Monday, October 19, 2015

Eaters of Carrion - Tekumel Part 3

Eaters of Carrion

Upon returning to our boarding house we found a secluded part of the communal living quarters and sat down to distribute the treasure.  All up we each got roughly 11K each with the scroll tube being elected group property until such time as it could be determined what it was.  Upon opening it we found it empty and it was only with the persistent investigation by Qarras that it was discovered the inner lining was false and pulled out leaving only the coloured glass exterior.  No amount of looking through the tube, placing the tube over the eyes or such manner illicted any understanding of the object.  With all avenues exhausted for the moment, sleep called.

The next night we resumed our job and for the next few days life was routine.  Then one night when we came in for our shift we were greeted with the sight of Captain Visan commander of third district.  He informed us that it was the deadly mating season of the Kurgha and that patrols were to be issued with Amulets of Granted Entrance, which he explained would open the doors of any tomb in the necropolis.  Mridoch asked how we would know where the Kurgha would be?  The withering look Visan gave Mridoch made him no friends, until the Captain realised that the group were new guards and had never been involved in a Kurgha infestation.  Visan explained that the smell a group of Kurghan expelled from their body was strong enough to be smelt fifty feet away, even through doors.  The smell was that of rotting meat or corpses left too long in the sun.  The guards were all then reminded that the Amulets were City property, loss of the device would cost the individual 100K and a trip to the interrogators, oh and immediate loss of employment assuming you survived the interrogation.  Seems the City takes an ill view on those who decided to pilfer government property.

That night we encountered no Kurgha, though we could hear clash of arms elsewhere in the normally quiet necropolis.  Two night later we were involved in our first clash.  It was at one of the low clan communal burial bits, simply a very deep hole in the ground that would be set alight and the bodies burnt once the corpses reached a certain height.  How we could tell the stench to be different from the smell of the Kurgha was simple, corpse mounds generally don't move.  It was a lively fight, rather one sided as the pit allowed us to throw oil in and light it, allowing the fire to claim the Kurgha.  We only needed to pick of the half dead creatures that made it to the lip of the charnel pit.  Our first glimpse of the Kurgha revealed they were six-limbed furry beasts ranging up to four feet in length and three feet height for the mature adults.  They had sharp, horny beaks and three eyes.  They smelt like an open charnel pit, which was where we were. An easy nights work we thought, the next day we received the thanks of the Red Moon Clan for cleansing the pit of Kurgha and for sparing them the expense of cremating the dead.  Thanks was good, but it didn't pay the bills.  Gamalu reminded us that a debt of honour was ours to call upon from this Clan should the need arise, so it wasn't a waste as Ashane thought.

The following night found us engaged with another outbreak.  This time we used our Amulet of Granted Entrance to open the tomb doors of the Granite Lintel Clan.  Inside was a swarm of twenty off Kurgha, these were dispatched but we all were left with new scares and blood loss from the encounter.  The Clan sent the watch a bill for damages inflicted by the defence of their dead.  Qarras expected the Clans claims were spurious and that they were milking the system for coin.  Yet another example of how rotten and corrupt certain sections of Jakalla were.  Money could be made from any source as long as it appeared as a noble action, none could question the modus operandi. 

The next three nights were uneventful however on the fourth night, just before the start of our watch a wandering entertainer caught our attention.  The man had a magic lantern which he used to tell the story which he was entertaining the crowd with.  It was a lamp shade with images of coloured glass, that cast coloured lights against the wall.  Mridoch has excited as he explained he now understood what needed to be done with the scroll tube we had.  However, work called and the excitement of our discovery had to wait until our shift finished.

That night puny Gamalu almost died.  It was at the tomb of Clan Glory to the Worm that disaster occured.  The infestation this time has great there being some thirty of these ghastly creatures.  The ensuing fight was brutal and we had to use every trick in our limited book of experience to deal with the creatures, it was at the height of this engagement that a large group of people burst into the tomb, went straight to a wall niche, smashed the stone marker and an object was taken by one who appeared to be a priest.  The Kurgha had us pinned, and it was at this time that Gamalu fell beneath the weight of numbers, distracted by his cry for help the invaders ignored us and promptly left the tomb and us to the fate of the Kurgha. With blood dripping from our exposed flesh the three of us fought on to rescue Gamalu and eventually defeat the Kurgha.

Gamalu was near death when we pulled his inert body from under the fallen Kurgha.  Thankfully the gods had blessed Qarras with the ability to heal and his ministrations were enough to bring Gamalu back from the brink of death.  Supporting each other we reported back to the guard post, explaining the intruders and that they had taken something from the tomb.  Old Nelel made a note in the giant ledger, then summoned a slave and dispatched him and a note to the central command post. 

It was while we cleaned ourselves up and prepared to return to duty that a well armed and armoured group arrived at the post.  The senior officer his plumes of fiery red displayed proudly announced himself as Shemek and then promptly interrogated us as to what occurred.  Indifferent to our wounds and discomfort we returned to the tomb and acted out the encounter.

The leader of the intruders appeared to be a priest of some god, most likely Gruganu due to his black and purple robes, tall black felt hat and the symbol of a splayed silver hand.  The others appeared to be guards subservient to the priest.  We of course had no idea of what had been taken, even after the tenth asking of that question which could only answer in the negative.  Clearly our superiors thought we knew something that we clearly didn't.  Typical middle management, wanting as many answers as they could before reporting to the next level of management in what was clearly a very long chain of command.  In the end dawn finally came, the questioning ended and we were allowed to go off duty.

All we could do was return to our quarters and rest.  The night had been our most gruelling to date. What would we learn from the scroll tube once we had rested and regained enough wit to remember it.  Would the appearance of a messenger from the Glory to the Worm clan mean a demand for damages of an invitation to adventure.  

Stay tuned for the next installment....

Kurgha "Eaters of Carrion" (page 64)

These scuttling six-limbed furry beasts rang up to some four feet in length and three feet tall.  They have sharp, horny beaks and three eyes.  They live on refuse and carrion and will attack only when they outnumber a party.  If the party enters a room in which there are dead bodies, a 6-sided die is rolled: 1-2 = Kurgha are there eating it. Their terrible stench warns a party of their presence at a istance of 50 feet - even through doors!

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