"Can we all just agree that it's a stupid name, an' if we actually pass through it, mebbe we kin give it a better one?" Agethar suggested nervously.
A nearby viking rowing the longship snorted and remarked, "Aye, that's what some of our maps need. Something named by a bunch of greedy fortune hunters, several of them Imperials."
"Drop it," Eydis ordered, rolling her eyes.
Caiden noticed the way Huo seemed taken aback for a moment, and he subtly narrowed his eye, but said nothing.
"Something...has been following us? Tell me, what kinds of creatures lurk in these waters that would pose a threat to us? Back in my homeland, there are many, but I am not familiar with the monsters that inhabit the West."
Voros arched a brow slightly, but before he could reply, the waters answered for him.
The ship seemed perfectly peaceful - until, all at once, it wasn't. In the blink of an eye, ten shapes suddenly burst from the river around them, pulling themselves on board the ship with long, spindly, webbed hands. One climbed straight up an oar and pounced on the viking who had been rowing it, biting out his throat before the warrior even had time to see his killer.
Everyone who wasn't already standing leapt to their feet as the monsters scurried aboard, the ship swiftly overtaken with shouting and swearing. Caiden drew his sword and Eydis snatched up her spear as the other vikings hefted their own weapons, attempting to fend off the creatures. One man did not let go of his oar in time and was suddenly yanked straight into the river, disappearing in a murky red cloud.
In all their quick movement and in the thick fog of the morning, it was hard to discern many details of the creatures. They were about human-sized, but covered in scales, fins, and frills, wet and slick and colored in various dull, watery hues of blue, green, and grey. Their hands were large and webbed, bearing long claws, and their faces were hideous and inhuman, with a huge, gaping mouth full of pointed teeth. Their black, reflective eyes shone with bloodlust.
They were like nothing any of them had seen before, even the Venatori... but there were many monsters yet unknown and unnamed in all parts of the realm.
Although ten leapt aboard the ship, still more movement lurked in the waters around them. Eydis charged straight for one with her spear, nicking the creature on the side just before it scampered out of the way. They were still fast, but they were noticeable less graceful when out of the water... Which was precisely why four of the ten on the ship were busy throwing oars back into the water while their swimming companions carried them still farther from the ship.
"Stop them!" Eydis shouted over the din, as one of her vikings finished off the monster she had wounded. "We mustn't lose the oars!"
But the five other monsters on the longship clearly wanted to prevent this from happening, as they split up and began to attack various targets...
One lunged for Elnira from behind, but by some miraculous happenstance from the gods, she bent over to protectively pick up Mr. Whiskers at that exact instant ((Luck Roll - Critical Success)). The creature went sprawling over her as a result, missing her entirely. It was on its feet again in an instant, spluttering in frustration as it lifted a great, clawed hand to swipe at her...
Another rushed Valya, though it stopped just short of reaching her, as if seeing her size and second-guessing itself ((Talent - Intimidation)). It stopped and circled around her, hissing, as if trying only to keep her from reaching the other monsters that were trying to dump the oars. She could see fear in its eyes as it glanced this way and that, clearly in search of some backup that didn't seem to be coming.
A third monster charged Malvolio from behind, and although he heard it coming ((Perception Roll - Success)), he could not turn in time to face it ((Agility Roll - Failure)). He felt the creature deliver him a hard blow to the back, but his armor prevented any real damage. Still, it knocked the wind from his lungs and he staggered forward. When he whirled to battle the monster, he saw it pacing directly in his path to the four monsters dumping the oars. It kept its eyes on him, wary and ready for any counterattacks.
Perhaps because he and Huo had been standing in such close proximity, or perhaps because Caiden was the largest single threat on the ship, two monsters crawled out of the water near the edge where Caiden and Huo had been standing. Huo failed to notice them in time to escape receiving a bloody swipe on the arm, which tore his robes and left stinging pain in its wake ((Perception Roll - Failure; -3 HP)) and sending him stumbling back a step or two. However, he managed to maintain focus on his spell to see through the spirit realm ((Spirit Roll - Success)).
Caiden reacted with incredible speed, the moment the creature attacked Huo - he simply whirled and delivered a punch to its jaw with enough force to send the monster sprawling to the deck, stunned. But a second scrambled out of the water by his side, lashing out for his chest, but Caiden swiftly dodged and drew his sword.
((Rundown: There are unknown monsters attacking the ship. There are currently nine on board and an unknown number of them in the water.
- 4 are going after the oars
- 1 is attacking Elnira
- 1 is circling Valya
- 1 is attacking Malvolio
- 1 is attacking Caiden
- 1 is stunned on the deck
Drive the monsters off, if possible. Save as many oars as you can before the creatures dump them in the river.))