As I write this, four of our number are walking the treacherous path to the ruined manor that sits upon the hill, casting its shadow over everything below it.
We all gathered this morning at sunrise in the tavern, as instructed by the young Master Clarke. Himself and his man Cole were already present when I arrived, and I couldn’t help but notice he looked particularly hollow eyed, as if something had robbed him of his sleep. Cole looked much the same, though he did appear unusually absorbed in his tankard of mead for such an early hour. Once the travelers were assembled, Cole distributed the initial payment for our service from a sack of gold. The paltry sum that was greeted with grumbles of dissent, mine included, though the young Master Clarke quickly placated us with promises of future riches. He detailed his plan of recovering long lost heirlooms and valuable artifacts that were lost over the estate, promising substantial wealth to whoever helped retrieve them. This calmed the travelers, allowing him recount his expedition from the night before.
After departing the tavern the previous night, he and Cole had set out to explore the estate so he may learn the extent of the corruption stemming from the subterranean cavern deep below the manor. The dark of the night proved challenging to navigate, he claimed, but the two men were able to at least approach the ruins enough to see the foul things stirring within. The undead, he claimed, in staggering numbers and still wearing finery emblazoned with his house’s crest in some obscene mockery. At this, he began to visibly shake, overcome with some emotion between revulsion and anger, and the gathered travelers murmured to each other in disbelief. I have had some experience with the undead, in cities where death caused by plague twisted and corrupted Nature, but I can not speak for everyone. After he regained his composure, the young Master Clarke thanked providence that the undead seemed chained to the manor, sparing the small hamlet of their horror, and then excused himself from the tavern.
His man Cole took over, detailing the plan. The young Master Clarke had inherited a map of the ruined manor from his father, the likes of which indicated a vault deep within the manor that served as his father’s library. Cole was to lead 3 others into the manor in an attempt to reach that vault and recover everything they could, so as to shed some light upon the corruption that had taken hold, and perhaps how to defeat it. Picking the sister Catherine, the bounty hunter Achus, and the nameless leper as his 3, he stated that they would leave that afternoon, giving them enough time to obtain supplies and perform whatever rites they needed to steel themselves for the horrors ahead. The rest of us were dismissed, with explicit instructions to be available at all times.
Clarke’s man Cole wears the scars of multiple military campaigns proudly, and his choice of companions show he is a competent tactician. The ruddiness in his cheeks reveal a man who is too fond of the bottle, but nevertheless, I trust that those 3 are in good hands even against such Unnatural horrors. I do find it curious, however, that the Order has only seen fit to send one lowly sister despite such reports of the undead. Perhaps there are things their matriarchs fear, even in their far off monastery.
While they are away, I must find some manner of weapon for use against the Unnatural abominations. Some alchemical formula, some potion that may destroy their rotting visages, anything that will afford me some distance from those monstrosities. I am no stranger to using my dirk, though I harbor doubts that it will prove to be effective. I must make myself useful in other manner.