Bridge Four was originally a bridge crew in the army of Highprince Sadeas. It was regarded as one of the worst bridge crews of which to be a member, due to the remarkably high mortality rate amongst its members compared to that of other bridge crews.
When Kaladin tells the men that they all know things are changing, he reminds them that they're all halfway to being lighteyes. That they've already let five women into Bridge Four, and that they'll be fighting with spears. Further, that expectations are being upended and that they're the cause of it.
Originally a bridge crew known for its high mortality rate, it was often picked to receive the worst of the new recruits by Gaz and Lamaril. When Kaladin arrived at the Shattered Plains, he was assigned to Bridge Four and - not long afterward - was appointed Bridge Leader. Later, during a particularly bad bridge run, several bridgemen were injured; members of Bridge Four quickly gathered and treated the injured bridgemen. Upon hearing the news of Bridge Four treating its injured members, Sadeas declared that if they could not run, they would not be fed or paid.
Eventually, Bridge Four developed a sense of camaraderie that was not seen within the other bridge crews, and they took to having nightly fires, with soup for all the bridgemen in the crew. Additionally, the members trained with the bridge in their spare time to increase their strength and endurance on bridge runs. After a time, the casualty rate of Bridge Four became far lower than that of the rest of the bridge crews.
It was difficult work from the first day. The bridgemen were sloppy and uncertain, but they also showed remarkable resolve. Kaladin had never worked with a group who made fewer complaints. The bridgemen didn't ask for a break. They didn't shoot him resentful glances when he pushed them harder. The scowls they bore were at their own foibles, angry at themselves for not learning faster. And they got it. After just a few hours, the more talented of them - Moash at the forefront - started to change into fighting men. Their stances grew firmer, more confident. When they should have been feeling exhausted and frustrated, they were more determined. Drehy and Skar were nearly as quick as Moash to learn.
To stem the resentment toward Bridge Four from the other crews, Gaz assigned Bridge Four chasm duty as their work detail. Chasm duty involved climbing down into a chasm and collecting armor and weapons from the corpses of soldiers that had died during an assault, and had been washed down by a highstorm. It is down in the chasm that Kaladin performs a kata.
As they walked into a chasm, some of his men got out their sacks and picked up pieces of salvage they passed. A helmet here, a shield there. They kept a keen watch for spheres. Finding a valuable fallen sphere would result in a small reward for the whole crew. They weren't allowed to bring their own spheres or possessions into the chasm, of course. And on their way out, they were searched thoroughly. The humiliation of that search - which included any place a sphere might be hidden - was part of the reason chasm duty was so loathed.
While training with his crew and their bridge, Kaladin decides to try carrying the bridge on its side to use it as a shield to reduce the casualties during a bridge run. While awkward, the crew is able to do this successfully. During a particularly bad bridge run at the Tower, the crew decides to put this maneuver into action. While they didn't lose a single man, the Parshendi fired upon the other bridge crews, bringing them down faster and the assault was a failure due to the innovation of Bridge Four.
Afterward, while still on chasm duty, Bridge Four discovered some Parshendi corpses, and formulated a plan to use the found Parshendi carapace as armor and act as a decoy to draw attention away from their bridge crew. In practice, it worked better than expected and there were few casualties on any of the bridge crews that day. In short order, Bridge Four had several members assigned to this dangerous duty. Later, contemplating running, Kaladin then formulated a plan of escape.
During a joint plateau assault with Dalinar, Sadeas betrayed Dalinar and left him stranded at the Tower against a huge Parshendi force. While retreating, Kaladin encouraged the members of Bridge Four to turn back and help Dalinar and his army. Putting their training in the chasms to use for the first time, Bridge Four fought off the Parshendi while Dalinar made his way to the edge of the plateau. After a tough fight against the Parshendi, they managed to escape.
Upon returning to camp, Dalinar confronted Sadeas and demanded to take Bridge Four from him. Sadeas refused. Keeping his word, Dalinar traded his Shardblade for every bridgeman in Sadeas's camp: two-thousand, six-hundred bridgemen, including Bridge Four. They then became part of Dalinar's Army and were no longer slaves.
Following these incidents (since the Cobalt Guard had nearly been wiped out, and the remaining men of the Guard were needed to augment the King's Guard), Dalinar made an offer to Kaladin and members of Bridge Four to become the new Honor Guard. While they accepted the honor of protecting Dalinar and his family, they chose not to be known as the Cobalt Guard and instead to retain the name Bridge Four, thus likely ending the battalion's history.
As the leader of Bridge Four, Kaladin is now charged with protecting King Elhokar and, respectively, the Kholin family as the newly referred to Honor Guard (by outside sources), but the members still refer to themselves as Bridge Four.
When Kaladin took them over, the men were caged animals who had been beaten into submission. He brought back their fight, but they were still caged at the time. Now the doors are off those cages and it would take time for them to adjust ... which they would.
During the final weeks as bridgemen, they'd learned to act with the precision and discipline of soldiers. They stood at attention while their abusers marched across bridges, never uttering a word of derision. Their discipline itself had become their weapon. They'd learned to be real soldiers. Now they had to learn how to act without Sadeas's oppression to push against.
Kaladin had heard that one could cover a scar with a tattoo, and it ended up working quite well. Once the tattoo ink was injected, the glyphs - instead of the slave brand - drew the eye, and one could barely tell that the skin beneath was scarred.
He drew out the proper Bridge Four glyphs for the tattooist, which were then applied first to Hobber, then Skar, both of whom had had slave brands. Neither Moash nor Teft had such brands, who had been made bridgemen without being slaves first ... a practice common in Sadeas's camp.
Although Kaladin tells the men who don't have slave brands that they don't need to get the tattoo, Rock says that he will get it. Indeed, every one of the men without a slave brand - Beld and Teft included - sat down and got the tattoo on their foreheads. Only Moash abstained, and had the tattoo placed on his upper arm.
That left Kaladin to receive his tattoo, yet after two attempts at getting it to take, he was nevertheless left with his slave brands on his forehead.
Kaladin had trained a number of the men in Bridge Four in basic field medicine. After the attempted assassination of Dalinar by Szeth, Eth tends to his wounds, cleaning up his face and plugging his bleeding nose.
Now augmented by some members from the other bridge crews, a couple of soldiers Dalinar had suggested, plus five women who are scouts, the members of Bridge Four are instructed by Kaladin in the ways by which they might become Windrunner squires. The first step is to speak the First Ideal:
|“||Life before Death, Strength before Weakness, Journey before Destination.||”|
Kaladin then tells them that the real test, and proof of each their squireship, will be learning to draw Stormlight into themselves. He knows that they've been close to the power for some time, and that once they have it, they'll be able to heal. He won't have to go into battle worrying which of them he'll lose.
Soon after Kaladin leaves their presence, everyone slowly starts to lose their powers. They are typically gone in an hour or two. Kaladin has to be relatively near - Sigzil has placed their maximum distance from him at around fifty miles, though their abilities start to fade somewhere around thirty miles.
The Bridge Four salute is performed by raising one's hands before one's self at chest level, and crossed at the wrist.
Q&A with Brandon
Q. As Dalinar gave his Shardblade to Highprince Sadeas, was his motivation only to free the Brigdemen as "Thank you" for the help? Or did he already plan to build a team from soldiers who are loyal only to him?
A. He certainly saw the side benefits. However, his primary motive was to make a statement. Not just as a thank you, but as a way of proclaiming to all of the Alethi "What we have been doing is wrong. This wealth is not worth the lives of men."
- Bridge Four
- Oathbringer, 55. Alone Together
- The Way of Kings, 9. Damnation
- The Way of Kings, 27. Chasm Duty
- The Way of Kings, 49. To Care
- The Way of Kings, 28. Decision
- The Way of Kings, 32. Side Carry
- The Way of Kings, 66. Codes
- The Way of Kings, 67. Words
- The Way of Kings, 68. Eshonai
- The Way of Kings, 69. Justice
- The Way of Kings, 73. Trust
- Words of Radiance, 5. Ideals
- Words of Radiance, 2. Bridge Four
- Words of Radiance, 33. Burdens
- Oathbringer, 37. The Last Time We March
- Oathbringer, 104. Strength
- Make a statement ...