The Pavilion of Hasnat
A dwarf and a man held tightly to the edges of the tattered and threadbare magical carpet on which they sat. The embroidered fringes of the once-colorful rug had been burned away, and the whole of the weave looked to have passed through fire and water. Yet it showed itself still skyworthy, bearing them on a straight and true path through the air faster than any bird might fly. Strapped tightly to their conveyance were several small bags, bundles, and one large purse. The dwarf and the man looked no better kept than the carpet on which they flew. Earth and grime soiled their garments and smeared their faces. Long tangles of hair and untrimmed beards waved and flapped about in the wind like pendants. Despite weariness and all the travails and deprivations they had already passed through, both the man and dwarf radiated expressions of amazement and exhilaration as they peered about at the world below them and the world above them.
Daoud and Grimmly sailed above, or perhaps below, a world delicious and delightful and also doubled; one facing down upon them from above and one looking up toward them from below. It seemed to them as if they somehow flew between the mountains and the reflection of the mountains as it appears on the surface of a calm mountain lake at the height of summer if it were that the sky itself was the surface that created the mirror. Spread out below them lay a thicketed wilderness of trees overgrown and wild, while far above in the remote heights of the sky they could see, as if mirroring the world beneath them, another world in parallel, but of orchards, fields, and gardens, cultivated and tended. Below them grew cedar and pine and fir and branching palm, shade below shade, while above them (growing upside-down it appeared), they saw tended groves and orchards of the goodliest trees heavy-laden with fairest fruits, adorned with fragrant golden-hued blossoms and rainbows of color. Below them the wild untamed mountains and forests spread out for as far as they eye could see, from horizon to horizon, at points giving way to hills and lakes in the far distance or falling into green plains crossed by mountain-fed rivers in another. Above them, in perfect reflection, spread out the same lay of the land, hill for hill and peak for peak, except a world cultivated and tended, a garden of delight.
“Although it be two worlds that we see, they can be but one world and one place,” Daoud informed his dwarven passenger. “Istus has smiled upon us, and we have passed now into the Twin Paradises.”
“By Moradin’s beard!” Grimmly exclaimed. “Are all the old tales of gods and goddesses true then as well?” Continue reading “Daoud’s Wondrous Lanthorn”
Mother of Witches Part Three
The Sultan’s Son and the Witch’s Sister
There was a sultan who ruled the lands of Zeif in peace and fairness under the bright light of Al’Hatha’s truth. He stood firmly upon the Four Feet of the Dragon, and he had the satisfaction in his later years to see the son of his favored wife prove himself a worthy imitator of those virtues and a worthy heir of his sultanate. Only one matter troubled the old sultan, namely that his son had taken no wife. True enough, generosity, honor, and piety handsomely adorned the young prince, but without family, what does one truly possess? This lamentable deficiency gave the sultan much concern, for his other sons all married powerful houses, daughters of chieftans, pashas, and beygrafs from foreign lands who brought with them rich dowries, exalted titles, and strong alliances.
On an auspicious day, the Sultan said to his son Hussin, for that was his name, “I have consulted the rashaw and learned that you must seek a bride beautiful and powerful beyond all the daughters of Zeif. Do not marry a daughter of Zeif; do not seek a maid of Ekbir, be not seduced by the wiles of a Tusmit woman, and do not look on the dancing girls of Ull. Saddle up your steed, take your men at arms, and go questing into the far-off rebellious land of Ket. Beyond Lopolla, beneath the boughs of that dark forest, take a Ketite maid for wife. Her power and fame will eclipse all the daughters of the Bakluni. Istus has decreed it, and the rashaw has foreseen it.”
Since the young prince was always submissive and obedient to the sultan’s will and since he was much flattered that fate had so favored him with such a magnificent bride surpassing all other women, he consented to undertake the quest. Before departing, he asked, “And how shall I know which girl Istus has decreed for my destiny?”
The sultan said, “Ask the goddess for a specific sign. Let it be the maid that sets before you a princely gift of unmatched beauty. She should be the one Istus has chosen.”
This seemed reasonable to Hussin. He saddled up his steed and took six of his men at Continue reading “The Sultan’s Son and the Witch’s Sister”
Mother of Witches Part Two
Elena the Fair and Natasha the Dark
There was once a gentle woman of Bissel with a few drops of Suel blood in her veins, enough to give her a fair head of hair. Despite that, she had a good heart in her chest and a good head on her shoulders. She married a decent Bisselite man, and she bore him a daughter. They called the girl Elena which in the old tongue means “light” or “beautiful.” The girl was both light and beautiful. Those who saw the child remarked, “Isn’t she a fairhead?” But before the child had reached her fifth year, her mother caught a mysterious fever. (Some said a hex had been set upon her.) As she lay dying, she said to her daughter, “Do not be afraid. Keep a pure heart, and no harm will come to you.” She gave her daughter a small wooden doll and said, “This was mine when I was a girl. Take good care of her as I have tried to care for you.”
Elena’s father mourned his wife for a year and a month. After that, he said to his young daughter, “It’s not right that you should be without a mother and I should be without a wife.” He married a Kettite widow who already had two older daughters. He said, “We will combine our families, and all will be well.”
Not all was well for poor Elena. The Kettite woman resented her step-daughter and Continue reading “Elena the Fair and Natasha the Dark”
Mother of Witches, Part One
In the Hut of Baba Yaga
In the lands of Ket, they say that Duhl Parath had three daughters. Kadar, the daughter of Hasnat, Ya’huth, the daughter of Nasri, and Hura, the daughter of the Houri Princess Jedta. When this last one was born, Duhl Parath said, “Have I need of another daughter? The ones I already have trouble me enough.” He tore her away from her mother, rolled her up in a ball, and threw her down to Oerth. Deep in the Bramblewood Forest a Kettite wife gave birth to a squalling girl. The midwife exclaimed, “Oh unhappy woman! This Needfest Godsnight you have borne for your husband a daughter! Would that Istus had smiled on you with a son! He might have made a great name.”
The father of the girl snatched up his newborn daughter and, without a word, took her out to drown her in the river. Continue reading “Iggwilv in the Hut of Baba Yaga”
His Most Ferocious Majesty, the Despot Turrosh Mak, Lord over the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj took control of the scattered humanoid tribes of the Pomarj Peninsula and, during the Greyhawk Wars, forged “an empire where none had stood.” But did you know that he is also an alumni of the Grey College in Greyhawk City and a hero of the Shield Lands?
Turrosh Mak is a complex villain with lofty aspirations for the advancement of humanoids in the Flanaess, and he has a vision that is changing the world. Get to know the man behind the Mak. This is the story of the making of Oerth’s most powerful half-orc. A great piece of Greyhawk fiction by Jeff Mckillop preserved in the greytalkarchives (used with permission). Click here to download the pdf the rise of turrosh mak