Sunday, May 26, 2013

035 - The wall of walruses, part I

Walruses sighted

There was over 100 miles of water to navigate before the Raven arrive to Hlethui. On the first day of navigation, the open water held nicely and the ship remained in sight of the ice attached to the shore. By mid-day, a moan-like clamor could be heard ahead. Reitu prompted the company members to come to the forecastle of the ship. "This is a lucky day for you, Southrons", he claimed. "These are the moans of a pack of walruses". He told them that the ivory of walruses was ideal for the ritual foundation of a tribe. He instructed to sever their heads, that only an elder should remove the ivory from the skull of these beasts. 

Araliniel tried to get herself out of this "harvest", but Reitu insisted that she participates. He excused himself from the venture as he already belonged to a tribe, and had no desires to count on a bunch of pink-skin Southrons to protect him from the terror

The Raven approached the ice and let out a gangway to the ground. The company stumbled down and peered at the colony of walruses some 200 meters to their right. These were not Earth walruses! These beasts were 5 meters long and their head standing over 2 m tall above the ice. More than 200 of them were huddled at the edge of water.  

The wall of walruses

It didn't take long for the walruses to react to the presence of the Southrons. Females and pups started to waddle to the center of the dense formation while the males assembled into a thick wall of walruses. The chants and screams were deafening, their demeanor threatening. Each beast was probably over 2000 lb a piece, their tusks at least as long as a man's arm.

The plan was fairly simple: the armored fighters would be charging ahead and leave to the other the liberty to help in any way that appeared fit. As they approached the colony, even the tallest of the men, Arnadil, was dwarfed by the beasts. Just before contact was made, the walruses all roared in unison, stomping their body on the ice. The sound travelled like a wave which shook the company to their core as if the ground was about to give way under their feet. Thannolf fell to his knees in an panic attack and vomited his starchy lunch. Finbert turned around and began running back to the gangway in panic. By the time that he realized that he was the only one in flight, the clash had begun. Araliniel was holding Thannolf's black locks while Irina was taking position to shoot at the beasts. 

Halin and Arnadil jumped in head first. Arnadil mostly worked agains the walruses thick and leathery blubber while Halin fell one beasts in a mighty blow to the skull. The walrus collapsed against the dwarf, nearly knocking him over and locking the war hammer into place. Arnadil was charged by two giants and barely escaped their body slams. He spotted one of the beast's front leg that was wide open and hit as hard as he could at the opening. This blow left him in the kneeling position, a decision that he would soon learn to regret. He found himself against the corpse of the walrus that Halin had felled and two very angry of its relatives. Incapable to retreat, he braced his gondolin sword against the ground and waited for the walrus to slam onto him. The sword sliced in the beast upward and slid in up to the hilt. Arnadil found himself underneath his writhing victim. 

On their right, Sir Galdor had valiantly charged and struck another walrus. Again, mostly hitting blubber and causing little damage. Things took a turn for the worst when Galdor, in a moment of fury jammed his sword between the tusks of a walrus which recoiled and shattered his blade in the middle. Sword less, Galdor raised his shield to cover Halin as the master dwarf pulled Arnadil from under the felled heap of fat. Arnadil tried to hold on to his sword as he got swept, but his bloodied hand slipped. He rolled on the ground to avoid further slams under the cover of Sir Galdor. Galdor, unable to fight without a sword grasped Arnadil by the shoulder and lifted him to his knees. Another mass roar thundered, but Arnadil's steady hand kept the company from falling apart. 

To the left of this action, Irina managed to give the "Moe Green" treatment to no less than three walruses. This heroic action stemmed the encircling tide of beasts and created a solid obstacle for the second wave of walruses. Kasper had remained in the background at first but darted forward. Kasper valiant sword play with his two-handed thrusting sword struggled against the natural defense of the sea mammals. 

Finbert shot a poison dart at a walrus, but this didn't seem to do anything, he swapped his blowpipe for his sword and braced to join the fray. Heroics came from unexpected places as in between the action, Thannolf and Araliniel slipped to take on a walrus charging the rear of the three fighters. Thannolf, armed with nothing else but a knife, latched on to the back of the "speeding" walrus and crept upward to its throat. This happened just about when Galdor, after picking Arnadil from the ground, got himself pinned into the icy ground.

The wall of walruses was closing in: Arnadil's magic sword was buried under a dead and particularly fat one, Galdor was now sword less and pinned under a mad sea mammal. Thannolf was still riding the blubber train, rather helplessly, as it is about to ram into an un expecting dwarf. The retreat called by Arnadil was not going to happen as planned... and just how thick is the ice under their feet?

We'll have to reconstruct the wall of walruses from a few shots like this one.
Edge of water on the right, dead/unconscious walruses have a penny on
their heads. Thannolf is currently grappling a walrus' neck. Galdor is under

And then the clock struck 12 and we had to stop before Alex's car turn into a pumpkin. This is going to be a long two weeks before we know how this ivory harvest is going to end...

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