Fiction Friday: Strike The Bell

Welcome to the latest Fiction Friday, the CTG blog feature where we contribute a new piece of lore to the universe of one of our games. This month, with us all working hard on the Cloudspire: Ankar’s Plunder Kickstarter, we’ve decided to publish a portion of the current draft of the Cloudspire Vol. 2 lorebook, which features stories for the Horizon’s Wrath and Uprising solo and co-op scenarios (along with a few other secrets that we won’t reveal just yet!). The text below is subject to change as the game and book reach their finalized stages, but we thought you’d still be interested in a sneak peek. Enjoy!

Chapter 1: Strike The Bell

Captain Ronjament Tinbeard scowled down at the battlefield below. The first battle in what the Wrath Council was referring to as “The Great Pillaging” was not going well.

Plumes of smoke rose from the landscape. The sails of The Horizon’s Wrath were not raised, as a large complement of her fighting force was engaged in an attack on an heir Source storehouse below. However, the airship’s massive Source engines were still keeping it afloat, as they had for the last 39 years. When not actively engaged in combat himself, Tinbeard preferred to observe the raids from topside rather than the lower observation decks; he liked the feeling of the wind tousling his hair.

He was prepared to journey down to the battlefield himself if need be, but he’d sent Mistbane in first so he could observe the Wrath’s combat readiness from above. Thus far, it was a worrisome view.

It had been a good year since the last restocking raid, and it was clear that the swabbies were rusty. The lower ranking enlisted men and women had primarily honed their abilities through on-ship training rather than real experience as of late, and, against Tinbeard’s urgings, the ship hadn’t engaged in a large-scale ground assault in a generation. Many of the Wrath’s most seasoned fighters had aged out of service or died, victims of elementian poisoning. Fewer still were like Tinbeard, who had been of age during The Vaporous Raids and remembered a happy childhood on the island of Xam.

I’d give up me childhood if it meant I could whip these swabbies into shape, he thought.

Tinbeard gave little regard to his childhood. Like most Horizon’s Wrath citizens who remembered when they called themselves “almlew,” he rejected what he saw as the naivete of the past. Life was injustice; doing anything other than fighting back against the tide of oppression would only get you drowned.

Science Officer Fogbone walked delicately toward Tinbeard, or at least that was how it seemed to the captain. Tinbeard had little respect for officers who would never get a taste of battle. Even the admiral herself was a master in the art of the double cutlass, despite being scarcely called upon for a demonstration.

Report,” Tinbeard growled.

Fogbone cleared his throat. His voice had been described as “melodious” by some onboard the ship, though Tinbeard found him too nasally.

Yes sir,” Fogbone said. “I believe the operation is still salvageable, but as you’ve no doubt surmised, our opening moves did not go smoothly. The crews of our new spireships were still uncertain at the wheel, and many of them were grounded when the ships landed. They can still fire, but we may not be able to recover the vessels when we depart.”

Tinbeard grumbled, while secretly fighting a smug smirk. It had been Fogbone’s idea to deploy the nimbler, newer spireships to the first offensive, while Tinbeard had favored a cannons blazing, all-gunboats approach. If he could spin the ship crashes as a consequence of Fogbone’s strategy, he would likely have more complete control over the next stage of the offensive.

Casualties have been moderate,” Fogbone continued. “More than our minimum and less than our maximum projections. On the other hand, it still appears that your gambit of distraction has a good chance of success. Most of the invading force has feinted toward Testament, while a smaller group is making its way toward the storehouse built over the nearby Source well. The heir forces have thus far been distracted by the frontal assault.”

Filthy birdpeople,” Tinbeard spat.

Our measurements of the amount of stored Source there have thus far matched our predictions, more or less,” Fogbone said. “A successful raid by our forces today would go a long way toward fulfilling our needs for the 20-Year Plan.”

Tinbeard couldn’t deny that the 20-Year Plan was a good idea. After all, he’d had a large role in its formation, most notably deciding when and where to strike in order to accomplish it. However, he feared where it might lead.

Yes, the joined islands were in disarray and ripe for attack, stuck as they were between the existing conflict of The Joining War as a whole and the newer threat of the much more organized griege. And yes, it was smart to stock up enough Source supplies to power The Horizon’s Wrath for decades in just a few targeted raids.

On the other hand, he thought, we’re seeing right now the consequences of forgoing regular raiding. Swabbies cut down in their prime! If this happens too often, we’re facing a threat to our future. It’s not like we have geographic Source stores to rely on.

Beyond the logistical concerns, however, were the philosophical ones. Tinbeard wanted to raid because that’s what the Horizon’s Wrath – the ship as well as its eponymous people – was supposed to do. The almlew planned ahead and hoped for the best and tried to avoid conflict, and look where that left them: the unequivocal losers of The Vaporous Raids. The Horizon’s Wrath were supposed to be different.

Besides that, Tinbeard was of the mind that it would hardly be fair to the other islands to simply sit idly by and let them remain unmolested for the better part of four decades. Not after what they did – or sat by and let happen – during the Raids.