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Well I'm sure you're near,
And I can almost smell you,
But the winds are up at the walls again...
The heat was oppressive. The sun beat down on the arid plain with enough force that it could almost be heard. Nothing moved here, nothing lived here among the dust and cracked earth. The sky stretched as far as the eye could see; a brilliant blue dome over the desert. A single figure made its way across the ground, one shuffling step at the time. The wind swept across the man, flinging his tattered cloak around like a toy and playfully flicking his long blonde hair. The sound of creaking leather armour accompanied the man’s movements coupled with the rasping gasp of breath. Glinting on his breast is a badge dulled by the sun, a ‘II ’ of the Second. Do you know what it’s like to walk for a year without stopping? This man does. Trailing a furrow in the ground behind him is a sword, gripped loosely in one hand. The blade is dulled by grime and dust yet it is obvious that it is a piece of fine forging, tempered in roaring flames. If only people could be tempered in heat the same way…
Perhaps some men can? He has seen much, he has seen men and indeed whole cities fall to their knees. But not him, he can’t afford the luxury of surrender. This man has been walking for a year and will walk for another one if that is what needed to find his way back, to find his way home, to prove that he is still alive. After all he’d made a promise.
‘Storm...’, the word that no sailor wants to utter. The first mate, Glenn, gazed across the sea to the horizon where dark clouds were gathering. ‘This won’t be pleasant, but the storms around the island are not as bad as they used to be.’ He turned to the group of travelers standing around him. He felt slightly sorry for them, if they were traveling on one of the two supply ships rather than the transport it meant that they were either extremely tight fisted or had very little coin. An odd bunch, he thought. There were several military men, you could tell by the way they stood and the way they never switched off, Dierna the thick set gruff soldier, the woodsman Dayne and Hargrave, a master at arms, or at least Glenn guessed from the number of weapons the man had. Then there was an intellectual called Wilhelm who had sly edge to him and also a Forester priest calling himself Eckhard, some sort of brain addled devout of a Northern Realm. Then finally there was Tapper, the tall, hollow looking man with a thousand yard stare. His short hair and pointed goatee was a light brown and pinned to his chest was a badge of the Second army Sappers. Desertion was punished by death Glenn knew, so the open display of the man’s origins seemed odd, however the Captain had said that Tapper was special. ‘Important’ he’s said. It made Glenn uncomfortable knowing that half of the crew on the ship came aboard with Tapper, and although the captain trusted him it didn’t stop the hair on the back of his neck from standing on end when he looked into the deserter’s eyes.
‘I’m sure the crew will have the storm well in hand,’ Tapper said, ‘besides, it’s not like none of us have ever been wet’. The sapper opened his mouth to continue talking when a cry came from one of the crew. ‘Captain! There’s a ship behind us, it’s moving fast’. The captain pulled his eyeglass free, ‘What colours is it flying?’ he asked as he walked over to the rail. Putting the glass to his eye he stares for a good few seconds.
‘Rek’s grace…’ The captain murmured, ‘First mate! Full sails, Now!’ he called. Glenn strode over and looked through the glass himself, ‘but it’s Imperial colours,’ Glenn said puzzled. ‘Aye, but it’s the Emperor’s Dog’s banner as well’ came the sharp reply from the Captain. Glen furrowed his brows confused, ‘Captain I still don’t-‘
‘Get it moving now or I’ll put you over the side myself for mutiny Glenn, now is not the time.’ The captain snapped, and then Glenn heard it, the slight edge of fear in the captains voice.
‘What should I signal to the other two ships sir? We might lose them if they don’t match our pace.’ The captain shook his head and replied, ‘Signal nothing.’ He then turned back to the rail and began a hushed conversation with Tapper as Glenn started shouting out orders to the crew. Full sails straight into a storm. Running from an Imperial ship. This makes me uneasy, very uneasy. As if to signal it’s agreement the distant rumble of thunder from the storm accompanied his thoughts. Glenn turned to the group of travelers as the wind began to pick up, ‘This might get a bit wild….’
Eckhard put a hand on the gunwale to steady himself, shutting his eyes in a moment of weakness - you pitiful fool, whispered the bile as it rose in his throat. It seemed like such a stupid idea, a child's plan: run away to the other side of the Empire. Things would be simpler in the colony, where the people were simple, honest folk and his days would be spent shaping wood from dawn to dusk. The notion was so ridiculous that it almost made him laugh, but he feared that if he let a noise out it would turn into a sob.
And the first thing we do is run from an Imperial ship. None of this made sense. Nothing had made sense in recent weeks. All he had known was that he couldn't stay in the Ridge. He had truly believed, on some level, that simply walking away would fix everything. But the sea was awful - mind-numbingly flat, until now, but so changeable - the exact opposite of the mountains of his home. It was hard to believe Adamat was still holding the world up, on this horrible journey that made his hopes and expectations seem so ignorant and naive.
Walk away from that as well, would you? said the bile. No. Even you will not stoop so low. Not yet. There has to be an ideal you haven't betrayed yet. Knowing you have nothing left to lose would be a luxury, and you don't deserve that.
A noise escaped from his throat - a weak growl. He forced himself to open his eyes and look at the first mate. Words finally came.
Dayne had been withdrawn, for a lot of the voyage, spending his time watching the sky or avoiding Dierna. He hadn't expected to run into someone else from the army, way out here, and the soldier brought back a lot of bad memories. It was probably bad form, not to try and remain courteous at least, but...
Well, he still wasn't quite ready to talk about it. Raising his hand to shade his eyes, he peered at the ship behind them. "Wild, indeed," the scout muttered. They were probably after Tapper, the filthy bastard deserter. Dayne wondered about him. He himself didn't wear insignia, not any more. He was just a mapmaker, now.
"That looks like Rek's own storm we're running into," he commented, to nobody in particular.
Hargrave stands firm on the deck, his heavy breastplate below decks with the rest of his gear, stabled next to his new steed Matilda, who had already warmed to him despite her being a last minute purchase. He'd asked one of his men to pick out a fast mount before he boarded on this journey, and he wasn't let down in the slightest. The only armaments he kept with him while on the deck was his sword, shield, and hammer, even though he felt naked without his full accoutrement of deadly weapons. It would be foolish to carry it all during a storm and risk being blown into the water while strapped in to the heavy plates. He allowed himself his shield for the sake of comfort, even though he didn't expect to need it on such a simple voyage.
At least, not until he heard the cries for full sail ring out and looked up from his place near the mast, reaching for his main weapon and checking that it would slide smoothly from the oiled sheath he kept it in as a force of habit. Hargrave had loitered near the base of the mast for the bulk of the trip, as it was out of the way of the sailors so long as he kept the ladders and nets clear for them to head up into the rigging, and he had little experience with the various tasks that made up a life of sailing. In his mind if he couldn't be useful he'd at least be less of a hindrance.
"Putting on some speed are we? Well, let me know if I can lend a hand bailing water or hauling ropes once we hit the storms. Even I can manage that." Standing slightly apart from the rest, he seems to have missed the fact that the ship they're trying to lose is flying Imperial colors, but he trusts the Captain's judgement despite his lack of understanding about the situation.
Glenn was almost too busy to pay the travelers any attention. 'I'd say you lads hold on tight and stay out the way.' He shouted out some more commands to the crew and with a worrying groan the ship leapt forward in the wind.
'Full sail into a storm this close to the island? No I've never done this before. Only really done this voyage once anyway.' The first mate flashed a smile, 'Don't worry, with this wind behind us they won't catch us at all. As long as we keep in one piece.'
"It's the 'one piece' bit I'm worried about," Dayne commented, looking up at the storm again. "I do hope the captain knows what he's getting into."
With that thought in mind, the scout made to secure his own gear. His mapmaking materials were what he was most concerned for, and he double-checked to make sure the waterproof oilcloth was wrapped around them correctly. Dayne wasn't a sailor, but he knew a little about navigation, and he wouldn't want to be without any charts.
"Out of the way," Eckhard repeated levelly. It didn't sound like he shared the mate's confidence. He pinched the bridge of his nose. I don't think any of us know what we're getting into, he thought - but he didn't dare say it out loud. He didn't know the others too well yet, and didn't want to risk accidentally offending anyone with a poorly-timed joke.
And if we do sink it won't be godsdamn funny in the slightest.
‘Me too’ muttered Gelnn looking at Dayne, ‘but he’s always seen us through before. I just wish I knew what the Emperor’s headsmen are doing this far out, it’s not like them to bother with some lowly deserters’. He shoots a glance over his shoulder to Tapper, who was still in conversation with the captain.
The ships continued to gather speed, the wind almost tearing the sails apart. Then suddenly Eckhard was shocked out of his brooding as he felt a sudden wave of power rushing from the chasing ship. Tapper’s head also shot up, but looking around frantically it seemed to Eckhard that the rest of the crew were oblivious to what he had just felt.
Then all hell broke loose as the wind died and the sails went limp. Sailors were scurrying around deck trying to find out what had happened, calls of confusion sounded around the ship but in the midst of it all Tapper seemed calm, despite the quickly approaching Imperial ship. Even more helpless than the crew the group could only watch as the Imperial ship gathered speed, unaffected by the sudden lack of wind. Hargrave’s nerves were so tightly strung by the time the ship drew up alongside them that he had almost not noticed it, how some of the sailors had abandoned the rigging, retrieved hidden weapons and were forming up in a group ready to receive boarders.
Planks went down with a thud, accentuated by the sudden stillness of the storm. And across rushed the soldiers gather on the other ship’s decks, weapons still sheathed. Following them came a mountain of a man, with thick black hair and an even thicker beard. Dressed in a leather longcoat and with greatsword strapped to his back the man cut an imposing figure.
‘Is this how you greet soldiers of the Empire, fleeing from us and then facing us with weapons drawn and blood in your minds?’ The huge man rumbled. ‘Put your toys away before you hurt yourselves’.
Tapper slowly walked to stand with the group of sailors, ‘Chapel… I didn’t expect to see you so far from the Emperor. Could your master not stand your stench anymore? How did you find me’
Chapel’s beard split into a grin, ‘I got my hands on Skulk in Trak, he sang like a bird after a few hours of ‘attention’. Looks like you’ve run out of places to hide Tapper. Hand it over and no one gets hurt’
‘As if I’d believe that, you’d kill us just for the fun of it, like you did with the rest’ Tapper replied, his voice hard and full of hate.
‘Don’t get it wrong Tapper, I killed them on orders, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.’ Chapel unsheathed his greatsword, a huge piece of steel. ‘But you are right. Men, kill them all; we don’t need answers, just the amulet.’
As one the soldiers bared their steel and advanced on the crew. The main body of men moved toward the center of the deck where Tapper and the sailors were, but some men detached and instead advanced towards Glenn and the group, a flash of lightning and thunder accompanying them.
Hargrave's blade was out of his scabbard before the first plank hit the deck, and his shield unslung from his back even as the first boot crossed onto their ship. Something was wrong here, even more so than the unnatural windlessness that suddenly befell them would indicate. It was the unnatural lust for blood and combat that these soldiers displayed that concerned the master at arms. He'd met such men often and in larger numbers than this during his storied tours in the army, both those that would bare steel against him and those that were supposed to be his allies.
And it never failed to unnerve him. How anyone could want the death of their fellows above all else was beyond his comprehension, and certainly beyond his moral code to accept. So, while he listened to the conversation between Tapper and Chapel intently, his teeth clenched and ground together as his ire rose. He forced himself to stop abusing his molars for a moment when the order to attack was given, and cleared his throat loudly as the men march under their leader's command.
"Chapel, is it? Well then Chapel, I suggest this with your best interests in mind, but you'd be well advised to take your men back onto your ship and claim we were lost to the storm. For if you don't, every man standing between you and I is going to die, and then if you aren't already a corpse ready to be tossed over the side, you'll earn the death you deserve for your bloodthirst at the end of my blade." Hargrave flexes his knuckles around the supremely balanced blade that he spoke of as his eyes rove over the scene, counting out just how many men he'd have to slay to reach the instigator of this conflict.
Dayne wasn't sure what the man Chapel was talking about, but Hargrave was right. Soldiers weren't supposed to kill other soldiers, and they certainly weren't supposed to like it. The scout kept quiet, for now. Diplomacy wouldn't be worth much, here. Instead he readied his longbow, testing the string and taking a few steps backwards, away from the men making for the group. The ship was only so big...
They'd need to do something about the other ship too, he realised. Perhaps not immediately, but it would need to be done. Keeping his longbow in one hand, Dayne headed for where he'd stowed his pack.
Ready longbow, move to wherever he put his pack. It's probably closeby, since he was securing it a moment ago.
‘Men, kill them all; we don’t need answers, just the amulet.’
Oh gods. It wasn't just seasickness making Eckhard's stomach roll any more. "Surely there's been some mistake," he said feebly. "We're all loyal Imperial subjects." But the soldiers didn't seem to care, and Eckhard could only ball his fists as he watched them approach ...
I'm going to assume that Eckhard doesn't have any weapons on him, as he'd have no reason to bring them above deck. He'll defend himself and fight back only if attacked.
The stormy seas had been rather disagreeable with Wilhelm and the constant rocking had left his insides all shaken up. And once the water stops trying to toss us off the boat, this lot comes up and seems to want to pull the same thing anyhow. Wonderful time to realize I missed my chance to learn how to swim before now.
Though the words had stung his ears quite clearly, the man simply couldn't bring himself to wish the same violence against them. That might change after a few cuts or near misses but some things tended to stick when it had to do with one's life's work.
Rather than reach for a weapon (if it could even be called that), Wilhelm looked the deck over for a tub or barrel of tar. They used that stuff on ships to plug up leaks, right? Maybe they would have some on hand during a storm just in case something needed plugging up. Of course, being so sticky, tar was good for gumming up more than holes..
Spot check to locate any tar. If found, action will be to move toward it and toss a glob at the nearest attacker.
The main body of soldiers formed into an organised group and advanced on the sailors and Tapper, who quickly ran out of space to back away in. The soldiers advancing on the group brandished Imperial issue shortswords as well as bloodlust in their eyes.
Chapel turned his attention to the group and laughed, 'Aye, I'm sure that you are... But this is the Emperor's business, you just happen to be collateral.'
Tapper began to back up the stairs to the foredeck, 'Chapel, your fight is with me not these men.' The large man did not answer, but merely grinned and looked on.
Once again Eckhard felt it a split second before it happened, a sharp severing of power as the storm returned with force. The ships lurched forwards side by side as their sails filled and a sheet of rain swept over the deck.
Hargrave speaks no more, determined in his course of action even as gruesome as the outcome may be. Five men in his direct path between himself and this Chapel fellow, although the two closer to Chapel seem to be content on occupying themselves with the cowering sailors for the time being.
He would change that. The duty he had taken on his shoulders when he was inducted into the army was to spare as many lives as he possibly could, beginning with the ones on his side, and by accepting his money for this voyage, these sailors had gained themselves an ally. Tapper would answer for bringing this trouble on them once the fighting had finished, and it had better be a good answer at that.
But for now, there were men standing between him and his enemy, and he was going to rectify that situation.
Stepping forward, Hargrave brings his sword around silently, flicking it up at the nearest soldier and attempting to dig the blade in just under the man's armpit where he knew most armor was weak, and the ribs wouldn't stop the blow.
Hargrave is taking a 5ft step up and to the right to be next to the soldier farthest to the left of the ones engaging them. Then he'll make a single attack against the soldier with his longsword. He will also designate the soldier diagonally above and to the right of the one he's attacking for his Shield Block ability, so he has an effective AC 16 against that soldier.
Dayne retrieved his coil of rope and a grappling hook from his pack, considering for a moment and then removing his hatchet from the pack as well, attaching the weapon carefully to one of his belt loops and standing up. This wasn't a very good plan, but it would have to do for now. Straightening up, he watched the advancing soldiers, picking the nearest one to him that wasn't currently busy fighting Hargrave and firing a shot from his longbow.
Move action to retrieve stuff from his pack, standard action to attack with the bow.
+3 dex, +1BAB, +1 mwk, and +1 for point blank shot (1d20+6)
Damage, +1 PBS, +1 composite (1d8+2)
There it was again - that odd sensation. As the others helped the stand-off make the transition into an all-out mêlée, Eckhard shut his eyes. He tried to still his mind, ignoring the unfolding chaos and retreating to the calm, faithful core of his soul.
Adamat, grant me ... clarity.
As You KnowTM, Exeson, I'm not too familiar with D&D, so: can I try a Spellcraft check here? (1d10+1) Otherwise, Eckhard's not up to much unless someone attacks him first, which I think can't happen looking at the initiative order.
EDIT: Well that's probably not accomplishing anything.
Wilhem was quite aware of how cowardly it would be to run but he didn't consider himself as being any asset with a sword. Quite the contrary, the only blade he felt comfortable with was a scalpel and this was hardly the time to use one of those. However, he did recall there were some containers down below so perhaps he might be of some use by hurling about a bit of tar. While down there, he might as well look out for some fishing nets. Or large sheets of canvass or really anything that could be used to trip up their assailents.
Going to find said containers while keeping a look out for other mentioned items
Tapper began to retreat up the stairs of the foredeck, drawing a dagger as he went. Chapel moved to match the sapper, his coat sweeping behind the man. A sinister sound joins the scene as the huge man's laughter mingled with the wind.
The rain swirls around the deck as the fighting begins. The main body of soldiers advanced with menace yet met fierce opposition from the 'sailors' with a flurry of blows leaving none dead.
The soldiers attacking the group brandished their shortswords as they went to work but it was Hargrave who moved first, forcing a soldier to parry the blade. Taking advantage of the Knight's opening, another soldier stepped in and delivered a cut to Hargrave's side.
One soldier lost his footing on the slippery deck as he charged, only to be caught by the combined attacks from Eckhard and Dierna, and sprawled over. The weapons of the Imperial men managed to find the bodies of both Eckhard and Hargrave in the melee, drawing blood with short thrusts. An arrow bounced off a soldier's breastplate, Dayne's aim thrown off by the rolling of the ship.
Trying to do his best to avoid danger Glenn tripped over backwards during his retreat. The man barely had time to right himself before the who ship lurched with a grating crunch and he found himself back on the deck, the rest of the men on board doing their best to keep their feet.
The sound was loudest of all for Whilhelm, who had manged to slip into the hold and was rummaging around the hold. The lurch sent barrels and casks flying, forcing the man to duck. What made the man afraid, however, was the splintering sound coming from lower in the hold.
Hargrave utters no growl of pain or anger, accepting the blow as the consequence of battle that it was and turning his attention to the man who dealt it. If he didn't do something about the man, he'd soon have an opponent on either side of himself to deal with and would be at a great disadvantage, so he responded to the man's assault in kind with a thrust to his solar plexus. He's relying on the speed of the attack to prevent another parry, and hopefully carry it through the armor and into the soldier's torso.
Then, weighing his options, the retired brigadier takes a single step back towards his group and waits for a rebuttal.
AC: 15 (16 against soldier in D7)
Hargrave makes another attack on the soldier in D7 and then takes a 5ft step back to C6. He'll designate the same guy he's attacking for his +1 shield block bonus.
Taking note of the locations of rope and canvas, Wilhelm delved just a bit further as he sought out the source of the wreched splintering sound. Hopefully something large had fallen over and crushed a chair or something as the prospect of the ship making that noise was an 'unsettling' one.
Which, to any land-loving human, translated into 'terrifying'.
Last edited by Terumitsu : 10-19-2012 at 08:52 AM.
Dayne looped the rope over his shoulder, picking another target and edging to the side, nearer to where the gangplanks had been dropped. He fired off another shot at the closest soldier to himself, trying to clear the path to the gangplanks.
move over to the wall, fire. This should be enough to trigger skirmish, so...
(1d20+6) 1 BAB, 3 Dex, 1 Mwk, and 1 point blank shot (1d8+2) 1 Point blank, 1 Str +(1d6) Skirmish
I cannot believe this is happening thought Eckhard faintly. But as far as he could tell, he was fighting off Imperial soldiers who gave off the distinct impression of trying to kill him. He wasn't sure how long he could defend himself - being unarmed in addition to everything else - but the taciturn Geplite was still beside him, and right now only one soldier was standing in front of the penitent monk being awfully threatening. A few more seconds probably wouldn't kill him.
Wilhelm edged forwards down in the hold, hoping not to find what he thought was the source of the sound. Glancing down the hatch the man saw dark water rushing into the ship, a large rent in it's side. The man scrambled around the hold with a curse, begging any gods he held to find some tar. The hole would need to be plugged, and he knew tar was involved but that was about as far as his knowledge went.
On deck the fighting continued, with the sailors continuing to confirm suspicions that many of them were not sailors at all, but rather fought like soldiers. One Imperial man was down next to two sailors, their blood washed away by the rain.
Dayne scrambled up the stairs to the aftdeck on his hands and knees to stop himself falling over in the storm. This time he adjusted for the roll of the sea and his arrow caught a soldier in the neck, cutting short a cry of pain. The priest acquitted himself well, ducking a sword and cracking a soldier's nose with his fist. Grabbing hold of the dazed man's helmet Eckhard wrenched the soldier's head around with a sickening crunch.
Hargrave continued to trade blows with the soldiers, backing away from a potentially dangerous situation he found Dierna moving up to protect his exposed flank. Glenn remained frozen on the spot, mouthing a prayer that was lost in the howling wind.
On the foredeck Chapel and trapper Tapper, his sword held in front of him. 'Hand it over Tapper and I'll end this quickly, with little pain' roared the emperor's dog over the wind.
The sapper merely laughed, 'See Chapel, you get your powers from service to a god that does not care for you. who uses you.' Tapper's hands began to glow a faint reddish light, 'I, however, am not bound to service. Why beg for power when you can just take it.'
As he uttered the words he made a slashing motion in the air, leaving a rent of dark space that expanded. Out of the hole loomed a smokey figure, some demonic creature resembling a huge hound stepped forwards. It was furless, with charred black skin and red eyes. When the creature breathed out smoke rose from it's jaws.
Hargrave acknowledges Dierna with a grim nod, and then lashes out at his nearest opponent with his sword aimed low, targeting a vessel in the legs that he knows will bleed a man out quickly by experience.
As he does so, he shoulders his shield a bit higher, expecting retaliation from the soldier's friend.
Hargrave swings at the man in D7 while his player hopes he can roll above a 9 this time. He also targets the one in B7 for his shield block.
Attack Roll: +6 as always (1d20+6)
Damage: +3 strength (1d10+3)
AC 15 (16 against B7)
"Actions. Have consequences." Eckhard panted between breaths, as the soldier with the broken neck dropped. Adrenaline surged through his veins, leaving him little opportunity to weigh his conscience about killing an Imperial soldier. The appearance of the mystical beast gave him pause for a moment, but he knew he was committed to the fight now; gliding to the right, he aimed a low kick at the nearest soldier's shins.
I'd like to test either Knowledge (Arcana) or (Religion), whichever is relevant, to identify what Tapper summoned: (1d20+3)
Then a step to the east and an attack to the soldier to the north. If he's still not there, close with and attack the nearest soldier.
Dayne stepped forward, raising his bow again. He hoped he could repeat that performance, even without moving for a better angle. Likely Eckhard would be able to deal with the soldier he was fighting, so the scout's target was the next man in his way, instead.
5 foot step up to the top of the stairs, potshot at the guy at F8.
(1d20+6) 1 BAB, 3 Dex, 1 Mwk, and 1 point blank shot (1d8+2) 1 Point blank, 1 Str
boo. In that case, Dayne's using his move action to draw his sword, just in case he gets charged.
Tar was definitely something he wanted to find and now for more than just to trip up the assailents. Still, perhaps there was something he could do in the meantime. Depending on how large the hole was, perhaps he could make a sort of temporary plug by bundling up his traveling cloak, which was also good for keeping the splash of a roiling sea off of one, and sticking it in the gash.. Or maybe he could use that canvas if there would be enough to plug it.
Still, even if that did work, Wilhelm knew it was only a temporary measure and would start looking around again for tar. Maybe it was labled or something and he had just overlooked it? Maybe he could knock on the sides of the containers to figure out what it held or something? It was clear that he was not looking forward to what would happen if the ship went under. Just to be sure, though, he shouted out "We have a hole! A hole in the hold!" in case there was anyone nearby that could help him. He was a doctor, not a shipwright after all.