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