Ludo quickly grabbed his bow and quiver and scaled the perimeter wall and stood on the ramparts searching and listening for anything that might indicate who or what had made the scream. The inky blackness soaked up the light from the torches that had been placed at regular intervals along the wall and he couldn’t see anything in the darkness. “Feldard, Stephan I think the scream came from over yonder, he pointed. He grabbed a torch and slung himself over the wall to investigate.”
The mage had been in a good mood as he fell asleep. The food and wine coursed through his tired limbs and he felt more satisfied than he had for weeks. He hadn’t appreciated the stress of trying to sleep in a haunted land bereft of peace.
At first he thought it was a dream, but even in his fevered imagination could not have invented such a soul wrenching sound. He was out of bed scarce slower than the rogue. He pulled on his trusty backpack and without word followed Ludo into the dark.
Feldard was surprised how quickly he came alert out of his sleep after his long, long day but then bloodcurdling screams in the middle of the night tend to do that. The dwarf slung his crossbow over his shoulder and grabbed up his axe, forgoing his armor due to the urgency of the scream. He watched as the rogue climbed the wall, pointed off into the darkness and disappeared over the walls edge. “Idiot,” he grumbled and hurried his way to the city wall entrance and bullied his way out past the guards there.
Outside the wall, he searched the darkness for sign of the rogue and source of the scream. He saw a trail of slime, dotted here and there with blood, that led up over the wall.
Stephan felt almost as grumpy as Feldard’s normal state. Waking to such high-pitched screams left the supper and drink–he’d been so surprised to find delectable– quaking in his gut.
“Da,” he muttered in way of agreeing with Feldard’s assessment of Ludo’s maverick point guard action. Stephan too was up fast with only sword and bow. He followed Feldard out the village wall and to the edge of darkness beyond.
“What do your eyes see, dwarf? Even I can see Ludo’s torch. Would that I had some flaming arrows to launch into the darkness. Might be that we could pull the curtain back on this screaming.”
Soon he saw that Ludo had extinguished or otherwise hid his torch. He knew that the rogue must be in his stealthiest mode. No doubt the crafty Ludo would soon appear behind the unaware dwarf and human.
Stephan walked carefully to the right being as quiet as possible. This afforded a better view of the gnarly, grey woods. But the thick air hindered sight and provided a discomforting damp blanket.
“Jasiteq, come now,” commanded Hasan. “Leave some to guard your gate, but you and your best must come with us now. What do you know of that sound. We heard it once before. Last night.” Hasan moved the Hutakaa out of the gate quickly and scanned the dark night with eyes and ears.
The screams stopped. It was quiet now.
“It is the Kartoeba,” said the Hutaakan. “We must be careful now. The scream will attract the undead.”
Maruc started out of his meditations. Swiftly he rose to his feet, there was little time to get back into his armour but screams indicated assault. The others were well out of the room before he was ready, he followed as he could trying to keep up.
The priest’s shield flopped awkwardly on his back as he dragged at the strap to tighten it, Stephan’s silhouette traced across the wall ahead hae he caught up with him. “What’s the situation?” he whispered.
“The screaming started within the village walls then moved to yonder woods.” The forrester replied quietly. “Ludo is ahead and we await his signal. Follow silently, if you can.”
The rogue scanned his surroundings. Something had dragged one or more Hutaakans from within the village, then disappeared back into the night. His ears heard a branch crack in the distance, then another. Dark shapes were moving in the distance, and they were headed his way.