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Dark Days in Sion - Act 3: Scene 3


In the Cellar of Jabbar's Trade Goods

"I have three questions: Who is their leader? Where is the leader? When will his leader attack?"

Elloral: Nods slowly, acknowledging Aust's questions before taking in a deep breath. This was clearly not something she wanted to do, but the call of duty was strong enough to motivate most any dwarf to do most anything. "Very Well." She says determinedly.

He pulls a canvas sack from a stack of them folded in one of the basement boxes. Jabbar was such a neatnik...Aust missed him already.

"Put the bottom half of the headless rhat in the sack and tie it. We'll toss it down the nearest gutter and see what comes for it."

Burrai: Frowns "Probably not a good idea. No one here knows how to navigate the sewers. REN was our only guide! Unless he returns it's too risky. A good soldier should pick his battles (and especially his battlefield) with better odds in his favor."

Aust gently pops off tops of several boxes, "We have some things at our disposal. Potions. Some weapons and armor. Wands, and the like. And this."

He removes an ornate bolt of cloth in a deep indigo hue with alabaster piping. He lays the cloth down on a table nearest the stairs. A hole opens where the table cloth is.

"We can carry something large with it; actually many somethings. But I'm thinking this might be the best way to transport the Vul's and perhaps Jabbar's bodies from here without drawing even more attention to us."

He digs through more items, "Anyone able to use anything? But don't get greedy; you can pay for it later. If indeed we revenge Jabbar and put an end to these sewer-dwellers, consider them a thank you."

He allows the others to look over the wares. "We need to leave Dera and the slaves out of this. Do not mention Jabbar nor anything else that has transpired. One of you put the Vul remains into canvas sacks. Wrap him up good, but leave it such that one of us can unroll him. Once he's packaged up, we'll put him in the Magic Bag here. And drop this in a really good spot."

"Burrai, respectfully, I realize the Vul appear indiscriminate, but they actually need people to subjugate. And where I plan to put this, it'll be pretty clear who the Vul should kill. It's either that, or you come up with a better idea."

"But know this, comrades..." Aust speaks the term with some salt, and looks at Bill and Avar, "...I aim to misbehave."

Burrai: Scratches his chin hrrrming in something like a growl. "If used RIGHT, the Vulkyrie corpse is a good lure to call upon the wrath of the other Vulkyrie; no doubt about that! ...So long as the Vulkyrie blame the right people I have no problem with using it that way."

Meanwhile, Elloral steps over the still wererat corpse of the stranger, (now reverted to human form) his chest split open by the thrust of Ersuns greatsword. She kneels down to one knee, clasping the magical beads of her long braids together in her hands as she prays. A few moments later, she opens her eyes and speaks to the corpse.

Elloral: "WHO is your leader?"

The rest of you in the cellar find yourselves starring at the corpse as the cellar goes eerily quiet. At first it seems the spell failed because the corpse remains perfectly still. Not even the eyes move to look at Elloral. Indeed nothing about its still form appears to respond to her question... until its slack jaw slowly mouths a name.

Stranger: "...Noorrrooo..." It hisses with a sucking, hollow breath (worsened by its massive chest wound) that sends shivers through most of you.

Elloral: Swallows. "WHERE is your leader?" She asks.

Stranger: "Roooming beeehiiind 'The Goooblinnns Gooobbbletttt'."

Elloral: "WHEN is your leader attacking?"

Stranger: "Onnn the Fuullll Mooonnnnn..." It gasps for the last time as the spell ends.

Elloral: Stands again quickly glad to step away from the thing. "Which one should I question next?" She asks, and looks to Billanverthorne specifically responding to his recent suggestion. "I don't want to question Jabbar. He was not our enemy. Out of respect only another family member can ask me to do so. Those are the rules of my faith."

Note: MOST of the magical items available in the cellar are listed below. Jabbar labeled them all neatly but if you are not sure of their powers or how they work, you should either direct your questions to Aust (or perhaps Avar) IN CHARACTER, or make a suitable Knowledge: Arcana Check or perhaps cast Detect Magic.

[sblock= Jabbar's Magical Items]
Potion of Lesser Restoration
Potion of Delay Poison
Potion of Neutralize Poison
Oil of Darkness
Potion of Cure Light Wounds x6
Oil of Bless Weapon
Potion of Hide from Animals
Potion of Spider Climb
Potion of Resist Energy (30)

Ring of Protection +2
Ring of Feather Falling

Wand of Cure Moderate Wounds
Wand of Knock
Wand of Detect Secret Doors
Wand of Magic Missile (1st)

Hat of Disguise
Bracers of Archery (Lesser)
Cloak of Resistance +1
Elixer of Truth
Bag of holding Type IV
Bracers of Armor +3
Lantern of Revealing

Ring of Clumsiness
Cursed Sword, -2
Stone of Weight
Flask of Curses

Intelligent Item (Skull of a Kobold)[/sblock]

Just then, a loud knock on the back door can be heard upstairs. (The secret door to the cellar is presently open so you have no trouble hearing it) The sudden sound causes Elloral to jump nervously as she looks between Avar and Aust.

Elloral: -Whispers- "Are either of you expecting anyone?" She inquires.

Avar: Frowns. "No."

Burrai: Takes a worried breath. "That knock was too loud to be Ren. It might be the town guard again. Aust, this is your shop now. How do you want to handle this?"

[Aletia, Aust, Billanverthorne: What do you do?]

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High in the Great Drakeshvar Valley

R'ad Alim said:
Hard-headed and determined to show too weak, young warrior joins them at the fire. He doesn't sit, not risking his leg sitting down. But standing then returning for an early bed seems feasible.


[roll1] hopefully not needed

He is no stranger to pain and bears it stoically.
OOC: why would I heal slower than human without powers?

OOC: My House Rules for Sion change the way Damage Effects and Healing are dealt with. Details about those house rules are posted at the top of the Obsidian Portal Sion Wiki Page (also see below). Due to the severity and extent of your wounds you are not healing slower than a human without powers, you are simply healing at the same rate because you are cursed.

Note: For this game all rolls are made on rolz.org in room DDS 33. (See the Start Here! Thread for more details)

[sblock=Damage Effects]

Damage Effects

Special Damage Effect: Is being hit by a called shot

Serious Damage: Is when taking more DMG then your Con score in one hit (or half your total hp’s, whichever is higher)… Suffering Serious Damage causes Serious damage effects.

Massive Damage:
When you take 50 DMG or more from one attack. Fortitude Saving Throw vs. Massive Damage = DC 15 or 10+ ECL of attacker (whichever is higher).

Massive Damage Effects:

Slashing Weapons (sever limbs or instant death if hit body or skull), Piercing Weapons (impale through limb or instant death if hit body or skull) Bludgeoning Weapons (crush/pulverize bones or instant death if hit body or skull.)




PC’s regain lost HP’s at the rate of 1 per hour while resting, except for Serious/Critical damage. Those wounds require Heal Checks, and usually a period of extended rest. Some wounds (depending on damage type) may require magical healing.

Guo Jiang: Notes R'ad Alim's stoic stance with a frown. "Sit down before you fall down!" He scolds, gesturing to a smooth stone set into the roots of the overhanging tree with a bundle of blankets to cushion against the trunk.

Djondarma Leader: Smiles slightly. "R'ad Alim reminds me of myself as a young warrior, too proud to show weakness."

Ayuoso: Moves over to sit by the Djondarma leader. "Don't patronize him brother. So far as he knows there is no honor in our company."

Djondarma Leader: Glances towards Guo who busies himself scaling and gutting the fish with a small hooked blade. "You did not explain?"

Guo Jiang: "Better that he hear it from you."

Djondarma Leader: Hmphs. "So be it." The leader clears his throat and addresses R'ad Alim directly. "I am Sogam Kashmir, former Khan of the Harachaandee tribe. Relations between our peoples have a bloody history. I don't expect you are in a mood to forget it, but there is more to the story that you should know..." He comments reaching for a corked brass jug that he'd already set into the coals of the fire.

As he pours the drink, piping-hot into brass bowls you recognize it as Chang, a favored
alcoholic beverage of the Djondarma tribes. Similar to ale brewed from barley, rice or millet, it has a rather unique cider-like flavor beneficial for much-needed warmth in the cold, harsh environment of high altitudes.

Sogam: Pours a bowl first for Guo Jiang, than his brother Ayuoso, than a third that he offers to you. "It is a long, woeful tale I would share with you R'ad Alim. Yet if you are tolerant and patient enough to hear it through, I am happy to share this Chang with you. What do you say?"

[R'ad Alim: What do you do?]
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I plan on living forever. Or die trying.
OOC: I know about rolz...but when I answer from the mobile phone it takes too much time and effort, both in typing everything, changing sites, copying...I can do it when I'm on the computer like now - but it will affect my post rate somewhat as I'm not always free in the evenings.

Also, I know I still owe personality test, I will do it soon - between therapy, work, and driving kids around...I'm rarely at the computer early enough to post long posts.

Con save for extra movement (from DDS 33) - can I link that somehow?
Neurotic rolls 1d20+10 = 25

Ra'd Alim considers the elder carefully. By now, they offered no disparaging comment. And he IS aware they know about his injuries, he just doesn't want to show the pain. Thus, he sits slowly but doesn't let the sound of his pain escape into the outside world.
"I will listen. The history of my people is long and well kept. I learned hard way that details can be lost to time. Tell your tale and we share chang. But I take no obligation to you or yours." he adds at the end, still suspicious.
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Vandrok the Relentless

Vandrok said:
Vandrok snorts with glee, “It seems that the demon was not so strong after all. I came here to speak to Vahr, but if he is busy, I can wait. In the meantime, I’d like to approach the fence, and get a closer look at these vagrants who were able to triumph over the demon. You can never tell, I might end up fighting them eventually. I want to size them up and catch their scent. I won’t go near Vahr’s campfire. What say you, brother?”

Hjurn: "Ok Vandrok, go take a look at the strangers if you wish." He says stepping aside.

As you approach the bars, Vahr's chanting continues; zealous mutterings in the strange native tongue of the hill tribe. Through his voice you hear the name of their wicked patron goddess, 'Kalia', often repeated.

Vandrok: (FATE POOL Spot Check: = 25, Great Success!)

Now close against the bars you have a much clearer line of sight towards the strangers. The youngest of the three is a dwarven warrior staring back at you with alarm and great horror (a reaction you usually expect). He wears his beard plain, no braids, no beads, and trims it more in a triangular fashion. Over his shoulders he wears a billowy travel cloak of brownish fabric with a hood. Strapped to his back is a medium heavy steel shield. Over his broad torso he wears a chain-shirt along with bracers and greaves.

This warrior doesn't carry any obvious holy symbols, flashy jewelry, or known magical items. He holds a battle axe, but also carries a hand axe and a heavy crossbow. This young dwarf looks to be an honorable mountain dwarf clansman, like so many others you've seen hunted, tortured and cut down by the evil forces of Skull Mountain. You do not see any particular clan sigils visible on him from this distance. But if you did, it' is possible you might recognize them.

The other dwarf is actually a half-dwarf, or 'mule' with a thick build, aged in his late 30's. He wears a heavily soiled long-sleeved tunic and trousers, common travelers garb in the Kingdom of Borossa. Several days worth of stubble covers his face, the left side of which is ruined by a horrible burns deep enough to reveal raw cheekbone. The burns carry up towards his left eye socket which is covered by a patch.

His hair is coarse, black and heavily tangled draping loose over his temples and the tops of his shoulders. Instead of a hand he has a bent iron fork attached to a cup fitted over the stump of his left forearm. He has a throwing hammer looped to his belt with a buckler-axe strapped to the left forearm. He appears somewhat shaken and angry, still upset about Vahr's spell most likely.

The third man, the tall, elderly human you would guess to be Wrenwil, wears traveling garb of simple lightweight cloth worn and soiled from age, though of a foreign style unfamiliar to you. Beneath his clothes is weathered leather armor, devoid of battle scars. From beneath the ragged sun faded cloth cap concealing his balding head, thin tendrils of dark brown hair leech out mixed with grey. Stubble covers the better part of his chin, supporting a narrow frown and parched lips.

His facial features tell a miserable tale of early aging, stress and sleep deprivation. Dark bags linger on under narrow brown eyes, deep crows feet branching across the sides of his face. Long narrow limbs, lean, rippling with sinew and muscle tough as iron meet with soft pale hands clasped around a plain walking staff. Though his skin is deeply tanned from travel, he does not have the same features of a local Akhenaten. His looks would be unfamiliar to you, though he appears to be the most calm and collected of the strangers. In fact he seems to regard with you with more curiosity than fear.

Overall, it's easy to see the strangers are exhausted, bloodied and agitated. The fight with the demon surely would have been rough, but there is more to their long faces than that. You've seen that look before. It is the look of the hunted who have lost dear friends and comrades.

[Vandrok: What do you do?]
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In the lair of Kumbakarna

Wrenwil said:
Wrenwil continued to eat, but listened carefully to Alic and Ordechai's worrysome words. The tastes of a distant land, flavors that reminded him of peace, relaxation and a mountain of alluring texts back in his humble home... were somewhat soured by his companion's anxiety.

Maybe the priest was hardening. Through all the terrors of recent days, perhaps death no longer seemed like such a bother. Not with the weight of other visions lying heavy on one's mind.

"Let us not show them the fear they desire," he whispered. "If they are not of sound mind to understand your memories, Ordechai, then let's just have faith that the truth can be our gift to Kumbakarna, amongst what else he will want of us."

It was hardly a reassurance, but they'd kept their hearts beating this far. Pentos wouldn't have brought this all about for nothing. Never.

The old cleric's thoughts were interrupted by an expression of terror on Alic's face, and a look that he'd nope not to see again.

What this time! Surely even savages understand the rudeness of interrupting a sacred-gifted meal!

He turned, doing his best to keep a flat expressionless face, as he looked towards the source of Alic's newfound fears.

Then he turned back to his meal.

"Show no fear friends, no matter how we tremble inside. Alic, are you alright? Let's keep an eye on that one. Let me think..."

Beasts. Always more monstrosities. Question is, ugly friend, what kind are you... have your ways made it into the words of man or the texts of our predecessors?

[Wrenwil is scouring his memories for anything that matches the new arrival's appearance, with a Knowledge History General check. Roll = 19+5 (24)]

[sblock=Wrenwil Stats]
WRENWIL - a tough old boot on a terrible holiday

6, Init 2, HP 31/38, Speed 30
AC 15, Touch 13, Flat-footed 13, Fort 7, Ref 6, Will 11, Base Attack Bonus 4
Masterwork Staff +5 to hit (d6+3)
Spells: 4/4/3/2

[Sblock=Results of Knowledge History Check]

The most obvious reference to what you glimpse beyond the bars would be a Minotaur, a monstrous hooved humanoid with the head and horns of a bull. Minotaurs are known to be ruthlessly cunning, violent and immensely powerful. These evil beings are sometimes found lurking in the ancient ruins of Khimera back home on your island Kingdom of Chival (and similar places elsewhere). Accounts of several famous encounters with these terrors are sung by the bards and written in the histories.

Most believe minotaurs are the product of some obscure dark magical ritual performed so long ago as to be lost to the ages. Some of these horned beasts have been observed and studied over the ages, though very few have ever been captured alive. As such, very little is known about their religion, breeding customs and general society.

You are aware that Minotaurs have more in common with feral animals than men. They are reclusive, hugely territorial and loathe to associate with other races (including each other). Almost nothing conclusive is known about the origins of the minotaur species. They are not one of natural elder races though they have roamed Sion for thousands of years.


Wrenwil: (FATE POOL Spot Check: = 21, Success)

Though it is known minotaurs vary somewhat in size and features, you spot something quite different from the norm with this horned monster; specifically feet instead of hooves. You also note how its garments, armor and weapons elude to greater skill and intelligence than typical minotaurs.

Perhaps most telling of all is how it seems to speak so calmly with the savages of the hill tribe. It is highly unusual for these monsters to dwell with other creatures peacefully.

[Wrenwil: What do you do?]
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Vandrok The Relentless: The Coming Doom

Svexyn said:

There stood before him now a Caishian of maybe twenty years of age, at least foot and a half shorter than he, wearing a leather jerkin over chain mail. There is a spiked chain coiled at his waist along with a short sword and a dagger of fine Caishian craftsmanship.

Stranger: "You are the great horned one I saw in my vision!" He says in the common tongue.

Vandrok: Snorts. "Who in the nine hells are you?"

Stranger: "I am Svexyn, of Caishia. A Dragon-shaman."

Vandrok narrows his gaze with instant fascination. For some time now he had the idea to find a dragon to learn some great knowledge or power. It was a desire he shared with no one, yet now suddenly there was a dragon shaman standing before him? Oddly coincidental to say the least and Vandrok never trusted coincidences. "What do you want ?!" He asks with the great hoarse grunts of his deep bullish voice.

Svexyn. "I bring a message. Seek the great Pit of Bet'Shava."

Vandrok: Laughs. "I have heard of this pit, it is said to swallow trespassers whole and spit out their bones in clouds of dust!"

Svexyn: Nods "You are wise to be wary. Only the worthy or the invited may enter unharmed."

Vandrok: "And which of those am I?" He questions incredulously.

Svexyn: "I do not presume to know anything except that Bet'Shava herself, the great dragon of the Aluja Expanse, knows all there is to know in her demesne. The winds carry your thoughts to her as you wander each night. Forgive me I must go now. There is little time yet to accomplish my quest before the coming doom."

Vandrok: "What coming doom?"

Svexyn: Gestures back towards the hills. "Go and speak to Wrenwil, one of the others I traveled with. We came by the so-called path of blood. He knows much about the doom..." The Caishian says mysteriously.

Suddenly Vandrok feels a headache come upon him. A sharp aching within his skull that makes him wince and growl with pain. ~Not again!~

Svexyn: Stares with sudden awareness. "Ah, and you feel it too... you are connected with the doom somehow aren't you!?"

Vandrok: "Silence!" He roars shaking his horns too and fro.

Svexyn steps away quickly, setting off into the expanse without another word.

Vandrok stumbles forward, his headache lessening the nearer he gets to refuge. He knows the reason for it, along with the visions and persistant nightmares. The magic of his creators still runs through his veins. It pulls against his will everytime the cabal makes a new attempt to call him back, or perhaps destroy him?

The specifics and mysteries of arcane magics are nothing he's cared to dwell upon enough to fully understand. He only knows the power of their influence greatly lessens within the Hills of Kumbakarna. A fact he attributes to the protection of The Hill Tribe and their ancient gods, Baezu being one of them.

Vandrok watches the newcomers silently, all the while thinking about what the Dragon Shaman had told him.

Vandrok whispers, to no one in particular: “Wrenwil...Which one of them is Wrenwil?”

He surmised that perhaps the old, balding, leathery-looking man was Wrenwil, but he had to be certain! He had to. Vandrok could feel the panic once again welling up inside of him. It was not a panic borne of fear; rather, it was borne from a sense of urgency, a deeply-set yearning, in the most guarded recesses of his soul. It was borne from his desire to be truly free. He needed that freedom, now more than ever. Here, in the hills of Kumbakarna, he was safe from the raging pain in his skull, and allowed to roam unfettered, but he was not truly free. He had always thought that to be free from the evil of Skull Mountain, he would need to serve a greater power than they. He needed a liege whose authority was absolute, immune to even the influence of the Black Network. He had always been in awe of the power of Dragons. He had surmised that if he were to serve one, the Black Network would cease to bother him. But he had never been sure enough of success to commit to the task, before now; now, there was a Dragon Shaman telling him to seek out the mighty Bet’Shava herself, and that the way would be led by Wrenwil, who knows of the coming doom, obviously a reference to the rapid spread of the Black Network’s influence.

~They have walked the path of blood, albeit probably at a considerable price; none of them have the look of true warriors. They look more like bedraggled survivors, who have survived not through pure might, but perhaps from the application of sheer willpower. Still, there is honor in that; willpower is still strength. It is strength of the mind. And as the teachings of Baezu say, the focused will can often succeed where physical might alone has failed. Perhaps that is why I linger here? My limbs are stronger than anyone’s I know of, yet I hide behind doubt and uncertainty. Perhaps Wrenwil is destined to serve as my mentor, to free my mind, and lead me to The Dragon? Every hero needs guidance, in the same way that every knife benefits from being sharpened. Come, Wrenwil, reveal yourself to me. Your hesitation delays the fulfillment of my destiny!~

As he watched them, he adjusted the leather strap of his baldric absent-mindedly; it was a nervous habit, one that he was only vaguely aware of doing. The massive swords on his back shifted as he did so, although it was worth noting that his hands did not wander toward the hilts of these weapons in the least; from the look on his face, his weaponry was perhaps the furthest thing from his mind.
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Aletia: Listener of dead words

The young elven woman lurked in the background, quiet and solemn, boiling with guilt as she watched a magic unfold that she'd never before witnessed. The speaking of the dead. It was as incredible as it was unsettling. Elloral was not to be underestimated. None of these people, Jabbar's folk, were to be underestimated.

Aletia bit her lip as the cold dry throat of the deceased expelled the words, Onnn the Fuullll Mooonnnnn...

Ominous. Perhaps it was a hint at were-creatures and the like, or simply an easy way to trace time for this ...Noorrrooo's servants and recruited scum. But such an auspicious symbol, a moonlit night where her godess was at her closest, when Sehanine's grace illuminated the lands and its people with silver rays. It felt as if the corpse's words were meant specifically for Aletia.

This was fate.

This was a message.

The very thought of it gave her strength. She'd not fail again.

The assortment of magical items, tools and devices caught her eyes of course, but her lips remained sealed. She'd not scar these peoples lives, and then add insult to injury by asking for a lend of their wealth. No. If, when, they deemed her worthy of any of these tools, then she'd gratefully accept. But not till invited.

[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

6 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 32 Current: 23, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 4, Ref 5, Will 5, Base Attack Bonus 3
Longbow +6 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +3 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 16 Current: 16, Speed 15ft
AC 20, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link, Speak with master


Wrenwil: Nervous Desserts

“Don't stare, friends. I’d rather that beast not angered. Let's pray that it is not to become another of our ever-present issues,” Wrenwil whispered to his companions, Ordechai and Alic.

“One day we shall have a meal such as this, without such unsettling eyes upon us. Ah, these old bones do protest. Dare I take time to rest, pray and thank Pentos that the three of us continue to breathe this cursed land's air."

Wrenwil of course, was trying to put on a brave face for the benefit of his friends. But a sprinkling of deep concern was obvious in the deep wrinkles of his brow and dark sagging shadows at the base of his eyes.

"The debts to my god are heavy this night.”

He sighed.

"If it is anything of a reassurance, in my younger years... perhaps whilst better steered by a desire for self-preservation, most of my interaction with the world was through books. One can keep a comfortable distance from things, when they are mere text on a page, collected by some other... braver soul."

"From what I remember of life matching our new friend's description, the Minotaur is not known to associate with others peacefully, nor have a man's feet, or cause to indulge in the arts and benefits of steel. This is indeed... something to think about."

[sblock=Wrenwil Stats]
WRENWIL - a tough old boot on a terrible holiday

6, Init 2, HP 31/38, Speed 30
AC 15, Touch 13, Flat-footed 13, Fort 7, Ref 6, Will 11, Base Attack Bonus 4
Masterwork Staff +5 to hit (d6+3)
Spells: 4/4/3/2


High in the Great Drakeshvar Valley

R'ad Alim said:
Ra'd Alim considers the elder carefully. By now, they offered no disparaging comment. And he IS aware they know about his injuries, he just doesn't want to show the pain. Thus, he sits slowly but doesn't let the sound of his pain escape into the outside world.

"I will listen. The history of my people is long and well kept. I learned hard way that details can be lost to time. Tell your tale and we share chang. But I take no obligation to you or yours." he adds at the end, still suspicious.

Sogam Kashmir: "I remember the day my father, the former Khan, answered the call to make war on the valley. I was only a boy, I did not understand the need for it. Back then Djonfang merchants came up to our villages fairly regularly, trading spices, silks and gold for yakswool, dragonglass, and ice. For us poor lads, the lands of the valley always sounded like a paradise. Farms and orchards full of fresh fruit and produce, calm streams and lakes warmed by the sun. Some of the older lads got to travel down to the valley once a year during the summer, before the mountain passes became too dangerous with threats of avalanche."

Ayuoso: "I was so lucky once." He interjects with a smile.

Sogam Kashmir: Continues. "During the winters I heard many tales of the powerful dragon shamans, ruling over the people and their dragons alike, keeping the peace with their mysterious sorcery. The Djonfang did not seem much like enemies to me. Nevertheless, my father said all Khans had a duty to obey the RajKhan, unless they had the nerve to challenge and replace him. As he marched away with all the warriors the villages could spare to join ranks with the RajKhans army, I couldn't help but wish that he would challenge the RajKhan so he could call off the war altogether."

"Less than a fortnight later, barely half a dozen of our tribes warriors returned. These men looked utterly defeated, overcome with grief and horror. Some were badly wounded with burns the likes of which I'd never seen. When I pressed them to speak of my father, they only said one thing... DRAGONFIRE!" He states in a haunted voice, pausing to let his gaze stare into the flames of the cookfire. "...All there was left of him to bury beneath the family shrine were ashes..." He grimaces.

"There is an old saying among my people. 'Evil in a position of power is the cruelest form of power.' There is also another saying among the Maharathans in the south 'When a king is about to lose his power his orders burn more intensely than fire.'"

"My father died because the RajKhan decided to play war with the masters of the dragons. By all rights it should have been the RajKhan himself who perished, not my father. Grief-stricken though we were, myself and the other fatherless boys had to grow up fast. The loss of so many able-bodied men was a great hardship on the tribe. That first winter after the war was brutal. Some of the widows, including my mother, had to trade away whatever valuables they had left for further food and provisions."

Ayuoso Kashmir: "I remember that winter well little brother." He adds.

Sogam Kashmir: Nods. "You were one of the only boys left old enough to hunt. Were it not for you, we might not have managed it." He says placing a thankful hand on Ayuoso's shoulder briefly before returning his attention to you, R'ad Alim.

"Nobody ever explained the war to my satisfaction, though few enough of my tribesman yet lived who spent any time with the RajKhan. No one could tell me what sort of man he was. When summer came again, the RajKhan's men came back, as usual, to collect the annual tribute. They assembled us all into the center of the village and demanded to know who was now Khan."

"My mother spoke up, stepping forward clutching one of my fathers spears and spare shields. It was not unheard of for a woman to be a Khan among my people, but the RajKhan's men laughed at her, and I HATED them for that. She let them take what they wanted from the village, what little was left of value, and went away with them to swear loyalty to the RajKhan in the name of the Harachaandee."

"When she returned, she told me what she could about our ruler. That he was a vile, impetuous, greedy and violent man. The sort of Djondarma who gives the rest of us a bad name as bloodthirsty bandits. His rise to defeat the former RajKhan was always rumored to have been a sort of backstabbing, arranged by other like-minded khans who hated having their hands tied by the honorable minded."

"She also told me he kept strange company of foreign advisers, sorcerers, and dishonest merchants. She believed it was these wicked councilors who poisoned his thoughts towards your people, the Djonfang. She also learned that my father had indeed, tried to speak up against the war, and was immediately ordered to be one of the first Khans leading the vanguard."

"Every year she had a chance to visit the RajKhan to present our annual tribute, she did so, bringing back more names, more information about his court. She also visited other Khans, sharing what we could spare to ease their hardships, and form renewed friendships with others who hated the RajKhan. By then I was old enough to stand as a warrior, eventually taking my fathers place as Khan, since my older brother chose to become a druid instead."

Ayuoso: Interrupts "It is not so much a choice as it is a calling to become a druid brother." He interrupts.

Sogam Kashmir: "Once I was Khan I tried to do as my mother had, as she instructed me to do, to visit the RajKhan and gather information about his court. But the RajKhan did not forget the way my father spoke against the war, and he decided I was likely to be a troublemaker before I even met him. When his men came to collect our tribute, I went back with them, as was custom, but they attempted to murder me before we ever reached the RajKhan's fortress."

"I've been living on the lamb ever since, hiding my face, spending many years abroad in Maharatha or the mountain lowlands, assorting with but avoiding the same bandits and dishonest merchants the RajKhan invites to his court. Secretly I am still known as the former-Khan of the Harachaandee, but I dare not show my face in my home again."

"When I met Guo Jiang and heard his claims about the corruption among the dragon shamans, and heard about you, R'ad Alim, a thought occurred to me, that perhaps we were fated to meet. Two men, wronged by our unjust rulers, left for dead for no good cause... Survivors! We could do well to help each other and seek justice."

"I have a family now, a wife, two fine warrior children, the very same who keep watch over our camp now in fact. I do not want them to live their lives in perpetual exile as I have. I have secrets to share with you, knowledge of plots and dangerous forces at work trying to seize control over this region and this valley in particular."

"I don't bear any ill-will against you or any other Djonfang, but from what Guo Jiang tells me your leaders don't sound much better than mine. I'd rather help you prevent the same sort of corruption that cost my people so dearly. Does that sound agreeable to you?" He asks pouring himself a bowl of Chang.

[R'ad Alim: What do you do?]
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