The Smell of Fear
(Riverhaven, Therengia: 9 Ka’len 351)
I was practicing with my little throwing blades up on the North Meadow. Since I was all alone, several rams and a troll engaged at melee while I tried to become more proficient with these alternate hunting weapons. Suddenly a man enters the area and everything went nuts! The creatures which had been facing me could suddenly smell his fear, and within a heartbeat, they were at melee with him. More came, hunting him down. Each one seemed to smell his fear, and immediately attack him.
I know how rapidly things can deteriorate on the North Meadow with a swarm, and this looked to be headed to one. So I started taking the creatures off, one by one. But they came faster than I could dispatch them. Arbelogs, Bears, trolls, leucros, and rams. Each one paid me no heed, instead they got one whiff of him, and made a beeline to him.
He was quivering and shaking the likes of which I have never seen, acting frightened. But there was little time for conversation. I finally called for help. It was clear he was in no condition to help himself, he was exausted, overwhelmed, and still attracting opponents. The number of creatures just getting worse.
Three other brave heroes answered my call for help and between us all we finally managed to kill all the things which were attacking him.
He asked for an escort back to Riverhaven, which seemed like a real good idea considering this odd circumstance he found himself in, so I took him back to town. But each time he even passed through an area, the creatures would leap to melee at him, and he would end up on the ground! I drug him out, and they followed! Instantly. By the time we got into the city gate, there were crayfish and goblins following, attacking him.
More help arrived to kill the beasts. I did not want to drag him any further into town with all those creatures. (Not that the creatures were looking anywhere else at all.)
Now that there was a moment to talk to him, we asked him what in the world he had run into … when suddenly there was a ghostly apparition in the room, who called the man by name, Haragh, and told him he must atone, and could not escape. Suddenly the man cackled and told the creature in a challenge to "do your best!"
The story came out in a jumble now, and I am still unsure of the details. There was a murder, evidently. This Haragh thought he was justified. The ghost, obviously, did not think so. And so Haragh was being, dare I say the word, cursed or perhaps haunted, by the ghost until his atonement was sufficient.
The murder seemed to be over a few coppers, nothing else, out on the North Meadow. Haragh was convinced the gods had thrown this displeasure on him. I had no clue what should be done, or should not, let alone what could be done. So we urged him to make things right. Lest the booty of the encounter from protecting him had come under a curse, I returned it all to him instead of sharing it.
I do not know how this will end, but the next time you see someone who is attracting creatures because of their very visible fear, at least you will not be as surprised as I was. I am not sure I did the right thing in defending him up there if he was a murderer. But I am not ready to sit as a judge in in the matter even in hindsight.