Captain Willis closed in behind the Lich Lord and pointed his magelock at the Iron Lich?s skull. ?Stand Down! You are under arrest by decree of King Leto Rhaelt??
?You really mean to try and take me in?? Asphyxious asked the words in his un-voice, for no jaw ever moved to speak them. ?You have more ***** then I give you credit for Captain. I can see why she wants you.?
Griffin shouted something to the Cygnaran warcaster from the other side of the field. ?He?s holding something, T?mys!?
The skull showed no emotion, but his un-voice mocked feigned forgetfulness, ?Oh this?? Asphyxious lifted up his left arm. There, hanging by his collar, was the unconscious form of the sniper. The lich dropped the body carelessly down to the ground where it lay lifeless, the sniper?s hands never releasing their grip on the rifle.
?STEFF! You son of *****, you killed Steff? The shout came from the former Amethyst Rose gun mage who had knelt down and taken the Cryx warcaster in his gun sight.
?Griffin! Griffin, Skooj isn?t breathing!? Sister Nicola was hunched over their gobber companion who had just been launched like a grind ball from Aspyxious.
?Do what you can, Nicola!? the paladin shouted back, his eyes never leaving the lich lord.
?Walpol, give Nicola a hand! We?re not losing another one today!? came from another voice to the Lich Lord?s flank, as the acrobatic fighter known as ?Dodge? sprung out of the darkness.
?I?m on it!? cried the scholar who had been standing beside the warcaster. He started to make a wide circle behind the remaining sword knights.
?You really think you can apprehend me, Captain? You think I can?t handle you?? the undead magician asked the warcaster mockingly.
?Not all of us, you bastard.? T?mys Willis answered in a low tone. ?Not alone, you can?t.? he shouted back his answer.
?Who says I?m alone, Captain?? Asphyxious raised his free hand and began to chant, as a green glow began to form within his boney palm. The night fog slowly spun around him in a whirlpool effect as his chanting grew louder.
?T?mys, think where we are.? Captain Ortega called from behind the warcaster.
?Death?s Door.? T?mys remembered.
?How many people died here?? even as he spoke the question aloud, the sword knight captain wished he hadn?t.
Robert Walpol made his way to the downed gobber, not bothering to look at the Morrowan Nun to ask, ?How bad??
And that?s me, Skoojwalujibsurenakralokanen, laying there in my own blood with a gash the size of the Black River running through my torso. I?m the hero of this story, but maybe I?m getting a bit ahead of myself. You see it all began back at the bar in Ceryl.
* * * Part: The First * * *
We actually started in this very bar. I was discussing with colleagues possible business ventures when this young Captain bursts in the door looking for help…
“We need to get paid.” The gobber stood on his barstool so he could reach the bar, and a large tankard of ale that was gripped tightly with both hands. It was his third.
“Shut up, Skooj.” Was all his partner had to say, the young man had his own tankard of ale and even sitting down still was taller than the standing gobber.
“We need to get paid, I’m serious. Between you and me, we could easily find a mark and a fence in this town and…”
“Shut up, Skooj.” This time his voice was a little higher, with a suggestive tone that he meant it. He took another swig from his ale and continued to play with a knife on the bar, putting it on its point and spinning it.
“But Dodge, Kimball isn’t here, and nobody but you and I have to know. We can scout out the local thieves guild a.. WOAH!” Skooj’s legs were pushed out from under him; the drunken gobber never saw it coming. He landed on his back in the middle of the cushioned bar stool. Before he could slip to one side and onto the floor a quick hand pinned him to the cushion. Dodge never turned to look at his friend; he was in the middle of finishing his ale.
When the mug left his lips, Dodge looked over at his friend and once more repeated “You’re the one who said that somebody in Ceryl owed you a lot of money which we’ve yet to see. So I say again, Shut up, Skooj.”
For his part Skooj looked back at his friend like he had no idea he was on his back and replied “That’s all you had to say, man.”
Across the bar an older gentleman sitting with another young man in robes asks his companion. “You think I should go over there and stop them?”
“I would, Griffin. We don’t exactly have the coin to pay for a destroyed bar at this time.”
The older fellow nodded, “You’re probably right, Robert.” He got up, and after adjusting his belt headed over to the bar to see what their two friends were on about this time.
Robert Walpol was the bookkeeper and resident scryer for his mercenary troop, Garrison’s Grenadiers. And after a little fiasco in the port city of Five Fingers half the troop was lying low in Ceryl. The other half were allowed ‘time off’ to handle personal matters. All were to return back to Ceryl when their respective tasks were complete. He feigned interest as the paladin headed toward the bar.
When the old fellow was far enough away Walpol sat up in his chair and hunched over his drink. The wide brimmed mug was almost full. The opaque liquid within would easily be the medium he needed. Walpol looked up, to the right of him were a few drunkards, and to the left was an empty table. Looking around he could see the bar was relatively empty, and only few people were entering at a time. Perfect.
Moving his fingers in a clockwise motion, the liquid in the mug began to spin untouched. Slowly a vision began to reflect on the surface of the ale. He pulled his fingers away, watching the image as the ale stopped spinning. A young naked girl had taken off her blouse, and was currently rubbing a medicinal cream on her enlarged belly given to her by an alchemist to prevent stretch marks. She was growing into womanhood quickly as both ****rty and pregnancy began to change her body.
“Nice breasts… but isn’t she a little young?” a voice asked from behind him.
Walpol almost jumped out of his seat. Glancing quickly over his shoulder he saw a Cygnar military officer standing behind him, his head ****ed like a dog’s as he looked into the scyer’s mug. Walpol instantly turned back around dipping his fingers into the amber liquid dispersing the image instantly. “Do you mind?!” He asked the military man quite agitated.
“Not at all.” The officer chuckled and moved past him heading to the empty table that was beside his. Walpol looked up. Another officer was at the bar, and had just tacked a flyer to a support beam.
“****!” Walpol muttered to himself.
Captain Vincent Ortega came back from the bar with two tankards, one for himself and one for his commanding officer, Captain Adept T’mys Willis. “The owner doesn’t have a problem with the flyer. He says mercs come in here all the time.”
T’mys took the drink, “Yeah, this place seemed just seedy enough.”
“What does that mean?” Ortega laughed.
“Adventurers, Mercenaries, Vagabonds, they’re all the same. Eventually they all need employment. The only difference is what kind of people fit in what kind of places. This place speaks out reasonable.”
“Wot’s dat?” Skooj asked, the alcohol now beginning to affect his body.
Griffin finished reading the flyer and sat beside his gobber companion. “It’s a call for mercenaries. Apparently the military is in need of help right now.”
Skooj laughed, “When aren’t they? But we ain’t that desperate for work. Am I right, or am I right.” He drunkenly elbowed Dodge.
“Actually…” Dodge answered as he was looking into the emptiness of his own coin purse. “What do you think?” He asked Griffin. Skooj turned on his stool in disbelief, how could anyone argue his logic?
“We could definitely use the pay, but we have less than half the company here. It’s only, what, the five of us right now?” Griffin answered. “The flyer says ‘border patrol’. We could go ask them to clarify a bit.” Griffin ****ed his thumb in the military’s direction.
Griffin and Dodge nodded to each other and got up from the bar. “Hey, were you guys going?” slurred Skooj.
As the two men moved toward the table next to Walpol, Dodge gave him a knowing nod which cast Robert’s attention to the table next to him. He gave the rogue a nod in response to show he understood and got up. All three men converged on the table at the same time.
“Can we help you gentlemen?” asked T’mys
Griffin spoke up, “My name is Griffin Freeman, and this is Dodge Anders and Robert Walpol. We’re with a group called the Grenadiers. We thought we’d like to hear what the crown needs with mercenaries.”
T’mys shifted from his relaxed position. “Have a seat, gentleman” As he sat up he quickly leaned over to Vincent Ortega and whispered “See, reasonable.” and then sat up perfectly straight. “I’m sure you know all about the problems in Llael, correct?”
A voice spoke up between Dodge and Griffin from table level. “Problems ‘e says. Ha!” From around the big paladin stepped a small gobber, listing like a sailboat in a hurricane. He climbed up into the only empty chair at the table, managing the feat by Dhunia’s graces and spat “I hear it’s more like genocide right now. Why they want to kill all d’em nobles for anyway?”
“I’m going to presume this Bodger’s with you?” T’mys asked Griffin. “Why is he wearing a wig?”
“Who you calling a BODGER?! What WIG?!” The questions came out loud and slurred. It was all T’mys could do not to laugh.
Dodge put his hand on Skooj’s shoulder, reassuringly, but stablizing him at the same time. “This is Skooj, he’s a member of our troop as well. Well that’s here right now.”
“Yes, currently several Grenadiers are on other assignments. We ourselves only returned a short time ago.” Walpol added.
“So it’s just the four of you then?” Captain Ortega asked.
“No, we have one more of our troop with us. She’s upstairs at the moment. She is a priestess of Morrow.” Griffin explained.
“A cleric? Those are always handy to have in the mix.” T’mys stated.
“She’s more than just a cleric, Captain. She may be young, but she is far from inexperienced.” Griffin corrected strongly but not forcefully.
“In fact, here she comes now.” Dodge let everyone know, and all eyes turned toward the stairs. Coming down was a pretty young girl in a priestess habit. What was noticeably odd about this was a very apparent pregnant belly. She had a pretty smile and a very noticeable motherly glow about her.
As she approached T’mys recognized her instantly, and then shot a look over to Walpol. Walpol’s eyes bulged as he shook his head slightly, giving a very quick ‘cut it off’ signal with his hand under his chin before anyone but the Cygnar Captain could see. As Sister Nicola Fia Garrison came over to the table T’mys couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“Um… Did I do something wrong?” she asked mousely.
So they let me handle negotiations, ’cause frankly they all knew none of ‘em could do better then me. The ideer was simple. We march up and down this bit of coast line and the main roads between ‘ere and Five Fingers hoping that no Khardies were trying to sneak more troops in. Somebody named Sebastian had put the Captain up to the task, but they had no troops to send seeing as they were guarding the border… or Llael… or Llael’s border, something like that. So he had been authorized to hire mercenaries. Luckily for him we were in-between employers at the moment. Nor were we the only ones. This is where the twins come into it…
“Boy! Whatcha got there?” asked a boisterous man.
The Crier stopped in his tracks, for the man had his great coat rolled back exposing his holster. He stammered, “It’s a work request from the military, sir.”
“Lemme see.” He almost snatched it out of the boy’s hands as the lad held it out. As the man reached for it, the boy saw a tattoo of a purple rose on the inside of the man’s right forearm, its thorny stem wrapping up his arm into the greatcoat’s sleeve. The man read as he mumbled aloud to himself, only stopping when he realized the boy was still at his side. “What?!”
The crier jumped and ran off into the crowd.
Last edited by Turbulence; 11-23-2009 at 07:07 PM.
“Steff! Steff you have got to read this!” The pistollero moved quickly back to the fountain where his cousin was sitting. Steff heard his cousin Arcos yelling, and looked up from the birds to see his cousin racing over to him. The two had been friends since childhood. Steff’s mother had married a Cygnaran man and moved across the border before he had been born, Arcos on the other hand was proud Llaelese and not happy at all about the current situation.
Both men had joined their respective militaries up for a time; Steff as a Long Gunner for Cygnar, while Arcos joined the order of the Amethyst Rose. Arcos had been a prized pupil as a Gun Mage, but loud and insubordinate were qualities that didn’t go well within the order. As children Steff calmed Arcos wild streak down while Arcos in turn revved the perpetually laid back Steff up.
Steff had done quite well in the Long Gunners, his quiet steady demeanor turning him into a sniper among riflemen. He probably could have made a career out of it but when Arcos ‘resigned’ from the order he asked Steff to come with him. Steff quit the Long Gunners without a second thought.
The duo had been on the Cygnar side of the border when Khador invaded Llael, and being away from his home, unable to help ****ed Arcos off daily. He felt impotent to help his own people, and while he had never said that aloud, Steff knew.
“They’re gonna pay us to kill some Khardies! Will ya look at that?” Arcos handed the flyer over to his cousin. Steff took the sheet and read silently. It was a call for units to patrol the coast and border with Ord for any more invading Khadoran troops, and yes it was a paying gig. When he was done reading Steff put down the flyer and looked up at his cousin.
“Well come on already! Let go find these military guys and get paid!” Arcos started looking around the square, “Now where do you suppose they are?”
Steff saw the small crier boy, who had been watching the two men discuss the flyer and had probably heard Arcos’s every word. The crier saw he was being noticed, and Steff jutted his head to ask ‘Where?’ The boy just responded by pointing a direction off in the distance. The rifleman stood up and picked up his weapon, which was still tied in a leather carrying case. He tapped the gun mage on the shoulder and motioned for him to ‘Come on’. The two walked in the general direction the boy had given, and as they passed him, Steff flipped a copper into the crier’s hands saying “Thanks.” in his low voice as they passed the boy by.
The duo cut across the square in the direction the boy had point and cut down one of the busier streets. It wasn’t hard to find where the military contingent had gone. Most people remembered two men and a warjack pretty easily. Quickly enough they were pointed in the direction, and found a pub with a Charger standing next to the horse rack.
“All right, this has got to be the place Steff, but let me do all the talking. We don’t want the same results as last time.” Arcos said as he made himself presentable by re-tucking his shirt in and combing back his long hair with his hands. The gun mage mad sure his greatcoat was rolled back so he had easy access to his magelock. It was special to him, as most magelocks were to their owners. He had won it in a competition shortly after he had joined the Order of the Amethyst Rose. The special metals used to make the weapon had been chromed after it had been crafted, engraved down the barrel was a rose imprint. The barrel and assembly had been set in the finest stained oak. The entire weapon was crafted by a master. Arcos had been lucky to win the weapon, and now it was his prized possession.
Steff, however, did remember what happened last time they were employed. What Arcos meant however, he had no idea. It was fine with him anyway. Steff was the quiet type, and he liked being the man that shot you from afar without all the grunting, mumbling, screaming drama of melee combat. He just shrugged his shoulders and followed his cousin in the bar.
At a middle table against one of the walls was a lone military officer surrounded by a bunch of riffraff. Probably all after the new job opening. Arcos snagged the flyer from his cousin and quickly scanned it until he found what he was looking for. “Captain Willis... got it.” He thrust the page back into Steff’s hands and moved forward.
Several people were sitting around the table, closing the lone Cygnaran officer in. All were human except for one gobber standing in one of the seats. Arcos came up behind the gobber and unceremoniously hoisted him out of the chair. “There ya go little fella.” He said as he spun around and placed the drunk gobber on the wooden floor. He started talking to the officer as he pulled out the chair.
“Captain Willis, How are you?” He broke right through the crowd which was at first amazed at his audacity for moving Skooj, who was still spinning in circles behind him. What was weird is that they all found the gun mage captivating.
“I represent the Bullet Boys. Best ranged team on the open market. My partner,” Arcos quickly pointed to Steff, “is one of the best long-shooters in all of Immorem, while I bring a special kinds of magic to my shots.” Arcos pulled out his magelock and set it on the table.
Captain Ortega never had a chance to correct the captivating gun mage, the man simply talked to fast. Captain Willis had gone to the toilet and hadn’t yet returned; meanwhile the young priestess had taken the empty seat.
Arcos continued “Now I’m sure all these fine people have their uses, but let me begin to explain to you what we can do. With a sniper in your forces you can easily wound, if not destroy those forces down range you just don’t want getting to you. Steff has a specially designed rifle he himself designed, to send the maximum firepower down range at the furthest distances possible. Meanwhile if they come into my range, my ammunition packs a whole different punch. Imagine one round bursting into a giant sphere of fire, consuming whole enemy units in flame. You have no idea the power the Amethyst Rose can bring to your battle. Much more than any of those Arcane Tempests boys of yours.” Arcos continued…
Captain Willis came out of the toilet, hearing the voice coming from his table. A new member had joined the table and was being watched by another gentleman standing slightly back, a soft rifle case under his arm. The furry-mane gobber was lightly spinning in a circle and grabbed a neighboring chair to stop. As T’mys approached Arcos said, “Now I’m going to assume you don’t know anything about being a gun mage Captain Willis so allow me to put it into simple terms for you.”
Arcos continued in his ‘Gun Mages for Dummies’ lesson to Captain Ortega without realizing the Gun Mage Captain Adept was directly behind him. All eyes looked back and forth between their fellow Grenadiers up to Captain Willis down to the talking gun mage and back again. It was Steff who finally stepped in, and only a moment before Captain Willis was about to.
Steff brought two fingers to his lips and blew sharply. The whistle cut off Arcos speech directly. The gun mage turned in his chair to see why his cousin would interrupt him when he was doing so well. The first thing he saw as he turned was a magelock in its holster. It was an older double barreled model. Looking up for from the weapon he saw the man who it belonged to.
One word went through Arcos mind: ****!
“No, please continue. I’m fascinated.” Spoke the Cygnaran captain.
“Captain Adept actually, but yes, I’m Captain Willis.”
Double ****! Arcos turned around in his chair. “If he’s Captain Willis, that would make you?”
“Captain Vincent Ortega. I captain his sword knights.” Vincent explained with a wide smile on his face. Arcos just laid his head down on the table with a thunk.
“Nice weapon, you know how to use it?” T’mys asked, resisting the killer urge to pick up the magelock.
“Yes sir.” Arcos mumble out from between his arms and the table.
T’mys turned and looked at Steff, “And you’re with him?”
“Yes sir.” Steff answered.
Maybe it was how the man answered, the tone in his voice perhaps, but T’mys studied the man for a moment, looking for something there that wasn’t easily gleamed on the surface.
“How many years did you serve?” T’mys asked
“Six.” answered the sniper.
“I thought as much. Can you keep him in check?”
“Yes sir.” Steff answered again.
T’mys clapped his hand down on the shoulder of the embarrassed gun mage while continuing to look at the sniper. “You’re in.” He said. Captain Willis turned back to his table. “Well gentlemen… and ladies, we aren’t leaving until noon tomorrow so let’s get to know each other a bit.” Then he knelt down over Arcos and whispered, “I believe this round is on you.”
Arcos looked up at the captain and was about to say something when he felt a pull on his trousers. Looking down he saw the gobber he moved a few moments before.
Skooj looked seasick, having been spun around so quickly. With blade in hand he looked up at the new gun mage and stated “You’re in my seat.”
So I got these boys their first gig even after he offended my honor. Never let it be said that Skoojwalujibsurenakralokanen isn’t a humanitarian, or is that gobbertarian. But Captain Willis wanted to leave at day break the next day which was a killer, but this was for king and country, so of course I rose, quite early mind you, to the occasion rallying every one in our little force. And so the next day I valiantly led our patrol. I’m feeling a little parched here, so how about you buy a gobber a drink so we can continue?
Last edited by Turbulence; 11-23-2009 at 07:07 PM.
Now that?s good ale! Where was I? Oh right, so at the crack of dawn we met up to start out on this little coastal patrol. Now while these military boys are used to getting up early, even they were tired. Being one who rises with the sun regularly I volunteered to lead the first leg of our run so most of our, well? my people could get some rest and ride in the back of the wagon with the supplies?
* * * Part: The Next * * *
?How does he sleep like that?? Captain Willis had his head ****ed like a confused dog. What he was confused about was the current position of the Grenadier?s gobber. Skooj was laying on one of the coal boxes in the back of their supply cart. He was lying in a manner where half his body was actually off the box, and one heel was hooked between the side of the wagon and the box itself. You would think he was dead to look at him, but every so often he would heave in a deep half snore/half breath and the large line of drool that trailed down from his mouth would suck back up.
It was almost an hour past midday and the patrol was just about ready to head out. The supply wagon had been stuffed with boxed coal, barrels of water, rations, supplies, and now one gobber.
?We tend not to ask questions like that anymore, Captain.? Griffin gave a sharp laugh as he looked at the sleeping gobber and moved on. T?mys shook his head and headed toward the front of the wagon. His trek was halted when one of his sword knights approached.
?I spoke with the nun, sir. She adamantly refuses.?
?I thought this might happen. Thank you, Private. I?ll handle this myself.? T?mys looked around for the young pregnant girl in the chain shirt. She was across the way talking to her fellow Grenadier named Dodge. Before he could move Captain Ortega was by his side.
?What was that about?? he asked referring to the interaction T?mys had with one of his men. He walked with T?mys as they headed toward her.
?I have a pregnant girl I can?t get to sit down.? whispered a slightly annoyed Warcaster. Vincent just mouthed the word ?oooohh??.
?Sister Nicola, How are you doing this morning??
?I know what you are here to ask, Captain. But I?m pregnant, not an invalid.? The young cleric began, ire already in her voice.
?Listen, Sister, I have two ways to do this; a nice way and a not so nice way. I?m going to choose the nice way. I never meant to infer that you were an invalid. But you are Very pregnant. And honestly I?d feel more comfortable if you were up in the wagon. I don?t think you?re dainty or can?t do your job. I very well expect you to do your job if we are attacked. But sitting in the wagon will keep the weight off your feet and our caravan should be a bit speedier. At the same time you can keep a watch ahead further on the road and that?s a very important job. So would you please sit up in the wagon with your friend, Robert??
Nicola didn?t like being reminded of her condition; she knew exactly how pregnant she was. But she saw the reasoning the young captain had explained. Her pace had slowed a bit recently, and? she knew she should rest a bit, especially if she would have to see action later. ?All right, Captain. But if I feel the need to move I?m going to move.?
?That?s perfectly acceptable, Sister Nicola.? Inwardly Captain Willis breathed a sigh of relief; he hadn?t wanted this to go the other way. The young priestess walked over to the wagon and hopped up next to her friend who had the reins ready. Dodge followed her, continuing their conversation.
Captain Ortega leaned over and asked T?mys ?What would have been the not so nice way??
In a very low voice he answered ?I just would have told her I?m her damn employer. If I say sit in the wagon, then her rump sits in the wagon.?
?That wouldn?t have gone well.?
?Yeah, I know. How do you think I feel? You think I want to tell a Morrowan nun to move her backside?? He looked at Ortega straight-faced, but neither could hold it before they both began to chuckle.
?Why did you hire them, anyway?? Vincent asked, trying to move into a serious tone. ?We could?ve hired some Steelheads in this town or someone a little more reputable.?
From where the two captains were walking, they could see their entire party. Vincent?s own sword knights, all of the hired Grenadiers (sans Skooj) and the ranged combo of the Bullet Boys. ?I checked up on the Grenadiers. While they have a bit of a checkered past, they?re good people. Griffin turned down a chance to join an elite order in the church to stay with this company. The Nun has her own interesting story. She disappeared out of Corvis about seven months ago only to turn up with this company. And while she has no official place in the church anymore, she?s considered to have gained quite a bit of influence with the clergy in the short time since her disappearance. In fact the whole company is under observation by the Order of Illumination. Anders and the gobber are both thought of with high notoriety in Ceryl?s thieves? guild and in Five Fingers. But the real reason I hired them is their man Walpol. If he can scry as good as Griffin says, he should make our patrol quite effective. On top of that I signed a contract for seven people since they seem to think we?ll meet some more of their comrades on the road. Under the contract they signed any of the grenadiers show up; they have to join the patrol. There are quite a number of Grenadiers out there, so we could end up with twelve or so for the price of seven.?
?Seven? I only count five.? Vincent asked
?Take another look at the Nun. I count six.?
?Well that explains the Grenadiers but what about those two?? Ortega pointed a thumb at the bullet boys.
?Well Steff is a former Long Gunner. From what little I found, he?s good. Quite Good. He gave up a promotion and possibly a career to join up with his cousin. Arcos is a different story. I couldn?t get too much on him. Llael is kind of a hard place to get information from these days.?
?Heh! Tell me about it.? Vincent interjected.
?But look at his magelock. That?s no ordinary sidearm. He mentioned something about some contest to get it. And if he beat out other senior gun mages of the Amethyst Rose to win it, being so junior, he?s got to be a powerhouse. If the two can compliment each other, then they are a tag team to be reckoned with. Plus, let?s face it I?m partial to the way of the gun myself.? T?mys finished his explanation.
?How do you get all this information?? Vincent asked.
T?mys flicked his pointy ear, ?Don?t you know? I?m part elf; we listen to the wind and **** like that.? He grinned wide.
?You?re an idiot.? Vincent laughed and returned to his own men.
T?mys watched his friend go, and walked up to the Bullet Boys. ?Gentleman, I have a request for you. I know you have your own company name, but for now when I call out for the Grenadiers I?d like your attention as well. It simplifies everything for me if I can refer to just the two units. Plus I think ?Bullet Boys? would get shortened to ?BB? in almost no time.?
?Shouldn?t be a problem at all, boss. Steff and I will bring up the cavalry anytime you need it, no matter what you call us. You got the best Khardie huntin? duo on the payroll now.?
Up in the wagon Robert Walpol had been ready to go for a while now, his crystal ball out beside him on the seat on a piece of fine black cloth. Captain Willis had told him in no uncertain terms that his ability to search out the unseen was extremely important to the patrol. While he?d always helped the Grenadiers in their adventures he?d never had so much responsibility heaped on him from the beginning, and he was a bit nervous about it.
?Stop worrying Robert, you?re going to do fine. You?ll find anybody who might be out there and do the Grenadiers proud.? Nicola smiled brightly, even so young her mothering nature took over as she supported her friend.
?All right people, Lets move out!? Captain Willis yelled to everyone. He was standing on the ground behind Nicola, and Walpol could see him easily.
?Here Robert, give me the reins. You concentrate on finding whoever might be out there.?
Walpol gave the young Morrowan priestess the reins and she immediately kicked them up, getting the horses in gear. The wagon started with a jolt as Robert began peering deep into his crystal ball. He had pulled it up from its satin seat beside him, taking it into his hands while the wagon started moving out of the town square. Sword knights and Grenadiers were all walking around the wagon as Nicola kept the horses at a slow pace.
Normally the purpose of scrying is to centralize your efforts on an individual, this was something different. Walpol wasn?t looking for a specific person because he had no set target, nor was it completely a general search because that could have wound up being any Cygnar forces around the country. Finally he decided on what he thought would be both a broad search but narrow enough to find what he was looking for. ?Find those that would do us harm.? He whispered into the crystal.
For a moment Walpol saw nothing but the lights and shadows of the things reflected off the glass of the crystal ball, but as his eyes played with those lights and shadows they began to form an image. And then suddenly he had a bird?s eye view of himself in the wagon. It pulled back slowly, revealing Nicola next to him, and expanding out farther to see Skooj still sleeping in the back. The view panned farther out showing all the Cygnar forces and members of his mercenary company walking with the wagon in the center of their semi circle. The view panned out even further. He could now see the tiles and thatch on every rooftop. Walpol could see the street they were on, well ahead of where they were going. And yet the view continued moving away. As it did, Robert began to feel what he could only describe as tension, yet the word didn?t seem to fit since he didn?t feel tense, and as his view panned out further the tension increased. Soon he could see the whole city as birds flew underneath his view. Now his viewpoint was so high he began to see the outlying countryside. And then it snapped.
The sense of whiplash was incredible as he rocketed back down, his viewpoint reversing. Like a bullet he sped past the flying birds, past the cityscape, past the roofs that went from broad color to individual tiles again, and closer as the people below grew from ants into people once more. He noticed more than just his group now all around them, finally sling-shooting back into his own head. The vertigo was terrible as nausea tore through his entire body.
It was like a migraine washed through his mind, the pain blurring his thoughts as he tried to puzzle out what he was shown. As the pain and vertigo washed away the realization came to him in a flash. ?It?s here.? Walpol looked over at Nicola, ?The danger is here.?
?I know.? She replied in a low toneless voice, her eyes starring straight ahead. Walpol looked forward only to see that his vision had come too late.
?Damn Kayazy.? Dodge sighed under his breath. He was only heard by Walpol because he was standing on the ground beside Robert, on his side of the wagon.
Stretched across the road in front of them was a line of ten men. They were all dressed similarly, brandishing broad assassin blades and wearing grey capes. In front of those men stood another, this one was thicker, stockier. He was speaking to Captain Willis, he speech thickly layered by a Khadoran accent.
?You really think you and your men can take mine?? Captain Willis asked.
?Obviously not, Kaptain. But do you think we would be so foolish as to come alone?? The underboss spread his arms as he spoke. First displaying his own men behind him and then gesturing outward. ?Surely, even you must realize that in any city of this size, there are dozens of wharf rats and sea dogs that for a few coins will gladly spill another man?s innards. Today, those innards are yours, Kaptain.?
Men started moving up the alley ways and in from behind the small troop. The distinct smell of the wharf came in with them. They formed an outer circle around Willis?s patrol. They were surrounded, and everyone knew it.
?And here?s a special treat for you, Kaptain. All you hired swords!? The underboss increased his volume as he spoke to the rest of the party. ?You can all leave now, and we?ll consider no hard feeling, no? Or you can turn you blades on your old employer and see my paymaster when the job is done. I leave it up to you.? He ****ed a thumb over his shoulder, pointing out one of the cloaked individuals, this one wearing an eye patch.
It was Griffin who spoke up. ?The Grenadiers honor their contracts.? He spoke as he drew his own sword.
?And that goes for the Bullet Boys too!? added Arcos, pulling out his magelock.
The underboss didn?t look dismayed in the slightest; he merely spoke with his hand, making an ?Eh!? gesture. ?That?s admirable, but unfortunate. Even we?ve heard things about the Grenadiers.?
?You really think I?d hire those that would just turn on me in a second?? Captain Willis asked in mocking disbelief. He looked over at the wagon beside him, picking off a bit of dirt with his left hand as he spoke, discarded it with a flick of his fingers and looked back at the underboss. As he did this, his right hand slowly undid the tie on his holster and pulled back the charge with his fingers unnoticed.
?No. But I thought I?d give them a chance to live. I don?t like unnecessary bloodshed. You and your men could always just stand down, Kaptain. I?d promise you all painless deaths.?
?Over my dead body.? Willis answered.
The underboss gave him a vicious smile as he drew his own blade. ?That would be preferable, Kaptian.?
?Yeah, I bet it would.? No sooner had the words been spoken when Captain Willis drew his magelock with blinding speed, unloading both rounds into the underboss?s face.
The Capo standing behind the underboss didn?t even have time to register the blood spray on his face before the Charger started firing. Within seconds two more of the Kayazy assassins went down. The sword knights didn?t wait for an order. At the sound of gunfire they leapt into action, most charging the assassins, but some towards the nearest wharf rats.
The Cygnaran ferocity surprised everyone, friend and foe alike. Arcos was the first to react, his magelock already drawn. He sent a sea dog flying back into the dirt with blood erupting from his lung with each gasp of air. Arcos thumbed the release lever and his magelock?s breach popped open and ejected the spent cartridge automatically. Arcos smiled to himself as he quickly reloaded, he loved this gun; for that matter he now felt in his element.
Dodge knew these assassins all too well. He flicked both his forearms down, releasing the trigger, causing blades to thrust down into his hands from under his shirt sleeves. Now armed he wanted to thrust his blade into one of the Kayazy?s necks but the immediate threats were all the wharf rats rushing them. He readied his blades for attack but as the seaman rushed up preparing to strike, Dodge made an acrobatic flip, running up his opponent, his feet connected with the jaw of his assailant. Once landed Dodge thrust both his blades forward into the sea dog?s stomach, ripping its thin walls to shreds.
Sister Nicola was shocked for a moment after the warcaster had seemed to shoot out of nowhere. And while she was distracted for only a moment, it was almost a moment to long. She gathered her wits back quickly assessing the situation as best she could. The warcaster and his warjack had moved up into the assassins and the sea dogs were still closing in around the wagon. As she moved to step off the wagon she was hit by the smell of rummed breath and rotting teeth. One was already at her side. Without thinking she pulled back her foot and sent the attacker crashing down with a well placed boot to the head. With the sea dog removed from her way down she made a jump for it. Her feet hit the cobble stones hard, jarring her belly. The pain was intense. She cupped her belly protectively with her arms as she moved toward the rear of the wagon. Painfully she began to utter the prayer for Morrow?s Blessing.
Sister Nicola had barely finished her prayer as she made it to the rear of the wagon when a large callused hand grabbed her face and rammed her head against the hard wood of the wagon?s back gate. She fell like a sack of potatoes. As her vision began to clear the first thing she saw was a grungy pair of salt encrusted boots. She looked up at her assailant even as she felt the tingle of Morrow?s blessing begin to wash over her. Towering above her stood an old sea dog wearing a faded watch cap; blood trickled from his lips and nose. It had been the man she had kicked in the face. To add to the fun, she heard rather than saw to more wharf rats move up behind her.
?Morrow, send me your aid.? She whispered as she looked back down at the cobble stones, scared not for her life, but that of her unborn child.
?Looks like this job has some benefits, boys! Let?s have some fun!? said the older man with the watch cap as he began to untie the rope holding up his pants. Nicola looked up at her assailant and would be rapist just in time to see a hooked blade burst through the man?s throat.
Skooj was rattled awake. Not when gun shots went off but when something hit the wagon hard. His eyes opened just in time to see Nicola go down. After that all he saw was red.
The jagged edge of the hooked blades finished tearing everything vital as it was yanked back out the way it had been shoved through. The old sea hand grabbed at his neck but it was already too late. He fell to his knees, his body already losing strength.
?Now that, chummers, ain?t no way to talk at a lady.? With the sun beaming down over his back the little gobber looked heroic, almost angelic to Nicola. As she looked up at him standing on the cart?s edge Nicola could see the grace of Morrow wash over her savior. And then he leapt.
The watch cap fell bleeding but that still left two other would-be rapists. Skooj launched himself off the back of the wagon with all his might, arms outstretched, roaring. The result was all three crashing to the ground as the little gobber clothes-lined both of Nicola?s new assailants.
The two sea salts fell backward with total surprise, having never seen such ferocity in a gobber. Skooj, on the other hand was already on his feet as they hit the ground. With no real aim he plunged his hooked blades into the chests of each of the men destroying ribs, lungs, and hearts. ?No? Body? Messes? With? My? Girl!? Skooj?s arms were covered in blood as he kept stabbing until they stopped moving.
As Nicola regained her wits she called out to him. ?Skooj! SKOOJ!!? It took a few tries but she was able to break through his rage. ?They?re done. Go help the others.?
Skooj gave curt nod and ran off to help Griffin, who had gotten himself surrounded.
Steff quickly dropped the soft leather case of his rifle to the ground and cycled a round into the chamber. His weapon was a modified, pristine-looking Long Gunner?s repeater rifle. It wore a fancy bronze scope across it barrel, which without closer inspection looked to be longer than average for this type of weapon. He made one shot, then another before he even looked up at from the scope. Steff had aimed at the two sea dogs furthest from the engagement. Take the ones free of combatants out first, an old long gunner rule. Those engaged in melee had a bad chance of stepping in front of a bullet meant for the enemy.
The symbol of the sunburst upon the tunic over Griffin?s armor was like a big ?hit me? sign for many of the sea dogs. Pirates tend to be worshippers of Thamar, twin sister to the god Morrow. While followers of Morrow tend to believe in doing things the ?right? way, Thamar?s followers tend to veer more toward the slick and the easy. The two rarely get along. With cutlass and club, hook and peg leg, many rushed in on the paladin.
Griffin?s heavy blade was stopped by a cutlass only because the sea dog supported the back side of his weapon with his free hand. He tried to repel the paladin?s sword, but only managed to slide it down the length of his own blade and into the collarbone of the seaman next to him. Griffin?s blade severed the bone and left the man?s shoulder hanging limply. The paladin pulled his blade free with a hard yank, just in time to deflect yet another blow, as something bludgeoned against his back. Griffin was surrounded.
With a roar, Skooj pounced upon the back of one of the foul-smelling wharf rats that had managed to get around the paladin. He dug his hooked blades into the man?s back, climbing upward with each stab. As the man fell, the feral gobber leapt to his next victim.
Walpol watched everything from his perch in the wagon even as he felt Morrow?s blessing wash over him. The sword knights had charged into battle with the cloaked assassins from the start. As deft as they were, using their cloaks to riposte the large swords of the knights, in direct combat they were no match for Captain Ortega and his men. While the assassins had managed to take down three of the knights, their own number were whittling down quickly. Add to that Captain Willis and his Charger it was quickly becoming an unfair fight for the assassins.
Surprisingly the bigger threat came from all the dock men. Their sheer number was astounding. The Khadorans must have bought out every willing sea dog, seaman, and wharf rat willing to sell sword against the military. Robert himself had already cast spells; first a Magic Missile to defend from the immediate threat around the wagon, but then he cast Hold Person as the sea dogs started swarming in. And now they were surrounding Griffin.
Skooj and Dodge had moved in to help their companion, and even Steff and Arcos were handling population control as more of the salty dregs tried to join the fray. Nicola was moving up to attend the few fallen sword knights and away from the incoming seaman. But it wasn?t enough. There were just too many. But Robert had an idea. ?They are not going to like this? he said to himself before casting and empowering his next spell.
Casting a spell is one thing, empowering a spell is quite a bit different. Adding the right amount of somatic and alchemic properties to a spell on the fly is dangerous, not only to the intended target but to the caster as well. Spells exploding in your face are never fun.
No one heard the ritual chanting or saw the webbing start to crystallize on the ground. Too much motion and commotion was going on in the fray. It was barely noticed as the webbing started to pull at the legs and clothing of the combatants as it spread out beneath them all, friend and foe alike. They were already crowded together in the fray and the webbing spread rapidly.
Bodies would fall around the paladin as they his foes pressed in around him. Blessed with Morrow?s light, Griffin slew another Thamar worshipping sea dog, then another? and another. The sea dogs would step over the bodies of the fallen to get a chance at the paladin.
Skooj leapt on the back of another mariner slashing at those around him with his hooked blade, cutting throats and piercing skulls. After that he?d leap to yet another, moving as the sea dogs zeroed in on him only to have them assault another seaman as he leapt away. Skooj never felt the webbing.
Dodge was actually the first to consciously detect the webbing. With his acrobatic style of combat he noticed the first time he couldn?t jump. By that time it was too late.
Arcos and Steff were firing into the rushing horde, but ones the two shooters dropped were held into place by the still growing web. That?s when the call came.
?Steff! Don?t let him get away!? Captain Willis called out
The Bullet Boys turned back toward the conflict between the assassins and the sword knights. Four of the knights were down; Sister Nicola was already casting the healing spells she knew on the wounded. All the assassins had fallen? all except one. One Khadoran had managed to grab a horse and was quite a way off by this point, bolting as soon as he saw the turn of the tide, his cape flapping in the wind.
Steff raised his rifle, not sure if even he could make the shot at this distance. Arcos knew exactly what his cousin was thinking. Steff placed the butt of his rifle back in the pocket of his shoulder and chambered the lever, cycling another round in the chamber. Arcos softly placed his fingertips on the breach and began chanting softly.
Captain Willis watched this. He saw the Khadoran getting farther and farther away. He watched Steff take steady aim and Arcos cast Snipe upon a non-aligned round in a weapon that wasn?t a magelock. He was a powerful gun mage indeed to be able to enchant a round in such a way.
Steff fired. The shot was perfect. The enchantment worked flawlessly. T?mys was blown away by the precision. The rider fell as a small spot appeared on the back of his cape. No sooner did the rider start to fall then the cousins turned again toward the crowd of sea dogs and started once more to fire on their assailants.
One threat was neutralized. The remaining sword knight had joined in the fight with the grenadiers, trying their best to avoid the webbing but ultimately failing. Now together the knights and grenadiers were stemming back the tide. But enough was enough.
The Charger turned and moved into the fight, pushing into the webbing as far as it could go. T?mys leaped up on the wagon and climbed back toward the rear. He placed the tip of the magelock?s barrels to his throat as he cast the incantation. He could feel the heat from the barrels burning against his own flesh. Then he pointed the barrels towards the riot below. The Charger fired both barrels, one after another, the sound thunderous over everyone.
?ENOUGH!!? Captain Willis?s voice boomed out over the crowd as loud as a gunshot even as everyone stopped momentarily, startled by the Charger?s blasts. Now all eyes were on him. ?YOUR EMPLOYERS ARE DEAD! THIS IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE TO CEASE AND DESIST! ANY FURTHER AGGRESSION COST COMPLETE FORFIETURE OF YOUR LIVES!? His magelock was pointed out over the crowd. He looked over all of the fighters; armed opponents not even an inch apart from each other, all locked together in webbing. Even if you weren?t stuck in the web itself, the street and alleys were covered.
And then something caught his eye. The Gobber was standing on the shoulders of one of the sea dogs. With everyone webbed in, Skooj was still free.
?Skooj, can you get to the other side of this mess??
The Gobber looked about. The webbing was everywhere; along the street, up on the buildings. It had crept above the waists of all the men it now held in place. Higher however, was free ground. Skooj saw a long worn awning that hung above one of the store windows to one side of the fight. The idea came swiftly.
?Ah yah! I can make it, boss.? The gobber told his employer.
?Go get the local constabulary. Tell them to bring every man they have, they have a few arrests to make.?
There was a general grumbling that immediately came from all the sea dogs still trapped. The Charger ****ed it’s under barrel forward, sitting a new round in its barrel, as close as the warjack was to the combatants, it immediately drew everyone’s attention.
“ARE THERE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS?” Willis’s voice boomed once again as he held out his magelock toward the crowd. There was some shuffling, or as much as one could shuffle when stuck to another person. The grumbling ceased. “I didn’t think so.” The warcaster lowered his weapon.
Skooj started climbing across the tops of everyone to get over to the awning. Not only the sea dogs but his fellow grenadiers as well. He hopped off Dodge’s head to swing up on the awning. The gobber quickly made his way outside the range of the webbing, jumping back to the street. He disappeared shortly after that turning a corner.
Arcos looked over at Steff, “Now we wait.”
It took quite some time, but eventually Skooj reappeared with men in uniform behind him. The webbing had started to evaporate, but not long before the constabulary had arrived. One of the constables approached Captain Willis.
“Captain, your hired sword gave us a full report, but it seems quite a bit unbelievable. Would you like to take a look, maybe edit any errors... add some corrections.” The young constable asked, a pleading look on his face, almost begging the captain to take a look.
Captain Willis, however, was watching the sea dogs being cut and burned out of the webbing, and never even noticed the young man’s look. “I’m sure the report is fine, constable. I’m actually more worried about this. Could you give your friends a hand please?”
“Yes sir.” The young man replied, and trotted off to help extricate the assassin’s helpers.
* * * * * *
An’ so Ah almost single handedly saved all my friends. The Military boys wanted to give me a medal, but due to some “legal mumbo jumbo” they couldn’t. Both the captains told me how they owed me their lives. The constables were obviously impressed and asked me to be joinin’ their troop. Ah just felt Ah was doing my part. How were they to expect assassins in the middle of the day? In the middle of the bleedin’ street? Very un-assassin-ny if ya ask me. Hey, this flagon is empty! Who’s buying the next round? I’m feelin’ parched.
Last edited by Turbulence; 11-29-2009 at 04:44 PM.