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5/24/2019 12:43 pm  #21

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

The walls of the tomb bore witness to our folly, It had been all for naught. The priest lay dead on the dusty floor, his eyeless face contorted into a silent howl of agony and terror. At rest, his slack pallid flesh was in stark contrast to the hours of straining and furious convulsions our attentions had inflicted upon him, and his person held no more secrets from us.  Those he had fought to keep unspoken were, once we had broken him utterly, banal and inconsequential. If I had been a weaker man, I would have felt pity that he had died for so little.  Instead I burned with disgust that we had drawn no closer to our goal.

For the effort, his capture and killing had been a waste of time for such a paltry bounty.  Under our hands, the sneering pederast readily admitted to his debased lusts, giving details unbidden in his eagerness to appease us.  We didn't care.  Eventually, he gave up the scant secrets of his temple, and then everything else and more.  His babbling turned to screams once we fed the rat into the slit in his belly, but by then we had heard enough.

Snowdog sat back on his haunches, digging under his black rimmed nails with a thin knife.  He had phlegmatically participated in the priest's extirpation as if he was simply gutting a fish, and now was no different.  When I went to work, I could feel my power rise up through me, and I would quiver with the passion of it.  The Esquimeaux went from moment to moment with stolid complacency no matter if he was eating a bowl of gruel, watching for hours on guard, or cutting a man's eyes out of his head.  I wondered what would it would take to get him excited, but part of me quailed at the thought.  Maybe it would be better not to know.

To have some measure of privacy, we had brought our captive back up to the tombs we had explored where his echoing cries would disturb naught but the sands and ubiquitous blowflies.  Once we were done, we enclosed him in one of he sarcophagi that had been previously looted, sealing the lid with mud.  I might have a use for him later. Having nothing else better to do, we explored the sections of the complex that remained unknown.

Several rooms and coffins filled with worthless rubbish and dry bones later, we forced a heavy door into the largest room yet.  It was wide and deep, and the hieroglyphs on the walls were of higher quality than in the other chambers.  In the corner of the room rose a low dais with a massive catafalque upon it.  Warily we probed the shadows for danger as we both felt some thrill of presentiment, but the rest of the room was empty.  After some quick work with a crowbar, we discovered some minor jewelry and coins.  Amid the funerary remnants I did detect a small crevice in the base of the cavity, and...

"Master, you may want to turn around...." Snowdog nodded with his chin towards the center of the room, where a formless shape was rising from the floor with a liquid sucking sound. Bytorr the Necromancer, The Overlords Tomb

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/13/2019 8:24 am)

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

7/13/2019 8:58 am  #22

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

The thing was a dim glistening man-shape in the gloom, its arms outstretched towards us. At my command, Trotter (who miraculously reappeared just in time!) lurched his smokey porcine carcass at the apparition as a distraction for Snowdog to impale the abomination. Trotter blundered along and ran against the thing, but a mere wave of it’s hand rendered it into rapidly dissolving putrescent yet still hammy ooze. Snowdog hurled a spear at it which pierced it deeply, but the weapon dissolved just the same. He tried his remaining spear, aiming a mighty blow at its head. It landed true, but the return blow rotted the armor off his body. It came on with a lurching slithering gait. I had never seen an undead of this kind, and we appeared powerless to stop it.

With a quick sprint around, we reached the door and headed out towards the dunes.With labored breath, I consulted with Snowdog, who suggested fire might be the way to kill it. I concurred, and we returned to the Xambaala for re-supply. In the bazaar, we purchased extra torches and a large cask of lamp oil, with which to lay a trap. Returning across the desert, we warily approached the tomb. It was empty. Of Trotter, there was no sign.We prepared our killing zone, pouring out the oil in a pool in the center of the room. Our plan was to lure the thing across the oil, light it, and then pelt it with missiles. Very quickly was our stratagem put to the test.

The thing arose from the floor again near the door and lurched toward us. When it reached the oil, I threw in the torch. An inferno consumed it and thick oily smoke hid it’s demise from our view. However, our self-congratulatory smirks of victory were short-lived, for a silver silhouette formed in the flames, and it strode out unharmed! Again in frustrated humiliation we fell back into the main hallway, whereupon we were pursued by our shambling but relentless adversary.

With sling-stones and spears, daggers and curses we pelted it as we backpedaled towards the tomb’s opening into the desert. The lambent rays of the setting sun beaming into the shaft illuminating the thing, bathing it in sinister carmine effulgence. It was unstoppable! No damage we inflicted seemed to effect it the slightest. Every weapon that struck it simply dissolved. The holocaust we effected resulted in only our skulking withdrawal.

In my mind’s eye, our fate was sealed. It would pursue us until with exhaustion we finally collapsed, and then enfold us in its caustic arms, feeding upon our physical matrix and erasing us from existence in a blistering deliquescing embrace. Despondent terror filled me.  At the last, muttering a bleak request for his dread god’s blessing, Snowdog flung his ultimate spear with a mighty heave. The missile flew true, impaling the thing’s shapeless head. With a sudden shudder, it paused, the spear transfixing it. Then to our amazed relief, with a nigh inaudible pop, our enemy splashed into a puddle of motionless gray sludge.  Bytorr the Necromancer, The Overlords Tomb

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/13/2019 2:30 pm)

"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - rpg.net review
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7/17/2019 9:38 am  #23

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

Stunned by the sudden cessation of immediate peril, we caught our breath, the only sounds being the susurrus of sand blowing over the dunes and the low moan of wind in the rocks.  The heartbeat hammering in my chest subsided as the lowering Sun feeebly lit the sand in a wash of deepest indigo. Slowly we crept back into the passageway, alert for any new danger, but the deliquescing ooze on the floor only trembled slightly to our footsteps.  Snowdog retrieved his weapon from the floor, shook some cloudy globules off its tip and peered at it with a squint.  Its head seemed slightly pitted, but the fire-hardened shaft was sound.  

"Good spear," he grunted laconically as he hefted it in his scarred right hand and I relit our lantern.  We moved deeper into the gloom.

More exploration of the tomb revealed more bones and assorted brass and copper trinkets, but in a secret compartment under the great sarcophagus we found a brazen tube a cubit in length and a few loose gems that glittered brightly in our lamplight.  Cracking the seal of the tube, we found therein a crackling scroll indited with strange glyphs.  I sensed it was a magical document, but not one I found familiar to me, so I carefully rolled it back up and returned it to it's tube.

With this last bit of loot, it seemed we had enough to free my idiot companions from bondage, but I was sure that simply walking into the prison with a sack of coins and demanding their release was going to cause quite a stir.  How was I to effect their parole while not alerting the temple, who surely had spies about the place, to their absence?  I could not afford greater enmity with the temple and it's preists. We needed a diversion of sorts while I made the transaction, but my imagination was blank.  Then, Mother thumped up against the side of her jar demanding my attention. Bytorr the Necromancer, The Overlords Tomb

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/17/2019 10:23 am)

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

7/17/2019 11:01 am  #24

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

The corpse lurched and shambled into the outskirts of Xambaala, its bloody sacerdotal robes dragging in the sand.  The dead priest's jaw was clenched under his flayed cheeks and weeping empty eye sockets.  Skin hung in tatters from its wrecked form.  Passersby who got a glimpse of its dread countenance ran screaming into alleys and doorways. In its lipless mouth, between its remaining teeth, was gripped like a incongruously jaunty cigar a small parchment tube. 

At a discrete distance but still under my malign command, we followed its appalling peregrination towards the center of town.  It was stumbling and reeling along now, its toes worn and stripped of flesh as it walked across the rough stony ground.  Perhaps we should have left its sandals on.  Rumor of its coming swept through the bazaar ahead of us, and from behind carts and stalls peered eyes wide with fright as it passed.  Toward the great temple of Helios it turned, raising its face and arms in ghastly salute as it crossed the square and trod the steps up to the great door.  Every eye in this pestilential excuse for a city was drawn to its mutilated fist as it clenched, swung back, and pounded on the brazen portal like the knell of the sun's final breath.

Meanwhile, we had entered the arena gaol and found and paid our agent, and after gently urging him to greater speed in his counting, our friends were released to my custody, but not without a jocular comment or two at their expense.  Questions were raised and demands made as we exited into the deserted bazaar, but I counseled silence as we made our way back to the caravanserai.  The viking looked back towards the temple and noted the crowd gathered at a respectful distance.  The great doors were open and a huddle of priests was attending to a toppled form at the top of the steps.

"What goes on there? " he asked. "Damn priests, always causing a commotion."

"Indeed," I replied.

 Bytorr the Necromancer, Xambaala

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/17/2019 11:20 am)

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

7/18/2019 10:22 am  #25

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

Candles dripping rivulets of wax were at the four points about me on the floor as I sat in our room at the inn, the ebon staff across my knees. My eyes were shut and breath even as I sent my spirit winging into the realm of shadow.  While I attempted to part the tenebrous curtains of ignorance drawn across my vision, the others were downstairs celebrating their new freedom with excessive drink and jocular shouting.  Even my taciturn slave sat on a bench, befuddled with drink and thumping his jack in time to some obscene sea chanty.  No doubt they even caroused with the slatterns that infested the place like lice on a dog.  Most likely they would ascend the stairs in the small hours of the night,  freshly diseased and staggering and stupefied with liquor, the purses betwixt their legs as empty of seed as those at their belts were of the coin I had provided them.  Did I receive thanks?  No, but I neither sought nor expected gratitude anyways from such rough characters.  Myself, I was contented with a cup of mare's milk sprinkled with spices, a rare treat indeed, and retired early to our chamber, hoping to use my time to my advantage.  Mother approved my prudent behavior and spun lazily in her jar.

The open window brought in a scent of spice from the desert sands to the east, freshening the air of the stifling room and clearing my senses.  The more my mind explored the staff, the greater the vistas shown to me and the defter my control over its functions.  Words of knowledge and power were whispered in my ear by ancient voices dry with dusty centuries.  Wielding the staff, I could cast globes of darkness, sense the presence of unlife, and cast a beam of consuming weakness that would steal the heart of a man and drain his strength like water from a leaky bucket.  I could feel echoes of other even more puissant abilities deeper within its gnarled shaft, but they were unclear.  I was afforded tantalizing glimpses that set the heart racing but were almost instantly hidden from view, much as a coy maiden would show her ankle in the street with a saucy flip of her petticoat.  My pulse pounded in my temples and my chest became tight as I strove with the veils of shadow over my vision, but as much as I strained my arcane faculties, I could not perceive the key to the puzzle. Eventually fatigue overcame me and I found my mind wandering, a perilous state for examining the necromantic arts as even the most minor of spirits could shuck my unwarded spirit from my body as easy as an oyster from its shell, so I went to my cot. Sweet oblivion overcame me.  Bytorr the Necromancer, Xambaala

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/18/2019 10:24 am)

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

7/18/2019 11:34 am  #26

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

I have the whole second page of to get caught up on, but I'm really enjoying this! 

HYPERBOREA- A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Science-Fantasy

7/18/2019 12:55 pm  #27

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

I know, right? He’s writing the tale of our Xambaala game like a true master. He should probably be the DM instead of me, lol. I’m just not that colorful of a game master. 😂


7/18/2019 1:28 pm  #28

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

My pleasure! Honestly, I get a kick out of this Lovecraft/CAS/REH pastiche I'm working on.  Someone complains about the purple-prose, I know I'm doing it right.

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/18/2019 1:30 pm)

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

7/18/2019 1:30 pm  #29

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

My nipples were flaring points of fiery agony as I was wrenched suddenly from a dream of grape-peeling gauzily-clad houris and hauled upward from the depths of unconsciousness like a fish on a hook.  My eyes shot open, and my startled gaze was filled with the hairy breech-clout wearing tree-priest crouched over me, glaring redfaced with bloodshot eyes into mine.  I must have screamed, for his fierce pinch-knuckled grip on my abused bits of tender flesh ceased, the tormenting ferocity of his grasp leaving me bruised, perhaps maimed and disfigured for all I knew.  My nipples would never be the same.

“He’s awake now,” the druid said as he dismounted my bedside.  The Viking dragged his mail corslet over his head and grabbed his axe.  My chest throbbed as I hugged myself. “Someone has drugged us, and our retainers are gone.”  I looked around wildly, not seeing Gunter and Snowdog.  Their bedding was rumpled and strewn about, their belongings still on floor.  

“Maybe they are at the jakes?” I queried. 

The Viking motioned to the door.  It was locked, and from the inside. “Explain that. Get your skinny arse moving Lord of Darkness, I have a bad feeling about this,” he said.  I shook the cobwebs from my mind as I gathered myself. From the window, the distant throbbing of drums could be heard from over the dunes. Bytorr the Necromancer, Xambaala

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/23/2019 10:46 am)

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

7/18/2019 4:16 pm  #30

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

Following a rough trail scuffed into the sand, we filed out of town into the moonless night.  The air was still and heavy, pulsing to the thrumming beat of the distant drum.  Every hovel and house we passed was barred and closed up tight, but sometimes we could catch a fearful eye peering through a cracked shutter.  A child gave a cry quickly hushed. Leaving the town behind, we climbed into the true desert, where a multitude of tracks illuminated by the flickering stars led in a broad swath ahead of us.  It was child’s play to follow.

Very soon, we came upon a small oasis consisting of a scrubby ring of palms around a muddy pool.  From the shabby rundown huts and lean-tos faint snores and grumblings could be heard.  The drums, while louder now, were beyond the scant village.  A faint glow against the sky at the horizon dimmed the lower stars.  On we crept.

Following the track, we climbed and descended a series of high dunes, until the drum seemed to thunder from the sky about us, accompanied by a jagged obbligato of piercing shrieks and guttural chanting in counterpoint.  Crawling to the crest of the next dune, we stared wide-eyed down into a scene of unimaginable demonic revelry.

Nearly a dozen stripped and shaggy figures danced about a circle of fires set in a rough oval about a series of five stout stakes set in the ground.  The stakes each held the motionless form of a man or woman, it was hard to tell.  With a shock, we could see one of the captives was obviously dead, slumped in their ropes with their entrails hanging to the ground.  The frenzied dancers spun and cavorted, holding chunks of offal to their mouths and tearing off chunks which were chewed and gobbled down.  As they capered past the stake, they would slash with their knives and cut off another portion to consume with gleeful abandon, blood running down their chins and necks in a wet flood as they partook of their unholy sacrament. In the center of the oval, a giant savage flailed at a pair of skin drums in a primal rhythm.

With a start, I could see that one of the forms bound below was indeed Snowdog, and the other was Gunter’s Viking retainer.  It appeared they were being reserved for the main course.  Apparently Snowdog was awake, as I could see him strain futilely at his bonds.  The cannibals laughed at his efforts and baring their sharped teeth licked their knives.  His turn would be soon, they promised.  Bytorr the Necromancer, Desert Near Xambaala

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/19/2019 2:21 pm)

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

7/19/2019 12:08 pm  #31

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

From our perch on the dune, we watched as the rite below became even more frenzied, if that were possible.  The gutting of the next victim began apace and the screams and howls of the victims blended with those of their butchers in a grisly harmony as still quivering gobbets of their flesh were consumed greedily before their eyes.  There were at least ten of the cultists, maybe more if the flames and darkness had not confused our count.  There were yet three of us, and only one a true warrior.  Our time to ponder our options was scant.  We conferred quickly and readied ourselves for our likely demise.

My stomach roiled within me and my hands shook.  I had heard once the phrase of girding one’s loins.  Standing there in the night, before a crisis where such girding would no doubt be advantageous, I was at a loss to know where to begin.  I sufficed with reaching under my robe and tightening my loin cloth.  As it drew my parts up snug, I saw the wisdom of not flopping about while running and fighting and guessed it might be the likely origin of the saying.  All I knew was I felt more girded than I had been and it was a comfort.  Then I realized the inanity of my thoughts and saw I was distracting myself from what might shortly be my death.  Given my profession and expertise, I knew that ultimate state like few others, but it was always that of another. In this case, I knew with certainty where my soul would go after my vital spark was extinguished, and I found myself without eagerness to experience that final journey just yet.  Then, behind me, I heard a splashing.

Birgir had backed off a pace or two, and was pissing off the side of the dune in a long splattering arc.  He finished with a flourish and a shake, buttoned up and saw me gaping at him.  He grinned, “Always have a good piss before a fight, my sire always said.”

“Does it help?”

“Well, he actually said to take a nice long s*** first, but I don’t think our friends down there will just wait around while we take a squat, you think?  Yep, pissing down your leg in a fight is just embarrassing, and a wet boot squelching on your foot is never comfortable.”

I couldn’t help myself, but I laughed.  “Your father was wise.”

Birgir grunted.  His face lost its mirth. “Well, when he was dead he sure smelled better than the others.  Battle awaits.” He began muttering to himself, swinging his axe about his head in slow wide arcs, shaking his head and stamping his feet more firmly into his boots.  The nipple-ravaging tree-hugger took his arrows out of his quiver and thrust them into the sand in a neat cluster and strung his bow.  I grasped my staff with a white-knuckled grip and took up some of Snowdog and Gunnar’s gear and tied it over my other shoulder with a bit of rope.  We were as ready as we would ever be. 

Birgir quivered with anticipation.  He had bitten his lips, and a bloody froth dripped into his beard. With a deep inhalation and toothy crimson grin at us he was gone over the top of the dune like a ghost, sand flying in high arcs from his pistoning sandals.  The druid drew back on his bow, aimed and released two arrows as quick as thought and looked at me as if to say, “Shouldn’t you be somewhere else right now?” I went.

Ahead of me, Birgir sprinted down the side of the dune and accelerated to the rightward end of the group, brandishing his battle axe over his head like a broken shard of moonlight. He would draw the fiends to him there, away from our helpless comrades.  Ahead of him in his downward plunge, a hapless savage was preoccupied with masticating a raggedly severed ear and took no notice of his approach.  Suddenly, the eyes of one of his co-religionists on the other side of the ceremonial circle grew large, and he began to howl and gesticulate, just in time for Birgir’s chosen target to turn into the downward plunging arc of his axe, splitting his head from crown to nape.  A fountain of blood sprayed upwards, bathing Birgir’s face and chest with gore.  Licking his lips with relish, he gave voice to a lupine howl and wrenched his axe free with a splattering of brains.  With a crazed stare, he swung his axe left and right in an unstoppable swath of destruction, smashing the ribs of one who fell twitching at his feet, and cleaving the shoulder of the other till the axe head jammed in the bone.  With a scream of fury, he planted a boot on the other’s chest and kicked him off his weapon to fall in a crumpled heap on the sand.  Three more came at him with arms outstretched and teeth bared. Shaking his blood-spraying axe at the night sky in defiance, he greeted them joyfully.  All else had slowed about him. Sand flew up from the desert floor. He could see the grains tumble.  Blood flew in ruby arcs in the night air, beautiful and slow as falling snowflakes.  Birgir massive form moved with the lithe grace and power of a great cat.  His mighty thews pulsed with strength, his axe was light as a moonbeam in his hands, and his blows struck like the lightning.  He was Death there on the sands, and he laughed as he welcomed his enemies to their doom.

Behind Birgir, I ran to the left towards the bound Snowdog and Gunter, holding my staff before me like a spear. One of the cannibals was down with an arrow in his shoulder, the other two looking wildly around for its source.  Another arrow dropped out of the night and took one in the leg.  They saw me and pointed, but I unleashed the power of the staff, englobing our servants in a sphere of midnight.  I plunged into it and drew my knife.

Fumbling in the dark, I found Snowdog and began slashing at his bonds.  “Master, a weapon!”  Withdrawing it from the bundle on my shoulder, I pressed into his hand the hilt of his scimitar the moment his bonds were cut.  I moved onto Gunnar, and repeated the process, giving his axe.  From without the sheltering darkness, the screams of the cultists had turned from triumphant to panicked to horrible ejaculations of agony as the frenzied Birgir took to chopping his foes into so much meat.  Strangely enough, the drummer still beat his drums, lost in whatever far landscapes of rhythm he roamed.  A clash of metal and I heard Snowdog gasp as he took a blow.  The drumming abruptly ceased in mid-stroke with a high squeal as the mad percussionist was hit in a tender area.  I left the protecting darkness, my staff before me.  The battle was not yet decided. Bytorr the Necromancer, Desert Near Xambaala

Last edited by Hackhamster (7/19/2019 2:21 pm)

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

7/19/2019 2:14 pm  #32

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

😂 Birgir sure did get some incredibly good rolls while berserked. Very nice accounting of the battle (so far).


8/11/2019 9:06 pm  #33

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

Birgir’s Edda

Wolves arise, call moon-rise,
Scent of blood, rushing flood,
Howl arose, charging close,
Spark of fire, chaos gyre,
Axe crash, teeth gnash,
Claw rends, byrnie fends,
Limbs entangle, crushing strangle,
Red blood gout, battle shout,
Foemen tumble, slack mouths mumble, 
Sand grind, entrails unwind,
Death stare, end aware,
Glorious fight, thews of might,
Brand swinging, death-bringing,
Steel song, sing strong,
Lungs fill, iron will,
Ware fate, Doom awaits. 

Last edited by Hackhamster (8/11/2019 9:12 pm)

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

8/12/2019 3:40 am  #34

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

Hah! A necromancer skald!


10/06/2019 1:18 pm  #35

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

A lambent beam of crimson searing my eyelids woke me from uneasy dreams. I was chased by red demons belaboring me over the head with giant spiky fruit, whilst gibbering in abominably accented street Ixian amateurly composed Hyperborean love poetry. Waking was not an improvement.  I groaned and tried to roll over, but my clothing was tangled about my clammy limbs, and I fell back. My limbs were stiff, my muscles ached, and my skull pounded like the drums we had heard throbbing across the night. Considering the vast quantity of liquor I had bibbed the past evening, the condition of my mouth does not bear relating. 

I squinted against the glare, and saw I was abed on some rotting rushes strewn on the floor of a dilapidated hut.  
 I was surrounded by the detritus of the feasting and quaffing that had gone far into the night.  Birgir, our hero, was laying on his back up against a palm tree, snoring loudly while a piebald jackal broke his fast lapping up the pool of vomit spreading across his beard and jerkin.  The fruits of his victory were indeed grand. The edda boasting of his triumph he kept murmuring about would likely elide this coda to his evening. 

Emaciated children with distended bellies poked at the fire and ran screaming about the village waving burning sticks and palm fronds.  Aged crones moved about with slow purpose, presumably to prepare nutriment from whatever squalid ingredients they could scavenge. My stomach rebelled at the thought of food, but groaning with the effort I hoisted my abused body from the floor and straightened my robes.  I could not project the aura of gravitas appropriate to my station looking like some rumpled street fakir. 

We had entered the village in less a victory parade than a halting trudge.  The deep sand dragged at our feet, and the fatigue of yet another night awake numbed our minds.  Birgir slouched forward, blood splashed liberally over his body and bits of flesh lodged in his shaggy mane and beard. The two villagers we had rescued had moved faster than we, and with nary a word of thanks jogged ahead of us, presumably to prepare a victory celebration.  Upon skirting the shore of a small pond, we entered the village to silence and sullen stares. Dim forms crouched in their huts motionless as idols as we stood like loons. Eventually, an older man criss-crossed in scars and a ragged gray beard approached, and asked us our business. 

With incredulity, we replied that we had just rescued two of their number from certain death at the hands of the cannibals, and as such we deserved if not adulation at least a modicum of appreciation, rather than this uncanny opprobrium. The hetman replied that maybe it would have been better for the men to have perished rather than draw the vengeance of the flesh-eaters, for their thirst for flesh would have at least been sated for another month, and slaves were numerous and not missed.  Now the sharp-toothed ones would descend on his village and slay them all. Haughtily Birgir replied that we had slain them all, and they would no longer bother this poor hamlet among the palms, and by the way, do you have anything to drink?

The hetman considered us.  “They were but a handful of sand in the desert.  They are vast and powerful, and they rape from us what they will.  Did you truly wish to help us, you would rid us of the monster in yonder water.  It is that killer that is truly oppressing us. A boy fishing there disappeared with a great spash and the other fishermen must now go all the way to the sea for their catch. Great claw footed prints can be seen on the shore.” he recited.  “Kill this thing for us so that our village will live, and we can speak of other things later.” 

At the thought of a monster to be had, Snowdog’s ears pricked forward.  This sounded like a job for him. Immediately he went to work while the rest of us dozed under the palms.  Soon, Snowdog had a small group of youths working under his direction, chopping palm logs, slinging ropes, and digging pits by the pond.  His vigor soon rubbed off on his helpers, and sand and wood chips flew. The stories related by the villagers of their foe had it being a giant creature, low to the ground but long and wide, with a massive toothy maw.  At each telling, it became larger and more menacing. By the end, without any irony the thing was larger than the village itself, they were lucky to have survived its predation this long, and our pestering it would only make it angry.  Our own deaths were of course inevitable.   

This kind of optimism was a comic backdrop to Snowdog’s industriousness, as he seemed undaunted by the prospect of being consumed by some man-eating wild beast.  Perhaps he was too focused on the task at hand to be distracted by defeatist maundering over his certain grisly end, for rather quickly he had his preparations complete.  We all took our assigned places. A shallow trench some ten paces long and a bare handspan deep was scraped clear from the pond’s shoreline up into the trees.  At the edge of the water, a youngster held a long pole from which depended a firmly trussed pullet. Squawking and clucking in distress, the chicken dangled above the murky brown waters.  The faint breeze rippled the surface of the waters and the only sound was of insects buzzing in the midday heat. All was still.

With a sudden explosion, a great scaly form launched upwards from the water, barely missing the fortunate hen.  The boy backpedalled but quickly mastering himself and showing some grit dangled the chicken again over the shape which had subsided below the surface.  Again it reacted to the lure and erupted with a toothy snap, only to miss yet again. The boy backed away up the trench, dragging the flapping and protesting bird over the sand, and the creature with a sudden spurt heaved itself forward in pursuit. 

The villagers peering between the palms screamed in panic and bolted in a tangled mass of fleeing limbs as the thing, apparently a river crocodile of only modest size lumbered in a swinging curvetting gait after the chicken. Those tasked with the job of cutting the ropes and toppling the palm trunks onto it fled with them, tangling with Birgir, Lycos, Gunnar and Snowdog and preventing their flanking assaults.  All was chaos. 
 The boy with the chicken was overwhelmed and fled as well, but with a pragmatic flourish swung the pole over his shoulder and carried the flapping bird along with him.  Disappointed in its rush, the crocodile swung about, only to catch a spear from Snowdog in one side, then one from Lycos in the other, finally Birgir’s mighty axe crashed into its bony skull dispatching it.  We stood abashed, wrapped in a sudden awkward silence. Ruark lurched out from behind a bush where he had been thrown by the stampede. His hood was pulled askew and he patted dust off himself.  He looked around. “That’s it, then, eh?”  Bytorr the Necromancer, Horrible Village Near Xambaala

Last edited by Hackhamster (10/24/2019 9:08 am)

"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - rpg.net review
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10/06/2019 4:01 pm  #36

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

😂 That was a hilarious battle. I think 2 hours were spent prepping for it only to have it over on the first round. Lol, well done!


11/08/2019 8:51 pm  #37

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

Even though the crocodile had not proven a formidable enemy to us, it proved to be an unlooked for bounty for the starving villagers, who descended upon it in a whirl of knives, cleavers, bone saws and other implements of the butcher’s trade.  The rest of the day was a frenzy of food preparation the likes I have never seen. Into the pot went the hapless amphibian. The hours of the afternoon passed in a smoky haze as the beast was boiled, fried, broiled, barbecued, stewed, braised, fricasseed, basted, and finally stuffed into pies.  Snowdog claimed some of the teeth and Birgir the claws. The carcass’s scaly hide was stretched between two palms and scraped clean by a milky eyed crone.

Towards dusk the feast began, the villagers showing some animation as they consumed what must have been the largest meal of their lives.  The diversely prepared animal fed the whole village and more. Towards the end, some of the older denizens of the village dug some sealed pottery crocks out of the ground, which turned out to be filled with some vile fermented substance. I declined the horrible smelling brew that was poured forth, and asked, ”Do you have any milk?”  

A cackling oldster nodded and passed me a chipped earthenware cup filled to the brim with a milky fluid.  Birgir looked over and observed sagely, “There might be milk in it.“ In any event, there seemed to be fruit, bread and other vegetable matter and even scraps of meat bobbing about below the surface.“Is good, is good! Drink, drink!” the toothless old man gabbled, pushing the cup at me. The contents of the cup looked like milk, and it was cool, but its provenance was suspect. Still, since the desert air left my throat parched and I was never one to pass up a lacteal libation, I drank it down at a gulp. 

Suddenly my mouth and throat seized and I was left gasping. I flailed about choking and grasping my throat. Suddenly twin spurts of the infernal draught shot from my nostrils, trailing fire behind.
“Water!” I croaked and reached imploringly towards a water skin.  A skin that proved to be filled with strong wine. In short, after an embarrassing start, I made many friends that evening. The rest of the evening passed in a haze. Bytorr the Necromancer, Horrible Village Near Xambaala 

"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - rpg.net review
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11/09/2019 5:31 am  #38

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

Lacteal libation. Hah!


11/12/2019 3:06 pm  #39

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

After we recovered from the horrific aftermath of our primitive Bacchanalia, we took stock of our situation.  I argued that we couldn’t go back to town without coming to the attention of Aramis and his henchmen, the slaves complicit in his design to feed the unholy lusts of the anthropophagi.  Arriving with our rescued henchmen in tow would of course set him on his guard. What arrangements did he have with the man-eaters? What promises did he make in exchange for their quivering flesh?  Were there other factions in town in cahoots with him? I thought that since we would have to go back into Xambaala at some point, we could avoid all these machinations by simply seizing Aramis in an ambuscade, questioning him in a vigorous way, and then putting him down.  

Oh no, my companions cried, we do not know Aramis was truly in league with the cannibals, we can’t be sure! Tenderhearted fools they are, I was outvoted.  Snowdog however wasn’t mollified. It wasn’t their soft flesh on the spit as his was. I could see his frustration and disdain in his eyes, as he turned about walked off into the palm grove, no doubt to mutter imprecations and incant curses to his black idol. Still we had a need for supplies, and without the option of going directly to the bazaar ourselves, we decided to enlist our newfound allies, the villagers, as our purchasing agents.

This shameful episode I shall relate in brief: we trusted the villagers with our gold and a shopping list, not once but twice, each time receiving nothing in return but blank looks and empty hands.  Appeals to their gratitude for their salvation were greeted with stares. Threats and intimidation were likewise ineffective. Short of executing the entire village, we were at a loss. We decided to leave, cutting our losses.  As we trudged away, I heard a snicker and looked back to see if Snowdog was making mock of his betters, but his mien indicated supreme boredom and detachment. Sometimes I wondered what he thought of his lot.
Bytorr the Necromancer, Horrible Village Near Xambaala 

"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - rpg.net review
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11/12/2019 3:49 pm  #40

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

The Musings of Atanaq:

I owe a debt of blood.  I would have been sacrificed to the bored decadence of the grey men in their arena if not for the strange one and his handful of gold. And again, he saved me from the toothy ones, cutting my bindings and freeing me in yet another way.  I owe the mewling coward my blood and bones, but my spirit rebels within my breast against this new bondage unseen. Patience I have in abundance, and someday I will have my vengeance, but first this onerous debt must be paid. Then, oh then, will I have sweet recompense for dishonors heaped upon me.  

Someday, his companions will die one by one, by my hand or not, until he is left alone, and I will take him at last.  Or perhaps I should intimate that his grim fate lay in my homeland, and have him walk to his own doom. Then, on the high plateau, the unhallowed plain of Leng, where the air is like wine, and the spirits of the upper skies fly keening their sorrow to our worshipful ears, I would stretch him on the black slab and my ears would have his cries and my eyes would see into his as he learns the final knowledge I bring.  Slowly will I draw his soul forth from the fragile wreck of his body, savoring each quiver, each shudder and groan until with the slightest final cut I give him to my dark God.

He thinks he knows evil, but he has never seen the dreaming spirit of Kthulhu rise in a shaman's eyes as we reap souls for his dread glory.  When I give my master to Him, the midnight tide of my God’s awful presence will rise in mine and I will see as He does: our world dead and cold in the spaces between the stars, the sun a frozen cinder, the souls of Man enmeshed in the dark lord’s vast mentality, screaming without end.

But for that handful of gold, he would be mine.  But I can wait.

Last edited by Hackhamster (11/12/2019 4:45 pm)

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