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Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings 36

"Consider yourself a siege engine"

- Argrath to Sigmund

The Saga now moves forward to the Friend's journey to the Plateau of Statues. Having investigated the ways up the rocky face and finding that the top of the plateau was actually on the Hero Plane, the Friends went to the tent of Thordah Spawn-Slayer to seek aid.

Thordah Spawn-Slayer, High Storm Khan of Only-Safe, had been a Rhino rider before taking up permanent residence here. He towered over all of the Friends except Argrath carried an axe that was larger than Bronwyn. Thordah's warband of 80 Storm Bull berserkers was second only to the Block.

Thordah readily agreed to aid the Companions in their journey if the Companions agreed to aid the Storm Bulls in their renewed crusade against Than Ulbar [1]. Argrath agreed.

In the morn, five-score nomads rode with the Friends to the Plateau of Statues; they were to help the Friends' ritual to cross over to the Hero Plane and then to guard the Companions' mounts while they were on the Otherside.

As Gudny drew his ritual Storm Rune in the dirt, Bronwyn went among the group placing them properly along the rune or around it. Gudny led the band in the ritual, dancing along the rune and singing the songs of crossing; the Friends spake their parts and the Storm Bull warband poured their support into the Rune. The winds howled, clouds rushed in, thunder stuck the rune and when the Friends blinked the after-flash out of their eyes they were standing on the top of the plateau in the Hero Plane.

The top of the Plateau sloped gently towards the centre. The weather was different from the surrounding wasteland, gentle breeze, comfortable heat, and clear skies with a large sun gazing down on them. Trees and shrubs dotted the land while running water could be heard chuckling from a nearby copse. Massive buildings thrust into the sky with huge statues and ziggurats scattered amongst them; some of the buildings were floating off of the ground. Roads led hither and tither through the land, some brick, some glinted like metal, all were around 100 ells wide.

A closer look showed that many of the buildings were showing signs of extreme age, worn down, cracked and sagging.

Began Ok led the way deeper onto the plateau. She that them that she did not know where the statue of Gurgak Gianttroll was but that she could feel in which direction it lay.

The road she led them down was one solid strip of iron; Began stayed at the edge of the road when she could to avoid the deadly metal. The group came upon a park full of fountains and Garthael sampled the water, it was sweet and refreshing. The Friends filled their water skins and continued on. The road stretched on into the distance as far as they could see.

They passed a grove of apple trees that stood 200 feet high.

A four-foot tall purple being raced into their path and ordered them to stop. "Who dares enter my kingdom?" it demanded. Argrath who it was and it replied that it was "King Boggle!" Began ignored it and continued on. The boggle [2] stuck his thumb into his mouth and started to blow himself up. He stopped when he reached 40 feet in height, shouted, "BOO!" and ran off into a nearby alley.

At a crossroad the Companions heard the sounds of construction echoing through the air. Investigating, Argrath found a dwarvish work-crew constructing a brick building. He tried to address several workers but they ignored him. A larger dwarf with a white helmet stepped out of a small shack at the side of the work-area and shouted at Argrath making shooing gestures. When he got no response he adjusted a device on his lapel and spoke again, slower. "Get off of the site!" the device said. "Site 8129C" the dwarf replied when Argrath asked what site. The foreman asked if the Friends had seen their relief crew, they were late. When Argrath asked how late the foreman told them the crew was supposed to have arrived in the Golden Age with more supplies from the Spike [3]. With that the Companions left and continued on their way.

Further on a giant iron throne floated down the road at them. Seated on the throne was a giant with the head of a lion. "I am the King of Gernatela. Why do you not kneel before me?" "I am a king myself," spake Argrath, "and kneel to no other." The lion-man nodded sagely, "Do you come seeking an audience with me?" Argrath replied that they did and the lion-man asked "Where are my gifts then?" Argrath gifted the giant with a Dragon-Torque and it cooed over the trinket while it floated off down the road. The Friends thought that this may have been an incarnation of Basmol who's people had conquered wide swaths of Gernatela.

As they fared deeper into the plateau the very ground beneath their feet began to shake and shudder. So bad was the shaking that the Companions were thrown to the ground. Began managed to get off of the iron road before she was felled. A giant head thrust its way out of the ground and then a great finger a ways further down the road. As they watched, a statue 100 feet tall rose from the subterranean depths and stood before them pointing into the distance. The ground began to tremble again and two giants, 150 feet in height strode around a building. The Friends scattered from their path and watched as the giants busked the new statue off into the distance.

The Friends continued along the road and were enveloped in a rampaging mob of people. The Friends were enjoined to sack a nearby temple with the mob; they refused. Garthael and Varax started to leave with the mob but Argrath called them back by reminding them off their oaths to him. As they passed further down the road the Friends studied the mob and saw that it was made of many different peoples; they hypothesised that they were failed hero-questers who were stuck here pillaging the plateau but unable to escape.

Began now led them onto a new road, paved in gold. A large golden tower blazed golden in the sunlight with spars reaching out from the sides. A gigantic golden cylinder, 300 ells long, swam through the sky towards the tower. As the friends watched the cylinder touched one of the spars and stopped. A door opened above the spar and a torrent of golden people issued from the door. They passed along the spar and down a spiral staircase in the side of the building spilling into the street. The Friends could see that they were all angelic in bearing and pleasing in appearance. They wore garishly coloured shirts and carried black boxes that flashed annoying light when they pointed them at things. They attempted to speak to the Friends but none could comprehend their words. At this the tourists tried to speak slower and louder but still failed to communicate [4].

As night fell and Yelm passed through the Western Gates the Quest camped in a park on the side of the golden avenue. In the depths of the night Began awoke the Friends; she had espied a small giant sauntering through the park in their direction. The giant was indeed small, only 50 feet in height, and it wielded what looked like a boar-spear with a disk instead of the bar that most had. As the giant made its way across the park it was stabbing objects on the ground with the spear and depositing them in a large sack it carried on its belt. The Companions fled from the giant and sought a more secure campsite.

A light shower awoke the Friends in time to greet Theya as she spread her arms over the world. After a brief meal they fared further down the road towards a large plaza that was now visible; Began grew excited and broke into a run. In the plaza they saw a 200-foot statue of a giant troll-like creature. The statue stood on the tips of its toes and was arched back until its hands almost touched the ground behind it, a 300-foot golden spear pinioned the statue in place. Around the neck of the statue was the amulet they sought.

Argrath flew up to the giant's neck and released the clasp on the chain and they all scattered as the great wheel crashed to the ground.

Kamoar cried out in alarm and pointed at the spear. The surface of the spear shaft roiled and shifted in the early-morning light and a great golden warrior sprang from the weapon. Ten feet further up the shaft another roiling produced another warrior, and another, and another. The golden warriors strode directly towards the amulet with grim intent.

Argrath used his mastery of the magic of movement to lift the slab of stone into the air. The first two warriors stopped and stared at him. They brought their spears down to point at him and both fired streams of fire at him. Von dove in front of a blast and fell moaning to the ground while Argrath shrugged off the other, though the effort to defend himself caused him to drop the amulet.

Five warriors now advanced on the medallion while more formed on the spear.

Garthael drew his flashing-blade and hewed one with a mighty two-handed blow. His blow fell on the warrior's shield and through into a golden hip passing upwards and coming out through the other shoulder. As the glow left the split warrior and his pieces fell to the ground Garthael turned to meet the next ten-foot fighter.

Gudny leapt into the air and smote at the next warrior with Orlanth's javelin; the blast melted the man into slag.

Sigmund spun around to face the warriors and hurled Little Weighty at one with a shout; the golden body splashed and bent around the stone. The warrior fell the ground with a screech of pain and lay still.

Argrath levitated the great medallion while Bronwyn strained his draconic thews to move it from the plaza; when they stepped beyond the tiled flooring of the plaza the warriors turned and returned to the spear.

The Companions fared back to the entrance they forced onto the plateau with the amulet and returned to the mundane plane. Though three days has passed for them, ten had passed in the mortal world and the Storm Bulls were anxious to get on with their crusade, "You owe us," said one khan, "We go into really deep tunnels now."

[1] Than Ulbar is an underground chaos city east of the Tunnelled Hills. Rumour says that the High Temple of Thanatar is located in the city.
[2] Boggles are creatures of disorder created in the God's Age; they are the ultimate tricksters.
[3] The Spike was the central world-mountain where all the gods lived. Its destruction ended the Golden Age.
[4] Yes, this is a cruise ship from the Sky world. :-)

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March 27, 2001

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