Author Topic: Tyrael Kane: Blood and Sand  (Read 2632 times)

Soldier0fortunE

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Tyrael Kane: Blood and Sand
« on: June 01, 2014, 03:37:05 AM »
The boy sat on the end of the pier dozing, protected from the hot Calishite sun by a crudely constructed linen overhang. He looked to be about eight or nine years old, and the crude fishing rod in his hand marked his trade as a fisherman, as were almost all in his village. While considered too young to risk life on the turbulent Lake of Steam with the adults, his job, and that of most of the other children, was to fish in more calmer waters, collecting bait to be used by the older folk in their vessels in the deeper waters of the 'lake'.

His village was located about a days ride from the city of Mintar, and was considered under that city's protection but as in most things, word and deed were two different things entirely.

The tanned youth started awake as a distant noise reached him. For a moment he sat blinking against the barrel he was propped up against, disorientated by waking from his doze, before again the sound was repeated and he found himself on his feet, his rod still in his hand.

The sound had been a distant and pain filled wail, which now he was awake he noticed was being joined by many others, as well as the clash of weapons.

More importantly it was coming from the village behind him!

Dropping his rod he turned on his heels and ran along the pier, his feet, already leathery from spending his life barefoot, slapping against the crudely joined wooden planks.

As he ran and drew closer to the village, his home, the din of battle increased, and he could see mounted figures in the centre of town, hacking at the helpless folk surrounding them with all manner of weapons, curved scimitars, crushing maces, and simple clubs among them, while others swung nets from horseback, entangling and bringing down any nearby.

The young boys hand flew to his neck, ripping the sling that was tied around it there free as he bent, still at a full run, and scooped up a handful of stones from the stony beach the village was set against. Loading a stone into the sling he swung it wildly above his head before releasing, the projectile knocking one horseman from his mount with a sickening crunch of stone on skull.

He kept moving, stones being flung from his sling, as he drew nearer the centre of the village, slipping between two buildings and into the square at the centre when he witnessed a sight that froze him in his tracks.

His father, the old warrior and one of the headmen of the village fought against a dismounted warrior, his helm the savage skull of a huge horned ogre, a creature the young lad had only ever seen in nightmares. His fathers opponent was massive, clearly a half orc, or perhaps even a half ogre if his size was anything to go by, a mighty maul the size of the boy himself in one hand and a massive shield of dark iron in the other.

The mighty creature had his father, who despite his age was still one of the best swordsmen in the village on the defensive and even as the boy watched, frozen in place, the creature used the spiked tip of his maul to trip the aging warrior to the ground, before swiftly placing a boot on his chest and raising the hammer.

''PAPA!'' The word burst from the young boys lips as the massive maul began its downward swing, no power in the Realms able to stop it now...and crushed his fathers skull into paste, blood, brains and parts of skull splashing over the massive figure.

With an animalistic scream the boy swung his sling, sending one, two, three stones at the massive figure, all of which bounced off the skull-helm of the hulking figure, not even making it flinch.

It looked around, then pointed at the boy with its massive hammer. ''Take him. Alive.'' it rumbled, in a voice that would echo through his memories for the rest of his days. Running out of stones the boy bent and picked up a brick, knocked from a nearby wall, in a fluid movement and smashed it into the face of the first of the laughing warriors that came at him at the huge creatures bidding.

The man fell, his old battered helm rolling away and revealing his human, middle aged face, blood gushing from his broken nose. But that was the limit of the boys vengeance, for by then he was surrounded by three of them, and being just a boy could do nothing to stop the blows that fell upon him, knocking him from his feet.

For a moment he blacked out, and when he again could refocus, he was pinned to the ground on his back, the booted feet of another pair of warriors, dressed in a mixture of armour, cast off finery and rags, on each wrist. The massive creature, no doubt the leader of this band, stood towering above him, his eyes visible through the eye sockets of the ogre skull he wore, disturbingly human looking, a strange piercing blue unlike he had ever seen in this land of dark skin, hair and eyes.

''This one has spirit. He will last longer than most in the mines. Take him.'' the voice rumbled out from behind the skull, a grizzled jaw visible through the jawbones of the ogre, marked by a deep scar running from his chin up his cheek and out of sight under the helm.

Then he knew no more as a booted foot came down on his face, driving him from consciousness and horror.

***
« Last Edit: June 01, 2014, 03:41:58 AM by Soldier0fortunE »

Soldier0fortunE

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Re: Tyrael Kane: Blood and Sand
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2014, 08:23:58 PM »
Moisture collected on the walls and ceiling of the roughly hewn tunnel, the sound of it falling and dripping to the stone below a constant background noise, as well as the sound of iron picks digging into stone. The air was humid and clinging, and foul with the stench of sulphur, sweat, rot and worse things.

The boy made his way down the tunnel away from the clanging picks, his slight but already muscular body dragging a small barrow behind him, full of chunks of rock, glittering with specks of the precious silver, the entire reason for this mines existence.

With barely a thought he used his foot to move aside the decomposing remains of a body, making room for the barrow to pass. The sight of a body in the mines had become so commonplace over the two years he had been here that the action had little effect on him other than a hoarsely muttered curse at being slowed down. It would mean the lash once again if he failed to deliver the ore on time.

For two long years he had been forced to toil in this hellish pit, his young age sparing him from having to swing a pick, risking death by tunnel collapses, or being scalded alive by steam after breaking through into a fissure or various other horrendous fates, of which he had seen more than his share.

Far more than any ten year old boy should see.

No, instead the masters had him drag the mined ore back to the central chambers to be unloaded and the reloaded to other carts, the heavy loads made more bearable by the iron rails the carts slid along.

But still, it was heavy work, and despite his age he had already developed a wiry strength, the heavy work and lack of food leaving him lean, but tautly muscled. The masters wasted no expense on clothing the slave miners, which in a way was a blessing due to the heat, but already the boy bore his share of scars.

With another hoarse curse he kicked aside an old skull that would have derailed the cart and kept on moving, his muscles screaming at him to stop, to rest, but knowing from experience that the pain of aching muscles was nothing compared to the pain the masters would inflict on him if he were but a few moments behind schedule.

There were always more slaves after all.

He hurried along dragging his burden behind him, when suddenly the thought struck him, not for the first time, that one day soon some other boy or girl would be kicking aside his own rotting carcass as it blocked the rails.

He pushed aside the thought, and just kept moving...

***

Soldier0fortunE

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Re: Tyrael Kane: Blood and Sand
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 12:06:14 AM »
It was hot.

Hellishly hot.

Even now, here, far above the steaming mines, the heat was almost unbearable, the air itself hot and sticky, filled with moisture.

Night had fallen hours ago on the crudely constructed cabins the slaves collapsed in for a few hours of desperately needed rest after the pure misery that was each day.

Each cabin stunk. A mixture of sweat, feces, urine and rot that seemed ingrained into the very walls, floor, ceiling and cots each miserable slave lay upon, exhausted.

But not a single one of them even noticed it any longer, just grateful to close their eyes and embrace unconsciousness.

Sweat gleamed on the naked bodies of each slave as they lay there, too exhausted even to fidget in their sleep, and barely a noise could be heard beside the odd snore, or the odd nightmare induced moan from a broken soul.

But there was a sound.

A sound that had woken him.

Consciousness returned to the boy slowly, and it took a moment to realise that it was more than just a sound that had woken him, but the pressure of a hand on the bare, sweat slick skin of his thigh.

As consciousness returned fully another hand closed on his tightly muscled shoulder harshly and began to turn him over to lay on his front. It was at this second that the other sounds that broke the silence registered to him...grunting, sobbing and occasionally the sound of a fist striking flesh. As the hand continued to turn him over he knew what was happening.

The guards were having their sport with the slaves...

...and once again one was about to have his sport with him, yet another horror that had happened to both him and the others so many times now that he had lost count.

But this night something unexpected happened.

This night something changed in him.

This night he snapped.

As the rough hand on his shoulder continued to force him to turn over his right arm rose from where it had lain half hidden beneath the cot, the thick piece of wood he had managed to slowly over several days work free from the cot clutched in his hand. The wood smashed into the half seen, leering and bearded face hovering above him in the darkness.

It was not a hard blow, as he lacked both the momentum and the correct angle to strike, and so had little force behind it.

But it served its purpose.

That bearded face leering above him jerked up and back as the already half dressed guard staggered back a step in shock and surprise at the unexpected blow.

The moments surprise and pause was all the boy needed.

He practically flew to his feet, the thick, heavy piece of wood again crashing into the mans face, the cheekbone this time, which shattered with a satisfying crunch. The guards mouth fell open in shock, but so quickly had all this happened that pain had not yet even had a chance to register...until the piece of wood connected with his right collarbone this time, the sound of the bone snapping audible over everything else in the room, bringing an instant silence.

Then the guard screamed finally, and all hell broke loose.

The boy had finally, completely, and utterly snapped. As blow after blow rained down onto the collapsing guard, the boy fell deeper into a pure animalistic rage, becoming only an animal snapping or lashing out at what had hurt it...but multiplied tenfold. A hundredfold even. Shouts erupted around him from the other guards, questioning at first, as barely anything could be seen in the almost pitch black hut, then rapidly growing more outraged as they began to realise that one of the slaves was fighting back.

The wood crunched down once more on the guards head, and then with a roar that sounded as though it came from an enraged beast rather than from a ten year old child, he began to force the piece of wood into the guards mouth, savagely mimicking something that he had been forced to do on far too many occasions. The guard gurgled and choked as the boy forced the piece of wood past his now splintered teeth, ripping away the uvula in a spray of blood that rapidly began to pour down his throat as the wood continued its way down until the sharp, jagged tip entered his chest.

Then the boy stepped back and as the guard began to thrash, kicked the piece of wood now jutting from his throat with all his might.

The guards head jerked to the side, and his neck snapped with a sound like a wet tree branch snapping.

Screaming in rage, practically howling like an animal infact, the boy ripped the long dirk that hung at the jerking guards belt, now down past his knees, from its sheath and in a single vicious slice...castrated the already dead guard.

Then he spun as more guards came hurling towards him...and fought like the animal he had become.

***

The sun beat down mercilessly on his naked flesh.

Humanity had long since faded, and consciousness came and went, as the boys battered, bruised and terribly beaten body hung by his bound hands from a metal hook jammed deep into a tall wooden pole in the centre of the circle of huts.

Three guards had died that fateful night before by the hands of this young child.

The first one with the broken neck, as well as another whose throat he opened with the dirk as they came at him, and finally the third that had died later on from blood loss after the dirk found itself embedded in his ample stomach. But despite that it was over quickly as blow after blow fell on him, the guards using the cudgels each was equipped with, wanting to take him alive so as to make an example out of him.

It was good that the boy was unconscious, for he was spared the details of just what the masters of the mine had in store for him.

Many horrific punishments had been discussed as his battered body hung there baking in the hellish sun, from being smeared with honey and buried up to the neck beside an anthill, to having every inch of skin on his body slowly removed and then being coated in salt, to crucifixion, to slow dismemberment, and other such barbaric fates.

For the rest of last night and all day so far (the height of midday had passed hours ago) he had hung there, the skin of his naked body blistering in the sun.

They planned to keep him hanging there for days to come as a warning to the others, until almost dead with thirst they planned to nurse him back to health so he would...enjoy every moment of the fate they had in store for him.

Time passed, though to the boy time no longer had any meaning, was no longer a concept he could understand as he drifted in and out of consciousness, his entire body aching and burning from head to toe. The sun advanced in its path across the sky, until finally darkness began to fall, bringing some relief from the hellish sun, but doing little against the awful sunburn he already suffered, his skin red and peeling terribly.

If he was capable of noticing right now, from his current vantage point he would have been able to track the progress of a pair of horsemen moving towards him slowly over the course of the last several hours.

At first they were nothing more than a pair of specks on the horizon on the plains far below, then slowly form and shape became visible as they began to make their up the trails from the plains into the foothills of the mountains. Both riders were tall and powerful, that being clear enough even as they sat in the saddle, and the clothes they each wore (despite being covered in close to a weeks worth of road dust and other such grime) were of extremely fine cut and weave, looking to cost more than a common laborer would earn in a year. Both were handsome beneath the dust and stubble of a long journey, clearly the sort that turns the head and spurs the imagination of most women as they passed, even in their current state.

Slowly they made their way through the long, curling valley the mine sat above, and then up the trail that led to it from the valley.

But the boy saw nothing, lost in the depths of delirium.

***
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 12:12:07 AM by Soldier0fortunE »

Soldier0fortunE

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Re: Tyrael Kane: Blood and Sand
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 02:27:46 AM »
Kaseem raised the goblet of wine to his lips, pausing and inhaling before sipping and instantly missing the fine living of civilized Calimport, and cursing the business that brought him so far from it. While being the best on hand in the office of the Master of the Mines, the wine was a pale imitation of the full bodied reds he was used to back home.

The First Master, the highest ranked of the three Masters who ran this mine, sat across from him and prattled on with the polite but meaningless small talk that came before every business discussion in civilized discourse. Asking about such pointless matters as his journey, his family, and whether things were the same in the great city of Calimport since he had last been there.

As he did so Kaseem studied him, and disliked what he saw.

He was short and fat, his head shaven completely to the pate without a trace of stubble remaining, and his skull gleamed with scented oil in the light reflected by the pair of ornate lanterns on the low table between them. From the smell, Kaseem was fairly certain that close to every inch of the First Master's body (a man who exactly thirty seconds after meeting he had no inclination or wish to learn the actual name of) was likewise drenched in scent.

His features were effeminate, as was his manner, and kohl darkened his eyes, while some other concoction Kaseem was not aware of tinted his lips darker. What looked at first glance to be expensive rings decorated each finger on both hands, but after a moments consideration were revealed to be nothing more than gaudy and over the top imitations of class, while a pair of heavy golden hoops hung from each ear lobe.

The single ring Kaseem wore on the ring finger of his right hand, an ancient family heirloom and his only vanity, for he believed jewelery to be for women and not for men, was alone worth five to six times everything that the First Master owned, he suspected.

As he spoke he came across extremely effeminately and even worse his manner was obsequious and cloying, the sort of man that would metaphorically (or in actual fact, he thought to himself as a rue smile curled his lips for a moment) lick clean the arse of one of superior station to him if he thought it would advance his wealth, prestige or position in life.

A minor official in love with the pathetically limited power his position grants him he thought to himself, no trace of the disgust and scorn he felt for this creature masquerading as a man showing in his face or voice as he responded to the small talk with the odd comment of his own.

Finally, when he judged enough time had passed he held up a hand, cutting short the repulsive creature in the middle of some anecdote Kaseem had ceased listening to after the first few words. ''To business. Perhaps you shall see the city once more a great deal sooner than you expected First, as our master wishes me to express his discontent with the most recent shipments of ore from this mine. It is far below what the Pasha was expecting, and what has been received in the past. He wishes me to express his concerns that perhaps controlling a handful of guards and less than fifty slaves is a feat beyond your capabilities.''

For a moment the Master sat opposite him, his mouth actually opening and closing in a manner resembling some bloated, oily fish before he finally found his voice. ''Master Kaseem, i assure you the lower yield is nothing but a temporary setback. The most recent vein we were following has been mined clean, and the other veins we have found are sadly far smaller. But i assure you, i have the slaves working twice as hard as ever to expand the mines and the initial reports of a new vein we have discovered look most promising.''

For a moment Kaseem let his dark eyes drift around the room, already bored with the man, his excuses and most of all the conversation in general. ''That leads me to another issue our Master has that he wishes me to convey. Each slave costs him. While the price of the wretches brought here to work are barely even worth mentioned, each one does have a value, and the Pasha did not become one of the wealthiest men in Calimport by damaging and destroying his investments. In the last six weeks since the last status report you compiled, my agents have reported that up to twenty percent of your workforce has quite literally been worked to death, a fact which i shall point out you failed to mention in that report. Both the loss of our Masters investments and your failing to report it is unacceptable to our Master.''

Again the fat little creatures mouth opened and closed like a drowning fish as he desperately sought to frame a defence, or excuse, or blame it on one, or all, of his subordinates now doubt. However, before he could stop himself he could not help blurting out ''Agents...?''.

Kaseem smiled coldly as he spoke quickly, not giving him a chance to recover his composure or wits. ''I am our Masters right hand. Do you imply that i am as incompetent at my job as you are at yours? The fact that you were too stupid to suspect that i have agents watching both you, and all of our Masters employees offends me even more than the fact that you are currently trying to come up with some way to save your own skin, prestige and position and come out of this mess you are responsible for smelling like roses in the Pasha's eyes instead of accepting your faults and presenting me with a proposal detailing which changes you shall make to rectify this situation.''

At least this time the One Master managed to keep his mouth closed, but by now his skin had paled from its natural deep brown to something resembling thin, grey parchment stretched over his skull, while a growing sheen of sweat now added to the gleam of his shaven oil soaked head and dripped fairly regularly from his face, a fact quickly picked up on by the Master for he suddenly mopped his face with a cloth from his robe.

''I...shall stress to those men that work for me and maintain the mines that they are to be a little less...zealous when directing the workers, and shall see to it the monthly yield is increased, Master Kaseem. You have my word on this.''

Once again Kaseem smiled coldly, the smile not touching his eyes. ''I am sure that you shall. Our Master demands an increase of fifty percent in next months shipment or the month after that you shall be spending your days counting pennies in the cheapest of our Masters whorehouses in the slums of Calimport...if you are lucky. You shall also have no replacement merchandise to replace that which you have worked to death until at least the new year. Now, tell me why one of our Masters investments is currently hanging from a pole instead of doing what he was purchased to do.''

''He attacked a guard Master Kaseem, killing him and two others like a mad dog before my men were able to knock him unconscious! He hangs there as a warning to the rest of what happens should one of the insects -dare- to lay a finger on those that watch over them. After two or three days in the sun, he shall be put to death in a most unpleasant way as a further example.''

For a long moment Kaseem stared at him in complete silence, his face blank and completely unreadable. Many over the years would recognize that face, though few enough would be able to speak of it, for it was the face of death, the cold and emotionless mask each of the countless hundreds he had slain while doing his masters bidding (and before) had seen moments before their lives ended.

The face as the blade plunged home or slid across the throat.

The First Master however, was far too stupid to realize such a thing, as the closest he had ever been to a true killer was one of the bar room bully boys he typically hired as the guards of his operation, and exactly what it was that sat before him was something he could not even imagine for he had no concept of.

However, luckily for him, the Pasha had not given the order for his life to be taken and Kaseem was no mindless killer, killing only those he was directed to do so. A man must have a code after all...

After his long silent stare he finally spoke once more, his voice a little colder then before ''How is it this slave obtained a weapon? Let alone defeated and slew three of your men? He looked no more than a boy.''

The Master nodded, an expression of disgust and horror on his face ''The boy is a wild thing, a beast. He stole the blade from one of the guards last night as he made certain each of the workers were safe and resting well, and then slew two others before he could be controlled. But as i said Master Kaseem, he shall be dealt with harshly indeed.''

A faint smirk touched his lips once more as Kaseem replied ''So, the guard, or guards were busy raping our Masters investments and this child caught them with their pants down...quite literally. That is what you meant to say, is it not?''

The Master seemed lost for words and so he merely nodded.

Kaseem sat in silence once more for a long time, but this time his expression was thoughtful. ''Any slave that can send three armed and grown men to the worms is wasted here, especially when said slave is merely a child. You will have the boy cut down. His wounds shall be seen to and he shall be nursed back to at the very least a semblance of health so that he may travel with me to Calimport on my return through here from the other mines our Master owns in the region. He shall be kept apart from all slaves, and all those in your employ shall be warned that any causing the slightest damage to our Masters property shall be dealt with by me on my return. I shall view him once more after he has been cleaned up and if on my return he has so much as a single extra scratch or bruise you shall be held personally responsible. You shall do this now.''

Again the Master could do little more than gape like a freshly landed fish, but he managed to nod vaguely, then clasp his hands together and lower his head to a particular position in a Calishite gesture of submission to a superior.

''As for now, i shall retire for the night. Make certain that my room is prepared and that fresh clothing awaits me for tomorrow by the time i have finished making use of the bath house. Also, send one of your daughters to my room to await me, the young one, Liah this time. Food also, i have not eaten since midday.'' Then without even looking at the Master he rose gracefully to his feet, the movement clearly that of the warrior born, and then left the room, each step graceful and fluid despite his muscular bulk, always perfectly in balance.

Kaseem made his way across the estate of the First Master to the bath house, a separate building across a small, gauze roofed square and entered. He quickly dismissed the servants and stripped off his clothing, laying it neatly on a shelf in the changing room and then entered the bathing chamber through the large double doors.

His skin was the colour of the First Master's, but there the similarity ended, if such polar opposites could even be called similar. His build was extremely muscular, his shoulders broad and strong, the muscles moving gracefully beneath his skin with each movement. Rather than the muscle associated with hard work however, it seemed more that created and maintained by a strict training and workout regimen, each corded muscle on his gorgeous body trained and developed to perfection, neither smaller nor larger then it should be, each muscle developed to compliment and match his build and size, while not even an ounce of fat could be seen anywhere on his body.

The strenuous training and perfect build had unlocked something rare and utterly devastating in this deadly fighter, both fabulous speed and agility as well as size, strength and weight. He was the living definition that the old saying that big men were generally slower was not always correct, for he had rarely met a faster opponent than he over the years, nor had he often come across a man stronger than himself.

It was also clear from his graceful movement and the level of devotion displayed to maintaining himself at the peak of physical fitness (or even beyond) that his skill with a blade or even two was considerable to put it lightly.

All in all, Kaseem was nothing less than a killing machine.

He entered the scented water of the pool, his gaze on his companion, the only other occupant of the bathing hall this night, as he washed the dirt from his hair beneath a fountain set into the side of the pool for just that purpose.

Once he had finished and had pushed his hair back from his face his gaze met Kaseem's. He said nothing, merely raising an eyebrow, noting something in Kaseem's expression and prompting him to speak as he settled into the water.

''When we return this way, the slave hanging outside shall be joining us. He looks no more than eleven or twelve, and yet apparently slew three of this excuse for a mining installations guards. Such anger and raw talent is utterly wasted here, and i shall not let such potential be squandered by a fool such as the First Master.''

The other man nodded after a moment, still saying nothing and staring at Kaseem. He was built much the same, very well muscled but not to the same degree as Kaseem. He was also taller at over six and a half feet, towering over most people, but also slender. The most startling difference however was his skin, for unlike Kaseem's it was as black as pitch, marking his origin as the jungles of Chult or even beyond.

Reading a question in the look he received, Kaseem spoke once again ''As i said, it would be a crime to waste such potential out here on the edge of civilization. If after being examined and put through his paces he is found to be unsuitable or uncontrollable then his fate will be of no further concern to us, either back to the mines or into an unmarked grave.''

Kaseem turned away from his fellow gladiator and ducked his head under the surface of the pool, rising once more after a moment and adding ''But if he is suitable...i sense he may become one of our best assets in the arena, and bring a great deal of wealth and glory to House Batur.''

The huge black man stared at him in silence for a long moment once more...and then finally he nodded and turned away to finish washing.

Kaseem smiled to himself.

Perhaps this would turn out to be a fairly profitable journey after all, against all odds...

***
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 02:44:18 AM by Soldier0fortunE »

Soldier0fortunE

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Re: Tyrael Kane: Blood and Sand
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 02:32:01 AM »
.