Council on the Beach - Near Girvan

In the pre-dawn dimness, a driftwood fire burns fitfully. The wind off the firth is strong, penetrating layers of wool and fur, and tearing breath away in strips of freezing steam. The fire cracks and dances, burning salty driftwood as fast as it can, as if afraid that the wind might choose at any second to blow it out completely. Three men* try in vain to warm their hands at the blaze and regard their sleeping subordinates with no small amount of envy.

The eldest of the three turns to the others, and speaks in halting Gaelic.

Owen: I know you've both been here before, but I think it's worth going over what we know one more time.

He pauses to draw a crude map in the sand with his fingers.

Owen: This is Girvan... here's the smokehouse... tannery... church... and our friends' precious tree which you, Wodin, saw being hacked at by dead norsemen on Wednesday night. The lookouts in Alerock's watchtower never spotted a raiding vessel, so it's likely that Girvan lies under the shadow of some magical threat. (He pauses again, trying to rub the weariness from his eyes, but he only succeeds in rubbing sand into them.) It would be nice if we could commit everything we have to the defence of the Hairy Tree and let the rest of the village go to Hell, but it looks like there's too much at stake here for that.

Owen: North of the river lies the tannery, and the houses of the folk most involved in that craft, including the few who make the wizards' parchment. Too much lost there and there'll be no new books until they can find a new source. Then there's the boats on the beach. Most are just used for fishing, but a few belong to the men who ferry Alerock's supplies out and its trade goods back to the mainland. I suppose you could find others, but they'd be coming from further away, and that means everything would get a bit more expensive.

Owen casts an eye over a small knot of men sleeping in the lee of some bushes.

Owen: I was able to bring five men from Ayr, but it was hard work getting leave to bring them here, and even harder marching through Carrick without arousing any undue alarm. If I'd brought more, I think someone would have thought it was an invasion. I see that the men from the watchtower accompanied you over here, but our numbers still aren't great. I haven't spoken to the head man of the village, but I don't imagine we can expect much help from that quarter. The men of Girvan don't fight wars, they raise cattle and pull oars on fishing boats. Still, if need be we can probably gather some warm bodies that will distract a raiding party for a while.

He looks from Wodin to Padget.

Owen: Have I forgotten anything?

  • [size=85]The three current companions - I'm assuming the two who have yet to be created are off on other errands.[/size]

Wodin: "Well, we have to deal with devils, goblins or God knows what." He spits:"that sounds like work for the magi. There must be a reason behind this. In the old tales, them dead people never just come for no reason - you see what I mean." He pauses to expertly catch a louse and squash it between his nails. "Who knows if we can kill those dead things - maybe we can ask the village priest for his blessing, too."

He licks his fingers, and gazes into the yellow flames for a moment: "Them villagers don't have to be able to fight - them will protect the village well enough - it's all they have." He snorts. "They are in need of leadership, and some sturdy defenses. A few horse-traps - can also help. Is there some local we can talk to? I don't want to convince every man and woman - no make that every man - that we must work together." He laughs.

Owen: These villages are all the same - get the head man and the priest to back you and the rest will follow along easily enough. It's a good idea to get a blessing though, especially if we have enough time to get it done in full view of everyone.

Padget Well, if i understand you can't you speak English, morons? there is "something" valuable on this tree for our dear magi. The villagers can't defend it. The dead are ... unnatural. Well, i'm not here to fight unnatural deads...

And, can you remember why we care about magi stuff? can't we just pass them the word? They should be really happy to protect their goods and this is likely a "surnatural" issue/threat or whatever it is; it's not our responsability. and frankly, i don't give a damn care about this tree.. speak about wood to me... he briefly smile on himself.

"At what time can we disturb the magi, what do you think?" Wodin asks.

Padget: Well, write it down on their precious parchment, and let them read it in their mail box... the farest, the best. what a shit chat about things i don't care !!!
However, are we sure the magi care about their vis? because if they don't it's useless to disturb them during their Haaaard smiling woork.

"Oh, so you are one of them people who know letters!" Wodin states, and you are not sure at all if it was meant to be a compliment.

Padget: Of course I know letters... letters means wealth... I can't read or write, but i thought you could...
Or you can always speak to them... but they are magi, probably too buzy to listen to your voice ...

Owen stares in gloomy silence while the two younger men bicker. As the conversation turns to literacy, he wonders what good iron and steel can possibly do against dead men.

Owen: That's enough, Padget. You've accepted the magi's meat and ale, just as we all have. They presumably have their reasons for keeping you, just as you have yours for living with them. I neither know nor care. You've obviously chosen to help them already, or you wouldn't be here. If you must complain, then whine about how we have so few men with us, or about the fact that half of them can't talk to the other half. Better yet, as one who's spent time in the village, tell us what might be here to help us fend off our foes.

Padget grumf i'll get you!! Okay.
So you say, these are men coming from the see? and attacking the village. Correct?
First, what about the beach (i don't know how it looks but I assume it's a sand beach with some little cliffs overhanging it)
Use this as a trap: put some nice traps : one or two long cords, triggering a massive collapse of rocks of all size...
When our attacker will unload and charge on the sand, cords will be activated, pulling the net holding the big load of rocks... rocks will fail and roll on the slpoing beach.

Another thing you can try, if we have the supply is to post guards with fire arrows and bows. Nothing better to fire on boat. This will cut their retirement mean, and then you will just have to slaughter them, using the natural land.

But for that, we need soldiers and professionnals. We haven't. So, if the magi (who accepted US, all of US!) want to protect their village, they will have to act as fire thrower at the boat, during the attack.

I could say: a big stone wall protecting the village could be a good thing, but we haven't stone nor builder... again, magi could perhaps build a wall from nothing...

As you see, we just HAVE NOT what we need to defend correctly the town.

"We will fight them on the beaches - after the rockslide. We've got them in one place there - they will need to load their mounts onto the ships or leave them behind when we attack. The horses that survive the rockslide will net us a nice little profit. Plus, they are either armored and can't swim well or unarmored, which is just as well.

I'd wait for the landing party to disembark and then ask the magi to get us on the ships. We can take care of those left behind to guard the ships and then deal with them - half in the water, unable to use their horses. The villagers can hide in the church, so they won't be hurt.

A smaller group should be sent near that damned tree - in case the landing is just a diversion. Ideally, the magi can deploy us rapidly and enable us to communicate over long distances. We want to be in the right place at the right time!"

The pirate is surprised by his long speech.

Once Wodin has finished speaking, Owen stares moodily into the fire for a while, before nodding approvingly.

Owen: The rock fall is a good idea. As soon as my men are up, I'll have them gather some appropriately sized stones. Nor would putting a small group by the tree hurt us, particularly if they can move quickly to back us up if we seem to be failing. Are you volunteering to join it?

He scratches at a patch of stubble on his neck.

Owen: We should keep in mind that there are cattle in those barns. Stampeding them at the enemy won't endear us to the villagers, or to the Earl, but it's a tactic we may need to fall back on if things get desperate. Padget, could you shift yourself enough to sneak about and make sure we can get into those barns in a hurry? Round about when the priest is blessing us would be a good time.

He rises to his feet, sand shaking out of his thick woolen cloak. As he roughly prods one spearman after another awake with the toe of his boot, he comes to a decision.

Owen: My men and I will join the battle right here on the beach, with as many of the wizards as decide to show up. If they're going to whisk people onto the boats, I say they do it to their own warriors - they're more likely to be used to it, and they'll be better fighters on a moving deck, if what I hear is true.

Padget: I will check the access during next mess. Is one of the magus able to cast some kind of fireball? that could bring the boats down fast!

Owen stares out west, towards Ailsa Craig, invisible in the darkness, and the magi who have brought the three men here.

Owen: We'll see, I suppose. Yes, I fancy we'll see.