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Howdy all. I hope this post finds you well.
Anyway, I've been out of the hobby for a couple of years now, but I just recently decided to start work on some fluff I've always wanted to conjure up. Don't ask why I waited until two weeks before exams to start writing. Avoidance?
Before I completely go off on a tangent, here's what I have so far. It's about a guy who lives around where my Empire force is based (central Talabecland), but finds himself in hot water with the authorities. Over time I'll keep adding to it, showing what becomes of the character and what he gets up to. Feedback is always nice, but really I'm just writing for pleasure here and using LO as a dumping ground. At any rate, I hope you enjoy it.
As the cock crowed, Dieter struggled to force open his heavy eyelids. Harsh as it was, this was his routine. Wake up at dawn, scrape together something to eat from his family’s pitious food supplies, and arrive at work.
He threw on his old, rotting clothes that he wore every day, and walked into his home’s poor excuse for a kitchen. Not wanting to take too much, lest his family suffer, he found a few old vegetables, sliced them up with the nearby cleaver, and tossed them into a small wooden bowl.
Finding the cooking pot still over the dying embers of last night’s fire, and still with water that hadn’t been removed, he added a little to his bowl. It was still lukewarm, but it was better than nothing. He finished his makeshift soup, and began his trek to work.
Work, for him, was for a local landlord. He had a thriving business selling wood from the Great Forest to merchants and craftsmen, provided by the men of Dieter’s village. In return for their labour, they got to stay on the landlord’s properties for ‘decreased’ rent and for meagre wages, from which they could try and survive.
But the trick was in the landlord’s conditions of labour. He had a whole raft of workplace regulations, the penalty for breaching any was a fine, deducted from the worker’s wages. The rules were so draconian that it wasn’t uncommon for a worker to end a day’s labour in debt. But they all had no choice – they had to work in the forests or starve.
Dieter knew this as he trudged drearily through the dim streets of Dortmund. If he turned up even remotely late, he would lose an hour’s wages. Therefore, it was always better to arrive earlier and work partially for nothing.
On arrival, there was already a small line to check in with the foreman, as there often was.
The foreman checked him off as arriving on time, and waved him away. Dieter then picked up an axe and set about felling the next mighty tree in the forest. The job was long, and it was hard. It would often take two or three men a few days using hand-held axes to fell a tree of this size, and that was all they’d do for those days.
At the end of the full day’s labour, Dieter returned the axe to the foreman and had it recorded that he’d done so. Having completed a rare day without any minor misdemeanours, he was able to collect the full day’s wages: a few copper coins.
As he walked past the Happy Hunter that night, he recognised the saw icon flaunted outside the door, denoting worker's night. Tonight, two copper coins could get you an ale – a reasonably strong one too. This was run completely out of goodwill, often costing the inn a lot more than they'd make on such nights.
Dieter walked up to the bar, handed over two of his coins, and looked gladly at the brew he was given. He knew he could only afford one, with rent and taxes still to be paid.
Looking around the pub, he envied the younger men who'd somehow escaped wedlock and didn't have families to feed, who were able to blow all their money on booze and wenches.
“Here's to another hard day's work, eh Dieter?” His old friend Bastian joined him at the table and raised his pint.
“To another day of honest labour for dishonest wages.” Dieter sighed and toasted.
“I'll drink to that!” came the reply. “Say, the pit's on tomorrow night. Are you heading down for it?”
“Well that depends. Who do they have headlining?”
“The big one's between Miroslav and a man from the north. I think they said his name was Yevno. He's supposed to be an absolute bear!”
“I don't see why not,” replied Dieter. “Hopefully we have a bit of money spare. I can't see Miroslav losing, he's too quick.”
“You and me both, friend. It should be a good night!” They both finished off their
drinks, and headed home knowing that every minute of sleep was precious before work the next day.
The 'pits' were, in short, an underground fighting arena. It was the peasants' form of entertainment, watching and placing bets on the fight. Ever since the religious fervour after the Storm of Chaos, they were very illegal – hence their underground nature.
'Gladiator' fights were very popular – weapons were made of wood to minimise damage. Older men, like Dieter or Bastian, tended to excel because of their previous military experience. But the biggest event was sparring – watching two men fight with their fists. The fastest and strongest became folk heroes around the village.
Miroslav was the best in town. Youthful and a talented fighter, he was unbeaten in his last eight bouts. This time, a foreigner from Kislev had arrived and had a fearsome reputation, meaning tomorrow night's pits were highly anticipated.
The night was clear, but the chilling wind still bit through Dieter's thin coat. As usual, he'd had a long day at the lumber mill, but remained optimistic knowing that tonight should be thoroughly enjoyable.
Bastian was waiting outside his house, and together they walked towards the pit – it was in one of the real slums of Dortmund. The town watch never checked the area knowing it to be one of the roughest which also made it easier for the revellers to be alerted about the authorities.
They were greeted by a doorman. “Evening gentlemen. Entry tonight will be two gold coins.”
“Since when have they started charging a door fee?” moaned Bastian.
“Excellent,” winked the doorman. “Just checking that you're not here on business for the big guy. Second door on your right, head down the stairs.”
Giving him a sceptical look, Bastian and Dieter walked inside and opened the second door on the right. The place had no lighting, so they had to feel their way down the pitch black stairwell.
They came to another door at the bottom and pushed it open. It was very heavy. Inside this room was the pit – someone's house converted to an arena for the night.
Smoke lingered from the men doing opium. The scene was filled with people getting rowdy from the drinks they'd bought and from cheering on their fighters. Loose women were serving drinks and providing their services. In the middle of the room was a wooden ring in which two fighters, each with a wooden sword, were in the middle of a duel.
Dieter walked up to the main table, attended by tonight's gambling administrator. “Evening guv',” the man said. “The next fight's between a quarterstaff and a sword-spear combo. Can I interest you in a wager?”
“No thanks,” he replied. “I'm looking at tonight's headline bout. How do the odds look?”
“Ah yes, everyone's following that one. Miroslav's paying 3/2, with the foreigner at 2/1. Just remember that you're betting on an unknown figure.”
“I've got six copper coins to spare. Put them on Miroslav.”
“Good call.” The administrator wrote out Dieter's betting slip with six marks in red, on a piece with Miroslav's icon – a sword – on it.
Dieter thanked him, and joined Bastian by the ring.
The two men stepped into the makeshift arena, both clearly of the working class. One had a spear which was once used by someone in their time as an Imperial spearman, and a wooden sword. The other was a younger man wielding a large quarterstaff in both hands.
Dieter and Bastian enjoyed watching fighters with quarterstaffs, having both fought as halberdiers during the Storm of Chaos. Both weapons involved fairly similar techniques, which made them interesting to rate.
It was the quarterstaff wielder that came out on the attack. He used broad swings and kept his body low, but the other fighter had no problems dodging the clumsy strikes.
“He's too aggressive,” observed Bastian. “If he can keep that spear out of it he has the much longer reach.”
“A good thrust with the spear should force him to deflect it, then end upon defence,” added Dieter.
“It'll be like a halberdier against one of those Chaos marauders. Only the halberdier's untrained and can't rely on his comrades.”
Sure enough, the spearman lunged with the spear in his left hand. It was parried easily enough, but that left space for him to attack with his sword. This system of striking and parrying was perpetuated until the quarterstaff fighter was backed into the arena wall.
Knowing it was time to finish the job, the spearman thrusted the spear's blunt end at his opponent's head, which was met with a deflection. They held that position for a few seconds. Knowing he needed the spear to be underneath the quarterstaff, he flicked his wrist rotating it around the staff so the point sat mere inches from the quarterstaff warrior's face.
Sensing his success, he pushed outwards and sent his sowrd to the now defeated warrior's chest. Amidst the cheers of the victorious oundits, both fighters lowered their weapons, embraced, and exited the arena.
“It was bound to happen,” said Dieter.
“His technique was poor. He was too predictable.”
Two more men entered the arena. This time, they had no weapons. To prevent visible damage, their hands were bound and they wore leather helmets to protect their faces.
Dieter and Bastian watched the fight with interest. These sparring matches were hugely popular in most of the Talabecland province, and this bout was no exception. Every swing, every block, every parry was wildly cheered by the overworked peasants.
“So how much did you put in the big one?” Asked Bastian. “Because I know you did.”
“Six copper coins. Placed them on Miroslav.”
“By Taal, man! That's most of a day's wages. What if this new guy wins? You'll starve!”
“I remember my time in Kislev. They're only good fighters when they've had too much to drink. Otherwise they're all talk.”
Bastian could only reluctantly agree.
The fight wore on, one fighter gained the ascendancy and the other began to wear out. Soon after, the winner was found, a promisimg young man who could make the big time if the lumber yard didn't break his ambitions.
As the fighters left the arena, the first headliner appeared. Miroslav was reasonably young, but his features were rough and he'd been hardened by a life in Dortmund. He was strong and one could see the confidence in his eyes.
Soon after, his opponent entered. Yevno was solidly built, looker much larger than Miroslav. The pasty complexion of his skin or grey tinge in his rough beard did nothing to cloak the iron of his muscle.
Having now seen him for the first time, an optimistic roar went up among those who'd put money on the Kislevite. Flaunting their betslips, they cheered on their newfound hero.
Eying his opponent up, Miroslav showed no sign of fear. Coolly, he waited for Yevno to strike first. And he did. The Kislevite opened proceedings with a bellowing right hook.
Quick on his feet, Miroslav was able to dodge the blow. Putting his right foot forwards, he pushed off channeling his weight into a powerful uppercut.
Slightly stunned but still unharmed, Yevno struck back. Another right hook was dodged, but the local wasn't quite quick enough to evade a left swing from the Kislevite.
The shot sent him reeling. Seizing the initiative, Yevno unleashed another mighty barrage. The cavalcade of punches also knocked the confidence out of Miroslav, who promptly entered self-defence mode.
“In the name of Sigmar, nobody move!” As the door swung open, the clergyman's bellowing voice rung clear. Around 10 Imperial spearmen burst into the room, completely dispersing the crowd and arresting whoever was close.
Amidst the chaos, Dieter and Bastian saw a clear path to the corridor. Keeping silent, they bolted for it. As Bastian climbed the stairs, a spearman grabbed Dieter. “You're not going anywhere!”
Stunned, Dieter was unable to do anything. From nowhere, Miroslav appeared and threw a punch at the soldier. In recoil, he released his grip on Dieter. Miroslav snatched the spear and ushered the older men on.
There was another spearman by the exit. “Hold it!” He warned, lowering his spear.
Bastian kept running, inviting a lunge from the soldier's spear. Easily anticipating this, Bastian brushed it aside by pushing on the shaft. With an easy opening, Miroslav sent his acquired weapon into the soldier's throat.
Shock clear in his eyes, the soldier began to gurgle. He stood still, blood spilling from his mouth. As he collapsed, another soldier arrived on the scene. “You killed him. Murderers!” He hissed. Not wanting to hang around, the three took off into the night.
Last edited by ArchonFarseerGuy; June 5th, 2011 at 06:54.