Horn Gate Concealed
No such thing as a Free Lunch (in Nehwon)
Landen Donovan wasted no more time in Nehwon. He had the information he needed from Feroza, so Tech-na guided him to the riverbank beneath the full moon to return him to the Dreamlands with the black stone.
Tech-na returned to Duke Raus’ fort alone.
Duke Raus’ offer
The next day, Tech-na, Yucta, Ockasiola the Zebran and Blundar Oddly were granted an audience with Duke Raus. He was impressed with their efforts, and offered them his standard mercenary contract. Unfortunately for Raus, the adventurers refused his offer, as politely as they could. Nevertheless, the Duke invited them to tour his domain with his second-in-command Daine (perhaps so they might reconsider). This offer they accepted. Daine outlined their route. The first stop was the oasis of Horn Gate. Although a stranger to Prax, Tech-na had heard of this place, supposedly a holy place with ruins which extended deep into the mountain. It sounded interesting so the adventurers saddled up and rode out the next day, leaving Feroza to fend for himself.
The High Llama Riders
The trip across the dusty plains west of the River of Cradles took four days. On the way they met a group of High Llama Riders, searching for their lost kinsmen. Like Ockasiola they were followers of Storm Bull, so the tribesmen left in peace.
The oasis was a bustling place with white walls. Inside the walls were many conical mud huts of a strange tribe of blue-eyed folk, farmers who produced food for their masters of the Sable Tribe. Daine went to deal with the Sables and was not back for most of the day. Yucta, Tech-na, Ockasiola and Blundar wandered up to the bone-bleached ruins on the hillside.
Healer in the ruins
In the ruins the four encountered a procession of white-robed women. Yucta recognised them as healers from the Chalana Arroy cult. The lead woman spoke to them. She said her cult had been exiled from Pavis for a disagreement with the Lunars, and had found peace here at this oasis. She offered healing for any who needed it. Yucta asked about the caves and the ruins; she replied that there were many caves, but few went far.
After the healers had departed, Yucta and the others searched the hillside for caves, entering a few. Inside they found mysterious bundles of flat stones wrapped with reeds, but no long tunnels or caverns.
Hetman of the blue-eyed folk
The blue-eyed folk seemed very servile. They fetched and carried for the Sables, who treated them with contempt. Ockasiola and Yucta tried to talk with a hetman about the caves. Language was a problem; the language of the blue-eyes was like no other, though the hetman showed some interest when Tech-na babbled in Mnarish. The hetman was evasive and claimed he did not understand, then brought some herbs and fruits for the group. Yucta sensed that the man knew more, but could see no way to glean more information.
The Sable feast
Daine returned and informed the adventurers that his business was complete and that there would be a feast that night. All attended. Wine flowed freely and Yucta wandered outside to the oasis, illuminated by the waning moon.
“Sight be granted by Zola Fel,” he whispered, plunging his hands into the cool water. The moonlight filtered down through the clear water. He saw fish, lilies, but no underground water tunnels. Where were these caverns?
Next: Horn Gate Revealed