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Oopa, that was supposed to be Serinity 15-16 here's 16

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Oopa, that was supposed to be Serinity 15-16 here's 16

Postby SerinitysChild » Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:40 am

Chapter 16

Two weeks after the arrival of the Orcs, Serinity is ready to sail north. Briefly, she considered hiring another ship, but decided that cramped quarters are preferable to separation of her forces.

Shadow, who’s been making herself scares for the last week and a half, now sits like an ancient smirking goddess on the poop deck, watching as the ship’s crew hauls the gangplank aboard the newly named ‘Seeker.’ As she casts her eyes skyward, she sees Darganath circling the port high enough to be no bigger than a mouse.

The sudden yell of, “haul away,” returns the lynx’s attention to the ship’s departure. Doubled ships’ ropes tie three longboats to Seeker, pulling the laden ship out past the breakers. Drums mark the sweep of the oars moving in concert while the port pilot steers Seeker clear of the other ships. Half an hour of grunt work and Serinity’s Seeker is pulled clear of the breakwater barrier. Silently Shadow watches the port pilot’s dingy pull away from the ship. Then she looks up as sailors unfurl the sails, allowing them to fill with a freshening wind, causing the ship to lurch forward and splashing sea water onto Shadow’s fur. Grumbling at the need to repair the damage the water has brought to her fur, Shadow turns her head and gives the wet spots a lick and a promise.

“I’m afraid it’s going to get a lot worse before we make landfall Shadow.” Serinity is hiding her smile at the lynx’s discomfort behind her left hand, while tightly gripping a railing in her right hand.

She’s been aboard ships exactly twice in her life. Neither time did she become accustomed to the rocking motion, nor the lurching as sails filled and flapped. Enduring the motion of the ship, she suddenly realizes that not only is the ship not wallowing from side to side, as river ships tend to do, but that wind fills the sails and holds them steady.

Behind Shadow, and on a landing above the wheel, Serinity can hear the ship’s Captain passing orders to his first mate. As he passes each order, the first mate shouts them to the crew. Sails are trimmed, sea hands coil ropes, belaying pins get stowed, and the purser unfurls two banners from the mizenmast.

Serinity stares at the top banner, and then swears. Atop the mast, and belling in the wind, is the Duke of Riverbend’s standard. A pale blue background blazed with crossed gold rapiers behind a warrior’s shield. The shield is quartered with three kings’ crowns and a rampaging dragon.

Lowering her gaze to the second standard, she sees the mailed fist of the Orc’s war banner. “Now all we need is a pipe and drum corps to ride the wind announcing our presence for all the world to see.”

Before she can order the banners to be struck, Grabaug scrambles up the stairs to the poop deck, turns to Serinity, and slaps his right hand against his upper left chest in salute. “Lady, all present and accounted for.”

Knowing that, while they are away from camp, Grabaug will be doing things strictly ‘by the book’ Serinity swallows her smile, and returns his salute. However, her hand is closed in a fist signifying her higher rank. “Very good Captain, return to your post.”

Grabaug drops his salute after Serinity drops hers, and scrambles back down the ladder. Stepping up to his second in command, the big Orc gives his orders for the troops, and then makes his way forward to his quarters.

“I suppose it would be a bit embarrassing if we’d left anyone behind, now wouldn’t it?” Ashera, not even trying to hide her grin, follows Grabaug with her eyes. “Is he always such a ‘stick in the mud?’”

Serinity laughs at her friend’s comment, and then nods her head backward toward the ship’s Captain. “Not so much as our Captain, I’m afraid. Pearim says that Captain Mardalnath is not only the best Captain for us, but the only Captain for us.”

Ashera tilts her head to the left, looks at her friend, and then asks, “Why?” Lifting her head straight, she continues. “I’ve seen Elf sailors before, and have heard that they can sense a change in the weather before the weather change knows it’s happening. Yet why this Elf, and his Elves, and Half-Elf crews?”

“I think it’s because they’re Elf Blood that they’re the best choice. Grabaug and his troops is a chopping machine that’s never been beaten. I know. I marched with them when I was younger.” Pointing to tall lockers that the ship’s wright has evenly spaced around the ship’s railing, Serinity grins. “Those lockers contain Elf bows, and Dwarvin steel tipped arrows. They also hold Elf made swords and axes. Between both the ship’s crew and mercenary troops, anyone foolish enough to attack this vessel will be sliced and skewered before they can draw steel.”

**********

Just before Serinity’s Seeker ‘crosses the bar’, vanishing from the sight of Milesport, a second, smaller ship slips quietly from the harbor and gathers speed, following the larger ship northward. In the Captain’s cabin, Euriptus steadies his cup with one hand while holding his sliding plate firmly on the table. Once the ship settles into a steady motion, the Wizard releases his hold on the plate, and then takes a quick swallow of winter wine.

From under his outer robe, the Wizard pulls a small medallion, and hangs it from the pillar of wood next to his chair, muttering a few magical words to set arcane spells in motion. “That should keep anyone from spying on us,” he comments.

Turning his attention to the ship’s Captain, the Wizard pulls a sack of silver coins out of one of his inner robe’s hidden pockets tossing it to the waiting sea dog. “That should keep the crew from asking too many questions about our course,“ Euriptus says with a small smile. Putting his hand into a hidden pocket in his outer robe, Euriptus pulls out a small gold box. Affixed atop the box is a silver arrow empaled on a gold staff. The ship heaves to one side when the wind suddenly shifts, yet the arrow continues to point steadily at the forward bulkhead.

After handing the box to the ship’s Captain, Euriptus says, “Tell your helmsman that he’s to follow any change of the arrow’s path. Also, he’s not to gain any distance on the ship we’re following until I give the order.” As the ship’s Captain leaves the cabin to deliver the Wizard’s orders, Euriptus pulls a silver mirror from a second hidden pocket.

Placing a casting spell on the mirror, the Wizard watches as Darganath circles Serinity’s ship. “Keep pace with her,” mutters Euriptus. “She’ll need all the help we can give her.”

**********

On the western side of the southern continent, three covens gather to hear the words of a sorcerer. Standing in freshly enchanted circles, holding his crooked staff in his left hand, Darkling lays out his plans for the capture of the last of the Afridale race. Magic flows skyward, drawing diagrams of the northern continent, placing marks to represent the location of the Afridale, and detailing the area into which she’s moving.

“Six days travel, at her current speed, and she’ll be within the dragon’s mountains.” As he points to the anticipated spot, Darkling grins evilly. “Unless I miss my guess, those dragons are about to be handed the greatest defeat in their long history. Once she’s consumed as many dragons as she can, she’ll turn south, hunting the sword Ascension. She’ll be filled with energy and arrogant about her abilities to conquer the world. Except the foolish quatra that moves to intercept the beast, there’s little opposition in her path to Milesport.” Looking at the witches gathered around him, he adds, “Zarnar is the name of the last of the Afridale race. We can use her name in the enchantments.”

“While Zarnar is crossing the river between north and middle lands, we’ll spring our little surprise on her.” Darkling laughs at the thought of refreezing the mighty mastodon. “Make all necessary preparations for travel. We leave at dawn tomorrow. With daemon help we will arrive at the river six days before her.”

********


Largan, son of Drustoff, son of Erlamar flexes his shoulder muscles, loosening them in preparation of the battle to come. For three days, he’s wandered the back alleys and brothels of Milesport in search of the slaver that stole his freedom. Silver coins and the hard look in his eye have loosened the tongue of many hard men.

Across the giant’s back hangs a two-handed broadsword only an Orc or a giant can swing for any length of time. The sword is a gift from his new patron Serinity. With her help, the blond haired man has the chance to set right a wrong.

Pushing open the red door of a knocking shop, Largan searches for the slaver he knows is there. Half hidden in a corner across the room he spots his quarry. Moving into the room he pulls the sword from his back and says in a voice as chill as the mountains he hails from, “Stand Orc. Stand and meet me in a fair fight.”

Segrul Three Fingers pushes a willowy Elf from his lap and stands. “I could have sworn you were safely on the trade ship headed for the Southern continent,” he whispers as he picks up a double-headed axe lying on the table next to him. “It seems my oaths have been lies.”

Flexing his muscles the Orc Segrul nods to the door behind Largan and says, “Shall we take this outside? I’d hate for any of these lovely ladies to be splattered with your blood.”

Turning his back on the Orc in disdain of his size and threat, Largan steps out of the doorway and into the street. Taking three paces to his left, he turns in time to block a cowardly attack from his opponent.

As if brushing a fly from his face, the giant slams the flat side his sword’s blade into the side of the eight-foot tall Orc’s bald head. Watching the stunned look on the Orc’s face, Largan grins. “When last we met you promised me an adventurous time in strange lands. That was just before you drugged my ale. Now I make you a promise. Before the sun has time to raise a finger’s width in the sky, you’ll lie in the street with your guts scattered from curb to corner.”

“Bold words from a dead man,” replies Segrul. Lifting his axe, the Orc charges at the giant with a yell of pure joy. “The contract was for your head,” he calls to Largan while swinging his axe at the giant’s neck. “It remains to be seen if it’s still attached to your body when I deliver it.”

Slipping the point of his sword past the head of Segrul’s axe, Largan lays a small gash across the Orc’s right upper arm drawing both blood and an oath from his opponent.

“First blood,” calls Largan, then he laughs derisively at the Orc’s attempts to penetrate the sword’s defense. A second attack draws another bloody line on the Orc’s left arm.

Throwing caution to the wind, Segrul suddenly stops his back and forth swings to raise the axe above his head. Battles have been won and lost by the overhead attack of a trained Orc.

Seeing the intention of his opponent, Largan suddenly grins. Rushing forward, he slams the point of his sword through the Orc’s chest, pushing it out of Segrul’s back. As darkness steals life from the Orc, Largan leans forward, pushing his blade to the hilt in the Orc’s chest. Reaching up he takes the axe from dying hands and sets it down gently on the ground.

“I’ve seen that trick before slaver,” he whispers in the Orc’s ear. “Give my regards to the others you’ve sent to Hel. I’m sure there’ll be a warm welcome for you.”

With a jerk Largan pulls the sword’s blade from the dead Orc. Bending over the body, Largan wipes the sword clean on Segrul’s shirt. Sheathing his weapon, the giant kneels next to his fallen foe and rummages through all the pockets of the Orc’s shirt and pants. His reward is a hand full of silver coins mixed with three gold ones. He also finds a folded scrap of paper that names the people who ordered his enslavement.

Turning to some women, standing huddled in the doorway of the knocking shop he tosses them a single silver coin. “This should cover his bill,” Largan says gently.

Looking first one way and then the other, Largan turns to his right and walks away from the watching women and the dead Orc. Smiling slightly at the thought of settling a score, he makes his way to the docks and hires passage to the Southern continent.

Watching the docks fade in the distance, Largan, son of Drustoff, son of Erlamar whispers to the wind, “Thank you Lady Serinity.”
More rampant silliness.
SerinitysChild
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