Setup for a battle - the DE sail to reave and make war

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    • Setup for a battle - the DE sail to reave and make war

      The hissing crashes of waves upon the hull of The Hammer felt like home. Muirion glanced about himself authoritatively, sending sailors hurtling at their tasks with redoubled vigour. He suppressed a smile.

      The long black overcoat Muirion wore was greyed with brine, while the golden trim still held its shine. He grabbed a hold of the railing, wiping sweat from his forehead with a sleeve. The late morning sun bounced blindingly off the gently roiling sea. Muirion looked upon his fleet affectionately.

      There was the swift, sleek Viperion on point as ever, barely visible in the horizon. The scouting frigate was the fastest ship Muirion had ever seen, and now, his. A gift from the Sea Lord himself.

      Closest to The Hammer right at her heels swam the mighty transport ship, Beast, now cutting disturbingly shallow, burdened only by her crew; Muirion was out to change that. Beyond the Beast another frigate was seen, a slim-framed black beauty with triangular sails gliding over the surf called the Zephyr’s Bride. Behind the Beast and the Hammer came a smaller transport ship, lightly armed but carrying vital extra supplies; Stargazer, the fleshy soft spot of the fleet, the tender underbelly of the kraken.

      Trailing them all, invisible from this point, would be a third frigate, the Wrathfish. Behind Muirion’s back was the fourth escorting frigate, the Red Sister, Muirion knew. Underneath his black, oiled boots swayed the great battleship Weeping Hammer, the flagship of the raiding fleet.

      The fleet’s strength of arms was nothing to sneer at, yet Muirion didn’t feel quite at ease in these waters. 600 Storm Viper corsairs sailed with them, though under Muirion they were beginning to be known as Red Vipers. Of the 600 about 400 could be detached at any given time from their ships to join ventures inland. There were also 300 legionnaires of the Suneater Division on the ships, armed with bows and shields and short spears.

      300 Immortals of the Sovereign’s personal elite were allocated to Muirion’s command, as well as 250 Scorpion Guard greatswords of his personal training. 140 Spectre scouts would be dispatched as forward reconnaisance at each landfall, and 18 heavy bolt throwers were distributed among the ships, three of which could be dismounted from the vessels and brought along inland.

      Each of the frigates were crewed by 65 elves and 20 slaves each. 25 Vipers and 20 legionnaires who sailed and fought, and 20 sailors with other secondary tasks like cooking and navigation. The frigates’ captains and key officers were never allowed to leave their ships unattended, so they had to be excluded from the fighting strength when engagements took place on land.

      The Beast was sailed by 200 Vipers and 50 sailors, with 50 sailing slaves on board at departure. Returning, she often carried slaves well in the excess of a thousand-and-a-half souls. The Stargazer had 40 Vipers, 40 legionnaires and 50 sailors along with 40 slaves to crew her.

      The Hammer herself had the most formidable fighting strength, her sails manned by 60 Vipers, 180 legionnaires and 40 sailors. 60 slaves performed the most menial of tasks, while all the 540 of the Scorpion Guard and the Immortals combined barely took part in daily labours, elite as they were.

      2 bolt throwers were affixed to the frigates, the three foremost of which held all of the Spectres as well. The Hammer held 5 of the war machines, two of which were detachable. The Beast had three, while Stargazer held two, one detachable.

      The Beast, now hauling mainly supplies and empty cargo holds, was also the floating bestiary of the fleet. It held some 80 mules, 20 horses for messengers, and a single war hydra. After a good raid, if supported by Stargazer uninterfered, it could haul nearly 2000 captives from three weeks away, measured from the City of Elder Stars’ harbor.

      These waters east of the Kingdom of Aecil were a cause of worry for Muirion because he knew them to be pirate-infested. There were the Freemerchant Guilds of Ironburg, “free market” meaning the freedom to liberate any goods not protected enough for their own use, as well as the independent privateers harbored in Dagger Bay whose government officially had nothing to do with them yet readily enough accepted their trade, to mention the major players amidst the myriad of lesser cutthroats of the region.

      More than these, however, Muirion wanted to avoid the third major power stalking these waters. At the northeastern tip of the coast, nestled between the shoulders of the mountains shielding Aecil, flows a mighty wide river called Giant’s Tears. There by its shores, amidst redwoods of nigh-unimaginable height, sits the city-state of Hoarders’ Cove. It is said that the ogres who rule there build impossible floating fortresses with whole redwoods for masts, with their diminutive kobold underlings called Scraplings scurrying about the decks and the riggings. These behemoths of the sea are large enough to house the famously devastating ogrish cannons on board, and it’s easy to imagine even a single hit from such to be doom for most ships of this age.

      In particular, Muirion had been receiving reports of late of the terrors sowed by one Soronn, an ogre lord better known by the name Coffer-Maw, a raider known for his cruelty as well as exceptional wealth. His great warship was known as the Cloud Castle for the home of the Titans of myth, though no one seemed to know if the pirate lord himself had another name for the imposing vessel.

      Muirion’s contemplations were interrupted suddenly by a presence he felt to his right. There, in the shadow of the aft tower of The Hammer, was a shimmering blot of darkness deeper than the shadows.

      “You may approach”, Muirion called out to the shadows, which then shifted revealing a ceremonial bronze mask of the elven god of death staring back at him. The masked figure bowed, shrugged a cloak behind its shoulders and glided with cat-like grace towards Muirion. The shadows dissipated as the cloak was pulled back, now showing a plain black woolen garment draped about the shoulders of a male elf clad in snugly fitting armour stained a murky grey to reflect as little light as possible.

      “My liege”, said the figure in greeting with a slight metallic twist to his voice from the mask, touching lightly at his breast with a gauntleted hand. “Red-Hands”, Muirion addressed him. “You come bearing news”

      “The vermin have surfaced in the port city of Telosus as expected. Aecil was caught unawares. At the swarm’s helm scurries one they call Stormeye, apparently an adept of their strange machine cults. Some reports conflict, however, as to whether or not that one would be the one calling the shots; there is another, herding great packs of wolfrats that the rest seem to fear greatly. A third commander would seem to be there in the capacity of the battlefield engineer; the filthy skitterers have brought forth all manner of rickety contraptions to plague the humans. The southern parts of the city along with the harbor are overrun, though reinforcements are mustering at the capitol.”

      Muirion looked down the length of his nose at the assassin, raising an eyebrow. After a moment’s pause, the masked warrior continued, “we will be in time to hit the port once or mayhaps twice even before the main army of the humans arrives, my Prince”. With a renewed sense of purpose Muirion turned back to the seas, and dismissed the assassin.

      Prince. Muirion still had trouble at times aligning himself with the title. Having borne it for almost a century seemed little help at the task; he often wondered if those born into nobility would feel more at ease with their lofty station.

      Lord Dominator. Now, there was a title Muirion could more readily own up to. He had been a natural storm of talent when it came to anything related to slave trade, rising quickly through the ranks to control all of it within the Black Sun.

      Admiral of the Weeping Hammer Armada. This felt like a natural continuation to his ever increasing ambitions regarding the accumulation of slaves and wealth. The flotilla had a grand battleship bearing the name of the fleet, and was supported by four swift frigates and two large barges for transporting plunder, which mainly consisted of people.

      The Deeplord. The moniker was said to refer to Muirion’s seafaring lifestyle, but of course he knew it actually hinted at his ever steepening spiral into the depths of madness. The secrets of the arcane never yielded themselves freely, and Muirion’s toll seemed heavier than most.

      A simple, long robe of fine fabrics was lazily wrapped about Muirion’s tightly wound frame. The prince was on edge, pacing nervously around the desk in his quarters below deck. On occasion he would trifle through the disorganized littering of parchments upon his desk, soon turning away in frustration, seemingly unable to concentrate.

      He thrust out a silver goblet at an anxious paige standing ready with an ewer by the entrance. A deep red liquid filled the cup, but lasted only for three long draughts before the fist squeezing the ornate vessel was pressed against the forehead of its bearer, wrinkled by a distraught grimace.

      “L-lord?”, a young voice cracking in fear inquired, as the paige looked on, unsure whether or not to offer up the ewer again. A moment passed. Muirion cast the goblet at a nearby wall, bellowing. “Leave me!” Not a moment’s peace tonight; the voices were back. “Leave the wine!”

      Muirion twisted his fingers into a half-closed fist, drawing aether into a knot within it until it sparked faintly. The exercise seemed to calm the elf lord’s nerves a touch, as his breathing steadied.

      “The Veil grows thinner about me”, thought the prince, pouring another drink. “I do wonder how long until I am sucked up to the other side”

      He drank deep, sighing.

      “To the side where the whispers come from”
      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Phaeoron ().

    • In almost total darkness the atmosphere upon the Hammer was eerie to say the least. The night wind sighed upon the canvas overhead, and the waves more whispered than crashed upon the mighty wooden hull of the ship. Deck hands called out occasionally, the tension in their hushed cries a clear sign of the danger ahead.

      Muirion had decided to port his fleet. An audacious move to put it lightly.

      His hopes rested in the firm belief that the humans' defences were rendered inoperable by the vermin assault. Strong evidence of this was of course the only thing clearly visible in these small hours of starless night: a city in flames, silhouetting wrecks of ships at the harbour.

      The ruddy glow of the destruction was beginning to illuminate masts and faces on deck as the fleet neared its destination. Muirion turned to his personal guard, 11 elves hand picked from the ranks of the Scorpion Guard and trained in sorcery by the Admiral himself. As their master and tutor, they carried huge two handed swords, and had a crescent moon crest on the brow of their helms, a mockery of the sigil of Canreig academics.

      Nodding, the Lord Dominator donned his plumed greathelm, brandishing his sword high in the night air. The mirror polish of the weapon reflected the great fire raging ashore, and then took on a flame of its own at Muirion's will. The prince often favoured pyromantic weaves when infusing his steel with magic. This had earned his blade the name Cinderfang among his followers, alas he himself simply referred to it as Knife.

      His conclave mirrored his gesture in silence, and then turned to the railing to face the blaze they were headed into. Viperion had already had her lines cast on the stony pier of the grand harbour, and like ants Spectres slipped over the side to spill into the city, bows in hand. No resistance was made to their advance.

      Cries of alarm turned Muirion's attentions towards the aft tower of his galleon. There, he found a familiar presence at the edge of his senses as he peered into the darkness behind his ship where Beast was hissing and splashing through the surf. A metallic voice spoke out in the black, "we are not alone".

      True enough, lanterns of an entire fleet of ships could be made out far in the dark sea. "How did that many ships catch up to us unseen?", Muirion demanded in stringent tones of his head of intelligence. The assassin replied, "Lord, it is all a single ship, One believes".

      Muirion breathed a few tight breaths before whispering, "The Cloud Castle". "Yes, my Prince", replied Red-Hands, "It seems the fog trailing us was no weather of the world. Or awesome luck for Coffer-Maw"

      Muirion squeezed the railing. "We are committed. We must make strong our position inland before they reach the harbour. No single ship can keep us from casting off, and we will not risk open battle at sea where her guns have the advantage."

      A leering mask of the death god turned in the darkness to face the lord of its owner. Muirion grinned in a feral manner.

      "Let them come to us"
      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Phaeoron ().

    • One looked about oneself in the predawn gloom, one’s elven eyes well adjusted to the half light. Fires still raged in the buildings to one’s right, their glow dulled by thickets of elm trees, leafless in the late autumn cold. Frost crunched softly underfoot as silvered blades of grass gave way to soft leather soles of black boots. To the left the eastern horizon showed an amber glow of the coming dawn climbing over the shoulders of a range of mountains.

      Blots of darkness glided along one’s side towards the south, following a shallow stream towards the sea. Hollers, squeaks and chitters emanated from up ahead, ringing clear over the steady droning of hundreds of foot steps and groans and creeks of wooden constructs being hauled forth.

      Without command or gesture the shadows trailing one came to a sudden halt as one ceased one’s advance. Metallic flashes of the visage of Nabh’s deathly aspect gave one inquisitive glances from amidst the shrouds of darkness as one crouched down in the open ground. One signaled with a hand that all ten of them should hold position, and then took a quick look behind oneself to the north, where lines of black clad warriors marched in lockstep to form a battle line.

      The shadow clad scouts were one’s personal guard, raised from the ranks of Prince Muirion’s warriors to be personally trained by one as assassins. They bore the same ceremonial death masks as one did, but theirs were black iron while one’s own was cast of bronze, signifying one’s position as the Red-Hands in command of the Carmine Fingers as his fighters were called. Xothudra was the name give to one by the Sovereign himself, but it felt as alien as Antharyan, the name of the elf one had been before the whips and irons.

      One pulled one’s cloak tighter about oneself, draping a veil of black that radiated out from the fabric over one’s form to obscure the shape of one’s body. These Shadowheart Cloaks were precious beyond measure, and only a few sorcerer’s in the Sovereign’s employ knew the secrets of their making; an arduous and time consuming process. The end result was one of the most impressive magical artefacts one had ever heard of, for not only did the Cloaks help hide one’s warriors from enemy eyes, but the dark magics also seemed to seep into the poison-coated weapons of their bearers, eating into even the mightiest of foes in moments, a black rot instantly festering in the wounds causing terrible agony and swift death.

      The low hills up ahead were alive with skittering movement. Bipedal rodents bearing arms and armour moved about, chittering with voices almost too high-pitched to hear. A hillock with a more considerable elevation was stood to the east side of the battlefield to be, and for a good while one had spied movement in its shadow; one had dispatched some hundred Spectre scouts there to investigate, their grey cloaks almost as effective a camouflage as the Shadowheart Cloaks of one’s Fingers at this distance.

      Crashing and creaking drew one’s attention back towards the south where the vermin were forming to obstruct the path of the army of one’s lord. Two towering constructs thundered into view between the lines of the rat-like warriors, resembling enormous wheels of water mills set to move across the terrain with the power of a dozen naked rat-men caged to run within at the whips of their kin. Some unholy mechanical inventions were set upon the hulls of these engines of destruction, occasionally arcing a sickly green bolt of lightning to smite the earth about the wheel.

      Looking behind, one could see that his prince had readied his host to take on the verminous hordes. Directly behind stood the Red Vipers with their wicked cutlasses in hand, and beside them snapped and snarled the many maws of Ashrach, a gigantic hydra, corrosive saliva trailing from her jaws. In the middle of the warriors a firing base was set upon the sandy shore right at the edge of the waters of the river for three ballistae brought from the ships.

      On the east side of the river stood the lines of Suneater Legionnaires, their shields stuck to the ground in front of them to free their hands to operate the recurved bows of horn and layered yew they were famous for. Behind them, in reserve, stood the greatsword wielding Scorpion Guard. The eastern flank was guarded by a contingent of the Guard of the Undying Night, the elite halberdiers with unflinching loyalty for the Black Sun ideal.

      On the far eastern flank the Spectres were slipping behind the hill, which to one’s eye seemed now devoid of any occupation. He waved his Fingers to take cover in the nearby elm wood in the west as the western flank of the rodents’ army marched into view. Monstrous rats the size of large hounds swarmed in impossible numbers, their constant squealing taking on an eerie air in the morning gloom. Beside them bounded forth a dozen monstrous forms vaguely resembling the smaller rat men but the height of two elves standing on each other’s shoulders and rippling with muscle, salivating at their fanged maws.

      As the first rays of the sun swept the scene, the lines of the rats lurched forth. The elvish line took their time adjusting to the advance of their foes, shuffling forth with seeming reluctance. The wheel-like contraptions gave unearthly whirs and booms of engines as the ground forward spewing putrid fumes and arcane lightning. As they gained momentum their whirring rose to a high-pitched keening that suddenly gave way to an ear-rending clap of thunder as the energy stored in the unholy engines about the wheel’s rim was released in a bolt of lightning.

      The machine closer to one’s position in the western side of the field discharged its destructive power to smite Ashrach, whose screams were drowned by the crashing thunder of the lightning exploding into a shower of sparks hissing violently in the air. Two of the mighty hydra’s five heads hung limp against her side, smoking, as she lurched forward howling in rage.

      One heard the other war engine whirring up its charge as a decision formed in one’s mind and one drew the twin blades hanging by one’s one’s hips. One could smell the poison lining the edges as one lowered the hood of the Shadowheart Cloak to look one’s warriors in the eye. In silence the Fingers drew their blades, their full attention on their commander. They all had adopted the unorthodox fighting style that had carried their commander through the arenas, wielding a longsword in each hand.

      A wordless bellow of rage escaped one’s lips, distorted by one’s metal mask into a banshee howl heralding death. One broke into a run heading straight for the closer one of the destroyer wheels. Their otherworldly warcry echoing in the first rays of the sun they coalesced upon the hellish machine trailing shadows, leaping recklessly upon the support structures of the contraption, seeking ways inside to where the slaves powering the mechanism were held.

      One weaved a path forward as he climbed the wooden supports, avoiding the crackling green bolts licking the machine’s frame. At the top, looking at the surroundings eye level with Ashrach, one found the pilots. Two vermin clad in oily armour shot a wary glance at one before raising their pistols. One draped the Shadowheart Cloak tighter and leaping high, twisted one’s body in the air to smudge one’s trajectory from the beady eyes peering maliciously through stained goggles. Shots of darkstone whistled by as one crashed upon the rat men in a spinning motion, cutting one of them through the leg and neck.

      Unstable with one’s forward motion, the other pilot gave a sharp kick to one’s back, sending one tumbling from the machine. Once landed, one could see that one’s men had wrought impressive destruction on the war engine, which was sputtering heavy smoke as the engineers scrambled towards the controls, seeking to turn the thing about. The vermin formations nearby were scattering to avoid being trampled or incinerated by their creation.

      One gave chase with the other Fingers not still on board the contraption. One regained a foothold on a support beam. Giving an absent minded kick to a bit behind one that seemed intricate enough to be important, one then ducked one’s head to slip in between the supports and the giant spokes to the inside of the wheel, where on a balcony stood another pack of engineers, some of which held barbed whips to urge the slaves below the run faster. Another of the Fingers was already there, murdering the rat men with each stroke of his sword.

      One joined him,cutting down an engineer and hewing through some pipes overhead, which immediately began spewing green sparks and acrid fumes into the tight space inside. Breathing was nigh impossible and visibility near zero. A sharp pain tugged at one’s leg, and one realized the whip-wielding engineer had given one lick of its weapon without difficulty; apparently their strange face guards helped them work among the fumes of their unholy creations.

      One decided to retreat as the machinery was making sounds more and more alarming by the moment. Diving out of the caontraption head first to roll on the uneven grassy field, one took a couple of moments just to breathe the fresh air again before glancing after the retreating machine. One’s warrior about one, they all watched the engine disappear, trailed by thick smoke and small explosions as it went.

      Then, without warning, the air about one electrified and one could feel the hairs upon one’s neck standing on end. Slowly turning towards the east, one could see the second death wheel had turned a lance-like appendage towards one, the whir of its engines a shrieking wail as an arc of green light leapt from the machine to cover everything in white, sudden silence.
      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner