a night to remember Who: Demetir Jorunn. NPCs: Amila, Marna, eleven human homesteaders. Where: Western shore of Lake Calenhad, far northwestern edge of the Redcliffe arling. When: 30 Molioris, 9:45. Summary: Johann's daughter tries to keep a group of desperate settlers and farmers together as the cabin in which they shelter is besieged by Darkspawn, and a very unlikely young man comes to their "rescue." Rating: Swearing, violence. Note: Reposted as Demetir's solo intro, due to the sad loss of old!Templar from the game. In Progress.
Last night, one of them shot Jeralt Cooper in the shoulder through a gap in the damn shutters. That was how they’d found out about the archers, and Amila was still mad as a viper that she’d let a stupid thing like that happen. The monsters must have seen him moving in the firelight and taken a literal shot in the dark. Immediately after it happened she’d boarded up the gap and banned the fire after sunset, but none of that helped Jeralt now. The wound had seemed better than it could have been, the arrow’d gone clean through the muscle so to dress it she just snapped the shaft and pulled the head out the other side, but poor Jeralt only got paler and paler even though they’d bandaged him up pretty good. No one wanted to say it, but it’d gotten so quiet in the day since that she knew everyone was thinking it. Poison. Maybe the blood-poison, if they were unlucky. His wife sat with him as the sun threatened to set outside, her face pale and hard, hands entwined with his as Jeralt sweated and moaned in an increasingly fitful sleep. Sometimes when Amila looked up she saw Dina’s lips moving without any sound coming out and knew that the woman was praying to her Andraste. Well Andraste help them all if she could, but Mila wouldn’t hold her breath.
The foothills of the Frostbacks bred contradictory people, at once superstitious and pragmatic, made both by a hardscrabble life in the shadowy isolation of the valleys. Of the three other families crammed into the relative safety of the cabin with Amila and her gran, most of them loved their Maker with a fervor the young Dwarf wasn’t equipped to understand. All of them prayed for Jeralt’s soul, and every single one of them, down to the man’s own son, would slit his throat as an act of mercy if that was what it came to. Practical. Amila grew up with these people, and they’d rubbed off on her. She restrung her crossbow in the dark, listening to the rustle and murmur of their unease.
The Blight might have ended fourteen years ago, a time well before Amila could even remember, but nobody who lived out here ever forgot the Darkspawn. They turned up sometimes out of the mountains, man-sized locusts with a predator’s cunning. You learned to fight them, or to hide from them until they moved on, or someone stopped by next week and found the inside of your home painted with your blood. Worse, maybe nobody could find your daughter’s body. Worst of all… maybe when they found you, you were still moving. The danger turned the settlers out here fiercely protective, a tight-knit community despite the hours or days it took to simply check in on your next-door neighbor. In the country people don’t build walls to survive, they build relationships. It was why they’d come creeping out of the forest to Johann Bronson’s cabin when it became obvious how bad things were getting. Suddenly there were more Darkspawn in these hills than people, and Johann had her traps, and her axes, and a house built like a fortress. They couldn’t gamble on the small supply outposts making it through this any better than they would at Bronson’s, and there was no hope of getting all the way to Redcliffe safely without stealth and speed that none of them possessed.
Despite better than average odds in the cabin, they couldn’t hold out here forever. Eventually they would run out of supplies or be overwhelmed, which is why Johann herself left them all here, taking her little boat out onto lake Calenhad. She’d promised them all she would get to Redcliffe and return with help, leaving her land a literal minefield of traps and her daughter in charge of defense in her stead. Just keep the monsters at bay for a week, that was crucial. One week, maybe less, and she could be back with soldiers, or at least a bigger bloody boat, but the longer her pa was gone the more Amila feared they’d never see the end of that week. There seemed to be more of the damn things in the woods every day; the archers, for example, were a frustrating new development.
Tired of brooding and satisfied with her weapon’s repairs, Amila stood up and elbowed the man sitting beside her in the darkened room. Thomas eyed the fourteen-year-old Dwarf askance, presumably because her standing elbow-height was equivalent to the gangly young human’s sitting head-height, but followed her to his feet with an affirmative grunt. Time to go. The pair snaked their way through the kitchen, stepping delicately around the pair of young children sleeping in a tangle of blankets on the floor, and passed into a narrow hallway. He lifted the ladder into place below an open hatch in the ceiling. She scaled it effortlessly. He followed.
The attic crawlspace had four small, narrow windows for ventilation, which made it an ideal defensible position for archers. It also had a door out onto the roof itself, a little narrow thing that Amila’s pa could only just squeeze through never mind a grown human like Thomas; if anyone here needed to go out there that way it would have to be the young Dwarf. The good news was most of the Darkspawn would be too damn big to get in that way either, save the runty ones with the greedy black eyes, but that hadn’t stopped Amila from barricading the door as best she could. Hannah Moyles, a human woman in her early thirties (and mother of the two young children on the kitchen floor), looked up and nodded at the pair wearily as they emerged into the crawlspace. “They’re gathering out there,” she whispered, trying to keep the strain out of her voice. Then she threw her bow over an arm and slipped past them at the awkward, crouching shuffle the space demanded of anyone much taller than four feet, disappearing down the ladder without another word now that her watch was over. Amila and Thomas took over where she’d left off, creeping up to the closest window on either side of the roof, slowly sliding back the shutters and peering out at the forest and the garden respectively. The human carefully knocked an arrow to his bow, taking a knee and settling into position. Amila cocked her crossbow, squinting into the trees.
Movement, already. Shit. Hannah wasn’t kidding, they were active out there. Amila already had a bad feeling about tonight. There were more of them than ever, and they were pressing harder, closer. Downstairs, she knew, the two other adult men in their pathetic little defense party stood watch by the front door, weapons in hand… and their wives weren’t entirely defenseless either. The back opened to the lake, and the garden. They’d had less trouble from that direction, but they couldn’t count on not being flanked so the back was barricaded too. A lot of her mother’s traps had been triggered already, rendering them useless until someone hauled the bodies away and reset them, and Amila didn’t relish the thought of trying. The Darkspawn had been wary since the first night they attacked in any force, a night that had left a half-dozen corpses leaking their blood-poison into the tall grass, but soon they would grow bolder again. They weren’t dumb, not really. Darkspawn were smart like animals, like a pack of wolves. Sooner or later they’d figure out that the traps weren’t the threat they’d been before, and they would come. It could easily be tonight. She settled in to an uncomfortable wait.
Night had almost fallen entirely when Amila caught another hint of movement in the trees, dark on dark. She focused carefully, aiming, stretching her foot backward to nudge Thomas to alertness- and flinched, sucking breath through her teeth as his bow twanged behind her. He notched another arrow immediately and fired again, cursing under his breath. As much as Amila wanted to see what was happening back there, she didn’t dare take her eyes from what was emerging out of the shadows before her. First just one of the tall ones, the human-shaped ones. She couldn’t see it clearly, but it looked like it even wore a helmet in addition to its filth-splattered armor. It was making that noise, that horrible throaty humming noise like a whole hive of angry bees, and as it raised its arms, a massive, gore-coated sword hefted in just one hand, the sound it made redoubled. Thomas’ bow, and another cuss, fired off behind her at the same time as she squeezed the trigger on her crossbow; at the same time as more shadowy figures bubbled like oil out of the trees behind the first Darkspawn, their horrible “voices” joining its song. Her shot went high. Amila scrambled to shove another bolt into her weapon, hollering downstairs with forcefulness hard to imagine from the lungs of a girl so tiny until you actually heard it, “Sonuvabitch! Get ready for company, we just made a whole lotta new friends!”
In the field below, the Darkspawn bellowed back. As the helmeted one roared at the newly risen moon, what must have been nearly ten more shadowed monstrosities came howling out of the woods toward the cabin with blood glittering dark on their blades. Amila fired into them again, and in her surge of panic had a terrible thought; Dina better pray harder, because they were going to need a miracle from that absent god of hers if they were going to make it through another night.
Headcount Inside the house - 2 female dwarves, one elderly, one teenaged. 11 humans: 4 adult men (one incapacitated), 3 adult women, 2 teenaged/preteen girls, 1 eight-year-old girl, 1 five-year-old boy. Front field - 1 Hurlock Alpha, 4 Hurlocks, 1 Genlock rogue, 2 Genlock archers. Back garden - 2 Genlock rogues.