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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest 102: Pre-written Scenario - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Sep 12, 2011.

    Short Story Contest 102
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Pre-written Scenario"



    This contest is open to all wf.org members, newbies and the established alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Pre-written Scenario" (courtesy of a democratic vote). Members wishing to enter this contest must use the below paragraph to start their story. You may change the perspective of the intro, i.e. switch from first person to third, but you are otherwise expected to use it verbatim. Any interpretation is otherwise valid. Entries do not have to follow the theme explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.
    Wordlimit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Monday 26th September 2011 10.00 am (UK local)


    Scenario:

    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    There is a maximum of 25 entries to any contest. If there are more than 25 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    The next contest will be themed "Amnesia" (courtesy of member Ubrechor). Be free to prepare an entry in advance, but do not submit that entry until instructed to do so.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permissable.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.


    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    Bella 2889 words

    -------------------

    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.

    I try, on the whole, to keep my distance from people. The circus people get that. It’s like being in a submarine. You’re thrown so close together, and you’re so cut of from everything else, people give you space. They don’t pry into where you’ve come from or where you’re going.

    People say clowns are often sad behind their painted faces. Maybe. Maybe not. The joeys I’ve known have been all sorts, but we have one thing in common: we keep ourselves to ourselves. Kipper, Tall Tom and I worked long hours together, but I know no more of where they’ve come from or who they are than they do of me. We sit in clown alley and put on our faces and our oversized batts and we hold the show together one act to another. No-one could ever say we’re not with it. We’re always there pulling our weight at break-up when we have to get the big top down as soon as the last show’s all out and over. Get a rough night with a bit of wind and rain and it can be a bad job. King pole costs hundreds of thousands and you could see the gaffer give a big sigh of relief when it’s safely up or down. There’s more skill to the circus game than any of the towners would believe. We’re team players, us joeys, just as much as anyone else in the circus. But talk about anything personal? Never. I don’t even know their real names. No-one’s ever come inside my wagon and I never go inside theirs. I park up between Tall Tom and the Marcos family and they all know to let me be in peace.

    I was a welder by training, many moons ago back in Hanover, and in those days I got pretty settled. Very nearly got spliced, but then the dame went off with this other guy and I realised my mum was right. I moved around a lot after that. France. Italy. Spain. I got into the circus line when I came to the UK. They always need welders, carpenters, mechanics, painters. Always maintenance to be done, and I’m pretty handy. When I wasn’t welding I’d be doing whatever else was needed. I was a twenty-four hour man for a while, and a butcher, selling candyfloss and coke and stuff. and did any cherry pie going. Rubberman. Roustabout. Pitchman. Whatever there was, really. If you’re known as a grafter there’s always a welcome.

    “You’ll never hold down a job,” my mum used to say to me, and she was right. I’d stay somewhere a while and then move on. Or be moved on. It was the same at first on the circus shows. I didn’t stay with the same outfit for more than a season. Sometimes less than a season. Not until Barnaby’s. It was at Barnaby’s I met Kipper and it was Kipper who got me into being a joey, when old Sandy Sykes lost half his arm in a winch and they were a man down. Sandy Sykes wasn’t his real name either. It seems like no-one in the circus is ever known by their real name. Taught me everything I know, Kipper did. Started me on the simple stuff – tooting up on the old calliope – and I went from there.

    Four years I did with Barnaby’s. Eighty towns in a nine month run. The winters I spent on the Norfolk coast. There’s a guy I know there who runs a caravan park. Summer lets, not round-the-year. I park up my wagon there and I help him out with maintenance. Fixing up the caravans for the next season. It works pretty well. He’s a man of few words and that suits me.

    I’d probably still be doing Barnaby’s if it wasn’t for Kipper’s niece, Bella.

    Bella was a flyer. Had sawdust in her blood. Her dad was a juggler and a good one too. Her mum had been a flyer, a Tonellini. Bella had been in the ring since she was two. She came to Barnaby’s mid-season, even though we had a good flying act already. But Marcella had completely peeled her hands away and needed some down time. It happens. Anyway, I guess the gaffer thought another flyer might be useful. Or maybe he had some favour to repay. You never got inside the gaffer’s mind.

    First time I saw her I was sat on the steps of my wagon having my early morning brew and a roll-up. It was 7am. Beautiful summer morning. Big top all bright and beckoning in the sunshine. Dew on the grass. Slight breeze in the trees. A couple of towners in the distance walking their hounds.

    “Hey, Big Man,” she called, walking right on over to where I was sat, like she was aiming for me in particular.

    You’d think I’d have learned to be OK about being a short-arse. In the ring it was part of our act. I barely came up to Tall Tom’s armpits and it made the audience laugh. But outside the ring, being called Big Man… well it just riled me. So Bella and I didn’t exactly start well.

    I knew she was circus straight off. You can always tell circus from towner. But I didn’t know who the heck she was. She for sure hadn’t been there the night before when I turned in.

    So I just stared at her and said nothing.

    “Arabella,” she said, holding out her hand and smiling. “But most people call me Bella.

    I still said nothing. I got up, ready to go back into my wagon. I hadn’t yet shaved or had my brekker, and time was moving on.

    “I’m Kipper’s niece,” she said.

    If she’d said anyone else’s name, I’d have gone up the steps and slammed the door in her face. But I owed Kipper. And in the circus world, family is big. We had all sorts in Barnaby’s. Hungarians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Russians, Mongolians. But they all had family, and almost every circus in the world is linked to every other circus through family. Word zips around fast as light. You don’t mess with a mate’s family.

    “Pleased to meet you,” I said to her, shaking the hand she’d been holding out to me.

    From then on it seemed she was always a couple of paces away from me. I’d look up from some prop I was fixing and there she’d be. I’d come into the dukey and there she’d be, right in front of me, picking up her nosh. I tried just treating her like anyone else on the show, but something about her got to me. She was good eye candy, but then flyers always are. They have to be. But there was something else about her which drew me in. Before I knew it, people started noticing. As I said, a circus is a bit like living on a submarine.

    Kipper didn’t say much, and I didn’t say much to him.

    The story about Bella was round the show by her first night. She’d been with the Best British with her partner, Gus. The Best British still had animals. Not just horses and dogs but cats and llamas and zebras. Dying breed, that sort of circus. Gus was really nice guy, or so people said. Gentle. You have to be, to work with cats. But she’d gone and had this fling with a catcher from another act. Hungarian guy who spoke no English but looked like Cary Grant. Or so people said. There was a huge big bust up. Gus flipped. Put the Hungarian into hospital. The gaffer there was strict. They usually are. They have to be. A circus has to run like clockwork. Anyway, Gus was kicked out. There was a lot of ill feeling against Bella after that, and she ended up leaving too. As soon as she arrived at Barnaby’s, people could see she was trouble. Written all over her, from her peroxide hair and her aunt nell danglers to her scarlet toenails. What I didn’t know at the time was how much trouble she would be for me.

    I had every reason to keep my distance from Bella. And like a damned fool I ignored my own reason.

    Kipper was going to over-winter with me in Norfolk. I wasn’t completely OK about this, but he couldn’t go to his usual place, and as I said, I owed Kipper. It would give us some time to work on the act, he said. The Norfolk caravan park guy didn’t care. An extra pair of hands was always useful.

    It was late October and we were right at the end of the season. The pitches were soft from all the rain we’d had. The takings were little more than horse feed. We were all ready for the home run. It was then Kipper asked me.

    “Wolfhammer,” he said, “It’s like this. Bella needs a pitch for the winter. I was wondering – could your mate find a standing for her wagon?”

    Now that was a big ask. He must have known by then, Bella had the hots for me, and it was only the need to keep the show going as had stopped anything happening between us. I’d been looking forward to being away from her shadow.

    “You’ll never have any friends,” my mum used to say to me.

    But Kipper was a good mate. The nearest I’d ever got to a friend.

    “Sure,” I said to him.

    It was less than a week after we arrived in Norfolk when Bella got her lills on me.

    “You’ll never marry,” my mum used to say to me, and she was right. I’m as red-blooded as the next man, but ask me to get involved – feelings and stuff - and it’s a complete no-no.

    For about a week it was all full-on. Morning, noon and night. Couldn’t get enough of each other. She was as hot between the sheets as anything I’ve ever fucked. So long as we kept on bonking and kept off talking we got along fine. Looking back I feel bad about Kipper, stuck on his own in his wagon watching mine rock on its springs.

    But then Bella started to get her hooks into me, the way women do. Wanted to know what I was feeling. Wanted to know who I was. Where I’d been. Where I’d come from. She knew I wasn’t brought up circus. She wanted it all, chapter and verse.

    “I don’t do that stuff” I warned her but she took no notice.

    We were stuck there, three wagons on the edge of the east coast. Nothing but a bunch of abandoned holiday shacks and beyond them grey sky and grey sea, as far as you could see. If there wasn’t water falling on us from above there was water right across the horizon. And the wind. God did the wind get on our nerves. The locals used to say it came straight across Europe from the Urals, and it certainly felt as cold as Siberia. I was always OK there, previous years, on my own, but now as part of a threesome it was like we were marooned with each other until hell froze over. Me, Kipper and this damned bint.

    She went on and on at me, always wanting to know what I was thinking. I’d either tell her to shut the fuck up or I’d invent something to annoy her. In the end I really lost my rag. Shouted at her. Hit her. She went fast enough then, and kept right clear of me for a couple of days.

    I’ve done some bad things in my life, but I’d never struck a woman before.

    But then she was back. She either couldn’t or wouldn’t get the hint. She turned up with a bottle of booze and some nosh and made herself at home. Before I knew it her clobber was off, lallies in the air, and we were bonking the night away. As for Kipper, he just kept himself to himself. He wasn’t one to judge folks quickly.

    “That temper will get you into trouble one day,” my mum used to say. I’d had my fights, but I’d always played fair. Settling a score. Not the red mist as came down when Bella kept on needling me. She just damned well wouldn’t stop.

    She went away for Christmas. She had a gig in Birmingham and I was that glad to see her wagon tail-lights. Ordinarily I’d do nothing for Christmas. I sent my mum a card while she was still alive, but that was the extent of it. But this year Kipper got us a microwaveable turkey dinner and some Mr Kipling mince pies. It was the first and last time I saw the inside of his wagon. We went down to the beach and tried some of our new act, but the wind was too damned cold.

    Start of January and Bella was back and things went on just like they had before she left. Every couple of days I’d lose my rag and she’d slink off, but she’d always be back, and she was such a good fuck, like a fool I’d take her back. I don’t know why the damned bint was so fixated on me. It was beyond all reason. Kipper said she was bored and as soon as we were back on the road she’d move on, but I’d already decided to split from Barnaby’s on account of her.

    That was when we had our last fight. I’d told Kipper as soon as I knew, said I’d fixed up to join Zacko’s dog and pony show for the new run. Mid-afternoon she came over to my wagon even more pissed than usual and looking shite. No slap. No danglers. Eyes all red like she’d been crying.

    “Kipper’s told me,” she said.

    I knew she’d take it bad, me splitting.

    “I’m having a babby,” she said next. That took the wind out of me a bit. But there again, she’d say all sorts of things, and maybe some of them were true, but a whole lot weren’t.

    “Plenty of time to put a stop to any babby,” I said.

    I swear to God it was she who picked the knife up. I know how it looks. I know no jury’ll ever believe me, but that’s how it was. Picked up my knife which I’d left on the side and came straight at me.

    Now Bella was strong, but she was also tiny. I grabbed her wrist. There was blood everywhere - my blood - because she’d already sliced my arm, but I got hold of her arm really tightly to stop her and the next thing I knew the knife was in my hand, not hers. Even then she was talking on and on at me in the whiney way she had.

    Then all of a sudden the red mist came down. One minute she was there, keeping an arm’s length away from me, going on about this babby and how it was mine, and the next minute she wasn’t ever going to say another word.

    I didn’t have the stomach to do anything clever like disfigure the body or chop it up. I’ve never felt so bad about myself as I felt that day and every day since. I just waited until it was dark and then nicked a spade from the maintenance shed and drove the twenty miles or so to Thetford Forest. Told Kipper I was moving on early.

    I know she’ll be found. Even burying her in a shallow grave was harder than I’d imagined. So I know too, they’ll find me. Sooner or later.

    “You wait. You’ll end up behind bars, you will,” my mum used to say to me.

    Sometimes I wonder why she kept me, my mum. She seemed to hate me so much. It was just me and her. I never knew my dad. I used to dream of finding she wasn’t really my mum at all. Of my real parents coming and rescuing me. I never had love so I don’t know as I missed it, but a bit of kindness. That would have been good.

    I cleaned the wagon as best I could. Scrubbed away every speck of blood I could find, both hers and mine, but these days the fuzz have all this clever forensic stuff. I’ve seen it on Crimewatch. They can pick up your DNA from spray so fine you’d never see it with the naked eye.

    The show’s started at Zacko’s but my heart’s not in it. I’m not sure I’ll stay here long. There’s no-one in the circus world who’s going to split on me, and Bella wasn’t exactly popular. But they all know more-or-less what happened. Before Bella, people used to give me space. Now they give me a really wide berth.

    As I said, it doesn’t much matter what I do or where I go. I know what’s to come. It’s all happening exactly as my mum said it would. I’ve just heard on the News, a couple walking their dog have found the body of a young woman in Thetford Forest.

    The word is, Ringo’s is looking for a new joey act to take to the US. Might just give that a try. If there’s time.
     
  3. AxleMAshcraft
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    AxleMAshcraft Member

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    Because Lies are Dangerous [approx. 949]
    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.
    I was sixteen when she had called me over. Had looked me in the eyes, looked in the eyes of a budding teen and told me things that I would never be able to forget. My intoxication with the circus arose then. There wasn’t even a spark before she had told me these things.
    “Son.” She muttered under her breath, the skin of her sagging neck moving with every word she spoke. Old blankets covered her old body when roughly weighed down a rocking chair on the back of one of the carefully colored circus wagons. “Gerhard.” She repeated, picking my name out of what seemed like thin air. “What do you want with your life?”
    I stood blank for a moment. What was there to say to something like this? What could I possibly say that would sum up the entirety of what I wanted my life to be in but a few sentences? I knew it was wrong, that this wasn’t the answer I should be responding to her, but my youth caught hold of me and took the adult words away: “Success. Love.” I paused. “But mostly love.”
    I sensed her looking at the straight brown hair that cascaded over my face. At the freckles that covered my flesh. At the brown of my eyes, so average, so normal. I sensed her glancing past me, at a group of other teens that I was supposed to be with. They stared in shock, unable to cope with that fact that I was indeed talking to this woman who had beckoned me up to her.
    “The red-head, in the back. With the black skirt. Yes?” She said, carefully scanning the group.
    The one she spoke of was Helene. She knew my secrets, we talked for hours and at one point, we had kissed. But the moment was lost. Because she was leaving soon and unlike her, I would be stuck here forever. In the no-man’s land I called home. Where German hills rolled on for miles with nothing to obstruct the horribly boring view. Helene was leaving…the rationality was more than I could dare to rationalize.
    “A good friend…” I trailed off, looking at the woman again. Her wrinkles reached up, creating what some might mistake as a smile across her face.
    “She will be your life.” I smiled, the prospect of this wasn’t something I horribly dreaded. I liked her. “But not in the way you think.” She continued, her voice growing lower. “You will follow her, but not as a husband and hardly as a friend. You will be her protector. Because what could happen to her in the real world, outside of this quaint village, is enough to kill her.” My mouth when dry. “But you’ll be with her forever. Your graves will sit next to each other, the date bore on the front will be the same. Down to the very last of moments.”

    “Helene!” I screeched, racing down the hard packed dirt of which they called a road. The lights and sounds of the circus in the background rattled in my head like a nightmare, like a taunt. Everything was supposed to be better here. Everything was supposed to be better than that little village but in this moment, there is nothing that I could want more. Nothing that sounded more appealing that that little village full of people with open doors and no secrets.
    But Helene had secrets, she had a dark side. Everyone does, but hers was violent and reached out of the depths behind her beautiful little eyes and hauled down her soul.
    “Helene!” I said again, watching the wind whip past her, fanning out her hair behind her back, closing her eyes and making her face melt to one of calmness. Her toes inched more over the edge, the rushing water under the bridge loud and black in the night.
    Her eyes opened, she looked toward me, her mouth falling open but a little bit. I felt like I almost heard her call, “No.” But I couldn’t be certain.
    I was still running, yet nothing I could do could propel me forth fast enough. I was breathless, my chest raging against me. I reached for her arms but she was already falling downward. The cold black water seemed to jump up toward her, welcoming her with icy cold, welcoming arms.
    My breathing almost stopped, the wind taking it away, the expression in her eyes haunting as I leapt to where she was standing but moments before.
    The rocked slipped from under my foot. The world tilted violently. My times flashed before me, the voice of the elderly woman ringing in my ears as loud as the carnival music behind me. The air rushed past, the water rushed up. My eyes closed, my lungs released all their air. My mouth filled with cold water.
    “You will find that what you thought you loved this very summer is a creature that you will never know. You are like a wolf, protecting it’s child from the cold world, but nothing you do can ever protect this child from itself.” She had taken another breath, the pause wearing on. “Your confusion is understandable, but in time, you will understand something other than confusion. You will understand the dangers that lurk in your own soul. The temptation…”
     
  4. LucifersAngel
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    LucifersAngel Member

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    Lineage- 787

    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.

    Of course looking back, it hardly seemed important at all. How I miss those carefree days, when my youthful arrogance draped over me like a protective blanket.
    Her name was Seid. A rather peculiar woman, whom the townsfolk refered to as a "schwarze Hexe" or black witch.
    Whether that was due to her title as "foreigner" or that she secluded herself despite being a sprightly 30 year old I shall never know.
    But, oh how I remember her. I can still picture her, an ebony porcelain face, framed with fiery red curls and hue colored lips. And her eyes. How they pierced you. Those lovely hazel eyes.

    "Wolfhammer," cried a hoarse voice, dragging me from my reverie. "You're next."

    I nodded, giving a faint smile, as the fat ringleader strode past me.

    It had been years since I had given a performance, suddenly my nerves rose up and threatened to strangle me.

    Brushing it to one side, I allowed my facade to take hold of my face, and marched onto the stage.
    The cheers and yells filled my ears, crashing over me like a wave. Some in English, some in French and some in my native German tongue.
    I felt like an imposter, as usual. A blonde wig, cascading over my make-up caked face, replaced my usual carpet of black hair. My hulking muscles bulged out of the leather trimmed vest, and sitting upon my head were two large horns.

    As I took my position, yelling in my made up language, my attention turned to the crowd for the first time. And then, as if by fate, or ordered by the Gods themselves, I saw her. Sitting there. Elegantly sipping on a tea cup, her eyes screaming in disappointment. How she, again, turned me into an awkward teenager after 30 years is beyond me.
    Her gaze cut through me like a knife through melted butter.

    After what seemed like the longest thirty minutes of my life, I rushed to meet her in my hotel room.

    Sure enough, there she was. Lounging on my bed, still as regal as ever. Oh how the years had been kind to her. Her fiery curls had only the slightest tinge of silver, her lips still as glossy as ever, and her skin. Not a wrinkle had dared to touch her.

    "Warhammer," she said, not even glancing away from her tea. "What an, er- interesting performance you gave."
    The word "interesting" stained her tongue, and it had the thickest coating of bitterness I had ever heard.

    My knees trembled, and threatened to send me plunging to the floor. Instead I gave her my best glare.

    "Your Majesty," I said, matching her bitterness with my own. "With all due respect,"

    "Silence" she screamed. The sheer ferocity of her deliverance stunned me into obedience, and my knees gave way.

    Without realizing it, my head was bowed, my eyes reaching her shoes. I willed myself to stand up, by my body refused to obey.

    "You think you can just turn your back on your destiny," she screeched. "Do not think you are above the Gods, boy. They dictate your life, not you."

    My mouth filled with ash, and my tongue was leaden. Choking on the next words I said, "I am not who you think I am."

    Her fury subsided, for a fleeting moment, and for a second I saw pride flash across her eyes. Of course given the lighting, I cannot be sure.

    She returned to her speech, fury tinged her voice.

    "How dare you. You insolent little worm. I should have killed you when I had the chance." She tented her fingers, long black nails climbed out to greet each other.

    I dare not respond. I could feel her gaze upon me. Defeat choked me into silence. 30 years I had run away from this. And no matter where I hid, or who I became, I could not escape it. In the corner of my eye I saw the corner of her mouth twitch. She could sense her victory, and she had finally achieved her goal.

    "So you are not as stupid as I thought, boy?" she asked.

    With my head drooped down, I nodded.

    "Good." She gracefully strolled toward me, her eyes blazing in triumph. "Well, Warhammer, son of Thor. Are you ready to fullfil your destiny? Are you ready to choose your side?"
     
  5. Berber
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    Berber Active Member

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    Lonely Goodbye - 797


    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.

    And that’s why I’m writing this. But even still, the words are hard to draw like a shriveled vein beneath the pallor of death. But I’ve sought a tangent, haven’t I? From the billowy truth that I never allowed you during our moment of perfection. I haven’t forgotten.

    But, yes. Germany. My childhood home foreign to the charming Antoine Jennings you shared your bed with so many breaths ago. Gerhard the problem child. Gerhard the silent. Gerhard, I hardly knew ye. If it is true that a woman can be born of the wrong sex, is it not also true that a child could be born of the wrong nationality? I wager so.

    Germany was a brief existence. Unremarkable, and yet I remark upon it with earnest. Do you remember me? I changed my name to Gerald when I arrived upon the shore. I didn’t need proof, they simply asked for a name. It wasn’t my most creative moment, dear love. You would’ve laughed at the stuttering young lad groping for security. I was the permanent type then, stuck to emotional attachments like the pup chained to that lovely oak, you know the one of which I speak.

    You asked me - you remember? You asked me to tell you this. I only wish it had come from my mouth and not this tired hand.

    I squandered my youth between cheap brothels and meager pay checks – I was a truly colored character, intrinsically self effacing. Well blended, as it were, or perhaps merely insignificant, I forget which. On the whole, I managed to keep a clean nose, or at least blow it in private. But there are some people you simply cannot skirt around, my sweet. Please remember this part, it is important. Her name is trivial (I dare not pluck at the chord of jealousy too eagerly). What matters is the small monetary donation she made in my name several years ago. She did not, however, see the act as charitable as I did. An investment, she coined it. In me? Absurd.

    How have you been? Do you miss our lingering warmth? You asked me. I distinctly remember the conversation between the heat of a candle and an elegant cut of meat.

    Our encounter was a meeting of chance (pardon me, I know you put little stock in the notion). But you and I, alas we are the product of fate. I would swear by it, my love. You were the only. This is the truth, not an excuse. I would swear by it! Antoine Jennings was born on a highway in a musty old cab leaving Dodge. Yours was the fifth township under which shade I sought refuge. A refugee! How fitting. You remember my candid nature?

    I fled your side for fear, understand I could not linger lest I leave a stench to stain your beautiful satin. She would not be kind to you, my love. It is why superheroes do not fall victim to romance. She is on my trail. You remember the way I kissed your lips?

    A horde of men are after me, my sweet. It was but a small monetary donation, nothing more. I am a humble man, I would swear it. But to the vengeful woman, I am beyond redemption. She said as much. A chase, the end is assured. Do you remember my laugh? You said it was charming, rich. You do recall? Alas, Antoine died in your arms. And out of that pale, clammy body, Wolfhammer was raised up. (Please do not laugh. You would not laugh if you only knew.)

    I have taken shelter with a traveling circus. Did I really run away to join the circus? How foolish sounding. The truth is laughing in my face, please do not join in. I only ventured to stay til Tulsa, but the better part of a month has passed and I’ve come to terms with my premature demise. I only wish to return for one more night. Do you desire my return? I feel the call of your covers, a beckoning silhouette in the moonlight (how trite, how cliché, do you see me in the stars?).

    You asked. I recall the words. “Who are you?” I am a humble man, I would swear by it. She is coming to pick my empty pockets; the crows will pick my empty bones. Gerhard. I am your dear Gerhard. You remember… Don’t you?
     
  6. blahblahchoi
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    blahblahchoi New Member

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    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would and I have accepted my fate.

    I used to wander the country side and hunt local farm animals for subsistence. I used to, and I still do. I'm an occasional drifter that resides at a circus run by a band of Gypsies. They allow me to stay whenever I bring back chicken or lamb. I'm a werewolf, of Norse-Germanic descent. I found the odd coincidence of being called, Wolfhammer, comical but unnerving. I'm not sure if this older gypsy knows of my true nature. It was her that coined the name, and it was the camp that applauded my arrival.
    ******************************************************
    I remember, a few years ago... I went by the name, Gerhard. I was living in Germany at the time. It was a cold winter. The beers would freeze over and the ladies bundled up warmly - nothing to drink and nothing to look at. I was miserable. I happened to catch this giggling blonde duck into an alley. She paused before jetting in between two bricked expanses. I was huddled under my collar and happened to walk past this coercing STD. When it's this cold, a shivering loin welcomes any warm body. I gave pursuit. She beckoned from the end of the alleyway. The frosted streets crunched under my shoes, moonlight scurried away from the creeping shadows, and there she stood...

    A freezing red door clattered shut, and I followed through. The building was hollow, large and echoed. I saw her dance along the walls, popping in and out of the full moon hanging high and peering through the windows. She seemed different as I trailed her... slowly... A creeping hesitation grew heavy in my mind. I wasn't following her anymore. At that point, I was lingering with suspicion. The noise she made... the sight of her in the shadows... I should have never went after her.
    ***********************************************************************************
    So, I stand here, a part-time showie for a hustling band of vagabonds running a fake circus. The pandas from China are clearly dyed Chow-Chows. A contortionist who just bends her fingers? I've seen more impressive acts at chili cook-offs. But then there's the beautiful, Leona. Ah, her beauty is Heaven reflected eternal. I stare deep into a visage and see the face of the galaxy echoing stars. I try to talk to her, but they have her locked in a cage. She sits saddened, on a stool and never makes eye-contact with anyone. They slide her food and water. She sometimes eats and drinks. I've fallen for the caged blonde. She's why I stay around.

    ********************************************************************
    I woke up in a crazy sweat and with the driest mouth. My mind throbbed with images unknown and memories so vague. The sun hung high, and my body ached all over. It was a type of body soreness I have never felt. I could barely walk. I stumbled and tried hard to swallow any bit of spit. A stream trickled nearby. I walked towards it. I saw a hut. It had a cephalopod - a German fortune teller. She stepped out and found me staggering. After nursing me to health we converse. She reads my palm. After helping me in, she feared the energies she felt while holding me. I told her I had no memories. She tells me that I shouldn't remember.
    "You will venture far, but find nothing," she tells me.
    "Where do you see me going?"
    "Your adventure is yours, and not for me to see. I do see you meeting strangers... they will help... they welcome... you bring gifts... they eat."
    "Gifts? What kind?"
    "The coincidental kind."
    "Puzzling."
    "There's more," she says. "You fall in love. You see her. But two beasts... they interfere. You two don't live happy, but you live together."
    "Like a divorce?"
    "You don't take these readings seriously, do you?"
    "This is all a bit random. A hut? Near the same spot where I stand naked and confused? Then you have answers? I mean, come on..."
    *************************************************************************
    I watch her. Her back rises with tired breaths. I'm freeing her. Tonight's the night that I run up and break her out of -

    "Wolfhammer!"

    A gypsy named, Algorithm, pounces up from behind me. He startles me.

    "Algorithm. My friend. What brings you about this evening?"
    "Not much. I was just going to you know... to the girl in the cage. She doesn't mind. I few quick shakes and I'm usually done."
    "You really do that every night? Really, Algorithm?"

    Algorithm hangs his head in shame.

    "I get lonely," he says.
    "No excuse, sir. I... I don't think you should do that tonight."

    The perverted gypsy bobs his head, never really looking up. His hesitation implies a quick debate on the morality of his actions. I think I just saved the caged blonde from a night of humiliation. Algorithm just shuffles away while mumbling about his missed out perversions and I don't have to return to save her while avoiding what she would have just experienced during any part of the dialogue during her rescue.

    The clouds hang heavy and thick. I use it to stealth my approach. My hands wrap around the thick steel of the sturdy locks. The jingling makes her move her head. She moves it towards me. I pause.

    "Hi," my voice quivers. "I'm here to save you."

    She resets her head to her normal sulking. I understand her reaction. I had no clue how to remove the locks. The snapping branches littered on the forest ground missed my senses and I realize that I'm surrounded by angry gypsies.

    "Wolfhammer," the elder gypsy Ron speaks. "What the fuck are you doing?"
    "I... I dropped my keys in there? She won't return 'em."
    "You miserable prick. Do you really think we don't know about you? Don't allow you to be here?"
    "What?"

    His eyes stare strongly into mine.

    "We know about you and full moons. We know about you... werewolf."

    The men tense up and I hear the sounds of tightening chains and waiving torches.

    "We let you stay here because of her."

    I look at her. She stays in her normal sulk.

    "She is a werewolf too. Haha! Did you know that? Is that why you try to free her?"

    My eyes widen. I look at her. She seems familiar now.

    "We keep you here because our circus is measly. We have nothing. The bearded lady is really a girlish man. But, with you two? We can have a family of werewolves. We travel everywhere! People pay and we make monies."

    I watch the clouds shift. I see the peak of white.

    "You say you know I'm a werewolf?" I ask.

    He huffs his affirmation.

    "You say you know so much?"

    He smiles and flicks his suspenders proudly.

    "Then, how come you didn't know tonight was a full moon?"

    The clouds move and the moon hangs bright. I jerk my head to see her. She breaths heavy and pulses. I scream as my body contorts. The flesh spreads wide and rips the threads on my shirt. My bones crack and grow. They push violently against my skin, and jerk into positions unfamiliar to normal human beings. Her chains rattle as her body grows and the opened sores from the ever-shackled cuffs bleed around the steel and mutate. The hairs grow fast and push through the skin, blood mixes with the pain. It all changes in a matter of seconds. The fear grew and spread quickly. I glance down at the lock. I clench my paws around and yank it off. I enter the cage. It shifts with my weight. I break her shackles. She's free. We're free. They all die. Two lovers, torn apart by two beasts.
     
  7. nibris
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    nibris Member

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    Valhalla Be Mine [1625 words]

    I'm what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.

    Gerhard, a hideous name. My name was Brynjar, a proud name for a Norwegian; a name that boasts of strength and unconquerable warrior spirit. No one would recognize me by that name, however. All who knew me by that title are dead. And when I entered German territory, the Germans stripped me of that identity and my heritage as a son of Odin, spitting in the faces of all the gods of Asgard. They desecrated my honor, and for allowing them to humiliate me and shame the gods with my weakness I am no longer worthy of the name.

    Dear Odin above, what happened to my brothers in the south? When I made my way to their lands, I would never have imagined they abandoned you in favor of another god, this 'Christ Jesus' as they call him. These dissenters, rather than greeting me as their brother in Balder, intercepted me as an enemy and commanded me to turn away from you and accept the name of Christ Jesus under threat of death. Had it not been for my broken and bleeding body so void of strength after the journey, I would have defended your honor to the death. I declared that I will forever be a soldier of our father god, his brothers and sons, but these new Germans scoffed at my devotion to the mighty name of Odin. They bound me in my weakened state and poured their polluted water on me, christening me with the disgusting new title, Gerhard. Father Odin, truly the Germans have failed you. They are no longer yours, they have become a different people entirely.

    Odin, Thor, my leader Tyr, forgive me for shaming our lands. And Loki, never rest easy, for I swear upon mother Frigg that you will suffer for your actions against me.

    Revenge was my mantra. Or at least it had been. People had been known to outwit the fates, but my life had followed suit, exactly as the valkyrie had foretold:

    ...For the death of his servant, Aina, Loki has sworn death and fury upon the followers of father Odin; and he shall deliver. Those who stand in his way will suffer even as Loki has suffered. All who fight against him will fall, weapon in hand and rot in defeat...

    Since that prophesy, followers of Loki started war with those of Odin to avenge Aina. I was one of the only survivors of my village, which forced me to this land of purgatory to seek help.

    I stopped reminiscing. Bloodlust was building inside me, which I knew was useless to permit. There was nothing I could do, for the men of Loki were back in my homeland. All I could do was wait until my body was well enough to return and make battle. So there I sat, in the center of the filthy circus tent. Try as I might, I couldn't help ruminating about the horror my life had been since the destruction of my home in Norway. I repeated my mantra of vengeance over and over in my mind, willing myself to gather the strength necessary to leave this land of 'Christians'. My body seemed unwilling to cooperate though, and each time my body seemed well again, an old wound of the blade would reopen and infection would set in or some other such ailment would strike me.

    ...Those who stand in his way will suffer even as Loki has suffered...

    A man entered the tent, addressing me.

    "Wolfhammer, ready?"

    I nodded.

    "Good, because you're up." When Anders saw I had no response to offer, he left.

    I walked out of my personal area and to the enormous main attraction tent. It was an immense structure, probably twenty meters in height and five times that in diameter. It was already cold out. No snow was on the ground, but the frozen ground crunched with each step I took, my breath poured from my mouth like smoke from my burning village.

    ...All who fight against him will fall, weapon in hand and rot in defeat...

    I made my way to the center ring and saw the vast crowd. I'd heard there were over a thousand in attendance that night. All those in the audience were bundled up; I had the option of clothing myself in the warm bear furs I had made in years past, but I would rather freeze in wearing only the skin in which Vili and Ve created me than allow them to make a mockery of my heritage. They already ridicule my allegiance to the gods, but that is nothing I can choose to wear or discard, so I have no choice but to endure the insults. I stood on the stage and saw the large crowd stare back at me as Andres introduced the next act.

    There was no applause. There never was. The notion that people went to the circus for fun and amusement is a gross misconception. People go to gawk at misery and fill their lust for the bizarre and violent. That's why there were so many deformed people in the shows, they were a pleasure to the senses of horror and disgust. And tonight, there were so many people in attendance, simply staring in morbid fascination, not smiling, not laughing, simply absorbing the hideousness before them.

    "Ladies, gentlemen, I show you a particularly dangerous freak," Anders began in his most ominous voice.

    Now the audience straightened up, aroused by this allegation of danger.

    "His name is Wolfhammer, a name given to him by his gods for breaking a wolf's skeleton with his bare hands,"

    The audience became interested and a low murmur spread throughout the crowd.

    Anders' story was half true, half fabrication, and disgustingly understated. It was true; I had taken the life of a wolf with my bear hands. It was not true that the gods bestowed upon me the name Wolfhammer as a result. The circus freaks gave me that name when they saw me crush the skeleton of a rabid wolf that had already killed a number of the circus performers.

    We had finished a performance and were traveling to another town for our next. It was a long journey and we stopped on the road three nights in a row before we finally arrived. The first night, all was well. The second night, we awoke to find one of the dwarfs in the company with his middle ripped open and his innards spread all throughout the camp. The third night, we took turns keeping watch. My watch had ended and Vinni had taken over. He was a member of the acrobat troupe. Fortunately for him, sleep evaded me that night, so when his pathetic whimpers escaped his body, I heard them carried on the wind. I found him on the ground with the wolf burrowing away at the meaty part of his stomach. With no weapon at my disposal, I called upon the strength of Fenrir and challenged the wolf weaponless, to fight him as two beasts in the wilderness are intended to fight. He opened up many gashes with his razor teeth and claws; blood flowed from me freely and in several instances unconsciousness almost stole over me. I was weakened, and from the ground where I lay I wrapped my limbs around the beast. I gripped his throat with one arm, forced pressure into his back with the other and used my legs to envelope his middle. Using the force of my body to twist and warp his out of sync, I wrestled with him until a succession of sharp cracks indicated his bones were broken.

    That was how I got the name.

    I blinked and returned to the humiliation of the present.

    "Watch the freakish strength of this man called of his gods!" Anders motioned for tonight's animal to be dragged out. Hoenheim dragged a muzzled deer onto the stage with me. As so many nights before, I knew I was expected to break the animal's bones just as I had crushed the wolf's. But then I saw something--someone there in the audience. It was unmistakable; a Dane. The very one who had initiated the war on my people. Surely if he was here, then I was among the last of Odin's people and he'd come to hunt me down.

    ...Loki has sworn death and fury upon the followers of father Odin...

    He'd come to take my life, but first would watch my humiliation.

    ...all who fight against him will fall, weapon in hand...

    ...will fall, weapon in hand...

    ...weapon in hand...

    A smile spread across my face. Everything was happening just as she said it would; surely today was the day I would die. But my honor would be restored. I didn't grab the deer that night. I grabbed Anders. I wrapped my arms around his torso as I did the wolf, entwined a leg around one of his and pulled his limbs apart. Hideous, sharp cracks echoed through the frozen air and the crowd screamed in horror and Anders' own anguished gargling intermixed. I grabbed the dagger I knew him to keep sheathed under the back of his shirt and with a cry of Odin's name invited the Danes to make battle; tonight was to be a bloody affair.

    Odin, today your son Brynjar returns. I make battle in your name, and when I die, Valhalla be mine!
     
  8. rabbit35
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    rabbit35 New Member

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    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.
    “You are the chosen, the usurper of kings, the righteous that will light the way for all. But they are afraid and it will not be easy. They will try to find you and bend you to their will, their ways. None that you touch will be spared from their clutches. It is your cross to bear. Only through the suffering will you, and the world, have it’s glory.”
    “If I speak too hurriedly, forgive me. I know my time is near, but you need to hear these words so that you may fulfill your destiny for us all. The meaning of these things will become clear to you in time, you need only know your shirpas for the journey; the clown thief and the exiled knight. Watch for them, keep your vigil constant. Your gravest enemies are distraction and doubt, only they have hope of stopping you.”
    “Grossmutter Feierabend, es ist Zeit zu gehen.” the man says this softly as he softly picks up the old fragile woman. He turns her around and walks away, looking back to say “She is losing her grip with things Gerhard, her mind and her will, all at once. I do not know how much longer she will have until the rantings are all that remain. I’m sorry.”
    That was a little more than a year ago. A week later she was gone, leaving nothing behind but funeral expenses, her mysterious ravings, and one interesting heirloom.
    She had left me a pocket watch, handed down from her grandfather who had received it in exchange for some warlock-like exchange with a nobleman, apparently removing some demon from his soul and curing what was likely his cancer. The watch did not work itself, the hands were loose as if it were a compass. In the early days, I never paid any heed to it but I did carry it with me. I had the feeling of being lost, wondering if I was destined to a similar fate as my grandmother as her stories began to occupy more and more of my attention. The watch had a mystical quality but its weight and texture were solid and real. I believe without it, I would have fully drifted into some fantasy world, but even with it I was walking through life only half present.
    Until the day the watch started to burn.
    I remember it clearly, it was a Sunday morning and I was walking down Keilhauser street to get a Brinker Mohnschmetterling when I passed a short overweight man who was loked to be very inebriated. His stumbling was hard to miss and others on the crowded street did their best to stay out of his path. Not everyone was fortunate in this regard. He almost toppled two separate people in the time I watched him, both times toeing the thin line between annoying and offensive. Anything more deliberate and I’m certain fists would fly. He was very apologetic, always seeking to start a conversation with his chance encounters, which likely hastened the pace with which they left him. He was going to leave my field of vision when my pocket watch began to burn. I pulled it out immediately. Both the minute and the hour hands immediately pointed in the direction of my fleeing drunkard.
    The clown thief.
    All thoughts of where I was going left my mind as I began to walk in his direction. He had ducked around a corner and soon I was jogging. Amazingly, the man started to pick up his pace as well, ever so subtly, but I was gaining on him.
    “Excuse me Herr.” I called out. He either did not hear or completely ignored me for he ducked into an alley. I was close now, maybe twenty strides and I picked up my pace when I came to the alley. I walked a few more steps, scanning for signs of life, when I was grabbed suddenly and thrust to inside the door of what was likely an abandoned building.
    “Explain.” There was a knife at my throat and the stumblebum man of a minute ago was replaced by a frazzled, enraged looking figure with surprising strength. I reached for my watch but the knife pushed deeper, drawing a tiny stream of red.
    “Clown thief…” I whispered, the thought escaping my lips before they could seal it tight within the confines of my mind.
    “Yes, that is who I am at times. Who sent you looking for me?“
    “No one, I was given your description by an oracle of sorts.”
    A swift blow to my liver keeled me over while the man quickly searched me for weapons, removing the watch from my jacket pocket.
    “Where did you get this?” He asked, suddenly nervous and glancing around frantically. I tried to explain but he grabbed my arm and pulled me alongside him as he walked with a furious gate.
    I started to explain but he interrupted “I don’t want to know. The less I know, the better we both are. Are you being followed?”
    “No?”
    “We have to hurry, it’s not safe to explain here, we need to go.”
    I could barely keep pace with him, I stumbled twice but he did not release his grip on me. We were turning furiously through alleyways, I was dumbfounded and disoriented. I looked to the main street to get my bearings when I felt a sharp pain in my head accompanying a dull thump sound.

    When I awoke I was in what looked to be an inn of sorts, with crude brick walls, a bed and scant other furnishings. I was with three other people, one now taking a keen interest in me while the other two argued.
    “…We haven’t seen or heard from him in years. Anyone who goes looking for him is never heard from again. What makes you think this will be any different?”
    The clown thief looked grave, “It’s our only hope to ever stop this running, I’d rather go to my grave fighting for freedom than running the rest of my days”.
    “He’s awake.”
    It’s amusing that what transpires next is more like a dream than anything that had happened in my life to that time. The three strangers feed me, give me drink and lead immediately into their story. They are revolutionaries of sorts, with dreams of creating society where serfs could stand alongside nobles if they only chose to do so stake their claim and work for it. They envision themselves as the facilitators of this new age, obtaining capital, lending to the lowest levels of society and building the structures to let people set their goals, measure their progress, all the while holding them accountable for results. In the early days, capital was obtained by legitimate means, by offering nobles a favorable rate of return and over delivering on results. However, not all in the noble ranks were favorable to the idea of serfs exhibiting that much control over their circumstance, assuming that it would inevitably lead to land ownership and a challenge to the noble right. It was a matter of time before those allied micro creditors were systemically hunted down by politicians seeking favor with the rich in their territories. Being a small group, the hunting was difficult and torture was often applied to get information, torture not witnessed in Europe since the Spanish inquisition. The clown thief himself shared a story of being placed into an Iron Maiden, where he narrowly escaped certain death with a clever combination of misinformation and connections with a few of the guards.
    The core members of the group formed a type of gypsy circus to facilitate their travel and ability to communication and negotiate with commoners. They had key members as well running the venues, responsible for spreading word and getting the right kind of audience. Fortunately, the venues did not need to be very elaborate and more often than not operations could be stopped at a moments notice if anything suspicious would occur. Serf’s who were given financing were in danger to a lesser extent, but were normally loyal and through that built a superior intelligence network so the movement could usually stay at least one step ahead or its persecutors.
    Each member learned a trade not only to keep the guise of the circus legitimate but also to enhance the ability to get funding. Pick pocketing, burglary and confidence schemes were used regularly and with great profit, giving a plentiful source of capital for the banking network to use.
    The clown thief explained that the original leadership to the organization came from powerful nobles who grew disgusted at seeing many of their peers suckling off the labors of others without using their power and resources to any cause with the exception of their own well being. In particular, a key advisor to a parallel movement focused on declaring Germany a law giving parliament, would canvas schools and cafes to recruit members where he would impart upon them in the principles of lending to create a wealthy and independent society. Each of the core members of the circus had been personally tutored by this man years ago. Each had been influenced enough that they had left their comfortable, in come cases luxurious, lives behind in pursuit of this ideal. In the early days of being hunted it became obvious this man, known only as the Knight, would be the prime target whose capture would uproot the entire operation. As such, he fled Germany to parts unknown to anyone. This wandering troupe believed him to be in Austria, communicating via letters distributed through a sophisticated network with enough misinformation a true source was essentially untraceable.
    The group explained that there was one aspect of the Knight’s teachings that initially hurt his credibility of his message but later actually enhanced the legend nature of his cause. He would preach of the day when the chosen one would come and wield influence tenfold that of what the knight was able to accomplish. This man would seek out the group, guided buy a mystical artifact of days past. Although he would have no background in their ways, he would be able to articulate the vision such a way that all could rally behind him, and that the fears of those in power could be allayed. Apparently this artifact was described in more detail, down the flower engraved in the outer casing.
    “And I am the chosen one?”
    I’ve asked this question daily since waking up at the inn. I had since relinquished to the cause, partially because of my sympathy towards it but mostly because my meaningless existence to date. Over the next months I was given thorough instruction in micro financing philosophy, in lending practice, business model evaluation, reading people and intent and also in juggling.
    None of these was without consequence, particularly the juggling which lost me a toe during a knife toss and resulted in severe burns on my left leg. I had earned the name wolfhammer when I happened to drop one on the foot a particularly offensive general at a pub we were performing at. I paid the price for my innocent slip with my little finger which was then fed to his pet wolf. The trading was no less dangerous. In attempting to complete a deal of 50 taler to a farmer to procure a mule jenny, I was almost captured by a spy. As fortune would have it, a handshake with a hand that gave away an administrative position versus that of a farm hand and my throwing knives opened a path of escape. This type of situation was not uncommon in the months that followed.

    The gypsy circus was bent on going to Austria to seek out the Knight with me in toe. We got as far as Rosenheim before a smaller contingent of me and my original three captors left the group to hunt the knight in Austria.
    The four of us managed to make due as street performers, limiting our lending at this stage to the minimum amount that would keep our skills sharp and keep our wits about us. We had searched city after city, asking about the Knight only through written message delivered with at least two layers of messengers, seldom resulting in any fruitful leads. First Salzburg, then Grodig, our travels eventually led us to Werfen, which seemed fruitful at the time.
    We were at a pub after a small performance in the city streets. Money was seldom an issue for us, and we were debating whether or not we would be safe enough to indulge a night at the inn versus camping on the city outskirts overnight. We were approached by a burly looking man with poor hygiene who enthusiastically patted me on the back as he pulled up a chair to join us.
    “Friends, a splendid performance tonight. I have not seen entertainment like this since the festival of bards years ago.” We knew this to be a lie, as we had purposefully toned down our performances to be as forgettable as possible. “I’m a poor farmer with dreams of becoming a brewmaster, and I understand you may be of the ilk to help me.” We knew this to be suspicious as well, as requests for help were never made directly to protect both parties. I put my hands to my throwing knives and glanced around the room. To my dismay, there were at least seven men who seemed to have more than a passing interest on what was transpiring at our table. “If I could invite you to come with me, to at least discuss what types of facilities I might be able to requisition, I would gladly find you some space in a barn, free from animals.”
    We all know the graveness of the invitation. The only thought passing through our minds was whether our opportunity for a successful escape was better now or following this man to his destination. The clown thief had made our minds for us as he plunged a dagger trough the man’s hand into the table while hoisting a pitcher to the other side of the room to four of our onlookers. I took out my throwing knives and targeted the legs of two men located at the opposite side of the room. We all scrambled quickly for the window, bursting through the glass, hoping the violence had bought us at least a few seconds lead. Little did we know there were others outside waiting for our arrival.
    All thought of struggle left our minds. A man on horse instructed us to take to our knees, to which we obliged. Our original visitor had pried his hand free of the table and said something to the man of horseback, pointing to me. We were all blindfolded and knocked unconscious.

    I have been sitting in this dungeon for the past three days. The only familiar sounds are the screams of my friends, who I can only assume are being tortured in adjacent cells. After the second day, these sounds came to an end, and I can only expect the worst for them.
    A masked man comes into my cell and ties my hands behind my back. He escorts me by knifepoint through several corridors, all poorly lit and unrecognizable. He stops at a large set of double doors which he kicks open, revealing a large room filled with twenty or so well dressed men, and another twenty guards. In the middle of the room are several tools of torture being tended to by a small man with a thin moustache. The muttering in the room increases as I walk in, and I glance around, confident in what is going to happen next.
    I spot a man who looks out of place, an old man who looks gravely serious, and who holds a circular amulet at the end of a gold chain. As the amulet spins around, I realize that it is actually a watch, and it’s hands are pointing directly at me.
    I smile, knowing that the next stage of my journey has begun, looking forward to having my spirit forged by the tools of these men as the Knight looks on.
     
  9. rabbit35
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    rabbit35 New Member

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    I’m what they call a drifter, but this wasn’t always the case. Now they call me Wolfhammer, and I loosely call the circus home. For what it’s worth, back in Germany, I used to be called Gerhard. I bide my time because I know what is to come. It’s all happening exactly as she said it would.
    “You are the chosen, the usurper of kings, the righteous that will light the way for all. But they are afraid and it will not be easy. They will try to find you and bend you to their will, their ways. None that you touch will be spared from their clutches. It is your cross to bear. Only through the suffering will you, and the world, have it’s glory.”
    “If I speak too hurriedly, forgive me. I know my time is near, but you need to hear these words so that you may fulfill your destiny for us all. The meaning of these things will become clear to you in time, you need only know your shirpas for the journey; the clown thief and the exiled knight. Watch for them, keep your vigil constant. Your gravest enemies are distraction and doubt, only they have hope of stopping you.”
    “Grossmutter Feierabend, es ist Zeit zu gehen.” the man says this softly as he softly picks up the old fragile woman. He turns her around and walks away, looking back to say “She is losing her grip with things Gerhard, her mind and her will, all at once. I do not know how much longer she will have until the rantings are all that remain. I’m sorry.”
    That was a little more than a year ago. A week later she was gone, leaving nothing behind but funeral expenses, her mysterious ravings, and one interesting heirloom.
    She had left me a pocket watch, handed down from her grandfather who had received it in exchange for some warlock-like exchange with a nobleman, apparently removing some demon from his soul and curing what was likely his cancer. The watch did not work itself, the hands were loose as if it were a compass. In the early days, I never paid any heed to it but I did carry it with me. I had the feeling of being lost, wondering if I was destined to a similar fate as my grandmother as her stories began to occupy more and more of my attention. The watch had a mystical quality but its weight and texture were solid and real. I believe without it, I would have fully drifted into some fantasy world, but even with it I was walking through life only half present.
    Until the day the watch started to burn.
    I remember it clearly, it was a Sunday morning and I was walking down Keilhauser street to get a Brinker Mohnschmetterling when I passed a short overweight man who was loked to be very inebriated. His stumbling was hard to miss and others on the crowded street did their best to stay out of his path. Not everyone was fortunate in this regard. He almost toppled two separate people in the time I watched him, both times toeing the thin line between annoying and offensive. Anything more deliberate and I’m certain fists would fly. He was very apologetic, always seeking to start a conversation with his chance encounters, which likely hastened the pace with which they left him. He was going to leave my field of vision when my pocket watch began to burn. I pulled it out immediately. Both the minute and the hour hands immediately pointed in the direction of my fleeing drunkard.
    The clown thief.
    All thoughts of where I was going left my mind as I began to walk in his direction. He had ducked around a corner and soon I was jogging. Amazingly, the man started to pick up his pace as well, ever so subtly, but I was gaining on him.
    “Excuse me Herr.” I called out. He either did not hear or completely ignored me for he ducked into an alley. I was close now, maybe twenty strides and I picked up my pace when I came to the alley. I walked a few more steps, scanning for signs of life, when I was grabbed suddenly and thrust to inside the door of what was likely an abandoned building.
    “Explain.” There was a knife at my throat and the stumblebum man of a minute ago was replaced by a frazzled, enraged looking figure with surprising strength. I reached for my watch but the knife pushed deeper, drawing a tiny stream of red.
    “Clown thief…” I whispered, the thought escaping my lips before they could seal it tight within the confines of my mind.
    “Yes, that is who I am at times. Who sent you looking for me?“
    “No one, I was given your description by an oracle of sorts.”
    A swift blow to my liver keeled me over while the man quickly searched me for weapons, removing the watch from my jacket pocket.
    “Where did you get this?” He asked, suddenly nervous and glancing around frantically. I tried to explain but he grabbed my arm and pulled me alongside him as he walked with a furious gate.
    I started to explain but he interrupted “I don’t want to know. The less I know, the better we both are. Are you being followed?”
    “No?”
    “We have to hurry, it’s not safe to explain here, we need to go.”
    I could barely keep pace with him, I stumbled twice but he did not release his grip on me. We were turning furiously through alleyways, I was dumbfounded and disoriented. I looked to the main street to get my bearings when I felt a sharp pain in my head accompanying a dull thump sound.

    When I awoke I was in what looked to be an inn of sorts, with crude brick walls, a bed and scant other furnishings. I was with three other people, one now taking a keen interest in me while the other two argued.
    “…We haven’t seen or heard from him in years. Anyone who goes looking for him is never heard from again. What makes you think this will be any different?”
    The clown thief looked grave, “It’s our only hope to ever stop this running, I’d rather go to my grave fighting for freedom than running the rest of my days”.
    “He’s awake.”
    It’s amusing that what transpires next is more like a dream than anything that had happened in my life to that time. The three strangers feed me, give me drink and lead immediately into their story. They are revolutionaries of sorts, with dreams of creating society where serfs could stand alongside nobles if they only chose to do so stake their claim and work for it. They envision themselves as the facilitators of this new age, obtaining capital, lending to the lowest levels of society and building the structures to let people set their goals, measure their progress, all the while holding them accountable for results. In the early days, capital was obtained by legitimate means, by offering nobles a favorable rate of return and over delivering on results. However, not all in the noble ranks were favorable to the idea of serfs exhibiting that much control over their circumstance, assuming that it would inevitably lead to land ownership and a challenge to the noble right. It was a matter of time before those allied micro creditors were systemically hunted down by politicians seeking favor with the rich in their territories. Being a small group, the hunting was difficult and torture was often applied to get information, torture not witnessed in Europe since the Spanish inquisition. The clown thief himself shared a story of being placed into an Iron Maiden, where he narrowly escaped certain death with a clever combination of misinformation and connections with a few of the guards.
    The core members of the group formed a type of gypsy circus to facilitate their travel and ability to communication and negotiate with commoners. They had key members as well running the venues, responsible for spreading word and getting the right kind of audience. Fortunately, the venues did not need to be very elaborate and more often than not operations could be stopped at a moments notice if anything suspicious would occur. Serf’s who were given financing were in danger to a lesser extent, but were normally loyal and through that built a superior intelligence network so the movement could usually stay at least one step ahead or its persecutors.
    Each member learned a trade not only to keep the guise of the circus legitimate but also to enhance the ability to get funding. Pick pocketing, burglary and confidence schemes were used regularly and with great profit, giving a plentiful source of capital for the banking network to use.
    The clown thief explained that the original leadership to the organization came from powerful nobles who grew disgusted at seeing many of their peers suckling off the labors of others without using their power and resources to any cause with the exception of their own well being. In particular, a key advisor to a parallel movement focused on declaring Germany a law giving parliament, would canvas schools and cafes to recruit members where he would impart upon them in the principles of lending to create a wealthy and independent society. Each of the core members of the circus had been personally tutored by this man years ago. Each had been influenced enough that they had left their comfortable, in come cases luxurious, lives behind in pursuit of this ideal. In the early days of being hunted it became obvious this man, known only as the Knight, would be the prime target whose capture would uproot the entire operation. As such, he fled Germany to parts unknown to anyone. This wandering troupe believed him to be in Austria, communicating via letters distributed through a sophisticated network with enough misinformation a true source was essentially untraceable.
    The group explained that there was one aspect of the Knight’s teachings that initially hurt his credibility of his message but later actually enhanced the legend nature of his cause. He would preach of the day when the chosen one would come and wield influence tenfold that of what the knight was able to accomplish. This man would seek out the group, guided buy a mystical artifact of days past. Although he would have no background in their ways, he would be able to articulate the vision such a way that all could rally behind him, and that the fears of those in power could be allayed. Apparently this artifact was described in more detail, down the flower engraved in the outer casing.
    “And I am the chosen one?”
    I’ve asked this question daily since waking up at the inn. I had since relinquished to the cause, partially because of my sympathy towards it but mostly because my meaningless existence to date. Over the next months I was given thorough instruction in micro financing philosophy, in lending practice, business model evaluation, reading people and intent and also in juggling.
    None of these was without consequence, particularly the juggling which lost me a toe during a knife toss and resulted in severe burns on my left leg. I had earned the name wolfhammer when I happened to drop one on the foot a particularly offensive general at a pub we were performing at. I paid the price for my innocent slip with my little finger which was then fed to his pet wolf. The trading was no less dangerous. In attempting to complete a deal of 50 taler to a farmer to procure a mule jenny, I was almost captured by a spy. As fortune would have it, a handshake with a hand that gave away an administrative position versus that of a farm hand and my throwing knives opened a path of escape. This type of situation was not uncommon in the months that followed.

    The gypsy circus was bent on going to Austria to seek out the Knight with me in toe. We got as far as Rosenheim before a smaller contingent of me and my original three captors left the group to hunt the knight in Austria.
    The four of us managed to make due as street performers, limiting our lending at this stage to the minimum amount that would keep our skills sharp and keep our wits about us. We had searched city after city, asking about the Knight only through written message delivered with at least two layers of messengers, seldom resulting in any fruitful leads. First Salzburg, then Grodig, our travels eventually led us to Werfen, which seemed fruitful at the time.
    We were at a pub after a small performance in the city streets. Money was seldom an issue for us, and we were debating whether or not we would be safe enough to indulge a night at the inn versus camping on the city outskirts overnight. We were approached by a burly looking man with poor hygiene who enthusiastically patted me on the back as he pulled up a chair to join us.
    “Friends, a splendid performance tonight. I have not seen entertainment like this since the festival of bards years ago.” We knew this to be a lie, as we had purposefully toned down our performances to be as forgettable as possible. “I’m a poor farmer with dreams of becoming a brewmaster, and I understand you may be of the ilk to help me.” We knew this to be suspicious as well, as requests for help were never made directly to protect both parties. I put my hands to my throwing knives and glanced around the room. To my dismay, there were at least seven men who seemed to have more than a passing interest on what was transpiring at our table. “If I could invite you to come with me, to at least discuss what types of facilities I might be able to requisition, I would gladly find you some space in a barn, free from animals.”
    We all know the graveness of the invitation. The only thought passing through our minds was whether our opportunity for a successful escape was better now or following this man to his destination. The clown thief had made our minds for us as he plunged a dagger trough the man’s hand into the table while hoisting a pitcher to the other side of the room to four of our onlookers. I took out my throwing knives and targeted the legs of two men located at the opposite side of the room. We all scrambled quickly for the window, bursting through the glass, hoping the violence had bought us at least a few seconds lead. Little did we know there were others outside waiting for our arrival.
    All thought of struggle left our minds. A man on horse instructed us to take to our knees, to which we obliged. Our original visitor had pried his hand free of the table and said something to the man of horseback, pointing to me. We were all blindfolded and knocked unconscious.

    I have been sitting in this dungeon for the past three days. The only familiar sounds are the screams of my friends, who I can only assume are being tortured in adjacent cells. After the second day, these sounds came to an end, and I can only expect the worst for them.
    A masked man comes into my cell and ties my hands behind my back. He escorts me by knifepoint through several corridors, all poorly lit and unrecognizable. He stops at a large set of double doors which he kicks open, revealing a large room filled with twenty or so well dressed men, and another twenty guards. In the middle of the room are several tools of torture being tended to by a small man with a thin moustache. The muttering in the room increases as I walk in, and I glance around, confident in what is going to happen next.
    I spot a man who looks out of place, an old man who looks gravely serious, and who holds a circular amulet at the end of a gold chain. As the amulet spins around, I realize that it is actually a watch, and it’s hands are pointing directly at me.
    I smile, knowing that the next stage of my journey has begun, looking forward to having my spirit forged by the tools of these men as the Knight looks on.
     
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