Campaign of the Month: March 2008
The Nemedian Chronicles
Cuana Chapter 12 Entry 1
I was feeling a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction after our ordeals in Argos. Normally thriving on adventure, I had begun to grow restless and irritable. Even the requisite celebrations following our foiling the plot by the Order of the Golden Skull to place one of their own upon the throne of Argos, felt old and tiresome. I had had enough, and wanted to seek something different to occupy my time and attentions.
My comrades seemed to feel none of this – indeed, they drank, revelled, and caroused as always, often trying to pull me along into the celebration, but I would have none of it. The finest feasts tasted of ash in my mouth, liquor failed to fire my belly, and the ale was flat and tasteless. A dark mood had taken hold of me – a dark mood borne of internal conflict, which I was having trouble resolving.
My race has tremendous disdain for the weaknesses of civilized men. We meet life, its conflicts, and its joys, head-on. We bear the brunt of pain or ill-fortune as men, either dying with honor in doing so, or gaining strength from our resolve. Conversely, so called ‘civilized’ men are soft and weak – they do not have to hunt for food, they seek safety cloistered in shabby huts, and rely upon street patrols run by disinterested magistrates to protect their families. Their meager earnings are confiscatorily taxed by aloof, uncaring, inbred nobility to maintain their opulent palaces and hedonistic lifestyles. Their schools produce individuals who are highly knowledgeable in certain studies, but who are out of touch with reality and sneer down their noses at simple folk who labor to make their living. Garbage, offal, sewage, and animal dung are heaped in the streets and line the gutters, combining to make a stench almost unbearable. The thing most offensive to me is the manner in which civilized men make up for their inherent weaknesses – duplicity. You simply can not trust any of them. They will look you in the eye, give you their word, shake your hand, and the second your back is turned they will sell you out and stick a dagger between your shoulder blades. I have had some honest dealing with a handful of civilized men, but I have no doubt that had they the opportunity to do so, they would have reneged on their part of the agreement.
It was my anger at this type of duplicity which was darkening my mood. One of our group – a Stygian – one of the most untrustworthy bastards I have ever met, had driven me to the point where I was contemplating murder. He had a long history of taking advantage of the weak, even performing sacrificial murders of drunks, beggars, prostitutes, and wastrels for the purpose of gaining personal strength. He had aligned himself as a servant of a demon lord of worms – very appropriate in my opinion, for aside from a Stygian, nothing is lower than a worm – to whom he was now beholdant. The last straw was when a beggar approached us in the streets, and he soundly beat the man, smashing the clay pots the beggar was attempting to sell us. The only thing that stayed my sword arm was that he was a long-time associate of my nordic friend, Tullweim, so I was reluctant to slay him outright. Instead, I decided to leave the group and go out on my own, possibly to return to Aquilonia and seek a position in their military. I spoke with the Norheimer and told him of my decision, and wished both him and the Hyrkanian well.
After several days, I returned to the inn where we had been staying and learned that my comrades had left the day before, heading east toward Shem. The inkeeper told me that the Stygian had left even earlier, apparently bent on some other mission, and was no longer with them. Instead, he told me, that Tullweim and Xacksmith had joined up with another Aesir, and had parted ways with the Stygian. This news changed things dramatically for me. I had spent nearly all my money, and had been having second thoughts about returning to Tarantia, remembering all the trouble that we had caused when last we were there. I could return seeking employment with a King who had beknighted me in the Pictish wilderness, and find myself standing trial for crimes committed when last I was the capitol city. No, I would not return to Tarantia – I decided I would ride after the norseman and the Hyrkanian and see what adventures lay in that direction.
As I rode, I came to a conclusion – I hate Stygians every bit as much as I hate Picts. Woe be to the next one that crosses my path.