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He gasped and stepped back.

Darkion Dane was disappointed. His red sword of Duma was barely wetted with the blood of three hellspawn and a snow beast. He had hoped to come across a winge of Nibliks or at least a Tolas by now.
"Pathetic" he muttered despondently as he wiped his blade with an oiled cloth. He shifted in the saddle of his etucheon steed, looking back at his hunting party as they made their slow progress up the snow covered incline of the trail.
-Why in the name of Borc did I have to bring them along?- He thought to himself, as he glowered at the courtiers.
Upon returning from Fenriersbad, (the land west of Spoon Isle) from a three puttock sojourn he had found Belltown had been swamped with diplomats and courtiers trying to gain trading rights, treaties and so on. His advisor Flavus, who in a fit of madness he had left in sole charge of his duchy, had invited them. As it was bad form to kill or even mistreat guests, even unwanted ones he was forced to endure them. Dane had to content himself with killing his advisor, to vent his annoyance.
Upon meeting them ten days ago he had discovered that the half that weren't bloodthirsty imbeciles turned out to be a bunch of fops and toadies who needed a manservant to instruct them on how to use the garderobe each morning.
Frankly he had had as much as he could take, if anyone said "hey nonny nonny!" to him once more… well he wouldn't be responsible for his actions.
Dane watched disapprovingly as they drove their weary etucheons up the slope with curses and lashes from cronewhips.
-Ah well, it isn't a proper hunt without fatalities, hopefully a couple of them will fall foal of a snow beast 'fore the day is through- Cheered by this thought Dane urged his etucheon up the snow covered pass towards his manservant Grimpin, who had dismounted next to the latest kill. The machina-beast's wide splayed feet prevented it from sinking into the snow. Dane congratulated himself on the fine breeding of this specimen as it tore up the icy slope, its two well-muscled legs pumping rhythmically and steam venting from it's backside. -Just the right mix of construct and animal for top efficiency.- As he closed the gap Dane hurled back on the rains, pulling the etucheon's wedge shaped head back and bringing it to a halt in a flurry of snow beside his servant. Grimpin looked up from were he was collecting the meat from the unfortunate snowbeast's corpse.
"Hail, sir"
"How goes it Grimpin?"
"Of the goodings, sir… " Grimpin started to sling sacks of meat onto the shrebberidder carrying the servants and the minstrels. The flung sacks landed neatly onto the cargo slot behind the crubbin.
"But, lo! Look yonder, sir. Smoke!"
"Sooth!" Dane exclaimed as he spotted wisps of grey coming from further up the pass.
"Poachers perchance! Damn their eyes!"
"Mayhap, sir" Grimpin responded, climbing onto the crubbin on the kneeling shrebberidder's back.
"Well I'll learn them!" Dane kicked his steed into action. "ride back and tell the others to follow." He shouted over his shoulder. He did not have to travel far. A wheel further on and the pass opened out into a wide plateau covered in sparse firtrees. The smoke was emanating from a small cave set in the shear wall of the mountainside. Close by two shrebberidders steamed in the frigid air. Dane leapt vigorously of his etucheon with a wild yell, brandishing his red blade and trailing blue lighting, then promptly sank to his armpits in a drift. Muttering curses he tried to force his way through the tight packed snow. After realising that he was making little or no headway, he raised his arms and focused. As he brought his arms down a crackling nimbus of red lightning enveloped him. The snow hissed and steamed as he strode through it. Pausing at the cave entrance to dismiss his summoning, Dane smelled the distinct sickly stench of Favros.
"What goes on here?" he wondered stepping past the cloth entrance and into the cave. The crimson irises of Danes eyes seemed to piece the fog inside the cave. Through the fumes he could make out four dead men-imperial assassins by the look of them- and three men and a woman who were overcome with Favros poisoning. Working quickly he dragged them from the cave two at a time and set about reviving them. He grabbed a handful of snow and begun to thrust it vigorously up the nostril of the most sickly looking of the men. The man's nose suddenly gave with an unpleasant crunch. "Bloody Satus!" Dane exclaimed recoiling in horror. What are these people!
The hunting party arrived just as he was trying to mould the nose back into shape. He stood up guiltily and gestured at the recumbent people.
"They've been drugged!" he stated. His troop dismounted and crowded round.
"Best get them to the lodge soonest" said Grimpin, peeling back Twado's eyelid and peering at his eyes.
" I say leave 'em" brayed lord Crayfondle, diplomat from Blaneka, as he stroked his chin. Or rather the general area on his face where
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