Friday, 13 July 2018

Tale of the Wandering Slayer chapter 2: An unexpected encounter.

When we join our Wanderer again a few more days have passed. He has yet to see a single human, but thankfully no more beasts or magical fiends either.


He is certain that he must be getting closer to where someone might have settled, since the dunes have been growing smaller as rocky outcrops and vegetation more frequent. Thank the gods for small favors!

As the Slayer gets closer to a rocky hill, he hears the unmistakable sounds of men arguing and the braying of a beast of burden. Have he finally found some civilization?

Sneaking up the hill to peer over the top he sees a group of rough-looking thugs surrounding a merchant and his guards. The exact words of the conversation is hard to make out, but the intent of the rogues is clear enough. He sneaks closer yet, trying to hear more clearly.

"But I have already paid your chief Zarbossa. My caravan is protected by agreement." The merchant puffs up his chest in an attempt to look more authorative.
"I'm afraid that we have had a change of leadership. Zarbossa is no longer leading us. As such, you need to pay me to ensure your safety and that of your goods, of course."
The leader of the bandits shifts to but his hand on the pommel of his sword, sunlight glinting off the copper-colored scales of his armor.

"This is an outrage! You cannot do this! Besides I have no more coin to pay you with, it's all tied up in my wares." The merchant huffs after his outburst, his face nearly as purple as his jacket.
"Then we'll just have to take what you have." The mirth is gone from the bandits voice, replaced with a dangerous edge like that of a thunderstorm suddenly rolling in were before there was not a cloud.

As they watch each other warily, one of his bodyguards notice more bandits trying to sneak up on them from beind and cries out: "Filthy dogs! You would sneak up on us,sword in hand while we parley with your chief?!"

Meanwhile the hawk-eyed merchant spot our Wanderer as he sneaks across the desert floor behind the bandits line. Recognizing his armor as that of a Slayer, he cries out: "Master Slayer, help us drive off these curs and you will be rewarded! I swear it!"  

As their master entreats with the Slayer, his guards are quick to act on the momentary distraction. Bahn strides towards the sneaks intending to stab him in the back and with a mighty swing from his curved sword he nearly splits the bandit in twain!

Wasting no time, the merchant runs to the pack-mule and starts rummaging for something. Meanwhile Gahn, brother of Bahn and the merchants other guard, starts toward the bandit's leader.
Sparks fly as their blades meet, but as they clash again and again the bandit manages to score a deep cut on the guards naked chest, causing Gahn to cry out in pain.

A trio of bandits just behind their leader run towards the meleƩ. The unexpected start of the fighting causes them to give pause for a split second, but they have the numbers. Two join their boss to surround the wounded guard while one makes for the pack animal, hoping to secure the loot before the animal is scared off or the merchant flees on it!

Our wanderer find himself in a bit of a bind. He has no reason or obligation to save the merchant as they have no contract, but the bandits are likely to attack him in any case. The merchant did promise a reward for helping him and the cowardly rogues are likely to run off as soon as a few of them fall in either case. Might as well get paid for it.

Decision made, the Slayer runs around a rock to attack the bandits from a better angle. Too late the closest bandit hear his steps, and he is dealt a crippling wound as he turns to face his attacker.

Continuing their deadly dance, the bandit leader strikes again and again, driving the already wounded Gahn to his knees. With a savage kick the guard is knocked out and the copper-mailed brute charges towards his brother, sword held high.

 Bahn fights on, knocking back every attempt by the second sneak to gut him.  His attention occupied, he doesn't notice the charging bandit leader until the last second. A deep gash opens up in his back even though he tries to jump out of the way of the edge of the blade as it sings through the air.

Turning to toward the Slayer and charging, the remaining bandit close to avenge his wounded comrade. But his blade is easily turned by the trained Slayer, who spent countless days and nights training to fight mighty beasts. With his attacker off balance, he simply runs the bandit through, letting his lifeblood drain into the sands.

As the merchant's guard falls senseless, the yellow-capped bandits run to help stop the merchant from fleeing. When the first one reach for his arm, the merchant swings around with a wicked-looking dagger. Before the rogue knows what hit him, he falls dead to the ground, his heart pierced by the dagger.

 With murder in his eyes and curses flying off his tongue, the bandit comes at the merchant. In his anger he swings and misses, wincing and yelping as he recives a deep cut from the dagger that just killed his fellow rogue. With his back turned to the last of the trio, the merchant never sees the blows that knocks him senseless.

Already wounded, the second bandit proves no challenge to our wanderer and he soon joins his comrades.

Even before the body hits the ground, the Slayer is moving again. Soon he clashes with the leader of these lowly curs. While certainly a more competent fighter than his underlings, the bandit boss is instantly on the defensive, barely dodging the murderous stabs from our hero's spear.
A lucky strike slides the blade along the inside of the rogue's arm, causing him to cry out and drop his blade. With this his fate is sealed, when less than breath passes before the Slayer expertly drives his blade through the boss' skull, slaying him instantly.

Distracted by his superior's defeat, the sneak fighting Bahn fails to deflect his flashing blade and has his chest slashed open, dropping him to the ground.


This was the final straw for the remaining pair of bandits, who promptly flee. The Slayer starts as if to give chase, but a shout from Bahn stops him in his tracks.
"Let them run master Slayer. We must tend to my master and my brother!" He exclaims.

Both turn out to be lucky, having received fairly light wounds. After some bandages and poultices have been administered, their patience is soon rewarded as both men regain their senses, sore but most definitely alive.

"I thank you master Slayer. Your timing was most fortuitous! I fear we would not have made it out with our lives if not for your intervention." The merchant winces visibly as he shifts around, trying without success to find a less uncomfortable position.
He continues:
"My name is Miklos, a humble merchant. I, along with Bahn and Gahn here (he gestures to the two brother guardsmen) were traveling back to our home, a small town near here called Biru Kutha."

The Slayer regarded Miklos. It was a stroke of luck that he happened to know the way to a nearby town. Maybe he could find some clues to the ancient ruins there?
"Hail and well met Miklos the merchant, I am Emerik the Slayer. You mentioned a reward for your rescue if I am not mistaken?"

"Yes, you speak true master Slayer. Alas I carry no coin as all is invested in the merchandise on this pack-mule." Miklos sheepishly indicates the beast behind him.

It's laden with a whole host of goods, from food and drink to arms and armor. Emerik is surprised the beast can stand, nevermind move, with such a load.

"I feared as much. No matter, I could use a few nights in a bed after this time on the road." the Slayer admitted to the merchant's party.

"It's only a short bit away, if you follow us." Gahn and Bahn say in unison, indicating that the wanderer should follow them.
 
Some time later, as the sun begings to dip, the party in within reach of the walls of Biru Kutha.

"It's not a great city just yet, but gods willing (the merchant kisses a medallion before replacing it in his robes) this will be a jewel of the desert!"
"Any civilized village would have done at this point." Emerik answered.
"This is not just any town my friend, but I might be biased, having helped found it! You will stay in my house as a guest for as long as you need and I shall repay you as soon as I am able, of course."
"Very generous of you, merchant Miklos." Emerik says, somewhat distracted. He finds it peculiar that the gates look unguarded and he can't see any townfolk about. It reminds him more of an abandoned village than a bustling small town. Maybe they are wary of strangers..

As they get closer, he notice the guards and Miklos seem concerned as well.

"Where are all the people? Is this common for this town? " Emerik finally asks. "No, it most definitely is not. Come, we must see the priest, he can no doubt tell me what has transpired since we left!"


What happened to the people? Where is the town guard? What happened in Biru Kutha?

Til next time!


PS.

During the last part of the battle, as the bandits fled a rare sight: One of the titanic desert guardians decided to lounge just where Emerik had come through.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Tale of the Wandering Slayer chapter 1.


Many days and nights he had wandered the dunes, seeking some traces of civilization. His water was running low and thirst soon accompanied the murderous rays of the desert sun.

Towards the end of yet another day of the endless dunes and rocks, the Slayer thought he saw some green in the endless sea of sand. He tempered his joy, for this was not the first time he'd been fooled by the mirages. 

Dressed in garb and a steel armor of a make seldom found among the locals, it's clear to anyone that the Slayer is from the west. His fair skin and overly thick garments also betray that this is not a man nativ to these lands.
The tools of his trade makes it clear that his is a violent path and he had the scars to prove it.  

Wiping the sweat from his brow and stepping up onto the rocks, the wanderer squints towards the greenery around the oasis. 

When the palms and glittering pool doesn't fade like others before had, he lets out a sigh of relief. The oasis looks to be real!

Almost falling into the pool, the cool water is a balm to the stricken wanderer. His thirst slaked and waterskin refilled, food is where his thoughts turn to next. Luckily the palms seem to have some dates left, a welcome addition to the bland but nutritious rations common among travelers. 

With a full belly our Slayer lays out his bedroll and tend to the small fire. The second bedroll is a spare, someplace for his gear while he rests and as a decoy, have saved him more than once when bandits have had less than honorable intentions. The Slayer turn in for the night, unwilling to brave the cold desert winds after several hard days march.

Early the next morning, in the pre-dawn gloom.

 An inhuman chittering and scratching amongst the rocks around his camp awakes the wanderer. With practiced ease he jumps to his feet, slipping into his armor before grabbing his weapons and shield.

Mere seconds have passed since he awoke, but already some of the giant creatures come skittering into view.
Scorpions! But not just any regular beasts, no! For reasons unknown to men, these arachnids have grown to be several feet long and deadlier than their smaller counterparts.

The Slayer is sure he can hear more than the two monstrous creatures in front of him, but taking action is his blood. With bounding leaps he closes the distance, swinging his spear to cleave one of the monsters with a murderous stroke and spins a full revolution, so great was the force of his swing.

The remaining scorpion hisses as it readied it's stinger and raises the massive claws. Our wanderer's spear flashes again however, pinning the giant insect against the rock before it can strike.


Soon another pair of arachnids come rushing into view while a second pair came rushing from behind the rock where he made camp.

Again he rushes to meet them, but the damnable beasts are not as simple as they appear! The thick carapace helps deflect what would have been a killing blow as the beast skitters to the side at just the right moment.
Overextended, the Slayer couldn't block the stinger from the other scorpion. Screaming out in pain, blood flows freely from the piercing wound.

Leaping back onto a rock to escape further stings, the wanderer felt the noose tightening as the giant beasts close in on him. 

Running along the rock, our Slayer jumps to land behind a fiend separated from the pack. Surprising it, he manages to skewer the beast before it can turn to face him.

Relentlessly pursuing their next meal, the scorpions soon have our hero surrounded again. Blocking and slashing left and right, the Slayer keeps the arachnids at bay for a while. But finally a scorpion clamping on the shield with a claw and locking it down, the wanderer is unable to keep the fiends from stabbing and cutting him with their stingers and razor-sharp claws. 

"Argh!" With a scream of rage and pain, our hero slash and pierce one of the offending beast, sending it's vile green blood flying in all directions.

Feeling the wounds taking their toll, the Slayer swing his spear in a wide arc to force the remaining fiends back. With some breathing space, he backs off with the shield raised and spear at the ready.

The fight having taken it's toll, the wanderer decides to take a chance. To improve his odds, he changes his grip and throws his spear with a grunt at one of the wounded beasts. The heavy spear isn't balanced for throwing but fortune smiles on him as it sinks deep into the sand, pinning the monstrous insect.

A single foe remain. He draws his blade and await it. With a vicious downward stroke the Slayer shows why he is so aptly called. The bisected parts of the creature falls at his feet, dead before it hits the ground!

The final combat roll. Slayer's are the red dice. 

Bruised and bloodied, the Slayer tends to his wounds. Bathing in the clear water of the oasis, he feels refreshed, if still a bit tender. Before collecting his things he has a quick meal, taking the opportunity to roast some of the arachnids. One should never pass up fresh meat, after all. 

As he sets out to continue his journey, someone is watching him from afar. 


Who is the mysterious stranger? Is he somehow involved with the attack on our wandering Slayer?

And just what is the Slayer seeking in the central deserts?

Til next time!

Monday, 9 July 2018

Foul bandits and terrible beasts

Before I could start the Tale of the Wandering Slayer, I needed a few more pieces.

Since my AA order arrived I have been painting and fixing, getting ready to play the first part of the story.




First we have some giant scorpions. How these oversized arachnids grew to such size is not known, but they plague many parts of the deserts. Deceptively stealthy for their size, many a traveller have met their end by the claws or stinger of the beasts.

With a bandit standing in for scale, you get a real sense of who unpleasant it would be to face such a creature.

Wherever wealth and opportunity arises, conflict is inevitable. Bandits are a ever-present threat along the rich trade routes and long unguarded streches of roads thoughout the central deserts. 

These bandits are no different. Thieves, desertes and other outlaws, they band together in loose groups to take whatever coin and goods they can until they are caught or fall to infighting.

Leading the band is usually the most ruthless and deadly among the group. Fear and brutality is the tools that keeps his fellows in check and as long as they coin and drink keep flowing he stays on top. If fortune was ever to desert him, it won't take the rest of the band long to replace him.

Under the boss is usually a right-hand man. These rogues are usually loyal to the boss personally, more often then not being friends or former subordinates from whatever life they sought to escape. His stern hand enforces the bosses rule.





 The rest of the band is comprised of all manner of rogues, cutpurses and outlaws. Poorly armed and often without any armor, the danger comes not from might or strenght in arms but their desperate ferocity like that of a starving wolf. The description is apt, as many of the outlaws are underfed and mangy unless they happen to belong to a successful band.

The scorpions and bandits will allow me to play out the first few tales I had in mind and I will add more beasts and men as the story progresses.

Til next time!