Of all the things he had seen since coming to Kriege on a scouting expedition, this was something he had never considered. Green beasts the size of the largest men who raided and plundered. Alongside that was the confirmation that not all of the Blightmen were actually feral. Some of them were merely people deformed by the mark of the Myst but not driven beyond hope of reason by it like their unfortunate fellows.
Which meant seeing a group of them being taken as slaves by a raiding party of the larger creatures sat ill with him. There were no more than two dozen of the creatures which convinced him they were, in fact, nothing but a raiding party but just being a raiding party didn't mean he was going to stand aside as they carted twenty or so Blightmen in a cage.
It was never a comfort to see that slavery survived, endured, throughout the human condition.
Unfortunately for him, he wasn't accompanied by a great number of allies. He had his squire, Leon, Son of House Ander, but that was it so far as back up went. Watching as the raiders settled into a camp from his position atop his horse on a nearby hill, Marcus knew he was going to need to do something.
His squire perked up.
Marcus frowned beneath his helmet.
"I think I'm going to have to do something rather foolish to save those people. Promise me if it looks like it's going to fail that you get yourself home."
He didn't wait for a response, instead dismounting from his horse and walking towards the camp the raiders had set up. If the Blightmen had proven themselves to not all be unthinking creatures then maybe these green ones could be reasoned with?
Aengus had gone back to Kriege to see what had become of his people. Hiding in the brush just a few feet from Marcus. He is not a member of the Knight's party. Yet. The prince came back on his own accord. He had run off to figure out some things about himself like what kind of man he will be. The noble figured that as long as his father kept him cooped up in the castle Aengus will never find that answer. So he left on a trip that took far longer than he planned. It was supposed to be a quick trip but then it took him farther away the longer he remained on the road.
Now with him back in Kriege and looking on Aengus coupd see what has become of the people.of Kriege. The rumors going around are true. They have become Blightmen. But the prince had to admit he has no idea what the green ones are. He has never seen such creatures before. Well either of them.
Unsheathing his sword Aengus couldn't bear to watch anymore. Even if they are no longer once the people he was to rule one day, they are still his people. There is still that sense of responsibility to look out for them. Taking a few preparation breaths as he readied himself to charge into the camp.
Then he saw some bloke stupidly walking towards the camp. What on earth is he thinking? Does he expect those green beings to welcome him with open arms? Groaning he quietly followed the Knight, remaining close or behind objects he can use to keep himself hidden. Well this man is in what would have been his province, so protecting this stupid man from the green things has become a task as well. That meant revealing himself to the knight.
So coming out of his cover Aengus walked over to the Knight. "Do youbreally expect those green beings to welcome you with open arms?" He will ask as he approached the other man.
Marcus raised an eyebrow behind his helmet as he glanced over his shoulder to the newcomer. It appeared that he wasn't too hostile, more concerned which was appreciated. He smiled behind his helmet a little bit before shaking his head.
"I appreciate you concern good sir but no, I don't imagine they will." he admitted, "But I have to give them a chance to try. Just as the Blightmen are not all feral, I cannot risk the possibility that these creatures are merely different to myself. I need to try to reason with them first."
He sighed deeply as he continued to walk.
"And if they will not listen to reason then I shall employ violence."
Strangely enough, violence was most of his job role and he was good at it but... if he could solve a situation without violence he would do so in a heartbeat.
Aengus saw the reason why the knight would want to give these new, strange beings a chance to settle this matter in a peaceful way through reason. The prince was not sure of these green beings are the type to listen to reasoning or to see how they are treating the Blightmen is morally wrong.
"I can see your reasons for taking the peace route first. Allow me to join you. These Blightmen used to be my people. If it is a possibility I would like to help free them from their bondage.. feral or not. It isn't acceptable with how they are being treated." Aengus spoke quietly as they neared the camp. He had no idea if these green beings are even able to speak their language.
The prince sheathed his sword but kept his left hand rested on the hilt so he can quickly unsheath it if the new beings turned hostile, "If I may ask. Who are you, sir?", Aengus asked wanting to know the name of the man he will be joining to deal with these green beasts.
The route to peace was not often traveled and when it was it was traveled by brave souls who thought there might, indeed, be something better ahead. He didn't know if these green creatures wouldn't simply attack but on his honour he had to try and show compassion or else he was not worthy to call himself a Knight.
"You have my sympathies for the fate of your people." he assured the man with a nod, "I have regrettably had to put down several of their feral counterparts for attacks upon my people but rest assured I hold no ill-will to those who have not participated in such attacks simply for their condition."
He would not lead a slaughter of a people simply for the actions of a minority after all. As they approached he smiled behind his helmet slightly.
"Marcus Voltaire of Perseus. Knight only, thankfully, as my elder brother has taken the place as head of the family and Lord."
And he was welcome to it.
As soon as the two humans came into view of the guards on the edge of the camp, the creatures hurried to collect their weapons and their other members. Marcus resisted the urge to grip his weapons defensively and instead merely waited as the largest of the creatures stepped forward, two of the largest beasts.
He pointed to the cages.
"We have come to negotiate you releasing those prisoners."
The largest of the orcs shook it's head - he assumed it was male but he really had no idea if he was being honest with himself.
Well at least there was a start... Marcus frowned slightly before shaking his head.
"No. Free." he declared before drawing his sword and stabbing it into the ground in front of him, "I fight for them. If I win; they are free. If I lose; I am yours."
It was simple and it was stupid but it was slightly less stupid than fighting the entire camp with only the two of them.
The actions of the orcs had drawn the attention of many, even if the people of Kriege weren't what they used to be, some of them were husks of their previous life, nothing but beasts without any humanity left, but the rest, they were still people, they deserved their freedom and they had people that would defend them, among those people, one of their own, Gareth.
The Blightman giant in Watcher armor heard the news of the orcs' activity and marched to stop them on his own, traveling through the ruined lands of Kriege without sleep or sustenance thanks to his new form, it didn't take long for him to reach the camp, not only that, but the knowledge of the land allowed him to get very close without being spotted, being surprisingly sneaky despite his size thanks to the various enchantments that his equipment had.
The giant was ready to charge into the camp on his own, not sure even he would survive that on his own, but he knew he could free many of the blightmen before falling and do as much damage as possible. However, before Gareth had the opportunity to attack, two men approached the camp on their own and started conversing with the creatures. Wondering what sort of plan they had, Gareth observed behind the woods, his ballista sized bolter ready to fire in the inevitable case that things went badly, even the bravest needed someone to watch their backs, after all.
Aengus was honestly pained by the news that the knight next to him had to as he put it put down some of the Blightmen that he guessed became more feral than human. As they previously were. He had yet to find out what happened to his immediate family, his father, mother and sister. He prayed to the Gods that they were killed by what he heard had an appearance of a falling star and have not become anything like the Blightmen. Sooner or later he will find out. Looking to the other man Aengus swallowed down the pain that he felt, "I appreciate your honesty. Those Blightmen who went feral.. deserved their fate. But those who still have a mind they should be left be to live their lives out as long as they can. However long that maybe."
The now former prince looked ahead to the camp, anxious about what might unfold. Not for the safety of himself though. But worried that if the green beings would slaughter the Blightmen they have captured instead of letting them go once the they learn the intentions of the two men.
The knight was kind enough to introduce himself. Now it is Aengus's turn to do the same, "Aengus Kriege. You can say I was formally the prince of Kriege. But it seems that was not to be my fate after all. I left to find myself against my father's wishes and this.." he gestured to the land and the camp, "Is what I came back to." The young man could feel that tinge of guilt in his voice as he spoke the last bit of what he said to the knight. Going silent as they now stood outside the camp.
The prince could not help but trying to see as much of the Orc camp from where the two men stood to make a mental map as best as he could. If things go from bad to worse getting as much of the camp into his memory may help. But it was hard to do when the Orcs stopped to take a look at the two men. So he had no choice but to look up at the Orc as it spoke. Not great but at least communication is possible. Hopefully the Orc will understand what Marcus is saying. If not then who knows how the green being before them will interpret what the Knight told him.
Aengus watched the scenery behind the Orc blocking the entrance to the camp as two more Orcs, male looking, approached to stand behind the one currently talking to Marcus. This started to not look good to Aengus but hopefully things will go smoothly as far as trying to talk to the one blocking the entrance.
Marcus took comfort in the fact that he was far from the only person to see the feral and non-feral Blightmen as different. Those who were feral knew not what they did and those that were aware of themselves were just as human as they had been before the cataclysm. Let it never be said that he would advocate for the genocide of a people merely because of examples of them at their worst, a worst brought on by powers beyond their control.
The fact that he was walking with a prince was interesting but Marcus had never been one to be wowed by status. He did, however, find it to be most agreeable that the prince of these people had not abandoned them even if he had, seemingly, avoided their fate. Many nobles or royals would have merely moved to another kingdom and whittled away their days using their residual reputation and coin.
It spoke to his character that he did not. Marcus nodded once.
"A pleasure, Your Grace." he nodded to the Prince, "Please do not hesitate to attempt to reach the prisoners while I engage in the distraction."
The Orcs looked at him and his blade for a few moments before they seemed to discuss something between themselves in their own language. In the end the largest of the creatures snorted and spat on the ground between itself and Marcus before grunting and picking up it's massive warhammer.
"You fight. You lose, you ours."
Going to draw his sword from the ground, Marcus cursed and was forced to jump to the side to avoid the swing of the warhammer as the Orc immediately attacked him before he could ready himself. Honestly it was to be expected considering they were engaging in a practice as dishonorable as slavery in the first place. He backed up, avoiding another swing but finding the raider chief between him and his main weapon. Of course he had his swordbreaker on him but that was... less than ideal considering it's short reach.
Aengus looked at the three Orcs as they spoke to each other. As much as he felt he should stay with the Knight to help him. The former prince also knew that one of them has better get to the Blightmen. Since they have captured the poor souls for something as diabolical as slavery it wouldn't be wrong to imagine the Orcs going as low as murdering the Blights instead of handing them over or releasing them if Marcus defeated the lead Orc that he challenged to a one on one combat.
Given that the two men are here for the same reason. Marcus would either tell Aengus to look for the captured Blightmen or agree with Aengus's decision to leave him to search for them.
As the three Orcs spoke to one another Aengus used their distraction to his advantage, mainly to get past the two who he guessed are the guards since the lead one should be aware or remember that there are two men standing before him. Easily slipping past the three brutes without either of them noticing the man sneaking past them. Minus one point for the lead Orc since he also failed to notice Aengus sneaking past the two guards.
As soon as he got past the three beings he will duck into a tent as a precaution in case one did look back. But as he peered out of the tent, well the three were still focused on Marcus. So Aengus will step out of the tent to do his best to sneak around the camp as he searches for the captives.
Dodging warhammer strikes was beginning to get more dangerous and less like a good idea. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed that his companion was no longer present, instead he was now almost entirely surrounded by cheering Orcs.
When the Orc he was actually fighting went to respond to some of the cheering he acted, slamming his shield directly up into the creature's chin, slamming it's mouth shut painfully. Rolling around the creature to avoid it's clumsy swipe at him, he pulled himself to his feet and sprinted.
The Orc ran right after him but it was too late - his hand gripped his sword and he pulled it from the ground, swinging it with that first pull with unerring accuracy to slice into the Orc's left leg, causing it to shriek and take a few steps back.
Marcus raised his shield and rested the flat of his blade against the top of it, the tip of his sword pointing at the Orc.
"Now we may begin in truth."
Aengus thought that sneaking past the Orcs was just a fluke. One that he hoped to repeat if or when he finds the Blightmen. These Orcs looked to be brutal fighters. The former prince will sneak around the camp for a bit as he looked for the Blightmen. But when he approached the part of the camp where the Blightmen were before Aengus saw that they were no longer there. He growled with frustration as he wondered where they would have been moved to.
Since he and Marcus approached the camp it appears that the green beings had moved their captives to a different part of the camp. Perhaps they were not going to be honorable if their leader lost the match after all. Why else would they move them? Aengus stood there pondering this. The logical solution was to move to the center of the camp. It made sense in his head that is where the Orcs would move the captives if they didn't want them to escape or be rescued.
So he started moving towards the center of the camp. Along the way there was when Aengus spotted the Blightment. Huddled up together as they awaited their fate. Without second thought the man attempted to sneak his way towards the captives when one Orc violently shoved him to the ground yelling something in their native tongue so Aengus could not understand a word the Orc said. Two more joined him, one appearing to be a woman, so the young man wondered if the one that shoved him yelled out he caught an intruder. Who knows what he yelled but Aengus knows he is in a world of trouble. So he unsheathed his sword and waited to see what the Orcs will do since they held weapons in their hands. The one that shoved him was holding a hammer of some sort and the other two axes.
Marcus had been circling the leader of the Orcs when some on the outside of the circle got more aggressive and started shouting amongst themselves. Dodging out of the way of the raider leader's warhammer, he wasn't really aware of what they were saying. The language barrier didn't help at all with that of course.
But what helped even less was when one of the Orcs behind him attacked, kicking him hard in the back and sending him sprawling to the ground. Cursing, he rolled to the side just in time to avoid an attack by an axe.
Oh gods above this had turned out badly for certain.
He tried to roll away again to avoid another attack, only to realize that they had stepped on his shield to pin him. Pulling his arm free from his shield, he rolled away from a warhammer strike and managed to bring himself to his feet again to see that it was the leader and now another six Orcs all ready to charge him.
Gareth had been watching from a far for quite some time now, one of two men was faring well against the leader of the green beasts, but the other decided to sneak past them, something that was either a good idea or a terrible one, the giant decided to wait how it would turn out, and just like he expected, it turned out poorly, he didn't exactly know what was happening to the one that sneaked through, but he could see that Marcus was clearly no longer in a duel.
Before the orcs had the chance to gang up on Marcus, however, one of them was suddenly thrown back a few meters from the sheer impact of Gareth's bolt alone, now dead on the ground and pinned by what was essentially a heavy javeling that was shot by a very big crossbow. Another bolt flew throw the air, aiming to strike the leader, who saw it coming and narrowly dodged it by throwing himself to one side, the sudden attack making the orcs take their eyes off Marcus and gaze upon the newest addition to the fight.
Emerging from the nearby woods, a giant in Watcher armor, the symbol of the protectors of Kriege before the Second Surge, scratched, burnt and marked by many events, yet as protective as always, wielding a massive executioner sword, a type of sword that lacked the point and that was usually used for what its name implied. Gareth looked at Marcus, performed a salute with his sword to make him understand that he was on his side and charged the orcs, the true battle had begun.
Aengus had no idea that him being spotted had bad repercussions as far as the fight between Marcus and the lead Orc. Maybe there was a fourth Orc or the Orcs had a way to communicate that they had failed to anticipate. Well however the Orcs managed to get word across the camp Aengus has his own problems to deal with. The three Orcs that are standing before him. The three appeared to be talking quietly to each other, the one that shoved him grinned because of whatever it was that the other two were saying.
Then the Orc attacked but it's stance was wide and well it seemed that the Orc was under estimating Aengus. Perhaps this one is over confident. Aengus was able to knock the Orc's sword out of the way leaving the green being's body wide open for an attack. It was far too late for the Orc to protect himself as the former prince was well into it's defense abilities as he ran his sword through the Orc's chest. The Orc released a pained roar like yell of pain before going limp.
Kicking the being off as he pulled his sword back the corpse fell to the ground with a heavy thump. The remaining two angrily spoke to one another as though deciding what to do or who will attack first. In his own mind Aengus was deciding which of the two he will attack first or if he will gamble taking on the both of them at the same time.
The simply massive crossbow bolt that hammered into one of the Orcs did so with so much power that the Orc in question actually had his spine snap from the force alone and suddenly Marcus was very glad that he seemed to not be the target. Marcus gripped his sword tightly in his hand and charged forwards.
He didn't know that there was even going to be a second shot but his charge meant that he was in a position to capitalize after the fact. The leader dodged out of the way but that left him at the mercy of Marcus.
And Marcus would show some mercy this day.
Swinging his sword with all of his might, Marcus cleaved straight through the Orc leader's hands at the wrists, severing both hands from it's body. As the leader fell to the ground screaming, but alive, Marcus saluted back to the giant in the short distance before thrusting his sword into the guts of an Orc that had over-extended itself to wind up for a strong over-head strike.
Pulling and twisting his blade, he carved open the Orc's stomach until his guts simply slipped and flopped to the ground.