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Death of a Scout

Hannleim val Daimon had had enough. He was the leader of this party, and the scout was annoying him.

The scout was annoying everybody, but it was him that was going to do something about it. He had tried subtle threats, but part of the annoyance was based on the scout's incomprehension of subtlety.

How could a scout not understand subtlety?

He knew the healer felt the same way. He was another contradiction - a murderous healer - but val Daimon liked him.

The half-ogre did not agree. He would be opposed to any action taken against a party member.

How could you have an honourable half-ogre?

It was a strange party.

The remaining two members of the party were of little consequence. Fighters, objects to place between himself and danger. He had only ever met one fighter that was worthy of his respect.

Would Dean back him up in this situation? Probably not, which was a shame. Fighters respected Dean, they followed his leadership because they admired him.

They followed val Daimon because they couldn't see (or prove) what he was really like. And of course, a little judicious mind magic helped enormously.

A little mind magic could well help him here, but how? The scout had run off again, doing his scouting thing, trying to pretend he was indispensable. He would come back eventually to tell the party that there was a suspicious group of people waiting ahead.

This was the Larcax Forest! Suspicious groups of people were its only inhabitants. They themselves were about as suspicious as it got. Five adventurers, all armed to the teeth and looking for trouble.

Or treasure, but the two were essentially inseperable.

"I've found the dungeon entrance."

The scout was back. Oh joy.

"Did you see any protections?"

"No."

"Very well. When we get there, you can have a look inside for guards or traps."

"I'm a scout, not a thief."

A thief? What did this idiot know about thieves? Val Daimon knew dozens of 'thieves', any one of whom would br preferable company to this wannabe scout.

But he made no comment. It would just provoke questions that he couldn't be bothered to answer.

"Whatever."

They walked on, the party in glowering silence, the scout oblivious to the hostility surrounding him, and entered the dungeon.

Suddenly there was a flash. A ball of flame erupted from nowhere, engulfing the scout and the half-ogre.

There was a brief panic as the party tried to find something to defend themselves against, but as quickly as it erupted the flame died.

The half-ogre stood unconcerned, his clothes charred and blackened. The scout lay on the ground, writhing in agony.

Val Daimon and the medic rushed over.

"What happened?"

"I don't know."

They bent down to examine the scorched scout. His injuries looked nasty but were (sadly) non-fatal. For a moment it looked as if some god had taken pity on the party, but fortune was rarely that kind to atheists.

Refusing to fall into the 'If only...' syndrome, val Daimon tried to think of some way to turn this near-luck to his advantage.

The answer came to him. He gestured to the half-ogre.

"Go on ahead. Check that there's nothing waiting for us that might be attracted by the noise."

"Wha' bou' 'im?"

"He is badly injured, but we'll see what can be done. We need you to check that nothing interrupts us while we try to patch him up."

The half-ogre scowled while the medic eyed val Daimnon quizically, but eventually gave up on the effort of thinking and shambled off up the corridor.

Val Daimon gestured to the other two miscellaneous fighters.

"Best go with him. He may be tough, but he's not bright, and we don't know what's down here."

They looked at each other, perhaps deciding wether or not to notice his ulterior motives. They seemed to conclude that it was no skin off their behind either way, and as long as they got to hit something fairly frequently they were willing to go along with pretty much anything.

Adventuring is a harsh life, and death is no more than an occupational hazard. There comes a point when you can no longer be horrified. Val Daimon and the medic were left along with the scout.

"He's badly injured." Said val Daimon.

"Very badly."

"He might not live."

"Possibly."

"He must be in a lot of pain."

"Must be."

"Perhaps we should spare him any further suffering."

The scout had stopped writhing. His eyes said clearly that he had heard and understood. The pain evaporated, leaving only fear.

He tried to thrash his way upright, but his two companions held him down. He tried to scream for help, but was muffled by a neck scarf being quickly stuffed into his mouth. He struggled and fought, but his injuries made him weak, and his success was negligeable.

The medic looked at val Daimon, weighing his priorities, checking the plausibilty of the lies he would have to tell. He looked down at the wriggling scout, at the horror in his eyes.

"It would be the humane thing to do."

"It would."

Val Daimon drew a knife, the medic took it. He paused for a moment while the fear in the scout's eyes forced tears to fall down across his face, sounds of whimpering escaping from through the gag.

The knife point pressed against the trembling throat and, with a single cut, they put him out of their misery.

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