Nerath Reborn

Home, sweet home

or, maybe the village isn't the bastion you thought, part 2

returning at night, the cheerful reunions are broken by a frightened call from the wall of the partially erected palisade. “Riders!”

Two men on horseback are riding at a breakneck pace out of the woods to the east. The village’s archers, a dozen boys and old men, run to stand on crates and bales to have a clear shot… and Bei notices they wear tabards emblazoned not with the egg shape of the Rotten King’s troops, but a stylized W. Repeating this information, Billy calls out, “Wait! They’re from Wenceslas!”

And the people notice arrows flying from the edge of the woods, at the riders. They soon reach safety within the pallisade, where people are stil frantically working on building a gate.

“We are knights of King Wenceslas’, three sent to aid you against the Rotten King’s tyranny.” Someone notes that there are only two knights. “Our companion… delayed our pursuit.” They are quickly welcomed in, and they set to aiding in the preparations, long through the night.

There’s another false alarm during the night, with a lone figure seen approaching the village. This is discovered to be Llewellyn, previously thought lost in the river. She tells of wandering the woods, at times pursued by soldiers, and seeing this village. With a happy reunion, she rests with the other children.

The children are woken by calls of, “They’re back! They’re back!” Looking to the south, they see a small group of men hobbling out from the woods to the south… the remnants of the force sent to free the children held by Peep and Blue.

“We were devestated… there was a large force of goblins there, and no chidren. They’ve been dogging our retreat…”

That day, they see activity to the north, as the Rotten King’s forces setup a camp and begin constructing something behind cover.

With morale down, at the loss of many of the village’s combat capable adults, the news of a second force approaching from the south, and the mysterious work to the north, a group of villagers mobilize to flee. One of the Knights is blocking their way, trying to keep them and warning them that if they flee, they will surely be picked off by the Rotten King’s forces, but together, they may survive. He’s not succeeding in persuading them, however…

Charlie steps forward, and in a stumbling fashion convinces them, promising that he and the other children will determine what’s going on to the north, and neutralize it.

They split up – Charlie fashions a great shield from a barrel, and openly walks towards the northern encampent. With this distraction, Chris sneaks into the woods to directly enter the camp and find out what is being built, and Bei, Wilbur, and Llewellyn take cover at arrow range, preparing to fire flaming arrows into the encampment.

Chris finds the encampment strangely empty – there are many fires burning, but only a handful of men standing guard or around. He easily makes it to the enclosure, where he finds a completed catapult. With his knife, Chris makes swift work of the ropes, disabling it, and then for good measure pulls a flaming log from an unattended fire and set it afire.

Seeing this, Bei, Wilbur, and Llewlyn begin firing arrows into the encampment to give Chris a chance to escape. The guards race from the encampment to engage them…

Seeing the flames rise in the encampment, people in the village let out a cheer, and open the gate to rush out and assist the children. Their cheers change to cries of fear and pain, as a troop of concealed goblins rise from the field and race forward to hold the gate. The larger force begins advancing from the forest to the south.

Charlie quickly dispatches the guard who comes at him, and races to help Wilbur, Bei, and Llewellyn, who are being driven back by the soldiers. Bei has activated her focus, Puppy, who is single-handedly holding off 4 soldiers. But meanwhile, the chidren are being wrestled to the ground, and the soldiers are attempting to restrain them.

After disabling two soldiers, Puppy is killed. Charlie manages to knock down the soldier trying to restrain Wilbur, and tells the nerd to run… and he does. Seeing how hopeless the situation appears, Bei imagines that someone could arrive to help… and amazingly, Billy Goat Gruff appears out of nowhere, knocking a soldier into the distance. Side by side with Charlie, the two of them try to clear the way for Bei and Llewellyn to escape…

And with a cry, Llewellyn takes the sword of a fallen soldier, and cuts Billy down from the flank.

Seeing this betrayal, Charlie turns, and ignoring the advancing soldiers, as well as the ones who have tackled Bei to the ground, he unleashes his rage upon Llewellyn. “Traitor!” He pounds her down to one knee…

And in desperation, Llewellyn as well imagines help arriving. Too late, however, as Charlie takes the sword he’s been using and cuts through her face, dropping her dead to the ground.

“Oh ho, good job, men. This is the one his majesty wants!”

In the light from the burning encampment, and now the burning village, Charlie sees Jack stepping up from behind the soldiers. Two of the soldiers are carrying Bei, bound, into the darkness.

“Set her down, you! That’s my friend!” Jack steps forward, and warns Charlie, “You should give up, boy. I don’t want to hurt you.”

With an incoherent shout, Charlie rushes at Jack, and tries to knee him in the crotch. Jack deftly twists his thigh to block the attack, then swings his woodsman’s axe at the boy.

A moment later, picking himself up from the ground, blood poring from his wounds, Charlie surrenders.

Hiding in the grass, Wilbur and Chris see Charlie and Bei carried off into the darkness. Behind them, flames are rising from the gate area of the pallisade.



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