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  #16  
Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 07:41 AM
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First day on the job
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Omacui ibn Ishan

The day of midsummer was past. That signalled two years as a slave. Two long years in which his rebellious spirit had been mercilessly crushed by the slave masters of Sheik Khayyam. Oh, he had tried to run, more than once. Each time though the punishment was worse. There was no permanent damage to him – not beyond what the gnolls had inflicted anyway. Omacui was not dumb, he knew he had been purchased by the sheik with a goal in mind. In the first months he had held himself up as special and important. The other slaves had taught him the error of his ways. He was a slave and just property.

Omacui also knew that the tasks given to him, while the tasks of a slave, were carefully selected. The tasks built up his body and his strength. Not all tasks given to slaves were like that. Cleaning the sewers left slaves crippled as often as not – and who needs to feed a crippled slave?

No, Omacui was destined for something he was sure of that.

The Sheik did have a plan for him, but first he needed to be broken. Omacui ibn Ishan had not broken easily, but the sheiks slave masters were masters of their trade, and they had time on their side. Two years, not the longest, but far from the shortest. It was a fine line to judge. To soon and loyalty to the Sheik was not guaranteed. Too long and he would not have the heart to be a warrior.


<-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=->


Outside the pen Omacui's keen ears detected the sound of feet. Quickly he rose and stood ready and waiting. The other slaves also rose from their night time rest, none as quick or as quiet as Omacui. Two warriors came into the tent and signalled for Omacui to come with them.

Could today be the day? It was not the first time he had wondered that. But experience had taught him to neither ask questions, nor to raise his expectations. Keeping his eyes on their feet, Omacui followed the warriors out of the slave compound. He was led to a tent in the compound of the soldiers and showed a long row of boots to polish, and that was the start of the day.

While he polished the boots, Omacui could heat the warriors training on the grounds outside. Every now and then they would come into sight through the flap of the tent. He watched the graceful way they swung their Scimitars. The way they seemed to dance with their blades and around their opponents.

When the warrior came back at the end of the day, Omacui had finished cleaning the boots. The warrior grunted with satisfaction. Selecting a pair he bade Omacui put them on. A slave normally went unshod – what need is there to spend money on foot-ware for a slave? However a slave also follows orders.

The boots were uncomfortable. Omacui had never worn any before in his life. As a free boy he went bare foot generally, or wore sandals to protect his feet when the family moved. Never boots – the leather alone was far too expensive for his family to squander on foot-ware. “Boy, this is your lesson for today. Take care of your boots and they will take care of you. You are to wear these boots all day, every day, taking them off only at night.” Omacui cringed as already his toes hurt.

Did I perform so poorly I am now to be tortured with my failure? Omacui didn’t understand. The warrior led him to a different tent. “Here you are to sleep. Do not try to leave the tent before you are summoned or you will be slain.

With that the tall warrior left, and Omacui started the next phase in his life – training as a slave warrior of Sheik Khayyam.
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  #17  
Old Aug 6th, 2014, 12:06 AM
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Know Thine Enemy



Dullen entered the darkened dormitory area with only the glow of his divine gift on his shield to guide him. He tried to ignore the quizzical remarks from Basil. The smaller spiders were still crawling about, but not so any as to be considered a swarm or other threat.

They picked through the remains of the husks of those who fell victim to the spiders and the gigantic mother. "Very funny that with this many bodies that nothing of value is found. No coins whatsoever. No gems. No unusual equipment, nothing.", Dullen muses.

He lifts the blanket and finds the spell book, daggers and climbing kit. "Tahir... That greedy bastard!". Dullen almost curses out loud. He decides to give him the benefit of the doubt as he can still let them know what he found a and give them all am even split. Dullen gathers up the items and places them in his backpack.

He looks at Jayed's corpse, looks as though the shroud has been unwrapped. He sees Jayed's death look, one of complete and utter horror. Dullen remembers the mother spider's deadly bite that drained him of his life. His finely crafted quarterstaff was locked in a death grip. Omacui uses a quarterstaff as a main weapon, so it only made sense to retrieve it. It wasn't like Jayed was going to need it any longer.

As Dullen reaches out to grab the quarterstaff, his hand comes in contact with one of Jayed's paws. Dullen's eyes turn blue as he hears the words of his patron echo in his head, "DULLEN, MY SERVANT! YOU HAVE DONE WELL AND ARE DESERVING OF MORE OF MY GIFTS. YOU NEED TO KNOW THINE ENEMY. TO THIS END I NOW GRANT YOU THE ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THEIR LANGUAGE. YOU HAVE MUCH PROMISE. CONTINUE TOWARDS PERFECTION."

Dullen falls to the ground feeling exhausted.

Basil rushes to him, "Dullen, are you okay?!"

Dullen staggers to his feet. Looking down at Basil, he rubs his head, tossling Basil's hair about, "I'm feeling enlightened my friend, enlightened."



 


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Last edited by ShinobiMaster123; Aug 9th, 2014 at 09:51 AM.
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  #18  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 03:44 AM
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Knucklebones

Dawn broke, and Omacui spat sand out of his lips. His mouth was already dry as light spread over the landscape. The breeze of the morning fluffed sand into eddies, and a small amount blew into his face. Fifty yards away he could see his squad’s tents. Lined up under them were his squad mates. They had the day off, and got to spend it witnessing his punishment as a lesson for them as well.

The sun was rising behind Omacui, but as he was buried up to his neck in he couldn’t see it. Later in the day it would be torture, blasting his already parched face – drilling into his eyes and burning his all too thin eyelids. Already he could feel his thirst starting to build up. It was going to be a long day – a long day to dwell on how he ended up there. Omacui sent his mind back, remembering and dwelling. Learning.

The bones were thrown again, and Sakhr won again. Omacui looked on in disbelief. “That’s impossible.”. The other men around the fire exchanged knowing glances, but nobody said anything. “That’s a week of night watches your owe me.” The apprentice warrior glared at each other. Omacui knew there was cheating going on, and looking around he could see the others knew too. Revenge would come, but he’d have to wait for the right moment.

It was the middle of the day. Only the middle, the hottest part was still to come. Omacui’s tongue was like a piece of dried leather. His eyes were red and sore from the sun and from wind-blown sand. He remembered his time being staked out as a child – so many years ago. This was different. As the sun heated the sand, the heat slowly worked down his body – cooking him. Memories of his childhood wouldn’t help him here though. No, to survive in his new life, he had to learn new lessons. Once again his mind drifted back…

Sweat beaded his face as Omacui stood in the line. To his left was Sakhr, bane of his existence. To his right was Amal. All were dressed in the heavy chain shirt that seemed to catch every bit of heat of the day. On their left arms hung heavy shields and in their right hands there were heavy metal scimitars – all but glowing with the heat of the sun. The cry went up as a horde of painted men charged the line. Omacui swung at the closest, but the blunt edge of the training scimitar glanced off the ‘barbarians’ weapon. <swing>, <block>,<swing>,<block>. To his left Sakhr was hard pressed, while to his right Amal managed a lucky blow and actually brought down his attacker – winning but a moment of respite before the next antagonist pushed forward. To his left Sakhr was holding, but only just – he was wilting under a massive series of blows. For a moment Omacui was tempted to raise his shield – to give the man a respite but he was still tired from the extra night watches Let him suffer, and then Sakhr went down. The ‘barbarian’s flooded through the gap and it was all over in moments, the recruits all beaten and pummeled to the ground.

The sun was shining in his eyes now. Two, maybe three hours until sunset, two or three lifetimes it felt. Two or three hours to learn consequences. Why am I being punished? It wasn’t me who was beaten down. The sun beat down, merciless. The sun pierced his burned eyelids with its unrelenting rays. As once before he saw his mother, wreathed in a fire that saw through all deception. She leaned down and kissed him again, and again it was not his mother. At the touch of her lips he heard again the voice of his captain addressing the squad. “Your line could have held today. It should have held today. It was let down by one of you.” . The captains steely gaze didn’t rest of Sakhr though. It fell on Omacui, “The weak point was Omacui. His was the failure, the failure to protect Sakhr. To fail your fellow warrior is a crime, and all crimes are punished. At another time, to fail your fellow will lead to your death – all your deaths. So with the rise of the sun Omacui will learn a taste of what that may be like. And you will all learn with him.

It was dark now. The men he served with were coming forward, but Omacui was only vaguely aware of them. Slowly they dug him out and dampened his lips. Sakhr too had learned a lesson that day – but not from the bruises of the practice weapons. His ‘lucky’ knucklebones were never seen again in the camp.
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  #19  
Old Oct 23rd, 2014, 05:36 AM
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Circles in the sand
Sakhr had been goading him for days. It was just the little things. Sandals made untidy before inspection. The polish for his armour finished when he’d requisitioned a new pot just last week. Small amounts of sand in his boots that at the end of the day left his feet feeling like they had been beaten.

The real problem, Omacui reflected, was that there was no prospect of it stopping. He was above petty revenge, and lacked any real skill at it any way. Sakhr was quite popular in the tent as well – or at least so it appeared to Omacui. The words of his father haunted him too “Do as you would be done by Omacui. That is what the gods ask of us.”. But his father had also said “Treat others with honour, and don’t allow them to do less than that to you.” That lesson had been beaten out of him by the slave masters – but Sakhr was also a slave, so they were in a sense equals.

The problem was eventually solved by the Areef. Areef Abdul-Azim didn’t miss much, and he knew when trouble was brewing. Young men, chips on shoulders and real weapons are a bad combination – and if one of them did a permanent injury to the other, it was him who would be paying the price. Azim grabbed the two young slaves by their ears and marched them outside.

Throwing them to the ground, he drew a large circle around them. The other members of their squad sauntered out of the tent to watch. As the excitement and chatter built up, a number of warriors from the other tents also came to watch.

You two are trouble, and that trouble is now in the circle.” he quickly stripped the two men of their weapons, passing them to Amal. “The trouble is to remain in the circle. As are the two of you until this is settled.” The Areef stepped back outside the circle, and drew a whip from his waist band. For a moment Omacui stood still, not really knowing what to do. Sakhr, the more experienced, grinned. It appeared this had been his intent all along. “Now we see if you can actually fight.” he snarled dashing forward to try and knock the younger man out of the circle before he was prepared.

Omacui staggered back from the sudden impact, his right foot giving ground, and then his left. It a moment he found himself standing outside the circle on the ground. And a moment after that there was a line of fire on his back as the whip of Areef urged him back in. “The trouble still sits there, get back in and fight.” Now Omacui was quick and strong. Stronger than Sakhr, but fighting in the ring was something he had never done before. Every time he tried to launch an attack, he found himself on the defensive with Sakhr taking the opportunity to punish his inexperience mercilessly. Within a couple of minutes Omacui’s arms were sore from absorbing so many blows, and his ears were ringing from a couple he had not been able to catch. Omacui had a slight degree of satisfaction in seeing that one of Sakhr’s eyes had been closed by his own blows – but it was obvious who was winning. Gathering himself for one final attempt to flatted Sakhr, Omacui didn’t even see the fist that landed squared on his chin, knocking him cold.

The next he knew it was night. His face had been bathed in cold water and he was lying on his rug. Next to him was Amal. The smaller man smiled. “I think you gave Sakhr a scare. He was expecting you to give up, and that one you landed on his face. A work of beauty. Still, I’d get some more practise before you end up in the ring with him again.

Last edited by aerondor; Oct 23rd, 2014 at 05:43 AM.
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  #20  
Old Nov 15th, 2014, 09:04 PM
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The Nightmare

Dullen is floating in the sky, over the monestary. He looks down upon his bloody corpse as they others fight the gnolls and Jann of Kelmarane. Why did they go there? Lady Almah has indeed contracted them, but the plan was so full of holes. His idea of bringing in the refined pesh was indeed sound. Once they sampled the quality of the pesh, they were like ants on sugar. They actually could make a business of it.

Only Tahir and Dullen were used to being around this sort of scum and could fit in somewhat. Unfortunately Drusilla and Omacui were not very good at acting and gave them away. After a short chase through the streets of Kelmarane, they were cornered on all sides. Being their prisoner before, Drusilla vowed not to allow that to happen again as the carnage began. Omacui and Drusilla carved a highway through the gnolls, their fighting skills unmatched. Tahir threw his daggers with expert percision dropping the wounded and some of the more vulnerable targets. Dullen guarded the rear as usual, but that proved to be his undoing. The leader of the town, stood before him with that massive axe. Even with the gifts he had been given by Irori did not stop the onslaught he delivered.

Each swing causing massive wounds with the last one cutting off his right arm. Dullen watched in shock as his limb flopped on the ground. Blood gushing out like a river out of his stump, until his heart stopped beating.

Dullen noticed the bright light from above as he floated up into the sky. Soft music plays in the background as he hears an ominous voice, "Dullen, why are you here?" Dullen looks confused as he states to his diety, "Irori, my Lord? What do you mean? After serving you loyally, is it not here that I should be?"

Irori"s voice booms aloud, "Your mission is over, when you find your true origin and that is in back there in Kelmarane... "

Dullen is suddenly falling back to the ground at break neck speed. Just as he hits the ground, he awakens back in his bed in the monestary. He breathes heavy as he wipes the sweat from his brow, with his right hand. His left hand in pain, he looks over as his holy symbol was gripped so tightly that the emblem was imbedded in his palm.

As his breathing starts to stedy, he just says one word, "Kelmarane..."
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Last edited by ShinobiMaster123; Nov 15th, 2014 at 09:04 PM.
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  #21  
Old Jan 8th, 2015, 12:36 AM
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Shadows and Dust part 3The sound of some fragile pottery artwork, no doubt expensive, shattering against the far wall echoed about the room. Its executioner stalked back and forth across the room in a fury, for Tahir, only recently come of age, had the hot fire of a young man enraged flowing through his veins. In the end, it was no surprise when his anger turned upon the only other living thing in the room. But perhaps even Solan Carrid was surprised with the swiftness of its delivery. In the space of seconds, Tahir had crossed to the other sides of the room and grabbed the older man by the expensive and delicate fabric that made up his robes before forcefully slamming his employer up against the wall. "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!"

The power behind the move had Solan's head banging painfully against the walls of his grand office, and it took a moment for him to gather his senses. But when he did, a glare of ice met Tahir's eyes. "Put. Me. Down." The amount of authority and command those words contained was enough for Tahir to drop the readily available vent for his anger and take a step back, giving Solan the time to take a breath before speaking again. "I will overlook your trespass this once, just this once, given your situation. But you will not lay your hands on me in such a manner again. Am I clear?" The youth's mute frustrated node was the old man's only answer, but it would do. "Good, now as for what happened, it is like I said, your mother was killed. As best we can tell, one of the customers felt the need to vent his frustration, much as you just did." The tone of the latter part is not cutting, the words themselves do not need the support for they do it just fine on their own. Tahir grips the sides of his head before taking the opportunity to reply. "And are you not going to do anything about? Are your brothel guards so incapable that they cannot even find their own a-"

But Solan cuts him off. "Your mother is, was, a slave boy! In this city's grand scheme of things her passing or those of others like her will never even be noticed." A hand is all that keeps Tahir from interjecting. "She was property, an object. But she was also my property. And yet, the most I can do is ban him from my establishments and trading partners while putting him on report to the city guard, which will in the end-" Here, Tahir speaks, interrupting Solan with a vicious sneer. Of course he knows she was a slave, he has ever since he was old enough to understand and acknowledge what it was she truly did for him, which given his growing up without the allowance of naivete meant since he was fairly young. "Which in the end, will amount to fines, meaning absolutely NOTHING!" The old man sniffs dismissively. "And what are you going to do about it boy? Are you going to hunt Assafey down and exact vengeance yourself? Have you ever even killed another man before Tahir?" His employer eyes the lad curiously. "Let me tell you, there is a difference, a big difference, between merely cutting a man, beating him, hurting him, or shedding his blood, and actually finishing the job." The boy, no, young man, had already stopped listening. "Assafey? The name is Assafey?" He was already walking towards the door.

Solan's eyes widened in what was almost disbelief. "Have you even been listening to me Tahir? Are you so willing to throw away everything in your mad pursuit of vengeance? The man is a guild member boy! You'll be executed yourself!" Tahir barely even looks back, even as he draws one of his now six knives. "So be it." A strangely conflicted expression crosses the older man's face. "WAIT! Wait. At least give me two days. Two days to ply my contacts as to the man's location. To find something!" Tahir tossed the dagger to the opposite wall where it planted itself in the middle of a rather upscale dartboard that the old man almost never used. "One. You have one day old man."

***

The same time, a day later, they were once more in the great office, and Tahir was checking and rechecking his blades, as well as a few other things. He had spent most of the morning setting up something in a basement level room of a mostly abandoned building once used by the Scorpions as a combination home and hideout, a thought that had him glancing at the black tattoo on his right forearm more than once as he did it. "What have you found?" Tahir had no intentions of wasting time, for a little over a day Assafey had been all but allowed to freely roam the city whilst facing no consequences for his actions. "Enough." Was the response given, although Solan elaborated quickly. "He's hiding out in the Lower City for the moment, and about as far away from the bazaar as one can be whilst remaining so. Here." Solan handed a folded parchment to Tahir, who quickly opened it to reveal a very localized map.

A cruel smile crossed his face, quickly becoming a vengeful smirk. He knew right where this was, and the irony was the it was only across the street and two floors above the level of the basement rooms in which Tahir had prepared for his plans later tonight. "One more thing boy. Word is Assafey is on the out with his guild. The chance is slim, but present, that you will live if the guards find you after this. If so, I will see to your release, you are sending a message for me here after all, even if it is unlike the others." Tahir's expression became stony. "I am not doing this for you." The old man nodded. "I know that, and yet you are still doing me a service here, whether that is your intention or not. Now go." His employer gave him the dismissal, although it was entirely unneeded as Tahir was already leaving, as Solan turned to gaze out the balcony window at the looming sunset.

***

Nightfall found Tahir sitting on the roof of a building that had once felt very much like a home. That it no longer did so did matter in relevance to his preparations. The mostly underground rooms two floors below would help serve to keep noise muffled to a degree, though not entirely. His little fire was already burning, which also meant the sand of the hourglass was already slipping past his grip. Truthfully, the thing he had most worried over was getting Assafey from the building across the thin street from him in which the murderer apparently lived to the place of his planned revenge. The bastard wasn't even hiding. If anything, all did was stoke the enraged fire in Tahir's blood as well as give cause to some doubt in the old man's information. Not that he really cared about the latter. One way or another, Assafey would die tonight. Preferably in a lengthy, torturous method, but even if Tahir was forced to let that wish go ungranted, he would still see the other man dead before sunrise.

No more thoughts, enough time had been wasted thinking, it was time for action. Hefting up a rolled up rug, the knife fighter tossed it to the opposite rooftop. From his vantage point Tahir could see his quarry look up at the roof over his head for a moment before returning to his meal. If the partially emptied bottle next to the man was any hint, Assafey's perceptions and his interpretations of them were both somewhat dulled. Good. With a steadying breath Tahir stepped over to the edge of a doubled up clothes line hanging between the two buildings, and while keeping his arms out to either side to balance him, as well as being ready to catch himself if he fell, move to cross between the rooftops. Doing it had always gotten his blood pumping, and he had fallen once or twice before when he was younger and first trying it. He had even broken his left arm the second time, and had counted himself lucky to escape with just that, but eventually he had gotten the hang of it. Others could do it faster, but Tahir preferred not to increase the chance of a misstep.

Reaching the rooftop meant the first half of getting to Assafey was done, but it was still only a stepping stone. Hefting the rug Tahir crossed to the thin trapdoor on the opposite end of the roof, before using his foot to lift the chain attached to its top, opening his way in. It was quiet and dark in the small hallway below, which was to be expected. The other tenants residing on this floor were either already in their rooms preparing to rest, or out working one of the many jobs that kept Katapesh active at all hours. Or in the taverns and brothels. Both strong possibilities. Either way, it worked for Tahir, and he did not have the desire to linger on it just now. Crossing to the door that window counting had told him was Assafey's, Tahir leaned the rug against the wall and quietly tried the door. Locked. Well, barred to be more accurate. Rooms and homes in this part of the Lower City often used the much cheaper thin wooden plank method as opposed to actual locks. It was a problem, as he would actually have to break in the door to get to his mother's murderer. Things like that tended to make noise. Or...

Tahir's face is a sly one as he takes a closer inspection of his current obstacle. The door was thin enough that he might be able to use a blade to push the plank up and away. Really, it was barely even a plank, just the barest excuse of something to keep the door shut. It worked like a charm. The clatter of it dropping to the floor was unfortunate, but still much better than if he had broken the door down instead. It quickly became evident however, that Lady Luck had felt the need to balance out the good fortune it had bestowed thus far in tonight's endeavor with some of an entirely different quality. For a moment, between the door being pushed open and what followed, time stood still as Tahir stared into another pair of startled eyes looking straight back at him. Eventually it crashed back together like air thundering after a bolt of lightning. Or Tahir bludgeoning Assafey upside the head with the nearest solid object, which happened to be the tin plate he had apparently been eating off of, until the older man collapsed to the floor. A dreadful sort of silence filled the room, arresting everything within in a suspenseful grip. It was not the silence of death, something that would not yet come for a while, but that of a man trying to be quiet and failing, helplessly lying in wait for the sound of someone having heard him to reach his ears. It never came.

Bringing forth the rolled up rug that had slowed his journey most of the night, he put it to work in the purpose that he deemed to have been worth the effort. Namely re-rolling it around his mother's killer's momentarily limp form. He would not have long before the other man awoke, and likely called for help. The constant nagging voice in the back of his head at his own stupidity for not waiting for the older man to fall asleep before entering the tenement chose to remain persistent in its mental barrage, one that Tahir forced on himself. That one miscalculation could have seen him dead without bringing some sort of vengeful justice on he whom deserved it most gnawed at him. It did not, however, keep him from continuing. Lugging the rolled rug and hidden uncontentious murderer over his shoulder, Tahir set out on his brief trek down the stairs and across the street to his abandoned and empty destination. It was a journey that should have taken less than a minute, but instead took nearly five as Tahir found himself jumping at the slightest sound and slowing to a snail's crawl to peek around every corner.

***

Assafey's awakening would not at all have been considered pleasant by normal standards. But in comparison to what he was about to be subjected to, it might as well have been heavenly. Tahir hurled the bucketful of water to splash against his soon to be victim's form and then followed it up with the bucket itself the moment the other man's eyes shot open. The scene those eyes took in was terrifying one once all the implication were slowly accounted for as Assafey's mind caught up with himself. He was in a smallish room, one who's nearly every object it contained had a decent amount of dust and grim gathered about itself, telling an easy enough story of lack of use and disrepair. The lack of windows and general cool temperature suggested a basement room, and a fire burned in a corner pit. Assafey had no way of knowing it, but that pit had been dark for more than a year by this point, until now. Next to the small fire pit lay a rack and a tray, upon which object both sharp and smooth lay coldly glittering even as they were lit aglow by the heat in which they basked.

Then, of course, there was Tahir himself, standing opposite to where he sat with six knives of varying length strapped across his clothing. "You've spent enough time resting I think, certainly enough to last you the rest of your life. Not that it will last the night."It was a cold burning fury that was alight in the young man's eyes, and not something that was merely an illusion cast by the firelight. Indeed, the latter would have been a far more comfortable gaze than what met his own right then. "Do you know who I am?" Tahir asked, letting the words hang in the air alongside the smoke from the fire. Assafey scowled. "Solan's errand boy-" Whatever he might have continued that with would remain a mystery, as he cut himself off with a narrowed stare at Tahir. "You're that whore's brat aren't you?" Assafey laughed, half in nervous release and half in mocking scrutiny. While Tahir had been Solan's primary messenger and errand runner for a few years now, and known for being moody and impulsive, if reliable when it came to it, he certainly wasn't a killer. Scary enough sure when he tried, but Assafey now had himself convinced that a hard beating was the worst he could expect from the boy this night.

The backhanded fist certainly didn't seem intent on proving him completely wrong just yet. The older man went to move a hand to his bloodied nose only to find them restrained. "You throw a mean fist boy, but that's all it will be I think." Another shaky laugh. "But you're no killer. Giving someone a beating? Easy as breathing if you want it to be. But killing someone? Those two are planes apart. I speak from experience of cour-" Assafey found it rather hard to finish the sentence. Understandable, when you're too busy screaming your lungs out at having your right hand impaled with the slamming blow of a knife's blade. He had little time at all to recover or resist when Tahir took the opportunity to stuff some old rags into the other man's wide open throat, before tying it off with a regular gag, leaving little in the way of Assafey's screams to escape as Tahir wrenched the knife bloodily from the hand into which it had been impaled. "Perhaps. But I guess we will find out tonight won't we?" The great gushing stream of blood from the wounded hand caught his eyes as he reached for something set by the fire.

"Now, I'm afraid I can't have you bleeding too much just yet, or there won't be anything left for later." The scent of burning flesh came next as Tahir pressed a searingly hot rod against the wound. He only had one chance of doing this, and thus everything had to be right, which meant his prisoner's suffering had scarcely begun. It didn't keep a certain amount of doubt from gnawing at him, set loose by the murderer's words. The knife thrower shook his head, he had no time to spare to such things right now, no room to doubt himself and his capabilities, and only the road forward tot he next of what he had planned for tonight...

***

Hours later, a much less sure of himself Tahir looked down on his victim. Assafey no longer much resembled the appearance that of a man, instead merely a mass of flesh landmarked with cauterized cuts and stumps. The latter found themselves at empty wrists and ankles, and other places left unsaid. The former left their bearer's skin in a state that would have made even the most bloodthirsty of nine-tales envious. And yet, Tahir found himself frozen even as he heard the pounding of feet and the thudding of doors being forced open, unfortunate consequences of his gag failing a few minutes prior. Tortured, bloodshot eyes stared back up at him from pits he had never quite gotten around to putting out. He had come this far, done so much in the name of vengeance and justice, and yet he hesitated when his only chance to finish it was quickly slipping through his fingers. He had mutilated the man beyond repair, and yet it wasn't what he really wanted. Had he not wanted nothing more than this man dead? Why then did his hand waver?

The sounds were closer now, and had left the stairs. The intruders were in the basement, and would be on him in seconds. And still, he did not strike. Could not strike. Was he so weak? To have come this far and not finish the ultimate blow? Ironically, Assafey's words hours before echoed in his ears, nigh unto a taunting chant. Somewhere along the way they merged with Solan's own from still hours before that. The door crashed inward behind him and time seemed frozen. He had waited to long, and the first of many hands even now grabbed at his shoulder on the left, pulling at him and spinning him away from Assafey. 'No!' The grip that now moved to his other arm even as he was knocked off his feet very nearly ended it there. It was however, an immeasurable amount of time too slow. A flick of the wrist had been all that the young man needed to send his blade away, and the last sight Tahir saw as he was beaten unconscious was the life leaving Assafey's eyes even as the thrown blade settled into his heart.

***

His cell was a bland, small thing. More than a little filthy as well. What was hard to tell however, was whether or not he was worse than the cell he had been tossed in a week ago. It was tough to be certain, he stank of sweat and blood, indeed he was covered in the dried remains of the latter, and his clothing ripped and soiled by that familiar rusty color. His hair remained matted and filled with sand and muck even now seven days later. At least the blood wasn't his. Well, mostly not his. The guards hadn't been at all gentle when they had moved him, nor when they had tossed him in this dank and forsaken place. Murderers weren't usually looked upon kindly after all. He was also sure the story of Assafey's gruesome death had circulated quickly enough. It would also certainly explain being looked upon as a monster. A hiss of breath escapes Tahir's mouth as he moves to get off the uncomfortable metal affair that was supposed to be a bed. It would have been a laugh were it not for the pain reminding him of the beating some of the guards took it upon themselves to give so generously.

Not that he cared, Assafey had deserved it. Deserved worse actually. In retrospect, an hour or two was still far to quick to offer proper recompense for his mother's death. The sixteen year old young man moved to grip the bars of his cell, mournfully thinking on the fact of his mother's, Farah's, death. It was a wonder he was even in the cell at all, he had expected execution as the punishment for exacting revenge, and he had accepted that price. Perhaps the man, his mother's employer, had been right in his information, that Assafey had fallen out with his guild. If that was not the case, he would have been dead already. Footsteps begin echoing down the hall outside the bars, first Tahir thinks it just the guard patrolling, but the timing is off. That, and there are too many footsteps he quickly notices. Tahir stands straighter, perhaps they have decided to beat him again. Fine, they would get no satisfaction of sound from his lips. It is only when he spots the old man with the guards, and coin-purses significantly lighter than usual, does he suspect the man was able to keep his word.

A key turns in the lock and he is now free. The guards look at him in disgust before leaving. The old man sniffs in disgust too, but for entirely different reasons. "Yeah, I smell terrible I know." The old man nods, and no matter how much Tahir doesn't like him the bundle of clean clothes tossed his way is certainly appreciated. Switching clothes with no care for modesty, the old man has certainly seen more than a little naked flesh, he nods in thanks. Finally the old man speaks. "You did not make it easy for me to keep my word did you? I expected you to kill the man painfully, anyone in your place would have, but the tales being told in corners speak of what you did. I had to pay nearly double the gold I planned on to get you out." The 'You owe me' went unsaid yet heard. "I'll work the difference off, besides, was it not you who said 'there is not a price on sending a proper message if one considers it important enough'?" The old man snorted. "Well that message was certainly sent well. Perhaps too well, but no matter. Here."

He hands Tahir a small leather pouch, which opens to reveal a few coins and a necklace. "The coin is for Trillia's, I guessed you would need a bath and I have perhaps never been more right. The necklace was your mother's, as I am certain you know." Tahir nodded silently as he pulled the necklace from the bag's confines. The gold chain was well made, but paled in comparison to the detail of what was attached to it. A spread-winged eagle made of fine gold hung between his hands. The detailing was immaculate, each individual feather sculpted beautifully, almost as if someone had shrunken a real bird and turned it to gold. His attention was drawn to the eyes, small sapphires that glimmered in the light. The entire piece was slightly smaller than the palm of his hand. And it was all he had left of her now. That somber thought dulled the light from his eyes, and he pulled it over his neck and tucked the amulet under his clothing. He really was on his own now wasn't he?
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Old Feb 11th, 2015, 10:05 PM
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Grak'Ark - An Unforgettable Lesson

An Unforgettable LessonBlood rolled down the starving gnoll's chin as he ripped into the small pig he had skewered with his spear. The metallic taste of the creature's blood was glorious and sent a shockwave of energy coursing through his body so powerful as to cause him to shake.

Grak'Ark had enjoyed his time with the druid Mug and was learning a great deal about the world around him. He saw and felt a connection with the earth and found himself drawn closer to Lamashtu with each lesson taught him by the powerful druid.

But Mug's pantry had left him in a near perpetual state of hunger. The druid refused to eat meat, explaining that he did not need to take life in order to nourish his body. Mug insisted he could live off the bounty of the earth and live in harmony with the creatures of the earth.

Mushrooms, wild herbs and berries were all that he kept in his home. Grak'Ark had subsisted on this since he had agreed to be tutored by the druid, but two months without meat had put him on edge. His hunger had driven him to hunt, his hunger had driven him to kill one of the creatures that Mug held so dear to him.

He ate quickly, slurping down the liver of the porcine creature with one bite of his blood filled maw. He rushed himself, knowing what the consequences of his actions would be if Mug found out.

And so when he heard his mentor step out from the nearby bushes, his heart dropped. He had been caught killing one of the forest creatures. The druid would turn him away and stop teaching him.

"I can explain..." Grak'Ark began as he desperately tried to think up a lie for his actions.

" You had better explain!" Mug snapped in response, hiding his smile has he looked at the trembling gnoll.

"Two months of eating nothing but nuts and berries? For a while there I thought you were going to try to eat me me once you snapped from hunger!" he said, shaking his head.

"You... You aren't mad at me for killing this pig?" Grak said incredulously.

"Did the beast suffer?" the druid asked calmly, knowing the answer, since he had been following the gnoll since he left the camp.

"No, the kill was clean. A single thrust of my spear through the heart." Grak'Ark replied.

"Then you did as you should have. You are a gnoll, a predator. It is in your nature to kill and eat flesh. To subsist on roots and twigs would be unnatural, it would have gone against what you are. " Mug responded.

"Why did you not tell me?! I was SO hungry! I could have been doing this all along!" Grak'Ark asked through his blooded maw.

"Because you needed to learn to trust your own nature. And this way, it is a lesson you'll never forget."

Last edited by Squeak; Feb 12th, 2015 at 12:23 AM.
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Old Mar 27th, 2015, 11:13 PM
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A Few Tidbits on gnoll culture

GNOLL PACK MENTALITY
Gnolls live in tribes numbering between 10 to 100 gnolls, based on the size of the territory they claim. The are quite social creatures and have learned the value of hunting, fighting, eating and sleeping as a group. Most gnolls live in a single pack their entire lives, occasionally individuals and groups break off to form their own tribes. Surprisingly, gnolls are resistant to the deficiencies that often come with incest and mating with litter mates is not uncommon.

Gnolls very seldom live alone, forging tight relationships with other gnolls and on very rare occasions, members of other races. However, there are times when a tribe becomes too big or individuals are expelled from the pack for various reasons. At these items, new tribes are formed. These new tribes always relocate themselves outside of the hunting area of their old pack and often find themselves at odds with their former tribe.

Gnoll Packs are pockets of tribe members that wonder off, hunt, patrol, or scout beyond their tribe territory, usually 5% or 10% the size of their host tribe. Packs follow the same hierarchy of tribes but on a smaller scale, with special relationships being worked out daily between the individuals with an Alpha leader clawing their way to the top. No matter the loyalties within the pack to that Alpha, the tribe leader has the final say in where they stand in the world.

GNOLL PROGENY
While gnolls find mate-partners for life, rape by both male and female gnolls - even among mated individuals - is quite common in violent gnoll society. Unlike their hyena cousins who allow only the alpha pair to mate, all gnolls are able to procreate. Scholars believe this is because of the high death rate among newborns, with less than 10% of gnoll pups surviving beyond their first year of life. Gnoll pups do not drink milk, but are born with fully functional digestive tracts. Their first meal of a pup is the placenta of their mother.

While litters are typically between 3 and 5 gnolls, on rare occasions a single gnoll is born. This happens when the unborn pup is so dominant that is kills and devours it's litter mates in the womb. These births are highly celebrated as a gift of Lamashtu and such pups are considered destined for greatness.

Life for a young gnoll is difficult and the first months are based on the whim of the Alpha. The Alpha controls food distribution and will often give preferential treatment to selected pups while leaving others to starve. Young pups learn to hunt at three months of age, focusing on insects, rats and even their own litter mates when food is scarce.

GNOLLS HEIRARCHY
Gnolls have a highly regimented social structure based on might. The strongest of the pack is the Alpha, or the leader of the pack. The balance of the pack all knows their position within the hierarchy, with the stronger often bullying the weaker. The social order changes quite frequently, when gnolls of a lower station challenge gnolls of a higher station for superiority. While it is not unusual for gnolls to advance by killing their betters when they are injured, weakened or even sleeping, it is considered cowardly and if discovered usually results in the culprit being ostracized or expelled from the pack.

Staring at gnoll is considered a sign of disrespect and is the way in which social challenges are started, which is why weaker gnolls keep their eyes focused downward when facing their social betters. A gnoll social challenge is highly ritualized and similar to the human fight of kshat'ara, but without a space limit and with fewer rules. The winner must either kill or force the loser to surrender.

GNOLL SOCIAL CHALLENGE
A gnoll that wants to rise in the pack will have to test another who who is dominant. The challenge and test is extremely ritualized. First, the dominant gnoll stares into the challenger's eyes, a low growl also accompanies this display. If the challenging gnoll returns the stare, the dominant gnoll will show his teeth and snarl. If this too is echoed, the dominant gnoll will bump the challenger with his shoulder, or place his paws on the challenger's back, which begins the challenge. If a dominant gnoll refuses a challenge without a good reason (such as injury or obviously urgent issues, such as a planned battle), he will lose his status to the challenger.

Fighting is done with no space requirements and few limitations, One gnoll must either yield or die for the other to advance. A yielding gnoll will admit defeat verbally, then show his vulnerable stomach to the winner in submission.

Surprisingly, being forced to submit during a challenge does not bring any dishonor to the loser nor does it typically result in any bad feelings on the part of the loser. In fact, the opposite is typically true -- gnolls who are defeated in a challenge often find a new-found respect for those that best them.

FOOD
Food represents a very important aspect of a gnolls life. While they are omnivorous, gnolls eat meat whenever possible. They prefer the flesh of intelligent creatures, since they scream better than other prey, but are not above eating any type of flesh - including that of their own kind. Gnolls have a strong metabolism which allows them to eat even rancid meat without ill effect.

The highest ranking members of the society always taking the first of the kills, with the weaker gnolls get their share in turn. Smart pack leaders ensure that the entire pack gets some food to ensure the health of the pack, although the old and infirm are often ignored. Because of this, gnolls seldom live beyond the age of thirty.

Gnolls are able to gorge themselves, eating up to 40% of their body weight at a single sitting. A well fed gnoll becomes complacent and lazy, seldom doing anything of consequence until they once again feel the pangs of hunger or motivated by fear.

Gnolls can partake in pesh but heavy users are expelled or killed. Pesh is anorectic, suppressing appetite and calling high anxiety. Appetite and eating are a show of health and strength in gnoll culture, it was what they were put on earth to do by the Mother of Monsters. Gnoll followers of the Rough Beast tend to overlook this more.

DISCIPLINE
Gnolls typically are an undisciplined group, only obeying rules when forced to do so. They rarely follow direct commands unless given with the threat of a social superior. Those commands rarely last very long, with the duration varying based on the strength of the one giving the order.

There is an important exception to this lack of discipline as relates to battle. The pack mentality of the gnolls make them incredibly organized in battle, as they understand the power of partnership and battle formations. Gnolls seldom break formation even during the strongest onslaughts, understanding that the best chance of survival comes from fighting together as a pack. The strict hierarchy of the culture also plays a role here, with the next in command taking over as soon as the Alpha of a group is killed or becomes incapacitated.

EXTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS
Gnolls consider most other races as inferior, particularly those who are smaller than they are. Individuals of other races can gain the respect of gnolls by either demonstrating their strength. This can be done either through a challenge or simply witnessing the prowess of an individual in battle.

Pafe is a pejorative term used to describe all who do not worship Lammashtu. Most non-gnolls fit into this category and as such gain the derision from gnoll society. While it is possible for a gnoll to ally themselves with 'pafe', such alliances are typically short-lived and seldom result in anything close to what civilized society would consider friendship. However, a gnoll pafe -- one who turns their back on the goddess Lamashtu are considered mortal enemies by other gnolls, who will do whatever they can to destroy them in the most painful way possible.

GNOLL INTELLIGENCE

While many of the civilized races consider gnolls to be unintelligent, that is typically not the case. While it is true that gnolls do not have a written language nor any formal schooling, they are not 'stupid' by any means. They are quite cunning in regards to things they find important, such as hunting, scavenging and in warfare. Gnoll battle commanders have been known to outmaneuver the most educated military leaders of civilized society during prolonged battles.

While gnolls are bloodthirsty savages, they do understand the value of patience and importance of thinking before they act. They are always seeking to put themselves in advantageous positions, whether in battle, trade or within their social structure.

Last edited by Squeak; Mar 30th, 2015 at 06:56 PM.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 05:17 PM
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The Meditation

Dullen enters an area of the Dawnflower's temple to meditate and contact Irori for guidance.

Dullen strips down to his loincloth and starts a fire in a location discreet location of the monestary. He hets the fire down to burning coals and sprinkles pesh onto the coals ad breathes in deeply the fumes. Dullen's mind drifts during his chanting and meditation.
Suddenly he isn't in the monestary but next to the hill that has a rock formation that looks like a bent knee, a symbol of Irori is carved on it. The hill's nickname is "Tatoo-knee". His mentor, Obeegon dressed in a brown hooded robes walks down the hill. A blue shimmer surrounds him as he is semi-transparent.

As he sees his mentor, Dullen remembers the time when he wasn't sure what path lay in store for him, that Haleen took him to see Obeegon. Haleen saw the rage that lay underneath the surface. The eternal struggle of being the oldest sibling and beoming a man earlier than he would have liked because of his father, thought dead. Dullen was always thankful to her for that.
"Dullen, Irori has sent me to help you make sense of things." Obeegon's calm voice floated to him.

Dullen looks at his mentor with wonderment, for he hasn't seen the old priest since he left the order when he was a young priest to wander the desert to spread the word of Irori. At times he felt his presence, and always had a feeling he was watching out for him.

Dullen stammers at first, but gets his composure, "Master Obeegon, It's been too long. I have followed your teachings and have learned the ways of Irori. We have gotten back from Kelmarane. My father still lives! I don't know how, but he does, he is turned away from Irori and embraced the dark side teachings of Ravogug. He somehow retained his youth as he looks younger than I do. How can this be, you told me that an evil cleric slayed him?!"

Obeegon floats there with a passive look upon his face, one free of emotion that comes with embracing the force of Irori. "Dullen, I know this is confusing. You know your father was my student as well. Headstrong, always looking for proof of Irori's grace. Once the plague hit Kelmarane, he lost his faith. He went to the quick and easy path that comes with surrender to emotion. When your father turned away from Irori and followed the Destroyer, Ravogug, the good man he has been, was destroyed. So when he became and evil cleric, he was slain, from a certain point of view."

Dullen exclaims, "A certain point of view?? I should have known this, all this time searching for answers and you could have let me know. My family should have known..." Dullen's voice trails off.

Obeegon states, "By not knowing, you have searched for yourself, and found the teachings of Irori. This has made you stronger for I foreseen this day to come where you were to meet your father. Now we must train. Train for the final conflict against your father."

"Train? We already prepare to leave to face him. I have friends and my half-brother Tahir to help in the struggle. I saw him speaking and once he was speaking of his past. Once he spoke of me he paused. I sense the struggle within him. I believe Irori is trying to guide him back to his enlightenment. I think I can save him." Dullen answers.

"Without proper training, you can face him, but you may not live to tell the tale. If you must go, make sure to take your father's sword. Your brother has it. If you should have to face Halruun, the light of Irori may purify him. Use Irori's gift to surround the blade with light. Striking him with it will either free him, or cause him to reach the afterlife much faster. That is a limited resource for you so you must do this as a last resort. If I think you need further assistance, I will find you. May Irori's force and guidance always be with you."

Dullen awakens from the meditation.

Trevvis. Yes, he stayed behind when the others left. When we decided that he would lead the family, he obtained one of the only family relics. Their father's sword. Dullen gets dressed and moves to the mercenarie's quarters.
Trevvis hugs Dullen. After the embrace, Trevvis says, "Brother, you made it back alive. I am relieved. Let us smoke some pesh to celebrate."

Dullen looks at his brother with a sullen look, "I don't quite know how to tell you this Trevvis. On the mission for Lady Almah, we went into Kelmarane. It is overrun with gnolls under the command of an insane genie. The most troubling revelation was that the evil priest of Ravogug is our father. I know, I know. I was told he was dead. Killed even. I go to meet him and either guide him back to the light or send him to his final rest to the darkness. In my meditation, I was told to bring father's sword. We will need your swordarm as well. We are outnumbered, but we have a plan. We are to sneak into Kelmarane and kill the genie and our father, this will break their spirit and without proper leadership. Also, brother, the man known as Tahir is our half-brother. "

Trevvis has a blank stare on his face as this is a lot of information to take in all at once. He sits there smoking pesh and processes this. He stands and clasps Dullen's right shoulder with his right palm. "Not to worry, brother. I trust you for your wisdom. Take father's sword until we return, I will use yours. Let me know when we leave for Kelmarane."
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Old Apr 4th, 2015, 03:57 AM
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Whims of the GodsIt was late that night, at a time many of those not standing watch had already succumbed to slumber or other restful activities, when Tahir found himself within the Dawnflower's temple. He was not here to pray, nor did he intend to grovel for some stupid blessing, and certainly by the hells was not here to give thanks. No, he was here to speak his mind, and by the coldhearted bitch of a goddess herself she was damn well going to listen. Assuming of course, that the gods at the very least payed passive attention to their various temples and shrines, and he was by no means an expert. Tahir shut the doors behind him, so as to avoid awakening or disturbing the others.

Privacy factored in as well, but was not at the forefront of his mind. The thoughts that were, focused on the events of the battle arena earlier that very day. Or perhaps the day prior, given that the young man had nothing to measure how far into the night it really was. The moment when Sarenrae had chosen to strike him blind when he called upon her supposed blessing. A petty act born of a cold heart and hypocrisy, one that could have very nearly cost either his or his brother's life, and maybe even both. And as such it was unforgivable. While he had not the ability to place himself at the goddess' side, and much less to actually strike her down, he could speak his mind and thus so was he here to do so. With the doors shut, but not barred, Tahir moved his way slowly forward to the altar at the front.

Grimacing, he slammed his hands down on the blasted thing and looked scornfully to the ceiling. "There was a time, not long ago, that I thought the gods cruel. Now I not only know so, but that it goes oh so far beyond such a simple and ineffective label as merely cruel. Cruel would be to do the things you and your lot commit if you actually though us of anything remotely living. But we aren't. We're not people, not humans, elves, gnolls, or anything of the like, nor are we beasts of land, sea, sky. Hells, we're not even the grass beneath one's foot, nor the sands of the desert and shores of the sea. We are but pieces in a game, cards to be played with and discarded depending on the whims of the ones playing. Or, that is how and what we are in the eyes of you and your gods damned fellow gods."

Tahir paused for a moment, thinking over that last sentence, before eventually deciding to ignore it lest he break composure and seriousness by laughing at absurdity of the ending phrase. "You do not even care when one of your toys or pieces is harmed or ruined, merely grab the next one from the box with no regard for the effects on the actual lives your would be playthings possess. Uncaring at all are you Dawnflower, as are all your kind. I find it odd that the demons of the abyss are more honest than you and your lot, at least in this. At least they do no try to hide true guise and views. Not like you."

A dismissive sniff escapes Tahir at the thought. "What are each and every one of you if not but liars and hypocrites. You would take issue with my treatment and torture of the damned gnoll, the blood I have spilled, ever deigning to think yourself as having the right and reason to judge me for my life. Well let me say, that you do not. For everything that I have done which you would view as a crime, you are but accomplice to it all, and thus stand as equally guilty. Where the hell were you when you could have helped me?! At any point in my life you had the option to but whisper a few words, given but a nudge or two, and I would have emerged an entirely different person. If I am the murderer, the criminal, then you are the bystander who stood right next to me and cheered as blood was spilled."

Taking a moment to breathe, Tahir slowly twisted in a circle and began to chuckle quietly in an almost unhinged fashion. "And you know what? Had it just been myself at risk because of it, I would have cursed your name, been angry about it, and moved on. But your petty little hypocritical vendetta against me, of which you have no right, none at all, to even possess in the first place, also endangered my brother. My inability to act during that moment could have very well cost Dullen his life, in fact, it very nearly did. But, as I have said before, it is not like you care. Nothing but a pompous self-centered bitch, like the spoiled daughter of some wealthy noble. Before I thought you cruel, now I think you are scum, unfit to stain the bottom of even the filthiest dredges of society's shoes."

Tahir waved his arms about mockingly. "Go ahead, strike me down, but you will only prove me right in the undertaking." Tahir but shrugged then. "Do not think I expect reply, your and your kind have never deigned to whisper to me before, and I'd be a fool if I expected you to start now. I am admittedly many things, but a fool is not often one of them. Though perhaps it is this night, at least in another's eyes if they but saw and heard me now. No matter, I stopped caring about such opinions for the most part long ago."

Pausing, Tahir cocked his head to the side before looking back to the altar. "You know, it's funny isn't it? That they call you the goddess of redemption, and yet you still have the snobbish hypocrisy to go around cursing my existence for my perceived 'slights'. How the hell do they even concern you anyway? Not at all apparently. Which of course, in your blasted eyes, is no reason to deprive yourself the sport of 'punishing' me. Burning bitch." Finally, Tahir runs out of breath and steam of his long tirade. He makes to leave, giving but five more words as he walks away. "I am done with you."
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Old Oct 18th, 2015, 03:52 AM
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Respite

Pain
That was the first nagging feeling that probed Omacui back, out of the fever dreams. No matter how bad the pain, they could not be as bad as the dreams. But he wasn’t yet ready to open his eyes. It was like the dull ache of a tooth gone bad – or so he had heard. Omacui took some pride in his teeth and didn’t want to lose them. But the pain wasn’t in his mouth. He thought for a moment, and then concluded that is wasn’t only in his mouth.

He was lying down, and some heavy weight lay upon him. Beneath him it was solid, and where his back touched the ground there was pain. So he was lying on his back, but how did he get here? And where was here? For a moment the apprentice warrior considered opening his eyes, but only for a moment. They didn’t want to seem to move anyway, so rather he lay and listened but could hear nothing.

Tongue like dried leather- Omacui tried to open his lips, but that just brought forth new pain. New pain and a salty, damp taste. Blood. So that probably wasn’t a good move either. Next the young warrior tried moving his fingers. Bliss – they at least worked. For a moment of panic he was worried that they wouldn’t work – some bad memory, but the details eluded him, and his exertions sent him back to the dreams he wanted to avoid.

Time passes and once again Omacui struggled back to consciousness. Still there was pain, but his lips at least seemed to open more easily. A low moan of agony slipped from them, and Omacui was startled at the sound of his own voice – if voice it could still be called. Cracking open an eye he realised he was lying in a tent. A light sheet lay atop his body, and a cooling breeze sang through the opened doors.

Perhaps summoned by the sound, a figure – surely one he recognised – heaved into view, but trying to raise his head to see better was more than the battered young man could manage. Eyes shut, but he felt the delicious soothing feeling of a damp cloth upon his lips and also his face. Dreams of shady palm trees and soaking in an oasis called him as he felt once again the pull of sleep.

His third wakening was less gentle. A rough hand on his arm. Omacui tried to pull away, but weak as a kitten could do little but flinch as his burned skin cried out in protest at the rough treatment. Eyes opened and before him he saw Areef Abdul-Azim.
You’ll not die, boy. Though others have before. Time to start recovering though or the captain will be having words about it. Your squad will visit tomorrow. Try to greet them like a warrior.
And with that the Areef left. Another slave came in and gave Omacui something to drink. The water was the best he had ever tasted – or so it seemed at the time. But he too quickly departed after checking his patients bandages.

Omacui’s last visitor for the day was quite unexpected. Sakhr. The squad-mate slipped into the tent, his own face a mass of bruises. It would appear that someone, or someones had done a serious number on him. His sudden eyes looked at Omacui. “You probably feel worse than I do. But I know someone...

Sakhr looked quickly over his shoulder and then pried open Omacui’s mouth and prodded in a light wad of ...something. “Chew it, it helps with the pain.
Indeed the substance was as close to magic as Omacui had ever experienced. While his mouth was dry, a mere tingle of juice trickled down his throat and seemed to chase away all the pain of his burns.

With a sigh, Omaci collapsed back, eyes closing as his ears told him the tales of the winds and genie warred in the sightless sky above him.
Maybe Sakhr isn’t so bad after all.


Last edited by aerondor; Oct 18th, 2015 at 04:05 AM.
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Old Oct 24th, 2015, 08:54 AM
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The Creation of the Gnolls

The Creation of the Gnolls"Tell us the story of how Lamashtu created the gnolls, Old MotherOba Tata " a young gnoll yipped excitedly as he gnawed on the hip bone of a long dead rothe. That yip was echoed by several of the other pups who gathered around the grey-muzzled female.

The caretaker of the young ones nodded once in agreement then moved her finger in a circular motion, instructing the young gnolls to gather themselves into a circle around her. The pups quickly complied, the largest of the youth pushing the smaller out of the way to gain the best seat. After a few moments of jockeying for position and snapping at each other, the youngest of the pack quieted down and waiting for the story to begin.

"A long time ago, generations beyond reckoning, the Mother of Monsters began creating. She did not start her creations from scratch like the other, weaker gods did, she had no need to. She was stronger than the others, she took what she wanted and made them her own. She took her time in deciding where to start, passing up on the soft-skinned races created by Torag and Desna, instead focusing on those of Gozreh. She stole from him the best of his creations and improved upon them." the wizened bitch began.

"Did she create us first?!" a young pup who had not heard the story before yipped.

Oba Tata ignored the snickers of derision that came from the older gnolls as she continued with a reply. "No pup, she did not. She started first by twisting Gozreh's bear. She improved upon the bear's form by placing it on two feet rather than four, creating the bugbear. She gave it intelligence and cunning to go with the strength it already possessed."

"And then the gnolls?" the persistent pup barked, causing another echo of snickers to come forth from the older gnolls.

Oba Tata shook her head from left to right before she continued."Next she took one of Gozreh's oxen and improved upon that as well, giving it thumbs so that it could better grasp a weapon, but leaving it's strength and horns, creating the minotaurs. She continued to experiment with other creatures, filling Golarion with harpies, goblins, derro, lamias and ogres.

When she was through, she looked down at that the violence and mayhem that her creations had caused. She nodded her approval then, delighting in the wails of agony that came from the prey of her children"


"What about us? When did she take the hyena and improve upon them to create the gnolls?"the impatient youth interjected.

"Hush now and listen..." Oba Tata scolded him, as she continued.

"She made us last, but she did not make us only from the hyenas. You see, she had learned much during her experiments with the lesser monsters and knew she could do even better by combining the best elements from several different creatures, rather than simply one.

Yes, she did start with the hyena, taking it's thick fur, powerful jaws and sharp teeth. But she pulled some parts of other creatures as well. She took the strength of the oxen, the thumbs of the ape, the viciousness of the wolverine and the cunning of the jackal, combining all of them to create the gnoll."
she said, her words bringing forth yips of excitement.

"Unlike her earlier creations, she created the gnolls in a litter rather than as an individual, because she knew that there is power in numbers. She placed the importance of pack deep into the hearts of her creations, showing us how to work together, both in small small groups of gnolls within a tribefataras as well as a pack.

She gave us the entire world as our prey, imbuing us with the ability to digest any type of meat, bone, skin and fur that most of her other creations could not. She taught us to gather the lesser races as slaves, servants to do the menial tasks that are below us and serve as food in times of famine.

She basked in the blood shed by her gnolls, reveled in the cries of our enemies delighted in the swelling ranks of our slaves and smiled at the power of our growing numbers.

Lamashtu looked down upon the greatest of her creations and smiled, setting down the tools of creation. We were the last and greatest of her creations, the culmination of her millennia of work in improving the creatures of the world.

And that, my pups, is the story of how the gnolls came to be.

Now then, the sun will soon be up, so it is time to all of you to get some sleep. May Lamashtu bless all of you with nightmares, filled with the wails of our enemies"
Oba Tata said as she pushed the young gnolls towards the back of the cave,

Last edited by Squeak; Oct 28th, 2015 at 08:01 PM.
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Old Oct 28th, 2015, 09:06 AM
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Order within Chaos

A study of the social structure of a typical gnoll pack*
* Note that when referring to 'gnolls', this also include flinds

While many outsiders consider gnoll society to be completely chaotic, there is actually a very systemic social hierarchy within a pack that dominates their day to day life. Familial loyalties is something hard coded into each gnoll's DNA and plays a key part of gnoll society. This loyalty typically is strongest with the lowest level of their social structure to the highest, which is why kabila farko, or “pack first" is a common gnoll greeting. Kabila farko sai Lamashtu, or "Pack first, then Lamashtu” is considered a more formal greeting and is typically used only when an entire pack is gathered.

The greatest punishment that can be given to a gnoll is known as hygera, where a gnoll is banished from the clan. It is very rare for an member of the pack to be punished in such a way and is normally done when a gnoll is Interestingly enough, gnolls who are believed to have killed a rival in such a way without being caught are often silently lauded by other gnolls who are impressed by their cunning in eliminating a rival without being caught caught killing a fellow packmate through the use of clandestine means such as poison or when they are sleeping. The few gnolls who are able to survive for any period of time after being named hygera find surrogate packs among non-gnolls. There are very few cases of individuals leaving a clan voluntarily and always as a result of extreme circumstances. While these gnolls are considered exceptionally unusual among the pack, they are still considered members of the tribe unless the Kai names them hygera after their departure.

Gnoll society does not place any importance on genetic relationships, as gnolls are raised by a group appointed by the pack rather than immediate family members. Many gnolls do not even know who their birth parents are, considering such details irrelevant to their daily life. As a result, mating between siblings is quite common, although gnoll infants are particularly resistant to the adverse affects of such incestuous interbreeding.

Gnoll children live from birth until the age of 8 years as part of a communal group of children known as a wuta horrro, with an elder gnoll (or group of elder gnolls in large packs) dedicated towards their rearing. This is a very dangerous time for young gnolls, as there is a constant struggle for social dominance among these young gnolls. While these struggles for dominance are not intended to be lethal, in many cases they are. As a result of this constant strife among the young, typically less than 25% of newborns survive until their 8th birthday.

At eight years old, gnolls are appointed to a fatara, who live and work together in a group. Individuals are named to their fatara by the Rada, with new members replacing those who are lost by attrition. The size of a fatara always ranges between 5 and 10 gnolls, whom are led by a hadis. By constantly being in such close proximity to each other, these gnolls have a unique understanding to each other, which makes them particularly effective in group combat. Gnoll loyalty to a fatara is often stronger than the loyalty to the pack.

Each member of a fatara understands their relative social ranking within their group. The lowest ranking members of a fatara are given the most undesirable tasks, although the hadis will often assign these tasks to higher ranking members as a form of punishment. Social position within a fatara is determined by combat ability. The use of kshat'ara to determine one’s place is quite common, although the more lethal form of ritual combat is seldom allowed at this level.

The pack is led by a Kai, who shares a fatara with a group that he appoints. Each hand-picked member of this group is assigned responsibilities within the clan and is considered to speak with the voice of the Kai in these responsibilities. These responsibilities include child rearing, combat training, woodmanship (including the organizing of hunting and scavenging parties) and clergy, although individual Kai’s often create other positions for individuals within a tribe. If the Kai should fall during a combat, the highest ranking member of the Rada immediately replaces him until a permanent successor is named.


LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES

Gnolls understand the fleeting duration of strength and have established a system of checks and balances to ensure that the strongest lead their pack. Any who wish to challenge a Kai for supremacy can make a challenge of Kshatriya. A leader must accept the Kshatriya if healthy, with the Rada having the ability to make such a determination (NOTE: there have been times when an unhappy Rada has determined a seriously injured Kai to be healthy in an attempt to unseat him). The lesser form of challenge known as the kshat'ara may only be used at the fatara level and not for leadership of the pack. Note that in many cases after a Kai is killed, the understanding of the relative strength among packmates is so well understood that only one gnoll seeks the title of Kai. This new Kai is able to take control of the tribe and appoint his own Rada without having to go through Kshatriya.


CREATIONSHIP OF NEW PACKS
On rare occasions either when resources become scarce or when a Kshatriya has this occurs when both participants are alive but temporarily incapacitated from the combatno clear winner, a pack will split into two. Members of the pack are allowed to chose which of the two newly formed packs they will join, although typically members of a fatara will be united in their choice of clans. Such schisms always result in animosity between members of the former pack, who consider the opposing pack as traitors. This antagonistic attitude typically becomes even worse over time as rival packs compete for the same resources.


VOCABULARY WORDS

hygera A gnoll that is outcast from the pack. This is the strongest penalty that a Kai can give to a member of the pack.
wuta horrro Translated literally as 'training fire', this is the name of the communal group of young are raised.
fatara Translated literally as 'claws', this is a group of 5 - 10 gnolls who make up the lowest level of a family grouping. These individuals sleep, train, fight and eat together and are typically fiercely loyal to each other.
Hadis Translated literally as 'thumb', this is the leader of a fatara (this is an update to the current definition)
Kai Translated literally as 'head', the Kai is the leader of the pack, who with his Rada controls the actions of the pack.
Rada Translated literally as 'council', this is the leadership fatara of the pack. Hand picked by th eKai, these individuals have a social standing above other members of the pack.
kabila farko A common gnoll greeting among packmates, meaning "Pack first"
kabila farko sai Lamashtu A more formal greeting among packmates, meaning "Pack first, then Lamashtu"


 

Last edited by Squeak; Oct 28th, 2015 at 05:02 PM.
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  #29  
Old Nov 3rd, 2015, 03:29 AM
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His mouth dry, Omacui trudged forward, step after step. The sun beat down, and his armour seemed to suck it all in towards him. Ahead walked Hanif. Garbed in the same armour, he walked with a spring in his step, rather than the faltering steps that Omacui himself was taking. He risked a glance behind him. Sakhr followed him, his own feet not looking any surer that those of Omacui. A second glance and Omacui was sure he saw the mans jaw move. He was slowly chewing.

So, you do have more. I was a fool to trust you Sakhr, but I know now. I’ll find your stash yet.

Stumbling forward, the fatigue of the mornings training march already on him, Omacui almost didn’t notice Hanif raise his hand in warning. Just in time he pulled up – but behind him Sakhr was even less alert and banged into Omacui from behind. Both men went down in a clatter, and in a moment Abdul-Azim caught them up and delivered a stinging whack to both their ears. His face scowled at them, promising a further reckoning once everyone was safe back in camp.

Hanif eased the grip he kept on his spear, crouching low. Within seconds the Areef was squirming up to him on his belly to look over the rise ahead. Omacui, recovered squirmed up as well peering over the lip to see the hive of activity happening below. There were gnolls, a camp full of them. And the camp looked like a beehive that someone had just kicked.

Crawling back down from the lip the Areef whispered. “We’ll never catch them by surprise now. ” he gave Omacui a hard look “That means no ears for you, a light enough punishment for standing in front of this...” his glare turned to Sakhr who seemed less aware of his predicament than was perhaps wise. “We’ll have to head back to camp. We have not the numbers to take them without the element of surprise. Fool.

So began the long trip back. Abdul-Azim was irate, Sakhr oblivious, Omacui upset. The rest of the men just scowled. Some were relieved to not have a battle, others had been looking forward to it. Many were annoyed with having had a long march out for no reason. Omacui thought it was going to be a very uncomfortable evening.

Back at camp neither he nor Sakhr was given a moments break. The Areef reported on events and the Captain came to see the squad.

Open their packs, search them.

Both Omacui and Sakhr had their gear thrown out on the parade ground. A crowd gathered around to watch, aware that something was happening but unsure about exactly what.

Item by item they were gone through, but nothing found. Then the packs themselves were turned out, and against nothing found..although the perceptive Areef noted that Sakhr’s emty pack was heavier than that of Omacui.

Searching the lining, Abdul-Azim found a secret compartment that the wily Sakhr had sown into it. And within that was a wrapped brick of a sticky black substance. Just looking at it made Omacui’s mouth water. It look all his self control to avoid taking a half step forward toward it. Sakhr, suddenly realising what was going on, tried stepping forward and reaching out for the precious brick.

And how does a Slave come to own refined Pesh?” asked the Captain in a voice both quiet and full of menace. Four other soliders stepped forward, grasping the unfortunate Sakhr firmly between them as he was ushered to the Captain’s personal interrogation tent.

In the confusion Omacui lost track of the brick of pesh. His mind full of only one thought “Where am I going to get it from now?


Last edited by aerondor; Nov 3rd, 2015 at 03:30 AM.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2015, 04:48 AM
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His mouth dry, Omacui trudged forward, step after step. The sun beat down, and his armour seemed to suck it all in towards him. Ahead walked Hanif. Garbed in the same armour, he walked with a spring in his step, rather than the faltering steps that Omacui himself was taking. He risked a glance behind him. Sakhr followed him, his own feet not looking any surer that those of Omacui. A second glance and Omacui was sure he saw the mans jaw move. He was slowly chewing.

So, you do have more. I was a fool to trust you Sakhr, but I know now. I’ll find your stash yet.

Stumbling forward, the fatigue of the mornings training march already on him, Omacui almost didn’t notice Hanif raise his hand in warning. Just in time he pulled up – but behind him Sakhr was even less alert and banged into Omacui from behind. Both men went down in a clatter, and in a moment Abdul-Azim caught them up and delivered a stinging whack to both their ears. His face scowled at them, promising a further reckoning once everyone was safe back in camp.

Hanif eased the grip he kept on his spear, crouching low. Within seconds the Areef was squirming up to him on his belly to look over the rise ahead. Omacui, recovered squirmed up as well peering over the lip to see the hive of activity happening below. There were gnolls, a camp full of them. And the camp looked like a beehive that someone had just kicked.

Crawling back down from the lip the Areef whispered. “We’ll never catch them by surprise now. ” he gave Omacui a hard look “That means no ears for you, a light enough punishment for standing in front of this...” his glare turned to Sakhr who seemed less aware of his predicament than was perhaps wise. “We’ll have to head back to camp. We have not the numbers to take them without the element of surprise. Fool.

So began the long trip back. Abdul-Azim was irate, Sakhr oblivious, Omacui upset. The rest of the men just scowled. Some were relieved to not have a battle, others had been looking forward to it. Many were annoyed with having had a long march out for no reason. Omacui thought it was going to be a very uncomfortable evening.

Back at camp neither he nor Sakhr was given a moments break. The Areef reported on events and the Captain came to see the squad.

Open their packs, search them.

Both Omacui and Sakhr had their gear thrown out on the parade ground. A crowd gathered around to watch, aware that something was happening but unsure about exactly what.

Item by item they were gone through, but nothing found. Then the packs themselves were turned out, and against nothing found..although the perceptive Areef noted that Sakhr’s emty pack was heavier than that of Omacui.

Searching the lining, Abdul-Azim found a secret compartment that the wily Sakhr had sown into it. And within that was a wrapped brick of a sticky black substance. Just looking at it made Omacui’s mouth water. It look all his self control to avoid taking a half step forward toward it. Sakhr, suddenly realising what was going on, tried stepping forward and reaching out for the precious brick.

And how does a Slave come to own refined Pesh?” asked the Captain in a voice both quiet and full of menace. Four other soliders stepped forward, grasping the unfortunate Sakhr firmly between them as he was ushered to the Captain’s personal interrogation tent.

In the confusion Omacui lost track of the brick of pesh. His mind full of only one thought “Where am I going to get it from now?


Last edited by aerondor; Nov 3rd, 2015 at 04:50 AM.
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