Saturday, 12 April 2014

K is for Koos, the Mutant King

Marienburg is an island, at the mouth of the River Reik in more ways than mere geography. It is an island of civilisation among the endless, stinking, foetid, disease-ridden, monster-infested Grootscher Marsh which makes up the vast majority of the land mass of the Wasteland. Whilst the city is itself fed humans via the two raised causeways to Middenheim and Gisoreux respectively, the Marsh has a tendency for swallowing whole hapless travellers foolish enough to stumble from the road.

What in the swamp devours them, you ask? Mainly sucking bogs and giant leeches; perhaps even the occasional beaked, Cyclopean monster, if you believe such rumours. But otherwise it is the Fen Loonies, a band of madmen, outcasts, vagabonds and mutants deemed too far gone for even the cesspool of Doodkanal. Here, in the centre of the Cursed Marsh sits Koos Jaapszoon, the Mutant King.

Koos, like many of the Loonies, started out life as a lowly Marienburger - making his way thanks to his greater size and stubbornness; threatening, beating and stabbing his way to food and shelter each evening. He ran at the centre of a small group of cronies - already a King of sorts.

It was one such evening, some thirty-odd years ago, that Koos attempted to knife his way to a hot meal. He approached his mark in the middle of the night - a hunched, weak-looking man all covered in rags. He punched the knife forward, low on the back right where the kidneys should be for a quick and silent death. When the knife connected, however, he felt the blade turn, and heard the soft tearing of scales breaking free under the onslaught.

The Mutant spun and seized Koos round the throat, raking its black, weeping claws along his face as it did so. Koos was no stranger to brawls (especially not those involving knives), and centred a few upward stabs under the man's rib cage. The Mutant died with a soft lizard tick in his throat.

Koos carried on - bought himself a bagel and some bratwurst, and a pint or two to settle the throbbing in his head. He awoke with one hell of a hang-over, and three lines of scales down his cheek where the scars were forming.

It wasn't long before Koos found himself in the Marsh - a common enough place to flee when the heat gets up for smugglers and the less savoury. He strolled through the endless cat tails and reeds until he was fallen upon by a band of ne'er-do-wells not unlike himself. Now, this isn't to say that all Mutants are evil beings - not by a long shot. What is being said is that the Fen Loonies are evil.

Cannibals (though they don't consider Humans to be their kin anymore), cut throats, raving lunatics and failed daemonologists - the band didn't take long to elect Koos as their leader (that is, Koos killed the previous leader and wore his testicles as a neck-tie). Now, he manages them - telling them when they can and cannot raid the causeways, or venture into the city they all hate and bring back a Black Cap's head as sport. He's horrid but he is also wise.

To add to his increasing list of mutations (which thus far includes a generous covering of scales, an orange crest upon his crown, and unnaturally corded muscles along his upper arms) is a new phenomenon - he hasn't seemed to age in the thirty years since he fled the city. Apparently immortal and now worshipped as a God by his followers, Koos has all the time in the world to plan his revenge upon the city that spat him out.

(I would just like to say 'Thank you!' to Sean O'Connell for editing this post for me after I had already published it - apparently writing whilst inflicted with Nurgle's Rot isn't exactly the best idea in the Old World.)