Wednesday, May 24, 2006

some old stories from the vault

I used to play a PBeM game with several of my friends called Legends when run by an Australian company called PBM Enterprises. It was a great game that combined strategy with the hack and slash of battles between monsters and heroes. To this mix my friends and I added as much roleplaying as we could. Below are the stories that accompanied our first war with what would become some ongoing enemies within the Legends game worlds. We won that war, and the rest of them...



Tales from the Southern Shores

The Battle of Dreeva Hills

The Hollow Man looked down at his reports. A tear trickled from his eye as he read again of Captain Anasasia's valiant stand amongst the woods of Dreeva. First she had stood against the soldiers of Mischief routing this poorly led force, sending Zaria's vermin infested army scurrying into the undergrowth where their roach riddled carcasses would feel safe. But it was with the arrival of the forces of Raven and the 500 that her true heroism shone as she met the rabid forces of the cancerous Beth on the slopes and amidst the valleys. As she fell in the onslaught she must have known that her duty was done and her mission fulfilled. He put down the reports of this epic stand and knew that she would die rather than tell them anything. The Hollow man also knew that it was unlikely this enemy would learn anything anyway. After all they couldn't tell a man from a woman and seemed to be fighting over the corpses on the field of battle! Or was Lord Raven repaying the incompetence of Mischief? Or was Beth of Parnis herself the incompetent general and couldn't tell friend from foe? Maybe Zaria would learn something and pay Lord Raven a visit and exact some recompense? However it falls, whatever the answer to these questions, the Hollow Man knew that Anasasia's sacrifice was not in vain. *.*.*

News from the Front

A report from a deserter of the army of Mischief.

'Yeh, well we had just been routed by this enemy army when our allies came over the hill and attacked us killing most of our knights and cutting down our leader - yeh, it was really weird, I think our leaders are a pack of morons' *.*.*

The Incident at Shawnhurst

Edmund awoke from a nightmare of which his last memory had been a smelly itchy blanket covering his face. He sighed and attempted to sit up but alas it was no nightmare the dastardly fiends of the Lords of Avara had him bound hand and foot. By the sounds of it they were carousing downstairs in the Inn of the Bearded Elf. Edmund began to struggle against the bonds wiggling his hands and feet in an attempt to loosen the ropes when uneven creaking on the stairs and a drunken cry of: 'I'll (hic!) check (hic, hic!), luk inta (barf! - [vomitus splashing noises]), ther prisona (hic, hic! - [stumbling noises])' told him his captors had not quite forgotten him. Edmund quickly slipped his Shawnhurst Army Knife into the palm of his hand managing to unfold it's small but versatile blade. With a flick of his wrist his hands where free and he sliced the bonds from his feet. As the door fell open Edmund jumped to his feet and a vomit covered man he recognised as Fineth all but tripped through the door unable to negotiate the threshold. The trip was unfortunate, as Edmund had hoped to win Fineth to his cause, but, as he looked on, Fineth impaled himself on Edmund's knife and died (with gurgle, gurgle and vomiting hic hic noises). *.*.*

The Battle of Porta Rocha

A messenger runs into the Porta Rocha Keep. His heart pounding to the same beat as his booted feet which strike the stairs propelling him upwards. He bursts into the broad chamber which is the command and control of his industrious city. He quickly comes to attention in the light streaming through the expanse of windows surrounding him. As he moves to attention the light falls upon the crest on his right shoulder and a rainbow of light bursts from the silver scales that mark him as a soldier of the West Island Co. and the Integrated Mercantile Federation (IMF). General Orimbus looks up from the table at which he stands. 'At ease son, what is your report?' The young soldier falters under the gaze of this great General. But his respect, awe, loyalty and courage galvanise him and he resolves to be the best messenger he can be and so win the approval of this great man. All this had gone through his mind in a split second and in a calm neutral voice he reports: 'Sergeant Bloodsea sends a message: Raven's army has left Porta Rocha Norta heading south. The army seems intent on bringing you to battle. Initial reports indicate 310 soldiers with 160 of those accursed Warrior Mages known to come from the cancerous bowels of Raven Stoneheart and the bile filled intestines of the Lords of Avara' The General turns back to his map quickly taking a piece of parchment which he scribbles on. He folds the note and passes it to the messenger. 'Good work son, take this to the Sergeant, she will understand - now go' As the messenger turns to go he hears the General order up another messenger. 'Tell the field force commander to stand to, unless this army wishes to bring them to battle they should not be drawn in. No, we will allow this army to fall upon us and die in the ditches and moats they have forced us to ring this beautiful city with. They shall die under the ballista in our towers and Captain Anasasia shall be avenged - run soldier we must be ready.' The messenger now hears a second rhythm to match his own, both pounding down the stairs. The messenger hits the ground floor and runs into the light making for his horse and the battle that comes. *.*.*

From the Ballad of Porta Rocha

(as heard in the Inn of the Porta Rocha Pixie)

Sing muse, of the anger of Raven Stoneheart and the devastation he would visit many times over on the Federation and Avarans through the follies of his heart... ...Jusran Ravenjay notched an arrow to her bow as she searched for a patch of sunlight through the blinding sheets of blood falling from the clouds brought on by Beth of Parnis. Below her the fields of Ravenjay’s Porta Rocha were awash with the seething mass of cohorts that the Lords of Avara had brought against her adopted city but the cries of anger from this army did little to distract her search. There, amongst a galloping knot of Knights, she spotted one of the followers of the bastard son of her distant ancestor’s second cousin’s great grandson’s nephew Hiraldo Della Raven. Nichnora was riding high in his saddle, hands stretched to the heavens as Nichnora came on amongst his charging Knights. As Nichnora sped onwards he cried out to the heavens and they responded and, as Nichnora stretched forth his hands to the sky, a rent of darkness appeared above him and, as he spurred his horse onwards, the Avarans took heart and charged forward. Ravenjay took aim as she felt the bow grow taught in her hands it’s mystical energies seeking the dark foe that it, and she, knew must fall if this bastion of a hope filled future were to survive. Below her a bloody mass of Berserkers charged headlong into a ditch but again these needless deaths did not sway her from her purpose as she released the bolt of vengeance. Ravenjay watched the arrow strike Nichnora in the midst of his fever pitched cries. The bolt pierced his dark rimmed helm as the vaporous forces he had been summoning were taking shape above him but, with a spraying arc of blood and brain, the body was pitched head long from his mount. As Nichnora’s body tumbled to the dirt and the mist of Nichnora’s foul heart fled the field of battle Ravenjay was grateful to see the rising darkness disappear in a fresh sea breeze bringing with it a burst of radiant sunlight. With this portent Ravenjay heard a mighty Hoorah! issue from the Porta Rocha battlements as a great host of Knights pitched forth from the gatehouse into the quailing foe singing a chorus of joy and gladness as they reaped a harvest of victory under the noon-day sun.

The Hymn 'Saviours of the South'

As performed to Raisnoah by the Mariner's Faith Orchestra and Choir

And a thousand horns cried out in the night with the thundering of Raisnoah's might.

And fell upon the vulgarity that stood as symbol of Stoneheart's grim incongruity.

And the defenders did hide and cower amidst the ruins of each and every house and tower.

And onward rushed the Starshine, which fell firey and grim, upon each and every evil and sin.

And forward rode Joru Westshadow, Angel of Life and Death, he rained a hail of woe on the

grim darkness below.

And forward sped Ulrich Von Parnis, Chaos' Dread, he brought flight to that grim and craven

sight that was each and every soldier who had bolstered Raven's might.

And as the walls crumbled and the heavens rumbled and the slain fell and tumbled so stepped

forward Ornette Marragon, Mighty among Men, whose rising call renewed the rage of that wrath

filled riot that issued its cry from the dark stormy sky.

And as the shining knights paced forward a thousand fireflies descended as Rafel, the Righteous

Libertine, from his right hand flighted the mighty fire brand.

And on sang Orphic Sarsha as her subtle song subdued, the swelling stinking stewing mass who

sank in sudden shock, the soldiers of Castle Caledor.

And as the dewy dawn dispelled the dim of dark the sick and stricken sought sweet solace on

steaming muddy soil.

And one and all each foe still standing swept forth his striking sword and fell upon the

slicing fleche in sorry recompense.

And across the field drenched by tears and terror stretched the saviours hands as saddened by

the sudden slaughter salvation still struck asunder each and every sorry soldier.

And mighty were the fallen whose endless cries were broken as haughty attitudes were spoken.

And Raven fled the haven with dark pitch of cawing craven as each rook and raven swept from

its hidden haven and distended sky of this his haven with darting flight and wing swept sight

in one last malignant flight above the dark stone sight that was the roost of Raven.

And so edged the halls long miss-shapen by the cruel and dark rapen that did lead to his

mishappen so wanton cruel and craven crashed to deep dark cavern never to rise renewed reshapen

Castle Caledor of that cruel bird Raven.

Exerts from 'the Whitestorm Civil War'

The Speech of Edmund Scott to the citizens of Porta Rocha

What evil is unveiled in the heart of the Whitestorm dynasty what calamity stands in its black infamy amongst the races of the Dynasty? Before us the Orcs have spoken of their league with Keryth Nightstar that odious ill-omened originator of the evil and corrupted Lords of Avara. She who handed the fruits of the west, those wondrous creatures a brood of Drakes, to the cruelest foe of civilization - to be misshapen into steeds of doom. Before you lay the proof of what I knew in my heart that a well of darkness is sucking all that is good into its gaping maw. That a torrent of blackness, a Charybdis in the West, has slowly gained moment and finally arisen seeking to suck us down in a whirlpool of destruction. It was you, Keryth Nightstar, who warped the minds of Raven Stoneheart and his poor brother Luthor Lionheart, you who have turned the course of Zaria from the righteous path for in your heart we face the bane of the Whitestorm Dynasty. What unbound malice has plunged us into a sheer abyss and forced us deeper into the flames of war? Did Griffoness among Dragon Mountains or Scylla barking from groin's lowest part produce you with a mind so hard and horrid that you could call on darkest forces and pray to evil creatures, ah too cruel-hearted. That ill-omened daughter of the Whitestorm, that daughter of Remus, that stalker that darkens the woods of Evenclear and the once beautiful Elarion forest has brought the Orcs to the west in a league of evil that will surely bring ruin into the west. For surely Keryth Nightstar you realise you have doomed your name to the inky well of infamy as your every step is stalked by dread in its winding path to ever-darker dominions. What stands before this league of evil and this unveiled familia of Chaos? Once again the Integrated Mercantile Federation (IMF) must come forward. The well spring of peace and prosperity must face the bitter teeth sown on the fields of Porta Rocha by the dread foe and once again the IMF must step into the light to strike against the strife brought on by that Lord of Avara Keryth Nightstar. I stand before you with every wound I have taken bared on my chest, never in flight have I been wounded, and I see before me the men and women of the Southern Shores each and everyone of you wears your wounds as badges of courage. Never have you in flight been wounded and never in flight shall any soldier of Porta Rocha, the West Island company or the IMF be wounded. The armies that march forth as I speak must hold back the evil night. The armies that march forth shall face fears evil might. But, the armies that march forth are destined to put this enemy to flight. Who brings these Children of the Night to our shore? That aptly dubbed star of the night, Keryth Nightstar. Who has committed crimes grim of war? That infamous daughter of the dark, Keryth Nightstar. Who has sentenced herself to death's deep dark maw? That baying Scylla of the soul, Keryth Nightstar.

Spiderwood

Edmund looked down at his hands deep in thought.

‘What have I wrought with these?’

He looked up at the skyline of Shawnhurst with its white stucco walls and calm harbour. But for the emptiness of the wharves this city could almost be Edmund’s native Porta Rocha, his city that he had been away from too long. Today he was meeting with Count Vangreer. This would be his third meeting and hopefully this time Edmund could convince the Count to place the loyalties of Shawnhurst with the West Island Company and the Integrated Mercantile Federation.

The Count had previously been the target of Raven Stoneheart but he had wisely declined the foul offer, no doubt sensing the chaos and dark flow that lay behind those words. But the Count had declined Edmund too, the sense of independence this city had saw it attempt to stand aloof from the world around it, whether it be the calamity of the Lords of Avara or the ordered wealth of the Integrated Mercantile Federation (IMF). But as Edmund put his hands upon the rail before him and looked once again from the balcony of his abode he smiled.

‘That empty port I can promise to fill, but this promise I have made before, now though I know something else and can promise the Count something far more important.’

Edmund took one last look out over the Shawnhurst wharves and harbour before turning to face the sun and stride into his quarters. His meeting was soon and the Count, a military man, was not one to enjoy the tardiness of his guests no matter their rank or importance.

.*.*.*.

Edmund was no soldier but the necessities of defending himself had led him to kill, as it had led him to order the deaths of many whom opposed the goodwill of the IMF, and this would stand him in good stead before the Knight and Swordsman, Count Vangreer. Edmund strode into the brightly lit dining chamber of the Vangreer’s keep, the emblems of the West Island Company and the IMF shining on his right shoulder and drawing the attention of many of the other guests of the Vangreer court.

‘My good Edmund. On time I see’

The Count strode forward hand outstretched in greeting. Edmund shook his hand.

‘We are both busy men Count. You oversee your beautiful city, while I have a Company to administer and a city and alliance to see to. We have many things to discuss Count.’

Edmund and the Count turned towards the dining tables and the Count smiled.

‘Ever straight to the point Mr. Scott. No doubt you are here once again to try to sway me and my city from our paths of neutrality? Must I re-iterate all my reasons for maintaining this position? While I do prefer you to that now deceased pathological boaster and ephemeral windbag Raven Stoneheart and his rapidly dispersing Lords of Avara, upstarts calling themselves that! Liars, Laggards and Lamingtons of Avara is what I say! Never the less I see no reason to alter my position now. Speaking of lamingtons, I think it is time we ate and left this topic. Don’t you agree?’

Edmund smiled, he had never liked lamingtons himself.

‘What of your daughter Count Vangreer?’

The Count stopped dead and turned to Edmund.

‘What of my daughter and what do you know?’

‘I have heard songs and rumours, songs and rumours of dark things, of spiders in the night, of black claws and webs of evil. I know where your daughter is, as do you, but few do, is that not right Count?’

The Count nodded, not just to Edmund but to himself and the ghosts that frosted the air around them filling the empty spaces until the real world ceased leaving only Edmund and Vangreer.

‘I know that there are rumours that you fear to tread those woods Count, why is that, why would a man such as you, Warrior, Hero and Leader of men fear the dark things of Spiderwood?’

The Count looked at his own hands.

‘I fear what I would become if I entered that dark place. I fear what I would find if I rescued my daughter and what I would have to do to bring her back to me. I fear the dark places in my own soul, the places we all have but most of us bury.’

Edmund put his hand on Vangreer’s shoulder.

‘I can rescue your daughter Count, I can silence your critics and save you, I can return your life to you, will you let me do these things Count Vangreer?’

The Count continued looking at his hands.

‘What will you do Edmund? Can you rescue my daughter? Can you return her to me alive?’

‘I can Count Vangreer, I can, but you must join me, if I am to do this I need your support, if I am to venture into my own heart, if I am to walk the Spiderwoods, will you stand guard for me Count Vangreer?’

to be continued…

The West Island Company

Captain Anasasia stood atop the bluff overlooking the town of Northvorn as the last rays of the sun started to dissipate over the horizon. Even in this failing light she kept the trees to her back screening her silhouette from the Dak lookouts hovering in the skies above the town walls. As she surveyed the scene her practiced eye made out the movements amongst the ravines that traveled below her redoubt and followed a circuitous path in the general direction of Northvorn. These movements came from her soldiers, men and women of the West Island Company Marines and Knights and Archers of the Southern Shore.

Northvorn had previously turned out West Island Company Traders and rebuffed overtures to join the West Island Company Prosperity sphere. The Daks appear to resent the high profile the Merfolk have achieved within the Company structure. Further a putative police action under the command of Ravenjay had been turned back with substantial losses inflicted by the barbarous and racist puritans within and above those walls which Anasasia looked down upon. Now it was time to show the recalcitrants the error of their ways and bring them into line with the Company. With these thoughts running through her mind, Anasasia turned back towards the trees and her waiting horse. It was almost time for the assault and, despite this exposure to danger having already killed her she sought action in the front lines where she could serve the Company and Edmund to her utmost. She mounted her horse and began the descent into the ravine below.

Anasasia arrived with the front echelons in good time and dismounted to move on foot amongst her troopers. She had planned the attack with precision and it would have gone ahead with or without her. The West Island Company prided itself on a civil and military institution built on initiative and a high edge of training with each corporate able to do the job of his or her superior. It would, though, do much for morale to have the hero of Dreeva hills, who had sacrificed all to delay the Foul Avarans, lead them personally into battle.

Around her a ripple that only the soldier could sense passed along the ravine she stood within. It jumped from ravine to ravine as the soldiers tensed in the darkness. This blackness seemed to pool in each ravine and rise to engulf the city as the sun vanished behind the stone walls that each soldier had his or her eyes upon. It was at the changing of the guard that the assault would begin. Already depleted by the earlier West Island Company action the Daks no longer maintained a staggered rotation and this gap would be their undoing and hopefully minimise her losses.

The last Dak dropped from the sky and silently several hundred soldiers rose from the darkness and jogged toward the walls. It was 500-600 yards from the closest ravine to the walls and as her front line reached the mid-way point a flight of silent arrows passed overhead. Each arrow carried a dangerous mix of airborne poison that would strike down many of the defenders before they were even aware of the attack and then dissipate in the minute it would take the knights to seize the walls. The front lines reached the walls as the arrows hit the ground and as the ladders went up not one defender had yet been sighted.

Captain Anasasia was one of the first atop the walls amongst the Southern Shore Knights. As she surveyed the town below strewn with bodies of soldier and civilian alike, the Daks had not stood a chance against this organised assault and its deadly poison gas, a great cry filled the air above her. A heroic Dak charged from the sky a great battle cry issuing from beak. As one, each archer took aim and with a flurry of feathers shot him from the sky.

Captain Anasasia turned once again to the city below as preparations for its erasure began.

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