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Murder and Torture in the Old Town // Synth the Throat 35

Other than the usual burglary, robbery, riot and brawls that Ilanthor is used to it has been quiet until now. Shadowalker has kept an iron grip on the Old Town, destroying dissent from the Merchants Guild and using the threat of his much-vaunted unnatural skills to cow the population. But there have been emerging signs of challenges to the Tyrants rule, and now one of the most feared of Guilds has literally shown its hand.

Jonquil, a Merchant turncoat and ally of Master Shadowalker, has been found dead at the Northgate showing signs of brutal torture. His body was hung by a simple dockyard rope from an arch, but it is believed that the poor fellow was killed eslewhere and removed to his final hanging place later.
Many townsfolk saw the body before it was removed by men of the Watch and many saw the grisly arrangement placed on the cobbles beneath where poor Jonquil hung. A red-dyed severed arm holding an ornate broken blade was placed beneath the body – the sign of a Guild paid by the highest bidder to terrorise and kill their enemies.

.. You retrieve your knife from where it is hidden at your belt and step carefully down the road. The streets are clotted with early mist and there are shady-looking folk under the eaves. All of them look down the Way towards the river, where a few small wareshouses and artisan hovels vie for space on the very edge of the walled cliff. The screaming stops. A crowd begins to form where a young woman, her basket of washing dropped at her feet, points into the gloom cast by an archway. A body hangs there, well clothed but with its neck at an impossible angle held by a thick hessian rope. For a moment you wonder if the rags and red flesh at his feet are perhaps entrails or a severed limb, but the blood-covered hand, and the grey-steel blade that the fingers hold are not from the hanging corpse – all of his limbs are still attached
“Call out the Watch!” An old fellow at one of the hovels steps finally takes a little initiative “An’ every one of you step back and leave it be! That red hand and its blade will be covered in poison that will kill you to the touch!”
A younger fellow, uncomfortable in himself as he holds a cosh, leans a little closer to study what is the on the floor.
“How’d you know that old fella?” He asks, daring to reach up and steady where the body swings a little in the air.
“I seen the mark of the Killing Hand about thirty years ago back at the White Tree..” He says, before spitting on the floor

The Caldoen Clans have marched across the western border and re-taken ownership of their long abandoned Brochs // Candir 29

“They’re in the Tower!” Weez yells shrilly. You can see why he is being so hysterical now that the Calds have so decisively stolen from him his one source of shelter, income, safety.
“They have.” You reply, “The lads did not give up much a fight.”
The irony is palpable. Paid handfuls of silver to hold the Broch and stop anyone from taking it with force, those vaunted Mercenaries literally opened the door when the warband arrived and let the wester-men walk straight in.
“What are they doing down there on the path?” your employer hisses. Two of the Caldoen stoop for a moment over one of the kneeling prisoners. There is a savage motion left to right, then with a gentle push a newly created corpse falls over the edge of the cliff and down to the rocks below.
“They’re killing them.” You observe, “And that’s why you do not surrender to savages. No sense of fairness in any of them.”
“Bastards!” Weez bellows. That blood vessel on his neck starts to pulse again. You feel hungry
“What are you going to do about it?” He demands.
“I’m going to leave your employ.” you reply, looking around the area for a decent route out of here with the least amount of trouble.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not hanging around when all that wealthis gone. The place I’m supposed to be helping you develop for the Tyrant is now in the hands of those hairy-arsed loons.” you mutter, “I’m off.”
Weez seems to explode in a tirade of abuse. One phrase he uses settles it quite quickly for what you are to do next
“I’ll have you killed for this you cunt!!” He hisses halfway through
You step forwards and with three quick motions, similar to those being done by the Caldeon less than a mile away, you stab the horrible little man to death with the fine knife he gave you.
“No you won’t”
Someone at the Tower starts a fire, and as you step onto the Ilanthor road you whince at the first sounds of some poor buggers torture.

The Blood Robin and the Raven // An extract from The Dreamer 44

From amongst the trees a shrill but clear song echoes across the still and a tiny bird appears on a low branch..
“Blood Robin, there.. there..”
Seeing the Crow, it rises from its perch and spreads its wings to catch the frigid air. Impossibly quick it rises into the sky, gaining a greater height than its darker and larger cousin. You lose the creature in the sun for a second – and as you regain sight of the tiny bird it folds its wings and drops faster than a stone towards its enemy.
The Crow explodes in a mass of feathers, bones and expanding flesh.
“Fucking hells. Luhn preserve us.” Your nameless companion breathes in surprise.
“She won’t help us out here.” You reply, “This is Cerns territory. And that little red-breast is doubtless one of his servants.”

The Life of Wurz Chapter 32 // Extract ‘The Consequence of Fear’

You look away from the small, pitiful bodies of those that died. You reach down and gather your knives. You take a few moments to collect your thoughts and suppress that all too familiar seethe of anger that you know is close, so close to bubbling free. This clearing is a nexus of sorts, a place where multiple paths meet & where the river escapes for a few moments from underground and rushes over pebbles and rocks. People have passed here enough to show their sign, so why did at least one small family die of exposure, or starvation or attack when they had the means to stay alive for perhaps a few more days? It would have only taken a few more miles for them to reach the Manse and get to safety. They must have been terrified. How can you be so scared for yourself that you hide from shelter and prefer to die here?

You get only a few hundred yards before you turn back and return to the wagon. After arranging the bodies as gently as you can together in a swath of blankets, you spare some of your fire-oil, spark a flame and then walk away from the pyre. Marten asks you for orders.
“West.” You reply as the baresark roars in your ears again, “West to War.”

Miraculous Events at the Pavement

Long the place of legends and not a few myths, the Pavement to the northeast of the Bluestone Mine has seen at least one new miracle in the last few days. The fabled Lightning Tree has bloomed!! – After decades of fire twisted branches and a trunk split by many lightning atrikes, the solitary Yew Tree has been discovered by the traveller known as Matric as being covered in newly-grown leaves and berries, less than a few days after it was repeatedly lightning struck and burnt in one of the first of this years Winter storms. The Tree is seen as some kind of compass to the prosperity and peace within the region – It is said that if the tree is struck and set to burning then all will not be well in the Ilanthor region and its occupants will suffer either War, Famine, Plague or a recession in Prosperity. In the past, the burning of the Lightning Tree has seen the infamous Winter snows that led to starvation and mass death, invasion and subsequent war with Rignor, and only last year the outbreak of the Corvid Fever attributed to the Raven and his allies.
No-one knows what will follow this new omen, but surely this cannot be any worse than the above?

Mistress Matric and her companions are Antiquarians seeking evidence of the Lost and evidence of the Fall, in order to further understand the nature of the Coldbringer and its increasingly dangerous effect on the Middle and West Isles

A herd of sheep killed in the last lightning strike have been observed to be suddenly alive and well on the Fell below the Pavement, and Matric has declared sightings of a rare White Hart as being a blessing by the Lady Goddess of the Moon herself – Luhn.