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Author Topic: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark  (Read 5686 times)

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« on: May 23, 2010, 02:39:22 PM »
Hello there,

Some of you may remember me as 'Hoochlander', I frequented this forum regularly a few summers ago and have been back a few times since. Some of you may not remember me at all, but that's fine. ( :icon_cry:) With 8th edition looming close I have returned to my first love, the Empire and have decided to flesh out their background a bit with a story, something I haven't done for a long while.

The story joins our brave agent of Elector Count Hertwig of Ostermark travelling along the Bechafen-Kadrin road as he tries to secure the aid of the Dwarfs against a looming Chaos threat. The area the action unfolds is where my army will hail from, the towns surrounding Eisental in the South East of Ostermark, where Margrave Hermann Mach rules. Many characters from the story will make there way into my army somehow too. Heinrich will probably make a good objective marker...

Anyway, here is the first part of the story, Part Two is being worked upon as we speak.

Part One


   Heinrich slowed his horse; he had reached his destination, the small riverside town of Osterwald. The town bustled in the mid afternoon sun, it was not hot, but yet for the residents of this small Ostermark town it was the height of the summer and for a northerner like Heinrich it was positively baking. Many were out by the riverside fishing, and the sound of the boatyards could be heard over the whole town, the thuds of the hammers and the shouts of the working men.  Despite there only being a small population, the residents were out in force, and many were surprised to see a stranger amongst them.
Loitering in the sunshine was not an option however and he had the brush off the strange looks, there was urgent business to attend to. Elector Hertwig had sent him from Bechafen to Karak Kadrin to request aid against the amassing Chaos forces in Southern Kislev. He could complete the rest of his journey through the local south-eastern towns within the week, but the longer he delayed, the stronger the dark forces became, and he would not forgive himself if they reached the Upper Talabec. To travel as fast as he could, he would need a boat, to head up the River Blut to Blutfurt and Ostwald was the best place in the area to find such a vessel.

He thought the best place to procure this service would be the local coaching inn. Upon asking a local woman, who just mumbled something and pointed after seeing the Electors Seal on his finger, he headed towards the riverside. The ‘Cockle and Muscle Inn’ was on a day like this, very busy. Men and women sat outside, enjoying their mead and some food, whilst children played in the water. Heinrich pushed his way through the crowded and noisy inn to the barman.

“Hello good sir”

“What can I get ya m’lad” The gruff barman shouted over the noise and the music.

“I’m not here for a drink; I’m here for some transport”

“A vodka? Comin’ right up. Two crowns.”

“No no sir, I didn’t want a drink, I need a ship!” Heinrich protested.

“The outhouse is round  t’back. Two crowns”

Begrudgingly pulling the money out of his coin purse and paying the man for his drink, he downed the famous beverage in one, and felt it burn down his gullet. He shook his head as the strong alcohol tickled his sense. He was used to vodka, being an Ostermarker, but this homemade moonshine vodka blew him away, evidently city life had made him soft.

“Comes from the moors north of Mileau, a little farming town East of here, they make it from the potatoes, strong stuff.” A man started up from next to Heinrich, taking him by surprise. “Sorry about the barman, he’s gone a bit deaf, used to work the Cannon in the army years ago, I’m sure I can find you a boat if you’ve got the money, city boy”

“I’ve got the money, the Elector’s money” Heinrich reassured the man, flashing him the seal as he spoke.

“If that’s the case, then we’ve got a deal” The two men shook hands “Oh and my names Leopold”

“Heinrich”

“Well then Heinrich, I set sail for Eisental tomorrow morning, and I’m sure you could find a boat there to take you to Blutfurt in the afternoon. Get some rest, and stay off that vodka if you’re too soft, you’ll be mucking in tomorrow and you’ll need a clear head!”

Heinrich spent the rest of his night taking in all the town had to offer, the local bands that played  and sang traditional Ostermark songs to celebrate the end of the miserable weather and the coming of springtime and the harvests. Even the hardened peasants  showed themselves to be able to have fun Heinrich thought.  The more he got talking to Leopold, more commonly known as ‘Leo’ the more he found out about Ostwald and his hometown, which turned out to be Mileau, the vodka town. The Osterwald was apparently full of bandits, and as Leo kept reminding him, made his boat trip well worth the money, something Heinrich kept remembering he had not actually discussed with the man.

The next day, Heinrich met Leo at the boatyard. He had prepared his ship and a small crew, about five men, many of whom he had seen in the Inn the night before, and one of whom he was sure had gotten in a fight and broken another man’s nose. They boarded the ship and soon set sail, picking up their lobster pots before heading off down the river to Eisental. The ship was an old craft and the men steered it gently in the light breeze. Heinrich wished the boat could have been quicker and that they did not have to dither with the business of lobster fishing, but he knew he couldn’t be picky with such an urgent message to carry.

“Heinrich mate, I told you you’d be mucking in, so take these pots down into the hold for me will ya?” Leopold shouted to him over the noise of the river and the breeze in the sail.

As Heinrich stood up with the pots, he saw a fist flying through the air towards him. He noticed that the man was wearing a ring shaped like a raven, but then all he saw was black. The men stripped him off his clothes, his money and anything of value as he lay recovering from his temporary unconsciousness. Just as he began to come round they bundled him over the side of the boat and left him swimming in his undergarments.

“Bastards” He swore as he struggled in the water, “can’t trust any of these southerners. The road was more dangerous, by Sigmar’s Beard it wasn’t!”

As he swam against the current, watching the boat sail off up river, he wondered what he was meant to do now; he could not let down the men of Bechafen. Fortunately he still had the seal on his finger and would hopefully be able to find some favours in the service of the Elector Count.

He washed up on the river bank and quickly found the road, for it was the only piece of civilisation around in an area of moors or woodland. After walking for a couple of hours down the almost perfectly straight path he heard a horse coming up behind him, and he almost leapt for joy, but they realised that nothing could be trusted here, it could easily be a bandit or some other rogue out to rob any travellers, even those down on their luck and walking in their undergarments. Fortunately for Heinrich, this man wore the sign of the Elector as well, and slowed his horse upon seeing the bedraggled wanderer.

“Hey there my man, stop in the name of the Bechafen-Kadrin Road Patrol! Why do you walk in your undergarments?” He shouted from his horse, almost stifling a chuckle as he saw the state of Heinrich.

“I’ve been robbed, river bandits took everything.  My name is Heinrich Zimmer an agent of Elector Hertwig on important business to Karak Kadrin” As he said this he flashed the seal; thanking Sigmar he still had it.

“Well its only five more miles to Eisental, I can give you lift if you would like, seeing as you do work for Count Hertwig, and then I can see what I can do for you from there on.”

Heinrich sat on the back of the horse, enduring the rocky road and wondering how he would get back on track and be able to save the men of Bechafen. He talked at length with the rider of the Road Patrol, Franz. He told him that banditry was a major problem in the area, but then again it kept him in pay, and he was used to it. The man named ‘Leo’ was a notorious criminal; though Leo was just one of the many names he went under. He was well known to the Road Patrol for arranging robberies on the river and the road, often with large gangs and targeting strangers stupid enough to fall his offers of ‘protection’. Apparently the Road Patrol was quite busy in this area and there were stations in each of the towns near the Ostwald. The more northern areas were far less patrolled due to the fact bandits could be seen coming in advance over the moors and the flatlands, hence why Heinrich had not seen any patrol men when he had been on the roads earlier in his voyages.

As the two men pulled up to the outskirts of Eisental they passed many peasants working in the fields outside the town. The land was particularly fertile due to the river and its annual and sheep grazed and men toiled in the cool sunshine. Eisental could be seen in the distance, huge Dwarfen walls loomed over the surrounding lands, casting an overbearing shadow on this Spring day and then further in the background, the Osterwald, a dark haven for all bandits, whatever the weather in the outside world.

“This is where I stop I’m afraid” Franz told Heinrich, “If you go into our outpost over there, I’m sure Sergeant Faber will find something for you to wear, just tell him I sent you. Be seeing you and good luck.”

   With that Franz road off again in the direction of Osterwald and left Heinrich to walk the short distance to the old building the Road Patrol used as their outpost. Whereas in Osterwald all the looks had been wary and the whispers anxious, here, now, dressed in his undergarments Heinrich could hear the sniggers of the people. Feeling utterly humiliated he hurried into the outpost, interested to see what Sergeant Faber had to offer....


Offline Inarticulate

  • Posts: 1553
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2010, 10:29:41 PM »
Looking like a great start!

One thing I would suggest is to flesh out some of the paragraphs with descriptions, feelings etc. Atm its a little 'Next he went' 'Then' 'Heinrich then did this' etc.

However, very enjoyable read and looking forward to seeing some more.
I for one welcome our new flying cat overlords.

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2010, 11:04:41 PM »
Thanks Inarticulate, glad someone likes my work  :happy:

I have worked on the paragraphing, I didn't realise I had done it quite so much, but have been back and hopefully made it a bit more stylistic. It may be worth a re-read too as I have now added some details which will become very significant later on in the tale, so keep your eyes peeled.

As for seeing some more, the second part should be done by tomorrow at least. I have written the plan, just gotta stick to it now  :engel:

Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2010, 12:05:23 PM »
Right done Part Two and Part Three is on its way. Hopefully as I'm getting into it more I'm avoiding making it sound like a list of events, but we shall have to see  :unsure:

Part Two

Heinrich entered the outpost with trepidation. Behind a large oaken desk sat an old man with a huge bushy grey beard and a portly gut. He had evidently been dozing and the creak of the door had startled him.

‘Oh hello, do come in, don’t mind me” He chuckled to himself as he saw Heinrich’s attire.

“Yes, yes I am clothed in my undergarments, laugh all you must, but I am on Count Hertwig’s service”, once again he flashed his seal, “Sergeant Faber I presume?”

“That’s right m’lad, what can I do you for?” the Sergeant said, trying to hide his amusement.

“Franz sent me in here, said I could find some clothes and maybe a horse, my business is urgent”

   Having explained all to the old Sergeant, details of the robbery, the fortunate meeting with Franz and the danger that threatened the whole of Ostermark, the old man quickly forgot the amusement he had felt and set about sorting Heinrich out. He found him an old uniform, a pistol and a sword and said he could get him a horse ready for a ride to Nachtdorf by the next day. In the meantime, he suggested that Heinrich should visit the Margrave, Mikhail von Glastroika, to tell him of the threat and see if he could help Heinrich in any way. He summoned a young recruit, Edgar, to show Heinrich the way to the Margrave’s palace.

   Eisental was the third biggest town in Ostermark, and it had a lot to show for itself. Nagenhof, which Heinrich had already visited before Osterwald was bigger, but in no way as spectacular. Both towns had thriving wool businesses, but the difference lay in their structure. As Nagenhof was situated on the moorland, it was much less fortified and much more open. Eisental, however, in the rough area it looked over, was much more militarily orientated. Being close to the Dwarfen stronghold also meant it had a larger Dwarfen population, leading to fantastic stone architecture rather than the wooden buildings predominant in much of Ostermark. In that way, it almost reminded Heinrich of his hometown of Bechafen.

   On his way he saw all varieties of shops, inns, taverns and street vendors. Edgar was keen to tell him all about the town where he had grown up, of its history, of its people. In the short journey through the town Heinrich began to realise that the Southerners were not all uncivilised peasants, and that they did have some culture. This view was quickly disrupted however when two men burst out of a bar, throwing punches at each other and calling each other names Heinrich had never before heard used in that context. They both wore uniforms, definitely soldiers. One wore the traditional Ostermark colours, yellow, purple and white whilst the others wore a mix of local colours, including some of the traditional ones. The man in the mix of colours lay on the ground clutching his nose and many passersby held back the aggressor in the traditional colours.

Edgar explained that the soldier in the purple, yellow and white was one of the town guards, a trained swordsman within the ranks of the city’s army, direct protection of the Margrave and Eisental. The other was one of the local militia, from Mileau, Osterwald or Nachtdorf, other towns under service of the Margrave and who regularly trained their militias in the city and provided troops for the protection of the March from larger threats. Apparently there was a strong rivalry between the two as the Eisental Guards felt superior to mere militia, yet envied them for having the same training available.

Edgar continued to show Heinrich up through the town until their journey ended outside a large stone palace at the top of the town, looking down on all the inhabitants. He went inside and quickly reappeared, beckoning Heinrich to come and join him. The inside of the palace was as glorious as the outside. Heinrich noted it had a definite Kislevite feel to it and Edgar told him this was because the Margrave’s family had been ousted centuries ago from Kislev by Chaos forces and found a home in Ostermark by marrying the then Margrave’s daughter to Mikhail. This news made Heinrich think that it might be easy to win some support from the Margrave for his cause.

The Margrave sat at a huge banqueting table in a room surrounded by the mounted heads of many creatures, evidently hunted in the Osterwald. He was not an old man by any stretch of the imagination, but he was instead haggard by his tough lifestyle and upbringing. He had flowing black hair and a huge moustache yet dressed fairly flamboyantly in the way of any noble, even those of Altdorf, not at all befitting his heritage or his local custom.

“Heinrich is it?” he boomed from the end of the table, “I hear you bring me grave news of my homeland. Marcus, get this man a drink whilst he tells me of his troubles”

A servant brought a goblet of fine wine to Heinrich as he explained his business to the Margrave.

“Indeed I do my lord, I am afraid the forces of Chaos amass once again. Elector Hertwig wishes that the Dwarfs of Karak Kadrin honour a long pledge of aid against the foul beings and will travel north to provide some reinforcement. However, I am bereft of transport after falling foul of the bandits of this land and have come to you for aid.”

“Well then, if this is the case, I shall see what I can do to help young sir. I will assemble a small expeditionary force to send to Bechafen within the next week, and I think I shall accompany them, show those Norse bastards what’s what. I’ll send out a message to the other nobles to think about doing the same thing. In the meantime I will send word to the watches of Nachtdorf and on to Blutfurt to look out for you and give you whatever you need, but I am afraid that is all I can offer”
“That is quite enough my lord, thank you for your kindness and I wish you all the best with your expeditionary force, perhaps I shall see you on the battlefield”

‘Perhaps you shall. Now if you will excuse me, I have business to attend to”

In the reflection in his goblet, Heinrich could see a young woman standing suggestively in the doorway, and the looks of the Margrave in her direction were hard to miss.

“Thankyou my lord, I shall leave you to it”

Heinrich left the banqueting hall and the palace. On the way Edgar explained that the Margrave is a known womaniser, and has had over five wives, none of which have provided him with any legitimate male heirs. Almost all of the richer merchants of the town and surroundings have tried to tempt the Margrave with their daughters in hope of fame and fortune, but none of his mistresses have provided him with any boys, not even illegitimately. Some old wives tales say this is because of curse put on the family by a Kislevite Ice Witch but no one is entirely sure.

Edgar showed Heinrich to a local inn, ‘The Flintlock’, one known well by the Road Patrol and thus avoided by the criminal tricksters like ‘Leo’ and mostly avoided by sparring soldiers. Its barman and innkeeper was a Dwarf who stood upon a stool to serve the drinks, and whose beard still managed to reach the floor. He had been there since the town had sprung up and enjoyed serving the noble Road Patrolmen his homemade Dwarf ale. After a few mugs of this strong beer, Heinrich fell asleep, falling off his stool to the great amusement of all in the bar, and he took that as a sign to head to bed, ready for his next day’s travel to the town of Nachtdorf, and then perhaps Blutfurt if he was lucky....


Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2010, 03:28:02 PM »
Well if there's anyone reading this, here's part three...

Part Three

The next morning Heinrich awoke late, nursing a throbbing head and a mouth as dry as a Khemrian parchment a result of his actually fairly moderate drinking the night before. Once again he thought he must be going soft, or that these southerners were a much hardier folk than he had believed. Walking back to the outpost he found Edgar and Sergeant Faber had been waiting for him with a horse for quite a while. After laughing at his misfortune with the Dwarf ale, claiming ‘they’d all been there’, a reassuring thought for Heinrich, they sent him on his way.

The ride to Nachtdorf was fairly uneventful, and Heinrich did not see this as at all disadvantageous. He was happy to be safe, with a weapon by his side and back on track for the first time in a few days. He was weary he would be a few days late, but having secured the help of the Margrave and maybe some other nobles he believed he might have bought the Bechafen defenders some more time before the full force of the Dwarfen reinforcements could get there.

After a good few hours on the road, passing only a few lone homesteads, farms and some travellers, Heinrich believed himself to be fairly safe, for the first time since his robbery. As dusk fell he was entering civilisation, homesteads became more frequent and cultivated land could be seen for quite a distance.

It was then he heard the thunder of hooves, the sounds of heavily armed riders racing towards him. He turned around to see five almost ghostly apparitions bearing down on him. They wore black lacquered armour and had terrifying white skulls on the front of their helmets, as well as the armour of their horses, topped with purple plumes. Heinrich leapt off his horse and hid in the nearest bush, not knowing who these riders were and not wanting to find out. The knights rode on, not paying him any attention whatsoever and once the ground stopped thundering, Heinrich recovered his horse and continued on his journey to Nachtdorf.

Within an hour he could see the reassuring lights of the small town and see smoke rising from its chimneys. He was never so happy to see a town in his life, and when he arrived he headed straight for the nearest inn, intrigued to find out who these riders where. The inn was the only one in the town, ‘The Frothing Mug’, and Heinrich tethered his horse outside.

When he ordered a drink, the barwoman commented on his seal ring.

“Oh you must be that agent that the Margraves messenger were talking about, we’ve already got you a room ready, and here’s an ale, on the house m’love.”

She handed him a mug of ale, overflowing with froth, the inns namesake.

“It’s good fer ya that there froth, stops the ol’ sore head in the mornin’”

Heinrich didn’t believe her spiel for one minute, seeing it as a ruse to peddle three quarters of a mug for the price of a whole one, but wouldn’t refuse a free drink. He was however astounded at the speed of the messenger who had heralded his arrival, he had believed he was riding as fast as he could have, but evidently not.

“Sommat looks like it’s troublin’ you m’dear” The barwoman started up again.

Heinrich explained to the barmaid about his encounter with the five ghostly riders.

“Oh that’s nothing to worry about deary, just the local knights. Order of the White Rose, Morrites all of ‘em, but they keep this area in check, and they’re sommat to scare the kids into doin’ good. Wonder where they were off t’ in such a rush though?”

Not particularly encouraged by her explanation Heinrich ordered a glass of vodka from her, wanting to avoid the froth and being ripped off, and went to sit down on a table. Soon after he had got himself settled, a mysterious man wandered over to his table. He was wearing a purple hood and cape, and had a raven emblazoned on his belt buckle, his boots and on a ring on his middle finger of his right hand.

“Excuse me sir, I overheard you talking about your encounter with the Order of the White Rose, I hope you don’t mind. Can I have a seat?”

Not wanting to refuse someone who might explain this order of knights a bit further, no matter how strange looking they were, Heinrich offered him a seat.

“Well it sounds like they were in quite a rush, they must have skirted the town, we completely missed them. I wonder where they were going at such a speed at this time of night....” The man trailed off lost in thought.

“Excuse me”, Heinrich interrupted his thought, “but who are you, and what do you know of these knights?”

“My name is Mathias Richter, that is all you need to know for now. Those knights are the local order, they worship Morr over any other god and they fight all his enemies, keeping this area safe from bandits, the undead, you name it, they fight it. They must have been heading to battle somewhere...”
Mathias then suddenly got up and left, paying off his tab and rushing to the door.

Heinrich was left utterly confused, and the only one left in the inn. He then asked the barmaid as to whom Mathias was.

“I don’t rightly know m’darling, but what’ve I’ve ‘eard is he’s a knight too, but of the Order of the Raven. They say that them Raven boys aren’t up to no good, they’re scavengers, out for fighting so they can pillage both sides’ dead afterwards then vanish into the ether when the battles end comes. Despicable men, but then I’m a barmaid, what do I know, it’s only gossip m’love”

Heinrich put two and two together, the raven insignia, the interest in the direction of the knights, he wanted to know where the battle would be happening so he could loot the bodies. Not thinking about this too much Heinrich meandered towards his bedchamber, trying not to reflect on his eerie night and focussing on tomorrow’s journey, hopefully now nearing the end of his important mission....


Cheers

Hooch

Offline anvalous

  • Posts: 607
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2010, 05:59:02 PM »
Hooch,

For the record, I'm enjoying the tale.  Looking forward to some action, but the pieces are well written and enjoyable.  Our man Heinrich seems to have a bit of a problem with liquor...

Keep up the good work, and thank you!

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2010, 06:14:34 PM »
Hooch,

For the record, I'm enjoying the tale.  Looking forward to some action, but the pieces are well written and enjoyable.  Our man Heinrich seems to have a bit of a problem with liquor...

Keep up the good work, and thank you!

Ah glad someone's following my story  :happy:

Don't worry about the action, it is definitely on its way  :biggriin:

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2010, 11:14:21 AM »
Here is Part 5, Part 6 is in its finishing stages and should be up later too :happy:

And anvalous, here's a bit of action for you...

Part Five

Heinrich reached Dorhof late in the afternoon. The settlement consisted of four or five houses, and a small inn called ‘The Crab and Basket’. It was a predominantly fishing village, nestled within the woods from which they made their boats. The hamlet was home to twenty odd people and many of them were in the inn at the time, drinking the local mead after a hard days fishing. When a stranger pulled up outside on a horse, they all went outside to greet him and ask why he had come to their humble village.
Heinrich explained the danger Ostermark was in, and the danger that he was now in too due to his run in with Mathias. They all leapt about in excitement and fear. Drama had reached this enclosed community and they were excited that something could distract them from their days, ruled by strict routine and boredom.

One man, Heinrich noticed, had not come out to meet him. He was sat in the corner of the inn, smoking a long pipe. He was clad entirely in dirty grey robes and had a scruffy long white beard. On the table were a battered blue hat and a cloak lined with some kind of fur. A gnarled staff was also leant up against the table. He kept smoking but fixed his eyes on Heinrich intently, scaring him, for Heinrich was convinced his eyes were jet black like the night’s sky.

“Who’s that in the corner?” Heinrich asked one of his many admirers.

“That’s Grunewald, he’s a travelling magician. Came by here a few days back now, the last drama any of us ‘ave ‘ad. My cousin up there in Osthaf says ‘e travels round all these parts, offering ‘is services fer money. Some say ‘e’s even an advisor to the ol’ Margrave and some say ‘e’s been around as long as t’ March itself ‘as”

One man then came up to Heinrich, interested in his story about the Raven Knights.

“They aren’t popular round these parts, keep usin’ their immunity from the Margrave to rob us. Sure they’ll ‘elp us fight if we get attacked by bandits, but they just do it sos they can take our stuff afterwards”

After talking to the residents of the hamlet for a good while, still being watched by Grunewald all the time, and having retold his stories several times already, he decided he should go to bed. Paying the landlord a very reasonable fee he headed up the stairs to one of the two rooms, thinking it lucky the inn had any space for a man like him.

In the middle of the night, he heard a scream and leapt from his bed to the window. Several men on horseback, wearing hoods and carrying shields in the shape of a raven were outside the inn. They had already killed the landlord’s son, struck down by their horse’s hooves. The scream had been the boy’s mother.

“Heinrich, come out come out wherever you are you bastard!” One of the knights shouted.

They beat the landlord’s wife, asking her to confess his whereabouts. Heinrich began to arm himself and dress appropriately, not wanting to be caught once again by bad luck in his undergarments.

“See what you’re making us do Heinrich, come out and we won’t have to kill her like you did to Mathias!”

 “I’m up here, come and get me you cowards!” Heinrich shouted back.

He made his way to the top of the stairs, a pistol in each hand, and waited, his heart beating in fear and excitement. This was the first fight he’d ever been in. Once again he cursed his sheltered city upbringing for not teaching him how to deal with this sort of situation.

He heard banging in the bar downstairs, and heard the heavy metal footsteps of two of the knights approaching the door.

They burst through and Heinrich blasted each one with his pistols, forcing them backwards with the shock, and killing them instantly with the short range.

Heinrich then drew his sword and headed cautiously through the door. One more knight was waiting for him in the bar and caught him entirely by surprise, clubbing him on the back of the head with the pommel of his sword.

Now on the floor, numb with pain, Heinrich felt the back of his head. It was wet and sticky with his own blood. He was however surprised to see nothing else had happened to him, no killing sword blow, no more kicks to his gut. He turned around to see Grunewald standing over him and no sign of the other knight. Grunewald offered him a hand to help him up.

In a voice that evidently hadn’t been used for a long while, the wizard mumbled, “Looks like you need some help laddie, stick with me and you’ll be just fine”

“Thank you Grunewald, but what happened to that knight?”

Grunewald just nodded towards the frog on the floor and winked.

The two men burst out of the inn and into the chaos ensuing outside. The knights had set about burning down the village, and were toying with the villagers as they raced to the river to fetch water to put out their fires. They were also loading up with the few riches of the poverty stricken village.
On seeing Heinrich and Grunewald they turned their attention away from their despicable games and charged. Heinrich steadied his sword, fearing for his life. Grunewald readied himself, striking his staff against the floor, causing the ground to shake and start to open up.

This caught one knight by surprise, and he fell to his death through the gaping chasm. The others, however, were more skilled riders, leaping or skirting the pit and descending on the two men.
Suddenly, from nowhere, arrows struck the riders, perfectly aimed and felling them almost instantly. The one knight lucky enough to evade the arrows fled in terror and cheers rang out from the panicked villagers.

Out of the woods came a group of about twenty men, hooded and armed to the teeth. As the men started collecting their arrows and recovering the villager’s stolen goods two men stepped forwards. One was clearly marked as a holy man by his red robes and icons of Sigmar, the other was harder to ascertain, he was clearly a rogue like the others, but he had an air of authority and natural power. He had long, flowing, light brown hair, going grey with his age and an accompanying moustache. He looked rugged but still handsome and somewhat noble.

“Greetings Heinrich”

Heinrich was shocked at the man’s knowledge of his name.

“Don’t be afraid, we have heard of you over the last few days and your purpose here. We have eyes and ears everywhere in these parts. Hence how we knew of your fight here, and how lucky we were we found you.”

Heinrich was still very much confused.

“Where are my manners, my name is Hermann Mach, and this is Father Tak. I see you have already met my friend Grunewald too. The men you see behind us are my men. We are outlaws in this land, but we fight for the justice of its people against the Margrave”

“The Margrave, what’s wrong with him? Well besides the womanizing of course. He seemed fairly reasonable when I met with him” Heinrich questioned, still confused about the whole situation.

“Well Heinrich, as we speak, the Margrave is amassing an army, but not for the purpose you believe. He told you that he would send out messages to all the other Barons and nobles in the area, but that is only pretence. He knows of their honourable intentions to defend Ostermark and seeks to take advantage of it. When they take their armies, he will move to annex their depleted lands for himself, Nagenhof, Fichetal, Blutfurt, whilst stopping you reach the Dwarfs so they don’t help Bechafen. That way, he will become the most powerful man in Ostermark, the capital will fall and he will rule the two biggest towns. The tyranny will be unbearable; we must stop this from happening.”

“How do you propose doing this, you are just a common outlaw, the Margrave has whole armies after people like you”

“Ha! You underestimate me my dear friend! I am no mere outlaw; I am the rightful Margrave of these lands. The current Margrave may tell you he came here from Glastroika and took up a seat through marriage but that is wrong. His family ousted my family by having my brothers assassinated and then forcing my sister into marriage, so that only Mikhail’s son could continue the bloodline. Father Tak here, my father’s priest, hid me away from their family’s assassins in woods in a small hamlet called Seehow. Grunewald, my father’s advisor infiltrated the family and put the famous curse on Mikhail, not the Ice Witch as many believe, so that when I gain an opportunity I can usurp him and end the tyranny.”

Heinrich was dumbfounded by this information and needed to know more.

“And the Raven Knights, what role do they play in all of this?”

“Those Knights are commissioned by the Margrave to be his unseen secret police. They keep me in check regularly, along with anyone who crosses the Margrave, including you. Edgar, your Road Patrol friend, was assassinated by them, not by any ‘undead’, for he was working independently, trying to reach Karak Kadrin, for he is the fastest rider of the whole Road Patrol. He was intercepted outside of Blutfurt, climbing into the mountains towards the Dwafen Hold. Sergeant Faber has also disappeared, presumably due to his knowledge of your quest.”

Despite feeling more and more rage towards the Margrave and the Raven Knights, Heinrich was still puzzled.

“What about the Order of the White Rose, where were they headed?”

“They were in pursuit of Edgar’s assassins; Morr does not appreciate a life being taken when it is not rightly deserved. Reports are that they caught up with them, gruesome, gruesome deaths really.... Anyway, you can trust them, they work for no one other than Morr. Rest here for the rest of tonight and we shall travel on to Karak Kadrin in the morning. I haven’t spoken to King Ironfist for a very long time...”


Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2010, 10:17:20 PM »
Part 6 now up...

Part Six

Heinrich woke in the morning with many thoughts running through his head. He had to make it to Karak Kadrin alive, he had to stop Margrave von Glastroika and he had to save Bechafen. He had a lot to do. In a matter of days he had gone from a humble messenger from Bechafen to a wanted criminal, fraternising with outlaws and plotting to usurp a noble in order to save Ostermark from a civil conflict and tyranny. He needed a drink. He then suddenly realised the countryside must be having an effect on him; he could now stomach alcohol with his breakfast.

Mach’s men had prepared several boats to take them upstream to the mountains. They believed this would be safer than travelling by the unkempt dirt roads, where Raven Knights could lie in ambush. The men rowed the craft hard upstream, making significant progress against the current gushing from the mountains as the winter’s snows melted.

Mach had reassured Heinrich that he had also sent runners to the towns to delay the formation of militias, leaving the Margrave lacking in troops to stage his invasion for a short while. This had bought them some time, which they knew they would need in their current situation.
To the East the foothills started to spring up and to the South the mountains were beginning to seem huge, signalling to Heinrich they were nearing the end of their safe journey. It was almost impossible to reach Karak Kadrin without using the Kadrin Road and Peak Pass, so they would have to risk ambush and a fight.

Finally they docked at the feet of the looming mountains, and were met by men who came out of the Blutwald with horses and supplies for the weary travellers. They ate quickly and refuelled, and the new recruits joined them on their journey. They now numbered nearly forty men. Heinrich really now began to see the unpopularity of the Margrave and the influence of Mach, despite his outlaw status. He really did have eyes and ears everywhere.

The small army road past the woodland towards the Blutfurt, the place they assumed they would be ambushed, as there was no other way of crossing the River to be able to rejoin the Kadrin road. The citizens of Blutfurt had no idea of the peril they were in, Edgar had never stopped to warn them, all he knew was that he had to reach the Dwarfs.

The men arrived at Gielsdorf, a small settlement south of Blutfurt and were met by a few dozen armed men, dressed in Ostermark livery, but like the man in Eisental, with many different colours. According to one of the recruits from the area, they were the militia of Gielsdorf and Blutfurt, responding presumably to the threat of forty armed men in the service of a known outlaw racing through their lands.
The militia sergeant stepped forward.   

“Hermann Mach, notorious outlaw, you have a generous bounty on your head, doubled by the Margrave as of last night. Do you expect us to stand by and let you ride through our town unquestioned? “ The sergeant started.

“Wait a minute, who’s this?” He continued, looking intently at Heinrich and studying a poster he had in his saddlebag.

“Is that one Heinrich Zimmer? Another felon and one with a significantly larger bounty on his head? Apparently you’ve ransacked a ship in Osterwald, murdered a Road Patrol Sergeant and been implicated in the death of a Road Patrolman north of here, as well the horrific and brutal murders of two honourable knights. Get ‘em boys!”

A hail of crossbow bolts flew through the air into Mach’s men. Heinrich and Mach leapt off their horses and drew their weapons. The militia halberdiers ran in under the cover of the crossbows and made contact with the outlaws.

Heinrich let off both of his pistols into the gut of one man who was about to cleave him in two with his great weapon, apologising profusely as the man died clutching the mess of his intestines. He didn’t mean for this to happen, it was all von Glastroika’s fault.

Mach was cutting through man after man, used to this sort of combat. Under his cloak his armour glistened supernaturally and weapons seemed to just bounce off him.

He caught Heinrich looking and shouted, “It’s magic mate, family heirloom from Mordhiem, meteoric iron or something, keeps ‘em at bay at any rate!”

Father Tak chanted prayers of forgiveness as he smashed the skulls of the unfortunate militia with his holy hammer, begging Sigmar to let them into his realm, for they had done nothing wrong.
Grunewald stood back with the archers, and from time to time would kill a militia man with his magic, leaving several frogs leaping around and many men already in their graves after being swallowed by the earth.

A trumpet sounded in the distance.

“They’re bringing in reinforcements, steady yourselves men!” Mach shouted over the din of battle.

Sure enough, over the hill more militia men came, but this time they were accompanied by a band of Raven Knights, a dozen of them bearing down on the outlaws.

“Mach, we’ve got trouble!” Father Tak bellowed, chanting prayers of protection under his breath.
Suddenly another trumpet sounded towards the mountains. This time it was not that of the militia. It gave a ghostly howl, like death would sound if it was made into music. Over the other hill, two dozen ghostly knights appeared, standing ominously overlooking the battle bellow. Morr was evidently unhappy at the loss of so many lives for no real reason. The Knights of the Order of the White Rose descended in a full gallop, and the earth shook unnaturally under their hooves. The militia men fled in abject terror, all the childhood stories seemingly coming true before their very eyes. Only the Raven Knights remained, facing up to their arch enemies.

The crunch of battle joining was horrific; bodies were impaled on purple spears and men flew from their horses with the swipes of swords. The crisp bone white of the White Rose Knights’ helmets became stained red with the enemy’s blood. The few remaining Raven Knights fled into the distance to the cheers of the outlaws and the relief of Heinrich.

The captain of the Knights of the White Rose rode towards Mach, and handed him an hourglass, the symbol of Morr.

“This symbolises the time left for the current Margrave. It is short. When you become the ruler of these lands once again, you can rely on our service. The sands of your family shall run for a long time.”
Then he rode back to his men and they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared, convincing Heinrich once again they were actually ghostly apparitions.

The outlaws were free to carry out the final stages of their mission, and Heinrich was tangibly close to the Karak and saving his beloved Ostermark.


Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2010, 04:51:24 PM »
Over half way now, Part 7 is below.

Comments would be much appreciated if you have any, its getting lonely talking to myself...

Part Seven

Later that day they crossed the Blutfurt safely, free from further attack. After crossing the ford, they came across the assassins who had caught up with Edgar here a few days earlier. The Knights of the White Rose had sacrificed them to Morr for their deeds. Their skin had been peeled off with a scythe to reveal the skeletons beneath, removing them of their living bodies in the afterlife, so they shall always remain lifeless, eternal death rather than eternal life. They had been left hanging from a tree, a withered oak tree, having no graves or honour. Heinrich shuddered at their demise and Father Tak further cursed them in the name of Sigmar, preventing them from ever finding redemption in the eyes of the gods.

The mountain path was a difficult climb. The melting snows due to the decent weather had caused many small streams to form, washing away the paths and making going particularly treacherous. As they climbed all the men were becoming particularly weary. Many succumbed to their wounds sustained in the battle earlier that day and exhaustion became a major problem. The men decided to make camp halfway through the pass.

Heinrich looked around him. Dwarfen statues were carved into the surrounding mountain sides, reminding humans who held dominion over these lands. He considered his journey so far, something initially so simple, requesting the help of Elector Hertwig’s old ally, that had unfurled to reveal a conspiracy, treachery, danger and adventure. Despite all this, Heinrich had fallen in love with the south. He loved the thrill he had felt when fighting, he had admired the wonderful countryside, and now he had found people he could trust in a land full of bandits. His city days were numbered, he wanted to become a true Ostermarker.

Just after the men had fallen asleep, the man on watch shouted.

“Rangers, rangers! Wake up! Wake up!”

Dwarfen rangers were coming down the pass from the direction of the Karak. The men collected their belongings; it seemed they were going to the Hold sooner than they thought. The rangers reached the men quickly and were quick to question their motives.

“We’ve ‘ad reports of some armed Umgi ‘eadin our way, I take it that’d be you lot then? What d’you want with us?”

Mach spoke up on behalf of his men.

“My name is Hermann Mach and this is Heinrich Zimmer, we request an audience with King Ironfist, it is a matter of urgency.”

“Right you are then, just you two mind, we’ll look after your boys, don’t want no trouble”
The Dwarf Captain led the men towards the Karak, not speaking unless it was muttering to his colleague in Khazalid.

“He’s saying that we are ignorant humans, demanding an audience with the King at this hour” Mach whispered, “I would remind him it’s his fault we’re interrupting his highness now, but you never want to argue with a Dwarf, remember that.”

“How did you learn Khazalid?” Heinrich questioned.

“I’ve got a lot of spare time whilst on the run, no job or anything. Plus my family and I have always been on good terms with King Ironfist, so it serves me well to attempt to learn his language.”

 They arrived after a very long walk at the gates of the Karak. Heinrich was blown away by the architecture and magnitude of the structure. Huge Dwarfen figures towered over him and the detail in the sculpture was breathtaking, no human could ever create something of such beauty out of stone like a Dwarf could. The gate itself was an enormous piece of stone, inscribed with runes which glowed and glinted in the rising sun. The ranger Captain ushered them through after speaking with the guards of the hold.

Inside the Karak, Heinrich was even more astounded. Ceilings as high as the eye could see and a world of tunnels and corridors below him.  It was like the whole mountain had been hollowed out. Magnificent arches supported impossibly huge columns. The attention to detail all around was perfect, runes, figures, everything imaginable made the place just look unbelievably perfect to the human eye. Dwarfs ran about their every day work, hammers rang down in forges, in stonemasons. The Hold echoed with the sound of work.

“This way” grunted the Dwarf.

The two men followed the Dwarf up the stairs, and Heinrich noted that the steps were particularly low, and he could have easily taken three at a time. However, as not to offend his Dwarfen guide he took them one by one, staying well behind the clearly irritated Dwarf.

Upon reaching the top of the seemingly never ending spiral staircase the party came to a huge hall, it was the throne room. This room was grander than anything Heinrich had ever seen, surpassing the great entrance hall tenfold. There were magnificent statues with gems glistening in the candlelight. Heavily armed Dwarfs lined the walls, there huge hammers at their sides, two eyes watching out of a mass of beard, unflinching, and particularly unnerving for Heinrich. At the end of the room was a large throne, surrounded by many more of these armed Dwarfs. It was a fabulous seat, located high above level of the two men so that the king could look down his nose at anyone who came to see him. It was made purely of gold and gleamed with magical runes, which cracked and sparked every once in a while.

“Who enters my kingdom and demands an audience with me at this hour!” King Ungrim Ironfist’s voice bellowed from his vantage point.

In his best Khazalid, Mach started up.

“Your almighty highness, forgive me for disturbing you in the middle of your sleep. I am Hermann Mach and I bring urgent news from Elector of Ostermark. As you well see, my friend Heinrich here carries his seal, and a grave message.”

A guard came to check Heinrich’s ring finger and nodded in acknowledgement.

“Mach, I thought I recognised you. You humans do change appearance very quickly to our Dwarfen eyes. Now, drop your awful attempts at our language before you make my guards break their vow of silence by laughing. We shall speak in your own tongue if that would be easier. Now, Heinrich was it? What is this ‘grave message’ you friend Mach speaks of?"

The two men explained about the forces of evil approaching Bechafen and told him of the Margrave’s plot to split Ostermark into civil war.

“By Grungni!” the King exclaimed. “Well that is settled, you must have our help. We have an agreement to honour with the Elector of Ostermark and if this Glastroika is plotting what you say he is, then that threatens our own security. We cannot have you umgi fighting amongst yourselves whilst the ravaging tides of Chaos bear down on our ancestral home, the ancestors would not have it! I can pledge five hundred of our finest warriors and I will send out the signal for the Slayers of the area to gather, they will provide some exceptional troops for your army”

The two men were then lead to the entrance hall and left the stronghold behind. After a short walk through the pass they came across the rest of Mach’s men, who had walked up the pass to meet with the two ambassadors.

“So, what happened?” an inquisitive outlaw inquired

At that moment a horn boomed from the hold and the ground shook with the noise.

“Kadrin marches to war!”


Cheers

Hooch

Offline anvalous

  • Posts: 607
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2010, 05:08:47 PM »
Things really do seem to be picking up.  Once you're done, I'd encourage you to find another set of eyes to work through this body of work and take the effort of some tweaking.  The story and concept flow well and I believe could be enhanced by minor modifications.

That said, I am enjoying this read and am happy to hear that you're only half complete.  The inevitable clash between Hermann and Glastroika will be mighty.  If you're still plotting the next few steps, consider a plot twist or serious obstacle for the expedition.  Though harassed, Heinrich has made it through with convenient help and 'relative' ease.  A little added drama and character conflict could be a great addition to the depth of the tale.

Thank you for taking the time on this!

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2010, 09:34:56 PM »
Things really do seem to be picking up.  Once you're done, I'd encourage you to find another set of eyes to work through this body of work and take the effort of some tweaking.  The story and concept flow well and I believe could be enhanced by minor modifications.
...
Thank you for taking the time on this!

Thank you for sticking with it! :biggriin:

These minor modifications, are you thinking grammar, as that is something that could be touched up, or something a little different. I know it's not perfect, but of course I will try and sort these things out, perhaps in time for the prequel I now have planned, the Outlaws of Osterwald....

Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

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Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2010, 09:02:37 AM »
Part 8 coming right up...

Part Eight

At first light the men were awoken by the earth shaking once again. This time, it was due to the dust cloud approaching from the Dwarfen Hold. As the column approached, the men witnessed something spectacular. Rank upon rank of uniformed Dwarfs poured out of the Hold, their armour shining brilliantly in the breaking sunshine. Accompanying these regimented soldiers were several dozen orange haired, tattooed and barely clothed Dwarfs, banding together into small groups. Heinrich noted that these were the Slayers King Ironfist had promised, Dwarfs he had only heard tales of passed down into Ostermark traditional tales. The sight was glorious, and Heinrich knew that now his quest was over, Karak Kadrin had mobilised, Ostermark would be saved.

The march was not as slow as Heinrich had expected from as slow as the Dwarfs, they were determined and made a good pace down the mountains and into Blutfurt. As they marched, more and more Slayers joined the ranks, evidently having heard the horn the night before and venturing forth with the throng to fight honour and death in battle.

The denizens of Blutfurt were astounded when the next morning they awoke to hear news of the approaching Dwarfen throng. The townsfolk had heard of the battle a day before in Gielsdorf, and when Mach and Heinrich rode through the town at the head of the Dwarfen army, they were even more confused. The two men were supposedly wanted criminals, but yet they had the support of an entire army on their side.

Frieherr Amadeus Bebel, the ruler of Blutfurt, rode out to meet the approaching column, meeting with Mach and Heinrich to ask what in Sigmar’s name was going on. He was quickly informed of the Margrave of Eisental’s ambitions for whilst the Frieherr rode north, his plot to stop Heinrich reaching Karak Kadrin to allow such an army to assemble and Mach’s true identity. The Frieherr was dumbfounded at such a conspiracy brewing in his own homelands, and pledged his militias to removing the Margrave from power and reinstating Mach. Now the army numbered nearly one thousand men and Dwarfs.

It did not take long before the Margrave realised what had happened. Reports had flocked from the surrounding areas of Blutfurt, and he had started to gather the militias of the local areas to Eisental, threatening them with the Knights of the Raven, and threats of fines, confiscation of property or even death. The militias of Fichetal had been North past Eisental, and the Margrave had even corrupted them, telling them that a known criminal conman had tricked the Dwarfs and then threatened the citizens of Blutfurt into joining him in taking over the entire of Southern Ostermark. The defences of Eisental were prepared for battle, the men numbering at least five hundred, accompanied by the entire Order of the Raven, a further one hundred highly skilled men.  Despite being severely outnumbered, the men were held by fear and were protected by defences constructed by those who know sought to destroy them.

As the huge horde approached Eisental, Heinrich noticed horsemen in the distance. As they neared he instantly recognised Franz and the head of least twenty other Road Patrolmen.

“Franz, good to see you! What can I do for you?”

“It’s Sergeant Hoch now after Faber’s murder. We of the Road Patrol wish to fight with your army, we have not been told to, we are disobeying all direct orders, but what happens near the Osterwald is our business, it is our livelihood, and we are prepared to die protecting that!”
The twenty men cheered and raised their horses up in agreement.

With the extra allies the host moved to surround the town, taking up offensive positions. The Dwarfs moved their artillery into strategic positions and the militia followed with their, by comparison, shoddy weaponry.  The battle lines were drawn.

A lone horseman rode from the gates to meet the commanders of the coalition war host. He wore the trademark outfit of a Raven Knight, the purple hood and armour and road a jet black horse. As he slowed his horse, he took off his hood. Heinrich let out a gasp, the man was ‘Leo’, the first sign of trouble he had encountered. He suddenly remembered being punched by the ring with the raven insignia, now it all made sense.

“My name is Leo, as you already know dear Heinrich.” he laughed, “Got yourself into quite a bit of trouble haven’t you? I am the Margrave’s right hand man, and he is happy for you to begin your siege, for you shall never defeat the hardy men we have inside. The Order of the Raven may not fight for honour, but they do fight for their own existence. Oh and Mach, he sends this for you.”
Leo spat at Mach’s feet, turned his horse and returned back into the town.

Mach then turned to his men and the allied Dwarfs, and began to make a speech. All the while the Dwarf commander translated.

“My honourable friends, my valiant men and my treasured allies, today, we it may seem like we are fighting our own brothers, fellow Ostermarkers but I assure you, and I have Father Tak’s word, Sigmar will not punish you for taking their lives in defence of an honourable cause. Behind those walls lies a man who has oppressed these lands for too long, with cruelty, violence and treachery. However, beyond the town lies a threat to our lands much more evil. The dark forces amass in the North, and threaten our fair capital, and then our homeland itself. If we do not brush aside this menace now, then our lands lie open to the despicable threat. Our Dwarfen friends have vowed to never let this happen, and have joined us to defeat two evils. We will fight my friends, for the honour of your homeland, we will fight for the safety of Ostermark and we will fight for Elector Hertwig!”

Cheers bellowed from the ranks of the men and the Dwarfs, horns resounded, battle was about to begin....


Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2010, 01:39:41 PM »
Part 9 and the long awaited action arrives...

Part Nine

“Fiiirrreee!”

The Dwarfen artillery started up on the right flank. It was a horrific noise and Heinrich had to cover his ears, afraid they would bleed. The cannon balls and large pieces of masonry flew into the Dwarfen walls of Eisental. The screams of men could be heard in the distance, falling from their positions or being ripped apart by shrapnel. However, the walls stood fast, a testament to their makers.
The bombardment continued with a vigour, the Dwarfs and men loading their machines  at great speeds, keeping up the hail of lead and stone. The walls still did not budge.

“This is futile” Mach mumbled to Heinrich, before moving to find the Dwarf commander.

He returned after a few minutes discussion with the Dwarf.

“He says that his people made these walls so strong that it’ll take days to chip away at them.”

“We don’t have days, we’re needed up north” Heinrich reminded him.

“Well that’s decided then, we’ll have to sort this the old way, tooth and nail. Ready the men, we’re going to bring the fight to them!”

Mach’s men rode to the different sections of the army, forewarning them of the coming charge. The artillery bombardment focussed its efforts on the gateway and then began to slow in anticipation. Then, the combined Dwarf and human army charged.

Naturally, the militia men were the first to arrive at the walls, peppered crossbow bolts and blasted with cannon fire. The Dwarfs followed behind, arriving in almost perfect unison, a testament to their centuries of training. During the charge, to the delight of the men, the gate had been struck by a single rune inscribed cannon ball, and was now a blazing inferno, accompanied by the screams of men inside.
The fire soon subsided and with a great roar, the soldiers poured into the town. Heinrich and the commanders who had stayed behind rode forth to accompany their men.

Inside the fighting was brutal. The streets Heinrich had admired only days ago were now a vicious melee. The shops he had seen were burning to the ground and the roads covered in bodies and blood.

“Sigmar forgive us” He muttered under his breath.

As the men pushed their way up through the town and towards the palace, they were met by the Knights of the Order of the Raven, dismounted and threatening at the top of the hill. The men of Ostermark were enraged by this sight and their vigour doubled, racing towards the hated Order.
The Knights just stood, waiting for the charge of the impetuous men. As they met, the Knights cut down the militia in swathes, their martial expertise easily besting the poorly trained militia men. Heinrich and Mach were caught in the middle of this whirlwind of destruction and were now fighting for their lives.

Heinrich could see Mach out of the corner of his eye, duelling expertly with Knight after Knight, protected by his suit of armour, and slaying the foul knights, confused by his presumed immortality. Father Tak crushed skulls with extreme righteous force, almost enjoying being able to kill someone without having to beg for forgiveness. Heinrich however fought with his own unique style, adapted over the last few days, ducking and diving everywhere, staying as much out of the fight as he could. However, this worked out for him sometimes, and he believed luck to be on his side, for he would find a chance opportunity to shoot or stab an unsuspecting knight, leaving him for dead and avoiding the blows of his comrade.

The Dwarfs eventually caught up with the dwindling human ranks, and made quick work of the knights, even the duelling talents of the knights could not best the sheer toughness and grit of the Dwarf warriors. Heinrich had noted Margrave Glastroika skulking into his palace whilst his men fought, and the arrival of the Dwarfs signalled that it was time for him and Mach to dispense justice and bring the slaughter to an end.

They chased the Margrave into his palace, breaking through the huge doors with Father Tak’s great hammer.

“Mikhail, I just want to talk! Come out here and face me like a man!” Mach taunted.

Having heard noises above, they climbed the grand central staircase, desperate to find the man at the root of all this misery.

At the top, they were met with a familiar face.

“Hello again my friends” Leo grinned.

He drew his sword and beckoned to Heinrich.

“Seems like you and I have some unfinished business Heinrich; at least you’re clothed now anyway.”
Heinrich looked over towards Mach and his men, and nodded for Mach to continue and find Glastroika and his bodyguards and finish this battle.

The two men then joined in combat, and Heinrich was truly terrified. Leo slashed away with his elegant duelling sword, whistling through the air and flying dangerously close to Heinrich’s head. Not able to think of anything else, Heinrich kept just ducking and diving, hoping once again luck would favour him.
After a few minutes, it was evident the older Leo was beginning to tire, his heavy armour weighing him down. However, he was still as aggressive as ever, and pushed Heinrich back towards a wall, cornering him.

One powerful blow knocked Heinrich’s sword clean out of his hand. Now he was truly terrified, he had nothing to protect himself with. Leo just laughed and pressed on, coming in for the killing blow. Heinrich was praying to all the gods, Sigmar, Morr, anyone who would listen for his safe keeping.

At the last moment, willing himself with all his faith, Heinrich ducked past him and Leo’s sword made contact with only the wood of the wall, much to Heinrich’s relief, lodging his sword deep inside a portrait of the Margrave’s mother.

Now Heinrich had the advantage, he was behind the tired, defenceless knight. Behind him was a display of weapons, crossed halberds behind a shield with the Margrave family crest upon it. He quickly tore one from the wall and used its butt to knock Leo to the floor. He raised it high above his head, ready to land the killing blow but hesitated. Could he do this to a unarmed man. The he remembered all that this man stood for, all that he had put not only Heinrich, but many others through, and with that and an almighty scream, he brought down the halberd into his opponent’s back, splitting it in two with a sickening crunch.

At that moment Mach reappeared, wiping blood from his sword and with a cheeky smile on his exhausted face.

“Well that’s that then my friend, on to Bechafen then?”


Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2010, 01:13:42 PM »
Part 10, drawing to and end now...

Part Ten

The battle was now over, with the Margrave dead along with the vast majority of the Raven Knights, there was nothing holding the surviving men to his cause of stopping Mach. In fact, they all cheered when Mach and Heinrich emerged from the palace, holding aloft the Margrave’s blood stained purple cloak as a symbol of his demise, and pledged themselves to his cause.

The battle had taken its toll upon the militias of the localities and Eisental’s army, but in reality, not too many had perished, the battle had been quick, and the vast amount of casualties had in fact been Knights of the Raven.

After the worst of the fires had been put out, the army set out once again, eager to not waste time. As they set out, Mach was approached by a messenger, out of breath and with a horse about to collapse.

“My ...have.....Bechafen...urgent....Hertwig....siege....started” he panted.

“Give him some space, Hans, get him some water, and some for his steed” Mach shouted to one of his men. “Repeat that but slower”

Taking a swig of the water the messenger started again.

“My lord, I have news from Bechafen, urgent news from Elector Hertwig, the siege has started.”

“Then we must make to Bechafen with haste, they need our help.”

The column were about to set off again on foot when they heard a loud chugging noise in the distance. Round the corner of the river, a magnificent sight appeared. Three great steam powered Dwarf ships were heading towards the men, spewing out black smoke and causing a wake that seemed to push all the water out of the river.

“Hail, Sir Mach!” the Captain called from the ship, “Courtesy of King Ironfist!”

“Well this’ll certainly help us get to Bechafen eh Heinrich? Gotta love Dwarf’s honouring their personal favours!”

The men and Dwarfs all boarded the craft, squeezing on and loading up the machinery using the marvellous steam powered crane device. Once again Heinrich wondered at the genius of the Dwarf craftsmen and their seemingly limitless inventive skills and attention to perfection.  Soon, with everyone loaded onto the ships, the engines started and the great steam powered wheels once again churned up the river.

The countryside was quickly passing by and Heinrich thought that this must be the way to travel these lands, safe and protected by thousands of men. As they ventured downstream they kept close to the Kadrin Road that had defined the last few weeks of Heinrich’s life. As they passed Osterwald, he remembered how he had started in this land and how, earlier that day, he had killed the man who had betrayed him after besting him in combat, something he had never even taken part in in his earlier life.
After passing Osterwald the surrounding countryside gave way to bleak moorland. Any way he looked, he could see for miles, the mountains to the East and the Dead Wood around Mordheim to the West. Within no time at all the ships were approaching Nagenhof.

Nagenhof was where the ships had to stop. There was no way the hulking craft could fit under the Nagenhof Bridge without destroying it completely. The Dwarfs, not wanting to destroy their own magnificent handiwork forced all of their voyagers to disembark and continue North on foot. The sailors bade farewell to the soldiers and wished them luck on the rest of their voyage, before paddling back upstream towards Karak Kadrin.

The now well rested soldiers continued towards Bechafen, eager to make it as soon as they could. Upon their arrival in Nachtdorf, they found that all soldiers had already headed North, and that the journey would take a good few days. Heinrich got the sinking feeling that they would be marching all day and night to make it in record time.

Sure enough, the next day was a day of hard marching, past Brunfahre, Heffengen and Zeisholz, stopping every so often to refuel. Heinrich had never seen such determination, and was convinced the sheer grit of the Dwarfs and their unbending motivation was driving the humans on, showing that they too could be as determined; after all it was a war for their own homeland they were heading towards.
Once the host had past Zeisholz, a scout rode up to Mach and the command party and addressed them with a fearful voice.

“Sir, we have spotted fifty riders in the distance. They have heads of skulls and jet black armour, we are not sure whether they are friend or foe, what should we do?”

“Skull faces you say? Sounds like our old friends, the Knights of the White Rose, about time they showed up!” Mach replied.

Sure enough, an hour later, over the horizon in the Veldt, the riders came out of the mist. It was a terrifying sight, and Heinrich was still not used to these daunting men despite his myriad of encounters with them over the last few days. In fact, he had still not convinced himself they were entirely human, but instead secretly believed they were soles Morr had kept alive for his own purposes, explaining their mysterious appearances, and knowledge of all of the goings on of Ostermark.

When night fell, the party had reached the Gryphon Wood and knew they were close to Bechafen. Despite the evident exhaustion amongst the men, but conversely the growing enthusiasm of the Dwarfs, eager for a fight, the column carried on through the wood, only stopping to rest in the middle of the night just outside of Reitwein. It was decided by the commanders that despite the urgency of the matter at hand, exhausted reinforcements were worse than no reinforcements, as it would just mean meaningless slaughter. With that, the army rested on their laurels. The human militias had performed one of the fastest marches in Ostermark’s long history and were now ready to defend that history and honour from the barbarian threat.


Cheers

Hooch

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2010, 05:01:32 PM »
Part 11, the final battle commences...

Part Eleven

The next morning, after a few hours sleep, the battle host set off for Muckenhof and then on to Bechafen. However, they were not ready for what they saw when they arrived at Muckenhof. The entire town had been raised to the ground, piles of dead bodies were heaped up and burnt in foul offerings to the dark gods. The warriors marched carefully to the top of the hill upon which Muckenhof stood, treating carefully to avoid treading on a body.

At the top of the hill, Heinrich saw what he believed to be impossible. Thousands upon thousands of northern warriors surrounded Bechafen. The skies cracked with supernatural thunder as daemons came out of the sky. Heinrich knew this was not just a normal northern incursion, this was part of something much bigger, something on a much greater scale.

The warriors of Bechafen were trapped within the walls of their city. Their artillery thundered away, but did nothing to deter the oncoming hordes. Huge monsters and siege towers made their way towards the city walls, only a few falling to cannon balls and warriors were already hacking apart the brave defenders on the ramparts.

In the distance Heinrich could see men dressed in the Red and Yellow of Talabecland, Elector Hertwig had truly send calls for help far and wide. On the other flank fellow brave Ostermarkers made a valiant stand to take the pressure off the besieged Bechafeners. Now it was time for the men of the Osterwald and the Dwarfs of Karak Kadrin to make their presence known. With a cheer and a horn blast, the veteran battle column charged for the last time, into the fray to save the beleaguered men of Bechafen.
 
The first into the fray were the Knights of the White Rose, smashing into the barbarians and impaling them up their lances. They were quickly followed by the berserk Slayers of Karak Kadrin, who tore the men limb from limb with their variety of axes, not caring for their own safety. Finally the militias of the March of Eisental and the men of Blutfurt and Fichetal all reached the battle, showing themselves to be brave and determined warriors in the face of such dire odds. Meanwhile, overhead the artillery flew into the enemy ranks, destroying their siege towers to aid the defenders on the battlements and Grunewald and the rune masters of the Dwarfs countered some of the enemy magicks that were raining down upon the Ostermark troops.

Very soon the men and Dwarfs had cut a significant path through the chaos horde. Heinrich had found himself once again alongside Mach in a swirling melee. He was now more confident in his combat ability and was dodging the clumsy blows of the hulking warriors before landing his sword in their bare muscle.

In the chaos of the fight, Heinrich did not notice the enormous giant heading directly towards him. The creature was horrifically mutated, and his three arms lashed out at the Ostermark men, sending them flying across the battlefield screaming. He was heading for the city walls, but not before he was headed straight for Heinrich.

Heinrich only noticed the hulking beast at the last moment, as its large foot hovered in the air above his head, casting a shadow that distracted Heinrich from his combat.

Just as the giant was going to make Heinrich a stain on the battlefield, he fell to his side, crushing many chaos warriors under his great mass. When Heinrich recovered from the shock he saw a lone maddened Slayer cheering in success. He had hacked through the ankle of the giant as it walked with his glowing rune axe, tearing through the ligaments and causing it to collapse. Once again Heinrich found himself thanking Sigmar for his astounding luck.

After several hours of fighting the tide was beginning to turn on the battle. Attention had turned from Bechafen itself enough so they could launch a devastating charge out of the gates.  Reinforcements had arrived from Talabheim and more of Talabecland and had secured their flank, pushing the remaining forces towards the Ostermarkers and Dwarfs. This was answered by the steadfast defence of their combined might, making once last push to counter the vile incursion.

Within no time the forces were broken and began to retreat back north, no doubt to gather their strength once again. The riders of the combined defence force chased after the fleeing warriors, eager to seek revenge for the devastation of their lands.

Despite the arrival of the reinforcements from Talabecland, it was obvious to Heinrich that his journey had not at all been in vain. Without the help of the Dwarfs and the alliance of the militias of South Eastern Ostermark, the tide would not have been turned, and who would have known what could have happened.

In the aftermath, the Ostermarkers surveyed their dead. Many had perished, too many, and their mangled corpses littered the battle field.

“My lord, come here!” a militia man beckoned to Mach.

On the floor lay Freiherr Bebel of Blutfurt, dying, an axe in his leg causing him to lose blood fast.

 “Mach....did we....win?” he grunted

“Of course we did, we Ostermarkers showed those barbarians who rules these lands!”

“I want...you to take...care of Blutfurt...I trust...you will...do a good...job” he managed to utter before he died.

Mach knelt down beside him and grasped his hand.

“Of course I will, you poor beggar”

He took his seal ring off his finger, signifying he now ruled Blutfurt. Just as he did this, a messenger called out:

“Make way for the Elector! Make way for Elector Hertwig!”


Hooch

Offline anvalous

  • Posts: 607
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2010, 01:42:57 PM »
I feel the need to offer a small cheer.  Hooray for the good guys!

Great story, Hooch!  Well done.

Offline Hooch

  • Posts: 439
  • Formerly Hoochlander
Re: Upon the Kadrin Road, A Tale of Ostermark
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2010, 03:59:42 PM »
I feel the need to offer a small cheer.  Hooray for the good guys!

Great story, Hooch!  Well done.

Thanks and yes, score one for the good guys!  :biggriin:

Anyway, here is Part 12 and the Epilogue which brings us to the end of the story. However, do not fear, Hooch will be writing more fluff soon. I am going to take a break from Ostermark for now and address every province, continuing my project of Provincial Folk Tales (link in sig) that I started two years ago. I also have plans for a prequel to this detailing the early life of Hermann Mach, Father Tak and his other bandits...

Part Twelve

Elector Hertwig came forward with a large procession, surrounded by his faithful body guard of Great Swords, all blood stained and exhausted, evidently the battle within the walls of Bechafen had been a hard fight.

“Looks like you boys have had one hell of a fight!” Mach shouted to the approaching men.

“Hermann Mach,” the Elector started, “I could say the same to you. Who would have thought it, a common scoundrel saving my city!”
He then turned to Heinrich.

“Heinrich my lad, I’ve heard all about your adventures down South, aren’t you glad you’re back home now, away from all these ruffians?!” he chuckled to himself.

“My liege, Heinrich here has done a great service to the March of Eisental”, Mach started. “He has helped me uncover treachery, save your own land from a civil conflict, and brought the reinforcements you saved your skin. I’d just like to let him know, we ‘ruffians’ consider himself one of us.”

“Well that’s very touching, but by all accounts, Herr Mach, you seem to have somehow gained the trust of my messenger, and taken advantage of his need to bring the Dwarfs of Karak Kadrin north to enact your own needs of deposing of Margrave Glastroika. In my consideration, you are the one causing civil conflict, whether or not you may have ‘saved my skin’”

“My lord, Herr Mach has not done anything wrong”, Heinrich protested. “Everything he says is true, Margrave Glastroika was plotting against you, and he wished to split Ostermark in two. Hermann Mach should be the rightful Margrave of Eisental.”

The Dwarf Commander stepped forward.

“Now look ‘ere ‘ertwig, if my King sends five ‘undred of our brave warriors t’elp you and die fer you’re bleedin’ city, then ‘e must reckon these two men ‘ave the right idea.  My King ‘as been watchin’ Eisental and that ol’ Margrave over the years, ‘n’ we’ve never liked ‘im, Mach on t’other hand, ‘is family ‘ave been long acquaintances of my King, ‘n’ if you want our ‘elp ever again, you’re gonna ‘ave to respect my King’s wishes”

This sudden outburst took Elector Hertwig by surprise; he had not expected such a ferverent defence of a common outlaw. Considering the position the Dwarf commander and envoy had put him in with the ultimatum, he had no choice but to accept Mach’s word.

“Well then, it seems like you have got what you wanted. I see also that you wear Freiherr Bebel’s ring, I am sorry for his demise, but I take it that means you have even more power than you had ever thought. Considering your backing by none other than King Ironfist, my valuable ally, I have no choice to accept you as Margrave of Eisental and Freiherr of Blutfurt. However, hear this. I will be watching you all of your way, one slip up and I will find a way to remove the title from you, you have to earn your place from now on.”

“I thought I’d earned it well enough today, but evidently not. You wish is my command...my lord.” Mach remarked rather sarcastically.

“And what about you my dear Heinrich, what can I offer for you for your services and troubles? Whoever you have fraternised with in the past is irrelevant, you still managed to bring our Dwarf allies and turn the tide this horrible day.”

“Well my lord, if it is quite alright, I would like to return to the Osterwald. I have rather fallen in love with it, it has brought out my true Ostermark side, and I must say I’ve made some rather good friends. Any donations to finding a nice townhouse would be very much appreciated. “

“So it shall be, if you are sure you want to live with the uncouth people down south. Just remember there will always be a space up north here with the civilised folk of Bechafen”.

With that the Elector and his bodyguard rode back into Bechafen, ready to start organising its reconstruction, and what to do with the refugees of Muckenhof, every day troubles in the war torn border zone of northern Ostermark.

The men all made arrangements for heading home, and for Heinrich, for heading to find a home. The journey back, was this time uneventful, the land was quiet, peace had settled once again in Ostermark. Heinrich did however realise that, once again, he was upon the Kadrin Road.


Epilogue

Within two years Heinrich had settled into life in the March of Eisental. It was not an entirely peaceful existence, banditry was still rife in the region but many of the villagers and townsfolk were happier without the constant threat of repression from the Knights of the Order of the Raven. The Knights themselves had been formerly disbanded, and membership was made illegal on pain of Morrite sacrifice. A shrine to Morr was made in Eisental in honour of the service of the Knights of the Order of the White Rose, and Mach adopted the rose as his own personal icon. In the shrine, the hourglass given to Mach by the leader of the Knights stood on a pedestal, seemingly not moving, symbolising the everlasting nature of the Mach family name, destined to be continued by Mach’s marriage to the Maid of Mileau and his new baby son, Erik.

Within a year of living in the region Mach had asked Heinrich to become his personal standard bearer, his second in command. Heinrich had taken the opportunity with great honour, and performed his mainly ceremonial duties diligently. He also took up combat lessons, thinking that he could not rely on his luck forever and became a decent duellist, now able to fight any other wrongdoer without having to duck and dodge for the entire duel.

After a year of being Mach’s second command, he was trusted enough by Mach to be honoured with the gift of becoming Freiherr of Blutfurt. Again, Heinrich took up this position dutifully and took about any action he could to make Blutfurt and its surroundings safer, but without bringing the city life of Blutfurt to this most southern town. He was slowly warming to the gruffer nature of the countryside and had even learned to handle his alcohol a lot better, even having the occasional night on the vodka of Mileau, the one thing, it turned out, Leo had not being lying about.

As for the other people Heinrich met on his journey, well they settled back into a slightly more peaceful existence. Father Tak and Grunewald the Grey took up their positions as Mach’s advisors, but still performed their wandering duties, travelling around the march offering advice and their talents. Franz headed up the Eisental outpost of the Road Patrol, and was often seen in Blutfurt liaising with their outfit. Men who had once been outlaws in Mach’s band were restored to full citizenship for their service to the realm of Ostermark and many joined Mach’s personal bodyguard of Great Swords within Eisental’s palace, now no longer covered in Kislevite decorations.

The threat of chaos in the north continued. The huge incursion countered near Bechafen was just the start of what became known as the Storm of Chaos. Once again the forces of the March of Eisental and Karak Kadrin marched to war together against the dark threat. Bechafen was again ravaged, as was much of Ostermark, with the Osterwald pocket surviving the worst. Heinrich and Mach once again traversed the Kadrin Road to fight at the forefront of the army they both now commanded.

In the aftermath of the Storm, the March of Eisental is coming to terms with its loses in defence of its homeland once again. Many militia men perished on the cold battlefields of the frontier. Heinrich and Mach attempt to rebuild their broken region and restore it to its former glory and beyond. However, times are hard in the March, evil still lurks in the land and the story of Heinrich and the people who live upon the Kadrin Road continues.....

The End

Cheers

Hooch