Carnage in Cuttersley

The Carnival of the Day of the Dead: in honour of Anubis.

All of Cuttersley and its surrounding villagers were there in the throng about the Temple of All Gods.

The market square packed with costumed revelers and performers and the noise of 100s of voices all at once filled the air as the Abbot atop the temple steps led ceremony, with priests and followers of the other gods all paying heed on Anubis’ day.

Raef was amongst the crowd by the SW corner of the Temple playing his flute, dancing merrily amongst the people, drawing them to his tune.... that was until a wave of shock rippled through the packed crowd from South then East and West.

He stepped up to to a column to see over the crowd, revealing an encroaching force of far too realistic looking skeletons that had begun hacking down the revelers on the fringes! Packed in and fearing go their lives the whole town began panicking then attempting to flee they surged toward the temple.

At first Raef tried the access door on the East side of the temple, but found it locked and as he struggled with it, a rain of arrows began falling around him as the skeletons continued their advance. He rushed back to the steps at the front of the Temple; the South aspect and market square already littered with corpses and the dying.

 

At first the temple guards tried to hold a line on the steps while allowing the public within, but the withering arrows fell most heavily on their position, who one by one were falling, yet still the skeletons in the square drew closer.

From their vantage points on the surrounding rooftops the skeletons could see all. Yet despite all the fear and confusion, a monk was ignoring his own peril to tend to the injured and a mystic stood upon the steps hurling strange magicks at the foe, felling them one by one! So they could be killed.

Raef found courage and began a rallying call to the remaining guards as they continued to retreat to the huge doors. He called to the Abbot and sand with all his might to inspire some courage while stepping forward to do his part.

Soon the Monk and Mystic were assailed by first skeletons to reach the steps,

but a Bruxx darted in from somewhere and skewered one before rushing forth to deal with a second. With 4 ‘warriors’ together the first wave of skeleton warriors were dealt with swiftly.

 

With a little confidence found, looking out across the square, at the far end stood Brother Luth of the Temple of Ptah, attempting to defend himself from atop a cart, set upon all sides by what appeared to be cultists in dark robes.

Raef recognized him, calling again to the Abbot to rally himself and the guard. Still fearful they took a deal of persuasion before stepping forth, but only to hold the Temple door and urge these new warriors forth to save Brother Luth themselves.

 

Thankfully it seemed Raef had found good allies in a warrior monk of lightning fast martial skills, a magick wielding mystic, nay Wizard, and an uncannily nimble and roguish Bruxx.

The bard urged the group forth into the waves of skeletons that followed. Before he knew it the Monk and Bruxx were away ahead, slicing through them allowing himself and the Wizard to finish the remainder and continue.

Just as they broke the 1st line the cultists began rushing away, taking the fallen Brother Luth with them, bound upon the very cart he’d used as his defense.

The group was a little slowed by the remaining crowds and stray dogs, but largely bypassed the other skeletons, and hacking through the few cultists that held back to confront them, they forged on.

The Monk fought like a demon, and still was fast, yet the remaining cultists made headway with the cart and the pursuing party was stretched out over a few hundred yards.

A lurch round a corner led them into the Merchant’s district and the trail stopped at a huge warehouse belonging to the Tallhelm merchants. Only the Monk had been quick enough to see the cart disappear inside, before the great doors were closed behind it and a bar heard to be slid into place on the other side.

The others steadily caught up, but the impatient Monk, clearly incensed by recent events had begun circumnavigating the building looking for other entrances.

Once the Bruxx arrived he went around the opposite way. They were both just lost from sight down each side when the Wizard and Raef arrived at the great doors, both panting for breath after the long chase. Raef was offered a sip from a waterskin, thanking the wizard he tried to explain his understanding of events.

Raef tried the huge doors, but realised there must be a bar securing it from the other side. While he was trying the door however, they both heard noises from the far end of the building. The sounds already familiar struck of the Monk and Bruxx’ fighting styles.

While Raef stood frustrated and thinking, the quick-witted Wizard beside him muttered something and closed his eyes. A moment later they could here the sliding bar behind the doors and access was gained. A puzzled and astonished look crossed Raef’s face before quickly taking stock and making his entrance.

Inside the structure was huge, filled with crates and barrels of merchandise. Voices could be heard to the far right, out of sight, but to the left on a raised platform stood two crossbow-armed guards wheeling around in the newcomers’ direction. Before the guards could take aim, Raef rushed forward hurling some cutting abuse at them, then he hid behind a row of crates. The guards, momentarily distracted and wounded by Raef’s words, allowed the Wizard a moment to gather a fireball and throw it at the nearest guard, before ducking for cover himself as both were targeted by crossbow bolts.

Raef was sure his new allies were the cause of the commotion at the far right end of the building, so he began making his way across. Darting from cover to cover, he spotted them both being dragged unconscious from the hall through a door at the back. All the while the Wizard continued to hurl flaming fury at the guards, one fearful but stubborn took the abuse head on until his body failed him. The perhaps wiser, colleague fled up a ladder to access the loft above, still gibbering about arcane horrors. He wasn’t seen again.

Raef ducked into the short corridor leading off the doorway toward the screams of Brother Luth and the voice of a female torturer in a room off to one side. There was a door at the end with the grunting thuggish voices of two guards bickering over what to do with their prisoners and referring to an “Astrid”, who would tell them what to do. He made a quick and - what would prove to be - rash decision. Crashing thru the door, he revealed a terrible scene.

There was Brother Luth, close to death with a cultist leaning over him; slices gaping in his torso while a female in rich garb demanded information about a spy. Without time to think, Raef threw a dagger at the woman he assumed to be Astrid. She reacted quickly and turned just in time to receive merely a glancing cut to her cheek. Hopefully it would at least leave a scar, but before Raef could contemplate his work, she spoke dark twisting words that evoked a cloying green cloud that enveloped him and quickly starved him of air. He collapsed clutching at his throat.

She merely muttered some words of disgust at interruptions before closing the door with Raef left in the corridor and continued her foul work.

Slowly Raef came around just as the Wizard appeared by his side and proffered a potion, just a sip now. He felt a euphoric feeling of revitalisation rush through his body and was quickly back to his feet. Again hearing Brother Luth’s cries, it was clear he was nearly gone. Raef was fearful for Luth’s safety, but knew he had no chance of defeating the sorceress without the help of the others next door.

Frustrated by circumstance and timing, Raef crashed into the end room just - as it would seem - the Monk and Bruxx had woken. They were fighting with hands bound behind their backs, yet still the Monk was inflicting punishing kicks upon his captors. Raef’s rapid insertion allowed him to dart in, plunging his rapier into one guard’s kidney, before rushing around the table and jabbing his dagger into the other’s gut.

A flurry of kicks from the Monk finished that one, allowing Raef to free them both from their bonds.

Catching his breath again and gathering the party, they once more rushed into the side room, but this time all that remained was Brother Luth’s limp body and an unnervingly odd haze in the air. Astrid and her lackey were gone. Desperately Raef rushed to Luth’s side, with the Monk there also, but it was clear he was gone. They were too late.

Luth’s body was wheeled back, to the Temple on the very same cart used to steal him away. The skeletons had gone and the priests of the Temple were tending to the wounded; the Abbot and remaining guards were attempting to re-establish order.

Luth’s rescue party were thanked by the Abbot personally, their wounds treated and encouraged to rest and recover. In a quiet moment Raef was delivered a case left to him from Brother Luth’s possessions. He was questioned over the precise details of his connection to the fallen Brother, but managed to use a veil of grief to avoid providing any details. He wasn’t questioned further and they were left to rest.

While sat recovering, the party finally had a moment to introduce themselves and share their perspectives, before confiding in some thoughts of what to do next. All of them had been thrust into events that were beyond their choosing. It would seem the Gods had thrust them together for a reason. Their skills complemented one another and together they’d saved a town. Or had it all just been a distraction? Either way, it appeared Luth should be avenged and the sorceress Astrid must be stopped.

Published by Pete Fenner