The Morlat Death-March
The Morlat Death-March
The dark waters forced themselves against the sturdy planks curving around the side of the ship, seeking penetration into its belly. Seeking to plunder and consume the ship's captives and drag them into its own murky depths. However, the forceful waters should know that a watercraft built from the great Conce trees would be simply impregnable to the ocean's attempts. The boat shrugged off the living waters as they tried to cling to its underbelly.
Two layers of long rods were protruding from the ship's sides and plunging into the water in unison. Together, they then displaced the water, emerged from the water, and plunged back in. The ship had legs. Long slender legs that moved together. If a leg didn't move with the rest or skipped a turn, someone was beaten, and the leg would abruptly proceed with its scraping of the water's surface. The ship must keep moving!
Crag was exhausted and his hands bled but the cold numbed his pains and his thoughts. The cold winds had mercy. But not the oar. He heaved the oar forward, let it sink into the water, then he ripped it back towards himself. His shackles rattled and jingled as they gripped his ankles and connected them to his arms. He continued with the mindless paddling as he had been doing for the past six hours.
He looked over at his partner. Every oar was manned by two men. As long as the oar kept moving, the guards didn't mind the men sleeping. Crag and his man, Reldsmith, had taken shifts. It worked out well. Crag Hack would sleep and Reldsmith would rip at the oar. Then Crag would paddle while Reldsmith slept. It worked well until Reldsmith died.
Crag looked over at his friend, but didn't tear. Tears just freeze and distract. Reldsmith was dead since sunrise. Crag saw it coming though. Once you're sick, you stay sick. And paddling a boat for a week in freezing temperatures with seldom rations doesn't exactly cure ailments. Reldsmith had contracted some virus that had consumed some others on the ship within the past few days. He now slumped over on the other side of the wooden plank still wrapped in his animal hide blanket. Eventually one of the Morlats would come, sever the shackles, and throw Reldsmith overboard. Crag smiled at his companion and then focused on the oar.
Crag was lucky though (lucky in a very relative and contextual sense). He had already evaded many of nature's diseases that infected other prisoners. Previous to being forced onto the ship, he had skinned many-a-cow and built up a rather abundant supply of leather and hides to ward off serious frostbite. He was also placed on the second, lower deck which was covered from the storm, snow, and hail by the upper deck. Although, that didn't stop the icy winds from blasting through the large oar holes.
Crag Hack is one of many prisoners on a ship. The prisoners man the oars of the ship in pairs, and the ship has an upper and lower deck on which the prisoners sit and row the massive wooden oars from. The prisoners' transgressions range from petty theft to trivial violations against the Morlat government. Feel free to be creative.
The Morlat government is an Imperialistic empire that is expanding its frontier. They are expanding so rapidly, they are forcing prisoners to do their bidding where their army isn't. This has prompted thousands of very questionable arrests and imprisonments on the Morlat lands.
This ship is one of the first across the Bodril Ocean to start invading and claiming land of the Free Man's Kingdom. The prisoners are to, under supervision from Morlat officials, erect an outpost and military township where following ships can dock, regroup, and invade from.
Make a prisoner and seat yourself on the ship and grab an oar. We're headed towards the Free Man's Kingdom to supposedly do some bidding for the Morlats. Morlat officials and guards pace and patrol the ship while the prisoners mindlessly row the boat. If your prisoner stops rowing, he'll be whipped and/or beaten. Maybe killed. I'm going to be playing this mostly by ear. I've never really made my own roleplay.
aka Manbeard the Huge
With his mouth half-agape, Erik forced the oar back into the water for the fiteen-millionth time that day. He was only halfway conscious, driven into a self-induced hypnosis by the monotonous labor. Throwing the idea around in his head, he considered that he might have been slain and sent to hell for something he might or might not have done. That wasn't the case, but it might as well have been; Erik couldn't imagine hell's flames having any more fury than the whip, nor could he fathom that any sort of torture there might labotomize his brain activity like endless rowing. At least the flame would provide warmth.
Making things worse was the fact that he had the misfortune of being stuck on the upper deck. Being a very stout man with a very hairy, red face helped things a bit, as did the many layers of dead critter flesh he kept wrapped around himself. Along with that, the constant rowing kept his upper body warm, though he couldn't help but wonder if he had gotten frostbite on his feet, which he could no longer feel.
None of that stopped snow, rain, hail, sleet, and whatever other manner of cold wet material from clinging to his face. Probably Erik's personal favorite fluid to freeze onto his face was his own snot from his runny nose. It was the main reason that he breathed with his mouth. Breathing through his nose caused all the free fluid within to freeze, which was not an entirely pleasant feeling. As a result, a steady stream of snot trickled out of his nose, promptly freezing into his moustache, which had pretty much become a bristly snot-cube by this point.
Erik hadn't started out on the upper deck, though. Originally, he was on the lower deck, which was only slightly more hospitable. For reasons he didn't fully understand, he was moved upstairs, the only clue as to why being an unmanned oar, an empty bench, and some vomit and blood stains frozen to the deck. He didn't bother to ask questions, that would only get him beaten, and so far, he had been obedient (and lucky) enough to recieve minimal beatings. Occasionally, he wondered about his partner downstairs, who got left by himself when Erik was taken away.
He's probably dead by now, Erik thought, recalling that the man was not great in strength or health. He hadn't talked to the man much, but he had been the closest thing to a friend that he had on the ship. Even though he didn't recall the ship's crew outlawing talking amongst prisoners, he had simply assumed it was not allowed. It seemed like everything else landed them a beating, so it only made sense.
Thoughts of rest came to mind. Erik's body screamed at him to stop and just curl up and sleep. This desire came in waves, each more powerful than the last, and it was all he could do to keep fighting it. His head sagged and his eyes closed, but still he continued to row.
Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake. You're not tired. Keep rowing...
Shikk was tired of the game. Initially, when he was first selected to go on the trip, the rhythmic turning of the big sticks had obsessed him. He had been thrilled to get the chance to sit down beside the big, loud man he had by now grown used to smelling, and have a go at moving the thingies properly.
He found the game tough business. Push too hard or too fast, and you got too tired. Too slow or too sloppily, and the guards would tickle you with their sharp brushes. Shikk hated being tickled. It wasn’t long before he realized that the game had no variation – it was boring. The man next to him only stopped talking unless the guards were close, but Shikk found him boring too. The whole ship was boring!
And when he tried to get up and leave, he noticed the metal clamp thing tied onto his leg that wouldn’t let go. Just standing up had upset the big, loud man, and it wasn’t long before the guards came over and starting tickling him again. He had almost cried, but Shikk was big these days, and he wasn’t supposed to cry anymore. He had just sat down again and pouted, and for a while the loud man complained that he wasn’t doing his fair share of the game.
“I’m awake,” the loud man said, again. Of course you were awake, Shikk thought, because you weren’t sleeping. But he was happy to feel the stick suddenly lose weight, and the game became easier. That happened whenever both of them were playing at the same time. The loud man didn’t like it when he had to play by himself, and Shikk was beginning to understand.
“You’ve been awake for four days straight, man!” the loud man said. “I’ve got you covered. You can sleep.”
Shikk laughed on the inside, because he knew laughing out loud could get people mad at you. How could he keep playing the game if he was asleep? And if he stopped playing, wouldn’t he end up being tickled? But as the hours dragged on, Shikk realized as the oar was feeling lighter and lighter, the arms became heavier and heavier. He finally slipped into a turbulent, shallow sleep.
The Free Man's Kingdom was a new world to the men on the captives of the ship. Probably even to the hooded Morlats. A sun beat down pleasantly on golden sands and the coast was surrounded by clear water that didn't even hide the ocean's pristine floor. Not far from the shore, a distinct line of lush green marked the start of rolling meadows, and not far beyond that began the speckle of groves of trees.
Water cascaded down the ominous sides of the black ship built from the dark woods of Morlat territory. The ice was melting. It melted off of the withered oars. It slid off of sinister planks. And it left its wet residue on the men's flesh. Like most men of the ship, the abrupt change of climate caught Crag by surprise as he found himself in an exhausted state of stupor. His skin tingled with blood flushing through veins that were never expected to open again. An overall numbness sort of melted away exposing sharp pains from inescapable frostbite. His sense of feeling was coming back, and in some places he wished it not.
The Free Man's Kingdom was encompassed with a steady coast ward gust that allowed the men to finally retreat their oars. Some men collapsed while some retained their mindless slump. Crag Hack was attentive. Blue eyes peered out of the hole his oar stuck through, watching the amber shore bob up and down.
Suddenly, thunder resounded from the upper deck as the musty sails unrolled from the towering mast. Once the tattered sails of the obsidian ship completely opened, the sharp but lukewarm breeze carried the baleful ship the rest of the way, which was about a quarter mile off shore. Aching feet and fastened shackles bustled about through the upper deck as did the cracks of whips and thudding fists that kept them moving. Then came the hissing of rope coils being unraveled and then the large splashes of the boats that the men would paddle the rest of the way to the shore.
The upper deck was shipped to the shore first, and then the lower deck. Crag Hack shared a boat with a very large man who insisted on doing the paddling by himself. Except for an exceptionally loud man who had a lot to say about nothing, the rest of the captives were solemnly silent, heads bowed. The Morlat that sat at the fore of the boat did nothing more than point to the small dock that was clearly under construction. Placid waves shuffled along the side of the boat and Crag let his hand drag along its surface. It was a warm pleasantry he hadn't known for a few weeks now.
The boat hit the dock and the men piled off. If you were too slow, a Morlat guard would rip you out. Crag exited fast, but the large man, who appeared slightly less coordinated due to his immense size, had trouble. Three Morlat pelted the man's back with whips and one with a small flail, drawing blood that didn't even seem to hurry the big man up. Crag managed a small hidden smile in admiration.
More hooded Morlats forcefully directed the men to the most completed structure of the entire area. Within it, the captives were kept to an eerie silence and in single file. Eventually the line carried Crag to a room where one Morlat judged him and another passed him a tool that varied depending on the judgement. He was handed a good-sized hammer and a vest of tempered metal stakes. Along the wall were massive mauls and axes, which he imagined the large man getting. On the other wall were more assorted tools including pickaxes and small saws.
Upon exiting the structure with his hammer and heavy nails, Crag was pushed into a group that was slowly accumulating around a central stand where a Morlat stood. The Morlat was clearly readying to speak, reaching to his face to withdraw his hood.
(OOC: This thread is still open for anyone that wants to join as another captive of the Morlats. We've just hit the shore of the Free Man's Kingdom where the Morlats are constructing an outpost. Go through the line and a Morlat will give you the tool they deem most appropriate for your build and perhaps personality, whether it be a massive lumber-cutting axe or a dagger for skinning and preparing leather.)
aka Manbeard the Huge
You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake.You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake.You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake.You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake.You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake.You're not tired. Keep rowing. Stay awake...
Erik hardly noticed the transition into the much more comfortable region of the Morlat outpost until the sudden thunder of the sails being deployed ripped him from his trance. Mouth and tired eyes wide open, Erik gazed stupidly as the sails filled with the gentle breeze. He became aware that he could feel his body again, that the horizon was more than a quarter mile away and consisted of more than a blanket of white, and that he was quite warm in all of his skins. Quickly, he dumped off all of his skins, revealing his stout build, which glistened in the sunlight.
Even after stripping down, Erik found the heat extremely uncomfortable. He had lived in the north all of his life. It was likely to be the only reason he had survived the trip.
Once inside the outpost, Erik found it so hot and claustrophobic that he could hardly breath. The line of men before him stretched farther than he could see. But, as he slowly moved forward, he begun to understand what was happening. The men before him were all assigned a tool.
When Erik's turn came, the Morlat studied him briefly, then handed him a gargantuan axe. It was very similar to the one that he had at home, before he was taken away, which he had used for logging. It gave him a bit of comfort to hold an object that reminded him of home, though, given the circumstance, it did little to ease his anxiety.
Without getting a chance to dwell much on the thought of what used to be, Erik was directed into another room. In the middle, upon a stand, stood a hooded Morlat. Perhaps now, Erik would get some answers. He doubted, however, that he'd hear any that he liked.
Shikk liked the warm weather. It reminded him of home, which reminded him of his mommy. What would she think if she knew where Shikk was now, so far from home? She had always taken care of him. Now, Shikk was being taken care of by the scary men, who took care of him with nasty tickles instead of hugs and kisses like his mommy had always done.
Shikk wasnít sad when they told everyone to stop playing the game. He was bored of it, and glad to stretch his legs when they said so. Unfortunately, on his way to the boat, Shikk tripped over one of the scrawnier men, and got tickled. He was tired of the tickling, but didnít want to get the men around him in trouble, so he said nothing.
Finally Shikk found himself in a boat, next to some other man. He was annoyed that the loud man was in that boat too, but he couldnít see him. Shikk loved rowing boats, and was happy to finally find himself in something familiar. He was so excited to be rowing after so long that he pushed the man beside him to the side and took over both oars himself. It was satisfying to feel the boat lurch forward as he pulled the oars. He noticed the dark man at the rear of the boat glaring at the way he was preventing his neighbor from doing any work, but Shikk didnít care, because the dark man was too busy with the rudder to tickle him.
Shikk wasnít happy when they reached land, because this land was scary to him compared to the relative familiarity of a rowboat. He and his father had spent countless hours in rowboats back home. They never went across the Bodril Ocean though, so this was frightening to Shikk. He was so hesitant in leaving the boat that the black men decided to tickle him some more. Shikk was really tired of this. He wanted to crush the hand grasping the tickler, but he was afraid he would capsize the boat (he had done that a few times with his father) and decided to let it go. The rowboat lifted a good inch out of the water after Shikk disembarked.
Shikk felt sick on the earth, and wanted to throw up. He didnít know why, though. He stumbled along, resisting the urge, and eventually found himself holding a big pickax and standing in a small but growing crowd of men. Shikk had never realized everyone else on the boat was so tiny, but the men next to him barely reached his shoulders. He shrugged, thinking their mommies must not have taken good care of them.
Like the majority of the captive crowd, for the first time Crag Hack witnessed the unhooded face of a Morlat. His skin was rather desaturated and muted with a grey tint but possessed otherwise the same physical structure any other human would have. The only peculiarity was that the Morlat's eyes and mouths remained strangely unopened at all times.
Crag was very familiar with the communication methods of the Morlats, only hearing one speak with its own voice a few times in his life. Morlats adhered to a strict code of caste where verbal communication with non-Morlats was forbidden not to mention that it was considered disgusting to associate with inferior beings directly. Instead, Morlats engaged in a practice called Mouthpiecing where they would essentially speak to inferior beings through the mouths of others by acquiring some form of physical contact with a being, usually a palm on the back of the neck or head. Morlats themselves practiced silent intercommunication. When speaking to one another, they would grasp the back of eachother's skulls and proceed to communicate mentally.
When the Morlat tugged its dark hood off exposing its stoic and placid face, the first row of the crowd grew uneasy until the Morlat selected an older man from the crowd to join him on the small vantage of an elevation. As expected, the Morlat then put its ungloved hand on the cranium of the elderly man and proceeded to communicate with the crowd with a broken dialogue typical of all Morlat Mouthpiecing.
"Form groups... of six." The old man was clearly possessed by another presence, opening his mouth and awkwardly speaking as if he was chewing something. "Each member... his own tool." The Morlat and Mouthpiece then stood eerily still as the crowd formed groups and clumped together in an orderly fashion. Some men who were clearly companions or brothers were issued the same tool and forced apart from one another.
Crag looked around. There must be at least fifty other densily packed groups of men corraled into identical crowds, each engaged in their own group-forming session. Every other crowd seemed to have its own staple Morlat and Mouthpiece. Further off into the distance, he saw teams of men working on constructing various structures whose functions weren't physically determinable.
Most of the men of Crag's average build were equipped with hammer and nails and it took a while of digging through the crowd to finally come across a man with a large axe. They mutually nodded at eachother and then the man with the axe motioned to the large being next to him that wielded the biggest pickaxe Crag had ever seen a man carry. The colossal man smiled at Crag, obviously recognizing him from the rowboat, and even giggled excitedly. Crag directed the two of them to an area outside of the mass of men and went in to look for more. He turned around and saw that a particularly loud man had joined his party and was ordering around two newcomers. Six men. Being the last group formed, Crag waved the other five to an opening amongst the other groups and the Mouthpiece immediately continued.
"The final... seventh member of your group... will be one of us. Do as... we say. Morlat say is... final say." Done with the Mouthpiece, the elderly man crumbled to the ground.
A green-robed Morlat suddenly appeared behind Crag's group immediately placing a hand on the large man with the pickaxe. Shortly, the large man began drooling and slurring random strings of sounds. As far as Crag could distinguish from mere body language, the Morlat seemed both taken back and frustrated, removing his hand from the large man who instantly started giggling. The fact that the Morlat couldn't take control of the large man immensley interested Crag Hack and he even managed a slight smile. The man with the axe was then Mouthpieced. "Follow..."
The Morlat marched right through the group -- the men making sure to get out of its way -- and led the way to a small clearing surrounded by tall trees. He clenched the shoulder of the man with the axe. "Line up, minions."