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Author Topic: Middenfryd  (Read 715 times)

Offline Baneblade

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Middenfryd
« on: September 29, 2017, 02:30:48 AM »
(This is going to be an AoS story. I've written a ton set in the Old World but I thought "hey why not make an AoS thing" so here we go)

Fritz dodged out of the way of the gor's ancient rusted blade. The second axe made an attempt to bite his shoulder, but just as the axehead was swinging downward in an overhead arc, Fritz rammed the beastman in the muzzle with his plated shoulder. The beast growled as it hit the gnarled white tree behind it. Fritz brought his hammer down upon the creature's skull, sending splinters of bone and bits of chaotic brain across the tree trunk. A warhorn sounded. The monster hunter turned, gripping his gorey hammer and sword tightly in his gauntleted fists, gazing upon his work. The clearing was full of dead gors. All the work of Fritz's blade and hammer. He sighed, breathing. He felt the sweat bead beneath his gambeson, and he spat upon the mossy earth.

Torches in the distance. Howling warcries. More of the bastards. A flash of skin swung past him and the mercenary Falk, his body free of any form of armor save for the metal iron plate he wore upon his belt and the horned helmet upon his skull. Falk brought up his axe. "Hail, brother. Fancy seeing you here!"

"The hell are you doing here? Falk, did you follow me?"

"No. Yes. I did. I saw you in town earlier. These beasties are going to attack the town. If they burn the town, I get no beer tonight." he licked his lips, adjusting his helmet. He pulled the shield from his back. "The Freeguild regiment are making a defensive line back there. We need to cull this herd and make a retreat."

"No. We do not retreat," Fritz snorted.

"Eh? They've got over a hundred gunners. Cannons! Fritz, you stupid? Did you get clubbed in the head? A wall of shot will send these monsters back to their caves."

"We won't leave any left standi-" he had no time to finish, as the stampeding brayherd was upon them. They crashed through the trees. Trailing them was a great minotaur. A mad duardin sporting a great fanning mohawk fell upon the gruesome monster's head and began smashing away at its skull with a giant battle axe. He was screaming, though whether in terror or anger, Fritz couldn't really tell.

"By the way!" shouted Falk as he bashed the head of an ungor with his shield, "Ulf is here too!"

"Fantastic," Fritz cleaved the throat out of another ungor, "now we can all die together!" The squad of monster slayers fought all night in that clearing, not retreating til they had thinned the horde, crept their way back to the town like bloody, injured cats and allowed for the Freeguild regiment of Prismheart to unleash volley after volley of gunfire on the great herd in the vast stretch of fields just outside of the city. The sun rose, and the three slayers watched from the stone battlements near the Ironweld Arsenal's cannons that sent mighty cannonballs into the horde of beastmen down in the field. Lightning crackled in the sky, announcing the coming of a Stormhost.

"Thank Siggy's arse," Falk laughed, still covered in gor gore. He pulled free a flask from his hip, tearing off the cap with his teeth and began guzzling the contents down. "Ye want a drink, mate?" he offered it to Fritz.

"No," the warrior replied just as another volley was sent hailing into the battle. Ulf reached out with a ham-sized fist and snagged the flask, wandering over to the ramparts to watch the battle by his lonesome.

"Wild loner, that fellow." Falk shook his head. "You in town for a while?"

"What the hell do you think?" Fritz asked as the Stormcast Eternals began to bleed into the heart of the enemy, waving swords and hammers as though they were feathers. Ulf watched with patient wonder. "Yes. I was hired to find them out and rescue some prisoners. Then they showed up. I guess they knew something was afoot and decided to send in the entire herd before I could get there. I hope the prisoners are alright."

"Well, Sigmar's lads have it now. They won't stop til the whole forest is turned upside down, every spider shook from its nest and every gobbo fallen on its arse." he winked.

"I suppose. Why even do we exist if they are here?" Fritz breathed, picking up his weapons to return to the battle.

"Because m'boy, Sigmar's lads can't always be there. Free men must fend for themselves. Ulf, will ye be hopping on my horse with me?" The duardin grunted, picked up his axe, and hopped over to the barbarian warrior. "See you in the stables, then?"

"Aye, can't let the Freeguild's damned Demigryph knights have all the glory." he laughed. The battle would continue until the late afternoon.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 02:42:33 PM by Baneblade »

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2017, 03:10:08 PM »
Night had come. The Stormcast had purged the woodland and the enslaved were slaves no more. The men and women of Prismheart's regiment, sweating with fear and anticipation, all let out a sigh of relief in unison and returned within the thick, stone walls of their town. Fritz found himself in the corner of a tavern, a cup of wine before him. He stared at himself into a small mirror that he kept with him in his belt pouch. Fritz's face was tired, scarred. His skin was like leather, and a coat of bristled fuzz stuck up around his face. He had not shaven in two days, and these bristles irritated him. One new fresh blood-red scar hung right below his right eye. Thankfully his gorget had taken the brunt of the blow. His eyes, however. His eyes were young eyes. A tear fell from one and he immediately took a sip of wine. 



* * *

Twenty five years earlier...

The cart moved along the rocky dirt path between the trees as vast as towers. Fritz was young, a child of 12 years old. He had left home as was the norm in the region, to be shipped off to Middenfryd in order to learn the art of monster hunting. Here too were other children of Ghur. Boys and girls from the local villages, cities and wild tribes. All were used as tax to pay the local Freeguild. As Fritz was a firstborn, it was his duty and honor to be taken to the ancient fort. 
The caravan emerged from the dense woodland, and sunlight shimmered down upon them now that they were free of the canopy. The causeway leading to Middenfryd proper was a long, winding path up the mountain, lined on either side with skeletons and remains of long-dead beasts. Troggoths, orruks, gargants, dragons, jabberwocks, demigryphs. The skeletal remains seemed endless to the youths, til they passed the swirling magical barrier that defended the mountain keep. At the top, where there was a chill in the air, a drawbridge of heavy oak lowered and the caravan slowly moved over the moat of dark murky liquid, that Fritz hoped was water.

Within, the children piled out of their wagons with aid from the local greatswordsmen regiment. Fritz gazed around after his worn-out shoes were set upon the grass stained yellow and dry by the summer sun. The walls were lined with gunners and crossbowmen. Swordsmen practiced in a practice field across the courtyard. Men and women went about with their ordinary business as this was a town as well as a fortress. From a set of great doors stepped an old witch hunter, escorted by two foot knights in full chain armor.  The greatswords made sure all children were standing at attention in a long line of grim, lonely faces. The old man looked over them as a sheepherder looks over his flock. "Welcome," he greeted them finally. "This is the hellpit where you will be transformed into killing machines in order to rival that of the Stormcast Eternals. You will learn the ancient martial arts and learn how to slay beasts that haunt and stalk our kind." he cracked his neck suddenly. "This place was erected during the Age of Chaos where it was a bastion. used by the aelves to fight the forces of Khorne." Another crack of his neck. "Today you will be learning to wield the greatsword alongside the mercenary captain Berta." he waved his arm over at the woman, whose face was scarred, blind in one eye. She leaned upon her zweihander with its blade in the earth. "As it is your first day, you will not be getting any food. Good luck." he turned and left with his escorts.

"In line, maggots!" Cried Berta suddenly. The children froze. A zweihander and stuck into the ground before them. The weapons were long, and too unwieldy for Fritz's standards. They were but children. "The zweihander is an ancient weapon, designed in the ancient world. It, and weapons like it, are to be wielded both defensively and offensively. This means you can protect and attack with them. A fine weapon to learn as it is very versatile." she spat, removing her ornate feathered hat.  "You will first hold the sword in both hands." 

After several hours, possibly four to six, a group of robed men strolled out from the gates of the keep with baskets, which they offered to the children. They  went down the line, making sure that every child present got some of the food.

"I thought we were not supposed to get any food today?" Asked Fritz curiously.

"You will not be," Berta spat again, taking a seat on a barrel. "That is a mixture of poison and other ingredients in order to make the body more resistant. It is nothing noticeable at first but over time you will be able to resist poison, and even pain. Of course, it does not always turn out the way it should," as she said this, the first lad given some of the food began to wretch. "It is a double-edged sword. I am tired and going to bed. All maggots, turn in. Survival of the fittest, find your own resting spot! There isn't even enough bunks in the damned barracks for you lot."

Fritz swallowed. It was going to be a long night.

Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2017, 03:19:42 PM »
Keep it coming!! 😸
Nice work.
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2017, 03:08:55 AM »
Keep it coming!! 😸
Nice work.

( I try :P so many people saying "AoS isn't grimdark enough" and I say, "Hold my exquisite $7 wine I got this.")

The boys and girls were drilled daily. Monday would be push-ups at dawn, dodgeball before First Meal, at mid-day they began drills on weapons- the zweihander, the longsword, the axe, the arming sword, knives, daggers, falchions, cutlass, rapier, bows, handguns. These would be different, depending on the day and whatever the hell their current teacher felt like. After weapon drills, on the fourth day of the week, and only the fourth day, they would be taught horseback riding. If any other day, they would begin classes indoors or outdoors. When it was colder, it was usually held outdoors. These classes went over numerous subjects, mostly history, linguistics, geography, hunting (in which an experienced hunter would take them out to the Brush, a thick black forest around the keep, to teach basic hunting and survival skills). They would go over the art of thievery, assassination, and monster anatomy and biology. Fritz's least favorite of the bunch was alchemy. After the first class of the day they would have the Second Meal. After Second Meal, they would run laps around the drill yard.

On the sixth day, they would be sent through the Pass. The Pass was of course the nearby mountain pass, but it was constructed into a vast obstacle course. The students had to make it through within a certain time. Nothing would happen to them if they didn't. The teacher running the Pass just felt it funny to scare the lads and lasses and thought it would encourage them to run and jump a bit faster. It was probably one of Fritz's favorite activities. When all these activities were finished, they would have final meal, which was the poison Berta had explained to him on his first day. He did not learn of the importance of the other meals until later that winter. Once the final meal was finished, the children were to retire to their quarters, which did not exist as Berta explained, and were to meditate for one hour on what they have learned that day, and focus on what they could improve upon.

Months flew by. The winter was upon them sooner than they expected. It was a harsh time, and blizzards packed snow upon the dark woods around the mountain. The Pass had several wooden buildings collapse under the weight of snow (though that did not keep them from running the course). During this time, many alumni of Middenfryd returned to their home in order to spend the winter. This is what Fritz learned was Wintering. The mess hall was packed with men and women, buff, scarred, bearing the weight of many terrible encounters, but most were in high spirits. They sang and drank, and ate food, which puzzled Fritz. When taking a plate of bread out to a group of vicious looking men he asked why they got to eat actual food. He had not eaten bread since before he was picked up from his village. The men explained to him that the meals fed to them were indeed alchemical concoctions as Berta had explained months prior. The First Meal was to improve muscle and strength building, along with quickening muscle memory and give them a hit of caffeine. The Second Meal was to help put on muscle, and was mostly protein and calories. They had no idea what was in it. The Final Meal, of course, was the toxin and pain resistance . They did not offer him a piece of bread, but they did offer to share some beer. Fritz's face scowled. He hated beer with a passion and turned on his heel back to the kitchens. "I guess the soddin' Final Meal be doin' jus' fine on 'im!" shouted one of the hunters before downing his horn of alcoholic beverage.

Spring came. Not all of the original students that Fritz had arrived with had made it through the rather-long winter. During early-morning drills as the students were finishing their push-ups, there was a commotion at the gates. Cherry blossoms fluttered to the ground with a warm breeze as a group of Freeguildsmen wandered in, they were the Greatswords whom had greeted the children on their first day. The children mobbed about, and the disgruntled witch hunter- Hoffman, whom currently headmastered the school, wandered out, his jacket on tight. "What is this?" he called out, "what has happened??"

The Greatswordsmen removed their hats and stepped aside for Hoffman to observe the body of Berta, her flesh colored pale with purple veins crawling upon her face. "Was grots who did it, my lord." said one of them. "They got her with this," he tossed a vial of greenish liquid to Hoffman who caught it in his gloved hand, inspecting it closely.

"Poison?"

"No, it's spider venom." Fritz felt the question bubbling up his throat.

"But I thought the Final Meal made us resistant to poisons?" Hoffman turned to him quietly, raising an eyebrow. "Who told you this? Regardless, yes. It does. You all would have figured out sooner or later, and I am too tired. Your punishment for stepping out of line will be to clean the stables and the privy one after another before meditation. Yes," he breathed. "That it does. Alas, Berta was not a monster hunter. She was not raised at Middenfryd as you are to be. She was a wandering mercenary captain." he pocketed the vial, nodding to the man who gave it to him. "I am sorry for your loss. Will you be taking over the unit?"

"Aye, tis what she would've wanted," a tear fell down his cheek. "We aim to bring the war to the grots. We were wonderin' if uh, maybe you would want to lend aid."

"Yes, of course," he folded his hands together. It is spring, of course." he cracked his neck. "I will... get the students with their own teachers in the next day or two. We will pair them up, and they can earn some first-hand experience."

"What? Mate, they are children. And some o' em are lasses!"

"They are not men or women, they are my monster hunters. And after two seasons of drills here, they are more knowledgeable in the killing arts and the slaying arts than any o' you, or any of the Duardin Slayers of Old.  Corkus!" he called, the guard clad in chainmail and coif perked up by the door.

"Aye, milord?" he asked back, gripping his spear tightly.

"We are going to war. Get the rest of the warband together in the chapel" he turned back to the Greatswordsman as the guard wandered into the keep. "I am sorry, Selig. These are harsh times, I am sure you can agree with me." the swordsman nodded.

"Aye, lord. We will remain in the keep and I and me best will meet with ye in the chapel."

"Good..." he turned to the students. "You are all apprentices. Alas, today and tomorrow, you will be getting paired up with a hunter. A graduate. A warrior who knows no fear or pain. You will follow them into the belly of the beast, where you will be leaving Middenfryd for the first time in months. We are fighting Grots. That is the only information I know as of right now, but expect to be further briefed in the coming days. Middenfryd goes to war!" he growled. The children screamed in unison, a horrific sound to the Greatswordsmen who pretended not to hear it as they grimly made their way to the chapel. Berta's body was burned upon a pyre, and the students resumed their daily lessons.

Fritz, now thirteen, was going to war.

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 02:37:31 PM »
Back in the present...

The two horsemen had left town at first light the next day. Falk drove his stallion gently down the rocky path, with Fritz not too far behind on his brown chestnut mare. They were in the countryside, not too far from Prismheart. They passed a few thatch-roofed cottages and grinding windmills. Peasants toiled in the fields alongside their lord.

"Seriously, though. Sometimes I feel that those Sigmar lads think themselves better than us regular folk." Said Falk aloud, so that Fritz could hear him. Fritz sighed, getting his mare to giddy-up some so he was able to trot up alongside the barbarian.

"First of all," he said, "I want to remind you, that the Stormcast Eternals are not better than us. We are not human. We are a step above them. We are no different from them. We are both defenders of the weak," he pointed towards the peasants. One of them, covered head to toe in dirt, stood to wave wildly. It looked to be a child from this distance. "Which of course brings me to my next point." he went on as they crossed a bridge. "May I remind you, you imbecile, that we are on the same side. This whole 'Stormcast Eternals think they are so much better than us,' thing has got to end. I am annoyed. Ulf is annoyed," he pointed to the duardin half-asleep and very much still drunk from the previous night sleeping in the cart dragged by Falk's steed. "Every tavern from here to Baleheim is annoyed. We are on the same side. It is because of them we can find work, it is because of them we are able to sleep under a roof every time we come across an inn. When we find a city? That is their work, for without them, this countryside would be overrun with cannibalistic tribes. You listened in history class didn't you?" He scowled, clearly beyond irritated.

"Aye. I do suppose you're right, mate..." he trotted onwards, defeated. 

25 years earlier...

The warriors gathered in the chapel, as was designated by Headmaster Hoffman. They took seats within the many pews, beneath the statue of Sigmar surrounded by the steinglass windows. Hoffman stood upon a table, with his right-hand man Leon at his side. The bald warrior priest stepped forward. "We are announcing open-war with the greenskins of the local region. They have toiled in the dark for far too long, and have raided the local villages far too long," he looked to Hoffman. "This also will prove an excellent training exercise for the apprentices." A echoing 'aye' resounded throughout the chamber. "We will each take on a single apprentice to take out into the wilds when we exterminate this pest," an aging scribe set down a map upon the table from which Hoffman hopped down from. "We will spread out in the region. Many people live here, as you know. Farms, villages. Tribes. There is one city not too far from here, underground. That is of course one of our main targets. That said, three duos shall be assigned to cleanse it, along with Berta's Greatswords and the various regiments stationed here." Another 'aye," mostly from the Greatswords. "Other regiments belonging to mercenary companies and Freeguild alike shall be sent to the larger towns. Us hunters will focus on the smaller villages, and rooting out the beasts from their lairs." He pointed to areas on the map, places known to contain a concentration of Grot activity. We all will set out in a week. Until then, choose your apprentice wisely, and teach them all you know. You yourself will be responsible for their classes. Then we all set out. Dismissed." the hunters groggily filed out. Hoffman sighed.

"We go to war once more it seems." he growled under his mustache.

"Aye," Leon scratched the back of his shaved head. "That we do."

"Whom do you take as your apprentice?" he raised a brow.

"That lad Fritz, it was? He is quite the inquisitive lad in history class. Very curious. I wish to know how he fairs outside of the gates." he chuckled. "I will go and find him, and challenge him to a duel."

"You know you can just ask him, old friend. You are a teacher now, not a soldier."

'It is much more fun this way!" Leon laughed and left the chapel. He found Fritz running laps with the rest of the students and pulled him aside by the arm. "Come, boy. We are going to swing blades wildly at one another and if you pass my test I will make sure you become a hunter of beasts."

"Well uhm, okay then..." Fritz replied, albeit startled and confused."

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2017, 03:40:15 AM »
The warrior priest of Sigmar dragged the lad over to the drill yard where two groups of students were practicing shield-wall formation wielding wooden swords and axes. Just as the two lines met upon the center of the yard Leon tossed young Fritz into the center. "Halt!" Leon called out to them. The hunter running the lesson chuckled, telling his students to take a few steps backward. Leon tossed Fritz a wooden longsword. The boy plucked it from the warm dirt and stood, holding the sword in front of him, dominant hand under the guard, his left hand just above the pommel. He eased the grip from his top fingers, preparing for what was to come. Leon approached with another sword in-hand. "Are you prepared for the coming war? You had all winter to get that peasant worm-body of yours into shape!" he barked, holding his own faux blade before him. The man took a quick step forward, swinging his blade quickly. Fritz removed the fingers of his right hand from the sword's hilt and pushed straight out. The sword's tip hit Leon square in his shiny forehead. The priest laughed, taking a step back while twirling his weapon. "That's good, so you have been practicing. Which weapon do you enjoy most?" he asked, curious.

"I enjoy the longsword and dagger, Herr Leon." the youth responded.

"Aye! Kick his damned arse Fritz! Take the baldy down!" Cried out Falk from the crowd of one of the shield wall lines, slapping his sword upon his shield rhythmically. The other boys and girls began to follow suit. It was noisy and Fritz felt a bit of anxiety at the sound drowning out the sounds of birds and crickets.

"I will punish you later, you savage child!" snapped Leon, returning his attention to his student. He held his weapon straight up, the pommel just above his eyes, bringing it down to block one of the boy's attacks sent at him from the left, trying to use Falk's distraction as a way to get through. "Good!" He pushed the boy's sword away from him and swung a heavy stupid swing at Fritz's shoulder. Fritz forced his body to fall just to his right so that the wooden blade fell passed him. The thirteen year old boy placed his two hands on the grass and pushed himself into a roll, coming up holding his blade once again in front of him, pointing at Leon's face. "I yield. You've certainly passed my test, though it was easy. No, I lied. Come with me!" he ordered. The children went silent as the two of them departed from the drill yard, and the teacher yelled at everyone to shut it and get back to practicing their shield wall formation. 

Leon led Fritz down into the armory of the keep. Within were weapons of all swords they had used to practice. The warrior priest tossed him a shirt of riveted chain mail. "You will wear this when we leave. You will not take it off under any circumstances."

"Yes, Herr Leon," Fritz said.

"And here, take this," he handed him a sheathed longsword and dagger. "This sword is coated with silver. You have been in enough monster classes to know why we need this, yes?"

"Because the grots usually enslave or have a symbiotic relationship with trolls, and the silver coating of the sword forces the troll to be unable to regenerate from a strike." Fritz replied, closing his eyes to remember the exact words spoken months ago.

"Yes. Good. However," he handed him a shortsword. "we are going to be fighting grots as well, and may be going beneath ground to fight them. That and the dense forests of the local region, so I would keep this blade handy. It is easier to swing and stab in tight, narrow spaces." Fritz nodded at this, accepting the weapon. Leon scratched his bearded chin gently, thinking. "And take a bow and some arrows too. They are quieter than guns, and are easier and faster to reload." He nodded his head at the rack full of bows, of which Fritz approached and picked one up. "We will be leaving in a few days. Refresh your skills with all of these arms in the yard. You will need it when we head out." He then removed himself from the room, leaving Fritz with an arm full of weapons and a chain shirt. Fritz shook his head, taking his own leave of the room and headed for the drill yard again.

Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2017, 08:40:49 AM »
Good stuff! Enjoying it greatly 😸
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2017, 02:44:01 PM »
The days passed by. The week passed by. Then the groups found themselves marching forth from the drawbridge down the causeway into the wildlands of Ghur. The local militias had gathered what they could to march alongside them, Berta's greatswords led the group into the forest roads beneath the keep of Middenfryd. Fritz himself walked alongside Leon, now able to carry his weight in gear, which seemed to hang off of every corner of his person. The chain shirt he wore did not even bog him down due to his great physical training and newly-acquired muscle. 

At the base of the mountain path, where it was much warmer by comparison and much greener, the army of hunters and soldiers began to split. Teams went to their assigned villages and towns in order to defend and protect them. The soldiers going to the various areas of civilization, and the hunters heading into the belly of the beast. Fritz followed just behind Leon as the warrior priest picked his way through the thick underbrush beneath the thick roof of greenery that was the forest canopy. 

Several times the experienced hunter held up a fist, ordering Fritz to cease movement and remain still as a statue. He listened to the sounds around them, hearing nothing but wind and faint sounds of forest critters: hawks, other birds, insects. There was the faintest sound of feet crunching on leaves. "Remain here," Leon whispered, moving off to one side and disappearing between two great oak trees blanketed by thick fluffy moss. Within five minutes, he returned. "Three grots, to the south. Follow." he waved after him and headed back through the trees.

The grots were about the side of a tall child, with enormous noses, mouths of fangs, and wearing hoods. They looked like children but were rippling with muscle beneath their emerald-green leathery hide and covered in scarring. The creatures did not even see the hunters as they sent arrows hailing into the clearing where the grots were eating some sort of meal. The two approached quietly, moving towards the corpses full of bloody fletching to collect their spent missiles and clean them. The greenskins were eating a dog. A hound, by the looks of what was left of it. Fritz wretched and Leon spat into the grass. "Disgusting creatures. We need to move," he got down onto one knee, beginning to remove his arrows, handing Fritz a clump. "Congratulations, young Fritz. You are now a slayer of beasts." he smiled grimly. Fritz nodded, unsure of what to say. The sword dangling from his hip felt heavier all of a sudden. "Look there," he picked up some pouches. "They have loot upon them." He stood. 

Within the bags they found Azyr coins, a Freeguild belt buckle, and a human hand. The sword hanging from his hip felt heavier still.

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2017, 02:10:33 AM »
Night fell quickly. The duo decided to rest in a hallowed-out tree, seeing as most Greenskins had night vision, and evolved in caves. The creatures were right at home in the dark of the world. Fritz stared at the stars twinkling in the heavens. Most cartographers and explorers in the earlier days, those in the Age of Myth, Chaos and Sigmar. They went mad trying to map the entirety of the Realms. There was no way to. One could map a simple region, but the entirety of the Mortal Realms? No. That would take a mind beyond gods. Instead most wayward wanderers chose to learn the stars and astrology. Thankfully Fritz had studied the subject in detail at Middenfryd. 

"We move," Leon's boot pushed his knee, signalling for the boy to grab his things and leave. The sun rose within hours, and they found themselves beside a shallow river surrounded by thick green foliage. Cherry blossom petals covered this gentle-moving river, and Fritz wondered if there was even conflict in these parts. Leon jumped a log barring their path which Fritz quickly scampered over. They found themselves overlooking a cliff leading down to endless forest. The skeleton of an immense dragon dominated this landscape. Vines crept up along the titanic ribcage of the beast. Leon sniffed the air. "I smell them. We are nearing the entrance to one of their dens. Come, apprentice."

"Yes, Herr Leon..." Fritz unsheathed his shortsword as the warrior priest pushed aside some thick gnarled roots with his hammer, exposing the black void of a cavern entrance, dripping wet.

"Careful not to slip, son." he crawled in, squatting down and moving into the shadows. "Come, Fritz!" he called out to the boy. "It widens up after a moment. Do be careful. Try to not make much noise. Sword at the ready." Fritz bit his lower lip as he crawled into the black. His eyes adjusted, and he found himself face-to-face with Leon, whose hammer was glowing. "Ever onward." The warrior priest led him on, down dark caverns lined with glowing mushrooms and worms. The laughter of the Greenskins and the barks of their various pets could be heard echoing down every tunnel. 

"Herr Leon," Fritz whispered behind the hunter. "Are we enough to take them on?" The priest smiled.

"Aye. We are more than enough. They are but goblins, Fritz..." They crept up a tunnel leading upwards. "This is not their main den, Fritz. They are mainly attacking our villages and cities with their throngs. Each pair of hunters is cutting them off. We will slowly kill them off. One by one." The two silently moved along like shadows, coming upon a pit of skulls. Some still had dried blood sticking to them.

"What is this?" Fritz asked.

"Tis the act of not Grots, apprentice..." Leon leaned forward, picking up the nearest grisly trophy. It was bleached by sunlight. "They must have run down here during a flood. Look there," he pointed to a branded symbol upon the crown of the bone. "This is the symbol of the youngest of the Chaos gods, Slaanesh." He paused in thought. "These tunnels must indeed be quite old if something so ancient has touched here. Quite ancient indeed. Move."

They finally reached their destination. It looked like an old mine shaft. bright light funneled in through the door leading into the outside world. Several goblins sat, feeding upon squigs, beer and mushrooms. The stench of burnt meat filled their nostrils, along with that of dung. The warrior priest brought about his bow, nodding to his apprentice, who did the same. Arrows flew. The first few Grots fell instantly. One's great nose landed right into the mouth of its dinner, a live squig that began to gnaw upon it.

The goblins screeched in their guttural tongue and arrows and spears were flung at them. A Grot rushed Fritz from below, coming from whence they traveled. Fritz aimed the point of his weapon at the greenskin's nose. The beast shrieked and knocked it away with its large knife ferociously. Fritz twirled his blade about, spun ninety degrees just to avoid the clumsy, savage swing of the greenskin's serrated, rusty blade and then cut through the monster's back. The grot died with a howl. More were coming up the passage. Leon smiled, swinging his bow over his shoulder. "Come!" he shouted, vaulting over the railing onto the mine's floor, kicking up dust with his boots. Fritz followed, remembering to land on both feet at the same time. They bounded outside of the exit, not before Leon dropped several bombs at the mouth of the mine. Fritz felt his legs pick up pace as he saw the black orbs hit the sand. They charged behind some redwoods as the detonations went off. The cave was sealed and only a single Grot was outside of the mine shaft when it exploded.

The creature spun round, staring at the boulders blocking its path. It dropped its sword, and growled. The two hunters approached the beast, who scowled and snarled at them. Leon made himself large, and imposing. The creature became docile, and began to shiver as the priest hit it in the head with his hammer. He slung it over his shoulder. "We head north. We have what we came for, a prisoner." He wiped sweat away with his sleeve. "We return to the keep, or whatever settlement we can find hunters in. Post-haste!" 

"Y-yes, Herr Leon!" Fritz called after him. They began their trek northward. 

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2017, 01:33:46 PM »
"Quiet!" Leon snagged Fritz by the collar, and pulled him up to the trunk of one of the immense trees. Through the hot mist, they could make out shadows. Enormous creatures wandered through the woods on either side of them. The gargants: known to antiquity as giants, moved slowly, clumsily, covered in trophies and ramshackled clothes and gear. Leon pulled Fritz and their prisoner deeper nearer to the tree, just beneath a mighty root. A large head, the size of a steamtank bent down and sniffed. The long gray beard picked up brambles, leaves and dirt but its wearer did not care. It got down on all fours, sniffing along the ground. It moved slowly. Removing a small stump it revealed a hiding grot, who shrieked, jumping onto its booted feet and began to run off into the direction they came. The monster picked the greenskin up and shoved it into its large maw, and continued its long, lumbering steps. The only sound was that of the loud crunching of Grot bones. They waited in hiding for fifteen minutes until the tribe had left. When Leon was sure of it, they moved out, into another direction.

It was in this particular direction they came upon a clearing containing a caged duardin and several grots. It was obviously an unforged duardin, sitting in his cage, staring forward. The first few arrows did not fell any of the grots, but they did take down a spider. The greenskins rushed at Leon, who dropped his longbow and pulled free his now-glowing hammer, calling out a challenge to the greenskins. They fell upon him. He swung right and left, sending blood, bone and brains aside from any grot who came before him. Meanwhile, Fritz crept around the side, coming upon the cage. He pulled free his razor-sharp shortsword and cut into the ancient, rusted chain locking the duardin in. A spider fell on top of him. He did his best to muffle the scream as he felt the eight legs twitch and quiver over his body and face. He saw the snapping jaws and lifeless eyes before his own. Venom spewed forth like froth from its arachnoid mouth. He ran it through, finally. Black ichor covered his face and chest, but the beast lie dead, while Leon took care of the footsoldiers. Other pets might be lying in wait, so he quickly unleashed the unforged. The unforged grunted.

"Ulf." He nodded, and charged at a horde of spiders creeping over the ridge from the forest's edge. That was the last word the lad would ever hear the unforged speak during their work together. Fritz wiped ichor from his face with his sleeve. When all grot forces were reduced to shattered corpses, the trio plus prisoner made their way northward once again through the beastial forest of Ghur.

Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2017, 01:08:17 AM »
This is great, baneblade.  In hook, line and sinker. Black Library needs more AoS books!
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2017, 01:25:20 AM »
(I agree tbh lol)

They had stopped in a village to rest and eat before making their final trek to Middenfryd. The fortress was near-empty with most of its inhabitants gone to fight the greenskins. Whispers of an Orruk tide coming to them grew every time they passed a traveler on the road. Hoffman was in his office inside the chapel, the only hunter without an apprentice, as someone had to look after the place. He and several families remained in the fortress to keep the keep from falling apart. The witch hunter folded his hands together upon his desk and, as habit had it, he cracked his neck. "What do you have for me? You have been gone days?" he raised an eyebrow as Ulf plodded into the room, sitting on a leather chair and rested his hands upon the pommel of his axe. Leon dragged in the grot, who screeched after Fritz removed its gag.

"They come!" it shouted, in very poor common tongue.

"Who comes?" Hoffman stood abruptly. "Where did you find this beast?"

"We found it in the heart of one of the forests, Herr Hoffman," Fritz spoke. "Leon pointed out one of their headquarters, or at least we assumed it was. A staging point."

"Who comes?!" Hoffman demanded again, as if not listening to the boy.

"The WAAAGH!! WAAAGH!!!" he screeched again and again, unable to speak further.

"Lock him up. Leon, get to the messenger. Fritz, go tell whomever remained behind to be alert." The two did as they were told, alas nothing had come. The warring against the destructive hordes within Ghur continued. Weeks became months and months became years. Greenskin activity did increase, however. The warrior priest Leon and the young monster hunter Fritz went on many adventures during this time, saving each other from near-death time and time again all the while continuing his education and training within the safety of the fortress. It was five years later that Fritz was welcomed into the member as a full-forged member of the Middenfryd hunters. His induction ceremony was short, held just outside the chapel. Leon attended, as did the greatswords and whatever huntsmen were present. It was autumn, the same day that he had been brought through the gates and over the drawbridge. Fritz was eighteen now, his head was kept shaved close on the sides, short on top. On this day he wore robes over his chainmail, and his silver sword hung on his back, his shortsword dangled from his left hip. 

"My children!" The witch hunter breathed as he waved his arms above his head, then pointed to the initiates, dressed similarly to Fritz. Among them was Falk, who did not wear anything above the waist as he was want to do. "You have passed the tests and have withstood many years of hardship and training in order to be honed into weapons that the forces of Order can use against not just protecting the weak, but to defeat the strong." Whispers echoed through the gathered crowd. "You are to be sent on one final test, and your first rightful quest as a hunter of our sacred order. For Sigmar, you are to venture out into the Mortal Realms. Seek out and defeat a monster of Chaos, and bring back a trophy." The hunter cracked his neck. "You may do this any way you see fit! Until you leave in the morrow, we celebrate!"

A cheer rang out through the crowd. But just as the sun was setting, a warhorn bellowed across the valley. A farmer appeared at the gates, a weary wanderer. He fell to his knees and just as the hunters approached he collapsed forward, exposing the many arrows in his back. Adela, a girl from Solakos pulled one free. "These are Orruk in design!" she exclaimed. Burning rocks clashed against the protective barrier wrapped around the fortress proper. Whatever townspeople were present rushed to the safety of the inner keep.

"All hunters, all guard! At the ready! Battle stations! A horde approaches!!" Hoffman barked. Leon grunted, grabbing Fritz by the shoulder, resting his hammer upon his own shoulder.

"It seems one more fight together, lad."

"Aye, Herr Leon!" Fritz started for the archery yard to grab a bow. "Aye!"

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2017, 05:43:26 PM »
The monsters seemed to be swelling just before the magical barrier, which they could not pass. Some tried, and in doing so became fried by magical energies. This only seemed the anger the rest of the greenskins present. This did not stop them from continuing to hail the barrier with arrows, bolts, rocks and boulders. And themselves.

Fritz grunted, watching as a heap of grots were tossed into ashes. He looked to Falk and Adela beside him. Regardless of the fact the Orruks could not get in, they could not get out. And the fortress of Middenfryd only possessed enough food and supplies for three years at most. Hopefully this would not last that long. The Stormcast Eternals would show up, and the green tide would be pushed back to their caves and huts of muck. 

* * *

Beneath the fortress proper, a robed figure stalked the shadows. The aelf had left behind its own trail of defeated bodies and picked its way to the chamber housing the power of the barrier, the Hunterstone. Rubbing its hands together, the aelf snagged the rock. The hands of the aelf began to fry and crumble into ashes, but this deactivated the magical barrier itself. Orruks were free to lay siege to Middenfryd, and the aelf's masters were able to arrive. A portal of swirling purple and pink energies tore open in the far end of the chamber and from it stepped a tall, bald aelf, clad in black armor, shouldering a maul. He was followed by an assortment of other aelves, also wearing the same. Save for one, wearing some sort of strange skull mask and a technologically-advanced breastplate. The warriors gathered themselves into the chamber, and the leader rose his maul and brought it down upon his servant. 

"A worthy end..." he spoke softly. "Spread out, find the artifacts. We leave at once. The inferior beings will keep themselves busy with one another." he smiled to his second-in-command.

* * *

The boulder smashed straight into the ramparts, crushing several hunters and sending some handgunners flying into the air. The luckier ones fell into the keep, but the others had fallen down the mountain slope into the gibbering hordes below. Fritz's eyes went wide as the rest of the hunters dispersed, rushing for cover as arrows and rocks slammed into them. Orruks themselves were landing inside, and not all of them making it alive. A beast smashed face-first into the cobblestones by Fritz's cover, a fallen statue. He was showered with gore. He spotted Leon charging through a few orruks and making his way to the inner keep. Fritz drew his longsword and bounded after him.

The two found themselves inside, where they were met with many corpses of the civilians who lived here and called Middenfryd home. Leon bent down by the body of a woman. "The orruks did not do this... There was an enemy amongst them. I left the battle because someone had to have removed the powersource of the barrier from its position. Fritz, to me. We go to the stone."

"Aye!" he followed him. "If we get that back in place, we will make it easier to hold out against the bastards!" They rushed, nearly breaking into a sweat despite their harsh training to avoid exhaustion. In truth, they were just afraid. An explosion. A hole appeared in the wall from whence they could see a group of grots clambering up the rockface. Leon picked up a chunk of rubble and tossed it forth. 

"There is no time!" He called to Fritz and resumed his pursuit. They entered the chamber of the Hunterstone to find nothing but a pile of ashes and the smell of perfume. "No..." Leon left, and opened up the vault. He found Hoffman's head upon a black iron pike. And then an immense black sword ran him through. The aelves seemed to come from nowhere. The largest of them, a bald aelf smiled at Fritz, reaching out to touch his face. 

"Do you fear me?" he asked Fritz kindly. Fritz's eyes looked to Leon, who spat up blood and dropped his hammer. The aelf smashed Fritz's longsword away, shattering it upon the far stone wall. "Do not avert thine gaze, human!" He demanded. Fritz returned his attention to the aelf, who stared back into his eyes, almost longingly. The aelf reached out for his hand, and Fritz opened his palm, to which the aelf placed in it a purple stone humming with energies. "We take our leave, man. Good day." The aelves opened a portal, picking up Hoffman's head as they went, and were gone as soon as they were found. The vault was empty. Fritz rushed to his teacher's side.

"T-they have taken everything. Every last shilling, every last block of gold. Every artifact we have ever found. Every trophy." The warrior priest coughed up more blood. "Fritz! You still have a job to do! Fight a monster of Chaos... their presence is here... do you feel it? The beast. They were Chaos warriors of the lost god Slaanesh."

"I do not know much lore of the Dark Gods, master." Fritz said, nearly into a panic as he heard the squeals of triumphant grots who finally climbed into the fort's underground.

"They have taken the keep. Make sure they pay..." he patted his hand with the Hunterstone, "Put it back where it belongs, save the keep. And hunt the monsters of Chaos!" was the last thing the experienced hunter had managed to cry out with his last gasp of life.

"I shall, master." He picked up Leon's Sigmarite warhammer, and pulled the priest's shortsword from its scabbard. Every grot who got in his way he fell with ease. A quick stab to the throat, a well-balanced smack to the skull. He found himself in the chamber of the Hunterstone, where he placed the barrier's powersource and almost instantly a singe of lightning struck the stone and he felt the air fill with the stench of ozone as the barrier powered up. he ran out the corpse-filled chamber, hoping he was not too late to save the others...

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2017, 10:27:54 AM »
What Fritz returned to was the pathetic remains of the hunters. The shield was risen around the fortress, alas the hunters, who were hardly there to begin with save for initiates and teachers, were mostly slaughtered by the orruk brutes and their minions. The man stumbled, with his gore-slick hammer and sword, out into the courtyard where he only an hour ago held his initiation ceremony. There were dead littering the dying grasses of autumn. Hulking green corpses along with those of hunters. Falk carried the corpse of Adela, an arrow piercing her throat and several stab wounds in her chest. Her arm was mangled. "The woman charged into a horde of grots that scampered over the wall." he said grimly. "Never saw anythin' like it. Damn glorious. What happened?" Fritz wandered through the yard to the walls, where he gazed down at the hordes of orruks still surrounding the fortress. Looking into a smashed helmet he could see his reflection. His hair was disheveled and his face and upper body were covered in greenskin blood, or perhaps his own. He didn't know. He felt weak, and tired.

"Aelves broke into the fortress, stole the powersource of the shield," he grunted, stabbing his sword into the earth as the other survivors began collecting the dead. "I put it back."

"And Master Leon?"

"He died, was run through by the aelves."

"I see." Falk brought Adela to the nearest pile of dead and returned to his friend, who seemed out of it. Fritz shook his head, exhausted. Something he was trained to not feel. "Did the Hunterstone not burn them? Or you?"

"No. It was cold. It straight-up fried a grot who entered the chamber though. It was as if Sigmar himself kicked the goblin in its nose." he laughed quietly. Falk smirked. 

"I am glad your sense of humor has survived the battle," he pointed to Ulf, who continued to batter away at the corpse of a troggoth's head with two hammers. "That duardin survived. I'm glad, he is quite funny."

"Is he? I had no idea he could speak."

"You do not need to speak to be funny my friend," he chuckled. They were silent for a long time, eventually getting up to heave orruk corpses from the walls. When all was said and done they returned to the inner courtyard with the chapel. The remaining hunters, now cold and fewer in number. Maccus, the teacher of basic survival and hunting was the first to speak up as the smoke from the funeral pyres burnt high into the evening sky.

"The keep, as much as I want to say it, has died this day," he gestured to one of the piles, tears in his eyes. "Many friends have left this world, never to return. The orruks have murdered every civilian within the town." He sighed sadly. "Many brothers and sisters of the hunt, whom this fortress has trained since childhood, and even those still in childhood, also lie dead by the brutes!" The others remained silent. "There are others. Other fortresses, villages, towns and cities who train monster hunters. All are devoted to the forces of Order. Whether they are inhabited by duardin, by aelves or by men. We all are welcome to any of them. They will know." He placed his hand upon his hip. "The barrier shall hold out, we are yet surrounded by orruks. I shall wait until midnight, and at that point, all survivors will follow me out of the keep, through the catacombs where we have constructed a secret passage for the..." he breathed. "For the civilians." Silence for a moment. "The region is now to be crawling with orruk tribes. You all, you have your mission. Go to defend the weak, fight the monsters of the Realms. Fight." he pulled out his axe. "I shall remain here, and take the fight to the greenskins, by myself."

"I shall fight with you, master!" cried Ida, his apprentice for the past six years.

"No! You shall fight by making a name and a living for yourself. All of my family and friends have died this day. I... I myself invited one of those families of farmers to stay here, and promised them they would be safe after I rescued them from bandits. Hell with it!" he tossed his axe down, then collected it again. "You will all go. Go out into the Realms. I shall wait for midnight to come when the beasts are less likely to smell or see us. The stench of their droppings and their burning camps will mask our smell. I can only assume that they surround us now. When we get out on the other side, into the wildlands of Ghur, it is every man and woman for themselves. The barrier will at least make them think we still occupy this place, but in reality we cannot."

It was later when they had all snuck out. As Maccus had said, no orruks impeded their path. They happened upon a few grots and spiders who were quickly taken care of. Within the hour, they were all alone in the night, and remained together as a group sans Maccus until they reached the nearest road. Then they split, becoming fewer. At every fork in the road they split again and again, until Fritz found himself wandering the roads of Ghur alone. He was wounded, covered in bandages, and carrying all of his gear. It was also here that he forgot he had not told Maccus the true killers of the civilians were aelves. He sighed, spat some blood, and continued onwards. The hunter would be miles gone by now. It was up to him now. He left, into the dense early morning fog.

Offline Baneblade

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Re: Middenfryd
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2017, 04:08:30 AM »
Fritz and Falk led their horses further along the road, through the rest of the countryside, the dense bogs and swamps that surrounded it, and the dark forests further out. By this time, Ulf had awoken and was sipping water from a skin Falk had given to him. The two steeds reached a fork in the road. A signpost dangling with skulls stood at the center between them, out of a old tree.

"I guess," the savage said quietly, "this is where we are to part ways again." he smiled, tossing Fritz a skin who caught it with ease.

"Aye, it is."

"We are so few in number. Have you made the pilgrimage lately?"

"To Middenfryd? Hell no. The area is still swarming with orruks and their pets." He took a swig, plugging the cap and tossing it back.

"Where will you go?"

"I've business in Shyish and Chamon. I'm going to stop by the nearest city to see if there's not a realmgate that I could use. It would be a shame to get to such a place on foot," he ran his hand through his horse's mane, looking over at Falk. "Good luck, old friend. Hopefully we run into one another soon." And with that, Falk nodded solemnly and trotted off down the left path. Fritz sighed quietly to himself, then ushered his steed on down to the right.