PRP: Battle For Elune Part 1
July 21, 2020, 4:31 p.m.
Outside Arx - Mourning Isles near Estroch - Estroch
Comments and Log
Thanks to very skilled Captains and sailors picking our heroes up on the beach to the North, they all travel East toward the rising sun in a general sense without major incident. Well it depends on what you'd call a major incident right? Along the way, their ship runs out of rum and they are stuck drinking whiskey and brandy. It's a travesty, really. But, otherwise the weather is balmy and breezy, the sky is blue and fair and no storms threaten their travels.
Likewise, it's bright and sunny and just after lunch when they dock in the Elune harbor and make their way up through weaving streets to the newly constructed stronghold perched on a plateau that overlooks the docks and a portion of the city. All the buildings they encounter along the way are surprisingly new and built within the last two years, hewn of creamy-white stone and topped with mostly pointed purpleheart roofing structures. The building shapes lean toward the rounded, including doors and windows - a vastly different aesthetic to Arx, that's for certain.
Iseulet is the one that leads the group up toward the fortified structure of Elune's castle, and has attendants immediately see them to their rooms where they are allowed to settle in. And wait.
The anticipation is the hardest part, but waiting for the opportune moment is key. And so? The evening passes, and while the atmosphere is quite tense, and further into the night they sleep - if they can.
Just after dawn, however, it's the sound of heavy footsteps in the hallway that rouse everyone from their slumber and even though voices are hushed, not to cause panic, they know the sound of anxious voices even if they are concealed by thick doors and stone.
Only a half a minute of tension passes before Iseulet's voice rings out from the top of the hall. "Everyone, awaken! Meet me in the War Room in ten minutes."
And so, everyone is summoned with a sense of urgency to the War Room. A private chamber in the castle that's lined with books and scrolls and smells of vellum and ink. A round table is set out with a map of Estroch laid out upon it. ( https://imgur.com/3OHUEWt )
Grimhalls forces are rallied at the Western Boundary (See F) and marked with a fleet of little green figures.
In Izarra bay, little purple ships have been set out marking where Iseulet's forces are located.
But there's something else here on this map.
A saucer, with a slightly burnt bran muffin. Well, what's left of one. It's been ripped to shreds - crumbs and chunks have been left in the plate, uneaten, and a tightly folded up note (that had obviously been inside the muffin) is laid out beside it. Written in neat block letters, even though the paper is a little worse for wear, is a note. Iseulet already here, she's standing at the head, looking serious.
Ten minutes? Domonico is there in less than five, fully clad in his leathers and fireweave, golden hued warhelm tucked under one arm, his other resting on the pommel of Warspite. He's studied the map before but now he casts his eyes over it again, absorbing what information that he can. "Marquessa."
The voice rings hard in the ears of one sleeping Valardin Prince, whose rest had been poorly consolidated thorough the night and, able to only truly sleep in the past two hours, was far from well-rested once that clarion from the abyss yanks him out from that sweet reverie into the land of the suffering and yet living. He does so, awaken, with a violent gasp. His hands, instinctual towards possible danger, grasp blade beneath pillow and blanket from below him in a tight grip while he augurs his ears, and surveys the room.
Empty, the languorous Oathlander rises up from his bed and staggers onto his pile of crumbled clothes, dressing lazily. If it's in ten minutes he's wanted there, he arrives in fifteen, for Sirius ambles and sways like a corpse across the cyclopean, unfamiliar halls until he flounders into the War Room with a hooded, weary gaze. "Are they here?" He asks, gaze fleeting between Domonico and Iseulet. His voice drags- it's hoarse, full of phlegm and soreness.
Valdemar needs the full ten minutes; putting on a full set of metal armor is not a fast process, but he has made it as efficient as possible. He can be heard before he steps into the room, his horned helm tucked under one arm when he does enter the room, a somber expression on his face. "Good morning," he greets everyone present briefly before turning his attention to the Marquessa.
Ilira slips early into the hall. Steels and leathers clad her, twin sabers concealed by the spill of her hair down her back. Her eyes are clear, without fatigue. "Good morning," she murmurs to Iseulet as she brushes to her side, a hand on her arm. As others filter in, she idles by the table and flickers a smile to her companions, though it is faint.
"Morning everyone," Iseulet begins with her even and grim tone befitting this ungodly hour of the morning. She is the Grim Duke's protege afterall! But shedoes return the affection to Ilira with a gentle touch. Her hands are clammy and nervous, though. "My apologies for the rude awakening. I've just been informed that smoke has been spotted rising from the watchtower on the north of one of our barrier islands - Altaira." Then, she nods to the destroyed muffin. "And during the night, I received this." She reaches for it, smooths it out and reads: "Do not be fooled by smoke and mirrors, they rise against your purse in the South." And then she turns her gaze back up to the four to get their reactions.
"Potentially a trick," Ilira muses, a purse to her lips. "Seems like a fine way to split us up, on their part."
Sirius's hand lays out with alarm across the map at Iseulet's report, his brows narrowing softly beneath the burdensome revelation in it. "They're not inside the gulf yet, good," he realizes, his fingers outlining the large inlet of water that curves into the isle's landmass. "But chances are the biggest of the three navigable gaps leading us out from it will be cordoned, perhaps the shoals as well. Ilira is right," he says "They're cutting us off from Grimhall."
Domonico takes in the information with a simple nod, his eyes flicking rapidly over the map as his keen military mind is already at work. "Did the watchtower get off any warning? Who delivered the note? What is the purse in the South?" He looks at the shallow shoals and nods to Sirius, "Unlikely they will attempt to cover them... They are hard to navigate and treacherous. They would likely focus their attention on the main approaches.
As Iseulet is speaking, Valdemar's attention is fixed on the map laid out before them, his brow furrowed deeply. But he /is/ listening to her, grimacing for a moment when he hears that they can likely expect attack from two directions. "They very well might be trying to split us up. But the main question we need answered as soon as possible is how many are coming from each direction. Depending on the answers, we might be able to afford to split up our own forces to face them. The ships will take time to reposition, though," he says when he finally lifts his gaze to look at the others.
Sirius checked intellect + riddles at difficulty 15, rolling 24 higher.
Ilira checked perception + riddles at difficulty 15, rolling 3 lower.
Valdemar checked intellect + riddles at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.
Domonico checked intellect + riddles at difficulty 15, rolling 7 higher.
"Well, if they are trying their luck in the shoals they will run aground. It's impassable. The sand bars there are constantly on the move and there's more than one ship that's met its match there." Iseulet says with a little nod. "Everything is a potential trick and I don't know if we have time for scouting missions to go and find them to count them up. Don't even know which direction they are coming from.There's five - so they could potentially be coming from all directions."
"They outnumber us," Sirius says, but the soft nihilism in his voice seems to echo that he's agreeing aslant with Domonico. "So why split up, risking loss of numbers in craggy, shallow waters? Taking us head-on is what they want; mass-against-mass. An easy algorithm, we're the disadvantaged," the young Prince muses still, chewing into his lower lip. Tapping at his chin with an index finger. Once he's assimilated the note, internalized on its hidden components, a light shines bright center in the disenchanting murk of Sirius' eyes, realization there dawning.
"The smoke is a diversion, the note implies," the Prince says, addressing the room on uneasy footing- like he's not too certain of it himself. Centering his gaze on Iseulet, he more forthwith there tells; "Perhaps they mean to reach Elune first through the Eastern boundary, divide us harder still to ease for a siege? Cut the head of the snake, in romanticized Eurusi fashion. They've been trying to do it to their Emperor for generations now."
"We don't know if they outnumber us. Or at least I've heard no reports of their numbers. But if we have to go into battle without knowing anything at all about their numbers or direction of approach..." Valdemar's voice trails off here, his distaste for the situation clear in his tone as he looks back to the map to survey it again. Exhaling deeply, he finally resumes speaking, "...Then we need to decide what needs to be defended the most and concentrate our forces there. My suggestion would be the city. It is where the most people are at, and where their presumptive target is." With that last statement, he looks directly at Iseulet. "Do you trust the letter?" he asks her.
Domonico hmmms, "*If* they have the number advantage then they can attempt to envelop our forces. What numbers do we have in total again? The Seryn Fleet has... what eleven Dromonds in total? They themselves are the equivalent of a mailed fist that we can strike hard with." He taps the map to the south. "However... the main Empyrean Trade Convoy is approaching from the south here. The Trade ships are escorted by the Empyrean warships... A few longships, galleys and a cog 'flagship'. This *will* be a target and they are unlikely to manage a lasting defence if attacked outright. The loss of that convoy will be catastrophic to not only Elune but several domains across the Compact. We will *need* to protect them as well but possibly also need to break through enemy lines to do so." He taps the shoals, "Here would be the place to slip past them to both head to aid the Convoy and to catch the attacking fleet in a flank attack."
Ilira maintains her silence and observes, hands folded at her waist. As Sirius speaks, her eyes linger on the note in thought, then the map. She measures her next words. "I defer to each of you, in my inexperience with such maneuvers. However, I volunteer to scout if that is the order. I do, though, prefer the relative precaution of remaining as a party--opperating in the same vicinity, at least." Her quiet falls once more as she lifts her gaze to Iseulet. "I can captain, too, if an extra is needed there."
Domonico checked intellect + war at difficulty 15, rolling 31 higher.
"It was delivered with my breakfast, I almost ate it on the first bite." Iseulet nods to the crumbled muffin. "Whoever delivered it could have just as easily poisoned me, or slipped a knife between my ribs while I slept. So." She deliberates for a heavy, pregnant moment. "I trust it." She crosses her arms on her chest and nods to Valdemar before turning her gaze to Ilira with a wan smile. "I didn't know." And then considering Domonico's words, she raises her brows in surprise. "Risky. That would be risky."
"If," Sirius says, caught in a beating whiff of hesitation; "We're outnumbered," he continues, "Dividing ourselves would most likely be folly. We'd simply be overrun, and it'd be a certain success to them," the Prince ensuingly labels for Valdemar, his expression laden with grimness and some fraction of duress held at bay as to not seem worried. But he is. "We could also be surrounded, Count Domonico," opines Sirius, softly. As if in the trepidation in his voice he'd somehow avoid such possibility fraught with catastrophe. "The shoals open to two flanks, and a fleet could hide inside the half-sunken Ruins of Salomene. My advice? We establish a strong cordon of ships to block off the southern strait leading into Elune, and amass the majority of the forces out in the Gulf before they find natural harbor and dock into the main aisle." He pauses, briefly, letting it all sink in; "If they indeed try to cut in through the Eastern Boundary, the blockade should give us time to reinforce from the gulf. The Duke's forces could come around and flank, albeit delayed, and it'd rid them of options. It is, I believe, our safest option. I'm open for debate."
Nodding at Iseulet's answer, Valdemar looks at the map again. "So we have to split our forces, then. Unless the trade convoy could possibly get to the city as well, before the enemy arrives? How far to the south are they?" he asks Domonico. Shaking his head slightly when Ilira offers to scout, he then tells her, "The offer is appreciated, but what we need scouted is out in the ocean, in every direction. Better to keep you to help with captaining a ship, if necessary. Another option, since we might need to split our forces, would be to leave a small fleet at Elune, and rely mostly on the strength of land forces to defend it. Then we could send most of our ships south to defend the convoy. I've brought the bulk of our forces for this. The Grim Fleet is 15 dromonds strong, along with forty five galleons and one hundred fifty longships, while the Grim Legion is two thousand men."
Valdemar checked intellect + war at difficulty 15, rolling 36 higher.
Domonico hmms, "So we need to get word to them as soon as possible. The Grim Fleet will be the decider here." He looks to Sirius and shakes his head, "A blockade will not work sadly. It will mean our ships will have to be relatively stationary and... become easier targets, unable to react as well. Also... it means that it will be easier for the enemy to cut off our ships and use their greater numbers. The best chance is to keep moving. Strike and keep moving as much as possible." He taps the bay itself. "We can start hitting them as they enter the Bay. The Elune Dromonds can form up as a solid core, remember that these are the largest and most powerful ships the Compact has...other than caravels. We need to send scouting ships out now to signal back what they can see." He taps the shoals, "I can take my caravel, the Tempest and move through the shoals, potentially leading a force through them to catch them unawares, then break through and head to the aid of the convoy." He thinks, "Valdemar's plan has merit."
Domonico drops Compact Naval Lexicon.
A quiet has settled over Iseulet and she debates all very good points presented. "I think that Domonico should head through the shoals and down south to meet the Route. Ilira may be a good Captain - I'm not denying we need her, but if she's a good scout, it might be good for her to head to Altaira to see what's really going on and she can go in and out, unnoticed... I hope. Domonico could drop her off on the way to the Shoals. Sirius and Valdemar, we can have our cake an eat it too if we allow him to do that and bring the Route in safe /and/ set up the blockade with Grim Fleets. The Seryn fleet could aid, or begin patrols around the boundary islands."
"Where I've outlined the blockade, Lord Magnotta-" Sirius says, silenced for a brief second of reaching in with a finger to tap the edification of wood out on the map most resembling, somewhat vulgarly, of a watchtower. "-is a bonfire post. Now, I am no sailor, but I know the advantage of a higher point. The tower could well spot an approaching fleet through the strait before it sees our ships, and a blockade could maneuver to slow their advance up to Elune if soundly commanded until support arrives."
The Oathlander takes a deep breath, stress simmering about his neck in small, throbbing outlines. He turns to Valdemar, "The city is garrisoned by less than three hundred fighters, not all battlements are manned, and our mounted force is less than two dozen horses." His voice clarifies worry, as if speaking on behalf of his own children. When he pauses, it's to inhale deep, before adding belatedly; "That's less than twenty-four, to be clear, mounted warriors." This is important- he's from the land of knights, people. "The Duke of Grihem's Point should command his sailors and soldiers as he sees fit, for he knows them better than all of us combined, but it'll not keep me from saying that to risk fighting inland could prove disastrous. It'll be decided at sea, I'm convinced."
Hearing Iseulet's planning, a hint of worry shows in his face; more worry to an already stacking pile of it. "What if Lord Magnotta comes out of the shoals right into the jaws of a Eurusi armada?" He reaches up, wiping sweat from his scar-split left brow. "If we do not keep control of the inlets leading into the gulf, the attack could come from anywhere and if we lose Seirenia Bay we'll not be able to bottleneck their numbers. If, again, they do outnumber us, this could prove disastrous."
"If you think that the convoy can be brought in safely, that is likely the best bet. It allows us to consolidate our forces, and Seirenia Bay gives our ships plenty of room to maneuver. The Grim Fleet can pretty effectively control that zone. But that plan /does/ hinge on getting the convoy in safe and quickly. Otherwise, they'll be left exposed to whatever is coming from the south, possibly the east as well," Valdemar says after inclining his head at what Iseulet says. He then looks to Domonico to ask, "Do you believe you can do that? You're more familiar with the capabilities of the ships involve, and their crews. Are they fast enough?" Turning his attention to Sirius, he then adds, "The Grim Legion would be brought in to fortify the city garrison, if we decide to split our forces as I suggested. If we don't need to, though, I agree that would be for the best. But we don't have any idea of what we are up against, so /any/ plan carries a great deal of risk." With this, his attention comes to rest on Domonico once again, waiting.
Ilira inclines a slight nod. "I can do so. I'll make my attempts at stealth, though this armor is a little loud." Her attention settles to her companions as she continues, "I captain well, but my skill is keenest in the melee itself. I'll lend myself wherever you need, of course--but I would like to get an eye on Altaira."
For a moment, Iseulet's mouth opens and it looks like she might say something but she's interrupted by a sharp knock at the door.
"Come in!" She barks. "I hope this is important."
"Yes, Marquessa. It's the muffin man. We've found him for questioning," sounds a masculine guard like voice on the other side.
"Oh that's good. Was he still in the castle?"
"No maum, we found him on Druery Lane."
"Thank you. I will be right down." She straightens up and nods to everyone here. "It seems I have some questioning to attend to. I don't think we have much more time to deliberate but I place this in your capable hands. You four would be hard pressed to find any others that I trust more." And with that, she begins her way out.
Domonico looks to Sirius, his eyes serious before he speaks, his voice measured and confident. "Prince Sirius. I am asking you to trust me. This..." he gestures to the map, "... is what I have trained for, studied and prosecuted my entire life. We cannot win by remaining stationary in this regards. We *need* to get that convoy in or the entire Empyrean Trade Route could collapse." He taps the shoals, "I can make it through there... it will cut several hours off and give me extra time. The Tempest is a fast ship, blessed by Archlector Madeleine and crewed by the best. I can make it through. I can get you to Altaira as well quickly." He taps the city, "Three hundred men mean more when defending a fortified position. They can hold if the enemy manage to land... and if I run into a Eurusi armada coming out of the shoals? I'll head back in and challenge them to chase me. We can do this Prince Sirius. Trust in what we have."
Sirius gasps quietly once the door's knocked upon. Budding, building levels of tension coming to a caustic release at the top of his lungs under this primer. He clears his throat, centers his vision on the map and takes in Domonico's impel with a grave and narrow look. "The blockade wouldn't consist of too major a sum of our forces, my Lord," the Prince opines, terse on the matter; "It'd simply give reprieve to a possible assault on the city. I am looking out for Elune, when I say this- I do not doubt your judgment. It is why I haven't opined on your mission to bring in the convoy, I think it is entirely sound. Only that, if you leave the immediate vicinity of the isle successfully, you could well be blocked off by the mercenary forces now moving inside of the gulf. A risk, again, I didn't mention as I trust you've considered it already." He reaches into the back of his leggings, deep into some pocket hole, to procure a sleek clean rag smeared with some old cologne. With it, he wipes the sweat off of his forehead. "Either way, the plan is set. My part in this will be remaining in Elune to command the local garrison and what force the Duke tokens it with in defense of the city. It is up to you naval leaders to decide if you'll block off the southern strait or not, I do not own any of your ships."
Sirius checked intellect + war at difficulty 15, rolling 46 higher.
Valdemar listens to the exchange between Iseulet and the guard, and then inclines his head as she takes her leave. "As I've said, your Highness, you will have the Grim Legion in Elune to fortify the garrison there. I am happy to leave them in your command. I will take the Grim Fleet out into the bay. Whatever other ships Lord Domonico doesn't need for his mission to bring in the convoy should bar the southern straits. They're not terribly wide, it seems, so it shouldn't take as many ships to control them. If you are comfortable, Mistress Ilira, you could take command there?" the Duke outlines the plan that seems to be the consensus, then looks around at the others to ensure that they are all on the same page.
Domonico takes Compact Naval Lexicon.
Just before she departs, Ilira touches Iseulet's arm and flickers her a smile, her warmth in her eyes. "Thank you." Her hand falls away as she turns to the others, nodding, "I would lend some faith to Count Domonico, your Highness. Risk is ineluctable here, but this seems the course with most surety." Her fingers lace at her waist. "Yes, I am comfortable," she inclines her head to Valdemar, "but Altaira is amongst priority. I'd still like to check there, if we've time."
"There's a small passage, my Lord," Sirius tells Valdemar, but only upon mollifying his impetuous hesitations beneath the assurances of one Ilira Starlys, "That you could use, to ferry in your men. It is here," and in he leans, into the map, moving down to the narrows of filing mountains that form their moors and crags out and across the westerly cape of the isle. "It is a passage, too big for a caravel to go through but rowboats could ferry in with ease." Sirius reaches aside for a pot of ink and feather, dabbing the quill's tip to draw significant circlemarks around said opening. "If you'd rather reach your fleet through water, that's your prerogative, but perhaps you could send for your men to arrive to Elune through here? I fear that if they're caught at sea in their ferrying they'll not arrive to Elune in time for a possible assault, and since they're already essentially located at the necessary point, it'd serve."
Domonico simply nods at the plan before saying to Sirius, "That might just do. Hopefully they will be able to march in time. I would prefer to have them arrive on ship... But we could send a number of them through the passage to reinforce the garrison. Then the rest could join with the rest of our fleet and come in hard behind them. Anyway... we are wasting time. I must get the fleet read and prepare the Tempest."
"Yes, it is likely best if I get to my ships by water, it will be faster, at least for getting a single person there. But that passage would be ideal for getting the Legion here safely, and will allow our ships more time to get in position out in the bay," Valdemar reasons, looking at the map where Sirius indicates the passage. He then nods his head in agreement with Domonico, saying, "You're right, now that we are settled on a plan, we need to get moving. Every minute matters right now. If I am catching a ride with you, Lord Domonico, I should head out with you now." To the others, he adds, "Gods be with us."
"Blessings," Ilira murmurs to Sirius as she glides after the other two men, her step soft. At the door, she quirks one last smile over her shoulder, "See you soon," then sweeps her hair back and follows them out.
As various faces begin departing the hall, Sirius is left alone to ponder on his solitude within a city that is foreign to him, as is its peoples, and the surrounding isles. He heaves for slow, hissing air while looming over the map, and curls it shut in one twitch of the wrist in a mild show of frustration; of apprehension, trepidation, hesitation. Everything. Hands flex to pale his knuckles, and soon he walks to the nearest window, gazing off through it into the open gulf. Now, anxious waiting for him begins.
He passes it by seeing to the city's defenses and refining the logistics behind each cargo train that's tied to every supporting fleet in defense of the isle.
Domonico checked command + sailing at difficulty 15, rolling 46 higher.
And so Domonico, Ilira, and Valdemar leave behind Elune's castle for the Tempest - a beautiful, fresh Caravel. By now the sun has fully cleared he horizon and revealed the day to be as splendid as the day before. No clouds in the sky and no storms creeping up on them from any direction. The winds are fair and favoring - and as much as a sailor might enjoy such a thing, the realization is that the winds are fair and favoring for any others on the sea too, including any Abandoned Sellswords that may be lurking around any corner in unfamiliar seas.
It's eerily quiet and devoid of enemy ships either coming or going as he heads NE to the southernmost tip of Altaira Island and sailing is smooth. Ilira finds herself dropped off on a beach with the Tempest pulling away. She could have the option of some companions, if she so chooses but these here be sailors and probably don't have much use for land legs.
Ilira: Perception at 15 and then a Perception + Survival at 20 please.
Ilira checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 2 lower.
Ilira checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 19 higher.
Ilira gets her bearings, determining north and gets a general 'feel' of the isle, though does not have a clear view of the watchtower - the growth of trees on the hilly terrain overcoming a clear look at it. But she does see the plume of smoke clearly and is able to trudge forward if she likes.
Meanwhile in Sirius land... Perception at 15 please.
Sirius checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 18 higher.
Ilira checked perception + animal ken at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.
Sirius: The castle is quiet and below in the harbor he can easily make out the Tempest heading out through the mouth of the bay. Some time passes, and the castle stays quiet, but eventually he becomes aware of a sound. It's extremely soft. Scratch scratch scratch.
It's not coming from this room, he's certain of it. It's almost metal on stone or rock. Scrach. Scratch.
Ilira, on the beach, has to make her way into the tree line but easily finds some birds and even a squirrel out collecting nuts.
Domonico had written and dispatched battle orders to the Seryn fleet on his way to the Tempest and was still dispatching them as he prepared it for launch, planning for eventualities.
The Tempest set sail, Domonico whispering a prayer to Mangata and the caravel cut through the waters smoothly, her sails filled and the figurehead of the Goddess overseeing the route taken. The Admiral of Southport seemed in his element here in the waters and got to drop Ilira off before heading towards the shoals, taking the wheel personally.
Domonico checked command + war at difficulty 20, rolling 177 higher. Domonico rolled a critical!
Ilira makes her way without tiring, across hillocks and through trees on a light bounce. Her attention lingers on her surrounds, the sounds, as her eyes linger on the tower ahead. A snuffle catches her ear, just off the path to the left. "Hey you, little one," she smiles with a lilt as she bends to address the squirrel. It looks up at her, walnut between teeth, with big, bright brown eyes. "Want to help me with something, darlin'?"
Ilira checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 15, rolling 28 higher.
It is hard for a foreign Prince of a distant land to make sense of the islander accents as they come to him, but Sirius addresses them and entertains them nonetheless with patience. Foremen, dockers, quartermaster, all seek out the Prince's final word as supplies and things are passed around; as trinkets, weaponry and food is moved this way or that, him deferring mostly to the accumulated experiences of these men while also ensuring essentials remain exactly where their name entails, where they're in essence.
And then, he hears it.
Like a hot shaft, searing and brisk, the bulk of sound cracks from the dead-angle of his eyes and calls for his attention. It comes from an eastern wall, the least manned of them all for it faces the sea and thus land incursions are incredibly unlikely. His eyes widen, and quickly - but subtly - he seeks an officer's attention from Valdemar's own; a weary and grizzly Sergeant that commands a solid grouping of a dozen soldiers. "With me -- we'll survey the wall here, on the eastern flank. I hear something insidious by its rungs," and so it is that the Valardin Prince, at the head of the squad, rushes up the nearest balustrade stair into the battlements, to look down in armed company across it and inspect every inch and nook of its wholeness.
The squirrel's eyes crinkle as it gnaws rapidly on its nut, seeming to grin. In a delicate gesture, Ilira settles her hand under its nose, as it sniffs. The little helper scrambles up her arm and perches on her shoulder, hidden in the fall of her hair. "Excellent!" she laughs and brushes her thumb over a dainty paw, then straightens. "This way, mm?" she asks as she continues up the trail, answered in a soft chitter. At the edge where the tree line breaks, she pauses, her hand on her companions back to calm it and herself. "Smell smoke?" she murmurs, tilting her head as the squirrel lifts its nose.
Domonico's orders are precise and to the point that Seryn's fleet mobilizes in an extra timely fashion - it surprises everyone.
Ilira has certainly made herself a friend. The little creature is positively infatuated with her and curious. Curious enough that it looks at her with its bright, beady little eyes and comes closer. It doesn't even seem to startle when she speaks! Look at that. It doesn't understand her however. It's wild, and as far as wild animals go quite clever but something does catch its attention. Nut in mouth, it sticks its nose into the air.
Sirius also mobilizes a small unit to investigate the scratching sound. Oh, how it haunts him. That infernal scratching! That damnable noise!
Sirius checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 11 lower.
Sirius checked perception + riddles at difficulty 20, rolling 17 higher.
A wary calm descends as Ilira approaches the watchtower proper, smoke rising above her. The friend on her shoulder trembles and huddles into her neck. She keeps her silence, lithe as she glides up and to the doors.
Dread has many names and forms and shapes, but none worse than that hellish cacophony that like an orchestra from the Abyss itself continues on and cyclically across the wall. Their location he cannot divine beneath the heavy glare of sun that curtains his gaze, but he can hear it- he can derive, from the staccato of cyclical moving and scratching, perhaps what it is and where it might be coming from in specific.
Sirius this is he WORST DEFENDED WALL IN ALL OF HISTORY. What is this a LADDER up the side? Good gods, why would Iseulet LEAVE this here? But the noise is faint, if not entirely gone here. In fact it was at its loudest in the stairwell, where the well could amplify it, toss it off smooth walls.
As for Domonico, his speed has returned, the caravel approaches the end of the strait between the two islands and the sea fans out - calm and deceptively smooth. Here the water sparkles and from his vantage point (and therefore Valdemar's) the sea changes color. The shallowness of the sand renders the water clear as crystal but the sand itself? Flows in rivers and eddies of color as if schools of fish were darting and flittering about in the depths below. Rivers of deep blue and aquamarine cut through bright corals and pink pools and purple wave-tips create illusions of rainbows. Liquid rainbows - and he's sailing them. Ahead of him in the distance, the mountains of the eastern boundary island rise and to the south east, the tips of ruins jutting up from the surface.
But it is not as safe as the picturesque scene would have a sailor believe. The currents here, meeting and colliding and rising and falling cause the sand to rise and fall so swiftly it changes every minute of every hour. Domonico knows if he hesitates or goes too slow that the sand could even rise from beneath him.
Ilira checked dexterity at difficulty 15, rolling 9 higher.
Ilira checked perception + investigation at difficulty 15, rolling 3 lower.
Ilira finds the watchtower engulfed in flames. It was an open air structure of purpleheart wood, but now it's a black skeleton supporting vicious red and orange flames spitting out black smoke high above. Ilira isn't even close to it and she can feel it starting to bother her eyebrows. The squirrel is definitely not enjoying this, and everything within the little critter is telling it to FLEE and FLEE NOW. Nervous little things, squirrels.
Domonico checked command + sailing at difficulty 25, rolling 64 higher.
By Sky and Sea. The words of House Magnotta are never more appropriate than they are now as Domonico, in control at the wheel and calling orders out for the sails when necessary, guides the Tempest through the beautiful, yet dangerous shoals. The hull of the caravel cuts through the water and crew members call out sandbars as they see them but Domonico is already reacting before he hauls the wheel around to starboard, due south east, almost dancing past and through the shifting rainbow sands. All the while, the serious Admiral is smiling broadly, almost serenely as he approaches the Ruins of Salomene, the wind still filling the Tempest's sails.
Domonico doesn't even look like he's going to war. Effortlessly, heroically, he navigates the cascading currents of the rainbow through a passage that even Eurusi slaver ships haven't dared to cross in at least a hundred years. The wind catches his sails and he rides the swell of the tide far and above the dangerously close sand bars, swerving like he knew this piece of the sea better than the back of his hand toward the sunken ruins of Salomene and through a canal that bisects them. Overhead, many withered spires of colored stone and glass stretch their skeletal remains into the sky like spears. Past this, the sea suddenly returns to normal, and everyone on board the ship breathes a sigh of relief and once the realization of what just happened sets in? A round of cheers erupts from his crew.
Round the south-eastern tip of Elune he arcs, steering his ship past the tip of the main island, only to be confronted with choppy, jagged seas that are being frothed up by the breeze and concentrated between two rocky coastlines that swoop in from either side of the channel.
Treacherous waters these, but maybe he's gone too far to turn back now.
Domonico checked command + sailing at difficulty 25, rolling 24 higher.
Domonico actually begins singing as he approaches that incredibly dangerous choppy waters, not a sea shanty, but a sea chanty, a sung prayer to Mangata designed to get the crew working together and focusing on working as a crew. His voice isn't a singing one, but it is loud and clear and the crew take it up. The ship plunges into the waters and then he steers the ship true, utterly focussed on his task and the figurehead of the Goddess keeps her watchful eye on the way ahead. The chanty ebbs as the crew collectively hold their breath as Domonico raises one hand. "Full sails. Now!" ...
... And the Tempest is swept clear through the pass by a sudden wind that Domonico caught *just* at the right time, powering the ship forward and into the clear.
His crew knew the chanty well and all voices (none of them singing ones) join him in the dedication and celebration of all of Mangata's many wonders - and just in time, too. You see they say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice? But Domonico was pulling in miracles out of thin air left and right. All on board his ship could see, the man and his ship were one. Tongues will be wagging about this trip, for sure.
Able to use the pitch and sway of the sea and the wind to his advantage, it proved no more treacherous than the open sea to him. Where others have failed, Domonico rises.
The Tempest emerges from the other side, unscathed and without a scratch and the seas calm again and smooth out to their glassy finish. After his trials, he realizes that he's shaved much time off his trip and is far, far ahead of schedule than he would be had he sailed around, rather than through.
Up ahead, he can see the Grim Fleet ready and waiting for him and ((speak of the devil)) Valdemar.
Ilira checked perception + performance at difficulty 20, rolling 24 higher.
Ilira stops and brings the squirrel down to cradle in her arms. "I'm going to set you down, by that tree there," she points. "It's a good spot, with all manner of nuts, and you'll be sheltered in that hollow in the trunk. Sound all right?" Her voice is a warm lilt over the crackle of fire, as she flits to a broad oak and kneels to place her little friend down, then draws a handful of seeds from a pocket in her armor. "Here you are!" she beams, sprinkling them in beside the squirrel as it nestles into the cool hollow. One corner of her eye is fixed on all that surrounds her.
Now, as for our brave Ilira, in the depths of the thick forest all alone... she's found herself confronted with the bonfire that was Altaira Watchtower. She can just barely make out the inscriptions on several foundation blocks dedicating it to Gloria, though it's stained with pitch and soot so badly that by now, it was hardly legible.
Her only companion a squirrel that's let curiosity get the best of it. And enjoying every moment. Because he loved the seeds and he treats - easy food! What was not to love?
But maybe, it seemed a little too peaceful. She did not hear voices or feet in the underbrush, and the roar of the fire was loud enough to mask it anyway. But - her quick and keen eyes do spy something that's amiss: a small encampment. It's pushed back into the tree line and covered in brush and forest detritus and debris. It looks as if it was made in a hurry - and it lies in the middle of a game trail, allowing for whoever made it to avoid detection.
Valdemar spends most of his time observing during the voyage out to his fleet. The crew clearly knows what they are doing, and Domonico commands them with ease, so the Duke watches as he sings along with the shanty, picking up the tune fairly easily. Mostly their surroundings, remaining aware of what happens around them, but also at times making note of how the Tempest's crew does their work. Upon seeing the blue and green striped sails of his own ships ahead, he approaches Domonico. "That one there, straight ahead. The dromond with the prow that resembles a giant spear. That is our flagship," he gestures toward the Spear of the Grim Duke.
Iseulet GM Roll checked perception(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 3 higher.
Iseulet GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + stealth(2) at difficulty 20, rolling 3 higher.
Iseulet GM Roll checked intellect(2) at difficulty 15, rolling 8 higher.
Iseulet GM Roll checked perception(3) at difficulty 23, rolling 14 lower.
It's not long until Ilira's tactic works and she draws, out of hiding, a very tall and broad man with a heavily scarred and disfigured face. He, as it turns out, has been hiding in the bushes watching this Red Riding Hood thing for a while and when he finally makes himself known, he has his knife drawn and his eyes narrowed. And he just rises out of a bush. "What do we have here?" He asks, his accent is thick and grating to the ears - definitely not from Elune this man. Not even in the slightest bit.
For a big guy, he seems quite light on his feet, too. He was so quiet that Ilira's squirrel even gets a fright (and possibly a heart attack).
Domonico nods to Valdemar and calls to a signaller to bring a horn up to announce themselves to the Grim Fleet. "I see it. We've made good time so we'll have time to properly brief your fleet on the plan and... with your permission... start planning the engagements to come?"
Ilira checked dexterity + seduction at difficulty 20, rolling 34 higher. Ilira rolled a critical!
"Yes, that is a good idea. First I need to get the Legion its orders, so that they can begin their trip to Elune. We want to give them plenty of time to reach the city," Valdemar answers Domonico once the hornblower has signaled to his fleet. Taking in a deep breath of the sea air, he then goes on, "But once they are in motion, yes, we should brief my officers and begin planning for what is to come as best we can. I dislike the lack of intelligence, but the situation is what it is."
"I was curious to ask you the same, sir--forgive me, Sellsword. Isn't that right?" Ilira hops lightly up to a bough and catches the branch above, then pulls lithely up to the next. Too high for his reach, she tucks her knees up and reclines against the trunk. "Mm, don't you adore the scent of the sea on wind?" Sun gleams on the creamy column of her throat as her head lists back, sumptuous curls tangled through with wind. Her leathers conform to her--the symmetry, the sleek grace of her limbs, her lush curves pronounced in silhouette. "Might I know your name, my mercenary of flames?" A smile subtle, her eyes linger on the fire a moment.
At that moment, this manrealized that he had been missing something in his life. And that something was definitely Ilira. His armor suddenly feels a little bit ill fitting, too and he has to take a step back to watch her with his big brown eye, blinking. "What? Err a... Name's Ark. What're you doing out here? You gotta be gettin, girl."
Domonico agrees with Valdemar, "Indeed. I will move near to your flagship and transfer along with you, to assist with the orders and the preparation. The sooner the fleet can move then the sooner we can get to the convoy and bring it in to Elune safely." He looks out over the Grim Fleet and nods approvingly, "Very impressive Duke Valdemar. Very impressive indeed."
Ilira shimmers that smile down at him, sky eyes twinkling through her low lashes. "Mm--the pleasure is all mine, Ark. I'm Ayala--only visiting my sister for a couple days, and then all these warnings and rumors of mercenaries see me sequestered here." A soft frown downturns her lips, more a woeful pout. "I love the forest, you know? And I was just coming through when I found my little dear here, Rebel." A slim, pale hand flickers a gesture to the squirrel as it munches on seeds below. "She scented the smoke before I," she admits sadly. "I'll concede to being a cat in my curiosities, so I followed the trail up here." Forlorn as a doe, she settles her gaze upon the dance of flames, then gives a slow shake of her head that sways her curls. "What ever happened, Ark?"
Nodding at what Domonico says, Valdemar smiles as his fleet comes into clearer view. "Thank you. I wish that my Song was here as well, but that damned whirlpool has her trapped in dock at Arx. But the Spear is impressive in her own right, and is meant to serve as the Grim Fleet's flagship in any case," he explains as they approach said ship. Soon, men on the Spear's deck can be seen making ready for their arrival as he goes on to add, "It won't take long once my officers have their orders for the fleet to get moving."
Ilira checked perception at difficulty 20, rolling 1 lower.
When a similar looking man (though not disfigured) pops his head out of the tent, Ilira doesn't notice. He too can make his way right up to them and just as Ark begins to open his mouth he gets a slap on the back of his head. "WHAT do you think you are DOIN', eh?!" Oh gods, it's twins. She's sure of it. And this one is /much/ angrier and looks /much/ more deranged than the disfigured one. He turns his eyes to Ilira next, scowling. "Why you wanna know? You're in the middlea nowhere. Can't ye mind yer own business?"
Back to list