Hey, I'm the lead writer for the Vektor Productions crew, a multinational team working to create a Minecraft RPG experience. We're opening up recruitment soon and as part of that process, we're starting to open up and show some of what we've been working on. If you'd like to apply beforehand, you can PM me with some examples of your work and other important information. We need coders, writers, builders, voxel snipers, everything... so if you're good at what you do you have a fair shot of getting in.
I decided to release this little story that I'd been working on for fun, it's set during an important war in the history of our server, the River War. Sadly copy-pasting it from Google Docs to the Minecraft Forums has messed with the formatting a bit and these forums don't seem to support indentations. You can click here to view it in its original format.
Be sure to comment on the story and tell me if you like it, I have six chapters written so far and if it's liked I'll be releasing them in the next couple weeks. (There will be fight scenes!)
Thanks, and remember to be on the lookout for the Vektor Crew in the near future.
tl;dr: If that was tl;dr, you're ****ed for the rest of it.
1 - On Board the Creak
(There is a pronunciation guide at the bottom).
It was early in the morning and the Creak's crew had not yet risen from their bedding. The Tynor river and surrounding landscape were quiet but for the occasional cry of a forest beast or the chirps of birds just beginning to rise from their nests. The silence was broken by shouting as a warship glid up alongside the moored Tyestian ship. “Halt! We are here on the nobility’s orders! Pay no less than three tenths of your cargo, or you will not continue South!”
Raimeth was awoken by the cries on the decks above. Caish tax collectors, out to rob his ship blind most likely. They had been getting more dangerous, of late. As he threw on his tunic and quickly belted his trousers, he reflected on recent history. Ever since Caisthorne’s worthless nobility had realized that they could make money stealing cargo from his countrymen, tax collectors had been a constant thorn in his side. Of course, in the past, there was the occasional taxing at port, or search of his cargo for contraband... but in recent months, the nobility had become more persistent. Already he had heard the stories; summary executions on the very decks of men he had known as friends. The Mariners had just begun posting troops on ships traveling South. The captain had not accepted their offer for protection. He didn’t regret his refusal. Raimeth was young, for a captain. Only halfway through his third decade, he had worked his way to owning the Creak through cutthroat business, clever saving and, most importantly for him, luck. His features were soft by Tyestian standards, and his face sported a goatee and moustache; strange in Tyeste, where bare faces were the norm. He was built powerfully, of course, as all sailors are.
The trade ship captain stepped into his boots and quickly moved towards the ladder that led to the ship’s upper deck. There was no need to wake the crew, they wouldn’t have been much use anyways. As he was walking towards the first of several ladders spaced throughout the ship, he saw a man rising from his bedding. “Woah there, crewman. Don’t get up—leave this to your old captain here. It’s better that way, trust me.” Raimeth’s general lack of respect for others would have been unacceptable were he not an officer. In fact, it hadn’t beena good idea when he wasn’t an officer—he’d had his share of beatings. But in any case, he needed to keep his crew off the top deck. He didn’t want to spook the flighty Caish sailors. That reminded the captain. “Actually, I do need you, crewman.” The crewman voiced some insignificant protest or another but Raimeth had no time for those. “No, I don’t know your name, you can tell me later. You’ve slept enough, I saw you napping yesterday. Get up. Make sure nobody comes to the top deck. Keep everyone out of sight unless the Caish come looking for you. Don’t start any fights.” After he saw that the crewman was, in fact, getting up to carry out his orders, Raimeth continued towards the nearest ladder. When he reached the top deck, he saw a light warship flying both the red and gold standard of Caisthorne, and a smaller flag embroidered with the insignia of their Lord. He was glad to see that the Caish swine had not yet boarded his ship. Instead, a man wearing armor—cheap, by Tyestian standards—called out to him.
“I am Mekeil Kirston of Lord Cairan’s Army. I order you to wake the captain of your ship and bring him to me at once!” The impetuous man seemed pretty proud of his place in the military of a backwater Caish noble. Raimeth responded with equal ceremony, saluting in that strange, hand-to-head way that the people of Caisthorne loved so much, “I am Raimeth Aireous, the captain of this vessel, the Creak. Why have you woken me, Mekeil Kirston of Caisthorne, honorable servant of Lord Cairan?” There was a trace of sarcasm in his grand introduction—just a trace, he wouldn’t want the humorless Caish to know he was openly mocking them. He already knew the answer to his question, of course. The Caish nobles had been plain-faced in their desire for Tyestian coin. Really, he was only trying to waste the Caish man’s time. There was nothing of value on the Creak. At least, nothing that the Caish collectors would consider valuable. The tradeship was a glorified stagecoach, if anything. Mekeil responded predictably, giving the answer that he had already woken Raimeth with several minutes beforehand. “We have come to collect taxes on your ship’s cargo! Three tenths you owe us, or you shall not continue South!” The man sounded self-assured, protected by his flimsy plate and mail. Raimeth had not denied the Mariners’ protection out of imprudence. He had denied it because he had been offered better. His cargo was not gold, nor was it weapons, nor armor nor spices nor lumber. His hold was stocked with Tyestian Devils; the Republic’s elite, and his job was to transport them as far South as he could. In a way, it was the perfect deal: cargo and security, in one package. And they were paying him. A lot. Once they got off his ship, he had no idea what they would be doing. However, he knew one thing for certain: if the Devils were operating this far South, it meant war. “Come aboard, then, Mekeil Kirston, servant of Lord Cairan, see for yourself what cargo I have! Tax me as you see fit!” He continued the exaggerated formality that seemed to so please the Caish sailors. Of course, the leader of the sailors, who was Mekeil apparently, was not quick to trust Raimeth. The acceptance was too sudden, the openness not entirely genuine. No Tyestian trader would accept taxation from Caish nobles so readily. It was quite a while before a boarding crew was ready to enter Raimeth’s ship and begin robbing him. They had expected the “negotiations” to last far longer than they did. Of course, for all their general lack of worth, the Caish were nothing if not greedy. They overcame their earlier mistrust and boarded the Creak. Raimeth spread his arms in welcome. “Search all you like, men of Caisthorne. Take what I owe you and leave me in peace.” Caish really weren’t good with sarcasm, he thought as they nodded at him respectfully. The Caish sailors would, of course, not take only what Raimeth owed them and in the days following their departure many items were found to be missing. The Caish sailors, after searching through the Creak's five holds gathered the arbitrarily taxed goods in crates on the top deck. The armored man with whom the captain had spoken earlier walked up to him, hoping to have a final word before making off with his “taxed” goods. “Captain, I would like to personally thank you for your... openness with us. Most ships from your country are not so easily taxed. I’ve lost several men in the past weeks just trying to collect what is rightfully owed to us. Good day, sir.” A lesser man than Raimeth would take the man’s words as genuine. Mekeil turned and, signalling his men, transferred the crates back to the warship. As the Caish ship sailed off to the North, probably to rob more trade ships—luckily there were very few of those in Basque’s season—one Caish sailor said to another, “The sarcastic ******* must think we’re idiots, he—” Mekeil Kirston cut him off. “We’ll stop him again later... and search far more aggressively than we did this time. Have his ship watched from the shoreline, some of those men looked out of place. I don’t like this, Koren.” At least the so-called impetuous Caish soldier knew the names of his crew. Raimeth did not hear the conversation—the wind was blowing Northwards, and the warship was too far away. In the days to come, he would wish that he had.
The Creak was soon alone again on the waters of the Tynor River, but the silence and laziness of the morning had already been broken. The Creak’s crew, woken by the Caish sailors’ rough search of the ship, began preparing the ship to continue its journey South. Within the hour, the Creak's moorings were drawn up and the sails were opened for another day of travel. The ten Devils whom Raimeth had been charged with transporting had disguised themselves as men of his crew. To any experienced sailor their lack of expertise was obvious but, to the untrained eye of the average peasant or generally incompetent Caish soldiers the Devils fit right in. It would be only a few more days before they would disembark the ship. Raimeth did not know their mission and, despite his great curiosity and wealth of questions on the matter, the Tyestian elite did not give him any answers. He couldn’t blame them; they were risking their lives on what was, to his knowledge, a mission deeper into foreign territory than any in his lifetime.
Raimeth dispelled his thoughts and refocused on the matter at hand: he needed to get those men as far south as he could. The next few days would be dominated by a flurry of activity dedicated to that one goal. However, on the third day, as they rounded a bend in the river, a problem arose; a chain had been drawn across the Tynor River. No ship taller than thirty feet could pass under it. The chain was massive, each link nearly three feet in width. It was caste of iron, by the looks of it. The Caish did not make good metal. They heated the ore too long, they didn’t use clay correctly in forging—Raimeth was no blacksmith, but even the most brittle of iron is near-impossible to shatter if plated thickly enough. If any ship were to have tried to ram through it, the chain would certainly have cut it clean in half. With that chain across the river, no ships would be able to pass. “Damn, damn damn. Stop the ship! Turn her about! Drop the anchor! To the oars, men!” Raimeth loudly shouted orders to his crew—if they waited much longer the ship would be impossible to save. The Creak moaned, as the combination of dropped anchor and rarely used oars worked in tandem to pull the ship from its doom. The captain oversaw his men at work and, occasionally, lent a helping hand. Before long, the ship had been stopped and he was free to head down into the belly of the ship and deliver the bad news to the agent of his employer. Raimeth approached the leader of the Devils—they had not shared their names—belowdecks and saluted, fist-to-chest in the Tyestian fashion. “Sir, we can’t continue South. A chain’s been risen across the river—if we try to go through it we’ll lose the masts!” The captain’s usual sarcastic tone had been replaced by a sense of urgency. The leader of the Devils, old by military standards, saluted Raimeth back and responded, “We are aware of the problem, Captain. Thank you for transporting us this far.” He was more than a little dismissive.
Wondering if he would be needed further, the captain asked, “do you need anything else?” Raimeth didn’t like being dismissed, but he was getting paid a lot to take them on a fairly short journey. “No, we will depart at nightfall. Moor the ship, tell your men that they have the rest of the day free. Turn back North when morning comes and see Senator Taerus when you reach Este.” “What of my payment? What proof shall I bring to Taerus of my work? “Your safe return will be proof enough that you have carried out your comission.” Raimeth was not one to leave such things to chance. “I’m afraid that that isn’t good enough sir. I’ve been promised thrice what I would make in a year to bring you South. I need something to prove to the Senator that I’ve carried out my commission in good faith.” The Devil sighed, not interested in continuing the pointless argument. “Very well, captain. I will give you a sealed letter to bring to Senator Taerus before we depart.” “Thank you, sir. I will see to it that you and your men leave in secret.” Raimeth turned and left the man to his preparations. The Devils’ weapons and armor had been hidden in the crawlspace below the ship’s hidden fifth hold; sometimes the searches for contraband at port were not entirely without reason. Their signature red cloaks had been left in Este—they would have been too easy to spot in Caisthorne’s wilderness. When Raimeth reached the upper deck of the Creak, he saw his crew milling about, uncertain of what to do next after spotting the chain. He called to them, giving them newfound purpose. “Men! Moor the ship by the riverside, you are free to do what you like for the rest of the night. Break out the fine ale for supper. I expect several wild cows by nightfall!” With a cheer, his men set to work maneuvering the tradeship to the edge of the river, drawing the sails and, most importantly, anchoring the ship so that it would not drift off in the night. When all was done, several of the Creak's crew set out into the forest bordering the shore in search of game. The rest busied themselves with games of dice or swimming in the cool waters of the Tynor river. At least, those who were not Devils in disguise.
The men who had so far disguised themselves as his crew made preparations in the belly of his ship. There, they sharpened blades and oiled armor, preparing for the mission that would begin come nightfall. Raimeth did not know what they would set out to do, but he could plainly see that it would be a bloody business. Several Devils were praying.
Their leader stood before his men and before he could even begin his speech, all work had stopped and all eyes were on him. “Men, the fat Caish pigs thought they could starve Tyeste into submission. They thought they, the roots, could starve the grand tree that grows atop them.” “‘Thought,’ being the operative word. They thought they could starve Tyeste. But the Caish nobles, fat on their thrones and the fools who choose to serve them forgot one thing. They forgot us, men, they forgot the Devils.” A cheer almost began among the leader’s men, but he pressed on with his speech. “The Caish threatened our Senate with chains. They threatened to close this river—cut off our trade routes. They thought they could wreck our whole country.” The leader stood, casually pacing across the room as he continued with his impromptu speech. “The Senate has sent us down into this lovely backwater to make sure that any attempts to halt trade on the Tynor river are... unsuccessful. That chain is an attempt. We’re here to make it fail.” There was no cheer, only attentiveness as the leader’s men waited for him to continue. His next words dashed any hopes for a long, articulate speech. “There’s nothing more to say. Get ready, we leave at nightfall.” The men returned to their preparations. As the day wore on, the steady sound of sharpening steel and clinks and clanks of armor being cleaned and oiled would stop and be replaced with silence. The Devils waited in silence for night, and their mission, to arrive. On the upper deck, Raimeth sat and watched as the sun slowly set. Many of his crew had taken to napping in the warmth of the day and, on the shore he saw several crewmen preparing the carcasses of wild cows, caught in the forest, for roasting. Several large trees had been felled, sawn and laid across the riverside as makeshift tables. Before the Captain could begin the festivities, one of the men who had disguised themselves as a member of his crew walked up to him. In his hand was a letter, which he discreetly handed to Raimeth. Before a conversation could begin, the Devil left the Captain and returned to the hold, to await departure with his brothers in arms. Raimeth was not too troubled by the elite warrior’s silence. The trade ship captain stood, as nightfall came close. He again broke his crew’s silence and general aimlessness with a shout. “Men! I see those cows are ready to roast! Roll out the kegs, we’re going to have a feast!” As Raimeth’s crew poured off the boat to ready the night’s feast and continue the festivities, the Devils slipped off the boat as well. They were hardly missed in the mad dash for ale and meat. As his crew charged the bonfires, Tyeste’s elite slinked off into the woods. They would not be missed until morning.
The captain saw the Devils leaving and heaved a sigh of relief. His part in their journey was finished. All he had to do now was journey back North and retrieve his payment. He hoped they could complete their mission. Otherwise, he thought, things would soon be getting pretty bad back home in Este.