Two Templars, a young recruit and an experienced veteran, were sent out on a scouting mission. They decided not to bring heavy armour, taking only short swords for their campaign. Wrapped in rags, the warriors looked like Bedouins who lost their mounts, and it would look convincing if Bedouins could ever sneak the emir’s castle. Having climbed on a small hill, they could see the castle very clearly.
“Sergeant Ibe, whose banners are these?” The young soldier Clement looked scared.
“Those…” The sergeant pointed to the higher and lighter ones “are banners of a local sultan. The banners right behind them represent mercenaries and the farthest ones… I’ve never seen them before. I’m not sure but they look like Gnoll totems.”
“Gnolls? Aren’t they considered pagan in the caliphate?” Clement asked.
“Most of the people here don’t care about the faith of mercenaries while these mercenaries are helpful. They are cannon fodder for their armies, nothing more.” The elder soldier explained.
“Who’s there?!” A sentinel heard the guys and shouted as the Imperial soldiers were laying low and grabbed their swords.
Another two warriors suddenly appeared in the same site with the scouts but still weren’t able to spot them. One of a sentinel with unkempt mercenary armour tried to sniff for something weird in that area but a blackberry bush prevented him to detect any foreign smells. A second sentinel was a short guy who was wearing a common uniform of emir’s soldiers. He approached his colleague and asked:
“Hey, I bet I heard something.”
“Let’s take a look around and move on.” a sentinel with weird armour answered.
“Now!” Sergeant Ibe whispered and headed towards the sentinels. The first sentinel didn’t even get a chance to grab his sword and hit the ground as his head rolled away. Clement wasn’t that quick and the second sentinel managed to shout something out before he died.
“Let’s go!” The sergeant dragged the younger soldier.
“Where are you going in such a hurry?” Another mercenary blocked their path. It was a very weird beast taller than Wolfen and at the same time skinny, covered with mottled fur.
A fabulous scent of blossoming blackberry was replaced by a smell of decay with a dash of some spice and musk.
“Gnoll shaman!” Ibe’s voice wavered, “Run! I’ll hold it off!”
Clement tried to escape but a powerful hit from behind knocked him down. A sentinel which was killed a few minutes ago stood in front of him and held a spear to Clement’s throat.
“Ibe, watch out!” Clement shouted but a risen sentinel already hit the sergeant with a mace.
The shaman slowly walked toward lying soldier. “And these are glorified Templars?” The Gnoll laughed. “I thought it was poor dolls.”.
“Your magic, Khamizi, I mean, even I feel a little bad.” The sentinel rubbed his neck that no longer had wounds and blood.
“This is only the beginning.” the Gnoll’s evil eyes were shining as he pulled out a coarse fabric doll.
“Status report, soldier!” the captain Miguel hesitantly addressed it to the only scout back from a recon mission. Clement came closer to the commander and stared at him with empty eyes. Once the captain was going to yell at the soldier for a breach of discipline, Clement stabbed his own throat with a short sword.
“They bring death, sir. It is coming for you.” were the last words of the youngster.