The Jackal’s Price: LoF Session XXXV
The camp embarked further into the hot, windswept sands. As the oasis of Chassagara furthers itself behind, thoughts of making it to the Well and completing Faharid’s task weighed heavily on none more than Glarthobblavott. Unknowingly suggested to read it by Ce-tan, the vicious and unholy-made tome of corruption had warped his mind, planting a seed of selfish calamity and twisting the fabrics of his being to covetous degrees. Faharid, ever vigilant watched his companions decent into the maddening shroud of wanting and disabled the influenced Gnome at any turn he tried to read the dark pages. Few days marched on as the transgressions with Game Over, Chassagara, and the deathly sand worms had ended. But the heat remained constant.
The arid heat bore down upon the beige shadows of dunes and desert. The caravan in chatter during the time of travel sought a plan for Kelmarane commerce. Amid the ramble, in the burning esperly lines of vapor, a shimmer flitted wagons away from the caravan. His eyes keened to the oddity’s existence, Faharid called to the Heroes of Kelmarane to identify this mirage which stayed at pace and at the same distance of the caravan. With a curious and culled knowledge, Glarth imagined it to be a numerous amount possibilities; however, such a shimmering was closely related to spells that grant a user the ability of invisibility. Without hesitation, the Gnome incanted as his eyes turned a startling blue. The magic lingered with a moderate power and under a divination school. Perplexed, the party felt that they were being watched as they approached the Deep Well.
As the caravan continued over the dunes, the distance revealed darkness in sky dotted over a beautifully colored green landscape, its sparkling reflective blue notes shone from between the foliage. Low scrub brush bore signs of maintenance on the trail, expressing no signs of distress. A brilliant green spread outward on the horizon, refined and distinct, as the silt sloped to a verdant oasis. The caravan gaped in awe as a large grey obelisk arose from the ground and pierced the sky seemingly touching the heavens. A beautifully crafted mosque lay next to the lake, adorned with stained glass glittering its prismatic light reflected from the lake and the sun’s splendor for miles. A waterfall flowed the same crystal waters down among the field and across the rear of the temple. Pure water and green jungle juxtaposed the glassy and airy sense of the mosque. The beauty of the landscape however seemed to be marred slightly as a cairn set toward the south of the verdant basin stood somewhat aloof and somber from the beauty of the Deep Well and Hell Eternal. Watching intently as the caravan approached, the companions were startled as a large rock on the cairn sprang to life and began charging toward the caravan.
Its form, hulking and massive. The muscled fur detailed and precise even at a distance. The figure burst forward with abnormal speed, running on four legs, boding a brutal strength. With one quick motion, a snap resounded from its back as wings of rusted red hue launched the creature into the sky. Alerted and unsure of the oncoming danger, the caravan is flagged to halt as the companions move toward the airborne threat. Circling as gyer and carrion birds do within the wastes of the desert, the creature flew high above beyond bow shot analyzing the caravan with discerning eyes.
Its wings snapped close with a heard concussive shudder as it plummeted toward the ground. Its course set closer to the perceived leaders of the caravan, the massive beast wings snapped open before hitting the sand with such force the air and ground quaked with its arrival. As majestic as intimidating, a golden-red lion with hawk wings and a human male face stared and snarled with bestial teeth and taloned claws, radiating with immense power. The Lamassu of Ragathiel, Lion of the Five Heavens, guardian of the Hell of Eternal Thirst, roared in a deathly expression and jarring the soul in a speech of growls, “Fools turn back, there is only death here!” Breathing inwardly deeply, its breath heavy with purpose and scorn, the Lamassu stood resolute and turned to Zahkmed. His face grim, his eyes piercing through the Sun struck priest, the lion-man’s reprimand bit deeply and disparagingly and without remorse. Faharid with the quick words of the Heavens spoke to the heavy hearted creature with care and diligence. The duty set forth by the wandering swordsman of Seranrae had been a mission of grave undertaking and was not taken lightly.
Worried for the book of which captivated the inner working of his curiosity and eager to rid himself of this place for better pastures in Kelmarane, Glarthobblavot reached into his haversack and retrieved a miscellaneous potion. It color or pink and clear viscous liquid slid down his throat as the words that were being conversed in a foreign tongue in front of him gradually turned from incomprehensible to fluid speech. As clarity came forth from the mouths of the giant winged lion and the lithe steward of Seranrae, the Gnome began listening as Faharid bargained with the creature to destroy the book, as he would be the only known agent of holiness to accomplish a feat. Chassagara’s words, imbedded deeply as trepidation enclosed around the Gnome.
The pinnacle of fear and hatred overwhelmed the Gnome. Such a waste and state of things where his library would be brought low once again. Glarth charged forward toward an unsuspecting Khatovar who reached into the backpack for the unholy book. Without realizing, Faharid unsheathed his sword swinging for the addled Gnome, and for a moment in time was perplexed as the dexterity and nimble Gnome dodged the swift and stark glint of metal aimed to incapacitate him. “ENOUGH!” The cry morphed into a roar heard through the winds of time as Glarth froze with a mix of fear, fascination, and fantasy. Though able to breathe, he was held in suspension by unknown weights crushing his will to move. Khatovar gathered the book and dropped it into the oversized time-worn paw of the Lamassu. Grabbing the Gnome, Khatovar stood steadfast as Glarth wriggled and cursed as the Lamassu spat on a page from the demonic book. The human vellum page, shadowed by veins of blooded ink, burst into fire and flame erupting in a shrieking sound of gasping death. As the vellum shrieked the Lamassu wracked and wretched. The roar of pain washed over its body and the sound washed over the caravan. Bleeding and reeling, the Lamassu known as Assad Ashraf-Asim stood again and spat once more at another page in the tome. Excruciating and searing into his marrow, Assad takes to his duty to destroy the foul book. With his constitution failing, he exhaustedly stares at the seemingly endless tome.
Annoyed and unable to save his precious tome from its destruction, Glarth slips a dagger from his side to his hand. Distracting his human vice-clamp with a flurry of kicks and screams, Glarth sent the dagger plummeting into the side of his friend. However, with more knowledge in the art of combat, Khatovar easily dodges the severe blow and maintains his iron grasp of the Gnome.
Reduced and panting, Assad is unhappy but resolute in his new task to also destroy the book. With the help of Faharid’s own purpose for being in the oasis, Assad agrees that the option to cleanse the Deep Well and aid in the destruction of the book would be to rid the oasis of its Curses.
As guardian for years, deterring living beings from setting foot in the abominable oasis, Assad tells his tale of fighting within the oasis and of the many curses of the Hell of Eternal Thirst. First; a curse sinister and twisted. Within the oasis, positive energies of the living are drawn away from their bodies and souls, siphoned to the dead. The next, a curse which gave the Hell of Eternal Thirst its namesake; all water brought into or made within the oasis, becomes corrupted and necrotic. The enervative powers of the water are so immense, those who drink it and succumb to its deathly hallows are reborn as undead that thirst only for flesh. The corruption of the water becomes greater for those of greater power. The four spiritual leaders of this sanctuary of Seranrae were housed and harmed during the curses, did not become ghouls or ghasts, but of blackened vampires who sought only for flesh and blood. Though they have become agents of undead and are all they strove to fight against, they do not enter the mosque.
The holy temple stands, however an abomination of necromancy resides within. As seen briefly within the doors of the mosque it stood towering over Assad bodies high, brandishing multiple swords, and adorned old breastplate with a Red Chalice on a field of black. The insignia, known to many historians and knowledge peddlers as the Bloodlords of the Aristocracy of Geb, belongs to the horrific sect of the City of Undeath potentially under ownership of the warrior in unlife and soul. During the times of the Nexian-Geb wars which marred the world, the envoys of undeath created a curse darkening the skies of the surrounding area under a blanket of graying red color. The sun blotted and blood red during its affect gave it the namesake of the Curse of the Blood Sun. Popular and pyrrhic, the curse cast a shadow where anything underneath its blanket can no longer naturally heal, undead being are slowly healed and regenerated, and even immortals can fall and be succumbed to its affects; returning as undead. However, such a curse needed a large physical focus to cover an area large enough for armies. The army of ghouls resides within the lake, beyond the crystal surface of the water in total blackness of a second world beneath.
Finding his opening while his companions are enthralled by the tale, Glarthobblavot breaks free from the grip of Khatovar, but is swiftly tripped. Grasping at his legs, Khatovar tries to still the wiry Gnome but his hold is lost as Glarth kicks free and tries to scurry away. Glarth progress of escape is quickly hindered by tripped and swift disarm of his dagger. In a rage, Glarth pulled out his First World Wand of Primal Magics and with an exasperated command and fire in his eyes blasts his countenance into a shot directly at the brawler.
Blinking and disoriented, Glarth looks puzzled as he looks down noticing all his possessions are on the wrong side. In fact, he feels like he’s on the wrong side as his entire reality has become mirrored to what is once was. Resigned and unsettled, the Gnome walks with the rest of the group toward the oasis, upset the book remains with the Lamassu and his journey to Ketapesh is stifled.
Passing through the greenery, the plants which were green and beautiful from a distance are brittle and fossilized from the curses set upon the oasis. Breeching the tree line from the west into the inner ring, the gray obelisk towered over the lake. Its beauty desecrated by slashed made at its base, blood smeared over its foundations, and skulls coordinated in diabolic circles around the spire. Thinking to restore some light into the area, Zahkmed pushes through the powers of Seranrae into the standing spire, daylight to rival the dark. The light sank into the air, dampened by the cursed skies. Inspecting the slashed base and the characters underneath, it was found that the obelisk is one of the six fables Sun Spires, waypoints of light, in existence to the goddess Seranrae.
The splashes awakened the senses, the gargles and air displaced from the mouths of the undead. Ghouls sprang forth from the water, moving with an unnatural speed with webbed feet and hands. The bloated and grayed bodies breeched the surface like a horde or insects as their faces bore gnashed teeth and greedy and hungry sunken eyes. Under quick thinking Cetan was able to spew forth a ball of immolating fire, but the waterborne undead sped forward en masse and undulating in staggered lines.
Inhaling deeply, a smell fell through the air like euphoria. Exhaling, a plume of smoke and ash grew and glowed intently as a vaporous ape materialized from Glarth’s mouth and blew like a steel wind into the mindless.
The reclamation of the Deep Well of Paradise begins.