Betrayed in Desperation
Days, weeks and months passed as BaRuhk and Sukra searched for their daughter. They traveled across the land searching for her body and soul to no avail. They came across a few villages. Most of them were empty. The houses were ransacked and empty of people or bodies. Each abandoned town they came to had that same moldy feeling of magic in the air. The magic of Necromancy.
They did find a couple of villages that had managed to escape whatever nightmare was spreading through the land for now. They were solitary places with villagers that were wary of strangers and unwilling to provide shelter. One such village was Deerpost. Sukra and BaRuhk came walking down the main road of the village. It was muddy and unkempt, they hadn’t packed down the streets in some time by the looks of it. Somber children watched the approaching couple from shadowed doorways. Those adults who were in the street, huddled close to each other and whispered about the strange pair.
They asked for directions to the nearest inn and where directed with a wordless finger pointed in towards a dilapidated building across the street. They headed there but were already contemplating moving on. These people were scared and suspicious. They were just as likely to drive them out as reluctantly accept them into their shelter for the night.
They entered the broken down Inn out of courtesy to those who had pointed them in this direction. Inside was as bad as outside. The tables and chairs were broken in various places. A tired looking bartender wiped the counter slowly. He only looked up when BaRuhk cleared his throat. With a baleful look, the bartender told them there was no room for them. The inn looked abandoned besides the bartender but the couple left, not wanting to rile up the citizenry to violence.
They made their way back through the darkness of the building towards the street. When they exited the inn they saw a ring of the villagers around the entrance where they exited. They were not allowed to pass. An older woman stepped forward and croaked her greetings at them. She also explained why they were being detained. This village had not escaped the clutches of the necromancer terrorizing the countryside.
The necromancer had come into the town. No one had seen his face but they had heard his words and clung to them as the horde of zombies that followed the necromancer spread out across town. Each skeleton grabbed a child and held them hostage. The necromancer spoke. He promised the villagers that they would not be harmed if they brought any visitors to him. At first the villagers were reluctant but with their children being held they agreed. Every time people walked through the small town, they were knocked out and left at the designated spot for collection by the Necromancer.
They never saw him again, only glimpsed his hordes of undead as they carried the unsuspecting victim off into the night. They were reluctant to take the couple but had no choice. BaRuhk and Sukra tried to tell them that they were on a mission to put an end to the madness but they were not listening. The crowd surged forward and began attacking the couple. They sometimes had to kill the strangers they encountered but the necromancer didn’t care if they were already dead or alive. He just wanted bodies.
Sukra and BaRuhk were reluctant to fight these people that had been brought to their breaking point by the necromancer. They tried getting away first and when it became obvious that they would not be let go without a fight, they gathered their magic and began attacking back. None of the villagers had magic of their own and so were repelled. They were backing out of the village, keeping the people at bay with magic, when BaRuhk was attacked from behind.
A young boy had come out of his darkened home and stabbed BaRuhk in the back. He didn’t know what he was doing but by luck was able to strike at a vital part of BaRuhk’s body. He slumped to the ground and Sukra, seeing her dying husband, went wild with nature’s rage. Their people valued life but knew that death was also a natural part of nature. She felt sorry for the people of this town but would not allow them to keep taking people for the evil necromancer. Using magic, she cut slashes into the villagers. Soon the adults were all lying on the ground in various states of injury.
Most were still alive but unable to walk, some had died when they tried to attack again after seeing the man’s body fall. Sukra had rendered them unable to follow or take her and her husband. Using more magic she floated BaRuhk out of the village and used her nature magic to erase their tracks, hiding them in the dense foliage of forest. She had expended a lot of her magic in the fight and getting away.
Deep in the forest, in a small open clearing, Sukra laid BaRuhk down on the soft ground. He was dying, blood seeping from his mouth and wound. He tried to tell her to move on without him but could not form the words. He brushed her face with his hand and could move no more. Sukra was devastated. First her daughter, now her husband. She could not take more loss. In desperation she implored Kishar for help.
At first, nothing happened. Her husband continued to die in the strange forest. Sukra had almost resigned herself to his death and her endless wandering when the ground beneath BaRuhk shifted. From the dirt emerged vines that wrapped around his body. They enclosed him in their grip and before long his body was fully encased in vines, wood and leaves. The body lay on the ground unmoving for an hour.
Sukra laid next to the vine suit and cried at her loss. BaRuhk came to consciousness inside the darkness of the vines and panicked. He thrashed, trying to break free of the restrictions but could not. Sukra felt the jerking of the vine encased body and held it close, speaking softly with encouraging, soothing words to calm BaRuhk down. When he was calm, he noticed that he could feel through the suit. He could move and perceive the world around him, though he was encased in vine.
Sukra explained her plea to Kishar and sent her thanks to the goddess for her mercy in keeping her husband alive long enough to find their daughter and lay her to rest. BaRuhk spent some time learning how to move in the suit and how to perceive the outside world through his new eyes. When he was more comfortable in his new, temporary body, they kept moving. Avoiding the broken village that had betrayed them they headed towards where they had pointed as their delivery spot for bodies. They hoped to catch the horde of undead and follow it back to the necromancer’s lair.
It was slow going at first. BaRuhk was able to take halting steps at first. It was hard to balance but as they kept moving he got better at maneuvering his new body. Although his mortal body was dead inside the suit of vines, his soul was tied to the suit and he instinctively knew it would last him just long enough to free their daughter. He knew they needed help. Sukra and him could not do this on their own. He began planning to recruit a group to help them as they traveled towards the site of delivery for the necromancer.