Pulled from the References:
I saw what he did, Balto. I saw him kill Ernesto’s crew. One man, on my mother’s grave. The bastard was in the alley and Ernesto’s lad, the one they call Butter, well he’d set the mark, saw he was armed coming in to Manolo, but the Don’s men confiscated them on account of him being an outsider. Well, Ernesto’s boys corner him down by the Cassadore’s Casa Primo and draw their daggers, tell him to cough up his armor and anything else he might have.
Seven men, Balto. The man killed seven men with his bare hands. He kept Butter alive and demand that he take him to where the rest of Ernesto’s men were. Butter says that the man killed them all, so he coughs up your mother’s house. With two daggers, the man shows up and kills my entire crew. If I hadn’t been with Angela across the way, he’d have killed me for sure. But I saw him. He had the winged pauldron, Balto. The bastards tried to rob a Forlorn Centurion.
I’m leaving Manolo.
They say they have magic. They say they hunt by your scent.
If you want to ride after him, be my guest.
(Taken from the belongings of a corpse discovered on the beaches of the Prasinos Sea.)
I spotted the Centurion near Devronwir Woods, near that pit in the ground. I watched him for a few hours. He’s setting up some kind of camp by the entry way. The man moves with absolutely no haste, whatsoever. I have never seen one before, but Ferdynand was right. The man looks like he walked out of a legend, the kind your grandfather used to tell on those hunting trips up into the Shevrin, the scary kind.
Anyway, I watched him hunt a rabbit, cook it, eat the damned thing, and then as if he were going out for a piss, he ties a rope to a tree and goes down into the pit. The Ratarni use that pit. Mikem says it leads to the Black Highway. Makes sense after all. Only Centurions would go down there. What would drive someone to go down there? I’m not a religious man, but there is something evil down in that darkness.
Whatever is down there, the man walked into Ferdynand’s three days later, order an ale, and kept a basket near him with a cloth over it while he nursed it in the corner of Ferdy’s tavern. There was black seeping through the cloth. I swear it was a head.
Ferdy says the man’s quite common. Shows up three times a year to hunt monsters in the Black Highway and then goes back to wherever he came from. When I asked Ferdy how he knows that, he said that Widow Milena’s husband was killed near the entrance of the pit twenty years ago and the man showed up when she sent her son to the fortress up on Mieczyslawa Hill. The man showed up with her son and brought her the head of whatever killed her husband down in the pit, along with the heads of those that had played a part in the killing. Apparently Widow Milena buried them in the forest, burning them in the ground before burying the spot and salting it. Ever since then, the rider returns and makes sure that we’re safe.
You ever heard of anything like this? It sounds made up. Anyway, keep safe up there. There are Woodlanders out there.
(A letter copied from the private letters of a worker of a lumber camp near Vzierma River Mill, Arenja)
My Lady Gwen,
I followed the bounty hunters’ tracks past the Rock. I’ve been a scout in the Malonese Legion for twenty years, my Lady, but I’ve never seen anything like this. From what I can tell, the Magicians struck first from an elevated position. They’d turned his campfire against him, spreading the fire into the dead grass all around him. That seems to have been their first mistake.
The second was placing the archers in four different locations, all firing on his fixed position. That kind of a trap works for an ambush for your average soldier, but Forlorn Centurions are not average soldiers. Were they briefed on their target? Finally, the footmen were woefully underprepared for what they were fighting. I hired the best assassins in Tyrantium and they gave this Centurion a mild sweat, I’m sure of it.
From what I can tell, the Centurion used the fire as a screen. All four archers were dead in their fixed positions. They didn’t even have a chance to run. The knives he threw were heavy, but thin, punched right through their skulls. Fools didn’t come armored. The Magicians, well, he took the cowards alive. I found their hands and heads scattered around their bodies, or maybe they died that way. It was gruesome and the scorched earth burned after they fell, further marring the tracks.
As for the footmen, well, there are pieces of them all around that campsite.
He left no trace of his presence. If the Tiberians find that sight, they’ll think a demon did that. My Lady, we need something more on par with his skill if you are going to catch him. Honestly, at this point, I don’t think that he can be taken alive. I remember meeting him, back when he was just an initiate. Those elixirs they drink do things to them. You shouldn’t meddle with magic like they do, but I suppose they have to.
The man fights the Scourge for a living. He walks were the sun doesn’t shine and where ancient evils lurk. What were a bunch of bounty hunters supposed to do to him? Anyway, I’ll keep tailing him. He’s heading north, away from Beth Ramor. He knows I’m following him. I’m certain of it.
(A deciphered dispatch intercepted and later delivered to a drop off point in Marchetti. Agent spotted another courier picking up and vanishing with the coded dispatch.)
The Forlorn Centurions were a necessity back when people thought the Elethyn were demons luring virgins into the forest and eating them or when the Ratarni were thought to be hobgoblins. We know better now. We are the product of a more enlightened age. The Forlorn Centurions are charlatans who piss around in caves for a few days and charge villagers a fortune for doing so. There is no Scourge, no Dark Reckoning, and there certainly aren’t Dark Bloods out there. To hell with Vark legends. If I see something that bleeds black, I’ll let you have my land and titles. I’ll go hang myself from the Merrybell.
Lord William Tenner
(Discovered in the private letters of Baron Monte Oxley)