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The wreck of the Paladin, as recounted by Marius Briggs, Reaver of Dakara
—-Formatting is terribly broken in the editor, dashes are there to make it not break

One.. Two.. Three.. Pull. That’s what I kept saying to myself, repeating it in my head, whispering, it’s what I had to remember. All I had to remember, for a while at least. We clung to the rigging bound to Bashiok’s chest, strapped in like babies hooked in a papoose. Old babies, grizzled, worn. None of us younger than twenty summers but for Will. But then they didn’t pick greenlings for breaker crews, that was a privilege held for veterans. Some privilege that.
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One.. Two.. Three.. Pull. Three breaths and that was it, no more or we’d miss the target entirely, spinning out into the storm like leather wrapped kites, past any hope of rescue, a cowards death, death by wind and rain and cold, not by steel. The ropes held us tight. Too tight to move, to check gear, tight enough to keep us quiet, nothing to do but listen to the air rush past, the roar of Bashiok’s wingbeats covered by the storm. It was good, the storm might cover our approach, give us a chance of being un noticed until the pull.
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One.. Two.. Three.. Pull. That’s all the time we were allowed, from the drop until we hit, only those three seconds. Too early and you were a target, a sitting duck left hanging just long enough to die before you were sucked away by the winds. Too late and you missed entirely, or sometimes if you were lucky you might get cratered on the deck, at least that way was a quick death.
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We started the approach, sweeping higher, gaining altitude on the hulk we could barely make out in the darkness below. Bash’s wing’s pulled harder, straining in his traces, half crushing us into him as the ropes pulled tight, he climbed, reaching the pinnacle, and then dove in a dizzying wingover, flashing us over the top so we could see a beam of silver light cutting the clouds before we started to plummet, and all we could see was wind. He screamed as he dove, and we took the signal, cutting our traces, pulling away from him in a deadly rain of leather and steel.
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We sliced through the air like knives, arms folded, chests out, fanning in a cloud around our scaled escort.
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One..
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I caught my breath, made sure my shield wasn’t catching the wind and throwing me off course. I heard a cry call out from the deck below, they had seen us, but it was too late to sound an alarm. We were already in flight.
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Two..
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A crack rang out, and Willis spun away, a bolt taking him in the chest before we could blink. A few crossbowmen must have had their wits about them and fired upwards. Nothing to be done about it, couldn’t even bring a shield to bear, at that speed it would be torn from a mans grasp by the winds. We fell in silence, praying, hoping to dodge the rest of the bolts that must be rising even as we fell.
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Three..
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I ripped free the medallion from my neck, and strained as the always terrible sensation of rapid deceleration tore through my body. I heard the sound of cloth catching the wind all about me as my crew acted with me. We hit perfectly, just enough momentum to hit the deck running, not too much as to drive us through the planks beneath our feet. I heard a snap to my left, and my arm reacted before I could think, long years of conditioning paying off, saving my life from the barbed iron spur that sprouted on the inside of my shield. Two more hit right behind it, the witchwood splintered, but held. Ivan wasn’t so lucky, he caught a bolt to the belly from a greenling that could barely bring his arcbow to bear, and went down in a heap. I saw Natalya streak past, she had missed the pull, and was frantically straining to reach the railing. I saw her grab for it, but fall short, slowly drifting over the railing and out into the storm, it would be a slow cold death for her, unless she found the courage to use her blade.
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Our song rang out then. The Reavers of Dakara. Wood and bone cracked, blood spilled. The marines were no match for us, not up close, not once we had the deck under our feet and we had them in a fair fight, not dodging away from spells and bolts at long distance like they preferred. A boy came at me from the flank, swinging his blade like a toy. I hooked his wrist, rolled my shoulder and sent him over the rail. I was sorry to do that to anyone, but this was not an honorable field of battle, they would show us no mercy here on their ship, they couldn’t risk it. Tt was kill or die here, we all knew it when we left the ground. No quarter asked or given.
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The blood rose in me, coming to the call of battle, our song ringing over the clash of metal and screams of the dying. We broke them their on the deck and sent them scattering to the winds. MIkail was holding the gate, they couldn’t stop us, a team was even now crashing their way below decks to the bridge. I felt the deck rock underneath us. Our distraction had worked, Osha was clawing his way through the armored sides of the hull, depositing another crew below. We had won, it was a vicious rout, the spells and bolts from the deck ceased as the last defender was cut down above decks. We let out a cheer and rushed to descend, to take the ship for our own, when the deck shattered below us.
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Light was everywhere, filling the air, our lungs, the world, bright and unyielding, turning the midnight storm into brilliant day. Somehow the keep was broken, the whole ship was turning to splinters beneath our feet. I turned to try and rally the squad, but it was chaos. No one could see, hear, there was nothing but light and the screams of splintering beams beneath us. I couldn’t see anyone, they had all vanished into the brilliant white sun that burned at the heart of the ship, a beaming sun that tore it to ribbons around us.
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I took the last choice left to me. I hit the rail and leapt. Out into space, I fell and turned, watching the burning star blaze above me as I plummeted into the mists.
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I’ll never forget that day, or what the greenlanders did to keep us from victory. Cowards, one and all.

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