Aleview

Aleview, 20 years later, take 11

Guildmembers attended a dinner party at the mountainpass lodge.

A mist descended on the party, blocking out the sunlight. Strange noises were heard outside. One of the party guests went to investigate, and the guild joined him. They found nothing, and the guildies headed back inside. A scream from Gustave Lillavivut Rucht rose up outside, and when they rushed out again, he was gone. Instead they found a headless horseman charging them down. The horseman, and the gibbering heads that followed him, attacked the party, trying to gain entrance to the lodge. They were held at bay by the gate, and the guildies escaped back inside. Investigating further, they discover that Eli Van Hassen, the new owner of the lodge, and his daughter Talitha both know something of what’s happening, but are less than forthcoming about it. They manage to piece together the following…

A few months back, a hydra crept out of the woods, and stole off with livestock from the area. It’s body was scarred, and a few of it’s heads were missing. It was weakened, but it was too much for the retainers here to fend off. They lost sheep, horses, and a few employees and neighbors. A man rode in from the Guildhall to help. He rode in on an old nag, jokingly dubbed Spitfire. He stayed at the inn, playing a silver stringed lute and singing ballads that inpsired him to take up adventuring. Talitha Van Hassen was smitten with the adventurer, followed him around, hanging on his every word. The adventurer felt some pull towards her as well. Eli watched his people fawn over this newcomer, and saw his daughter grow besotted with him. His heart burned with hatred that his only daughter was falling for this bragging fool.

For weeks this went on, the adventurer and some of the retainers seeking out the hydra’s lair. The men finally discovered the location, and vanished for a tense 2 days. Most of them returned, bloodied and bruised, but victorious, laying 3 great reptilian heads out for all to see. For weeks more, the adventurer stayed, getting to know people, walking with Talitha.

Eli Van Hassen could take no more, yet neither could he simply order the man banished or slain. His employees and retainers would just as soon kill him as this hero. He decided he must turn the people against the adventurer to drive him out. Talitha wept at this, but she obeyed her father in all things, and agreed to his demands. The retainers set upon the adventurer, dragging him from his horse. He grabbed a rusty sickle from the fields and defended himself, slaying several before they overwhelmed him. He was dragged to a block of wood, and there, at her father’s behest, Talitha told the people horrid lies, claiming that she’d been taken advantage of and ravished by the man.
Eli sent his guards forward once they crowd was enraged, and the adventurer screamed his innocence, begging Talitha to recant. He was forced down onto the wooden block, and with a dull thud, the axe severed his head from his neck, the hero dead.

His body was dumped in a shallow grave, the people bitter and betrayed. One week passed, and a storm brewed. There was no rain or lightning, but a thick fog. A sudden, unending thunder deep within the fog resolved itself into the beating of a thousand hooves. The noise was deafening, but no horses were seen in the moving mist.

The following dawn, the men found their crops and gardens trampled under uncountable hoofprints.

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Realizing this, the majority of the party took action, drying to drag Eli out to face the horseman. Some of the party abstained from this action, viewing it as cruel and dark. Talitha screamed and cried for her Daddy. She threw fist and nail at the men trying to drag her father outside, but they simply shrugged her off, telling her it was for the best. The ground and buildings and all that was within, seemed to act to protect Eli. Chairs moved into the guildies’ path, windows cracked and broke letting insects in, floorboards broke under their weight. The horseman appeared outside, sensing that Eli’s fate was drawing close. The horse and rider took turns trying to destroy the protective wards that Eli had hidden underneath the grapevines of the long, low wall surrounding the lodge. The guildies tried to reinforce the wall, while changing tactics, and attempting to convince Eli to volunteer himself to the horseman. They battled against swirling masses of heads that rolled and flew, biting and grabbing on. Eli was convinced that he could face the horseman, but only if they took Talitha away to protect her. As she was drug outside the back door, Eli went out the front to face his enemy. He had no remorse or shame about his acts, viewing it as the right thing to do. The horseman took a swipe at Eli’s neck, as Eli knelt on the grass. The blade passed through harmlessly.

The horseman backed away, and wandered off down the road, toward his shallow grave. Eli and Talitha followed after him. As the horseman neared the grave, he began to fade from view, and vanished entirely as he reached it. Some of the party members dug up the grave, as to rebury him properly. Talitha wept the entire time, yet Eli stood, unemotional.

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