Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tarnished

The Tarnished Coast follows the southern border of the Maguuma Jungle. Along this coast reside both capitals of the asura and sylvari within the dense forest, whilst the border meets the Sea of Sorrows. During Zhaitan’s awakening and the rising of Orr, the Coast suffered much as tidal waves pummelled against it.
  Yet what came after the tidal waves was much worse. Waves of undead began to relentlessly appear from the water to make their way to settlements renovated by the asura and attack sylvari and hylek areas as well. Undead corsair ships and coral-infested, soulless husks appeared from the darkened horizon and seabed. Since then the attacks have not stopped; an entire century of conflict that has engulfed the Tarnished Coast.
  Many have lost much, sylvari, asura, hylek alike. Even the rat-like skritt have suffered in the wake of the undead. Yet despite the never ending assault, these races defiantly defend their beloved lands and Jungle, and will continue to do so – even in the face of Zhaitan’s champions.

It was the heart of the night as three figures huddled quietly within the thinning edges of the Maguuma Jungle. The bright moonlight sparkled sadly high above and cast an eerie light over everything. Long shadows from a few lone palm trees stretched over the sandy beach before the three figures. Noises of the jungle at night hissed and squawked loudly around them like a constant buzz, but their attention was too focused on the pale stretch of coastline before them.
  It had been nearly three weeks since Alastair’s horrifying nightmare and they had made it a long way south west since then. The morning after his vivid memory he ferociously attacked his personal endeavours with Agrestal by his side. Within two days it was clear that they would not have the support of the Captain’s Council, and so Alastair took matters into his own hands and began to recruit for what he had planned.
  By the fifth day he had only gained one extra enthusiastic member who had been foolish enough to find his endeavours interesting. He was a young and relatively na├»ve charr, adept in the ways of an engineer who had originated from the Iron Legion. Upon meeting each other, the furry young mechanist introduced himself to Alastair and Agrestal as Tyron Flamefist. His lightly charcoaled fur covered a muscularly lean frame with two sets of small double horns protruding from his jaw bone and temples.
  In the dead of the night he looked like one of the large cats from the Jungle, however his clothing and large backpacks of tools and weapons would have given that away in an instant. Tyron had smelt the stench of the undead barely minutes before, somewhere out towards the water. All three of them keenly searched over the flat sandbanks towards the softly crashing waves where the Sea of Sorrows met the beach. Agrestal remained relatively poised despite her growing anxiety whilst Alastair and Tyron were peaking.
  Even after two weeks along the trail they had barely come into contact with undead, let alone skritt or krait. But as they crouched in silence, staring beyond the thick fern they hid behind and along the silvery strand of coast, they knew they were in for a fight. Tyron’s nose was unbelievably accurate with scents and Alastair himself could have sworn he could smell the acrid, salty stench of Orrian undead.
  Tyron sniffed sharply and louder than he had before and suddenly moved back instinctively, his eyes fixated straight before him towards a sandbank that rose high enough so that they could not see the water beyond. The others could not see as well as Tyron in the night, but his reaction and the soft growling that sounded from deep within his throat meant only one thing: their enemy was nearby.
  The three of them shifted as quietly as they could to prepare for the incoming battle. Alastair carried the staff he had kept by his bed the night of his nightmare and wrapped his fingers tightly around its shaft, Agrestal unsheathed her sceptre and focus and brought them around to her front, and Tyron began to load the necessary ammunition into his favourite rifle. The whole while they kept their eyes focused on the sandbank and by the time Tyron had completely readied his weapon, the beginnings of their enemy had begun to appear.
  The first thing the three of them noticed was the sudden silence as the Jungle itself went quiet. The squawking and buzzing of critters died away and was replaced instead by the mindless groaning and grunting that quietly carried across the open beachfront from the dark shapes that mounted the sandbank and continued towards the Jungle. The second thing that was noticeable was that clouds seemed to appear in the sky and shroud the moon so that its silvery light disappeared. Within a few short moments the entire atmosphere had changed and the few initial undead that had been visible began to grow in numbers as more appeared atop the sandbank.
  By the time the first of the mindless beings were fifty feet away from Alastair, Agrestal and Tyron’s position their numbers had swelled to a small horde. Alastair quickly counted as best as he could and quietly whispered his estimate to the other two, “At least thirty.” Their bodies were dark and shaped grotesquely as though a thinly fleshed skeleton hobbled awkwardly forward. Some of them had bits of coral and sea life attached, while some still managed to have strips of their original clothing or armour garbed over them. They carried crusted weapons of swords and daggers and moaned into the night. It sent chills down the three onlooker’s spines.
  The horde was twenty feet away when Alastair shifted in his spot, looking between Agrestal and Tyron with a sudden fear in his eyes. He had never anticipated his first skirmish would be against thirty or more undead. Opening his mouth he paused as though he was going to say something before slamming it shut and closing his eyes tightly. He took a deep breath, opened his eyes and opened his mouth a second time, but this time the fear in his eyes had been replaced by a fiery determination that Agrestal had never seen before.
  “We fight until we need to retreat. I will not let them turn us into one of Zhaitan’s minions – even if that means forsaking a warrior’s honour.”
  He flashed a mischievous grin as he always did when he knew he was right – or crazy.
  “Right, let’s make them taste fire and brimstone!”
  Standing to his feet, Alastair pulled his staff up and above his head as the air around him seemed to hum with churning energy. Looking skyward, Agrestal watched as three large fiery boulders plummeted from the sky, appearing from nowhere. Each crashed into the beach with a loud explosion that rippled through the night leaving craters where they had landed on top of advancing undead.
  Tyron dropped to his four paws and jumped forward beyond their forested hiding place, his tail flicking wildly behind him as he did so. Rearing onto his haunches he pulled his rifle around to his front and fired the first of his shots at the closest coral-infested monster. It stumbled before falling, a cloud of sand spraying skyward as he did so. Victoriously he roared into the night as he fired off another shot, his sharp teeth glinting orange as a fireball soared through the sky overhead.
  Agrestal moved to stand beside Tyron as Alastair unleashed magical hell upon the coming undead. She summoned the necessary power she needed and with a sweeping movement of her plant-covered hands created a wall of flames that sprouted effortlessly from the sand just in front of Tyron. Moments later, after Tyron sent a shower of flaming bullets towards the advancing enemy, she pulled energy from the air around her and released a great wall of wind that howled towards the undead. The gale screamed into the night before smashing into the front lines of the enemy, knocking them over and causing many behind to stumble. Seconds later she watched as ice crystallised across the sand where many had fallen.
  “Good!” Alastair called, sweeping his staff downward as the ice he had summoned solidified in the beach. “Summon your phoenix! We can do this!”

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