Open Chronicles Valor

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Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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His name was Sardrun Steelborn, and he was the sole survivor of the massacre at the Ungbarroud slave camp.

He was but a dwarven boy of eleven years.

And a detachment of the Arragoth Marines, assisted by adventurer auxiliaries, had come to bring him home.

* * * * *​

Herr Heike Eisen was one such auxiliary. She had journeyed to Belgrath, the great dwarven city (even so, in its diminished state), in an attempt to earn the favor of Reikhurst's old allies. She knew not what to expect, but she did not anticipate that such favor would be easily granted. For after all, she was but one woman, a knight of a decimated order from the ruined capital of a shattered kingdom, and it had been five long years since that very ruination. But if she could show the Council of Belgrath that there was hope yet for the Kingdom of Reikhurst, that she was willing to give of herself to aid with whatever ailed the dwarven stronghold, perhaps she could reforge that old trust, and thus gain an ally in the upcoming battle against the Slaughtern Vampire Host.

As it turned out, her arrival was timely.

A general call had been put out in the City Center of Belgrath, a call for diverse adventurers and fighters that had been going on for weeks. Though Belgrath, with a Portal Stone located within the city itself, was a hub for travelers going east and west through the Spine, not many had answered this general call. The nature of the task was a perilous one indeed.

The Arragoth Marines were going to delve into the Blightlands, into territory under the brutal control of Molthal and its teeming hordes of Blight Orcs, to liberate the slaves of a camp named "Ungbarroud." The Blight Orcs had recently sacked a dwarven hold in the far eastern mountains of the Spine, taking any dwarves that they did not slaughter outright there to Ungbarroud. Among those captured was Sardrun Steelborn, nephew to a venerable and respected Councildwarf of the esteemed Steelborn Clan. Nearly all of Belgrath was incensed by this transgression by Molthal, and thus the mission was born. The plan was straightforward: use the Belgrath Stone to teleport (in waves) the raiding force of Marines and adventurers to the Ixchel North Stone, hurry north to the fork in the Drawa River whereupon the Ungbarroud camp was to be found, liberate the slaves, and retreat back to the Ixchel Stone before they were overwhelmed.

Upon learning of this mission, Heike Eisen volunteered immediately.

* * * * *​

The journey to Ungbarroud had gone well. The first battle of the mission, fought there, had not.

The Blight Orcs occupying the slave camp had proven to be extraordinarily vicious and cunning. Though outnumbered by the hundred-strong force of Marines and the thirty-strong force of auxiliary adventurers, they held the gates and harried attempts to scale the wall. This, as they were sensing inevitably defeat, to buy time for their fellow Orcs to begin systematically butchering all of the slaves in the camp. And, at the same time, a small and covert flanking force had gone round and killed scores of the Marines' and adventurers' mounts--which would cripple the upcoming retreat to the Ixchel Stone.

The Marines and adventurers prevailed without a single casualty, despite the Orcs' tenacious defense and flanking maneuver. Inside the camp, they found the piles of corpses, all those dwarves taken from the fallen hold and hauled off here to Ungbarroud. Then, underneath one odd pile, Captain Grunni Ironhammer himself found Sardrun. All of the other dwarves near the boy, his fellow compatriots of the fallen hold, had shielded him from the Orcs' butchery by throwing themselves on top of him, protecting him as they themselves were hacked to pieces. The boy was covered in blood and white with shock.

But it was time to go. They hadn't a moment to lose.

Hordes of Orcs, seeking glory and spoils and the favor of Menalus, were converging on the retreating Marines and adventurers as soon as they heard.

Days after the raid on Ungbarroud, the foremost of these hordes has caught up with them.

* * * * *

THE SECOND BATTLE


"ARRRRRRAAAAAAGOOOOTH!" Captain Grunni shouted. "FOR-MA-TION!"

Heike watched as the dwarven Marines organized themselves in disciplined fashion into their ranks, filling up the descending draw from wall to wall. These walls were sharp ridges, practically cliffs, that were impassable terrain lest the Orcs had some kind of magic in their arsenal. Thus the draw would act as a funnel, limiting their numbers that they could have in battle at once, this advantage outweighing the minor bit of high ground enjoyed by the oncoming Orcs as they descended into the valley. And they were out of time regardless--this was as good as it was going to get.

Sardrun, at the back of the formation with Heike, said with a frail tone and glassed eyes, "They're going to take me back..."

Heike knelt. Placed her armored hands on the dwarven boy's shoulders. Said firmly, "They shall not. Do you hear me, Sardrun? They shall not. We're not, I'm not--"

Ella. Her failure to the orphan girl. And a pang of guilt. Shame.

"--going to let anything happen to you."

Sardrun just looked at her. His lips trembling as the distant howls and battlecries of the rapidly approaching Orcs could be heard, the rising dust of their rumbling advance like the smokestack of some baleful fire. Heike's face was hard set with determination, but it did little to assuage the boy's trepidation. And so Heike stood, amidst the other adventurers at the back of the Marines' formation.

Victory. Victory would assuage his fear.

And in that victory as well, perhaps a measure of redemption for herself, for a failure of her past.


Experimenting with starting a thread in medias res, past the usual meet and greet. Feel free to assume a basic level of familiarization with your character, my character, and others that are part of the auxiliaries.
 

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest

Paladin of Sol'nityr
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As the dwarves took up formation he was easy to spot, he towered among his fellow adventures, his size rivaling that of the orc they were about to face. The sword on his back massive, he watched and smiled to Heike, she comforted the boy. This was a sweet gesture, even if she did not quiet fully believe it herself.

he reached behind himself freeing the blade which was about a foot thick and from tip to tang would have measured about six feet. He looked to his companions. The Paladin said a silent prayer and then he addressed the company.

"The All Father is watching, he is with us! He will not allow the light to fail.
This is but another futile attempt by the pretenders that call themselves the dark gods to make a foot hold. We shall not give them the chance to do so! The one true God is on our side, we will not break, we will not falter, we will send their sparks to The All Father so that they may finally know peace in his light.

he readied himself both hand on his sword, he took his stance and waited for what was to come. He did not choose this mission, it had chosen him. He would show these orcs the power of the God of Light.
 
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Kiros Rahnel

Pneria's Prophet
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It was his first trip to Belgrath. The only thing that he desired from the city was its portal stone, so he could remove himself from the snow-blighted mountains that was the Spine. His divinely mandated task was complete, and he was eager to return to places more hospitable. But as he ventured through the city's centre, he heard the call for aid. The request had initially been paid little mind. Much as he might need coin, he was no mercenary. Not anymore, at least. But on learning that the task was one of rescue, Kiros gave pause. Much as he’d prefer to simply depart from this place, one of those whom they sought to rescue was of such young age; enough to imply that these prisoners must be villagers and citizens. A noble enough task, then. Of some further relief that the mission bypassed the frozen mountains on the city's exterior entirely; he was grateful to be done with the cold.

He arrived in his priest’s robes, with the holy symbol that was magical focus tucked away discreetly in a pouch at his hip. He was hopeful, but ultimately unceartain if knowledge of Itra’s recent actions would be less widespread here; such seemed to be the case, to his relief. Though not clearly recognizable himself, the sudden interest had been awfully unnerving and the risk still remained. To be so identified was the last thing he needed; they might then hold hope for direct divine aid. As he had learned in Alliria, it would be for the best not to even request such of Her. Placing their existence into the realm of public knowledge was Her doing, but the issues caused remained his to handle. That much was made clear. Best to leave Her out of it then and avoid the headache involved; both metaphorical and literal.

He listened on to the given plan once he had the opportunity to hear it. The goals were far more organized and clear cut than expected. Belgrath knew exactly what they wished to accomplish, complete with both plan and objective. It bid a healthy amount of confidence; another welcome turn from the disorganized hodgepodge of adventurers – of which he was really no different.

That snow-free journey itself would turn out to be the last of his good fortune on this task.

* * *​

Gruelling as the battle had been, they had at least avoided suffering any casualties. The outcome was a situation far better than that of those they set out to rescue. Once they finally made it beyond those walls, all that awaited was a grisly scene of slaughter. Butchered bodies were strewn about everywhere, and beneath one pile was the young boy they set out to save – alive, but severely shaken. The only survivor, dolefully.

With no other living prisoners to take, they had departed back towards their steeds with the young dwarf in tow. Yet another scene of blood and death awaited them there as well. The lifeless bodies of their horses were all that was found, forcing their return trip to be undergone by foot instead of steed. The already treacherous journey would now be even more so; journeying off horseback would open them up to pursuit. Given the savage determination he had just witnessed for the sole evident purpose of slaughtering slaves - such an attack appeared to be inevitable.

Some days into the return trip, this fret was confirmed.

Dwarven warriors moved about with urgency and discipline; their organization was truly impressive. In what seemed like no time at all, a defensive position was formed ahead of them; one he hoped would hold well. As they formed up, he heard a blonde haired woman speaking words of comfort out of the corner of his ear, directed to the young dwarven boy. Turning his head to give a glance along with Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest, they saw Heike do her best to console the poor traumatized lad. A depressing sight that served as reminder of the need for victory here today.

The paladin then spoke of and offered further inspiration. Upon first hearing of his deity at the mission's start, Kiros was gravely concerned. It sounded a bit like 'War-Father'; an entity Kiros knew and was rightfully wary of, but to his relief such was not the case. Gil'Tyrnin was a follower of the All-Father, whom the paladin followed with appropriate devoutness. Yet Kiros' brow gave a twitch as he spoke of the deity being the lone true god. Sacrilege; but it was neither the time nor place to protest such a notion.

As the orcish hordes closed in, he stood at the ready with Heike and his fellow adventurers behind the lines of dwarven warriors. So many had given their lives to preserve that of the child; may the lives of their foes be taken then, to fulfill the very same purpose.
 
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Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

The Broken Sword
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Erën, as any and all from Aeraesar, was a friend to the dwarves. This friendship was one born of bonds from ages past. While with so much time gone, not all dwarves remembered the old ties of trial, and yea, neither did all elves. But in times like these, even enemies could be made friends.

His last visit to Belgrath had been to find Filn Stenlegger, and commission his aid in Sharyrdaes. That was some time ago now. His being there this time was merely by chance, as he was heading west and was in search of little more than a place to stay for a short time.

But friends of old had called for aid, and he was of course bound to answer.



"ARRRRRRAAAAAAGOOOOTH!" Captain Grunni shouted. "FOR-MA-TION!"
As the dwarves took up position, Erën too readied himself for the fight. As he drew his swords, Gil'Tyrnin caught his attention, shouting some encouraging words and referencing his All Father. Erën on the other hand trusted in his own strength, at least for the most part, but truth be told had never failed in his show of fealty toward Nykios and even ask for his aid in times of great trouble. It had gotten him this far, and he felt it would get him as far as he needed.

With a hood over his head, his eyes peered out from beneath to witness first the giant elf's rallying call, and then departing to look onto the coming wave. Molthal's minions. His lip stiffened as they approached, his heart quickened, and he felt almost excited to rid Arethil of these ravaging and spiteful creatures.

No.

He was excited. With the loss of the collective, his thirst for battle had grown to fill the gap. And it had grown even more yet again it seemed, but at least it was directed at those worthy of such rage.

With the boy comforted, Heike had stood and come to stand with them. He cast a glance toward her. She was different than he remembered, but he had fought alongside her, and with the gifts of his people's telepathy he could remember her frequency well. She'd put herself in a very precarious place, and fought alongside he and others where he or they could have very easily slain her. They did not, and upon seeing her now he was glad. He offered a strong and approving nod, but, as it was since the beginning of this trip, he said nothing to her. He didn't feel he needed to.


 

Dal

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The roaring of the orcish hoarde was like an earthquake. An earthquake which did not cause the warrior known as Dal to tremble or quail in fear, for he understood deep in his marrow all the portents and emotions that this sound did bring. He felt irresistibly nostalgic from it, try as he might to find contempt for this impending greenskin force, he felt as if his past was echoing and rippling out in front of him. The half orc knew this droning tone of countless orcs declaring their intent, their existence, their prowess. It filled the air with a density of prospective impulsive violence that Dal knew from his childhood of being raised by orcs, when he had taken part in raids as was tradition for youths. To prove himself in such days he had made such sounds in the roaming riot that was the orcish formation. It was a sound he had associated with impending victory at one time, before he had rejected the manner of violence the greenskin took. Violence that relied on the fury. Martial prowess that required the muscle and the power of anger to win the day. A comradery that demanded brutality in order to propagate and sustain itself. This sound meant that those who were part of that chorus would not be broken, that there were ten to replace each fallen, that there was a bloodlust that could not be slaked nor a peace that could be stomached. There would be unending violence, a crushing weight of bodies and a certainty that the mighty would crush the weak.

Now the sound filled him with a sense that his past had come full circle, and he grimly smiled at the irony of it all. Side by side with dwarves, all in the end for one single dwarven youth.

Dal gave a small cathartic sigh from beneath his armour at the thought of the innocent they were in the efforts of saving. His helmet was clasped firmly about his frame for Dal had sense that the dwarves might not discern auxiliary from foe when they had orcish blood within them. He had taken other precautions than just to conceal his features. Upon his back was a blue banner with a dwarven symbol of an axe and hammer crossed against a bearded armoured face. He knew it made him something of a target towards the orc. But it might save his life should the confusion rule, should a dwarf sense the orc within him and try to crush his plate mail. And as Dal looked around him at the dwarves and auxiliaries gathered, he grimly looked forward to the greenskins singling him out. Let them come, Dal thought, I am prepared for to return their fury with cold steel.

Dal's longsword was already within his mailed glove and the weapon gleamed with a menace that satisfied the warrior. He held it aloft and looked upon the fresh rune that was cast upon that steel at the crossguard. With this mark, he thought, I shall survive and win against those who would launch themselves against me.

It was a rune that he had much deliberation about before getting it carved upon his primary weapon, but now it was there it brandished him a traitor to his own kind. While any half orc walked a fine line between the humanoid and orc within them, here Dal was spiting his orcish heritage in one firm declaration with such a rune upon his blade. The dwarven mark was carved in such that it gave the edges of his weapon further assistance in the cleaving and cutting of the orcish people. He had already tested it to much grim pleasure in the engagements previous on this mission. Dal looked upon the rune for a moment as the din of the orcs seemed like a turbulent ocean crashing against the shore to him. There was some sick satisfaction in the weapon he wielded now, how it drove onward with unerring pressure when a cut was made against an orc, how it marked him as a defiant to the people who raised him. Our careers are defined by audacious moves, Dal thought to himself, and this was perhaps one of the more audacious moves that I have taken unto myself. Being here. Fighting so many for so few. Striving against the hoarde with a group of dwarves and some auxiliaries.

What better way to ensure that others knew that you were not like the beserking orc than to save the innocent dwarf Dal thought to himself. To offer retribution in what manner one could for the slaughter of the slaves. After this successful mission, there would be no questioning his loyalty and aptitude Dal concluded. No more sneers, no more second glances, no more tarnishing of his warrior skills just because he carried the tint of greenskin blood within him. He would make his loyalties known. That he wasn't just some half breed who wished they were a full bloodied orc and able to summon all the rage and strength that the species mustered on the field today in such numbers. No. There was contempt within his heart for what the orcs had done so savagely to the dwarven slaves. If there had been any respect for this tribe, it had been smudged out by the sight of the butchery that had befallen the slaves. The rune upon the sword gleamed with a faint blue light as if ignited by his thought. Good, Dal thought, you resound still, you sense the army before us, what task I must fulfil to get out of here. To kill, and kill again and again until the day is carried.

Dal breathed deep and smiled. He rolled his armoured shoulders and felt the satisfying sensation of his frame embracing the armour which had saved his life countless times. He moved not as a hulk of muscle but of one with finesse and poise with such well interlocking plate. He heard the sound of his fellows being commanded and readied himself for the next surge of movement.

"ARRRRRRAAAAAAGOOOOTH!" Captain Grunni shouted. "FOR-MA-TION!"

It was time. Dal stepped forward to the other auxiliaries, blade in hand, mind upon the task, heart secure in the knowledge that there would be much blood spilled this day. He heard a prayer being uttered to muster courage from one of the paladins and his efforts to spite the overwhelming power of the orcish roar and listened for what it was worth. These paladins always had a strange way of currying favour with their Gods Dal thought.

“The All Father is watching, he is with us! He will not allow the light to fail. This is but another futile attempt by the pretenders that call themselves the dark gods to make a foot hold. We shall not give them the chance to do so! The one true God is on our side, we will not break, we will not falter, we will send their sparks to The All Father so that they may finally know peace in his light.”

Dal sneered within his helmet and found the words cloying. The god of light indeed. May the faithful find what boons suit them. May it help them, Dal thought, but don't bring me into such dedications. Dal's faith in the divine was fleeting but he had his own habits before the more pressing of combat. He offered his own prayer beneath his breath, one that he had made many times before when the intensity of combat was soon upon him. As he spoke to himself and whatever listened in such times, he gripped his longsword within his hand and felt the satisfying weight of the pommel guiding his edge as he held it aloft.

“To the God of Death I do pledge a thousand cuts,” Dal uttered in a low calm tone to himself quietly, “give me this day so that I may kill and kill again. Smile upon me, and I shall be your instrument of death in more battles to come. Give me this day. Let my violence be controlled and endlessly true, let the fury of my enemies be retorted with precision, let me spite the day with my mettle.”

Satisfied with his own offering, Dal took up position near Heike Eisen. Dal respected the knight implicitly from their previous ventures and had no desire to see her overwhelmed. This one was too good a knight to lose to the teeming mass of bodies that would pile down upon us Dal thought.

He placed his longsword upon his shoulder and endeavoured to cut down those who harried her. He took position to her left so that her flank and rear would not be exposed to the onslaughting enemies. The others here could deal with whatever came. Dal knew that his plan to look out for Heike's back might be thrown aside in the chaos, but for the opening of this engagement, he strived to ensure she had room enough to operate without being overwhelmed by endless bodies that would crash down upon them.

“Come face your end then,” Dal breathed to himself as he looked upon the vast numbers of orcs that would soon be upon them. His banner fluttered for a moment, and the gleam of his steel shone true. It would soon be time to kill and kill again.
 
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Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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Heike stood and turned from Sardrun and slid her helm onto her head. It was all that she could do to leave him at the back ranks along with the few pack mules that had escaped the slaughter of the animals at Ungbarroud and with those adventurer auxiliaries who would stay behind the Marines. So long as they didn't allow the orcs to break through the formation, so long as they broke them, Sardrun would live another day. They had to prevail.

Of the thirty-odd auxiliaries, Heike knew or had gotten to know several of them.

Gil'Tyrnin--or Gil as the Marines would call him, as they each took turns making guesses as to how long he had lived for--had about him a capacity for faith that manifested itself in tangible power. He was a paladin, an actual one, of which Heike had read about and had at times when she was younger and a newly ordained knight wondered if she, too, had the capacity to become. His particular faith she was unfamiliar with, but he believed in it with a zeal that was--now that they were facing down these oncoming, wretched Blightlands Orcs--quite heartening.

And on the matter of faith, there was also Kiros. A priest, whom the Marines--a hard lot with their feet firmly planted in the mud of Arethil without much serious thought of the sky--would on occasion jokingly beseech to send some inane message off to whichever god or goddess came to mind. Now however, following Gil's proclamation, a few of the Marines in the back ranks of the formation did so cast glances back to Gil and as well to Kiros, welcoming any divine invocations. Heike was with the majority of the Marines though, reserved on the idea of gods or goddesses coming to their rescue, but the faith underneath? The ironclad belief that they would see victory? That she could get behind. A cordial and intelligent man with a proficiency for powerful magic, Heike noted that she would need to speak with him before the battle was joined.

Erën'thiel. So this was...awkward, to say the least. She had fought with him before--briefly--in the town of Gorinsbin back when she was just the same as the very foes which so plagued Gorinsbin itself: a vampire. Normally she would have been thrilled to speak of curing herself of vampirism to those who knew she had once been one, but...there were so many around who didn't know that about her. It would be, to put it forthrightly, embarrassing if word got out (she could only imagine the nicknames the Marines would come up for her). Erën seemed to recognize her, maybe, she wasn't sure. Perhaps there would come a quiet moment where things could confidentially be sorted out.

And if such a moment came, Dal ought to be there. They had met and fought together during the Crisis of the Portal Stones, and she respected him greatly for his valor and for his sense of duty. If she was somehow imbued with the power to do so, she would have gladly made him an honorary Knight of the Golden Blade, and would have been proud to call him a fellow Reikhurstan if he so accepted. Her Oath of Truth had not yet necessitated a reveal of her prior affliction to him, and she had been on the verge of telling him before before staying her tongue, but...it was only right that he know, especially after trusting her as well.

As the Marines were preparing their ranged weaponry, Heike went to Kiros and placed a hand on his arm. Said, "I do not know how much magic you've at your command, Kiros, but, I implore you, reserve some for the protection of Sardrun. Keep a vigilant eye upon him. Will you do this?"

She was loath, loath, to see Sardrun share Ella's fate.

Heike awaited for what time she could for Kiros's answer, and then went to take up position at the left side of the Marines' formation. Dal followed, and she was glad to have him at her side once again.

Captain Grunni, leading his dwarves front and center, held his own repeating crossbow in hand and called out, "ARRAGOTH!"

A hundred replies, "AYE!"

Captain Grunni stomped his foot. "WHOSE GROUND?"

The thunder of a hundred stomps in reply, "OUR GROUND!"

"WHOSE GROUND?"

"OUR GROUND!"

"WHOSE GROUND??"

"OUR GROUND!!"

Captain Grunni stomped his foot once again. "WHO'S DEAD?"

And again the thunderous reply of a hundred armored dwarven feet, "THEY'RE DEAD!"

"WHO'S DEAD?"

"THEY'RE DEAD!"

"WHO'S DEAD??"

"THEY'RE DEAD!! AYE!!"

Fast and unrelenting, Captain Grunni's command, "Arragoth, front ranks aim near, back ranks aim far. Make ready! Aim! LOOSE!"

The Blight Orcs were just beginning to funnel into the draw, charging cliff wall to cliff wall down its gentle grade, eyes wide and maddened with bloodlust and thoughts only of hatred or the glory to be claimed, weapons held high as if in savage veneration, legs pumping ferociously as they ran and their salivating mouths like bottomless maws from which came their ceaseless and feral cries of war.

The Marines got off three volleys of crossbow fire, wounding many and felling many, and these Orcs were pushed aside or trampled and eventually disappeared beneath the disturbed dust and mass of oncoming bodies. The Marines shouldered their compact crossbows, took up their shields, readied their axes, and prepared to receive the charge from their taller foes.

Heike drew her longsword and took up a Middle guard stance. And to Dal she said, "There is no more rightful place for us to be than here."

Here. In this moment. Defending the sole survivor of Ungbarroud from an unjust and grisly fate.

Seconds later, the Orcs crashed into the front line of the Marines, crashed into Heike and Dal and any others who had taken up position there.

It was going be a fierce, claustrophobic battle.

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest Kiros Rahnel Eren'thiel Xyrdithas Dal
 

Dal

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Dal heard the chant of the dwarves concerning the ground. A traitorous thought crept into Dal's mind, a retort to such a chant, a retort that emerged from his upbringing of hearing such defiance during a siege he had taken part in some years ago. You can still own the ground you rot in, Dal thought bitterly, and then swiftly discarded it immediately and forcefully. No. This is our ground here, and I share in this battle with the dwarf. This is my battle to share with them.

This was the first mission Dal had ever fought beside the dwarves, their tenacity impressed him more now that he was comrades with them than ever he did experience fighting them as a youth. How times had changed. And changed me, Dal thought as he looked upon the rune which glowed a bright blue now that the orc was soon upon them. It was as if it resonated from the sound of the dwarven defiance. Perhaps it worked in such a way, Dal thought, and settled his mind to thinking of the violence to come. His eyes darted to see which figure would greet him on the field first. This would not be a polite column of knights to fight, ones interested in martial prowess and honourable victory, this would be a fight of masses of bodies wanting nothing more than to crush and murder in whatever fashion was available to them.

Dal's tactical mind was assured by the use of ranged weapons against the teeming masses that threatened them so. So far this dwarven force hasn't made a single misstep in how they have conducted themselves Dal considered. Dal had no thoughts of admonishing any of the dwarves for their performance and discipline, it was refreshing in comparison to some of the more human companies he had worked with. There was no need to flog, there was no signs of cowardice, there was not a hint of hesitance to kill, there was order, there was unity. A firmly ingrained hatred of the greenskin was within the dwarves for their very existence, let alone the atrocities they had committed towards the slaves. The sound of quarrels being loaded and discharged in quick succession from dwarven hands was deeply satisfying to Dal as he awaited his moment to deliver the first sword stroke of the day.

A rush of bodies, the sound of violence, and then it came all at once. The sight of it was magnificent to Dal, even in these moments before he himself would receiving such an attack, he couldn't help but feel excited. To be lost in the surge of sentiment as violence spilled over into itself. Dal grimaced and resisted falling into the orcish trap of battle lust. This was to be a cold affair, this was to be violence without end, a longsword wielded properly could outmatch the savage with deftness and precision Dal knew, this was no time to raise one's voice and cleave wildly, as if this was some kind of game.

The warriors came down almost as if it were a wave of green water upon the rock of dwarves, all spilling forward, driven by each one behind, weapons drawn and raised, muscle pounding against the ground to kill, kill, kill.

The first orc that managed to get through was hulking and had a vast axe within it's paws. Another was soon behind it, but Dal focused on the first's approach as he brought his longsword to his shoulder and coiled his own attack. The orc had hide armour upon his person, a stark contrast to the shining plate that Dal had acquired for himself through hard work and good pay. The axe was swung wildly about in the air once, twice now accompanied by a roar from a teeth filled maw that did not phase Dal in the slightest. The third swing spiralled down as one might try to chop a log in two in one herculean blow, Dal sprang forward with an advancing step and brought his own longsword across the beast's exposed neck in a smooth cut that was driven onwards by the activated dwarven rune.

Dal's sword stroke cut the neck of his first foe three quarters of the way through and sharply cut the bicep of the orc's right arm as Dal moved to follow the attack with his body, his feet guiding him true and with well practiced motion to the left to avoid such an overpowered overhead strike. His opponent delivered his own weapon with all the force that he had been swinging the weapon into the ground where Dal had originally stood, and keeled over the weapon as blood poured in great pumps from the neck wound.

In this same motion Dal brought his weapon to his left hand side to adopt the reverse iron door stance, where the blade would be held to one side to be swung like a door upon a hinge, as he saw another orc with a vast broadsword swing across where he now found himself. Dal swung his own sword upon the axis using the defensive posture of the iron door to full effect and deflected the broadsword's motion and as the orc's eyes became confused with the deflection, Dal delivered a pommel strike using the broadswords force to drive the weapon home. The pommel crunched powerfully into the orc's nose, yet Dal was not done. His longsword was within his right hand, and from his left he drew his rondel and drove it deep into the orc's eye and pierced the creature's brain in one shocking movement. It died instantly, his hands still gripping the broadsword which collapsed into the ground without the beast of muscle to command it.

The rondel was replaced and Dal's eyes looked to the next foe who barrelled towards him. Shorter than the previous two, this one shoulder barged into Dal and almost swept him off his feet. Dal pivoted upon his heel as to avoid the movement, and brought his weapon down across the orc's back. It created a violent crescent across the greenskin's unarmoured back, and Dal had no qualms about following it up with another in the opposite direction, this time cleaving deeper and more fatally into the creature's back as the orc collapsed into the ground from the effort.

Dal wheeled and looked around him for a moment for his next opponent, the will to kill driving him on to fight and fight again. He adopted the boar's tooth stance, bringing the longsword to his right hip and pointing the tip of his weapon upwards as he assessed the fighting around him. His eyes locked with another orc who charged him and leapt into the air to bring him down. Dal could see that the two axes that were already slick with blood were poised to cut downwards against him. Dal's hands already knew what bold action would carry the day. This motion had been well rehearsed and drilled so that the sword could be delivered true, countless days and weeks of performing this action alone in training fields so that in just such a time, he would win. Dal twisted his hand and extended his arm so that the weapon exploded forward from his right hand extension so that the point of the weapon pierced the orc's neck. The dwarven rune gave further efficiency to this, not that it was needed with the orc being in flight. The orc slid down five inches down upon the blade, almost decapitating himself in his own propulsion. The death visage of the orc was one snarling in anger, his axes hanging limply by his sides now.

Good, Dal thought, and took both hands to wrench the weapon free. A banging sound of steel against wood was Dal's next concern as he ripped the blade out from the orc's neck to meet the next challenger. Endless bodies were moving around him, yet still Dal remain calm. His body did not ache, he was invigorated by such movements. He breathed deep from within his helmet and saw the source of the sound. An orc was goading him as it banged a sword against the boss of the shield. Dal took a moment and corrected his footing for the next motion that would be required.

Dal stepped to the left in a quick advancing step and brought his weapon to his left shoulder as he did so. The orc barely had time to respond, so consumed by the bashing of his shield. The orc was not expecting such a quick movement from one plated so, from one so tall as he. A typical failing of the orc was to Dal's advantage as he moved, and Dal brought his own longsword powerfully down to decapitate the shielded orc. He felt his sword bite into wood, but it was too little too late for the orc. The shield had only blocked the sword after it had performed the cut to the head. The rune had carried him true, and the blood fountained from the now corpse that collapsed in a pathetic display. Dal dislodged the weapon from the wooden shield that did not even have a steel rim to it, so savagely was this host equipped Dal thought as he looked around him. He spotted three orcs with spears that were running towards Heike, some distance away still, yet enough to be a threat to one occupied with their own engagements.

Dal propelled himself forward with powerful footfalls and brought the longsword from behind him in a long rising stroke that caught the spears half way. The spears went upwards as the orcs could not correct themselves, they were running with such vigour that they did not expect nor see the half orc's introduction. As the spears were held aloft in the air from the force that Dal had delivered with his longsword, Dal cut across him to bring all three down. Only two were felled in such a stroke, their torsos coming clean off from the power of the rune within the blade. Normally Dal would not be able to accomplish such a feat with his longsword, it was a weapon of precision, not one that could cleave so effectively. But the dwarves had bestowed him something deadly with the mark and Dal was only now appreciating the full power at his disposal. Dal made sure his next stroke came down viciously on the last. It ended the threat justly and another dismembered corpse was before the warrior.

Dal was ejected forward from the force of a hammer against his back. His armour held true, and Dal trod over the bodies he had just created to regain balance. A dull ache emanated from his back, and as Dal turned he was greeted by an orc with a pair of hand hammers. Did this one grab them from the forge of their workshop, Dal thought as he gritted his teeth at the pain that had just been delivered. Dal moved his shoulder to feel if there was still motion to it, and thankfully his movement had not been impaired. Good. I can still cut this one down.

Dal delivered a flurry of blows that at first the orc parried with his own hammers. But the ferocity that was now brought on from the experience of being struck for the first time in this engagement brought Dal to victory over his foe. Dal delivered four deep cuts to the orc who breathed out a heavy grunt before expiring, his efforts to bring down Dal in vain in comparison to the rage that Dal had just tapped into.

Control yourself, Dal admonished himself and exhaled a hot breath of air. Control, carry the day this way. Fury doesn't last long and it's exhausting. Keep calm.

Dal looked to Heike and the others to see if there was aid required for his allies. Dal knew that this would be a matter of endurance, that he should not overexert himself so early in the day. Still, Dal felt great to be victorious over the ones he had slain so far. The brutes moved too slow to match Dal's quick well practiced movements, their muscles drove powerful strikes that could be parried with mechanical advantage and knightly technique. He felt the thrill of combat in his bones and he smiled a toothy grin as he observed his allies carving their own path. Then he was back into the fray, his longsword swinging true, his armour holding fast, his prayer holding true for now.
 

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest

Paladin of Sol'nityr
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As the first wave smashed against the shield wall his massive sword which even with his reach just cleared the walls of the breach in which they held. His strength was apparent immediately, his gigantic blade sliced horizontally through the first line of attackers. He cleaved eight orcs in one fierce blow. However the dis advantages of such a large weapon became immediately apparent. As he readied his next swing pushing back against the momentum of his previous blow, there was a pause, this slight pause allowed orcs to slip past. He trusted those at his back, he knew them all to be capable. He was at the front, this is where The All Father, the God of Light Sol'Nityr would want him to be.

As the waves continued to crash against the unrelenting dwarves he saw to his right that the shield wall had broken the orcs moved in to cut down the dwarves on either side of the break attempting to make the breach bigger. Gil, as many who knew him had called him, moved rapidly along the line grabbing the massive tower shields the dwarves were using to hold the unending horde back. One of the orcs with his large axe saw him barreling towards the gap and had begin to charge at him roaring. Gil only smiled increasing his pace. The bulwark he had picked up smashed dead on into the orc, he wielded his massive sword, the orc dazed by the sudden impact of the shield had no chance, the blade cleaved him in half just above the hip. There were two more that had turned their attention to him giving a short reprieve to the staunch defenders. Using this moment he pushed forward to them trying to fill the gap. One went to the left of him, one to the right. They slowly moved to either side of him, he knew what was coming. Their movements were so obvious, they would both attack at the same time. The one to his left leaped up coming down at him with a crude serrated two handed blade. The other came charging in roaring with two axes.

In battle, he was at peace, his faith in The All Father was absolute. He knew that if he had died here today, he would be welcomed with open arms into the heavens by the Sol'Nityr himself, he did not fear death. Why should he, he had been in more dire situations before and The All Father had seen him through, and if this be the place that his lord would call his spark home, he could not think of better company to meet Sol'Nityr with.

He pivoted knocking the two handed blade of the orc into the dirt with the towering shield, his sword followed, the poor orc to his right tried to block the blade with his axes, but it was too late. The blade smashed against the axes and pushed them into their wielder, the poorly kept wooden shafts splintering as the blade cleaved through the body of the orc due to the sheer weight of the sword. It's advantages also making themselves apparent, it continued it's trajectory and took the head of the other orc clean off, it was then he noticed the bodies layed so skillfully into the dirt by Dal. He was proud to fight beside such a warrior. As he saw Dal surveying the battle field looking to aid any in distress he saw it, an orc had leaped into the air behind Dal, with out hesitation he dropped his sword, it sank heavily into the dirt behind him a disk of light appeared, he reached back into it. He pulled from it a spear of pure light. He continued the momentum and took a few steps and flung the spear, its aim was true it caught the orc squarely in the chest where it's heart would be, the weapon of light burned its heart as it made contact. When the spear hit the ground it stayed for a moment before vanishing almost as quickly as it had been summoned.

He nodded to Dal before quickly picking up his blade and rushing back to the hole in the shield wall. He slammed the massive shield into the dirt anchoring it. He put his massive blade into it sheath behind him and pulled his long sword from his hip. The waves continued to crash more fervently so now that the smell of blood had forced the blood lust of the orcs to set in. He pushed with all of his might to help hold this portion of the wall. He stabbed into the wave with his long sword each strike sinking into flesh and bone coming back wet with blood each time. He had defensive magic he could call upon, if there were to be a last stand he would save it for then. He could shield a company this size but it would exhaust him, he would be no good to anyone if that would be the case. He would focus on using his reserves and his faith in cutting the numbers down as much as he could.

He held the line...for now...
 
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Tarathrieal

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Askaris hated the Blightlands, they had taken from him everything he had ever known and destroyed his conviction as a commander of men. Yet when the call for any who would respond came out from the Dwarves, Askaris did not hesitate - it was a chance to regain his honor, to once and for all prove to himself that even without his venerated elite Dragoons he could fight and he could win.

He was dismayed when he arrived to find he had missed the first wave, they had already pushed through and begun the frankly foolhardy rescue operation. He waited for what felt like weeks but was in truth only a day or two for the next expedition to be sent out, hoping beyond hope he would be given his chance before the first wave either came home victorious or died an anonymous death in the damned Blightlands.

When the second party was sent out Askaris sat tall on his massive black ram mount, the spiral horned creature fifteen hands in height and bleating as it sensed it's masters anticipation. His commanding presence held no command proper, he was listed as an 'adventurer' on the manifest - a name which stung, for Askaris considered himself an elite soldier; or at least he once did.

As soon as they arrived at the Blightlands Askaris volunteered to scout ahead, his intimate knowledge of the flat lands of the Blightlands known by the commander of the second wave and so his offer was taken. It was during one of these scouting trips he heard the first sounds of it, the unmistakable din of metal crunching, men and women screaming and dying gasps.

He quickly lit a smoky bit of fibers he kept in a saddlebag, the small material burned easily and produced a thick black smoke which could be seen by the advancing second wave. They were a ways ride from Askaris own advanced position, but the signal smoke was a preplanned signal. If they would arrive in time to make a difference was no longer Askaris concern.

His job done Askaris urged Ankylo, his massive spiral horned mount, to make haste. The massive beast made quick work of the distance, and from a small hill Askaris surveyed the battle. A shield wall had been formed in between a sheer out cropping of tall 'cliffs', an unusual formation in the Blightlands which allowed the small contingent of Dwarves to work as a deadly wall for which the more diverse and less organized adventurers and mercenaries could ply their own unique skills without worry of disrupting the defensive cohesion of the overall force.

It was a good tactic, one which made best use of the hodgepodge force. It was also harsh, the Dwarves were unlikely to come out of such an engagement unscathed and most of the true risk lay at their feet. A wall of flesh to stop axes for their allies.

It seemed the rear line of adventures mostly made use of two handed swords, cutting down any foolish orc who managed to brute force his way past the stout wall. There was skill there, to be sure, but in his observation Askaris knew this was the sort of battle his preferred style of warfare did not excel at. He was a guerilla fighter, a mobile Dragoon - a flanker at his core the very wall of stone which protected the party also hindered Askaris own preference.

It didn't matter - he could do true damage from this hill. Dismounting Askaris drew his Abtati bow from it's saddle holster and slammed the arrows in it's companion quiver into the ground at his feet. He drew up one, drawing back with a grunt on the incredible draw weight of the specialized armor piercing bow - picking his shot carefully Askaris loosed the first arrow. It streaked like a lighting bolt from the small hill some two hundred yards away. It struck in between the eyes of an orc who was raising his weapon to strike at the wall.

Rather then stick into the skull the sheer force of the arrow slammed through the head of the orc and embedded itself deep into the chest of the orc directly behind him. Another arrow was drawn back, another orc life taken.

He was no shield wall combatant, but he rained death like a sniper from on high - killing orcs just as they believed they were about to triumph. Tarathrieal Hycinth, former Commander of the Askaris Dragoons would make sure the damned Blight Orcs remembered the fear of his arrows.

OOC: I hope I'm not intruding late, but this was just too perfect for me to ignore.
 

Kiros Rahnel

Pneria's Prophet
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The Marines hardly seemed to take his implied devoutness seriously before, but the looks given him now were noticed, almost expected. The notion of a higher power was often a joke to some; it was notably harder to find someone as dismissive when staring upon the threat of death. Despite the annoyance, the irreverent attitudes spared him the awkwardness of addressing requests for divine aid. Not that he could render any. Not from The Six; past misdeeds had rendered him a heretic unworthy of giving them worship or prayer. Not from any outside the Annunaki pantheon, for concern of furthering his wayward stray. And certainly not from Itra, whose help he held no faith in. She was at Her most beneficial as is, absent and unable to cause issue. From the numerous deities they cited, he believed none held clue whom Itra even was. Kiros envied that.

Kiros refused to plea to his deity, though Dal made a plea to his own. Were it not for his plate mail, it might’ve be possible to mistake him for foe. Dal’s conduct and manners were a stark contrast to that of the other orcs; still it seemed he carried a hint of his lineage. It was put to good use from what Kiros had seen, there was no mistaking the half-orcs ferocity or conviction. He too noted Erën’thiel, whom seemed to be a Celestialist by religion. He pledged faith to those gods Kiros held little belief in, though he wisely kept such thoughts private.

Heike approached next with a sense of purpose, and Kiros turned to receive her request.
"I do not know how much magic you've at your command, Kiros, but, I implore you, reserve some for the protection of Sardrun. Keep a vigilant eye upon him. Will you do this?"

“I hold enough for the requested purpose, and that I surely shall. He shall be safe under my guard.” He replied with a look returned that displayed his own conviction in the statement. In what the time he had known her, she had proven to be honourable and admirably valiant. It was unsurprising that it was she whom gave the boy comfort, and whom continued to fret for his safety. Kiros affirmed his own determination in seeing this goal met with his agreement. Further fitting that his response pledged no divine aid; only his own. Doubtless that if he died here today, She would destroy his very soul to She wouldn’t have to share Her heavens. No, he could not truly bring them the aid of the divine. Only that of a regretful and exiled priest.

He prepared himself for battle and readied his quarterstaff, now with the bronze symbol adorning the end of it. Ahead of him, crossbow bolts soared into the air into the oncoming waves of orcs. Three volleys had been fired and countless many orcs slain before they managed to meet the dwarven defensive formation. Once they did and the battle drew to close quarters, he kept watch for any further threats. Should any break through the line, he needed as early warning as possible. From afar, he could spot the signs of orcs in the distance whom had clearly done just that – only for them to drop one by one, each impaled by lethal arrow. He had no clue whom this unseen ally was, but the talent they held was undeniable and the shots delivered with great precision, given the distance. For now, Kiros held his position near Sardrun; the poor boy’s fright was evident.

“We’ll keep you safe, I will see to it. This will be at an end soon, and we’ll have you back home.” He spoke in his attempt to comfort the boy, though he was unsure if these words would do so considering the ordeal endured. Remaining at his side, he stood at the ready to make good on his promise; prepared to invoke magic, should the situation require it.

As if on cue, the situation soon did. A trio of orcs rushed onward at their position, shouting in their bloodthirsty war cry. Fuelled by malice, they made little effort towards the dwarven warriors in pursuit, opting to rush forth towards Kiros and the boy with axes at the ready. Having prepared to cast, Kiros tapped the steel base of his staff against the ground and uttered the requisite prayer to invoke the curtain. The protective spell first took form as a thin line of light stretching from ground towards sky, before erupting into a wall that spread out at the sides with a shimmering, ebbing brightness. The sight of it gave the orcs visible shock, but ultimately did not dissuade them from their pursuit. The effect held however, did. The orc at the forefront found his motions slowed yet not halted and continued to slowly push through the barrier; those in tow found the curtain to be completely impassible throughout. Their confusion would only last so long; the bite of dwarven steel through their skulls put an end to it and their lives once the Marines had caught up.

Yet, they had arrived too late to stop that one lone orc who had managed to push past and continue in his sprint towards Kiros and Sardrun. No Marine remained to intercede, and those on the curtain’s other side could only watch as only one of them could undertake the process of crossing it. Kiros debated the use of further magic before deciding against it and adopting a battle stance to meet his oncoming foe. A risky response, but he’d only need to buy time; the dwarf would be able to aid him if he could only stall the orc for a precious moment.

He thrust his staff towards the orc’s head as he closed distance and made his attack in the midst of an axe-swing, landing a grazing blow that distracted but failed to incapacitate the assailing orc. The swung axe missed as the orc stumbled, yet had managed to recover by the time Kiros could follow up on his attack. Their weapons locked together and Kiros found himself overpowered by his foe; while moderately strong for a human, he held nothing on the might of an orcish warrior.

For a brief moment, it appeared his opponent might emerge victorious; such time came to an abrupt end with an axe cleaved through the orcs midsection. Their dwarven ally had arrived and announced his presence by the swing of sharpened steel. Without words and with the orc slain, the dwarf simply turned to rejoin the battle in search of more to fell.
 
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Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

The Broken Sword
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Their coming was like the sound of thunder. Down through this narrow corridor they came, and in those brief moments before battle was joined, there was a final moment of peace.

A deep breath.

Arrows loosed.

He licked his lip.

Another volley.

Another breath.

Then, like crashing waves against the ragged coast the orcs fell upon them, and the air was filled with steel and pain. The dwarves fought hard and valiantly, squandering the orcs' hopes of barreling over them. Many held the line, and fought to hold back their weight crushing down on them. But it was only a matter of time. The dwarves dammed the tide for a short while, but soon a hole was made, breaking through toward the auxiliaries, many of whom were quick to react, but even still the battle descended to chaos. Slowly the clear line began to blur, which if allowed to continue would likely lead to their defeat. While there were clearly several skilled warriors here, it was most often the case that the larger force was the victor. In this place they had a good chance, but they needed to hold together.

Orcs spilled through, and were not long to meet Dal and Gil'Tyrnin's wrath. Erën was nearer to the opposite end, where the line still held strong, but this was really just a short distance. He readied his grip and sprang forward, moving quickly toward the breech to join the fight with them, and he was met with his first foe. He fell, and Erën's swords were left slick with wretched blood. But as soon as the first had fallen another came for his place, and Erën took another life. Though the orcs had brute strength, Erën had centuries of training and experience. Each footfall carried intent, every movement was fluid, and every attack was precise. Though in single combat was where he was most deadly, he was quite used to this as well - trusting your comrades unwaveringly, defending their flanks and extending your sword to their foe. Fighting together, surviving together.

So when it was that there were some who managed past, past Dal and Gil'Tyrnin and Erën, past them all to reach for the goal they so desperately fought for - the child - he fought hard to bar their way, but was delayed by the number that stood between. It was only after Kiros had summoned his magic to conjure a shield that Erën closed the gap, leaving orcs slain in his wake. He joined with the dwarves in slaying those who'd been halted by the magician's spell, and watching powerlessly as one struggled his way through to break free and attack Kiros. Erën wished to go to his aid, but could not, and instead was forced to turn his attention away and back toward the front. Hazarding a look back when he could, it was good to see that the mage had held his own and the attacker was beaten. This allowed Erën to continue fighting without a hindering thought for the dwarven boy's well-being.

The sword in his right hand, marvelous and beautiful, crackled with energy. The stone forged within it showed a light, dim at first, and this light showed too in his eyes. It gave him strength, and a feeling of power welled within him as he channeled his magic. And soon he would loose it.


 
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Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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From around the Marines' formation:

"Those leadfoot louts in the Army'd've crumbled by now, ha ha!" called out Forge-Sergeant Ordin Stonebreaker as he pushed back an orc and drove his axe into his foe's knees.

"If they didn't sink in the Drawa River first!" replied Ummanite Clanhold, the company joker and he who was renowned to have the most fabulous beard, as he blocked a furious flurry of axe and mace strikes from two orcs before him.

"Take heart, Arragoth! All they can do is bellow and shout," called Briggneous "Brigg" Hammerzun casually, weathering the brunt of the fighting along with those others who were in the front rank.

Then, through sheer savage determination, the Blight Orcs had begun to push through the formation and to create the hole, trying to envelope the dwarves.

"Arragoth, hold!" Captain Grunni shouted in response. "ARRAGOTH, HOLD!"

* * * * *​

Time for Heike, as it usually did in its paradoxical way, seemed to be both unnervingly slow and terrifying fast once the battle had been joined. Moments of stark clarity, moments of blur in-between.

Her first orcish opponent felled with a quick feint and thrust through his painted chest, her sword wrenched out and the body at her feet. Seeing Dal through the slit of her visor slice the neck of his foe. Seeing, vaguely beyond that, Gil with an astonishing stroke that cleaved at least half a dozen orcs.

Heike's own next foe charging her then, trampling over the fallen body of his own comrade. He wielded an axe and a pilfered arming sword, and he did not go down as swiftly as the first orc. This one had control over his fury and kept Heike's longsword at bay as much as she kept his own weapons at bay. And in this singular fight she was engaged for quite a long time, stepping over the bodies felled by Dal and her back colliding with the cliff-wall at one point. Back and forth they went, purchasing ground and losing it. Heike at last managed to score a grazing slash on the dual-wielding orc's arm, causing him to drop his pilfered sword...before another came at her (an opportunistic fourth spear-wielder while Dal was occupied). She was forced to defend herself from the second.

And the skilled dual-wielder slammed his fist into the side of her helm, and Heike went spinning and staggering off. The metal of her helm and the padding underneath were not enough to keep her ear from ringing in the wake of the vicious blow. Heike, still stumbling, bumped into Dal's back, and this was enough to keep her on her feet in that crucial second and allowed her to regain her balance.

Together, they took down the skilled dual-wielder. Yet there were plenty more Orcs choking the narrow pass to take his place.

* * * * *​

We’ll keep you safe, I will see to it. This will be at an end soon, and we’ll have you back home.

Sardrun looked to Kiros with that same despondent gaze he had given Heike. The utter violence he had seen during the sacking of his home, during the battle and slaughter at Ungbarroud...it was something that paled his skin and stilled his heart. Something that he had not seen before these things, and something he wished he had never seen at all and would never see again. He was not like his father, nor like the Great Ancestors of the Steelborn Clan. He did not have a warrior's heart--his passions lay in engineering, in solving problems, in mathematics, in the grand and wondrous structures like the Forge of Belgrath-Akkar.

When Kiros summoned his glimmering shield, Sardrun--temporarily fascinated by it--thought not of what discipline of magic had created it, nor of its arcane effects, nor of the orcs who were terrible close to breaking through it, nor of the fighting form adopted by Kiros with his staff to defend against the singular orc who had pushed through. No. None of that. He was estimating how wide the barrier was in Belgrath Standard Meters.

"Seventeen...I think...?" Sardrun said aloud, his voice still distant and hollow in the frigid grip of shock.

* * * * *​

Soon.

After the initial moments of engagement and the piling up of losses on the orcish side, with a number of Marines being felled as well by the hole in the formation. Soon the orcs began trying something new, something one of among them had inspired in the others--before he was taken down by Gil's spear of pure light. Yet the idea was brutally sound to the savage mind.

From the mass of orcs, one leaped up high, high over his fellows and over the first rank of Marines, his shadow cast down on the dwarves, his eyes wide with a feral anticipatory glee, his axe raised high for an overhead strike as he descended. And the three-hundred pound orc landed smack in the middle of the Marines' formation, bowling over two of them and swinging wildly and enduring their axe strikes.

Another orc leaped over the frontlines and into the formation.

Another.

Another. And another. Another that leaped and that caught a long-range arrow loosed by Tarathrieal in mid-flight but still his gargantuan dead body, weighing north of four-hundred pounds, coming crashing down into the Marines' once pristine formation.

It kept going. While the front-most orcs fought with the front-most Marines and adventurers, those orcs behind them were leaping over their backs, leaping from the bodies piling up, leaping with boosts from their fellow orcs, sailing into the fray, their bodies as much weapons as their actual axes, swords, clubs. They landed in the formation and they landed behind it. They landed on top of Marines and adventurers and other orcs, and they landed sometimes in a clearing on their feet, and sometimes crashing and rolling before launching themselves back up to fight. They were trying to flood the area with orcish warriors, to try and begin surrounding the Marines and the auxiliaries.

One Orc Chief, with a mantle of bones about his shoulders and strange, scarred carvings in his skin, landed behind the formation and among the adventurer auxiliaries. He reached and grabbed a female Allirian Ranger by her long hair before she could react, pulling it taut and then in one clean swing chopping her neck and ripping her head clean from her shoulders. Her body fell as her head dangled by the hair in his grasp, her eyes blinking and mouth moving for a few seconds as the last bits of blood rained down from her severed neck. And then the Orc chief looked to Kiros and Sardrun behind the Curtain. Bellowed and beat his chest. Then threw the head of the Ranger at the Curtain.

He did not charge into the Curtain like some of the other orcs.

He had caught a glimmer of magic from Eren'thiel's sword, and went barreling toward him, knocking aside two Marines as he did.

* * * * *​

Heike, like a good number of the Marines, was one that felt the weight of the leaping orcs. One slammed into her as she fought at the front lines, clipping her shoulder, and then another on top of her, knocking her down, pinning her.

"Dal!" she called out, as a third landed on her, and all sight of her disappeared underneath the pile of orcish bodies.

She couldn't move. Could hardly breathe. All was dark beneath the dogpile of the three massive Blight Orcs. Hot breath leaked in through the slit of her helm's visor--saliva, warm and wet, dripping in through the same. She pinched her eyes shut, her lips closed.

And she heard the edge of an orcish dagger scraping somewhere along her armor, searching for a weak point in chaotic confusion.

Dal Kiros Rahnel Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest Eren'thiel Xyrdithas Tarathrieal
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Butcher of Alliria
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(OOC: Seeing some familiar faces here...)

A large rusted warrior emerged from the dark long forgotten tunnels of a Dwarvish stronghold, a few badly rotted heads of tribal orcish champions hung from his belt. He had been harassing small groups of blight orcs in the area for weeks now. Hunting them in the night when they dared to venture outside their own strongholds, using the expansice underground network to strike at them, stringing up their broken bodies in the dead trees or pinning them to the ground with their own axes and spears.

The warrior had only intended to pass through after the spine, but took up to aiding a dwarven strong hold in hunting down a few fugitives, only to return to the stronghold after its sacking. This marked the blightorcs for the Warfather's judgement, blood for blood. He wandered out the side of a tiny cavern just above one of the many fortifications, drawn by the sounds of steel and stone clashing and the death screams. He peered over the battle, the tattered bloodstained remains of his worn fur cloak flowed in the breeze like many tendrils. Blight orcs seemed to relentlessly pursue armored warriors and adventurers, crashing against a buckling shield wall.

It took him seconds to consider what action to take as he drew a pick with his fully intact hand and slid down the side of the mountain. He wanted a few more champions heads for his belt. He rushed towards the rear of the dwarvin shield wall. He arrived on the northern most portion that was starting to waver, a short berserking orc with two axes tried to jump over the shield wall, getting a thrown pickaxe to the brain from Cauldwin.

Cauldwin being in the rear of the rightmost shield wall picked up the shield of a badly injured dwarf that had been set against the stone. The spear was still lodged in the fold of his breastplate. He drew his greatblade and shifted formation with one of the exhuasted dwarves, taking a knee to match the wall and disembouling a few of the bersekers that clashed against the wall with his greatblade. He shouted to the exhausted dwarves beside him, his deep guttural voice roaring over the clashing, "Any Dwarf who buckles, I'll DRINK 'IS FAK'N BRAINS!" This sudden phycotic roar caused the right of the shield wall to straighten, likely out of a sudden increase in moral.

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

Kiros Rahnel

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest

Tarathrieal

Dal

Heike Eisen

 

Dal

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“No,” Dal breathed from within his helmet as he saw the orcs propel themselves into the air. The first feeling of dread permeated his senses as he knew what it was to be caught underneath the terrible mass that was the orc. This was something he had experienced before in his early years, the might and power of simple weight and mass to overpower the lesser. As a youth of fifteen Dal had taken part in the wrestling and rutting of other orcs and found himself woefully underprepared for the battering that was delivered to him. How orcs the same age as him had jumped upon him again and again, how they delivered elbows and knees to take the wind right out of him, how they used their full bloodied nature to overpower him and drive his face into the mud without fear of harming him. Indeed that was the goal. Wrestling was simple fun to the orc, it delighted them in the simplicity of it. To Dal, it was torture, a cruel and sharp reminder that he was not like the other orcs.

It was after one particular night of crushing defeat in the wrestling pit that Dal knew that to compete with his fellow orcs in the tribe he would have to put in hard work and effort to accomplish what came so easily to the other orcs. He would never be as tall or as hulking as the others, and in his later years he would discover this gave him an advantage in combat and in life with humans, not that they discerned the difference for the most part, but Dal made an effort at such a formative time in his life to bulk up through his diet and exercise. He trained. He trained like none of the others had done. They hadn't the need. Dal knew he had to work at it. To grow tall, to grow strong, to be able to compete and keep up in raw strength.

Some of the elders sympathised and understood his efforts and supported him. Without them, Dal knew he might not have succeeded in his efforts, let alone survived. He had consumed as many chickens a day as he could stomach, he lifted the heaviest stones that were around the tribal village, and undertook with vigour the other trials and tests that his elders saw fit to give him. Elders who saw potential in the runt of the litter. Elders who saw the desire to overcome and fight like a true orc and rewarded it with all the encouragement they could be seen to grant. Elders who saw the exhilaration that this half breed experienced when lifting weights, elders who saw the look of shame from the many defeats in the wrestling pit. They saw potential. And allowed Dal to time and space to grow.

While Dal would never be a champion in the wrestling pits where orcs could use their mass to overwhelm him, his dedication and perseverance allowed him to earn respect by his fellow orcs. After two years of his intense training regimen he won his first arm wrestle against a peer, an orc of the name of Urdan. Dal had never forgotten the name. Nor the look of surprise when Dal had applied his own muscle. That this half breed had won against a full orc. The wrestling pit was another matter, but the times that Dal had been caught in such a scrum had managed to hold his own, much to the surprise of his peers. He had put in enough work to survive. To earn a place amongst them.

Yet despite this acceptance and carving of a place for himself, at the age of twenty, Dal had left his tribe, for something deep within him knew that he would never be the strongest of the orcs, he would never have the brutal nature that could survive through dominance. He had grown to scorn it as he had seen so many of his friends die early, glorious deaths in the eyes of the other orcs, but deaths that were driven by a need to rage, a need to overcome through that same brute strength that Dal was faced with. It would be replaced by an iron will and discipline that had been honed of years of training and experience.

And now, twenty years on, Dal saw the orcs leaping and driving themselves upon his comrades. Upon Heike. That this was the most primitive instinct of the orc in this moment. And this tactic was working.

“Dal!” he heard, and turned his head to see Heike become overwhelmed in great thuds of green bodies.

“Not like this,” Dal cursed through gritted teeth as he surged to Heike's predicament. His blood was angered, his furrowed deeply knotted, his muscles driven to action, his mind prepared to do whatever was required. The sense of dread that he had experienced for his comrades now fuelled him to act, like someone who at first recoiled from the sight of a boat taking on water, and then with all speed did bail water out of the vessel.

Anger that was normally kept aside for want of survival in such violent scenarios was now embraced by Dal. It as if he had been struck by lightning, that the shock of seeing the orcs jump down so effectively upon his comrades had stirred something within him that propelled him to act. Not to run, never to run for fear of missing a foe who would cut him down, but instead to stride with wrath within his heart and violence in his frame to deliver to his enemy as he sought to rescue his comrade in arms, the knight who had offered him nothing but respect and acceptance.

But Dal's efforts were immediately waylaid. Dal was assaulted by another jumping orc who descended upon him. Dal sneered and brought the longsword far behind his head so that it was level with his back, and swung with all his might downwards in one explosive action, his voice rising in one defiant roar that matched the orc's own scream. This kind of action was not one that was supported by knightly doctrine of longsword combat, but it was necessary in this moment. Had Dal made such a movement in a one on one duel, his life would have been forfeit. But this was no duel, this was sheer weight and mass coming down upon him. And anger responded to such a threat. Dal had no time to think, his body drove him to just rip apart that which is in in the way.

His muscles drove the weapon brutally onwards and carved the orc in two with the assistance of the magic now stirring within the blade. The sound was sickening, so true was the violence that Dal delivered that a slight tremor of shock coursed through him. His hand ached from the effort he had just put in. He had but a moment to think about how impulsively he had just performed the cut. I mustn't do that again, Dal thought, but even as he thought about it, he grinned with a battle lust that he would later be sickened at. It served him in this desperate moment.

The body crumpled upon Dal, and the warrior shoved it to each side with a heavy shrug as it slid in pieces around him, the dead weight considerable and oppressive. Memories returned to him from his youth of being in that wrestling pit, yet now the feeling was different from such early days of his life. He was older, stronger, taller, mightier, his mind certain and his contempt for his old people powering him on. Dal felt the blood splash about him and enter his visor, and Dal gave out a satisfied grunt as it marked him. The blood smeared his armour as if he was being baptised in this moment, the shining steel becoming sanguine, the ornate embellishments across the plate were now slick and crimson. The blue banner that was upon his back was smattered with orcish blood and the dwarven face that was upon it grimly looked on as it was bathed so.

Dal stepped forward to the situation and looked at the three bodies amassing upon the knight Heike. Another memory fired within Dal's mind as he realised what he had to do.

In his twenties he had left the tribe of orcs to make his name amongst the humans of the world and joined a mercenary company, and at first, he had been nothing more than a pack mule to them in the first few months. While he could never be recognised as being truly strong amongst the orc, within the groups that took him in and paid him he was seen as a freak of nature, a strongman that they assumed was as stupid as the beasts of burden he helped in the baggage train. Surrounded by human mercenaries who couldn't hope to best him in feats of strength, Dal felt good about his superiority at first. But soon he grew to resent the way that the others in his companies would set him to simple tasks. Loading catapults with rocks in sieges, carrying bushels of weapons to and fro, clearing bodies. It would take a few fights to set himself apart from their expectations and give him better work to perform to prove himself and earn his pay. It was harder work than the labour.

And now, years on from his initial entry into such grunt work, he had the task of performing such feats of strength again.

Dal scowled and planted his sword within the ground with a firm thud. The longsword swayed back and forth from the force and Dal approached the bodies that were on Heike with determination. Dal made gutteral sounds as he planted his feet forward and reached for his rondel with his left hand, and with his right, reached to grab the first orc's head and jerked it to one side. Savage eyes returned to look at him, and as the body squirmed, the rondel was driven upwards into the throat once, twice, and then from the second planting the blade was ripped to the side so that the wound would be as savage as the recipient. Dal's discipline remained when it came to his rondel usage, he stabbed and replaced the weapon to where it belonged in less than a second. There was no hesitation or fault in his execution. This part was routine. The next was not.

Dal with both hands dragged the first body to the side, his voice raised as he did so to give him further strength. It was a herculean task that Dal just managed to perform. He felt the burning sensation in his arm and was reminded of the labours he had performed in his younger days. Of training in the orc tribe. Of serving with the human mercenaries. So it was again in his forties that Dal did apply his strength to the task of serving his goal. To save his comrade. He looked down at what was left to do.

The second body upon Heike was moving, as if it was trying to deliver jabs or knee strikes. Again the rondel was torn out of the holster and vital stabs were made downwards, this time to the back of the head. No helmet was to be found upon this orc and Dal made more deliberation to stab up into the brain of this one. Dal drove the rondel true and the body became limp. Blood bubbled out from the piercing strike, the rondel was replaced, and Dal reached around to drag this body away. Another grunt of exertion as the body was rolled to one side.

One left, Dal thought desperately. One left. He prayed to the god of murder that he would be allowed to take his weapon up once more. That he would not be crushed in this moment of vulnerability. Let me kill again, Dal thought again and again, let me kill these bastards.

The rondel was again within his left hand and Dal looked to see where to strike upon the last one before he saw something loom above him. He was assaulted by the weight of an orc above him and Dal gave out a anguished roar. Just let me do this, Dal thought as his training served him in such a vital instant. Training he had paid handsomely for served him in this moment of frustration as Dal allowed the weight to land upon him as he fell backwards...but brought his leg up so that he used the momentum coming down to propel the orc backwards with a firm kick. The effort made his leg burn and almost buckle, but the movement was clean and mechanically efficient. The orc was hurled into the din of combat, the weight was alleviated, and Dal could continue with his effort as he returned back upon his feet and advanced. His muscles screamed out yet Dal refused to listen. Not when there was still so much to do. So much on the line.

The orc he was now looked down upon was moving with purpose. Dal saw a dagger being dragged, the point probing and hunting for weaknesses in Heike's armour, to look for an armpit, a visor, an area of articulation in the wrist. With another roar Dal did grip this orc and roll him over.

They both faced each other, each with dagger in hand, one brutish, sharp and jagged, the other, deadly straight and long, wet with blood and held with purpose. Each poised. Each held aloft for a fraction of a heartbeat. And each delivered their strike. Without hesitation or consideration of where the other would land their blow the two foes stabbed forward.

Dal had leaned to the left as he drove the dagger down with his left arm and hand, and as a result the orc's dagger grazed harmlessly against the steel chestplate that Dal was encased by. The orc's dagger had missed where his neck would have been had he leaned in with his right arm. The rondel however was brought down true into the creature's face. The rondel was planted in the nose and Dal refused to give any shade of quarter or mercy. Another stab was made, and another, and another. A baleful scream rose from the orc, and Dal returned it with his own exhausted yet defiant retort. And then stillness from this one.

Dal ripped the orc to one side and heaved great breaths. He looked down to Heike and extended a bloody gauntlet to grip her forearm and bring her back to her feet. In comparison to heaving orcs around, this much was easy, yet it seemed to punctuate all the labour that had been performed before. Dal gave a pained grunt as his shoulder ached, his legs burned, his throat was dry and his eyes felt strained.

There were no words in Dal at first. Just heavy breathing from beneath the helmet, a quick replacement of the rondel and an unhooking of a hammer from his waist. Dal nodded heavily in acknowledgement of the knight he had just brought up to her feet and then went to retrieve his own weapon from the ground, his movements sluggish. The fury had taken something from him, and as Dal's senses returned he gave another prayer. He shook his head as if it would bring back his faculties. He felt the discipline return in slow ebbs as his head pounded from the exertion he just made. His vision darkened in a painful throb.

Give me time to deliver more death, give me ten seconds reprieve, let me get my weapon, let me not fail those around me, let me kill every single orc I see. Just give me this. Just let me continue, Dal thought as he fought to keep his senses. He reached out with a hand to retrieve his longsword, picked it up, and replaced the hammer to his waist. He looked to Heike.

“More to do still,” Dal uttered, his voice hoarse, his accent now carrying the guttural bray of his orc heritage that he did his best to conceal even in combat. He cleared his throat with a second long growl, and said, “You alright?” Dal asked, his voice now more composed, more human, his breathing laboured, his shoulders sagging slightly from all this strain.

The orc he had so recently kicked out of the way was charging towards Dal's exposed back. Dal did not hear the approach over the din of battle, the pounding of his heart, for his concern and reply of his comrade.


Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

Kiros Rahnel

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest

Tarathrieal

Dal

Heike Eisen

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

 
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Tarathrieal

Member
Messages
20
Askaris visibly recoiled at the sight of the brutes brilliant crescendo - Dwarves made a poor wall if you could simply leap over them! Initially Askaris met this affront with his bow, felling orcs from the air; the sheer force of his massive draw weight slamming orc bodies into the hard stone wall and pinning them there like grotesque displays. But Askaris was a sniper, and he lacked the ability to deal with their sheer numbers!

From his point on high Askaris saw it first, the orcs were not simply launching themselves into the backline without tactic. While the largest occupied the most skilled of the adventurers the lesser kin pushed beyond, creating a rout inducing encirclement. Askaris cursed under his breath as he saw it form, the line of orcs forming a wall of their own which would slowly move inward at the flank of the adventurers. Valor would not be enough; battlefield tactics superseded the emotional gratification.

Askaris had expected the shield wall to buckle at that moment. The heavily armored commander in the backline had been swarmed, her body pressed against the dirt - she was likely dead; though the large armored man who seemed to be her adjutant made effort to prevent that. It was heroic, but the true savior of the moment laid at the feet of some sort of bizarre automaton; a thing of rust and anger.

It roared so loudly Askaris could hear it from hundreds of yards away.; and it's call hardened the Dwarves which did their best to stem a tide they had no hope of holding for long. It would have to be long enough.

Holstering his bow on the saddle Askaris mounted his trusty spiral horn steed, patting the beast on it's neck as he knew what he was about to will it to do. A solo cavalry charge into the flank of an encirclement was going to be the mounts final moments, and Askaris struggled to hold back the emotion welling up inside him.

Ankylo had served as his mount for longer then any beast of burden, he had raised it from a lamb and his emotional connection to the beast was greater then any he had in his one hundred thirty years of life. It was also the last surviving member of his mercenary company.

Askaris made no sound as he drew his sabre from it's sheathe at his hip. He merely willed the beast with his heels, standing in the stirrups and leaning forward he held the sword out stretched, thumb down to the ground and point level.

Ankylo burst down the hill at tremendous speed, the spiral horn could not maintain speed over distance like a horse could but it's initial sprint held an acceleration far beyond. As it approached the encircling line of orcs Ankylo lowered his head, the murderous spiral horns many times more deadly then Askaris own blade.

CRUNCH!

The massive beast collided with the first orc, its horns shredding flesh and it's downward head stroke forcing the orc underfoot to be trampled by hoof. Askaris himself braced in the stirrups as his blade struck his quarry, the orc directly next to Ankylo's target. The sabre sunk deep, it's rigid point punching a brutal hole - the force was horrendous, causing Askaris to be forced into the seat of his saddle and nearly ripping the blade from his hand as it tore free from the orcs body.

The orcs did not have active leadership at that charge, their commander occupied in his fight against the Elven man whom called upon divine power. Without a strong hand to aim their instincts the orcs dissolved their encirclement. It was no rout, two deaths were hardly enough to rout the damned Blight Orcs - it was battle lust.

A target had just entered their midst, and they descended upon it like a wave. Askaris hacked and swung from the saddle as Ankylo used his horns like blades, swinging his massive head like a flail. Orcs fell in droves, but it was never going to be enough. The first axe bit into Ankylo's rear left leg, the startled bleat over powering all other sounds. Askaris nearly cried out for his partner, but stifled his sadness as he swung again and again.

More axes came, yet still the beast stood. It's brutal crushing head slowed as it's blood turned the already muddy ground a shade of crimson. A guttural roar of challenge was the final noise Ankylo could muster, his battle over - suddenly he lurched, crashing to the ground with some orcs under his bulk.

And one other.

Askaris had refused to leave the saddle, and when it became too late his reactions were too slow. His right leg was pinned under the steed, and he was surrounded by orcs. Lashing out with his sabre Askaris removed legs, shattered ankles and fought tooth and nail. His cuirass deflected downward axe swings, like the swings used against wood. The force of the blows against his sternum still blasted the wind out of the Dragoon's lungs and dulled his mind, his vision swimming as the ringing in his ears over powered all other senses.

He could not call for help, he could only helplessly swing his sabre as he waited for coup de grace.
 

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest

Paladin of Sol'nityr
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The bodies in front of the shield wall began to pile higher and higher. This was not good. As the bodies began to pile it created a high ground in front of the defenses, it allowed orcs to start jumping clear over the wall, the pile also created another disadvantage, the ground beneath their feet was turning into a slick mud from all of the blood that had been spilled. This caused their footing to become unstable, seeing this he looked to his left and to his right shouting to the rest of the formation.

"Back! Hold the line! Back! Reverse wedge formation!"

The Dwarven commander seeing what Gil saw nodded to the Elf "You better know what you're doing!"

The commander reverberated his words

"Back! Hold the line! Reverse Wedge"

The formation moved backwards a good ten yards where the ground was not soaked the cliffs closed in tighter in this position which allowed less shields to be used to hold the formation allowing the dwarves at the front of the what was now a "V" formation to put their backs against the stone cliffs. This made it so that the orcs would need to funnel into the formation further decreasing the power of their numbers. There was another advantage this gave the formation, the tall wall of corpses was slippery, it was hard to climb, fewer and fewer orcs were now able to crash against the defenses.

He turned now to the commander

"Have your men make a second formation behind the Wedge, a half circle", he drew a "D" in the dirt. "Have your men position so that the Cresent is at the back and the line is in the middle of the reverse wedge, this will allow us to open the Wedge to release pressure and control the amount of orcs we allow into the second kill zone, it will also allow us to open and close Tha half circle as needed we must control the flow of the horde or we will be overwhelmed"

The commander nodded rallying his men into the second formation.

At the end of the Wedge there were four shield bearers one set facing the oncoming wave the other with their back to the other two. Theycould open almost like a sliding door to let orcs into the second formation, the second formation had dwarves facing away on the front line to protect the back of the wedge, this allowed them to let orcs out of one kill box into another. This would also allow the dwarves to move bodies out of the second kill box so that they would not pile like before affording them more time in this positon

Gil did indeed know what he was doing he knew that orcs would still be able to slip passed this formation because of their sheer numbers, however it would keep it to a manageable number for those behind the formation.

Opening the formation they funneled the horde onto the half circle before closing it behind the orcs. In the center of this pit of steel and flesh stood Gil who given the new formation was no longer needed to hold the line, six marines, and any other adventurer who had entered the semi circle before it was closed. They would leave space on either side of the semi circle to allow the natural walls of the cliff to be used in place of shields. This allowed for the entire formation to use less man power freeing more of the dwarves to enter the fray.

It was then he felt the ground tremble, thunderous foot falls hit the earth with the intent of one thing, his destruction. A monolith of an orc who towered even over Gil who stood at seven feet, it appeared to be a good three feet taller then him. It easily bounded over the first formation into the second, The mass of its muscles were like that of large rocks. An orc cheif, this one answered to none In his hand he held a massive blade stained with blood and by now covered in fresh wet dripping blood. A scar ran across its left eye, no light gleamed from the grey dead pupil. Gashes were seen in parts of its body, healed over time marks of failed heroes that had come before. Gil quickly removed his sword from his back intercepting the orc on his way to the other Elf with the gleaming swords, the orc brought down the his blade with all the force of a heard of stampeding horses to where Gil stood now. Gil turned on his heel side stepping to blow swinging his blade which the orc blocked with his left forearm. The muscle and skin of this hulking beast were almost similar to the physiology of the High Elf himself. Although he did not need to bulk up as much as the orc to accomplish this. The muscle was dense. Even with the might of his swing and the weight of his sword the blade only sank in about an inch. Burte force would not work here, he needed a plan. He was given little time to think by the colossus that wished him to be destroyed. As he freed his blade the beast swung horizontally with a slight upward arc, Gil barely had time to position his blade in front of him one hand behind the flat the other on the handle. The massive sword connected with the blade, this sent Gil flying into the cliff wall, crashing violently into it so much so that as his body and his plate armor smacked the wall that the cliff face cracked sending splinters of stone to fall below. Had he been of another race other then the High Elves, this blow would have surely been the end of him, Gil a bit dazed by the blow looked up his blurred vision coming into focus he saw the cheif running towards him. The orcs cheered and roared as the chief charged banging axes together banging on shields and clanging together swords in anticipation of what they saw to be a death blow to one that had taken so man orc lives this day.

Gil slammed his blade into the crack behind him over his right shoulder. He bowed his head and held his hands together praying. In the middle of the battle cheif roaring towards him. He knew if he could kill this cheif many of the orcs would run scared losing moral, thunderous steps closer and closer gaining speed. His eyes were closed but a slight twitch of his ears could be seen counting the steps calculating the distance. He did not pray for a blessing, his prayer was only to give thanks for the blessing he was already given. Gil grabbed the hilt of the sword imbeded in the wall behind him freeing it violently In a downward arc from right to left, the orc cheif laughed raising his arm again offering a thicker more dense part of the forearm, the Elf had only been able to make a dent in the flesh of the cheif before in a much thinner part of the muscle, in the flesh offered to the Paladin now this would be but the scratch of another failed hero who left a scar on the cheif, the cheif readied to follow up with a death blow.

The opportunity never came.

It was in the moment just before the blade was about to make contact with the flesh of the orc that it happened, there was a bright flash on the battlefield and Gil's sword was imbued with light and the blade almost doubled in size as it was sheathed in the blade light it channeled. The blade of light that radiated extended the blades width to two feet and the length of the sword to almost nine feet. The blade of pure energy cut through the forearm of the cheif, the blade continued along its path. The light had no weight to it, the skin and muscle of the cheif offered no resistance to the blade with the added weight of the steel behind the swing. The orc cheiften lay in two clean parts the energy of the blade of light ad seared both halves shut, the smell of cooked meat was in the air as the halves sizzled.

The horde that cheered for his death was stunned he looked to them speaking in common tongue. He wiped blood from his mouth.

"All see the might of The All Father and fall to your knees in prayer! His light is with us, even in the darkest hours, there is a spark of his light within us. Let your spark open and burst into a sun so that his light might flow through you still. Be gone this day and change your ways, or your spark will meet The All Father just as his did today."
 
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Kiros Rahnel

Pneria's Prophet
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These were not soldiers. Well, as far as he would define 'soldier' they clearly were, yet they had made it aggressively clear that he ought not ever refer to them as such. No, these were Marines, and the distinction between the two remained entirely lost upon him. Travel over water was an integral but apparently unnecessary part of the difference, considering their travel by land. The only further enlightenment gained from the troops was that the army 'was for wimps'; or so he had best paraphrased the facetious and profanity-laden statement.

Readied in stance and scanning the scene before him, Kiros watched on with attention towards the battle. The ground behind it was littered with the bodies of orcs felled by the blades of the Marines and Erën, with whom he shared a look from his own position behind the curtain and corpse of the orc. Ever grateful that he had the aid of so many valiant others with him, he returned Erën’s glance with a solemn nod of acknowledgement. Attention turned next to an odd, unprompted statement from the boy.

“Seventeen?” Kiros responded quizzically. He looked to Sardrun in attempt to interpret the meaning of the odd utterance for a moment, before he dismissed it as just that. It was not warning; from the tone, it was likely little more than the boy thinking aloud. Nonetheless, it was good that he was speaking something, gods know he’s been through a lot. To that end, it seemed all the better that the subject was a distant one from the grisly scene before them.

“Seventeen what, child?” Kiros inquired in attempt to get Sardrun to continue the train of thought. He hadn’t known what bid the lad’s curiosity, nor did it matter in the slightest – so long as the topic wasn’t one of bloodshed or danger. From his expression, the boy seemed to remain justifiably shaken – but at least something was a distraction from the tense battle. Kiros was a healer of physical wounds, but for wellness of mind there was no arcane solution; only his own fret and open ear.

The commotion to the right of the forward line caught his attention with the arrival of yet another. He sure sounded like the dwarves, though not by accent but by bluntness of statement. It was further aid they were in such need of – yet there seemed something disturbing about his presence. Kiros could neither determine what that was nor why such would be so, and the startling sight of leaping orcs passing over the front lines caused him to promptly dismiss the notion as erroneous paranoia.

From behind the curtain, one such orc landed and looked to him with a glare and the severed head of his recent kill held in his hand. His face was contorted into hideous war grimace in attempt to intimidate. Kiros leered back with eyes that bore witness to sights far worse, and a gaze that belied neither fear nor concern. He had faced down a fire elemental, traversed a land of gigantic monstrosities, and endured the threat of Andekhah and her numerous, ugly spawn. He had looked into hateful eyes of Itra Herself, and witnessed Her sentence one to a fate so cruel that it made brutal death blessing by comparison. Oh, there were far worse fates to suffer beyond simple death, and the very worst this orcish brute would do is kill him outright. Annuakat would have seen him flayed alive. At least if he died here today, it would be among brave allies who would undoubtedly honour him for the sacrifice, not jeering citizens denouncing him as deserving of the torment.

The hulking chief then threw the head forth, with what blood that remained flung out in spurts. Upon striking the curtain it's flowing light shifted in reaction, illuminating it and the ground by the soft flash of light given. The severed head itself was brought to a stop by the billowing barrier of light, before bouncing back off in the direction from whence it came. That it rebounded redundant sign that whatever life formerly held was considered gone between the time of her decapitation and the orc’s taunting gesture.

“We ought seek new ground; your continued protection requires it!” Kiros announced to Sardrun with a hand upon his shoulder, already guiding the boy away from where they once stood. The glowing barrier of light both held the oncoming orcs back, and encouraged their arrival by its very presence. The spell was effective in its purpose to protect, but its noticeable brightness served as a beacon that granted their enemy awareness of their position. More and more arrived; some daring enough to use the shifting curtain to catch themselves, often quite successfully, as they soared through the air. But all magic holds duration, and that of his luminant curtain was noticeably brief; the light bathing the scene would vanish as the curtain quickly dissolved from existence.

He had to get him to safety, but where to take him? As he surveyed the scene around him, it was naught but chaos. If there was safety to be had now, its location was far from evident. So he simply picked a direction – any looked as good as any other – and guided Sardrun upon it. All around was the dreadful sound of orcs slamming upon the earth; sight of one descending upon them from the skies struck him with surprised fear. An arm moved to shield the boy while his other held his quarterstaff upright, steel base braced against the ground. As the howling orc plummeted atop them Kiros crouched down low, guarding Sardrun with his body while keeping the staff aimed up high. Efforts paid off, and the orc was made to land with his centre of mass upon the blunt, brass end of the polearm. The axe held in the orc’s hand sliced his arm; at once blood steadily poured from the open wound it caused, adrenaline ushering away any pain it may have otherwise brought.

His grip on his staff remained firm as the brute bounced off it and over them both to land in a heap behind the two. Despite the painful blow withstood, the orc began to recover and return to his feet with alacrity; Kiros would not allow the opportunity to slay him slip. He swung his quarterstaff as a cudgel, and the bronze symbol atop impacted the side of his head with a grisly crunch. The staff struck with such force that the orc's cheekbone collapsed with a sickening snap of bone, his lifeless eye bulged from the resulting collapsed socket.

With the orc reduced to yet another corpse among many littering the battlefield, Kiros made a hasty check on the safety of Sardrun. Finding him unharmed, if not shaken, he continued to guide him through the fray while more orcish warriors struck the ground all around. To find a position of safety within this chaos seemed impossible task, yet he persevered in his efforts to both protect the boy and guide him through to wherever the line held at its most steadfast.
 
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Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

The Broken Sword
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"Better men..."


Orcs.

For a great many years, Erën had failed to see many, if any, redeeming qualities in their sort. He thought them a primitive and scornful people, blind in their lust to do harm and spill blood. Brutes. Animals. Lesser. But this changed when his plight was shared with one who descended from these people, if only partly. The assassin, Duresh. The two had been labeled criminals - murderers - and together they uncovered the terrible truth behind the foul deed. And while on their way there came a happening, a moment of uncertainty and perhaps even... weakness. And Erën nearly took the life of an innocence, however justified it might have seemed. But he, the assassin, he born of brutish blood, stopped him. Uttered the words.

And Erën remembered.

This had inspired him to defend Belgrath.

This had inspired him to see differently.

But now, here in this hollow, faced with these foes, he recalled his farther thoughts. These were the orc that deserved his scrutiny, and intolerance. These orc were without honour, or dignity, or peace. And so from him, they too would be offered none.

Erën's eyes turned, and looked upon the chieftain who had flung himself past the line, and honed in on the growing display of his magic. And with him, several others threw themselves over, and sought to assemble themselves around the marines, even as the line was bolstered by the captain's shouts, and the rusted warriors intervention. The orcs may have managed some cunning, using themselves as weaponry, but they were only so bright. While they may have garnered themselves the reprieve of dealing with the dwarves, they now had him to contend with.

As the chieftain charged, Gil'Tyrnin intercepted him, and the self proclaimed High Elf stole away the chieftain's attention and allowed Erën a brief moment of assessment. Dal made way to Heike's aid, and was successful in rescuing her from a suffocating death. Kiros, behind the waning protection of his shield, ferried the young dwarf further away to safety. And then another, the one who had rained death from far behind, riding a horned mount, charged into the fray. Then his mount was slain, and fell with rider still atop it. He saw several encroaching orcs come near to the grounded warrior, and they fell as he fought even while he was pinned. And all the while, the dwarves adjusted their formation, and indeed seemed to strengthen their position...

He was quick, almost like a blur through the mass of shifting frames. Low he dropped, and then up, onto, and over the fallen horned mount he bounded. His sword cut through the air, and a crackling arc followed in its wake. It passed through flesh and steel, and horrid cries came from orcish lungs. As quickly as they had come, the orcs that encroached around Tarathrieal fell, and several dwarves following after Erën's charge came to the aid of their ally, wrenching the warrior's fallen mount from atop him. And Erën, with the aid of some of them, held the orcs at bay, and slew them, and pushed them. There was brilliance in his step, and it was clear that death was something dealt easily by his hand. Paired with the tactical prowess that had been brought to the table and organized the marines, he undid much of what the orcs tried to accomplish so far in hurling themselves overhead, and slew them with righteous malice wherever they crossed him.

And still his magic grew, empowering him still, and preparing to come forth.

With it, he intended to decimate a line clear through the charging orcs, which now, with the chieftain undone by Gil'Tyrnin's blade, would undoubtedly shatter their already crumbling resolve.

He needed only a few more moments...


 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Butcher of Alliria
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The orcs again and again slammed and clattered against the shield wall, again and again the shield wall held and inflicted casualties on the berserks. This was gradually wearing down on the orcish forces. If the wall held the odds were victory by attrition. Cauldwin stabbed and thrusted into the waning green horde again and again with his greatblade, soaking the shining blade in the dark gunky blood of the berserkers.

An orc painted in violet warpaint reached the front, his legs be rended beneath him and causing the painted orc to fall in a lunge on top of the edge of Cauldwin's commandeered shield. The dwarven warriors remained tied down with holding the wall, and the mercenaries weapons remained just our of reach, cauldwin held the weight of the stubborn orc as it roared a few choice words in his face, "ERGO GRA SHRA! (TO GLORY)" the orcs flesh began to bubble and swell, his eyes burst, and lightly glowing violet scrawling became visible on his flesh.

He was going to explode.

Cauldwin entered a bloodrage at this, black miasma began to pour out the eye holes in his vissageless helm and various crevices in his armor. He pulled his sword behind the formation raised the pommel above the orcs' head and brought the pommel down on its skull again, hammering its skull onto the top edge of shield. The orc died almost instantly but the living bomb continued expand grotesquely... and now it was stuck on his shield.

He gathered what strength and rage he could, taking in hard and harsh breaths in preparation for the next move. He began yelling a semi-panicked deep roar of one with a bomb attached to them, "GRRUGH!-GRAAAAAHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!", as he shot forward into the horde. He sent orcs flying with the force behind the charge and crushed those beneath his iron boots, as he rushed as far as he could manage to get from the shield wall. He wouldn't get more than about twenty-yards before

BOOOOOM

The bloody, glowing, pulsating, tumorous mass that had been attached to his shield exploded in to violent force and red mist. This ripped apart any unarmored living thing within a twenty meter radius. The force was enough to rend flesh and rupture bone even through plates. Suffice to say The shield was no more, Cauldwin himself was left in a state of shock, ruptured organs, torn muscles, and fractured bones in a small crater at the epicenter of the blast. The barley visible suit of rusted armor lay completely inert. His sword had been lodged deep in the earth besides him, the black acidic tar that was his blood pooling slowly around him.

As for the enemy horde, a significant portion of the comparably lightly armored right half had been either torn to ribbons by the blast or otherwise completely incapacitated. The shield wall would be just outside of the blast radius but it was likely that bits of flesh, metal, bone, and stone would come flying at the shield wall and the surrounding orcs not caught in the initial explosion.

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

Kiros Rahnel

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest

Tarathrieal

Dal

Heike Eisen

 

Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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Captain Grunni was not a dwarf, or even a commander for that matter, burdened with excessive pride. He was not a leader who turned a deaf ear to those who were subordinate to him, nor to those outside of his command. He kept cognizance of the hard fact that he might not have all the answers, or that his position on the field might have him in a blindspot. So, over the calamity of the frontline battle and the crashing of the leaping orcs into the formation, Captain Grunni listened to the paladin Gil. Gave him a rough, Marine's response, but recognized the merit of his tactical idea for the wedge and the crescent, and the necessity of ceding ground on account of the piles of bodies mounting up (these piles providing the orcs, as well, with launching points for their incredible leaps into the fray).

And the formation, through some significant struggle amidst the assault of the leaping orcs, was changed, and with devastating effect.

* * * * *​

The orcs were now suffering massive casualties. Their ploy of tossing themselves directly into and beyond the Marines' formation caused damage to the dwarves, yes, racked up casualties and fatalities among the Arragoth, yes, but it was far more costly for the side of the Blightlands. Yet they were fanatical.

Fanatical, at least, at the very start of the battle. Fanatical when they were surrounded by dozens upon dozens upon dozens of their fervent, bloodthirsty, devoted kin. But as their numbers waned, so too did that fanaticism, as if the bodies of their fallen kin were accruing a manner of deepening psychic damage upon the collective will of the horde.

Then came the rear charge of Askaris, attacking those orcs who had themselves been trying to attack the rear of the Marines' formation.

Then came the fall of one of their Chiefs, and Gil's challenging declaration.

Then came the backfiring of their Glorious Suicider, driven back into the mass of orcs by Cauldwin before his explosion and therefore resulting in more catastrophic losses.

Then came the growing intensity of the magical gleam of Eren'thiel's swords, with no Purgers present to undo and counter this magic.

The Blight Orcs continued to fight, but their savagery, their intensity, their bellows, these were beginning to shift from genuine to bravado. Performative, driven solely by the fear of being the first to flee, to be seen as weak by their peers.

But even that fear could be overcome. The morale of the Blight Orcs was strained. Cracking, but not quite shattered yet.

* * * * *​

Sardrun blinked. Couldn't voice the answer to Kiros's inquiry about seventeen of what, even though his face betrayed that he wanted to. He loved talking about his passion for building things, for playing with numbers and formulas, for measuring things, for all the tools associated with these activities, but he just couldn't. The scared child in him would not allow it.

He was staring at the Ranger's severed head. Her eyes, open, seemingly staring at a point just beyond Sardrun's left shoulder. Other adventurer auxiliaries were being slain by the orcs who had leaped far enough to make it to the backline, but...this sight was horrifying.

The Ranger was a human. But she had his mother's eyes. That sea blue.

It only just registered for him. His mother had been taken with him to Ungbarroud. And Sardrun had just...assured himself that the Marines were mistaken. That he wasn't the sole survivor of the slaves. That she'd gotten out.

Sardrun, the dwarven boy so young that he'd not yet a single hair of a beard upon his face, could not speak. His hand, as if moving all on its own, wiped at his wet cheeks, and elsewise he was as a statue.

We ought seek new ground; your continued protection requires it!

His body responded to Kiros's touch, moving and running even as his mind was paralyzed. Straight back they went, further down the draw with its enclosing cliff-walls, towards the pack mules far behind the formation. Kiros had to fend off a leaping orc with his quarterstaff, and all the while Sardrun watched, eyes shifting with glassed sorrow from Kiros to the orc and back, as if they were seeing people and things other than the fight between the priest and the savage. A swift crack to the orc's cheekbone and he was down, and Kiros took Sardrun's hand once more, and once more his legs moved even as is mind was elsewhere.

Then landed smoothly a Javelineer behind the Marines' formation. The dwarves and the adventurers were all too caught up in their own struggles, and the Javelineer turned his sights onto the prize: the retreating slave and that human priest. Victory was all that mattered, and Menalus would be pleased to know that his clan had been the ones to slay the sole survivor of Ungbarroud. And it would be known: None could escape the wrath of the Blightlands.

The Javelineer held aloft his javelin. Got a running start.

And threw it fiercely toward Kiros and Sardrun, aiming for the boy.

* * * * *​

Darkness. Suffocation.

And then a burst of sunlight and air as the huge orc on top of her was thrown off by Dal. A deep, mighty gasp from Heike, drawing in as much breath as she could now that the crushing weight was off of her. She shook her head and blinked, trying to keep some of the Blight Orc's saliva that had dripped in through her visor from getting into her eyes. Ugh, if only she had a moment to take off her helm and her gauntlet and wipe that filth away!

Heike reached up and accepted Dal's help, grateful to be clasping hands with a friend instead of fighting off the probing dagger of an enemy. She glanced about, found her longsword on the ground, bent and retrieved it, and cast a quick glance over the Marines' formation--they'd backed up and reassembled into a wedge from what she could tell. Corpses lay strewn everywhere about the old position of the front line, and still the orcs were attempting to leap headlong into the dwarven unit. (And there was, in this quick glance, the sight of Cauldwin, which stilled Heike's heart with uncertainty for a second; they were not on the friendliest of terms with one another.)

More to do still, said Dal, that characteristic deep and guttural tone in his voice. An orcish tone, and in hearing it did Heike feel immediately sympathetic. In some way it had to be hard for Dal to be here, to defend the honor of orcs all Arethil over, who lived their lives in goodness and in peace, against the besmirching existence of these malevolent Blight Orcs. For all the suffering that Jürgen Kaiser had caused, that which she knew about and that which she did not, Heike felt a deep pain and anger that he had through these wicked acts tarnished the name of Reikhurst and what it was to be Reikhurstan. Thus, the duty to take care of her own, to see justice delivered and the scales righted by the False King Jürgen's execution. Perhaps Dal felt similarly of the foes they faced now.

"Yes, I'm alright. Thank you, Dal. I shall endeavor to return--"

A glimpse. Something moving. Charging. The orc, who'd been kicked out of the way by Dal. He didn't hear the orc coming. Heike sprang into action, arms guided through her training and experience. A slash to the orc's abdomen, beneath his raised weapon, and as the orc buckled a cut into his neck, her blade halfway through, stopped by the spine, and dragged out with a spray of blood. The orc fell.

"--the favor!" Heike said, her voice mirthful and excited. How fitting! The timing of that orc's interloping had just tickled her sense of humor, and she let out a small bit of laughter. Battle, she knew, often did this, where the strings of emotions were pulled so taut so as to become frayed and crying out for relief, where death brushed so close and so often to you whether you were aware of it or not, that brief sparks of levity came and went spontaneously, like beautiful little reminders that you were alive, yes, still alive.

She cleared her throat. Composed herself. The BOOM from the Glorious Suicider pushed back by Cauldwin shook the ground and rattled the ranks of the orcs who were not slain immediately in the blast. And as those still living orcs were regrouping, Heike turned her attention from them back to the Marines' formation. Saw Erën with his swords, the weapons channeling in growing magical power; she had seen him and some of what he could do firsthand back in Gorinsbin. The orcs were reeling from the Suicider's blast, and this could knock them down for good.

"Dal! To Erën! We will buy him time and space!" And she started back through the formation, the Marines' in highly disciplined fashion opening and closing their ranks to seamlessly allow them through.

And Heike knew of someone else with formidable magic--another elf as it so happened--who could likewise be given time and space to unleash all that he could upon the remains of the horde. To shatter their morale.

"Gil!" Heike called out as she ran amongst the Marines. "To Erën! Attack together!"

Arriving beside Erën (and who was this adventurer, trapped beneath the ram?), Heike gave him a firm nod. Turned and stanced herself defensively, facing those reckless orcs whose astounding leaps had sent them vaulting over the Marines' formation and close enough to threaten the backline. She fought efficiently, with her mind on simply keeping them back from Erën and perhaps Gil, allowing them to gather their magic and concentrate to the fullest.

This could be it.

Dal Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest Kiros Rahnel Tarathrieal Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr Eren'thiel Xyrdithas
 

Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest

Paladin of Sol'nityr
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Gil locked eyes with a set of berserker, they did not run with the others who had cheered for his demise, they would make themselves heroes among their people, they would be the ones that had slayed the cheiften slayer. They charged him his weapon still blazing with light, he swung his blade on the horizontal, the blade of energy tore through one, the other went low below the path of the blade. He hurled he his swings bringing both axes to Gil's now exposed left side. Gil pulled from a disk of light that had appeared, from it he pulled a sword of light held downward towards the orc, it found its home in the neck of the orc, the muscles of the orc gave way as the lights of his eyes were extinguished. His axes slowed and slapped into his plate with misguided glancing blows.

BOOM

Gil had heard the bomb since it had been activated, he was not surprised when it blew, he was surprised to see that Cauldwin was nowhere to be seen and a crater had been left in the middle of the orcish front. The light that sheathed his massive blade dissipated and he sheathed it behind him once more from a disk of light he pulled what appeared to be a Warhammer made of pure light energy. He wielded the massive hammer in one hand the other still occupied by the blade of light that was summoned before. Sickening cracks were heard as he fought his way towards where Cauldwin had last been seen. He had a very mixed relationship to the undead, on one hand he pitied him, his spark stuck in undeath, as a warrior Cauldwin had his respect. Respect in which many else here more than earned today. In his younger days he was more arrogant and prideful, he still had pride but it now was in his faith, in serving Sol'Nityr. Skulls cracked and bones smashed against the hammer sending sickening cracks on the battlefield those not fortunate enough to be killed instantly were given mercy from the blade of light. One orc who's leg had been shattered caught the blade in the stomach between his abdomen the blade ripper up through its body exiting through the top of the head the orcs two split top halves were burnt shut no blood ran from them.

On his way to check on Cauldwin he heard his name being called by the knight Heike Eisen, he hesitated a moment looking over the shield wall to the carnage of the explosion still not able to see Cauldwin, he growled and grunted and then abandoned pursuit of Cauldwin.

He fell back to regroup with the auxiliaries, he allowed his weapons to dissipate as he reached them. Seeing the other Elf who had been laying down cover fire for them he reached through a disk of of light pulling a great shield of light it beared no weight but as axe hit the shield the steel melted and the shafts caught flame. The fire spread quickly like divine wrath. It traveled down to the hand of the orc igniting his flesh, in panic the orc fled ablaze back into the enemy ranks, orc after orc began to catch blaze running wildly about the battlefield further weakening resolve.

He looked down to the smaller Elf who had had his leg crushed by his massive beast. He reached down placing a gauntleted hand on his shoulder, Gil glowed a light radiated from him. A rush of magic flowed through him into Tarathrieal. Any physical damage that may have been caused to the man would be instantly healed, the Elf would have felt anew as if nothing had happened the stress and strain of the battle erased from his body, alas though even divine power could not heal the mind and the emotional pain of losing his steed.

He readied himself a spear of light pulled from a disk beside him. He braced for what ever Eren had under his sleeve, his own spark bursting with light magic swelling in him. As the remainder of the orcish horde closed in around them pushing them back into the side of the cliff, disk after disk after disk of light began to form behind them from above, tips of spears and swords and axes of all shapes and sizes began to peak from the disks, still more and more were seen as if they were an organism multiplying over and over. The weapons of light began to fly from their disks, as soon as a disk vanished expelling its weapon another two took their place expelling what would have seemed like an endless stream of destruction. The horde taking casualty after casualty the sickening smell of burning flesh filling the battlefield. Still more orcs those lucky enough to be spared from the light that rained death upon this very field of slaughter moved in for one last push for victory. Gil braced himself, he still had the divine shield to summon, he could also still summon the full might of Sol'Nityr if needed. Somehow though he had a feeling they would not be needed, he felt the magic welling inside of Eren, he felt it grow as the battle wore on.


Dal
Kiros Rahnel
Eren'thiel Xyrdithas
Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
Tarathrieal
Heike Eisen
 
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Dal

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Blood streaked down Dal's armour as if the suit itself was weeping heavy tears down the silver of the plate. As the blood eddied and collected at the edges of points of articulation Dal turned to witness the knight-valiant deliver death upon the field in his defense. A foe that would have cut me down while my back was turned, Dal thought, his teeth grinding at the thought that he had left himself so exposed to an attack in all the commotion. I haven't survived for so long by making such a foolish mistake, to let my guard down for a brief chat on the field of battle, to gather myself from such exertion, Dal thought.

He breathed heavy and saw another aspect of this moment. The fact that someone competent literally had his back. It was a rare feeling for Dal. He wasn't quite sure how to digest the fact. War was no stranger to Dal, indeed it had been a common friend in one form or another from his time in mercenary companies, but finding good help that delighted itself in repaying an act of solidarity on the field? That was. Sellswords concerned themselves with loyalty to their paymasters and survival, not this emboldened spirit of combat. Certainly mercenary companies he had served with formed bonds. It was inevitable. But they didn't act as this one did. There was something different.

At this, horrible memories of his first encounter with those who had chosen the path of knights shook him for a moment. Memories of hurling throwing axes, of taking the knights prisoner, of witnessing the butchering of ones so steadfast in their ways of combat. He had been sixteen. He was in charge of feeding them during their brief captivity before they were killed in the fighting pits. Some words had passed between himself and the knights. An attempt on his life also.

Despite this attack upon him, perhaps because of it, the knights had made a permanent impression upon him, their defiance, their tenacity, their refusal to engage in fear, their prowess and comradery.

And now I fight side by side by a knight Dal thought as he felt the fatigue from his exertions leave him. He had been given reprieve, and was so ready to fight on. Calmly this time, Dal thought, survival in such heated combat must be done calmly against this savage foe. I can't expend so much energy again, Dal thought, and Heike has better things to do than to look after my attackers once again. Better things like giving out orders and commanding this battle perhaps.

Blood trickled down to Dal's sabatons as he considered the next action. His thoughts were interrupted as a booming sound shook the ground. Dal couldn't see the source of the explosion from where he was standing and from within his armour. Others would handle whatever that was. Dal had one primary concern. The knight-valiant's well being. The day would be carried if she was able to muster the forces gathered, to guide them and direct them. Or at least this was the thought that kept Dal centred amongst this chaos. Dal had faith in this much and listened to her instruction. To Eren it was then.

Eren. Dal wasn't sure on how to assist such a titan of combat, but then, these were endless numbers of foes and no-one could stand against such waves forever alone. Perhaps there was greater magic to still be brought to the fore, Dal thought to himself as he began to run at a brisk pace behind Heike. The dwarves moved as a flock of birds flying in formation in the air, allowing them to pass. Excellent, Dal thought, such an elegant and efficient movement of soldiers. It was to be admired. There was no colliding of bodies as they tried to form up places and no infighting or confusion. He knew the disarray that could soon rule, especially without musicians and chain of command. But these dwarves had superb training and discipline, these were marines. As the formations moved to allow them passage, Dal considered Eren.

Dal didn't have a firm grasp on exactly what was going on in this combat, he had been focused on his own acts of butchery, upon aiding Heike in her time of need. But he knew Eren was a force to be reckoned with, not that Dal had been afforded the time or oppertunity to see his deeds in this engagement. Dal knew that a great deal of elves chose peace and harmony. They lurked in trees and made their lives long and rewarding in whatever way they fit. But the ones who chose war? By the god of murder, Dal thought as he heard his armour give out the assuring jostle of steel against steel, they knew how to bring death in devastating measure.

Dal approached with Heike and readied his weapon. An unusual sight greeted Dal by way of the cavalryman being pinned by his own bloodied animal. Dal refused to assist him directly after his own efforts to assist Heike left him cautious of dropping his guard to offer aid. Instead, Dal strode confidently forward, and as he did so, longsword in hand, he saw Gil offer assistance to the downed calvaryman. Good, Dal thought. That allows me time and space to operate. Dal took the fight to the enemy and allowed some space to exist between the three elves and their efforts to carry the day in their own way.

How to approach this next stage of combat, Dal wondered for a moment, his gauntlets gripping his longsword tightly, the point of which gleamed viciously as it turned from foe to foe who lurked about and surged towards him.

Dal considered offering a challenge to the orcs in orcish. The notion appealed to his sense of violence, to bring out the enemy. But instead, a cold calculating attitude replaced it, he remained silent and focused on doling out wicked strikes with his longsword. He kept good measure from himself and his foes, taking on those who charged forward with expert footwork that granted the half-orc space to operate and cut his foes down. Few got near enough to harm him.

The rune upon the blade was giving Dal the edge in his engagements. Wounds that would graze or just bloody the flesh gouged deeper at the insistence of the dwarven magic. And what was more, Dal was becoming accustomed to the additional power so recently bestowed upon him and was allowing his combat style to become more calm and precise, more distant and safe due to it. Dal moved from stance to stance, cutting, cleaving, disarming, disengaging and reappearing into the fight where he was needed. Soon he was being forced to fight more brutally, to bring himself closer to the foe, to put more power into his defenses and reposts. Such as it was, Dal thought, when the enemy pressures while you're trying to defend someone.

Dal knew he could be a champion when the situation demanded it. He could step into an open field and fight the best of the best in single combat. But this was not that kind of battle. The Blight orcs just had to be held off until those with far more ability to deliver death through magical means could provide their insistence of winning the day through overwhelming firepower. And so it was, as weapons of light did careen and crash into the enemy from Gil's own impressive magic. Dal was glad it wasn't simply brute strength that was being brought against these orcs, the day might not be carried had that been the primary tactic. But instead, Dal felt the exhilaration of knowing that so long as he stood and did his job, the magic users might forge a true path to victory here.

Just hold on, Dal thought as he brought his sword down upon another foe, just keep killing and maintaining this level of violence. The others shall perform their tasks. I must perform mine.

More blood splattered and gushed out onto the warrior's armour as he committed to more killing strokes that dismembered and carved sanguine sweeps of steel of the air. The banner upon his back was soaked in blood, no trace of blue remained upon the surface as the half-orc delivered cut after cut to his kindred without fear, hesitance or remorse. Just keep killing and others shall deliver the true blow to this horde, Dal thought as he heard the blood crash down upon him from severed limbs and cleaved orcish trunks.

It seems my prayers are being answered, Dal thought with a wicked smile.

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas Kiros Rahnel Gil'Tyrnin Solcrest Tarathrieal Heike Eisen Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 

Kiros Rahnel

Pneria's Prophet
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In wait for response, he had looked to Sardrun, sensing almost a glimmer of inquisitive thought beneath his frightened expression. Alas, whatever was on the boy’s mind would not be vocalized. Once his attention turned back from the orc’s attempt at intimidation, Kiros found that glimmer gone – only frightened grief remained in its stead.

His gaze searched for location that would afford better protection and security. They were clearly a prized target to the reckless orcish horde, and he had but a brief window of time to search for safety. Off in the distance he spied such a location towards the edge of the line, where the Marines held stalwart position. A snap decision was required and so one was made, and Kiros opted to take Sardrun towards it.

He gave immediate pause at the sight and sound of a sudden explosion some distance away. It came from the front line, ahead of where they were venturing towards. On witnessing the destruction wrought by the orc Cauldwin had engaged, Kiros dropped his belief that their destination would provide safety. Red mist obscured his vision of the scene, and he held no clue as to whether the winds had been stained with the blood of ally or foe. He was headed to the rear line, but if the Marines had been the primary casualties of the explosion the line ahead would fall – and then both he and Sardrun would find themselves vulnerable without its protection.

Without time to confirm his fears, he chose to travel closer to the centre of the rear line instead. It seemed the next best option to take, with the state of his former in such doubt. Rushing on with as much speed and silence as he could, they gained little attention during the reroute. Only that of an orc, who was promptly slain by the axe of a Marine during his moment of distraction. Kiros continued to press on and guide Sardrun towards the perceived location of safety.

“Shift the formation! Move rearward!” The boomed words were distant but audible, spoken with authority by the dwarven commanders.

A decision no doubt strategic in intent, it came at an unfortunate time for the two. The intended manoeuvre threw the rear line further, placing his quest to safeguard Sardrun into further peril. They had almost made it to secure ground only to see the formation before him shift away. Knowing not what else to do he simply continued on and scrambled ahead for the additional distance , praying to naught but his own fortune that they might close it before becoming target of yet another orc.

The telltale thud of a great weight striking the ground behind them caught his attention after only a few further steps. He turned around to check and became intermediately aware that situation had grown even more grim. A charging orc with javelin in hand had landed , and was now rushing towards them with his arm wound back and ready to hurl the projectile. Sardrun, still scrambling behind and between both Kiros and the orc, was his likely target. Kiros found himself with minimal time to react.

He could not place himself between the javeliner and the boy in time: the distance was too great, and the moment of potential intervention too brief. Not even another luminant curtain could be cast in time to reliably stop the javelin once loosed. There was but one other incantation that might save the boy, but Kiros held far less faith in it. He only dared resort to it in times of great need, of which the present surely qualified as.

“Keep your eyes forward!” He shouted, hoping desperately that Sardrun would heed the warning.

He then brought the staff forward while he doubled back towards him, bringing the brass head of behind him with care. The orc hurtled the javelin that very moment, and Kiros’ attention remained fixated upon it. As it soared through the air in menacing trajectory towards Sardrun, he invoked his Luminant Flash in attempted intervention.

Upon casting, the brass symbol erupted with light of brightness that rivalled a bolt of lightning in magnitude. His world went white before falling into darkness immediately after, his vision falling casualty to the spell’s effect. The concussive portion of the invoked spell struck the javelin from the side with sharp ‘thwack’, giving the blinded Kiros hope that his desperate plan had worked, and the javelin had been deflected enough to spare the boy.

Confirmation would come in the form of sudden pain in Kiros’ hip as the javelin pierced through his robes and flesh. It had just barely missed the boy by a few hairs width. The momentum behind the strike caused him to spin around and land on his back while the hurried footsteps of Sardrun approached. Scarcely able to see, the direction he was running towards was the only given clue as to the whereabouts of the dwarves, and safety.

The boy made steady pace and did not seem to stumble – another good sign, telling him that he at least retained the ability to see. He pulled the javelin free from his hip, clenching his teeth through the pain it caused before he rose to follow in a hurry. But no sooner did he rise than he stumbled back towards the ground again, discovering the javelin had torn through muscle and rendered the leg beneath lame and useless.

...And to his horror, the boy’s scrambling footsteps began to slow ahead of him.

“Keep going! To the Marines! Run!”
Kiros cried out in direction towards Sardrun. Not bothering to attempt another return to his feet, he crawled on as the boy promptly resumed his run to safety. As his hurried footsteps grew more distant, that of the orc’s audibly gained ground behind him.

Kiros continued as best he could. With the orc so close, he’d risk no precious time to cast; his blessings would take far too long. His curtain might buy him seconds, but might also delay aid for the same duration it bought as it had done before.

Blinded, barely ambulant, and with the orc closing distance fast, Kiros found himself without answer. He abandoned his attempt at escape and turned to sit atop the ground, staff blindly pointed in the orc’s direction to put up what desperate defence he might be able to put forth.

Fearful for his life, and hopeful for Sardrun’s.
 

Tarathrieal

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Askaris had fought for every inch, knowing that death was coming. He didn't fear it, it wasn't something a hundred years on the battlefield would allow - but even one unafraid of death had no great desire to experience it. When the dervish of magic and mastery that was Erën descended upon those that surrounded him the grizzled mercenary commander wondered in part if this wasn't some sick trick of the afterlife; only his earlier glimpses of the near peerless Elven warrior had granted him the clarity he needed.

Dwarves pulled hard at Ankylo's fallen body, freeing his mangled legs - Askaris looked down at them with a mixture of dread and acceptance at the reality of it all. The reality didn't last long - as it rarely did when around those who channeled the divine. For the other Elf, the one which channeled the unknown laid a hand on him; and with it Askaris watched as the light poured over him like dammed water finally free from it's confines. It snaked across his damaged legs, stitching shattered bone and twisting horrendously bent ankles into their proper place. The sensation was surreal, bordering on euphoric - it was how Askaris imagined drug addicts felt on their first hit of something truly mind altering.

Askaris shuddered as the weight of his pain and fatigue shed from his body like sweat. He stood gingerly, expecting his once mangled legs to give out; but they did not.

"Run!"

Askaris heard a voice call, his massive ears and his experience in the chaos of a melee allowing him to pin point it's location. No time to gawk at his recovery, to offer thanks to his saviors; to marvel at the turns and twists of the incomprehensible weave of magic the Paladin and Erën meant to unleash on their enemy.

Work called.

Askaris ripped the bow from the saddle of his fallen companion, climbing his once closet friend to get a better vantage of the battlefield his relatively short height did not allow. A pair of arrows were drawn from the saddle quiver, both knocked against the taught string.

A sharp inhale, a closing of one eye to abandon any idea of the peripheral.

The massive draw weight string quivered against the weight of the two massive, armor piercing arrows; Askaris own sharp grunt the only sound of his struggle against it's ludicrous resistance. Once he reached the zenith of it's draw he loosed almost instantly - knowing his aim was true.

The arrows streaked through the air the first arrow struck true, slamming into the sternum of the massive orc and punching through him with such velocity it almost didn't seem to effect the charging brute.

The second arrow slammed into his forehead, imparting such force it picked him up off his feet and sent him tumbling; his charge ended in a pathetic backward fall which left him crumpled like a discarded pile of clothing and useless flesh. The boy and his protector saved Askaris added the 'thump' of his arrows to the cacophony of slaughter which turned this narrow pass into a river of rent flesh and burnt blood.
 
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Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

The Broken Sword
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The very ground shook with the sacrifical act, a gruesome and terrible display...

If the rusted warrior was indeed undone by it, then vengeance was vowed in short order.



There was a brief shock that flashed across his face... and then disgust.

Vile beasts.


"Dal! To Erën! We will buy him time and space!"

"Gil!" Heike called out as she ran amongst the Marines. "To Erën! Attack together!"


It was easy to expect such valour from Heike. Even before, when she'd been so obviously and terribly afflicted, she had shown herself to be one of honour. There, in those dark caves, crossing blades with those she rightfully should have joined - but did not, even coming to his direct aid. He expected valiance, but a rallying call?

Truly she had been changed, truly she was different...

And for a moment, his thoughts drifted to her, his Elliasandre... And in the midst of the anguish her image brought him, there was now something else...



As any paladin worth their title, Gil was quick to render aid to the wounded newcomer, Askaris. And he, finding newfound strength in his limbs, gave thanks by immediately throwing himself back into the fray. With the arrival of Dal and Heike, he was allowed yet another momentary reprieve...

Erën cast his eyes out to the rabbling masses of orcs. Their numbers had dwindled, yes, but now they now also struggled to advance around the newly formed crater. This forced the orcs to funnel themselves even more, or traverse through the crater which would inevitably be more taxing than it was worth. The dwarves position and formation, if Erën's experience had any merit, had at this point solidified that they would at least outlast the barbaric tactics of their enemies this day. It was Sandrun's fate (or perhaps moreso Kiros') that was ultimately not so certain now. Hopefully... he could succeed in what he meant to do.

By no means did Erën delude himself, or seek to delude any others, into believing that he was preparing to slay them all in one fell swoop. That was well beyond him. But perhaps, if he could rack up one last great tally against them, they would abandon their task...

He started forward.

He shouted ahead.

Marines parted, allowing him through.

Nearer to the crushing front now, an aura took shape around him.

And he leapt. Far, and high.

The glimmering sword reached up into the sky, and vigorously now it crackled with light. Now, well ahead of the line and overhead of the orcs, as he quickly fell upon them he brought his sword down with vengeance in his hand and malice in his heart.


C r a c k !


From the sky lightning descended, as any natural display, but it came far more vibrantly and persisted far longer. It was fueled by no storm cloud, but summoned through Erën's magic alone. In its presence, with its light so brilliant, everything else seemed to dim. It came upon him, and was gathered and channeled through the sword, and sprang from it, swirling and crackling in a concentrated yet still erratic display. As it fell upon the ground and the orcs there upon it, it gouged and tore even Arethil herself. Those unfortunate to be in its path, met their demise.

Then, after a short time, it ceased.

Erën's feet found the ground, placed in the midst of the orcs. There immediately around him, and for some ways ahead of him, was decimated. Those who had been there were there no longer, not even as a husk - reduced utterly to dust. And though he did his best not to betray it, his body was awash with fatigue. He felt thirsty. His muscles tensed and ached. His head pounded, and sweat dripped down his temple. He assumed a confident and aggressive stance, daring the orcs to continue, but his breath was short. His periphery twinkled with stars.

There were now these seconds of uncertainty while the dust settled. Soon they would see if the orcs would cut their losses and run or if they would stubbornly press on.

Secretly, Erën hoped they would.

Secretly - with the help of his comrades - he hoped to slay them all.