The Zou Kov’s Free Company – the story so far.
The two original members of the band were Zou Kov and Aushog; they were a remnant of The Brigade of the Fearless – a mercenary Free Company hired by the Dorgacht Skikkja in his ill-fated attempt to reconquer the Mines of Eiglophia at the end of the century, eighteen months earlier. Zou, a sergeant then, became the de facto leader when Captain Blosse fell defending the Fifth Bridge as the remains of Skikkja’s forces hurriedly retreated east from the Mines. On finding himself back at his starting point with a dispirited and mutinous army Skikkja disbanded his mercenary units on the spot, leaving those not fortunate enough to have been paid earlier (among which were the hapless rearguard including The Brigade of The Fearless) penniless, and made off for his castle in Kaldor.
The two disbanded soldiers spent a fruitless few weeks trying to find employment before heading for Port Yangee Province seventy miles to the east on the Yangee River where they had heard there was work for guards on the strings of river barges heading into the interior. On their slow route there they generally hired out as farm hands and labourers although Zou, being literate and numerate, was able to get some scribing work writing and reading letters in several small villages.
In one of these, a village called Durr’s Bend, they found themselves called upon to deal with an incursion of raiders along with some of the younger villagers. Having dealt with the raiders the party were approached by two hefty cousins, J’Neb and Naim Tocs, who found the notion of being travelling mercenaries more exciting than farm labouring and despite Zou’s well meant attempts to discourage them, joined up. A few days after Durr’s Bend they stayed and worked at an abbey dedicated to Zhothaqquah, the furry toad god, which was being guarded by a group of exceptionally quarrelsome berserker monks and a disenchanted monk called Nevik joined up, having become tired of his compatriots constant rows.
Having increased their numbers the band hired themselves out to the town of Bergward for a few months as Town Watch after Zou had received a message from one of his old mercenary cronies who was Mayor there. Their stay there proved initially uneventful except for the arrival of an impoverished champion who, having eaten a meal at the inn, announced that he had no money but would be happy to work for it. The disgruntled innkeeper declined and set his three toughs on him by way of teaching him a lesson. By the time Zou and the Watch arrived the three toughs were unconscious on the floor and a distinctly battered champion was just about holding himself upright on the bar. Quickly taking in the situation, Zou offered a solution by which he paid for the stranger’s meal and the battered champion would be entered into the town watch by way of paying Zou back for the meal and keeping himself fed for the immediate future. Thus Nurmi the Champion joined Zou’s band.
However, just as the band seemed to be settling in comfortably over winter a detachment of Skikkja’s regular troops appeared from Port Yangee and occupied the town and the nearby castle - unfortunately also bringing with them the infection known as the ‘Dark Plague’. The disease, which apparently was rife in the trading Port, swept through Bergward carrying off many of its citizens, including Mayor Ilditch and the Imperial Tax Collector while Zou’s band were reduced to carting off and burying the dead in the nearby plague pits. After a few weeks the infection slowed as a rigorous isolation scheme was enforced by the council and less and less cases appeared and it was with a huge sense of relief that Zou’s band returned to their watch duties. This relief only lasted a few days as within two weeks of the last case of ‘Dark Plague’ Zou was summoned to the Treasurer’s Office on a dark, rainy afternoon. There he was advised owing to the overall reduction of the population and with a regular military garrison in place that the Town Watch was soon to be disbanded owing to financial constraints
That evening, Zou and the band had a discussion at the the Bottomless Cauldron tavern
as to their future. With the ‘Dark Plague’ running rife in Yangee Port their original plan to get employment as river barge guards was pretty much scuppered and various other ideas were suggested and discarded. However, two of the newer recruits to the Watch, an archer called Saylok and a berserker called Wetham came from an area where there were the ruins of an ancient palace near the remains of the town of Cunarion. The palace was reputed to have been built by the necromancer Covidius who reigned over the town centuries ago. Local rumour had it that Covidius himself and his undead servants guarded the chests of treasure that lay inside so no-one had been anywhere near the place for many years. With the ale flowing and the fire roaring the band discounted all the dangers and resolved to search the palace for any treasures that might be there.
They set off the following morning for ruined Cunarion and the Necromancer’s Palace which was a good thirty miles off. They made good going initially as they were travelling along the Old Post Road to the north and they made nearly fifteen miles on the first day. The second day was a colder, windier day and their progress slowed as they moved on to a track running through a wooded area. They camped at the edge of the wooded area and set off in the early dawn through a shower of chilling rain which thankfully gave way to a sunny late morning as they came in sight of the remains of Cunarion and the ruined palace up on a nearby plateau. The band ate their midday food under the walls of the palace and then hunted around looking for an accessible entrance. Almost immediately Saylok found a rusted gate almost hidden behind some bushes and trailing ivy. Nurmi swung his double-headed axe at the rusted lock and it flew apart in a shower of sheared metal and splintered wood.
Lead by Nurmi the band moved through the doorway and down a darkened stairway into the bowels of the earth….
The band make a series of incursions into the abandoned palace of an ancient necromancer in search of treasure.
1 - http://www.spodilicious.com/the-palace-of-covidius-i.html
2 - http://www.spodilicious.com/the-palace-of-covidius-ii.html
3 - http://www.spodilicious.com/the-palace-of-covidius-iii.html
5 - Making their way home to the north they pause to help some villagers whose flocks are being raided.
6 - The land of the tribe south of the barbarians' homeland appears to be being colonised by the unpleasant Knights of the Dust. http://www.spodilicious.com/the-beacon.html
7 - Zou Kov and his band help in a daring coup-de-main against the knights' castle. http://www.spodilicious.com/the-castle.html
8 - Having helped establish Taulfan in power and finding roles as advisors and enforcers, the barbarians are almost surprised by a counter-attack. http://www.spodilicious.com/assassination.html