Author Topic: Age of Retribution Part IV: The Gauntlet of Izabran  (Read 8785 times)

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 431
"Aye yes!" laughed Tucker, "And by gosh it was... *hic* ...fantastic!"

Everyone looked at the drunken sailors. Just then, two more figures came aboard the ship. The figures turned out to be Wondu and Harvey.

"Excuse me to a captain of this ship." said Harvey, "But we're looking for a ship for Prince Carder to sail across the ocean. Are you willing to assist?"

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"EH?!" Jeff turned toward Harvey and Wondu, "Uh, yeah, sure! We already have one prince, why not take another? So long as he pays!"

« Last Edit: Jun 20 2019, 05:11 PM by Tyler294 »

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 431
"Pay?" asked Harvey in confusion, "Pay what?"

"By all means." replied Wondu before he and looked at the group where Prince Carder was at, "Oh there you are! Looks like we both found a-"

"Wait a minute!" Harvey interrupted, "That's the prince we were talk-GAH!"

"Hey guys! We're here!" called Broose with his arms full of a variety of weapons.

"Yeah! We got weapons that everyone needs!" added Deve with his arms full of weapons too.

"Well now! How lovely!" cheered drunken Tucker, "How did you two get so many?"

"We stole them." Deve replied. 

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"You did WHAT!?" Jeff went wide-eyed.

"Say, cap'n..." Killroy spoke up from the railing, as he looked out over the docks, "Did ye hire a bunch more crew while we was out?"

Jeff rushed to the railing, to find a band of pirates charging in from the north, a gang of angry sailors racing toward them from the east, and a small army of city guards sallying forth from the west.

"RAISE THOSE BLOOOODY SAILS!!!!!" Jeff exploded.

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"This is what you get when you send your crewmen ashore to get weapons, but don't give them any money!" Finnbarr scolded Jeff.

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"Mister Finnbarr..." Jeff turned toward his first mate, as the rest of the crew rushed to raise sails, bring up the gangplank, and haul up the anchor, "YOU ARE THE FIRST MATE! YOU ARE THE ONE IN CHARGE OF FINANCES!"

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"That is NOT what it says in the roster!" Finnbarr said as he held up the book.

« Last Edit: Jul 14 2019, 07:35 AM by DeadJim »

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"Then change the gosh darn roster! I trust ya to keep that roster accurate and up to date, so get it accurate and up to date!"

Several pirates and sailors tried to board the ship, but the crew managed to sweep the boarding ramp out from under them, causing a lot of shouting and splashing.

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"You know darn well I don't know what date it is! I would if we hadn't thrown the sundial overboard last spring! Then this might be a different story!"

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"Wait, THAT'S WHAT THAT THING WAS!?"

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"WHAT ELSE WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?!"

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"I DON'T KNOW!"

"..."

"..."

"..."

"Mister Finnbarr, what's a sundial?"

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"..."

"..."

"..."

"It's not my responsibility to know what all this equipment does! That's the job of the quartermaster!"

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"Oh, I see..."

"..."

"..."

"..."

"MISTER FINNBARR, WHO IS THE QUARTERMASTER!? I GOTTA ASK HIM WHAT A SUNDIAL IS!"

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"BUT WE THREW HIM OVERBOARD WITH THE SUNDIAL!"

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
Jeff paused, his jaw shifting back and forth for a moment as he contemplated this.

"Huh..." he finally uttered, "HEY! BROOSE! How'd ya like to be our new quartermaster!?"

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 431
"Aye Captain!" called Broose, "What's a quartermaster?!"

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"The type of crewman who can tell me what a sundial is!"

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"Uh captain, sorry to interrupt," Arlyss said as she tapped Jeff on the shoulder, "But the crew is wondering what our heading is? You know, besides away from Hanichu."

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
"Ah... uh... um..." a flustered Jeff tore himself away from the argument, only to find that they were no longer near Hanichu at all, but were already out to open sea!

"Our heading, right!"

He turned about-face and stomped up the stairs onto the upper deck, finding the dark-haired pirate woman manning the helm for some reason.

"I'll take it from here, girl." he motioned her aside, then went to take the wheel, then found himself once again unable to see over it, "Bah, fetch my stool over there!"

"Aye cap'n." she saluted, recovering the stool and putting it under him.

Without a thank you, Jeff stepped onto the stool and glared dramatically at the horizon ahead.

"Our heading is due west!" he shouted to the crew, turning the wheel to face the ship straight toward the evening sun.

Jeff smiled for a moment, then frowned, then winced...

"MISTER FINNBAAAAARRR!!! I need my tinted spectacles!"

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
Some time ago...

“Can I trust you to handle things here?”

Dimitrius smiled as he observed the distant look in his brother’s eye. Though they had always been close, it was throughout their campaigns across Acrylia that they’d forged a bond beyond mere brotherhood. Though their methods differed, they had worked together to grind down the Veridian menace, and when one of them had been in need, the other was always there for them. So it had been with this latest battle, where Dimitrius had arrived with reinforcements from the southern garrisons, turning the tide and sealing the empire’s fate.

The question did not need to be asked, nor did it need to be answered. But for formality’s sake, it was spoken. The two might not see each other for many moons, given what each had to do.

“Of course.”

Dimitrius put a hand on his brother’s shoulder, pleased that he would soon be returning to his beloved wife and child.

“Say hello to the womenfolk for me.”

“I shall.”

It was all the farewell they needed. Kyrus turned and trudged back to the camp, intent on gathering a small but elite unit of knights and cavalrymen to accompany him back to Cerulea. Dimitrius stood in place and watched him go, knowing that the duty of finishing off and further resistance now fell upon him. It was not a task he shied away from.

“Quite the sentimental pair, you two.” a feminine voice reached his ears from behind.

“Yiara.” Dimitrius smiled, turning to face the speaker, “I take it you enjoyed yourself?”

Before him stood a woman in black cloth and leather, red locks flowing from her head. Though she had gauntlets and gloves, her arms themselves were bare, the left of which displayed a prominent tattoo of a dagger piercing a raven skull. A cowl covered her mouth and nose initially, but she removed it as she approached him, revealing her blood red lips as they curled into a smile to match his. On her shoulder was perched a raven, which paranoidly scanned their surroundings with great fervor.

“Very much so. It was a good stretch of the muscles.” she answered his question in a smooth voice.

“A true shame I didn’t get to see you at work, love.” Dimitrius responded, then turned and looked back at Kyrus, who was still making his way across the vast, blood-soaked field.

“You sound… distracted, Dimitrius? The battle is won, what worries you so?” Yiara asked, moving in and sliding into an embrace.

“I just have… I have this feeling. Like I shouldn’t let him go alone.”

“Aw, you worry too much. Your brother is a big boy, he can take care of himself.” Yiara laughed, trying to draw his attention over to her.

“I know. The war is over, so I should feel a sense of relief… and yet, I cannot feel at ease.”

Yiara sighed, realizing she wasn’t going to get Dimitrius to pay attention to her until his fears were soothed. As such, she raised her left hand and waved it in the air, black energy that was dull as charcoal swirling forth in its wake. Beside her, a rift in the very air was torn open by the black magic, revealing a gateway into a dark chamber beyond.

“Azule.” she spoke.

A man dressed in black stepped through the rift, the portal sealing shut behind him once he was standing upon the bloody grass of the battlefield. He was dressed in black clothing, not unlike Yiara, and his mouth and nose were likewise concealed by a cowl. A black headband was tied around the top of his head, in addition, while a katana was sheathed on his back.

“What is your bidding, mistress?” the man asked, folding his hands in front of himself and bowing slightly.

“Dear Dimitrius is concerned for the safety of his brother. Please follow General Kyrus at a distance and look after him, but stay out of sight. Once he has arrived in the capital safely, report in to me.” she instructed.

“As you will, mistress.” the man bowed again, before heading after Kyrus.

“See? Your brother is in good hands now. Azule will watch over him until he has reached Cerulea safely.” Yiara assured her lover, as she squeezed him a little tighter.

“I hope so.” Dimitrius nodded slowly, eyes still staring into the distance, “I hope so.”

***

Horses had long ago proved themselves to be very useful creatures. They were swift, strong, and could carry a man for far longer than a man could remain upright on his own. Thus, few nobles would suffer the dishonor of not owning a horse, and many elite soldiers were equipped with them to enable rapid movement. The Ceruleans in particular had made extensive use of them, possessing the strongest cavalry forces in all of Acrylia. Although the Veridians had learned to counter with pikemen and archer formations, this did not stop Cerulean units from being far more mobile, both on the battlefield and on the way to it.

It was for that reason that Kyrus had taken a small force of horsemen with him on his journey back to Cerulea. Rather than march his whole army home, which would take many months, he figured to cut his trip down to a fraction of that time by traveling with a small, fast-moving group. An average human could never have hoped to keep up with such a unit, but the one known as Azule was no average man. Fast as the fastest racehorse and with unnaturally infinite endurance, the man could have crossed the entire continent in a sprint and never tired. Such was the ability granted to him by the pierced raven skull tattoo emblazoned on his left hand.

Across the plains and over the foothills he followed, remaining ever vigilant as he stood sentinel over their camps at night, never once revealing his presence to them. Stealth was a skill he had honed from youth without the need for unnatural powers, thus his speed and stamina were complimented with near-invisibility. This was only enhanced by the poor weather that seemed to follow them anywhere they went, though it also slowed their overall progress.

One night, while Kyrus’s party camped in the dark woods shaded by the barrier mountains to the east, Azule thought heard some rustling in the trees not far from the encampment. Investigation revealed no living creature, but as he was about to leave, he spotted a strange footprint in the mud. Obscured and only partial, he traced the outline of something that matched no man nor beast he was familiar with. What it was though, he could not say. He only knew he would watch their backs even more carefully now.

Days went by, and the riders entered the mountain pass, the rain and fog of the plains now shifting into snowfall in the highlands. It was not entirely surprising then, when the riders came across a stranded cart along the side of the road. From his place in the rocks above, Azule observed as Kyrus chivalrously directed his men to assist the poor travelers. But something was amiss.

Movement.

Azule narrowed his eyes as he stared down into the pass, particularly at the cliffs below him. To his alarm, he realized that dozens of armed men were emerging from hiding places amidst the boulders and rubble below. Some pulled out maces, hatchets and short swords, but most were equipped with bows, which they began to notch with arrows and point toward the unsuspecting Ceruleans.

Action had to be taken immediately. Though Azule would have preferred to contact the mistress with the magic crystal she had given him, it would take too long, and by the time he was done, Kyrus and the others would already be dead. As it was, he had lost too much time already. He needed to get down there, and quickly.

Whipping out his katana, he uttered a silent prayer to the ancient deities of Alizaria, before leaping from the height down toward one of the archers below. The archer in question was crushed by the assassin landing upon him, but the next nearest archer loosed his arrow at that same exact moment, the deadly projectile soon to pierce the throat of the suspicious Sir Wilford. However, the knight was avenged in short order, as the archer who slew him was promptly halved by the razor sharp blade of the dark-clad assassin. All hell broke loose seconds later, as the rest of the archers, on both sides of the pass, began to loose their arrows, while the men armed with melee weapons charged out from cover.

Azule moved to the next archer, and to the next, slaying each one with silent efficiency, yet it was not enough. Urgency began to eat away at his efficiency, as each subsequent archer seemed to take longer to kill. Or maybe he just realized how quickly he was running out of time. Then he saw it. Kyrus, an arrow in his back, being held in the arms of a young soldier. With his last strength, the general forced the man to take the bag which Azule had long ago figured to carry the fallen emperor’s gauntlet, and urged him to flee. Kyrus then slumped to the ground, already beginning to die.

He had failed. He had one task, to protect General Kyrus and see him safely to Cerulea. He had failed his mistress, and that meant his mistress had failed her beloved. He did not deserve to live after such a dishonor, but he would not dare take his own life. That privilege belonged to his mistress alone.

All at once, he recalled that there was more at stake. The gauntlet was still in the hands of a Cerulean, yet the attackers, whoever they were, would soon take it if not stopped. Shifting his attention from Kyrus, Azule found the young man with the gauntlet, whose horse had just been killed by an arrow volley before him. The young soldier was now staring into the eyes of one of the archers, who glared back with smug confidence. The soldier had nowhere to go, and the archer had a clear line of sight.

But so did Azule.

Fingering a throwing star, he again softly uttered a prayer for the ancient spirits to guide his aim, as he hurled the bladed disk toward the enemy. The blade embedded itself in the archer’s throat artery, causing him to fire his arrow wildly and miss the young soldier, before slipping to the ground as he rapidly bled to death. Azule looked back to the soldier, finding he’d been scooped up by another rider, and the two were fleeing the battle. The rescuer was shot by several arrows soon after, but the young soldier still had a chance.

Now acting furiously, Azule began to cut through the remainder of the ambushers, whose numbers had been reduced thanks to the battle with the Cerulean forces. Within three minutes, Azule was the only man still standing, the pass now choked by the bodies of the dead or dying.

He would catch up with the young soldier soon enough, but first, he had to see if it was not too late to save the general. He soon found Kyrus, who was already dead, lying with his eyes wide open, as if constantly staring at the suddenly clear sky above. Azule crouched beside the deceased and placed his hand over the General’s face, sliding it across to close his eyelids.

“Rest well, warrior.”

Standing up, Azule removed the magic crystal from his pouch so that he may communicate with his leader. He did not look forward to reporting his failure, but he had no choice. He could only hope his mistress would be merciful.

***

Warcamp en route to the Veridian border…

The sound of thrashing and screaming in the Cerulean command tent brought soldiers running forth in great haste. Their commander had been inside for some time, overlooking maps of the Veridian countryside, so he could strategize an invasion of the empire should the royal army be forced to do so. Of course, the army was still a long way from the border, but envoys had been sent ahead to notify the Veridian nobility of their emperor’s defeat, and to demand their peaceful surrender. With how weak Tarek’s rule had become prior to his most recent campaign, there was no doubt that his former subjects would be quick to accept a non-violent solution. Still, Commander Dimitrius of Leers was not one to be unprepared.

However, nothing could have prepared him for the news that his lover had brought him mere seconds ago. So when the soldiers burst into the tent, fearing an assassin had somehow made his way inside, they instead found the map table flipped, numerous portable furniture items knocked over or broken, clothing and blankets torn and cast about the floor, but their commander upright and in good health.

“Sir! We heard a commotion!” one of the soldiers reported, “Are you alright?”

“Can you not see that I am fine!? Leave me at once!” Dimitrius roared, tears at the corner of his eyes, his face red in rage and grief, “Get out! Out, or I will have the who lot of you lashed for insolence!”

“Yes sir!” the soldier gulped, as he and his comrades quickly filed out of the tent.

Dimitrius heaved a great sigh, as Yiara slowly stepped forward from her spot in the shadows.

“You needn’t be so harsh on your men, the fault lies with me and my own.” she stated coldly.

“Yes…” Dimitrius wanted to agree, but he only half-believed that, “But I knew better. I should never have left him to go alone! Damn it! DAMN IT! What am I to tell Isabelle when I return? That I sensed her husband was heading into mortal danger and was too much of a fool to stop him? Damn it all to--”

He kicked over his armor stand, but as he was not wearing his combat boots, his toe impacted the heaven wooden construct with a painful thud.

“GAH!” he yelped.

“Get a hold of yourself, Dimitrius!” Yiara snapped, “There is nothing you can do for your brother now, but there is more to this than merely his death. Azule uncovered more about the nature of the attackers, and what we believe they were actually after…”

Dimitrius stopped raging all at once, his head turning toward Yiara, a look of utmost seriousness overtaking his face.

“The gauntlet... What has become of the gauntlet!?”

***

As Captain Jeff's ship slowly faded into the horizon, a woman in black stood on the Hanichu docks, her red locks billowing softly in the sea breeze. Her black eyes stared at the tiny vessel, figuring well enough what must be on board. She did not react as a jittery raven landed on her shoulder a moment later.

"And you are sure it is with them?" Yiara asked her partner, shifting her head ever so softly to gaze at the raven.

"Yes." the bird softly squawked, nodding its head.

"Well then..." the woman looked back the horizon, "It will not be for long."

Offline Shawnex

  • Redshirt
  • *
  • Posts: 431
As the ship sailed away not far from the harbor, the two guards were dismayed.

"We abandoned our future king!" Nelson said softly with a puzzled look.

"Yep. We sure did." Wilber replied starring at the ship which was now far away.

"WE'RE DOOOOOMED!" cried Nelson, "With no prince to become the next king after our king, WE'LL END UP AS FARMERS OUT OF NOWHERE!"

"Don't you mean, we'll have our heads chopped?" corrected Wilber.

"THAT TOO!! King Kolo will kill us that we lost his son!"

"You mean-IF he finds out!"

"WELL HOW WILL KI-...if, if is good." agreed Nelson hoping that the king won't know anything about his prince before they headed back to Jerando.   

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"ROOOLL CAAALL!" Finnbarr screamed from the main deck.

Online Tyler294

  • Game Master
  • Epic Role Player
  • *****
  • Posts: 15267
  • Ty Fighter Pilot
Jeff fell off his stool in surprise.

"By the devil, give me a warning next time, Mr. Finnbarr!" he groaned.

Offline DeadJim

  • Role Player
  • ***
  • Posts: 1233
  • Plausibly Deniable Assassin of the Operation
"Why, so you can cheat and upgrade your position in the log? I don't think so!" Finnbarr replied.