degree that it makes us crazier.

How is the Devil's Dictionary different than the Demon's Dictionary?

7582296 Th' what? (Google, google). Ah. A contemporary social/political tract. No relation that I can see there. The Devil's Dictionary is a very sarcastic and cynical "dictionary" of terms in a black-comedic vein from the late Gilded Age, by the author of "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", which is Ambrose Bierce's other well-known work. Bierce is the classic example of the saying "a cynic is a disappointed idealist", and few writers have ever been as disappointed as Bierce. His short stories and essays on the Civil War - he was a combat topographic engineer in the Army of the Cumberland and saw some of the worst fighting - are classics of war narrative. Affair at Coulter's Notch, for instance.

7582310 I was actually thinking of something else and may have misremembered the title. I'll have to get back to you.

7582310 I once read a book called Schott's Original Miscellany. Among other things, it contained some flippant quotes from Samuel Johnson. He was best known for writing a regular dictionary. I may have gotten some memories crossed.

7582341 Yup. In one of the above half-quoted bits, "Fine Diction" is a ponified reference by Bierce/Ambrosia to Johnson and his famous line about patriotism. Bierce was well aware of his predecessors, and there's a storied history of cynicism in lexicography.

"Boss, they followed me home. Can I keep them?"



Chirurgeons, huh? I believe I read this exact same term in one of the chapters in the first book in Mercedes Lackey's pre-The Heralds of Valdemar Mage Wars Trilogy, The Black Gryphon.

Wonderful series, as are ALL of her books.

I highly recommend them.

Gibbets, you have some explaining to do ...

So, the working theory is: Nightmare Moon has been possessing the Company (on at least a minor level), possibly ever since they fled Equestria, and may well have pushed the darker aspects of their personalities (or overlaid them with bits of her own personality) all this time. But now that Luna is (somewhat) awake, the possession has been broken, and the feed-back is what has laid out the Captain. Here ends another reading from the Book of I'm Making This Up As I Go.

Personally, I think the Company would be better off under Luna than Nightmare Moon, but that's just me.

It occurs to me that bears raiding bee hives that have been harvesting pollen from stands of poison joke are how you get bugbears.

Madness and genius are only separated by a fine line. That is apparently made of planks.

Then I did the right damn thing. We wasted our precious supplies and my time patching together wounded caribou.

I worried about her dreams, she had been helping with the bucket-brigade trying to extinguish the victims of the Marklaird.

Sawbones is showing noticeably less ruthlessness than old Croaker ...

7599050 Yeah, I'm an old softy. Of course, Croaker also wasn't a borderline anarchist and abolitionist like Sawbones. Croaker's romanticism came out in literal romanticism and his relationship with the Lady. Sawbones' is more sublimated and directed towards something of a savior's complex. If he even has a love-life, he certainly won't tell us about it in the pages of the Annals. You'll note that he hasn't written a word about the private affairs of over a thousand ponies of mixed genders in common barracks in the prime of their lives. He's kind of a puritan that way, like many political radicals of a certain stripe.

I love it when a plan comes together.

I stepped on a half-collapsed device of twigs and twine sitting beside the library exit on our way out of that chamber.

A fireball of immense proportions caught the Marklaird and its loot from the right side of the corridor, perhaps a flare from the fires below?

I'm thinking that Sawbones triggered a booby-trap ...

The return of military apprenticeship to the Company also allowed us to revive an old sub-tradition associated with the general silliness of Hearth's Warming, which was, namely, making foals memorize and perform the traditional play.


Oh, god, I just realized that I technically "knighted" my protagonist back during the ceremony in "the Military-Apprentices". Which means that the Duchesse was dancing out with the moon-lit knight. Can you tell me where my province lies...

Man, if the Anarchist's Cookbook included alchemy.

Most amateur alchemists blow themselves up anyway ...

So swearing to Luna makes a pony undead bane ... that could be useful. Too bad they're in country ruled by undead who might be angered by that little fact ...

I think the Company needs to look into a new contract on another world ...

Or try to keep this fact closer to their chest than the Archives. One thing that's good about being embedded like a tick - though the host does not want you, where you are might be more trouble to burn than the worth of it.

... Sawbones is usually more calm about these sorts of things. Why the sudden onset of bloodlust?

7616551 Partly pain from loosing the old Captain, but I think there is more going on ...

7616551 Pain and guilt. Sawbones has mentioned his grandparents, but no father, and he was apprenticed young to a rare old bastard who had difficulty distinguishing an apprentice from a slave-for-life. The old captain saved him from that, gave him a place and family.

And instead of saving his father-surrogate, he was off playing with zombies and macking on the aristocracy. He's feeling guilty all right.

This use and abuse of the Annals-chest was inspired by 6 Gun Mage's Cavanaughs and their armoires.

I'm thinking the Caribou City massacre (and its attendant failures in the primary campaign) was a deliberate ploy by the Legates to draw out the war and boost their necromantic power.

I'm pretty sure I was the first to try and club the Company's enemies to death with our archival chest.

Definitely an act worthy of the Annals :pinkiehappy:

That is a nasty little trap <insert evil grin>

I may have to steal it to use on my players the next time I game master :pinkiehappy:

7621397 It was a bit Tomb of Horrors, I confess.

You ... you know you ain't right, right?

That's an understatement ...

Somepony remembered he was prophesied at last fall. Maybe it means something?

I wouldn't put any coin on it. Prophecies are only good for pointing out where you screwed up long after it's to late to fix things :twilightangry2:

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