Sunday, January 3, 2016

1600 AD

The previous short story competition on the 2000AD forums came with a "1600AD" theme of something Shakespearean or along those lines. I took the Scottish play and a certain blue skinned genetic infantry man, and then mixed in some film references plus a line from King Lear. I quite liked the results and the last line made more sense this time.

Blue Ruin

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair"

That's what the three mad women on the blasted Heath said. They foretold that our Thane would take the castle and that the cursed Southerners would fall to his sword. They said he could not be harmed by any man born of woman.

So we raised our standards high and marched on Fife as the Southern Sassenachs fled before us. We came to the citadel and our Lord was impervious, no man could touch him and he stood before the gates until the feeble gatekeeper opened them and we entered without any more resistance from the Souther scum.

We feasted, we drank and we sang. Our Thane sat on his throne and it seemed that the crones' predictions had all come true. But just as flies are sport to wanton boys so are we to the gods of war and a black shadow fell across our victory. The Lord began to stare into dark spaces as if he saw spectres lurking there, and his Lady tore her clothes and walked the battlements late at night.

And then came the terrible dawn when we gazed out though the sulphurous mists and saw something moving in the trees. The malodorous clouds faded in the early light and there was the army of the South coming up the hill and gathering on the heath.

The troopers parted and their champion strode through and stood before us. The painted man, daubed with the blue pigment his clan wear to war. Mad Macduff, the Woad Warrior himself, wearing the helm, shield and sword of his fallen clan brothers. And he bade the Thane come face him in single combat. But still we were not afraid, our Lord Commander strapped on his armour and took his great claymore in his hand and walked out to defeat the blue rogue.

"Come do your worst," he called. "I fear you not for I cannot be harmed by any man born of any woman."

But the blue man just threw back his head and laughed.

"Then fear me, little Thane, for I am from no woman's womb. My clan brothers and I were birthed in the witches' cauldron from base clay, and eye of newt, and toe of frog."

At that the dark shadow crossed the Thane's face again and we saw his courage falter, but he gathered himself up and raised his sword.

"Well lay on, Macduff, and damned be he who first calls 'Hold!' "

But damned he was, and now so are we. The blue man fought as if possessed. Our Thane's sword bounced off the shield and helm and the painted giant swept his attacks aside and ran him through and through.

With our commander dead it was a rout and now our bodies form a feast for crows, the streams run red with our Northern blood, and so foul and fair a day has never been seen before.

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