A Nasty Dream

Banarva, Northern Tarkesh, Sadric 89 Yoarus 12

Tarkesh Region

It was a bright, cool spring morning in the 89th year of the reign of Emperor Sadric the Eighty-Sixth of Melniboné, and in an unremarkable inn in the harbour-town of Banarva, north on the Tarkeshite coast, three most unusual travellers were discussing the nature of dreams. They were surrounded by the normal human bustle of a busy inn but were indefinably apart from it; for these three were not quite human.

Travellers without choice, all three were exiles from their homeland, the Dragon Isle of Melniboné, wandering through the human nations rather condescendingly named the Young Kingdoms by the ancient people of the Bright Empire after their family's fatal mistake in Melniboné's deadly politics. Their clothing and weapons set them apart, cut in the Melnibonéan style from materials not common outside the island, and rich enough to signify their noble status. All three had the characteristic narrow, fine-featured faces, slanted eyes and upswept, slightly pointed ears of their people.

The man seated in the centre, a short, slender, wiry man with a devious face, spread his hands. "What can I say?" he said, with the air of one who often has to explain himself. "I had a wet dream."The woman sitting to his right drew away slightly. Even smaller than the first speaker, she had long, flowing dark hair and piercingly clear grey eyes, rimmed as ever in midnight black. A massive two-handed sword, scabbarded in purple leather, leaned against her chair,appearing far too big for her slim arms to wield. Although she didn't look at her cousin Fredyr with quite the distaste she reserved for the men among the humans in the inn, she did not appear impressed. Across the table, a tall, broad-shouldered man with his hair shaven into a top-knot and a sleepy-looking Shazaarian eagle perched on the back of the chair next to him smiled slightly. "I suspect, Kira," Malvyr said patiently, "that he means watery."

DM Note: See the Front Page for details of Lord Straasha's dream.

It emerged that all three had had the same dream, an ominous vision clearly arising from more than their own subconsious. The ancient pacts and alliances between the nobility of Melniboné and the Elemental Lords worked to the benefit of both, and the friendship of Lord Straasha had been of assistance to all of them in the past. Besides, some sort of diversion was necessary to alieviate the boredom of what the humans regarded as 'normal life'; black magic tainting the oceans sounded potentially interesting.

They had, moreover, a lead; by pure chance a conversation in the taproom the previous evening had included a ship captain who was coasting northward; and after Nio, his next stop was Vornskold. Fredyr and Malvyr recalled from their conversation that the man had described Vornskold as a bit of a flyspeck, but a good place to trade metal-goods for top-quality northern fish and occasionaly whale ivory. He'd described it as a three-day trip, from which they reckoned it was probably a five-day ride by land. After a bit of debate, they decided against sea travel and set out overland.

Demon Horse

Malvyr was mounted on his demon horse Antimio, but the others had only normal mounts and they progressed at a normal pace through the course of the first day. Malvyr made sure to exercise his eagle, while the others discussed the possibilities ahead of them.

Towards sundown, as they approached a stretch of forest, a band of humans mounted on the small but scrappy local horses rode suddenly out from cover and charged towards the travellers, waving weapons and shouting threateningly. Malvyr rose in his stirrups. "Desist, peasants, or die!" he called, but the bandits, feeling three-to-one odds enough of.an advantage, came on. "Leave your valuables and leave, and you may live," responded the rather camp leader, and the three Melnibonéans resigned themselves to the encounter.

Malvyr kicked his demon horse to a speed roughly approximate to an organic horse's gallop, swinging his bow into his hand as he did so. Delaying his shot until he had closed within range, he nocked, drew and loosed twice. Justly feared in the Young Kingdoms, the Melnibonéan bone bow was a lethally powerful weapon, and his first shot shattered the knee of a poorly-dressed swordsman, who lost his seat and fell from his horse to crash heavily to the grass. His second arrow wounded another bandit as the two groups converged at a gallop. Fredyr also loosed arrows, though his bow was sorcerously treated, greatly worsening the wounds it inflicted. His first shot was at the man Malvyr had wounded; the man twisted out of its path only at the cost of falling from his horse. His second arrow struck a brawny fellow with a heavy spear couched like a lance. The magic of the bow took hold and the man lost control of his limbs, rolling stiffly out of the saddle to be trampled by the man riding behind him. Kira drew her huge sword easily, whirling it around her head with both hands as she rode full-tilt at the camp leader.

Greatsword of Crushing

She and Malvyr rode up on opposite sides of the camp leader almost simultaneously and both struck with heavy two-handed weapons as the man attacked the older Melnibonéan. The bandit's sword slipped under Malvyr's guard but skated harmlessly off his demonbound armour. The topknotted warrior attacked in response, his massive axe crashing into the bandit's side and biting deep, emitting a blinding flash which blinded his victim into the bargain. Blood flowed, and the man reeled in his saddle as Kira attacked him from the other side, disdaining defence as she beat down his blade and hewed his left arm off at the shoulder. The bandit toppled off his horse as the pair rode on past and turned towards the rest of the raiders. 

Behind them, Fredyr had swung clear of the battle. Direct combat was not to his taste and unlike any of the others he had no hand to hand weapon with a demon bound to it; his preferred weapon was the Melnibonéan bone bow and he had a rather nasty creature of Chaos fused with his. His first arrow took the spearman just behind the camp leader in the face, catapulting his corpse over the cruppers, and his second struck a swordsman with sufficient force to send him sprawling on the grass as his horse ran wild. 

Malvyr turned from the leader just in time to meet a strike from another swordsman. Fending off his attack he struck with the axe, severing his foe's sword arm at the wrist. Kira swung to face a new opponent, this one sporting an arrow in his leg courtesy of Fredyr, and struck at him. Her first blow was mistimed and had no effect, and he managed to lift his sword to block the second. With a scream of steel, her demonbound greatsword sheared clear through the weapon, ripped through his boiled leather breastplate like paper and buried itself deep in his chest. As he toppled from the saddle, the morale of the remaining two bandits failed and they spun their horses to flee. 

Fredyr selected an axeman and loosed an arrow at him; the point barely dug into the man's brigandine armour and he contemptously pulled it out, snapped  it, and threw it away. Pausing to do so, however, was a mistake, as Fredyr's second arrow struck him squarely in the forehead with such hell-driven force that his entire head exploded in a shower of bone, blood and brains. The last man fled, whipping his horse to a gallop to try to get out of range, but the slight Melnibonéan took careful aim and shot him in the back, bringing him down as he neared the safety of the trees. 

Kira lowered her blood-covered sword, and glanced casually around at the surviving wounded bandits. I need a sentient virgin for a summoning sacrifice, she thought, some of these are ugly enough to be virgins, though some might doubt their sentience... As she mused, however, Malvyr walked his demon horse across the battlefield, deliberately stepping on the wounded and crushing the life out of them with all the off-handed, casual cruelty that had made the Bright Empire feared for more than ten thousand years... 

Session Date: 21st March 2012