The Darkening of the steppe( Self RP)

Discussion in 'National RolePlay' started by North Timistania, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. North Timistania

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    Ziu's Cloak stretched across the heavens shrouding all in darkness, it would be hours until the orange glow of new dawn began to light the sky. This was all well and good, Alric did his best work in the shadows, his nightly hunts had earned him a terrifying reputation amongst the enemies of his clan.

    Tonight those enemies were the Kargs, a wild clan even by Essalanea's standards, their encamped forces were celebrating a successful raid into the territories of the clan of Volkmann, Alric's clan. Their assembled mass of bondsmen surrounded the bonfire in a loose circle of singing, shouting and drunken boasts.

    Alric Volkmann gazed down at the firelit revelries dispassionately, it was hard to see things any other way when your view was tinted green with night vision. Through the scope of his rifle, the figures below were sheathed in a ghostly white glow, they were wights who did not know they were already dead he mused with a cruel smile.

    Ulli Karg, chieftain of the karg's, strode into view as his people began to bellow and chant

    Karg! Karg!

    Ulli was a huge man, unmistakable even from Alric's vantage point, his face a patchwork of snaking clan tattoos and old scars. He was bald save for a topknot and his blonde beard was wild and unkempt like a mad hermit. He was bare-chested and wore only breeches and riding boots, he had probably just stumbled out of his tent at the urging of his wives.

    The chieftain was a long time opponent of alric's own clan Volkmann, the two groups had finally come to open blows over the high chieftains proposed reforms to steppe life. High Chieftain Gaiseric had declared proposals for embassies with foreign nations, Ulli had drawn steel in Vosgotis and declared war.

    The bondsman's chanting echoed across the steppe as they slammed weapons and feet upon the ground with each new chant, Alric waited for another deafening chant and drew back the bolt on his rifle. Ulli raised a hand to quiet his clan

    'Brothers and Sisters! today we struck a blow against the Volkmann and their false high chief! Gaiseric would have you embrace the depraved ways of the auslanders! but we are Essalanean! WE ARE KARG! GLORY TO ESSALAN! GLORY TO KARG!!!' he roared as his clan erupted into deafening cheers

    Alric breathed in and focused, the shrieks and roars below fading away as he entered the meditative kill stance of a practised sniper.

    'Just You and Me Ulli' he thought as he watched the Karg leader move around the firelight gesticulating and shouting as he worked the bondsmen into a frenzy

    'WE WILL CRUSH THE VOLKMANN! THIS LAND WILL NOT BE CORRUPTED BY FOREIGN INFLUENCE!!!' Ulli roared

    Ulli Karg raised both fists in the air in and began to scream the clan name, Alric held his breath and in one practised motion he fired.

    The bullet ripped through Ulli's Head, a gruesome red cloud obscuring his face, Alric was already moving as the camp erupted in screams and chaos.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  2. North Timistania

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    Six Months Earlier

    'FOREIGN EMBASSIES!!!' Ulli Screamed

    Gaiseric held his composure as the karg showered him with a rain of spittle, he had always known Ulli would be opposed to any reform...the karg were famously stubborn. He raised his hand to silence the karg chieftain

    'Yes Ulli, foreign embassies, you don't have to like it but the world is changing and we must not be left behind' Gaiseric said calmly, Ulli face seemed to be growing more twisted with rage with each word Gaiseric uttered

    'Any moment now' Gaiseric thought as the karg chieftain built up to another explosive tirade

    Ulli reached for his blade, gasps filled the room as the Karg's concealed boot knife emerged and slammed into the great table of Essalan, the mistake had been made, it was a cardinal sin to draw steel in Essalan's city...Ulli had just made himself fair game for anyone to attack without censure.

    'WE ARE ESSALANEAN AND YOUR PROGRESSIVE FILTH WILL NEVER WEAKEN US!!! I WILL NOT ALLOW IT!!!' Ulli roared before storming off

    Gaiseric's expression had not changed throughout the entire exchange, he regarded the blade now embedded in the ancient oak table, the karg boot knife had no shine coated as it was with black paint...the high chieftain of the clans let out a long sigh and leaned back in his chair. Ulli was the greatest obstacle to a future for the clans, Essalan had long stood apart from the world but eras was changing and if the clans did not adapt they would soon find their once unconquered steppe under the foreign heel.

    'The chieftain is correct brothers and sisters, we are Essalanean, and just as he has chosen so too must you all, A future as a part of the world or a slow death apart from it' Gaiseric said rising from his chair

    The hall stood in stunned silence, eventually, a small collection of chieftains stormed out after Ulli, the traditionalists had made themselves known. When the last of the conservative chieftains had left Gaiseric regarded those that remained. The Majority of the Clan's would support Gaiseric out of both necessity and the opportunities his new path promised...the poorer clans would likely flock to Ulli for fear of being forgotten in the rush for reform.

    Gaiseric regarded the room one last time, Essalan had once stood on this hallowed ground and his vision for a united people would now have to be achieved....the shadow of change now darkened the steppe.
     
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  3. North Timistania

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    Alric strode down the narrow streets of Vogotis, his boots making a satisfying thump on the cobblestones, he held his shouldered rifle in one hand and was hungrily gnawing on a meat skewer with the other. It was a cold morning, the chill winds of the steppe seemed to infuse the cities ancient stoneworks.

    Vosgotis was indeed ancient, Essalan's city had been in continuous inhabitance since the clans had settled on the steppe. Most of the time the clan's dwelled here only during the ceremonial moots, preferring the nomadic life on the steppe to cold and sedentary vosgotis, only a small population of permanent clan serfs dwelled here as a necessary presence to stop the city from crumbling. Essalan himself had once walked these narrow streets, history suffused the ancient stoneworks, all around tall stone houses and monuments depicted the ancient glories of the clans. Alric would have felt more awed if he wasn't so eager to be in front of a warm fire.

    He came at last to the great square of chieftains, it was eerily quiet today, the impending trial in the hall of law had scared most people off. Essalan's mounted statue seemed to lear out at the world around him a dimly lit world of silence and shadow, the square was empty save for the clan guards keeping watch at the door. Alric approached the hall doors and flashed his clan markings, a green Volkmann crowned wolf's head marking him as a recognised bondsman.

    He recognised the captain of the guard, they had wrestled at the last moot, Kruber's fat ruddy face and handlebar moustache easily recognisable even in his armour

    'Has it started?' Alric asked

    'They've been arguing in there for nearly an hour, I'm surprised you came Alric, always thought you had no interest in politics?' Kruber said with a raised eyebrow

    Alric shrugged 'I don't, but brother summons and I obey' he said with a smirk and a mock bow

    Kruber gave an amused grin and waved him through

    The hall within was dark and reeked of smoke, a great round table filled the centre of the hall and the chieftain's now sat there arguing and protesting in equal measure

    'wouldn't be Essalanea if things went smoothly' Alric thought with a sigh

    The clan banners behind each chieftain hinted at a turnout of the steppe's great and powerful, the red kimbri adder, the rugen Snow Leopard and even the Hureg Black bear were present. All the great clans were present except for the Karg, their wild dog banner noticeably absent from the walls. The rugen chieftain otto stood his withered hands pressed resting on the table as he spoke, Alric was surprised the old fossil made such a long journey west. Otto always looked like something from a horror story told by bondsmen after too much ale, his whole body was pale and emaciated and his necklace of tiny skulls and stained brown robes all added to his ghoulish appearance. The reality of Otto was equally intimidating, as the chieftain of clan rugen otto held a sacred rank within the clan society, he was Essalan's scourge and the only man who could issue a verdict of death upon a clan.

    'For the high crime of drawing a weapon in the sacred precincts of Vosgotis, I otto of clan rugen do sentence the karg chieftain and all who stand with him to death in absentia, their lives are now forfeit and now may be taken by any means either honourable or cowardly alike' Otto said his voice cold and weary, yet clear and without stutter or pause

    Almost as soon as the verdict was given people began to leave, an uncomfortable mood permeated the hall following such a gruesome verdict, no one liked the consider the implication of an entire clan being under a death sentence. Alric waited by the door, resting against a pillar as the high chieftain's party approached. Gaiseric Volkmann regarded Alric with a mix of amusement and also fatigue

    'You are late brother' Gaiseric said

    Alric shrugged in reply ' true but I don't imagine I missed much'

    Gaiseric grinned at that ' about three hours of arguing, moralising and insult throwing mostly' Gaiseric replied

    The two brothers chuckled at that and embraced in a firm bear hug

    'It's been too long Alric' Gaiseric said clapping Alric on the back

    'Yeah, nothing brings the family together quite like clan death sentences' Alric said with a sigh

    'It's going to get ugly Al, the whole steppe is choosing sides now' Gaiseric said grimly

    'But surely most of the clan's will still side with Volkmann? the karg have never been much for words or diplomacy' Alric replied

    'The Northern clans will flock to the karg for fear of what reform will mean, the rest will follow us into the new world....if we can break the karg that is' Gaiseric said looking Alric directly in the eyes as he uttered the last words

    Now I know why you summoned me

    Always the clan's problem solver, Alric had killed countless enemies in the name of his brother, now he might have to do so on a much larger scale.

    'I am at your disposal, brother' Alric said, he felt a chill rise inside as he uttered those words and knew instinctively what they meant.
     
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  4. North Timistania

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    The air reeked of smoke, the sound of machine gun fire breaking the steppe's usual ghostly silence, Ulli strode past burning yurts and corpses as though he was taking a casual morning stroll. The Hochvolk had stood little chance against the full fury of the Karg, any semblance of battle had long since given way to butchers work. Screams of the dying and the brutalized filled the morning air, all against a background of laughter, shooting and hacking with blades.

    A karg bondsman bent the knee before Ulli, his mail, hair, and furs drenched in blood not his own

    'They found him Ulli!' the bondsman said a savage grin etched across his smoke-blackened face

    Ulli nodded and kept walking without giving the bondsman a second glance, the Hochvolk had been closer then blood kin once...that was before they had forsaken their oath to the Karg and sided with Gaiseric, Ulli would show Steiner and his clan the consequences of their betrayal.

    The Hochvolk chief was being held in the largest Yurt in the center of the encampment, Ulli slid through the flaps of the door and was greeted by the sight of his bondsmen beating the chieftain bloody with their bare fists. Ulli held up a hand, the beating promptly ceased. Steiner gazed up at Ulli through blackened eyes.

    He was a small man, tanned head bald except for a topknot like most steppe men, his shortness had always been a joke amongst the other chieftains. Steiner had always been a man to stubbornly follow his course regardless of what others thought, it was a trait that Ulli had once valued most in him, the Hochvolk had been swayed by promises of greater status and easier lives, now Ulli would snuff out both those dreams. Ulli knelt down and gazed into Steiner's face.

    'I warned you not to side with the Volkmann did i not?' Ulli said in a disappointed tone

    Steiner spat, blood and spittle spraying from broken lips onto Ulli's face, Ulli laughed

    He wiped his face on a nearby Hochvolk banner, Steiner's blood smearing the white hill totem of the defeated clan

    'not the wisest choice of words' Ulli said with a smirk, then he struck Steiner with the back of his gauntleted hand, a spray of fresh blood leaving the chieftains mouth as the blow connected

    'We could have ruled these lands together, you and I, you were my voice Steiner, my wisest counsel' Ulli said his tone suddenly almost sorrowful

    'You would lead us into ruin!' Steiner replied yelling the last part

    'I would have us live as our fathers before us! proud and true to Essalan!' Ulli roared back, now it was Steiner showered in spittle

    Steiner sighed 'Our fathers are dead and their world is dying too, we must change or join them in the grave'

    Ulli did not answer, he turned to one of his bondsmen, a big man carrying a large two-handed saber, and nodded. The bondsman stepped forward and held out the blade, hilt towards Ulli. Ulli gripped the handle and drew the blade with one arm, a satisfying rasp accompanying the steel as it left the scabbard. Ulli stood and raised the blade

    'You first brother' he said and swung

    A clean cut severed Steiner's head in one blow, the body falling back with a gory spurt staining the furs of the tent floor. Ulli Lifted up the dead chieftains head and gazed into his lifeless face, his mouth still twitching and agape with horror. Ulli threw the head to the bondsmen still holding the scabbard.

    ' Put it one a spike and plant it at the edge of our lands, i want anyone who thinks to trespass to see what happens to those who cross me!' He said waving off the Bondsmen who bowed and left the tent, a trail of blood marking his departure

    Ulli regarded the headless corpse of Steiner with a grim look 'You were my voice once, but now you shall speak for me without words' he said turning to leave

    'Ulli what do we do with the survivors?' a bondsman with a shock of red hair said inclining his head to the camp outside

    'There are to be none' Ulli said walking away

    The sky outside filled with smoke and screams
     
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  5. North Timistania

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    The morning air was a pungent mix of sea salt, smoke, and excrement, all the scents that blended together to make Kimbria Essalanea's greatest urban center. Anegrette of the Kimbri walked down the worn cobbles flanked by either side by columns of sword sisters from her personal guard.

    Passerbys scattered at the sight of so many sword sisters, the cities clan police force seldom interfered in the local business unless there had been an offense to the kimbri committed, to see nearly 200 led by Anegrette herself was a sign of a fatal offense. Those who could not run away fast enough were shoved aside as the sisters passed.

    It was not unusual for the daughter of the red adder to survey her realm in person, but to do so with nearly 200 bondsmen at her side certainly was. Anegrette was a tall woman, not exceptionally so but enough to stand out. She wore her blonde hair in a braid and a bronze circlet over it, her red cloak and chainmail armor marked her as a person of wealth even from a distance. Today was a very public demonstration of her power.

    'Do you think the little rat will actually try and deny it?' Hunila, First sword of the kimbri, said with a wicked grin

    Hunila was the greatest warrior of the Kimbri chieftains bodyguard, a fierce woman completely bald save for a shock of black hair and bearing countless honor tattoos across her body, she had narrow sharp blue eyes that marked her as having foreign heritage, but no one would ever be stupid enough to deny she was Kimbri, no one alive anyway. She was Anegrette's right hand, a hand that often beat troublesome individuals.

    Anegrette smiled a knowing smile in reply 'if he does he will regret it' she said as they arrived at the warehouse

    Zhou had been supplying the Kimbri and by extension the steppe with weapons for over a decade, they were always good quality, unmarked and came with plenty of ammunition. The Kimbri paid him in gold and in return he armed them with the best weapons...now though he had been holding back...selling older pieces and less reliable gear, the fool had insulted his host and now she would find out why.

    The door to the warehouse was an old ornate oak thing, pretty but impractical, Anegrette smirked wickedly and nodded to Hunila, the First sword began barking orders to the assembled bondsmen to break the door. Several sisters with axes began to hack at the door, in seconds it was reduced to antique firewood.

    The sword sisters swarmed in blades and rifles drawn, Zhou was standing inside on the ground floor observing his workers unload a large shipment of crates from a dubious looking tug boat. Zhou was so engrossed in his work he barely had time to turn and register the vast mob of kimbri before they set upon him.

    Hunila grabbed the arms dealer by his throat and slammed him into a nearby pillar, the arms dealers bodyguards raised their weapons instinctively. This act of loyalty proved lethal, they were quickly cut down by rifle fire from the other sisters, they fell back reduced to gory piles of bullet-riddled flesh. Zhou screamed as Hunila dragged him by his now broken nose towards Anegrette who was now sitting on a wooden crate.

    Zhou was a fat man, a life of lucrative arms dealing and smuggling having afforded him the wealth necessary to debauch himself in every way imaginable. His appetites for food and drink were matched only by the supposedly immense orgies he paid the Joy Conclave to organize on a regular basis, now though he found himself in a situation where the money would not save him.

    Hunila gave a cruel smile, her single shock of black hair flicking across her face as she kicked the already bloodied merchant in the gut. She nodded and stepped back leaving Zhou to gaze up at Anegrette whose steely grey eyes were firmly focused on the long knife she was toying with.

    'What's this about!? Ana what the hell!? I give you the good weapons and a cut of the profits, what more do you want!?' he yelled out incensed by the sudden onslaught of violence

    Anegrette stared up from her blade for a moment, the look was cold and predatory, Zhou had to resist the urge to piss himself

    'You promised me an entire shipments worth of automatic rifles, a crate of RPGs and enough rockets to turn Kargland into a mass of craters!' She said gripping the blade tightly in her gloved fist

    Zhou whimpered and apology ' It wasn't my fault Ana! I swear! someone tipped off the coast guard on the strait...whole shipment seized! I tried to find replacements I promise!' he cried almost weeping

    Anegrette stood up and knelt before him, she placed a hand on his face and whispered into his ear, the blade in her other hand ran up and down the other side of his face, if Anegrette applied any pressure the blade would begin to cut.

    'You know what happens to people who don't deliver, fair gold for fair goods Zhou, that's always been the rule...so how should i deal with you?' she said drawing the blade up to shoulder height

    Zhou began to bawl and weep 'MERCY!!! PLEASE ANA!!! MERCY!!!' he cried raising his hands in a placating gesture, by now he had actually pissed himself

    Anegrette paused and gazed down at him, she tapped a finger on her chin pretending to think ' i could have Hunila skin you alive and then hang you in the market, he'd make a good rug right?' Anegrette said motioning to Hunila

    'He's certainly fat enough!' Hunila said drawing a long blade

    Zhou began to scream as Hunila drew closer, Anegrette raised a hand just as Hunila was about to close with the merchant.

    'Wait, Stop! I've changed my mind!' she said, by now Zhou had lost all decorum and was writhing on the floor in his own snot, blood, tears and piss

    She reached down and held up his head by the chin, blade pointed at the arms dealers throat, her grey eyes locked with his tear-filled brown and held them there as she spoke

    'Im going to give you one chance to save your life, Zhou, and only because I'm in need of a rather great number of weapons on short notice, You are going to give me everything, Rockets, rifles, technicals....everything and at reduced cost...and if you fuck it up....well' she said turning Zhou's face towards Hunila

    'Rug time fat boy!' Hunila said pointing the tip of her blade at Zhou who began to weep again

    Anegrette released Zhou who fell back and lay on the floor panting and sobbing as she motioned to her soldiers to pull back.

    'We're done here! You have a month Zhou! then if I don't see crates start to appear I'll be back for your balls!' Anegrette said striding out of the warehouse

    Outside she turned to Hunila who was grinning wickedly 'convincing performance ana, shame it was us who stole that last shipment' she said with a chuckle

    Anegrette smiled back ' necessary ruse, Gaiseric and I need weapons and lots of them, we are going to show those Karg the meaning of war' she said as they began to march back up the street

    'Think we were too hard on him?' Hunila asked

    'On Zhou? pffttt the weakling is a terrible sobber and if he pulls it off ill see him paid his weight in gold, if he doesn't...well ill pay him a different way' Anegrette said staring at her blade for a moment before sheathing it.

    I've done my part Gaiseric, now you do yours
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  6. North Timistania

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    The fireplace crackled and spat as Alric hurled another log onto it, Gaiseric didn't look up from his desk, his focus always on his work. Outside the rain battered the side of Vosgotis, Gaiseric always left the shutters open to better hear the rain. The High Chief loved the rare occasions that rain graced the steppe, he found the pitter patter of droplets on the roof deeply soothing.

    The High Chiefs apartment was a mass of books, paper-strewn desks and a bed that seemed eternally unmade, Gaiseric lived a near ascetic lifestyle for the most part, his primary focus always on his work. He sat hunched over an ancient writing desk, it was red lacquered oak and according to myth stolen by a chieftain during a particularly lucrative raid four centuries ago, now it was buried under a mass of paper and wine cups.

    Alric reached for an apple, the fruit bowl was overflowing with things the Gaiseric never touched, Gaiseric stared up at Alric with a raised eyebrow

    'Always eating! its a wonder you aren't as big as a mammoth by now!' Gaiseric said with feigned annoyance

    Alric shrugged and bit into the apple with an audible crunch 'Hey if I don't they will just rot away in that bowl, do you ever eat brother?' Alric responded with a smirk

    Gaiseric sighed and reached for his wine cup, already half empty, he despised extravagance, wine represented the one pleasure he allowed himself. He drained the cup and set it down on the desk, Predicean wine always lightened his mood

    I'm going to need more bottles if I keep indulging he thought with rolling his eyes, he had been drinking more lately, the impending war had a way of fraying the nerves. He stared down at the map beneath him, Karg land was encircled by small wooden figures, an adder for the Kimbri, a green wolf for the Volkmann and a brown bear for the Hureg. Three of the five great clans now stood united in their war with Ulli, the Rugen meanwhile had retreated into their wastes, eager to maintain neutrality.

    'Did you hear from Ana?' Alric asked as he warmed his hands on the fire

    Three words delivered via radio had been all he had needed from the Adder Queen 'Sword' 'Vindication' 'Patience'

    'The deal was a success, we have the armaments we need' Gaiseric replied pouring himself another cup of wine as he did so

    'I still don't know why you need rockets to fight horsemen' Alric said tossing the remains of the apple into the fire

    Spectacle Gaiseric thought grimly

    'Do you remember the day our father died?' Gaiseric said a sympathetic look in his eyes

    Alric winced visibly at the memory as though he had torn the stitches on a newly dressed wound, it was an ugly memory, the decimation of clan Volkmann was twenty years old and the scars were far from healed

    'i try not to, there wasn't enough of our father left to spread across the altar' Alric said now gazing intently into the fireplace, his expression one of visible discomfort

    The Decimation had nearly undone the Volkmann, their raiding finally attracting modern enemies to them. The foreign soldiers had torn the clan to pieces, shells, and missiles raining down upon the hopelessly outgunned bondsmen, Hunneric had died a grim death...blown apart by a random shell...a sad end to a great warrior...

    Gaiseric had barely escaped himself, dragged from the field by his father's remaining bondsmen before the entire clan could be wiped out. Gaiseric had spent the next decade rebuilding, making his clan a force to be reckoned with once more, modernity had left an indelible mark that day...his people had to be saved

    'That was the day we realized the old ways were no longer sustainable, we were the first clan to suffer at modernities hand, The proof was beyond contest' Gaiseric said finally, voice low and somber

    Alric gazed up from the fire a quizzical expression on his face 'what does this have to do with Karg separatists?' he said in a hard tone

    Gaiseric took a sip of his wine and leaned forward in his chair, he locked eyes with his brother 'Spectacle brother, the karg will never accept our vision peacefully...we need to demonstrate to them the full horror of modernity, the rockets are a message' Gaiseric said grimly

    Alric stood in complete silence for a moment, deep in thought, the rain outside hammered the roof endlessly, suddenly it sounded very much like hammer blows. Alric shrugged after a few moments of silence.

    'This is your plan? to exterminate an entire clan!?' Alric said angrily

    'No brother, the Karg are needed, but Ulli must die and his archaic beliefs must be shown to be in error, if there was any other way I would have taken it' Gaiseric replied in a calming tone

    Alric glared at him apprehensively, regarding his elder brother with a scornful eye for the briefest of seconds.

    'I pray so Gaiseric, I'm afraid that this war is going to dirty our home forever afterward' he said in a tired voice

    more then dirtied brother Gaiseric thought grimly changed forever
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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    Ulli sat in the darkness, only a small candle illuminated his host, the flickering flame adding an eerieness to an already fearful place. Shadows danced on the cave walls as the light struggled against its inevitable extinguishing.

    Urlf the blind sat in front of Ulli, his milky eyes seeming to stare off into eternity, he had once been Urlf the slayer, in another life he had sent men screaming to the afterlife, now he merely communed with the dead. He had been a feared warrior, his fierce visage the last thing many men ever saw until the gods had taken his sight. the loss of his eyes had led to the gaining of a new vision, the powers of the seer granting Urlf insights into things beyond mortal understanding.

    Ulli had been to this cave only once before, as a boy with his father, it frightened him just as much now as it did then, every time the candle briefly revealed Urlf's vacant face Ulli felt a chill run up his spine. It took a lot to make a Karg afraid, they faced war and death with savage abandon, but the priests of Ziu certainly managed to do just that. The seers were the creatures of the immortal god and were not fully of this world, that alone made them alien and frightening, worthy of both respect and caution.

    'Why have you come, son of Karg?' Urlf asked in a weary, droning voice

    Ulli felt his heart beat like a hammer to the chest, how had Urlf known it was him? surely he could not, given his blindness, and yet he did. Ulli breathed in and swallowed hard.

    'I come seeking the future' Ulli said trying to sound confident and trying to hide how unnerved he was

    Urlf raised his head and seemed to lock eyes with Ulli 'Surely those milky orbs cannot see me!?' he thought looking away from that ghoulish stare

    'Many men seek the future, few accept it and fewer still appreciate what they see' Url said a frown lining his ancient features

    'I don't care, I need to know' Ulli replied trying to make his tone sound certain

    Urlf rose without a word and hobbled over to a large unlit brazier 'Come then Ulli Son of Kragen' he said beckoning Ulli forward

    Urlf lit the brazier and reached into his pocket, he pulled out a pouch filled with white powder and hurled it into the fire. The room filled with a noxious stink, even Ulli, infamous for his constitution, felt the urge to wretch. Urlf breathed in the foul smoke and began to convulse and mutter, as though wracked by unseen seizures.

    Moments passed as Urlf twisted and writhed on the spot when the spasms subsided the blind priest stood with hunched shoulders. Urlf raised his head and locked eyes with Ulli as though he still could see him, Ulli felt transfixed by that horrific gaze.

    'I speak for Ziu' Urlf said in a low, guttural voice that sounded more like a wild animal than a man

    'What do you see?' Ulli asked his voice fearful for the first time in many years

    'A wild Dog fighting a green wolf, an adder poised to strike at the hound's feet, a bear waits at the edge of the clearing to devour the loser...the wolf is crowned and its jaws reach for the neck of the dog' Urlf said in that unnatural voice

    Urlf suddenly began to wobble, exhausted and visibly sweating, the priest steadied himself with his one remaining hand, the other had been severed long ago in emulation fo Ziu. Urlf lowered himself to the floor and sat breathing deeply for several minutes, Ulli's mind raced at the thought of what the prophecy might mean.

    'Is it fated? is the wolf destined to win?' Ulli asked trepidatiously

    Urlf sighed wearily 'The gods only show me visions, it is for the receiver to interpret, perhaps it is predestined, perhaps the dog can still evade his rivals death blow, perhaps this is only one possible future, the answers can only be found within one's own self' he said reaching for a bottle of foul-smelling mares milk and drinking deeply

    'Now leave son of Karg, I must rest' Urlf said waving Ulli off with his stump as Stutenmilch dripped from his lips onto his dirtied robe

    Ulli left the cave, the walk to the entrance feeling like an ascent from some darkened underworld, the open steppe greeted him with a cool breeze and warm sunlight. Ulli breathed in the fresh air, the vile stink of Urlf's powders fading.

    Helbrandt sat not far from the entrance, Ulli's cousin guarding the horses while he descended to meet the seer. Helbrandt stared up at Ulli quizzically, it was an odd expression to see on the face of a man of seven feet.

    'What did he have to say?' Helbrant asked passing Ulli a skin of water

    Ulli took a deep swig and then passed the skin back to Helbrandt, he felt less sick in the open steppe but the seer's dark words still chilled him to the bone.

    'The wolf is crowned and its jaws reach for the neck of the dog' The Volkman are closing in, Ulli thought grimly

    He wondered if he had just been told he was doomed to die...its jaws reach for the neck of the dog...

    'He saw a dog and a wolf fighting, the wolf was reaching to bite the neck of the dog' Ulli said his tone uncertain

    Helbrandt scratched his beard with a mailed hand and seemed to contemplate the words for a moment 'If I was the Dog...id try and bite the wolfs neck first' he said finally

    Ulli suddenly felt inspiration filling his mind 'That's it!' he said clapping his cousin on the shoulder

    'What is?' Helbrandt asked with a raised eyebrow

    Ulli grinned 'We have to bite the wolf first, he is the one we must slay' he replied the grin spreading across his face and taking on a maniacal aspect

    Helbrandt seemed confused 'Meaning what cousin?' he asked

    'Neuanfang...we will strike there...and sever the head of this wolf before it can summon its allies to corner us' Ulli said excitedly

    The rising sun suddenly seemed like a sign from Ziu, Ulli would not bow to vision...he would seize his destiny.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
  8. North Timistania

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    The fire rained from the sky, screams filled the air as flesh burned and bodies exploded, Gaiseric stood on the hill watching as the valley below writhed in a man-made inferno. He saw his father, Hunneric, gazing up at him, he was screaming

    'RUN!!! RUN!!!' The long-dead chieftain called out

    And then it descended, a rain of shells, he watched frozen in place, the sea of flame engulfing his father, a hand still raised in Gaiseric's direction as the flesh and everything else was consumed.

    'RUN!' A screaming voice called out

    RUN YOU FOOL!

    Gaiseric awoke with a start and reached for the wineskin by his bedside, he was covered in sweat and panting hard as he gulped down the red hungrily. The dream was always the same, that terrible day repeated endlessly, it always became more frequent when he was stressed, and an inter-clan war tended to be a good source.

    'Today is the day' he thought grimly as he rose from the bed

    He washed quickly, the icy water shocking him into alertness, then he was pulling on his cloak and heading for the door. Today would permit no delays, he descended the stairs of the great keep, his bodyguards falling into step behind him as he left the room. The great door to the keep was pulled open with a loud creak, the sunrise blinding as it streamed in from the new opening.

    Outside the courtyard was full of armed bondsmen, warriors from across the Volkmann lands, men and women in chainmail, furs and even occasionally camouflage filled the stone plaza. The daily tasks of weapon cleaning, ammo checks and packing halted briefly as everyone stood to attention and slammed fists to chests in the traditional salute.

    'Long Live Gaiseric!' the assembled warriors shouted in unison, their voices echoing in the morning air

    He held up a hand to silence them before stepping forward and placing a booted foot on a nearby crate for dramatic effect, he regarded his advance party approvingly, clan veterans each one and all willing to follow and if need be die for him.

    'Today we go west! there we shall unite with the Kimbri forces and march upon Kargland!' his voice was loud and clear and the last part was met with a fierce roar of approval, he held up his hand to silence the cheers again

    'Ulli wants us to remain in the past, the duster king would have you all bury your heads in the ground, but we know that blindness leads only to submission! and we sons of Essalan shall never submit! today we march into a glorious new age!' he said yelling the last words for all to hear, the cheers could now not be silenced, fists were raised in approval and roars echoed across the steppe below.

    When the cheering died down he gave the order for final preparations to begin, they would embark for the west within the hour, bikes were fueled and technicals and trucks hummed as their engines were warmed.

    Alric was sat on a barrel in the corner of the yard, he was busily polishing and re-assembling his rifle with the trained hands of an expert, within a few moments, the weapon was once more whole and ready for the bloody work ahead. He nodded to Gaiseric as the older brother strode over to greet him

    'good speech, do hope this new age is going to have a victory feast though' Alric said giving a mischievous grin before shouldering his rifle

    Gaiseric rolled his eyes in mock annoyance 'always eating! you needn't worry, when all this is done, we'll drink from Ulli's personal larder!' he said encouragingly

    Alric's smile died for a moment 'hmmm, it could get messy in Kargland, the son's of Thurderic are not known for being great warriors without good reason, let's hope there's enough of us left to enjoy that larder' he said face suddenly serious

    Gaiseric sighed, Alric was not wrong, the Karg were fierce foes, and they would know their own lands better then any outsider could ever hope to.

    'That's why I'm sending you north' he said giving Alric a look that suggested he wanted this was an order rather than a choice

    Alric shrugged 'north? correct me if I'm wrong but I thought Kargland was in central Essalanea' he said quizzically

    'it is Alric, and you will be with me when we seize victory, but I need someone to organize our garrison in Neuanfang...and then to lead the main Volkmann force to meet me on the plain' he said locking eyes with Alric

    Alric seemed taken aback by this 'You mean....you want me to..' he didn't get chance to finish

    'I'm giving you command of the main Volkmann clan company, I go-ahead to lead the alliance, You, brother are to gather our kin and then join me, we are going to march on Ulli together!' He said with a smile before clapping Alric's shoulder

    'I shall see you on the steppe brother, Stay upright!' Alric said clasping his brother's hand

    'True to Essalan!' they both said before releasing

    Gaiseric strode off towards his motorcycle, the rev of the Ehrengarde's own steel horses now filling the air with a deafening cacophony of engine roar. Alric regarded his own steel horse, Neuanfang was less than a days ride from Vosgotis, a sudden excitement filled him. He had worried his brother intended to leave him to rot in Neuanfang, but instead, he had just been given the entire clan company to command.

    'My brother just made me warchief!' he thought with a smirk before grabbing his pack and heading for the bike.

    All sound on the Steppe was drowned out, hundreds of engines filling the air with their unmistakable call, it was like a machines hymn to war

    'Onward to Modernity!' Alric said with a wolfish grin, he pulled the ignition and kicked back the stand before speeding off down the winding streets and into the plains below, a cloud of dust trailed the departing warband like the herald of some vast storm.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  9. North Timistania

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    The fires of the Kimbri encampment glittered in the darkness like a thousand tiny stars, a sea of Yurts stretched across the plain, the western clan had taken up a position on a tall hill overlooking the entry into Kargland. The sparse grass and rounded hills of the Kimbri camp soon began to give way to the jagged rock and elevated terrain of Kargland.

    The Volkmann column breathed a collective sigh of relief as they saw it, the promise of warm beds and full bellies was inviting after a day of hard riding. They must have looked like ghosts, Gaiseric thought, their bikes and clothing caked in dust from the journey. The convoy slowed, giving the trucks and technicals time to catch up.

    'Now that is a beautiful sight!' one of Gaiseric's captains said with a relieved look

    Gaiseric nodded 'Indeed, its been a long day, once we reach the camp the men can eat and rest, they have earned it' he said raising his hand to signal the advance

    They reached the Kimbri not long after, a horn blowing to alert the sentries, a row of torch-bearing snake sisters advanced out from the shadows, followed by several armed bondswomen. Gaiseric was suddenly conscious of the countless high powered rifles being trained upon him.

    'wouldn't be a proper kimbri welcome without a few threats of violence' he thought with a grin

    'Who are you and what is your business here!? speak now or we will fire!' a female voice called out from the darkness, the tone suggested the sentries would tolerate no nonsense

    'I am Gaiseric Volkmann, Son of Hunneric and High Chief of the Steppe, I come to join my forces with those of Anegrette of Kimbri' he said in a booming voice, years of political training had given him the ability to sound chiefly at will

    The sentries lowered their weapons slightly, one of them running back into the camp, a few moments later more sentries appeared, at the center of this new column was Anegrette, Gaiseric's heart started to beat a little faster with anticipation.

    Her dark hair was tied in a braid and crowned by a simple bronze circlet, her face as always was a mix of lithe angular beauty and cold menace. Her steely grey eyes had always been a warning to anyone stupid enough to believe she was beauty alone, the paramount chief of the west was rightly feared and respected, to do otherwise was to court a swift death.

    'Gaiseric, I was expecting you sooner' she said locking her gaze upon him for a moment before shifting to regard his column 'And with more men' she said her tone disappointed

    Gaiseric smiled and motioned to his convoy with an outstretched hand 'My personal guard, Alric will bring the full force of clan Volkmann in a days time' he said in a reassuring voice

    Anegrette seemed to soften at that, a slight smirk appeared on her face 'See that he does! we kimbri like slaughter, but my sisters and I are not in the habit of fighting another person's wars for them' she said the ice in her tone beginning to thaw

    'Nor would I expect you to! when the advance comes, the sons of Valk will march alongside the daughters of Saskia' he said making sure his voice was loud enough for all to hear

    At this Anegrette laughed 'I hope your men can keep up! Come now, you must be weary and the campfires are far more inviting than the chill of the steppe!' she said motioned them through

    ***********************************************************************************
    The fire in the center of Anegrette's tent crackled away contentedly as she added more fuel, the coals burning brightly and casting shadows around the room. Gaiseric was sat on cushions opposite her, he sipped wine from a wooden cup, she smirked and reached for her own.

    'You and your wine Gai, I'll never understand what you see in that stuff, Vodka is far more entertaining' she said gulping down a mouthful of her drink and enjoying the burn as it descended her gullet

    Gaiseric finished his cup and set it down 'Its an acquired taste I suppose' he said with a sigh

    They sat for a few moments in comfortable silence, they didn't have a need to fill the air with empty words in order to enjoy one another's company. Eventually, Gaiseric, his expression thoughtful, rose and regarded the hide map on the wall of the tent, Kargland's borders were marked by notes and pins.

    'He won't make it easy, Kargland has no fixed settlements, and they know the land better than anyone' he said scratching his chin in frustration

    Anegrette filled her cup with more vodka and regarded the map 'My scouts are spreading out across Kargland, when the time is right we will know where Ulli is and when to tighten the noose around his neck' she said, enjoying the thought of Ulli being strangled to death

    Gaiseric did not seem reassured by her words 'He's no fool, quick to anger yes but a proven warrior and leader as well, if we can't force him into open battle this war could drag out for years' he said grimly

    'Then we best put this wild dog down quickly' Anegrette said setting down her cup

    Gaiseric sighed and sat down again, warming his body near the brazier, Anegrette was soon lying next to him, contented silence shared between them.

    'When this is over, we shall have much to do Gai, the steppe needs leaders who can give it a better future' Anegrette said clasping his hand in her own

    Gaiseric nodded, the cold had long since left his bones, banished by Anegrette and the fireplace

    'A new age awaits Ana, and together we are going to usher it in, but first Ulli has to die' he said his voice a mixture of excitement and regret

    'And die he shall' Anegrette thought, she was already pondering the many thousands of ways that end might be achieved.

    They gazed into the fire together, like seers trying to decipher the future in the flames.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  10. North Timistania

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    A scream filled the morning air, Gaiseric awoke with a start and grabbed his sword, outside the sounds of alarms, gunfire, and shrieks drowned out everything else with their cacophony. Anegrette grabbed her rifle and pulled back the hammer with a satisfying click.

    'Karg' she said rushing out the entrance, Gaiseric followed his blade drawn

    Outside bondsmen raced to grab weapons and man defenses, a rocket screeched past Gaiseric and slammed into a nearby technical, a shower of burning metal and limbs raining down upon the camp as it detonated.

    'Get those Mortars Firing!' Anegrette yelled as she strode through the camp, her voice was loud and rose above the chaos, her bondswomen soon began to rally

    The plain below was filled with several hundred screaming Karg, a decent sized war party by any standard, horses, and motorcycles kicked up dust as they strafed the hilltop camp, bullets, and rockets raining down upon the surprised defenders.

    'Firing Lines! Now!' Anegrette ordered, her Bondswomen took up positions and began to return fire in disciplined volleys

    below men began to fall, heads and chests pierced by well-placed bullets, Gaiseric saw one Karg fall back with the top half of his head missing his weapon still firing erratically as he fell from his horse.

    'My Lord! what are your orders?' a bloodied Volkmann asked as he hastily knelt

    Gaiseric pulled the bondsman up and pointed 'We need to get to the bikes!' he yelled grabbing his horn and blowing

    His men heard the signal and began to rush to Gaiseric as he moved towards their waiting motorcycles, above him a thumping noise became noticeable, followed by the shriek of falling shells. The Kimbri mortars had begun firing on the Karg.

    Explosions rocked the valley below as men, screaming horses and machinery were all ripped apart by fiery impacts from the mortars. Gaiseric leapt onto his green motorcycle and reached for a lance, they would meet the Karg in the old way, on the open steppe.

    He pulled the ignition on his bike, one hundred veterans mimicking his action in Unison, the Volkmann banner was raised by the standard bearer and the ancient battle cry roared by the assembled warriors, blades, lances and rifles raised in salute to Ziu above.

    'FORWARD UNTO GLORY!!!!' Gaiseric called out, his warriors responded with a deafening roar

    They raced out of the camp, down towards the plain below, a bondsman next to Gaiseric was ripped from his bike by a stray bullet, his face consumed in a red mist. The slain man fell from his bike and was crushed beneath the still moving wheels of his comrades. They charged onward warcries still bellowing, into the sea of dust, horses, and wheels below.

    Gaiseric's Standard Bearer raised the banner triumphantly, the Volkmann formed a wedge and charged right into the middle of the Karg. The storm of dust enveloped everything, bikes smashed into each other sending men flying from their saddles, swords hacked off heads, limbs and cut deep lines into screaming faces. Gaiseric saw a wild-haired Karg bondsman drive towards him, his braided Gray hair and crazed face like some dust demon from an old legend.

    Gaiseric steadied his lance and revved his engine, the two bikes raced towards each other, at the last minute Gaiseric pulled to the side and pressed the lance tip into the Karg's chest, the blade impaled the bondsman with an impact that sent him flying from his saddle in a spray of blood, Gaiseric let go of the blade as it hit and drew his sword.

    Nearby the battle had degenerated into single combat, Gaiseric's veterans against the Karg raiders, he saw one of his captains crushed beneath the hooves of an enemy mount, watched as a fuel tank exploded on a Karg bike and sent the burning rider skidding to the ground. Gaiseric saw the Karg banner and revved his engine.

    The Karg Standard bearer saw him and lowered the banner so that the tip was aimed at Gaiseric, racing towards each other they both screamed out as their wheels collided, throwing them both from their mounts. Gaiseric landed on his side, the rocky ground tearing into his shoulder and leaving a bloody scrape where it passed. Gaiseric struggled to his feet just in time to see the enraged standard bearer charging towards him on foot, the banner still gripped firmly in his bloodied hands.

    Gaiseric realized his sword was missing, he was unarmed, he stood his ground wondering if his time to die had arrived, then a shot rang out and the standard bearer fell, plunging the banner into the dirt as he died. Anegrette stood nearby rifle still smoking.

    'What would you do without me Gai!?' she said throwing him a sword 'Come, we still have Karg to gut!' she said as the battle continued to rage around them

    By now the Kimbri had joined the melee, Kimbri snake sisters with their long knives and curved swords rushed amongst the combatants, pulling men from horses, gutting men with lethal strikes and charging into the fray on their own motorcycles.

    A snake sister rushed past Gaiseric screaming a battle cry with her blade raised, her red and black warpaint making her appear more demonic then human, she tackled a mounted Karg from his horse and plunged her blade into his neck, she was soon drenched in the dead mans blood.

    'I'm glad they are on my side' Gaiseric thought

    He pulled his bike from the ground, it was scarred but still roared when he revved the engine, he raced towards a Karg warrior who was beating one of his bondsmen with bare hands, Gaiseric sliced downwards, the mans head was severed clean off as the blade sliced through the neck as though it was carving the air alone.

    He raised his bloodied sword as the bike stormed across the open plain 'For Ziu and Essalanea! FORWARD UNTO GLORY!!!' he roared, across the plain similar roars echoed as the Karg fell by the hundreds
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  11. North Timistania

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    A sharp sting ran through Gaiseric's now bandaged shoulder, battered and bruised he watched from a wooden throne as they dragged the last Karg into the tent and hurled him to the ground. Anegrette stood next to Gaiseric, her hand resting upon the hilt of her sword as though she was deciding whether to listen to the prisoner or gut him.

    Gaiseric leaned forward, ignoring the dull ache as he did so, the man kneeling before him was an unusual sight upon the steppe, he was old. The Karg's wrinkled face and white hair marked him as a clan elder, a strange soul to see on the battlefield. Gaiseric regarding him with a perplexed look.

    'Is Ulli so cruel as to send old men to fight his wars for him?' Gaiseric asked with a raised eyebrow

    The Karg laughed rasping through broken ribs and then spat in Gaiseric's direction 'we still managed to take a few of you with us, Volkmann, looks like we left a mark on you as well' he said mockingly, a grin spreading across his bloodied face

    'You fought well on the plain Karg, but you still haven't answered my question, why did Ulli send elders to fight here?' Gaiseric replied in a calm voice, ignoring the taunt

    The Karg wheezed heavily as he took each breath, he would not last much longer, he forced out another mocking laugh 'He told us that our sacrifice would allow him to cut off the wolfs head while we held back the bitch and her snakes!' He said adding all the venom he could muster into the last words

    'Meaning? that wound is going to kill you Karg, and I can offer you a far more honorable passage to the Seelewald then drowning in your own blood, but mercy hinges on clarity' Gaiseric said noting the growing stain of red on the elder's chest

    The Karg coughed up another gobbet of blood and spat before speaking in a weary voice 'Neuanfang, my lord marches on Neuanfang and while you attempt to breach our homeland we shall burn yours!' he said laughing and coughing as he did so

    Anegrette stepped forward and without a word drew her blade and sliced across his neck with a killing arc, the Karg fell backward blood gushing from his neck, two bondsmen hauled the corpse out of the tent as it kicked and gurgled in the throes of death.

    Gaiseric sat back and breathed heavily 'Ziu preserve us! Neuanfang!' he said, heart, pounding as he did so
     
  12. North Timistania

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    A cold wind blew across the steppe, Eboric Volkmann winced as the chill ran through his aching joints, at 60 Eboric was still every bit the 'Angry Boar' his nickname suggested with his thick build and imposing beard, one did not reach 60 on the Essalanean steppe by accident.

    However Eboric could not deny the years were starting to weigh upon him, he was frequently sore, he hated the cold and even with all his senses intact, he knew it was only a matter of time before he noticed symptoms of declining years. At his age, Eboric could have taken up a relaxed position of a clan elder, but the thought of idling away his later day's railing off genealogy and myths did not appeal, he still longed for the warrior's death that had eluded him in his youth.

    And so the angry boar maintained his lifelong position as bondsman of the watch, gazing out across the horizon and hoping that one day an enemy would appear and bring a heroic death with them, it was a hope that seemed to grow more distant with each day. Far from death in battle, most days consisted of constant scanning of the distance, Bad Coffee and endless lighting of his pipe.

    From his position on the wall Eboric could see the entire span of the northern steppe, behind him the bustle of Neuanfang with its foreign markets, rowdy meal halls and the endless comings and goings of some three hundred thousand souls, in front of him the steppe, a vast plain of hills and scrub grass that stretched out as far as the eye could see.

    Bored he reached for his radio and signalled the gatehouse 'Hesseric whats the status of the gate?' he asked his tone weary

    'Traders, sheep and a few farmers, unless the sheep are Karg in disguise I think we're in for another dull watch' Hesseric replied, Eboric could almost see the gate guards wide smirk

    'wouldn't even know there was a war on' Eboric thought with annoyance

    The months since the war was declared had been full of rumours and speculation, stories of border skirmishes, clans being wiped off the face of Eras and armies gathering, no one could be sure what was real and the magnitude of the rumours grew more ridiculous with each telling. On a quiet day in Neuanfang, it all seemed utterly surreal.

    'Maybe if I'm lucky I'll die of boredom before this watch ends' Eboric though glumly as he reached for his pipe tobacco

    A single, long, booming noise pierced the morning air, Eboric dropped his pipe and reached for his binoculars. A vast cloud of dust covered the far steppe, the sound of stamping feet and banging drums obliterating the previous tranquillity. Eboric waited for figures to become visible, his heart pounding as the banner of a wild steppe dog came into view.

    'Karg!' He hissed, grabbing his radio

    'Hesseric! get those gates closed' he barked as he grabbed his rifle

    'There must be hundreds! No...Thousands!' he thought his heart pounding

    Below him, the city began to descend into chaos as gates were shut and alarms began to blare, crowds of screaming and shouting Bondsman were filling the streets their terror growing greater with each passing moment. Eboric peered through the scope of his rifle at the oncoming horde, he could make out the steady rhythmic sound of war chanting a barking noise repeated by thousands.

    Eboric could not resist grinning as the sounds of the approaching Karg blotted out all other sounds, Death had, at last, come to find him.
     
  13. North Timistania

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    Ulli watched from the hill as his clan company massed below him, seven thousand Bondsman gathered as one force, the sound of horses and motorbikes filled his ears like the deafening roar of some great beast. He had brought every man he could spare to the Volkmann lands, their passage bought with the lives of almost half the clans veteran warriors who had sacrificed themselves to distract Gaiseric.

    He felt as though he could split the very mountains as he surveyed his army from the saddle of his bike, thousands of voices chanted the clans ancient battle cry, a guttural bark that was amplified into a roar by the multitudes below. The banners of the clan flowed gently in the breeze as they were held aloft, the wild dog proudly displayed for all to see, The Karg had come to do battle.

    'Ulli, the Mortars are in position!' A booming voice called to him over the cacophony, it was his cousin the giant Helbrandt, the first sword knelt briefly before rising to stand at his chieftains side

    Ulli grinned and clapped Helbrandt on the shoulder before them stood the vast city of Neuanfang, its high stone walls and the vast sea of buildings within stood out like a challenge to everything the Karg held dear, its very existence seemed an affront to the old ways.

    'Look upon this Volkmann edifice cousin, I shall level it!' Ulli said raising a hand in signal 'Fire the mortars!' he bellowed

    At his command the thump of countless weapons began, the sky filled with projectiles as the Karg began their assault. This invasion had required the investment of all the Karg's ancient arsenal, countless weapons and armaments, most hoarded from old Iterian war stock, he had gathered every weapon and every man able to fire them.

    The walls of Neuanfang were soon pockmarked with hundreds of explosions, teams of Karg armed with RPGs ran towards the gates their arms ready to crack open the vaunted steel doors of Neuanfang. Ulli turned to Helbrandt and locked eyes on his cousin.

    'As soon as the gates are breached lead the men inside, kill everyone you find' he said in a glacial tone

    Helbrandt gave him a worried look 'Everyone Ulli?! what about the wounded? the unarmed? surely you don't mean me to...' Ulli cut him off with a raised palm before he could finish

    'The vision was clear cousin, either we cut of the wolfs head here and now, or they will destroy our clan, it is them or us!' he said in a voice that would brook no argument

    Helbrandt sighed and tapped his fist against his chest in salute 'As you wish cousin, it will be done' he said moving off to join the warriors below

    Ulli was left alone then, a solitary figure on the hill, he frowned and waited for the doors to break

    'This Day the Volkmann meet their end, they must!' he thought grimly

    The world descended into screams and detonations
     
  14. North Timistania

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    Fire and screams filled Eboric's ears as he rose painfully to his feet, blood oozed from the side of his face where shrapnel had left a long gash. He stumbled forward and beheld the carnage around him, a young bondsman lay on the ground his corpse still grasping a clan banner between dead hands, Eboric pulled the banner free of the pole and wrapped around himself.

    The walls were a charnel house, dead men and rubble covered the walkways, he gazed over to the gatehouse, machine guns still firing as the defenders attempted to hold back the seemingly endless waves of Karg. He forced himself to move ignoring the pain in his bruised knees, he broke into a run as bullets and shells shrieked past.

    Inside the gatehouse bondsmen fought a desperate holding action, machine guns fired roared as their burst fire raked the fields below and Hesseric attempted to coordinate the flailing defence from the radio. Eboric dragged himself over to where his kinsman was relaying messages and tapped him on the shoulder.

    'Old Boar! You live!' Hesseric said embracing Eboric in a bear hug

    Eboric regarded the room around them, men were rushing back and forth carrying ammunition or firing shots from the slits in the walls, dust rained from the rafters as mortar shells impacted with the roof above. The rasping cough of a dying bondsman could be heard, her lungs riddled with bullet wounds, she slumped forward blood pooling on the cobbles.

    'We can't hold them long Eb!' Hesseric said fearfully

    Eboric nodded, he knew they had no chance of stopping this, they had been taken by surprise and now they were paying the price in the lives of good men and women. Eboric felt calm despite the chaos around him, he had after all longed for this moment, a heroic death was within reach. And yet he knew that more was at stake than his dream of a good end, he knew there were thousands of his people below, he had to buy them time to reach the safety of the Citadel.

    The Cities hill fortress was the seat of power, it was also the most fortified location in northern Essalanea, it was the only place that could hope to hold back the Karg for any true length of time. Eboric knew he was a dead man, but his death could save thousands, they just needed time!

    He reached for the radio and spoke 'This is Eboric Volkmann! Brothers and Sisters, I will speak plainly, these walls cannot hold long, I know many of you are scared, many of us have already given our lives for the clan, I know that if you stay on these walls you are going to die, but if we flee now we doom thousands of our kin below to a cruel death at the hands of savages! So I ask, stand with me now!' He said pausing

    He gazed around the room, scared men and women continued to fight despite knowing it was hopeless, he felt a surge of pride, he could not have chosen better to die beside. he reached for the microphone once more

    'Long live Gaiseric! FOR CLAN VOLKMANN!' he said before putting down the radio and picking up his rifle

    Hesseric regarded him with a look of awe 'guess the stories about you weren't all made up' he said with a grin

    Eboric smiled 'just the good ones' he said as before taking up a position

    The few remaining guns and wall defences began to ring out in unison, it seemed no one was running today.
     
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    Standing now amongst his assembled bondsmen Helbrandt watched as the city gates began to bend and break beneath the endless onslaught of rockets and mortar fire, a final strike exploded and tore the gates wide open. He looked up at the battered walls, amazingly some of the defenders were still firing, Helbrandt felt a surge of pity for the Volkmann, they were fighting for their homes and doing so with immense bravery.

    He looked around at his men, countless kin all summoned here for a sacred purpose, they knew what was at stake, defeat the Volkmann here or risk annihilation. The countless faces all betrayed the emotion of the moment, fear, excitement and even hope. Helbrandt drew his sword and pointed to the now breached gate.

    'Children of Thurderic! today we fight to preserve our way of life! today we march to prevent a genocide of our people by those who would lead us astray! put aside fear, bury mercy and charge with me to victory!' He yelled, roaring the last part for effect.

    Thousands of voices responded with a deafening roar, the Karg began to surge forward as one. Helbrandt ran for the gate his blade drawn, around him men and women fell to Volkmann fire, they advanced heedless to the cost, each knew what might be required. They poured into the city like water through a sieve, any who stood in their way were mowed down by rifle fire or hacked apart by brutal strikes from Karg blades.

    The stink of smoke and fire filled Helbrandts nostrils as he strode across the cobbled streets, around him buildings burned and warriors rampaged. Any discipline at this point was gone, they had breached the walls and now the grisly business of looting and massacre began. Helbrandt was no stranger to the horrors of a raid, but he could not forget the words his cousin had uttered.

    'Leave no one alive' The words sent a shiver down his spine, he was a warrior not a murderer of innocents, and yet now his chieftain asked him to kill without honour!? he buried the feelings as best he could and continued his path through the streets

    The younger bondsmen had already lost discipline and were busy pillaging and burning with anarchic glee, it was his veterans that would carry the battle now, five hundred seasoned warriors marched behind Helbrandt. They cared nothing for the petty trophies and excesses of lesser warriors, they would win glory that would bring prestige to their bloodlines for generations to come. The Volkmann Citadel beckoned and Helbrandt intended to plant a Karg flag on its highest tower.
     
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  16. North Timistania

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    Eboric's entire world was reduced to the narrow focus of his scope, he gazed down at the charging horde and selected a burly looking Karg warrior who was screaming a war cry as he rushed forward and squeezed the trigger of his rifle. The bullet ripped through the man's throat and he fell forward dead, Eboric ducked behind the wall as the enemy returned fire.

    Hesseric was still manning the machine gun, showering the enemy with disciplined bursts of fire, Eboric looked around and noted that they were the only two left fighting, everyone else lay slumped and glassy-eyed. They had fought well, the surprised defenders had been able to buy precious time for many of the fleeing populace to reach safety, but they could hold no longer.

    A spray of bullets ripped through the walls and struck Hesseric, he collapsed with a pained wheeze, his uniform began to darken as blood seeped through the Volkmann greens. Eboric crawled towards him and grasped the now shaking man, Hesserics eyes were fearful as he went into shock.

    'Not...quite the day I expected...' he said breathlessly before going limp in Eboric's arms

    The old warrior closed Hesseric's eyes with a shaking palm and sat for a moment, the lone survivor of the gatehouse, tears ran down his face as he rose and gripped the machine gun in both hands. Eboric fired down upon the advancing Karg, an anguished cry of rage filling the air as he did so, below him enemies fell in droves, bodies torn to pieces by fire, he felt the weapon grow hot and continued firing without care.

    The weapon jammed as heat overtook it, he saw several mortar trails fill the distant air, he had attracted the attention of the enemy and now they were responding. He closed his eyes as the screech of the shells filled his ears.

    'Blessed Ziu, I come to thee!' he said as the roof collapsed and everything went dark
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  17. North Timistania

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    Darkness creeps across the benighted steppe, the lightless hours have always been a time of fear for the superstitious, a time when wolves and wights prowl the unlit plains searching for prey. On the Steppe the clans light fires and huddle together in defiance of the night, songs erupt in unison as they roar their challenge to all who would pollute Ziu's creation.

    Alric can certainly smell fire, but this is no normal scent, the reek of smoke and ash clings to his nostrils and chokes the air from his throat, he wraps his cloak tightly around his nose to seal off the noxious stink. Through dirtied goggles he sees it, a vast pyre burning in the near distance, but this is pyre is far greater then any bondsman's sendoff, it is the fiery death of an entire people. Neuanfang burns, its end serenaded by screams and gunfire, Alric runs through the darkness towards his dying city, a moth enticed towards its own immolation.
     
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  18. North Timistania

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    Alric ran through the fields, his mind was racing as he did so, he could feel his heart pounding like hammer blows against his chest and his breathing was frantic, a condition only intensified by the pall of burning smoke coating the air. One question echoed in his mind like a looping record

    'How!?' How had a city of 300,00 been overwhelmed? How had the Karg appeared in the north when their own lands were besieged?

    Alric knelt in the tall wheat field, he breathed deeply and tried to still the chaos in his mind, he needed to think like a warrior, abstract and immediate. Eyes closed he focused only on his breathing, longer and deeper breathes with each inhalation, calm returned and he began to get his bearings.

    The cities fields were a maze of dirt paths and tall squares of grasses, corn and granaries, many were now burning, but he could still make out the sound of voices and footsteps. Two Karg warriors were wandering down the path next to Alric's hiding place, they were gossiping idly as they walked, clearly, no sense of urgency pervaded the invader's thoughts.

    'Quite the display this morning! Didn't even know we had those mortars' one warrior exclaimed his voice betraying him as a young man, probably not even two summers beyond his rite of passage

    'Every clan has its stores, Ulli must have decided it was time to use ours' an older female voice replied gruffly

    Alric drew his long blade from its sheath and counted, they were nearly upon him, he waited as their footfalls grew louder. It was an ugly thing, long and sharpened to a lethal edge, the blade was blackened to prevent it glinting in the light, it bore no markings or decoration, it was a killing tool made for that purpose alone.

    'Still, they put up a good fight!' The younger bondsman continued, clearly the chatterbox of the group

    'I would expect nothing less, this was their home' the older bondsman replied

    Alric grinned as the footfalls stopped, directly in front of him, he raised the blackened blade and pounced on the nearest of the two, the younger man didn't have time to cry out as Alric sliced his throat in a brutal cutting arc and pushed him aside as he gurgled and bled to death, the older bondsman drew her blade startled by his sudden appearance.

    Alric easily sidestepped the older bondsman's blade as she swung at him fearfully, he gripped her wrist with one hand and squeezed her windpipe with the other.

    'This is my home dog! and the fight is far from over!' he said snarling the last word as her windpipe broke with a sickening crack

    He let the dying bondman fall to the ground, her body twitching limply as she suffocated, sheathing his blade he began moving. The gates to the city were wide open, he had to get inside and find out if anyone still fought. Alric moved like a killing shadow, no one would stand in his way.
     
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  19. North Timistania

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    It rained incessantly, likely attracted by the smoke from the fires raging in the Cimmerian quarter, Alric moved through empty and rain-drenched streets, his only company the countless dead who stared up with glassy accusing eyes. For a time he was almost convinced he was the only living soul left in Neuanfang, that notion was shattered by the sound of gunfire being exchanged.

    He watched from the rubble as Karg were mowed down by automatic fire that descended in a hail of bullets from the windows of the communal blocks. Between bursts of rifle fire insults could be heard, evidently, barbs were being traded alongside bullets.

    'Just surrender Volkmann! you're surrounded!' A Karg warrior yelled

    'I've got your mother surrounded up here too Karg!' a mans voice yelled back, mocking laughter followed as the guns started firing again

    'The clan still fights!' Alric thought his soul soaring, he had thought the battle over, evidently, his kinsfolk had not given up their home just yet

    Alric raised his rifle and took aim from the shadows, the leader of the Karg fireteam was easy to spot, a big lump of muscle and tattoos yelling orders and pointing aggressively at the buildings above. Alric waited until the gunfire reached cacophony and drowned out all sound, he fired a single shot. The officers head exploded like a ripe melon showering his terrified comrades in viscera.

    Eyes darted around searching for the source of their leader's death, but it was too late, Alric was already moving, the Volkmann pushed their advantage and emerged from cover to do battle in the open. The initial charge caught the confused Karg off guard and they were butchered, men died to hacking blades and bludgeoning from rifle butts. The battle was soon over, the Karg strewn across the cobbles and their blood mixing with the dirt and rainwater.

    Alric watched as the Volkmann led out a brief cheer, he emerged bearing his arm for all to see. The handful of Volkmann fighters looked worse for wear, their uniforms caked in blood and dirt, they looked like ghosts with their bloodied appearances and haggard faces.

    'Thank Ziu! didn't think id see another Volkmann out here!' the leader said with a look of pleased surprise

    'That makes two of us, what happened here?' Alric replied

    'What happened was every Karg with a trigger finger and sword arm decided to spill across the border, we the walls fell this morning, we were lucky they held as long as they did, we've been fighting running battles here in the Cimmerian quarter all day, this is no mans land' the leader said wearily, his face was caked in dirt and his brown eyes looked distant and strained

    Alric scratched his beard 'Do we still hold the city?' he asked cautiously

    'Like I said walls fell this morning, this is no man's land, the centre is the only place we still control' the leader said pointing to the distant fortress rising above the buildings below

    If the centre still held that implied someone might still be leading the remaining Volkmann forces, Alric had to get to the fortress and speak with whoever was in charge, there was still a chance to hold back the Karg!

    'Is anyone still in command?' Alric asked

    'Steward Adonsinda, though that amounts mostly to looped radio messages telling us to rally and make every house a fortress, I'm guessing she still lives but I can't tell, our radioman carked it along with half the squad' he said wearily

    'Can you lead me to her? i need to get this situation under control?' Alric asked pointing to the fortress for emphasis

    'who are you, stranger?' the squad leader asked confused

    'Call me Alric' He replied before moving

    'The First Sword!? ill be damned' the squad leader muttered in shock

    'Come on Totilla! he's quick!' one of the men called out

    He shrugged and started after him, around them the sound of gunfire filled the evening sky.
     
  20. North Timistania

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    A distant blast of artillery fire shook the fortress roof showering the everyone in the room with dust, Adosinda brushed the map irritably.

    'Those shots are getting closer to the mark' she said clicking her tongue in annoyance

    'Just as well they can't shoot for shit' one of her lieutenants muttered sarcastically

    'Accuracy won't matter if they get much closer' Adosinda replied with a roll of her eyes

    Adosinda Volkmann had served her clan loyally for over three decades as Steward of Neuanfang, there was little that could phase her but this invasion was certainly doing the trick. She felt the weight of age bearing down on her today, she must have looked twice as old as her fifty years to those around her. Her greying hair was tied in a fraying bun and her hazel eyes had visible bags beneath them, she had not slept in hours.

    'Steward! Unseric's bondsmen say they can't hold, they are requesting permission to fall back!' a dust-covered soldier bellowed from a nearby radio set

    She placed a steadying hand over her strained eyes 'Tell them to leave as many surprises for the Karg as they can and then to pull back to a more defensible position!' she yelled back

    She had been fighting running battles all day, her bondsmen would pick off as many Karg as they could but in the end, they would pull back and the invaders would advance, it was a losing battle and soon there would be nowhere left to retreat to.

    The only bright spot in a day of fighting retreat had been Eboric Volkmann's heroic last stand, the old boar had bought the clan vital time to regroup with his sacrifice. The walls had been the first place to fall, now half the Cimmerian district was aflame and awash with house to house battles.

    'If by some miracle I survive this day I swear ill have them build a statue of the old bastard' she thought mirthlessly

    'Steward!' a familiar voice rang out

    'What is it!? Who disturbs me!' she snarled in growing annoyance

    'Well I would have called ahead but the whole invasion thing is rather bad timing' A voice replied mischievously, she could almost see the sly smirk

    She turned to see Alric Volkmann standing before her

    'Alric!? we didn't think anyone had survived!' she said almost gasping

    'Eh what can I say, I'm hard to kill' he replied with a wolfish grin 'So Steward, shall we drive back these invaders?'
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  21. North Timistania

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    Helbrandt paced the cobbles angrily, his lieutenants followed his movements in fearful silence, progress had been slow, what should have been a slaughter had become a slog. The Volkmann had ground the Karg advance to a halt in the Cimmerian district and even though the invading force was gradually pushing them back it was not happening anywhere near fast enough.

    'This morning we had them fleeing before us, Now they have you fighting for every inch of street!' he yelled angrily, his officers bowed their heads like admonished children before an enraged father

    The attack on Neuanfang had been an immense gamble and now with each passing hour that the city remained unconquered that gamble became increasingly likely to fail. The Volkmann still had their radios and Helbrandt was certain they would be calling for help, if the city did not fall soon the Karg army would find itself surrounded.

    'My lord they are fighting like cornered animals! what would you have us do?!' one of the braver officers said in a shaky voice

    Helbrandt groaned and scratch his beard in frustration ' Shell every building if you have to! no more delays! we take that fortress tonight!' he bellowed

    An assault on the fortress would be bloody, men would die in droves, but it had to be done or the Volkmann would be able to delay defeat until relief could arrive.

    'My lord...even with the howitzers...there are miles of houses between us and that fortress...we could lose hundreds of men in the offensive' a female lieutenant chimed in fearfully

    'We will lose thousands if we attack, but thousands more if we delay any longer, no more excuses, get it done!' he said dismissing his lieutenants with a wave of his hand

    He sighed, they were not wrong about the likely casualties, Helbrandt knew he had to break the Volkmann now or be broken by them, in the depths of his mind he wondered if Ulli had finally gambled too much, he shoved the doubts down deeper and prepared himself for the coming battle.
     
  22. North Timistania

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    Gaiseric's shoulder felt like it was on fire, he ignored the pain and focused his attention on the map in front of him. The messages that had reached him from Neuanfang all sounded progressively more desperate, he knew he had to move quickly to relieve the city or risk seeing the greatest Clan in northern Essalanea wiped off of the face of Eras.

    'You've been staring at that map for nearly half an hour Gai, if it was going to tell you what to do it would have by now' Anegrette said in a gentle voice as she entered the tent

    'He played me like a two-string! and I took the bait! I swear if I ever get the chance I will make him watch as I wipe his mongrel clan out of existence!' Gaiseric snarled, his pride wounded by Ulli's trickery

    Anegrette laughed at that, it was a hollow mirthless laugh that reminded him of a mother finding amusement in a child's folly. He wasn't thinking clearly, his rage was clouding his judgement. She placed her hands on the map and moved a wooden block to the gates of Neuanfang.

    'This needn't be a defeat Gaiseric' she said pointing to the cities position

    'Funny, it feels like one, my capital is in flames and I am miles away, how is this not a defeat!?' he replied

    'Your city still holds son of Volkmann, and we are not more then a days march away' she said with a knowing grin

    'A pincer movement!' he exclaimed in excitement

    He gazed at the map and suddenly saw solutions emerge 'We will march to relieve my kin in Neuanfang and grind the Karg to mincemeat between our combined fronts!' he said slamming his fist on the table

    Anegrette nodded and summoned her herald 'Tell the warriors I want us ready to move in an hour, we march for Neuanfang with all haste!' she said, the Herald bowed and rushed off to deliver her message

    'This is it...the gamble that will decide who rules the steppe' Gaiseric said grimly

    Outside the camp roared into life with the sounds of soldiers preparing to move.