Spilling blood

Succeed and you shall get what you wish for: a safe place where you can settle down without having to do others bidding.

Catha grimaces at the memory of the conversation he had a few days ago. There could be nothing more insulting then doing someone else's bidding in the hope that it'll end in freedom. Catha looks once more at the note that he made: "Limit: 2 weeks - Lennert Singer". A noise makes him peek up and draw his shortsword from under his damp rags. The dim moonlight reveals two familiar shapes in the cave entrance. "That was fast. Any guards again?", Catha says to the short newcomers while putting the sword back in the scabbard. A little out of breath the shorter one says: "Yes, we managed to spill the blood all over the floor." Pointing at the first one the second person chimes in: "Ifrae and I were spotted by someone on the roof on the way out and I'm sure they're after us." "So much for the distraction. Ifrae, you pack up and make us ready to leave this place , while the rest of us finish the deed. Aile, you take the wolves.", The two figures nod, Catha spits out and pokes the two bodies on the floor, "Wake up, Hile and Keli, we've got work to do."

In all haste the sizeable group rushes out of the cave into the forest across the little stream that was flowing towards the village a few hundred meters away, leaving only Ifrae behind to pack the beds. Once covered by the canopy Catha leads the group downhill, making sure that in case someone was trying to find the cave that the group would not run into them.

After a short trip through the forest the group arrives at their destination, the largest house in the village. Catha pushes the door open, it's creaking in distinct contrast to the warm autumn night. Waving everyone in, Catha whispers: "Get in and prepare to ambush while I get the bedroom door open." With everyone inside Catha closes the door and takes the lock-pick out of his pocket and kneels down in front of the door behind which his target awaited. "Catha, they're coming! The priest is with them as well." Scowling, Catha signals to kill them.

The outer door swings open and Aile releases the wolves, who know that the time for biting has come. They charge the priest standing in the doorway, who yelps in surprise and fear. Before the wolves arrive Catha takes a second to extend his hand towards the doorway. From the dark cloth and gloves thick smoke shoots out, and once this black mass reaches the outside, the smoke expands outward, making it nearly impossible to see anything.

Catha turns towards the door only to find it open with the man to kill, Lennart Singer, lunging at him wearing only undergarments and holding a rapier. Narrowly avoiding the sword while swearing under his breath, Catha can hear someone speak behind him in a tongue he does not understand. Suddenly the urge to run away, to flee from the person standing behind him washes uncontrollably over him. He tries to push past the man in front, but Lennart is not a fool himself and pushes back, stopping the run.

The roar of a bear combined with a thunderous bang and a bright flash of light is enough to shake the urge to flee. With Lennert still in front of him he slashes left and then right, easily outmanoeuvring the man while inflicting mortal wounds. Turning around and seeing the battlefield in front of him makes Catha's eyes widen with shock and rage.

His allies have met their final fate, drifting as ash through the air. The wolves he had cared for for so long lay in a small puddle of blood. At Catha's feet an unconscious and armoured woman with Aile's dagger lodged in her abdomen. Yet all of this pales in comparison with the brown bear standing in the room for no discernable reason.

Two daggers flying through the air, thrown by a figure standing towards the back of the room, hit Catha opening more wounds while tearing open old scars. The bear jumps forwards and with a powerful bite rips a piece of flesh out of Catha's left arm. He takes a sharp breath in pain, before gritting his teeth and lashing out at the bear, inflicting heavy wounds that make it whimper. A silvery glimmer makes Catha look to the left only to find the cold steel of a rapier in his neck.

With vision quickly fading into darkness Catha has a realisation: "I'll settle down as ash, but it will burn you." Then, just as the darkness fills completely, Catha feels a burning sensation that is accompanied by the vision turning white.

This was one of the quests my players did, out of the perspective of the antagonist.

Ifrae didn't have time to pack up before the PCs arrived and met the same ashen fate as the others.


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19 Nov, 2018 22:35

I like both the opening quote and the fact that you started your story in media res. It sets the tone and gets things moving. I know that you were under time pressure, but a little more description of the fight would be nice. You had a good rhythm going and I think that with more time you could have made it both more clear what was happening and more dramatic. I really loved the ending. You nailed that perfectly.  


1) It is a little confusing if there are five people plus the wolves or five including the wolves. Were the two who entered Ifrae and Alie or were those the ones awakened? 2) What happened to Ifrae? Was that the bear, the body with Alie's dagger, or someone else? 3) Why was the job insulting? Why did Catha grimace at the memory?   I am sorry that you were time-crunched because I really I want to know more about these guys. They sound interesting.  

Sideways Observation

I mentioned that I liked how you began in the middle of the action. What if you began even later? As they were breaking into Lennert Singer's house, for example:   As Catha worked the picks in the lock, he heard dogs in the distance. He paused and looked up at Ifrae who shrugged. "I'm sorry, Catha. I guess that our diversion wasn't enough to throw them off our scent."   Catha growled. "Send the wolves out to get the dogs before they wake up everyone in town. You take care of their masters."   Ifrae and Alie nodded. Catha added, "Be careful. That damned priest is probably with them." ....   Since you're condensing the story down to the barest bones, you can then take the time to detail what's happening a lot more. Perhaps there is some conversation between Catha and Singer. Give Catha a chance to watch his friends die, one-by-one. Make the final fight a bit more dramatic, so that you can deliver that killer ending.

Sideways thinker and hospitaller of the Inner Sanctum
1 Dec, 2018 11:58

Thank you very much. I've now updated the article and it should now be clearer. The bear is a mystery, as long as you don't know that one of the players can turn into a bear :P