Carlisle Part 1
Raphael, Uther, Calais and Berenguier set off towards the coast saying their goodbyes to Ross and the rest of his group. After two days of riding through treacherous, muddy terrain the mudflats finally open up onto the Solway Firth. As Inquisitor Raphael approaches the coast he is met by great activity on the Firth. He quickly counts at least 6 ships in the stretch of water visible to the eye whilst Calais suggests that her senses perceive yet more close at hand. Calais quickly determines that the Sithe have blockaded the firth in an attempt to prevent possible reinforcements landing close to Hadrian’s Wall and the city of Carlisle.
Given the situation Calais urges the group to ride for Carlisle with all due haste. The group agrees, quickly finding the old Roman road, which cuts like an arrow across the open country towards Carlisle. After an uneventful first day of travel, the group are met by a lone rider who appears to have been awaiting their arrival. Suspecting an ambush, the group approach cautiously. Bowing before Uther a young man by the name of Richard Tarraby, none other than the younger brother of the recently deceased Simon Tarraby, introduces himself. Having mourned the loss of his brother, Tarraby is determined to prove himself worthy of the Knights Templar. He brings two fresh horses and his father’s sword, a darkened scimitar blade returned from the crusades, which he pledges should Uther accept him as squire. This Uther does without hesitation, accepting Richard’s pledge of service in a short, ritualistic service in which vows are spoken by Uther and repeated by Richard. A drop of holy water is placed on the squire’s blade whilst Uther kisses his crucifix.
The group continue their journey noting the eerie silence and emptiness of what Richard Tarraby assures them is usually a busy road. The occasional farmer passes quickly but is in no mood to chat. Two dead bodies are also found on the roadside, stripped of their possessions and their bodies left to rot.
Finally, 3 days after setting out from the coast, the group arrives in Carlisle. Even from a distance it is obvious that the gates are barred. Calais suggests that they set their camp beyond sight of the city walls. It is decided that Inquisitor Raphael will enter the city after nightfall to get a better sense of the situation.
Later that night, Calais and Raphael approach the Irish Gate under cover of darkness. Sticking to the shadows, Raphael begins to climb the wall but is quickly spotted by a guard. Thinking quickly as crossbows are levelled in his direction, Raphael uses his ring and jumps over the gate landing quietly on the stone road below.
Within the city and with the concerned orders of an Irish Sithe gate commander barking out behind him, the Inquisitor is able to make his way through some tightly packed alleys. Again, the roads are deserted although with his keen eyesight he spies a few dark figures on patrol atop the roofs of buildings backing onto the main thoroughfare. Clearly a curfew has been imposed.
Gaining an aerial advantage himself, Raphael is able to move stealthily from rooftop to rooftop, the cathedral spire visible in front of him. About halfway to his goal, he hears the unnerving sound of a crossbow bolt being loosed and throws himself to the ground just in time to avoid the speeding missile. He quickly sees his attacker and uses his own crossbow in riposte, hitting the target in the leg with an expertly aimed shot. After a scream of pain and much cursing a wayward second bolt is released from the Sithe attacker. Taking his time in response, Raphael waits for his opportunity before catching the figure in his back as he attempts to make good his escape from the rooftop. The figure falls from the roof slamming onto the ground in a heap with the Inquisitor following lithely, landing in an alley beside the crumpled figure. Searching the body, Raphael finds that the elf has broken its neck. In addition he finds a bag of silver coins as well as some notes written in a language not readable to the Inquisitor. Tucking both into his pouches, Raphael once again takes to the rooftops placing himself directly opposite the Cathedral. From his lofty perch, he is able to see over the wall surrounding the church and spies a brightly coloured, huge traveling wagon, which is situated in the gardens directly in front of the church steps. After waiting for about half an hour, the church door opens and Raphael sees a priest being man handled by a group of cloaked figures. Even from several hundred yards away, the Inquisitor can hear that the man is begging for his life. Simultaneously, the back door of the wagon opens and a gigantic figure steps out, naked to the waist and bald with tattoos mapping his body. Beside him stands a beautiful but deathly pale Elven woman dressed in pure white robes. The priest is dragged before the huge creature, his screams changing from panic to sobs of bitter resignation. Grabbed in only one hand and held before the ancient Scarack, the creature lowers the head of the priest and begins to bite huge chunks of flesh from the man’s face.
Horrified and disturbed by the agonized screams of the priest, Raphael turns from the scene and retreats to the city walls before arriving back at the rendezvous with Calais. Revolted by the memory of what he has seen, Raphael recounts the events witnessed. The Scian simply nods as though unsurprised and suggests that they return to their camp site.
Back at the camp, Inquisitor Raphael once again recounts his story, mentioning the coins and letter found as well as the grizzly discovery of the Scarack. Uther suggests that the money be donated to the Knights Templar, whilst Calais reads the letter, which has been written in Elven Gaelic, the language of the Sithe. It is essentially a note containing watch duties for 10 hands guarding in different locations in and around Carlisle. These include the 3 gates, cathedral, castle and several strategic aerial placements too.
The group reflect on their intelligence and Uther suggests that he must warn the Templars that the city has fallen whilst simultaneously petitioning for reinforcements. Raphael is reluctant to see the group split when outnumbered but Calais agrees with Uther and suggests the young Tarraby accompany his knight. The two depart with all due haste whilst Raphael, Calais and Berenguier remain with a clear need for further intelligence. Raphael offers to once again infiltrate the city walls but this time with the castle as his target. Calais acquiesces although this time she will accompany the Inquisitor. Berenguier will remain at camp to guard their horses and packs.