Balance

Helping

4th of Ready’reat 381 ONT, Champions Boot, Customs Pier, Lockland Port, Honastica 10:14pm

Hatrutt shivered as he walked the deck of the Champions Boot. It had been a long time since he had been expected to perform a watch. He had his blanket firmly wrapped around him, it dragged a bit behind has he trudged across the deck, both hands clutching his rapidly cooling tea desperately trying to pull every ounce of warmth from it before it was stolen to the abysmal climate that was Lockland in Ready’reat. He took a careful sip and shuffled up the steps to the bow deck, dutifully looking out and over the sides of the ships before sipping again. He knew he shouldn’t complain. His watch was a short one and posted early, Leslie, Thitmed and Belinda would be splitting the bulk of the night, but he had been asked to take an early watch to “renew old habits that had died out”. The old gnome grumbled as he waddled across the bow deck and down the steps to mid ship, carefully looking out over the sides before taking another pressure sip of the warm elixir that kept him moving. He looked back to the bridge where the watch candle was burning. Belinda bought these candles at every port. At the beginning of each night a candle was lit, until it burnt down to your line, you were still on watch. Hatrutt stared hard at the candle and estimated he’d been on watch almost eleven minutes, he sighed in discontent and began to shuffle again. He’d gone barley 4 feet when he saw a movement in the shadows… something was on the ship that wasn’t supposed to be. He clenched his teeth preparing for the icy blast of cold as he let his blanket fall onto the damp deck, he drew up his club from his belt and carefully stepped forward.

“You there, hiding in the rope… I see ya there” his little old voice called as he gestured with the club. Be in the cold or his nerves his hands were shaking now so much that he had trouble not spilling his tea.” Out from the pile of coiled rope came a small girl, she wore dark clothing and had smudged her face with coal dust “Mandy is that you? Ya nearly scared the wits out of me.” Hatrutt made a scene of reclipping his club to his belt, collecting his blanket and wrapping himself up in it. “I have half a mind to take that club to your behind Mandy, what are you doing out here, it’s way past your curfew” The girl straightened as she stood up. She was surprised as being caught, and being in trouble but she held firm. She had a little sack with her that had the handle to her little hammer sticking out

“I… I was going to go and help… Mr. Hiro, Mr. Thallion, Ms. Ouellette… all of them… I was gonna go and help”

“Go and help?… she was gonna go and help… She’s gonna go help” Hatrutt kept repeating the line each time with a different tone ranging from astonished to angry to knowingly, he finally seemed to settle on anger “Are you insane Mandy?… I know they are… but are you?”

“There my friends and ….” She was cut off before she could get too far

“Friends or not, no sane person agrees to go get into a fight with an unknown number of vampires!” Hatrutt threw his hands in the air to accent the point grimacing as the last of his now cold tea flung over his should and wetted his blanket to beyond saving. “Mandy they will kill you, the vampires will grab a little thing like you and do… well… they will do unspeakable things… I am sure Thalion and Flit and them told you as much” she nodded before speaking

“mmm hmmm,” she said with a little nod “but all the story’s speak of someone being told they are too little to go, and then they go and end up saving everyone…”

“That was your plan… to just show up and save everyone? They are story’s for a reason Mandy, by the great and wise Selwyn please smile upon this child who was clearly born without a single wit” the last part was spoken as prayer to on high “Mandy… humans are special, they often can’t handle sharing the world with dragons, and elves and dwarves and… well just about any other creature, so they write stories about how poor little humans with a good heart swoop in and save the day… I am sorry child, but vampires kill good hearted people just as quickly as everyone else, and humans quicker still” Mandy looked sad, and angry

“I can’t just stay here and do nothing while my friends are in danger” she said with a note of defiance. The old gnomes eyebrows furrowed at this

“Don’t worry Mandy, you won’t be doing nothing… cause once you’ve washed that fool coal dust from your face, you’re going to head down to the kitchen and wash every single dish…”

“Every single dish! That will take all night!” She said anger and depressed

“It better not take any longer, cause you’re gonna get a wallop from my ladle for every dish not finished when I come down to start breakfast… now go!” he said pointing. The girl held back her tears, albeit barley and stomped towards the ladder heading down to the galley. Hatrutt shook his head

“kids…”

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Of Hearths and Nightmares

27th of Fireseek, 371 ONT: Azulon, Fire Nation

Hikaru sat in the large armchair near the blazing hearth dreamily staring into the flames as they danced and capered about the logs for his amusement. It was warm beneath the blanket his father had placed over him and beyond the song of the fire there was only the steady scratch of father’s pen against the paper over at his desk. The light of the sun was long gone and in the darkness of the night and the cold that lay beyond these stone walls Hikaru could think of no place he wanted to be more.

His father worked tirelessly these days and relied heavily upon Ymeri’s gift to complete his work. He was like a ghost around the home and Hikaru’s mother, Midori, worried long into every night that he would come home safe. Hikaru didn’t understand why and when asked, his mother said only that his work was of the utmost importance and that what he did was going to pave the way for good change within the Fire Nation. “Then I shall protect him until his work is done!” Hikaru had proudly proclaimed full of youthful energy. His mother had hugged him tight with whispered words of how brave her little boy was and how lucky they were to have such an honourable son.

Which was why Hikaru was now fighting a losing battle with sleep. His father was still hours from being done but his eight year old body could not keep up. So his father had carried him to the great armchair and gently placed the blanket around him. “Sleep my son, sleep and dream of what the future will hold. When you wake come to me and tell me of what you dreamt so that I may work to make it come to pass.” And he slept in warmth and safety.

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!

The chambered echoed with the assault upon the door startling young Hikaru from his sleep.

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!

The door began to splinter and he climbed from the chair, small practice sword of bamboo shaking in his sleep-addled hands. His father was suddenly beside him pulling him back towards the armchair. “No my son, this is not your battle.” Lifting him back onto the chair Hikaru could see the bone deep weariness in the dark rings about his father’s eyes and for the first time in his life fear. “No matter what happens you do not move from here. Be silent, listen and remember all that happens.”

“But father, where are the temple guards? Should they not…” His father placed a finger over Hikaru’s lips silencing him once more.

“What should be right and honourable rarely withstands the influence of those with the power and wealth to change them. And those that do are silenced through other means.”

BOOM, BOOM, CRACK!

The door shuddered and gave way under the assault. Ichigo leaned close to his son and held him tight to his chest. “I am proud of you my son. So very proud. Become the man you were meant to be. Protect those who cannot protect themselves and save our nation from itself.” Ichigo pressed Hikaru back into the armchair once more signaling for silence as he strode away from his son and out of sight. Hikaru didn’t know what was happening but he would not disobey his father. Unshed tears glistened in his wide eyes as the flames burned brighter as if suddenly interested in what was about to happen.

Hikaru hear the stomp of many armoured and booted feet enter and a grunt of pain from his father followed by someone landing heavily on the stone floor. He winced and shut his eyes to block out that which he could not see but his mind showed him the scene anyway.

“Now there is something long in coming.” A new voice spoke, the man’s words were harsh with the dialect of Izumi. “How I have wanted you to kneel in my presence as you should for the one fated to become high priest of Azulon.”

“Fate has nothing to do with it Daichi,” Ichigo spat, “You’ve been funneling funds away from the temple to build your own little army. I’ve sent copies of my proof along with the writ you authorized to raise taxes on travelers outside the city. It is only a matter of time before you and the others are held to account for your crimes.” Heavy sounds of fists filled the chamber for an eternity to you Hikaru before things became silent again.

“Oh if only that was the case.” Daichi’s words smiled cruelly to Hikaru, “But you know not how far my reach extends. Your little plan has backfired and yes, even one of your own betrayed you to me.”

“No…” Ichigo was worried.

“Yes, the letters never reached their planned destinations. Oh and I have been given authority to apprehend you for the crime of heresy to Ymeri and treason to the Fire Nation.”

“You lie to easily Daichi, the others will not always follow you so blindly. Some will come to see you for the snake you truly are.”

“Bah, the only ones with enough power to oppose me are Jiro and Akira and I am binding them to me through the marriage of my sons to their daughters. We will all rise together and both the nobles and clergy will fall before us or be crushed beneath us. Our stars are rising Ichigo and you could have too but you were too stubborn to see the vision we offered you.”

Again Ichigo spit. “Oh I saw. I saw how you will destroy our nation. How you do not believe in the will of Ymeri and how she protects our people. No, with you at its head she will turn from us completely. I will not abandon her or my nation for the likes of you. Ymeri does not take kindly to those who break faith with her.”

“Ymeri? Bah, she is nothing more than a figurehead, a false god we use to guide the nation where we want it to go. It has always been this way. Let fools and idiots believe in that garbage. We, the Lords of Fire, are the true masters.” There was a moment of silence as Daichi grabbed the lamp from Ichigo’s desk. “But I think it fitting that you have chosen to die by the flame than be taken alive. Heretics are often too far gone in their delusions to be reasonable anyway.” The lamp smashed down over Ichigo and the fire sprang to life engulfing him in seconds. His screams pierced through Hikaru rooting him in fear to his spot. Hikaru wanted to cover his ears, to stop hearing the pain of his father being burned alive.

“Cut his legs and arms so he can’t escape.” Daichi’s voice announced and four swords were drawn in answer. Daichi leaned close to the struggling Ichigo. “To show I am an honourable man Ichigo Yamamoto, I will spare your family and proclaim that they knew nothing of your betrayal to our Nation. I may even adopt your son as one of my own and raise him to eventually despise you and what you were.” The blades fell and Daichi’s laughter mingled into nightmares for Hikaru with his father’s final moans.

The booted feet turned and left following after Daichi back the way they came raising the cry of fire to rouse the temple. Hikaru bolted towards his father skidding to a halt as he neared the burning desk his father lay against and seeing the unmoving form tore all reason from his save one. Flee!

And so he ran. He ran from the room and from the unknowing temple guards. He ran until his legs gave out and he collapsed spent against the side of a building somewhere deep in the heart of Azulon where the first fiery rays of dawn could touch him. There he cried, wailed his heart raw at the sun and how helpless he felt. How could he go back to his mother having failed both her and father? Nothing would ever be the same, nothing…

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Stirings Pt 2

3rd of Ready’reat 381 ONT, Thimes Way, Just off the 3rd Circuit Manor District, Don-Ton 2:14pm

Gavroche was cutting through the manor district, he was lucky, and Covafac had been right, a change of clothes and a bath can go a very long way towards not having the guard hassle you. He and his compatriots had few friends in the inner circuits, but the few they had were well worth the risk of informing. He had just passed off the word to a very powerful ally and was rushing back to inform Covafac of their adherence to the plan. He turned down the Prime Rose Path and stopped cold in his tracks. At the end of the path stood two large Black Guard. Their armor and suits sucking the warmth and light from around them. They were intimidating, and since the nobles often hated the feeling of them nearby he knew there was not good reason for them to be here. He bent down pretending to tie his shoe, when he heard one speak

“You… Gnome… Approach NOW!” the voice was like a rusty chain being pulled through a metal tube, cold and metallic with a dangerous edge to it. Gavroche looked up at the Black Guard some thirty feet away and gestured to his chest. The Black Guard nodded confirming. Gavroche did what any young rebel would do… he ran. He ran fast scrambling over a fence and cutting across a yard. Then climbing under a hedge and rolling towards a wall where he climbed to a nearby rooftop. From here the gnome slid down the ease trough and ran down the alley taking a series of complicated turns. As he ran he pulled off his fancy hat and coat, he pulled a red necker from his pocket. Two more turns put him into a park. He stopped by a fountain and wetted his hand slicking back his hair. He then tied the necker around his neck and began to walk with a small strut in a calm manner. Covafac had told him that a running man was guilty, if he could walk and blend in his pursuers would often miss what they didn’t know they were looking for. He turned down a path picking a late blooming daisy and walking down a path a few steps focusing to get control of his breath, that is when he bumped into her.

“Oh my… I’m sorry, I…” he looked up and was immediately lost. Before him stood what he would perhaps describe as the most beautiful women in the world

Please Listen while reading

She had a ponytail, brown, smooth, always existent. This is what made her unique, as if she could tie all her troubles away with that simple blue ribbon, tightly holding her luscious hair. Her face was formed oh-so perfectly on Hithilum’s mighty forge. She was unspoiled perfection from the moment she was born. Destined to be someone with her ever changing magic eyes, the eyes that turned green in the sun, but were brown at all other times. The slender gnomish body, curvy, somewhat delicate, was strong and powerful. She was warm, kind of like an aura that blossomed off of her when she was happy. She has the most petite, wonderful hands a woman like her could have.

Gavroche said nothing he just dumbly stood their, the flower half extended
“Is that for me?” the girl asked, her voice like a double rainbow at sunset. He wasn’t sure how but he managed to nod. She laughed, a sound more delightful then any he had previously heard, then she noticed his state. “Oh my… are you ok? You appear to be out of breath” Gavroche felt the Everlast smile upon him and give him the words he needed at that moment

“It is because the Lady has stolen it” he said in barley a whisper, for the rest of his days he knew that this would be the most suave thing he would have ever said. She blushed deeply at his words before offering out her hand for him to kiss

“I am Fantine”

“Gavroche” he replied bending and kissing her hand. He offered his arm and she took it, the two walking arm and arm through the gardens of Don-Ton.

Today I saw you and spoke to you for the first time.
It was like an earthquake; everything in me was overturned, the graves of my heart were opened and my own nature was strange to me.
I am old, and I believed I had reached the autumn of life.
I had wandered far, known much and lived many lives. The maker had spoken to me, manifesting Himself in many ways; to me angels had revealed themselves and I had not believed them. But when I saw you I was compelled to believe, because of the miracle that happened to me

A Poem by Raven Everlast

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Pillow Talk

14th of Harvester 379 ONT, Better Days in the Rehume Port

Orange light bled in though Aurellia’s eyelids, and banished the last of her dreams. She sighed and rolled over as she stretched, smiling at the softness of the sheets, knowing at once where she was and reaching out to pull her lover closer. Her hand found nothing but a cold bed beside her, and her brow furrowed. Opening her eyes slowly, she scanned the room. To the right of the large bed sat a writing desk, looking at it, Aurellia couldn’t help blushing as the memory of Serenity lifting her on to it and dropping to her knees the night before rushed into her mind. Her hips began twisting slightly as she remembered her palms gripping the edge of the wood, Serenity’s strong hands holding her hips firmly in place as she squirmed. She sighed again, more of a breathless moan this time, and sat up taking in the rest of the room.

The dresser and armoire to the left of the bed were both closed. She saw herself reflected back to her in the small dressing mirror; her light rose hair appeared red in the strong morning sunshine her pale skin almost looked warm. She realized that sunlight meant the curtains were open, revealing the ship’s deck beyond the stateroom, and Aurellia quickly pulled the quilted blanket up to cover her breasts from anyone who might be looking in. The ship’s deck seemed to be deserted, so she quickly slid out of the bed to the floor and crawled to pick her clothes up and dress quickly.

The door to the stateroom opened, and Aurellia’s blush returned, covering much of her body in a pink hue.

“Well this is the best thing I’ve ever seen waiting for me in my room”

Aurellia glanced back over her shoulder at Serenity, “so you were a nun before you met me?”

Serenity kicked the door closed with the side of her boot, placed a couple of covered dishes on the dresser, and sat down on the bed. She began removing her boots, untying the long laces slowly.

“Far from it, but you are something else.”

Aurellia smiled and gathered up her shirt, slipped it on and began looking for her panties. She caught sight of their blue lace peeking out from under the desk, and crawled over to grab them.

“By the sumptuous tits of Aleau, you are killing me over here.”

Coyly, she smiled over her shoulder again, “I’m just getting dressed.”

Serenity pulled open her own shirt and let it slide slowly off her shoulders, “Why?”

“I have work to do”

Serenity laid herself out across the bed, “no you don’t, what work?”

“The Scurvy Naive should be back in the next few days, I need to prep supplies for them and-”

“Don’t”

Aurellia looked at her quizzically.

“Don’t go, stay here with me.”

Aurellia stood up and walked over to the bed, where Serenity lay. All the tiny hairs on her body had begun to stand on end. She could feel her own chest swell as she looked at this beautiful woman laid out before her.

“If I stayed, what would we do?”

Serenity’s eyebrow raised as she started untying the front of her pants. She held Aurellia’s gaze as she lifted her hips up into the air and slid them down slightly, “I have some ideas, what would you like to do?”

Aurellia pulled the leather pants off the rest of the way, and dropped them to the floor. She felt bolder when she was with Serenity than she ever had before. She lifted Serenity’s leg and began kissing a Whirl just above her ankle, “what kind of ideas?”

“Well for starters, I’d be willing to do almost anything just to watch you crawl away from me again.”

“Anything, you say?”


The two lay tangled on the bed, Aurellia’s body still writhing slightly as the waves of her orgasm broke farther and farther from the shore of her consciousness. Serenity continued to stroke her hand up and down her lovers side as she marveled at bond she felt, and wondered what to call it. She had enjoyed many encounters with women before, but none of them had lived in her mind and heart so vividly in their absense as Aurellia did.

She smiled to herself and grabbed one of the covered dishes off of the dresser. She brought it right over and sat beside Aurellia. Removing the lid, the air was immediately filled with the sweet smell of ripe berries. Aurellia’s eyes opened wide. "What did you – " she stopped as she saw Serenity lift the largest, reddest strawberry she had ever seen and offer it to her. As Aurellia took a bite she felt lighter, the tastes exploded in her mouth and before she could even swallow, the words “I love you” tumbled from her juice – stained lips.

Serenity placed the dish on the floor and crawled back into bed. Looking into her lover’s eyes she asked, “You do? Or was that just the strawberries and sex talking?”
Aurellia looked right back and without hesitating answered, “I think I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you.”

Serenity smiled, “So it wasn’t just me…”

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Stirings (Pt 1)

Hithaday the 3rd of Ready’reat 381 ONT, 10:14am, Macey’s Buns & Bakery, 3rd spoke – 6th circuit, Don-Ton

Covafac looked up as he heard the door in the outer room open. The old pech signaled the room to be quiet as he aged hands reached for his trusty short sword.

Tap
Tap tap tap
Tap
Tap tap tap tap
Tap

The timeworn pech relaxed a little, as did his companions as they recognised the code. He nodded to a young gnome, Gavroche, to open the door. In came an elven women, Azelma.

“Friends,” she said as she approached the huddled group “the rumors are indeed true, Lord Strahd has closed the city”

“Just Strahd,” Covafac said “… By The Stone, he is no Lord of ours anymore” there was a general murmur of acceptance to this. Azelma nodded and continued

“My connections with Fluid Dynamics unloaded two more crates, both filled with short swords, but were very clear that they would not risk smuggling under Strahds new decree, we are well and truly on our own”

“Where does that put our stores Bamatabois?” Covafac asked of a pudgy old dwarf. The dwarf made a few markings on a scroll before responding

“About 1,200 swords, 200 spears, 150 mixed weapons… axes, hammers and the like and maybe a thousand knives and daggers… we are very short on armor and potions, of that we can only equip fifty or so humans and maybe double that in dwarves.” The group was silent for just a moment before the pech spoke again

“How do we stand with supporters?” this time the young gnome Gavroche spoke up

“Who are ready to take this all the way?” he asked… the pech nodded “the dock workers might join us if things go well, but they are unwilling to sign on yet. The federation of carpenters, masons and lamplighters are in; as are the Porters, the dry smiths and grooms. All said we have about 2,000 folk with battle experience and another 3000 without. The Church of Moredakka has been back and forth on its support, The church of Kelezandri has told us firmly that they are following the laws of Don-Ton, even though fluid dynamics has been actively working with us. The church of Selwyn, Hithilum and Yolo have all implied aid should it be needed but won’t commit money or spells upfront. We have seven clerics to Raven and another two to Yemeri and a cleric to Aurora who have all said they would join our cause. The Wizards Guild remains firmly in Strahds pocket as does the Alchemist guild.” The group nodded at this Bamatabois spoke up again

“The rogue, the thieves guild, the house of K and the pathfinder society have all claimed neutrality. The Were community has been optimistic in their talks, but nothing concrete.

BAM

Covafac slammed his fist on the table “The people will rise up, they will join us, the guard, is the guard peoples guard, not Strahds, they will not see citizens slaughtered by undead in the name of Law. He is a tyrant and an abomination and I for one did not fight devils and thirty years to die in a city ruled by undeath… the people will join us and rally to our banners! Speak with your cells, disperse the weapons, the time of action is soon, we will take down Strahd and all the sycophant nobles who do his bidding, Don-Ton will once again be a free city!” the assembled group cheered corralling to their leaders cause.

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Repairs

1st of Ready’reat, #81ONT, Deck of the Champions Boot, Lockland Port, Honastica

Mandy watched as Mr. Cane and Mr. Ironbraid let out another long slew of curses, the two were precariously perched on the mast attempting to hammer a faulty pulley and winch back into shape

“I’m telling you Thitmed it’s not going to work, It’s needed to be replaced for three ports, now it really needs to go” Mr. Crane said as the dwarf dropped into a long slew of curses having injured his thumb and nearly falling off the mast.

“It still has plenty of life in ‘er, It just needs ta be coaxed… this piece is elven made, it’d cost a fortune to try and get one ‘ere. We need ta make it work until we can get ta the Court… or at least maybe Don-Ton”

“You want to sail to Don-Ton without a mast winch? You begging Kelezandri to sink us?” Mr. Crane accused. Thitmed glared at him but looked at the broken piece in his hand and back down to Belinda and Mandy on the deck.

“Lindy, ask around in town if there is anyone who understands elvish ships or mechanics, maybe we will luck out… if not Leslie you and I are up here tomorrow and by Aurora’s Furry Pits we’ll make the Drokk of a thing work” he tossed the piece down Mandy while he turned to climb down the mast. Mandy caught it easy and looked at the odd elven machine. She looked back up to Thitmed tucking the piece under her arm, and then she felt a tingle. He looked down and saw the piece touching her new apron, the world around her seemed to glow a yellow and red hue. She held the piece in her hand and saw it begin to glow a dull golden yellow. Before she watched as the yellow piece disassembled itself into all its base pieces, spin slowly and reassemble itself. She watched it do this several times before at last it stopped and she looked up

“I said, are you ok Mandy?” Mandy blinked a few times, Belinda had a hand on her shoulder Mr. Crane and Mr. Ironbraid were now beside her looking at her with concern. She nodded once and a grin came to her face as she worked up the courage to speak.

“Mr. Ironbraid, Ms. Featherfoot… I think I can fix this” she held up the broken pulley-winch. They gave her a long appraising look.

“Aye Lass, it don’t look all that hard I know, but there are a few parts on this ship that are special, that require an elven smith or a master shipwright to repair, and that thar is one o them” Thitmeds voice was soft as he explained. Mandy took no offense and nodded to him

“I know, but I just, I just kinda saw it… I know how it was put together… I know all kinds of things, like the fact that you can’t mix the gold for the inlay here unless you do it by moonlight, or the fact that these pieces are two different metals even though they look like the same… I don’t know how I know, but I know… the apron kinda told me… I can do this” she looked at Thitmed, Leslie and Belinda each in turn. It was Belinda who spoke first

“Let her try Thitmed, if it doesn’t work I will pay for the wasted materials out of my share, so we have nothing to lose” the dwarf’s looked softened a bit.

“Alright, she can try, but I am not putting a new piece on unless it passes the Captain’s muster, made by Mandy or No” to this there was a series of nods. Mandy smiled, she just hoped she would be able to live up to the new expectations she’d set for herself.

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Linage

28th of Patchwall, 381 ONT, Amberdale, Kenzrenad, 7:45am, The Battle of the Burn

Harold “Prancer” Forbes Stepped out of the trench swinging his longsword in an artistic arc before stabbing neatly in the chest of his enemy, he knew his dance well and went to the go to method of calming his nerves. With each delicate movement he listed a member his family tree. He saw an enemy approach with a spear and brought his sword up to parry

“Harold Forbes, Brother of Gregory Forbes…” he twisted his wrist causing the enemy to drop his spear and thrusted “son of Caleb Forbes, married to Sara Forbes” he pulled the sword out flicking the blood from it as he dashed forward with a series of quick thrusts designed to drive two attackers back and give the spearmen time to retreat “She was the daughter of Andrew and Moore, oldest son of Lukus Moore… AHHHH” he grunted as he took a nasty cut to his left arm, he hopped forward with a quick series of strikes before disarming the one foe, a quick redirect allowed him to stab the other in the leg “Lukus Moore was son of Anton Moore, known as Anton the brave to some, or Anton wielder of the sword of Gareth” He dropped to one knee throwing a hand out wide and dramatically as he stabbed forward slicing into the stomach of his attacker his hand had batted away the lazy spear thrust from the other assailant and he turned standing and offering a clean sweeping strike to behead the injured foe “Anton’s Father was Hugh Moore, he was the one who found the sword of Gareth and presented it to Paloma Moore, his wife as a show of worthiness”. He looked about seeing he was the only one left in the trench and began to fall back to the town. He was half way there when three riders reigned in and pulled swords. The blade spun easily in his hand as he set his stance wide, testing them with a small dance forward and back again “You see Paloma Moore, was the Daughter of Brennan Keeton, heir to the house of Keeton after his old brother Declan had been killed in the orc uprising of 221ONT, many an orc paid the price of that death with blood, I will tell you” as he spoke he danced and whirled blocking blades and flicking his out, mostly he was riling the horses making it too hard for them to stay mounted and attack him, finally the three dismounted and fanned into a triangle.

BOOM

The roadway caved in, he would not be entering town this way. The men approached menacingly but Harold continued “you don’t seem to get it, Declan was the son of Ethan Keeton, who married the elven princess Amlaruil. Her father bestowed the Helm of Honour to Ethan after he had saved an elven caravan including his daughter from nine angry frost giants. He quickly danced towards one of the three forcing him to stagger back, turning on a dime he spun around pulling a dagger and throwing at another of his attackers killing him. That left him with two. Two more attackers departed the city joining the crowd, bringing it up to four. Harold gritted his teeth. A silver arrow streaked down killing one of his original three, bringing the total back down to three. Harold shrugged and rolled the blade in his hand, lamenting that it was not a rapier, the proper weapon for a man of civility. He dashed towards one of the new attackers with a flurry of jabs and strikes “Ethan was the only son of Brenna Keeton the first, who was the second son of Camdon Keeton, who famously negotiated the peace between Cainia and Ahonem, a peace that still stands to this day.” He blocked a blow leaning low and scooped up some sand throwing it back into the face of one of his rushing attackers, he ducked a sideswipe reversing the grip on his blade killing the other man who had rushed him. The two staggered back as he breathed heavy sucking in air and coughing from the dust and smoke. He eyed the other two who seemed near as tired as he, he stood a little straighter feinted and the man ahead and then turned bringing the weight if his attacks down on the other man who was still clawing at his eyes to remove the sand. “Camdon’s father was Noah Keeton, married to Isabel the lovely, a former priestess of Aleau who had fallen in love with a knight, Sir Camdon Keeton had traveled all the way to Rehume and stood in the high temple of Aleau, some say he spoke with the Goddess herself to free his love from her vows that she would take no husband. The goddess agreed seeing the strength of their love and they were married” the sand eyed man was dead but it had cost him a sword thrust in the back of his calf wild he dropped to one knee swinging the sword out wildly to gain some space. “Noah was the Jaylen Keeton prince of Cainia” he threw himself forward plunging his word into his attacker even while taking another hit in the ribs, he twisted his blade “Jaylen’s father was Liam Keeton… Oldest son of Arthur Keeton, First King of Cainia, hero of the Great War, Hero of the Runes Wars, Liberator of High Port and Former Knight of Tukin!” he yelled the last part as he rammed home his blade killing his final foe. That done he slumped back into the ground. He looked up into the sky breath coming raggedly, then he saw the little orange fireballs arc towards the town and closed his eyes “I’m sorry father… I have failed you” he whispered as the fire began to rain down over Amberdale.

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Check your pulse

I felt a helpless desperation as I watched Hiro ride for help. Now I had to see if anyone else survived. Looking at the inferno where I’d last seen Flit and Aurellia it didn’t seem possible. I stroked Elthorns beak as she perched beside me.
“I know you’re tired and hurt, but we aren’t finished. Our friends may be lying injured dying even as we speak. I need you to scour the field look for even the smallest movement. If it’s the enemy they can wait. We will find the survivors of Amberdale first. I’m going to see if the is anyway back into town. There may be people trapped.”
Ethoron took to the sky, I could tell from here that there would be no going back the way I’d come so I began picking my way carefully around the raging inferno. Please Sylvanus let there be survivors.

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When It Rains, It Pours Pt 1

28th of Patchwall, 381 ONT, Kezrenad Strait, 8:14am, 24 kilometers from Harbinger

Thitmed let out a long low whistle with a happy smile; he waved the Strix down as the large ship had noted their flags and was changing course to dock with them. The OHCS Roebuck looked to be a formidable vessel, at least twice the size of the Champions Boot, with iron sides and an array of cannons, if they could be bought they’d be a formidable ally. Thitmed didn’t recoginise the prefix, but with so many ships hitting the trade lanes these days that wasn’t unusual

As the two ships pulled alongside each other a ladder was dropped from the much higher deck of the Roebuck, a voice sounded off the side

“Two may board” Thitmed shrugged and approached the ladder turning back to his crew

“Leslie, the Boot is yers till I get back, Lindy, yer with me” there was a nod around the ship as Leslie moved from the Bow up on to the Stern Deck to take command. Thitmed climbed the ladder and crawled onto the deck of the Roebuck, turning and helping Lindy up. Thitmed’s breath was stolen as he regarded the ship… she was beautiful, strong clean lines, a uniformed crew, and she sparkled, she must have been recently launched. Her gunner crews stood at their posts the very image of discipline while no less than three sailors scrubbed at the deck in various locations. Thitmed glanced at Lindy to be sure she was seeing all of this she nodded and the two looked forward as a group approached them.

The one that stood out most was a large Grey Minotaur, he wore a blue officer’s coat trimmed in silver and a large try corner hat. His belt held a pistol in it and a great scimitar. To his right stood a much shorter blue skinned Undine, he wore a similar uniform to the captain but held not pistol, his scimitar was traded for a rapier as well. At last there was a darker skinned human wearing yellow robes and a matching turban, he had a neatly trimmed goatee and mustache. He held no weapons but his hands were adorned with many large baubled rings. His neck also showed a heavy golden chain nearly as thick as Thitmed’s thumb. Unconsciously Thitmed rubbed his grubby hand on his pants, wishing the Captain were here for such a meeting.

“G’day to ya, I’m Thitmed Ironbraid, First Mate of the Champions Boot, down yonder” he was nervous, and regretted pointed, as if they would not know to which boat he was referring. “This here be Belinda Featherfoot, Ships Quartermaster”. The Minotaur let out a large grin and stepped forward, he had a tranquil way about him that put everyone at ease

“Glad to meet you Mr. Ironbraid, Ms. Featherfoot…” he stepped forward and shook hand with each as he spoke “My name is Captain Joval Kinnotox, this here is my First Mate Khov Rodak” he gestured to the Undine who kindly stepped forward to shake hands. “and of course our benefactor representative Arjun Vihaan” he said ushering to the yellow robed man. Arjun did not shake hands but put his hands together smiling and offering a small bow of his head to each of the guests. “You raised a flag of distress Mr. Ironbraid, how can the Roebuck be of service to you?” the Captain finished

“Aye, and thank ya for stopping,” Thitmed began “We are on a mission of morality at the moment, and have been trying to rescue goodly people from certain death, my ship has neither the man power nor the capacity to move the people or defend them, begging your pardon Captain, but I am asking for whatever help you might be willing to offer.” The Captain’s face darkened as he heard the tiding and he looked to his first mate before replying

“I am not sure how much assistance I can offer you Mr. Ironbraid, while I applaud your morality, especially in a time were civility and decency seem to be on the decline, I am afraid I am on a mission of high import myself, we are hunting vile pirates and thieves, the longer I tally the longer lead they can get, you understand?”

“Please… Captain Kinnotox, we need your help, surely saving hundreds of people is more important than catching a few pirates?” Belinda pleaded.

“Aye, and we could pay for your time, I have good silver that I’d be willing to part with to compensate yer crew for its time” Thitmed added. The Captain gave them a sad smile

“It is not a matter of coin Mr. Ironbraid, Normally I would agree with you, but this ship was commissioned by the Omar Trading Company to hunt and sink Pirate Ships that cause these waters to be so dangerous, I don’t have the freedom to divert course no matter how good the cause…”

“Perhaps there is another solution…” Arjunn Vihaan interrupted “Pirates are the mission Captain Kinnotox, but I have other objectives in this region, and hearts and minds is indeed one of them, with the offer of silver and aiding the locals, perhaps this would be an equitable situation…” Arjunn continued at the Cpatian turned to hear him out. That was lucky, Thitmed was sure he was white as a ghost as he realised what ship he stood on, it took all his concentration to keep his face neutral. Finally he snapped out of it realising the Captain was talking to him

“Well that settles it then, have your ship lead the way Mr. Ironbraid, we can divert and give you a few days, this will be a good opportunity to test our crew before we bring them to bare against hardened pirates”

Thitmed swallowed hard before nodding and replying

“Al’right… Thank ya…come on Lindy, we got’s no time to waste” almost like a robot he nodded stiffly to the Captain and Crew and turned and clambered down the ladder trying to figure out what he was going to do next.

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Battle of the Burn Pt 2

28th of Patchwall, 381 ONT, Amberdale, Kenzrenad, 7:39am, The Battle of the Burn

Loann Rogard watched from the trench as Hiro walked across the great field to taunt the wretched Count Aderal. He worked hard to steady his breathing. He’d been in many a tight scrap before. Growing up in Pirates Swoop who hadn’t? but this was different, he wasn’t on a ship, and this wasn’t a barroom brawl or a heist, it was a flat out open combat in a field, the kind of things that Knights and Pikemen did, not scoundrels and sailors. He heard a shout from yonder

“KILL HIM, KILL THEM ALL” followed by the clicks of crossbows and the thundering of hooves.

“Steady” he urged to the miners beside them, the huddled in the trench holding their spears, they were nervous, and had every right to be. Loann had opted to keep his scimitar as opposed to switch to the spear. It seemed more comfortable, and his time on the Boot had given his voice an easy loud timber that let him be heard over the coming thunder of death. “Ready Spears” he called and watched as the miners set their spears properly, he looked down the trench and could see Digger doing much the same, Thalion and Flit were on the end prepping themselves. He grimaced in satisfaction, they were good sailors those two, and calm before the fight, if he lived he’d be sure that Thitmed heard about it. Hiro slid down the trench and scambled up the other side continuing his run, already they could hear the screaming of horses as some of the traps had been sprung.

“FIRE” someone yelled from behind. A flurry of crossbow bolts raced from behind and shot over the trench slamming into the coming onslaught. Loann loosened and tightened the grip on his scimitar.

“NOW!” Digger yelled

“NOW” He echoed immediately, the spears came up and they descended into hell.

The first moments of battle were lost to Loann, he had no idea what happened after the first horses hit the spears. But now he was in the trench scimitar spinning fending off three brigands. His consciousness caught up to his body as he heard himself screaming at the few nearby spearmen

“FALLBACK! FALlBACK TO THE DROKKING TOWN” he turned narrowly avoiding a sword and skewered a brigand, he kept the momentum in the spin reaching out and grabbing one of the gnomish minners, he shook the fellow and screamed in his face “FALL THE DROKK BACK!” the miner nodded and pulled away.

SLASH

“AHHHHHHGGGHHHH!!!!” Loann let out a primal scream as a sword had slashed down removing his outstretched hand. He turned shooting out an elbow into his attacker’s face then reversing grip on his sword and killing the man. The other two in the ditch approached, one moving to get the poor miner who was scrambling up the back end of the ditch. Loann jumped in the way kicking the attacker and swinging his sword wildly to buy space. It worked and both squared off with him. It was getting hard to stand as he watched blood freely poor from the stump of his left arm. He heard more thundering and saw a horse coming over the ditch to ride him down. Instinct took over and he spun slashing the horse and stepping in close to one of his attackers, the mounted prick either didn’t see his ally or didn’t care as he lanced out with his spear even as he was dying, the spear went through the bandit and deeply into Loanns leg. Then the horse gave out collapsing into the ditch rider and all, on top of Loann, the bandits and anyone else who had fallen.

The trench had become a mass grave.

To Be Continued

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