Sunlight lit up the land and Tre cursed. The wagon nearby was still only partially full. They had scoured the surrounding area for other graveyards and only had 118 total.
“We’ll have to finish up tomorrow,” Tre said stretching. Utul and the two ogres yawned together. “I’ll scout out another town.”
“Centralia has several,” Utul said pulling himself out of a hole.
“More dangerous as well,” Tre said glancing towards the road that led to this little family plot. The farmhouses were a little way down the road but the din of animals waking up could be heard.
“Would make it easier, the corpses would walk right up to us,” Utul said and he looked at the wagon. “If we could only get them to crawl into the wagon first.”
“I’d prefer already dead, the less attention we attract the better.”
“What do you think ninety graves dug up will do?”
“Hoping it will help convince people to leave the town.”
Utul laughed and walked towards the wagon.
“My last casting, you coming or staying here?” Utul said.
“I’ll meet you in Woodale,” Tre said and glancing down the road. “Rest tonight, see me tomorrow.”
Utul gave a nod and beckoned the other two ogres over by the wagon. They all linked hands and the spell was cast. In the empty space where the wagon and ogres where Tre suddenly remembered they had the shovel. Cursing silently Tre sighed and started walking down the road, away from the farmhouses.
Once he was out of sight of the cometary and any farmhouses, Tre pulled out a little wooden figurine. Placing it on the ground he activated the power in the item to conjure up a horse. The beautiful equine creature of white hair and saddle appeared. The wooden figurine turned to smoke that gently drifted into the creature. After a little struggle, Tre mounted the horse and held on tightly.
“Follow the road, medium speed,” Tre said. The conjured horse slowly trotted and picked up speed as it went along. About the speed Tre could jog, the horse settled and maintained it. Trees whizzed by along the empty road. Tre ceased paying attention to the passing foliage and started planning.
It was evening before Tre arrived at the gates of Woodale. The magical horse long exhausted for the day. Double the usual guards were standing at the entrance. Two of them even had crossbows out and cocked. One of the guards with a sheathed sword stepped forward.
“Halt! No travelers, continue to next town.” The guard called out, crossbow pointed at Tre’s chest.
“I live here, My name is Treagt. I bought the armor shop.” Tre said. The guard lowered the crossbow so it was instead pointed at Tre’s waist.
“Then you should know we started closing up at dust.” The guard said.
“The Hammersmiths left for Centralia, I wanted to make sure they made it through the ogre forest, given what happened to Fred. I have just returned.” Tre said and then with as much compassion and empathy he could, “did something happen? Did ogres attack?”
“No, the dead,” the guard said, the crossbow trembling a little but he stopped himself. Turning his head and calling over his shoulder, “Anyone know Treagt and will speak for him?”
A tense moment as the guard faced towards Tre and his crossbow stopped shaking. He raised it again to chest level.
“I do,” A faint voice called out from the guards. The Innkeeper of the Two Copper Inn stepped forward. Tre couldn’t remember his name but gave a little wave. “Why are you on guard duty?”
“The… dead, they… disappeared,” the Innkeeper said his voice struggling with the statement.
The guard pointing a crossbow at Tre lowered it and beckoned him closer. Tre stepped next to the Innkeeper. The older man was shaking a little and his eyes kept darting at the dark behind Tre.
“What happened?” Tre said.
“The city cemetery completely dug up.” The innkeeper said and his voice broke a little. One of the other guards placed a hand on innkeepers shoulder.
“It’s alright Abe, the town will be defended. We sent a message to some Kings guard to send help.” The guard said.
“First ogres, now undead,” Abe said, “Maybe the Hammersmiths have the right idea.”
When the guard tried to comfort Abe by patting him on the shoulder, the innkeeper shook it off and started walking into the town.
“He’ll be alright, today was the first day he picked up a sword he says.” The guard said looking at Tre. “We didn’t expect him to fight, mostly let him help to take messages and fetch food and water.”
“I didn’t see anything odd on along the road for what that’s worth,” Tre said. He breathed a little more easily now that there wasn’t a crossbow or sword pointed at him. “Is my shop ok? Did the undead attack already?”
“Everything is fine, just every dead person we buried is gone. The only thing we think it could be was some necromancer is in the area.” The guard with the crossbow said.
“Uh, when will the Kings' guard get here?” Tre said making his voice shake a little.
“Haven’t gotten a response yet. At the minimum day after tomorrow. Don’t want to think about the other…” the guard stared off into the night. The sounds of creatures and a gentle breeze caused everyone to stiffen.
“Tell your Captian, or the Mayor, see me tomorrow I’ll make sure the city is well equipped at a discounted price.”
“That is mighty generous of you,” The guard stumbled and paused before asking, “what is your name again?”
“Treagt, or call me Tre. If the town falls my shop will get looted anyways. Better to die fighting in armor, than die protecting it.” At the mention they all might die, the guards stopped and stared at Tre. “I’m sure we will be fine, I bet it takes something like a full moon or lots of power to turn thirty people into undead.”
“There was over eighty dead.” The crossbow-wielding guard said.
“Then I expect it will take even longer!” Tre said and he playfully slapped the guard on the shoulder. Twang! The crossbow fired towards the road and was lost in the darkness. “Oh sorry, didn’t realize you had your finger on the trigger.”
“I’ll… um… I’ll pass your message along. It may be best if you went to your home and slept. We may have to have you guard tomorrow night.” The crossbow guard said and he slowly pulled out a bolt and loaded it into his crossbow.
Tre nodded his head and hurried into the town. Rather than heading home, he went straight to the shop. There was a small cot in the back, he figured he would sleep there in case someone tried to rob the place on the pretext all the guards were watching the woods.
Secure in his shop and after double checking all possible entrances, Tre settled down on his cot. Pulling out the scrying mirror, he activated it.
Co’Naan and the rest of the adventuring group were sitting in a tavern sharing a drink. Mrs. Hammersmith sat across from them at the table also drinking. Little Frederic was nowhere around. Primore was laughing at something and the noise from the tavern drowned out whatever Rovi was talking about.
Tre stopped the viewing, the noise making it too difficult to hear what was being said. As he put away the scrying item he thought about what it meant. There weren’t any towns between Woodale and Centralia that would support such a crowded tavern. Either they were in Centralia or some poor village was overrun with adventures.
Both thoughts frightened Tre a little. If the group returned in two days, he won't be ready. Especially if he has to help guard the wall. Likewise, if a large group of adventuring parties were coming this way, it would just muck things up.
Going to sleep, Tre dreamed he was a dragon, burning his problems into ash. He also dreamed he was a goblin, not his original form, but a male goblin. Working at Mortis Operandi by helping them design new traps to eliminate the scourge of adventuring parties.
Support "Mortis Operandi 2 - Hostile Takeover"
Life long gamer and geek, after decades of RPG's, decided to start telling his own tales. Ones where the players can't derail.
I love fantasy and sci-fi. Have for decades, from the first time I read Dragons of Autumn Twilight to Stormlight archive, the worlds created have entrapped me. Now after years of attempting to complete a story, I've finished a few and am working on a new ones.