So, as promised, the next installment of Alex’s journal, resuming in the woods above the bridge at Durweston, east of Blandford Forum…
As it turned out avoiding that detour was maybe a bad idea. We reached Durweston without anything particularly exciting happening and settled in for the night on the reasoning that it would be easier to cross the river in daylight rather than darkness. Everybody was being very polite about which watch they were going to take, so I nabbed first (means I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning!).
My wake up call the next morning was Jasper’s bloody great boot in my face. Personally I’m far more partial to a hot cup of coffee but, given that there were three dead people shambling up the hill towards our camp, I decided to let that pass. I’m starting to come round to the opinion that the dead these days really aren’t like they used to be. I mean, if you’re dead, surely it would be far politer to just lie down and rot rather than wandering around, stinking the place up and disturbing the well-earned sleep of honest, law-abiding (it’s been at least a week!) citizens! I contemplated trying to explain this to them, but they didn’t seem to be in the mood to talk, so I figured it was probably best to let my sword do the explaining. My sword is good at explaining – it’s short and to the point! Today was no exception to that and I was my usual brilliant self (although possibly it would have been a better idea not to make the dead man’s head explode because then I wouldn’t have ended up with a mouthful of rotten brain – but don’t tell Jasper I said that!).
Unfortunately as it turned out, the walking dead were just a diversion and we fell for it hook line and sinker (I had only just woken up after all and mornings aren’t my best time…). Although the dead ones had resumed a far more natural form Brother Aldwyn had taken on a decidedly unnatural one – crouched, clammy, unresponsive and covered in some sort of spider web that we couldn’t get off him. I was just about to come up with a brilliant plan for how to save the day when we were interrupted again, this time by a couple of Stalking Ones who just happened to be in the area hunting wolves. According to them, Brother Aldwyn’s collection of friendly spirits had drawn the attention of the Warlock of Blandford Forum (who I’d always figured was the invention of some enterprising entertainer looking for a cheap scare and a quick penny!) and he’d come spirit stealing. The result of which being we were left with a body and the Warlock had a bottle of spirits. Aside from feeling vindicated over the whole conspicuous spirits issue, I was also fairly perturbed – Brother Aldwyn is, after all, the provider of apple cake and I don’t think the church will be overly impressed if we show up with his cooling body and ask for some! Fortunately, Brother Aldwyn hadn’t been wearing his pack when he got webbed so I was able to demonstrate the importance of apple cake to the Stalking Ones, at which point they immediately agreed to help us get him back in one piece. They also agreed to carry his body, so I figure we’re onto a winner!
Working off the Warlock myths and Brian’s knowledge of the local area, we figured the Warlock’s tower had to be due west of where we currently were so, without too much ado, we headed off that way. Given that we were trying to keep a low profile we snuck cross-country again which, of course, made it a wet and uncomfortable journey. It did however give us cover to duck down in when we spotted the polymuff vs. walking dead death-fest on the road below us. Seems we aren’t the only ones who have a beef with the Warlock and his shambling pets.
Polymuff-spotting aside, we reached the tower without anything else particularly exciting happening. Given that there seemed to be yet another fight going on somewhere behind the tower we figured that made now a really good time to be sneaking in, so the three of us and one of the Stalking Ones (who’s name is apparently Hold-On which I think implies things got a little bit confused around the time he was born!). Turns out we were wrong, because we walked almost straight into another four walking dead. Having already practiced on a few that morning, Jasper, Brian and I handled ours without much of a problem. Hold-On, on the other hand was looking a little worse for wear by the time we’d finished. Obviously he needs a little more practice hunting two-legged things!
Having done the vanquishing hero thing again (and rather well, if I do say so myself) I realised we weren’t alone in the tower. Turns out the Warlock had been having a busy day and has also nabbed himself the daughter of the polymuff chieftain of Bournemouth (explaining why there were polymuffs kicking up a stink outside). Her brother, Marcus, had also figured my way of doing it was best and was sneaking around looking for her. Given we were on a tight time limit we figured teaming up was the easiest way to deal with things and pegged it up the tower. Despite getting attacked by a room on the way up (don’t ask – magical wards are a really cowardly and unimaginative way of fighting!) we made it to the roof where we found the Warlock doing what warlocks presumably do best – some sort of weird magic ritual type of thing involving Marcus’ sister, a couple of wolves and our bottle of spirits. Given our distinct lack of expertise in this area, we figured that actions spoke louder than words and started hitting things. Despite the fact that Hold-On managed to drop his sword (which would have been kind of ironic except it meant the wolf focused all of it’s attention on yours truly!) I decided that we’d won the fight when the warlock tried to take a flying leap from the rooftop which only half worked, given that I don’t think bouncing really counts as flying. The boys, being boys, immediately had to go and gloat over the body in the courtyard and went for a high-speed dash down the stairs. Being (obviously) the most level headed of us, I decided to take things a little slower; after all, a girl’s got to eat and how many chances do you get to raid a warlock’s tower?