A man approaches from the direction of the Kalf stead. He introduces himself as Sweyn 'longshins'. "Hello stead Draco. Sarune Kalf sent me to speak with you, I joined her stead this morning and this was the first job I was given. She said that she accepts your offer and that our steads should merge as soon as can be arranged."
Barely has Sweyn introduced himself when the sounds of a wildly blowing horn can be heard, it is coming from the direction of the Soderfall stead. The Soderfall stead is 10km away, it is starting to get dark. The journey will take about 15 minutes for those on horseback, any who are on foot will take about 30 minutes.
Tabiti will check that she has all her weapons and armour (she has), then head towards the fight at a full gallop.
Starhawk, having walked Polaris around the livestock, has almost herded them back to the stead when the horn blows.
He turns Polaris at the sound and looks towards where the sound is coming from. He stands in his stirrups, warlike and watchful.
It is easy to imagine him in Sun Dome hearing that sound from a Domer village and looking equally angry. Turning back to the stead his face is once again visible, his expression grim and dangerous.
He doesn't say anything, he merely enters the stead and puts on his full battle armour, before getting back on Polaris with his spear, shield, dagger, bow and war quiver.
Rastorlanth quickly jumps from his place and takes his weapons. He then turns to the rest of the steadmembers and says:"Where to?"
"I have a pony," says Sweyn "I can lend it to one of your warriors or ride with you to the Soderfall's. If you wish I will stay here and guard in case it is a diversion. Who is Headman here anyway?"
Bursting out of the forge, Petronax looks towards the sound of the horn. "The Soderfalls. To Arms! All able bodied warriors to the gate with arms and armour!"
Petronax runs into the steadhall, beckoning to everyone to hurry. He quickly
helps the nearest person into their armour and then starts
to don his own. As he tightens his cheekpieces up, he says "We have to cross the river and it's getting dark, somebody grab some rope. Starhawk, can you swim your horse across and tie off the rope? We'll cross where the Nangtali creek enters the Frog, there's a sandbar there for most of the way across."
Petronax checks his lorica, ensuring its tight but gives him movement.
"I apologise Sweyn, I am Petronax, Steadholder here, but we are, family all speak with the same weight." Sliding his gladius into his sheath, Petronax looks about at all the other warriors. "Are we ready?""Then let us go, stay together."
Starhawk, on his horse and ready by this time, responds reflexively.. "Yes, Sir!" then looks a little abashed at that. He pauses and the soldier in him comes to the fore, as he adds to those assembled there... "Bring some torches we can't fight well in the darkness."
He continues his instructions with.. "Light one, enough for the lead to see by and to light the others when we're there. Don't light all of them as we want them for the fighting not before. Sharpen the bottom if you can so you can push them into the ground, for dropping them will start a blaze around your feet."
Grinning inside his helmet, Petronax passes the chance for a joke by. "Torches! Brilliant! They're in the strorage shed, can anyone else think of anything we'll need?"
Rastorlanth runs back and grabs his rope. He throws the bundle to Starhawk and starts running to keep up with the horses.
Starhawk's spear comes up like a hook and the rope snakes down it onto his arm.. Looking down at the newcomer.. "Good idea Rastorlanth, well done!" before adding. "Hold onto the stirrup Rastorlanth it will help you run the distances. Sorry you're not riding, but I'll need Polaris fresh for the fighting and to get injured away..."
Looking back at the rest assembled there... "See you at the river.." Starhawk, Polaris skittish and excited for the moment, rides off..
Sweyn holds out his hand to Rastorlanth. "Double up on my pony with me brother. That way we will both arrive fresh for any combat".
Rastorlanth stops for a second to look at Sweyn. Then he takes his hand and mounts behind him."Thank you. Let's hurry."
Sweyn urges the pony after the other riders. "Brother, at the first sign of trouble we must dismount to fight. I'm not a skilled rider so the journey may be a bit rough"
Strazzen is finishing shaving when he hears a all too familiar sound- Horns of War. He looks in the direction of Soderfall Stead, face dripping wet, like he can tell what is happening there just by hearing the horns. With a towel he dries his face and stone faced walks inside to wear his war gear is stored. With practiced ease Strazzen is dressed and ready in mere moments. He is now a more striking figure in his shiny Full Lamillar armor, Closed helm, and Kite shield. He wears at his hip a broad sword and dagger and a deadly looking heavy crossbow is strapped to his back.
He then walks sternly to Midnight and begins to put his Cuirbolli barding on, along with tack, saddle and bags. He grabs a few torches and some oil flasks as well. Lastly he gets his Lance out and Mounts up onto Midnight, who now seems unsettled, but ready to go into battle again.
Strazzen says to his battlemates "Do these attacks happen often that need the war horns?? And do we need to leave a rearguard here at the stead?? "
Starhawk has gone by this time, not needing to put barding on his mount. He swims the river at the sandbar, (holding onto Polaris' saddle to do so, in the nomad fashion ie. partially swimming himself, if the water is too deep to do it on horseback). He ties the rope on the other side.
"Steadholder who will defend our stead if our warriors leave?" Orlfinn looks at his wife and children as they help him put his armour on. "Son go to the walls and look towards the Soderfall stead."
Sliding to a halt, Petronax looks at Orlfinn and nods. "True Orlfinn, we should have some here to guard the stead. Tallison shall stay as steadsman, who else? Your family at least should stay behind as well."
Nodding Orlfinn turns to his wife and hugs her "Sigurd my love, I shall return soon." He kisses her and his daughter. Then takes up his weapons and moves to stand with Petronax "Let us go steadholder if you are ready." he says in his native Aggari.
The whole of the party set off together (with or without Strazzen, who has paused to put his armour on) but those on horseback soon leave Petronax and Parthak behind. Parthak will keep his eye out for herbs and other flora that might have potential medicinal properties. Unfortunately his knowledge is based on Prax not Dorastor. Still, he will look for relatives of plants he knows such as Somiren (a sleep inducing aid), Akbutege (used for its healing properties), Shumaran (capable of bringing the dead back to life), Tovo (a stimulant used to fight drowsiness), Turfiik (used to regenerate lost bone), and Wumbar (which combats arthritis, rheumatism, an sprains). Admittedly none of these are much good against poison.
As they approach the stead (Starhawk first, Sweyn and Rastorlanth just behind),
Tabiti is galloping back towards them. Not because she's scared stiff and
so is the horse, of course, this is a promptly-delivered scouting report.
"There bad-chaos monsters, like part man part scorpion. With big stings. There is... (looks at fingers) more than one hand, maybe two
hand. Lots. Too many.
"Stead not got palisade like our good stead. Had wall, but fall down, not stop even rabbit. Peoples is in house, shoot at monsters. House is burn, make more light for see monsters."
She takes a deep breath, very determined not to be scared at all. "We shoot, yes? Not get near sting. Sting on other monster kill
Amaranth-rider, we not do that."
Starhawk's cheekbones show in stark relief as he takes a deep breath. "Scorpion
Men. Yes Tabiti, they are bad chaos and the
stings are the worst. So we shoot, yes. Keep them away. We shall use bow and speed of horse to hit them while they do not hit us."
Starhawk looks closely at the Pent girl before him. She is brave, he'll give her that. "When we are finished here I will take you to Hazard Fort and buy you some bow magic if I can. If you're going to fight like me, you'll need the armour Petro is making you and the magic too."
Following Starhawk's decision, Rastorlanth loads his crossbow.
Assuming Sweyn has now heard the scouting report he turns to Rastorlanth. "These tactics of horse archers against superior enemies is good. Only one of us should ride on against the foe otherwise we will both be hindered. Are you a good rider brother? I have been riding for only a few weeks on the journey to fort Hazzard. If you are then I would be happy for you to take her and I will carry on on foot".
As the group approach the stead the scene is much as Tabiti described but now 2 of the scorpionmen are attempting to climb onto the roof of the stead.
Sweyn will take Rastorlanth on his pony to a suitable tree. Big enough for
him to get high in the branches and hopefully give him a
good field of fire. He will then ride over to the mounted archers and skirmish with the enemy using his darts. His shield is slung so he will not attempt to parry but then his intention is to not get caught :)
Rastorlanth will climb some high tree from which he has a good view of the surroundings. He will take only his crossbow, sword and shield, and leave the rest of his equipment next to the tree. With his good Scan skill, he will look for the enemies and shoot them out with his crossbow. If enemies approach the tree, he will cast protection but will not climb down. If they start climbing the tree, he will jump on them with sword and shield in hands, leaving the crossbow on the tree.
Sweyn turns to the horse archers."By the looks of things the stead door is holding. Take out the scorpions on the roof first in case they find a weak spot".
Starhawk looks at the situation, for a moment. "Attack the ones that are most dangerous to us. Those are the closest. While the two are on the roof, they're no danger. When they see us they'll come down. In any case with just the three of us visible we'll probably separate them into two groups, which is fine."
Starhawk, war quiver behind him (40 arrows) fires at the closest scorpion
man, riding into 'effective' range to do so. He approaches obliquely so he
doesn't need to turn his horse around to retreat. If they countercharge he
leads them to the tree with Rastorlanth in it, hoping to catch them unawares.
This will also be towards Strazzen whose heavy cavalry tactics are ideal for
these big critters, as well as Petronax.
Strazzen will fire at the closest, weakest looking Scorpionman with his heavy crossbow and if Starhawk gets them to follow him, do a flanking charge upon them and stab them with my pointy stick-er, Lance. :) He has never seen a Scorpionman in person and he kinda wishes it was still that way. These chaos abominations are not easy to look at, nor deal with. He is used to charging the flanks of Lunar infantry, not half scorpion, half man creatures. All this chaos these last couple of weeks, first the broos, then the
Jack-o-Bear and Stoorworm, and now these beasts, is more chaos than he's seen in his life before.
Starhawk has seen them before and he wishes he hadn't too.
Sweyn is more concerned for the safety of the innocents in the stead and
will distract the ones on the roof by throwing darts at
whatever one is in the best light. He will try to keep moving and if caught unawares in the dark will try to ride off then return to
harass them. He will try to keep an eye on the rest of the battle so he can give help if needed. In case he should fall off (probable) his shield is slung and his sax is in his scabbard. His quiver of darts is on the pony but he has 3 clipped to his shield. Sweyn is also cursing his luck as he is not an experienced warrior and this is now the second time he has to fight scorpionmen.
The mounted part of the group arrive at the stead and start to put the plan into action. The first the scorpionmen know of the reinforcements is when arrows start to fall among them. There are 5 scorpionmen immediately visible, the 2 on the roof, one on the ground below the ones on the roof urging them on and 2 near a small clump of trees next to the tumbledown wall.
Rastorlanth dashes to a nearby tree but while hauling himself up it a rotten
branch snaps under him and he falls back injuring his left
Orlfinn launches an arrow at the monsters on the roof and is satisfied to see the arrow sticking in the beast's tail. "By the wind a good shot." mutters Orlfinn to himself then begins to line up again on the big brute. "Orlanth guide my shot for clan and kin." he says loosing his shot.
Turning to Tabiti Starhawk says, "Tabiti follow me and do what I do."
Starhawk gallops Polaris past the scorpionmen by the clump firing as he passes but his shot goes astray as the horse stumbles. He recovers, draws another arrow from his quiver and fires again at the uninjured scorpionman. He is being careful to maintain his distance so as to avoid spells and such.
Tabiti gripping Thunder tightly with her legs follows Starhawk and looses an arrow, it finds a home in a scorpionman's neck but hangs rather limply.
Much encouraged by the group's joint success, Tabiti wheels Thunder and prepares to follow Starhawk for the next pass, grinning. "You want me do what you do? Or you want me shoot monster?"
Starhawk laughs at that, his teeth showing white in the light of the blazing stead. "Shoot monsters!" he yells back. Starhawk is as usual having a great time. It is plain to see he lives for fighting. "Come now Polaris, steady line now..."
Strazzen fires a bolt from his crossbow and smiles with satisfaction as it smacks into the guts of the scorpionman wearing Tabiti's arrow. All that can be seen of the quarrel is the feathers of the bolt.
Sweyn draws his sword and starts advancing on the scorpionmen. If he is already
dismounted and advancing his fighting tactics
will be. Hold his round shield to cover his left arm, chest and abdomen in case of enemy missiles. He will throw a dart at his opponent as he closes. When in melee he will try to parry the sting and will stab with his sax. Sweyn prays to Humakt as he advances asking that he will die well in battle.
The scorpionmen are momentarily stunned by the attack but very quickly recover. One of the beasts by the trees calls out commands to the others, in a strange hissing and clicking language, with few sounds that could be called words.
One of the scorpionmen on the roof jumps down and starts advancing on Sweyn
along with his companion who was below him. The
monster on the roof starts firing at Starhawk. The two by the tree advance on Orlfinn.
Strazzen immediatly slings his crossbow, casts Protection, then readies lance and shield and brings Midnight up to a full gallop while trying to get both men advancing on Orlfinn into a line, pass-through attack, so he can hit each one in turn.
Rastorlanth keeps trying to climb the tree and shoot the scorpions from the top. He manages to grab a branch and swings himself up into the tree, he starts to work his way up and find a good firing position.
An arrow wings its way from the roof and strikes Starhawk in the stomach but bounces harmlessly off his armour.
Starhawk and Tabiti both return fire. Starhawk's arrow hits one of its legs
leaving it hanging limp and useless. Tabiti sends an arrow
straight at its chest but fails to pierce its armour.
Sweyn hurls a dart which strikes (a critical) one of the monsters advancing on him in the head. It drops to the floor unconscious or dead.
Strazzen tries to cast protection but fails. His charge smashes into the
leading scorpionman who desperately swings his war maul to
block the lance but fails. The lance hits its right arm tearing it clean off as he passes.
Orlfinn manages to get an arrow off at the same monster but the arrow passes the space where once there was an arm.
The scorpionmen are upon you quicker than you realise and Sweyn is struck
with a massive blow by a creature using a greatsword, he
barely gets his shield in the way. The hit scythes through his shield and bites deep into his leg. he falls to the floor bleeding heavily
from the now useless limb. (It hasn't been severed) The second monster tries to hit Sweyn with its sting but its blow goes wildly astray.
If he is still able to Sweyn fights on from the floor. Once again stabbing
with his sax (easier to stab than swing from the floor
anyway). Otherwise he tries first aid on his leg.
Orlfinn now has just one monster to deal with and its swing with a morning
star misses. Orlfinn feels something strike the back of his
leg but it seems to be a very weak blow.
Starhawk fires again on the monster on the roof but his arrow again bounces
off its helmet. Tabiti's second arrow has more success
(impale) and takes the monster in the chest.
In the next round Rastorlanth will be in a position to fire from the tree.
Strazzen will wheel and charge again and keep using the lance till it breaks, I can no longer achieve a full gallop charge, or all the enemy are dead. Keep attacking 1 scorpionman till he is dead, then move on to the next.
The scorpion man on the roof has an arrow stuck in one of its legs which is now useless but it's still standing.
Another scorpion man has an arrow in its tail but has been rendered unconscious/dead by Sweyn's dart in its face.
A third scorpion man has an arrow wound in its neck, a quarrel in its stomach and has had its right arm ripped off, its barely standing!
Back to the fight.
The scorpionman that seems to be the leader bawls out more of his hissing and clicking commands. Those monsters who can walk start backing away from their opponents.
Starhawk sends another arrow at the man on the roof and hits him in the face but the arrow bounces harmlessly off his helm.
Tabiti fires at the same monster but misses
Rastorlanth firing from the tree hits the severely injured monster in the leg but its armour protects it.
Strazzen mounts another charge, his lance severs one of the tails on the
monster and it falls to the ground. Its body ripples for a
moment but then rips itself apart in a huge explosion. Strazzen is hurled from the back of Midnight and lies unconscious on the ground. Midnight is also laid out on the ground. The leading scorpion man is knocked to the floor and bleeding heavily but is not unconscious.
Strazzen will lie down and dream Sweet dreams of cavalry charges against Lunars and the Red Light District of Pavis :)
The other monsters seeing this turn their retreat into a full scale rout.
Starhawk speedarts his first arrow and sends it winging its way to the scorpion man on the roof. He doubts that it's going anywhere quickly. He follows it up with a second. He jinks Polaris this way and that only holding it in a straight line for the moment that he fires.
Rastorlanth shoots after the scorpionmen, hoping to kill at least one of them as they flee. If they escape before he manages to reload his crossbow, he shoots at the falled leader. When they are all dead or fled, he climbs down from the tree to help Strazzen and his mount.
Starhawk seeing the woods looming before him casts befuddle at any retreating target he can still see. He then turns his attention to the scorpionman with the Greatsword. Befuddle flashes out at it. "Get Strazzen out of here and into that stead." He shouts at the others. "Sweyn if you can walk move away."
The scorpionmen are beating a hasty retreat, their leader hauls himself to
his feet and starts to follow them, the beast on the roof jumps down and follows
his comrades but this will allow time for more arrows to be fired at it.
Starhawk fires his first arrow but misses as the monster plunges towards the ground, Tabiti on the other hand hits its thorax but the arrow bounces harmlessly off of its armour.
Rastorlanth fires from the tree but fails to find his target.
Sweyn, unable to walk, successfully casts fanaticism on his target and the monster stops and turns round, it begins to scuttle back towards the prone warrior.
Orlfinn runs to the stead door to tell the people inside that the danger has passed.
Starhawk's second arrow is more successful (critical) and pierces deep into the thorax of the escaping bowman, Tabiti sees her second arrow bite deep into the thing's leg and it drops dead or unconscious to the floor.
Rastorlanth gets off his second shot hitting the leader in the leg but the shot bounces off his armour.
Strazzen continues his restful sleep
As much as Starhawk would like to continue firing he sees a line of departing Scorpionmen who will come back to haunt them. Wiping them out completely is infinitely preferable, or maybe just letting one escape to spread the word... He thus changes tactics and casts befuddle at a retreating scorpion man, figuring that Petronax, Sweyn, and Orlfinn will be able to handle one scorpion man.
"Come on Tabiti, let's kill them all." Starhawk rides after them,
till it gets too dark. He is casting Befuddle repeatedly at them to slow down
It is overcast and so quite dark, light enough to cast spells by though
Starhawk's attempt to cast befuddle fail.
Tabiti manages to destroy one of its legs with an impressive shot (critical)
Rastorlanth is still reloading his bow.
Orlfinn turns and charges the monster but won't be able to hit it this round.
The scorpionman towering over Sweyn thrusts his sword down, despite the flailing of his sword he fails to ward off the blow and his head is skewered to the floor, his body goes limp as his soul is accepted by Humakt. The thrust was so hard that at the moment the monster cannot retrieve his sword.
Tabiti's next arrow hits the scorpionman's arm but does not penetrate the
Starhawk again fails to cast befuddle.
The scorpionmen are all in the woods now with the exception of the fanaticised one, which manages to pull its sword free of Sweyn and the ground.
Starhawk finally manages to cast befuddle and overcomes the monster.
Orlfinn charging up behind it drives his sword (impale) deep into one of its legs, but finds the weapon is now stuck in there.
Tabiti hits it in the same leg but the arrow does not penetrate
Rastorlanth puts a bolt into the monsters head but it doesn't cause a massive amount of injury.
The monster hits Orlfinn who successfully parries with his target shield
driving the blow against his right leg, his armour stops most of the rest
of the impact leaving only a small scratch there.
Round 5 sees the monster in confusion as the befuddle takes effect. (You now have to deal with a fanatic who doesn't know who to kill)
Starhawk bellows "Everyone stand away from it, help Strazzen. Everything else can wait a moment." Starhawk waits to see whether his order will be obeyed. If it is he dismounts to cast healing on Strazzen. "Help me. We can't even move him like this." he says to those gathered nearby.
Starhawk is appalled by the injuries Strazzen has recieved. "Holy Father!" he exclaims. "Stay with me Strazzen. Stay with me, you hear me!" It's obvious by the way that Starhawk is working frantically, that Strazzen is close to death. Starhawk is pulling out all the stops. He starts with the chest and abdomen as these wounds will kill him more quickly.
Starhawk is struggling out of his armour to do this. The light chain coming off over his head like a shirt. It gets dumped next to him, his leg and arm armour follows. His shield, bow, spear are on Polaris, standing nearby.
Starhawk's spell casting fails and all his attempts at first aid go awry.
Orlfinn fails to cast his heal spell
Tabiti manages to cast hers and the success brings Strazzen back to conciousness.
Rastorlanth is either up the tree or climbing down it either way he cannot influence events with Strazzen at the moment
Orlfinn slowly steps back from the beast and runs to Strazzen's fallen form "Orlanth grant me the power to heal. Chalana aid me". Orlinn's magic works, the power of the gods works its way through him and into Strazzen who is now brought hugely back to health. He's a bit under the weather now.
Strazzen's final charge against the Light Lunar infantry flank ends suddenly
as he now feels the very real pain of living. He remembers the Scorpionman,
and the explosion, but not much else. As he is helped up he cries and looks
lost . "Midnight? Midnight!! Oh God Orlanth , please say he is alive.
Midnight!!" as he falls to his side he tries to cast Xenohealing, crying
" Why didn't somebody help Midnight??" "Oh great and Might
Lightbringers, please say he shall live for another charge! Midnight, you
leave me, we've been through too much. Midnight?!?!" Strazzen continues to sob softly as he strokes Midnights mane.....
"Welcome back to the land of the living Strazz." Grins Starhawk looking down at him.
"You think you can get him inside Orlfinn?" asks Starhawk, looking over to Orlfinn who is doubtless still glowing with CA magic.
"Tabiti and I are going to lead this scaley bastard on a merry catch as scorpion men can't game. Don't think he'll like the ending though."
"You ok for riding around the stead shooting at it, Tabiti?" adds Starhawk, remembering that he hasn't actually asked Tabiti to do this yet.
Tabiti nods eagerly. "We ride, shoot, ride away. See how fast he can run."
"The rest of you are welcome to take any shots you want from the stead. It's safer, as he's bloody dangerous."
"Ok let's do it. Foot people in the stead. Mounted with me. Any questions?"
Rastorlanth climbs down from the tree and follows Starhawks orders.
Everyone gets in the stead except for Starhawk and Tabiti who moving to a safe distance begin to fire at the befuddled monster.
Starhawk's first arrow hits it in the leg causing a slight cut to appear there, Tabiti hits it in another leg but the arrow does not penetrate.
As soon as it realises it is under attack the scorpionman turns tail and flees towards the woods.
Starhawk hits it in yet another leg but the arrow fails to penetrate and Tabiti has the same luck. Starhawk chases the scorpion man towards the woods but does not enter them.
"Oh well, that's over for the moment." says Starhawk, a note of disappointment in his voice.
"You did well though." he says, grinning over at Tabiti. "The trick is to kill as many as you can without getting hurt yourself."
He rubs his chin in thought.."We'll see about getting you the flaming arrow spell, that's really useful against these big scaled things."
She looks frustrated. "Needs hit harder. Arrows bounce off armour, no good. Bounce off burning, still no good."
"Anyway, let's take a closer look at what we brought down. You know I think I saw some scale armour in there. I also think there'll be some metal scattered over a wide area and we wouldn't want these steaders to get their hands on any of it, would we?"
She grins. "If rabbit people want, come get!"
"Tabiti, how do you feel about some hunting and tracking in the morning light?" asks Starhawk, a certain wicked gleam in his eyes.
She looks thoughtful. "Wait till morning, have Karzgant blessing? If had spell for light, could hunt now."
Starhawk smiles at the eager young cavalry woman, but shakes his head.
"I have a spell for light, but it will not help us. It would just tell them where we are. If they want to hide from us they can."
"In the morning though it will be different. They're big and won't be able to hide well from us well in daylight. Then we ride them down and finish the job we started."
"As for firearrow, it burns with a very little of the Salamander's fire and so usually it doesn't bounce."
Starhawk reaches the bodies of the dead or exploded scorpion men, looking around carefully before dismounting.
"You salvage what metal you can from the foe." he says to Tabiti. "I'll see to Sweyn, our fallen comrade."
Starhawk then gathers what he can, including Midnight's saddle blanket, to wrap the remains of Sweyn's head before carrying his body into the stead, Polaris following along behind him.
Tallison and Petronax arrive while he is still doing this.
When it becomes clear the attack has been driven off the inhabitants of the stead burst out. One of them is making a huge fuss about something. "Penmade! Penmade! Where's Penmade? They've taken him, quick we've gotta get out there and find him or he'll get etten."
Starhawk looks at the man like he just crawled out of a hole in the ground. "So nice of you to join us." he says caustically, before sighing and adding tiredly, "How many of your people are missing then? Just the one?" Even as he is saying this he's walking towards his Polaris and donning his armour again. He then grabs his hoplite shield and spear. "You are all going to join us." states Starhawk flatly, "How many does that make you."
"Penmade is the only one missing, there are 4 of us who can help with the hunt and some Uroxi who charged off into the woods screaming"
Starhawk listens intently. Then nods.. "We have some more friends coming on foot, when they get here, we'll leave."
"All the horses inside, leave the two least able of your people here with Strazzen, our wounded comrade. They'll be the stead guard, leave them a horn. If we hear it then we'll know they've circled around behind us."
"The rest of you, bring torches, we're going in to look for these things. I have magic light for the hunt, but seeing to that will limit the spells I can use."
"When we meet these things it's spells and thrown weapons first. Befuddle is best, but disrupt will probably take out a leg."
"Alright everyone ready yourself, we have a dangerous fight ahead of us."
Tallison arrives with Petronax to a scene of death and confusion. "What has happened here" demands the tall lanky sundomer his cheeks hollow and thin. He does not look too fit from what you can see of him.
The general infantry eventually arrive and the whole group is now reunited.
Some yelling can be heard from within the trees but more of anger and frustration
than pain or injury.
A couple of the steadsmen offer to stay and keep watch on the stead while the others pick up their weapons and ready themselves to help find their comrade, while studiously ignoring the nobleman's stern gaze and harsh unforgiving eyes.
"Petronax, Tallison. Sweyn's dead. Scorpion man smashed his head in with a greatsword." Starhawk says studiously buckling the strap on his helmet. A nod indicates the steaders standing close by..
"These steaders are missing a man and we're going to go and look for
him. You two up for that?"
Tabiti, you stick close to me when we go in. Same as before."
Tallison coughs ..and answers "Aye that I am Brother "and dismounts & takes his helm from his animal. "Even though I have just recovered from a fever of death, I will come ..cough" he replies with a rasping voice.
"Petronax ? what say you ?" he queries
Parthak has also arrived with Petronax and Tallison
Starhawk addresses him directly... "Parthak, do you have anything to counteract scorpion venom?"
Parthak will bend down and place his hand solemnly upon the fallen comrade's chest. He will feel for a heartbeat. If he doesn't feel one he'll put his ear to the chest and see if he can hear one. He will give this a considerable amount of time in case the poison has slowed the pulse rate down to virtually nothing. Only when he is absolutely convinced that the fellow is dead will he rise and ask if anyone else needs treatment.
He should be convinced quite quickly, most of his head is missing, he was impaled with a great sword.
(Looking at the remains, somewhat stunned) "That sting-monster hit *hard*. He brave for go fight it close. Shame he die so fast, not show his god he brave, have much honour."
(Frowns, trying to remember yells in a strange language) "What god he call on? Not Orl-Ant, not Karzgant, not Bull, some other? I not hear."
Rastorlanth says, "He said Humakt. The grim but powerful god of death. He was once Orlanth's brother."
"I heard." answers Starhawk, "he called on Humakt God of Sword
Warriors and Death." he frowns and continues.
"A powerful God of battle, however those who follow him never return from death. The Sun, whether he be Yelm or Kargzant, returns with the dawning of a new day."
Starhawk pauses, as this Yelm rhetoric doubtless does not go down too well with some of the others.
"He (Starhawk can't remember his name) fights on a different plain now and Humakt will know his worth. When this is over we will give him the rites he richly deserves."
She looks thoughtful, as they wait for the foot-warriors to get themselves sorted. "My fa-" (checks, re-starts) "Man I knew once, he followed death-spirit, North War Wind. Same spirit? He say, death-spirit makes stronger warrior, kill enemy better." She shakes her head. "Not help this one enough."
Strazzen continues to sob, totally oblivious of any action, sounds, or people around him. His friend of many years is gone and not coming back. Strazzen is not going anywhere for awhile.....
Since there's a pause, Tabiti will come over and inspect the damage. "Not heal that. He dead. Shame, is good horse, breed many strong foals." (Inspects the body some more.) "Plenty meat on. Feast tonight!"
Starhawk blinks at that, seemingly quite shocked at the callous undiplomatic attitude on display.
"Note to self," he murmmurs, "talk to Tabiti about manners, before she gets herself or the people around her killed."
Strazzen rises after Tabati's slip of the tongue, stares at her with flame and rage in his eyes, and says, "How dare you! How dare you even think for a second that you will touch my friend, much less feed on his flesh."
She looks at him like he's insane. "You want dishonourArandalya, say her beast not good enough for eat? Dishonour Midnight, say not want his spirit, want waste him like was chaos? Was good horse, not right dishonour him. You want anger spirits that bad, you go long away this place!"
"And how dare you talk like you are a warrior, sitting back in the trees
plinking the Scorpion-men with your "Mighty Bows". What a
joke. You are nothing more than a little girl out in the night."
And you all, over there quoting religious crap like it is important at this moment. How dare you claim Yelmalio or Orlanth is greatest, when their followers can't even stand toe-to-toe with a chaos monster. My friend Midnight is dead. Our acquaintance Swen is dead because you cowards can only stay at a safe distance and plink stuff with arrows. You cannot stand for a melee fight can you?? And look, the only followers that were brave enough to fight toe-to-toe were followers of the Golden Road and Death itself. You all make me sick. I think I'm going to puke !"
She shrugs, not *quite* as insulted as perhaps she should be. "Good warrior is warrior who win. We win. Best good warrior is warrior who win and not get killed and not get horse killed. We win. Thunder alive, Polestar alive, chaos-stings run away. You want get enough close to chaos-sting for bite it, you go with Bull-people. But leave horse and bow with us: we know how use!"
Starhawk doesn't need to say anything, Tabiti can take care of herself in this. However he stands close by, in a visible show of support. He seems almost preternaturally calm. He's keeping an eye on the approaching axeman though.
Rastorlanth recognizes himself in this sarcastic remark. "My friend, I am a herder, not a warrior, but I will aid with defence the best I can."
Starhawk interrupts then, speaking calmly before this goes any further. "Strazzen, you can thank Orlfinn for your life when you calm down. You fought well, now rest you've done your part for the evening."
"Not well enough. My friend of 3 years and many campaigns is dead and I led him to it." Strazzen walks over to Orlfinn and Kneels sayings " Thank you Wind brother. My life is yours."
Looking around Strazzen sees the carnage and thinks for a moment, then speaks slowly " I'm sorry Tabiti, I'm not familiar with you or most anyone's customs in this area. Where I come from, We burn our friend on a Pyre and sing songs to Orlanth, Praising our friends and praying their ashes and spirits fly back to him. I had no right to snap at any of you like that. I'm sorry. I just wish he was still here with us , alive in this world." With that said, Strazzen slowly slumps down to Midnight again and lays his head down on his mane.
Tabiti nods seriously. "Horse alive is much better than horse dead.
And was good horse. We honour him later way he understand. But
remember he horse, not person! Different honour for horse."
Touched by Strazzen's honourable apology and reminded of the funeral rituals, Rastorlanth struggles to keep the tears in his eyes. "I knew him not, but I will sing the songs with you and help you make a poem which will remind us of your friend in the hard times to come."
After addressing said new friend with axe Strazzen will rise, draw his Broad sword, approach the third scorpion-man, say a prayer to Orlanth for Midnight, and coup-de-grace. If he blows up, then it is just Strazzen's time.
Tabiti nods approvingly. "That right, not give chaos-sting honourable death. Kill quick, in case come back. We burn, later?"
While the party are preparing themselves to follow the scorpionmen they are
aware of a sudden rustling in the woods where the beasts
went back into the trees. A man wielding an axe and sword bursts out of the trees looking frantically around for something to kill.
If he's that obviously a Storm Bull, Tabiti now knows how to deal with them. "Chaos went that way" (points the way the scorpionmen went)
Parthak will turn towards the oncoming wildman and watch warily as he approaches.
While he's still some distance away Starhawk is fairly nonchalant (this will
change however if the newcomer is an Uroxi berserker and charges at him).
He glances at the steaders to see if they recognise the newcomer.
Tallison glances at the axe wielding manic with a confused expression wandering about his face. "A friend of yours?" he raspily inquires, raising an eyebrow before slipping his helmet on.
"I was just about to ask the steaders the same question." responds Starhawk, somewhat icily, "but as he's not a scorpion man I'll hold fire for the moment."
"You're not going to collapse on us, are you Tallison? You were raving
dangerously, like a madman, not too long ago."
Ferik, looked up and down the open area, - not a sign of the filthy chaos sucking bastards. He glanced down and spotted a lump of rock, cast up by some ancient plow and, in a fit of pique at the escape of his enemies, he swung a vicious kick at the stone - in the hope it that might go crashing through the trees, as if in pursuit of his prey. But the stone was deceptive - most of it, in fact, lay under the packed earth. So his kick rebounded on him.
He roared with anger (and not a little pain). Then, in a stream of utterly disgusting (and physically impossible - in most cases) Tarshite, he cursed the filthy chaos spawn that polluted this land, the Lunar empire and their "vomit sucking" emperor along with numerous other lesser entities.
Throwing his weapons to the ground, in a fit of rage, he grasped his injured foot in both hands and began hopping - still swearing in a distinctively nasal Tarshite accent - as he healed his injured foot. This done he leaned down and, with a force of will and raw strength, he ripped the rock from its berth and threw it, tumbling, into the woodland.
Starhawk quite admires the display, as despite being incredibly uncouth and not to put too fine a point on it 'common', the gutter poetry has really hit the nail on the head, as far as his own thoughts on the matter are concerned.
"This man can teach me to swear with feeling." he says, to no-one in particular. Grinning, he adds, "If I'm very lucky I might learn to spit over a long distance as well. My father would love that."
As the Uroxi, fairly obvious really, gets closer. Starhawk can't really think of anything to say to the man, still a little stunned by the man's mastery of vulgarity, his one attempt at communication comes out somewhere in the no-mans' land between crazy and flippant.
"Nice night for a walk?" he says grinning. "In the forest?" he adds, nodding back the way the newcomer has just come. "I have light and we have a tracker. Nothing's lost that we can't find eh? You can tell us your name as we walk."
Tallison blocks his ears as he takes off his helmet ..the cries and oaths are just amplified by it. "By all the gods" he exclaims "that man if that is what it is, has a mouth like a common whore!" Tallison looks rather repressed and embraassed by this torrent of filthy words. "I mean really does he know what he is saying?" protests the pious sundomer templar scout.
Tabiti listens with interest, and a total lack of comprehension. Starhawk
does likewise, though the feeling and raw emotion in the newcomer's voice
communicates some of what is being said.
"I get the impression he's not very happy with life." remarks Starhawk, perhaps a little sarcastically.
Ferik paused for breath then, switching to a thickly accented (but fluent) Tradetalk, he bellowed "Come back you cowardly scuttling filth, come back and I'll rip your stinking guts out and strangle you with them. Come back you stinking spawn of a thousand unknown fathers. cowards, scum, vermin, simpering maggots! Come back and die!"
Rastorlanth looks at the man with a smile full of happiness and surprise, "Finally! Someone who shares my opinion."
"This man could teach us to swear," says Starhawk grinning. "What a remarkable voice. He reminds me of a certain file leader back home, could strip the hair from a bison at ten paces with a shout."
Ferik's voice echoed through the clearing then slowly petered off into the distance. He stood, as if hoping that his enemies might return to face him, then, realising that this was not to be, he spat and, turning on his heel, marched towards the assembled party, shoving his shortsword into his scabbard as he did. His battleaxe sat in the grasp of his right hand.
Tabiti spoke first. "They go that way" (pointing). "Run fast, need horse for catch. Think they got prisoner, so we go chase. You want chase too?"
Ferik seemed to pause, as if translating, Tabiti's words. Then he slapped the haft of his battleaxe into his left hand. A maniacal gleam flickered behind his eyes. He spoke eagerly, "They 'ave a prisoner, do they? Good for you to spot the filth - let's get after them. What are we waiting around here for? Don't you know what the scum do to their prisoners? Right, whose got a spare horse?"
"Umm...do you need me?" asks Rastorlanth." I am not a warrior, and I don't have a horse, but I will come if you deem it necessary. If not, I will stay here, check the damage and help guard the stead while you are away."
Petronax turns to the assembled group "Come on time's a wasting we need to get after these buggers before they get away with their captive entirely" With that he starts off into the trees.
Strazzen now looks at the new intruder and says " A day late and a wheel short would you not say friend? All the warriors show up after the chaos leaves."
Ferik paused then turned to look Strazzen straight in the eye. He speaks very slowly, as if to check that what he says can't be misconstrued, "What do you mean by that ......friend? I don't know about you but 've been trying to chase down the scum - I'd didn't skulk around hiding from the foe? Or are you the type that blames others for their own failures...... friend?".
Strazzen looks up from where he sits with Midnight and says "What's
it matter now? The Scorpionmen are gone and you show up out of the bushes.
All I said is that you have bad timing. I sure poor Swen would have agreed
if he still had his head. Besides it is you coming out of the hidden bushes,
not me. "
Starhawk interrupts again, looking at Strazzen a little coldly this time. He steps between the two in a friendly manner, spearhead down, hoplite shield thumping against his leg.
"Don't mind him friend," begins Starhawk, "he's had a bad day. He killed two of the bastards himself, though the second one burst violently into a thousand pieces just after his lance impaled it. The violence of that killed his horse, and almost killed him, not good for a cavalry soldier that, not at all."
Starhawk turns to Rastorlanth then, "Rastorlanth, you're coming along, try to stay at the back and use either spells or your bow. Pull people out who are down. You and Parthak are the horse guards, they're our escape route if things go bad. Support a fighter if you can but don't become the centre of attention. I want to see you breathing at the end of this."
Turning back to the others Starhawk starts grinning, his voice very calm, very confident, very professional. He gives the impression that he's done this before.
"Here's what we're going to do. We're going to track them, so bring torches. I have light too and so tracking them shouldn't be too difficult. They'd just hide from a mounted chase going around the wood, " he pauses to glance at Tabiti 'all two of us'. In any case we'd have to find their exit path which would take too long."
"So we'll take the horses through the woods so we don't have to split up. If we catch them in the woods try to find a low overhanging branch and get under it. It makes their sting less effective. "
"When we catch them spells and missiles first before they get to hand to hand. We've all seen how strong these bastards are. I'll try and confuse the one furthest on the right, if it keeps coming hit it but otherwise leave it alone. Everyone else picks a target and shouts it out when we meet them. Pair up with someone with armour if you don't have any."
"Tabiti, you're on horseback when we're out of the woods. Use your bow on the scorpion men and take care of Polestar, we can't afford to lose any more horses."
Looks a little doubtful, then nods. "You not riding? Better for ride, move fast as chaos-sting, hit more hard when horse help.
Starhawk meets Tabiti's eyes. "We have lots of foot soldiers here, and
not enough armour among them. If there's an ambush the scorpion men will be
in amongst them very quickly and our arrows will find friend as well as enemy."
"Tallison and myself have the big shields, we train to fight larger enemies, usually trolls. Our skills can save lives. Also I don't want to use a spear from Polaris' back as I don't want him to die like Midnight if one of the bastards explodes. Polaris is as rare as a pearl in these parts."
Starhawk picks up Polaris' reins. "I can guess what Strazzen's going through right now. Polaris has taken me through ambush and enemy ranks, he 's like a brother to me."
Starhawk shakes his head...
"I'm sorry Tabiti, until we know they're still running I'm on foot. If we have to slow them down I'll mount up," Starhawk's fierce grin returns, "and we 'll chase them to the Styx and back."
Starhawk looks over at Parthak and his bulk, thinking about how he must feels having run all the way here. "Parthak, thanks for running all the way here. If you want to ride for a while my horse is a spare."
Parthak accepts Starhawk's offer to ride his spare horse.
Starhawk grins, looking back at Tabiti he looks like he's about to ruffle
Tabiti's hair like an older brother, but thinks better of it.
"Rabbit folk, what would they do without us?" he murmurs softly, before adding in a louder voice. "Come on horse archer. Petronax is leaving without us."
Tabiti grins back. "I think we catch up. He run long way, much armour, and he old. More than four hands of years. You be careful close to sting-monster, yes? All friends be careful. Still better shoot from distance than get stinged, even if not got horse."
Strazzen looks down at the lifeless eyes of the chaos creature and finds
no satisfaction. He slowly sheaths his sword and walks back over to what remains
of Midnight. He kneels again,and gentley places his head to the horses head,
whispering something. after a few moments he softly kisses the horse and rises
Where a youthful boy was a few days ago stands a gore covered, burnt, hardened man now with a look of Death and vengence in his eyes and in his heart. Strazzen takes off his crossbow, looks at the burnt wood and string and chucks it to the ground. Next he strips away all equipment that is not useful for battle, or that is too badly burnt.Finally he rumages through his saddlebags and finds a
couple of waterskins, a dagger, and a smaller sack and purse. He takes the dagger and cuts off a small bit of Midnight's Mane/Tail (that is least damaged) and puts it in the small pouch. He then adjusts his remaining equipment and puts on all his armour again, ready for battle once more.
He looks around , and then looks to Starhawk and says " I'm confused my friend, who is in charge of this stead? Can they make sure Midnight is taken inside the Stead and set up on a pyre?"
Starhawk turns at Strazzen's voice, even as he walks after Petronax, he pauses and listens to the heavy cavalryman. "Tell them yourself Strazzen. You did as much to save their lives as any here." he smiles. " Don't sell yourself short my friend. If any of them tell you no, they'll answer to all of us. Catch us up when you've made your wishes clear."
Strazzen then looks in the direction of the Scorpionman retreat and with his gore covered, smouldering body and grim death warmed over look says " We have unfinished business to take care of this night. One of us shall die before dawn. Either I shall fall, or those things shall pay the price for what they have taken from me."
Rastorlanth reloads his crossbow, rubs his injured leg with his hand, checks
that his sword and shield are secure, and follows.
Tabiti pauses for a moment. "You got leg hurt? Not run with leg hurt. I got spell, you want I try?"
Tallison follows the noble Petronax lead...ordering briskly "strap your armour tight and have a good weapon to hand Brothers ..errrrrr " looking at Tabiti " and sisters! Lets go hunt some scum!"and follows Petronax bow ready and arrow nocked on the string, armour fastened down tighter than rigging in a storm.
Starhawk walks into the forest carrying a spiked torch in his right hand
for light, and a hoplite shield in his left hand for any unwelcome meetings.
His bow and quiver are on Polaris, some ways behind him. His spear is held
in his shield hand, so his shield is high on his arm for the moment. Pondering
what has happened and playing host to some unwelcome thoughts about what the
bastards are doing to their prisoner, his thoughts turn to the Uroxi warrior
newly come amongst them. He moves towards the front, doubtless where the Uroxi
is, though hopefully not frothing at the mouth.
Moving close to him, certainly closer than he wants to be..
"So who are you and what are you doing here?" he asks in reasonable trade tongue.
Starhawk decides being closer that approaching the on his right, with his fire door of shield between them was a good idea. "You're a follower of the Bull, right?"
He glances behind him to make sure the horses are ok before his eyes meet those of the Uroxi. These men are nuts, everyone knows that, but nuts doesn't mean stupid. Uroxi the pro's and the con's.
Starhawk's eyes moved this way and that. Disconcerted by the shadows and
the nearness of the trees, any one of which could conceal the presence of
a lurking scorpion man. Dumb though he had found them to be, still they were
nasty opponents. Nevertheless Starhawk doubted that they would be waiting
in ambush. They were big and the forest hindered them every bit as much the
The woods were as dark, as he remembered well from the Garden, but filled with a sense of danger, which was new. No surprise there though, spearmen especially dislike woods, no way to form a shield wall that actually works. Still his spear would do just fine here.
Strazzen's loss bothered him though, horsemen were the advantage over chaos, as the fight with the scorpion men had shown. They could ill afford the loss. He would have to have a word with the Dorasta priestess about that. A gifting would be necessary though, doubtless a lavish one.
Petronax and Orlfinn's family could bring Dorastor to sturdy defensible life, but horses would be need to take the fight to chaos. Note to self, let's start horse breeding as soon as stead production makes this possible. Damn I'll need to add a book on training warhorses to the list.
I wonder when those Vingans are coming. Could use them now.
The scorpionmen have made a wide and easily followed trail for those with the skill to follow, Ferik, Rastorlanth, Tabiti and Strazzen all manage to find the signs easily. The trail is on dry land for about 100m and then switches to a stream after a while they left the stream and started crossing some marshy land.
Starhawk stops before he enters the marsh. The torch its yellow flames, spitting
and cracking against the night air illuminates his face, showing to all a
hard and determined expression.
"A plague on darkness!" he swears, with some feeling. He then turns to his companions.
"How many of us wish to continue the chase?" he asks those there.
"Before you decide let me tell you how I see this situation."
"First, this marsh, if the maps tell it right, abuts Spider Woods over yonder" he says, then points south. "The spiders that call it home could well be attracted by our torches. No-one who has gone near the wood has survived as far as I know."
"Second, the ground could not be worse for horseman, which is a problem as these bastards have a head start and can run faster than we can on foot."
"Third, its very bad ground for tracking, unless there are some here that can track over water in darkness."
"Fourthly they will probably be heading for Foulvale, where it is rumoured scorpion men inhabit. If we enter we would be moving into their territory, where the possibility of being ambushed is high. We outnumber them for the present but what would occur if they reached re-inforcements and the hunter became the hunted."
"We couldn't even run away as without the advantage of open ground and horses they're faster than us."
"From a military point standpoint entering the marsh has little to recommend it." Starhawk's face is cool and detached, but the line of his jaw betrays his anger and frustration at this turn of events.
"We should check to see whether they doubled back and left the marsh nearby. These scorpion men are heavy and might like the marsh as little as we, though with eight legs I doubt it, still perhaps this is a ruse."
"Tabiti, ride the boundary that way a short distance, look for tracks and then come back. I'll go this way." says Starhawk preparing to mount up.
She does that. Taking a torch if there is one, as her chances of seeing tracks without it are quite low.
Tallison listens to this and mounts and follows Tabiti to left "My eyes are still good light brother..or they were be this cursed sickness...I'll look for tracks this way and guard our good comrade with my bow " he declares as he gallops away to the left.
Starhawk nods at Tallison, even as he urges his horse into a gallop after Tabiti. "It's good to see you back lightbrother."
Strazzen looks at Starhawk with a disconnected look. "Military point?" he says " I do not have a Military point about this whole night. My friend of many a military campaign is gone, and so I say again Either those foul bastards who took Midnight will all DIE, or I will."
Starhawk meets the heavy cavalryman's gaze calmly. "These things happen in war. You mustn't lose your temper, or be guided by your heart in this. Brawn for brawn we are out-matched by these things. Our advantage are our wits, our tactics and our teamwork."
"Stay focussed on what is achievable, not what we would wish to be so. Come Strazzen I will grieve with you when this is over."
Petronax: "Us footmen cannot escape even in the open now, we have closed with the foe and they have fled before us, I say we go forward and butcher the foul beasts. They have a tribesman of ours in their horrid clutches, let us go forward and save him, even if we must trudge right to the border of foulvale."
Starhawk is puzzled by Petronax's statement, he even pauses before riding
off looking for tracks.
"Not sure what you mean, the stead's back that way. Escape is within easy reach for footmen as well as horsemen, all you need do is turn around. The danger will only be if we continue."
Pulling up Polaris, who wishes for the off, with some effort his parting shot is thus.
"Those who have the greatest stake in this should go first. arrange yourself as you would like. It will make little difference I suspect, for it is a brave but foolish commission in my view. I will follow but shall not lead such an enterprise."
Starhawk rides to look for other tracks.
Rastorlanth looks at Starhawk worriedly and says:"Should I accompany one of you to help?"
Parthak follows Starhawk's lead. (Rather slowly, surely? Starhawk has now re-mounted, and Parthak is back on foot.)
While the party is on the edge of the marsh deciding what to do, two scorpionmen break from cover close by and rush through the party, striking with stingers as they go. The first stinger hits Ferik in the abdomen and his parry fails. The blow penetrates his armour but he is still stood up (until the poison works its charm)
The second sting hits Tabiti but (by some miracle) she deflects it with her spear.
Before anyone can react with an attack the monsters are running back into the marsh, one stooping to pick up a very large bundle.
Rastorlanth will shoot the one picking the bundle.
Tabiti, spear still in hand and with no time to swap to her bow, charges into the swamp. She successfully casts her bladesharp but Thunder stumbles on a tussock in the darkness and Tabiti lands with a splash in the mud
Starhawk fires off a befuddle at the carrying Scorpionman, as while Starhawk was talking he still had his spear in his hand, so no bow I'm afraid. He waits for the arrows to depart first before doing so. He then dismounts and charges into the marsh hoping to get the prisoner from the now hopefully befuddled scorpion man. He'll use another befuddle if necessary to slow them down.
Tallison casts his mutlimissle 2 on his arrow, brings his bow up and aims at the scorpion man carrying the bundle...
Looking up at Starhawk before answering, Petronax wheels about in a spray of swamp water as the scorpionmen burst from hiding and stabs with his gladius at the closest scorpionman with a savage grunt and readying his scutum to parry the monster's poison laden stinger should it be used against him. During the momentary lull after the initial attacks, Petronax cries out to his forefathers to cloud the mind of the unencumbered scorpionman and focusses his psyche to blast through the monsters soulguard.
Petronax gathers his will and unleashes it on the second scorpionman, he too becomes confused and unsure why he is here and what he is running from.
The two befuddled scorpionmen are wandering about with no particular purpose. The bundle was dropped in alarm when it started squealing and the chaos things moved away from it.
The party are about 20m away, some advancing, others just lying in muddy puddles :-)
Tabiti gets up from her particular muddy puddle and says some rude things (in Pentan) about marshes that are much too wet, and non-Pentan horses that are much too incompetent. And how said non-Pentan incompetent horse is going to get further training. By the time this is over, no doubt others will be doing much more useful things :)
As the scorpionmen run Starhawk concentrates his will sending a blast towards
the beast carry the bundle, it stops. Staring round in a
confused manner, it wonders why it is in the middle of a marsh and why all these people are chasing him.
Tallison's arrow hits the bundle causing it to shout and squirm, the second magical one bounces harmlessly away
Strazzen will advance on the bundle to investigate.
Starhawk, shakes his head. "It's the steader, he can wait. Let's get these bastards. Choose one and mob it. Leave the other one till we've given this one his formal welcome to our lands."
Strazzen snaps to and a look of rage crosses his eyes. He looks at Starhawk and nods slowly as he approachs the first Scorpionman."No mercy" he mumbles to himself as sword and shield begin the dance of death with the chaos thing.
Rastorlanth throws the crossbow to the dry ground and takes his sword and
shield. He quickly runs to the budle and cuts the rope that ties it, trying
to keep away from the scorpionmen all the time.
Parthak will try to maneuver the horse he is riding over to block to scorp's retreat.
Tallison aims carefully at the scorpionmans head and yells "Some one
get that bundle whilst we have time !!!!!!!!!"
will fire only if the scorpionmen snap out of the spell.
Tabiti drags herself up out of the mud and sees her companions attack the beast.
Tallison nocks an arrow and draws his bow aiming at the monster.
Rastoranth cuts the bonds and unties the groaning bundle, there is blood where the arrow grazed it. Now he tries to get the man to his feet and take him out of the mess. When it is done, he takes his crossbow and shoots the enemy, if it is still alive.
Parthak manages to move Polaris and get round the back of the scorpionmen.
Starhawk attempts to cast Bladesharp but fails this obviously put him off as his strike at the scorpionman goes well astray.
Petronax swings and misses and then blasts the monster with a successful Befuddle
Orlfinn swings his broadsword and misses
Ferik frothing with rage, as only Uroxi can, swings a massive blow (critical hit) and lops the monsters head clean off. At the same time Strazzen sends a well aimed blow into the thorax of the Scorpionman. It drops dead, headless. The other monster is still in a state of confusion and watches interestedly as its comrade is destroyed.
"Good strike!" Starhawk congratulates Ferik looking impressed.
Yelmalions tend not to see too many decapitations using spears and all. Starhawk
then turns to his comrades in arms, attempting to forestall them moving on
with unseemly haste..
"Wait!" he yells.
"Someone give the bundle a weapon."
"Next one now. Prepare and only strike when we're all in position."
Seeing a mud coated apparition in their ranks Starhawk grins and asks, "Tabiti, are you alright?"
"Stupid horse!" (She continues on the same theme, but in Pentan)
Anyone who can talk that much *must* be all right!
And she casts Bladesharp (unless I got it up earlier?) and hit the second scorpionman. If this lot left anything of it to hit, that is :)
Tallison aims at the remianing monster and fires two arrows .
Parthak manoeuvres Polaris further round until he is agaim blocking off the
path of retreat for the scorpionman
Tallison fires his first arrow which goes wide, then he fires his second which hits home and sticks into one of its legs making it hobble.
Starhawk tries and fails to cast bladesharp but regardless manages to strike home with his spear stabbing the same leg as Tallison struck
Tabiti is unsuccessful with her bladesharp but she manages to strike with her spear anyway, putting a gash in the monsters head.
Strazzen hits another leg with an impale which virtually amputates it
Ferik swings his axe but the blow goes wide.
Petronax aims a blow and hits another leg. He then cast befuddle but the attempt fails.
Rastorlanth fires his crossbow and hits (impale) the monster in the arm.
Orlfinn aims a blow and hits the monster in its tail.
The last blow seems to have been too much for the monster and it falls to the ground with blood pouring out of many holes.
Tabiti hits it again, just to be sure.
Ferik reels over clasping his stomach where the other scorpionman stung him, he has been poisoned. (John as per Lords of Terror whenever Ferik has a sense chaos against scorpionmen he will feel it as a painful burning sensation in his stomach)
Ferik convulses on the ground as the poison starts to take effect. His body arches and the stream of vulgar Tarshite indicates to all present that he is VERY unhappy. Holding his stomach - he crawls across to the dead scorpionman and kneeling against it - with one hand cradling the wound - he starts to punch the mutilated corpse in the face. It seems that this placates him in some way as he stops - in mid punch - to turn to the party and, through clenched teeth, he speaks in a slow low Tradetalk. "For the sake of mercy - antidote."
Parthak will attempt to dismount as quickly as he can. Once he's down he'll run over to the downed comrade and rummage through his herbs looking for something he can give the fellow.
Tallison moves to a left flanking covering postion and scans the surrounding terrain ..with bow ready for any surprises... "finish it off!" yells the plucky sundomer as he watchs the surrounding terrain
Starhawk steps away from the dead beast, turning his attention to more of
a command role. He gets ready to fire off a lantern spell, if he hears any
movement in the marsh that leads him to suspect that it's not over yet. Hopefully
this will 'light up' the target for some missile work.
OO: Strangely when I am describing this I hear Tallison as Tom Cruise in topgun saying "I got tone" then firing a missile.
His eyes scanning the darkness, his ears alert for any untoward sound, Starhawk makes a brief suggestion. "Salvage the metal, everything else we can burn. Just make sure it stays down."
Rastorlanth reloads his crossbow and looks around for more surprises while the others help the wounded and take care of the Scorpionman's corpse.
Strazzen walks numbly away from the mutilated Scorpionman and looks for more. Not seeing any he walks slowly over to where they burst out of the bushes, looking for a trail to follow.
Starhawk then backs up a little, to where Petronax and Strazzen are standing.
"We should pull out now, back through the woods, the front runners placing an ambush there."Starhawk says quietly.
Starhawk grins as he adds.. "You never know there might be something out here that's curious about us. They're not going to show themselves after our little display here."
"An attempt to draw them out may yet yield some reward."
Grunting, Petronax tightens his cheek pieces and nods. He flicks his gladius
into the earth to cleanse the blade, then wipes it on the marsh grass before
sliding the blade vertically into its scabbard.
"Good idea Starhawk, you cavalry lead off and dismount further on leaving a horseholder to mind your mounts, we infantry will fall back with the booty and see if we can tempt something to take vengeance."
Petronax looks at the tired and battered warriors around him. "Does this sound good to you?"
Starhawk nods and strides back to his cavalry mount. Parthak has dismounted
by this time and (as far as I know) is Tending Ferik who took a stinger to
Starhawk mounts up, "Wind a horn, once and short, if you get into trouble. We'll come quickly with that."
Starhawk pulls Polaris' handsome head around and gesturing to Tabiti, and any other mounted troops, rides back towards the woods paralleling the young Pent girl warrior.
"We're going to see if we can ambush something Tabiti. You up for that?" grins Starhawk. "You did good soldier." he adds, offering praise, "but we might have still more fun before the night is over."
Strazzen squeezes Strazzen's shoulder in a comradely fashion. "Take
all the time you need." he says softly, before moving on to other business.
Starhawk casts a critical eye over the Soderfells stead, the look on his face even by torchlight speaks volumes. He looks annoyed even as he walks around the stead walls.
"What have they been doing with their time?" he says softly. "This place couldn't keep a determined grandmother out."
"Some rabbit folk can't even defend their burrows." he remarks casually to Tabiti.
After tramping around in the swamp for an hour or so you are all cold,wet and muddy, there has been no sign of further scorpionmen. You now have a choice, return to the Soderfall stead or push on into the foulvale and try to locate the nest and kill any scorpionmen you may find there.
Tabiti is cold, wet, and bored. She's ready to go back.
"We won't let this lie as it is." says Starhawk darkly. "If
they can strike at us in our homes then we can certainly strike at them in
theirs. However we are not yet of a strength to accomplish this goal. Let
us return to the stead and discuss how we can bring the war to the chaos creatures
around a warm fire instead of cold and muddy in the dark. We have slain many
this night and it is well done, but for the moment we can do no more."
"Come let us away."
Starhawk begins to move back towards the stead, however as he is no tracker he heads off in the wrong direction.
Tabiti *is* a tracker: but she's also cold, tired, recently very scared, and has just got into the habit of doing whatever Starhawk tells her. POW 7 doesn't imply a lot of leadership. I suspect she just follows without thinking. Let's hope the horses have more sense. Thunder probably beats her on both POW and INT, after all.
Tallison coughs ..."its that way star hawk" he says pointing.........."your right tis time we sat down and counted our eggs , so to speak" he adds ."right? petronax" he glances at the big lunar
(OOC: Petronax is way short, he just has a suprisingly deep voice and a barrel
"Well, it's dark and we're at a disadvantage here against the foulspawn, perhaps we can fall back and see to our wounded. I'd hate to bump into another stoorwyrm or jack o' bear out here after all this fighting."
Petronax sighs and settles his bemired gear over his shoulders, looking about in the misty swamp in confusion.
"I'm also no tracker, I hate not knowing what's going on."
"fear naught petro...I'm a sundome templar scout ..so I'll find us a way out of this " snorts the arrogant sundomer
Tallison successfully picks up the trail and leads you back to the marsh edge where you came in.
Ahem: Petronax is NOT a Lunar, remember? If he was, Tabiti would have killed
him on sight, as would some others in the party. He's a Pel-Or-Ian, which
is a *completely* different thing. (Someday someone is going to slip up and
say "Lunar" aloud, IC, where Tabiti
can hear them. And then the Plot will go on hold for a bit.)
(sotto voce : Petronax *never* refers to himself as a 'Lunar', to him that's
similiar to refering to an Englishman as an 'Anglican' or an Italian as a
'Catholic'. The Red Goddess is the state religion of the empire, Petronax
went to great efforts to avoid joining it even thought it meant his military
service would be extended by something like 18 years. Also, Petronax is a
provincial Imperial, he was born named 'Petronir Pellimsson' in an Aggar community
and unfortunately of the thrall class. He ran off after his sister was sacrificed
to Humakt to ensure success in a raid, the Aggari being rather backward. It
is quite possible that an Aggari might somehow recognise him and demand his
return even after two and a half decades.
So, he thinks of himself as an 'Imperial Citizen', he tends to blare this out like a herald when asked if he's a godless red demon worshipper. In fact, although Petronax loathes chaos, he reserves his hatred for Humakt which he considers a foul monster.)
Strazzen looks wearly at Starhawk and nods. "You are right Brother. The fight is going away and the pain of loss is coming in. I'm tired too, but I will complete this trip soon. Those bastards will pay dearly. By Orlanth they will pay, I promise Midnight."
With that said Strazzen kneels down, sword drawn but point down in the ground
and begins to pray. And it is not to Goldtongue, it is to the Mighty Wind. Praying that it will help him bring justice to his enemies that took away
his friend. That Mighty Orlanth will help protect his new friends and battle
comrades that stood with him tonight, and that Midnight is safe with him.
Strazzen will be the last to get up and head back to Soderfall Sted. And to most his eyes look red and wet.
Ferik limps his way across the site and waits for Strazzen to finish his prayer. His weapons hang from his heavy leather belt and his hands are empty. Hanging from his shoulder is a sack with two scorpionmen heads in it (unless someone else has destroyed them earlier)
When Strazzen stands - Ferik steps forward - with his open hand extended.
In his customary squeaky Tarshite accent he speaks "Earlier we had words,
but on my side - they were words of anger at an enemy that had escaped me,
That enemy is dead now but more remain. I have many enemies in this cursed
land but I would not willingly raise a hand against a comrade. I meant no
you or yours. You fight well ! Kill much chaos. What I'm trying to say is that I hold no grudge ... what say you ?"
I hold no grudge either brother." Strazzen says. "Let's go back now."
Starhawk turns when re-directed by Tallison as to the correct direction to
take. He grins briefly at his mistake.
"Ah yes, it was not yon muddy pool I trudged through but rather that one".
He listens quietly to Ferik's words with a guarded expression initially, however this blossoms into one of obvious approval. Starhawk deems that to be well in hand and turns to other matters.
"Alright let's move out." Starhawk says firmly. "Keep close together. We don't want anyone to get lost on the way back." Once on firmer ground Starhawk mounts up and takes an outrider-point position, doubtless with Tabiti in attendance.
"Stay on my left a little behind. You keep watch on your left and I'll keep watch to the right. If you see anything tell me. Use your bow and I'll use spear and shield."
As the party tramps back to the Soderfalls you become aware of something moving up ahead, you quickly become aware that it is a very tall man carrying some very big weapons.
Starhawk, riding point, switches from spear to bow. He nocks an arrow and
has a closer look, murmuring speedart as he goes. He doesn't get too close
though. He calls Tabiti back if she's less cautious than he is.
But for once she's being sensible: or possibly just too tired to show much initiative.
Tallison watches the man approach and notes starhawk readying his bow......no nods to starhawk and whispers to the others"keep your eyes open friends a stranger comes".....he grips his spear shaft and hopite shield to him
To the big man he shouts"HO THERE!!! WHO WALKS THIS LAND IN SUCH FOUL WEATHER....DECLARE YOURSELF STRANGER"
Ferik shifts slightly to the left so that he can now see the stranger clearly. He speaks sofly in an accented tradetalk "Check your flanks, my friends, he might be merely the tethered goat whilst his allies lie in ambush". As he speaks he lifts the battleaxe, from where it hangs on his belt, and then lays it flat against the side of his left leg. The shortsword is held, by his right hand, at the ready position. Outwardly his demeanour is that of calm expectation not threat. Deliberately he breathes slowly and then attempts to use the great gift that Urox has granted him
Rastorlanth raises his crossbow and aims at the large figure, just in case.
Starhawk, his readied bow down at pommel level, waits quietly for the stranger
to identify himself, his eyes scan the surrounding landscape warily, though
in the darkness he can doubtless see little. He mouthes the ceremonial words
quietly in an attempt to ensure that his speedart spell is cast successfully.
Polestar begins walking backwards, showing off his training. The maneuver
ensures that Polaris presents the smallest target for an arrow, for in doing
this Polestar does not present his flank to a potential enemy. When Polestar
reaches Tabiti's side the golden mount comes to a halt.
"We'll wait and see what Petronax does eh?" he murmurs cooly.
She nods quietly: arrow on the string, but making no attempt to cast any magic. Her eyes (and ears) scan the bushes to either side: this guy may not be alone.
Starhawk looks with obvious approval at the earnestness of the woman soldier
beside him. "Twist your fingers a little more this way, you'll get a
Starhawk shows his own finger arrangement by way of illustration.
"Beat out your mount's strides, release on the third beat, in this moment your horse is still, a creature of the sun it is for a moment a creature not of the land but of the sky." Starhawk says reverently. "It is sacred moment when bow, mount and soldier are as one. Finally when you release see with your mind's eye the arrow striking the target. I find this helps make it so."
Starhawk's manner is far from being the arrogant domer, instead he is the image of a patient teacher.
Rastorlanth mumbles form the back of the party. "Hrumpf. Any Orlanthi would kill you for such a greeting." He then looks at Strazzen, expecting some Orlanthi with higher ranking in the clan to give the man a traditional greeting.
Strazzen just looks limply at the new stranger, then turns around to make sure no one is sneaking up from behind. Strazzen has a very tired, confused, disconnected appearance right now , but his sword and shield are ready.
Looking incredulously at Tallison, Petronax shakes his head and murmurs "It's
always the same when their blood is up, all manners go right by the board!"
Petronax makes a great show of sheathing his weapons, but does not gainsay Tallison's challenge.
Considering that the normal Pentan greeting to a stranger is to shoot first, Tabiti isn't commenting either way.
Tallison turns slowly to Petronax and the rest...."he seems kind of stunned......I wonder who he is to out alone in a place like this?" ponders the blunt and sometimes unsubtle sundomer......."perhaps he is hurt?"............The sundomer templar scout fills his still sickly lungs and bellows " HEEEYYYYY THERE YOU!!!!!!" and waves his hand to the stranger........."he glances at Petronax with a puzzled expression "is he deaf?"
"He may be hurt or weary Tallison. We're not on our tula anymore, so we have to be a little more polite I think, let's wait until he says something. Still, keep your weapons handy . . ."
Starhawk grimaces as Petronax advocates waiting.
"You're right Petronax but I'm cold and wet out here and the deaf mute up ahead is obviously not concerned for our comfort."
Starhawk's sarcastic grin comes to the fore as he adds.. "Perhaps he's
enjoying some kind of private moment." Trying not to laugh he
finishes with.. "We'd best not disturb him."
Urging his horse forward, Starhawk makes to go around the obstacle. "Let's go around."
Orlfinn looks at his companions "I follow steadholder Petronax, shall we leave the stranger alone. Of course we may have put him off with the rude greeting we gave. Tallison when he return to the stead it seems we must talk about manners"
The tall man looks at the party to make out what he can of these bloodied
adventurers. Alone and with out his comrades he stands silent for a while
to assess their threat to him, his hand at his weapon, waiting to draw it
if neccasery. Out numbered and possibly outmatched he feels in no condition
to take them all on.
As they go past he hails them. " Hello, does anybody know a place where a man could find shelter and a meal in this miserable place..? "
Ferik steps forward and speaks, in Tradetalk, "We are travelling back to the nearest trade point, if that is good for you, all I ask is to know who you are and what gods you serve ?".
I am known as Heretic, and I shall travel with you that far if I may, as for the gods which Orlanthi god served my family when they stood by and watched them slaughtered by those foul beasts of chaos ? I suggest we talk less of those who would toy with mortal men and more of what foul creatures you have encountered upon your trail that I may know more of stink of evil which stains this land..