Music – Bastion Soundtrack – Terminal March
“What is that thing?”
Uthal, Tricks, and Lisanna must have heard that question a dozen times while they portalled up to the Windy Valley from their original sighting of the Pandemonium Stone from the Hinterlands. Oh, there was no doubt it was the same stone they saw off the coast of Port Cullis all those months ago. But where had It been since disappearing from there? And why was it reappearing so soon? The party did not have time for these questions as they and the other capable fighters from the Holy Caravan (as it had been self-named) used a series of portals to double-time their ascent to the Windy Valley.
It was deemed the best way to slip into the Windy Valley unnoticed – travel with other embedded Empire agents in the long column of paladins, clerics, avengers, invokers, and assorted followers answering the Call. Together they marched as a heterogenous, righteous caravan, around the outskirts of the plaguelands, meeting up and combining with others going towards the stormy peaks of Delzimmar. Closer to their destination, people were also coming the other way, away from the mountains. They confirmed the suspicions of the caravan leader, Durkon, high priest of Pelor. It seemed that unseasonable autumn lightning storms were striking along the peaks of the Windy Valley. The party heard the grizzled dwarf on these occasions muttering that the second coming of the Nightmare Storms was upon us, and may Pelor help the unprepared.
Lyod watched the approach, working through possible tactics they could deploy to defeat this enemy, for he knew that it would require cunning and teamwork. The beginnings of an idea had started to formulate when his companion leapt into the fray, and had his rapier buried in the neck of the first guard before Lyod (or the guard) could even react. Oh well, nothing like some improvisation. Lyod moved quickly backwards, trying to take advantage of Kro’s distraction and flank the enemy. He begun to whirl chain, building the momentum, and rhythm necessary wield the heavy weapon, and keep himself out of harms way. The undead it appeared were not quick, and he easily vaulted between them, launching and landing for scant seconds before continuing the movement to the next target. He was starting to get into the flow, and had already felled 4, before he landed, and scoped the area. Those he had ‘felled’ were beginning to rise. Shattered bones and skulls it appeared only dissuaded the undead.
Without warning, Kro burst out from the underbush, his rapier aloft as he went for a quick decapitation of the closest guard. Caught of guard, the guard did not have the time to raise any sort of alarm giving Kro a few scant seconds to fall upon his next victim. Fortunately for Kro and Lyod, newly risen undead aren’t highly organised, for had they been so, they surely would have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of numbers that were present.
Haphazardly weaving his way through the fray, Kro eventually found himself face to face with Lyod. Giving each other feral grins, they took back to back positions as the remaining undead surrounded them.
He looked ahead, at least the brutes were smart enough to have a fire going for him. Would’ve been hell to raise if there hadn’t, he chuckled at his own pun, before sighing. That was the problem these days. He just didn’t have good help, didn’t get the respect he deserved, like back in the war. Those were the good old days. He would bring them back, and blast what anyone said about him. It was a war, who were they to call him up on his tactics. It was a war damnit, which they won. The damn pen-pushers should stay out of his business, and curse what they had to say about necromancy. A soldier was a soldier was a soldier, you would’ve thought they’d be happy not to waste more lives.
Malkeem was getting angry, as he often did when recalling the past. He tried to breathe, and thought of his plans for the future to calm himself down as he strolled into camp. It was empty, and it looked like it had been looted. His breathing was no longer calm. He span towards Rogir, one of the few competent people left from his army days.
“Find who did this. Find them now. Bring them to me, alive, so that I can skin them. I’m going back to the manor, I’m counting on you to get this damn mess sorted”
He moved through the camp to where his insignia was inscribed on the ground, muttered a few words and disappeared.
Magic Malkeem. That’s what they had called him during the war. Nowadays he was known as Malkeem the Malicious or Malkeem the Mad. He preferred just being called Malkeem, but whatever. What people called him was of little consequence for he had bigger problems to deal with.
The two onlookers hung back, surprised at how well the caravan guards accounted for themselves. Clearly, their weapons were not just for show, and in short order they had the bandits whittled down to two, the fight, intense though it was, looked to be over, as the last bandit was felled by a brutal backhanded lunge which took the startled outlaw through the throat. The two moved between the corpses, ensuring that they were dead, and relieving them of their purses and weapons. Moving quickly, they had everything they needed, and were on their way within a few minutes.
The bugbear turned to his companion “Spose we can take the road again then. Might be worth scouting around here to see where they made camp, should be able to stock up a bit” he started to jog off “any objections?”
The caravan trundled past the two skulking figures before coming to a stop at the ‘checkpoint’ further along the road. The said ‘checkpoint’ was very simply, some medium sized rocks and tree branches laid out on the muddy track by some very clever bandits.
The two continued to skirt along the edge of the Plaguelands, heading back East to report the success of the hunt. The plaguelands were not a particularly nice place at the best of times, there was no rule of law greater than that which you enforced with your own hand, and power tended to shift between local bandit lords and other such opportunists – at least until they were themselves the victim of ‘opportunity’. The best way to get through was to keep your head down, and avoid company, lest you be harangued for ‘tolls’ or ‘upkeep’ for using what amounted to roads in the area.
After LyOD had apologized and reassured the farmer they were not adventurers with battleaxes, he and Kro journeyed further into the Plaguelands.