The Coming of the Astar Uln, Part 15

Qua’Jon’s body hit the ground with a thud. He lay there for a moment, unsure of what was happening. He had seen Gwenich walk behind him with the knife, and suddenly his body was no longer supported by the bounds that held him. He rolled to his back, soft black dirt clinging to his tattered garments. Gwenich stood above him, knife in hand. The strange smile had never left her face.

“I can see things now. Truly, I can. The handle of this knife: I can see the stag who once bore this horn on his head. His name was stumble gore. When the arrow pierced his flesh, he was proud that it was Ingdol who had shot it. The warrior was known to the deer in the wood.”

Qua’Jon blinked a few times, staring blankly. He was unsure what to say about that.

“But that is not all,” she continued. “When the storm took my sight, I saw them. They were from far away, but they already loved this land. It’s important that you meet them.”

“Oh, child. Thathtil Grog Mezzserin has taken your mind, hasn’t she? I know her well. Perhaps next time we speak, I can petition the demon to lift the madness.”

Gwenich continued, as if she had not heard him. “They’ve met the badger, though they don’t know that she belongs to you. Or, rather, that you belong to her.”

At this, Qua’Jon sat straight up, his face a clenched mask of confusion. He was unable to contain his speech.

“Wormchomper? They are with my queen?”

Gwenich giggled, an eerie sound in the still tense atmosphere of the glade. “Yes, but she has yet another name now. She is doing what she can to protect them.”

Qua’Jon scrambled to his feet and stumbled backwards away from her. His motion was suddenly arrested as the rope left around his waist went taught, pulling Gwenich toward him. She caught herself on his slender chest, her arms wrapping tightly around the elf, driving the air from his lungs.

“But I need to come with you, Qwah-John. I need to know your magic. Eernon can’t see the threads of power, but I can now. Most times, I can see nothing else. I’ve been marked now, I know that.”

Qua’Jon shook his head as he breathed deeply. “But… How do you expect me to lead you to them? I have no secret ways, not tricks for this.”

“No, no. The threads, they pool together in a certain direction. The power, it must be moving toward them! I can see it seep out of the earth itself and trickle toward them like a stream. I’ll take you to them. You’ll show me how to use the threads. Show me what Eernon could not see.”

Qua’Jon thought about it briefly. He knew if he took this girl, the Mirlethians would hunt him to the ends of Samsarras. He noticed Ingdol’s affection for her, even if she had not. How else would he get away, however? And she knew of Wormchomper! His queen might need his help.

The elf let out a big sigh. He felt his scattered mind calm, the whirling motion of it slowing. “Fine. But we should go now. The longer we wait, the more danger I’m in.”

“Oh, Qwah-John.” His name was heavy in her human mouth, coming out of it like an axe out of a tree. “Eernon would not let them harm you.”

Qua-John was not so sure.

Digging in the Sand

Bones. So many bones. How many people have been buried here?

You find a rusty long sword and a small, golden vulture head worth 250 gp.

Red Sand

The sand here on the edge of the sacrificial ground is loose and looks recently churned.

Vulture Priest

The Vulture Priests are the enemy of knowledge and enlightenment. They seek to bring the eternal silence, the end of all things. Decay and obedience is their only god.

Armor Class 6 [13]
Hit Dice 1 (4hp)
Attacks 1 × Beak (1d4 or by weapon)
THAC0 19 [0]
Movement 120’ (40’)
Saving Throws D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (1)
Morale 8 (11 when at their temple)
Alignment Lawful
XP 10 
Number Appearing 2d4 (1d6 × 10)
Treasure Type D
Immune to the Divine: The spells and powers of clerics and paladins have no effect on them.
Weapons: They frequently use wickedly curved daggers, which they use for sacrificial purposes.
Soul Clouders: There is a 10% chance that any Vulture Priest can use the sleep spell once per day. The targets are still awake, but they are beset by such a deep depression that it has the same effect as sleep. They may only watch what unfurls around them.