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  1. #1
    Supreme Overlord

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    Level completed: 81%,
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    Max Dirks's Avatar

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    Max Dirks
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    Semi-Finals: The Castigar Clash

    Shinsou v. Storm Veritas

    Round 2 will begin 3/16 at 12 AM EST.

  2. #2
    Ride The Lightning

    EXP: 152,179, Level: 17
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    Level completed: 1%,
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    Storm Veritas's Avatar

    GP
    21,200

    Name
    Storm Veritas
    Age
    39
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    The cold air blew hard across the Coronian fields, tall grasses yielding in soft, flowing waves. An orchard of barren apple trees raised their skeletal arms to the heaven, dotting the eastern cliffside as if in disbelief. The sun, like Storm, was well past its peak, slowly descending towards the waiting rest at the edge of Althanas. The sky was still a pleasant blue, but its time left was unknown. The darkness awaited, in a future not so far off.

    Atop his large black horse, Commander Storm Veritas couldn’t feel the crunch of autumnal leaves beneath the hard hooves of Attila. He couldn’t hear damned near anything, as the droning white noise of his followed thousands stretched in scattered packs just behind him. The rangers and guardsmen were mixed in throngs near the cliff, as the larger units continued to set up camp along the west. Peeking down, the omnipresent sun hid their numbers from him, but he knew well what was at his disposal.

    “Keep the big bastards and the guns inland, but make sure the cannons can reach the cliff’s edge. Some other pack of damned fools will find their way up here soon enough. Radasanth always sends heavy hitters down the coast to defend their watch, but we’ve got the Rangers and damned near half the guard – spread out ranks wide enough and we’ll scare any defenses shitless.” A small drink of water satiated him for the time – there was a buzz in the air and it wasn’t time for firewater just yet.

    “Har!” General Garron the Mighty, a mountain of a thing, tapped the extended handle of his mace in his hand. The thick stock of wood thumped hard against his massive calloused hands, and the meaty edge of steel at the end of his weapon moved as though he wielded a child’s drumstick. Gesturing wildly to the troops, Garron spoke in echoing words that rang like thunderclaps. Men and giants alike clanged sword and shields together as they fell into rank and file, a wonderful tension filling them.

    “He’s coming back quick, big fella. He’s seen something.” The wizard rubbed thickly muscled neck of the horse, and Attila appropriately showed respect to the moment by relieving himself onto the crisp mat of orange and red maple leaves beneath him.

    Bet half of these gods-damned chickenshits are doing the same under their pretty green tunics. It’s alright, I suppose. Fear sharpens us; it keeps us alert. Let them shake a little now, I’ve got a feeling the grounds beneath us will be moving soon enough.

    Marching the coast to Radasanth had been advertised as a fool’s errand. No one had successfully broken through the gates of Radasanth in over four hundred years. Storm Veritas had slowly climbed ranks, his career stifled by an uprising in Whitevale and the bullshit politics of the born rich. He had waited long enough; his time to take what was his has arrived. The very element of electricity already bent to his will; it was time for the capital of Corone to follow suit.

    Commander Seamus Brackett rode hard to him, flanked on either side by two serious looking young soldiers. The men were hawk-eyed, their gaze fixed on the tree line behind their leader, careful to avert their gaze from him. Seamus was cut from bolder cloth; he held his tanned face direct to the leader, his own squared and fixed jaw twitching as his teeth clenched. A stirring came about the camp; the soldiers bristled as they whispered in hushed tones. They struggled to listen without encroaching the two warriors that met atop horses at the front of the ranks.

    “Remind me to play you in poker the next time I’m short, Seamus. We got company?” Storm’s voice was serious, the joke falling by the wayside of pending bad news.

    “Aye, cap. Scouts came back. They're loaded. Thousands of them. Mages. Swordsmen. Everything. Damned if they don’t spot us up man for man.” Seamus’s thick brogue reminded the magician of an old friend, a treasured beauty of a woman who’d long departed for Am’aleh’s embrace.

    “The thing is… well…” Seamus’s continuation was stymied by a lump in his throat.

    “Cut the shit, Brackett. What is it!? Out with it…” A glowering mix of skepticism and anger whorled about Veritas, his electric energy generating a scent of ozone in the air.

    “Their leader… He’s… well, it’s Shinsou.” The commander finally broke his gaze, looking out over the thousands of troops prepped in large squares of men. They stood before a large open space, dotted by marsh on their left and cliffside. Thousands of eyes were fixed on the tandem, chattering and bouncing with enthusiasm and paralyzing fear. In front of these men stretched a terrible hard-packed bottleneck, capped by a colossal horde currently out of sight. Worse, the horde was led by one terribly dangerous man at the other side.

    “Of fucking course it is. It’s the only way this could have gone.” A deep breath, and his eyes fixed on the horizon, where he thought he heard the distant thunder of troop march foretell the coming hellstorm. Without thinking of it, moments later a tiny glowing orange pulsed before his face, the cigarette filling his mouth with a warm oaky flavor. His fingers twitched, tiny arcs of white and blue chattering between them atop the placid horse.

    “Disregard the spread. Shin’s men won’t run; no use trying to puff our chests. Back the giants and cannons back a hundred yards and down the crest; hide our ranks. Give him a chance to come into range before he finds out what we’ve got.”

    The warm glow of late day nearly disappeared as the commander took his leave. Clouds had popped over the western horizon, thick and fast moving and angry. His eyes fixed fast on the dropping sun, now almost totally obscured.

    The darkness comes for all of us.

  3. #3
    Administrator

    EXP: 113,270, Level: 14
    Level completed: 62%, EXP required for next Level: 5,730
    Level completed: 62%,
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    1,195

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
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    31
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    Telgradian
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    Salvar

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    Five hours earlier

    Today, the fierce Coronian sun beat down on an island of strife. As birds swooped and dived majestically in the air, unconcerned with the matters of men, Harper Malley lay on thin, wiry grass and propped his telescope on his pack. He slid the brass shutter aside from the eyepiece, adjusted the tubes, and stared in awed amazement.

    He gazed upon something fierce indeed. He watched an army marching.

    The leader of the Immortals had seen the smear of dust in the sky about an hour ago, rising higher as the morning moved towards midday’s heat, and the fine film had looked like the haze of a great grass fire. Intrigued, he had ridden towards the smog, going slowly for fear of enemy patrols, and now, in the early afternoon, he lay on the low summit of a small hill and stared at the men and animals that had smudged the great plume across the heavens.

    The Brotherhood soldiers under Storm Veritas’s control were marching towards the west, and it appeared to his trained eye they were setting up for an attack. The road itself was left for the heavy traffic, for the wagons and the guns and the carriages of the generals. Beside the carriageway, trampling the scanty crops, marched the infantry. Harper, brushing his oaken hair from his face, moved the telescope right, the far uniforms a blur of colour in his eye, and steadied it where the road came north. Tumbrils and caissons, limbers and makeshift ambulances, wagons and more wagons, the horses and oxen dipping their heads with the effort of hauling their loads all moved with purpose under the hot Coronian sun. He pushed the telescope left, turning it to look as far as he could, to see a tiny grey blur on the horizon where the topmost stones of Radasanth’s famous Citadel dominated the landscape.

    Harper rested the telescope. Without the benefit of the fine glass, the Veritas legion’s forces looked like a black snake winding across Corone. He knew what he saw was preparation for an assault, but was it on Radasanth? If so, he did not understand why just yet. He just watched the great beast snake across the plains, smearing the sky white, and he had no idea whether or not Storm Veritas knew where Shinsou’s own troops were, or what they were doing.

    It doesn’t make sense for Storm to attack Radasanth if he knew we were a day shy of his southern flank. Does he even know we are here? Or does he have something else in mind? A feint, perhaps?


    Malley wriggled back from the skyline, snapped the telescope shut and turned to the horse which he had tethered to a stone field marker. Shinsou had leant him a fine, strong, patient stallion called Slepnir, who now watched the man and twitched his long, black, undocked tail. He was a lucky horse, Harper thought, because the rule in the Brotherhood was that all horses should have their tails cut short, but Slepnir had been left his intact so that at a distance the Rangers would believe it was one of theirs.

    As he released the rope and hauled his large chassis onto the saddle, Shinsou’s head of intelligence spurred Slepnir into a gallop and began to piece together his report in his thoughts. It would be a two or three hour ride, and that left plenty of time for the man to contemplate his conclusion of events.


    A few hours later

    As the evening crept in, just when the sparrows stopped making their nests in the trees lining the Brotherhood encampment twenty miles south of Storm Veritas’s army, commander Shinsou Vaan Osiris stared down from the entrance of his tent upon the crest of a small hill, and waited. The small westerly wind lifted his chestnut bangs from his face as he watched campfires light up one by one. Before long, the rows of tents and supplies looked like fireflies had begun to swarm in their numbers. His men went about their evening duties, stacking crates and brewing stew in iron cookpots that clanged in the wind. He fidgeted with the heavy silver buckles on his drakescale coat as he watched four wagons of supplies brought up from Havre Lesaint being dragged over the dirt road. Finally, as he was about to turn and enter his makeshift quarters, the form of Slepnir entered his vision, cantering in from the southeast corner of the vast plot of white tented land.

    The garrison of the camp watched Harper Malley arrive eagerly. The newly mounted watch of the day saluted as the head of the Immortals trotted past their guards. Above their heads, on a makeshift mast, the tricolour of the Brotherhood’s colours flapped sullenly in the wind. The sentries stared out across the wide countryside, wondering whether the war would once again bring them to bear against their own brethren in the north.

    The Telgradian smiled. A hawk, high above its victim, might have felt the same satisfaction that the Brotherhood’s leader felt as he ordered an aide to send his compliments to Harper Malley with a request. A request, which, from Shinsou Vaan Osiris, was tantamount to an order, that the head of the Immortals come to his presence immediately. Harper Malley, smelling faintly of dry earth and sweat, was ushered into Shinsou’s spacious but bare tent fifteen minutes later. Sat at a makeshift desk, surrounded by hand drawn maps and charts, Shinsou looked up at his third in command. Arius Mephisto was conspicuous by his absence, something Harper made a mental note of.

    “You’re unusually late,” The Telgradian remarked, pouring the two a crystal tumbler with a quart of whisky, “What do you have for me? Good news I hope.”

    Harper took off a glove, dusting his hands against the leathery chaps he wore, and took a folded piece of paper from his pocket. As he unfolded it in quarters on Shinsou’s desk, a sketch of the area with snaking pencil markings fell before his leader.

    “Veritas’s men are heading for the west coast. I can’t say for sure, but it looks like he is preparing an attack, possibly on Radasanth.”

    Shinsou stared at the map, frowning as he traced a finger between the lead snake on the parchment and the gates of Radasanth. “Really? That’s a bit of an odd play, to be making a land grab there at this point. What kind of strength is he packing?”

    Harper shook his head. “I was too far away to get a full count, but I saw horse, foot and cannon on their way up. It’s enough to stand against what we have here, but not enough to mount a serious attack on Radasanth, which is curious. The way he's throwing his men about, it makes me think that he doesn’t know we sit on his southern flank; yet, at least.”

    Shinsou, taking a sip of the potent liqueur in his right hand, shook his head in return.

    “No, or else he wouldn’t be positioning his forces between us and Radasanth. Now, he has a problem,” with that, the Telgradian rose from his chair and paced towards a larger chart nailed to the centre post of his tent, showing an overall map of the theatre of operations, “If what you say is right and he continues on to Radasanth, a city which, if I recall, has not seen a military defeat for over four centuries, and simply knocks on the front door, the Cornonian army will outnumber him five to one. If he camps on the west coast and bides his time, he likely knows it will be a matter of time before Radasanth sends everything they have at him. What he doesn’t know, yet, is that his third problem is that any retreat will be cut off by us.”

    Harper raised an eyebrow as Shinsou’s tone of voice hinted concern. “Is that a problem? You sound concerned.”

    The intelligence officer stared at the Telgradian, who was mulling over the chart. After what seemed an age, Shinsou turned and held his chin in his hand.

    “Once he realises that he is caught between a rock and a hard place, Storm Veritas may actually present us an opportunity. You see, whilst we do not have the problem of the Radasanthians in such close proximity to our flank, we too have a glaring issue,” Shinsou gestured to the lists scattered on his desk; lists that contained accounts on the entire strength of the Brotherhood, “which is that we, neither, have enough men to take Radasanth on our own. The only way it can feasibly be done is through a united Brotherhood. There is simply no point in wasting men fighting each other to the bitter end for the Radasanthians to simply waltz in and mop up the dregs. This situation could play right into our hands.”

    Harper Malley scowled at that. After all that had happened, the thought of Shinsou Vaan Osiris and Storm Veritas presenting a united front did not sit well with him at all. However, the man had been with Shinsou long enough to know when not to question the man, and this was one of those times. After all, he was right. It seemed the only way to resolve their current problem without facing annihilation from Corone’s army. There was, however, one matter which concerned him.

    “So are you saying that if we can convince Storm his position is untenable on the west, he’ll just come to his senses, invade Radasanth side by side and give up a share of the spoils to us? I can’t see it, Shinsou.”

    The Telgradian smiled. “Neither can I, but if I know Storm like I think I do, once he sees that he hasn’t got much of a choice he’ll play ball. He’s a selfish man, but he isn’t stupid; he knows better than to waste good men on a fool’s errand. Arrange for an emissary to ride to him under a flag of parlay and invite him here for talks. At the very least, it’ll make him think twice about his plans and perhaps in that moment of vulnerability we can reach out to him.”

    “Very good, sir.” Harper bowed, albeit hesitantly, turned and disappeared through the canvas flaps. With that, Shinsou turned back to his office, the late night wind whipping at the flimsy sides of his abode. He would defy the odds. He would save the Brotherhood, defeat Radasanth and dazzle the world. For a few seconds, standing with his back to the magnificent view from his tent, Shinsou imagined himself as the new co-leader of Corone; the new bright star in the former republic’s glory. He could not lose; he knew it, for he had calculated the risks.
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 03-18-2018 at 08:40 AM.
    If you can read this, you are posting too close.

  4. #4
    Ride The Lightning

    EXP: 152,179, Level: 17
    Level completed: 1%, EXP required for next Level: 17,821
    Level completed: 1%,
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    Storm Veritas's Avatar

    GP
    21,200

    Name
    Storm Veritas
    Age
    39
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    The northward march of the towering giants and cannon-carrying wagons popped the eyes of the wizard open like those of a lizard, widely spying with incredulity at what he was witnessing. Pulling the cigarette away, he righted his posture to see this more clearly. With a spit of gamey, tobacco-addled spit and a whistle, he ordered his trumpeter to call out to Seamus once more, bringing the experienced soldier back into the fray in less than a few minutes. Storm’s eyes were now cut back into fine slits as the sun lowered beneath the blanket of clouds moving inward, the golden light painting them all as royals.

    “Gods-damnit, Seamus! I know your ass is getting old, but I told you to move the giants and cannons away from the fire! I want them out of sight-line to give the Osiris legions more confidence than they deserve. What in the hell are they doing?”

    Stoic, the shorter warrior pointed to the skies south of them, where two falcons twisted in long, lazy arcs. Only a focused squint into the early evening skies could betray their position as they spanned the length of the forces beneath them, tracing an invisible oval about the enemies position some distance south and out of clear eyesight. “They serve at your will, m’liege.”

    The stench of the battlefield filled Storm’s lungs as his nostrils flared, the general irate at this discovery. With himself pinned between Radasanth and Shinsou’s forces, he would be susceptible to pincer attack should message reach the stronghold to the north.

    “We’d moved from Whitevale on the cliff’s edge to PREVENT THIS VERY BULLSHIT, Seamus. How long have they been following us, and how did we fail to spot their approach?” Storm’s large, bony hands pulsed white as they gripped his mount’s reins, his refrain important. He longed to summon a magnetic pulse to fire Seamus and his steel armor clear off the mountainside to make an example of the commander’s incompetence, but knew the leadership the old warrior offered was too valuable to waste.

    “We don’t know where they popped from, m’liege. Chances are they rode east to th coast, perhaps from Concordia, and their speed is just better than ours. We’ve got the big fellows and the cannons to lug, after all.

    Shit. How the hell do we show strength, block communications, and protect our face and our asses at the same time?

    The mage took another long drag from his cigarette, his mind swirling as he considered the options about him. Tactically, he was doomed should launch an assault on Radasanth now. If the Crown had shipped Shinsou in to stop him, and the man in black had faster troops, then an assault northward would get them caught in a crossfire with no resolution but death. Worse, if Shinsou sent emissaries or even birds north with messages, they could rally the big city and send them down to meet Storm’s troops in the field, giving him much the same problem.

    Of course, you get him to send the same message, AND get him on your side, then the entire Radasanthian guard leaves the stronghold to meet hell’s heavy hand in the open field. They’ll be sheep marching into the wolves’ den.

    “First, we need to cut off communications. Pull the birds back. Spread the archers every ten feet in a straight line west from the coast – they’ll cover three miles that way and have them shoot every bird that Shinsou tries to ship over our heads. Move the messengers to the front row; keep their goddamned bottle rockets ready to firewall for us if they have to. Send the cavalry back to protect our cannons and bring the giants back to center frame; I want him to see them before he does anything stupid.” The general’s eyes now caught those of both of Brackett’s dutiful assistants.

    “Maybe now. Seamus, you stay with me and let the boys relay word.”

    Trumpet bursts, drum beats, and footfalls immediately filled the earth at dusk as men moved urgently into position. Rangers swiftly ran as armed soldiers struggled to keep pace, the armed guardsmen moving two-for-one to protect the archers that would cut off messaging. The giants moved in, their towering presence a strong lookout as they fortified the front line, a surprising intelligence from them as they stared out at the dimming would-be battlefield. Lanterns popped to life every few yards, a convoy of light and improved vision. They could not withstand a significant charge from this thinned position, however the forces looked insurmountable as they allowed themselves to be spread.

    “Y’know, Cap; chances are we’re six ways to screwed out here if Osiris mounts a heavy charge. We’re no better than four deep; he can cut us in half with any respectable cavalry. If I can be so bold, they don’t catch us if they don’t have the horses.” Seamus had apparently reached an age where a relative indifference to his well being began to emerge. Storm had executed men for insubordination before, after all.

    A smirk crossed the wizard’s face as he looked back at the tanned fighter. “You’re right, but we’re altogether porked if he gets a message to Radasanth that we’re coming. They’ll leave the barracks, hit us in the field, and Shinsou will ride in to clean up the leavings.”

    Storm continued without allowing a retort. “That’s why we cut communications with our numbers, and ride in with white flags. Shin may have been conscripted to snuff out the attacking hoard, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have enlisted him to stop me if they knew better.

    “Let’s double our numbers, and see if we can roll those bastards. Let our dogs eat Radasanthian livers tomorrow.”

    A big, toothy grin spread across Seamus’s face as he rubbed his stubbled chin. The warrior pushed his horse forward, to the front of the south-facing line to ride with Storm Veritas.

    “No; the armies need a commander. Stay here, keep these men from losing their shit. I’ll be back in three hours. If the armies of Shinsou don’t have me at the front of them, feel free to kick their collective dicks into the dirt.” Storm summoned two of the heavily armored cavalry from the rank and file and pulled them to ride alongside him. Slightly less confused than they were scared by the mandate, they obeyed dutifully.

    The words of Seamus Brackett rang in his ears as the wizard began to ride south, with only two guards to negotiate with thousands.

    “Fair enough, you damned fool. Be sure to ride that big black monster out front and center. Firebombs and cannon-fire rarely discriminate for the friendly!”

    Hilarious, Seamus. I wasn’t worried enough about firing me into a fine paste before you had to remind me that our idiots are just as gods-damned stupid.

  5. #5
    Supreme Overlord

    EXP: 87,413, Level: 12
    Level completed: 81%, EXP required for next Level: 2,587
    Level completed: 81%,
    EXP required for next Level: 2,587


    Max Dirks's Avatar

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    Max Dirks
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    Storm advances.

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