Aftermath of the Battle
The two inquisitors and apprentices take in the carnage in the aftermath of the battle. Uther instructs that Richard find armour suitable for him from one of the Templars and to round up as much of the personal possessions of each. The zombies, Araken and Sithe filth are thrown into the fast flowing river.
With sleet continuing to fall, the group risk a fire although it takes nearly an hour to catch significantly offering any kind of warmth. Raphael in particular is struggling, his chest painfully cold from the close proximity of the wraith. (Who will use the goblet?)
As the four share some cold meat and goats cheese, Uther quickly informs Raphael of tragic events unfolding at Netherby. It quickly become evident that first a swarm of undead followed by a crack team of Sithe attacked the wall several days prior. The fort, situated just in front of the wall itself fell, with the defenders falling back to the relative safety of the wall. Despite their overwhelming numbers, the attackers were unable to take the wall with Jean de Carcassonne prominent in stemming the undead flow.
A raging storm behind them, the attackers tried again the following day with Uther arriving just after dawn. Seeking out his Templar leaders, his news was met with dismay by tired and already hard pressed defenders. Nevertheless, with Netherby cut off from north and south and the west coast blockaded, only the eastern road to Vindolanda remained open. Quickly, a team of 20 knights was recruited with several local men fearing for their homelands in Cumberland. Danagrim support was also requested but the Dwarven priests insisted that their place was at the wall and wished Uther good speed and Christ’s blessing.
In response Raphael tells Uther all that has befallen the group since his departure including the more recent appearance of the wraith and his own emergence from the woodlands earlier that morning.
With the two friends reunited alongside their respective apprentices, the is unfortunately shortlived given the bleak outlook faced. Fearing that they can do little to change the situation in Carlisle, the two decide that a return to Netherby is the best course of action. Richard is also concerned that the bridge not be left unmanned after so many Templars died to claim it back but Uther points out that as a four they have little chance of defending it should the Sithe attack again with increased numbers.
Setting off in the thickening sleet the four make good progress during the day despite the freezing weather conditions, which seems to bite at their exposed skin as they travel north on the old Roman road. With the wall only a short distance away they come upon a ragtag group of refugees from the town just before reaching the Vindolanda road. Terrified and fearfully looking behind them they beg for protection. Calming the group down, Uther is able to discern that a huge explosion has brought down an enormous portion of the wall. Those knights attempting to plug the gap were faced by the witch Morrigan surrounded by her own, deadly demonic hand. Ripping into the defenders, there was little the Templars and Danagrim could do as a surge of undead poured in through the breach whilst Morrigan visited death with every flourish of her arthritic wrists.
Quickly an elite group formed led by Jean and Spiranus as behind the Templars began evacuating the townspeople. Such was the situation as the group fled the scene arriving on the cross section of road leading to Vindolanda and Carlisle. During the course of the story a second group of refugees emerges out of the driving sleet no less terrified than the first.
Uther and Raphael quickly decide that they are honour bound to escort and if necessary protect these innocent people from the death and destruction behind them. Arranging a diamond guard around the crowd of women, children and elderly men, the group set out on the road to Vindolanda. As they make slow progress towards the Roman fort, the sleet gives way to snow. The evacuees grow increasingly concerned as the clearly warped weather conditions hamper their progress and pray for divine intervention. The group has covered about a third of the distance to Vindolanda when they see a mass of figures ahead of them. Hopeful that they have caught s larger group of evacuees ahead of them on the road, the group increases its pace but as they grow closer, the shambling gait of the throng ahead betrays the animated form of an army of the dead! Hundreds of figures fill the panorama ahead with the road ahead blocked by a seething mass of ashen faced figures, some desiccated and long dead, others still exhibiting congealed wounds from battles fought in recent weeks. In the heart of the army, a huge figure is sat on horseback carrying a staff made of bone and wearing a white mask. Surrounding him, what appears to be a Praetorian guard of long dead Pictish warriors.
With no way through, the evacuees begin to panic, turning and fleeing from the monstrosity in front. Uther calls for calm but to no avail with small groups fragmenting, some fleeing into the snowy countryside and others on the main road. Suddenly on the road behind, yet more shambling corpses appear, led by an ancient skeleton wearing Roman armour closing the noose on the evacuees who are now surrounded by undead. Pointing his skeletal hand at the evacuees his forces surge forward in a desperate, grabbing attempt to devour the living! As they surge forward, the skeleton suddenly stops and appears to combust in a conflagration of emerald green flames. The combustion is so violent that the skeleton’s head blasts off his shoulders landing 20ft away in a smouldering mess of smashed bone. Unable to identify the source of the emerald flames, Uther, Raphael, Ulric and Richard fight back to back as a sea of zombies threatens to drown them.