Palace Guard

Palace Guard: Day 20

We must now be completely on our guard

By the time we actually left the cavern, the sun had just started to set.

“It is now His time of day,” Trevor started, “We must now be completely on our guard.”

We saddled our horses and we made for our return home, unsure of what to expect. We again stopped only when necessary to give our mounts food and rest. The night passed without incident and we realized that we would be back at the gatehouse by dawn.

As we neared the keep, we were met with a surprise: The entire city was covered with a thick fog. So thick was the fog that we could barely see each other, being only a few paces away from one another. We dismounted and cautiously made our way, as best we could toward the main gate. We were uncertain whether we would find our fellow guardsmen patrolling the city, or if we would be the only survivors.

Along our way, we each described seeing a shrouded figure wandering through the fog. We could not determine if the figure was an actual person, or some sort of phantom that was the result of our mind playing tricks. But we all agreed that the figure was completely covered with a Medieval cloak. It was extremely unnerving.

Upon approaching the gate, we noticed that it was still secure, though the fog prevented us from seeing if any sentry was in the watch tower.

“I suppose we should knock,” Josephus remarked.

“Anyone in the tower?” Grantiere yelled.

We waited there in the dense fog for a response.

Palace Guard: Day 19 (Part 3)

What kind of battle is this?

As soon as Balthus told us to get ready to catch, we heard the sound of metal striking metal. He had found an axe on the ground, where one of the skeletons recently stood, and used it to strike at the chain that was holding Josephus in the air. We looked up just in time as Josephus fell toward us. We reached up and did our best to catch him, but we all collapsed under his weight. We helped him to his feet, though he was very fatigued. His weapons and armor were nowhere to be seen, so we decided it would be best to leave the cavern before the vampire returned.  We cautiously made our way down the dark corridor.

“Trevor,” I started, “Did you say that you would not count on our ruse not working?”

“Aye,” Trevor responded.

“I beseech thee to be more clear,” Grantiere said through gritted teeth.

“What exactly are we preparing for?” Trevor asked.

“An assault from an army of undead abominations,” Balthus responded.

“What if I told you that the army that will attack us consists of one vampire?” Trevor queried.

“It would still be a vampire, but I don’t understand,” Grantiere said.

“How many skeletons did you see in the chamber?” Trevor quipped.

“After you made the light come out of that Medieval Pendant, none,” I answered.

“Exactly,” Trevor started, “That was a purifying light that penetrated the entirety of the cavern.”

“You mean that the whole army is gone?” Celebryn asked.

“It would have been better to cut off the head of the snake,” Trevor said, “But now at least we only have one foe.”

“Then we must prepare for a different kind of combat when return to the Keep,” Grantiere said.

Palace Guard: Day 19 (Part 2)

Sometimes one must improvise...

After a few minutes of being trapped in our precarious situation, the skeletons that were ordered  to bind us fell into some sort of a trance. They became eerily still and the small red glow in their eyes subsided. We pondered amongst ourselves as to what we could do to escape our current predicament. The only one who continued to move was the mage, who wandered off down one of the side corridors.

That is when we heard footsteps coming down the path that we had used to gain entry into the cavern. We feared that the vampire had already returned, when we noticed that it was Trevor. He was moving slowly as to not alert the skeletal guards, though we weren’t sure if they would have heard him anyway.

“Did he take the Medieval pendant?” Trevor whispered.

“No, I have it in my hand,” Grantiere replied.

“Give it to me, we haven’t much time,” Trevor said.

He reached forward and clasped the pendant to his left shoulder and started reciting what sounded like a prayer. The jewel on the pendant began to radiate a bright light, that soon encompassed the entirety of the cavern. When the light subsided, all of the skeletons in the chamber were gone; piles of ash on the ground were all that remained.

“I had hoped to use that on Rulatha,” Trevor started, “But sometimes one must improvise.”

“How did you know to come for us?” Baltus asked.

“I saw the vampire speed down the path,” Trevor answered, “We may not have long, we must leave at once.”

“What about Josephus?” I questioned, pointing up to where our comrade was currently being held.

“We have to get him down quickly,” Trevor responded.

“And we must get back to warn the kingdom that our ruse didn’t work,” Grantiere added.

“I wouldn’t count on that just yet,” Trevor said.

“Everyone get ready to catch Josephus,” Balthus commanded.

“What do you mean, catch?” Grantiere asked with a hint of nervousness in his voice.

Palace Guard: Day 19

If I were to venture down the path to this cavern...

After the Vampire demanded the whereabouts of the Baron’s daughter, Grantiere bravely stepped forward.

“Given her elderly state,” he began, “Her rate of travel has been slowed.”

“She is on the road and should be here within the hour,” Celebryn added.

The Vampire pondered the response as he slowly paced before us. He cast a glance toward the Skeletal Mage, then back toward us. He squinted at us in what seemed to be disapproval.

“The Baron wanted us to offer you this pendant in exchange for your mercy,” said Grantiere as he held out the trinket.

“If I were to venture down the path to this cavern,” the Vampire started, “I would eventually encounter the Baron’s daughter.”

“That is correct,” responded Grantiere.

“Well then,” said Rulatha, “If that is accurate, then I suppose you wouldn’t mind waiting here until I can confirm your claim.”

He nodded toward his mage. The skeleton raised its arms as the ground beneath us start to rumble. Skeletal arms emerged from the ground as a battalion of the undead warriors surrounded us and proceeded to bind us together. As their lifeless forms were following the commands of their leader, I noticed that the chain they were tying around our Medieval belts was extremely rusty.

Before I could completely process this thought, the chain was pulled tight and we were completely restricted. The Vampire stood with his back to us.

“If you have deceived me, my entire host shall be unleashed upon your kingdom,” said Rulatha as he disappeared into the shadows.

Palace Guard Day: 18

Where is the Baron's daughter?

We rode as hard and fast as was possible, stopping only to feed and water our steeds. We wanted to ensure we met with the appropriate time table of Vampire so that we did not insight the launch of the Unholy assault prematurely.

Trevor rode with us but had planned in advance to not accompany us inside of the underground structure. He was convinced that Rulatha would be able to sense his presence if he got too close as they have had encounters in the past. We agreed that as we descended into the depths that we would leave a trail of lamp oil behind us. If things did not go according to plan we would light the trail and Trevor would come to our assistance.

We tied our steeds off to a tree, readied the replica pendant and started down into the darkness, with but one lamp to light the way.

The closer we got to the antechamber the more we could hear the clicking of boney feet against the stone floor. As we entered, we saw a number of skeletons moving about, seemingly assembling the necessary accessories for war. Though, we did notice that the number of skeletal warriors had significantly decreased since the last time we were in this desolate place.

Suspended from the roof of the cavern we spied Josephus. He was bound by several leather straps and seemed to be unconscious. Beneath him stood the same skeleton, who wore the black Mage’s cloak, that transported us with such speed only a few days early. Its eyeless sockets turned toward us as we entered and although I knew it was impossible, it seemed to offer us a grin.

The Skeletal Mage lifted its arm, one of which grasped the staff made of petrified wood. An feint breeze rustled through cavern, causing the lamp lights to flicker for mere seconds. When the flames regained their intensity, standing before was Rulatha.

“You were wise to return,” his steady voice informed us, “Now where is the Baron’s daughter?”

Palace Guard: Day 17

Getting ready for the battle

We’ve been on the move, doing our best to recall the path we initially took while traveling to the lair of the Master of the Night. We stayed constantly on guard, fearful that we are walking into an ambush—again. When we saw the cliff face, Trevor had us hold our position.


“You remember what you all must do?” Trevor asked.


“We’re supposed to go in and offer this pendant,” Grantiere replied.


“You’re forgetting an important element,” said Trevor.


“And we’re supposed to let the creature know that the Baron’s Daughter is on the way,” finished Celebryn.


“Correct,” Trevor started, “One last thing: I can not enter with you.”


“You’re the only one who knows how to fight this thing,” Baltus demanded.


“Rulatha will remember me and it will compromise the mission,” Trevor responded, “I will waiting outside should anything happen.”


“Isn’t that comforting,” Grantiere said, “We’re wasting time here.”


As we moved toward the cavern entrance, I couldn’t help but feel protected underneath my chain mail armor shirt. Even though we were facing a very unusual foe, I still could feel the exhilaration of the upcoming encounter. When the actual outcropping of the entrance came into view, we saw that it was patrolled by some of the same walking dead from the our last visit. We all dismounted and made our way to meet with the vampire.

Palace Guard: Day 15

What will happen?

The entirety of the kingdom is at a state of alert. Our couriers have been dispatched to all of the villages and dells, summoning all members of the army and all of the local militias. With the uncertainty of the unholy threat, the Bishop wanted the capitol well defended.  Men have been streaming in through the gates all morning and making their way to the armory in order pick up a weapon and to be fitted for Medieval armor.


Trevor is still formulating a plan, utilizing his vast experience in Witch Hunting to deal with the vampire. He feels that since my small troop has seen the vampire in action that we are the most qualified to participate in the attempt to destroy him. We are to leave immediately in order to meet the three day deadline so that we can rescue Josephus from the clutches of this villain.


Trevor has commissioned a Mage to assist with the creation of an artifact that bears a similar appearance to that of the pendant we are to return to the vampire. We hope that it is a close enough replica that it satisfies Rulatha long enough for us to return Josephus back to the castle. Once the vampire discovers that it is a forgery, we hope he still launches his assault. Our castle walls are formidable and can withstand the brunt of an assault, while our detachment moves into position to stake the enemy general.


We leave in mere moments. It has been quite some time since the Kingdom’s entire panoply of war has been assembled. Soldiers stand on the bulwarks at all hours, keeping watch for the army of the living dead that may already be on its way. Battle is imminent.

Palace Guard: Day 14 Part II

The truth is being revealed

“What would you have done in my position?” the Baron shouted at us, “She would have died!”


We all stood there, our faces twisted into expressions of confusion. Baron Galt-Haldane was only in his middle years; his daughter having just reached her 19th celebration of birth. They both are well known for their youthful visages. But the woman we now stood before appeared to have walked the earth for more than a century. Her old and decrepit form was next to lifeless as she sat in a velvet chair, being attended to by aids. The Baron took off his Medieval Nobles Cloak, and slid into his own chair defeated.


“Tell us how this happened,” the Bishop commanded.


“When she was born, she had an illness that threatened her life,” the Baron started, “The physicians all said that nothing could be done. But then this man appeared and offered to save her.”


“This the same person we fought in the cave?” Grantiere queried.


“More than likely,” the Baron responded, “He said he could help with a price—her physical body would age ten years for each year she was alive.”


“But we’ve seen her many times, and she’s always appeared youthful,” said the Queen’s Advisor.


“We were told as long as she wore the pendant, she would retain her actual age,” answered the Baron, “When she turned 19, the man came back wanting to be her suitor, but I refused since he was not of noble claim.”


“Which explains why he wanted he sent his men after the pendant,” Trevor reasoned.


“And also what he’ll be after when he sends his skeleton army to attack the town,” said Grantiere.


“Skeleton army?” asked the Bishop.


“Yes my Lord—the walking dead,” responded Celebryn.


“What shall we do?” asked the Queen’s Advisor


“If we can destroy the vampire,” Trevor began, “Then the dark magic that binds his unholy hoarde together will dissipate.”


“Well,” I said, “We have three days until they get here.”

Palace Guard: Day 14

We stood there and watched the skeletons pick up weapons; ancient and rusty swords that still appeared lethal. Josephus remained in the clutches of the man who called himself Rulatha. We were surrounded and appeared to be out of options. Our chain mail armor would not even help us.


“You have three days to bring me the Baron’s daughter,” Rulatha started, “After that time, I shall unleash my host upon the Kingdom and claim her myself.”


“Three days?” Grantiere asked, “It took us that long to walk here.”


“My associate will see that your return is swift,” Rulatha held out his hand. One of the skeletons came forward, wearing a black Mage’s cloak and carrying a staff made of petrified wood. Its dark eye sockets had the faint glow of burning embers. As it walked toward us, it gestured toward the passage that would take us to the mouth of the cave.


“Three days, or your friend will be lost forever,” Rulatha taunted. With a snap of his fingers, Rulatha and Josephus disappeared. The remaining skeletons all came toward us so that we were forced to retreat to the cave’s opening. Once outside, the cloaked skeleton moved its arms in a very specific pattern while pointing with its staff.


I remember closing my eyes, and when I opened them, we were all standing outside the gates of the town. The guards in the towers were startled by our sudden presence, but called to open the gates. We moved inside and immediately reported what had transpired to our commander. He told us to get something to eat, but to meet him for a special court in and hour.


After our meal, we entered the chambers of the Queen’s royal adviser. In the chamber was our commander, the Queen’s adviser, the Bishop, and a man whose face was not known to me. Also in attendance was Baron Galt-Haldane. We all took our places around a table and we told them all of what had happened.


“I shall not hand over my daughter to this sorcerer!” insisted the Baron.


“Not sorcerer,” the unidentified man said, “Vampire.”


“Are you certain, Trevor?” the Bishop asked.


“There is no doubt in my mind,” Trevor responded, “My order has been tracking a vampire in this area for many years.”


“Why does the vampire have such an interest in a pendant?” the Queen’s adviser queried.


“You will have to ask that of the Baron,” Trevor replied.


“I do not know what you speak of,” the Baron stammered.


“Do not lie to me,” our Commander belted, “You’re putting the lives of one of my best men and the entire Kingdom in jeopardy!”


“If our foe truly is a Master of Death and you do not cooperate, Baron Galt-Haldane, it can be viewed as heresy,” the Bishop warned.


The Baron’s eyes darted around the room, meeting each of our gazes, as if he was hoping someone else would provide an answer. The room was silent as we all awaited to see what the Baron would say. After what felt like ages, the Baron sighed and leaned back in his wooden chair.


“I’ll need you all to come to my Manor,” said the Baron reluctantly, “There’s something you need to see.”

Palace Guard Journal: Day 13

We all just stood there, staring at this new entrant to the scene. His hood obscured his face. His unearthly calm in the presence of our heavily armed company was unsettling. Von Ottenhiem bowed his head toward the figure, as did the remaining monks that we had tied up.

“Thank you, Master,” Von Ottenhiem said, reverently.

“In the name of the Queen, make yourself known,” Grantiere demanded.

“I’m much older than your Queen, and feel that it is she who she be paying me respects,” came the steady voice of the man.

As he stepped out of the opening and into the dim torchlight, we could see that he was wearing the Medieval pendant that we had been originally dispatched to retrieve.

“That pendant belongs to Baron Galt-Haldane; return it immediately,” said Grantiere.

“Mighty Captain, that is where you are mistaken,” the man started, “This pendant belongs to me and always has.” He started walking toward us. “It was the daughter of your Baron who stole it from me.”

Could it be dark magic?

“Your words resemble treason, stranger,” Grantiere warned.

“I assure you I speak truth,” the man began, “And furthermore I do not intend to relinquish what is rightfully mine.”
In an instant, the man threw back his hood an opened his mouth. Long white fangs extended from his mouth as he hissed. He drew back his sword and moved with unnatural quickness around the chamber. Before we could blink, his blade cut loose the rope holding Von Ottenhiem and his men. They jumped up and found their weapons as the melee resumed.

I was taken so by surprise, that one of the monks knocked my sword from my hand. I dodged out of the way and found the splintered shaft of my pike and used that to deflect the attacks. As I backed toward the wall, the man appeared behind me. I instinctively brought my wooden spear to strike. As I did, his eyes widened and he snarled. His hand shot out and grabbed my wrist. With little effort, he threw me across the chamber as I slammed into the ancient carvings.

When my eyes opened, the man had his sword to Josephus throat. Baltus, Grantiere, and Celebryn all stood by, watching helplessly.

“If you wish to save your friend, you will bring me the Baron’s daughter,” he clenched his grip on his sword, “and since it is unlikely that the Baron will trade his daughter’s life for this man’s, please deliver a message for me: If my requests are not met, I will invade.”

“Just you and a handful of thieves against the army of the Kingdom?” Grantiere scoffed.

“You seem to underestimate me,” the man said and then snapped his fingers.

The ground below us started to rumble. From the earthen floor, white fingertips breached to the surface, followed soon by the ghastly grin of skulls. Dozens of skeletons, animated by some dark magic assembled around us and stood at attention.

“Please, return to your Baron and tell him that Rulatha sends his regards.”