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11/16/2019 10:48 pm  #41

Re: Xambaala Nights, or "What I did on my holiday"

South we went, cutting along the marge of the desert between the sparse sandy fields around Xambaala and the encroaching dunes.  We made good time for a change, and shortly we came upon a large hut perched on a rise overlooking the sea and town both. The roughly thatched dwelling was made of driftwood and old planks scavenged from the strand.  The door was a tattered hide scraped thin. Our inquiring hails were met by a muttering old man who, with hesitant but welcoming gestures, invited us inside.

The interior of the hut was gloomy and cluttered with the detritus of the ages: worn clothing and shoes, broken tools and discarded bones. Ancient furniture loomed just beyond the fitful light of a single fish-oil lamp. Scraps of ragged netting and tattered cloth hung from lines strung between the driftwood poles supporting the roof. With a grand sweep of his spindly arm, our host offered us a light repast consisting of a portion of the glutinous stew that was burping ominously in a battered kettle. We exchanged dubious glances. He proclaimed himself “The Theosophist”, and the stew contained fish.  Both utterances inspired little confidence, but Lycos accepted his offer with enthusiasm.
As a place to rest, the hut was ideal.  It was remote from Xambaala, but I thought it would be improved immeasurably by the removal of both its current desiccated inhabitant and his noisome stew.  Portentous looks passed between us. Snowdog sat in the doorway and honed his already razor-sharp knife. However, oblivious to our silent plotting, Lycos squatted next to the pot, ladled a hefty portion into a dusty earthenware bowl, and with his lips smacking set to with gusto.  The doom-laden moment passed.

To the accompaniment of Lycos’ contented grunts and slurps, the old man regaled us with tales of Xambaala’s storied past.  I had never been so bored. It was as if a mouldering tome achieved some kind of dreadful unlife in front of us and spewed forth interminable sentences freighted with tangled subjunctive clauses, esoteric references, and unnecessarily sesquipedalian and archaic terms.  Ancient vistas, men and women of distinction came and went, wars, plagues, lawyerly disputes, passed before our eyes, all obscured by clouds of words. At some point even Lycos, his beard and face spotted and smeared with fishy juices and clutching an empty bowl, beetled his brow at the man in pained confusion. Behind even Snowdog’s stolid countenance could be seen a barely restrained impulse to sudden violence, if only to stem the rising tide of numbing verbiage.

At long last he rambled to a stop.  The only sound was the heaving and puffing of the stew pot on the fire. The old man looked at us expectantly, then dug into his ear with a dirty finger and examined the result.  He looked as if he had said all he was going to say. As if he were a child in school, Gunnar hesitantly raised a hand. “Sir, you mentioned, um, a warlord’s palace or something? And a jewel?”

Given that prompting, the man seemed to come alive again.  Yes, he explained, the Warlord’s Palace in the desert east of town concealed a great treasure, a great shining jewel, one which only he, the Theosophist, could plumb the secrets of. If we would recover and return it to him, he would give us a great reward.  To ease our way, he would give us a scroll of great potency for us to do with what we wished. We looked at each other knowing we finally had an objective, instead of just wandering about reacting. We were now masters of our own destiny.

Lycos was picking his teeth with a fishbone. “I’ll do it,” he said. “Only If I can I have more of that stew.”

-- Bytorr the Necromancer, The Theosophist's Hut

Last edited by Hackhamster (11/21/2019 9:58 pm)

"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - review

11/17/2019 3:47 am  #42

Re: Xambaala Nights, or "What I did on my holiday"

😂 hilarious!


11/17/2019 11:58 am  #43

Re: Xambaala Nights, or "What I did on my holiday"

Thanks! Been cooped up at home this week fighting a cold so my productivity has been up. Finally, our intrepid adventurers are poised at the cusp of the dungeon crawl. Huzzah! Of course, after many trials and tribulations, we completed the adventure two weeks ago, and I'm racing to catch up before we start something else, in the employ of the Witch Queen perhaps?

Stay tuned for their further Astonishing adventures.

"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - review
     Thread Starter

11/21/2019 11:11 pm  #44

Re: Xambaala Nights, or "What I did on my holiday"

Returning to the sands, we returned along the path to the village, now to all observation deserted, and past it, to where the track around the pond led into the higher dunes.  Soon we approached the shallow dell where we left the bodies heaped around the central fire. All that remained were bones gnawed clean. A curious pyramid of stacked ribs was topped with a polished skull. A circular hole showed where the brain had been.. sucked out?  Writhing tracks were tumbled all around in the sand. Snowdog peered about, his stoicism unpierced. “I think we should move on,” was all he said.

The tracks of the man-eating cultists led further to the East, and thence we followed warily, backtracking them to their lair.  Several dusty but uneventful miles later, we came across the fabled Warlord’s Palace. It was a dump. High walls of plastered mud-brick extended between tumbled-down towers on the corners.  A broad dome, cracked across the middle surmounted the whole thing, which was being consumed by a towering dune from the rear. The plaster was cracked and the bricks crumbling. In the center of the wall, the tracks we followed entered a massive pair of splintered wooden doors strapped with greening copper bands.  The doors were just open enough to permit a single man to pass.

Well, of course, you never enter the first door opened to you, and even though we had destroyed several of the cannibals, there was no sign we had reached the end of them.  And despite the ramshackle condition of their lair, it was huge and it could conceal a great number more foemen. We resolved, therefore, to work our way around the perimeter and search for a less obtrusive entrance.With Snowdog in the lead, we passed around the site to the south.  We saw no movement on the battlements, but the walls held enough cracks and gaps that innumerable eyes could have observed our progress with ease.  We passed around the south-western corner, and the looming wall blocked the sun, wrapping us in purple shadow. Along the southern wall, we traversed in single file, while above us flaking murals showed the triumph of a Warlord long dead.  Everything was quiet. Of a sudden, Snowdog paused and sniffed the air. He slowly approached the wall and poked into the sands beneath it with his spearpoint. He sniffed again. “Meat,” he said. “Dig here.”

Naturally, I keep certain tools with me to expedite my researches, so the shovel and pickaxe were quickly grasped by burly hands and the sand flew.  In no time at all, a gap in the wall showed a downward slope leading into darkness. Snowdog crept into the opening, and then slid down out of our sight.  In short order, we heard a softly called all clear, and we followed in a file. Below, we reassembled in a dimly-lit broad low-ceilinged hall awash in sand.  Indeed, a strong odor of searing meat was in the air, and it seemed to come from a closed door to the west.  “Shall we, gentlemen?” 

-- Bytorr the Necromancer, the Warlord's Palace

Last edited by Hackhamster (11/21/2019 11:16 pm)

"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - review
     Thread Starter

12/12/2019 10:09 pm  #45

Re: Xambaala Nights, or "What I did on my holiday"

I really like the perspective of the necromancer as you continue the campaign!  Keep up the great work!

Other bands play, Manowar kill!

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