Author Topic: A Stirlander's Story  (Read 2279 times)

Offline Douchie

  • Posts: 518
  • The Army of Eastern Stirland
A Stirlander's Story
« on: February 22, 2006, 06:26:29 PM »
This is my first attempt at creative writing so let me know what you think.

I've followed a number of examples where people have wrote a background for their army. I was unsure where to start so I have focused on one the the common soldiers and aim to take the story from there.

Hope you enjoy. :wink:

Alfred felt alone, the rain and wind pelted the aging man as he stood guard. To the world he appeared a solemn figure against the light of the moon. 'A still night', he thought while he stood huddled under the weight of his winter furs. Leaning against his halberd the sentry noticed that as he exhaled his breath froze in the winter night air.
“A cold night” he muttered. Turning round, he glanced back over the sleeping camp. Apart from a hastily constructed barricade of rotten wood and foliage, he was all that protected his compatriots from whatever horrors lay in waiting. Even to individuals unschooled in the teachings of war, a lone sentry and a humble barricade appeared to be little defence against any determined adversary.
 “My last campaign” he sighed almost dejected into the winters night, his statement drowned out by the howl of the bitter wind. Anyone who had seen him standing there would have taken him for just another militia man. Like one of the ruffians who had signed up for the promise of gold, or even a local townsmen eager to protect his family and property. This man, however, had spent a lifetime defending his count’s assets. He had seen many friends die over his thirty-five years of service, and as a result had become hardened to death in the process. His eyes were everywhere.
    “One final campaign” he smiled

Alfred Von Marsdon had fought in the army of Stirland since he was a child, he was now almost fifty. He had, in that time, developed an uncanny understanding of warfare and of survival. Most men of his age had been either invalidated or killed. A number had gained entry to the counts great swords or even managed further promotion. Alfred though was never a candidate for this sort of advancement; he had to good a nose for three things; trouble, women and gin. Even in his later years it would not be uncommon to find him during the night, locked in the stockade intoxicated, bloodied and bruised. Though his fighting prowess had never been in doubt, his character traits had thus done much to hinder his elevation. Alfred didn’t care; promotion would have removed him from active service long ago. Alfred was born to fight and it was his stubborn determination to hold on to this way of life that had led him here. Standing sentry on this the most bitter of nights. His commander had attempted to send him home the previous spring, but with a fresh invasion over the border of Sylvania, Alfred had been able to prolong his retirement. In times of war a number of uses could be found for an old hand. Following various assignments, Alfred had finally secured himself a position as the commander of a small militia unit. This unit was raised only a day before to protect the region Waissenburg while the Count’s force mustered its strength around Wurtbad. Keeping eye over his new troops Alfred understood the task he had ahead of him. Clearly he had concerns about the abilities of these men; it was no accident that he had chosen to stand sentry himself.

Something in the dark caught the man's eye, years of service had trained Alfred's old eyes and now he snapped himself away from his distant thoughts. He watched as a figure emerged from one of the tents at the edge of the encampment. Illuminated by dwindling campfires the man made his way up towards the veteran. He strode confidently through the night and Alfred new instantly that it was the foreigner who approached. Most of this particular levy walked gingerly and Alfred had mused that they were even afraid of their own shadows. This man, Alfred had noted yesterday on the muster field, was different; he walked as a soldier should unafraid and direct.
“How goes it?” enquired the foreigner.
Alfred’s pretence was to be caught off guard but both men understood he was not, neither man though betrayed the roués. After a few uncomfortable minutes of staring out into the night an uneasy conversation started between the men. The conversation was sporadic and didn’t flow but Alfred was pleased to have some company. He learnt that his new companion was a Bretonian of good stock named Cedric Dacout. While dressed like much of the levy the foreigner sported a pair of well made riding boots and a nobleman’s long sword sheathed at his side. The Bretonian wore it comfortably and Alfred was reassured by the fact that someone else among this band of brigands was trained to fight.

The two men stood staring into the darkness talking little but shivering intensely.
“Perhaps if you would permit me….I believe you should get some rest” Cedric advised in an abrupt tone that betrayed his station. Alfred was slightly unnerved by the situation, Cedric was clearly his better, but then again the foreigner had joined his levy.
“Giving advice where it’s not welcome, is this why me lord finds himself in a rag tag Empire outfit and not some grand Bretonian court?” Alfred mocked. The night seemed too cold for violence but Alfred Von Marsden had decided to see what this foreigner was about. “You’re clearly tired” Cedric responded, having ignored the mocking tone adopted by the old man.
“I was only suggesting you take some rest from this accursed weather.  I shall keep watch until dawn.” It was clear to Alfred that the foreigner had a point and that he personally would rather be wrapped up warm next to a fire. However one thing that had defined Alfred’s whole carrier was his extreme and stubborn nature. His uncle had stated when he was but a child, that he had the stubbornness of a Dwarf. Tonight this was to prove to be pretty close to the truth.
“Nah… maybe later, besides I don’t particularly trust your kind.” Alfred teased at his compatriot’s noble blood.
“Bretonians?” Replied Cedric almost disinterested, his gaze had been caught for a moment by something out in the darkness.
“Sure…. Bretionians that’s wha….” Alfred’s voice trailed off as his attention had been drawn away. Both men crouched in unison. The attuned senses of the men highlighted the years of service between them. While it was impossible to see the danger that lurked at the edge of the darkness both men could feel that it was not far off, preparing to pounce. Alfred looked to his counterpart; “Cedric” The Bretonian responded by turning to face his commander and immediately understood their next move.
“Wake the camp?”
“Quietly” Alfred responded with a wink. His blood was up and the customary toothless grin had appeared on his face. Alfred Von Marsden found that he was no longer cold.

Offline Douchie

  • Posts: 518
  • The Army of Eastern Stirland
A Stirlander's Story
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2006, 01:04:51 PM »
A steady stream of men made their way up to the small wooden barricades. The militia, (which so far simply appeared as a rabble) were armed with a whole assortment of weaponry and sported an array of ancient, rusted and unserviceable armour. Looking at the troops under his command Alfred was unsure what resistance they could offer if assaulted by a determined force of Undead. The position of the camp itself wasn’t too bad. About forty feet in diameter, it was almost circular with steep slopes leading up to the barricades on all but one side. The remaining face of his defences was covered by a number of wagons that were guarded by a small detachment of spearmen.  With his old regiment, the famed Scarlet Guard (a regiment of halberdiers made famous by heroic exploits during the battle of Hel Fenn.) the position could have been held indefinitely. The heritage of the regiment installed a grim stoic determination in all the men that served in it. To falter in battle not only shamed the individual but shamed the regiment and all who had served in it. The halberdiers had never once fled.  The men who had answered the call to arms the previous day, however, were not of the same metal. Fear already showed in their eyes.  

 By the time Cedric had made his way back to Alfred’s position about forty men had readied themselves along the makeshift battlements. The Imperial veteran gave him a concerned look.
   “Where the hell are the rest of my troops Bretonian?” Alfred demanded as loud as he dared.
   “Asleep…..you could say” replied the foreigner with a devious smile. Alfred was about to question his counterpart when a devilish cry of pain was heard off to his left a little way along the barricade. One of the militiamen had been too eager to see what devilry was at work. Looking over the barricade, his form was siluetted against the light of the camps fires; he had received an arrow in the face for his curiosity. The man’s death was followed by what became a continuous hail of arrows “Here we go” exclaimed Cedric
“Death or Glory!” Alfred Von Marsdon now bellowed, rousing his men with Stirland’s longstanding war cry. He found heart in the fact that many of the levy answered the call. Perhaps, Alfred conceded, all was not lost.

Day light was still some hours away, with it would come some salvation. Until then the men of the empire would have to fight in darkness. In the domain of the Undead. To the men crouched behind the barricade their was little danger for the moment as the enemies arrows sailed over head or became lodged in the barrier. Only occasionally was a militia man struck down. This, however, did not comfort either Alfred or Cedric, for they knew that as long as the
troops were pinned; advantage would lay solely with their foe.
   “We need light!” urged a young fellow to the right of Cedric, who in turn nudged Von Marsdon. Alfred responded in his customary tone of disrespect;
   “What in Sigmar’s name, do you expect me to do… put the fuckin sun in the sky myself?” Cedric allowed the veteran his curse, after all Sigmar wasn’t his god. Plus the foreigner could see that his counterpart was becoming more frustrated at being unable to get at his foe. A nervous voice then responded from behind the men;
   “The black powder… from Nuln… giv yer as much light as yer need.” As the men turned they looked upon a young fellow named Henrich. He was modestly armed with a rusted blade while wearing a breastplate that proved rather too large for his frame. Despite his questionable appearance the young man’s suggestion was a valid one. The detachment of spearmen that accompanied the militia was transporting black powder from Nuln to troops stationed closer to the front. The black powder would not only reveal the danger surrounding the beleaguered troops, but also had the potential to dramatically even the odds. Preparations were made and after a short colourful debate with the sergeant of the spearmen, he was convinced to provide a few barrels of the powder. Perhaps the threat of revoking the offer of shelter that Alfred had promised the previous evening perpetuated the sergeant’s sudden change of heart.

A number of militia men armed with longbows had by this time started to respond to the enemy arrows. Word was passed along to the archers instructing them to fire their own arrows. It was not long after this that the men of the empire observed the treat that faced them. The empire emplacement became a hive of activity as the men prepared to meet their host. Ghostly figures ranged all around the position. The flame arrows highlighted enough of their enemy to make out where the larger formations of living dead had concentrated. Alfred’s force consisted of maybe sixty militia, (forty or so manning the defences) an independent unit of twelve spearmen and about fifteen archers. The visible enemy numbered some hundreds with countless more stalking the darkness out view. Alfred was summoned to the east facing wall were a large unit of living dead, maybe fifty or so in number, had been illuminated while making their way slowly up the slope towards the makeshift defences.  Alfred instructed that one of the barrels be made ready and a crude fuse inserted.
   “Sigmar, be with us now.” Gasped one of the men by the name of Simon, while he moved the barrel into position, others echoed his concern.
   “Will this work?” asked Cedric, who had followed Alfred over. For the first time the foreigner’s voice was uneasy, the noble making no attempt to disguise his concern. Indeed, the men of Bretonia had not the same confidence with the black powder that the men of the Empire had developed. Alfred turned to him and shrugged.
   “Look at it this way… Either it will blow those demons back to the gates of hell in a shower of bones… or” Alfred trailed off “or?” questioned Simon, now wishing he had heeded his wife’s words and stayed at home. Alfred turned to look him in the eyes, but didn’t need to continue;
   “Sigmar be with us” blurted Simon as the full gravity of the situation finally dawned on him.

Alfred held fast as the Undead continued their grim death march towards the Empire’s eastern defences. He did not dare risk wasting the black powder. Terror filled the hearts of the defenders as only a small number of the living dead succumbed to the frantic skirmish fire of their archers. The Militia seemed to hold their breath in unison as the enemy moved to within twenty feet of their barricade, many hands turned white as grips were tightened around weapons. Many realised they would not see out the night.
   “Push!” cried Alfred, his voice tearing through the apprehensive silence of the night. With the fuse alight, three men braced themselves against the large object as it slowly began to move forward. The barrel, however, was not moving nearly fast enough as the three men strained with all their might to move the cumbersome object. The fuse was burning at such a pace that it appeared the men would be cut down by their own foolish judgement. At this moment Cedric rushed out from the cover of the barricade and crashed with an almighty thump into both the barrel and men fighting to move it. The men clattered to the ground as the barrel crashed through the ranks of the approaching dead. Attempting to regain his feet, Cedric was then blown back into the mud as the black powder ignited with an almighty deafening crack.

The men of the empire covered their eyes as. For a moment, night was turned into to day by the sheer force of the detonation. Recovering from the blast and with the ringing still in his ears, Alfred quickly surveyed the slope for any sign of the foreigner; the old man was surprised by his concern for the Bretonian. Scanning the eastern face Alfred witnessed the destructive power of the blast. Many of the living dead had been destroyed by the devastating power of the blast. The explosion itself had ignited a number of trees and bushes in the immediate area of the blast. Most of the eastern slope was now black, scattered bones and weaponry sporadically covered the ground. There was no sign of Cedric.
   “Shame” Alfred muttered, turning back to check on the defences. “What the hell did he do with the rest of me men?” Alfred’s question was not really directed at anyone in particular, but before anyone had time to respond a cry came from the southern defences. The enemy was upon them. Those manning the southern wall had been distracted by the events on the eastern slope and as a result were paying for the lapse in concentration with their lives. Alfred’s reaction was quick, he took ten men with him and charged the flank of the Undead unit attempting to reform inside the perimeter.

Offline Alagoric

  • Posts: 83
A Stirlander's Story
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2006, 01:29:39 PM »
Nice one mate. Keep writing! Its like learning to ride a bike - the more you do it, the better you get.

I'm gonna respond to your question to part V of my own story here.

Inspiration, huh?

If you want to get all technical, according to such learned authorities as the 19th century writer Georges Polti there are only 36 basic plots in literature. A nice clear example of the list can be found at http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/articles/36drama.html.

So inspiration, apparently, is just a clever way of dressing up one of those plots.

I dunno if it helps but I've sort of broken down how I write a story.

I believe that the real key to it is being able to write short stories, like what we did in primary school. A fun exercise is to describe, in two pages of A4, your journey to work, and to make it interesting. Make it more interesting by being made late when you have to get there on time.

Any longer story is pretty much a collection of short stories that are in some way connected together. For example, describe in two pages of A4 how you, having barely got to work on time, managed to avoid the office manager's...

The next bit is to dress those ideas in the clothes of the world that you are creating.

Rather than you getting to work, instead describe, for example, Soldier-Sentinel Wilhelm Brun's sudden awakening in the arms of the young lady whose affections he had negotiated the previous evening, and his frantic and semi-clad dash through the muddy streets of Kohlberg before Sergeant Muller does morning roll-call.

Another thing is to make sure you know about what you're writing about. In my own story, for example, a force of soldiers is making its way through underground tunnels to try and assault a skaven lair. In order to keep things consistent, and so I know what I'm on about, I draw loads of little sketchmaps, and usually cover them in notes too. I do lots of research on weapons and uniforms too, because its amazing how something like a line in a reference book can suddenly make you think.

And practice describing things. That always helps. Really look at things, and take note of texture and odour and colour and shape and shadow. You have to be all of the senses of the reader - sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste, (and generally, though not universally, in that order too).

Little details are really important. For example, in your story Albert was standing in the wind and the rain and yet his breath is misting in the still winter air. Look out for stuff like that. The devil is always in the detail.

Keep both a dictionary and a thesarus handy when you write. I cannot emphasise this enough. If you don't have paper ones a fairly good online one is http://dictionary.reference.com/ and its mirror http://thesaurus.reference.com/ - be warned, they do chuck out pop-ups every now and again, and can sometimes a bit flakey. Have some fun using alternative or odd words.

If you can do all of that you're pretty much there. The inspiration part is being able to see where all of those little individual bits of story you are telling are leading to.

But that still begs the question, where do I get inspiration from?

I keep a notepad and a pen handy all of the time. Every time I get hit with inspiration I take a moment to note down a few keywords. Inspiration can be anything - a really cool explosion you saw in a movie, a wierd news story in the paper, finding the source of a strange smell, the way you would have written that scene from your favourite teevee series, something a friend says, a silly little sketch you draw, anything. The keywords kind of jog my memory when I'm sitting in front of my computer actually writing the story.

I hope thats of some help.

And don't be afraid to edit your work. The friendly Mods here want the best, and as far as I can tell thoroughly approve of improvements.

Offline Douchie

  • Posts: 518
  • The Army of Eastern Stirland
A Stirlander's Story
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2006, 09:06:55 AM »
Cheers for that, I will check out the links in due course. :wink:

Offline Douchie

  • Posts: 518
  • The Army of Eastern Stirland
A Stirlander's Story
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2006, 01:06:04 PM »
Von Marsdon’s first move was to slam his halberd with all his might into the leading creature, this succeeded in felling his target but also in splintering his weapon. His momentum took him on into the mass of Undead. Now fighting for his very life, the old man flung his fist at the closest target. With a crack he broke several bones in his own hand as well as destroying part of the creature’s face. Alfred, adrenaline now pumping through his veins, ignored the pain. With his free hand he garbed the cavalry hammer that he carried from his belt and in a single motion bought it to bare against a second skeleton. With the force of this blow, the weapon had become imbedded in the creature’s ribcage and Alfred was thrown back for the moment unarmed. Despite the precarious position that the veteran now found himself, all was not lost. The militia that had followed their commander over to the ensuing melee had at first moved timidly towards their pray. The fanatical display of courage shown by Alfred, however, had spread like the plague through their ranks and they charged fearlessly to join the fray. While attempting to regain his feet a shield crashed into Alfred’s face, breaking his nose and knocking the man to the ground. All blood and tears he lay dazed and prone awaiting his deathblow. It never came. Alfred felt a rush of bodies over him and could hear a mortal combat ensue all around.  Then someone grabbed him around the collar and dragged him free of the hellish conflict.


Cedric came to his senses face down in the dirt, he was cold and disorientated, but had somehow escaped serious injury. Spluttering to find his breath, the foreigner found that his hearing had been damaged, his head swooned as he fought to hold onto his consciousness. For a time all concept of his situation had left him.
   “Stupid!” Cedric cursed himself, shaking his head struggling to find his senses. The Bretonian had been reckless with his life, this was clear, but for a time all else seemed distant. All went black.

When Cedric came too, he was more aware than before. He now found that he was pinned, a dead weight pressed him down restricting his breath. Only luck had saved him from drowning in the mud where he lay. The Bretonian battled to be free, slowly he liberated one of his arms and clawed away frantically to emancipate himself from what trapped him. This stubborn, determined display continued for what seemed like an eternity, Cedric all the time expecting his enemy to come across him and snuff out his life with the cold edge of its blade.  With the battle raging all around, Blind madness alone drove him to keep fighting for a way to free himself.

With all focus on the task at hand Cedric was unaware of the form that had closed to within a couple of yards. A sword was levelled towards the foreigner with the tip coming to bear against his check drawing blood. Unable to do anything else Cedric froze, silently cursing himself again for the erratic and unprecedented display of recklessness that had led him to this moment.
   “Speak!” An unearthly voice demanded through the clatter of battle that now raged all around. Cedric thought the voice, which lacked even the faintest trace of emotion, to be from some Undead creature intent on tormenting him before the kill.
   “Speak so I know thee as living… Speak”
Looking up Cedric could make out that he had been accosted by a knight in blackened armour. He recognised the man as a Templar of Morr. He knew that he must speak, the tone of the Templar’s voice indicated that he would not hesitate to use the blade if he failed to reply. The Bretonian struggled to utter the words that he was a friend,  that he was living. Cedric was still badly winded; the weight on top of him hindered his breath further. The inside of his mouth was blackened by the blast of gun powder. Unable to speak the foreigner lay still, waiting and watching as the Templar of Morr debated.
  To Cedric’s relief the knight sensed movement off to his left and swung himself in to sudden motion to meet the threat. Cedric gulped as the templar move away to engage his foe. Then observed for a moment as three Undead warriors closed in for the kill. The templar effortlessly parried their blows, then countered in a flurry of strikes that left one of his foes beheaded. The Bretonian used the distraction to finally drag himself free. Finding the way to his feet Cedric unsheathed his longsword.

Cedric watched, transfixed as the templar effortlessly slew the two remaining creatures. Hate seemed to drive the warrior’s sword, dictating the dance of death as it ensued. The man devoted to the worship of Morr, the god of death. He appeared to take pleasure in dispatching the unearthly creatures. Enraged that they dare deny Morr’s will, walking the world as living dead, challenged his beliefs. More of the Deed were drawn to the fanatic even as he slew all who approached. Cedric knew the knights’ blood lust gave him the strength to maintain his frenzied assault indefinitely, making him almost immune to his assailants. The Bretonian also reasoned that the Templar may again take him for a foe.  With this in mind Cedric made his way back up the hill toward the battle that now raged inside the Empire encampment.

Offline Douchie

  • Posts: 518
  • The Army of Eastern Stirland
A Stirlander's Story
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2006, 04:57:51 PM »
The next instalment, enjoy.


The remaining troops under Alfred’s command had been forced into a defensive position around the wagons to the north of the encampment. The remaining six Huntsmen lined the top of them, picking out targets and ensuring that every one of their remaining arrows found it mark. Of the forty men that had fought along the barricades for over an hour, only a dozen or so remained. All sported cuts and bruises, all had stared death directly in the eye. The spearmen detachment alone was relatively untouched. Their sergeant had formed them into a shield wall facing southward toward the centre of the camp. This had become a refuge for those lucky enough to have struggled back.

The Undead came on in waves, each breaking against the Spearmen’s shields. Militia men braced themselves behind, lending their body-weight to the wall of men. Exhausted men stabbed downwards over the shields, their desperate attacks driven by little more than adrenaline. Alfred noticed the young lad Heinrich fighting further along the line. The boy had come of age during the hellish combat. He seemed to have more energy than many of the others and fought with a kind of frenzy that had surprised the old veteran. It was the boy that had dragged him free from the initial melee and lay him on the wagon while he fought to regain his senses.

Eventually the Undead assault lost momentum. Men dropped to their knees or simply collapsed from exhaustion. Only the Spearmen stood firm shields held high, broken shafts remained in their grips, levelled toward the enemy. The men of the Empire observed as their foe stalked their position from a distance.  
   “Why don’t they just finish us?” quivered one of the militia men sitting with his head resting in his hands. Alfred didn’t answer, his attention had been caught by the sound of battle and the beat of drums from further down the valley. Heads lifted as the sounds became louder. For a long moment no one spoke, silence gripped them. The Undead in the centre of the camp, about sixty in total, seemed confused, as if their will had been split. Alfred had fought the Undead many times and understood that they were driven by two things, their master’s will and their instinct to devour the living. If the creatures were being drawn away it was because their master required their service.

Just then Alfred saw a figure standing on the eastern barricade behind the massed ranks of living dead. His clothes torn, bloodied and blackened, a long sword in his right hand raised above his head.
   “Bloody Foreigner!!” Alfred cried out.
The Bretonian raised the horn in his left hand to his mouth, taking a deep breath Cedric blew. At that moment, movement erupted from the collapsed tents to the rear of the Skeleton warriors. Militia men emerged from their cover. Boxes, tents and barrels over-turned to reveal men, enraged from the sound of slaughter that had raged around them for so long. Over twenty men in total, eyes reddened in fury.
   “Charge!!!!” bellowed Cedric as he ran head long into the nearest skeleton, driving his sword down, smashing through the creature’s ribcage.  

Alfred, spurred on by the appearance of his compatriot, urged his exhausted men forward. Spearmen discarded their heavy shields and unsheathed their side arms, then followed the militia into the fray. All cohesion was lost as men became separated amongst the mass of Undead. The men of the Empire sold themselves dearly. Heinrich in particular still raged swinging his now broken blade back and forth in his frenzy. He could not fail to hit due to the number of creatures cramped into the shrinking space between the forces.

Striking at his enemies as they moved forward to face him, Alfred caught a glimpse of Cedric fighting his way to the centre of the formation. The veteran followed suit and drove forward, a discarded axe in his left hand, another’s sword in his right. His axe blow was parried away by  a skeleton that now moved towards him. Alfred clashed swords pushing his foe’s weapon away. His sword moved slowly towards the creature’s skull. Holding Alfred at bay with its own weapon its resistance slowly began to fail. The grind of metal on bone screeched out as  Alfred forced his blade into the eye socket and through the back of its skull. He was then kicked in the side with such a force that he rolled back between the legs of friend and foe. His assailant, a huge animated corpse of an Orc, pursued him. Now lying on his back Alfred attempted to gain his footing, but was stuck by a backhand thrown by the lumbering creature. It lifted a solid club in its other hand. Alfred grappled frantically through his belts, his hand coming to the handle of his old pistol. Unsure if the thing was loaded, unsure whether the old thing would still fire, he cocked the pistol and fired. The shot took away the right side of his opponent’s face. The massive Orc crashed onto Alfred burying him.