End to the Hateful Wars
“You failed us. All this for nothing!” Hroth’s lieutenant moaned as he licked at his open wounds.
“Not for nothing, skitterfoot,” Hroth snarled. The grizzled warlord scratched at the hole in his head where his left ear had once been. Those half dozen that remained of his hobgoblins sat with him upon a mountain perch above the forlorn ruins of Grot Ugrat. As much as they desired to look again upon the altar of Maglubiyet, they dared not descend into the sacred valley.
“We just got our asses kicked. Again,” the lieutenant reminded the warlord.
“Shut your fanghole!” Hroth growled. “What do you know about survival, pissy pants? Strategy? Ever heard that word? We fought in the west so ten tribes could go east; slip into the lowlands; feed and breed. The day of vengeance will roll around.”
Flight to the Suss
On the other side of the mountains, the dragon’s share of the Lortmil tribes cascaded downsteepy like snowmelt flooding the gullies in the open-tide of spring. Elves of Celene and woodsman of Ulek fell back and fled before them all the way to the Mill of Altimira where they joined the advance posts of the Royal Army of Ulek and prepared to make a desperate stand. Fastaal Dothmar called up the reserves of Celene, for he supposed that goblins would next sack Courwood, cross the Jewel, and enter the Fey Kingdom. But Hroth deceived them all. Only a small feint of goblins and gnolls came to Courwood, and these fled before the elves and did not stand to fight. Rather they shrank away. So it was named “The Battle of Empty Blows.” Meantime, the rest of the great host turned south and crossed the Jewel near Treehome. The old Suss Forest seemed to swallow them whole, and they were seen no more.
Continue reading “End of War”
Fair Elena’s Betrothal
“The Flanaess is not wide enough to hide her from me!” Zagig Yragerne declared. He was wrong. He employed all means at his disposal—magical, abyssal, and otherwise—to locate his prodigal apprentice and avenge his wounded heart, but Natasha knew his methods and his means. She disguised herself cleverly, wrapped herself in scrying wards, and made her way through the wild ways until she came upon the dancing hut where she found Fair Elena feeding the scraps to the cackling geese.
“How is it that you have dared to come to this place again?” Elena demanded sharply. “Should our mother find you out, she will not deal gently with you this time.”
“I have come for your sake, my sister,” Natasha protested innocently. “My conscience pricks me, and shame goads at me. Was it not cruel and unkind of me to steal away Zagig’s heart as I did? Surely I was a jealous fool. But if you still want to be the old man’s wife, you only need to play it in the manner of the game we played with the Sultan’s son. You take my name and my face, and he will come to find you at once, I am sure. I promise you, after he has claimed you for his own, he will never let you go.”
Elena’s countenance darkened. “Oh cruel, cruel fate of Istus!” she sighed. “Too late you have come! Mother has pledged my hand to another of her disciples: a dweomer-master nobleman who dwells far off in the Northern Reaches. I am soon to go to him and to be wed to him.”
“Console your sorrowful heart sister,” Natasha said gently. “I shall go for you to the Northern Reaches and wed this dweomer-master of yours. He shall take me for you, just as Zagig will take you for me.”
Elena danced with delight among the cackling geese and laughed, “I know the reak well!” She threw arms around her sister and pulled her close in tight embrace. “Sweet sister. This kindness surpasses all others you have shown me. Please let’s not quarrel again over poopnoddies!” Continue reading “The Bride of Count Dahlvier”
Hidden Temple of Pharol Al-Sammal
Daoud related the story of Sulymon and the Seven Giants beneath the pavilions of Hasnat for several nights, but the tale need not be retold here, for it is told in the poems of Obed of Tusmit and also recounted in the Fiftyscore Tales of Al’Shari. After completing his adventures, having slain the seven giants and all their kin, and having looted their wealth as well, Sulymon returned to Tusmit and inherited the throne from his grandfather (200 CY). In addition, he inherited the seal of power which Mehmet had obtained from the quest of the Black Vizier.
This Sulymon had four sons, each one the son of a different wife. The youngest was Daoud. Daoud had no expectation of inheritance over his elder brothers; he accepted his place with the same stoic indifference by which he measured all circumstances—was it not the fate decreed by Istus? Rather than concern himself with politics and intrigues, he devoted himself to learning, philosophy, and science. His heart inclined after knowledge and understanding, and he cared little for the pretenses of life at court. He set his mind to ponder the intricate weaving of the hands of Istus, dedicating himself to her worship.
Continue reading “Hidden Temple of Pharol Al-Sammal”
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”
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”