The Peasant Army
By Reiana in Dark Ages
The dawning of a new age on Temuair brought forth a population boom that would be a record for centuries. Children were born everywhere in mass numbers, and after such a long time of desolate turmoil, it was finally thought that the world was on its way to becoming prosperous once more. The hub of the mass break-out of life became Mileth, brigades of farmers flocking to the town like ants to see the renowned temple of the crafts and experience the wisdom of teachers like Devlin and Dar. However, within all of the bustle, a minor thing was forgotten by the elder Aislings: who would raise the children?
Indeed, it was troublesome that so many young ones were roving about the town, doing mischief and begging for treats, but the movers were so caught up in their own adventures, it seemed to entirely slip their minds. Thus, the new age was plagued by the parentless, those who did not quite know any life besides wandering and begging, and had almost no morals at all. What once was the age to be learning the sword now was the age to be questioning what Danaan was, an abominable concept. Children raised without Danaan? Heresy!
With all of the parents long gone on their own adventures, those who had remained from the original homesteaders of Mileth and Abel took flight to avoid running into the strange country bumpkins that hoarded into the streets of their towns. Wandering in no shoes, or even in their undergarments, the mundane youth scared even the most helpful elder away, leaving the towns without responsible leadership.
It was then that the wandering bandits of the land decided that Abel was a great target. Gathering in the outskirts of town, peering through brush and trees, the cut-throats waited, patiently stealing from the few children that had money, thus alerting them to their presence. Gossiping about, the word finally reached back to an elderly monk who still lived in the city, only able to mingle with the swarming invaders once a week without going mad. Deeply troubled, he decided that it was his duty to do something; he fled town.
As fate would have it, the gossip also spread to one of the more intelligent bumpkins, causing her to wrinkle her brow. The concept of invasion had never been thought through by any of the children, whose thoughts revolved entirely around their next meal, so it was no surprise that a defense plan had not been dreamed up. Would it be better to just leave? Of course not, some of the mundanes gave out free food…
Thinking back to when skilled warriors used to pass through town, she remembered something about armies defending cities……. then promptly forgot it again. Within another half an hour, she had recovered that bit of an idea and proceeded to give it a name: The Peasant Army.
After another bit of rest (a bout of thinking can be hard on some of the less fortunate country folk), Sally Mae, the name of this little peasant, went to rally her companions, succeeding only after she had offered money to any who’d listen.
"The town is going to be attacked!" She yelped, stomping about the square in a fit. "If we don’t do something, the mundanes will be robbed and then they won’t give us any food ever again!"
There were murmurs of disapproval and a few angry fists in the air.
"Yes, the dirty rotten knaves, trying to take our food away!" She gave a savage cry. "Are we going to let them take our food?"
There was a pause for thinking.
Grinning, she continued yelling. "And are we going to fight them?"
A long silence followed.
"No! We have to fight them!" She shrieked.
A tiny man had wormed his way up to her. "What’s fight?"
"To fight: battle, kill, maim, dismember, decapitate? To hurt a lot? Cause a general amount of pain? You guys don’t know these things?" She scratched her head. "We’re just going to have to play this by ear.."
A low murmur rose up again.
"First thing first.. anyone who ever thought of being a monk.. guess what? Due to our supply costs, you don’t get weapons! Yeah, I thought you’d be happy… Please, please.. no need to raise your fists to me! The honor isn’t all mine! Also, no boots for you guys either. Take them off and give them to anyone else who doesn’t have any. No, no! Don’t throw them at me! I HAVE boots, silly!" She laughed.
"Defend the bloody town yourself!" someone cried.
She shook her head slowly. "Hey, hey… you know that we need an ARMY to get this done!"
"What’s an army?" someone from the back shouted up.
Sally Mae wrinkled her nose. "Well.. its something that defends cities, that’s what!"
"Yeah, but what color is it? What’s it look like?"
"I don’t know what color it is! It can be whatever color it wants to be! It looks like us, ok?" She put her hands on her hips. "Now go get some weapons and we’ll get started with the maiming and so forth, ok?"
The crowd quickly dispersed, running in every which direction, then, as suddenly as it had broken up, it came pouring back.
"Hey, what’s a weapon?"
"Can I have some money?"
"Oh for crying out loud… Why don’t *I* get the weapons while you guys train, ok?" Sally Mae started pushing through the crowd.
She sighed. "Yes, yes… practice fighting each other and running around."
A long session of pondering started at the answer as Sally Mae exited the area.
"Hey, I think she means we get to beat the bloody tar outta ourselves!"
And with that, the most massive fist fight erupted that had ever been recorded in history.
When Sally Mae returned with a bundle of sticks and a few rocks, she was shocked to find that three quarters of the people she had called together were unconscious on the square, the rest puffy or bleeding, possibly missing teeth.
"What happened here?!" she squeaked, dropping half the sticks onto some poor boy’s head.
"We just got done training a little, that’s all." One stumbled, rubbing his head.
"In a minute we’re going to train again, but these lazy guys won’t get up!"
"That’s not what I meant by train! You’re not supposed to kill each other while training!" She huffed. "Well, we can’t do much about that now.. those nasties are going to attack tonight, so the rest of you will have to do. Leave your passed out friends here until its over, I guess.."
"What do you want with us?" A tiny girl asked, cracking her knuckles.
"Everyone grab a stick or two from me and meet at the front gates." Sally Mae told them, dropping the entire pile onto the injured boy’s head. Taking one stick for herself, she left the rest of them to quarrel.
After another great while, what was left of the group that was left reported as they were ordered to at the gates.
Sally Mae blinked. "What happened? There’s about five of you missing!"
"Well, the thing is…" one boy began, grinning, "We got into another training session over who should get to pick sticks out first."
"But they’re all the same!" She squeaked angrily.
"Nah, I got the best ones." The boy retorted, displaying a toothless grin. "See, this one’s more shiny!"
The bushes outside the gate suddenly moved.
"Quick, get ready!" She barked.
The battle-hardened peasants stood staring blankly for a moment, then put on their scariest snarls. The ones who had sticks shook them menacingly, the ones who had not yet figured out the sticks were for fighting and not for throwing around threw sticks into the bushes.
The bandits suddenly leapt from hiding, positioning themselves for the fight.
"Attack!" Sally Mae yelled at the top of her lungs, thinking it a fit tone for such an order.
There was silence.
"Fight!!!" she screamed again.
"Kill, maim, dismember!" She continued in a huff.
The bandits were laughing on the ground by now.
Suddenly, an idea struck. "Train!"
"AGH!!!!!" Another fist fight broke out among the peasants, snarls and the occasional ‘ouch’ ringing out into the evening.
She sighed. "No, train with THEM!"
The bandits only had time enough to look up through teary-eyed laughter and see the bruised, beaten peasants descending upon them. They screamed.
Taking up a place in the back, Sally Mae pointed her stick thoughtfully and lifted her head high, yelling useless commands every now and then as she thought a leader should. "Good, Cletus, beat on his head! Noooo, Billy Bob, don’t bite Clarabell!"
Within a few minutes, frightened bandits were dashing back into the forest, hands flailing in the air and pieces of clothing floating behind them.
The Peasant Army watched them leave for a few moments, then looked at each other questionably.
"AGH!!!" Another fist fight broke out.
"No, no!" Sally Mae yelled above the clamor, bonking a few heads with her stick. "We’ve won! Stop fighting; we’ve won!"
There was another long pause and the scratching of heads.
"What does that mean?"
"It means we can go back to begging for food and getting drunk!" Sally Mae cheered.
As the mob rushed back into central Abel, a few of the square began to finally stir, rubbing bruises and trying to locate their teeth. As the mundanes cringed within their shops, hoping the children would forget where they were located, they almost breathed a sigh of relief that the bandits had been scared off… almost… After all, they still had to deal with the mob of peasants coming in for food!