1. The Reafen and the Tree

The light from the dying fire blends into the paleness before dawn as Annaeus arrives on Girvan's beach. The ground shakes for a moment, rattling rocks as they sit in steadily-filling nets and setting fishing boats rocking despite the low tide. The huge magus pauses for a moment to free his crutch from a patch of mud and stomps toward the fire.

Annaeus: Ho, Wodin. Owen, Padget, what fettle?* (He spots the rockfalls being prepared) Smart idea wi' yon rocks.
Owen: It was-
Annaeus: That's interestin'. Where're we makin' our stand, then?
Owen: Here, at first, then giving ground as we might need. The church is strong enough to defend, and we can organise a cattle stampede if we need to. We thought we'd have the villagers gather for a mass and blessing while Padget snuck about and unbarred the doors.
Annaeus: Aye, good. That's two good ideas you lot 'ave come up with on your own. I see we'll 'ave to do this kind of thing more often. Get someone over to the church and 'ave a ring of yon bells - that ought to stir a few bodies.

He twists his crutch in the sandy soil as he steps forward, and the ground rumbles again as he appears at the top of the beach, by the fire. He looks about, reacquainting himself with the village.

Annaeus: Right, then. Keythleen were gettin' ready to witch 'erself along as well, so she should be right behind me. Morphiste'll fly, so she won't be long neither and I fancy the others will be along in their own ways and times. I'll 'ang back a patch until the battle's joined. If need be, I'll fall back to defend the 'Airy Tree - me magic'll be strongest there - an' the others'll likely come with me. You an' Wodin take the rest to the church and try to make sure these farmers don't let anyone with an axe in the door. 'Til then, we'll show yon dead bastards what breathin' wights are capable of when the mood's upon them!

[size=85]* a Yorkshire expression basically meaning 'how are you'. It should be noted that Annaeus rarely seems to care about the answer.[/size]

Coming from the see, Vance was walking on water to the village.
He had heard about invaders and wanted to help: water and air were his favorite elements, and he really thought he could help.

When coming on the beach, he stopped and looked for the scene: seeing how he could use his magic to help.

Vance want to find a spot where he can place himself with a good sight on the sea. using his winds and water control, he will bring chaos on the invaders. But first, he must speak with the present magi, and went to them.

Vance in gaellic: Magi, i could help. Seeing the scene, i really think i can buy us some time : i can summon some air elemental on the beach and ask him to attack and take down any ship approaching. If our own ships stay calmly far away from this beach, we won't have any problem. And when the raiders will come, they will fight the Air elemental wrath.
Must I start to summon the elemental now, or do you think it's a bad idea?

Anyway, i will help you by standing on the hills, creating waves and air to calm the invaders and pushing them in the sea, where i can transform the water in ice to trap them. Some bowmen would only have to finish them off.

[size=85]He uses his controlling talent to create some kind of frost where he walks: base is 3, arm 5 p124, +1 touch, +1 part, +1 conc) = 10.
Controlling water total was 20 controlling +4 water+ die 4+3 prs = 31/2 = 16 +(aura/2 i forget how much it's). Concentration roll was (if needed): die 8+3 concentration +3 sta = 14.[/size]

Morphiste keeps circling the group in bird shape, flying in the evening breeze. She listens, but says nothing.

Annaeus and Owen both nod at Vance's suggestion, though neither one trusts his limited Gaelic to cover the tactical complexities of summoning elementals to contest a hostile landing.

Meanwhile, Rhys the Bowman notes a familiar falcon.

Rhys: Magus, maga Morphiste has joined us.
Annaeus: Aye, that she 'as. You've not seen Keythleen, though? She were right behind me when I left.

His question is greeted by a mute chorus of shrugs and averted eyes. Annaeus lets out a loud and incomprehensible Yorkshire curse and stares moodily out to sea, squinting into the semi-darkness and wind. Behind the towering magus, the circling falcon and the toiling soldiers, Girvan's church bell begins to ring, calling the villagers from their rest to face what the day might bring.

Out to sea, unobserved by anyone, a fog bank begins to build, stationary despite the steady wind. Were anyone there to listen, they might hear the tinkling sound of crystalising ice change by degrees to become the rhythmic creaking of timber and splashing of oars.

Vance agree and take in his bag a bottle.

He lay it down on a rock and starts summoning, from the ambiant air, an elemental made of the Air.

[size=85]Summoning total is 20+3+4+die 7 = 34, which is enought to go for a Might 30 elemental[/size]

Now that it is imprisonned in the magical bottle, he can give him order, using his Theurgical Controlling. He then starts to incantate to give the Elemental some orders... He ask to the elemental:
Using your winds and your thunder, dear great Elemental sir,
For the next days my will you shall follow, or submit to my ire,
Because for now i need your help, my friend,
And until i say otherwise, to destroy those evil fiends
Who from the sea licking this beach in boat will come,
With your winds and your thunder you shall overcome.

[size=85]Controlling total is : 20+4+3+die 5 = 32, which is just enough to go over the level 30. Since the elemental is imprisonned in a magical container, for purpose of penetrating, we dont substract the level of the Might. That gives the power a penetration of 32 + 3 (penetration, specialized in controlling), which make 35, enough to overcome the 30 might.[/size]

That done, Vance come back to the other magi: it's done, masters.
Ah i remember having a word from Keythleen: he will stay at Alerock. He thinks it's a good idea someone watch the island castle if all this thing is a diversion. He says me that, if he needs help, he will come in a flash to ask for help and otherwise, he thinks we are numerous enough to take care of the invaders. But in case, we can just ask Jared, who, normally is near Morphiste in the sky and he will ask his friend magus to come.

And, Jared, king of the crow, was, indeed, flying near the falcon.

As Vance's elemental circles invisibly in the sea wind, the villagers of Girvan gather in the church. Sir Owen hustles his men towards the front of the sleepy-eyed crowd, and Annaeus glares at Alerock's grogs until they join them. Before the assembly, the hastily-woken priest stammers his way through an entirely unanticipated benediction.

Father Aedwin: ...for these, our brave defenders, let us be thankful. God, we pray you, be merciful to them as you are to all your creation. Seek not to visit our sin upon us, but deliver us all from... um... the evil that confronts us this morn. In the nem of the futher, the sunny and the holy spit...

The apalling crash of thunder from the direction of the beach is almost a mercy for those able to understand the semi-literate priest's faltering Latin. The grogs of Alerock immediately start shoving their way toward the doors at the back of the hall, where their weapons have been left. Owen follows in their wake.

Owen: To me, men of Ayr! To battle and to glory!

As the fighting men (and Mad Anniss) re-arm outside, a flash splits the dawn sky, followed by the boom of thunder. From the beach, you can clearly hear the sound of war cries over the crashing of waves on sand.

The first folk of Alerock to arrive at the beach witness a terrible spectacle. A red-prowed longship, its timbers grey and rime-covered, sits in the shallows, shaken about by a furious gale blowing out to sea. The waves, trying to simultaneously push in towards land and follow the air above, have created a chaotic seascape of surging currents and sudden, if shallow, whirlpools. Struggling free of this shallow maelstrom are a score of what may once have been men. Most seem young - their waxy-skinned chins free of all but the suggestion of beards - but others are wading towards the shore with a surer step. All have white, sightless eyes (Morphiste, when she sees them, remembers sharks she has seen feeding) and bodies bloated with long accumulation of seawater. Most show signs of violence - here a cracked jaw hanging loose, there a hand nearly split in two - and all carry the tools of war. Their spears and axes have hafts of bone, and their swords are the pure white of sea-ice.

As Vance's elemental sends a third bolt of lightning arcing from the clear air, a dead man falls, still once more, into the water. Another corpse floats nearby. The remaining men battle wind and wave towards the land, their mouths opening in eerie unison to produce a song that is ripped away by the wind and cast out towards the water.

Vance, at cover from the beach see his elemental friend is doing a miraculous job.

When he think there are many men in water, busy to run up the beach to be on the ground, he start to modify the water into ice. If he succeed, he think the bowmen from Alerock can kill without danger the other men...
[size=85]Prs 3 + Controlling 20 + water 4 + die 9 = 36, so it comes to a level 15 spell. The base is 3 (transform water in ice in ReAq), range is voice, and target is the most possible so it's +2 size.
Penetration is 18-15 + 3 (penetration in controlling) = 6.

Note: i haven't used a duration, as it is a natural change of state (water in ice) which remains after the spell is cast (until the sun/sea warmth naturally melt the ice... which, I hope, will be long after the battle is over :stuck_out_tongue:)[/size]

The power is able to transform 5mx5mx2m x10² = 5000 m³ so,as Vance prefer to transform only "human" sized deep of water, it comes to a +- 50m x 50m zone. The idea is to aim to an area where there are many men running in water, attempting to rejoin the coast :wink:.

Vance's magic quickly turns the churning water about the longship into a solid mass, trapping all but a handful of dead raiders within its grip. The raiders, without ceasing their unearthly song, start using their weapons to chip away at their icy prison, though progress appears to be slow.

The raiders who remain free of the ice charge the embankment, heedless of the fact that they are outnumbered by more than two to one. They are met by the long spears of Owen and his men,* but fare badly**, the largest throwing himself onto a spear and working his way a pace or two down the shaft before succumbing. As the downed raiders continue their singing, despite thoroughly ruined chests, Owen drops his lance and draws his flail.

Owen: At them, quickly!

As his men press the attack on their grievously wounded foes, Alerock's grogs look to Vance and Wodin.

Padraig: Should we, uh, be in there helping them?

Vance's elemental unleashes another bolt of lightning on one of the dead men, causing the nearby ice to dissolve in a great hiss of steam and the bloated body to slump forward, unmoving.

*[size=85]die 6 + 11 combat bonus + 15 for trained group +1 for high ground = 33 vs. die 9 + 13 combat bonus = 22[/size]
**[size=85]base damage 8 + 11 attack advantage - 6 soak = 13 damage for each member of the group.[/size]

Vance looked at the scene.
Why would we want to spare their life??? they treathened our lands, they will perish!

Carried of by his feelings of rage, and his sanguine temperament, he looked at the beach, screaming: Don't let them live! Those men tried to invade our lands, kill! kill them all!

His mouth spitting saliva, Vance was not goodlooking but he put all his heart in his words.

[size=85]Vance leadership : die 3 + 1 (leader) + 3 (prs) = 7[/size]

With a whoop, Padraig leaps down the embankment and hurries his bulk on to the ice. Gylmyne, Garvey, Annis and Rhys follow quickly on his heels, and they lay into the nearest raiders with sword, axe and spear.

Gylmyne: You devils didn't count on our great friends, did you?
Garvey: Uncle, shut up and keep your shield up! Just because they're frozen in place doesn't mean they won't swing their weapons at you!

Despite the young warrior's nerves, the result is a slaughter. Working in two groups, the Alerock grogs and Owen's men make their way towards the open water, leaving nothing alive in their wake. Here and there, a raider flashes into sharp relief as Vance's elemental unleashes its magic and then lies still, its song silenced. Finally, as the elemental dissipates once more and the wind shifts to blow off the Firth, the grogs stand at the edge of the ice, surrounding the last three raiders.

Annis: Right then! Which one of you wants it first?

From her elevated vantage point, however, Morphiste can clearly see the strange fog bank rolling toward the beach. As he pulls his spear free of a raider's stomach, Rhys straightens and stands still for a moment. A terrible sound becomes clearer as the fog approaches.

Rhys: Wait... everyone, wait. Do you hear...?
Owen: Oars! Back to the shore!

As the grogs retreat, a massive longship, easily twice the size of that held in the ice, breaks from the fog. Its prow is a dragon's head that lashes and twists, trailing fire and smoke from its mouth. Behind the fearsome spectacle, another wave of dead warriors chants its song of pillage and death. To make matters worse, Morphiste spies a second ship skirting the magical ice shelf and making its way towards the mouth of the Girvan River.

Garvey: Help us! For the love of God, help us!

Vance seeing the new ship arrival is quite surprized.
But, quickly, he reassert himself into the good mood.
Mmf, where are the magi? Can't they put fire on this ship!? Well, I can do it by myself, anyway. Who needs the magi, really?

He then starts to summon the most ice he can, to sink the ship.

Attracting the water from the sea above the greater ship, then starting to frozen it by his summoning power, he, finally, let it go down... on the ship, in a good try to sink it.

Take THAT in your head, bastards!

[size=85]Sta 3 + Summoning 20 + Water 4 + die 9 = 36 + aura (i don't remember it if any); the desired effect is 30+5 = 35.
Penetration is 2 +1 =3.

According the summoning table (HMRE p23), 35 is size +12 (tower, castle) water equivalent. But he want ice ,which is +1 magnitude, so summoning total is only 30, which is size +9 or humpbacked whale, 100 horses mass.[/size]

Morphiste (who can speak even in bird shape) calls a warning about the situation to those on the ground, drawing attention to herself (but flying too high to be affected by a bowshot). She then flies towards the second ship (headed to Girvan) to investigate it further.

ooc: CrIm5 (base 1, +3 sight, +1 conc), improving the loudness of her voice
(Cr 9 Im 6 + Sta 2 + roll 5 +/- aura)/2 = about 11

(subtle magic)
From her bird's perspective, sight should be large enough to cover quite a lot of ground.

Flying north, Morphiste gets a clearer view of the second ship. It's a smaller vessel than the massive drakkar approaching the ice shelf, but nonetheless is packed to the gunwhales with warriors, many of whom seem... smaller than the dead men at the beach.

Meanwhile, Vance turns many tons of water into a vast, icy club. The stern of the drakkar rolls over the end of it as the prow beaches on the ice (grinding one of the dead raiders into greyish goo in the process). Before the ship has even come to a halt, it begins disgorging more dead men. They swarm towards the beach, sure-footed on the ice.

Owen: No time to retreat! Turn, men of Scotland, and fight hard!

Not speaking English to any great degree, the Alerock grogs continue climbing frantically up the short embankment.

Hearing Morphiste's warning, Annaeus turns and begins heading north, to where he judges the second ship most likely to make landfall, but his limping progress is slow.

Finally, a massive raider, easily twice the size of a normal man, stands high in the prow of the drakkar, a spear in his hand. As the ship shudders to a halt under him, he hurls the spear high into the air. Morphiste, circling the battlefield, sees Jared bank nimbly out of its way as the raider calls out.

Great Raider: Odin take them all!

Naaaa what kind of jerks are those. They surely have an ice immunity. I dislike that. You bastards!

Vance, being on the top of a close hill, seeing that, after he releashes the icy rock on the boat, starts to look for a way to win this situation. On land, his elemental powers are not so good that they are on water. And thunderbolts are already cast by the air elemental.

He could summon a storm... and, because he was so sure of his own abilities, he would have done it but he thought this might be a bad idea because the storm could hurt him if the winds were not friendly. But he was on a lucky day. He knew it for sure, so he tried to summon it.

[size=85]Summon air: 20+4+3+die 3 = 30; this is humpbacked whale or 100 horses.[/size]

After this cast, he look the scene, and if he think he is in danger, he will move back to the village, having done all he could do.

Above Girvan, Vance's magic starts to draw the clouds down and inward. As the raiders swarm across the ice, led by a host of fur-clad berserkers, they darken the sky and begin to pelt the shore with freezing rain and stinging hail. The village, protected somewhat by the Dominion, fares better than its defenders. Owen's men work efficiently, counter-charging the raiders and felling several with spear and mace, but the dead men who step over the twitching bodies of their fellows are howling with bloodlust and furious to the point that they appear to be forgetting their human shapes - fingers lengthening into sodden claws and faces distorting into the glassy-eyed countenances of drowned boars, bears and wolves.

Having climbed the man-high embankment as if Satan himself were in pursuit, the grogs of Alerock pause for a momentary conference.

Annis: Do we stay with Wodin, or withdraw with Vance?
Gylmyne: We stay and smite the heathen! I didn't pile up all those rocks just to let them go to waste!
Old Sean: Feh, you're both idiots! Look out there - the beach is lost.
Garvey: But...
Old Sean: You do what you like. I came here to protect the wizards, not to waste my life for some spit of sand!

Sean hurries off after Vance, while the other five look nervously towards Wodin.

Rhys: What do you reckon, chief?

As Vance and Sean fight their way through the magical storm towards the clanging of the church bell, Annaeus does the same towards the river, trying to ignore both the cold rain and the pain in his leg. Morphiste circles in the sky, able to see the smaller longship beach itself on the undefended north bank of the river.

ooc: this smaller group? How many and how are they armed?

Do any stay behind on the ship?

Morphiste is looking for a small group (3-5 raiders that she can kill in bear shape, or a ship left behind, that she can ignite).

She'll also do her wizard's sidestep (probably not stressful, so I assume no roll needed)

Even through the storm, Morphiste can clearly make out* two dozen raiders leaping out of the smaller ship. Roughly half of them are beardless boys, lanky forms protruding from oversized armour and helmets. The rest are larger men who would look intimidating were it not for their waxy skin, white eyes and hideous wounds. Instead, they look terrifying. All are armed with a motley collection of swords, axes and spears made of the same ice and bones as the weapons the first raiders bore. Though their words are inaudible to her, Morphiste can surmise from the fact that every mouth, man and boy, is working in unison means that they are singing the same battle song.

The dead boys and a party of older warriors are slogging up the river bank towards the smokehouse, where a handful of villagers stand ready to meet them with shovels and hoes. Another band swims across the river towards the church. They appear to have abandoned the ship which, though too thoroughly waterlogged to burn even in dry weather, looks like it would fall apart if the ice and rime caking its hull were to melt.

  • [size=85]Die 6+Awareness 4 (in falcon shape) = 10[/size]

Morphiste dives down among the villagers and takes bear shape after landing. She calls out to them, reminding them that they are defending their families and possessions against monsters.

ooc: she'll participate in the fight mundanely.

Morphiste lands and calls out to the villagers as she transforms from a falcon to a bear. Unfortunately, between her unexpected appearance, supernatural activities and the effect of the Gift, she fails to strengthen their morale in the slightest.*

At the ice-covered beach, the inhuman berserkers press their attack against Owen's men, two of whom break and try to run, only to be chased down and torn to scraps of meat and bone.

A 'chink' of ice on steel, somehow heard above the din of the nearby battle, alerts Wodin to a dozen raiders attempting to climb the embankment south of the berserkers.

Wodin: There! Drop the rocks!

Alerock's grogs leap into action, cutting the restraining cords holding the anchor stones of Girvan's fishing fleet in place and sending them tumbling down amongst the climbing corpses, the thunder of stone on ice momentarily drowining out their singing. A momentary glance over the edge shows many raiders hurt, though none seem eager to lie down and die once more.

As the dead children fall upon the men of Girvan, their comically oversized weapons rising again and again covered in gore, the older raiders charge Morphiste, who holds them at bay with a few well-placed swings of her claws.***

  • [size=85]Die 8 +1 Presence, +2 Leadership, -3 Gift penalty = 8 vs. TN of 9. Pack Leader would ordinarily apply here, but the fact that she's a frickin' bear is working against her.[/size]
    ** [size=85]Die 9 +16 combat total, +2 berserk bonus = 27 vs Die 6 +10 combat total, +15 trained unit bonus = 31[/size]
    *** [size=85]Die4 +11 combat total = 15 vs Die 8 +9 combat total (in bear form) = 17[/size]