Monday, 17 May 2021

Animosity III - The Prime Dominion, part 8

Follow these links where you can read about the setting, the figureheads and coalitions, and the unfolding narrative.

~ ⦽ ~ 1


The skyship Cleavermaw slowed to a crawl as it glided into the shadows of the port in Underside, beneath Kellandor. The crew took-in sail and tied-off ropes with very few orders needed - they all knew their jobs well enough.

Kaptain Mogrum cast a critical eye over the list that Ledger Nud presented and nodded his agreement about the stores they needed and the loot they would off-load in exchange. The merchants of Underside didn’t mind if they were paid in coin, Aqua Ghyranis, Glimmerings, or goods. And they weren’t fussy where the goods came from either. The Prime Dominion was becoming a profitable area for the Cleavermaws to ply their trade.

~ ⦽ ~ 2


Mogrum and the crew walked through Underside. Most were loaded-down with bags and boxes of pirated loot but the Kaptain, Mr Sludga and Deadwood were unladen but carried their weapons openly - they could not have done so in the Aelf city on the upper side of the island but here things were very different. They passed along the wooden jetty from the dock to the town, the planks were damp with water, dripping continuously from the stone overhead.

The walkways and buildings of the Lux Umbra port-town were suspended from the bottom of the island of Kellandor, below them the dusky twilight sky was striped with thin clouds. The town itself was a sprawling web of hanging wooden shanty buildings, carved tunnels and natural caves. The Cleavermaws walked by taverns, warehouses and merchant stores. The crew looked longingly at the taverns but trudged on, following their Kaptain. The thin crowds of people were mostly travellers from other Realms: mercenaries and soldiers, explorers and adventures, trader pioneers and merchants.

Eventually they arrived at a chandler’s. Sludga and Deadwood waited outside while the deck hands filed inside. Mogrum looked around the shadowed interior and immediately spotted a few things the ship needed. He approached the counter and placed a yellowed and dog-eared sheet of paper upon it. The chandler adjusted his eye-glass and read the (messy and badly spelled) list, then nodded.

“And how will sir be paying for these, expensive and much-in-demand supplies?” he asked, taking off his eye-glass with an air of slight scorn.

“We ain’t gonna be worrying about that mate.” rumbled Mogrum.

When the crew started placing their bags and boxes on the floor and opening them for inspection his demeanour changed - he did his best to contain his interest and excitement but it was clear to both parties that there was not going to be a payment issue here.

~ ⦽ ~ 3

Sink or Swim

Aelven steel clashed against Mogrum’s bladed Waaagh! Staff and the orruk kaptain grunted with frustration. The Wanderer’s swordsmanship was blisteringly fast and he was only just holding them off. He had a horrible feeling the aelf was toying with him too - that any moment they would switch hands with a smug comment and their skill and skill would be overwhelming.

Luckily for Mogrum, frustration was one of the emotions that tended to build up uncontrollable magical energies within him, So before the aelf had a chance to pull any tricks Mogrum opened his mouth and vomited green lightning into their face!

The aelf’s screams were satisfyingly brief. But the rest of the Cleavermaws had already taken a battering. Mogrum let the power of the Waaagh! build up again for a few moments before he unleashed another burst. This time the half-dozen aelven marines, who had been hiding below decks when the orruk pirates boarded, were lifted into the air and flung overboard.

Bosun Higgs looked over the gunnels to watch them disappear into the shimmersea. He wondered if they would float - but there was a narrow shadowtide close by and the liquid light there was thin and insubstantial - the aelven marines had disappeared through the surface and could just be seen falling; getting smaller and smaller until they disappeared into the clouds below.

~ ⦽ ~ 4

Land Ahoy!

The skyship made landfall on a tiny island, off the edgeward coast of Sionia. The crew made preparations to go ashore while Mogrum and Lost Uzzog examined the maps of the area on the quarterdeck. Mr Sludga stepped up and reported that all was ready and Mogrum folded the most accurate map and tucked it into a pocket inside his voluminous coat.

Kaptain Mogrum leaned over the gunnels of the Cleavermaw and looked down at the island below them. It was yet another tiny spit of land, with teeth-like rocky outcrops, a few stunted trees and a handful of small stone buildings. This one was so much like a hundred others, it was almost impossible to tell most of them apart. At least some islands in the archipelago had unique shapes - a crescent, a needle or something different! This one was just oval..ish.

He shrugged and looked at Lost Uzzog: the navigator seemed confident that this was the right one. Uzzog nodded and pointed at the distant mainland with his aetheric compass. Mogrum sighed and gave the order to go ashore.

~ ⦽ ~ 5

The One That Got Away

A searing arc of arcane lightning ripped through the sails and rigging of the Cleavermaw and the foresail plummeted to the deck, covering several unlucky deckhands with smouldering canvas. The orruk pirates shouted contradictory instructions at each-other and ran back and forth at random. The Deck Bosses bellowed at the crew and lashed-out at any they could reach, trying to recover some semblance of order on the skyship’s deck. No orders were coming from the Kaptain, as Mogrum was preoccupied with the magical defences of the ship and Lost Uzzog was attempting to conjure the Breath of Gorkamorka, in order to speed up the pirate hulk.

The aelf skyship was pulling away, widening the distance between them by the minute; taking full advantage of the mayhem their mage had caused the pirates. Soon the elegant vessel had receded into the distance and disappeared among a cluster of drifting metaliths.

~ ⦽ ~ 6


The Cleavermaw approached the floating island from below, waiting for a shadowtide to open a way through the shimmersea. The crew worked patiently, keeping one eye on the glimmering sea of light overhead. A darkened area drifted by, less than a mile from the island, and they jumped into action a moment before the Kaptain gave the orders to change course to make for it.

The Cleavermaw climbed steadily as she worked her way up, closer and closer to the shadowtide. The crew had quickly learned that the fissures did not stay still, and often closed as quickly as they opened.

Mogrum squinted against the dazzling light as the ship drew near the shadowtide: it was shrinking and it was clear it would soon not be big enough for the ship to pass.

He made the call and issued the order to take in sail, to reduce speed and descend again. The crew were disappointed but they would wait again: another shadowtide would come.

~ ⦽ ~ 7


After making landfall around noon the crew spent a weary afternoon making repairs to the ship. Re-tying rigging, hammering planks over split timbers in the hull, lashing scattered baggage back into place, and sewing patches over scorched holes in sails. They were in foul moods and the minor squabbles that frequently broke out had to be kept in check alternately by the Deck Bosses’ belaying-pins and ropes-ends, and by the promise of a double ration of grog when the work was done.

The lookout at the masthead kept a sharp eye out, in case the aelf ship came back and on the bank of rolling white clouds gathering to windward. They would be vulnerable to threats both naval and natural until the ship was in good order again.

As the light faded and the clouds closed in, the ship was in a much better state, but still in need of a lot of work. The jury-rigged repairs would not hold under any kind of strain. Mogrum ordered them to come-about and run downwind to find a safe place to anchor. They normally tried to avoid the Prime Dominion’s winter side but this time there was little choice. They needed more time to mend and make good, or the Cleavermaw would come apart at the seams.

~ ⦽ ~ 8


Winter rain hammered on the timbers of the Cleavermaw’s deck and hull. Freezing cold winds hummed through the rigging. The two orruks on anchor-watch, wrapped in their cloaks with the brims of their hats pulled down low, listened enviously to the noise from below-decks. They both frequently checked the sand-timer next to the ship’s wheel, hoping it would run out soon and their watch on-deck would be over.

The rest of the crew huddled below out of the storm and close to the warmth of the galley. Lanterns were lit to fend off the twilight gloom that was as close to night as Hysh ever got, even when Noctis came near to this part of the Prime Dominion. Food was served up and hungrily consumed, grog was issued and sea-shanties sung. The orruk explorer, who called himself The Baron, started telling another of his unfeasible tales - this time about leaping from Azyr to Shyish for a bet. The deckhands scoffed and jeered at the story but they still listened intently nonetheless.

Kaptain Mogrum left his crew to their entertainments and climbed into his hammock. The boyz had worked hard and well that day, so they had earned their fun. Tomorrow would be another tough day but it could wait.

~ ⦽ ~ 9


Winter winds blew hard in Lost Uzzog's face as he stood in the prow of the Cleavermaw. He struggled with one hand on his hat and the other trying to get a bearing on a Waystone Tower. The ship lurched sideways suddenly and he lost his footing and tumbled along the deck. He swore loudly and colourfully and the nearest deck hand turned away to hide their mirth. The navigator was only just able to regain his feet before the vessel pitched downwards and he was thrown into the gunnels. The crew didn't laugh this time and three of them rushed to grab him. Without Uzzog they would have no hope of finding their way around the archipelago.

Soon Uzzog had a fix on Faelyn’s Tower and he knew just where they were in the Idrelec Diyari. The three deckhands held him fast, two with meaty fists clamped onto his jacket and one holding his hat on. This, somewhat embarrassing, arrangement left both Uzzog's hands free to move the gears of the aetheric compass and line up its needles. The ghostly lights within its crystal dome clearly showed the shape of the tower on the island of Merlara.

Tacking continually across the winds that always rushed toward Noctis, for day after day, the ship had laboriously worked its way out of winter toward autumn. At all times keeping a sharp-eyed lookout at the masthead, avoiding men-o-war by slipping through shadowtides to stay out of sight, and looking for merchant ships.

It cost them dear though. The crew were exhausted by the constant changes in heading, all the while battered by cold winds and rain. Several of them had needed broken bones mended or deep cuts knitted back together but that was work for Lost Uzzog’s Weirddok powers - and that took him away from his navigation duties. They would be in poor condition to win a fight, even if they found a fat merchantman labouring in the storms. Mogrum knew he had to get them out of the winter regions and into somewhere they could recover properly. If they could get to Sumina they could hold-up on one of it’s tiny outlying islands.

~ ⦽ ~

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