Lights in the Darkness

Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 3

The Welcoming Committee of Taygle's End

The people of Taygle’s End are not known for their hospitality. They were cold the last time we passed through and now that we are back, little has changed. As soon as our company departed from the riverboats we were not surprisingly greeted with shuttered windows, barking dogs, and distant stares. I couldn’t believe that we were in the same town that we visited a couple months back, so much more decay, boarded up doors, broken windows and burned down buildings…something is amiss, perhaps there is something to this cult rumor.

After making our way to the church with a huge entourage of mercenaries, perhaps we could have been more tactful, we came to the door of the church courtyard which was barred. Orhan of course still a student of human cultural norms, jumped the fence and opened the door just in time for us to hear, “Halt!” We were met by the town watch and shortly thereafter Cowal appeared from the rectory. Not surprisingly, Osric did not hide his reason for being here and so the game was on, so we would learn. Words were exchanged and Cowal eventually settled Osric down and we behaved according to their plan when our company decided to split up, with our mercenary troop and a few of our trusted followers setting up camp in the caravan yard to the North of town. Osric and the other Makerite clergy would enjoy dinner with Cowal, while Orhan and I would enjoy dinner at one of the inns. Did we fall for the bait, or did they?

The inn was nice enough, while I found it unusual that the innkeeper was as polite as he was, considering the welcome we had just received. It was also strange that there were so many locals present, with the town so run down and obviously on hard times how can these folk afford to eat at the inn? The pieces were fitting into the puzzle. I was part way into my fish dinner, which was lovely by the way, when my vision narrowed and I felt ill. I looked around the rest of the table and puzzled looks were on everyone, as Dudda plowed his face into the plate of quail. Poison was coursing through our veins…knowing the trap was sprung, I rose up and demanded to see the cook, who was observing us from the doorway into the kitchen. The innkeeper rushed towards us and insisted that the rest of the patrons help us, that was when I started muttering the incantations for a spell that would entice them all into slumber. Xenocrates and Orhan mirrored my actions while Henryk raised his axe and Anger drew his sword, what would fate decide?

All at the same time three townsfolk assaulted me, I avoided their blows as I finished the final syllable of my sleep spell. The room dimmed as a vaporous horn appeared in front of me, I blew into it as a cloud of smoke drifted into the crowd of commoners. Six collapsed into sleep, but not before one struck Xenocrates. He finished his incantation simaltaniously, a swirling opaque fog appeared just in front of him and a Brimman horn could be heard all around us, figures appeared in the fog, screaming battle cries as they charged forth. At the same moment Orhan was struck by the cook opening a light wound in his arm disrupting his spell. Ansger made a double swing removing the arm of a farmer that was assaulting me and followed through with a deep gash into the cook. Not to be outdone Henryk disemboweled the innkeeper and with a step forward removed the head off the cook. “Well that escalated quickly,” I thought to myself as Xenocretes ordered the berserkers to finish off the sleeping townsfolk.

I gave orders to bar the doors and prepare oil to burn down the inn. This would be the distraction we need to disrupt the town and save our friends at the church. Henryk barred the front door first and then moved through the kitchen to secure the rear door. Orhan checked the bodies of the fallen, noting the cook’s dagger appeared to be of fine make and was carrying a poison on the blade. Ansger attended to Dudda making sure he was going to be alright, he began to vomit, which was a good sign. I began to pull oil from my pack.

Orhan, the level headed one said, “Hold fast! We know not who is upstairs, the men we are looking for could be up there for all we know.”

“The doors are barred!” exclaimed Henryk.

“You’re right Orhan, let’s search the rest of the inn. Ansger and Henryk form up! Xenocrates get the berskerkers in formation. We’re sticking together.” I thought to myself, “I hope Osric and the others aren’t in peril, we have to get to them quickly.” The warriors formed up and we began pressing upstairs…

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Hardrada

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