I arrived, after walking for what seems like weeks, to the small hamlet of Corwick, which lies just south of Caer Athair. The town is small, maybe only a few hundred people to inhabit a few buildings. Readily there are only two inns in sight, one is a large stone building with an elaborate sign, carved from wood, of a dolphin breaching with the words “Drunken Dolphin” inscribed above. Secondly, across the way, is a small single story building, built entirely of wood with a small plaque next to the door that says only “The Tipsy Turtle”.
Given my circumstances, I will make my way to the less elegant one, in order to avoid familiar faces. From just outside I can hear the loud roar of the inn, and the moment I open the door I am greeted with scantly-clad “soldiers”, both standing and sitting, but the entire building seems full. Eventually I find an empty chair off to the right of the bar, at a small table filled with even more men. I move the chair from the table to up against the wall and I wait. When dusk hits I intend to move on.
I notice that all of the men are either bloodied or at least had been. The room smelt of dirty men and dead flesh. I turn to a man to my right and ask: “What happened to you guys?” The table falls quiet as they all stop and stare at me, finally a man, maybe 30 or so, speaks up. “They came from nowhere, they fired volley after volley from the trees, yet not a single one of us saw anyone.” “I have never seen an ambush like that, the men here are all that are left, save those in the infirmary.” “Where is the infirmary?” I ask. “It’s a small white building just to the north.” the man replies.
Deciding that I may be of use there, I thank the man and make my way to the door.
Suddenly I notice small cloaked figure huddled next to the door, in front of him lie two men, barely alive, that I had not noticed on my way in. I try to squeeze past when the figure grabs me and asks me to help. I noticed instantly that this was not a man, he was a Dark Elf, and alien, the first one I have ever seen. His skin is a deep blue and his hair is silvery with these blue/white eyes.
Looking at the men I notice that their condition is dire. Both are a pale green with bloated faces and barely breathing. I look to the Elf, then to the men, kneeling in front of them. I feel a deep sensation in my hands as I placed them on the their shoulders. I can feel instantly, the power drain from me and into the two men leaned up against the wall. almost immediately, their breathing regulates as they turn a less horrid colour. The Elf looks to me with disbelief, “That should do it.” I say, standing up and heading out the door.
Soon after leaving I determine which way is North and start walking, but not before being stopped by a “soldier” who followed me out from the inn. “What did you do to those men?” He asks. “I made them better.” The man looks at me with disbelief, “It looks like you poisoned them!” I notice now that the Elf has followed us both from the inn. “Do you know what it looks like when someone gets poisoned?” I ask. He declined. “Are you a doctor?”
I ask, again he declines. “This man just saved those men.” the Elf adds. “They were poisoned, but this man, he did something.” “Now they are fine.” he finishes.
“Well, I suppose that settles that,” I say as I turn to walk away. The guard looks at the two of us, then runs back inside. “Thanks” I tell the Elf. “I was just on my way to the infirmary to see if I cant do some work there, care to join me?” I ask the Elf. “Sure, just let me get my things.” The Elf soon returns with his bag and we make our way North.
The building is not hard to find, its small, white, and already reeks of death. As we enter the building we are greeted with chaos. Everywhere nurses are running around, tending to wounded, and the room is filled with cots, all full but only a few were still alive. Underneath I could see more men lying on the ground, and everywhere the floor was covered in a mixture of all bodily fluids.I grab a nurse, “Which wing holds the most critical patients?” She looks at me, worried, and gestures to the entire building.
Frantically, I ask he to fetch anything that has colour. I turn to the Elf, “We have to organize those too far gone from those that we can save.” The nurse returns with a large bucket filled almost entirely of blood. Making due, I grab the bucket and start tearing up some shirts into equally sized rags. I begin to soak them in the blood until they are stained red, I start to tie them to the arms of those that will not survive. “Get started over there.” I tell the Elf, and he does the same to as many as he can.
The second we have identified the dying from the others, I begin running around the room channeling all the power I can muster into those not marked. Just as the sun starts to set, I finish. Those that were in the east wing were mostly gone, and those that were in the west managed to hang on. I instruct the nurses to assist us in moving all the dead to the east wing, while moving the living to the west wing.
“We have to bury these dead as soon as possible”I tell the Elf. “we need all the help we can get.” We make our way back to the inn, which is still filled with “soldiers”. I grab an empty chair and hoist myself up, “Everyon…” when suddenly the chair breaks throwing me to the ground, and I notice that hardly anyone has noticed. The Elf steps up and shouts; “Everyone who can manage it, we need you all to help us bury those that died in the infirmary.”
Brushing myself off I notice that most of those still able to walk begin making their way out. On the way back I notice a large cart next to a small house, knocking on the door an old bearded man answers. “Sir, may we borrow your cart to help us bury the dead from today, I can pay you for your trouble.” “Please, take it, no charge.” the mans says.
I grab the cart and get it to the infirmary. the Elf walks up and starts covering the cart in hay, “So that we may give it back to the man when we finish.” I nod and start moving bodies onto the cart. Just to the East there was a small field, I turn to the soldiers and ask them to start digging graves, 6 feet deep. About 30 men start digging and I grab a shovel and help myself. The night wares on and slowly, men start dispersing. I managed to dig all night, but by the time the sun rises we only have about 80 of the 120 graves needed. Currently there are only myself, the Elf, and two soldiers still digging.
Suddenly, I notice a small child has been sitting on a pile of dirt nearby, when she produces a lute I notice that its not a child, but only a halfling. She begins playing a funerary tune that I am all too familiar with. As the song fills my head the sun starts to face and soon, its all I can hear.
I awake at the inn, covered in dirt and blood and sweat. When I leave its about mid day and I make my way back to the cemetery. there are some people standing around when I notice that the Elf and the halfling are putting bodies into graves. I grab a shovel, again, and continue digging. The only thing that allows me to continue is knowledge that these men died with honour, and that this is the least amount of respect that I may pay them.
Around 2 in the afternoon a large man walks up, “We should just burn them.” he says. “What and set the town on fire?” I retort. He smirks and sets off to the nearby woods with the halfling as they start collecting woods. My only way to win this is to dig the rest of the graves needed, so again I think of that tune and dig faster and harder than ever. By the time they have build the pyres, I finish the last grave. Looking at the man, “We need to fill the graves first, then burn those that are left over.” He agrees and we all start filling graves.
By night the graves are filled and a few rest on the pyres, those that dies during the day, and large groups of people start to gather as the fires are lit. not long after the Elf nudges me and I look up, past the light I can vaguely see 4 dark figures climbing a slight hill not 100 yards away. We subtly alert both the man and the Halfling and start to arm ourselves. By now the men look to be running low to the ground, in our direction.
Two bolts fly past, hitting two citizens behind me. In a fit of rage I expel a burst of energy and instantly one of the men bursts into flames, he dies instantly. The halfling runs forward and utters some incantation when I notice two of the men fall asleep. the Elf leaps forward and seizes the last man. Soon we have all of them bound, both hand and feet, when they start to haul the man away, forgetting the two asleep. I manage to haul them to the infirmary, which was not far away.
As soon as I have the men tied to some cots, they awake. “Who are you?” I ask. One of the mans states that he is only a mercenary. “Who is your leader?” One man replies; “Our leader, a dwarf, he is the one that gives the orders.” I grab one of the mans hands and hold the tip of my knife under hid fingernail, ready to dig in. “What are you doing here, and don’t lie.” He states that they were sent here to kill citizens of the town, and that their leader is fed his orders by some outside source, but they do not know who.
Having decided that the day was over I decided it best to get some rest. I inspected the two men, making sure that their ropes held. I was concerned just to leave them here, alone. For some reason I felt they may have some allies in the town that could free them. Taking the risk, I decided that it would be best if I just sleep here for the night and just scrub out the putrid smell in the morning.
I awoke, still in my armour, to find that the two men were indeed gone. Much to my pleasure, they decided not to kill me, of which I am still perplexed about. Though I feared that they may still be inside, I grabbed my mace and my shield and took my time inspecting the building. The building was entirely empty, empty of nurses, even the soldiers had passed in the night, a circumstance I fear will haunt me.
Deciding it best to inform the others that I was with yesterday, I made for the inn. Instantly I notice, just outside the door, are the footprints of two men with rough upturned dirt, I assume that they were a few of the nurses, heading directly north.
When I finally arrive at the inn I am greeted by the Dark Elf and it soon becomes apparent that I smell terrible. I explain that the prisoners that they decided to just leave me with escaped in the night and possibly have a few hostages with them. I notice behind him that my scent must have spread throughout the inn when the lute-child runs up and throws some sweet smelling perfume my direction. I know it is nowhere good enough, but some must be better than nothing.
I look down to see our one remaining prisoner, that has the audacity to ask me how many men the other two killed. I explain that is was nearer to twenty men and that his day will be bad enough when the Dark Elf cuts in. He partitions him about some “deal” to which I was not aware and the Elf agrees.
I decide that someone ought to notify the “Captain of the Guard”, as it were. Eventually I arrive at the mans house and he arrives nearly instantly, as I knock. The man himself has obviously seen battle. His right eye is covered in a yellow and red stained cloth bandage that circles his head and the right side of his face. He asked me my business and I tell him the situation in its entirety. When I ask for the assistance of the town to rescue the kidnapped nurses, the man seem surprised to the knowledge of the bandit camp to the north.
After some futile banter he decided it better to not send hundreds of soldiers for the lives of two women. This man, in my mind, has only seen so much battle simply because hes is surely the first to flee. I point out his dishonor and cowardice and walk away.
I notice as I make my way through the town that my “companions” thought it best simply to keep walking. Fighting the urge just to buy a horse and move on, I go to the lake that is just south of the camp, assuming that they are already there. From some ways off I notice that my assumption was correct and I can see them camped just on the shore.
As I arrive the Elf and the man grab me unexpectedly and toss me back into the lake, a venture I am aware of the cause, though I would prefer to avoid bodies of water for the time being. I take my time bathing and cleaning my armour and clothes. When I finish I alert them that the town refuses to assist us with the bandits, a decision I am curious of. Why someone would refuse to try and solve a dire problem as this is beyond me.
The man kneels to the prisoner, of which I had totally forgotten, asking his name. “Erath” the man replies, obviously timid to do so. The child on the other hand seems to be moderately fond of him or either very well mannered, I feel it clear which is preferable. The Elf asked the child for her name, “Delyn” the girl responds, after an exchange of greeting I suddenly find myself with a man named “Ralin” and the Elf has some queer name, but I find he prefers “Vesh”.
I also, not sure why, feel it appropriate to give them my real name, as opposed to my previous alias. I explain as little as possible about why for this moment, but I figured while everyone was in the mood to trade name, I might as well.
We continue on for some time into the wood just north of the lake, where the camp was rumored to be, prisoner in the hands of the blacksmith. I notice that the Dark Elf has an aversion to bright lights, as he does his best to hide from the sun. An hour or so passes and we come to a small clearing in the woods and it soon becomes apparent that we are not alone.