The Eighteen Blades of Vode Nulan

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Living as Slaves

The lands of Charth Annix are little more than a rugged stretch of badlands riddled with gaping holes in the earth from which is extracted a king’s ransom of ore to serve the church and the empire. Hundreds of slaves toil and work upon these harsh lands, delving into the deadly mines, moving rock and boulder to cultivate a system of roadways or tending the Charth in other ways be it serving within the household of lesser nobles or tending to more mundane chores such as laundry and cleaning.

For years you have toiled on this land, whatever light of freedom you once harbored within has been dimmed by the daily exhaustion you suffer through, the endless horizon of rock and sand and the constant breakdown of your strength and sense of individuality. Behind the Wall of Bones a proper slave may rise as high as the priesthood provided he obey those above him and honor his station as decided by Chardun above all else. But life as a slave is never easy and displays of character, personality or imagination have long been beaten or driven out of you. Indeed, to even speak of such things is a crime, to speak of a place or person who dwells beyond the Wall of Bones is punished severely and to show any reverence for any divine lord other than Chardun is an exile to the mines – a death sentence to even the most hardy of slaves.

Over the years this bleak landscape has undergone some changes and many slaves look upon their labors with pride. Where there once lay drying and soggy beds of streams and lakes there now sways tall and healthy rivers and fields of precious serpent weed, the staple of a Dunahnae slave’s life. The greenish brown crop grows in abundance within these dredged channels, the sound of the rigid stalks rubbing together with every breeze does indeed sound akin to the scraping of serpentine scales. Newly captured slaves must force down the brownish squash made from this plant, but its bitter taste and acrid odor is the only meal a slave of Dunahnae will ever know, and they are quick to snatch up portions of this gruel from the plates of other slaves who show even the slightest reluctance to consume the meal that Chardun has provided for them.

This is not the only treachery among those enslaved; all seek to better their standing in society or their reputation among the soldiers, charths and priests whom they serve by following the laws of the land. It is a way of life for a slave to inform on his fellow slave for even the most minor of infractions. Some slaves will even enact instant punishment in the forms of beatings or confiscating of rations. Through these means many slaves rise to a greater rank, given the privileges of lesser overseers, they are entrusted with the responsibility of watching over their fellow slaves and enforcing punishment when the time comes. Such slaves are generally more liberal and generous with the whip, hoping to impress their betters through their zeal and mercilessness.

By the day life grows harder; by the year you forget a little more of the life you led before or the friends and family you once knew. This is your life now. You belong to Charth Annix and owe your existence to his honor and mercy. You are a tool to be used to strengthen the land and the church and Charth Annix is the hand that now wields and directs you. What once seemed like hell has slowly become the norm – a wretched, weary and horrid existence, but one in which only the truly strong and obedient can survive for any length of time.

Is it time now to commit? Is it time to lay aside your beliefs of old and consign them to some corner of your mind where fantasy and make-belief allow you to visit when exhaustion and sleep overwhelm you in the night? For holding on to such hopes and such memories will only pull you down in this new life – hope can only be twisted into despair; pride or dignity can only lead to punishment and pain. The survivor in you must finally give in to the knowledge that submission and obedience are the only paths that will lead to your continued existence.

And now, as you struggle with these truths a call goes out among the slaves; Lengthlord Uriadak, one of the most feared and heavy-handed of the Charth’s soldiers and over-seers, is gathering a contingent of slaves for what is being called a place of honor in service to the Charth. From the noble houses, to the brackish fields and to the hellish mines, individual slaves are being dragged aside to march east in service to your Lord, Charth Annix.

Keeping the faith
Years I’ve mined for the swill of this country and still they can’t break me for I serve a higher purpose.for now I pray In silence but they will not hold me forever and I shall someday soon continue my journey.
The journey so far

They tried to break me. They tried to turn me. In the end I was deemed unturnable so they tried to kill me. Goran has other plans for me as they have set me and others free of the mines and March US to the wall of bones. We haven’t been told why and rumors among the slaves very.
On our journey we we’re ambushed by goblins. There attack was futal the slavers dispatched them with ease. Not the time to make my escape but soon.


Rott the Ratkiller sat high upon his horse, looking down at the massive Forrest that sat below, formed by the natural run off and thaw from the surrounding hills that seemed to frame the edge of the dank place.

He felt the power he now had, the freedom, and it eased his fears of what may lay waiting for them below.

They had come a long way. Less than two months ago, Rott was stalking rats in the hopes that he would eat something other than snake weed. Now he and the others prepared to assist Holy Men in saving lives.

The road from the Vault to where they stood had proved to be full of peril before arriving under the umbrella of holy soldiers seeking to save a city beset by the grey waste.

A grim task ahead of them, Rott, Adamant the Dwarven Mage, and Ram the Copper cleric of Chardun, returned thier horses and made way into the Forrest on foot.

Our journey

Are trip through the desert seemed to take forever though to the ones I tell the tale too it was impossibly fast.
We were rounded up the other slaves and I for a journey that was assuredly our last. I for the first time saw the great wall of carnage that separated the Dunahnae and there captives from the rest of the world. A wall so high and so thick made of fallen slaves and defeated foes with no gate in sight. We stood in formation as several dark art masters wove a cantation that cracked open a path through the wall. Bones snapped bowed and separated never in my deepest nightmares could I have ever imagined something so horrific.
We marched through the desert collecting the building blocks of that monstrosity adding fallen slaves we marched with to the pile.
No one was safe from the torment of a bearded demon that watched over and pick one of us at a time to torture and die.
One night in a cramped hut shared by three other slaves a group of nomads visited our camp. As they bartered with our captures sounds of warning rang out the nomads tore out from the camp as great wolves attacked our masters during the melee a command shouted for all to hear “torch the huts” just then the door to our hut burst apart as one of the great wolves freed us and spoke follow Tanils path that Belsameths moon eliminates to freedom. Convincing one of the slaves who’s name was and still remains Rot was easy but a forsaken dwarf that was held with us was so beaten into submission that we practically had to abduct him.
Grabbing scraps on the way from the battle site we headed off waiting for this sign. We had nothing but a shield a club and our Johnson’s but Taneal and Goran would provide as we happened on a recent battle and found a helm and some buried camels my compatriot Rot used him survival instincts to provide us with water from camel humps and meat from the carcass. We used the humps to hold water from my conjurings and moved on. Later the next day we found a cave it seemed as though no one had used it recently so we bedded down sleeping during the heat of the day to keep fro succumbing to our lack of provisions.during my rotation on watch I peeled a human wearing nothing but a cloak he spoke a foreign tongue and seemed delirious waving his arms wildly.I woke my comrades and we made our way to the human.fearing what had spooked him Rot went back to collect our meager belongings and our other partner Ambleheart he finally confided to us a smelly hairy beast on two legs wielding a tree or very close to one with a wicked spike emerged from a second cave not far from ours. Though wounded it fought ferociously but was felled by Rot.the human refused to come with us so we gave him some provisions and went our separate ways.
We continued on following the path set before us through the desert and ran into a traveler. She was friendly and offered us food and information on a oasis that served as a place for rest and resupply. It felt good to eat something that didn’t come from a rotting corpse or a plant even animals would turn down. As Ambleheart heart was still far to timid to go I stayed with him as rot went with the traveler to the oasis with what meager scraps that we had collected on our journey.
Upon Rots return we discovered that all did not go as planned Rot collected the supplies we needed but found a sword that convinced him that the merchant was evil and must be killed. He killed the merchant and snagged the supplies and made his way back to us
I eventually shared my worry over his actions and the validity of the sword he possessed. We found ourselves at the end of our path only it was not the end only an intermission. As our glowing path sent to us by Taneal waned we found ourselves in a densely packed forest we ran into a group of goblins and readied for the fight when to my horror a stampede of bison charged through me as I clung to the tree I was using as cover they trampled the goblins where they stood. One of the great beasts stayed behind a magnificent animal celestial in nature. He urged us to take to his back and he carried us onward. Yet another sign this time from Corean another of Gorans compatriots it is now more clear to me than ever that Goran wishes me to complete my mission to help save Burok Torn.
The bison carried us for several more days then stopped at a stream there sitting pole in hand was a man jolly in nature and intrigued by our story he offered us lodging and something to eat. TBC.
Insert part on stopping the plague.
Our group and received lodging from the vault which included a library,rooms to stay and researchers to help with our task of locating these mystical swords.
We were up in the air as to our choice of swords to retrieve first but needed to make a decision And present our choice as well as our plans going forward. The evening before we were to meet with the vault representative a Herald came to give us the gods path it was truly awe inspiring as Adament the quietest of us could not stop from sharing the experience with the only non party member he is comfortable around Merci. Redeemers Retribution will be our first quarry. In the mourning we that could go back to sleep woke first the assistants started preparing for the arrival of the vault rep I went into town and grabbed breakfast for us and our guest. The rep arrived with a gentleman bye the name of Yurig Madog a halfling retriever for the vault ( gathers information in the field for the vault.). We sat to explain where we would start on our quest. Hollowfast specifically the gleaming garden and redeemers retribution. We then explained the visit we received by Rogziel Herald of Madriel and the fact that not just wicked’s edge has some taint and that the gods wish is them destroyed. The rep an imposing man bye the name of Master scion Ithamar seemed a little taken back by the info and took a defensive stance reminding us that we work for the vault and agreed to collect them for the vault. If the gods send a Herald to collect the swords I will not stand in there way and I’m sure my comrades will agree deal or no deal. Our lives were saves by the gods to take on this task and there at least in my opinion is no greater an honor. We set off for the golden city by teleport. Our first order of business was to find lodging ,get our bearings and collect a note left for Madog. The inn keeper told us where we could find the south valley. There we would find the Zwanziger family and our next lead on the whereabouts of redeemers retribution. We were given a stippen of 400gp which we used some of for our rooms, horses and provisions. The next mourning for the south valley. Hallowfast specifically the gleaming valley have an amazing problem thieves and evil doers would say those of the righteous call it a gods send. Fallen Corean knights or at least there armour. Long short there’s a curse,death and resurrection into sentient armour golems. As the knights fell during the Devine war there souls we’re trapped in there armour. Fyi if I’m cursed I pick that one just saying. There are thousands of them tens of thousands and there were more but now when they fall there completely destroyed soul armour and all. So the trip to south valley was pleasantly peaceful we stayed at a way point midway of our journey with a couple of hallow knights as there called now. For first contact I’ll say this they are a little spooky but respectful though as constructs they don’t need sleep and as to not disturb ours they remained still and silent only making noise on there departure. By mid mourning we reached the south valley and had no problem find the residence of Zwanziger there we met the purchaser of the sword he gave it to a halfling outrider who saved his brother Otto Zwanziger and they left towards the north valley on a lesser used shortcut.

O-Z confides...

Otto Zwanziger, merchant guard, former Gleaming Valley caver and, by most accounts, a bubber of a dwarf, opens up about recent events in his life…

“Yuh, I got a nick. Pa and the caver lads call ‘e OZee, ya know, for ’a initial, O-Z.
Life to this point was spent ’ostly in the ’ines, it’s sort of ‘een a family callin for years, startin with aged grand-hap who disappear’t down a ‘ine tunnel and never return’t – though plenny have run inno the old ‘oy in the tunnels and shafts ‘elow the ’ountains, he just got no need to return to the surface.

Our clan or family is what ye call cavers and in a ‘ining commun’ty like this one we serve a value’t purpose. ‘iners, as you well know, tunnel unner the earth. Well, from ti’e to ti’e they ‘ound to open up a shaft into a natural caver’, someti’es even a series or complex o’ caves and caverns. Now you don’t want a ‘unch of ‘iners wannerin’ through these regions, who know what sort of danger lurk under these ol’ ‘ountains? So, those what own the ’ines send in a team o’ cavers. Paw been cavin’ for nearly eight decades, ‘y oldest siblings been at it for as ’any as forty and I’z nearing my tenth year afore ’y reti’ent.

It’s dannerrous work and the wages are ‘arely enough to support a fa’ily – or at least they used to ‘e. Recently, due to hard times or some such hog-wash ‘scuse, our wages been cut. Paw says, “Lads, they doin’ wrong ‘y us and we not gonna stan’ fr’it.” ‘y ‘rothers decided to move further north and seek out opportunities with other ’ining op’rations, but not ol’ OZee. I says, “Paw, Not sure how you gonna ’e liken this, ‘ut I’m gonna strike out into the surface worlt and make a go of life a’ove the ’ountains.”

Well, ‘y family already thought I was a wee ‘it odd and soft – ’y older ‘rothers so’etimes called me the ‘awler cause I been knowt to go ‘isty in the eye on tha ’ccasion. Paw just look at ’e and says, “If your heart’s telling you to go then you got to go your own daisy-picken way and ‘est of luck to ya.” So, with the ‘lessings of ’y father and ’y fa’ily, I left the ‘ining commu’ty and joined on a car’van where I was able to ‘ake some coin servin as a guart to the High-’erchant ‘ash’one. I ‘een travellin’ with Sir ‘ash’one for a few ’onths now, we got an unnerstandin’ with one another: I do ‘y work and he pays ’y wage. It’s a fair ’nough life, I get to see the worlt and enjoy a spot of travellin’. ‘Ut, as paw says, follow your heart, so I ‘ay ’ove on to ‘igger and ‘etter things should they show themselves. ’ash’one always say, “The next sack of gold is just ’rount the ‘end.” And the same holds true for dreams and happ’ness. So I’m keeping my options open."

Message in a Bottle

Written in dwarven – charcoal writing on a cracked and rolled piece of parchment folded into a corked milky white bottle:

We suffert claim-jumpers and bandits these last fort days and nearly lost a member of the company – all this to defend a dusty, dry mine that’s little more than a coyote hole.
It’s the law of might what reigns out here, just beyond the Vale. A claim is given legal rit within the Gleaming Valley, but these papers count for little in the wilds of the Gascars where there are no roads to support the King’s forces and the terrain is a poor suit for the Hollow Knights.

With a final push from some frenzied claim-jumpers we’ve loaded up and rolled out two nights past. Yab’s following a part dry riverbed, lumbering the cart over the rocky bed and pushing the animals to follow the stream bed against a trickling current. It’s a sharp incline but we’ve got to go where there’s ore, got to get away from the places where bandits and thieves are seeking out easy pickins.

It’s an early night’s camp I call; I’m not a popular figure right now, I pushed ‘em hard today and we put some miles ahind us. The terrain only seems to get rougher for the morrow so a full belly and a night of sleep is what’s needed. Huakna seems to be the only one who believes in the direction Keldar and I have chosen, but even if the priestess were opposed, I’d follow Keldar’s nose for ore into the Hornsaw. I think these higher reaches be worth assaying before we turn back, if nothing else.

Blessings on young Gilesli, I’ve never seen a dwarven hand so finely pick at harp strings, she seems too purty, too dainty for such rough livin and I fear a life swinging the pick and shifting boulders will ruin those digits and her harp playing days for good. For now she’s keeping the mood light, her faster than jack rabbit stringin’ nearly had old Zuth cuttin’ a jig. I’d like to strike the mother lode for no other reason than to send her off to some fancy bardic academy in the east, we all know she got the talent for it.

Belbaza’s off to scout a bit of the path ahead and to make sure we won’t have any surprise in the night; taking on that tracker was the best bit of advice Zuth has given, though it was more endless complaints than suggestin. How such a surly cuss calls so often to Corean’s ears is beyond me, maybe HE just gives Zuth less to complain about than the others of the divine.
I praise Belbaza’s scouting, but could have gone without her ill-spoken words before leaving to scout. Yea indeed we’re camped in a low gully in a dry riverbed – she’s likely right, a good rain will flood out the entire camp and our equipment with it, possibly some lives. But Keldar, Huakna and even Belbaza agree that rain tonight is highly unlikely, it’s just one more thing for the others to grumble about. Even as I write Yab is giving me the crow’s eye as he tends to his winded animals, Zuth hasn’t stopped complaining since breakfast and even quiet Kiram is shaking his head whenever he looks my way.

I don’t fear an uprising, these are good loyal folk, believers in the peace of Madriel, the joy of Tanil and the honor of Corean and Goran; but I feel their tops a bubblin’ and our company’s desperation. Original plans had us back in Forge by now, and he we are lumberin the opposite way up mountain ‘stead of down. We’re deep in debt for the prices of our supplies and I fear we on verge of folding as a company and going our separate ways.

This pocket of high valleys might be our last effort at finding a claim that pays off our debts, let alone turns a profit. Time is against us, the terrain is against us and by the sound of that peal of thunder rumbling over the mountains, the weather may be turning against us. My worst fears for tonight. Tanil help us if one of those fierce mountain storms rides our way. I fold up this ledger so we can shift the camp to whatever higher ground might be reached, I’m storing it in this musty old bottle of White Peak Ale, The kerchief tied around is my own, Rotu Stonefoot, founding member and chief miner of the Pick and shovel Prospecting Company. Should any find this letter in the wilds beyond the Valley, say a prayer to Tanil that we find our way out of these highlands alive.
Sometime late in Enkilot, 150

Battles thus far

Rott the Ratkiller sat. His brow heavy with the options ahead of he and his friends. the charge of finding the blades was a epic one. One he couldn’t help but wonder if they had taken on for him.

No, they were good, honorable people. They took the quest upon themselves because they sought to gain purpose, to give their life meaning.

They had risked their lives by his side, risk their lives for others and each other.

Fighting and killing the Orcs who had raided OZ’s village had been a good thing, a d tracking the two that had fled the castle was a worthy cause as well. He only regretted that they had not been in time to save the humans who had been taken.

Looking into the night sky, and around at the city, Rott marveled at how far they had all come, from slaves to agents of the Vault and chosen of the Gods.

Hugo nudged Rott roughly, demanding attention. Rott patted the massive dog’s side, his hard pats sounding like he had slapped the side of a keg. Hugo was a dutiful animal, one he hoped the others would one day notice for his contributions.

Standing with a sigh, Rott stretched. It was time for him to choose a new name. One to reflect who he was becoming. Beyond everything else, this was something he alone could control. Clicking his tongue for Hugo, the two returned to the group, the future ahead of them.

The approach to Shelzar

“Look yonder,” coughs the dust choked voice of Enzo, that fine old peddler of mithril and melons as he nods toward the horizon.

It was the last leg of your journey, for a week gone now you have been breathing in the warm, fresh air of the Blossoming Sea that promises a nearness to your final destination, Shelzar. Following the crooked finger of the merchant you can see the glint of the city ahead. High walls of drab stone are dismissed and overlooked as eyes are tugged toward the glinting spires of the city of pleasures. Gold, ivory, jade and marble sparkle like jewels in the afternoon sun; elegant spires, graceful domes and Elzan sky arches dominate the skyline and, from this distance at least, the city’s reputation as a place of beauty, elegance and unimagined riches seems very true to life.

A loud “Caww” sounds from the merchant’s shoulder drawing your eyes away from the city scene shimmering on the horizon. Horsemen approach from the dusty road you are traveling upon and Enzo’s constant companion, the ragged crow, Delshad, ever the distrustful guardian, sounds her usual alarm cry at the approach of strangers.

Approaching on horseback are a trio of men, each with skin colors of various shades of dark. From caramel to coffee, these brown-skinned men were arrayed in matching colors that would seem garish on the citizens of any other region of Ghelspad. Thick, green-blue sashes slashed diagonally with gold are banded around their slender waists, gold-hilted scimitars rest on their hips, hanging from these sashes. Billowing breeches of pale orange tuck neatly into polished brown riding boots. Above the waist snowy white blouses ripple in the breeze, up-turned sleeves leave hairy forearms bared. Atop the head of each man nests a swirling coil of ornate green and gold linen, these turbans are decorated with two short blue feathers that sprout from a polished black onyx at the forehead.

“Merchant? You’ll follow this road. Haul your goods and beasts of burden through the triangle. I recommend stabling them before passing the city gates – save yourself a few ordu. Move on old man. Move along ye gawkers.” Calls one of the men in a voice that is musical and difficult to understand all at once. He speaks Ledean, but with a clipped and lyrical manner, his volume rising and falling at odd places, stressing certain syllables in a way that makes otherwise familiar words sound very foreign.
You realize his last comment was directed at you and your comrades, your eyes still turned upward, gazing in awe at the vast city towering before you, though you are still a few miles from Shelzar’s walls.

Enzo gives a chuckle and spurs on his great draft horse, Celestine, with a flip of his reins. Delshad flits from merchant’s shoulder to alight upon one of the round barrels of melon roped down in the cart’s bed. Dust kicks up in the wagon’s wake as Enzo raises his voice, urging you to keep up with his quickened pace. “Come on lads, Shelzar awaits: The culinary bliss of the Epicurian Palace, the ancient wonder of the Alabaster Bridge, the famed menagerie, that divine monument the Grand Temple and of course the beacon of faith amongst the murk of vice and sin: the Fortress of Selah where the Order of Iron stands tall and steady as a tide of filth batters its unyielding walls daily.”

He lifts a hand to wipe a stray tear from the corner of his eyes, his glazed look staring ahead with pride, as if he could see the gathered paladins through the hills and walls ahead. “And here lies life for our companion Kade, dearly missed has he been these last few days. Blessings on Goran, blessings on Hwyrdd for preserving his form low these many weeks, I pray his soul awaits its return to us, rested but eager to resume the good fight; I know if anyone can help him it will be the paladins and priests that lie ahead. Shall we make directly for the fortress or do you seek lodging or bathing first?” As he often does, Enzo does not provide space for a response and instead shoots you a stern and concerned look,

“Mind you avoid the worst of the neighbourhoods and keep your wits,” he commands with a snap to his voice that startles the crow. "No one seduces like a Shelzari – you are soon to see riches, finery and women more exotic, more lovely and more within reach than you are likely to ever see anywhere. Avoid the Maze, avoid the brothels, avoid the perils of Enkili and his fickle followers. Most importantly, when you see the most beautiful woman in your life flashing a smile that promises lifelong happiness and sensual bliss, run the other way. Run for your life lads.”


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