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A Skullsplitters Tale

by Various members of the Skullsplitters

Preface

A Chief Dethroned


The rain fell heavily on the ground creating small shimmering mirrors of water across the valley. Beyond the valley the Hawk nosed face of the warrior Hedj Iretey stood blank in ponderance, surveying the mountains to the east separating Nemedia from Aquilonia. The Skullsplitter compound, a large and imposing structure, lay partially hidden by thick trees on three sides, and a sharp cliff dropping into a valley on the east. In the last year the compound had grown tremendously, and signs of addition and reinforcement were betrayed by new wood, over older, grey planks. A new stone wall surrounded the compound, along with added stone lookout towers, hidden at their tops by foliage to look like large trees. A mercenary Brigade always had to be weary of retribution, and with recent gold and resources, payment for allying with Aquilonia’s king, Hedj had fortified his compound.


Hedj was pleased with himself. Before his ascension to Brigade Chief the Skullsplitters had not tasted battle for a long time. The compound had fallen to ruin, and his men, under the rule of Amadán, had become restless and poor. Nearly three years as Brigade Chief had brought renewal to the Skullsplitters, battle to their blades and fear to their name. He had thwarted many attempts at mutiny, a nuisance that Hedj wrote off as offspring in a marriage between sword and mercenary. To his mind, Hedj was the greatest Brigade Chief the Skullsplitters had known. He was so focused on his thoughts of self-praise that he nearly did not hear his Legatus approach from behind him. With the speed of a demon Hedj wheeled around, arm outstretched in front of him, his small hand axe mere inches from his Legatus’ brow.


“Calamus. You should announce yourself when you approach. It would be a shame if you bore our namesake on your crown.”


“Forgive me Chief Iretey. I have come to remind you that the end of this moon cycle is one week from today. Shall I not announce the Challenge again?”


“Why? There are none to oppose me Calamus, yet you ask me without fail every month if I should waste time with this ridiculous tradition. I would think that you wanted to challenge me, did I not know any better,” Hedj raised a brow to Calamus, testing his resolve.


“Of course not chief. I only wish to honor tradition. But you are right, it has been years since you have entertained a challenge to your position,” Calamus’ words sounded hollow, and shallow in their subservience.


Hedj eyed Calamus with his cold, grey eyes, his sharply hooked nose shifting side to side as he stared, as if he could not judge Calamus with both eyes at once. Suddenly Calamus felt as a mouse, eyed intently by the hawk.


“Speak your mind Calamus. Do not treat me as a noble whelp that cannot see his kingdom for having his head implanted in his rear.”


“I intend no disrespect chief. Our brigade has been quite prosperous in your leadership, but we are weakened. In our last foray for King Conan he used us for bait, chief. It becomes dangerous to commit our blades to this king; he will hand us to the wolves when he is threatened, he has proven this.”


Hedj snarled, "and you think that someone will attempt to take my crown? HA! Even if there were a brainless fool ambitious enough to threaten my seat they would simply join the rest of our comrades in the ground. We have lost enough men these last weeks. No Calamus, there will be no Challenge this month."


Before allowing Hedj further opportunity to judge his sincerity Calamus bowed quickly, wheeled on his heels and promptly exited his chief’s presence.


Fresh mortar could still be seen oozing from between the boulders that constructed the Legatus’ quarters. It had been completed only days before, the supplies having been purchased with coins from a king, but paid for by the blood of battle with Vanir raiders during the Skullsplitters last employ. Inside the headquarters the Legatus, commanders of the Skullsplitters Brigade, sat nervously waiting for Calamus’ return. Tension filled the small earthen-floored room; the Legatus wore troubled frowns openly on their faces. As the door to the building flew open the men at the table gave a start, and the man closest to the door jumped from his seat, facing the intruder at the door, with a large curved dagger that seemed as an extension of his own hand.


“Be at ease Pecore! I swear that your lust to slay first and look later will get the better of you some day.”


The rogue lowered his dagger, shrugging nonchalantly, once again sitting in his chair. Calamus securely shut the door, testing it to ensure their privacy. As he walked around the side of the table where the men sat, an old man wearing a modest robe stood and grabbed his arm. Calamus stopped in his tracks, wheeling his head to stare intently at the old Stygian. The old mage stared back at Calamus, his misshapen nose almost pointing at Calamus as he tried to read Calamus’ face.


“Well? Are we to hold the Challenge?”


“No Khet. Our leader still wishes to betray our custom, and hold power for himself. Men, we will have to decide whether we are to evoke the Right of Privilege, or remain under Hedj Iretey’s command.”


“We have seen much gold with Hedj, this decision is not to be made lightly,” the old Stygian stated.


“Aye, we have become rich, but we should be richer!” screamed Draxtle, slamming the butt of his sword on the table. “Our chief has been hoarding payments for himself. He gives us only enough to keep us silent. The pig has no regard for his men, and every coin he does not declare to us is a coin he steals from my purse! I will empty his skull myself, and fill it with his ill gotten gold!"


“Still”, continued Khet, “here we stand plotting the overthrow of our chief, protected by fortified chambers built by his leadership. We must be clear that we intend to remove a prosperous commander.”


“Aye, the old man speaks true. I have ne’er cleaved more heads asunder than on Hedj’s battlefields,” offered Pecore, picking his teeth with his dagger.


“This is true,” Said Calamus, taking a seat between the old Stygian and the wily Aquilonian rogue. “We have spilled much blood, and spent even more coin in recent past. But our ranks dwindle with every foray that we enter in the name of Aquilonia. Our men care not for this land. Skullsplitters fight for coin. We fight for lust. Never before have we fought for one king, and since we have, we have more than halved our ranks. If we are to keep this pace for another winter, there will not be enough men to bury the dead. Who will sing of our battles then? Conan? He cares naught for us. Nay, we must see to our own to survive. We must take our brigade back from our tyrant chief.”


The discussion continued for more than three hours, opinions changing back and forth as to what was to be done. In the end the Legatus came to a decision. Hedj Iretey was to be removed as Chief.


Hedj observed his brigade from his podium on top of his hall. He reflected on his last three years and was pleased. With the gold that he had brought to the Skullsplitters, they must think him a king. Where the gold had been coming from, and how much he kept for himself were not a part of his thoughts as he stood triumphantly over his men. He raised his arms wide, a great hawk preying over a field of mice.


"Tonight we leave for the Bossonian Marches! In two weeks time we will join with King Conan's army and repel the Pictish advances! This will be a long and bloody battle against a foe whose mind is feeble enough to think that he can make his way into our kingdom of Aquilonia! Many of us will not make it back to our compound, but those of us who do will be paid handsomely. Our King has offered much gold and jewels for our aid in this campaign, and we will earn every coin with our blood!"


The great leader stood imposing over his masses, clenching his fist in the air to emphasize his statement, golden glimmers of motivation almost visible in his grey eyes. Hedj was so engrossed in his own speech he did not notice his brigades look of disdain at his mention of Aquilonia being their kingdom, nor Conan their king. Many Skullsplitters joined the brigade because the kingdom would no longer have them in her armies, and even more never had called Aquilonia home. Had Hedj noticed their sullen faces, he would not have had time to ponder their spirits, as his Legatus, fully dressed in armor, quickly made their way up to his podium, led by Calamus.


"What is this madness that my Legatus would interrupt me as I address our men," Hedj demanded with a scowl forming on his face.


Hedj stared directly at Calamus, a fierce snarl appearing under the sharp tip of his hooked beak. Calamus' reply was short, "They are not your men any longer Hedj."


Hedj seemed almost stunned, his surprise showing only for an instant. "What say you? And who is to take them from me? You, Calamus? This is not the Challenge of Conquest dog! I will cleave your skull and leave you to ponder your treachery in the afterlife!"


Calamus ignored Hedj's words and turned to face the Brigade.


"Our Chief has broken the law of the Skullsplitters by abolishing our only observed tradition. For three years Hedj Iretey has held our brigade hostage, as a dictator King. He has sold our swords and his soul to the king of Aquilonia, and worse, has hidden payment from us that we earned with our blood! For these transgressions we, the Legatus, invoke the Right of Privilege to unseat our Chief!"


Calamus calmly drew his sword, turned, and once again faced the maddened Chief, whose eyes were almost white, burning with hatred and betrayal.


"If you step down willingly we will permit you to keep your life. But I swear to you, if you resist us we will empty your guts on these podium steps."


His answer came swiftly, but not through words. With blinding speed Hedj grabbed his axe from his belt, leaped from his perch and descended upon his aggressor. Calamus seemed to stand stunned; his sword still at his side. As Hedj began his forward swing for Calamus' breastplate it seemed as though the Stygian's speed would ensure victory for him once again, as it always had in the past. It was at the last possible moment that Calamus began to move, rotating his body, and leaning to his right as his sword reached, almost non-threateningly, towards his enemy. As Hedj’s axe rang off of Calamus' armored chest he became aware that Calamus had not intended to evade his attack, but only lean from it to lessen its impact. Before the once great leader of the Skullsplitters could understand the madness of Calamus' awkward tactic he felt white hot pain in his left thigh. As Hedj stepped down to steady himself from his assault, he had flown directly into the deceptively lazy sword stroke, swung in the Stygian’s path seemingly by accident, slashing his thigh to the bone.


As both men staggered back, Hedj found that he could no longer hold himself upright. Hobbling backward, he sturdied himself on one leg, staring in disbelief as Calamus choked, gasping for breath. Could Hedj advance on his enemy, Calamus would not have time to catch his breath, but all he could do was stare at his former prey, feeling warm streams of blood flood from his thigh as a waterfall exits a mountain glacier. As Calamus struggled to tear off his breastplate Hedj noticed a large crater in its center, which was surely the cause of his lack of breath. Hedj afforded himself a look at his thigh. He could see his life squeezing through large slabs of muscle hanging from his leg. It reminded him of wild fowl, skinned and hung to bleed at the Butchers Square. As Calamus caught his breath he spoke, raising his sword to indicate whom he addressed.


"This is your last chance to step down Hedj. Your wings have been clipped; there is no way you can win."


"Foolish pup!" Hedj blasted through slobbering lips, his vision getting darker. He felt as though he had drank too much ale, and he stared at Calamus as though through a long hallway. His unfocused eyes a dim grey, almost hidden in their sockets. "You have already killed me, yet you speak to me as though you speak to a living man. End this quickly, while I still have strength to meet your blade on my feet."


No more words needed to be said. With his blade extended in front of him, Calamus approached his former chief, who made no effort to move. The Stygian’s eyes grew inhumanly wide as the tip of his slayers blade entered his throat, just below his chin. Calamus pressed hard in a sharp thrust, and let up only once he felt the resistance of the wooden wall behind where Hedj had stood. As Calamus withdrew his blade the Stygian’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, and his lifeless body collapsed at its usurpers feet. Calamus bent down, removed the Stygian ring from the corpse’s finger, staring at it for a moment. Then he rose, and turned to his Brigade.

"I am now the Chief of the Skullsplitters. No longer will any man rule as a dictator over our brigade! The Challenge of Conquest is to be honored, and from this day any Chief who attempts to ignore it shall be retired by force. We will not be joining the King of Aquilonia in the Bossonian Marches, nor will we be his lapdogs any longer! We are mercenaries, and are loyal to none but the gold that is offered to us. Bury this corpse. He was mad, but he brought much to us. He will be buried as a chief."


And the new chief of the Skullsplitters walked into his hall, his spirits high. In the following months he would see his compound destroyed, and most of his brigade slaughtered by a retaliatory King, who was no longer assured that the Skullsplitters blades would not point his direction. The Skullsplitters would survive, and once again take their place as feared and respected mercenaries of Hyboria... but that is another story, for another time.


-Fin


Written by Calamus


Chapter 1


Picking up the pieces


It had been months now since King Conan had sent forces to destroy the Skullsplitters stronghold and winter was fast approaching. The Skullsplitters found themselves in trouble. They were reduced to homeless nomad's, traveling from place to place living in hastily constructed tent villages, never staying long enough for fear of King Conan sending another force to complete what they had started. These were dark times indeed, as no respectful warlord or king would hire a Skullsplitter for any tasks, not even for menial ones. With this burden on his shoulders Chief Calamus had much to think about.


Chief Calamus led his men North, for his scouts had spoken of good land nestled within the area known as Lacheish plains. It was here that Chief Calamus had hoped to carve out a new life for his mercenaries. A steady base of operations were the Skullsplitters could once again find gainful employment and the war drums would be heard once more, and if possible a new home. Calamus sent a small force of Skullsplitters to hold the ground and prepare it while he led the main bulk of men and women from Aquilonia. The advance party consisted of Finn, Vexen, Duthos and Logan. This task was not easy, and the four brave warriors crossed blades with many tribes of Cimmerians along their journey taxing the mens will and strength to the brink of failure, but they found the fortitude within to push back those who would be too brash and in time the incursions had dwindled and the land the would host the Skullsplitters Keep began to take shape.


The main body arrived a few days later, and Chief Calamus quickly put the men to work, gathering resources and scouting the lands of Lacheish plains sizing up any potential threats. One threat in particular was determined a group of savages known as the Competition whom had also claimed land near the Skullsplitters and on more than one occasion had raided what was theirs. These incursions however ended swiftly on the blade of a Skullsplitters sword, and these savages could not prevent the Skullsplitters architectural might, lead by Soldat Finn from completing the Mercenary bands Keep. A glorious day for the Skullsplitters and just the beginning as the Cimmerian lands are vast and their is still much work to be done.


A Skullsplitters life is not however all work and no play, and the Chief called for Celebration, perhaps even a new tradition for Skullsplitters alike, and a tournament of Champions was called for all Skullsplitters to come and join in festivities which would include a tournament to display our martial Prowess and to award the victor the Title of "Champion" which granted the winner rights of claim on enough wine to fell a Cimmerian Bull and the most feisty of Cimmerian women captured from the nearby hills Many turned out for this event but there could only be one Victor, Soldat Finn who defeated Soldat Jurad in the finals was the one to win the first Tournament of Champions and earn his title. But the Tournament itself displayed others with great skill, Galadrielle a Priestess of Mitra nearly made it to the finals before finding Jurads relentless polearm thrusts too much for her god to mend. And Legatus Batou and Finn had a memorable battle to determine whom had the harder skull, with Finn driving Batou to the field to the thunder of booming head butts.


The night ended with the kegs empty, and the wine cellar needing another shipment, mostly due to Mezrus. And in the end we were addressed by our Chief, who congratulated his men on a job well done and promised us the chance to show our skills in real combat sometime soon, but first he reminded us the importance of rebuilding a Stronghold for us Skullsplitters to call home and defend against any enemies who would wish to push us from it.


Days later the remnants of the celebration still lingered throughout the Keep, empty kegs of ale, broken wine bottles and plenty of empty jugs that at one time contained potent spirits. Others who had indulged in a bit of lotus brought in by some of the Mercenary clans Stygian's still lay in their tent in a stupor. All was quiet, all was calm. In the distance a dust cloud formed along the trail that ran up the rolling hills of Lacheish plains heading toward the keep. Some men lazily grabbed their weapons just in case, but as the dust cloud neared and the cause became clearer the men relaxed. The dust cloud was just one of the Skullsplitters emissaries a man named Trebellius, days earlier he had been dispatched to Tesso to find work for the mercenaries and by the look on his face he had found some.


He rode past a group of hungover skullsplitters and entered the Keep with haste, a small crowd slowly began to form just outside the keep and moments later Trebellius re-emerged with a scroll in hand. "Hail, Skullsplitters! We have found employ! Trebellius roared. And the crowd matched his enthusiasm with equal shouts and cheers, Trebellius waited a moment for the crowds cheers to die down and then began to speak once more. "The people of Tesso have hired us to investigate the Sanctum of burning souls, a tainted place, it is said that Acheronian magic still clings to the ruins within, the people of Tesso have no one willing to aide and have offered us much gold to investigate the goings on. It is rumored that a of Nemedians have traveled within and have not been heard nor saw in weeks, the contact in Tesso believes that the Dark beasts appearance and the Nemedians whom entered are some how related, it will be our job to determine if there is truth to this statement, so Skullsplitters sign this contract and let us plan our attack!"


The mercenaries then very eagerly stepped forth, taking the quill and signing on for the contract. When all was settled the Scroll was full of names of Calamus, Batou, Jurad, Draikhen, Samish, Astaribo, Fedallah, Mezrus, Tebulas and Marshal. And after preparing themselves the group headed toward the Wildlands to meet with the people of Tesso and discuss pay.


It was a drafty night in the wild lands. The Skullsplitters had assembled in the tavern in the city of Tesso, coin and glory weighting heavily on their minds. Calamus had haggled with the city mayor to agree to pay the price the band of mercenaries had decided upon for this small task. None of the men knew exactly what it was they were about to come face to face with. People spoke in whispered rumors on the second floor of the tavern. "I heard it was children playing pranks on the villagers" Jurad stated matter of factly. "If thats the case, Mezrus should bend them over his knee and send them home crying for their mothers" laughed Marshall. Mezrus looked up from his tenth or twelfth ale, depending on if he actually kept count."Ha Ha, well that is the way your mother liked it now isn't it?". Marshall may have yelled something in protest to that but at that moment, three ghastly beings materialized amongst the group immediately attacking the mercenaries as they enjoyed the food and drink. Without hesitation or fear in the face of these demons, the gathered band of mercenaries and cutthroats pounced on these beings and sent them back to whatever hell spawn birthed them. "What in Crom's name was that?" yelled Fadallah. "Maybe demons sent to stop us from beginning our quest?" stated Draihken uneasily.


"Skullsplitters! Hear me!" spoke Calamus, all in the bar gave ear to this man even the ones who did not know him. His voice was one that demanded respect with every syllable. "We leave now for this hellhole these superstitious peasants call the Sanctum." The band of mercenaries got to their feet and followed Calamus out of the town and across the land until they came to the base of an enormous stone staircase. "What in all that is holy is this?" someone exclaimed. A huge ancient temple sprawled out as far as the eye could see. Wearily the group made the way to a large stone door, where they drew their blades and prepared for the battle to come. "Mezrus, to me." the leader ordered. The drunk of a man worn by time and a hard life straightened himself and walked to his Chief. "My blade is yours" he stated. "Take Jurad, Marshall, Fedallah, Astaribo, and Cuchulain and lead them down this corridor to the right. Kill everything that poses a threat and pocket anything of value." Calamus said. "Aye, we will meet you back in the tavern when the deed is done. If you should get scared just let out a yell and we'll come rescue you" the old man stated with a wily grin. Calamus shook his head with a smile, knowing Mezrus' sense of humor by now " Just go you drunk, and don't pass out in one of those tunnels, less we find you years from now with a blade in your gut and the stench of a keg of ale on your breath." With a smile and a nod Mezrus led his group silently down the corridor.


The next few hours went by in a flurry of blades and blood. Many a demon and Namedian fell to the small Skullsplitter envoy. The men beheld sights they had never dared had nightmares of, lakes of blood, skinless demons, and spiders as big as a man. But when it was all said and done, nothing was left breathing, neither man, beast or demon. The men stood in triumph atop this demonic temple, weighted down by the coin and treasure they had uncovered. Jurad smiled and looked as his compatriots "All I know is that I am going to bury my sword to the hilt, into whoever said there were children playing jokes in here". The band of men broke into laughter and began making the long trek back to Tesso.


The Skullsplitters, after receiving much Gold and Trades goods from the people of Tesso returned to their Keep with the intentions of fortifying their position in Lacheish plains. Massive amounts of stone and wood were brought before Rosaeria, The head Architect who had been busy drawing up plans for buildings while the group was away in Tesso. As The Priestess of Mitra got the supplies organized and plans finalized she was able to put the men to work and shortly after scaffolds rose about the keep like a spreading wildfire, The Men and Women of the Skullsplitters worked tirelessly for days, pounding away at posts, and chipping away at rock forming it into buildings and walls and once the dust had settled the Skullsplitters had a Home. The trade post began to bustle with life, and the tradeskills shops were all set to work, with fires bellowing, weapons and armor were crafted, within the libraries the priests and mages studied and on the city walls Guards patrolled. Their only concern, how to defend it? For in the shadows there is always something lurking to take what isn't theirs.


End Chapter 1


Written by Draikhen, Jurad, Shiloh & Calamus.

Chapter 2 “Contracts”

Draihken lounged on the bed, idly studying the freshly painted ceiling above him listening to the steady rhythm of the woman's breathing next to him. She was growing attached to him, though she spoke nothing of it her kisses came more frequently and held longer durring thier love making. He fancied the thought, married to a noble woman, a life of luxury and ease. Shaking his head ruefully he sits up stretching his mucsles letting the blood flow the sleepiness from him.


With a frown the woman looks up at him studying his face through lidded eyes, "You are leaving?" Even with middle age setting in, the woman was lovely, dark hair framed her oval face the lines around her green eyes only accented her beauty more.


Sighing, she rises out of bed moving gracefully to a closet across the room. Draihken's eyes shift from the ceiling appraising her moonlit form. Perhaps he did not need to leave her so soon.


"The letter is from him." Opening the closet she selects a silk green robe, "He seemed more impatient than usual."


Taking the letter from the ornate stand beside the bed, Draihken studies the contents quickly, the flowing script is the same as always, only a list of names nothing more. Folding the paper thoughtfully he touches the corner to the lamps flame letting the paper burn to his fingers. "We shall see, Dienna."


Tensing as he brushes the ash from his fingers beside the bed he turns to the door. From the hallway a young girl's voice calls out, "I have your dinner milady." Before Dienna can reply the girl opens the door with a covered tray in hand.


"Wait!" Clutching her robe Dienna spins around to the bed one hand outstretched to the doorway.


"M milady" the young girl faulters following her mistresses gaze to the empty bed. "Is everything allright?"


Recovering, Dienna waves the girl to the table beside the bed. "Aye, set it over there." her gaze however is upon the open window.


Later that evening....


"The pay has always been fair, Calamus."


"True, but it has always been just one name from him Draihken, this may lead to trouble. Have you discovered who this is from?"


Tossing a twig into the fire Draihken waits a moment before answering, he does not like this mystery, and his sources have revealed nothing to him. Pressing Dienna on the issue would not help, not yet anyways. "No, Calamus I do not, but I will."


"So be it, the Skullplitters will fulfill this contract. This will require more than your Lockhos however. I will summon the others and see who is willing to share in the coin."


The next night a group of Skullsplitters gathered within the Arms man Tavern, Calamus had left the contract in the capable hands of Tebulos and Draikhen and together they organized the Skullsplitters into three smaller groups that would work in conjunction with each other once they had all departed for the sewers and under tunnels of the noble district. While in the tavern, the Skullsplitters were interrupted by a few drunk savages who bore the marks of the Murder Herd, and even though these drunks looked to be much more experienced fighters they were quickly put in their place, knocked out and drug out of the Tavern by the bouncers. This allowed the Skullsplitters to quickly go over a few last minute details and do any last minute equipment checks.


Once Tebulos and Draikhen had inspected the men, they descended into the stank cistern, the group was immediately faced with the job of dispatching a few bandits who rushed to the entrance way, with furious and accurate strikes the Skullsplitters fought, and the stone floor beneath them filled with the blood of their enemies. They fought relentlessly rescuing a trapped female, most likely a noblewomen being held ransom, after she was quickly escorted to the exit by Tebulos the group continued forth, were they met Oak, one of the men they had been contracted to kill. Oak’s tongue was what the contract demanded and a few of the Skullsplitters seemed a bit too anxious to get the job done.


Like a spinning cyclone they rushed into the room, cutting down all that stood in their way, With Oak’s bodyguard dealt with the group was able to focus mainly on the thug and he was dealt with in short order, with Draikhen deftly cutting his tongue out for all to see.


As the group trudged forward the Female Warrior Vexen began to take a more vocal role, directing the attacks, getting her group in the proper position, and cutting down her fair share of enemies, Draikhen noticed a change in her mentality, and noticed the response she was getting from the rest of the mercenaries, they were following her every order and as she herself noticed this her confidence grew and she fought all the harder. Soon it was her commands the group was listening to, and Vexen lead the Skullsplitters deeper into the Sewer System that ran beneath Old Tarantia.


They continued down heading towards the Sewer Kings location, but when they arrived he was no where to be found. The beggar’s information must have been wrong, or perhaps they had tipped of the Sewer king for more coin than was offered for the information, whatever the case, Draikhen made a note to pay a visit to them when they returned. With no sign of the Sewer King around, The Skullsplitters vacated the Sewers, and returned to collect the coin they had rightfully earned and then celebrated like any mercenary worth their weight within the Arms man Tavern. The ale and spirits flowed freely that night, and tales of battle were spun, praises were made and heroes were born, for most of the Skullsplitters songs and tales were of Vexen and her valor during the battles beneath.


Not everyone was celebrating however; Draikhen had been quiet all night, just sitting by a window watching the events unfold before him. He was there one second and the next gone, off into the shadows. Once free of the hustle and bustle of the Noble District he mounted his trusted stead and rode hard for the keep, he had news for his Chief.


Calamus stared blankley into the fire, One thousand thoughts running through his mind. He had laid out all the groundwork, brought prosperity back to the Skullsplitters, brought them back to the path of Mercenaries. Why then he thought, was change in the air? Moments earlier, Draikhen had informed him of the events that occurred in the Noble District. That Vexen, one of the guilds fiercest warriors, was gaining popularity and confidence. Draikhen had warned him that the guild would easily follow her into battle and that he should be wary and perhaps prepare to defend his title as Chief.


Calamus was left to his thoughts now, how would he handle this? He could dispatch Draikhen, a trusted assassin to deal with the problem, but no; that would make him no better than his predecessor or perhaps he could try to discredit her as being a whore? No, he couldn’t bring himself to do so, Calamus decided that he had to face this problem head on. This would be no easy feat Calamus had watched Vexen grow into the warrior she had become she had already risen quickly through the skullsplitters ranks, a feat that is unheard of for a female. Calamus rose from the fire and began pacing, he would have to begin training, for if the rumors were true the Challenge would be issued in the next few days. The Chief then reached down grasping the pommel of his weapon, squeezing it tightly and headed off into the wilderness in search of some Vanir Pigs.


Sure enough the rumors were true.Word of the Challenge spread throughout the keep like wildfire, and soon a small crowd had gathered around the scribes and emmisaries who worked at the keep documenting and recording such things. when asked by the people for more details on the Challenge of Conquest the Scribes sent the people to the scrolls in the antechamber which read Challenge of Conquest. And the Scribes made it be known that while Vexen had laid the first challenge that others were just as entitled to stake their own claim toward becoming chief.


End Chapter 2

Written by Draikhen, Tebulos

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