This past week, my companions and I explored many paths to dealing with our grief at the loss of Reynauld. Dismas lost himself in drink, Busquent in prayer, Beringar retreated to the local clinic to treat the disease he’d been afflicted by in that fetid swamp. I threw myself wholeheartedly into revenge.
I chose my team more carefully this time. Duquesne and Bourassa in the rear, to provide the ranged firepower necessary to slay the wretched hag as fast as possible. Vesci I was forced to place uncomfortably close to the front, having run out of room in the back. Busquent was busy, and I would need healing. Gournai brought up the front, her role to retrieve those trapped in the pot before they were boiled alive. I feared I might not be able to kill the witch before she would kill more of my companions, having sacrificed so much to the ranged firepower necessary to get past her thrice-damned crockery. My worry would ultimately prove misplaced.
The Weald, as always, is full of bizarre monstrosities. Maggots feed on the many dead in this cemetery, one of many that dot the countryside, but not ordinary flyspawn. These massive beasts are nearly as big as Bourassa’s hound. I do not know what made them grow so large, but their unholy size has given them the ability to burrow through the cheap pine coffins so common in these graveyards, and devour the dead bones and all. I shudder to think what massive flies these creatures must eventually grow into.
The cultists remain omnipresent despite the death of their leader. I suspect the man we killed was not truly their leader, but only some kind of lieutenant. The number of foul infestations in this land staggers the mind. Where could they all have come from? Why would so much evil converge on this one place?
The evil is not just in the cruel men, savage beasts, and twisted abominations that lair here. It seems to permeate the air itself, cursing us all with misfortune. When I encountered this shambling war party, I expected little resistance. The fungal artillery’s ability to mark prey for their lumbering cousins was an irritant, but I was close to my target and still had packs full of supplies. Whatever wounds they inflicted were well within my ability to cure before my confrontation with my nemesis.
Gournai and Vesci took the brunt of the attacks. Vesci, fortunately, is a terribly skilled healer, in his own strange way. Unfortunately, he is not a very predictable healer.
Doubly unfortunately, the monsters seemed to know to target him first.
I missed the moment of death by an instant, too stunned by this twist of misfortune to react in time. Another companion taken from me, by what? By simple misfortune. No hubris on my part, pressing ahead when I should have turned back, nor unreadiness, confronted by a terrifying foe outside the reach of nigh-unto every weapon I had brought. No. Simple misfortune. It weighs on me more heavily than the guilt over Bernieres and Reynauld ever could. When it was my own mistakes that had led to my companions’ deaths, I could convince myself that I could prevent them in the future. Not now.