GLOBAL STORYLINE UPDATE: Part 4 - A Little Night Landing Jan 17, 2017 15:06:05 GMT -8 AK_Brickster, Sir Caedric Moore, and 7 more like this
Post by Sir Caelan Munro on Jan 17, 2017 15:06:05 GMT -8
NEW GLOBAL STORYLINE UPDATE, continued from Part 3: The Elephant in The Room
———————————- ~ A Path We Were Destined to Follow, Part 4: A Little Night Landing ~
Build by Ayrlego
Story by Sir Caelan Munro
The long boat heaved away from the Golden Vanguard and the rowers went at their work in the early morning dark as silently as they could. Even though they had not seen a light from a torch or fire anywhere on Fyrdraca the entire night, Prince Mark of Falworth was taking no chances, and the order for silence and light discipline was strict for everyone.
This made the landing even trickier amongst the occasionally rocky shore here on the southern peninsula of Fyrdraca, and the formidable Garhim sailor leading the landing, Hakon Ivarson, kept an anxious eye out on their course. Once the party had gotten half-way to shore, he gave a grizzled whisper over his shoulder, “Sounding!”
One of the sailors near him tossed a lead-and-line over the side and once it reached the bottom, pulled it back in. The seaman counted the knots and stated, “Eight fathoms.” He paused, but was immediately castigated by Ivarson.
“Keep that up you! All the way in.”
“Aye sir. …Seven fathoms.”
At the head of the boat was Mark of Falworth and Sir Thomas of Torith, with Goði Joran Holmstrom right behind them. Prince Mark had promised all involved that he would be the first to set foot ashore, and the last man into the last boat to leave, and he was set on doing exactly that, with the treasure safely on board the Vanguard as well.
After their crossing of the Great Western Ocean, the small Loreesi/Garhim fleet had sailed well to the south of the Great Western Isles to completely avoid New Lenfald, and had only started back up north when sure of being clear of Loreos’s own island, Ad Undas. Prince Mark even wanted to avoid his own people’s island for fear of his fame spreading and word getting out.
Surprise was everything on this mission.
So they had kept the men in the ships and only sent small parties into the Garhim port of Andarheim on Grimfell only for provisions, and to briefly meet with the Governor to ensure of his knowledge and cooperation. There they also had quietly recruited one of the braver local fisherman, Rolf Woles, who knew the area - somewhat. There was much fear of this wild coast amongst the Garhim locals. Rumors of was of horrible beasts roaming in southern Fyrdraca had kept them away. Their destination, the area of the ruins, was especially feared.
So Mark had kept Woles away from the men to keep the fisherman from spreading rumors amongst them. He had guided their approach to the coast and was here now in the boat as a matter of course. Mark glanced at him now. In spite of his fearless reputation, Rolf Woles was clearly nervous….
“Easy boys,” Ivarson whispered, “row slower now and lets scour this here beachhead for rocks as we come in. Nothin’ like a submerged ripper to get yer feet wet all sudden-like.”
They were getting close now, and the tree line was very clear even on this moonless night. The canopy however made the dark of the jungle underneath complete, and its oppressive nature was unsettling. As they drew near, the sounds of the night jungle could be heard over the waves.
Suddenly there came an eerie call out of the jungle to their left, and a second later another one answered from their right. The men, most of whom were not used to the tropic atmosphere of the Great Western Isles, were startled and stopped rowing. Some of them looked up at Falworth for direction on what to do.
Prince Mark glanced at Woles, who for some reason had just the opposite reaction than the mainlanders and was looking relieved. “Easy lads, it’s nothing to be worried about,” Mark guessed, looking at Woles.
Woles nodded encouragingly. “Howler monkeys,” the fisherman answered happily. “And if they’re muckin’ about, then nothin’ else is after them.” At least, right now, he thought to himself.
Mark nodded, looking at his men. “I bet I could punt a howler monkey across the Aines River with one kick,” he stated, calming them down with a laugh. “The Lenfels would think they just got a new family member.” The casual humor eased their minds, and they went back to rowing.
This was a sign of true leadership, Hakon Ivarson thought having observed the affair. He wasn’t much for foreigners, but this Falworth was not your average arrogant Desert Dandy. Maybe those elephants would be worth the trouble after all, he reconsidered.
“Remember lads to look in the water for any rocks,” Ivarson chided them, but he himself had happily seen nothing, an encouraging sign for the other transports, which would draw lower in the water.
When the seaman called one fathom deep, Mark prepared to leap over the side, and as they came to a sliding stop on the shore he jumped over and sank to his thighs in ocean. He trudged up the beach, motioning them to follow while he stared carefully into the dark of the jungle; nothing was there — that he could see anyway.
There was an early morning breeze crossing over him, and it made for a pleasant moment as he stood his ground with satisfaction. He had completed the first part of his promise — first to land.
And now to the second promise. He motioned out with both hands, and eight of his soldiers, hand-picked every one of them, disembarked and fanned out to defensive positions, four to each side. The rest of the boat’s crew also leapt out and pushed their landing craft up onto the shore.
Sir Thomas and Goði Holmstrom joined Falworth. The strange noises continued, a mixture of those monkeys, along with unseen insects and birds. Rolf Woles walked over to him also and whispered, “Happy noises indeed, sir.”
Mark nodded without looking at him and then moved both hands again, this time motioning forward. His eight men then infiltrated the jungle quietly in pairs to scout 100 meters ahead. Meanwhile Ivarson directed the remaining rowers, including Woles, to search the nearby shore for anything that could pose a problem for the landing. They eventually found a submerged rock 40 meters to the south and the burly Garhim had them mark it with one of their oars planted in the surf, vertical and easily visible.
After ten minutes the Loreesi scouts returned with an all clear report. Mark turned briefly to his lieutenant, “The signal if you please, Sir Thomas,” and the young man from Torith gave a cheerful smile and jogged off to the boat. Only a minute later their directional lantern, visible only by the fleet, snapped open and closed three times to start the main effort of the expedition’s landing…
An hour later with dawn’s first rays illuminating the fleet’s progress, the ramp of the Loreesi transport, la Orienteur, slapped down with a splash into the shallows and out stomped the first of Mark’s elephants, an impressive sight for all present.
“I think this is the first time our wonderful beasts have set foot in these isles,” Prince Mark commented as he waved at the mounted driver leading the animal up the beach. Behind the driver were four archers and spearmen in a reinforced basket, forming a mobile and elevated fighting position. The entire area was busy with troops lining up into formation and all kinds of other activity as well but every one of them scrambled to get out of the way of the massive bull elephant.
A little over a mile farther north from where they stood, the ruins of Fyrdraca were now lit with morning light and they caught Thomas' eye. Although barely visible, the structure was enigmatic and mysterious, an incredible vestige of pasts unknown. While gazing at the ruins, Thomas thought to himself that there could be more. And the need to find them could mean more expeditions...and that lead him to an idea. “After our success here today," he put forth to Mark, "we should leave these elephants in Ad Undas as a permanent presence in the Isles. Might come in handy someday.”
“Good thing I chose both male and females then,” Mark quipped, “otherwise there would be some unhappy beasties after a few months on Ad Undas!”
The two were chuckling on this when Goði Joran Holmstrom and his senior seaman strolled up. Falworth greeted them with a wide smile, “My dear Joran and Hakon, I would sail with you anywhere anytime! The entire landing has been superb!”
“Aye and thank ye sir but we have some news,” Ivarson pointed to several Garhim ships, one of which was a caravel, “The Walrus is signaling that they have spotted sails on the horizon. North; can’t see ‘em from here on the beach but they’re there alright. Big ship too.”
Prince Mark didn’t let this faze him. “Then we must meet them, cordially of course. Relay to the Walrus that if this ship continues its’ course south then she is to sail to intercept and escort them away, north hopefully.”
Ivarson nodded and was off quickly. Mark signaled for the Goði to remain however. “Joran, I want you to stay here on the beach in command as the rest of us go forward.” The Goði's face immediately fell and he began to protest but Falworth was ahead of him, “I know this is a change in plans, but with this ship in sight now I need your leadership here to ensure our lines of communication are not cut off.”
“It could be one of ours! Just a merchant making the trip round from north instead of south. Commodore Johansson has got the fleet so I can do little else, and Ivarson is the landing Master so…”
“My apologies Joran, but I have made up my mind. I need you to keep the door open for our return with treasure in hand. Just in case.” Mark grinned in a winning way.
Goði Holmstrom fumed. “I have come all this way to see the temple, and you plant me here like some beach weed!” He kicked a patch of ice plant, the common native flora of shores all over the Great Western Isles. “Blast it Mark, I wanted to see that wingless dragon with my own eyes!”
“And you will,” Mark agreed cheerfully, and added as if it was a small matter, “I’ll bring it’s head back for you!”
This comforted Holmstrom little as he watched Falworth and Thomas head off to take the lead of a long column of Loreesi and Garhim soldiers. But although disappointed, it did mean a lot to him personally that Prince Mark had enough confidence in his own leadership to leave him in charge of their recovery operation. “Good hunting my friends,” he finally called to them.
Prince Mark unsheathed his longsword and saluted him, “Honor to the brave!” With that they took the path through the dense jungle laid for them by the advanced units of the allied Loreesi-Garheim force.
Through the trees, hidden in the darkness of the shadows, two forms cautiously and quietly paralleled them. After a few minutes of this and having seen enough, Corporal Graeme Blair of the Island Scout Snipers turned to his cloaked companion and stated, "Keep up with them. I'm going on ahead to report that they have elephants."
————— Coming soon: A Path We Were Destined to Follow, Part 5! Things are about to get very interesting....