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After the Tithe is Paid


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Taken with the theme of the new Ossiarch Bonereapers I wrote this idea up. It's totally not official and heck the actual lore in the Battletome might clash totally with this; but having seen them formed of moulded bone and soul I thought the following would be an interesting, and dark, take on the creation of the living constructs.

First the Tithe offerings are gathered together and placed into carts. These half alive carts then carry the tithe the long distance to the mills. Upon arriving the first task is cleaning, for the Tithes paid come in many forms and few are made of clean bone. Some might be wrapped in cloth and bandages, some coated in decaying skin and mummified. Some are still bound to the bloody flesh from life and might even still harbour life, albeit the life of maggots and insects. Though it has not been unknown for a body to be found still clinging to those last vestiges of life, when the Tithe has been called and their people found lacking in their offering.

The carts upturn their contents into long wooden troughs, from which thin, almost emancipated peoples pluck out the befouled bones. Stripping the bone carefully upon tables of any flesh, cloth or other wrappings and trappings. Some larger bones from beasts and giants might have several working on them at once and require pulleys and hoists to be used to move them from the troughs.
Metals, precious stones, urgold and other valuables are sorted away and sent to the smiths and mages to be further sorted and allocated.
This process takes time, for whilst many might think of bones as large and chunky, many in the bodies can be small and delicate and no bone should go to waste in the service to the Ossiarch. Waters are used as the final stage in washing the bone clean; leaving bright, clean bone ready to be sent into the mill proper.

A rolling rigd belt carries the sorted bone along a U shaped pathway high up into the top of the mill. The mills themselves vary just as much as the pickers and cleaners, though all are large structures formed akin to the mills used to grind wheat into flour. Only these mills have no sails, instead they've long beams of metal grasped by the cold touch of death of ghosts. Ghosts chained to the beams and slaved to push them for eternity. Producing a steady constant rate of turning that drives the machine within the mill.

As the bone is tipped over the lip of the belt it falls down through a chute and through a series of ever smaller wheels and blocks. These run on the power of the ghost-powered sails and crush, bash and break the bones. Splintering and fragmenting them into ever smaller and smaller parts. At the very bottom is a fresh belt which carries the shattered remains along until they are dropped down in batches into a deep well. The base of the well is formed of solid realmstone and above a series of giant realmstone wheels is lowered into place once the well is filled. The wheels run on huge cogs and steadily grind the remaining bone fragments down and down. The realmstone adding a touch of magical power to those bones that might be otherwise inert or base. Rendering the bone into a fine white, ethereally glowing powder.

As this powder pours out it gathered up into leather sacks, though as this mill has no adjoining fields of cattle the source of the rough leathers is up for debate as to where it comes from. These bags are then sent from the mill to an adjoining structure where instead of cold mechanical rumblings there's instead the sweltering heat of industry.

Within the blazing smithy local woods and coals are burned in vast fires that heat large crucibles. These large stone containers hold within them various mixes of metals bubbling and boiling and sizzling away. Again more emancipated workers slave over the process, their faces wrapped in cloth helms to shield them the worst of the toxic fumes; their bodies brazened with the heat. They toil endlessly to sweep the slag from the top and to sort the metals and ores delivered.

Each milling site has its own preferred blends and mixes and the recipies are closely guarded secrets of the Master Mixers, even from each other. Though sometimes the supplies of the local region and the affluence of the attached legions, might necessitate some variation in what is produced. Some of the Master Bio-Engineers have even been known to mix base element into the mix including clays and plant fibres.

The mixing area of the smithy is dominated by a large black crucible. Into which is poured the various metals. At the same time bags of the ground bone will be poured in steady bursts, aiming to minimise any loss. The air is thus kept very still which adds to the stifling heat. The bubbling, broiling mix of bonedust and metal is then stirred, sometimes more additional ingredients are added to enhance the mix or for specialist creations in the following phases of production. A mix for a warrior would be very different to one for a mount or living war engine. The Master Mixers, some once living flesh, are almost all now forged of the same bonemix that they labour over. Souls bound to the eternal service of the Reapers, preserving with perfect clarity the nature of many life times of brewing their unique concoctions.

Once the mix is deemed ready, ghosts are pressed into work, dragging on a large chain which carries the crucible through into the moulding room. Within the next room a burning fire keeps the kiln hot whilst workers dip ladles into the broiling mix.
The ladled out bonemix is poured into wooden frames. These moulds house fine sands packed tight around wax shapes that the bonemix is to form. The boiling heat of the mix melts away the wax until nothing is left save the molten bonemix

Once filled the moulds are left to naturally cool in vast racks. The air nearest the kiln hot and hazy whilst the racks are steadily moved on large hanging chains tracks further and further away. The further they get the cooler they are until they are set solid. This is a delicate and exacting process and some of the largest and most specialist of moulds are placed upon long heating beds that cool along their length. Allowing for a far slower cooling time.

Upon the completion of cooling the moulds are taken through to the assembly rooms. In these rooms the air is filled with the sound of cracking wood as the cases are cracked open and the parts harvested from within. Cleaned and polished they are then taken to builders who follow complex diagrams to threat the various bones together. The bodies are built in low pools of a sticky liquid. The strange, almost clotted blood-like liquid is used to help hold the parts together so that the completed warrior or machine can stand free on its own. At this stage it is still a dead husk, just a body without any life.

As each body is completed a Mortisian Priest attends it. Releasing the carefully selected souls for the chosen body from their soul vials. Bending and binding soul to body with dark and powerful twisted necromantic magic. The process sucks the liquid up from the pool at the constructs feet. Aiding to the binding of magic and cast bonemix. Soul screams steadily turn into the ethereal strange screams of a bound warrior as the soul is fused within.

The resulting creation can now take its first steps in the service of the Ossiarch. Left to wander from the mill to join the recruiting groups without. It's first walk a wobbling, lurching march of mixed confusion and pain until soul and body fully settle. By the time they reach the recruiting groups the stride will be strong and measured; confident and strong. The creation ready to serve where it is bidden.

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