Part 3 and more than likely the last part.
It was Grundown that broke the sudden silence. "Lad... the lasses aren't going anywhere, not in a hurry. What's wrong?"
Gregory glanced frantically from face to face brandishing the paper frantically. "This, the Kryganites here, this ritual. It was all just a ruse - there is dozens of these things set up - dozens of traps to lure out adventurers to empty the city while all eyes are on the Communion. They plan to invade Mercia. They plan to take control of it. They're heading there - right now - from the Temple."
Shocked faces stared back at him, though the thought of moving quickly had made Eliana almost green. "Gregory... we're not going to make it back as a group." her voice was strained and she spoke through gritted teeth.
"Me and you, Crowan." Crow stood, reaching into a pouch at his belt and pulling out two vials of a murky yellow liquid, uncorking and downing both in one fluid motion before collecting his mace. "We race to the city, to see if we might warn them."
Conflict warred over Gregory's face, torn between his companions and the city. Leanna stood and crossed the hollow to him, embracing him with one arm and kissing him gently. "Go, we'll be fine. The Kryganites here are dead, Grundown can take care of us." the Dwarf nodded in assent.
"I've never been much good at running anyways lad."
"Head to Netherthong, don't get split up... we'll see you soon." Gregory said, as he pulled his sword free of the dirt. Together, he and Father Crow fled from the rest of their group, in the direction of the city of Mercia.
Aching though they were, with cuts and abrasions marring their limbs and torsos the Crowan and Kharachian tore through the forest of Mercia stopping for nothing. Trees, bushes, rabbit holes and other hazards seemed to avoid them as if they were on their own solitary path - as if Tralda, the Fateweaver Herself, had laid out an uninterruptable path for them to follow to warn the city of the danger. The first couple of miles passed with no incident, but then they started to notice a change to the landscape, found evidence to support the letter they had found. Here and there the corruption of Krygan was evident, choking vines around the plants, wildlife twisted and unnatural sprouting extra limbs and eyes... and then they started to reach the outskirts of the city. Small villages raised and burned to the ground; human, dwarven and Elven sacrifices lain out in deference to the 'Mother of Monsters' and then the stragglers of what was obviously a larger force - picking on the remnants of the wave of destruction like carrion.
Those that did interrupt the pair - now thundering juggernaut like through the undergrowth met sword and mace - but not thought was spared for them, no prayers whispered, their rites were not mentioned. The lives and souls of the thousands in the city were the only thing that existed for the pair.
Finally the walls came into view and they stopped at a tree line as they bore witness to the destruction in front of them. The east gate was besieged as Kryganite followers as well as followers of the other Dark Gods threw themselves against the stone walls again and again. The air was thick with mana and power. Ozone hung in the air in a way that was nearly palpable. The river that flowed through the city was turning to a thick black sludge as it neared its entrance to the city.
"Seven... we're too late." Gregory coughed out, his breathing heavy as the exertion caught up with him, forcing him to catch hold of a tree to stay upright. Crow looked pale - his face mask pulled down, the head wound reopened.
As they watched, details began to stand out - the militia on the walls trying their hardest to stave off the attackers that climbed the walls, either by ladder and rope or some more unnatural means. Survivors and refugees had begun to flee from the southern gate, pushing and shoving each other out of the way - all civility and compassion for their follow Mercians was lost as they fought to be away from the city, away from the battle. Militia and guardsmen did their best to try and save them, Gregory was able to pick out several of the men clearly - men he knew. Men he had fought besides, drunk with and laughed with. And now... now might be time to die with them.
"Crowa... if this is my day. I come to meet you with love and courage in my heart." the prayer was lost in the air under the noise of the fighting, and the Crowan turned to the Father behind him. "Head to Netherthong. Keep Leanna safe. If I don't make it back - tell her I love her."
Crow's cheek twitched and the grip on his mace tightened, he opened his mouth as if to protest but Gregory cut him off. "No, Shepherd. Concentrate on the souls. I know you're not a priest, but protect them..." he pointed with his blade to those fleeing the city. "See the souls of the Mercians that couldn't be saved, or that die in the journey safe. It's my duty to help those that need ssaving from their homes."
Their eyes met, and then their hands met each others forearm in a warriors handshake.
"Till we meet again High Father Gregory Chrace." Crow said, with a nod, readjusting his hood and mask.
"In Netherthong, or in the Halls themselves, Father Crow Chrace." Gregory returned before looking out in the field. "May Crowa bring us strength to bring our enemies downfalll.
"And my Kharach guide our souls once battle is done."
"For Crowa. For Kharach." their voices mingled and they broke into a run across the field of broken bodies between the trees and the city walls, breaking off from each other as they raised their voices in a battlecry. "For the Seven! For Mercia!"