Captain Kona'an is a 6th level fighter in the Human Kingdom of Croc Island. He was promoted to 6th level by General Hrothnor himself only eight months before and had just been promoted to Captain last week by Major Chavnek. Upon first seeing him, people often felt slightly intimidated. It wasn't because he had an imposing height. He only stood slightly taller than an average man but his build was that of a power lifter. He was massive and built seemingly out of stone, for he seemed to be cut and chiseled from a terrifically dense and substantial mass. His dark brown hair cropped at the neck was straight which only seemed to make his bronzed skin tone darker. Never accused as being an ugly man, he was far from handsome. He maintained a rugged, outdoors-man appearance even while wearing his formal military best.
As the messenger left, Captain Kona'an opened the scroll from the Major with his newest orders. It seems that a human village near the North Forest was having trouble with people disappearing without explanation. He was to to take a unit of ten soldiers to investigate and solve the problem.
Not only is it important to protect the villagers from outside intruders but protecting the forest borders was also important as part of the treaty with the forest Elves. It had been thus for the last 3,000 years and to keep their peaceful and beneficial relations, it was up to the human soldiers such as him to make sure nothing entered the forests to disturb the if at all possible. He would protect both villagers and the forest borders with everything he had.
He chose First Lieutenant Krognarth to assemble the unit. Krognarth was a great First Lieutenant and was a very good 5th level fighter in his own right.
The trip to HornBlows, the village near the border, would only take about two hours if the soldiers ran ahead of the supply wagon instead of riding in it. Captain Kona'an began loading the wagon with the supplies he believed they would need.
Each soldier would have their own army issued short sword and large round iron-bound wooden shields. They should also each have their issued leather armor and leather padded helms as well.
He would load 15 polearms and 5 longbows, 5 shortbows and a barrel of 300 arrows. He would load rations for the whole unit to last for a week. The army had agreements in place with most vendors in the villages and cities to allow soldiers to purchase extra supplies just in case.
The army didn't dare not pay the vendors. He'd heard in other places that Kings and such would just order the people to turn over whatever supplies the army needed on demand. That wouldn't work in the Human Kingdom on Croc Island. No, that wouldn't work at all.
The army existed only because the people saw a value of having a force prepared to handle issues such as monsters and opposing armies (though there had not been an opposing army for 3,000 years unless you counted the random skirmishes with the lizard people who found their way over the Powder Mountains).The first time the government tried to just take something from people, there would be insurrection so fast the Speaker and the Council people's heads would spin. Not to mention that most of the soldier's, if not all of them would mutiny at the same time.
The populace of the Human Kingdom was not one to tolerate an oppressive government by any means. Kona'an remembered the stories of the great Insurrection of 400 years ago when the Speaker at the time, an old man who apparently thought that the people were incapable of living their own lives or something crazy like that, tried to place a tax on the people. He and the entire council were drug out into the Great Commons and nearly hung all at once. As it was, the Speaker was imprisoned for life and the Council were all replaced in a new election.
"Nope," thought Kona'an, "Let the Elves and the Dwarves have their Kings and rulers." There was no place for such among free people.
As he loaded the wagon, Lieutenant Krognarth returned with Sergeant Pirnoth a noteworthy 3rd level fighter and eight more soldiers, all of them 2nd level fighters. Captain Kona'an frowned as he looked over the unit. There should be at least one more person to make it a proper unit of ten.
As he frowned at the approaching lieutenant, Krognarth raised his hands in front of him and gave a grin that implied he knew what the captain was thinking. "We have good fortune with us Captain," he began, "We have a Magic User joining us to fill the unit out." Kona'an lightened up from a frown to a general scowl. A Magic User 'could' be of help if they weren't the inept bumblers that he usually seemed to have worked with.
From out of the headquarters office, he noticed a tall, robed woman with ebony hair flowing down the length of her back. She snapped her fingers at a couple of soldiers to grab some containers and follow her to where Captain Kona'an was standing behind the supply wagon. Kona'an thought she looked like a very 'healthy' elf. She was slender built but with a form and sway of movement that was decidedly not very elf-like. She had an almost rosewood complexion with high cheek bones and eyes that seemed sparkly, but watery grey.
As she closed in, she said to him, "Will there be room for my things in the supply wagon Captain or will I need to arrange for another transport?" Kona'an let out a deep sigh. The last thing he needed was to have a second wagon slowing them down just to haul the baggage of a Magic User.
"If that's all you have Wizardess, then it will fit on this wagon." Kona'an replied to her, hoping that it was indeed all she had. As the two soldiers began to toss the things into the wagon, she calmly said to him, "Only these few things and nothing more good Captain. Your reputation for travelling light precedes you." He gave her a quizzical look. He'd only been a Captain for a week, how could he have a reputation already?
As his unit climbed into their saddles, Kona'an looked at the Magic User and frowned again. "I take it you need a ride Wizardess or will you be levitating the whole way?" She grinned at him, gave him a wink and replied, "I was hoping there might be room for me in the wagon as well." Kona'an motioned to the front of the wagon and said, "There is if you know how to drive horses Wizardess."
Surprising him with her casualness, she climbed up into the seat, grabbed the reins of the two horses, and gave him a thumbs up signal that she was ready. Kona'an shook his head. He liked her despite his initial appraisal of her but she was still an unknown in regards to how helpful she would be. If Headquarters felt the need to assign a Magic User to his unit, then he would take the help however useless it might turn out to be.
They were making good time. It was just now reaching the two-hour time frame Captain Kona'an had determined and the unit was just now cresting the hill up to HornBlows, the village that had reported mysterious disappearances. There were about fifteen buildings and homes in the village proper with about another eight or ten on the Southern outskirts.
A man approached Kona'an from the general store his unit had stopped in front of and came to a stop in front of him. He looked nervously at all the soldiers and especially at the robed woman in the wagon before he spoke up. "Hello Captain. I take it you are here in response to our request for help on stopping the disappearances here.
Taking a deep breath, Kona'an released it slowly as he replied to the man who was obviously Mayor of this village. "Yes, honorable Mayor, it is our duty to aid you in this request as the army has determined it has a high probability of being a monster problem.
The small man shuddered visibly then. "We were afraid that might be the case. Had it just been a case of men gone bad, we would have preferred to handle it locally. However none of our searches could find any men from the surrounding area who might be engaging in such behavior."
Kona'an looked around at the village surrounding him and asked the Mayor, "Has any other evidence been found since the report to the army?"
"We did find this fabric at what could be the scene of an abduction." The Mayor replied as he handed over a piece of material that was about two yards square, more-or-less and had a very peculiar feeling to the skin as the captain took it in hand.
It was soft, yet highly resilient when he tried tugging at it from each end. "When was this found?" he asked. The mayor considered for a moment, "Sometime this morning about 4 a.m. It must have been shortly after the most recent abduction. The local baker says he heard a shout in the back of the building just before then."
"This is like no fabric I've ever seen." exclaimed Kona'an. "Nor I as well." Said the mayor. All of the soldiers shook their heads as none of them had seen the like of it among them.
"What do you make of this Wizardess?" Kona'an asked the Magic User as he tossed the fabric to her on the wagon. "Have you seen such fabric in your experiences?" The Wizardess shook her head very slowly as her only reply.
"We shall set up our camp just to the South side of the village your Honor", Kona'an told the Mayor as he climbed back onto his prized war horse, Martin.
"Once we have set camp, we shall begin the investigation." he finished. As the mayor nodded, Kona'an turned his horse south and his unit with him with the Wizardess driving the wagon, falling into line behind them.
A few hours later, the Wizardess caught Captain Kona'an outside his tent and motioned with her head that she wanted him to follow her away from the others. After a distance, she stopped and,speaking softly, said to him, "Captain, do you know who I am?" He shook his head to indicate that he did not, in fact know her.
"My name is not 'Wizardess', Captain, though I do not correct your title for me. I am Laryana, and I am a Magic User of the 6th house. My abilities are well above the Magic Users you are used to dealing with in the army.
He nodded his head, letting her say her piece though he wished she would get on with it.
"As I said, I am much more experienced than the typical army mage. When you asked me earlier in front of the mayor if I had seen this material before," she held up the cloth he had tossed to her. "I shook my head in silence not to say that I hadn't a familiarity but that I couldn't believe that I was actually seeing it again."
"So you do know what it is then?" He asked in a forced whisper. "I'm afraid I do Captain, though it won't be to your liking." "Out with it then and keep it secret no longer." He replied, grabbing her wrist and cloth together.
"This is no mere cloth Captain but a very rare silk. So rare in fact that none exists outside of this sample." "How is it that you claim this?" Kona'an rumbled. "This silk Captain, will likely be gone by day's end, if not shortly after. This is the silk of the Gar-rokna."
"I do not know that word, Wizardess, explain it to me." Kona'an said quietly to her. "I know not the word you would know it by, but it is a silk of a very large and dangerous spider that walks like a man." She told him. "I must consult my books now to be prepared to help you if I can." With that, the woman turned and walked away without another word.
Kona'an returned to the Mayor at the general store. "How frequently have the disappearances ocurred?" He asked. The Mayor shrugged. Perhaps once or twice a week over the past six weeks now." Replied the older man. "And they all occur in the dark, at night?" Kona'an continued. "Yes," said the Mayor. "Never in the day."
"I will set a guard at various places as well as a patrol that will be in constant movement around the village for the next few nights." Kona'an told the Mayor.
"Are you imposing a curfew on the village?" asked the Mayor. "There might be trouble if you try to.
"We cannot impose anything on the citizens as you well know,but please try to convince them that staying indoors and out of the way will go a long way to keeping them alive."
That first night there were no disappearances or disruptions. Nor were there any over the next three nights. Kona'an had seen nothing of the Magic User since they had their whispered discussion of giant spiders. This did nothing to improve his opinion on the value of Magic Users in army activities.
He'd considered going to her tent and consulting her more on this but decided that if she'd had anything of value to contribute, she would have done so already.
Just as he had given up hope on her as he passed her tent, she burst from the tent and nearly ran straight at him. "Captain, I have learned more of what we face though my divinations. I must ask you, have you any weapons of silver?"
"Of course," he replied, looking at her as if she were daft. "Any time a unit is dispatched to deal with a potential monster issue, silver weapons are part of the mission issue."
"That is well then," she told him. "For tonight your foe will return and though it has tried to hide away, it's hunger will send it out in a frenzy."
As the soldier's resumed their position's that night, they each were armed with silvered polearms. Six soldiers had locations staked out about the village. Captain Kona'an, the Wizardess and the First Lieutenant with two more soldiers were on a roaming patrol with all but the Wizardess armed with a shortbow and silver tipped arrows.
Captain Kona'an always carried his magic imbued sword that glowed slightly silver anytime it was unsheathed. While it was not a very magical sword or one of the named swords, it was a duplex sword that improved his aim and the degree of injury he could inflict. It had been a gift from the dwarves for his actions in slaying a troop of Lizardmen who had infiltrated a hidden entrance into the mountain. Then First Lieutenant Kona'an had happened to be on a foot patrol investigating some noises and overcame the five lizardmen singlehandedly.
One of the regular soldiers, easily identified by their red tunics under their armor, watched as a man walked stealthily from behind a house. The soldier readied his arrow and aimed as he watched the man's suspicious behavior.
The man stopped suddenly and looked directly at the soldier, looking as though he could see him behind the empty water barrel he was hiding behind. The creature studied the soldier, not used to having someone waiting for it. Suddenly, he started to lunge forward and the soldier shot an arrow into it's arm. The man shaped thing stopped suddenly to look at the arrow in it's arm, again as if it wasn't used to being injured. With the inactivity, the soldier shot him with another arrow, this time in the chest.
The man, if it were man at all, suddenly turned to face the wall and placing his hands on the wall, began to climb it. He climbed all the way to the roof using only his hands and feet as though he could cling to the wall.
The soldier let out a yell to bring the rest of the unit. As he did so, the man, creature, whatever, jumped from the roof across the road to the roof of the building just behind him. A leap of thirty feet easily if one. He turned to see the man looking down at him and extending his hands, palms downward, at him. Strands of thick, sticky webbing covered the soldier instantly.
Captain Kona'an and the others converged on the spot approximately twenty feet away from the soldier into the crossroad between buildings. They stood in shock to see this man on the roof spraying something down onto their comrade in arms. Kona'an yelled at his soldiers, "Archers, take aim!" and at that, the five who had been carrying bows began shooting a volley of silver tipped arrows at the man shape on the roof.
The creature could feel the impact of the arrows, you could see that but it would not stop coating the soldier. Kona'an turned to the Magic User and asked her if she had anything that would be of help to bring the creature down off the roof. She opened her robe slightly at the waist to reveal a utility belt and pulled what looked to be a baton from it about 18 inches long.
The Wizardess raised her arm straight into the sky and began muttering something Kona'an couldn't make out.As he watched, two lights began to appear above the end of the wand. She then aimed the wand at the man form on the roof and the two lights shot at it in the blink of an eye. The creature was blasted and fell from the roof down into the street. It jumped back to it's feet immediately and stared directly at the Wizardess.
It jumped a fantastic distance with arrows sticking out of it and bleeding a green ichor from several wounds. It landed nearly on the Magic User and batted her to the ground with a sweep of it's arm. Kona'an, sword drawn, leapt to her aid, stabbing at it's back and sides as it hit her once again.
Feeling the sword cuts, the man creature made an inhumanely loud screech and turned to face Kona'an. He parried it's swipes at him with it's hands, nearly knocking the sword from his hand a couple of times. It's blows were astonishingly strong for a creature bleeding so profusely. He had a plan and yelled to his soldiers to ready their polearms.
He led the creature to the middle of the intersection while the soldiers began to form a circle around the two fighters. Seeing their polearms at the ready, Kona'an feinted one way while slashing hard at the back of the creature's leg. the sudden injury at such a crippling spot caused the creature to fall backwards and land on the ground. Kona'an yelled "Stick him!" and six silvertipped polearms pinned the creature to the dirt road.
It struggled mightily, almost winning it's way to it's feet again when it began to change. It seemed that two large spidery legs were growing from his sides. The Magic User, having gotten to her feet again, rushed over to see what was happening. "no!" she cried out. "We cannot let it change or we will be lost!"
We can hold it for only awhile longer, have you any more magic to end this?" Kona'an hollered. "Yes, I have a spell i prepared this morning but it might cause the village to burn." She replied. "It's a chance we'll have to take. He told her. "Begin your spell."
While Kona'an himself grabbed a polearm to aid in keeping the creature to the ground, it continued to change shape from a man, growing, it seemed, into a much larger spider shape.
Laryana began reciting a series of sounds that none could make out and moving about in an enchanting, almost seductive, way. As she chanted, a large ball of fire grew around her hands. "Now RUN!" she yelled at the soldiers and they broke away leaving weapons and all. As she saw them retreat, the fireball grew to a huge size and the creature began to get up just as she released the fiery globe at it.She fell to the ground and the sphere exploded around the creature.
The sound from the explosion was deafening and the nearby thatch roofs began to heat and burn. Luckily, most of the roofs were clay. The creature, completely transformed, was a burning husk of a giant spider. People began running about in the background to put out the fires around them.
Three days later, Captain Kona'an and his unit stopped once again in front of the Mayor's store. This time going back to the base headquarters they had come from. Despite some fire damage, not as much had burned as they would have thought and no one lost a building or a home. The Mayor thanked Kona'an again and assured him that his report to the Captain's higher officers would be in very high regard.
Captain Kona'an called out to his unit to begin moving out and the Wizardess Laryana once again was driving the supply wagon behind them, though Kona'an had told her that one of the soldiers could drive while she rode on the buckboard with him. She smiled and said that she actually liked to do mundane tasks like that to help her think on other things.
He shrugged his shoulders and stepped up into the saddle on his horse Martin. Looked back on the village of HornBlow and began the trip back. This time he told his men they could take three hours instead of two.