Episode 4: The First Hunt
The Winter Holidays, celebrated as Gebmas and Yule, caused tensions to be relieved for a short time. The Sargaonians were ordered to only conduct defensive maneuvers and to wait until after winter to begin construction on a road from Sargon to the frontier. However, howls, terrifying growls, the gnashing of teeth, and other monstrous sounds filled the dark air of the woods as the eye of Bendis bagan to open in the sky.
However, this did not deter carolers and priests of Alcyon from conducting their yearly pilgrimage of spreading the word of Geb across the land of Mordavia. Baroness Era, being a Charity Elf made sure that the Heroic Souls of the town received gifts in honor of Gebmas.
The Royal Prospector returns, missing his left arm, part of his left leg, and with his mind seemingly scrambled. He raved about seeing “all the maps”, “every pathway”, “infinite possibilities”, and other strange nonsense, such as experiencing the passing of several years of time. Although he was obviously addled, he maintained enough cognizance to return to his prospecting camp in the forest where he proceeded to make “maps” that were entirely alien or completely illegible and not “maps” of any kind that anyone could tell. Several Heroic Souls began helping him try to repair his mind and make sense of all that he had seen and experienced.
Despite the tensions and strange events, the Free Tribes of Eredeti, who do not associate with the politics of the other Wildkin tribes, were in good spirits. They were determined to celebrate the holidays with the heroic soul of the frontier town and made plans with Baroness Era. As a sign of peace they shared the bounty of the forest with the frontier town in the celebration of Yule.
It seemed that nothing would ruin the holiday celebrations. That is until the next night when the Eye of Bendis was fully opened and it illuminated the forest under it’s silver glow. The Hunt master revealed himself as a permanently transformed Fox Varkalac. The pack was assembled under the Hunt Master and ritually transformed into powerful Varkalac and they were given the target of their first Hunt – a nearby camp of Royal Sargonian Military.
The Pack, not having much choice, accepted their target. However, the Hunt Master, being true to its nature as a fox, set up a cunning trap. The nearby Sargonian Royal Military Camp was under duress from a ferocious attack by a large Wildkin force, so Captain Warforged sent a messenger to the Frontier Town asking for emergency reinforcements, as they were in danger of being overrun. With the promise of valuable Silver Weapons and Alchemy, many of the Heroic Souls decided to join in the aid of the Royal Sargonian Military.
However, this was all according to the Huntmaster’s plan, as the real target of the Hunt was the Mayor of the town, Baroness Era. The Huntmaster, concealed in all black cloth over his menacing red fur, made his way stealthily through the town with just a single minion. Though many of the strong warriors of the town left for the front line, the Baroness was still well defended on the Balcony with her other noble followers, and a bastion of defenders in the main bunk house. However, the side entrance was the weak point. The Huntmaster and his minion waited in the darkness until the guards inevitably became bored, distracted, and disorganized.
Then, the Huntmaster and his dog companion simply walked up the stairs in total silence. The quickness and audacity of this move allowed them to make it past several guards and halfway to the entrance, without even casting a spell, as the Huntmasters menacing presence compelled the guards into stunned silence, lest they would surely meet a quick demise. The cowardly guards were quickly vindicated in their fears when the first guard yelled to sound the alarm and was vaporized by necromantic magic as his companion was eviscerated by the claws of the Huntmasters minion. Within a matter of moments, the Huntmaster and his guard dog were at the door to the Baroness’ balcony. They leisurely slew the two guards foolish enough to remain loyal, while the rest ran in abject terror.
After easily forcing entry onto the balcony, the Huntmaster took some time to speak to his prey, Baroness Era. The Huntmaster had one of the nobles there pour him a drink in his personal goblet. He merrily sipped from a straw as he explained that this was the culmination of a plan set in motion over 5 years before this, by HIS Master, and that he was incredibly thrilled to simply carry out his orders and fulfill his master’s wishes. After revealing that they knew much about her Nobles, the Huntmaster admitted that he was somewhat disappointed by the lack of intrigue the Baroness had concerning her. As he casually finished his drink, he suddenly slayed the Baroness and the Nobles that dared interfere. Within an instant of consuming her body, the Huntmaster took her magical necklace, supposedly now containing the Baroness’ soul and put it around his own neck, declaring it one of his promised rewards.
Looking out from the Balcony, the Huntmaster could see many of the Heroic Souls looking at him with mixed emotions of fear, anger, and helplessness. He exclaimed that the forest belonged to the Huntmaster and they should avoid interfering in the Packs affairs or else they would meet the same fate as the Baroness. Before the town could fully comprehend what had just happened, the Huntmaster and his minion disappeared into the night. This left the Heroic Souls with many questions and emotions and few answers.