Frigia: A World in Ice
Ambush on the Ice
Captain Quire stood silently at the bridge of his ship, The Swift Ermine, lost in thought. The ceaseless frigid wind tugged at his frost encrusted beard, plucked at the heavy fur of his parka, and threatened to dislodge the fur lined hood covering his long hair but he ignored it, his steely eyes scanning the waste they sped across. All around the vessel, as far as the eye could see, was nothing but a preternaturally flat sheet of whitish blue ice. The vessel sped across this ice on great metal blades protruding from the bilge, propelled forward by the ceaselessly strong wind filling the sails behind him. Faded, nearly imperceptible grooves from previous journeys passed underneath the vessel, pointing out the way through the safest, most solid ice.
Quire took a deep breath, lungs scorched from the cold air but inured to it long ago. His gloved left hand gripped the wood of the bridge, that material more precious than life in this world, oiled with whale fat and glistening; his right hand gripped the barbed bone spear that rarely left his side. The head of the spear glittered dangerously in the harsh light as the crew muttered amongst themselves that the weapon had been blessed by a Wilder of the nomadic tribes.
Quire shifted uneasily, ignoring the glances from his crew. Something is wrong, he thought, suspiciously. _ Something doesn’t feel right._
The Swift Ermine had left port at the far northern town of Dunwall two days ago, bearing a hold full of whale oil bound for the southern settlements in the hopes they could trade it for an abundance of wood. They were still a good two days out from the closest settlement. Now would be the perfect time for an ambush, he thought. Nothing for days but ice and more ice, and no help in sight.
As if to echo his thoughts several thumps suddenly shook the schooner. Shouts from the crew verified what he already expected; grappling hooks. Moments later figures in white fur emerged from the side of the ship. Sloughing off their camouflage they revealed themselves; men in shining metal armor breastplates crafted with a precision no mabden could reproduce, each embellished with a symbol of eight arrows in a radial pattern. Underneath these breastplates they wore skirts of metal studded leather to protect the upper legs. Hyborians, Quire thought, his blood running cold.
The Hyborians unsheathed swords and axes of cold steel and advanced on the crew. On closer inspection the soldiers were each malformed monstrosities; one had leathery armored plates instead of skin, while another had a thick, muscular tail barbed with dripping poison. One appeared from below the ship in a great leap, spreading membranous wings as he glided down the sails, ripping them to shreds with sharp talons.
Captain Quire bellowed a harsh cry and leveled his spear at the closest enemy. He closed his eyes for a moment, searching for the elusive core of his soul, focusing his mind into a razor sharp weapon as he did so. Time seemed to crawl to a slow, pulsing stop as a purple beam of light erupted from the Captain’s forehead and struck the Hyborian with force, flinging him off the ship as he flailed, helpless. “This spear isn’t the only thing I got from the Wilders,” he muttered to himself as he smiled, letting the fury of his berzerker rage take hold of him.