Know, O Prince

Chapter II
A Southern Road...
Chapter II

A Southern Road…

At the morn, Taz is introduced to his steed “Cunt” a disagreeable riding horse hated by most of those in the stables. The horse however is partial to Taz for whatever reason and the two get along famously, the stablehand is left at a loss of words. Taz is provided a 100sp retainer to spend and the ability to take the horse and a mail shirt on loan (to be returned or paid in full). He loads up on arrows, scabbards for his two swords, a whetstone, riding boots, saddle & gear, saddlebags of food, 12 stygian silver and a backpack. He is given the short sword and Bossonian bow taken from the dead thieves and heads at full gallop south to Sicus via the Argos Road.

Late on his first day Taz encounters Grom, a leader of a small band of peasants, he sells Taz a salted lamb and 8 flasks of blueberry wine. He passes on information from what he has seen in Sicus; no trade is currently ongoing and there are crazed murders going on in the area—even members of the city guard! Taz hears that the Wyvern Inn has the best whores and the Two Dryands the best drinks and that the Iron Skull is a good place to go and get yourself killed. He thanks the travellers and moves on. Taz is bothered by his sweaty, scratchy and heavy mail shirt but continues riding with it on, running into a boy by the name of Barrett as he sets camp. Apparently Barrett is the son of an orchard farmer near Sicus and just lost his cart and Oxen after a snakebite killed the beast and the cart flew off the road during its death throes. Taz offers to take him south, stating his is scouting the area for his liege Strom (the name of his tribe leader back home). The two rest and Barrett shares some apples, which Taz has never eaten, after taking his first bite he regrets only moments earlier giving one to his horse as a treat.

The next day, Cunt lives up to her name and refuses to ride both men so they walk the road, leading the stubborn mare. As the morning sun rises they are waylaid by 4 brigands, 3 with swords and one with a bow. Taz attempts to intimidate the scarred leader but fails and refusing surrender, attacks! Almost immediately Taz sees the benefit of the mail shirt, as it absorbs two blows and deflects a third. Taz thanks Mitra for her gift and resumes striking at the brigands. A scared but game Barrett rushes the bowman, forcing his shot and engages him with his bare (albeit mighty) fists. The battle is a fierce one and Taz is barely able to keep from being surrounded and smites the foes one at a time, finishing the leader with an incredible blow through his padded armor and into his heart. Barrett pummels the bowman to the ground and knocks him out, Taz claims the thieves weapons and lets the last man go…but only after taking his pinky as warning. That night they eat a hardy meal of lamb and share more apples, Barrett explaining to Taz the way to grow an apple tree. Later a noise is heard and upon investigation a ranger by the name of Rugarius is found. Taz offers hospitality to the man and feeds him. The group rests.

Day 3 begins with Rugarius explaining what he knows of the city of Sicus as he is an outrider who lives just outside the city. There is a secret entrance via a dry Aqueduct by the NW bank, a good way to avoid the 3 sp entry fee into the walled city. The city is “run” by two groups of thieves; The Jackals-a group of well equipped loan sharks who travel in massive groups (do NOT accuse them of cheating or they take your eyes!) and The Wyverns who run a slave trade, a fighting arena called “The Pit,” and a brothel (The Wyvern Inn of yore). BUT there is a new player in town-The Bloody Dawn, a new group of rogues who know no boundaries and respect no one. Taz believes (rightly) that this Bloody Dawn is behind the killings. Rugarius thanks Taz and Barrett and moves on, again Cunt accepts no riders and they walk the horse again. Mid-day a 3 cart caravan of merchants led by Zazon enroute to Tarantia offers trade. Taz sells the excess equipment from the dead brigands and buys a wheel of cheese, which turns out to be as large as his horse (Taz assumed it would be a small wheel, not a true wheel of cheese). Not knowing what to do with so much cheese, Taz offers lunch to all and a small feast begins destined to block the bowels of all for days to come. Zazon offers to shoe Taz’ horse and Taz agrees. As the men wait for the work to be done, Zazon confirms to Taz the lack of trade in Sicus and that he left as soon as possible fearing for the safety of the caravan. His men assist Taz with tying up the cheese to the horse and Barrett and Taz walk on. At dusk an injured soldier is found, attacked by brigands, Barrett heals the unconscious man’s wounds and Taz watches during the night as the two rest, hearing haunting noises from the woods and howls of packs of wolves. Near dawn a ragged man with broken manacles on his wrists stumbles into camp, shouting “I did nothing to that woman…” Taz is wary but pays no attention to the comment and offers the man a chance to rest. The man, upon seeing the soldier, grows nervous and leaves. Taz doesn’t know why.

The next day, Taz meets Vago (?) the soldier who is healing. Taz is exhausted and asks to sleep until noon before they depart. However the sleep is deep, so deep he sleeps through to the next day—and through an attack by 2 wild boar who were killed by Barrett and Vago. The group eats, treats some boar for food later and moves on, now 5 days into the journey. Early afternoon the Tibor river is reached. Sicus is near! The group decides to hit the Inn and take the ferry across the following day. Inside is a distraught innkeeper named Petrius who is the last survivor of an attack by the Bloody Dawn. About the room lie the remains of 7 men and women, 4 locals and 3 Bloody Dawn memebers who Petrius killed. Taz offers to bury the dead for the innkeeper who agrees. Vago and Barrett assist, looting the corpses as they are being taken outside. Taz then sells his remaining cheese to the innkeeper for a large profit and proceeds to get drunk. The group makes merry!

A merchant arrives in the early morn and Taz buys two horses with coin and traded weapons for his companions who are more than estatic at their good fortunes. The merchant tells the 3 to be very careful, to avoid “The Pit” area of town, beware the Bloody Dawn as they are everywhere and that he noted a lone dark rider, a Stygian bearing a crimson and grey cloak…

Chapter I
A Trial of Blood...
*Chapter I *

A Trial of Blood…

Tiberius Prolarri, known as “Taz” in the small community just west of the __ River, leaves his home as a guard to a merchant caravan to Tarantia. Wanting the opportunity for coin and to see the expanse of the Hyborean Empire he says goodbye to his adoptive family, one he has known since the age of 5, and moves on. The trip is swift and, sadly for Tiberius, an uneventful one. However the expansive glory of Tarantia with the Black Tower of Conan looming over all inspires the young man and he quickly forgets his dull travel and delves deep into the city, seeking respite in the Trusted Liar Tavern. The tavern is full, mostly of Argosian Sailors singing shanties and dulling their senses in record time—not a single one looks capable of walking a straight line. Tiberius smiles at the merriment and vows to join in, flirting with the waitress as he appraches the bar. Two Zengarian bards entertain the rowdy crowd. Taz orders 6 ales and commences indulging, finishing two and throwing 2 silver at the Bards to play some Hyborian dance songs. With a wink the bards reply and the crowd cheers its collective agreement. As Taz works at his 3 ale, having only seconds before failed in an attempt to draw the serving girls attention, he notes a lone figure sitting in the corner looking suspicious and next to him a table of rough looking black cloaked soldiers. Taz moves to the corner table and sits with the lone man, offering to buy him a drink. _Just then the doors to the tavern burst open and 8 rogues parade in, asking for everyone’s cash or else…_Taz smiles at the intrusion and turns to see his guest defecate himself and hide under the table. All seems to be going to the rogues plan but something goes astray and they begin to slaughter the patrons with 2 sailors and the barmaid falling first with cut throats. Taz notes the black cloaked figures do not even flinch and return to their conversation as men and women run screaming in all directions in an attempt to escape. Most fail as there are few exits and those are guarded by the rogues, more sailors fall and the 2 bards and the bartender are struck. Taz can stand no more and leaps to the fray, striking one unprepared rogue dead with a massive blow to the skull before cleaving over to injure another. “Leave now and I spare your lives,” Taz growls but the rogues, liking their odds, ignore him. Three move to attack and assist their hurt comrade, one strikes a solid blow with his short sword into Tiberius’ side. The barbarian screams in rage and strikes him dead with a slash of the throat and then pierces the chest of another. The two remaining rogues, shaken, try to use flanking to pin the barbarian but their inept swords fall to his blade. The last 3 are easy fodder as they are spread about the room and more concerned about looting than fighting. Taz strikes two dead before they know what hit them and the last puts up a valiant defense but is not spared. Taz uses his homegrown healing skills to save 2 of the sailors and the bartender but alas not the fair barmaid.

The soldiers in black applaud and welcome the hurt but still vital barbarian to their table. As Taz removes the short sword which had been hanging from his side, he sits and quaffs an ale in one gulp…feeling more alive than he ever has in his 16 years. Taz notes the marking on the men make them members of Conan’s fabled Black Dragon Guard and the eldest introduces himself as the great Commander Pallatides. Awed, the young Taz listens to his offer to assist the Black Dragons on a mission of some importance. Impressed by the offer, even more so after the 500 silver to be given after its completion, Taz agrees and is given a writ of entry to the castle. He smiles and begins to walk out with the soldiers when he notices the 2 “injured” bards are covered in a fruity substance familiar to his riverside tribe which often resembled blood. Noting the deception to the soldiers, the Commander orders them apprehended and when they resist are struck dead. Taz sees the harsh justice and takes note. “Good eye.” states Pallatides as he leaves.

Taz rests into the night and in the morning hires a local guide named Foreskin to take him to the castle, the great Black Fortress. Upon arrival Taz is brought through the magnificence of the castle to a lush meeting chamber where a now relaxed looking Pallatides makes his offer to the young barbarian. Not a week earlier a black cloaked Stygian rider was seen riding the southern countryside and entering Sicas the border city noted for it’s massive silver mine and an amalgum of rogues, thieves, ruffians and other miscreants. Tiberius is told to do the following; 1. Discover the location of the Rider 2. Discover what he/she is doing 3. Report back to Pallatides of issues in the area and any political manuevers or plots afoot 4. Tell no one of his agency to the crown 5. Start no conflicts with the peasants unless necessary, they are a broken and angry people. 6. Trust not the Rider.

After Pallatides states his points, Taz readily agrees and is provided food and shelter in the castle barracks where he plans to set out the next morning. He partakes of a deep and full sleep.


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