There And Back Again

| Reader Note: Xerx’ses is filling up his ink vials

| with a diluted mixture of his blood and water.
| I will not subject “you” to red text for the whole page.

Dear Darakh’zan and Rostam,

There and back again, is a tale that is apparently is big among the Halfling/something population. I’m not sure why Master Bungo is rolling on the ground laughing, I think a tusker kicked him, HARD. No matter, I still have not figured out whether he’s related to a Dwarves like Gnomes are or descended from some Faerie called a Spriggan without their powers of strength. He bears no signs of damage physically, so one must assume my little friend is as well as can be. Well, this missive should find you in better spirits for I am writing from the entrance to our caverns in the Rocky Desert! I am watching the last of a tusker stampede passing by the entrance and nearly running us down.

The 25th of Ra –
This morning I had to pray without the Prayer Flail so I pricked my finger and made a blood self-sacrifice to the gods of light. It would appear such devotions are rare nowadays so I moved away from the group when I prayed and made my offerings. Upon my return and finishing breakfast we elected to spend the day exhausting our healing powers of Master Cava‘s magical axe and Mistress Iana‘s mental prowess.

The 26th of Ra –
Most of the day was spent looking for water, we were lucky and found a small slow mountain stream. It was so small I thought the mountain had a nick on its finger. That night we split up into three watches:

  • Sir Quixis and I went first with no events,
  • Master Bungo, Master Azariel, Master Overkill had the most activity. I want to call it wierd and frighting but a few days agon I saw two Gods walk the world, so I am calling it activity. It would seem a ghost

    (I never actually saw the ghost so I don’t know what race or shape it might have looked like)

    appeared and Master Bungo and Master Overkill went with it to help bury it. When they seem to be taking to long I was woken up and I think someone came with me to check on them. Turns out they were being pelted with rocks to encourage speed, so I grabbed a boulder to block the attacks. While unsuccessful and resulting in my body getting pelted I did draw the specter’s attention long enough for them to finish. They both said they felt warmth in their hearts and then Master Bungo uttered the oddest thing:

    “That’s why you do service, so that you feel good inside, it’s like pissin your knickers. Everyone sees what you’ve done, but you’re the only one that feels the warmth.”

    Did I mention he is a strange little creature.

  • Master Cava and Mistress Iana went last and all that happened to them was a mountain lion getting to close that Master Cava scared off with some well places stone tosses.

The 27th of Ra –
Morning looked wonderful and we had a great breakfast as a group, rations even running low Master Bungo had been hoarding for such and event and while very odd he is very generous. The summer day had such promise, and then we ran into a Syvan! All I could gather at first was some form of undead, but the group told me about it and they had fought one before after we killed it twice! Yep, twice! It raised its glowing sword above its head demanding we surrender and we replied with Master Cava using his famous bow to fire one of his Cyclopean Lightning Arrows! I charged it goring it on my horns and was followed by Sir Quixis hacking into the other side. Then it spoke with some form of intellect!

I surrender

Master Cava and I held it at bay as everyone else investigated why Master Bungo passed out when this creature attacked. Poor little fellow had been so scared he strapped two suits of leather armor on top of himself and got burned up from the inside. As the leg armor was removed the Syvan saw the finger of Osiris and when he grinned at it I ripped its head clean off! But no it somehow used an illusion and grabbed the finger with psychic abilities like those of Mistress Iana! Master Cava, myself, Master Azariel and others went after the finger while Mistress Iana tended to Master Bungo.

We found the Syvan again and made damn sure it was dead three ways from Utu! Upon searching the hovel/alcove it tried to hide in and its body we made some remarkable finds! Four jars of enchanted moonbeam powder, 4,000 gold in New Kingdom, err I mean Old Kingdom coins. Then I found a test of being greedy or generous and I think I passed. Then Master Overkill handed me a dagger and it was determined that it was magical so I was given this. Instantly I knew the following information as though I had owned it all of my life:

  • The blade would turn the color of bright red blood if those of a dark stained soul passed withing twice my height of the dagger.
  • It would turn anywhere from 6 to 36 animated dead raising it over your head, and if the animated dead could have line of sight to the dagger then 4 out of 5 times it would turn all that could see it.
  • It has a 50/50 shot to remove magical curses if laid upon the afflicted.
  • It was made to do one and half the times the damage of my daggers Rostam made me, and if the opponent was a supernatural or magic creature the damage would double!

This was an amazingly powerful holy weapon for the forces of light! Then Master Azariel mentioned that no one thought to give the dagger to the one in the group sized for such a weapon and currently without the ability to deal the same level of damage as the rest of the group. I saw there was merit to my having it and Master Azariel’s thoughts. I sat down and laid the magical dagger in my open palm and told Master Bungo I valued his friendship and if he would like the dagger he merely needed to reach out and take it. I made sure my arm was not to high so that he could reach it easily. He thanked me and offered a boon of my choosing when I so wished.

Master Overkill now has possession of the finger and he hid it on his person after we checked the direction we needed to go. As if a sauce topping for a bad day Master Azariel lost it over some remarks made and slapped Master Overkill and Mistress Iana. He immediately apologized for his loss of decorum but those three needs to sort themselves, it’s bad enough Master Overkill’s wife may be a hostage of the Agent of the Dark Gods and he is betraying their bonds of mating. Master Azariel may be older than all of us but he does not seem to be very worldly, although I have traveled most people run in fear so I can hardly claim to be worldly. Then there is Mistress Iana whom plays with mating like a merchant trying to skin gold! As long as you don’t sleep with her she is a fantastic lady, but I just don’t understand those that follow great and merciful Bast. We made fantastic time the remainder of the day and pushed hard. Making it 3 parts of 10 up the mountain side, hooray!

The 28th of Ra –
The day was so beautiful we were untroubled and made triple the time up the mountainside. From what Master Cava told us we should hit the top on the 29th of Ra.

The 29th of Ra –
Well after my morning prayers I notice Sir Quixis was not eating and I asked him why. It turns out the 29th of each month he fasts, or goes without food and I believe minimal water, till the following day. No sooner did we crest the top of the mountains than we scrambled to hide from a huge party of Giants! I could make out the Algorian Frost Giants, the Jotan, the Rahu-man four armed giants, then I saw my first Cyclops, and there was one referred to as Gigante and The Flail! Given the 8ft tentacle coming off his back and I can understand his nickname, and a huge over-sized left arm, and I mean HUGE, the Jotan Giants kept comparing their arms to it when they thought no one was looking.

Later that night the giants hold a bonfire for the dead Frost Giant scouts we killed. Turns out they were related the ones here on the mountain crest with us! The upside is that they blame the Gromek for their deaths. From their conversations I am able to gather that these giants come from a place to the east called Gurthasi Algor and they are on the run from the Gromek that have just overrun the fortress outpost. During the night they try to quietly uncover and haul a GIANT SIZED War-machine that shoots HUGE spears! I am told it is called a ballista but clearly has been sized up for Giant use.

The 30th of Ra –
As the sun leaves the horizon the last of the Giants is gone from view and none of them can be heard. We try starting out only to get hit by a cold drizzling rain. Looking for a way down we stare off a cliff with a drop well over a 1,000 hooman feet. We hustle as safely as we can following the road east looking for a way down, however, not three miles in we are stopped by the great Gromhuran, the same ancient dragon we saw kill our Gromek captors! Now the great beast wanted a toll, he made it clear Master Overkill could hand over his runesword for inspection or he could kill us all then look at it. Very pained and timid Master Overkill does as the great dragon commands, and after gazing into it Gromhuran drops the runesword at the Dwarven Captain’s feet with a look as though he has seen it all before. Going over his name in my head I remember reading about him from the end of the ‘Time of a Thousand Magicks’ and ask if that is him? He mentions yes he is the same dragon that helped teach both Elf and Dwarf magic when he was very young. When we asked Master Bungo what color the dagger blade was he stated it had not changed color! Well, he was not evil at least and there was the start of negotiations between Master Azariel and great Gromhuran which lead to our being shown a faster way down into the Wastelands in exchange for the Dwarf Clan, Downwater’s Runic Crystal Ball! He claims they took it from him and he wants it back, and he is giving us 3 weeks to get it. With that he simply leaves leaping into the sky and raising us off the ground a foot in his updraft. The rest of the 30th we head down into the Baalgor Wastelands via the hidden trail.

The 31st of Ra through the 1st of Thoth –
It takes several days to walk down the Rocky Desert from the mountains and we move and rest through a number of hidden valleys and our food and water keeps up. While it feels nice to be back home the heat is beginning to crank up for those not used to desert climates. With the hard marching down a slope is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Nineteen days to find the Runic Crystal Ball and return it to the dragon. I was still not sure how long it would take us to move overland to the cavern of my tribe.

The 2nd of Thoth –
One hour into our trek this morning and we made it to the bottom to the Rocky Desert, there are only broken rocks chunks of the mountains laid to waste by the great thunder that destroyed Baalgor. I can see why the elders wanted us to leave this land to make better lives for ourselves. It is unforgiving and THAT was a compliment to the terrain. Using Magic Pigeons spell throughout the day (this should help explain the ones you got two days ago saying I was in the Wastelands. We did get stopped mid way through the day when we cam upon a Dragon’s Egg that was warm to the touch. I could not legitimately tell which side was generating the heat (inside or outside) so I thought if we returned the egg and the Crystal Orb we might be able to explain if we are late. Master Overkill grabs the egg and we continue onward till full on nighttime when we come across a small cave.

In the small cave we uncovered a small hidden alcove in its south wall that contained:

  • A Kobold made Trident,
  • A Dwarven made Giant sized Flail, which I did snatch up happy to have one again,
  • 3 small statues and a pile of gold that appears to have appraised around 20,000 gold and the currency was again in Old Kingdom denomination.

Next thing we see is magic pigeon has arrived from the Agent. We started a fire and soon heard someone approaching and what sounded like whistling a musical tune. Master Bungo replied that some kind of Fae King was showing up named ‘Old Gregg’ what I saw looked like a fish walking on two legs in the desert wastelands of all places. Of course we wore nearly nothing but offered to trade food and drink for finding your location and when, and healing of wounds. For my part I attempted to learn how to dance but to no avail, however, Old Gregg said he would guide us to my tribe’s tunnel entrance! All in all it is a fun night with cactus liquor made by Master Bungo and drunk from his shoe! Strange little creature, maybe he’ll turn into Old Gregg when he gets older? I still don’t understand Curly Jefferson or Celotape, I have given up trying. While I am writing this it was explained to me that Old Gregg is a Vrill and Ceasar is a Quillback (I’ll get to Ceasar on the next day). He gifted everyone in the group with a major potion of healing which I thanked him for.

The 3rd of Thoth –
For one of Old Gregg’s size he can keep a mean pace and we were off and running after breakfast and about 3 hours into the morning as it was beginning to cook us. Old Gregg showed us the greatest plant ever that contains a large amount of water in its roots and we were able to refill our water. Just then we saw some rocks fly pass us and we thought the vale guardians or something like that had returned, no it was just a ROCK SLIDE!!! I cast ‘_Armor of Ithan_’ and got behind a boulder as Mistress Iana used her powers to shield everyone else. Well after it passed we stuck our heads out and a few of these quillbacks started complaining we were still alive! There leader, Ceasar, seemed to know Old Gregg, and the gestures shared between them led me to believe there was no love being lost between them. The quillbacks scurried off but just another clear danger in my backyard I knew very little about it would seem.

The evening was desert rabbits and cactus juice while Master Cava tried to ask the gods what we should be doing. After asking a number of ways Master Cava heard the Lord of Wisdom say to hurry to my home! So we packed up and ran all night long and much easier in the lack of sun and Old Gregg as our guide.

The 4th of Thoth –
In the morning Master Overkill fainted and when he opened his shirt the sores were everywhere! Old Gregg leaped into action and began having all of us rub green slime substance on his skin and he woke up. Master Cava noticed at this moment the Tusker stampede was coming our way, so I grabbed the dwarf and we ran because our lives depended on it. When Old Gregg yelled out to turn left we all did and leaped into our cavern. A second magic pigeon has arrived from the Agent.

>>> Written by Xerx’ses Goldenflail,

At dawn on the 4th of Thoth the year 111. <<<

Picture of Tusker by the immensely talented Madjaguar – go buy his art!
Picture of Syvan from Targete.
Picture of Dagger from Eagle Shack.
Picture of Gigante Giant, Vrill, and Quillback from Palladium Books and edited by me.
Ancient Dragon picture from Sumerky on Deviant Art, go check him out!
Desert scrublands from Joe Braun
Desert scrublands from My Zion Park

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