The March Of The Forgotten
Armored Skeletons march across the fields. They have wrecked havoc on the supply lines. Taking people to the unknown, as their forces continue to move.
They do not sleep. They do not stop. They march ever closer to the port.
It up to the adventurers to draw a line and stop the march of the skeleton knights. To send them back to their graves or at least to wince they came...
The cold winds from the ocean howl across the land, but even soon they will have to give way to the light. But in this dark hour, what hope these Landers have to move their Caravans from the Port town of Dun Loireag to the west side of the Ninetails Dominion is about to come to a deadly halt.
As reports hit Dun Loireag, all Caravans are quickly placed on hold. It becomes quickly aware that one of the main paths, between two bodies of water has been overtaken by a large number of undead and leading those forces-- an even larger armored figure.
Some Caravans have decided they will take the longer route, as their goods will not be impacted by the travel, but for some others; This is not good. They need help.
And so a few adventurers decide to take this chance, only for those few adventurers to come running back maybe a few members short then when they left. It becomes clear, there is indeed a large force of undead. A mix of heavily armored bones and even the mindless ghouls have been given armor. Some swear they saw vampiric knights in the mix as well, along with maybe even binder armored figures.
It is an army and they have taken a foothold right in that very spot. Any who try to go around south through the thinner water, not only is that slower as well, but the undead are being reported there as well. Just lying in wait in the very water and coming up to grab up people, with those undead, along with the individuals that were grabbed disappearing.
This is not good for the towns to the west and something must be done...
Standing on the roadway, there in the plains is the massive army. Probably around at least two hundred undead strong of a mix of a war party. There are archers, horsemen on undead steeds, polemen, and just straight up ghouls acting like hounds.
In the mix talking to the vampiric knights, along with a few other binder knights is a large prevalent figure. His armor tarnished by time, but one can tell it was once ornate. On his back resides a double head, two-handed axe. There are no eyes that can be seen and this armored figure stands at least close to seven feet tall. Easily towering over most of the forces there.
As he seems to give orders, he makes hand gestures as well, before turning to look back toward the root town. As if waiting for something or someone. Though it is not long till he gives a pat on the shoulder of one of the vampiric knights and goes to make his way toward the back, as another knight follows along for further conversation.
How will the adventures handle this matter? Will they fight? Will they try diplomacy? That choice is yours.
The man begins to walk up towards that army, waiting to see if the man would step forward to meet them. They don't have the numbers, so this will be what he will be doing.
Maybe they should of brought more people of their own? Probably. But with how far spread the undead are, the convoys trying to take the longer routes still needed protection as well. There was no one way to travel that didn't require additional guards. Between that and people still occupied with the aftermath of the Double Wave hitting in Eastal, there was only so much support to be had.
Which is part of why Shiruba was, unlike Merek, trying to keep a low profile for herself, and not stride up to the enemy face to face. She was a ranged specialist, after all, if this did turn into a fight she could do more from off to the side and out of immeadiate notice than she could wandering into the masse. At least she's got a good eye on Merek, in case she needs to interveine.
But as the armored form starts to move to the back of the group the wolfgirl's ears flick up rigid. That sound, that was... she had not seen the source in the Maze.
But the sound of those footsteps, that was too distinct to be anything but. Her theorizing on how the Undead Intrusion was connected to the Misty Ruins was looking stronger by the minute.
The closer Merek gets, the more the archers pull back their bow strings. Not a word is said to him, but it is obvious that while the army has the numbers. This army is giving a fairly decent respect to what Adventurers can do.
As Merek gets ever closer, A few of the archers then fire. The arrows fall directly at his feet, hitting the ground. Those same archers are replaced by new ones, giving the other group time to nook their next set. This is a well-trained line.
Though after the arrows are fired, one of the vampiric knights up on a horse calls out to Merek. "I would stop there if I were you! Another step forward and they will be allowed to fire openly!"
This warning gets the amassive armored knight's attention. His head slowly turning, along with part of his body to see just what has than men attacking, but holding a full advancement. Though for now, the large knight watches from behind the primary line.
The man nods a bit, while he watches, "I have with me, Shadow Eclipse, which has assisted me in many a fight. I know of the land you wish to reclaim, I know what your Mistress wants. I'm telling you that your current forward action will not bring that to achivement!" The man knows that Shiruba was backing him up, but he doesn't try giving them any indication she's about unless she wishes to make herself known.
Instead she is focused on the undead army as a whole. The armored form with the familiar footsteps was clearly in charge of the whole, but it's apparent there are others amongst the force delegating for him. So they're not all mindless take orders and attack type of undead monsters. But that can also be a weakness, if the 'command units' as a strategy game would refer to them can be taken out, breaking the chain of guidance.
If they strike in groups, anti-group tactics could be used against them. Haunted armors don't have weaknesses like bodies or corpses do, but their armor in itself was a 'body' that could be crippled. She hoped it wouldn't come down to an all out fight, but she was doing her best to be prepared if it did.
As long as the dark knight himself doesn't engage...
"Not good enough...Boy." The vampire says as he goes to raise his hand.
"Archers! Hold!" A commanding voice roars out over the crowd. All go quiet once more.
While it is clear to see that even the vampire in charge of the archer's is displeased, he does as is told. "As you command, M'lord." The archers continue to remain at the ready to fire, but the large armored figure makes his way forward. Each step was heavy, just as the clink of the armor.
The commander of this large force steps forward as his hand reaches around to draw the massive axe, resting it at the ready, but not in an offensive manner. "I am /the/ commander of this force. I know not who you speak of, adventurer, but you are correct. We are knights. Even in death."
Unlike the one Merek met last night, this ones armor doesn't allow easily visual of eyes. This figure is also much larger in not only width of shoulders, but the heaviness of the armor. "I am Lord Hector DeVarn The Just. Knight of the fallen King, protector of his only line who now walks in spirit." Hector seems to lower his gaze to better take in Merek.
"You say you know /what/ we seek, but do you truly /know/? Or is your words that of gossip and false whispers? For a kingdom has stepped in to take our lands. You /Adventurers/ killed our king, now bare /his/ sword, and the princess is in grieving." Hector's hands tighten on his weapon. "... And you dare to say you /know/ what /we/ want."
A deep inhale comes from the large armored being, before a slow exhale. The hand loosening. "But I will listen. Merek. Speak your.... /Terms/ of Parlay."
Shiruba might notice from her high up perch a few more lightly armored knights are making their way around, staying down low. It looks like an attempt to flank around Merek without his awareness.
"Your King was corrupted by the blade, we had no desire to kill him save that people were drawn in to do it. I would ask that you might stand back your army while making preperations to speak to a delegation about what you desire." Merek then looks to Shadow Eclipse, "I keep in mind a promise I made to your King to protect his lands when he fell, taking up his blade. I know you can probably manage to take me down now if you desire, but what then? More Adventurers would come, you know of their abilities. I would ask you to consider the idea which I have presented. Your army need not move, we will speak to the Landers, but we ask that you take no action upon them." If these Knights are the ones that were generally aligned to the King, then he will try diplomacy while he offers a nod.
Hector DeVarn. An actual name. Something that could potentially be researched later to ensure the connection, if historical records can be found that far ba--
Movement caught out of the corner of her eye draws her attention away from the thought. Shiruba shifts just slightly to get a better look. More knights, trying to move into a flanking position. Looks like they didn't think to look up high. That or are more focused on Merek in general. Hmmm.
She glances back to the two men. Considers. And slips slowly down from her perch to hopefully keep from being noticed still. Shiruba still has hope that Merek can accomplish something through talk... so for now she'll just follow the flankers, and be ready to step in should they actually try anything.
The game of who's the hunter and the hunted begins.
The massive knight continues to gentle choke his weapon. "A man with no self-control. A man who kills instead of spares. Your promise is questionable. If not hallow."
"It is war you adventurers started Merek. You set this grind stone in motion and now everything must be set under it. The /only/ guarantee I can give you from my men is that no mother nor child will be harmed. Everything else, will return to her majesty." The Knight rises to his full stature. "As it has been ordered and as it shall be."
As the two continue to talk, the group of continues to be unaware that they are being followed by Shiruba. It won't be much longer till this small group is around to cut off Merek's ability to escape.
Frowns a little at the chimlink conversation. Though not really a surprise they don't seem to be willing to negotiate. They did get more information, and she's confirmed more of her own theory, between the footsteps of Hector and his refering to Shadow Eclipse as the former king's sword with familiarity.
Shiruba waits until Merek moves to leave. Because that is going to be when the knights would strike.
So she strikes first.
Her shot is swift and low, buzzing just over the grass to hit the ground near the knights' feet. And cause it to abruptly tremble and heave violently. A few chunks of sharp stone even pop up from it, intended to disrupt and cut off their capability to move in on him.
Then Shiruba herself is on her feet and moving, knowing they're not going to have a chance if this turns into a full fledged combat.
Though as he gives out his order, that is also when Shiruba's attack hits true. The ground cuts off this ability for those knights to cut off Merek's escape. Hector notices the interruption and turns to look over at the commander of the archers. He gives him a firm head nod, before then watching how these events will unfold.
"Archers!" The vampire yells out, "FIRE!"
Then poor Merek might find that he may need to start picking up that pace from a walk to a damn run! As arrows come whizzing by for his direction; None of them aiming however for any form of kill shot though.
Merek - To Avoid: +roll <evasion/shield>[with card] vs 10
Or instead, they focus on Merek, lobbing arrows towards the man with the sword of their former king.
The wolf huntress barely breaks her own pace even as she draws multiple arrows and fires them in rapid succession, not unfamiliar with using 'run-and-strafe' tactics. They can likely outpace the foot soldiers, so disabling or disrupting the archers is the main stitch to their escape right now.
However it is Merek's massive attack that causes Hector, himself, to step in. The Knight attempts to place himself in front of the wave of fire suddenly and while he does protect some of his archers; Including the vampire in charge.
The heavily armored Knight actually knocked back and has to go down to a knee. One of the knights calls over "Lord Hector!" Which was enough to allow Merek is full escape.
Though while his armor is scorched, some of it glowing from the sheer heat, he was watching both Merek and Shiruba run. He was watching very closely.
"The sound of his footsteps is identical. Hector is the knight that was in the maze in the Misty Ruins. Between that and his personal familiarity with Shadow Eclipse?" She turns back to Merek. "I'm certain these Undead and their leader are from there now. Their Queen is the one Aurora tried to warn us of."