Make a Man out of You

This is a dark age, a bloody age, an age of daemons and of sorcery.

Make a Man out of You

Postby Gaius Marius » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:45 pm

‘It’s a high life in the Empire’s army boys,’ Captain Arnheim had said at the Hog and Hammer back in Altdorf, generously buying the eager crowd of street urchins another round of watered ale and roasted pig, ‘All the meat you can eat with the best training in the world, it will make men out of you!’

Clovis hadn’t had anything to eat in a day, not since the watch had started chasing him when the peasant he thought was dead had screamed for help. It didn’t help that his build was towards scrawny anyways.

‘And you’ll get one of these!’ he had said, drawing a perfect cruciform longsword from his side. The weapon was steel worked to a mirror finished. More than a meter and a half long, its hand span width was covered in dwaren runes.

Clovis didn’t even have his knife on him anymore, the crude iron weapon left behind when he ran.

‘You can cut through mail like it was butter with one of these! So it’s a good thing you’ll be getting a suit of plate to protect you!’ Arnheim had spoken again, banging a steel fist against his plastron.

At this, Clovis couldn’t help but rub his dirty hands over his ragged clothes.

‘And you’ll get gold! More money than you could ever spend! Why you can get drunk every night and still have enough to buy a tavern when you retire after ten years! Now who’ll be marching North with me?’

Clovis had been the first one to sign up, making an x on the Corporal’s scroll as his stomach growled with hunger. The alcohol was making his head swim and the Captain seemed like a grinning giant, impossibly friendly and competent.

‘We’ll make a man out of you boy!’ the Captain had grinned happily, on the bright clear day.
….

‘Stand you sacks of shit!’ Sergeant Arnulf was screaming now, striding behind the line of conscripts in a suit of rusting mail and waving his cleaver like sword. No one could see more than twenty feet off into the distance so thick was the fog, an endless white void with only the shadowy outline of trees suggesting they were in the Drakwald.

‘One of you shit stains moves an inch back and I will personally gut like a fish!’ he’d screamed again, smashing the flat of his blade onto the shoulder of one of the conscripts that had dared look back over his shoulder. Clovis didn’t turn his head to see the man stumble and almost fall, propping himself up with his pike haft.

‘Don’t say anything back to him,’ he snarled at his fellow recruit, ‘say anything back and he’ll kill you.’

‘First rank kneel! First rank kneel Sigmar damn you!’ Arnulf yelled, repeating an order from their captain, a vague shape off to the left, ‘Pikes forward and fixed, forward and fixed!’

At his order the long spears went forwards, a lethal barrier of barbed points held out at waist level and propped to the ground.

‘Second rank, spears high!’ the Sergeant balled again, slapping a slow recruit with the flat of his blade. Clovis’ rank pushed the pikes forwards, angled upwards from his waist to point out at chest level. There were three yards of oaken shaft out in front of him, the top meter sheathed in iron before turning into a foot of razored steel.

Thunder sounded on the right and vast shapes moved out of the fog, faster than anyone could have thought possible. The man on Clovis’ right dropped his spear and turned to run, only for the Sergeant’s cleaver to take him in the throat.

‘Pike’s up!’ Arnulf screamed, desperation in his voice. Only half of the conscripts obeyed in time and suddenly the scream of horses and the clash of metal sounded. Knights in the polished plate of the Reiksguard suddenly became distinct, their horses slamming into the partially formed pikewall. Horses screamed as the spears pierced their breasts and the knights were thrown off their feet. Three of the mounted warriors had been dismounted before the rest of the squadron sped away, disappearing off to the right.

Two of the knights lay still on the muddy ground, their necks and backs bent at lethal angles. The horses were still screaming, thrashing in the small sea of mud and gore that leaked from their bodies, their legs tangling with the spools of gut hanging from their ruptured stomachs. One knight stirred from the ground, pulling his leg out from beneath his dying horse and drawing a sword. His first blow took his horse in the throat, slitting the beast’s vast arteries in a spray of gore. Wordlessly, the noble stalked into the ranks of pike men before finding Sergeant Arnulf and knocking the man to the ground with a blow from his fist before marching into the fog.

Arnulf had barely risen from the ground when a swarm of dark shapes burst from the forest, slamming into the unprepared company. To Clovis they seemed everywhere, an endless rolling tide of deer-like legs and canid faces. Half the company was swept down, their still vertical pikes useless in the close press. Clovis had been fast enough to bring his pike back down and one of the screaming dog creatures all but leapt onto the polearm, banging its ribs onto the crosstree. The animal-thing screamed and twisted, almost ripping the spear out of the recruits fingers. For a seeming eternity the animal was lodged on the blade, its shrieks threatening to shatter Clovis’ ears as he tried to pull the spear from it’s chest.

A half hidden flash lit up the fog to the right, followed by a rattle of dull roars. Beastmen and conscripts alike were felled in heaps by the heavy bullets and spatter of blood slapped into Clovis’ face. The head of the monster he had impaled had disappeared and its body limply fell off the pike blade. More thunder rolled behind him and he dared a backwards glance to see the squadron of cavalary return, a tide of steel that filled the whole horizon.

Men and beasts were tossed into the air as the Reiksguard plowed into the embattled formation, uncaring who was trampled. Within seconds the conflict had ended as the Beastmen began a panicked withdrawal. The knights pursued after them, disappearing into the fog as their horses kicked up mud and gore.

‘Well isn’t this a damn mess,’ a loud voice intoned behind the shattered remnants of the green company.

The speaker was as well armored as any of the knights and a massive wheel lock pistol hung from his saddle horn. His bared head had a scanty coating of grey hair, his left hand was a steel clamp and one of his eyes was a vacant pit in the midst of a scar that traveled from his high hair line all the way down to his jaw, leaving his mouth to hang permanently open. Tobacco juice poured from the whole in his cheek, tarnishing his otherwise pristine armor and obliterating the engravings on a half dozen medals hanging from his sash. A half dozen young men with light armor and fast horses surrounded him.

‘Anyone with a rank still alive here?’ the horseman snarled, starring at the heap of corpses that had once been a pike company.

‘I thought not,’ he said when no one answered, the Captain having been ripped off his horse and the Sergeant trampled to death.

‘You’re in charge of what’s left of these shits, anyone of them moves back an inch, kill him’ the man growled, hooked hand pointing at Clovis before turning to one of the other riders, ‘Get Martleheim’s company over here now and bring the Witch-Bear as well. Animals know we’re weak here, they’ll hit again. You, go call back the Reiksguard before they blunder off a cliff.’

The officer departed without another word, two of his aides galloping off in different directions.

‘Who the hell was that?’ another footman asked, holding onto a snaped shard of pike.

‘I think it was the Emperor,’ said Clovis.

‘Shut up, Sigmar doesn’t look like that.’

‘Sigmar hasn’t been Emperor in a thousand years you fucking bumpkin,’ Clovis snarled back, ‘Luitpold’s the Emperor and I’m pretty sure that was him.’

‘How would you know?’ the other man snarled back, the peasant towering over Clovis.

‘Cause I’m an Altdorfer piss for brains, which is why I got put in charge,’ Clovis snapped.

He kicked the man for good measure, hard in the groin just below where his rusty mail coat ended. Peasants, whether on a battlefield or the wrong alley in Altdorf, never expected that. Clovis knocked him to the ground when the man keeled over and kicked him again for good measure. The other score of surviving infantry looked at him, surprise and fear on their tired eyes.

‘Anyone else got an objection?’

‘What do we do now?’ someone asked.

Clovis thought a minute.

‘We stand here and wait for orders, that’s what.’
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Re: Make a Man out of You

Postby Blinded » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:07 am

Wasn't the amount of Country Bumpkin thing a bit too much? I mean not knowing Sigmar, the Patron Deity of the Empire whose priest basically don't SHUT UP about their liege?

Not even peasants of Bretonia are this ignorant of Empire's affairs if only because their noble masters also don't shut up about barbaric Man-worshiping heathens of the Empire and their un-chivalry technologies and *scuffs* guns.
Worm and W40K are both dieing worlds, but while Worm is barely managing to avoid getting swallowed up, 40K is trying to stab Death in the eye with a chainsaw. - .IronSun.
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Re: Make a Man out of You

Postby SIngemeister » Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:40 pm

Very good, but I was slightly disappointed when this didn't segue into 'Let's get down to business to defeat the beasts'
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