PRELUDE TO ADVENTURESilence descended the graveyard as the companions regrouped to assess their situation. It had only been a few hours since they had left the Wayward Inn. It was at Darius’s insistence that they had come to investigate the graveyard.
STARDAY, 01 - MOONDAY 003: NEEDFEST (MID WINTER) 579CY
STARDAY, 01 - MOONDAY 003: NEEDFEST (MID WINTER) 579CY
According to the druid he had stopped at Tarrick’s cottage on the way into the village before passing the graveyard. It was here that his mule had started to neigh and buck at the reigns he was holding. The animal had refused to go any further. The old druid had to calm the animal with soothing words. He walked the animal some distance off, before he could tether the animal to a tree. It wasn’t long after that, that the druid had found the open grave and from the looks of it, something had clawed itself way out. Tracks lead of into the darkness of the muddied graveyard; wet from the winter slush. It was now a matter of urgency that he found Tarrick.
The young ranger sat propped up against one of the tombstones, his face contorted in obvious pain.
The older of the companions, Darius moved forward to take a look at Markus’s injuries. The old druid informed the young ranger that it was just a matter of putting the dislocated shoulder back into place.
The companions were all on edge, worried that the assassin might still be in the darkness ahead or of the chance of fighting more undead.
The dwarf and the half-orc scanned the area ahead. The old druid took hold of Markus’s arm, “Bite on this if the pain is too much,” offered the old man, giving the young man a bit of wood. Markus had received some healing from Brother John earlier; and the magic had already started to mend his wounds. It was the first time he had received healing from a priest in this manner; and it would take some getting used too. His right side of his body had sustained most of the injuries when he had fallen down the shaft behind the altar.
He had run seeking cover from the assassin that had fired upon them as they had approached the altar. It was the same person that had fired on them, pinning them down behind the low stonewashed wall of the graveyard.
Tarrick leaned heavily on a tombstone, where Brother John rested. Both he and the priest of St. Cuthbert had been injured during the attack. Tarrick gripped his stomach as he recalled how the creature had just about disembowelling him with its claws. The rotting corpse had risen from the ground, the stench of death hung in the air. They had gone to investigate the graveyard on the outskirts of the village, close to his cottage. It was the same graveyard that he had given blessings over the night before. Brother John had also been injured; he had been shot in the back, the bolt piercing his left shoulder. The bolt had been fired from the cover of darkness while they had been battling the undead. The tip of the bolt had been treated with acid, as Erehwon realised pulling the bolt from the priest shoulder. Both Brother John and Tarrick were too weak to continue and needed rest.
John and Tarrick would return to the healer’s cottage. There they would rest and wait for the companions to return from the crypt below the shrine. If they should not return within a few hours they would leave for the village to warn Lord Roderic of the threat and seek help.
Duerin thoughts drifted back to the sign that had manifested itself in the graveyard during the fight with the undead. The sign had appeared in the middle of the graveyard. He alone could see the greenish, blue pentagram that illuminated the darkened graveyard beyond.
Markus had taken refuge behind the altar; he would later learn that the ranger had found a shaft leading to a tunnel below.
Erehwon had taken refuge with the priest behind one of the larger tombstones after the priest had been shot. Darius had cast a spell to summon mist to hide their position so that the assassin could not target them as they made their way to their friends; unfortunately Darius was not within the area of effect. It was at this moment that he had moved along the low stone wall, crouching as he moved to get a better look for their assailant. The moment he cleared the summoned mist is when he saw the pentagram aglow in the centre of the graveyard.
His first instincts had told him it was a sign of Iuz the old, but now he wasn’t so sure. There was something familiar about the pentagram, something he had read. There was a symbol that appeared in the centre of the pentagram, a symbol of an eye ablaze with fire.
Erehwon peered into the darkness, brandishing the oak branch before him. He had used the oak branch as an effective weapon against the undead that had risen from the ground earlier. He had felt no urge to tackle these creatures with his dagger, how he wished he had brought his axe along …
“Markus, on the count of three I am going to put your shoulder back into place, ok? Ready! 1 … 2 …,” Darius informed the young man before him. Markus merely nodded, biting down on the bit of wood the druid had given him. “1 … 2 …,” the ranger cried out in pain. Spitting the wood out, he spoke out in anger, “What happened to three? You said on the count of three! Not two …. Three!” “How is the shoulder? Better?” enquired the druid with a smile. He got up to go tend to Brother John and Tarrick at the nearby tombstone.
Moments later the small group escorted the injured Tarrick and Brother John to the outskirts of the graveyard. Erehwon a few paces away felt ill at ease, he and the dwarf watched as the two men walked off. Their eyes accustomed to the lack of light, searching for signs of the assassin in the darkness ahead.
The old healer’s cottage was a short distance away. An eerie silence filled the night sky as the companions watched Brother John and Tarrick leave the graveyard and return to the healer’s cottage. Brother John helped Tarrick onto his cot and set about to starting a fire. Walking to the windowsill John placed the now burning lantern on the windowsill that he had found in the cottage. It was so that Duerin and his friends could see that they had made it back to the cottage safely.
The old priest pulled a stool close to Tarrick’s cot and waited for the fire to take. John took his old holy symbol from his neck, the very same one he had received all those years ago. A starburst pendant of rubies, which were in fact coloured glass he recalled with a chuckle. He started his prayer of devotion to St. Cuthbert.
It was a few minutes later that the small group saw the light from the lantern off in the distance.
Snowflakes danced in the evening air as the friends contemplated there next move ….