Balance

Roebuck Chase

11th of Planting 383 ONT, The Roebuck, Upper Promethean River, Cainia, 6:31pm

“Mr. Rodak, collect my senior officers, and have them assemble in the briefing room… have the Bosun send a skiff to the Magdalen to assure they need no assistance and get a full report from them” Captain Kinnotox said, his voice showed his annoyance as the anchor took hold and he watched the Champions Boot flitter away behind the now flaming river.

“Aye Captain” The First Mate called as he snapped a firm salute and went about his business. The Captain turned to his Mate, a stocky dwarven women who had served for some time.

“You have the Bridge Ms. Carole, I suspect we will be hold position for at least an hour”

“Aye Captain” She said, stepping up to the helm and assuring all was as it should be. The Captain turned and stocked off the bridge, quickly heading down a short flight of steps and entering into the briefing room. It wasn’t long before a small dwarven boy, maybe twenty years of age entered; The cabin boy nodded to the Captain before lighting a brazier and placing a full kettle on it. He went to a near drawer pulling out tea cups and set the table. The Captain took his seat his fingers drumming on the table as he awaited his officers. It was under five minutes before they all drifted in, each knowing their seat and taking it. Once assembled the Captain began.

“Liam, how long before you can resuit the griffins into scouting armor?” The Captain asked, looking at one of the twins who sat at the end of the table

“Maybe fifteen minutes, but I wouldn’t recommend it Captain… They tire faster in the heavy barding, but that other ship as an eagle rider… a real one from Wing Hove… I guess what I am saying is he knows what he is doing, I wouldn’t want to risk the Griffin’s without their armor Sir” the half stammered out, he had always been more comfortable with animals then people. The Captain scratched his chin in thought before responding

“What’s the flight time that they can handle in the heavy gear?”

“Maybe twenty minutes Captain… I can stretch that to thirty if the wind is with us and we are gliding home, much longer and we can have troubles especially if you want them to be battle ready” Annaka replied for her brother. The Captain shot a look at his First Mate, understanding the unspoken question Khov spoke up

“Maybe ten kilometers of scouting sir… not much farther, and he is right… The eagle will catch them even if they are in their light barding… best be ready for battle when it comes” The Captain nodded briskly

“OK, keep them in the heavy armor for now… give them a fifteen minute breather and then have them do an initial scout… do not engage, just get eyes on the Champions Boot again for us”

“I can’t believe the crew of the Champions Boot would do this? Blow up the tavern? Murder guards? Steel our wages? Light the town on fire… it just doesn’t seem like them” Kennedy said a little sadly

“Actually lighting the town on fire is kind of their MO” Khov said with a bit of a grin, the Captain didn’t seem to find the jest funny though, giving his First Mate a stern glare

“Believe it…” he said to the sorceress “I have confirmation that this was the same command crew as at Kezranad, they committed these atrocities and broke the law… that makes them pirates, which puts this squarely in our domain”

“Pirates sir? Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?” Kenndy asked, knowing how her Captain treated pirates

“No I Don’t Ms. Martins… they robbed our store house, lit a peaceful town on fire without provocation or warning and opened fire on several ships. Good men and women are dead, some of them peaceful townsfolk… In my book they are murderers and pirates, and that is likely to good for them. The Champions Boot will be scuttled and its crew executed!” the Captain’s voice boomed, he appeared to be personally offended by this bunch, Kennedy had never seen him get this worked up before. But she gave the

“Aye Sir” along with the rest of those assembled

“Mr. Rodak… as I recall it is one of their sailors who is the Grippli?” The Captain asked… Khov reached into his satchel pulling a bunch of sheafs of parchment out

“Aye Captain… Flitt Fargazer, from reports of the dinner last night he appears to have made Bosun”

“How very fortunate for him” The Captain said dryly, venom dripping from his words “We will need some counter measures against him and that shark he was riding. Ms. Martins that was excellent thinking to lightning bolt the water, but we won’t be able to count on you having the spell ready always, Rodak, have something else in store for the Grippli before we encounter his ship again.” He turned looking further down the table “When you aren’t scouting I want you two practicing specific tactics on how we are going to bring that eagle down, we were lucky this time that their Strix didn’t get involved, but she is a known flyer, and we will have to assume that without archer support from land we will have to deal with both, a long engagement is not to our advantage”

“I have some thoughts on that sir” Kennedy offered, receiving a nod from the Captain “The way she changed after the archers hit her, and then alter changed back… she may be a shifter… or even a necromancer, siphoning life force from someone or something to maintain superior strength… we saw it before on that Orc Ship the Gromp Eye… If that is the case, she must have a magical item, usually a crystal or pendent that is allowing the siphon to operate, we should attack or disarm that and it should reverse the spell. Destorying it may even kill her depending on how much life force she has siphoned.”

“Excellent point Ms. Martins… make sure that memo gets to all crew members to keep an eye, and take targeted attacks when possible. What else do we have?” This time is was a short blond women who spoke up, her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail

“Well Captain, they are firing a standard bow facing Bombard, considering they seem to only have a three man team they were holding up a reasonable rate of fire. Their crew also responded quickly with a mix of pistols, muskets, longbows and crossbows, them seem to understand the benefits on black powder but are not dependent on it”

“Excellent point Master Gunner Hopkins… Rodak?” the Captain queried

“it is as you thought sir..” Khov said shifting through his parchment, “they didn’t have the bombard in Kezranad or Lockland, that is new… Their Master Gunner used to be Aurelia Ouellette… no sign of her on the ship or in Faurther Port… their new Master Gunner appears to be Sir Horace Altman… The Oakleaf Knight of Pelagius.” There was a sharp intake of breath around the table at this revelation, the Captain quickly interceded

“It is not Sir Horace! I don’t believe that the hero of Pelagius is burning down small towns… an imposter, out smearing his good name, and helping buy credibility in unfamiliar ports” The Captain Hrumphed

“That may be so… reports showed him wielding some kind of firearm, and there was no sign of his legendary sword, also no sign of magic use from him…” Rodak trailed off looking back over to the Master Gunner

“Either way sir, they are capable of putting up a reasonable ranged defense, but actually seem stronger in face to face combat…recommend extreme caution when boarding, most of their crews seems skilled with a blade, and none appear to have any misgivings about killing”

“Understood Master Gunner” The Captain nodded “Mr. Rodak, assure any boarding party is at least three to one odds in our favour, and assure that at least a third are fully armored before going over”

“Aye Sir” Khov said, making the appropriate notes. The Captain stood from his seat and looked down the table at the officers assembled

“Ms. Martins, please connect with Arjunn and OMAR, see what else we can find out about these Pirates and if there is any more information that we can use in battle” The Sorceress nodded to the Captain as he continued

“I want them found, and this business dealt with quickly, the good people of Faurther Port will need our aid in the rebuilding process, let’s try to have this… unfortunate business settled in the next three days. Mr. Nortron…” He said turning to his Master of Sails “let me know as soon as the river has cleared enough that we can be underway without distress”

“Aye Captain” he said

“The rest of you have your orders, see to them”

“Aye Captain” They intoned as they stood and shuffled out of the room.

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Fly you Fools Fly pt 3

11th of Planting 383 ONT, Faurther Port Harbor, River Promethean, 6:23pm

Ser Thalion noted the sails on the Champions Boot unfurl and fill with wind, perhaps they weren’t completely doomed he thought, leaning hard to the right and thrusting above his head as the eagle rolled in mid-air, passing close by one of the Griffin riders. He grunted in pain taking a slash back in the exchange from the second rider’s sword as it zipped in at the ideal moment. They were good, the eagle rider had to admit; and well trained to work as a pair, one always waited until he committed to the other and took advantage of that moment to come in and land a blow. Eltheron let out a shriek of agreement, the Griffins were well trained as well, taking any chance to rend or claw or even peck at the eagle whenever they passed close enough. Add to all this the damned wizard on the Magdalen firing off a spell whenever the fought took him in in range, or the archers along the shore line, shifting to target him if the battle drifted to close and Thalion was finding his sky was a little too small for his liking this day. He ducked uselessly as five magic missiles unerringly found their way to him, each offering a small shock as they collided into him. The Griffins took the opportunity to circle for a joint pass and that made up his mind, pulling Eltehron into a dive and wheel maneuver he turned flying maybe twenty feet over the water and passing right in front of the bow of the ship.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG

The Griffin Riders got a taste of their own medicine as Willhym and Aurelia opened fire on them as they followed Thalion’s course. One rider remained committed but the second hearing the protests and seeing fresh wounds in his mount broke off, setting wings wide and gliding for the safety of the Magdalen.

Willhym reloaded his pistol with uncanny speed taking aim at the faltering creature before Aurellia barked at him.

“Kill the ones still fighting first, then we can worry about the wounded.” The Halfling grunted but didn’t argue as he turned and squeezed off a round at the other rider. He then went back to work on getting the bombard loaded once more. They had a slight reprieve on the port side. Most of the elves were running to cut the corner on the point, likely getting a little down river where they could fire on the ship once more, until then however there weren’t arrows whizzing passed his head while he futzed with the ammunition.

“POWDER!” he called, already kicking the box open and reaching for the large leaden ball that would follow Tar-Di’s black powder. He opted to take a glance behind him and was surprised by what he saw on the starboard stern deck. There was Captain Dastron and his boys, huddled around three large tubes and quickly pulling components out of what seemed to be an unending bag. Willhym squinted more closely trying to figure out what they were doing when he heard the words from the Sergeant and his eyes widened.

“Mortars ready if five Captain” Willhym smiled, this would be good

“Lieutenant Ambertoe… Get Sir Thalions attention, Lieutenant Deepstone, Please find me Ms. De’Jairi, I’m going to speak with Captain Cailana. Sergeant, you have until I get back to get these mortars operations and secured… no excuses!”

“Boo Ya” the three offered as they went about their specified tasks.

Rikka killed off her final elven swordsmen and she looked across the bow. Four Chokers had just winked into existence. Doing a quick mental calculation she figured they must be summoned, there was no way that the enemy just happened to have four flying chokers stationed here in Farthur Port.

“They have a wizard or a summoned, they need to be close, within 60 feet of the ship, probably invisible” she shouted to his crewmates as he joined Trenton in the battle against the Chokers.

As the wind took up the sails and ship picked up speed there was a rush of Ceilia, Thitmed, Robinson and Thor coming up to the deck. Ceilia grabbed the ropes with THitmed trimming the sails to better catch the full breeze. Robinson crouched by a locker grabbing his war club and a crossbow. As Thor began to spin his Hammer and approached one of the Chokers.

THWAM

With one mighty strike he sent the Choker flying backwards and hurling off the side of the ship, it vanished from existence before it hit the water.

“I doth declare these cowardly foes!” Thor proclaimed spinning his hammer and approaching another enemy “I shall smite them in my Father’s Name and send them back to…”

WOMP

The breath was knocked from the dwarf as he lost grip on his hammer and sent it spiraling off into the air towards the shore. He looked down at his chest where the amethyst light had hit him

WOMP WOMP WOMP

Three more collided with his chest as he dropped to his knees. At last Robinson grabbed him and pulled him flat onto the deck

“ARCHERS ARE BACK, GET DOWN!” He cried desperately trying to patch the dwarf’s now gaping chest.

“but… but… I… am… a… God?” he whispered, the confusion evident on his face as he shuddered another breath and fell still

“NO!” Robinson cried, scooping up his comrade and carrying towards the stairwell. He took two arrows in the back for his trouble, but still the mighty ogre raced onwards, crying for Hatrutt and Belinda to make room, more wounded were coming. The clear red of the evening sky began to disappear as clouds raced in unnaturally fast and thunder began to rumble. The temperature noticeably dropped as the first freezing cold droplets began to fall.”

“By Yolo’s Big Brazenly Brass Balls!” Sergeant Thunderpike shouted as he pulled off his cloak throwing it over the mortars he was still working on trying desperately to keep the tubes dry from the oncoming rain. “Can’t we just get one little break!”

BOOM , The bombard fired into the shoreline causing some of the elves to dive for cover

BOOM BOOM came a response. The bow cannons on the Roebuck. The shots fell short by about 30 feet, they were likely just getting a sense of the range, but that didn’t bode well.

Captain Dastron jumped over the rail from the bridge bringing him back down by the mortors, he pulled of his cloak giving the tubes some extra protection as he reached into his pocket pulling what appeared to be an entire twenty five pound barrel from it. Deepstone came running up with Miriel

“The Ginger dwarf says you require my assistance?” the Strix said kneeling beside the dwarves. She was a little surprised as Rikka ran up stepping off her shoulder and diving towards the bridge

“THERE!” the elf said, her sword glowing brightly as she took a huge swipe and rolled to land on the bridge… her efforts had worked, A human winked into existence, floating maybe five feet above the bridge and directing the chokers he had summoned. Rikka turned and began a dizzing series of attacks and thrusts battering at the wizards magical armaments desperately attempting to keep him from casting anymore spells. If this fazed the Strix of the dwarves they did not show, keeping their minds on the task at hand.

“Ms. De’Jairi? I’m gonna need you to take this barrel and spread its contents between us and the Roebuck, don’t get close enough to be in trouble, just enough that we have a little room”

“I will do as you ask strange bearded man” she said taking the barrel and taking flight. Eltheron landed midshipon shaky wings.

“Flitt, Eltheron needs some love when you can” the elf called as he began racing across the deck to the dwarves.

“Aye” Called Flitt madly dueling with a large summoned ape.

“Sir Thalion, with your permission we believe we have a strategy that could help end this engagement, or at least buy us some significant time. If you like I can go over it with you…” Captain Dastron began

“What do you need?” The knight asked cutting off any explanation of the plan. The Dwarf watched the Strix finish her task, with a look to the Sergeant and another to the Captain both nodding they were ready he turned.

“I need a large wave of water pushing everything directly behind us back up river, them a wall of ice right behind the Champions Boot, I know it won’t block the entire river, but as much as it can would be good, it only needs to last about 30 seconds.

“Done” Thalion said. They waited for Miriel to be clear, before the large wave was summoned, as soon as it was the Captain turned further down river and called for all sails to be opened as he headed further from the shore line.

BOOM, the bombard fired once more, keeping the elves in the cover of the trees. Thalion summoned the long icy wall.

“Fire the mortars Sergeant” Captain Dastron ordered. Sergeant Thunderpike pulled the cloaks off the mortars and set the fuses causing all three to fire off in quick succession. The rockets did not fly for the Roebuck, but exploded along the surface of the river, lighting up the thick greasy substance Miriel had poured out.

The results were immediate, The Roebuck seeing the danger, its wizard ran and began filling the front of the sails with wind to slow the ship as oars came out and began desperately back paddling. The anchor was quickly dropped as well. The Magdalen being further back began a long wide turn to avoid the danger area. Meanwhile the ice wall slowing the advance of the flames gave the Champions Boot Plenty of time to speed onwards down river. The pursuers taken care for the crew and Banana Slugs looked to the few who were left onboard or near their ship. Willhym and Aurellia focusing on the last griffin rider while the swordsmen finished off the wizard and his summoned creatures… carefully the ship glided forward, being granted a brief breather if nothing else.

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Fly you Fools Fly pt 2

11th of Planting 383 ONT, Faurther Port Harbor, River Promethean, 6:19pm

THIG THIG THAWMP…

A trebuchet from shore launched something that came arcing through the air. The Captain kept a steady eye on it as he nudged the helm to port, causing the massive haul to splash into the water twenty feet starboard of the ship. He looked across the harbour doing the mental calculations. The Magdalen was free now and its war wizard was blasting wind into its sail trying to lurch the ship forward and after The Champions Boot. The Roebuck had turned away from them opting to try and enter the current first upriver and use their new momentum to cut them off. The Captain wasn’t sure they were wrong in that maneuver, either way it was going to be very close.

“If you haven’t already, arm yourselves” The Captain called to the crew banging a small bell beside the helm.

Flitt and Bitey were making all haste back to the Champions Boot when he saw the splash. A large grey boulder just missed the ship and sank before him. The shark adjusted course without issue, but both were shocked when two hands reached out grabbing Bitey and slamming him into the ground, dislodging Flitt from his back. That was no boulder, Flitt realised in horror as he ripped his scimitar from its sheath and took a swing, he belatedly recalled the downside to his weapon as the blade passed harmlessly through the damaged Clay Golem. The Golem reached its massive hands towards the Gripply surely spelling the frog’s unfortunate end; when Bitey came up behind the hulking enemy, biting and thrashing the one who dared attack his food bringer. Flitt had barely begun a sigh when he saw one large Golem hand grab the shark by the gills as the other began to punch poor Bitey over and over again, pummeling the poor shark. Summoning his courage he said the ancient war cry of his god

“Not cool Bro, Not cool” and leapt to the defense of Bitey, swapping to his other scimitar and unloading a fury of assaults.

Ser Thalion circled overhead, with his view of the harbor he could see that Flitt was in trouble below

“What do you think Eltheron? Can we dive that deep?” he asked the eagle, trying to gauge the depth himself. Seven to fifteen feet… that was a stretch for even Eltheron, especially considering the weight they would be trying to grab “Remember, we just want to fling it fifty or sixty feet behind the ship, it will be too slow in the water to catch us once we are in the current. The eagle ruffled its feathers, but offered no comment, merely circling to gain altitude and align its run. The knight loosened his straps… he would jump off in the water, saving a few hundred pounds of weight for the eagle so he could better complete the maneuver. Eltheron could circle back for him once he had dumped his payload. The eagle twisted and began its dive

BOOF! BOOF! Thalion looked to the left and in horror wrenched on the reigns pulling his friend out of the dive just in time as two large Stingers fired from the Magdalen, a massive barbed net stretched between. The eagle beat its massive wings and it twisted, just missing the upper corner of the net. Thalion pet his friend in appreciation, that had been no small feat of flying, as the eagle realigned for another approached he took the opportunity to fire two shots from his bow, focusing on the stinger crews on the bow of the Magdalen to slow their second attempt. His eyes scanned the harbor and he signed, signaling with his knees to wheel left and cancel the approach. Two Griffins were launching from the Roebuck deck and turning towards them. Thalion holstered his bow, shrugging his shield into place and drawing his spear. His eagle wheeled again allowing the Griffin riders the honour of equal altitude. He hefted his spear signalling a challenge and nodded as the two hefted their lances in return. A Joust it would be then.

THUD, THUD THUD.

Three arrows with wood biting arrows sunk into the port side of the Champion Boot. Long slender ropes connected them to trees along the shore.

“CUT THOSE ROPES!” The Captain called, his calm beginning to give way. Baker stepped forward firing his musket before fixing the bayonet to it. He took two steps towards a rope when a flash of silver slammed into his left shoulder, sending him sprawling onto the floor as he shouted in pain. Maddox jumped forward leaning over the rail and swinging his short sword hacking at the rope. Two elves on each rope ran their lengths quickly approaching the ship. Maddox hacked again severing his rope as the first elf on it leapt at him, sword drawn for a killing blow

CLANG, the sword was rebuffed off Paprikka’s and the elf fell backwards into the waters below.

“Get the ropes, I will cover you” Rikka said as she squared off with another two of Son of Treefall and their blades began to dance in earnest. Prancer arrived on deck, seeing what was going on. With a lash of his rope he touched one of the attached lines causing it to disentangle from its biting head and fall into the water below. His Rapier drawn he met with one of the elves and began a deadly dance, rapidly trying to remember everything that Captain had talked about during his lessons on elvish swordplay. Tar-Di crawled over to Baker, not sure what to do with the bleeding man’s chest and shoulder. Her eyes were wide with horror

“Cut the rope girl, don’t let anymore of ‘em get on the ship” he said pulling the bayonet from his musket and handing to her. She nodded hurrying forward and reaching over the side of the ship. Even as she did she could see two elves on the line hurrying towards the ship. Then the light melodic tone froze her blood

“I take no pleasure in extinguishing such a young flame, may your death bring you peace” she looked up to see an elven swordsmen thrusting forward to skewer her. The blade never connected, instead she heard a soft Tap, of steel on wood. Mr. Fluffy winked at her

“I told ya not to worry kiddo, now you get yer job done, and let me do mine” The gruff bear said with only a note of playfulness. He turned to the elf, his body shifting from stuffed to real bristling fur, his sword becoming steel as real claws wrapped around hits hilt. “You dare attack a chosen of the Brackish Emperor?” The elves eyes widened looking horrified as he realized what stood before him. “There is no afterlife that will hide you from his watery wrath”, the bear said walking forward and batting a nervous thrust out of the way from the elf “your end is now” he growled and flung himself at the enemy caring nothing about his own safety and focusing instead on scoring as many maiming and injuring hits as he could on the one who would dare attack his charge. Tar-Di hated seeing Mr. Fluffy like this, she much preferred his stuffed appearance and quickly turned back cutting away the line and sending the two elves into the harbour below.

A Flash blared as Rikka sword ignited in brilliantly white light searing away the armor of one of her enemies, they had tried to split up to cause more chaos but she had diligently managed to keep them both engaged, neither would split away so long as she drew breath.

ROOOOOARRRRRRR …. A massive shark was flung tail first out of the water and slammed into the side of the ship causing it to rock violently and snapping one of the starboard oars.

Barrels, ropes, beams and sails scattered across the deck. Prancer deflected a blow as he looked over to see Beleen crouched and crying beside a now capsized crate.

“Beleen, get the deck clear! Beleen!” he shouted, but if she could hear him she showed no signs.

BOOM the bombard fired again

HARAACCCCCKKKKKKKK the wounded keel of a flying creature cut through the air.

ZAAAAAP a shot of lightening shot from the deck of the Magdalen scorching the side of the Boot’s haul. The thick smell of ozone filled the air.

“Ready the sails Mr. Forbes!” The Captain called as they painstakingly approached the eddy line. Prancer tried to duel faster, looking at the sails and the elvish swordsmen in front of him. The elven sword whirled and spun but then came to an abrupt halt as it collided with a silver rapier

“I got this one Harry, go sort them sails” Trenton said as he stepped between Prancer and the elven mercenary. Sword balanced lightly in his right hand, bottle held neatly in the left. Prancer nodded lashing out his rope arm to pull him up onto the mast.

Flitt stared in horror, the water foggy from his and Bitey’s blood. Nothing could stop this creature… it just kept coming and coming. The Golem had a large rock and looked like he was planning on squishing Flit into river slime. The Gripply saw no exit… Bitey was either dazed, dead or run off… the swashbuckler couldn’t blame him… this was not a fight they were equipped to win. Two hands wrapped around his waist

“I am heroically saving you” the mirthless voice of Miriel said as she scooped him up, Flitt had no arguments forthcoming

“My Hero” he said as he launched herself upwards and took flight from the water leaving the Clay Golem behind in her wake.

“Urden requires healing… you will heal him” The strix said as she landed on the deck of the ship putting the gripply down. Another Amathyst shot slammed into the heart of her edilion and she staggered under the weight of the blow, moving for cover from the onslaught. Flitt paused a half heartbeat to assure she was ok, she nodded to the unspoken question and he tumbled around the bend dodging several arrows as he skidded into the stairwell and down the stairs hoping to offer some healing to Urden, and anyone else who may need it.

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Fly you Fools Fly pt 1

11th of Planting 383 ONT, Faurther Port Harbor, River Promethean, 6:15pm

“Willhym Help me get the Bombard loaded!” Aurellia yelled as the ship rocked forward, she scrambled onto the deck working towards the bow.

Miriel didn’t wait for orders, she stayed behind the ship, flying and pushing to get it as much starting momentum as it could until the oars could outpace her

“THOR & ROBINSON GET ON THE OARS! PRANCER ON DECK READY ON SAILS, MAKE SURE URDEN GETS ON THE SHIP!” Flit yelled as he ran up the stairs and flung himself over the side reaching forBitey’s harness before he hit the water. The crew quickly took their practiced positions. Thalion running the opposite side of the ship as Flitt, matching his stride with Eltherons steady glide he leapt, gracefully grabbing his harness. Eltheron maintain the glide for a few heartbeats giving the knight a moment to strap in before he banked sharply to parallel the shark’s course towards the Roebuck.

“Mr. Ironbraid, I believe the wind will be with us when we cross the eddy and turn that point; have Ms. Caddogen and Mr. Forbes be ready near the bow sails” The Captain said in a voice so calm he could have been ordering tea.

“Aye Captain” The dwarf said, with an ear to ear grin, sure things were worrisome, and they were in trouble, but his captain was at the helm, with a full crew and of sound mind… the enemy didn’t stand a chance. He turned to the railing and hollered the orders down the ship. Adding a few of his own to the end “… And Baker and Maddax… Get below and help Lindy get tha’ cargo secured, we don’t want it rustlin’ about when we turn into current… then to the oars with ya!” the two nodded saluting and rocketed below.

“Ms. Doyle,” The Captain said “If we take fire, it will be on the starboard side from the Roebuck, can you pull some lumber from below and give our deck hands a bit of cover along the starboard rails while they work”

“Right Away Captain!” she said rocketing down the stairs without hesitation

“CABIN BOY!” Thitmed boomed, causing the poor cabin boy to jump from his boots “Get me axe, and the Captain’s bow, then on to helping the powder monkey!” the boy nodded at the first officer, but received a roar for it “I DIDN’T HEAR THAT BOY!” the dwarf thundered. Paolo looked looked white before yelling up

“AYE SIR!”

“Tha’s Better” Thitmed nodded

“POWDER!” Aurellia called, Tar-Di looked nervous as she stepped forward, her hands were trembling as she looked about for comfort

“Don’t worry kiddo, I’m still here for a bit, I dare them to try and board us” she heard the grumble from the teddy bear. He sat on top a coil of rope, wooden sword laid across him lap, burning cigar in his hand

“Sparker Ready!” Aurelia called, Tar-di stumbled remembering she was supposed to have a smouldering stick to light the fuse on order… she began to shake, her eyes going back to the bear she sighed in relief as he offered his cigar

“Like I said Kiddo, Don’t worry about it”

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM

“BRACE!” Called the Captain

“BRACE!” Yelled the First Mate, the crew echoed the call several times as members dropped bracing themselves against railings, masts or whatever cover they could find.

CRASH! WOosh!

Three of the cannons from the Roebuck had missed, but one had connected causing a small fire to explode mid deck

“Mr. Ironbraid, see to it that those fires do not hit my sails” the Captains calm voice intoned, as he adjusted course bringing them further into the shallows. It appeared they would have a few moments before the Roebuck could fire again, as they now had the Magdalen between them.

“PAPRIKIA, GET THOSE FIRES OUT!” the Dwarf called

“AYE SIR!” she returned as she grabbed a bucket and began to call upon assisting magic to extinguish the flames

“PRANCER, YER CREATING DRAG, GET THAT FOOL OF A HUMAN ON BOARD… NOW!” Thitmed yelled as Prancer heaved to help pull Urden up onto the Port side of the ship.

WOOOOSH

A Silver Streak shot from the Captains Bow to the Magdalyn, killing an officer pointing at the anchor line, the shot was at least four hundred feet if it was an inch.

Lightening CRACKLED into the water from the Roebuck stern deck, as several muskets trumpeted into the air. The Omar Ship was slightly off course but not a full 90 degrees.

“Mr. Ironbraid, get the flags up to recall Mr. Fargazer and Sir Thalion, no sense in them getting killed out there” The Captain said

“Aye Sir” he said to the Captain and turned to the deck “Paolo, get yer ass up the mast, I want the Red Flag on the mizzim line now!”

“AYE SIR” The boy shouted, almost too loud, but Thitmed wouldn’t correct him on it

The oars were hitting their stride now, as the ship swung into the shallows and carved a path maybe thirty feet from the shore, they were making excellent time.

ZAAAAAAP

A green beam shot out from the dock they had departed, just winking out of existence before it hit the ship. Knowing what a disintegration ray looked like Thitmed let out a long slow breath.

“Mr. Ironbraid… if we could garner a little more speed from our friends on the oars, I think that would be fortuitous. Perhaps you could go down there and offer some words of encouragement?”

“AYE SIR” Thitmed called as he hopped down from the bridge and scrambled into the oar wells “ALRIGHT YA LIMENY LITTLE TURDS, THIS AIN’T NO PLEASURE CRUISE, PUT YER BACKS INTO IT AND ROW, LEST YA WANT US ALL TO DIE HERE!” he hopped onto a bench beside Ceilia and grabbed the oar “ON ME NOW… ROW!… ROW!…. ROW!…” those on deck felt the ship find new rhythm as it once again increased its speed.

“UURRRRHHHHHHH! Prancer heaved with one last grunt pulled the large Sumo Wrestler over the rail and onto the deck, the two fell over into a tangle with the final exertion. “By the gods, I thought I was gonna lose you for a moment there” Prancer said to the Urden as they tried to regain their feet

“Many thanks Prancer; that is not a swim I would look forward to, no matter how refreshing the water might be on a day like today” The large human said with a smile and small bow. “No, I believe my post is the Bombard if you’ll ex….”

WOMP

The words just stopped as an amethyst streak slammed into his chest. He looked down, surprised as his hands having moved faster than his mind had moved to block the bolt and yet had caught nothing, he swooned a little

“Urden? URDEN!” Prancer yelled scrambling to his feet as the large monk leaned and toppled over the rail, spinning in the air until slamming back first into the water. “MAN OVERBOARD! MAN OVERBOARD!” Prancer shouted a touch of panic slipping into his voice. He touched a rope that leapt to his command and ran with it along the deck chasing after his friend as the ship continued to glide forward.

“ARCHERS ON THE SHORE! ARCHERS ON THE SHORE! Fire at the Archers!” The Captain called turning the ship back towards the deeper water and getting some distance from the Sons of Treefall who were firing from the treeline.

“PRANCER GET DOWN!” Baker called coming up from below decks and tackling the young prince as three arrows narrowly missed him.

BOOM, The Bombard fired

BANG, BANG, Willhym and Aurelia fired. Mandy seeing the new situation carried her boards towards the bombard giving them a little more cover from the archers. Tar-Di huddled on the deck.

“GET OFF ME! We Need to Get Urden!” Prancer shouted at Baker, Trying to stand, but Craw’s grip was stronger and he pulled Prancer back down as two more arrows missed him, one dislodging his hat and pinning it to the stair hatch.

“Not until they find a new target you frackhead” Baker grunted pinning the one armed swashbuckler below the rail line

Miriel swooped around the port side of the Champions Boot coming in low to scoop up the fallen Monk

WOMP, WOMP, WOMP

She had the monk and was flying towards the ship, but three amethyst streaks had slammed into her chest

WOMP

Another hit her, causing her form to shrink substantially… whether skill or will power her shaky wings just barely got them onto the deck. The moment her feet hit the wooden planks she dove forward making her profile flat as no less then sixteen arrows shot over her head

BOOM

Several trees exploded as the bombard zeroed in on a cluster of elven archers

BANG BANG BANG, Willhym and Aurelia laid down consistent fire, as Baker grabbed a musket from a nearby case and Maddox began loading a crossbow

“POWDER!” Baker called. Tar-Di looked at her little powder horn, then over to Mr. Fluffy, the bear gave her a steely nod

“Ya got a job to do kiddo, best be getting it done” he said. She swallowed hard and took off crawling across the deck as fast as she could over to where Baker, Prancer and Maddox were huddled, tears pouring from her eyes. She arrived and shakily passed the powder horn to Baker. He nodded to her

“Good Girl… good girl” he said loading his musket quickly… “why are you crying?” he asked offering her a horrendous grin. She sniffled as she pointed at the elven archers firing on them

“They’re trying to kill us” she said. He nodded taking a confident tone

“You have nothing to fear little girl, they are elves… they are known for loving all forms of life… if you want to kill something, you need a human” the last words were deadly serious as he sat up taking aim with his musket and squeezing off a shot

BANG

An elf on the shore fell forward into the water. He turned and winked at her

“POWDER!” a call came back from the front of the ship… Baker reloaded his musket and sent her on her way

“Don’t be long in coming back, I got a few more to put in the ground over here!” he called after her. Meanwhile Prancer had crawled over to Miriel. Commanding the ropes he and Miriel began to drag Udren back to the stairwell. As they worked their way down Maddox and Baker layout out extra fire.

“Hatrutt! I need bandages” Prancer called, as he a rope flicked out clearing the mess hall table and he and Miriel strained to lay Urden on the table. Belinda came running from the cargo hold as Hatrutt crawled through the window with a bundle of towels.

“Oh Gods… Urden” the pregnant Halfling said as she climbed the table and expertly cut away Urdens Shirt. She put her ear to his chest and listened hard

BOOM

A cannon ball shot through the side planking and smashed into the bench spilling the table and everyone around it.

“GODS BE DAMNED” Prancer said as he sheltered Urden from the still falling debris

“Everyone all right?” Hatrutt asked

“MANDY WE HAVE A BREACH STARBOARD SIDE MESS HALL!” Belinda called up the stairs

“I am needed on deck” Miriel said as she resummoned her hulked out form adn launched herself up the stairwell. Belinda crawled back over to Urden and listened once more

“I Don’t hear a heartbeat” she said. Prancer, wadded up a bandage to cover the still bleeding hole. Don’t give up yet, Aurellia can heal, I’ll go get her. He said turned and scrambled onto the deck as the blasts from the Roebuck continued to fire

“POWDER!” Baker hollered again as he loaded a crossbow while waiting and took another shot at the elves. Maddox and he had come to agreement, the Goblin covering him with his shield and Baker firing back, it lead to more elves dying which was a cause both could get behind.

“ROW!… ROW!… ROW!…” Thitmed boomed as the ship continued to rocket towards the main current

To Be Continued

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Divine Intervention?

3rd of Planting, 383 ONT, Fruyhn Forest, 6:27pm

She watched in her sturdy leather armor as the people tripped and scurried, elderly carrying children as mothers clutched weapons and cleared a path. They knew they were being pursued, the glow behind was not the western sun setting, everyone could smell the smoke, could hear the crackling of the great fire chasing them. She turned to her traveling companion and tugged on her feather mottled cloak.

“We have to help them, show them the path to safety” she implored. The aged youthful face looked back at hers, his elfin features saddened

“You know what happens if I get involved, that gives licence to others to do the same, you know this Sosh” he said, not angrily. Her eyes were large and round like blue pools reflecting in the moonlight

“Please,” she implored “If not for me, for Mother?” The elfin creature seemed so wrestle internally for a long moment as she maintained her most innocent pleading face. He shifted his weight back and forth until at last his resolve crumbled. As always once he had decided something he was fully committed and his attitude and stature changed at once.

“Fine… but this is not to be my miracle… this is to be blamed on someone else”

“Of Course” she said, agreeing to any terms the ancient Fey might have in order to save the people. “We can blame mother, it would make sense…” she trailed off, but already he was shaking his head

“She knows better, and it is well known where she is right now anyway, that lie would quickly be unsown… beside… it is evening, and a slight wind is kicking up, I have just the goddess in mind who can take the blame for this little miracle”

“How is it that you always have a spare goddess tucked away whenever you need one” the girl asked, her brows furrowing in mock annoyance

“Comes with the job Sosh, comes with job” he joked back

4th of Planting, 383 ONT, Just outside the siege lines of Dragnye Keep, 11:19pm

The General’s cane came down over and over again across the Captain’s back. The man was barely conscious, but still the aged General did not let up, and he forced the officers around to watch the horror of the punishment.

“I say, I say again, Just cause a little ol’ mist springs up you let three hundred refugees walk through your camp, past your siege and enter the keep? That just may be a brand new level of incompetence, one that in all my year’s I have never seen”

“Please General” one of the men spoke from the crowd “No one saw or heard anything, and the mist lasted only moments, what happened is not possible… we sensed no magic, and saw no one” The General Hit the man once more before pointing his bloody cane at the one who’d spoke

“Just because you can’t explain how somthin happened, does not mean it is not possible…You live in a world where Magic can do just about anything… nothing is impossible you witless twit…” he turned to the larger group… “This man, along with each man who was on specifically on a watch point are to be drawn and quartered, I want one done each day until the siege has been broken or they are all dead” he looked at the larger group “Honestly, I expected better from you Children of Steel, you have insulted your honour, and impugned mine… I will not allow that to happen again”

JAMIE- Add 76 new followers to the Goddess of the Night Wind

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Darweaton Fields, Aftermath

5th of Planting, 383 ONT, fields of Darwheaton, 1.3km from Darwheaton Castle, Cainia, 9:17am

Arturo Emanuel Forbes sat on his knees, chain around his neck, arms and legs manacled behind him as he stared ahead at his captures; Sir Charles Bray and Nikerym Sylora Valindra. His attempt to retake Darwheaton Castle had failed, he had met a host three times the size of his defending the capital. How they had had gotten there, he still had no idea. Now he wished he had listened to his beloved Atherfade and stayed to defend Birchfeld. He felt blood trickle down the back of his neck from a head wound and lamented that he would never again sip chilled wine on the veranda of his modest villa. Atherfade cracking jokes that he had heard in the market whilst he tried not to spit wine out his nose. The memory made him grin for the happy times and tear up for its loss. Alas so long as he felt his mother was in danger he could not sit idle and wait, he had had to come to her aid, and Atherfade knew it, he knew well that his lover would see well to the defenses of Birchfeld, it would not fall easy to this lot. His two captors whispered as an older man in a gray military uniform approached surveying the dying men and horses across the surrounding fields as he walked. As he approached the grey suited man smoked a short pipe and puffed merrily at it as Sir Bray stepped forward

“If you wish, Princeling, you can beg for the mercy of the esteemed General Jubal Forrester, Commander of Omaru” Bray said with a flourish that caused the General to tilt his hat in acknowledgement. Arturo looked hard at the General spitting blood from his mouth before speaking.

“General Jubal Forrester?… Commander of Omaru?…huh… I thought you’d be taller” The Generals brows furrowed as a few of the nearby solider sniggered. A sharp look from Sir Bray quieted them quickly.

“Listen, I say Listen here boy. You are not in any particular place to be making jest of respectable men, you hear me boy?” The General said taking his handkerchief and wiping his sweaty brow. “Your very life is on the line boy, I say, I say it is on the line, I may be able to use you as a hostage, considering your station and all, that is not too bad a position to be in. But I will not be having my honour of good name tarnished, and I can, I say I can do without you if that is the type of guest you are intending to be… have we created an understanding boy?” Arturo Forbes straightened his back as best he could from his kneeling position before speaking in as loud a voice he could muster without yelling

“General Forester, I am prepared to discuss terms of surrender” he said solemnly

“Well, not that there is much to discuss, but I say, that is a better topic of conversation…” The General got no farther before he was interrupted by Arturo

“If you tell your men to lay their weapons down and assemble peacefully, I promise to take you all to my brother, Lord Gregory Forbes… and I will try my best to save most of your lives…” he nodded his head including all the mercenaries in the nearby fields “… That said, Greg is a might prickly so no promises there” The Generals brows furrowed deeper as he lifted his arm, as one six mercenaries drew swords and took a step closer. Arturo let out one his most charming grins as he stared down the General “I want to warn you all, I’m a screamer… I’ll haunt you to the very end of your days”

The General’s arm came down and the mercenaries rushed forward.

“ARRRHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

And so passed Arturo Emanuel Forbes, Baron of Birchfeld, Prince of Cainia

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Starwall Aftermath

4th of Planting, 383 ONT, Just Outside Selwyn’s Chapple , Starwall Keep, Cainia, 3:13pm

“Well, I must say I am surprised, it appears that your slobbering hoard is indeed useful Mr. Rothhand” General Jubal Forester in a conversational tone as he assessed the nearly unrecognizable Starwall Keep. The gnoll War Chief of Mailks Mauraders glowered at the General but said nothing. General Forester sniffed the air “OOoo, what are you boys cooking?” the said

“Humans” the Gnoll growled, but if he had hoped to unsettle the General he was sorely disappointed

“well, yer boys must know how to do it right. Smells an awful lot like chicken… My Daddy had a terrible fondness for chicken, developed his own special recipe, with eleven different herbs and spices, I say, I say it was fine eating for sure”

“Did your ‘Daddy’ enjoy war as much as chicken?” the gnoll snarled in curiosity

“Well, he was a Colonel for a time, but I can’t say his heart was in it, poor Ol’ Daddy was a simpler man, but I digress and I suppose we still have business to attend. I have a team heading through the remains here to see if there is anything our employers are wanting. Once their done, you and your boys can have anything that’s left. Collect your due, then have your boys wipe this stain from the beautiful land, I say, I say I want no two bricks left a touching if you catch my meaning.

“Yeesssss General” the Gnoll slobbered “Buttssss we have one problem… we have tries to desecrate the chapel here, but none of my men can hurts it” General Forester turned to appraise the small chapel his hand scratching his beard

“Magically protected you say? Well isn’t that a horse of a different colour?… Well I would recommend trying fire, it has always been a favorite of mine, but if that doesn’t work, have your giants bury in such a manner that it wont be easily found, I don’t need this to become a rallying point later for any misguided renegades… hmmm… a magic chapel indeed” Forester said as he walked off inspecting the rest of what was once Starwall Keep

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The Fall of Starwall Keep

4th of Planting, 383 ONT, Holy Chapel of Selwyn, Starwall Keep, Cainia 1:23am

“They have broken through the outer wall sir; the keep is under direct siege. Goblins, Ogres and Gnolls for the most part sir, but we believe they have a hill giant as well” the guardsmen said to his lord. Baron Rueben Forbes looked up at him from his kneeling position and took the guardsmen’s hand.

“What is your name solider?” he asked, his voice light

“Edward sir,” the man asked, confused as to what was happening

“Sit with me Edward, join us in prayer” he ushered to the many families huddled in the room around him. Edward dusted off his knees and joined his Baron before the alter of Selwyn “They have the power of necromancy on their side…” he said to the group assembled “I am afraid I have failed you all…. I cannot protect you from this onslaught, I cannot save your lives… but now the stakes have grown, and I battle for your very souls” He took a few breaths allowing his words to sink in “I am not a priest, I regret that now, for I can now see that the lady of divinity had tried to steer me on a course that could have saved us, I ask hers and your forgiveness.” He stood and turned to the alter his voice rich in timber as he spoke solemnly “Dearest mother, my redeemer, I wish to confess my mistakes. I deserted you, I passed judgment where it wasn’t my right to do so. Liberate me of my darkness, relieve me of my demons. Show me mercy so I may feel the warmth of your light once more.” The words said a small gleam of silver light arose on the alter and he turned towards those assembled. “She has not abandoned us as I did her. Any who make amends for their transgressions and die on these holy grounds will be protected from the curse of necromancy, your soul will be safe here.” He turned to Edward “Gather all that are left, bring them here with what weapons we can muster, here in her hall we shall make our last stand, and make them pay for every inch they take. Blessed be our Lady in White, may her vengeance rain down upon our enemies”

Edward gathered those remaining as they fled into the chapel, pulling food stores and weapons with them. The doors were bared as the snarls of the beasts outside grew loud. Reuban looked at his people and did all that was left, he put down his sword and picked up his fiddle and began to play

Please Listen While Reading

The enemy hammered at the walls of the chapel, but those inside heard none of it. His fingers danced along the ancient hymn to the holy goddess. And as the beasts struck harder and banged louder so to did his fury and tempo increase. A blinding series of notes flew from his fiddle extending the illusion of peace for every precious second, he could. At long last the door began to splinter. The people of Starwall took up arms around their Baron as he continued to play. They watched as the blood oak door slowly, grain by grain, splinter by splinter gave way to the waiting monstrous hoard outside. Whether by luck, divine providence or some other alignment of the stars the door held until the last note was played, and as if on cue, the doors burst forth. A waiting group of savages standing, muzzles frothing with excitement and fury. Rueben Forbes, 5th son of Caleb Forbes and Baron of Starwall Keep caste aside his fiddle and drew forth his rapier as he spoke his final words

“My Lady has set the floor and played the music, it would be rude not to dance” with that the hoard rushed forth and battle was joined

So Passed Rueben Maurice Forbes, Baron of Starwall, Prince of Cainia

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Aderaid Aftermath

3rd of Planting, 383 ONT, Edge of Fruyhn Forest, 3:23pm

Please Listen While Reading

General Jubal Forester rode forth on his grey mare. Assembled on the cusp for the forest were some twenty mounted Wing-Ti Mercenaries from the Order of the Black Arrow. Among them as their Kyaputen, Konno Yoshiki. Why he insisted on fighting on the front line, the General would never understand, but all the same it was convenient that he was here now.

“Kyaputen…” he said with a friendly incline of his head as he brought his mare to a halt “well I do, I say I do believe that this is indeed a dandy day for a victory, Congratulations Konno-San; for a while there I thought we would have to spend another dreadful night at this; I am pleased that I was incorrect in such matters”

“Many Thanks General Forester” Konno replied in a stiff Wing-Ti Accent “This is where the people entered the forest, I have a few scouts pursuing, but many among them are loggers and I fear traps should we pursue on horseback”

“I see, I say, I do see the trouble… now I suppose we could call them elves down here, and they’d be all quick and pretty about huntin down these fine fleeing folk; but to be honest, and I like to think I am an honest man, I am disinclined, I say disinclined to wait around that long, those elves are likely a few days away, and that Forbes fellow, well he tried my patience when he threw his garbage on me and the men back there”

“You wish my men to pursue then General?” Konno asked, his tone one of annoyance. If that bothered the General he did not let it show

“You know Kyaputen…” Forester said as he pulled out a handkerchief and began to polish a smear that had appeared on his saddle horn “My Daddy used to have a lovely cabin in the Loneshire Mountains… wonderful place, spent a fair shares of my youth catching trout in the streams just out his front door… but seems like it wasn’t just us who liked the cabin, oh we had a terrible problem, I say terrible preoblem with rats. Now Daddy loved that cabin, so he set traps, he bought cats, and he worked hard to drive them pesky creatures out in hopes to enjoy the place again… for the last years of his life Ol’ Daddy fought valiantly against the rats, but he could never catch them all, and so they always, I say always came back. Now, I say, after my Daddy passed away the Cabin was passed on to me, and I had inherited this war with the rats you see… and you know what I did to take care of them?” he looked hard at the Wing-Ti Soldiers and on the jovial conversational lightness dropped from his tone and his voice turned to a harsh whisper “I burnt it to the ground, and when the rats came racing out I killed them to. Get the oil and powder… Burn them out!" he let that hang in the air for a moment "send riders to circle to the far side of the wood… no one makes it to Dragnye, not alive anyway” he finished with a chilling chuckle. Konno nodded offering a bow before issuing orders to his men. “Once your men are underway Kyaputen, come find me in Aderaid, let’s see if these folks left us anything civilized to drink while we discuss the next movements of our campaign.”

With that the General turned his mare around and began a slow trot back to the still open gates of Aderaid.

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The Fall of Aderaid

3rd of Planting, 383 ONT, Eastern Battlements, Aderaid, Cainia.

“My Lord, we cannot hope to hold them much longer, you have served your uncle well, we must retreat” Sir Jaxen cried as a section of wall shuddered under the steady cannon fire from their enemies. Baron Harvey Forbes looked out at the assembled enemies below. They were mercenaries, The Order of the Black Arrow, and had brought maybe five hundred men to take Aderaid. He had done a worthy job keeping them at bay for the last two weeks, but now his foe held good firing position and had brought canons that would soon destroy his stone walls. He had maybe thirty fighting men left, it wouldn’t be long now. The Baron turned to his friend and loyal knight Sir Jaxen

“Elizabeth and the kids?” he asked

“They are with the reminder of the citizens, ready to make haste for Fruyhn Forest, from there they can attempt to get to Dragnye Hold, your father will know what to do” The walls shuttered again under the onslaught, the knight looked to his Baron “Sir, you should be with them, they only have ten men as escort surly…”

“If we go…” Harvey cut the knight off “… then these bastards will swarm the walls and overrun us before we can make the woods, that’s over a hundred people there, most on foot… no, have my soldiers load the last of the armaments in the catapults, I don’t care if we are throwing desks and beds at them, anything of weight have them loaded, all remaining crossbows pre-loaded and at the wall… we will throw everything we have at them for as long as we can, we buy our wives and children a shot at life… I will gladly pay that cost with my own… will you?” The knight’s chest swelled with pride as he stood a little straighter, he had mentored Baron Harvey since he was twelve and at this moment he could not be prouder of the man he had become, he put a hand on the Barons shoulder and looked him in the dark grey eyes

“You know I will Sir… you know I will” with the moment quickly passing Sir Jaxen turned and began to shout orders. The men jumped to hauling old dressers and filling pots with knives, forks, hot oil and even salted pork… whatever they could muster. The walls shuttered under the constant force of the cannon barrage, large chunks of granite began to fall away to the ground, the defenses of Aderaid had maybe hours left in it.

“Sir Jaxen, open the western gate, have the evacuees make all haste for Fruyhn!” The Baron yelled. The Western gate opened and the procession hurried out, muffled cries of children sounded as women and elderly clutched felling axes and tools to defend should the unfortunate come upon them; there were no ‘non-combatants’ in Aderaid these days, every person had held to the defense, and these stalwart people knew they were far from free of danger. “FIRE!” the Baron ordered his soldiers. The twang of crossbows rang in the air as the two large catapults released their payloads. The Baron ran down the battlements picking up a crossbow, firing it and tossing it aside looking for another loaded one. For maybe ten minutes they put up a fight felling two for every one that they killed before their ammunition ran out.

“Sir…” a solider ran forward “Riders circling on the northern bluff, they have noticed our people and are moving to intercept” Harvey ran with the young man to the Northern Wall to see for himself.

“Then Selwyn has truly turned away from us” he said, the last hope of life leaving him. He took a long deep breath and turned back to his ragged team of soldiers, of which he had maybe sixteen left “I had hoped that once our families were safe, we might take the last of the horses and make our escape my friends…” He said, ignoring the palisade that exploded ten feet behind him. “… This is not the fate that gods have chosen for us, there are maybe fifty horses that ride even now, and will surly reach our host before they make it to the safety of the forest” he saw the fear and despair set across him men, they were good boys and girls, they had served him well, and he had hoped he could have given them a chance… that was gone now. He took a deep breath, trying to remember the words of his cousin Reuben in times like these “Blessed are those who Sheppard the innocent, may it be known that the wings of Selwyn will take those who die for the noblest deeds onto her heavily thrown, and they shall want for nothing for evermore!” he quoted loudly “I don’t know about you… but that sounds pretty damn good to me, Doesn’t it?” there were a few assents from those surrounding him, he pushed forward with it, shouting to be heard over the din of cannons and muskets “WE HAVE BEEN GRANTED A GIFT, A FREE RIDE ON WINGS OF GOLD TO THE HEAVENS AND ALL WE MUST DO TO EARN THAT GIFT IS KILL THESE BASTARDS WHO DARE TO THREATEN OUR HOMES, OUR HEARTHS AND OUR LOVED ONES!” There was a stronger cry of resolve from his solders, again he pushed onwards “WE ARE THE WARRIORS OF CAINIA, LET US SHOW THEM WHAT IT MEANS TO CROSS BLADES WITH MEN ON HONOUR! WILL YOU RIDE WITH ME?” the roar of his people deafened the next blast. He raced from the battlements his warriors hot on his heels and threw himself onto his noble steed, Tambourine. He petted the stallion lovingly one last time before putting spurs to him flying out the western gate, turning slightly north to charge the fifty oncoming riders. As he rode he let out a single slow prayer “Please Selwyn, let them make it to the Forest, let them make it”

And so passed Baron Harvey Andrew Forbes of Cainia

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