This was written as a response to a flash of momentary inspiration. It is probably not entirely canon, as Iyokus has never been posted on the Zodiac (a creation of the player Caileath), but it remains a ambition of mine to link him to the Convocation vessel. In this piece I am trying to illustrate in some small way the manner in which Iyokus fights, as I had recently been reminded of the savagery of the Kaldorei and I hoped to get that across. We also see a mention of Iyokus's fear of the seas and deep water. I like this story, perhaps merely because it is Iyokus at his most deadly.
…just try and sleep. That was the only way he had found that made the trips somewhat bearable. With all the crates stacked up around him, and the smell of casked wine he could almost believe he had holed up in some cellar. But only almost. Nothing could make him forget that scant yards below him the breathless, dark abyss yawned hungrily… Just try and sleep…
He didn’t look much like the stories – no hook, no eye patch, not a parrot to be seen anywhere. He wore high leather boots that clopped across the wooden deck. He was dressed in grey leathers that looked like they had been bleached that colour by the weather – almost to a kind of bone withering in the sun and wind. Bandoliers crossed his chest, pistols decorating him like unsightly mechanical tumors. He was Captain Ryon Telvarr. He was a pirate. It was a beautiful day in the Great Ocean. The stunning azure sky was interrupted only occasionally by wisps of white cloud and the sun beat lazily down in the two ships as a gentle warm breeze fluttered though the riggings.
‘Ah, the Zodiac,’ Telvarr said expansively, ‘free merchant vessel, belly so full of riches she sits as low in the water as a wallowing mudboar.’ He stepped one foot onto an upturned barrel and leaned on his knee, one finger waggling at the attractive woman stood before him, her hands bound by rope. ‘You know, it was I who almost had you off the coast of Stranglethorn, Miss Stormcrest.’ Sabarra narrowed her eyes at the grinning , handsome face of the Southsea pirate, ‘-Captain- te ye, pirate dog. And as your women must well know, Telvarr, almost is a long way from having.’ The grin disappeared and Telvarr nonchalantly leaned in to slap Sabarra across the face, the retort quickly swallowed up by the oppressive emptiness. Her crew, fiercely loyal to her, surged forward, shouting their outrage, but were quickly quelled by the sharp blades and hungry smiles of the freebooters who had conquered them. Telvarr soon resumed his magnanimous airs, and after a long, smug look behind him at his pirates he shrugged mockingly at Sabarra, ‘I suppose snide insults are all that remain to you wench. After all, soon I will be the captain of two vessels and you will be the captain of…none!’ He smiled cruelly and stroked her cheek, ‘Of course, you could have a, ah, place, in my crew.’ There was a spattering of leering laughs from the pirates and Sabarra spat at the grey-clad figure.
Telvarr grinned as he withdrew an incongruous handkerchief from his jacket and wiped his face, ‘Save that fight for later my dear.’ He turned to his crew, demenour shifting to hard-edged professionalism. He may have enjoyed his luxuries and have had the airs of a pampered noble – but Telvarr was also a pirate captain of many years. ‘Right you sorry lot, you know what needs doing – make sure this fat sow can float to Rachet. Botch! Hodges! You two go below and tally up our haul.’ The pirates scurried into action, the first mate shouting orders as the riggings were checked and the Zodiac’s crew subdued. A man and a woman scuttled forward, looking slightly more bookish than the other pirates, though the ugly cutlasses at their sides betrayed the limit of that distance. The woman, Botch, caught Captain Stormcrest’s eye as she passed her. The red-dressed captain shook her head gently, ‘I wouldn’t go down there if I was you.’ The woman stared at her for a moment, before Hodges nudged her in the ribs and the two laughed as they descended into the hold.
With the slap of the waves against the two ships and the grinding of wood on wood, no one on deck heard the annoyed growl from below and following scream was only an itch that caused the shaper of hearing to look up for a moment. Everyone heard the thunks of heavy footfalls coming up the stairs, so slowly, like the heartbeat of the great vessel herself. Without command or consensus, work grinded to a halt and all eyes turned to watch the dark portal which the two pirates had passed through not so long ago. The gasping preceded the footsteps and was followed by the slithering of fabric on rough wood. The world seemed to hold it’s breath as the hand appeared on the deck, fingers trying to dig into the grain as it gripped and pulled. Botch’s head came into view, wide eyed and pale, lips gibbering in a silent monologue. No one rushed to help her as she dragged herself into the sunlight, her legs dangling uselessly behind her, trailing a route map of blood. The thought that all could not help but think; what strength of will, what madness, would drive someone to drag their destroyed body up all those stairs to the light? However, as the footsteps came ever closer, it soon struck the pirates, as the shadow loomed massively in the doorway, that Botch was not struggling to somewhere – she was, in the only way she could, running away.
The shadow stepped across the border of darkness to light to reveal a night elf, body clad entirely in dark plate, his face contorted with seething anger. The long, thin, single-edged blade he held casually in one hand was already stained red. ‘Captain,’ he thundered. Telvarr stepped forward, ‘Who the f*%# are-’ The elf pointed at the pirate and said decisively, ‘Shut up, I am not talking to you.’ The unreality of the situation silenced the captain, and everyone winced as the sword dropped through Botch’s neck, the gasps abruptly cut off. The finger moved to point at Sabarra. ‘I told you I didn’t like being up on deck while we were sailing open sea.’ He glared at the woman who shrugged, her shoulders tense. ‘Sorry Iyokus, as you can see-’ Telvarr shouted, cutting Sabarra off, ‘Alright, now I’m pissed!’ He pulled a pistol from a holster and in one motion had cocked back the hammer and aimed it at the tall Kaldorei.
The lunge was perfectly executed, and with a twist of the elf’s powerful wrists the sharp-edged sword sliced through flesh and bone with equal ease and the pirate’s hand tumbled through the air, attached only to the arm by billowing strings of blood. Telvarr gurgled and fell to his knees, cradling his stump as pirates fumbled with their sabers and flintlocks. Iyokus attacks.
Much has been made by authors and bards of swordsmen moving like dancers, a poetry and beauty in their deadly motion. And it was certainly true of some swordsmen, and indeed, amongst the High Elves, and to a lesser extent their Sin’dorei children [magic being their discipline of choice, though some Blood Knights had continued the tradition], there were aristrocrats who had elevated their martial hobby into an art – the Sword Dancers of Quel’thelas. Stripped to the waist, these muscular and lithe artists would flow amongst their enemies, twin swords licking out to caress tendon, joint and artery. Like the philosopher, whose quiet logic and softly spoken words deconstruct his opposition’s arguments; like the courtier whose sharply targeted wit deflates his rival’s bluster, the sword dancer dismantles his foe with systematic flourish. The night elf was not like that. He destroyed rather than decimated. Where the dancer’s, with the freedom of nobility, had created an art from a trade, he, and the Kaldorei like him, had honed it, in millennia of toil and sweat, into a craft. He was the butcher, the woodsman, the hungry lion tearing apart his prey with practiced techniques. Where the sword dancer owned the moment between spaces, the breath of time before the lunge, after the slash, when thought had yet to become action – he conquered space, brushed aside action and dominated circumstance. A cutlass is caught in a gauntleted hand and viciously wrenched. The steel is good and the arm breaks long before the blade. The screaming body is thrown over the side.
He moves with all the precision of the dancers, though where they step lightly, twisting and weaving, he stamps and controls. He punctuates each hard movement with a breathy exhalation that could be a laugh or maybe exertion.
Hah…the sword tears along a pirate’s stomach, bowels tumbling to the deck with a wet smack…Hah...the return slice shears off the lower jaw…Hah…an upwards stroke opens a man from groin to chin…Hah…a plate covered boot stamps down on bubbling throat, ending the piteous whimpering…Hah…
The pirate crew are hardily thinking, this creature has come straight out of nightmare, and they throw themselves yelling into the fray only to stagger back clutching gaping wounds with tongues of blood that whisper pain. None thinks to threaten the crew, who has yet to move, they are frozen in place, shocked to silence not by beauty but by savagery. Endless seconds pass – a pirate with talent can only desperately block the same hacking stroke until a shift of stance and the sword slides noiselessly into his chest – and one pirate remains standing. She has already wet herself but does not run [there is no where to run] and readies her pistol. In her fear she shoots early and the ball screams off wide, clanging off the dreadful, gore stained blade, which drops from the elf’s hands. He does not stop coming and embraces the woman’s head and drops his own as if to kiss her. His forehead crushes into her face and her blood joins her brothers’ on his face. He pulls her head into the railing of the bow, wood that has withstood years of the ocean’s assault, wind and lightening, does not yield to her and she is pulped by its indifferent impenetrability. Iyokus retrieves his sword, the ancient metal unmarred by the bullet and stalks back down the length of the ship, carefully placed feet unmindful of the gore soaked deck. Captain Telvarr is not yet dead and is slowly reaching for another of his flintlocks with his one pale, quivering hand. He points it at the demon that has murdered his crew but before he can pull the trigger it is snatched from his weak grip. He has only a moment of staring into the barrel of his weapon before the ball explodes through his eye. He rocks in place before slumping forward as if in prayer towards his wrathful killer. A prayer ignored, for the elf does not spare the body a second glance.
After Iyokus had returned to the depths of the hold, a bear returning to hibernation, Sabarra exchanged a long look with her first mate, who just shrugged back at her as she untied the ropes binding Sabarra’s wrists together. She sighed, the burden of being captain meant always knowing what to do. A cough and then in a loud, confident voice. ‘Right! Volunteers to swab the deck?’