"The village of Xin Kou should be over this hill if I am reading this map right," Percival said as he looked up from his map purchased from the port town. It had been two days of traveling on horseback through the hilly countryside of Shingou. The Knights of Ekilore had kept quiet for most of the journey, with only Percival and Roland ocassionally arguing Ethorian politics to pass the time. "Well, it could be Xia Kou. My Shingouese is not very good to be honest," Percival joked, of which only Roland could roll his eyes to. Yoshuro had pointed Percival to the village of Xin Kou, saying it was closest to the relative location of the Necromancer's lair. Also, the village had experienced a recent surge of raids by the creations of the Necromancer, having been the victims of all sorts of unspeakable creations. Percival had spurned his horse to a gallop taking a more dramatic lead. In a few short moments, the Knights found themselves on the afoermentioned hill, overlooking the objective of their journey.
Sadly, Xin Kou was not as homely as Percival had hoped for. From the vantage point, Percival could see the ruins of a once peaceful rural village. Black clouds of smoke rose from the burnt rubble of small homes and huts. The surrounding farms drained from any life. The dirt roads that Percival followed to the center of village were soaked with blood. Bodies littered the streets. Some were of once living people, many clearly lacking the noble birth that Percival and Roland were blessed with. Others were of monsters. Things that Percival believed only lived in fairy tales. Progress had been replaced by ruins.
"Gods, what has happened here?" Roland muttered under his breath, as he pulled into the village, even his horse giving some resistance to enter.
"Something tells me I do not want to find out," Percival said to his brother, barely hearing his brother's remarks. And something tells me we will find out anyway, he thought to himself.
As Percival dismounted his stirring horse, he saw a small crowd of villagers with pale faces covered in blood, sweat and tears. They were barely armed, carrying rusty tools and weapons. If one could even consider a pitchwork a weapon. In a panic, they swarmed the arriving Knights, screaming in Shingouese with the occasional broken attempt at Ethorian. Roland reached for his sword, preparing to pull it from his sheath and cut down the first one of them daring enough to make the first move. Percival stepped in, motioning his brother to stay his blade.
"No reason to cut down scared villagers. I can try to translate with what little of their tongue I can understand. Perhaps I can learn what happened." With a breath, Percival did his best attempt to speak the strange language, his Ethorian accent that blended the Bludrock and Elysian accents butchering much of the Shingouese. The villagers laughed and smiled possibly for the first time in days, which allowed Percival to feel at ease. After several moments of conversation, Percival turned back to his peers.
"Well, we are in the right village. This is...or was Xin Kou. They have been fending off the 'monsters' of the Nercomancer for days now. An 'outsider' that supposedly looks like Roland and myself has been helping them fend them off the best she could."
"Hmm...interesting. She could be useful. Ask them where she is." Roland demanded, his eyes scanning over the area of the town, making sure nothing dangerous was around. Percival rolled his eyes at his brother's command. Each and every time Roland opened his mouth was another reminder of why Percival left to join House Welm. Percival asked where the outsider was rather easily. Basic questions were easy. Understanding the quickened response in the roused villagers was hard.
"Last they remember, she was in the northern part of the village. That was the last place to be heavily attacked. I think," Percival said with a slight shrug of his shoulders.
"We should probably seek her out there. It's obvious this...thing needs to be destro-"
Various cries and screams echoed in the gentle winds of Xin Kou. The words were difficult to understand, probably even for native speakers of Shingou but it was easy to know why. "The villagers are telling me there is another attack coming at the north gate. Let's go!" Percival sprinted forth, drawing his mace to his right hand and equipping his shield on his left. Roland followed swiftly behind, unsheathing his sword and putting on his helmet over his head. The north gate was a short sprint through the ruined village, the damages becoming even more disheartening with each step. It was abundantly clear the northern quarter had experienced the worst of the attacks.
Percival took a stand in the center of the gate, swallowing his nervousness. He was never fond of fighting but was capable enough. It was the mystery of what he was bound to encounter that unnerved him. The large wave of beasts came forth. And Percival's mouth gaped open as the creatures approached. Dark, hideous, hellish creatures marched forward. Undead humans slid their decaying feet across the ground, with all kinds of rotting flesh pouring onto the ground. Large imposing ghouls with sharp fangs dashed on all fours at the head of the pack, while skeletons of former warriors with rusty blades brought up the rear. Strange abominations with body parts of various creatures and monsters blended into the army. Seemingly leading this pack of creatures was a fat monstrosity with bloody fluids spewing all over the ground as he dragged his giant body around. With a roar of the vile beast, the entire army charged forward.