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 Blood of the Earth

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ComfyMystic
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PostSubject: Blood of the Earth    Thu May 05, 2016 5:18 pm

Far north of the kingdom of Thaimia, across the vast bitter sea, stands the mountains of the island Blood Rock. The island is well known for its rich veins of iron ore that fill the mountains. The mountains have remained untouched for many year do to the distance from the mainland of Thamia, but do to the resent wars with the invading Tarvish Empire to the East, demands for the metal have driven to populate the island. Off the southern shore of the island rests heavily fortified encampment built at the center of a vast mote, reinforced into the main camp structure erect three stone towers that reaches 300 feet high, the main gate leading across the mole leads south to a  wide paved road leading south to the docks. Each encampment had a massive watch tower that span 30 floors high with 10 cells in each floor made of stone, mortar and iron bars. The bottom of each tower has a host of shanties and shacks that consistently were bellowing the smoke from the kilns that smelted the iron ore along with burning manure and garbage.
The blue of the sky was swept away as the sun set over Blood Rock to reveal an intense full moon glistening in the black sky. When night time arrived Hagan, former leader of a band of marauders, crawled from the corner of his cell floor where he slept. Iron chains five feet in length pinned him to wall parallel to the reenforced steel gate of his cell in the western watch tower on floor 27. His cell was eight by eight feet and stood 7 feet tall. The rancid order from the slums below the tower entered its way through the small barred window looking over the road to the south. The smell of iron and excrement sent Hagan’s mind the blood stained battle field of his youth. From the time he could walk he would scavenge the corpses of forgotten solders with his wayward brothers and father. In those days Hagan lacked the brute might of his five brothers and father leaving him to resort the art trickery and guile to survive. Hagan’s tactics earned him no respect amongst the merciless band of marauders, this changed as the band saw the pointless deaths of his father and brothers in series of mindless assaults upon several frontier settlements. After the death of his father, each brother set an attack even more contrived their father. Once a might horde that once struck fear in the hearts of the most elite of veterinarians became more feeble and cowardly as each brother passed leaving Hagan with nothing more than a small band of lowlifes at his command.
Hagan and his band of found new opportunity for wealth during the Tarvish empire to the East laid claim to Thamian lands. In the first year of the war the Thamians forces were decimated by the brutal cannon fire siege weapons of Tarvish engineering. Thamia had lost it’s most available source of iron in the invasion. To made up for the lost Tarvish prisoners were send to the island of Blood Rock to work it’s hellish mines. As the war persisted raiders, bandits and other low lives started to populate the island. In the midst of the devastation Hagan with his marauders followed in the path of the Tarv war machine ambushing skirmish units, persuaded stragglers and crossed blades with deserters. Their arrows did not discriminate between either flag, only the gold and supplies needed to live considered the marauders. After years of scavenging Hagan’s luck ran out when the band found itself in the path of an ambush lead my the King Fairfax himself.  Not wishing to perish Hagan and his band surrendered to the Thamian army right before the battle went underway.
The journey to the island was a long miserable affair which Hagan only a had a damp cloak to wrap himself in. The band was locked in the lower cells of ship crabbed between crates of supplies and caged animal. Hagan saw more of his band die from cold, starvation and disease, only two members remained, the jolly and rambunctious Rex and the surly veterinarian Hill, who would be as old as Hagan’s father if he were still standing. Hagan became divided from Rex and Hill as they were taken away to separate towers. Each tower had a separate work shift meaning Hagan has yet to speak with either Hill or Rex in over a year. ‘Would Rex still have that same laugh equipped with a reservoir of crass joke, would Hill still have the same relentless will to endure?’ His mind toiled with these thoughts, he feared they were just broken shells now, like the rest of the souls on the island who have survived long path their life expectancy under these savage conditions, ‘But Rex and Hill are the most savage of men!’ All that savagery could mean nothing if they have already met their demise.
Over the course of the year Hagan watched the road South leading to the harbor, every week nearly 100 carts drawn by mules carried the smelted iron to be taken back to the mainland only to come back carrying a new prisoners to replace the dead. As Hagan observed the road over the year,  he noticed more folk who stood out from the bandits and enemy soldiers. Commoners and surfs were starting to me make there way into mining pits and most shocking to Hagan was the arrival of figures adorned in the robes of nobility ‘What state must the kingdom be in to send common men to their doom,’ Hagan wondered ‘what must have these nobles done to be exiled, could this just a convenient means for the king to dispose of political enemies?’
Order on the island seemed to become more lenient as well. While men like Hagan remained locked away high up in the towers, the less savage folk were given permission to live in the shacks down bellow the towers. Folks who were incapable of surviving the labor in the mines are given side work such as tending to livestock, working in the mess hall or worked to fix structures and equipment. The job of smelting and handling the molten iron was left to only those who found themselves on the Warden Borro’s list.
The Warden Borro was a cruel, sadistic and murderously cunning shell of a man. Prisoners started believe the warden to be going soft with his new leniency but Hagan wasn’t going to let himself be fooled. Borro was desperate to keep his foothold on the new prisoners who had little to be guilty for. Borro already exhausted himself keeping order over the men who kick, spit and bite on instinct. Death by guard was the second most common means of fatality next to mining accidents. Hagan understood these new treatment of prisoners was all apart of Warden’s game of reward and punishment, he used his game to turn Tarvs into Thaimian sympathizers and some of the most unruly men into the loyal lap dogs, willing and ready to rat out the nearest prison as the slightest signs of dissent.  
As with night fall came Hagan’s shift in the mines. He would not return till the crack of dawn. Footsteps of guards began to reverberate through the stone walls of the tower. The prisoners were all unchained from their cell walls only to find themselves attached to one long link of chain the would dinf up to ten prisoners, enough for each prison on the floor. From there there were lead to the base of the tower where the guard caption took a head count. From there the chains we linked to wagon pulled by miles to force the miner on there path into the bowls of Blood Rock.
It took one hour to reach the mines on foot, arrive any later and rick the cruel games of the Warden. Tonight the ground was smooth and dry making the arch much more gentle than usually, soon Hagan’s pass began to feel more like a pleasant stroll. Noticing the easy terrain the guards spurred the mules with barbed rods forcing the prisoners into a draining march.
The party arrived sooner than usual to the base of the mountains. Soft white snow painted the caps of the mountains and a cold bone rating wind came from the gaping threshold into the guts of the mountain. The wind was spoiled with the smell of dead flesh from hundreds of forgotten miners. The prisoners envied those who had their lives take swiftly by collapsed rock and falling equipment.
Each link of prisoners were given pick aces and were lead by a guard with a mule drawn cart. They were all led in ten at a time to different section of the mines where they were needed. The air in the mine was always bitter cold, the low ceiling betrayed how endless and vast the mines actually were. The torch of the guards only illuminated up to 30 feet around them which did little to help the prisoners notice any pitfalls or slope, with one miss step a prisoner could fall in dragging the rest of the chained me with him.
Hagan found himself being lead into the same area of the mines in the day before. When one was looking he carve a seemingly random mark, he did this every time he was in the mines. The marks were from his days marauding, secret symbols used to track targets and set ambushes. He hoped that they could be used now to let Rex and Hill know that he wasn’t ready to fall into the Borro’s fold.
Hagan began with his normal routine still he could ketch a glimpse behind the stone that his his marauder’s mark. His first instinct was the shout in triumph for after years leaving behind his mark for a new one had appeared below his. Hagan had to bite his tongue to hold back his excitement, he had bitten so hard that the taste of blood began to flood his mouth and he felt a drop of water touch his face. He had thought the water had fallen from the rocks up high but it was tears falling from his eyes. The knowledge that a friend was still out there brought back sensations Hagan assumed long dead.
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