|10-23-09: There is no one to blame, we’re leaving ground, will things ever be the same again?
||[Jan. 22nd, 2010|05:27 pm]
The Chronicle of Aldencia: Saving the Kingdom
Though fire and battle rage outside, the shrine was strangely quiet now that Crom is dead. Everyone took a moment to survey the results of their efforts – a very great evil has been extinguished, and a woman in torment is gone forever, as is the light heart of the Ojaluche. But there was no time to contemplate the lives and deaths that had been changed in this cavern. At once, everyone sprang back into action.
Matthias led a charge back along the narrow corridor of the cave, shouting loudly and with great pride that Crom is dead – which resulted in a hearty cheer and a few flagging spirits finding themselves renewed. As they pushed their way back to the entrance to the cave, partaking in battle only as needed, they found that many of Crom’s previous soldiers, and sheep, had taken up arms against their comrades and would-be killers. A clearing was made at the mouth of the cave, and after a quick negotiation, Keleroth used his fire magic to allow himself to pass beyond his firestorm and into the night to see what has transpired beyond.
As he climbed a bit up the rock-face, the firemage was able to establish that two different battles were still raging, one just beyond the flames, and another at the base of the mountain. Though he could not make out much in the way of details of the farther altercation, the nearer one seemed equally balanced, and thus, in need of help. Reporting his findings to Matthias, a plan was hatched for all able-bodied who could be spared from within the cave to leave through a doorway Keleroth would make in the flames themselves to join their companions. Though treacherous, a few dozen brave souls walk between walls of fire to support Red Wolf’s forces, while Keleroth and Dora remain in the cave itself to see to the wounded.
With his usual efficiency, Matthias led Nahla, Bendigar, Theodor, and his newly-acquired men to assist in defeating Crom’s men still trying vainly to control the sacrifices they had brought to the cave. But the death of Crom, shouted wildly in triumph, did much to quell the enthusiasm of his supporters, and rather quickly, the battle turned. Regrouping, Matthias encouraged his group to ride the feel of victory and race to the larger battle below, whooping almost maniacally as they went. The force formed a push at a single point, breaking the formation of Crom’s army and weakening its structure from within. Though the military skill was fierce, Red Wolf’s numerous forces, along with the traitors and turned of the army itself, were seized with enough fury to almost equal the forces allied against them.
Not long into the battle, Jakal and Matthias found one another, and Matthias was at last able to relate the sad news of Red Wolf’s death. Though her successor had no time to mourn, he was obviously troubled. He also pointed out to Matthias that their forces were not going to win ultimately against Crom’s army – there were reinforcements coming and the rebels would be crushed between the mountain and the fire in the cave if they did not engineer an escape and quickly. However, with the fire-wall still blocking many survivors and soldiers in the cave, extracting them in time might prove to be a problem.
Meanwhile, Keleroth and Dora were doing as much as they could for the wounded in the cave while Keleroth attempted to give his strength the chance to return before dousing the flames that held them. Almost as one, they made their way back to the inner chamber, where they found Rumor doing…something. Again Keleroth noted the precise power of the place, his scholarly instinct to study it distracting him from the raging blaze that had them effectively sealed in. But Rumor unexpectedly offered the pair something invaluable – in return for an agreement that he would be free to refuse to answer 2 questions posed by Matthias and/or his group at any time and without explanation, the secret one offered to teach the firemage how to strengthen himself. Though they felt somewhat concerned about making such a deal without Matthias, ultimately they accepted the offer. Rumor painstakingly laid out a complex ritual on the floor of the chamber, one which Keleroth felt he could likely replicate as needed, which apparently would serve to use the power of the holy ground to give strength to the spell.
Keleroth gathered himself and attempted to extinguish the fire at the front of the cave – the spell worked, almost too well; it smothered the firestorm and every torch in the vicinity, including in the battle raging below. Taking the opportunity, those still in the cave fled, grabbing horses and running with the rest of Red Wolf’s people, while Matthias’s fighting force made up a rear-guard to extract them from the battle. It was long, long into the night by the time Crom’s army gave up pursuit, so long that even Matthias had fallen asleep in the saddle and had to be carefully carried with the others to safety. Jakal led his people to a blind canyon to sleep for a few hours and arranged a make-shift camp with those not too injured or exhausted.
In the morning, after breakfast, Matthias and his council found Rumor sitting somewhat off by himself, quite pleased with their work of the day before. Perhaps surprisingly, Rumor seemed willing to talk, to share some of his secrets about his uncommon knowledge, but the party asked few questions. The one they did ask, of course, related to the whereabouts of Andrew Wellin, and Rumor provided the name of the town where he would be found – it was, incidentally, not far from Bendigar’s family’s lands and Nahla’s ancestral home. He also hinted that, while Edward was alive, he would be difficult to find, but far moreso to involve in the rebellion; the secret one hinted that Prince Edward knew more than almost anyone about what had truly happened to the king. He also advised Matthias to be very careful – Dahlia would know he had this knowledge, and she would be waiting for him to keep his side of their bargain.
Matthias thanked Rumor, and was told that likely they would see each other once more before the end of things, and that Rumor would be available to them if or when they needed him. The party then prepared to head straight back to Stone Cove, while Jakal worked to organize his people and find a way of capitalizing on their gains (and mourn their losses). Of the men turned from Crom’s army to the rebel side, many offered to stay with Matthias, and he was willing to accept their loyalty and their help, so with new strength and a new direction, Matthias led the way to Stone Cove.