Nehwon

"Troubled Waters" sixth session, 6th March 2010

Pool of danger

Taking their leave of Duke Raus and his mercenaries, Davros Thanatos, Yucta Axotylata and Kannan Kannanson continued their journey upriver, stopping overnight at friendly fishing villages and telling their tale of the River Voices to eager listeners, Thanatos eagerly and with fervour; Axotylata more reluctantly.

A couple of days’ sail from Raus Fort the trio encountered an Agimori (a fierce and proud tribe known for their great strength and endurance) hunter who had found dead and dying newtlings by a pool. Accompanying the hunter inland, the three found the pool and the newtlings, and Thanatos managed to revive one with appropriate physicking. The newtling, Ge’hechya had tried to help his unfortunate friend when he was burned by acid in the pool, but had himself been overwhelmed. He prayed to Zola Fel and saw Davros Thanatos as his deliverer.

Peering into the pool with the power of Zola Fel, Davros spied a seemingly inert Gorp at the bottom. The heroes realised they must slay the gorp, but lacked holy water or fire which might work underwater. Yucta used his herbalism magic to locate a nearby plant which could purify the water over time. He, Kannan and the Agimori, Pachala, gathered the herbs while Davros escorted the injured newtling and the remains of his friend back to the boat. Yucta worked all afternoon and into the evening to prepare his herbs and place their distilled essence into the pool. That night, the potion took effect and there was a loud explosion in the middle of the night: the gorp had been destroyed. The three saw smaller gorp in the remains, and realised the thing had been some kind of breeder. They returned to the boat and the Agimori returned to his hunt.

Brighteye and the Pool of Kinope

Soon Grandad’s boat entered Sun County, a land of religious zealots and farmers. The boat was searched and they were allowed to pass. After a couple of days of bad weather, Grandad negotioated his boat through the quiet pools of the North Bog to the Pool of Kinope. There they met Brighteye, a giant catfish, who was also last priest of the cult of the Cleansed One. Brighteye was grumpy and peeved that Zola Fel’s attention had fallen on an outcast human and Quarmallian, but he grudgingly agreed to tell all he knew about the gorp plague, and to train either or both of the divinely visited heroes as initiates of the Cleansed One. Davros was excited by the idea; Axotylata far less so.

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"Troubled Waters" fifth session, 6th February 2010

Night of the Scorpion

Sunset on the Day of the Scorpion found Davros Thanatos, Yucta Axotylata, Kannan Kannanson at the top of parched limestone cliffs, carefully following the trail of a Beastman band who had abducted a farmer’s children. The farmer, Tros Gubrana and his brother-in-law Gidet Kevro, accompanied the trio.

Kannan held up his hand and pointed: two rat-men lookouts were visible on ridges near a streambed which divided the cliffs. Thanatos used sorcery to conceal himself and went to investigate. Sneaking through the disused passages of Quarmall was very different from picking his way over rocks and boulders. Thanatos found two caves. One seemed to contain herd beasts and carcasses; the stench was terrible. The other had eight Beastmen cackling and boasting around a fire, and a darkened second cave. After conferring with the others, Davros put his plan into action. He crept up on the first sentry and made short work of him with his strangle cord. Then he spied a third sentry; he too suffered a silent choking. The third sentry was on top of a ridge, and Thanatos could not approach stealthily. Davros ran him through with his rapier. He cried out, but was unheard in the cave below.

Kannan, Yucta, Tros and Gidet gathered outside the cave. Davros slipped past the Beastmen around the fire and investigated the second cave. When he lit a candle he saw a disgusting sight. A giant toadlike Beastman was raping the young daughter of the farmer. Davros charged, the toad-thing yelled and the Beastmen were alerted. Kannan, Yucta and the farmers prepared for battle and charged, after loosing a couple of volleys at the charging Beastmen.

Davros Thanatos traded blows with the Toad shaman. The toad-thing got the worst of it, so he leaped over Thanatos and into the main melee. There, pig- and dog-men battled with the heroes. Axotylata’s mighty mace felled beastmen here and there, including the toad shaman who tried to escape. Kannanson easily fended off blows, but found it hard to wield his spear in the close quarter fight. Tros (who had already been badly wounded by the beastmen) lost his life to a mighty maul swung by a Pig-man, and Gidet was impaled by a dog-man spear. Behind the pigs and dogs was Bigmouth, their fanatical leader, with a mouth full of sharp teeth, and a chicken beastman dropping rocks from above. Bigmouth ferociously attacked Yucta, but was slain by Kannanson’s spear. Greenpee the chicken man attacked Davros, but was killed by him.

The heroes were victorious, but a boy and his father were dead; the sister alive but shockingly abused and her uncle badly wounded. The group made their way slowly back to the homestead. On the way, they encountered the rescue party from Duke Raus’ fort. The mercenaries praised their efforts against the beastmen and offered the healing and hospitality of the Duke. The three left Gidet and the the girl at the homestead with Tros’ wife and, with Grandad carefully navigating by moonlight, made their way to Raus’ fort. After a very late but welcome meal in the mercs’ mess hall, they were granted an audience with the Duke. He was impressed with the trio’s bravery and he rewarded them for their efforts.

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"Troubled Waters" fourth session, 6th November 2009

Against the Current

Yucta, Davros and Kannan boarded ‘Grandpa’ Shing’s boat and set off from Corflu on the Day of the Newt with a good breeze. Grandpa was a cantankerous fellow who quickly put the three to work on the ship. He knew his boat and the river though, so his company was not too odious. That night they stayed with the fishermen of Lokazzi, where Davros told their tale again, building on rumours carried upstream by fish servants of Zola Fel.

The next day they entered the South Bog and progress slowed in a mire of channels. There they found the boy Greyreed and his intelligent otter companion Moonsilver. The otter’s den had been invaded by a gorp and the boy begged the three to help. The entrance to the otter’s den looked uninviting, a narrow muddy submerged hole in the bank, but Yucta dug a hole at the top to gain access to the den. Davros, Kannan and Yucta lowered themselves into the den and squeezed their way through the muddy crawlways. Davros got stuck in the crawlspace, but Kannan pushed him through to face the gorp. It was a small one, but it could only be harmed by fire, pure water or magic. The three had little enough of the latter, but Davros had a wineskin of purified water and each of them had flaming torches. Davros was injured, but the gorp was vanquished. The boy and the otter were overjoyed, and that night the three were hosted once more by grateful fisherfolk at Easy Ford.

The next day was uneventful. Yucta began to grow weary of his travelling companions. He walked by the river at nightfall near Five Eyes, but he could not shake his gloom. Why had this Zola Fel picked him, an unbeliever? He viewed the stigmata on his hands as an affliction. Davros Thanatos seemed to have embraced the river god, but Yucta viewed all gods with suspicion. He had seen what had happened in his homeland of Klesh.

The following day, the Day of the Scorpion, was ill-omened, overcast with bad winds. Everyone in the boat was subdued as they rowed hard against the current. Midafternoon they sighted plumes of dark smoke along the riverbank: distress signals, said Grandpa. They hurried to the source of the signals and found a fortified farmstead. The farmer’s shocked wife told the three that beastmen had abducted her son and one of her daughters. Her brother and husband had set off after them and she assumed all were dead (“Fools!” said Grandpa). Kannan, Yucta and Davros set off in pursuit. The trail took them up the escarpment on the river side. There they found the farmer, Tros half-dead from a fall (he was revived by Yucta), and his brother-in-law Gidet hiding in the cliffs from where they had been ambushed by beastmen. Following the trail they found the mutilated body of the boy. They continued following the beastmen’s tracks until nightfall.

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"Troubled Waters" third session, 2nd October 2009

The Mudsharks’ Den

Early in the morning of the Day of the Turtle in Wolf’s Moon, a small boat slipped out of the port of Corflu and into the wetlands. On board were Davros Thanatos, Yucta Axotylata, Kannan Kannanson, the Reverend Sa’ar, and a few riverfolk including Sarky and Dagis. The boat passed several curious excavations in the swamp, but its destination was the den of the mudsharks which had been molesting newtling workers. Yucta, Kannan and Davros had agreed to hunt them down.

With the aid of the River Eyes magic of their stigmata, the heroes quickly located the entrance to the mudsharks’ lair. Swimming inside they emerged in a muddy cave with three entrances. Angry mudsharks emerged from each, amphibious, each as large as a man with a mouthful of sharp teeth. The three heroes stood shoulder to shoulder and fought the creatures. Kannan pierced one with his spear, Yucta smashed two with his great mace, and even Davros managed to injure one. The mudsharks were defeated. Yucta found an ancient Elven navigation globe in the mud, the remnant of a long vanished port.

Reverend Sa’ar and the riverfolk were very grateful. Cries of “River Voices” rang out at the celebration of the heroes’ victory. Newtling and riverfolk gifts filled their small boat.

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"Troubled Waters" second session, 2nd August 2009

The Port of Corflu

In the rosy dawn light of the Day of the Minnow, Kannan Kannanson, proud warrior of Storm Bull surveyed the marshy delta of the River of Cradles. A single skiff was making its way downriver toward Corflu’s rocky outcrop. On board were two river folk and two strangers. One of these was a dark skinned fellow dressed in bedraggled feathers; the other hunched at the stern, draped in a tattered black robe. Kannan shrugged to himself, and returned to his post, guarding the Corflu Trade Alliance.

On board the skiff, Sarky pointed out the stockaded town of Corflu, ringed with imported timbers, while Dagis set a course to the north of the town, toward a collection of ramshackle huts. “We’ll take you to our houses; you’ll be safe there,” he said. Yucta Axotylata and Davros Thanatos were unconvinced, but they allowed themselves to be unloaded from the skiff and escorted by the river men to Sarky’s house, where they were greeted by Sarky’s wife and several children.

Dagis and Sarky suggested the pair remain indoors while they fetched the Reverend Sa’ar. Having not much better to do, the two complied. Davros requested some wine from his hosts.

As the sun climbed towards the zenith, Kannan Kannanson spotted a river man with a flagon of wine. He beckoned the man, who came reluctantly. Seeing the wine, Kannan felt like a drink, and he got what he demanded. He offered the man some wine too. Soon the wine flagon was empty, to the chagrin of the riverman, but Kannan gave him some coins to buy more. The riverman was not a habitual drinker. His tongue loosened and he told Kannan about the strangers with the mysterious stigmata. Slapping his new drinking buddy on the back, Kannan suggested they pay the newcomers a visit.

Dagis returned to the hut with the Reverend Sa’ar, a polite newtling. He had heard of the stigmata and, after comiserating with Yucta and Davros about their plight, examined their hands. What he saw made him sink to his haunches in a kind of reverie. "The reverend is thinking, " said Dagis. Presently, the reverend blinked and stood up. At that moment there was the sound of drunken singing, and Kannan Kannanson burst into the hut with one hand on a bottle and the other arm around Sarky’s shoulders.

Unfazed by this commotion, the Reverend Sa’ar spoke of a dream he had had, in which strangers appeared with marks such as those on Axotylata and Thanatos’ hands. He revealed that the marks were sometimes seen amongst the followers of the cult of the Cleansed One of the river god Zola Fel. They were the runes of Water, Movement and Harmony and they were magical (Davros’ witch sight confirmed this). Sa’ar did not know what the marks of the god were doing on the palms of these strangers. He urged Davros and Yucta, and even the somewhat stupefied Kannan to attend his evening ceremony at the Zola Fel temple in the reeds to the north of the town, and to seek more information from the Pool of Kinope in the New Bog in Sun County. With that he slipped away into the river waters.

The riverfolk were very excited by this news. They crowded around Yucta and Davros, wanting to touch the marks, now that the strangers were now River Voices and celebrities.The afternoon passed. Yucta analysed the local herbs and plants, brought to him in great piles by giggling children. Davros practised his riverfolk disguise with the help of Sarky’s family. When Kannan spotted Davros’ livid features he felt sympathetic for his past suffering. Thanatos however wanted no friendship or sympathy, only wine.

When evening came, Kannan, Davros and Yucta followed Sarky and Dagis to the Zola Fel temple, an open space in the reeds where a spring ran from a stone altar into the inlet. There were questioning looks toward the strangers until the Reverend Sa’ar appeared and gave his sermon.

The Cleansed One Hears the Voice of the River

“His eyes opened through the arts of the Three Bean Circus, the Cleansed One perceived the tragic perversion of his condition, and he despaired and would have destroyed himself. He wandered disconsolate and unknowing, and coming upon the river Zola Fel, he threw himself in the swift, deep waters that he might drown. He sank to the bottom, and tumbled along the river bottom, buffeted by the current. But miraculously, surrounded by darkness and despair, at the brink of death, he discovered within himself a mysterious hope and desire for life. His spirit cried out, and was answered by Zola Fel, for suddenly the Cleansed One could see through the dark river depths and could breathe the pure river waters.

“And he felt a hand grasp his right hand. The Cleansed One quailed, for he knew his nature was unclean, and he sensed the hand on his was pure, and he would withdraw in shame and fear, but the hand held him tight and drew him to the banks of the river. And then it seemed to him that on the river bank he slept the refreshing sleep of the pure and innocent, yet all that time his spirit was awake and speaking with a Voice. This Voice spoke to him of mysteries and quests, of tasks and trials, of duty and service, of paths that might be traveled to the Heart of the Sea and the secrets of purification that might be found in the Deep Waters.

“And when the Cleansed One awoke, he found he had new faith and purpose. And when he looked upon the palm of his right hand he saw the mark of the river god’s Runes, and knew whose hand had taken his in the darkness, and knew what Voice had spoken to him in sleep. And with the river god’s marks he also saw the Rune of Harmony, and knew that this mark was his own, the gift of the insights gathered from the Three Bean Circus. And by those marks on his hand he swore forever to be a friend to the river, and to serve it in gratitude for its gift of life and purpose.

“So you see how the Cleansed One swore to be a Voice of the River, to praise its gifts of life and purpose, and preach to all of their duty to serve the river and keep it pure, to respect its gifts that they might not be lost to waste and corruption, and to admonish those who through weakness of wit or poverty of spirit were blind to the great debt owed to Zola Fel by those who shared its bounty.”

As the Reverend Sa’ar spoke, he raised his palms. All of the worshippers did likewise, as did Yucta and Davros. The stigmata in their palms flashed with a radiant glow, causing quite a stir. While this was going on, Davros Thanatos felt a strange sense of familiarity. He became convinced that the story of the Cleansed One had urgent relevance to him. In a daze he allowed the worshippers to touch and kiss his hands. Yucta Axotylata allowed no such familiarity. In the lands of Klesh, priests were to be feared but not trusted.

After the service, Davros Thanatos eagerly pressed the Reverend Sa’ar for details about becoming an initiate of Zola Fel. Here was purpose! Back at Sarky’s house, Sa’ar told the adventurers that he had organised a boat for them north to the city of Pavis. He also asked a favour: to help hunt some mudsharks which had been terrorising his newtling followers in the swamp. The three agreed to help out.

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"Troubled Waters" first session, 26th June 2009

Davros Thanatos was tortured and flayed for daring to love a slave girl and defying his Quarmallian masters. He barely escaped dark Quarmall with his life. Meanwhile in secret Klesh, shaman and herbalist Yucta Axotylata was exiled from his jungle home for failing to save a dying elder. This unlikely pair met in the trackless wastes of the Southern Lankhmar Continent and found a strange kinship, or at least had no initial urge to slay one another. They journeyed to the banks of the wide Zola Fel river which flows south from the Mountains of Hunger to the Sea of Stars. While crossing it, their ferry was engulfed by a gigantic protoplasm of Chaos and all hope was lost.

Yucta awoke face down in mud, to find a troupe of apes attempting to pilfer his equipment. When he roared and waved his mace around the apes retreated. He noticed Davros nearby, unconscious in the mud, though there was no sign of either their boat or boatman. Neither of the men knew where they were, or even if they were still in Nehwon. The apes had a leader who could talk some man-speech. After some negotiation, the apes agreed to lead them downriver to Corflu, the nearest town. While following the apes, the pair noticed a trio of strange runes on each of their hands, seemingly tatooed with deep blue ink.

A boat appeared with two fishermen on board. Yucta hailed the boat, which picked them up. The apes departed into the reeds. Davros showed the fishermen the runes and told their tale. The fishermen were very excited. They thought that the runes were a sign from the river god Zola Fel. They suggested the adventurers visit the Reverend Sa’ar in Corflu.

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