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Warmaster: Deliverance

Guest ScirosDarkblade

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Guest ScirosDarkblade

[SIZE=1]*note: see Warmaster: Deliverance Recruitment thread for key to [*] codes[/SIZE]
[P]The city of Crescent, wondrous capital of Crescent Realm, was bathed in sunlight as dawn arrived. Located on the western shore of the great continent Crescentians call Aspada, the city was home to the largest port and trade market there was. Northwest of the Isocrags, at least.

[P]Isocrags. The vast mountain range that divided the continent into three regions--the Northwest, the Northeast, and the South. The name given the mountains had no relation to their shape, but rather to their function. They effectively isolated the three regions of Aspada from each other, greatly slowing the mixing and trade of knowledge, culture, and civilization. Because ocean-going trade vessels were still in their early stages of evolution, trading between the regions was also nonexistent.

[P] Sciros stood by the window of his quarters in Crescent Palace, looking out into the distance. The window faced East, and the sun rose to meet his glare. It had been three months since the war against Rellus[E][A] began, and no victory was in sight. Phyrax[G][A], one of Crescent's two Warmasters, was at the front, leading Crescent's army against the warlord. Warmaster Sciros remained within the city walls, controlling the flow of troops to the front as well as the armament production. The front was five days' away by mount, and very precise management was necessary to benefit the war effort.

[P]The war began well enough, with Phyrax pushing Rellus's army nearly half a mile back. But the tables soon turned. Three devastating defeats halved the forces Crescent had commited, and the first wave of reinforcements was soon sent. Two thousand men had been lost, and seven hundred were sent to take their place. But the defeats continued, and within two months' time Crescent had lost four thousand men and Rellus at most fifteen hundred. Every time the reason for the loss was different -- an ambush here, a sabotage there, poor weather conditions. The bad luck Phyrax was suffering had no end.

[P]Crescent was the only realm on Aspada which was blessed enough to have two "Crescents" of its own. Beings born on the night when all three of the world's moons were so aligned that all one saw was one blue C-shaped crescent in the sky. Beings with abilities beyond understanding, with the strength of ten men and the stamina of a hundred, and with the speed of a viper. Seemingly born to dominate the battlefield, only a few existed at any given time throughout all of the world. Yet Crescent Realm had two -- Sciros and Phyrax. And that is why it was called thus, in fact.

[P]Interestingly enough, so far the only Crescents in history were adsan, not human. The adsans, the second of the continent's two species of dominant life (with humans being the first), were humanoid with just a few key differences. They were tough-skinned, with colors ranging from light teal to gray to beige. They had no noses, and smelled with special organs in their mouths located right behind their upper teeth. They had no ears, but membrane-covered slits on the sides of their heads served the same function. They had hair on their scalps, but most males shaved it. Their body hair was so small and fine it was virtually nonexistent. And they were generally taller and more physically able than humans.

[P]Were the adsans more advanced than humans? Physically, yes. But their minds were simpler. They had no talent for the arcane art, and most had no talent for any arts at all. Evolved for a simple existence, that is how most chose to live. But the arcane arts were still very undeveloped in the Northwest region of Aspada, and so adsans were in fact seen as superior citizens by those who were not otherwise artistically inclined. Humans went to choral performances, theatres, and dance festivals. Adsans stayed at home and practiced their smithing and combat skills.

Although who is to say that crafting weaponry is not an art? Perhaps the adsans' creativity was just channeled differently. And surely enough there were a few talented singers and dancers among the species, but they were as rare as Crescents.

Phyrax was the more physically skilled of the two Warmasters, and felt more at home on the battlefield than Sciros did. He led the attacks in nearly every campaign, with Sciros staying behind to take care of other matters. Both, however, were spectacular killing machines if they had to be. Phyrax's head count, to this day, exceeded 600, and Sciros's approached 400. Trained in the arts of war since childhood, Crescent's Warmasters had made full use of their birth-given potential. And they had led their realm to victory countless times.

[P]And yet, this time Phyrax was losing decisively, and to a much more poorly trained force at that. Rellus was no Crescent himself, although he was one of the most feared adsans in the region. But going against someone like Phyrax should have been suicide. Yet it was not. Instead Crescent was on the cusp of a complete loss, and with only one thousand troops on the front and one thousand left within the city, turning the tide seemed out of the question.

[P]To top things off, rather than retreating a month ago, Phyrax had been constantly requesting more reinforcements. A messenger had just arrived from the front, and was waiting to be received by the Chancellor of Crescent, who was the ruler of the realm and the one man whose authority surpassed that of Sciros and Phyrax. No doubt the message asked for yet more troops.

"It will not be long before the city falls if Phyrax does not fall back himself," Sciros said to himself as he looked straight into the star that cared for his world. He fastened his Warmaster scarf to his left shoulder, turned, and walked towards and down the winding stairs to the throne room.

As he entered the great marble hall, its columns adorned with blue stones and gold rings, he saw five figures rather than four. The human Chancellor Orom[G][A] sat in his blue marble throne, surrounded by his two adsan guards. And opposite him were standing the weary messenger, and another, unfamiliar figure. He was cloaked in a dark brown cloth, and held a staff with a skull on top of it.

[i]Is the Chancellor recruiting some help I am not aware of?[/i] the Warmaster thought to himself. [i]Well whoever this is, he chose an inopportune time to visit.[/i] He approached the messenger, and before the travel-weary man had a chance to open his mouth, spoke himself.

"I am ordering a full retreat. I do not care what news you bring from the front, I will send no more men to their deaths."

"But great-Warmaster, the letter great-Warmaster Phyrax sends says that with just another wave of troops he will turn the war to our favor and crush the mercenaries. I beg you to reconsider. Great-Warmaster Phyrax says you do not understand the situation like he does."

"Silence!" Sciros was at the end of his patience. "I will write the order to retreat within the hour, and send you back with one copy." He turned towards the Chancellor. "I will take a second and head to the front myself tomorrow. We will bring our men back, if you will just allow me temporary superiority over Phyrax."

The Chancellor looked into the Warmaster's eyes. The pupils had almost faded into white. Sciros was not in a mood to be further aggravated.

"You have it. But I will not allow you to take more than two hundred men with you to assist in the retreat. We need all the backup defense we can afford, at this point."

Sciros bowed his head once. "I agree. Thank you, Chancellor." He then turned back to the messenger. "Go to the guest quarters and await my call for you. Now!"

"Yes, great-Warmaster." The frightened messenger scurried away.

Sciros now turned his attention to the cloaked figure. "And you? Who are you and what business do you have with the Chancellor, or myself?"[/COLOR]
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The man stood before Sciros, his black eyes staring as if they could see into his soul.

"My name is Narozyk," he said slowly, " I am a necromancer, hailing from the mountains Isocrags......where I have learned my art."

Sciros sighed, "Well, whoever you are, what do you want with me? I'd expect someone like you to throw in with Rellus."

" Come now, just because I work with the dead does not make me evil...." he let out a cackling laugh, sending shivers down Scrios' spine. "I came here to tell you that I believe that my services would be....beneficial to you."

"How so?"

"You are short on troops. I," he said, spreading his arms, "have as many as I need." as he finished his last sentance, he slammed his hands together, and slowly spread his fingers over the ground, chanting softly. The stones under his hands began to shake, then were pushed out of place by a skeletal head, followed by a torso and legs.

"This is merely a taste of what I can do. I can turnyour dead into my mindless servants." Narozyk gloated. He then clenched his hand and the skeleton who he had raised turned to dust. "I wish to help you with your little war here. As long as I get my just rewards."
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Guest ScirosDarkblade
[COLOR=DarkSlateGray]"This is no little war," Sciros coldly replied. "Crescent hangs by a thread at this point, and should it fall it would have been the worst war fought in half a century."

"It won't fall if I don't let it."

Sciros was irritated by the necromancer's seeming arrogance. "I don't hire mercenaries. Let alone those who will control troops I cannot."

"Then how do you expect--" Narozyk was cut short by the Warmaster.

"It's not even as much a question of trust as you might think. If you alone control a force then you are all that needs to be killed to defeat that force. Correct?"

"Well I have other abilities at my disp--" Narozyk began but Sciros ignored the reply.

"In any case, you will be putting your life in great peril if you assist us. But I don't hire mercenaries, so if you wish you may join our army, but you will be paid as much as any other soldier."

"That hardly seems--"

"Plus the hazard pay your position would require. Which, I would imagine, is more than enough to live comfortably. But you will not be a mercenary. Agreed?"

Narozyk did not relish the idea of working in an establishment where he would have to answer to so many superiors. "And if I leave as soon as you have your victory?"

"If we have our victory? Hah. If we have our victory I will so pleased I'll make you a High Weaponlord if you so wish. But of course you can leave whenever you please. I do not hold men bound to a life they do not want."

"In that case, I agree. But as soon as we have won, I leave."

Sciros gave the Chancellor a quick glance. The ruler of Crescent was watching both men with interest. He did not interfere. The Warmaster turned back to the necromancer. He spoke with his [i]commanding[/i] voice.

[P]"Welcome to the Crescent armed forces, necromancer Narozyk. Your official position is Siege Lieutenant, but for the time being I want you at my side. Your orders are as follows: you will travel with me and my company to the front tomorrow morning. You will assist in the retreat as best you can."

"The retreat?? But--" Narozyk was nearly furious. He had not been so insulted in a long, long time. His knuckles whitened as he squeezed his staff in his hands.

[P]"You heard me. I will, within the hour, issue the order to retreat, and it [i]will[/i] stand. Necromancer, you may be powerful or you may not. I will give you the benefit of the doubt. But if Crescent launches an offensive whose success rests on you and you alone, then should you fall there will be no recovery. I cannot take such a risk when so much has already been lost. But you may be extremely helpful in holding back Rellus's forces as our army retreats. Should you die assisting us in [i]this[/i], nobody will have to pay for it but you."

Narozyk was angered, but nothing was going to change Sciros's mind. "Yes, Warmaster," he said, conceding. [i]What does he take me for?[/i] he thought to himself. [i]I am not some amateur dark mage. I will show him what I am capable of when we are on the battlefield.[/i]

Sciros bowed to the Chancellor, and started walking towards the stairs he had previously descended. "I will call for you in an hour, Siege Lieutenant Narozyk. I will want to formulate the plan for our retreat. ... And don't forget, if we have a necromancer there's nothing that says Rellus doesn't have twenty. After all, he is soundly defeating us. So don't hope in the least to turn the tide; I don't."

Narozyk was left alone in the throne room, standing opposite Chancellor Orom. "What do [i]you[/i] think of my proposal, Chancellor?" the necromancer asked.

"Sciros has never made a wrong decision strategically, necromancer. That is why he is always at my side. I would not question his orders if I were you. I do not question them myself."

Narozyk could not hide the aggravation he felt from the situation. His jaws tightened and his nostrils flared. The Chancellor only smiled, and continued speaking.

"But that is not to say that you cannot offer yourself in whatever capacity to Phyrax once you reach the front. He is a Warmaster as well, after all. "

"But you gave this one superiority over the other, didn't you?"

"Yes, but that is important only to Phyrax. The soldiers will not suddenly stop following his orders and start following those of Sciros. But Phyrax should follow Sciros's orders. So if Sciros orders Phyrax to order [i]you[/i] to do something, then you will have to do it. But if he does not you will be free to follow whichever one last gave you orders. Understand?" As the Chancellor said this his eyes flashed blue for a moment.

[i]He is clearly more than an average human[/i], thought the necromancer. [i]Perhaps he is some arcane master. But, then again, that does make sense. Who would preside over two of someone like that Warmaster with nothing but two pitiful guards to give weight to his words?[/i]

"I understand," the necromancer said, his expression having changed to a more content one.

"Good. Now, go to the armory and get yourself equipped for the field. Sciros will call you in an hour, and I expect he will hold you for some time."

Narozyk gave a small bow to Chancellor Orom, and left the throne room.[/COLOR]
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Narozyk left the room and headed towards the armory, wondering once again what had become of his brother upon the frosty peaks of the Isocrags. When the snow storm hit, they had been seperated. If that hermit hadn't found him...... he shook his head. There was no sense dwelling in the past, anyway. He approached the armory door, where a guard stood, armed with a spear.

"Halt!" he cried, leveling his spear at Narozyk's stomach, "Identify yourself!"

"My name is Narozyk," he said, pushing the guards spear away with his scepter,"and I suggest that you get yourself and that crude pig-sticker out of my way before I get annoyed."

The guard gulped, as if just by looking into Narozyk's eyes he was sealing his own fate.

"Just....go ahead," he said, shuffling out of the way.

Narozyk smirked and walked into the room, sneering at the racks with heavy armor and weapons that were too big to use efficiently. He went through the piles, searching first for an appropriate armor. After 15 minutes of going through most of the available armor, he finally found something that would do. It was a breast plate made entirely from human bone. With it, he found a matching pair of skeletal greaves. Choosing to us his own weapon, he took his armor and went to his assigned quarters to rest and prepare for the following day.
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Guest ScirosDarkblade
[COLOR=DarkSlateGray]Sciros was once again in his quarters, and once again standing by the window staring out East. A scribe was sitting in the room, preparing ink, a pen, and a large sheet of paper.

"Are you ready, Maks?"

"Yes, great-Warmaster."

"Good, then start writing: The following order is issued by Sciros, Warmaster of Crescent. All Crescent forces retreat. All without the city gates are to return immediately. Soldiers at the front are to cease all offensive maneuvers. All commanders are to gather their troops and begin marching back to Crescent City within the day. ...The day that this order is read to the troops, that is. But you don't have to write that, they'll understand."

"Yes, great-Warmaster."

"Sciros has been granted superiority over Warmaster Phyrax, who is also subject to the order. ...Just end it there. Let me sign it, and have the Chancellor sign it. Actually, let me sign a blank sheet as well; I'll need you to rewrite this order. We need two copies."

"Yes, great-Warmaster."

Sciros signed the papers and went back downstairs. He called for the messenger who was to take the order back to the war front, and sent the scrawny, wretched man to the throne room to receive it. He himself headed for the palace's dining hall for breakfast. There was much to do this day, and Sciros needed to think it all through. There was nothing wrong with doing that over some eggs, bread, and fruit, he figured.

[i]I'm going to have to take some High Commanders with me[/i], the Warmaster said to himself. [i]We should have extra mounts to grab as well. The retreat will have to be quick. So quick we will not be pursued, at least immediately. Ehhhh, this is going to be nasty. Really nasty. And we're leaving tomorrow, so there's not much time. Two hundred men might not even be enough.[/i]

And then it came to him. [i]I have the necromancer! I guess he picked an opportune time, after all....[/i] And Sciros figured out the perfect job for his new right-hand-man, Narozyk.

As Sciros entered the dining hall, he called one of the guards there to him.

"Find Narozyk the necromancer and bring him here immediately. He should be either in the armory or the soldiers' quarters or the courtyards or I don't know. Just find him and bring him here."

"Yes, great-Warmaster Sciros."

"His name is Narozyk. He's a necro-- eh, never mind you don't know what that is. He carries a staff with a skull on it. He's a bit... unnerving to look at. You'll know him when you see him."

"Yes, great-Warmaster." The guard ran off to fetch the necromancer.

Sciros sighed as he sat down on a random chair in the hall. Nothing had gone right since the moons last crossed. Not a single thing. Even the retreat seemed a likely failure earlier today. But now Sciros had a necromancer, and that gave him one chance to pull it off. Now all he had to do was discuss his plan with Narozyk himself.[/COLOR]
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