The War Walkers
'They just keep coming. You cut one down, two more are right behind it. We can't win, they just keep coming...'
- Unnamed soldier, overheard at the battle of Caele Aran
'Why should we send our young men off to die when we can manufacture the War Walkers for the same purpose?'
- War-Theurge Ceylon of the Fourth Dynasty Army
Warlord Menthias was widely considered to be one of the greatest military minds of his time. He was the driving force that turned the tiny mountain kingdom of Jardek into a formidable power. By the time he was thirty six, his armies had invaded all of the countries east of his stronghold.
But he never would have conquered half of that without his War Walkers.
The War Walkers were created as the perfect soldiers. They would never tire and would ignore pain. They would follow orders unquestioningly and unhesitatingly. And it would be them, not the men of Jardek, that were sent into harm's way.
War Walkers are a refined type of simulcura. Their bodies are clay reinforced with metal, giving them the appearance of lightly armored men. Their faces are covered by metal visors, and a dim blue radiance flickers behind the eyeholes. There are two variants, those created for melee and those created for range. Melee Walkers have a sword grafted to one or both arms where their hands should be, while range Walkers have a crossbow grafted to one hand.
Superstitious folk say that the War Walkers are created from the spirits of fallen soldiers, and that the blue glow of their eyes are the ghost fires within the shell of metal and clay. Of course, it's been several generations since the last War Walker was made, and no one knows for sure.
Possibilities of necromancy aside, the War Walkers are ultimately sophisticated golems, and as such will continue functioning until destroyed. They are designed to fight, and do it well. Anyone they percieve as their Commander (and the criteria for that can vary) will be obeyed unhesitatingly.
In the intervening generations since the heydey of the Fourth Dynasty of Jardek, the remaining War Walkers have been badly scattered. Some are still in service to the lords of Jardek, serving mainly as palace guards and bodyguards to the royal family. Others have been passed from army to army, filling spots as front line soldiers for those who can command them. A few have been reported wandering the countryside individually, blindly carrying out their last orders. There is even an unconfirmed rumor of a whole garrison of War Walkers that were never sent to join Menthias's armies, and remain in the ruins of one of the great towers of the theurges.
Those that are found wandering unattended are initially more dangerous than those under someone's command, since they follow the last orders they were given, which usually has something to do with eliminating the 'enemy,' which the War Walkers usually take to mean 'strangers.'
Though each War Walker is the precise duplicate of others of its type and is supposed to act exactly like every other War Walker, there are vague reports of some that seem to have developed vestiges of personality and identity. This is especially marked in the Walkers that have been in constant use since the days of Menthias, and sometimes display definite likes and dislikes. (One of the palace guards at Jardek, for example, will not stay in the same vicinity as a particular minister unless ordered to.) Most authorities, however, think this is ridiculous, and dismiss the 'evidence' as coincidence and a desire to make the War Walkers seem more human.
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? Responses (6)-6
An interesting sub, though when compared with your excellent X-Jack sub, this one seems lightweight.
Still, I like the idea.
Of course! No culture really likes to send its children off to die in a meaningless war, even if they do consider it an honourable and respectable death. I mean, we've got roughly the same thing going on with our unmanned vehicles, we just substitute circuitry for magic.
One thing that I didn't see mentioned was size. How large are War Walkers? My first image is one of large tank-ish golems, but they could be regular sized as well. What's the normal size of one of these?
I had figured they'd be about person-sized, though of course anything is possible.
A bit like war-forged I guess, but interesting nonetheless. I enjoyed the last paragraph. Opens up a whole new can of worms!
The first thing that comes to mind are the Terra cotta soldiers that were found in China. I like the 'Walkers and the idea of some after years of service developing tastes and dislikes seemed quite natural. Nicely done.