• We have updated our Community Code of Conduct. Please read through the new rules for the forum that are an integral part of Paradox Interactive’s User Agreement.


Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
Since my ill health last year I have had difficulty having much of any kind of creative thoughts. However in the last few weeks I have finally had one. This one, to be precise. Hopefully it will be all that I imagine and something you all will enjoy.

I will caution you that this very first installment is quite graphic and horrific. Be warned.
His breath puffed out in a cloud in the cold air of early Spring. Hefting the axe once more he swung at the tree he had nearly cut down. With a groan of protest the branches above crashing through their neighbors the tree crashed to the ground.

In spite of the cold he wiped his brow clearing the sweat for a moment. Arching his back he looked up at the cloud covered sky and grimaced. It looked like it just might snow one last time before the new season took hold. His draft horse nickered nearby waiting patiently with the sledge to bring back wood to the family farm.

He bent back toward his task when he heard a scream in the distance. He stiffened in surprise as he recognized his mother's voice raised high in terror. It was a sound he was wholly unfamiliar with, yet he recognized just the same. He began sprinting back toward the house, uncertain of what was wrong, yet hoping it was nothing serious.

As he neared the cleared land his home stood on he topped a small rise overlooking the farm. A group of horsemen surrounded the farmhouse. Their rough clothing and mismatched armor and weapons showed them to be brigands. Or perhaps mercenaries down on their luck. He skidded to a stop and hung onto the bole of a small tree.

There was no way he could fight them by himself. He saw his mother sobbing over the still body of his father. His father, the strong capable man who had taught him everything he knew of farming and the land. He lay unmoving in the dirt in front of the house. Two men roughly grabbed his mother's arms and dragged her away toward the interior of the house.

He stood there a moment unsure of what to do. His eyes were drawn to the scene below in horrified fascination. Johanna! He turned and ran back the way he had come and flew past the draft horse. His fiancee's father would know what to do. He had three strong sons and nearby neighbors who could help his family.

His feet charged over the land, unerringly avoiding roots and holes in the forest he knew like the back of his hand. He ran as fast as he could, hoping that he could return in time to help his family. A sharp coldness stung his cheek. Another his eyelid. He glanced up to see that it was starting to snow.

He put his head down and ran faster. His nostrils became aware of burning wood, yet he didn't make the connection until he reached the outskirts of the farm and saw the house and barn fully engulfed in flames. There was three bodies lying in front of the house, blood pooling around them. He gasped in horror as he realized there would be no help coming from his fiancee's family. He looked toward the town along the narrow trade road.

More smoke billowed into the sky from other farms, it seemed. A huge cloud of smoke rose in the distance in the direction of town. A sob escaped his throat as he realized that there would be no help forthcoming from anyone. His eyes took in the burning buildings once more.

Tears flowed from his eyes freely. The snow started to fall faster and thicker as the sky darkened. His knees hit the ground with a thump as he realized his fiancee was likely dead and burning in the house before him. He beat his fists on the ground shouting out with grief when he noticed he still had the axe in his right hand.

Forcing himself back to his feet he turned back to his own home. There would be no help for his family. No one but himself. He began to run back toward his farm. He gasping breath echoed in the stillness of the forest, his steps now crunching through the light covering of snow.

Heedlessly running, he stumbled and clawed his way along, branches slashing at his face as the snow fell even thicker. The horse whinnyed as he thrashed past.

Upon reaching the rise once more he looked down to see the horsemen gone. His father still lay upon the ground, snow beginning to cover his motionless body. With a cry of dispair he rushed down the slope, dropping to his knees at the man's side.

With trembling fingers he touched the wound to his father's chest. It has stopped weeping blood. His workshirt saturated in blood the older man's face showed the shock, pain, and horror that preceeded his death. Kissing his forehead Wilhelm turned to the house.

The door was partially open. He pushed it fully open and screamed as he saw his mother naked and dead upon their table. He turned away and saw blood and grey matter on the stone of the fireplace. He looked down at the hearth to see his infant sister lying there, he head smashed in.

Rushing to her tiny form he reached down and cradled her in his arms. Tears streaming down his face he looked for his other sisters. They weren't in sight. Calling out their names he awkwardly clambered to the loft, only to discover they weren't there.

Returning to the main room he snatched the comforter from the bed and draped it over his mother's body. Blood had slithered off the table and onto the floor. Ignoring all this he set his baby sister down carefully on the bed and started a fire in the fireplace.

He stepped outside and grabbed his father's arms. Dragging him into the house he lay his father next to his mother before covering him as well. Closing the door in the teeth of the rising wind and thickly flying snow he picked up the baby to sit down in the rocking chair his father had made for his mother in front of the fireplace.

Cradling the baby he stroked her face and the side of her head that had not been crushed. His fingers barely felt the silky strands of her blond hair as he stared blankly into the fire.
This was great! (Well, obviously not great in subject matter :() I almost felt like I was there. Are we looking at a quest for vengeance?
A multipurpose quest....vengeance, redemption, salvation...all three and perhaps more. We'll have to wait and see how it goes.
That was strong writing there Amric. When I came at the end I was really sucked into the story.
I do wonder what the boy is going to do now, how he will avenge his loved ones, if he will be able and recognize those people that did it or will he avenge them on the invading army as a whole? And of course, how is he going to do it seeing as he is now all on his own? And of course no answer yet what timeframe we're looking at, though I'd say before widespread use of gunpowder arms.
Dark, Amric...definitely dark; but I should likely expect no less at this time in your life (as I know it, at least.) ;) The writing was good...no...great in passages. In some spots, perhaps a bit over-touched, if you know what I mean...but great! The story itself, at this point, turns towards much sadness...and darkness, which lends itself to good storytelling for some reason. ;)

Excellent to see you writing again, Scott. :) I'm looking forward to where you take this.
Qorten - I can't tell you that, you know. As for the timeframe it is pre 1500, but that is all I will say for now. I thank you for your kind words on my return to writing. I really appreciate it.

Coz1 - Thanks, Allen. I appreciate your kindness. I am, however, puzzled by what you meant by over touched. I have lost some thing from the stroke and apparently understanding that is one of them. Please explain. Unless you meant some of it was a bit over the top? I had wondered about that aspect myself, actually. I was and am a bit concerned if I have lost a bit of my writing skill from such a long haitus and the stoke issue. Good to know I still have a bit left, even if rusty<in my own opinion>
I suppose I used the term to encompass the various activities of the post - there was a lot of action - running, crouching, swinging, etc. It seemed a lot. While of course, that was the point of the post, it did not quite flow the full way through as it normally might from your pen (keyboard.) That is surely rust that will come off once you get more comfortable in writing again. I'd just watch the number of times you use a specific word (like "crash" in the first paragraph or "he" seemingly throughout, though there is no getting around it many times.) Consider ways to show rather than tell...that kind of thing. Wish I could be more specific, but I fear my critique muscle is perhaps as out of practice as your writing. ;)

All that said - in many places, the descriptors were wonderful!
I was and am a bit concerned if I have lost a bit of my writing skill from such a long haitus and the stoke issue.

Isn't it like any other skill? If you don't use it you lose it? I wouldn't be too worried. I thought the story started out as well if not better than your others. If anything there's a more subdued feel to the story than usual. but with only one post I don't want to read too much into it. Looking forward to more.

Coz1 - Thanks for the clarification. I think I understand now...

J. Passepartout - Thank you, I appreciate it. The war will be revealed in time, my friend. It's not what you think it is...

Storey - Thanks, Joe. Coming from you that means a lot. Glad to see I haven't completely lost my touch. It makes me feel better knowing I still have something left.
No, you haven't lost your touch.

Your writing bings out, vividly, the stench of death and the insanity a young man suffers losing his family and fiancee in a single day.

After your experiences, to see you writing again is a triumph.
Wilhem awoke with a start, his fingers cold and stiff. The fire had sputtered out, the ashes grey and cold in the hearth. His eyes adjusting to the dim light in the house he looked down and noticed his dead baby sister on his lap.

Nearly jumping up in horror he forced himself to stand up slowly, cradling her cold body gently. Turning about his eyes welled up with tears as he saw his parents bodies upon his table.

Peering around the cradle was upended by the bed his parents had shared for his entire life. Lifting it with one hand he turned it back upright and lay his sister down inside it carefully. Smoothing her hair away from her face he straightened and moved stiffly to the door.

Opening he narrowed his eyes against the glare of the morning sun on the snow blanketing the countryside. The air was cold and crisp, the sun midway up the sky. With a grunt he realized he'd left the draft horse in the woods. Glancing back at the bodies in the house it wasn't a stretch to realize that they would keep for a while longer.

Stumbling through the snow he made his way back toward where the beast had been left. Eyes on the snow he noted hoofprints heading toward the small barn. Head swiveling toward it he saw the doors were wide open to the elements.

With a slight smile he churned his way to the barn and looked inside to see the horse in it's stall head drooping in slumber. The lead he'd tied to the tree clearly broken he shook his head as he looked for anything for the poor creature to eat.

The oats were gone, as was the straw and anything else even remotely edible. With a sigh he trudged to the horse and gently removed the gear from it, waking it only for a brief moment before it fell back to sleep.

Closing the door to the stall and then the barn he shuffled to the door to the root cellar. With a grunt of effort he lifted the door, dislodging the snow piled on it. The sunlight leading the way he stepped carefully down the rickety stairs his father had always meant to repair.

His fingers reached automatically where the small lantern always sat on the nearby shelf. Meeting only air he turned to see it had been taken. Peering into the gloom he realized that all the foodstuffs had been taken away. Nothing was left.

Sighing in dispair he forced himself to go back up the steps and return to the barn in search of a shovel. Upon looking in the place there were no tools left inside. The farm had been stripped of all tools and food. Anything useful had been taken.

Everything but the horse, the axe, and himself. The ground was too hard to try and dig with his bare hands or even with the dubious help of the axe. Returning to the house he searched it as well. No food. No tools of any kind. The clothing had been left behind. His spare tunic and trousers were there for him, as was the clothing of his parents and baby sister. Oddly enough the clothing of his two missing sisters were still where they had been placed yesterday morning.

The house was cold with no fire burning. His parents and sister didn't mind, of course. He, on the other hand, wanted to be warm. But the oppressive smell of death and their bodies were enough to drive him out once more.

Picking up the axe he left the home and stood outside looking at it. With no tools other than the axe and no way to bury his family his choice was obvious. Head toward town and hope that someone had survived with at least a shovel he could borrow so he could bury his family.

Waking up the horse he patted it gently before placing the bit and bridle back on it. Leading it away from the barn he looked back once upon his farm before turning his steps toward the nearest town. The one he thought might have been on fire the day before.

Surely someone there had survived the brutal attack of the armed men.
The last sentence is slightly foreboding. Great writing.
I doubt Wilhelm will have any choice but a funeral pyre.

Very powerful writing, Amric. The first passage was gripping. As Coz said, there was a lot of action. There are probably tricks you could have used to make the sentences read crisper and so speed things up, but it was an incredible post nonetheless.

The second reads more like an interlude and only proves these were raiders/looters. Still nothing to tell us if this was a well organized 'rebellion' or invasion, and if so by whom.

Seems pretty obvious the bad guys kidnapped his sisters. I think once Wilhelm has recovered from his shock he'll have to go after them.
Unlike my old character Sonny, there's no Civil War to run off and fight in this one, but that doesn't mean there isn't a fight to be had. ;) First burial. And already in the second post, Scott, I can see some steady improvement. I particularly liked this:

Peering around the cradle was upended by the bed his parents had shared for his entire life. Lifting it with one hand he turned it back upright and lay his sister down inside it carefully. Smoothing her hair away from her face he straightened and moved stiffly to the door.

Keep at it, man. Joe is right - it's just like a muscle. It takes keeping in shape, but just because you fell out for a bit doesn't mean it won't come back. Of course, tell that to my non-flat belly. ;)

I am curious about the missing sisters. Seems that may be a goodly part of the upcoming action - trying to find them. I don't suppose Wilhelm will meet up with a dashing young man at arms named Erik to help find the poor girls, eh? ;)
JDMS - Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. You could say that the sentence is foreboding, but you'd be right.

CatKnight - I can't give anything away, of course. Thank you for your kind words. Yes the second is an interlude of sorts. Can't have all action all the time, can I?

Coz1 - No Civil War, but considering the time frame, plenty of warfare to be had all over Europe. I don't remember who Erik is, to be honest. You'll have to refresh my memory.
My bad, apparently...it was Eric. ;) I seem to recall that name populating many of your tales over the years. :D
A month too late, but still I'm glad to have noticed another work by you, Amric. You've got another hooked reader, even if one not as eloquent and good at critique as some of the others. I will follow this story with much reading pleasure, and - some anxiety even.