Leaves of Sapphire

The Song of Thunder

Whispers on the Wind

A relentless wind, whistling a mournful tune, whipped across the vast expanse of the Great Northeastern Plains. Here, beneath the watchful gaze of the colossal Pillar of Heaven mountain, nestled the village of Tsagan Bey. The Altan Ger clan, led by their modest yet wise chieftain of the same name, thrived in this harsh land. Their days were a symphony of grazing herds stretching towards the endless horizon, the life-giving waters of the Silver Fish Stream trickling north, and the ever-present shadow of the impassable Mountains of the Phoenix Lord looming to the south.

But lately, a discordant note had begun to mar this familiar harmony. Unease settled over the clan like a shroud. Herders whispered of missing youths, their laughter replaced by an unsettling silence. Even more unsettling were the tales brought back by the steppe riders. They spoke of the ancestral crypts, once silent testaments to a glorious past, now stirring with a malevolent energy. From their depths, terrifying echoes resonated – the bone-chilling roar of dragons and the entranced chanting of warriors facing a siege.

Tsagan Bey, a man who wore his years with stoic grace, felt a furrow deepen between his brows. These were not mere campfire stories. A cold dread gnawed at him, a premonition of something far more sinister brewing. He summoned his most trusted advisors, the esteemed Warrior-Storytellers. Their wisdom, honed by years of battle and steeped in the clan’s rich history, was his only hope. As the wind howled louder, carrying the weight of his unease, Tsagan could only pray they would arrive in time.

Echoes from the Pillar of Heaven

Meeting with Tsagan Bey

The band of Warrior-Storytellers – Twing Twang, SOLA, Chayan, Otis Hu, and Wingman – approached Tsagan Bey’s ger, where his warriors crossed spears to halt them. After announcing themselves, Tsagan’s voice boomed, ordering his warriors to let the heroes pass, having expected their arrival.

The Missing Youths

Tsagan Bey informed the heroes of reports from distraught mothers about missing youths and stories of the clan’s ancestors attacking herdsmen in the fields. While he dismissed some tales as idle fancies of “grass-addled” minds of herdsmen with too much time on their hands, the similarities were too numerous to ignore. The problems had persisted for a month.

Seeking Information

Tsagan Bey directed the heroes to either Naran the herdsman or Madam Sarnai for more information.

Madam Sarnai’s Lament

Visiting Madam Sarnai, Twing Twang tactlessly inquired about her missing son and daughter, Bilgee and Altan, as she did her laundry. The henlike Coralaxi woman ranted about pleading with Tsagan Bey to investigate when her children, along with Enshimei’s son and daughter, Delger and Nomun, disappeared without a word a week ago.

Sarnai mentioned that her children had recently been in a rebellious phase, talking about something called the Thunderlords and frequenting the ancestral crypts within the Pillar of Heaven mountain.

Naran’s Encounter

Heading east, the heroes found Naran the herdsman tending to his flock of yikla, under attack by wolves. Chayan fired eldritch bolts while Otis charged to defend the young herdsman, slaying one wolf and flinging another away before the rest of the pack fled in terror.

Naran, having fallen from his spooked horse, offered Otis his heirloom dagger as thanks. He also shared his encounter with his grandfather’s shambling body, which could have only come from the ancestral crypts.

The Offering and the Traveler

Continuing eastward, Chayan respectfully left an offering of sweets at an Ovoos along the way. As night fell and the heroes set camp, SOLA spotted an approaching figure on horseback – an exhausted dwarven traveler whose badly injured horse died upon arrival, throwing him off.

Otis caught the falling dwarf, and SOLA provided water. The traveler offered the heroes potions from his saddlebags in exchange for rations, having lost his horse and requiring extra days of sustenance for the longer walk home. He explained he had been attacked by ghoulish creatures after performing a sky burial for his father at the mountain’s foot.

Entering the Ancestral Crypt

The next morning, the heroes continued to the Pillars of Heaven mountain, spotting the traveler’s father’s body with circling vultures. They made their way up the path flanked by colorful flags and knocked on the large red gates of the ancestral crypt, entering when the doors opened.

Discordent Dirges

The Brazier’s Riddle

The heroes found themselves in a large central chamber dominated by a massive brazier, with three separate exits. SOLA deduced that lighting incense within the brazier would trigger something, and when he did so, glowing lines appeared on its sides and the floor, leading to the right passageway, where torches began to light up, illuminating the way.

The Chambers of the Ancestors

SOLA and Wingman followed the lit passageway into a chamber filled with coffins of the clan’s ancestors, some bearing fresh nails. Meanwhile, the others ventured down an unlit passage, where Twing Twang triggered an arrow trap, wounding Chayan. Otis found and donned armor from a coffin in a decorated chamber beyond.

Twing Twang then explored another unlit passage, dragging Chayan along, with Otis following. They discovered another chamber of coffins and a modest chamber beyond, where Otis triggered a guillotine trap, losing a toe, but earning another set of armor and some murky potions.

The Twin Brazier Puzzle

SOLA and Wingman continued on, finding a chamber with two braziers and the inscription “All are Equal before the eyes of Heaven.” They deduced that they needed to remove the burnt incense sticks and place a new one in each brazier simultaneously, triggering the sound of a stone doorway opening ahead.

The Awakened Ancestors

As discordant metal music filled the crypt, the ancestors’ ghoulish bodies began to reanimate and break free from their coffins, attacking Twing Twang, Chayan, and Otis. SOLA and Wingman used invisibility to reunite with the others, and together they dispatched the ancestors, finding canisters of blue crystallized resin embedded in their skulls, animating them.

The Missing Children

Beyond the opened doorway, the heroes found Sarnai and Enshimei’s missing children lounging and playing cards. Wingman and Twing Twang disguised themselves as the children’s mothers and attempted to lecture them, but Delger and Nomun remained defiant. The youths spoke of the grand new technologies the Thunderlords brought with them from the west and ideas of personal freedom unburdened by tradition and filial piety, they spoke of joining the Thunderlords and other youths in bringing down the old and ushering in the new.

With Chayan and Otis’s help, the children were eventually subdued with intimidating words and agreed to return home, abandoning their task of keeping the adults away.

The Chamber of the Defaced Altar

After a short rest, the heroes pressed on, finding a circular chamber filled with exhausted youths in black robes and white face paint, strewn with food and offerings. Atop a central pedestal stood a defaced and broken altar, guarded by a group of musicians dressed in black garb, white face paint, and spiked accessories.

Twing Twang was mistaken for a fan and given black robes and face paint, but Chayan denounced the musicians’ music. Enraged, the evil musicians leapt into battle, filling the air with metal music. The heroes triumphed, leaving only the drummer Mongun alive and convincing him to surrender.

Convincing the restless and confused youths that witnessed the battle that the party was over, the crowd slowly shuffled back home to their families.

The Great Northeastern Plains Silenced

The triumph over the Thunderlords was short-lived. Cheers echoed through Tsagan Bey’s yurt, the warmth of victory battling against the biting chill that had settled on the Great Northeastern Plains. Yet, as Mongun, the sole survivor of the insidious band of musicians, knelt before the stoic chieftain, a shadow flickered across Tsagan Bey’s weathered face.

Mongun, his bravado shattered by defeat, spoke of Erden, the one with the cunning mind. Erden, he revealed, had taken a piece of important information – the secrets of animating the dead – to the grave.

But the true blow came with Mongun’s next words. He confessed their treachery, fueled not by personal ambition, but by a hefty coin purse courtesy of the Snowlock government. Their aim? To incite discord within the Plains, to sow discontent and rebellion amongst the people, ultimately weakening the grip of the mighty Oyut Khan.

A heavy silence descended upon the yurt. The weight of this attack settled like a leaden cloak on the gathered warriors. News of Snowlock’s treachery would soon find its way to the Khan’s ear, a poisoned arrow aimed at the fragile trust between the Plains and the outside world.

When the news finally reached the Khan’s grand tent, a tremor of fury shook the very foundations of his power. The once-open plains, a tapestry woven with trade and cultural exchange, slammed shut. Borders hardened, suspicion hardened hearts. The once-welcoming smile of Tsagan Bey, a beacon of openness in a harsh land, would forever be replaced with a guarded expression, a reminder of the bitter sting of betrayal. The echo of the Thunderlords’ defeat was drowned out by the deafening silence that descended upon the Plains, a silence that promised isolation and a deepening mistrust that would linger for generations to come.

Yet at the same time, the events had also changed our Warrior-Storytellers with new ideas as the winds of change and the echoes of thundering music  could be heard among the future of the Plains peoples.

The Heroes

Twing Twang : A nervous crow-like Coralaxi Creation Bard and Fighter with confidence issues, son of the mighty Jeng Jeng.

S.O.L.A : A Coretex designated as a Solo Orchestral Learning Automaton that was built as a Creation Bard and Artificer to pass down stories to the next generation with his recorder.

Otis Hu : A burly owl-like Coralaxi Ancestral Guardian Barbarian and Bard who punches as hard as he can throat sing.

Chayan : A Human Swords Bard and Warlock with a love for cowbells. He ran away from home as a youth, but repented and returned home.

Wingman : A slow speaking Coralaxi Lore Bard that supports his team from the sidelines.

Altan Ger Clan

Tsagan Bey : The middle aged dwarven chieftain of Altan Ger, with a stout and lean body, and dressed in a modest grey deel. His black hair is shaved at the top as per tradition and the rest tied into loops around his ears. His long flowing black beard is left untied as it falls as far as his belly.

Naran : Young dwarven herder, stout and pudgy, dressed in brown and tan furs with a woolen cap. Long flowing black hair and short beard. He has a dispute with his brother over his grandfather’s inheritance, of which he received nothing but a magical dagger.

Madam Sarnai : Middle aged Coralaxi housewife, appearance of a terrestrial hen with white feathers, dressed in red silk deel. Her children Bilgee and Altan had gone missing alongside the children of other mothers.

Madam Enshimei : The dwarven mother of Delger and Nomin, whose children have also gone missing.

Bilgee : Young and obedient Coralaxi trained in spearfighting, he ran to join the Thunderlords because he thought they were cool.

Altan : Young and timid Coralaxi trained in the bow, she followed her brother in joining the Thunderlords.

Delger : A disrespectful and confrontational Dwarven teenager, he hates the stifling and conformative culture of his people.

Nomun : The equally hard headed sister of Delger who joined the Thunderlords to rebel against society.

The Thunderlords

Sukhbat, Tingris & Mujin : The popular singer, bassist and lead guitarist respectively. Were killed by our heroes in a final confrontation.

Mongun : The Thunderlords’ drummer who surrendered as the last man standing and divulge the reason they were here. Eventually sent to face judgement by Tsagan Bey.

Erden : The rhythm guitarist and brains behind the group responsible for raising the ancestral dead. He was killed by the heroes in a final fight.

Other Concepts

    • Ancestral Crypt – Crypt within the Pillar of Heaven Mountain, reserved only for people of noble blood and high ranking individuals.
    • Warrior-Storytellers – A highly respected position responsible for passing down the traditions and legends of a clan’s people to the next generation and defending their legacy with blade and grace.
    • Pillar of Heaven Mountain – Small mountain to the east of Tsagan Bey’s village.
    • Silver Fish Stream – Tributary river just to the north of Tsagan Bey’s village.
    • Blue Pine Forest – Beyond the Silver Fish Stream, people are warned never to enter because of how dangerous it is.
    • Sky Burials – Commoners who pass are usually brought to the mountains and offered to Tengri the sky god, who sends eagles and vultures to accept the offering. Because the land is rocky and cold, making burials difficult, and trees for firewood is scarce.
    • Hospitality – Hospitality is very important and one cannot refuse to shelter or feed travelers.
    • Ovoos – A cairn often found in the wilderness that is treated with respect and where offerings like sweets are placed to have a safe journey.
    • Yikla – A goat like herbivore with a single horn that blossoms into an umbrella shape to protect their heads. Often kept for its milk and meat.
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