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About Grathier

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  • Birthday 09/06/1991
  1. "Hold it." Barnaby held up his hand, stopping the pair. "Have you two ever organised anything in your lives? You're going into an dark, dangerous area with no idea what to expect and you just say 'Here's the location, let's RV?'" He drained his drink and placed it down. "I'm all for impulsive shit, but no. That's how you die. Worse, it's how the guy next to you dies." he referenced the map again. "Now feel free to speak up if you have a better idea on something. "First thing's first is the RV. We're not RVing at the mine." he spread his tiny map on the counter for the other four to lean in and see. "Why not? Because there's a good chance that one or more of you will get lost along the way. Instead." he pointed at the main road where the desolate trail began. "We'll RV here, let's say... an hour before first light tomorrow. Bring your horse if you have one. "It looks about an hours walk. It'll be dark and fairly close terrain so we won't be riding like the wind. If it isn't light yet when we get there, we'll lay up. Otherwise one of us - I'll do it, I guess - will go out at first light and quietly investigate the entrance. Because we don't want to startle anybody now, do we? When we're happy, we'll go in. I recommend leaving a sentry at the entrance to warn us if somebody else wants to visit." Barnaby finished his cigarette as he thought over the next bit. Proper planning prevents piss poor performance, after all. "Okay, gear. I understand you may not have everything because infinite resources are a pipe dream, but bring what you can and we'll work out the rest. "First off, a damn weapon. Sword, dagger, pistol, rifle, crossbow, I don't care. Just as long as it isn't unwieldy in narrow spots like that thing." he pointed at the greatsword on Ranavos's back. "I recommend you bring a backup weapon, mate. A shortsword, perhaps. "Second, a real map. I have one - I even have one of those small compasses ship navigators use - and I'll draw up these directions up for us tonight. If you have your own, by all means bring it. "Third, two lanterns between the five of us, fuel for said lanterns and something to light said fuel. I have a flint and striker so that's covered. I recommend hitting the traders outside for oil before you go home and prep. "Four, for the love of all that is holy bring food and water. Seems like a stupid one, but you'd be surprised how many idiots would forget in the army. A day's worth, whatever that is for you. "Some other stuff. I don't think any of you are priests, so first aid supplies if you have them. Rope is useful in a cave, and a little survival knife is invaluable in any situation. Use common sense to work out if you need something and remember that whatever it is, you may have to lug it around." He took a deep breath. That was a lot of talking. "Anybody have any input? Anything to add or think can be done better? Because I'd rather not just wing it."
  2. Barnaby sighed. He felt triumphant, the reward for questioning everything he guessed, but he sighed. Just a couple of kids who wanted to kill their pa's killer. At least these two *have* a shot. 11-year old Barnaby never had that pleasure. Now it was just one (or more) thieves holed up in a cave somewhere. It sounded like easy money. Time consuming, but easy. He lit another cigarette and regarded the death knight Alibeth pointed at. He never much like Death Knights. Almost as a rule they were brooding and miserable - comes with being dead he supposed. And while they could fight like any warrior, they also wielded disease and tainted the ground they fought on. It was common that if even one death knight was involved on either side of a battle, the number of soldiers falling badly ill in the proceeding days would skyrocket. Of course you never hear about it - nobody cares about the common footman enough to bother. Barnaby regarded the twins again. Alibeth was fidgeting with her ring - was it glowing? He dismissed it as a trick of the light. Mazzonore was still trying to puff his chest out and appear fearless. If he was fearless, he'd have gone out and hunted this thief himself. Still kids, almost. A last thoughtful draw on his cigarette. "Sounds easy enough." he said at last. "Now the most important question - how much do I stand to make from this?"
  3. "Hrm?" a nearby patron grunted at the mention of a demon. Barnaby shot him a look that said 'go back to your drink'. He listened from behind his own drink, signalling for another when it was empty, as the duo spoke. He wasn't the best at reading people, but they - at least Alibeth - seemed sincere. She was at least prepared to introduce herself. Still, they both fidgeted, looked around and Mazzonore - he was tempted to just stick with Mr Sinner - was seemingly trying to script this. No doubt nothing was going according to plan for him thus far. So a demon allegedly killed the siblings' father and fled to a cave. Barnaby frowned and referenced the flier again. The shop was by the west track, towards Westfall and the demon fled - was witnessed fleeing - to a place halfway across Elwynn. More likely it was a bandit hideaway, but Mazzonore couldn't have pursued him that far. The ever-distrusting part of his mind wondered if this was a ruse. Lure someone to a cave, kill him, take his belongings and leave him for the murlocs and kobolds. "That's... a fairly bold claim." Barnaby said slowly. "Elwynn's far from safe off the beaten path, but demons have never been a part of that. "So to sum this up: a demon breaks in to your pa's shop, murders him and flees to his hidey-hole. You two are here to find people to peek into said hidey-hole because the Guard won't look themselves. Because if that's the case, then I have more questions." He sipped on his drink and took a second to filter his questions. "One. Was there anything missing from the shop? Folks rarely walk into a shop, murder somebody and walk out empty-handed. Not for a good reason, at least. If so, what? And if we walked into this cave and found said item, would there be definitive proof that it came from your pa's shop? "Two. Boy, have you - either of you I suppose - even seen a demon? Because 99 times out of 100, a person wearing a hooded cloak is in fact a person. To that end, you can tell me what the assailant looked like, what he was wearing and you" he pointed at Mazzonore, "can give me a rundown of your witness account. "Thirdly, and I know you answered this lass, do either of you have any reason why your pa would be targeted? Did he have debts or enemies or a drinking or gambling problem?" He almost finished there, but another question struck him. "And why do you keep insisting that time is so very short?"
  4. There was too much movement over the wooden floorboards for Barnaby to hear or feel the approaching body from behind. All of a sudden a figure was by his side out for his attention. "Well met, good sir." he said. Barnaby opened his mouth to reply before the rest of it tumbled out. "I see you took one of our fliers. We are in desperate need of forming a party of adventurers to infiltrate the vile murderer's lair. Will you be joining us? We're leaving first thing tomorrow morning, if you are." The pitch went down with as much elegance as a collapsing scaffold. Barnaby scarcely even registered what he said and instead frowned. His first go-to thought of this man was a painting he once saw in Dalaran; a priest and a young red-haired sinner on his knees pleading forgiveness. Mr Sinner was about his height, narrow-chested and on the gangly side. Ratty clothes like his, but had a nice-looking green pendant of some kind around his neck. The awkward exchange ended when the man tried again. "Forgive my folly. I imagine you wish to inquire more about this crime, as well as the exact compensation, but our situation is quite grim, and time is not on our side." Mr Sinner put a hand in his pocket, seemingly looking for something. "I give my word that I shall personally provide anything you desire that is within my power if you assist me and my . . . my associate." Barnaby glanced at where Mr Sinner had gestured and saw the pretty girl he had glanced at on his way in. She dipped her head and mouthed something he didn't catch, which he replied with a wink. The girl had a striking resemblance to a lady he had fraternised with in the army when he was 19. She had been a quartermaster, and it had cost him his corporal's stipe. What was her name, he thought. He couldn't remember. Mr Sinner spoke again. "What says you, good sire?" Barnaby glanced at the red-haired man as he slowly took out and unfolded the flier again. "It says 'Investigate Break-In and Murder' here." he said first. "That's a far cry from infiltrating a lair of some kind." The man began a reply but Barnaby held his hand up to silence him. Mr Sinner spoke enough, it was his turn. "It sounds like you're more interested in a lynching party than an investigation." he said, pausing to take a sip of his drink. "So first thing's first, you can hammer out some details so I know exactly just what the hell you're asking me to do is." He finished his cigarette and crushed the remnants under his thumb on the bar counter. "And be a dear and introduce me to Quarterm- er, your associate, hm?"
  5. He cursed the relentless rain. Barnaby Grathier was in a black mood. The past three days of constant downpour threatened his crops and put his current landscaping job on hold. Work was scarce, even for a jack-of-all-tradesman like he, and money was often an issue. He also had some difficulty walking through mud. He didn't go to Lion's Pride often, on account of money and family commitments (he looked after his nine year old sister and paid for four tutors for her) but he was in no mood to care. He wanted a drink and to get out of the rain. Limping inside, he beelined to the bar and took an extra second to shift weight onto his good knee. "Oi!" he called to the bartender over the noise and signalled a drinking gesture. "Bourbon, aye?!" Barnaby rested his cane by the counter, lit a cigarette and waved away a polite local offering his seat to the man with the bad leg. He was aware he probably looked pretty ragged after the rain. He was average height and had a lean, almost wiry build. His wet, windswept hair was light black, faintly flecked with charcoal-grey and came halfway down his neck - short for most, but the longest he had had it for nearly a decade - his jawline lined with stubble and his eyes a darkish sea-green with a hard edge that read 'I damn well know what I'm doing so don't question me'. He was 26, had the lined face of a man past 30 and the shoulders back, chest out, ramrod spined posture of a military man. His clothes were semi-ragged and self made, he wore no jewellery and had the crude hands of a man who used them for a living. Most tellingly was his limp, a war wound he had 'earned' on the fringe of a belch of canister shot. His bourbon arrived, coin was exchanged and Barnaby set into his drink, immediately feeling a little better. No problem in life couldn't be eased by such an ageless remedy, he thought. There was nobody interesting about him, except perhaps a cute young girl in the company of a ginger-headed man - the kind who probably shouldn't be in contact with sunlight most days. He checked out the bulletin board instead. Not that some bold foray into some distant dungeon was his line of work. He generally checked for calls for handywork within Elwynn. Among other things, drivers for the logging camp - they always needed those, some tree clearance work near Stormwind - not in this rain, some new wanted posters, a reward for clearing a bandit camp near Jasperlode - tempting, despite the knee - and a flier that preached the glory of the Light. There were other outlandish ones he paid no heed to. He frowned at one in particular. -Looking for Veteran Hero to Investigate Break-in and Murder. - Location: Whiteschmidt Supply Shoppe. West HighwAY, Elwynn Forest. RewarD: Flexible. Best Offer. Will be shared among all contriBUTING PArties. Assailant mUST be caught! Please Help! He plucked it from the board and read it. It was an open contract for a murder investigation. Barnaby had done some time with the City Guard while his shoulder had healed in the past. Did the idiot who wrote this not think to talk to them instead of throwing 'heroes' at the problem? Barnaby had met 'heroes' before. Those that weren't dead were usually dumb as bricks. Can charge the enemy, can't spell enemy. Still, Barnaby mused over the bourbon and cigarette both held in the other hand. He had to admit he was restless and craved a break in the monotony. And it was within Elwynn, though he had never heard of Whiteschmidt Supply Shoppe before. That may save him the logistical issue of his sister. And he had some first-hand experience in this. It was either this or take on the bandit camp. He scanned the flier again, trying to get the gears ticking. No means of contact except the shop, so he guessed whoever put it up either lived or worked there. Owner? Probably not. Business owners kept detailed ledgers and whoever wrote this obviously didn't write much. Perhaps a relative of the owner. Perhaps the owner was killed? He took a draw on his cigarette and idly burned a hole in the 'o' of 'hero'. Break-ins were common since a lot of folk were poor as dirt. He could understand not bothering with the City Guard, but the urgency in the letter suggested it would be important enough to be. The whole thing spelled desperate. Not desperate enough for legal channels? Or perhaps too desperate? He read 'Assailant must be caught' a few times. Perhaps they ought to have written 'Killer stole something of mine I don't want the Guard to know about or trust them with.' For some reason, his first instinct was blackmail material. He folded the parchment up and stuffed it into his pocket. Open contract, after all. "We'll see what the rain is doing tomorrow," he said to himself, holding his drink up to check how much he had left. "In the meantime..."
  6. Don't you already have a commission for a woman?
  7. Grathier: Officially, it never got to him. But his behaviour sometimes hints otherwise.
  8. (( Just putting this here because it's easier than making a thread for a single reactionary post. )) Barnaby ignored the suspicious leer of the banker as he deposited nearly five hundred gold. He didn't bother trying to explain why a crippled man in threadbare clothes had such money. If he wanted the opinions of sheltered, middle-class civilians, he'd ask for them. The date auction in Dalaran had been fun. He had only been around on an unrelated errand, and ended up earning a boatload in five minutes. And he didn't even have to go on the stupid date. He limped out of the Counting House and headed to the stable in Old Town. It was time to buy a damn horse, even if he couldn't ride one properly because of his knee. Still, he thought to himself, it was a shot to the ol' pride that so few were willing to bid on him. He wasn't the dashing rogue he was when he was 18 and earning medals in Northrend anymore, he knew that. But the only real bidders were the philanthropists looking for an excuse to donate and appear charitable. And the winning bid was from a man (a man!) as incentive for Barnaby to forget something he had long forgotten. In the end he wasn't suprised. He probably had no business mingling with that crowd. Lords, ladys, sirs, madams, a bloody ambassador, scholarly mages and holy paladins and other exotic elite from society. And him. A crude ex-soldier with old, ratty clothes and a war wound. Maybe one rung up from society's bottom feeders. Who worked from dawn to dusk every day to earn just a few silvers. "What am I thinking?" he said out loud, diverting from the track to self-pity he was on. "I just made more than twenty-five years wage by smoking a cigarette in front of rich people!" He kept walking, passing a ragged, homeless man a minute later with a wooden bowl set out. "Spare a copper?" he asked. "Fuck off!"
  9. (( That response was made thinking (rather, confirmed at the time) I was busy that day. Busy has changed to not busy, so maybe I'll show up. ))
  10. Barnaby spies the letter whilst doing his daily inspection on the bulletin board. Because heralds never give enough information on current events. All proceeds to benefit the Stormwind Orphanage. He could guess what that likely meant. "Sell my body and soul to keep Matron's wine glass full for another few weeks?" he muses. Then he cracks up laughing. "What's so funny?" Miranda asks beside him, not knowing where on the wall of parchment he is reading. "People." Barnaby replies as they walk off. "People are funny."
  11. "We're now inhabiting that wreck of a house back yonder. That makes us neighbours, so I figured we'd come introduce ourselves." -- Routine was established quickly. Miranda was gently shaken awake at dawn by Barnaby, who was always already dressed, hair wet from bathing in the river. She usually resisted - getting out of bed was hard though most of it was waking to realise she was still the nobody she was the night before. Sometimes she wished she could stay in bed and dream forever. This failed after about a week, so Barnaby instead made breakfast earlier. It was usually a stew from whatever bread and meat was left over from dinner. It was always a hot breakfast - winter was almost upon them and the mornings were getting colder - so she had to get up before it got cold. It was usually quiet, though Barnaby sometimes talked about the day ahead. Then she dressed and did some chores - washing clothes and the cooking pot for now while he chopped wood - and then they walked to Goldshire. They bought food for the day and Barnaby ran whatever errands needed running. Miranda usually trailed quietly behind him, looking at no one and talking to no one. After a week, on the way home, Barnaby told her the new plan for the day. "After lunch," he said suddenly, breaking their half-hour long silence. "We'll go visit the neighbours, all right?" "Okay." she replied automatically. The rest of the day usually involved work until dusk. Clearing the field in front of the house so he could plant crops later, weeding and fixing things. She had little to do after her chores were done so she sat on the doorstep and did nothing. Today he cut down some trees over where the rubble was, dug the stumps out and then cut the grass down with a scythe. By lunch he had a nice patch of green by the rubble and had marked corners out with stones from it. "What is going to go there?" Miranda asked as they made lunch from some of the bread they bought that morning. "Chickens." Barnaby replied. "Perhaps three or four of them. Probably a rooster too." After lunch they set off, not using the path back to Goldshire. They cut through the forest and Miranda saw a deer. Barnaby had his pistol (which he took everywhere) with him and seemed to know where he was limping. Miranda hoped they wouldn't get lost like this. After more than half an hour, they found a fence. Past some trees Miranda could see a house and a barn, with a field in between them. Their field was much bigger than the one Barnaby was clearing. A man was working on the field, where the grass was up to his shoulders. A horse could be seen next to him. "Looks like they're harvesting." Barnaby remarked, looking over the field. "The crops look shorter than I remember." "What are they?" Miranda asked. "It's wheat." Barnaby said, gesturing to the field. "This is how bread starts its life." A dog barked. Barnaby took a step back from the fence as it came out of the crops, running straight at them. Miranda cowered behind Barnaby, who ruffled her hair. "The fence is there for a reason, Miranda." he said. "Don't worry." It stopped at the fence, barking, growling and jumping around angrily. The man in the field noticed the commotion and looked over. Barnaby waved from the fence. Miranda stayed behind him. He soon came over with a boy about her age carrying a gun. "Afternoon, stranger!" Barnaby called out as they neared. The man nodded seriously but the look on his face changed when he saw Miranda. "Afternoon." he replied. "Bandit, sit!" The dog stopped barking and sat. "Name's Barnaby Grathier." her brother said, stepping back forward and offering his hand across the fence. "This here is my sister Miranda." He shook hands with the farmer. "Afternoon Barnaby," the farmer said. "Name's Conrad Patton and this is my son Isaac." "Hello, sir." the boy said politely. "We're now inhabiting that wreck of a house back yonder." Barnaby jerked a thumb back over his shoulder. "That makes us neighbours, so I figured we'd come introduce ourselves." Barnaby glanced back at his sister. "Come out and say hi, Miranda." "Hello." Miranda said quietly, stepping out from behind her brother. "Oh! Hello, miss." Cornad gave a friendly smile. His face was lined and tanned and had short, blonde hair. He was shorter than Barnaby (who was aver, but stood straight and proud. He looked back to her brother. "Sorry about this reception - nothing good has come from this direction before. If you're our new neighbour, then come in and let me introduce you to the family." "Lead the way." Barnaby replied. He climbed over the fence after struggling with his bad knee, causing Bandit to start barking again. Conrad told him to sit again as Miranda was helped over. She thought the fence looked daunting, but proved to be easy to cross. The adults walked ahead, talking about Barnaby's bad knee. Miranda walked with Isaac. "Hi, Miranda." he said, beaming a smile. She liked him already. "I'm Isaac." "Um, hi." she replied shyly. She felt beneath him. But then again, she felt beneath everybody. They walked a little in silence. "So." he tried to continue. "What do you like to do?" "Er... I like reading?" she replied. He laughed and she immediately regretted what she said. "Er, sorry. Anna likes reading." he said. "She's my sister, you'll meet her soon. She wants to be a mage someday. "I can't read." he went on. "I like running around with dad's old sword and stuff instead." "Oh, well that sounds like fun maybe." she tried. "Well I'm going to be a great warrior someday!" he said excitedly. "Fighting orcs and demons and stuff." "I think Barnaby was in the army." Miranda said. "That's how he hurt his leg." "Really? Cool!" he ran up to the adults ahead, leaving Miranda to feel abandoned and trailing miserably. "Hey mister, were you in the army?" he asked, interrupting them. Conrad smacked him on the back of the head. "Don't interrupt like that, boy." "Sorry, pa." he said. Barnaby laughed, though Miranda felt bad for him. "Marines, actually." her brother replied. "Saw the world on the King's silver! I'll tell you about it sometime if you're keen to listen." "Thanks, sir." Isaac fell back to Miranda. They were almost near the house now. "Are you all right?" she asked him. "Yeah." Isaac rubbed the back of his head. "It's all right, it didn't hurt none." A woman and a girl about their age were at the door. "Look, honey." Conrad said. "Looks like we have new neighbours!" "Afternoon." the woman replied. "This is my wife Marianne and my daughter Anabelle." Conrad said proudly. "Mary, this is Barnaby and Miranda. Can you set our guests up with some drinks?" "Sure, just a sec." Mary disappeared inside. Annabelle smiled at Miranda and she smiled back. These people seemed nice, she thought.
  12. "I told you, we're going home." -- “All right, watch your step here.” “Are you hungry?” “Hey, a squirrel over there! Can you see it?” She trailed along wordlessly. She still thought this was some joke. Any minute now Matron would jump out and laugh at her. “Oh Miranda,” she’d say. “For a moment you actually thought you were going to leave!” “You’re not leaving because nobody wants you. Nobody likes you, haven’t you realised?” The other kids would laugh and laugh and all she could do is hide her face in her hands and cry and wait for it to pass. Every corner she prepared for it. Prepared to be embarrassed and laughed at and thrown back into her room. But after each corner was another corner. Then they entered Elwynn and the corners became trees. Miranda watched her brother walk. He had a cane now. Sometimes when he put too much weight on it, he would wince. It was a long walk, since they didn’t own a horse and she was too young for a gryphon. The forest was in autumn now, covered in reds, yellows and browns. Lots of people thought it looked pretty but she just felt more miserable. They walked to Goldshire and he bought her some moonberry juice. Then he found the two of them a patch of grass to sit on. “How’re you feeling?” he asked. She kept her eyes on the grass. “Miranda,” a little firmer. She looked up at him. “We’ve walked a long way. Are you tired?” Miranda shook her head and went back to mulling over her drink. He didn’t ask again. They sat in silence until he told her it was time to keep walking. They were still walking away from Stormwind. “Barnaby?” she asked. “Hm?” “Where are we going?” “I told you, we’re going home.” He insisted. She wondered if he was telling the truth this time. They walked along an old track with the grass had overgrown, down towards the river. She felt tired, but didn’t complain. If she complained, Barnaby would stop and they would be late because of her. After an hour or so, he pointed with his cane at the trees. “There! Can you see it?” She saw the outline of a house in the trees, slowly revealing itself as they came closer. It was made of wood like most others, but this one looked bigger. The roof was brand new and a chimney poked out of the top. In front of the house was a small overgrown field which separated it from the river. On the left was some old rubble of something and on the right near the water was an outhouse. There were weeds everywhere. It looked terrible. Barnaby limped over to the front door of the house. “I’ve taken a day to make it habitable already.” He told her as he fumbled with a large key. “New roof, new beds, fixed the outhouse and so on.” Inside was equally miserable. Miranda stepped into this dark, empty room. Just one room, like most houses, with two beds far to one side and a table and chairs near the fireplace. One corner of the floor looked rotten. There was nothing else. It was bare. “Home.” Barnaby said cheerfully, limping over to put the key on the table. Some of his things were already here, she saw. “First thing tomorrow, I’ll be getting to work on it.” Miranda sat down on the floor in the middle of the room. It was dark and empty and scary. But that was alright. She had waited a year for this. For her brother to take her home. And this was it. But she didn't deserve it. She was nobody, and didn't deserve anything. She started to cry.
  13. He didn't hear the call to fire due to the storm. The opening salvo of cannon fire fell far short of the enemy battleship, which they couldn’t even see anymore over the terrible conditions. The water was choppy, rain crashed down with a vengeance, the wind howled and roared and the sailors and marines had to keep a constant hold of something to avoid being thrown about (or overboard) like ragdolls. “Hey!” Corporal Grathier shouted over the storm at the man beside him. “At least the cannons aren’t making our ears bleed!” The remark failed to cut through the wind shear and fell on deaf ears. They had been standing ready for three hours now, soaked to the core as the Alliance battleship Trollbane’s Fury sailed daringly into a storm, trying to evade the Iron Horde vessel. After half an hour of a deck that gave even the sturdiest stomach a run for its money, the Captain must have decided it was time to turn about and strike. It was Grathier’s 26th birthday today, not that anybody on deck knew. Cruel and unusual fun happened to soldiers who divulged that information, all in the name of a laugh. He should know – he conducted it on others every chance he could. The salvo was answered by the unmistakable boom and rush of enemy cannon fire striking the nearby water. The portside battery launched another salvo into the rain as they continued their manoeuvre. The ship’s shaman – a robed male draenei – stood on the bow, wrangling the spirits as best he could to keep the storm in check. A gnome priestess staggered up and down the ranks, muttering something (probably a prayer) that was lost to the storm. There were two mages about somewhere too, two batteries of six 24lb naval guns each below deck, scores of sailors and crew working the rigging, as well as Grathier and 39 other marines standing ready, soaking up the rain. A silhouette appeared in the distance, heralded by a deafening thunder strike nearby. A few soldiers pointed, but there was still too much noise to exchange anything but shouts. This was always the worst part about a ship-to-ship engagement, Grathier reflected. At the mercy of cannon fire and lady luck until the ships came in close. If the ships came in close. Alliance ships couldn’t stand up to a close-range engagement or a ramming attack by their Iron Horde counterparts, and the Iron Horde couldn’t stand up to a boarding action or a game of manoeuvring by the Alliance. More often than not, both sides kept their distance. The enemy battleship powered up into a headwind, sails down, running on an internal steam engine instead. They were attempting a collision course. They fired their main battery – a massive howitzer on the forecastle with enough power and recoil to check its own momentum. Trollbane’s Fury moved right to left at its 12 o’clock through the crosswind, making a raking attempt before they closed in. The colossal shell sailed high while their own portside 24 pounders fared little better. Most glanced harmlessly off the ship’s solid iron ram, though at least one went high and tore through the deck. Trollbane’s Fury swung with the tailwind after clearing any ramming attempt while the enemy ship made their own port turn. Both ships were turning in. They were going in close. Twenty rifles – including Corporal Grathier’s – were brought to the shoulder. Both sides were hampered by wild rocking, near-blinding rain and a violent crosswind over a hundred yards. Which meant that nobody was going to achieve anything but a damn lucky shot. He felt a tap on his shoulder. Sgt Callahan, the man in charge of the riflemen shouted into his ear and the ear of the man next to him. “DON’T AIM!” he boomed, yet barely audible. “VOLLEY FIRE! GO FOR THE GUNS!” He continued down the line to pass the message on to the others. The ships were moving in opposite directions, about to make a pass. This would be brief, unless somebody attempted to board. About a hundred yards away, the firing started with a few cracks on either side. After the first snap of a passing bullet jolted everybody into action, both decks erupted in a dull chorus over the rain. “Challenge accepted, sarge!” he said to nobody. The weight of fire spurred some to cover but most returned fire. Grathier looked for the first orc on the opposite deck to give a hand signal, finding one next to the (still safely directed forward) main battery. To hell with volley fire, he reckoned he could hit somebody important. He aimed three points left, fired, missed, threw away any notion of aiming off (at seventy yards and closing, the wind was doing less and less on trajectory, fired again and struck a neighbouring orc in the leg. The cannons fired again. The world shook terribly as each ship broadsided the other at less than fifty yards. Grathier could feel rather than hear the solid shot tearing up the deck below him. A round ricocheted harmlessly off the private to his left, leaving a score on his helmet. He fired again and missed again, having mistimed the rocking. The other twenty marines armed with swords and their Iron Horde counterparts could do nothing but hunker behind their shields, waiting for a boarding action of any kind. The pass lasted perhaps ten seconds. As they drew apart, the Iron Horde’s aft cannons fired and a barrage of canister sweeped the deck. Then it happened. Grathier felt himself go down under a shower of splinters and shot, along with both soldiers on either side of him. His leg was on fire. One of the others screamed; the other was still. The pain overwhelmed everything. He couldn’t think. But before he blacked out, he did get a quick glimpse of his leg. (( Cross posted from RH Sanctum ))