The Whisperer in Darkness
Chapter One Epilogue
In the days following the triumphant return from Branock’s Gorge, the adventurers were subject to much hero worship and praise. Many thanked them for their sterling service to a place they had no affiliation with and one member even got to spend significant “alone time” with Jamarak Cockslicer.
Several of Cain Dunwithy’s supporters remained within the village and attempted to stir up trouble. Fortunately, their actions amounted to little more than drunken shouting and, on one night, pelting most of the party with rotten fruit. After having a particularly over-ripened tomato explode over his face, Grimlock chased one of the assailants into the darkness. When next seen, the man was missing several fingers. He didn’t speak another ill word about the adventurers for the rest of his days.
Although treated well by most people in the village, the group had nevertheless caused the deaths of several practically innocent farmers, and so did not stay in the village for long.
- Poobeyr Meatshield soon discovered that his trusted Raylack confidant, Chomsky, had vanished along with his horse. The bearded warrior departed the village alone the day after the battle (after a huge free meal in the Slaughtered Lamb, of course) to search for the missing pair, and did not return.
- Lumen Hadron joined up with the two surviving mercenaries of the Iron Circle, making a pact with them to find a way to reunite with the group’s lost captain by any means necessary. After generously donating their money to the widows of two deceased Iron Circle members, they departed Raylack a few hours after Poobeyr.
- Prof. Wistark Shizbitts was taken to the doctor’s clinic and emerged fully recovered two days later. After celebrating with the villagers for a few nights and spending one day with Grimlock and Jamarak hunting void beasts on Raylack’s outskirts, the wizard began a leisurely journey back to his hometown, Nijama, taking with him the Necronomicon, the Grimorium Verum and his odd, purple dragon.
- Grimlock Skullfucker spent several days in Raylack with Cockslicer, hunting and killing stray Fini monsters during the day and getting his cock repeatedly sliced during the night. When Jamarak left the village eight days after the battle to return to Lord Kedeva, Grimlock went out “to hunt deer” and was not seen there again.
- Gravilla Bloodrock stayed with her father and helped rebuild his house. Unfortunately, being a Raylack local, she was not forgiven for her part in the fight against Cain Dunwithy’s mob. Gravilla grew sick of such disapproval and returned to the ancient city of Narvik in order to report to her Arcelor superiors.
Big Sol rebuilt his armoury and continued to trade within the village, his business expanding and becoming more lucrative as many Raylack residents now had an increased interest in armament. He was even able to get hold of some GlassCrete thanks to the increase in income.
Several villagers called for the execution of Cain Dunwithy in disgust of his selfish actions, but Sheriff Brandis viewed this as a perversion of justice. More often than not a Reeve is charged with dealing with any problematic folk he may come up against, but Brandis considered Cain a special case and lobbied for Lord Kedeva to arrange for his extradition. Dunwithy was sent to a large prison well away from Raylack where, though incarcerated, his life was at least not under constant threat. Brandis was not sorry to see the back of him.
Regular church activities quickly resumed as a young member of the former congregation became Raylack’s vicar. He immediately had his work cut out for him with a massive funeral ceremony for the victims lost to monsters and Fini spawn, including: Matthew, Isabella and Thomas Toulson (whose farmhouse was left abandoned on the village outskirts), Daniel and Keyleth Glick and those killed in the recent battles.
Father Malley was laid to rest in the church graveyard alongside his wife, and the new vicar gave a lengthy sermon in which he forgave the fallen priest for his sins.
Having already been partially cremated, Albert Dunwithy’s corpse was incinerated properly. His ashes were spread across the countryside that he had once fought to liberate and protect, and his beloved Farmers Guild was re-established – this time as a democratic union to be led by no less than three elected officials.
Their first act was to replace the large church window broken by Lumen Hadron with a new one that depicted a sunny Branock’s Gorge, green and covered in flowers. This was not merely a poetic illustration – flowers had indeed grown mysteriously all over the valley after the closing of the Fini.
Having raised far more money than was necessary to fix the window, they also placed a grand memorial in the centre of Raylack that displayed the names of all who had fought to defend the village in the battles at the Gorge. After this the new organisation struggled to find funds. The restrictions on the old guild carried over to the new, and they could not expect to be supported by donations forever. With so many of Raylack’s farmers dead, the next year’s harvest was a very poor one.
Draevek Norn, disillusioned by Cain’s actions leading to the deaths of innocent people, was plagued with nightmares and eventually left the village, slipping away unnoticed in the dead of night. This left the Slaughtered Lamb dishearteningly abandoned for several months. Already hit hard by the bad farming year, the villagers took this further loss very badly – some even felt that Raylack would never be prosperous again.
Elmtrude Brandis carried on in the position of village reeve, although he suffered melancholy over the death of Berek Moor and the disappearance of Norn. He slowly became a sullen and introverted individual with an increasingly short fuse. Neighbours attested to this, as the ferocity of the shouting matches between him and his wife steadily increased. His daughter, who was looked upon with unkind eyes in the village, left shortly after turning fifteen.
A number of town meetings were held in an attempt to decide what to do with the catacombs below the old Curwen farm. The votes were split between covering it up and forgetting about it or exploring it and possibly converting it into an underground fortress of sorts. The decision was eventually made when three young boys went exploring in its dark depths and never returned. A search party was put together, but came up with nothing.
The vicar was summoned to say a short prayer for the boys and for Bombur Deer, who had still not returned to his home after being swept underground by the river there, and then the entrance passage was filled with concrete and the remaining buildings on the plot demolished. Seeds were planted in the hope that trees would grow on the site and eventually spread to connect with the western forest.
Zud, the hunched grounds keeper of Raylack Church, quit his job after all that he witnessed. Unemployed and running out of money, he started pulling pints in the Slaughtered Lamb to use up its remaining booze. Much to everyone’s surprise, the unattractive gentleman made a fantastic barkeep and a savvy businessman, and under his leadership Zud’s Suds was a runaway success.
After attending the funeral of his two children, Sheldon Glick moved out of the village with his wife to escape its bad memories.
Chomsky was never seen in Raylack again.