103. Hunted

Jenson shivers a moment as Talo comes up stairs and settles down. “Yeah, that fire is not too heart warming”, sighing “maybe we should have used the central oven in this place” pointing down to the living area.
Jenson brightens when Talo finds the stash of chunks of very light, black rocks, slightly shiny and dusty like charcoal.”Man, is that what I think it is? If it is coal of some type, that could warm this place and longer than wood alone, we should use it.”
Looking at the meagre fire in the forge, “maybe we should switch out to the hearth and use that? Plus…” with a worried look on his face as he holds up a very empty water bottle, “I do believe we need to find ourselves some fresh drinkable safe water real soon as our supply is about gone.”
Nervously looking about further, “I think we should double check all the windows and doors in this place to make sure they are all secure.” Jenson gets up and with his blaster pistol ready, “Cynan, Gildor did you two want to go upstairs with me and make sure everything is secure upstairs?”
Jenson will go upstairs to make sure all the windows are secure/locked then sees the doors to each room are closed.

Cynan comes upstairs with Jenson and checks the windows, all three of them, built into the south wall. These are barred and the bars feel secure. There are wooden shutters to keep out the wind and snow (still falling). On the ground floor, the windows are little more than arrow slits, there are a couple of low windows but these are barred too.

Gildor says, “Saphiria didn’t find anything as far out as she went for her to eat. I’ve got some dried meat and we’ll probably need to feed her some food packs too. That’s a good distance from here she flew along the river. She’s cold too.”

Jenson looks up to the ceiling as if looking outside “Oh poor Saphiria, we can open a window for her to fly in from but will she be able to spot any of those undead things to make sure it is safe to get inside by window or door?”

Kradorn looks at Jenson as if he’s stupid “The windows are all barred Jenson.”

Finally settling back down though Jenson is still holding his blaster at the ready, “Sure I’ll take what ever watch you need of me and you bet Gildor, I am game for whatever you can teach me” and Grins, “I guess I’ll need something to write with and on before we get started?”

“Well, someone could have told me there was a hearth… If you think those black rocks will provide heat… all the better. Keep a spot near the hearth for Saphiria to get warm with. I’m sure there are some pots in the cellar and we can get some snow and boil it for water. Let’s get a bigger container to pour the water into once it’s melted and cleaned to restock our water skins. Let’s see. Gordon, Talo, Kalam and I can get the clean pots, a big clean container from the cellar… Get them filled with snow every so often after we get the hearth going.” says Gildor.

With a bit of passion, Jenson blurts out “What, whoa, do you think the snow is safe to melt and drink?? Will the plague or something that ended up turning anyone drinking tainted water into undead be there?”
Pleadingly looking at Talo “Um, besides the known chemical additives from modern science that I think we do not have, are there ways to purify water from the gods blessings, or something like that. Does your gifts from your god help with that?”
Getting up and going through the survival gear/pack “Maybe there are Iodine or chlorine tablets in here or something to make drinking water safe?”

Jenson can’t find anything in the stuff taken from the escape pod. Looking up from his search he asks “Guys, wait do you think it is safe to go out now?”

Kradorn laughs “Afraid of the snow now?”

Gildor stops and thinks about Jenson’s concerns. “Well Jenson, I think if we boil it we should be fine. If you have anything to make it safe by all means do so. Talo my friend, if your god can bless our water to be safe that is just as good also.”

“We’ve got plenty of food packs I’d say. While I’m at it I’ll check on the privy just in case we need to in the middle of the night.” says Gildor.

But despite searching the whole house again he can’t find a privy.

Turning to Gildor Jenson says, “Gads! What, no bathroom!” Gulps “You mean we have to go outside to the outhouse? Err maybe there are um, what did they call them um yeas that is it, chamber pots, yes, a pot to hold our business till it is safe to dump it out in the outhouse?”

Gildor nods to Jenson, “I think it’s safe to go out it’s just snow. I do think we might all want to check out the back area once get our respective task finished. I didn’t find a privy but perhaps there is an out house out back or we can set up a chamber pot in the other room and we can dispose of it in the morning.”

Gildor tells the others, “Let’s board up or block the window with something and Saphiria can use the front door.”

Kradorn puts his head in his hands “Okay, you do that Gildor.”

“That will be the most secure way. Saphiria should be here soon probably while we are gathering fresh snow from the front area. Let’s pack the snow in as much as possible into the pots to get the most water possible per boiling batches until our biggest container is full or it gets close to Afternoon bell.”

After collecting various pots and pans from the kitchen and storeroom, the party open the front door and start scooping up some of the snow, careful just to take the top half. The sky is white with falling snow and visibility has dropped to about 50m. The wind also seems to have picked up, blowing the fresh snow into drifts against houses and fences.
After gathering the snow, the party head down the steps and get the big iron oven fired up.
They dump the snow into a cauldron sat on the stove. A couple of trips sees it almost full of water, about 16 pints in total.

Gildor tells Jenson, “Let’s get our tasks done then once we are all here, Saphiria too we can check the back door and the area it leads to. As far as paper and pencil let’s just go over some of the hand gestures, mechanics and basic vocalizations. Tomorrow while we scout out the building nearby us, we might find a magic shop or supply store that may have some writing material and books you might be able to start learning some basic stuff with. Let’s just focus on the basics for now. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk.”

Opening the big wooden double doors at the back of the forge reveals a yard about twice the size of the house. There is a large shed, padlocked shut and an outhouse, the waste draining into a septic tank. There are two chamber pots next to the camp beds in the storeroom.

“Jenson, you, Cynan and Kradorn can get the upstairs sorted out and the forge rooms sealed up. I’d say we post watches for the night. We can start watches at Evening bell. That’s four shifts. That’s seven of us. Jenson, Kalam, Talo, Myself, Kradorn, Gordon, and Cynan. I recommend Myself and Jenson take first watch at Evening bell to to mid evening bell and I can start the process of training him in magic so that when the time comes it might go a bit quicker. Next, I recommend Kalam and Gordon for Mid evening bell to Midnight bell, Then Talo and Kradorn for the Midnight bell to Silent bell. Last would be Cynan for Silent bell to Morning bell when we all get up and ready for the day. New marching order too. Single file would be Kalam, Cynan, Kradorn, Talo, Jenson, Gordon, Gildor and Side by side is Kalam, Cynan/Kradorn, Talo/Gordon, Gildor/Jenson. Please feel free to make changes to my recommendations.”

Saphiria returns later, screaming at a window to be let in. The creature looks freezing and hurries over the remains of the dying fire in the forge and snuggles down in the embers. It is hungry, unable to find any sign of prey. They only living things it saw on its journey was a large boat being rowed upstream.

Gildor bows his head when Kradorn tells him to go ahead and work on the windows, “OK, so they’re barred or just arrow slits. That should be good enough.” as he laughs at himself.
Gildor will add some more coal and wood to the fire first to get Saphiria warmed up.

Saphiria objects, she can sit in the embers but a fire is too hot for her.

He also feeds her the last of his dried meat and some rations he has and if necessary, some of the meals from the ship. Once he sees Saphiria doing better he’ll address the groups concerns.

The firedrake eats Gildor’s last two pounds of meat but won’t touch the dried meat of the rations and refuses to even sniff the ship’s rations.

Jenson shakes his head in wonderment as he watches Saphiria settle into the hot embers of the fire. “Man she must have been really cold” Turns to Gildor, “You mentioned she says no food or pray, um nothing for how far again? Like how many days march?? ” he Sighs then perks up remembering “Oh and she mentioned to you about a large boat being rowed upstream. I wonder how far away that was and assume upstream means away from here.”

Gildor motions for a pause while Jenson is talking, ”Jenson my friend, as for the riverboat I do not know if it is coming this way. Let me check with Saphiria. My dear. Is the boat coming toward us or away from us? This will tell us the direction of upstream as well. My link to Saphiria only goes about a mile but she could have been farther out. How far away from us was the boat my dear?”

The firedrake has no notion of time or distance but she can tell Gildor that it was being rowed upstream towards the city, off to the east and that it won’t arrive here before nightfall.

Gildor asks Jenson to hang on before closing the forge door. Gildor checks the padlock for traps. When everyone is ready to have him open the door, he does so with Laser carbine ready and buckler on and investigates what’s inside.

“Yes Gildor the boats direction will be good for us to know” then Jenson delays closing the forge doors and keeps a watch/look out as Gildor goes and examines the shed and the lock. He stands at the doorway blaster postal in right hand and the left hand on the door knobs/handle of the left hand door ready to quickly close if needed.

“Thanks Jenson. I’ll be right back.” Gildor listens at the shed door. Checks for traps.

Gildor finds no traps on the padlock and has no trouble opening it. The shed contains a stack of chopped fire wood, a couple of axes, empty boxes, empty sacks, a barrel of lantern oil, garden tools, canes, a 10′ ladder, a set of step ladders, pots of nails, planks of wood etc.
Gildor pokes about but finding nothing of any great importance returns to the house.

Upon Gildor’s return, Jenson closes the big wooden double doors and lowers the heavy wooden bar across it. The snow is still falling outside, now 15cm deep.

“OK, forge doors closed and locked plus all the windows have shutters and such are secure. Except for those arrow slit windows which I guess we could stuff something, maybe one of the Gnome leather armours or Dwarven ones into the gaps?” He will find something to seal/cover the gaps if they had no shutters.

Jenson then sits down in a corner of the forge room where all the gear was placed once everything is settled in for the evening “Gildor let me arrange my stuff and the rest of the gear to get an idea what we have then we can train” and goes over the supplies they have including his own, separating stuff and inventorying it.

Kradorn comes up to see what Gildor and Jenson are doing up in the workshop, which is getting chilly now there is no fire in the forge. He says “Gordon reckons it’ll be dark around Evening Bell, that’s nearly a whole bell. Time enough to do a little exploring? I’ve also been thinking, apart from the river running through it, this place is a desert. There’s literally nothing to eat here apart from what we have with us. We should start planning about how to get out of here.”
He comes over to Jenson doing his inventory and gives one of the black boxes from the escape pod a gentle kick (one of the generators Jenson notes). “What does all this stuff do? We can’t carry all this junk.” He gives the generator another kick. “This thing must weigh fifty pounds. Are you going to carry it on your back, cross country for Gods know how far?”

Gildor grabs as much firewood as he can closes the shed and locks it again.
Gildor comes back inside and says,”Thanks Jenson. The shed’s full of chopped wood, lantern oil and gardening stuff. The boats coming this way and should be coming by this city by nightfall Saphiria says. Everyone put some water in your wine skins or containers say a couple pints each. I’ll take one pint if there’s not enough for two pints each. Kradorn I’d like to get out and explore a bit too before sunset. The passenger on the boat might provide answer to where we are in relation to lands end if they’re peaceful sorts. Kradorn let’s do a quick building check on what types are nearby, general store, library, magic/potion shop, temples, cartography/maps. I don’t want to be out too close to sunset though. Boat or no boat. We get back inside before sunset.”

Jenson cringes as Kradorn kicks the generator, “Um, Kradorn, this generator is valuable to the equipment we brought down from the ship. It generates the electricity, er power to run some of our equipment.” Jenson calmly slides the generator closer to him along with some of the other gear from the ship “When we are ready to travel, I’ll help make some of the decisions on what we can take and what we will have to leave behind and maybe come back for.” Smiles at Kradorn, “Right now, I agree we need to do a little exploring before dark, possibly to see what or who is in that ship.”

Jenson sorts through the gear and pulls out the spy glass, “maybe if we get a chance we can use this telescope to see the ship before it gets to close or we run out of daylight.”

Gildor perks up at the mention of spy glass,”Let me check that out.” He checks it over for to see how they function. “Ok let’s bundle up and find out what buildings are around us. Yes, let’s all go.”

“Kradorn, Gildor, should we all go as a group? I think so but you guys call?” getting up “Let’s go see what everyone wants to do”. and heads back down to the rest of the group following Kradorn and Gildor. “We should stay in pairs for safety while here”.

Jenson looks over his collection of goodies from the escape pod, the AI seeming the obvious place to start. It is a 50cm high hexagonal column with a com-hub at the top and a series of armoured plates and screens down the sides. A coiled power connector fills the base.
The generators are 50cm wide and 75cm high barrels with three coiled power leads and six sockets in the base. There are two pop out slots for mini-power cells and screen under a protective cover on the top.
The materials converter produces refined blocks or containers filled with basic components – liquids (water) gas or solids (metals or alloys). These blocks or containers can be used by the mobile manufacturing unit to create almost anything with the minimum of assembly, from complex equipment to clothes, drugs etc.

After Jenson examines the spyglass himself he hands it to Gildor. “Here you go, careful with it. Um, I am guessing you know how it works?” He then gears up, replaces his two used power cells with fully powered cells verifying they read green. “OK, I got my exploring gear and new cells for my guns. Lead on.”

Jenson looks to Gildor, “I can use the spy glass when we need to, especially if you need a person that is not in combat or doing something to look out and about through the glass but you can carry it if you like or I can.” and smiles at Gildor waiting for who carries it before setting off.

Jenson smiles at Gildor and nods his head. “I’ll take good care of it” and tucks it safely within his pack “While we are out we should also look for some warm cloths or coat. I hope those on that ship are friendly. We should try to scout them from a tower maybe??”

“Lead on, but I am sure we will need to be careful getting on top of a tower. I do recommend getting back before night fall and only risking an encounter if those people on the boat really are friendly and we can safely get to them and have a safe place to hide out tonight.” Jenson smiles, “Though Best to keep our place here for tonight and deal with them tomorrow.”

Gildor, Kradorn and Jenson head out into the street and Cynan locks the front door behind them. The snow is still swirling down and laid a good 30cm deep by now. Just to the party’s right is a crossroads, left, the street bends away to the left, heading towards the river. Across the road from the armourers is a sword-smiths and on the crossroads is a old, run down looking inn.

“Which way now?” asks Kradorn.

Gildor says, “OK. Let’s move toward the river. Jenson take the spyglass and once we get to the river see if you can see them coming up the river. First let’s move toward the center of town where most of the important buildings should be. Along the way there we’ll look for Cartography shops, Magic Shops, Provision/General shops, Temples and make note of them. We’re not going to go to them just seeing what’s around us. From there we’ll head due West to the wall and south to the last tower. If we can get in perhaps you can use the spyglass to see the boat as it gets closer. I know it will be after nightfall before it gets here but you might see something with the spyglass. Let us look to as we’ll know more about flag markings and heraldry. We’ll save time to get back to our building before nightfall though. Let’s keep moving. Everyone stay sharp and keep your head on a swivel. Any Questions?”
Gildor makes sure his needler is good to go and ready with an AP clip, he checks his blaster rifle to make sure It’s ready and charged as they move out in marching order.

“Gildor, unless things food wise gets better, we will need to leave real soon then come back when we are better supplied. But true, getting some writing material to start my training would be great.” Smiling Jenson says, “Lead on Gildor, me and Krador will be right with you making all sorts of tracks.”

“That’s Kradorn, Jenny!” Growls the fighter.

Gildor leads Kradorn and Jenson across the junction and east towards where he thinks the centre of town would be. Most of the buildings they pass are single story hovels with the odd two story building with a protective wall around it. There are occasional shops and small markets, only identifiable by the signs or stalls at the front of the building.
However the closer they get to the centre of town the larger the buildings get, with a couple of distinctive three storey terraces and larger business establishments, including a bakery, a bank or money lender, a cobblers and a tailors.
The road is deep in snow, which continues to fall in great freezing gusts and billows, blowing around the group and occasionally sliding from icy rooftops.
The main square is just off the road they are are following. There is a governors palace or town hall dominating the northern end of the square, a harbourmaster’s residence, courts, an inn and a number of taverns. The west side of the square has two levels with raised walkways and more than a dozen small shops, including a jewellers, tailors, a bookseller and a scribe.
An archway in the southern end of the square leads to another smaller square filled with a covered market, bracketed by warehouses. Gildor can see another large square through the narrow streets just to the east, a park perhaps, dominated by a Great Temple at the far eastern end.

As they look about and explore Jenson keeps his blaster at the ready. “Gildor, some of these shops you mention sound interesting to explore with a full day to do so, such as that bakery, bank or money lender, cobbler and a tailor shops. Maybe the harbourmaster’s residence would have documents about what happened, an Inn and those taverns may still have casks of mead or wine or ale not totally fermented into uselessness . The west side has an interesting layout, the square with two levels of raised walkways and all those small shops. We might find stuff but that could take a while. Maybe the jewellers and tailors will be better suited for a longer check out and wow… a bookseller and a scribe would be useful.” Jenson sighs, “No magic shops, so maybe they are more hidden in appearance.”
Jenson pauses as he looks at the huge trail in the snow they are making. “You know, anything with a lick of intelligence will be able to follow our tracks, so we should make more tracks past the place we are staying to make it a bit less obvious? and I am concerned about saphire, there is no fresh meat for her to eat and I am not sure the material converter could make fresh meat for her.”
As they look into the narrow streets just to the east, which was filled with what used to be a park and is dominated by a Great Temple at the far eastern end “I think we should find a tower or high wall to see if we can spy on that boat then get back before it gets dark and save too much heavy exploring once we know about he boats occupants. Jenson looks for confirmation about heading for higher ground to spy from.

The great temple is the tallest building they can see. being over 30m tall, it dominates the city around it. It has a triangular bell tower just about visible from the ground amid the swirling snow.

Sighing as they “plow” through the building snow Jenson says “I do hope we can get a good look at the boat and whom is in it so we can get back to the warmth and out of this snow storm.” Shivering “I have not been in a real snow storm since I was a child on the dark side of the White planet 33’s moons base in the Tertiary quadrant with my parents.” Looking to Gildor and Kradorn.

Kradorn looks at Jenson then Gildor and shrugs.

“Every other snow storm I have experienced has been a hologram err, umm, illusionary storm while on a weekend vacation package for skiing on the slopes of MT Eberton. That was fun times and warmer too.”

Kradorn stops his steady stepping through the thick snow, looks over to Jenson and shakes his head.

~

With the three members of the party out exploring Gordon decides he needs some warmer clothing and so starts to explore the dwarven home a bit more looking for any wardrobes or chests which might have clothes in, anything warm or with which he could layer up. Even a blanket he could cut a hole in and use as a sort of poncho.

The gnome’s search doesn’t take long. Heading up the steps from the kitchen leads him to the 6 by 6 metre room next to the entrance. Here Gordon finds dwarf and gnome height hooks on the east wall from which hang cloaks, hats and heavy coats suitable for their respective owners. There’s a particularly nice red overcoat with a hood, trimmed with ermine in the gnome’s size. There are also a collection of heavy boots on a rack and a 50cm wide 1m high wardrobe in the corner. There are half a dozen lanterns hanging from the south wall and a barrel of lantern oil beneath them.

Gordon takes what he wants from the room and heads back downstairs.

After his little search and exploration the gnome is starting to get a little bit bored.
“Do you think there’ll be owt of interest in that sword-smiths guys?” asks the gnome. “Cynan, get that door open and I’ll go take a look at what they’ve got stashed away. Y’never know they might have a big coat I can use an’all.”

“Are you sure you want to go out there on your own Gordon? Just watch yourself okay, we don’t know where those ghouls have their lair. Shout if you need help.” says the paladin.
As he opens the door for the gnome he gives a shiver and says he’ll stay here with the door open, just in case.

Assuming the paladin does as asked Gordon will wade through the near waist deep snow to get across the road and check the door of the shop. He tests the strength of the locks with his shoulder and, in the absence of any locksmiths, ‘leans’ against it in quite a forceful manner. If he gains entry then he has an explore.

The big double doors prove too strong for the gnome but he gets a look inside the main building by pulling himself up to peer in the windows. The interior looks almost pristine, and quite elegant. The ground floor is decorated with faded wall hangings, carved wooden chairs in a organic, curvilinear style unlike anything Gordon has seen before and tables, cupboards and bookcases in a similar style.
The store just to the right is a high roofed hall, its walls lined with spears, axes, polearms and rows of swords, all padlocked in racks along the walls.
Gordon moves the under walkway between the house and the store and tries his shoulder on the door into the house here. No Luck. He moves on to the next door and finds it unlocked. With the snow swirling behind him in the yard, the gnome moves carefully into the house.

~

Jenson, Gordon and Kradorn head back towards the armoury through the pale, empty city, its side streets and alleys filled with swirling ghosts of snow and wind. They reach the armoury and note the tracks heading from the door, across the road, to the weapon smiths. Kradorn carries on heading west through the snowstorm, oblivious to the tracks.
Gildor and Jenson hurry after Kradorn and continue west, following the road until it is running south west, parallel to the wall, then they turn right heading for the wall, then south west again for a while before heading north west, bringing them to the base of the last tower on the wall.
The door at the base of the tower is locked but Gildor soon has it open and after Kradorn has a quick peek inside, they head up the stairs and on past the battlements to the top of the tower via a trapdoor.
Kradorn climbs up first and looks about and by the time Gildor and Jenson have clambered up too the fighter is laughing out loud and shaking his head. While Gildor fumbles about in his pack for the spyglass Jenson looks out and can see… snow. He can barely see the end of the last street they walked down, never mind the armoury, off to the north east somewhere.
Kradorn looks to the south “Can’t even see the river from here in this blizzard, never mind a boat hours away.”
His laugh is cut short by the piercing howl of a ghoul, or what sounds like a ghoul, not more than 200m away to the east. Moments later another howl sounds further away and another off to the south east. Other howls echo away into the distance but they are muffled and indistinct in the swirl of the snowstorm.

~

Gordon is in the middle of flicking through a particularly interesting three volume set of elven books on fruit cultivation when the howl of a ghoul echoes through the snow storm not 100m metres away to the north west.

Gordon drops the book on the side and makes a rapid return to the armoury to re-join Cynan and the others and gets ready for a fight.

~

Gildor hears the howls and looks at Jenson and Kradorn, “I think we should be heading back and with haste my friends. Weapons ready too. Blasted snow storm isn’t making this easy that’s for sure. Let’s get going and double time it too. Straightest path back to the armoury my friends. Keep a pace we can all manage staying in a group. We Don’t want to split up. Based on the sounds there might be several lairs of the Ghouls as it didn’t seem like they all came from one direction. Not sure though.”
Gildor heads back down and waits for the others as he does and then towards the armoury with the others with him weapon ready.

After the Ghoulish howls Jenson turns to Gildor, “Oh Hell yeah – let’s get the heck out of here and double time.” Jenson follows Gildor down, laser pistol ready “Lead on Gildor – If those in the boat are smart they will stay out there and not come to shore, dang snow storm, but let’s try to use it to our advantage to getting back.”

Gildor says, “Let’s skirt the wall up the main gate and follow the main road up to the armory as quickly as we can. The wall might protect our backs possibly. Check your targets just in case this boat is faster than Saphiria thought and they came into town. We don’t need to be shooting possible good folk. If it’s undead then let’em have it. Don’t be letting them touch ya, if ya can help it. Blaster and laser type weapons might be best on them too.”
Gildor readies his Laser Carbine and makes sure it’s powered and ready to go as he moves out double time but just as fast as the slowest of them can go without overtaxing them.

Gildor and the others get to the bottom of the tower and emerge onto the streets with snow swirling thickly about them. They head north-east, keeping the city wall on their left. There is a 3m wide gap between the wall and the back yards of the properties on the right and the party make good time, covering more than 200m and approaching the second tower on the wall before there is a ghoulish howl from 100m behind them. The howl is echoed by others in the group of a dozen or so pale and emaciated creatures, looking more like skeletons than ghouls. They come loping after the party through the snow, faster than the party but only just. Gildor reckons he has two minutes before they catch the party in a chase.
Other howls echo through the snow, off to the party’s right.

~

“There are cries of ghouls on the wind!” shouts Cynan from where he is watching the street.

Talo’s head jerks up at the warning and he stands as he takes up his axe. “The boys are bein’ hunted! Hopefully they can make it back here. Kalam, we should go out to meet them and help guard them on their return!” Talo hustles up the stairs intent on following their tracks out. The war cleric’s fingers are crossed in hopes the storm has not completely ruined the trail.

The snow trail is mostly lost in the swirling storm but enough remains to show the dwarf that Gildor and the others headed west, past the armoury and down the road towards the river.
As Talo is examining the trail more howls echo off to the west.

At this point Gordon comes trundling out of the weapon smith across the road in his red coat with a pointy hood, trimmed with ermine, the cuteness factor somewhat undermined by the battleaxe and laser carbine strapped across his back.

“Talo I think we should stand ready outside the front door, if we have some ranged weapons at the ready we will be able to cover our friends whilst they return to our fold and then fall back to the armoury where we may be able to control the assault of these ghouls more effectively.” With that Gordon hefts his laser rifle and heads out into the street to stand ready to blast some undead.

~

Jenson cringes with each howl as he races along yelling “Gildor! They will be upon us real soon! Do we run now like the wind to the armoury, turn and do a fighting retreat or ditch into the tower or a building and stand and fight?” Jenson is starting to pick up the pace as he hears other howls to their right.
Taking a quick look back as they move/run along, “Yikes, they are like um, less then 100m!” “I can toss a grenade for affect when they get closer as they are bunched up some as you guys keep running.” Jenson is ready to holster his pistol and grab his flechette grenade if needed.

Gildor yells just in case Cynan, Talo and the others heard the howls and decide to come out to help, “We’re gunna need to fight!!! Kradorn keep heading toward the armoury in a north-east direction while we do a fighting retreat towards the armoury. Jenson, fire at will but watch your targets toward the N.E. Keep your eyes peeled for howls in other directions.”

Kradorn, Jenson and Gildor head east, passing the second tower on their left and then across a piece of waste ground, through a gap between a warehouse and a row of terrace hovels and out onto a rutted street heading south east. Kradorn waits a moment for Jenson to catch him up before setting off again at a sprint east, towards the junction with the road leading down to the river.

Gildor casts fireball to engulf as many as possible and still not hit endanger him or the others as well as minimize damage to homes.

The fireball roars between the buildings and catches the ghouls as they are crossing the waste ground. Gildor’s practice pays off and he engulfs the first eight of the creatures in the fireball. All of them go down in flames. The elf turns and runs after Kradorn and Jenson who have stopped at the junction ahead.

Just visible in the swirling snow they can see another group of ghouls approaching fast down the road from the north-east, maybe 60m away.
Gildor glances behind him but can’t see any sign of pursuit from the ghoul pack he fireballed.

~

Talo hears the distant howls of the ghouls and tries to wait for any sign of Gildor and the others or for the ghouls to appear. As he is mumbling and looking frantically for a target amid the swirling snow, there is a bright orange flare 500m to the west, near the battlements, followed by a low rumble.
In the seconds of silence that follow he’s sure he hears a distant snarl from somewhere to the east. Gordon turns at Talo’s signal and peering through a momentary gap in the snow, sees a group of maybe a dozen figures approaching quickly along the road to the east.

“Gentlemen we appear to have some company coming in from the East, perhaps a dozen about 300 yards out. Pretty sure we can take them or turn them. Is it worth making a fighting journey Westwards towards the others who seem to be lighting the place up whilst we blast at this lot?” With that Gordon squeezes off a shot from the rifle just to get an idea of the range. Then starts to take steady backwards steps Westwards whilst watching for the ghouls coming from the East and firing steady measured shots.

Gordon begins retreating and his laser rifle flickers through the snow, leaving a faint trail of steam for a moment before its lost amid the snow storm. He can’t see the ghouls through the swirling snow but he thinks he can hear them.
Kalam and Talo join him, unable to see any sign of the ghouls to the east, they glance west before moving forward with the gnome.
Cynan realises he hasn’t got a shield or an energy weapon and runs back into the armoury to get them, shouting to the others “Go, I’ll catch you up!”

~

At the Intersection, Jenson takes a second to yell, as Gildor joins them, “woo hooo great Balls of Fire that was a fiery effective blast Gildor”, Then turns seeing the movement off to his right, and points NE at the Ghouls 60m away and closing fast as they race at them down the road -“We got more company! Dang it! You two keep running, I got this, I hope” gulps and takes out his flechette hand grenade and steps up and tosses it at the incoming Ghouls hoping to land the grenade to explode right in the midst of the beginning of the group hoping they run into the blast for effect. Then turns and sprints after Gildor and Kradorn as fast as he can. “Momma here we come, open that door!!”

Gildor catches up with the others, “Oh crap… more to the northeast.” Just as he hears Jenson and slows his closure with the ghouls, grabbing Kradorn to slow him just a bit so as not to get caught in the grenade blast. ”Get-em Jenson!” Gildor shoulders his laser carbine to take a shot at anything left standing. He verifies his target as undead before shooting. “Keep your eyes peeled and on a swivel while we head Northeast. Fire at will, check targets as we go. Support each other’s fire if needed. Stay together.” Gildor glances around from time to time checking their situation and continues to fire his rifle as needed.

Jenson pulls out a grenade and throws it at the oncoming ghouls. Knowing it takes about five seconds before it goes off, he decides to wait, then throw. The grenade lands just short of the leading ghouls and goes off a couple of seconds later, catching the group in a flash and blast that knocks half of them down.
The remaining ghouls charge forward with Kradorn and Gildor shooting their laser rifles and Jenson fumbling to get out his pistol.
By the time Jenson has the weapon out and is blasting away, two more ghouls are down. Jenson’s first shot misses a ghoul running at him, his second staggers it and his third brings it down with a flash of white fire. He picks another target, the last of the creatures picking itself up from the blast and knocks it down again. It’s then he hears Kradorn calling him forward, past the carnage of the grenade blast and on towards the north east.
Jenson begins running and glances left, seeing a group of about 20 ghouls coming from the direction of Gildor’s fireball.
“Run!” Shouts Kradorn again, pointing to another dozen or so ghouls, running along behind the party, not 40m away.

Jenson continues running and firing, yelling, “There are way too many, keep running, I am with you!” and shoots at the nearest ghoul.

Gildor hears Kradorn as they continue to run toward the Armourers’ shop/home.

“Keep hauling ass boys. Let’s hope our friends can help us.”
Gildor grabs a Fletchette grenade and arms it, counts to 2 and then tosses it towards the 12 that are 40m away. He’s hoping if he times it right the grenade will go off near the rear of the pack.

Kradorn turns and fires too “Run or fight, you can’t do both!” he shouts, somewhat annoyed by Gildor and Jensen. The laser carbine makes a bleep noise but shoots nothing. Kradorn gives it a shake, tries again and then slings it over his back with a curse.
Jenson’s first shot goes wide and explodes against a distant building, his second shot is closer but passes through the pack and hits nothing.
Gildor pulls the grenade from his pack and lobs it towards the back of the pack, the throw is not a great one and the grenade lands 10m or more past the ghouls, where it explodes harmlessly.
Jenson’s third shot hits and kills the closest ghoul, now no more than 20m away.
Kradorn’s longbow twangs and a ghoul falls impaled through the chest by a sheaf arrow.
“Now run!” Shouts the fighter furiously.

They run with ten or so ghouls close behind and getting closer. The party reach the next junction and turn right, heading east, towards the road that the armoury is on about 200m ahead. Gildor, Jenson and Kradorn are about a quarter of the way along this road when the ghouls finally catch them. As Kradorn turns with sword drawn the ghouls leap at him. Gildor can see more ghouls behind them, perhaps thirty on top of the ten that are fighting.

~

Gordon, Talo and Kalam back down the road, watching for any sign of the ghouls closing on them through the swirling snow but they can see nothing yet. There is a muffled bang somewhere to the west and perhaps the faint flicker of a distant laser beam between the buildings.

“Let’s hold ground ’til our fellows get back to us.” With that, Talo raises his axe in the whirling storm toward the oncoming ghouls to the east. “Git ta dyin’ ya undead filth!” The war priest invokes the will of Clanggedin in hopes of turning the beasts.
The war priest stares down the remaining undead host as they approach, awaiting his chance to dispatch them in their onslaught. Talo crouches to the left flank of Gordon as the gnome fires into the ghoul hunting party.

Cynan reappears after about ten seconds and runs back to the party who have stopped moving westward. Behind him the first of the ghouls are now visible through the snow storm about 150m away.
Gordon takes aim and shoots, as do Cynan and Kalam, beams and bolts of energy flash through the snow, lighting up the surrounding buildings in eerie hues.
Gordon, struggling with the snow blowing about his face, misses with his first three shots and then begins cursing in gnomish as the laser rifle beeps and refuses to fire again.
Kalam does better, taking careful aim, he shoots steadily and brings down ghoul after ghoul. Cynan aims causally, shoots and hits, shoots and hits, shoots and hits again, much to his surprise. His next three shots all miss but as the ghouls close, heedless of the losses they are taking, the paladin’s aim improves and he bags the last monster still a good 70m out.
Talo watches the carnage as the laser and blaster pick off the ghouls one by one and sighs in frustration. Kalam inspects his weapon and cleans snow from the little screen on the side. “I’m down to 8 shots.”

~

Gildor says, “Fighting retreat. Move backwards as we fight. We need to get inside the Armoury.”
Gildor fires trying to kill as many as he can.
Gildor yells, ”HEEEELLLLPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The ghouls barrel into the party, knocking them all down in clouds of snow. Only Kradorn gets up again, throwing off a ghoul, his sword sweeps out and beheads one of the creatures then swings back loping off an arm and a jaw. Gildor and Jenson lie paralysed by the ghouls’ touch.
Kradorn moves quickly, striking down one of the ghouls standing over Gildor’s paralysed body while avoiding the claws of two others.
The ghouls swarm towards the fighter and while he dodges their grasping claws he is forced to retreat a step. One of the creatures grabs Kradorn’s shield with both hands but it seems skinny and weak and lifting the shield high, the fighter swings at waist height and cuts it in two.
To his horror Kradorn sees Jenson being dragged away but is still facing half a dozen ghouls. He clears the rim of his shield with his sword and parries or dodges the three ghouls pressing him, two claws tear across his armour but leave him unharmed. A strike over his shield splits a ghoul’s skull down to its jaw and it falls lifeless into the snow.
More swarm towards him and he is forced to retreat again and can only chop off an arm in return. Another ghoul grabs Gildor’s arm and begins dragging him off too, Kradorn can only watch in frustration as the three around him close for the kill. He dodges and parries most of the claws but two hit and penetrate his armour, only very minor wounds but enough for the evil cold of the ghouls to paralyse him to his core.

~

“Did anyone else hear that?” asks Talo. “A distant cry for help?”
At that moment Saphiria bursts from the out of the armoury and with a screech, passes over the party’s heads and heads off towards the south west.