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Thread: The Plague of Stormhope

  1. #1
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    Hysteria's Avatar

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    Name
    Remedy
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    Corone

    The Plague of Stormhope

    “Where are the caravans?!”

    My day had gone to shit real quick. After a month of negotiations, I had managed to set up a trading deal between the Merchant Guild in Radasanth and the mining town of Stormhope. I should have been kicking back at a bar enjoying a Corone Sunrise and playing with the little Akashima folding umbrella in my cup, and instead after only one shipment the caravans had stopped. Instead I was sitting in the officer one of the Merchant Guild’s representatives getting yelled at by a man who looked like the love child of a potato and a shaved cat.

    “Well!?” he spat.

    “I don-”

    “You don't know! You don't know! I bloody know you don't know!”

    “Then wh-”

    “Because Miss Remedy Blue, because I wanted to see you say it! Now this is what is going to happen. You will go to Stormhope, you will find out why they stopped and you will start them again. Am I clear?”

    I nodded.


    “Y'edda’s butt!”

    I paced in my room trying to work out what I was going to do. As soon as I had heard the caravan hadn't arrived I sent out a man to check it out. He had not come back, so I sent another. Then another. None had returned, a sizeable issue given they were only to be paid upon returning the information to me. That left only a few options. Robbers could have taken the caravan and the riders out en route. However it would be rare for robber to take a load of quartz as their prize. Perhaps it was something with the town itself….

    I sighed and huffed in frustration. There was no choice, I had to go. The contract had an clause providing me with ongoing stipend to ‘ensure the contract is fulfilled’. A throw away line that is generally just there to ensure a steady stream of income. Now it forced me to investigate the missing caravan. But I couldn't do it alone. Well, perhaps I could have… but it wasn't wise to do it alone. I needed to hire help.




    I had put out the call for hired arms three days ago. I didn’t wanted anything fancy, well to be honest, I didn't want anyone expensive. Fancy was fine, as long as it didn’t cost any more coppers. As long as they could handle themselves in a fight and were not a fall down drunken fool, they would do. The tedious nature of the journey meant that I needed to organise supplies, a few horses and wagon. Three days was enough to get all that sorted well enough. Any quicker and I’d have ended up paying a premium. The notices I had put around the local haunts had been simple:

    Mercenaries and Adventurers wanted.
    Danger at Stormhope?
    Investigation leaves by east gate
    Day of rest, third of the morn’


    Truth be told, I didn’t like how the writers of Radasanth formed their prose, but they remained resolute in their format. A few minutes to the deadline and I was sitting in the back of the wagon, my chin rested in my palm, and my arm perched on my knee. I had attempted to pack light, at least somewhat. In the wagon was food and water enough for the trip there and back twice over. If all was well and I was able to start the shipments the moment we arrived in Stormhope, I could even sell the extra food to some weary traveller, too hungry and tired to realise the price I was peddling. My red hair was getting long and I had tied it into a single long plat running down my back. I wore a leather jacket over my leather suit. It offered some protection from the cold wind. While there was some time before the harshness of winter, summer had long since left. There was another bag in the back of the wagon full of my bits and pieces. If things really got serious, the contents of the bag would become very handy.

  2. #2
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    Revenant's Avatar

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    Name
    William Arcus
    Race
    Revenant
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    Corone

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    “Mercenaries wanted. Danger at Stormhope,” William read. It was little enough to go on, but this notice alone stood out among the leaflets and hiring notices tacked to the board. There were plenty of jobs for those brave or foolish enough looking for them, but nothing that caught the attention of a man like William Arcus, who had faced the strongest and fiercest that Althanas could produce. Standard guard contracts for caravan masters, requests to root out bandits, offers of coin to bring protection to this village or that hamlet, these were the types of jobs that lured the fresh meat out. William had slogged through the menial jobs with nothing but coin and gratitude to show for it, he’d done his time.

    “Just what the hell am I doing here,” he grumbled, shaking his head.

    “What’s it going to be, grandpa?”

    William turned to see that a young woman had slid up to the job board beside him. She was a fresh faced thing, glowing with the purpose of youth and exuding an aura of having something to prove. Her hair was dark and shiny, but cut short enough that an enemy couldn’t get a proper hold on it if she had to get up close and personal in a scrap. She grinned at him.

    William simply stared back at her.

    “Hey just kidding,” the woman held her hands up. “No offense intended. It’s just that you look a little more weather-beaten than the rest of the meat in this place.”

    This time William couldn’t keep his look from twisting into a frown. The girl blanched a little before twin spots of heat blossomed in her cheeks.

    “S-sorry,” she sputtered, “I’m not good at this sort of thing. I just mean that you look like you’ve got more experience than the rest of us here put together. I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what kind of jobs a guy like you is looking at. There’s got to be some potential in that. My name is Celeste.”

    Celeste stuck her hand out with an apologetic look. William frowned at it, thinking to write the woman off but let his annoyance fall away and took her hand.

    “William,” he replied.

    “So what do you think the deal is with Stormhope?” Celeste asked. “I’ve never heard of the place. Do you think it’s anything serious?”

    William shrugged. He’d never heard of Stormhope either but he doubted it’d be anything that he’d find serious. Still, Celeste looked like a handful of cutthroats would be enough to get her blood pumping. The excitement of youth, he thought.

    “What if some renegade band has taken over the town?” Celeste went on, either oblivious to the fact that William wasn’t terribly talkative or else simple ignoring it. He hadn’t snapped at her after all, so he must not mind it that much.

    Celeste’s eyes widened with a flush of eagerness as a thought struck her. “What if it’s like that private army that tried to take over Corone a couple years ago? What do they call themselves, Erickson’s Knights or something like that?”

    This time William couldn’t suppress a chuckle. “Ixian,” he corrected. “They were the Ixian Knights.”

    Celeste beamed, taking his reaction as a sign of her victory at winning the older mercenary over. “Yeah, that was the one. What if it’s some hold outs from the Ixian Knights coming out of hiding and making another try to take over Corone, only this time they’re starting with Stormhope?”

    The thought made William wince. It wasn’t possible, was it?

    “Unlikely,” William said. “That ship has long since sailed.”

    “You’re probably right,” Celeste went on. “But it sure would be exciting, wouldn’t it? So far the only thing that I’ve managed to get hired on to do is dealing with rabid wildlife and bandits too drunken to do more than raid the local chicken coop.” Celeste made a face.

    “We all had to start somewhere.” It was William’s turn to respond.

    Celeste groaned and made a face. “True,” she sighed, “but for once I wish that the job I was on turned out to be something grand.”

    The two of them stood facing the postings, letting the other mercenaries move around them. A moment of silence finally lay between them.

    “Are you taking the job?” Celeste finally asked, breaking the spell.

    “Stormhope? No,” William said with a shake of his head. “Most of my adventuring days are behind me. I thought I’d just come down here to see what’s posted for old times’ sake.”

    Celeste was visibly disappointed. “Oh well,” she said, deflating. “It sounds a little too mysteriously dangerous for me.” She took a flyer asking for experienced hands to deal with a wild animal that was hunting livestock out in another rural farm area that William had never heard of. “Maybe I should just stick with what I know, eh?”

    William wished her good luck and left. He’d lied to Celeste, knowing full well that he’d be setting off with the team to investigate Stormhope. But it was for her own good, he thought remembering his time with the Ixian Knights. After all, everything that got close to his fire burned up in one way or another.

    The next morning, William approached Remedy’s wagon loaded for travel and ready for whatever lay on the road ahead.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  3. #3
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    jdd2035's Avatar

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    Captain Cain Jodin
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    Corone

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    Cain looked longingly back over to his ship in the distance the Private Man of War Peregrine of fourteen guns. With one last look at the beautiful ship Cain guided his mule towards the town of Stormhope. In the pocket of his number sea coat was a flyer which read.

    "Mercenaries and Adventurers wanted.
    Danger at Stormhope?
    Investigation leaves by east gate
    Day of rest, third of the morn’"

    Off he went packing his two pistols, cavalry saber and topped off with his trust Tricorn hat. The mule bellowed and Cain began to sing...

    "Come, cheer up, my lads, 'tis to glory we steer,
    To add something more to this wonderful year;
    To honour we call you, as freemen not slaves,
    For who are so free as the sons of the waves?

    Heart of Oak are our ships,
    Jolly Tars are our men,
    We always are ready: Steady, boys, Steady!
    We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again!"

    In such a deep and loud voice that he could be heard miles off being used to shouting over cannon fire. Captain Cain was not any where near subtle. Between the bellowing and Cain's singing (actually quite good) the entire caravan probably knew he was coming. Eventually Cain and his mule finally made it to Remedy's wagon train. There he dismounted strode over the Remedy and after a moment or two of confusion touched his knuckle to his tricorn to Remedy. "Ma'am I am Captain Cain Jodin of the Private Man O' War Peregrine. Request permission to join your crew."

  4. #4
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    Josette's Avatar

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    Josette Hawkes
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    Corone
    "Wait."

    The black horse's nostrils flared, a hot, wet snort blowing the hair back from Josette's face. The knight's blue eyes narrowed, and she gave the reins a downward tug. "Wait," she growled again, keeping her gaze steady with her mount's even as he pranced in place. He was a majestic creature, with a long, flowing mane and feathered hooves. Those hooves were the size of dinner plates, meant to accommodate his massive size. At sixteen hands, the horse was not especially tall, but he was built like a tank. Thick ropes of muscle rippled beneath his silky black coat, completing the overall package. The best horse in the region, the stable owner had boasted. Then the only horse he had available, when she asked for another option. She had preferred mares, or geldings, as stallions were too showy, too high-strung. This equine, who he had called Dante, was no exception. But the woman had haggled for an acceptable price, and made arrangements to sell the horse back when she was finished in Corone. One day, if everything went as planned, she could buy a horse without a return agreement. When that time came, it would not be an explosive Friesian.

    "Wait," she commanded a third time. Wait and watch. Before she approached the wagon, the meeting place for the potential job, she preferred to collect some information. Reconnaissance was an important step for the knight, and she was not the sort to leap into anything without careful consideration. Granted, that was not to say that emotion played no part in her decision. Though she could use Letho's creature-hunting guild as her excuse for being there, her true reasoning was more complex. There was a town in danger, a town worth saving. She had not saved the other town, the other Stormhope, the other people who had looked to her for safety. Instead, she had brought it all down around her, and those flames still remained with her, months later. Saving one town would not bring back another, but perhaps it would work to cleanse her demons.

    The crowd collecting appeared harmless enough, and the woman in the iron armor finally chose to approach after the bard arrived singing. A crooner on a mule? Was there anything less intimidating? So the raven-haired woman led her beast of a horse toward the waiting party, one gauntlet-clad hand on the reins, the other perched atop the hilt of her gleaming sword.

  5. #5
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    Hysteria's Avatar

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    Remedy
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    “William was it?” I asked, raising an eye brow at the sight of the man in front of me. He seemed capable given his calm, self-assurance. In the merchant business we called people like him rivers. You can do your darndest to dig a channel for them to move into, but in the end the river choses its own direction.

    “Who’s your friend?”

    William turned his head to see the beaming face of Celeste. I could almost taste the enthusiasm radiating off her.

    “I knew you’d take it! I knew it!” she started some inane conversation and help up the process of marking names.

    “Come on, come on, we don’t have all morn’ to… puff around in,” I said.

    Celeste shot me a cold look, and I returned it with deadpan boredom. William climbed into the back of the wagon and plonked himself down in a seat. I jotted a question mark next to his last name and turned to the young woman.

    “Name?”

    “Celeste” she said, pulling herself up and sitting next to William. I grunted something between acceptance and annoyance and turned to the next man literally singing his way towards the wagon. I realised it was going to be one of those days where you seem to attract all the nutters. I shoved the thought aside and affixed my face with a grin. At least sea folk liked to keep things simple.

    “Request accept Cap’n, always good to have someone with salt blood in their veins along. And Josette Hawkes” echoed Remedy as she wrote down the knight’s name, “good to have you with us.”

    I pushed myself to my feet and weaved between the passengers towards the driver's seat. I couldn't help myself, I stepped onto the driver's seat, then twisted on the spot for some dramatic flair. The rag-tag band of hired goons didn't look like much, but they'd have to do.

    “Gentlemen and gentlewomen, we are about to depart for Stormhope. Now, a word of warning. We are most likely dealing with a band of armed robbers or highwaymen that have cut off communication with the town. Once we are on our way you will need to keep an eye out for anyone or anything that might attempt to stop us. We have just shy of a day's ride in front of us. Any questions?”

    “What sort of coin are we talking about?” asked Celeste.

    I smiled, she was the only one to enquire about money. It would have been the first thing I'd have asked.

    “Ten gold per day, plus twenty danger fee. If this turns out to be a some robbers and we can dispatch them on the way, it'll be forty all up. We'll stay the night in Stormhope. Food will be provided,” I added with a smile, “any other questions?”

  6. #6
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    jdd2035's Avatar

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    Captain Cain Jodin
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    Cain shook his head to the negative "No ma'am just let me know where you want me." He touched his knuckle to his had at the rest of the group and upon seeing the shoddy way the wagons cargo was tied into the bed he absent mindedly knotted and spliced the cargo something more ship shape. Finishing the task he returned to the group.

    "For any one who did not hear when I introduced my self to the caravan leader, I am Captain Cain Jodin, of the fourteen gun corvette Peregrine." He smiled most cheerfully at the group he was a genuine sort with a tanned face which caused his clear eyes to shine like emeralds. His mule bellowed out a chorus of high pitched whines in introduction as well causing the Captain to mention under his breath "lubberous beast" before patting the creature.

    After his introduction of the group he stepped back to see if any one else would introduce them selves. While he stepped back he gauged what kind of people he might be working with. A young lady that wore more iron than his best bower, a dangerous looking man with a five o'clock shadow, his assistant and the caravan leader a mystery. Things would be interesting to say the least.

  7. #7
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    Revenant's Avatar

    GP
    303
    AP
    33
    Name
    William Arcus
    Race
    Revenant
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone

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    William listened to the others making their introductions with muted interest, all the while watching Celeste from the corner of his eye. He’d hoped to put the girl off his trail at the work boards yesterday but clearly she was a lot sharper than the starry-eyed thing he’d taken her for. He just hoped that her eagerness to follow his wasn’t going to get her killed. There weren’t many who could say the same.

    “M’William,” he grunted as the conversation came back around to him. He gave a half-shrug and grunted assent at Remedy’s mention of payment. It was pretty standard for the type of work that she was peddling, perhaps even a little bit on the generous side. But William wasn’t taking this job for the money. Besides, he’d certainly sold himself for less than a handful of coins a time or two.

    As the rest of the group was finishing up Celeste gestured to the massive pack William had strapped to his back. “So,” Celeste whispered at him, “do you really think it’s going to be that bad?”

    “Supplies,” he answered back with a shrug. Celeste raised a questioning eyebrow. “I like to be prepared,” he said, shrugging the bulky weight off his shoulders. Truth be told he didn’t need much in the way of supplies, but if he was going to play the experienced, grizzled mercenary then he’d fit the part. Besides, the added bulk of the hiker’s travelling pack served as a good way to hide some of the more exotic items that he carried with him.

    He hefted the nearly six-foot long bundle over the side of the wagon with an easy, practiced motion and secured it to the vehicle’s sideboards with a set of thick straps. The leather straps groaned in protest from the weight but held firm. William thought about the handful of coins Remedy was offering and then to the sheer amount of wealth he’d just strapped to the side of her wagon. He lived an odd life.

    Task accomplished he gave Celeste a knowing smile and a nod to the rest of the group. Then, with a mercenary’s practiced ease, he leaned back, closed his eyes, and drifted off into a shallow doze.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

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