The Devil's Burden

The Village of the Damned Part 2

The brave Wanderers set forth into the dense forest around the village with the local girl, Marie, as their guide. She led them on a trail towards the ancient stone circle. It was hard going, with muddy ground under foot, tangled branches tearing at their clothes and only the occasional glimpse of moonlight to show them the way. They went with swords and pistols drawn, ready to anticipate trouble in an instant. Marie took them so far but then would go no further. She was too afraid. She pointed them in the right direction for the last few miles and then fled back to the safety of the village. The Wanderers pushed on, with the Stone Circle close now, being as careful to keep quiet and hidden as they could. And then they saw it – atop a small hill that rose from the forest was the stone circle. Misshapen figures could be seen moving around on the hill. And there, not far in front of them was another of the goatmen, as yet unaware of their presence. A plan was hatched. Jacob and Laguna crept forward to take the monster by stealth. Jacob let loose his nzappa zap but the throwing axe bounced harmlessly off the creature’s thick hide. Laguna charged, sword drawn but he could not fell the beast either. And so it was that Jean let fire with both barrels of his pistol, blasting the monster to pieces but giving away their position in the process.
The figures on the hill quickly disappeared and fearing an ambush the Wanderers crept forward through the forest again, making it to the hill. They clambered up the slope and took up defensive positions among the stones, waiting for the inevitable attack. They had but a moment to take in their surroundings but they did all notice the flat sacrificial stone in the centre of the clearing stained a dark rusty red . . .
Jean crept back down the hillside for a better position but it was at that moment that the attack came. A wall of fire sprang up between Jean and the other two. He was separated. Three of the terrible goatmen charged from the forest and the Wanderers were forced into action. The leader of the goatmen confronted Jean. He was not misshapen like the others but taller and more powerfully built and he wielded an evil looking scimitar inscribe with runes. His eyes blazed with a terrible red infernal glow and Jean felt an overwhelming fear arise inside him. He fought back the urge to flee, raised his pistol and fired. His shot did nothing to stop the charge of the oncoming beast.
Meanwhile both Jacob and Laguna battled the other beastmen. Jacob was gored badly by the beast and fell to the ground clutching his side, bleeding badly. The beast then charged to attack Jean. Laguna fared better, and inspired by his righteous rage slew the other goatman with a scream of retribution.
That left Jean fighting a desperate defensive action against the other two and he was quickly wounded as a claw ripped open his thigh. Laguna charged in and the two of them began to turn the tide of the battle. Jean, too, was possessed with the spirit of rage and screamed in fury as he pressed his assault, rapier flashing like lightning. Laguna smote down the leader with a mighty blow, nearly splitting the creature in half and then Jean felled the remaining monster with a thrust of his rapier through the creature’s heart. It collapsed to the ground and the Wanderers could rest and bind their wounds and contemplate how near to death they had come. But they had prevailed! They had rid the village of its enslavers and now the place was acursed no more. They explored the hill and found a small network of caves beneath that the goatmen used as their lair.┬áInside was the remains of rotting bodies and a strange clay-lined pit in the central chamber. The Wanderers could only wander about what nefarious use it could have been put to.
The Wanderers returned to the village, wounded and bleeding but victorious. The villagers were amazed and thankful that their nightmare was over. The Wanderers were able to rest up that night and in the course of their talk discovered more about the ‘men’ who had come to the village and cursed it so. The Sorcerer who disguised himself as a priest was a big bearded Russian fellow who terrified the villagers with but a single glance. It was he who had created the goatmen and enslaved the villagers. His companion was a smaller, bald man that Laguna recognized as Helyetic, the treacherous monk. One of the youngsters had overheard their conversation about travelling to a place called ‘the City of Eagles’ in Africa. The Wanderers must decide again – to set sail for Africa straight away or travel to Paris to consult a contact of Jean’s that may have more vital information that could help in their upcoming adventures . . .

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