The Morghun Host (title image)

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Kraagen of Treel, and his Travelling Circus

Lady Twiglet,

This is a tale of my youth, From when I was bout eighty years or so old. In fact it was not long after I had acquired my sword (the one with the purple bits).

I woke from a hangover, having spent the last of my hoard the night before. Crawling from my bed I realised I was going to have to do something soon to recover some my previous financial well being. I dressed and left the tavern, still a little the worse for wear, into a cold, wet, morning (At least it woke me up a little.) I walked for the best part of a day, casually strolling down the road, whilst I contemplated my next course of action.

Later, as dusk was falling I saw some torches burning further along that forlorn road, and thought it might be nice to have some company, and possibly a free meal. As I got closer I saw it was a travelling fair of some sort, all gaily lit with lanterns, gleaming from the silken tents. "Ohho!" I thought "travelling folk. Maybe I can travel with them a ways, and save some boot leather." so I approached the camp, wherein I heard music and laughter. As I neared I was stopped by a sentry "what d'you want this late on?" she asked. " I was walking this way and wondered if I could camp with your convoy this night. I mean no harm, I am alone and weary. " I replied. She looked long and hard at me, and for some time. Eventually she grunted and said " all right. Come on in. But no trouble you hear!" she patted the hilt of her sword meaningfully.

I walked past her and entered the camp for to look around. There were tented carts with boards upon them, proclaiming their contents. "MARVON THE MAGNIFICENT," said one, "MAGICIAN EXTRAODINAIRE". Another stated "MUNGO'S FREAK SHOW, YOU WILL BE AMAZED!" and so on. I carried on towards the fire pit and settled myself down next to a man in a fur robe. I introduced myself, and was pleased to hear he was the owner of this travelling menagerie of humanity. " Pleased to meet ye, sir" he said warmly, shaking my hand. " I am Kraagen of Treel, you may have heard of me and my circus?" I assured him I had (a lie), to which he seemed greatly pleased. Food and drink was passed my way, and I became comfortable, listening to the tales and songs, and watching the dancers' panther like grace in the flickering fire light. Eventually things wound down, and Kraagen offered me a cot in one of the guards wagons, which I gratefully accepted.

The next morning dawned bright, and I was awoken by the cart I was in moving. I popped my head out of the wagon, and saw the whole convoy was on the move! I sat on the back of the wagon, and relaxed in the sun. Not long after, Kraagen rode up to me on a pony. Looking at me he smiled and said " glad to see you comfortable." Then he looked at me appraisingly. "You want some work? You have the look of one who lives by his sword, and I was a-thinking I could always use another guard for a while, If guarding takes yer fancy?" I willingly accepted, and found myself walking next to a cart that said "COOPERO AND HIS DANCING BEAR". Sure enough there was a sorry looking bear in the cart, and a man in an extravagant turban driving. I nodded to him and resumed my post.

We pulled into a town that afternoon, amidst fanfare and curious, strangely reticent onlookers, where children merely looked at us with fearful eyes, and set up. I was set to patrolling the fair, on the lookout for trouble, as elves are sharper of eye than most. It was remarkably trouble-free that evening, with only a couple of pick pockets. We were closing up for the night, when we heard hoof beats galloping towards our camp. I was dispatched to investigate, and espied a group of five men coming down the road, obviously intent on the camp. I reported back to my new boss, and he walked out to meet them, me and several others in tow. The men reigned in their steeds, and the one in the middle addressed Kraagen. " I am Peiter, lord of this area, and you are performing here without permission, you will pack and leave hence forth, as you are clearly spies for my enemies. If you don't I will have my men kill you all as a lesson to the others. I will so! Just you see!" I noticed though he was richly dressed, he looked a little dishevelled, and twitched somewhat, clearly he was not quite sane. His guardsmen looked nervous and miserable. Kraagen looked shocked "But, but, we are merely a travelling circus! We offer no harm! And we are not spies, how ludicrous!" The noble stiffened in his saddle, and before any of us could react had pulled his word and lashed out at poor Kraagen. Kraagen tumbled to the floor bleeding, and the noble laughed, wheeled his horse and galloped away with his guards.

We ministered to the wounded circus keeper, but he was sorely injured, and we didn't have much hope for his life. Around midnight the lordling returned with more men. He set about ordering his men, directing them to wagons and ordering them to hitch the horses to them, which was met with resistance from the circus folk. The lord, motioning with a peculiar purplish staff of office, set with stones of the same colour, ordered any resistors slain. This cowed the travellers, and they were sent on their way, pursued at distance by a detachment of armoured soldiers. I was in Kraagen's wagon, and he motioned me over, "Go ye back and kill the bastard", he whispered. " He is a madman, and has cruelly treated all around him for many a year, this is my second run in with him, and I fear, my last. Bring me that purple mace of his to prove his demise, and I'll make you a rich man." I agreed to his request, as the lord's behaviour was truly wrong, and slipped away from the caravan.

I snuck back to the lord's hall, which sat atop a hill above the town we had been in. I climbed a wall, and being o so quiet, snuck past the lack lustre guards, and waited. I saw the lord go through a door, and, sneaking a glance through his window, saw him readying for bed. I waited for his candle to be put out, and ever so sleekly went through his window, which was fortunately open. He never even stirred as I slipped my dagger across his throat, collected the mace, and left the way I had come.

Arriving in the early light at Kraagen's Wagon, I heard crying. I entered and found several of his troupe by his bed. He had died shortly after I had left. Sadly I collected my kit and left the circus with a small bag of money the guard captain had given me to cover my wages. Once at a distance from them, I retrieved the mace from my pack, as I had not been able to show Kraagen, and no one else knew I had it, and looked at it properly. It was quite lovely with a spiral pattern running round its head, and matched set of stones on both hand guard and pommel, and one great faceted stone set at its base. "Worth a bit" I thought, "bit not in these here parts. Far to distinctive" So I put it back in my pack. I still have it, for some reason, I never got round to selling it. Now it languishes at the bottom of my trunk.

Source: S. Erridge

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