Crusader Days and Knights

Neighbors, Part 3

A storm cometh.

An overcast morn, windy and damp. During the day the villagers go about daily chores in and around the village and castle. As the day passes more and more villagers leave the shire and head to the castle to take shelter from an evil that lurks at night.

The Heroes of Glastonbury inquire with Anlyth when the Wraith might be at its weakest. Anlyth explains in short that elf lords are very powerful magically. They gain power through circles of influence, not heredity. He diverges onto a tangent explaining …”that though intelligence is related to magical prowess there is no direct link.” He further expounds that “After death, if the elven ritual of internment is not performed, an insatiable revenant returns. They are described to have more power in darkness and in fact will not walk in the light.” He suggests to leave when the sun has the highest potential of daylight. Anlyth also explains in further detail the elf lord’s inability to track them outside of his hovel, but warns that his soul-bound Rathorn was entombed with him, and can track very well. It all depends on how deep their conjugation and who holds the dominance; elf lord or Rathorn.

Anlyth conveys his gratitude, wishes them prosperity and takes his uncomfortable leave.

Later in the day the weather remains uncooperative, rain with the expectation of heavy storms into the eve. Laurent comes to a decision to stay behind and entertain the shire, telling stories to the people of Pembroke of various events in their new world and performing songs of the deeds of the Heroes of Glastonbury.

In private the Earl of Pembroke meets with Gideon after dinner and expresses his interest in this new land. “In this new land, the strong could seize much.” The earl exhorts that he knows who Gideon is, asking if he like is father before him is a usurper. The Earl presents a roll of parchment to Gid and suggests that Gideon is a “troublemaker” and further cautions that he, THE Earl, is better fit to rule than some upstart like himself. Gideon responds assuring the earl that he “doesn’t know what he heard” venting it to rumor. Gideon crumpled up the note, and threw it in the fire, repeating that he “doesn’t know what the earl heard”. The earl said that he “considers the matter currently closed.” Gideon leaves brooding, and decides to keep first and third watch.

Dark and dreary into the night the guards stood fixed upon the walls of Castle Pembroke. The night was quiet. Sounds of Laurent’s music and voice mixed with the occasional cheer carried up into the breezy night. The familiar sounds helped to ease the tension and fear that hung upon the somber faces gazing into the gloom. Upon second watch there came a ghastly wail washing over the land from the north. The alarm bells were raised. And the castle stirred into action.

Sebastian whisked to the watchtower, and spied a mounted figure atop of Harlow Hill to the north. Lightning flashed and boomed over Pembroke and flashed again. Overhead bolts of blue lashed out crashing into the mounted silhouette in the distance. Its sword raised high reaching to the heavens drawing the lightning into it.

When the torrential fulmination subsided, a high pitched keening sound emanating from the figure followed, increasing in volume. It was the sound of something self-confident and angry. Something filled with hate and violence. The sound caused a multitude of reactions behind the walls of the castle. Most dropped their weapons to cover their ears and cower. The truly brave stood firmly against the blaring cry. Fin standing on the ramparts was able to hear through the wail to discern a challenging voice rising up from the figure. The voice vexed him filling him with fury. Fin beheld that Stefan next to him on the wall, was enthralled with this acrimony, yelling and chanting as well. Anlyth joined them armed with rapier, sweat dripping from his face and said “this bodes ill for all, that which you hear is a Rathhorn war cry, ready to do battle against what it deems an enemy."

The Rathhorn and its death-like rider galloped resolute through the shire, sword still in hand riding to the castle wall. The mount appeared a spectral white with hardened natural armor covering its body. A hefty single horn jutting from its forehead. Its rider shouts at the castle, bellowing that he will be back on the morrows eve proclaiming “The gates of the castle must be opened for my return. All must depart or suffer my cleansing fire.”

An unsteady calm returns to the night and the castle occupants return; some to their posts, others to bed in attempt at rest and sleep.

The Heroes gather early the next morn after breaking fast and morning prayers. Heinrich musters a small group of Templars to join them. They set off when all are prepared. The quiet grim shire looks upon them with both awe and fear, drawing crosses from head to chest and shoulder to shoulder. Anlyth gifted Content Not Found: null and Gideon potions to take before they get to the burrow.

When getting close to the burrow, they came across a small group of orcs, 5 wolf riders and 6 shaman, all looking, gesturing heatedly at the tomb entrance, and speaking frantically in Orcish. As the heroes drew closer, one of the orcs made a sign suggesting parlay. Fin stepped forward to speak to him; the Orcs make fun of the elves’ magic and say that Orc spirit magic is superior and must be used to bind the apparition to the burrow, though they admit it takes time. Fin explains that they have a plan to do it, and shows the Elven bag to the shaman. The shaman guffaws and says that it’ll be good only for a week! But hesitates that it should give them enough time for his shamans to bind the creature again to its ill-fated home.

Fin asks if he can come with the shaman after he’s done. The orc held up his hand indicating the number three: he must impress, he must accomplish the mission, and walk out of the burrow alive. Finn says that he’s not afraid, the orc shaman says that he fails – spirit magic is driven by true suffering. Finn explains that “the priests of man are whipping themselves, praying to give strength to us.” The orcs are impressed after all, and ask Fin if he wants to partake in the cleansing of the elves after this, since he has proof that the humans have souls of steel. While he translates to the heroes Fin says that they will think about it.

The orc pulls out a bottle and hands it to Luc who smells it and declines with a skeptical smile. Heinrich is intrigued by it and takes a swig of the strong drink. It proves too powerful for him; he gags and retches its foul contents, though feels somewhat strengthened. Fin, feeling proud also takes a pull from the rank bottle and manages to keep it down, the muscles in his neck and arms ripple, bulge, and harden.

The group together with the orcs approach the borrow entrance in a half moon. Nine grotesque rotting men, foul to the smell burst from the entrance and charge at the assembled heroes. The team takes a couple hits and Stefan ends up with a broken arm, the rest of the group do valiantly and defeat the enemy of nine.

As the skirmish had ended and the final foe has fallen, Stefan dropped his shield, picked up his sword, turned to Gideon and swung with hatred. He let out a guttural growl that seemed all too unlike him. The group rallied to subdue Stefan as Heinrich knocked him off his feet. Heinrich ordered the Templars to sit on him as a means of restraint.

The group made a large fire, and Heinrich lit a torch. One of the orcs joining the group slugged down a potion, belching loudly before lining up to head in. Heinrich lead the way with the party right behind. He faced something at the moment of entry, a large armored warrior standing mightily masked with a great horned helm. Heinrich took a blow on the side before backing out, staring at his icy frostbitten gash.

The group changed tactics and Gideon charged into the burrow with Fin pushing him from behind. Followed immediately by Luc and Sebastian, and two orcs. The darkness swallowed them. Gid slammed into the creature as the others tossed torches deeper into the tomb. The apparition vanished immediately upon the impact. Gideon and Fin were affected by some hexing sorcery weakening them, but they pushed on. As they pressed forth towards the inner door they heard baying out, the abhorrent war cry of the undead Rathorn. The creature postured heavily toward them and attacked thrashing out with hoof and maw.

As Gideon and Fin engaged the beast in battle, Sebastian made for what he judged to be the most sensible of three doorways the wraith may have fled. Sebastian bolted through the esoteric door frame with Luc scrambling to catch up.

In the next chamber the two discovered the wraith as it rose from a cold forgotten funeral pyre. It swung its massive helmed head toward the two and focused its cold gaze upon Sebastian. That very moment Sebastian, bag in hand, tossed Anlyth’s packet at the phantom. It let out a malicious shriek and chaos erupted in the dark hovel. Sebastian was beguiled by this wraith, along with Gideon and one of the barbaric Orcs.

Finn invoked the Almighty praying to bond with the Rathhorn to control it. His lack of divine favor failed, and he too bent to its malignant will. Fin turned upon his friends and lashing out launched his spear at Heinrich. Heinrich was able to dodge, then kill the bewitched orc companion. In his bewitched state Gideon turned directly to Heinrich and attacked, Heinrich parried with a flourish of his blade.

The wraith struggled to move but found it was fixed in place. Sebastian, under the wraiths command, tried to grab the enchanted packet and run. Luc intercepted him grabbing Sebastian from behind. Sebastian found the muscular arms and skilled grapple impossible to reprieve. Luc hauled Sebastian out of the chamber kicking and screaming. Sebastian breaking free of the wraiths will, continued to argue with Luc trying to convince him to go and grab some of the treasure. Luc almost swayed, decided that Sebastian’s safety was more important than foreign trinkets coveted by the undead. He carried him on, retreating out of the hovel to safety.

While Heinrich and Fin were still engaged in battle, Gideon snapped out of his enthrallment and turned his attention toward Fin. Gid tried to save Fin, subduing him rather than allowing Heinrich to kill him. Heinrich kneed him in the groin and took Fin down, knocking him unconscious. Grasping Fin by the arms, the group continued its calculated retreat out, and returned to the Orc shaman.

The shaman used a spell to wake Fin. Seeing that his eyes were still red, one promptly knocked him out returning him to a stupefied state. The heroes took their leave of the barbarian witchmen and returned to Glastonbury to perform an exorcism on Fin.

The combined skills of Brother Robert and Anlyth along with the waning will of Fin, were able to salvage what they could of his mind. They freed Fin of the will of the Rathorn and with rest, proper food, and prayer he was on the road to recovery.

A message came to Glastonbury. The earl of Pembroke had come to a decision – he is going to tear down the wall around the abbey and ship the stone up to the village of Pembroke so they can have a wall around the shire. Laying claim also to his royal status in this new world.

Comments

This is really great stuff! And I KNOW how hard it is to write this sort of thing.

Neighbors, Part 3
BearerOfTidings

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