The Rise of the Black Company
Croaker, Silent and One Eye leave Bastion early this morning. They intend to climb the hill to the Necropolitan and investigate the tomb of this tomb of the Forvalaca. They force some of the locals to guide them there, though it takes much convincing. They return late in the day.
They report in with the Captain and the other officers. I am summoned and told to listen. I stand in the back of the room anxious to hear what they found. Croaker spins a tale of innumerable bodies of Urban Cohorts. All of them are ripped asunder, limbs torn off. Each of them however is without blood. No blood to be seen anywhere. The hair on my neck stands on end. The room is silent but for Croakers voice. The fire crackles and I nearly jump out of my skin. They believe that at least two of these beasts are lose within the city. I return to my squad and share what I have heard with my men. I speak in hushed tones and share only the facts of what was told. I don’t need these men losing focus and jumping at shadows. They need to stay sharp and alert. I give orders for daylight watches and have them move their gear to the same barrack. We need to stay close and tight, protect each other’s backs. This is an elite squad and they deal with this as expected. They are disciplined and follow my orders without question. I have a lot of work to fill Mercy’s boots.
News that the Jeweled city of Opal has been conquered by unknown aggressors. I am summoned to the officer’s mess. All of the officers and Croaker are present already. Captain asks Croaker about Mercys condition and whether or not he will pull thru. I am told by the Captain that with Mercy being out of commission that I am in charge of the 4th. The envoy we saw was from the North. The officers discuss options in regards how to play this situation. The Syndic storms into the mess hall and makes a scene. He is furious that we withdrew into the Bastion rather than fight. The captain tries to reason with the Syndic. The Syndic looks like he hasn’t slept and is wrought with fear and anxiety. The two of them bicker over conditions of our contract. Croaker produces a copy of the contract and the three of them begin to bicker even further. The Syndic tries to weasel clauses and stretch the language to force us the potentially fight against the Legate from the Northlands.
Lieutenant arrives early in the morning and orders me to assemble the squad for immediate move out. We are to escort the Wizards to the Necropolitan Hill to conduct their investigation. I am to awaken Croaker to accompany us as well. He doesn’t argue or grumble much more than normal. He makes an attempt at provoking me but I shut him down with a nasty retort. He gets his ass moving when he realizes he is not going to win. Three of the four company wizards will be in our protective charge as we make our move thru the city. I send Vulture to the company provisioner to collect some extra bandages and medical supplies. Gods know we will probably need them if the rumors of conditions in the city are true.
After and short and uneventful trek thru the city, we arrive at the tomb littered him with no trouble. The door to the tomb was a massive oaken creation.
The remnants of it remaining are inscribed with all manner of runes and symbols. All are strange and alien in appearance.
The door is a shadow of what it once was. It has char marks and signs of heavy impact on its center. It hangs loosely from its hinges, partly open but still bars direct line of sight into the tomb. The magicians gather together and begin invoking and gesturing in some ritual. Croaker mumbles, “Why don’t they just open the fucking door.” Not one of the wizards stops us as Fits and Scratch move to open the door at Croakers provocation. As the great door falls to the sides of the entry, Tom Tom rushes in with a high pitched squeak. He starts sneezing and coughing from inside the crypt. It would appear that nothing has killed him so it must be relatively safe inside.
At Croakers orders, I move my squad inside the dark tomb. I pause in the doorway to light a torch from my pack. No one else seems to be bothered by the dark of the tomb, but I like to be prepared. Bones are everywhere, literally. The floor of the chamber is not visible but carpeted in a layer of bones and dust. The bones are old and white. Whatever creature was in here, organized them in some methodical manner known only to their twisted mind. Some piles are high enough to reach my waist. How many bodies were in this room? I cannot begin to guess at the amount. As if sharing my thoughts, Mumbles whispers to me that he thinks about 50 bodies worth of bones are here. He also notes that though the majority of these bones are human, not all of them. Some of this collection is made of the bones of something similar to a man but longer and stranger in shape. Mumbles tries to explain to me the subtle and not so subtle differences using a leg bone he picks up from the floor. There are fresh bodies here that Croaker and Tom Tom point out. From the colors of the bloody clothes clinging to the torn corpse, they must have been the Urban Cohorts. Seems they did indeed break into this tomb. Though I doubt they found the treasure they sought. Miserable wretches the lot of them. Dying like this must have been agonizing and brutal. Not a fitting end for a fighting man, being the dinner for some foul creature. For these fucking Cohorts, I couldn’t have prescribed a nicer end. See you in hell fuckers.
Croaker and Mumbles drag one of the bodies outside and into the sunlight. It has been eviscerated, its guts and innards hanging out. Some of the organs appear to have been eaten and there is a noticeable lack of blood on or around the body. A closer examination shows the same is true of all the bodies. All the lifeblood has been drained. Tom Tom speaks in hush tones about the vampiric nature of the creatures bound in this tomb. Inside the tomb, the reek of rotting flesh is overpowering in the tight space. It becomes increasingly difficult not to lose my stomach. I can hear Croaker gag aloud between words as he examines the bodies.
Mumbles joins Croaker, and the two physicians begin a closer examination of the body they hauled out. They speak aloud their observations as they do a field dissection of the corpse. The wounds are deliberate and calculated. The wounds were struck by a creature with cat like claws or fangs. They want to look over another corpse to compare the wounds. They pull another into the sunlight. This one is split from groin to gullet. The heart and liver are missing in addition to all its blood.
Goblin and Silent go inside and come out with more information. “54 of these creatures were sealed inside here originally,” Goblin says. Tom Tom seems a bit shaken. His voice wavers when he speaks. He makes an interesting observation. “That means this one was the nastiest of the bunch. Slaying and eating on its own kind to survive all these years.”
Croaker starts asking questions of Goblin and Tom Tom who apparently have knowledge and perhaps past history in dealing with its kind. The beast originates from the deep jungles of the south. It is almost impossible to slay by mundane or magical means. Often they are buried alive as a best option since they are so difficult to slay. The beast is a thing known as a “wereleopard”, a shapeshifter. It is a man like creature by day to all appearances. By night, a leopard or cat of epic proportions. The one that was set free from here was an ancient female, filled with years of rage and anger. Undoubtedly a mean bitch from all the bodies and bones left in here wake.
Their teacher, a being named N’Gamo was a powerful wizard. He faced one of these beasts once and could not slay it. The creature was only a juvenile and it took several limbs from their master and he still failed to slay it. N’Gamo was more powerful than any wizard in our company, and that means our wizards stand even less of a chance.
Mumbles takes out of the many bottles and containers he carries with him. He begins to collect some bone samples, mostly fingers for purposes unknown. Inspired by Mumbles activities, Fits takes a hand as souvenir. He smiles as he puts it into his pouch.
We escort our charges back to the Bastion fortress where they can make their reports to the officers. The Syndic and Captain are still exchanging heated words. This dispute will not end well nor any time soon. Listening to this Syndic it becomes obvious the man is both a fool and a coward.
This morning the city has taken on a much different appearance. From the top of the tower parapet, it looks barren and abandoned. The citizens are hiding in fear, trying wait out the chaos. Only hunger drives them out into the streets. We bide our time inside the Bastion fortress, waiting for orders. Some of the men seem anxious to face this beast that stalks the city. I don’t think they know what it is they are wishing for. I keep myself occupied and busy, caring for armor and ensuring my men do the same. I assign watches for both day and night, including the barracks. It cannot hurt to be prepared for any situation, and I hate surprises. During the night, Mumbles does his “ethereal” scouting while in his dream state. He sees the creature feeding on a family of six. The monster likes to feed on live prey, devouring their organs and blood as they lay dying. It strikes quickly crippling its victims by hamstringing them so they cannot flee. It changes its shape into this giant leopard during the night. During the hours of the early morning, he sees her change shape into a middle aged woman. She is in her mid 30s, haggard and with stringy hair. It would seem logical to me that if we are to be forced to combat her, we would want to do so during the day while she is in her human form.
Upon receiving this information, I take Mumbles to the Lieutenant for debriefing. The Lieutenant summons Croaker via Candy to meet us in the officer’s mess.
We are to meet up with the Captain to make a report. Croaker and Candy arrive a few moments later. Mumbles makes his report to the assemblage. He describes in detail the attacks of last night. The creature is very strong, knocking a full grown man 10’ across a room with a single swipe. It was feeding within the Groan.
I suggest tracking the beasts’ movements to determine a feeding area and pathing. Perhaps we can use this information to funnel it or force it in a certain direction.
The Captain asks Mumbles to try and teach the other mages this type of magic he has used for scouting at night. Mumbles says that he will try to do so at the soonest opportunity. The other officers seem very pleased and impressed with Mumbles efforts overall.
The Captain orders me to summon the rest of the officers for an immediate follow up meeting. I stop by and give my men a quick rundown of the situation before reporting back. I tell them to get their shit wired tight and ready for any immediate move out.
The Urban Cohorts number about 5-6k in total and might move on us at any time. I return to the meeting with the other officers in the mess hall.
The Captain speaks…
“Beryl is demanding a new Syndic. Every faction is asking for our support. We don’t die for lost causes.”
Croaker protests in honor of the tradition of the contract and reputation of the company. This is a matter of survival though from the Captains perspective. The Captain shuts him down, but he demands to speak as is his right as a free soldier. Croaker recounts the darkest history of the company. He stops short of finishing his story as if realizing something. He pauses and then makes a final comment is that we find a legitimate loop hole and he will go along with the company. We need to find an out from our contract.
The obvious out is the elimination of the man holding our contract. If an assassin were to slay the Syndic we would be released from our bond. Tom Tom stays behind as the rest of us are dismissed. The captain says he has a special job for the drum wielding mage.
The city is struck with a strong storm tonight. Rain washes the city, cleaning some of the blood and signs of distress from the streets. Mumbles goes out on one of his night time scouting missions again. He finds nothing of use or any sight of the creature during the course of the entire night.
We are summoned by the lieutenant to accompany Croaker, LT, Tom Tom and Silent out of the Bastion into the city again. We are on a diplomatic mission directed by the Captain and on behalf of the company. LT lets me know that he is along only to keep Tom Tom in check, this is my command. I set up our marching formation and we head out. We are heading to the coast, via the Groan. I give orders for out scouts to be on the lookout for that bitch. We move on the alert, ready for trouble. There are still Urban Cohorts roaming the city and those dumb shits might muster enough courage to strike at us.
One of the scouts calls out. Seems we are being paralleled from side streets. Armed men from both sides. These might be some of the armed men that were accompanying that Legate of the North. The ones that arrived aboard that devils ship. They appear to be maneuvering for flanking. I call out to the LT that we are in threat. Weapons are drawn, but I warn my men not to attack unless they are given orders. We don’t need to provoke another enemy in our current situation. We reach another intersection, but this one is barren. Not a soul is in sight anywhere. I smell a trap. They show themselves, but they do not appear to be the northerners. They definitely are looking for blood. We will be happy to give it to them. I give the nod to the men, signaling that we are to spill blood here.
These men are well armed and appear organized. They don’t say a word but immediately engage us. They charge straight in, a big bull of a man at their lead. Fits is the first to be attacked and receives a nasty wound from the big man who is wielding a battle axe. The rest rush forward and attack our front ranks, comprised of myself, Scratch and Fits. A few blow thru our front line and immediately beset our mages. Silent is beset by two of them at once. Six and Creeper and caught by two of them in the rear as well. They fire hurriedly as they are rushed, but their attacks are off the mark. Six is swung at but the fool’s blade goes wide against the nimble scout.
Within seconds we are completely engulfed in the melee. They have swarmed us and I am beset from all sides. Vulture performs an incredibly agile tumbling maneuver to move to a flanking position behind the one on Silent. Scratch turns to attack the one on Silent and slays him outright with two successive blows. He falls to the ground the side of his face a mashed mess. I swing my blade into the one assailing me and strike a gaping wound on his chest. He staggers but does not fall.
The LT lets out a roar and moves into action. He runs full charge and leaps thru a window to engage two inside a house. As he lands he cleaves the one on his left in half with his greatsword.
Croaker moves to a flanking position with Six and stabs the one on the archer. Tom Tom hits a foe with his palm, from which an explosion erupts and the struck foe flies back 15’ burning and dead. Silent makes sudden gestures, mouthing words and produces a dagger. He has something in his hand. It has hair on it, but I cannot see it clearly.
Fits strikes his foe again, the biggest of the bunch. He stands but took a massive blow from the berserking Fits. Silent is struck again. A deep cut, he drops to his knee but regains his feet quickly. Vulture moves to a flanking position again. He swings again but misses wide. LT dispatches the other one that he was engaging. He quickly moves out from the house and into a flanking position with the Fits.
Tom tom begins chanting aloud.
Silents dagger begins to glow and he impales his foe under the jaw and up thru his head. There is a wet scream and he falls gurgling to the street.
Creeper manages to hit his assailant. Its not a deep blow but it bleeds and the man lets out a yelp of pain.
Fits now flanking with the LT, roars out and delivers the death blow to the big guy. He yells obscenities and stomps his feet in the thrill of the kill.
One of the few left standing tries to flee. The LT takes a long sweeping attack with his great sword and splits his guts wide open. As he falls to the street, his innards spill out like a brothy stew.
The two remaining throw down their weapons. Vulture holds a blade to the throat of the one in front of us. Scratch holds a sickle to his gut. I put the point of my sword in his chest. I say, “Give me a fucking reason.” LT responds shrugging, “Only need one.” I tell Vulture, “Do him.” I lock gaze with the man as Vulture slashes his throat. I am sprayed with hot blood as he slashes an artery.
There is one left standing in the rear between Croaker and Six. LT shouts for them to keep him alive. There is a dejected look in the eyes of Six and Creeper as they comply.
I order the hands of the remaining prisoner to be bound. I tell Vulture to search the bodies for any evidence or information that might be of use. All evidence points to these men being sent by “Blues”. I report what my men find to the LT. He tells us to split the coin we find amongst ourselves. The gear these men have is of good quality. I have the men police up the equipment and see what we can make use of. This gear can be used to refit some of our men and possibly upgrade some of our existing squads weapons.
The LT takes me aside and tell me that we did a good job. He pats my shoulder approvingly. I reply, “Thank you sir. I have good men.”
Greatsword of Exceptional Quality. (19-20×3 Crit). Goes to Fist per my order. Leather wrapped hilt. Plain looking hilt. The blade is in beautiful condition. “Deadly Greatsword”. Longsword of Exceptional Quality. (+1 to initiative). Goes to Bastard per my order. “Balanced Longsword”
Mumbles writes in blood on one of the adjacent walls the word “Looters”. That might create a distraction and possible dissuade some from bad behavior if they could fucking read. I guess this is one of the situations where I just look him, nod and smile. We pile the bodies and leave them there for an example to others. LT is pissed and wants to let these “Blues” know that we did this. He throws his Black Company symbol on top of the bodies as we move out. Let them know who did this. They will think twice before fucking with my crew again.
We continue on to the docks where we meet up with some smugglers that Tom Tom and One Eye have befriended. They would seem to be gambling buddies of theirs.
We head out on their boat towards the black ship.
LT makes comment on the seaworthiness of the massive devil ship. Someone questions his knowledge of ship building and he reveals that he used to serve as a cabin boy in his youth. Apparently this ship is the destination of our diplomatic mission. We climb aboard the ship via a rope ladder lowered.
A junior officer steps forward and leads Silent, Tom Tom and Croaker down below. The rest of us wait on deck with the LT, exchanging measuring glares with the ships crew. Tension is palpable. They lot of them appear to be well armed and disciplined. These are elite fighters. It would be a tough fight getting off here alive. The LT is tensed for a fight if need be as we wait on the deck of the ship for their return. A few minutes pass and the others return from below decks looking disturbed. They don’t say what transpired and no one dares ask.
As we head back to the Bastion fortress, Croaker takes off on his own claiming a mission for the Captain. Silent starts hanging back and takes off on his own shortly after. I look to the LT not voicing the question, but he nods as if to answer me. Taking the hint, I mind my business and keep my troops moving. We reach the relative safety of the Bastion and return to our barracks.
Later In the afternoon, approaching early evening we are serving our duty shift on the wall. Croaker returns and heads directly for the Captains quarters. In the distance, hundreds of torches can be seen approaching Bastion thru the city. I send Creeper of to alert the rest of men on the wall to ready arms. Along the way he sends another to alert the Captain of what comes.
Just before they reach the gate, we can make them out to be civilians. An angry mob set for blood and we are the target. Among those in their lead, they carry a battering ram. All the other officers, including the Captain arrive at the gates. The Captain makes ready to repel a siege. He orders pots of boiling water brought to the top of the parapets. I break out my much unused crossbow and ready a bolt.
LT standing next to me gives me a nudge and a smirk as he strings his short bow. The Captain yells out “Light ‘em up!”
A writhing mass of unarmed and unarmored civilians lay below us yelling and trying to be brave. I fire off a bolt into the mass and somehow miss badly. I need to practice with this thing damned thing. Creeper shouts out that hears something breaking down below. “Haul ass!” I shout. Fits grabs an impromptu weapon, a barrel of water, and hurls it off the parapet at a run. The barrel crushes several people in the crowd with a loud crunch. Mumbles lets out a muffled shout of glee as he hurls a bolt from his crossbow and hits a target. Creeper starts running down the stairs to investigate the noise he heard. Vulture and Six continue to fire off volleys and drop people in the crowd.
Fits laughs maniacally and climbs on the wall of the tower. He drops his trousers and pisses onto the crowd all the while cackling. Crazy son of a bitch.
I drop my crossbow, cursing the fucking thing. I head towards the gate in the chance that they break thru. I draw my new blade anxious to test its metal in battle. I think I might give this thing a name if it serves well. Perhaps “Bitch”, “Glutton”, “Mercy”, or maybe even “Reaver”. Funny the shit that goes thru your mind before a battle.
On the fly, I hatch a plan with Mumbles. He is going to create an illusion of the second portcullis. I am going to throw oil down on the ground behind the illusion, spraying it as far past the second gate as I can manage. When the fools break thru the first gate, I will light their asses up. That should dissuade them and ruin their battering ram. I head off into the Bastion stores in search of a barrel of oil. Creeper prepares torches so he can ignite the oil at the opportune moment. I return with a barrel full of oil and prepare to coat the area with what will be thier death. Mumbles starts quibbling with Creeper over who gets the honor of igniting the oil. I shout out for the two of them to work that shit out and be ready on my word. The first gate gives a massive crack as their ram almost brings it down. Up above Scratch has tied a rope onto a bolt and launched it into the battering ram. He pulls the rope as they swing back he draws up slack to limit their momentum. Seeing the plan that Mumbles and I are hatching, Candy, Elmo and the fourth sergeant begin to run and grab barrels of oil. This should be a blazing inferno with their help.
The twang of arrows and bolts being loosed is a symphony from above. Each twang followed by a shriek or scream from outside the Bastion.
Mumbles makes observation that these people should have given up by now. We are slaying them with little effort and the streets are becoming quickly littered with fresh corpses. Something is propelling them forward in their attack against us. Perhaps something magical is at work here. Whatever it may be, it is not natural for people to fight so furiously despite the horrible odds.
Mumbles warns me that his illusion will only hold for a few more seconds. We need to back out of sight so they don’t hesitate to move forward into the trap. Mumbles mutters that he is going to lure them forward with another illusion of the second gate going up. He snickers in glee at his own devious plan. I can’t help but get caught up in his laughter. Sick fucker, I admit he is quickly becoming one of my favorites in this crew.
As he begins his magic casting, there is a massive crash as the mob breaks down the outer gate. The mob presses forward closing in on the inner gate. I move back from the gate, attempting to bait the trap. The illusion goes off and the trap is baited. The mob presses forward into the second gate thinking that the way is open. I scream. “BURN THOSE MOTHER FUCKERS!!!!” Creeper shoves his torch thru the murder hole just inside the first gate. WHOOOM! The oil on the ground bursts into a roaring flame. Screams of horror and agony sound from inside the gateway. Men are consumed in flame and flop and roll screaming on the ground engulfed in the fire. At the same moment, Mumbles ends his illusion. The men not yet caught in the fire, but trapped by the second gate see Mumbles torch in hand. With a twisted smile on his face, he drops the torch thru the gate. The men trapped inside are instantly lit ablaze. They scream and twist in agony unable to escape from the death. I roar in laughter at the fools as they die. How dare they think they can best the Black Company?! Burn you rotten sons of bitches.
The mob breaks and flees beyond the flames. Whatever propelled cannot best the death that we visited upon them.
As the battle dies down, the officers collect at the gate. The Captain asks whose idea it was to carry out that plan. I respond by pointing at Mumbles, whom I find is pointing right back at me. “Well played men,” he says.
Candy nods and says, “He acknowledges that he made a good decision with you.” I thank him and the other officers as they rally around me and Mumbles commending our actions.
Mumbles smiles and seems almost aglow in the firelight cast from the burning gateway. The accolades go on for some time. Not used the attention I try to handle it appropriately, saying thank you and shaking hands or saluting as appropriate.
Mumbles reminds me to let the Captain know about his observation that the crowd should have broken long before the fire broke out. Shortly after the battle, as the fire dies out, Candy departs the fortress with a document case in hand. He moves thru the gateway as we take a body count and clear the dead. In all we slew over two hundred civilians. Many of those in the fires of the gateway. At least a hundred men fell there in just a few seconds. Archers above slew the others, another hundred for sure.
That night, rumors spread thru the barracks that a plague might be running loose in the city. People say that it might be caused by the Forvalaka. They say that’s what Croaker was out looking into. The plague has been originating from the Groan and spreading rampantly from there. No one is to enter the city unless under specific order from here on out. The source is as yet unknown, but it does seem to move in the same way that the Forvalaka.
Late that night, some of the men are playing Tonk with One-Eye in the barracks. One-Eye is pretty loaded by the time midnight rolls around. Mumbles goes to sleep and does his usual night time scouting. I sit nearby and hone my blade as he does so. I like to keep an eye on him as he goes out at night. With all that is going on, I can’t afford to lose my wizard and friend. Six is on watch on the tower with Croaker. Something moves in the darkness nearby. Something black and big fluidly leaps on the wall and disappears into the courtyard. A black leopard like creature has leapt up atop the tower and entered the Bastion. The two of them book it downstairs and split up in different directions. Six bursts into the barracks where we are. “ITS HERE!!” he shouts. “THE CREATURE IS HERE!”
One-Eye shouts drunkenly but sobering quickly, “Shut that fucking door!” I awaken Mumbles. Everyone is armored and armed quickly. One-Eye waits several minutes before, “Open it now! Quick, quick!”. The door is opened to admit Tom-Tom and several others. We decide to all move to the Captains barracks to sound the alarm.
Tom Tom beats on the door until we are admitted. We all crowd inside and Tom Tom speaks in a panic, “The man leopard is in the Bastion!”
One-Eye asks Captain, “What are we going to do?”
Tom Tom responds still panicked, “Weapons are of little avail. Sorcery is better.”
It is apparent that the Captain has had enough, it is time for us to take action.
Screams of terror come from the Syndics home in the Paper Tower. With only one way in and out, The Paper tower must have become a slaughterhouse with this thing running rampant and unchecked. The sounds of dying would seem to support that theory.
The Captain armors and arms. He orders the LT to summon men, especially good Halberdiers. Goblin is visibly afraid too, but speaks with some knowledge. Listening to the wizards conversing amongst themselves, have spoken of this eventuality before. They have a rudimentary plan of attack for their thaumaturgy.
In the courtyard outside, the mages all conspire and cast a spell. An orb of light appears, casting an illuminating blue light and sparks ahead of the group as we move.
The Captain orders Match’s squad in the tower first. Poor bastards are the fucking bait.
We follow shortly after, entering into the antechamber of the tower. LT and Captain don’t seem shaken at all by the situation. They are brave men. They are without fear.
Captain orders Matches men further into the tower, and we follow close behind the bait. We move room by room thru the tower, sealing the rooms behind us. Tom Tom and One Eye start chattering like cowards that “we all will die”. The Captain silences that shit quick with a wicked glare. Their nonsense does nothing to help the moral of men already scared.
We find the first body at the foot of the stairs. The body is slashed at the throat, stomach torn open. Blood is everywhere. That’s not its usual methods. Something strange is afoot here.
Fits and I take up Halberds and move first at the lead of our unit. In the next room, blood and pieces of bodies are everywhere. The scene of gore is vile, beyond anything I have ever seen or imagined. My stomach churns begging to be purged, but I master it. Vulture and Scratch vomit noisily on the floor. Great now it reeks of death and puke in here. I barely continue to contain my stomach. When Vulture vomits, he is forced to remove his mask and clean it. For a moment his face is visible in the dim light. His face and neck are heavily scarred from burns. Now I am going to puke for sure. I look away trying not to retch.
This creature is not feeding. This is pure butchery in here. Something doesn’t feel right about this.
LT leaves in a hurry, saying “Captain, I am getting the rest of the company. This thing is not getting away.” He rushes out from the tower to summon the support.
A loud growl comes from above, as if taunting us to come get it. There are no more screams. There are no more victims to be had by the monster. This is pure destruction. No one person has been consumed in the slightest. This evil bitch is hate killing.
The wizards huddle and begin composing some spell. They warn that the bitch is lying in wait for us ahead. Croaker asks if we should be using silver weapons to kill her. Tom Tom shuts him down with a sarcastic rebuttal. “Croaker, you kill it just like anything else. You just have to do it really fucking fast.” I mind my mouth and hold my Halberd steady braced on the floor. I hold my ground next to Fits. My senses are alert beyond anything I have ever felt. My adrenaline and blood race thru my body. I am ready for this bitch. Let her come.
I start to talk out loud, quiet at first but building over time.
“Bring it you fucking bitch. Let’s fucking do this. Bring it you mother fucker…” Like a mantra, I chant it to keep myself focus and ready. Fight the fear back with the words. I look over at Fits and nod. “Let this bitch come.”
Something moves in the dark. Someone dies. There must have been a survivor hiding up here. No longer though, she found her prey.
Something streaks across just beyond our vision. Arrows and bolts are loosed into the darkness. They miss whatever it was. Men curse in frustration.
From the darkness, the beast leaps over our halberds. Like a patch of the darkness she is among our ranks.
One thought penetrates my thoughts…Be fast, kill this fucker fast or we all die.
The black leopard is massive beast, about the size of a horse. She is muscular beyond belief and deadly quick. Her eyes glow red like coals in a fire. Its fangs are the size of my forearms. I alone am not caught unawares by this sneaky cunt. As she leaps I swipe at her with my halberd. She takes my halberd in her ass as I cleave deep into her shanks. Dark blood oozes from the wound. “Foul bitch!” I cry as my blow strikes.
The Captain charges forward preparing to engage the beast. He is armed with a single longsword and no shield.
Fits shouts and hammers the beast with his halberd. He strikes an incredible blow into its back leg clean to the bone. The creature shrieks in rage as its leg almost crumples under its own weight. Gore oozes from its wounds and it appears hampered from the crippling blow. She is nowhere near ready to drop, but we have moved her closer to the path to death.
Creeper plunks an arrow into her back where it sticks. The bitch can bleed, that means we can kill her.
I shout out, “IF SHE CAN BLEED, THEN SHE CAN DIE! KILL THIS FUCKING WHORE!!!!” I strike her again with my halberd. A massive wound opens on her haunch. The halberd goes deep; the blade takes some wrenching to get free.
Six fires an arrow into her, striking her in the skull right behind the ear.
The whore turns on me and rakes me with her claws. The wounds are bad and bleed and burn. From my neck down across my chest and down to my belt are ripped open.
The Captain joins the fray and smites her with his longsword bellowing as his steel bites. Fits strikes her again with his halberd and opens another gushing wound. She fights on seeming to get more enraged, or perhaps scared that we might give her a mortal death.
Creeper looses an arrow, but it goes wide as she remaneuvers herself on me.
I drop my halberd and draw sword and board. I wield my new blade as I face this monster. It strikes true and slashes another wound on her. Not as vicious a wound as a halberd might strike, but it bleeds. She has a red smile across her forehead from my strike. I have yet to miss this whore, and she takes note.
Magical fire erupts from the direction of the wizards. It flies like a bolt into the leopard bitch and she shrieks in agony.
In a flash she breaks from me and attacks the mages. As she flees from me, I swipe her again with my blade. The Captain and Fits strike out at the speeding beast as well.
She instantly upon Tom Tom. She strikes in frenzy upon him and he falls to the drop in a shower of blood.
Fits rushes forward berserkly chasing the cat into the collection of mages. He continues to rain blows down upon the beast. Another gash opens on her back and thick ichor oozes over her pelt. Mumbles is rocked by the cat and staggers under her powerful attacks. We must get this beast before she slays all our mages.
I rush forward and grab Tom Tom from under Scratch’s feet and pull him back from the beast. His throat is ripped and a massive wound is open on his chest. Despite that he is still alive and fighting for breath. I pull him back about ten feet and make a fumbling attempt at bandaging him.
Mumbles clutches his wounded chest and moves back from the cat.
The bitch swipes One Eye and knocks him back ten feet, then turns and smacks Silent over the rail. Silent falls over the rail to the stairway and out of sight, without a sound. She closes on Mumbles. This bitch has a hard on for those mages. They must have really hurt her with that magic.
Fits is still swinging wildly flailing but missing. I charge forward and slash her flanks again as she prepares to assail Mumbles again. Mumbles falls to the ground dead just before she strikes him. My blows get her attention and she strikes out at me, a glancing blow but it hurts. She turns coiling to leap. I rip her a wicked cut as she springs over the rail and out the door. She has fled from us. Cowardly bitch, face your death at my hand.
The Captain yells out to those below, “She’s coming!” Croaker quickly switches rolls and begins attending the wounded. Mumbles regains his feet and appears wounded but not dead. He was feigning to fool the beast before she delivered the death blow to him. It is a relief to see him not dead, and I tell him so. Tom Tom appears done for. His wounds are too grievious. Most of his blood is on the walls and floor, and it’s amazing he survives at all.
Croaker attends my wounds and bandages them as best he can. They will scar though, no doubts about that. Three long cuts starting at the underside of my left ear, down my neck, across my chest diagonally down my stomach to my belt. If nothing else they will be scary to look at. I will need to have Mumbles tend these lest that shit get infected from some magical poison in her claws.
As Croaker tends my wounds, I take a moment to survey the room. There is a large stone strong box in the corner. There are claw boxes all over the box. The forvalaka wanted something that was in there. Elmo breaks open the box and inside are all manner of finery, with a man sucking his thumb laying atop. Someone mutters, “The Syndic…” The LT bursts into the room, “She never came down!”
As I gaze back over at the chest, I see that it is now closed. Match is sitting atop its lid cleaning his nails with his dagger. A few of my squad start commenting on taking the chest and its contents. Seeing the look in Match’s eyes, I yell for my men to get back on point and mind their business. The Syndic won’t be breathing much longer, but it wont be the Forvalaka that slays him.
Scratch says, “I guess we are out of a job now.” I smile and respond, “At least today was pay day.” Everyone shares a chuckle that momentarily breaks the tension.
Creeper starts piling up the bodies of the dead. Vulture does his specialty and searches the corpses that Creeper piles up.
Captain shouts from the hallway for us to search the tower, the beast might have gone up. The blood trail goes down two levels and out a window. From the window the trail goes up the wall. Someone suggests we continue to track it.
The Captain belays that order and says, “We are no longer employed here. We are immediately evacuating Beryl.” I have a feeling this was his plan all along.
Scratch moves to pick up the chest with Fits, but Match intercedes. “There is nothing we need in that chest. Get your shit and get the fuck out.”
I yell at my men to mind their business and get their shit moving. I whisper to Vulture, “We don’t need to get mixed up in this crap.” He nods assent.
Someone reports in to the Captain that the Legate of the North is at the docks offloading troops from the black ship.
We pack up in a hurry. It takes about 2-3 hours to get the wounded and gear onto wagons. Our convoy sets out towards the Gate of Dawn, which we reach uneventfully a little before midnight. Reaching the gate the Captain calls a halt and signals me to get the men in fighting ranks. I call for ranks of 5×5 with weapons out. We are close to the Rubbish Gates and the barracks of the Urban Cohorts. So, the Captain means to pay back these fuckers for their treachery. We are not to do murder tonight, but reckon our differences with these dogs.
Orders are given and our platoon along with 2 others moves silently into the barracks of the Urban Cohorts. We are told to put them all down, not in so many words, but we know the drill. I use hand signals to my men to be quiet and drawn my finger across my throat. They know what we are doing here and they get to the grisly work of it. This action tonight is for Mercy and we all know it. LT comes in as we are moving through. He orders us up to the top of the tower to deal with the officers. We reach a massive door that is locked. I order Vulture forward where he deftly picks the lock and opens the door. It swings open silently and he turns to look at me, eyes smiling. I nod at him and mouth “good job”. As we move into the chamber filled with fifty sleeping officers, my armor makes some noise and a few stir from sleep. We need to put them down quickly before they raise an alarm. Vulture glides forward and decapitates one of them skillfully, holding the head aloft and I imagine grinning behind his mask. Six blasts an arrow through the head of one as he stirs. He doesn’t even get the chance to open his eyes as he is laid back to rest. Sweet dreams fucker.
Scratch caves in the skull of another rising sleeper. The only sound is a sickening crunch of bone.
I step up and impale mine thru his sternum and out his back. His eyes open wide and lock with mine as I smile and wish him a swift trip to hell.
Fits cleaves the last one in half right across his chest. Fits leans over the bed, touching noses with the man, laughing soundlessly. With the last of these slain, we make quick work of the sleepers. Mumbles is in almost in a frenzy as he runs bed to bed slashing throats. He takes more lives than all of us in that room with his blade. Vulture searches the bodies and room as we do the wet work.
All told, we 175 of the brotherhood have destroyed nearly 3000 people this night. Even the heartiest of us have had enough of spilling blood for awhile.
For certain is the fact that no one will forget us here. Here is an example for all time, to those who would consider betraying us.
We leave the city in the early hours of the morn, as dawn creeps up.
Our caravan heads towards a lighthouse on a place called the Pillar of Anguish. It is called the Pillar of Anguish from the sound the wind makes there.
This day is spent at the lighthouse. In the afternoon a ship, a coaster, appears on the horizon. The ship has a close call with some rocks, but corrects its course.
The ship is of the smuggler friends of Tom Tom and One Eyes. One Eyes doesn’t relate what they talked about, but we continue to wait.
The Legate from the North is with them. Orders begin to be sent out.
Boats land on the shore. We sit waiting on the shore for our turn to head out on the boats. From out to sea a howl resembling that of the Forvalaka is heard. There is a disagreement on the shore between Croaker, the Captain and One Eye. One Eye seems to be resisting going on the boat, but he is tossed into the boat by the Captain.
We reach the ship still hearing the howls, but no one on deck appears to be disturbed or reacting other than us.
Near the main mast of the ship is a massive cage. Inside is a black leopard, then it shimmers and becomes a woman. She paces the cage testing the bars of the cage. One Eye tries to leap of the ship but is subdued. He stares panicked at the creature that slew his brother. Croaker and the Captain stay near him to keep him in check.
The Legate arrives on deck as we stand in presentation. The Legate moves face to face with each man, and seems to measure them wordlessly.
Each of us is pinned with a pendant with the Skull on a Jet field with Burning Eyes. The symbol is just like the one on the sail.
The Legate, still garbed in all black and a full mask, speaks after all are pinned, “Welcome to the service of the Lady.” The forvalaka howls and rages in its cage again. That is the only sound on deck. None of us know how to react to this. No one moves or speaks until dismissed. One Eye tells Croaker, “I haven’t figured this yet. This isn’t the one we fought. She doesn’t have the scars we put on her. This doesn’t make sense.” I examine the beast from a distance. He is right. I put some punishing wounds on that beast and yet this creature bears no marks of them. This is disturbing.
Croaker relates to the Captain and other gathered officers who “The Lady” is.
“The Lady is the wife of the Dominator, the truest and the greatest evil ever known to this world. We now serve that evil, for better or worse.”
Out of the fire at least for now. We shall have to see what the frying pan holds for our future.