(02:13:26 pm) <devilGM> Earlier that day, a courier had arrived at the Provincial Guard outpost Ware Severn was stationed at, breathless and pale and his poor horse run ragged. He had dire news: something horrible had happened at the Horasym Estate, an alchemist of some renown, who had been contracted by the Tivuard Organization during the Drache Civil War to create and deploy horrible alchemical mutant monsters.
(02:13:26 pm) <devilGM> The courier said he dared not enter the estate himself, because he was only there to deliver an inquiry about why Lord Anatole Horasym hadn't been at an important meeting. (cont)
(02:15:36 pm) <devilGM> Cresting the hilltop overlooking the Horasym Estate, a sprawling complex of mansions and houses and stables with wide fenced-in fields for horses, livestock, and various other animals, Ware Severn could see why the courier was afraid. The place was deadly quiet, and with the just below the horizon, not a single light was visible inside the mansion. It was as dark as the eastern sky, with
(02:15:37 pm) <devilGM> only the still-orange sunset to the west providing any light. Even from this distance, Severn could see the front door was open.
(02:16:08 pm) <devilGM> (with the sun just below the horizon, rather)
(02:18:36 pm) <devilGM> (also, end)
(02:30:49 pm) <Ware`Severn> Bonaventure, his heavy warhorse, was black, contrasting with his polished plate armor. The black and white surcoat emblazoned with the Asprominke raven brought it all together. He peered down the hill and put on his bascinet, visor still raised. He was in his element. The Knight of the Watchful Eye brought three border watchmen, all competent shots with a warbow but also decent in melee, though --
(02:30:49 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- none stood out in any one skill. He moved out at a canter, circling around the perimeter, accompanied by one man, while the other two circled in the opposite direction. They would meet up on the other side of the estate, before going back around to the hill where they came from.
(02:33:08 pm) <devilGM> They find nothing of note while circumnavigating the estate, which is in itself noteworthy. No farm hands, no animals, no nothing.
(02:40:34 pm) <Ware`Severn> The lack of animals was the most worrying part. He expected at least one dog or chicken rummaging in a rubbish pile. The stillness was heavy and ominous, like a lead-lined blanket of whale blubber. They would have to proceed on foot. He dismounted his horse, bidding others to do the same. "Stay, Bon-bon," he murmured, stroking the great steed between the eyes before he unsheathed his arming --
(02:40:34 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- sword and hefted his heavy shield in the left hand. The man beside him whipped out a sword-and-hatchet combo and moved up with him. The remaining two border guards hung back by twenty paces and to the side by twenty-thirty more, bows in their hands, their melee weapons sheathed for now. In this formation, they slowly started down the hill, leaving their trained horses up where they could see --
(02:40:34 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- them. Ware and his melee partner made sure to cover different viewing angles as they approached, listening and spotting as they reached the first line of buildings and listened for movement, before continuing towards the estate. --
(02:46:13 pm) <devilGM> Ware Severn's group reaches the front door, a large and elaborate set of double doors made of some far-flung species of hardwood and beautifully carved, complete with leering gargoyle-faced knocker. However, one of the doors was wide open. As they near, their senses are immediately assaulted: The stench of days-old blood and death, the sound of buzzing flies, and the oppressive darkness
(02:46:13 pm) <devilGM> permeating the inside, any candles and oil lamps having long gone out.
(03:01:45 pm) <Ware`Severn> "Menxvan lights my path, I shall fear no evil, for he is with me - fire of the forge, water of the chalice, grace of the divine," he whispered rapidly as he did hundreds of times before, swallowing some of the syllables. He took a small glass vial from one of the straps on the back of his shield and crushed it against a metal groove on the front of his shield. The simple alchemical liquid filled --
(03:01:45 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- up the groove, solidified and started giving off white light, only slightly brighter than that of a hooded lantern. The archers strapped their bows behind their backs and took out their melee weapons, dual wielding arming swords and handaxes. Except one of them, who wielded a torch instead of a handaxe in his off-hand. All three wore bucklers to make up for their lack of shields. "Focus strikes --
(03:01:45 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- on targets and stay close together," Ware commanded. "Follow me." And, taking a last deep breath of outdoors air, he stepped forth into the dark, smelly estate. --
(03:06:43 pm) <devilGM> They see immediately the cause of the smell and the source of the buzzing. Bodies, at least a dozen in the foyer alone, of the various waitstaff -- butlers, maids, guards, and other servants -- all dead, splayed out across the floor, their blood now dry and brown and the air thick with flies. All have been mauled and partly eaten, their insides exposed, great chunks carved out of them
(03:06:43 pm) <devilGM> by some great beast's teeth or claws or both. The blood is both spattered from impact and smeared from dragging, and upon closer inspection, bloody pawprints -- not unlike a wolf or dog -- are visible in various places. Some of these prints are alarmingly large, but others look relatively normal for a domesticated breed of canine.
(03:11:37 pm) <Ware`Severn> "Wolves," he muttered. "Why did it have to be wolves?" He has had it up to here with werewolves and abberant mutant wolves back in Ravendusk. He knelt to examine the bodies and the manner of their demise. A gag reflex that hadn't bothered him for years, started sending reminders to the brain. His men listened and watched their surroundings while he examined the prints and tried to figure out if --
(03:11:37 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- they were mainly going in or out of the estate.
(03:13:43 pm) <devilGM> All was silent and dark in the mansion, nothing but devastation. While the prints further inside were a chaotic mish-mash, smeared and in all directions, the prints near the front door and the broken windows all indicated that whatever canine or lupine creatures did this were on their way outside once they were finished. There was more to the mansion, however, and the trail of carnage
(03:13:43 pm) <devilGM> led deeper inside.
(03:16:54 pm) <Ware`Severn> Far from being relieved that the monstrous canids were gone, he felt the twist in his gut. They escaped. They escaped and they were going to do more of the same to more warm living bodies, may the Twins preserve them. Resisting the urge to run back outside and follow their pawprints, he headed deeper into the estate, flanked by two of his men, while the third covered their rear. His gray eyes --
(03:16:54 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- flickered from the corridors and rooms ahead of him to the carnage-strewn floor under his feet as he followed the destruction.
(03:21:29 pm) <devilGM> There was less gore and death than in the main area, but it was still there. A few looked like they had died before they were partly eaten, however: their faces were twisted in unnatural anguished expressions. Further into the mansion, they find a doorway with the door itself having been torn from its hinges and flung down the hall. Outside that door is a pile of ashes with a pair of
(03:21:29 pm) <devilGM> intact shoes, and nearby that is a smashed statue. Closer inspection reveals it to be a statue of a maid.
(03:29:46 pm) <Ware`Severn> The search party went room to room, to make sure they weren't going to be flanked and surrounded. As he got to the newest discoveries, his jaw tightened more and more. No one made maid statues anymore and no one took the time to dump ashes everywhere. Of the anguished expression, the less was thought, the better. "If we find anything, do not look it in the eyes," he suggested, as he stepped --
(03:29:46 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- through the now-doorless passage to search the room beyond. If he found nothing, he'd come out and continue through the estate another way.
(03:34:12 pm) <devilGM> They enter the laboratory proper, and their senses are assaulted in entirely new ways. It was a large and extensive lab where all sorts of experiments must have gone on. The bookshelves and other alchemical devices for seemed largely left alone, but there were glass tubes and tanks of various sizes that had been smashed, the preserving fluid inside having dried days ago, making the floor
(03:34:12 pm) <devilGM> an entirely different kind of sticky than the dried blood. Dead experiments lay in the dried fluid, some with bites taken out of them, but most left alone. The lab assistants were in the same state as the mansion staff, with another smashed lab assistant "statue" off to one side. At the far end of the lab was a heavy iron door that had also been broken open, and open it hung, leading into
(03:34:12 pm) <devilGM> another part of the lab.
(03:42:00 pm) <Ware`Severn> He looked for anything he could collect and take back with him so a court mage or alchemist could go over it but everything was broken, mixed together and left to spoil. Not that the knight had any alchemical training to even know what to take. He looked at the lab assistant remains with disgust. "For fuck's sake, Tivaurd," he whispered. Impatient to find out more and possibly grab the thin --
(03:42:01 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- thread of evidence of what might have happened to his brothers during the war, he stepped over the remnants of the iron door, into the depths of the laboratory.
(03:47:33 pm) <devilGM> This room smelled slightly less bad than the rest, as there was only one human corpse inside. It was a room almost as large as the main lab itself, and contained cages too large to be considered actual cages -- more like enclosures, seven separate ones in total, with thick, dense bars and various containment measures built into them, like sliding panels meant to slam down around the
(03:47:34 pm) <devilGM> enclosures to block them off from sight, retractable spikes to discourage slamming against the bars, and so forth. In addition, there were now-dim and inactive runes carved into some of the bars as well as paper talismans with magic writings pasted here and there, also burned-out and dark. However, each cage's main door was open, and only one looked like it had been opened forcibly because
(03:47:34 pm) <devilGM> the hinges of the gate were melted off, the iron around them twisted and black. There were workstations around the room for various purposes, including one that looked like it belonged in a regular butcher shop, right near an open cold cellar that smelled less of corpses and more of prepared meat. Above that workstation was a chalkboard showing what appeared to be a feeding schedule with
(03:47:34 pm) <devilGM> dates and amounts on it, and seven names: (cont)
(03:49:00 pm) <devilGM> The names were arranged alphabetically: Bloody Dark, Dagger Hide, Death Fang, Gazer, Laugher, Many Maws, and Thunder Howl. How evocative.
(04:01:22 pm) <devilGM> Nothing of use is to be found on Horasym's body. It doesn't look like there's much of use left, with the equipment and experiments left wrecked and with no witnesses -- even the petrified ones would need to be painstakingly put back together before being un-petrified, since they were so thoroughly smashed. The various workstations don't turn up much of use, either. It looks like there
(04:01:22 pm) <devilGM> isn't much of anything left to do in the mansion.
(04:05:14 pm) <Ware`Severn> "Move out," he commanded the relieved men. Moving just as slowly and methodically, they traced their steps back out of the mansion, with Ware leading the way, holding aloft his glowing shield. If nothing ambushed them, they would reach the front door and step outside, where they'd try to use their ranger skills to determine which way the beasts ran off and then check some of the nearby houses to --
(04:05:14 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- see if there was even more carnage.
(04:07:46 pm) <devilGM> Miraculously, they find tracks matching the largest set of paw-prints from the mansion, heading toward the river. Following them, they find more tracks matching some of the smaller prints, but once they reach the river, that's it.
(04:11:52 pm) <Ware`Severn> They went quickly back to their horses, where Ware gave them their new orders. "Go as fast as you can to the provincial guard posts and tell them what happened. I want as many men on full alert as possible, as fast as possible. I'm going to Drache to warn the council and get funds to raise a culling party." He swung his leg over Bonaventure and mounted up. "If you see any of these hounds, do not --
(04:11:53 pm) <Ware`Severn> -- fight them alone. Run as fast as you can to get backup. Now is no time for heroics. That comes later. Go!" With that, he spun around and galloped at full speed towards the capital.
Outside the city of Drache lies a number of cities, towns and provinces of varying size and populace. Most of the people living outside Drache are natives who speak Arangothian and observe the native customs and rituals. Click here for a list Arangoth's locales, and here to view a map.
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