Bahadur ducked under a collapsed beam that had once held the roof up to the shop he now found himself creeping through, every foot step carefully placed amongst the debris and scattered pieces of masonry that covered the floor, the half ruined counter still containing rooted magazines and petrified remains of what had once been foil wrapped food. Crossing to the where the backdoor would have been he crouched in the shadow of the ruined portal leading out into a wide area which in happier times would have likely been a delivery bay of some sort, rusted out hulks of two vehicles sat on ruined tires to one side besides decrepit plastic crates. Nothing seemed to move in the half light as he studied it for a minute before moving as quietly as he could up to the next piece of cover he could secrete himself into, the past 3 months had been trying to say the least for the boundsmen as he put his back up against the metal hulk of a destroyed sign that had fallen from the floors above, the rusted and snapped pinning joints still visible a few floors up on the building next to the loading bay. Things had not been going well for those Lost that tread the path of these lands, his own band had lost half their number to a vile combination of mutant, disease and the environment itself. Rolling one shoulder he looked across to the exit to the bay where the chain link fencing had rust through and broken in several places as the material lost its battle with time as did all things. Bahadur checked the revolver his sister Azar had found for him some weeks before that he know kept close to had alongside his sword, quickly making sure the barrel wasn't fouled before drawing it and cocking the hammer as he crept forward from his hiding spot. Naturally a sceptic of most things what rumours and tales he had heard coming out of the Green Vale where the Red Veil and Maah-Maah tread chilled him to the bone, the creatures of the seers realm as his family called them where something best left to those with the talent for it in his experience, but the thought of them raising from the silent existence and greeting the real world terrified him even if he wouldn’t admit it to anyone. He shook the thought from his mind as he tried to refocus on his job at hand, as a forward scout for the Last Voice it was his job to alert the army should anything be coming their way or should he find something of interest such as an underway to circumvent their enemy. Right now though he was supposed to be finding where the Lone Family band had disappeared too as they had failed to report in to any of the other bands for the last 3 days, that was enough to put him on edge besides everything else as the army tried to cling on to what territory they had managed to claw out of this infested area. Pausing at the gate he looked up and down the adjoining alleyway, the recirculated air picking up bits of rooted paper and soot, flinging them about in the breeze as Bahadur crossed to the other side and ducked into a broken doorway leading into a burnt out tower of some kind. The motion made his head spin momentarily as he felt his pulse rising, the stress starting to get to him like some newfound boundsmen on his first night away from the firelight. “Come on Bahadur, get it together” He muttered to himself as he shook his head and stood up straight, bracing his back against the charred door frame, “You’ve walked every inch of the nomads path since you were a child and now you’re getting jumpy at the wind” he scolded himself. Taking a deep breath in he steadied himself as he stepped out from the shadow of the doorway and began to move silently down the alleyway towards the open concourse of what had once been a main road through the area, ancient scorch marks covered most of the buildings in the area with the occasional crater and darkened smear attesting to some ones passing or some long forgotten conflict of some sort. What caught his eye though were the fresher splashes of dark red that had begun to mix with whatever other liquids coated the ground here and there, small pools of oily like residue slowly spreading through the patches of blood. Pausing to study one he noticed something lying on the ground, a piece of material that had evidently snagged and torn free from whoever had passed this way, picking it up with a short took to free it from its snare he turned it over in his palm as he looked it over. After a moment he found what he was looking for and swore under his breath, the piece of material had the crest of the Lone family decorating the back of it, the intricate lines making up the lower part of it torn and shredded where the material had caught and torn from the main body. No Lost would desecrate their family symbol so blatantly unless they were in a serious rush or in serious trouble, the surrounding blood and signs of battle answered that query instantly as Bahadur moved forward finding the odd piece of broken carapace and the corpse of a mutant lying keeled over where something had ripped its chest cavity open during the ensuing fight, viscous ichor coating the surrounding ground where it had expired. Drawing his Sword he carefully lifted the crest of the mutant, gagging slightly at the smell as the corpse twisted and rolled onto its back leaving it sprawled out, “definitely a howler” Bahadur thought to himself as he saw the two bone like scythes that formed parts of the mutants arms . Drawing what conclusion he had already been thinking he let the corpse sag as he moved on towards the end of the alley way, the gruesome task now of locating the bodies rather than the task of finding fellow lost alive and whole. He wondered before how long it would be his turn to become another forgotten memory in a forgotten place amongst the ruins, another lost corpse never to be found and only mourned until all those that knew him receded from living memory. He own answer did not sit well with him as he knew the answer would be as equally short and violent as any other had been for those lost that fought and died here for what little land they could claim, his own sister would likely tell him the same thing she had been saying for days already if he told her how he had been feeling, that the Nomads’ path can be trying and sometimes painful, but never suicidal. This land was suicide...
Military Campaign Progress Edit
For every battle fought there is a moment where victory and loss become indistinguishable from one another, a time where the balance between those that clash pivots on a point no one can see through the smoke and blood. The best laid plans can unravel with terrifying speed, whilst those that should have lost before they even began find themselves walking through a valley of destruction, the victors by luck born of cunning or the favours of an unseen patron. For every victory there is bitter loss, and for every desperate loss a pyrrhic victor left to stand with their dreams nought but ash in their mouths, each starring into the void where once lives were. For the Boundsmen and Tradesmen of the Last voice victories can come in the smallest of fashions, where past actions that have forever changed the path of the Lost civilisation are lauded for the heroism of the few, the ideals of the great nomad venerated by the greater whole. For every loss though a hole is felt by all touched in even the smallest way as the loss of a brother or sister, mother or father, kin of blood or bond stretches across all, never truly dissipating for the rest of those that remain. For now neither of these matter to the Lost of the Last voice as the pivot of war measures both in kind and compares this bloody toll with those of the very foe that they face, for every well timed push and act of heroism is met in kind by bloody losses and mounting dead, the insidious touch of disease wracking through the very warriors that would stand side by side., leaving withered husks and the stench of death in their wake for all to see. The air itself seems to hang still as each breath is drawn for what is to come in the passing days and weeks that lie before those that may yet find their lives come to pass.
The first handful of weeks see a continuation of what has come before it as the swarm of mutants clashes in greater and greater ebbs and flows of violence and bloodshed with the last voice, the army’s own tenuous grip on the third of the territory it currently holds becoming further entrenched with the blood cost of its warriors as the fallen continue to mount amongst the bands of Boundsmen and tradesmen that war with the mutant kind. As each day passes the army makes tentative steps forwards against the swarm, catching what packs it can off guard before attempting to isolate and wipe them out with careful encirclement and rapidly moving bands of warriors. The tactic seems to work more often than not and wears down the more aggressive mutant packs whilst avoiding the worst of the fighting for the Last voice’s own troops, a few bands make better progress still as the constant wearing down of the mutants they do encounter starts to form a steady routine of identification, encirclement and elimination as the army attempts to push forward into the next third of the territory. This slow but steady pace soon spreads out to the entire army and forms the beginnings of a plan that should maintain control of the third the last voice already holds whilst wearing away at the next section, allowing for nests to be cleared and secured before moving onto the next location, any holes appearing amongst the bands quickly filled by those held back for the inevitable losses incurred as the army attempts to fight its way through the swarm. By the end of the first month the senior warriors from the lead families find the reports coming back to them painting a clear; if bloody, picture of the task at hand as well as a clearer idea of what exactly they have walked into in terms of new grounds that they find themselves warring amongst. From what few scouts have managed to penetrate further into the territory without being killed in the attempt its appears that the last voice finds itself stuck among the ruins of a former industrial zone of some sort, accounts of ancient half collapsed warehouses and rusted assembly barns filling the ears of the Last voices leaders, a potential treasure if they can shift the mutant swarm from its prize.
The dawn of the second month comes and goes with a solemn pace as the army continues its bloody work, yet more losses amongst the bands to be tallied and returned home beginning to wear in places at the morale of the healers and elders of the families supporting the last voice in their work. Some boundsmen are heard to grumble and snap when questioned by their fellows about what lies ahead, the stress beginning to show amongst them as a sombre mood seeps in amongst the army like a dark veil across every face. Some moods are lifted at the news from the refuge of yet more food having been secured and the stocks growing happily fat according to the refuge family elder, the thoughts of kin returning for the Elders meet to the sights of mountains of food bringing the odd smile to the face of the hard pressed, the actions of the families of the green vale fighting to secure the lost’s future refocussing some young boundsmen on the necessity of their task. However as the next couple of weeks pass something far more insidious begins to creep in amongst the camps of the Last voice, at first its past off as an isolated incident by the odd healer but as the days pass something begins to grasp around the throat of the army in a vice like grip, the feeling of illation felt turning to dread. Amongst the casualties being carried back from the front and those that can walk themselves to their healers a sickness seems to begin to spread, turning healers tents from places of healing to sites of decay and lingering omens of death. Disease is a violent harpy that prays on the weak and the defenceless, reaping a blood harvest faster than any army, and the problem soon becomes evident as the third month rolls into view for the last voice. Their enemy literally seeds their destruction where they fall, every wound they inflict causing damage far beyond the seeming cost as lacerations and open wounds fester and turn vile, every cut and small injury suddenly turning into a potential final sentence for the bearer. The army’s healers rapidly turn their arts to trying to identify the exact part of the swarm responsible and come to a terrifying conclusion, examination of the bodies of slain mutants find that the bone extrusions acting as blades and weapons are covered in a fine film of bile and acid that when exposed to human flesh over the course of hours reduce it to a infected paste capable of corrupting anything it touches, be that healing salves, food or water.
What actions can be taken by the armies healers are carried out without the need for a single spoken word as those that can be saved are prioritised from amongst the long trains of wounded, the moans and cries of the dying carrying out far beyond the camps whilst those that are too far gone are gifted a peaceful end as far as one can be given by the healers. However as the weeks pass its steadily becomes more and more evident that this may not be enough as the rate of death begins to climb amongst the wounded, healers finding wounds they had previously treated beginning to blister and tear anew. A council amongst the leaders of the army is called to hear the words from the head healer as to the scale of the dying and injured, what they have to say chills even some of the more taciturn tradesmen as the words sink home. For every warriors their craft saves from the embrace of the beyond 2 more die from infections and another of fever induced madness that leaves those alive the day before dead by morning when their compatriots raise to check on them. At this rate the effects will kill more than the mutants themselves who already reap a bloody toll amongst the army as it is, and should this continue the problem will only begin to multiple itself as the list of wounded grows ever larger amongst the army. The prospect of handling this issue causes debate amongst the council of leaders for several days as the army continues to attempt to claw its way into the next section of the territory over the course of a couple of weeks with little success. The early tactics employed that seemed so promising in the early weeks proving more and more ineffective against the swarm as if the entire body of mutant kind had slowly begun to awake as if from some form of slumber.
This assumption is sadly proved correct in the following week as the end of the third month of continuous fighting draws near, as a small band of scouts from the maah-maah family having managed to find a singular route further into the territory ahead brings back reports of a great seething mass of mutants rising from a central nest of an enormous size, packs of howlers seething into a frenzy of activity as vicious almost arachnid like creatures scuttled too and fro amongst the mutants in bands of their own, each around another of their kind marked with bright red markings along their spines. It becomes more and more clear that the originally encounter packs roving the territory where not the forward force the last voice had thought they were but merely guards and keepers to the larger swarm slumbering within their nest further within the rusted lands. These same mutants now awake with a greater and greater frequency as the scent of blood and meat catches in the wind and those packs that managed to escape returned to begin to rouse the rest of their kind in a tide of malevolence set on one thing with one thought in mind...Too hunt the prey that had so thoughtfully wondered into their lair…
The Last Voice has made little head way in regards to conquering the territory they find themselves engaged in with perhaps half the territory still in the hands of the mutants after 3 months of continuous fighting. Worse still casualties continue to pile up and at the lowest estimates some 360 odd lost have died from mutant, infection or disease fighting this mutant swarm, whilst the swarm has only lost barely 300 more of their misbegotten kind. At this continued rate the Last voice could endure only 3 more seasons of this combat before they would break and cease to exist as an effective fighting force.
Rot amongst the Grain Edit
With the continuing battle to the south by the Last voice and the actions taken in the green vale by the families present within the Lost find themselves in an odd place as the Festival of the Elders Meet draws upon them. Families far and wide find themselves drawn home to the refuge to friendly faces and friendlier fire lights amongst the vast sea of tents and caravans that make up the Lost where-ever they may congregate in large numbers. Whilst some sing and drink with old partners and cousins to the growing stores of food others look grimly on at the silent places where kin should be sat who now lie cold in the grave, amongst the Family Elders themselves, drawn away from the festival preparations ongoing quiet discussions pass back and forth. The Daughter of the first family, The Den Mother herself, sent to see the families of the green vale to account for past actions and future plans speaks of the ‘old brothers’ who still seek to end their way of life whilst at the same time speaking of the strange things she has seen from amongst the other cultures, the war like Hive-sec, Secretive company, jovial privateers and Shrewd Mech-corp from the far east. On the words of the Cellborn she draws the most ears as the rumours coming north from their holds draw further nervous looks from amongst the elders, most joke they are simply that and the rest agree as the den mother of the first family sits silently amongst her fellows, a look of sombre thought crossing from her face to her fellows as few keep her eye.
1) The Vote for the Vas-Shah of the Last voice is to be held from amongst all Boundsmen, this is the be carried out and the den mother informed by Friday evening at 9:00pm at the latest
2) The Vote for the Caraventeer is also to be held from amongst all Tradesmen, this is also to be carried out and the den mother informed by Friday evening at 9:30pm at the latest
3) The Festival of the Elders Meet is occurring this coming season and as such the Families of the Green vale may find members of the refuge family accompanying those of the first family this season to share talks with the family elders whilst the rest of the families feel free to enjoy themselves. These elders of the lost should be arriving during the course of Saturday evening.