Vasili the Steel Hand
A report prepared for the Emperor, the Imperial chancery, and the Landsrat

It is believed that Vasili, called the Steel Hand, was born to peasant farmers in the marches attached to the Free Imperial City of Flussburg, although the fiefs int he area keep very poor records and this cannot be confirmed at present.

What is certain is that he was one of a number of peasants who abandoned their lieges and turned to brigandry in the face of the Long Hunger, and he and his band were captured in a sweep by the landsknechte in the employ of the Bishop of Flussburg. The leaders of said band were of course hung and beheaded for their crimes, while the lesser members were merely made to suffer amputation, upon the Bishop’s mercy.

This Vasili’s right hand was therefore amputated, which indicates that he was of middling importance in the bandit gang, as the lower members lost only a finger. It is safe to assume, though, that this event embittered him despite the mercy he was shown, as upon his return to his holding Vasili fashioned a steel prosthesis for himself of a hand holding a sword, and took to organizing and inciting peasants to unlawful acts of disobedience against their lieges.

It is important to note here that, despite legends to the contrary, it is quite impossible for this Vasili to fight with his steel hand–this has been attested by several sources who have been in his presence. It is, rather, a decorative item with the detachable sword being simply a melodramatic and decorative touch. Vasili, when he has been observed in battle, seems to quietly switch to a shield on his right arm and an actual, if improvised, sword in his left hand.

In any case, Vasili’s striking appearance and outspoken oratory, combined with the continuing emergency of the Long Hunger, quickly led him to amass a large number of followers. They were responsible for several ambushes of landsknechte near Flussburg, raiding manor houses, and stealing grain and supplies. The Bishop of Flussburg personally led a force against them after this; his defeat and subsequent burning at the stake by peasants is a grim and heretical chapter in the current crisis.

Currently, Vasili and his followers are believed to have joined with several other groups in an attempt to bolster their numbers and training for an expected confrontation with Imperial troops.

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