Port Castleberry is a rotting cesspool of interspecies and their depravity. The entirety of the country-yes, Castleberry is a country-is filled with criminality, sexual depravity, and other acts of vileness. Every manner of immorality, crime, and horror is allowed in Port Castleberry. Of course, there was law in Castleberry, but it was as cruel as the crime.
Plus, the electricity grid would kick off and on at times. It was said that the power flicked off and on because prisoners were put to death at an alarming rate. Of course, no one believed it. It was just an old wife’s tale.
Jace Strongheart stood on the bow of the Courtesan Star and wondered if his ‘new start’ would find success. With each failure he lowered his bar of expectations. His few possessions were packed in a trash bag next to him.
Those who came on the Courtesan Star watched Jace with disgust. He was the only Earthling on this rickety tub.
Jace looked up toward the firmament. Castleberry had two moons, but you only saw one at a time. The night sky, all four hours of it, was filled with twinkling stars. Night felt as if it would smother you. Jace liked the night.
“One day my ship will come in,” Jace thought, “my luck I’ll be stuck at the airport.” The old Earth saying brought a smile to his face. His ship docked at Berth #3. Before the ship even lowered the ramp for its passengers to disembark, people and things were jostling for position. Fistfights broke out on the deck. Jace stayed put and watched the chaos.
“And they think us humans are low class…” A broad-shouldered Dwarf stood silently in the shadows next to Jace. He watched Jace with a mixture of dispassion and disgust.
“What brought you to Port Castleberry, Earthling?” Jace turned to the dwarf. Jace balked at the dwarf’s appearance. The dwarf’s beard was as long as he was tall, an eyepatch covered his left eye, and scars covered his face.
“Um, I needed a fresh start, Sir Dwarf.”
“So, you decided to be a criminal?”
“Uh, no. I decided to be a mercenary.”
“Same thing,” the dwarf growled. Jace shook his head no. Surely, the dwarf misunderstood him. Jace decided to explain his position.
“Sir Dwarf, I have no desire to be a criminal. Warring against tyranny and unrighteousness is not wrong.”
“Listen Earthling, this is not a land of heroes. Nor is it a land given to forgiveness.” He poked Jace in the chest. “You best be forged of something solid. This land and its inhabitants will eat you Crunchy.”
“Sir Dwarf, I feel as if-“
“My name is not Sir Dwarf, human. I am Ragnar the Two-fisted.”
Jace pulled out the flyer from his coat pocket. Well, what was left of his coat pocket. The flyer was in as bad shape as his coat. Still, the yellow flyer’s message was barely readable. “Do you have what it takes to fight? Do you have skill and martial prowess? Come to Port Castleberry and join the finest company of paid mercs, Ragnar’s Thundering Herd.”Printed under the message was a photo of Ragnar, complete with the eyepatch. He held a long gun in his right hand and seemed to beckon for others to join his cause with his left.
“You’re him,” Jace sputtered. He motioned to the flyer. “You’re Ragnar the Two-fisted. I’m here to join the Thundering Herd.”
Ragnar shouldered past Jace and made his way toward the ramp. He turned and beckoned for Jace to follow. Jace grabbed his trash bag and fell into step behind Ragnar.
“We’ll see if you have what it takes to be a merc, Earthling.”