To Be A Hero

Dear Darakh’zan and Rostam,
Dear Master Terramore Gleba, (OOC NOTE: He made a copy of this letter and sent it to the bard)

If you are reading this I have died.

If you are reading this I was resurrected!

I will explain in what is sure to be another long winded tale, and no I have not changed the color of my ink but what you are reading is written in my blood! YES YOU READ THIS CORRECTLY, THIS IS MY BLOOD!

Now that I have your attention let me begin with tale from the 15th of Ra to the 22nd of Ra. In which, the Yin-Sloth Jungles are split asunder by a living tornado, a feathered dragon attacks, 6 frost giants kill me, I have lost the flail of prayers, and I am returned to life after meeting the Goddess Bast!

| Reader Note: Please be aware these missives are both written in
| the blood of Xerx’ses, but I will not subject you to red text
| for the whole page.

The 15th of Ra –
We set out from the glorious battle with the Melech on the 14th of Ra. It was about two turns of an hourglass when we came across swamp in the Jungle which was very hot and muggy, affecting poor Master Overkill with some sort of affliction that our new healer Lady Iana seemed unable to cure. After checking his condition she seemed very startled about something regarding the dwarf. Master Bungo made a giggle but stopped himself, he looks covered in sweat poor fellow, bad enough his branch of dwarf looks malnourished next to Master Overkill but that’s what happens when two races try to the destroy the world and each other with magic; fallout.

Our Rahu-man guide, Tia’Katha, tried to check out the bog and was yanked under the murky waters by some unknown assailant. Master Overkill jumps in after him!

Later he explains he thought Cava would save him, I remember thinking we are the most blessed groups of fools I know.

I dropped to the edge of the bog on my stomach and stuck my arm in trying to reach but alas, nothing, blessed fools indeed. Master Azariel screamed for rope and Master Bungo gave him his and then ran off. The little dis-formed dwarf looks horrible and this heat appears to be getting to him. Holding the rope by one end Master Cava does indeed go after the dwarf holding the other end. After a titanic struggle I feel a tug on the rope and the good Gnome is sitting on my feet anchoring me. Slowly pulling the rope up I see Master Cava, Master Overkill, and a KELPIE!

DAMN BOG BEASTS! This is the first I have seen one. I don’t want to see another!

Master Overkill gasps and lets go of the creature and the next in the line up of blessed fools is Master Azariel, whom realizes our guide is still under the water. Sir Quixis Ote begins to add himself to the list of heroes while I sit hear like a 600 pound paperweight and lifeline!

“OTE! NO!” I yelled so loud the trees shook I quickly followed up with, “Guard the rear!” I may not be a seasoned hero but if I wanted to kill a group distracting them and hitting them from behind would be a good move. For some reason our beloved Gnome has decided to climb up to my head and holding onto my horns for a better view.

Just then I heard a SPLASH from the direction Master Bungo went off in and I called out thinking the dis-formed dwarf has fallen in! I should be a general, Sir Quixis Ote yells that jungle gnomes are attacking us! While good warlock Master Tyvernos heads off to aid our paladin but not before granting me the power to _”Fly as an Eagle!”_ I am ashamed to say I could not help the malnourished dwarf while being the 600 pound lifeline for the bog swimming heroes currently below the murky waters. As I’m writing this one must assume that we survived and at some point Master Bungo pulled himself out and joined the fray in the rear. Clearly he is used to getting himself out of tight spots.

Once I got Master Cava and Master Overkill out the ranger grabs the slack and heads back in after our guide and Master Azariel! Not long after a _”Globe of Daylight”_ spell was cast illuminating everything for me. Once I saw everyone had formed a chain and saved our Rahu-man guide, Tia’Katha I willed my body to lift off the ground and I flew pulling them out of the water before the Kelpie could grasp anyone again! Magic was then used to bring lightning to the bog and fry the Kelpie in his domain, a fitting death indeed! Now that I could pay attention to the murderous gnomes I was informed they had been slain, and Master Bungo appeared out of nowhere next to one that had its throat slit.

We tried to move from the bog just far enough away lick our wound after we revived Tia’Katha from nearly drowning. We made it almost a turn of an hourglass a cloud of stench appeared around me nearly making me choke but it certainly made pause. Everyone began looking for the source of the stench and poor Master Bungo began running forward and off to the side point wildly in the other screaming about a feathered dragon! Everywhere he pointed we looked and nothing was there, poor bastard looked like he was dying from the jungle heat and I almost thought he would run into a tree. Just then from the opposite direction of the gestures by the malnourished dwarf man a feathered dragon did appear and with a swipe of its claws felled Tia’Katha!

Master Bungo disappeared and Master Tyvernos cast a spell erecting a ‘Wall of Wind’ to give us a moment, I used it to cast a spell to gain a giant’s strength! Then while it tried to bellow forth a cloud of dark looking gas the wall of wind dispersed it and I summoned lightning spears to my hand! I struck the feathered dragon with one of the lightning spears through the wall of wind! With Master Tyvernos I feel I know how the Cyclops must do battle for he brings the storm and I rain down *LIGHTNING & THUNDER!* The Cockatrice used its wings to fly over the wall of wind and strike at me with its claws! While the others levied attacks at it I parried the claws with another lightning spear, *HA!* Too bad the beast won’t live long enough to regret that shock! At this point the beast tried to fly away up and over me. It’s wing buffeted young Lady Iana whom curled up screaming in terror!

Having the time to reflect I wonder why I don’t seem affected?

Not wishing to have it harry us further I turned squatting and then sprung into a *leaping charge attack!* I caught the Cockatrice in the back with my horns as it began to get air and shoved the last lightning spear into its side! We fell about one and a half times my height to the ground, however, its body made a great surface to land on. I can see why Master Tyvernos follows mighty Bennu the Phoenix a goddess of air, and rebirth! The good Gnome warlock knelt beside our fallen giant and beseeching the elements of air through his goddess to breath air and life back into Tia’Katha and the elements once again bent to his will! Our Giant guide was once more among the living and he said he got a chance to speak with his lord, Kym-Nark-Mar, the Dragon God! Very grateful to us he helped to butcher the feathered dragon and we divided the pieces among all of us.

The 16th of Ra –
The whole day was spent being healed by the Lady Iana and guarding against any threat, for we’re threadbare in our stamina and the Yin-Sloth Jungles were wearing us down.

The 17th of Ra –
The entire group was shaken and I know the lands I come from are harsh but everyone else didn’t quite grasp how dangerous it might be to fight gods. That’s what we are attempting to do fight gods that are immortal with mortals that can bleed, hurt, feel pain, feel sorrow, feel loss, and die. Every morning I read the prayers on my flail and and pray to the Lawgiver. Most of the others only seem to do it when they need something they are unable to do. Having seen how many people live in cities and offer prayers daily I think our band of fools have forgotten the gods are called out to over a million times a day. Lamentations for the dead, blessings for weddings, cries of joy at births, and yet they *ACTUALLY* respond to us! We should be more grateful, but alas, when the gracious Bast sent a very large cat guardian to watch over us. Master Bungo thinks its a play friend for him and attempts to mate with the male cat! His fever is getting worse it seems but a quick swipe and hiss from the celestial cat appear to sober him up! Again we are answered when millions of other probably feel they are ignored when their prayers go unanswered.

The 18th of Ra –
This morning breakfast was quiet and everyone is clearly on edge. When you see a giant having concerns similar to small folk you might want to take a note. I noticed even Master Bungo being rather quiet with his jabs, and he avoided the giant’s gaze completely. During the meal we began to discuss the wisdom going forward, or finding another route. While I sat there listening to everyone mention their thoughts as options, and then positive and negative of each choice. Based on where I lived and what I have seen of the Yin-Sloth jungles the only place more dangerous than my home or here is the fabled Land of the Damned!

* Turn around, go back to Rogtilda, sail to a port in the Western Empire and hire a wagon to take us inland and then cross the Scarlet Sea.
* Turn around, go back to Rogtilda, sail to a port in the Western Empiree and hire a wagon to take us inland and then cross overland through the Old Kingdom
* Turn around, go back to Rogtilda, sail to pass Cynopolis and make for the city of Troker, a port off the Baalgor Wastelands’ coastline. From there make our way inland.
* Continue forward and cross the Baalgor Mountains, come hell or high water.

I look upon this as a crucible for making a sword, I believe these trials are forging us for something that will claim our lives and maybe our souls, but we are talking about undoing a God’s actions and bringing back something that should not be able to die! Why do I feel like no one else quite sees this yet?

“When faced with hell one must go through it to learn the wisdom that make other mortals run in fear,” Azad; my mentor.

When asked what we should I simply stated we should keep going. While I think everyone had ideas with supporting arguments of merit I simply said we should go forward. What they did not realize is that I would continue even if they had turned back. If the gods had wanted us to turn back why send the guardian from great Bast? The decision was made easier when Master Tyvernos said he would attempt to summon a greater elemental of air to clear a trail for us to the Baalgor Mountains. Master Cava asked briefly why we didn’t try this sooner, our gnome warlock merely shrugged. Once more the goddess Bennu was entreated to aid us through the casting of a spell to the elements of air. This time the gnome warlock was unsuccessful and our cat guardian pranced over and relieved himself on Master Tyvernos.

Master Azariel said he could build a circle and summon an Earth elemental but it would need to be rather large to protect everyone when he cast it. The group spends the day and part of the morning clearing an area large enough for the circle to be drawn on the jungle floor. Those that could not physically help pulled guard duty.

When we stopped for the day Tia’Katha and I talked about what glorious Bast means to me and there was talk of longing and love. I could see from his face he missed someone and I told him its the longing of his heart. He tried to deny what his face had painted but the truth would not be denied. In the end he has begun calling me “little brother.”

The 19th of Ra –
Once we were gathered in the circle Master Azariel prepared and as the energies began to reach out he realized he would not be able to control them. He stopped the ritual before the point of no return. There was embarrassment on his face but I saw wisdom at knowing his limits and not risking his friends lives in a situation that could be avoided. Master Tyvernos said he needed to try again but we had to find a different area. Master Azariel recovered the components that could be saved and we head north once more.

Sunset had begun when we stopped and were very lucky nothing had found us this day. Master Tyvernos made the overtures once more and shouted that he had been successful! His exclamation of his success seemed understated when a *’Major Air Elemental’* made up of 3 giant tornadoes with a floating eye formed in front of us! Master Tyvernos began to speak with his ‘elemental kin’ asking it to clear a path for us from here to the Baalgor Mountains in the north. The rest of us are in noted awe at the power being used before us, and then, as though trying to stand in the presence of three tornadoes is easy, it began to move! Lady Iana simply lost her nerve when poor Trigger, our pack horse, get caught by the wind, the pack ripped off and Trigger was slammed into a tree breaking its back!

Sadly, Master Tyvernos’s power over air does not work on animals, I will have to investigate that. However, I am not sure given their smaller minds if that would be cruel given what I remember of my death.

Lady Iana began to run away even after all the battles she has faced with us and doing very well for her young age. Master Azariel tried to grab her but missed and I new without a charging motion I would likely miss her as well. I hurled myself forward as fast as my legs could pump. I grabbed her up and just kept tucked under my left arm as she flailed and kicked trying to get away. Once sufficient distance had been established between the Air Elemental and us I was able to set Lady Iana down. I was worried what she would run into had she made it into the jungle alone.

While we lost our food and pack horse, the frame on his back had been recovered and could be pulled. Master Cava preserved as much of Trigger’s meat to replenish our food supplies. We strapped down what we needed and I strapped it to my back adding my bags to it. Our guardian cat had also disappeared at this time since it was no longer needed with the new “elemental road” having just been made.

The 20th of Ra –
We made amazing time moving in the elemental’s wake of destruction! The path was roughly as wide as five of me laying down head to foot! while you could see debris near the edges of the path the middle of it was just devoid of everything! We ran from sun up to sun down stopping for water and rest at highsun. The pace was grueling but with everything scared by what happened the day before nothing attacked us.

The 21st of Ra –
Realizing we had enough power we began using _”Fleet feet”_ spell to great effect moving at roughly 30 miles per turn of the hourglass. In our third hour we were attack by a tribe of Ogres attempting to slow us down, however, myself and the two other struck just kept running. That volley of arrows was all they could do before we had out stripped their range. Master Bungo lent his energy to the castings so we could continue. The only breaks were the casting stops and to keep the castings down I carried Iana and Tyvernos while Tia’Katha carried Master Bungo and Master Overkill. That night all the runners look sore and I go through all the stretches Meerij taught me and my step brother Zeelik Stonemace during my combat training back home.

The 22nd of Ra –
It was about two turns of an hourglass when we came upon the air elemental returning from the Baalgor Mountains which loomed over us not far ahead. Master Tyvernos went forward to talk with his ‘elemental kin’ while the rest of us kept a safe distance.

Master Tyvernos told me later that it was happy to have such a simple task and when he released it to go home his ‘elemental kin’ said it would tell others how kind he had been to it. This should make dealings with Air Elementals easier in the future.

A mountain lion appears and takes a swipe at Master Bungo. We all missed the warning and merely thought that generous Bast was displeased with her worshiper. This might have been a very different ending had we understood the warning. It was highsun when we reached the ridge top and we noticed 3 frost giants in front of us. Hoping they might be reasoned with we approached when the ones on the ends flanked to both sides and one surprised Master Cava with a massive blow from his battle axe and felled the ranger in _ONE STROKE!_ Master Overkill pointed out we were being flanked by three more frost giants for a total of six! I made a charge for one of the two coming at us from behind and gore him with my horns!

I found out later that I nearly killed Master Overkill kicking him as I made my charging attack. I told him that my corpse was blown off the mountainside by Master Tyvernos, so we’re even. We chuckled about it.

The battle became one for our very existence and I was joined by Sir Quixis Ote while I nearly felled one of the frost giants the other came down with the axe into my collar bone and I glance down when I felt it tear my rib-cage open. The world went dark as I felt the battle axe being torn from me.

My eyes open and I draw breath once more! Master Tyrvenos is standing next to me as I try to suck in all the air around me and the throbbing in my head and body. I can feel pain and I know I am alive again! I remember talking to Bast but between my visit to the Ma’at and being pulled back by the gnome warlock’s elemental magic it is a bit foggy and I am sure will return with rest and food. I am told how the battle ended with Master Azariel’s adhesion and slumber spells then Master Tyvernos using his rush of the wind spell blowing the frost giants off the mountain side! However, I was caught in the blast and they had to recover me. Then they tell me.

OOC Note – This is the version to Xerx’ses’s father: Rostam, when my corpse was blown off the mountain I lost the flail you made me I am so sorry, if time permits I will look for it, but this area is hostile in the extreme! Father I am so sorry I loved that gift more than these words in my own blood can ever express. I hope to see you soon.

Your son, Xerx’ses.

OOC Note – This is the version to Master Terramore Gleba: Good Bard, please share this with Brother Malkin at the Library of Bletherad. CrIsis will not let him down but I have lost my ink, and were it not for the size I would have lost my spell book. I have lost my father’s gift of the flail of prayers he made me. Maybe if you feel it so, might I be revealed to the world so others of my kind and other races that read will know that this minotaur chose to stand for the Light. I know that standing for the side of Light against the darkness is not easy. Many will fall but to face death and see life once more, those that do know that the struggle must go on so those we stand for can live their blessed lives as they see fit, without fear of the darkness in the world.

From the cold peaks of the southwestern Baalgor Mountains – just past highsun,
Xerx’ses the Second

>> Written by Xerx’ses Goldenflail,
on the 22nd of Ra the year 111. <<

Picture Credits
Map of Palladium, picture of a Melech, Kelpie, Trapper Mate, Cockatrice, major air elemental are courtesy of Palladium Books
Black panther picture from Pinterest
Frost Giant picture from Nate Barnes


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