Author Topic: Age of Retribution Part IV: The Gauntlet of Izabran  (Read 2452 times)

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
Jeff stood proudly atop his stool as the sails unfurled, taking in the full splendor of his ship in action.

Except... the sails were limp. And so was the flag. Also the ship wasn't moving.

"Mr. Finnbarr... why aren't we moving?" Jeff testily asked his first mate.

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"It would appear that there is no wind," Finnbarr answered, "would you like me to have the men get out and push?"

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
"What? Don't be absurd, Mr. Finnbarr!" Jeff snapped, "Order them to stand in front of the sails and blow instead!"

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"...you heard him you lazy, good for nothing sailors!" Finnbarr barked, "Put your lungs into it!"

"I actually didn't hear what he said," Arlyss whispered to Killroy, "What are we supposed to do?"

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
"Well, it be a good thing I listen attentively to everythin' the captain and first mate say!" Killroy bragged, "He's orderin' us to get up there and blow into the sails!"

Right after he said that, he realized what it was they were being told to do.

"Wait, ye be wantin' us to WHAT!?"


Meanwhile... Deve and Broose noticed something floating in the water a ways out from the boat. It looked like a person slumped atop a piece of wreckage.

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 382
"Hey Deve!" Broose called to Deve trying to forget of calling help, "I think I see something!"

"Not now, Broose!" Deve snapped back, "Can't ye see me calling to the lazy crew?!"

"I know! But I don't think they're listening."

"Then why don't YOU ORDER THE CREW TO HELP!?!?"

"Later. But look!" Broose pointed at the object floating in the water.

"Ah. A floating board. Maybe that will help me to call for help. Or, me climb to the ship. That work!" Deve suggested and swam to the object.

"Wait up, Deve!" Broose followed Deve to the object as well.

Deve arrived there first and got on out of the water to relax.

"Phew!" he sighed in relief, "Glad to be out of the-huh?!"

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
There was an pale, unconscious man lying on the board. He looked half-drown, but was still breathing, barely.

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 382
"GAH!" Deve fell back into the water after he saw the man.

"What a matter, Deve?" asked Broose, "Sea leaches?"

"No!" Deve spit out water from his mouth, "There's a man lying on the board! A dead one!"

Broose got on the board and looked at the paled-man.

"He's not dead. He's still breathing!" examined Broose, "He must've been attacked somewhere and lost his ship! Quickly! Help me push him back to the ship!"

"Again with the swimming." groaned Deve but agreed to help Broose take the man back to the ship, "Now this will attract the crew's attention."

They arrived to the ship again and yelled to the crew hoping they would respond.

"OI! WE FOUND A MAN OVERBOARD! LOOK DOWN AND SEE!" called Deve!

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
"A MAN OVERBOARD!" Jeff exclaimed.

Everyone on the crew immediately rushed the railing to looked over the side.

"Hoist 'em up, mates!" Jeff commanded, "Quickly now!"

They eventually brought the man aboard (and yes, Deve and Broose, too) and laid him out on the deck.

"Wait a minute 'ere..." Jeff reached down and unruffled a part of the man's tattered garb, revealing the emblem of the Kingdom of Cerulea.

A slight breeze had begun to blow in the meantime, and the ship was moving forward once again.

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
Melvyn came up from below decks, and looked down at the man lying before them.

"Right on schedule," he said as he looked down at his compass-like contraption. Eamon looked at him suspiciously, but said nothing.

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
"Schedule?" Killroy looked up at Melvyn in confusion.

"Mr. Finnbarr, tell me, is this man even alive?" Jeff asked his first mate.

Suddenly the man jolted awake, his arm grabbing for the closest person to him, which happened to be Arlyss, and pulling her in close.

"Where... am I...?" he wheezed.

"Belay that order, Mr. Finnbarr." Jeff concluded.

« Last Edit: Jan 31 2019, 04:09 PM by Tyler294 »

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"Good, I still don't have an answer," Finnbarr said as he rubbed his chin.

Arlyss looked at the emblem on the man's clothing, then at his face, "Like me, you're going the wrong direction. I say we start a revolt."

Eamon hid his face in his hands. Was he laughing? Or crying? Or just double facepalming? We'll never know...

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
The man looked around wildly, but all he saw were pirates.

"Please... You... You have to help... me..."

"Son, we can't help ya if we don't know why yar here." Jeff pointed-out.

"Why... why I'm... here..."

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
Some time ago, in the Barrier Mountains…

General Kyrus and his horsemen had ridden for weeks on end, finally arriving at Tuckman’s Pass in the Barrier Mountains, the northernmost passage between the outer plains and the Cerulean Valley. The road leading through the pass was narrow and rough, but it would reduce the trip by weeks, if not months. Desiring to reach home as soon as possible, Kyrus and his team of knights and cavalrymen had entered the pass the previous day, but inclement weather was repeatedly slowing them down. They had endured several thunderstorms while crossing the plains, while they now faced an unseasonably significant snowfall in the mountains. Even so, they trudged ahead.

It was evening when they came across a civilian wagon stuck in a snowbank, one of it’s wheels broken and the other buried in a mound of slush. A woman sat on the wagon, rocking a blanket-wrapped baby whilst two men tried to repair the broken wheel.

“Hold.” Kyrus raised a fist to signal his riders to stop.

“Sir, this is a common bandit tactic. We should call the men to arms and ride past.” one of the knight-lieutenants suggested softly.

“Have you forgotten your oath as a knight, Sir Wilford? You would leave these poor travelers on the roadside in the midst of a snowstorm?” Kyrus inquired incredulously.

“How hard would it be to hide weapons in that bundle she’s holding, hmm? This whole thing just reeks of a trap.” Sir Wilford replied.

Just then, the bundle in the woman’s arms began to cry rather loudly, while the woman tried to shush it. The two men had noticed the approaching soldiers and stood up from what they were doing.

“Oh, thank the creator!” the older man wheezed, “I thought for sure we’d freeze out here.”

“Aye, ye lads be a sight for sore eyes.” the younger man shivered.

“Would you like to go up and inspect the lady’s bundle? Make sure she’s not hiding a greatsword in there?” Kyrus sarcastically said to Wilford, who looked away in embarrassment.

With that, Kyrus rode up closer to the wagon and dismounted his horse.

“Looks like we came across you folks at just the right time.” the general addressed them, “Men, give me a hand!”

“Oh, thank you, thank you kind sir.” the old man quivered, as he stepped aside to let Kyrus have access to the wheel.

A couple of the other riders shrugged and joined Kyrus in attempting to repair the wheel. Sir Wilford also dismounted, but not for the same reason as the others had. Something about this still seemed off to him. Passing by the men who were working on the wheel, he approached the back of the wagon, which was covered by a large tarp. While it wasn’t suspicious to cover one’s goods while on a long trip like this, the veteran knight had an odd feeling about this.

“Wilford, get over here and help lift!” Kyrus barked.

“Coming, General.” Wilford replied, but he had no intention of coming until he had taken a peek under the tarp.

As he lifted the tarp, he found himself staring at a… wardrobe. And a kitchen table. And a dresser. In fact, the wagon appeared to be loaded with nothing more than household furniture and travel provisions. It seemed he was just being paranoid after all.

“Wilford!”

The knight signed, starting to release the tarp, before something caught his eye. There was a faint shadow of what appeared to be dark, frozen liquid that had been trickling out of the wardrobe. He hesitated a moment, then reached in and drew open the door. The last thing he saw was half a human face.

“GENERAARRGG!!” the knight tried to shout in warning, before an arrow suddenly shredded through his throat, causing him to slump forward into the back of the cart.

The old and young man promptly drew out long, thin daggers, the old man immediately shoving his into a weak point in the armor of the knight next to him. The younger man lunged at Kyrus, who managed to react in time to sidestep the stab attempt, grab the back of his assailant’s head, and smash his face into the side of the wagon. As he reached for his sword, more of his men cried out as arrows came whistling in from all around them.

“Look out!” one of the knights lunged toward Kyrus and shoved him aside, taking a crossbow bolt in the face for his efforts.

Facing toward the source, Kyrus saw the woman at the front of the wagon had disposed of the bundle and was now attempting to reload the crossbow she had just fired. She didn’t succeed, as one of the horsemen charged the front of the cart and cut her down before she could. Shortly thereafter, that man himself was shot in the leg by an archer hiding in the rocks nearby, causing him to tumble from his horse to the ground. Kyrus rushed into the open and drug the man back toward the cover provided by the wagon. He quickly snapped off the back of the arrow, then prepared to get back up and go fight the bandits, as the man should be able to handle this injury on his own. But as Kyrus went to stand up, he realized the knight was not speaking, but rather gagging and gasping for air, his eyes wide and bloodshot in pain.

He was a Cerulean Knight! An arrow in the knee should not have caused this sort of reaction… unless…

Kyrus grabbed the back of arrow he had broken off and held it to his nose, a familiar acrid stench causing him to quickly wince and toss it away.

“RIDE! DON’T FIGHT, RIDE!” he roared, jumping to his feet and sprinting toward his horse.

More hostiles were rushing out from cover and charging the Ceruleans, wielding weapons of all shapes and sizes. The only benefit to their charge was they were making it harder for the archers to fire into the fray. Realizing they had likely blocked the road ahead, Kyrus knew their only hope was to go back the way they came.

“Back to the west! Ride back to the--” he cried as he tried to mount his horse, only for a sudden sharp pain his back to halt both speech and movement.

“NOOO!”

“General Kyrus!”

One of the riders rushed over and caught the General as he began to stumble backward, hurriedly dragging him toward the cart. But Kyrus knew it was already too late.

“Protect the general!” one of the knights bellowed, as the surviving men tried to hold the assault back.

“No… leave me!” he shook his head, looking up at the man who was helping him, “They’re using Ravager arrows.”

“Ravagers? What? How?! We’re nowhere near Ravager territory!” the young cavalryman exclaimed.

Kyrus grabbed the man’s arm, an intense look in his eye.

“These are not Ravagers!”

Still clutching the rider’s arm, Kyrus grabbed the sack that had been dangling from his belt and shoved it into the other man’s hand. He did not know the name of this young soldier, for he was one of the many replacements sent from Cerulea to replace the more experienced soldiers lost in the wars against Veridia. But he was a soldier sworn to serve his God and king, and there was no time look for anything more.

“I’m… I’m trusting you with this, son.” the general coughed, “It must…”

Kyrus could feel his lungs beginning to burn like the fires of hell itself were consuming them. All around them, the knights and soldiers were being overwhelmed by the ambushers. And over the hill before them, the doomed general could hear the unearthly growl of a certain horror he had once encountered in the distant Shoons Swamp, almost three years ago. Though that was an eternity in wartime, Kyrus still remembered that sound like it had been yesterday.

“It must never fall into their hands! Hide it! Bury it! Destroy it!” he gasped, every last ounce of energy he had he put into his words, “Just GO!!!”

The young soldier nodded and jumped to his feet, madly rushing toward his horse. The attacking archers must have seen him, for they quickly shot the horse down before he could reach it. The soldier stood in shock over the dead horse for a moment, looking up to see one of those very archers staring back at him, a smug grin across his face. But just as the archer was notching another arrow to finish the young soldier off, an odd disk-like blade came flying in from his flank, sticking into the archer’s neck at an awkward angle, and causing him to fire wildly before crumbling to the ground. Unfortunately, the young soldier had little time to search for the thrower, as the sound of an approaching horse forced him to look to his right. As it were, he turned just in time to catch the hand of one of the knights, who caught the young man and hoisted him onto his still-moving horse.

“Ride north... There is a military port on Starlight Bay... You can get a ship there to take you to the Royal City…” the knight told the soldier, “God go with you…”

“But won’t you be with…?” the soldier looked back, only to find the knight was no longer on the horse, but rather landing on the road behind, several arrows embedded in his back.

Realizing he was the only one left, the soldier set his jaw and turned his attention forward again. On he rode, the toxic projectiles hurled by the attackers falling short as the charger carried him off into the distance.

Kyrus listened the sound of hooves grew increasingly faint, while the war cries of the attackers gradually went silent as well. The general smiled slightly, figuring the young man must have escaped, at least for now. Ultimately, whether the horseman succeeded in his task or not was out of Kyrus’s hands, for his part to play in this world had ended. Instead he just gazed into the sky, where the sun was beginning to faintly crack through the clouds, illuminating the world below and casting a beam of warmth over the battlefield. As he drew his last breath, the general retained a contented smile upon his face. He would have thought being denied the chance to see his wife and daughter again would anger him, but he knew better now. He knew he would never miss a part of their lives ever again...

« Last Edit: Jan 31 2019, 04:34 PM by Tyler294 »

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"Is that it?" Finnbarr blurted, "So you jumped on a board and started floating your troubles away into Starlight Bay?"

"That was so sad..." Luetenberger sobbed as he grabbed the man and gave him a giant hug.

Eamon meanwhile, was scanning the man for any sign of the bag he had mentioned.

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
"No... no... you don't understand..." the man gasped, weakly forcing himself free of Luetenberger, "They followed me!"

He weakly reached into his shirt, pulling out the bag Eamon was looking for, and holding it up for someone to take.

"You mustn't let them... can't let them get it... can't... please..."

The young soldiers eyes rolled back into his head as his body went limp.

« Last Edit: Jan 31 2019, 07:44 PM by Tyler294 »

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 382
"Get what?" Tucker asked before the soldier laid down on the floor and died.

"He died? And this is supposed to be a kids story!" Deve remarked...wait what?!

"Uh Deve," Broose spoke up, "there's nothing we can do to help him."

"What's in that bag?" Tucker remarked.

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"Nothing that concerns you," Melvyn said as he grabbed the bag and tucked it under his arm, "Now when are we arriving in Hanichu, Captain Jeff, sir!"

After a moment, Arlyss removed her hand which she hand been holding to the man's chest. She kept her head hung low, not as much for morning, but as much for failure, which she began to feel weigh heavily on her shoulders. Eamon grabbed her arm and stood her up.

"He was practically gone when we pulled him up," he whispered, "There's nothing you could have done."

"There's always something," Arlyss replied as she hurried down below deck.

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
"I don't know that!" Jeff roared, "If Mr. Finnbarr had not deceived me when it came to the status of our navigator, perhaps we would have a way of knowing! As it is, I have no idea how long until we reach Hanichu!"


"What that be about?" Killroy asked Eamon once Arlyss was gone.

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 382
"So ye're telling us we going the wong way?" asked Deve in confusion.

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"Of course we're not going the wrong way!" Finnbarr scolded, "We're not going ANY way since the ship isn't moving! I told Jeff we needed a back-up plan; like oars, for instance! If we had oars, we wouldn't be in this predicament!"

***

"Listen kid," Eamon said as he put his hand on Killroy's shoulder, "She doesn't understand just because you can do something, doesn't mean that's the right thing for you to do. You need to look out for yourself first, and other people later. Otherwise you're going to die fighting for something you don't even care about. Choose your battles wisely, cause they could always be your last."

"But you're a smart lad," he continued as he smiled, "I think you have a feel for these things better than most folks in this world."

Offline Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 14212
  • The Default User
Just then, the wind picked up and blew Finnbarr's hat off.

"Thar she blows!" Jeff laughed, "All hands, to yar stations!"

***

"Aye?" Killroy looked torn between a little confused and grateful at the same time.

Just then, Captain Jeff began barking orders, forcing Killroy to get back to work... with whatever he was doing.

***

As all this was going on, the former Corbaine enforcer, had noticed Melvyn slip away from the group what he rightly figured to be the deceased emperor's gauntlet. He might have questioned why nobody seemed to care, but then, he knew the reputation of Captain Jeff and his crews. If everyone else conveniently forgot the importance of the artifact, leaving in the hands of one man, it would be all the easier to take it for himself.

"Oi! Fancypants!" Jeff barked from the aftcastle above.

"Ey?"

"Stop standin' around gawking, get to work!"

"Aye cap'n!" the former enforcer turned to head to the crows nest.

"Oi, fancypants!"

"...Ey...?"

"What's ya name?"

"Gideon McCleary, cap'n!"

"Well, Gidean McCleary, get back to work and stop standin' around gawkin'!"

"But, ye just... I mean, aye-aye!" the former enforcer saluted, then went off to perform his duties.

"Well, Mr. Finnbarr, I think we'll be makin' good time to Hanichu after all. Once we figure out which way it is..." Jeff remarked.