The Tiran Wars: Liberty, at all Costs

Discussion in 'Campfire Stories' started by Peril, Oct 1, 2011.

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  1. johannmaximus

    johannmaximus Well-Known Member

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    The trek down to the mercenary camp was a fairly standard affair; the white oversmocks helped concealed their form above the snowline, and their dark green clothing and headscarves enabled them to hide amongst the coniferous trees. The Vanir camp was the first competent outpost the Strike Team had encountered; the guard towers were cleared of obstructions for 50 yards and had overlapping lines of fire, there were several strong points built in the area to provide a safe place to fall back to, and the patrols extended a short way into the forest and always had two people. It was a very well put together system. About the only things going for Red were the facts that the guards had predictable paths through the forests and a few of the guard towers containing inattentive guards. After the Strike Team split apart to cover more ground, Red took sketches of the campsite from several vantage points, adding notes about general Vanir construction, details about the defences, and other observations that Red believed would be of use to the resistance.

    After the sketches were complete, Red played the long wait, slowly crawling to the best point to infiltrate into the inner camp. It took hours of patient waiting, but the tedium was eventually paid off as the nearby guards took their collective eyes off of Red's chosen infiltration spot. When that moment came, Red calmly walked into the inner compound and smoothly disappeared into the shadows of the camp. With the Sun low in the sky, the deep shadows provided enough cover for Red to sneak around the edges of the camp, taking mental notes of every interesting detail for later recording. The camp was unusually active for the time of evening, with mercenaries running about, hastily erecting barricades to connect the guard towers together, seemingly in an attempt to construct a wall to surround the entire compound. Others were rushing around with handcarts containing foul smelling remains, all converging to an already strongly burning bonfire, spewing forth thick, black smoke into the sky, giving the setting Sun a dull red tinge. Most of the corpses wore traditional Khitain garb, and covered the spectrum of age, with both men and women represented. It was probable that these corpses were the former citizens of the decimated village. There was ample evidence here to prove that the Northerners were committing large scale massacres. Red couldn't figure out why the Northmen would commit such an atrocity. Red figured that the Strike Team's main mission now was to figure out why the mercenaries were carrying out such widespread slaughter. It seemed that the Strike Team now needed to figure out why this massacre was happening. Red would investigate the campsite for a few more hours before meeting up with the Strike Team at their predawn rendezvous.
     
  2. braetwalda

    braetwalda Well-Known Member

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    Joshua wouldn’t have to travel far into the trees before finding Sun Mei kneeling before a large tree sobbing her eyes out. Despite the pair of hand shaped scorch marks visible upon the trees broad trunk, Mei would feel considerably cooler than she had the last time he’d put his arms around her indicating that if nothing else that the rage that had been building up inside of her had been safely defused for the time being at least.

    Hearing his promise that he had no intention of leaving her despite what Glasya had said Mei would turn to look at him with a hopeful look in her tear filled eyes “Y-you promise?” she asked in Khitain, feeling far too distracted to cope with a foreign tongue at this point in time.

    After reluctantly nodding her head in response to his request that she give Alia a chance, one that Mei felt the woman didn’t deserve, she’d blurt out a question that had been quietly prying at her mind for awhile now with her encounter with Alia dragging it once again to the fore “When will you marry me Joshua? I-I want t-to be your wife s-s-so desperately a-and I can’t s-s-stand all these beautiful women trying to t-take you away from m-me, p-please…I –I need to know!” she sobbed. This wasn’t fair; surely he knew how much she loved him? How the mere possibility that she couldn’t spend the rest of her life tending and caring for him was driving her mad to the point that even the merest hint that another woman enjoyed his company would send her spiralling into a jealous rage even though deep down she knew that Joshua would never betray her in such a way.

    With tears still streaming down her face she would patiently wait for the love of her life; her Ka-Me, to answer her question before following him back to the others, if that is what he desired to her to do.



    It was as the light was beginning to fade and Red was setting out to meet back up with the rest of her team that she would witness something that would not only connect the dots of what she’d previously witnessed but also shed a whole new light on the situation.

    It started with a sudden cry coming from the opposite side of the camp, prompting the majority of the Northmen to abandon their current task and rush towards one of the half built barricades in time to meet a rabble of peasants coming from out of the trees clearly intent on attacking them, however the longer Red watched the engagement the more it struck her that something was seriously wrong.

    She would watch as the peasants mindlessly hurled themselves at the barricades seemingly uncaring of any injuries they may sustain or the heavily armed and armoured warriors that manned them; fighting them with their bare hands despite the horrific wounds inflicted upon them. A large Jotun warrior easily removing the arm from one man’s body only to then recoil in horror as the peasant leap for this throat seemingly intent to tear it out with his teeth whilst another warrior was dragged away screaming by another pair with apparent ease.

    Despite these…unnatural…attributes it was clear that the Northmen would still be the victors of this brief skirmish but the losses and injuries they were suffering were far from sustainable. It was also at this moment that she would notice that save for the sound of fighting coming form the camp that the woodland around her had become eerily quiet.
     
  3. Lord Regal

    Lord Regal The West Team Sheriff

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    All Joshua could really do in response to Mei's confirmation-seeking was nod...he didn't really know what else to say. The rest of her speech though..."Mei...I want to marry you, you know that. And...I'm happy to do that as soon as you want, and we find someone to officiate. I already said we'll do two weddings...our real one and the one they'll insist on showing us off to all of Jehanna for." His distaste for the latter was blatant as he carried on. "But...I have to be honest with you and say I don't know who you think is trying to take me away from you. Er, well, outside Alia trying to kill me just now...but I don't think that's what you meant..." He was making a mess of this, he knew it. He pulled her close again as he tried to plan out his next words. "You saw me rebuke Glasya back at the magi temple...and she appears to have something for Sync now anyway, which is...troubling on its own, but...Gwyll loves the thought of us together, judging from her..." here the Swordmaster blushed and hesitated, "...baby comment...and Alia very obviously would rather have me dead than alive right now, though I'm hoping that at least changes to tolerance...from what I can see no one is trying to take you away from me. And if you think they are, I want you to tell me, in private, after the conversation is over. I can promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt no one is going to steal me away from you during a single conversation. We can discuss it after, and handle it then. Does that sound agreeable to you?" If she agreed, he'd gently guide her back to the others after a kiss...if not, well, he'd kiss her anyway, but would proceed to listen to her counterpoint...after all, there was no point in a one-sided relationship...if she didn't like his approach she had every right to say so...
     
  4. braetwalda

    braetwalda Well-Known Member

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    She'd known it had been silly for her to believe such a thing, but hearing him speak aloud that no one was going to take him away from her and that he would marry her as soon as they found the time and a priest willing to do so was enough to allay some if not all of her paranoid fears "I-I’m s-sorry...I'm being s-silly aren't I?" Mei stammered as he held her in his strong arms, her head pressed against his chest so that she could hear the sound of his breathing and feel the beating of his heart "...it's just that...everything I've ever had I've had to share and I-I don't want to share you...I'm also scared that this is just some wonderful dream and that I'll wake up and you'll be gone...silly I know" she said giving a single humourless laugh before lapsing once again into silence, listening as Joshua suggested that she should just talk to him about her fears so that they could find a solution to the problem together, which she had to admit was a better idea than bottling it all up and then exploding into a violent rage.

    Nodding her head in agreement to his suggestion she'd then return his kiss; her hand automatically moving to twine itself within his hair as she did so, wondering how she could ever have been so foolish as to believe that he would simply leave her for the first pretty girl to smile at him. Taking his hand in her own, she would then follow him back to the others speaking in a low voice as she did so "I fear finding someone willing to marry us may be harder than I first thought it would be...we may even have to wait until we leave Khitai for a place where you being a foreign...not Khitain...doesn't matter" she said, only just managing to stop herself from using the term Foreign Barbarian a phrase that she’d heard whispered behind her back ever since joining the rebel army with only her position as a magi preventing them from being voiced to her face or anything far worse from happening. She still wasn’t sure as to how accepting of her marriage to Joshua her mother would be either, a fact that still worried her no end.

    When they finally reached the others they would find that save for Sync who needed be carried that the rest of the group was ready to move.

    Before long the group was back at the village in which they’d spent the previous night along with the charred corpses of the creatures that they had killed still lying upon the hard packed ground “I still hate this place…though I suppose we’ll have to stop” Mei whispered to Joshua as they drew closer to the small huddle of houses
    “Something is seriously wrong with this place…What happened here?” Glasya asked, turning her hooded head back and forth so as to study her surroundings before speaking again “I’m not sure stopping here would be wise even if it does meaning passing up the chance of a bed”
     
  5. johannmaximus

    johannmaximus Well-Known Member

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    Twilight was slowly taking over as the Sun sank behind the mountains. Soon, it would be too dark to read without gaslight, and anything outside the campfires of the mercenaries would be nearly invisible until moonrise. But for now, the twilight produced enough light to make everything faintly visible. Some would call the twilight glow eerie, but Red had never subscribed to such views. The sun was only somewhat less than six degrees below the horizon; its sunlight reflecting off the upper atmosphere. There was no need to make up spooky legends to describe the effect. The camp was still strangely active, however. Usually, the Nords tribes would have settled around their campfires and broken out their smoked salmon and karsk. But these particular examples were still barricading their campsite, forming defensive lines more appropriate to a small fortress. Suddenly, a loud screech erupted from the other end of the camp, reminding Red of the wild beasts that used to surround Mauranger, until the hunting and taming programs had produced their results. That sound prompted every Nord to cease their tasks and rush to the source of the noise, the end of the camp near the trail to the abandoned village that the Strike Group had reconnoitered a couple of days ago. But there should not have been anything coming from the area that would warrant a total alert. Any wild beasts could be easily have been dispatched with the guard complement stationed at the checkpoint, especially with the extensive defensive measures the Nords had established.

    Red sneaked towards the source of the commotion, an easy task given that the entire camp was single mindedly focused on the disturbance. The vantage point that Red found afforded an unobstructed view of the scene; the bonfires making up the difference of the fading light of the Sun as it sank towards twelve degrees below horizon. The unfolding scene was one of the strangest things Red had seen since the first departure from Mauranger. Countless villagers were storming the barricade. It was uncertain where the people had come from; the path they had come up contained only destruction and emptiness. The attackers launched themselves upon the barrier, as careless as the waves of the fjords breaking against the cliff faces. The thing that stood out to Red, after a quick observation, was the extremely high pain tolerance of the villagers, as if they had consumed large amounts of efedrin. They attacked the Nords barehanded, their nails and teeth the only weapons they utilized. Though the Nords were outnumbered, their technological advantage would, predictably, render them the winners of this battle, though the drug induced assault would allow the villagers to claim quite a few of the defenders before they were defeated to a man, woman, child. Why were children attacking this camp? Children were much too young to be involved in warfare. Red couldn't figure out why the former villagers would use children as soldiers. It was just another mystery of this region that Red would have to investigate, or ask Loolayannie about.

    The battle was over after a few minutes; it was a most interesting encounter. The villagers were the epitome of brute force tactics. There wasn't a single hint of tactics in any of these attacks. It was rush, occasionally stumble, and nothing more. Not a single one had a weapon, though they had the tenacity to inflict massive casualties on the defenders. As the battle wound down, the sounds of the forest didn't return. The surroundings were eerily quiet. None of the regular forest sounds were present; the only noises were the moans and screams of the injured Nords. Every attacking villager was slaughtered; many of them had taken numerous wounds to bring down. As the Nords began to treat to their wounded, Red slipped away under the cover of astronaumical twilight, and headed to the Strike Team's rendezvous point, where Red would describe everything that had been observed, while writing it down on some of the paper that had been brought along. They would sleep in 50% watch; two people sleeping four hours while the other two kept watch for any anomolies.
     
  6. braetwalda

    braetwalda Well-Known Member

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    It was after Red had recounted what she had witnessed to the rest of the team that they would do likewise, describing the scene that had unfolded as viewed from their unique vantage points “there’s something seriously wrong here Iceman…” Daniel spoke in a low voice after recounting his own version of events, with the main details marrying up with what Red had seen for herself “…I’ve seen peasant levies fight in battle, Arnold has too and they did not fight like those…people…did” he said with Arnold quickly adding his voice to the discussion “he’s right peasants are only ever there to add weight to the back ranks, the first sniff of combat and they just scatter…they thought like gods damned berserkers!” he said, jabbing a finger in the direction of the enemy camp from which the distant sounds of fighting could be heard prompting those within the strike team to suspect that a second assault was underway.

    It was as they were sitting there within the darkness, listening to the distant sounds of combat that they would also hear the rustling of undergrowth and the snapping of twigs that betrayed the presence of someone unskilled in the art of field craft.

    Grabbing their bows Arnold and Daniel would move to a half crouch as Edward meanwhile drew his sword. Moments later a…thing…burst out from the bushes behind Red followed by a pair of arrows that went whistling past her head towards the creature, making it clear that they had no intention in trying to talk to whatever it was that was attacking them.

    At first glance the creature appeared to be yet another local peasant dressed in ragged clothes, and yet as it drew closer Red could see the pallid, bloated flesh, yellow eyes and long, lank hair as if the thing had been submerged under water for several months and had started to go rotten.

    With one arrow striking its chest and another in its throat, Edward would quickly leap to his feet and drive his sword deep into its side in what should have been a fatal blow. Yet like the arrows the creature simply shrugged off the injury as it continued its charge. After pausing long enough to deliver what seemed like a contemptuous blow that sent Edward stumbling to the ground as if he were a mere child, the creature would make a grab for Red clearly intending to tear out her throat with its teeth, with Edwards sword still lodged deep in its side. Whatever this thing was it was no mere peasant that was for sure and it was coming straight for her.
     
  7. johannmaximus

    johannmaximus Well-Known Member

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    At the meeting point, the other members of the Strike Team recounted their observations. Their accounts jived up with Red's own. Daniel and Arnold added in their previous experiences with peasants in warfare. They were of a consensus that farmers and laborers never made good soldiers; meant only for intimidation before a battle. "Your conclusion has possibility," Red responded. "Sozialteori suggest a Brechpunkt. People accept Bedrücktheit so much. The Bedrücktheit reaches this Brechpunkt. The people will fight now until the Bedrücktheiter has death. The Nord bedrück the people here. They fight." The Strike Team stared at Red as the explanation concluded. "Iceman, you know we don't understand your technical icespeak, right?" Daniel asked, with the others nodding in agreement. "Oh... right. Forgive me." Red went on to attempt a translation that the Strike Team could understand, with added interpretive hand gestures. "Sozialteori is science of people together. It is giant groups. Brechpunkt is strain of mind. The strain causes Brech of mind. Bedrücktheit is the cause of Brech of mind. Have you understanding?" The Strike Team would have shrugged and attempted to steer the conversation to a different topic, but the group was interrupted.

    A cacaphony of stumbling made its way to the campsite. Daniel and Arnold pulled out their bows, Edward pulled out his sword, and Red pulled out the spada da lata. The assailant revealed itself, a villager wearing ragged clothing, and charged at Red. Daniel and Arnold released their arrors, both striking the attacker. With one arrow in the neck and the other in the chest, the assailant should have died. However, it decided to not die and continued its charge. Edward stabbed them in their side, and got taken down for his trouble. The juggernaut continued its charge towards Red, who was able to take a cut to the side without halting its attack. Red was forced to take a step to the side to avoid its flail, though Red did manage to get a good look at the assailant. It had the smell and look of a corpse that had been soaking in a bog for a month. A glance at its eyes showed no hint of intelligence, and it was animalistically focused on attacking Red. Its several wounds should have desanguinated the creature, but there was hardly any evidence of blood loss. Its endurance could have stemmed from the creature's use of efedrin, but its lack of bleeding made no sense.

    It was as if it was a walking corpse. One of them jiangshi Loolayannie had talked about. If these things were actually roaming the countryside, the Strike Team had to get back to the rebel camp as quickly as possible and warn the soldiers. "Strike Team, we must to our camp to return to. We must about the jiangshi to warn." It was uncertain how one could kill something that was capable of shrugging off an arrow to the neck, regardless of its other mortal wounds. It seems it would only be possible to cripple it. The Balone style didn't have many low slashing cuts, but Red could adapt to this situation. After sidestepping around the creature, Red gave it several cuts, severing one leg at the shin and the other at the knee. "We return now to the camp," Red ordered, while helping Edward back on his feet. The Nords were normal humans; it would be simple to defeat them when they were compared to these jiangshi. If the jiangshi managed to arrive at the rebel camp before the rebels prepared, then it could spell the end of the whole revolution. The Strike Team would immediately head back to the camp as quickly as possible. The Nords should be distracted enough to allow the Strike Team to escape without notice.
     
  8. braetwalda

    braetwalda Well-Known Member

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    Despite the wounds that had been inflicted upon the creature would continue its attack, albeit at a more sluggish pace as it tried to haul itself towards Red with the multitude of wounds seeming to have some effect against it if not the desired result of killing it outright. Placing a booted foot upon its back Edward would rip his sword free of the creature’s side, opening up the wound so that thick black blood could exit the wound with it not so much pouring as falling out. Delivering a single cleaver like blow to the top of the creatures head with his sword Edward would finally slay the thing "well...I'm glad that worked else I was all out of ideas" the mercenary muttered, using the Jiangshi's tunic to wipe the gore from his blade before following Red and the others into the trees.

    It would be early morning when they finally returned to the encampment with the team having travelled for most of the night to bring word of their discovery to the rest of the rebel company. After being allowed to enter by the sentries on duty the strike team would find that they weren't the only ones to awake at such an ungodly hour as soldiers either having returned from sentry duties or making ready to take their turn quietly cooked their breakfast along with those who were simply early risers. Likewise Red would spy the dim light of a candle coming from Leilani's tent revealing that she too was most likely awake though the tent in which Joshua and Mei usually slept was still dark leading her to suspect that they were yet to return from their trip into the jungle.