Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by TheOneDemon
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‘’Raditsch? Master Einhard? I think I’ve found the flowers!’’
Marozia climbs the steep trail where last she saw her traveling companions, only to find it deserted.
‘’Hey, Raditsch, these look purple-ish enough. I hope these are the ones you meant.’’ Clutched in her hands is a sprout with a magenta-like bud, holding it forward. ‘’Where did everyone go?’’
Marozia looks around, before scaling towards the cliff where she last saw Einhard. After she looks down, Marozia drops the flowers in shock. “Oh no… Wha- what happened?!” Marozia blurts out to herself as panic begins to overtake her. She has spotted Einhard, down in the camp, far beyond reach and in the midst of soldiers carrying banners of the Lampertei Bear. She whimper; “No… I can’t be alone again...”




Captivity in the Lampert mountain camp

North of Skadania


His mace was ripped off his waist as the Paladin was swarmed by hands, tugging at him and pushing his face to the ground.
After he was disarmed, subdued and bonded, Einhard was pushed and pulled by at least a dozen men towards a cage, jeering and laughing at him the entire way.

‘’Take this Chlotar pig to the enclosure! Be swift with it!’’

Voices of men all around Einhard are clamouring. ‘’We’ll present him to Dalgiserius later!’’
‘’No, he’ll be a good snack for the Jet Hound… Ghahaha!’’

With a creak, a metallic door was opened, and the helpless Paladin was hurled inside. Then with a clang, the door shuts as a solid chain sealed around it.
Einhard digs his fingernails into the dirty wooden floor, feeling the anger well up in him over the betrayal by Raditisch. Einhard looks towards the guards who threw him into the cage, and growls “I’ll see each one of you strung up dancing.” Einhard turns his head back towards the floor and begins to feverishly recite the Godas Warrior Prayer.

O Allfather ruling from Lighthome,
may my deeds spell your name,
give me the sight to lead my people,
and vanquish those who lead us astray.
Show me the passion and fury to undertake your will,
for my journey has merrily started,
when the days have gone down in Visandza,
behind the hills and into shadow.
Godas give me strength.


‘’Stop your prayer, you bumbling idiot. God will not hear you here.’’ A man in a lamellar cuirass, with a grim blond stached face and missing eyeball appears behind the bars of the cage. The man sneers cruelly at the captured Paladin.
‘’Face it; you have none to blame this fate for but your damned self. You were foolhardy enough to trust a Lampert! Hahaha!"

Einhard eyes drift up towards him and he mutters to himself, “Perhaps I will lay you out on your bloody altars like has been done to my brethren.” The Lampert leans in closer with a hand placed to his hear. ‘’I’m sorry, can you repeat yourself, Chlotar muppet?’’ Einhard looks at him deadpan, and begins to contort his body to sit facing away from the guards.

There, from the corner of his eyes he catches a familiar presence entering the camp. A man in rags wearing a straw hat. It is Raditschs.
Einhard is immediately repulsed by the mere sight, and closes his eyes, whispering to himself; ‘’I see now why you would be cursed; you are damnable. ...You damned fiend.’’

The cursed man walks further into the camp towards the men responsible for capturing the Paladin, with whom he was in cahoots the entire time. Meanwhile the one eyed man that had just addressed Einhard is standing much further back, and the Paladin can recognise his orotund voice.

‘’Mighty King, we have captured the Chlotar King’s interloper. By the armor, he seems to be of high standing.’’

‘’Is that so…’’ A heavier voice yet replies. And in that moment, Einhard is overcome by an intense sensation of foreboding, giving him an inkling to whom the voice belongs. Then Raditsch walks past the cage, his head turning away perhaps in shame, to avoid eye-contact with the man he has betrayed. He walks straight towards Dalgiserius, and kneels before him.

‘’My Cuninc… King…’’
Dalgiserius turns around, leering at the man groveling at his feet. Through the bars Einhard catches a glimpse of the King’s large and imposing frame, most notably his dark beard, and bearhide mantle.

‘’I return faithfully to your service… In homage to mine eternal Lampertei allegiance, I brought thee the man that, by Chlotar Cuninc was decreed to bring about your reign’s endingaz.’’
The cursed man’s head hangs low in submission. And all can sense how he shivers.

‘’You.’’ The king quivers red with contained, seething rage.
‘’I told you what would happen if ever you dared present your mangy skin to me again…’’

‘’My King, I bid thee only redemption. In all my years of exile I have never stopped serving You, o King, and Lampertei. I bid thee…. I beg thee…. I am your most faithful, loyal, steadfa-’’ Dalgiserius did not let him finish. A brutal and sickly crack was heard as the King’s scepter smashed into the cursed man’s head, and with such forcefulness that Raditschs was flung into the air, out of sight and ferried straight to the afterlife.
After so many years of restless wandering, the damned man has at last been lifted of the King’s curse, though not in the way he had hoped.

A red stain is visible on the Lampert King’s scepter. The whole of the camp falls deadly silent, motionless, and not even the one-eyed man twitches.

Than Dalgiserius turns his gaze towards the cage, and spots Einhard looking at him. The two make brief eye-contact before the Lampert king approaches him. The whole of the cage seems to rattle tremblingly at the King’s approaching footsteps.

‘’So you are the Chlotar Interloper which the Dead Traitor brought to my camp. I know what you are, Godboy. You were tasked with destroying Lampertei? Don’t make me laugh… You are alone, abandoned -- there is nothing threatening about you. You’re a sniveling little pup, much like your master.’’
Dalgiserius’ scowling icy blue eyes pierce into the captive Paladin.

Einhard stares coldly back at Dalgiserius refusing to break his gaze and curtly replies, “Not even a drink for your honored guest?”

Dalgiserius bares his grinding teeth, yellowed, brittle and broken, likewise not breaking eye-contact or even blinking.. ‘’I would throw you to the dogs. Break every bone in your body. But not kill you.. no… Soon, Godboy, I will wipe that smile off your face. The Farigai have their ways of… cowing you.’’

The King turns his head sideways, and calls out: ‘’Gastald Liutpertus.’’

‘’Yes, my King?’’ The same one-eyed man of before steps to the fore, whose name is apparently Liutpertus.

‘’Show this Chlotar runt a taste of the Lampert hospitality he requested.’’
The gastald motions to two other Lamperts to help him remove the chain off the door to take hold of the Paladin. The King, meanwhile, turns away.
‘’Now, with this ‘’Chlotar threat’’ neutralized, I will be returning to my Hold…
Get me my horse, you hayborn mongrels.’’
Having uttered those words, Dalgiserius leaves the scene.

Einhard braces himself for the coming Lampert brutality and thinks of Marozia wandering the mountain passes all alone, “May Godas be with you young one” he whispers to himself.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Grey the Fairy
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Amalian District
Night before the final battle


Triscus stood there, his eyes wide and hand shaking as he took in the sight before him. An armoured soldier, weaponless, was lying in a pool of his own blood, surrounded by Amalian soldiers trying to save him. Sticking out of his neck was the haft of a pilum. HIS pilum. Triscus couldn’t stop the sight replaying over and over again in his head, the weight of the spear leaving his hand and landing dead on its mark. The jubilation he’d felt, and then the sickening realisation he hadn’t killed a Tautan warrior, but a Chlotar messenger moments after. “Is he dead..?” he asked the soldier closest to him, who looked back, nodding his head before speaking “Fucking hell… Good throw but… I’d wager yer in the shit now lad. We need to report this in, he’s got a message for the Legate.” As he said it, another soldier got up from the body, a bloodied note with hastily scrawled markings in his hand as he took off down the street. Triscus paled as he sank to the side of the street, narrowly avoiding a stream of sewage that ran parallel to the street, his eyes locked on the Chlotar body across from him. “Shit.”

The sound and screams of wounded men filled the harbour, drowning out even the birds as they flocked to any unattended dead bodies, Quintus walked through the rows of soldiers surrounding him gritting his teeth as he did his best to drown the cries out. He pulled himself onto a wooden parapet lining the edges of the harbour, standing upright before he looked down upon the rows of gathered men. To his front, the First Cohort stood, bloodied and battered, battle tested once more. Some sported bloodied weapons, dented shields, others stared forwards, the shock of battle still played in their eyes. They had taken casualties, the bodies of their comrades lay to their rear, an Amalian Priest was attending the bodies, whereas nearby, the squirming and writhing bodies of those unfortunate enough to not be killed outright were being tended to by Chirurgeons. Quintus had deliberately left them at the rear near the lapping waters of the harbour itself, out of sight, but with their cries piercing his ears, hardly out of mind.

“Sir, the reports in.” The voice forced Quintus to snap his gaze up from the exhausted, bloodied soldiers in front of him to the junior Officer who had pulled himself onto the Parapet beside him, behind him, hundreds of Amalian soldiers were making their way into the wide open harbour central, joining the First Cohort. Not as experienced as the First, Quintus knew they wouldn’t hold up as well in a fight, but with a wince he knew he wouldn’t have much choice but to use them. The Officer coughed, and Quintus nodded “Let’s hear it.”
“Fourth Cohort, Sixth and the Seventh are nearly gone. They joined the Tautom militia when the fighting began. Second, Third, Fifth and Sixth onwards are in good condition. We pulled the soldiers that didn’t betray us from those Cohorts into the Second. It is standing at about… Seven hundred strong.”
“Any deserters?” The Officer bit his tongue and nodded. “All Cohorts are reporting a lot of deserters sir… We haven’t done a full count yet, but…” the Officer trailed off. Quintus simply nodded. He’d lost three full Cohorts. He was standing at about three thousand men, the thought that men had abandoned their posts to flee an enemy inside a city angered him, but he didn’t show it, he simply grunted
“And Arminius?”
“He’s at the Harbour gate, with two engineers and … Something. They look like, giant fucking bellows sir.”
“Thank you. You’re dismissed.”
“There was one more thing sir.”

“Yes?”
“A runner appeared, asking for you sir… But. Well. Someone thought he was a Tautom runner. They… They killed him Sir.”
Quintus stiffened and turned completely to face the young man, his face knitting into a frown. It was unseemly to kill a messenger, even an enemy.
“Was it a Tautan runner? Did they at least get what he wanted?”
“No sir. It was a Chlotar. Vetericus is summoning you.”
“... Would he have me barking like a dog as well?” Quintus swore under his breath and looked down at the tired First Cohort, then up at the fresh faced soldiers behind them, Officers ran back and forth to organise the movements of such a large force. He spat on the wooden planks beneath his feet and growled “Put the man who killed that Chlotar in chains. I’ll deal with him later. We’re moving into the commons to link up with the Chlotar’s. Leave the First Cohort here to rest, I’ll summon them when we need them. Until then, they’re our rearguard.”
“Yes sir.” The Officer saluted, before turning to jump off the parapet, jogging off towards a nearby group of Officer’s awaiting orders. Quintus hopped down himself, walking towards his horse. He finally had the Celesean fire, he thought to himself as he saddled his white steed, the tool that was famed for bringing down kingdoms. And that was exactly what he had planned for it.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by StonemanCharles
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StonemanCharles

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Into the bowels of the Hidden Island


The Prince descended deeper into the earth. It was too dark to see, but the hare’s steps could be heard in front of him, leading him on. He knew he was not alone, and with this knowledge he continued on.
But the further he went and the deeper he walked into the earth, the more he was subsumed with the darkness about him. His surroundings merged into black. Alric stopped to listen. A distant and smothered breeze was all he could make out. He tried to listen out for the hare’s steps but the gentle patter had disappeared. The white hare was gone and Alric was alone.

A sliver of doubt. Had he just made a terrible mistake? Was the hare leading him astray?

He groped his hands about like a blind leper, trying to make out where the walls were. A wet smack was heard as his hand touched a cold, hard and moist rocky foundation.
Alric resolved to continue following the pathway down below. He felt as though something was calling on him, beckoning him from deep. And so, using the wall as a guide, he descended onward.

In what felt as surely hours, Alric could tell at last a point in the tunnel was reached where the ground ceased to slope down. He trod onto flat surface in a great chamber-like cave, though he could not see much in the darkness there; he could make out his surroundings with senses other than his eyes. The air there was moist, as was the floor he stood on, and the Prince heard in the space ahead the soft howl of wind, indicating an opening towards the surface somewhere far away.. And if he listened hard, he could hear droplets of water dripping down from an unseen roof.

The silhouette of a rock is at the centre of the cave. Coming closer, he hears a strange throbbing, a faint breathing coming from the rock. Then as his eyes attuned more to the dark, it dawns on the Eodaen Prince; he recognises it as a living being, as something like a sitting man hibernating like a cave animal, slumped over and shrouded in a cloak, its head covered by a large hat to which attached a veil, hiding its face.

“Who goes there?” Alric hesitantly spoke.

The faint throbbing stops. Though the man does not turn around or visibly reacts, clearly it seems to have heard him, Alric is sure of that. And so the Prince speaks again, repeating himself this time louder.

“I said who goes there? I was led here with purpose and I demand answers!” he called out to the figure.

Nothing, and demanding answers, Alric walks up to him, and places a hand on the man’s shoulder as to shake him awake.

...He shouldn’t have done that. Immediately the sitting man flings itself up, cloak fluttering as it lunges at the Prince, a sharp appendage outstretched, taking aim at him as if a lance.
Alric ducks just before the man strikes him, and he flies overhead almost striking the wall. A tremendous leap! After landing it immediately turns about with eerie silence, predatorily determined for another go. Alric takes stance, ready to jump out of the way if it attacks again.

“By God, what are you?” he yelled.

‘’Princeling of the Western Land.’’
The creature speaks with throaty and nasal rattles, affirming beyond a doubt that what the Prince is dealing with is no man. Having made a far leap as it just did, it couldn’t be a man.

Alric can make out mandibles beneath the veil as it talks.

‘’My master is upset.
You upset my master…
You, and all your nations.’’


“I don’t understand… I don’t know you, I don’t know your master, I just want answers.”
‘’Agreed; you don’t know my master. Your tribe has forgotten my master.’’

Though speaking with indignity, it lowers his talon-like appendage and seems willing to fight not with lance, but now with words.

Alric had been educated on legends about strange creatures of old but he only ever knew them to be that of myth. Since his escape from Halbuhr Castle reality seemed to make less and less sense for Alric. And now, after surviving fearful odds he was faced with something beyond his comprehension. He had only one path and that was to find answers.

‘’The only answer you will from me receive, is the answer of a beast. The road your races have taken, is one to downfall.’’

“Please, give me some kind of explanation. What are you and where am I? I’m so lost.”
Alric surrendered himself to the creature, he knew his options were to either turn back or place his full trust in the thing. And so the creature extended its arm and motioned to the pool of water sat at the end of the cave. Light emanated from the water which glistened. The Prince then looked to the being for assurance but it only stood, arm still pointed to the pool.

‘’I slumber, I ward the pond against you. Yet you are different from they, because I can sense his mastery within you.’’ Having said that, an intense vibrating sound came from the creature, amplified by the echoes reverberating from the cave walls, when a series of large insectoid wings sprung from the beasts’ back which the cloak had previously concealed. He flies to the pond, beckoning Alric to follow.
‘’Hither here.’’

Alric said nothing. He slowly stepped forwards toward the water. With his heart he trusted the creature as he had trusted the hare. The Prince’s life was no longer in his hands and he gladly gave it away. Falling to his knees, Alric stared into the blue water before suddenly the creature took him by the shoulders and dunked his body into the pond. Alric began to yell, his voice muffled by the submersion. He struggled until his saw a great light below. A calming light that beckoned to him and in that moment Alric became still. There, Alric experienced something greater. Light of all colours came from the depths of the pond and wrapped around his body like tendrils. They cradled him and suddenly the creature let go and his body slipped away, slowly being pulled deeper. In those seconds of submersion Alric saw his father Aethelbehrt, his ancestors. Alric saw everything and more. The tendrils began to let go and Alric surfaced. The creature pulled him from the water and the Prince fell back onto the ground, soaked with heavy breath.

“I… I don’t know what to say. That was…” Alric panted, he was lost for words.
“A Locust… I understand now, you’re a Divine Locust. That water, it revealed so much to me. I know what I must do, it’s clear.” He looked to the Locust.
“Your master, I felt him. But he isn’t just your master he’s master of all and we’ve… God, what have we become?”
In that moment of realisation Alric understood the great crime his people had committed. And the greatest criminal of them all was sitting on the throne: Badastan… His uncle had led Alric’s people astray.
And all that Alric had done over the past month was running, running from his duty as a Prince, running from responsibility. It didn’t sink in until now how complicit he is in their errors. No one but he can set right the mistakes of his father... the sins of his nefarious uncle. It is Alric’s duty to rescue the Eodaens for humanity’s second chance.

“Leave.” spoke the Locust. “If you wish the fate you’ve witnessed be averted, you must redeem your ancestors, the sins of your kin.”
“Thank you… for helping me see his light.” With that Alric and the creature exchanged a nod of farewell, and Alric made his way towards the tunnel through which he had come. As Alric opted to return to the surface, the Locust called out to him one last time:
‘’Take heed, for if we do meet again -- if you fail, we will meet as foes. Therefore make haste, make haste, across the icy waste.’’

Alric emerged from the cave and into light, and it seemed like years had passed on the surface in his absence. He saw the world with different eyes. Perhaps literally, because as he looked about him he saw an unfathomable sight:
the entire ocean had frozen over… The waves have crystalised to solid form, and the sea resemble glistering valleys and fields of blue -- the Icy Waste. Submersion in the pond had revealed much to Alric, and the Prince knew this to be an act of God. All the Prince had to do now was follow his instincts and cross the icy sea to save his people. And in extension, perhaps all the nations of Visandza. Despite his hunger and thirst, his tattered clothes and bare feet, Alric began his journey. His trust in God now unshakeable.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by neogreggory
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neogreggory Blade of the Boros Legion

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Last district of Defender held Tautom

The Luxurious Premises of the Marvelous Balti Palace


‘’Do you have business with the King?’’
Gateguard Pelos looks inquisitive at the lamellar sporting barbarian as he approached. The man was clearly a foreigner, and for a moment Pelos wondered if he was a Chlotar, but that couldn’t be. The city is about to fall, what is such a man doing here now at the very worst of times?
‘’State your business now; his majesty is quite busy at the moment.’’

The barbarian gives a sigh, as if he doesn’t know what to say. After half a second he finds himself again and states, “I am here to speak with your king, as a representative of the mighty kingdom of the Lamperts.”

‘’Lampert? A diplomat? You?’’ Pelos inspects the Gastald inquisitively.
‘’Are you the Lampert reinforcements of Lulupus? How generous of the Mighty Lamperts to send us one man.’’ The sentry grumbles sarcastically.
‘’And let me guess, that lamellar you wear is pillaged off the Amalians, right?’’ The sentry looks at Ardoiwn with an almost condescending frown.
The Lampert stares at Pelos with fire in his eyes at the blatant insult, but keeps silent on the matter, he was here as a representative of his king, and too many of his friends died to put him here.
Getting no response from the stoic visitor, the sentry shrugs, scratching his bulging neck muscle.
‘’Well. I’ll grant you passage. Not like it matters at this point.’’

The great door opens, and a large elaborate, gaudy throne room appears. On the back of the hall is the vacant throne, elevated high on top pyramid-like stairs.
It appears a banquet had taken place recently, with there being bits of confetti scattered over the floor, and tables of empty plates with bits of bone and crumbs. Also, the air is moist and steamy. A... banquet-sauna?

Ardoiwn hastefully moved across the room, he did not find any amount of relief in the wet air. As his boots crushed stray bits of paper he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of king this Orso was.
“Certainly not the same kind as King Dalgiserius.” He found himself saying aloud to himself. Perhaps, perhaps this man would be closer to what Ardoiwn believed a king should be…

‘’Hrm? Who let this funny looking man in?’’ One voice says.
‘’Ah, it’s the leader of that Mercenary Company from the Nova Street. I see you have recovered.’’ Another replies. Two men appear from an opening to an adjacent room, concealed behind the hall’s large white columns. One long haired, handsome and athletically built in an ornate plate muscle cuirass. The man behind him thin, almost sickly so, wearing only a towel and covered in a long cloak. At first Ardoiwn mistook the former man as King Orso, until he noticed that it is the gaunt man that has a regal diadem covering his forehead.
‘’I am Abadactus Rogan, Marshall of the Sacred Band. We meet again.’’
Abadactus then takes a step backwards to let Orso walk forwards. ‘’The King.’’
The gaunt man speaks; ‘’Yes Abacus, you don’t have to talk on my behalf now.’’ The pitiful King rubs the sweat off his forehead -- seemingly they came back from an intense meeting, or a sauna -- and looks upon Ardoiwn. ‘’So. You are a Mercenary leader?”

This… was not what Ardoiwn was expecting. Of course, he knew not what he expected of the king of such a place, but whatever it was it certainly wasn’t this. Ardoiwn simply stares for a moment too long before remembering his mission, his sacrifice, and most importantly, his king.
Falling down to a knee Ardoiwn states, “I am Gastald Ardoiwn, servant of the King Dalgiserius, master of all Lamperts. I am to offer to you my aid in these trying times. I was to offer my warband, but they fell to the enemy in your city.”
Ardoiwn stares at the stone floor. It feels as if a weight is slowly passing off him, perhaps it was the air, or the rest he got since the battle. “As per the orders and wishes of the King of all Lampertei I offer to you my blade until we are free of this threat, as well as the blades of any of my comrades who still yet live.”

Orso claps his hands in delight. ‘’That’s fantastic Ardon! You can begin right away! You’re a Castellan, you say? With you on our side, in addition to the exuberant support of the King of Lampertei, I am confident everything will be alright.’’ The King speaks with a laugh, and by the bliss on his face he seems to be whole-heartedly serious about his words. Then he proceeds to tap Ardoiwn’s shoulder with his scepter. ‘’Come come, stand up now, friend. You’re embarrassing me!’’

Ardoiwn stood, uncertain how to think of this jovial and seemingly foolish king. Ardoiwn’s mind felt hazy, soft.

The face of the Marshall, however, could be described as much more dire. He slowly speaks up with a brooding tone.
‘’Am I to assume your coming to Tautom... insinuates Baltia has achieved alliance with Lampertei? Did King Dalgiserius actually say such?’’

Ardoiwn’s thoughts returning to his king cleared his mind for the moment. Blinking once he took a deep breath. “No. My lord Dalgiserius has decided, in his wisdom, that the lands of his subjects need protection first and foremost. He allowed me and my- and the band of warriors he allows me to command to offer our aid only because we are not needed elsewhere.”

“See, Abacus?” King Orso snickers and smiles reassuringly.
“Why must you doubt such noble intentions and wisdom?”
He turns to the Gastald. “Ardon, your gesture will not soon be forgotten. In this dark hour we needed heroes, and here you are!
I thereby anoint you the… Grand Domesticus of the Royal… -”
Orso begins to mutter inwardly in contemplation. [i]“-wardrobe is taken, as is stool, as is blade, as is horse… Ah-” He looks back at Ardoiwn. “Ardon. You are Grand Domesticus of the Royal Rampart. Baltia’s last line of defense! We are short on commanders, and I wholeheartedly accept you and your fellows into our ranks.’’
Ardoiwn looked for signs of jest in the absurd king’s eyes. Some joke being played on him. When he found none he bowed his head and raised his hand to his chest, “Very well. I’ll serve how I can.”
Orso smiles and continues. ‘’Ardon, if it does not daunt you, will you take command of the Royal cohort on the left wall? They comprise mostly of evacuated militia and survivors of yesterday's fighting. You might yet make good use of them.”
With a nod Ardoiwn accepted his duties. “We will hold the line till the end, for the sake of those who did the same.” Ardoiwn then turn and left.

As soon as he was gone from the room Ardoiwn sighed a breath of relief. The weight of his loss returned to his shoulders again and he was comforted to once more feel the regret and pain. “Somehow, this is worse than the fear.” He muttered to himself as he wiped moisture from his face with his sleeve. He needed to collect his armor, make sure his spear was ready for combat. He needed to find his men, and then he needed to find the new men under his command. Then… Ardoiwn was thankful for the rest his near death gave him, for he realized that he would have need of it.
Hidden 5 days ago Post by Not Fishing
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Sea of (now) Frozen Tears

Battle on the Ice


The oceans have turned to vast, open fields of glistering ice, the waves crystalized into solid form. This would otherwise be a pretty magnificent and enjoyable view, but unfortunately both fleets are stuck in the ice, that of the Eodaen Royalists and Leofric’s rogue fleet both. Just as they were about to face off in a great naval battle.

"By the might of Xeaxaenot!" Thane Aelfgar called out from ontop the Herald of the Golden Acorn, his fleet’s flagship. [/i]"Our ship’s only stuck in the ice because some of you fools have not sacrificed enough acorns!"[i]

"Is there anything other than acorns that squirrels eat? i’ve not actually delved into squirrel diet, to be honest."

The swords of Badastan find themselves in a mighty inconvenience, for they were just about to engage the pirates. He takes in a whiff of the cold salty sea air, and seeing no sign of the ships being thawed out any time soon, the Thane opts for resolute and desperate decision making. He points his seax dagger at the opposite fleet: ‘’Get off the ships you fools, we’ll just have to walk over to them, and take them on the ole’ fashioned! way!’’

“By the grace of God!” Earl Leofric shouted from atop the Storm’s Herald, his personal ship. “Our ships must be stuck in the ice because a few of you lot haven’t mutilated enough squirrel priests!”

“I’m sure that’s the reason, my lord…” Aella muttered beside him, and they both shared a smirk.

“By God, are they… climbing off the ships?” Leofric asked in bewilderment.

“They are indeed,” Aella confirmed. “You want to head down to meet them?”

“We could do that,” Leofric acknowledged. “And we’d make fools of ourselves, slipping and sliding about, before ultimately coming to a bloody and unnecessary clash in the middle....” he shrugged. “Or, we could amuse ourselves by watching them make fools of themselves, while we wait here and stab them as they climb up.” He made a downward stabbing motion with his hand.

Aella nodded. “Crew, grab weapons and prepare to be boarded!”

Meanwhile, Leofric stepped down from the quarterdeck and walked up to the prow of his ship, stepping past Peric who hefted a boarding axe, as oarsmen abandoned oars for spears and swords. “Is that… is that who I think it is?” He cupped both hands to his mouth and leaned over the railing.

“AELFGAR! HOW’S THE WIFE!?”

The charging Thane at the fore of his warband pauses when he recognises the familiar voice.
"Whats that? That you, Leofric? I should have known you were behind the pirate attacks. Damn bastard, you haven't changed at all.
Childhood friend or no, you will be brought to justice for your crimes, you nutter.

Don't make me come up there and manhandle you back to Eodaland!"


“Manhandle me? It’d be a long walk, across all this ice!” Leofric called back, and despite both the danger and insanity of the situation, some of his crew laughed. “You’ll starve before then. You’ll have to eat your precious squirrels to survive! But yes, I might come down. How does single combat sound!?”

Moving nearer, Aelfgar eyes his former friend with a dismissive glare.
"It's not the old days anymore, friend. Now I stand before you as thane of the King, and therefore am in no position for thine wordcraft haggling."

He raises his Seax and shield as a man prepared to let metal sing his final words. "You and your misfit ilk have felled defenseless Demon-Squirrel Priests, Leofric. You will be made to answer for this sacrilege here and now!"

As he speaks, Leofric observes Aelfgar's band of warriors preparing to encircle the Storm’s Herald. Some of the frozen waves have left an upwards slope, which they have recognised as the perfect (if predictable) vantage point to board it from. Warbands from the royal fleet are all the while creeping towards the other ships in Leofric’s fleet, carrying with them harpoons and javelins.

Aelfgar continued over the ice until halting directly before the bow of Leofric’s ship, now looking him in the eye through his Sutton Hoo helmet. "In spirit of our Eodaen kinship, I shall show lenience: lay down your arms now and come along peacefully to answer for your crimes. I swear you; Badastan is a man of mercy... I will put in a good word for your sake to receive but light punishment.’’

While Aelfgar’s men advanced, Leofric’s own crew had not been idle. Perhaps twenty or so archers and crossbowmen came to stand by him. Aella and Peric had identified the potential vantage points, and were sending warriors to form lines facing those directions. The Captains of Leofric’s fleet were all of a similar mind, waiting upon some sort of signal from Leofric’s ship to act.

The self-proclaimed Lord-Captain smiled. “That’s a generous offer. But I have to say, Aelfgar, I don’t quite understand this talk of friendship.” He stroked his chin. “I might be misremembering, but I seem to recall being friendlier with your wife…” he shrugged. Perhaps it was a bluff, perhaps it was not.

What came next, however, almost certainly was not.

“LOOSE!”

Nearly two dozen arrows and bolts flew from the Storm’s Herald, peppering Aelfgar’s men. The other captains of the fleet took this as a call to action, and began to unleash barrages of their own. As for Leofric, his smile vanished and he retreated back to safety, drawing his sword as he waited for the enemy to board.

The Eodaen royalists, flabbergasted, could only just seek cover behind their shields. Some of them wailed and howled in pain as arrows struck true, and yet others were felled, the ice beneath them turning red. Aelfgar depended on his men’s superior numbers to overpower the rogues and could afford the losses.

After the pirates had drawn first blood, the royal Thane spoke no further, and signals the attack. "Smoke them out."

Squadrons of men, shields raised against arrow fire, trot towards the first row of frozen ships in the pirate fleet while archers of their own loose volleys of suppressing fire.

The Thane calls for his own battalion of battle hardened housecarls to seize the Storm's Herald, by climbing the frozen wave sloping directly against it when it was rocking the ship. It is the perfect vantage point - - too perfect, the obvious direction of attack. Accordingly, Leofric wisely positioned his men to take stance to hold off the attackers with a wall of spears. As forces collide, their spears jab against the housecarl shields in vain, causing others among the pirates to opt aiming for their uncovered legs. Noble blood drips on the ice, but Badastan's elite close in determined, their minds addled and drugged by mushrooms. And using their superior weight, heavy mail and shields they bash into the smaller cohort of spears. When hand to hand combat commences they jab their Seaxes at the spearmen. Sparks fly as metal meets. Blood stains the ice where the children of God and Squirrel-demon do battle.

The other ships were similarly assailed by warbands. Slowly moving, under constant fire and amid their little castles of shields on the treacherous slippery ice.

When reaching enemy hulls, they flung up harpoons in attempts to board the ships from different angles, though this had little effect, serving as little more than a diversion. For Leofric’s crew simply hacked away at them with axes and swords until they broke or were dislodged, causing the men climbing the ropes to fall back to the ice.

Some even used their longaxes to beat holes in the hulls under cover of shields in attempts to make the ships unseaworthy by the time the fleet thaws out. Or at least, that is what they'd hoped. Others were observed smearing the hull with a greasy substance. The squirrel-worshippers were trying out all sorts of devious schemes, it would seem.

This battle was to be a prolonged and slow bloody grind, but Aelfgar wouldn't have it. He was blessed by the King, for Squirrels Sake! And so the thane appeared amid the housecarls boarding the Storm’s Herald as they carved their way through the spearmen. Kill Leofric, the head of the snake, and the battle will be determined swiftly.

"Craven Leofric! Come forth and save your puny men, heretical worm!" He yelled from the group of men locked in battle.

“I’m right here, you fool!” Leofric shouted, wrenching his blade free some a man who stood between him and Aelfgar. With Peric and Aella guarding his flanks from any who would intervene, Leofric strode forward to meet the rival captain in single combat.

Spotting Leofric, the Thane’s eyes lighted up and he sprung forth... as men on both sides quickly parted to make way, for they could tell their commanders were about to meet. Holding a great round shield in one hand, and a brandishing Seax sword in the other, Aelfgar made a deft swipe for Leofric’s throat.

Leofric swatted the weapon aside with a contemptuous parry, before responding with an attack of his own...

For the next ten minutes, the Royal Thane and the Rogue Earl did battle in name and sight of their respective deities, and the onlooking men, some of whom paused fighting to watch, cheer and revel.

All the while bloody struggles took place on and nigh the other ships. When the men on the Storm’s Herald smelled and observed smoke, one of the Squirrel-worshipper’s machinations had been revealed. Some of them managed to ignite the hulls of some two or three of Leofric’s longboats by smearing them with pigfat they had carried along! Men on the flagship were bewildered by this turn of event, even among the Royalist crew.

Aelfgar smirks, still panting from the exhaustive hand-to-hand combat with the more than capable Leofric. ‘’The day is ours, traitor. Surrender now, and I might still stroke over mine golden heart and show mercy…!’’

Elsewhere, the crew on the burning longships did not stand idly by while their ships caught fire. They instead brought out heavy barrels of water, rum, tar, or provisions, and rolled them down the slopes of the frozen waves that touched their ship, clearing the slopes of attackers as most were inevitably knocked down and sent sprawling across the ice.

With weapons in hand, the defenders did not hesitate to seize the advantage: they slid down the slope after them, stabbing and slashing them before they could get back up. But landing on the ice, many of the selfsame attackers slipped and fell down themselves. A clumsy death-and-life grapple followed as both enemies tried to get up.

Meanwhile, as Leofric looked his foe in the eye, he decided he would not dignify Aelfgar’s demand with a response. He delivered a feint, making to thrust at Aelfgar’s leg, but then he suddenly gripped his weapon by the blade, hooked Aelfgar’s shield with the crossguard, pulled it down, and then jabbed the pommel up into Aelfgar’s throat.

Aelfgars reflexes were slowed from exhaustion, and as he tried to duck backwards was struck on his jaw. The blow was forceful enough that his Sutton Hoo helmet flew off, revealing Aelfgar’s lean face and red hair, as his ornamental helmet rolled away over the ship’s deck. The Thane was knocked to the ground, blood dripping from his chin as Leofric walked up, and pointed his blade at Aelfgar’s throat. “Yield!” he commanded.

Rubbing the blood and saliva off his face, Aelfgar slowly and hesitantly relinquished hold of his seax and shield, and raised his open hands with an affirmative grunt. The defeated Thane looks from the corner of his eyes to his men. The housecarls, though initially successful in beating off the spearmen and seizing much of the flagship’s deck, were losing ground as the first casualties had dropped, and dead from both sides lay prostrate and mutilated on board.

Most other royalist warbands had been repulsed, and in total, but two of Leofric’s longboats had been captured by the Royalists. Though Aelfgar had been bested, his warriors fought on… Until there rang a deep voice from afar:
‘’Stop!’’
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