For the Holy Hens!
Despite their initial stumbles, the company makes short work of the horde of giant rats and find themselves in a cavern with tunnels leading off in three directions. Before they can formulate a plan, they hear high-pitched voices in the distance shouting in shrieking rage. Unable to determine where the angry cries are coming from, the company splits into three groups, one for each passage.
In each passage, the members of the company find themselves facing skaven and their packs of giant rats. The subsequent skirmishes are bloody and decisive. Pierre surprises everyone by firing a crossbow bolt into the eye of a skaven priest, killing it. Magnus briefly succumbs to the insane bloodlust caused by his magical knife before recovering himself. Sir Henri is swarmed by rats and nearly falls, while Renee is swarmed by rats and nearly loses her hand.
|A Skaven Priest|
At last, the company pushes their way into another cavern, where two skaven priests stand over a crude wooden crate that holds the holy hens of Epernay. Hearing their chant, the company realizes that the priests are in the midst of sacrificing the hens to something called the Horned Rat, in the hopes that it gains the hens’ magical powers.
While the company engages the priests and their summoned rat hordes, Garnier races into the cavern, grabs the crate containing the holy hens, and runs off with it. Moments later, the skaven priests fall to blade, bow, and pistol, and the giant rats flee from the chamber, leaving the company victorious.
A Hero’s Welcome
Battered and bloodied, the company leave the skaven warren and return to Epernay. As they approach the main gates of the town, holy hens in tow, they see a large throng gathered in the road. The people in the crowd point excitedly at them and shout things like, “It’s him,” “he’s here,” “the bravest knight in all the realm!”
The company is taken aback when the crowd rushes toward them—and past them—to a small group of travelers coming up the road. This group includes a powerful looking knight in shining armor, three beautiful ladies on white palfreys, an older woman on a much sturdier horse, and a lute-playing bard riding a donkey.
Sir Henri, who is familiar with heraldry, identifies the approaching knight by his devices. The mystery knight is none other than Sir Thopas, to whom many amazing and improbable deeds are attributed. Sir Henri scoffs quietly once he recognizes the knight, because he also knows that Sir Thopas is both completely self-absorbed and a bit of an idiot.
|The Not Quite Historically Accurate Sir Thopas|