[Enjoy the final chapter of the perilous adventures in and around the City of the Damned. The run-up story will be written eventually, as will perhaps stories of further adventures.]A Sad Victory
The spire could be seen long before the rest of the village came into view. It reached far up, the white marble glinting in the sun. After a couple of miles, the pirates were finally able to make out the rest of the village. They were approaching from the north, and saw that the village was surrounded by a wall.
“Arrr, a blasted wall! Ah well, mayhap the gate won’t be guarded anymore”, muttered Redbeard.
As the crew got closer, the wind carried various sounds to them. A cracked voice was singing incantations, while others shouted in wild disorder.
“The guards seem to be in difficulty”, said Ismail to Wei.
“Then we’d better hurry.”
As the pirates were about to quicken their pace, as the wind carried another sound from the gate towards them: mad barking.
“Now, that sounds like them witch hunters we were beating up back in the City”, snickered Bart.
“Shouldn’t be too hard to take ‘em on another time, then”, replied the captain. “Still, I’d rather get into the village first so we can set a few traps for ‘em.”
The crew stopped to figure out how to sort this problem out. Then, Gunther cried:
“Look o’er there! Isn’t that smoke rising from the south o’ the village?”
“Right ye are, lad, well done! Now, that looks like the village is wrecked down there, so us might get a chance to get O’er that bleedin’ wall from the south.”
Redbeard slapped the young gunner on the back.
“Now, let’s go ye scurvy dogs, and give ‘em cowards a taste o’ our cutlasses!”
The pirates slightly changed their direction and rounded the village in the east. The southern part of the settlement was completely devastated and the city wall and houses were all but smouldering ruins.
“What the heck happened to this village? Ah, who cares, at least we can get in here”, said Redbeard as the crew reached the edge of the ruined quarter. The pirates made their way slowly to the ruins, wary of any creatures or other mercenaries they might happen to encounter.
Martin had been sent to scout the area, and returned nervous.
“Ooook! Ooook! Eeeek!”
“What he says?” asked Redbeard.
Wei, who was the only one who claimed to understand him, answered with eyes glowing of vengefulness:
“He says the Reiklanders we met on our first day in the Cursed City are in the western part of the town.”
“Aye. We’ll keep an eye open for them, too.”
The pirates went on, left the burned ruins behind them and reached the park around the great tower. From north of the tower, they could hear the barking of the Witch Hunters’ hounds. To their left, someone was giving orders in Reikspell.
“There they are”, growled Jiang Wei, drawing his weapons.
Ismail laid his hand on the first mate’s shoulder: “Don’t rush towards them. The cowards are laden with bows and the like. If you attack them straight from the front, you will resemble a pin cushion before you see the first off them.”
Wei shook the hand off, but stayed.
Redbeard went towards some buildings at the end of the park, and the rest of his crew followed him.
Suddenly, they heard a thud, and loud shouting erupted from the position of the Reiklanders.
Redbeard looked at his men, who could only shrug their shoulders. He turned around to continue towards the building, as a vile creatures jumped at him, blood dripping from his arms and ugly face. It went straight for the captain’s throat and tore his larynx out.
The captain sank gurgling to the ground, blood gushing from his mouth. While Gunther stood rooted to the ground, his eyes wide open in shock, Jiand Wei shouted:
“Get that bloody ghoul!”
He charged, followed by Snorri, and crushed the head of the cannibal creature.
Meanwhile, Gunther started to run straight into the house before him, his only desire to get away from the dead captain and the dead ghoul. As he entered the house, he immediately stopped and made and afraid step back: In front of him stood a Sister of Sigmar, her dress torn, her eyes staring at the wall, her hair messed up, blood dripping from her heavy armour and her warhammers. Upon seeing the gunner, an insane smile appeared on her face. Gunther cried out loud and dived for the door to his left.
The mad nun was about to charge him, when Nigel the dog, frenzied by the smell of blood, bit her in the leg, bringing the sister down.
Ismail charged her, too, but before he could land a killing blow, the warhound had already devoured her head.
Panting, the crew gathered in the little courtyard by the house. They were discussing on what to do next. Martin went to the end of the alley and reported:
“Eeeek! Ooook. Ook.”
“He says there are Reiklander archers all over the plaza”, translated Wei.
“Damn”, commented Bart, “so we better stay here and see what happens. You see that hatch o’er there? Let’s keep an eye on it, lest some ghouls creep out’a the cellar.”
“I’ll climb up that building and see if I can get a shot at some of those Reikland bastards!” cried Gunther, his knees still wobbly from the scary encounters.
Nigel barked and ran off in the direction the pirates came from.
“That blasted dog!” sighed Snorri, and followed him.
The wind carried a lot of chanting and shouting from the plaza into the alley.
It was followed by the clanging of metal hitting metal. Suddenly, a loud bang could be heard, well-known by the pirates. It was followed by several screams, barking and whimping.
“That wretched blunderbuss”, hissed Wei.
Martin sneaked up to the end of the alley and peeped out into the plaza. When he returned, he said:
Bart looked enquiringly at the first mate.
“He said he could not see what the blunderbuss hit, as the tower was in the way. However, he saw some of those vile ghouls fighting a couple of Witch Hunters.”
The four pirates sighed, and sat down. In the remains of the attic of the adjacent building, Gunther was happily putting a green glowing shard of wyrstone into his pocked. When he scrambled up the broken stairs, he found it right in front of his nose. Then, he crouched down and aimed at one of the Reikland archers. He pulled the trigger – and missed. Cursing, he scrambled down the stairs again, knowing that the archers now knew his position and confessing that they hit a little better than he did.
In the park, Nigel sneaked up to the hill where the archer had taken up position.
Bored, the pirates in the court walked up and down, with Martin guarding the entrance, when Jiand Wei heard a sound from the cellar.
He tipped Bart on the shoulder and pointed towards the hatch. Bart aimed his blunderbuss, ready to blast away the head of any ghoul that wanted to leave the cellar. The sounds ceased, and nothing happened.
Wei motioned Bart and Ismail to guard the exit. He took a run-up and jumped right through the rotten wood into the cellar. Strangely enough, some torches were burning in brackets on the wall, so Wei had no trouble seeing his foe: one of the cursed Reiklanders.
He smiled, landed, and immediately charged.
The startled Reiklander did not stand a change, and was knocked out immediately.
In the courtyard, the other pirates could hear their first mate laugh madly.
When Wei returned from the cellar, he beamed at his comrades:
“It was one of those bloody Reiklanders.”
In the park, Nigel had manoeuvred himself into charge range undetected. Still in his blood frenzy, he charged, barking wildly at the archers.
The first surprised bowman did not stand a chance, and Nigel brought him down with a well placed bite within a second.
Then, he charged another bowman, wile a third counter charged the dog…
…while the remaining archer looked around to see whether the warhound was attacking alone. He spotted Snorri, who tried rather clumsily to sneak up on the archers in order to support his furry crewmate.
When the dwarf spotted the foe, it was already too late. An arrow soared towards him, and everything went black.
In the courtyard, the pirates decided to split up and try to get onto the hill occupied by the Reiklanders. Bart darted out of the alley and into the next doorway, while Wei climbed up a ruined wall and Ismail headed for the park. Fierce fights could still be heard from the other side of the wizard’s tower.
From one moment to the next, the noise grew less and less. Some more shouts could be heard, then it ceded completely. Bart looked out of the door and saw the Reiklanders run away. He spotted the dog, who was about to follow two archers, and whistled. The dog looked at him, and, with a sad look in his eyes, walked towards the blunderbussier.
Ismail came around the corner and signalled Bart to follow him. Jiang Wei and Martin stepped out of the alley, too, as did Gunther, who appeared from nowhere.
The crew slowly walked around the tower and suddenly stood right before the bashed-up Witch Hunters. Bart put his finger onto the trigger. Ismail raised his hand.
“Enough blood has been spilled today”, he said.
The Witch Hunter nodded, and stretched out his hand, and Ismail shook it, impressed by the first man who did neither feel unsettled by the blind pirate’s empty nor his unerring movements.