Morgainne was born and bred in the mountainous lands of Cimmeria where living was hard and you learned how to handle yourself early, but she liked these desert lands of Stygia a lot. There was something about the soft sand underfoot, the warm climate and the laid back natives which appealed to her, however she was a little tired of killing Hyena's and Vulture's.
So it was with some trepidation that she approached the one known as The Chicken Handler. In her mind she could see the favour he was going to ask; "kill me 30 Chickens please.." or something along those lines. Is this what her life had become after all her training in the art of the bow and blades? She almost walked straight past him, telling herself that she was better than this, skilled in the art of ranged and close combat, able to despatch multiple assailants who thought a woman was easy prey and not too bad a looker when all was considered.
"Ah Bugger it!" she whispered under her breath, and turned to talk to the man anyway.
"oh well" she sighed, as later on she walked down the dusty worn path, "it could have been worse I suppose". Essentially the fellow had asked her to return his stolen prize Chicken and to "teach the thief a lesson" as it had been said. No doubt this meant she was to hang the mans guts from the nearest tree. It had taken all her strength to resist from smiling let alone laughing out loud when The Chicken Handler had told her he thought the thief was his old enemy "The Cock Handler"!
Of course, she has seen this man walking around town and had assumed in the past that his name was given to him for some other reason. Indeed she had been meaning to find out a bit more about him from the local gossips and find out whether the name was in reference to his "size" or sexual orientation. If it was the former she had considered paying him a night time visit, but alas soon his bones would be feeding those few Vultures she hadn't as yet killed.
It was a short and uneventful stroll to town and before long Morgainne had caught sight of her target standing near a wall. He looked unpreposessing and she was somewhat pleased to see had probably exited from the ugly side of the boat rather than the handsome side. One thing she disliked was killing good looking men as it was such a waste.
Deciding to get this over and done with quickly to avoid drawing the attention of the general public, Morgainne stood her distance, drew her bow, took careful aim and released a medium weighted arrow at the targets chest. It was a powerful shot and all being well would have embedded itself deep, maybe even almost passing through a mans torso. Unfortunately despite a razor sharp head, sanded Yew shaft and Eagle wing feathers you couldn't account for spurious gusts of wind, and this turned out to be one of those occassions.
"Crom's manky loincloth and buckets of blood" Morgainne cursed as The Cock Handler ran towards her yelling in blood curdling fury as he drew his sword.
Morgainne gulped when she realised that this was a BIG sword...probably one of the biggest she had seen, and it looked like it had seen a fair bit of use too! "Big sword, short pecker!" she shouted at the advancing swordsman as she drew her twin blades. The taunt worked and the man was upon her before he had even brought his sword to an attack position. With a quick left step Morgainne moved aside and watched the fool stumble past.
It would have been easy enough to shove her dagger into his abdomen as he passed by but Morgainne wasn't without some semblence of honour and wanted to give the man a fighting chance, even if he probably didn't reciprocate these feelings. She allowed him to stop, turn and approach in a more controlled manner, all the time maintaining her defensive stance. You could see from the look of hate in his eyes, and the little bit of slobber in the corner of his mouth that he still wasn't fully in control of himself but the swinging blade drew her attention away from his face as she raised her blades in response.
"He's good" she thought.."damn he's good". Two minutes of exchanging blows, narry a one of them landing on each others body had changed her opinion and made her wish that she had opted for the dagger in the chest move. A few more swings and he caught her off guard, opening a wound in her right shoulder. As Morgainne backed off in the hope of a quick glance at the state of the wound he pressed his mad attack forward, and sliced her across the left breast, then a stab to her thigh.
Morgainne stumbled backwards as the evil glint in The Cock Handlers eyes seemed to grow more intense as he sensed his victory. Fighting back the panic rising inside her, Morgainne could feel herself weakening and now she was on her back, blades frantically shielding her, as the madman stood above her swinging his sword with both hands. The vibrations from her steel as his blows swung downwards onto them was sending bone shattering tremors up her arms and she could do only one thing...
...Scuttling backwards on her elbows and heels, Morgainne emerged from beneath the whimpering man and stood. "They gonna call you The Balls Handler from now on" she chided him but amazingly he lifted himself up and with a loud growl leapt towards her. Morgainne knew when to cut and run, and not having done much on the cutting front, this was definitely a time to run. Not having enough stamina for a long drawn out chase she knew that he would catch her in no time and so in desperation she ran for the river for no ther reason than it was the direction she was already heading. In a few seconds she was at the edge and dove into the dirty water, surfacing straight away to gamely swim out further.
Twenty or thirty yards later Morgainne stopped to glance back and could see The Chicken Handler standing on the bank, rubbing his crotch. "He can't swim!" Morgainne said to herself, astounded at her luck. A slow smile spread across her face as she waved jauntily to the man on shore. She shed her armour which was weighing her down, especially in her weakened state and headed on a circuitous route to a safe area of shore.
Late that night Morgainne lay huddled & shivering semi naked beside a small camp fire. Her body was pale under the moonlight and even the flickering of the flames seemed to cast no light on her skin. Unconsciousness had taken control a short while ago and her mind was now reliving old demons and the torment of her past as a worthless slave.
She had emerged from the water and dressed her wounds with poultices but knew that the foulness of the river had already ingressed into her blood. It had been all she could do to muster the strength to gather some fire wood and make a spark, and for now she was at the mercy of the medicines and the hope that Crom would take care of any local wildlife. Time would tell if she made it through the next few hours but her body was strong and she had come through too much to die a coward. Besides, the Gods still had plans for her....