“Undead on stilts, oh no!”
Back at the Baron’s church, after the resurrections, we spent a couple days in downtime. Managed to sell off our loot and get some new items we needed. Ricven poured over spellbooks and Locke got stoned. The spellbooks proved to be somewhat similar, in an Eastern style; definitely from the Almor area. The papers and ink came from south of Almor. The books had separate authors, and neither of them noteworthy enough for any of us to remember who they are. The manual though, for making the flesh golem, was a good half century older than the spell books. Considering the origin of all the books we could only assume Ahlyssan mischief. In an attempt to back up our claims we took the tools to a craftsmen to see where they came from. Some of them were Nyrondese…damn.
But the Baron had work for us, so he put us on a boat, damn his eyes, heading down river to Scallot. It was a rebuilt little fishing town on the bay. The worst part was that we didn’t even get to the horrid hovel the first day. The boat Captain wasted time in Meeting chatting up his friends. Some of the party were interested in the built up settlements along the river, bordering on fortified. I just wanted to vomit all over their heavy oak doors. Night fell, the journey continued. Signs of life and habitation dotted the riverbank, fields and houses and crops etc. Right before we get into Scallot the Captain pointed out the remains of an old road that used to service this area before the war.
The town of sixty or seventy was completely dark by the time we made it in. Crawling out onto the delightful steadiness of the dock I slept for the night. Before the sun came up these fools of fisherman kicked me awake as they piled down the dock on their way to their boats. It was a good third of the town gone to the fishing grounds. Since we were awake we decided to start work.
The graveyard was consecrated, which was good. The town itself was half assed, buildings built in among ruins, piles of debris simply moved aside to allow room for a small shack or storehouse. Anyone wandering about was carrying a club or cudgel of some sort. A rooftop was adorned with a few lookouts. Locke asked around and it turned out that the warlock didn’t come through this area. It had been a very long time, four months or so, since adventurers came through Scallot, undead still roam once a week or so. All miscellany information if you ask me. But he did hear about Hast though.
Down the coast a bit there was a city called Hast. No one goes ventured to it anymore. Many a settler’s gang had left for Hast, but none had returned. That could mean they’ve settled, though most assumed the worst. It seemed the only appropriate place for us to go, so off we headed along the old road that follows the coast. The road was in pretty bad shape. But four miles down the road there was a big new manor house. People were working within their small walls, so we passed on by. On down the road we found a couple more. One of them was even built off the coast, in the surf, up on stilts. They were interesting enough to talk to, until we found they were nothing but fisherman. Warning us of rough and nearly non-existent road ahead was their only use.
They were right though. On ahead the road was nearly washed out. About a mile later we found the road again. Fields come in view, about a month unattended. The entire encampment was empty and the back wall was pushed in. It had all the signs of an unpleasant afternoon on the frontier: blood on the porch, weapons strewn about and no sign of bodies; not much imagination necessary to know what happened there. The house was big enough to hold about three families. Home goods were left about, so there was no fleeing the scene. Locke did manage to find a stash of good silver that would fetch a penny or two. We pillaged the food and their homemade rye before heading off.
Half an hour later we found almost the same scene, though much older and already ransacked. It was the most kempt building outside of Hast though, for the town itself had been completely leveled. There were hardly even what could be called a ruin, just rubble. There were no wagons, no sheds or any of the markings of danger. As we headed towards the river Tyr spotted signs of digging in the riverbed. In the silt and under the water a wooden ford. The diggings are likely from a shallow draft boat like the one we took down the river. We crossed the ford and Tyr lead a tracking expedition to see where the people from the boats went. As we wandered Tyr noticed boots and shod horse prints. Suddenly, a crossbow bolt flew by from one of the ruined buildings. We get ready, Locke hid behind a nearby building. Movement and noise from the rubble that shot at us preceded a man in chainmail on a horse riding out from the debris. Tyr slashed at him and Ricven knocked him off his horse. Men in uniform leather armor started rushing out of the trap door that the rider came from. Ricven crushed the first few that showed up. The building across the lane dropped a trap door as well and out popped some guys. Violet cut down one of the new soldiers that were slashing at me, and Tyr pierced the other one next to me through the eye with an arrow. I gave the next closes guy a blast to the face while Ricven was curing some of the fallen enemy. More poured out of the trap doors on both sides. Violet and Tyr each cut one down, and I fred another. Ricven continued to heal the enemy. Violet charged and destroyed the last one fighting; Tyr was holding a survivor at sword point.
Rummaging through the dead we found that their equipment was all identical and uniform studded leather armor. There were no symbols or insignia to be found on any of their gear. Ricven grabbed the one locked in irons with Tyr, the man struggled and Tyr stabbed him in the heart. He quickly stopped struggling. Ricven gathered up the ones that are still alive. Investigating the areas that the men came from they proved to be carefully built ambush spots, with connecting tunnels and barracks dug underground and everything.
Bringing one of the men to consciousness Locke began to interrogate him. He told us he was a mercenary, hired by the rider (Joseph) to fight undead. Reviving another we separated them. Locke resumed the interrogation. This time though, Locke read his thoughts as the man lies to him and told the same story. Despite all his talk about being a hired mercenary Locke heared in his head that the man is betting on his relief to come before we kill him. In his head Locke revealed that he’s from Ahlyssa, not Relmore like he claimed. He also revealed, in his thoughts, that two necromancers were dispatched from Ahlyssa as private operators in the area. Not much more could be gleaned except that we only had a few days before Gregory Company’s relief showed up.
After a long protracted argument over death or imprisonment we finally decided just to take the survivors along. Packing away the body of the mail clad rider for further questioning, the Baron could do that even though he was dead, we spent the night in their barracks and then headed in a straight-line north to Lake Arden. We exhumed the warlock’s remains and continued on to Meeting then finally Lumin over the course of a few days. We presented the Baron with our prisoners and our corpses for questioning.
We were guests for the speak with dead ritual where it was revealed that the warlock was not an agent of the Ahlyssans, and one more necromancer was still out there. It seemed the warlock was independent and simply sought to eke out his own little enclave. The second Necromancer was supposed to station himself at Cold Falls. Where he went, since he wasn’t there, no one was sure. The Baron wondered if we’d be interested in hunting the last necromancer down. We would agree only if he could pinpoint the necromancer’s location. Since the Baron was unsuccessful we decided not to spend months milling about the wilderness hoping for a needle.
The Baron conceded that the necromancer could be dealt with later, especially now that the supply chain at Hast had been struck and possibly rendered useless for a time. He had another, more important mission for us if we agreed. He proposed that we do reconnaissance on the city of the dead. He’d outfit us well, but he’d be unable to give us further support, such as resurrections.
He wants information, enough, I think, to strike the city. It does require traveling across the continent and then sitting doing nothing but writing logs…but if it goes quickly it could be very profitable.