Beginnings and Webs-Arrondissement Part Sixteen

From the archives of the Coterie du Honor.

Our Chevaliers have fought in many conflicts over time from the Oni Rebellion, the Hunt for Le Barbe Bleue and the ongoing Oil Paint War. While many have fallen, we have never backed down from a challenge.

While our list of foes is extensive, there is one that we have never bested, at least not completely. While we may have won battles, the greater war still continues. They are not warrior nor are they monsters. They do not breath fire, eat children, or possess the other common qualities of monster-hood. But do not be deceived, they are wicked beyond the dreams of the Yaga. Let me tell you of the Coterie’s first brush with these fiends.

Many years ago, the Wandering Chevalier was engaged to escort a scholar, Madame DuFrey, from the Arrondissement to the University of the Zìzhì shì zhèn, which was a journey rife with peril and hazard at that time. At the halfway point of their travels, they stopped at a small hamlet, just before a treacherous mountain pass.

The Wandering Chevalier and Madame DuFrey lodged in the local inn and as is the custom, they shared tales of where they had been and seen. As travelers talked, it was revealed that six of them were headed in the same direction and it was agreed that a group is safer. Amongst those heading East was an eastern Chevalier, though they were called Youxia. This one was called the Dawn Youxia, and she was delighted to meet a distant cousin in arms.

At dawn of the next day, the group set out, and even though a mendicant who had just come through the pass warned them of a vicious herd of Ur-Goats that had been roaming the nearby peaks. The travelers felt having two noble warriors was protection enough.

Several days into the journey a fierce snowstorm arose and forced the travelers to wait till they could continue in a shallow cave. That night, The Wandering Chevalier, who was on watch, found himself overcome by drowsiness and fell into deep slumber but not before he saw two figures exiting the cave.

Fortunately, Dawn Youxia, who had not eaten the stew prepared by on of the party, (she was a strict vegetarian) was awakened by movement and saw two people leave and the Wandering Chevalier crumple to the stone floor. Using herbal oil that her order used to keep alert, she was able to rouse her fellow warrior.

Together, they ventured out into the icy maelstrom. Not much time was lost so the footprints were easy to follow. They lead to a cliff’s edge where Madame Du Frey lay unmoving while a figure quickly riffled through her pack, searching her papers. This figure was the first recorded encounter with the Spinners, though neither the Wandering Chevalier or Dawn Youxia knew it at the time.

This person was a member of their party but he was so unremarkable that no one had thought to question who he was or where he was going. He slipped into the crowd without a question. Their ability for anonymity is their greatest weapon, as we would find out.

The Spinner would not surrender so blades were drawn and they fought. While their foe was no soldier he fought with desperation and an absence of chivalry. Employing low tactics, he took the life of the Wandering Chevalier.

Dawn Youxia revived Madame DuFrey, who was merely drugged, and brought both her and the Wandering Chevalier’s body back to the cave. She swore an oath to see both the scholar to her destination and cousin in battle back to his home, where he could be laid to rest in honor.

The body of the Spinner was left to freeze in the mountain, as befitted a criminal. He had no papers or anything else of interest on his person save two things. A vial of sleeping draught used to disable his victims and a brass medallion that at first glance appeared to be a stylized floret but upon closer examination showed a spider, hiding.

Dawn Youxia indeed fulfilled her vow, delivering Madame DuFrey to her destination and bringing the Wandering Chevalier to the Arrondissement to be buried next to his sisters and brothers. It also helped establish the alliance between the noble orders in the grand districts.

Over time, the Coterie du Honor has continued to fight with the Spinners, sometimes victorious, but not always. They are the epitome of a dishonorable foe. They manipulate others to do their bidding, with little or no care as to their safety. If they are lucky, such pawns are abandoned once their tasks are done, others are disposed of like vermin.

So what do they want? It is unknown. They collect ancient texts, kidnap academics, steal seemingly worthless artifacts and leave riches untouched. What they ultimately desire seems indecipherable. There is no pattern we can see.

The Thoughtful Chevalier once said, “It is as if they are weaving a vast tapestry, but of what and to what end, it is impossible to say. They are, like their emblem, spinning a web that we cannot see.” Thus, we have named them the Spinners.

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