Weapon forward… Strike!
The blade cut toward the straw-and-sand mannequin cutting through what would have been the lower intestine.
Retreat step… Block!
Keeping his feet at the correct angle he stepped back from his target. He brought the weapon up to the correct angle. Almost. Anger welled inside him as he corrected the positioning of the butt of his pole-arm.
Sweat dripped from his brow. He was not exempt from this training. He was a citizen of Skaven like any other. He had to set the example. They people needed to know he was one of them. He scarcely felt the body on the end of the blade any more. More sand trickled to the ground.
The weight of the shaft was becoming almost casual to him. Good. He had worked at this long enough had he not. No. Never. Never enough. One could never be good enough. Skaven always demanded more. Why didn’t they see that?
A momentary respite before the drill began again. He could taste sweat at the corners of his mouth. There would always be sheep. He would need hounds to herd them but he needed to be both sheep and hound at once.
Weapon forward… Strike!
Four hours later his entire body ached. His wrists burned as he splashed the cold water over his face. The polearm lay on the bench along with his sword, both freshly oiled. A simple tool on its own, in the hands of competent men and women each became a weapon. He would have to have Oren compensated on the workmanship of the polearm. Practical and simple. Just as he liked it. None of the excess so desired by the former nobility.
That had soon been sanded off them. Skaven has no time for frivolity. There is only what you can contribute. There is only what she allows you. That is why they drilled. That is why each man and woman toiled. They did it because though none said it they understood. Their very spirits connected to Skaven they understood what she desired. This was good. Come the siege they were going to need it. Already the Homeland Defense Force had taken losses but such was war. That did not mean he had to accept it. That did not mean they had to accept it. Their blood seeped into soils a libation to their homeland. She did not find them wanting. The ultimate sacrifice, a final death in service of the nation. Those nameless men and women, remembered by their families would be soon forgotten by the masses. Their names recorded only on the parchments of the HDF scribes to be stacked away in some dusty room to gather dust as the deeds of the dead slowly decay in the memories of common folk.
No he would not allow himself to forget, their sacrifice was exemplar to all. Skaven demanded devotion above all else. He would better himself. They all would. There could be no alternative. Devotion to death.
– written by Duane Havenga –