Legends of the Charter Vanguard – by Sparkiebrat

No one was sure what to make of the group coming through the Valley Gates of Kaineng City. They looked dirty, worn, and bloody, though the majority of that blood was not their own. They had fought for weeks, and they had obviously suffered some losses as well.

As they straggled on, their leader, Sizz, heard the only thing that could have made the situation worse-his own men. He heard Matt the Powerful begin once again the ongoing argument with Duke Mango; “Candy mint!”, as well as the inevitable reply from Duke Mango: “Breath mint!”

After listening to that conflict go on for six months, he knew that it was about to come to blows. As if the gate Guards weren’t edgy enough while they gave him the evil eye. Fortunately for him, there was also a flawless solution. Sizz turned to one of his Captains, Cain Briareus, who took care of the predicament with a word and a nod of the head towards his drill sergeant, Lulu.

Sizz had been unable to keep the smile from spreading across his face as he heard two thuds, then the sound of two bodies being thrown into the supply wagon.

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Two non-descript gentlemen stepped onboard the coastal runner “The Sea Cup”, eyeing the large crates covering the deck. They approached the captain of the ship as they quivered with fear. But, considering who they faced, that wasn’t much of a surprise. Tales were usually told of these three pirates only two different times, the first being when mothers wanted to scare their children into behaving; the other time when sailors spoke of the scariest times of their careers, and always in hushed tones.

The enigmatic Spirit Wanderer stood at the front of the ship with his first mate the Angelic Chibi, and the black skinned elementalist Mac Stormbringer, thinking all about the fine Deldrimor swords he had to sell.
Suddenly, a fireball went streaking at the buyers, as Chibi began to yell out, “They’re Kurzicks! Get ‘em! Now!”

A small army of eighty kurzick troops started rushing towards the ship, peppering the sails with burning arrows as they ran. The Spiritwanderer and his brave crew had managed to hold back the assault, but it had been obvious that it couldn’t last forever.

There was an odd yell; it wasn’t one of the nonstop yells of pain. It was a scream of terror as a Kurzick watched his dead friend get up off the ground and attack him, despite his burned off face.

The Kurzick commander, Du’lochass turned towards the screams. The thing that caught his attention, though, was the sight of the normally calm monk Talia yelling the Charter Vanguard creed, while the small twenty man company attacked the Kurzicks from the rear.“For Courage, Honesty, and Respect!”

Not to be outdone, (but nowhere near as politely), Chron screamed out, “I’m wielding a red Kurzick underpants!”

CV and the Sea Cup crew obviously did much better after effectively flanking the Kurz, but it was clearly a no-win situation, so The Spiritwanderer started yelling to Sizz to get his team and battle wagons onboard.

After CV boarded, and the boat left the docks, Sizz and The Spiritwanderer stood on the suddenly bustling deck, watching the Kurzicks try to get a few last futile shots in.

Turning to Sizz, The Spiritwanderer shook his head. “Who the devil was that guy, and what’s his problem?”

“His name is Du’lochass, he was probably buying these weapons to fight us. His loss.”

“Well, seeing as how the Ministry of Maintenance won’t be letting you back into town, where do you want me to drop you?”

With an angry glare in his eye, Sizz responded, “We’re going to Lion’s Arch to create some grief.”

Smiling evilly, Chibi overheard. “Ooo, my favorite thing to do.”

And they did, adding a naval contingent to CV’s already powerful teams.

Chapter 2
CV and the Ironbrows
As the brother and sister lead their charge at a full run, dogs bayed in the forest behind them. Reaching the ferryman at the river, the diminutive monk had a huge sapphire in her left hand, and a colossal scimitar almost as big as her in her right. “You take us across the river now, I’ll give you this gem. You don’t, and I’m gonna be REALLY pissed off.”

Several things happened at once: the ferryman started laughing at the tiny monk in front of him, the monk’s overly tall brother shook his head with a whispered, “Not now, Layla.”, and, with a quick overhead swing, she brought the sword down and cut a log in half.

Shaking and petrified, the old man started yelling at his crew. “You heard the lady, we’re going-NOW!”

The crew casted off as the hunters reached the river’s edge, the hounds still baying angrily at losing their prey, only half of the hunters actually alive.

The three fugitives were, later, leaning on the boat’s rail, as the river carried them downstream. Geffin Harris turned to his rescuers. “Tellarin, are we going to see Esther and Kaelin now?”

The kind elementalist rested his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Of course, Geffin, and I know for a fact that Kaelin will be there with a bow he made for you. He and I will even put an enchantment on it to make your arrows burn as they hit your target.”

“Don’t listen to him, Geffin. The last time my brother enchanted a bow, it sang ‘Danny Boy’ every time you shot it. Try sneaking up on a deer with that.”

“Shut up, Layla, you couldn’t hit a deer if it jumped in front of your arr-“ Tellarin abruptly stopped mid-sentence as he heard an unearthly howl that gave them all shivers.

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As Geffin, Layla, and Tellarin finally docked in Fisherman’s Haven, their youngest sister Esther came rushing up to them, not even giving the ferryman time to dock his boat. “What took you so long? Kaelin says the White Mantle is coming and they’ll have the village surrounded by tomorrow! We gotta hurry, Layla, or we’ll never get out of here!”
Layla angrily grabbed Esther’s arm. “Let me make this clear. I may be the shortest in this family, but I’M STILL THE OLDEST! I don’t CARE what Kaelin says. I have been stuck on this cold, wet barge for five days. I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I don’t know what smells worse- the cattle crap all over the deck, or the smelly guys shipping them down the river. I’m going to go to the bar, have a drink, eat some food, that ISN’T fish, and get some sleep!!!”

Tellarin chuckled to himself. “Have A drink? Riiiiiight. More like drink a keg- ow, Layla, that was my foot!”

Geffin just watched his small protector walk away in a huff and started laughing. This was all great fun to a nine year old that had been afraid for his life for a week and a half.

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As Layla sat at the bar drinking, her sister Violet walked into the room. Layla didn’t even have to look to pick up on this; every guy in the room stopped talking mid-sentence…. and a few of the women did too. A six-foot statuesque beauty can have that effect on a room.

“Layla, I can’t believe you can stomach that Dwarven sludge.” she sighed as she sat down next to her sister.

“Violet, if you’re gonna get drunk, don’t pussyfoot around with that Canthan rice wine crap, just get freaking plastered. Otherwise you’re wasting your time.”

Violet sighed again. “Layla, I worry about….. Ex-CUSE me sir, but I need you to take your hands off my $$.”
Layla handed her sister a rose as she pulled the huge scimitar slung across her back.

“Oh, c’mon lady, I can rock your WORLD!” He didn’t get much further than that before he fell to the floor, screaming about how monsters were going to get him.

“Layla, put away the sword please. We don’t need to kill the guy for copping a feel.” Benches across the room were knocked over as the other patrons got up to show the two women who ruled the bar. One gargantuan oaf in particular looked like he was ready to break them in half.

“Stop this NOW!” Everyone looked at the dark haired stranger by the door, and the large tiger crouched by his feet.

“These b****es cast some kind of spell on Leroy!”

“I’ll tell you what,” Kaelin answered calmly, “You pick your toughest fighter and I’ll let him go a round with my sister.”

The large, ape-like man stepped forward with an evil smirk aimed at Violet. “My pleasure.”

“Not her Carcinoma breath! Me!” Layla snapped.

Looking down at the monk, he laughed so hard that he began clutching at his side. “You’ve got to be kidding! I could sit on you and you’d be dead. Aside from that, you’re so drunk you can hardly stand.”

“That’s okay, Elephant-@$$, if you’re afraid, I’m willing to call it a draw.”

The oaf started turning red. “ELEPHANT-@$$! Outside! I’m gonna KILL you!”

Everyone headed outside and circled around the two combatants.

Layla adjusted her glasses as she warily eyed her opponent. Taking the offensive, he came at her with a fierce roundhouse which she didn’t even bother dodging. Her head whipped a little to the side as he started screaming in pain, clutching his mangled right hand.

She looked at him calmly. “My turn.” Faster than anyone could blink, she let into him with a dizzying series of kicks and punches. He swayed side to side as she jumped, spun, and dove around him, not letting him fall.

Finally, she stepped to the side, and everyone’s jaw dropped as the beaten giant fell to the ground.

The crowd still hadn’t moved when the three siblings walked away, followed by the tiger.
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“Get out of those bunks! On your feet, NOW!”

The blond warrior Kaelias Ironbrow took a poorly thrown boot to the chest.

“This isn’t the Ascalon army anymore, Kae, and stop yelling.” The rest of the family chuckled as these complaints came out whispered, and hungover, from the normally feisty monk.

“We’ve gotta move it NOW, Mantle’s here.”

That got everyone scrambling as Sean handed Layla a bottle of a foul-smelling liquid: the Ironbrow Family’s infamous hangover remedy. It would cure your hangover, but the cure was almost worse than the hangover.

The family surrounded Geffin in the town square, fully armed and armored, except for the youngest, Esther.

Tellarin looked around, concerned. “Where’s Esther?”

Kaelin responded calmly, “I sent her out with Kirran to scout for us, and harass the back lines if she gets the chance.”

“Are you sure she’s ready?”

“Yes, and she has Kirran and Prongs with her. She’ll be fine. Heads up, first wave coming in!”

As the Ironbrow Clan members headed into battle with a yell, Sean turned to the wide-eyed Geffin. “You ever play Capture The Flag?”

Geffin nodded his head.

“Well, kid, you’re the flag- don’t get captured. Don’t worry though, we used to play this all the time as kids. Ironbrow clan doesn’t lose.”Laughing to herself Layla smiled to herself “I aim to misbehave.”

The battle raged on fiercely with Kaelias and Bartack working flawlessly together. They would get themselves surrounded, then the Mantle would fall like stalks of grain under the sword and scythe of the brothers. Bartack screaming in rage, Kaelias almost silently slashing his way through.

Meanwhile, Kaelin and Tellarin were thinning out the mobs with a combination of arrows and flames.

Violet and Sean, possibly the most unnerving duo in the family, did not seem to be attacking. However, the Mantle couldn’t help but feel the debilitating pain and weakness that were their stock in trade.

Layla, meanwhile, just kept complaining and casting. “’Heal me, heal me!’ Just ONCE I’d like someone to heal ME while I get to beat the s**t out of the morons!

No matter how fierce the battle, the Ironbrows were still getting forced back. The Mantle was climbing over the bodies of their former comrades to get to the siblings.

Then a series of screams and the sounds of another fierce battle being fought on the left flank was heard. “Damn, Kaelin, what the hell did you teach Esther?” Layla asked an astounded Kaelin.

But the sounds of battle were interspersed with yells of, “Charter Vanguard!”

Esther and her new-found friends fought their way to the family’s side. Seeing this combining of forces, the White Mantle began to pull back and regroup.

A tall, pale, necromancer walked up to the family and extended his hand. “I’m Sizz, and this is the Charter Vanguard.” Layla returned the grip firmly, wincing at the cold hand.

“We’re the Ironbrows. Nice timing. We would have had them eventually, you know. They just didn’t know it yet.”

“I’ve never heard of the Ironbrow Guild.” Sizz responded. Tellarin, still shaking his head at his sister, answered, “We’re not a guild, we’re a family. I’m Tellarin, my older sister Layla, Violet and Sean, Kaelin, Kaelias, Bartack, and you’ve met our youngest sister Esther, obviously.”

Standing behind his Guild leader, the newly-appointed captain Atom piped up, “Damn, did your parents EVER come out of the bedroom?”

Nobody responded with anything besides a glare except from Deux Arn, who slapped him across the back of the head.

Getting things back on track, Sizz was about to ask the siblings about the grudge match with the White Mantle when he noticed the nine year old boy Geffin talking to himself.

“What, did he get hit in the head during battle or something?”

Bartack laughed. “Wait for it, wait for it…”

Then the White Mantle army surrounding the village started screaming, The members of the Vanguard turned pale at the screams of utter terror coming from the fleeing forces.

Zakuro Ghostbuster looked at the young boy with awe. “I’ve never seen anybody able to call and command that many spirits, let alone a little boy.”

Layla looked at her charge proudly. “He’s why we’re being chased by the Mantle. A prophet said he was a ‘ghost speaker’ that would bring down the White Mantle. We’re trying to get to Lion’s Arch so we can catch a ship to Cantha.” Tellarin took over narration at that point.

“There’s a monastery there that can teach him what he needs to know, as well as protect him until he’s older.”

Sizz grinned evilly. “Well, today’s your lucky day. The Sea Cup should arrive later today. I think it’s time for CV to head back to Cantha.”

^