The winters are harsh in these northern
realms, but you have been forced to get used
to it over these past few weeks as you have
taken a job guarding caravans travelling
along the trade route from Sturovf to Surrig.
It is a poorly paid job, but it was the only one
available in Surrig, where you found yourself
after following a known felon to these
northerly lands. You captured him, finally,
and handed him over to the authorities, but
you did not have enough money to pay for a
coach trip back to the lands of your birth.
Hence, the boring job on pitiable pay that
you find yourself stuck with.
|Artwork © Damon Hellandbrand|
Your job is to guard a troupe of caravans
that stop off at every north-man settlement
along the several-hundred mile trade route.
It is an uncomfortable journey, particularly
since you have to travel ahead of the convoy,
eyes peeled for traps, ambushes or
impassable roads. The tundra, the name
given to the land terrain that you are
travelling through, is barren and desolate,
covered in frost and snow for nine months of
the year. According to Khris, the owner of the
caravan company, in the late spring and
summer it is awash with brightly coloured
flowers, and many creatures come out from
hibernation to bask in the warm sunshine.
Unfortunately, it is the third month since
yuletide, and spring has yet to come to this
vast, icy desert.
It is late one night, as you are settling down
to rest, that the sound of a horn breaks the
silence, echoing off rocks and the few
diseased trees for miles around. You quickly
rise and find Khris, who tells you that in
these northlands, the sound of a horn almost
always means distress; it is a request for
assistance. Another trader rushes over to
you, telling you that the sound came from
the next settlement along the route, a small
village of about fifty north-men. Khris turns
to you and asks you to scout ahead.
Reluctantly you agree and saddle the horse
provided, making a prompt start.
You pick your way carefully through the ice
and snow; a lantern held aloft in your right
hand, the bridle held in your left. It is just
after midnight that you arrive at the
settlement, but none of your adventuring
exploits could have prepared you for the
bloody scene of carnage that waited there for
The wooden doors of the wooden barricade
encircling the village have been completely
ripped from their hinges. One lies in the
snow about twenty-five paces away. You
quietly dismount and tie up your horse.
Entering through the remains of the gates,
you are struck by the bloodbath inside. No
one has survived the onslaught; the horn
and all around is silent now, and eve more
shall be so. The bodies of the men have been
butchered in unspeakable ways, and most
are covered in the claw-marks of what seems
to be a huge creature with inhuman
strength. Many of the bodies have bite-marks
on them, and some are missing limbs.
Shocked and repulsed, and more than a little
worried about whether the beast that did this
is still here, you carefully pick your way back
over the wreckage of what was once a
thriving community and leave.
You remount your horse without delay and,
heedless of the potentially dangerous terrain,
you gallop as fast as you dare back along the
trail towards the encampment of traders. As
you speedily return, snow begins to fall from
the dark sky, gently settling on the ground,
covering all in a blanket of white oblivion.