Greg knelt with a sigh as the last of the heretics fell, the name of their Dark Goddess he last thing that gurgled out of her throat. He had driven his greatsword into the dirt and clung to it like a lifeline as he fought to steady his breathing, willing strength back into his aching limbs. The fight had gone on for far too long - they had underestimated the cultist numbers and the strength of the corrupt beast that had been leading the ritual.
But they had won; they were bloody, exhausted and in agony but they had won and the surrounding woodland floor was littered with broken bodies, broken weapons and the remnants of the ritual circle.
"Crowa... thank you for your strength and courage to face down the enemies of the Seven, those that would pervert the land undo the work of your brother Longstor. I just pray we have the strength to return back to the city." the priests voice was hoarse from yelling: order, challenges and prayers to his Goddess.
His companions behind him were in a similar state; Father Crow was busy dragging the corpses of the fallen into a pile so that they could be sent on despite the limp and the way he held one arm slightly closer to his chest. His hood had fallen away during the fight and blood trickled still down the left side of his face from a deep gash about his eye. He had protested numerous times that it "wasn't life threatening" and even if it had been then it was simply his "time to meet his Lord." It was the first time Greg gad seen the devotee without his good and had been briefly surprised to find that he was bald, with a litany to the God of Death tattooed on his scalp.
Grundown - ever practical and stubborn was fashioning what looked like a crude crutch out of the bits of broken weapons that adorned the floor. Moving gingerly so as not to disturb the herbs and poultices on the bandage tied across his chest he meticulously sifted through the hafts of spears and axes - trying to find enough decent wood for the support of Eliana. The elf lay propped up by a fallen log, her face pale and drawn and absent of any kind of superiority that the long lived race frequently wore in the company of the 'younger' races. Her right leg was bandaged heavily, tied to another broken haft of a weapon to form a splint. Blood soaked her leggings and the bandages and Greg knew beneath them was an ugly wound.
Leanna was sat next to the elf, sobbing softly and holding her own bandaged right arm. Greg couldn't help but be sympathetic with the young woman, remembering all too well the first time he had been stabbed. The mage was lucky it hadn't been too deep, but it still left a gash across her bicep that had caused her to scream in agony.
"Stop lookin' so glum manling." Grundown murmured as he drew close. "We won, and that's that. Wounds'll heal, even yer pretty little lasses arm and the eckla... the elfs leg. S'what we do as adventurers, we take a few knocks so the peasants have a brighter tomorra', isn't that what the Great Bearded Goddess of Courage and Battle teachers?" He nodded at Greg's pendant before clapping the human on the arm, eliciting a wince and a groan of pain. "Man up, an' help the Father with the bodies." The Dwarf sounded stern, but he followed it with a wink as he went to Eliana, measuring his spoils expertly by eye against her.
Gregory pushed himself to his feet, claiming one of the bodies of the fallen that lay at his feet and dragging it over to the rest of the bodies. "Where do you want it?"
"Lay it out with the rest after stripping them of their weapons. I will not provide them with the means to fight on in Elysium - their Goddess provides them with augmented strength that is weapon enough for them." Crow's voice was strained as if said through clenched teeth, but it was impossible to tell through the mask he wore.
The Crowan nodded his compliance, fetching the last few bodies as Crow prepared himself for the ritual.
"Lord Kharach, the gifts bestowed upon these men and women by your fair sister Vleybor has ended; I ask that you take their souls and usher them into the Halls of the Dead, presenting them to the Allfather so that they may be judged accordingly for the rest of time."
The last few bodies had joined the rest and Crow began the last rites for the Kryganites, his boots crunching on the carpet of leaves as he walked around the pile. Greg could sense rather than see the slow build up of mana in the air as the Kharachian drew a vortex of Divine energy to the site. The ritual reached its conclusion and the power washed away again, and a sense of peace hung in the air around them briefly.
"Praise be to Kharach." The group’s voices met in chorus in honour of the God of the Dead, and Greg raised his gaze from where he had been knelt in deference to the sacred ritual.
His eyes met a pouch on the belt of one of the cultists, the corner of a piece of parchment sticking out of it, with a frown he reached forward, opening the pouch deftly and extracting it's contents.
It was a single sheaf of paper, the text written in something that he suspected was not ink. He scanned it quickly, his eyes widening in horror and spurring him into action.
"We have to move. Now! The safety of the city of Mercia could be at stake!"
(((Written at work - have had some feedback on it already but this is in it's pretty raw and unedited form.))