The Baneful Walloon

∴ An Expert Companion∴

Pulling your hood closer, you scowl into the driving rain and trudge on, cold water washing through your worn-out boots. You must still be 20 miles from Inverness, and the deluge shows no sign of slowing. Once again you wonder why you left – at least the bloody barracks had been dry.

Some miles down the road (you stopped counting days ago) you think you catch sight of a figure, barely a shadow through sheets of rain. Your heart leaps and your hand flies to your scabbard, but you steady yourself and peer deeper through the downpour. The shape is small and stooped with age. No threat to you.

As your breathing slows, you find yourself wondering how much coin the old man carries. Your stomach growls like something feral at the thought of a full meal. There’s already a price on your head – and as your mother always said, may as well be hanged for a sheep.

“Halt if you value your life!” you call into the rain. To illustrate your point, you draw the dagger from your belt.

The old man doesn’t stop. As he draws nearer, you make out a heavily scarred face, hair hanging damp and limp across a horrible grin. Without slowing his pace, he casts aside the skirt of his coat and, quick as lightning, draws a sword. The blade gleams bright against matte black steel, a scattering of hearts piercing the plate.

You have a feeling you just made a terrible mistake.

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