The Light of Civilization

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Mufi, May 20, 2013.

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  1. If the bright reflections of the sun against polished metal wasn't enough to give the men away, the jingle of it and the heavy thumps of their boots as they marched through the swamp certainly was. The birds in the trees fled long before the humans even saw them.

    Commander Wesson's men had some sense, at least - though they wore metal cuirasses, tabards of white cloth hung over them to deflect the worst of the heat, and their wide-brimmed helmets had been lined with leather in order to not bake their brains too badly. More sensible still would have been to not polish the metal to a gleam... but Commander Wesson would not approve of that on his parade ground, and so his men simply suffered. At least the tangled branches of the trees and vines overhead gave some amount of shade, even if the pools of standing water meant mosquitos and flies buzzed thickly around the sweating men.

    There were eight of them, marching in two columns of four when the path was wide enough. They - or others like them, with red plumes on their helmets and muskets in their hands - had been investigating the swamp ever since the tall ships had landed at the mouth of the river. They searched for routes through, for more fertile farmland - for the fountain of youth and runes of power rumored to lie somewhere in this unsoiled wilderness.

    They weren't anywhere near finding those, but unbeknownst to them, they were getting close to something... unexpected.
  2. In the trees, above the marching men, two Lizardkin were perched, looking down at the invaders. They knew that they could do little, as there were outnumbered. But they also knew that they didn't have to do very much. The swamp was treacherous to strangers.

    The one of them bet that they would return to where they came from as soon as they lost one or two to the sinkholes. The other one bet that they would get all the way to the spiderwebs, yet push on until they saw the first of the spiders. Though they both agreed that if they didn't flee then, they would have to help a bit. The many poisons of the swamps made their spears rather efficient, even if the invaders wore shiny, hard things to protect themselves.

    And almost as soon as the bet was settled, one of the men stepped into one of the sinkholes, sinking down so it reached his hips almost before he had time to react, and still sinking fast.
  3. The men reacted with shouts and a scramble of motion. That protective metal was now anything but, heavy and weighing the sinking man down, dragging him further into the swamp.

    One of the men - the one with the biggest plume on his head - took up most of the shouting, barking orders that were incomprehensible to the lizardkin but made the other humans edge closer to the sinking one. They were hesitant, uncertain what might make the swamp swallow them as well.

    Moments wasted. More, as one of the rescuers to be felt his boots sinking and scrambled back, making the man with the big plume shout more orders.

    The sinking man drifted further down, his struggles beginning to exhaust him, but under the exhortations of the big-plumed man, the others finally managed to drag him out.

    Some of the metal-clad men weren't nearly so shiny anymore, and the big-plumed one shouted at them for that - or maybe for being careless - for a while.

    Still, there were still eight of them, and their victory over the first danger of the swamp seemed to encourage them, because they continued their march, going deeper with a renewed sense of confidence.

    False confidence. The next sinkholes were also deeper, and this time shiny man who fell in sank almost before the other men could respond.
  4. The two Lizardkin couldn't help but to chuckle at the struggles of the strange invaders. The shiny things they wore didn't help against the swamp itself, nor was it going to help much against what they were about to meet...

    They watched as the invaders as they attempted to pull their man free from the swamp, smiling to each other as they did. Yet the one grinned much wider as they kept moving, and managed to not step directly into more sinkholes.

    Soon enough, small spiderwebs started to stretch from branch to branch, with fist-sized spiders skittering about, maintaining their webs, eating their catch, and some even watching the large two-footers.

    Yet it didn't take them long to reach far larger webs, stretching from tree to tree, some even holding twitching sacks on the size of the invaders.

    And higher up in the trees, spiders the size of bears sat together with the Lizardkin, waiting for their prey to take one wrong step, and get tangled up in their webs, to become another meal for them and their broods.
  5. A few of the men seemed uneasy in the presence of the spiderwebs, but the big-plumed one shouted at them and made them keep going.

    He was the one who first stepped in the webbing, his brisk march taking him into a tangle of the stuff. It clung to his boots as he tried to step away, and he cursed and used his hand to try to push it back.

    That, of course, only made the situation worse. The webbing tangled at him more, and two of the other shiny men went over to him and tried to help untangle him, setting their muskets down against nearby trees and reaching to try to pull away the webs.

    It only got worse when the tugging pulled down one of the web-traps laid in among the moss, falling like a sticky cloud down to entangle the soldiers.
  6. The two Lizardkin couldn't help but to let out a loud, hissing laugh as they saw the three struggling and getting tangled into the webs, getting more and more tangled, sealing their doom.

    One of the huge spiders started skittering down the tree, towards her victims. She let out a screech, intending to scare off the rest of the creatures, to let her work in peace on her little meals.

    The one she took first was the one struggling and making the most noise. She bit its neck, letting her toxins flow into it, before she started to wrap her little gift in silk.

    Both the lizards in the tree decided that now was as good a time as ever to strike. They pulled out a javelin each from their holsters, let out a loud screech each, to scare the invaders further, then threw their weapons at them! They aimed for their feet, knowing that their bodies were protected from their weapons, but if they couldn't run, the spiders would get them.
  7. The shouting took on a tone more like screaming as the spider descended. The most entangled man soon fell victim to the spider's venom, but the ones not wrapped in spiderweb stepped back. They formed two rough ranks, fumbling for musket balls and powder and hurriedly prepping their weapons.

    Practice made them fast, though not as fast as they might like. As the lizards leapt down, one of them shouted in startlement, and the powder-packing men tried hurriedly to regroup and form a rough star formation to defend their flanks. Two of them were ready, and fired - though one of the muskets had gotten wet, and failed. The other went off, with a flash and a loud cracking sound, like lightning that sent a bullet whizzing toward the lizards.
  8. That loud, horrible noise, the flash and smoke scaring the spider away, and a sudden pain in his chest. One of the Lizardkin were hit. The one with green scales staggered backwards from the sudden impact, falling backwards, as his blue scaled friend pulled out and threw another javelin. He knew that it wasn't looking good for his friend, but he wrapped his arms around his chest and started attempting to pull him away from the invaders with the magic-sticks. He knew it was a long shot, but it was better than simply leaving him there.
  9. The men shouted more, aiming their sticks once more at the fleeing spider. Retreat was a start, but with one of the soldiers dead, the others were not in a forgiving mood. The lizards got part of the way, but then one of the men trying to untangle the captain from the spiderwebs noticed them. He shouted, reaching for the fallen weapon of one of the others and firing again.
  10. Another loud boom.

    Another flash of light and smoke.

    A spray of blood and blue scales.

    The blue Lizardkin fell backwards limply, with a large wound spurting blood from his forehead.

    As his kin fell backwards, no longer supporting him, the green-scale also fell backwards, hissing loudly in pain, still holding his hands over his wound to not bleed to death. Yet he knew it was futile.

    The invaders were still there. And with little left to distract them, he was next.
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