“Welp, that was a fun night. I kinda missed running around the city and causing a ruckus,” Alex said as he laid out in the hay-stuffed mattress in the center of the party’s room. The veteran had won a game of rock paper scissors with Omero for rights to the bed. James and Patrick excused themselves from the contest, as they both preferred sleeping in piles of Ingo fur.
“Yea, except we really didn’t get any information on how to complete Abaddon’s quest,” Omero replied gloomy, still disappointed in the fact that he wouldn’t be sleeping on a mattress.
“It wasn’t a complete waste though, I got two building plans for the village,” James added.
Patrick pulled his True Iron Maul into his pile of Ingo furs, “We didn’t have much time to accomplish anything anyway, but tomorrow we need to find Abaddon’s companion.”
“Agreed,” Omero said.
“Agreed,” Alex repeated.
James nodded thoughtfully. Their first day in The Outpost had been a long one, and he was happy to finally get some sleep. The room quieted and James slowly drifted off, letting his thoughts passively work out the details about how he would set up a successful trade route after he rescued the prisoners from the Lich King’s dungeon.
Just as James’s thoughts started to float away from his consciousness, a loud horn sounded, jolting the party awake.
“What was-” the horn sounded again, interrupting James's question.
The horn was so loud and frightening that by the time it sounded for the third time, the party was already dressed and on the street below Gill’s Tavern. The streets of The Outpost were more alive than they were during the day. Villagers ran out of their houses carrying bundles of spears and arrows. Soldiers and other various fighters poured out of taverns, or just simply stood up from where they passed out on the side of the road, and marched to the East side of the city.
“Are we under attack?” Omero asked.
James dodged a drunken soldier that almost stumbled into him, “It looks like it,” he said as he regained his footing.
Patrick pulled his True Iron Maul from his back, “Well, let's go fight!”
The party let themselves be taken by the wave of soldiers flooding down the streets of The Outpost. James was surprised to see so many people in the place, and couldn’t help but wonder if The Outpost was actually a nocturnal city. Sure, it made sense to him that if a village was under attack at night that every able-bodied person would show up to defend it, but still, something seemed off. During the day, almost everyone was grumpy and mean. The soldiers drank heavily during the day and passed out on the sides of the roads, basking in the sun. It was almost as if they were attacked every night, so The Outpost adapted to that schedule.
James’s suspicions were confirmed when a tall skinny man dressed in an assortment of armor wrapped a long arm around James’s head and ruffled his hair.
“You ready buddy? Another day, another golden coin, LET”S DO THIS!” The man said before powering through the rushing crowd, propelled by his long legs. The tall soldier hooted and hollered as he shoved his way through the crowd, but the crowd didn’t complain or push back like James suspected they would. Instead, they picked up his cheer. A few seconds later the entire crowd was hooting, hollering, and could even be seen patting each other on the back like they were all long lost friends.
“They are all relatively happy…” Omero reported as he struggled to not get too scraped up from the mass of sheathed and unsheathed weapons waving about.
“What about the civilians?” Alex asked as he motioned to the unarmored people that were floating around the edges of the moving hoard.
James didn’t hear Omero’s response, or rather, he didn’t process it. James’s mind was suddenly grabbed by something and his attention struggled to define it. James attempted to stop walking to get a better look but was immediately pushed forward by the crowd behind him. Craning his neck, he caught a glimpse of a robed figure standing in an empty alley. The figure was hard to see at first, but James only knew of one person in the city that wore dark coverings and would do creepy things hiding in an alley.
“Abaddon,” James whispered to himself.
“What?” Omero asked.
“Abaddon is over in that alley,” James said, much louder this time, “Come on!”
By the time the party had managed to fight there way against the flow of the rampaging army, they had already looked like the had been to battle and back. James was covered in various cuts, scrapes, and bruises. A quick check of his party member icons told him that Patrick was the only one that managed to get through the crowd unscathed.
“Where did he go?” huffed Omero.
James looked around the alley and caught the tail of Abaddon’s long cloak turning a corner. Despite the eerie feeling James got from following a hooded figure down a dark alley at night, he motioned his party to follow and lead the way to Abaddon. James’s figured that Abaddon was the only hope they had on finding a Mystic, and he wasn't about to run away from that. As the party turned the corner, they saw the hooded figure standing in a dead end, right next to a short greenish-brown creature dressed in elegant, yet stained, clothing.
“Noma!” Patrick cried out excitedly. The soul merchant gave a fatigued smile and extended one of his hands high into the air to meet one of Patrick’s.
Abaddon spoke, “I have saved a companion of yours, now you need to free one of mine. The time is now. With the Hedgemons attacking, you should be able to sneak into the keep and free Sorrell.”
Omero gave an annoyed glance to James and inquired for more information, “Can you tell us anything else about the keep and what Sorrell looks like?”
“The keep is just down this path. Follow it until its end and you will find it. As far as my companion goes, you will know her when you see her,” Abaddon answered.
James looked around, confused, “...but this is a dead end alley?”
That wasn’t the only thing bothering James though - Abaddon hadn’t moved an inch the entire time they had been talking, not even a slight head movement as he talked.
Freakin’ weirdo, James thought, moments before the hooded figure finally moved, slightly startling James in the process.
Abaddon turned in place and brought his hands up from his sides. His cloak draped from his arms, making the hooded figure seem much larger than he actually was in the darkness of the alley. Patrick and Noma paused their conversation to watch Abaddon. The rest of the party fell silent as well, allowing James to hear the far off echoes of the tall soldier’s enthusiastic chants one last time.
Abaddon moved his arms, slowly at first, then building up enough speed that they became a blur. Moments later, a blast of golden light illuminated the alley. A muffled boom sounded. James blinked to let his eyes adapt back to the night and annoyingly cleared the dust from his eyes once again.
Another horn sounded in the distance.
“GO, the army has reached the other side of The Outpost, your way should be clear!’ Abaddon yelled over the horn, “We will meet you outside the city, on the Savanna side!”
The party ducked through Abaddon’s hole and followed the alley beyond it until they reached the keep. The keep itself was easy to recognize, not because it had high walls or guards protecting it, but because it had an expansive yard that surrounded it. The keep itself was a humble cobblestone castle, not much bigger than some of the other buildings in The Outpost, but with much more breathing room around it. Short cobblestone towers littered the yard and cast circles of light from the fires perched on top and down to the dirt ground. James couldn’t help but think that if it wasn’t for winter’s ability to ruin everything green, the keep’s yard would have been quite beautiful, especially at night.
“How are we going to sneak up to that?” Omero asked, quite defeatedly.
“We’re not…” Alex answered before running forward, “Noone is here! Let’s go!”
James looked at Patrick, who shrugged and then ran forward as well. The party was just barely out of breath when they arrived next to the keep. No guards called out to them, and no villagers could be seen across the yard giving them evil glares, but still, James was afraid.
A cacophony of moans emanated from the keep, soaking into James’s pores and causing his skin to flush with goosebumps. Everything inside him told him not to enter the keep, but he ignored his cowardly organs and pulled the ornate metal handle of the only door in sight. With the strategy of stealth and surprise already looked over, the party piled into the keep, right after James.
The moans... stopped.