A full day after her horse was stolen out from under her, Imperial Guard Jacey limped into the barracks on the outer rim of Kavden, a large town that sat amongst rich farmlands. The heels of both her feet were a mass of blisters from stomping along in the heavy metal overshoes and her mood was at an all time low. She was twelve hours late back from patrol and she knew her pay would be docked if she did not have a very good excuse for her prolonged absence. The combination of physical discomfort and potential punitive action saw her sidling in the main gate and doing her best to shuffle into the sleeping quarters before she was spotted.
Her attempts to sneak into her quarters without being seen failed. Captain Nelson spied her immediately and came barreling forward, his silver and gold armor shining so brightly she could see her own sorry face reflected in it. “Soldier! Where is your mount?”
Jacey snapped to attention with a salute. “It was stolen, sir.”
“Stolen? How?” The captain was a large, imposing man with more scars than hair on his head and a great ginger beard plaited into three thick strands that hung from his mighty jaw. He folded his arms over his chest and glowered down at her. Jacey saw her life flash in front of her eyes. She had to make this good or her ass would be grass.
“I was attempting to apprehend a…” Jacey paused. She had been about to say a vagabond, but she would be a laughing stock if the rest of the guards found out that she had been bested by a beggar. “Dangerous criminal,” she said instead.
“Oh?” The captain tilted his head slightly. He was listening.
“Yes!” She left the affirmative response hanging between them, hoping it would be enough. It wasn’t, of course.
With a long sigh, the captain prompted her further. “What crimes had he committed?”
“She. She had committed the very worst crimes!,” Jacey glanced about wildly as she tried to think of a terrible crime. “She had killed a nun and stolen her cowl,” she lied dramatically.
The captain’s eyes lit up with rage. “She killed a nun?”
“She slayed her whilst she was on her knees offering up prayers for sick orphans.” Jacey did not wonder if she was perhaps laying it on a little too thickly because she was not the sort of person to indulge in that kind of reflection. “And she set fire to the convent to boot!”
That made the captain frown. “Fire to the convent? Which convent? We have not had reports of fire.”
“The little convent at Westfell,” Jacey thought quickly and named the most remote town that could conceivably be considered in their jurisdiction. “Reports have not spread widely because she slayed all the witnesses. She only confessed whilst I was grappling with her.”
The captain stroked his beard thoughtfully. “A strange sort of criminal that confesses her crimes in the midst of an arrest.”
“She was taunting me with them, sir,” Jacey said, really getting into the flow of her own narrative. “She said that I would be next, that she would slay me in my sleep and drink my blood.”
The captain shuddered. There was a sect, the Akvari sect who believed that there was power in the blood of their enemies. They had a fearsome reputation for killing all who stood in their way. If the captain had been doubtful at the outset, he was doubtful no longer. “This woman who stole your horse is a murderer of the most foul kind,” he boomed. “She must be apprehended immediately! By what name is she known?”
“Yes, her crimes are atrocious,” the captain agreed wholeheartedly. “What is her name?
“Her name is Atrocious.”
“Never mind whether it is a nice name or not, tell me it.”
“Sir, her name is Atrocious.”
After several more minutes of back and forth in much the same vein, it was eventually understood by both parties that the name of the nun slaying, horse stealing, convent burning, mass murdering criminal was Atrocious. The worthy Captain set forth to issue an arrest warrant for the woman and Jacey was spared the docking of her pay, after all, what could one Imperial Guard hope to do against the machinations of such a vile and violent creature?