1212 RE-- Undead Raid on Little Loughton
Date: 14 November, 1212
Outcome: near-destruction of the City of Little Loughton
Parties: Ghost-Ship of Gauntish raiders led by a Captain Halfdan, Athral and ethnic Gauntish subjects in Little Loughton
Little Loughton is perhaps the smallest city in the Athral Isle that can still be called a city, and thus merit a mention on most maps. This has largely to do with its thriving fishing business, which has kept the town surviving, and the populace - Athrals and Gauntish alike - reasonably comfortable with each other. More so, at least, than the rest of the island. The subjects of the city have found, by and large, that the common language of commerce (as well as being a harbor suited to at least some traffic from the Hulder, typically ships on their way to Seastone Deeps) keeps everyone understanding each other. This tranquility was shattered, on the evening of 14 November, according to the tales of those who survived the incident.
The most consistent versions of the tale hold that, just after sunset, a dark-hulled longship appeared suddenly out of the heavy fog, moving faster than any natural ship could sail. This was soon followed by horrible, unearthly noises, and the shouts and shield-rattling of raiders as they poured forth onto the docks.
The stories say that the unlucky ones closest to the harbor were taken completely by surprise, and their cries were abruptly cut short before anyone could say what was going on. One of the Gauntish survivors(1) reported that they mostly looked like what they sounded like - Gauntish raiders come for loot and spoils - but were strange in their color and movements, stretched and bloated, as if they had been held under the sea until drowned by something clawed and strangling. Accompanying them were several horrible, foam- and sea-weed dripping scags (sea-trolls); drowned-looking women with long, raking claws and awful, shrieking voices; and worst of all, a storm drake which ravaged the lower docks and several of the fishing ships in the harbor. The terrified townsfolk, by reports, could do little but hide, or flee the city and head inland.
They say that a few of the townsfolk remained to try to fight the monsters, but most of these were surely killed. An Athral native(2) claims to have sent two of the deathly raiders back into the sea with a broken oar, and then slain one of the scags with a fallen cutlass. He says that he finally escaped with the aid of one of the Athral-born Gauntish(3), whose band of fellows were all killed fighting the Storm Drake that she finally slew, though as the innkeep who passed this tale along reports, she was certainly scarred enough to have done so, and he claims to have seen the severed head of the beast which she brought into Tanalassa as proof. All of the survivors told similar tales: that the raiders called their ghostly captain Halfdan, a terrible brute of a man, swollen with the sea, his features twisted by a terrible, burning hatred. An older Athral who lived by the harbor said that he saw the Captain come directly into his house, and he passed him by to stalk directly to the room where his son and daughter-in-law lay sleeping, and murdered them both in their beds, before they could so much as scream. He tried to stop the slaughter, but Halfdan merely shook him off, knocking him to the ground with a single blow, where he fell unconscious. When he woke, the whole town was a weeping, empty mass, and every pair of lovers in the city that had not managed to make it inland were dead.
Another tale held that the sea-hags and raiders in specific went from house to house, murdering the inhabitants and eating their bones, and taking all of the jewelry and valuables, crowing that it was "For the Mistress! For our beautiful Mistress!"
Over the past few weeks, the story has begun to seep out through the survivors to the taverns and travellers throughout the Isle, Gaunt, and the Principalities, though it is only in the last week or so that the story has been confirmed: a ship from the Hulder, the Silver Slipper, stopping in Little Loughton found a barren, all-but-abandoned city, still gray from the ashes of the funeral pyres and burned buildings. What few living that had not left in the days after the massacre were ashen-faced and hollow-eyed, walking as if half-ghosts themselves. They refused to leave the city, saying that they must make offerings to the Mistress of the Sea lest she send her terrible servant to wreak worse havoc elsewhere in the Isles.
The Silver Slipper did not stay the evening in the harbor, but made immediately for Seastone Deeps, to pass the truth of the story along.