[RP Episode] In the realm of forest and snow


#1

Rope creaked in the wind. Beneath him, captain Isodoros Redanios felt the deck of his carrack buckle and shift. It was a proud ship, fresh off the dockyards of Chromaros’ Arsenal. You could smell the freshness of the wood and the tar used to caulk the seams. The three score and odd members of his crew were busy about their jobs, hoisting sails, pulling ropes, cleaning the deck, or sleeping below. They were going on an adventure.

The world was large. Larger than anyone could have suspected in the days of the old Basileus who founded the Commonwealth, now three hundred years ago. Their view had been limited, their eyes blind, and it was up to ambitious and skilled men like Isodoros to rip the blindfold from the eyes of their nation. He’d politicked endlessly, approaching one cartel or the other, looking for sponsorship, a crew, and most importantly money. He found success with the Lapunoi, one of the predominant and most progressive cartels of the capital, who’d agreed to fund his expedition and outfit him with a ship, dubbed the Deepwater Shark. And so he was going north, sailing far beyond the capes and peninsulas of the southern coastline. Into uncharted territories.

With him, besides, the crewmen needed to sail the vessel, came a dozen veteran soldiers. Ostensibly, they were just ordinary crewmen, but the ship had been outtfitted with the necessary swords, arbalests and other equipment in case it was needed, as well as a clockwork ballista on both the fore- and aft castles. The holds were mostly empty, with plenty of room for what they could find and bring back. Also on board were five scientists, specializing in the study of the natural world, eager to see what new insights they could develop and what papers they would write upon their return. That’d take years though.

Over the course of several months, they made their way north. Temperatures dropped, and the men were grateful for the foresight of the Lapunoi in procuring numerous leather and fur coats for them. They could not have endured otherwise.

Isodoros was unhappy, however. The horizon was a deep gray, and it was clear a storm was brewing. In the main mast, though, the lookout suddenly cried out, panicked, and pointed west. Isodoros ran over to see, and could see the blackest patch of squall he had ever seen approaching rapidly. He turned around to shout orders, to furl the sails and drop anchor, but it was too late. His voice was lost amidst the rising winds, and in moments, the storm was upon them. Waves as tall as buildings, spray soaking everything, and the howling wind tore the sails to shreds before snapping the entire aft mast in two like a twig. They drifted, aimlessly, until through the haze Isodoros spied a shore, approaching quickly.

The next morning, the wreckage and pieces of the ship and its crew were left on the shore by the receding tide.

@SirGeorgar


#2

The storm shook even the sturdy walls of the huts and houses of the small village. Wind and hail, rain and snow lashed at the dwellings, which were grouped together atop a small hill that overlooked the sea, where waves thirty feet high smashed together. It was the beginning of winter, and this was the first taste of the many tempests yet to come.

But the elves who lived there were a people of storms, and had built their homes upon strong foundations and with sturdy craftsmanship. They made no great claim to being architects, but what they built, lasted, which was more important than good looks in the Iron Mountains.

A few lights glimmered through the snow, the fires inside each home sending rays of light through nooks and crannies in the walls. More lights ran along the wall of the wooden rampart that ran around the village, where the few elves not indoors stood constant watch for enemies. No matter the weather, every village had it’s defenders, who kept their eternal watch upon the snow.

Several hundred meters away from the village, a series of piers ran down from the snowy beach into the turbulent water. A small tower kept guard over them, and the few ships that lay beached under a roof some distance several dozen meters inland. Atop the tower, another elf, bundled in furs, armor, and armed with a heavy axe and a horn to sound the alarm, smiled. The cold weather felt good on his unprotected face, for he wore no hood with his grey cloak. He was the chieftain of this small clan, and no storm held any dangers for him. He was quite enjoying the weather, in fact. His long white hair billowed out behind him like the cloth of a banner, and the soaked state of his garments and armor gave him no cause for worry. For he was Varian, Chieftain of the Cartani clan, a Helcelen elf, and this was his place.

He spent the night upon the tower, watching the wind and rain, while the snow piled high against the ramparts and dwellings inside the palisade, until morning broke and his vigil was at an end. Like many chieftains, Varian chose to spend his nights at watch for enemies, so that his clan would not be taken unawares.

Over night, the storm had mostly blown itself out, but the waves still crashed against the beach with a neverending roar. Varian walked along the beach, heading to the large house in the center of the village that was his home, his head high and a smile upon his lips. His smile faded however, when he saw what appeared to be wreckage washing up upon his beach. His smile vanished completely, when he saw that there were movements on the pieces of wood and rope that were being thrown ashore.

Seizing the horn that lay at his side, he blew two blasts upon it. After a few minutes, elves clad in bundles of fur and leather that made them appear as larger than they were burst out from the snowdrifts piled against their doors, and rushed towards the chieftain.

“Sailors. Wrecked.” Varian gestured to the pieces on the shore. He motioned down the beach. “Pull them out of the water, and warm them.” If they were elven mariners, then the cold water would still be dangerous. If they were not of the Helcelen, their chances of survival without help were almost nil.

Several dozen warriors swept down to the survivors, without heed for the frigid water or chunks of ice that floated in the waves. They began pulling the shivering folk from the water, who were too weak to resist even if they had wanted to, and seeing their distress at the cold, wrapped them in fur cloaks and rushed them back to the warmth of the huts.

One of the warriors, a tall elf with a large broadsword on his back and a hood over his now wet hair, reported the situation to Varian.

“They are neither of the Helcelen, or of any clan of men. They have teeth like beasts. What shall we do with them?” he asked.

“Warm them, cloth them, and put them in the visitors hut. Make sure they are unarmed, although I doubt they will be fighting anyone for sometime. And once they are awake, bring their chieftain to me, and find out what tongue they speak.” answered Varian.

“And the wreckage, Father?” the tall elf motioned to the debris, where large pieces were beginning were also surface along the water’s edge.

“Search it for anything foriegn or of value, and use the pieces as fuel.” Varian made a pushing away motion with his hands. “Go.” His son bowed his head briefly, and sped away, calling a few other elves to him. The Clan Chief moved more slowly back to his house, the smile of an hour before gone for good. Teeth like beasts. Varian had traveled south in his youth, and had heard of such a people. Their name had been similar to his, Valan, Varan was it? He did not remember. That had been over five decades previously, when Varian had still been merely the third son of his father, and without any aspirations of being Chief. He vanished inside his house, still deep in thought.


#3

Isidoros shivered in the hut. He was still chilled to the bone, despite being covered in several woolen blankets and clutching a cup of some kind of hot drink. There was no time, or energy, to contemplate the fate of his expedition or his men. He looked over the twenty-odd survivors, huddling together with blankets near the fire. He would bring them home.

Eventually.


#4

The room where they were huddling was warm, with a fire burning merrily in one corner upon a stone hearth set into the wall. Two windows with extremely thin sheets of steel set in them with leather edging provided some vision, although the main source of light was the fire itself.

There were none of the fur clad, bulky warriors who shouted with harsh voices in a beautiful tongue in attendance at the moment. They had vacated the building after bringing in several heaps of fur blankets, most from various animals, bears, wolves, and badgers being the majority. Several low benches were placed around the fire, along with multiple massive pitchers of a warm drink of brown complexion that set a fire in one’s belly upon drinking it.

After a little while, and the sailors had begun to recover somewhat, the door opened, and three of their rescuers entered, including the tall thin character with the slightly curved longsword. He looked around the room, his gaze searching and curious at the same time.

”Masse Canoida?” he asked, his voice a rumble.


#5

Isodoros blinked. “I beg your pardon?” He said, looking at the bulky man - one who, judging by his weapon, seemed to be a warrior.


#6

The warrior consulted something written on a piece of parchment.

”Where…your…chief?” he asked in the Common Tongue, his voice uncertain and with an extremely thick accent that stumbled over each syllable.


#7

At this, Isodoros stood. “Good sir, I am the captain of this expedition, yes.”


#8

Melcar, Varian’s son, was slightly confused. His instructions on what to say had not ranged this far. Opting to end the conversation, he motion for Isodorous to follow, and walked out the door, his two companions following him into the snow. One of them tossed Isodorous a long grey cloak that was almost half a meter bigger than he was on the way out the door.


#9

The captain tied the huge garment over his by now dried leather doublet, and followed the warrior outside. It dragged over the floor as he walked.


#10

The snow was piled in large heaps, from where the Helcelen had shoveled it out of the way. Trails ran through the drifts, connecting all the houses together in a series of short paths. The houses themselves were made of wood, with stones betraying the presence of chimneys. Torches inside metal holders with small holes for ventilations were placed outside every door, providing points of reference in storms.

There were elves everywhere. Children romped about in the fresh snow, engaged in a fierce battle for control of one particularly large pile. Two warriors were engrossed in an intense arm wrestling contest outside on longhouse, while half a dozen others cheered them on with drinks and varying qualities of advice. Almost two dozen other men and women were busy dealing with the massive carcass of a bear and two boars, skinning and tanning the hides while preparing the meat for storage.

Laughter and uproarious shouts filled the air, as the wrestling came to an abrupt end when one of the contestants flipped over the bench they had been using as a platform, and hurled himself at his friend. A brawl broke out in a few moments, with five warriors half heartedly attempting to pull the pit apart, laughing all the while. It lasted for two minutes, before the original combatant triumphed, and a few seconds later all parties concerned were drinking again.

Melcar led the stranger through the village, stopping briefly to shout some advice at a returning hunting party. The little group soon found there way to the outside of a large central house, with smoke curling from the roof. An image of a shark was engraved on a icy blue piece of metal that was bolted over the top of the door. Melcar opened the door, and motioned for Isodorous to enter.


#11

Isodoros ducked under the doorpost, his heavy layered cloak rubbing against the smoothed wood, took in the scene before him.


#12

Varian’s home was quite a bit larger than that of the other members of his clan, for it was also used for tribal feasts as well as a living space. The roof was higher, supported by short pillars running down either side, each adorned with the heads of the creatures Varian had slain in battle. A bear, a large white wolf’s head, and an elk were the primary trophies.

A fire ran down the center of the hall, from which smoke was drifting into the rafters. Embers glowed in the darkness, as the fire was the only real source of light apart from the few torches hanging in brackets from the pillars. And at the end of the hall, on a carved wooden chair, sat the Chieftain.

Varian’s axe was upon his knees, and furs were piled on his shoulders. His cloak was thrown over the back of the chair, and above his head was the great shield which he would carry in battle. He wore no hood, and his long white hair hung down all about him, curving around his ears and reaching almost to his waist. He spoke haltingly, in the common tongue.

“Welcome to my hall, Athal.”


#13

Isodoros walked between the rows of hunting trophies, eyeing them appreciatively. Any Vahan would be proud to have a collection such as this.

He approached the very important-looking gentleman on his high chair warily, regarding with suspicion the axe bared on his lap. Isodoros had taken the advice of a prominent xenologist at the Chromaros Epistemion, and he knew that this did not portent hospitality.

Still, it would not do to be impolite. He approached the throne, before bowing flamboyantly, making to snatch his baret off his head before he remembered he wasn’t wearing one.

“We owe you thanks for saving our lives, my lord. I am your faithful servant, Captain Isodoros Redanios.”


#14

Varian bowed his head slightly in response. “It was our duty to save you from the Frost God. It is a cruel death, between the snow and the sea. I am Varian Cartanion, Chieftain of this clan.” His voice was even and resonant, but his face was curious. “But what were you and your crew doing in the lands of the Cartani clan? And what tribe do you hail from?”


#15

Isodoros scraped his throat, knowing he was on thin ice here.

“Well met, my lord. We are a group of independent contractors beholden to the Lapunoi cartel of Chromaros. We have come here on a mission of survey and exploration, to seek new lands and new friends, and new trade partners.”


#16

At the second utterance of the words: ‘my lord’, Varian laughed, along with the other warriors in the hall.

“I’m not your lord, Athal. That title is for only those who are actually my followers, and you are not one of them.” But at the remainder of Isodoros’ words, he frowned. “You come from the south? For trade? Why? Since when does the south deal in aught but blood with the north?”


#17

The Cuìo looked rather crestfallen at the brusqueness of the chieftain. '…it was merely a courtesy." He perked up at the last words though. 'Dealt in blood? With whom? Most assuredly not with my people, as we have never ventured this far north before."


#18

“Helcelen fight with men in winter. We take their sheep, their cattle, their food. They take our lives. Fair exchange.” Varian leaned forward. “But your people are not men, are you? What are you? You are like the Altani who live in the green lands to the south, but your speech is strange.”


#19

The Vahan clasped the spear penchant he wore around his neck. “We are Sagonos’ chosen, created in His image to thrive on the hunt. Centuries ago, we were driven by our homes, and we ventured further south where we built our city. We would seek to engage in trade and friendship with your people, to both our benefits.”


#20

Varian snorted. “Your people are no hunters. You grow wheat for food, and hide behind walls like cowards.”