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Welcome to Carista. We are an original fantasy roleplay forum set in the world of Carista -- a place where the eight different systems of control are divided across countries and oceans and blood. The systems of control are Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Ice, Plant, Health and Time -- all given to humanity in ages past.

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 Opening Gambit

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Martyn Bohdan

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PostSubject: Opening Gambit   Wed May 01, 2013 2:47 pm

Battles are everything you feared and nothing you anticipated, Martyn had learned. While you expect danger mingled with excitement and bound up by terror there are things you do no expect. The sudden spike in air temperature and how much you sweat. How exhausting the work of killing your fellow men is, and the ubiquitous violent reaction that is brought on by surviving. Martyn had learned all these things only recently, and as he knelt limply on a wide stretch of unremarkable North Glacian beach, he pondered them in a bemused detached fashion. He had been doing so for most of the last half hour, since leading the small group of fighters he had brought with him against the beached Undan corvette Swift . The ship was burned most down now, only the final foot or so of her hull remained, smoldering on the stones.

Her crew had been killed down to the last man, thirty seven Undan souls from eleven to seventy three lay dead all across the beach. Five of the twenty one men Martyn had brought with him were also dead, laid out back on the snow. They had to go home for the last time. The crunch of boots on stone intruded slowly on his thoughts as he knelt next to the bodies, reciting the dead men's names in his mind.

“Acke, Alvar, Isak, Jens....”

“Bohdan,” The voice was hard and angry, and it's owner stood rigid with the same less than three feet away.” “You've had enough time to flagellate yourself. We need to get away from here”

“Krister.” He thought with defiant finality as he pushed himself up from the snow silently.

“You misunderstand me Lasse,” He answered, his own voice flat, controlled. “I'm doing no such thing. These men knew the risk when the agreed to come, same as you or I.”

“You promised..” Lasse's voice had grown brittle with it's anger, and Marty did not need to turn and look to know that his face was a rigid mask of fury.

“I know what I promised.” He answered turning to face the older man, his expression flat. “And I know what I didn't. And I never promised that no one would die. I'm sorry about your losse Lasse, Jens was a good boy...”

“You keep my son's name out of your mouth!” With a roar, Lasse lunged for Martyn, who had led him and his son to this place, who had gotten his son killed. But in his rage the attack was ill conceived and the younger man easily stepped out and brought his knee up to meet his antagonists gut. The older man fell weezing into the snow, near where his son lay in repose. Instantly his rage evaporated, turning to grief. Lasse sobbed brokenly, as he crawled to where Jens' lay, his fingers clutching at his shirt and pawing uselessly at the boy's lifeless, waxen features. Martyn stood by, watching silently. This wasn't done yet.

“You promised.” Lasse repeated brokenly after several minutes. “You promised you'd take care of us.” It was meant to prick Martyn's conscience, to make him feel some of what the older man was feeling. But it didn't work.

“And I am taking care of him.” He answered softly, though not kindly. “I'll see him buried when we return home, but he knew he could die. As did we all.” Turning away, he began to walk towards the other members of his raiding party, busy gathering and searching the Undan dead. “As you did Lasse.” It was the final word on the subject.

*~*~*~*~*


Earlier

The Undan Ship had been dragged onto the pebbles of the beach by her crew, whether for repairs or as a precaution against pack ice, no one could say. But when word had reached Martyn Bohdan that there was a beached Undan ship less than two days from Grahn-ville, he had gathered a small group of volunteers and left immediately to attack them. There had been a lot of talk, especially by Martyn himself about such an opportunity, and he was not going to waste or shrink from it now. Everyone who had come with him were volunteers, no one had been conscripted or forced. Jens Rapp had been a late addition, and his father Lasse had not been pleased with it, but the boy (only three years younger than Martyn) had refused to be stood down.

Now they all stood, shrouded by a snow storm which somehow did not quite reach the beach, watching the crew of the corvette as they milled about. There were three large fires burning around the ship, so there was plenty of light even with the snow and the fog off the North Sea.

“What do we do Bohdan?” Jens asked, his voice cracking with eagerness, his fingers opening and closing reflexively on the haft of the hunting spear he'd brought along.

“We do nothing.” His father, Lasse Rapp declared flatly, a stern glare aimed at his son though intended for Martyn who was nearby. “There are twice as many of them as us. We go home.”

“Wrong.” Martyn said quietly as he unslung his bow and worked up two dozen arrows in the quiver he always carried empty. “We're not running.” The older man's face flushed.

“Didn't you hear me?” He said venomously. “Can't you count? We're outnumbered.” Settling the frozen arrows into the quiver, Martyn turned his gaze from them to the older man.

“We came here to kill them.” He said, nodding in the direction of the Undans. “Not just look at them. They're trespassing on Glacian sovereign land, and they've likely come to take some more of her citizens as bilge slaves. Do you want to go with them Lasse?” The older man looked like he'd bitten an unripe berry, but he said nothing. Barely stifling a smile, Martyn addressed the remainder of the volunteers who had come along.

“We've got the advantage of surprise.” He said, fearing that Lasse's doubts would or had already spread, he addressed them in informal dismissal. “We've got the advantage of the cover provided by the fog and the snow. They don't know where here, and they won't until we get much closer. Over half of us have bows, which means that if any of us can shoot,” a dark chuckle from several men answered this jest, “We should be able to bring the odds much more in line before that happens.” Tying the quiver to his belt, Marty continued, switching easily to the strategy of the fight.

“They've already done much of the work for us.” He said. “They're ship is beached, and it'll take a fair effort to get it back into the water. You can't swim in the North Sea for any distance without dying, and we're on this side.” He smiled a cold, lupine grin. “It's simple, we split into two groups, ten with Lasse, eleven with me. Lasse's group goes left, mine goes right. Not straight, but in a looping angle, come at the boat from about twenty degrees on opposite sides. It'll cause confusion about our numbers and that will breed fear. Once we've cut a few down, we can charge the survivors, keeping a few of us back to watch for attempts to get the ship afloat, shoot anyone who tries to push or work her free got it?” Everyone nodded, though there was a sullen cast to Lasse's eyes.

“Then all we have to do,” He concluded with the same Lupine grin. “Is kill them all.” There were nods of approval, and some few grins like his own, but for the most part, the group just stood by in anxious expectation, some looked sick.

"It's not honest work," Martyn allowed finally, "But the Undan's haven't been treating us honestly either. Remember that." Then he turned his attention solely on Lasse. "I'll take the first shot, watch for it." Then the two groups split, and Martyn's including Jens Rapp, soon became ghosts even to their allies, before disappearing altogether.

"Let's go." Lasse said sourly. The first strike of the Glacian Revolution was about to begin.
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Stian Eld

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PostSubject: Re: Opening Gambit   Fri May 03, 2013 7:12 pm

Aboard the small Seran trade ship, Stian allowed the sea to rock her into a state of near-sleep, the hammock swinging idly from side to side. It felt good to be back on the ocean, the ever present tilt and shift of the waves beneath them; solid land was nice, but she would never feel as home standing on rock and soil as she did standing on a deck. And even then, ice was the best of all possible worlds: the solidity of land with the changeable personality of water. Yes, glaciers was for her. A flood of homesickness rose inside her like bile and she felt the familiar squeeze in her chest, a sudden shortness of breath. Taking a deep breath, carefully through her mouth instead of nose, she held it for a moment and then exhaled, trying to send some of the worry out with the dispelled air. What she was doing was necessary. This wasn't a trip of pleasure, travelling the world in search of adventure or what have you.

No, this is necessary, she told her self, forcing her shoulders to relax as she rubbed the heel of her hand across her chest, over her heart. South Glacies needed the knowledge she was gathering, in her bag of herbs and spores, and even just in her mind. There were clippings she had gathered in Sera that, if given to the right Plant worker, could be cultivated and used to help with various ailments. Many of the plants she kept pieces of weren't even strictly medicinal, but just good for the system, especially one that relied so heavily on meat for nutrition. Letting out a few more deep breaths, she shut her eyes. Necessary.

It had been difficult, talking anyone into sailing this close to North Glacies. The ships usually detoured slightly, more toward Unda, to avoid getting caught in any 'tiffs' between the two sides. But a little extra coin (most of what she had left, honestly) and the promise to keep the crew in good health for the duration of her time on the ship had gone a long way. They were still going to anchor some distance for the shore and have someone row her to land, but she had expected that anyway. It was good, then, that she had left Mercy in Sera with an acquaintance. Snorting softly to herself, she shifted on the woven rope bed. Yes, I'm sure he would've loved to do this again.

She slept.

Sometime later she awoke as someone shook her shoulder roughly and told her they had arrived. Gathering her sparse belongings, really only the two satchels she had bought for her research materials and a now grimy bedroll, patinaed with all sorts of dirt. Pulling on her makeshift cold weather clothes, traded from various sailors and merchants on the Northern coast of Sera, she stepped out onto deck, holding the brim of her hood against a stiff wind. Ah, this was what she missed, this bone chilling cold. She had stayed in Sera just long enough to finally be accustomed to the heat, but she never enjoyed it. Pausing to shake the captain's hand, she climbed down into the little dinghy where her rowing companion already sat.

The passage to the beach of the glacier was quiet, the occasional bird cry or loud slap of a wave against the boat, but no conversation. The man rowing her clearly wanted nothing to do with it or her. Ignoring him, Stian watched the coast draw closer with a sense of trepidation and excitement, though her face was unreadable. It felt like going home, but she knew that was false, this was not home. She knew no one here, and there was a chance they would not welcome outsiders. But how 'outside' am I? She really wouldn't know until she got there.

Finally reaching the shallows, the man refused to keep rowing. Incredulous, she offered to row for him, but in the end hopped out of the boat into freezing thigh-high water. Now quite awake, she held her possessions clear of the water as she waded to land. More stone on this beach than she was used to, less ice. Slinging both satchels over her head and onto opposite hips, she tucked the bedroll under her arm and began to walk. While it was unlikely they would have any settlements near the coast, after so much Undan raiding, perhaps there would be a road to follow.

She had not made it far, however, when the smell of smoke reached her nose. Her stomach dropped and her grip on the bedroll tightened. Shit. There was too much fog to see the distance clearly, and a snow storm seemed to be raging just inland. She couldn't spend the night in this, not easily; if she built herself a snow den, maybe, but she needed to know what was happening down the beach. A Glacien would know better than to build a fire on the beach, unless they were desperate. If I bed down during a raid I'll never forgive myself. Grimacing, she cautiously continued on her way down the beach.
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Martyn Bohdan

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PostSubject: Re: Opening Gambit   Fri May 03, 2013 11:15 pm

Stian's intuition proved to be quite astute, as there was a raid underway, but not the kind she or anyone familiar with the situation might have expected. As Martyn had predicted, the fog had provided his troops, if such a group might be given so grand a title reached their ambush position without incident. The Undan sailors were too busy ensuring that their ship would not float off, and the soldiers were constructing hide yurts for shelter. Unfortunately no one in sight was wearing the insignia of rank, so there was no obvious first target for Martyn or any of his guerillas. Gesturing down with the flat of his hand he indicated that everyone should kneel, following his example. Then he drew an arrow from his quiver and nocked it.

“Alright Shooters,” He said quietly. “Look at what we can see.” He thrust his chin forward to indicate the panorama before him. “Sailors everywhere from the breakers, back toward where they're constructing the Yurts. Starting from the far right, Jens, you shoot the first soldier, the Heinrich, the second one in and so on all the way up to the left end of our line.” Everyone Mumbled assent. “After that, switch and go back to the left. First soldier near the yurts and on back toward the water. Two volleys and then we charge.” Again everyone mumbled assent. “Alright then,” He said,as he pulled the frozen fletching of his arrow back to his cheek, emptying his lungs to steady his aim. The world narrowed to the back of the sailor who was hammering a peg into the ground, securing a block to stabilize the ship on the beachhead. Then he released the string and the arrow leaped forward. The sound of another half dozen bows releasing missiles was almost immediate. The effect of the attack was instantaneous. The seven Undan's who were shot went down screaming, few survived. When the archers swung back to the left, they found that the Undan's had broken, scrambling for cover so that few of the anticipate targets remained.

“Targets of opportunity!” Martyn called out as he fired twice. Two more Undan's went down, neither wounded fatally, but both bleeding. Several more arrows whistled into the makeshift camp to little noticeable effect. The screams could be heard from all over the camp.

“Weapons!” he declared, slinging his bow behind his back even as he began Shaping an axe for each hand. Their weight reassuring in his hands as they solidified feeling like steel against his palms. “Ready?” He asked, glancing hurriedly in both directions. Either way he looked, he saw the same thing. Men who were not professional soldiers, but had volunteered to fight for their homeland all the same. They looked exhilarated or terrified but always determined. Each had armed himself according to his preference. Many had weapons of wood and steel, some, like himself, had Shaped their own. Ahead, in the rapidly clearing fog, the Undan's were trying to figure out what had happened, trying to tend their wounds and prepare for what came next while peering fearfully into the slowly diminishing fog.

“CHARGE!”

The command was echoed faintly from the far side of the camp by Lassee, and the other nineteen men answered with shouts of their own. Some were inarticulate, some were fore their land, a few even called upon their commander, but to the Undans in their camp, it sounded like it was coming from everywhere, and the men who charged out of the fog clad in furs were like nothing they had ever encountered. Since when did Glacian's attack Undan's? With the clash of steel and the crunch of flesh on flesh, the fight was joined in earnest.


Last edited by Martyn Bohdan on Sat May 04, 2013 1:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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Stian Eld

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PostSubject: Re: Opening Gambit   Sat May 04, 2013 1:48 am

Taking a moment to adjust her packs, she made sure nothing is going to clink loudly and give her away. She redid the buckles on the straps as well, making them ride closer to her body; it would be slightly less awkward now, if she needed to run. Making her way quietly along the strand, she made a point of stepping on stone instead of beach or snow where she could, trying to leave as few footprints as possible. While not particularly worried about being followed at the moment, it didn't hurt to be careful.

The first scream ripped through the fog ahead of her, sounding simultaneously close and very far off. Several other screams followed and out of reflex she crouched immediately, making herself a smaller target. Still unable to see what was going on, she felt her palms grow clammy and her mouth dry. So its not just some idiot burning drift on the beach. Damn. It had never been a legitimate hope, but she was still disappointed.

Drawing the knife she kept, more of an animal hunting knife than a people killing one, she stood back up but kept lower than usual, walking hunched but moving swiftly toward the sounds of the injured.

“CHARGE!”

She froze once more, looking up through the now thinning fog to make sure she wasn't in the direct path of whoever was charging. Relieved that she wasn't, she bit her lip and continued on. There was a bright blaze farther down the beach, now, what she thought might be a ship in flames. That made her pause, heart beating hard; did that mean the Glaciens were winning this fight? Had this raid gone so poorly for the Undans their own ships were ablaze? She hardly dared to hope.

Slowing her pace, she made her way closer to the sounds of conflict.

"... help."

The voice came to her on the breeze, though when she glanced abut she saw no one. Perhaps it was one of the injured, maybe they'd crawled off somewhere. The voice came again, and then again and she followed it as best she could, some close distance from the main fight. Tucked behind a fairly large rock, lower body half in the freezing waves, Stian found a man muttering to himself, the word 'help' the most frequent on his lips. The broken haft of what must be an arrow protruded from the basic armor that covered his abdomen, in... Undan colors. Midway into kneeling next to him, Stian halted.

He's taking part in the raid. He was shot with a Glacien arrow, defending Glacien land. You cannot help this man.

But oh how she wanted to. It was painful, watching someone suffering with the knowledge she could ease it if only he wasn't from there and she wasn't from here (or almost here). If this man had been born to another country and fought for another cause she'd be pressing her damp fingers to his temples, finding out how to give him the best chance possible. But he was Undan, wearing Undan Blues and clearly he was no friend of Glacies, North or South. Crouching next to him, she slapped away the hand he held out to her, still quietly begging to be helped, semi-deliriously. There was quite a bit of blood on him, perhaps from a second wound, and the freezing salt water wasn't doing him any good.

Momentarily forgetting the fight beyond the rock, she narrowed her eyes at the Undan soldier. "You're Undan, yes?" The man nodded, blinking sluggishly at her. Baring her teeth in what might be a dog's approximation of a smile, Stian leaned forward. "I thought you might be. Raiding, were you?" He shook his head and mumbled something but she couldn't hear it and she didn't care. "Yes, I thought as much. Let me help you with that." Face twisted with loathing, both of him and of herself, she leaned forward and jerked the remainder of the arrow out, holding it bloody in her hand, as he let out another scream that quickly quieted to a soft moan as she roughly pressed her hand to the wound and pushed some Health into him, dulling some of the pain.

Both hands bloody, she continued to crouch next to him. He would die, most definitely, and she wasn't about to change that.
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Martyn Bohdan

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PostSubject: Re: Opening Gambit   Sat May 04, 2013 2:36 am

Martyn made it to the beach first, with Jens Rapp hard on his heels, and the remainder of his party coming up behind. A spear whistled past his head as he reflexively ducked it, and he heard someone catch it behind him. He didn't look back to see who, but the crunch of steel through bone was distinct. The sound of a man stumbling and falling on the stones even more so. The knowledge that one of his men was hit and down, only spurred him forward. His command to charge had morphed into a wordless cry of blood lust and anger, and when the first Undan appeared before him, a sailor in his late teens, unarmed and terrified, he didn't even slow down. His right hand swung forward and up, the blade of the axe he clutched in that hand hitting the boy beneath the chin and tossing him backwards, his blood splashing hot over Bohan's face and arm as he died screaming through a split jaw.

All around were the sounds of battle. The Undan soldiers would not be slaughtered, and even the sailors sought to fight back. The young sailor had a companion, and the man threw himself into Martyn's legs, driving them both to the ground. He was brave, or perhaps just terrified, but unarmed. The glacian's axes did their work easily. Pushing the corpse off Martyn saw Krister, another of the volunteers offering him a hand up. But before he could take it, an Undan lance was driven into the boy's back. His victorious grin turned red in an instant as blood bubbled over his lips and down his chin, and he sagged across Martyn's knees. The Undan raised his spear again, but Martyn's axe thrown without leverage caused him to duck and stumble. Both men scrambled to their feet, and when the Undan thrust again, Martyn parried with one axe, and stuck the second into his antagonists forehead.

All around there were shouts of victory or defeat, cries of pain and glee. The Glacians and Undan's shared a common language so every word was clear to either side. From somewhere to his right came the sound of someone trying to climb the gunwales of the corvette. An arrow whistled overhead, and there was a splash as the corpse of a young teenage Undan died in the surf.

“Mercy!” An elderly man wobbled towards him in the surf, one arm hanging limp and bloody from an arrow through the shoulder. “Mercy sir!” He repeated, reaching with his good arm. “You didn't have to kill my boy.” The Undan was in his seventies if he was a day. White-haired and blind in at least one eye. He was no threat to anybody. Martyn let him get close, then he reached out and grabbed the man by the throat of his shirt.

“No Quarter to Unda.” He growled, before jerking the man toward him and turning, pinning him against the side of his own boat. “NO QUARTER!” He bellowed the reminder and then opened the old man like a fish, leaving him to die, grasping his own entrails, clinging to his grandson's corpse. “Burn the boat!” He ordered Jeffres and Oded, two more of the men who'd come along, standing for a moment immobile near one of the Undan bonfires. “Leave them nothing.” Then he strode off deeper into the camp, to where there were still sounds of fighting, looking for more Undans to kill, though he was already covered in their blood. Behind, he could hear bits of drift hitting the deck of the corvette as the lads went to work burning the ship. Shortly, the smoke was a pillar a hundred feet high as the ship burned to the stones beneath her hull.

*~*~*~*~*


After the Battle

Lasse was dispirited and sullen. Tear tracks clear on his face as he sat next to where Jens lay. Martyn left him be. He turned to Sten, the next eldest. “Search the Undan's for any coin you can find, check the yurts and any supplies they off loaded as well, then throw the materiel onto whats left of the boat and finish it. Throw the bodies into the ocean.” Wordlessly he started past the man, who reflexively caught his elbow.

“Where are you going Bohdan?” The man asked quietly. “The men need to see you.” Martyn fixed his new second in command with a flat stare. “The men'll be fine.” He replied, pointing to a trail of blood that he had spotted earlier. “I'm going to follow that and see where our runner got to.” Without another word, he set off, Sten's orders ringing behind him.


The 'runner' as he had called him, had not been running of course. By the trail of blood he left behind, he'd been crawling. But it was still three hundred yards before Bohdan saw the woman, crouched near a moderate sized stone near the surf-line. It was difficult to distinguish much of her, beneath the furs and leather she wore, many of foreign manufacture but seeming sturdy enough. Her hair was blonde, maybe, beneath the layer of dirt which covered her from head to toe, and blowing in streamers around the hood that couldn't contain them. It was an odd sight to be sure. So Martyn slowed his pace, shaping a knife up the sleeve of his own fur's he called to her from thirty yards away.

“You by the rock.” He said eloquently. “What's your business here?” He was, he thought being rather generous. It was more of chance than he'd given the Undan's he'd just finished with. “Speak up now.” He said, crossly a scowl on his face. He thought about adding “I won't hurt you.” But he assumed that she would see through the lie, so spared them both the waste of it.

He was after all, dressed head to foot in furs and leather armor, both covered liberally in Undan blood, and his face was smeared with soot and yet more blood leaving his pale skin ashen in the harsh light of early afternoon. He looked like a man who had just done murder, and one fully capable of more. And it was true, if this strange woman, with her tanned skin marking her as a foreigner even before she spoke, gave him any trouble, he'd bash her brains out on the rock and leave her for the gulls with no more remorse than if he'd swatted a mosquito.
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Stian Eld

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PostSubject: Re: Opening Gambit   Tue May 07, 2013 11:00 pm

The man in front of her slowly lost consciousness and Stian ground her teeth, utterly dissatisfied. Dropping the remnants of the broken arrow into the surf that was beginning to lick her boots, she picked up two handfuls of snow and rubbed it between her palms, washing some of the blood away. Looking speculatively at the body, she realized the sounds of battle had ceased. She needed to move, soon, in case the Undans hadn't been quite as poorly off as she thought; her presence would be hard to explain. While clearly not a traditional Glacian, with her tan skin and mismatched furs, neither was she an Undan. I could tell them I'm Seran but the question of why I am here would remain. Best to leave now.

But that was not to be, as she finished having the thought and a voice rang out, some distance from her. Shit. Weighted as she was by her packs, there was likely little she could do to outrun whoever spoke to her, so instead she stood, straight backed and tall as she could. Her chin thrust up, she tried to get a good look at who was addressing her and almost wished she hadn't. A man, perhaps about her age, maybe slightly younger and covered in blood. She was no stranger to blood, but it often gave her a chill to see someone wearing another's. While she knew little of North Glacian dress, she knew enough to recognize his armor was not Undan. A Glacian soldier, I suppose.

Raising her voice, she called, "I am Stian Eld. I come from South Glacies, most recently by way of Sera." She glanced to the man behind the rock, then back to the bloody man. "My business is that of healing. I mean you no harm." Not that she felt she could have done him harm, even if she'd meant to, but it was a gesture of good will to say so anyway. She raised her hands to show him open palms, though one arm stayed markedly lower so she could keep the bed roll pinned between her arm and her side.

"Who are you?"
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