Remainer of _Year 1_ through End of _Year 2_
You guys go through the first year of school doing what most students do. You go to the basic classes on things like combat training and tactics. It’s been obvious to your battlemasters that you work well together (or perhaps you don’t work as well with others, both generally seem to be true statements) so you’re generally grouped together when you do things. Similarly Deamis and Wenda are usually grouped up with their friends. Also during this first year, it’s obvious that something is stirring up the evil races in the mountains. Some of the more outlying villages and work camps are being attacked, a couple you’ve heard have even been wiped out. You see groups of 2nd and 3rd year students and battlemasters frequently going out to help with the situations. The infirmary at the school is getting frequent use. It’s possible to heal most students of all their wounds but the school has recently taken the stance that injuries should be naturally healed from when not life-threatening so that you can all learn to deal with pain and injury. Many of the healing inclined students spend time in the infirmary treating injured. If you’ve taken a rank in healing then you’ve also spent significant time in the infirmary.
At the end of the second year, you guys go back to your families for a couple months for the end of year break. This happens in late summer and ends in fall. You come back to school in time for the first truly cold months. This time is uneventful for most of you, although, Norbert returns home to find out that problems are happening for his homeland as well. Tsyra would have the choice of going to see her parents if she wanted but chances are they won’t want to see her so she’ll either stay at the school or perhaps stay with someone else.
Second year ratchets up the training. No longer do you guys skirmish with each other. You’re assigned duties throughout Gerult. These are generally safer assignments and a battlemaster generally accompanies you, but not always. On one such mission you were sent unaccompanied to a hamlet a couple days ride from the school. The village specializes in agriculture and is widely known for it’s fine cheeses. Reports said the town was being overran by packs of what appeared to be rabid animals at night. The first few times it happened, many people were infected and several children were lost into the woods the animals returned to. By the time you arrive, several of the infected townspeople have died of their infections, only two have recovered, many remain sick. There have been few new infections as the town has taken to not going out after dark. The first night you chose to try and confront the animals in hopes of just clearing them out. You were caught completely unprepared for the sheer numbers. The townspeople informed you that the animals have never appeared in those numbers before and several of you get the feeling that there is more to these attacks than just some infected animals. Luckily on that first night you had Norbert’s and Lily’s health potions, which were the only thing that allowed you all to recover enough from your initial wounds to make it to and subsequently take cover in an abandoned building for the rest of the night. No one else came to your aid out of fear and panic. The next day Elias gave an impassioned speech to the town’s leaders. He pointed out the town’s problems were more than just the animals, something evil was afoot, and a few mere students were insufficient to accomplish the task without the townsfolk’s help.
Embarrassed by such heroics from a few adolescents barely out of childhood, the people rallied to your cause and the next couple days were spent preparing the town while taking cover at night. Meanwhile Fyrne was able to send off a message for Battlemistress Jenna Till to come your aid. The final evening after preparations were complete, and having not heard back from Jenna, you went ahead with your plan. This consisted of barricading much of the town to funnel any attacking animals into the town square, using yourselves as bait. You were able to successfully lure the rabid beasts into pens set up in the square, but Fyrne’s badger was dragged down and succumbed to its wounds. Fyrne, despite being overcome with grief for her badger, still convinces the townspeople, and the rest of you, that the animals need not be slaughtered and that you should wait for Jenna’s word.
The next day Jenna arrived, and she brought Jeremy with her. The two agreed with Fyrne that the animals were under some kind of mind control and could be saved. As a test Jenna and Jeremy rid a couple animals and townspeople of their afflictions. The animals returned to the wild behaving normally and the cured townspeople begin to recover from their sickness. Jenna has a strong sense that there is a source behind the sickness and felt that if she and Jeremy destroyed it the people and animals could recover. They task you guys with administering to the sick townspeople to prevent any more deaths as well as keeping an eye out for any more animals while they’re gone.
Unfortunately, not even a full day after Jenna and Jeremy leave, wounds that Lily, Tsyra, Norbert, and Elias suffered from the animals on the first night begin to swell up. This is despite having been healed and the four soon become feverish. It becomes obvious to Fyrne that they are succumbing to the same sickness as people in the town who have been bitten and with no one healthy left in the village with the expertise to help her, she soon becomes overwhelmed trying to care for everyone. Luckily Norbert recovers from the sickness on his own before anyone else dies of the sickness and helps Fyrne. With his help, the two are enough to keep the remaining sick people stable.
Three days after Jeremy and Jenna left the village, the penned animals begin to behave normally again and those people that are sick began to recover. That night no sick animals wandered into the village. Five days after they left, Jeremy and Jenna returned to the village accompanied by Tabitha. They came to you guys and explained they had tracked down some undead creature in the woods that was responsible for infecting all the wildlife with some kind of disease. They were obviously uncomfortable with what they’d found. When pressed they explained that the undead creature felt foreign to this world, not as if it was from another plane or something like that, but more like it had been removed from whence it came, as if it had lost that which awarded it undeath. And yet it continued to survive. The creature was described to you by Jeremy as a ghastly monstrous female form whose insides were more on its outside than the other way around. Tabitha added that it had been corrupting the woodland creatures, perhaps continuing to exist using the life forces brought to it by the animals it had infected. Once infected these creatures tended to hide during the day, but then wander at night forming groups and searching out the living. Anything they brought down was dragged back to the creature for her to feed on. This is how Jeremy finally tracked it down. The thing that most disturbed the three battlemasters wasn’t so much that this beast had been found in the woods, but instead that Tabitha revealed she could sense it was under the control of an even more powerful entity. When asked about what that entity might be, they offered nothing more.
For the rest of the second year, you were provided no further clues as to the identity or source of this controlling entity, but evidence of its existence was obvious to you guys. It was also obvious that this evidence was being hidden from the other students. In fact, this information was being actively suppressed as was made obvious when shortly after returning to the school from the infected hamlet, the school’s Rector, Teirnus Drayborn, came to you guys in your dorm one night. He met privately with the five of you plus Gilbert Sanbahg, the other roommate in the boys’ room who couldn’t help but overhear you guys talk about the incident after you returned. Teirnus asked that you please keep the matter to yourselves and not share it with anyone outside this group, even your own parents. He instructed you also not to mention it to any other battlemasters other than Jeremy, Tabitha, Jenna, or Sarvus.