The Fae Wars

Discussion in 'The Fields' started by wanderingmagus, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain 如朱

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    Commander James Lee Henderson had risen very early this morning, actually he had not slept that night but rested about a half-hour after finishing the paper work. Today would be a day of revolution and great victory for the CSA. James gathered some of his most trusted men, none of which were high ranked, and gave them all partial stacks of the papers with the orders to hand them out to the higher ups in the camp. The trumpet blew about ten minutes after sunrise and James stood in the center of the camp, horse at his side, and his war attire on.

    The high ranked men of the camp all seemed pleased with themselves, none of them looking angry or such but arrogant and ready to watch their men fight these barbarians to the death. They also had the envelopes in their hands, none opened as they had been threatened with execution if they did before given the order to. James, on the other hand, looked mighty and just, like a Confederate Commander should...

    "Today, gentlemen, is a great day. I think you will all agree," He began to walk slowly in front of the rows upon rows of men. They did look mighty... "Today is the day that we go to war. We will be fighting the enemy of all enemies. The single biggest threat to our great nation of Confederate America!" The crowd, although the soldiers themselves were not for it, cheered a cry of war. James simply grinned and held up a hand, continuing when the crowd silenced, "Make no mistake... Many of you will die today. Just as many of our brothers have in the past. Yesterday... The slaughter of one our scouts took place. He. Was. Murdered!" There was no cheers for this as a cold chill crept over the men and boys, "Today... Today those murderers will be punished as murderers should," Commander Henderson signaled he was done and the horses, cannons, and men were prepared for war...

    As James mounted his stallion, he began to chuckle, "One more thing that I forgot to mention! Please! Your attention please!" Everyone stopped and looked to the commander, "All of you who received that special envelope from me, may now open it and read it. Remember, abandoning is a crime that is punished by death!" A sort of confusion went over the masses but was soon replaced by the terror of the high ranked men who read the messages.

    The order of Commander Henderson was one of a new tactical idea. While the usual combat strategy involved privates and new guys in the front with the men who had not fought for years near the back, this was a new, innovative idea... Reverse the positions. Higher ups... To the front... In big, bold letters near the bottom read, "Any man ranked higher than Captain found behind the front lines will be immediately executed. Questions, concerns, etc will only be addressed after today's date"

    "What the hell?!" The man who had almost shot James cried out, "You're going to send us to the front along with these boys to die while you sit back here and watch us die? You see what sort of family he is?!"

    James laughed and shook his head, "Oh no no! If you read it... Lower ranked members are to guard the camp while anyone ranked higher than Major is to attack. I will be right there with you boys!" With another chuckle and a preparation of a cigar, the young commander road towards the entrance of the camp and, with a crowd of lower ranked soldiers beginning to cheer and almost turned into a mob.

    The commander had a good quarter mile between him and the camp when he saw the scout. James raised his hand hand and made a motion at the scout, not really to 'run' or 'hide' but just acknowledge that he was there. If James made it back... He could continue all the way to Tennessee without any disturbances... Back at the camp, the soldiers were all but pushing their once leaders out of the camp and finally a few wild gunshots got them riding off on their horses.
     
  2. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    Sees Far flinched as the Coyote-man saw him, but when the man gave mercy instead, started running. He was considered a fair runner by UNAN standards, but now he called on the spirits of the wind to aid him. His feet nearly flew over the ground as he made his way back towards camp, half-overjoyed, and half-anxious.

    Bursting into Crushes Stone's tent he shouted to all who could hear,

    "The Coyote-man rebels against his own people! He sends deserving men to the battlefield!"

    The giant buffalo-man chimera stood with a smile on his face and a glint in his eyes.

    "Is that so? Then the People shall give him and all those innocent in his camp mercy today. But to those on the battlefield who have done evil to both the People and their own children, we shall give no quarter!"

    A cheer rang up from the gathered warriors. Then a young brave stood and asked,

    "But how shall we know if they deserve death or life?"

    There was a quiet as all the warriors contemplated this. Then an old Elder Shaman rose, and held up a bag of powder. The bag glowed with energy, the mark of the Great Spirit.

    "The Great Spirit will direct our weapons. Let every warrior dip his arrows, spears, darts and tomahawks into this dust, collected from the holy earth of the Red Hills. If the one to be pierced is innocent, the dust will keep him from grave injuries. But if he is guilty and deserving of death, the dust will not hinder your weapons. If any of the enemy pass the test of the Great Spirit, then the warrior who attacked shall not strike, but count coup. Bind and take prisoner those who are chosen as worthy of mercy. Kill those who are deserving of death, and bring back their scalps as proof of their guilt."

    The camp erupted in cheers, and Crushes Stones bowed to the Elder Shaman.

    "Then it is decided. Let the dust be placed in the center of the camp, and let no warrior leave to battle today without dipping all their weapons in the dust. We ride to war!"

    Sixty million arrowheads were dipped into the dust that day. Fifty thousand mounted warriors rode to battle. Three hundred lesser shamans bent the storms of the air to their favor, sending lightning and praerie fires and buffalo herds.

    All this did Crushes Stones see. And he prayed to the Great Spirit, saying,

    You alone know of the deeds of each warrior. Let those who have done exceeding ill die this day. But spare those who are worthy of mercy. This field we dedicate, by earth and by sky, to you, and to the Buffalo who are your children just as we are your People.




    **ooc: this means you get to choose who dies and who lives, Ray**
     
  3. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain 如朱

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    ((lol alrighty then. I suppose I should have a few higher ranked men as to avoid a sort of dictatorship eh?))

    Commander Henderson chose his battlefield well. Even if the objective was two-pronged, both a battle against the Natives and his own barbaric men, he was not about to risk his men back at camp being leaderless. His horse came to a stop in a very open plain in which a small fire had burned a bit of the dry grass away. No valleys, no hills, only flat land. "Oh God help me... I believe myself a bold and brave man but I do not wish to die today,"

    "What do you think you're doing James?!" The group of high ranked men caught up with him and were in one more mood, "You are no dictator!" They were all setting up in various formations, some ordering others who were, in turn, ordering back. A snake with it's head cut off was just as useless as a snake head with the rest of the body gone...

    "Maybe not but I am your superior," James prepared his rifle. In all, there were not more than eighty men out here and that was pushing it. However, all of them were armed with a rifle, a sword, and pistol, and all were on horseback. The Natives would win this battle if for no other reason than the high ranked Confederates would retreat for fear of their lives, but it would be a battle...
     
  4. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    Even as the Confederate generals were complaining, the ground started rumbling. As everyone held on to each other for balance, they saw what looked like a brown cloud coming over the horizon. Only it wasn't a cloud. It was a stampede of buffalos.

    The screams of the generals being trampled could be heard from a mile away, but the animal's hooves glowed brightly, as did their horns and strong chests. In less than a minute, a massive wall of quickly-moving flesh blocked any escape back to camp. Some commanders tried anyways, and were thrown onto their backs for their trouble. Then the winds carried to their ears a sound like a million animals howling at the same time.

    To the west a huge line of mounted warriors appeared, and before them came a hail of glowing arrows. Some struck home immediately, tearing through what little armour the victim had on and staying embedded. Others seemed to strike harmlessly, bouncing off as if the arrowhead itself suddenly refused to kill, to the bewilderment and exquisite joy of its intended victim.

    A lone UNAN scout on horseback could be seen high on the mountainside to the north. The man raised his arm and made a complex series of gestures at the line of warriors. Then all hell broke loose.

    Guns firing, bullets and arrows whistling, horses and men screaming. Dust and blood flying everywhere.

    James was firing his guns as fast as he could pull the trigger or reload when a huge chimera, a great, furry creature with the head of a buffalo and the body of what looked like a man on steroids, slammed a glowing war-axe on his back. But instead of the cold shock of missing body parts, James nearly thought the axe BOUNCED off, leaving not even a single mark. Then all went dark.
     
  5. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    James woke up on the floor, in a buffalo-hide bed in a tent. Sitting right next to him was the huge chimera he had seen earlier.

    "I hope I did not wound you too greatly, Coyote-man," rumbled the creature.

    ****

    Thromb woke up to the sound of the bells and chimes calling the monks to their morning prayers. After washing and dressing, he walked out to the corridor. Father John was already waiting for him, and next to him was a chimera that looked awfully familiar..

    "A blessed morning to you, my friend. I hope you had a good rest? There are clean clothes and food waiting for you in the kitchens, but first I would like you to meet my good friend and companion, Blade, here."

    The chimera smiled cautiously at him. Now he knew where he had seen him! It was on a "Wanted" poster back in that Ironfist place. Now the same creature was holding out a hand to him. What should he do?

    ****

    Chaneque awoke to the blissful sound of the bells and chimes. Before she could properly get up, there was a knock on the door. A young chimera with a star-shaped birthmark was standing at the doorway holding a basket of clean clothes that looked picked and perfect just for her. Perhaps she should really try them out before having some "fun"...
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2010
  6. Lord Yuan

    Lord Yuan Death-Thousand+

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    Thromb began to sweat violently.

    "Dad? Father? Whatever you suits call yourselves....you do know that this chimera is wanted by the thugs that cleaved off my arm? What does a church have to do with anybody tied to a wanted man? Refuge for travelers I get, but for people with bounties? You are asking for some bad customers." Thromb warned.

    Thromb held his spear and aimed it at Blade to make his point in multiple ways.

    "Even I could be a bounty hunter, a hunter trying to find this fur-man for half my days on earth."

    Thromb lowers his spear.

    "Pops, one day all this trusting will get the better of you, and I'm not going to be around long to see it. I plan to eat and then get out, unless you know of any jobs around these parts." said Thromb as he gave the chimera a frightened look. Not because he was scared of the wanted man, but because he didn't know what could be after the wanted man.
     
  7. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    "My friend," said the Father, "did not even the Lord go to the sinners and the corrupt, and make himself enemies of those in power? I do not fear for my life, for did not the Lord say to 'fear not'?"

    The chimera nodded. "And I am more than capable for dealing with attacks, especially here, where the Divine protects me."

    The Father shook his finger at him. "Blade, you must learn to control your emotions." Turning to Thromb, "Come, we may discuss more of this at the kitchens."

    When they arrived a few seats and plates of food were waiting. A stout monk was standing there with a large smile on his face.

    "Well, well, so here is the famous one-armed stranger all the others are talking about! How do you do? There's fresh food and drink on the table, including my speciality, redberry pie! Eat, eat!"

    They all sat down. The Father and Blade said their prayers and then everyone dug in. It was the most delicious meal Thromb had ever had.

    ****

    "Hi," said the young chimera. "My name's Star. I have your clothes here for you." She smiled shyly.

    ****

    Looking around, James could see he was sitting inside the war-chief... Crushes Stones, wasn't it? The intelligence reports weren't all that clear... the war-chief's tent. A few guards were standing at ease, but enough that it'd be a chore trying to escape. Looking out the exit, he could see more tents, some with his fellow soldiers in them looking relatively comfortable... and more tents... and more tents...

    Then it hit him. He was sitting in one of the great tent-cities of the UNAN. And he had no idea where in all the Great Plains that was.
     
  8. rosa

    rosa New Member

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    "Thanks! " said Chaneque picking the basket. She was happy that bells wheren't church bells.
    " My name is Ana" she lied. "What do you do here for fun?"
     
  9. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    Star thought a moment.

    "Well, I like to write poems about stuff, and knitting, and sometimes Blade and Father John take me out for a hike in the woods or to market! There's lots of stuff to do there, like looking at all the stuff people are selling or talking with the dogs and birds."

    She looks back at "Ana". "So.. what do you like to do?"
     
  10. rosa

    rosa New Member

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    Chaneque tougth for a moment about the people selling stuff and the many wonderfully funy pranks she could play to them.
    " I like to travel" she asnwerd. " maybe we could go hiking sometime." ("and i can get you lost in the forest a little bit. That could be fun. Will let you find your way in a couple of hrs, after all, clothes do are nice." she added on her mind.)

    Chaneque changed her clothes and walked out of her room " I want to explore the monastery. Want to come whit me?" She asked Star as she started walking on the hallway.
     
  11. Lord Yuan

    Lord Yuan Death-Thousand+

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    It was the most delicious meal Thromb had only because it was the only real meal he ever had. Most of the time he was scavenging, or having small orders at bars from his paychecks. Rarely did he have a setup worthy to be named one of the three meals of the day. But the table was became awkwardly silent fast.

    Thromb started getting the usual odd glares from people. Thromb wasn't quite the looker, missing an arm and battle scarred doesn't constitute much of a figure to be seen in public. He often lurked in the dark, or alleys just to avoid such stares. Easily giving him the nickname "The One-Armed Bandit" just because of his shady actions. He thought it was quite funny himself, but still the stares seemed less harsh in the kitchen.

    He was feeling slightly less meek himself and thought he could get lucky with a job, and just to break the silence.

    "So....uh....anybody here heard of any good jobs going around? I will take most anything long as I don't have to kill any children." Thromb mindlessly spat.

    He then thought for a second and then realized he announced that he was a for hire murderer. Not even good enough to be called an assassin. And for bonus points he announced it in a religious place. The table became even more quite somehow.
     
  12. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain 如朱

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    Commander Henderson knew pretty much exactly what had happened... Or at least a general idea, "I hope, for your sake, that you did not kill that many of my men. It will be hard to continue our campaign without men of higher rank," He did not open his eyes or even move as he lay there quietly. It was nice to get some shut eye actually... James hadn't had enough sleep the past year or two.

    "Well... Go ahead and tell me what I need to know then,"
     
  13. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    Star followed, skipping next to her new friend.

    "I know all of the trails for miles around the monastery. And whenever I feel like I'm lost, I always know I can pray to God for guidance, and He always brings me back here! And I can talk to the animalls, too."

    She hopped over to a window and gave a strange warble. A moment later a little bird flitted in and landed gently on her hand.

    "See? This is Wakes-early, the sparrow I met when I first got here. Wakie, could you sing a little for us? Please?"

    The bird rolls its eyes but then opens its beak. The most beautiful song comes out, charming Chaneque instantly.

    ****

    In all of about ten seconds the kitchen was empty except for the Father, Blade, Thromb and the completely oblivious stout monk, who was cleaning the counters. For a moment there was dead silence. Then Father John stirred, and looked at Thromb and Blade with an understanding and still-smiling face.

    "I remember when Blade here showed up on my windowsill in the middle of the night saying what you just said a couple years ago. Tortured since birth, hunted by assassins, and with as much social experience as a wild panther, he gradually warmed to humanity in general.

    In fact, you remind me of what he was like back then. And I don't doubt you have just as much potential as he does."

    As Thromb shifted uncomfortably in his seat Blade turned to him with a smile of understanding only one who had been through almost exactly the same situation could give.

    "Well, I suppose then you're really only gonna stay if there's pay? I've got some stuff I could have you do. If, of course, you aren't too troubled by the thought of working with an "illegal" organization."

    Seeing the horrified look on the man's face, "But don't worry. As long as you're at this monastery, you will be protected from anything that can harm you or anyone else."

    "And Blade's requests are generally quite easy to fulfill," added the Father. "And, speaking in worldly terms, the pay is quite good as well."

    Blade nodded. "It's nearly a name-your-price type deal, Thromb. And it's easy work: I just need you to help me train some new recruits for my... organization, let's call it... so they can be fit to join. According to the Father here, it's not technically against the rules."

    "No, but try not to get anybody hurt," replied Father John.

    Blade smiled and gave an acknowledging wave. "So, what's your price? I think the monastery will still provide free room and board, and the village just down the hill has a marketplace with people selling just about anything you need at a reasonable exchange."

    ****

    Crushes Stones gave what appeared to be a sort of smile, if you could call it that, and gave a brief account of what had happened, at least as much as Henderson would have been willing to give to a VERY trustworthy opponent had he been in the same position.

    It was, as he thought, a pretty much curbstomp battle. There was no way on earth the soldiers the top brass back in the CSA gave him could possibly have put up more than a pitiful battle, and especially not with all his own peers up at the front lines. Strangely enough, it seemed in the process nearly all the extremists and the worst of the offenders had gotten killed off, while his most loyal higher-ups and soldiers were almost completely unscathed except for a few minor headaches and bruises.

    After finishing, the buffalo-man said,

    "All the warriors on your side that survived have been placed in tents of their own, and have not been harmed. They were allowed to keep their holy books, if that is any consolation. As for you, you will be allowed to visit them freely and go where you want within limits. You will, of course, be under guard at all times."

    The voice lowered to a soft rumble.

    "However, we must first discuss, though I think we all have a pretty good guess already, Exactly why, specifically, did your superiors send you here, what do they want, and what do you plan to do if and when we decide to release you?"
     
  14. Lord Yuan

    Lord Yuan Death-Thousand+

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    Thromb scrunched his brow and questioned them questioning his potential..potential for what?

    "Well I'm probably being hunted for something or other too, I suppose we will be a package deal if any common foes we have find us." Thromb said as he stood up from his seat.

    "I suppose I will accept your offer, tell me where your men are and I will train them, marksmanship, medic skills, and pike battle. I will talk money later." He continued as he headed towards the door. But paused to turn and make a final remark.

    "But one thing you said caught me...this "organization". What do they stand for?"
     
  15. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    The monk and the chimera looked at each other for a moment. Suddenly the bumbling fat cook didn't look so bumbling at all, and the kindly old man was less old and less frail. A sort of silent exchange went on, and as far as Thromb could tell it was a sort of "can we trust him" discussion. Finally it seemed all agreed.

    The cook took off his hood, and suddenly Thromb could see that his ears, and most of the normally hidden parts of his face were not human, but bear-chimera. The father removed his hood but was completely human. Blade hesitated, then rolled up his left sleeve. There was a branding mark there. Ironfist-made.

    Blade leaned forward. "I hope that for your own sake you are trustable, Thromb. Just by seeing what you just saw in here would justify your very long and possibly permanent stay here were you not."

    He motions to the bear-chimera. "This is Grapple "Grap" Walks Quiet, the UNAN-born head of my organization's intelligence administration. He'll tell you more about us."

    Grap stood to as much of his full height as possible, and what looked like fat flexed to become muscle, and the fifteen-foot-tall behemoth was silent for a moment. Then he relaxed into his previous stance again, walked over to the table and sat down on a sturdy chair. He looked at Thromb with extremely intelligent eyes.

    "We are part of a resistance movement against Plavery. Our leader, Blade here, was a plave soldier back in Ironfist territory. He, along with the rest of his squadron, committed high treason and mutiny by refusing to obey an order to destroy a UNAN nursery and killing their human master. It was his first rebellion, enabled by extreme outrage, that broke the years of conditioning and psychotherapy that kept the rest of us from rebelling. I, as the team scout, was partially responsible for the man's death, of which I am in fact proud. I made as sure as I could that nobody would be able to find the body before fleeing, along with the rest of the group, deep into UNAN territory, hoping to be intersected by a scouting party as travellers always are."

    His eyes had a far-off look in them. "The Shaman of the Great Spirit himself was the one who greeted us. We nearly trampled his tent as we were running, and he stood, all alone against a squad of maybe a hundred rebel chimera, and embraced us with open arms as if we were old friends. He was the first to tell us of Father John here, and gave us nearly everything we have today."

    Blade was fingering a little buffalo-hide talisman given to him. He then shifted in his seat and brought forward an identical talisman with the image of a key and a broken plave-collar on it. Beneath were embroidered the signs of the rising sun and setting moon on it.

    "This is our symbol. We stand for the freedom of our... race, some call it, man-made though it may be."

    Father John also brought out a talisman, but engraved specially with the sign of the cross. "My monastery is in full support of the cause. Our mission was to free the hearts of man from sin; should we not also free our brother the chimera? and who is to say they are not also humans in their own right? For they began as such, and it was only the work of selfish humans that changed them to who they are now."

    "The point being," said Grap, "we're asking you to join us. It won't be easy or particularly safe, especially outside the monastery. We're always on the lookout for assassins and spies."

    "But," and he looked to Father John, "as this place is protected by the Divine, or so I hear, you would not be here if you were not trustworthy."

    The old monk nodded and placed the talisman Blade was holding on the table.

    "If you want to back out we don't really blame you, as long as you don't tell anybody about us."

    Then the cat-chimera smiled mischeviously. "But you aren't likely to find a job nearly as rewarding in all the rest of the world. If money's what you want..."

    He plopped a huge bag of gold Tushori Marks on the table.

    "Then money is what you'll get. Do you accept?"
     
  16. rosa

    rosa New Member

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    Chaneque smiles happily at the bird, enjoying the song as she conitue walking. Checking the witch other rooms are locked, trying to see what or who is inside of other rooms, and trying to hear others conversations. Maybe the company of a singing bird is not the best idea to do so, she tougth, but since the song is so nice she could not really care much.
     
  17. Lord Yuan

    Lord Yuan Death-Thousand+

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    Thromb was amused by their show, and was about to leave never to come back again till gold came into the mix.

    "So, you fuzzy barbarians take pride in your killing? Be careful not to become what you fight. I will train men, scout even. But I will make sure men given to me and in my teams will be punished for every kill they get. The most fearsome of your men will be the most punished. I knowing first hand, if your job is killing you shouldn't take pride in your work."

    Thromb took the gold bag and headed back to the door.

    "In an hour or so I will expect intel updates, Ironfist movements in the area, names of suspected Ironfist agents, locations of other parts of your organization, how many arms you have working, and where are these arms so I can teach them how to fight properly."

    Thromb left on that note heading straight back to his room.
     
  18. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain 如朱

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    With a smirk, James stood and opened his eyes at the same time to see one of the demons in front of him... Well... An animal-person... He seemed resonable but people were not always as they seemed.

    "Understand, sir, that we will discuss what I wish, when I wish," The commander said as he fixed his collar. He was man who demanded respect with simply his presence, "Also, my men at the camp, I wish to retrieve them and require a mount. Can you provide me with that sir?"James awaited the response, standing strongly and respectfuly, as a man of his stature should. "Do not worry chief, we will be discussing some things and answering questions that need answering...'
     
  19. wanderingmagus

    wanderingmagus Constantly Around :D

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    Star skipped along with Wakes-early riding on her shoulder.

    "Whatcha doing?" she asks curiously.

    ****

    The other three were completely silent for a few minues after the sound of the door closing died away. Then Grap began to chuckle, and the Father smiled. Blade simply burst out laughing.

    "Now isn't that exACTly how I acted the first time I was here!" he managed to choke out.

    The old monk shook his head with a twinkle in his eye.

    "No, you simply tried to kill me, the human-hater that you were, and only the Divine protection saved me, friend.”

    They all smiled for a moment, but then turned serious.

    “Do you think we can trust him?” asked the Bear-man.

    “I think we can, for the time being at least. The lure of worldly wealth still has a strong hold on him. In time, though, we will have to think of another way to keep him from telling all he knows at the sight of a gold coin,” replied the Father.

    ………………

    About an hour after he left the meeting, Thromb heard a soft thump, and turned his head to see a large package had somehow fallen through the window. After checking for traps, he opened it to discover well over a thousand pages of information documenting Ironfist spy and troop movements all across the Republic of Texas. They were just as grim as he’d imagined. Skirmishes and fights covered the borders of UNAN and ROT territory. Spies prowled every major town and city. Highwaymen and bounty hunters awaited unsuspecting travelers in rural and wilderness areas.

    But not all was quite hopeless. There were millions of plaves across the UNAN with amazing powers undreamed-of by humans; weather-mages and animal-speakers, shamans able to unleash lightning storms and earthquakes. To their small credit, the CSA seemed to be doing their own unintentional job of keeping the Ironfist soldiers off Resistance territories.

    There seemed to be ten branches of the resistance movement:

    an Education branch for teaching young Resistance children basic skills,
    a Justice branch for keeping crime at a minimum,
    a Housing branch for sheltering homeless plaves,
    a Guidance branch for hiding and transporting runaway plaves,
    a Resources branch for checking on and distributing things like food, weapons, supplies, and other goods,
    a Medical branch for making sure Resistance members are healthy,
    a Knowledge branch for stowing books, artwork and records as well as making sure the word got out for “freedom runs”,
    an Information branch for keeping track of the huge spy and information network,
    a Diplomacy branch for keeping up talks with friendly nations (currently restricted to the UNAN),
    and a Resistance branch for training, recruiting and deploying Freedom Runs and defending camps.

    All in all, it was a surprisingly orderly and respectable system of self-governance, at least in light of the resources and time these ex-plaves had.

    The main Ironfist spies so far identified were:

    Hans “Hunter” Berger, an ex-plaver mercenary with only two orders: bring back any and all chimeras, dead or alive, and kill anybody who stands in your way. The description listed him as a man of medium height, unshaven with gigantic muscles and a converted branding-iron knife where the right hand should be.
    Carl “Shark” Goth, was a quiet doctor with a penchant for eating interrogation victims after torture, sent to gather as much knowledge as possible about the Resistance. He had open flaps in both cheeks showing teeth and gum, a souvenir from a botched information-gathering attempt. He was a self-proclaimed master of pain, and took pride in being able to silently kidnap just about anybody and make them tell them everything they knew, down to their favorite color.
    Franz “Shadow” Koegel was an assassin sent to kill major Resistance leaders. There was very little information on him except for a dark complexion, possibly African-American, an attraction to throwing knives, and a habit of leaving behind booby traps inside the bodies of his victims.

    Thromb’s job seemed simply restricted to training new recruits in the Resistance branch. The deadline for completion of training was two months, after which he was supposed to lead the group of newbies in a Freedom Run against a camp of Ironfist plavers and recruit the hundred or so plave-concubines and serving-plaves.

    There were about twenty people in his team, some chimeras, some humans. The following individuals caught his eye.

    Robert was a normal human whose family had lost everything after voluntarily sheltering runaway plaves. He hates Ironfist with all his heart for the death of everyone he knew and loved.
    Talks Softly was a mouse-chimera female with an extreme shyness problem, as most female chimerae were. She was, however, extremely intelligent, and escaped from her master by gnawing through the ropes holding her after being beaten one too many times.
    Mark was an ex-CSA who had been against both his own nation’s policy and that of Ironfist pretty much since he was born. After being kicked out of his country and excommunicated by his church, he wandered the world until falling in with some Resistance recruiters, and signed up immediately.

    There were no initial skill records for any of the trainees, so Thromb would have to learn it all step by step. He was to meet them in the monastery’s armoury tomorrow.

    ****
    Crushes Stones looked at James a long time, then finally nodded slowly, a sarcastic smile on his face. He stepped aside and made a sweeping “after you” motion with his arm.

    Upon leaving the tent, the Confederate commander was completely lost. Rows of tents stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions, and a constant cloud (probably shaman-summoned, he thought) covered the stars and the sun, making any estimate of location impossible. Warriors and braves were everywhere, thousands of them, chimera and human, going about their business and looking at the strange white man in the Confederate uniform every now and then.

    His own men were not very far away, just as lost as he was, although a lot more heavily guarded. They were sitting on a buffalo-skin carpet at the moment, looking relatively comfortable and healthy, except for, as the war-chief had claimed, a few bruises. They were eating what looked like a decent meal, even by Confederate civilian standards, and a meal was set out for the commander also.

    As he had thought, this time nearly all of the surviving higher-ups were sitting comfortably with their own subordinates, none of them looking too unnerved or shocked. Apparently the only ones that passed whatever test the Natives had were the ones who were willing to treat their subordinates fairly and as near-equals.

    All of them, subordinate and “superior” alike, welcomed him with a rousing Confederate cheer.
     
  20. Ender-Zero

    Ender-Zero Ruff Mercenary

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    The delicate sound of thunder once more filled his ears, and pain lanced through his back, followed shortly by the wet feeling that he knew was his back bleeding. He’d be washing the blood out of his fur for weeks, but that was always the story. He heard the hiss of the whip, and as it snapped, thunder was its sound, delicate yet ferocious. He didn’t flinch, nor grimace. If he so did choose to do either, or even take a sharp breath, he knew it would incur the use or the double whip, which was tipped with diamond. Diamond hurt more than silver, especially when it was two lashes for every throw. So on he went, ploughing the field. The heat was unbearable. He had heard that a Plave such as himself, with bear genetics, should be kept as a bodyguard, not a farming Plave. Farming was for Ox Plaves, Horse Plaves, other Plaves, not he. But on he went, with each step the thunder sounded and the blood ran rivers down his back. At least, he thought, when the day was done he would have time to wash in the river before the sun went down. It was summer and the sun would be high for many an hour longer than normal. If he worked hard, and when didn’t he, he would be able to wash, and washing was all the reward he needed.

    As the day wore on and the blood flowed from his back, he did not slow. He was more than used to this sort of work. It was all he had known for so long, since he had been taken from the little girl with the freckles and curly brown hair. The little girl who had called him, “Big Bear” her, “fuzzy friend.” His original owners had bought him as a companion to protect their daughter, but had not anticipated the cost of feeding a Plave such as himself, and had been forced to sell him to the farmers who now used him as a replacement for an Ox. He understood why though. An Ox could not plough a field with the intricacy he did. An Ox could not work as hard for as long as he did. An Ox could not understand anything but eating, sleeping, and that pain was bad, he could. He understood, but he did not appreciate. But he did dream, of being free one day, and the girl with the brown hair who had called him Big Bear.