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.