The Walker Kings

The Sound of Drums

Excerpts from Visarion's Log

On the road to Raam, Day 1

Rode with Nanda Shatri towards Raam, with some haste. The current state of affairs was a tad disconcerting, but I was confident. I’d defeated the bitch queen time and again before, so what was another? I’d go to Raam and free the hostages, thus crippling her army. I’d also cut Abalach Re off from one of her sources of power—this dead god Badna—and hopefully that can turn the tide.

It seems like a tall order for a single Dray, really, but then again, I was never an ordinary Dray.

On the road to Raam, Day 2

We ran into a group of Raamite soldiers. Things were close, but we pretended to be the merchant Lord Nikana and his daughter Lady Leia. A lone soldier dared to defy our claims (which were, to be fair, entirely false), but a quick staredown and a couple of veiled threats put him in his place.

Lord Nikana and Lady Leia of House M’ke.

Damn, but that Cypher is rubbing off on me. I guess that’s what happens when you travel with such a… slimy character.

(And yes, Cypher, I realize you’re in all likelihood reading this right now somehow. No offense meant.)

On the road to Raam, Day 3

Today was largely uneventful, but a strange thing happened. In preparation of our evening meal, I lit an arcane fire, as I usually do. But it was… different, somehow, than usual. The fire seemed to burn brighter, and I found my gaze transfixed at the flickering embers. Nanda Shatri did not seem to note anything out of the ordinary, so perhaps the light was just playing tricks with me. Then again, there have been accounts of prophets who see visions in flame—screaming nonsense about some lord of light—but that has never happened to me.

It is strange, when I think about it. My entire arcane career has had me more biased towards harnessing the power of cold. And yet, after the battle wherein we claimed the Orb of Darkest Defiling, the arcane energies seemed to overflow in me, and I was filled with a yearning to channel the power of fire. Why is that, I wonder? I hadn’t given it much thought before, but to be drawn to the polar opposite of your primary source of power seems a bit unusual. Could something have reached out to me, then, using the power of the orb to plant some compulsion in my mind?

Well. Such thoughts are like to drive me fully insane (arcanists are already half-insane, really).

Raam – Day 4

Arriving in Raam, for whatever reason, aggravated my concerns somewhat. I remained entirely focused at the task at hand, but… something was off. Almost immediately I felt dizzy, my head pounding like a drum. But I couldn’t let that affect me, so I stayed calm and carried on.

After discussing tactics with Nanda Shatri, we decided to head for the Sepulcher of Badna. To do that, however, we needed a way to get in. Fortunately, we ran into a certain sculptor who owed me a favor. It turns out he did the sculptures of Abalach Re’s consorts that were buried in the Sepulcher, but just pretending to be the sculptor’s assistant wouldn’t cut it. We needed one final piece to make it convincing—Nanda Shatri would have to pose as Abalach Re. She objected initially, stating concerns about mimicking the sorcerer queen’s voice. I showed her I was more than capable of doing this for her. She sighed, defeated, but ultimately agreed to help us out. A quick glamour had her assume Abalach Re’s form, bare buttocks and all. I convinced her to take the lead, as this was tactically sound, and for this the sculptor seemed quite grateful, initiating a peculiar fist-bumping motion I was largely unfamiliar with.

Getting pasts the guards was simple, but the Sepulcher itself was difficult. It was for me, anyway, though I do not know if this was the case for the others. The pounding in my head intensified, and I realized my head didn’t feel like a drum; rather, I could hear a drumming noise inside my head. I looked around to see if anybody else noticed, but it seemed I was the only one. That concerned me somewhat, but there really wasn’t much else I could do other than bear with it.

A short walk led us to a statue of Badna, and the drumming noise grew louder still. It seemed to be coming from the statue… but it was actually coming from underneath it, somehow. Upon further inspection, it seemed the base of the statue hid a door leading downward. Nanda Shatri and I pressed forward as the sculptor offered to stand guard.

Every step I took, and the drumming grew louder, and louder. One two three four, one two three four, one two three four, one two three four, a constant, incessant rhythm in my head. What was this sound? What did it mean?

I was vaguely aware of three figures standing between me and the source of whatever it was that was calling me.

Fools. They did not stand a chance.

I know I must have just stood there, in the field. Perhaps I defiled… I do not recall. I remember only the embers, and the drums. Because that’s when I realized what was making that drumming noise. It is in my head still, though it bothers me no longer. That constant beating—there can be no mistake.

They are the drums of war.

And I am the god of war reborn.

Image taken from Holienetta. For personal, nonprofit use.

Escape from Raam – Day 5

I must be quick.

My companions ran, and I am alone. I remember little. Only what I felt.

Extra arms—that’s new. Okay. One never can tell with these things. I could have grown an extra head, or had no head. Legs. Yes. I still have legs. And wings, of a sort. Good. Mostly intact. Still a dray. That is good.

I am too weak, still. I cannot face her yet. I need… I need… something. I don’t know. I hunger. I thirst. But I do not know what I need.

I must make for Kled.

I wonder how the others fared…?


DM Note: The trio Visarion met was actually a group of inevitables (maruts, whatever). They were guarding the corpse of Badna, as it has been decreed by the surrender of gods to the primordials that no new divinity can walk on Athas. But then, the dead god Badna is not exactly a new deity. ;-P

The Sound of Drums

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