Esper

On the Charge!
Retreat is the best option.

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Astrid sat upon her mount, Charger, viewing the chaos that was spreading quickly around her. Not long after departing that gods damned village, her forces had come under ambush. An arrow flashed past her face, and instinctively she raised her shield arm, as two more thudded into the legion emblem emblazed shield. Where the hell was 2nd platoon, she thought, seeing an enraged orc charging her, impaling himself upon her lance as she quickly tipped it downward in his path. Letting the now lodged lance fall to the ground, she quickly pulled a spear from the front of Charger’s saddle before pushing the war mount into a heavy trot.

Around her was the pure adrenaline surging image of combat. Blood soaked into the mud, as orc bodies were being trampled into the soft wet ground. Luckily, from her count, most of the bodies that were laying in the crimson mud were orcs, and very few of her legionnaires. Hoplite Ral had fallen at the beginning of combat, as an unexpected arrow had found his neck. Draste and Will, shortly after doing the initial moments of chaos, but her soldiers were well trained, and quickly formed skirmish lines to ward of the rest the ambushing orcs. The rest had been a quick decisive counter-attack, as her more mobile mounted units quickly turned the ambush back on the orcs. That was, until the second and third waves of orcs came marching over the northern and eastern hills.

Dryvis Valley all over again, she cursed, shirking off a glancing blow to her shoulder, the arrow careening off into the tree line. Except this time she was in charge. Pushing her steed into a full gallop, she turned towards where she saw Lt. Jeck rallying his men. As she rode up, she raised her voice, to over-power the constant sound of battle, steel upon steel and flesh. “Lt. Jeck, Take 1st Platoon, Provide cover for a retreat. We will fall back to the village and set up defenses there, once 2nd and 4th platoon, are out of the skirmish, don’t waste time, turn and run towards the village.” She said, breathing hard, the smell of blood thick in the air. “And where the hell is 3rd Platoon. I’ll skin Lt. Hepron alive if he led them astray.”
The wiry Lt. Jeck looked at Captain Firstborn, a dismayed expression on his face. “Hepron is dead, Captain. Spear took down his horse, and the Orcs just piled on him. 3rd Platoon broke apart, but I believe Hoplite Sergeant Rias, got them re-organized and has begun performing harassing maneuvers on the orcs flanks.”

Her eyes scanned, trying to see behind the massive orc force, where she caught glimpses of legion cavalry performing short charges on the orcs before disengaging. Perfect, that young man would get medals for this, she thought, as she guided her horse towards the rear of her forces. Coming upon a well guarded copse of trees, she spotted Hakrum Oviel, casually flinging bolts of liquid fire towards the orcs. As she approached, he looked up lazily, before realizing who approached, his posture immediately going straight. She looked at the Legion Mage before speaking. “Send a message to Hoplite Sergeant Rias, tell him we are retreating. 1st platoon will perform disengage blocking maneuvers to the front of the orc column, while he continues harassing the rear of their ranks. Hopefully he can cause more of them to turn around and try and come after him. Once 2nd and 4th platoon are fully disengaged and retreated, 1st platoon will do a full disengage, at which point, he is to disengage and, with all haste, head toward Freedmont’s Peace.”

The mage, reaching into his bag, pulled forth many items. Holding them in his cupped hands, he chanted directly into them, before relaying her orders exactly. Gods be damned, magic was useful when it wasn’t catching you on fire, or blasting you with cold. Astrid, looked at the mage once more, her face set as in stone. “Sound the retreat!”
A magical crimson flare flashed into the air and her forces started going about the business of surviving. Astrid looked solemnly into the forest. After this attack, she knew that she had probably sent Jerrick and his group of adventurers to their deaths. But, maybe not. Jerrick was always a gods damn stubborn son of a whore! “Luck be with you, Legionnaire” She muttered, as she turned to lead her people to safety.

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The Edge of Faith
A hunt begins!

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Ranarann T’sarran, nerves writhing in pure disgust, stared at the stone walls of his chambers carved into stone. How archaic it was for him to live in such conditions. His home was palaces made of pure polished marble, decorated with silks and velvets, but here, his home was this cave. His lips twisted into a sadistic grin, as his eyes wondered across the map. Yes, he thought, these people would pay for making him trudge through the mud and dirt to domesticate them.

A slight shuffling of clothing behind him alerted him of the presence of Ssess, quietly entering his room. Ranarann, regaining his calm outward composure, stood to face the serpent faced creature. Looking in the split pupils of the hideous creature always made his stomach turn, the unnatural nature of this creature made his skin crawl with electricity. The foul beast even wore that sarcastic grin; his tongue flicked in and out, almost tasting the hatred in the air.

“Ssess, has my brother returned?” Ranarann calmly asked, “I have much to discuss with him.”

“Yessss, you brother hasss arrived.” A gleeful mischievous gaze felling the eyes of the Yuan-ti, “I am sssure you are anxxciousss to sssee him.”

The way the serpent man was looking at him immediately unnerved Ranarann, more so understanding the revolting nature of these creatures. He would have to dispose of this creature as soon as possible without, of course, upsetting the tenuous allegiance between his people and theirs. At least, that is, until the time that they, like everyone else in these lands, were enslaved and put in their rightful places. Ranarann strode out of the room, doing his best not to take any more notice of the scaly beast.

As he strode into the alter chamber, the mood in the air immediately caused alarm. His brother’s personal guard, 4 large black skinned orcs, stood around the stone dais, heads tilted down, and daggers grasped in their hands. On the blood-stained alter, amongst the blood and gore of previous sacrifices; lay a mangled corpse, the soulless body of his brother. Odistlo, his younger brother, seemed to have been cut down and then trampled by a horse, his dark skin marked with long precise gashes, and huge bruises covering crushed bones.

Calmly, holding his red anger at bay, he turned to the highest ranking Orc and, his voice a dagger sliding form it’s sheath, asked “How did this happen?”

Eyes, still staring at the ground, not daring to make eye contact, Gturk, fearing the worst, answered “Ambush, your greatness.”

Like a viper, Ranarann’s hand flashed forward, landing palm down on the massive orc’s head, magical energy pulsing forward. Gturk screamed, a horrible grunting and gravelly scream of pure pain, as images flowed through the powerful magical connection into Ranarann’s mind.

An Orc with a blue tattoo, fire burning around, super heated air causing his form to waver.

An elven woman, with a shield, holding here ground against two orcs, the battle hard pressed, but determination on her face.

A half-elf abomination, colorful clothes flashing through the woods, her voice sounds through the trees, as daggers enveloped his brother.

A Gnome with mint eyes, and lavender hair, casts magical energy at the group. Concern on his face, for his injured friends.

A Halfling, a wry smile on his face, as he shoots arrow after arrow into Ranarann’s brother.

A Human, scowl on his face, atop a brown mare, calling for the head of his brother, riding into the fray, cutting his brother down, and his horse trampling his body, as he rode away.

The magic subsiding, Ranarann, looks down at the Orc commander, his voice cold and emotionless. “I want them dead. Take these orders and send them to all the units. If these people are seen, they die!” his voice rising into a cacophony. “Now Go And Kill Those People.”

Trying to retain his composure, the heat sliding away from his tense body, he turned to the remaining Orcs. “I believe my brother needs your blood. Give it.”

The 3 orcs, stood up, turned around slowly, bending over the alter, knives finding their own necks, as their life blood flowed onto the corpse of the Dark Elf. Ranarann, watched as the orcs gurgled and fell after freely giving their lives. A grin did finally cross his lips, as he walked over to a container placed against the wall. He opened the chest, pulling forth a bag filled with precious diamonds. He wondered if these common slaves would ever find out that their sacrifices had always been a useless gesture. All you really needed to bring someone back was a lot of precious diamonds, and some water blessed by Odyre, herself. Stupid slaves, he thought, as his he laid the diamonds on his brother’s body, sprinkling the holy water across his forehead. His voice echoed through the chamber, chants to the great goddess Odyre filling the dark chambers.

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How to Murder your Brother
A Dark Knights Stroll

Drevin Freedmont strode confidently down the dusty passage. Candle light flickered, casting dancing shadows across the cold stone walls. Echoing, his steps sounded a rushed gait, reminding Drevin of when he was child, frightened to walk down these lonely halls, jumping at the scurry of a mouse or his older brother Stefan whispering demonic sounds to frighten him. He missed Stefan. Although Stefan was ten years older, he had a always been closer to him, than with Dario. Dario was only 3 years his senior, which should of meant that they would grow up close, but Dario was also a mean spirited child, rotten to the core from an early age.

Stefan had followed directly in their father’s footsteps, training with the best swordsmen and battle-masters, serving as an officer in the Royal Army, and finally receiving his knighthood, ensuring his right to rule his father’s lands. After his service, he had returned home, to help their aging father run the lands.

Dario was not like their father. He was impatient with his battle instructors, jealous of Stefan, and angry at being born second. But Dario was strong and loved violence. He quickly volunteered for the Royal Army, where he was stationed with a unit that fought beside dust legionnaires, keeping the orcs at bay. It was here that Dario’s perverted and twisted love for the “Northman” first took hold. He became obsessed that humans were stronger than all other races, and must worship the old gods and take back the lands from all other races. And so, when he returned home, he returned with these notions, and immediately began bumping heads with the more idealistic Stefan.

So, it came to pass, on the day after their father’s death, while Drevin was away with Royal Army, Stefan was found in the barn, his head split open. Dario, being the oldest living heir, was quick to claim the title of knight, and claim his father’s land. He ruled his older brother’s death an accident, and began slowly enslaving the people of the village to his way. When Drevin returned from his service some years later, his home was a barren waste of despair, he no longer recognized. But, he was a loyal brother, so he soon found his spot, by his brother’s side, cleaning up his brother’s messes, one after the other. His soul hurt and he always felt unclean, as if in oily putrid slime was constantly crawling over his skin, but he stayed out of loyalty.

Until today that was. Today, while searching his brother’s study for maps that the Legion captain could use, he had discovered something. He had not wanted to believe that his brother was a traitor, a monster, or worse. He knew his brother was unstable, and was cruel, but not this. Holding the ledger in his hand, as he walked down the hall, he was trying to decide what to do. This was damning. Not just to his brother, but the family name could be stripped from them. What to do?

Abruptly, he came to a sudden stop in an alcove that was lit by the flickering candles. He could not let his brothers vile ways destroy what his father had built. His hand with the ledger lifted to the candle, the paper sending tendrils of smoke through the air as it slowly started to darken and then burn. He hated seeing it burn, the names of children that his brother had ordered his men to kidnap from surrounding villages, and then sold as sacrifices to that cult in the woods. He wished the families would know what had happened to their beloved ones, but he could not let this destroy his family. He would have to take vengeance for his family. He would have to destroy the other evidence of these crimes.

A few hours later, he sat back at his brother’s. . . no, his desk, his feet resting on the fine oak top. It was odd really, he didn’t feel to terrible at all. His brother’s body would be found in the morning, having slipped into unconsciousness and never recovered from his injuries the previous evening. A smirk crossed his face as he contemplated how odd an end it was for such a violent and vibrant fighter, to be smothered with his own pillow. No, his brother hadn’t been the hard part. Tracking down and killing the elite 6 guards his brother had used in all the kidnappings, that had been difficult. But, they would be found in the morning to, having had too much to drink in the woods, unfortunately seeking a short respite in a bear cave. At, least the bear had seemed appreciative for the meal.

No, things were not that bad at all, he thought as he stood up, retrieving a bundle of rolled maps and tucking them under his arm. Now to go deliver these maps to that Legionnaire Captain, she’s probably getting pretty impatient.

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