A currently incomplete first chapter
It doesn't really matter if you aren't familiar with Warhammer Fantasy. WHF is probably the most straightforward and basic fantasy setting there is; goblins, orcs, elves, dwarves, humans, etc. This incomplete first chapter I wrote is about the army I want to put together (Warhammer Fantasy being a table-top miniature wargame.) Anyways, it's short and has plenty of action. Constructive Criticism appreciated.
“You’ve got some explaining to do Mister Smith!” Captain William Longshank thundered as he stormed down the breadth of the ship towards the bow.
His long, dark rider’s coat swept out behind him, revealing his brace of prized, dwarf-crafted dueling pistols; as well as the majestic Dark Elf cutlass sheathed at his side. William’s black trousers were straight and well-kept; much like the rest of his clothes. On his feet was a pair of fine black boots with Elven silver for the buckles. His crimson dress shirt rippled as the strong winds of the sea tore at him as he continued his stride towards the first mate.
The captain’s hard, squinty eyes were alight with fury. His round face was dominated by a bold nose of average size. He had high cheekbones and thick, black eyebrows. A thin moustache graced his upper lip, and the ghost of a beard tugged at his chin. His small lips were set in a frown, and his eyebrows creased with anger. His hair was short and dark brown. One of his hands rested on the hilt of his saber as he stepped up onto the bow before his first mate.
Mister Smith, as that was the only name he was known by, was a middle-aged Reiklander in his forties. He was the captain’s senior by almost a decade. His greasy, striped shirt bulged as it struggled to contain the slight belly that had recently set on the first mate. He wore a cuffed, dusty rider’s jacket, and a black pair of trousers. A pistol was holstered across his chubby front, and a saber sheathed along his back. His ruddy face was almost completely covered by an unkempt beard of a dark-brown color. A pair of shining blue eyes shone from the mess of thick hair. The man’s hair was surprisingly short, and covered by a black bandana as well as a wide tricorne hat.
The first mate’s face was exaggerated with surprise and worry as he turned from the bow to face his captain’s wrath. He hastily saluted, “Aye, cap’in! What do ye need sir?” William walked past his captain and glared out at the lush jungle island before him.
“Your ‘informer’ led us on a false chase, Mister Smith!” The captain thundered, his deep voice overcoming the whipping wind that lashed out on the deck. William turned to Mister Smith, who was standing at attention; a stance that had been disciplined from his years in the Reikland Guard. “These are not the Dragon Isles!” William shouted over the wind, “These are the Hadmaut Islands of Araby!”
Mr. Smith winced. The Sartosan captain was famed for his short temper. “With all due respect sir, I think that the spices on this island are worth much more than any Elf sword. ‘Sides, don’t them Elves keep them relics in their main cities?”
William turned on his heels. His eyes were shut as he pinched the bridge of his nose. He held the position for a few seconds before his squinting eyes peeled open. The light of anger had been quelled; but not entirely. “At least your foolhardy blundering hasn’t cost us everything.” He lowered his hand and strode back across the breadth of the ship, calling over his shoulder, “Nevertheless Mister Smith, your stupidity has cost you one pound of your division of spoils.”
Mister Smith swore with such a violent oath a nearby Sylvanian looked up from his rope-mending, his one good eye widened in surprise. “Get back to work or I’ll string ye up with yer own ropes, me bucko!” Mister Smith snarled at the pirate as he stormed off below deck to his quarters. He hoped that the small coastal town had something heavier than spices.
* * *
The sleek Devil’s Fury cut through the calm, warm seas of the Arabyan waters as it neared the small island before it. The large, blocky buildings of the Arabyan culture were cluttered, and a constant throng of civilians walked along the narrow streets. William lowered the large spy glass he had been observing the town with and glanced over his shoulder at the fuming Mister Smith that stood beside him. “Get the landing boats ready. Take two-score men with you on the raid; the new ones. There should be about two detachments in that town; all swordsmen. I can see a jewelry shop as well; there should be some rich-pickings in that town. In fact, bring an extra two landing boats for the spoils. Don’t bother coming back until both are filled.” The captain turned fully to face his first mate, “Get a move on and gather our men, Mister Smith. I’ll give you more specific orders once you’re ready.” Mister Smith couldn’t keep the smile from his face as he barked an “Aye, cap’in!” and rush below-deck to gather his raiding force.
Within a few minutes forty Reiklanders, Sartosans, Tileans, and other manner of bloodlines lined the wide deck of the man o war. They were a motley mix of buccaneers wearing all manner of shabby clothing. Hats and bandanas; beards and clean-shaven; jerkins and shirts; trousers and breeches; bare feet and boots. Their assortment of weaponry was even more bizarre; pistols, sabers, warhammers, sword, and axes. The assembled men were some of the newer crewmen of the Devil’s Fury, but they were by no means inexperienced fresh bloods. Ranging from Tilea to Araby, these were fierce corsairs that had been plundering for years before they had joined up with the Devil’s Fury.
“Alright mates, as you all know we’re by the Al-Hadmaut islands because of map difficulties,” William glared at Mister Smith who was in front of the assembled raiders before continuing, “However, there seems to be a storage post in the town on the eastern shore. I’ll be sending you lot in to capture the goods and bring them back. You’ll be taking orders from First Mate Mister Smith. Make sure he comes back alive to see his taxation on his share of booty.” The captain gestured to the boarding boats which were hanging off the side of the Devil’s Fury. The long boats were held aloft by manned pulleys. “Well off you go lads. Good luck.”
With a roar, the crowd of buccaneers surged towards the boats. Each boat could fit about fifteen men or so; and the two empty ones were manned by a minimum-crew. William leaned against the railing and watched as the boats were lowered into the water; the bloodthirsty raiders set to the oars and began their short voyage to the Arabyan shores. It was going to be a great day.
* * *
“Alright lads, ‘ere we go!” Mister Smith called out to his comrades as they neared the shore. The town was a bit further inland than they had thought, and the town was on a hill. Luckily, they hadn’t seemed to have been spotted by the watch as villagers continued to go about their business. Usually, William would fire a broadside into the town to open up the attack, but this was a storage post. No point in wasting loot when the raiders could take care of the outpost. As the boats neared the shore, Mister Smith took out a spyglass to observe the town.
The town was fairly small; about sixteen buildings in all. In the center was a watch tower. There were about eighty civilian workers cataloguing and loading wagons, and a score of guards. There were a handful of archers patrolling the rooftops as well. The fight would be a close one if the civilians took up arms; if not the pirates would easily overrun the city. If it was going bad for the Devil’s Fury’s crew, then Smith would have to let fly the red flag in his jacket and the Devil’s Fury would let loose a broadside into the town.
The image of the town suddenly lurched as the boat hit the shore. Mister Smith stumbled slightly, but regained his composure. He leapt over the side and into the warm water which flooded into his boots. With the help of the rest of the crew, they dragged the boat onto the shore. It was fairly simple work; almost fifteen men per boat made the chore quicker. Without making a headcount, Mister Smith signaled for the men to follow him. There was a short cliff about the height of three that the town sat on. Mister Smith didn’t have to bother signaling his men; several had already drawn their boarding hooks. The strongest and best throwers had been selected to carry them, and they took a step forward from the crowd of silent pirates. Mister Smith could hear the loud bustling of the people above him, wondering why they hadn’t been spotted yet. Were the guards too occupied with merchant’s infighting to notice a man o war off the coast and three landing boats on the beach? It appeared so.
The throwers spun the boarding hooks expertly; a whir of brown and black at the ready. Two of the buildings were built right on the side of the cliff; the throwers would throw two hooks on each. With a whooshing noise, the small cascade of hooks soared into the air and came down hard. One of the hooks bounced off of the hard surface and tumbled back down the small cliff, but the other six or so buried into the soft rock with dull thuds. With loud clangs, others attached onto the buildings.
“Up ye go lads. Don’t start shootin’ ‘till we’re all up there. If ye’r spotted, then open up!” Mister Smith hissed to his fellows. The motley assortment of men sheathed their sabers or clutched daggers with their teeth as they clambered up the ropes. The first eight men went up; no sounds of alert or battle. The next wave clambered up with similar results. The pirate raid was running on pure luck at this point.
A shout. The crack of a pistol. There was yelling and more flintlock discharges. They had been spotted! Mister Smith quickly scrambled up the rope after his mates as the sounds of battle escalated. The clashing of swords and screams of war and fear began to rise. Mister Smith clambered onto the roof of the building and quickly took in the scene.
The town was in chaos. Throngs of workers wrestled by approaching soldiers to safety as the pirates set to the slaughter. There was already a thin carpet of dead bodies as sabers flashed and knives rose and fell. Three of the pirates were dead as well; two with arrows in their bodies, the last with a curved knife in his chest. The rooftop battle was a struggle; four dead pirates littered the flat roof that Smith was taking cover on; arrows protruding from their bodies. There were about six or eight archers spread across the roofs of the town. There were thin walkways between each building for the raiders’ convenience.
There was a series of flintlock discharges that roared across the rooftops. Two archers fell and the ten or so pirates on the roof surged forward. A handful of darts whizzed into the crowd, felling two more pirates. Mister Smith rose from his cover and took careful aim with his pistol at one of the offending archers across the way. He jerked the trigger and the hammer slammed down. The pistol cracked as it discharged.
The archer dropped his curvy bow and grasped his thigh as the musket ball found its target before collapsing to the ground of the rooftop. Mister Smith holstered the discharged pistol before drawing his other one. He quickly caught up with the other pirates across the rooftops. His fellow buccaneers were ducking under spare crates and other manner of equipment on the next building, reloading their pistols. Two buildings away from them were four archers who were letting loose repeated volleys of arrows at the raiders. Mister Smith fired wildly before ducking into cover beside a grim, clean shaven man.
The man didn’t look up as he finished reloading his pistol. He glanced at the others who had all finished reloading as well. The man shouted and the other corsairs stood, leveled their pistols, and fired. With a roar three of the archers crumpled to the ground with a series of cries. The fourth, with wide eyes, threw his bow down, turned tail and ran across the rooftops away from the pirates. With a victorious cry, the pirates surged forward.
Mister Smith glanced down at the street below him. Five Arabyan soldiers trotted by in the opposite directions. The First Mate halted and whistled loudly to his comrades. The pirates halted and looked over at him excitedly. “Jump down lads! Time ta’ take out the rest of ‘em!” Mister Smith shouted before leaping off of the relatively short roof. He grunted as he landed in a basket awkwardly.
The rest of the crew laughed rowdily at the spectacle as they lowered themselves down. Mister Smith, swearing violently, fought his way out of the tube-shaped basket. He glared down the street; the rest of the crew was caught in a swirling melee with about a score of Arabyan swordsmen. “Let’s get to it lads!” Mister Smith roared as he led the charge. Some of the swordsmen turned to face the new threat, but they were taken by surprise. Mister Smith brought his saber down in a flashing arc and slashed into the first Arabyan. Bright blood laced into the air as the man cried out and fell before he was kicked to the side as the pirates surged into the melee. Yells, screams, clashing metal, and the odd crack of a pistol overwhelmed the combatants as they struggled for victory. The Arabyans were surrounded and steadily being cut down. For every pirate that fell, at least one Arabyan died as well. Blood stained the hard sand of the streets and bodies littered the ground as the melee slowly plunged. Within a few minutes, the pirates were left standing in a carpet of bodies. Swords and knives dripped with brain and gory matter, and the scent of blood and sulfur was strong in the air. “We did it lads!” One of the men shouted. An uproarious cheer followed the victorious cry as swords and knives waved in the air.
Mister Smith whooped aloud and waved his cutlass into the air. Suddenly, there was a thunderous explosion, and the shriek of a projectile. All the pirates instinctively ducked as the cannonball flew over their heads and imploded somewhere in the jungle beyond the town. A scream of pain was heard from within, probably from a retreating villager. Surprised, Mister Smith looked up to see a billowing white cloud coming from the side of the Devil’s Fury.
“What the hell is he doing?!” A Tilean exclaimed as he picked himself up from the blood-stained sand. Some of the other corsairs murmured in support. Mister Smith silenced them with a wave of his sword.
“Somethin’s up. ‘E probably wants us to get back to the ship lickety-split with the loot.” Mister Smith announced with a worried tone. He turned back to the crew, a grin splitting his face. “Well come on lads, let’s get lootin’!”
With a cheer, the pirates set to work. Doors were kicked in and pirates came back out with crates of spice, jewels and other precious items. Priceless rugs, swords, metal, tools, and other equipment were piled in the center of the village. It took about an hour to get all the loot down to the beach; where the landing boats acted as an amphibious caravan back to the Devil’s Fury.
Mister Smith and five other men made a quick last search throughout the town as the rest of the crew sailed back to the ship. “We’ll check this building and then head back to the Devil’s Fury.”