Veniset stirs with the smoke and bustle of a small village. The wet snow has turned to small icy pellets as the wind starts to howl. Minarets of twisting snow clouds your vision as you survey the farmland and small village before you. The damp snow that clung to your clothes and faces is now frozen in place cutting deep into the bones of all save for the two northmen in The Company.
Sebastian and Matrim take the lead speaking with the fare-haired Ulnoran. His large frame is at first quizzical, then doubtful…but finally determined. He had just recently heard tale of a farmstead being run over by ‘cold people.’ In fact, he was just on his way to investigate. The Company’s interception of his investigation has probably saved the young man’s life.
The man turns out to be none other than, Gregor, the captain of the town guard. At the mention of Kandure he becomes immediately hospitable with a dire look of determination in his eyes; as you further explain the plight that has befallen the land—and heading toward his village. He quickly gives you a run-down of the area describing the pine forest to the north, the scrubland hills to the south and the boggy march to the southwest.
Listening intently to Matrim describe the tracks heading north, Gregor curses and explains that the woods are dense and hard to navigate. He also says there is a saw mill that stays open well into the winter just off of Veniset Creek northwest of town. There are easily twenty men in that camp. If you follow the creek south you will find an operating grain mill as well; but, it only houses the family that lives there and two labourers. If the beasts are in the woods it will be very hard to find them…especially with the strong wind and fresh snows.
Nodding curtly, Gregor leads The Company into town. He heads straight for a stone building at the far end of a simple snow-covered road. Strange long glances are shared as the troupe moves through the town. A few hushed whispers and a handful of acknowledging glances from the one night you spent with the lively young folk of Veniset. And young is accurate. A strangely large number of folks in the town are young adults…you only see a couple of elders.
Upon entering the building Gregor barks several orders to the men standing around the main entrance. Sending a runner every direction mandating that everybody must retreat to town—having them stay at the inn, church, or barracks. Then he sends another man to gather the council for an emergency meeting at the hall. He finally issues a command to an older man in a guards tunic to have everyone in town seek shelter and lock their doors and bar their windows until further notice: the council will meet and then we will decide a proper course of action.
After the bustle of commands, Gregor looks back at The Company. Alma inquires about anyone who could help with magic. Gregor slowly shakes his head.
Father Sim doesn’t possess the divine talent. Kandure has some friends that follow the old ways who might help…if they get here on time. Oh, it is possible that Widow Selma might have some talent; but, I think most presume she just concocts her potions from the plant in the forest. I can send for her…but she rarely leaves her home. It is the last home at the end of this road: you can’t miss it there is a huge rock garden behind it.
1 Town Square. The large town square is littered with temporary booths and empty wagons that must be used for selling wares in the spring or summer. Right now it is quite barren with the exception of some clay pots and jars and a smattering of carpets and obviously used fabrics.
2 The Church of St Jerome. This large stone church seems to have built during a time when there was a larger population in the area. It is well kept and has two large iron bracketed doors facing the town square.
3 Town Hall. This wooden building seems to have been converted into a hall from an older residence. There are several apparent signs of expansion and a small sign by the front door that says: Mayor and Council.
4 Crowley’s General Store. A smart looking thatched cottage with well-trimmed shrubberies and a large multi-coloured sign proclaiming the name.
5 The Spoke and Shoe Smithy. Proudly proclaiming the skills of a wagon wright and a blacksmith, this converted barn is always open to the road (due to not having any doors to close the opening of the front of the barn).
6 Widow Selma’s Medicine. Widow Selma was a young brauman girl that married Duncan Leafner an ex-major over fifty years ago. After his death she set up shop as a cure-all doctor with her traditional herbs and poultices.
7 The Rock Garden. After the death of her husband, Selma invited several of her family and other brauman friends to help her build a rock garden. It was even rumoured that an elf showed up for the final blessing. Selma spends most of her time with her ‘standing stones.’
8 The Town Guard Barracks. This is the only other stone building in town. It houses a small jail, several cells for the town guard and is the office and home of the captain of the guard Gregor Lavery
Motioning the party to leave this building and head to the town hall, Gregor steps out the door. The streets are already deserted save for two guards hustling down the way in weather-worn white tunics. Briskly walking back down the road to the cusp of the town square, Gregor points toward a ramshackle woodeden building that seems to have been expanded from a simple home into a hall. A small sign near the front door says simply ‘Mayor and council.’
The front antechamber is crowded with four people talking earnestly to themselves. Gregor quickly makes introductions and for the first time asks the names of all of The Company. It is at this time that everyone notices that Cora is missing. The little thief, always hard-headed, must have had other plans. With an embarrassing introduction of a missing member and the curt clearing of throats the meeting commences without the Halfling.
Mayor Cultiss Bromek: A scarily thin man in his late thirties with very neat clothing and a soft spoken voice looks inquisitive and contemplative as The Company explains the situation.
Father Teldon Sim: A solid strong looking man in his twenties, if a day, tightens and loosens his fists looking intently as the danger unfolds. He looks ready to leap from the building and fight the horde alone. Father Sim says he might have some helpful provisions in the cellar of the church if his documentation is correct.
Lauranna Crowley: the proprietress of the local general store stifles shock and dismay and angrily curses as the situation is described. Tying her hair back tightly and removing her thick spectacles the oldest in the group at probably in her mid-fifties she offers the complete inventory of her store and might of her grandmotherly arm.
Gord Curshan: A towering Ulnoran smith at 6’ 9” passively watches the rest of the group. His visage doesn’t break for a moment. His cold blue eyes scan the group professionally saying little save for his lack of experience with weaponsmithing. He vows to do his part though.
Gregor: having heard the story at least once steps out a couple times to confer with his men reporting back. He states that he has 20 guards, 2 sergeants and himself. He can put a general order out for militia or ask for volunteers. He feels most of the people will want to comply to help their village: it is a very close-knit community.
At the end of the summation of the crisis Mayor Bromek clears his throat quietly.
’Tis a sad day indeed. I would wish that I never had to deal with this. To think just yesterday I was concerned that the harvest festival would have to be delayed due to the weather and Margery Grahams pumpkins are stunted.
He shakes his head sadly.
My good fellows. I implore. Lead this small village against our foes. This is a blessing from The Trees and almighty Pelor. That the winds have blown you into our little town just before the stink of death makes me feel this was meant to be.
He tentatively looks at each of his companions for confirmation. Seeing simple nods from each member except for Gregor and Gord the mayor speaks again.
I mean no disrespect Gregor, you are a fine man, and more than capable; but, these warriors have fought these things before…and I see destiny in their eyes. I bestow upon you each the rank of bailiff to this small free-hold town…while in time of conflict. We are yours to command. Let the many deeds of The Company of the Manticore list: Saviours of Veniset.
With that, five sets of eyes turn toward Matrim, Sebastian and the rest of The Company. The quiet in the room is eerily accentuated by the pounding clatter of doors and shutters holding off the howling wind and snow outside.
You can’t help but feel a little pained with how easily you managed to slip out the back of the group’s formation. A little pained that they didn’t immediately look back trying to find you. I mean, what if you were ambushed by the wights? Shouldn’t they come looking for you?
Well, it can’t be helped. Trudging through the howling winds and blowing snow you find it very easy to travel unnoticed. Giving the others a solid lead before sneaking into town it is eerie that there is nobody on the street.
The majority of the houses in this village are simple wooden building with thatched roofs. And after a few quick glances you can see that there are people inside, working to barricade doors and windows. Well, at least that is good, at least some of them will have a chance to survive.
Making it onto the top of several roofs you are able to survey the town. There are only two stone building that look to be defensible at all…and only a handful of places that would afford you the cover to strike unnoticed. The village is basically open, there are no walls, and it could be attacked from any side without difficulty. If the creatures are in fact in the woods it would make sense that they come from the north; but, who knows with that bloody little girl leading them.
After about an hour of searching you settle into a nook atop a large home with a crook in its chimney that gives you enough cover between the peak of the thatching and the divot in the roof. Not knowing what else you can do, you sit in wait, trying desperately to bundle up against the cold that seems twice as bad on top of the building.