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The many adventures of the Corunglain Free Rifle Company (Rifle in the sense of 'rifle through someone's pockets') which began with four childhood friends leaving Nuln to try to infiltrate the Black Eagle Barony and ended with them having a giant brawl with Rad at the Nucleus of the Spheres which then ate poor Rad. (Much of the party ended up as Glantrian nobility; we started a quest for immortality but it never finished.)

Here's a quote from a short story we started (but admittedly never finished) about the group at an early stage of their careers...

Adventures of the Corunglain Free Rifle Company

by John Walter Biles

It still made Gherman's head hurt.

The lanky mage sat by the fire, cloak wrapped around himself, trying to get warm. He and his companions had ridden through the storm to Shireton - partly because it was dramatic, partly because they had been eager to claim the bounty on the ogre chieftain's head that had resided in Rimmer's saddlebags, but mostly because a small army of ogres, orcs, and even less savoury types had been hot on their heels.

It was unsure whether the ogres wanted to kill them or proclaim them their new chiefs. Either way, riding like hell had seemed to be the best option.

They had been passing themselves off as the Orcs of the Severed Spleen, a band of vicious humanoids. Actually, they were the Darokin mercenary group known as the Corunglain Free Company, deputised by the High Sheriff of the Five Shires to rid the halfling nation of menaces. That had been Rimmer's idea.

What the halflings didn't know was that they were actually an elite patrol of guards from the Black Eagle Barony, an oppressive, aggressive human state to the east of the Shires. They had been sent by the Baron himself to infiltrate and sabotage the halfling military. That had also, to an extent, been Rimmer's idea.

And what the Baron and most of the patrol didn't know was that Gherman, Rimmer, the scout Ivan, and the warrior-priestess Anna were actually agents of the free city of Luln, a community of refugees from the Barony. That had been Rimmer's idea too.

Sometimes Gherman wondered if Rimmer actually was working for someone who'd hired him to infiltrate Luln. It seemed likely, despite the fact that the four had grown up together.

But that wasn't what was making Gherman's head hurt. The halfling busy negotiating with Captain Mikhail and Rimmer was the source of the evil nasty pain.

"You represent who?" the Captain repeated.

"The Shireton Guild of Shrubbers, Gardeners, and Affiliated Trades," the short demi-human said, nervously rubbing rather pudgy hands together. As far as Gherman could tell, halflings seemed to come in two varieties - tough and lean, like Lana, their halfling member, or stout and fat, like this one. "We'd like to hire you."

Gherman whimpered softly and tried very hard not to listen. It was happening again.

Hopefully this time they wouldn't have to work with ogres. Or Jammudaru cultists. Or gnolls. He hated the smell of wet gnoll.


Commander Mikhail nodded affably at the halfling, unfazed. He was a veteran of the Black Eagle's guard, and had the unflappable calm of people who, against their better judgment, kill other people for a living. "Did someone steal shrubs from you or something?"

"Worse. They're stealing all our shrubbers and bush experts. Every hedge in the city is growing out of control, and we can't train apprentices fast enough to replace them. It's not just Shireton; all over the Shire, bands of humans are kidnapping shrubbers and bush masters and their families. They're carrying them off to Thyatis." His voice became indignant. "Off to slavery!"

"Floral warfare," Rimmer deadpanned. "Monstrous."

Commander Mikhail just shuddered, remembering his last clash with Thyatians. That little jaunt had ended with half the patrol fried unconscious, three city blocks levelled in a magical firestorm, and Gherman turned into a rather surprised-looking statue. "We can't fight the entire Thyatian Empire, you know."

"What we need is a hostage we can trade for the slaves. You see, we've identified who the ringmaster of this operation is. He's Senator Niccolo Mockovasti." The halfling - who still hadn't stated his own name, the Captain noted - laid out a poster on the table, showing a well-dressed and fairly dashing looking Thyatian with bronzed skin, green eyes, short black hair, and a neat moustache. "Now, while we can be glad that the Thyatians think our shrubbers are better than theirs, which isn't surprising really, we're not amused by all this kidnapping. I'm prepared to pay you 13,000 gold pieces to go to Thyatis City and kidnap Senator Mockovasti, so we can trade him to get our shrubbers back."

Commander Mikhail glanced over at Rimmer, who was busily smoking some Alfheim's Finest Leaf in his locally-crafted pipe. The one carved to look like a rather well-endowed Thyatian Belly Dancer. It was said to be the only surviving one in the Five Shires, as the Thyatian Ambassador had tracked down and destroyed every last one he could find. It was also said that carrying such a pipe into Thyatis would be as good as signing one's death warrant if the former ambassador ever saw you. He was quite sure Rimmer would therefore want to take this job. Rimmer was like that.

Rimmer said nothing, continuing to smoke.

"You are aware that what you're asking is illegal under both Shire and Thyatian law, and that if we were caught, we would be lucky to be slowly tortured to death. The man is a Senator, after all," Mikhail neutrally said.

The halfling put down a letter with the Sheriff of Seashire's seal prominently displayed. "The Sheriff has authorised this, since the man is committing crimes against the entire Hin nation." Halflings called themselves 'the Hin'; probably because using small units of measurement to refer to one's race is rather hard on the ego.

Captain Mikhail quickly read over the letter. It was essentially a letter of marque... for land operations. Not that this would stop the Thyatians killing them, but...the money was good. The captain's parents had been lucky to clear two or three hundred gold a year back on the farm. It was very, very tempting.

The problem was that his unit was SUPPOSED to be in the Shire in order to infiltrate Fort Rollstone and sabotage the halfling armoury there, in order to weaken halfling border defences. He'd been wondering how his band was supposed to accomplish this when they were all clearly not halflings themselves, but given the wonders they'd pulled off in the past, the Black Eagle Baron and his pet wizard Bargle had probably concluded that Captain Mikhail and Patrol #42 could accomplish anything if they just set their minds to it.

If we pull off this job, they'll trust us a lot more, Mikhail thought, which would make breaking into Fort Rollstone a lot easier later on. On the other hand, given the amount of money they were making in the Shire, he was starting to think about simply defecting from the Black Eagle Barony and really turning the unit into a mercenary company. He was starting to like the Shire, and his work here didn't bother him, the way the assignments back home sometimes did. The Shire didn't need disciplining the way the Black Eagle Barony still did.

"We'll need an expense account," Rimmer said. "Travelling is expensive, and we'll need money for bribes. Some Thyatians are so corrupt that married couples have to bribe each other to get out of bed in the morning."

"And a halfling ship standing by to get us out," Mikhail said. "Because if we don't take him by sea, we'll never get out of Thyatis alive."

"No problem. I'll make the arrangements. Just remember, we need him alive."

"Of course. We're not murderers," Rimmer said. "Well, not unless you pay us extra."

Captain Mikhail made his decision and took the letter of marque. "We'll be ready whenever you are," he said, and started forming ideas for how to best disguise the group's intentions when they arrived in Thyatis. Luckily, the Millennial Celebration would be in progress, and Thyatis would likely be a total madhouse. Not that Thyatis City didn't resemble a lunatic asylum at the best of times.

The halfling smiled. The Captain smiled. Rimmer smiled. Gherman whimpered.