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Tyg
05-18-2009, 05:04 PM
After Wilhelm was called to the Oath Protector's audience, we left the tables of Chobry and his men, and walked into the city. In the daylight, Elder Daven seemed not much more welcoming than our unpleasant night. Barren grey buildings and streets combined with the subdued few people to make parts of the city seem desolate. By day the city of Daven showed itself to be a great withered tree, whose heart was rotten and chewed by vermin, barely able to welcome the spring or stand against the winds. It was little wonder we met such resistance in arriving.

The Temple of Reeanan stood out amidst the dreary surroundings, its gleaming white walls warming and welcome as hot spiced cider in a chill autumn. Daven had perhaps some hope and strength after all, if those of the Temple showed the same brightness of spirit.

We were led into the temple, which was far brighter inside than I had expected. The arched roof and columns thrusting to the sky bathed in the morning light reminded me of an open clearing in an ancient forest. Solemn rows of robed acolytes--men on one side, women on the other--trod down the aisles of the Temple. I noticed Wilhelm and Ely both dropped deep into prayer soon after entering, while Walter looked on into the Temple with a solemn attentiveness.

It was not long at all before a... green human? No--a half orc--acolyte led us to the office of the Oath Protector Harnet. After greetings and respect, Wilhelm and Ely gave over the artifacts discovered at Beckenhausen. The Oath Protector asked about the dark ceremony we believed was performed, and about Ely's mother. We struggled to give more than the most basic of facts, as opposed to our speculation, which caused me some personal frustration. We had so little to go on now, while Silkie could be ever further away down a cold trail.

Our meeting was interrupted as the Oath Protector was required by another acolyte. While tempted to listen as I saw Walter and Brialla doing, my eye was caught instead by the striking icons and symbolism of Reanan placed around the Oath Protector's office. It might not have been very polite of me to try listening to that private conversation, anyway.

To my surprise, Chobry himself came in shortly after. He offered greetings to us all, and a flood of grievances against Daven's King Goderick. After seeing the city in day, and struggling through it at night, corruption surprised me almost not at all. I was surprised by the King's refusal to allow Chobry, or anyone but himself, to retrieve items and weapons that could purge the city its undead vermin. Apparently the King had little power to even attempt to retrieve such items on his own personal authority.

Chobry also spoke of having an equal claim to the throne of Daven, one that King Goderick assumed by personal will more than anything else. The dynastic disputes of claim meant little to me, though.

Finally, Chobry proposed that we, as a separate party from both the King's men and Chobry's, journey to the Stonewall Mountains and old Baron's castle. Collecting the items we find, we would return to Daven, and those of the Temple of Reanan and Chobry's forces would cleanse the undead horrors from the city. The Oath Protector assured us that she believed this to be necessary and just for the people of Daven, regardless of the rule of King Goderick. Goderick would upon success likely be deposed and replaced by Chobry's wife, we were told.

I thought we should attempt the venture immediately. None of us had any specific loyalty or oath to King Goderick, and it didn't seem as if his rule would prove either just or prosperous without defeating the walking dead that infested Daven. We had no particular loyalty to Chobry either, but we did owe him a debt of gratitude for his previous rescue. The Oath Protector's confidence in the notion absolved most other doubts I had. Even if we could not trust Chobry, the Oath Protector and Temple was surely a reliable force for good rule and justice in Daven.

Some of the others, particularly Walter, were much more suspicious of Chobry's intentions and ambitions. That said, we did not strongly disagree even including Walter, and ultimately we accepted the proffered task.

At the meeting, Ely also managed to ask about active cults of Graalsh. We did not learn much of local activity, but did learn of the rumors and reports that those in service of that dark god were gathering an army in secret. An army worth the name is not always the easiest thing to hide in the shadows, I thought. If this gathering army was connected to Silkie's disappearance, we might have a direction and area to search before too long.

After we accepted Chobry's mission for us, we moved with great speed to gather supplies for the journey from Daven's markets. The market stalls and shops had not much more color or welcome than the city itself, but they served our needs--for a tidy sum. We moved too quickly in purchasing our supplies to throw off any of those who might be interested in our destination, unfortunately. It would not have taken much guessing to arrive at our probable mission.

As we left the walls of Elder Daven, a mythril-clad man on a horse approached to question us about our journey. He had been watching us, and as I feared guessed quite correctly as to our target. The man, Keirol, claimed to be some sort of soldier of fortune, seeking treasure and adventure. This hardly satisfied any of us as to his intentions, especially after Ely was targeted that night, and our meeting with Chobry and the Oath Protector.

With Heshtail's guidance, Ely felt secure enough to allow this Keirol to travel with us at least as far as Beckenhausen. We would decide whether he should accompany us on the long journey to the Stonewall Mountains there. Chobry himself provided us with two of his own soldiers, who seemed capable enough, and fairly agreeable company.

Arriving at Beckenhausen, we dropped off supplies from the city, and discussed future plans. Ely was considering new plans for defensive works, and that took some time. We also had to consider what to do with our unexpected guest, Keirol. Like most everyone else, I wasn't comfortable with him suddenly joining our company, but after reasoned arguments by Walter, Ely and the others, we agreed it would be better to allow him to join us. I remain suspicious of his true intentions, but betraying us and setting out alone amid a countryside harboring scattered undead is probably not part of his plan. I doubt he would get far before we could track him down, at that.

Gathering and preparing our supplies and equipment for the journey, we informed Keirol of our decision and set off on the days long expedition. Beckenhausen had barely receded from the horizon behind us when we were abruptly assaulted by a pair of goblins. When they attacked Brialla, their monk training became rather evident. We struggled to defeat them both, as they showed extensive skill in their deadly arts. Being at a distance and to the side when they charged into our group, I loosed an arrow at the one targeting Biralla, the goblin with the red in his hair. It was a dangerous shot to take given how close our group was to the goblins. The arrow sped through its arc, and I watched with gritted teeth as it brushed a hair's breadth away from Brialla's ear. It found its mark in goblin hide soon enough, and Wilhelm's divine favor reduced our red-haired opponent to dust. The other fell under our blades soon enough.

Wilhelm and Ely tended to our wounds, and we looked over our fallen enemies before setting out again on the road. The setting sun brought a dilemma for the humans among us. Should we rest for the night, and accept the risk of attack? Or should we attempt to continue through the night and rest when the sun rises again? It was little hope to find a secure place to sleep--there was no running water I or the others knew of nearby, and few other options. The humans resigned themselves to a sleepless night, and resolved to carry on.

As the sun set, we stepped off and walked our horses. Better to keep our weapons to bear, and simply to guide our steps. Those without eyes of the Elhan walked in the middle of our group, as Rana and Brialla led us forward, and I watched our backs. The night turned quite dark, for there was no moon, and the stars glittered and provided some direction and time along the road.

The night had not long descended when a human figure approached, shambling unsteadily each step. It came closer, and revealed itself to be a ghast, the rotten stench preceding it. The thing groaned out a question that Rana answered with a sickening blow from his quarterstaff. The smell was not improved by the impact.

Stars wheeled slowly overhead for a time before three figures in the distance appeared before us. As the distance closed, Ely urged us to hold our ground. A rattling sound rose, and the figures became clear. Two skeletons of owlbears, and a stumbling ghast. Brialla launched the first blow, and the arrow sped true, lodging itself in one of the owlbears' ribs. The vile monsters closed to melee, and we drew our weapons to engage. Their attacks were clumsy but brutal. Walter took a thudding blow from one of the skeletons, and crumpled to the ground. In my shock and rage, I nearly attacked with my sword instead of mace. The combat was rough and chaotic in the darkness, but the walking dead were finally stilled. Wilhelm carefully examined Walter, and we gave thanks to find he was still alive. Some effort at healing left our sorcerer in condition enough to walk again.

Finally, dawn was near at hand. Amid the weakening darkness, we approached a lone cabin by the road. We stopped to investigate only for a moment, but that was more than enough for the humans to succumb to the sleep they'd been denied. Rana stayed to watch over our slumbering friends while Brialla and I approached the cabin. Unfortunately, I could have been quieter and more attentive. I did not initially see Brialla's encounter with the vampire on the other side of the cabin, but I heard the shouts well enough to draw my silvered longsword. Still a distance away, I watched in horror as Rana and Brialla nearly attacked one another before gaining control of themselves. I slashed at the creature as soon as I approached, and fortunately it was unable to disappear as it had moments ago. This seemed to draw its attention to me, and with surprising speed charged at me. The vampire struggled with me, and I felt a sudden pain. The vile thing bit through, tasting my blood. It must have been mere seconds, but I felt life flow out with my blood as it fed on me. There was a cold, enervating weakness in that moment. It broke off, or I pushed it away, I do not now remember. Brialla and Rana continued with their blows upon it, but by then the humans were woken. Keirol slashed at the animated corpse with his flaming sword, and I could hear Ely's groggy shouts. The vampire was engulfed in flame, but before it could flee, Rana dispatched it with a final kama strike.

With the humans awake, we determinedly sought to enter the cabin. Ely tore open the boarded-up door to do so. Luckily there were no traps. There were several items of interest in the cabin and amid the vampire's ashes, but these were not of great interest to me. The coffin inside the cabin was deeply so. Taking vials of oil and carefully pouring the right amounts on the wooden walls of the cabin and the vampire's coffin, a strike on the flint sent the smallest of sparks that grew into an inferno. Watching the raging fire as the sun slipped above the horizon, the pain of the vampire bite faded away.