The sleepy village of Veniset has been plunged into darkness. Black permeates the area like a thick swirling soup suffocating any thoughts of daylight. Though only dusk, the pale blue nimbus of a normal fall evening has been completely choked out by the roaring violence of a northern gale. Tearing the small farm community into a blizzard stricken mess the villagers fight valiantly to save their home from the real darkness hiding in the dark: an army of intelligent and malevolent undead.
Torches light up every corner as sentries watch in vain for any movement coming from the swirling darkness. The guttering torches, unfortunately, don’t light the path so much as turn the blowing snow into a murky orange glow betwixt the navy blue of the storm wrought night and the eyes of the townsfolk. Friend and foe are nearly indistinguishable up until they are standing face-to-face as the real force of the blizzard starts to rear its ugly head.
Forceful commands must be bellowed with great force to be heard over the shrieking anger of the blizzard. As a sentry stands in the loud, cold, wet darkness of this autumn eve he can’t help feel alone and trapped waiting to be preyed upon by the stalking evil in the darkness. And that is the real challenge: that fear of creepinig undeath stalking the village with nothing but hate and hunger fuelling their twisted souls.
Villagers go out of their way to make themselves busy with cooking and gossip so as to not hide in a corner sobbing for the night to end. Administrators suggest ideas, farmers build barricades, housewives prepare meals and guards pace importantly as they depend on the seeming strength and knowledge of these strangers who burst into their town mere hours ago. Untrusting eyes bore into the backs of The Company of the Manticore only to be replaced with glances of thankfulness or judgement as events unfold uncertainly.
The market square has become a fortified last stand. The majority of the town is boarded up in the large stone church while every free man of age has volunteered to work hard at the bulwarks and take up arms in the face of the undead horde. Organization temporarily left the square as an undead spy had to be taken down quickly. Accusing eyes burned into The Company as the villagers recognised a friend and resident of the village lying dead in the gathering snow…signs of undeath not as evident in the fresh corpse. With some strong words from the clergy and brisk commands from Matrim the guards were once again set to their posts just as the church doors closed and screams escaped the stone building. There was a wight within the halls of the church.
The Lumber Mill 4:22 pm
The roaring crackle of the burgeoning fire and the howling shriek of the northern storm pound back and forth like dueling drums in Alma’s burning ears. Never feeling numb, wet, cold, and burning at the same time his body aches with great alarm as he desperately clears the last horse from the stable. A grip of fear and desperation squeezes his quick beating heart as the last of the loggers disappear into the swirling darkness. A split second of recall brings you back to the blistering deserts of Cyonia and the ominous sickening feeling you get when you are caught in a deadly sand storm with no shelter. While this storm isn’t ripping his eyes out of their sockets the small ice shards feel like needle daggers barraging his burning wet cheeks.
Grabbing the last horse and mounting as quickly as possible Alma charges for what he assumes is the same direction he came from. The roaring fire from the barn and mill are nothing but abstract yellow and orange blurs hovering in the murky moving night. Scanning the milky night urgently for Lornaal you almost bowl over the northman as your horse trudges through the deepening snow. Lornaal’s muscles flex dangerously and a deep growl escapes from his lungs as he turns abruptly to deal with this new foe. Quickly barking his name the plainsman stops his eminent attack and grumbles up at Alma
They were about sixty feet away before the wind picked up again…must be about thirty or them. Can’t see a rutting thing now.
Alma holds his arm down for Lornaal to join him on the horse. Tersely shaking his head Lornaal slaps the backside of the horse sending Alma into the churning darkness. Lornaal then takes a cautious look back into the dangerous blankness of the blizzard before breaking into an easy gallop feeling the rut of the horse’s trail through the accumulating snow.
Small Wooden Bridge 4:42 pm
The persistent biting of snow from the violent wind lulls as if waking from a strange dream. The soaking wet from the snow stiffens joints and clothes alike as for the first time in a seeming eternity there is an impression of an horizon in the dull grey-blue light of dusk. The snow-cover makes it difficult to distinguish landmark from scenery but there is comfort in the lack of movement behind.
Alma, standing up in his saddle catches the travel of several of the loggers and beckons for them to gather around with a sunrod. Torngrim, bundled in thick furs, sits patiently at the base of the wooden bridge that crosses Veniset Creek having left the skirmish earlier. Looking north there are no signs of pursuit only the rag-tag trail of several horses ploughing through the fresh snow on and off of the once clear path.
Marshaling everyone together, catching the eyes of each logger, Alma is convinced there will be no more trouble from them. Eleven men survived the encounter and none were left alive to stock the ranks of the undead. Satisfied that even with heavy losses (and a very close call to outright engagement) the excursion was worth the effort, Alma does his best to reassure the frightened men and recruit them to the cause of defending Veniset. The determined and strangely vacant look in the logger’s eyes tell the story: they will fight.
Motioning for Torngrim to lead them back to town, the eleven Grewhains follow suit leaving Lornaal and Alma to take up the rear. A brisk pace is nearly impossible in the snow; but, the men attempt it anyway. Looking back upon the horse’s tracks there is still no sign of the undead as the wind again takes umbrage at the calm and blankets the world into darkness once again.
The Church of St Jerome 4:22 pm
Thick abrupt commands stir the air of frightened screams and troubled murmurs. The intricate marble stonework blurs as bodies move quickly to deal with the abomination that just locked the entire village into their very own church. The dark glowing eyes and strange green aura casting hatred on all who brave its gaze. The sheer lack of fear from the solitary creature, coupled with its evil grin, heighten the agitated fear stirring the morale of the villagers.
Desperate pounding can be heard from the other side of the large barred doors with yells of concern and anger. The pounding is most certainly in vain as the huge doors were historically designed to repel invaders…let alone an half-dozen militiamen. The guards posted in the church rush desperately to combat the enemy within the walls…ill prepared for the sheer danger the undead possesses.
Standing fixed in a combat readiness the wight stands its ground and waits for its victims. The first three guards engage the creature with resolute determination seemingly to flounder under its advanced power. Lashing out with stunning speed and efficiency the abomination crumples one man to his shivering knees with a single touch. With glee in its eyes it makes to strike again to finish the deed when a brilliant silver white light flashes across the floor beneath the creature. A strange afterimage of a blazing sun marks the eyes of those who were witness to the light. The wight cringes in anger and then finishes guardsman with an afterthought slumping the poor villager to the floor.
The rest of the rushing guards push forward through the crowd. Terrence unable to commit to Cora’s plan with a wight in the church takes action. Weaving through the rushing and cowering crowd of villagers he bounds up the ornate stone stairs. Side stepping the hacking uncertainty of the guardsmen’s swords he slips into striking distance of the abomination. Looking the beast in the eyes Terrence is temporarily stunned into recognition of the dark creature…did he share an ale with this man? Are those the dead eyes of a family man from Tundrein? Shaking the awful thought out of his mind Terrence brandishes his sleek rapier making to gouge the creatures eyes out only to quickly lunge down striking the beast on the inner knee and then kicking the creature to the floor in a hump of writhing anger. Without missing a beat Terrence takes his blindingly quick blade and plunges it deep into the chest of the wight triggering such a malevolent look of anger from the dark creature that each guardsman take step back before continuing their barrage.
Seeing a brief glimpse of opportunity the five armed villagers crowd into the church entrance and start stabbing at the prone horror like they were beating grain. Big long overhand strokes and quick jabs start to overwhelm the writing terror on the floor of the church before if goes completely still crumpling to the ground. A strong silence permeates the stone halls of the Church of St Jerome before the anxious pounding on the door from the outside once again interrupts the momentary quiet.
Terrence grabs the bar across the door and tosses it to one side opening the strong thick entrance of the church. Villagers pour in ready to combat an army of undead only to see the solitary wight on the floor and the single dead villager. Talton strides in quickly completely encased in thick steel armor. He glances around the church and says
This man should be free of the curse. We will not need to desecrate his body. Know now, if anyone dies within twenty feet of this door…their souls will be saved. It is but a small part of what I can do to help.
On the Roof of the Church 4:22 pm
Thinking the wind was cold on the ground was foolish compared to the sharp pain that stabs at exposed flesh up on the roof tops of Veniset. The makeshift highways across the homes and church have great potential for defense and offense when the real fighting begins; but, right now you can’t see your hand in front of you face. The storm seems to have taken offence at the machinations in place in this sleepy village. The howling roar pounds in the ears of any brave enough to weather the storm and the sentry torches placed at strategic corners are nothing but small glowing suggestions of orange light.
Having set his bearing upon cresting the first home, Matrim scours the roof in the darkness. He finds two guardsmen at their post as he fumbles over the rooftop. Nothing but the bellowed greeting and extended groping hands through the blinding storm guide his way. One of the guards yells loudly into Matrim’s frozen ear that one of the roof hatches into the church is on the southwest corner. Waiting in between gusts Matrim makes his way carefully so as to not lose his footing or step over the edge in the blinding swirling darkness of the blizzard.
Finding the hatch Matrim opens it and drops down the ladder onto a wrought iron walkway along the very top of the churches rafters looking down into the apse and naive. Quickly gathering his thoughts Matrim draws his bow to see the door of the church open and the dead wight on the ground far below. Satisfied that the immediate threat has passed Matrim marvels at just how high the ceiling of this small town church is. He then takes a tense scan of the people below searching for any possible signs of undeath or collusion. The only, even remotely troublesome, event was the fugitive motion of a small man slipping out a side port…obviously trying not to be seen. Knowing he would not be able to see him in the blizzard and knowing it would take him several minutes to find his way down to the church floor Matrim let the man go…there was really nothing conclusive anyhow.
Father Teldon Sim’s Chambers 4:40-5:00 pm
After a scouring search of every man woman and child for signs of undeath, the implementation of passwords, and a distribution of labour an executive meeting is held in the church. Matrim, Talton, Terrence, T’alen, Sebastian, Gregor, Mayor Cultiss, Father Teldon, Lauranna Crowley and Gord Curshan are in attendance.
The room is a plush, well furnished apartment that could easily be used for meals, lounging, sleeping…and currently a meeting. There are enough seats for everyone and a fire currently heats the room from an ornate fireplace. A stout utilitarian table has been placed in the center of the room, clashing with the fineries of the art on the walls and floor, comfortably seating the gathered party. The brief meeting reaffirms the ranking of command during the state of emergency (Matrim, Sebastian, The Company of the Manticore, Gregor) and the distribution of men over the perimeter of the barricades. There is some talk of strategy should a large force approach from one side and which direction should be taken in the event of a withdrawal.
- This is the time when equipment can be redistributed or shared.
- A brief discussion takes place letting everybody know that Cora has been missing for some time and that we can only assume she has deserted or has been killed.
- Nobody has seen Widow Selma. She lives on the north end of town and has been known to help with injuries…even if she doesn’t like people.
- Any healing can be accomplished at this time.
Agreeing that all is in order for now the meeting adjourns and each member returns to the assigned job or position.
Western Barricade on the Eastbound Road 6:12 pm
Sebasitan and T’alen have been manning the barricades surrounding the Market Square. Talton and Terrence have been making sure the church is properly secured and transferring equipment, food and labour as needed to the Market Square. While Matrim has been leading the forces on the rooftop occasionally communicating with Gregor on the ground for updates as needed. A brief call from two sentries on the western wall cause Sebastian and T’alen to head over to the barricade to investigate.
Sirs, there is some light down the way. I just caught it in the distance when the snow wasn’t so thick in the air.
Looking down the road where the sentry pointed only showcased the same swirling darkness as seen everywhere else. Waiting for well over a minute a faint glow perhaps 30 feet away could be seen hovering some six feet in the air. The sentry on the right bellowed into the flowing wind,
Who goes there!!! What’s the password!!!
The light continued its way forward in the dark swirling night ignoring the screeching yell of the guardsman. Getting perhaps 20 feet from the base of the barricade the nervous guard mustered all of his strength and yelled again.
State your name and business before we fill you full of arrows!!!!
The two sentries leveled there weapons upon the floating light while the rest of the guards on the wall mustered for battle.
Came a puzzled voice from the darkness. The light, now 10 feet from the barricade, moved toward the floating face of Torngrim. The local boy was astride a horse holding a sunrod under his face.
Is that Beck and Jules? What’s going on? You fought any beasts yet?
The two sentries looked at each other and gulped.
We need a password, Torn. The creatures have been sneaking in to camp.
Another light came rushing in from the darkness casting its meager light onto the situation.
We don’t need any passwords. Let us pass or we will tear this wall down and use your skulls as tankards afterward.
Alma’s voice was unmistakable.
Northern Barricade 6:35 pm
A quick debriefing was had. Matrim yelling down from a walkway above, Gregor and the rest of The Company of the Manticore huddled around the entrance to the church beside the northern most barricade. Just as the last of the stories were relayed and the wounds of the injured healed a sentry alarm goes up again on the western wall. Seconds later a second yell pierces the night from the top of the northern wall beside the group.
No mistaking it!
Yelled a guard from the top of the northern barricade.
There is a mob coming and they are very close!!
A secondary yell from the top of the wall shrieks
They’re here they’re here!!!! They are climbing the wall!!
A runner panting with fear skids into the group.
Sirs they are attacking the western wall, sirs.
The white in the boys eyes almost popping out of his skull.
They don’t need torches! They were almost on top of us before we saw them!! Quick we need help!
Cora 4:22 pm
Teetering on the edge of leaving you see Terrence run and jump through the crowd attacking the wight. The rest of the guards dog-pile onto the fallen creature vanquishing the foul thing. Waiting a half second you scan the room, looking hard into the eyes of the villagers from the shadows behind the pillar. Again, you look to the children playing…you notice nothing strange. You then cast your gaze up to the balconies and into the shadows to see if anyone else is hiding in the church. Your keen eyes detect movement far up in the high rafters. Someone is opening a door from the roof. Strong capable legs clamber down from the hatch. You immediately recognise the man as Matrim. The ranger must have heard the commotion and come to assist. Feeling more confident about the safety of the villagers in the church you make your move. As Matrim draws his bow you run to the side door, quickly work the lock, and close the door behind you. You can’t let Matrim see you…and Terrence has already played his hand…it is now up to you.
The cold hits you hard. Though you can’t feel the wind yet in this small porthole the deafening roar of the blizzard takes you aback. Even with your sharp eyes you can’t see the next building across the way…that you know is there. The murky swirling darkness of this gale clouds everything before you. You will have to be lucky to spot your enemies in this mess. Every ten or twenty seconds the gust lowers a fraction giving you the outline of a building or a well…or the faint glow of a sentry torch…but that is all.
Trudging through the deep snow and huge snowdrifts forming on the east sides of the buildings you slowly make your way back to your hiding spot taking you almost a half an hour. It is almost easy now to scale the house with the frigid aid of a drift of snow. Nestling between the alcove of a sloped roof and a chimney you are truly thankful for the ambient heat left from the almost dead fire inside. The occupants must have vacated their home for the church. Looking down upon the street where you feel most of the enemies will probably pass you try to concentrate on anything that moves that isn’t wind. It is very hard. The greater majority of the time your vision is completely obscured by the blizzard. During any brief lapses and lulls only the feint blue glow from late dusk will illuminate the barren street below.
After about an hour and a half of huddling on the rooftop you are almost completely surrounded by a wall of snow. Someone would have to be standing over you to see you. The cold and wet is excruciating but the wind is buffered by your new walls of snow.
Glancing at the lane behind the house, you see a small murky floating orange light fumbling down the road. It wanders almost randomly from one side of the street to another. After about twenty seconds of watching this strange light a lull in the strong wind gives you a window of the dark street. A young boy of about fifteen or sixteen holding a torch is stumbling and scrambling down the street. His face is covered in blood and is holding himself upright by using the sides of the buildings as he stumbles forward. Looking into windows and trying doors he stumbles to the other side of the street to try again. He is obviously hurt, suffering from exposure, and looking completely lost. You try to see further down the road; but, it is most likely past sundown now even without the blizzard.
Waiting until the child is even with the house you are perched upon you see no other signs of movement or pursuit…but in this storm that doesn’t mean much.