Episode 2 : Witchfire - The Longest Night - Part 5
The ash cloud dissipated and Gregore charged into the thralls, hacking at them with his great sword. In seconds the thralls were a mass of broken bones and rotting flesh. Brother Eckert and Darcey moved to the makeshift table hoping to find some clue as to what Alexia intended to do. There were books there, books that were heretical and had obviously been taken from the Corvis Cathedral library. There were also notes and writing paper. She had been researching something. The scribbles were on various blades and magic swords. And then on one page at the bottom was a name. Witchfire. The notes read of its ability to absorb souls. Alexia had also left a further note, wondering if it could be reversed. On another piece of paper was a list of names, with ticks next to them. They were the names of the jurors. There were two other names on the list. Magistrate Borloch, and the ‘Executioner with the lighting through the eye’.
Gregore had stalked off into the catacombs beyond, hoping to find Alexia. In the dark he noted a number of chambers, and with one found more thralls, and proceeded to destroy the abominations.
Darcey looked the the remains of the thralls in Alexia’s chamber, and noted how one looked much like the young grandson of one of the jurors. Eckert nodded and vowed that their bodies would be returned to their rightful resting places.
Together Darcey and Eckert went off to find Gregore. Upon finding him he explained how he had dealt with more thralls, who were obviously more of the jurors. There was then a shifting from behind one of the other doors. The sound of water sloshing about. Gregore moved towards the door, just as the wood of the door burst apart. With a deep grunt and snort a pale lizardman, 8 feet tall, ducked under the doorframe and into the passageway. It sniffed the air and looked at the group with black, hungry eyes. It bellowed and flicked its scaly tail. Gregore took the advantage and stormed forward, ducking under the beasts razor claws, and sliced and hacked at the creature’s belly. Blood and offal fell to the stone floor with a wet slap, but still the beast stood. Eckert ran to Gregore’s side, using his staff of Morrow to try and cripple the creature, but the beast was made of sturdier stuff. Darcey then saw her chance, “Someones been a bad lizard”, and she struck at the cold blooded monster, smashing the beasts snout with her mace. There was a wet crack as the beast let out a muffled gasp and collapsed.
The group looked about and headed away from where the beast had come, hoping that more of the vile creatures were following.
They rounded the corner of a tunnel and came into a domed chamber, and there in the centre on a dais sat a ornate tomb. Eckert looked at it and note the holy enchantments upon it, for it was the tomb of a former Prelate of the cathedral. Eckert made a blessing to Morrow and the group continued on its way. They then came to another passageway, and as they walked down it they could see that the sides of the walls were in fact shelves upon which many dead were gathered. The word printed on silver necklaces about their necks read ‘Plague’.
Eckert turned to as he heard squeeking, skreeking, and sound of tiny feet. Many feet. Dozens and dozens of Devil Rats swarmed about them and began to clamber upon them and bite into their bodies. Gregore swept his sword in great arcs, and used the flat of the blade to squish the vile critters. Darcey pounded the vermin into the stone with her mace, finding the weapon was covered in fur, crushed bones and meat. Eckert did not fare as well, finding the creature biting where his cloak and clothing did not protect him as well. The bites came up in burning welts. But he was able to pull the rats from his body, and smash them apart with his staff.
They ran from the tunnel, finding a spiral staircase leading upwards, and from there a ladder to loose paving stone.
Hurst was in the library of the Order of the Illumination, with piles of books and ledgers on the wooden table. He was trying to find anything about the trial, be it reports, diaries, anything. A passing member of the Order, Vigilant One Karsik Goldur, put a leather folder onto the table. “This may enlighten you. I could not help but note what you were researching.”
Hurst looked at the papers within. One was an account from Father Dumas, informing a nunnery that he would keep Alexia in his care, but that she suffered from nightmares about things that Dumas was certain she should not be aware of. Another paper was a journal entry by a foreman working for Borloch, and it told a lot more about the execution, the ritual that had been performed, the blade, and that an Inquisitor had been involved. The last piece was torn from a journal and written 2 years before the execution. It told of a sword called Witchfire, and how it had been taken by the pirate king Moorcraig, and that they will recover it.
Eckert, Darcy and Gregore clambered out of the catacombs into the snow dusted streets of Corvis. In the alleyway they found no sign of Alexia’s passing. In the alleyway a vagrant was drinking from a bottle of rum, dribbling it down his beard. Gregore approached the man. “Where did the girl go?”
“Well a Merry Winterfest to you and all!”
Gregore grabbed the man by the arms and shook him, ignoring Eckert’s protests. “Where is the woman in white! Tell me now by Morrow!”
The drunkard looked at him, and grimaced. “Damned son of a whore! I dunno nothin’ you speak of!”
Gregore felt a warmth on his boots, and looked down to see the drunk had urinated on him. He pushed the man away.
“May Morrow bring you good fortune!” And the drunk shambled off, all toothy smiles and laughing.
Eckert shook his head in dismay, and the group when out into the street, only to be waved over by a bearded man in a hooded cloak. He asked if they were looking for the woman, Alexia. Surprised, Eckert said yes. The man revealed himself to be Julian Helstrom, captain of the city watch. He explained that he had men watching her since the other night, as one of them had spotted her coming back with the shambling dead, twice. Just the other day she had returned with 4 more. But given his lack of manpower during the festival, he had been reduced to keeping an eye on her. He had sent men to follow her during the day, as she had gone out of the city, and then returned. One man returned, the others left to watch. The man had found that Alexia had gone to the ancient, Fort Rhyker. Helstrom asked that they would go there, find his men, and stop Alexia, and he would do what he could in the city.
Gregore had gathered horses for them, and Darcey and Eckert had fetched Hurst, and they set off from the Cathedral. Father Dumas, who Eckert had spoken to, asked for them to try and bring her back alive, hoping that she was not beyond redemption.
On the horse ride out of the city, with the light failing, Hurst explain his findings, and what with what had been found in the catacombs, it was clear that Alexia had some plan to recover this mystical blade.
After a 4 hour ride they could see the dilapidated twin towers of Fort Rhyker. Using a spyglass to survey the area, Eckert could see that thralls were digging up the dead from the old battle field. The bones were piled high on carts and taken to the fort. The fort consisted of a gatehouse, a drawbridge and stone bridge, both of with stretch across a gorge to the fort proper. Seeking to not draw attention to themselves the troupe worked their way around the field, dodging patrols of obviously more aware and complex thralls. The dead working the fields seem to just ignore them.
Once within the gatehouse the troupe quickly made their way to the next floor, hoping to take the stone bridge rather than the drawbridge that was heavily patrolled.
On the next floor of the gatehouse they slowly made their way to the staircase and the top of the building. In the one room they found a armoury, but it was just a collection of rusting armour and weapons.
Eckert and Gregore moved on, not wanting to waste time and be spotted by a patrol. But Hurst and Darcey brought trouble to them. They opened another room, and within were a half dozen thralls. As one they turned to face the living intruders....