Human Ranger

Xin was raised on a small farm in the countryside (Fields of the Dead) outside Elturel. Her father (Inghaff) and mother (Alys) were both hunters and farmers. Xin always preferred the hunting over the farming. Her younger brother (Cyne) died from disease when she was young and her mother also died from disease a few years later, so she doesn’t have much faith in the gods. She wanted to become a Hellrider because it presented the only opportunity for her to leave a farmer’s life for something better (that didn’t include whoring). Her father wanted her to marry the son (Ered) of a successful merchant (Ethent Porte of Porte‚Äôs Fleece), who tried courting her, so she ran away from home to the city at 16. She ended up getting a job as a brothel courier and that’s how she met her friend, Mazel. She entered into an archery contest and beat every man in the competition. That got her noticed by a huntsman/tracker (Wulfa) who was looking for an assistant. She spent the next couple years in his service. That’s where she learned the true skills of ranging. Her master taught her that she could make a lot of money as a tracker and/or huntsman, and gave her the skinny on mercenary work. That’s when she decided to obtain an audience with Captain Torvell of the Hellriders. After being turned down, she decided to go home to see her father. He had already passed away.


Xin needed to see Captain Torvell, and she had decided the only viable way would be to disguise herself as a harp-plucking strumpet bard. She wasn’t masculine enough to pull off a young male recruit, and trying to sneak into the main pavilion of the Hellriders’ current encampment would prove next to impossible, as well it should.

So Xin borrowed one of Mazel Bulger’s more colorful dresses which, though being a size too small, worked to Xin’s advantage by providing a bit of cleavage to her otherwise non-existent breasts. She also secured an old pixie harp from Mazel, whose father ran a whore house in Shit Alley. Mazel had owed Xin a favor and snatched the harp from an opium fiend named Carlotta Crabs, one of the specialty tricks that only layed with men who themselves had incurable diseases of the crotch. Carlotta may have been itching, but around Shit Alley and the Mire, she was never itching for business. Xin and Mazel both were fairly certain the loopy harlot wouldn’t miss the harp, or even notice its absence.

At Monday’s dawn, Xin set out. Just in case one of the mercenaries decided to spoil her before she even got to the Captain, she had concealed a punching dagger in the back of her corset. She wasn’t sure which bothered her more, the constricting titty harness or the ivory handle of the dagger pressed just below her left shoulder blade. She never understood the province of women. Xin would sooner slit a man’s throat than indulge his tastes for peacock pageantry and bodily bondage. Her own Dod had never made her Mum dress that way, so aspiring to such tastes seemed false and unnatural, never mind that it made hunting and riding a genuine displeasure.

But alas she had to play the part to have her say, though she knew she was taking a chance that the Captain would treat her any differently than one of his horny underlings. She had heard good things about Captain Torvell, and he seemed to be adored by the working folk, men and women alike. But that didn’t necessarily exempt him from drowning puppies and and splitting little girls’ arses when nobody was watching. Often times the men who shined
brightest in the sun waned darkest in the shadows.

She made the four mile hike in less than an hour, taking a shortcut through the woods off of the main road which ran all the way to Baldur’s Gate. Long before she reached the morning campfires, the smells of roasting venison and sizzling pork lay thick in the air. If nothing else, the Hellriders ate well. Maybe Xin could even get breakfast out of the deal.

Well over a hundred tents littered the bivoac which had been situated in a large meadow beyond a good patch of woodland. Since she entered from the forest’s edge and not the nearby trail, neither patrol nor sentry had been privy to her calling.

Men huddled around their fires immediately began turning their heads and focusing their eyes. Certain words like “sweet” and “cunty” could already be heard amongst the low mutterings. Xin tried smiling though she wasn’t very good at it. She could feel her nerves making their effortless ascent from her stomach to her throat. She got the awful idea that maybe these men were mistaking her terror for coyness which, of course, would make her an even more tantalizing piece of sweet cunty.

“Well ain’t ye a tart, lovely,” said one soldier as he masticated a wad of greasy pork.

“Bring that harp this way, girly. We need us a song or two,” said another. “An then we need something else.”

“She’s a skinny one, ain’t she?”

“Be like fucking a sack of antlers.”

“She’s a bard, you dumb shit. Probably only licks other twat.”

“Well then it’s yer lucky day, Dreg!”

The dialogue and laughing continued well beyond Xin’s passing, and she could still hear the loud mouths at forty paces.

Finally a large mercenary with half plate armour stepped out in front of her. “What’s your business here, girl?”

Xin nearly ran into his chest plate as she could see the Captain’s pavilion and its fluttering pendants around the mercenary’s bulging arm. Damned if she was almost there. “I…I’m here for Captain Torvell. I mean, he sent for me.”

The mercenary gave her a once over and half-smirked. “And what would the Captain want with you?”

“He requested some music…and a couple songs with his breakfast.” If she hadn’t been red before, Xin felt flushed as a shooting dragon now.

“That right? Music and a couple songs.”

“Yes. I’m already running late. Probably will lose half my pay.” Xin felt better about that one. Speak to them in terms they can understand.

“Heh. Wouldn’t worry about that. The Captain would see to it that you earned all of your pay.”

Xin figured she wouldn’t try to parse the implication. She’d come too far to turn back now. She could have that punching dagger out in an
instant if Captain Torvell proved to be anything less than what she expected.

“What’s your name, bard girl?”


“By the gods, I’ll go with the latter. You stay put, uh, bard girl.”

The mercenary turned and proceeded toward the pavilion. It wasn’t ideal, and for a moment Xin thought about just sprinting back to the woods. But despite all the lechery and mockery, Xin didn’t feel that her life was in jeopardy amongst the Hellriders. She guessed that was a good thing considering they’d been hired to protect Elturel.

The sun was fully up now, and the camp began to take on some life. Horses neyed, anvils pounded and the scattered conversations and laughter swelled to thrice what they were just ten minutes prior.

It didn’t take long for the large mercenary to return, for which Xin was thankful considering three other men had already flicked their tongues at her and grabbed their tollivers. It was no wonder that these types of outfits would rape everything in site when sacking cities or pillaging farms and villages. The men were hornier than stray cats in springtime.

“The Captain will see you, bard girl, if that’s even what you are. But first I’ll have that dagger tucked behind your dress.”

Xin felt her jaw drop and she made a concerted effort to snap it shut. How could he have known she had a dagger? Was he a magician or something? She fumbled to the back of her corset and carefully withdrew the punching dagger. She handed it over.

“Next time you wish to hide a weapon, wear baggier clothing,” the mercenary said while glancing down at her cleavage.

Again, Xin thought about running, except she’d probably be killed by her own punching dagger before taking two steps. Her stupidity knew no bounds, and it was all enough to make her want to blubber like a toddler left with strangers. But Xin hadn’t cried since she was seven, and she wasn’t about to break that streak amongst the bloody damned Hellriders. Remember, Zin, you could best any one of these filthy rogues with bow and quiver. You could outrun them, out track them and probably out ride half of them.

She threw the blasted harp in the dirt, and with the same aplomb that she had when she entered the Hellriders’ camp, Xin strode swiftly to meet Captain Torvell.


Rascals of Elturel layitonmethree