Duch Year: 982
The huge saber crashed against the center of the iron sword, throwing its holder back a few steps, and then again in an overhand strike. The tall, plate-mailed knight brought down his steel broadsword down with all his might. The muscular, dark-skinned island-man threw his crude sword to parry, catching the broadsword at its hilt.
The Kikapa island-man, although naked, was very seasoned with his hilt less sword. Comparatively, the knight, mailed in white satin-draped field plate, definitely held the advantage. The Kikapa allowed the knight to come in at him and then fell back against the weight of the knight, causing the knight to lose his balance. He then used this advantage by stopping the collapse of the armor on himself with his leg and then swiped his sword hard against the knight’s head.
The crude sword of iron snapped in half. ‘It pays to have good weaponry.’, thought the knight. The Kikapa snarled and kicked the knight off of him, a split second before the well-smithed saber cut open his belly. The knight fell over backwards. The Kikapa quickly grabbed his blade by the backside and charged over to the downed knight. The knight waited for the precise moment and then rolled over as quickly as he could, causing the Kikapa to miss him by inches. The knight leaned up and struck with his gauntleted fist, hitting square in the groin. The Kikapa cried out in pain and the knight finished the job with a slice to the throat. Blood spewed from the Kikapa’s mouth and he fell face first to the ground in a pool of blood.
A collective gasp resounded from the audience, a surrounding circle of dark-skinned Kikapas. They looked in awe as their finest warrior was killed right in front of their eyes. They looked to the killer and to the party of newcomers to the isle that came with him, who watched the spectacle as they did. They had come to their village in piece a few moons ago in peace on a huge boat that up until then, they had only seen from afar, never before stopping on the isle except in legend.
Amongst the foreigners were warriors who had shaped great metal around them to use as armor. One was a tall, skinny, magical person with long ears, who called himself an elf. Another was a short, gruff long-beard, called a dwarf.
Another wore hide leather as armor, more perfectly tanned than any of the wise men had seen. There was also a man who could cast magic spells in a short black robe, and one of their young. There were two others that had come with them, but they were not present at the moment. Excluding the boy, they were all very muscular and fearsome people. They also had good food and valuables to trade for housing and simple information about the island. It was obvious the pale skins were used to the good food they brought because they never ate anything they had served them. But for all their wondrous items and magics, it had been learned that they couldn’t get food and water from the land and had to carry it on their bodies.
“Damn.”, the knight said, obviously displeased with himself. He walked up to his party of mercenaries and took off his now-tarnished helmet, revealing a handsome man with long black hair. His name was Sir Kage Swiftsword. The other human fighter in the group, Billard Greenhand, gave Sir Kage a few congratulating pats on the shoulder. “Is that what you call training?”, replied from Everett Speartip III, the elf of the party.
Meanwhile, incomprehensible shouts began to come from some of the individual Kikapas, but whether the shouts were directed towards the party or themselves, they couldn’t tell.
“What’s your quarrel? He attacked me. I had to kill him.” Sir Kage quickly retorted.
“I thought he just wanted to test his strength.” said Everett.
“That’s what I thought too!”, replied Kage, not pleased, “Then he got frustrated and his blows became real.” Two of the Kikapas were now carrying their tribe’s hero off while others argued amongst themselves in their language.
“I still can not believe how low and disgusting some humans are.” said Everett, “They’re probably taking him off so they can eat him and have a decent meal for once.”
“Ah, shut yer yap, ye snobby treefucker!” growled Stalfor Fireforge, the dwarf. Stalfor was actually an old friend of Everett’s (extremely old since both races were greatly long lived.) Normally, elves and dwarves had a common enmity between each other, and this showed up between the two of them at times.
“Your dribble humors me, gnomling.”, Everett retorted.
“Are they going to attack?”, asked Sir Kage.
“I doubt it.”, replied Denier Spellbook, the mage, “Tribal beliefs tend towards respect for the stronger man. They shouldn’t be bearing any grudges.” “That’s why they’re passing out spears.”, replied Stalfor bluntly.
The party looked to see many of the angered men grabbing spears from a man who brought a quiver of them.
Some men were charging them at that second.
“Let’s get out of here! Now!!!”, ordered Kage.
“What about Marina?!?”, cried Everett.
“No time!”, ordered Kage, grabbing Kirby by the hand, “We’ll have to come back for the others!” Stalfor, with 65 years worth of military and mercenary experience in a still-youthful and vigorous body, easily sidestepped the charging Kikapa and swung his axe into the man’s head. A second Kikapa caught Billard off guard on the side. The spear didn’t penetrate his plate mail armor, but the momentum pushed him to the ground. The Kikapa raised the spear again to stab him in the face when someone tackled him. The Kikapa was on the ground when he realized it was the kid. He was surprised at the weight of the pale men, such that the momentum of a young child could overtake him. Before he could push the kid off, he saw an arm wrap tightly around his head, covering his eyes, and felt a sharp blade cutting into his throat. A rush of cold air entered into his throat through the slit, taking away any death cries he might have made.
Albert Greegan, the leather-armored human of the party, let go of the Kikapa and wiped his dirk clean. Sir Kage rushed up, helped Billard up, reaffirmed his grasp on Kirby again, and resumed his course out of the Kikapa village. Kirby couldn’t keep to speed with Kage, so he pulled him onto his shoulders. Billard and Greegan grabbed some of the loose baggage on the ground and made a run for it. Denier, the only one ahead of Kage, led the way out of the village. Looking back, Kage saw the rest of the party behind him followed by a now more organized mob of Kikapas, charging them and shouting at the top of their lungs, quickly closing in on the much more encumbered party members. Sir Kage stopped and shouted as loud as he could, “Everett!!! Stalfor!!! Bring up the back end!!! There’s no way we’re going to out run them!!!” He couldn’t tell if they heard him. Everett and Stalfor were by far the strongest fighters of the band and had the best chance of holding off a horde of berserker spearmen for a short amount of time. Kage handed Kirby over to Greegan as he ran past. Kirby wrapped his arms tightly around Greegan as the rogue gripped Kirby by the back and shoulder. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!?”, shouted Stalfor as he and Everett came to a stop in front of him. “We can’t out run them! We’ll have to hold them off while the others escape!”, shouted Kage as Billard ran past them. “Great!”, Stalfor cried gleefully.
Sir Kage analyzed the charging mob. The Kikapas were holding their spears over handed next to their heads. All three of them were well trained in defense against untrained spear chargers, but Kage had never been so grossly outnumbered before.
The elf’s long swords sang as he unsheathed the weapons from the opposite sides of his belt. Just like Stalfor, Everett’s race was long-lived, giving him many years to train himself with not only many different weaponry and fighting styles, but magic as well. Not only that, each of his long swords emanated with it’s own unique magical enchantment.
Everett’s right sword glowed a dark red while his left shimmered between orange and red, like fire.
“Come on! I’m ready for ye!!!”, cheered Stalfor in the gruff voice he had. The three of them stood in their stance until the last second. Just as the first wave of men descended upon them, Kage and Stalfor brought their shields up, protecting themselves from the spears and brought their weapons in an underhanded swing into the chest. Everett had no shield but made the same defensive maneuver with his left long sword.
Suddenly, they were all over them, screaming death chants into their ears. Sir Kage kept his shield high and tried to do as much damage to the unguarded chests and torsos as possible. His hardest problem was staying vertical though. He knew if he fell, he was in trouble.
Stalfor knew long before most of his comrades were born that his choice in weaponry was not good in these scenarios. The axe holds a very committing swing, but its extra mass gives it a better bite. Stalfor used it for its betterment against armored enemies sacrificing the speed of a sword. His experience told him not to swing too hard.
Nevertheless, the third chest Stafor’s axe caved into sank too deep and wouldn’t let him get his weapon back. He could have pulled his axe out of the body if it was on the ground and he could step on it, but the dying Kikapa was being held up like a shield against the rest of the angered spearmen. When a spear came in at his side he knew he had to give his axe up to the body and simply charge headfirst into the man. The man went down and so did Stalfor. Spears began hitting the back of his armor and helmet and soon the men simply began to jump on him, trying to crush him under their weight.
Everett was by far the best off. His quickness with the enchanted long swords allowed him to dispatch his attackers quickly and efficiently. Bodies fell from his swords the same second they had come within range. All the while, the elf added insults to their fatal injuries as if the Kikapas could understand him. His right sword was now shining red with power. The enchanted sword fed off the wielder’s confidence. The greater the ego of the fighter, the more precise the swing and deeper the cut. The sword couldn’t be any more deadly in Everett’s hands.
It was obvious these Kikapas were untrained for true combat. None of Everett’s attackers had even been able to get close to him. Then Billard joined him, with mace and chain in hand. The weapon looked like a chain whip ending with a morning star, a spiked ball. The morning star smashed open the face of an attacking Kikapa as the victim’s spear broke against Billard’s armor. Everett began casting. Suddenly, a great bolt of lightning shot out of his hands, striking through three Kikapas, killing them all and scattering some more. “Come on! Stalfor’s in trouble!”, shouted Everett. Everett led the way there, slicing into any that crossed his path. They made their way behind the men Kage was holding back. Everett ran past them, using his fiery long sword to slice into the distracted backs of the tribesmen while using the other to guard his front. Billard, on the other hand, stopped to pull back and bring his morning star crashing into one of the Kikapa’s back, bashing the man to the ground instantly. Just then, Billard cried out in pain as a spear lodged itself in an opening of the field plate at the shoulder. He looked to see if Everett would help him with the enemy but Everett had already gone on ahead.
The Kikapa tried to push the spear in deeper. Billard tightened his grip and swung as hard as he could in an upward arc. The attack was clumsy though, and it, arcing harmlessly to the side of his attacker. But the action startled the Kikapa enough for him to let go of the spear. He punched with the hilt of his weapon, hitting the Kikapa in the face. The spear loser’s face dropped as he grabbed at it and Billard brought the morning star down on the unfortunate man’s head.
The sword slices Everett gave were just the distraction Kage needed to save himself. He exploded into motion, stabbing and slicing every man who had dared to turn his head for a second towards Everett. One man went down underneath Billard’s morning star before Sir Kage could get to him. Another Kikapa looked back just in time as the edge of Kage’s saber made an upward slice into his face, shooting a line of blood upwards. The Kikapa grabbed his face, knowing it was the worst thing he could do directly in front of his enemy and was no surprised when he felt a sword imbed itself inside his stomach. A weaponless Kikapa wrapped his arm Kage’s neck. Sir Kage bent his head down and snapped it back quickly, throwing the weight of his helmet into the man’s face. Sir Kage broke free of the grasp and shoved the Kikapa away from him as far as he could. The Kikapa tumbled onto Billard, who was trying to find some way of removing the spear from his arm. The spear snapped at the point and Billard screamed in pain.
Everett was gleefully cutting into the backs of the men who had piled on top of Stalfor. One turned to counter, but Everett deflected the spear with one sword while bringing the other into the Kikapa’s heart, saying “Can’t you do better than that?”. Two others tried to sneak up to the elf from behind, but his long ears detected the presence despite the rest of the noise of the battle. He instead surprised them by summoning a ball of energy into his hand, turning around and throwing it.
The ball split into three bursts, one hitting one man and the other two hitting the other. The energy pulses caused no visible damage but caused massive internal injury, killing them. “Pathetic.”, Everett gave as his parting words for their journey into eternal sleep.
Just then, a deep roar bellowed from beneath the group of men behind Everett and 6 men were simply pushed aside, away from the dwarf. Stalfor, with spear in hand and shouting “THARKIL! THARKIL!”, ran to the nearest Kikapa who was getting to his feet. Stalfor stabbed him in the face, savoring the “splat”. Running past him, he came upon of the two more targets. The Kikapa stabbed downwards at Stalfor, who dodged it, kept going forward, kicked the man’s left leg out from under him, and brought the blunt of the spear against the Kikapa’s back, throwing him to the ground.
Stalfor flipped the spear around in one hand and stabbed it into the man’s back. He loved his art.
“Come on!!!”, shouted Kage, who was now making a hasty retreat. The small force that had come to the island had slaughtered almost the entire war party and the others were scattered and reluctant to go after them.
Everett thought of running back to the village and finding Marina. He knew Stalfor would go with him, but he would be better off getting everyone else to help. He joined Kage and began to run in the direction the others escaped.
Viper couldn’t believe he was able to trade his lantern and tinderbox for a man’s daughter. He had instantly gotten bored for the past few days staying in the Kikapa village. Once the party had hit the island, they quickly befriended the nearby village. They planned to stay a week to hire supply carriers and plan an exact route to Temple of Vrek. Viper traded food for a room in one of the straw huts to stay and was given a proposition from the landowner. It took him a while to understand the man since they didn’t speak Common tongue but he soon began to understand the negotiation.
He was spending the third day with his new “wife” when the straw door was smashed open and a bunch of the Kikapas muscled him outside. He then saw some men with spears coming and he knew something was wrong. He acted quickly. A smash to the face sent the closest man from him to the ground. He ripped away from the rest of the men and ran back into the room and grabbed his humungous two-handed sword. Llana, his purchased, began screaming in her Kikapa tongue. “Calm down.”, barked Viper. A Kikapa ran and Viper used the great amount of strength needed to bring the massive object over his head and brought it crashing down on the Kikapa with great velocity. The resulting magnitude brought the blade from the Kikapa’s shoulders to the middle of his hip. Llana began screaming at the top of her lungs. Viper ran out of the hut and into a group of Kikapas, with spears, talking to each other. Two were immediately in front of him.
His sword reacted before his mind did and they were both dead before they could retaliate. He was then running full speed towards where the ship they had come to shore, where the rest of the party should be.
Not ten seconds later, he heard Marina Prayer’s voice shouting. He ran in that direction and found Marina wrestling with three Kikapas. Viper ran up, stabbing the first one in the back. The other two, knowing they were outmatched let go and ran. Viper was immediately angered when he saw her war mace still hanging on her belt, her shield still strapped to her back. Marina was a battle cleric, a pilgrim in plate mail. Though she was outfitted for destruction, her spell lore and attitude were that of knowledge and healing.
“Come on.”, ordered Viper.
“What’s going on!?!”, cried Marina.
“I don’t know. We’ve got to get to the ship.”, said Viper quickly.
They found the ship deserted. The slave rowers that had brought the boat to the shores had been released by Kage’s command on an agreement he had made with Marina.
“There’s no way they’re still in the village. They must have started towards the temple.”, said Viper, “But which way?” “I wasn’t working with them on that, but from what last I heard, they were planning to start off going in a northwesterly direct-“, said Marina.
“Are you sure?”, asked Viper, who was now putting on some spare plate mail he found. He had left his other one in the room he rented.
“I’m sure of what I heard. I don’t know if that’s the way they’re going now.”, she replied. Marina was truly disturbed. She thought the tribe was peaceful. She had been working hard to feed the poor and was succeeding in spreading the word of St. Judecris, matron saint of the goddess Lemeika, amongst many of villagers. Nothing was wrong. And then suddenly she was being attacked. She prayed for Everett to be all right. “Let’s go before they find us here.”, she said.
“What do you mean we shouldn’t go back right now!?!”, questioned Everett, as the party headed straight north.
“Billard and Stalfor are wounded. The rest of us barely escaped!”, stated Sir Kage.
The rest of the party was a half-mile away from village and still distancing themselves.
“Barely escaped?”, laughed Everett, “You saw how weak they are. We can easily break our way into the village.”, said Everett.
“Hey, the rest of us are here for the treasure. We aren’t your soldiers.”, retorted Greegan.
“I wasn’t talking to you, thief.”, retorted Everett.
“If they escaped, they escaped, and they may come to us. If they got captured, then they’ll probably still be there in a few days. Right now we need time to assess our wounds and rest. Then we’ll decide on what to do.”, ordered Kage “We should go back.”, said Kirby.
Kage ignored him, “Denier, how’s Billard?” “It’s hard to tell. It would help if Marina were here.”, replied Denier, examining Billard’s shoulder wound.
Everett threw his sword blade first into the ground as hard as he could.
“Everett, this is the-” “Look!”, interrupted Greegan. The others looked up to see several puffs of smoke rising in the air every second.
“A head hunt.”, said Denier.
“A what?!?”, asked Greegan.
“A practice where all the neighboring tribes get together to go on a hunt for humans. If they catch you, they torture you before beheading you, keeping your skull as an award. I thought this village didn’t practice it since I didn’t see any skulls on spears.”, defined Denier.
“Are you serious?”, Greegan snapped.
“We’ve got to get out of here.”, continued Denier, “The map says there are five villages, which means the war party will be… large . Plus they’re great trackers.” “All the more notches for me axe!”, bellowed an excited Stalfor.
Kirby tried to hold himself to stop from shivering. He couldn’t let them know he was scared.
“What do you know?!? You also said they wouldn’t attack us!”, accused Everett.
“Kirby? Are you okay?”, asked Billard.
“I told ye we shouldn’t be bringin’ no damn kid with us!”, Stalfor grumbled.
“Everett, if you want to go back, I understand. But we have to get moving out of here.”, stated Sir Kage, “I suggest you stay with us. You won’t save Marina by running back there and getting killed and she probably made it out with Viper anyway.” Everett then remembered something. He took off his backpack, opened it, and pulled out a crystal ball.
“Will that tell us if Marina is okay?”, asked Kage, interested.
Everett didn’t answer and began scrying. After a few minutes, he looked up and said, “They’re in the ship.” “Good. Then they’re safe.”, replied Kage, “Are you coming?” Everett nodded.
Sir Kage began arranging travel formation. They would be traveling long and hard that day to try and distance themselves from the headhunters. As the march began, Kage’s thoughts went back to how the whole campaign began…..