Greg Mann as Morik Martok
Vincent Pecoraro as Elosian Sylvres
Miguel Correa as Laurence Van Drake
Christine Scott as Aelanah Beastfriend
Michael Graziano as Adon Thunderclaw
Paul Vilbig as Saleos Me’Serachte
Marc Greco as Mardak Fletcher
It appeared that the question of fight or flight was moot. The Marauder was not only larger and better armed, it appeared to be quite a bit faster as well. One thing the Order did have going in their favor, however, was Aelanah Beastfriend. Letting out a gentle whistle on the wind, flocks of Coastal Herons and Tidehawks came to the aid of the Redeemer, creating chaos on the bridge of Malth Xevious’s pirate vessel while Sarah Stormdawn called upon her powers over weather to gather dark gray rainclouds to surround the Redeemer in a concealing fog. It would not stop Xevious’s approach, but it would buy the Order time to position themselves for the pirates’ inevitable attempt to board and plunder the Redeemer.
Adon sat to meditate right in front of the helm, which struck Elosian as being an odd thing to do. Adon revealed that he was allowing his personal ki to commingle with that of the crew, so he could know where the greatest danger existed and react in battle accordingly. Elosian had no idea that monks could do that, but then again, he explained, the whole concept of gods and divinity was also quite new to him. Adon quickly explained that a monk’s power comes not from any god or other being, but from within himself.
All beings possess a wealth of power that lies untapped. Monks learn to harness this power and, in some cases, use it to heighten their physical abilities or grant them untold powers no magic or prayer could possibly match. Elosian held his right hand up, saying that all the power he needed was right there. Adon asked whether all Infernians placed such unwavering trust in the power of others. Elosian had no answer, but realized that this was a conversation he wanted to pursue further in the near future.
Mardak knelt and said a silent prayer. Saleos and Laurence followed suit, and as they finished their words, the helmsman gasped, and both Laurence and Mardak sprung to their feet, weapons drawn.
A series of gaffs and grappling hooks sailed through the cloud cover from the starboard flank of the Redeemer. The pirates were making their move. Over two-dozen heavily-armed bandits of the sky began to rappel or swing across to the deck of the Redeemer, where Laurence and Mardak were eagerly awaiting their arrival. Aelanah perched herself at the crow’s nest and began to make precise sniper shots two-at-a-time, felling several of the lower-level pirates before their feet could even touch the Redeemer’s main deck floor. Mardak had previously loosened several of the floorboard nails ahead of him, stomping hard on the boards to send a pirate invader soaring clumsily into his path, then lopping his head clean off with a ferocious horizontal slash of his family sword.
Morik began to trade magical attacks with a sorceress from the deck of the other ship. Through the clouds, the two wizards could only make out the mystical glow of one another’s attacks, but Morik knew what he was dealing with upon countering her first spell and seeing her counter his retaliatory strike. He turned to Laurence and said: “She’s mine.” Laurence nodded, saying: “Then go get her!”
One by one, the early attackers fell. Adon hopped up from his meditation and ran to the front of the ship moments before anyone could tell why. Suddenly, heavy metal boarding planks drove into the side of the Redeemer, their sharp, spiked ends embedding themselves into the very flesh of the ship. At the ship’s aft, a heavy hooked chain, fired from the deck of the Marauder via a tripod-mounted harpoon cannon, tore through the main deck and winched the Redeemer tight against the side of the larger pirate ship. Adon arrived at the site of the boarding plank’s attachment just in time to leap into the air, flip backwards, and drive both palms into the end of the metal plates, causing a massive vibration that shook several of the pirate boarders from the edge and down into the clouds below the battle. Adon, still in a handstand, propeller kicked another pirate in the face, sending him careening over the main deck rail and to his certain doom on the surface of the ocean hundreds of feet below.
Elosian noticed that a female tiefling brandishing a massive maul was bounding across the boarding plank, deftly leap-frogging over one of the other pirates to bring her hammer square against Adon’s abdomen. Adon was flung hard through the air, crashing back-first into a pile of crates and disappearing in the resultant cloud of debris. Elosian crossed between his fallen ally and the tiefling. He made a remark about there being another Infernian here, but she was more interested in clearing the way for some of her allies to climb aboard the Redeemer and face its defenders. She made a heavy spinning swing with her maul that Elosian barely avoided, and Elo realized that talk, in this case, was out of the question. He couldn’t help but ask the tiefling’s name, however. She smiled with a wink, saying: “I’m Teyra Kyraso. Nice to meetcha!”, then she tried to crush him into a comical disc-shaped object. Sarah smashed Teyra in the face with a lightning bolt she curled around herself from the clouds surrounding the ship. Elosian thanked Sarah, and she said: “You’re an idiot.” Laurence glared at her from across the battle. She added: ”...but you’re welcome.” with a forced smile. Elosian smiled back, saying: “I’ll take it.”
At this time, Laurence was trading blows with an insane armored human soldier brandishing a massive whip-like flexible sword while Mardak, standing at Laurence’s back, was fending off a crazed green-skinned orc with a face-concealing helmet and a wicked battle axe. Laurence was feeding Mardak information about their foes while they engaged them in melee. The human was Poske Maxus, and he was a notorious serial killer wanted dead in over a dozen nations. How he got mixed up with the pirates was a mystery, but asking the man would be as pointless as trying to capture him alive. He was deranged and spoke in nonsensical childhood rhymes. Mardak asked about the orc that was trying to kill him. Laurence said that the orc was Rulock Greenblood. He was, pure and simple, what everybody thinks of when they think of an orc. He’s a savage, a cannibal, and as stupid as a sack of sod. Rulock cried out: “Hey! Rulock heard that!” and he dove toward Laurence, exposing him to a vicious under-arm stabbing thrust from Mardak. Laurence continued: “He’s also really easy to fluster into making a deadly mistake. Take care of this crazy bastard, will you? I’ve got to find Xevious and kill him before this gets out of hand.”
Morik was trading magical attacks with the pirate sorceress when, suddenly, he was bitten on the leg by a small, scrawny gray dog with glowing purple eyes. He was distracted just long enough for the sorceress to teleport through the shadows and onto the deck of the Redeemer behind him. Before he could spin around, she hit Morik in the back with a brutal barrage of black magical bolts fired out from her fingertips. Morik struggled to turn onto his back and look at her. He did a double-take. She was like S’zeves! A, what did he call them? A Shadar-Kai? As the tiny mutt hopped up into her left arm, she pointed her right arm toward Morik and began to fling more black bolts of magic toward him. Morik managed to duck behind a stack of barrels in time to avoid being destroyed by her attack. She laughed at him, taunting him, saying, “Look at the little sorcerer, so brave until a girl gets in his face and starts showing him what real magic looks like.”
Morik took the opportunity to ask her what her name was. She replied: “Why? You want to know the name of the woman who took your life? Fair enough. I’m S’zyrinah V’Destrii.”
Morik rolled a glass bottle filled with lamp oil under her feet. Kaerysa created a commotion to distract her from noticing. Morik caught Kaerysa’s eyes and gave her a wink. He then came out from behind the barrels. “I’m Morik Martok, and you remind me of a friend. S’zeves? Do you know him?”
She shrugged. “Never met anyone else like me before, Morik. Ready to die, now? Or is it still questions time?”
Morik smiled. “No, but I am ready to prove who’s the better sorcerer.”
Morik snapped his fingers and created a magical fire within the bottle. It exploded, and the female Shadar-Kai who shared the same last-name as S’zeves was flung backward and onto her ass. Morik strode toward her, cracking his knuckles and tossing his hair out of his eyes, then surrounded his hands with a magical glow. “Ready for round two, Ms. V’Destrii?”
Malth Xevious leapt the twenty-foot distance between the Marauder and the Redeemer, coming to rest on the deck right in front of Laurence. Behind him, two-dozen more of his men were rappelling over. Laurence did his best to hide it, but he knew that this was going to be over soon, and not in his favor. As well as he and his men were doing so far, Xevious had at least a hundred more pirates to throw at them, and they wouldn’t be on their feet much longer. If this battle was going to be won, it had to be now, and it had to be with Xevious’s death or his own.
Laurence shook the blood of Poske Maxus from his blade and began to walk a circle around Xevious. The Nomoid was an impressive sight to behold, his entire body a bristling display of the finest in Crystech craftsmanship. Xevious held out his right arm and a pair of doors on his forearm slid apart. A metal handle slid out from within his hollow arm, sliding forward into his hand. A pair of quillions and a hilt extended from the handle, encircling his metal fist in a protective cocoon. Then, from the end of the handle, a blade-shaped transparent magical energy field was conjured, filled with a bolt of lightning that made a resounding snap whenever the energy blade made contact with something solid, like the deck of the Redeemer. Xevious dragged the tip of the blade against the wooden floorboards. SNAPSNAPSNAPSNAPSNAPSNAP!!! Laurence held his sword up in a salute, then dove toward Xevious.
Laurence was brave enough to take on ten Malth Xevious’s that day. However, he could not back up his bravery with the power he needed to repel Xevious’s assault. Laurence was badly injured moments into the fight, and Xevious wasn’t even scratched. As Saleos dragged Laurence away from Xevious, Morik turned his attention to the Nomoid pirate lord. However, S’zyrinah V’Destrii dove in his way, protecting the pirate from being interfered with. More pirates were crossing over, and over a dozen of Laurence’s crew were already dead or dying. Elosian called out to Laurence, saying that they had to flee. Xevious laughed loudly and said: “Fools. There is no escape!” Laurence knew that he could not win, and that he could not escape. All hopes, it seemed, were lost.
Suddenly, a sniper shot rang out from the skies above, carving through Xevious’s weapon-bearing hand and causing his energy sword to overload and explode in his face. Everyone looked up, and for Laurence and the rest of the Order, it was a sight for sore eyes. The Peregrine was perched above the Redeemer, and smoke trailed up from the barrel of Captain Tarrik Martok’s gunblade as he leaned over the edge hanging by one-hand onto the rail of his main deck. Thirty of the Peregrine’s finest descended via elastic-rope-jumps onto the deck of the Peregrine. Tarrik came down as well, giving a signal to his men above, then helping Laurence to his feet.
“Looked like you could use a hand, Captain Van Drake. Permission to come aboard?”
Kaerysa began to cheer vigorously: “Yay! The good guys are here to kick the bad guys’ butts!”
Laurence smiled and then gave Xevious a sinister grin: “Still think you’re gonna win?”
At the fore, Adon had recovered and was engaging with four pirates when another monk landed deftly beside him from the Peregrine. Without missing a beat, the two monks performed a matching ki-sharing kata and executed mirror-image joined-hand jumping spin-kicks, knocking two of the pirates onto their backs and causing the two others to stumble over the edge of the ship. The monk from the Peregrine then witnessed Adon performing a standing flip-kick with a piece of broken lumber between his feet, hurling the shard of wood so hard into a pirate that it shattered his skull and he was dead before his body hit the deck. The monk was so impressed that she applauded and said “Oh my Gods, you gotta teach me that! I’m Kialla Lanzhir, by the way! Nice to meet you!”
A female Merusian elf named Kasmir Valaro came to the aid of Morik, and together, the two magic-users forced S’zyrinah to beg her captain to retreat. Xevious grabbed the Shadar-Kai and leapt back over to his own ship. Tarrik said “Oh, no you don’t, you sneaky metal bastard. Laurence, you mind if I use this?”
Tarrik ran over to the helm and said “I hope this system works!” He flipped open a control console hatch underneath the wheel and tapped on a faintly glowing grayish green crystal. Suddenly, the crystal glowed a brilliant greenish yellow and everyone on the deck of the ship felt as if their feet were glued to the Redeemer permanently. Some of the pirates were trapped, but most of them had already made it back onto their ship. However, the mooring chain and boarding planks still held the Redeemer and the Marauder together snug. Tarrik spun the wheel hard to the left and pushed a small white lever next to the wheel all the way to the topmost position. Suddenly, the Redeemer began to ascend and list to the Starboard, spinning both the Order and the pirate ships upside-down!
As almost a hundred of the pirates fell to their deaths far below, Tarrik glanced over to see that a majority of them were still there, clinging to ropes and sails and masts, including Xevious himself. Tarrik then pushed a glowing blue crystal earring into his ear, saying “Fire all we got at ‘em, now!
Suddenly, from above, the Peregrine unloaded every cannon they had into the exposed underside of the Marauder. The mooring chain and boarding planks snapped off the Redeemer, and Tarrik brought the ship into a tight vertical dive, heading directly for the ocean. The Peregrine came from behind them to match their course and heading. Above, the Marauder was burning and damaged, but it was still flying, and a pair of massive cannon doors were opening at the front of the ship. Tarrik said that the Marauder was too advanced, that these pirates must have some wealthy backers in order to afford the upkeep on a ship like that. He said the main cannon would destroy either the Redeemer or the Peregrine if given a chance, but both of their ships were capable of something the Marauder just couldn’t match.
Tarrik twisted one of the handles on the helm wheel, exposing a bright blue crystal hidden within the center of the wheel. When he touched the crystal, the airship’s sails retracted, the masts telescopically descended into the hull of the ship, and a magical barrier encapsulated an area above the top deck. They could see a similar series of changes occurring on the Peregrine 3, and the two ships dove beneath the surface of the water just in time to avoid being destroyed by the massive cannon of the Marauder.
After a few moments catching their breath, Laurence set about getting his injured crew into triage, and Morik checked on Kaerysa. She was chatting with her sisters, but stopped mid-sentence to spin around and kiss Morik. She then casually asked her sisters if they wanted to take a swim with her and talk to the pretty fishies. Aelanah was more interested than Sarah, but they each grabbed one of her arms and leapt through the protective field surrounding the ship, swimming alongside it. Morik was still in shock from the unsolicited kiss. Elosian was admiring how gracefully the three sisters swam and cavorted with the sea creatures surrounding the ship. Morik babbled like a fool, and Elosian chuckled.
Tarrik greeted Morik proudly, breaking his trance. The captain of the Peregrine asked the Merusian elf Kasmir what she thought of his nephew’s magical talents. She said she was quite impressed at his resourcefulness, and that he had great potential. Morik asked Tarrik if he knew what was happening on Stonehaven, and he said that he hadn’t heard anything.
Kasmir said that there was a strange mystical force that was interfering with long-distance Crystech communications. She was investigating the matter, but so far, she couldn’t come up with anything. Tarrik said that he sent Melchior a Little Bird a few days ago, but it wasn’t unusual for a week to go by before he would hear a reply. Morik set about explaining to Tarrik what Sarah had told them about the volcanic activities and their possible relationship with the Dark Lady. Tarrik got very grim-faced, saying that he recently learned that there may be a connection between the Dark Lady and the Ebon League. Morik was blown away by this revelation.
Aelanah, Sarah, and Kaerysa returned to the deck of she ship. Kaerysa ran over to Morik and hugged him, her wet robes drenching him thoroughly, but her hot, moist body distracted him far too much to react rationally. She had a sad look in her face, though, and he immediately switched gears. He asked her what was wrong, and the three sisters revealed what they learned from speaking with the animals outside the ship. Apparently, just as the cities on the continent were being attacked by armies of monsters, the underwater cities of Merus Akuai and Losarrill were under attack by Sahaugin and Kuo-Toa invaders. Some were said to have black crystals in their foreheads, just like the ogre and the kobolds before that.
Elosian took the opportunity to have a palaver with Revenon. His demonic liege told him that he did manage to learn something from the smaller fragments of crystal Elosian had collected earlier. Apparently these crystals were all hewn from the same, large piece. The crystal was magical in nature, but something about it’s chemical make-up made it seem unlikely to have been conjured by even the most powerful of wizards.
He believed that this main crystal might have been created through use of Runometry, and that the Dark Lady’s minions have been chipping away at this crystal and embedding it into their brains in order to connect their minds to the main crystal, sap the mystical energies from it like a massive battery, and use this power augment their own abilities and allow them to command legions of sub-demonoid monsters like kobolds, goblins, orcs, trolls, ogres, and the like. Revenon said that, if possible, it would be even more informative to study a whole crystal.
Elosian brought this information directly to Laurence, who was about to travel via Dimension Door with Tarrik over to the deck of the Peregrine 3. Upon learning that Runometry was involved, Laurence, and Morik simultaneously said “S’zeves.” Tarrik looked puzzled. “The weird gray punk kid that untied my rope knots a few days ago? The one with the Current? That S’zeves? You mean to tell me that stupid kid’s into Runometry?”
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Chapter O-1: The Order in… On the Road to Yonsalyre
Chapter O-2: The Order in… Before It’s Too Late, Part 1 of 3
Chapter O-3: The Order in… Before It’s Too Late, Part 2 of 3
Chapter O-4: The Order in… Before It’s Too Late, Part 3 of 3
Chapter O-5: The Order in… Legacy of Glory, Part 1 of 2
Chapter O-6: The Order in… Legacy of Glory, Part 2 of 2
Chapter O-7: The Order in… Trials of Glory, Part 1 of 3
Chapter O-8: The Order in… Trials of Glory, Part 2 of 3
Chapter O-9: Order in… Trials of Glory, Part 3 of 3
Chapter O-10: The Order & The Current in… To Slay the Darkness
Chapter O-11: The Order & The Current in… To Save the Light
Chapter O-12: The Order in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 1 of 3
Chapter O-13: The Order in… Prophesies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 2 of 3
Chapter O-14: The Order in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 3 of 3
Chapter O-15: The Order in… The Horns of Agony
Chapter O-16: The Order in… Sailing Through the Maelstrom
Chapter O-17: The Order in… Shi Di Ma Under Siege
Chapter O-18: The Order in… “Against All Threats Great And Small…”
Chapter O-19: The Order in… “…We’ll Overcome And Never Fall.”
Chapter O-20: The Order in Hell