So I told him, with all due respect to his office and station, that there must be some sort of mistake.
That I simply hadn't been made aware of the fact that we were supposed to supply our own weapons and armor, and be completely prepared for the ravages of all this marching and battle for the Glory of our Illustrious Emperor, from the moment we were called to muster.
And I explained to him, quite calmly and with a great amount of flattery applied to all his military training and accomplishments, my tongue, though it may be sharp as a sword, was of dubious use on the battlefield.
And all I had for battle dress was the shirt I was wearing, with a bit of knotted rope for a belt, which I was often tempted to arrange and fashion into a pair of makeshift sandals for our long marches, shoeless as I was.
And so the officer I was speaking to, in his wisdom, though far from infinite, kindly directed me to the engineering tents, where I would be issued with my first "War Basket," much the same as those which you all hold now.
Aye, at first glance, it purpose is naught but that of a simple tool, meant to ease the labors of those like us, who are assigned to the most important of military tasks, such as the carrying of dirt from the ditch, during the digging of defensive pits, which protect even the best of us in our sleep, and the removal of refuse, and laundry, and severed limbs and the like from the tents of our superiors.
And perhaps you think yourself thus still heavily underequipped and dreadfully defenseless for the task of facing the terrible charges of the enemy's innumerable flaming War Gorillas and the like.
But I believe, as you will come to agree, that it is the failing of your own resourceful nature and imagination that fills you with the fear you feel now, for the War Basket can readily be applied to many other uses, with quick and simple adjustments of its location and position.
From the default, in its normal place of rest, upon your head, which is called the First Position, where it allows you the complete freedom of your arms, and provides all the function and fashion of a helmet, offering the eyes some protection from the unpredictable nature of flames and sparks and the larger bits of whirling airbourne bone particles and such that one will inevitably encounter.
It may then be unsheathed, and held before one's body, like so, and driven thusly into the Second Position, and, when steadied with both of the hands, carefully, such as this, the War Basket makes a sudden transformation, and takes on many of the virtues of a lightweight buckler or shield, allowing one to speedily deflect the harmful oncoming attacks of a mulitude of one's enemies with quick and nimble counter-thrusts, as I shall venture to demonstrate for you now.
And a hail of enemy missiles can cause us no fear, when it is so easy to intercept and entangle said missiles with our War Baskets in the Third Position, slightly raised to the sky and held thusly.
And, when held in reverse, as a result of this quick motion, which is the Fourth Position, it allows one to collect any stones and throwing knives and darts and such that one may find hurled at their person with the intent to cause grievous harm, so that you may then use these weapons yourself, and turn the advantage of your enemy's own superior weaponry against him, in the very heat of battle, or even sell them for some small profit, to the other soldiers who may have an interest in the use of such weapons, if they are of a more standard variety, or the officers, who may want them for souvenirs of the enemy, if they are strange and intriguing objects of an exotic nature.
Simple as a game of catch, you may even find it quite enjoyable, as I do.
Now, the War Basket can also be a devastating weapon, when applied to the enemy from the Fifth Position, so, in an offensive manner, and wielded by one who is accustomed to its use.
Aye, you laugh.
It is alright, I am happy to provide your lot with a bit of good humor, in these dark times.
Step forward, and I shall make an example of you.
Have no fear, soldier, no harm will come to you, aside from that which I will now cause to your doubts in the War Basket's offensive capabilities.
Now, as any fool can plainly see, when the War Basket is quickly applied to your enemy's head, in the manner of a helmet, although it does no immediate damage to his person, it obstructs his vision, and the cumbersome weight and shape of the basket itself tends to make his movements slower and more clumsy and awkward.
As you can see, it also has the additional benefit of making his head a much larger target, which in turn can make it easier to land a quck series of devastating blows, like so, in the style we Masters of Basketmenship call "Ringing the Bell," which may do no serious harm to an opponent such as a ferocious and infuriated War Gorilla, but the confusion caused by this process and the crippling effect that the very gift of a War Basket can produce in your enemy can be of great assistance to those around you who are equipped with weapons capable of striking far more meaningful blows.
Aye, he'll be alright, just give him some time for his wits to settle.
Alright, I think we've had enough instruction for today, tomorrow we shall complete your training, teaching you how to quickly weave yourself a new War Basket, in the event you find yourself disarmed and such on the battlefield.
I understand your doubts, lads, but with the steady nerves and discipline necessary for Great Deeds, with naught but the will to rally to the simple wisdom of my words, and with Fortune's good graces, I am sure you will soon find yourself promoted to more rewarding, better equipped, and highly esteemed postions within the Emperor's vast forces, and perhaps even such lofty aspirations as to one day find one's self marching among the elite ranks of the very Shovel Guard itself are not beyond one's reach.