Rufus & Remble: Death comes to Cobrook

Realising they’ve not gotten sufficient rest the pair decide to ignore the sunrise and opt to take a long rest in the light, by the time they’ve had sufficient rest it is mid afternoon.

They discuss the best path to take from here and opt to head south, they make some distance finding evidence of small, long abandoned homesteads in the area as they move. 

Concerned by this Remble uses his natural ability to track and senses some humanoids to the East in a cluster suggesting a settlement of some kind. They decide to rest up before travelling there the next day. Evening passes without problem. 

In the mid morning of the following day they arrive in the vicinity of a small hamlet in the forest, with a single road in and out. The community seems to be arrayed around a large pool of water. A few women are seen in the streets. 

Rufus writes a note which states ‘Death is coming’, which they put in to Dave’s mouth, the dog then sneaks in to the settlement drop the note by what appears to bea well. He manages to drop the note successfully but as he leaves he’s spotted causing some screams and panic. Dave flees but a watchman appears and with a whistle three mastiffs run out of the building to follow him. .

The watchman shows the mastiffs the paper notes seeming to hope to scent the creature that left it. Immediately the three mastiffs follow the scent and with a howl chase after Dave. The watchman follows hurriedly. Realising they are about to be revealed Remble release an arrow at the watchman that strikes him, it then explodes into a hail of wooden shards that cause further minor injuries to him and two of the mastiffs. 

Rufus attempts to confuse the watchman using a spell to cause madness but the guard manages to shake of the effects. Remble sends Dave to attack the nearest the nearest Mastiff but he struggles to bite the equally large dog. Dave blinks back to Rembles side to avoid being hit. 

Remble sends a second arrow at the lead mastiff striking it successfully. Causing a whimper but it continues towards them. Rufus casts a firebolt which he doubles splits the spell between the two mastiffs closest to him. The first strikes the dog nearest and incinerates the creature as it bursts in to flames. The second bolt achieves a similar effect on the mastiff Remble had just hit, the creature dashes away in flames before collapsing in a dying smouldering heap. 

The Watchmen seeing his dogs being kills so quickly drops back and shoots an arrow at the dwarf, it flies true but an arcane barrier shimmers as the arrow shatters on impact. A moment later a second arrow thumps into the tree by Remble. The Watchman then retreats back in to the hamlet, disappearing from view. 

The remaining mastiff leaps at Dave and bites at the blink dog’s neck piercing the skin and drawing blood. Dave tries to snip back at it, but doesn’t manage to hurt the creature and he then disappears, reappearing behind Remble. The elf then takes aim with the bow and looses an arrow at the dog, it lands solidly causing a howl of pain. 

Rufus sends another firebolt at the Mastiff and strikes it flank, the fur busts into flames and turns the creature in to a charred lump of flesh within moments. 

An arrow flies from the settlement but thumps into a tree by Rufus and a horn blasts out from somewhere nearby. After which the streets in the small settlement empty. The area quietens down and the watchman doesn’t reappear. The streets are now empty and nothing moves in the area. Rufus and Remble opt to simply hang back and observe the town and over a few hours 

They occasionally see individuals running between the buildings but everything seems quiet and no one exposes themselves to any threat for more than a moment. The pair observes the sound of hidden movement but nothing passes them in either direction. They decide to move in to the village, Rufus turns himself invisible he looks around the area seeing a total of nine buildings, with two larger ones and an obvious stable. He spots a couple of watchmen with another mastiff patrolling the further side of the village.

The patrol passes Rufus and he stays still hoping the invisibility will keep him safe, the mastiff seems to notice something but doesn’t leave the guards, his eyes piercing the space between him and Rufus, but it continues onwards with the watchmen. Eventually Rufus returns to Remble and the corpses of the mastiffs. He decides to use his staff to attempt to animate one of them. 

He holds the staff out and attempts to use it on the mastiffs corpse, there’s a lot of resistance and the spell begins but acts much more slowly than his previous uses. Finally the spectral light emanates from the staff and touches the corpse which begins to reform. The bones and joint snap and crack horrendously before the creature finally rises up in a more humanoid form than dog, it stands on its hind legs and were it not for the fur and skull shape and paws it no longer looked like a dog. 

Rufus notices the staff’s crystal has completely dulled following his act and deep in his mind he hears the single word “penalty”. He tries to respond to advise he would harvest more souls, but receives only another single word response of “unacceptable”. 

The pair pin another note to the dogman’s chest written in blood from the mastiff they then send the creature in to the hamlet as it walks into the settlement there’s no sign of activity until it reaches the far side and the patrol spot it. Their mastiff charges at the creature quickly and the two watchmen immediately charge the undead dog. 

Rufus has the dog Zombie attack the mastiff, it slams at the mastiff causing some minor bludgeoning damage the two watchmen throw their spears at the zombie, causing it injuries and the mastiff bites at it. Remble runs closer and fires off an arrow at the Zombie, which takes a solid strike, it seems to collapse for a moment, but then the magic seems to pull it back together and it stands again. Remble shouts telling the watchmen to stand back. 

The two watchmen ignore the new arrival concentrating on the Zombie dog, Rufus shouts warning them if they are bitten they will also become undead. Ignoring him a watchmen attacks again with a second spear, again it seems to collapse but the magic affecting it seems to keep it upright. Remble again shouts for them to leave it alone. The second watchman attacks the creature striking it in a swiping movement and severs its neck, sending the head toppling to the ground. Rufus feels the souls release from the creature. 

The watchmen turn their attention to the elf and shout at him. “Your name, Elf!”, Remble gives them his name and says he was hunting the undead with his dog and companion the dwarf. The Watchmen appear to accept the explanation whilst Rufus covers the top of his staff with a rag. Remble claims the dwarf is his servant. 

Ignoring that comment Rufus explains they are hunters following rumours of undead activity. They claim a necromancer is understood to be in the area and they have found evidence of disturbed graves. 

The watchmen say they’ve heard nothing of these rumours until their strange experience that afternoon. But that most evils don’t usually give advance notice of death, as they show them the note from the creature. 

The two watchmen advise the pair to follow them, Rufus continues his explanation about another town being attacked by a similar Zombie. As they walk Dave and the Mastiff inspect each other. Both seem uncomfortable until the Watchman shouts a command and it returns to his side. 

Rufus suggests they burn the zombie but a watchman snorts derision and ignores the comment. They head back towards the first building in the hamlet, arriving they knock on the door and are welcomed in, the mastiff charges in first. The group squeeze into the small building which appears to be a basic office. Another official is sitting behind the desk and the two guards hand him the note from the Zombie’s chest. He reads it and suggests it matches the earlier note. 

The two watchmen advise him the two adventurers have claimed the undead are coming, they also suggest the zombie looked “like” Artemis, but had been upright walking on its hind legs. 

Rufus questions why they haven’t heard of these events and telling them the problem is only going to get worse. The man stands and kneels next to Dave, ruffling the dog’s fur. He calls the other mastiff over and offers both a small portion of cheese. The Mastiff takes some greedily but Dave doesn’t so the man swallows it himself and throws another piece to the Mastiff. Dave looks remorseful and so he offers the dog another piece. 

He tells them the first note had been delivered by a dog according to the women of the village. Rufus talks more about his experiences at the Mages home, with the Kobolds whilst the official listens grateful for the information. The official advises the undead and kobolds aren’t a problem for their community but suggest a necromancer is unlikely to trouble them. He seems upset about the dogs and explains when he finds whoever did this to Artemis will be punished. 

Rufus enquires what keeps them safe from problems and the official explains they look after themselves but the local town of Saltmarsh is also there should they need them. The dwarf asks about the Minotaur lord, the official tells him the creature is in the hands of the elves. Rufus corrects him advising that he’s free. The man seems surprised and says they would have expected this news from Saltmarsh. 

The official queries how Rufus is aware of this and so the dwarf gives more information about what happened whilst he was tracking the necromancer. The official calls one of the watchmen across and tells him to go speak with Myla, and to inform her the attack may relate to Aamlen’s escape, she’s to send a messenger to Fystone for confirmation, urgently. 

Rufus asks how many troops they have, but the official simply tells him “enough”. Though the dwarf expresses doubt. The official tells them is it unlikely there will be any reason for Aamlen to come to Cobrook. He expresses doubt the issues in the settlement have anything to do with the Kobolds or Aamlen, but seems confident there will be a large reward for returning Aamlen to the Elves. He seems surprised the Elves hadn’t asked Rufus for help, he claims they did but he wasn’t sure of their intentions. The official acknowledges it’s difficult to know who you can trust. 

Rufus and Remble agree to head to the villages inn, they head into The Bronze Spear, which is a small single story tavern. As the strangers arrive the locals stare briefly but return to their conversation about the attack and the mastiffs who had been killed, and the weird one that walked back into the town. They’re followed by the official who calls for the barkeep Elhild, who leaves the bar with him. 

A patron moves behind the bar and offers the paid food and drink which they accept. They ask about renting a room for the night but the patron tells them to speak with Elhild when she returns. They’re given the drinks they requested and the patron then asks if they’d heard about Merrin’s dogs. The pair agrees they had seen the demon dog. The patron tells them how the mastiffs had apparently been set on fire. Rufus acknowledges and said he thought it was more concerning one had been raised from the dead, and that attacks have been occurring all over the region. 

The Patron thinks the “elves” are over dramatic and underprepared, but he’s interrupted by Elhild who immediately sends him back to the other side of the bar. She asks Rufus and Remble if they need a room, as Merrin has told her they might. She offers them a room for a reasonable rate, which they accept. Rufus asks if it was her that was being sent to Fystone but she laughs that off saying they have runners for that purpose. 

Rufus tried to dig up information about the village but Elhild doesn’t reveal much, only the town’s connections with other settlements. She tells him the dead aren’t a concern for their small community and that the Minotaur who has been freed, is a threat to all free folk. 

The pair decides to retire for a nights rest after arranging their breakfast arrangements with the innkeeper.

Source: The Mackenzie Blog

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