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Bastards & Broadswords Origen's D&D 5E campaign.

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Old 11-14-2013, 04:38 AM
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Default Prologue: Malek

Janner Kragg ran through the crowded market hoping to lose the menacing figure pursuing him. Janner was wanted in three cities for robbery, theft, and murder. As well as for the murder of a guard during a jailbreak. He’d only gotten a glimpse of the bald half-orc before he made a dash for the tavern’s back door. It was only a matter of time before someone found him with his clean-shaved face and shorter hair recently dyed black, but how did this one find him so quickly?

The fleeing man crashed into a cart full of fresh fish and eels, knocking both the cart and the merchant over. Janner lay sprawled over a pile of stinking, scaly plaice, bream, and congers. His hands scrabbled at the flagstones beneath the mess and he somehow found his footing again. Bystanders were busy either helping up the fishmonger, or helping themselves to the newly liberated ocean meals. It was just the confusion he needed to make a hasty getaway!

The crowd suddenly fell silent, and Janner glanced around to see a few of the free-loaders looking at something behind him.

Dammit, this guy is too fast!, Janner thought to himself as he turned around.

The hushed crowd let out a gasp almost as one, and there was a crack in the air, sharp and loud. Something wrapped itself around Janner’s ankle, and he was yanked off his feet with tremendous force. He fell back on his backside into the wriggling mess of seafood specials with a loud splat. The end of a whip was tangled about his left boot, and Janner followed the length of wound leather to the massive hand that held the other end.

“I’ll pay you!” he breathed as sweat dripped down his face. “Triple whatever they’re offering! Just let me go and I’ll see that you get the money!”

The sound of a sword being drawn cut through the buzz and hum of the market, and the silence that radiated a short distance from the cart now enveloped the whole of the city block. Someone screamed, and there was a sudden flurry of movement as bystanders cleared a wide berth around the pleading man caught on the end of a line among the scattered fish and eels. But Janner wasn’t about to give up.

The prone man drew his short sword and rolled to his left, yanking the whip free of his pursuer’s grip. The roll turned into a crouch, and he sprang at the half-orc, brandishing his blade. The shortsword swept aside the pursuer’s cloak and scraped across the studded leather armour hidden beneath. The hunter brought his own sword around and down. Janner caught the hand-and-a-half sword on the crossbar of his own weapon, but only just barely. His muscles strained against the steady push of his opponent.

“Leave him alone!” someone on the crowd shouted. A few other voices called out similarly. Others could be heard calling for the watch. But the grim half-orc paid them no mind. He’d caught up with his quarry; the others were mere distractions.

Janner’s mind raced as he tried to formulate an escape plan. But first, he had to deal with this bounty hunter! With a twist of his torso, Janner lashed a solid kick to the hunter’s side.

The half-orc danced away from Janner’s attack and freed his sword, twisting his body around completely, moving like the wind. The hunter whirled around and brought his sword down in a back-handed swing, tearing through Janner’s shoulder and spraying blood across the ground. The fugitive’s sword fell numbly from his fingertips as he clutched at the wound that tore him open from shoulder to sternum.

“Mercy! I’ll give you all of it! Just let me live!” Janner pleaded as his blood continued to flow down his chest. “All that I have! Just spare my life!”

Cold yellow eyes, like frozen amber in the sunlight, fixed upon the begging human. The afternoon sun gleamed across the hunter’s bald pate, but did little to illuminate features behind a red scarf bound about the half-orc’s face.

“Mercy?” the hunter rumbled. “Like the mercy you gave to the woman you killed when you stole that money? Like the mercy you gave when you killed the guard to escape from the gaol? I think not.”

An arm as thick as a tree trunk shot out and grabbed Janner’s blood-soaked tunic and lifted the man off the ground. The fugitive’s feet dangled above the cobbles, crimson droplets falling from the toes to pool in the street.

Someone grabbed the half-orc’s sword arm just as he was about to run Janner through. The bounty hunter turned his burning gaze upon the one who dared interrupt his business.

“Leave him,“ the old man said. He wore the uniform of the Gendarmerie. “We’ll take it from here.”

The bounty hunter pulled his arm free and rammed the length of his sword under Janner’s gut into his ribcage; it was as if the Gendarme’s hand wasn’t even there. The fugitive gasped, legs twitching, then fell silent, hung limp. The half-orc released his grip on the corpse and let it fall at the sergeant’s feet.

“There. He won’t be able to escape your cells again,” the half-orc rumbled. He knelt down and, with a clean stroke of his blade, decapitated the dead man. “I’ll need this to claim the bounty.”

The sergeant backed away, sickened by the brutal efficiency. “Wh-Who are you?”

The half-orc wiped his blade on the dead man’s clothes and sheathed it before standing and facing the Gendarme. He towered over the older man, but his muscular body was relaxed. A scarred hand, twice the size of the sergeant’s own, pulled down the crimson scarf to reveal a gruesome face lined with old scars. Amber eyes looked down at the officer with indifference.

“I am called Malek,” he said with a voice like distant thunder. “I will come to claim the bounty. Make sure they pay in full.”

The sergeant backed away without a word as Malek knelt and carefully placed the severed head into a leather sack before walking away.

“Are we just going to let him go?” a corporal asked his superior timidly.

“He’s a bounty hunter, doing his job,” the sergeant replied as he waved a few other watchmen forward to collect the corpse. “I wouldn’t want to mess with that one, personally. We wouldn’t need the likes of him if you young bucks could deal with trash like Kragg so quickly.”

Not a single person tried to stop Malek as he left the Market, his grim groceries in hand…
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