Joined: 19 Jan 2006
|Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:48 am Post subject:
|The battle had already raged long and fierce before the Sea Motherís servants joined us. Cormac had fallen to a bloody heap on the ground, a badly wounded Rosemurray had leapt into the briny deep to preserve his life and six of our shipís crew had died. The bodies of warriors who had tried to board our ship covered the roughly constructed wharf, but still their companions came at us.
The Sea Motherís servants were made from water, but could have been steel for all the effect that our enemiesí weapons had upon them. They cut a swathe through the small party of leaders who had ordered the attack upon us and then began slaughtering their warriors. Chaos reigned upon the shore and warrior turned upon warrior and priest upon villager. We were mystified, but the warriors before us continued to press and we had little time to ponder too deeply upon this.
Eventually two of the Sea Motherís servants were slain and the last retreated to the sea. They had done their work well though and bodies were piled high about them. Only one of the leaders remained and he was too busy trying to right the chaos in his own community to contribute much to the decline of ours. Without his leadership the assault upon our ship slowly weakened and finally died completely. Our enemies still fought amongst themselves, but we hadnít even the chance to wipe our blades clean before a new threat appeared. One of the wrecked ships that formed this wooden archipelago had been rebuilt into a floating pyramid and from a funnel atop this smoke began to pour. From a door lights shone and chanting could be heard.
A creature of fat and flesh burst from the pyramid-shaped temple. Its vast bulk shimmered and glistened in the sunlight. It grabbed at some of the people screaming before it and shoved them into its mouth. Through the translucent surface of putrid fat we could see the skin and flesh of the consumed add to the demonís bulk.
Alvar, Ashraful and Shurly prepared to fight the demon off. I grabbed one of the islanders roughly by the shoulders and asked him why his people were fighting each other. His look was full of dread. ďYou have killed our leaders. They were the only ones who kept the priests in check.Ē On the wharf fighting continued between those who supported the priests and those who were trying to break free of them. In the distance we could see other islanders rushing into the fray. Craftsmen with their tools and farmers will hoes and shovels.
The demon made its way along the wharf. We tried to run towards the temple, but crowds of battling islanders slowed our path and some swords began to turn against us. We returned to our ship and readied ourselves to face the demon there, but the creature passed us by and headed towards the last of the islandís leaders. Combat was joined between those two. Ashraful battled through the crowds to join in. He reasoned that of the two evils it was better to side with people who had merely assaulted us than with people who had summoned demons.
Ashraful arrived at the scene of the combat just as the demon slew his opponent. Because everyone else had fled, the creature turned to face Ashraful. Our companion retreated slowly, and in doing so he led the creature to our ship. We had no choice but to fight and, although most of us did not wish it, we now became caught up in a civil war.
On the shore faces turned once more to our vessel. The demon was strong, but we were stronger and it was not long before we were carving great words in its blood.
As if in answer to our victory another demon appeared from the temple. This was a giant frog-like thing with huge claws. It bounded down the wharf towards us, scattering villagers in its wake. We left our ship and ran to engage it. People were conscious of us now and of our strength. They moved rapidly from our path.
With a battle-cry and the clash of iron we engaged this new demon. It was even stronger than the last and Shurly was fortunate to survive one slash from its claws. Still, we were stronger and the words we carved in this demonís blood were even more deeply written than the last.
Some of the islanders proclaimed that they were with us, but even they kept their distance from the demon-slayers. With demon blood as our cloak, we made for the temple. The crowd parted like long grass before a wheel as we marched grim-faced towards the fey and foul pyramid. Ahead of us priests scattered and screeched. Alvar grabbed at one and shook him till blood came from his nose. ďPleaseĒ, he whimpered, ďI did not choose to be a priest. I just want to go home.Ē We pushed these weaklings aside and left them for our followers to deal with as they saw fit.
The lights had faded in the temple and the door slammed shut in our faces. I started to batter the door while Alvar hunted for tinder to set this place alight. On the inside we heard screams and yells. One voice defiantly warned us not to enter the sacred place and threatened to summon the Kraken against us.
Ashraful joined me and together we battered the door down. Cowering priests filled the interior and most of these raised their arms as shields and whimpered as we kicked our way through the remains of the door. Some hardier specimens raised daggers to defend themselves and one stern-faced individual stood ready to hammer upon a great iron bell. I ignored the lesser priests and brushed dagger strokes aside as I charged the bell-ringer. I could not reach him before he made one toll upon the bell, but he was dead before he could make a second.
The remaining priests quickly surrendered to us. Many of these claimed that they were not priests by choice and we noted that one had tattoos of the Sea Mother upon his arms. We released these mewling cowards and assumed that our followers on the wharf would punish them if they deserved it. Shurly picked a fight with one priest and when this man responded to his taunts Alvar cut him down from behind. This cut short any question of our being too lenient.
Once the priests in the atrium had been cleared away we saw a ladder leading into the hold of the ship. Rank smoke coiled from the void beneath the ladder. Ashraful began to clamber down cautiously. I leapt into the hole, hoping to gain some element of surprise. I landed heavily on my ankle and heard a chanting in the darkness. I looked up through the smoke and incense to see a dark priest in a pentagram, a ball of pearly light growing in the air in front of him. Ashraful leapt from the ladder to join me and together we swept towards the priest and cut him down before he could complete his incantation.
The pearly light faded and died and we were left in darkness. The gentle lapping of water against the hull, the gurgling of the priestís blood and Ashrafulís rasping breaths sounded almost serene after the noise and violence of combat that had gone before.