Ashu, the Ibis of Dawn, lives in the marshes beside the river Shugal. Each morning, her wings embrace the sunrise that she might guide it across the sky, for the strong right eye of the river Shugal is blind, and may only open with her aid; if she is absent, the strong right eye will close and cast the city and its farms into darkness. Continue reading “Ashu, the Ibis of Dawn, Healer of the Sun”
A Year ago, the village of Pa woke to a site none had ever seen. Arriving with the rising sun was the enormous beast they called Mountain-That-Walks. Clinging to its gold-adorned fur was a stranger coated in white clay who would only call herself Chalk Woman.
Zikru was once a beautiful man, a poet of great skill. So great was his ability with his tongue that he never slept alone, and often with the chiefs of his tribe. But, drunk one night on a subtle wine, he boasted that his knowledge of the Language of Names was greater even than that of Ashlala, the Great Name of the People of the River Uklal.
I’m really proud of The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze. It’s the best roleplaying game I’ve ever designed and I think that I’ll be able to look back and see its publication as a watershed moment for the playable parts of my creative output. This is where it came from.
Ahuj, as she’s known by Captain Kwajr’s brave crew, is friend to Djafaiya, the East Wind of the Sea. At a word from her lips, city gates discharge their duty to her by opening. Fair winds vacate the sails of their quarry and swell their own to overtake their prey. The Mighty City of Po invites her with gritted teeth and will see her unharmed in its rough streets and halls of intrigue.
Two years have passed since Emakesh rounded the bend of Mother River to see the village of Adur Em burned to a smoldering cinder. He asked the boat — a simple canoe carven from the stout bowsprit of the warship whose stories you already know — to beach itself that he might look among the ashes for clue or treasure. What he found was much more than the fire-eaten remains of a village.
Nur Amegh is the champion of the City of Guruk, which can be found in the Three-River Mountains far the the west of the center of the world.
The Wandering Tower is spoken of around campfires and in the halls of the great cities, alike. It was seen by the traveler, Emish, as she crossed the Stone Sea. The army of Magish the Archer gave it wide berth when it marched toward the city of Ud.
Any traveller will recognize that the first sounds and smells of a town are those of the settlement’s ktesh. The birds stand only as tall as the knee, but, as the saying goes, “All cities are built of the bones of the ktesh.” They hunt as a flock, consuming the rats, mice, and toka of a settlement and, in return, the people of the settlement consume the flesh of the ktesh. The color of its feathers never fade and are used for spectacular artworks, and its bones are read by namedealers to read portents of the future.
The meat has a bolder flavor than that of any other bird, but is both more delicate and more abundant than that of sheep or goats. It bears well the spices that travel the Great Road and combines well with eggplant and garlic. In most cities, it can be purchased, heavily salted and spiced, grilled on sticks.
About a year ago, I posted a roleplaying game based on my story, Lover of Jet & Gold about the Namedealers of the setting: those who speak the secret Language of Names to all the phenomena of the demon-haunted world in which they live. For the most part, they’re the “sorcerers” of the Sword & Sorcery setting.
Namedealers are like Mosheh, Thetis, and Merlin. But they’re also not all that far from Bugs Bunny and Cugel, all of whose power comes from their ability to perceive and tell truths, but whose weakness in overestimating their importance to rather more direct individuals at the wrong moment. In a recent game, the inestimable Quinn Murphy equated his namedealer to Wile E. Coyote, fleeing the consequence of each overreach by putting himself in a slightly more desperate debt.
It was, and I quote a player at PAX East 2015 here, “The most fun I’ve ever had being eaten by a crocodile.”*