Rovi noticed the additional guards on the walls of Woodale before anyone else. He kept quiet and mulled over what it could mean as the group trudged back to the town. Guydalf pushed them to return as quickly as possible, without being able to give a complete explanation.
“Did they always have six guards at the gate?” Co’Naan said when they were closer.
“No, I hope we are not too late,” Primore said, urging his horse to ride faster.
“Halt!” One of the guards yelled out, a few seconds after Primore had pulled up. Guards on the wall pointed crossbows towards the adventuring group.
“Good sir’s, My name is Primore, and these are my friends. We left a few days ago to escort the Hammersmiths to Centralia.” Primore said. The rest of the group arrived and hung ten feet behind Primore.
“Hold, we’ll get someone to verify you.” A guard called out. Briefly, the guard disappeared but reappeared on the wall a minute later. Primore turned around to look at his friends.
“Guydalf, you don’t seem surprised,” Primore said.
“When we were in Centralia, my wards picked up something attempting to scry on us. When I reversed it I saw a goblin ransacking the armor shop.” Guydalf said and looked around, eyes shifting into the magical spectrum. When satisfied Guydalf’s eyes refocused on Primore. “A single goblin should not have caused this.”
“Town’s not burnt down, couldn’t be that bad.” Co’Naan said, he gave a sniff in the air, “Doesn’t smell like ash either.”
Rovi slowly pulled out a pair of glasses and put them on. Once activated, the glasses allowed him to get a good look at each of the six guards. Only two of them didn’t shake a little. One’s crossbow wasn’t even loaded correctly, the bolt in a little crooked. Between the cracks of the gate, Rovi could also see shadows moving around.
“They are scared,” Rovi said. He slowly removed his glasses and put them inside one of his many pockets.
“What?” Guydalf and Primore said together. Co’Naan kept looking towards the gate. The big man hopped off his horse. The guards all visibly tensed, even at this distance. “Wait for the Captain, we’ll need their help to figure out what's going on,” Guydalf said as he placed a hand on Co’Naan’s shoulder.
The group waited a few minutes before an older man dressed in full chainmail and plate shoulder spaulders appeared behind an opening gate. The group lined up, Co’Naan standing next to his horse, and waited for the man to come to them. As soon the man’s horse was through the gate it started closing, the figure stopped twenty feet from the group.
“I’m Captain Dumont. Is there anyone in the town who will voice ye are who ye say ye are?” Captain Dumont said.
“Tre, the new owner of Armorous,” Guydalf said.
“He went missing yesterday.”
“Is there anyone else who would vouch for ye,” Captain Dumont said.
“Um,” Guydalf looked at his friends and they shrugged. A moment of silence stretched as Captain Dumont’s gaze attempted to burn a hole into the group of adventurers.
“The innkeeper of the Two Coppers Inn, he would know us, we stayed there for a few days,” Rovi said.
The Captain nodded his head and went back to the gate. Once he was next to the wall, he spoke in a tone the group couldn’t hear. One of the guards on the wall nodded his head and disappeared from the wall.
“Let's hope the innkeeper hasn’t also disappeared,” Rovi said as the group waited.
An hour later, the group was sitting in the inn, a few drinks before them. Captain Dumont stood near the table, still in full armor. Abe the Innkeeper hurried back and forth to keep drinks full.
“A little before dawn, a patrol inside the city heard screaming in the street. They reported seeing a group of undead skeletons dragging Tre through the street to the old warehouse near the armory.” Captain Dumont said.
“How many undead?” Primore said.
“Somewhere between two and six. They were unable to get an accurate count before they disappeared from view.”
“Where did they drag him to?” Guydalf said as he let his gaze slip back into the magical spectrum. The gates of the town were completely mundane, so was the road behind them. Aside from the adventuring party, the only magical presence was the Captains armor.
“There is an old building near the armory, it used to be an inn but over the years it’s been empty. The previous owners used it to store supplies.”
“Lead us please,” Primore said standing up and finishing his drink. The rest of the group stood and followed Captain Dumont back outside. Two guards were waiting out there already watching the horses, everyone mounted up and followed the captain.
Woodale was even more somber than the last time the group had been there. The sun hung brightly above, but no one was in the streets. Rovi glancing behind them once they passed through the gates saw there were ten men there, six on the wall, and four on the ground.
“Seems like a lot for a few undead?” Rovi said quietly to Guydalf. The wizard nodded his head and rode up closer to the Captian.
“All this for a few undead?” Guydalf said just loud enough to ensure the Captain could hear it.
“Four days ago,” Captain Dumont paused for a moment and had his horse stop. Turning towards the group he waited for them all to get near. “Four days ago, every single corpse was dug up from our cemetery. From the founder of the town Sir Daaawg to children that died during birth.”
Guydalf whistled and Primore coughed a little. Rovi and Co’Naan stood there looking confused.
“Do you have a number?” Guydalf said after remembering all details he could about undead creation.
“Maybe a hundred, a fever swept through the Mershal house two weeks ago, not sure if they had been buried there, and can’t contact them.” Captain Dumont said.
“Aside from the ones kidnapping Tre, have you seen any?” Guydalf said.
“Nay, not a single one. We’ve set up extra guard, conscribed every able adult, and have been training with sword and bow.” Captain Dumont’s face relaxed a little and the stern glare disappeared. Guydalf caught a brief look at the man’s bloodshot eyes.
“Have no fear, we’ll go find Tre, kill the undead threat. I have a feeling Tre or the Hammersmiths are involved somehow.” Guydalf said. The captain's glare and stern face reappeared.
“Do what ye can, I may have ye teach or help on guard duty tomorrow though.” Captain Dumont said.
He leads the group to the front of the warehouse. Four guardsmen stood around it, each within sight of at least two others. The front door of the old large house looked much newer than the rest of the building. Almost all of the windows on the ground floor were boarded up. Two windows still had intact glass but was caked with dust, dirt, and grime. Some broken windows on the second floor allowed the elements to go inside.
“I’ll leave the guards here if ye need anything they’ll help.” Captain Dumont said in a loud voice that carried to two of the guards. The two guards saluted the Captian. After giving the guards a returning salute and a nod to the party, the captain rode off back towards the gate.
“Well Rovi,” Guydalf said looking at his halfling friend.
“Alright, “ Rovi said, then looking at Co’Naan, “Can you throw me up to the roof?”
The big warrior carefully picked up Rovi. Placing one of his hands under Rovi’s feet, the halfling crouched down almost into a ball. Bending down to his knees, Co’Naan leaped upwards and extended his arm with Rovi in a smooth motion.
Rovi sailed through the air arcing a little higher than the two-story house. At peak height or close to it, Rovi’s boots glowed with a faint white light. As if he was a leaf, he drifted downward slowly and onto the roof of the house.
Carefully he crawled over to an eave, peered over, moved a little bit to the left, then lowered himself down. His small frame was barely long enough for him to hang onto the edge of the roof while the tips of his toes touched the top of the window frame. With a smooth motion, he kicked from the building slightly, and let go of the roof.
Briefly, Rovi fell, his hands catching the top of the window and his feet on the window sill. Peeking through the cloudy glass and seeing an empty room with crates, the halfling smiled. His right glove started to glow, and a small phantasmal hand appeared on the other side of the window. Carefully the halfling positioned his glove like it was over a lock, and turned it into the unlock position.
After the phantasmal hand unlocked the window, the halfling used his knees to raise the bottom part up. Once the window was up all the way, he placed both hands back on top of the window frame. Rovi kicked out from the window with his feet. His hands held him close, and as his feet swung towards the open window, he released his grip, almost flowing in through the window.
With a twist and a little flourish, Rovi landed facing outside the window at his friends. A huge smile on his face, hands raised in the air, breath held as he waited for his friends to be amazed.
The wooden floor gave away a second after he landed. The wood disintegrating like it was paper. Wide-eyed and screaming out, Rovi fell through the floor. Sharp blades cut up his legs and thigh. His armor resisted the blades, stopping his fall halfway.
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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.