Quest for the Vault of Daoud

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Mother of Witches: Part Five

Thomas Kelly

“At first glance, it seemed a featureless, endless plain, not that anyone would wish to even glance at it in the first place.” The meaningless color of the sky over the unending and undulating landscape looked like the delusions of a fever-induced dream. The wind gibbered, chittered, screeched, screamed, and wailed. The putrescence of the ever-rotting world of puss and popping tumors assaulted the senses in waves. Her eyes watered; her senses reeled, and she asked herself, “Have I this time gone too far?” How far has she gone? Into the lower realms of the Abyss seeking a merciless fiend, a warrior of the Blood War, a restless unforgiven spirit of Oerth.

Interview with a Hezrou

“Six centuries since I have been named by the likes of flesh and blood,” the belching hezrou reflected as it tore the twitching limbs from the torso of a lesser tanar’ri. It carried out its grizzly task like one accustomed to his handiwork, like the skilled hands of a fisherman cleaning a fish. His victim, an enormous scorpion with the screeching head of a hag, spit and squealed with pain. The hezrou warrior tossed the legless wriggling body aside and turned his full attention to the woman that stood before him. “By which deviltry didst thou findeth me, and what wouldst thou have of me?” the beast spoke an ancient dialect of Old Oeridian. A heavy perspiration of stinking liquid moistened the abomination’s naked skin as if the effort of dismembering his foe had induced a heavy sweat. Nearly a half-ton of leering toad towered over the slight frame of the dark-haired girl. The nightmare beast peeled back its hideous lips to reveal rows of spiked teeth. It might have easily snatched the girl up and swallowed her whole. Or so it seemed.

“Not easily!” Tasha answered the question. She recoiled at the maleficent odor of the sticky goo slicking the creature’s unholy flesh. She forced herself to swallow lest she wretch and lose her bearing in the presence of the fiend. “My quest for Your Ruthlessness began in my own personal tower on the outskirts of Lopolla where I applied myself to learn the lore of that land.”

“Twas named Hlupallu in my day,” the hezrou swatted a vrock from the air, crumpling it against the stones. He crushed the writhing bird beneath his massive toady foot. Giant baby-faced maggots wriggled up from the ground to feast on the ichory flesh.

“Indeed. The same,” Tasha continued undistracted by the gooey carnage at her feet. “In the course of my studies, I came upon mention of a magnificent treasure vault, not-long concealed, containing wondrous magics once collected by the wandering mendicant, Daoud of Tusmit.”

“Never heard of him,” the hezrou feigned disinterest.

“But I have heard much, for much there is to hear! I would, if I may contrive it, pilfer all the baubles that one-time pasha possessed.”

“What’s that to me?” the toad-fiend croaked, but she had now piqued his interest.

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