Sunday, February 26, 2006

Wallach Proverbs

Kiss the hand you cannot bite.

When you see a village with eight houses and nine inns, flee from it.

Seize opportunity by the beard for it is bald behind.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Vampyr Lore

Almost nothing is known for certain about these beings. What little is not utterly incredible is mostly folklore. But since the common folk are those that suffer most as a result of 'the curse', perhaps their lore is most likely to contain truth.

All consider them to be 'undead' – neither truly alive nor yet properly dead. Many names are used for their kind – Vampyr, Upiar, Upiarzta, Lyderc Nadali. (the last of these indicates the common belief that these beings are demonic). Several animal or half-animal forms are associated with these beings – Bats, Wolves, etc – but they also appear as humans to their victims (at least to start with!). Some hold that they are pained by strong light – a sure indication of their evil origins. Some say that they need to lair in contact with their native earth or that they cannot approach certain plants. The most heartening thing 'known' is that they seem (unlike lycanthropes) to be mostly solitary beings with only a handful of non-vampyr retainers.

Of the weapons and methods used against them only the vampyr hunters have any real knowledge. Only a handful of the boldest adventurers seek to combat the vampyr. Most end their lives trying. A few become legends!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Khazad Traits

Khazad are secretive about almost everything. They rarely, if ever, teach their language or craft skills to outsiders. They are clannish and do not usually mix with other kinds. Most if not all are deeply attached to their culture and traditions. Even their outer-given names follow age old patterns. Those who depart from custom or spend too long inhabiting the domain of other kinds are regarded with deep suspicion by most other Khazad.

The picture, painted in YT295 as a mural in a Khazad chapel. Shows a Khazad noble of the line of Azaghal, poss. Olorin

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Time-line of Historical Events

1440 Birth of Khuz of Asztärgow
1441 Great Fire of Asztärgow
1498 (YT1) Crowning of the first Tzar
7 Death of St Khuz
8 Council of Tävyl
21-25 First Suppression of Cults
40 Founding of Khorzow
40 Declaration of Boläslowicz
64-65 The Kolloth War
90 First Pestilence
110 Iron Omen
112 The Usurpation and Royal Massacre
112-154 Reign of Iron Fuzoy
155-163 The Kin-strife
191-193 Revolt
193-198 Interregnum Period
198 Concordat of Toszbow
200-205 Second Suppression of Cults
205-207 Great Pestilence


Born YT1 far to the north of the Tzardom of St Khuz, the sixth child of Landril and Amethwë, Amethäriel spent her childhood like most of her kind – wandering the great forests and learning. She showed early aptitude with the mental disciplines. Landril was a manufacturer and merchant of various plant oils and unguents some with innate medicinal properties but Amethäriel did not find this as interesting as the contemplation of the night sky. She was generally to be found in the company of a group including Leradhir and Caragruin. They frequently disappeared on adventures for several days at a time. It was at this time that Amethäriel learned what little weapon skill that she knows and possibly some other adventuring skills.

While on one such adventure the group encountered a sage who knew many strange tales about the lights in the heavens. After talking for several days with this person, Amethäriel started to express a desire to enter the Celestial College. Here she studied hard and mastered the common learning of the college to a level beyond that expected of a novice.

A Cemetery near Dunofya

A cemetery near Dunofya near to the site of the battlefield (YT66). The style of grave-post dates back to this era but is still used in place of stone monuments in poorer communities.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Strange Incident of the Abbots Cat

Golgow 6th Byad, YT330

Immediately the monks removed his manacles and set him free Voweslaw left the abbey precincts and wandered through Golgow. It had been long five weeks of trying to distract himself with language studies and with devising a new trap. The possibility of sudden death made this harder but now that he was officially declared free of 'the curse' he was determined to breathe the free, and pungent, town air. Until a black cat stepped out in front of him, stopped and turned towards him. Voweslaw's palms began to sweat and his mouth became suddenly as dry as one of the Abbot's sermons. The street began to heave like the deck of the ship Velos on that short-but-memorable sea voyage. Next thing he knew he has racing back to the safety of the cloister.

Because of his wild-eyed look, brother Urbanetcs re-fastened a restraint on one wrist before reviving him and giving him some red wine. Unwittingly, this made matters much worse. For after he had gone, the abbots cat strolled in from the kitchens where she had recently been fed. She now proceeded to investigate the strange man-creature. He seemed to make noise and pull back but this just made him more appealing. To Voweslaw the approach of another cat made the tremors, sweating and nausea return with a vengeance and he fainted to the floor. When he came round briefly to find the cat purring on his chest he screamed and went rigid with fear. The monks duly arrived and the cat ran off but Voweslaw now had a lock of pure white hair and the suspicion that this newly acquired fear of cats probably wouldn't be cured easily.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Art and the Common People

This painting was recently discovered in a manor near Nagyolazi. It shows an elderly pa-mosz couple, possibly a village elder and his wife, in normal attire standing in front of a village dwelling. The unknown artist has managed to capture the very heart and soul of life in the mugyrr. This is certainly not typical folk-art

Shop Signs I

Shops and businesses in large towns and cities use painted boards to show the trade which they practice. This example is an indigo dying business. The use or written script on the sign is not typical. The use of draft horses to power machinery as shown on the sign is not uncommon.

The lay of Dagor Nimaglor

An Account of Dagor Nimaglor, YT325 as recounted to Gorran Petrowec

As it has been written, an account of a battle is like an account of a dance. The dancer only has eyes and ears for his partner and hears only snatches of the words between others. This account came to Gorran from another singer at the Painted Courtesan and it centres on the acts of the paladin Caragruin and the foul liche Hring. Much is lost in translation from the Tylar original.

Eol and Tylar stood together
Facing evil Hring's demesne,
A dark gate in a high hill set.
The daylight then did fail and gates swung wide.
From the dark maw Hring came out,
Proceeded by a host on wakeful dead.
Knights, cavalry, archers, spears and billmen were,
In steady ranks arrayed.
Forth went the Eol knight,
Swift on their shining steeds and fell,
Crushing bones and trampling foes.
Heartening heroes and hardy Bors

Then foul Hring sent down
Clouds of noxious vapours,
That did cause to fall,
In fateful sleep one half of Caragruin's host.
And as the darkness grew upon
The field. The wakeful dead did slaughter all
Of those that helpless lay
Upon the mugyrr land.
Only mist sturdy Tylar men
Fighting on in darkness
Stayed the undead blows and
Saved Eol and Tylar both.

Forth rode the Eol knights
Splendid in war array,
Brothers three, of many
Hundred autumns kin.Towards the evil liche.
Then flames of hellish fire from it
Did issue and consume the spring of Eol pride.
And with a greater darkness fell upon that field
The hopes of many warriors then.
Only a miracle of providence divine
Could save them all from
Ruin and defeat
Before the dawn.

Then Caragruin with his
Eol sword strode
Forward on towards his foe
Disdaining blasts and frightful countenance.
Praying to the Sovereign might
Who sent down light in midst on Midnight hour
Shattering the grim host
Save for it's baleful master
Then Caragruin's blade did bite
Deep into spell wrought, animated flesh
And forced the evil one
Back into his lair

The chosen few of all
The victors then did choose
To follow into darkness and
Beneath the hill did seen to put to final end
The scourge of Prydain past.
Khazad and Eol, Mage and Paladin.
Those of strong will and noble
Spirit did then go
Into the dark and airless ways
But in the dreadful depths
Hring did escape and left
His treasure for the heroes weal.

Numismatic Questions in the Realm of St Khuz

What coins are in use?

denar (a copper piece - cp)
poltura (a double copper piece -dcp)
crajczar (a silver piece - sp)
half-thaler (a small gold piece -sgp)
thaler (a gold piece -gp)

What are they worth?

8 denar = 1crajczar
4 poltura = 1crajczar
12 crajczar = 1 thaler

How much does a coin weigh?

5 silver crajczar coins or copper denar coins weigh 1oz.
10 gold thalers weigh 1oz
(other coins of the same metal have the same weight per value)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In the Barrow-mound

Nr Tarnow Gora Byol, YT330

"We moved on into the hinterland but soon became hindered by increasingly heavy snowfall. Progress became more and more difficult and we began to speculate that the weather might not be entirely natural. After a second night in the open we decided that conditions had become too challenging and that the only recourse was to turn back. Struggling to turn the carts we headed eastward, Hamec ranging ahead as pathfinder, to seek temporary shelter in more civilised country. Soon the snow lay treacherously deep and showed no sign on abating. Eventually the conditions overcame Tolarr’s driving ability and we heard a loud crack and some Khazad cursing - Olorin’s cart was broken but not beyond remedy. I inspected the damage and soon identified the problem. Despite the appalling working conditions I was, with a few tricks of the artificer’s trade, able to effect a swift and sturdy repair. Yard work would have been required and no little expense had I not been on hand.

Continuing through the snow, now all but a foot in depth, we came to a stop as a large ‘talking’ rat halted in our path. Voltarrr claimed that he could converse with the Taltos creature (though talking to vermin seems a rather mean pastime) and we were able to gain valuable intelligence directing us toward a ‘big hole’, that would shelter all of us and our carts. Repaying the rat with provender for him and his family we set off.

The rat’s 'hole' turned out to be an ancient barrow and was indeed large enough for us all. Thankful to be out of the weather we swiftly established a camp. Leradhir led a group with horses to cut down a suitable tree for fire wood while the rest of us organised fire, conducted a cursory search of the barrow and established a guard duty - one to watch the wagons, horses and fire, another to watch the entrance and the outside and a third with a roving brief. We arranged three watches: Nicolai, Tolarr and myself; Gorran, Hamec and Leradhir; and Amatharial, Olorin and Voltarrr.

By nightfall the snow was nearly four feet deep and we became concerned that it would block the entrance to the barrow, though Hamec and Gorran thought this unlikely due to the prevailing wind. At least our search of the barrow eventually bore some fruit. A central bier indicated that it had once been a burial mound, but was now more frequently used as a shelter for sheep. We then found a crude square stone in the floor, like to those covering passageways or holes. Lifting the stone we discovered that it hid the residence of a strange gangrel creature (it had a gnarled and dirty head and a small hairy beard - the rest of its body was also hairy) possessed of some rudimentary intelligence. Hamec suggested that it must be related to the Dwarves as it and they both ‘lived in holes’. Strangely they ignored the implied insult and acknowledged some distant affinity with the earth dweller, naming in ‘Nogyth Nybbin’ - a creature oft persecuted as a nuisance and pest near established Khazad burrows and gnome mines. It seemed friendly enough. We fed it Dwarven waybread and learned that its name was ‘Boggin’. After much private discussion Olorin declared the creature converted to the worship of Aulë though I had not taken him for a proselytiser.

We traded the Nogyth Nybbin food for tales of the barrow (for the long lived creature had seemingly resided here for very many years) and later for artefacts it had recovered from it. We learned that the barrow had been built by ‘old ones’ who had all died before his arrival, though he remembered it having been in use. The bodies placed in the mound were tall humans and had predated the establishment of Tylaria. We recovered two artefacts - a fine copper torque with a strange symbol engraved upon it ( I draw it here for future reference) and a gemstone of polished graphite with a garnet inside. Olorin, an expert in such things, assayed the stone as ‘very artistic’ but was vague as to its actual value. Nicolai inspected the torque but soon discarded it as though bitten by a snake. He claimed the thing was of such malign and profane influence that he was both sullied and violated by its very touch - and that he would be unable to seek the healing intercession of God until he had sought proper ritual purification. I thought this an over-reaction but I lack his theological sensitivity and agreed that the piece should be shoved back into Boggin’s lair.

After several days the weather showed only slight improvement and it became clear that we would be stuck here for some time while the snow thawed. A path was cleared to the nearby trees and a second tree cut for firewood. Smoke was sighted and Gorran, Hamec and Nicolai went to investigate. They located a farmstead (the farmer being a blond man for whom Tylarian was not his native tongue) and bought some goats and beer. On their way back they spotted cattle drovers in the distance. For a while we were concerned that they would seek shelter in our barrow but they never came.

We had continued in this vein for some days when the attack came. It was close to midnight, with Hamec holding the door watch when a rat-beast in humanoid shape leapt upon him. In the ensuing melee Gorran punched both the beast and Hamec (accidentally I think) both to little effect. Upon realising that the beast was were Hamec withdrew and those of us with silvered weapons (Tolarr and me) finished it off with bolt and sabre.

Though this melee was short and no gross damage was done us it soon became clear that Hamec had been bitten and risked infection with the were contagion. With Nicolai in a religious funk the nearest, and only, aid was back in Tarnau Gora. A return to the town now seemed to be our only option - if Hamec was to be saved."

From the Journal of Voweslaw

Outfitting the Expedition

nr Sandamyr, 11th Kabe, YT330

“By the time Olorin and Amethalriel had agreed upon their itinerary it was the 11th of Khabë. The delay was spent pleasantly at the Painted Courtesan and it was with some reluctance that we eventually headed out into the winter chill. The chosen route was westward toward the Eol homelands and the Dungeon of Hring. Initially we headed for Sandamir, and finding that town too small to supply all our needs, on to Tarnau Gora, where we stayed at the Boar’s Head, for further victualling and supplying. The latter town, being so named for its tower, has a substantial population of Szekely. Though I am an indifferent merchant, with my scant expertise limited to the tools of my own profession, it was left to the Lady Amethalriel and I to procure our supplies - the other party members being largely incompetent to fulfil the task or preferring to scoff at our efforts from the comfort of the bar room. Use leaves they said! They’ll be laughing out of the other side of their faces when I’ve got my vinegar and sponge and they are looking for butt wiping foliage in the middle of winter !!!!!

Shortly after the completion of our supplying we departed Tarnau Gora for the wilderness. On our very first night in the wild we suffered a salutary lesson in camp maintenance for some form of hungry animal managed to spoil some of our provisions (perhaps the Khazad will eat it anyway). We must do better if we are to survive the journey.”
From the Journal of Voweslaw

At the Sign of the Painted Courtesan

St Khuz 17th Byol, YT330

"The adventure began when Goran Petrovich invited us to accompany him south to a bardic engagement at the Painted Courtesan. I cannot speak for the others but I was in need of a break having spent the last several months in intensive study in anticipation of my elevation to the company of Royal Artificers (or at least the first rung on that ladder). The Courtesan is an inn of good repute near Thōthāur some ten or so easy travelling days south of the capital. Though the late winter weather was inclement we were able to tag along with a trade caravan, lending our swords in return for their camp fires and company.

We left the capital on the 17th of Byol (330) and arrived at the Courtesan on the 27th, having passed through Sandamyr the day before. The village was filling up fast, with diverse peoples (we even saw some Kolloth with one of their peculiar religious leaders) in anticipation of the bardic festival and we were lucky to procure rooms. Goran was one of several performers playing the festival and certainly not the least of them.

While relaxing in the bar Goran told us that his guild had commissioned the compilation of the works of the famous bard Olvyr Hnuffa who disappeared, believed dead, some years previously. Another of the festival singers chanted a lay composed in memory of the hero Caragruin who, with the aid of the Eöl of Barandanabar, had led an assault upon, and into, the Dungeons of Hring. Upon questioning he told us that his uncle had been at the battle (Dagor Nimaglor, YT325) and had even accompanied Caragruin below ground. Goran wanted us to travel westward to investigate the lay further but I was uncertain for my funds would not support a lengthy trip (at least not in a manner befitting a gentleman).

Shortly thereafter we made the acquaintance of the Khazad Olorin, of the line Azaghal. At first we thought him drawn to his compatriot, our beer drinking companion, but it became clear that he was awaiting the arrival of two Eöl ! For when they arrived, female and male, he soon made excuse to join them at the bar and, in short order, arrange a private meeting. During the course of the evening Goran became part of their council learning that the odd threesome were to travel into the west. He hoped for us to accompany them (the elven lands lying close to the Dungeon of Hring) perhaps hiring on as guards to take the strain off our purses. I was able to further negotiate the promise of an introduction to the famed elven artificers from the Lady Amethalriel. To learn from these sages would indeed make such a journey worthwhile. To speed our journey the Lady agreed to provide mounts for us and we prepared to move out at the end of the festival."

From the Journal of Voweslaw

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Consequences of being bitten by Upiar

If indeed one survives an encounter with an Upiar, what might the long term effects be? Clearly the mind will be altered. Only the strong minded will avoid troubled dreams and daytime terror. Heightened reactions to various sights, sounds, smells will always stay with them. Hypnotic gaze or charm may be lessened or made more effective. Ailurophobia might be found in most or in others a strange and morbid fascination with all felines. They too may be drawn to such a person as if charmed and he or she may develop skills in the handling of such animals whether they will it or not.

Welcome to the Realm of St Khuz

This will not follow any simple chronology or taxonomy but will wander into events and topics in any order that I the teller of tales choose. Feel free to add another viewpoint on these tales in whatever speech your kind allows, but be wary for other eyes are watching