Cynric’s mind races as he processes the closing events of the siege at Watchgap Fort.
= = ===
The dwarf stands in his red armor wearing the wooden mask, arrogantly making meaningless demands. How can anyone who leads little snotlings into battle be trusted? …especially when making such ridiculous claims?
The blue skinned mage casts a spell on the dwarf and peace falls over Cynric as he takes aim with a dagger. Shortly, he closes with the figure and wrestles him to the ground, just outside the gate. Insects fly out of the mask in an attempt to distract Cynric, but he ignores it. Such a waste, with no blood being drawn in the attack.
Though certain he could take the dwarf in simple combat, Cynric fears the dwarf will use the mask to escape, as the previous owner had. He calls out to the mages, “Kill him, do not worry about me!” And though his attempts to further injure the dwarf are futile, Cynric holds him so the casters can finish the job. Once the dwarf is dead, Cynric cuts the wooden mask off the dwarf’s face and reenters the fort.
Now things should revert to normal, with the mask out of the battle.
The goblins come and let them. Their blood will run as a river of tribute to Tiw.
Cynric closes the front gate and opens the door of the first building he sees, hoping to find a suitable hiding place for the wooden mask. He smiles as he notices it is the keep’s armory. Surely, Tiw will guard the mask as this grand battle comes to a close. He takes aim and tosses the mask behind a set of shields.
With the mask hidden, Cynric rushes to the wall. He makes sure to choose the side opposite the blue-skinned mage. The mage’s potency in dealing death would rob Cynric of many chances at spilling blood, himself.
The goblins approach and Cynric takes aim with a bow. He does little more than waste arrows as the horde advances. The knights, however, appear to have increased their aptitude with the bow as they drop great numbers of the snotlings before they even reach the wall. Cynric’s heart drops at the sight of this. The siege could be defeated without a single blow from his flail.
Finally, snotlings scale the earthen mounds and the wall. Cynric begins to fall into the peace of hand-to-hand battle when a great death roar fills the air. In response, the snotlings show true fear in their eyes. Then, as one, they bolt for the hills; heedless of the foes around them. And, again, Cynric is robbed of a chance for peace and to make further sacrifices to Tiw. Is this place cursed?? How could an opportunity so ripe for battle evade him twice? And, this time, the mask could not have caused this.
As if in answer to his question, the bodies of the fallen snotlings begin to rise around him…around all of them. A few of the risen goblins run past Cynric and without thought, he drops them all. But shock sets in as Cynric tries to cope with this new development on the battlefield. Always has he found his place in battle, now he is unable to fit this in to what he has seen before. At a loss, he drops to a knee and prays to Tiw.
“Battle Father, WHAT IS THIS? What kind of abomination allows the defeated to rise and fight again? I can think of nothing that violates your sacred reign more than this.”
As an answer, Tiw allows him to understand that the risen rush toward the tower of the keep. Whatever it is that has allowed this to happen must be in the tower. And that is where Cynric belongs. Knowing not what part the mask plays in this, Cynric no longer cares. He must defeat whatever is allowing the dead to rise.
As the survivors of the siege make ready to assault the tower, the risen outside the walls speak as one and ask for safe passage out of the keep. Such a sign of weakness gives Cynric cause to believe the end of the battle near. If the enemy asks for free passage, they must be near the breaking point. Why else ask for mercy?
Once he has pushed through the ranks of the risen, the source of power should be easy to bring down. Cynric begins to pray in preparation.