The times of Trials…..
The captain of The Weasel of The Sea had had experience of bombarding towns and ones which bombarded back so as he swept in to for his return run he had the craft further out set on a zig-zag tack, which made his craft an even more difficult target. It was no problem really, they were just firing into the town, and no particular part. What caused him concern was a sudden swell which struck the side of his ship causing it to list to starboard, and thus sent the salvo up high arcing down.
Crashing down somewhere in the docks area.
The first thing he did was scan for two other ships in the sliver of pale on the horizon signalling the dawn and was much relieved to see them suffering with the same sea. At least no one could blame him if any of the crews were injured by the fall of shot.
“Damn funny waters,” he said to the boson.
“Very damn funny waters Captain,”
Karlyn had looked sideways at Trelli; Trelli had looked sideways at Karlyn. As if walking into a brick wall in a thick elidian fog Karlyn had been suddenly stuck for any words to goad Trelli with. No doubt the sproggle-head was simmering, but Karlyn hadn’t been able to figure out which way the whichie would jump, and when all was said and done, it didn’t do to upset the prize; she’d only get moaned at by everyone, and in the current she didn’t feel inclined for that. She should be praised for capturing a raider, and finding out the name of one of the raiding ships. There moving in a feral way Karlyn could admire came the LifeGuard and of course striding with them as if nothing dare stop him was The Custoady.
“Oi! Blondie!!” she yelled “Reinforcements!!”
“I can make out your loopy- err- tildelte- Custodian,” Norvan said “Looks like she has someone with her,”
“Can you see Beritt?” Erzns demanded; he was irritated, his eyes were not as sharp as they used to be and what with all this scraithin’ smoke and dust.
There came a chorus of shrieking indicating another flight of ordinance, this time the piercing sound did not fly overhead, but began to grow far louder.
Meradat stopped, looked upwards.
“Lord God!” he intoned.
Karlyn watched the line of men stop, apart from The Custoady, they made to scatter.
In a place of firstly thunderous tearing of the senses at the impact of the projectiles upon the building opposite and then the swept by surge of a force let loose.
Karlyn began to turn as if faced by a sudden squall of rain, time was ridiculously slow, as sharp small debris came tearing at them, towards her. The last image she was aware of was the whichie girl, hands up before her face and in one emphatic scream calling “NO!”. All swiftly obscured by The Second Hell’s worth of confusion, itself only to be shoved aside by the Third Hell of pain, and the Karlyn was lifted off her feet and thrust back down into the warehouse
Beritt had warned the raider not to move unless she said so, when the air was ripped apart by the arrival of ordinance; its hysterical cry, the crashing and roar of the destinations. The power of the impact struck her next as if she had been shoved in a tavern brawl; clouds of dust and small debris flooded in, somewhere glass was shattering while bits the flesh and bones of the warehouse were shredded loose. She made to grab at the raider, but in the storm of destruction and confusion he shook loose and scrambled out of one wrecked window leaving Beritt to spit dust, and curses.
But with no time for any more remorse or anger, Trelli was slumped against the door frame and Beritt could not see Karlyn. She squinted, swore again, poured contents from her water bottle over her face, blinked furiously, blew her nose loudly into a rag, poured some more water into eyes and blinked once more. Now she could see a dust covered prone form, head towards her, mouth open, eyes closed. NO movement.
“Oh scraith and shit!!”
Feeling very much that the Fourth Hell had settled on her shoulders, she nonetheless ordered herself to medician duties. She would have to work out just what had happened and what that all meant later on. Scrambling up all of her equipment she scuttled towards the door, now illuminated by dark flame of a nearby explosion. Trelli looked towards her, eyes streaming tears, breath coming in short gasps, managing to point at Karlyn.
“I’m not hurting,” she gasped “See to Miss Boney-Bottom,” the maidservant managed to get to her knees “I’m going to go somewhere to be sick,”
“Take this,” Beritt passed her a solid long bottle “It’s peppermint cordial. When your done up-heaving rinse out your mouth and spit. Do it three times, then take one small swallow. Make you feel better. Going to need you Trelli,”
Trelli snatched the bottle and clambered off over ruins, gasping, praying, retching, sobbing. Her hands throbbing. Good Lord God! Just what was going on?
Trying to stem her desperation that she’d not lost someone to this night of ruination Beritt forced herself into a deliberate and thorough examination of Karlyn for any breaks or wounds. At least the elidian’s breathing was regular. This was a medician’s night and no mistake. Cleaning and patching. This time right in the war’s workface too, not at the back where women medicians were usually kept by conservative types who felt they shouldn’t be exposed to the horrors of battle. Well try and deal with a raving threshing soldier after the shock has worn off and the pain is running wild and you may be having to saw off a limb too!
“Ohh, I died an’ gone to the Good Lord Gawd’s abode an’ he sent me my own angel,”
Karlyn was awake and smiling up at Beritt. Beritt was for checking her senses, smiling didn’t count. Lots of men wandered battlefields smiling, before they fell down dead, or started to scream.
“How many fingers am I holding up Karlyn?”
“Seventy-five..an’ an ‘arf,”
“Oh ferr crying out loud!!”
“Aww you’re fun to tease Blondie. Your little face goes all so stern and your nose crinkles,”
“How many scraithin’ fingers!!”
“How many do you normally use?”
“Second Hell!! You’re obviously no more crocked than you normally are, Now sit up and let me clean that head scratch. Midden! You were lucky! Look at all this fribbin’ rubble, and only a head scratch!!”
The two young women looked across to the hillocks of stone, flames spouting out, smokes seeping upwards, beyond more fires raged and buildings toppled.
“Lawdgawdelpus poor sproggles. Is it always like this Blondie?”
Beritt supposed so.
“It’s war Karlyn. What else is there to expect. Now where’s our men gone?”
Karlyn looked with a sympathetic sadness at Beritt then pointed to burning ruins.
“Whole shattering midden fell right on them Blondie,”
“She’s right,” Trelli added, hoarse but determined to sound upright and sensible as she came crawling over damage.
Beritt stared, she didn’t quite know what else to do. If there was not so much flame, she’d get over there and pull rocks, stones and timbers away until she found, at least a body. But currently she did not want to see anyone cooked, half-baked, and worse still hanging onto life when there was no point to. She could not be hero; she could be soldier though. She would obey orders, as expected to. Yes, that was the way to do it. So she wiped dust, someone’s blood and dampness from her face.
“That’s settled that then,” Hold it together. Look, the girl Trelli was doing it, so would she. Be solid. Be composed. “We’re getting you, Trelli, out of here. We’re taking you to where my commanders will decide,” What? Don’t think. Get on with it “How best to help you,”
“I think my poor squished custoady, might have had other views,”
“I daresays Karlyn. But look at it this way. I’m the only one hereabouts with a definite string of orders to follow. We’ll find us a wagon, see if our horses are in good form, appropriate goods and gear for imperial purposes,” she paused, wiped her face, and looked about at a town in torment.
“And get the scraith out of here!!” Beritt raged.
“Gonna get all my stuff,” she added walking back into the warehouse.
Karlyn nudged Trelli
“Cooo, an’t she’s a fierce little den-mother?” another nudge “An’ A-ppro-pri-ate means we can steal what we like, ‘cause it’s not stealing if we’re doing for the good of the Oaky,”
She then clapped her hand to her face.
“Pooooroogah! Wot a pong! Someone’s cracked open a sewer!!”
“I can only smell peppermints,” Trelli’d resolved to stick to basic facts. She had concluded, quite correctly, it was the best way to avoid going mad.
As Karlyn announced her opinion on what she could smell; The Helmsmen and his crew gasped. A bloated, detritus encrusted shape with writhing long and hooked tentacles had broken the surface at the sapphire point. The Helmsman was about to order an immediate beaching into The World Physical and worry about the consequences later on, but the creature did not notice them, it’s limbs had reached into the places above the surface and seeming to have had them half sawn off began to haul itself out of the waters, thick glistening unhealthy greens and browns revealing a long sneering mouth of many fangs. Slowly, the whole thing began to disappear after the limbs.
“It’s crawling into the World Physical,” The Helmsman warned “The Fourth Realm is coming,”
OK folks, that’s this part of the adventure done for the present. Now it’s time to consider the History Epic and more importantly just read what everyone else has been up to!