Captain Kenyan gathered together the surviving senior members of the Merchant, Smith, and Woodwright guilds and asked them for their council. They could head to either Westdale or Andor, but neither city was close. Andor was almost 2 weeks away by foot, perhaps even 3, and Westdale farther still. The senior Wright mentioned a ranger’s story he remembered about some caves at the Ebon Bluffs to the north. These could provide temporary shelter and the Captain knew they were only about 4 days to the north, but would provide shelter for maybe half of the survivors as they awaited relief. No matter what they decided, traveling would be slow with a group this size.
Captain Kenyan was awakened to the sounds of screams echoing in the darkness as perimeter campers rushed to the Tower base. Glowing lights had appeared in the city ruins and appeared to slowly be coming closer. An odor of sickness was riding the night breeze along with a hint of sulphur. The Captain acted quickly, ordering her troops to organize the survivors in gathering their supplies and breaking camp. Within the hour the sickly stench was overpowering, but they’d gathered all their provisions and gear and were heading north to the Ebon Bluff caves to await rescue. March to Safety The Ebon Bluff caves were well known to hunters as a place of refuge during fowl weather and only sometimes were they ever inhabited by wandering humanoids.
Upon their arrival the garrison had to dispatch a small tribe of goblins from the area in order to secure the caves and surrounding hills. The caves appeared to be mostly natural but 2 rooms had been carved out long ago and secured with strong iron-bound doors which swung silently on their hinges, implying that perhaps someone had attempted to inhabit them more permanently in some distant past. There were no runes or other carvings to indicate who, though. An underground stream provided plenty of fresh water and hunters provided a steady supply of game from the surrounding forest, and foresters were able to build a number of temporary shelters for those whom the caves provided no shelter.
After 3 weeks no rescue had come so the Captain ordered the construction of a wooden palisade around their camp and sent another 4 guards to Andor to request horses and wagons, and to inform them what had happened at Telreador. The Priests set up an altar in the back of the caves and began to hold regular ceremonies and rituals,beseeching various deities for protection and safety. Another 5 weeks passed and still they’d heard nothing from either Andor or Westdale. Every few days the garrison responded to hunters spotting goblins in the nearby hills. Hunters had also begun reporting unidentified humanoid tracks 2 days to the north but as yet had not seen their source.
By this time a number of survivors had grown weary and impatient with the Captain and had decided to leave the camp and travel to Andor on their own. Being responsible for their safety, the Captain sent 10 of her remaining guards to accompany them to safety. The rest trusted in her leadership and also in the safety of numbers and decided to stay at the caves. The Captain decided to prepare for the worst and instructed that a number of community great-houses be constructed. These would relieve some of the stress on living in the caves and allow for those to be used more for storage and to house the youngest and oldest refugees. As the weather grew cooler the goblin incursions became fewer and eventually stopped. The source of the unidentified tracks had still not been found and their numbers were increasing and been spotted within a day’s walk of the camp.
By the end of autumn and as the first snows of winter began to fall, a relief caravan from Andor finally arrived, bringing foodstuffs and proper tents and other camping supplies sufficient for such a large group. To the Captain’s surprise, but perhaps maybe not by much, many of the villagers decided to stay through winter instead of spending a month or more returning to Andor in the snow. As some of them put it, they weren’t much for “inland cities” anyway, as they called the settled areas away from the wilderness border.
The caravan returned once more by mid-winter with enough supplies to last until first thaw. A few adventurous types from Andor even decided to make the journey and set up camp there as well. The winter passed uneventfully and the refugees grew to know and rely on each other even more. Hunters continued to report the unidentified humanoid tracks but still reported no signs of their makers. As the final snows were melting those who’d remained had already decided to make this a permanent settlement and named it Cabed Mor for the black flint cliffs which had protected them and, in a nearly unanimous vote, they elected the Captain as their village leader.