Campaign of the Month: March 2008
The Nemedian Chronicles
Dhak Chapter 8 Entry 7
A small blazed burned in one of the storage rooms… instinctively I knew this to be a distraction. Our foe had the initiative and was doubtless poised to outmaneuver us. As swiftly as the asp strikes must the counter-stroke follow, and without delay I grasped for the Heart in one hand and the red scarf in the other. More valuable than every last jem and jewel looted from his home was this simple garment, for it provided the sorcerous contagion necessary to curse its owner. I channeled the dark forces of the Heart in search of its most onerous of hexes and set it upon Galbro the Zingaran. The ensorcelment well nigh laid me low as I was not sufficiently prepared for the exertion, but even as I collapsed against the wall drenched with sweat the fatigue could not suppress my grin. For even though I had sacrificed some degree of vitality I knew the spell was successful and felt the heady rush that accompanies a sorcerous triumph. The sweetest of lotus dreams, the most debauched of Derketo's festivals – they are but shadows to its few fleeting moments.
The dark euphoria faded, as always leaving me wanting more, and I staggered out into the hall. The sounds of commotion grew, from outside, from above, and I moved to the stairs. Xacksmith entered from the street, his sword wet with fresh blood, and we saw Cuana backing down the stairs.
I could clearly hear them moving down the stairs, and the voice that could only be Galbro's. They were aware of Cuana but not us. The Hyrkanian melted away and I moved behind one of Timeon's plush divans. From my hiding-space behind the Divan I would be well protected. My years with the Turanian mercenaries had instilled a strong instinct of self-preservation, and though I was largely miserable throughout them, I was now thankful for the skills they had taught young Dhakometri. Interesting. They had somehow subdued or surprised the Aesir brute and had him at sword-point, commanding him to lead them to the urn. Closer they came, until merely a few hards hither, when the tension was shattered by Tullwiem's shout "1,000 silver for Galbro's head!" immediately followed by the commencement of an all-out melee.
I was amused at the Tullweim's clumsy attempt at manipulation. The barbarian's heart is bold and brave, and has little understanding of the fear that lurks in the hearts of civilized men. And it was fear, not greed, that ultimately compelled Galbro's men. I will coach him on this later.
Galbro and his two men sprang about, trying to avoid being hemmed in by Tullweim and Cuana as Xacksmith and several of our mercenaries closing in. As the serpent from a bowl I rose up with drawn bow and arrow after arrow. Tullweim fell as another guard was cut down but I stayed focused on the Zingaran, knowing he must be disabled. He was no doubt a dangerous fighter but too often his blade missed the mark or he missed his step, and his eyes shook with the fear of an unknown and inexplicable power damning him. As he swayed on his feet after a succession of blows I sent a final arrow grazing his throat, and he collapsed with a bloody cough. Their leader felled, his two 'best' quickly followed.
I stepped over the gutted corpse of one of the wolves to check the Nordheimer. He was bloodied and bruised, but still breathing as Cuana tended to him. His wounds would have finished a Bossonian knight, yet I wasn't particularly concerned. Tullweim's capacity for physical punishment has long been his greatest ally. I can only hope to one day be, in my own way, as fiendishly difficult to kill.
Upstairs we discovered the lifeless body of Tullwiem's slave wench. Ah. Galbro had leveraged his weakness for the girl. Impressive. Her face, still beautiful, wore a serene mask. She must have believed to the end the barbarian would save her. Lady Julia was nowhere to be found. Evidently her own nemesis the Red Hawk saw fit to seize her and her handmaiden as we battled Galbro.
In the cellar the captives had been bound and hung from their feet as I had instructed. The real work would begin. After sacrificing the henchmen for their life-force I was fully prepared to do the same to Galbro. He offered to freely divulge his knowledge – if we let him go. For reasons uknown I suddenly fealt weary of the killing and thought of letting Galbro live was almost an amusement. He would be weak against me for considerable time still. And, most importantly, Timeon would be infuriated. I realized at that moment that Galbro was Timeon's enemy, not mine. We were only forced against each other as I was serving in Timeon's employ. I felt sickened, and inwardly vowed Timeon would die in due time.
I agreed to let him go, and convinced the others. Galbro would leave the city and likely the country if at all means possible to avoid retribution from his patron. Timeon flew into a rage and ordered him killed. It was indescribably satisfying to look at him and reply "I cannot. I gave my word".
The Baron flew into a rage and had to be pulled off Galbro, cursing and swearing, as I laughed. Galbro would not die to satisfy Timeon tonight. We untied him and Cuana led the defeated Zingaran out of the manor. Lastly I interrogated the man Xacksmith captured outside for his pittance of knowledge about the Red Hawk, and summarily dispatched him.