Righteous Work (I)

The men are assembled and our holy task begun (Job Thread)

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

Righteous Work (I)

Postby Elias Caldera on February 27th, 2019, 11:46 pm

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55th day of Winter, 518 AV
Following the events of Freeze Frame




“Tonight, we bring ruin to the enemies of Ravok!"

Ah, If ever there were words more assured to bring warmth to the heart of a soldier, Elias could not conceive them.

Naturally, a lusty, battle ready roar rose from over three dozen throats in response, a truly cacophonous battle cry that was followed by the thunderous rattling weapons that the stomping of boots.

Reaver Sqaud. Talon Sqaud. And the new kids on the block...

Elias cast a glance at the odd unit out in the assembly.

His unit.

Five soldiers, ten apprentices, some of the very best Ravok had to offer. A pointed fact that never failed to leave the Caldera beaming with pride, even in spite of circumstances. Most of his men had lived rather ‘thrilling’ lives before being assigned to his command, making all but one of them seasoned veterans of a score or more clashes against all manner of foe. Hell, even his apprentices had known the fervor conflict, for Elias had made sure to test them all whenever given the chance. City gangs and Zith raiders had been their meat and wine, but save for Malachai himself, Elias doubted any of them had yet to face such an enemy as today’s.

That likely included all the Ebonstryfe gathered here, honestly. The Talons, though veterans, were more noted for their silent hunters and trackers, bolstered by, most fittingly, the most reserved of their group. The Falcon, as the woman in charge of the Talons was referred, was a picture of Ravokian womanhood; strong, fearless and cunning, not to mention gifted by some goddess of nature that enabled her to turn even the most fearsome and rabid beasts of the wild into her doting ally. Her unusual moniker came as part of her unit’s tradition, apparently. Though he had learned from Malachai the woman’s real name was Vanya, The Falcon was a title passed down from leader to leader, with nearly two centuries’ worth of history and pride held sacrosanct by the troops who fought under her banner. It was a curious bit of ritual Elias had never before witnessed within the army, but while he couldn’t exactly understand it, that didn’t mean he couldn’t respect it. Vanya, or the Falcon rather, was much respected and revered woman, a officer who had more than earned not only her men’s conviction, but that of many others within the order as well. He figured with a reputation like that, it was better to err on the side of caution and get on her good side rather than her bad.

Not all seemed to share that sentiment however, for even as he flicked his eyes over, Elias could see the usually placid commander shooting her own side long and disgusted glance at the towering, vulgar form of a man standing beside her, the third and final of his fellow Commanders. The burly Svefra grinned mischievously, as if he’d just gotten away with something positively licentious. From the look on the Falcon’s face, he could tell whatever it had been, it had been at her expense. From what Elias had gathered, the two commanders were as opposite and therefore as friendly with one another as fire and ice. He had to imagine that made things around the war council… interesting, to say the least.

Just like their leaders, the Talons and Reavers couldn’t have been more unalike if they tried. The third unit were led by a hulking and barbarous man known as Vargus, a name that once terrorized the seas. Vargus the Reaver they’d once called him, the Svefra scourge of the northern tides. His men were rumored to be as much pirate as he was, carrying a bad reputation as raiders and thugs, even among the Order. Only a few times had Elias heard of them engaged in actual battle, culling Yukmen in the swamps or chasing down smugglers upon the lake, but they mostly patrolled the shores in search of their prey. Still, the Caldera was certain Malachai had chosen them for a reason, just as he had all the rest.

As Elias detached his focus from the eladership and surveyed the crowd once more, one in particular caught his eye, and not for the first time that evening either. Tall, strapping and ebon clad in obsidian steel, Taliya Solaire struck a menacing figure even among so many hardened soldiers. She held about her an almost palpable air of unapproachability, something aided dearly by the scowl of contempt she seemed to keep permanently plastered on her face. The girl had always had a chip squarely lodged on her shoulder, even as a young apprentice alongside Elias and her sister. What she returned as now however, put even that maligned youth to shame. The Caldera had to wonder, could he actually hope to control her, to give her orders and expect her to follow them? The things she had said to him upon their first calamitous meeting had made him weary and heartsick, but had also left a distinctly bitter taste in his mouth. He had believed his superiors had delayed assigning him a squad for as long as they had out of impotent spite, but now he realized they had only been biding their time, and that Elias and Taliya’s unexpected reunion within the same unit hadn’t been all that coincidental after all. The Kelvic siblings had been one thing, but this… this was a whole new level he hadn’t been expecting.

His enemies in the higher echelons of the Stryfe weren’t just powerful, they were committed to his downfall. That made them all the more dangerous, a fact he was reminded every time he looked upon Taliya and saw the hatred burning back at him in her eyes.

"Psst!" Valmont hissed, nudging him sharply. “Heads up.”

Snapped from his musings, the stryfer returned his attention to the front, only to find Malachai Quinn himself glaring at him with his one good eye. As usual th stern and ever stoic Drykas commanded full attention of his men, or at least he did now with Elias’s hasty return to attention. Even after years marching and slaying in Rhysols name -much of that time spent along Malachai’s side even- Elias still felt himself shrivel under the man’s glower.

Bugger, he though miserably, that's going to come up later...

"As I was saying," Quinn continued, pointing with a dagger to the map of the mainland, large and detailed as only the work of The Roost could be, "Black Sun intelligence has been receiving regular reports from their operatives in the field concerning a growing threat, located here-"

He pointed at the northwestern shore of the Soliceturn swamps, nearly thirty miles north of Ravok, which was marked as a cordoned-off green abyss on the map.

"They say numerous Dhani have been sighted and are currently mobilizing for some sort of attack. Black Sun is convinced these are the same snakes that attacked Ravok last season.”

A thrum of hushed dissent washed over the troops. The ice storms had killed and maimed many, claiming lives not just at the lakeshore, but at the heart of their city as well. Such an attack had not only shaken the very foundations of Ravokian conviction, but it had also threatened their very faith. For an enemy to have killed so many at the very center of Rhysol’s domain… it put into question everything the average Ravokian believed. If their god was not strong enough to protect them -or himself- from this threat, what else was Rhysol incapable of? It that dangerous, heretical kind of thinking that had made this icy invasion all the more jarring. Whats more, the fact that it had taken this long to find them, and it had been through the Black Sun of all people, only raised more doubts.

“And we believe them?” Elias shouted derisively. This time he did not shy away when Malach’s gaze fell upon him. It was well known how the Sun had mistreated the old Paladin in his time, manipulating and condemning him to years of torture and untenable battles, to name but a few of their crimes. Naturally, the Paladin’s sentiment towards their hallowed benefactors was something shared by those under his command. Few trusted the Black Sun, and there were even those like Elias who believed the frigid attacks upon their city had been their doing, not some conveniently foreign and unknown force. It wasn’t an opinion that ever passed his lips save in the company of his most trusted of course, but it just made more sense. Who else had all the power, means and reason to do what they had to Ravok; the most corrupt, vile and self-serving organization in the world, or a bunch of snakes?

“No.” Malachai answered, loud and explicit. “I do however trust in the Lady Falcon’s own reports. She has seen first hand this Dhani, and it seems the Black Sun are telling the truth. Their numbers have been growing, and they are preparing for something. This is a threat we cannot ignore. A threat I intend for the Exalted to purge from our lands." Another murmur of approval that the Paladin blessed with a rare, almost feral display of passion. He was not done. "If these truly are the foes who struck at us, who claimed so many of our people’s lives, then we are bound by more than duty and sacred obligation to destroy these curs. It is our right of vengeance to march upon them and reap our bloody retribution!"[/color]

"What of the other companies? What measures have they taken?" This time it was Vargus who spoke up, his rough, baritone tenor like sand paper to the ears. Elias thought for a tick he could actually smell the rum on the big mans breath even from so far away.

"A number of regiments have been hunting for few weeks now, but..." his jaw tightened briefly, though whether it was out of annoyance or grief Elias could not tell "their efforts have ended only in countless deaths, disappearances and no trace of the nest. Simply put, they call upon the Exalted to fix this problem. So fix it we will."[/color]

Elias nodded, already feeling the faint tremor from his blade. Cinder was shackled to his back and begged for release. He placed his hands on the hilt, almost lovingly. Reassurance of a promise that it would slate its thirst for blood and carnage soon enough.

“We deploy within the bell. Ready the boats.”
Last edited by Elias Caldera on February 27th, 2019, 11:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Righteous Work (I)

Postby Elias Caldera on February 27th, 2019, 11:49 pm

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"Petch me, I knew there'd be a catch..."

Elias had to actually bow his head for a moment, lest Malach see the crushed smirk on his face. Valmont’s muttered words did not carry far, but he knew that others were reacting the same way. Throats being cleared, feet shuffled, glances away... always the joker, that male. Malach flashed a look at the Syliran, and at once the old knight went ramrod straight, as if the Ebonlord himself was inspecting him.

This was only to be expected. A march would be too slow, especially with the fall and winter rains reducing much of the wetlands around the northern shore to a quagmire even worse than usual. This called for old fashioned Ravokian deployment. Unfortunately for Valmont, a lack of sea legs was no excuse to abandon your duties. A fact his poor prime had been learning the hard way ever since accepting his commission with the Stryfe.

"I am sure that some of you," Malachai said slowly, his last trio of words barbed and practically labelled ‘Valmont’, "are not looking forward to losing your lunch over the side of a rowboat, but we require the element of surprise. The Dhani will know in advance if we march from the Lakeshore outpost and could have time to move their nest or conceal it much better than if three units arrived out of the blue. If we move swiftly, under cover of night and dawn, we shall be ashore and inside the target area before they can properly mount a defense."

She turned back to the map and circled a large area north of the shore, the eerie marshes and dank swamps consuming much of the marked area.

"This is your hunting ground. Once you arrive, the units shall separate under each respective commander. Falcon, your trackers. Vargus, your raiders. Elias... your valiant and veteran heroes."

Even Elias cracked a wry smirk as the rest of the yard broke into chuckles and snorts. All except his unit, of course, who just stiffened and glared sullenly. Elias smiled as he felt the indignation pour off them like smoke; that fierce, familiar desire to prove themselves worthy. He snorted softly, pragmatism gaining sway over his amusement.

We will have our chance. If we are worthy, we may even survive it.

“Once in your groups, you will move to ensnare the snakes." Two fingers stabbed out to the top and bottom of the rough hunting ground. "Two groups will skirt the north and south, moving quickly and securing the perimeter. The third group will stay in the center, moving forward, pushing our enemy slowly north. Giving the flanking forces time to circle the battlefield..."[/color]

His finger moved slowly around the left and right sides of the circle before a single fist abruptly tapped the center.

"... and execute the pincer, trapping the serpents before they have a chance to escape. The Dhani will be there, waiting. The flank must move fast and sure, not allowing the enemy to escape or outrun the center group. Center must be painstaking in its pursuit, for any ground they cover that is not thoroughly searched could hide our enemy. These creatures have knack for burrowing themselves into hidey holes and caves. Eventually, we will root out the one that to the nest. "[/color]

The Paladin looked across the sea -well, small puddle, perhaps of eager, listening faced and nodded somberly.

"Few times before in our history has our nation’s sovereignty and grace been so blatantly assailed. I cannot say what this implies. What I do know however, is that a lesson must be taught, and the example set. Ravok’s strength is resolute. Our purpose clear. No enemy will ever shed her blood and live. Punishment for such a sin must be carried without mercy or delay, so that all those who doubt abroad and at home will know… you do not petch with the Ebonstryfe!"

A low, dangerous growl of approval rippled through the gathering.

"Your commanders know their orders, and you have yours. Ready yourselves for war, and make no mistake, to war is where we go."[/color] Malachai raised his fist high, turning to face the Palace. All of them would know blindfolded which direction it was in, and all aped her movement. "For Rhysol!"

"FOR RHYSOL!"

The briefing broke up quickly and as the units Leaders converged for discussion, the Fangs either intermingled or quarantined themselves. Elias's own mumbled or boasted or debated furiously, but he had eyes for someone beyond them. Even as he walked towards her, he could feel the eyes of other purebloods like him watching critically. Many of them did not approve, he knew that. Fortunately, most had been wise enough to know that Elias was not to be so idly advised on what company he kept.

"At ease, Dorne." he said as he approached the soldier, greeting her with his own halfhearted salute as the girl went rigid upon his approach. Sabel looked like a tangled mess of emotions, and even an untrained eye could spot all knots and coils. It made her aura almost dizzying to look upon. "I ask this not because doubt the answer, but because I owe you the question; Are you ready for this fight, soldier?"

Dorne’s entire form seemed to snap into almost combative stance, as clearly she’d been readying herself for this exact moment. As if to say ‘yes, I am half dhani, and yes I will hurt you if you imply my loyalties are not with Ravok.’ She had been preparing herself for some cruel barb or witless jest to be aimed her way, and instead what she had received had been a genuine and thoughtful call for concern. Her wrath and anger had been growing, honing itself into an edge she could drive at the first fool to question her commitment, and instead now it found itself listless and without a proper target. Sabel’s form soon followed as the Galatos mage deflated under the cold blue scrutiny of her commanding officer.

As her lips formed an answer, he became aware of another, paler pair of forms approaching them. It was a familiar, predatory gait he knew all too well in fact. Steady, poised, and more lithe than one would expect from such deceptive frames.

What did you expect? He chided himself. They are Kelvics after all.

“If the princess here doesn’t find Dhani blood to her liking, she can just hide behind us while we shed our fill, isn’t that right, brother?”

Elias allowed himself a sardonic raise of his eyebrow and flicked a glance at the duo. Amidst the crowd of heavily armored, black clad, Ravokian, the two stood out like a torch in a room of dancing shadows. Decima and Dominus, the Kevlic siblings and ex gladiators turned soldiers. While the others had covered themselves in thick plates of steel and leather, the vulture and her jackal shadow still garbed themselves as if this was some flashy bout on the sands. They wore patchwork slabs of this and that, easy to move in and even easier to shed on the fly, as he had learned. Being Kelvics they relied on their second form as much as any warrior would on their weapons. Their ability to shift was as much a tool outside the arena as it had been within, and had the stryfer not witnessed their marshal skill himself, he would have been the first to reprimand such dereliction of uniform. Instead, Elias merely wondered if they had truly come to grips with their freedom, and could recognize what life was outside the coliseum walls. Decima especially. There seemed to be a moment the young woman didn’t have the fire of fight burning behind her gaze.

The other snorted softly and gave her a wolfish grin. “Now, now, sister. It wouldn’t be right to hog all the fun. Our dear commander might find himself inclined to dirty his hands for once.”

Decimus, the brother. Usually the more levelheaded and cordial of the two, though it was obvious he couldn’t help himself from being caught up in his sister’s bloodlust and bravado from time to time. While his figure was athletic, it paled in comparison to the vulture. Less muscle, but also far less scars as well. Decimus was the brains behind the duo, for whatever that counted. Elias wasn’t sure which one of them was more dangerous, he just knew that when together, they made for even more deadly foe.

“Master Dominus, mistress Decima, so glad you both could set aside some from licking yourself to join us.” Elias countered in the same condescending and disdainful tone to two barely bothered to cloak their insults with. “Or, is it called ‘preening’ for you birds. You know I’ve never been quite certain on the etymology. What about you, Dorne?”

“Oh, I don’t know, sir.” Sabel retorted flatly as she leveled a hard eye against the two “I just try to make sure I’m not downwind their breath.”

Decima flashed a sneer, body tensing and surging forward for a conflict, but her brother’s arm quickly barred the way. Elias took the opportunity to make his position as vivid and clarion as possible. “Hear me and understand my words with the clarity of crystal; You will not jeopardize this mission to sate your personal vendetta. You will follow my orders as I give them, when I give them. Anything less and the next unit to come marching through that swamp will find two new examples of what happens to disobedient stryfers hanging from the willows.”

“Am I absolutely clear, soldier?”

Decima’s face was a mangled mess of fury and unmitigated despise. “Crystal, sir.” Dominus muttered, his once tranquil demeanor ever so slightly marred by the same feelings as his sister. “Come sister. We have to prepare, but our commander can rest assured, we will be watching his back out there.”

With that snide and thinly veiled threat delivered, the two departed, quickly melding into the churning sea of recruits and soldiers that clamored around the camp making ready.

Elias frowned to himself, a new thought surfacing. He was a Myrian, pure in both blood and mentality, and the concept of not destroying an enemy that had made itself known to him was of the worst repugnance. They had tried to kill him once already, and he more than certain they would try again before long. The fact that they still drew breath, and in his presence to boot…

Oh, if it were but that simple, an odd and more measured part of his mind offered, yet here you are, marching with two shifters who want you dead, a sea sick Syliran, and a half-Dhani greenhorn who has never seen real combat in her life. Not to mention Taliya and all the baggage that comes along with that mess. If this is not a challenge of your leadership, then it is a death sentence and the headsman’s axe looms high. It’s time to decide whether this is the path you commit to, or the one you flee.

"I am."

Sabel’s uncharacteristically stern voice wrenched his thoughts from introspection and he allowed his gaze to wander both to them and those around them. Surrounding the two were milling warriors, exchanging greetings, advice, even insults and challenges. Such a pugnacious people. But there was purpose to this apparent chaos, and he could see it even at a glance. Rations of dried meat and fruit were being passed around and packed into knapsacks. Weapons prepared and sanctified by quick prayers.

“You asked me if I was ready, sir.” The young woman reaffirmed as she looked him dead in the eye. “I am.”

Elias nodded.

"Alright, you dogs!" Vargus, of course, booming voice cutting through the dun of preparation. "The boats are ready and the waves await! Form up and get ready to move!"
User avatar
Elias Caldera
Playa
 
Posts: 902
Words: 1255874
Joined roleplay: September 14th, 2013, 1:28 am
Location: Ravok
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Character sheet
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Featured Character (1) Featured Thread (2)
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