The Stormtails <Wildlands>

An inlet along eastern coast the northern stretch of the Jadesnake River, the Stormtails essentially consist of a low-rising formation of rocks that have, over the years, been naturally carved out in such a way as to create an agrarian harbor, free from the south to north flow of the greater river beside it.
Large enough to moor more than a few vessels in, it is at once both an ideal fishing ground and source of water for the nearby settlement of Crown's Refuge, nestled as it is upon the rise known as Refuge Bluff a short distance to the east.
Shimmering rocks of various tones of cobalt and dove dapple the sandy shores of the inlet, surrounded as they are by lush verdant grasses and the remnants of trees that have had the misfortune of growing too close to the rocky earth, backed by others that - as fate has decided - managed to find root in the more fertile soils behind them. In all, it is an idyllic.
The Verdigras Forest, a virtually endless stretch of forest that flanks much of the eastern coast of the Jadesnake that flows around it, sweeps away to the south; the horizon a blur of lively shades of green and emerald, showing little of what may rest upon the other side of the great canopy.
One can head south east into the forest itself, or can follow the edge of the Verdigras around to the north east, towards that natural rise that holds upon it one of the only bastions of human life within these wild lands.

"The strength of the Emperor is Humanity, and the strength of Humanity is the Emperor.
If one turns from the other we shall all become the Lost and the Damned."
- Brother Carthas Songspire, 273ATA

Dirk has taken to climbing the rocks like the great explorer he always wanted to be, armed with a toy sword, swinging and jabbing with all the skills of a man that just can't use a sword. Lucky the town isn't burning because, he for one, wouldn't be much help in clearing the streets of Wildlings.

Ashore of the Pride of Darkwater are the Flying Daggers, their steel chain and plate occationally flickering in the light as they stand in a small group. They have apparently left most of their heavy gear in the ship and are outfitted in 'combat' gear; namely, that which they are most maneuverable in.

Lucius Nepos stands amoung the group, in the process of lighting his lamp, so he can get some more human-friendly light than the blue seraphite shield he carries.

A small party of individuals dressed in varying clothes, all possesing different pieces of equipment suggesting the possesion of the skills that go along with such materials, and some possesing simple hand torches make their way up the shore from the direction of the Pride of Darkwater that has moored just up river. Many shouts can be heard from the direction of the Pride as the Deepers onboard undergo the procedures required to ensure the Darkwater stays put.

At the front of this number a certain wiry figure leads them towards the original landing party. Quite apparent that he is taking some pains to put on a self-confident face for the party he tromps along, a somewhat curious expression on his face as he glances out in the direction of the Verdigrass forest. Eventually the group is upon the others and the wiry figure, whom by this time can clearly be indentified as Master Sprigg, wastes no time in addressing Dirk. "Dirk. Kindly get yourself off that rock unless you'd like to wait back on the boat." His voice is rather cold but authoritative at the same time. His head snaps back to Lucius, "I take it from Dirk's performance that there haven't been any problems?"

Harper, standing amongst the soldiers, is busy trying to watch the darkened surroundings, muttering quietly to himself.

Dirk looks up from his place on the rocks, hanging in an awkward position between thrust and retreat, when Sprigg points him out. "Oh... ok, Mister Sprigg. One second." Humbly dumbly, didn't fall down, he climbed down and all the King's man ain't necessary to come help him either.

"No problems and the surrounding area is secure. He's been.. well, I don't really know what to say. More importantly - where are we to meet the party from the town. Is there a party, in any case, coming to meet?" Asks Lucius, the lantern lowering down a bit and casting a warm light over the area. His demeanor is calm, in any case, and markedly neutral.

"Well the Pride insists that this must be the place.", Wesley comments to Lucius, his eyes for a moment scanning the forest that lies in front of them. Once he is done however he quietly confides to Lucius, "I've not a clue in regards to anyone meeting us. We've certainly made enough noise coming in so perhaps our presence was noticed but we may have to do some scouting to locate the settlement ourselves."

He looks back to the entire landing party with a frown, "We've brought along some basic provisions but we won't be offloading any of the critical supplies until we're sure we are at the right place...and assuming we aren't dragged into Shadow by whatever lives in that Light forsaken forest." He steps back away from Lucius, giving him a good wide confident smile that anyone who was observing the pair would be able to note in the torch and lamp light.

"That's just as well, because the troops are not unloading until we're sure this is a safe area. However.. I don't know if you were looking at the sky before, but you could clearly see hearth fires to the northeast. The smoke was rising up in orderly fashion. I've been to Crown's Reach before and recognized the landscape.. so to the northeast we march." Lucius now turns to the rest of the Daggers, handing off his lantern to the lead one (who happens to be Harper). "Alright. Get into a double column and ready to march."

Loeden Whicker, the solitary carpenter of the project, makes her way down the gangplank without a much ado. A simple satchel is slung over her shoulder, and some tools hang at her belt. "Well, this don't look all tha' special.. I 'spected more outside such a big wall." She muses, amiably. Dirk moves up beside Sly, shaking his head. "I was just wasting time you know... they kept telling me to shut up, and use my eyes more then my mouth, and that got boring after awhile." He nods at the latest arrival, and moves into a line to.. well, move out.

"We'll be wanting some Bladesmen to stay behind with the Pride and establish a camp nearby, Lucius.", Wilesly adds, his eyes drifting to Harper whom he recongizes in the lamp light. "One of you're better ones preferably. When we do start offloading supplies we need to make sure they are protected and depending on our arrival at the settlement it might be a good idea to have a fallback point should things go poorly." He turns to quirk a smirk at Dirk, "Don't worry about it Dirk. Here why don't you go have a word with Mistress Whicker? I'm sure she could appreciate the company." Finished with Dirk he loosk back to Lucius, "Just a few of the men."

There is a prompt and sudden flare of light from the direction of Crown's Refuge; a flare that is highlighted purely because of the darkness that now engulfs the Wildlands surrounding them. Like an artificial dawn, that light surges, and then promptly dies... like a ball of fire.

"If you don't think the Deepers are enough to protect the ship, then I'll leave two. Harper and Birch, you stay...” Lucius begins, but his attention is shifted by the flare which launches into the night sky. "I do not know what in the Light that was, but I think we should move."

Harper gawks at the flare of light, the boy fumbling with the lantern and handing it back, seeming glad of the opportunity to stay at the ship. "Er... here, we have plenty here, right? Light...looks like whatever happened a few weeks ago."

Wilesly begins to nod towards Lucius satisfied when his eyes first are caught by the beginning burst of light from the fireball. He bites at his lower lip for a second before he turns to address Harper, "Harper take the rest of the party back to the boat. See if we can't get a proper camp set up just off the Pride."

He does a quick headcount of those that would remain, frowns, and then gravely adds to the rest of the party who may be very well shocked by the ball of light, "Any curious parties?".

"Jus' Loeden'll be fine." The carpenter responds, slinking up next to the leaders of the group. "...Izzat normal, or not?" She asks, eyebrows shooting upwards. "Happened a few weeks ago, y'say?"

Dirk's eyebrows rise up, up, squint, back down. "Say... last time I was here, and I remember this clearly, they didn't have balls of fire flying overhead." He bites his lips, throwing a quick glance to Loeden, before nodding eagerly. "I'll go. I wanta see."

"Yes, before we left Fastheld. It was at about third watch, close to now I think." Lucius comments to Loeden, and then glances to Paelnor. He nods in confirmation of Sly's order. "I'm taking the seven other Daggers with us to go check it out. We've done enough talking. Move." And with that Lucius and the seven troops, walking in side by side columns, begin to head to the northeast.

Crown's Approach <Wildlands>

The borderline between the ocean of forest known as Verdigris, and the sovereign hilltop township of Crown's Refuge, Crown's Approach is little more than an outpost that marks the divide between dense vegetation and the hill upon which Crown's Refuge has been established.
A pebble stone trail leads from the forest depths to the outer palisade of the township beyond; a sentry maintained by the narrow yet otherwise sturdy and secure watchtower that has been built between the main gate of Crown's Refuge and the very edge of the Verdigris beyond, marking the line between natural and civilized Wildlands.
The wooden watchtower, it should be noted, is at times "manned" by both Human and Wildling alike; the former to watch for wild animals that express a curiosity in the dealings of mankind, with the latter maintaining vigil in case of hostile Wildling attacks.
One can head uphill along the path and towards the palisade of the township of Crown's Refuge itself, or travel further south into the wilds of the Verdigris beyond. A fork in the trail heads off to the east, coiling around the hill, leading to a fork in the trail known as the Crossroad. Finally, following the edge of the Verdigris to the southwest leads to an inlet of water along the coast of the Jadesnake known locally as the Stormtails.

The scene that presents those who stumble upon it is one a very specific form of general carnage known to those of a military upbringing call a "Siege". What they didn't write in the textbooks, however, is that Wildlings could mount them. Big pitch-skinned Wildlings that are currently in the process of swarming out of the Verdigras and launching a slow charge up the hill, hampered by the waves of arrows that the defenders of the Crown's Refuge Palisade send forth to greet them.

Dead Wildlings litter what is fast becoming a battlefield, and one might even notice that a somewhat old Wildling - clad in a worn old rug that seems to be a cruel parody of a robe - lies dead near the forest line. One surrounded by charred grass.

However, Crown's Refuge itself doesn't seem to have fared much better. Though there are men alive to keep firing arrows down, the main gate seems to have been blown completely away, and much of the Palisade around it is covered in scorched marks, crackles of fire, and the burned husks of what used to be men.

It seems that no one has noticed the small party arriving from the west yet, however. Small mercy.

"Boiling ass-shadows..." Loeden murmurs as she trots along after the group, eyes widening at the sight of the fracas. Slowing to a wary amble, she adds defensively, "Ah hope none of yeh expect me to fix nothin' with that goin' on. It's what we folks in th' business call a 'pre-existing condition'."

Well.. Shades! Lucius certainly wasn't expecting a party of Wildlings to be attacking the city. As soon as the scene becomes evident from the road, Lucius stops, seizes his iron spear in his right hand and lowers down, motioning with the spear so that the troops follow his lead. He walks, still crouched, towards Sly, all the while indicating for the soldiers to spread out in a 'hollow square', that is a square around the civilians. "We must move quickly. We need to assess the progress of the battle.. and it doesn't look good. Keep your voices down." He says in a loud enough voice so that the group can just make the words out.

"Light's Bless." Dirk saids, watching the fighting from a safe distance. "We're not.. still going in there are we?" One look at all the fighting has him paling and losing his adventurer spirit. Shame.

"Lucius I believe this would be adequately satisfied as a 'military situation'." Wilesly comments after having gotten down low enough but in a position to give him some view of the battle. He motions his hand down words for any others who may not have yet done the same. " We need to reach the Refuge if at all possible. Those are your instructions. Now you tell me what you need from us." His own hand reaches down to draw forth his own blade which he balances on his knee.

The charging Wildlings advance up the hill in waves, the leading most of these heading towards what used to be the main gate, jaws snapping and claws flexing in obvious exitement of the easy entry into the Human town that has been presented (by the now dead Mage), and the slaughter that will no doubt follow. Oh yes, blood will flow. The defenders that are forming a defensive line at the Palisade Gate will just be a bonus. Especially the one with that cold gaze, and those two blades, and that determined flourish, and...

As one, the horde of Wildlings advancing on the entrance to Crown's Refuge promptly stop, each looking as stunned as a knight who's dug in his spurs and roared at his horse to charge - only to have it turn it's head and calmly inform him that it just isn't in the mood just now, thank you.

Oh, they know this one. They killed this one. Now he's come back to haunt them. Shades.

"In Rowena's name." the commanding tones of the lead defender warn, invoking the highest power of faith and honor that his personal strength can call upon, rapier leading as he gestures to the massing Wildlings. "You will not cross this gate."

A flourish of his blades prompts some of the Wildlings to take a cautious step back; only for a dominating snarl, one as powerful as the speaker's own voice, to warn them against such an action. A Warchief. And so, torn between a rock and a hardplace (or claws and hard steel) the Wildlings push on.

The defenders at the broken gate hold their positions, and soon the song of steel against claws, of shouts against snarls, of life against death, fills the air against the backdrop of singing missiles, screaming men, burning wood, and charging Wildlings.

The line holds, thanks to those at the gate defending it, and the arrows of those above raining death upon those still advancing - arrows from one glowing bow, it seems, cutting down more Wildlings than most - but the horde seems endless, and it only seems a matter of time before it will break. Time that those attempting to close the second gate are currently borrowing. Time that the seething mass of Wildlings wish to consume.

All seems bleak indeed.

"Assess? Y'can see just by lookin' at 'em, they're up shit creek." Loeden replies under her breath. She settles for staying in that little civillian niche among the handfull of flying daggers, looking in general less than pleased to be around. "'Oo's Rowena?"

Lucius Nepos tries to think quick. In light of the siege and Wildlings, this is not an easy thing to do - Lucius pauses for a few seconds before making his mind up. Before speaking his plans, though, he blows the light out in his lantern and hastily unfolds a thin leather covering from a pouch on his belt, putting it over his shield to block the light.

"You see the Palisade in the distance, the path that runs around Crown's Reach?" Lucius motions towards the one he mentioned a moment ago. "We can't see the extent of the Wildlings and what risk they pose. But what we can see, is that they are facing the town, driving forward like a machine, a meat grinder. They have tunnel vision. We must move to the Palisade and move around. Even the smallest party may influence the direction of a battle, especially.. at night."

With that, Lucius moves at a crouch walk towards the circuit, balancing some degree of stealth and speed the best he can. The troops move behind him, calm but ready

"Lets get to it then.", Wilesly agrees, his sword snapping up off his leg and into hand. He looks back to Dirk and Loeden, "Stay together. Stay with Lucius and I." He stays low and moves quickly after Lucius. "I wonder if this constitutes a 'stupid action likely to get me killed.'", Sly muses to himself grimly. Either way his grip tightens beneath the brilliantly jeweled gold quillions of his sword, shoning brightly in the flames that erupt from the Refuge.

"Probably." The carpenter replies. Her hand strays to the woodcutting axe at her waist, then away, as she follows the group with sour but dogged determination.

The troops are able to move mostly undetected around the palisade of the township, abandoned by defenders who've instead decided to clog the flow of Wildlings into the gate. The eight Flying Daggers and their civilian escorts now move around the wall, hugging the wooden structure.

As Lucius rounds a certain quantity of wall, he can finally see the exposed left flank of the Wildling troops assaulting the gate. A wry grin places itself briefly on his face, and he orders the men with a spearmotion into a 'wedge' formation - shaped like a hacksaw, this is the perfect formation for hacking into an enemy line. Lucius and another Blade begin to shift next to eachother. The Marshal turns to Sly. "Get ready - I'd say you best stay in the back of the wedge." With that, the men start to move forward in much the same manner as before; balance of stealth and speed.

"It may be a 'military situation', Lucius..." Wilesly whispers, keeping pace with him. "...but it wouldn't befit a leader to do so from the back. Besides: I've got you." He tosses his signature roguish grin towards Lucius the whole while staying low and fast.

"You are unarmored and inexperienced. If you are wounded I take no responsibility." Lucius whispers back, his tone (well, as best as one can make it out from the whisper) is cool and businesslike. His concentration seemingly lies elsewhere, though, as the troops now begin to move together in formation, taking steps every second. Tick, step, tock, step. They move closer to the enemy formation, Lucius himself trying to pick out what could be enemy officers.

Watching the seething mass from slightly behind the main group, his claws clean of the blood-slick ground that rests slightly higher up; the Warchief of this current mass of Wildling howls something in guttural tones that speaks of obvious displeasure of the lack of progress. So much so, in fact, that his anger is vented upon the nearest thing he can find; his 'friend', standing close by. A 'friend' that soon finds it's throat torn out by rending claws before it can even register the betrayal, pulled up into those same claws, and then violently tossed to the left towards the shimmering band of Wildlings to the west of the main gate.

That will breed results! ROAR! RO-

The Warchief takes a few moments to ponder this, primitive mind churning over the details that are screaming that something is wrong. Only wet Wildlings shine. Are the Wildlings wet? No. Has it been raining? No. Hmm... Then... those cannot be Wildlings, for Wildlings do not shine in dry weather.

Result! The Warchief allows itself a toothy grin at it's own intelligence, bashing itself on the side of the head in victory! Claws rapping on the Iron Helm it found and now wears. A... not Wildlings?! ROAR!

"That's our cue. Time to make our entrance.", Wilesly quips to Lucius. He gets ready to bound, sword held erect and in the ready position. "Good luck Lucius." He nods to the rest of the soldiers near to him. "Good luck everyone." With that he lets out as big a shout his lungs can muster, ready to charge forth.

That roar seems to confirm it. Immediately, Lucius's heart leaps up, his blood pumps through his vein and his adrenaline surges. Rising up from his crouch now, the head element of the Daggers, along with his wingman both turn to the Warchief. Lucius quickly estimates range and wind in his mind. Finally, his armored step brings him forward... one step, two step, three step. Broken into a run, he launches his spear at full speed and then withdraws his sword to lead the charge.

He and the Blades remain silent until they're within five meters of the group. Still running, they release a bloodcurdling battle cry and further accelerate the charge.

Rooooar! - Sharp thing? Missile! Duck - ROAAAR! Well, that's pissed him off even more. It was a good throw, without a doubt, but luck seems to be on the Chieftain’s side tonight, and he's about to take matters personally.

With all the grace of a bull in a china shop (that is, to say, not much) the Chieftain charges off towards the group of Blades while his own troops continue assaulting the main gate, bowling over any that stand in his way and killing a fair number of his own kind in doing so under the merciless rake of razor sharp talons as he steps, lunges, runs, and claws through them.

So, in a way, the Blade known as Lucius Nepos managed to kill quite a few Wildlings after all! Small mercy.

To Lucius, the end outcome is more important than the current situation. In his mind, there is only one way to go now - forward, though these Wildlings. The wedge formation is ideal for this - as Lucius and his mate charge at the front; missiles from the men at the back begin to bite into the Wildlings just ahead of the wedge point. Lucius is on the neighboring wildling in little time, a punching thrust aimed at creating a hole where a one's throat is.

The line of Wildings is now fighting on two fronts; those defenders ahead, and those attacking from the left flank. One or two Wildlings go down in the initial charge - a third, once Lucky has taken it by surprise - but the line soon reforms and takes on these new targets with relish and bloodlust.

And then stop, as a warning snarl from the Chieftain informs them that these two - Wilesly and Lucius - are HIS. Thus, as Blades and Darkwater Deepers fight on, it seems those two "special" Humans are in for a private battle, surreal as it may seem amidst the rolling carnage of war.

The former courier turned agent turned expeditionary leader turned suicidal leader has managed to keep up for Lucius and for that he is most thankful. Wilesly steps aside to assist the Bladesman in assaulting this particular black monstrosity. His right arm, Diplomacy in tow, reaches out in hopes to deliver an impaling blow.

As the Wildlings begin to reel, and then counter attack, the Blades behind Lucius slash their way through the rabble and close in to each other, forming a much harder nut of heavy infantry to push now that the going has gotten harder. They begin to fight their way through more Wildlings.

Lucius on the other hand is slightly taken aback as the Wildlings scatter away. Nothing natural, he knows. The Blade now lifts the cover off of his shield and raises it, exposing the seraphite material to the night. The Marshal's green blue eyes look at the chieftain, and a look of steel resolve takes his face. His eyes narrow. Then, while the light of the siege plays off its intricately carved runes, Lucius's steel shortsword arcs out to try and deliver a thrust to the 'ling's gut.

Two Humans! Easy prey for the Chieftain who, though having never encountered them before except as screaming women and old men, has been told that they bleed easily enough! Ha! One attacks from the left, he dodges! Ha! The other attacks for the right! Ha...

Looking down upon the gash that Lucky has just carved into his flesh with the tip of a shortsword, the Chieftain roars in pain. Not so easy after all. So it seems that he has his first priority: Kill the one in the metal dress! And so he lunges, claws leading the way.

Wilesly has no time to display much emotion at his miss, Lucius' excellent thrust at the creatures throat, or even the Bladesman's excellent reaction as his shield snaps into place to protect its owner from a flurry of claws. Instead he takes the few seconds he has and seizes the opportunity to take a stab at the Wildling's flank. Diplomacy comes around for another try.

And mighty indeed is the chieftain, a tremendous beast of a Wildling. Probably a hunter killer, the head of his pack who gets the best of the meat and the best land among his colleagues. Or whatever commodities black Wildlings prize. Still, Lucius is lucky that he acquired the magnificent shield known as the Lady's Aegis - the seraphite deflects the chief's blow, with much fret. Lucius then again decides for an assault, another gut blow to further pierce the beast's probably enormous stomach. One of the most painful types of wounds.

The Flying Daggers, while taking wounds, are precluded from the worst of the damage the wildlings are doing to them by their excellent armour, shields, and training. For now they are walking and only lightly wounded, still moving at a snake's pace through the Wildling formation.

Two Humans, two Talons of Steel. The Chieftain takes a hit on the flank, prompting the flow of his own blood to spill from that dark, leather hide that acts as a natural armor as much as even the finest of Fastheldian leatherworkers than produced, supported by a backing layer of iron muscles beneath. Still, the wounds are taking their toll; more so as the Bladesman delivers yet another solid slash to the Chieftain’s gut, prompting another furious ROAR of rage and fury. He leaps forward again: A claw swipe at the Bladesman, and then at the other, in succession.

Wilesly attempts to back away from the Wildling before its claws sweep through the air but he ends up moving a few seconds too late. The resulting flurry cuts cleanly through the strap of his satchel which is sent flying away from his body and proceeding to tear through his shirt, a blotch of dark crimson flowing through it. Wilesly's adrenaline is so high that he does not realize he has been hurt until after he brings a slashing blow down at the Wildling.

The enormous swipe that the chieftain delivers towards Lucius is certainly frightening... Fortunately, while he cannot completely block it with his shield, he is able to back some of the impact away, the claws instead raking on the steel segments. Sturdiness is a good thing here. Lucius, reeling a bit under the blow, plants his right foot in back of his position. Then, using some leverage, he moves to try and thrust his sword deep into the chieftain's in neck area.

The wounded Human misses the Chieftain once more! Ha! Foolish to take on the might of the Chief! ROAR! But then Lucky again gets a hit in; not upon the neck of the tall dark fiend, but deep enough into the shoulder for the hit to count. THAT stops the Chieftain’s gloating. He SNARLS at the pain, narrows his eyes at Lucius, and then sp-

THUD! From upon the Palisade, an Archer with a glowing warbow - a hue akin to Lucius's own shield - smites the Chieftain with a well placed arrow between the shoulder blades; an arrow that the Chieftain hadn't seen to be able to avoid. He falls to one knee, gasping in pain, and then lumbers onto his feet again, taking aim at Lucius with another vicious blow.

It's funny what you have time to think of when you're in the midst of a fight. Dirk has spent so long cringing, ducking, whipping and turning; he's nearly got left behind by the slowly moving group of defenders. Fortunately, he's thought enough to catch up before he gets skewered, and when he sees Wilesly lose his satchel, he sweeps down to pick it up. So he can be helpful.

Wilesly grasps at his chest, his face a contortion of pain but perhaps not as much there is anger. It is that anger that compels Wilesly to launch another reckless blow at the Wildling's flank.

After delivering the blow into the squirming Wildling chief's shoulder, Lucius is surprised by the loosing of an arrow into his target, but only looks up to the archer's direction for a moment. Spotting the seraphite, the slightest bit of a grin appears on his face, replaced by his neutered expression when his green blue orbs come to rest once more on the warrior beast, just as he moves to attack once more - this time, the more maneuverable Lucius is able to bat the blow down. He now sprints in with a significant amount of strength to counter attack, aiming for a shot in the abdomen where if he lands it, his sword should pierce through any vital organs there.

Another miss from the not-Bladesman. Another strike from the one in the iron dress. ROAR! This is /not/ how the Chieftain imagined his day to proud. With another furious cry to signal his lament at how he should be dining on flesh right now, the wounded Wildling - dark skin slick with his own blood - charges to the right, claws at Lucius, and the attempts a lunging sweep against Wilesly.

Meanwhile, the battle for the Palisade continues around them. The Captain of the Defender still at work with those Rapiers, those behind him supporting with whatever weapons they can find, the Blades and the Deepers cutting into the dark mass from the left flank, and the Archers above raining fire down upon anything they can hit. How much longer everyone can last is still a question that has no answer, but it seems hope is now well and alive in those that still draw breath.

Another arrow THUDS into the Wildling Chief; he expected it, so it doesn't hurt as much, but - damn - it still bites deep. Into the thigh, this time.

Now, ok, Dirk? He's no fighter. Never claimed once he was, not even when he's trying to impress the ladies. Which he was never really much good at either. The two things that define a man, and he sucks at both of them. Still, don't say he doesn't have heart. He grips the satchel's straps, steps forward from another side, and swings it to attempt to bludgeon the enduring beast. Like a lady would.

The Chief's claws cause a swift breeze to cool Wilesly's face as he half-stumble, half-back-peedles backwards away from the creature. Giving a shout that causes him to wince slightly because of his wound, Wilesly moves forward quickly to thrust at the Wildling and failing that push past the creature to join Lucius on his side of the fray.

This time it seems that both of the humans are on the ball. Shades take this Wildling for thinking that he could defeat the scions of the Light, of Emperor Talus Kahar? Well, not really. The situation is much closer than probably either human wish. Lucius, seeing a second arrow fly into the Chief's thigh, and using the situation where the chief passed him by to his advantage, breaks into a quick sprint with his shield forward; then, springing with one foot he lunges to try and slide his sword into the Chief's ribs; between them, more likely, to get at his inner workings.

The Chieftain again roars in pain as the bite of the wounded Human sinks deep into his flesh, causing the Wildling to stagger for a moment in pain. A stagger that is promptly ended by the "smack" of something leather whacking him against the leg. Now, that's curious. It's a curiosity that helps sharpen the Chieftain's reaction for that one moment as he notes the advance of the Bladesman, stepping forth to catch the swinging blade in both hands, accepting the bite as he stops the forward momentum of that blade and twists it aside.

Blood spilling down his body, the Wildling abruptly twists away from Lucius and takes a lunging swipe at a new Human: Dirk.

A miner. A MINER! Not a bladesmen, not a bladesmen! Woe is you, o fallen soldiers. Cry havoc and let loose the fluids of war! Dirk sees the claw, sure, but in the sense that by the time he sees it, it's too late. Wickedly sharp, perfectly capable of ripping through flesh, and rip they do. All across the face, literally making a mess of his youthful features, the armored man falling away and down, stunned and knocked all but senseless in one blow from the dread chief.

The Chieftain leaps atop the fallen miner, dark claws rending through fabric and flesh alike as the Warchief rakes his talons across Dirk; a slash across the chest, a second slash across the leg, a third slash across the arm, and then jaws lunge to tear out the man's thr-

THUD! A third arrow, loosed from a Marksman with a Seraphite Warbow, ends the Dark Wildling Chieftain's fury there and then, crashing through the creature's neck without prior warning and stealing the anger from the behemoth's attack. Limbs that no longer have strength fall limp at the Chieftain's side. Legs that will no longer support him collapse beneath.

The Wildling falls, breathing shallow breaths atop that which was unfortunate to be beneath him. Bubbles of blood line the corners of the creature's mouth. All fury ended.

Wilesly frowns deeply as he sees the creature turns its attention away from Lucius and himself. He frowns even more deeply as he notices what has distracted the creature: a man wielding... his satchel?

"Dirk!” Wilesly shouts in warning to the overgrown kid. An uncontrollable rage fills his eyes, and his thoughts, as he sees the man go down under a savage blow. The wounded man, though his shirt is now torn bloody mess, approaches the fallen creature and attempts a double-handed downward thrust to finish it off.

The vicious downward thrust strikes the prone Wildling Chieftain without mercy nor hesitation; the cold bite of Wilesly blade sinking deep into dark flesh, severing spine and ribs in equal measure, cutting through internal organs with abandon, the striking through the creature's chest with a sickening gout of blood and gore, to drive deep into the earth below.

Just to the left of Dirk's crotch. A little to the side of his thigh. Phew.

Lucius watches as the next human gets in the fight. Indeed, instead of leaving the steel clad soldier and his foolishly brave friend in their fight, someone has joined it. So when Dirk goes down, Lucius growls lowly; at a level not even close to audible, but it was probably more of a self note.

As the next arrow thunks into the much weakened chief, Lucius dashes forward once more. It is fortunate that Blades drill daily; else the Marshal would likely not be able to keep up this vigorous pace. He stops at the sight of Sly stabbing down into the creature. However, this does not deter him from his goal, which becomes apparent as his blood slick sword is slashed across the creature's neck. Then his real, gruesome purpose is unveiled; he begins to decapitate the creature as swiftly as possible.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Blades, still apparently doing decently for themselves, have taken more wounds. As the Wildlings finally begin to break, the troops begin to cut down the creatures that try to run past, while still holding their position.

Watching their Chieftain fall, and considering the death of those around them, atop the previous death of their beloved "Shaman" - the Wildling Mage that hurled a the initial fireball - and finding attackers on all sides, a vicious ghost at their front, cutting them down with twin strikes of deadly rapiers, and an avenging angel above, launching a hellfire of death upon them, the morale of all Wildlings finally breaks.

The "easy slaughter" of those within Crown's Refuge has not gone as planned, and so they break. And scatter. And rout. Back into the darkness. Back across the bloodied husks of their former comrades.

Back into the realm of nightmares.

Wilesly wrenches the sword free of the now decapitated chief. Hurriedly he kicks the lifeless form off top of Dirk, his sword falling from his hand in shock at the wounds done to Dirk. He drops to his knee to check the man for signs of life, his ear resting just above what might have been Dirk's lips.

A faint breath is present and Wilesly wastes no time in gathering his sword back up, unceremoniously wiping the gore from its blade against his pant leg, and then re-sheathing it. He attempts to grab at the man's leg as if to drag him, shouting to Lucius, "Shades! Lucius. Stop mucking about and help me get him back to the palisade."

Dirk is immobile for a second as Sly checks him, then the satchel moves slightly, drawing it to his chest but not without a pained gasp. "I got your satchel, Master Sprigg." Or thats what he meant to say anyway, but it comes out garbled around all the blood and ruined tissue.

"I don't have time to take care of him right now. I'll get another Dagger to help you out - I'm going with Steelwood and Thatcher up the hill to meet the defenders. The rest of the Blades will escort you... that's five Blades for you two." Lucius grasps the chief's head by its hair, as the blood continues to drip out of its neck at a voracious pace. The two Blades, both heavy infantry, move to head up the hill quickly with their leader. As he runs by, Lucius by chance spots his fallen spear on top of a corpse, and picks it up.

Another Dagger /is/ along soon enough to help Wilesly with Dirk. "You've done good Dirk. Really good. Just don't talk. Hold that. You've earned it.", Wilesly comforts the man. He looks to the other Bladesman whom he instructs in no uncertain terms, "You are going to get him up to that hill and in better condition than he is in now. GET TO IT."

Escort be damned because Wilesly is rushing up the hill after Lucius, his right arm draped across the wound of his chest. He does not look happy.

Return to Season 4 (2006)

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