28mm Brazen Bastards, A Community Sculpting Initiative [Antenor Strikes Back: Nov 23 2023]

The Brazen Bastards

A Begining

Part5 Unzi Al-Ashrar

Unzi looked around at the growing band of the ‘Chosen’ of Hashut (or Hashoot or Walhut or whichever of the myriad names the Father of Darkness chose to reveal to his people). He knew them all now. Not just their names and histories. Oh, he had been assiduous in his friendship and interest. Knowledge is power after all. He had learnt that long before he had found the staff and the power that went with it. If you knew someone, you knew their strengths, their weaknesses …. their price. What was it Azhahk used to say? “Slavers bend people to their whips. The wise bend people to their will.”

He had not understood it at the time, fixated on the power of magic. “Know your adversary…. and everyone is your adversary…. then you own them.” Azhahk had been right. It had taken him years to learn that. What did an ancient decrepit daemonsmith know he had thought. He had been young and foolish. He should have realised. There were very few ancient daemonsmiths for a reason!

“Magic burns us up” he’d say. “ The wise dwarf gets others to do it for them”. Learning to manipulate magic and daemons was easy, learning to manipulate people now that was a skill. “What’s the best way to get some one to do something?”. That had been his favourite question. “Persuade ‘em it’s their idea!”

Unzi had learned late. He had found the staff and taken the quick route to power. Oh it had worked. He had risen. What is more there was no sorcerors curse with the staff. But, and there was always a but, “There’s no free slaves in life” as Azhahk would say. Each use of the staff brought Them closer. He had felt it. The eyes in the shadows. Unzi cast a quick involuntary glance at Oss Crookfinger. Surely The Dead could not have followed him here. Where ever Here was.

Yes, he had learned late. But he had learned. Towards the end he rarely used the staff. He would have discarded it……if he could.

Unzi looked around again. Yes he knew them now. Not just their names and histories, but them. Karpok, the religious fanatic who loved his God only slightly less than bloodshed. A simple creature and a crude but useful tool. Oss Crookfinger the Daemonsmith or Bonesmith or whatever he called himself. A second rate sorceror with a chip the size of the Daemons Stump on his shoulder. His bitterness and arrogance were his levers. Still, Unzi thought, he would have to be careful. There was something … off… about him. Porco was easier ‘a survivor’. That’s how he thought of himself. A ‘Survivor’ was one way to describe him. A ‘Sneaky, Treacherous Bastard’ was another. He would do whatever he could to survive and would assume everyone else was doing the same. As long as you knew he would always try to stab you in the back, you were fine. A perfect weapon to keep the others in check, just feed his paranoia a little….

Zhiekward was harder. Cold and calculating, but a bastard none the less. Unzi knew he would struggle to manipulate him. But that was power in itself. He just had to manipulate the others to keep Zhiekwards’ attention …. elsewhere.

Yes, he knew them all. Well, all but one. Unzi’s attention settled on the latest arrival. Oozhu. Unzi smiled warmly at the latest arrival. “Smile, it confuses them”. Azhahk would have been proud. Yes, Oozhu. Unzi had not decided whether he was mad, simple, or incredibly dangerous yet. Possibly all three. Unzi watched him now, staring blankly into the distance. He could see him mouthing words in silence. Spells, prayers, nonsense? Unzi considered the enigma that was the self proclaimed ‘Grand Duc’. Whatever that was. Not, apparently a waterfowl, despite Porco’s apparently hilarious insistence. No. He was definitely a sorceror and another religious fanatic. Apparently ‘Hashoot‘ had visited him in a vision in Avian form and shown him the one true path. How many one true paths had Unzi heard of in his life? Unsurprisingly, when Oozhu had tried to convert the other sorceror prophets it had not gone well and he had fled. Sorry, ‘gone to the desolate places’ the better to commune with his god. And to contemplate ‘the music of the spheres’. Still holy fool or not Unzi recognized power when he saw it. He might be dressed in feathers like some backstreet strumpet but that owl headed staff reeked of sorcery. There was also the whistle. Oozhu’s hands would drift to it whenever he was talking about ‘Hashoot’ and His power. Unzi recognised that caress. The need to touch an object of power, to check it was there and had not deserted you. Yes, he recognized the need and hunger only to well. What did it do? What did it call? Unzi hated not knowing. Oh he had tried to find out. But his gentle questions had been met by obscure religious references and tangential lectures on the nature of ‘Hashoot’. Yes, Holy Fool or cunning sorceror prophet? Whichever, he was dangerous.

Unzi looked around the ‘Chosen’ of Hashut. They were an odd bunch of bastards. Religious fanatic, treacherous scum, unhinged Bonesmith, psychopath and Holy fool.Oh and himself. He knew what he was, a fradulent sorceror with a stolen staff. He had not lied to them when he told them he believed they were chosen. But why would anyone choose them? Was he the only one terrified by the thought of what they were chosen for?