the shoresReplies: 5 / 136 days 5 hours 51 minutes 50 seconds
- [Allowed] BBJ
[center [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R415WZruPdE ♫]]
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/1vW1IZc.jpg]]
[size20 [center [b Words are laid not upon the desolate shores of this distant, forlorn land.]]]
[center [i Wild, murky water batters the hull of a lonely ship. The only light piercing the veil of darkness around you is the lantern dangling from the ship's prow, and it wanes closer to dying out every time you lay eyes upon it. Its light is rarely joined by flashes of lightning in the distance, behind you.
You are stricken by the hopelessness of it all. This was to be an expedition to the rich lands of the East. You left your home behind, your family and friends, for a chance at a new life, a new future for reasons of your own, but the current carried you and your fellow travellers away.
On the morning of the sixteenth day you found yourself in thick banks of dark mist, lost and wayward, your chances of making it home as fleeting as the winds, few and far between, which stir the slithering tendrils of fog around you in only the slightest sense of the word. You cannot help but ponder the nature of the ills that has befallen this journey; Perhaps someone aboard is cursed?
When winds at last came from behind and caught the sails, everyone rejoiced. The ship cut like a spear through the waves, and things seemed to be going well.
That evening, night fell and the darkness did not let up. The captain has been keeping track, and the sun has been gone for three days, now. Whenever the old, haggard seaman tries to change the course of the journey, he finds the rudder is jammed in place.
You are bound to a destination you do not know, and supplies are running low. You cannot even be sure if you are moving, at all.
The waves are occasionally broken by great fins and tentacles, and you are left to despair as, unexpectedly, the water surges upward at the starboard side of the ship. Waves thrash and you find yourself - and the ship - facing a great, darkened pillar, reaching skyward, looming ominously overhead.]]
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/z7EEvI3.jpg]]
[center [i A brief crack of thunder sounds, like the whip of the gods, and its flash briefly illuminates the serpent as it bounds towards the waves, towards the vessel.
Before you know it, the beating of the waves is replaced by the groaning and snapping of planks. The mast comes down and nearly strikes you as it punches a hole through the deck, and you get caught in the sail. The sailors scatter about, cutting ropes so that if it sinks, the mast does not drag the ship down. You are freed by a burly man with a cutlass who pushes a spear into your hands. He tells you to strike behind the scales at the first chance you get.
You are just about to do so as the massive serpent crashes down onto the ship entirely. Once a proud and dignified vessel, it is now little more than driftwood scattered throughout the ocean in bits the size of matches.
Through it all you hear the cries of fear and agony of sailors who find themselves amidst the waves or in the serpent's maw. You are flung up by the impact, and after following a neat arc, you plummet toward the seas. Eyes wide with fear, you watch as the wall of black liquid closes in. You scream, not only for fear of what lies beneath those waves, but also for the fact that you can see the ocean's scavengers tearing apart your fellow explorers, already.
You break the blackened surface, and the cold immediately paralyzes you. It saps you of all life, it drains your energy, and as you sink through the murk, you feel the flame of life fade within you. An iron chokehold coils itself around your chest, threatening to crush you as your last breath leaves you. You feel death approaching.
Something takes your shoulders; A gentle hold, which conjures thoughts of a loved one's hands upon your body. You look on complacently as some of your shipmates sink past you, only recognizing them due to the dark, human shapes in the water, steadily falling below you.
You drift off into sweet nothingness.]]
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[center [i As you wake, you dare not open your eyes. You lie comfortably. You convince yourself you suffered an ill dream, but as you open your eyes, you find yourself on unknown shores. Anxiety grips you for a moment. Cold winds howl through nearby rock formations, passing you by and cutting right through your soaked form.
You stand up, as weak and vulnerable as a freshly-born foal, raising a hand to shield your eyes from the faint sunlight breaking through the leaden sky.
Sunlight. You rejoice to see it again, and an ember of hope is kindled within your chest.
You look around the beach, the faint light allowing you to make out several shipwrecks on the shore; Torn open like hollow ribcages, stripped of all life and valuables. Apart from these wooden corpses there is nothing which hints at other life on this forsaken shore. You are lucky to find the top quarter of a broken spear wedged between two rocks nearby and pry it free. With your flimsy weapon clutched tightly in your hands, you set off inland, daunted by the feeling that you shan't make any friends here.
The further you travel inland, the more you lose any hope of seeing home again.]]
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/88fr2RH.jpg]]
[center [i You reach a great, dark mire and head through, the land itself permeated with the darkness you found yourself envelopped in at sea. Flies buzz in the distance and you hear birds in the distant canopy, but they do not sound as they should. Your ears are filled with the familiar ring of wolves' howls as you push on, and you keep your makeshift stabbing implement at the ready.
You forge on with only your hope as fuel, desperate for food, for warmth, for shelter. The seas spared you, but the elements shall not.]]
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/SKQ6vnt.jpg]]
[center [i You decide to camp out under a fallen log spanning two rocky ridges. You gather firewood but lack kindling and a firestarter, thus you quickly pile it up to provide some defense against the elements. You quietly huddle up between two boulders and your wall, contemplating your hopelessness and whether or not it would be better to just end it all.
The spearhead prods into your flesh, drawing a speck of blood just as you hear a sound which stops your heart for a moment, which causes your blood to freeze.
A panicked cry. A human cry.
With nothing to lose, you get up and dash towards the source of the sound; Perhaps you can be this one's saviour, just as you had been saved from the seas.]]
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Miraly stayed where she was, listening as he spoke of where he’d come from and how he’d gotten here. She continued to watch him till he gestured towards the dead man and she looked towards the body. There were more like him? On this island? She swallowed at the thought, thankful she hadn’t run into any of them yet, especially when she’d been by herself. When he asked her a question, speaking directly to her, she looked back at him with her eyes still wide. He gave her what she thought was supposed to be a friendly smile, oh she hoped that’s what it was, and she stepped back as he stood to approach her.
If it came down to it, she doubted the broken spear would be able to help her and she knew she wouldn’t be able to out run him. So Miraly stayed where she was, her dark eyes fixed on him as he came close enough to drape the woolen fabric over her shoulders before retreating back to the log where he’d been sitting earlier. After a few minutes of silence, she approached him slowly, the broken spear was now being held loosely in one hand, hanging down at her side. Her other hand held the swathe of fabric so it didn’t slip off of her shoulders and she paused near the dead man, stealing a glance down towards him and stopping completely when the man confirmed her worries of there being more tribesmen.
She only noticed the gash on his arm when he began tending to it and at the notion of a knife, she quickly glanced down to make sure she wouldn’t accidentally step on it. Miraly didn’t see where if could have fallen, but there’d be time to find it later. She glanced back up when he beckoned for her, noticing that he’d finished wrapping his arm and was giving her another ‘friendly’ smile. Or maybe it was one of relief that he could talk with someone he didn’t have to potentially kill. She hesitated before carefully walking closer to him, but she didn’t sit. Even though her body still ached from being tossed around by the waves hours earlier and she was scared out of her mind, not knowing where she was or if she’d ever see her home again, she forced herself to stay standing.
“My name is Vina… Miraly da Vina.” She said, swallowing down her hesitation and looked for justification to speak to Ceailan. Well, if he was going to kill her, he probably would have done it right after killed the other man. Instead he was talking to her, he’d put away his knife and had given her something of his own. He’d suggested she find the dead man’s weapon for herself so she figured he probably wasn’t going to kill her, probably.
“I had paid passage on a voyager, for an expedition… Eastward bound as well.” She paused glancing away absently before remembering he’d asked her where she was from. He’d told her where he’d come from so she guessed it wouldn’t hurt… “I come from Sicindi but I left from a port in Hjar's Fall.” After that she trailed off, looking back up to meet his gaze. He was still smiling, and still watching her. A moment of silence stretched between them and Miraly was the first to look away, adjusting her loose grip on broken spear.
It was hard to focus, hard to keep a steady train of thought. He'd just killed a man. He had definitely killed before, but it was always in the heat of battle, when he forgot himself in the throes of violence. This time, he was fully aware. He was fully aware that if he hadn't killed the man, the man would have killed him, or the woman. He stared at her, still, with watery eyes. He didn't register her response when she spoke Sicindian, but the Common tongue made him liven up a bit. After a while, there was some colour to his cheeks, but nonetheless, he took his time to think of an answer.
Eventually, with the distinct drawl that'd pinpoint anyone as being from Caer Haddin, he spoke. [b ''No idea, no bloody idea.''] He'd mumble, faintly. He shifted his weight on the log, adjusting his weathered, tattered kilt. He wasn't as cold and damp as she was, but his face betrayed he hadn't been eating as much as he should have for at least a week, telling her he'd been around for a while. [b ''We came from Caer Haddin, Eastward-bound. Navy. Caught in a storm, fought off two damned Seonadh, and then we were boarded by these folk.''] He made a disinterested gesture towards the dead man with those last few words. [b ''I think everybody else is dead as a nail by now.'']
The soft breeze tugged at his hair, but his shirt, plaid and kilt had dried, so he didn't feel the cold that particular instance. He saw her shiver, however. He noticed she was distracted and remained seated, perhaps to communicate that he wasn't out to kill her. To strengthen this notion, he put away his knife. [b ''Are you cold, lass?''] He asked, amicably, with a semblance of a friendly smile. He'd remove his woolen plaid, almost twelve feet of fabric, and carefully approached the woman. [b ''Here, this should keep you proper warm. Can use it as a blanket, too.''] As carefully and tentatively as he could, he'd drape the vast swathe of fabric over her shoulders, before hurriedly retreating to his log to sit down. He still seemed a bit unnerved by the fact he'd killed a man.
He sat there, for a while, his head bowed and resting in cupped hands, in an attempt to get to his senses and get his bearings. [b ''We're in trouble, you know? Whole tribes like him, out there, and they don't seem to take too kindly to us folk. They've got weapons. Don't know whether they do it at night, or when hunting, or when going to fight or what have you, but they sometimes cover themselves in soot. Looks real frightening, and all.''] He'd look back up at her, just as he produced a long roll of linen, likely cut from a spare shirt which he no longer had. He wrapped it around the gash on his arm. [b ''Look around. He must've had a knife on him, and you might be interested in that. I pray you won't need it.'']
Eager to break the ice, and more likely, the silence, he beckoned over to her, after a while. [b ''I'm Caeilan Lennox, if you want to know. What's your name? Where are you from, then?'']
Miraly stared at the sight in front of her. Two men, one with his dagger drawn and the other gazing towards her. The man who was openly armed had brownish silver hair and a weathered face. He looked older than herself and his clothes looked like they were from the mainland, but not from her home. The other was taller with a broad stance and frowning eyes. She didn’t get to note anything else before the first sprang into motion, cutting into his opponent fast and ending the conflict quickly.
She stared, unable to think, unable to move. All she could do was stare as he dropped to his knees and vomited. He vomited again in the process of moving away from the dead but hearing him speak in the Common language to her snapped her out of her shocked daze.
“I…” She started but the meekness of her own voice made her trail off, not answering right away. She wasn’t sure if he’d pick up on her accent or not, but she could hear his, she just couldn’t place it. It was familiar to her but again, she couldn’t place it. Miraly wasn’t sure if he’d been no the expedition or not but he wasn’t from this island and that made her slowly lower the broken spear.
“[i Do you know where we are?]” She asked instead, in Latin, hoping maybe he spoke what she did. She didn’t know if there were more survivors from the expedition with him or if he was here for a completely different reason, but he looked just as worn and dirty as she felt. She shifted back as he gave her a look. A strange, unkind look, but he didn’t get up from where he was sitting and he didn’t respond.
“Do you.. Do you know where we are?” She tried again, this time in Common since it seemed like he didn’t speak common and she shifted again, anxiously.
She’d been wearing a dark red and black traveling dress the night the ship sank and it was all but in tatters around her ankles and at the ends of its sleeves. The heavy fabric still held the dampness from the sea, even though it had been hours since she’d woken up and leave the shore side that morning. Her brown shoulder length hair was frizzy and her wide dark eyes watched the stranger in front of her wearily.
Miraly still didn’t tell him how she’d gotten onto the island in the first place. She was trying to play this safe, knowing if she started talking, she’d tell anything him everything she knew. She couldn’t do that, she couldn’t risk it. After all she’d just seen him kill another right in front of her so she decided to bide her time and see if he could be trusted.
The dark night sky above them was clear there was enough moon light for the two to see each other, watching each other cautiously. A soft breeze whispered through the clearing and it was enough to make Miraly forget herself and shiver. Her damp clothes didn’t help at all and the breeze distracted her from the man in front of her.
The waves hammered against the heavy, painted hull of the Haddenese warship. The storm had only been letting up for the past few days, after nearly sending the ship and its crew to a watery end, but still, relief was far out of sight. The Captain, a grizzled man with a heavy beard, had been barking orders relentlessly in the strange, flowing language that is Haddenese. The stormclouds seemed to have been retreating in the face of the perseverance of the Haddenese crew, who climbed the rigging to patch up the sails even now. The fog had been dissipating, and eager cries came from the crow's nest at the top of the main mast whenever visibility significantly increased. The Haddenese warship once again flew its colours proudly as the wind picked up significantly, causing the sails to puff up like the breast of a proud hero.
Ceailan gazed out over the bowsprit. As a marine, he was exempt from duties pertaining to maintaining the ship, and the practice the marine Captain conducted each day had just rounded off. He stood, in kilt and shirtsleeves, glad to be refreshed by the soft trickle of rainwater on his face. He was among the first to see a serpent rise from the waves, but not the first to call out a warning. [i ''Seonadh! Seonadh!''] Came the panicked cry. In Haddenese, the marine Captain and the ship Captain roared, almost in unison. [i ''Beat to quarters!''] The order sounded twice. The marines, some in uniform, but most in shirtsleeves, assembled. Like all Haddenese men, they wore kilts with woolen socks that almost reached their knees. Everybody was armed. As the unit's musician, Ceailan quickly fetched his bagpipe, after strapping his basket-hilted broadsword to his hip. He preferred to wield bow and arrow, but that'd breach uniform. He assembled with the other men.
They watched as the great beast slithered through the seas, its crowned head occasionally surfacing. Its scales were a mixture of ruby-red and emerald green, an odd combination and poor camouflage in the brownish-grey waters. The archers were ordered up to the railing with bodkin arrows. When the beast rose up from the waves, they fired. Ceailan could hardly see how many of the projectiles struck their target, but the beast let out a pained bellow. In relation to their ship, it wasn't dreadfully large, and it was far smaller than most adult sea serpents, or Seonadh, in Haddense. He remained attentive, and when it drew in even closer, the archers were allowed to fire at will. Both captains stared in anticipation. If they didn't kill the thing before it reached them, the seonadh would sink the ship. Some of the crewmen brought a few small scorpions to bear, from which they fired long bolts at the serpent.
It was too little, too late, however. With a great thrash and a spray of blood, it slammed down against the railing, crushing three of the archers, and wounding a few more, before sinking into the depths. The few wounded were dragged away from the chunk that had been torn out of the top deck. When the beast surfaced a second time, its tail whipped through the air and slammed through the main and mizzenmasts. Splinters rained down on the deck, injuring many men. A splinter the size of a short spear impaled the man in front of Ceailan, who nearly retched at the sight. He didn't hear the Captain order him to play, but he could hear the drummer boy to his left indicating a rhythm. As a second nature, he put the reed of his bagpipes to his lips and played along with the drummer. The skirl of the pipes overpowered the roar of the winds, rivalled only by the hissing serpent. Haddenese men bellowed their war-cries just after the serpent came down on the deck a second time. With bills and lochaber axes they chopped into the scaled beast's flesh, causing many horrendous wounds. The archers had eschewed their bows in favor of long hunting knives, with which they chopped and stabbed at will. It seemed as though the whine of the pipes and the rhythmic beating of the drums had sent them into a frenzy.
The serpent managed to free itself from the tangle of ropes and the steel that had caused it so much agony. It took six men with it by its thrashing, and snapped a seventh up with its jaws. It retreated into the waves, but the brief ray of sunlight that caught on its scales showed it sinking peacefully into the depths, leaving a gargantuan cloud of blood in its wake.
Ceailan and the other men had immediately begun dragging the wounded to the surgeon and his aides as the ship's crew cleaned up the deck and tried to mend the damage where possible. The Captain carefully steered away from the sinking carcass, unaware that the current carried the cloud of blood with the ship.
When the second serpent came, they had received very little warning. Those of the ship's crew who were still manning their battlestations on the top-deck immediately fired their scorpions, but the long bolts bounced off of the beast's hardened scales. The Seonadh was of tremendous proportions and looked as though it could shatter the ship with a single movement.
The ship's captain looked hopeless for but a moment. Then he cried at the lieutenant relaying orders between him and the men belowdecks. [i ''Bring out the artillery! Those experimental pieces!'']
They could afford to try the latest innovation in warfare, the first gunpowder weapons the world had ever seen, invented in Myrvania. It took about ten seconds for the loaded cannons to be fired at the serpent in a destructive broadside. The cannonade belched clouds of smoke so large they hid the ship from the snake, and the heavy balls it fired bruised and injured the great beast. Though not dead, the horrendous cacophony of all those cannons firing at once was enough to send it fleeing. The men firing the cannons and those on the top-deck were left with a ringing sound in their ears.
The battle was enough to have distracted the lookout from the fact that there was land in sight. [i ''Land! Land!''] He called, cheerfully. The Captain responded by steering the ship cautiously into a natural harbour. They lowered anchor in the middle of the bay. Just as the crew was about to lower longboats to go ashore, they saw movement in the gloom on the beach. A great throng of men was taking to water on small rafts, boats and canoes. Once again, the soldiers were called to assemble. The ship's crew not manning scorpions on the topdeck were equipped with boarding hooks and axes, and the officers joined the party, too. The cannons couldn't be reloaded in the time they had.
They knew it'd come down to a fight when a hail of arrows peppered the heavily-damaged bowsprit. The Haddenese archers returned fire, arrows lit with pitch. A few men were stricken by the bodkin arrows and fell overboard, and a raft caught fire. The rest of the volley was wasted on the calm waves of the shallow bay. The archers continued firing until they ran out of arrows, at which point they cast down their bows.
When the first man came over the rails, Ceailan immediately began playing a Haddenese march on his pipes. The soldiers formed in a square around him. [i ''Man up, Sairgant Lennox!''] Bellowed Captain MacLachlan, who had obviously noted the Sairgant's nervosity. [i ''These ain't pally folk, so you best show them your war-face!''] Ceailan steeled himself. The grating skirl of his pipes seemed to heighten the fighting spirit of the men about him more than it did his. Ceailan noticed the men boarding the ship were assembling by the ship's bow, and due to the soft rain that had just started falling, he could see they were covered in ashes and soot, so their skin seemed as black as night. Some had other warpaints covering their bodies. Their weapons appeared crude and primitive, stone axes and spears, with the occasional copper sword, but nonetheless these fur-clad men seemed savage and dangerous.
The only thing breaking the silence was the Haddenese piper. Then Captain MacLachlan of the marines roared. [i ''Fuil agus dealanach!''] His troops adopted the war-cry and sprinted across the deck. With an equally harrowing war-cry in an equally foreign tongue, the enemy initiated their own assault. Kilted and fur-clad men clashed, axes rose and fell in the air, and the deck was sticky with blood. The tide of foreign men slowly pushed back the Haddenese soldiers, until they were once again at Ceailan's side. This time, he dropped his bagpipes and drew his broadsword. The weight and balance of the weapon were comforting. He held it high aloft as he joined the second charge, a mad cry upon his lips. His comrades fought like lions, and he was in a blur himself.
It was as though time had slowed down to allow him to anticipate every movement. He dodged a thrusting spear and riposted a copper blade before the heavy steel of his weapon bit through an enemy's fur shirt, shattering the collarbone in its path. After being withdrawn from the foreigner, covered in blood, it flashed left in a violent, slashing motion, severing a man's arm. Just as Ceailan brought it about to hack into a third man, he found himself hurled over the railing to his left, into the cold water of the bay.
He hadn't the slightest clue of how he had gotten out of the icy waters. All he knew was that he lost his broadsword in the surf. While clambering uphill he had freed himself of the scabbard. Luckily, he still had his hunting knife, the sheath lashed to his left hip.
It took almost a fortnight for him to get in trouble again. He'd been living off the land, avoiding the native's hunting parties and some of the strange beasts that roamed the land.
He had been drying his wool coat on a branch, not far from a cliff, when he felt something sharp drag through his left arm. He let out a scream of terror as he spun to face whatever had hurt him. He looked right at the bare chest of a man. He took a few hurried steps back and drew his knife. The man, not covered in soot as the party that had boarded the shid had been, was at least a head taller than Ceailan and had wide, sloping shoulders that made the Haddenese survivor liken him to a Highland Galloway. Dreadfully startled, he adopted a combat position, ready to grapple with, and potentially kill the unarmed man.
The man was distracted by footsteps. Ceailan looked up as well. The stranger let out a displeased grunt as a woman appeared on the other side of the clearing. The man was now between two people who were, clearly, not of his tribe. Ceailan noted the woman had a spearhead.
He took advantage of the slightest weakness he noticed, the large man had looked at the woman for a split-second too long. Caeilan leapt forth and barely managed to dodge a powerful backhand. Using his left hand, he took the forearm that had just passed over his head, pulled the arm straight to expose the man's armpit, and drove his knife into it, striking directly at the heart. The large man, clearly of herculean strength, seemed woefully surprised that a man so much smaller could have dealt him a lethal blow. He stumbled, moments before the Haddenese soldier slit his throat. He fell to the ground, gurgling, staring at the fair-haired man, clad in kilt, who had been his undoing.
Ceailan fell to his knees and vomitted. He dropped his knife in the process, but quickly gathered and cleaned it, before vomitting into the long grass again. He managed to seat himself on a log, grasping onto a branch for support, whilst staring at the woman. [b ''You're from home, aren't you?''] He asked in the Common language, so that the woman would understand him no matter her heritage. [b ''How in the blazes did you end up in this miserable hole?'']
The voyage was only supposed to take a month, a month of sea bound travel from the most eastern cape to the most western shoreline of the new lands. That was how it was supposed to be, but in twenty days she’d experienced the terror like no other. The terror of not seeing the sun rise and of watching the vessel she boarded being broken apart by a monstrous force. Of hearing nothing but the crashing waves and cries of those less fortunate. She’d also shivered in the cold water and on the windy shores of the island. Shivered with the bite of hunger and the familiar howl of predators she knew she couldn’t fight off on her own.
Shelter and rest was the only thing Miraly Vina could think of as dusk crept closer on what she could only assume to be her twentieth day away from her homelands. Cold, hungry, and alone, she found shelter under a fallen log and a makeshift wall with wood that she would have rather used to make a fire.
This wasn’t what she’d seen happening in her mind the day she left. Miraly remembered standing on the pier with her two older brothers, both wearing their finest to bid one of their own farewell. She remembered the conversation almost perfectly and it brought tears to her eyes as she recalled what had been said.
“Please tell our parents that I love them.” She had urged her brothers, letting go of one hand from each of them as her sad smile was returned by her eldest sibling.
“Of course, and have a letter sent back once you’ve reached the new lands. They’ll be so proud of you for making it.” He said encouragingly and her slightly older brother pulled her close for one last hug goodbye.
“Please write often.” Was his last parting words and she smiled back at them both sadly.
Miraly had watched the shore disappear as the first night fell and though she was leaving, she knew her heart would stay in her homelands. Now, with tears in her eyes, she looked down at the flimsy spear and wished she’d been convinced to stay. To wait and marry, like she was supposed to...
That last thought was shattered as the sound of a cry broke the quiet of the forest around her.
It was a panicked cry, a human cry, and it was enough for her to pull the spearhead away from stomach and jump to her feet. The wind was blowing fiercely as she scrambled out of her shelter and raced towards the voice. She wasn’t sure what she’d be able to do if the person was in danger but she couldn’t just sit and listen.
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