Campsite, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083

Jaddoc Frayne (placeholder until portrait is selected)

The company marched for an hour or so and made camp. The next morning, bright and sunny, Rurik was looking for a volunteer to go to Anson's village and break the news to the farmer that his cow wasn't coming back. As the company's expert on Flossie, Jaddoc pulled herself to her feet and agreed to go. Grabbing a quick breakfast and filling her water bottle, she set off, telling Inglan with a wave "I should be back in an hour and a half!"

Somewhere else, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083, an hour and a half later

Jaddoc was lost.

She'd been certain she knew how to get to Anson's nameless village, but when she crested her fourth promising-looking rise and looked down into an empty valley, she knew something had gone wrong. A memory surfaced of something someone had once said; head downslope and you'll find running water, like as not. Then head along it and sooner or later you'll find a settlement. This made a deal of sense and she set out to do exactly that. In a tenuous hope of attracting attention with smoke, she lit a torch and carried it high as she walked.

Campsite, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083

Inglan Vorn (placeholder until portrait is selected)

With a couple of free hours post-breakfast, Inglan explored the local countryside for plants of interest. He hoped to pick up some of the herbs he'd read about but not come across, but in this case all he found was more of what he already had, plus some that would be useful in a culinary sense. While out of sight of the others, he tried surreptitiously to replicate what he'd seen Jaddoc achieve with the sorcerous spell of light, but twist his hands as he would, it didn't work. Giving it up, he went and sat with Shadpon the shaman and Kelda, two of the more friendly soldiers in the unit. Shadpon was easily the most skilled worker of battle magic in the Company, and something of an obsessive about all things magical. He had spent quite some time trying to get the half-bloods to tell him some Khylar sorcerous secrets and had never seemed totally convinced when told they didn't know any. Though that answer probably wasn't true any more, Inglan didn't reveal what Jaddoc had achieved; but he was quite happy to go into more detail describing McCormack's magic and Grindle's deformities and the shrunken cows for him.

Somewhere else, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083


Following the winding river along, Jaddoc had chosen to walk on the side bordering grasslands rather than the side seperated from dark woods only by a narrow strip of shingle beach. As she rounded a bend in the river, her eye was caught by a flicker of movement on the other side. It looked like a creature moving - quite a large one - and as well as a suggestion of brown, she had a glimpse of a flash of something purple. Her keen ears picked up the sounds of a large ponderous creature moving through the trees, and something in its' rythmn suggested bear very strongly to her. She swallowed. Big and strong as she was, she didn't fancy her chances against a full-grown bear. Fortunately, the river was 20' wide here, and anything coming out of the forest would have to cross the beach and then swim the river. That would give her some time. Unfortunately, she wasn't at all sure what she would do in that time to prepare to fight a bear. She hurried on, wondering if the village she sought was still there to be found...

Campsite, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083

Rurik Bloodwind wandered over to where Inglan, Shadpon and Kelda were sitting. "Any sign of Jaddoc yet?" he asked, glancing at the position of the sun. The day was wasting and the company was sitting around. Inglan shook his head. "No," he said. "I'll go sit watch for her." Rurik nodded tightly, and Inglan hurried off, hoping she wasn't too much longer.


Anson's Village, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083

Jaddoc's guess had proved good, and her route had taken her to the scrubby little settlement she sought. As she wandered in she attracted some interested glances, as a novelty, but no apprehension; a Cormaran soldier normally meant law and order. The village had a fairly amateurish log palisade around it, not enough to keep out any serious attack but sufficent to keep animals from wandering in. After asking directions a couple of times, she finally located Anson working on his thatching. The farmer's eyes lit with hope at the sight of her, hope which flickered and died as she began to relate the results of the Quest for Flossie.

Despite (or maybe because of!) her attempts at a tactful approach, the news hit Anson hard, and the farmer was weeping on her shoulder for some time thereafter. Eventually he recovered enough to thank her for coming to tell him before trudging disconsolately back into his hut, leaving Jaddoc with a wet shoulder and only the vaguest idea of how to get back to where she'd left Bloodwind's Company.

After some attempts to get directions from the other locals: "This road? Arr, it goez to moi faarm. T'other woay? Oh, arr - it goez awoi from moi faarm.... Whar did you zay you com fraom again?" she set off in what she hoped was the roight, sorry right, direction.

Campsite, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083

Inglan was just tucking some more herbs into his pack - natural sweetners, great in tea - when a rustling in the undergrowth resolved itself into a weary-looking Jaddoc, on whose face appeared such a look of relief that Inglan immediately suspected the true reason for her long absence. However, the tale she told Rurik was of an inconsolable farmer requiring much comforting, and he chose not to challenge it. He did, however, order an immediate start, letting the lack of a breather act as a penalty for her holding them up for so long.

Jaddoc and Inglan slipped to one side rather later, and compared notes on her encounter with a flash of purple and a sound of a bear. "Never seen anything like that before," she said, adding flippantly, "probably drawn down on me by my use of that sorcery." It was meant as a joke, but even as she said the words, a feeling of a correct intuition came over her. The more they thought about it, the more likely this seemed to be as an explanation.

Gulley, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 20th, 1083

Some hours later, the company found itself threading through a gulley in the broken ground between the Talus and Isgrim forests. It had been a dull and quiet day's march, and most of the company were plodding a bit, ready to stop for a break. This made it all the more alarming when a bolt of flame lanced down from the top of the gulley and drove completely through the halberdier Goodwine, killing him instantly. While most of the soldiers were familiar with the Firearrow spell, it was still a shock. "Cover!" bellowed Ingolf and the soldiers scattered. As they did so, a flash of movement was visible atop the cliff as a figure clutching a crossbow rose to a crouch and hurried away. "Jaddoc-Inglan-Karpad - get him!" snapped Rurik.

Cormac the Healer

Unfortunately, the unknown sniper had chosen his spot well. Karpad couldn't find a way up at all; Inglan slipped off twenty feet up and bruised himself badly. For a while Jaddoc made good progress, but near the top the handhold she was relying on broke away and she plunged back to earth, breaking her leg.

At Ingolf's gesture, Cormac the Healer came forward and grudgingly healed both the injured half-bloods, though it was apparent from his attitude that he felt it a waste of his time. "Thank you," said Jaddoc, sincerely enough, as the jagged pain receded and vanished. Cormac's lip curled. "I'm obeying my orders," he muttered savagely, just loudly enough for her to hear, "without them I'd leave you to bleed out!" He stood abruptly and stalked off, leaving Inglan to finish his own healing.

After a more cautious assault on the cliff with ropes had revealed no sign of the sniper, the company gathered around Goodwine's grave while Rurik, and those others who felt inclined, said the words; spoke of the man they'd lost and what he'd meant to them. The half-bloods were noticably quiet. The superstitious Goodwine had taken every opportunity to blame any misfortune or mishap on the ill-fortune caused by the presence of "tainted blood". They were unlikely to miss him much.

Arlan, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 23rd, 1083

Three days later, in the pouring rain, Bloodwind's company marched into the village of Arlan. From what Rurik, Ingolf and a couple of the other experienced soldiers had said, the village's inn - the Broken Harp - was an excellent place to stay with good food and beer. Anticipating these pleasures as well as sleeping under cover for a change, the soldiers were in a bouyant mood as they marched into the village; but it soon became apparent that, in Arlan, All was Not Well.

Gazar, Mayor of Arlan

Squeezed into the inn's common room, the soldiers were steaming as they dried off while dampening their insides with ale - which was quite as good as had been promised. Jaddoc alone was relatively dry, having used some leather looted from McCormack's tower to create a simple umbrella. Was it Flossie's hide? She wasn't sure.

Rurik was in conversation with the town's mayor, one Gazar, who had indeed greeted him with great enthusiasm. The common room was small enough that most of the Company could hear what he had to say, and everyone was interested to see what the problem was.

"I'm glad to see you again, Bloodwind," he said. "Things have not been good here, and we need your kind of help for sure." He took a breath in the manner of a man squaring up to the unpalatable. "Twisted Ones have been attacking our outlying farms." Involuntarily, he glanced at the half-blood soldiers, as did a couple of their own comrades.

Rurik's eyebrows went up. Tales of the Twisted Ones had been brought back by some of the (very few) travellers who had been to Vermar and come back alive. Reputedly created by misuse of Khylar sorcery, the Twisted Ones were hideous, gangrel monsters that had once been men and beasts. However, even the wildest tales had never reported them anywhere other than on Vermar.

"What makes you think so?" he asked, hedging. Gazar paled a little. "The wounds, Rurik. Terrible injuries, no normal animal could inflict!" Rurik sipped his ale. "When was the last attack?" he asked. "Two days ago," said Gazar, "poor Brion Oakapple, savaged to death outside his house. We were going to bury him tomorrow."

Rurik glanced at Cormac, then Inglan. "Tomorrow morning, when it's light, take a look, see what you make of the injuries," he said. See if you can pick up any signs of black sorcery, he didn't say, but it was clear why he had picked the half-blood for the task. Gazar, taking from this that Rurik planned to help out, showed signs of some relief, and called for more drinks for the soldiers - endearing himself to them no little.

Arlan, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 24th, 1083

The next morning, Jaddoc slipped off to the edge of the village and climbed one of the trees nearest the palisade wall surrounding it. Unlike Anson's village's wall, this was quite a serious construction. From her vantage point she kept watch.. for bears. As she did so, she whittled a small whistle from a branch, and with it played quiet, eerie Khylar tones, the atonal wailing dissonant and troubling for humans but rather pleasant and melancholy to her.

Cormac and Inglan quietly opened the door of Brion Oakapple's farmhouse, half a mile outside the palisade, and stepped in. The place was deserted - Oakapple had been unmarried - and it was dim and fusty inside, tainted with the faint tang of death. Inglan opened a couple of window shutters while Cormac lit some of the lamps. A sheeted form was visible laid out on the kitchen table.

Peeling back the sheet, the two saw the body of a robust man in his late thirties, torn and slashed around the head and torso. Great tearing wounds, clearly made by claws rather than weapons. There were defence wounds on his forearms and none on his back - he'd been attacked from the front, fought for his life, and died before he could flee.

Inglan located a mint leaf among his new herbs from three days before, and rubbed it beneath his nose to deaden the smell. He offered it to Cormac, who took it without comment and followed suit. As they examined the corpse, Inglan noted Cormac's usual nasty hostility faded somewhat into a more professional attitude. Hate Inglan as he did, he had respect for the half-blood's herblore and healing experience. They worked quietly, examining carefully, observing that the wounds did not match the claws of any animal with which either man was familiar. Cormac seemed to think of something, and extracted a small wooden spill from his healing kit. With minute delicacy he probed inside a gaping gash in Oakapple's chest, fishing around for a while before lifting the spill free and displaying it to Inglan. Glinting among the blood and bits of flesh were slivers of metal. Weapon wounds showed such traces - but not wounds dealt by animals; or twisted sorcerous mutants either.

When Rurik heard their report, he pondered for a while. Then he looked at the two of them. "Take Nikolos to track, and Jaddoc for another fighter," he said, "see if you can pick up any trail from the farmhouse."

The Cave

It didn't take long before they found, under a tree sheltered from the rain, some tracks; great clawed feet of some kind heading off towards the woods to the east. Nikolos sighted along them, then led the group along, checking every so often to ensure they were still headed the right way. Finally, they emerged into a clearing and Nikolos stopped dead. "Looks like they go into that cave over there," he said in his whining voice, gesturing towards some bushes fifty feet or so ahead. Both he and Cormac stood and looked significantly at the two half-bloods. Jaddoc rolled her eyes. "This means you want us to go first, I take it?" she said with heavy sarcasm. She lit a torch, ignoring the tracker's puzzled look, and the two half-bloods headed towards the cave, Inglan readying his crossbow and sticking his spear in the ground within easy reach.

Her intention was to throw the torch into the darkness, illuminating whatever was in there before they decided what to do. However, when she drew back her arm to throw it, she misjudged the angle, and managed to strike herself on the back of the helmet with it as she threw. A resonant bong rattled her ears as the helmet tipped forward and wedged over her eyes, completely blocking her vison as the torch bounced off to the side of the cave.

"Reveal yourselves!" bellowed Inglan, hoping to make up for the lack of illumination in the target area. He pulled the trigger of his massive crossbow, sending a quarrel lancing into the darkness. The distinctive pock of it hitting a stone surface confirmed he'd not hit anyone; grumbling, he dropped the bow and prepared to cast a spell instead. As he did so, Cormac and Nikolos moved up behind them, both quietly bringing up battle magic in preparation.

With no warning, four javelins came flying out of the cave, aimed at Jaddoc and Inglan. Both were unready - Jaddoc totally so - but fortunately they were poorly-aimed and rattled away into the clearing behind. Jaddoc swore violently as she cleared her vision, rushing through the words of a Protection spell. Inglan reached over to her and added a Fanaticism spell, and suddenly Jaddoc's doubts and hesitation vanished in a tide of aggression. Hefting her khopesh and shield, she lunged forward as Inglan, Cormac and Nikolos ducked sideways into cover.


Fortunately, whoever was inside did not seem to have more javelins; four figures emerged ata run brandishing weapons. Jaddoc saw a flash of green hair from one of them; Meryan, she thought. Bloody bandits! Handing out the maximum possible hurt seemed a great idea, and she added a Fireblade spell before rushing at the green-haired man - whose name may possibly have been Seto Kaiba.

With a single flaming swing she hewed his weapon arm right off, sending it and his short spear spinning away without any blood shed at all. The man staggered away with a shriek as she spun to face the next one. He lunged with his mace, delivering a painful wound.

From behind, Cormac almost casually spun a knife into another bandit, a huge man with a short spear in two hands, while Nikolos added Firearrow to his throw and killed one with a single throw. Inglan by now had hauled his spear out of the ground and readied it; but his opponent dodged out of the way and slashed hard. It was a deadly blow, and Inglan was very glad of his protective magic and armour that kept all but a scratch of it out. He jabbed at the man again but he backed up, parrying furiously.

Jaddoc slashed again, taking an arm off the bandit with a light mace. Two were dead and the survivors had each lost an arm; it was too much for them. The mace thumped to the forest floor, and both men dropped to their knees in surrender. While Nikolos tied them up - not as easy as it sounds with only one arm each - Cormac healed Jaddoc's wounds. "I'm getting fed up with doing this," he growled, despite the fact that healing the soldiers was his purpose in the unit in the first place. Inglan healed the green-haired Meryan's wounds enough to keep him alive. Then he and Jaddoc cautiously entered the cave itself.

Four bedrolls and a scatter of personal gear confirmed that these people had been here for some time; but the soldiers' attention was caught by a heap of strange objects in one corner. Looking closer, they realized it was a pair of boots and a pair of heavy gauntlets, both fitted with large metal claws and covered in dried blood. "I think we've found our monster," said Inglan.

DM Note: Critical Human Lore from Cormac and 00 morale from the Meryan. He'll tell them anything!

An hour later, Rurik and Gazar were gazing down at the two bound, maimed, shocked Meryans, while Cormac unpacked his surgical kit. "Why?" asked Inglan. The green-haired Meryan stared glassily at him. "Why should I tell you?" he spat back. Oddly, Jaddoc started gently weaving the man's hair into bunches, which seemed to disturb him. Rurik's eyes were hard. "Do some damage," he said coldly to Cormac.

Bankos Goldbane

Once the screaming had stopped, the story came tumbling out. A wealthy man from Arlan had paid them to masquerade as a monster, to scare farmers adjoining his land to sell up to him cheap. Oakapple had simply been the example for them to fear. "What was his name?" asked Gazar. "Bankos," groaned the Meryan.

Gazar reacted with shock. "Bankos?!" he gasped. "He's one of our council, the richest man in the village - well-respected. I can't believe it! Describe him!" The Meryan did so, and Gazar slumped. "That's him," he said sadly.

Rurik turned back to the prisoners. "Where are you from?" he asked intently. Despite being broken earlier, it took more pain to drag this out of them; but eventually they revealed the location of the bandit stronghold, a place called Netherlin. Rurik grinned a creamed-cat grin; this was what his whole mission had been to find.

Leaving Gazar to secure the prisoners he sought out the rest of his men. "Ingolf, Kapyr, Jaddoc, Inglan - go arrest this Bankos Goldbane," he said. "Try and get him alive; but don't let him escape."


The rich man's house was quiet as they approached it, no lights visible. With swift gestures, Ingolf directed Kapyr around to watch the back door, then led the rest in through the front. The door was locked, and the crash of it being broken in must have woken everyone in the building.

Quietly and carefully, the soldiers explored the lower floor, finding a parlour, dining room, kitchen and stores, but no people. Leaving Ingolf to guard the front entrance, the two half-Khyle carefully climbed the stairs to the top floor. The stairs opened onto a large lounge, from the windows of which one could look out over the village as if one owned it; a significant clue to the thinking of the house's owner. They headed down the passage to the two bedrooms, and took one each.

Inglan snapped open the door to the room on the left, and was rewarded by a deafening female scream. The room was furnished simply, and the terrified-looking young girl huddled in a corner had maid written all over her face. Inglan held up a hand. "I'm not here to hurt you," he said as reassuringly as he could. Below, he could hear Ingolf's boots pounding as he ran for the stairs.


On the other side, Jaddoc had crashed through into Bankos' room and was face-to-face with the man himself. Clearly, the noise of their entry to the house had given him time to prepare; a faint shimmer of protective magic surrounded him and his broadsword lit the whole room with the flames of a Fireblade. As she advanced on him, she heard him incant another spell, but wasn't quick enough to stop him casting it. For an instant her thoughts slid sideways into disorder, then her head cleared as she threw off the effects of the Befuddle spell. She lashed out with her khopesh and cut a deep wound into his right arm. Swearing, he fumbled his sword into his left and lashed out, but she ducked under the flaming blade as it swung wide. She cut him again, this time across the left leg, and his face became desperate under the sweat. He frantically shifted his heavier blade to block hers as she attacked again, and the two weapons crashed together in a shower of sparks and shards of metal. Jaddoc blinked at her suddenly lighter hand, and realized that it was her sword that had broken. She gazed down at it in shock, knowing that the next thing she felt was likely to be the agony of a Firebladed wound. She braced herself for the pain, but suddenly a gore-coated spearhead tore through the front of Bankos' shirt at belly height. He screamed in pain and dropped his weapon to the carpeted floor, where it continued to burn, setting the carpet to smouldering. Bankos sank to his knees and crumpled, mortally wounded.

Inglan pulled the spear free of Bankos' back, dropped it, and went to tie him up and Heal him before he died from the wound. Meanwhile, Ingolf reached the door, took in the scene, and used a Dispel Magic to extinguish the Fireblade before it burned the house down. Jaddoc was on her knees, slowly picking up the splinters of her trusty khopesh. She was crushed; where would she get another one? As Ingolf pulled the prisoner to his feet, she started weighing up the contents of the room as loot, but the second stopped her. "This house and its' contents belong to the village; let's not embarrass Rurik by stealing from it, shall we?" She shrugged; but as he marched Goldbane out, she quietly snagged a single valuable trinket at random and pocketed it. Weregild for her sword, she reckoned.

Arlan, South of Heldorn, Cormar, June 25th, 1083

The next morning the whole village turned out to watch Bankos Goldbane hang. That done, they dispersed to put their lives back together, coming to terms with the fact that the monsters from outside had actually been less to be feared than the monster within.

Jaddoc sought out the village smith, a man named Cerys. Handing him the shards of the khopesh, she asked if he could make a knife with them, as a keepsake. Looking at her a little strangely, he agreed - "Come back tomorrow with five marks," he said.

Session Date: 17th November 2017