From the Private Annals of the Church of Pelor.
Transcribed by Beltak, Scribe to His Radiant Servant, Tremak the Plush.
The 1st day of Alturiak in the Year of the Sudden Journey.
As the sun rose on the festival of Midwinter yesterday, or Deadwinter as many of the farmers call it, all thoughts of the traditional planning for the year ahead fell by the wayside. I myself would not have believed the stories that would have been told if I had not seen it with my own eyes.
Grundar Stonesthrow raised the first alarm, his eyes keener in the morning gloom than most. He admitted later he thought he was dreaming and nearly didn’t raise the alarm at all! Three or four other guards joined him up on the lookout tower at the east gate and looked out into the gorge beyond.
Standing there, still and silent, not even a furlong from the other side of the moat, were five skeletal figures, just staring at the town.
Jason Henrikson joined the guards at the tower and ordered Grundar and Ellenier to lower their crossbows – almost automatically they had raised them. The skeletal figures were not moving and it seemed prudent to understand what they were doing before any bolts were fired.
By this time, word had gotten out somehow – probably through Skillet, although how he found out is anybody’s guess – and people were peering over the top of the palisades at the queer sight. I joined them myself, hastily dressed and shivering in the cold morning air.
True to the rumour, there they stood. Five figures stood impassively, staring at the walls of the town. Four of them were the height of a man, but the fifth stood a head and shoulder above the others. Their stark white bones stood out against their ragged and patchy armour, and each held a dull blade limply in their hand. I noticed my heart beating faster and fear gradually spreading through me. For a moment I began to panic, and could see the same look on other people’s faces. However, the moment passed, and I caught a grip of myself once more.
Some of the guard began preparing behind the gates – donning their armour and checking their weapons. Valino began to bark out orders, and a team of eight lined up behind him. The gates were opened swiftly and they marched out, stopping at the bridge as the gates were closed behind them. We continued to watch from our vantage point.
The skeletal figures remained motionless, unperturbed by the arrival of the guards. In fact, none of the skeletons had moved since they had been spotted. The guards slowly and carefully made their way across the bridge and into the snows towards the figures.
Everyone stood at the palisades seemed to be holding their breath, abhorred by the abominations before them and yet couldn’t take their eyes off the scene. As Valino’s group got closer suddenly the skeletons moved. Swiftly they turned, to the north, their bones and armour creaking and clanking with a most disturbing sound that echoed around. The movement was so swift and sudden that a couple of the guards in Valino’s group jumped and backed up quickly, falling over in the snow, and even a couple of people fell from the palisade.
Valino barked out an order to hold, and his team remained where they were, some still prostrate in the snow. Everyone watched as the skeletons marched unnervingly off to the north, their clicking bones the only remaining sound as thy disappeared into the mist.
Much time was spent in The Bronze Lion throughout the day by all the townsfolk, and much debate was had. It seems that we are not alone in this land with just goblins, but worse – the spirits of undeath may loom over this continent. Whether the undead were truly ‘alive’ and thinking we do not know, but where they came from or where they were headed is a mystery – Gilmorril tried to follow their tracks some hours later, but they had vanished in the snows.
Whatever their baleful intent they did not try to enter or attack the town, and for that we have Pelor and perhaps our new protective stones to thank. We need not assume this will always be the case, though, and plans for this Deadwinter, so appropriately named, will be on how we bolster our defences for the future.