Last Updated: April 10, 2012
Shribryn of the Qahtan
The Qahtan tribe stopped at a small oasis along their usual migratory route to the winter pastures of the savannah along the borders of the Anauroch desert to water the camels and harvest some of the succulent tubers from the water's edge.
The loud and clumsy approach of a caravan, announced the arrival of ulugarr (outsider, not of the desert) to the oasis. The caravan stopped a respectful distance from the oasis. Udo Milner, the ring master approached the encampment to seek permission from the sheik to share in the bounty of the oasis.
Sheik Zarud was impressed by this ulugarr's knowledge and respect of Bedine customs and allowed his caravan to camp at the oasis. It was a mere formality, the oasis belong to no one and are neutral territory, where warring factions can safely rest and even share tea with their sworn enemies.
This was no ordinary caravan of merchants, but a small travelling carnival of bards, acrobats and other performers. The purveyors of magic kept out of sight and did not dare to cast a single spell while in the presence of the Bedine, who are generally very leery of all things magical and easily provoked to "purge the evil of magic" from any company they keep.
Zarud invited Udo to share tea in his tent later that evening. Udo noticed the small female guard who stood by the entrance to Zarud's tent was veiled, making it almost impossible for her to see any approaching attack. While the men exchanged stories, Udo's curiosity got the best of him and he asked if the veil obscured the vision of the female guard? This question was met with laughter and Zarud regaled Udo with story of Shribryn...
Ruha worried that her daughter Shribryn, the youngest member of the Qahtan tribe would not learn the important life lessons that are gleaned when taking care of another living being having no younger siblings or cousins to tend to. Camels were too large and stubborn for Shribryn to handle, so after much discussion Ruha convinced Fata, her husband to purchase a young goat from a passing caravan for Shribryn to care for. Shribryn would act as shepherd for the goat, under the watchful eye of the camel herders. Fata and Ruha presented Shribryn with a child sized shepherd's staff and her new ward, named Ulu (derived from ulugarr, Bedine for not from the desert or outsider), then sent her to join the camel herders.
Shribryn mimicked the camel herders and kept a watchful eye over her "herd", Ulu the goat. It became quite evident over the passing weeks that Ulu was pregnant and the "herd" would soon double in size. The camel herders noticed that Shribryn's "herd" had moved to the other side of a small dune, signalling that Ulu was trying to find a safe and isolated spot to give birth. Shribryn's shepherd's crook was still visible over the crest of the dune, so none of the camel herders believed there was anything to worry about, but they were wrong. The vibrations of Ulu in the throes of bringing a new life to the world travelled through the sand and caught the attention of a small monstrous scorpion in its subterranean den. The scorpion stealthily approached what felt like an injured creature struggling on the sand, which would make an easy meal.
Shribryn sat mesmerized by the miracle of birth that unfolded before her very eyes. She was snapped out of her reverie by the sight of a scorpion's claw bursting from the sand and clamping down on Ulu's throat. Shribryn lunged at the thrashing mound of sand with her tiny Jambiya, a curved double-edged dagger worn in a belt scabbard by both sexes (customarily the only weapon of a woman) clenched in her left hand while letting loose a mighty war cry. Her Jambiya penetrated the scorpion's armoured skin as she landed on its back. Suddenly the scorpion's tail lashed out and pierced her eye. She screamed in agony and immediately collapsed, driving her Jambiya to the hilt into the scorpion as the venom began to course through her body.
The camel herders leapt to their feet at Shribryn's blood-curdling scream. They arrived upon the horrific scene mere moments later with spears and daggers at the ready. Two lifeless bodies lay on the darkening sand. A thin trail of blood moved away from the scene, and then vanished. One of the herders quickly swaddled Shribryn in his jellaba (an over-robe cloak) and raced back to the encampment.
Ruha and Fata knelt in quiet prayer to At'ar (see Anauroch p70) to convince N'sar not to take their only child from them. The scorpion ripped it's stinger from Shribryn's face, leaving a gaping wound where the bridge of her nose was when it felt the approaching camel herders. It was soon realized that both her eyes had been torn from their sockets during the vicious attack. Many days and sleepless nights followed as Shribryn suffered through a high fever and convulsions as the elder women applied salves and dribbled remedies down her throat. A deep coma prevented Shribryn from suffering much during the first weeks of her slow and miraculous recovery.
It was four weeks later during a quiet evening as Ruha prepared the evening meal, that she heard the word "gu'an" (hungry) pass the lips of her beloved child. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she cried out in joy, bringing more than half the camp to her humble tent.
Over the next several months the physical wounds healed, leaving a horrendous scar across her face. Shribryn slowly adapted to the loss her sight. Her hearing became as sharp as that of a bat and she learned how to interpret the subtle vibrations in the sand as people and animals moved about, like the scorpion and her sense of smell rivalled that of a nervous desert rat.
Shribryn began to do simple tasks around the encampment, such as gathering clothing to be mended or collecting water from the earthen pots buried deep under the sand. She navigated the small streets and alleyways created by the many tents with only a child-size quarterstaff which she tapped every so often on the soft sand. The gentle tapping of her quarterstaff allowed her to "feel" where the static objects about her were located.
Farim, one of the older boys of the tribe decided to have some fun at Shribryn's expense and tried to trip her by quietly placing sticks and rocks in her path. To his chagrin, she always seemed able to side step the "traps" he laid out. Finally in his frustration, he decided that he would use his feet to trip her, but he was only able to get within three spear lengths of her before she called out, "There you are Farim." and point in the direction of his approach.
Farim's "game" did not go unnoticed and he was scolded and sent to collect the camel dung (a precious commodity that, when properly prepared can be used as fuel for fires) by his father Zarud. Zarud, one of the tribe's most skilful hunters was intrigued by Shribryn's ability to elude his son's attempts to trip her and he decided to test the limits of her abilities.
Zarud began to stalk her after the evening meal, when the activity level around the encampment increased as the sun approached the horizon and the sweltering heat of the day was replaced by the cool evening breeze. He wanted to get close enough to her to touch her on the shoulder and startle her, but to his great surprise, she spun on her heel as reached for her and greeted him, "Good evening Zarud." Speechless, Zarud walked away.
It was early the next morning that Shribryn began her training in the art of war that transformed the quiet blind girl into an excellent hunter and an honoured and respected warrior of the Qahtan tribe.
It has been twelve years since that scorpion robbed Shribryn of her sight, but this has made her a more effective warrior, not being duped by clever feints during combat and never seeing the spark of life fade from the eyes of her opponents as they lay dying on the battle field.
The bellow of a war horn filled the air as Udon was about to thank Zarud for his hospitality. Both men jumped quickly to their feet.
Shribryn entered the tent and took up a defensive position by tent flap. Zarud drew his falchion from its ornate scabbard that hung from the main pole of his tent and strode towards the flap preparing to engage the enemy all the while muttering an oath to gut the leader of this honourless pack of jackals.
They burst forth from the tent into the chaos of battle. Several Orc raiders were lying in wait just outside of the tent. Zarud's falchion cut down two before they could even move. Shribryn's quarterstaff landed a handful of crushing blows. Several flashes of steel from Udon's hands and three Orcs were crumpled heaps on the ground with blood spurting from their throats.
The trio moved towards the sounds of battle behind one of the carnival supply wagons. Suddenly there was a terrible explosion of fire and brimstone that engulfed the far side of the supply wagon. They found the charred corpses of several Orcs, some of the carnival guards and the bloody body of a robed man, miraculously not touched by the fire and explosion. Udon recognized the robed body of the wizard's apprentice, who must have panicked and unleashed a devastating spell as the Orcs overran his position.
Shribryn cocked her head in the direction of the telltale whistle of a volley of arrows and knew there was no escape. The world suddenly became impossibly quiet and she no longer felt the desert breeze as God placed his warm loving hand upon her shoulder. The din of battle filled her ears once again and the desert breeze kissed her cheek as suddenly as it had ceased, but the hand that was upon her shoulder was that of Udon. He spoke quickly in her ear, "Hurry, before the Orcs shoot again!" as he pulled her along by the shoulder. Arrows embedded in the sand all around made her stumble. "How could this be?" she thought to herself.
Zarud's commanding war cry pushed these questions out of Shribryn's mind as she and Udon moved quickly to the other side of the wagon. The remaining Qahtan warriors quickly assembled and a charge to break the will of the Orc raiders was organized.
The carnival guards provided cover for the Qahtan charge with a volley of javelins at the Orc archers. A pitched battle ensued forcing the Orc raiders to retreat into the desert with very little in the way of spoils to show for their efforts.
The wounded were tended to and pyres were prepared for the dead.
Shribryn whispered into Udon's ear, "How did you save us from those arrows?" while she poured him some fragrant tea as they sat by one of the cooking fires. Udon's reply, "In time my child," Udon paused deep in thought then continued, "when you have mastered all the other skills I have to teach you."
Shribryn almost dropped the pot of tea, but realized that she wanted to learn these secrets so replied, "I would be honoured to be your student." Udon rose to his feet saying, "Excellent, we depart at first light for Triboar."
Shribryn's life as an adventurer began early the next morning...
The sounds of a vibrant trading town wash over you as you and Udon - your master - stroll through the town square of Triboar.
The Carnival, has brought you to this northern output and vital trading hub. A stream of quiet words pass Udonís lips as he describes what is around you as you pass the various stalls and storefronts - though it is quite unnecessary as in some ways you "see" this place better than most - but you appreciate his act of chivalry and you quietly accept his "aid".
The cool and moisture laden air is a stark contrast to the arid winds of Anauroch. Your skin almost feels like it glistens here and the feeling brings a smile - though fleeting - to your face. For this is far from a casual stroll - you are mapping out the terrain so that you may better navigate it later this day as you seek out the one known as "Nighteyes". For Zandever "Nighteyes" Eyredanus - one of the most famous and beloved of the Triboar based guides - has information you desire. It has been said that Zandever has been delving into the mystery of the "Lost Guide" for years and he - if anyone can - will be able to help you find the treasure hoard.
During your travels with the Carnival, you have heard all manner of tales of lost treasures. However, when you first heard the tale of the "Lost Guide", it resonated with you. You can not say why, but you were fascinated by the tale. His name and the reason he was hauling this treasure have become obscured by time and a generation of drunken retellings of the tale in countless inns and alehouses - but the essence of the tale has always remained - just over 30 years ago, the "Lost Guide" disappeared somewhere between Triboar and Yartar his wagon rumoured to be ladened with sacks of gold and other wondrous "treasures".
At first Udon dismissed your interest in this tale as that of a passing fancy of a young woman. But as it became evident that this was far from a passing fancy, he decided that the hunt for the treasure of the "Lost Guide" represented a wonderful opportunity to test whether or not you had learned all of the lessons correctly and to reinforce those lessons and an opportunity for further learning.
Thus, when the Carnival reached Triboar, Udon went forth and through his network of contacts learned of the connection between "Nighteyes" and this treasure hoard. He had passed to you a medallion with a single eye etched in its face - explaining that this would mark you as a friend to "Nighteyes".
Udonís contacts had mentioned that Zandever enjoyed a meal in the late afternoon in a discreet backroom of The Pleasing Platter - an occasion for favoured customers to eat in private.
You easily slip into The Pleasing Platter unnoticed and navigate your way to the back rooms. The smells of all manner of delicacies assault your senses and your stomach grumbles in protest that you are not stopping to partake in a plate or two of this culinary nirvana. However, your quest focuses your mind and steels your resolve.
A simple curtain separates this room from the rest of Platter. As you pass through the curtain, you vanish - the swaying of the curtain the only thing marking your passing ...
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