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Forums > Fantasy Roleplay Forum > (CLOSED) Warhammer Fantasy: Doom Awaits (PART TWO)

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(This Roleplay is part two of Stromfels' Plague. Unfortunately, the character selection has been closed already, but considerations can be put into place through messaging me.)

Delirium.

Maddening, utter delirium, was all that this subterranean temple had welcomed it's begotten resident. Deep within the caverns of the now ruined Luccini, from where the Rats had exhumed his body. A pristine corpse; a trusted demagogue of the Dark Pantheon themselves. Now defiled and mutilated. Rotflag's corrugated boots thumped onward within his former tomb, greeted by the resounding wails of the fallen, the damned, and failed sycophants of Slaanesh. Their anguished faces were embossed within the caverns themselves, painted pink in the colour of soft manflesh. He lathered his gauntlets across their screaming maws as he tread within, almost as if to reassure himself that he still retained a sense of touch. The wound across his neck had long since healed, but the reflective ceiling within this tunnel taunted the furious Chosen, for each time he glimpsed above, Rotflag - as he was supposedly now known - recieved a constant reminder of his butchering.

His rodent jaws gnashed together as the Chosen seethed with fury; the unending acapella increasing in pitch while he thrust himself toward the womb of his resting place. Anglermaw and the rest of his ilk had already looted the coffin for all it's worth, but the sacred icons of the Pantheon remained untouched, possessed by entities that not even the most numerous of pests could defile. As soon as Rotflag entered his resting place, the abject wails seemed to pass; what dulled their sorrows concerned him little. Only the minute sense of familiarity that he so craved in this strange age.

It has been days since the battle of Sartosa, a good while since he had been torn from the sleeping world, only to assume control over a host of cravens. Despite what he promised to his newfound rivals, Rotflag had made no attempt to locate the Ark. Unable to cope with this rude awakening, Rotflag tore the rudimentary stitches from his neck, roaring in defiance and fury as red ichor cascaded down his throat. It was certain, then -- The Skaven head had indeed merged.

"Is this what I am, now?!" Cried the defiled Chosen, his wretched voice resonating throughout the bowels of this temple. "A Chimera? A living trophy? Do you forsake me, my lords?! Do you hold me in contempt?! My service was without tire, without the promise of reward!" A horrid clank thundered as Rotflag knelt in despair.

"I can still serve!" He begged, the formerly rueful voice now fleeting into a whisper while his fists slammed into the obsidian ground. "I can still satisfy your will, no matter how insatiable..."

"...Zeigfied..." An inhuman creature hazed, barking a long forgotten name.

The rodent head raised upward to find a malformed figure, manifesting from little more than a black smog that penetrated from the twisted walls.

"...Poor little Zeigfied..." Repeated the creature. "...The centuries have not been kind to you..."

"Speak, creature!" Demanded the Chosen. "What message do you beseech from my masters? I may serve the Pantheon's will, but I do not fear their thralls."

"You should come to, Champion." Chuckled the Demon, it's vile visage now exposed from the wall. "For no matter how exhalted you may be in the eyes of the Gods, you are still inevitably mortal. Your healing, your strength and dexterity. It is governed by their will. And yet - for all their mercy - you spite them, and flail yourself in tantrum."

The Chosen suddenly paused as he realised what consequence his impulsive words could bring, and then he bowed to the creature.

"My apologies, Malevolent One." Zeigfied said, raising himself. "I meant no spite in my cries. I assure you. I am simply lost in this confusing time."

This strange aspect nodded in kind. He - or it, perhaps - did not seem to linked to any one of the four main Gods of Chaos. This intrigued Zeigfied. Was this pale, lanky abomination yet another manifestation of Be'lakor himself? With beady reptilian eyes and an eternal, unnerving smile that exposed a row of moist, serrated fangs. Upon the Demon's right hand was gripped a hellish claymore, a blade the very long of a Norscan, but this abyssal creature carried the sword as though it were some giant feather.

"I bring forth a great boon from thy Masters, Chosen." Hissed the creature, stabbing the unholy blade infront of Zeigfied. A distorted whirl zapped from within the steel.

"Why would the Gods bestow upon me this mighty weapon?" The Chosen humbly asked, for even he was unnerved by the sight of this apparition.

"This blade is the key to your triumph, your quest for the Ark is to be resumed."

"But I am alone, Your Malevolence." Replied Zeigfied. "I am a mockery of what I once was. The followers of Chaos will not kowtow to some bestial zombie."

"You needn't the arms of weaklings to haul you in favour in the eyes of the Gods, Chosen." Retorted the Demon. "While you are eternal upon this mortal realm, there is no foe you need fear. Shyish winds course within this claymore, annointed by Tzeentch himself. Take this blade from your resting place, use your newfound Skaven biology as an advantage. Locate the musk of the Ark settle your quarrel with this Anglermaw. Succeed, and perhaps the Gods themselves may hold you in great honour."

Zeigfied did not respond in words, nor did he question the Demon's knowledge of Anglermaw. The eyes of the Gods surveyed all. He clutched the hilt of this great weapon, the Shyish aura manifesting as a purple glow. Whatever entity lay within screamed as the blade was torn from the stone.

"When you leave this temple, you will find that you no longer tread upon the Old World, Champion, but instead upon the grounds of Xhotl, within the realm of Lustria."
"Xhotl? The Lizardmen still fear the taint of Chaos, then."
"Indeed, but that is irrelevant. The Ark's path is being manipulated by yet another faction of the Skaven. You must intercept these pests."
Zeigfied nodded one last time, setting the putrid blade by his boots.

"Where should I start..?"

--Upon the noon seas of the Old World, by ruined Luccini--


Days had passed since the fateful encounter upon the City of Pirates. Anglermaw had festered within the brig of this galley for a length that the Black Hunger would not let him dwell upon. His life at this moment had instead merely entailed dining upon the rodent pests that swarmed the brig and whatever leftovers that the Marienburgers were kind enough to dispose of, which usually meant that fatty bits of meat that no one wanted. Even still, he was armed. That was one luxury that Lars had neglected to relieve the Skaven of, one that had dumbfounded most of the Man's own crew. He could hear the sqaulorous louts sputtering and chuntering endlessly as they dined upon their lunch. Anglermaw grumbled upon the wooden floor, munching upon the carrion of an engorged Rat. The Hookarm made a good knife for this abhorrent platter, at least.

Then came footsteps upon the woodwork, the thudding of hard pattens came downward. "Rise and shine, you little cannibal." Mocked Lars as he gazed toward the Sea-Rat.

"It's finally time."

The following days were not treated unkind to Falderan and his companion Hans. The crew of the ship they now walked on and the men who they would come to call crew mates treated the student with a mocking but not malevolent curiocity. Poking his know how and asking why such a fragile young man of the Empire was in such a lawless and disgruntled province like Sartosa. A city and more or less island not known for being too kind. Stories were shared that intrigued both pirate and student forming a healthy relationship between the group. Well as healthy as a relationship with sell swords could be. This alliance was out of convenience at best and surely these men would later not pass up a valuable hostage and random like Hans.

Fal kept a healthy distance from the group but took in everything. Sticking around the bow of the ship he took in the surrounding sea and open ocean. Whenever he had the option a drink was chugged down to satisfy his Elven resilience to most of the weaker ales of men. The drink on the ship was mostly a basic ale without anything special. He heard of Captain Vanderbarzen having some Tilean Tequila that he was interested in sneaking away with. But despite his most basic of urges knew it was poor choice to rob the man who, though at more or less knife point, got them on their way. Few ships were seen over the following days and thoughts of this Skaven Ark and a Chaos champion being lose gave Falderan a looming sense of dread. The subtle whispers of his blade continued through the night. Asking for the blood of the crew. But Fal was more than able to resist such vile ideas as he had gotten used to them like a ringing in ones ears for years.

What came by more commonly was the looming threat of Anglermaw. Fal tossed the odd bit of fatty cut from his meat down to the rat knowing he would eat it to survive. If it wasn't for the situation he would have no concerns with beating the information from him and slitting his repulsive throat. But Anglermaw was far more a use than he would care to admit. Talking with the crew revealed their over all distrust for the rat and even Fal and Hans. An Elf was not something they usually worked with and much like Fal himself they disliked the pompous arrogance of those on Ulthwan. Something which came up one night of drinking as Fals rather vulgar wording for an Elf earnt him a great deal of respect especially when he drunk three of them under the table and walked away with a nice handful of gold.

Fal stood towards the front of the ship and holding onto a rope leaned over to look at the smoking city of Luccini. The Tilean city and it's ships had been laid to waste some time ago but the debree was still being collected. Bits of ships remained pinned near shore but loot had been picked clean long ago. The dead were not so lucky as large, bloated bodies floated around near rocky coves. Most eaten down to little more then bloated organs that reeked of decay to such a degree that the average scavenger wouldn't go near. The full bodies that were bloated to a size rivaling Trolls were mostly surrounded by oil. Likely ships that contained mass amounts of the valuable substance that when sunk stained the waters surface. Fal looked away from the bodies and to the distance ruined city. The ominous warnings of Anglermaw back in Sartosa still in his mind.

"My God."

Those were the words Hans whispered as he came by Falderan, suited up in finely knitted Marienburger linen -- courtesy of Captain Vanderbarzen himself, who had taken a liking to the Student's kindly demanour. It was warming to be in the presence of one so civilized, for once at least. He joined the Elf while they gazed toward the ashphalt ruins that once made Luccini one of the most opulent and thriving settlements upon Tilean soil. Ports that once were reserved for exotic southern traders, Elfin diplomats, and a proud, seaborne armada -- they now lay deserted for any ship; ruined wooden hulks dotted the sea. Looming nests and splintered bows protruded above the waters, slowly but surely succumbing to the jaws of Stromfels. Warpflame continued to dance around the plaza of plagued corpses, caressing the mosaic buildings and halls that once stood majestically as a testament to Luccini's own glorious independence.

All gone now, however...

...No living man or woman still dredged upon that city. No Human at least, for as long as one upon the Siren of Gorsel squinted toward the ruins, they could perhaps catch sight of scampering, chittering, bipedal Ratfolk -- daubed with a myriad of vile hues. Skaven scavengers from various clans competed for spoils, skirmishing with those who did not bear the same garb; Ratfolk soon joined the Human bodies among the parade of corpses.

"I'd never believe that I'd see anything like it." Hans said aloud, grasping the Siren's balcony. "Bjorn and myself passed this place before we came to Sartosa; it's busy streets rivalled Altdorf. To think that one ship was responsible for destruction of this measure." Though indeed shaken by all that he had witnessed, Hans' psyche had healed quite moderately after the battle. Clean, well fed and free from any stress that danger wrought, there was a glint of optimism in his pupils, even as those same eyes feasted upon the decay in front.

"You can thank our friend here for the tour, Mister Brunswick." An overhearing Vanderbarzen interjected, his footfalls clear as he and Anglermaw rose from the brig. "You see that? All courtesy of whatever bloody hulk of metal broke through the walls. The survivors said that not even cannon fire could dent the bastard."

Anglermaw laughed as he too emerged. "The Man-thing weapons didn't dent the Ark, because they never hit. Grey Seer Urechin was a master of Skaven lore-magics. Ruinous bolts would've zapped the shells into nothingness."

"Hoo said that 'e could talk?" Shouted a patrolling sailor by the balcony, rifle in hand.

"Hush, we need his snout." Vanderbarzen returned, sauntering toward the bay. The marine air was dominated by mutant gulls that encircled the Siren; the squarking of these birds was distorted in pitch as they swooped like vultures to feed upon the bloated masses that decayed by Luccini's bay. The days of drinking and merrymaking within the Siren's womb had passed; it was time to get the men back into the gear. He was already at a grave unease by allowing Anglermaw to wander without a leash -- he feared the Rat, so much that he dare not confiscate his weapons. Most Skaven would drop their blades at the very thought of adversity, but Anglermaw was clearly unlike the average Skaven; he clearly wasn't the type to go quietly.

Even still, Lars refused to display his feelings, compellingly stoic in the eyes of his men. So much so that it had brought him their awe and their lives. He watched the Skaven sniff the sulphurous air, the Sea-rat's eyes became dumbfounded for a second.

"Well..." Vanderbarzen interrupted. "Where's the bloody thing headed?"

Anglermaw suddenly crooked his head back toward Lars' direction. "What would some Man-thing like you want with the Ark?" He asked, visibly proud of the dreadnaught's handiwork. "You are doomed to have no power over the ship -- it would smother you in plauge-pox the moment this ship went near. What's the point?"

"That's none of your concern, you insubordinate Rat!" The Captain shouted, alerting his men. "The only reason you still breathe is for direction's sake, now what does your scent pick up?"

"Oh the scent be clear as day, usually, but the musk of fear from you is dizzying me a bit." Chuckled the Sea-Rat.

"Little bastard-" Vanderbarzen gnashed as he clutched his blade, seething with wroth. "Men, weapons raised!"

"Oh, by the Horned One, fine!" Anglermaw conceded, raising his hookarm above. "The Ark was definitely here. I'd a' thought it be headin' north, to Skavenblight. But the scent itself is far west."

"What kind of Rat infested hovel lies to the far west?" Wondered the impatient Captain.

Hans looked on at the simmering talk. His fear of confrontation had since calmed down after Sartosa. Like all on board, he held no love for Anglermaw, and it was clear that the Marienburgers were more interested in locating the Ark rather than granting the Student a safe passage onto the mainland. Then again, at this point there was no city safe on the coast; any settlement with a port to it's name was fair game to this Ark. Hans then gazed back to Falderan, his tempremental, elfin face granted the Student no clue as to what the strange fellow's thoughts could be.

The resulting screams and anger spat like venom between the Captain and Anglermaw were as potent as embers from a bonfire. Fal looked over to the two as they approached, ignoring Hans comments on the city as he thought of more pressing matters. That being the Ark. Like everyone on board he didn't trust Anglermaw in the slightest. But he knew he wanted revenge and that was a strong driving point for someone. Especially something as petty as a Skaven. Anglermaw raised a valid point however, why did Vanderbarzen want the Ark. He surely wouldn't last long near it. Hell even Fal himself wouldn't and his Elven resilience was stronger than the average Humans. This kept a feeling of unease with Fal as he kept is hand ready to leap for his blade. He could have his blade out and in Vanderbarzen's throat before the man could draw his own blade from it's sheath. But he wouldn't let on to this with anything more than the most subtle of tells.

The smell of putrid flesh and a lingering feeling of dark magic covered the area like a mist. A mist of vile air that caused Fal's nose to shrivel in disgust. This simply reminded him that Chaos was present. Something which added to his fears about Vanderbarzen. Chaos had some say in this Ark and if there was one thing Fal despised like Druchii it was the taint of Chaos. He'd be more than willing to kill them all should they prove to be corrupted and simply using him. But relying on such ideas as fact without proper proof could prove dangerous. There's a fine line between healthy skepticism and paranoia.

As the situation heated up and weapons were raised Fal stepped in.
"We should take a moment to think. This doesn't seem like a typical Skaven raid. Look at the damage done. Usually Skaven tend to steal as much as possible and take whole vessels in such raids. But this was all out devastation. Seems like they are testing the Ark's capabilities." Fal gave his analysis of the situation as he gave Hans a nod of acknowledgement. "I don't know why it would go over East but there's hundreds of kilometers of ocean with just as many hundreds of islands, inlets and archipelagos around. There's no limit to where it could be going. Though getting angry will do nothing to help us." He looked back to Vanderbarzen. "And we all want to find the Ark on this ship which requires multiple people to run smoothly." Fal's eyes went back to Anglermaw. Without saying it directly he was telling the Captain to not be so quick tempered and reminding Anglermaw that he needed the whole crew for this little quest of his.

"West, west, west. Far-far west..." Anglermaw pondered the word repeatedly, kneading his hookarm across the still matted fur. "...This can't be Rotflag's doing, can-is it?" The Skaven's mind was perforated by many silent, answered questions. Thoughts struggled to coalesce toward a conclusion. The Ark had been here. Evidence of it's terrible presence had been laid bare for all to gaze upon. To Anglermaw, it would have been common sense for Urechin to sail his dreaded form toward Skavenblight -- toward the very capitol of the Under-Empire.

So why west..?

"By the Gods, is this Rotflag yet another of your ilk?" An increasingly impatient Vanderbarzen interrupted. "Is my crew to snuff him out as well as your rancid life?"

"Man-thing, from what we all saw, yer crew would be dead the moment ye laid eyes on him." The Sea-Rat chuckled yet again. "I know it's been a few days, yeah-yes, but were ye not present at the fightin?'"

Vanderbarzen sighed, prefering to absorb the logical words of the Elf, rather than boil his rage any further. Surely, Falderan was indeed aware that this vile Rat was the very perpetrator of Luccini's destruction? A mass murderer that still drew breath! It was what stemmed the Captain's own seething fury. While this Skaven moved and spoke so freely, justice had been defiled. And yet still, who else was after this 'Ark.' The Siren's crew were most certainly not the only sailors to catch sight of such a ship; there would indeed be other renegades that sought such a prize. The fame and fortune that could be attained as the Heroes that 'saved the seas' from the dreaded Skaven flagship.

He guessed that they would all come to find just how terrible this dreadnaught could be, as he gave his neck a quick crack to relieve the stress.

"Forgive me, I am Captain; I need serve as a better model for my crew." Vanderbarzen nodded toward the Elf, his tone utterly deadpan, belying the anger that simmered within his mind. "West... The closest place west would be Ulthuan, no?" Asked the Captain, answering his own question. "No doubt such a ship would be currently wrecking havoc across the Asur coastline."

"There-there could be another course that the Ark be headin', 'Mister Vanderbarzen.'" Said Anglermaw. "There ain't no Skaven enclave on any Elf-island. Strange magics be keeping the toxic spells and curses out, no chance the Ark be goin' near. Not by port, anyway."

"Really?" Wondered Vanderbarzen, his face covered by a rueful grimace. "I'll indulge you, then. Where else would the ship be headed?"

"Lustria: Stronghold o' Clan Pestilens."

The thought of Ulthwan being hit brought an arrogant smirk to Falderan's stoic stare. Maybe the Druchii blood in his veins or his own resentment and sense of betrayal by them but he thought of them suffering as somewhat amusing. A thought he tried to push back knowing what it meant. Such an Ark was a vile thing that shouldn't be allowed to reach any coastline even the arrogant 'perfect' set up of Ulthwan's coast. Besides no matter how mighty the Dreadnaught the fleet surrounding Ulthwan would be too much for any single vessel. Fal had seen the armada of ships himself. Dozens of Dragonships with dozens of large bolt-throwers on each deck and magical enchantments to allow spells fired off as well as runes of defense made these massive ships more than enough to deal with most other vessels.

"Ulthwan is further North. Besides even the such a vessel wouldn't be able to safely reach the island. Call it what you will but it's probably the most defended coast in the world." Fal needed to add this in before Anglermaw added his own theory. The mention of Lustria intrigued him. This 'Clan Pestilence' was another thing that was new. He was learning a lot about the Skaven society the last few weeks. The secretive people rarely let things out to those not of their race. "Judging by the namesake I imagine they have something to do with sickness and plague?" Fal asks despite already having put such an idea together. But that was still a long shot. Lustria was about a week of strong winds sail away and that is if they get lucky. The waters there are filled with all manner of beasts and pirates.

Vanderbarzen crooked his head as he acknowledged Falderan's council. "Even so, I imagine that news of such a ship would be enough to chill the sharp ends of their ears. No offence on your part, of course." He then sauntered across toward the wooden balcony, beside the Siren's very own carved statue. Voluptuous in body, it was, though upon the maiden's face was cursed that visage of a loathesome, screaming crone. A bad omen for any who sailed upon the ship, no doubt. Vanderbarzen caressed the oak hips, brooding away from the Sea-Rat. It's presense was sickening -- wretched, as all the ilk of Anglermaw were.

"You're right, however." Vanderbarzen continued. "Lustria's going to take a good while, too long to be keeping guard of your snarling pet all week." He rubbed the slight crevices upon his bare face. They were scars from bygone duels, when or where -- uncertain to the crew, as was his age. "We can't just take any port, either. To sail right toward east coast is to court death itself. There are creatures that lurk far worse and terrible than any Ratman." Vanderbarzen shuddered at the thought. He did not look forward to Lustria; too many horror stories from broken, peg-legged sailors had made the Captain shy of the continent. The most graphic consisted of voracious lizards that walked liked men, blood-crazed, bare chested warrior women, and huge, scaled behemoths with enough jaw strength to snap the neck of a dragon. It was enough for him to resist his own latent Marienburger greed. For those that who travelled to Lustria and returned indeed brought back uncountable riches with them -- but only a minute number survived the trail. "Port Heldenhammer, a fleeting Empire colony just above the great jungles. It would be the safest bet, but er... as with my heritage, I am not on the best terms with the Sigmarites."

"Well, I can lend a hand." Hans interjected, taking steady steps by the sailing Siren to approach the Captain. "The Brunswicks are a respected house within Reikland and perhaps beyond those borders." He reassured. "My father, Adolf Brunswick, he is aide to Ambassador Holzkrug himself! Surely, I could use such ties to benefit the Siren, Marienburger or not."

A long sigh escaped under the Captain's breath. "I just don't know. The moment that the colony officials caught sight of the Skaven, we'd be put by the gallows. Regardless if we were noble escorts or not."

Anglermaw made no attempt to remedy the situation. As a matter of fact, only two thoughts seemed to zig-zag across his hyperactive mind at the moment: Rotflag, and the Ark's musk. Each passing moment of laxity granted the Slave-thing the upper hand. The earthen capillaries that coursed through the veins of Skavenblight stretched from Naggarond to far Cathay and Nippon. If Rotflag knew the pathways of those bowels - no matter how far or how complicated - The Ark would most likely already be his.

Unless of course, Nuglitch's bastard thralls wanted it for their own pestilent gains -- as the churning musk of plague seemed to insinuate.

Han's status was surprising to Fal. He had no idea who the man he spoke of was but by title alone he was at least that of a lesser noble. Something that combined with a bit of coin could encourage someone to turn a blind eye. However the point on Anglermaw was more prominent. He would be killed on sight and as for them, they could be held and locked up at the very least for holding such a vermin. Though maybe there was some way he could be used. Tapping his bottom lip and looking at the skittering rat Fal let a plan come to mind.
"Captain." He says addressing Vanderbarzen. "Where did you say this port was located? How big would you say it is? Compared to Sartosa for instance?" He never broke his eyes from Anglermaw who seemed to be getting more anxious.

"The Port?" Lars suddenly eyed the Elf, then he shrugged nonchalantly. "A coastal hovel, really." A few seconds worth of pause ensued, the lapping of the morning sea foam and the squawking of avian mutants anulling the dead air, as the Captain took from his side a metal flask, hidden deep within a leather purse. He took a quick swig of the liquid, squinting in painful reaction to the venomous bite of Tilean alcohol. The Siren's sway upon the open sea made the Captain feel as though he'd chugged down a bit more than enough. "It's not exactly a thriving colony." Vanderbarzen said. "The port itself is located right on the tip of the north coast, a gateway into the jungles. Aside from the census office, it's a real ghost town. Makes Sartosa look like almost like my home city."

"The Northern tip?" Anglermaw interrupted, his mind still smothered by inescapable thoughts of conspiracy. "We go too north, we'll lose the musk. Pestilens be wallowin' within the deep jungle, beneath the ruins o' the Lizardmen. We should dock by Pox Marsh instead. Much faster than scampering miles into the jungle."

"Skaven, are you insane..?" The Captain asked, accompanied by a sharp grin that thinly masked his contempt toward the Rodent. "I know what this is about. This Rotflag, you've been chittering on about him all week since we tossed you in the brig."

Hans watched on in silence, though his heart sank slightly while Vanderbarzen and the Sea-Rat refused to conceal their hatred for eachother. Anglermaw might have quietened, but his subservience was not out of fear. The Student could see the tension upon Anglermaw's snarling beak, and how impatient he was to simply end Vanderbarzen's life with a quick jolt of jade gauss from the warplock, as the Skaven caressed the weapon's holster. The seemingly brave Marienburger had dared not remove this strange firearm from Anglermaw's person, perhaps hidden within the mass of scars was the face of a craven.

Fal listened to each argument. Anglermaw wanted an area called Pox Marsh. Which if he recalled was by the Vampire Coast and in the realm of the Pirate Lord Luthor Harkon. Chances of encountering the Undead in that region were almost certain. Fal had never been but the sword he carried came from a Vampire Captain that sailed under the flag of the Coast. So if word got back likely there would be a bounty on him. Though the thought of removing another Vampires head intrigued him. On the other hand Vanderbarzen suggested a small Empire port. From the sounds of it no more than a trading post. Likely the fleet would only be small and a good deal of gold could get them in no questions asked. But if he's wrong and there's a more 'determined' Imperial presence things could get rough. Fal had the choice between the living or the dead.

He took a moment to ponder before sighing loud enough to break the tension between everyone.
"Considering where we are going either way we will encounter hostiles. The Empire will not take kindly to us brigands, our passenger." He points to Anglermaw. "Or any amount of other contraband we have. Unless we're able to bribe our way in we're looking at Imperial courts or cannons at worst and at best detainment." Fal didn't bring up his service record with the Empire as he wasn't known far and wide. It could take months to verify if what the Elf said was true if they even bothered looking into it. Looking out to see he notices one of the corpses floating and shivers. "Though it gives me little joy to say it, the Pox Marsh and Vampire Coast are the better option. The Undead do swarm those seas but time is of the essence. If we can get there we have a better chance of bribing our way past those brigands than we do the Empire. But either way if it goes south we fight. Since Anglermaw is the only lead we have. I'm afraid we need to listen to him for now." Fal looked down with a deathly stare as a warning that he wouldn't take kindly should he be planning a betrayal.

Vanderbarzen found himself shaken with disbelief, his men looked on - silent and gormless - as their Captain stuttered without end, struggling to carve out a coherent sentence in response toward Falderan's mad decision to side with the Ratman. At least unwillingly.

"You... can't be serious." The wide-eyed Marienburger mumbled, lathering the palm of his hand across his forehead. His heart sank, and he grunted for a moment in concession. Truly, this lofty quest was bound to become zounds more dangerous. Hans simply looked on, offering no council to the brimming conversation, for his mind was no stout form either. A heavy sense of dread sat within the pit of the Student's stomach, fearing that Falderan had inadvertedly condemned all upon the Siren to death; he would not see Altdorf again.

Anglermaw - on the other hand - grinned with fiendish delight. "Ye've made yeself a wise choice, Mister Falderan." The Sea-Rat chuckled, looking out toward the open sea, away from the shambles of Luccini. "We'll surely get to the Ark before any now, so long as the musk remains... pungent. I can still smell the stench from miles. It speaks volumes 'bout Urechen's power."

"You..." Vanderbarzen once again hissed, seething with vitriol as he crept forward toward the Rat. "This isn't about you. It's about this bastard Rotflag that you've been chittering on about for Ulric knows how long!" The Captain's face was red with frustration, almost as if the aged lacerations upon his face threatened to burst violently.

Then he reared his head toward Falderan and Hans. "Alright. Fine. We sail for Pox Marsh; your infinite wisdom will be much appreciated in this coming week, which is why you both get to keep the Rat on a leash. As long the Skaven walks upon my bridge, I'll hold you both accountable for any misdeed he acts upon my crew. I catch any of my men savaged and littered with rodent marks..." The Captain took a calm breath before the last sentence he made. "...Well, let's just say that he won't be the only bastard who walks the plank."

Almost ignominiously so, Vanderbarzen sauntered back toward the company of his Marienburger kin, before entering his office. The bewildered sailors went about their business once again, leaving Hans and Anglermaw to stare dumbfounded at the Captain's spasmodic outbursts, one that was almost directed toward Falderan himself.

"An agreement for the sake of convenience, I guess." Hans lamented, staring toward the Siren's statue, his heart aching with indecision. "Port Heldenhammer would've been a less dangerous choice, but I suppose you're right; time certainly is key."

Anglermaw suddenly cackled. "Danger? I swear-say, clearly none 'o ye 'ave been to Lustria." the Sea-Rat returned. "There's no place any less dangerous than the other once yer in the jungle. Port 'Eldenhammer wouldn't 'ave saved you from what lies ahead anyway. We're simply takin' a shorter route."

Fal took the verbal assault with staunch dignity. He didn't respond as it wasn't obviously directed at him but he understood it all the same. They were heading to one of the most dangerous sea regions outside the Sea of Claws. As the captain stormed off in a fury Fal turned to Hans who seemed to have accepted this course of action.
"I'm not going here without reason." He says as the crew on deck dissipate and go about their business. Muttering amongst themselves likely many foul words directed to the Elven man. "I feel as if i would have more direct leverage there. Though maybe we'll get lucky and sail to the Pox Marsh without encountering one of the Undead vessels." Fal smiled and pat Han's back as he then turned his attention to Anglermaw. "Don't you get too cocky. Frankly you're only alive due to my words. Push that good faith however or have some other malicious scheme and I'll personally chum you for the waters." Fal gave a glare to Anglermaw that would cause an Orc to hesitate. Walking off he made his way to the bow of the ship as their course was adjusted. The next few weeks would be a brutal trip and supplies would need to be kept an eye on.

Over the coming weeks of travel Falderan kept busy on the ship by pitching in with lookout and fishing duties. The seas here were filled with large fish and sea mammals. When they had to weigh anchor on some small islands supplies of ale and water were getting smaller by the day as animosity grew. Water was just kept up but after the first week booze became a treat to those who worked hard enough. On his off time Fal gave Hans some tips for wielding both cutlass and dagger. Sharing stories of a time he encountered the Vampires and Undead at sea. Teaching him some good tips for killing blows against an unliving horde that he'd hopefully never need. Anglermaw was always kept in line of sight. Numerous times a day Falderan checked in on him and regularly patted him down. He left him with his pistol and hook but as he did he reinforced his words of caution to the rat regarding possible betrayal.

Night and day went by like anxious pages as the crew approached their hostile destination. Fal spent some free time with the Captain and he tried to figure out why he wanted the Ark. He never asked directly but through other conversation he tried to build up an idea of his character. Something that would be vital in learning if he was himself a threat or not. The constant threat of betrayal was something Fal feared from everyone on board but Hans. The student however seemed to be in more danger than he was. Hans was easy picking which is another reason Fal tried to keep nearby.

The Rat returned Falderan's stubborn glare with a phlegmatic rasp of disapproval, before gutting one of the misshapen birds that perched upon the balcony. His hookarm lacerated the poor thing and he threw it's bloody innards within his mouth as though it were some midday snack, paying little attention to the horrendous smell, as well as Hans' visible struggle to hold back his vomit; the prospect of staining his clothes with bodily fluids yet again was not lost on him.

"Listen 'ere." Anglermaw muffled, his mouth half-full of avian entrails that flung from the sputtering beak. "I ain't got no plots or schemes, yeah. All I 'ave now are my enemies, and so long as the Brood Mother are pupped, they'll only be more. Most-best thing I can do now is make some mates, No-fur or not." With that said, he too wandered off, chittering like the rodent he was. Hans' disdain seemed to be ruining the Skaven's own appetite. With Falderan and Anglermaw on their business, this had left Hans to survey the horizon alone. He gave short sigh as he rested his elbow across the wooden balcony. It was sturdy enough, at least for the sudden gust of wind that blew across the enduring sails.

'...This has been quite the study trip..." He mused in silence, accompanied by an audible gulp of nervousness.

The following fortnight was indeed rather strenuous. While Vanderbarzen had calmed down, his opinion of Anglermaw had been carved in diamond the moment he'd first laid eyes upon the Skaven. An eyewitness that sat upon the crow's nest had spotted Anglermaw's incident with the gull. Thus, the Captain forbade his guest from ever eating unless the Rat was confined within his cell. As the days passed, he would overhear Falderan's many instructions toward the Student as he dined upon the flesh of whatever pest that bred in abundance within the dismal brig. Anglermaw never bothered to make conversation with either during the trip; Falderan's only words of greeting were a few contenptuous sentences of caution, which - among other phrases - Anglermaw himself would return with a vehement hiss of:

"I ain't doing nothing. I ain't even thinkin' a noffin!'
"Don't worry 'bout me, I'm on the right side a' the battle now."
"By the Horned One, do you-ye never get bored a' this?"
"Can ah bloody catch this musk in peace?!"

The sail was arduous for rest of the crew too. Not every Marienburger upon the Siren was merely content to sail across the world at the behest of two renegades and some Empire noble. Their resentment only worsened as supplies continued to dwindle. A few of the high ranking wretches did their best to persuade Vanderbarzen that this 'Pox Marsh' would be certain death, and merely an aid to the Rat in his little game of revenge. But the Captain refused all alternatives, much to the dismay of his crew. The rest of the ilk were moreso bothered by the lack of good food and alcohol. By the turn of the second week at sea, there was not a drop of ale left on the Siren, yet the Captain's flask of liquor seemed to be bottomless; he was never seen upon the ship without it. The more uppity sailors took note, which included an incident where one of the men attempted a small 'investigation' of Vanderbarzen's supposed vault of Tilean Tequila while the Captain slept in his very office.

He was publicly flogged the following day, and thrown into the brig as company for Anglermaw.

While there was not another incident aboard the ship again, the tension only grew.

Until one fateful evening - as the capricious of Manaan tormented the stormy seas - Vanderbarzen had called Falderan and Hans within his office. He sat them both down by a lonesome table which sat within the very middle of the room, barely illuminated by the honey glow of an oil lamp. A few moments of silence passed while Vanderbarzen served his guests a glass of his coveted tequila. Almost silence, anyway; the pattering of rain and booming thunder tightened Hans' skittish nerves.

"Gentlemen. I apologise that I have not been the best of company these good few days." The Captain began, sitting himself down upon a wooden stool -- a rather humble seat for one of his station. "I half-assume that neither of you have ever met a blunt and honest Marienburger in your lives, hmm?" He mused with a weak chuckle. Hans merely nodded in silence at the comment, his soft face frowning like some scolded pup. Vanderbarzen upon took the dead air to swig his share of the liquor, gulping the foul liquid almost instantly.

"Please, have a drink." He gestured toward the glasses. "I am a humble host; to know that I satisfy my guests will soften our conversation about your little friend..."

Fal was suspicious about being called in with Hans. Clearly this business was something of a private manner and likely involved their quest. Though why he was asking now after weeks as a mystery. The room office was pleasantly warm compared to the rest of the ship. Being above the water stopped the wood being water damage and the eerie cold of the lower decks avoided. Taking a seat he smiled at the presentation of the tequila. The smirk more for himself in confirmation that the situation was an issue of most importance. Swirling it around he took it in a swig with barely a twitch Vanderbrazen opened up with a joke.
"Haven't met many for too long. My time in Marienburg was mostly for business to put it mildly. Surprisingly diverse city though it must be said." He says putting the glass down with a thud. The following comment about their 'little friend' was what gave Fal the realization of the situation. "Considering we're getting access to your good stuff and you're trying to be cordial I'd say you're running out of patience with the vengeful bastard?" Fal says leaning back on the stool with a rather casual position. He wore his standard attire, only removing it when sleeping and his blade was ever on his waist.

Vanderbarzen grimly chuckled again. "Business, yes. What happens in Marienburg is simply business." The storm outside provided no comfort to this forboding situation, especially as far as Hans was concerned. The Student meekly smothered his hand across the murky glass. Were the taste of this liquor as venomously foul as the Lustrian variant Miguel had imbided before his death, then Hans dreaded that this glass was yet another premonition of bloody conflict, pouring the water down his throat without a second glance. He felt the immediate urge to unleash the evening's meal all over the Captain's table, though by some miracle, fears of being the next poor fellow to be violently whipped in the sun prevented the poor boy from pouring his stomach forth.

"It's an aquired taste, Mister Brunswick. You'll get used to it one day; you'll need to." The Captain said, nibbling at one of the crevices by his lip. He still held the glass cup even after the liquor within became barren; the high seas threatening to shatter the luxurious cups into dangerous shards. "Right, I'll be forward." Vanderbarzen began; any further pretense of welcoming became suddenly eroded at the first sentence. "What in the Gods' many names do you intend to do about the Rat once we make port? Once we find this Ark even? I've only suffered his presence my ship for direction's sake. His usefulness is soon to be outlived, as will you both in his eyes. I know his type; his subservience is simply out of fear for his life. Once that fear is gone, what do you think's going to happen..?"

Footsteps clambered above alongside the pattering of rain, forcing the Captain to take a small glance toward the ceiling. Voices laden with panic were apparent, but both Hans and Vanderbarzen struggled to make out the words. For all the Captain knew, some poor bastard was almost tossed overboard by the storm. Not worth his attention at this moment.

"Could he be different to the others? Could he be desperate?" Hans asked.

"Desperate? Of course." Vanderbarzen replied. "Why else would he band together with his racial enemy? We've given him no comfort this trip other than to wallow in the brig, yet he still endures like some loyal slave." The Captain snickered. "He must hate us. Best that he doesn't live long enough to exact any comeuppance."

Before Vanderbarzen could pesuade the two any further, a fierce knock pummeled the door, fueled by panic.

"By the comet! What the Hell is that?!" He suddenly rose to his feet, Hans joining alongside -- spurned by his own nerves.

"Captain! -- Captain!" A voice muffled outside the locked woodwork. "Come outside! Out please!"

"Bloody Heck, sailor! What's the deal?"

"Four ships on the high sea! They're all black and rotten, but they're sailing toward us! Something fired at the Siren, looked like a harpoon!"

"...Bastard." Vanderbarzen hissed, speedily creeping toward the door. "Alright sailor, we're coming out. Haul yerself downstairs and get that crew awake! I don't care if anyone's rotten with scurvy, I want them mustered and ready for a boarding!"

Footsteps ran apace throughout the bowels of the ship as Vanderbarzen opened the door outside, greeted by a volatile storm that screeched upon the sea. The rain smothered any chance of light aboard the deck; everything was pitch black, only the stuttering cries of his crewmates gave the Captain any sense of direction. Yet still - within the clouded darkness - even Vanderbarzen could make out the silhouettes of four looming vessels, surrounding their prey like seaborne vultures. This would be do or die upon the arena of Stromfels.

"Right, forget what I said earlier for now. We need that Rat up and ready. If we're being dispatched to Morr, he can come with us."

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Forums > Fantasy Roleplay Forum > (CLOSED) Warhammer Fantasy: Doom Awaits (PART TWO)