The Landing

 
The Landing

The crashing of thunder and the lurch of the waves assails your senses as the shoreboat plows through whitecaps towards the isolated beach on the southern edge of Ostorea. Rain pounds down on the handful of mercenaries, irregulars, and legitimate military personnel sharing the longboat with you but conversation is almost non-existent. Not that there is much to say over the creak of the oars as you pull yourself foot by excruciating foot towards the strip of sand which represents the first step of your mission.

With your back to the beach as you drag through the cresting waves, you can spy the vessel which carried you here, the caravel's three masts showing in startling relief against the dark grey skies, illuminated by the periodic peals of lightning which light up your vision. This ship has carried you from the mainland over several long weeks and now remains at anchor off the shore while you make landfall on one of the few stretches of beach which exist along the mostly craggy shores of Ostorea.

To the left and right, a handful of other landing vessels also surge through the waves, their desperate rowers digging deeply into surging surf. The floor of your wooden boat is rapidly filling with water, both from the driving rain which obscures your vision and frigidly soaks through your armor and clothes as well as the splashing waves which send curling plumes of water over you and your fellows.

Your quiet misery is interrupted by a large crack of impact and a short handful of desperate screams. To your right, you see one of your fellow shoreboats explodes in a shower of splintered timbers. Those riding inside let out exclamations of surprise and horror before their armored forms are swallowed in the surging ocean, the weight dragging them in an instant towards their certain death. What caused the boat to be suddenly destroyed isn't evident until another of them goes up similarly. Your eyes detect, barely, the blurred form of a ballista bolt cutting through the raindrops before impacting the tiny vessel with enough force that it is obliterated and sends another handful of souls screaming into the depths.

The next minute is horrifying as the attack becomes more clear. Through the rain and darkness you can barely make out the shore, let alone the source of the deadly bolts. Every few seconds another comes hurling from the island, either impacting the surf with a splash or demolishing another of the boats. Each hand yanks at the oars as if their very lives depend on it, for indeed they do.

Suddenly you hear the dragging crunch of sand under the hull of the boat as you surge up onto the beach. A quick look shows the beach itself is clear, the drenched sand standing empty of assailants as you leap out over the edge to relative safety of dry land. Another blur whistles past and claims one of the straggling shore boats just as a lightning strike lights up the deluged darkness, confirming your suspicion that the ballistae are set up on the sea wall rather than on the beach itself. Easily sixty feet of open beach stands before you and the craggy seawall: a vertical cliff ten feet up to more solid footing away from the sand of the beach.

It seems you are the first of the boats to make landfall. Perhaps the only one that will. The merciless rain falls like arrows, driving painfully through all protective layers in a storm more severe than any on the mainland. There seems to be only one direction to travel: forward, toward the seawall where the ballistae and your unseen assailants likely reside.

Urranian had never been scared of the ocean. Never before.

Father Oak, what a storm.... having seen extreme manifestations of the fury of the elements, Urranian had learned long before to accept them as inevitable. The mortals are so small compared to the indomitable forces of Nature that worrying or fighting is completely useless. Better to accept your place in the Eternal Circle of Life and live well.

When the first boat splintered into what could only be described as oversized matchsticks, Urranian initially thought that it had hit one of the many underwater reefs around the island of Ostorea... even in the violent storm, his piercing green eyes noticed quickly the ballist bolt hitting a second boat.
As soon as he realized that they were under attack, his lips curled over his teeth like a wolf's and his little heart started pumping adrenaline in his old body. Why are they attacking us? We are not here to fight!
Suddenly he realized that the safety of all the people on board of his vessel and potentially all the others' depended on his quick action. He opened briefly his mouth to rally the few capable adventurers he had met during the trip, but realizing the futility of the effort in such a storm he closed his mouth and decided to lead by example.

He quickly climbed on the back of his trusted companion, a silvered bear the size of a large human and pointed at the reef, screaming something in an unknown language. Xcas, his deep blue eyes showing an understanding beyond the one of any simple animal, jumped over the rail and started devouring the few feet between the coast and the seawall. When almost to it, the powerful bear reared and jumped to reach the top of the seawall where their invisible enemies awaited....


The crack of thunder near drowns out the crashing of the waves against the hull of the shoreboat; in the distance the ship that had brought them to this accursed island grew smaller in his vision with each dip of the oars.
Morcar gritted his teeth in anger, he didn't understand what he had done to warrant this backwater errand surly his recent exploits had caught the eire of some notable who was determined to send him to the furthest reaches of the empire. Why, he could not understand however.

A lashing of rain stung the young knight's face yet he remained stoically resilient to the elements which were determined to cause the landing party as much discomfort as possible. His visored helm at least offered some protection though his vision was very limited in the wet weather the rest of him however was completely soaked through.

He spent his time gazing at the strip of sand they were making for; a barren stretch of nothing really yet the emperor had decreed it necessary to send agents here. He paid little attention to his companions, the weather made it near impossible to communicate and Morcar had little to say for the moment.

Another crack of thunder nearly masked the explosion of one of the other longboats, if not for the sudden screams of the poor souls dragged under the waves.
Morcar had no idea what had caused the destruction of their companion vessel yet his alert gaze soon looked on, transfixed as another boat erupted into shards of wood sending more men to their deaths. He had almost missed it this time, almost but had just caught sight of the ballista bolt that tore into the hull of the boat. We are being attacked, Why?

A smile lit upon Morcar's face, concealed from others by his visor it seemed that this dreary mission looked to present some excitement after all.

Aching the shore drew nearer but not before another vessel exploded; it looked as though none of them would make it at this rate.

Calmly Morcar pulled his slung shield from off of his shoulder, strapping it to his left arm his entire body language bespoke confidence and calm. Inside however his guts were in knots, not from fear but from anticipation of combat and of the knowledge that it may soon be them slipping to the bottom of the ocean; the excitement of tempting death was upon him.

As best he could he gave what encouragement he could to those rowers near him, lifting his visor so they could see the calm look of his eyes and the confident smile on his scarred face. He couldn't move too much, most of the room was taken up by that damned halfling's pet bear.

The distance to the beach closed slowly, too slowly and every second that passed meant a bolt could soon strike their boat. Morcar looked up willing the oarsmen to increase speed, break their backs if they must.
Another bolt streaks out of the haze to smash into another longboat, a horrific action that meant that they were still safe he felt sorry for the poor bastards but more than happy that he still held on to life.

The dragging of the bottom of the boat signalled their arrival, yet not the end of their ordeal; bolts continued to fall from the sky. Morcar leaps ashore, following the halfling and his pet, shield held ready as he rushed forward, the only direction available to the poor wretches who survived the sea landing.

It was clear where the rain of death was coming from, the bear definitely had an idea as it surged toward the seawall. Morcar could only watch as the mounted halfling easily outdistanced him the plate he wore didn't allow speed so he moved as fast as he could, following his eager companions.



Solen frowns as he realizes a bolt has struck one of the other boats. His first instinct is to change into something that can swim, in order to rescue the men -- but he realizes he does not have sufficient spells to waste on that. He glances over at his new student, Alba. She would have enough prayers to consider changing into something to swim, to save the sinking men, should she so choose. As the rowing continues, he looks at the rain, considering trying to fly in this rain. He shakes his head. That won't work either; not for winged flight, and not at his strength, anyway. Before they get to the beach, he shouts, as loud as he can, toward the group. "Anyone who needs help climbing, tell me now! I can help you climb with a Prayer! Alba, I can't fly in this, I'm not strong enough with this rain! You might be able to, though, or you could save those drowning men! Remember the climbing form we practiced, the golden-skined mountain spirit folk, if you need it! Otherwise, remember the lizard combat forms! Especially the one that can swim!" He says, reminding her both of the climbing form they had practiced, and of the Tren, which is a form that functioned both as a combatant and a swimmer.

Counting the time between ballista shots, he realizes something else, too. "They might have multiple ballistae, or even polybolos - repeating ballista - up there! We need to take them out! Look for the structures or oiled tarps to keep the rain off of the machines!"

With that, --well before the wall-- he changes to his climbing form. His skin takes on a golden sheen, and his facial hair -- but not his normal hair -- un-grows. He offers to give his climbing prayer to anyone who mentions they need it; perhaps the Knight in the heavy armor? Otherwise, terrified at the prospect of combat, he casts several prayers on various folk...


Despite her best attempts to quell the feeling, Alba was absolutely terrified. She was not used to the confusion of this kind of fight; prone victims, attacked while at sea! She had not anticipated this. And in the middle of a storm, no less... She craned her neck, barely able to see past the rump of the bear in the boat. She could only clearly make out the sounds around her... The rain on her helm, pelting and soaking her in her new breastplate; the terrible, rushing sounds before the massive crunches, and the ensuing short screams of men in heavy armour as they sank faster than she could think. Death was everywhere, inevitable and wet. Lightning in the distance brought booming, rolling thunder, which coupled with the rain to make all other sounds difficult to distinguish. She squinted through the horrid conditions, and wished she hadn't. One of the companions seemed relaxed, even calm, despite the circumstances, which Alba found to be a bit disconcerting.

She felt a throb of energy pulse through her nervous system, sending goosebumps down her arms. It was a reminder of her innate power, a subtle signal from her God. She closed her eyes to the watery carnage and let the calmer waves well up inside her, until she felt her fear shift, making room for the will of Phelis inside her skin. Although it had not always felt natural to give up control in this way, she had been practicing for this journey in the lands around her city, discovering the voice of her God within the walls of her body, and serving his will with her limbs. Surely it was the will of Phelis that put us all on this boat. Perhaps, then, it is the will of Phelis that all on this boat survive... she mused, as she opened her eyes, noticed Soelen, her unexpected and impromptu tutor, shouting things at her. In a rush, the damp fear and the sound of wind and rain buffeted her again, as her consciousness surged to the fore to try and hear his words. She was about to ask him to repeat himself, when the boat struck land.

Immediately, the halfling on the back of his bear set off, careening towards the cliff face on the other side of the beach, with the calm man running after him. Soelen himself had cast his skin in the form of the mountain spirit folk, and she knew then that the plan was to climb. Alba adjusted her pack and weapon as mirror images of herself appeared around her, and she set off at a run behind her shipmates. With adrenaline and spell power fueling her sprint, she slipped her skin easily into the golden skin of the mountain spirit folk with the intention of climbing up the cliff face.


The group from Lodis gains the beach and immediately vaults out of the boat in order to confront their unseen attackers. Urranian's mounted form is the first to make the sea-wall, his powerful companion devouring the drenched sand in long loping strides. Powerful limbs scramble the pair up the pockmarked limestone, claws finding purchase in the eroded face even despite the slick surface.

The elevated shoreline is covered in scraggly bushes and thin grass. Though the darkness is nearly absolute, peals of lightning illuminate the group's assailants. Ahead, a pair of ballistae stands attended by four huddled forms wrapped against the fury of the storm. Once up, two missiles streak towards the mounted halfling from the gloom, mercifully from simple bows and not the massive warmachines which splintered the landing boats into nothingness.

Thankfully, neither manages to hit the halfling, aim and accuracy impeded by the fury of the storm.





The rest of the group makes various degrees of progress across the beach, Alba and Morcar making it to the base of the wall and preparing to climb while Solen's spellcasting has delayed his walking such that he only makes it partway to the relative shelter of the sea-wall's base.

Solen continues moving toward the wall, getting as far as he can, quickly climbing up it with his enhanced abilities from the spell. He grits his teeth; he has to get up there! He fumbles with his sling, getting it out as he moves into position.

When he gets up, he glances at the people near the ballista. Automatically, his mind begins calculating.

Humanoids, not Monstrous Humanoids. Standard Anatomy. Attack Arteries, Liver, Heart, Kidneys for immediate kills.






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