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New story - An unfortunate casualty 
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Trainee Warrior

Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:20 pm
Posts: 42
Hello everyone,

The eight story has been posted.

Best regards.


Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:39 am
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Trainee Warrior

Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:20 pm
Posts: 42
The shadow enemy

Things had not gone according to his plan, thought Arithair with anger. His plan had been so perfect. He had used his magic powers to manipulate the minds of his corsairs, fuelling the natural greed and distrust common to every druchii, so that they would quarrel among themselves about the looted gold and forget to intercept the Lizardmen knights, allowing them to charge the crossbowmen. He had hoped they would kill the sorceress. With her dead, he would have been able to get his hands on the magic stone tables she had taken in the temple and used them to increase his own powers. But his plan had been thwarted when Karaskia had managed to teleport away from the melee. He had underestimated her abilities and it could prove lethal. She had summoned him earlier to warn him of her displeasure and of the fact that she would denounce his incompetence to the captain of the Stronghold of Darkness. This was not good, he thought. For someone like him, attracting attention was a very dangerous thing. For Arithair had magic powers and that made him unfit to live for the practice of magic by male druchii was illegal and the sentence for trespassing this law was death or worse. When the sorceress had come aboard the Stronghold of Darkness, Arithair had felt instant burning jealousy. Her magic powers gave her an elite status as she could ask for a prohibitive price in return for her services and still have an army of customers requesting them. All this just because she was female. His secret studies and attempts at mastering sorcery would probably come to an end if Karaskia complained to the captain of the Black Ark or even to Uriaeth, the negative attention of a highborn so much in favour with the Witch King himself being a dangerous situation. Using his powers to manipulate the minds of these druchii would be very dangerous as it would be very suspicious if they “decided to close their eyes” on an incompetence that almost resulted in the death of a sorceress, especially one whose favour at the court of Karond Kar was growing by the day and all the more if she remained alive to testify against him. This was a very bad situation he thought.

This was really bad thought Durithir as he watched the corsairs carry the loot towards the ships. By proving himself unable to stop the dreadspears regiment he was supposed to command from fleeing, he had utterly failed his trial. With growing terror, he recalled the evening when Uriaeth had summoned him.
“Karaskia is leaving for the coast of Lustria in a week. Here is the perfect opportunity to submit you to a first trial. You already know how to fight and your instructor has reported many times that your fighting skills are ever increasing. But as my retainer, you must also be competent in the area of leadership. So here is your task. I will appoint you as the captain of the regiment of dreadspears enlisted for this expedition. Should there be any battle during this trip, you are to command your regiment throughout the battle and make sure it stands and fight at the front” he had said. “If you succeed in doing this, you will continue your training. But if you fail, pray you die during the battle for I will kill you myself otherwise.”
He had added this threat with a cold voice, hands on his weapon. Trouble had begun immediately once the Black Ark had left Karond Kar. Although none of the soldiers under his authority had been stupid enough to question the decision of a highborn, they had only reluctantly accepted Durithir’s authority, mostly because of his young age and obvious inexperience. He had quickly understood that it was part of the trial. He would have to prove himself to his soldiers. However, now that he had failed the trial, he knew that he would not live past the return to Karond Kar.

On the other side of the druchii camp, Karaskia also seethed with worry. Although they had finished carrying all their loot and had stored it inside their ships, the druchii had been forced to stay ashore for the last four days as a storm was preventing them from leaving the jungle. Also the hydra had yet to fully recover from the poison, having barely survived; only thanks to it amplified regenerative abilities. It had regained consciousness but was still too weak to move. She knew that the Lizardmen would come again. They would stop at nothing to recover the tablets she had taken. Sadly, there was nothing she could do to solve any of the problems at hand, save wait.

When dawn broke on the following day, the storm had still not abated and Karaskia finally realized that it was not a natural storm but that it was conjured through magic. The skink priest, she realized. Realizing that this meant another army was coming their way; she ordered the army to stand ready for battle, the reserves from the docking point coming to replace the soldiers who had fallen during the previous battle. She positioned her troops at the entrance of the beach, close to the trail leading to the city. However this time, she changed the configuration of the army, keeping the dreadspears close to her darkshards bodyguard and keeping the corsairs as far away as she could. Arithair’s explanations the day before had not wholly convinced her. Her intuition told her that what had happened with the corsairs had not been accidental. She had no evidence to support her worries but preferred not to take any risk for another “accident”. Also, keeping the dreadspears close to her would probably encourage them to fight instead of fleeing.

Soon, the Lizardmen army appeared. The skinks who had survived the previous battle had returned, new skinks having come up to replace their fallen kind, as had their priest. The Lizardmen also had with them another stegadon, less large than the former but obviously more aggressive. Hoping the hydra would renew its previous achievement, she ordered the beastmasters to place themselves and their monster in a position that would enable them to counter the dinosaur. Finally, there was a several hundred strong regiment of saurus on foot. Suddenly, the storm abated as the skinks priest stopped channelling it. But by then it was too late to flee to their ships, the druchii would have to win this new battle if they wanted to keep their stolen loot.
The battle began as the Lizarmen advanced, the regiment of skinks advancing then releasing a hail of javelins at the darkshards who raised their shields, only a handful of them falling dead, before replying with volleys of bolts. Meanwhile the saurus regiment advanced aggressively towards the dreadspears while the second regiment of skinks threw their javelins at the corsairs while the skinks on the stegadon, having apparently learned from the survivors of the previous battle that it would be a terrible mistake to underestimate the hydra, fired their giant bow at the hydra but missed it.

Channelling her energies, Karaskia hurled a freezing wind at the skinks facing her darkshards. Several of them fell dead while the others were so chilled by the cold that they could barely move, and much less continue their volleys and so chose to retreat. Meanwhile, the skink priest tried to use his powers to divert a meteor from its course and make it crash on the druchii line. Realizing this, Karaskia gathered all her energies in an attempt to prevent him from doing this. A fierce but invisible battle raged as the two magic practitioners duelled to take control of the magic. In the end, Karaskia managed to stop the skink although the effort left momentarily exhausted.

Braving the javelins with their sea dragon cloaks, Arithair and his corsairs ran across the space between them and the skinks, the magic of their banner inducing them with an increased ferocity that made them oblivious to their losses. Quickly, they reached the skinks and the slaughter became in earnest. Indeed, the skinks were not built for melees and so the druchii cut them with their blades as easily as they would have disposed of defenceless children. Quickly, the Lizardmen's nerves gave away and they fled only to be caught in the nets and hooks of the corsairs who were experts in the capture of fleeing opponents. Seeing the skink priest fleeing just before him, Arithair had a sudden idea. Channelling his energies, the druchii cast an illusion spell that gave the appearance of a normal skink to the priest and the appearance of the priest to another skink whom he stabbed in the back, killing him. He then grabbed the priest with a net, capturing him. He looked around and saw that his corsairs had been too preoccupied with killing or capturing the fleeing skinks to notice what he had done. Sensing Karaskia using her sorcery, Arithair turned towards her and had a new idea. Suddenly, two deafening roars were heard and the corsairs turned and saw the hydra and the stegadon advancing threateningly, each one towards the other, allowing their captain to carry out his plan.

Paltreth felt worry as the hydra advanced towards the stegadon. The war beast had overcome much of the poison but he feared it would still be too weak to prevail during the coming fight. As the distance between the two monsters closed, Paltreth stabbed the hydra on the left side of its tail, hoping to renew the strategy that had allowed it to slay the first stegadon. The hydra reacted like it was training to react, turning left. However, it suddenly stopped moving and groaned in discomfort. Paltreth realized with horror that the beast was overcome with a new surge of the poison. Motionless, the hydra was powerless to avoid the stegadon's charge. The very force of the impact threw the Naggarothi monster to the ground and the stegadon carried on with its momentum, opening its beak and biting deeply its fallen foe. The hydra roared in pain and raised its heads, opening wide its maws and spewing fire at its opponent. Although the fire failed to inflict any serious harm to the dinosaur, the flames failing to take hold on its hard scales, it repelled it, forcing it to release the hydra. Seizing the advantage, the hydra picked itself up and leapt forward, the pain and the adrenaline induced by the attack having enabled it to overcome the poison, even as the stegadon charged again. Paltreth and his companion were forced to retreat so as to avoid being trampled as the two behemoths tore at each other, the ground under them turning quickly into a reddish mud, blood flowing from huge wounds caused by teeth, claws, horns and beak. Focusing entirely on killing their rival, the two beasts fought with utter ferocity, ignoring the commands of the druchii beastmasters or of the skinks in the howdah on the stegadon's back. The fight carried on but the longer it dragged, the more it turned against the stegadon. Every wound inflicted to it and every drop of blood shed weakened it while the hydra's regenerative capacities healed its wounds, if only partly, almost as quick as they were inflicted, slowing its weakening. Realizing it would not prevail, the stegadon's ferocity abated and it turned to flee but the hydra did not leave it the time to do so, leaping at him like a mountain lion leaping on a goat, and sinking the teeth of two of its heads into its neck while the other heads and its claws held it. The dinosaur struggled trying to repel the hydra but the Naggarothi monster's grip was like iron. The two heads holding its neck moved in unison and broke the stegadon's neck with a noisy snap. The dead Lustrian beast fell on its flank, crushing its platform and its occupants beneath its bulk as it fell. The hydra's five heads rose towards the sky and roared in triumph then lowered themselves towards the dead monster's less armoured belly and, like wolves, began to feed.

Even as the two monsters had advanced each one towards the other, the saurus had broken into a charge towards the dreadspears. At the front rank of the druchii had stood Durithir, his sword in his hand, his gaze fixed upon the encroaching wall of scales, teeth and claws. When Karaskia had warned that the Lizardmen were coming again, Durithir had reacted immediately, seeing that it was his only chance to redeem himself. After having being ordered to prepare his regiment, he had rushed at the camp where it had waited and given his orders, to which the spearmen had complied reluctantly.
“Why should we fight? It is not sure we will not get paid if we succeed.” One soldier had even dared to ask.
“You should have thought about that before fleeing yesterday. And anyway, if the Lizardmen kill you, you will certainly receive no payment. This time, if any one of you turns his back and flees, I will kill him myself” he had replied.”
“Oh look, the cub is baring its fangs” had said another dreadspear with a sneer, causing laughter among all the druchii present.
The laughter had been cut short when Durithir had drawn his sword and beheaded the soldier.
“Even cubs can bite” he had said in a cold voice.
Following this, the dreadspears had followed every of his orders without any complaint, finally accepting him as their commander. Whether it was out of respect or fear he did not know but had had no time to dwell on this. Once the battle had started, the dreadspears had placed themselves as bait to the saurus’ charge and waited. The darkshards had fired several volleys of bolts at the saurus, slaying dozens of them. Just as they had been on the point of reaching the dreadspears, Durithir had felt a prickle on his skin, the sign that magic was being used nearby. Immediately, the saurus had growled in pain, their unit losing its cohesion. Unable to strike, to use their shields to defend themselves or even to control their moves, they had kept on charging, impaling themselves on the wall of spears of the dreadspears, some spears glancing on iron hard scales, others biting deeply into flesh. Durithir had attacked also, seizing the opportunity to kill as many saurus as possible. He had been shocked to see his first blow glance harmlessly from the saurus’ scales but had discovered then that although the scales covering their belly offered as much protection as leather armor, they were less protective than the scales covering their back, arms and head, allowing him to slay a handful of them. The pain preventing them from fighting efficiently, the saurus had fallen in dozens to the spears of the hateful dreadspears, their first rank being obliterated, without being able to retaliate.

As Durithir killed his eighth saurus with a strike to the throat, Karaskia shouted an order and the darkshards put their repeater crossbows back into their holsters, drew their swords and shields and charged the flank of the saurus. Suddenly, the latest stopped growling in pain and fell in again before fighting back ferociously, many druchii pierced by heavy spears or hammered at by shields. Durithir realized with horror that the spell fuelling the pain which had incapacitated the saurus had subsidized, enabling them to fight normally, their innate ferocity, discipline, brute strength and resilience making them more than a match for the elves. He had little time to ponder this as a saurus rushed at him with his shield. The druchii stopped the blow with his own shield and then barely avoided a blow from the saurus’ spear. Thrusting forwards, his sword tip found the narrow gap between the Lizardman’s scales. Seizing his opportunity, the elf thrust forwards with all his hatred and buried his weapon into its opponent’s torso, piercing a lung. Even as the saurus fell to the ground dying, another one advanced and slammed his shield into Durithir who stumbled backwards. The druchii managed to roll to one side, avoiding being skewered on the ground. Swinging his sword, he nearly cut the saurus’ foot. Roaring in pain, the Lizardman stumbled. Even as he rose on his feet, Durithir finished his fallen foe with a strike to the neck. He heard a scream on his left and turned his head to see that Karaskia had joined the melee, striking at a saurus with a dagger seething with dark magic, her face alight with insane murderous ecstasy.
“What in the name of Khaine is she doing there?” thought Durithir even as he parried an attack and counterattacked with elven speed, plunging his sword into his opponent’s open maw.
Risking another glance towards the sorceress, he saw that she had received a light wound from a spear strike. As he watched, he saw her expression turn to one of complete incomprehension and surprise. Even as a saurus leapt towards her, jaws open wide, she cast a spell, turning herself to stone, the saurus’ jaws glancing of her.
“Now you will think twice before fighting in a melee without the proper training and gear” thought Durithir, even as he avoided attacks and counterattacked.

The fight continued between the saurus and the druchii in a bloody melee pitting scaly resilience and brute strength against martial skills and agility. Even though they were engaged both on the front and flank of their regiment, the saurus kept on fighting ferociously, several dozen druchii falling to their spears, shields and jaws. As they were pushed back from Karaskia, she freed herself from her spell and cast again her word of pain. Once more the saurus were incapacitated and it enabled the druchii to easily finish them. After dispatching the remaining saurus, the dreadspears found themselves facing directly the flank of the regiment of skinks who had retreated earlier and were now firing javelins at the corsairs. The dreadspears did not hesitate a second in engaging them also. Cutting through the flank of the Lizardmen like the prow of a ship cutting through the waves, the druchii were merciless and unstoppable. They only stopped their bloody charge when the last skink fell to the ground, panting not from exhaustion but excitement and thrill at their victory.

As the druchii were carrying the Lizardmen's corpses towards their ships, their iron hard scales a very useful material for kheitans, Arithair stood in the nearby jungle, the skink priest tied to a tree in front of him. A cruel smile appeared on his lips as he remembered how some of Karaskia's darkshards bodyguards had inspected the piles of skinks' corpses and had found the false priest, still covered by the illusion spell. Karaskia had obviously been displeased at hearing that the priest was already dead which had greatly pleased him. She had nonetheless congratulated him for the performance of his unit and had said that she would finally not denounce him for this time. Anger seethed in him. Once again, the sorceress had survived his attempt at killing her. He had used his manipulative powers to induce in her a compelling bloodlust. Sadly, when he had approached the location of this melee, he had seen that Karaskia had survived again, which meant that the tablets were now out of his reach. However, his anger was eased by his consolation prize.
“You got the tablets, sorceress, but I got the skink wizard and I will put him to good use" he had thought.
He then stabbed the skink directly into the heart and cast the spell enabling him to imprison the escaping soul into his magic ring.

As the ships were sailing back towards Naggaroth, Karaskia was torn between triumph and worry. She felt triumphant as she was bringing back to Karond Kar a fortune in gold and several magic tablets of considerable power. Moreover, by sparing the life of Arithair as a reward for the performances of his regiment during this second battle, she would appear as a leader that would reward deeds and punish incompetence. But she also felt doubt when she thought about what had happened to her during the battle. When reflecting on the bloodlust she had suddenly felt during the battle, she realized that it had not been natural. She was naturally too disciplined, discipline being required for controlling a magic as powerful and dangerous as dark magic, to let herself be driven by killing urges like some vulgar khainite. Someone had clearly manipulated her, inducing in her the need for killing that had driven her to charge in a melee against such dangerous opponents. The idea of a hidden enemy trying to kill her was extremely disturbing. For now she had thwarted his attempt but she knew he would probably come back sooner or later. She considered reporting this event to Uriaeth but chose not to. It was unlikely but not impossible that Uriaeth was behind it. Setting a trap for her would indeed not be a surprise if he feared that she would become influent enough to be able to raise armies on her own, in which case she would no longer have any need for him. Finally, after much reflection, she decided that once back in Karond Kar, she would instruct Tharnithil to investigate.

“Have you understood your mistake, young elf?” asked Uriaeth.
He was standing in his audience room, holding Durithir by the throat, the little spikes of his armoured glove biting into his retainer’s flesh. The retainer did not struggle despite the excruciating pain inflicted on him and when he answered; his voice was hoarse from the pain.
“Yeeeeees, my lord. Punish me as you will, I live… and die at…your command.”
“Yes you do”. You had a regiment under your command and you failed to command it appropriately during the first battle. However, you performed extremely well during the second battle. You did not only lead expertly your regiment throughout the battle, you also killed your fair share of saurus which given their might is a feat in itself. You have redeemed yourself throughout these deeds. Consequently, I will spare your life…this time. You may go” he added, releasing his retainer, “your training carries on tomorrow”.


Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:44 am
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Corsair
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Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:00 pm
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So nice to read batreps made with a roleplaying spirit!
Thanks.

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Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:52 pm
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Miscast into the Warp
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So I have now caught up with the thread. Nice job and some good story telling.
Thanks for taking the time to share.

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Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:31 pm
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Trainee Warrior

Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:20 pm
Posts: 42
Hello everyone.

Here is the ninth story of "Adventures of the Dark Ones". I hope you will enjoy it.

Regards.

Slaughter on the Forbidden Coast

Barely one month after the expedition to Lustria, Karaskia had a new vision during a scrying session. In her vision she saw a fleet composed of ships from several different human nations sailing north of Ulthuan. Finding strange to see such a mismatch collection of ships belonging to different nations, she focused more clearly on what she saw. At once, she found the explanation to this uncanny situation. The sailors on all ships were undead, still clad in the clothes they wore while they were alive, lethal wounds visible on some bodies. As a shadow passed over the ships, she raised her gaze and nearly lost her concentration at the sight. A huge undead bat the size of a dragon was circling over the fleet. Upon the bat’s back rode a tall figure, similar to a ghoul but much more muscular and more human in appearance. A glance at this creature’s bat-like ears was enough to betray what it was: a vampire. Judging from the location of the fleet, she could guess that it was sailing not towards Lustria but towards Naggaroth. Worried by this vision, she immediately requested an audience with Uriaeth to warn him. Once she had finished reporting, he wasted no time and called for Alentrith, his chief lieutenant.
“Gather troops and enlist the service of as many corsairs as you can find. We must deal with this threat while we are the only ones to know of it. Prepare my ships; we must destroy these undead away from the city” he told his retainer once the latter had arrived.
“Why fight them outside the city? This undead fleet is surely no match for the city’s fortifications or fleet. Why surrender the advantages we possess?” asked Karaskia, surprised by his reaction.
“You can see places far away or gaze into the future or past… but you cannot see some present things right under your nose. The vampires or their minions have never attacked us before” replied Uriaeth after a humorless laugh. “You led a raid on a vampire’s lair and ransacked his tower. Now, barely five years after, an undead fleet led by another vampire is sailing towards Naggaroth. It is clear this vampire is coming in the hope of retrieving what we stole from that tower. Like you, I doubt this undead army could overcome our fortifications or our fleets. But, should this vampire and his minions be destroyed by someone else than me, my opponents at the court would use this against me, claiming that I flee from my responsibilities, luring enemies to our realm but letting others deal with them”.

So it was that Uriaeth’s forces left Karond Kar and sailed towards a hidden cove at the Forbidden Coast, the eastern coast of Naggaroth, the place where the undead army would most likely set anchor. The undead fleet arrived one week later, setting anchor and camp two days of sailing from the druchii fleet. After sending shades to inspect the opposite army’s location, Uriaeth devised a plan. Alentrith, his chief lieutenant, would lead the dreadspears, darkshards, the hydra and half the corsairs through the Dark Forests to attack the camp of the undead. At the same time, he and Karaskia would lead the ships towards the opposite fleet, using the bolt throwers to sink the enemy vessels and to kill the gigantic bat which would be defenseless while the vampire and his minions were defending their camp against the army on the shore before leading the corsairs on the ships in an attack of the undead army’s rear, ensuring their complete destruction. It would take six days for the army to reach the undead camp, so the ships would leave after four days of waiting.

After five days of marching, the army set camp in a large clearing, just a dozen miles from the undead camp. Alentrith called the regiments’ lieutenants so as to discuss the attack. Together they devised a plan of attack; under cover from the darkshards’ volleys, the dreadspears would advance on the camp, luring the undead into an attack. Once the fight would start, the corsairs would engage the undead on their left flank while the beastmasters would goad their hydra into attacking the undead’s right flank.
“The shades have reported that our fleet will reach the undead camp tomorrow at dusk. We are to launch our attack at the same time so go tell your soldiers to rest and prepare themselves as tomorrow; we must march for the entire day while still keeping the strength to fight in the evening” he said to the three officers.
The three lieutenants nodded then left, each one of them heading towards were his soldiers were camping.

As Alentrith was dreaming a sweet dream in which he was impaling a hundred humans on spears, musicians suddenly sounded the alarm, waking him up. As he emerged from his tent, he saw the camp in a frantic activity, the druchii running around to form their regiments.
“What is going on?” he asked as he saw the darkshard captain.
“The undead have left their camp on the coast and are heading our way. According to the shades, they will be there in one hour, maybe two” replied the captain while hurrying to join his regiment.
These were terrible news thought Alentrith. Here away from the undead camp, his army would have to defeat the undead alone as their kinsmen on the ships would not be able to help them. He then realized that this situation was in fact a priceless opportunity. Indeed, he now had the opportunity to earn a name for himself at the court of Karond Kar. He considered leading the battle from the dreadspear regiment but then decided otherwise. He knew the dreadspear were the unit most likely to sustain casualties during the battle as they would bear the brunt of the fighting. Quickly thinking, he decided to join the darkshard regiment. If anyone made comment about the fact he would not fight at the front, he would say that he was far more useful at the rear, with a broad view of the battlefield.
As the druchii were waiting for their opponents to arrive, the hydra suddenly raised its five heads towards the sky and roared. Every elf followed the beast’s gaze and shuddered nervously as an immense shape moved through the clouds.
“The giant bat” thought Alentrith as he considered this problem. “How are we supposed to defeat that monster without the bolt throwers?”
As the skeletal bat circled overhead, howls tore the air as a mass of several hundred creatures he identified as ghouls from the descriptions given by Karaskia appeared. With them walked a strange muscled creature with pointy ears and long claws, the vampire. There were also two spectral women gliding among the ghouls. As the army was drawing nearer, the vampire spoke in druchii language with a voice full of anger.
“Fear the wrath of one of the Strigoi and despair” he said.
“Come face your own death, undead vermin. We are the druchii and we fear no one!” replied Alentrith with disdain.
The vampire turned towards him and pointed his claws at him. A screech was heard above and all turned their gaze to see the gigantic bat fold its wing and plummet down towards the darkshards, the vampire casting a spell that increased its speed even more. The darkshards wasted no time and fired several volleys towards the monster. Some bolts rebounded on bones, others bit into flesh but the wounds caused were healed when the vampire cast another spell. The druchii had no spellcaster with them and so were powerless to stop the vampire’s magic. Alentrith put back his repeater crossbow in its holster and drew his sword and shield, ready for the monster’s attack. With a beat of its wings, the bat stopped in the air above the crossbowmen and opened its maws, letting out a piercing shriek that sounded like the amplified scream of a thousand lost souls, deafening and incessant. Alentrith dropped his sword and shield to cover his ears, only to feel blood flowing from them. He had barely time to register this that blood began to stream also from his nose and his mouth as his blood vessels and brain were collapsing, ravaged by the continuous soul-shattering shriek. The last thing he saw before he died drowning on his own blood was the sight of several other druchii dying to the monster’s sonic attack.

Even as the terrorgheist landed, crushing several elves beneath its bulk, the banshee Milena glided towards the elven spearmen, obeying the vampire’s orders to destroy this regiment with her shriek. As the distance between her and her target was reduced to barely two dozen steps she screamed. Either she was too far away for her scream to be lethal, either these creatures had an iron will for they were unaffected by it. At the front of their unit, an elf armed not with a spear but with a sword pointed his weapon at her and charged, followed by his soldiers. The elves quickly reached her. Their leader struck forward, his sword passing through her ethereal body without touching her. She reached forward with her hand, intending to touch the elf’s heart and freeze his soul with her mere contact. But instead of being frozen by her touch, the elf’s soul had the effect of molten metal on her. She recoiled with a shriek, burnt by the hatred and evil that radiated like a fire from the elf. The elf carried on with his momentum and passed through her. She felt him being momentarily frozen by her contact but the contact had been too short and his soul so much burning from his hatred that it protected him from her touch. She heard him shout orders to his soldiers who began to continue their march towards the terrorgheist as though she was not there, judging that there was no point in fighting her as they could not harm her. As elf after elf passed through her, each protected from her icy touch by the strength of his hatred, she felt herself being consumed by it like a shard of ice in the middle of a dark fire. She had considered herself a monster for all the murders and evil things she had committed but as the contact with the souls of these elves destroyed her, she realized that comparing what she had done to the horrors each of these beings had committed in his life and would keep on doing before dying was like comparing the pranks of a malicious child to the cold-blooded murders of a sadistic and cruel adult. As she vanished like mist, finally being pulled into the void, she realized how fitting was the name used to refer to these creatures: the druchii, the Dark Ones.

Still reeling a bit from the icy touch of the banshee, Durithir pointed his sword at the monstrous bat laying waste to the darkshards with its jaws, the elves’ moves being strangely slower and clumsier than usual.
“Attack! Give that undead thing a taste of true death!” he shouted, even though he felt uncertain about whether such thing was possible.
As the regiment broke into a charge towards the giant bat, a look on his left enabled Durithir to see the hydra bathing the ghoul horde with fire. At least a hundred beasts were killed by the flames. But instead of feeling sadistic pleasure at the sight, the druchii was disturbed by what he saw. The ghouls catching fire did not scream in pain or even react to the fire; they kept on marching until the fire actually killed them.
“How do we fight or kill creatures that cannot even feel pain?” thought the elf.
As his gaze fell again on the giant bat, he pushed the disturbing sight from his mind. He and his regiment would have to destroy the monster before dealing with the ghouls, otherwise it would destroy the entire army piece by piece. The dreadspears reached the bat and struck like a single elf. Most of their spear thrusts glanced from its bones or hide but some bit into its rotten flesh. The beast let go of its current victim and turned towards the dreadspears, its jaws lunging forwards, but its moves were slow and clumsy compared to those of the elves who were able to easily avoid its jaws, only one solider being killed. Durithir realized that the beast’s lethal shriek was meant more to incapacitate its preys than to kill them as this creature lacked the agility and dexterity to fight fully-able opponents while grounded. The darkshards who had survived the monster’s lethal shriek took advantage of its distraction and struck at its exposed flank. The bat turned towards them and attacked. The darkshards, crippled as they were and with a shorter striking range than the dreadspears, could not all retreat in time. A swipe from the bat claws caught a dozen elves while its jaws found another one. But as it did so, the dreadspears struck again. Aiming for the beast’s neck, Durithir thrust with all his hatred and managed to bury his sword into a gap between bones, biting into flesh. When he withdrew his sword, he felt, through his magical sense, dark magic seeping from the wound. Even as he avoided the beast’s sword-like teeth, he realized that dark magic also seeped from each of the wounds that had been inflicted on the monster’s flesh. Using his brain, the druchii realized that each wound disrupted the magical “body” made by the dark magic animating the monster.
“That thing is powered by magic the same way living beings are kept alive by blood. Bleed it of its sustaining magic and it will die”, he shouted.
This stimulated the other druchii who attacked with more vigor, knowing now that they could prevail. The dreadspears kept on striking the beast before avoiding its clumsy and predictable attacks for most of them, while the crossbowmen were not so lucky in this, several more falling to claws and fangs. Gradually, the energy sustaining the undead horror withered, escaping from the numerous wounds inflicted on its animated carcass until it was finally undone. With a final shriek, that was now too weak to be dangerous, the gigantic bat finally collapsed, crushing a handful of elves, and died.

Durithir panted, part of his mind refusing to accept that they had managed to slay such a monstrous opponent on their own. Taking advantage of this brief respite, he analyzed the situation. His regiment was still mostly intact and following his orders was positioning itself so as to engage the ghoul horde. A look at the darkshards was enough to let him know that he could expect no help from them. Almost half of them had been killed by the bat’s shriek or by its claws and fangs and the remaining soldiers were obviously not in a condition to fight, the monster’s sonic attack having obviously crippled them. A look at their ears from which flowed thin rivers of blood showed that their brains had been damaged by the shriek. As his gaze swept across the battlefield, Durithir saw that the hydra was in a position to engage the ghoul’s right flank while the corsairs were in a position to engage their left flank. The fact that they could still carry out Alentrith’s plan brought a smile to his lips. He pointed his sword at the hydra’s beastmasters then pointed it at the ghouls, the handlers raising their weapons in agreement, before repeating the gesture towards the corsair regiment, their captain also nodding.
“These animals are coming for us, hungry for our flesh. Let us show them we are not preys, we are predators!” shouted the druchii, drawing cheers from his soldiers.
With this declaration, the regiment broke into a charge towards the ghouls imitated by the hydra and the corsairs.

A complete lack of mercy from both sides turned the fight into a pitiless melee. The hydra rampaged through the ghouls, its claws and jaws tearing and rendering dozens of them. Corsairs fell to their knees, blood streaming from their noses, eyes, ears and mouths as the second banshee let out her shriek, or were hacked apart by the vampire. The ghouls hurled themselves at the dreadspears and corsairs with bestial ferocity. Many were skewered by the spears or serrated blades of the merciless elves but they attacked relentlessly, several druchii falling to their filth-encrusted claws and teeth. A spell from the vampire filled the beast with unnatural speed and vigor and they struck forwards, the dreadspears forced to suddenly fight defensively which temporally filled them with fear but exhorted by Durithir, they kept on fighting. The fight dragged on but eventually, the disciplined ferocity of the druchii combined with the destructive might of their hydra proved too much for the ghouls. A third of them fled, the vampire focusing too much on fighting to keep them enthralled to his will, while the rest were slaughtered to the last beast.

Slashing a corsair’s chest with his claws, the vampire Vilerex cursed himself. Even as his claws took their tool among the elves, he remembered how he had ended up in this situation. Back in Sylvania, he had fought for decades against the vampire Kelrad Von Carstein after the latest had bested him and taken a ring that increased control on ghouls. The feud between the two vampires had lasted for many years, neither managing to significantly gain the advantage. When he had sensed that the ghouls living in the area near his rival’s tower were free of control, he had seized their minds then marched upon the Von Carstein’s tower, only to find it ransacked of all its contents, including his ring. He had found the remains of a necromancer in service to Kelrad and called back his soul to know what had happened and had discovered how elves had come to the tower, defeated Kelrad’s army and killed him before stealing all they could. By interrogating him even more, he had discovered that these elves were not the elves living on the insular continent of Ulthuan but other elves who lived in a kingdom called Naggaroth, the Land of Chill, in the north of the New World. With the intent to retrieve his ring and to create a new undead kingdom for himself in the Land of Chill, a place where he would not face the competition of other vampires, he had gathered several hundred ghouls, bound two banshees to his will and even resurrected a mighty terrorgheist. He had then travelled with his army to the western coast of Estalia and then used the monster to attack passing ships, the sailors no match for the undead bat’s shriek and the screams of the banshees which killed them while leaving their bodies relatively intact, ripe for resurrection as undead. He had kept on doing this, slaughtering all creatures that had come to investigate the strange gathering of ships until he had gathered enough ships. He had then sailed towards the Land of Chill and set anchor at its eastern coast. A few days after his arrival, he had received the visit of a familiar spirit who had warned him that an elven army was marching towards his position from the north while a fleet, commanded by a highborn and the sorceress who had lead the raid to Sylvania and stolen the artifacts in the tower, was sailing towards his own fleet. Armed with this information, he had decided to leave the undead on the ship behind to distract the elven fleet while he and his army would confront the elven army on land. He had hoped to destroy it and raise the fallen elves as undead before attacking the elven fleet and destroying it. When the battle had started, he had sent both the terrorgheist and one banshee to punish the elven general for his insolence, and destroy the crossbowmen and spearmen but nothing had carried out as planned. The elven spearmen had miraculously destroyed the banshee despite its invulnerability to mundane weapons then sent the terrorgheist back to the grave. The entire elven army had then fallen on his ghoul horde and had proven to be more than a match for them. Even as he recalled these past events, he fought like the cornered beast he was, his claws spelling the doom of the elven corsairs attacking him. Even though many of them fell to his attacks, they were not wholly outmatched, some of their swords managing to bite into his flesh. As he thrust forwards with his right arm, he suddenly felt himself being skewered by several spears. Turning his head, he saw the remaining ghouls, whose minds had been freed from his control due to the focus he had had to give to the melee, fleeing, pursued by the hydra, while the spearmen were closing on him. As for the second banshee, she was inexplicably banished by the presence of the elves. As more spears bit into his flesh, the elves collectively pinned him to the ground. He struggled ferociously but the elves managed to hold him while corsairs still rained blows where they could. These creatures were like nothing he had ever faced before. They combined the discipline of imperial soldiers with the utter ferocity of orcs or beastmen. He then felt two swords connect with his neck, almost beheading him. The elf who had struck him withdrew his blades then struck again then again. The vampire just had time to hear one of the elves shout something before the swords hit his neck again and severed his head from the rest of his body, killing him.

The “No!” of Durithir still ringing in his ears, Arithair watched as the vampire’s corpse disintegrated into dust. He then turned towards the dreadspears’ captain and sneered.
“Sorry to have ruined your chance at slaying another general, Durithir” he said with a smile of contempt.
“I had no intention of slaying him” replied the retainer. “It would have been far more profitable to keep him alive. Uriaeth would have probably wanted to interrogate him. Moreover, I am curious about how he knew we were coming towards his army.”
“Keep your intellectual speeches for the court, youngster” replied the corsair captain, causing laughter from the nearby corsairs. “It does not matter why he acted the way he acted. All that matters is that now he died at my hand.”
Instead of being cowered by these words, Durithir burst out laughing.
“You killed the vampire but you did not defeat him” he replied. “It is one thing to single-handedly slay a powerful foe, another thing to slay a wounded, grounded prey. If we are to discuss who should get credit for killing this vampire, then each soldier who has wounded him should be rewarded”.
This was a masterstroke realized Arithair. The dreadspears and corsairs, who mere seconds before had been ready to attack one another to defend their respective leader had now all turned towards Durithir and hung on his words, their faces now beaming with pride and greed. Those who had effectively wounded the vampire raised their blood-slicked weapons showing to all their achievement.
“I will of course transmit your names to Uriaeth when he arrives” said the young retainer.
For a moment, Arithair considered using his powers to make the present druchii forget who had killed the vampire so that he could get full credit for the killing but then decided it was not worth it. His initial plan had backfired on him. He had summoned a familiar spirit to warn the vampire of the druchii plan. He had thought the vampire would attack the elven fleet, slaying both Karaskia and Uriaeth in the process. Instead, he had chosen to attack the army on land. Despite this little change in his plan, Arithair had still fulfilled his goal of personally slaying the vampire enabling him to make sure he would not reveal how someone had informed him about the army coming towards him. He had also taken opportunity of the confusion to quietly capture the vampire’s soul and imprison it into his ring. What happened now mattered in fact little to him.
“You are right” he said, “This was a collective achievement, so the reward should be split”.

When Uriaeth arrived at the battlefield with the remaining corsairs after having easily sunk the undead fleet, he found Durithir waiting for him. As he approached his retainer, his gaze swept around and he saw the piles of ghoul corpses and the impressive sight of the undead bat’s gigantic corpse. Quietly impressed, he turned to his retainer.
“Where is Alentrith?” he asked.
“That monstrous bat killed him” Durithir replied casually.
“And who killed that monster?”
“Me and my dreadspears killed it” replied the youngster.
“What about the vampire?” asked the highborn.
“Arithair dealt the killing blow but only after several other warriors had wounded and incapacitated that bloodsucker. I can provide you the names of those who actually wounded it. Forgive me for that my lord but if I had not said that each soldier to have wounded that vampire would be rewarded, there would have fighting between my dreadspears and Arithair’s corsairs. That was the only solution I found to prevent bloodshed”.
It took Uriaeth a lot of efforts not to open his mouth in surprise. He then smiled. Durithir had a clever brain and knew how to use it. Despite his youth, the druchii being barely one hundred and sixty four years old, and his inexperience of politics, his new retainer was capable of finding appropriate solutions to emergency situations. Truly he had potential. As long as he would remain loyal, he would be useful.
“It was indeed the best solution” he replied.
Seeing that several dozen druchii were strangely motionless, the highborn asked what had happened to them.
“That monster’s shriek has crippled them. I do not think there is any possible recovery for them”
“There might be a way to save them. I will ask Karaskia to use her powers to heal them.”
He then turned towards the corsairs.
“Hunt down the ghouls who have fled and bring them back alive. We need their hearts pumping for now. We will use their life force to heal our wounded”.he said. “As for you, Durithir, take a few warriors with you and behead that undead bat. Its head will be our trophy. Burn the rest of its body”.
Durithir bowed then left to carry out his orders. Uriaeth smiled coldly. He had maybe lost his chief lieutenant but his troops had still won the battle which meant that this victory was his which would be of use at the court. Moreover, Durithir had proven both with his performances during the battle and with the way he had dealt with Arithair that he had not been a lousy investment. Maybe he would be a suitable candidate for the role of chief retainer thought the highborn.


Fri Dec 25, 2015 6:12 pm
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Enjoyable reading as the previous ones.
Loved how you describe the banshee being burned by Druchii fighting spirit! :)
Thanks

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Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:33 am
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Settling a disagreement

Silence hung in the gigantic hall where the nobility of Karond Kar stood. The only voices which could be heard were the voices of the Drachau, ruler of the city in the name of the Witch King, and of the nobles he was addressing, each one indicating what he had brought to the city in wealth or slaves during the past year. Each highborn stood alone circled by retainers, lost in his thoughts, preparing his speech. After he had finished executing his current victim, a noble whose only action of the year had been to lose a naval battle against a fleet of Ulthuan, he called with a voice full of authority for Uriaeth to come.

“I am here at your request dread lord” replied Uriaeth once he was facing the Drachau.
“Name your achievements of this year” ordered the Drachau.
“Soldiers under my command brought a fortune in gold, along with magic stone tablets, from a city of the Lizardmen and fended off the incursion of a vampire”.
At this moment, a laugh was heard in the room. All turned toward the source of the noise and saw that it came from an important highborn of the city. Uriaeth smiled slightly, seeing that it was Altheriath, his greatest rival at the court. Both had been trying to undermine each other’s position for many years but while Altheriath had control of a sizeable part of the city, Uriaeth was a veteran of the dreaded Black Guard and as such enjoyed the favour of the Witch King himself which made other highborns and nobles reluctant to act against him. “Hear the words of a liar!” said Altheriath.
This made almost every other druchii present, including the Drachau, gasp, taken aback. For the druchii, deception and treachery was as natural, and often as necessary, as breathing, but to openly accuse a highborn, especially one as powerful as Uriaeth, of lying, was unthinkable. Sensing that Altheriath was seeking to provoke him, Uriaeth forced himself to remain calm.
“Me? A liar? Have you not seen the gold my warriors have brought from Lustria? Have you not seen the trophy now adorning the top of my tower?” he said, referring to the skull of the gigantic undead bat slain by Durithir and his dreadspears during the battle against the vampire.
“As you have pointed out, your warriors brought back this gold. You just remained in your tower while other druchii spilled their blood in Lustria” replied his rival.
“My absence in these petty expeditions forces my lieutenants to count on no one but themselves to ensure control of their troops. This makes sure they are competent enough to be of use” replied Uriaeth with a sneer. “Moreover, may I remind you that I personally sunk that undead fleet which dared to set anchor at our coast? At least, I got out of the city once during the year while you only oversaw the sale of slaves”.
“Pfff, you call a battle against zombie sailors a battle? It was your troops which fought and defeated the vampire and his army. In fact, if anyone can claim credit for this victory, it is that youngster of Durithir. From what survivors of this battle said, he took control of the army following the death of your chief lieutenant and led it expertly” replied Altheriath.

It took Durithir all his discipline not to gasp. He remained still as a statue and kept his gaze on the wall opposite him, pretending not to have heard what Altheriath had just said. His mind drifted back to this battle on the Forbidden Coast. He thought about how he had directed both the hydra’s handlers and Arithair’s corsairs to engage the ghoul horde on its flanks and realised it had been indeed taking control of the army and leading it. He sensed Uriaeth’s gaze on him and forced himself to remain still. Uriaeth had neither praised nor criticized him for his actions but this could change quickly thought the retainer with growing fear.
“He led the army expertly. It is true” Uriaeth eventually said. “However, without me, half of the surviving warriors would be now useless. I personally led the hunt of ghouls and bargained to have them healed by magic. Can you say the same? Who says you would have not enslaved these warriors and sold them like humans instead of giving them a chance to fight again for their kingdom?”
“Stop trying to highlight your pitiful actions” Altheriath replied with a sneer “When is the last time you fought a true battle? I am sure you have forgotten how to wield a weapon?”
“Would you care to put that assumption to the test?” Uriaeth replied coldly.
Once again the court remained silent and Fielthiemth knew why. Uriaeth has skilfully used his rival’s accusations as a pretext to challenge him to a duel. Altheriath had now no choice than to accept it as a refusal would make him appear as weak.
“Yes!” the highborn quickly replied.
“It is settled then” said the Drachau. “The duel will take place tomorrow at dusk. The winner will gain control of the loser’s possessions, slaves and retainers.”

On the following day, as the afternoon began to turn into evening, Uriaeth followed by a group of his retainers, went to the arena built for duels between nobles. Almost all the nobility crowded the tiers, anxious to see the duel between two of the most powerful highborns in the city. While the retainers of each highborn took their place in the tiers, Uriaeth and Altheriath entered the arena. The Drachau, sitting on an elaborate throne, gave orders to his retainers, who descended into the arena carrying two wooden chests and placing one at the feet of each duellist. Uriaeth opened the chest at his feet and took the ritual weapons it contained, a Ghlaïth and a Lakelui. Glancing around, he saw that several of the Drachau’s retainers had armed themselves with repeater crossbows and placed themselves on the tiers; ready to open fire should one of the duellists try to flee the duel. The duellists picked up the weapons and waited for the Drachau’s signal.
“Your death will be slow and painful Uriaeth, I swear it” said Altheriath with a voice full of contempt.
“Yours will be spectacular” replied Uriaeth.
The Drachau then blew a horn, signalling the beginning of the duel.

As Altheriath threw himself at Uriaeth, Durithir watched from the tiers, his eyes fixed on his lord. Uriaeth stood his ground, parrying Altheriath’s every attack with ease. Durithir then felt a slight punch on his shoulder and wheeled around, drawing his sword. The druchii behind him jumped backwards laughing.
“Is this your way of greeting your friends, young lad?” he asked with a smile on his lips.
“You are no friend of mine Arithair!” Durithir replied with a cold voice.
“Am I not? We have both displeased that biatch of Karaskia in Lustria and we have both survived the battle on the Forbidden Coast, unlike that buffoon of Alentrith”
“It was quite easy for you to survive these battles, you did not face anything “really dangerous”” replied Durithir with a hiss.
“Careful young lad, I have probably killed more beings than you. You would not want to cross me” said Arithair with a growl.
“I may have killed fewer beings than you in my whole life but I have certainly killed more opponents than you during the two last battles. I remember that in Lustria, you stayed as far away as you could from the saurus. Was it fear that made you act that way? The only creatures you killed during this battle were frail skinks that even a ten-year old could kill. And then on the Forbidden coast, you only appeared to finish the vampire once he was neutralized. Were you afraid he would bite? Or that his oversized flying pet would accidentally step on you?”
This drew laughter from the surrounding druchii.
“Are you calling me a coward youngster?” asked Arithair his hands setting on the hilts of his swords.
“Oh, did I offend you?” asked Durithir, “I thought you wanted to reminisce about the events of this year. Is it not the reason you came to see me?”
Almost every druchii within earshot was now quietly laughing at the exchange. Arithair, whose smile had vanished from his face, turned to leave to another place of the tiers, far away from all those who would now mock him.
“We will see if you are in such a good mood after our lord is done with this duel” he whispered.

“When you said that my death would be slow and painful, did you mean that you were intending to make me die of boredom?” asked Uriaeth.
Parrying Altheriath’s attacks was quite easy. His opponent was a keen fighter no doubt but Uriaeth had been fighting battles to the death since he was able to stand. His training as a Black Guard and the life it implied had given plenty of opportunities to hone his skills. He could hear some shouts, telling him to fight instead of staying on the defensive.
“Fight like a true druchii, you coward” said Altheriath with a hiss.
“I could return you this suggestion. Since this duel began, you have been fighting like an orc, everything in the arms but nothing in the head.”
This enraged Altheriath even further. Just as he was patiently waiting for his opponent to tire himself through reckless attacks, Uriaeth felt the sudden urge to spill blood and close his fists around Altheriath’s beating heart and hear him scream in pain. Why bother to defend himself when he could kill the pathetic excuse for an opponent facing him with as much ease as he would kill a defenceless slave? This joke had gone for too long he thought. It was time to end this rivalry in a tide of hot blood. After parrying the following attack, he counterattacked ferociously. Altheriath was momentarily startled and it was all Uriaeth required. His Ghlaïth sliced through the air and hit the other druchii in the chest. His armour stopped the blow but Uriaeth struck with his Lakelui. The weapon managed to bit lightly through the armour, drawing a gasp of pain from Altheriath. He tried to counterattack but before he could swing his weapons, Uriaeth was charging again, his Lakelui slicing through the air in a gracious semicircle in the middle of which stood Altheriath’s head. The latter’s eyes were going blank with terror and Uriaeth laughed at the sight, remembering how he had seen a noble finish his opponent with the same beheading blow during a similar duel. Then Urieath realised what he was doing. His blade was about to touch Altheriath but with a supreme effort of will, he managed to deflect his own blow, the blade hitting his opponent on his helm, not on his neck. Even though Uriaeth had tried to stop his blow, it was strong enough to almost throw Altheriath to the ground. But with a snarl of hatred, the druchii kept his balance and counterattacked, his Lakelui aiming for Uriaeth’s chest. Uriaeth parried the blow but it was a feint. Altheriath’s Ghlaïth sliced through the air and struck Uriaeth on his left thigh, the tip of the blade biting into flesh. Uriaeth gritted his teeth in pain as as Altheriath withdrew his blade whose tip was now red-tinged.
“Now this is what I call a physical consecration” said Altheriath cackling.
Uriaeth bit his lower lip with pain. But as painful as his wound was, it brought him icy focus and he now realised how close he had come to being killed because of this sudden surge of bloodlust. Altheriath attacked again but this time, Uriaeth was in full control of himself. At the last moment, he dodged his opponent’s thrusts by jumping on his right. Carried out by his momentum, Altheriath found himself with his back exposed to Uriaeth. He tried to turn but Uriaeth was quicker. The Ghlaïth sliced through the air and carved a deep wound on his right thigh, blood sprouting. Screaming with pain, Altheriath swung his weapons but Uriaeth blocked with his Lakelui and attacked again, his Ghlaïth carving another wound, at the waist this time. Uriaeth leapt backwards, away from his opponent’s Ghlaïth. Altheriath then desperately swung his Lakelui at Uriaeth’s head but Uriaeth dropped to his knees, the weapon passing harmlessly over him. His Ghlaïth struck again and severed Altheriath’s left foot. The druchii collapsed on his side and Uriaeth had the leisure of putting his boot on his fallen opponent’s back.
“Now this is what I call a physical consecration” he said before skewering his opponent like a boar with his Lakelui, the weapon bursting from Altheriath’s chest, a pool of blood quickly forming on the ground around him as he twitched in agony.
Uriaeth then heard Durithir shout his name at the top of his voice, the shout being quickly taken by his other retainers.

“Lucky bastard!” thought Arithair with cold fury.
He had been so close to succeed. He had orchestrated this duel just to have the opportunity to assassinate Uriaeth. He had begun by subtly bewitching Altheriath as the highborn was overseeing the sale of the slaves his ships had brought. He had fuelled his hatred and jealousy for Uriaeth until a duel became inevitable. And once the duel had begun, he had used his powers to induce into Uriaeth a compelling bloodlust, like he had done for Karaskia in Lustria. In a state of uncontrollable battle fury, Uriaeth should have been an easy prey for his opponent or should have forgotten about respecting the duelling rules. He had almost done that by trying to behead Altheriath with his Lakelui. To kill one’s opponent without incapacitating him first with a Ghlaïth often led to an immediate execution at the hand of an angry crowd. Uriaeth would have then been immediately lynched, veteran of the Black Guard or not. With him dead, Karaskia would have found herself deprived of her patron and hence almost harmless as she would no longer enjoy his military and political assistance leaving Arithair free to seize control of Uriaeth’s household. Crippled that way, she would have had more pressing issues than dealing with a corsair who had mocked and defied her in Lustria, which meant his secrets would also have been safe from her eventual attention. But Uriaeth had realised what he was doing before committing the irreparable and had prevented himself from beheading Altheriath. As he looked across the arena, he saw Durithir saluting his master and the sight only fuelled Arithair’s rage as he remembered how the youngster had humiliated him earlier.
“Smile while you can, you idiot” he thought.

The music was lovely thought Karaskia as she stood upon the top of the square tower of the convent, the entire city resounding with the wail of the dead slaves whose souls had been bound to their remains. She then heard a small cough behind her.
“Good evening Tharnithil” she said as she turned.
“My lady” replied the assassin bowing, “I have spied on the youngster”
“And? Is Durithir the sorcerer who tried to kill me in Lustria?” asked Karaskia.
“I have followed him like his very shadow during this battle on the Forbidden Coast. He never once used sorcery even when the situation was dire. During this entire battle, my focus was on him, if he had cast a spell, I would have felt it. There was no way he could have seen me. So it can be assumed that he is innocent. He is just a young warrior, surprisingly clever for his age if I may add, but no more.”
This only irritated Karaskia,
“So Uriaeth has probably hired some sorcerer to assassinate me” she replied.
“I doubt Uriaeth is behind this” replied the assassin.
“And what makes you say so, my dear Tharnithil?” asked Karaskia coldly.
“Because that same sorcerer tried to kill him today” replied Tharnithil.
“Tell me everything” ordered the sorceress.
“While I was standing behind Durithir in the tiers, watching him, I felt sorcery being used and I sensed a spell affecting Uriaeth. In barely a heartbeat, he went from defending himself, probably to save his energies while Altheriath was tiring himself, to attacking ferociously without any care. He almost beheaded his opponent but realised what he was doing and managed to stop his own blow. I think it is safe to assume that these two murder attempts are the work of one sorcerer. It would be a monstrous coincidence if two sorcerers were trying to kill the two of you at the same time and I do not believe in coincidences” said the assassin.
Karaskia pondered about this for a long time before replying.
“If he had killed his opponent without incapacitating him first, he would have been torn to pieces by the crowd” she said. “I hate to admit it but that sorcerer is quite clever. Are you sure no one else sensed him casting his spell?”
“It was a subtle spell designed to affect the mind and the crowd’s attention was on the duel and nothing else. The only reason I detected that spell was because I was expecting Durithir or any of Uriaeth’s retainers to cast this kind of spell.” said the assassin.
“And did you see who cast it?” asked Karaskia.
The assassin shrugged.
“I could not” he said. “The spell could not be seen, only felt through one’s magical sense and it lasted barely a heartbeat. It was like a bolt fired from a tree line at night. You can hear the bolt and perhaps glimpse it as it is flying but it is impossible to see the shooter. There were dozens of spectators on this section of the tiers; I have no way to determine who it is.”
“Then I will have to use my powers to gaze into this duel and try to see who cast that spell. You may leave. I will contact you again when I know more” said Karaskia.


Wed Dec 30, 2015 8:13 pm
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Interesting story, much telling about Druchii society.
Compliments for your lore mastery, mostly apreciated! :)

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Winds never stop blowing, Oceans are borderless. Get a ship and a crew, so the World will be ours! Today the World, tomorrow Nagg! {--|oBrotherhood of the Coast!o|--}


Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:18 pm
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A deadly distraction

The night was cold thought Mathen as he was leaving the tavern, drunk. His wife would probably be angry at him for coming back drunk in the middle of the night. But then she was always angry so one more time would make no difference.
“Are you unwell?” asked a voice from a nearby alley.
There was something strange about that voice but Mathen could not determine what it was.
“I am drunk you idiot! What else can it be?” he replied angrily.
“Well, I have a cure for hangover” replied the voice.
Mathen laughed before replying.
“Don’t play that game with me crook, there is no cure for hang…”
The rest was lost as he saw a flash of silver. At once he felt his cheek hitting the ground and wondered how quickly he had fallen, and then he saw his own body tumble to the ground before him. This was his last vision.

“Inspect the area” shouted Arthur.
He and his halberdiers had been sent in the area to investigate a spate of murders that had plagued the city during the five previous nights, with several murders committed in different quarters. Each morning had heralded the discovery of several bodies, dead from blades. On each corpse there had been a note from a sect which called itself the Dark Stalkers. Each of the notes asked for a better distribution of the city’s treasury and for the removal of the governor from his office, and warned that the Dark Stalkers would kill at will, not caring how many martyrs they would have to kill before their demands were met. They spent the following hours asking questions and inspecting buildings but they found nothing. When they gathered to return to the citadel, they noticed that one of them was missing. They called for him and searched but could not find him. They then noticed some crows flying around one of the roofs. When Arthur climbed on the roof to see what attracted them. He had the horror of finding the stabbed corpse of his missing halberdier. The fact that one of them had been abducted and killed under their very nose terrified the humans. In the military district, he discovered that a member of each group sent in each quarter had been executed the same way. The following night, while he was undressing, he was suddenly taken by a painful pain in the stomach which only grew stronger until he died after several hours of twitching.

“Whom do you think the Dark Stalkers are?” asked Nicos, a watchman of the warehouses containing the reserves of black powder for the canons and firearms, as he was patrolling the warehouse with a comrade.
“Some fearless nuts. You have to be insane to poison the wells and food stores in the military district. Do they want the militia to come after them?”
“More than three hundred men died from this poison before it was discovered in the wells and the food stores, and twice as many men are now too sick to even stand. I cannot think of a more visible way to show their message about not caring how many victims they have to make. Do you think the governor will abdicate?”
When his partner did not reply, Nicos turned and had the surprise of finding him missing. He went back on his steps and found him around a corner lying on the floor. As he bent to touch him, he felt something cold caressing his throat before feeling his blood spurting from it in an unstopping flow.

“Double the number of sentries. Do not stop until you have found these assassins” ordered Janoth Varieger, ruler of the city of Bertinburg.
During the past two weeks, mysterious killers calling themselves the Dark Stalkers had struck randomly around his city, killing dozens of citizens every night before poisoning several wells and food stores and finally destroying the warehouses containing black powder by setting their explosive content afire. They had left notes everywhere they had committed atrocities calling for the removal of the city governor and for a redistribution of wealth, claiming that the death of a few martyrs was the price to pay for the greater good.
“Any replies from the riders we sent to Salzenmud, asking for black powders and witch hunters to hunt these killers?” he added.
“None has returned yet” replied his chamberlain.
“When they return, send them to me at once”.
As he undressed himself to go to bed that night, he suddenly felt something scratch his cheek and he lost consciousness at once. He woke up later and found himself lying naked and tied on his bed. Suddenly, a hooded and masked head bent over him.
“You are awake, good” said the creature.
Janoth tried to shout for help but his voice was abnormally weak.
“Insurrectionist bastard, you are here to kill me. Well, you won’t be able to escape us any longer. If I die, the entire militia will scour the city to root you and your companions out like the rats you are”, he gritted instead.
It only made the assassin laugh quietly. He then pulled back his hood and took off his mask revealing an inhuman pale angular face. Janoth gasped as he saw pointy ears, brass-coloured eyes and a strange rune branded on the being’s forehead.
“I see the distraction worked perfectly” said the elf.
Janoth could not understand.
“The insurrectionists hired an elf to kill me?” he asked.
“There are no insurrectionists, you idiot” replied the elf with a sneer, “I single-handedly committed every one of the murders and sabotages which plagued this city. For someone of my skills, committing several murders in several places in a single night is easy to the point it is almost boring. The notes I left were intended to mislead you into hunting the wrong quarry, although your entire militia could have looked for me without a ghost of a chance of finding me.”
“You cannot kill us all, elven field. You will be found and you will pay!” spit Janoth.
“Kill you all? exclaimed the elf before laughing. “Have you not listened? I am merely here to distract you and keep your eyes “inward” while my kin is coming. I have something to show you, human” said the elf, raising a ring. “I believe this ring belongs to your son. If you are found dead with your son’s ring in your hand what do you think your court will think. Your canons are neutralised. More than a quarter of your garrison is dead or sick thanks to my poisons. Now, tomorrow, your court will find you dead and think your son is the killer. During the next days, the other nobles will fight to gain control of the city, leaving it undefended like rams fighting in a barn for the control of a flock of sheep while the wolves are closing in. Now it is time for you to die. If it can bring you solace, know that I have to kill you quickly as it must look as though you son killed you.”
With that, the elf drew a dagger and slashed Janoth’s throat, darkness quickly engulfing him.

“There it is” said one of the shades.
Itharin rose and asked his companion to gather the others. They had arrived a month earlier, on the same ship as Tharnithil. Uriaeth had hired them along with the Khainite assassin. His mission was to wreak havoc through the city and weaken its defences. As for the shades’ mission, it had been to lay in ambush in the forests surrounding the city and kill anyone trying to leave it, ensuring it would remain isolated, ripe for the druchii’s attack. Now, a small green light was visible on the battlement, Tharnithil’s signal. Following Itharin, the shades crossed the field before the walls, their dark clothes rendering them all but invisible in the darkness. Using grappling irons and ropes, they quietly climbed the battlement. At the top, they found the assassin, several corpses around him.
“How are things going?” asked Itharin.
“All goes as planned” the assassin replied, “Their governor is dead, his son is accused of the murder and every other noble is vying for the position. Whatever troops they have are currently leaderless and will not represent a threat tomorrow morning. Now while they squabble between themselves like pigeons, we will have no problem silencing their remaining canons and sentries before closing the city gates. That way, no one will escape us”.
The rest of the rest of the night occurred without any incident. The few sentries on the wall were easily executed. The shades then sabotaged the gates’ mechanisms to make sure they would remain closed.
When all was over, Tharnithil stood at the section of the battlement giving directly on the harbour. As the sun gradually rose, he saw the violent storm on the sea and smiled as he saw lights glowing in the dark.
“Let the party start!” he thought with a cruel smile.


Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:44 pm
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Nicely written.

One thing not to my taste, though, I am not found of villains who tell the story before killing their victim.
It seems to me unprofessional, as it increases the odds of being interrupted and failing the mission. Actually, that is what happens in most action movies, and that very storytelling by the villain is what saves the hero due to a scenaristic interruption.
On the other hand, giving some depth to people you describe is a good way to take the reader by surprise at the same time as the victim is slain.

So, overall... <interruption by a cold metallic feeling on the throat> :killed:

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Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:56 am
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Hello Calisson,

Thank you for your feedback.

To explain Tharnithil's behaviour.

From an in-story perspective, the druchii's two main characteristics are their arrogance and sadism. So to me, it would make sense to have the assassin make his expository speech to his paralyzed victim to mess with her especially since he has silenced her and is in complete control of the situation so he feels he can afford to make this speech.

From an out-story perspective, I know that this kind of speech usually results in the villain being defeated just in time but here I find it more dynamic than having Tharnithil just thinking about the entire plan in his head while waiting for something.

Regards

Durithir.


Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:49 pm
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An orgy of destruction

During the winter which followed his duel with Altheriath, Uriaeth occupied himself by securing control of Altheriath’s household. He took Altheriath’s two children as wards and offered to his widow to rule her late husband’s household in his name as she saw fit, ensuring their loyalty as offering them advantages to the alliance would dissuade them to act against him. When he did not do this, he oversaw the training of his children, wards and retainers, and prepared an expedition for the summer. His plan was to personally lead an attack on a coastal city in the Old World. In addition to all the slaves and gold he would win, his opponents would no longer be able to claim that he did not involve himself enough in the battles of his soldiers, at least for a time. He spent long hours in his office watching maps of the Old World and finally marked a city in the Empire as his target. He spent the rest of the winter preparing for the expedition, asking the Witch King for the authorisation to raise an army and receiving it, booking the Black Ark the Stronghold of Darkness to carry his army across the ocean, hiring Tharnithil and Itharin and his shades to weaken the city’s defences prior to his attack. As winter gave way to spring, the Black Ark left Karond Kar carrying an entire army of druchii. The trip was uneventful, no enemy fleet daring the storm that hung around the Black Ark, shielding it from enemy eyes.

As the Black Ark was approaching the coast of the Empire, Karaskia stood on a battlement watching in the distance.
“Greetings Karaskia” she heard Uriaeth say.
“Greetings my lord” she replied as she turned.
“You summoned me. May I know the reason why?” asked the highborn.
She turned towards the coast but looked at a point to the south of the city they were about to attack. “There is…a disturbance in the winds of magic” she said. “The wind of Azyr is exceptionally strong. Something is channelling it, something more powerful than a human wizard should be. I cannot be sure but I have the feeling it is asur magic. Whatever it is, it is moving towards our target.”
“Then, it would be wise to send part of the army to intercept it and discover what it is. You should go. You are the most recommended for dealing with something magical” said Uriaeth.
“Very well, I will go there and find out what it is” said the sorceress.

“The three druchii I hate the most located in the same room. Could it be worse?” thought Arithair bitterly.
He had been summoned to the audience room like every other retainer of Uriaeth. The highborn had instructions to give. When all the lieutenants were gathered, Uriaeth addressed them.
“An unexpected even has occurred” he said. “It seems that there are asur present on the coast”. These words were greeted by snarls of anger, the druchii’s hatred channelled by the mere mention of their wretched cousins.
“Consequently, a fifth of the army will leave the Ark and intercept these asur interlopers. Command of this new army will go to the sorceress Karaskia. Command of the dreadspears will go to Durithir”, the youngster merely nodding, “Command of the darkshards will go to Nymerith”, Uriaeth’s ward also nodding in acknowledgement.
Arithair could see the interest in this; put the son of Altheriath as commander for a regiment and he would soon even forget that Uriaeth had killed his father barely a few months before.,
“Command of the corsairs will go to Arithair” Uriaeth carried on.
“I would proudly carry out this mission, terrible lord!” replied Arithair bowing.
“It is decided then.” said Uriaeth.

“Is it wise to put Durithir and Arithair in the same army?” asked Karaskia.
“Do you have a problem with that, my lady?” replied Uriaeth as the sorceress’ troops and hydra were embarking on the towers fixed on the backs of sea dragons.
“They have been glaring at each other every time they’ve met. From what I have heard, Durithir humiliated Arithair on at least two occasions. Having two commanders antagonist toward each other is risky. Who says they will not refuse to fight together against a mutual enemy?” she asked.
“My dear Karaskia, this is exactly the reason why I put them in the same army. Because they hate each other, each will try to have his regiment outdo his rival’s. Moreover, there is no risk of them allying against you.” replied the highborn as if talking to an ignorant human.
“I have no love for Arithair myself” said Karaskia. “He is too impertinent for my taste and he does not remember his place in presence of his betters”
“This means he does not fear you enough. You have probably been too complacent with him” replied Uriaeth, quietly enjoying the expression of fury on Karaskia’s face as he implied she was not fully capable of commanding.
“Then following this expedition, he will have reason not to cross me. I promise” she replied before leaving, her eyes shining with anger.
Uriaeth smiled, now Karaskia would also try to outdo herself if only to win the fear and respect of her soldiers. Two hours later, her army had embarked upon the towers on the sea dragons’ backs and the beasts swam towards the Black Ark’s sea entrance, slowly disappearing into the night.

Two days later, Uriaeth stood on a battlement and saw that the human city was now visible in the distance. The Black Ark would fall upon it at dawn.
“Let the party start!” he thought with a cruel smile.

“Let the party start!” thought Tharnithil with a cruel smile as he saw the Black Ark emerge from the mist, like a mountain rushing on the city. He heard shouts of horror from the humans as they tried to form a battle line at the harbour. As the Black Ark entered the harbour, crushing every ship standing in its way, hundreds of spear-sized bolts flew from its battlements on the surrounding ships, piercing flesh, sails and wood. Under cover from this endless rain of bolts, druchii ships and sea dragons crossed the water separating the fortress from the docks and vomited legions of corsairs and warriors while their own bolt throwers opened fire on the defenders. The human regiments moved to intercept the elves but the bolts which blackened the sky decimated their ranks and prevented them from advancing. A few regiments of crossbowmen and archers opened fire on the druchii but without their cannons or fire arms, they could not hope to inflict real damage to their opponents. Tharnithil then heard a roar and turned to see a beast with the body of a huge lion, the wings of a bat and the tail of a scorpion plummet from the sky, the unmistakable silhouette of Uriaeth on its back. Dispersed and kept on the defensive, the human regiments were individually swept away by the units of bloodthirsty corsairs and dreadspears and by the highborn and his monstrous mount.

Uriaeth laughed at the terrified faces of the human swordsmen as his manticore crashed into their ranks, its claws, jaws and tail tearing all that came within reach while Uriaeth’s spear impaled several humans with every stroke. As the humans fled around them, the manticore suddenly raised its head towards the castle and roared. Uriaeth heard an eagle-like screech and raised his gaze to see a griffon fly towards the docks, a fully armoured human carrying a spears on its back.
“Finally something a bit challenging” thought the druchii with a smile.
Without waiting for his command, the manticore leapt into the air. As the griffon folded its wings and plummeted towards the manticore, Uriaeth realised the danger. The griffon had the advantage of height and thus of speed. If it hit the manticore with this advantage, it would surely prevail. The manticore, feral as it was, paid no mind to its dangerous situation but kept climbing upwards with strong beats of its wings. Uriaeth knew it would be pointless to try to control his mount and instead waited for the griffon to attack, its claws outstretched while its rider’s spear was pointed at Uriaeth. As the two monsters were about to collide, Uriaeth shot the griffon with his handbow. The bolt hit the monster in the eye, making it recoil and breaking its momentum while the manticore kept climbing. The shock of the mounts’ impact almost threw both riders from their saddles. The human’s spear carved a furrow across the manticore’s flank but it only enraged it. Dropping his spear, which was useless at such a close range, the human pulled his sword raising it just in time to block Uriaeth’s blade. While the two flying monsters were biting and clawing at each other, their riders’ swords ringed as they met again and again. The human was skilled for one of his kind but the druchii was far quicker and more skilled and had the advantage of centuries of experience. Uriaeth aimed at the human’s head. The human raised his shield, accidentally covering his eyes as he did so and this was what Uriaeth had wanted. His sword was a flash of silver as it struck the human at his leg, piercing plate, mail and flesh. The human screamed in pain and brought his own sword crashing down on the druchii but Uriaeth parried with his sword. Before the human could react, Uriaeth struck again, his sword cutting the human’s sword hand. Now that his opponent was disarmed, Uriaeth had the leisure of stabbing him in the stomach. As blood erupted from the wound in his opponent’s belly, Uriaeth struck at the griffon, his sword biting at its head. Distracted, the monster let go of the manticore and paid for it with its life as the Naggarothi monster’s tail bit into its back while its claws eviscerated it. As the griffon fell to the ground, Uriaeth looked down and saw that the docks had been seized, the human soldiers retreating to make their last stand in front of the citadel while citizens tried to flee towards the citadel, pursued and caught by corsairs. Seeing that the battle was all but won, Uriaeth directed his mount towards the human’s last troops and howled his bloodlust as the manticore folded its wing and plummeted towards the humans.
“A very enjoyable day” he thought.


Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:09 pm
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The style is getting more related to roleplaying, at a general's level.
I guess that this is not related to a battle report?

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Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:55 am
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Hello Calisson.

This story is indeed not related to a battle report for two reasons:

-firstly, the next battle report involves a opposite unit whose presence would be illogical in the fluff equivalent of a 1000 point game so to keep this unit's presence logical, I had to expand the situation related to the next battle report.

-secondly, due to the fact that I have only played and won 1000 points games and that a dreadlord is in my opinion almost useless (and in a 1000 points game quite expensive), having "roleplaying stories" is the only way I have found to enable Uriaeth to be able to fight.

Regards.


Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:28 pm
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A crippling blow

While Uriaeth was leading the Black Ark towards the city, Karaskia led her small army towards the coast where the strange magic source was located. The sea dragons shored on a beach a few miles away from the disturbance, allowing the army to disembark. Advancing towards the disturbance, the army reached a village and had the surprise to find an imperial army waiting for them when they were expecting asur. Gazing around, Karaskia saw a regiment of two hundred fully armoured human warriors carrying great swords, a canon and a squadron of a hundred fully armoured knights. Between the footmen and the knights stood a coach pulled by two horses. On its top stood a strange machine that looked like an orrery except that it shone with light and radiated with asur magic. As Karaskia watched this strange artefact, she saw a human do some tuning on the orrery. At once, stormy clouds filled with lighting materialized right in front of the corsairs, luckily not touching them. As she marvelled at the power of this engine, she glimpsed a movement coming from an embrasure of the tower behind the knights and cast a shield of darkness just in time to stop the bullet aimed at her. A fireball also flew from the tower at her darkshards bodyguard but she effortlessly dispelled it. Meanwhile, she saw the canon open fire, the cannonball striking the right corner of the dreadspears regiment, hurling several broken bodies into the air. She heard Durithir shout orders and the regiment broke into a run towards the humans, followed closely by the hydra. Karaskia turned towards the knights and saw that they were advancing, putting themselves in a position that would allow them to charge either the corsairs or the darkshards. Seeking to delay the knight’s attack, she ordered her darkshards to retreat slightly which they did, imitated by the corsairs.

As his dreadspears were running towards the human footmen advancing towards them, Durithir heard a roar and turned his gaze to the left, seeing the hydra overtaking the druchii, rushing at the humans. As the distance between it and the humans was reduced to two dozen paces, the hydra stopped, drew back its heads then extended them towards the humans, fire roaring out from its jaws and engulfing the regiment. Durithir smiled as he saw half of the humans fall burning to the ground, many dead, other horribly burnt screaming in agony. Suddenly, the druchii felt a concentration of magic emanating from the machine and building itself over his regiment before being pushed back by sorcery he identified as Karaskia’s. As the magic was dispelled, the young captain sensed a spell enveloping the humans and gazed horror-struck as three dozen of their wounded rose, their burns receding and healing until it looked as if they had never been hit by the hydra’s fire. Watching beyond the regiment, the druchii saw a second human wizard standing next to the canon. He barely had the time to understand that a fireball flew from the tower and struck the hydra, followed by a hail of bullets. Some broke on the hydra’s scales but other bit. Even as the hydra roared in fury from its burns and wounds, the canon opened fire again, the cannonball ripping three of its heads. Durithir watched in horror, horror which was quickly filled with amazement as three new heads grew to replace the ones lost.
“That monster just got hit by our opponents’ entire firepower and it has survived. We are just lucky that this monster is ours” he thought amazed.
The humans facing them also stood amazed although their amazement turned to horror as the hydra, fully healed and angrier than ever, resumed its charge against them.
“Attack, show these humans that to face the druchii is madness!” shouted Durithir, drawing cheers from his regiment.
The regiment kept running and quickly reached the humans. Their spears struck like scorpions’ tails, some blows glancing from the humans’ plate armours while other bit, gutting and impaling while the hydra’s heads struck like snakes, jaws crushing humans, while its claws rendered and crushed all that escaped its dagger-like teeth. The attacks did not go unanswered, the humans’ great swords swinging, cleaving through shields, armours and scales. The humans fought fiercely, refusing to give ground but both of their opponents were more than a match for them; the elves with their agility enabling them to avoid most of their attacks, the hydra with its sheer strength and regenerative metabolism healing its wounds even as they were inflicted. Moreover, forced to divide themselves between the lethal dreadspears and the rampaging monster, they could not hope to inflict sufficient damage to defeat either. Gradually their numbers dwindled even though their wizard healed another two dozens of their wounded enabling them to continue to fight.

As the knights were advancing towards his corsairs under volleys of bolts from the darkshards, Arithair felt anxious. The humans were so heavily armoured that almost every bolt rebounded harmlessly from their armours, only a handful of bolts finding gaps in the armours of men or horses, felling them. He could easily see the outcome of a melee between a hundred charging fully armoured knights against two hundred lightly armoured elves. Bitterly, he thought that if he could freely use his powers, he could blast these humans effortlessly. But doing this in front of Karaskia would be a death sentence. He considered using his powers to convince the knights to charge the darkshards but this would not solve anything. They would probably shatter the darkshards regiment, along with Karaskia, but then they would come for the corsairs and slaughter them also. And if he used visible magic in the presence of other druchii, they would certainly denounce him to Uriaeth or even to the Witch King. Just as he pondered this, he felt the human’s orrery unleashing its power again. At once, a blizzard engulfed the darkshards, wind howling, and snow blowing. When the blizzard abated, Arithair saw with unexpected relief that almost all of the regiment was unarmed, only a handful of druchii laying dead on the ground.
“We come from the Land of Chill, cold is in our blood, a little blizzard is nothing we are not accustomed to” thought Arithair with pride.
He then heard a gunshot and saw Karaskia conjure a shield of darkness, stopping another bullet aimed at her. Arithair turned his attention back towards the knights and saw with horror that they had broken into a charge towards them. Suddenly, he sensed Karaskia gathering her powers, magic trashing wildly around her as it escaped her control, and turned his gaze towards her and saw her point her staff at the knights, hundreds of silvery spears erupting from its tip. The human wizards tried to counter the spell but it was irresistible. The magic spears flew across the plain at the charging knights who raised their shields. Arithair watched both hoping that the magic backlash would kill the sorceress while her spell would pierce the humans’ armour. He was to be disappointed. Looking at Karaskia, he saw her conjure again a shield of darkness, shielding her from the invisible daemons that descended on her like sharks before being pulled back into the chaos realm. Shouts from both the darkshards and the corsairs caught his attention and he turned back towards the knights, and felt at once torn between horror and sadistic pleasure at the sight. The silvery spears did not pierce the humans and horses’ armours. Where they struck them, they made their armours red hot until they melted on their wearers, cutting short their screams as the molten steel passed unspent through flesh and bones. In barely a few heartbeats, a full regiment of knights and their horses were reduced to a large puddle of red molten metal. Turning around, Arithair saw that the human swordsmen had been exterminated, the hydra now rushing at the canon and sorcerer on the hill while the dreadspears were running towards the orrery and its coach.

“Seize control of the horses and lead them towards our lines” shouted Durithir.
As the druchii reached the coach, he saw a blizzard cast by Karaskia engulf the tower where stood the handgunners and the fire wizard, preventing them from shooting at the dreadspears and enabling them to seize the coach unopposed. As the druchii pulled the horses towards their battle line, Durithir entered the coach. A human acolyte tried to bar his way but he beheaded him without even stopping. Climbing the coach’s inner stairs he reached the top. A second human tried to stop him but the druchii ducked his blow and knocked him with his shield, rendering him unconscious. He then turned towards the orrery and advanced. As he did so, visions invaded his mind, images that were not memories. They followed one another with each step he took. As he reached the machine, sheathed his sword and opened the orrery’s sphere, a final vision washed over him, one in which he was thrusting at a wolf with a sword while hearing the unmistakable sound of an arrow being released.
“Did I just see my death?” he wondered as no vision followed this one.
Putting such thought aside he saw a strange black orb radiating with magic levitating within the orrery’s sphere and extended his arm, taking it. At once, the orrery stopped working. Looking around, the druchii saw that the battle had been won.

Enjoying a glass of wine in her tent, Karaskia waited for Durithir and Arithair to arrive. Once the human army had been annihilated save for the wizard and the handgunners still hiding in their tower, the druchii had circled the village, staying out of range of the tower and fallen on the human army camp, where the village’s inhabitants had waited for the outcome of the battle, like a storm and had captured all the humans they could find. This was good thought the sorceress as a few hundred slaves captured was never a bad thing. As she smiled, she suddenly sensed the source of asur magic approaching the tent. She rose as she saw Durithir entering the tent, dragging a human in blue robes behind him. “Greetings my lady” he said bowing.
“Greetings my young ally. Have you found the source of asur magic?”
The youngster pulled out a small orb from the pouch at his belt and gave it to her. It was small and black as night save for the small lights akin to stars that shone within it.
“I have never seen anything like this. It was not made by a human but by an asur. How can humans have such a thing in their possession?”
“Well, we can ask my captive. That is the reason I spared him.”
“I see your reputation of being clever is not an exaggeration” Karaskia said with a smile.
The youngster smiled and woke up his captive before addressing him.
“This lady has questions for you, human” he said “If your answers are satisfactory, we may let you live”.
“What is this thing?” asked Karaskia, showing the orb.
“It is one of the orbs of sorcery given to the colleges of magic by the archmage Teclis” replied the human through bloodied lips.
“Teclis!” exclaimed Karaskia and Durithir at the same time.
The sorceress felt surges of hatred and fear course through her body. Every druchii knew about the asur archmage who had bested the Witch King himself in a magic duel at the battle of the Finuval plain before singlehandedly annihilating thousands of the druchii and chaos warriors fighting on the plain even as they were overwhelming the asur. The druchii’s invasion had been broken with this single defeat and they had been forced to retreat, abandoning Ulthuan when they had been closer than ever to seize it and exterminate their wretched cousins. Teclis’ name was now cursed by every druchii in the Land of the Chill.
“Some say each of these orbs contain a fraction of Teclis’ power” the human carried on.
Judging from the energy that radiated from the orb, Karaskia could easily believe that.
“These orbs, the ones tuned with the wind of Azyr, are what power our celestial hurricanums, the most powerful machines of the College of Azyr.”
“And why is this machine here?” asked Durithir.
“These machines’ main use is to gaze into the future to identify possible threats” replied the human.
Karaskia noticed that these words seemed to disturb Durithir but she pushed aside the matter.
“In Altdorf, while working on the hurricanum”, said the human, “I had a vision of a meteor crashing on the city of Bertinburg. The patriarch ordered me to take a hurricanum there to use it to divert the meteor’s course. While we were approaching this village, I had a vision of the village’s population being enslaved by black warriors. So we decided to mount a defence here.”
“The rest is history” said Karaskia before turning to Durithir and adding “Put him in the hurricanum’s coach, he has to stay alive to show how to make this thing work.”
As Durithir was moving to leave, Arithair entered.
“You summoned me dread lady?” he asked.
“Yes, I have noticed that you and your regiment killed nothing during the battle. What is it the reason this time? Another surge of gold fever?” she asked, drawing laughter from Durithir.
The corsair captain cast the youngster a dark look before replying.
“Dread lady, may I remind you that you single-handedly annihilated the only opponents facing us with your sorcery?” he asked.
“Opponents you did not rush to face, I recall” said the sorceress.
“You also ordered your darkshards to retreat but that is not the point. We are corsairs, not executioners or Black Guards. Trying to stop charging knights would have been suicidal. I was appointed to command this regiment, no to throw away the lives of its members when there are other ways to kill our opponents as you proved.”
Karaskia privately agreed with the corsair’s logic but would not show it.
“Well” she said, “I may have a way for you and your corsairs to make up for you “involuntary” lack of involvement in the bloodshed today. The human handgunners are still hiding in their tower along with their wizard. I want you and your corsairs to take that tower and bring us these human rats. Bring me the wizard alive, the souls of magic practitioners always have their uses. You have until dawn. At dawn, we leave for the Stronghold of Darkness”.
“Very well, I will take this tower and capture whoever hides in it” replied Arithair before leaving.
“Do you mean for him to succeed? Or are you trying to get him killed?” asked Durithir once the corsair was out of earshot.
“Why do you care young druchii?” replied Karaskia with a smile. “It is not as though the two of you are fond of each other. Besides, if I wanted him dead, I could have waited for the knights to kill him along with his corsairs before obliterating them. But Uriaeth abhors wasting the lives of soldiers under his command. Strange for a Black Guard to have a soft spot in his heart, do you not think?”
“Well he once told me that the less warriors die in a battle, the more there is for subsequent battles” replied the youngster. “So what do we do while the corsairs are taking this tower?”
“We celebrate our victory with human blood and human pain. This should at least keep the humans’ eyes on us. If he is not as stupid as a nauglir, Arithair should be able to take advantage of this distraction” replied Karaskia with a cruel smile.

The night was filled with the screams of the humans tortured by the druchii. Durithir had had the idea to force the captured wizard to heal the wounds of the tortured humans so that the druchii could torture them again and again without killing them. At least, the noise kept the handgunners’ attention on the druchii camp, not on the two hundred corsairs slowly approaching the tower, moving from shadow to shadow like ghosts. Arithair knew he could send some of his corsairs to pick the tower’s lock but this could be dangerous. If they were spotted, the human wizard would use his fire balls to light up the area, exposing the corsairs to the humans’ firearms. But why try to open a door when it sufficed to convince someone inside to open it he thought with a smile. As he hid in behind a fence near the tower, Arithair discreetly extended his hand and cast a spell on the sentry on the top of the tower.
“You need to urinate” the druchii mentally ordered his target, “And you want to do it against the base of the tower, away from your comrades watching you, not directly from the top of the tower or in the latrines. The druchii are too busy to pay attention to you. It will only take a minute and then you will go back to the tower and lock the door behind you. No harm will come out of it”.
A few heartbeats later, he heard the door at the base of the tower open and saw the human emerge and go to urinate against the tower’s wall. Swifts as an hawk, Arithair silently ran towards the human, pulling out his swords. The human was too much focused on what he was doing to hear him coming. Bringing his two blades together, he beheaded the human, his blood spurting out from his neck. Leaving the dead human, the corsair gestured for his soldiers to come. When they had gathered around him, he gave instructions.
“Take them alive when you can” he said. “Kill any who resist too much.”
Turning to the five closest to him, he ordered them to come with him to deal with the wizard.

Janth woke up to the sound of screams and immediately realized that the druchii had broken through the door. He ran to the final floor before the top of the tower and waited. Let the druchii come he thought, he would show them the power of a bright wizard. He heard the scuffle of feet and whispers. The trapdoor giving on the floor he was opened and elves climbed into it. They were six, wearing articulate purple breastplates and scale cloaks, one of them wearing an ornamented helmet, probably a captain he thought. Seeing him, the druchii drew nets and hooks and advanced towards him, their faces twisted by cruel smiles. He gathered his energies to cast a spell when the druchii captain, who had remained behind, extended his arms. Black lightning leapt from his hands, striking his comrades in the back, armours exploding, flesh burning, and blood bursting. Momentarily confused by what happened, Janth heard the captain laugh and pointed his staff at him, a ball of fire erupting from its tip and striking the captain. The fire engulfed the druchii but when it abated, Janth saw the druchii surrounded by a sphere of darkness. Before he could react, the druchii extended again his arms, his dark shield turning into a black bolt surging forward like a cannonball. Janth had barely the time to cast another fireball at the sphere, the two spells colliding with a loud detonation. The impact’s blast wave threw the human wizard backwards and he landed heavily on his back. Before he could rise, the druchii crossed the room with an inhuman speed and laid his armoured foot on Janth’s chest. Looking up, the wizard saw the elf’s face and shuddered at the cruel pleasure twisting his features and at the sight of his eyes glittering with a dark fire.
“I could use a fiery soul for my magic ring! As the sorceress said, the souls of magic practitioners always have their uses.” he said smiling then pulled out some kind of weapon which looked part gun, part crossbow and shot Janth in the forehead.

“You killed him!?” said Karaskia with a barely controlled fury, “Is it so hard for you to follow the simplest order?”
“Dread lady. I intended to carry out your order. I ordered the wizard to yield but he refused and killed five of my soldiers with his magic. Had I not leapt out of the way, I would have been killed too. I barely had the time to shoot him with my hand repeater crossbow before he cast another spell. There is no telling how many of us he could have killed before we stopped him” replied Arithair, remembering how he had used his own sorcery to incinerate the corpses of his corsairs so as to make it look as though they had indeed been killed by the human wizard, lending to his story.
“I know you wanted to harvest that wizard’s soul but you already have a captive wizard so you do have a soul to harvest” he added before the sorceress could speak. Moreover, I have brought something which should please you.”
He turned and snapped his fingers. At once, two corsairs advanced holding a human.
“What is this?” asked Karaskia.
“The sergeant of this handgunner regiment, the one who shot twice at you with this”, said Airthair, raising the human’s more elaborate weapon.
At once, Karaskia’s anger abated and she advanced to stand before the captive human.
“So you are the one who tried to kill me with bullets? Why? I thought you Empire scum had honour. This is not very honourable to shoot at a woman, is it not?” she asked him with a cold voice full of irony.
When the human said nothing, she extended her arm towards him.
“I asked you a question. Now answer!” she said before casting a spell.
At once, the human screamed in pain and would have fallen to the ground had the corsairs not held him with an iron grip.
“No, it is not honourable. Mercy please! I am sorry!” said the human between shouts. Apparently pleased, Karaskia stopped channelling her spell and cupped his chin in her hand, forcing him to look in her eyes.
“Well I accept your apologies but I deny you mercy!” she said with a soft voice.
She then spoke a word and dark fire shot up from her fingertips, engulfing the human’s head. The corsairs releasing him, he fell to the ground, his hands flying to his head but there was nothing he could do and he died in a matter of heartbeats. Karaskia then cast another spell, seizing the human’s soul before storing it into a small purple crystal. A few heartbeats later, a wail began to issue from the crystal.
“You will not even know the peace of death, vermin” said the sorceress with a smile. “Your soul is now mine for eternity!”
“I knew you would be pleased with this gift sorceress. Enjoy it while you can. Your luck will not last forever and when it ends, death will find you, I will make sure of it” thought Arithair.

“A machine powered by an orb created by that scum of Teclis?!” said Uriaeth after Durithir had reported the battle.
The two druchii were standing in one of the Black Ark’s courtyard, watching Karaskia trying to work the human machine, the orb powering it having been put back in place. As she was doing some adjustments on the orrery, a surge of magic suddenly erupted from the machine and leapt towards the sky. Several minutes after, Uriaeth could discern a small point of red in the sky. Durithir also saw it and was aghast.
“Blessed Murderer!” he exclaimed. “We must get the Black Ark away from the coast”.
After the highborn had given his orders, the Stronghold of Darkness, now filled with several thousand human captives, and its fleet sailed away from the coast. Above, the red point only grew bigger and bigger until it resolved itself in the shape of a meteor. All druchii raced to the Black Ark’s battlements to see the meteor race through the sky…and crash on the city they had just attacked. When the smoke cleared, a gigantic crater, in which water was rushing, stood in place of the city, its walls and buildings having been crushed like shrubs by an avalanche.
“Marvellous” said Uriaeth, “This machine is worth more than all the slaves we have captured. And even if we cannot make it work properly, the orb of Teclis is a fine prize in itself”.
“Yes my lord” said Durithir, “We have also dealt the Empire a crippling blow.”
“What make you think they cannot build a new machine?” asked Uriaeth.
“They could probably but they would need another of these orbs to make it work” replied the youngster with an evil smile. “And I doubt that Teclis will be willing to give them a new one after hearing that they lost one to the druchii.”
“Yes” said Karaskia “Moreover, it will also spread discord between the asur and the Empire as we have just made these humans look very foolish”
There was something else pleasing her which made the dreadlord curious.
“What is so funny?” asked Uriaeth.
“That human saw this meteor fall on the city and rushed here with his hurricanum to try to prevent this from happening…but in doing so, he actually cause his vision to become true. And the most funny is that if he had paid more attention to his vision, he would have perhaps seen that the meteor would fall on an empty city. Instead, he rushed here and turned our profitable harvest into a true triumph”.


Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:32 pm
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Corsair
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Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:00 pm
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Excellent writing, compliments!
Good plot development, in particular.
Let's see what happens next.

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Winds never stop blowing, Oceans are borderless. Get a ship and a crew, so the World will be ours! Today the World, tomorrow Nagg! {--|oBrotherhood of the Coast!o|--}


Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:15 am
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Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:20 pm
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A meeting with power

Once back in Karond Kar following the raid and the capture of the imperial hurricanum, Uriaeth immediately arranged a trip to Naggarond as he knew that the Witch King would be interested by their discovery or angry if he was not informed of it. As Uriaeth’s private ship was taking them over the Sea of Malice, Uriaeth summoned Durithir to his cabin.
“I summoned you to put you on your guard” he said as the retainer entered. “As you were instrumental in the capture of the human machine and of the orb of sorcery, it is possible that the Witch King will summon you to hear you give a recount of this battle.”
Durithir gulped. As every druchii in the Land of Chill, he knew of the Witch King but the prospect of meeting him in the flesh was greatly disturbing. he had right of life and death over every druchii and was known for his unpredictable nature.
“I see you understand the danger, my young retainer” said Uriaeth before adding, “This being is much more dangerous than anything you have faced be it the saurus or even that undead bat you helped killing. One wrong look, one wrong word and you will face a fate worse than death. For him, you are nothing. Do you understand?”
“I understand my lord. If I must speak with him, how do I address him?” asked Durithir.
“Do not speak unless invited to do so and do not say more than necessary. Kneel when you have entered the room and do not rise unless he gives you permission to do so. Keep your eyes on the ground. When he asks you a question, say the exact truth. Follow my advice and you may survive.” Durithir noticed with a rising terror that Uriaeth’s face was displaying an emotion he had never seen in him before; fear.

A week later, they arrived in Naggarond. This was the first time Durithir travelled to another city and the experience was impressive. His amazement began while they were approaching the city when he saw the black stone walls rising several hundred feet from the ground with many towers twice as high rising from the wall, banners of skin flying from their tips. Heads and limbs were impaled on spikes across the battlements.
“The heads and limbs of those who have displeased the Witch King” whispered Karaskia in Durithir’s ear.
Entering this impenetrable wall through a gigantic gate with steel hinged sections, they found themselves into the city.

As Uriaeth and his retainers led the hurricanum towards the tower of the Witch King, Durithir, standing atop the hurricanum, watched the city around with an ever growing amazement. Above him, a pall of smoke resulting from sacrifices hid the sky, speaking loudly about the countless sacrifices to the Lord of Murder carried out in the city. Higher and higher the city rose until they neared its centre where stood the tower of the Witch King, a fortress within the fortress studded with sinuous walkways and turrets. With both his eyes and his magical sense, Durithir could see and sense a halo a dark magic dancing around the highest spire. The party stopped in a courtyard before the fortress’ entrance. Taking the orb of Teclis, Uriaeth told his retainers to follow him inside. When Durithir moved to join them, he said
“No. You must stay there and keep a watch on the machine.”

As he walked through the fortress, Uriaeth mentally prepared what he would say. Even though he was a veteran of the Black Guard and enjoyed the Witch King’s favour, it did not mean he was untouchable, especially since recent events. Reaching the entrance to the Witch King’s audience room, he found Kouran, the captain of the Black Guard, waiting for him.
“The return of the prodigal Guard” said Kouran “What brings you back to Naggarond after all these years?”
“I have to speak to the Witch King. I have discovered that the asur are sharing their magic with the humans.”
“Have the asur fallen so low that they now share the power of the elves with animals unfit to wield it? How did you find it out?” asked Kouran.
“One of my retainers, Durithir, seized the machine the humans were using to channel their asur magic. He also had the idea to keep one of its users alive so that he could show us how to make it work.”
At this moment, another Black Guard arrived and whispered something to Kouran. The latter nodded and said that Witch King was expecting them. Both druchii went to the throne room and kneeled at its centre in front of the throne upon which sat Malekith the Witch King.
“What brings you back to my court Uriaeth?” asked Malekith with his sepulchral voice.
With a voice that betrayed nothing of his fear, Uriaeth told the Witch King how Karaskia had sensed the asur magic channelled by the human machine, how they had thought this magic belonged to an asur mage and how they had sent troops to intercept it. He detailed how Durithir had captured the machine, discovered that its source of power was an orb, and spared the life of a human attendant of the machine to discover what it was.
“When my retainer and the sorceress interrogated the human, they discovered that this orb had been given to them by Teclis himself” finished Uriaeth.
At the mention of Teclis, Malekith’s eyes burned brighter until they seemed like two small black flames while other flames leapt from his body of metal, the heat that always surrounded him growing in strength, his fury fuelled by the name of the asur who had bested him on the Finuval Plain. As quick as it had come, his fury disappeared. This was almost as frightening as the fury thought Uriaeth with dread. Before he had been defeated by Teclis on the Finuval Plain, Malekith had always been prone to bursts of anger, like a furious manticore always on the point of attacking. No one knew what had happened between his defeat and disappearance from the battlefield and surprise return but Malekith’s anger and lunatic reactions had disappeared following this event to be replaced by a calculating perfidy. Suddenly, Malekith turned his infernal gaze on Uriaeth.
“You may leave, Kouran. I have some unfinished business to settle with Uriaeth”.
As the Black Guard left, Malekith resumed talking.
“And what do you expect to win by presenting me this orb and this machine? Do you expect to win forgiveness for the cowardice you displayed when I was gone from this world?”
At this moment, Uriaeth felt terror for the first time in his life. He knew perfectly what the Witch King referred to. His mind drifted back to the latest invasion on Ulthuan. Uriaeth had been fighting in Eataine, when words to withdraw and return to Naggaroth had been issued. Uriaeth has obeyed, learning later that only the most loyal dreadlords had received this order. As he had been sailing back towards Karond Kar, he had heard how the Witch King had been apparently killed during a major battle. This had led to several dreadlords of Naggarond trying to usurp the throne. Having been wounded during his last battle, Uriaeth had been unable to journey to Naggarond to assist Kouran in the culling of the city. A century after, the Witch King had reappeared weakened near the watchtowers. He had not been killed by Teclis as the druchii had thought but had been forced to teleport himself into the Chaos realm to avoid death. When he had learned his king was still alive, Uriaeth had feared he would summon him to Naggarond to punish him for not having assisted Kouran in his actions. The Witch King had not done this. He had kept authorising Uriaeth to raise armies when he needed, had not withdrawn the support he had always been showing towards him. This had not reassured Uriaeth who had pondered if Malekith had forgiven him or if he was just waiting for him to come of his own accord like a spider patiently waiting for the fly to come in its web. Struggling to stay calm, Uriaeth replied.
“A wound I had received fighting against our traitorous kin prevented me to go to Naggarond and assist Kouran in rooting out the would-be usurpers. Had I gone, I would have been almost useless with a blade” he said.
“And is this still the case?” asked the Witch King.
“No my lord, I have fully recovered and I am entirely able and ready to take the fight to those you wish dead.”
“And take the fight to my enemies you shall” replied the Witch King. “You have missed the opportunities to fight those who would have usurped my throne in Naggaroth so you will fight those who deny me my throne in Ulthuan. You will take part in my plan to weaken the asur in preparation of our next invasion. I have heard that you have sailed with the Stronghold of Darkness many times. Therefore, I appoint you its lord and give full control of it. You will use this Black Ark to strike the asur and sow discord between them and their allies. Know that my gaze is upon you, Uriaeth. If you disappoint me again, your soul will be forfeit.”
Uriaeth could see the reward and punishment in this. Controlling a Black Ark was a huge asset but ruling over one was dangerous as a Black Ark commander had to watch his back even more than a highborn in a city. Moreover, it required him to abandon his tower in Karond Kar which would weaken him at court as he would no longer be seen as a complete lord of Karond Kar. And finally, should he fail once more in the eyes of Malekith, there would be no forgiving. He saw the trap he was stuck into, similar to the one he had woven around Durithir but he knew there was no way to escape it.

As Durithir was standing guard on the hurricanum, he noticed a Black Guard coming towards him. Keeping his gaze on the ground as Uriaeth had advised him, he waited. The other druchii came to face him and spoke. “Greetings youngster” he said. “I am Kouran, captain of the Black Guard. I am looking for one of Uriaeth’s retainers, the one called Durithir.”
For a few heartbeats, Durithir was tempted to lie and claim that Durithir was someone else before remembering that no matter how dangerous the truth was, lying to the captain of the Black Guard would be even more dangerous.
“I am Durithir” he said after a deep breath.
Kouran was momentarily startled as if he had not expected such an answer then laughed before replying.
“Given what Uriaeth said about you, I had expected someone… a little older” he said.
“Let us say I am a fast learner” replied Durithir.
“And what do you learn as a retainer?” asked Kouran, “What does Uriaeth expect you to learn? Did he adopt you to have a male heir in case his son does not survive life as a Black Guard?”
The last question shook Durithir to his core so absurd it seemed to him.
“I am just a retainer. I am not privy to my master’s thoughts and even if I were, it would not be my place to disclose them.”
At this moment, Karaskia stood up with an expression of worry.
“Uriaeth is coming back and he is not coming alone” she said.
Kouran turned and Durithir saw Uriaeth arriving followed by another druchii. Durithir looked at him and gasped. This druchii was clad in an all-encompassing suit of glowing black armour which smouldered as if the armour had just been forged. The air shimmered around him. The druchii’s head was enclosed in a black helm adorned with a circlet of horns. As he advanced towards the machine, this druchii briefly turned his gaze towards Durithir and for one heartbeat, the youngster felt like a mouse facing a dragon. Save for the druchii’s eyes who looked like pits of black flames, his entire face was obscured. All these elements enabled Durithir to realise who stood before him: Malekith, the Witch King of Naggaroth! Like every druchii, Durithir had been told how Malekith had been burned alive in the flame of Asuryan after the asur had tampered with it but to see him in the flesh, or in the armour, was different.
“Is this the machine?” asked Malekith with a voice that was as unnatural as his appearance.
“It is, my king” replied Uriaeth.
“Make it work!”
Uriaeth bowed and gave instructions to Karaskia who put into practice what the captured human acolyte had taught her. Following her handlings, a hurricane, blizzard, and storm of lightning bolts successively appeared thirty feet away from the machine.
“And this is powered by an orb made by Teclis” said Malekith, “We do not need such devices. Our most powerful sorceresses can channel more powerful storms with their own sorcery. If you want to keep such a toy to amuse yourself, then fine.”
“True, my king, but if the asur work with the humans to create these machines, then it becomes possible the asur will be fielding similar devices. Handling this machine does not require any particular skills or considerable magic abilities. Apprentices could use it while true mages could use their magic freely” said Uriaeth, “It would be wise to keep a watch on this.”
“Then you have another task to carry out!” said the Witch King.

“That went rather well.” said Uriaeth as they were leaving Naggarond.
Durithir remained silent. Kouran’s words had sowed doubts in his mind. Part of him wanted to shrug off this absurdity.
“All Uriaeth wanted was a retainer without any ties to the nobility of Karond Kar and who could not be a threat to him. My only role is to serve as captain for a regiment of dreadspears” he thought. “But then, if he wanted me to be this and nothing more, why would he have me serve as guard whenever he attends an official meeting at the court or conducts negotiations for a raid or expedition? I have to attend every official thing he also attends”
The thought hit him like a physical blow.
“He is grooming me for command. Not just for commanding a regiment but for everything. He is teaching me how to act and think like a commander, like a true highborn. Why is he doing this? What is this hidden agenda of him? Most importantly, where do I fit in it? Should I feel honoured or threatened?”


Sat Jan 16, 2016 7:48 pm
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Loved that story. Great writing.
Thanks.

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Sun Jan 17, 2016 5:12 am
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Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:20 pm
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A first wound

Back in Karond Kar, Uriaeth organised the moving of all his possessions, wealth and retainers to the Stronghold of Darkness. Once his status and mission had been established, he summoned his retainers to his new office to discuss their expeditions for the following summer.
“For next summer, I plan to carry an attack which will bring us riches and enable us to sow discord between the asur and their “allies”. We will strike the dwarves.”
“How do we do that?” asked his retainer Nyrethor. “They live in fortresses deep inland in their mountains. To get in position to besiege one of their fortresses, we would have to cross human territories before hacking our way through the tribes of greenskins infesting the mountains.”
“Not all their fortresses are inland” replied the dreadlord.
Waving at a map of the world, he resumed.
“They have a seaport, the fortress of Barak Varr, at the easternmost point of the Black Gulf. No seaport is beyond our reach.”
“Storming a dwarf fortress would require several thousand soldiers and many sorceresses, hydras, war machines, and perhaps one dragon, much more than what we can usually enlist” said Durithir.
“Moreover, this is not a human city” added Nyrethor. “Even if we could seize their harbour, we would have to fight them in their tunnels within the mountain where they have the advantage.”
At these words, Uriaeth laughed before speaking.
“You have misunderstood me” he said. “I have no intention of taking this city. I merely intend to steal riches from the dwarves.”
“But their treasures are located deep in their fortresses” said Nymerith. How can we reach them?”
Uriaeth smiled, amused by his retainers’ incomprehension.
“Before a treasure is stored into a vault, where is it?” he asked. “How do you carry it?”
“Of course” exclaimed Durithir, his face alight with understanding, “We strike at their ships while they are conveying the gold they obtained from selling their goods in the human cities.” “
Clever lad!” said Uriaeth with a smile.

So it was that the following summer, after a winter full of training and preparations, Uriaeth led a fleet towards the Black Gulf and hid it not far from the gulf. Their plan was simple, shades would patrol along the coast keeping an eye for dwarf ships. Once one had been spotted, Karaskia would lead the army to seize the watchtower closest to the gulf’s mouth and defeat its garrison. Afterwards, when the dwarf ship tried to enter the gulf, Karaskia would use the hurricanum to freeze the water around it, trapping it, neutralising its battery of cannons and leaving it exposed to the druchii.

As night fell following the sight of two dwarf ships, the druchii army quietly advanced towards the watchtower. As they advanced, Karaskia noticed that the dwarves were far more numerous than they should be. She estimated their numbers at one hundred and fifty crossbowmen, two hundred warriors armed with axes and shields and one hundred and fifty dwarfs armed with heavy axes. The reason became obvious when she saw that they had lit a great pyre upon which they were burning several hundred orc bodies. This small army had come to defeat a group of orcs attacking the tower. Karaskia decided that it was safer to attack now even if the dwarfs had more soldiers than they should. At her command, the army advanced under the cover of darkness. Her plan was simple, creep as close as possible under the cover of darkness then attack as quickly as possible.
“Like mountain lions hunting boars” she thought with a smile.
At her command, the beastmasters led their hydra towards the large group of dwarf warriors near the pyre, followed by Durithir’ dreadspears while Arithair would lead the attack on the dwarf crossbowmen positioned near the entrance of the tower. She and the darkshards would assist from a distance. As the army quietly advanced, the hydra caught the scent of burning flesh on the pyre and rushed forward roaring. At the sound, the dwarfs turned towards the elves, although they could not yet see them, and quickly formed their ranks. Their cannon positioned on top of the tower opened fire on the hydra, guided by its roar. The cannonball struck the monster but the latter’s regenerative abilities protected it from real harm. As the corsairs were quietly creeping towards the lighted area, Karaskia decided to distract any eventual attention from them by attacking. Gathering her powers, she hurled an icy wind at the dwarf crossbowmen but as it was about to reach them, it suddenly disappeared. As the darkshards loosed volleys of bolts in quick succession at the crossbowmen, Karaskia looked around and saw that there was a runemaster among one of the two regiments facing the hydra. Angered, she channelled her powers again and managed this time to bypass his attempt at dispelling her spell, dozens of swords flying at the crossbowmen and hacking at them. Bolts from both sides flew through the air but where the dwarf shooters were quite visible due to the pyre, the elven shooters were covered by darkness and so only a handful of them were hit by dwarf bolts.

As he and his dreadspears were charging towards the dwarf warriors, Durithir saw the hydra rush towards the second unit of warriors before spewing its fire at them. However, it had done so too early and so only a handful of dwarves were hit and incinerated by the fire. Screaming their war cries, the dwarves charged at the hydra.
“I read they prefer dying to fleeing but I did not think they would actually rush to meet such a powerful opponent” he thought.
The dwarves reached the rushing hydra and struck with their heavy axes, opening dozens of wounds on the monster’s hide only to see them heal as the hydra’s regenerative abilities did their work. Their attacks did not go unanswered, jaws and claws tearing and crushing through their heavy armour. The hydra’s rage was such that it carved a bloody path through the regiment before charging the second regiment of dwarves. The latter had probably thought their kin would deal with the monster and were now paying the price for their arrogance as the hydra hit their left flank like an avalanche, making its way through it until if found itself within their ranks. The dwarves turned to fight the monster but in such a situation, they were powerless as the hydra rampaged through their ranks, turning on itself to attack those who managed to temporally wound it and crushing all those too close while doing so. A look on the right enabled Durithir to see that the hydra’s handlers had been vastly outpaced and were now staying far from the melee which meant that the hydra was currently uncontrollable. Should his regiment join the fray, the monster would probably make no difference between elves and dwarves. He consequently ordered the regiment to stop. In front of them, the hydra pursed its slaughter, its jaws, claws, flames and tail carving red furrows through the dwarves from the two regiments converging upon it like ants on a scorpion.
“No matter how many times I witness the power of these monsters, I am still amazed” thought Durithir.
Turning his gaze to the tower, he saw that Arithair was leading his corsairs in a charge against the crossbowmen.

As the corsairs emerged into the light, charging at full speed, the dwarves tried to counter the new threat. Their cannon turned towards the druchii and opened fire but the cannonball hit the ground just before the elves, not touching a single one of them. The crossbowmen loosed bolts at the corsairs but the sea dragon cloaks they were wearing lived up to their reputation and only a handful of them fell.
“Let the fun begin” thought Arithair with a feral smile.
The corsairs reached the dwarves and the killing began. The dwarves drew axes to defend themselves but they were not in element in this style of fighting while the corsairs were. As the dwarf in front of him raised his axe, Arithair thrust with his two swords, stabbing him in the belly. As two dwarves struck, he parried an attack and dodged another before whirling upon himself, beheading one dwarf then stabbing the other through the heart. All around him, the dwarves were quickly killed or neutralised by the corsairs. While some of the corsairs finished the doomed regiment, Arithair led a few corsairs towards the tower’s entrance which was unlocked, the suddenness of the attack having prevented the dwarves from locking it. Followed by some of his corsairs, he rushed at the top and captured the servants of the cannon. Looking over the parapet, he saw that the darkshards were finishing a group of dwarves with their swords.
“Where did they come from?” thought Arithair.
He then saw a large hole were the ground had been solid moments ago. Several dwarf corpses laid between the hole and the darkshards. Apparently, these dwarves, numbering a hundred, had burst out from the ground and charged at the darkshards who had killed half of them with their bolts before finishing the other half in melee where their agility and hatred had enabled them to prevail. Turning his gaze, he saw that the hydra stood in the middle of about three hundred dwarves, most dead or dying, a few trying to crawl away from it as the beastmasters were rushing to make sure it did not turn on the elves. He saw with pleasure that the dreadspears had not been able to fight anything during this short battle.
“I will be able to humiliate Durithir. Perfect! Too bad these other dwarves did not manage to kill the biatch” thought Arithair.
A look around the battlefield showed that the elves had suffered almost no casualties, so quick and sudden had been their attack under the cover of darkness.

A day later, two of the dwarf ships approached the entrance of the gulf. They were ugly thing thought Durithir, things completely covered in armour plate using some kind of mechanical engine to advance instead of sails.
“Noisy, smelly, and completely devoid of aesthetics. Typical of dwarves” thought the young druchii.
All around him, bolt throwers had been disposed around the cliffs near the tower. Uriaeth had given him command of the bolt throwers which had greatly disturbed him. As he looked at the machines’ servants, he thought once more that he could have easily been in their place. It made him realise how his status had evolved.
“A few years ago, I was just an anonymous lowborn operating a bolt thrower with no other skill. Now, I have commanded a regiment during five battles, led an army to victory on the Forbidden Coast, and am learning how to rule and command.”
He broke from his reverie to focus on the situation. Sitting on his manticore, Uriaeth turned to Karaskia.
“The time has come!” he said.
Karaskia nodded and activated the hurricanum, unleashing a blizzard on the gulf’s entrance. When it abated, the druchii had the satisfaction to see the two iron ships stuck in ice. Turning to Nymeryth and Durithir, Uriaeth gave instructions.
“Open fire on the nearest ship, I will deal with the second one” he said.
Durithir nodded and ordered the bolt throwers to open fire while Nymeryth did the same with the darkshards. Soon, the sky was black with bolts forcing the dwarves to take cover, enabling the corsairs to quickly cross the ice to attack the nearest ship while Uriaeth led his manticore towards the second ship even as two sea dragons also converged on it. Both ships were seized in less than one hour.

As the druchii were leading the captured dwarves to their ships farther on the coast, Uriaeth discussed with his lieutenants near the captured tower.
“This has gone extremely well”, he said pleased. “We have found more gold in two ships than in an entire human city. Moreover, we have captured several dozen dwarf slaves, each one of them worth more than a hundred human slaves.”
“What do we do now my lord?” asked Durithir.
“Behead every dwarf corpse you can find, shave their heads, and plant them upon spikes around the tower”.
Going to the top of the tower, Uriaeth planted an asur banner Karaskia had obtained during her expedition in Naggarythe.
“When they see an asur banner on the top of their tower and more than a hundred shaven heads of their kinsmen, they will remember how that buffoon of Caledor the Second had a royal emissary shaved and so they will suspect the asur. Even if it does not erupt into another war between Ulthuan and the dwarf realms, this will plant the seed of mistrust and anger into the hearts of the dwarves which will greatly lessen the chances they ever come to the help of Ulthuan during our next assault. I have inflicted a first wound to the asur. True, it is an almost insignificant wound but it is only the first of a long series. To carry out the task the Witch King has entrusted me with, I will have to shed an ocean of blood” thought Uriaeth, the prospect filling him with pleasure.


Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:21 pm
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Corsair
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I wish my corsairs could behave as yours against dwarves. Alas, hardly ever...

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Thu Jan 21, 2016 3:23 am
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The venting of anger

Following the raid near Barak Varr, Uriaeth decided to attack the coast of Bretonia. After another winter of planning and training, the druchii set sail for the Old World once more. After several weeks of navigation, Uriaeth’s fleet arrived near the targeted coast. Seeing that there was a fortified castle fifteen miles from the coast, he sent Karaskia and part of the army to prevent the castle’s defenders from coming to the rescue of the villages on the coast.

As the druchii were waiting for eventual enemies, Karaskia fulminated. She had spent an incalculable number of hours on her mirror watching the duel between Uriaeth and Altheriath. She had watched the attendants on the tiers, trying to find out who was the mysterious sorcerer who had tried to kill her in Lustria before trying to kill Uriaeth during this duel. She had tried to find out anything that could betray the sorcerer but there were too many druchii to watch and the spell he had cast would not have required a particular gesture, only a subtle movement of the hand or a fist thrown in the air. There was also something that made no sense. There was indeed a possibility that one of Uriaeth’s enemies had recruited an illegal magic user to kill him, but why try to kill her also? If Uriaeth died, she would have to find another benefactor which meant that many nobles would probably fight among themselves to gain her magic support. As she could not understand the sorcerer’s purpose and had made no progress in her attempt to find him, she had reluctantly given up. If she could not find the sorcerer while he was hiding, then she would wait until he tried again to act against her or Uriaeth. In Lustria, he had had the benefit of surprise but now, if she sensed a spell affecting her, she would be ready. Forgetting about this shadow enemy, she amused herself by remembering Uriaeth’s plan: to enslave the humans living on this coast and leave asur gear to make sure the humans would suspect the elves of Ulthuan. She laughed at the stupidity of humans. They were divided in many cultures, kingdoms and people and found it natural but were incapable of thinking that other races could also be divided. Well, as this paradox suited the druchii’s needs, she had no problem with it. As this moment, Itharin came to her.
“A small army is preparing to leave the castle. What do we do?” he asked.
“We attack” she replied.

As the druchii were approaching the castle, they found a squadron of a hundred knights and a regiment of two hundred peasants armed with bows. As the druchii were advancing, the knights dismounted from their horses and fell on one knee, imitated by the peasants.
“Are they praying?” thought Karaskia pleasantly surprised.
Well if the humans wanted to concede initiatives to her warriors, she had no problem with it. Channelling dark magic, she hurled an icy wind at the peasants, slaying many of them, while her darkshards, along with the bolt thrower, opened fire on the knights as they were mounting on their horses. However, most bolts rebounded from armour or from a faint light glowing around the knights. As the knights started to move towards the corsairs, she noticed a movement coming from the castle and looked in time to see a massive piece of stone flying from a trebuchet on the wall. She momentarily felt fear until she realised that the projectile would not hit them. As he landed twenty meters away from her regiment, she conjured dozens of magic swords she sent flying towards the castle’s walls. The swords surrounded the war machine like a swarm of sharks converging on a whale and hacked at its crew and ropes, making sure it would not fire again. She then continued her magic onslaught, striking again the archers with a chill wind. She then sensed magic being cast and looked to see a witch among the peasants. A plan taking shape in her mind, Karaskia waited until the sorceress was on the point of casting her spell before casting the spell to induce unbearable pain to the target. The sudden disturbance resulted in a spectacular explosion that killed several dozen peasants. Karaskia then conjured another storm of blades she sent flying at the archers, followed by a cloud of bolts. In a matter of minutes, the peasants and their witch were annihilated. Meanwhile, the knights broke into a gallop towards the corsairs. They charged directly through a wood, some of them falling from their mounts as they jumped over bushes. As they were on the point of reaching the corsairs, the latter divided into groups each running away from the knights. The knights were unable to stop their charge or turn their mounts, enabling the druchii to surround them. But even without the benefit of charging, the knights were mighty opponents and although many of them were killed by the corsair’s serrated blades, they kept on fighting which eventually sowed the seed of fear in the corsairs’ heart and they tried to flee. The knights eagerly set up in pursuit, trampling several elves beneath the hooves of their horses. Suddenly, a hail of bolts fell on them. Turning away from the few remaining corsairs, the knights turned towards the bolt thrower but the machine’s crew fired and reloaded their machine again and again at an astonishing speed until their opponents were all exterminated.

The battle being over, the druchii repositioned themselves to keep watch on the castle. Following the defeat of the knights, the peasants hiding in the castle ran to defend the walls. Karaskia laughed at the sight of the terrified humans watching her small army from the top of their wall, expecting them to attack any moment. They could not and would not leave their shelter to save the village on the coast which meant that she had carried out her mission. However, the temptation to sack this castle was strong and she decided to accomplish more than just destroy the warriors who had tried to come to the aid of the coast.

“When will they leave?” thought Aidan as he kept watch on the elves’ camp.
After they had destroyed the knights and almost all their archers, they had just set camp and had remained calm. At least five hundred men at arms waited within the castle. They had the advantage of numbers and of position they stood good chance of defeating the elves if they attacked. As he was peering into the distance, he heard a soft sound and turned to his right to see the sentry twenty meters on right lying dead in a pool of blood.
“Lady of the Lake” he exclaimed.
“No. Just me!” replied a cold voice behind him.
Darkness invaded him at this moment.

Having disposed of the sentries, Tharnithil and the shades tied ladders of ropes to the castle’s wall, enabling the corsairs and darkshards to climb. Now that they were inside the fortress, they had no trouble capturing the humans who found themselves with blades or crossbows pointed at them when they appeared.

As the druchii were returning towards the coast, Karaskia enjoyed her victory. She and her troops had defeated the castle’s defenders and seized the castle with only light casualties. They had looted everything of value they had found in the castle, be it gold, captives, and food before amusing themselves by nailing the dead humans to the walls. All of this would only strengthen her reputation and influence in Karond Kar. Moreover, this victory would please Uriaeth and she would consequently have no trouble convincing him to renew their bargain should she wish it. Her joy fell when she considered that there was another reason to stay close to Uriaeth. The shadow sorcerer that had tried to kill them both would certainly try again and she would not rest until she had found him and killed him and the best way to find him was to remain close to Uriaeth. Whoever this sorcerer was, he saw her as a threat for whatever plans he had regarding Uriaeth. By staying close to the other druchii, she would make the sorcerer fear for his success until he made the mistake that would expose him.
“And then, you will suffer an agony that not even a Khainite can devise” she thought with a growing smile.


Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:52 pm
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Corsair
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Funny, I've had some roleplay on D.net which could easily fit in your story.

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Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:01 pm
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Blood Under the trees

Following the raid on Barak Varr and another autumn and winter of training, Uriaeth led his forces on a raid on the coast of Bretonnia. After having captured the populations of every village on the coast, the druchii oversaw the gathering of slaves and loot on a spot of land near a forest growing not far from the coast.

During the night, as Durithir was listening to Uriaeth, the latter suddenly seemed to listen to a sound only he could hear and dashed to the entrance of his tent. Durithir followed him and saw him looking towards the forest. The retainer also looked and saw a shape running towards the trees at all speed.
“Your slave is escaping” said Uriaeth.
He then seemed intent on hunting the slave himself but then stopped and pondered the situation before speaking.
“Durithir!” he shouted. “Go retrieve your slave! Bring him back if you do not want to clean your gear and room yourself!”
Not wishing to suffer the humiliation of having to do menial chores that no druchii respecting himself would accept doing, Durithir immediately started pursing his slave.

Once he entered the forest, he stopped running and proceeded to look around, his senses keen for any noise which would betray the human’s presence, advancing deeper and deeper into the forest. As he walked around a tree, he heard a growl and turned to see a wolf advancing threateningly on him.
“Look at it in the eyes to threaten it and drive it to attack. Block it with the shield then kill it” thought the druchii.
He stared into the wolf’s eyes and at once the animal started to run towards him before leaping at him. Durithir raised his shield and the wolf’s forelegs hit the shield like a hammer but the elf did not bulge. As the wolf was driven back, Durithir started to thrust forward. At once, he remembered the final vision the hurricanum had granted him, the vision of him thrusting at a wolf while hearing the sound of an arrow being released. Like in a dream, he stopped his thrust and pivoted on his feet towards his right, his shield moving to block the arrow flying at him. Facing him was an elf dressed in autumn-coloured clothes. Although his face was covered by a hood and mask, his eyes were wide open with astonishment. Seizing this opportunity, Durithir rushed at the other elf. The latter raised his bow to protect himself and the druchii struck, his sword cutting the weapon in two. The elf jumped backward out of reach, drawing two knives and attacking Durithir who easily stopped the attack with his shield before counterattacking.
“Have I thwarted fate? Have I escaped my death by deflecting this arrow? It does not matter. If I am supposed to die now, I will fight to the end with a sword in my hand and hatred in my heart” he thought.
As the other elf fought defensively, the druchii remembered that the wolf was still in his back.
“I am caught between the wolf and this elf. If I turn my back on the elf, he will stab me. If I turn my back on the wolf, it will leap” he thought and a plan took shape in his mind.
“When your opponent has an edge, turn it against him” he thought.
Even as he kept forcing the other elf to remain on the defensive, he listened to the wolf’s movements. When he sensed that the wolf was about to leap, Durithir fell to his knee, the animal passing harmlessly above him and crashing into the other elf.
“Now the wolf will turn and leap again” thought the druchii.
Like he expected, the wolf turned and leapt but the druchii was ready. As the wolf was about to reach him, Durithir bashed at its head with his shield. The wolf fell to the ground and did not rise. Now that the animal was down, Durithir was free to focus entirely on the other elf who was again forced on the defensive.
“Looks like your precious pet is down. My brain proved too cunning for him” he said with a sneer.
These words angered the elf who replied with a hiss.
“Arahain is a friend, not a pet, something a monster like you cannot understand” he said.
“A friend!” thought Durithir with disgust before replying, “Pfff, friendship is the refuge of the weak and cowards. One must live for oneself, the rest is meaningless. If you think you are right, then prove it by besting me, tree vermin.”
As he had expected, the other elf was driven furious by these words and he attacked. The druchii blocked the blades with his shield before slamming it into the elf’s face. He then thrust. Although dazzled, his opponent managed to jump on his right. As a result, the sword thrust that should have gutted him only cut deeply across his waist, drawing blood. Carrying on, Durithir used his shield to push his opponent back until slamming him against the tree behind. The elf then fell on his knees, dropping his knifes. Durithir felt the familiar ecstasy of victory permeating his body along with the relief of having survived the fight. At this moment, the wolf raised its head and yelped.
“Good, I will be able to celebrate my victory” thought Durithir with a cruel smile before speaking again.
“Your wolf is still alive. Good. That way, I will have the pleasure of hearing its screams while I am skinning it” he said.
He then raised his sword then swung it in a decapitating blow but at the last instant, his opponent ducked. Before Durithir could turn, the other elf leapt and at once the druchii felt pain exploding in his right side as a knife bit through his armour and into his flesh. The elf then withdrew his dagger and blood erupted from Durithir’s wound. Groaning with pain, he recoiled but the other elf continued his attack. Before he could raise his shield, his opponent jumped and kicked him in the chest, sending him to the ground, what breath he had exploding from his body. Trying to ignore the burning pain in his side and his aching lungs, he prepared the one thing that could save him, guessing that his attacker would now attempt to finish him with a descending thrust. As the other elf struck, Durithir did likewise. His attacker realised what was happening and tried to recoil but even so the sword slashed across his chest, followed by a spray of blood. At that moment, shouts resounded.
“Reinforcements” thought the druchii.
The other elf apparently guessed the same thing for he said some strange words to his wolf before the two of them fled, vanishing between the trees.

When he saw that he was wounded, Uriaeth ordered the other druchii to help Durithir getting back to the camp. While a surgeon was working on his wound, Durithir reported what had happened to Uriaeth, expecting punishment for his failure to kill his attacker. Uriaeth seemed deeply disturbed by his tale and said nothing after the youngster had finished. Knowing that expecting Uriaeth to forget about the punishment would only increase the inevitable torture, Durithir spoke.
“I have been attacked and failed to kill my attacker” he said. “I acknowledge my failure. Do with me as you will.”
Uriaeth suddenly fixed him and Durithir realised that his lord had been thinking about something else before he had brought him back to the present. Uriaeth seemed to ponder his reply for a moment.
“You have been attacked and managed to survive while fighting to the end” he eventually said. “And given the wounds you apparently inflicted on your opponent, and the blood we found there, he is probably dead right now. I see no failure here.”
Durithir had to restrain himself from opening his mouth in shock as he had expected anything but that. Looking more closely at his lord’s face, he saw that he was deeply disturbed.

After Uriaeth had left and he was alone in the tent, Durithir felt torn between his joy and relief of having survived the fight with the other elf, and apprehension as the fact that Uriaeth was worried meant that something strange was at play here.

Following the trails of blood, Arithair advanced in the forest. As the fleet had approached the coast, he had been practicing a spell of transvisualisation in his cabin with his mirror. Through this spell the surface of the mirror had served as a giant eye he could move in any direction and any angle. He had amused himself for a while looking at the crew on Uriaeth’s ship from above before spreading his gaze towards the coast. There he had seen something strange, some kind of fog that had completely obscured his vision and that he had not been able to pierce no matter how close he had moved the magic eye. He had dispelled his spell and gone to the deck to look at the forest and had not seen any trace of this strange fog no more than he had felt anything through his magical sense. He had guessed it meant that a powerful sorcerer was casting a spell precisely to obscure part of the forest from magic detection.
“Very clever” he had thought, “Had I not been practicing my transvisualisation spell, I would have never suspected anything or discovered it.”
He had considered trying to kill this sorcerer and imprison his soul in his ring but had quickly dismissed the idea. Although he could now cast a number of spells even while wearing heavy armour, his skills in sorcery were still relatively weak as his training was entirely theoretical given that he could not receive proper training due to his gender and had to practice secretly. He had known that trying to kill the sorcerer in the forest would be dangerous. As he would have to explain how he had been able to sense the sorcerer’s presence, Arithair had known that disclosing what he knew would be almost suicidal. Should any druchii suspect even for a heartbeat that he had magic powers and knew how to use them, he would be delivered to the Witch King for the crime of being a male sorcerer. However, a plan had taken shape in his mind, to use this sorcerer and his retainers to assassinate Uriaeth. This night before the druchii were due to leave this coast with their new captives, he had subtly bewitched Durithir’s slave, inducing in him an overwhelming temptation to escape towards the forest. He had then bewitched Uriaeth, inducing in him the wish to check where was the slave and then to pursue him. However Uriaeth had stopped himself from doing so and had instead ordered Durithir to go retrieve the slave. Later, Uriaeth had sent a search party after seeing that Durithir was not returning. Arithair had followed it before taking a separate way. He had found a trail of blood and had followed it using a minor spell to make the blood vanish so that no other druchii would find it. He then heard a shout and ran towards the sound until he reached a clearing where he saw Durithir’s slave along with a wolf, a wounded male elf and a female elf. As he analysed the situation, the female elf spoke to the other elf.
“Do not worry, Etharilth will come and heal you. No one will harm you anymore” she said.
“I respectfully disagree” replied Arithair as he entered the clearing.
The female elf readied her bow while the wolf growled but at this moment, Arithair unleased his prepared spell and an icy wind engulfed his opponents, encasing their legs and arms in ice. He could have killed them but they had to remain alive to serve as bait for his true prey so he knew he had to kill time with them. Channelling his powers, he spoke a word to induce unbearable pain to all those facing him before speaking.
“Pathetic tree hugger” he said. “I served you Durithir on a silver plate and you failed to kill him or even maim him enough to make him useless. This was the simple thing I wanted and yet you failed to carry it out. True, I had hoped Uriaeth himself would go after the human and die at your hands but Durithir’s head would have been a consolation prize. Well, time for you to die!”
“Not as long as I have something to say” said a voice.
Turning his head, Arithair saw an elven mage enter the clearing.
“You soul will make a fine addition to my collection, tree wizard” he said with hatred and satisfaction at the success of luring the mage where he could kill him. “Time for you to die!”
With that he extended his arm and loosed a bolt of dark magic at the mage who dispelled it before attacking with his own magic, roots erupting from the ground around the druchii who blasted them with his sorcery. The other elf carried on with his own attacks, a ball of white fire erupting from his hand and been barely dispelled by the druchii.
“Your hatred is potent, druchii, I do not deny it!” said the mage. “But I fight with something stronger than hatred or love of destruction, I fight with the will to defend what I hold dear.”
“And I am not a mage crippled by an inability to fight” thought Arithair before charging at the mage and drawing his swords.
The mage stood his ground and raised his staff, ready to fight. As he reached him, Arithair felt him cast a spell, something that looked like transparent fur covering his body. This fur looked immaterial but stopped the corsair’s swords as easily as if it was steel armour. The mage cast another spell and at once, his attacks became quicker and more powerful. Arithair was skilled with his blades, armoured and trained for melee, but empowered by his spells, the mage was able to resist, his empowered staff moving to parry swords or attack. The fight lasted for several minutes, neither being able to gain the advantage. As he tried to channel his powers to cast another word of pain, Arithair heard a shout and saw in the corner of his eye Durithir’s slave charge him with a branch in his hands. He reacted with elven speed, one of his swords cutting the human’s improvised weapon while he buried the other in his opponent’s chest. This distracted him only for a heartbeat but it enabled the mage to cast a spell, roots surging from the earth and seizing the druchii. Even as they constricted around him, Arithair let his fury explode as a wave of dark fire burning the roots. With hatred, he realized that he would not be able to prevail now that the mage was no longer locked in melee.
“You are more powerful than me, tree lover, but you have a weakness I have not” he said with venom in his voice.
With these words, he turned towards the other elves and conjured dozens of black swords he hurled at them with a word. As he had anticipated, the mage unleashed his powers to block the killing spell which provided Arithair with the heartbeats he required to escape.


Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:43 pm
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Always entertaining! Thanks!

-=-=-

I was wondering...
Sometimes next spring, 9th Age will release their new army books, along with the fluff. They have elaborated a very consitent setting.
We will discover what they have in mind for the Dread Elves.
Apparently, they should be closer to some real world legends, but I don't know exactly which ones will fit the Dread Elves.
Tomb King, easy, are inspired by Ancient Egypt. Bretonnians, that's Arthurian Legends. Lizzies, Aztecs and Mayas.
Wood Elves, I woud expect an inspiration from Irish Celts. But High Elves? And Dark Elves? Would they be inspired by Scots for DE and Saxons for HE? Hard to guess.

In any case, when they release the new fluff, there will be a need for good stories to develop it.
You would be more than welcome to write similar stories in the new setting.

_________________
Winds never stop blowing, Oceans are borderless. Get a ship and a crew, so the World will be ours! Today the World, tomorrow Nagg! {--|oBrotherhood of the Coast!o|--}


Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:42 am
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Calisson wrote:
Always entertaining! Thanks!

-=-=-

I was wondering...
Sometimes next spring, 9th Age will release their new army books, along with the fluff. They have elaborated a very consitent setting.
We will discover what they have in mind for the Dread Elves.
Apparently, they should be closer to some real world legends, but I don't know exactly which ones will fit the Dread Elves.
Tomb King, easy, are inspired by Ancient Egypt. Bretonnians, that's Arthurian Legends. Lizzies, Aztecs and Mayas.
Wood Elves, I woud expect an inspiration from Irish Celts. But High Elves? And Dark Elves? Would they be inspired by Scots for DE and Saxons for HE? Hard to guess.

In any case, when they release the new fluff, there will be a need for good stories to develop it.
You would be more than welcome to write similar stories in the new setting.


I think you can compare High Elves with ancient greeks. Druchii as Romans / Spartans.

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Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:41 am
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