Campaign (4): Ship Side Encounter

<<First
<<Previous

Back and forth, side to side, front to back, and side to side again. Gentle music softly graced her ears as Evalyn lay stretched out on her swaying hammock, the only soothing sensation present in several days. She welcomed it cautiously, keeping her eye on the one that coaxed the sweet melodies from his lute.

He’s got to be some sort of demon-spawn. . . Evalyn thought, peering at the bard from the corner of her half-closed eyes. Red skin, curling dark horns, long barbed tail. . . Definitely demon-spawn. The irony or perhaps hypocrisy, as usual, did not even occur to her as she judged the Tiefling purely by his appearance. She had only seen one other of his kind, in her own Shadowstriders, but Gallus had less pronounced features. And he was a thief!

She kept vigilance on the dwarf, as well, but he stayed on his hammock or out on the main deck. He never approached her or her group after introductions, and they returned the courtesy in kind. The bard, on the other hand, liked to try to loosen their tongues, tell their tales; Evalyn didn’t like the prying. It only made her more uneasy.

A shout on the deck cut through the lute’s tune, nothing unusual. A few more shouts and pounding feet on wooden boards stopped the Tiefling’s nimble fingers. Evalyn stretched and leapt up in one fluid motion. . . or attempted to. Fabric snagged her foot, and she tumbled to the floor from her lofty third hammock up. She managed a saving roll and sprung up easily enough to make it look like everything was in control. She didn’t look around to see if the others had seen and instead launched herself out of the passengers’ quarters, out to the topside. Clambering behind her informed her that the others were following closely.

“Ship! Aft port!” the lookout cried out to those new to the scene. Evalyn ran to the side and looked back. A sailor huff-grunted, and she turned his way.

“Other port, lass. . . This is starboard.”

She rolled her eyes at his strained smile and ran to the other side. Defying logic, a ship was rapidly catching up to them. That has to be magic induced speed, Evalyn thought and stared contemplatively at their unfurled sails. Too risky.

The sails seemed to catch more air suddenly, filling up and accelerating them forward. Evalyn jumped, startled, and looked around nervously. The druid had a look of concentration and waved his arms and hands around purposefully, muttering. She sighed in relief and looked back again at the pursuing ship. They still gained! She looked back at their main sail, at its limit and still not enough. Another glance and the ship already approached their broadside. There was no question of intent as men with swords drawn and ropes grasped lined up along the side of the main deck. Hatches on the side lifted up and big metal tubes rolled forward. A woman wearing magnificent garb and an even more magnificent hat with a magnificent feather shouted orders to the men. Magnificently.

Nothing ever goes smoothly, does it?

Their own men lined up grimly, the captain shouting his own orders. Not nearly as magnificent. She sighed, drew her sword, and stirred the wind around her. She noticed Unforn staring at her uncertainly and chose to ignore it. I’ll worry about that later. It was bound to happen.

One of their sailors threw a couple of planks side by side extending to the enemy ship. A few men ran across. Evalyn jumped up soon after and noticed a line of men on the enemy ship across the deck holding up strange metal pipes. What the- Small explosions came from the pipes and a few of theirs fell to the deck, clutching gaping wounds. She heard a faint zip and felt her protective winds alter the trajectory of a small projectile.

I don’t like that, she thought. Not one bit. She rushed ahead, slaying a man with a saber who stood in her way. She heard clinking behind her and turned, alarmed. Jack stepped onto the planks.

“What are you doing?!” she yelled.

“Crossing to the fight?” he said, puzzled.

She shrugged, rolled her eyes, and shook her head. He better not fall into the water; he’ll sink to the bottom for sure.

Unforn and Turchak jumped into the fray, and even the druid joined the fight, throwing spells at the men with the strange metal tubes. One of these men turned, saw Jack about to get onto the boat, and fired. The shot landed, and Jack was put off balance. Shit! That idiot! Evalyn saw this and took off in an instant, dodging several blows as she made her way back over. Jack made the classic futile gesture of waving his arms in an attempt to recenter himself over the planks. He fell.

Evalyn managed to grab his arm and cried out as her own tried to pop off her shoulder. Realization seemed to finally sink into Jack’s face. “Dumbass,” she grunted with effort. Together, they somehow dragged him up, back into the relative safety of the battle.

Many of their attackers were down and victory appeared to be close at hand. The enemy sorceress had not stayed out of the fight, Evalyn saw. Their ship was ablaze. Bigger explosions rang out from below and giant gashes splintered into their hull. Guess we’re staying on this ship. . .

When the last pirate fell, they turned to the sorceress, her death in their eyes. She didn’t look frightened at all but backed up to the aft of the ship. They approached cautiously, like one would a cornered animal. She jumped over the edge and disappeared into the depths.

Inexplicably, Trev jumped in after her, transforming into a shark mid dive. Evalyn and Jack exchanged surprised and confused looks before running into the lower decks to root out any additional hostiles.

There were a dozen or so in one of the lower decks near bigger pipes on wheels. Cannons? Evalyn guessed based on rumors she had heard in some forgotten city.

A few were quickly dispatched, and the rest surrendered. The ship was theirs. After securing their captives, they went back up to the main deck, looking for signs of the shark elf.

Several minutes passed, and if Evalyn had cared about the druid she would have been worried. As it was, she turned to Jack and their captain, who was overseeing the hurried transfer of any salvageable goods left on the sinking wreckage of his old ship. Just before she suggest they give up the druid for dead, a bloody hunk of bone and muscle flopped up onto the deck and transformed back into an elf, albeit one who was missing some skin in various locations, torn by what looked to be many razor teeth.

Evalyn’s stomach lurched, but she kept everything down. “What the hell happened to you?!” she exclaimed instead.

“Piranhas,” Trev wheezed.

“Piranhas. . .” she said, not quite processing the scene before her.

“Little fish? Swarm? Love blood?” he said, groaning as he attempted to sit up. Unforn ran over to help him with his wounds.

“I know what they are, smart ass. What were they doing here?

“Trying to kill me, obviously.”

“Thought you were good with animals,” she smirked.

“They were under her command.”

“Excuses.”

“Wow, Evalyn,” Jack laughed. He hadn’t moved either, and they watched Unforn help bandage Trev as Trev scrunched his face in pained concentration. Leafy green light shimmered around him, and most of the bite wounds closed and disappeared.

“What?” she asked, unabashed.

“Nothing, nothing,” Jack responded, laughing and shaking his head.

Evalyn caught sight of the Tiefling and dwarf. They were inspecting the metal pipes, the dwarf very enthusiastic. “Do any of you know what those are?” she asked.

“I think they are called guns. They’re a relatively new invention from some country or another,” Unforn answered. “I don’t think I would want an explosion in my hands, controlled or not.”

As Evalyn decided she agreed and turned to find quarters in the new ship, mist lazily rolled over the deck and soon swallowed them whole. A chill ran down her back and dread into her heart.

The island was near.

 

Advertisements

Campaign (3): Courtyard Caper

<<First
<<Previous

The creaking of the ship as it gently rocked made Evalyn uneasy at first. She was accustomed to sleeping lightly, keeping an ear out for such sounds, and now she attempted to tune out those would-be warnings. Soon, there would be the rolling nature of the ship to add to her discomfort. And yet, she was eager for the ship to depart.

The morning fog fled the sun’s touch, and the docks teemed with townspeople again. Evalyn stood on the top deck, left hand resting on her short sword’s pommel, waiting for the remaining two members of their new gang. The elf stood with her, occasionally commenting in an attempt to goad her into conversation, but she ignored him for the most part. He was prattling on now about the beauty of nature or some such. She watched as burly men (now there was some beauty of nature) loaded supply crates onto their ship, many of the crates those purchased by her new employer the previous day.

As if summoned by her thoughts and announced by great clanking as loud as any king’s trumpeters, up came Jack from the bowels of the ship, strapping his long sword to his hip. Unforn followed from a distance hauling an unhappy Turchak.

“Are you ready?” Evalyn asked Jack.

“Of course.” His voice betrayed nothing other than excitement. He seemed to fidget but not from nerves, she guessed. He practically bounced on the balls of his feet; she imagined he would be jumping if his armor was suddenly removed and chuckled at the thought.

“What’s going on? Why are you laughing?” Trev asked, glancing back and forth between Evalyn and Jack.

“Jack has a duel in about an hour or so,” Unforn answered, placing Turchak on the deck. The wolf perked up after standing in open air.

“Oh. And I assume we can leave after that?”

Evalyn stared at Turchak and then pointedly at the elf. “Hey, aren’t you a druid?”

“Uh, yeah. Why?”

“This guy isn’t a druid and has a wolf. You’re telling me you don’t have an animal?”

Jack laughed and said, “Yeah, what kind of druid are you?”

“Oh, I didn’t know you wanted to meet my friend,” he replied and then made a loud, shrill cry. A hawk swooped down and landed on his staff, tilting its head back and forth to take everyone in.

On closer inspection, Evalyn noted he was a ferruginous hawk, and memories of her father flooded in unbidden. She shook her head to clear it. “What’s his name?”

The druid made a noise, a combination of clicks and shrieks. The bird stood taller, and Trev grinned proudly. Birdbrained elf.

“Sorry I asked,” she replied, rubbing her ear as if pained. Trev didn’t seem to notice or care as he presumably conversed with his hawk. “Shall we?” she asked, turning to Jack.

“After you.”

They wormed their way through the crowd to the less infested streets. After wandering many alleyways, they found the plaza as the sun reached its zenith. As they approached, so too did Marus and his seconds. Evalyn noted his helm was indeed quite impressive.

“Good to see at least one of Ern’s followers has a spine. My men did not believe you would show your face,” Marus’ deep voice rang through the suddenly silent space. The tension was nearly tangible, and Evalyn was happy she wasn’t the fool about to duel the imposing man some thirty feet away; a mile would be too close for comfort.

“Yes, we all know you talk big, but let’s see how well you fight,” Jack bellowed back, drawing his blade and readying his shield. Marus appeared to attempt a smile though the result was more of a disdainful grimace. He dawned his helm and likewise prepared himself.

Evalyn barely heard the crunch of rock on rock through the clatter of the metal clad men approaching one another when three Darkblades burst forth from an alley, instantly the center of everyone’s attention. They quickly took stock and drew their weapons upon the sight of her.

“You are interrupting a fight of honor. Stand down,” Marus growled, clearly irritated by the intrusion.

“These people have been harassing my companions quite stubbornly. I doubt they’ll stop now,” Jack responded. As if to confirm his point, two additional Darkblades tried to slip in and would have succeeded had the area not been so scrutinized. Evalyn drew her short sword and stretched her offhand to check the dart up her sleeve.

“Give us the woman and we’ll cause you no more trouble,” the closest one demanded, voice muffled by the mask each of them now wore. Jack and Marus exchanged incredulous glances. Without saying a word, they both changed their stances to face the new threat.

The Darkblades quickly caught on, and the late comers moved to flank. Anticipating their maneuver, Evalyn flung her dart at one and missed, but he became hesitant to continue his movement. She hadn’t waited to see how fared her aim and launched into her attack on the nearest foe. Her blow connected but only seemed to focus her would-be victim as his armor blocked any damage from getting through. She was vaguely aware that Unforn and Turchak had entered the fray and that Trev had most certainly not, choosing instead to back away and observe. She could hardly blame him.

The two paladins made short work of all that opposed them, and she herself took out a couple with some well placed backstabs. The battle ended within a few minutes, every Darkblade dead on the street. Evalyn sighed. I wanted to avoid this, but you were all so persistent. Look where your greed and ambition got you, she thought as she sifted through their pockets. Only five gold among you?! Shouldn’t have paid that guard so much, you morons.

“Uh, Evalyn?” Jack asked. She looked up and noticed Marus’ disgust and Jack’s feigned indifference. Trev had rejoined them and looked surprised and concerned.

“What?”

“You’re pretty quick to go pilfering the dead. . .”

“Oh. Well, it isn’t exactly ‘pilfering’ now, is it. Does ownership really exceed death?”

“Nope!” Unforn happily proclaimed, and she turned her attention his way to see him systematically stripping their deceased assailants and placing their armor, weapons, and various other items in a heap.

She turned back to the paladins and said, “And you’re giving me a hard time.”

Marus, disgruntled, rumbled, “You fought well, for one of Ern’s. We need not duel today, but the next time I see you, perhaps then we will cross swords.”

“I look forward to it,” Jack replied as Marus tromped away.

All but the diligent Unforn watched his exit, and when he and his were out of sight, Trev quietly inquired, “So now that your fighting thing is done, what’s next on today’s list?”

“A visit to some armor and weapon merchants, obviously,” Unforn answered.

Next>>

Campaign (2): It’s a Party

<<First
<<Previous

They headed off to the docks, Jack happily leading the way. Jack’s merry, metallic tromp turned into a slower, wrathful march. Evalyn peeked around him and saw another paladin in dark armor, helm off, speaking in loud, attention-grabbing tones.

“Here’s another of Ern’s people. Proud and ignorant as ever.”

“And here’s another coward who hides behind his words because he doesn’t have the steel to fight,” Jack brashly proclaimed back.

The man’s eyes hardened, and he paused to size up Jack and his companions. A small, angry smile played across his lips. “Bold words. If you believe what you are saying, you would not back from a challenge, right?”

“Of course not!” Jack belted.

“Then tomorrow, here, noon. We’ll duel and see who is the lesser man.”

Jack nodded firmly, and the man with his own companions clanked away. A moment passed as Evalyn and Unforn exchanged confused glances, and suddenly Jack seemed to almost melt. “Shit. That guy is a badass. He might murder me tomorrow. Care to be my seconds?”

“Uh, suuure. . . Who was that?” Evalyn’s tone was forcefully blithe.

“Remember those enemies of my church? The Fallen is one such group. That man is Marus, leader of the Fallen. . . And brother to Ern.”

“Ern? Like, the god you follow Ern?” Evalyn asked, stunned.

“Yeah. . . Remember how he used to be a mortal? Well, that was his brother.” Jack sighed. “His helm was awesome, too.”

The trio walked to the docks in relative silence. The docks themselves were as expected: crowded, smelly, and loud, but oddly not unpleasantly so. They managed to make their way through the masses to one of the smaller vessels. As Jack stepped up to climb aboard, a decrepit woman hailed them, her voice somehow cutting through the din.

“You are travelling to the island that once was lost.” It was not a question.

Evalyn answered anyway. “Yes. . .?”

“Then please, take these trinkets for good luck.” She handed carved wooden necklaces to each adventurer. Evalyn immediately put hers on with a shrug of her shoulders and noticed the others do likewise.

“Thank –” Evalyn began, turning toward the woman. . . who was hobbling away. “What is it with these people?” Evalyn muttered under her breath and swiftly caught up. “Thank you!” She said quickly before the old hag could escape. “Take this with my gratitude.” She handed the woman some copper pieces. The crone accepted with an expression one part amusement, three parts condescension before shuffling away. Evalyn turned back toward the others who both had similar gazes. “What, I can’t give a bit of compensation? It’s luckier that way, right?” She grinned widely, and they rolled their eyes nearly simultaneously. What a couple of wet blankets.

The two men walked across the gang plank, wolf trailing uncertainly behind them. As Evalyn began to follow suit, she looked back toward the old woman in the crowd. That druid from outside the wall was talking to her, accepting one of her trinkets. HE definitely needs one, Evalyn thought. He can use all the luck he can get. Ha! Petition. But he wasn’t her problem, so she hopped onto the deck to catch the last of the discussion between Jack and the captain of the ship. Money exchanged, hands shaken, and they were off the boat once more. . .

. . . And the druid walked aboard after them. Great, maybe he will be my problem. The elf stopped as if he heard her thoughts and turned to them.

“Hey, are you guys going to Lemuria, too?” His voice was gentle but not nearly as musical as she thought elven voices were normally.

“What’s it to you?” Evalyn asked before Jack could respond. He elbowed her in the ribs.

“Shut up, maybe this guy can help us,” he told her then turned to the druid. “Yes. Do you want to join us and share resources?”

“Sure! I’m not good with people, so. . .”

“So what?” Evalyn asked irritably.

“So. . . if you have a problem with me, you’ll have to tell me. I won’t really get hints.”

“Ookaay. . . who would ever have a problem with you?” She rolled her eyes.

“Wow, what’s your problem, Evalyn?” Jack asked with an amused half smile.

“Yeah, Evalyn, what did this guy do to you?” Unforn joined in, looking as if he held back a laugh.

“I don’t know what’s going on or what seems to be funny, but my name is Taurvantian,” the druid said slowly, glancing among the three of them confusedly. “And I like your wolf.”

“Thanks,” Unforn replied, puffing up his chest slightly. “His name is Turchak. Good to know some people appreciate him,” he said pointedly. Evalyn waved dismissively.

“So, Torvanton?” Jack asked.

“Taurvantian.”

“Trevantian?”

“Taurvantian.”

“Trevor?”

“Taurvantian.”

“I’ll just call you Trev, how about that.” Jack looked pleased with himself; “Trev” did not. Evalyn grinned wickedly.

“Trev it is,” she said cheerily.

Next>>