Tuesdays and here at Brazen Wolfe Tabletop we look at NPCs to use in adventures, or what I have found myself doing, character inspiration for a PC. Now that NPC day is here let me introduce you to another NPC or two for us interact with in the city next to the waves, Arciryas.
The warriors dance
13TuAV / 13TuGF
Astrid Volcanius vaulted across the balcony tucking her shoulders and head forward as she turned her jump into a roll landing behind one of the pirates that had boarded her ship, The Gallant Swallow. Flicking her wrist out the barbed whip lashed out, wrapping the weighted end around the wrist of one the assailants as they prepared to strike one of her passengers who refused to pay the price demanded.
“Get to the galley, you will be safe there” She called as she ripped the cord back causing the wrist of the man to snap painfully into his face. Darting forward in the same motion she gripped the mans other hand, hauling with her momentum and weight, although not heavy she was of stocky build, she hurled the pirate against the railing of her ship causing him to wobble, disorientated as his boots slid on the water logged boards. Whipping out her weighted whip she snapped the man between the eyes causing his head to snap back from the force of the blow which saw him tumble over the edge of the rail and into the foamy sea below.
“One down” Astrid murmured as she wound the corded leather around her hand again and darted forward, picking up a discarded scimitar as she didn’t dare unsheathe the blade she wore at her hip. Darting across the deck she interrupted two pirates who were coming from her quarters, bags stuffed to the brim with her personal affects and the goods she held in safekeeping for her passengers.
“Looks like I need a new chest, can I help you with that boys?” she asked coyly as she leant in the doorframe.
A look of dumb confusion passed their eyes for a moment before the pommel of the borrowed blade smashed one of their nose, her offhand elbow catching the other in the neck causing the brigand to drop the booty to the floor and clutch as his windpipe as his breath was taken from his body. Grabbing one of the rings from her finger and speaking a command word as she threw it at the two of them the ring expanded and wrapped around both of them, growing, expanding and lengthening until a giant octopus tentacle wrapped around both of the men. “Anchor” she called out, the slimy word echoing out an arcane command to her trinket as more tentacles sprang from the original one and gripped onto the wall, floor and ceiling of the entrance to her quarters locking the two men in place as the squirmy slippery mass bound tighter around the looters.
“Neat trick, do you bring it out for all the boys?” a confidence voice spoke from behind her, turning Astrid looked upon the pale green skin of a half-orc, his tusks smaller than other half-orcs she had met. His piercing eyes, one blue the other brown, spoke of a calculating man who had seen his share of combat.
“Thanks, a girls got to have her secrets” Astrid said, sizing up the man in front of him. By the looks of his scarce armour the harpoon and blade at his hip and the way he leant against the mast of her ship he sure of his place in this world. “Now may I ask what you are doing on my ship?” she said as she began to unwind her whip around her wrist, as subtly as she could muster.
“Heard that there was a ship, unguarded mind you, transporting a range of goods across the sea with foreign dignitaries who are looking to sell their goods in Arciryas. I am here to see if the rumours are true” the half-orc said, plucking something from his between an exposed tusk with the edge of a small knife that she didn’t notice he had drawn. “I can see that for one, it appears the captain of this ship can handle herself, and when I poked around your cargo the goods look mostly harmless.”
A snarl came to Astrid’s face unbidden, “Return what you took brigand and get off my ship” She snapped at the half-orc.
“you have me mistaken..” The half-orc began before flicking his wrist, the blade moving forward with such speed and precision that Astrid could only flip backwards to avoid the blade hitting her, but the blade went wide and as she landed on her feet and looked to see where the blade went she saw the blade buried hilt deep into the palm of a woman, the blade somehow impaling the mans hand into the wood of her door frame, a knife coated in a black inky substance clattered to the floor as the man began to scream.
“It seems your writhing friends let that one go.” The half-orc said coolly, looking between Astrid and the man with the knife impaling his hand to the wall of the cabin. “Sea urchin venom, a nasty way to spend your last hours outside of the embrace of Umberlee”
“I only counted four pirates as they attacked this ship, one is overboard, one is in the slimy embrace of your ring and one is now the proud owner of my toothpick. That leaves one left..” a scream cut off the half-orc musings as a man stumbled up from the stairs to the galley below with a knife held to the throat of one of Astrid’s passengers, the merchants wife if she wasn’t mistaken.
“Let me through! I swear I’ll do it. I’ll bleed her like a marlin” the man shouted emphasising his point by pushing the blades slender tip against the neck against the wailing woman, a bead of blood forming and trickling down her neck.
“Easy now lad, no one needs to die here today” the half-orc stepped forward the palms of his hands facing outwards, he shuffled over so that Astrid couldn’t see the man any more.
“Can you distract him for a moment?” the voice of the half-orc rumbled into existence in her mind, “I can get to him but I need his knife away from her neck“. Smiling Astrid thought how full of tricks this man was before responding back verbally, being familiar with the message spell.
“Just watch me magic man“. As Astrid crept to the right, the mast and the half-orc blocking her progress from the man holding the knife the half-orc reached some arbitrary distance.
“That’s enough, stop there! I swear she will get it. Her blood will be on her hands!” the man said, Astrids keen eye noticing how he held himself, this pirate was in a different league compared to the others. “The price of her freedom has gone up. I need your weapons, all of them. And gold, a lot of gold!. Give me everything this ship has and throw your weapons down there” the pirate gestured down the steps to the galley.
“Sure thing,” The half-orc began as he drew his harpoon and tossed it down the stairs, slowly drawing his scimitar before dropping it to the ground and dropping it down the stairs too. “Now would be a good time” his voice echoed in Astrid’s mind.
“Where is the girl!” The pirate practically shrieked, his voice sounding much like a parrot.
“Right here!” Astrid called as she whipped her rope forward, the weight smashing into the pirates nose causing a splatter of blood to shoot over his face as the nose was pressed against his cheer. The knife dropped as he was startled.
With a snarl, the half-orc whipped his hand forward, a rope made from lightning reaching out to ensnare the pirate and rip him forward, knocking the woman over but away from the pirate as he was wrenched ten feet towards the hulking half-orc. As the man was wrenched forward it appeared as though he was about to stumble, snarling the half-orc exploded forward covering the distance between them in the blink of an eye, his meaty fist coming up to hammer into the mans ribcage.
The moment the fist was about to connect with the man his stumble turned into a roll and he dodged the attack, the hand holding the knife daring forward and scoring a deep wound on the half-orcs arm before whipping back to a defensive position along the forearm of the man who was now smirking.
“Right, the hard way then.” the pirate snarled as he jumped forward, his dagger lashing out at the exposed ribs of the half-orc who managed to bat them away with the back of his one gloved hand. Astrid watched as the offhand of the pirate produced a short sword and whipped out her whip again, the sudden motion causing the pirate to deviate his attack from the half-orcs now undefended side to prevent the weighed coil from wrapping around one of his limbs.
Dashing forward Astrid threw the scimitar from her right hand as she moved to draw the blade at her hip. “Hey magic-man” Astrid called as the blade sailed through the air, the half-orc catching it just in time to parry another thrust from the dirk. As Astrid drew the long sword at her hip she gritted her teeth, sending a silent prayer to any power that would listen to make sure that today wasn’t the day that the blade took its price.
As Astrid moved to engage the pirate a sudden kick and a trust from the short sword caught her off-guard, the blade being deflected by her own but the kick landing heavily on her knee, causing it to buckle and her to stumble backwards. Standing back up and starting to move through the motions her father had taught her to use with the blade the mans movements became more complex as he began to weave between attacking, defending and moving to try and position in such a way that the half-orcs attacks would interrupt the attacks of Astrid. A score of cuts could be seen on the green skin of the half-orc and Astrid was rewarded with a failed attack with a cut across her cheek under her right eye. As the fight wove on the two warriors, the half-orc and Astrid began to move in unison. Scoring a hit or two on the pirate before his defences could keep up.
“You two are good, enough for me to know how this fight ends” the pirate said, jumping and rolling out of an attack that would have removed his right arm. “But I fear I do not lose here today. The smiling lady has other plans for me” the man calmly said as he stood up next the mast, Astrid and the half-orc already rushing towards him. Faster than a viper the man blade cut one of the ropes next to he mast, the rush of air the only indication of the beam that was now falling towards Astrid and the half-orc.
Astrid realised to late as the secondary mast smashed into her stomach, carrying her towards the rail of the ship. The Half-orc was less lucky, his wounded arm taking the full brunt of the impact with a sickening crunch. As the mask smashed them into the railing the pirate flicked his wrist, one of his blades darting up to the helm and no sooner than he had done so the ship started to turn harshly to the port side, the momentum carrying both Astrid and the half-orc over the edge of the railing to dangle over the waves. Astrid using arms to wrap around the mast and try and get a grip the canvas to hold onto the mast as it limply moved above the water below. The half-orc, wrapped one arm around the mast, the scimitar he held dropping into the rolling waves beneat.
“Well, you two gave better than most I will admit. And as I promised no one needs to lose their life today. But I will be taking my men and all the treasure we can carry.” The man smiled in a sickly sweet manner. “You will do well to remember this day as the day you were spared by the dread pirate Gustave Firelock. “
And with that the man turned, returning his short sword in a hidden sheath before dashing off to make good on his promise.
By the time that Astrid and the half-orc made it back onto the deck of the boat the pirates were long gone and so was a lot of the valuable goods they were hoping to trade at port.
“Well that could have gone better” Astrid said, examining the arm of the muscular half-orc. “But if it wasn’t for you I dare say I would be in worse shape with urchin venom coursing in my veins so thank you I guess.” she said, brushing a strand of hair out of her eyes that had come loose from her plat, “This looks to be dislocated so could down from 3.” She said tapping her lower lip.
“3..” The half-orc began with a sigh that turned into a snarl as Astrid pushed his shoulder back into place.
“What is your name any way. I haven’t seen someone fight like you do in a very long time.” Astrid asked, suddenly aware how close to the shirtless half-orc she was.
“Rafnir, Rafnir Coral-tusk is what people call me, but Rafnir is fine” he said, shrugging his tunic back on.
“Astrid, Astrid Volcanius, Well met Rafnir” She said, extending a hand to the half-orc.
Well that’s it for today. The origin story of two friends meeting. It turned into a much longer writeup than I intended but when the current takes you sometimes you just got to see where your end up.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow where we look at what twists we can wriggle into this weeks adventure and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe