The hiss of escaping steam filled the air around the small shelter, the vapours of various scraps of food mixing together as they circled in the air as they became trapped with the mixture of decades old smells that permeated the surfaces of the multitude of materials above. The pot itself that sat above the fire was as old and decrepit as any other, a once gleaming metal surface reduced to a tarnished and battered state with innumerable dents and cracks along its outer surface and yet it still held true to its purpose. This same pot and same fire had cooked food for the same family for generations and little changed beyond the contents each night when the fire was restoked and relit time and again to provide a source of heat and light in the ever prevailing gloom of darkness that filled the ruins even within the homelands. Tonight though something tangible was different, a lack of presence that hung in the air and caused the hiss from the pot to sound more like an angry rasp than the happy gurgle it normally produced. The figure sat cross legged beside the pot stirred it slowly as they looked on, sighing slightly before picking up the rod of wood that sat next to them with a small knife still embedded into its surface as they began to slice away the wood, pausing momentarily to blow away bits and remove loss flakes that caught in the air to produce a small spiraling tower of embers in the air above them. Glad in their shawl the figure struck a lonely figure as they nursed the contents of the pot periodically whittling away at the former chair leg that sat beside them, the rest burning away happily in the fire before them. Soon the shelter would be filled with other faces that would sit quietly eating away at their portion of the pots fill as the eldest present served the food out before sitting silently and eating there own before giving thanks to the ancestors for another days passing in the small enclave of light that still persisted in this place of darkness. Sighing again she put the small knife down and looked at the small icon she had been working away on quietly for the last few hours as she had tended the family’s evening meal if you could even call it that. The Gatherers had been diligent in their work and had been guided by the hands of the ancestors to scour every known place for any vestige of edible supply whilst the hunters had tracked packs of rats for meat to thicken the broth that know boiled away in the ancient pot beside her. Even with all this the pot consisted mostly of a thin gruel that satisfied the belly for little time and left the young ones groaning for more as everyone began to slowly go hungry even here. She shook her head at the thought of what the Quiet Step must be going through as any food they found was sent home to the tribes under the auspices of the shamans of the Iron tree, food had never been an issue until the last few months their supplies had begun to run down and down, the tribes themselves struggling to located new sources and the ancient systems that had once provided a stream of food falling silent. The brass tyrants to the north lavished food upon themselves and what hunters travelled the pathways of the dark lands sung tales back that the lands of those others they saw were filled with no such signs. Shamans across the various tribes had prayed and chanted away the hours in hope of appeasing what wrong they had done before the eyes of the ancestors but to no avail. This mystery that had befallen the peoples could only come from the darkness and through the darkness they would have to march to find their answer, the green places that the other cultures marched provided them with untold riches and supplies so passing traders said but at the cost of bloody sacrifices of body and soul. She rested her head in her hands for a moment as her own belly gurgled painfully, muttering a prayer to the ancestors under her breath “Why have you forsaken us so, have we offended you so ancient ones”. No she though if the darkness we truly their only source of blight it would not be to this extent, there was one other who would see fit to gain from the pain of the peoples in such a manner, their ‘old brothers’ in their far off hole where they nested like the vermin they were away from the ancestors light. She spat without thinking into the flames at their name in revulsion; making the sign of the iron tree to ward off an ill omen that her thoughts might attract, if they truly were to blame it would explain the silence of the ancestors in the prayers of the peoples during the shamans wakes and séances. She let her anger wash over her for a moment as she calmed her breathing, letting the shake in her hand calm until it lay still once more as her thoughts collected themselves together once more beyond the hatred she held for the ‘old brothers’ and their barbarous ways. Looking at the pot and thinking of the words that travelled the ruins of others fortunes in the green places she looked at the small knife sat next to her and let her thoughts wonder to that of the hunters who watched the pathways beyond and into the new places to the north and east of the home lands. Gatherers moving through the ancient tunnels and ruins had seen Kin of the brass tyrants settling themselves into the lands that bordered the lands of the peoples with no sign of starvation or worry, It would be a simple move to simply walk the pathways and slip into their lands to relieve them of the food they evidently did not need as much that the tribes of the peoples did, Closing her eyes she laid her head to her hands, making the sign of the Iron tree before her and began to pray to the ancestors in the old tongue, invoking their will in her eyes that she might have the ears of those that surrounded her to carry out this act that should it carry the hearts of her fellow tribes that they shall away the pain of the tribes with this simple act. Raising once more, the thoughts of the contents of the old battered pot forgotten and grasping the knife in her hands she got up on her unsteady feet, crossing over to the edge of her shelter and heading for the nearest band of tribes people she could see, her eyes glistening with the flames of ambition and drive behind them as her idea took grasp with the embers of a desperate heart.
Military Campaign Progress Edit
Scars of the heart mark every known human being since the dawn of the first civilisations where one would stand and another would scheme of their downfall to replace their rise with that of another. Brother would fight brother as cultures split and merged to be reformed a new into rivals that would last for generations to come as each side stood on an edge facing one another as each claimed the right to inherit what their forefathers had laid down together that they now stood divided by time and distance between each other. Through out history humanity has seen the story play out time and again as each family has risen to greatest and survived horrors inflicted upon them to be born anew only for a seed of rejection to sprout forth and split the survivors into vying factions under the leadership of blackened hearts. Inevitably this split sees blood flow and one side or another forced from their homes to either die in the wilderness of time or form anew civilisation that grows in the shadow before striking forth in a tide of generational wrath which marks the passage of history with their actions leaving a scar that never truly heals. This scar will be forgotten as those that seek to heal the rifts come forth in all shapes and sizes only for the annuals of time to split the scar anew and renew the hatred that once flooded from it in a wave that engulfs the efforts of moderates under a steam of anger and thirst for a vengeance never truly satisfied and that sits at the heart of the origins of a people, grasped so tight that it becomes a burning cry to all those that would listen to it but for a second and see the flames engulf those who had so wronged them in the past. In this way a scar may never heal fully and sit in the shadow of time waiting for the right moment to once again come to the fore and drench the pages of history in the flow of blood once more.
For the Hunters and Gatherers of the Quiet step that walk the paths of the ruins, spreading light where they can to the darkened places inhabited by the mutated spawn, savage marauders and dark cultures that cover the few safe places that once stood this scar burns at their very core and requires very little to catch and ignite like a wild fire amongst the army with but a single word. This source may come from anywhere at any time and though the youngest hunters are trained to heed to calls of the ancestors over the heeds of the heart when the flames of the past catch even the most resolute and solemn hunter can turn from their work to look into the heart of vengeance and become part of a seething mass of hatred and anger. Accordingly as the first week passes by of another cycle the army finds itself on the move once more along darkened roads and through forgotten paths further into the ruins as the Chiefs of the hunters and Gatherers guide the army onwards through the ruins in their attempts to lay a secure wreath around the homelands against the encroaching darkness that presses ever more upon them with each passing day. Packing down their war camps and hides they see small bands of gatherers making small temporary shelters in the overhangs of ruined buildings and in tunnels , smaller groups of hunters standing by looking wary and tired from their treks to the recently secured lands. Some of the younger hunters make comments about how little food they seem to have brought with them and when passed along to their chiefs the questions are asked again of the armies gatherers who pass them by as these small bands likely just being the first to arrive ahead of larger groups, hence travelling light as they ranged ahead. This placates some of the questions but a few stick hard and runners are sent to return to the homelands to ask the Shamans what is happening as the smallest of worries takes hold in a few minor places, seemingly innocuous as they nest at the hearts of some of the quiet step.
As the next few weeks pass the army keeps on the move as they press ahead, their large screen of scouting hunters leading the way through the dark places towards another land spotted to the west of their position through a long path way travelled earlier on by a band of far ranging scouts. The promise of bringing the ancestors light back to yet more of the ruins brings smiles to some of the more spiritual of the gatherers as the accompanying shamans take to their work with fervour as the army quietly makes its way towards the border entrance, passing by the very boundaries of the dark core of the colonial ruins. Those that take a chance one evening to look out across the place from an elevated position see it to stretch on as far as the eye can see in the half gloom, pin pricks of fire lights and the screech of the mutant kind carry across the air as the darkness here seems to grip hold even tighter than anywhere before. The dreams of hunters and gatherers alike are spiked with nightmares of gnashing fangs and dripping mandibles leaving those that wake to shout and scream as they stir amongst their fellows with a start. The Quiet step moves away from the core as quickly as possible as the chiefs dare not rouse the spirits that clearly mark the place, pushing westward once more towards their objective. As the dawn of the final week of the first month comes into focus the army finds itself faced with the entrance ways to a new land laying before them, ancient signs hanging from metal trees around them with white lettering rendered unintelligible by time and the loss of panels from their structures. One simple reads ’Car-spice’ in two broken words as the army passes beneath it, spreading out to await the words of their chiefs and the words of the scouts ranging ahead already into the new lands before them. When the word is given the leading war-bands move forward at pace leading their fellows into this new land, their eyes and bows ever vigilant for the signs of the mutant kind amongst the silent ruins. Surrounding them forests of towers spread out around compounds of what had once been white buildings marked with red crosses beside the names these places bore, the scouts reporting back speak of a large central compound in the midst of the territory that may be a good spot for the quiet step to make solid camp within the territory as they truly ascertain the meaning of the place. The chiefs debate this for a short time before agreeing and dispatching the scouts to make the way clear for the rest of the army as they draw together and push ahead as one, something though seems to follow in their wake as the final day of the first month passes by and the first of the second comes into view. Nobody is initially aware of it but as time passes something claws at the gut of each member of the army, laying its hand on their shoulder as it watches from afar, an insidious touch that waits with a furry yet to be unleashed.
The first warning signs come as the end of the first week passes and the chief of the gathers for the quiet step arrives at the war tent of the hunter chiefs, the elder shaman of the iron tree for the army accompanying them with a sombre mode hanging over them. They disappear into the tent where little sound is made beyond the benedictions to the ancestors before their purpose for arriving commences in earnest, they emerge some hours later with the war chiefs in toe who call all the chiefs of the various war-bands together to spread the word amongst the quiet step. What words these are is at first kept amongst them but soon are opened to all as the army is called together in a great assembly lead by the various shamans within the army, the war chiefs stand before hundreds and bands of various tribes and begin to speak, the words that flow from them draw sombre looks from all that mark their passing. The questions asked by innocent hearts at the start of this march come back to haunt them with a vengeance, the small bands arriving into the latest land seized by the quiet step arrived with little food, this was not because they were ranging ahead of the larger settling tribes but were the settling tribes. What little food is no left is being held within the home lands to avoid utter devastation by starvation, all those beyond the boundaries of the home lands would have to fend for themselves as the final stockpiles for them ran dry over 3 weeks ago meaning what food remains amongst the army is all they have unless they can find more amongst the ruins. Silence hangs over the assembled hunters and gatherers as the darkness that had laid its hand on their collective shoulders settles amongst them like a predator simply bidding its time before it strikes. The next few weeks pass in a solemn state as the army attempts to nurse what food remains amongst them, strict rationing only delaying the inevitable outcome that awaits the army as a whole as the effects of the lack of food begun to make themselves known across every war-band and every tribe within the quiet step. The first funeral rites are carried out as the first to die from lack of food pass in silence beneath the bowed spears of their fellows, a procession of shamans leading their bodies back to the home lands for interment alongside their predecessors of their tribes. By the end of the second month these processions would grow with increasing pace as the rationing effects took less and less effect and the rate of death began to climb amongst the hunters and gatherers to the rate of the healing shamans consigned three to five names a day to the ancestors care across the army.
The passing of the dawn of the third month would see no relief for the quiet step as the death toll climbed as they dutifully still attempted to carry out their role amongst the darkened places of the ruins. Scouts would leave the camp in the morn and return in the evening with their finds, sometimes bringing back map information, sometimes small caches of food , others still minor finds of bits of tech or other supplies from amongst the various buildings of this land. Overall though the war chiefs were beginning to see the larger picture of the land and the irony of it hit some with a nasty sense of humour that spoke of angered spirits to some or history still to others. Half the size of their previous claim this land seemed to have been dedicated to healing and its arts before the end times had come for this colony, the sick and injured being brought here to receive treatment by the advanced machines and medicines of their time. Now it sits silent but for a few scattered scavengers and signs of passing mutants, were the situation with the lack of food to be sorted then this land may offer a bounty to the peoples as a whole some of the shamans whisper amongst themselves however one finding catches in the heart of army, in a still room in one of the medical compounds an ancient hide is found bearing markings unrecognised to the young hunter. Bringing to back to the army for the shamans they recognise it immediately, condemning it to flame and fire as the ancient long lost banner of the ‘Great nomad of the lost’ is burnt before the iron tree. As the smoke rises some wonder before too long how much of that smoke will they see lying before them….
The quiet step has successfully occupied a tertius grade medical territory that once housed several hospitals and medical storage warehouses within the colonial ruins, whilst their has been no hostile presence for them to combat the lack of food has no become and epidemic as the lack of this crucial supply takes hold. As such 150 peoples have died from starvation, this will continue at this pace as long as no new source of food is located.
Wrath of the Ancestors Edit
With the ongoing food problems beginning to catch at every tribe amongst the peoples numerous arguments have begun to spread amongst the various shamans on what path to take as their prayers become a jumbled mix as each seeks a solution to the grow crisis. A great conference is held by the shamans of the iron tree on the will of the ancestors in this time of need which lasts for several days and they chant and intone the will of the ancestors. In the end two options lay open to them though one they do not see coming as the ancestors hands make themselves known through their actions. The first is to claim a node within the green places as the other cultures have done to secure food under the oversight of the metal men, this carries its own risks as the other cultures present make look to press any weakness as they see it. The other option comes in the form of a growing cry amongst the tribes lead by an elderly women known as ‘she who sits’ to be allowed to take their warriors to the eastern borders with the brass tyrants and to raid their settlements for food so that the peoples may survive. They do not venerate the ancestors as the peoples do and are heathens that the ancestors do not look kindly upon and so should be a target. This option causes large debates as some of the shamans support it whilst others decry it over the course of several days. In the end a small group of shamans decide to travel to the green places and see the advice of those that tread its paths on this matter.
1) A delegation of shamans will be arriving in camp on the Friday evening to discuss the matter of the ‘Great raid’ with those Peoples present within the green places. This matter will need to be decided upon and report back to the shamans by Sunday morning at the latest.