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(RP) The Wait

Jepeth

Journeyman
Governor
Britain. Vesper. Yew. In the next week it repeated over and over again. A necromancer appeared at these city’s graveyards, raised the dead, and then absconded with the horde. A paltry force was left to engage the living to cover the escape.

The Royal Britannian Guard was being run ragged. They weren’t the only ones, either. Forces from the Jhelom Fighters Guild, the Paladin Order, and even a detachment of Meer from Ilshenar tried to find the horde and head off their next appearance. It didn’t seem to matter. Every spot in the land where the dead were known to rise was either already pillaged or would be soon. Conspicuously absent, however, was any assistance from the Council of Mages.

It was late at night in one of the many great halls of Castle British. A fire had been built by one of the castle's few remaining attendants for the regular meeting of some honored guests. Through the end of the rule of Lord British, through the rule of Queen Dawn, and now into the rule of King Blackthorn this group of old soldiers, knights, and warriors continually met to discuss the politics of the realm. This regular gathering was one of the only things they had left.

“We’re being invaded,” said a Britannian general to the room full of old knights in glorious golden armor, their weak bodies almost too frail to move in the heavy suits. “This horde grows for reasons we don’t know, but soon the hammer will fall.”

“The King will not act without more information,” said another old knight. “I fear by the time He does it may be too late.”

“The King must mobilize the realm’s army!” said yet another old knight with a face of battle scars. “He should conscript the young of the realm into action!”

“Our King knows plenty of war,” said the old General, “He’s afraid of leading Britannia into yet another endless conflict, even if a larger conflict manifests.”

The assembled knights bristled at that comment, it smacked of cowardice.

“The King of Second-Chances should especially not hesitate to defend the realm,” grumbled one of the old knights.

“It is exactly because of his previous experience he proceeds with caution,” offered the old General. “It is the same reason he has not ordered the Council of Mages into action. Being too hasty could have lasting consequences.”

“Hmpf, as if they’d even come if He called,” another old knight snorted.

“Does it not seem,” wheezed the oldest among them, “that bit by bit various foes have chipped away at His rule and He has done nothing to stop it?”

All the old men in the room stopped and gaped at their elder.

“I do not like the implication, Sir,” said the old general sternly.

“Like it not,” chuckled the eldest knight, ”ye should examine recent events. Pirates, Fellowship, Necromancers. His rule is challenged openly, everywhere, and He does nothing. Why?”

The question hung in the air.

***

Like any new settlement, the Pirate’s Plunder Tavern was the first building built in the failed colony on Buccaneer's Den. The island and colony was first settled by merchants who were eventually driven out by thieves, pirates, and other scoundrels to aid in their illicit trade. The name ‘Pirate’s Plunder’ even pre-dated the pirate-takeover. As if those who built the tavern always knew what it was destined for. It was a plain enough building, wood frame and sturdy, with enough chairs and tables to seat an entire Britannian frigate’s worth of crew. Tonight the tavern’s great room was crowded and rowdy. The ‘law’ all around the realm was engaged in another great task and that left room to flourish for those who would take a little more for themselves.
That night, fresh from another daring (and this time, much more successful) escape sat Threepwood at the tavern bar. After every successful scuttling, escape, or plundering he made a small ritual of enjoying a nice grog at the Pirate’s Plunder. His body still ached from his previous escape attempt (jumping off the roof of the Court of Truth jail) and his subsequent resurrection on the order of his Cousin and his Cousin’s flunky.

“Yer still a bit pink around the eyes an’ ears,” said the bartender, looking at him as he whipped a dirty rag around the rim of a mug. “I ‘ear the ‘rez-ur-wreckshun’ spell be a pain.”

“Hurts no worse than yer grog goin’ down,” replied Threepwood as he took another swig.

“Ah yer lucky they didn’t bury ya!” yelled a slightly drunken voice from down the bar. “I saw the monster raisin’ them up from their dandy graves!”

“Yer never sober enough to see past a mug,” the Bartender scoffed.

“What monster do ye speak of, friend?” asked Threepwood.

“Oh do not get him started..” groaned the Bartender.

The drunk man hopped seat to seat to get closer to Threepwood.

“I was in Yesper!” said the drunk man. “Put in two days ago to unload a couple crates I fished outa the drink in Tokuno.”

The drunk man suddenly stopped talking.

“More drink please!” he called happily to the bartender, shaking his mug.

“Was the monster the customs an’ trade minister in Vesper?” asked Threepwood with a smile. “I’ve seen him before.”

“It was a big ugly heap o’ flesh an’ bone!” said the drunk man. “I saw the town guard getting waylaid by him and thought I’d stay to watch them get thrashed a bit.”

“But then,” the drunk man said quietly. “I saw what he was doing. He plunged an arm of bone an’ a red sword straight into the ground and they rose!”

“A horde of undead,” said the bartender who had clearly heard the story many times in the past few days.

“A terrible horde of undead!” repeated the drunk man.

“Ye were probably so drunk all ye saw was a gravedigger at work,” said the bartender mockingly.

“Wait,” said Threepwood sternly, holding a hand up.

Both the drunk man and bartender turned to look at him.

“A red sword? What kind of red sword?”

“Ahh,” said the drunk man, feeling uncomfortable all of a sudden.

“Answer me,” said Threepwood with his eyes flashing.

“It were a cutlass, I’d reckon?” replied the drunk man.

Kal Ort POR” cried Threepwood.

“Oy wait!” yelled the bartender, but it was too late. Threepwood vanished in a burst of light and air which knocked his stool over.

“The scoundrel didn’t pay fer his drink,” said the bartender angrily.

***

Jepeth waited patiently just past the moongate. A few hundred yards from him was the Moonglow cemetery and through the trees he could almost make out its grey mausoleums and iron fences. He didn’t need to be any closer, however, to hear the sounds coming from it. Terrible shrieks and wails emanated through the woods. It was a wonder how anyone on this cursed island lived with the noise.

He had arrived hours ago and waited. Conspicuously this was the only graveyard in the land thus far not to have fallen victim to the Abomination’s necromancy. The dead wandered this graveyard regularly anyway, but Jepeth and the others who were charged with stopping this madness knew it would be a prize for the horde. Centuries worth of mages were buried there.

On arrival at Moonglow three hours ago, however, he found himself face to face with a short man in a deep lavender robe as soon as he stepped out of the moongate.

“Governor Jepeth, greetings,” said the mage blandly.

Not expecting anyone waiting for him, Jepeth’s immediate reaction was to go for his sword.

“Tut tut, Governor,” said the mage calmly, “there’s no need for that. I am here to welcome you to Moonglow and relay a message from the Council of Mages.”

“And what does ye Council wish to tell me?” asked Jepeth cautiously as he sheathed his sword.

“We ask only for some patience,” began the mage. “The graveyard situation around the realm is well known to us and we’ve been keeping an eye on our backyard, as it were.”

The mage lazily gestured past the moongate eastward into the woods.

“We ask that you refrain from approaching the graveyard for the time being,” said the mage.

“Ye may tell your superiors that the message was delivered,” said Jepeth. “But I know this graveyard is next. I aim to be there when this abomination arrives.”

“I’m afraid I must insist,” said the mage. His voice was lazy and calm but Jepeth began to detect an edge. “We wish to study this situation when the opportunity presents itself.”

“Ye can study the remains of what I slay all you wish,” said Jepeth smiling.

“The Council of Mages has barred you from entering further into Moonglow,” said the mage. This time his voice was icy.

“I am a Governor of the realm, sir, not one of ye magical toadies,” said Jepeth in a raised voice. “Ye Council has no authority over me.”

Jepeth drew his sword, planted his right foot behind him, and raised it up into a wide swinging position.

“It has been a few months since I went up against a Council mage,” said Jepeth in a much calmer voice, “But I wager the result would be the same.” He made a show of gesturing with his chin towards the lavender mage’s satchel where his spellbook was sure to be found.

The mage was silent. He took a long look at Jepeth and then raised his left arm out in front of him with the palm facing up, and his right arm down and out behind him.

“Vas Flam,” whispered the mage as a fireball burst to life in his open palm and danced and spun ready to be thrown.

“Enough!” called a voice behind the both of them.

The mage quickly closed his palm extinguishing the fireball and stood upright as if called to attention.

“Return home,” said an older woman in a blue robe who approached from the direction of the graveyard. She was older, greyer, and clearly a more senior mage.

Without hesitation the lavender mage nodded and cast his recall spell. He shot Jepeth a dirty look right as he vanished.

“Our apologies, Governor,” said the mage in a blue robe. “My name is Jaanin and I am one of the mages on the High Council.”

Jepeth kept his sword drawn and ready.

“I regret that my junior mage greeted you so severely just then,” said Jaanin who sounded genuinely apologetic.

“I hear I am banned from Verity Island,” said Jepeth.

“Nay,” sighed Jaanin. “We understand you, the Paladins, the Jhelom Fighters, and others are currently pursuing this ‘abomination’ and its undead horde. The Council would not presume to keep you from that duty.”

“Then why the barricade as soon as I arrived?” asked Jepeth. He sheathed his sword.

The old woman hesitated for a moment.

“The Council of Mages has an interest in this matter,” she began cautiously. “But we are not as of yet sure of how to proceed.”

“Honoring your oaths and aiding the realm could be a start,” replied Jepeth flatly.

“And many of us agree with that appraisal,” said Jaanin. “But the Council is not a monarchy, we vote on what course to undertake.”

“I fail to see how there could be disagreements in this matter,” said Jepeth. He wondered if this was some sort of further delaying tactic.

“I assure you the moment this necromancer appears in the graveyard you and everyone in Moonglow who could provide aid will be alerted,” she said. “But to be frank, we want a look at it first.”

“What possible reason could ye have for wanting to study this abomination instead of stopping it outright?” asked Jepeth.

“We wish to know its origins,” she replied. “So please, wait here at the moongate. When you hear the bells you are free to proceed to the graveyard.”

“And if it is already too late by then?” asked Jepeth.

“Then you will have the ability to hold the Council’s failure over the head of every mage you ever meet for the rest of your days,” she said smiling.

Jepeth snorted, but did appreciate the attempt at levity.

***

Threepwood appeared in Felucca and in the distance he saw Skara Brae island. It was close to sunset and he arrived on the mainland more or less where he wanted to be and began searching the area. Clearly those who still lived in this version of the Skara mainland had long since given up farming the fields. Their once pristine rows had laid fallow for too long and were overtaken with weeds. He began searching up the rows of the largest field for any signs of distress in the ground.

It took him no more than a minute to find it. A wide gaping hole off the side of the field right where he expected it to be.

“Cousin,” he whispered, with fear in his voice.

***

It had been three hours since his conversation with the junior and senior council mages. The sun was going down and Jepeth was becoming more agitated at waiting. For a while he tried to occupy himself by readying his equipment, checking his armor for damage, and meditating. He had begrudgingly accepted the old woman’s request and stayed put at the moongate and tried to keep his ears open for the sound of anything different east of the moongate.

Finally, he heard it: an ear piercing, blood curdling scream. The same scream described by the boy in Britain. He didn’t wait for the bells. He took off towards the moongate in a full sprint.

In moments Jepeth was a hundred yards away and didn’t notice that behind him Threepwood appeared through the moongate.

***

Jepeth arrived at the graveyard and was almost thunderstruck at the scene. Five mages in various robe colors were at the gate casting spells to slow down a mass of flesh and bone from entering the graveyard. They chanted “An Ex Por” over and over again but it didn’t matter. The abomination was within feet of entering the graveyard and behind them the ground was churning. Something just below the dirt was getting stirred up.

Jepeth drew his weapon, placed all his weight on his back leg with the sword pointed out before him, and then launched into a full run at the abomination.

As he ran he heard a woman scream “No!” from the line of mages but paid it no mind as he tried to put as much speed and inertia into this opening attack.

He swung the broadsword wide at where (he supposed) the abomination’s neck should be. An arm of bone twisted backwards and deflected it almost knocking him backwards off his feet. This foe was powerfully strong and super-humanly fast when it needed to be.

A mage’s explosion spell flared to life and for a moment everything in the immediate area was illuminated in the evening dusk. Jepeth saw hands of rotten flesh grasping up from the dirt of their graves trying to dig themselves out. The line of mage’s was pushed back right up against the gate itself as they threw spell after spell at the abomination. It raised a right arm of flesh and bone and in its boney grasp was held a red cutlass. The sword looked larger than a regular cutlass should be and was hued a deep red as if it was soaked in blood.

The abomination swung and cut down one of the mages in a single blow.

In unison the remaining four mages shouted “Rel Por!” and immediately vanished out of the way of the abomination. They appeared in a line a few feet off its right side and each held their hands out.

They cried “Flam Kal Des Ylem” in unison and from their hands glowing rocks of fire and energy shot forth towards the abomination’s right flank. Two of the spells hit the monster while two others passed by it completely. Jepeth, who was readying for another swing off to the abomination’s left, ducked out of the way as the spells whizzed over his head.

The abomination turned away from Jepeth and faced the line of mages who were readying for another salvo. In a twisted, crackling motion it kneeled and pounded its left arm onto the ground while howling “In Vas Por!” All four remaining mages were completely knocked over and stunned.

It turned back to open the gate but was startled to find Jepeth standing between it and the graveyard.

Jepeth didn’t hesitate.

He thrust his broadsword forward and pierced the abomination about where the left clavicle should be. It howled and bellowed and staggered backwards.

“Arrogant fool!” it cursed in two voices. “Pitiful dock rat!”

Something grabbed Jepeth from behind. He felt himself being pulled back hard onto the graveyard gate. He suddenly realized the dead of Moonglow cemetery had risen and were trying to pull him into their graveyard. He tried to twist from their grasp as the abomination slowly approached him.

“Was hoping to see ye, matey,” growled the abomination. “I have me a promise to keep.”

“No..” whimpered a voice. “I don’t want this!”

QUIET!” yelled the abomination inches from Jepeth’s face.

Jepeth turned his head as much as he could to see who was talking.

He realized the monster had two faces. Literally one was growing out of the other. The one facing him was skeletal and gaunt. It had clearly burst out from within its skin. It turned its other face towards Jepeth.

Run..” it whimpered.

Jepeth was thunderstruck.

It was Willibrord.

It was the mage he fought. The mage who lied to him. The mage he maimed.

The abomination snapped its skeletal face back towards Jepeth. It raised the right arm holding the blood red cutlass high to swing it down towards the struggling Jepeth. He saw that the right arm was bone and black.

He sensed his end coming as the sword was about to fall upon him.

“Corp Por!”

The abomination was hit on its left side and fell rightward.

CORP POR!”

It turned itself left to face its attacker but was struck again and staggered back.

“Corp Por!” yelled a different voice, this time from behind the monster. It was hit and staggered forward.
The abomination howled and cursed and vanished.

The moment it was gone the hands and arms of the corpses holding Jepeth against the gate fell back dead.

He looked to his left and saw the council mage Jaanin staggering to her feet with an arm stretched out. The last spell must have come from her.

He turned right and saw his cousin Threepwood with an arm outward.

“It was the mage,” gasped Jepeth trying to get air back into him after being nearly strangled to death by the horde in the graveyard. “It was Willibrord.”

Threepwood shook his head.

“Nae cousin,” said Threepwood, sounding fearful. “It's the Bloodeye.”
 
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