Fleuri trudged through the cemetery, torch in hand. He was taking a quick detour to his own family's resting place, a short journey that should not delay their arrival at the Cazt Mausoleum. It'd be a quick stop, then they'd meet back up with the rest of the knights. However, even with the proximity to his brothers and sisters of the order, the eerie calm of the cemetery and the dance of the shadows of the trees and headstones against his torch frayed his nerves, made all the worse by the knowledge that there was a necromancer and his thralls in the area. Fleuri recalled the advice of his mentor, the paladin whom he had served as a squire during the War of the Red Flag. It is normal for even devoted servants of Reon to feel apprehension or fear when faced with the prospect of battling the undead. What truly matters is that you carry out Her will regardless. Through devotion to Reon, knowledge of our enemy, and experience in facing them, we have the strength to stand and fight when others would falter and flee.
Another important lesson his mentor had taught him was the importance of preparation when facing necromancers and undead. Failure meant not only death, but the very real possibility of one's remains being desecrated, reanimated, and used against your allies. With the situation as dire and urgent as it was, the Iron Roses hadn't have much opportunity to prepare. Fortunately, Fleuri knew of a way to mitigate this problem, because his family had already prepared for this scenario.
It didn't take long for him, and whoever accompanied him, to arrive at one of his destination- a modest above-ground structure with a heavy door of tarnished bronze. Two particular details distinguished this particular tomb: Armand Jodeau's sun symbol above the door, and the two statues of Reon flanking the door, their slightly mismatched shade of stone compared to the rest of the structure making it clear that they were later additions. This was not the entire tomb, of course- behind the door, flanked by the sarcophagi of House Jodeau's founders, was a stairway that led to an underground crypt where the rest of the family- minus a few shameful disgraces- were interred. To Fleuri, it was a grandiose reminder of the power they once wielded, and of what they had become since then. It was a little somber to look upon, knowing that someday he too would be laid to rest within."This is the place,"
he announced. "First, I better make sure the door is still sealed."
It was fortunate he didn't need to go inside, because with his nerves as rattled as they were, he would have to muster a great deal of courage to set foot in his future burial place. He examined the door, checking to ensure that its lock had not been broken. The door did not budge, its lock holding it tightly shut. Relieved and satisfied at the knowledge that the tomb had not been broken into, Fleuri then began examining the statues more closely."When Armand Jodeau pledged himself to Reon, he was concerned that the enemies he'd make might be willing to desecrate his family's tomb in order to get to him."
he explained. "Some time after he joined the Iron Roses, he commissioned some changes to the mausoleum to ensure that his kin would have the tools to put their ancestors to rest if it ever came to that, even if they lacked his specialized training as a paladin. According to my father, these tools are hidden in a compartment in one of the plinths."
The statues, depicting a goddess known for her small stature, were much shorter than the ones they replaced, and stood on conspicuously tall plinths in order to maintain the same profile. In theory it was only supposed to be used if their own tomb was desecrated, but the circumstances now demanded otherwise. Besides, Fleuri was sure that it would displease both Armand and Reon to let these tools go unused when a nearby mausoleum was in need of cleansing."Let's see, this looks like the door. There should be a button around here...ah!"
Fleuri pressed a button hidden on the back of the left plinth, causing a stone door to open on the side. The knight reached into the recesses of the cache with one hand, using the other to illuminate the dark space. For all he knew, this might be the first time in a century that it had been opened, and he was curious to see what was within."Let's see, this must be Candlestick, Armand Jodeau's first paladin weapon,"
he announced as he removed a modest-sided arming sword and unsheathed it in front of the others. "He switched to a larger longsword later in his career, which he continued using when he joined the Iron Roses. It looks like it's still in decent condition after all this time."
He wasn't sure if it was a magical effect that kept it pristine, or if members of his house had been secretly maintaining it."Next, this has to be Dawn's Break,"
he said as he pulled out a spiked morningstar, featuring a brass or gold plated head. "When Armand expressed his desire to join the Iron Roses, the Church of Reon requested that he undertake a special mission first- to defeat a black knight who had been riding around a crossroads north of Aimlenn at night, murdering anyone who came along after the sun had set. According to a survivor, the knight had taken a spear right to the throat to no effect, so the church believed he or she was an undead. For this mission, they gifted Armand a blessed morningstar to more effectively combat such a heavily armored foe. They never did learn the knight's identity, though, because in the resulting duel, Armand smashed and scorched their face and armor beyond recognition."
He placed the morningstar and sword on the ground, offering them to the others. He could've used either of them, but was more comfortable with his own sword."Looks like there's also a few vials in here,"
he continued as he pulled out two glass vials full of a clear, colorless liquid. "Must be Reonite holy water. Throw it, or apply it to a sword or arrows, and it should burst into flames on contact. At least for undead that have Reon's ire- I'm sure it'd have no effect on someone like Tyaethe. By itself, not much use against the more powerful forms of undead like vampires, but if you get it on their wounds, it should make it harder to regenerate. I doubt we'll run into anything like that, though- probably just some mindless skeletal remains raised from the mausoleum's sarcophagi. Still, necromancers can be full of surprises, so you can never over-prepare when going up against one."
He attached one vial to his belt for his own use, and placed the other one on the ground."That looks like everything. Let's meet back up with the captain before she reaches the Cazt tomb. And while it goes without saying, I do expect Candlestick and Dawn's Break to be returned to the tomb after we're done tonight."
With that, Fleuri rushed back back to rejoin Fanilly and the others.
The interior of the mausoleum was what Fleuri had expected- shambling, mindless undead. Such dreadful foes might prove somewhat troublesome for the weapons and more easily frayed nerves of ordinary soldiers, but the Iron Roses were no ordinary warriors. Assuming these corpses didn't hide any surprises, this wouldn't take long."For Reon! For the Roses!"
Fleuri shouted as he charged into the tomb. He came to a stop just outside the reach of an undead's axe and swung his sword horizontally, intending to bisect it- and any other undead close enough to get hit- at the waist. He'd probably only get one swing like this in before the confined quarters and the presence of the other charging knights would require him to resort to more careful attacks.
With the battle having begun, they had to dispatch these undead quickly before the conspirators below could have a chance to react. The Nem had given some information on what sort of foes that they'd be facing, and assuming her information was accurate, they'd also have to fight their way through two warriors, a mage, the necromancer himself, and lastly, the fifth man who was a complete mystery. Whatever the case was, Fleuri was certain that these walking corpses would be merely a warm-up compared to whatever lay deeper.@Conscripts@HereComesTheSnow@VitaVitaAR