A House of Cards

A Mycenae Exile in Aurun II

Tusks, wings, and flame.

I am Leontios Tagaris, of the family Kaleothes, and this is my story.

Nazar, Duke of these lands, has hired Ioanna and I, along with a band of others.

I first came to his attention when a great boar — you who read this will not believe this when I tell you it was greater than four horses in size, but lies to not fall from my lips easily, and neither do they flow from my pen!

While others thrashed around in the scrub and bushes, Ioanna cunningly set us upon a game trail, and before too long it charged us, leaving broken huntsmen in its wake!

Many would have quailed, but have I not stood upon the rocky plains of Parses unflinching while the numberless Red Bull shields of the Caranae hoplites closed upon us? To turn from this beast would have lead both Ioanna and me to Ianna’s grey fields, to dance among the fading shadows of history we joined that day.

I managed to avoid its tusks, wicked ivory barbs the size of my sword, and having impaled it upon my spear began the bloody work of killing the beast with my sword. Thus, I came to the attention of the Duke.

Summoned before the Duke, we met others. A priest, and a local temple-warrior of some kind, devotees of Zoraster. A magistrate skilled in the arcane arts. A warrior, one of the so-called war-masters of the Aurun Legion, and his shield brother, a man as tall and as wide across the shoulder as I, although lacking in my Mycenean civility and charm. All pleasant enough, for barbarians.

This duchy is beset, we are told, as if the proof that has met our eyes as we travelled is not enough. We were placed on retainer to solve this problem, a few heroes of legend against a tide of darkness.

Our first village investigated was abandoned, like a village in the path of a campaigning army. We did not loot and torch this village, burn the orchards, trample the crops, slay the animals, nor spoil the fields with salt, for these are our Duke’s lands.

I suspected marauders, for wherever there is wealth of any sort left unattended you will find human rats, picking at the corpse. Instead we faced creatures of myth!

Ioanna and I slew a harpy, a shrieking thing with the wings and legs of a vulture but the torso of a woman. Yet the second entranced us with her sorcerous song. Deviltry! Still, she could not trap us all with her arcane wiles, and fell to the blades of my new companions.

On our trip to the second abandoned village an unnatural fog descended upon us. Carthonian, a magistrate and Magus, expressed concerns. His wisdom was evident to all, for as we crossed a bridge constructed in the Mycenean fashion we were beset by a troll!

Our newest companion was unhorsed. A saddle is no place for a fighting man, so I dismounted, and entrusting my reins to Ioanna, who had distracted the creature with an arrow, I charged, alongside my companions.

My spear was the first to bleed the creature, the glory is mine, I swear it to be so!

None the less, the fearsome creature towered over us, and despite years of training not even I could block its wicked claws nor sharp teeth. This was not work for one, but many, for the enemies of Civilization know no honour, and I gladly share a portion of the glory with those who bravely fought alongside me.

Soon my companions and I had slain the beast, but its wounds knit themselves together before my eyes! This sounds a tale of whimsy, but if you believe even one of my words, believe these! We consigned the creature to the fire, for no evil healing can overcome the Blessing of Fire that Peremochus the Titan stole from Zoraster’s chariot and carried to humanity.

By the mercy of Zoraster, known here as Ammonar, my wounds were mended. For this I give thanks, and will offer a lamb up to the gods at my next opportunity.

This troll had been about its work for some time, for a sizable portion of treasure, coin, cloth, casks, and chests were all cluttered about its mucky lair. We leave now, our mission set aside, for such riches need to be secured, our minds free of such concerns, when next we face the supernatural forces that threaten this land.

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