Dark Heart of Arkravia

Landfall

On the docks

The smell of heretical burnt flesh contrasts sharply with the smell of refuse that has washed up on the beaches to either side of the rough wood dock that the “Writ of Domination” has been tied up to. The strange smell of rotting vegetation from the jungle, untreated sewage from the rude pirate city, the stench of unwashed bodies from the tusker natives, and the sweet smell of purged sin mingles with the sea air in a heady mixture of adventure. Even the smell of the holy cannons brings forth nothing but the heady days of the Third Great Crusades in your minds as you move down the gangplank to the waiting dock. Behind you the bearers you chose from among the pathetic Lagoo slaves who had not fallen to heresy or demon worship struggle to carry the heavy chests containing your belongings.

Smoke curls up from where the Imperial Navy directed fire from the holy cannons on pirate strongholds, raining down the wrath of the One True God on the tuskers fortifications. Here and there flames and spark whoosh up as buildings that had been hit by the holy munitions and their purifying fire despite the bucket brigade of surviving tusker pirates watched over by Church Soldiers. The crudely cut stone walls, without plaster or murals glorifying the One True God as a true civilization would have, show scars from where holy shrapnel, each engraved with a sigil of martyrs, tore into the stone as the Imperial Navy brought justice and redemption to the godless pirates who had dared build a city to commit vile acts of heresy and to launch their raids from. A work gang of tusker slaves are overseen by a squad of Church Soldiers, a vicar encouraging the tuskers to set aside sloth with a whip, pull six cannons taken from the hold of the Writ of Holy Fire to be placed upon the meager walls of this cesspool of a city. Flames leap from the piles of the bodies of sinners being cleansed by fire as well as where stakes have been set up to send the fire cleansed souls of unrepentant sinners and those who had fallen victim to the cultist’s swaying words to Namotha’s loving arms.

The buildings are made of quarried stone, held by thick mortar, and roofed with wooden slats rather than proper roofs of slate. Most are only a mere single or double story, with unglassed windows covered by beaded curtains. Doorways gape open on the buildings searched by the Church Soldiers, here and there Church Soldiers kick open doors or break them down with makeshift battering rams to pull the tusker occupants from within their lairs. The roads are gravel, bodies, bloodstains, and animal feces littering the white gravel until tusker work crews can be encouraged to remember that cleanliness is a virtue. The Palace of Farevel, a large three story building with minarets on the flanking tower, sits upon a low hill in the middle of the city, the tiny figures of a work crew putting the doors back into the frames. In front of the doors the stake where the Lord Admiral was cleansed by holy fire and sent to Namotha for judgement still smoulders, and soldiers are erecting a flagpole to put forth Lord Bishop Horaga Verestian’s personal banner as well as the banner of the Empress and the flag of the Holy Starburst.

The sound of the wailing of the widows and young are audible even over the snapped commands of the Church Officers as the tusker women and children are rounded up and have leather collars affixed to their throats to mark them with their proper place. Whip cracks are audible even upon the docks as Church Officers chivvy and encourage the surviving tusker males to gather together so that they can be properly branded with their Namothian names rather than their crude names in their gibbering tongue. Here and there a pistol or musket shot rings out as a tusker tries to run or dares assault one of the Church Soldiers and is quickly put down like the animals they are. They do not yet deserve mercy, as the Pope, the Palace of Namotha, or Lord Bishop Horaga Verestian have not found their souls to be worthy of salvation by words rather than flame.

Seagulls and leathery headed ugly birds wheel above, their eyes on the piles of heretic and pirate that the surviving tuskers cringingly throw into the pits they have dug since the fierce battle ended a few hours ago. The sky is a clear blue, with only a few puffy white clouds as a reminder of the fierce storms that the Imperial Navy tracked the sleek pirate ships through, pirate ships that have either sunk in the harbor or are still burning. Pirates who have managed to struggle up onto the pristine white beach are being pulled to the graveled street, where they are lined against the sole standing wall of a warehouse and shot by Church Soldiers under the watchful eye of their Lord Captain.

Your attention returns to the dock and you take note of the Church soldiers that are standing on each side of the dock’s length before it reaches the rough gravel street that wanders between the buildings crudely made of cut stone. Lord Captain Hargalan steps forward to greet you, the sweat on his brow that of either the nervous sinner or a man unused to the pounding heat and humidity. His salute is as crisp as if he was standing on a parade ground.

“The city is Namotha’s now, milords,” he says, his voice slightly high pitched with a faint lisp. His oiled goatee waggles as he speaks, the sunlight glinting off of the oil in his beard and hair.

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Tim_Willard

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