As La Danse Calinda rose through the stormy air over the city of Sesus in the land of Raurugia, a man named Ashcat set his sights on bringing her down.
Red-shirted members of his organization brought the gang’s most powerful weapon to bear upon the mighty airship: a military-issue ballista.
Having been keeping an eye on the dock for the better part of two days, they were immediately ready to strike when she left her dock and began her ascent into the skies above Aeldreth…
Captain Jean Lafitte III rolled a cigarette as he stood at the helm of his airship in total confidence in her abilities, every now and then giving out a hand signal or outright yelling an order when he felt the ship was moving too sluggishly or that something wasn’t tied down correctly. Before long, however, he had her level off just above the towers, domes, and spirals of the famously waterlogged city of Sesus.
It took a great deal of effort to keep the Calinda on her parallel course amid the strong winds and rains. The volatile currents meant that a lighter than air vessel had to constantly correct its course to avoid being at their mercy.
The Ballista Fired!
A loud Thud sounded throughout the Calinda as the ship was struck in her side by an arrow-bolt. Lafitte immediately left the ship in the hands of a helmsman and silently made his way past the ascending royals and off the castle deck. Mercy was the last thing on his mind. Thud! Thud! Thud! In quick rhythmic succession, the hull of the airship was studded with bolts.
“Captain! Ballista spotted off the port bow!” Larman yelled as Lafitte moved to take a look for himself, spyglass in hand. Lightning revealed the weapon had been rolled out onto a flat roof next to a large domed building, which offered a majority view of the skies above Sesus.
“Keep the ship pointed to starboard, don’t let it line up with the balloon!” Lafitte yelled back up at the castle deck. “Do not return fire! I repeat! Do NOT return fire!” he amended as he saw several of the crew going for their crossbows.
Remembering his experience with his own crossbow-pistols, the last thing he needed was for the same scenario to play out on the rooftops of the Selkie city, which unfortunately left him at a bit of a loss with few options but to hope to outrun it.
Lafitte grimaced as he considered his chances of that.
The Assassin’s Prayer
Things were going well for Beau Bergeron as he joined in with the crew in their preparations to make flight above the city of Sesus. Though the rain and storms rocked her to and fro off and onto course, with the proper applications of the sails and steering, and capable crew she could maintain a proper route against even these elements.
The arrival of the Selkie royalty had signaled to him that his careful planning and manipulation had come to fruition: The Hunt for the Cards would be made aboard the ship La Danse Calinda, and his chance to make his way back to his own world drew near.
That is until the rigging over his head abruptly caught fire. Fils de salope! he thought, and he saw Captain Lafitte with an ominous look on his face, shouting an order not to return fire. Beau silently cursed once more: He would not lose his chance when he’d come this far.
Beau avoided teams of men forming a firefighting party and slid up next to Lafitte, “Patron!” he yelled, and his boss turned his gaze towards the assassin, burning with rage and fear as hot as the one which threatened to engulf his life’s work, “I have an idea…”
And within minutes Beau Bergeron was crouched down on the edge of the railing, a long rope tied to his right ankle and a dagger in each hand. Offering up a silent prayer to a God which had no following in this plane of reality, he offered a look towards the sky…and jumped.
Air rushed past his ears as he fell towards the roof of the building. Lightning struck and thunder rolled as the water fell upon his quickly falling body. And with a thud every bit as deadly as one of the ballista’s arrows, he landed dagger-first into the throats of two of the now bloodied henchmen, using their body-mass to break his fall and looking into the eyes of a third as he pulled the weapon from his friend’s throat and threw it into the third’s chest.
A fourth was better prepared than his brethren working the Balista, and came at Beau with a cutlass raised. Using his second dagger, he parried the man’s wild blow and spun around his side stabbing him in the back of the neck, severing his spine. As the fourth’s blood splattered Beau’s arm, three of the remaining gangsters unsheathed their own swords and decided to jump the loan assassin, but didn’t quite know what they were dealing with as he dislodged his dagger and threw it, mostly as a distraction as the henchmen easily anticipated and knocked away the weapon like a baseball. But Beau was already rushing towards them, the fourth’s cutlass in his hand and in short order he was fencing the three attackers.
Parrying a blow, he kicked the fifth’s sternum in, likely cracking it and knocking his wind out, but in the opening the sixth sliced a neat cut on his thigh. Beau wasted no words reacting and slicing the hands of his assailant and following through with a slice to the jugular of the seventh’s misguided attempt to avenge his comrade.
But as the Calinda’s would-be destroyers lay dead before him, and he gathered the prized daggers with which he’d done his deed, little did Beau know that the rope which served as his lifeline was growing ever more taut.
Beau’s head smacked the roof as feet were dragged out from under him by the still rising La Danse Calinda, and with a bang his foot went through the ancient stone ledge of the roof on the Sesus building, as Beau found himself dangling like a worm on a hook beneath the wooden airship. Blood from his wound dripping down his leg.