The Twisted Heart Killings Myth in Challaria | World Anvil

The Twisted Heart Killings

The Crimes

Just over a hundred years ago, in the year 923 MD, over the period of a few months four carters of the Morton Porters' Guild were found dead, killed in the same gruesome manner. This included removing the victim's heart and replacing it upside down - a feature giving rise to their becomming known as the "Twisted Heart Killings".

Although initially little concerned, the authorities became interested when the after the death in similar circumstances of the Duke's Scrivener. By the time they began to bring their power to the investigation though a host of competing theories and rumours were circulating among the Guilds and labouring classes and though rewards were offered and many theories proposed to explain the killings no one was brought to the Duke's Bench to face justice. Whoever the killer was, popular culture knows them as Jorrock, named after a (possibly mythical) dragon that threatened Morton in the early years of the Duchy (see The Legend of Carron's Daughter for more on this).

Although investigations continued for several years, largely funded and driven by the Porters' Guild the Duchy Authorities seemed notably less keen, to the point that many came to believe that there was a cover up of some sort taking place. Over the next few decades accusations came to be made against various of the Ducal family, the Porters and other guilds and those of Taru ancestry or appearance though as those who were active at the time of the killings grew old and died it became a subject more of parlour discussion. The case continued to be widely cited by those agitating against the Taru, with significant exaggeration of the violence involved and the number of victims common.

Interest was re-ignited a few years ago when, after a series of anti-Taru riots the Duke released to scholars the privy files from the investigations of 923. Although these did not directly answer the questions of who carried out these killings or why they did diffuse the racial tensions pointing the finger towards an attempt to cover up a scandal in the upper echelons of the court. Any remaining popular interest in the killings is now focused on speculation over what this scandal might have been.

The injuries wrought on the victims have long been the subject of speculation. The loss of the right hand was well known within the Duchy as a punishment for corrupting the coinage or other major thefts from society as a whole. Some see this aspect of the killings as rough justice or vigilante action. The removal and replacement of the heart was a detail not previously seen in the Mor but which was rapidly identified as a Taru punishment for betrayal or treachery. The case of Torrick Carra Cadu and the absence of signs of struggle in the other cases suggest that the victims were rendered unconscious before being mutilated. This leads some to think the killings more about scaring the living than punishing those killed.


Although not widely known of outside Morton Tithing, the killings have remained notorious within the town and surrounding countryside. A number of speculative, or just plain wrong, theories have been proposed over the years (for some examples, see below). Most damaging were the theories around Taru involvement which played on pre-existing racial tensions and have doubtless contributed to a number of outbreaks of disorder or misplaced revenge.

The speculations over the identity of “Jorrock” and potential conspiracies that the killings relate to are the main variations told; the core facts are well known, though outsiders can fail to realise where facts ends and speculation ends.

Variations & Mutation

Some of the proposed solutions and surrounding conspiracy theories expounded include:
  • The Duke’s second son - a dissolute and little respected member of the ruling family who had a reputation for household, though not family, violence and was known to have taken an interest in some of the more “challenging” questioning of the Duke’s Enquirers.
  • Raksellin the Tarembura the treatment of the heart was quickly recognised as similar to some of the ritual Taru practices. Raksellin had built a strong following by some parts of the Ducal Court and become unpopular for the influence he exerted. This combination played on the historic distrust of the Taru in many parts of Mor culture and it was suggested that the missing hands and blood squeezed from the hearts were used in debased arcane rituals.
  • Embezzlement by the Treasurer - if you want to spirit money away you might need carters; if you wanted to hide the trail you’d need to change the official records and inventories and that would mean influencing the Scribehall. Were the killed carters and the Ducal Scribe witnesses being silenced? Might they be co-conspirators being eliminated in in-fighting? Many possibilities have been suggested and the recently released documents and gaps in the records make this the theory closest to the believed facts.
Mention the subject in any tavern or other meeting place and you're sure to hear another theory or two!

The Deaths

The killings were linked by their method. In all cases there was no sign of struggle; the bodies were found lying on their backs, stripped to the waist with the right hand severed and a bloody wound to the abdomen. In those cases where the wound was examined in detail it was found that the heart had been cut out an re-inserted upside down. In no cases were the missing hands found. Torrick Carra Cadu had what could be called a near miss - when his assailants were interrupted his hand had been severed but no further damage done.

The Locations

Morton Sketch Map
An overview map of the Ducal Town


Torrick Carra Cadu - I'd been bringing a load of grain back from around Malling; I'd unloaded the cart at the town granary and was heading home - this would have been an hour or so after sunset and I wanted to get back to the yard cause I was working lonesome that day and that just ain't safe for a carter at night. There was a muffled noise behind me and someone threw I bag over my head; it smelt strange and I could feel my head swimming. "That's me done for" was the last thought I had before I woke up. It was the following morning and I was in the Guilds Care less my right hand. A guildbrother had saved me by driving off Jorrock.   Connor Mara Connor - I was going to the Stranded Wyvern with a couple of mates when I saw a cart drawn up in a dark alley. With Jorrock around that didn't seem a good sign; especially as I could make out a figure moving in the back of the cart who wasn't a Porter. I shouted to my mates to follow me and the figure vanished into the shadows. My mates gave chase but found nothing to follow; I found Torrick, bound his wrist and we carried took him to the Guilds Care. Damn fool shouldn't work lonesome a times like this.

The Victims

Connor Mara Covran

A porter in the more congested parts of town Connor was a specialist foot porter carrying loads himself rather than with cart or beast. He was found at the dawn on the third of Gobrill in the alleyways behind the Scribehall. His last delivery had been of meat to the Stranded Wyvern which he left after spending part of the evening there with friends. He was found close to the direct route to his lodgings. That his purse was sell filled with Dukes surprised those expecting robbery or knowing the lot of a foot porter.

Arnu Marya Caddock

Employed by the Porters Guild Arnu was not, herself a porter or carrier but one of the middlemen who matched supply and demand for porterage and managed jobs that needed transfer between carters and foot porters. She was found late on the 8th of Gombrill in Hallack's New Market and the similarities of her death and Connor Mara Covran's were immediatly recognised. She was known to have put several jobs his way in the fortnight leading up to his death.

Hango Enna Connor

Hango was a cartman running loads between Morton and the surrounding towns. Respected for his integrity and confidentiality he was nevertheless connected to several rather shady groups. His body was found in the back of his cart on the 13th Gombrill at his yard on the town's outskirts. His death marked the start of active investigations by the Porter's Guild as it became apparent that whatever the background to these killings it was their members who were at risk.

Cadrick Mara Caddock

The Ducal Scribe, and Arnu's brother, was found dead in his office on the morning of 17th Gombrill. This saw some official interest in the killings which did not last long, prompting a number of the conspiracy theories. He was the one victim who was not directly invlved in the portering trades but came from a portering family. Opinion is split on whether he had been embezzling, or whether he had discovered the embezzlement - either way it is the disappearance of treasury resources and records that seems to be the underlying story of the killings.

Torrick Carra Cadu

Torrick was the "one who got away" when his assailant was interrupted on the hight of the 20th Gombrill. Another carter his main business was with the farms of the Morton Tithing transporting grain, hay and other bulk commodities. Before his death there had been rumours that more valuable and less licit goods often moved under the cover of these products of agriculture.

Cadu Amry Cadu

The last victim of the Twister Heart Killings, Cadu hgad been art of the Ducal household before being dismissed for fighting. As a packhorse master he had dealt with pack trains in Court business. Following his dismissal he continued to run a much diminished train, specialising in areas where the roads were too narrow or congested for carts. He was known to be involved in the handling of stolen goods as well as taking jobs as an enforcer. Some have suggested tha his death was a killing of the killer to separate the instigator from the consequences.


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