The Blood of Commonfolk on Winter Snow
The Enclave > Known Roads > Three Stones > Local Color

The snow falls thick about Three Stones in the depths of winter, but ice rain and deep drifts are no impediment to the cruel Neth of Krineth's Hills. As leaves fall and nights become chill, the Neth uncurl from their summer torpor like rot finally come to bundled meat. Braver merchants who must use the Trade Road at the year end hire spearmen and travel light. Commonfolk and the poor of the City Without huddle by their fires and hope that the twisted, hateful creatures will not raid this winter.

Yet even in quiet years, the taint from the hills makes itself known; the sick scent of Neth in the fields and about outlying buildings; grey, loathsome figures glimpsed in the distance at dawn; livestock crippled; poorest folk vanished in the night. City Guard patrol beyond the walls after first snow, for what little good it does, but otherwise the folk of the City Without are left to fend for themselves. Only when Neth come in force from the Hills, twisted Ur Maka looming amongst ugly, wet-hide masses, the sound of their malicious anticipation a filth on the ears, will the Guard sally forth to defend Three Stones.

Twice in the last generation Neth have flailed at the City Without, like a wash of sickness and vermin, smoldering with a pent-up hunger of years to hurt and despoil, hatefully crippling cityfolk who would defend themselves. Five winters ago, black-armored Watch and priests of the Vessel stood atop the walls of Three Stones amidst frozen rain. Beneath, Guard spears struggled from the gates as commonfolk blood colored the deep snow and the scent of Neth and butchery was fit to turn any stomach. Watch blades had taken twenty lives in the City Without just a season before, but Watch have never left the City Within to put down Neth. For this and many other reasons, the Watch are hated by those commonfolk who dwell beyond the walls.

[ Posted by Reason on May 24, 2005 ]