Sunday 9th July 1498 – Morning
We rose early in the morning and after making our observances, for we all believed we would be in need of divine protection, we set off for Carnac castle.
As we approached the old bailey we came across a drunkard naming himself Ol' Tom. He claimed that he had seen a black dragon come and go from the ruins of the castle. The other townsfolk had dismissed his sightings as those of someone who had too many cups, but to us it was certainly a warning to be taken seriously.
We crossed the tumbledown remnants of the old outer wall, leaving Pierre at the far side with the horses, and trekked through the remnants of the old town. The buildings here seemed to have been disused for many years and were largely overgrown, the townsfolk being too afraid of the castle's reputation to even scavenge the old houses for building materials.
The old town was now completely devoid of life and sound. The absolute silence of the place caused every twig we snapped underfoot to sound like a crack of thunder.
Maybe half way through the town the air suddenly started to chill, Lydia, Shanae and I jumped back fearing magical assault but Guillaume kept going, his armour proofing him against the cold.
He seemed to look around himself in bewilderment, occasionally reaching out to try and touch something that the rest of us could not see. Later he would tell us that he had experienced a vision, the first of many in this place, showing the old castle intact and being stormed by the Knights of Aroden. After the vision passed the chill faded from the air and we proceeded to the castle proper.
Upon reaching the castle the drawbridge was down and the portcullis was up. Whether this was a stroke of good fortune or an ominous sign we were not sure. Lydia identified a ring of standing stones around the perimeter which she believed would have held the magic which contained the evil within.
As I crossed the boundary of the portcullis to ensure the way was safe, I encountered a vision myself. It was of a knight of Aroden entering under the portcullis as an unarmoured man leaps at him, biting him on his cheek. They fall together to the ground as the vision ended.
We explored the castle, looking for any clues that might help us. The courtyard and the rooms were in a state of complete disrepair. The wooden structures in the yard and the tapestries on the walls all rotten. The skeletal remains of nobles, peasants and knights alike were found throughout and I took the precaution of separating their heads from their bodies. We had dealt with enough of the walking dead to know that we would rather not take the risk of facing more!
Further visions manifested as our search continued:
In the courtyard we were shown two wizards arguing. The smaller man appeared angry or concerned and the larger was carrying what we believed to be Hasdrubal's scroll.
In the stables two men and a stable boy exchange ravenous looks. One man kills the other and the survivors feast on the corpse.
In the upper chambers the larger wizard sneered down towards the courtyard, slammed the outer door and left.
In the temple a lady sat praying with a young child as a priest stood watching. When the same scream is heard the priest's eyes turn wide with hunger. He suggests they eat the child, the most defenseless amongst them, but the mother recoils in horror. The child bit into the mother's arm, tearing a chunk of flesh as the vision ended.
In the throne room many richly robed men sat next to an empty throne. There was a great, blood curdling scream and the assembled guests devoured the food ahead of them and then turned on each other.
As this vision faded we were interrupted by the booming sound of dozens of voices clamouring as one. It said "Thank you heroes, I'd never have found the final lock without you. Soon the great hunger will be bought forth into this world" The phrase was punctuated by a now all too familiar sound of the chattering of teeth and as we rushed to the windows we could see our quarry – the being we'd come to know as the Thin Man.
Lydia reacted the most quickly out of all of us, sending a bolt of magical energy arcing towards the being, striking him in the back as he turned to escape. I jumped from the windows to give chase but regretfully I could not catch him. Guillaume and Shanae followed, albeit less gracefully! We reached the drawbridge as a great field of force appeared ahead of us. The damned thing had raised the magical barriers against us! We pounded impotently on the magical barrier as it gloated at us, screaming that it would travel to where all of this began before ending the world. It escaped into the distance.
We turned back into the courtyard and another vision coalesced. Spectral knights battled with the un-armoured forms of the castle inhabitants. The Paladins seemed to be winning until a giant humanoid form appeared in the scene, crashing into their armoured bodies. It picked up one of the followers of Aroden and tore him apart. Rather than fading the scene began again, playing over and over.
Guillaume attempted to intervene in the battle but his wild swings passed harmlessly thorough the ethereal forms of the combatants. I circled around the extent of the outer walls to see if I could find a breech in the shield keeping us trapped, but to no avail.
With no way of exiting the castle, we proceeded to the guest rooms, the last un-searched part. Pushing open the badly sagging door to one of the rooms we see the ghostly form of the man we believed to be Arzhur de Brehan - the larger wizard from the earlier scenes.
Another vision began. Arzhur paced angrily around the room, the scroll of Hasdrubal on his desk. He sits and writes notes in the crocodile skin book. He attempts to cast a spell but curses as it fails. Sudden a rift appears in the scroll and the creature from the courtyard tears its way out of the parchment. Long limbs rip at the terrified wizard and he was consumed. The creature bursts out of the room and into the courtyard.
Arzhur's shade however remained. We tried to talk to him but he seemed only half aware of us. We tried to impart the significance of our journey to the castle and how important the book was to the survival to all around us, including his own family. He came to his senses lodemonicng enough to hand us a copy of the spectral book he was working on before finally departing to the next life.
In the courtyard the same scene was still playing over and over. As we walked back through the midst of the battle, one of the Paladins took the spectral book from us. They began to chant the ritual of binding, trapping the deamonic beast once more. As the scene turned quiet the barrier to the castle fell. The divine warriors of Aroden proved that Famine could be defeated before and now it fell to us to defeat it once more.