Asarasa ST Posted March 5, 2017 Share Posted March 5, 2017 This had not been the band's best idea. They had been recuperating in Leoni, one of the few permanent settlements the manticora had established, and the spiritual center of the Manticora Confederacy, a loose association of manticoras from the Bleak Savannah, the Haggard Hills, and the Blood Steppes. While primitive compared to other great cities of Ghelspad, Leoni has plenty of charm and spirit. Many of the buildings are simple wood or mud huts with thatched roofs, materials well suited to a burgeoning city of semi-nomadic people. Kora had been pleased to spend time among her people and to speak with her mentor, Akarle. Sigurn had imposed herself upon the hospitality of a Calastian trader she knew, Teuce, who was in Leoni looking to establish himself in the burgeoning settlement. Siwan found interest in the Hunter's Library sitting in the shadow of the Pridestone, a monument devoted to Tanil the Huntress and the only structure made of stone and brick in Leoni. The library is equal parts zoo and archive, a “study herd,” as the manticora call it. The library’s purpose is to catalogue all the rare and exotic fauna and flora on Ghelspad and provide firsthand accounts of hunting and survival techniques. As a result, a new tradition has been established by the semi-nomadic lionfolk of collecting new specimens to bring back to the Hunter’s Library. To that end, even some nearby groups of humans in the northern savannah and in the Haggard Hills have assisted the manticora, and occasionally the caretakers of the Hunter's library even hired adventurers to collect specimens and share their experiences. Even Zai, the uncanny girl in their care seemed grateful to be in a settlement, even if it was far from what she would call a city, being from decadent Shelzar in the South. Even better, she didn't seem inclined to stretch out her quick and sticky fingers into the pouches of the bestial, if friendly and social, lionfolk. It was a good several days for the Band. That time had come to an end when Sigurn's exasperated host grew tired and scared of her presence and bribed her with a map to go away. He had intended it to be a big score for him, but it was too dangerous of a trek for him to make on his own, and any adventurers he hired would demand to large of a portion of what they found. But the map had peaked Sigurn's interest and he had readily given it to her as a gift, if she would just go out and follow it. The map marked the location of an outpost of the Empire of the Wheel, an empire founded by renegade male Albadian sorcerers over the fallen remains of the greatest Empire Ghelspad had ever known, the Empire of Lede. Not knowing her own father, a supposed sorcerer himself, she might learn something of what Albadian sorcerers were like. What added extra incentive to pursue the location on the map was a sigil marked on it. An arcane sigil that matched one on a fragment of one of the True Rituals recovered from the Dar al Annot coven over a year ago. Perhaps they could find the lore to make out the purpose of the terrible ritual and discover what the twisted Hag had intended for Zai. And of course, ancient ruins had their dangers, but often, they could have their rewards as well. Further, the lands of the former sorcerous empire were a desolate and cursed place. The Hunter's Library would appreciate anything they could learn of its flora, fauna, and dangers. And so, the band of women found themselves trudging across the Perforated Plains. Once a land of fished-fill rivers and fertile, green fields, now it is riven, barren rock interrupted by stunted weed-trees, hardy and bitter scrub grass and stagnant pools of water, populated by dangerous beasts and titanspawn and scarce and skittish game. What made travel through the Perforated Plains even more difficult were the plethora of treacherous sinkholes and large craters that had to circled and made it easy to lose their way. Perhaps no place in all Ghelspad had been as devastated by the Divine War as had the place now called the Perforated Plains. Though far less than the Empire of Lede that had preceded it, the Empire of the Wheel had been powerful in its own right, thanks to the might of its Sorcerer Kings, many formidable summoners, and elite warrior forces. But its end began just before the onset of the Divine War. Yngolf the Witchblooded, the High King of Albadia declared war against the Empire of the Wheel, and this time, it was no mere raid, but a full invasion. For the first time, the tattooed witches of the Helliann rode to war with their barbarian warrior. The Witchwar, as it became known, lasted for twelve years, ending only with the destruction of Mesos. With arcane magic becoming wild and unpredictable, the Witchwar ended rapidly. But the Divine War had just started. A cabal among the Sorcerer-Kings decided to side with the Titans, and by the time the rest of the Sorcerer-Kings learned of their perfidy, it was too late. The Empire of the Wheel was considered a haven of the Titans and the armies of Madriel, Tanil, and Vangal laid siege to it. As they closed upon the capital city of Aurimar, the gods strode onto the field and turned the full force of their wrath upon the city, sinking it into the ground and laying waste to the remnants of the empire. That site was now known at the Sinkhole of Non, with the Pillar of Non at its center, upon which remained the last remnants of Aurimar. From it tolled the cursed Bells of Non, which could be heard miles away and warned all those who came too close. What sealed the final demise of the land was the destruction of the Gluttonous Titan Gaurak. As the gods pulled his teeth and cast them away, they crashed onto these plains as a hail of mighty stones and boulders, up to the size of hills and mountains. The land withered under the miasma of Gaurak's endless hunger. Only slowly has the land finally started to recover. The band had been walking through the desolation for near a week, and Kora's and Siwan's skill were barely been sufficient to keep them fed, their rations growing lower than they would prefer. Game was scarce and wary of anything on two legs, or four. And the roots and berries they found were more often than not greasy, bitter, unpalatable. Even kinds that were safe in other lands could turn out to be poisonous in the Perforated Plains. Their journey had not been without incident. The women had fended off a small pack of the leonine centaur-like Proud, eternal enemies of the Manticora, who had turned away from their Titan maker, Hrinruuk. A hidden sinkhole had crumbled beneath their feet, rousing a pair of gauntlings, failed spawn of Gaurak who stood half again as tall as a man, skeletal thin with nearly transparent skin who knew only endless and unrelieved hunger. But now, looking at the map, Siwan believed they were close to their goal, perhaps reaching their goal very late tonight or sometime in the morning. The sun was a baleful orange ball on the horizon and the heat of the day was already starting to give way to the chill of the night. Slim shoulders slumped, Zai shuffled along close on Sigurn's heels, already beginning to pull her cloak close against the cold. Though they had seen no sign of them yet, the experienced travelers could sense they were being tracked, for the last day, Kora catching a hint of them on the dry wind, though she could not tell if they were more Proud or some other denizens of this cursed land. "Are we almost there yet?" Zai asked in a soft, plaintive voice as they passed through the worn down ruins of a village - little more than partial walls and foundations - that likely dated back to the Ledean Empire. Spoiler If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in chat or in the OOC thread and I'll answer as swiftly as I can. You guys have taken wounds during your journey, and it has been a trial, but at the moment, you are at full health/spells, etc. You guys picked up a bit of loot along the way, which I'll determine later (mostly just a few coins or crude bits of jewelry). Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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