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Chapter 1 – The Beginning Edit
The Stygian galley ploughed its way through the rough and stormy night seas west of Argos. The slaves toiled below deck to the beat of the Stygian drummer as their muscles strained and whips lashed at their backs. A yell from above was sounded as rain continued to pelt against the deck; the boats scout had sounded a warning as a large Aquilonian military vessel surged towards the slave powered galley. Hearing the cry, whispers spread out among the slaves as those who knew the Stygian language spread the word. Chained to their seats the slaves quickly agreed and pushed their oars backwards slowing the medium sized boat to a crawl. Screaming the Stygian slavers whipped mercilessly at the backs of the slaves as another cry was heard from above. Now at desperation the slave master ran between the slaves kicking and punching them at random. Thick beads of sweat dripped across he brow as he glanced back out towards the ocean only to see the Aquilonian War vessel right on their stern. The slave master turned and again started screaming obscenities at the slaves, his eyes wide with fear. Grabbing the hilt of his sword he drew a long curved blade. Grasping the closest slave by the arm, an old Aquilonian man. Screaming, the slaver held his sword aloft. Trying to pull his arm away but unable due to his iron shackles the old man close his eyes and prayed to Mitra for his blessing.
Shrieking the slaver slung his sword down at the mans arm, the man yelling for mercy, then a thunderous blow as a cannon blast shot through the Stygian galley, wood cracking and sending splinters flying. Thrown backwards, sword still in hand, the slave master clambered to his feet, cursing in the Stygian language as he grabbed the elderly slave by the jaw. A roar sounded as a large slave dove at the Stygian slaver driving him into the ground. His muscles glistening with sweat and blood as he pummeled the slaver into the deck. A broken chain hung from his shackled wrist as it bled from numerous large splinters. Grabbing the slavers sword from its masters crumpled body the large warrior turned and flung it into the closest slaver, piercing the Stygian’s chest and killing him instantly. Grabbing a large iron key from the deceased guard, the slaves’ newfound hero fought his way past several guards to the rusted main lock holding the slaves to their benches. Brawling with bloody knuckles a slaver cracked his whip at the warrior who caught the studded leather rope and forcefully dragged its owner of his feet right into the warriors opposing fist, shattering his jaw. As the large metal lock was opened the clicking of chains sounded as the joyous slaves dragged themselves free of their seats and hurled themselves on the few fleeing Stygian slavers still on board.
Cheering and hoisting their hero aloft they carried him up to the main deck but their celebration was short lived. Another deafening blast was heard as the Aquilonian warship continued to fire upon the Stygian galley. A crucial blow had been dealt to the ship as large amounts of water now poured into the boat. Fleeing for their lives the slaves dived over board, as the hero tried to signal to the Aquilonian boat to cease-fire. Realising his efforts was meaningless he grabbed a large piece of the broken ships bow preparing to jump overboard. As he approached the side his ankle was grasped and he slipped and hit the floor hard. Looking backwards at his assailant it was the bloodied slave master staring back at him with a wicked and toothless grin. Kicking out at the slavers head the hero fought his way free and lifting the large piece of boat wood above his head, he ended the life of the slaver. Another sickening blow was dealt to the ship as a large iron cannon ball tore through the deck only a meter away from the large warrior. Getting thrown back by the force of the blast his head cracked into ships mast, blood trickled down the back of his neck mixing with his sweat. Grasping at the ships deck the warrior dragged himself towards the ships edge, slipping, his eyes squinted shut from the heavy rain lashing at his face he pulled himself free of the ship and landed with a splash in the cold waters below.
Chapter 2 - Briana Edit
The warrior awoke in a daze, waves lapping at his ankles and sand on his face. He gingerly rolled over and sat up, grimacing as the early morning sun shone brightly in his eyes. “Where the hell am I?” he thought to himself as he turned seeing a vast jungle and already feeling the increasing heat of the day. Slowly pulling himself up the hero took stock of his surroundings. A large bay was at his feet as the sun glistened of the pristine water. Further out he could see the remains of ship wreckages probably some of the Stygian slave galley he was on. His head was still pounding as he felt the back of his head and his fingers found a large gash running down towards his neck. Dressed only in his slave’s loincloth the warrior started walking along the beach, hopefully he’d find some other survivors he thought. The sand was coarse and shells broke under his callous feet as he crunched his way along the beach seeing many strange fish in the blue waters and even a few crocodiles or possibly alligators. Finding a large piece of a broken oar, he carried the piece of wood over his shoulder like a club.
The sun rose in the sky and soon it was past midday and no sign of any other survivors, angered at his fruitless search the warrior decided to take a break from the blistering sun as he wandered up the beach into the shade of the jungle trees. Just as he did so he heard the crack of a whip and the sound of hoofs plodding along the beach. The warrior dashed into the jungle and peered behind a large fallen tree log as saw several Stygian riders gallop into sight racing alone the beach. As the men came closer to the warrior he noticed they were carrying an array of scimitars and strange curved spears, then to his shock he noticed they all had the symbol of the slavers across their blackened leather armour. The riders then stopped as the warrior realised they had been tracking his footsteps in the sand and had noticed the footsteps leading off into the jungle. Frustrated by his carelessness the warrior quickly grabbed the damp mud from below the fallen tree he smeared it over his body covering himself. Then rolling across the ground attaching leaves and sticks to the mud he dragged himself against the large fallen tree.
He heard the sound of the riders unmounting from their horses as they moved into the jungle hacking and swinging their scimitars at the undergrowth of the jungle. Staying perfectly still the warrior soon noticed on slaver pass mere meters away from his hiding place as the slavers boots squelched in the mud and his sword hacked and got caught in some vines. They there was a sudden yell from one of the slavers and they all started to quickly move towards the fallen tree where the hero was lying. His heart quicken as he tried to remain motionless. The slavers continued to approach his hiding place one was only a few meters away, the warrior’s hands clenching ready to fight or to run. One leapt at the log, it was too late he was unarmed and would not of been able to pull himself up out of the damp mud beneath the log quickly enough. The sound of wood straining was heard as with a crunch the slaver had landed on the log pushing in down onto the warrior but then the slaver continued and leapt of the log. Now confused the warrior peered to where the slaver was running he saw a young woman, with long brown hair fleeing. The chasing slaver held his scimitar in an attack position readying the blow he would soon deal to the woman. The warriors rage was back as was his courage and he put his back to the ground and grasped the bottom of the log. As the second slaver went to jump he pushed with all his might and lifted the log upwards, smashing into the knees of the slaver sending him headfirst into the mud and undergrowth of the jungle floor. Leaping forward with incredible speed and agility the warrior was upon the slave; pulling a dagger from the slavers belt he stabbed it into the slavers neck. Pulling the slaver over he ripped the slaver’s scimitar free of its sheath and spinning thrust it into the gut of an approaching slaver who had a spear held aloft to strike at the warriors unguarded back. Holding the scimitar in his left hand, the warrior grasped the slavers spear and raced through the undergrowth. Rage and adrenaline surged through the hero’s body as he quickly closed in on the first slaver who had just captured the girl grasping her wrist. The girl turning forcefully kicked the slaver and caught him right in the stomach making him cough loudly and bend over, badly winded. Freeing herself of his grip she started to run again making it to the beach. Looking backwards at the slaver, now enraged at being assaulted, she didn’t see a large vine as it caught her ankle sending her tumbling to the ground. Hurt, she staggered to her feet, falling back to the ground as she tried to place pressure on he injured foot. She had made it out of the jungle and crawled through the sand but she soon felt a hard stomp to her back, pushing her into the sand. The angry slaver stood above her with his large muddy boot on his back. He knelt down next to her head, grasping her long brown hair in his hand and then pushing her head back down into the coarse sand. Holding her head down he then pulled her back up, she coughed and spat out the sandy dirt at the slaver missing and landing on his boot. Slowly whispering something to her in Stygian the slaver drew a dagger from his belt but as he went to end the young woman’s life his body jerked forward, his eyes widened as he looked down to see the spear tip of one of his fellow slavers, piercing through his chest. The slavers head twitched then collapsed to the ground on top of the young woman.
The woman pushing the dead Stygian aside looked up and at the edge of the clearing stood the warrior, muscled still tensed and glistening with sweat, his long brown hair slightly waving in the breeze as his mighty chest heaved up and down. The sun penetrating the thick jungle trees seemed to halo the warrior as the woman for a second thought maybe this was some god or spirit of the jungle. This thought however stopped as the warrior grinned and loudly yelled “Hey! Just thought you needed some help, are you alright?” The young woman couldn’t help herself from laughing as she replied, “Yes, I’m fine thanks to you.” The warrior slowly staggered over to the woman realizing he hadn’t had any real rest or food for many days now but as he stepped forward into the sand the woman looked up and yelled a warning but it was too late. A huge dark skinned Stygian man thundered out of the jungle and sent a crushing blow to the back of the warrior knocking him unconscious.
Chapter 3 – The Arena Edit
The hustling busy street in the pirate city of Tortage soon woke up the warrior. Merchants haggling their goods, rowdy civilians and the rattle of the slave cart jolted the warrior to his senses. Attempting to rub his face he soon noticed his hands where again shackled above his head against the steel cage around the cart. The slave cart was a simple caravan drawn by 2 horses and guarded by several slavers but instead of a simple tarp there was a crude steel cage surrounding the cart. Looking around he soon noticed the brown haired woman from the beach sitting beside him. “Oh your finally awake…” she started “I uh… was afraid that the blow to your head might have killed you.” Remembering the events on the beach the warrior suddenly noticed that there was no pain where he had to struck to the back of his head. As if reading his mind the brown haired woman added “I healed you head wound… uh.. I learnt some techniques from my mother back in my village, about magical remedies and such” The young woman smiled and shyly turned away as if something had drawn her attention. Smiling the warrior spoke “Thank you, may I ask your name?” Looking back at the warrior the young woman spoke confidently “Its Briana and yours?” The warrior now looking away opened his lips to begin speaking then stopped “Uh well… you can just call me Tullius” said the warrior grinning. “Ok Tullius it is!” Briana spoke merrily. The cart shortly jolted to a stop outside a large tavern on the outskirts of Tortage. “Where are we?” Tullius enquired to Briana, “We’re in Tortage, a city of thieves and murderers” Briana responded with a frown. As the cart stopped one of the guards unbolted the cage and one at a time the slaves were led out of the cart and taken around the side of the tavern through a back door. Tullius and Briana were the last two slaves to be taken out, Briana being taken by the one guard and Tullius with 4 guards with their weapons pressed to his back.
As Tullius was marched into the dark tavern he saw that they had been moved into a badly lit series of cells and at the end of the room a large iron bound door. Tullius then was forced roughly into a small cell with 3 other male slaves. The floor was made of slimy stone blocks with only some old damp hay in the corner for the 4 slaves to share. Tullius grasped the strong iron bars on the cells door and shook them violently. Looking out the cell door Tullius yelled out “Briana are you there? Are you ok?” Ever the optimist Briana yelled back “Yes, I’m in the cell next to yours and I’m getting to know some lovely ladies over here.” Laughing quietly Tullius turned around and introduced himself to his cellmates. After a short inquiry he found that the tavern was in fact just the front of a large gladiators arena where the slaves were sent up to fight against each other or fierce beasts and vicious monsters. A large and heavily scarred gladiator who had remained silent stood up; he was at least 7 feet tall and was rippled with muscles and had the darkish skin of a Cimmerian. Staring intently at Tullius, who stared right back at the large Cimmerian, he spoke “I have been here for nearly five years now… the men who run this place are dogs which I intend to kill, If you ever intend to cross me or betray your fellow gladiators in here you will regret it.” Smiling right in the face of the stern Cimmerian, Tullius started “My name is Tullius, I’ve spent the last 2 months as a slave, I led a rebellion on a stygian slave galley, I fought the same dirty slavers that hold us here with my bare fists and when I had the opportunity to run away I helped out a woman that needed protecting. As long as I am here I will help you and ever other slave in this place, now can I trust you?” Tullius grinned and the large Cimmerian broke into raucous laughter. In his deep voice he spoke “I am Cullen and tonight we will escape this pit of filth!”
Cullen explained the plan to Tullius that tonight there was going to be a great festival in Tortage, A celebration to the Red Hands leader Strom’s day of birth. That night bolstered by the significantly minor shipment of slaves, to the credit of the Aquilonian warship, there was going to be a great show for Strom’s enjoyment in a makeshift arena in the middle of the town. In the finale of the show all the slaves would be sent against a great monster and if their plan worked they would use their combined force to escape the city and the guards. Night approached slowly as the slaves were fed 2 meals of slop to get their energy up as the slavers hoped to get Strom’s attention and recognition. As the call was sent out to prepare the slaves to be moved to the arena makeshift weapons were passed out between the slaves, short knives, sharpened stakes, the slaves prepared for the battle for their lives.
Guards soon unlocked the doors and moved to transport the slaves. Tullius was shackled behind Cullen and in front of Briana to his delight. Whispering back to the brown haired woman, he told her to stay close to him and that he would protect her for as long as he could. They moved through the dark streets in single-file around 30 slaves and 10 guards. The streets were alight with laughter and music, people drinking and fighting, practically riotous behaviour for anywhere but the pirate city of Tortage. Soon they approached the arena and saw Strom sitting aloft on a platform with several slave maidens dancing around him. Calling out to the slavers “Took your time, bastards! Entertain me!” The slaves were pushed into small cages along the sides of the arena where when it was their turn their door to the arena would open and the slaves would be forced out to confront whatever was sent out against them. First several tigers and crocodiles were unleashed as a few slaves attempted to fight them off. The fight was short lived and the slaves lay slain on the arena floor. Laughing from his stand Strom cried out for more slave blood. Soon several more slaves fell to a different array of beasts and armed men. Then Tullius, Cullen and Briana’s door was opened and the guards’ spears forced them into the arena. The three stood together as they awaited their opponents.
Three huge men strode out to meet them, covered in heavy plate and chain armour and carrying large swords. Cullen grinned to the others “We’ve got lucky, we just need to take their weapons.” Tullius prepared himself, as Briana looked unsure at the two warriors. Tullius noticing this passed Briana the knife he was given back in the tavern jail, smiling he said he wouldn’t need it. The crowd now massing at the arena cheered and cried for the death of the three slaves. Soon the armoured men charged at the slaves one focusing on each of the slaves. Roaring Cullen charged back at his opponent catching the gladiator off guard and grasping the gladiator’s sword hand and stabbing at his unguarded throat with a metal spike he had concealed. Coughing up blood the gladiator fell to the ground dead. Shocked the crowd fell silent and the other two gladiators paused noticing the lightning strike from Cullen. Noticing an opportunity Tullius charged, barrelling into a gladiator knocking him to the ground. Pinning the gladiator down with his knees pressed into the gladiators’ chest, he wrestled the sword out of his hand and plunged it into the gladiator’s side. Briana was in trouble though, her opponent closing in on her. She looked back as she approached the arenas wall, which was covered in sharpened wooden spikes. Briana could see a wicked grin from behind the gladiator’s helm as he approached the woman. Deciding she had to fight the brown haired woman charged at the gladiator with her knife aimed at the gladiator’s chest. Laughing the gladiator casually swung his sword sending it clanging into Briana’s dagger knocking it out of her hand and her to the ground. The gladiator then plunged his sword down at Briana but she rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding the strike. As the gladiator’s sword plunged into the sandy soil, Briana kicked out strongly at the gladiator’s hand disarming him inturn. Disregarding his sword the gladiator jumped on top of Briana, grabbing her neck with both his hands he started strangling her as the crowd roared. Grabbing at her side she felt the blade of the dagger Tullius had given her. Grasping it by the handle she drove it in the side of the gladiators neck just as Cullen and Tullius has dashed over to help her driving their stolen gladiator swords into the remaining gladiators back.
The crowd had gone ecstatic as the three slaves rolled the last dead gladiator aside arose to see Strom still laughing uproariously. The slavers however were furious that they were being made a mockery by their own slaves. Forcing the remaining slaves into the arena with the guards entering to make sure they didn’t revolt, a loud horn blast sounded, as it was time for the finale. The rumbling of a carts wheels were heard as the gladiators doors were flung open and several dark robed figures walked out into the arena. Then a large sarcophagus was wheeled into the arena and placed on the arena floor. Then at once the robed figures started chanting in an ancient unknown language lifting their hands into the air. A circled of red appeared around the base of the sarcophagus as runes skittered along the circle. A darker red glow emanated from the coffin as the chanting increased in pace and the necromancers chanted louder and louder. Then they suddenly stopped and walked briskly out of the arena. The runes stopped and fell towards the sarcophagus and the intense red glow blinded onlookers. For the first time that night Strom was speechless as he looked on at the spectacle. The slaver guards now unsure of their own doing backed away from the sarcophagus as the light suddenly stopped and the runes came into place and matched the etched writing on the coffins lid. Then it happened. An ear-piercing shriek came forth from the coffin and everyone grasped his or her ears to block the horrific noise. Then with a crash a ghoulish craw punched its way through the sealed sarcophagus lid. The wooden cover shattering as the blotched purple claw ripped through the timber. The slaves, mostly frozen by fear, stood transfixed by the horrible undead abomination, which pulled itself free of its coffin and again shrieked out at its onlookers.
The creature was not human not beast, its body was ravaged and covered with ancient yellowed bandages, its face had no eyes or noise merely bleeding holes where they were supposed to be and its mouth was just a fleshy mass of pointed teeth and dark green liquid. It had long limbs and long vicious looking claws, standing at over eight feet it turned and leapt at the slaves. Latching onto one slave it raked at the slaves back and bite down into the slaves neck drinking his blood, which gushed out of the wound. Holding the dead slaves body in one hand, the monster flung the limp body across the arena with ease and it fell with an audible thump onto the arena floor. Now the slaves either screamed in terror or banded together to protect each other from the beast. Cullen, Tullius and several other strong slaves held their weapons tightly as the undead fiend slowly approached them. Then dashing to the side the monstrosity dashed around the edge of the arena herding the slaves together in the middle of the ring. Shrieking and cackling the beast feinted attacks and dodged back racing around the arena. Tullius could feel Briana trembling next to him, tears streaming down her face. Tullius again felt that rage arise within him as he grasped his sword firmly and pushed Briana behind him for her protection. Seeing this movement the fiend leapt at Tullius who was instantly aware of the monsters action. Swinging out with his sword he cleaved into the beasts shoulder sending a spray of dark green blood into the air. Knocked to one side the beast then lashed out its claw aimed at Tullius’ exposed side. Then a loud yell and a downward slash as Briana jumped forward and sliced through the fiends arm. Recoiling in agony the monster dove back and shrieked as it waved its bloody stump around in the air.
The abomination maddened by its assault they leapt up onto the stand of the arena and ripped at a slaver guard, tearing at his face and throat the guard fell back to the ground in a bloody mess. The monster then started reeking havoc in the stands and the necromancers ran back out onto the arena floor and attempted to regain control of the beast. Cullen roared as he rallied the remaining slaves as they charged past the necromancers through the open arena doors. Tortage now in complete chaos as people fled screaming and Strom and the Red Hand ran to the refuge of their stronghold. The slaves cheered as they ran through the streets to the gate of Tortage and left the city. At the gate Cullen stopped however farewelling his fellow ex-captives. “Aren’t you leaving with us?” Briana asked “No,” Cullen replied “I’m going to stay here and make sure every slaver finds his demise, don’t ask me to leave, enjoy your freedom friends now hasten before they come looking for you.” Yelling farewell to Cullen, Tullius and Briana ran out of the pirate city of Tortage and into the night.
Chapter 4 – The Jungle Edit
The brief period of celebration was short lived however as the ex-slaves realised they were still trapped on the pirate island of Tortage. Briana and Tullius walked along the beach looking for a way to leave the god-forsaken island.