So this is the thanks you get for saving a noble’s son’s life?
It all started a few days ago when the Lord Mayor’s son organized a moonlight hunting party for “a few of his pals, and Yvette.” Yvette knew there was always a bit of snickering when the rich guys invited her along on their little jungle treks. The guardswoman was probably the last woman in the Cauldron you’d invite to a fancy dress party, but was a good choice for wandering into a jungle full of creatures with big nasty teeth. Yvette didn’t mind tagging along as it got her away from the barracks and into the jungle. If things went badly, or well depending on her mood, she even got the chance to slice open some critters.
Anyways, everything was going well. There was a full moon and little cloud cover, so visibility was hardly a problem. You could see at least as far through the dense foliage at night as during the day. Then the hunting party realized that Lord Navalant’s son had wandered off, again. Octavo Navalant never did take hunting seriously and always found some way to get lost in the jungle so he’d miss out on being in on the kill. Then, someone would notice the young fool was missing and everyone’s hunt would be turned into a game of “Where’s Octavo?”
Yvette would never claim to be a hunter or tracker--that was professional work. But she had no problem finding and following Octavo’s trail. By the time she found the young fool, he was seeking refuge from a pack of jungle cats by climbing a tree. There was no time to lose; Yvette had to act before Octavo learned the hard way that jungle cats can climb trees. She drew her greatsword and ran screaming into the clearing, scattering the cats before her.
Yvette thought nothing more about the incident with the jungle cats until last night. It was her first night off since the jungle outing, so she went to the pub to unwind. Yvette felt there was a hush as she entered the room, but dismissed it as her imagination. She ordered a pint of ale at the bar then took a chair at her normal table and waited for more off duty guardsmen to show up.
As Yvette nursed her ale, the conversations at the other tables resumed. It didn’t take long for her to realize that most of the patrons were discussing her rescue of Octavo Navalant. Yvette relaxed and took a nice long swallow of beer. It was nice hearing others talking of her heroic exploits. Then she realized the story had been changed in some dark and twisted ways.
“Octavo told me her eyes glowed like fire and her hair bristled like a beast’s. The cats ran from her like frightened kittens.”
“She killed three of them. It’s too bad she used that oversized horse slayer of hers. None of the pelts could be salvaged.”
“It’s the Moon Madness. It runs in the Gallowfall blood. They don’t all show it, her Dad’s stayed normal all these years, and her grandfather. But my granny told me stories about her great-grandfather. Four girls killed before they stopped him.”
“You know where the name Gallowfall comes from? They say that Surabar Spellmason himself saved old Roderick Gallowfall from a lynch mob. The mob claimed to have caught Roderick covered in the blood and gore of his own wife and children. Roderick said he had no idea what had happened. Spellmason took Roderick saying that fighting to clear this land of monsters would be punishment enough for whatever crimes he may have committed.”
“I saw Yvette’s mother leap from the wall when Yvette was a baby. The last thing she yelled was, ‘I gave birth to a monster!’”
There was a crash as Yvette violently pushed away from her table. She threw the last of her ale, mug and all, at the last gossip’s face. “Leave my mother out of this!” She yelled at the man to keep from crying. Then the gossip’s friends got up and a brawl started. After several frenzied minutes of flying fists, glassware, and barstools, Yvette was finally subdued and she spent the rest of the night in the guardhouse.
The next morning Yvette was in Captain Skellerang’s office. She would have understood if the Captain had yelled at her like she was a raw recruit, but he was detached and professional. He said a lot of things about the Gallowfalls’ decades of service in Cauldron’s guard. How he had expected great things from Yvette, possibly succeeding his successor to the captaincy. But in light of recent events… Good of the service… Maybe they were more lenient in your great grandfather’s day… I’m sure you understand.
And now Yvette Gallowfall is out of the only job she has ever wanted or known. The job her father’s fathers’ had held since Spellmason’s day was now denied to her. Well, there are still plenty of opportunities of a brave woman with a good sword in and around the Cauldron.
If Yvette can keep the Moon Madness at bay…