Chapter 1

Kaliska leaned back in her chair wearily when the man bust through the door, her lips pursed, one corner lifted in an expression of exasperation. On her own she would probably slip out the back, it was so seldom beneficial to get involved in some other’s fight. A fight meant possible injury, possible loss, she didn’t stay in any one place long enough for friends to be useful. In addition those that were bullied were uncommonly those in a social or financial position that would allow them to immediately reward her for any assistance granted. She twisted in her chair and eyed Landin, her lips still pursed slightly as she studied him. She had the sinking feeling he would want to “protect the innocent” and “uplift the downtrodden”.

Watching Landin attempt to navigate the civilian world while holding to his cult’s unrealistic ideals was like watching a drunk horse stumble though a prairie dog field. It was hilarious and she knew if she stuck around long enough she would see some great clash within Landin when he could no longer support his pie in the sky beliefs when surrounded by the dark she knew existed in this world. She wouldn’t admit the last bit, but in addition, the guy wasn’t half bad. *She was committed to sticking around in part because she wanted to see it when his ideals frayed, in part because he had been an interesting companion so far and she knew from long travels those often are few and far between… well at least committed for now, and as much as she ever committed to anything. So if he stuck around to do his whole Lord Light routine it looked like she might be stuck in the fray too. She could still try and avoid it though ”Uh, so … It kinda sounds like they have this one. Might as well head out and keep from being underfoot. Just mess up their process you know?” she said halfheartedly, motioning with a jerk of her head towards the back door of the inn.

Landin's indecision about whether it was better to interrupt Kali's plotting with the large woman, or just ignore the situation and hope it would go away was interrupted by a single sharp scream that froze the young cleric to his core.

He was frozen by fear for a time as shock and disbelief beat against him. His foggy mind perceived the man run from the storm blabbering something about scarecrows. Then Kaliska was at his side, speaking in a soft voice, but meaning of the words were lost to him as all his attention was spent trying in vain to pierce the veil of darkness that fell just outside of the inn.

The cleric was surprised to realize that his mace was in his hand, but the weight of the weapon and the cold iron against his skin served to ground him back to reality. The ornate sunburst etched into the top of the weapon caught his attention. "I'm the light of Pelor. I will not fear the dark" Landin recited to himself. With no conscious thought he started moving as instincts honed from years of brutal sparing in the Cathedral's yard took control of him. Of course the instincts were honed against other boys, not monsters in the dark. "No I will not fall into fear again." Landin forced himself to keep moving.

The scream he heard obviously came from a woman. someone was still out there. Without allowing himself to consider his actions he was at the door in a few short strides, vaulted the man's attempt at a barricade and barreled into the wind, rain, and dark.

Kaliska sighed, letting her shoulders droop as she watched Landin run out the door. She expected it, but she still felt what she deemed was an appropriate amount of annoyance. He would always wax philosophical about how he was watching her back and what a difficult task it was, but as soon as any *real* trouble presented he ran out there like a flailing looney, not even pausing to assess the situation. ”For the love of….” She trailed off not able to think of an appropriate deity that would have any effect on her budding headache.

She draped wearisome over the counter, facing the owner of the fine establishment, ”This place have a roof access hatch?” she asked, thinking if Lord Light hadn’t blindly run to the next county in his retard rush to find the source of the scream she would have view of him from the roof, and more importantly if there were truly an issue, the ability to cover with arrows.

Miranda looked at her. "There is a back door... But I am going to block it after you go. Marcus isn't known to be a liar or a prankster." The woman started moving back through the kitchen to show her to the back door.

Outside in the rain was chaos. One of the buildings down the street was on fire, and while a few of the villagers set about trying to get a bucket chain going to get the fires put out... But their efforts seemed to be blocked by shambling figures that attacked them. During a flash of lightning, they appeared to be nothing more then straw men, complete with clothes and a large brimmed hat. While none of them carried weapons, they were brutally efficient at their task of killing people. The closest one of the scarecrows appeared to be roughly 60 feet away from the inn, apparently fallowing Marcus who was trying to barricade the front door.

Kaliska grabbed her bow and quiver propped against her room’s door as she trailed behind the inn keeper. She waved her hand dismissively when the inn keeper addressed her, ”I don't give a flying squirrel what hillbilly Bob's rep in these ther parts is. You won’t block that door, cause I don’t want to be stuck outside. It’s raining, it has this spooky screaming thing going down, and I haven’t had my bread yet. Now you might think tough shit, that’s my issue, but the problem is, I am going to get my way if it means setting fire to this shack and letting it burn till there is a hole big enough in the side I can saunter back in.” She swept past the innkeeper and paused, her hand on the door looking back coldly. ”My suggestion is leaving this unlocked and just having Bertha sit on unwanteds or the elf bore them into leaving till me and my friend get back, just pay them in soup or something, hell you can even put it on my bill; but I’ll play whatever game you want and if I can’t get in when I damn well want to, I’ll just assume you accepted the terms of my second form of entry.” Kaliska pointedly shut the door behind her.

When she got out of the building she looked up at the exterior of the inn. The craftsmanship wasn’t bad, but a town this size couldn’t afford a master craftsman and the building sported gaps and notches which provided handholds and footholds along the windows and buttressing. Even with the rain slicked surfaces she felt confident in her ability to scale the building. She slung her bow over her chest, the bow string tight against her chest held her weapon snugly to her body as she began her ascent. Each repositioning of her foot or fingers came with a mumbled insult against Landin’s ancestry.

Shana sighs, stuffs the bread into her mouth, and gets up while chewing it hastily. By the time she reaches the door, she has swallowed her meal and is able to speak again. "Scarecrows? This sounds stupid as hell. But I'm not going to sit around and let them take apart the town. You'd better let me back in when I'm done. If nothing else, so I can pay for my meal." She heads outside after the other girl.

Nonplussed by the sudden activity, Jordan stood and stretched before walking quickly to the front door. "Here, let me help you... Marcus, was it?" He grabbed the other side of the large table and threw his back into moving it to bar the door. "This kind of thing happen often?"

This is madness. Even if his eyes were adjusted to the dark of the night outside, Landin suspected he would of found it difficult to see through the sheets of rain that fell all around him. As it was, even the evil red glow of the fire down the street only provided enough of a black light for Landin to perceive general shapes moving around down the street from him. He caught one figure with an unusual, shuffling gate moving towards him, but couldn'' quite make out if the figure was a "scarecrow" or just a wounded person seeking shelter. This won't do Landin mumbled to himself.

Landin closed his eyes to block out the chaos, focused his mind and energy, and chanted a few lines of words in an ancient and archaic language his voice rising in falling with an odd cadence. When he opened his eyes again the head of his mace shown as if with a reflected light, casting a circle of light in the dark of the night. This is what I am here to do, Landin thought to himself bring light to the dark .

The shambling creature was now close enough for the cleric to see that the figure was definitely not human. The jerky, uneven movements were sickening to see, and Landin regretted the fact that he left his shining armor and shield safely hidden under his bed in his room, but there was no helping that now. He planted his feet directly between the creature and the inn. He would wait for the monster to charge, wait for his opening and put the thing down fast. There were many people in the village that seemed to need help, too many ti help at once, and Landin had to start somewhere. "You first" he promised the slim figure down the street.

At seeing the man from the inn positioning himself, Shana shakes her head. What is that idiot doing? He's going to get himself killed by trying this alone! She quickly scans the area, looking for a place to hide that is close to the man. She then does her best to conceal herself, hoping to get the drop on whatever tries attacking him.

Ursa belches for attention, after finishing her meal. "Nobody block that door, or I'm making a new one to get back in." she explains, standing up to her full height and glides over to the exit as she yanks the door back open.

She looks outside.

One lightning flash. Two lightning flashes.

Oh crap, she realizes, this is some heavy duty hell the village has itself in, the kind you can't sit on a fat-ass during, waiting for it to blow over. "Bard, if you ain't fighting, get a move on and help the fire brigade out there while I settle this hash."

With that, she gives him and the other occupants and solid look, pointed teeth bared, to drive the point home that she doesn't want the door sealed and quickly lumbers out with a quick gait towards the straw men, her knuckles cracking.


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