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Author Topic: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest  (Read 2202 times)

Offline SaintofM

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Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« on: November 13, 2023, 03:03:02 AM »
Will try to keep This PG-13ish (American Film Rating, think Lord of the Rings or Dark Knight).


The Hawkseer Cruise: A rite of passage for dark elves that come of age. A year long raiding excursion where commoner that have finished their training and young lords with something to prove test their metal as warriors and leaders alike. Either they come back rich, or the weak is culled.

In an experiment, several lords have put their offspring in a newly finished Black Ark, a floating fortress on the seas, to raid and plunder. Among them three young lords show promise.

Prolog

A dragon headed shadow marched through the halls of an enemy’s tower. Despite its intimidating stature, it belonged to a very giddy elf by the name of Ronan Hydra Kin. His steps still had their kick from his exploits in the heartland of Brettonia. He wished he could see the looks under those helms as he unhorsed one cocky knight after another in their own tournament. To kneel before him just to get their prized horses back.

He even got a favor from one of the Damsel’s of the Lady for his effort. Not bad for a distraction. Add some allies amongst the Wood elves made, how could he not feel good. It didn’t hurt that one of his slaves, the healer Pupila, was the sister of their leader. Had Ronan been like other lords of his people, the woodland prince would have put an arrow in his skull. As it was, Ronan treated her with kindess that was alien in this land. He needed a friend and a healer, not a bedmate. He had that with his fiancé, another Wood Elf that had been once a slave and now his trusted commander over his block of Dark Shards.

But there was that seer he had, a high elf woman soft to the touch. He let her go too, though not before a night of lovemaking she had foretold. He could still feel her touch as he rubbed his lips from the memory.

Such giddy joy slowly died away the closer he came to his destination. His cloak, made by a large sea drake he slew himself, was more than decorative attire; the creature’s horned head and skull acting as both hood and helm. What his elvin plate could not deflect from arrows and bolts this thick scaled hide did. He was going to need every bit of it.

He was in the Griffon Tower, the second grandest one on the Black Ark, and one home to his biggest rival on this joint Hawkseer. He hoped Gorindo would be foolish enough to try to make this war between them hot, so he could have an excuse to slit his throat without reproach. Until then, he had to face a foe that was as patient as he was lascivious.

The final threshold before meeting him was blocked by two halberd wielding guards. Their arms and armor may have been modeled off of the Witch King’s own Black Guard, they did not have their skill or stamina. Nor the loyalty to not ignore a few bloody screams for a few coins. Thoughts that Ronan dashed to pieces as quickly as they came. The two would not be the only elves in the room.

“I am here to meet Gorindo in his war room. I demand entrance.”

“The Master is not yet ready to receive guests” They said, the heavy scent of strong drink on their breath.

“Is this his war room or am I to meet him elsewhere?” Neither guard answered. “His pleasure den then?” Again, no answer. “Am I to wait here or can I sit down with a drink and a pretty damsel on the Harp playing?” Once again no answer. “You mother was a Skaven Breeder, and your father smells of goblin fungus brews.” That got a reaction.

“At least tell me if I am the only one here.”

“You are the first I am afraid.” Said another Dreadlord in the making. Donned in black and greys, with cloak made from the thick scales of a reptilian warrior, he held himself in a tightly controlled reservation. Besides the twin swords of his lordly station, he held his impressive glaive with ease and care. “Or are we the only ones here?

Ronan shrugged. “Dracea is still recovering from taking a Trebuchet. Her enchantments were worth every coin, but you can only shrug off so much from that thing. And then there was the assassin Chersyum took for you.”

“That leaves Gorindo; knowing Mundis he is dealing with the other boot lickers’ hangovers.

“Then shall we enter?”

“No one shall enter.” Said the guard.

Ronan let slip a predatory smile. “I Conquered the northern coast of Araby. And I outran a rival army with their princess they thought was in another castle."

“And I was instrumental in tearing apart these knights along the Woodland realm of the Wood Elves call home.” A rare boast from Lacertus, thought Ronan, but one that undersold what he did. Not to mention the loot captured from the Tomb Kings homeland under his command. “What can you two do to us?”

A solid minute of wanton violence later, there was very little they could do. With the door kicked in, Ronan and Lacertus found more expected disappointment. Gorindo Lay face down on a table, with only two pair of lovely hands massaging his body. Other women, all dressed the part of exotic slave girls, laid about in discomforted positions on throw pillows.

“Do tell me you killed those guards so I don’t have to myself.” Gorindo said as a vertebra popped back into place. Both elves answered by cleaning the blood off their blades on Gorindos’ finest cloth at hand. “So what brings you here?”

“We have a war meeting, that is what.” Ronan answered. “We’ll be leaving Brettonia soon. The Fleetmaster wishes we go over the plans again, and I want to truthfully tell him we did. The Sisters appartently went to their order's Blood Seer; she said to follow our lead.”

“That sounds like it is your problem” Gorindo slurred out.

“We were also to inform you that all pleasure slaves will be removed from your residence, and your privileges in the pleasure district will be revoked should you not comply.” Lacertus chimed in.

Sleepy groans turned into angry growls as Gorindo reached for a dried up bottle. “Fine. What do we need to go over.”

Roan shoved a drunk guard out of a seat and took his place. His boots comfortably slamming onto the table, he brought out a list. “We are still heading to Nordland. At our present rate, and any looting we can do along the way, we should be there in two months. We can handle most threats, but we will need to stop in the territories between the Blood Dragon and the Brettonian King, however you pronounce his name.” Ronan took a moment to see if Gorindo had his eye on the prize or wondering around again. To be fair, Ronan thought, he had plenty of lovelies to be distracted by. "Caution is advised by all.

Gorindo signed, as he stood for all to see his rarely damaged body. Scars from training as a boy faded into the rest of his flesh, while one inflicted by Ronan still had a bright red to it. With one of his massagers hanging on his shoulders like a cape and the other cowering with the others, Gorindo made his way to his well spent wine cabinet.

“You have enough for the two of us? Asked Lacertus. “Thirsty work climbing all those stairs.

“Why should I worry about some piddly knights and their slaves?” Gorindo asked between tossed bottles in the air.

“I do not know which is worse: the fact you are not sharing any of that wine with us, or that you didn't study?” Ronan groaned.

“Blood Dragons are vampires.” Said Lacertus. That Halted Gorindo’s rampage through the spent wine case. “And they say they become the pinnacle of warriors by drinking the blood of dragons. We lack such creatures on the ship, but we are elves; they will assume we have what they want.” More importantly, most come from the knightly stock of this land or the nearby Empire of Man. Prideful warriors that will see us as a challenge to weed out their weaklings and prove their worth as warriors.”

Gorindo muffled a chuckle at the thought. “I like them already. Maye we should hire a few.”

“We can send an envoy, if you wish.” Ronan said. “Though I suspect he’ll come back a zombie. The other problem is the Brettonian capital. The best   warriors of the land are bound to be in the king's personal army. If not them, then several sights sacred to their people we will have take souvenirs from. We will be fighting Grail Knights, and any other champion of this land's so called goddess she can throw at us.


“Either way, we have much to gain. From The undead, they are ancient and well versed spellcasters. They will have grand magical artifacts we can claim for our own. More importantly, all three of us have Sorceresses that dabble in necromancy on their own Hawkseer of sorts. Surly we can curry favor for them by giving them this opportunity? Will we not earn their gratitude for such a deed?”

There were three kinds of gratitude Ronan knew Gorindo was thinking of. Truth be told, they were on any young lord's mind, regardless of of their preferences. Enchantments, lending their own power to their cause long after their tasks were completed, and of course something more intimate. Skilled in the dark arts and full of vanity, few sorceresses allowed themselves to not be beyond the definition of beautiful, and earning the bragging rights of bedding one would be well worth the risks.

“The human element is also rewarding.” Said Lacertus. “He has several squadrons of Peguses Knights. A few of their ilk maybe of good breeding stock for our own Dark Pegasus. If nothing else, the more beastly oriented sorceresses will want them for their on experiments.”

Either way, if they survive the battle even one would earn a handsome reward in gold and pleasure. Dark elves were not void of the desire to give love and affection; it was only overwhelmed by their innate cruelty. Every child knew the one thing a sorceress gave such affections to freely were to their pets, and none were more prized than a Pegasus.

Ronan should know. His first raid on this cruise, he captured one that belonged to a captain of the neighboring Empire. A fine beast that alone garner enough silver to have fifty soldiers guard his tower full time.

“I also have to wonder how much of the tribute this king receive is in wine. Humans are many things, but shabby wine makers are not one of them.” Lacertus added.

“Then we prepare for battle!” Gorindo commanded! “What is keeping us from there?”

“The Ark’s sorceresses need rest.” Said Ronan. “We have been going at full speed for a week, and its exhausting both they and the ships fuel. As soon as we find a hospitable place to land, we can stretch out legs.”

“And who shall face who in this fight, Ronan?” Gorindo smiled at Ronan, a bottle of unused wine in one hand, the trembling slave girl in the other.

“You still have the honor of guiding us through this land. Lacertus has better experience with knights in combat, but also proved himself time and time again against the Tomb Kings.

“As for you, breaking nobles is a hobby of yours, so there is Brettonia. The undead would provide plenty of practice with the common zombie and skeleton, but the vampires themselves are as strong as manticors, and skilled as a true Dreadlord.

“Worthy foes indeed." Said Lacertuss. "But that is the problem. We’ve made enough noise they will be prepared for us. Seers and scouts will know where we are heading, and a flying city is hard to miss. We will loose underlings in this venture; maybe our own lives.”

“You suggest we go cautiously?” Gorindo asked. He took one sip of his wine, before falling into his cushioned throne.

Ronan shook his head. “I suggest we don’t treat this like an afternoon stroll. We need to treat this as seriously as facing against a hero of old if we so much as wish about sailing past Marienburg, much less Nordland and the Sea of Claws.”

“And what should we worry about there?”

Lacertus took his leave without a word, only shaking his head.

“What’s his problem?”

“Haven’t you heard?” Ronan asked. “Chaos is just a whisper away in the far north, and Nordland is very north.”
« Last Edit: December 07, 2023, 09:02:04 AM by SaintofM »

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2023, 11:16:03 AM »
Chapter 1.
It is the first day of Sumertide of the Year 2290 of the Imperial Callender, and my Daughter has now been missing for eight years now. It is too much to ask for the for her to have survived. My tutor that claims to be of the elves of Uthuan has told many a nightmarish story about them. I pray he has embellished them, but I fear he has not. Maybe a small mercy than she has not lived to see her homeland torn apart by war. We have been trapped in the city now fifteen days, with reports of aid coming from Dwarves, and Reiklanders coming too late. The House of Toddbringer has done what it could, but we are overwhelmed. Only the constant infighting amongst the marauders has kept them away from the city.  Our cannons and handguns were all but completely spent on mutants and weakly beastmen, while their strongest warriors await overlooking us. If Aid does not come soon, I fear the nightmare they will inflict upon us. Each day I write in my journal I end it that saying if this is my last day, know that I died bravely. Today, I fear I shall only die.


That was the final words the head of once famed merchant family Detlef Meyer wrote down before descending the stairs to what all assumed was his doom. Old men and young boys were already being enlisted, and common criminals released should they man the walls with whatever weapons they could find. They even stopped caring if a woman snuck in the front ranks to play a man’s role. A man of middle age, he still had fight in him, though he knew his days of being a hero were long gone. Many things in his life were. His sons were out on the other side of The Empire on business. His wife died of consumption. And his daughter, his dear little girl. Captured by a dark elf raiding party.

The Gods had forsook them. All that was left was to have another glass of malt whisky, and to join his Great Swords.

“They have a giant this time, armored like a knight.” Said one of the heavily armored bodyguards.  He was the youngest of them, twenty-eight years of age, but already a veteran of twelve years before this gig. Like the rest of them they fought everything from man to orc, to troll, to living dead. All with fond memories. But the taint of chaos had even these stalwart men shaking. They too, Meyer thought. They too knew this was the day they would die.

“Come men. We dine with Morr tonight. Let us at least regale him with some fine tales of how we came to his gardens.” Meyer said, or maybe it was his liquid courage. Hard to say. Hard to care. The world had passed him buy, and his only family were these band of brothers that chose not to flee.

><><><><><><>

Boulders as large as cows hit the walls until the giants ran out and started hurling the larger beastmen instead. All save for one, who bolt and bullet bounced off. Master Engineer Victor Von Vosk could see sheets of metal nailed to his frame. Some pieces from knights, others from stoves and pots melted and hammered into shape. Even Ulga, his prized cannon could not pierce that monster.

Good thing his brother was a Wizard of the Gold Order.  “Ready to send that beast back to the Chaos Gods?” Von Vosk asked.

“Too far off. He needs to get closer.” No sooner had his brother said this, the ground nearly shook them off the walls. Men fell back into piles of hay, buttresses crushed chaos worshipers at the wall, but otherwise no one was hurt. Looking over the walls, the Wizard gave a haughty laugh and a slap on his brother’s back. “The damn fool tripped and broke his neck!”

“That’s good, Chuck. But what about that one!”

Out from the dust cloud of the fallen, came another giant. Though the yellow glint of bronze showed through, most of it was smeared in the red blood of its trophies. It casually strode forward, biting into one of the still living unfortunates like an apple slice. Instead of the usual tree turned club, he had a fine ax worthy of any great woodsmen.

The ground quaked once more as a burst of speed propelled its shoulder into the gate. Layers of reinforcements held true, but one had to wonder how long it would last.

Chuck cast his spells, but the winds of magic dissipated in a shocking display the moment he spoke their enchantments. “He’s resisting!” He said, casting another with all his might. An explosive burst later, his arm was numb and smoldered. As doctors rushed over, all heard the wails of pain as the giant’s armor glowed white hot. Blue flames erupted around any gap in the plating, leaving trails of grease and molten metal as it backed away. It reached for the wizard in a last ditch of defiance before falling to the ground, smoldering and very much dead.

The beasts howled in anger, but it was music to the ears of the beleaguered defenders. They defeated their giant. They defeated their champion.

“Ha, give us a challenge, you walking mutton chops!” yelled one of the soldiers, to the cheers of his comrades. Cheers that died as the trees shook as if in a hurricane, along with vibrations that slithered their way up the walls and into their spines.

“Ask and ye shall receive.” Von Vosk griped under his breath.

<><><><><><><><>

The roars of lion headed beastmen left state troops with deafened ears as if they just fired a volley of guns. Each man felt the finger of fear sliding up their spine, but they had a job to do. Meyer had a job to do. With hammer, shield, and good old fashion Empire plate armor, he would make his stand. He may have been a privileged merchants’ son, but he did his duty to Sigmar and Empire in the army, and it was time to show these heathens what he could do.

With one final crack, the doors burst open. Goat and lion headed gors rushed in, cleaver and spiked club in each hand. Following close behind were ogres with more than a few signs of mutations. An extra head here, a tendrilled arm that ended in a club there. They broke down the door, but it would be the beastmen that would taste the blood of men first.

“Strike!” With rapid triangular moments, the Great Swords swiped one beastman away than another. They went to battle all but naked to not be slowed down. They had flesh as hardy as work gloves, but it was not enough for flameberge and zweiwanders. Ten of their ilk fell before they could dent their armor, and another fifteen went to their hellish paradise before a Greats Sword gave the ultimate sacrifice. Around them, spear companies pushed the enemy back with pikes, with glaive and boar spear armed men tackling the stronger foes.

Amongst them a captain that Meyer thought little more than a scheming fop fired and tossed highly decorated dueling pistoles until he was only left with a saber and repeating pistole. Each shot made their mark, each shot between the eyes. Three more kills, and it was time to dirty his cloths.

The enemy frenzy spent, fear gleaming in their bestial eyes, they turned and ran. Their dead and dying left behind to the tender mercies of humans forced into desperation. The ogres on the other hand, did not flee. They came for a fight and food, and they had not worked up an appetite. A swing of the club sent three spearmen flying, and a quick kick smashed another man into the gateway ceiling.

Meyer struck back, smashing an ogre’s knee like a ripe melon. The return swing left it dazed and in reach of an awaiting pikeman. The Great Swords Grabbed their blades, giving them the stability needed to pierce the ogres through the gaps of the armor. One by one the brutes fell, one by one they gave their all. In a way, that made Meye admire their bravado. They could not appreciate opera, but damn it he could never call them cowards either.

“I say, dear sir. You think this is more rabble they send our way, or will their best come this time?” Said the Captain. His cape already torn by an enemy morning star, it was only good for wipeing the black blood off his blade.

“I don’t know. I thought we used all the shot yesterday?”

“I have been supplying the front lines with my own personal supplies. I even have my favorite hunting riffle on the wall now. Hopefully the chap I gave it to is a good shot.”

“You parting with that thing?” Meyer couldn’t even mumble the rest of his sentence out. This foolish man, who had little more on the fine than fine drink, fine clothing, and the men in the governor’s court? What was his gain in this?”

“Don’t look at me like that!” the Captain said, reading Meyer’s thoughts from his face. “I too am a citizen of the Empire, and one that has served in her Emperor’s service. It should also be known my manor is little more than a military hospital these days. I can have room for munitions or I can have room for beds and bandages. You pick.”

Warhorns interrupted conversation and the cheers of defenders. The next round of combat was coming.

“Marauders!” Yelled a boy with a telescope. “All covered in gems and gold.”

“Followers of Slannesh.” The Captain spat out. “They won’t do with just a good round of shooting. Boy, get word we have dead and wounded to be carted off. The rest of you, breaks over. Get a barricade up, and do not let them in our city!”
« Last Edit: December 07, 2023, 09:31:45 AM by SaintofM »

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2023, 09:22:12 PM »
Chapter 2.


Gilder’s Field was a small village, little more than a stopping point for merchants heavy with cargo as they went inland to trade. Despite the bleating of panicked animals, and fields ripe for harvest, no one dare attend their business. No one that could was around. There was no plague, warnings of beastmen or orcs, or anything of the like. No it was a perfectly normal village.

Normal save for the shadow that loomed over it. Not from clouds, not from any mountains, but from a floating castle. Houses shook apart as the castle made landfall, and a great ditch large enough to make a large pond come the rains.

The Crown of Darkness had descended upon Fair Bretonia once more.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Ronan and his squadron of knights swore they could see the lines of ageing on the human slaves around them grow deeper as the door creaked open. They expected to be on the ground for three weeks, hopefully this would be one of the things they fixed. Until then, they had their orders.

“Listen up, Druchii!” Ronan bellowed for all to hear. They answered with a hoot and a howled, followed by a slamming of their weapons on their shields. “Let Go over the game plan one more time! We are to investigate the village! Any traps, any surprises left in store for us. The nobility in this land won’t use any underhanded tactics, but the villagers won’t be that stupid. The shades will follow after us to explore the forest. You see something odd, blow your horn. We will meet in the center of town by sundown. Understood?”

“Yes Dreadlord!” The fifteen strong squadron of knights yelled back. Unlike knights of the Asur High Elves or of men, Dark Elvish knights rode mighty cold ones. What these reptilian beasts lacked in intelligence they made up for in sheer brutality. 

“Dreadlord Devix!” Ronan called out to a grey clad elf on a magnificent black steed.

“What is it, Dreadlord Ronan?” He called back.

“My squadron will try to leave you some scraps if we find some fools along the way. Please do us the same curtesy.”

The dark riders gave a salute and ruckus laughter to Ronan and his elves. The coldone was the popular choice amongst nobility, but the horse will always have a place in certain clans. Fast and nearly tireless, the Dark Steed was the perfect mount to scout, harass, and hunt down the enemy.

Regardless of mount, they all waited with impatient anticipation. Nearly a month of travel, with nothing to entertain themselves but the slaves captured, they wanted new blood on their spears and lances. The gate was not fully down before the first knight rushed out. Too late to hold back hot blooded elves and their pack hunting steeds, all Ronan could do was take the lead and follow the path.

It was clean road, with obvious recent construction. Still a dirt road, but impeccably in its maintenance. It should be what he expected, given its importance, but something felt too neat, too clean, too orderly. It only grew worse when they entered the village.

Large enough for forty large families, it should have been the sight of mothers going to the market, daughters milking cows, sons tending to the flocks, and fathers in the fields. Or with a nightmarish castle approaching, disarray from the panicked packing and running. Again, clean as if just built. Not even the refuse from chamber pots or past dinners were on the streets. Even an elf city was not so clean.

But it was the animals that unnerved Ronan the most.  Truth be told, he was not born amongst the Dark Elves, but an inland village of their most hated kin. His mother taught him the healer’s arts, and he used them to tend to the animals that made their town’s livelihood. At least before daemons destroyed it and he was forced to live in the city.

The sheep bleated as if frightened, but wondered about as if in arms reach of a beloved shepherd. Their movements jerked in rickety motions. Their eyes, red gleaming eyes, that reflected light in any manner but natural.

Yet it was how the cold one’s reacted. They rocked back and forth, sniffing the air with causal ease. Jaws salivating, but their heads’ tilted in confusion.

“Damn beasts gone stupid again!” Yelled their squadron’s champion. An Elf with draconic embellishments on his armor, and a lance with not a spear tip but a blunt fist at the end.

“They’re confused.” Ronan corrected. “They see moving animals, but they are reacting to them like they see carrion.” Ronan took a deep breath, and regrated it instantly. The taste in the air burned his throat like strong liquor with none of the perks. “Do you smell that?”

“Of course not, fool!”

Ronan cursed himself. He forgot he was unique in this group. He didn’t need to anoint himself with a noxious paste to keep the cold ones from attacking him as they would warm blooded prey. The same force of will that allowed hydra and harpy to follow him gently did the same with these great beasts.  The rest of the Druchii race needed to make a concoction from an ill odor musk from these mounts. It allowed their nobility to ride such creatures freely, but the periodic applications numbed the senses till taste, smell, and even touch withered away. A sacrifice many deemed necessary, but one that left a glaring weakness.

“Rickek; do you have your crossbow?” Ronan asked.

“Always!” Said a knight. He tossed his lance to a comrade, freeing his hand for a crossbow that would make any hunter envious.

“Shoot that ewe, wounding shot. No legs or neck shots.

“A little early for lunch don’t you think?”

“Just do it!”

The knight obeyed, hitting the sheep. To his and all their surprise, it went through the animal and into the next before lodging into the spine of a third. Despite pain of a twisting bolt going through them, despite the paralyzing hit on the third, they acted as if nothing was wrong.

“What is happening.” One of the lancers asked, his nerves outweighing his prideful demeaner.

Ronan simply dropped his lance in favor of a longsword. “Run.” He commanded.

No sooner has he said thus, the ground erupted with grasping skeletal hands. Zombified ogres and minotours burst their way out of the shambling wrecks of houses, while would be farmers did likewise. From amongst the heard animals, once loyal sheep dogs revealed their dire nature as snarling undead beasts. The forests came alive with the skeletal remains of beastmen and Norscan raider alike.

There was no room to get a good charge in, much less maneuver. What undead survived being trampled back into the grave stabbed at the undefended underbellies and saddle straps. One by one cold one died and knight fell. The lucky ones didn’t have a nearly ton reptile crushing their legs. Others were covered by zombies fighting to opened their canned meals. A few weapon swings and a few more snaps of the jaws, and mor wiggle room was made.

Despite this, the enemy continued their attack until as quickly as they started they stopped. It took the knights a few more swings of the sword or mace before they realized things had changed, even then their training kept them calm. Show no fear, but be the fear is what every Druchii child was taught.

“Headcount!” Ronan commanded. He had a banner, a champion, and a horn blower, and a company of four other knights still in the saddle. Six were walking home if they survived this. Another shoved a dead knight out of the saddle before claiming his mount.

“I wish to speak to the master of this army!” Ronan bellowed.

A wizened robed figure strode out of a nearby church, his lips dripping with fresh blood. The sun did no harm to his flesh, but he was no more alive than the wretched zombies before him. “I bid you welcome.” He said in a dusty voice. “I am Califec.”

“You are no Blood Dragon.” Ronan shouted.

“Neither are you. I wanted to meet with a chapter master of this parts, but he seems to be, occupied. You will have to do.”

“You have a captive audience.” Ronan said.

The old vampire laughed, unnerving the knights more. With each delicate step it looked as if he would fall apart, but march comfortably he did. “That I do. Pity elves cannot be tainted by the red turning; a squadron of you would e most marvelous to have. Alas, I will have to make due with more dark knights.”

“If that is what you wanted, we’d be dead by now.” Ronan answered. "What is it that you truly want?”

“What are you doing here, dark elf?” Califec demanded.

“Hawkseer cruise. Our group is on patrol. How about you?” Ronan answered. “You look like a Necrarch. A Far off from a wizards tower, don’t you think?”

“I am a lost soul seeking vengeance and a return to my home.” Said Califec.

“We have that in common, vampire.” Ronan replied. “And where is home?”

“Why do you ask?” asked Califec.

“Tell your minions to stow their weapons, allow a rider to ride off to the ship to send a message, and I will tell you.” Said Ronan

“Are you mad?” Asked Ronan’s champion. “This thing will no sooner slit our throats than listen to us."

Ronan grasped the knight by the coif around his neck, nearly throwing him off his mount as he pulled him close. “Neither you nor I can face him. Either we send word to listen to his demands, or we distract him long enough for a rider to get an avenging army.”

“Neither sounds fun, but what will make you so sure I will allow this?” The vampire asked, a trumpet like instrument at his ear.

“How about I tell you a tale, one that may truly impress you. Should you find it to your liking, we can be friends. If not, you make good on your promise.” Suggested Ronan. With a wave of the vampire’s hand, the zombies stepped back, leaving an opening for a single file of knights to run back t the Black Ark. “Trumace, ride back to the Ark. “Ronan commanded his standard bearer. “Tell them to send black guard and sorceresses trained to deal with undead. We either have a new ally or a new enemy. Prepare for both.”

He rode off, banner furled in one hand, his hands tightly around the reins in the other. Spurs sparks as they kicked off the side of the reptile’s hide.

“How soon before he says we’re all dead, and makes him sound like the only survivor.” Asked one of the knights.

“Two gold the moment he arrives.” Said another.

“I’ll take that bet.” Ronan announced. “Double if he cannot keep his lies strait.”

“If you trust him so little, why send him at all, little dark elf.” Asked Califec

“Because we are dark elves.” Ronan answered. “You can’t trust any of us. I just wanted the one who would make the obvious lies go first. I suspect the fear when he sees us again…will be sweeter than wine. Now, are we going to talk business, or shall we go back to fighting?”

<><><><><><><>

Ronan and two other knights flanked him as they entered the lone church. Its holy purpose long abandoned for the grotesque experiments of the vampire. Humans and beastmen, all with strong signs of chaos, hung crucified along the walls. Scales instead of skin on one; Snail like stalks growing out of their eye sockets on another. All of them not from this land.

“Do not worry. This village was ransacked long ago by marauders. A kindly peasant woman let me stay with them, thinking I was just a weary old man. When those shackled by chaos arrived, they ripped the town apart. I did what I could, but I was weak from sun and injury. For her kindness I avenged them, raising their dead as my army. I kept the more interesting of their ilk alive for my experiments and as a larder. It’s a shame, but it will be some time before I can go without feeding on blood.”

“I thought vampires lived for it.” Said one of the knights. He held an ax in one hand, and a raven headed Warhammer in the other.

“Most, yes. But as your leader acutely stated, I am a Nacrarch. I can simply feed on the dark magics around me. But I was defeated by a rival. He locked me into my coffin, and threw me to the sea. I thought I would succumb to my thirst in there, but the currents threw me against the rocky shore a little south from here.”

“I do not doubt it.” Said Ronan. “Chaos has been let loose up north. Its pull on the currents must have dragged you along for the ride.”

“No doubt. So what is it you want.” Califec demanded.

“Are you aware of the right of passage amongst the Dark Elves, The Hawkseer?” The vampire shook his wizen head. “Every year when a noble comes of age they go on a year long raiding cruise, along with experience corsairs and freshly trained soldiers of the more common stock. This weeds out the weak from among us, and leaves the rest rich in cargo.”

“Sounds reasonable enough.” Said the vampire. He motioned the elves to a spot in the front pews. The two knights examined the seats, no treachery to be seen.

Taking the offer, Ronan made himself at home. “This one is an experiment to see how many dreadlords can go on a single cruise. We have also brought along a fair number of sorceresses who must compete their journey to Supreme sorceress on our trek. A fair number of them are skilled necromancers at the tender age of under a hundred.”

“Quite impressive.” Said the Necromancer. “And you have been raiding Brettonia with this singular castle?”

“We are making the rounds.” Said one of the knights. “We started in Araby, tore through Khemry, fought in Tillaia and Estilla, an found a comfortable rout in Brettonia.”

“A would tour of destruction. How intriguing.” Califec. “Tell me more.

Too intriguing, Ronan thought. He could not smell the feint whiff of active magic, but something unnerved him deeply none the less. Why else would a group of dark elves be so straightforward with him, despite his very nature. Despite their very nature! This was a vampire, and experience told him they were as trustworthy as your average druchii.

“Where is your home, Master Califec.” Ronan asked. Some dark urge was compelling him to tell more of this trip, more of this purpose, but he needed answers too.

Califec put a boney hand near his bare chin and through long and hard on the question. “Why do you ask?”

“Because our next destination will be in Nordland, plucking both servants of chaos and the so called Empire as we see fit.” Ronan said. Through Gritted Teath, he halted the flow of knowledge but the compulsion tightened its grip harder and harder with each heartbeat. “If we are not filled with blood and adventure, we may go further still seeking gold and glory. Maybe past your old home and the enemy that stole it?”

With a gasp, Califec nearly fell back, and the compulsion released its grasp. Just as Ronan suspected, he had something to do with this. However, now that he knew something the old vampire wanted he could have some leverage.

“Among others on our journey are fledgling beastmasters looking for all manner of beasts to collect for our war efforts. Surly Chaos will have fine specimens of such a nature. You wouldn’t know a good hunting range would you?”

“I am more familiar with Kislev and her surrounding territories. That includes that great mountains that keep the vast amount of Winds of Chaos from spilling into your mortal lives.”

“Hmm.” Was All Ronan could think off. Then a smile spread across his face. “I cannot speak on behalf of the ship, but there are plenty of souls that would want to hire your services. But Amongst the Ark, there are three Dreadlords in the making that have the other nobles and a fair number of sorceresses and beastmasters following their commands. There is Gorindo; a princely lord that is skilled at war, and while easily distracted by a pretty female, learns from his mistakes. He is the most powerful of the three. Then there Lacertus, Heir of a city and the one willing to make concessions and have a roaring rampage as they are needed.

“Then there is me, the weakest off the three. I have but one Sorceress that would be in need of your experience, but the others have dozens that chose to follow them. All will want your time and energy in their training.

“What is it you are thinking Dark Elf?” The vampire asked.

Ronan smiled, Rising with an inviting hand. “Help us fend off the Blood Dragons, and lead us to undeath and monsters to conquer, and we can lead you home. I think we might be able to even retake your home for an additional price. But, on your studies, I have one other favor to ask.

“Name it.”
« Last Edit: December 07, 2023, 10:24:05 AM by SaintofM »

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2023, 08:43:16 AM »
Chapter 3.
Ronan and his knights were already in halfway to the Black Ark when the first stray trebuchet shot nearly left them a smear on the ground. Swearing loudly, he made the command for double time. The Cold Ones needed no encouragement as the scent of blood danced in the air like a lover’s perfume.

The rhythm of war gave it the beat such dances needed. Pulling out a spyglass, Ronan could see the musicians. Skeletons picked up the bows and crossbows of the fallen and strum their string instruments.  Zombies shambled a drumming beat. Somehow actual flutists amongst the skeletal shield wall made a sound. However the Primadonna stood center stage on a giant cushioned platform carried to battle by ghosts. Before her two other lady vampires dressed in high fashion cast their spells and directed the knights to join the area of the performance.

The opposition came in the form of Gorindo, his banner of serpent slithering out of a chalice dotting all around the elvin lines. Fighting both against and along side him were the Pegasus banners of the local Gentry, and their men of arms. Their antics were little more than a mosh, but a skillful one.

Gorindo cut his way into the enemy formation, each movement of the arms left a corpse cut down. A line of undeath waited to be trampled on in his wake, leaving a path for Black Guard to widen the gap. Without any wasted movements, the undead were little more than dozens of parts spread around the ground. A few trolls that were captured lent their aid between snack breaks, usually in the form of peasants. That said, they let out their rumbling thanks to the elves for cracking the bones to get the marrow with ease.

The humans were no slouches either. Their famous Lance Bretonian Lance Formation cut through the undead mass like a bolt thrower. When the momentum was lost they broke off formation, racing back to start the charge again. Lance broken, most of the knights turned to long sword and war ax to finish the job.

Their leader led a squadron of pegasus knights, cutting down airborne horrors with ease. They skipped most of the madness below, leaving that for errant knights and peasants with pitchforks and spears. No, to stop a vampire’s army you needed to cut out the heart of it, literally. With out their will and magic constantly feeding them, an undead hoard loses their strength and returns to a natural state of the world.

However, the vampires were more than pretty faces. With lash and lightning they cast their spells at the knights. Armor rusted, and young men became withered husks in heartbeats. Others were struck by black arrows from a bow. Out of the fifteen strong squadron, only five survive. It was all that was needed.

Speed was enough to pin one of the vampires like a butterfly with a lance. Her sister in arms, struck the knight down, but noble steed avenged him with glistening hooves and powerful kicks. Their mistress, was less than impressed. A flick of the back of her hand, and the beast was spinning towards the ground. A swing of her longsword, and another winged stallion fell, leaving a waterfall of blood in its wake.

The most commanding of the squadron leapt from his steed, sword arcing to smite her in half. A tap of the finger and he missed her completely. With sleight of hand, his throat was open to her stiletto, and he too fell. That left the standard bearer, rushing in to finish what his lord started. Yet in three swings of her sword, his helmet was flying into the grassy field below, and he was in her dark embrace; his blood flowing into her mouth at ravenous speed. The humans were going to need a new plan.

“She needs a total of three vampires to control that plaquing of hers.” Said Califec. “We strike now, she won’t restore her thralls to perfect health.”

“Need us to clear the way for you?” Ronan asked.

“No.” Said Catlifec. “I have all I need here.” A snap of the bony figure and the winds blew a frigid embrace. These were not currents of air, such things a Dark Elf was uses to being of Naggarond: The Land of Chill. Only a sudden shift in the winds of magic could cause this disheartening maelstrom to come upon them.

Those with the gifts of magic could see them, feel them, breath them, touch them as with any other element of the world. Elves, even with weak mystical aptitude like Ronan, or none at all like his knights, could feel its prickly sensations from time to time. Anyone else would need its condensed form, otherwise known as a spell, to notice it.

Unlike the wild magic that seeped into the land like water after a rain, spells of a wizard were controlled; had purpose. One could heal grievous wounds. Another could engulf a battle line in flame. Before Ronan and his squadron, he saw the wizen vampire raise the dead.

Dozens at a time, fallen humans and elves tore off the flesh from their hides as they rose. The skeletal form gripping their weapons as earnestly as they did in life, marched towards the battle line. Sword strikes were blocked as a spearmen lifted its head back upwards. Peasants were tossed aside or crushed underfoot by the newly risen dead. Elves that could not crawl to safty crushed under the marching of Califec new army.

The living that fought through the undead were routing, their bindings releasing them back to the grave. Hopes dashed as more walked passed them, ignoring their feeble swings as they found their master’s prey.

Even Gorindo took notice. One moment he was preparing the skull of a potent skeletal knight on his trophy hooks. The next, he realized the dead had surrounded him.

“Return to the rear line.” They called out with Califec’ haunting voice. “Return. I shall finish this!”

“Who in the name of the Pale Queen are you!?” Gorindao demanded between twitching reactions cause two more zombies to return to the grave.

“I am Califec, a vampire that has practiced magic long your grandfather was on his mother’s tit!” The vampire answered. “I have come to make a proposition on behalf of the Dreadlord Ronan.”

“He’s dead.”

“He is not. Or he would be my champion. Now move as I finish your fight!”

With a sense of whimsy and rare mercy, the dead parted just enough for those that still lived to flee. Knights and peasants back to their Dukes. Corsairs and Masters back to their Dreadlords.

“I will find you later, young elf.” Said Califec.

“We didn’t tell you where we made camp.” Said Ronan.

“You think my eyes are so worn that I cannot find a castle that has never been before in these lands? I shall find you.”

><><><><><><>

Ronan winced as his new wound was stitched up. It was a shallow cut, the little risk of infection delt with burning sting of alcohol. However, the Dreadlord refused to numb to pain, refused to be not have his wits denied to him.

“Stop moveing, you child!” The sorceress scolded. She was a full fifty years his younger, but this was where she held the power over him.

“Can’t you use magic?” Ronan demanded

“Yes, but I need the practice.” She said. “Besides, it will be another handsome scar to add to your others. “That and Tore is dealing with your knights, and Zore must Help Acidia with an accident.

Ronan’s eyes rolled around at a thought. Truth be told, these three were not the only ones under his charge. This was a strange experiment this Hawkseer. Normally a young lord would have their own ship, or a small fleet of them if they were wealthy enough. But a Black Ark was literally a city, and could house more. This Hawkseer was meant to see how many they could have without the decks covered in blue blood. 50 Lordlings, just as many sorceresses, and roughly the same in the upper echelon of the beastmasters proved too many.

They had already spanned a great ocean, had battles facing Arabyans, pirates, greenskin, undead, beastmen, Estillan, and Brettonia. Even then most of the fatalities were caused by other lords on this pleasure cruise.

Survival elected the rise of three great lords amongst them: Ronan being considered the weakest of them. Lacertus was already son of a powerful dreadlord, made him second. Gorindo was son of one of Malekeith’s new councilmembers, and one that was rising the ranks there, making him the most powerful of the three. As such Ronan had a a dozen and aa half souls to his name, none of the beastmasters, to help along. Lacertus more, and Gorindo the manticor’s share.

Looking at the water clock on his office wall, Ronan realized soon be the time to inspect his troops, to see what they perfected, and to see what these children of privilege had learned. Something that was forced to come to a screeching halt. The shifting of glaive blades alerted Ronan to the presence of an uncalled for visitor. Dressed in regal blues and purples of the ship’s colors, one could almost mistake the elf for a wealthy courtier. The two brands on his cheeks told another story of the elf. On one cheek was burned the symbol of Scum. On the other, Fleet Master Red Tide’s personal insignia. This was his messenger, one of high elf decent knowing the lord of the Ark.

“Let him through.” Ronan commanded. The guards obeyed, nearly throwing the elf into Ronan’s throne room. “I am listening.”

“Fleetmaster Red Tide wishes to see all the hopefuls present themselves. All of them, not just the Four Factions you have all elected to be a part of. By Moon rise you shall be there or you will all suffer consequences.”

The forth group he spoke of was less a fraction than a trio of Death Hag sisters on their own Hawkseer. Normally they would not bother with such things, the harshness of a Khainite’s life would see if one was worthy of life. However Gorindo’s father and High Priestess Helebron made a drunken bet. One that the two were eager to win.

“Tell the Lord of the Ark, we shall come within that time. GUARDS! Sound the alarm, and escort him safely back to his master.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2023, 05:57:31 AM by SaintofM »

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2023, 04:58:26 AM »
Chapter 4

Waldstein would live to see another day. The wave of chaos faded the moment their leader died; some say to poison, others from his new bride being a soul devouring succubus. Those that were captured that knew the emperor’s tongue preferred the latter; more fun they said.

Despite the disturbing thought, despite the grand victory, he still felt hollow. Even with word one of his sons was racing back with a battalion of mercenaries, while his other was negotiating for more help, he still felt hollow. They left him one by one in his hour of need time and time again, and now they thought they could come back to him? Bagh! Sigmar smite them.

“Pacing again?” Said a young man in the robes and armor of a Sigmarite War Priest.

“Brother Peter, what are you doing here?” Meyer asked, nearly dropping his whisky bottle.
With perfect aim, Peter tossed a heavy set of keys onto an iron coat hook on the wall. “This is my house. Your family legacy is here. Your family crest still hangs on it. Your things are still here. Only because I took the debt you occurred drinking.”

“Leave me be.”

Peter smacked the bottle out of Meyer’s hand, glass shattering into a hundred shards. With the other he held the man up by the collar. With the motion of that hand, he brought Meye to look deeply in Peter’s undamaged eye. The other remained hollow, its worn scars left for all to see.
“I took your debt out of your hands, I took responsibility for your estate for what you did for my Father and Grandfather. But I did it with cavoites for Lenny and Kramer.”

“How dare you!” Meyer screamed. “How dare you say those treacherous names!”

“Your boys did not abandon you, you abandoned them!” Peter shouted back. “We all mourn the loss of Helga. And I know first hand what those elf bastards can do! I was there! A boy no older than Helga when they attacked!”

“They did nothing!”

“Lenny was only twelve at the time, not much older than her! ANd he did try to stop them; now he a cripple with a smashed knee because of it!
Struck with a cursed weapon that no magic could fix.

“As for Kramer was a seargent in the army fighting orcs in the east. What did you want? To leave his post, to be hunted down and hung like a
criminal?”

“They could have…”

The world spun as Meyer’s head hit the wall. His scalp burned as it was dragged upwards, nearly bumping a portrait off as the war priest went.
“Nothing. Stop blaming them for things they could not do. And for all the Gods’ sakes, stop blaming yourself! Damn it man, if you are so hellbent on destroying yourself, join the flagellants and the slayers as they weed out the stragglers. Earn your good death there. But being here…wasting away, is what no one wants.

Gently, Meyer was set down, but the hard jerk as he was let go told him Peter was had was not done with this topic just yet. Delayed, but like Chaos it would return. A swell of regret, anger, and shame erupted out of Meyer, the word of his family friend cutting deeper than any knife. A feeling that spilled over as he saw the preist of Sigmar turn to leave.

“You are going to abandon me as well?” Myere cried out.

Peter stopped. He did not turn, only taking a deep sigh to brace himself. “Unlike you, I cannot wallow in my own selfpity all day. I will have a guard here to watch you, to keep you from doing something foolish. But I have responsibilities; many you once had before the bottle had you in its grasp.”
« Last Edit: December 08, 2023, 06:03:06 AM by SaintofM »

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2023, 06:10:31 AM »
Chapter 5.

The crafts of priests and iniquitous had the corrupting influence put back in proper order in days. Save for a few beasts that brought a pair of Slayers their desired doom, and a couple more being wagoned off to the Imperial Zoo, everything was good. Everything was clean. Everything was orderly.

“I know I am young, and have not seen enough, but is this normal?” said a highly gilded noble. With his rune encrusted rapier he poked at a dead gore. The owners name embellished in gold gilding on his hilt: Geck Eidechse.

Such thoughts nearly died from the storm of a belly laugh of his companion. “Normal? Chaos? You not been drinking enough, human?” Said a dwarf of sturdy build, even for their people. He chomped on a cigar the nearly the size of a rat, a stamp of the Lizardman City it came from on its side. Besides a jolly good time, the Dwarf also brought the infamous drake gun of his people; a weapon that put the power of a dragon in one’s arms. “Oh, next you’ll tell me all this roasted Bullgors are making you hungry for a good ribeye!”

“I would be fine with Bugman’s Light at this point.” Geck said, the joys of fighting long since drained from his frame. What glory there had been had been brief. The cleanup, on the other hand was taking forever. Though Geck stained his velveteen gloves and his new boots and trousers in the blood of the enemy he piled onto the pyres, his job was to watch the dwarf’s back. Just because the legions of chaos were routed never meant they ever left.

“And I can go for that piss you call Whisky.” Said the dwarf as he lit the pyre and his cigar in one fell swoop. “Tells you how bad this was, right human?”

“Yeah. So how's that family of yours you keep talking about? Your wife has to be on her twelfth month with child?”

“Aye. Dwarf women are a hardy sort, more so than our men, but I tell you pregnancy is pregnancy. Be glad your womenfolk only have to be fat in the belley nine months.”

“I suspect she will need all the help she can then?”

“Pah, my Ma and my kid sisters are helping. If I come back before she delivers, the woman is libel to throw a cleaver at me, yelling: 'You did this to me you fat oaf!’”

Both men let out a good laugh before flagellants brought the dire mood back in order. They tossed a pair of children onto the pyre, one still holding a straw doll. It was butchery.

“I served ten years as a soldier, and another five as an officer. You think I would be used to the horror by now.”

“You never do, human. Never do.” The Irondrake said. He downed a sip of his flask before tossing it to Geck. “I have been doing the Ironbreaker bit for over fifty years now, and I still can’t get over what I see in the eternal dark. Just have to do it so our youngins don’t have to.

“Praise the gods to that.” Geck said, returning the flask. “I think they are ready for another pyre.”

“Aye. Hop to it then.”

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2023, 04:45:38 PM »
Uh oh, going to have to come back to this for a read. :icon_wink: :::cheers:::
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

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"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"Until death it is all life." Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2023, 09:21:45 PM »
Chapter 6A (this is bigger than the charecter limit so this will be split in at least 2 posts).

The residents of Harpy tower made it early, as Ronan commanded them. He was the first to dismount, patting his red cold one Flower. The rest of his cavalry did likewise. Most rode in the back of intricately designed carriages. Others took their personal mounts be it the black Pegasus of Dracea, or their own cold ones, or fast paced black horses. The most unique of Tigrarr’s more lupin mount that could keep pace with the dark steeds. With their commands, their riders commanded their mounts to not feed on the slaves as they took them to the stables.
Ronan looked over the newly minted Masters of the Druchii people. There was Recna, dressed clad in the cloak of a sea dragon like others of the Corsair ranks. Daughter of a shipmaster, Ronan still thought she was too young to participate, but must thought the families dedicated to the sea must grow up fast (too fast for even Ronan’s liking).

Nat Madat was another issue. Despite having a lordly level of pride, his family just elevated themselves to the ranks of nobility. As such he had the most to prove, and the most backs to stab.

Ipan was another matter. He modeled himself off of the mystical monks of Far Off Cathay, saying he might not kill as many with his waxwood staff but he would get more slaves brought back. If only his knowledge base allowed him a group of humans closer to the regions; the ones they actually wanted to raid.

That Left Dracea Skyborn. Truth be told it should be her Ronan was following by rank and prestige; the daughter of high nobility and the favored niece or a Supreme Sorceress so potent even Gorindo was frightened to offend her. Despite her skill with the sword and the lance, she was a sweetheart and more puppy in elf form. Just don’t test that kindness she has or you find out even golden retrievers have teeth.

The children of nobles were not the only charges he had. Of the Covens of Sorceresses, he had plenty of headaches and laughs in equal measure. Actus and Acidia were practitioners of the Lore of Metal, with the former also a methodical tinkerer of warmachines and the later a master of the alchemical arts. The former could conjure a war machine from her backpack of loose parts and make it work without a hitch, while the later always had a potion for the job at hand.

The Twins Norka and Morka were on the road to perfecting seership. They always talked as one, as if the same soul was in two bodies. Ronan wondered what would ever happen if one was separated from the other.

The Triplets Nor, Tor, and Zor were healers first and foremost, but they knew the body well enough where to inflict harm. Their skill, almost unheard of in the frigid lands of the Dark Elves, would make them valuable assets to any lord that could see past their obsession with the natural world and the wild plant creatures they produced.

Tigrarr was another story. A woman more wild cat than elf, she covered herself in self-inflicted scars that resembled tiger strikes. Some say her fascination with the wild things, and her desire to create a beast to rival anything chaos has produced stems from perhaps a lineage of beastmasters. Few sorceresses knew their lineage for sure, but beastmaster always kept a close pedigree chart (anything was possible in this world).

That left the two deathly ladies of nocturnal terrors, Ronan thought. Both elicit fear and carnal desire with ease, and knew how to wield them as a knight a lance or sword. Noctorn shrouded herself in a dress of shadows, while Acacna cloaked her being in a webwork of bone and lattice. Both worked the magics of shadow and death with might, and Ronan still wondered why they chose him as their commander.

Others were less complicated. Two dozen corsairs and a handful of shades of the Headhunter clan served him willingly. As did couple dozen crossbow armed dark shards, and a dozen more cold one knights. They saw him fight like a daemon, even risking his life for them. Most lords would do the opposite, grabbing them to soak up an enemy’s arrows. Since his efforts fighting orcs and taking several cities, a handful of Executioners of the Cult of Khaine also applied to serve him for a time.

Others were longer served. Relik, an assassin of Khaine, was assigned to train, protect, and if needs be, Kill Ronan. The young lord knew he was safe around him, but only because he was no threat to the Dark Elves. Sulfura, Relik’s secret lover and apprentice, and Ronan’s servant, would always choose Relik over Ronan but also fought fiercely for her lord. The two swordsmen Kenel and Lustel were worth their gold in protection.

Then there were the women who supposedly shared his bed. Arhedel, his love, his betrothed, his heart’s desire. Once a slave of Woodelf realms, she remained with Ronan long after he freed her, long after she was given a chance to return to her people. She was his and he hers. As beautiful as her short brown hair, round face, and brown eyes were, she was also his deadly captain of the guard. It was thanks to her that his crossbowmen were up to snuff.

Sepacuna was a different story. A sorceress given to him as a pleasure slave by Malekeith after Ronan had stopped a rebellion; she was a failure of one of the final tests of a sorceress. A test that left her flesh blue as oceans, and her womb baron. She hated and respected Ronan with every fiber of her being for his ownership of her; the only reason he did not lie with her. However her restraints were long destroyed by the lord in the making, and like many he promised to aid her in her own quest for vengeance. Thus far his track record for fulfilling these promises were good as silver. For that reason she tolerated his use of her as a weapon and advisor.

That left his two remaining slaves. Yoofina, a high elf scribe that was ternaly scared of Ronan. Given her last owner, he could see why. To have all the horror stories confirmed about your eternal enemy, and then live through it was more than many could handle. Still her skill with the quill and her memory, blessing and curse as it was, was a godsend.

He could could never discuss bedding her. Even his other slaves, save for the rare ones that demanded of it, he could never. He chose the life of a Dark Elf, but enough of his old life forced him to never do such. A request he gladly acquiesced to.

This would be the same with the other equally important member of his inner circle; a girl of the lands of the Empire and his Map expert, Helga. With her such a subject was out of the question. When one of his newer soldiers suggested his take her already, he was tempted to throw him off a balcony. Ronan refrained from it, but the time it takes to choke an elf nearly blue in the face was plenty of time to consider it.
Unlike the others, her scars were more emotional than physical. She was a child when she was brought over in the slave ships; a child of eight. How she endured it was alien to him. He early didn’’t make it and he was a soldier in his old life. Then to be at the craven hands of her last master…the thought flared up his rage even more.

Good thing Asure Stoicism had its perks.

“Are the other guests the Fleetmaster requested here?” Ronan demanded of a door servant.

“Yes, Dreadlord.” Said a well beaten goblin. Half Ear was the name most had given the creature, due to what a beastlord’s hunting hound had done to it. Like most of its kin, it was still a vicious as a badger but the better part of survival meant it knew how to lick boots with gusto. “Dreadlord Gorindo and Dreadlord Lacertus and their retinue have arrived just a few moments ago.

“Take us in then, Half Ear.” Ronan furthered the request with a bag sack of well marinated pheasant meat.

Nearly Skipping with glee, the goblin motioned the elves to keep up. Something most of the eles were willing to put up with in silence. Most.

“Why show such kindness to such a wretched animal?” Nat Madat groaned. The young lord had many of the features of a proud lord. A hawkish vision and eyes, a shoulder length of black hair, even a well-versed sword arm.

Too many for Ronan’s tastes. “Because any of us could be caged like him. And its nice to have all kinds of eyes and ears in these places.” He told the upstart.

“Bagh, only a fool and the weak would allow themselves to becomes slaves.”

“Are you full of old wine?” Ronan asked the young master.

“At this time of day? Of course not.”

“Then why do you forget that came to this land in such a cage? And that of my bride to be?”

Wisdom clamped Nat Madat’s mouth shut as he slunk back into the crowd. The nearest corsairs gently put an elbow into his ribs, and made fun of his lack of etquite

“Sometimes I forget you have a heart in there.” Said Sepacuna. Ronan was also used to her ability to appear where she wanted to, though it was still unwelcome as any. Unlike Nat Madat, she was within arm’s reach, the distance of a plaything and rival. With a little aid of magic, and a final pin, she finished holding her like a pouncing hawk.

“Shh. If word gets out, my reputation will be ruined.” Ronan gently chided. Any of his subordinates in earshot muffled their chuckles at such a reputation. No lord of the dark elves kept their position by being a weakling, but all knew he preferred to be a softy more times than not. “Besides, I think he knows I am out of carrots for him and tiss time for the stick.”

“Can you blame him?” Sepacuna asked. “The peasant born wants to prove to the inbreds his red blood is as worthy as their blue. Surly you dealt with the same in your homelands?”

“Yeah, but I was happy as a tavern boy. The jockeying for position the nobles played at, ugh, it is so tiring.”

“And this isn’t?”

“Vengeance is a wonderful thing to distract oneself of the tedium. That and how easy it is for your problem to fall down a flight of stairs, into a crate of daggers and no one think anything of it! A tragedy of course, but one less headache.”

“Good. Said Relik with a jolly shove to Ronan’s shoulders. “We’re almost there.”

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2023, 09:22:33 PM »
Chapter 6B

The Dragon’s Tower where the Tricktac Red Tide made his home on the Ark. It was the grandest of the towers on the surface, and the one that was the most heavily defended. It was also the one with the largest room to support the remaining counselor, captains, and Hawkseer participants.

Like Ronan, Lacertus was dressed in royal blacks and purples of Hag Greif, a city perpetually cloaked in a cliff face’s shadow. A Massive glaive he said was model off a weapon of the far east stood firm in his hand, while a pair of swords of his station hung snugly at his waste. Ronan knew under that raiment was a fine set of mail armor for even in times of peace, death was ever present among the dark elves.

Flanking him were his champions and truest of friends Chersyum and Barus. The former was a legendary duelists in the making. The latter a rare sanctioned male magic user with a staff that could turn into any weapon he chose. Closeby was Dea, a woman handcrafted by the Bloody Handed God of Murder Khain himself. She was also Lacertus’ wife, though the two never kept exclusive rights to each other’s bed.  Behind them he could see other lords such as Doromat, a cold woman eager to show the world her worth. Mistresses of the Hunt Armature and Orahanas left few prey not hanging a head on their families’ halls. The last of note was Devex, the Prince of Dark Riders and the finest horseman among the elves many say.

Behind them were plenty of sorceresses, but none Ronan could see if they were going to be of any note in the future, or be like the dozen or so whose miscasts blew themselves up.

That left Gorindo’s pack of animals. There were six of note worth mentioning for the rest died or were little more than toadies looking for a boot to lick. Mundis was a child of nobility with a desire to be the best doctor of the Elves; that way when he went to war, any lord that hired him would want him alive to save their hide. Thanata was another; a charioteer of great renown in the arena but had little in the way or thought or strategy that did not involve swinging a sword or charging headlong with a pair of cold ones. These two flanked their gold armored dreadlord a swordlength away, the space of trusted retainers.

Of his remaining sorceresses there was Ketrog, who always wore a deathmask reserved for High Elf Burials. Ronan had yet to see her in action, but all the stories about her said she fought with an insanity that would make a chaos cultist shudder.

Besides Mundus, if Ronan had any respect for any of them it was a pair of Beastlords that warented it. Ketrog had stared down a feral manticor into submission in the most recent of raids, and claimed it as his own war mount. Effring on the other hand managed to put to the spear a dozen Skaven monstrosities, and the subjection of a scurry of rat ogres. The Hippogriff and three Pegasus were well noted and well worth the trip alone.

All stood at attention, patiently waiting for Blood Tide to shepherd them to their next task. He in turn sat on his humble throne, glaring at the room full of murderous elves with spite and a hint of acceptance. This was as close to high praise they tend to receive.

“Gorindo, Step forward.” Gorindo did, bowing just fifteen sword lengths away from the lord of the ship.

“I want a report of the disaster that befell you outside these halls just a bolt thrower shot away!” All winced at those words. As usual, the Hawkseer participants were incharge of their raids, but as master of the Black Ark, he was master of all on this vessel. It was still his ship, and they all just lived in it, and he wanted to know how his elves, his resources were used.

Like all proper nobles, Gorindo hid his fear better than most elves. A show of weakness was a death sentence in of itself, as all dark elf children are taught. As much of a fool as Ronan thought of him, there was a reason the noble families at home placed good silver on him to survive.

Even his voice showed not of wavering. “We learned from a standard bearer of Ronan’s that he was dead, killed by vampires, and he just survived with his life. We all knew he was a liar and a bad one at that, but sent scouts in both directions just the same. Just as we were to receive word on Ronan’s health, we were informed by a scout that humans were clashing with skeletons just near our ship. I gathered my troops and went for a hunt. Turned out the humans were better fighting men than I thought, and the undead rose as fast as they were beaten down.

“By the time I had reached the center of the hoard, much of my troops were slain, and it was the arrival of another vampire that ended up saving us. I know not why, only it had something to do with Ronan. I must admit this is a second time he has come to my rescue, though I do not know if he intended it to be so.”

“And where is this blood sucking fiend, Ronan?”

Ronan motioned his followers to give him space. Not for the spotlight, but for the potential splash of magic that was aimed his way. Ronan took three steps forward before dropping to a knee, face glaring holes into the floor. “I know not. Only that when he is finished recovering, he will discover us. I suspect he will make himself known soon enough.”

“Come closer and explain what happened.” Red Tide commanded. Ronan obeyed and kneeled next to Gorindo. He told them of the village, the ambush, and the vampire. That he looked like a Nehkrark, a clan of vampires known for their ghastly appearance and magical prowess. How they made a deal, and he followed them to the ark when Devex told them of what was befalling Gorindo.

The hoard of the vampire’s undead followed behind, his own knights riding out to join the fray, while Ronan and his waited on the hill with the vampire. After the vampire’s own forces joined the melee, the vampire dismissed them, telling them what they would conclude their business latter.

“He wishes to recapture his home near the fortress wall of mountains that block out most winds of magic. A place where undead and warp made creatures run rampant.  He wishes us to take him home so he can reclaim his keep from a rival. As I could not speak for the Ark, her Fleetmaster, the Captains, or the others on this Hawkseer, I could not make a promise. However, I suspected in turn, he would be asked to tutor our sorceresses; my only demand being he start with mine.”

“And what makes you think our masters of the dark arts need his tutelage?” Asked a cackling voice that radiated power. Despite her frame and youthful body largely exposed for all to admire, all knew she had to be a powerful sorceress. Why else would every Sorceress on their own journey be on their knees, shivering from her cold stare.

“It is said the necromancy used by the Tomb Kings and the Vampires was first stolen from shipwrecked druchii like ourselves. In the thousands of years, their very survival needed it to be refined, to grow armies by sheer will alone. The Nehkrarks are the masters of this dark art. Humans may have a weak grasp of magic, but how often do you have a being infused with it not from the Chaos Wastes?”

The room grumbled by those that knew nothing about magic save for pew-pew spell make enemy go boom, and the enchantments on their gear. Ronan could do a weak healing spell, making him by default know more than most of the men in the room. “Moreover, many an artifact is taken from beings such as this, as the gleaning of the Tomb Kings taught us. Instead of stealing it, we have one give it to us for a relatively cheap price; all without struggle.

“Second, these sorceresses are all young. No older than most of the lordlings on their Hawkseer. They need someone to make them think outside the box they place themselves in, and one that has lived centuries can give them a perspective without the politics and scheming of teachers with goals that may be counter to their own.

“Amongst those that sought me out, I know two study the darker arts of death and shadows. Clearly one that disdains the sun and welcomes the dead with open arms would have much to teach them. Or those like Actus and Acidia that study the finer arts of the Gold Winds of Magic and how it can be used in our buildings and potions. Surly he has been around or stolen the notes of one that has been around know of such constructive measures? Or Tigrarr, who will bind beasts to her will. She desires to make the greatest creation of magic, something to rival warped created monsters like the manticore. Does not his proximity to the Chaos Wasts, and a vampire’s penchant to making flying hellsteeds not make them a suitable teacher in such things?

“If nothing else, does not the Hag make use of the natural warpstone in her mines to turn dead slaves into undead diggers that need not rest nor food? Should we not find ways to make them last longer so the ore roles freely as heads from Khaine’s temples on Death Night?”

The Supreme Sorceress nodded at Ronan, then turned her frigid gaze to Red Tide and did the same. “Do you trust this…vampire?”

“Dragons below and above, no!” Ronan spat out. “But neither do you, nor do I think he will us. It is not our nature to trust what we cannot control; and when we can control it we trust it as far as we can throw it. The vampire is no different.”

“Also a wise attitude. What do you suggest than?”

Ronan let slip a smile. “I would want experts dealing with his kind tasked with keeping an eye on him. Both from your order and those of the Temple of Khaine. He will need his own laboratory, his own place to teach and study. Frequent slaves to be fodder, maybe some warp stone for experiments or if it is true, to also feed. But to not underestimate him. I have faced vampires in my old life as a high elf soldier. I know even the weakest looking of them can hit an armored knight with the might of a giant’s club. Pale Queens’ doorstep, I saw one take the arm off a giant and beat it to death with it! We must have precaution!”

“Then you shall have it.” Said Red Tide. “I will be at the meeting in which we decide such things as they come. Sisters, what are your thoughts on the matter?”

The three Death Hags stepped forward. They performed Khain’s bloody work with ease and delight, and few dare bother them. Ronan had once rescued two of them from Orcs, but that debt had long since been paid. He, Gorindo, and Lacertus were all just as good on the surficial alters as any captive in war. It was their nature. However in rare cases like this, their minds were lucid enough to be of use in other ways.

“The Asure Born speaks true.” Said the eldest of the three, Eris. She held a sword in her lap that cut through armor and flesh as well as an executioner’s ax through a neck. Unlike most of her kin, she dressed in a way that didn’t rely on Khaine’s furry to keep her warm.  “You filthy Morathi twits need someone not of her depletive mind to teach you. You also need to keep this vampire on a leash. We will offer a pair of assassins and a unit of Executioners to this cause. I hope you are just as willing to send as much, you magical ho….”

“That is enough!” the Fleetmaster yelled, already leaping into a fighting stance; his sword and Kitar out in the air to taste blood.  Any one of sense went to the knee, their hands positioned well away from their weapons. Only the Khainites stood their ground. Only those that lived to kill and little more did.

Tension as tight as a noose, Eris backed down. “My apologies. Seeing one of Morathies’ fickle handmaidens is enough to incense any devotee of Helebron.”

“Part of your Hawkseer is to show you have the restrain of a lord; after all, you already proved battle prowess of one. Keep this in mind when you speak to one with power over you.” Red Tide told them for all to hear in the back. “Yes, Supreme Sorceress Chilrend will supply her own to this; her seers having already foreseen this long before as well as the success of the following:

“These sorceresses have completed this stage of their training and may move on to the next: Years in mercenary service to any that they wish. They may serve them for any amount of time till they are summoned by the Supreme Council of Sorcery for their next phase of their training.” As Gorindo and Ronan were pushed back, a number of sorceresses were told to step forward. Each one accepting a pendent of a twin tailed comet in the shape of a skull; A symbol of their new station.

To an outsider like Ronan, it was just a pretty pendent. To someone the Trio of Life Magic practitioners he had, it was a true measure of success.

The first to hear their names were two of Gorindo’s. Both chose to stay by his side, and each one demanded hefty gold for their service. To the amusement of him and all those next to him, he handed them a pair of coin purses heavy with loot. To Ronan’s confusion none stepped forward from Lacertus’ circle. Of his own, the triplet gladly took their reward.

“We will dictate a new agreement once we are back to the tower.” They said, giving Ronan a hearty hug, before taking their place.

“Of the Beastmasters, I think I can I can talk to them.” Red Sea announced. “Step forward, and take the mantles of your new command!” Once again those that served Gorindo took center stage.

The first to done the scaled mantle of the finest hydra, with a necklace of dragon teeth was the most promising of this year’s lot: Aflictus. He lost an eye to that hydra, but it was worth its capture. The orange and purple stripes would make it a show peace for sure to most lords, but a smart Dreadlord would make it his regiment’s mascot as his sent it after his enemies. The taming of a manticore was another feat, worthy of praise. Just sheer will vs sheer will, it would make him a legend once he returned home.

When he did. Out of the three, only Aflictus chose to stay with Gorindo, and the future prizes he was bound to face. The other two left to gather their things and find the first ship home. They had earned their glory; now it was time to lead elves to retake Ulthuane.

Ronan still held a loyalty enough to these lands to wish it was still a while off, but something as drastic as this ship was proof that was a fool’s wish. He would return home one way or another; maybe then he would achieve his revenge.

A thought that more than evoked such fears when another beastmaster, one of Lacertus,’ took a mantle and left to find a ship.

“The rest of you are dismissed. We shall have a feast on the day this ship is ready to move. There we shall discuss the passage to our next target. Hopefully your vampire is ready to travel with us then.

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2023, 06:35:15 AM »
Chapter 7.

The Map chosen left little to the imagination on where to go. This didn’t stop the unimaginative from constantly asking the same question:

“Why can’t we just go through that pass? Or that one on the other side?”

Ronan took one glance at Helga, and motioned the trembling girl of sixteen summers to Sepacuna. The sorceress had no more love for humans than she did Ronan, but as a slave that was used and abused by the favorites of Morathi, she knew what the girl had gone through; she knew she had a sister in arms in this, and she would protect her sister.

“Axe Bite Pass is being contested by orcs, goblins, Brettonians, the tree people of Averlorn, and the Empire. Even if we could get through that, we would lose half the ark just from fighting alone, and the use of wild magic would drain her fast. Look what happened just going along side that forest’s borders for a week!”

“Yeah, but can’t we just fly over it?”

“Not high enough.” Said one of the sorceresses inchrge of the ship’s black heart of a core. “A black ark like this needs the power of a bound daemon prince to get through that height. At which point, most of you will have nose bleeds and pass out from the lack of air. Not the most glorious state you wish to be in.”

“Also assuming we don’t have a conjured storm throw us in the middle of it. And Wala: We gifted the humans a brand new fortified city to keep their land safe! Can you imagine how thrilled the Witch King would be at such an event?”

Even Thanata could see that, and Ronan had long since given up on him. As a Denizen of Naggrond, he saw first hand what he did to his favorite chariot team for loosing that year’s championship: Flaying them alive and leaving them for the harpies to pick apart. And the Witch King LIKED them.

There was another problem, one Ronan knew their elvin pride overlook. “Besides, if we cross into it we will be entering the Capital of the Empire. The humans may not be much to us, but this is where their main college of magic is, where many of their greatest knights are, and where they have a dwarven arsenal’s worth of artillery. Even if we can survive it, the damage they would cause would make the Ark useless in retaking our ancient homeland. This is to be our flagship leading the assault. Not in port looking pretty for another hundred years.”

“What of the other pass again?”

“Too narrow.” Said Helga

“If I wanted a wench’s opinion, it be for a bottle of wine!” Yelled out one of the highborn under Gorindo’s command. His riotous laughter echoed though the chamber, along with the sound of his bouncing head. With casual grace, Red Sea’s personal assassin walked pass with a song in his heart and a whistle on his lips, and a bloodied blade in his hands.

“Helga is one of the best map experts we have on the ship. It is the only reason I am letting her speak at all.” Said Red Sea, his hand dancing ever closer to his sword.  With the hint clearly taken, Helga was commanded to continue.

“Its only four hundred paces from cliff to cliff. Enough for an army to march though, but a tight squeeze.” She said. Her breathing steady, even she had to take pride in the high praise from the Fleetmaster; and the power she was given over them. “One of your grander sailing ships could not go through it, much less this floating city.

“Besides, we need to be on the water soon. The Ark can be at full strength on the waves, and the ships heading back to the Land of Chill with cargo can finally set out. My Master says you must make room for, for…”

“For the Empire of Sigmar.” Ronan cut in. Long sword out, he traced a rout with the tip of his blade. “We’ll need to get pass this point between the coasts of Brettonia and Albion. High Ef Cutters patrol these lanes, and it will take just one escaping us to alert the whole fleet of a Black Ark is here, much less a new model. Once we do this, we can raid human and orc settlements along the Marianburg. They just separated from their fellow Sigmarites, and have been having a pissing contest with Brettonia; neither will come to their rescue. Our Destination is this city here: a little city called Waldstein.

Helga let out a gasp. The predatory nature of all the dark elves knew what that could mean, and relished every moment of it. Ronan let out a snarl, knowing full well what all were thinking. “Your seers have been telling you the same thing mine has. A Sea made of clawing creatures crashing upon the shore; of green cackling landslide. Of a thunderous people from the mountains. There is going to be a big battle there. Did any of you hear anything from the scouts and scuttlebutt?”

Devix raised a hand. Like most dark riders he hailed from, is clothing was minimalist, black, and meant for all weather. “I spoke with some of the glade riders of the Asri your lover comes from. They say their cousins in one of the great forests up North, perhaps this region, has been dealing with chaos so much they have not had time to deal with pesky Sigmarites. I suspect a push from chaos may have struck the area. Despite the size and magnitude of damage, they were pushed back too easily they say. There will be another invasion.”

“The Thunderous Denizens from the mountains, I am guessing dwarves or Skaven bringing their artillery.” Said another noble. A true Lord like Gorindo if there ever was one. However to live this long in this Hawkseer meant he had to fight like a daemon like the rest of them. “My family specializes in harvesting dwarven holds for cargo of gold, runes, metal, and flesh. They use black powder like we use magic. Best pay the shades extra to take that out when they arrive.”

“If not already.” Said Devix. “An army’s worthy came in to rescue their human allies. Maybe more are coming, or this is the thunder.”

“That leaves the green rockslide.” Said Gorindo, kicking Half Ear as he went. “I can thin of only one thing that could make that.”

“An Orc Whaagh.” Said Lacertus. “I am sure they say it louder and with more flehm coming out of the throat. And I could use a new pair of orc hide boots.”

“Humans, Chaos, us, Greenskins, Dwarves, and Woodlander kin that my bride says are as violent as a Witch Elf in the Time of Blood. Its risky, but we can probably pick some of them off if we stick to the edges of the conflict.” Said Ronan.

“Or we at more mercurial.” The whole room turned to see if Gorindo had grown a second head saying such things. “Hear me out.”

“Can have bowls of snacks passed around first?” Asked Ronan.

“I am serious, you weak blooded dark blade.”

“Fighting Words after he saved your life?” Asked Mundis. “Do you wish to make this war between the two of you more than a pissing contest?”

Ronan’s fingers danced around his cutless’ hilt. “I can keep this sheathed or we can sheath our blades in in each other. But I will not wait for an answer this time, Gorindo.” 

Every elf in the room was of two minds: To run and to place bets. Those that place bets ignored the danger of two manticores in elvin form stared eachother down. Those that saw the danger for what it was turned tables and braced for impact.

“Keep it sheathed.” Said Gorindo. “Have the Blood Price for my indiscretion paid to his tower.”

“Accepted, in full.” Replied Ronan. “What is your plan?”

“We hire ourselves to one of the parties.”

“Empire or Chaos than.” Said Lacertus. Like most of the elves, he hid behind a century old table, and used a bowl as a helmet. Also like most of the elves, he tossed a handful of coins to a winner of this bet. “Dwarves won’t work with us if it meant gaining a mountain of gold. And the Wood Elves I too have heard are vicious beyond compare. A Expedition a thousand strong from the Hag went in, and the only thing that came back was a mangled corps hung like a scarecrow at its edge. No hydra, no cold one, not an elf, not even the Dreadlord’s Black Dragon came back alive.”

“Given the nature of Rockslides and greenskins, I they may be trigged, but I doubt it will be from us.” Said another child of nobility; a woman of cold demeaner and an ever polished crossbow with her. “Best keep an eye on them.”

“The denizens of this Nordland territory may be desperate for aid. I suspect they may even have our other cousins there.” Said Nat Madat with some leering pride, much of it aimed at Ronan.

“If that is the case, will it be a Armada or simply a token relief force.” Ronan said with a glare of his own. “The latter will hardly be worthy our time to deal with save for the fact they may alert a larger fleet. As for the former, our fleets will loose the surprise a ship like this will have in the coming invation, but we have yet to see it in a true sea battle itself. Even without them to worry about, the Norscans and any other tribers further in Chaos wastes will be numerous.

“Fleet Master, what are your thoughts on such matters?”

Red Tide weighed his options. Ronan knew blood, gold, and glory was to be found in any of the extreams, but what would the coast be? “We will see when we reach them. I prefer not to face a fleet of Asure until the time we can enact true vengeance for our ancestors. I will not runaway from a fight either. Prudence the better part of valor. We will test the Ark’s metal on the forces of chaos. After we weather that storm, we shall know how to improve our tactics with it. Until then, pay your seeresses triple. We will need their sight.

We will be ready to float in three days. In that time my on scryer says we need to have a tower ready for the vampire. Anything else we should know about him?”

“I told you about the church, his surprise, and even rescue of Gorindo. I would not put it past him to have other surprises.” Said Ronan.

“Good. Dismissed.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2023, 06:54:20 AM by SaintofM »

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2023, 07:18:59 AM »
Chapter 8.

The forest came alive with spawn, mutant, and any other forsaken thing of chaos! Ancient trees fell as these brutes pushed their way through. Walls that stood for a century of weather, war, and magic, crumbled in their stampede.

Only a barricade of sharpen posts tied together held any chance of stopping them for a little while. Spread out, these hedgehog like blockades held the more frenzied back until blood loss and impalement could finish them. Chain and canister shot tore apart armored and unarmored foe alike, while men and dwarves armed with handguns finished the rest. Three waves attacked rushed in, each one over a hundred strong. Each one doomed to die before steel could clash.

While cannon and gunner reloaded, a fourth wave prepared to sweep in.

“All right you sorry sods!” Yelled an imposing figure amongst the dwarven slayers. In place of hands were flails bolted onto his arm stumps. “We either find the doom we desire, or we earn ourself the best to drink this city has! No Surender! No Mercy! And no falling back!”

With the lighting of a rocket battery, green flairs filled the starless night with an eerie glow. One managed to hit the enemy swarm, disorienting a few before they returned to the business at hand. With the sound of trumpet and drums, Slayer, flagellant, and even a few mutants permitted to live near the city rushed to greet their gods with honor.

The two waves of warriors collided in explosion of flesh and blood. Claws ripped throats and bellies. Hammers and flails smashed skulls. Axes severed arms and heads. Swords hacked and stabbed. Blood of every shade was spilt. Few abominations of the ruinous powers managed to get through, and those that did were met with Hachland Rifles and a new fangle dwarven rifle to best it. As usual, the Dowi been perfecting it for three centuries before they dare do “field testing.”

“Ha! This beats burning bodies any day, eh Human!” The Iron Drake bellowed between swigs of his flask. This was the second time he and his weapon needed refilling as he called it. He and his brothers in arms were itching to have another crack at the enemy horde, delirious with tedium and boredom.

His human companion was less enthused. “This is your idea of fun?” The young Geck shrieked.

“You get used to it Manling.” Said another of the iron drakes.

“Part and parcel for the job.” Said another.

“Anyone seen my box?” Yelled their commander; a short but burly Dowi, even by their people’s  standards. Lovingly held in his arms was an oversized rocket gun. “I can’t see anything over this damn wall!”

“We’re running out of doom seekers.” Said Geck. “Should we not fall back some?”

“Not yet.” Said the Irondrake that called Geck friend. “Not until our rangers and those forest elves come in to relieve us. Ganna have them tree boys carry the cannons so the enemy do not use them.”

“Think they are smart enough to do that?” Asked Geck.

His Iron Drake friend, stowed his empty flask and slammed his face plate down. “Surly you have engineers that left for the callings of the dark ones. If not, surly they hired our thrice damned kin that worship bulls!”

“Bull worshipers? Think we’ll make a steer out of a few of them!” Geck asked, his pistoles loaded and aching to fire.

“Ha, I owe you a drink for that one!” His friend bellowed. “After we kill them. Light them up!” No sooner had he said this, the roar of cannon and musket filled the air. Even with Ears ringing, they could still hear the war cries of the damned approaching. “Second volley!” Another round of shots rang out, dropping more of the monstrous hoard. “Close range!”

The commander’s rocket fired first, impeding itself in a towering mixture of ape and cat. The creature looked down in confusion till the ordinance reduced it and some of its fellows to blackened chunks. Drake guns fired next, lighting up the night with their flames. Enemy mutant and forsaken rushed forward till flame eroded their ability to run, much less live. Between gouts of hellish death, those armed with pistoles and blunderbusses let loose their own payloads, followed by more handgun fire.

Dowi eyes could only see a handful of the enemy now. Confused and disoriented, those that did not flee turned on each other. Only a few more cracks of gunfire put them out of everyone’s misery.

 As the last enemy fell, the forest came alive again, this time with friends. Treemen and elves rushed in, crushing any foe that was wounded. Dowi rangers assisted by keeping an eye on the darkness, throwing ax and shooting crossbow ever on the ready.

Further back, Treekin lifted cannons or loaded wagons with the gear and wounded before hauling them further back.

“Come on Human.” Geck’s friend called out to him. “We’ll live to fight another few hours it seems.”

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2024, 09:26:03 PM »
Chapter 9

The sun set with extra weight this day. As if its usually decent over the horizon was dragged by giant digging insects filling their larder. One the last rays disappeared; the true horrors could begin. Fists and swords burst out of the ground as the unholy dead rose again.

The corruption of chaos that soaked these lands had restored Califec to a near full strength. He still looked like a dried husk of a man at his best days, but that was the price to be of this clan. Besides while Von Carstines sought power, Lamias sought beauty eternal, Blood Dragons glory, and Strigori their next meal, his ilk sought the truest form of life: Magic.

It was his life blood. It was the life giving sustenance he craved. It was his everything. As the ground rumbled with a new terror of its own, he could only smile as his cravings were to be fulfilled once again.

A dozen chariots, and thrice as many knights arrived in quick succession to the vampire’s location. Their horse scouts and those lurking in the shadows he could smell even before his emergence. Camping out over his resting place for days; how dreadful Califec thought. Such a waste.

“I wish to be granted the privilege of speak to the captain of this ship, and your underlings.”

“If you speak of the Dreadlords, they await you in your tower.” Spoke one ins simple garb save for a gold crown with a single flawless Emerald.

Despite humble appearances, the Califec could smell the prestige on him. This must be the captain or admiral, or whatever you called a general at sea. That was not Califec’s area of knowledge, not one he cared for. And if he had it his way he would remain far away from the sea until the end of this miscible little world. “A tower you say?

“Yes; Black Arks always have many spires dotting the highest portions. This one you will claim is not much; still in ruins from the chaos cultists we drove out of it, but should have the room you need to work. And your privacy should you desire it.”

Califec’s glowing eyes could see him in the torchlight, standing proudly amongst horse pulled chariots; their crews all pointing heavy crossbows at his heart.  “Crossbows? Oh my, my, my! Arnt we the clever one. You think this will be enough to stop me if I decide I want to eat your heart instead?”

“They are silver tipped; Insurance of mutual destruction.” Called out the Fleetmaster. “I am Tricktac Red Tide, the Fleetmaster of the Black Ark Crown of Darkness. All her ships, all her denizens, all her slaves and beasts belong to me. I will grant you an allotment of servants to tend to your will, and slaves to be your fodder. From there, anything you desire, I will see to it the best of my abilities can be granted to you; within reason of course.”

“We are beings of reason, are we not?” Celific called out. “Take me to my temporary home.”

With a raise of a hand, a skeletal steed with bloodstained barding rose out of the dust. Most of its flesh still cling to it, sloshed off in maggot writhing piles with each trot. Floating to the saddle of the once mighty stallion, he and his own army of the dead joined the dark elf forces.

The air of tense with treacherous anticipation. Both sides knew what they were dealing with, and both any moment this alliance of convenience would end in a gory fashion. Both parties also wondered who wanted what more.

An answer for another day as they entered came to the doorsteps of the ship. “My my, what a wonderous thing. May I enter her?”

“You may.” Said Red Tide. “For as long as I find you useful. The moment that stops being the case, either I throw you out of my ship or I will feed you to the beasts at the heart of the ark.

“Understood, Fleetmaster.” Celific replied. Dismounting, he moved between ranks of all black clad halberdiers. The infamous Black Guard, the vampire mused. The Fleetmaster had his own personal guards with similar spiky attire and weapons, but it was so easy to tell the facsimile apart from the true machines of murder. The quiet confidence, the rigged restraint of their abilities, and the utter fearlessness they held. Just one little excuse to let loose would all it would take for ten of them to turn hundreds into more bodies for his experiments. What fun they would be as his death guard.

“I know what you are thinking.” Said one of his escorts. “And the answer is no.”

“What could you possibly mean.”

“You’ll see when you enter your stately tower”

The tower in question had indeed seen better days. It didn’t take long for the vampire to fathom it was a panicle in its day. As is, slaves toiled to remove rubble as new pieces crumbled and fell upon them. The skulls of traitors, and prominent enemies decorated the spiked fences, each with a permanent scram on their dried husks. Chaos sorcerors there. Human necromancers there. Elvin dreadlords on this section. A Beastlord on another post. And of course, the hollowed out skulls of vampires.

“So last century. We moved on to ones that talk and tell jokes.” With a clap of the Blackguard’s hands, the skulls did just that. “Cozy.”

“Wait until you see the inside.” Said Ronan. He was covered in guts of some sort of vaguely blood smelling liquid. Despite how hollowed out the vampire was, its stench managed to even turn his stomach. “We have the lab set up. Excuse the mess…there was a chaos spawn hiding in there.”

“How did it…hide?”

“Who knows. Guess one of the four gods thought it should be sneaky.”

“Very well. May I see your sorceresses that wish to study.”

<><><><<>

The laboratory was quickly set up with all the supplies a practitioner of the dark arts would need. Viles here, chemicals of dubious safty there. Even cages for live test subjects. Some more vicious than the others. The wine celler had his fodder of slaves for feeding, while those with spiked collars were for catoring to more mundane means. As a chime of a great bell rung, assassins made themselves known, and black guard moved in and art at the shift change.

The crown was a makeshift skylight, a hole seemingly kicked in by a dragon really. Experianced sailors folded a new mast over it, then pulled it back as the Vampire commanded. In the perfect place, a large telescope  looked skyward.

“Marvelous. Marvelous.” Calefic said, almost ready to learn how to blush again. “This is trully marvelous.

“When it comes to the study of magic, you will find elves are not as half arsed as humans.” Said the Fleetmaster. “And I had my ship’s best organize its set up.”

“Marvelous. I shall beguine immediately. I will write a list of my own needs soon enough. May I see the hopefuls that wish to study under me?”

Gorindo made an attempt to step forward with his band of casters, but a gentle wave of the vampire’s  hand pushed the Gold Armored elf into a puddle of ill-defined ichor. “Unlike most mortals, The Hydra Kin has kept his word. Thus, I shall keep my end of our bargain. Now, I again ask for my students along the road to Marianburg?”

They stepped forward, each with their own list of needs. After a few moments, he sighed, and took a drink of wine, perhaps the first in centuries. “I need cask of dwarf blood. A Rundlet if you will.”

“That is going to be a heftty ask, but I have some slayers in the arena this afternoon.” Said Tired Tied. “Why?”

“You take a look at their projects and tell me if you can do it sober!”

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2024, 01:04:05 AM »
Chapter 10

While many an ark born elf waited anxiously for the rising of the great city ship, Ronan was in dire need to hog one of the tower’s toilets. A series of pipes lead the refuse to a cesspit where it would be divided amongst slaves to be refined into fertilizer, or feed for a handful of pet daemons and chaos spawn of Nurgle’s making. Today he would be making quite the contribution to the filth.

“I thought you were a sea elf back in Ulthuane?” asked Relik as he waited outside the privy, a cloth pin tightly clamped to his nose.

“I was an Inlander as the city folk liked to say, and I served part of the time on normal ships. Ships! Hell, I was even on a zeppelin once. This,” Ronan’s words halted as his gag reflex nearly strangled him. “This, ugh, you can have it.”

“It will be smooth sailing once we are on the ocean in a day. From there we raid the coastline again. Have you talked to Helga?”

“Once or twice a day. I run into her for, oof, work reasons.”

“You know what I am talking about, Fairoun.”

Ronan felt like he heaved most of his guts, stomach, intestines, and all just by hearing his old name. A dead name. “Now isn’t the, er, time!” He managed to spew out, amongst other things.

“Then when it?” Relik asked. “When we leave L”Angulle for the coastline of Couronne? Courrone for Marianburg, which we will plunder? A City of her people? People that speak her tongue, share many of the same accents? When we send ships home from that plunder there and wait for the other fleets around the so called wastelands as the humans dub it? Beastmasters will grow board hunting Jabberslyths and ungor warherds sooner than later. And then we get to Nordland.”

“I know.”

“You should also know that we have foreseen us clashing not with a cutter but a princely vessel of the Asur. Its not the one with the banner you want. Its proper Cothiquan, and with the Green Prince’s banner. And we will be boarding it.”

“When did you…” Ronan couldn’t finish that sentence, much less breath.

“The Triplets are already coming up with tonics and other medicin. To change the subject, was it wise releasing Pupila from your charge if you are going to feel like this WHEN we get go overland again?”

“She was given a proper choice. She deserved that long before she met me.” Said Ronan. “She didn’t choose her road to hell. I did. And I will either live with it, or my head returned to my old people on a pike.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I paid some good coin to find that Ausre Princeling that sold your city out. He’ll be in Nagaryth protecting the borders from our onslaught. Think on that as I see what is keeping the sisters.”

Removing the pin, he tossed it into one of the trash shoots that full of other things for the slaves to dispose of. A glimmer in the eye told him Helga was holding her breath. She had heard everything, and she had to know. Her mind may have cracked, but she had to have enough wits to know how it was meant to be. Even he had to pity her.

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2024, 07:07:42 PM »
Chapter 11.

Puddles of Sludge turned the dead ground into a slurry of infected ground. It was a sad day to be had for Wargor Kimry was slain. A dwarven Slayer of the highest caliber killed him with his dying blow. With nothing but a pair of broken Halberds, the dowi managed to earn his right to join the hollowed halls of his kin. As for the legions of Chaos, all that was left to do was reform and retry.

Sitting upon a leprous horse the size of a Clydesdale, a great Sorcerer wondered where they went wrong. Was it joining forces with the beastmen? No that was not it. Joining with them from time to time had done Papa Nurgle’s work of despair and devastation plenty of times. Those that remained, those hit by the joyous plagues would come back in the next life as his Plauge Bearers, or give in to the gifts Nurgle freely gives and find true purpose to life.

Was it the combined efforts of those who chose all the many paths of Chaos instead of the Proper way of Nurgle? No, it was not. Even one as mighty as the Plauge Father knew that there were specialties better left to his brothers. It was not quite time for a proper Everchosen to arise, no not yet. One promising was on his way, this Archeon, but still needed to prove himself. But the Sorcerer Lord had Joy in knowing he had it in him. One day when he grew tired of testing his metal against the other servants of Chaos, he would unite them under his banner. Until then, he must grow and learn as all Chosen of the Ruinous Powers must. This was but a sampling for these children.

Was it following Kimry? Perhaps. The damned fool of a Wargore was of little brains long before a marksman’s bullet cleaved through it. Gods must have loved him for him to survive at all, much less long enough to gather and lead a warherd across their Sea of Chaos. The Mauraders and other once human warriors of chaos often paid such creatures little bother till they needed a meal or cannon fodder, but the will of the Ruinous powers were with him. How could they not follow? How could they not follow?

Now the sorcerer was privy to the battle between the chieftains that followed his lead. One would prove victorious, and the rest would submit or be slaughtered. A pair of minotours were already fighting over one of the hopefuls to the amusement of the riotous spectators. But soon enough, a victor was chosen, the severed head of the last foe with the will to fight tossed into the sacrificial pit.

“Me War Chief! Me, Basakar, Chief of ALL!” Cried out the victor. In the excitement, the others joined in, and rushed in for the feast! Starting with the strongest, the chieftains, the minotors, and the armored clad beastigores. Only when they had their fill or found a female giving off the desires to carry his calf did they allow the rest of the gors to have their fill. Mutants of all manner of station filling in the gaps between, many what the beast folk called “Gaves” for the civilized folk abandoned their clearly blessed child to the wilderness. They had given them a child blessed by the dark gods, and they would cherish this warrior, horns or no horns. The malnourished ungores would follow, taking what scraps were left, leaving those beastmen born hornless what little was left.

It was as the Children of Chaos always were, and would always be. It was how even the most benign of the Chaos Gods desired it. For the strong should prove themselves worthy of life, and the weak swept away.

As the sorcerer was tempted to join in the revelry, killing a few as they oft tried to stop him, a familiar chirping alerted him. With outstretched arm, he let the harpy land on his arm. Taking the shape of a feral woman of feather and wing, most were no smarter nor cleverer than a half-starved hound. Yet, with bestial cunning flocks of them knew to pick off stragglers, and to separate the old, the young, and the sick away from the rest of the herd. Be they deer, beastmen, or humans in their so called civilized lands.

“Report my little song bird.” The sorcerer gently cooed.

The Harpy smiled cruelly. “It is as you have foreseen. Slannesh has called for most that serve the Prince of Desire westward, over the lands of the Dark Elves. She wants the souls of the elves, and the Dark Elves have made a pack; a joint venture into Althuan. They prepare a mighty fleet even as we speak.”

“Good.” The sorcerer said. Many would be surprised by the creature’s skill in oration. He certainly was. Had she been hatched closer to a human settlement of Norscans or one of the other countless tribes of the Northmen, she may have been taken in by one of their wise women, or shamans. Trained in their art, who knows what she could have unleashed. Alas, maybe it would be one of her daughters that would have such an honor. “And the others?”

“Khrone relishes another chance to clash with the Nordlanders. He only waits for his warriors to lick their wounds. He sends his armada to stall the High Elf fleet from lending aid. He will no doubt loose, but the elves that remain will be of little help. Tzeentch is also coming. They had hopes more would be slain so they could claim the final glory, but will now have to work with us.”

“Good. Tonight we feast, we mate, we revel. On the Marrow, we gather what has been scattered.”

“Yes, Father Hollov.” The Harpy said, bowing and spreading her wings in a kind of curtsy.

“Soon.” Hollov thought. “Soon.”

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2024, 09:16:10 PM »
Chapter 12.
Fifty Years ago
Drinking stunty brews out of stunty skulls, Warboss Groskix sat on his pile of loot like a king on his throne. His big uns sang their drinking songs to the furry of the handful of dwarven prisons taken captive. It also helped keep rhythm for the black orcs repairing their gear. This was a good fight, but not one he intended. He was after ratsy Skaven, not these hairy sods. After all, it was a skaven sneaky git that killed his favorite squig and his parade of snotties. Nothing short of a WHAAAGH! Would satisfy his anger, and this gits kept him from it!

“Bring me a slayer!” Groskix bellowed. The jeering delight of the mob, a pair of night gobbos shoved the next Slayer forward. One of five that didn’t meet their desired doom, he spat at the foot of the great war boss. “Yous I understand wantin’ a scrap. I’ll give it to ya. Give him a proper choppa, the kind Black Orcs likes.”

 Confused, one of the heavily armored brutes tossed a great ax to the slayer’s feet. Without hesitation he tested it on the two gobbos, cutting them both in two with one swing.

“That’s more like it!” Groskix bellowed hard enough for a peace of gobo to dislodge from his back tooth and into the Slayer’s face. “Now, shows me what you got, Stunty!” A cleaving sword in one hand and shield in the other, the Warboss was ready for a good time. Unfortunately it was a short fight. The stunty got one good swing on the shield before he was yanked close. One good stab and the slayer was skewered. A good swing, and half went one way, the other half went another. “Next!”

Three more Slayers tried their luck. None managed to last longer. Then the fifth and final slayer came. He took a spied club and a proper choppa blade from a pair of black orcs, and bellowed out his own challenge. His hair greased up to look like a spiky club, The Warboss thought this was going to be good. He wasn’t disappointed.

The swings of the weapons were well practiced, not some wild abandon like a Savage Orc. No, this was a good fight. This Stunty knew what it was doing. A good swing of the choppa, and the shield was cleaved in half. Another good swing of the spikes, and his leg really hurt. The Stunty smiled as he leaped, thinking he won the bought, but a good headbutt sent him back.

Sheild tossed to the scrap heap, Groskix yanked the club out and tossed it to the Slayer. “Not that easy, am I?”

“Shut ya trap and fight!” The Slayer answered with more than just words. He tossed the club at the Orc. Faster than the average orc, Groskix grabbed the club. With a good swing, he bashed the stunty’s brains all over the cheering crowd.

With a mighty yell, all stopped. “Burn the bodies of the four that didn’t fight well. Bring the prisoners. Give them grub, dar weapons, and let them go home.”

Angry bellows echoed through out the crowd, until the Warboss showed all why he was inchrge. A dozen black orcs, five big uns, and any gobi in sight latter, they all backed off. They all kept their traps shut.

“You send a message to the rest of ya hold. I looking for ratsies. You come fight me again, and I willz change target! Now gitz out, before I changes my mind!

“Besides! We gots ourselves a true Warboss of the Stunties. You don’t like dressing all fancy, but I knows yous be Balder, Son of the Mountain!” Even the black orcs felt the need to bow at that. The stunty in question stepped forward, pride shinning through his one remaining eye; the other had bled out more furry than it did blood. As Groskix thought, instead of fine raiment and furs, instead of gold and gems covering him like many a stunty king, he was humble. Weeks old grime were his décor. The dried blood of his enemies was his embellishments.

“I’m letting you go with yous boys because you put up a good fight. No, a GREAT ONE! Sod it, you could have your own WHAAGGH! and we love every moment of it! Finding good enemies is tough. So I want you to go back to your hold, to get better. To Lurn. Because when I get that Rasty bastard that killed my Snotlings and me Squiggy, I’m going to need a new enemy! You gets me?”

“More than I like, Orc, But I do.” Said the Stunty. “And you better bring the same kind of fight, no, better than you did here or I am personally telling Mork and Gork you got soft!”

With riotous laughter, Groskix kept his word, killing a couple of orcs that didn’t think he was serious. Another reason he let the stunty go: he could make him laugh.

<><><><><Present Day><><><><>

Balder Son of the Mountain made his grey beards double their efforts to build back the outer walls of this human city they came to save. For every moment they were grumbling and not working, he threatened to take away their good beer and give it to the beardlings. To took tossing a butt of it to a grateful ogre mercenary for them to realize the famed engineer and Lord of the mountain meant it.

Others might fiddle with cannons and organ guns, but he liked making good sturdy foundations. They were going to need it in the coming battle The grandfather of his grandfather told him when those Chaos fools came such numbers, there would be more. The Evil Moon touched maniacs in the woods his Slayers earned their deaths in were one thing. But this? There was a sickly feeling in the air that this was only the start.

He wished his son would be here, but he had to defend their hold from that blasted War Boss. You’d think he’d be a good little urk and die already. But no, he had to be the size of an ogre tyrant at this point. His boy was a good lad of thirty, but he was too young to take the throne should he die. Thankfully the boy knew this too and chose two respected dwarves to be chosen by him should that time come: one to lead the boy, and one to lead the Hold. He would need both of them.

The King’s old bones could feel it. The grumbling of the Greybeards awoke him to more pressing matters. While they bellyached at having to put up with elves, and manling craft, he shook his head. After all his passion was in building the walls to keep their families safe. Being their King was his responsibility, and they were forcing him to take it up again.

“I said get back to work!”

“Bhh, we ain’t even part of your hold!” Said one of the greybeards.

“But you are working on my wall! So stop your grumbling like a kicked gobby or I’ll give you something to bellyache about!”

“And listen to an orc lova?” The other dwarves backed away, while any human in sight used the wheelbarrows and buckets as their shields.

“Care to repeat that?”

“I heard about you being caught by Groskix, and he let you go like some old friend. You telling me you and him aint an item?”

“I will give you one chance to take that back or you better grab you ax!”

“Or what?” A headbutt and a punch to the gut later, and the veteran found out. He looked up, seeing balder spin a shovel in his hands. It was an old Dowi trick to find the right grip. To find the right place to make it a weapon. “Now wait…”CLANG! He was down for the count.

“Anyone else?” Nonee dared more. “Good. I am going to report to the elders of the Temple of Sigmar; they seem to be in charge of the next part of the project. When he wakes up, I expect him to him to be groveling or to be shaving his head. Either way, he will not be working with me!”

Without guard, without the ornamentation

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2024, 12:09:00 AM »
Will slow down on some of this until I get the new army books (supposedly they should have been here, BUTT they are being shipped from Tennessee and there be lots of snow between there and the West Coast USA). Also been preparing for move, so have to wait and see if that is ready to move into. I do have up chapter 21 done. Until then, Here is more gory fun



Chapter 13.

“Hit the Deck!” Called out a corsair as lightning crashed into command deck. The storm came from nowhere, swirling with shades of red only found on rare wines, and the dripping of blood. The weaker willed dabblers of magic screams joined the howling of the unholy winds, while those that had a firm grasp struggled with any spell stronger than lighting a stove. Everyone else held their weapons tightly like a lover, or hid praying to whatever god they thought still protected them.

All Save for Ronan. He sharpened his cutlass, waiting. With each pass of the whetstone to grind constant abuse of faded battles.

“That such a wise thing to do!” Called out Lustil. He was not a ship born elf, or one born to one of the seaborn city states. Thus he was not born with the innate legs for the shifting of the waves. Not that he was suppose to. Arks were magical constructs, and once on the water, were made to balance the churning storm as easily as dry land.

Ronan, inlander or not, spent half his youth in the financial capital of Cothique, a land so well versed in the sea their knights would fight deck to deck on horseback. A Hurricane was less to be panicked over, and more a time to wonder if they had enough cooking oil for a good steak and plenty of kegs of wine and beer to wait the storm out. That would be the case of a normal storm.

This was one of magic, and any that lived through one knew the dangers within. “Safer than not being prepared.”

“Prepared for what? Are you going to strike the rain?”

“When was the last time it rained blood?”

Lustel blinked uncontrollably at the question. Confused, bewildered, and unsure what his lord was saying, he stuck a hand out a window. Bringing it back in, he saw what his lord spoke of. The texture, the smell, the congealment. This was indeed blood, and storms just didn’t do this.

“Khorne is strong with this Storm of Magic.” Speaking of the dark god, alarm bells and  horns blurted out throughout the floating city. Crimson furriers, winged daemons of the same intellect and uses as a harpy, darted in. Ronan tossed his fist sized whetstone into the daemons head. Before the otherworldly being could get the ichore out of its face, its head and clawed hands were on the ground. Lustel found his sea legs as he34dxs struck down two more of the beastly daemons. A few more wipes from Ronan, and the invaders were long gone.

“Ugh, just when I thought I was going to get a break.”

“Think Red Tied will give us invasion pay for this?”

“He better!” Ronan answered. “He’s the only one with the coin to pay for repairs!”
<><><><><>
“Blood for the Blood God!” The battle cry echoing from every daemon on the ship was met with “Murder for the Lord of Murder” by the devotees of Khaine. For those that worshiped the gods of murder, war, and slaughter, this was the happiest day of their lives.

Even the sardonic, if not otherwise stoic Relik had broken out into song and dance at the sight.

Ronan wasn’t sure if he should be disturbed by the sight or have an artisan paint the image for posterity’s sake.

“Report!” He commanded.

Dracia landed nearby, Ronan unsure how much of the blood on her was from the rain and how much from the enemy. “The city is covered in the filth. We have harpies, stolen sky cutters, pegasie, and mannnticore clearing the skies, with bolts focusing on the bigger daemons. Every street on the surface is a battlefield, and its making its way to the lower levels.”

“Is there a heart to this?” Ronan asked.

“Dragon Tower, but don’t think about it.” Dracia said, her head shaking left to right in furious swings. “We have those gargoyles to deal with here, but Blood Thirsters blotting out the sky there. We lost three shipbound dreadlords to them; we are not able to deal with them.”

Ronan winced at the thought. The last time he faced a greater Daemon, he didn’t think he thought he let out a years worth of piss in his armor. They needed alternatives, maybe even a distraction. Then a thought hit him. “Can we get to Catlif’s tower?”

Dracia simply pointed to the vampire as it choked the life out of one of the warrior breeds of daemon before them. This was a common Blood Letter, a reptilian humanoid with a diamond shaped head. It wielded a sword with one hand with the same skill an elf needed two for that blade. The moment its head was wrung off its body, the vampire prepared a spell to seer the flesh from their bones. Despte Khorne being an antitheses to magic, the Nekrahark’s potency in the dark arts even overwhelmed them enough for the newly risen zombies to finish.

Many dissipated where they stood, defeat breaking their cord to the mortal world. Others lay where their bodies were broken, the winds of magic still feeding their corpses. It was impossible to kill a daemon on the mortal plain, but the thin divide between the two world’s gave enough of an illusion for the elf and cadaver to take the lead. If only the illusion was true, Ronan thought.

He took on a vengeful Orc Whagh the size to level a continent if it so wished. Only when its Warboss was slain, and much and a combine might of twenty nations that just happened to be waging war in the area, did it fall. He didn’t have that, nor the luxury to wait for such help to arrive.

“Where are they gaining access to the lower levels?” Ronan asked.

“Near Starlight Observatories, in the main hub.”

“Then that is where we should go. And the security of this tower?”

“Harpies have all but driven off the aerial threats. The defense need a little more shoring up.”

“Have Actus and the Plant Sisters work on that with anyone that has skills in in Defenses. Ipan, you are in charge! I need your eye for detail.”

“Yes, Dreadlord.” They called out.

“Anyone else not injured or defending, follow me!” With a whistle, Flower jumped over the spike laden barricade to her master. Ronan took a leap, and waited for his knights to join them. With a new standard bearer, the fifteen they ran down any they could. Charioteers from neighboring towers joined them, greasing their wheels with an endless supply of daemonic ichore. Sorceresses scooped up handfuls of the enemy gore to fuel their magics, for daemons were made of the same stuff as magic.

Those of Ronan’s circle did so sparingly, collecting samples at best. Those that forgot how Khorne viewed magic were quickly educated as their spells miscast or conjuring more ill tempered beings into the ship. Chaos Spawn reminiscent of hounds and bulls crashed forward. Another creature tore its way into the mortal realms, this time the size of a hydra, the temperament of a wild boar, and the beaked maw of a turtle, and the prickly back of a porcupine.

Zombie, daemon, and elf were thrown back as these new enemies found their prey plentiful. Cannons roared to life from carriages driven not by steed but the will of chaos itself. They tore the spawn apart, only for one to reform. The spine beast on the other hand charged through the blood letting line will it reached the fire belching source of its torment. With maw stretched open far beyond what it should, a secondary jaw short out. In one moment it was clamped onto the chariot, and in the next it was back into the first maw. Ax armed daemons hacked at the great chaos beast, but their efforts were rewarded with a painful return to the realms of chaos.

“Give that thing a wide birth!” Ronan commanded. “Funnel the daemons to it!”

Calific let out a toothy smile, as he knew just how. Hands raised, daemonic ichore flowed into the recent dead till a wall of zombies arose. The recent dead could loose limbs, even most of their head, and still hold the daemons back. What they lacked in skill they made up in their ability to get back up.

The roar of hydras joined the fray, including Ronan’s. It was young, only the size of an ox, but the beast Ronan dubbed Blue Berry needed no goading to obey orders. The easiest beast its two handlers had ever had the luck to work with, they only had to steer and hold on as it charged forth! Gouts of fire and poisonous needles came out of the any and all the hydras’ multiple heads. One fell neck was severed only for a newborn head to strike from the stump. By the time one beast had fallen, a path large enough for the desperate pockets of resistance to join up had formed.

Corsairs and bleackswords. Dreadspears and dark shards. Lords and commoner alike. All fell in line, and took their stand.

“Any too injured to fight, head to my tower. Return once treated. The rest of you hold the line as we reform!”

Spear armed elves interlocked their shields, leaving only enough room for their long spears to stick out like thorns on a bush. Daemon clashed, but could not get a firm hold. Their hellish weapons only dulled as Elvin steel resisted the blows. Their bodies were not as reliant thanks to a bit of magic from Acidia. Calling upon the magic infused in elvin steel. The elves pierced the scaly skin of the daemons with ease.

“Damn blood letters won’t let up!” gripped an experienced Dreadlord. He had long lost his blade, and like Anerion of old, took one of a fallen enemy to revelatory effect.

Flower pounced on a nearby champion of the daemons, her maw ripping its evil heart as she went. As for Ronan, he had switched to a fallen boar spear, and began his own assault into the damnable host before him. “This many daemons should not be around! Has an Ever Chosen been picked?”

“Not big enough, and there should be other daemons as well. This is just but one.” Said the other Dreadlord. “Just a bad influx of magic.”

“Just a bad flux?” Ronan was too busy to gasp. He just kept stabbing till his spear became a thin staff. With that discarded, he opted for the longsword strapped onto his saddle. “We have enough to sink a fleet if they wished!”

As his sword arm was growing numb from the swinging, relief came swiftly. Dark riders emptied their magazines into the hoard, before switching to spear, saber, and ax. With each stab, with each swing the enemy faded away. Their champion tossed a head of a scar encrusted champion of the hellish army, its many horns nicked by constant battle.

“We have cleared a path all the way to the east ship deck, Commander.” Said the most prominent of these heralds. “Ships coming in are reporting they are out there as well. What’s more, they seem to only be targeting vessels with elves.”

“Elves?” Ronan and the Dreadlord said as one. The time needed to contemplate this was used to chop back a renewed push forward. Javalin armed bleakswords hurled their pilums as the enemy, pining them in place long enough for Arhedel and her crossbows to do the rest.

“Wreckage of high elf ships can be seen all around, and there some of our cutters found Asur Dragon and Eagle Ships in battle with what must count as ships in the void.” Said the Dark Rider.

“And you are sure they are only striking elvin ships?”

“Yes.” Said the Harold. “Any dwarven steam vessels, any human brigandines, or those floating wrecks used by Skaven were ignored till they opened fire. At that point, they brought their doom upon themselves.

“Guess we don’t have to worry about an elvin fleet. But what about this?”

“That’s’ the other thing. Khorne is not the only one in the ocean tonight!”

More shrieks filled the air, this time as a new threat entered the ship. Not of the brutish bloodletters of Khorne, but the lithe daemonetts of Slannesh. Androgenous beauties many had pincer claws like a crab or a scorpion, while others had talons like swords. Others held fine sabers and rapiers of deceptive fragility. Regardless of armament, they rushed forward with ecstasy for each wound they inflicted and was inflicted upon them.

“Our reinforcements?” Ronan asked, his mood completely numb.

“I wish. They want our souls too.”

“Calific! We need to herd a new group to the other so they can kill each other!”

“On it!” The vampire opened the wall of zombies just wide enough for the bloodletters to leak out like a scratched scab. The two opposing minions of the ruinous powers took one look at each other, and despite their orders, despite the overriding will of powers more ancient and more powerful than anything any living elf has seen, stood there glaring. Trembling with anticipation long held hatred was filling the air until neither could hold it any longer. Chitten and steel, sword and pincer clashed as swift and precise daemonetts clashed with brutal and frenzies blood letters.”

“We’re falling back.” Ronan commanded.

“Dreadlord?” Called out Ronan’s champion of the knights.

“We regroup at Harpy Tower. Mend your wounds and your armor. Sharpen or replace your weapons. Then we fight what they leave us.”

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2024, 03:30:28 AM »
Chapter 14.
Red Tide cut down his eighth Herold of Khorne, each one stronger than his last. Each one a testament of the myriad ways there was to kill in battle. Each one an utter disappointment. Slaves scurried away dragging the bodies off to the ports that lead directly to the “Heart of the Ark,” filling reserves thought emptied by the overland adventure. At least there would be some salvaging this, he thought.

“I want reports on what is happening!” He demanded as he carved his way through the next wave of bloodletters.

“We have lost a third of the ship’s population, and many of our war beasts and half our slaves are also slain.” Squeaked Half Ear.

“And its gotten worse.” Said one of Red Tide’s Assassins. He took a good spin, and his glaive cut down six daemons with dazzling ease. “Slannesh has sent his minions onto the ship. They are more content to fight these wretches, but soon enough they will need new playthings.”

“And the four groups of lordlings?”

Daemonic icore was tossed onto the sickly green gems that powered the wyrding mirrors. The daemonetts, as they suspected, were flocking to Gorindo’s den of vice. Also as expected his twin scimitars were reducing the enemy numbers down and in pieces. Most took somewhat feminine traits, while others took the appearance of beautiful young men. Those daemons that radiated the kind of power only leadership could bestow had a little of each. All fell to Gorindo and his soldiers.
Lacertus held the ground by the dockyard. Those under his command kept these otherworldly sirens from leaking in long enough to shut the sea gates. He himself led the cavalry in pushing the Khornites that dripped in back. Sand was tossed freely to absorb both blood and ichore to keep both warrior and beast from slipping from the gore spilled.  Shades on rooftops took aim, and pelted the rows of mindless daemons behind them. It was only with the arrival of the Kharibdyss and the Medusa did the daemons beguine to fall back, their howls and their transfixing glare halting their progress.

The rest of the lower decks were scoured by the Temple of Khaine. Red Tide hated having them on the ship, but they had their uses. Small as they were, they managed to carve a nice pathway to the top level. If they kept that furry up, that would be another question.

That Left Ronan. To no ones’ surprise he was holding a line of his own. A hoard of zombies blocked the daemons path, leading the two opposing forces to each other. All the while, his minions and the other lordlings following him caught their breath, and prepared another attack. Well-fortified from the constant harassment from Gorindo, Ronan’s tower was more than ready for the assault. The massive colony of harpies also helped keep the air clear of the flying fiends of the enemy.

With those too wounded to fight secured, it was time to face the enemy one more time. Phalanx of spearmen marched forward, with swordsmen forming a protective shield wall on their flanks. All the while Ronan and one of Red Tide’s own commanders lead the counter charge. When they have finished with this, there must be a meeting, the Fleetmaster thought as one more of the crimson daemons tried and failed to kill him. First thing in the morning.
<><><><><><><><>
There was no rest for anyone, wicked or otherwise. Beastmasters gathered what new creatures came through the void to replace the monsters lost. Taskmaster counted the slaves left alive and useful for more than an offering to the gods. The few daemons that remained were sealed and stored for later use, while the remains of their fellows were collected for research and potions. Others were carted off to the lowest depts of the Ark to fuel her engine. Everyone not wounded or tending to them tossed the dead overboard with gusto.

Even Calific had too many cadavers to work with. The dark aura was certainly making him feel more alive than he did in centuries, but there was too much. If he didn’t have his skeletons throwing dead into the sea, into the awaiting bellies of monsters, or into pyres the radiating black magic would make undead of its own; undead outside of his control. And that would not do. Thus was his first lesson of the day: Maintaining control of the minions you did have to his charges.

“How fairs your work?”

“Better than last night.” Nightshade answered. She was sweating so much her makeup had to be reapplied by magic thrice to keep that deathly pale shade. Like the other spell casters on the ship, she worked the hardest and took the most advantage of the influx of magic that overwhelmed the ship. Even experienced casters of centuries felt overwhelmed by the Ruinous Powers. She and Ronan’s ilk were lucky.

Luckier than Ronan at least. He had to deal with the politics at the Dragon Tower.
<><><><><><><>
Even when dealing with one’s guts hanging out, there was no excuse to avoid the Fleetmaster’s summons. A lone surgeon was dealing with a deep gash one Ronan’s arm, while one of Red Tide’s practitioners of life magic handled the gouges on his side.

Gorindo likewise had to be stitched back together. From the looks of his armor, he was nearly bisected by some crab like claw, either of Daemonett or that scorpion-centaur of theirs.

Lacertus was in worse shape. It was nothing short of a miracle he was still alive the way he was pierced. The keeper of the gates of the underworld was kept at bay with a strong enough threat or promise, Ronan thought. That was the only thing he could see keeping him in the mortal realms.

Their Underlings were not much better. His mount had to have a jaw reattached, while his wife Dia had to have an arm. The cold one needed three bottles of dwarven whisky, while Dea needed three ogres to allow such aid. As for the man that kept the docks safe, Barus went into a coma, while Chersium was nursing a bottle of cheap wine. One beastmaster was trampled underfoot, and the rest were all being treated with their animals. His sorceresses remained in his tower, resting; their magic well and truly spent.

Mundis was nowhere to be seen, either passed out from his work or treating the wounded. What of his beastmasters were not resting or being mended were sending captured warped creatures to their pens or to the Vampire’s laboratory. As with Lacertus, none of his nobles or his sorceresses died this day and they too were resting.

That left Ronan’s underlings. Outside of a handful of champions and soldiers that gave their all, none of his other fellow Hawkseer initiates were dead. Nor any of his entourage. And many of the commanders he made since joining the cruise were also alive, tending to the dead and the wounded.

That left Red Tied, overlooking it all from his balcony.

“I am tempted to call the rest of this off until the ship has been repaired.” The Fleetmaster admitted to all within earshot. “But we cannot. My seers and my scouts say half of the Asur fleet has sunk or retreated to our true homeland with little chance of making it. A quarter is ensuring they will. That leaves a weakened fleet, with a flagship carrying the banner of a crossed arrows over a Cockatrice.

“Is the Banner, Errr, many shades of green?” Ronan asked. Wincing, he wished the doctor would he hadn’t cut him off of pain killing herbs, but any more and he would not be awake to listen. Red Tide flinched, but nodded at the question. “The Green Prince’s personal banner. Averloran by birth, raising, training and thought. He is wedded to the princess elect of Cothique, and most likely will be placed on its throne. His capture…would be a grand prize in deed for a Fleetmaster.”

“That’s the problem.” Said the Fleetmaster. “We won’t be capturing him. We will be saving him.” The Surgeon nearly ripped out a row of stitches on Ronan’s arm the moment he said that.

To Ronan’s surprise, he only hit him with a single punch to the gut in response. “Fleetmaster, I know him, I even fought alongside him enough to be happy you said that. But I know who I am fighting for, and what my duties duties demand. Why are you saying this?”

“Because my seers say if we do not, we will perish. Before we do anything, I have sent a message via the wyrding mirrors to Malekith. He must know his will before we do anything else.”

Ronan released a prayer of relief as the surgeon finished his task. “So much for the element of surprise. What are we facing with them as our brothers and sisters in arms?”

Red Tide turned, his complexion pale with fright. The word he would utter would make Ronan join him in this terror. “Chaos.”
<><><><<>

Malekith waited and listened as the message concluded. Like in Naggarond, the winds were strong facing the Black Ark The Crown of Darkness. Like there, strong enough for a rouge armada of daemons to strike. Two in fact; one of the bloody Khorne, the other of the tempting tempest that was Slannesh. And now their seers predict something unprecedented. Something even worthy of hunting them down as traitors. Curious, he thought.

Red Tide was his best admiral, and one he put a significant hand in molding. If this was a betrayal, it was one no one could see coming, not even he. The Hawkseer was not yet concluded, and to return now even with their wealth gathered would be deemed shameful. But to go forward, meant losing that ship lest they work with those fool Asur.

“I want thirty ships to replace the souls lost on that Ark. And I want my finest assassins to join them to root out any treachery they see.” He commanded his scribe. “Alcartrat!” He bellowed.

Stepping forward was a Blackguard, his faceplate that of a gold dragon, and instead of a halberd a great sword rested in his hands. Taking a knee, he showed the Witch King reverence only his most loyal dared show: True loyalty. True faith in his cause. True submission to his will.

“You shall lead these replacements. You have a hellhound’s nose when it come to rooting out treachery. Use it to stop them. Handpick a battalion of Black Guard of your choice, then leave immediately.”

“As the Witch King Commands, so Shall it be done. I am your sword, your ears, and your eyes, True Phoenix King of the Elves.” With ease he said this, with hast he and his portion of the guard left.

Only when the grand brass doors shut, did the furry of the Witch King show itself. With a flick of a wrist a lobotomized failed sorceress took the brunt of his wrath, wilting away with each heartbeat. The rest of his court dropped to the most humiliating positions, all knowing they were next. Save for his Black Guard, and his scribe. “Get my Mother in here, NOW!” He ordered. “And have her tell me why her allies nearly sank our most prized ark in the fleet?”

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2024, 05:07:54 AM »
Chapter 15.

In any other time, this would hardly be a feast. At any other time, this would be humble. But after the six months they had, it was a celebration fit for the emperor. Reiklanders and Mittenburgers brought their elite forces, food, medicine, clothing, and materials for rebuilding Waldensteine. Dwarves found creative ways to make their brews, while the Treants and elves used their skills to renew the ruined fields. Wizard and Inquisitor sang bawdy sang arm in arm, while engineers of both human and dwarf could point out areas to make their machines better with the cavoite the looser of these new modifications pay for the next round of drinks.

Even Meyer found he could feel a pinch of satisfaction.  With a glass of fine wine, he could overlook the city walls, made better than they were before the incursion. This was perhaps the happiest he had been in years. Pity it could not last.

The horns of alarm echoed, passing their message of danger from the coast to the fields. From the fields to the forests. From the forests to the city walls. The city walls to the city center. From the city center to the House of Governess. Their reprieve was over.

It came in the form of high elves. All bandaged, all with tattered cloth, arms, and armor. Riding ahead of what otherwise would be a grand army was a Prince in greens. His eagle circled the battlements thrice out of bow shot, a white flag on his spear waving for all to see.

The gates opened, and apothecary, wizard, and doctor rushed in to aid the beleaguered aid.

“Thank Mother Goddess Isha!” The prince gasped, nearly ready to collapse in the nearest arms. They were the burly arms of a Slayer, but still good enough. “I lost half my fleet fighting the slaves of chaos, and their daemon overlords. Entire hoard of daemonettes and bloodletters formed a fleet, killing my brothers and sisters in arms. They were driven off, but not before half my fleet sank. What you see before you is what was still sea worthy to come.”

“Rest, Prince of the Elves.” Said the Slayer. “Sounds like you are telling us my desired doom approaches.”

“It gets worse.” The prince pointed to a group of fast riding reavers. Amongst these elves born in the saddle and with a bow in the hand was a blue skinned woman. She was an elf, but one that radiated dark energy; the very kind they fought against.

“She’s a Druchii, claims to follow a young lord on a Hawkseer named Ronan Hydra Kin. He and a dozens of others are in a black ark coming this way. They are making a proposition, one that I would rather spit on than take.”

“She lives, so she must have something of worth.”

“I want the elders of those defending this city to decide, for it would mean another foe has come.”

With a whistle, the Slayer commanded his warriors to escort those in need of rest to a inn, and the rest to the doctor’s hands. “Come blood brother of Ax Grinder, we will speak with them.”

“You know this cur?” Asked another slayer. Like most of his kind, he could not stand the sight of an elf, even when they were honest.

“This cur is the Green Prince Elcorn; Husband of the Heir to Cothique, and who fought bravely with Ax Grinder. My Kin say when the old slayer met his doom, the Prince, his eagle, and his cockatrice fought three days without sleep to protect the body so no beastman would defile it. Give him respect, for he and his bride alone are worthy of it of his people.”

Few slayers had earn the reputation or reverence as Ax Grinder. His real name may have been lost, but the reclamation of an ancient hold on the Averlorn boarder made him worthy of song (and a few brews to be named after him). It was also known that the Green Prince was responsible for lending the fleet and the military aid to breach the beastman forces.  “Forgive me.”

“Nothing needed to forgive. We have not forgiven that fool of a Phoenix king either for letting a Druchii deception cause our prideful war. Just how many centuries must your children and my children pay for his foolishness?

<><><>><><>

The celebrations cut short, party favors exchanged for weapons, and now a carriage racing towards the House of Government. Once out, guards escorted the wounded elvin Prince and his entourage alongside the slayer and any other officer not on the forward wall.

Surrounding a floor map of the lands and the surrounding seas, what remained of this alliance listened with awaited. All that was needed was the Green Prince. One glare told the sorceress to hold her tongue and wait, while he entered the ballroom sized war room.

“What news, Prince of Avorlorn and Cothique.” Lord Balder asked. He stood within arms reach of a pair of Thanes that commanded much of his forces, and that of the Elected officials of this city. While many were no soldiers, those that chose not to hide made do as planners and resource manager.

Taking a seat and something warm to drink, the Green Prince prepared himself for what he must do. “My fleet came as soon as we could. Our fasters ships sending supplies and a handful of troops, while the bulk of it scouring the sea for chaos worshipers.” He stopped, just long enough to down his drink and ask for another. Before the heat was gone from his throat, he received his new cup. “Our success so great the monsters of the darkest depths would have full bellies for years. As we made one more trip to ensure their fleets were truly destroyed, the storm of magic hit. Had this been a normal hurricane, our people would have been fine. But the daemon rammed their ships into ours. Living vessels that grappled my warriors like leviathans.

“First came the warrior breeds of Khorne, strong and merciless. Then came those of Slannesh. We were the true target of the daemons for sure, but only their hatred of each other saved us. Our arrows and our spears managed to drive them back to their hells, but not before dragging many of my ships with them. We sent those that could not fight or survive the rest of the journey back under guard. We have twenty ships, mostly cutters or Brigs of your classification. Only my flag ship remains of the mightiest of them, and it is currently anchored that the gate of your docks.

“What of the dark elf?” Asked one of the Asri. Their love of the Asur cousins was equal to the Druchii, and both had earned hatred and temperance of their existence in equal measure.

“They claim to be in a new kind of Black Ark; a floating city powered by black magic. They too were attacked by the creatures of the warp. They claim to offer aid for a price.”

“Our children and our cattle no doubt.”

“No, which is what concerns me.” The Prince now on his second drink and a blanket, gathered his swirling thoughts. Was the woman telling the truth? Was she Lying? Could they take on an ark? “They wish to take the captured chaos spawn, mutants, and other monstrosities. And they want us to bring as many alive to them as they can. If not that, the more interesting cadavers found.”

As expected, the murmuring grew louder and more confused. Some humans were willing to take this out of desperation. The rest of the room, human or otherwise, debated what this could mean. Humans and dwarves had as many hardships, maybe more as the Asur. Countless raids for food, for slaves, for glory raped every land they called home. Coastal settlements were always the hardest hit hardest. Even the Asri were not untouched by this plague; their people having been carted off in chains as well. The only true difference being the Drichii courted them, hoping to influence them in some sick way; something some were willing to humor.

 Ulthuane saw the occasional raid as well, but most were delt with save for the lucky and the experienced corsair captain. However, it was the once in couple millennia invasion that bothered him. There were only a handful of such large scale assaults. When the Elves were first sundered. Some time after the War of the Beard left both Ulthuane and the Dwarves weakened. Another was bound to happen. He could smell it.

“What are you thinking, Prince.” Asked Balder. The old eyes of the Dwarf told him he had read the prince’s face, and the fears he had.

“I fear they maybe preparing for war with my kind, my Lord.” Prince Elcore said with trembling words.

“A war?”

“Every raid, every assault is just practice to them. A necessity so they can hone their craft of killing. Honing it till they have built up the strength to prepare to invade my home continent.”

“That is a big leap, don’t ya think?” Said one of the other Dwarven diplomats.

Elcore shook his head. “I wish. There have been a few small scale assaults, but when they go to war they leave only the minimal amount of souls to protect their homeland. The rest go to the slaughter, and that means Ulthuane. Your Ancestors, good Dwarf, know just how hard it is to muster what is needed to traverse that distance and carry what you needed wage war upon it. But once your ancestors were satisfied, you left. The Druchii will not be satisfied till every Asure on Ulthane is bled dry, and Malekeith claims the Pheonix throne. The chaos spawn and mutants would make perfect fodder for such a war.”

“And you suggest we…not take them on that offer?” Asked a one eyed warrior prist of Sigmar. He looked young, maybe a in his second decade of life, but the wounds he had on him told of one lived not in ease.

“That is the problem. If the Chaos Gods are willing to waste such energy on us when we were tempted to just head home after one more patrol…” The words choked in his throats. Could he say it? Its one his captains, his officers, yea, every sailor and soldier on his fleet voted in unison of. But could he say it? Should he? “Gods forgive me, but we may need them to survive this.”

Murmuring turned to shouting matches. Shouts turned to threats. As Elcorn thought, most of the men and women here have been victimized by them in some form. Victimized as he was. Undoing his armor, he showed, he tossed aside his raiment, his prestigious symbols of office till only the markings of war and horror remained to cover him. On his chest, was a branding of clawed hand grasping a heart.

“This is a brand used for those being offered straight to Khaine’s alters. I was captured trying to rescue the civilian population of a coastal city Tor Evretts. It was like a second capital, the only city outside of Lothern that housed a great number of none elves; human, dwarf slayers, halflings, ogres, and diplomats and traders of the Lizardmen. I had friends there; the Slayer Ax Grinder spent several good decades calling it home. And in a flash, two Black Arks of immense size appeared as if spat out from the depth of hell. They Destroyed the docks, and laid waste to the city. A city of tens of thousands reduced to dozens in a night.

“My fleet perused one of the arks, managed to stop it, but we were out matched. A timely arrival of Kracken and Megaladon schools thrashing it managed to give us time to rescue who we could before sending the Ark to the depths. So when I say we may have to work with them, it is not the first, second, or even the last thing I wish to speak of, but I must.”

There was no murmuring any more. Only the solemn realization of how dire things were becoming. An hour passed before anyone dared to say anything. Then two. Only the opening of a door kept the third from passing in silence.

The interruption came in the form of a halberd armed guard, letting out a series of cursing at the prisoner outside the room. “The woman has a tongue like a whip. Can I beat her to shut her up, or are you ready for her?”

“Bring her in, but unharmed.” Commanded the reigning Mayor of the city.

Despite a firm grip on her arms from the flanking greatwords, the elf woman waltzed her way to the center of the room. “This how you treat all your guests, my esteemed nobility?” The elf laughed at her own joke. If she noticed no one shared her humor, she showed no sign of carring either.

“That depends on what you claim to offer.” Said the Green Prince. “Tell them what you told me.”

><><><><><><>\

Sepacune smiled at the idiots before her. These were the grand leaders they had? The prince more than earned his worth of her respect, for now. Sinking her rowboat with a single arrow would do that. But it was yet to be seen if all the stories Ronan gushed about him were true. For now, as she laughed at the sorry state they were in, her eyes darted to every corner.

A pair of bows were at half pull in the darkness. Most likely Asrai Way Watchers. If half of what Aridel said about them were true, they were already aiming at her eyes and mouth, and they would make their shots. The cocking of pistols in another corner alerted her to men in funny pointed hats and long coats that went to their knees. Witch Hunters, if she had to guess; the human’s best experts at hunting wizards like herself. Also a wise move. As was that lone human with that ridiculously long barreled gun. Also aimed at her she supposed.

“Let us skip the formalities. I know you have your minions aiming their toys at me, and If I cast so much as a cantrip they will make sure tis my last. Sound about right?”

“More of less.” Said a one eyed warrior in heavy armor and a hammer in hand. He was rather handsome for a human, she had to give him that. Too bad he would not live long she signed to herself.

“Our Hawkseer was interrupted halfway up your stretch of barely tamed wilderness you call the ‘Wastelands’ when the daemons attacked us. I suspect you had to have some make landfall as well, yes.”

“Perhaps.”

“And did they leave anyone not born with magic in the blood and pointed ears alone? Except for those that attacked them that is.” Some mild murmuring, and elvin voices in their woodlandish language confirmed as much. Ronan was right again. Maybe she should not doubt him as much. Maybe.

“And I suspect that you all have had your sooth sayers and fortune tellers say the same thing: A sea would come alive with claws and gnashing of sharpened teeth. That there would be a Thunderous people of the mountains that would blow much of it away, only to be further swept up in a giggling green rockslide. Sound also familiar?”

This time the murmurs were replaced with jaws agape. “Good seers have the same visions, don’t they. I suspect our Dowi friends are the Thunderous people, and you pushed back the first wave of this tsunami, and you might be able to push back the next. But the Green Rockslide: only one race can be described as such, and you Dowi hate them more than you hate elves.” It was a truth they could not deny. Yet it was also a truth worthy of brandishing their swords and axes for.

“I suspect the Prince has told you of our offer for our help?”

“And what help would that be?”

“A small number of our ark, several thousand elves, warbeasts, ogre and troll mercenaries, will be joining this. I suggest you let them help you on the land, while the Ark and those that remain will deal with the threats at sea.”

“The army will consist of what?”

“Corsairs mostly. Spearmen, swordsmen, and those with our own variant crossbow. A few outriding horse scouts, some on foot woodsmen, knights and charioteers, reaper bolt thrower crews for sure. Dozens of monsters, namely hydras and harpies, and a dozen casters like me. Oh, and at least one assassin but there are bound to be more. I would say don’t worry, but you just never know with those types.”

“Any other Khainites?”

“I do not know for certain.” Sepacuna replied, her smile faded. “Perhaps some Executioners; be sword wielders like the two gentlemen beside me; you like them. But I also suspect the Brides of Khaine will also want a piece of the action. Maybe a few Sisters of Slaughter can be coaxed from their arena duties to fight in a real war. What else do you need to know?”

“And the fleet?”

“I am going to need a comfortable chair, and maybe some lunch if your don’t mind. Something the woodlanders or my esteemed Asur bastard kin can handle without complaint?

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2024, 02:08:17 AM »
Chapter 16 A

Cannon, flame cannon, grudge thrower, bolt thrower, organ gun, helblaster volley guns, hellfire rocket batteries, and even a steam tank lined the coastline the moment the elves gave their warning. Dwarven rangers, Wood Elf Way Waters, and High Elf Shadow Warriors waited in every corner to line up the perfect shot, while the rest of their bow, gun, and crossbow armed comrades gathered munitions, powder, and bayonets. Townsfolk that scurried to the safety of the city’s walls, while the militia ran around like ants reacting to an invader. Rations, water, alcohol for both the belly and the wounds were provided in equal measures. Chamber pots with the face of the last Emperor were spread around, one part for the soldiers to stay at their stations and relieve themselves; one part to have an added weapon to use against the enemy.

An enemy that was sure to show no mercy. The only question was in the form of the dragon headed ships in sight of scopes and spyglasses throughout the battleline.

<><><><><><><><>The Week Before<><><><><><><><><><><><>

Ronan took his place in the amphitheater normally reserved for the Fleetmaster. With Red Tide’s tentative permission, he gathered all the dreadlords, all the beastmasters, and any the ship’s residents that had no loyalties to him. Ronan knew he had at most three hundred souls to aid him, but he needed more. He also knew what he was about to as was tantamount to suicide.

A deep breath, and a shot of a dwarven drink for courage, he made his way to the enchanted megaphones. “It has been decided. We will join the beleaguered defenders. Humans of the Sigmarite Empire of Man; Dwarves from a number of different mountain kingdoms; Asri from their woodlands and their treekin and dryad allies. And, as loathed as we are all to hear it, the Asur. I will send one of my own to parlay with the remains of their fleet. In the…”

Ronan’s words were cut off by the jeers and thrown garbage of those in the arena. Allying themselves with their most hated enemy? How obdured. It made Ronan wonder what they thought about the chaos savages joining them in this new invasion. The shouting ended with the rolling in of reaper bolt throwers, their barbed payloads pointed to the crowd beneath. Those armed with the Scourge Runnner variety or the common repeating crossbow were next, followed by the ship’s allotment of sorceresses.

“Our options are to go home early. We have brought back quite the payload, but it is still half way though given our size and allotment. We would be shamed, and most us to the point we would spend the coming invasion sitting in empty castles in Naggrond while our brothers and sisters reclaim a land my ancestors bared you from!”

Aww, the sound of gnashing of teeth and mutterings of grudging acceptance. Maybe he was meant to be a Druchii after all, Ronan chuckled to himself. “That means we stay here. The Ruinous powers have made it clear they see us as prey. If we wish to be the predators, we must join forces with those that would be our prey. This ship is our home, and those daemons invaded it. If we slaughter those they want to butcher while enslaving the rest, we are doing their work. If we join the sheep in fighting back, not only can we survive this…we will have our revenge. The forces of chaos driven back, forced to cow down to the might of the Druchii. Is that not what you want?

“The things that would make even the greatest of our kind cower in fear, to make them gravel at our feet for mercy? To be Anerion reborn in all of us?”

The first Pheonix King, the hero of all elves. The only one that made the daemons tremble in fear. They knew Ronan was right, but he had to poke at their pride to get them to follow him. In a way, it was so easy to goad them. Elves were prideful people, but only a Druchii would never tame this feeling.

“I will be leading the ground forces. The Sisters in Khaine’s services will be my seconds in this. You will obey my orders. No raping, thieving, bullying, beating of the locals. Defend yourself if you must, but if I so much think you are the one at fault I will personally offer you up to Mathlann myself.”

The crowd grew riotous again, forgetting death was overseeing them by the glint of reaper tips. With a raised hand, the ratcheting of bolt throwers overwhelmed the noise below them.

“You will do this, or you will stay on the ark, taking the battle to what ships the enemy send your way. When Gorindo and Lacertus recover, they can lead the ship battles. Until then you are responsible for turning the ocean red with blood. I will be preparing to depart soon.

Angered but still in control of himself, Ronan left before he could command the slaughter. Leave that for Red Tide if he so chose. He had more important things to worry about.

“Who are you sending?” Asked Relik. Weapons and poisons on the ready.

“Myself.”

A sudden grasp and Relik had Ronan pinned to the wall. Dagger just a tingle away from his fingertips, the assassin wondered how long he could hold himself back.

Ronan wondered as well “I know how to work a boat, I can still speak Ausury with their accent, and I know how the Green Prince thinks. I have fought alongside him in my youth. By the Abyss, I saved his life once! Who better to send?”

“Me.” Sepacuna made her presence known with the crackling of her staff in hand. “They will wonder about my appearance, and they will want to know why they would send me. And I know your sorry story enough to tell them what they need to hear and not give away your own plans for vengeance away. Besides, if they recognize you from your old life, they will use you to warn the rest of the continent. It will provide you with your vengeance, but also leave your new friends to suffer. And we can’t have that.”

“Ever hate it when someone is right?” Ronan asked.

“Yeah, but why you and not the scribe, Arhedel, or the human girl?” Relik demanded.

“The scribe would go with his warning. He’s had her recount his life story, so she is bound to tell. Let her cook before she sends her home. She is not right yet. And yes, we all knew you were going to do this sooner or later Ronan. At least this way you can make a deal to keep her safe and out of sight, with her knowledge with someone that can be trusted. Helga is still a mess. A bunch of strange men, on a boat? You know what that has always led to before Ronan.

“As for Arhedel, Ronan won’t send her. We all know whoever goes might not come back. And he isn’t sending the woman currently saving his soul. As for me, they will see the mutilation done by Morathi, and will know my disdain for the rest of this elvin race is true. But I also want my vindication. And I am but a wizard; a few alert traitor Nagarythians will be enough to keep me in line, while any twitch from you, Ronan, or even Arhedlel will be met with suspicion.

“Helga has shown me the map. I go with a handful of high elf rowers and a white flag to see them. Don’t keep me waiting.”

With extra sway to her hips, Sepacuna left the two elves to their dispute.

“Let me go!” Ronan commanded with a shove to the assassin. “We are gathering everyone. Yoofina, the Triplets, the Twins, my body guards, EVERYONE.

“Good. Its been a long while since I had a proper pretzel.” Relik answered.

“A what?”

“It’s a Empire bred dish. They stretch the dough out into cords then put them into knots before baking them. A butter glaze and some salt, and Mua, perfect comfort food.

“I suspect we’ll have peasant food from the humans and stone bread from the dwarves. We’re packing extra spices and actual food.”

<><><><><>The Next Day.<><><><><><><>


Khrysis was the first on watch. A noble and officer, he still felt the need to put in the same work as the common crewmember. Part of it was his common birth, the illegitimate son of a noble that all but forgot about him. Maybe it was that life before nobility was hoisted upon him. Or maybe he preferred to lead at the front, and working harder than the crew gave him some leverage. He could only hope his first command of a ship would not go as poorly as the last three nights.

“Any word form the scouts?” Krhysis called out.

“No, Prince!” Called back one of his midshipmen. “No news since the last Seagal.”

“Keep an eye out. Never know in these waters when we will be surprised with…DRUCHII!!” Khrysis didn’t have a breath between when he said that word and the alarm bell range. Sailors grabbed pike and bow in adrenalin pumping steps. Others manned the Eagle Claw bolt throwers.

“Starboard side, a single rowboat of their make!” Khrysis called out. With a hand out, he beckoned for a spyglass. Once the weight laid comfortably within, he took a closer look. “Looks like a row boat. Rowers, all whip marked and food deprived. Slaves maybe. They are lead by a woman. She has…blue skin? Is she a chaos cultists?”

Khrysis handed the spyglass to the first mate. “She is waving a white flag, but my daddy hit me with his wizards staff enough time to know one when I see one. Shall we shoot them down?”

“No, get the wizard. If he deems her safe, let them on board and put the Shadow Warriors on their guard duty. They can see if they can be interrogated, rehabilitated, or put out of their misery. I want her interrogated on deck.”

“As you will.” Commands both vocal and wordless were issued. The rowboat crept ever so closer to the Hawkship till they were within a pike thrust. Sliding down a pair of ropes, two of the more acrobatic of the crew prepared the boat to be hoisted up. A sea chanty sung to keep rhythm, the sailors pulled with the same fervor a pirate would a chest of gemstones. Once up, the business at hand would commence.

The ship’s doctor and his three aids examined the rowers. With a pill in their mouths, and a blanket wrapped around them, the Shadow Warriors took them to a hold to be kept safe. As for the woman, she was a different story.

One look and it was hard not to see she was an elf. It could be a glamor, daemons enjoyed them so much, or the Changeling that did Tzeentch’s bidding in the realms of Chaos. The doctor and ship’s mage inspected every inch of her, every inscrolled bracelet, her sword, her staff, and her crown. Once, then twice, than thrice over they made their study of her. Only then did were they satisfied.

“We need to speak privately, away from the crew.” The doctor whispered to Krysis.

“Very well. In my quarters. The rest of you get her some food and some water, but do not trust her till I say so!” To Khrysis’ expectations, they saluted and obeyed. Like his leadership style, his quarters was also kept simple and to the point. Save for a mirror by a pewter wash station, and a lute of Dryad make and Embellishment. His wife’s side was minimalist, her spear bows and swords, and the things needed to catch that night’s dinner while scouting.

“What do we need to know.” Khrysis asked. As any courteous lord, he poured a glass to the doctor, his guards, the wizard, and finally himself form his personal stash of brews.

The doctor and the wizard took one look at each other then at their drinks. Without delay, they downed their glasses in a gulp.

“She’s a Sorceress. Mid ranking, but I suspect she may have been something much more potent in the past.” Said the wizard.

“Are you sure, Mage Tarsis?’

“Absolutely.” The mage answered. “No one has that much Dhur running around them that casually without being a sorcerer or insane. I will let you decide which she is later. Her skin is from a miscast, a powerful one. The turncoats that get captured by our fleets seem to say they have a series of tests, and one of the greatest of them can make them true queens of magic, or leave them as mindless husks. She is neither, but her skin, and that red scare on her entire right arm are signs of it.”

“She also has some internal disfiguration. Most of her body is intact and in working order. I think she maybe two hundred and eighter, maybe three hundred years old.” Said the doctor.

“Almost a good century older than I.” Said Khrysis as he fished for another bottle. “You said she was nearly intact. What does that mean.”

“Its why my crystals and my examinations took so long.” The Doctor replied. “She cannot be a mother. She can still feel the pain and pleasure of intimate acts, but her ability to birth a child is…gone. I am also seeing a buildup of Dhur from an inability to expel it for years, decades maybe. Like she had been restricted in some slave system. Even now there is a slave master’s brand on the neck. She is not a free woman.

“I see, yet she can freely cast spell. I saw her manipulate the winds to steady her boat.” Said the Mage. “I felt her running through her spell options as we examined her. She is not some mere pawn.”

It was Khrysis’s turn to down his glass in one gulp. Slave, yet master of great power. A woman that can freely cast devastating spells but not command her own will. “Pawn or queen on the chest board, she is not a free woman. I will see what she is capable of now.”

He didn’t wait for the doctor and mage to follow, only his guard. As he had commanded, she was eating a dish that had not been corrupted in the storm of magic. A little fish, some vegetables from a sealed jar, and a glass of watered down wine was no feast, but it had to have been better than she was used to.

“I must ask for forgiveness. The daemon surge had left much of our food stores much to be desired.” Khrysis began.

“Aw yes, the Blood Letters and the Daemonett surge. I suspect you were their intended target. Or at least the Green Prince on the flag ship is.” Spears were lowered as the sorceress took a sip of her drink. Bowman Grabbed their bows, their strings pulled back to the point the string pushed back. “Please, the Black Ark I have been sailing on has seers, and I have eyes. I see your banners. I see your crews. I know he is leading this, and has done a wonderful job of clearing the seas of these monsters.” Empty glass in hand, she raised it in a mocking toast to their efforts.

“If you know this, why are you here?” Asked Khrysis. “Surly not to warn us.”

“We have our reasons. But all point to one thing that none of us wish to hear: An alliance.” The spearmen took three steps forward, only stopping at the raised hand of their captain. “None of us like it either. But we dare not return so many lords that still need proving. But we cannot face the storm that is to come alone. Nor can you, nor the ones you wish to save. We wolves must join the sheep and the sheepdogs if we wish to live.”

“And how can we trust you.” Said a midshipman, his sword nearly naked at the druchii’s sight.

“You shouldn’t. Our will to survive can only temper so much. However, the monstrosities that are coming, both alive and what will inevitably be blown apart by war machine and spell, is much more tempting an offer. My lord, Ronan Hydra Kin will take full reasonability. He could bring more than say a legion or two; maybe three but he wants those that will tow his line. He’s very queer for a druchii, my master is.”

“You’re master.” Repeated Khrysis. “You are his slave. You have a chance to flee and let him die. Why should he trust you with this?”

“Because he is on a quest for vengeance, and he knows I was wrongfully deceived in my final test as a sorceress. He also knows what its like to be bound in chains by those that should have been his friends. He will keep his word about avenging my honor and pride, and the mistreatment at my own hands. “And we can only receive that honor of vengeance if we survive this. I am using him, and he is using me.An elegant arrangement, even by your standards. ”

“I am sure your beauty also does not hurt.” Said one of the midshipmen; no laughter echoed from this tense lot.

“I forbid it!” Secapuna hissed, causing the spearmen to take another step closer. “He is a hound, like many other lords, but he does not go seeking his many conquests. They seek him, and make their demands. He prefers a woman that has control in her life; the kind that can say yes, and if no is not respected, then she have the perfect knife for the job. I may have to lay with him, but…the time is not right. Nor will it if my way is continually respected.”

Khrysis responded with a strong snort, and a desire for more wine. Such horrors going through his mind, such nightmares she had to have endured. His wife was on another ship, so he would need to drown such thoughts in less dignified manner than her company.

“Tell me.” He finally said after several moments of sickened quiet. “What is it that you will offer, and for what price?”

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2024, 02:09:24 AM »
16.B


<><><><><><> The next Day<><><><><><><><>

Billiards was first introduced to the druchii in a raid many decades ago during their raids. Their love of the game was so great they would claim the humans learned it from them, though even druchii scholars would say otherwise. While Ronan enjoyed it as well, he found its lone wide headed cue stick more useful in moving model soldiers in his war room. “The legions of chaos can strike the entire coastline, but they seem to be focusing here, along what is called Nordland. Specifically, here for some reason. Why, who knows. Maybe they think it will be easier to reach the capital of this Empire from here than other places.

“The road between here and Waldenstein is about ten miles, that follows the moons. There are thick forests on either side, either infested with Sprites or beastmen. If we are lucky sprites. If not, shades will be draining my vaults dry by hunting in there.”

The shades, and other elves around the room killed the momentum with their laughter. It might be the last they would have in a while.

“We will have to wait to see what we have, but if they are smart they have the coastal town deserted for everyone and everything not ready to fight and die. Now, by a raise of hands how many of you fought against or alongside Empire trained soldiers?” Only the Executioners, a handful of corsairs, the Shades, the assassins raised their hands. “Remember that ship I boarded a year ago? That was one of theirs.  Some of you might have fought them in that twenty-army rumble Gordindo took advantage of. Either way, I don’t have time to go in depth, so here are my thoughts on these humans.

“The humans here have a formation called the Block and Shot Formation. Typically goes as such: First you have a block of about a hundred spear or pike armed men. They will have a solid breastplate, maybe a shield. Like so.” Ronan placed a block in the middle with a spear etched into it. “To protect their flanks they prefer either swordsmen with shields, or halberdiers. Also lightly armored. All the while crossbows and guns support with range fire. To help avoid a pointless push of attrition, they will have the biggest men in the army armed with wide handled great swords use the wide guards to push the enemy pikes and spears up, while moving up to sever head and arm from their bodies. Others use glaives with hooks. They will also form their own blocks of men to act as bodyguards to officers and generals in war, as well as bodyguards of merchants in peacetime.

“Augmenting this will be bowmen forming a skirmishing wall in the front; more experienced huntsmen will act as harassers and scouts. They may call upon local militia to aid, but they will be little more than ax fodder. Still a good group of them counter charging your flank can surprise even the most blood crazed berserker the Chaos Gods will send.

“They along with the knights of this land will be in plate armor modeled off the Dwarves. Its better make than most humans, even better than some elvin craft, allowing some riders to forgo the shield for better use of long handled axes and hammers. Their most elite will ride chaos created monsters called demigriffs: Pegasus sized flightless griffons that are loyal to their rider, but you won’t see many of them thankfully in future engagements, and sadly in this one.

“Others will be armed with black powder guns. Those that are as hot blooded as the errant knights we faced this last three months will run up to the enemy, shoot a pair of pistols, then run back. The smart ones will ride to a comfortable spot and pelt the enemy with long guns and then find a new spot.

“Up near the coast with the Dowi slayers will be the Flagelents; men and women that have let the horrors of the world get to them and think they can cleans themselves by torturing themselves. They are so desperate for a good death what they lack in skill they will make up for in never running away. A few wizards with healing magic will keep them alive enough for the artillery in the back to reduce enemy vanguard into bits and pieces.

 “Said Dowi will most likely come with mail and plate armor, or some combination of the two. Armed with shields, they will make near impenetrable shield walls; but their axes and their shields will break before they will. All dowi are stuborn, ask any beastmaster that has trained them for domestic service. This will inevitably work here.  Hand Axes throwing axes, great axes; even their crossbowmen and gunners will be heavily armored and armored.

“Dreadlord Harmarand, your family are specialists in fighting dowi, yes?”

“That we do.” Said the highest ranking elf in Gorindo’s circle of followers.

“Any blanks you can help fill in?” Ronan stepped back, a beckoning hand motioning the elf to take his place in the light.

“A few, yes.” Said the elf. He was dressed in the purples of Naggrond, with twisting dragons and draconic maidens embedded on his armor. “The older they get the more stubborn they get; tougher and stronger two. They have biggest, often grayest bars, and the youngins dare not look foolish in front of them. They’ll fight hard just so they don’t get lip from their elders. If the Lord on this venture is smart, he might bring some minors to help make some trenches to deal with the enemy; either as pit traps or we can hide troops there to attack leaving horsemen, or use them as defensible position.

The lord leading this might have his great hammer body guard with him to keep him alive, but the units that should cause the most fear for us and our mutual enemy are the Iron Breakers. They say they face ten battles against unseen horrors in the deep for every one they fight on the surface. Their armor can take hits like an anvil, and if they desire to strike like a hammer they have drake guns; the power of a young flame drake at your fingertips.”

“And that is just the humans and dwarves.” Said Arhedel. “My kin will attack with all manner of longbow and arrows, some specially made for dealing with chaos. Eternal guard will fight with spear, the clans here prefer the fighting styles that utilize double bladed spears. They can’t take a barrage of arrows but in the melee they are a whirlwind of attacks. If they are here. I suspect most will be hiding out in the forests, striking the invaders as they grow closer.

“All save for the scouts and the Way Watchers. They will be setting up places to ambush the enemies, along with the Dwarf Rangers, human huntsman, and Shadow Warriors of Ulthuane.” The latter name earning distasteful cursing from the group, as Arhedel expected. “If its any consolation, they will hate working with our shades as well. If we are lucky, the War Hawk Kindreds, The Wild Wood Rangers, and the War Dancers will harass and hunt the stronger enemies, while The Tree Kin, horseman kindreds, Dryads, and Treemen crush what is left. What of the warmachines?”

Ronan returned, with more toys to use. “Judging the lay out of the city, I can see cannon and mortar being placed here in the back.” With aid of Arcada and her showy magic, a row of toy cannons formed a formidable gun line behind the village. “Dwarven cannons hit hard, but Empire Great Cannons have better range and use heavier armaments; Up to twenty pound balls of metal or stone. Either way a good shot could take a bloodthirster’s army off. The trick is to aim just before the unit in front of it, and let the ball bounce through them. We’ve all seen warriors needing peg legs or dragged kicking and screaming to the witch elves after a good cannon shot.

“That is if they don’t plan in using chain shot.”

“What now?” asked another of the lords.

Ronan let slip a smile for all to see. “Lady Miracar, care to entertain us?” Ronan held out a hand to a dainty sorceress with a brush and pallet. She took his hand and took her place center stage. With a wave of her brush an image came to life of beastmen rushing a human line of artilary. Not even three hundred paces away from the cannons, entire sections of the bloodthirsty line was little more than paste. Twirling through them were pairs of cannonballs attached by a chain. Every now and then one would break apart, letting the shrapnel act accordingly at full force No matter how rugged their skin was, it was no match for the might of such weapons. Any that still had momentum were hewed down with musket and crossbow.

“If they had gotten closer, they could have used bags filled with bullets; some as big as walnuts. They make a large spread, ripping entire sections apart. Obviously not accurate, but doesn’t need to be.

Beside them will no doubt be volley guns from the humans and organ guns from the dwarves; what they lack in a cannon’s power they make up with the number of shots. An entire unit little more than dead bodies. Behind them, Mortars and Grudge Throwers will lob stone and cannon ball at the enemy. I hear they have been experimenting with explosive rounds, so that might cause some panic.

“I cannot figure out where they will put the rocket batteries. They can do a lot of damage, but they fire wildly away from where people aim.

“The size of the incursion may be wide enough for such weapons to simply fire at will.” Said one of the nobles under Lacertus’s command. “The question is what of us and our wayward cousins from the homeland?”

<><><><><><><> Present Day <><><><><><><>

The lone Steam tank rolled up, its boiler ready to make tea and lob a cannonball a football field away. Riding at the top Victo Von Vicks adjusted the sights on his riffle. “Is that Huricanium fixed yet?”

“Sorry, Master Engineer.” Said one of the soldiers. “Another day’s labor. The instructions might as well be goblin squibble!”

“I’ve fought enough goblins to know a few bad words.” Said an Irondrake with a fresh cigar in his mouth. He took one look at the plans, then turned them around. “Have you tried turning it right-side up, you git?”

The young man took the parchment back, and smacked his head. “This would make more sense, wouldn’t it?”

“Now get ‘er fixed before you make us look bad in front of the elves!”

“Wished we had a Luminesk.” Said one of the battle wizards. He has the telltale signs of his first battle written all over him.

“Can’t help it. We work with what we have. And you master dwarf?”

“Nearly set up. We’ll have a few nasty surprises once the rest of the elves are here. Hopefully both us and the Green Prince will mark some grudges off this day against those damned Druchii. If not, we got plenty of grudges to be earned and scratched out with Chaos.

With a loud thud, the largest of the elves, one donning the hide of a white maned lion, slammed a barrel in frontq of the group; a barrel with dwarven runes of preservation.

“Me lads are already trading monster hunt stories and racist jokes with the slayers.” Said the elf. “The Sea Guard and spearmen are lined up, as are our archers. We just need a good place for the Bolt throwers. You have a good eye for war machines, have an idea so far?”

“Thinking about flimsy elvin spear chuckers is thirsty work. You sure that’s dwarven brews?”

“The only thing we drink in the mountains.”

<><><><><><><><> four days earlier.<><><><><><><>

“Cothique is a land born to take to the waves. I am half surprise we didn’t come up with the black arks.” Said Ronan. “Even their Silver Helmed knights fight deck to deck in the saddle, and mastered jumping overboard when the ship lands. Given the severity of the attacks, they might have called for aid from Cothique, where the White Lions hail from. Aside from the usual troops of spearmen and archers, I suspect Lothern Sea Guard, Shadow Warriors, and Ellyrian Reavers a plenty.

“The question is what can we bring?”

“What do you mean?” Asked one of the Witch Elf sisters on her hawkseer.

“We are going to need to be quick, but we are also going to need to be self sufficienct. Only bring what you can carry, and be prepared to do much of the manual labor.” To the roar of complaints, Ronan tried to calm them down, but the ringing of a earspliting gong did the trick. “Ouch. There are three good reasons for this.”

“We’d love to hear them.” Said a beastmaster.

“One, we need to play nice. We will capture and torture the followers of chaos as we see fit, but the rest of the rabble we are trying to defend will not take kindly to us treating slaves of their kinsfolk as servants lightly. We need to be on the same side long enough to kill the enemy lords, and keep chaos from rising a little longer in these parts. Can’t do that if we are fighting.”

That seemed to be enough to get some of the children of lords nodding their heads in approval. “Second, there will be plenty of time for them to escape, and if we try to hunt them down it may look like we are looking for more slaves. Even if they believed us, they might be helping them. Eventually this part of the world will be ripe for plunder, but we need to keep it that way. Gets despoiled now, it may never get ripe if we let them think we are the bigger threat. Also if they do flee, and they will have ample time, we may have to cut it a loss. So the less we bring the less we have to pay back the Fleetmaster.

More nodded in approval. Druchii were many things, but when it came to their wealth they could be surprisingly pragmatic. “Finaly, this would be an ample time for them to betray you, espesialy if they ae say Norscan or one of the many other creatures that slave away at the alters of chaos. Unless you can trust them with a dagger to never staby you in the back, throat, kidney, face, or loins leave them. Even I will be bringing a handful of them, and I suspect this will be the trip to earn their freedom. We just need the word from the fleetmaster.

Offline SaintofM

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Re: Hawkseer: Nordland's finest
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2024, 02:59:17 AM »
Chapter 17
That afternoon.

Hollov waited with impatient intent. An imp in service of a sorcerer of Tzeentch had requested his presence, and at a most unusual place. The tell-tale signs of Skaven littered everywhere, from scratch marks, to refuse, to their scat. Ramshackle watch towers overlooked the large cavern leading to their Underempire, just needing a gentle breeze or a strong gust of flatulence to knock them over. Yet, this was not just any warren of these insane beastly creatures.

This was the Hellpit of Clan Moulder, where all manner of monsters were bred and born. This close to the chaos wastes, they could gather warp stone and monstrosities to experiment with to their tiny hearts’ delight. Bah humbug, he thought. If he wanted to work with these idiots, he head to Lustria where Clan Pestilence made a home. Why was he being summoned here?

He hoped the answer would come flying in on an airborne chariot pulled by the sky sharks of Tzeentch. Driving it was sorcerer lord one with a permanent cackling thunder cloud following him like a lost puppy.  The chariot slid on the landing, rushing ever nearer to the panicked Skaven lookouts.

To their relief, the mad sorcerer came to a sudden half just inches from them. As they let out a final sigh of relief, the sorcerous struck the tower apart with one blow and riotous laughter.

“Very mature.” Holov scoffed. “Why have you summoned me here, Bird Watcher.”

“Lord Bacamata has come from Lord Bacamata’s most gracious of lord’s command!” Said the Tzeentchian sorcerer. “Lord Bacamata has come with an offer of soldiers! Look and behold!”

With a wave of the staff, the thick cloud cover dissipated, revealing a wagon train of trolls and spawn of chaos. All hauling carts of glowing green gemstones the size of men’s heads. Any sorcerer of any favor of the ruinous powers recognized that substance for what it was, and knew it was the sorcery given form.

“Warp stone?” Holov gasped. “And that much

“Yes. Lord Bacamata has learned the Rat freaks have learned to use it for many things. Currency, their magic, their experiments, the ammunition of their weapons, their poisons, even their food! And we will be using much of this in your quest against Nordland.”

“Why should I trust you?”

“Lord Bacamata word is solid as steel!”

Holov spat out a glob of phlegm, pelting a fallen skaven’s glaive. The already badly kept blade rusted then crumbled in the racing heartbeats of a rat.

“Lord Bacamata will choose to ignore this. Lord Bacamata knows that you need help, that your own forces lost dearly in the recent attacks. Lord Bacamata also know that Khorne and Slannesh have failed to do little more than annoy the enemy before turning on each other. Lord Bacamata come with an army of Forsaken and spawn to soak up enemy bullet and arrow. You bring stronger soldiers yes? Lord Bacamata too also come with an army of monsters of more importance than spawn and forsaken. And the Skaven here with have more to be used, yes?”

“I will see what they have. For I have my own gifts.” Putting a pair of fingers to his lips, Holov made a sickly, wet whistle. Mutants carried human captives, women and children mostly, in baskets on the backs of chaos ogres. Hornless brays of the beastmen, and those ungores not fast enough to avoid capture were carried in tuskigore hauled carts. “I too know a thing or two of how the Skaven think. Be Warry, for the rats will betray us if given a chance.”

“Why we are coming in. And I suspect you have your army and Lord Bacamata have his?”

“Of course. Would we have it any other way?”

With the arrival of the caravans their wait was made short. Black furred warriors in armor nearly on par with a Chosen of Chaos escorted a figure in tattered robes. He came with a cane in hand, and a crown of horns upon its skull. “Greetings, Lord-Things. I Grey Seer Supsuk. Come-enter. We talk-deal much-much.”

The two lords of chaos magic took one glare at each other before entering the city. They may be joined against a common foe, but neither had to like it.

 The décor of the cave city on the other hand was more to their liking. Cages lined the walls and hung on chains from the great ceiling. Each filled with the weeping, gnashing, and wailing creatures more bizarre than the last. Some creatures as the so called lesser gods intended; wolves, carnosaur, squig, giant spider and more. Others were clearly things of chaos. Manticore, hydra, griffon, minitour, and troll.

Others were clearly the work of the Skvaven. Their signature rat forms were all over them, ranging from snouts, to naked worm like tails, to the twitching movements.  Many were forms Holov had come to expect. Rats the size of familiars and cats yet the viciousness of badgers. Others the size of warhounds and worse in temperament. Others took a more gorilla stance and the size of ogres they took their name from. The prized specimens were taken to battle as manticore sized mounts. Others took inspiration from harpy, from warrior of chaos, from troll, and from other beasts of the world and the world that should be.

Hours passed as they walked tirelessly down the winding passages until they came upon a grand misshapen market. Hundreds of Skaven clerks counted their beans and exchanged their currency for goods. Most was a strait up exchange; creatures for other services. Specialized troops for specialized troops. Glowing warpstone coins for other forms of trade.

“We leave goods here, count-measure quality. We-we talk business in comfort, yes-yes?” The grey seer was not so much asking as guiding them to a cart connected on flimsy wires. A swarm of giant rats ran on a wheel to move it along, dropping off and picking up Skaven of status as they went.

With an uneasy shaking, the three lords entered. A quick squeaking threat, and smack of the staff to the head, the battered driver started the machine. 

From a bat’s eye view, the chaos sorcerers could see the fires of twisted science burn a literal glow of madness and ingenuity. One massive creature, an artificial spawn of chaos of mammoth proportions, was altered by surgery and attachment. It simply needed a little prodding before violence erupted.

Another was fitted with massive cannons worthy of any engineer. Something Holov could admire before his days of true service. Something he still did. It was also why he was still nervous about ill prepared contraptions of these rat men. His rival could enjoy the sights and sounds all he liked; he didn’t need to worry about the nature of these unhallowed devices. At least not until two of them smashed into each other.

The Grey Seer let out a series of angry squeals in the same pattern a man might swear in. “Always same, never change; Fool-fool low bid Clan Skyer again-again.  No worries, we ride in style, yes-yes.”

Both lords were glad they had helms to cover their faces, and a veil of mail over that. Otherwise they might release tell tale signs of this was not how they wanted to die. Once they did, they put in extra effort not to kiss the warpstone sprinkled ground.

“Come-Come, Throt the Unclean wishes to sell-trade with you.” Supsuk said with high pitch glee.

“Throt?” Asked Holov. “Excuse my ignorance, but I did not know Skaven lived this long.”

“Lord Bacamata wishes to know if this is the same Throt Lord Bacamata has made dealings with in the past.”

“Yes, and yes. Most Skaven do not live long, nor do we want them to. But a few blessed by the Horned Rat, and with plenty of infusions can live long-long. My Throt has made Clan Maulder so powerful I was sent to ensure the will of the council was kept.”

“And is your Verminous capital satisfied?”

“As long as I get warp tokens and the best breeders, and my own critters to experiment on, I tell council what they want to hear. Not that I need-must lie-lie. Moulder want to make better beasties, and get rich. And everyone wants their beasties. But enough of me. We here-here!”

The sounds of saws and screams echoed from a cavern with signs in multiple languages that said: Keep Out, Busy! Yet, enter they would. A pair of rat ogres each one brute large enough to carry a war shrine of chaos by themselves, guarded the doors. Sword like bones extended from their forearms, barring the entry to the madman’s laboratories.

“Business, Talk-Speak Now-Now!” Supsek squealed loudly. The two brutes looked at each other with unusual intelligence for their breed, then back at the masters of magic before it.

“Wait.” Said one of them before it ambled inside. By the time the three thought they should pull out dice, the master of the warren arrived. 

Few creatures in the aptly named Hell Pit remain unchanged by the machinations of the Master Moulders, including these blights upon the world. Throt the Unclean was nearly as large as a proper warrior dedicated to Nurgle. A large rippling gut covered his strong frame. Two strong right arms held an evil looking mancatcher pole, while much smaller left arm held his still twitching meal; an attendant that failed him from the looks of it.

“What-what?” Throt called out. “I have the Second Great Lord, and Fourth and Seventh aiding me in an experiment. Better be good, Yes-Yes!”

“Very, Oh Great Third Lord!” Supssk said with false awe. “Sorcerer kings of Chaos come with mountain of wealth for your prizes.”

“What kind of wealth?” The far larger Skaven hissed in the Grey Seer’s face. Despite the fear induced reverence these horned wizards should have invoked, Throt was far from impressed or terrified. He was already through with his meal, and hungrily ready to snatch the wizard up.

“Perhaps a taste of things to come?” Hollov suggested. He pulled out a still beating heart with warpstone shards imbedded in it.

Throt took it, and in three bites it was messily gone. “MMM, Stag Gor-Thing. Very Strong, well-seasoned.”

“Lord Bacamata also comes bearing gifts.” With a hidden tentacle, the Tzeentchen Sorcerer lord pulled a large sack from his robes. While he gently handed it to the Master Maulder, Throt greedily snatched it up. Dumping the pastry contents down his throat, he never bothered to chew.

“Cathay Pork Buns, good-good. Well flavored. I get, gather other Lords. We discuss over Dwarf-Thing Beer and over the pits.”

This meant another ride in a more open cart over the menageries of monsters. As Throt promised, other lords and their personal guards, be they warrior or beast, followed. Each one as mutated and as potent as Throt himself.

“What-what you need-need, Chaos-Things?” Throat demanded, in-between bites of a pox covered rat.

“We need fodder for enemy spears and cannons. An alliance of human, dwarf, and elf. Both woodland and from their far-off island.” Holov began. “I have my followers of the Plague Father, and a hoard of beastmen. Lord Bacamata has those twisted by the wastes and those seeking the Great Deceiver’s praise. But we need something to soften these fool we face.

“Aw, then come this way!” Throat gleefully hit a series of chimes, changing the direction of the platform. The sudden jolt caused one of the guards to fall screaming into a pack of chaos warhounds impatient to pounce.  “We have the wolf rats and giant rats, and rat swarms, but you need my Throtlinngs!”

“Throt-Ling?” Both Sorcerer lords asked. Neither one knew if this was going to be good or not, but they needed an army.

“Left overs from his other experiments.” Said one of the many lords of Hell Pit. He was large, taller than a proper Chaos Lord, horns and all, with thick rimmed googles, and all manner of surgical and measuring tools attached to his robes. “Sometimes he has time between his allotted assignments and his allotted experimenting time, and tries something on a smaller scale. Other times he has spare parts from his various assignments and he has a moment he is not hungry. These are the end results. Behold!”

The sight was a wonder in and of itself. A twisted mixture of zoo and army barracks. Creatures with multiple arms and multiple heads. Animals with human like limbs. Rats with bear like features. Adult bears the size of house cats. All murderous, all in need of something to kill.

“Its as If we have a horde of the overly blessed brothers and sisters!” Holov said in reverent tones.


Lord Bacamata nodded in agreement. “The weaklings in the south sees them as forsaken by their gods, but are they truly forsaken to be this blessed?”

“Forsaken, Blessed.” Coughed Throt. “Failures all the same. You can take them. We will send the allotment of packmasters and Master Maulders to keep them in line.” Turning his head, the master of Master Moulders saw a strange bat like creature that turned out to be a rat faced harpy. Several pups clung to her chest, greedily feeding as she handed a parchment to Throt. With a curtsy of sorts, the rat harpy flew off.

“That would be one of my creations.” Said the tall Lord. “Before I became the Seventh, I was a zoological expert of and later Chaos champion. I wanted to create a zoo greater than that found in Altdrof when some fool grey-seer used the Dreaded Thirteenth spell on me. I simply continued my search under a new patron, but I still miss the savors of the old days. I have many more that can be more to your tastes if you wish?”

“Devolvran at it again.” Said a squat lord of Hell Pit with thick rimmed glasses, and a man catching staff. “Always trying to sell your breeders to anyone with the coin."

“They are my best products. Not that my Hell Whipper beasts haven’t kept the Warp Tokens flowing like lava.”

“Enough Bickering!” bellowed the other great lord of Hell Pit. Even Throat shuddered and bowed in reverence. Despite half the size of the three armed Skaven, he stood powered even a chaos sorcerer could see was earned. “You give me-me a head ache-ache! Your slaves have been examined, and the quality of warp stone has been determined. You will have an army of five thousand throtlings, yes-yes. But you bring too much, too much. What else?”

“What do you mean what else?”

“We have plenty to spare: Giant Rats. Wolf Rats. Giant Pox Rats. Rat Hydras. Rat Ogres. Rate Ogre Bone Breakers. Six Brood Horrors that need bought-sold, and five Hell Pit Abominatiosn we have to offer. You need-want army, you have it.”

“Show us.” Holov’s crooked face contorted into a smile that would sicken even the Skaven had he not his helm and veil.  “Show us all of them!”

« Last Edit: April 22, 2024, 05:50:24 AM by SaintofM »