Episode 2: Witchfire - The Longest Night - Part 8
The moons of Caen hung in the night sky, and a chill wind blew down from the north, bringing Khadoran winter air off the steppes. But the blood of the defenders of Corvis was ice cold, not due to the icy weather, but the horde of thralls that surrounded them and were tearing the city apart. Cannon fire sounded from the docks, and the sky line was illuminated by fire.
Brother Eckert, Gregore, Hurst and Darcey di Dimiani stood together about the tomb of Lexaria Ciannor. With them Father Dumas, the brother-in-law of the dead witch, prayed to Morrow, and his faith created a holy barrier about them. Solovin, Eckert's Nomad Warjack, growled each time a thrall stepped too close. The thralls formed a wide circle about them, numbering in the hundreds, their dead eye sockets glowing with green ectoplasm. The horde parted as Alexia and other 4 dead of the Corvis coven, dressed in simple white robes, walked forward. Ephemeral green skulls encircled Alexia. Each giving out a silent scream.
'Give me my mother's body and I will leave the city and all those within it alive', Alexia demanded.
'We do not barter with necromancers!', Gregore boomed, and stepped forward hefting his great sword.
'Then good knight you will all die! And the city with you! You will have the blood of innocents on your hands!'
'All you want is your mother?', asked Eckert, knowing the eldritch blade, Witchfire, lay in the tomb with Lexaria.
'I need the Witchfire. The souls of the coven lie within it, and I need that blade to restore my mother.'
Dumas walked forward. 'Alexia, do you promise, on your mother's soul, that you will leave the city. I know you have grieved for her for 10 long years, but I know, even after all that you have done, that there is goodness in your heart. Promise me this. For your sake, and for your mother's sake.'
Alexia nodded, and reluctantly Gregore stepped back with the others, retreating back to the cathedral vestibule. Alexia and the witch thralls levitated to the tomb and landed atop it where Alexia began a ritual, cutting her hand and dripping blood to the tomb. Telgesh runes circled and glowed, and there was an audible rush of air as the tomb's seals were broken. The witch coven dropped to the side of the tomb and some thralls came over to haul to tomb top away. After a number of them lifted Lexaria's body from it. Alexia held her hand over the tomb and the obsidian blade, Witchfire, sprung up into her grasp. Instantly the blade ignited with green bale fire.
'Alexia! Remember you promise. Now go my childe!' Dumas said, almost in tears.
The was a crack of thunder, blinding all as a man, dressed in black cloak, pulled up to hide his lower face, his hair swept back by the energy released, and a wicked staff in his hand, crackling with lightning. He pulled a dagger and plunged it into Alexia's side. She screamed and the Witchfire dropped from her hand and clattered before Gregore. The stranger returned his dagger to it's sheathe, and as he did so Hurst noticed a pendant of and eye with lightning through it - the emblem of the Inquisition of Vinter Raelthorn. Hurst's eyes went wide. The man was the executioner of the Corvis Coven, the man who killed Lexaria, and the man who had been hunting for the Witchfire all this time - Dexer Sirac.
Dexer was suddenly dragged away by cackling thralls, surely to his doom. 'The blade, take it!' Dumas cried.
Gregore picked up the infernal thing, but felt his arm chill and his heart skip a beat. The blade was sapping his strength and soul. Alexia's white dress was stained heavily in red from her wound. She was pale and clearly in pain. 'Give me the blade Gregore. If I die this entire city dies with me!'
The was a flash of lightning and a mob of thralls collapsed as energy crackled about Dexer. He strode forward. 'Give me the blade. I can save the city!'
Hurst looked at Gregore and shook his head. 'We have her promise Gregore and this man is not to be trusted'. Gregore threw the black blade to Alexia. With blade back to her Alexia immediately looked restored, as she absorbed the souls of the dead. She turned on Dexer, and with her entire army of thralls looked at Dexer, many of them beginning to laugh.
'YOU WILL DIE FOR WHAT YOU DID!'
Dexer, seeing no hope in the situation slammed the end of his staff down and disappeared in a blast of energy. Alexia, annoyed, looked about and then headed for the bridge before floating and disappearing into the night. The dead followed her, and as the last few dozen walked over the bridge they began to crumble. The cannon fire had ceased. The invasion was over.
Over the next few days the band of Witch Hunters spoke to Dumas, who was obviously stricken with grief, having lost his last relative to the evil started by Dexer. Captain Helstrom presented them medals of the city, in honour of their work, and informed them that they were to attend the court of the Duke of Corvis, Keilon Ebonhart IV. It was there they were able to see how notably uncomfortable Magistrate Borloch was.
Episode 3: Friends in High Places - part 1
It was two weeks later, and band of witch hunters were travelling down the Dragon's Tongue River. They had been ordered by the head of their conclave to pursue a new case, that of a rogue Arcane Mechanik. The person is question, Rustiban Vandred, was found to be missing and derelict of duty, since he was serving on the front lines at Fellig. It was when it was found that he was gone, that a disturbing discovery was made. In a secret part of his workshop he had been conducting foul experiments, necromechanical in nature, and also some pieces of the Librum Mekanecrus - a foul book concerning the merger of mechanika and ancient Orgoth rites - the very basis of the arts used by the empire of Cryx.
The witch hunters had a chartered steam barge, the The Smoking Damsel, captained by the jovial Alger Hallward. The captain talked to them about the events of the Longest Night, and how he had barely survived in the docks. He also found some amusement in playing cards with Gregore and Darcey.
The journey took the best part of 5 days, their destination being Five Fingers, as a member of the CRS had discovered where the mechanik was going. The river journey was cold and foggy. They passed the city of Bainsmarket, and briefly stopped to refuel. The city a blanket of smog from the factories, made all the more thick by the winter air. At Point Bourne they stopped for one night as the barge was brought down the river via the complex levels of locks. They were shown about the winter gardens and icy water falls by the city's proud mayor. They spent one evening enjoying a roast and with the mayor asking all he could of Darcy and about her father and the lands of Llael and Rhydden.
The city of Five Fingers, the Pirate Port, the City of Deceit, the last free city of Western Immoren, loomed into sight. The air was thickening and pugent. There was the smell brewing, coal burning, and foul water. The river estuary was getting busier with ships of all sorts.
They docked at Chaser's Island. Darcey's valet and Eckert's attendant priest helped unload their goods and Solovin, the jack covered so not to draw attention. They would take it all to the cathedral and their official lodgings, while they went to find lodgings on Chaser's in order to better blend in. All of the group were dressed down, wearing travelling clothes. Eckert had decided it better to not to wear his priests robes, especially given the prevalence of Thamarite cultists in the city. Gregore too had foregone his armour for the time being. Darcey too wearing something simpler and understated, a doublet and shirt, over her leather armoured bodysuit. All the group of course had their thick wolf fur cloaks from their time in Geddon. While there was no snow, the seas of the Meredius made for a cold biting wind.
As labor jacks unloaded cargo, and dockhands sat around chatting and smoking, the group left the deck of the barge and pushed through the press of workers and passengers. Gregore got a tap on his leg and turned about to see a gobber, dressed in a red vest and leather coat. 'Excuse me mate, but do ya' 'ave the time?'
Eckert told the goblin that it was 2pm. '2pm eh? Doesn't feel like 2pm. Feels like a 4pm. Oh, name's Smek.'
Smek went on to explain his full name and how he could help them find lodgings and from where they could get good deals. With the introduction over Smek gave his goodbye and left. Hurst however was not fooled. He knew the gobber was up to something, and he produced the pistol, obviously old and inactive, that he knew Smek had planted on him. 'What is the little bastard up to?', mumbled Hurst. He had his gas mask on, preferring to use that than put up with the stench of the river.
As they walked on to the first inn they could see ahead from the warehouses, a voice called out to them. They turned around to be confronted by a gang of ruffians, which comprised of roughly half a dozen and a Ogrun. They were the Paulson Street Rovers, and their leader was the gruff Bairn Cammol. Tense words were exchanged, but Eckert did not back down and returned the pistol to them. Eckert had diffused the fight.
With encounter over they turned to go but were stopped by a young boy, who obviously shivered in his ragged clothes. He presented himself as Gavroche, and that the goblin Smek was not to be trusted. he also explained that the gun, the Final Word, was a sign of leadership for the Rover's and that Eckert had some balls facing them down, something that was sure to make them loose face in front of their rivals the Twin Blades. Gavroche explained that while the Rover's seemed mean, they at least looked after the people around their territory, and had helped out him on a few occasions. Gavroche then went on to explain that he would find where Smek had gone, pointing to the rigging above, and that he suggested they go to Quenched Whistle, rather than to the tavern Smek had suggested. Gavroche said he would be back later and that they should have a pint of beer ready for him. Darcey just sighed, the boy was no older than 13.