"Welcome, little brothers, to the Cairn. This ancient place was built by the Cairn Spirit Warriors of the past, and from whom we gather our strength," the man said to the boys before him. He was tall, a head more than most of the men of their home villages.

"I am Cairn Guardian Numex and I will teach you our ancient profession. We are the protectors of this ancient grave, defenders against the forces of the Corrupted Ones, keepers of peace, and the only hope people have against the Officials and the Rebels," Numex said while pacing before them, his iron leg clunking along with him. One boy stared and caught Numex's good eye, not to mention the one sewn shut.

"What's yer name, boy?" Numex asked the thin lad as he hauled the boy up by his vest. Not an entirely impressive task considering the boy was rather thin and Numex was rather large. The youth's thin face had not even started to grow fuzz and his eyes were wide.

"Dan Vinard, Cairn Guardian!" the boy said quickly.

"Well, Dan Vinard, I noticed that you noticed my leg. Do you know what happened to my leg, Dan Vinard?" Numex asked him.

"No, Cairn Guardian," Dan Vinard told him. Numex thought that to the boy's credit, his wide eyes were the only indicator that he was afraid. But then again, that's all it would take in battle to kill him.

"It was taken by a Corrupted One known as Fenrir the Wolf-king. The beast attacked from the brush and killed the other Brothers I was with like lightening. He saw fit to toy with me and bit off my leg. The beast gloated and I stabbed him," (he traced a short line with his finger from the jaw to the start of the throat), "My blade made it through the top of the creature's skull."

After that he set the boy down and Dan Vinard quickly went back into line. Numex turned and faced away from the boys and looked deep into the shadows of the night. His leather-clad back had odd shadows play off of it in the firelight. None of the twenty young warriors moved as their superior kept still.

"My eye was taken from me by a frog beastie after I tracked it for a month after it had started hunting children for their soft bits," Numex said softly. He turned back to them, grimmer in appearance, if that was possible. "Any of you who cannot deal with the possibilities of losing limbs, dying, butchering the Corrupt Ones, killing men, or any weaknesses of that sort, leave now and do not return.

Not a one moved from his place.

"There may be hope for you, if you survive."