Year of Darkness 1123
25th - 26th day of the Wolf

The party prepare leave the Merry Farmer on the road east to castle Stormstone, the new seat of the Iron Throne. They are rejoined by Drusilla, the vampyre battlemage, who notices a group of arrogant thugs keeping an eye on her companions. Her exceptional vampyre hearing is able to discern their intentions so she beguiles one of them with her astonishing good looks and natural charm.


Tammaret leads the thug into the stables intending to do away with him. Inside the murderer Yamlorgask awaits; an uncomplicated Wildling slayer who travels with the party on their journey east. Despite being charmed the thug knows an ambush when he sees one and draws a blade on the librarian's son Tammaret.

Before the sorcerer can react Yamlorgask spits a deadly Wildling needle into the thug's back - with unexpected results. The thug coughs and splutters blood, writhes in agony before falling dead at Tammaret's feet.

The other four thugs have heard the commotion and decide to head into the stables. The two vampyres Drusilla and Irmirsul, along with Tahlia the thief and Tragladt the warrior watch and prepare to join the fight. Valorn, the noble archer, eases himself into position as they prepare to stop the thugs getting into the stables.


Tahlia moves quickly but one of the thugs slashes a blade into her face. Saved by the stoneskin protection she drives her dagger up into the man's throat to exit from the top of his skull in an explosion of blood, skull, and brain.

Irmirsul hurls four magic missiles into an opponent before he deftly slices a huge hole in the attacker's windpipe, killing him noisily.

Drusilla casts sleep on the remaining two thugs and the vampyres take control of the prone bodies, their only decision is which throat they want to bite! Inside the stables Yamlorgask and Tammaret decide to tidy up. They are joined by Valorn who spots a stable boy cowering in the corner. He does not want any witnesses so he punches the boy, cracking a few ribs but it is the Wildling murderer's blow dart that finished the poor defenceless boy off.

Now they have horses. Irmirsul casts invisibility on a couple of the better horses in the stables with a view to steal them and Tragladt ransacks the bodies for gold.


Meanwhile, Drusilla and Irmirsul gorge themselves on fresh blood, only stopping when the thugs are dry. Power courses through their veins and their perceptions become supernatural. Both can sense a powerful comes from Immolan, the fire sentinel that has made a home inside Tahlia's lantern. Valorn curses as the Ring of Granite becomes unbearably hot on his finger and turns to ash.

The noble archer scowls at Tahlia, stares at the lantern with murder in his eyes.

Tahlia admonishes the fire sentinel but Immolan is not perturbed. "Everyone needs to eat my lady thief."

Drusilla goes Bat

They ride east for several hours until the encounter a patrol of ten soldiers stopping people and enquiring as to their business. Drusilla turns herself into a bat before the sergeant at arms speaks to the party. Instinctively he addresses the large-nosed noble Valorn. The sergeant seems impressed by the nobleman and fawns all over him, even offering him a reward for slaying the thugs.

After leaving the patrol the weather turns nasty. They ride through a vicious storm until they reach another wayside innhouse call the Flailing Farmer and decide to bed down for the night.

It is surprisingly packed. Only the sight of gold pieces convinces the innkeeper that he should give them a room.

They quickly learn that a wizard called Salinar is holding a tournament at an ancient set of stone circles nearby, and is offering powerful magic to the winner. His apprentice, a sorcerer called Tolryn, has set up in a corner and is taking the names of those who wish to participate.

That evening Irmirsul writes a web scroll, which Drusilla absorbs into her repertoire. Valorn decides to enter the tournament and learns from Tolryn that the fight is not necessarily to the death but is held inside an anti-magic area that Salinar creates.

"It is a test of skill and open to all disciplines," the apprentice tells him.

"What about archery?" Valorn says.

"All hand-to-hand disciplines."

The next morning the crowds head for the stone circle, a set of twenty one monoliths that mark an area with the diameter of thirty feet. Tolryn sets up the bouts and the noble archer meets Salinar, who bows respectfully and says that he is hoping for an entertaining tourney.

"What is this ring?" Valorn says.

Salinar shows him the band. "It is the Ring of Ascension and will make you difficult to beat in combat."

Irmirsul gathers as much gold as he can and with Tammaret decide to play the many bookmakers at their own game. The shrewd vampyre has an eye for a wager, along with a keen sense of who will win in a straight fight. Between them he and Tammaret find the best odds possible. Valorn is an unknown so they get good odds.

Valorn fights Starlin, a dwarf with a huge warhammer, and decides to lightning draw before combat officially starts. It is a tactic he uses in all the subsequent bouts.

Many of the crowd root for the dwarf and there are some offensive anti-noble comments about the size of his nose. Whilst the dwarf is brute strength and force, Valorn is agility and skill. The nobleman deftly disarms the warhammer before a crushing blow smashes through the thick bone of dwarven skull and slices his brain in two.

The odds on Valorn shorten considerably for the next bout although Irmirsul and Tammaret still manage to get good odds because he faces Hammet, a female vampyre with a longsword.

But nothing fazes Valorn. After opening a large cut on the vampyre's arm he ducks under a couple of rapid strikes before decapitating the elf with a deadly and efficient backhand stroke. The crowd begin to realise that Valorn is not here just to make up the numbers. Even Salinar, the powerful sorcerer, congratulates him on his skill.

Meanwhile Tammaret - who has been an avid critic of the fire sentinel, suggests that they find a pool and extinguish the irritating Immolan. To Tammaret's horror he feels the powerful surge and incredible heat from his pocket. The compass of Ulnar is consumed within seconds, leaving the librarian's son lost for words...and lost for magic.

Irmirsul watches in the shadows: he alone can feel the awesome power that the fire sentinel can unleash.

Tahlia raps the side of the lantern. "Stop that!"

"He started it," Immolan says grumpily.

Valorn is paired against another elven female, this time an archer by the name of Lorya.

"I can see that you are an archer," she says, "why don't we settle this with a shootout?"

Valorn senses the elf has hundreds of years more experience than he does. He grins at her. "No my lady; my luck with the blade has served me well today. Let's cross swords."


She nods and they commence with longswords. Valorn's lightning draw opens up a wound in her chest that will prove vital as the fight progresses. In truth they are well matched. Both skilled warriors there is little to choose between them but the open wound in the elf's chest is another to wear her down. She misses a routine parry and Valorn cuts through her leather helmet and through her left eye, buries the blade deep into her skull.

To his relief she is not dead. A horde of priests converge on her and there is wholesale cheering when it is announced that she has survived. Much of the cheering is for their new hero: Valorn the Slayer - who after three bouts has not succumbed to as much as a scratch.

Irmirsul and Tammaret continue to fleece the bookmakers as they reach the last four.

Up steps Algernon Ironhand, a guard captain at castle Stormstone sporting a large greatsword and a big smile. He too is unblemished.

Valorn knows he is up against it but he has luck on his side. It is the shortest bout; Valorn leaps quickly into the fray, slashes a vicious cut into Algernon's swordarm, opening a huge gash and slices through many important ligaments. The greatsword falls uselessly to the ground as the guard captain laughs despite the obvious pain.

"It seems I should yield since I can't even hold my bloody arm up!"

The crowd go wild. Meanwhile the wildling murderer Yamlorgask is up to no good once again. Whilst the crowd have their full attention on the tournament he decides to try out his newfound poison on some of them, spiking drinks and contaminating water skins surreptitiously.

The final is between Valorn and a well known assassin from the capital called Corbius. He is a squat ugly man who does not fight fair; in fact it is apparent from the outset that he intends to poison the nobleman.

Valorn struggles to get into the fight with the awkward and dangerous killer. He is quick and uses blades concealed in his shoes to try to make the one contact that will slow and ultimately kill his opponent.

But the nobleman is not without skill. He manages eventually to carve a large gash in the assassin's sword arm, which is enough to slow him down sufficiently. Valorn waits patiently for the one mistake, toys with the killer until the pain of his wound makes him misjudge a parry.

Valorn's sword takes out the killer's eye and half his skull. When Corbius falls to his knees in agony Valorn calmly moves behind him and with an efficient strike decapitates the killer. The crowd cheer and applaud wildly. Irmirsul and Tammaret applaud as well because thanks to their friend they have become rich; although Irmirsul decides not to tell Valorn that he bet on the killer as well...just in case.

Valorn receives the Ring of Ascension from Salinar along with an invitation to the academy of magic. "Although do not bring the vampyres," he says as a parting shot, throwing Drusilla and Irmirsul an unsavoury glance.

Algernon Ironhand - complete with fully healed arm thanks to the priests - also extends his hand to the nobleman. "You are welcome at my barracks if the academy becomes tiresome...which I assure you it will."

As the crowds disperse Yamlorgask is up to no good once more. He finds and tracks a nobleman, worse for wear after the morning tournament having drunk too much ale. He stalks him until he is out of sight.

But Yamlorgask choose unwisely. His attempts to put a blow dart into his quarry fail and despite the nobleman being drunk he is still dangerous. A single backhanded strike is all it takes...Yamlorgask falls headless to the deck and the nobleman shakes his head and leaves him to rot...