Friday, 18 May 2018

Thy Soul to Keep, Part 9

Messages in the Rain

The rain had been falling for hours, its hammering accompaning the rise and fall of voices as the three men argued in the shelter of the derelict barn.
"We've been sitting for days here!" shouted Karol, repeating his point for the humpteenth time "We must move! What's happening needs fixing. And those damned orruks deserve to taste some iron and gunpowder!"
"Well, my friend" interjected Fernando, the usual sardonic smile on his lips "we don't want to go out in that, don't we? That's the last decent mantle I have, would you wish to ruin it in that hellish rain?"
"Karol has a point, though" came the reply of Lucius "How do you explain that fear that gripped us all... and the duardin acting mighty peculiar?"
"I'm still alive, and that's all that matters. I'm not going to risk my skin against something that's best left to wizards..."
The hammering of the rain filled the silence as the three men looked sideways at Kalyustar, huddled in his mantle in the far corner of the barn. He knew it would have come to this.
"I am as blind as you are as to what is happening. Something happened after the soulstorm. My powers of foresight fail me now."
"For Sigmar's sake!" Karol voice boomed over the noise of the rain "We should have listened to the Witch Hunter and handed you over!"
Kayustar teeth clenched behind his mask. His staff started to lean forward, corposants running around its brass top.
"That's it, Karol!" Lucius' voice froze Kalyustar on the spot "We find van Toorn. He will know what to do!"
'Yes! Let them find the Witch Hunter. And then...'
The Skull was speaking to him again. Instantly, Kalyustar knew what to do.
"I will pardon your rushness, Cuirassier, for you are right. We need Pieter van Toorn's guidance in this. You will search the woods for him. We will move into Wörtbad and keep duardin and orruks away from you."
"There it goes my mantle! And I was hoping it would have lasted me a few days more!" Fernando drew his sword and made for the barn door, calling his Fencers around him.

As the Free Companies of the Gilded Hand approached the village under the constant rain, a clutch of Skywardens and Endrinriggers bobbed into view. Their course was set for the Sky Dock, and the Rotmoons clustered into the Chapel courtyard.

The duardin moved at full speed to take position at the feet of the Sky Dock. Their shots cluttered harmlessly against the walls of the Chapel yard. With a laugh, the Rotmoons jumped the wall and prepared to charge.

Karol wispered something to Yuri the trumpeter and spurred his steed towards the woods.

Slowed by the rain, only two orruks made it to the Sky Dock courtyard and felled an Endrinrigger. With consummate skill, his companions serried ranks and stopped the orruk advance.

Kalyustar could have not asked for a better situation and turned to his men. "Forward, but hold your line! As long as they fight each other, Karol can make his way out of the village!"

Admiral Gunnerson charged past his crew, his hammer making short work of the two orruks.

Kalystar could not figure why, but then the Raidho Othalas poured all their fire onto the ogor at the back of the Rotmoons' line.

The ogor survived the volley, but then a screaming gheist dragged him away. Howling in frustration, Kapitán da Leeva ordered an all out charge.

The rain suddenly stopped. Raising the trumpet to his lips, Yuri blowed a single, long note. The Curaissiers responded with a cry of 'Vengeance!' and spurring their steed forward opened fire on the orruks.

Let the fools go! came the wisper of the Skull. "Hold your line! Marksmen, loose!". A hail of bolts fell on the rearmost orruks.

The Cuirassiers slammed into the fighter massed in the courtyard.

Kalyustar turned around to see Karol skirting around the edge of Wörtbad and disappearing into the woods.

Da Leeva slamming a Cuirassier and his horse on the ground was all that it took to convince the men that it was time to fall back.

'Well done, Soulchemist! Your man will bring you the Witch Hunter... or his corpse. But that matter little to us, doesn't it?'
Kalyustar jarred. What was the Skull hinting at?
'Beware tough! The duardin are no fools! Look! One of them makes it to the Sky Dock.'
The wizard turned to see an Endrinrigger floating through the Dock side door. In his hand, he clutched what seemed like a scroll.
'Trust no one, Soulchemist!'

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