In the fairytale city of Orbis, situated high in the clear blue sky above the snow and the sea, a winged ship is docked in the harbour. The crew are preparing for take-off, and are distracted completely. Two figures emerge on the platform for ship, and sidle along the walls, steadily moving closer to the ship. The captain barks an order, and the crew releases the ship from the edge of the harbour, and it begins to float away. Seeing the opportunity to board the ship is slipping out of their grasp the two figures sprint towards the departing vessel and fling themselves into the air. They grab onto the side of the boat and haul themselves aboard, before sneaking below deck, completely unseen...
On the side of the platform that the ship just left from a sign is poking out of the stone. It reads ‘No passengers allowed’.
The winged ship soared through the crystalline clouds like a bullet from a gunslinger’s pistol. It was not going at a normal speed for that kind of ship, and even the stupidest of shrooms would have realised that something wasn’t right. Then, out of the clouds that had been brushed aside by the ships flight, emerged a large galleon that looked like it had be built in a graveyard. The hull was covered in bones, and it’s sails were ripped and torn, yet it still sailed on, as if powered by forces of the undead. It was chasing the other ship, and it was catching up...
‘Balrogs!’ A member of the fleeing ships crew shrieked out from the crows-nest.
There were six or seven people on board, and most of them were running around like headless turkeys. Even the captain of the ship, who was usually so calm in these kind of situations, was now sweating from under his bandana as he tried to outrun the Crimson Balrog’s vessel.
But it was too late.
The skeletal boat slammed into the side of the winged ship, it’s sharp prow ripping through the weak wooden hull and sending the mast crashing down. The man in the crows-nest was flung into the sky. At least he didn’t have to face the wrath of the Crimson Balrogs.
There was an unearthly silence. All the crew stopped running around and screaming. They knew they could not escape. They knew it was too late. Their ship was no longer flyable, and it wouldn’t be long before the demonic creatures began to feast...
A great roar resounded from the skeletal ship, and a winged demon smashed out the side of it, its wings beating faster as it swooped down towards the crew, who cowered behind the wreckage of the fallen mast. There was another roar, and then many more similarly threatening noises as the Crimson Balrog’s all disembarked their ship. The noise of the beating wings, combined with the snarls and grunts that the creatures made was deafening.
Suddenly, a trapdoor opened at the back of the ship, and a head popped up through it. The trapdoor lead to the hold, but no one realised there was anyone down there.
‘Could you please keep the noise down? Some of us are trying to sleep!’ The head spoke in an irritable voice, before plunging back down into the underbelly of the ship.
The Crimson Balrog’s looked at each other, confused by the interruption to their evil schemes. But this confusion was short term. In unison, the entire flock of Crimson Balrog’s let out a mighty roar that shook the very foundations of the already shaken boat.
‘Right, that’s it! I’m not going to stand for this!’ The head popped up again, but this time he hauled himself through the trapdoor, closely followed by another figure.
Both of them were men, and they wore the garments of adventurers, their armour worn from repeated monster attacks and their faces chiseled and grey, a sure sign of their experience on the field of battle. However that was where the similarities stopped as regarding the two men. One was a warrior; a large polearm slung across his back gave this away, but he also wore thick steel plates and had a helmet on his head with hair flowing down the back of it. He looked like he had just stepped out of a fairytale book although unlike fairytales his armour was not shining and there was no princess. Instead there was an assassin standing next to him. He was tall with a thin, wiry frame that looked like it would snap after just one thrown banana skin from a Lupin. Grey stars hung from his belt, and on his right hand was a large metal glove with scythe-like blades protruding out of it. Whilst the warrior relied on brute force it would seem the assassin was much more agile and quick with his attacks, or at least he would have to be if he wanted to survive against the Crimson Balrogs.
‘Who are you?!’ The captain of the ship barked, some of his bravery restored temporarily.
‘Kill now, talk later!’ The warrior shouted as he grabbed his polearm from behind him and looked to the sky. The Crimson Balrogs, despite being momentarily distracted by the emergence of the two adventurers, were now even hungrier, and they swooped down for a second assault on the flying ship.
‘Jeez,’ the assassin cried out, ‘I thought you said this journey would be the safest way back?’ He ducked away from a Crimson Balrog claw and spun around, flinging two stars back at the beast.
‘I didn’t count on Crogs, I can tell you!’ The warrior shouted back. He swung his polearm, which was adorned with red trim, around his head and caught a Crimson Balrog full-on in the chest. The monster recoiled backwards, before counter-attacking with a blow of its own.
Whilst the two adventurers held off the relentless attacks of the Balrog fleet the remaining members of the crew, succumbing to the terror, fled into the hold. The captain shook his head. How on earth would they survive? He didn’t even know where the two adventurers had come from, but he knew they were his only hope of saving his beloved ship, and his crew...