Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hommelet thinks it's about time for you all to take your leave.

Following the attack on the farms south of the village, the council explained to the company that if they wished to remain in Hommelet a little longer, they could be quartered in the cellar of the church and in the barracks at Rufus and Burne’s tower.  They had been perceived as a threat and it was unfair to draw attacks of the undead onto defenseless widows.  The company complied, and while Angus recuperated from his wounds, Caber tried to find a buyer for the magical staff they’d recovered from the moathouse.  Meanwhile Godith tried to recover her dog which, after deserting her at the moathouse, had found its way back to the traders.  The traders, however denied it was the same and then argued that she had mistreated it.  Lem was able to communicate with the dog, and convinced Godith that she was better off without him.  After several days bedrest, Angus started licking the blue frog snad trying to put them in his mouth.  After watching him wretch and dry heave a few times, Steele declared that the patient seemed well enough for another trip to the moathouse.
Given the number of times they’d visited the foul place, the company reasoned that its thinking inhabitants was beginning to learn their movements and sought toapproach in a roundabout way, first heading south out of Hommelet along the main road and then cutting east through the forest.  It was tough going, especially with a mule and after a few hurs, they returned to Hommelet and followed the path, with the plan that in the last half mile or so, they would leave and make their own way through the thickets and brambles. 

anarchy by Brayo

As they were reaching this point, they heard a clanging and clanking coming from ahead of him.  Immediately they crashed into the underbrush, and tore through it, seeking to evade the source of the sound.  They nearly stumbled upon a man in a black cloak who, seemingly alerted and alarmed by their approach, sprung up and ran deeper into  woods on a narrow path.  Angus and Roark chased after him.  As Angus was catching up with the man in the black cloak, that man turned and shot Angus with a crossbow.  Angus tumbled to the ground and Roark fired his own bow, and felled their enemy.  Angus sprung up, clobbered his enemy and then, with Roark, limped back to join the rest of the company.

And meanwhile the others had been investigating the clanging noise in the road.  It was made by a man—or once-man, his jerky movements and stench gave away his present state— who was wearing various bells and chained to a stake in the road.  Arpad, who had assumed position of the magical staff brandished it at the zombie.  The zombie recoiled from the sight of the staff and, when touched, exploded in a blast of light as bright as the sun.

Arpad tended to Angus’s wound.  Roark searched the body of the hidden assailant and inspected the place where he had been hiding.  The crushed weeds suggested at least two men had been watching the road.  He had been carrying a few pieces of gold and silver and wore black livery with the sign of a burning eye. 

The company followed the trail on which the watched had been running.  After a few hundred yards, until it intersected, at a sharp angle, with another trail.  The company followed this new trail northeast (and seemingly forward) until, after about a hundred yards, it brought them into the boggy area around the moathouse.  They evaded the giant frogs by walking around to the breach by which they’d entered on previous expeditions.
So read the greeting painted on the wall outside the breach.  The company did not feel welcome, but uneasy, but after Roark had thoroughly checked the area for trip wires on other traps, they ventured inside.  Once inside, everything seemed much the same, but still they moved cautiously, Roark gliding along the wall and carefully inspecting the door that led into the next large hall. 

A flash of red light from down the south wing was oddly comforting.  “Oh, those giant bugs.”  The company decided they would delve into the lower level of the moathouse, and returned to the mouth of the pit from which they’d previously retreated.

Besides another message painted on the wall, there was a coil of rope, one end helpfully tied around a spike in the floor.  Godith lit a torch and Roark leaned out over the edge of the pit, surveying its contents.  The green slime had grown back to cover most of the floor, the shrieking mushrooms were silent, and hiding in one corner was the undead creature that lurked at the bottom.  It smiled.  After some debate, the company concluded that fire would likely solve at least one of their problems and retrieved from the mule 10 flasks of oil.  Roark dumped the oil on the slime and on tossed it on the mushrooms and tossed it in the general vicinity of the undead creature.  They used the “welcoming” rope as a wick and created a big fire.  While it burned, they retreated to the great hall.  They listened to the shrieking mushrooms and watched the black smoke.  When the shrieking it stopped, they planned an all-out assault.  They anchored their own rope well outside the room, and then charged in, Steele sliding down the rope into the pit while Arpad stood at the top calling up St. Bocrates to drive the unholy things back into the darkness.

They were not repelled.  As soon as the rope fell to the floor, two of the undead creatures leaped at it.  Steele evaded their skeletal claws and took a position in the middle of the room, making room for Angus to follow him.  Two more of the wights emerged from the shadows.  Roark shot silver arrows at their enemies and Lem flung silver pieces while the warriors engaged with their swords.  Arpad slid down the rope, brandishing the staff that had destroyed the zombie, and one of these undead creatures was similarly obliterated.

Here the tales of the survivors are unclear.  (No, not all survived.  But some did.)  Roark tossed a silver dagger to Steele the Paladin, but before the hero could reach, the terrible creature reached him.  And with a touch of its claw, Steele turned ashen white and fell in a heap.  Moments later, Angus was similarly slain.  Did Arpad destroy another of his assailants with the holy staff before he was killed?  Regardless, he was killed.  But as the wights began to drag away the bodies of the fallen heroes, those who had remained at the top of the pit shot them with more missiles.  And killed the undead horrors.  There is moral here, favoring guile over valor, but few in Hommelet are in a mood to hear it.

The bodies were retried from the pit.  And place on the mule.  And carried several miles away from the moathouse.  And buried in the forest.
entrance by Brayo
entrance, a photo by Brayo on Flickr.
It’s not the job of the living to take care of the dead so we should forgive them.  For in making their way back to Hommelet, hacking through the forest and driving their mule and its almost unbearable burden, they came upon a group of men in black cloaks, who were watching for their return along the main path.  The men had crossbows, but the company had magic.  At Lem’s command the undergrowth entangle the black-garbed men.  The men’s calls for help were silenced by Godith’s spell of magical slumber.
But not before they were heard by another group.  As the shots of these men were heard and their black cloaks were sighted through the thick screen of trees, Roark and Lem took off running.  But loyal Godith stayed with the mule, and the bodies of Steele and the other heroes.

As the blackguards reached their fallen comrades, they too were ensnared.  And Godith, patiently, slowly, drove the mule on her way.  She says she heard one of the men escape and come running after her.  She ducked into a hollow and allowed him to run past.

Godith rejoined Lem and Roark at the edge of the forest, at a place where they good see woodsmoke rising from the cooking fires of Hommelet. They buried the bodies.
The council listened to the survivors’ account of what happened.  And then explained that—it was in everyone’s best interest— the company should leave Hommelet.  Winter was coing and it was going to be a lean harvest.  They did not want to further aggravate forces of evil that seemed capable of fierce and terrible counter attacks.  And the Paladin was gone.
The council gave Caber the money that Angus had stored in the jeweler's bank.  They gave the frogs to Lem.  They offered a large sum for the holy staff.  They provided everyone with sausages and drinking water. 
“Stay in the tower tonight.  In the morning, you should be prepared to take your leave.”

Leaving Hommelet, the company saw the mammoth demon-pigs peacefully grazing in Squire Denton’s fields.

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