More war, but I think the last of our big battles. We had dealt with a couple of armies – another one to the north a day or two away, and were resting up to give the centaurs time to recover. But the Pitax army marched and attacked.

It was a major battle, and I think decisive. The Pitaxian giants mounted on mastodons, the wyvern flight, and two hordes of barbarians against our centaurs, kobolds, mercenaries and our regular army. We took down the wyverns first and I sent the mercs to fight the giants. We lost the mercenaries and the kobolds, we scattered the giants and one of the hordes, and finally we down to our centaurs and a few of the regulars.

(I sent the mercs against the giants because I rather thought that the fewer mercenaries left alive at the end, the better. It is usually the case that an army that wins with mercenaries has won nothing, because the mercenaries will then hold the kingdom ransom. But having them wiped out rather fixes that problem. Nasty, but that’s politics for you.)

Finally, we saw that it had all become very iffy, so we seven, the Court of Fredonia – entered the battle as well. His Grace and his bearer, Klael and mount and lance, Rainor with the Bow of Herne and Rainen, and me and my wand of Fireball (a sensible investment, that). The last of the regulars fell, the centaurs scattered, but we seven were able to carry the field. Qui stat uictor est.

It was damn close. Dave permitted us to enter as an army if we all spent an action point to do it. Level 14, a “tiny” army (so, CR 7), but with improved defenses: Stoneskin for everyone, improved weapons and armour, and other relevant buffs. We would have lost otherwise. Dave ruled that we were at 2/3rds hp and with most of the Stoneskin used up.

And finally all that was left was the opposing command. Three trolls – one with a banner – a mounted combaant and a weretiger. The weretiger shot at me (!) and then went invisible. She (and it was a she) was a specialist in hitting the weak spot. Like me, but rather better at it. Even with a See Invisible I couldn’t spot her. And then she attacked me from behind, grappling and clawing. I should have Dimension Doored out, but instead tried to slip out of her grip. Would have died if Klael had not lanced her and Rainor shot her.

But while this was going on, Jope had done for the other combatant (quite the battle, but I was rather too busy to notice. Weretiger.), and so we were just left with the three trolls. I had a second or two to finally cast Improved Invisibility, and then it was just mopping up. Both Jope and Klael had fire weapons, and I could finally be useful.

So. We were victorious. But I had been rather badly mauled by a lycanthrope. It’s a curse, you know, not a disease. But I am already cursed by Zon-Kuthon – why not be twice-cursed? And in any event the form of a weretiger, if you can manage the bloodlust, has definite advantages. Especially for one in my line of work. Already I am drinking blood at every opportunity, so why the hell not? How much worse could it be?

Try not to judge me, Michael.

Last night was the full of the moon. I felt it in my blood, the affliction, the curse. I felt my senses becoming keener, my bones trying to shift, felt the savagery, the freedom, the urge to hunt and kill. I was ready, Michael. I wanted to contend with the madness, to master the lycanthropy. I was eager for it. Weretiger! What’s not to like?

Then, a blue light. (Blue? Not exactly, but there is no better way to describe it.) And the cold of death. (I’m not just being poetic: it’s quite specific. I’ve been there, you know.) And a forbidding, a prohibition, a refusal, a ban:

Blood may serve only one master.

The god had spoken. I woke in the morning. The lycanthrope’s claw-marks had faded altogether to just an ordinary bruise. The power had gone, the were-taint. I was clean.


I have just got to get rid of this thing.

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