Iron Kingdoms - 500 Fights

Hunters Become the Hunted

Hunters become the hunted
DONARD/TRINEUS/606/16
The rain began to let up over The Dig. It was now much easier to hear the cries of the wounded echoing off the rocky cliffs that loom over the area. Marco looked around and couldn’t help feel remorse for these poor people. He for too long has seen the faces of the innocent after battle. Their confused and scared faces made Marco’s hate for those like the Cryx burn hot within him. Many called out in fear insisting the attack was not over. Many more could be seen running to flee the area; run away from the horrors they have just seen. As the chaos continued an unnaturally fog settled across the area and in the middle of it were three figures stood quietly assessing the damage and looking for more attackers.
“Could they be waiting to regroup and attack again?” Jack asked as he assessed the area.
“No, it is not their way.” Nolan replied. “They got what they came for.” Marco added “The fog is to help them escape back to where they came from”
“Cowardly” Nolan added as he spit the words out of his mouth.
Marco continued to access the area and suspected the Cryx were gone for good. He knew a raiding party when he saw one. However it was what they came for he feared most. The Cryx attackers may have taken prisoners as this attack did not last long and seemed focused. It seemed logical enough but something was not quite right and he felt there was more to this attack. He couldn’t figure it out and he did not have time to worry now. Then the unsettling fog grew heavier giving him pause to do anything else for the moment. Then it hit him, he couldn’t figure out how the Cryx knew of this area. People have been here for only a couple of months. Are the Cryx normally hiding out in The Ditch wondered to himself? Just then Nolan spoke up quickly pulling him back to the now.
“Movement in the Fog” Nolan’s voice was that of the soldier; calm and impassive.
X X X
Stacks moved fast though the tall rock formation area of the Ditches known as the Crag Forest because of the all the pillars of rock that stretch to the sky like trees. He was tired and a bit winded moving throughout the morning trying to get back to the Dig. He saw the Cryx ships earlier as he moved south down the coast and something didn’t fit right. He decided to return to the The Dig to warn Addlesmith of Cryx movement in the area. As got closer he could hear the sound of battle and began to fear the worse. His pace quickened and he kept his rifle ready. Just as he feared; a Cryx raiding party attacked The Dig.
“Damn, by all the Gods is there no safe haven from the Cryx?” He said insultingly as if to call down the Gods themselves.
He rounded a large rock formation and could see the Dig on fire. The fog was thick and the only thing he could hear was the sounds of wounded and dying.
“Seems the cowards hit hard and ran” He said out loud again this time talking to himself. He moved slowly but surely thought the fog toward the Dig and then noticed three figures standing in the middle of the Dig. It seems they noticed him too.
X X X
Nolan spotted the lone figure and moved to a defensive position. Marco sword in hand called out to the stranger.
“Who are you?”
The figure slowed but continued to move toward them.
Marco called out once again and moved to intercept the new comer “I say again who you are!”
Stacks stopped as a Cygnaran Officer moved toward him. He put his hands up and shouted back
“My name is Stacks; I work for Professor Addlesmith from time to time. I saw the Cyrx raiding ships along the coast early this morning and thought this place could be in trouble. I traveled back as quickly as I could to warn Professor Addlesmith”
Marco looked at Nolan then Jack. “You know him Jack?”
“He’s ok. I came here with him a couple of days ago and he and I survived a local…dispute back in Bloodstone.”
Marco turned back to Stacks and simply told him “You’re too late” then signaled to move forward. Soon the men exchanged there recollections of what happened. Stacks could see the five or six dead Cryx at the feet of the 3 men in front of him and guessed that these new comers were solid fighters or Jack was better than he thought.
After the introductions and catch-up Marco and Nolan decided help the area that was burning and speak to the local leadership trying to figure out if anyone or anything was taken? Stacks spoke with Addlesmith and made sure his team was ok. The four heroes meet back up in the main tent where they found Jack waiting patiently. Drinking patiently, Marco decided he was going after the Cryx invaders after speaking to Harusworths people. Students were taken and Marco feared the worst. He relayed his plan to rescuer the prisoners the mercenaries around him knowing Nolan would be at his side no matter what. Surprisingly Jack was in. It seems his word is good and with the money Marco paid him earlier Jack said he is still in Marcos employ. With Nolan and Jack ready to go he decided to hire Stacks for added support and move out after the invaders.
The four of them moved swiftly through the grounds with Stacks tracking the Cryx with relative ease thought the area known now as the Crag Forest The place is known for Dreg ambushes and kept an eye to the sky as they traveled. Before too long they could smell the sea air and knew they were close. Stacks noticed dark smoke rising above his head as he quietly worked his way to the top of the bluff. As he reached the top he noticed just how he was going earn the gold he was being paid. The raiding party was moving the slaves into long boats and oh…they were being watched by two Bone Jacks.
Stacks moved back to his group and told the bad news and what they were up against. Marco and Nolan were concerned more about the time they had left to act as the prisoners were being moved to the rather large ship in the middle of the bay. Marco wasted no time putting a plan together. Risky as it was he put himself and Nolan in the middle of danger with the two mercenaries flanking them and giving cover. They all check their gear and made to the top of the bluff.
The group quickly charged down the bluff toward the beach and the Cryx pirates. Jack was surprised at how fast the soldier Marco and his Warcaster were at navigating the rough terrain down the hill. Jack moved slower but was reading his pistols at the nearest Cryx pirate as he made his way toward danger. The fighting broke out immediately with Marco and Nolan’s war cries ringing out. The Cryx at first were stunned and those in the long boats rowed quickly to escape what they thought was a full blown Cygnaran attack. Those on the beach were taken by surprise but recovered quickly as the Bone Jacks began to fire on Marco and Nolan. As the fighting pressed on Marco was beginning to worry about the numbers they were against. Just then the Bone Jack to his left erupted in flames and smoke as Stacks ripped a shot straight through it.
“Worth it” he thought to himself.
Jack continued to press the Satyxis marshaling the Bone Jacks firing his weapons with what seemed to be reckless abandon to Marco. Nolan kept a watchful eye on all party members and added concentrated support where needed. In the end they defeated the Cryx on the Beach but sadly, were unable to save the prisoners. In the middle of all the fighting the Cyrx had killed the remaining prisoners on the beach. As Nolan began to inspect the bodies for signs of necromancy Marco noticed the long ships were retuning.
“Those ships are retuning and there in nothing we can do now” He yelled out. He hated leaving but knew they were no match for an entire boarding party. Nolan protested but knew their limits as well. The four quickly ran back up the bluff as the long ships made their way on to the beach and began to disembark.
The four mercenaries ran back through the Crag Forest and could hear the sounds of the Cryx pirates all around them. They were tired, outnumbered and wounded and decided to dig in. They found an area where there was limited entry points and high ground for Stacks to rain down fire from his rifle. They readied themselves and waited. The cryx became louder and louder as their war cries echoed ominously off the stone walls. Then silence.
The mercenaries waited. The pirates came at once. Marco, Nolan and Jack held their ground below as Stacks began to unload a hail of fire from above. Still the attackers pressed toward them. Jack dispatched the group before him with precision shots, quick thinking and a little help from above…Stacks. Nolan and Marco moved back to back and fought like they always have…for the man next to them. It worked. Before too long the Cryx attackers noticed they were outmatched and began to retreat. But our mercenary heroes were not that lucky. The noise of the fight caught the attention of a Thrullg. It charged into the battle and quickly moved toward Nolan with hunger in its eyes as Nolan’s arcane energy was strongest. Nolan tried to cast a spell but was stopped short and his whole body range out in pain as the thrullg’s ability to consume arcane energy tapped into Nolan. Marco noticing his friend’s pain moved to intercept the new attacker. The thrullg’s attacks were not reckless as Marco believed they would be. Making things worse the power of the beast was overwhelming. He was losing ground but was quickly relieved as he began to hear shot after shot from Jack and Stacks. Nolan recovered and joined the fray. In the end, our hero’s defiance in the face of death proved to be enough. They lived. Battered and bruised they may be…they lived.

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