AK510-13 High Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of ‘The Sword’: Charon, Games and Jousts)
It was wet. An especially heavy rain storm had stopped work and most of the villagers were gathered in Joe of Kell's makeshift inn drinking mead. Staring out at the rain and thinking about his bees, Bob Charmer noticed a strange clinking sound on the wind. Shaking off the webs of boredom, he went to investigate and spotted four figures slowly meandering into the village. The villagers roused themselves, braving the lashing rain, to see who it was. They were quite distressed to see that the visitors to their isolated fledgling village were orcs.
A brave few stood boldly in the downpour to confront the intruders, while the rest of the villagers barricaded themselves in the makeshift inn.
It became quickly apparent that these were not normal orcs. Their skin was a sickly pallid yellow colour and their eyes were hollow and dead. None of them responded to Tim Tanner's greetings in either common or orcish. Ethan called for more help from the inn and a few more reluctant villagers joined them, clutching their hunting slings.
Suddenly, like the strike of lightning, The Battle of Woodhaven erupted! The villagers loosed stones from their slings and Joe of Kell's stone flew true and struck one orc in the eye. Yellow puss splattered through rain soaked air and splashed down on the muddy ground. The orc dropped. Ethan Namer hurled a club at another with mighty force, cracking its skull and sending yellowish blood and fleshy brains flying, but the creature walked on! Bob Charmer charged and lashed out with his staff catching the creature with a resounding blow. Its head snapped back breaking it's neck and it dropped. It's fleshy plant-like brain hanging out of its crushed skull like market vegetables crushed underfoot.
Then the tide turned, the 'Orc Plant Creatures', as Ethan named them, attacked. One charged at Joe of Kell, swinging a heavy iron flail above its head. The flail crashed down into the side of Joe's face ruining his jaw and cracking his skull. Dark red blood flew, briefly bright against the rain and mud. He collapsed and lay still, as his life drained away into the earth. Another of the freakish creatures swept his massive flail up under Bob Charmer's chin the resounding blow snapped his head back and again blood flew, trailing behind Bob's body as he crashed into the mire.
Anger overcome terror as the villagers rained sling stones upon the creatures. Under the focused barrage another of the creatures was pummelled to death. Ethan, Orin, John and Tim charged the remaining creature, hammering it, striking high and low with frantic blows. It dropped and its yellow corpse was pulped into the mud before their adrenaline subsided and calm returned, and the patter of the rain returned to their ears.
Emelda attended to the maimed innkeeper and beekeeper and miraculously managed to bring them back from the brink of death. Tim prayed continually during her ministrations, pleading successfully with Bás and Croí, to grant his comrades mercy. Having demonstrated his piety and wisdom, Tim then demonstrated his fallibility by suggesting that,
'The orc plant people should be planted in order to grow an army of orc plant people to defend the village.'
This suggestion was not met with even remotely the same enthusiasm as his previous pious efforts.
John Appleby examined the corpses and concluded that they had somehow been transformed into plant like creatures and so were no longer true orcs, but freakish yellow parodies of their former selves. More strangely, he noted that their skulls contained fleshy things that resembled seed pods more than brains. Even as he watched, root like tendrils were worming out of the creatures skulls and grasping desperately towards the muddy ground.
A mad scramble ensued. The victors wildly attacked the seedpods, pulverising them with staves and clubs, before they could take root. Orin Smith, wielding his forge hammer, landed a clumsy blow beside one of the pods, which eerily scuttled, slithered and burrowed away from him in a bid for survival. He stood stupefied as it disappeared into the soft mud, until Martin Farmer hurled a spade to him. His reflexes caught the heavy hafted tool and he thrust it desperately into the earth. He felt a satisfying tremor as the spade's blade sliced the buried seed pod in two. Despite the pressing rains, the villagers ensured that all of the plants were gathered burned before returning to the inn. Despite the victory a cloud of weariness and wariness blighted the settlers mood rest of the day.
They were all brooding over the same thoughts. Where had the creatures come from? Were there more? Was Woodhaven under threat of further attack? Who would venture out into the wilds of Stormwatch to find out? Little did the sombre and fearful settlers know that some among them, plodding through their muddy streets and sitting dejectedly in their inn, would someday be shrouded in legend.