Getting to the Point
GETTING TO THE POINT
As the surrounding Dalyr tribesmen were closing in around Gildenhanna’s small army, the Jawann warriors were tensing for a battle to the death. The Lord was worried that they may not wait for the attackers to move, but go and attack first.
“Hurry, Wizard,” he said in a hushed voice.
“Quiet yourself,” Dorsea snapped as he raised his staff high. He struck the turf with it and raised it again, bringing forth a massive flame illusion. It was the same one he had used thirty years before, when he and his Lord were on quest through Jawa. A ball of flame ten feet around rocketed into the air and exploded high above, sending a shower of flaming rain all around them. The flames quickly grew into a solid ring taller than a man.
The charge began straight ahead on the path they had been taking. The idea was to cut through only a portion of the circle and get out of the killing field. They could at least stand a chance if things went badly, whereas remaining in the field surrounded would be certain death. The line of men, led by the Gelts, ran forward through the illusory flame wall. Expecting to meet angry warriors, they held tightly their weapons, but emerging from the flames, they found all of the tribesmen down on their knees with their faces to the ground, cowering. Magic was greatly feared by them, and, no doubt, their close proximity to Styric had made them familiar with his threatening powers, they were in no hurry to mix it up with an unknown Wizard with unknown powers.
As a result, Gildenhanna’s army moved quickly into the cover of the forest once again and kept up a good pace away from the killing field. They were aware that the Dalyr tribe was shadowing them, for they could hear their movements at a distance through the wood. Perhaps they were content to watch the strangers and make sure they cleared their land, or maybe they were maneuvering to another place of ambush. That much would be left to Chance, and for now, they would just keep moving toward the target.
The day wore slowly on, and the wary comrades walked on, half expecting some kind of attack at any moment, but none came. Gildenhanna was expecting that nightfall would tell the tale; if the Dalyr were to make a move, most likely it would happen then. So, the decision was made to keep moving into the night. Led by Dorsea’s Staffglow, which not only lighted their way, but reminded the tribesmen that there was a Wizard afoot, the army marched on for as long as their strength would hold—hopefully as far as the east coast of Jawa.
Even moving in the stillness of the night, they were aware of the tribesmen’s shadow. Sometime after midnight, however, the shadow had ceased. The army continued for more than an hour farther before the decision was made to stop for the night. The coast was still perhaps two leagues away, and the group did not want to get there exhausted and in the dark. If they could rest until dawn, they could easily make the Point by mid-morning.
The Hordannic sunrise was starting to illuminate the world as the army conglomerate was pulling out of their impromptu camp. The men were sluggish, but a decent amount of their travel provisions, brought them back to life on the march. As estimated, by mid-morning, they could catch glimpses of the strait through the trees as the land began to slope down toward the sea. Further down the slope, they halted behind a ridge and dispersed off of the well-worn path to surveille the ferry landing dock.
About a hundred yards from the ridge, Gildenhanna could see a group of soldiers lounging about the area, maybe twenty in all. Far out in the strait, the mast of the ferry could just be seen; it was perhaps an hour out. These soldiers were obviously waiting for it.
“So, we wait,” said Gildenhanna.
“Yes?” questioned the Wizard, “but if you will take my advice, we shall not wait.”
“And do what? We cannot take the ship from here.”
“Kill the soldiers on the landing and dress our marines in their garments, so that when the ship comes for them, we can board her more easily. Diminish Chance,” suggested Dorsea.
The Lord thought for a moment. “Fetch Todmensche.”
After the plan had been explained to the barbarian leader, the various groups stealthily took positions and readied themselves for their parts. When the men were in place, the trap was sprung.
Three archers from Gilden Hold walked out to the shore about fifty yards from the dock and let loose a volley of arrows into the soldiers. Naturally, the soldiers were not pleased with this, and most of them took off down the beach in pursuit. That’s when the barbarian warriors swarmed the beach with their Kyrean blades and began cutting them down. Another group came up from the other side of the dock and engaged the remaining soldiers. The entire battle lasted only about five minutes, and when it was over, three Jawann and one Gelt lay dead amongst the bodies of twenty-two of the Styric Hold soldiers. It was not a bad loss compared to the gain, or so leaders have to consider such trades in times of war. The bodies were stripped of their garments and cleared away, while the dock washed of blood. Hopefully, the onshore breeze would carry away the smell of death.
The Gelt marines were grumbling as they put on the clothes of the Styric soldiers. Many of them took the garments to the water’s edge to wash away the blood and stench before donning them. Better wet than, well, disgusting.
The rest of the army moved down and took cover lower down to the dock and waited for the ferry as it slowly approached. Many were able to get a little sleep as they lay hidden in the bushes. Dorsea and Gildenhanna went to the dock to check on their marines. The Wizard cast a spell on them to give them Styric accents in case they needed to talk. The Lord gave them a story to help explain any inconsistencies in their appearances.
It was nearly an hour later when the ferry was getting close. The Jawann were alerted and made ready. Nervously waiting on the dock, the marines had been playing around with their new accents and practicing their story.
Finally, the heavily laden ferry moored, and its manifest of soldiers began disembarkation immediately. There were about two hundred of them, and the marines stepped off of the dock entirely to allow them to pass. Even more nervous with the advent of so many fighting men, they were more than happy to simply let them pass. One of the officers approached them and asked where their Captain was, and one of the marines had to do some fast talking to explain that they had been set upon by northern barbarians on the way back from Enverra with an important message for Lord Styric. The officer had seemed satisfied, and the men disappeared over the ridge and into the forest.
After a few minutes of regaining their composure, the ferry crew began to harass them to get aboard so that they could get home before dark. And with that, the marines went aboard and killed them, taking the vessel. There was a lot of yelling and swearing as the crew was dying with the view of Gildenhanna’s army of barbarians teeming aboard.
The mooring lines were cast off, and the boat pulled away from shore under the control of the Gelt marines. The fray had not gone unnoticed by the army of Styric soldiers, who came running back to the skirmish. But they were too late to do anything but swear at the pirates, as the takeover had been so swift.
With the sound of Styric curses being hurled at them, Gildenhanna simply directed the crew to sail north in the strait. They would make for a landing above the Styric ferry dock, where there would hopefully be no forces to oppose them. So long as they stayed out of sight of land until dark, the only thing that would cause concern for the ferry folk on the Styric side was that the ferry was late.
Gildenhanna and Dorsea gave each other qualified congratulations on making it thus far, but in the back of their thoughts, they perceived the hours ticking by as they got closer to the goal. In a mere day and a half, they would face Styric, and to the two Gelts, that would mean death, no matter the outcome.