While the Marshall marched on Yew (and scored a decisive victory), I learned some important information about the Damned. They can be cured, at least if they have not been sick too long, and if they have strong constitutions. They have no memory of their time under the domination of the disease, and I don’t know how long they must recuperate, but they can be restored.
I get ahead of myself. I tend to do that – and to ramble, my uncle would complain. To the beginning, then:
As we waited in the small settlement now called Jakar, the Marshall and Lord Reynault were moving on Yew. Some of our number had heard the village Truebrugh was besieged by a company of the Damned. Knowing we would be too late and too few to affect the combat with the orcs and black riders, our company (Mazlor, Grel, Boraen and Talvi, Fergus, Ceresei, Pyria, Beladur, and I) rode to the village’s aid.
We arrived and the local gentry filled us in on the problem. The Damned mostly stayed where they had arrived in the fields, but sometimes rushed in at the village. The crops were untended, and those few farmers brave enough to face down the damned had been recruited into their number. The rest of the villagers mounted a watch from the highest buildings and gave warning if the Damned stirred – and some had seen a black rider apparently directing the attacks.
Mazlor was determined to save the villages amongst the Damned through some ritual of healing. Ceresei, who also was a druid, and I took turns riding out with Fergus and Boraen. They stretched a net between them to trap and bring back each of the villagers. Taking each in turn to the local shrine (“consecrated ground,” or so Mazlor insisted), the healing ritual was essayed several times. Almost, I caught the sense of what Mazlor did, but it seemed twisted up in superstition. I think I could manage a cleaner – and thus maybe more successful – call on the healing powers of the land. Still, he saved a few of the villagers; the others were not strong enough to take the shock of the illness and sudden cure.
Having remanded the healed but yet weak villagers to the care of the friends and family, we rode around the remaining Damned to seek out the Black Rider who had been directing them. We hid in a copse and were able to surprise her when she rode up, unsuspecting. While at first loath to tell us much, she succumbed to Pyria’s charms and spilled her secrets.
To wit: There was a significant force of black cloaks nearby. They had been controlling the Damned with a skull on a staff, but that had been claimed by the orcs and taken back to Yew. There had been a major defeat for the Black Riders and the orcs at Yew, and her fellows were cut off from the command structure.
We left the woman with the lord in the village and then teamed up with the town militia to take out the black cloak encampment. Again skirting the Damned in the field, we crept up on them in the night. Boraen sent Talvi ahead to spook the horses, so both we and they would be on foot for the battle. I was amazed at the ability of the villagers – someone’s been hunting! Our archers took out most of the Black Riders, including their magic user. Boraen defeated the captain of the black cloaks in personal combat. We collected the horses and arms and armor and went back to Truebrugh.
Some of us headed for Old Fawn and a decent tavern, and took the arms and armor back with us for sale. The captured horses we stabled in Jakar.