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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
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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
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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! 


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird 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
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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!

 

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