Umbragen

Slavathras of the Deadlands's page

103 posts. Alias of Sebecloki.


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"Incoming!

The elf shrieks as another large force of the lumbering fungus men joins the melee, descending from another chamber in the cavern complex to the shadow-strewn, and moss-enshrouded western side of the cyclopean space.

Pasted the additional myceloids into the battle map. Let's try to get everything set up. I pasted in Itko and Taalik. The map is getting pretty crowded, so we need to know where everyone is, because OOP and such are going to become an issue soon.


Rokan the Ascetic wrote:
Better yet, from all of your storied alliances, if you could draw reinforcements to match Hamza's, perhaps we could come out of this relatively ready to return to original goals. Anything to speed this along. Rokan joins in taunting the elf, but as usual towards his own goals.

The peculiar runner simply sniffs in a mixture of irritation and disgust.


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Slavathras of the Deadlands wrote:
Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Itko Boranchakara wrote:
Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Itko Boranchakara wrote:
Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Tyren, fascinated by the suggestion that the grotto was both alive and maintained its intercontinental network via romance, at once stepped toward Itko. "When you say it is wooing the world...Do you suggest, then, that this world has full agency over the space around it? Is it as though the air which we breath is like an appendage, with which it can move things about as it wills?"
"The planet upon which we all endeavor to sustain our lives, such as they are, is itself a living thing, a female presence whose thinking and speaking faculties are contained within the endless crystalline nodes that penetrate the inner spaces of Athas. These are connected by ley lines which run between the endless forest of spires which emanate from the great geodesic moon which occupies the center of the planet. This is the 'brain' of Athas, and the winds which you reference are its breath."

"I see...I see. I must endeavor, then, to study the language of Athas. It is not only fascinating, I believe, but right to know the language of the one to which I entrust all my charges."

But while he was ruminating on these words, he noted that Hamza, their enigmatic master of shadows--the one with courage, that is--Had already opened a portal to his home-realm and returned. He waited expectantly. "I suppose I ought to have mentioned this earlier, but...If this is a tomb, no? That contains corpses? I'm no fan of desecrating the bodies of the dead--indeed, it's the opposite of my occupation--But if our needs are dire, I can request of the dead their assistance in eliminating this threat."

"Well, since our presumptive foe, the kreen wraith Kchac'Thraa, is itself a member of the living dead, and a master of their kind, I am doubtful whether your proposition is a winning strategy.
...

The weird elf chuckles derisively,

"And we don't imagine this immortal worthy might have considered this very obvious plan, do we clever one?"


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Itko Boranchakara wrote:
Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Itko Boranchakara wrote:
Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Tyren, fascinated by the suggestion that the grotto was both alive and maintained its intercontinental network via romance, at once stepped toward Itko. "When you say it is wooing the world...Do you suggest, then, that this world has full agency over the space around it? Is it as though the air which we breath is like an appendage, with which it can move things about as it wills?"
"The planet upon which we all endeavor to sustain our lives, such as they are, is itself a living thing, a female presence whose thinking and speaking faculties are contained within the endless crystalline nodes that penetrate the inner spaces of Athas. These are connected by ley lines which run between the endless forest of spires which emanate from the great geodesic moon which occupies the center of the planet. This is the 'brain' of Athas, and the winds which you reference are its breath."

"I see...I see. I must endeavor, then, to study the language of Athas. It is not only fascinating, I believe, but right to know the language of the one to which I entrust all my charges."

But while he was ruminating on these words, he noted that Hamza, their enigmatic master of shadows--the one with courage, that is--Had already opened a portal to his home-realm and returned. He waited expectantly. "I suppose I ought to have mentioned this earlier, but...If this is a tomb, no? That contains corpses? I'm no fan of desecrating the bodies of the dead--indeed, it's the opposite of my occupation--But if our needs are dire, I can request of the dead their assistance in eliminating this threat."

"Well, since our presumptive foe, the kreen wraith Kchac'Thraa, is itself a member of the living dead, and a master of their kind, I am doubtful whether your proposition is a winning strategy. Would the dark one not simply seize control of your undead servants and turn
...

"That raises an excellent question -- what is our plan of attack? Remember, I'm not leading from the front!"


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Itko Boranchakara wrote:
Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Itko Boranchakara wrote:
Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Tyren, fascinated by the suggestion that the grotto was both alive and maintained its intercontinental network via romance, at once stepped toward Itko. "When you say it is wooing the world...Do you suggest, then, that this world has full agency over the space around it? Is it as though the air which we breath is like an appendage, with which it can move things about as it wills?"
"The planet upon which we all endeavor to sustain our lives, such as they are, is itself a living thing, a female presence whose thinking and speaking faculties are contained within the endless crystalline nodes that penetrate the inner spaces of Athas. These are connected by ley lines which run between the endless forest of spires which emanate from the great geodesic moon which occupies the center of the planet. This is the 'brain' of Athas, and the winds which you reference are its breath."

"I see...I see. I must endeavor, then, to study the language of Athas. It is not only fascinating, I believe, but right to know the language of the one to which I entrust all my charges."

But while he was ruminating on these words, he noted that Hamza, their enigmatic master of shadows--the one with courage, that is--Had already opened a portal to his home-realm and returned. He waited expectantly. "I suppose I ought to have mentioned this earlier, but...If this is a tomb, no? That contains corpses? I'm no fan of desecrating the bodies of the dead--indeed, it's the opposite of my occupation--But if our needs are dire, I can request of the dead their assistance in eliminating this threat."

"Well, since our presumptive foe, the kreen wraith Kchac'Thraa, is itself a member of the living dead, and a master of their kind, I am doubtful whether your proposition is a winning strategy. Would the dark one not simply seize control of your undead servants and turn
...


Hamza Mīnakshi wrote:
Turning to Rokan, Hamza replies "I am unsure how long I will be, though it should not take too much time. And while there is always a chance something could wrong, I do not foresee any complications. I am going home after all."

The elf just nods, smiling sublimely,

"Then, by all means, please be about your task! The dread demesne of our mutual foes awaits!"


"And I as well!"

The peculiar elf with his peculiar spine-laden armor fixes an expectant gaze on Hamza.


Amunet-Ra wrote:

Amunet-Ra plants her feet firmly on the ground in a broad stand, cradling her crystalline tooth like sword like a baby in her arms, her eyes sparkling with displeasure.

Interesting news you have there, cowardly crouching in the shadows,a name better suited to you. Maybe someone whispered to many #
Stolen secrets into the hyenas ears? But just because some great warriors died in battle my tribe won't falter. We're still under the same hill, which is our territory, so you will trade with us and pay customs. As it is rightful tradition. You city dwellers always think only those perched inside some walls have rights.

Slavathras frowns at Amunet-Ra,

"Well, my tribe do not dwell within city-walls, and I agree with the estimation of the druid as to your people's claims in regards to this remarkable interplanetary cynosure."


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:
Aah, okay, cool. That'll be a fun revelation for Tyren later.Tyren snorted, "Too far in my suspicions, you say. We live in Athas, friend. There is no such thing." He frowned, "Well, strictly speaking, if it's a temporary portal, I can't complain too terribly much. It's not as though we're allowing permanent access for anyone who should discover the portal's existence."

"I must confess, though, that the fabled City of the Seven Shadows is amongst those legendary locales of our tortured planet that I have long yearned, though not been able, to visit personally. Perhaps our desperate circumstances present a unique opportunity for a traveler such as myself."


Taalik Amun BrahmanaŚauca wrote:
Amunet-Ra wrote:
Since this is officialy Serpent Singers territory, you would have to offer something to my tribe in the first place.
"I find myself in the somewhat surprising situation of concurring with our estimable bardic associate. Maybe it's impolite to notice that even the traditional confines of your tribe's territories are not uncontested -- consider, for example the feral tribes of Sand Trawlers that contest the Serpent Singer's rule of the Iridescent Desert. In any event, this grotto is not clearly within the boundaries of your tribe's territories, and I fail to see its self-evident claim within the context of the present negotiations being conducted vis a vis its present serpentine caretakers and their druidic ward."

"Aye, and upon my last visitation to your illustrious shrine, I rather vividly recollect a pitched battle which transpired between these very same Sand Trawlers and the arrayed forces of your tribe. As I recollect the event, several of the Dreadseers fell in pitched battle with the besieging army. The great hoofed hyenas, the aendrusɑrkeses, of the Sand Trawler raiders tore several of your noble warriors limb from limb."


Amunet-Ra wrote:
Since this is officialy Serpent Singers territory, you would have to offer something to my tribe in the first place.

"Your venerable tribe has long laid claim to the Iridescent Desert and the slopes of the Rainbow Rise to the west of the Kalidnay ruins. However, as we now find ourselves within this curious intra-dimensional demiplane, I am not sure how that stricture applies."


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:

Tyren watched in bafflement as they debated an entirely fictitious story designed for the sole purpose of giving the ritual contract they bound one-another to power. "And what exactly makes you think making up fictional events about a group of people who technically did exist, but never did half the things anyone here mentioned, was a particularly good idea?" He looked to Slavathras, "We don't need your help. You've already given us our best tool for overcoming the Wraith. You can go hide in shadow and wait for us to defeat the Defiler."

He then looks to Hamza, "--But I agree with the Druid as well. I'd be hesitant to open a portal directly to the City of Seven Shadows. It seems, in my opinion, a steep enough price all its' own. I'm of the opinion we likely have enough manpower among ourselves to fight these creatures."

Just to be clear, none of the Twelve Champions existed, but all the other stuff is real -- there is a city-state of Celik and so forth, and all the tribes and other sites described exist. The Twelve Champions are tulpas like slender man that were conjured by the ritual. Thus, their actions are controlled by the stories told about them, so both Slavathras and the two druids are manipulating them by retelling the story -- their existence and intentions are based on consensus imagination, so currently the druids are overriding Slavathras because they've discerned this fact. However, all the other characters could weigh in against them in the opposite direction and shift the balance.

The elf effects of look of shock and outrage,

"What do you mean 'fictional events'? Do you not behold the shadows of the very heroes to which I have referred? Surely, you go too far in your suspicions, Tyren of the Free-City of Tyr."


Hamza Mīnakshi wrote:

Hamza turns to address Ito is it Ito or Itko? "You are correct, I am a noble merchant, but I am also a noble and a merchant. As I mentioned before, what I propose is an alliance between House Mīnakshi, yourself and your noble charges. Mīnakshi is one of most ancient of all of the houses within Alaka, also known as Che'el de' Barra Velg'larns or the City of Shadow Assassins. Along with a few other noble families, Mīnakshi helped found Alaka and to this day, is considered one of the more preeminent Houses. We are indeed merchants, but our other title is Lil' Su'aco xor Nindyn Vel'uss Venorsh M'elzaren. Which translates into The Wind, or Those Who Silence Defilers in Olathooble or Shadowtongue. We are assassins who specialize in killing mages who dare use the profane arts known as defiling." He calls forth his shadowy kama, which all those present note is dark red in color. "This is Vlossu'aco or Bloodwind, the ancestral weapon of Mīnakshi, and my badge of office. I am the Nizzre' Senger or Lightning Lord, one of four lieutenants of The Wind."

He pauses, letting these revelations sink in. "Here is my offer. I can open a portal to The Black, to Alaka. I will petition Zhennuilharn Arshes or Grandfather Thunder, leader of the Wind, to lend us a contingent of assassins to help us destroy Kchac'Thraa. In return, you grant House Mīnakshi access to the network of portals here, so that we may more swiftly carry our missions of death."

Slavathras of the Thought Makers sniffs contemptuously,

"And what exactly makes you sure either that this request will be granted, or that it will prove decisive in our impending melee with Kchac'Thraa the Inimitable? I, for one, share the druid's concern in opening a portal to the City of Seven Shadows."


Itko Boranchakara wrote:
Taalik Amun BrahmanaŚauca wrote:
Hamza Mīnakshi wrote:

Hamza listens with interest to Slavathras story, as he enjoyed a good tale. When it is over, he begins to reply, then pauses as first Taalik then Ito and finally Amunet take the storyteller to task. Something he was going to do himself.

Chuckling loudly, he finally responds "I think it is just that, a tale. It would seem you have one ready at a moment's notice, almost as if you are trying to manipulate us into doing what you want. But, I will tell you this, most of our number believes we should defeat Kchac'Thraa here and now. Which means, in your version of this story, you and Rokan play the role of Three Fangs, potentially going off on your own and breaking away from our company. If that is your decision, I will not stop you, and I will do my best to recover your remains. Though, I am unsure if any among us have the divine prowess to bring you back to life."

"Actually, friend Hamza," begins Taalik, cordially, but firmly, "I believe you have directly reversed the signification of the elf's tale to our current predicament. Three Fangs, like you, is a warrior who wishes to dispel a current threat, and Fleet Hands is a loquacious petty conjurer of the same sort as a our esteemed minstrel, who wishes instead to continue along towards the original goal of our compact."

"For you see, in the way that Slavathras told the tale, it was intended to warn against you departing to defeat the wraith, while the manner in which Ito and myself have conveyed the narrative teaches exactly the opposite deduction."

Ito smiles in clear agreement with his druid brother, and watches eagerly for Slavathras' reaction.

The native of Yaramuke reveals an even larger grin as a collection of a dozen ethereal figures suddenly collects around the elf.

They appear to consist of: a sage with a cowl whose face is mostly hidden by the garment's deep folds -- its high precipice tips slightly at the summit, in profile...

Slavathras looks with daggers before grinning with a maniacal rictus,

"Actually, my evergreen friends, I believe it is you who are mistaken. For my account of the death and second life of Three Fangs the Trackless is drawn directly from the shard of the Broken Tablet which I have already presented unto our impromptu sodality, and which was inscribed by the pen of Fleet Hands directly following the aforementioned events."

He proffers the shattered cuneiform envelope once gain to the view of all assembled,

"It would seem, then, that the records upon which you are dependent are in error, and result from the attempt of the others of the Twelve Champions of Celik to gainsay the advice of Fleet Hands which preserved their compact life and limb in totality so that they arrived whole at the menhirs which buttressed the trophy-bedecked gates of high-walled Oscalgarum."

As Slavathras completes his retort, the dozen wraith-like images slowly turn and approach Taalik and Ito.


Sebecloki wrote:
Taalik Amun BrahmanaŚauca wrote:
Slavathras of the Deadlands wrote:

"And thus is came to pass that the grim scout and the loquacious illusionist persisted in their contention whist the rest of the Twelve Champions of Celik looked on in consternation and uncertainty -- in which way should their fellowship walk? In a moment further, Three Fangs had apparently lost his patience, though not his placid composure. And so the dolorous tracker gathered his mottled cloak about himself and began to follow the trail of the the Jarchi'Jaruud Adarginkhagan berserkers, a fairly un-difficult task considering the immense impressions left by the passage of the half-tarek raiders' monstrous one-eyed pachyderm steeds."

""Yay, see how it comes to be for thee!"" called Fleet Hands after the scout. "We shall see what comes of it, I am sure!" Unable to reach a resolution, the remainder of the Twelve Champions continued along the Yellow Road, until the sun had descended, and they set about camp while the two moons hung in the sky above them. Still, Three Fangs had not returned, but still the assailants of the Urikite caravan had not appeared again to trouble the journey of the Twelve Champions of Celik to high-walled Oscalgarum and its storied orchards of white apples."

"Gathered around the flickering illumination offered by their campfire, Gray Cowl suddenly assumed a grim visage."

"Quickly taking notice, Fleet Hands inquired, "He hath met a unkind, has he not?" and the gray-cloaked sage simply nodded solemnly in reply. As before, the mum scribe filled the empty space between the companions with remarkable depictions of recent events. They beheld Three Fangs carefully approaching the haphazard camp site of the Jarchi'Jaruud Adarginkhagan, where the half-breed tarek had spitted the survivors of the Urikite caravan in preparation for the evening repast. The gruesome odor of burning flesh seemed to waft from the curious nighttime mirage which had been conjured by the

...

The elf simply grimaces furiously at the druids, his mouth set and Slavathras' eyes blazing with an undeniable fire.


"And thus is came to pass that the grim scout and the loquacious illusionist persisted in their contention whist the rest of the Twelve Champions of Celik looked on in consternation and uncertainty -- in which way should their fellowship walk? In a moment further, Three Fangs had apparently lost his patience, though not his placid composure. And so the dolorous tracker gathered his mottled cloak about himself and began to follow the trail of the the Jarchi'Jaruud Adarginkhagan berserkers, a fairly un-difficult task considering the immense impressions left by the passage of the half-tarek raiders' monstrous one-eyed pachyderm steeds."

""Yay, see how it comes to be for thee!"" called Fleet Hands after the scout. "We shall see what comes of it, I am sure!" Unable to reach a resolution, the remainder of the Twelve Champions continued along the Yellow Road, until the sun had descended, and they set about camp while the two moons hung in the sky above them. Still, Three Fangs had not returned, but still the assailants of the Urikite caravan had not appeared again to trouble the journey of the Twelve Champions of Celik to high-walled Oscalgarum and its storied orchards of white apples."

"Gathered around the flickering illumination offered by their campfire, Gray Cowl suddenly assumed a grim visage."

"Quickly taking notice, Fleet Hands inquired, "He hath met a unkind, has he not?" and the gray-cloaked sage simply nodded solemnly in reply. As before, the mum scribe filled the empty space between the companions with remarkable depictions of recent events. They beheld Three Fangs carefully approaching the haphazard camp site of the Jarchi'Jaruud Adarginkhagan, where the half-breed tarek had spitted the survivors of the Urikite caravan in preparation for the evening repast. The gruesome odor of burning flesh seemed to waft from the curious nighttime mirage which had been conjured by the un-speaking sorcerer. Then, the scout set about besieging the half dozen or so berserkers then watching their place of rest. He enjoyed immediate, bloody success, for Three Fangs quickly dispatched four of the Jarchi'Jaruud Adarginkhagan savages with a blinding blizzard of swirling blades. Their hot blood stained the sand and steamed ominously in the heat of the late afternoon torpor. Then, the victory of the tracker was arrested by the arrival of the savages' witch doctor, so identified by the great skull which the shaman wore as a sign of his office, but more so by the strange servitor entities which circled its person. In a moment, the chanting cantor had immobilized the scout, leaving him easy prey for the remaining berserkers. The scene vanished as one of the cycloptic elephantaurs gored the tracked through the chest with an array of tusks sharper and stronger than knives..."

""And that," said Fleet Hands the exiled court jester of Celik, "is just how I had imagined the matter, and what should transpire." He said nothing for a moment. Then he offered, "luckily, I am apprised of certain reserved lore gathered from the traditions of Kalidnay, on the far side of the Yellow Road, and we may yet restore our associate. We should, I imagine, retrieve his surviving remains with all due haste on the morrow -- the Jarchi'Jaruud Adarginkhagan shall have consumed most, but not all, and but a lock of hair, or a scrap of skin shall suffice for our purposes.""

Slavathras then turns to Hamza and Rokan,

"And so that is the story of how Three Fangs came to be among the dead, and yet walked again among the living. What think you of this further tale of the Twelve Champions of Celik?"

He smiles expectantly, letting show some of this wicked incisors.


Slavathras sighs languidly, thereby effecting to his audience the convincing representation of a feral hunting cat. He then continues the narration,

"But I digress, for you see, first among the camp of the Twelve Champions of Celik who wished to pursue the mysterious assailants of the Urikite caravan was the inimitable tracker known as Three Fangs. This enigmatic son of the lonely hills which surrounded Celik was famed for the inhuman speed of his hands, which allowed him to wield three scimitars in battle, while possessing only two sets of fingers which which to grasp them."

"Long had his wont been to accompany caravans along the Yellow Road which leads from the confines of Celik's Court of Submission to the Canopic gates of Kalidnay -- the Gates of the Baboon, the Gate of the Jackal, the Gate of the Falcon, and the Gate of Man. Thus, we wished to see the nature and end of the mysterious assailants of the Bridge of Kohljaeger, known as either Brückesteg Kohljäger or Köprüg Khövsgöl depending on the tribal language under consideration."

"And so Three Fangs set about calming the plaintive cries of the Urikite breathing wagon, the narkabtum baltumbintunapistum, and attempted to deduce from its memories the nature of its company's assailants."

"However, Fleet Hands, a master of prestidigitation who had been banished from his former imperial patron's presence for indecorous comments made about the physical equipage of Sulṭāna's ninth paramour, objected furiously to the tracker's endeavor."

""Yea, I see,"" he offered, "neither the white apples nor the ringing walls of storied Oscalgarum, and yet we have tarried herein on this man-less bridge fording and empty gulch. Let us be gone, and quickly, that the oath might be fulfilled.""

"But Three Fangs simply scoffed at the beguilers protestations. "Friend, think you that those who cut down these travelers of the Red City shall leave us in peace? Nay, we must seek them out before they find our necks. In no wise shall we pass the Yellow Road in peace, or arrive at the gates which shield the white apples of our troth, but that we set about the hunt for those who dared this savage deed."

"Gray Cowl the silent then began to fill the hot air of the steppe in the mid afternoon heat with shimmering images blazoned upon naught but wind and the absence of its passage. The signs depicted a band of savage halfbreed-tarek desert tribesmen and their cycloptic elephantaur steeds assaulting the Urikite caravan. The latter's guardsmen, even equipped with the remarkable godbeast armor and armament for which the Red City was famed throughout the Tablelands, were unable to overcome the nomadic assailants. The brigands descended upon the company and their mounts gored and savaged the breathing wagon of the Urikites."

""Yes indeed master scribe," intoned Three Fangs solemnly, "I had divined as much from the bleating beast that lies here before my eyes and under my hands." The tracker set his pair of customarily-reserved lips determinedly, daring further contest to his intention. "The caravan fell to the Jarchi'Jaruud Adarginkhagan, a vicious tribe of the Oğuz Ozjolaji horse archers that has interbred with the tarek of the wastes, and cultivated fell beasts such as the cycloptic elephantaurs to do their bidding. Rest assured, they shall not halt their depredations of the Yellow Road at this one outrage, nor is it certain they have not already compassed us within their hungry gaze.""


Taalik Amun BrahmanaŚauca wrote:
Slavathras of the Deadlands wrote:

The mysterious elf reclines his head slightly,

"Ah, but this little dilemma calls to mind the misadventures of the legendary sodality upon which we shall all sworn our oaths."

Just to remind you of the story, in case the details got hazy:

Quote:

"Come ye seekers far and near, and hear a tale of the days of yore, before the sun turned red and the wide blue oceans silted over, in the distant Green Age of the world."

"In that time, the great city of Celik stood on the shores of the Dragon's Tongue, the highest and finest jewel of the Estuary's southern arm."

"In those days, Celik was ruled by the Sulṭāna Esmeray Khuban, a powerful seer. The eldest daughter of a savage horse warrior chief who had conquered the teeming city, she aided her sire's conquest through her spectacular visionary abilities before assuming the mantle of kingship upon his death."

"A long trade route, called the Golden or Yellow Road, now forgotten and unused, connected the bustling markets of Celik with other city-states whose names remain on the tongues of living men, such as Kalidnay, Balic, and Yaramuke, and others who do not, such as Angara and Kük Török. The Yellow Road reached well beyond the Tablelands, all the way to the dominions of the Kreen Empire, as well as many lands beyond."

"Blue agate and peerless sapphire and ocean-hued jade and other exotic stones came to Celik from the distant mountain climes of Tantanistān, while groaning black behemoths, the siksinááttsiwa, whose mighty roars it is said that could silence armies arrived from the sweeping reaches and fetid swamps of Ko'komíki'somma -- the Plains of the Moon."

"And so the treasures of the world poured into Celik, and were presented at the Court of Submission. This was the title given to the grand portico of the Sulṭāna Esmeray's Gilded House, a great palace set at the gates of the city where envoys from foreign lands could present their wares personally to the ruler or

...

"Well, they were originally herd beasts of the Ùĝsaĝgígga plains peoples, before the great open reaches of their homeland, the Maasai Mara, was devastated by the cataclysm that produced the Haljōhjärta. These Ùĝsaĝgígga were enslaved by the Galzu people of Urik, along with their beasts of burden... but I digress..."

"The Twelve Champions of Celik were divided by their varied desires. Some wanted to punish the perpetrators of the ambush, while others wished to pass over the Bridge of Kohljaegar without further delay."


The mysterious elf reclines his head slightly,

"Ah, but this little dilemma calls to mind the misadventures of the legendary sodality upon which we shall all sworn our oaths."

Just to remind you of the story, in case the details got hazy:

Quote:

"Come ye seekers far and near, and hear a tale of the days of yore, before the sun turned red and the wide blue oceans silted over, in the distant Green Age of the world."

"In that time, the great city of Celik stood on the shores of the Dragon's Tongue, the highest and finest jewel of the Estuary's southern arm."

"In those days, Celik was ruled by the Sulṭāna Esmeray Khuban, a powerful seer. The eldest daughter of a savage horse warrior chief who had conquered the teeming city, she aided her sire's conquest through her spectacular visionary abilities before assuming the mantle of kingship upon his death."

"A long trade route, called the Golden or Yellow Road, now forgotten and unused, connected the bustling markets of Celik with other city-states whose names remain on the tongues of living men, such as Kalidnay, Balic, and Yaramuke, and others who do not, such as Angara and Kük Török. The Yellow Road reached well beyond the Tablelands, all the way to the dominions of the Kreen Empire, as well as many lands beyond."

"Blue agate and peerless sapphire and ocean-hued jade and other exotic stones came to Celik from the distant mountain climes of Tantanistān, while groaning black behemoths, the siksinááttsiwa, whose mighty roars it is said that could silence armies arrived from the sweeping reaches and fetid swamps of Ko'komíki'somma -- the Plains of the Moon."

"And so the treasures of the world poured into Celik, and were presented at the Court of Submission. This was the title given to the grand portico of the Sulṭāna Esmeray's Gilded House, a great palace set at the gates of the city where envoys from foreign lands could present their wares personally to the ruler or her representatives."

"One day, a haggard messenger strode into the Court of Submission..."

The elf rolls his opaque pupils in a slightly unnerving cascade, effecting an expression of at once crazed ecstasy and exasperation, the latter as if to say that clearly wasn't a major plot point you insufferable dolt."

Slavathras, also known as Silan Tilak, of the Clan of the Thoughtmakers continues his narrative,

"Know, oh my hearers, that in those days the armies of Kalidnay and Celik strove one against the other and mightily for power over the riches of the Yellow Road. Their clashes were many, and those remembered were twelve, the last of which was the stories battle of Qeteš Gitai. Here, the Scarab and Scorpion Legions of the Pharaoh Amenhersemif Tuau of Kalidnay, their hardened warriors fighting astride the lumbering great scarabs whose size exceeded that of an elephant, clashed with the cannonade of the Sulṭāna Esmeray Khuban's father, the Kakaɣan Yagmur Khuban. The latter's cohorts of mechanically adept Yeñiçeri inflicted devastating losses on the Kalidnayan legions even as their great siege weapons and redoubtable brothers at arms were torn apart by the Pharaoh Amenhersemif Tuau's seemingly endless forces. The two great armies fought to a stalemate, and resolved to do so no more, and erected a monumental stela to commemorate the both the Battle and the Pact of Qeteš Gitai. The two rulers resolved to offer tribute one to the other at the Harvest Moon every other year to renew the peace between the cities, and forestall the further shedding of blood."

"The messenger, according to his proclamation, had journeyed from the 'king' of Oscalgarum, a large town on the Yellow Road between Kalidnay and Celik famed for its seemingly ever blooming orchards of white apples."

"The domain of King Tarranat, the messenger explained, and in particular the hill fortress of Skeltarlim from which the orchards of white apples were surveyed, had been violated by the forces of the exiled king's son Gelboras, who had been cast out for a plot against the life of his father and older brother Osaridus."

"And so the messenger, having relayed his message to the Sulṭāna's representative in the Court of Submission, presented also the cracked tablet upon which the King Tarranat of Oscalgarum had ordered his request for aid to be inscribed to Esmeray Khuban, the ruler of Celik. In the course of his travels, the clay tablet and its envelope had been sundered by the assault of wild Oğuz Ozjolaji horse archers, a savage remnant of the Qirgünqüq Qazaqliq horde that had refused to take up permanent residence in their people's new possession of Celik."

"The emissary of the Sulṭāna observed the epistolary artifact and issued a summons to the divers peoples present in the Court of Submission, merchants, mercenaries, slavers, bounty hunters, vagabonds, minstrels, bankers, scouts, sages, and many, many others. To those that would take up the cause of King Tarranat on behalf of the Sulṭāna, they would be rewarded with a portion of Kalidnay's tribute, soon to arrive at the Harvest Moon. The ruler of Celik was inclined to offer aid, in the expectation that the greater part of the bounty garnered from the splendid white apples of Oscalgarum should be deposited in her own coffers. However, she was unable to send her own forces, lest the Pharaoh Nathifa Nes-maut Tuau, daughter of Amenhersemif Tuau, should view such as a violation of the venerable pact between her own royal father and that of the Sulṭāna."

"To the emissary's call, twelve answered, whose names are forgotten, but whose titles remain,"

"Storm Cloud, the great archer of the Niitsitapisiksikaitsitapi, who rode one of the bellowing black beasts known as the siksinááttsiwasuiáhkyaiyoa, and carried a bow that could launch a hundred arrows in one volley."

"Fleet Hands, a banished entertainer of the Sulṭāna, driven from the palace for indecorous comments regarding the ruler's husband."

"Grey Cowl the Silent, a master of the arcane arts, tutored by a sage of Celik after he was caught pilfering food from the master's tower. Though he was mute by birth, yet his numerous writings made great his fame."

"Sun Fear, the handmaiden of the blazing eye of heaven. She married the fiery miracles of her mystical rapport with the Elemental Stronghold of the Sun to the cool death issued by her twin hand cannons."

"Death Talon the assassin, a man said to be 'without a face' who lived half his life as a shadow. His was among the highest sought contract among the disputing nobles of Celik."

"Red Tusk the gladiator, a brutal man reputed to enjoy tarek blood in his veins. He was among the greatest champions of Celik's storied arena."

The healer known either as Basalm or Venom Kiss, the apothecary to the Sulṭāna's vizier, who was on occasion also an assassin."

"Three Fangs the tracker, whose blinding speed permitted him to wield three scimitars with two hands. He often escorted caravans on the Yellow Road."

"Whisper, the public identity of a mysterious masked man who represented a strange artisanal cult that venerated occult images of the deceased Qirgünqüq Qazaqliq Kakaɣans."

"Skullsnapper the pugilist, a famed brawler reputed to enjoy the advantages of troll blood who left a life of tavern combat to pursue a higher path as a concubine of the Sulṭāna's Great Harem."

"Shivers, a master of the mental arts who had perfected the installment of terror."

"And last, but not least, a traveler from the distant Kreen Empire known as the Rune Teacher, a tohr-kreen whose chitin was inscribed with elaborate tattoos, all of which produced remarkable effects."

"The Sulṭāna's emissary gathered Storm Cloud, Fleet Hands, Grey Cowl, Sun Fear, Death Talon, Red Tusk, Basalm, Three Fangs, Whisper, Skull Snapper, Shivers, and Rune Teacher in a circle around the broken tablet of the messenger from Oscalgarum."

"He spoke to them as follows:

"You are bound not by the will of the Celik's ruler, who cannot partake in this task herself, lest the Pharaoh of Kalidnay take umbrage and the Pact of Qeteš Gitai be thereby abrogated, but solely one to another in this endeavor."

"Therefore, you shall swear one to another upon this talisman -- never shall you break your fellowship as like the sundering of this tablet, lest you yourself shall suffer the same penalty. You must alone be loyal to one another and your task, not to kings, or queens, or creeds, or any other powers."

"And so the Twelve Champions swore, one to another, on the shattered tablet of the messenger of Oscalgarum. That so they should be rent themselves if they should break their troth to their fellows."

"Verily, it has come unto my hearing that, whilst plying the dusty road to Oscalgarum, the Twelve Champions of Celik came to strive amongst themselves, throwing into shadow the successful conclusion of their joint venture..."

"For it came to pass, that as the Twelve Champions approached the ancient Bridge of Kohljaegar, which crosses parched coils the Brineless Stream, all were assailed by a vision of sound and fury --- the ruination of an Urikite caravan, the high fleshy precipice of the breathing wagon's billowing enclosure dripping with fresh ichor, and the unsettling contraption exhaling heavily in the mid-afternoon heat, its minders absconded to some terrible fate and thus unable to salve its intense thirst."


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:

Tyren listened to the two sides bicker, an eyebrow raising ever so slightly. It seems, then, that there isn't a general consensus on what the fate of this kreen should be. I'd say that should be death--As always.

"I'd like to remind everyone," Tyren said quietly, That we stand within ruins surrounded by the greatest proof history has given us that unrepentant defilers are the enemy." He looked around at his companions, " If we succeed here, it will be at little cost to our journey. If we fail, it will only prove we were never capable of defeating our ultimate enemies. There is little risk/reward to consider here. There are, however, well-documented reasons as to why Defilers cannot be allowed to exist. Ordinarily, I'd argue we should offer the Defiler a better path--But this one comes from beyond the grave, and yet still Defiles. For the uninitiated, the dead may pull from the Grey. It has already proven it cares not for the living, and by that measure, it should remain with the Dead. Now, it's true that ordinarily such a creature would be a difficult opponent, indeed, to slay. However, I have specialized poisons for slaying the undead. I can render it blind, unable to cast spells, with its own eldritch energies burning it inside-out, and a million other horrible fates. I cannot say
I can do the same about the droids, however, and the Kreen's apprentices are far too many for me to reliably handle before they overwhelm us. Similarly, this giant centipede may be something I can effect--But more likely than not, it's tolerant to venoms. I imagine that Jin can assist you all in overcoming the droids, but who among us is best-equipped for handling masses of incorporeal foes?"

The vituperative elf sprays spittle as Slavathras veritably hisses his reply to Tyren,

"You wondrous plan is to poison not one, but several incorporeal entities. And how exactly do you plan to do that? I have never heard tell of a toxin that possessed the ability to afflict in-bodied beings, such as that which you shall face in yonder caverns."


Hamza Mīnakshi wrote:

"All you do is hide every time we get into a fight. You are nothing but a coward! If all you do is run away from every conflict, why are you even here? You have done nothing at all even semi helpful since I joined up. Other than run your mouth." Hamza lashes back.

Also, I don't think I'm being a jerk here as the DM, I'm pretty sure this is consistently how I've portrayed this character for over a year now. I recall Rokan insisting they take an alternative route into the ruins because he was sure Slavathras intended to use them as meat shields.

"Just because I am blessed with the necessary abilities to avoid battle may arouse your pitiable envy, but not my concern or sympathy, little imp."

"I have traveled these and distant lands for longer than you can imagine, and the druid here has spoken arightly when he described the rest of Athas as worse than the Tablelands by every measure. No soul that has ventured as far as mine would have survived assuming unneeded risk, and I have behaved in the present circumstances no differently than I have acquitted myself in my previous endeavors."

"My council is my own, and my ultimate ends bend towards a calling higher than the present circumstances which I shall not endanger with you or any other's concerns."


Hamza Mīnakshi wrote:

Hamza looks at Slavathras, perplexed "I do not understand your unwillingness to actually assist us in our fight versus the the Kreen wraith. Rokan mentioned the sorcerer kings, whom I believer are all defilers. Just like Kchac'Thraa. It is an immediate, imminent threat, one that if we do not defeat, will likely become just as dangerous as the sorcerer kings, for it too is immortal. As I asked the monk, if we were to just leave this place without destroying the wraith, do you honestly believe it will not seek us out and get revenge for betraying our admittedly tentative agreement?"

As Slavathras is an NPC, I can use diplomacy against him, so that's a 41.

His charisma modifier (which is super high, since that's his major stat, he has a similarly insane stat spread as these PCs, except he's a higher level character), added to his initial hostility to you telling him what to do, is way above DC41 to accomplish. He'll cast some spells to help you, but he's not getting directly involved, and you can't force him to do so outside of arcane compulsion or physical violence. You have a strong party, but you can see he disappeared into shadow form every time combat happened so far, so he won't be a push over if you decide to try to fight him about the issue. Also, unless you think I'm exaggerating, here's here's a link to a thread on Charisma optimization that I used in roughing his stats that shows a way for him to have 100+ easily, and he has most of these effects in place as that's his high stat. That's easily a stat modifier above 41.

The elf cracks a rictus grin and clucks in a highly provocative manner at Hamza,

"Your silver tongue has less sheen than mine little imp! As I already averred, I may be willing to offer some arcane assistance in your preparations, but I will not personally be participating in this dreadful melee. I have already offered some significant advice to you regarding the incorporeality of wraiths and the obstacle this ability represents to conventional battle strategies."


"I just want to be perfectly clear that I not contributing to this insane assault on the ancient wraith."

"When Rokan and myself pledged to my noble patron, the illustrious Lady Alma Bint Bar-Hammath of the Clan Astharte-Athiratu of the Merchant House Vordon of the Free-City of Tyr, as well as brokered an arrangement with Dregoth's former disciple Faalcuun the Magnificent, our first and only goal was to enter the ruins and close the Great Orrery, not to dabble in these other matters."

"I remain committed only to my first resolution. Our compact via the heroes of the Broken Tablet ensures that I will not oppose your melee with Kchac'Thraa the Inimitable, but neither will I personally participate in the carnage that will doubtless ensure."

"I will provide only guidance and perhaps what arcane assistance is within my power to fortify you for the combat, but not manifest directly to assault the enemy."

"And first and foremost I would call attention to the unique powers possessed by the species of free-willed undead known as wraiths, who are immune to most physical attacks, but are able still to attack their foes with magic, as well as their innate powers. You will need to possess a means to overcome the protection afforded by the wraith's incorporeality, in addition to that of his apprentices."


Ri'Kli'Klek wrote:

"Are we become so few?" Ri'Kli'Klek responds to Ehawee, sadly. "Are the great cities of the Tohr fallen, the clans of the Thri dead? We are, by nature, obligate carnivores. Little can we eat of plants, and so we have not taste for them."

Turning to the Drakes, he says, "It is not my thought to leave a Defiler active behind us, if perhaps we might destroy it. Who knows what death and waste he might wreak while we were absent?"

The weird elf laughs in an irritating pitch,

"Oh, by no means. To the west of our current location, beneath the precipitous drop of the Savage Cliffs, lies the Great Empire of the Tohr-Kreen. Its dimension are at least ten fold greater than that of the Tablelands, and its population at least a hundred fold greater than that of the Seven Cities. And yet the sorcerer-kings continue their pitiful internecine struggles, one with another, for the rule of this miserable stretch of desert, while the cold will of the Priests of Change who rule this great western empire hungrily eye the realms to the east, seeking new living space for their endless millions of subjects."


The mysterious elf named Slavathras, addressed as Silan Tilak of the Thoughtmakers by the Dreadseer Anubisemonekeh of Amunet-Ra's Serpent Singer Tribe, and who had taken the title Mindshadow when swearing the oath of the Company of the Broken Tablet, gazes fixedly at the True Drake princess Chanthavy-Chanvatey the Diamond Blossom.

The peculiar qualities of his arms and armament are a fair complement to the greater enigma of his person, origins, and designs. Slavathras' armor is composed of what appear to be the carcasses of several immense pangolins, a strange species of 'scaly ant eaters' distinguished by the large, protective keratin scales which cover their soft skin. They are the only known mammals with this feature.

Native to the torpid regions near the city-states of Gulg and Nibenay, the physical appearance of a pangolin is marked by large hardened overlapping plate-like scales, which are soft on newborn pups, but harden as the animal matures.

From the appearance of Slavathras' breastplate, epaulets, and helmet, all of the contributing animals were of an adult age.

These scale-like plates are composed of keratin, the same material from which human fingernails and tetrapod claws are made, and are structurally and compositionally very different from the scales of reptiles.

The pangolin's scaled body is comparable in appearance to a pine cone, and the warped fusion created by merging the exoskeleton's of at least three of the scaly ant eaters endows Slavathras' with an at once indelible, frightening, and ludictrous appearance, something like a predatory cactus or a feral, carnivorous porcupine.

Under threat, the pangolin can curl up into a ball when threatened, with its overlapping scales acting as armor, while it protects its face by tucking it under its tail. Presumably, Slavathras' armament would endow him with similar capabilities.

The scales are sharp, providing extra defense from predators or humanoid assailants.

His pique nose curls slightly in annoyance before the bard speaks,

"Well, if you insist, I shall address my query publicly your majesty!"

Slavathras' seems to quickly labor to regain his composure as he continues the question which, apparently, he had been attempting to issue surreptitiously, without the knowledge of his fellows among the Company of the Broken Tablet,

"It has been told in legend that the interior of Athas is hollow, and contains many strange and marvelous lands and peoples. I would know whether any of the gateways encompasses by this remarkable grotto, currently of your possession, leads to this interior world."


Sebecloki wrote:
Amunet-Ra wrote:

Amunet-Ra paused for a moment, hearing her companions out and waiting what the mushrooms would answer.

She nods to Tyren, signaling him that she understood and shares a similar sentiment.
[dice=Bluff Secret Message]1d20 + 30

I am but a simple elf maiden, as you stated youself. Tell me oh great Shraagroom the Inimical, Blightwarden of the Purple Pox, deputy of Zuggtmoy, the Princess of Elemental Evil of Fungi, you must have lived a long time and possess invaluable knowledge? What is so special about this drake that it would hold you and your tribe here back or could even drive you away?

She then turns her head to jin En Mok and Rokan:
As far as i'm aware we did not enter any agreement so far, we are just discussing matters. I am wondering the same as you Rokan. They have some powers which could be dangerous to us though. The drake could have powers dangerous to them. We could have powers dangerous to the drake. Do you know this game stone - cloth - knife?

By its tone, the myceloid appears to reply hesitantly, weighing its every statement, treading a thin line between revealing too little and too much to its erstwhile guests,

"The grotto in which the creature resides is either peculiarly beneficial or hostile to life forms such as that of my own person and that of my attendants. It was an important component of the ritual gardens of the kreen who built this complex, where they cultivated potent flora with the knowledge of the ancient halfling lifeshapers."

"The earth drake Thunderclap, whose given name is Puthyrith-Rainsey in the Angkorian language of ancient Yaramuke, from whence it came, accosted my hive with duplicitous means and seized the powers of the grotto for its own ends."

"I wish only to return the favor upon the head of my unwanted guest."

"Its continued occupation of the grotto continues to endow Thunderclap with powers that would imperil my person should I lead an assault on its...

The elf laughs,

"Unless I miss my guess, I believe we now begin to circle the heart of the matter."


Cae Leonidas wrote:

After resting, Cae will approach each member, offering a small blessing for the day.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

For those who accept: Fortune Hex will kick in upon entering combat.

Hex: Fortune(Su): The witch can grant a creature within 30 feet a bit of good luck for 1 round. The target can call upon this good luck once per round, allowing him to reroll any ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check, taking the better result. He must decide to use this ability before the first roll is made.

The strange elf sniffs derisively,

"Bah! Sleeping Eilithea and shattered Morindalien -- neither of the Lunar Twins can hear your prayers or petitions! How little you know of such things! How empty your words!"


Ri'Kli'Klek wrote:

Ri'Kli'Klek stays to the back, well aware of how outclassed he is by these strangers.

"I am still unsure of your abilities. I can do little to aid here. Other ways are likely as dangerous, each in their own way."

"Undeniably the words of a courageous warrior. I can only image the deeds you accomplished in ancient days."


Almonihah wrote:
Amunet-Ra wrote:

She watches her various companions apply very different and esoteric means to overcome the height distance, some raising her eyebrows.

Now i have some questions about the abilities of some of you. I know we have some disciples of the way among us, but some other arts here seem shady at least, dangerously close ot magic. I didn't know Thri-Kreen can have wings though.
"In the Blue Age all Kreen were winged. These were one of the... 'gifts' of the Red God, given as proof of his ability to return us to said age."

The bard sniffs derisively,

"'Proof' of a great many things I ween!"


Ehawee wrote:

I will always take a fortune hex! thank you!

Taking Cae's blessing she sighs softly. So far as her path wandered from its roots. This all had started as a simple foray into the dungeon, and now she is looking at changing the future, and hopefully for the better. At the mention of dance however, she seems to cheer up, remarking " I think any dance we perform would be wasted on those unable to understand them! Look at how short their ears are and then tell me they could even hear the whisper of the wind as you dance! WE shall certainly show them what they miss!"

She then scrambles up to the ledge, though her more primitive and less fancy manner would leave her in the back of the group

"And you also might avoid making a ridiculous spectacle of our people -- the Thought Makers do not perform paltry demonstrations for any. You would so well to learn from our wisdom, sister-runners, for we are strong and grow yet stronger."


Amunet-Ra wrote:

Amunet-Ra smiles as she thankfully receives the blessing from Cae.

Is that an outlook on your abilities? Certainly you can do something more there?

After hearing out Slavathras, she shakes her head.
Of course you have been there before. Perhaps, following our oath, you should let us participate in more of your secrets? And next rest i expect a rhyming contest between you and Cae, since you both are bards and entertainers of some sorts. Also some music would be good, so i can dance. Ehawee could join me in dancing.

She watches her various companions apply very different and esoteric means to overcome the height distance, some raising her eyebrows.
Now i have some questions about the abilities of some of you. I know we have some disciples of the way among us, but some other arts here seem shady at least, dangerously close ot magic. I didn't know Thri-Kreen can have wings though.

Leaping into the air from where she stands without any effort, she jumps an seemingly impossible distance up against the wall and higher from there untill she reaches the ledge.

For myself i can say, i'm one of the fastest runners under the sky, so fast i can run through the air and so light, i can even stand on a hair.

Her vigilant gaze takes in the surroundings.
[dice=Perception]1d20 + 36

"Bah, I'm not here to entertain you serpent-witch."


This is a good example the kind of holding action I was referring to in the discussion -- there are four directions with five doors. We just need to pick one and move on. I'm just going to move this along and say we're all headed to the exit that's about 25' up the cavern wall. I pointed out the cavern we're headed to with a gray arrow on Slide 2. Anyone who can't jump/climb or whatever can deal with it in their next post. Unless someone else says something otherwise, I'm assuming everyone's moving after Slavathras.

"Come now, compatriots, shall we throw dice or shall we make bold and seize our own destiny?"

The mysterious elf again joins with the shadows as he has in the previous melees at which the bard has been present.

His irritating voice can be heard moving up into the aperture, and then into an adjoining cavern.

"Ho there, this is quite a fungal assembly!"


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:

When Hamza generated a shadowy duplicate of the flask with a simple motion, Tyren just shook his head. You know, if I were to do that, I'm pretty sure everyone would immediately assume I'm a powerful defiler out to eat their babies. Still, perhaps the shadow...Vampire...Being had earned their trust, somehow.

"I'm not familiar with these ruins at all, so I was a little lost with all the terribly important titles that seem to have been given to every crevice of this tomb...but wasn't there mention of a hallway connecting this room directly to our objective?"

I'm not sure whether you're confusing two different things: (1) I explained in an ooc comment that this cavern complex connects to the hallway that leads to the central tomb at the heart of this complex. That central chamber leads to the ruins; (2) I re-posted information from a knowledge check the other characters got from reading the hieroglyphics in the tomb. That indicates that the central tomb contains an exit to the ruins, but says nothing about these caverns. In any event, I'll just retcon that Slavathras mentioned option (1) and reference that in this post below.

"These chambers, according to my intelligence from previous visits to the ruins, should somewhere connect to a route which leads to the Tomb of the Keymaster, and from there to the ruins of Kalidnay to the west, above our several heads."


Amunet-Ra wrote:

Indeed, retrieving the artifact the elders requested should be the first priority for all of you now.

She looks at the newcomers.
Even if you didn't meet them yet or weren't there, i extend this quest to you. Thereby you are granted the hospitality of the Serpent Singers and may tread these lands, probably leave them alive as well, so long as you stay true and loyal.

After that is achieved i will help you deal with these dray. It sounds like you need a firm hand, swift feet and a cunning mind to teach them a lesson.

The elf known as Slavathras of the Deadlands, Silan Tilak of the Tribe of the Thought Makers (or, to their detractors, the Mind Stealers), and, most recently, Mind Shadow chuckles slightly as he replies to Amunet of the Serpent Singer Tribe,

"Aye, these city dwellers are often in need of such, are they not, sister-runner?"

I'm re-posting the mission details that everyone agreed to with Anubisemonekeh the Dreadseer of the Serpent Singers about a year ago in real time.

the mission:

Quote:

Legacy of the Dark Sun Gameplay
Anubisemonekeh the Dreadseer Sep 15, 2018, 08:50 pm | Flag | List | Reply
+
Seoni
Quote:

Hoping to move on from this interaction of which he knew little about, Jimbli simply asks... "Have anything in mind?"

"I know how this works.. we offer anything reasonable or just short of, she laughs it off or becomes offended. Or... not knowing the worth of what she is offering, we propose something far more than necessary and she says.. yeah.. that'll do."

The black-shrouded elf curls her lips in wry amusement,

"If mine is the asking -- then ask I shall, though your hesitancy to name your own exchange may, as you may yet see, cost you dearly in life, mind, and limb alike."

"Beneath this ancient temple lies a series of catacombs, long undisturbed, where in ancient times, before the city of Kalidnay rose to greatness, a half forgotten tribe of kreen prepared themselves for the afterlife. The door is currently shut, and all we know of the complex derives from this ruin's inscriptions and archives."

"If you were to find a means to open the gate and explore the catacombs for me, returning anything of interest or value upon your successful egress, I would share my knowledge with you."

Her eyes then assume a predatory glare,

"But beware of any desire to cross me, for I am well able to ferret out any deception on your part, for is this not the knowledge you yourselves seek from our tribe. Go, then, and only return if you have something of interest."

Quote:

Legacy of the Dark Sun Gameplay
Anubisemonekeh the Dreadseer Sep 16, 2018, 03:18 pm | Flag | List | Reply
+
Seoni
Malkaer Illuvinar wrote:

”Sister, you have a tongue of pure water. I merely balk at the unknown. To take uncertain danger to uncover uncertain treasure for an uncertain reward. Might I ask then, for something more concrete? Tell us exactly what you want us to bring to you from the crypt in return for the information. It will make an informed decision all the easier.”

[dice=Diplomacy]1d20+13

It is clear from her facial expression that Malkaer's attempt at flattery has made no impression on the elven mystic.

The Dreadseer Anubisemonekeh sniffs slightly, emitting a surprisingly powerful discharge from her nostrils that reminds one of the exhalations of a perturbed desert fox,

"It is said the ancient kreen, by means of some mysterious ritual, obtained a marvelous artifact that would greatly enhance the psionic powers of whoever should possess it, but that the self same weapon was beset by a great curse as well. The hieroglyphics only depict it as an unblinking eye, and I am unsure whether this is symbolic or literal. In any event, if and when you discover this treasure, you must assuredly return it to the Serpent Singers so that its curse may be studied and avoided."


The map is in the slides, and I've explained a couple of times above where it is and how the slides relate to each other.

"Well, Company of the Broken Tablet, it is time to proceed. Shall we throw bones to determine our way, or does one of you have a direction in mind?


Cae Leonidas wrote:

Cae patiently watches as each person takes the oath, pledging not only for different reasons, but with differing goals.

He feels sadness for Ri'Kli'Klek's loss and desperation.

He is confused by Jimbli's trouble with traveling the plains.
"Running on the plains can be done,
Even under the blazing sun.
One must drink enough water
As the day waxes hotter."

A low growl escapes him, warning Taalik about speaking of the Order of Mitra. The dwarf might bring great misfortune on himself if he has not been indoctrinated.

Cae is amused by Amunet-Ra's teasing and returns a playful smile and a very different kind of growl.

Addressing the general discussion:
"To see this group out of the tomb,
Helping each to avoid your doom,
Excepting the safety of me and mine,
For as long as our goals align,
Good sense and past oaths I swore,
Prevent me from offering more."

Finally, looking to Hamza, he asks the stranger's opinion:
"And what say you, Shadow Master,
Fair winds or natural disaster?"

The druid Taalik is a halfling, not a dwarf.

The elf sniffs, rolling his eyes dramatically as he replies,

"Well, that certainly took long enough to eventuate!"


Rokan the Ascetic wrote:
Slavathras of the Deadlands wrote:
"As Rokan will well remember from our audience with Dregoth's exiled apprentice Faalcuun in the Pavilion of Mercy before the commencement of this expedition, the Great Orrery is but a part of the psionic defense system which permeates the city."

Rokan winces subtly as the mention causes him to remember the grotesque form of Faalcuun. He quickly collects himself and nods at the elven bard.

Indeed, and they are powered by five pylons rising from the city. The greatest of these is located in the center, and cannot be subverted before the lesser four are deactivated. We were on our way into the ruins of Kalidnay when it was determined that we needed to visit the Serpent Singers to obtain a means of detecting the Dray. All this to deal with a known lethal threat, to avoid unknown threats arriving from distant worlds accessed via gate, which Kalid-Ma utilized to retrieve a "greater seed."

He shakes his head as he finishes his summarizing thoughts, letting his mind stray to oft personally-held musings.

The sorcerer kings and queens are so willing to speed unlimited and wanton destruction to achieve their goals, I'm unsure of what they believe would be left to rule over if any of their total aims were achieved...

"One of these 'talons' is located in the Scarab Hold of the High Templar Ahmun-Ahnpur. That should be our first objective once we emerge from these twisted mazes."


Jin En Mok wrote:
Hamza Mīnakshi wrote:
So after swearing literal undying vengeance against slave owners, Jin just totally ignores Cae saying that not only is he a slave, but enjoys being one, and defends his mistress?? Wut huh?

Oops. I find Cae's verse slightly difficult to follow, and I missed that altogether. Sorry about that. Let's see, how to do this in a way that fits her character and is still gameable...

Jin frowns thoughtfully, then slowly, reluctantly, nods.

"Kidnappers and slave traders, mul breeders and merchant princes: there are plenty more deserving targets, more than I could ever hope to get to in one lifetime. One slaveowner? She can live, if that's the price of your trust."

"Just splendid then, know we can all formulate an appropriate plan of action."

Slavathras turns to Amunet-Ra,

"Sister-runner, since I believe you and your fellow desert-dweller" he here juts his sharp chin in the direction of Ehawee "are the only other soul to have set foot in the ruins above in the course of your excursions to the glass gardens in the abandoned Elven Market of Kalidnay, I suppose we may lead the discussion."

"As our friend Cae intuited upon our entry, and we have confirmed through the inspection of several hieroglyphic inscriptions therein (this was a while ago, but happened), the Tomb of the Master of the Keys contains a route by which we may reach the ruins of Kalidnay. I ween that the termination of this exit will be the shores of the Lake of Doom, which are near the center of the ruins."

"On the shores of the Lake of Doom is the Citadel of the High Templar Ahmun-Ahnupur, also known as the Scarab Hold. It overlooks the Plaza of Power and the Grand Processional, the latter a broad thoroughfare which leads to the Court of Destiny, where the Pyramid of the Great Mother, the Pyramid of the Sleeping Father, and the Pyramid of the Great Falcon cast long shadows over the remains of Kalidnay."

"As Rokan will well remember from our audience with Dregoth's exiled apprentice Faalcuun in the Pavilion of Mercy before the commencement of this expedition, the Great Orrery is but a part of the psionic defense system which permeates the city."

"The question, then, is what stratagem offers the most efficacious means to our ends."

These are the relevant quotes from Faalcuun's seneschal Nalcaros and Slavathras about the Great Orrery for those who weren't present for the conversation.

Nalcaros of Ebe wrote:


"Very well, Faalcuun cares not who undertakes this important venture, so long as its aims are accomplished. He will offer his benediction to you as well, to strengthen you for your task."

"As to your mission -- the Great Orrery must be closed to prevent the ingress of hostile powers to Athas. The bard speaks the truth, in that the Dragon of Tyr himself, the invincible Borys, as well as Dregoth, Hamanu the Lion or Urik, and the Shadow King Nibenay, at the very least, have dispatched forces that will arrive in the next few days to seek an advantage in the unfolding crisis. If they are able, they will use the device to obtain a 'greater seed' from one of the worlds accessible through the gates."

"The sorcerer-queen's presence forbids my master from entering the city, for she requires a new body of sufficient power to contain her terrible mind. Your more limited vessels will not tempt her possession, and so you may pass within the domain of the Orrery without fear, treading where my master may not."

"The Great Orrery consists of two halves -- the skein and the circlets."

"The first, the skein, is the network of obsidian orbs which you witnessed in operation -- they number in the thousands, if not millions, and are housed in a central reservoir far, far below the city when not active."

"Moreover, they are of several degrees, with some orbs containing greater minds than others -- and are under the ultimate aegis of the Orbs of Kalid-Ma, a pentad of the most powerful such spheres, the greatest of which houses the disembodied mind of the defeated sorcerer-queen herself."

"The latter component are the circlets, a number of ring-shaped passages to other lands and worlds which are opened by the power of the skein."

"The power of the skein is channeled through a group of five pylons spaced equidistantly throughout the city, with the central spire rising from the Temple of the Great Mother, in whose depths the sorcerer-queen once made her dwelling. Far, far beneath this structure lies the reservoir in which the greater mass of the orbs which comprise the skein are collected. Further, each of the pylons contains the key to awakening and subduing one of the Orbs of Kalid-Ma. The four lesser pylons must be deactivated before the central plinth within the temple may be approached and returned to dormancy."

"The operations of the gate are significant but focused, for when the skein opens a gate, it cannot maintain the sphere wall around the perimeter of the city, which accounts for the success of the other sorcerer-kings in their ancient assault on Kalid-Ma -- for they attacked when she had opened the gate to the world which held one of the greater seeds."

"However, now that the gate has closed, the only way to enter the city is through the Great War Gate, or, it is rumored, through a network of underground corridors. Otherwise, you must wait until the device begins to operate once again, perhaps unleashing even greater terrors."

"As my master has explained, the Orrery extends its reach further and further with each revolution -- the next concordance when it opens anew will doubtless bring some new power from beyond the dark barrier with which Rajaat's celestial champions encased the system surrounding Athas' crimson sun."

"In return for your aid, Faalcuun the Mighty will strengthen you with the power of the Pavilion, and also offer much-needed intelligence for your quest to restore the power of House Vordon in Kelmarane. The gnolls who now rule the trading post are no mere tribe, and are guided by a greater malevolence whose overthrow will only be accomplished with the intelligence my master is able to supply."

Slavathras of the Deadlands wrote:

The strange elf interjects once again,

"Even as I accept the necessity of this venture, our company is face with a forked path, each prong of which is treacherous. Nalcaros has both understated and obscured the different perils of each approach to Kalidnay, doubtless on account of a lack of personal familiarity with the ruins, having only a knowledge of their confines based on reports of others, including mine own recollections of previous ingresses into their depths."

"The difficulty is this -- the entrance via the Great Gate of Battle is the most direct. On my previous ventures into the city, the Great Orrery was not operational, and thus I approached by one of the less conspicuous corners of the ruins. However, now that the skein has re-established a semi-permanent barrier around Kalidnay, that remains our main potential route of approach."

"Doubtless, it will be guarded by some force within the ruins, for it offers the only possible egress from the city when the sphere wall is activated. Furthermore, it will be watched closely, and any potential surprise we might enjoy will be entirely relinquished -- not only those who hold the gate, but also any other interested parties will immediately take note of our arrival."

"My knowledge of the structure is limited to its exterior profile -- a massive block of granite with a narrow tunnel running through the center, certainly guarded by several gates and sentinel posts. Effecting an unwanted entry will be difficult, but perhaps we can prepare a suitable strategy to achieve our aims..."

"The other way I know even less well, for I largely, and intentionally, avoided the under works of the city. Kalidnay was built atop a subterranean city founded by servants of the Stoneburners. The black pool at the center of the ruins was once an open rift which formed the center of a vast settlement, larger by several orders of magnitude than the later city of the sorcerer-queen. Given its immense dimensions, it is unsurprising that the under works extend far beyond the terrestrial borders of Kalidnay, as presently established by the sphere wall."

"There are several avenues of approach in the caves which riddle the dunes that surround the city, and the vast network of tunnels eventually finds its nadir in the Womb of Midnight, the reservoir which Nalcaros mentioned that holds the dormant obsidian spheres of the skein."

"I must warn you that I had report that an unknown power has arisen from the deep places of Athas, and taken residence within the tunnels beneath the city, perhaps hoping themselves to seize the power of the ancient artifact. Whatever the case may be, we will almost certainly run afoul of whatever sinister agency has arisen from the twisting tunnels which connect the under works with the subterranean realms of the Tablelands."

"And so the choice remains before us -- I can offer additional insight if any of my fine companions should nurse any relevant inquires that might weigh upon our common decision in this matter."

Slavathras of the Deadlands wrote:


Slavathras purses his violet lips slightly in consternation, clearly chagrined that both Pak'cha the thri-kreen and Kethe the dwarf have colluded to reject the bard's attempt to strategically steer them towards an above-ground approach, one where his companions could more easily be employed as expendable shields of flesh. Judging both by the attitude of recognition and resignation now evident in his attentive eyes and restrained grimace, he increasingly realizes now that his new companions will not be so easily manipulated as were a number of previous unfortunate fellow-travelers. Indeed, the entire business has suddenly become much more complicated, and potentially lethal for his own person, than the scheming elf had intended,

He begins again, slowly, speaking in a measured tone as Slavathras attempts to cautiously 'thread the needle eye' of this new, unexpected course of action,

"Very well... the under-works of the city are vast, but there are a number of entrances, the chief one of which I am aware terminates on mountainous heights on the eastern approach, the summit of which over looks the Lake of Doom and the Temple of the Great Mother, where, as the Lawkeeper's emissary indicated, the Great Pylon, the so-called Mother of Talons, rises from the midst of Kalid-Ma's former residence."

"These mountains are riddled with abandoned mines, tunnels which connect with the structures of the earlier Stoneburner settlement I mentioned. The mines were a vicious institution, a vast open-aired pit the sides of which offered access to significant diamond veins. The narrow tunnels were slowly excavated by criminals and those who had, for whatever reason, fallen afoul of the sorcerer-queen's displeasure."

"We might be able to enter though the subterranean diamond-cutting factory known as the Riese, where the chambers of are of sufficient size to maneuver easily, and which housed the communal chambers of both the unfortunate workers and their overseers, including the shrine of Kalid-Ma to which they were forced daily to pray and sacrifice."


"Indeed," continues the elf, "the Tarḫuntašša, which, unless I miss my guess, Cae is a representative, are considered as to exotic pets by their elite Pleiadesean masters. A doulos such as Cae would be a bond-mage, a vizier, a bed companion, or some similarly more distinct and elevated role than the abused masses of the mustaebad bial'aemal alshshaqa, bled to death and warped beyond recognition by defiling magic to erect Kalak's cold obelisks."


"Well," reflects the elf, apparently dispassionately, "our rhyming friend's consideration of his bondage may be marked to the differing dispositions of servants between his native city-state and that which until recently applied to the indentured class of Tyr. For you see, in Balic, you see, the class of doulos, or servant is not identical in harshness to the category of mustaebad bial'aemal alshshaqa, which comprised the majority, though not entirety, of Tyr's unfree population. The latter were not considered as part of the owner's extended family, nor, most significantly, were they eligible for citizenship or abolition. Most were composed of non-Tyrians enslaved by Kalak's legions of blood-iron wielding soldiers and the terrifying 'titans', the tusked war beasts of the dead sorcerer-king. Having no native connection to their masters, they were considered outside the social life of Tyr and were worked mercilessly on the great monuments of Kalak, most significantly his immense pyramid, which still hovers over the heart of the metropolis."


Cae Leonidas wrote:
Jin En Mok wrote:
"It is precisely for such motley groups that such things are required to unite them. Had you known me since birth and trusted me as a bosom friend, would you need an oath?"

"It seems to be a most peculiar view,
That there is nothing between the two,
Lifelong friend or total stranger.
But I believe there is great danger,
In trusting one who offers smiles,
But secretly is one who defiles.
Who might ask for such a harsh pact
But one hiding dark secrets in fact?"

Cae gives Slavathras a significant look.

Jin En Mok wrote:
"...And secondly, are any of you slavers or slave-owners? For it is on my undying hatred of them I will swear, and no matter what Basalm's spirit will do to me afterwards, I mean to ensure that all such men die screaming."

"You end the lives of those who own slaves,
Such is the Mistress I seek in these caves.
To be owned by her fills me with pride,
And I intend to soon be by her side.
How might I fulfill the oath proposed,
When we are doomed to be opposed?
Unless before I make such a vow,
You think I should end your quest now?"

Despite the musical tone to his voice, Cae presents his questions without an excess of emotion.

The strange elf replies to Cae's rhyming insinuation about the sinister source of his arcane prowess with a snarl,

"What incredible presumption on your part, little pup! You clearly know nothing of the arcane arts to accuse me so -- the source of my powers are not the same dark energies as those wielder by Rajaat's Champions. They have their source in a older, and subtler font of occult might."

This is one of the reasons I'm working on the magic systems in the discussion page. Slavathras has shadow powers, and I want that to be distinct from Defiling. There are several characters that are going to be drawing upon this form of magic in the campaign.


Rokan the Ascetic wrote:

Rokan listens as the bard continues his tale. With this first reaction he thought it would continue further, but now it seems the story has settled on the pact of the twelve, and with his own companions reflecting it by picking a name and joining a new one. He nods at Amunet's prodding of the group.

There is little unique that I hold dear to swear on. I was destitute in Tyr. I had a teacher of The Way who cared for a time before his demise. Now I simply walk the tablelands, looking for true freedom where it can be sowed and cultivated.

He ponders a bit longer.

I shall take the name Wandering Fist in joining this pact.

"And yet you have not sworn, Rokan of the Free City of Tyr -- if you must swear upon the limitless expanse of the Void, but swear you must to seal your name within this bargain of many guarantors."


Ehawee wrote:
After musing over the question posed before her, she offers forth gently " But what will be the end after that? Will this bring the rains back as it should, or create more issues we have not for-seen? There are still many questions, and yet, if it is what we need to do to stop the plague on our land.... I say we must. Even if we can not agree on the powers afterwards, it would be one step forward in this lost desert we call home."

The mysterious elf smiles a slightly unsettling rictus grin, revealing peculiarly large incisors,

"Mortals may not know the ends or means of fate, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves upon the closure of the Great Orrery lie beyond the horizon of our present knowledge."

"In the fullness of happenstance, we shall, I am sure, have opportunity to reflect upon the later course of our compact."


Jin En Mok wrote:

The side conversation about the Blue Age is difficult for Jin to follow. It's almost as if the kreen is some kind of holdover from it, with no knowledge of anything that came afterwards. But that would be obviously crazy, so clearly, she must be misunderstanding something. She hides her confusion behind a polite smile and focuses on the bard's tale.

Amunet-Ra wrote:
Did you bring that animal for food? she points at the wolf.

"Well- ah. Hmmmmm."

Jin stares thoughtfully at the ceiling for a moment.

"To begin with, I've given Gu so many exotic alchemical elixirs, linaments, and treatments that I'm reasonably sure anyone who attempted to eat him would...dissolve? Or explode, quite possibly.

That's if they managed. I've seen his pelt turn a thrust from a half-giant's steel spear, and the third vice-master of Kalak's academy of the Way spent nine months crippled by anxiety after an encounter with her psychic might. She is a useful companion, a loyal friend, and one of the greatest triumphs of alchemy in the history of Athas."

-----

As the conflict about interruptions to Slavathras' story plays out, Jin is careful to leave herself altogether out of it. Without experience with how this group ticks, it's difficult to distinguish play-fights from true vitriol, and she has no desire to alienate anyone by appearing to take sides in a long-simmering dispute. When it finally concludes, she masks her increasing unease with another placid smile.

It looks like I'm not getting out of this without making some sort of mystically-enforceable loyalty oath. Wonderful. I'll have to make the best of it, and lay some cards on the table that I've kept to my chest...

"An interesting tale, and one I hadn't heard. But tradition attributes several key methods and pieces of apparatus for fermentation and distillation to Basalm, and a rhyming set of principles for handling contact poisons to Venom Kiss. If both are one and the same, that is a...

"Just as the Twelve Champions of Kalidnay pledged themselves, one to another, each by what they held most sacred, in service of one common task -- the reclamation of Oscalgarum and its famed white apples, so too shall we swear, one to another, each by that which we alone hold most near and dear, to this shared endeavor--"

"To close shut and bar the sorcerer-queen Kalid-Ma's Great Orrery, the black gate which hangs pendulously above these ruins, summoning untold horrors from the lightless voids between the stars, and which threatens the future of all our lands."

"In this most urgent task, we must prevent the dray servants of Dregoth from seizing its power for their own fell ends. For surely on this errand has the lord of the City by the Silt Sea dispatched his servants to the ruins of Kalidnay."


Tyren Lourofesh wrote:

Tyren suppressed a chuckle at the idea of being held to an oath by a work of fiction, and reminded himself that such was typically the way of the mage. Is this man perhaps a spellcaster? He noted the flare within the local fauna, and determined it was unlikely this man was causing any undue damage with his theatrics, and so let that detail pass by.

"I would hope, good merchant, that we can agree that that it wouldn't be terribly loyal of us to expect you to betray your masters on our account." He smiles over at Hamza, recognizing the voice as one who'd spoken up much earlier, "Or at least, that is the form my loyalty would take. One cannot declare loyalty to those they intend to enslave, after all."

He did, however, step up to the foot of the altar and look up. "So, then, we swear by that which is dear to us, to our companions. Of this I have no particular concern--So, will I be needing that shining flask, then?" Tyren points to the flask that Slavarathas had handed to the druid.

"You may, if you wish, also employ these ready means, or any others as seems fit to you."

"In the Court of Submission, it is said that Storm Cloud swore by breaking his childhood training bow over a bent knee, and then burning the remnants with strips of paper inscribed in the queer glyphs of the niitsitapisiksikaitsitapi language. Some observers witnessed the flames adopt an unnatural, rainbow hue as they ascended into the heat of the midday air. Thus he swore this oath by the spirits of the endless plains from which he traveled to the markets of Celik."

"Skull Snapper ran a metal chord woven with thorns through his manhood and his tongue. He then dabbed the blood which he had drawn onto a lotus blossom and a small plinth, representing the male and female virtues. Thus did the famed combatant swear by his potency among the Great Harem of his liege, as well as the promise of future progeny that he should not shirk his bargains once they had been agreed."

"Shivers summoned made his oath before the mysterious powers of dream and terror from which the psychic drew his might, the gathered phantoms observing and approving the compact. The crowd recoiled in terror at his invocation, for terrible were the powers by which Shivers bound his honor to his confederates among the Twelve Champions of Celik."


Hamza Mīnakshi wrote:
Hamza finally steps out of the shadows, adopting his merchant guise. He notes the ritual performed and the oath sworn. He has his reservations however. "While I do not mind swearing myself to this group, my first loyalty is and forever shall be to House Mīnakshi. Know that they command me above and beyond all others."

"Yes of course, we will all swear by that which we hold most dear -- I by my ancestors, the druid by the vanished beasts in whose study he has spent his life, you by your the Merchant House Mīnakshi, and so forth. You shall bind yourself by what is most dear to you to your compatriots, and the spirits of the Twelve Champions of Celik shall secure and guard this oath, and punish any transgression."


Suddenly, the illumination of the lichen increases, revealing new details of the vast subterranean space, some seventy five paces in length and breadth. The large cavern consists of a rough-hewed grotto in which their appear to be ancient monoliths, and in the midst of which rises a craggy shelf of black rock.

The elf approaches a small outcropping in the ragged altar. Two elaborately, if grotesquely, carved statues frame a jagged indentation in the rock. It appears to form a sort of groove or rivulet through which liquid could run down the altar's side, into the dense bed of mint-green moss which lies beneath its shadow. The entire formation hints at a ritual purpose.

Slavathras gestures extravagantly with a single outstretched arm,

"These remnants of the ancient Kalidnayans shall serve my purpose admirably. For my part, I shall make my oath under the name of Mind Shadow, and bind it to the revered memories of the glorious ancestors of my clan, twin luminaries of the Thought Makers known as Sabeccuranus and Emmessanaa, or Shabban Bartalus and Kheatwil Quan within the wider reaches of the Tablelands. Know that the twins deeds and being have been preserved among their descendants in the inimitable sagas common to all the great clans of the Thought Makers."

Slavathras flashes a capacious smile as the diminutive druid Taalik, somewhat grudgingly now it seems to the assembled company, indicates his ascent to the daring proposition. Apparently, he had been prepared to learn more of the behemoth, but was thoroughly nonplussed about being goaded into a binding ritual by the conniving elf. Indeed, it seems evident that the BrahmanaŚauca druid's presumptive enthusiasm for the enigmatic minstrel’s free-wheeling tale of ancient Athas has diminished substantially with the revelation of the proffered oath-taking ritual.

”Excellent, most excellent,” says Slavathras, now 'Mind Shadow' through his glistening smile, ”Now then, let us seal this agreement by the proper oaths.”

Having received the grudging affirmation of the halfling druid, hardly more than a bestial grunt, the elf proceeds to lay his smooth, ivory-fleshed hands upon the altar, each one set respectively in the space before the rough-hew statues by which the elf has determined to invoke the Thought Maker hero twins Sabeccuranus and Emmessanaa. The slick black rock beneath his touch begins to glow with a piercing white illumination, revealing a heretofore concealed crevasse cut into the altar in exactly the shape of a hand.

He then casts his eyes up in a fixed gaze directed towards the face of each long-departed luminary, seeming as if to forget the presence of his ceremonial guests, as the Slavathras begins to speak again, this time in a reverential, prayerful tone, one noticeably deeper than his ordinary intonation,

”By that which bends and breaks, finds and makes, sends and shapes, wends and waits, by that which calls and echoes, signs and portents tremble, by that which is both whole and absent,” and then he begins, in a slightly unnerving, high-pitched tenor, to sing, ”Sabaccarrao, Sebbecrai, Sobasharu, Succranus, Sacborshai, Shya’brak…” and many variations of his ancestor's name, before continuing in a similar list of the luminaries’ forms of address, ”Emsia, Emesya, Kyia Tiya, Khesharah….”

The end of the last name of the ascendant finds a welter of small shinning globules begin to ascend from a geyser positioned above the statue of Sabeccuranus, further up the altar stone. They descend in a stream down a rivulet cut into the rock beneath the statue.

At the same time, a sheet of glistening liquid begins to pour forth from another geyser above the statue of Emmesanna. It likewise steadily descends through a trench carved in the rock.

Both streams terminate in small facets that are directed into a pair of rough flasks that sit upon shelves cut into the black stone.

Slavathras picks up both flasks, then hands the one filled with shining liquid to Taalik, who then recites in a controlled tone, almost masking his annoyance,

”By that which bends and breaks…”

He finishes the oath before the recitation of the shadow lord’s names, as the druid would refuse to tie his oath to the Slavathras' ancestors. Instead, Taalik takes the new name of Emerald Blossom, binding himself to the memories of Athas' departed 'great beasts', including the various behemoth genera whose appearance in the elf's story had so absorbed his attention only a few moments ago.

Simultaneously, the elf recites the same formula while holding the flask with the metallic globules.

Slavathras and Taalik then exchange flasks and each repeat the oaths, and then a third time.

The question of how the others might indicate their ascent is dealt with by Slavathras Mind Shadow, who upon concluding his ritual with Taalik, turns a friendly expression to the rest of the company, the palms of his hands open in a universal gesture of welcome,

“And how shall you swear, friends Rokan, Jimbli, Cae, Ri'Kli'Klek, Hamza, Ehawee, Devapala, Jin, and Tyren?”


Amunet-Ra wrote:

As Slavathras of the Deadlands comes to an end with his story, Amunet-Ras ears rise up (like those of a rabbit).

You would have me swear an oath with this lot of strangers, most of them who didn't even pass any test of loyalty or character before? And on heroes from Celik? Why not from Kalidnay? And what do you mean by oath name? Should we take on one of the names from your tale? Or make up our own?

I heard many tales that you are out of your mind often Slavathras, but i guess this isn't the worst idea in times like this. It replaces many tests and can build trust fast where it would need ages to grow.

She stands up on her carpet and looks each of the others in the eye.
Rokan, Jimbli, Cae, Ri'Kli'Klek, Hamza, Ehawee, Devapala, Jin En Mok, Tyren, what do you think? Are you ready to come forth and swear this oath to save Athas?

"The oath requires a new name of all, of a kind similar to those of the Champions I have named -- a suitable epithet. I myself shall take the vow with the name Mind Shadow."

"As to your other query regarding the origin of the tale's heroes would require me to finish the story, since it's course eventuates in a set of circumstances not incomparable to our own."


"Know, strangers, that the spirits of the ancient worthies Storm Cloud, Fleet Hands, Grey Cowl, Sun Fear, Death Talon, Red Tusk, Basalm, Three Fangs, Whisper, Skull Snapper, Shivers, and Rune Teacher, who bound themselves to the same oath, shall observe and maintain our oaths, and punish those who forsake them."

"In the swearing of this oath, you shall each take upon yourself an oath name to bind the pact."


The elf then produces a diminutive ceramic shard from some recess of his voluminous ebony robes, or that is what they appear to be... the outside surface is slick, like a wet hide. By contrast, the lining of his garment is a dense sea of some kind of purple material, perhaps... organic. From the folds of this mysterious garment the elf produces the small piece of ceramic. It is apparently inscribed with some of kinds of runes.

"Behold, fellow travelers, a shard from the broken tablet of the messenger of Oscalgarum!"

"At least, that was its claimed provenance in the market place of Celik. I acquired it from a merchant in the teeming markets of the Living City, the quarter of the vast ruin which House Maraneth of Kalidnay, driven from the ancient metropolis, like House Vordon, by the devastation of the ruins above, has reclaimed for its own purposes."

"We have come, our motley party, from many quarters, many races, many lands, and embrace many creeds and destinies. We are united, strangers, by naught but our pledge one to another to survive the terrors of these ruins."

"Let us seal the pact, one to another, with the ancient pledge of the Twelve Champions of Celik, that we shall be loyal one to another, and that alone, and that we shall suffer the fate of this shattered artifact lest any trespass the Pact of the Broken Tablet. Let us swear this binding oath and be known henceforth as the Company of the Broken Tablet."

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