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Peril of the Pumpkin Patch

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Z11

What horrors walk abroad on Pumpkin Night?


Peril of the Pumpkin Patch is the eleventh questing area in the game and becomes available when all sub-quests and boss encounters have been completed on at least normal difficulty in The Dragons' Claw.

  • Completing this area on normal will allow you to get the Jack raid essence and Jack's Revenge on NM


← The Dragons' Claw Peril of the Pumpkin Patch Crypt of Caracalla →
Peril of the Pumpkin Patch


Quest Name Energy Experience Miniboss Drops
Z11 a1 q1 Baited with Honey 50 75 Bandit Gold2385-2915
Z11 a1 q2 Among the Pumpkins 50 76 Flight Gold2430-2970
Z11 a1 q3 The Hunsburg Horror 50 77 Investigating Gold2475-3025
Z11 a1 q4 The Mystery of Jack 50 78 Searching Gold2520-3080
Z11 a1 q5 Questioning the Locals 50 79 Questioning Gold2565-3135
Z11 a1 q6 Apocolocyntosis 50 80 Meeting Gold2610-3190
Jack small Jack 80 180 Gold12096-14784

Quest Name Energy Experience Required Items Drops
Z11 a1 q1 Baited with Honey 75 115 Bandit Gold3645-4455
Z11 a1 q2 Among the Pumpkins 75 116 Flight Gold3712-4538
Z11 a1 q3 The Hunsburg Horror 75 117 Investigating Gold3780-4620
Z11 a1 q4 The Mystery of Jack 75 118 Searching Gold3847-4703
Z11 a1 q5 Questioning the Locals 75 119 Questioning Gold3915-4785
Z11 a1 q6 Apocolocyntosis 75 120 Meeting Gold3982-4868
Jack small Jack 90 204 Gold13851-16929

Quest Name Energy Experience Required Items Drops
Z11 a1 q1 Baited with Honey 100 155 Bandit Gold5130-6270
Z11 a1 q2 Among the Pumpkins 100 157 Flight Gold5220-6380
Z11 a1 q3 The Hunsburg Horror 100 159 Investigating Gold5310-6490
Z11 a1 q4 The Mystery of Jack 100 161 Searching Gold5400-6600
Z11 a1 q5 Questioning the Locals 100 163 Questioning Gold5490-6710
Z11 a1 q6 Apocolocyntosis 100 165 Meeting Gold5580-6820
Jack small Jack 110 250 Gold17820-21780

Quest Name Energy Experience Required Items Drops
Z11 a1 q1 Baited with Honey 125 195 Bandit Gold6975-8525
Z11 a1 q2 Among the Pumpkins 125 197 Flight Gold7087-8663
Z11 a1 q3 The Hunsburg Horror 125 200 Investigating Gold7200-8800
Z11 a1 q4 The Mystery of Jack 125 203 Searching Gold7312-8938
Z11 a1 q5 Questioning the Locals 125 206 Questioning Gold7425-9075
Z11 a1 q6 Apocolocyntosis 125 209 Meeting Gold7537-9213
Jack small Jack 140 320 Gold2457-30030


Quest LoreEdit

Pre LoreEdit

Lore
They will all die.

Young laughter trills across the field, amid high-pitched shrieks of juvenile joy. The village's children are running to and fro, reveling in those silly games which passing years and the withering of imaginations beneath life's toils have long since rendered inscrutable to adults. But if the parents who watch from the edge of the pumpkin patch can't comprehend the haphazard, chaotic play, they nevertheless delight in it almost as much as their offspring. What finer sight could there be for a doting mother or loving father than that of their children glorying in the coming festival, frolicking without a care?

It's a spectacle to touch all but the most cynical and misanthropic heart. Even Bridlin, the village's schoolmistress -- a childless woman whose vocation has forced her to endure everyone else's sons and daughters at their very worst -- feels a smile unpurse her lips and steal their usual severity. So does Arnolt, the local constable. During much of the year he grumbles to the barmaid's breasts that he wishes he could club children with his truncheon, or else drown them in the nearest trough, after some adventurous and mischievous boy has stolen his official hat, thrown a rotten egg at the back of his head, or carried out one of the many other jests with which they demonstrate their opinion of law and order -- or at least the sliver of it the constable represents. But even he grins and chuckles.

War casts its shadow over West Kruna. It has brought vigilance and worry even in Hunsburg, where -- either through the blessings of benevolent gods or the whims of gentle fortune -- no beastman or kobold has yet been glimpsed. But in this moment, as children dash and scream and play, it's forgotten. Almost every adult face beams, perhaps dwelling instead on memories of their own childhoods, and the merry games and friends which seemed to make life a marvelous thing.

They will all die.

Not everyone is so enamored to see the youngsters at play, however. Farmer Klaus looks on from a distance, wearing the same grimace that adorns his face each year with such exactness that his features might be a mask donned for the annual occasion. Tradition demands that the boys and girls frolic and make merry in the pumpkin patch soon before Pumpkin Night, to grant their young energy to the fruit. But 'tradition' doesn't have to clean up after their rampage, and see the products of its labors jostled or accidentally smashed by their clumsiness.

An old man scurries among the onlookers at the edge of the pumpkin patch, flapping about in a poorly cleaned, even more poorly patched robe that gives him the aspect of a crimson duck trying to take flight. Melchior, the local wizard, is likewise untouched by the general mood of festive contentment. His brows are knitted. He tugs at a woman's sleeve and speaks in a fast, high, almost squealing voice -- asking about a missing book. When she shakes her head and murmurs a reply, without so much as turning to look at him, he flaps onward and tugs at the next person's sleeve.

A third unamused face glares from the road. It belongs to Brother Hanz, Hunsburg's cleric, and it turns from side to side in a slow, deliberate, ponderous shake that makes his flabby jowls wobble. He was returning from the village, sauntering towards his little temple. But he stopped alongside the pumpkin patch to express his wordless opinion of what transpires there. After several moments of noiseless indignation, perhaps because his grim disapproval goes unnoticed by the happy crowd, he continues on his way -- muttering unpleasant things under his breath.

They will all die. All the children.

Of the many minds there present, joyous and morose, sweet and cynical, doting and despondent, one is filled with murder.

He will kill them all.


Baited with HoneyEdit

Z11 a1 q1

Female:

Lore
"This is ridiculous," Queen Lena says.

"Yes," you reply. "I heard you the first dozen times."

"This isn't how a queen of the Kavala trible should dress."

"Not enough leather, sharp steel, and blood?"

"Don't mock me. I've slain women for less."

"I think you look bloody gorgeous, love. Those bodices do wonders for a girl's baps," Rissa says. The gnome winks at you. "And if our dragon-riding lass here dressed like this more often, she wouldn't need to stick a sword in blokes to get their loot. She could just flash a bit of blooming cleavage, and they'd hand it right over. Probably buy her a few drinks too."

You frown, which only elicits a giggle from Rissa. Still, you muse, as you glance down at the unaccustomed finery which girds your bosom, perhaps you do look rather fetching... Both your former life as a farmhand and your present one as a hero and adventurer have given you scant opportunity to don pretty clothing -- garments designed to delight the eye and flatter the figure rather than endure hard wear or repel enemy blades. But this current stratagem makes a bright, slightly revealing dress the most fitting attire.

Queen Lena grunts. She says nothing, however. Only the clattering of your horses' cantering hooves accompanies your thoughts as you continue down the road.

You've left Drunsdorf, one of Stromhamre's largest and most affluent cities, miles behind you. Whilst you ride onward through the evening dusk, between trees adorned with autumn's burnished gold gowns, your friends and companions are enjoying that settlement's hospitality. They're feasting at the expense of the local noble failies -- quaffing strong, dark Stromhamren ale, dining on big hunks of lamb and stacks of potato pancakes. When the king's people granted you all a few days' leave to rest from your exertions, Drunsdorf was swift to open its gates and beckon you in. Whether through pure good nature or else a desire to have some of the war's great heroes within its walls, they invited to join them for festivities which will culminate with the annual Pumpkin Night celebration.

The two days you spent there yourself weren't unpleasant. It seemed as if each meal was spent at a different aristocrat's mansion, and even breakfast was turned into a banquet with more knives and forks than one of your humble birth could ever possibly fathom. On the second day you lost count of how many suppers you consumed, for feat of offending a nobleman or noblewoman by declining their invitation. But as enjoyable as that gastronomic campaign was -- to your mouth if not to your overexerted stomach -- the city was exhausting. Men and women crowded around you wherever you went, each one wanting to see the famed dragon-rider and bombard you with gifts, questions, embraces, kisses, and proposals both romantic and disturbing. If you'd given a hair to everyone who asked for one, you'd have been left as smooth as a newborn babe's cheek from head to toe. Some of the taverns' patrons even challenged you to fights, perhaps unimpressed by your reputation and seeking to test your mettle for themselves. You refused each of them, enduring their jeers rather than the awkwardness of injuring Drunsdorf's citizens whilst wallowing in its generous, if demanding, amiability.

The whole experience has proven wearying. So when a nobleman happened to mention a bandit problem on one of the roads leading away from the city, you volunteered to deal with the matter -- dismissing all protests. As expected, each of your friends volunteered to come with you. But you hadn't wished to deny them the joy of good meals and a merry festival. Furthermore, a large force of armed men and women on the march, not to mention a dragon, among sundry marvelous beasts, would hardly be an appealing target for cutpurses or other such despicable wretches. Those miscreants would melt away into the forest and not be seen again until you were all long gone. So you'd proposed going lone, masquerading as an innocent, helpless traveler -- a highwayman's ideal victim. But the others had been insistent, and you'd agreed to take a couple of companions with you for protection. Now you're enjoying the varied delights of their company...

"Hey, Lena..." Rissa begins. "Not trying to be funny, love, but I was wondering about something..."

"Yes?"

Somehow the barbarian woman manages to put a great deal of wariness and simmering violence into that single syllable. Perhaps she doesn't like to be called 'love', or senses that a fresh annoyance is about to come from the gnome's lips. Anyone else might take the hint and hold their tongue. But not Rissa D'Tang...

"I'm not much for politics and all, but I think the bloke on the throne's called King Jamus."

"He is. So what, thief?"

"Well, you're not his missus, are you?"

"What?"

"I mean, you're not married to him or anything?"

"Of course not!"

"Then how come you go around calling yourself a blooming queen?"

Lena's brow darkens. You're glad your horse is cantering along between theirs, thus putting the gnome out of the barbaric queen's reach. But Rissa keeps talking, unperturbed by the facial twitches which usually herald the hewing of limbs and necks.

"I mean, back home in Titar there was this one girl who went around calling herself 'baroness' because she shagged a baron..." The gnome's eyes widen. Don't tell me you shagged Jamus! That'd be a nice piece of gossip, and no mistake!"

"What does 'shagged' mean?" Her voice is like a dagger made of ice.

"It means-"

"Met," you interject. "She's asking if you've ever met King Jamus."

"Oh... No."

Rissa opens her mouth. You glare at her. She closes it again, then reopens it a second later.

"To get to the point, as the assassin said before he stabbed the merchant in the eye, how come you call yourself a bloody queen?

"Because I am a queen! I rule the Kavala tribe! We've always had our own kings and queens."

"Blimey! And old Jamus doesn't put a stop to it? Then maybe I'll start calling myself Queen of Thieves."

"<player name>..."

"Yes, Lena?"

"Please move out of the way, so I can kill that gnome."

"There's no need for that, as the bloke said when he saw the hangman's noose. Just making a spot of conversation. All nice and friendly like. Anyway, I-"

She pauses. Then she leans towards you.

"Better get ready," Rissa says. "Some coves are moving in the forest."

The gnome's looking straight ahead, along the road. And if she heard anything, it escaped your ear and suspicion. But on such matters you've very much Rissa D'Tang's junior. So you give a small nod, before leaning in the other direction and relaying the news to Lena. The barbarian gives a little humph that you take for approval. You're glad. She's in the mood to kill something, and you'd rather it wasn't Rissa...

Your companion's senses, honed by a lifetime's larcent, are validated when figures emerge from the trees. In an instant, two men in rough leather garb are blocking the road ahead, spears leveled in their hands. They don't bother shouting for you to halt. It's quite unnecessary. Only someone terrified out of their wits would try to ride through them, and risk having a spear point buried in their mount's flesh or their own. So you oblige, and tug on the reins. Your friends do the same, bringing their steeds to a stop.

A glance over your shoulder reveals two more bandits and two more uninviting spear tips.

"Looks like we're in luck, boys!" one of the men ahead says. He sneers like Hyena. "Three new girls for Mosie."

You suppress a mirthless smile. The nobleman who brought the matter of local banditry to your attention told you about this. They've been preying on women. One of their victims, who won her freedom by breaking away and throwing herself into a rushing river -- carried beyond their grasp and near drowned by its powerful current -- brought back word of their talk. They'd planned to sell her to a slave trader named Mosie, who apparently sees fit to deal in human flesh even while the kingdom shudders under the blows of war.

Your choice of garb has played its part. You had to make sure your group presented an attractive prize...

"One of them's a gnome," the other man ahead says.

"Well spotted, mate! I always knew bandits were a cleverer lot than you looked."

"Mosie said she wanted humans and elves. She never said nothing about no gnomes."

"Yeah..." another says form behind you. "Who'd want a gnome? She looks like a kid!"

"First of all," Rissa says, "I'd like to see a 'kid' with baps like these..."

"She's right!" one of the bandits to the fore yells. "Good chest on this one."

"Oh, okay..." the man behind replies.

"Secondly, stands to reason that coves who need to roger slaves probably aren't up to much in the trouser department. Otherwise they wouldn't have a problem getting lovers the regular way -- you know, beers and lies. Well, nothing like being with a gnome to make a bloke feel like a big man!"

"You've got quite a mouth on you," one of them says. "Fine... We'll take you."

"Yay!" The gnome gives a little clap of her hands.

The bandits stare. You sigh. She may be a good thief, but if this is how well she plays the role of victim, Rissa isn't much of a thespian. Fortunately, the man whom you take to be their ringleader turns his attention to you.

"This one'll fetch a good price," he says. "Child-bearing hips, I suppose... But some men like that. Don't they, Tark?"

The men behind you chortle.

"But this little treasure..." He approaches Lena's steed. "Mosie'll pay a pretty penny for her."

Lena gazes down at the bandit, her face impassive.

"Get down from there," he says. He grasps the horse's bridle with one hand. The other rests the spear on its butt.

"Watch your tongue, dog!" she spits. "You're addressing a queen!"

Laughter choruses from the four bandits.

"Looks like we've got an uppity one here!" a bandit to the rear says.

"Don't worry," his leader replies. "I'll break her in. I-"

Lena's boot lashes out. It catches him square in the mouth, knocking the words down his throat along with a good number of his teeth. He staggers backwards three stumbling steps before falling on his rear. His spear lands in the road beside him.

Things happen with the simultaneous, chaotic swiftness of battle to which you've long since become accustomed.

The injured man clutches his jaw and gurgles in what you assume must be a combination of rage and pain. The other three bandits cry out in what's unmistakably the former. Rissa springs upwards, kicks off against the saddle, and launches herself into a high backflip. In mid-air her dress simply falls from her body -- revealing her light armor underneath, and the daggers that have appeared in her hands. Lena jumps down from her horse. Two strong, barbaric hands grasp her dress. There's a sharp tear as the material gives away before her uncivilised might. She tosses the rent garment aside, revealing a lithe but powerful body dressed in nothing but her undergarments and boots. Her own battle garb was too bulky to conceal beneath the dress. Fortunately Kavalans don't concern themselves with such trappings of civilised softness as modesty. There's a broad-bladed knife strapped against her thigh, She draws it, and holds the weapon in a reverse grip.

You drop from your saddle as well, and shrug your way out of the dress -- revealing less scandalous garb that that of the barbarian queen, and the sword which its low hem had concealed.

By the time you've drawn the weapon, your friends are already locked in combat with two of your adversaries. Rissa's on a prone bandit's back, her knee pressing down on his spine, sticking her daggers into his vitals in a series of flashing thrusts. The other bandit who came from the rear tries to run Lena through with his spear. It doesn't go quite as he'd intended. The warrior woman slips aside, snatches the shaft in one mighty hand, yanks him towards her, and drives her dagger down into the crown of his skull. Its gleaming crimson point emerges under his jaw.

Their leader manages to stagger to his feet. You punch him in passing and drop him again -- on your way to meet the other. His uninjured companion looks at you. He looks at the carnage behind you. He looks at you once more. Then he turns and runs.

You drop your sword, snatch up the wounded bandit's spear, torque your body, and throw it. The fleeing highwayman doesn't even have time to cry out as it bursts through his torso, piercing his heart. His body tumbles in the dust for several paces, before sprawling lifeless.

"Bloody good job, that was!" Rissa moves beside you and gives a low whistle. "Learn that back on the old farm, did you?"

"Yes. It's how we killed turnips."

The thief laughs.

You turn to where you left the injured bandit, just in time to see Lena raise her boot above his head.

"We need him alive!" you say.

Lena sighs. Then she lowers her foot, takes a stride, and stomps on this groin instead.

Male:

Lore
"This is ridiculous," Queen Lena says.

"Yes," you reply. "I heard you the first dozen times."

"This isn't how a queen of the Kavala trible should dress."

"Not enough leather, sharp steel, and blood?"

"Don't mock me. I've slain men for less."

"I think you look bloody gorgeous, love. These bodices do wonders for a girl's baps," Rissa says. The gnome winks at you. "And if our mate here isn't complaining..."

You sigh. But she's right... If anyone has a right to bemoan this stratagem and its dubious uniform, it's surely the man in a wig and dress. Even after a couple of hours, you still haven't got used to the artful lumps of padded fabric which currently endow you with counterfeit breasts.

Queen Lena grunts. She says nothing, however. Only the clattering of your horses' cantering hooves accompanies your thoughts as you continue down the road.

You've left Drunsdorf, one of Stromhamre's largest and most affluent cities, miles behind you. Whilst you ride onward through the evening dusk, between trees adorned with autumn's burnished gold gowns, your friends and companions are enjoying that settlement's hospitality. They're feasting at the expense of the local noble families -- quaffing strong, dark Stromhamren ale, dining on big hunks of lamb and stacks of potato pancakes. When the king's people granted you all a few days' leave to rest from your exertions, Drunsdorf was swift to open its gates and beckon you in. Whether through pure good nature or else a desire to have some of the war's great heroes within its walls, they invited to join them for festivities which will culminate with the annual Pumpkin Night celebration.

The two days you spent there yourself weren't unpleasant. It seemed as if each meal was spent at a different aristocrat's mansion, and even breakfast was turned into a banquet with more knives and forks than one of your humble birth could ever possibly fathom. On the second day you lost count of how many suppers you consumed, for feat of offending a nobleman or noblewoman by declining their invitation. But as enjoyable as that gastronomic campaign was -- to your mouth if not to your overexerted stomach -- the city was exhausting. Men and women crowded around you wherever you went, each one wanting to see the famed dragon-rider and bombard you with gifts, questions, embraces, kisses, and proposals both romantic and disturbing. If you'd given a hair to everyone who asked for one, you'd have been left as smooth as a newborn babe's cheek from head to toe. Some of the taverns' patrons even challenged you to fights, perhaps unimpressed by your reputation and seeking to test your mettle for themselves. You refused each of them, enduring their jeers rather than the awkwardness of injuring Drunsdorf's citizens whilst wallowing in its generous, if demanding, amiability.

The whole experience has proven wearying. So when a nobleman happened to mention a bandit problem on one of the roads leading away from the city, you volunteered to deal with the matter -- dismissing all protests. As expected, each of your friends volunteered to come with you. But you hadn't wished to deny them the joy of good meals and a merry festival. Furthermore, a large force of armed men and women on the march, not to mention a dragon, among sundry marvelous beasts, would hardly be an appealing target for cutpurses or other such despicable wretches. Those miscreants would melt away into the forest and not be seen again until you were all long gone. So you'd proposed going lone, masquerading as an innocent, helpless traveler -- a highwayman's ideal victim. But the others had been insistent, and you'd agreed to take a couple of companions with you for protection. Now you're enjoying the varied delights of their company...

"Hey, Lena..." Rissa begins. "Not trying to be funny, love, but I was wondering about something..."

"Yes?"

Somehow the barbarian woman manages to put a great deal of wariness and simmering violence into that single syllable. Perhaps she doesn't like to be called 'love', or senses that a fresh annoyance is about to come from the gnome's lips. Anyone else might take the hint and hold their tongue. But not Rissa D'Tang...

"I'm not much for politics and all, but I think the bloke on the throne's called King Jamus."

"He is. So what, thief?"

"Well, you're not his missus, are you?"

"What?"

"I mean, you're not married to him or anything?"

"Of course not!"

"Then how come you go around calling yourself a blooming queen?"

Lena's brow darkens. You're glad your horse is cantering along between theirs, thus putting the gnome out of the barbaric queen's reach. But Rissa keeps talking, unperturbed by the facial twitches which usually herald the hewing of limbs and necks.

"I mean, back home in Titar there was this one girl who went around calling herself 'baroness' because she shagged a baron..." The gnome's eyes widen. Don't tell me you shagged Jamus! That'd be a nice piece of gossip, and no mistake!"

"What does 'shagged' mean?" Her voice is like a dagger made of ice.

"It means-"

"Met," you interject. "She's asking if you've ever met King Jamus."

"Oh... No."

Rissa opens her mouth. You glare at her. She closes it again, then reopens it a second later.

"To get to the point, as the assassin said before he stabbed the merchant in the eye, how come you call yourself a bloody queen?

"Because I am a queen! I rule the Kavala tribe! We've always had our own kings and queens."

"Blimey! And old Jamus doesn't put a stop to it? Then maybe I'll start calling myself Queen of Thieves."

"<player name>..."

"Yes, Lena?"

"Please move out of the way, so I can kill that gnome."

"There's no need for that, as the bloke said when he saw the hangman's noose. Just making a spot of conversation. All nice and friendly like. Anyway, I-"

She pauses. Then she leans towards you.

"Better get ready," Rissa says. "Some coves are moving in the forest."

The gnome's looking straight ahead, along the road. And if she heard anything, it escaped your ear and suspicion. But on such matters you've very much Rissa D'Tang's junior. So you give a small nod, before leaning in the other direction and relaying the news to Lena. The barbarian gives a little humph that you take for approval. You're glad. She's in the mood to kill something, and you'd rather it wasn't Rissa...

Your companion's senses, honed by a lifetime's larceny, are validated when figures emerge from the trees. In an instant, two men in rough leather garb are blocking the road ahead, spears leveled in their hands. They don't bother shouting for you to halt. It's quite unnecessary. Only someone terrified out of their wits would try to ride through them, and risk having a spear point buried in their mount's flesh or their own. So you oblige, and tug on the reins. Your friends do the same, bringing their steeds to a stop.

A glance over your shoulder reveals two more bandits and two more uninviting spear tips.

"Looks like we're in luck, boys!" one of the men ahead says. He sneers like Hyena. "Three new girls for Mosie."

You suppress a mirthless smile. The nobleman who brought the matter of local banditry to your attention told you about this. They've been preying on women. One of their victims, who won her freedom by breaking away and throwing herself into a rushing river -- carried beyond their grasp and near drowned by its powerful current -- brought back word of their talk. They'd planned to sell her to a slave trader named Mosie, who apparently sees fit to deal in human flesh even while the kingdom shudders under the blows of war.

Your ridiculous played its part. You had to make sure your group presented an attractive prize...

"One of them's a gnome," the other man ahead says.

"Well spotted, mate! I always knew bandits were a cleverer lot than you looked."

"Mosie said she wanted humans and elves. She never said nothing about no gnomes."

"Yeah..." another says form behind you. "Who'd want a gnome? She looks like a kid!"

"First of all," Rissa says, "I'd like to see a 'kid' with baps like these..."

"She's right!" one of the bandits to the fore yells. "Good chest on this one."

"Oh, okay..." the man behind replies.

"Secondly, stands to reason that coves who need to roger slaves probably aren't up to much in the trouser department. Otherwise they wouldn't have a problem getting lovers the regular way -- you know, beers and lies. Well, nothing like being with a gnome to make a bloke feel like a big man!"

You feel a blush rise to your cheeks. Even Lena, barbarian queen that she is, seems to redden slightly at the mental image if not the words. As for the bandits, they're gaping, their jaws almost dangling from their faces. You doubt they've ever heard a lady -- as Rissa is in dress if not in veracity -- speak like that.

"You've got quite a mouth on you," one of them says. "Fine... We'll take you."

"Yay!" The gnome gives a little clap of her hands.

The bandits stare. You sigh. She may be a good thief, but if this is how well she plays the role of victim, Rissa isn't much of a thespian. Fortunately, the man whom you take to be their ringleader turns his attention to you.

"Don't think we'll get much for this one," he says. "Still, gold is gold."

The men behind you chortle.

"But this little treasure..." He approaches Lena's steed. "Mosie'll pay a pretty penny for her."

Lena gazes down at the bandit, her face impassive.

"Get down from there," he says. He grasps the horse's bridle with one hand. The other rests the spear on its butt.

"Watch your tongue, dog!" she spits. "You're addressing a queen!"

Laughter choruses from the four bandits.

"Looks like we've got an uppity one here!" a bandit to the rear says.

"Don't worry," his leader replies. "I'll break her in. I-"

Lena's boot lashes out. It catches him square in the mouth, knocking the words down his throat along with a good number of his teeth. He staggers backwards three stumbling steps before falling on his rear. His spear lands in the road beside him.

Things happen with the simultaneous, chaotic swiftness of battle to which you've long since become accustomed.

The injured man clutches his jaw and gurgles in what you assume must be a combination of rage and pain. The other three bandits cry out in what's unmistakably the former. Rissa springs upwards, kicks off against the saddle, and launches herself into a high backflip. In mid-air her dress simply falls from her body -- revealing her light armor underneath, and the daggers that have appeared in her hands. Lena jumps down from her horse. Two strong, barbaric hands grasp her dress. There's a sharp tear as the material gives away before her uncivilised might. She tosses the rent garment aside, revealing a lithe but powerful body dressed in nothing but her undergarments and boots. Her own battle garb was too bulky to conceal beneath the dress. Fortunately Kavalans don't concern themselves with such trappings of civilised softness as modesty. There's a broad-bladed knife strapped against her thigh, She draws it, and holds the weapon in a reverse grip.

You drop from your saddle as well, and shrug your way out of the dress -- revealing less scandalous garb that that of the barbarian queen, and the sword which its low hem had concealed.

By the time you've drawn the weapon, your friends are already locked in combat with two of your adversaries. Rissa's on a prone bandit's back, her knee pressing down on his spine, sticking her daggers into his vitals in a series of flashing thrusts. The other bandit who came from the rear tries to run Lena through with his spear. It doesn't go quite as he'd intended. The warrior woman slips aside, snatches the shaft in one mighty hand, yanks him towards her, and drives her dagger down into the crown of his skull. Its gleaming crimson point emerges under his jaw.

Their leader manages to stagger to his feet. You punch him in passing and drop him again -- on your way to meet the other. His uninjured companion looks at you. He looks at the carnage behind you. He looks at you once more. Then he turns and runs.

You drop your sword, snatch up the wounded bandit's spear, torque your body, and throw it. The fleeing highwayman doesn't even have time to cry out as it bursts through his torso, piercing his heart. His body tumbles in the dust for several paces, before sprawling lifeless.

"Bloody good job, that was!" Rissa moves beside you and gives a low whistle. "Learn that back on the old farm, did you?"

"Yes. It's how we killed turnips."

The thief laughs.

You turn to where you left the injured bandit, just in time to see Lena raise her boot above his head.

"We need him alive!" you say.

Lena sighs. Then she lowers her foot, takes a stride, and stomps on this groin instead.

Among the PumpkinsEdit

Z11 a1 q2
Lore
The dusk air is cool, a ghostly whisper that strokes Julius' cheeks and whispers promises in his ear. The air is cool, but Heidi's hand is warm. It too is a promise, drawing him on with its inviting grasp, both soft and strong in its insistence. His heart hammers. Each fast beat sends a thrill through his body. His mind swirls with imaginings of what might come.

Heidi giggles. Julius freezes, wondering if she somehow sensed the tapestry of exhilarating images behind his eyes, glimpsed them through the inscrutable means of womankind.

"Klaus!" she whispers.

She steps into the shadows that pool beside one of the farm's little outbuildings, and drags him after her. He stumbles and bumps against her. The clumsiness brings a flush to his cheeks and a fresh musical giggle from her lips. They crouch in the concealing darkness, her warmth pressed against him.

A figure plods through the gloom. There's a pitchfork braced on his shoulder, held there with one gnarled hand. A fat jug sways at his side, its handle clasped in the other.

"Damn kids! Trampling my pumpkins... Little bastards!"

The gruff, familiar voice makes Julius smile. Heidi presses a hand over her mouth. It trembles with the merriment of another giggle, this time muffled.

"Should feed 'em all to the pigs..."

Farmer Klaus pulls the jug to his face in a sharp, forceful jerk. It bumps against his jaw, knocking his head back and eliciting a half-articulated curse. Then its mouth finds his, and all is forgiven when it disgorges a flood of whatever cheap cider or ale it holds. A loud series of gulps chronicles the union. Liquid trickles down his chin and splashes on his grimy jerkin.

He pulls the jug away and lets out a sigh that explodes into a loud burp. Then he takes another swig. He walks past their hiding place with the jug at his rough lips, and continues on his way -- heading towards the squat farmhouse beyond the outbuildings. They hear more glugs and grumbles until its door closes behind him.

Heidi uncovers her pretty mouth. Julius watches her lips shape delicate laughter.

"Come," she says.

The girl slips from the shadows and draws him into the moonlight once more. With Klaus ensconced in his home and his senses ensconced in alcohol, their way is clear. The rest of Hunsburg's adults are by their fires, or else slaking their thirst in the tavern. If any are abroad, they have no business in the pumpkin patch. Tonight it belongs to the young, and Julius knows -- with each beat of his heart and every intoxicating vision that swims in his thoughts -- none of the village's other youths will intrude. For now it's theirs, and theirs alone.

Heidi quickens her pace. He does the same. She turns back and smiles. Another wordless, enchanting, exhilarating promise.

A few years ago -- it seems a lifetime -- they ran and played among the pumpkins with all their little friends and foes, creating scenes of joy like those which took place but a few hours earlier. Julius can still remember how it felt, the unbridled pleasure and the childish sense of importance that came from knowing they were playing their part in generations-old ritual, helping to bring Pumpkin Night to pass. And now... Now he's about to play another role. The thought burns in his brain, a beautiful conflagration.

Heidi stops at the edge of the pumpkin patch, pausing till Julius stands beside her. She's not pulling him now. They step across the border at the same moment. When his boot touches the dirt and imprints his sole upon it, a wondrous sense of reality's weight works its way up his leg. This isn't a dream. It's his life. The greatest moment of his life.

They walk among the pumpkins side by side, sauntering towards its center.

The girls drew straws, as they do each year. This time Heidi's was the longest. She was to be the first. That meant she had first pick of the boys. And she had chosen Julius.

In the middle of the crops, surrounded by pumpkins, darkness, tradition, and infinite possibilities, they stop and turn to one another. Her face is both dark and bright, fought for by legions of shadow and battalions of moonlight. It's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.

He hadn't believed her at first. He'd thought she was mocking, jesting, toying. But she'd meant it. Out of all the boys in Hunsburg, any of whom would have reveled in her choice and thanked all the gods in heaven for their blessings, she'd wanted Julius.

The kiss was expected. Somehow it still takes him by surprise. Her hands draw his face towards hers. Then her lips join the fray. Soft warmth flows across his face. There's an instant of awkwardness. His tongue wriggles like a confused serpent, unsure of where it should be or whether it should recede into the innermost depths of his throat. But his flesh knows what to do, even if his intoxicated mind does not.

They descend to the dirt together, their lips still locked. Julius' back presses against the ground. Heidi's lips leave his. Her head rises and he can see the black brightness of her eyes, two stars that dominate all the others in the firmament. There's passion in their depths, like a warm and powerful ocean. But more besides. Something ancient, perhaps. The knowledge of ritual about to be performed, tradition fulfilled and upheld.

Little children play in the pumpkin patch and imbue the fruit with their joyful spirits. Then the youths -- those who stand on the cusp of adulthood but haven't yet been tamed by its edicts -- play their part.

Heidi's hair falls in dark golden waves. The locks tickle Julius' face as they frame and shroud his universe. Her lips are near his again. Her hands, gentle but determined, are on his belt.

A howl tears through the night. Then loud, yapping barks.

The girl rises. Her hair caresses Julius' cheek like teasing fingers. She turns towards the noise.

"That's Biss," she says. "Klaus' dog."

"Someone's coming!" Julius groans. Within his mind, infinite delights recede into the abyss.

"Who'd come here? She's probably just seen a rat."

The barking continues -- loud, angry.

"She'll bring Klaus out!" he says.

"I'll quieten her down. She knows me."

Heidi's weight leaves his. The parting is so unwished for that Julius has to stop himself from grabbing her, holding her, pulling her down to him.

She's gone a moment later, running back across the pumpkin patch with long, easy paces. Julius watches her slim figure flit through the moon-touched gloom till she disappears behind a building's black mass. Then he lies his head back against the dirt and looks up at the stars.

They twinkle like Heidi's eyes, a dozen promises. The night is still young, they seem to say.

The barking stops. Julius exhales, sending his breath into the dark sky above. She's always been good with animals.

Heidi emerges from behind the building. She isn't running now. Instead she sashays towards him, a shadow-bright smile across her lips. Danger has been averted. They have all the time in the world. He watches her approach. His body trembles with anticipation. Somehow seeing her draw nearer, knowing what each seductive step brings closer to existence, thrills him even more than her kiss did.

This is their night. Their role. Their purpose. They'll lend their passion to Pumpkin Night.

"Julius!" she says.

She stops and gives a start. She begins to turn.

Julius sits up. He hears them too. Footsteps... The flickering, unmistakable light of dancing flames pushes back against the shadows beside the outbuilding. Julius gasps. Klaus! The farmer must have come out after all, torch in hand! He's going to find them! He's-

The breath catches in his throat. Heidi screams.

A hideous burning visage looms through the night.


Rust-colored trees flash by Julius on either side, armies clad in decrepit plate. His boots thud against the ground. The stars scream overhead.

Heidi's face flashes in his whirling, shrieking, blinding thoughts.

Julius runs. He'll never stop running. Never. Because when he stops, that thing will have him. When he stops, he'll die.

The Hunsburg HorrorEdit

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The bandit howls. You smile. The shuddering of a cantering horse's back isn't comforting to a man with an injured groin.

"Shut up!" Queen Lena says.

She cuffs him across the back of his head.

"Ow! You bi-"

He turns round in the saddle, and meets the barbarian woman's glare.

"Yes?" Lena asks.

"You... Yer maj'sty!"

"That's more like it!"

He looks back round, and thus escapes further violence at the warlike queen's hands.

Lena wanted to kill him. That came as little surprise, since she seems to want to kill everyone and everything that crosses her. But you had to refuse. The bandit might have valuable information about Mosie, which will help bring the slave trader to justice. After the king's people have that, he can die at the end of a hangman's noose, on an axeman's block, or beneath Lena's stomping boots for all you care. For now, he has to live. Thus he sits in front of the queen, his hands bound behind his back.

"When we scarper back to Drunsdorf, I might give that sodding nobleman -- the one who spent the whole bloody night staring at my arse -- a chance. He wasn't a bad looking bloke. And I bet he has nice things in that mansion of his..."

"Maybe you can wear your dress," you suggest.

The gnome grins. After the fight with the bandits, while Lena put more clothes on and you carried out an impromptu interrogation of the survivor -- to make sure no women remained in the gang's camp and thus within your power to free them -- Rissa picked up her dress, brushed the dust off, rolled it up, and stashed it in one of her mount's saddlebags.

"Dresses are foolish," Lena says.

"Maybe, love. But men are a bunch of bloody fools, as the wife said when she castrated her husband."

The bandit winces at the word 'castrated'. Perhaps he thinks it might give his captress queen ideas.

At that moment fate offers him a distraction, however -- albeit an unwelcome one. Your horses' hooves encounter a bump in the road. Which in turn sends a fresh bump into his wounded genitals.

The bandit shrieks.

Lena cuffs him once more.

"How much longer do I have to put up with this?" she asks.

"We're not far from Galt," you reply. "Maybe another mile."

"An'th'r mile!" the bandit moans. "You-"

He slumps over. Only Lena's grasp -- using the hand which didn't just punch him in the back of the head -- stops him from tumbling off the steed and landing in the road.

The queen meets your gaze.

"I was sick of him talking," she says.

You sigh, and hope that she hasn't addled his brains. The ride to Galt, where you plan to hand the prisoner over and spend the night before setting out on the return journey to Drunsdorf, continues without further complaints or Kavalan violence.

"Hear that?" Rissa asks. "Someone's in the blooming forest again."

"More bandits maybe," Lena says. She doesn't sound displeased by the possibility.

"Could be. Could be... Well, as the whore said to the altar boy, I-"

You brace yourself for a terrible indecency, but it never emerges. The words of wisdom, or otherwise, which passed between that lady of the night and the pious child are destined to go unrepeated.

A dark form runs out from between the trees.

"You bleeding idiot!" the gnome cries.

She yanks at her animal's reins. His front legs rise from the road, kicking up a cloud of dust, and flail at the air. They narrowly miss smashing the newcomer's skull. He screams and falls in the road, unstruck but startled.

You pull your own steed to a halt, jump down, and crouch beside him. His head snaps round towards you, revealing a pale young face. Wide, wild eyes bulge at you. Shed tears glimmer in the moonlight. He thrashes at you, as though trying to fend you off. But his arms are feeble, drained of every ounce of strength.

A quick glance reveals no injury. But there's a darker patch at his crotch, and down one of his legs. Along with an unpleasant, almost alchemical stink. Whatever he's seen or done, it terrified him.

"Sodding moron!" Rissa says. The gnome lands at his other side. "Nearly got your blooming brains dashed out!"

"What happened?" you ask.

"Jack!" The word bursts out of his mouth like a high-pitched blade. "Jack! Killed her! He killed her!"

One of his arms thrashes again. This time it flails towards the path he emerged from.

"Jack!" he repeats.

Then his eyes roll back in his skull and he slumps. Rissa catches his head before it can bash against the road.

"Lena!" you shout. "Stay with him. Rissa, with me."

The gnome nods. Then the two of you launch yourselves into a sprint.

You draw your sword in mid-run. Rissa's daggers gleam in her hands.

The gnome's sharp eyes flash this way and that as you hurtle down the path, scouring the surrounding trees with her keen, furtive gaze. They scan the ground before you as well. She doesn't slow down, so neither do you. Instead you follow her lead, and continue along the dark channel.

You both see it at the same instant, and give a simultaneous intake of breath.

Blazing fire illuminates the distant darkness, like a flaming torch. You're running straight towards it. But as your rapid pace devours the path, it becomes clear that it's no torch.

The end of the shadowy passage, still far off, gives way to a small field. It's in its midst that the flames burn, casting out flickering tendrils of hellish illumination. No, it's not a torch... It's something infernal. A fiery visage, inscribed with a wicked grin. A burning demonic face.

Jack... That's what the boy said.

Your mind reels, but your pace goes unbroken.

The fiend clutches a sword in one hand. His flames' reflection flickers across its guilty red blade. And in his other hand, suspended from a long mane of gold hair, is a severed head.

He stands there, unmoving save for the dancing of his red cape in the wind. Simply stands there with his ghastly prize raised in his grasp.

Rissa halts, her short legs slowing and stopping -- casting aside their former swiftness.

You grab her arm.

"Come on!"

"But... It's... It's Jack!"

You keep running. Behind you there are footfalls, as the gnome follows your example. And still the fiend just stands there, gazing at you from his burning pumpkin face. Then he moves.

The head falls from his hand. It lands in the dirt at his feet. His fiery head turns away. And he runs, making for the small dark buildings at the edge of the field.

Rissa flashes past you. Perhaps his flight rekindled her courage, or else she's overcome her shock. She rushes towards the retreating creature. But quick as she is, he's far ahead. In a moment a building steals him from your sight. In another, the lingering light of his flames vanishes too -- swallowed by the darkness.

The gnome's already across the pumpkin patch when your boots first tread its soil. Then she disappears as well.

You leap over a large tangle of plants. In a few moments you've cleared the patch as well, and find yourself amid the outbuildings. There's no sign of either Rissa D'Tang or the fiend.

"Rissa!" you shout.

"I don't see him!" comes her raised voice, from the other side of a farmhouse.

You move off in another direction. If he's eluded the gnome thief, he could be anywhere...

The village's narrow streets are dim and dark. Empty and silent but for you and your footfalls. So you strain your ears. If he's nearby, perhaps... Yes! The sound of other footsteps reaches you. Your grip tightens on your sword as you creep between two buildings, draped in shadow. They're coming from up ahead...

The Mystery of JackEdit

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His weapon has drawn blood. A young life has been taken. It was the first. It won't be the last.

They will all die. This Pumpkin Night will be his.


"I'll burn them with fireballs! Melt them with acid! Wretched children!"

The voice is a man's. High-pitched and fruity. It's accompanied by a rustling noise -- the noise of someone moving among bushes.

You step out from the narrow passage. You're on the edge of the village, where buildings yield to the red, orange, and gold of autumnal trees. Clumps of foliage run along the boundary. And there's movement in one of them.

"Where is it? I know I dropped it here!"

A hoary head erupts from the leaves, followed by a body wearing red robes. A bearded face turns to you. The old man's eyes flash to your sword.

"Bandit!" he cries. "Bandit! Help! Help! Murder!"

"Wait!"

You lower your weapon. But it's too late. The robed man thrashes and blunders through the bushes, and runs off into the forest. You let him go. He isn't what you're looking for...

A scream tears through the night. It's followed by another. And then a third, all from the same throat. A woman's throat.

You turn round and run back the way you came. The screaming doesn't stop. It draws you on like the song of a distraught siren. And you realize that it's leading you back to the pumpkin patch.

Doors open. There are shouts from elsewhere in the village. Other people are coming to investigate. On your left, a woman looks out of her window and shrieks as you run by, naked blade in hand. You don't have time to explain, so you keep going -- leaving her screams behind you, forming a horrific chorus with those from ahead.

Rissa gets there at the same time. You meet at the edge of the field, and learn that your return was futile. The scream which brought you back wasn't evoked by a fresh atrocity, or else the sight of the fiend.

A girl in a grey dress stands amidst the plants, shrieking and wailing. She's staring at a headless corpse that sprawls in the dirt. There's a boy behind here. He whirls around as you approach, and issues a scream of his own.

"It's okay!" you say.

You sheathe your weapon. Rissa does the same.

"She's dead!" the boy cries.

The girl's final scream disappears into a guttural groan, then disperses into sobs. Rissa darts over and takes hold of her.

"Come away, love," she says.

"What the hell's going on here!" a voice shouts from behind. "And who the hell're you?"

The first of the villagers have caught up to you. A burly man jabs an accusing finger in your direction. His other hand's brandishing a thick cudgel.

"That's her!" a woman wails. She's the one you panicked as you ran past. "She-"

The woman breaks off, as she sees what's behind you. Then she shrieks, thrice as loud as before.


"Folk don't know what to make of it," Arnolt says. "That Julius boy's still telling everyone he saw Jack murder young Heidi! Jack!"

The constabel throws his hands up in the air. Then he slumps in his chair, as though the action's stolen all of his wind and left him deflated. You sympathize. The man's probably used to dealing with rowdy drinks and pilfered turnips... Not the savage murder of a young woman. Let a lone a murder under these circumstances.

"Who's Jack?" Lena asks.

"You don't know who Jack is?" the bandit sneers.

The barbarian queen turns to the iron-barred cell and glares. The man within backs away, apparently deciding that even a locked door might not keep him safe from her.

"Less talk out of you," the constable says. "My cudgel doesn't get much use, but I wager it'll still crack your nut open if I swing it hard enough."

Lena nods, and smiles at Arnolt. He's a man after her own heart. You've taken rather a liking to him as well, and not just because he shares your willingness to bludgeon people who deserve it. If he hadn't stepped between you and the villagers last night, and calmed them down long ehough to hear you out...

As it was, he'd let you tell your tale, then sent a group of men to find Lena and Julius. By then the boy had regained consciousness, and been able to blurt out his side of things.

"You Kavalans don't have Pumpkin Night, do you, love?" Rissa asks.

"We don't grow pumpkins. We live off meat, like true warriors."

"That's why you haven't heard of Jack. He was this bloke who carved a scary face on a pumpkin and bunged it on his noggin, so he could scare a lot of young kids. Expect it didn't work like he'd imagined, as the priest said at the alchemist's funeral. The kids splashed him with pitch and chucked a flaming torch at his head."

"A proper punishment for his foolishness."

"If you say so, love. Anyway, their parents thought Jack was some kind of demon, and they were pretty proud of the little fellers for doing him in. So they gave them all sweets. And that's how Pumpkin Night started. Every year, kids play around with pumpkins -- putting faces on them and what have you -- and go out asking for treats. They sit around telling scary stories too, about how Jack's going to come back from the dead to get his own back."

"In the Kavala tribe, our children aren't scared of stories. Their only fear is that they might one day disgrace themselves by showing weakness before their enemies."

"Bloody merry bunch of coves, you Kavalans."

"You've seen your share of demons and undead, if the stories are true," Arnolt says. "Do you really think..."

"I don't know," you reply. "But I want to find out, if you'll let me."

The constable's lips twitch into a wan smile.

"If King Jamus trusts you to go around killing dragons, who am I to turn you down? I'll let everyone know you've got my permission to look around and ask questions. I don't mind admitting, you're more likely to find out what's going on than I am."

Questioning the LocalsEdit

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"So, what do we do?" Rissa asks.

The three of you are standing in the pumpkin patch, now bathed in the bright morning light. Heidi's body and severed head have been taken away, to be mourned by her family and laid in the ground. But there are still splashes of blood across some of the pumpkins, marring the orange flesh with their redness and reminding all who look upon them of the horror that took place.

Several groups of villagers are clustered around the field, talking in low voices. Many glances are cast in your direction. Some are merely curious. Others suspicious. A few are awestruck, in spite of the terrible events which have taken place. Not everyone in Hunsburg believes you're the dragon-rider of Burden's Rest, but most seem to. According to Arnolt, there's even a rumor flying around that you and your two companions were attacked by a hundred bandits -- and that the man in the constable's cell is the sole survivor of the resulting massacre.

"We ask questions," you reply. "There may be people in this village who know something."

"About Jack?" Lena asks.

"About the murderer," you reply. "Whoever or whatever he might be. When we chased him, he could have run into the forest. But he didn't. He went deeper into Hunsburg. I want to know why."

"So who'd we sodding well ask?"

"Let's start with them."

You nod towards a group that's standing some distance away from the others, on the far side of the field. Boys and girls who look to be about Julius' age.

They stare at you when you approach. Some of their eyes are red from weeping. Others are distant, swimming with shock and confusion. A few pairs are angry.

"I'm sorry about your friend," you say.

A couple of them nod. Most just keep staring.

"They say you're the dragon-rider." The boy's tone is neutral, as though that information -- your identity as the kingdom's great hero -- is meaningless. Compared with the death of his friend, it probably is.

"They're right."

"I'm Uller. Constable Arnolt's my uncle. He said you're going to kill Jack."

"I promise that if I find whoever did this, I'll make them pay. I've killed men, monsters, and demons. And I'll take great pleasure in killing this one."

He nods. There's a grimness on his face that makes him look far older.

"If you don't mind a lass asking," Rissa says, "what were Julius and Heidi doing here last night?"

The youths glance at one another. Some stare at the ground. More than a few faces redden.

"They... We..." Uller begins.

"It was..." a girl says.

"A... ritual," another adds. "For... For Pumpkin Night."

"Oh. They were shagging in the pumpkin patch? I've heard of that one. Some villages have that back home in Titar."

You sigh. This really isn't any way to be speaking to bereaved children...

But for their part, most of them seem relieved that Rissa D'Tang took the uncomfortable explanation out of their hands.

"Did anyone else know they were here?" you ask.

"We all did," Uller replies.

"And the adults?"

"We... I... I don't know. They've never mentioned it. And we..."

"Right. Not exactly the kind of thing you talk to your blooming folks about, is it?" Rissa says.

"This is a tradition?" Lena asks. "Something you do every year?"

"Yes. The ones who pull the long straws, anyway." Uller looks at Lena's boots in lieu of her eyes.

"Then someone must have told you about it. Otherwise the tradition couldn't continue."

"Mistress Bridlin," a girl says. "It was in one of her books about harvest rituals."

"Blimey." Rissa whistles. "Never got taught about shagging when I was at school. If we had, I mightn't have bloody well stopped going."

The talk of education brings something to the fore of your mind.

"The schoolhouse... That's on the east side of the village, where the forest starts?"

They nod. You'd thought the type of building seemed familiar. It reminded you of the one in Burden's Rest.

"I saw it last night," you continue. "There was a man outside... An old man, in red robes."

"Melchior," several voices chorus.

"He's the village wizard," Uller explains. "He calls himself a wizard, anyway. I've never seen him do any magic. He just goes around with his nose in dusty old books all the time."

You ask more questions. Once you've heard all you wish to for the moment, you thank the children and lead your companions back across the pumpkin patch.

"Now what?" Rissa asks.

"We split up and see what we can find out," you reply.

---

"Why did <playername> make me go with you?" Lena asks. Then she adds, as though the matter requires clarification: "I don't like you."

"Everyone likes me, love. Most folk just don't know it yet. Anyway, <he/she> might have thought you'd end up tearing some poor sod's arms off for looking at you the wrong way. Besides, and don't take any blooming offence, but you're not exactly the kind of girl to handle this work on your own. Now me, I know a thing or two about crimes."

"That's because you always commit them."

"Commit them, solve them... Two sides of the same bleeding coin, Lena."

"You will address me as 'Queen Lena'."

"High and mighty, aren't we?"

"Yes. And I'll use my might to smash you, little gnome."

"Did anyone ever tell you how bloody charming you are?"

"Yes. Men who wanted to bed me. I smashed most of them too."

The thief rolls her eyes.

"Here we are," Rissa says, a few moments later.

"I still don't know why you want to talk to the village priest."

"No offence to any of the holy blokes that follow <playername> around, but you can't trust priests. Back home, there was this one cove who pretended to be as holy as you like. Well, turned out he was rogering half the married women in town."

The barbarian queen seems to ponder this ecclesiastical opinion as the thief pushes the door open, and the two women enter the temple.

Rissa's been inside many shrines. Usually to ply her trade rather than as a worshipper. Even so, she has an eye for them. Her gaze roams over the icons and candelabras first. Her scrutiny reveals little worth stealing, however. They're serviceable, but not valuable. A proper working temple. Grateful and comforting to the pious, perhaps -- but not to a thief. Having ascertained that, the gnome allows her senses to play elsewhere. The long oak pews that fill most of the main room's space show plenty of wear. Many of the villagers' behinds have graced them in the past, if she's any judge, and not infrequently. But she sees dust on them too.

A pointed cough draws her attention from the temple's furnishings and to the flabby man standing with his back to the altar, dressed in grey and red robes. He's holding a goblet in his hand. Rissa notes that it's made of gold, and idly calculates how much an unscrupulous merchant might give for it.

"You must be Brother Hanz," she says. She walks down the aisle which runs between the pews, ignoring the dark look on his face. "We're here to ask-"

"Whore!" he bellows.

"You're a bloody forward one, aren't you? But if you want a whore, you can bleeding well get your own. I don't carry them around with me."

Hanz storms towards her and jabs a flabby finger down at her chest.

"You dare come into Karuss' temple with your breasts on display? Harlot!"

"Display? This is just a hint, mate. If I put them out on display, you'd be drooling like a dog staring at a nice bit of steak."

"Wretched woman! You parade your sex before Karuss and then jest about your sinfulness?"

"Karuss? I thought your name was Hanz?"

"Ignorant gnome! Karuss is our god -- the Lord of Light!"

"Oh, that bloke. Right..."

"Revealing yourself before the god..." He shakes his head from side to side in quick, angry motions that send his jowls wobbling.

"Wait a minute, as the doctor said when one patient was about to croak and the next one needed the bed... This god of yours... Is he, you know, one of those all-seeing coves?"

"Of course! Karuss is omniscient, omnipo-"

"Then he's probably seen me naked plenty of blooming times."

"What!?!"

"Well, if he sees everything, he sees me when I've taken my clobber off. Blimey... He's even seen me shag!"

The priest's jaw drops open. His eyes widen, making him resemble a gawping fish.

"Wonder if he liked the sight of that," Rissa continues. "Might even have given himself a good old-"

"You have the mouth of a succubus!" Hanz roars.

The priest jerks the goblet towards her.

"Hey!" she cries, as a stream of holy water splashes across her face. "You bastard! I'll... I'll..."

Rissa lunges. But Lena's quicker. A powerful barbarian hand grabs the back of the gnome's collar and lifts her off the ground.

"Get off me!" she exclaims.

Her arms and legs thrash, trying to grab, claw, and kick at Brother Hanz. But the queen's grip is unbreakable.

"Be quiet, thief," Lena says.

She tosses the gnome over her shoulder, before looking to the priest.

"I'm sorry for my minion's rudeness. I often wish to kill her."

"Murder is a sin, my daughter. But in this case, I would be sure to intercede with Karuss on your behalf."

Rissa stands with her arms crossed and fumes. She landed on her feet, but her dignity suffered quite a bump.

"We're here because of the murder..." Lena says.

"Ah... A terrible tragedy. But, alas, brought about by the girl's own folly. Hers and that of the other fools in this wretched town!"

"You're not from Hunsburg, are you? Your accent's different."

"I was sent here a few weeks ago, after my predecessor choked to death on a chicken bone. A lamentable death, but one in which I see the hand of divine justice!"

"What?" Rissa calls out. "You mean Karuss shoved the bone down his gob?"

Hanz's brow darkens.

"Shut up, Rissa!" Lena says.

She glares at the gnome. Rissa rolls her eyes. The barbarian woman returns her gaze to the priest.

"This temple's last priest permitted... nay, encouraged... the villagers to celebrate Pumpkin Night! To perform rituals dedicated not to the true gods, not to Lord Karuss, but enacted in memory of a demon from the abyss!"

"You're talking about Jack? I thought he was just a stupid man who had his head burned."

"When he lived, he was. But our sacred texts, those of them dedicated to warding off infernal beings, tell of how his wickedness endured even beyond his demise. He languished in hell, crying out for vengeance. And with their impious rituals, the men and women of Hunsburg have granted him passage into our realm!"

"So you believe it was Jack who killed the girl?"

"Of course! The fiend walks, for Karuss has turned his gaze from this village-"

"Hey! If he's turned his bloody gaze away, he couldn't have seen my baps!"

"Shut up, Rissa!" Lena exclaims.

"The Lord of Light no longer protects those who've turned their backs on him. Mark my words, my daughter -- unless they shun Pumpkin Night and repent of their sin, more misguided children will perish!"

---

The schoolhouse brings back memories. Its classroom is furnished with the same sturdy desks and benches you recall from your own childhood, crafted from heavy wood designed to withstand the passing years and serve generation after generation.

"I'll just be a moment!" the schoolmistress says.

Her voice comes from behind the closed door near the teacher's desk. From the sound of shifting objects and rustling pages which accompany it, she's grappling with the contents of a storage room.

You continue to run your gaze around the room as you wait. There's a bookcase in the corner, filled with neat, well-bound volumes that look to have been arranged by size and color -- or else arranged in some other manner and subsequently bound that way to bring about harmonious order. From the perfect, unmarred condition of their spines, and the fact that Mistress Bridlin's desk stands between them and the rest of the classroom like some kind of scholarly bulwark, you assume that these aren't used by the children. Rather the schoolmarm must teach from them.

Out of idle curiosity, you reach towards one of the books. A sharp cough forestalls your grasp, and leaves your hand hovering in the air for a long moment before you withdraw it. You turn around.

A tall woman regards you with a forced smile and a twitching brow. She obviously takes her books rather seriously...

"My name's-"

"You're <playername>, the dragon-rider of Burden's Rest. Arnolt said you might come to speak with some of us. About poor Heidi's death."

"Did you know her well?"

"Of course! I teach every child in the village."

"What kind of girl was she?"

"Ah... I don't wish to speak ill of the dead..."

"But?"

"I'm afraid she was a very frivolous girl. She neglected her work, and spent every lesson making eyes at Julius or else daydreaming. I often had to chide her."

"I see..."

You can always rely on schoolmasters for an unemotional assessment of a child. Even decapitation doesn't redeem a pupil in their eyes.

"I was outside here last night," you continue. "I found a man in the bushes. They said his name was Melchior."

"Yes, our local wizard."

"The children didn't seem very impressed with him."

"He isn't a very impressive fellow. Though I do approve of his love of reading..."

"He was looking for something. And when I asked some of the others about it, they said he'd lost a book."

"Oh... Yes. I'm afraid that some of the children take pleasure in upsetting him. That day he was walking along the path, reading one of his tomes, and they decided to pelt him with inkballs."

Inkballs... Children never change. When you were a <boy/girl>, you made and spat your fair share of those -- little scraps of crumpled up parchment, soaked in ink and launched through a blowpipe-like tube.

"He ran through the bushes to escape, and dropped the book."

"What happened to it?"

"I told the children to leave it be, so it would still be there when he came to recover it. But it seems that one of them must have taken it. I doubt they would have stolen it -- few of them take any pleasure in reading. But they might have hidden it somewhere for ill-natured amusement."

"I heard him muttering things about the children. He was angry." You pause. Then, when Bridlin doesn't fill the silence, you continue. "The man's a wizard. Do you think he could have..."

"Conjured up Jack?"

"Yes."

"I think you've seen far more magic in your life than I have in mine. I can't say whether such things are possible. But if he did, Heidi won't be the last victim. He's suffered a great many injustices at the children's hands."

---

Klaus grunts. He glares at Rissa, then at Lena, then at Rissa once more -- as though he can't quite decide which of the two women is more deserving of his enmity.

"It's not proper!" he says. "Using a pumpkin patch for... for..."

"Shagging?"

"Aye!"

He spits. The blob of saliva splats against a bloody pumpkin.

"Murdering children isn't proper either," Queen Lena says.

The farmer grunts out a concession.

"Who'd you think did it?" Rissa asks.

"They said it was Jack."

"People bloody well say a lot of things. What do you think?"

"I've tended pumpkins all my years, and I've never seen no demon in my patch. Not unless you count those little 'uns."

"Imps?"

"No!"

"If you mean gnomes..." Rissa glares.

"Children!"

The word bellows out across the field. Men and women -- still gathered in their little gossiping groups -- stare from all directions.

"Children!" he hisses in a lower voice. "Charging about like a bunch of drunk goats, and smashing my crops! I hate them! I hate the damned lot of them!"

Lena and Rissa's eyes meet.

---

Interlopers. People who've come to meddle with his plans. This angers him. They cannot be allowed to interfere with his vengeance.

He draws his weapon.


ApocolocyntosisEdit

Z11 a1 q6
Lore
"I sodding knew it," Rissa says.

The three of you approach the small cottage, weapons sheathed but hands twitching near their hilts.

"What do you mean, gnome?" Lena asks.

"It's blooming well typical, isn't it? Oldest story in the book, apart from the one about a boy meeting a girl and-"

"Let me guess... 'Shagging' her?" you say.

"No. Losing her. Bloody dirty mind you have there."

You sigh.

"Anyway, old story... Mage gets pissed off. Summons up a creature from the abyss, or the netherworld, or whatever, and folks start getting killed."

"We don't know if he did that," Lena says.

"I'll get the bleeding truth out of him, as the cleric said when his dog ate the holy scriptures."

You knock on the door. It creaks open.

"A bloke wants to learn how to lock his bloody door. I don't know... And then they wonder why they get robbed."

"Because you robbed them?" Lena asks.

"Maybe."

"Hello!" you call. "Melchior?"

There's a faint moan from within. Two swords and two daggers leave their sheaths.

You take the lead as you enter the cottage. Rissa and Lena fan out behind you.

You glance to either side, watchful for an ambush. But nothing emerges. And you trust your companions to guard the rear if it should come a moment later. So you press on, into the room on the right, from whence the noise came.

It's a cluttered mess of a chamber, littered with papers, strewn-about tomes, and a vast assortment of dubious items that might be artworks, artifacts, or simply rubbish. Amidst all that detritus, sitting propped up against the wall, is the man from last night. He stares up at you with twitching eyes. There's a brighter, more vivid red against the faded, patched crimson of his robes.

You kneel beside him, reaching over to staunch the flow of blood. But it's too late. You've seen enough wounds in your time to know that.

A lucid, frantic clarity flashes into his gaze as it meets yours.

"Apocolocyntosis!" he means.

A wordless breath follows, and empties his lungs.


"Order!" Constable Arnolt roars. "We will have order!"

The tumult continues for several moments more, till it finally resolves itself into a sea of low murmuring.

"The dragon-rider has more experience in these matters than any of us," he continues. "And it's his/her opinion that we've been attacked by Jack himself -- a demon! That-"

The room erupts in a barrage of shouts. You look around the hall, letting your gaze drift from face to face and reading the emotions present on each one. Most of them are as to be expected. Anger. Outrage. Fear.

"Order, I say!"

It's almost a full minute before quiter -- or at least enough for the constable to continue -- is restored.

"Tomorrow we'll send riders to Drunsdorf, who'll ask the dragon-rider's companions for aid. Not even Jack can face an army of veteran demon-slayers."

This statement is more welcome than the last. Many heads nod their approval.

"Tonight, all of you are to stay in your homes. If anyone goes abroad, I'll not be held responsible for what Jack does to them!"



Boss: JackEdit

Possible DropsEdit

Name Att Def AV Per Ability Obtained
Mummy lord Mummy Lord 60 90 83 Peril of the Pumpkin Patch
Vampire gnome Vampire Gnome 65 70 83 Peril of the Pumpkin Patch
Jack o lantern brown Brown Jack o' Lantern Craft x2 Stat Points Peril of the Pumpkin Patch raids and quests
Jack o lantern grey Grey Jack o' Lantern Craft x2 Stat Points Peril of the Pumpkin Patch raids and quests
Jack o lantern green Green Jack o' Lantern Craft x2 Stat Points Peril of the Pumpkin Patch raids and quests
Jack o lantern blue Blue Jack o' Lantern Craft x2 Stat Points Peril of the Pumpkin Patch raids and quests
Jack o lantern purple Purple Jack o' Lantern Craft x2 Stat Points Peril of the Pumpkin Patch raids and quests
Jack o lantern orange Orange Jack o' Lantern Craft x2 Stat Points Peril of the Pumpkin Patch raids and quests

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