The last time we saw our facially blessed bastions of endeavors, our adventurers rendezvoused back in Franklin to meet with the Wizard and discuss next steps for their adventure. The Barkeep, Captain Crimson, and Gunslinger set sail to the isle of Cremouth to find the elusive and mysterious Marksman. During the meeting, the Scribe confirmed that they would require the services of the mechanically minded dwarf, the Inventor. The Hero, the Distiller, and the Scribe make the uneventful journey to the town of Dey to recruit the Inventor for their cause. The quiet trip is deceiving as the trio ride into the smoky valley where the city of Dey resides…
The Hero, Distiller, and Scribe reach the top of the ridge that slopes down into what is supposed to be the valley that is home to the town of Dey. However, as their horses come to a stop at the peak of the ridge, the explorers saw nothing but smog. The smell of burning stings the nostrils of the adventurers as they survey the scene.
“I would be willing to bet that the town of Dey would be the source of this smoke,” assesses the Hero.
The others nod in agreement and they begin the long trek down the side of the mountain. The further into the valley that the thicker the smog got until it was impossible to see more than six feet ahead. The only way they could tell they were still on track was the small goat path that they were following down the mountain. They couldn’t see any landmarks, they couldn’t see any mountains. They couldn’t see anything, until the bright orange glowing in the distance confirmed the trio’s worst fears.
The company reaches the edge of town and sees the remains of several buildings. Some buildings were still burning, but some have already been reduced to smoldering rubble. Several dead bodies were still lying in the street, the living were nowhere to be seen. The Hero eyes the roofing and windows of the remaining buildings, looking for anyone, friend or foe. There was no one. It was deserted.
The trio began searching through the buildings for survivors. It was obvious great violence has taken place here. All the bodies found had been hacked, slash, and shot. The women and children too.
After several hours, the three meet in the town square, crest-fallen by the devastation that they saw.
“I haven’t found anyone, the bank vault was blown wide open. The stores have been ransacked,” mutters the Scribe.
“Me neither, but I haven’t found a dwarf either,” says the Distiller.
The Hero looks around exasperated. There has to be survivors or signs of where the perpetrators went.
That’s when he thought he saw a flash from the church windows. It could have been a figment of his imagination, but it was the best lead that they have. The heroes set off across the razed hellscape. They get to the church, it had seen better days. It had been set on fire but for some reason had gone out before destroying the whole church. Several holes had been knocked in the walls, as well as the steeple, but both were still standing. The Hero opens the door slowly, looking in. The pews were mostly intact, the pulpit still in place, and the organ still sitting in the corner. Despite the devastation all around, the sanctuary of this church still looks like it could be just that, a sanctuary.
Thensmall whisper followed by a quiet hushing. The heroes look around, unsure of where the sound is coming from.
“I’m becoming very uneasy,” whispers the Scribe.
The Distiller, on the other hand, already has a working theory turning in his mind.
“Follow me,” whispers the Distiller, leading the others outside and around the side of the church. Behind a large bush is a set of double doors in the ground. The Hero draws a large quillion dagger from his sheath and pries the doors open.
The Hero pulls the doors back and two dozen sets of eyes stare back at him.
“Don’t worry we aren’t here to hurt you. We came here looking for a friend and, seeing your town in disarray, we’re searching for him and any other survivors,” assures the Hero.
A feeble old man stumbles out of the hole, followed by an older lady, a few other older people, several children, and young women. By the time, all the survivors had piled out of the cellar, there counted around 35 to 40 souls that had taken shelter beneath the church.
The old man approaches the Hero.
“I’m an alderman, one of the farmers was coming into town and saw the raiders coming from across the ridge. He was the only reason we can stand before you today. I was tasked with gathering all of the women and children, along with elderly who were unable to defend themselves, and hide them here. We were sure they would find us. They attacked a day ago, and I left last night to see what was left. Our lives have been destroyed. I returned hoping whatever survivors would come back to bring us out of here. We were afraid that the raiders might return,” the old man explains.
The Hero looks to the Distiller and the Scribe and the look on their faces confirmed that they had the same theory that was spinning around the Hero’s head.
The Hero turns to them, “I can only guess where the Inventor is.”
“They took. They saw the same value in him as we did and they’ve taken him for whatever nefarious purpose they have in mind,” condoms the Scribe.
“Or he fought like the furies and they have drug him away to provide him a more gruesome end than what these people met,” the Distiller added.
The Hero turns back to the Alderman, “Do you know where we can find these raiders? We fear that they have our friend.”
The alderman looks to his wife, conflicted whether to tell these few adventurers where to find the hive of bandits. Turning back to the heroes, “They are in the Waterford holler. There are many caves in the area from the water flowing down the mountains across the limestone bedrock. They hide out in the caves there. Please just be careful, as you can see these men are savage and vicious. I would beg you to leave while you still have your lives.”
The Hero turns and looks at his fellow travellers and then back at the townspeople. Not the most battle-hardened group but he knew they needed the Inventor and these people didn’t stand a chance. They had to go. The Hero had to live up to his name.