The estate is broken, devastated. A dozen lifetimes of waste, thanks to my grandfather and his ambitions. Oh, I did not believe the tales when my grandfather, may he rot in the hell that he created here, sent the letter. I had thought hiring a simple set of guard and the carriage to take me to the distant memory of my ancestral home.
I could not have been more wrong.
On the road, we were beset by a coordinated attack, and my guards managed to protect my life as the caretaker who’d been left to ‘care’ for the estate fled in terror, raving that he’d been punished for even bringing me here. The knight, Acele, quickly donned his armor and readied his sword, an apparent veteran of the latest batch of religious crusades worn by the light. A gruff, quiet, faithful man who had apparently been discarded by the church, considering the state of his armor. A strange contrast by his side, Donari, a sharp man with a dark complexion, quick with wit and humor who nonetheless carried himself with a sort of deadly grace.
It was Donari who quietly informed Acele that these bandits were no mere run of the mill brigands. The way that the carriage had been removed from the road, but causing as little damage as possible, spoke of training and coordination. Acele took all this in with stoic silence, and the two of them left to deal with the matter as I attempted to secure what little was left. An hour passed, then two, interspersed with gunfire and the screams of men. To say that I was worried would be an understatement, but I was also confident in the men that I had hired, expecting not a scratch and that the brigands to be dealt with swiftly and succinctly.
I imagine my grandfather laughing as I witnessed Donari, bloodied and patched up, being helped back to the carriage by Acele, whose armor had been dented and scarred by smoke, flame, and blade.
No, this was no easy task, no lark and easy inheritance of blessing, as I was about to find.
Our hurried trek to the supposed safety of the estate left me wounded and soul and body. Gone was the fine roads, the solid architecture, and joyful populace that I recalled from my youth. Now this ruined, near deserted city was my inheritance. I set about to work and rebuild, coordinating what I could from the remaining hollow eyed inhabitants that remained, while Donari and Acele recovered from their wounds.
Praise the light, that in my haste to return to the estate, that I had forgotten to take down the bounty request for hiring more guardians. A priestess of the Light, Arialynn, and a doctor of some repute, Insein, arrived upon another carriage, and both immediately went to work to assist Donari and Acele.
In the week of recovery, of furiously writing letters requesting aid and promising gold, the four were willing to scout the more dangerous ruins. Many of the inhabitants believed the four to be going to their deaths. I had higher hopes than them, but the soul crushing despair in the workers tempered my enthusiasm for this band of adventurers. I wished them the best of luck, and provided them with materials with the last of my gold to outfit them for a few days of the expedition.
More arrived as I awaited the return of the first four. Kormok, an old veteran of many wars and trainer of soldiers, had come seeking gold and perhaps one last glory. Pyri, a champion musketeer who wished to prove herself better than just a target shooting at distant, immobile targets, but had not seen actual combat. Razas, a mystic of some sort, of the occult arts. As I welcomed these new additions (and expensive mercenaries, it should be noted that I will need much more black powder and musket balls for Donari and Pyri), Arialynn, Insein, Donari and Acele returned, battered but not much the worse for wear… at least until I looked into their eyes.
Arialynn was shaken, eyes wide and terrified Insein had none of her usual vials left, cursing quietly under her mask, and Donari and Acele were spattered with rotten viscera and gore.
The horrors they had seen are near indescribable, but I will do my best. Undead, walking, armed with rusted weapons and armor. Foul abominations, stretching the mind, of pigs and fish and man flesh stitched and woven together in a seamless tapestry. And hints of worse, altars to forgotten gods and craven images, death traps abound.
Arialynn immediately left to pray for guidance, and solitude. Insein took me aside, and provided a hastily scratched list of reagents, materials, and onwards, to support her cause.
Acele held his sword in front of him. “By the Light, man…. This is nothing we expected. The road was the least of it. We will need an army.”
And so I write this, a journal of what is to come. Just now I hear the clatter of hooves as more unknowing souls arrive to this hell we have found. The work to recover has been endless. But victories have been found, and tragedies struck. Pyri, Aunne, Kormok, and Razas returned with Pyri raving, and they and the guards had to subdue her before she harmed herself or others. The poor young woman raved that she was consistently covered in foul, plagued blood by some of the undead nobility. Razas immediately headed to the bar after dispatching Pyri to the sept, drinking despondently. Kormok reported they were successful, despite the…. Close calls that Aunne received, and the paranoid ravings of Pyri. A Pyrrhic victory, perhaps.
Arialynn, Insein, Acele and one newcomer, Aslene, reported one greater victory, however. A necromancer who was working with the cultists and raising more undead, was put down in a vicious battle, with Aslene dealing the final blow. The beginnings appear dark, but I still have hope in my newfound compatriots.
I can only hope that this string of victories continues… for tomorrow, I will go up to the Manor, and the entrance of the Darkest Dungeon. Something there…. Calls to me.