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The Saga of the Gwandorlings 32

Week 2 in the Wastes

So now our tales takes up deep in the wastes of Prax. A bleaker land one could not imagine. Dry wadi's, grasping thorny shrubs, dusty creek beds and taunting ravens. The companion's guides found enough water to keep them going but it was a dry, gritty journey.

Among the warriors that had hired on with Argrath in the Marches was a Humakti weaponthane who named himself Garthael Flashing-Blade. Garthael hailed from Hendrikiland where he had fought a guerrilla war against the waves of successive invaders in that land. The western knights, the Red Empire and finally the Brithini in the south. It must be told how he had the strength of a bear but still moved with the pantherish grace of a stalking alynx. Every opening in his clothes sprouted a knife hilt and he was constantly cleaning his nails with a throwing knife as sharp as Yinkin's claws.

The party's scouts did come back upon them in haste and spake of a large band of riders approaching. When Argrath asked them how many they had espied they replied "There are as many as the count of eight men" [1]. They recognised the colours of a high llama tribe that hated foreigners. "They come to kill us and take our things," they said. The Companions briefly considered the odds and altered their path to enter the Krjailki Bog and avoid the confrontation.

The Bog was obviously unnatural. Urox's Storm, the locals called it Storm Bull's Storm, raged over this part of the wastes dumping water in bucketfuls and leaving the ground soggy and treacherous. The high winds let naught but the sturdiest shrubbery survive and made vision difficult past their sable's noses. Soon their animals were foundering and Kamoar had to lead their winding way across firmer land avoiding the numerous patches of sucking sand.

As night closed in on the party they were 4 leagues into the bog and their scouts told how the llama riders had made camp two leagues back. The Praxians had extended a line of riders to betray any attempt by the Companions to break out and then they had settled in for the night. When Kamoar could no longer see the land the Friends laid their camp. Argrath, Bronwyn and Kamoar flew over the llama camp to evaluate their defences while Lothar arranged the defence of their own camp.

Argrath fared back to camp and spake thusly, "We three shall rush their camp in the dark and make off with the Khan. Thusly can we bargain our way out of this cursed bog." Then Argrath rushed off with Kamoar and Bronwyn to effect the raid. Sigmund and Gudny flew off after him, unbeknownst to Argrath to help if he got into trouble. Argrath thrust his sword through the ceiling of the khan's tent and peered through the rent; the tent was empty! "It is a rouse. Back to the camp!" he ordered and off they flew. They passed Gudny and Sigmund unseen in the stormy night and raced for their camp.

We must now tell what happened at the Companion's camp while they were absent. Garthael was prowling the picket line when he heard a strangled gurgle in the darkness followed by a spray of arterial blood. He cried the alarm and drew his brilliantly shining blade which turned night into day for ten paces around himself. The camp roused quickly and the party's Uroxi immediately cried "CHAOS!" and charged into the darkness frothing at the mouth with their axes swing in mighty blows. Nye three-score broo [2] charged the encampment and tore into the defenders. At their head was a ten-foot monstrosity with the head of a rhinoceros. A twelve-foot tall chaos frog winced in the light from Garthael's sword and plunged back into the bog with a hapless nomad clutched in its gob. An eight-foot tall creature with many tentacles sprayed acid around itself and tore one of the Uroxi limb-from-limb before it collapsed under a hail of berserk axe-blows. "UROX! UROX! UROX!" cried the madmen as they piled corpse after corpse around them.

Lothar and Garthael both tried to rally the defence but it was too late, the attackers were among them and the fight degenerated into a grand melee. By the time Argrath returned the fight was over. Eight of the guides lay dead. One had been raped by the broo and had to be slain. The party had lost all of their remounts and had only enough rides left for the survivors. Lothar had slain the Rhino-broo and Garthael had hewn 14 of the foul creatures.

Gudny spake these brave words when he returned:

"Bugger this"
When Theya [3] again blessed the wastes the companions remounted and picked their way through the bog further south. They made it to a small lake on the river there and found great mangrove stands. Like the party who's journal they followed they assembled five great rafts to carry them and their rides down the river.



[1] The count of a man is the number of fingers and toes. 20.
[2] Broo - A chaos creature with the body of a man and the head of an animal.
[3] Goddess of Dawn.

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March 27, 2001

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