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Book Three Pt 2 - The Reckoning

Written by - Kiradia Afirewen Page 37 Chapter 3

It had been a week of hard shelling. Endlessly Kiradia had sent rock after rock hurling towards the walls of Smarsh. She kept her siege engines working from sun up to sun down, two teams per trebuchet, each pulling twelve hour shifts. The noise of it all was deafening on the outside. One could only imagine what the defenders on the walls heard and felt.

Though her supply of rocks seemed endless, which in fact it almost was being this close to the mountains, her supply of trebuchets were not and that fact had made itself apparent half way through the week as one of the trebuchets snapped at the cables from over use and killed 6 men. Two more had been destroyed by enemy catapult fire. One was irreparably damaged, and was already be salvaged for parts, while the other was being worked on and might be operational again in a couple of weeks.

“We do not have time for this General, pounding away at the walls endlessly will not win the siege, eventually our reserves of rock and stone will run out. And then the amount of bombardment will be limited by how much rock we can drag in a day. We must push the walls, accept loses and charge through the front gate,” said Lieutenant Krin.

“You bring up valid points Lieutenant Krin, we will eventually be forced to commit our forces, but not before the time is right. Mistress thinks ahead of this battle, and ahead of the next, and if we commit too soon, we will lose too many troops to the defenders of Smarsh. The defenders are not blooded or wearied enough yet…”

A strong gust of wind blew through the command tent as a woman robed in black walked through. Kiradia looked over her men before speaking.

“They will be blooded and wearied, soon, General Alarin. All of you will come with me.”

Just as quickly as she had come in, she walked out again, with her Generals rushing to follow behind her. Kiradia walked towards a prepared circle in the middle of her army. She was flanked by the Silent Ones, all of which made sure no one but the Generals were anywhere near Kiradia.

Inside the circle was a little girl, clothed in white, a small creature. She was from Smarsh, and streaks of tears ran down her face as she looked upon the horrors around her. The little girl screamed for her mommy almost constantly, which simply set the crowd to jeering and calls for the girl’s death. The people of Tuscrin had become jaded to life, and now were almost as maniacally evil as Kiradia herself.

As Kiradia stepped into the circle, she grinned softly and the crowd quieted down. Even the girl became silent in the presence of Kiradia.

Kiradia gave a gentle smile as she walked up to the girl, “Do not be afraid little one, you are safe here, and I have a group of other little girls who would like to meet you and be your friend.”

Even with the whorl of tattoos crossing her face, Kiradia still held some bit of her old power, to calm others around her, especially children. Taking the child by the shoulder, Kiradia led the girl away from the crowd and the circle, towards her own personal tent, inside of which could faintly be heard the sounds of laughter. Kiradia smiled down at the girl and helped her inside of the tent.

General Alarin came up on Kiradia, a curious look on his face.

“Mistress, what is it you intend to do with these girls?”

“General, you know better than most that as of right now, our army lacks magical support. My magic alone will not be enough in the battles to come; inside that tent is another… place, where I have limited control of time itself. Inside there, those girls will learn magic, and grow old enough to be useful. They will grow by years, while we will pass time in months. The next time anyone sees that girl, she will be a young woman, with the full command of Dragon magic at her fingertips. Corrupted to my designs, loyal to me and no one else. They will not even remember Smarsh, at least, not as anything more than a distant memory. Now, about those walls we are having such a hard time getting through.”

All this time, Kiradia had been walking back towards the front lines of the siege, where her trebuchets continued to pound away at Smarsh. Kiradia stopped at the top of a hill, with a commanding look over the landscape between her and the walls. It was just past midday, and the light of the sun was full on the backs of everyone.

Kiradia sat cross-legged on the trampled glass, her eyes closed and her hands in configuration, dark clouds of smoke rose up in a circle around her, condensing just above her head. Becoming almost solid, a dark glow emanating from the globe. Even in the bright day, the darkness cast a shadow over everything, the glow visible even from the far walls of Smarsh.

With her mind completely focused on the spell she was weaving, she spared only a single moment to give her command to General Alarin.

“Prepare the Beastherds and Spearmen to march on the walls. Prepare the battering rams.”

With great speed Alarin and his Lieutenants prepared the regiments and formed the lines of marching order.

Finally, after a week of bombardment, true war came to Smarsh.

Written by - Agmund

No words were spoken. No sound was uttered. Like the massive statues that rose up to the ceiling as if to hold the very mountain back, the five kings stood in silence. Stoicly they stood upon a circular map, ringed by the first kings of the land within their most sacred of halls. The Dwitharim; where in was written the history of Njorundr, its people, its culture, and its very way of life recorded upon the walls all around them.

It was the largest of the dwarves who spoke first. His beard was braided into two gray strands, and hung nearly to his boots. At intervals, rune covered silver rings wrapped around the braids with a bar extended from one to the other, keeping the braids an equal distance apart as they spiraled downwards. A crown of plain silver adorned his balding head, and within the wrinkles of his face could be seen the years of its weight.

“Dark has our rule been, as dark as the deepest of Graedium’s caverns… but darker still… are the days ahead,” he uttered with great sadness. “The survival of our forefathers kingdom shall now rest in the hands of our children, and by their blood will it remain,” he added, lifting the crown from his head and placing it gently upon the floor.

The four remaining kings, one human and three dwarves followed suit, laying their crowns, each having been worn by countless of their kin before them, upon the floor. Then, as one, they left the great hall, their eyes gazing upon it for the last time.

Thru the maze of passages that made up the very heart of Kazukthule, they journeyed. With each step, men and dwarves, the eldest of Njorundr, adorned in their finest armor, fell in behind them. Women and children lined the corridors, and watched in silence as their husbands and fathers fell into the line. No tears were cryed, and no voices were heard as the procession passed thru the iron gates of Kazukthule and into the sunlit courtyards of Dun-Algur. Here to, the ranks of the procession swelled as it winded thru the cities streets and into tiered fields of gold.

As they came upon the outer gates of the city, five figures could be seen standing between the gate towers high above them. Yet, as they passed thru the gates, there was no pause, nor wave goodbye from the kings and their followers, nor from the onlookers. The procession merely continued in silence until at last, the gates closed behind them.

The five figures turned to the south and watched as the line disappeared from view. At that moment the human, who wore a wolves pelt around his shoulders, broke the seal of a scroll within his hands and read aloud to the four dwarves around him “Hear now the last command of your fathers and obey them well. We travel into the heart of the Eirwood, and we take with us the fury of the mountain ages. If we win the day, we shall send message, but we will remain trustworthy to our oaths, and journey into the heart of Dagafeln if need be. We shall fight until there is none standing either before us or amongst us. For you five, our kingdoms rule is left. Remember well the oaths, and the laws of the first five, and rule with the wisdom of your forefathers.”

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

The forest crickets around Lothiel-Gadith continued chirpping away their nightly symphony as they always had, oblivious to the events that had so recently taken place in the nearby elven citadel. They sang along, uncaring if anyone heard them at all, which suited the man dozing in one of the massive old oaks just fine.

He sat in the lower branches, back to the tree's worn bark. A sleeveless ash-gray overcoat that covered down to the ankles served as his blanket. His feet - crossed left over right - held his nearly empty pack in place as it dangled over the edge of the branch from around his right foot.

"You sleep in the strangest places," a female voice, a barely audible whisper, said from behind him. Unsure if the man heard her, she adjusted her postion on a branch behind and to the right of him.

The man in the tree only responded in the same whisper, albeit with an Ironskane accent, "When you talk like this, it's very hard to hear."

"Don't play games with me Thrush!" The woman steadied herself again on the branch as she became increasingly annoyed.

As uncaring as the crickets, the man yawned at her frustration. "Thrush? Why are you using that old codename?"

"I thought that I would do you the courtesy of not using your name. I don't know who else could be listening. The rangers own these woods after all, and there's a rather large group of knights nearby as well."

"Ah, the knights... Merquise's I believe. A group went in Lothiel-Gadith a while back. They haven't returned, so I can only assume they've managed to acquire room and board for the night. I'll sneak in with the baggage train tomorrow morning probably. There are at least a thousand, just from a quick look, who would notice one more?"

"And just what is it that you're after here in the first place," the woman asked, having finally found a semi-comfortable position.

"Oh, now I can't tell you that, can I Finch," the man whispered light-heartedly, returning the same "courtesy" she had shown him, "After all, what would be the point of this delightful cat-and-mouse game if I just up and told you? Which begs the question: just what are you doing out here? I wasn't aware I had a tail.... are they really that paranoid?"

"It can't be helped," the woman said with a shrug. As she tried to regain her balance, she continued: "Intelligence doesn't like losing one of their captains, especially at a time like this."

"I went through the proper channels to resign. They have no right..."

"Just be glad your old lieutenant has a soft spot, or it would be someone else here right now," she stated, cutting the man off in mid-sentence. "I should be going anyways. I've already been here too long."

The man reached into on the hip pockets on his overcoat and pulled out a folded piece of paper. Holding it up, he said to the woman: "When you get back into town, could you give this letter to a courier? It's for my sisters... I was going to drop it off myself, but it's much more reliable this way.

"I'll be sure to do so," she said, plucking the letter from his hand.

The leaves rustled slightly as the woman -gratefully- slipped off her branch and down to the forest floor below. The crickets continued on with their symphony as if nothing at all had happened.

Written by - Tempyst

Dorve stumbled up on deck of the ship and looked around. Damn these ships, we were meant for land not water. Finally, amidst the people running around, she saw Kaya setting down on a barrel. She carefully made her way to Kaya. "Are ye alright Kaya?"

"I'm fine Dorve, just feeling worn out now from destroying that book back in the courtyard. How are you my friend?"

Dorve just gruffed and looked Kaya over anyways. When she was satisfied the demon hunter wsa alright, she backed up a bit. "Well, seems you are fine, which is more than I can say for that lady down in the hold. I dunna know what is wrong with her. Her injuries are far out of my league."

"Well, I am sure you did all you could Dorve, and now you can check on others." Kaya nodded over to Ardwen. "Though don't bother with him, he is liable to toss you overboard if you suggest he needs any help."

Then they both turned when the sounds of shouting reached their ears, and then they saw Vylia light her arrow and send it flying forth to the ship that was bearing down upon them.

Written by - Ardwen

The wall shook with the impact as another immense, rounded, rock crunched into its side. Chonatas had seen war before, the people of Smarsh were a tough and taciturn population, many living out their entire lives with the shadow of the orcish hordes, and worse, looming over them. But Chonatas had never seen such a thunderous and unending bombardment before. For a solid week the siege engines of the enemy army had been pounding the walls of Smarsh. Outnumbered and outgunned, the siege works of the defenders could do little to stem the tide.

Chonatas thanked the All-Father that King Gongrane was leading them still. The King of Smarsh had proven amazingly resilient, despite the stress and cares that had to flood his mind daily. When the siege engines paused to reload or for repairs the king had ordered swift teams to patch the walls, and behind many of the walls he had constructed bulwarks of wood, hay, and crushed rocks and masonry. Chonatas had at first wondered what the purpose of these bulwarks had been, they would not hold back an attacking force if the main wall were breached, but then he had seen them bend and correct themselves under bombardment. Placed adjacent to the wall as they were, the temporary bulwarks worked to provide pliability to the rigid stone, reducing the damage the enemy missiles could inflict.

However, in Chonatas’s mind the most important thing King Gongrane had done was keep morale high. Despite the noise and fire of the bombardment, despite the unyielding threat of death outside of the besieged walls, the king had worked tirelessly to keep spirits high. Every few days the king had ordered processions through the streets headed by priests and monks carrying holy relics. These processions would go and bless the defenders; often pausing at particularly beleaguered sections of wall to ask aid from the holy relics and the gods to help them. Chonatas didn’t know if the gods actually did anything to help, he had certainly not felt any real difference when he received a blessing, but the sheer show of faith and the unfurling of venerated icons and banners was enough to set his resolve.

“Chonatas!” Barked a voice from his right, “Get your head out of your ass and point that viewing glass to the siege lines!” Chonatas snapped out of his thoughts and muttered a hasty acknowledgment to the captain that had just shouted at him. Raising the glass piece to his right eyes, Chonatas swept it over the enemy lines. At first he saw nothing unusual, but he quickly noticed that the viewing glass had become filmed from dirt. Chonatas removed it from his eyes and ran a cloth over both ends, he held it back up again and peered through once more, only to notice the same film remained. Chonatas breathed a silent prayer as he noticed that the unnatural film was in the air itself, like a shadow draped on the very sky. That was not the worst of it though as Chonatas saw disfigured half-beast humanoids and spearmen pouring out from between the trebuchets and catapults.

“Captain Ikthonos,” Chonatas began, “take the viewing glass and spread word to the men, it looks like the enemy are lining up for a real push against the walls. I need to go and report to his highness immediately, he has asked me to keep him personally appraised of all changes on the front.”

“Understood Chonatas,” Captain Ikthonos, the man who had earlier yelled at Chonatas, said, “go swiftly, and worry not, I’ll rally the men here and send our swiftest runners to the other posts.”

Chonatas saluted and began running down the steps of the tower to the base of the wall as fast as his legs could carry him. It seemed that after a week of bombardment the enemy would at last start the real war for Smarsh.

Written by - Talonmane

{present time aboard the Wavehammer. Reference the entirety of my posts. At this time the ship has turned North in front of the shipyards and headed up the coast, passing the heavier docks that make up the Southern end of Westgale's long pier. Only a few burning or sinking hulks remain docked; all other ships have launched by this time either to join the fight or to try to get away. Half of the city's port district is smashed and much is ablaze, but her defenses were built to be redundant and resilient, and the traitors manning them could still fire significant salvoes into the near and far harbour.

The great catamaran cruises upon her Starboard hull. Five minutes earlier a fireball out of the clouds had detonated upon the outer side of the high-riding, unmanned Port hull. Sparks and flaming debris now fall around the crew, joining the arrows, ballista bolts, and rocks fired in from the city's defenders. Unfortunately, the 'Hammer offers them a very large target as she cruises by at relatively close range, though smoke in the area gives at least some cover. Two-dozen sailors run and crawl about keeping fires controlled - more difficult with the ship at a 40 degree incline, but they are trained to do it. Some don't live through it.

Munchadin is ever-aware that the mass of the burning Port hull is disappearing, and though he constantly tunes the ride of the ship he knows they'll have to come down from ascension any moment and eject the ruined half of the vessel. Fortunately, the finest shipwrights amoung Dwarf and Man foresaw many tactical scenarios and provided the Wavehammer with a variety of ways to survive.}

Marlie glided for a moment through the open air between the Starboard sails and the waves before the arc of the swinging rope to which she tightly held brought her up and around the aft rigging. She used her legs to attach herself, tied the rope off, and then scrambled around to leap onto the great canvas of the second sail on the aft mast. She let herself slide twenty feet before grabbing a crossbeam. Rotating around, she wrapped her legs about the beam and stretched back in the direction of the hull, where a two-foot hole was burning ever-larger into the sail. She drew her knife and cut around the burning debris that had lodged itself in the fabric while trying to hit at it with her free hand. Wincing at the burns she incurred, the young Dwarf decided to finish making a few more cuts and then lifted herself back to the crossbeam, got a good grip, and released her legs so she could instead reach down and try to kick the debris loose. That worked, and the useless wood fell to a smoking finish in the salty blue. Marlie frowned at the hole in the sail, but knew today there would be many, though these were the least of the damage. She tried not to look at the other side of the ship, fearing that the sadness would break her ability to continue. She turned herself away from it and shimmied across the beam to the mast and climbed the rigging again to the top.

Below her and shoreward, the last of the heavy docks went by. She was in no positrion to see them coming, but knew they'd be passing the light docks any moment, and somewhere there was their destination. Unexpectedly, the 'Hammer turned in several degrees. Marlie needed a better vantage point. Tying off the loose hair from one of her long blonde braids that had come undone, she then moved out of the tiny basket at the top of the aft mast and grabbed the swing line that was anchored to the mainmast and that would carry her all the ways around to the foremast. Good thing her uncle was very busy, she thought. He gets very worried when she does this.

Marlie positioned her grip above the slack of the rope and let herself fall from the basket rim. The rope arced her beneath the great sails of the main mast, and as she reached a point where she could finally see out in front of the ship, the first of the light docks emerged from the smoke right in front of them. Instinctively she held on tighter and winced as the Starboard hull crashed right through the dock like it were nothing but kindling, the remains of that dock breaking apart below her as her arc took her just fifteen feet above the snapping wood. Onward she continued around and up and into the sails of the foremast, where she was able to catch into its structure, tie off the swing rope and move up and out to the small basket exactly like the one she had just left at the back end of the ship. Now with an unobstructed view out ahead, she could see each of the light docks come up before being smashed through by the continuing course of the cruiser. But her keen sight was distracted by a scene far below and to her left, where the visitor Archeantus stood beneath the jibs at the base of the bowsprit.

The stranger was doing an admirable job standing up despite the high angle of the deck, and he seemed to comprehend the foot-stands built into the rail and benches for this purpose. Whilst holding on with one hand, the other pointed off to the NorthWest as he explained something seemingly urgent to Bimglin at his side. The First Officer nodded his understanding and ran carefully back sternward. Marlie tried to make out anything in the distance in the direction of the stranger's point, but saw nothing. She smiled though as the crew began the 9th verse of the Mountain Wedding Song...for the second time.

Written by - Talonmane

Munchadin roared out his laughter as the 'Hammer went through the seventh and eighth docks and he shook his fist at the shore. "Me grand-daddies helped build those docks an' someday soon we'll do it again. But ye'll 'nae gain any more use o' 'em, ye 'Skaner bastards! ha-HA!"

Bimglin's torso became visible just over the edge of the stairs and he called out over the many sounds of the moment, "Admiral, the blind-man says the courier's just left dock 14 and is tryin' to bear North. He says there's another ship out there charging in at 'em: a heavy. And Sir...he says it's one o' ours! He thinks there's others anglin' in too.

"Traitors! Blast it all!" His mind raced with the thought. One of the squadrons that joined the 'Wing could have been a plant. But he knew those men, knew them all. Aye, an' ye thought that o' half the crews who went over to Beridane in the first days after the King had been slain too. There's no use denyin' it, now. There's been a foul ribbon o' unrest that weaved its way through the navy that Beridane must have fostered and leveraged...and still does. Nothin' left to do now but route it out!

"Alright, Bim, get 'im off the prow and back here. I'll need some finer directions fer what we're goin' to do. Get 'im quick, lad! An' pass the word to cut the last lines to the Port hull. Feburt, send word below to make ready to eject the ballast and cast off the Port'!"

Munch continued guiding the 'Wavehammer onward, smashing through the light docks of Port Westgale but beginning to angle them back out. He glanced up at the Port hull...her masts now falling to pieces, sails utterly consumed. Raging fire and smoke blazed over a hull that would no longer be seaworthy if they let it down to the water. His eyes teared...he could not help it. There was but one thing left to do now. But he'd make the sacrifice count. Bimglin returned with Archeantus.

"Alright lads, here's what we're goin' to do - "

Written by - Archeantus

He'd been standing at the prow of the 'Hammer, holding to the sturdy rail as smoke and embers and loud explosions showered down upon him. He couldn't help the irony of it, a blind man leading a ship, but he knew what had to be done.

There was a sudden crash and he tumbled to the deck, finding himself slightly dazed. A wave of heat hit his face as he tried to return to his feet. He could not determine the ship's condition, but he sensed the journey back to his friends would have a great cost. The ship swayed upward, lurching forward and he once again stumbled, only to find a strong arm grip his forearm, and then another steadied his back, helping him to his feet.

"Cap'n needs ya right away" Bimglin said urgently, his voice fell shrill over the din.

Archeantus nodded, and was led toward Munchadin. All around him, he began to sense the shape the ship was in, he could feel the worry seeping within him, and when he came to face Munchadin, he knew the stakes were high.

"Alright lads, here's what we're goin' to do - "

His mind steeled itself for whatever would happen and he began his work. Lowering his head slightly, the warlock calmed the Dwarven Captain's mind while he spoke clearing him of distractions, focusing him.

"Keep your eyes centered through the smoke and fog, you'll see directly where you must go." Archeantus said evenly. He then turned toward the direction, his sightless gaze motioned them all to look.

15 minutes ago

A small bright ember weaved in between onrushing deck hands who ran about the 'Call trying to get to their stations. Men and women, sailors all, yelled in the commotion issuing orders or pleas to help, but the small spark paid them no attention, it flew directly toward a specific cabin. It had only been moments ago having arrived back with Turin. Diving underneath the crack in the door it anxiously fluttered about the unconscious figure lain on the bed, urgently detecting the faint movement on her chest, as she slowly took in breaths. Ariana still lived. It's erratic flight slowed somewhat as if in relief, and it finally, slowly came to hover just above her forehead as if guarding her from harm, showering her closed eyes with a soft warm light.

Minutes passed.

There was a great commotion going on, screams of panic, as it received the call from its master. Suddenly it burst from the room, leaving the lone figure again to candlelight.

Back to present

Flames licked the upper sails, smoke fumed all about them, no one could hardly see anything through the fog of war ahead. There was a despair, despite their best intentions, they'd nearly all fought till their hands were bloody, and their wills were laid bare. It was then the warlock screamed above the crashing waves and cannon fire, his torn robed whipping in the wind.

"BEHOLD!"

He pointed, not ahead of them but above.

All eyes desperately poured through the thick smoke, aching to see what it was and then they saw it.

A burning white light erupted up through the smoke two hundred yards ahead of them, slightly to the left. It seemed to brighten the higher and higher it flew, and it let out an unmistakable shriek. It reddened it fury, and to some, it seemed a flaming cannon ball shot toward them, but its climb was completely vertical. In it's wake, it left a trail of flame and light, and when it reached the sky above the smoke, it formed wings that spread in a dazzling burst of flame.

"There!" Archeantus yelled vibrantly. "Our destination lies just below!"

They could all follow the trail of fire down into the smoke. They then realized it was moving slowly, and some with weathered eyes could detect the faint outline of a dark ship moving toward another smaller.

"Quickly!" The old warlock cried, "We have little time!"

Written by - Talonmane

Marlie cut the last line that ran from the foremast to the forward edge of the meso-deck. Glancing back she could see nothing else topside that attached to any point outside of the Starboard hull proper. She pulled herself up to the basket once more. She arrived in time to hear the Warlock's voice, and to see the extraordinary light that burst forth above their destination.

Looking out ahead she could just make out the pinpoint firefly glows of burning arrows rising above the smoke layer and falling back down toward some unseeable target. Archeantus' light broke through the smoke and began to reveal the outlines of two ships. Then all alone amoung them, one arrow, brighter than the others, rose defiantly from the smaller vessel. As it reached its zenith, she was mesmerized as the arrow itself burst with a searing whiteness as though ignited to greater destiny by some unknown agent. The area was now lit as though the full gaze of the Jedden Lighthouse turned upon them. Like Inveor has opened his Lantern's shield so all the world will see what's below... Her mother's words had always seemed fanciful, and like other quotes from the scriptures of Dwarven religion, very distant. But those words felt like they were written to describe this very moment.

There was no more smoke in the way of that light, no darkness, no obscurity of any kind. Everything was visible. Marlie could see a sloop out ahead, clearly the source of the sinlge arrow and the target of every other arrow. She felt her uncle turn the 'Hammer to Port, taking a heading that would put them between the fleeing boat and the galleon that was coming in hard. By his course she couldn't tell precisely what he had planned. As they continued to close, it became obvious that the galleon was one of their own. Finally catching the revealing details, she called out to anyone within earshot, "It's the Striator! Galleon at Fore-Port is Commander Degor on Striator!" She saw several flag signals then. "And he's warning us off!" Just who does he think he is? she wondered.

The bright arrow continued on its path whilst the sky behind it remained lit in the Warlock's will. Blinding as burning magnesium at the moment of impact, the arrow fell into the center mainsail of the galleon. The stylized 'A' and anchor symbol of Ancora that spread over the great canvas was instantly torched away, as if to declare loudly this ship's loss of the right to fly it. And in its place, burning with a holy fire before the sail was utterly consumed was the outline of 3 joined circles. Out of Marlie's sight and back on the pilot's deck, Archeantus grasped the glowing symbol of like shape that hung about his neck; and though she could not quite hear Kildef's words, she knew he exclaimed an ancient oath.

Written by - Talonmane

{On the Fair Seas Call...}

"That was...some shot!" Captain Peracus remarked to Vylia as she surveyed the seascape now visible to her. The source of the singing was now clear: the vaunted Wavehammer, a ship she only knew from having seen it under construction not far from here over a decade ago. She remembers at the time thinking the thing would never be seaworthy; that even the Dwarves wouldn't find a material and structure strong enough to joint the two hulls together that could survive the stresses of the sea. But her concerns were now revealed as folly. Even with one hull half destroyed and blazing the ship held together.

The high-riding cruiser moved up quickly almost alongside them, putting itself right between the courier and galleon. She wondered if they were going to just sacrifice themselves to the impact? What could be so important about these passengers? Why -

Then the catamaran took a maneuver that made her pause in astonishment. With the galleon less than two lengths from them, the 'Hammer cut hard to Port. Simultaneously, three large sections of the outer hull opened and massive metal rails stretched out. Sliding down the rails came immense metal counterweights. Jenara knew these must be the ballasts that the Dwarves designed to counterweight the hulls. This caused the ship to angle the burning Port hull even higher out of the water. Then, just before the cruiser would pass the galleon, the noise of some huge machinery straining and snapping preceeded both the counterweights and rails sliding from the Wavehammer into the harbour. She watched in awe as the two ships passed, and the inferno that was the Port hull of the cruiser collapsed down upon the galleon in an explosion of embers and wood. The half-metal keel, shallow and long as it was on a catamaran, was still ridged enough to split the three masts and shatter the top decks. On the cruiser, the Port hull and meso-deck completely seperated from the Starboard hull, some of it not cleanly, tearing apart the Port-side edge of the surviving ship (now a single-hulled ship unto its own) at its top two decks. The Wavehammer sailed on, bobbing back and forth as she adjusted to the loss of mass and the new sailing configuration, and began a Star-side turn.

The galleon likewise continued on a straight course, which caused their now-blazing form to slide just behind the 'Call, with massive burning pieces of the Port hull of the Wavehammer still rolling off the galleon's deck and into the water. One large section actually bounced off the back side of the courier before careening to the waves. The galleon - no living crew visible on her deck - continued past and behind them and impacted upon the rocky wall that made up the area of the port just North of the pier. Some sailors could be seen attempting to leap from her lower gunports. None could tell if any lived.

As Jenara tried to adjust course out to join the Wavehammer, she found the rudder to be sluggish and partly inoperable, surely damaged from that falling debris. "Great." She remarked, thinking of the irony of how they came to the port in the first place to repair the stearage. And as she looked out to the ship ahead of her that just saved them, it dawned on her that things could certainly be a little worse...

That was when the Ironskane frigate charged out of the smoke to the North (Archeantus' light having faded or moved on by this point) and several grappling lines shot over their rails.

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya and Dorve watched the great ship pull up aside their own; they both could see sailors with hooks ready toss over. "I don't know how well I can fight Dorve, I am pretty weak, but keep me up as long as you can and I will do my best."

Dorve nodded and patted Kaya on the shoulder. "Aye lass, I will do mah best to keep you going and I will be right by your side."

Kaya stood, drew the sword Alanthear once more, and waited for the onslaught.

Written by - Teran

Teran sat slumped where he was laid. There was no movement aside from his shallow breathing.

"I have never seen anything like that." his voice was barely audible "She was amazing."

He raised his head and looked at Mavigan. He grinned and it stretched literally ear to ear as one of the blade wires had slit through his cheeks. He held up one of his hands and admired the damage that had been done. Wounds like his would have killed just about anyone... or anything, but not him. He stood up, a seemingly impossible feat given how much of his muscle has been torn away but somehow he maintained an almost natural and fluid movement. He stretched out his arms and admired the wounds, looking very much like a scarecrow in the process.

"You're very fortunate Princess. If you had been with me I'd be picking pieces of you up off the floor right now hoping Wilhelm had some trick to bring you back." He grinned at her again.

He began taking inventory of his gear. Not much had survived the attack, he had no weapons left and his armor was destroyed and he doubted the anti magic enchantment had survived the damage to the armor. He discarded what was left of his cloak and pants and began scavenging what he could off of the dead guards unconcerned with modesty for the time being. It took him two minutes to dress and when he was done most of his wounds had closed, his flesh had regrown and he appeared ready though he had not picked up any of the fallen weapons. He clenched his fists and peered into the hallway.

"How do I look?"

Written by - Vylia

"That was... some shot!" she heard the Captain say from behind her. "The All-Father helps his followers in their time of great need... though I dislike asking for his aid too much, he has a tendency to ask for other favors in return," Vylia turned and gave the Captain a lopsided grin just in time to see the grappling lines impact upon the deck before dragging back to catch on the rails. She didn't hesitate as she snatched up the last of the cloth-wrapped arrows, "Light it," and took aim, firing the moment the pilot had moved the torch from her firing path. The arrow streaked out across the water and stuck into the aft-most line. It took a moment to catch, but once it began it spread and snapped quickly, the two ends plunging into the water with a hiss.

"I need all of the arrows you have left, hurry. We need to take out as many as we can before they reach the deck or things could get ugly. Get someone to go downstairs and warn those below decks. Anyone with a weapon down there should get ready at the bottom of the stairs in case someone gets through, and if you have a pair of short swords I can borrow it would be appreciated." Vylia rushes over to the railing in front of the grappling lines before turning to grin at the Captain again, "I'm sorry we're such a bother Captain, it seems we've painted your ship with a bullseye. If you can bear with my demands a bit longer I promise I'll do everything in my power to make sure she survives in sailable condition."

Written by - Rikshanthas

Leinad stepped out onto the deck just as the first of the grappling lines shot over the rail and punctured the deck not 2 feet from his boot. As the Ironskane frigate continued to attach itself to the 'Call like some monstrous parasite, Leinad, still holding the hatch open, turned and shouted back into it, "We're being boarded! Get your weapons out!" Then he dropped the hatch and moved to draw his weapons.

The moment his hand touched Astalder's hilt, an unfamiliar feeling of righteous anger washed over him. He saw the priestess they had rescued, Ariana if he had overheard the name aright, as if he were standing in the room with her; her wounds seemed to be highlighted in an eerie glow, which only fueled the irrational anger rising in him. His vision cleared to once again reveal the wartorn harbour and the frigate attempting to board them, but the feeling of just anger remained. His sight seemed clearer and more focused, his nerves were taut with battle-readiness. As the ancient Dragonblade flashed into his hand, any onlooker might have caught a glimpse of the blade's fire reflected in his eyes, as if some power had been awakened.

Lienad held up the sword, which seemed as molten fire, and unfamiliar words came to his lips; as the blade swung forward in open challenge of the invaders, he spoke, barely a whisper yet louder than thunder: "Ed' i'ear ar' elenea, naur Tel'Celeb'loki vas'gothrim Late'Agar!" At his words, a lick of flame escaped the sword's surface, as a hot blade sparks when the hammer strikes it. Assuming an aggressive stance, he waited for the first wave of attackers with an almost bloodthirsty eagerness.

Written by - Kiradia Afirewen

Kiradia raised her arms to the sky, seemingly involuntarily, as if drawn to the black orb that levitated above her head. Black specks dotted around the landscape, covering everything, getting everywhere. Slowly, the black orb began to rise up swirling around its center going faster and faster. Soon, Kiradia’s robes began to sway in the air, her hair whipping around. Quicker and quicker, the black glob of magical energy rose up, as if towards the sun, spreading out, blotting out the sun entirely, and night settled over Smarsh, as suddenly as a thunder crack. The wind became deafening, making it impossible for anyone to hear anything and harder to keep your eyes open long enough to see anything. Anyone wearing a helmet was buffeted somewhat, but still affected by the unnatural wind.

With a great crash and boom, three pillars of black obsidian crashed into the ground, digging deeply into the bare earth in front of the walls of Smarsh, dark red symbols running down the entire length of all sides of the structure, pulsating with unnatural energies. Each pillar rose high into the sky, pointing towards the black globe blocking the sun. General Alarin watched Kiradia’s lips move, and carried on the wind, every soldier, citizen, and king in Smarsh heard the same words all at once…

“Oblivion comes.”

As the echo of Kiradia’s words died out three streams of white-hot fire fell like a waterfall down the three pillars, mixing with the air and using it, pushed towards the walls of Smarsh in a massive wave of white death by Kiradia’s magic, the black flecks in the air catching on fire, massive explosions rocketing around the sky, sowing confusion just before the big finale of Kiradia’s spell. The fire of the sun itself, descended upon Smarsh, crashing into the walls with such force those weaker sections of the wall fell into a pile of rubble before it even had a chance to melt.

Many fires were set at the places where the walls fell, building catching like candles. Where the walls didn’t fall, great scorching scars crisscrossed the wall, the wave of fire climbing over the wall, incinerating most of the defenders almost instantly. Very few people could have survived such a conflagration, and even those that did survive would be so horribly burned as to be useless in a fight.

Releasing her hold on the magic, Kiradia’s arms fell by her sides, her breathing heavy and labored, as if she had just run a couple miles. The winds dissipating and Kiradia looked up at her General, her brow glistening with sweat, “Prepare twenty of the best Minotaurs we have, you will lead the battle from here General Alarin, I need to capture King Gongrane and I will not allow any chance of failure.”

“Yes Mistress,” said General Alarin, as he walked off to follow Kiradia’s orders.

Kiradia waited patiently as she watched her army press forward to the walls. Her massive ranks of spearmen and beast herds met little resistance from the walls as the battering ram lined up with the gate. Shouted orders were given and the battering ram was wound back, then with a bang, the ram dented the gates of Smarsh. Along the entire wall, regiment after regiment began to spill into the broken wall section, spilling into the outermost streets and back alleys of Smarsh.

A pounding of hooves broke Kiradia’s reverie, as twenty towering Minotaurs formed up behind her.

Kiradia spoke softly as she stood, “We will be attacking the castle of Smarsh itself, do not rush off and attack other groups unless they attack us first. Now, let us go.”

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