The thief Yan-mei fled her homeland of Khitai, thus beginning her journey into the western lands. While traversing the steppes of Turan she enlisted as a mercenary scout in service to General Mahath Agha, the feared and respected Hawk of Aghrapur. For the last several months, Turanian outposts along northeastern Shem have suffered numerous raids by a group of Zuagir rebels. General Mahath has been commanded by King Yezdigerd to stamp out the rebellion. It is in search of Bahim Baal and his band of insurgents that this adventure begins…
For days now you have traveled through the harsh deserts and steppes of the Turanian-Shemite border. Nobody ever said that serving as a scout for the Turanian army was going to be a nice ride, nor did you have any illusions about finding the hidden Zuagir rebels quickly, much less in their own territory. However, it has indeed been a difficult journey, wearily trudging these barren lands where no shade falls, no food grows and none of you are welcome. Oh yes, Turan may hold the rule here, but it does not hold the people’s loyalty. Then again, that is precisely the reason why you are here, is it not? That is the job that brought you to the deserts of Shem, two silver pieces a week plus meals – to help the Turanian army find the Zuagir insurgents and stamp out their rebellion. No indeed, nobody said this was going to be a nice ride.
Your ponderings are interrupted by the sudden blare of war horns and the yells of mercenary officers.
-The Zuagirs! The Zuagirs!
_-Alarum! Alarum! -Battle stations, dogs!! Time to earn your daily meals!_
-There they are! Onward!! For King Yezdigerd!!
-Come on, march ahead!! Faster, curse you!! Faster!!
-In formation, sons of camels!
-Charge!! Tarim smite you, chaaaaaarge!!!
As you scramble to obey at least some of the orders, you see the Turanian company commander, Mahath Agha, fiercely charging the desert nomads with his personal guard. You do not know what awes you most in this man – his courage or his arrogance. You have no time to decide, however, as everyone in the company must immediately follow the Agha to battle with the Zuagirs.
Yan-mei springs into action, annoyed by the lumbering mad rush of the troops around her. As the battle begins, she breaks formation and takes up position on a nearby rocky outcropping in order to better see what was going on. It was obvious to her that this was not the main Zuagir force, more than likely only an advance expeditionary force. Readying her bow, she begins firing her violet fletched arrows (it’s a point of vanity for her considering the cost of indigo dyes) into the rebel forces. The first shot catches a fleeing insurgent between the shoulder blades, dropping him. Knowing they are outnumbered and outclassed, the Zuagir quickly organize a fighting retreat. The skirmish is brief, with Yan-mei picking off Zuagir as she can with her bow.
The battle ends quickly, and the Turanians return to camp with a badly wounded rebel who has two purple fletched arrows protruding from him. Interested in seeing what is being done with “her” quarry, she follows the soldiers as they drag the barely conscious insurgent in front of General Mahath.
The Hawk of Aghrapur interrogates the Zuagir and the defiant Shemite eventually reveals the location of the secret hideout of the dessert rabble.
Yan-mei is chosen by General Mahath to “volunteer” as an advanced scout for his forces as they march upon the hideout of Bahim Baal and the insurgents. She is given orders not to engage the enemy under any circumstances, she is to scout for any traps or ambushes and report back to him should anything be amiss. Given a map to the stronghold, Yanmei begins her mission.
The trip across the desert is uneventful but as she draws nearer to the Kezankian Mountains the thief has an ever increasing feeling of disquiet. The ruins reportedly being used by the Zuagir soon come into sight and Yan-mei’s inexplicable feeling of dread increases even further. Suddenly the shrill scream of a woman echoes off the cliff walls and the thief spots a naked Shemite woman running frantically across the desert away from the ruins. Behind her, a hulking humanoid figure gives chase. As the pursuit continues across the desert sands, Yan-mei takes cover among a section of rocky terrain. She observes that the woman’s pursuer is akin to the apes of her homeland but more human in appearance; it is even wearing the garb of a desert nomad and carrying a wickedly curved knife. The man-ape caught up with the fleeing woman and with a mighty slam of its fist, knocks her to the ground.
Yan-mei merely observes the scene; the woman is a Shemite and likely supportive of the insurgency. Also, she was ordered by the General not to engage the enemy, only to observe and report and if man-apes involved, General Mahath would definitely want to know about it. She then watches as the woman feints and the man-ape slings her over his shoulder and returns to the ruins.
Deciding to scout the ruins more before reporting to the General she makes a number of hide and move silent checks as she does some preliminary scouting about the place. She notes multiple man-apes around the ruins, perhaps a dozen or so, this is definitely not the rebel hideout. While sneaking past one building, she hears a whispered Shemitish voice coming through a crack in a wall. Speaking with the stranger, he assumes she was sent by Bahim Baal to rescue them, she discovers the man-apes have taken many Shemites from the surrounding area as prisoner. Most importantly however, she discovers that the woman she saw fleeing from the ruins was none other than Bahim Baal’s sister.
Yanmei quickly retreats from the ruins and moves to inform General Mahath of her discovery. Doubling back to the marching company goes quickly and she informs them that their enemy’s sister is being held captive at the ruins and would likely prove to be a useful hostage in stopping the insurgency. The general agrees and the company begins a forced march upon the ruins.
Upon their arrival, the Taranians easily dispatch the man-apes who are present and a building to building sweep is begun as they gather up all of the Shemite prisoners. Yan-mei finds a small building with a massive stone block placed over the entrance. Upon the block she notes many inscriptions which she recognizes as sorcerous. After further investigation of the symbols, she determines that they are some sort of warding magic.
Cautious but curious she enlists the aid of a couple other mercenaries. Fastening ropes to the block they manage to pull it down. Drawing her pair of Ghanata knives, Yan-mei carefully enters the building. Inside she sees a shackled man who has obviously been subjected to severe abuse, from the looks of him, for quite some time. As she enters he is whispering something over and over.
“Ravu…Ravu….Ravu of Yezud….. Ravu…Ravu….Ravu of Yezud…..”
She is eventually able to get the man to respond to her, and after a few attempts at communication they seemed to both share knowledge of the language of the Shemites. Questioning him, she discovers Ravu is his name and that he is a Zamoran scholar. Three years ago he had left his home intent on capturing and training a man-ape, but first he had developed a ritual with the intent to heighten the man-ape’s intelligence, “to give it a will so it can be subjugated.” He, with the aid of some borderers, managed to capture a man-ape and take it to a site near Dagoth Hill in order to enact the rite which would increase the beast’s intellect. During the rite though something went horribly wrong, the man-ape gained an unbelievable intellect and most of Ravu’s hirelings were slain. His man-ape creation abducted him and tortured him daily, forcing the scholar to teach it sorcery. The beast now had gathered others of its kind, teaching the rudimentary knowledge of wielding tools and weapons. It has been raiding the local villages, taking captive and Ravu is not sure what the beast has planned. Yan-mei directs the mercenaries to place him with the other prisoners and reports to one of the officers what she has learned.
While she explains to the officer the story she was told by the Zamoran sorcerer, the thundering gallop of horse hooves is heard and a large band of Zuagir riders is spotted quickly approaching the ruins. The Turanians quickly take up defensive positions within the ruins.
Bahim Baal himself rides with the Zuagir and demands the release of the Shemite prisoners. The Zuagir leader and General Mahath trade barbs momentarily before the situation devolves into chaos as both forces clash in battle.
Yanmei sprints to a favorable vantage point, quickly launching an arrow at the Zuagir leader and striking him in the shoulder. Zuagir archers spot her and return fire as the battle rages on. Unwilling to let her opportunity go she darts amongst the ruins seeking cover but keeps her eye on the prize. Another opening presents itself and she lets loose another arrow, this time striking Bahim Baal with a mighty shot to his gut. As the rebel leader doubles over in pain his men quickly shield him with their bodies and rapidly move to exit the battle field with the prince.
With her window of opportunity now closed, she focuses on the nearing riders and seeks a more defensible location, lending her arrows to the fight. The Zuagir are badly outnumbered but they fight ferociously in an attempt to free their brethren held captive.
Suddenly a bloodcurdling howl cuts through the air causing both the Zuagir and the Turanians to halt in their tracks. Along the cliff tops at the edge of the ruins they see a bestial force of man-apes, clothed and armed as humans. With a rage-filled roar the creatures descend upon the fighting humans, attacking with untold savagery. Facing a common enemy, the Zuagir and Turanian forces now band together against this new threat.
The sheer hate and ferocity of the man-apes allows them to smash through their human opponents even though the beasts are outnumbered. To make matters worse, an unnatural dust storm rises and the sorcery wielding Man-Ape appears on the cliffs overlooking the battle, using its magic to fling large chunks of rock down upon the humans below. Many of the Turanian soldiers are worshippers of the ape god Hanuman and break morale due to religious awe and fear.
Yanmei drops under cover, trying to formulate a plan to get out of the area alive. Looking around she makes a run for it, hoping to escape the ruins unseen and unscathed. Skulking through the melee she witnesses General Mahath engaged in melee against two particularly savage man-apes, the Hawk of Aghrapur is hard pressed by the beasts. Dodging a blow from a man-ape that is suddenly upon her, Yan-mei scrambles atop a building as a Zuagir rider charges the creature.
Surveying the scene, it is obvious that the battle is not going in favor of the humans. Unwilling to let General Mahath fall (actually, thinking of the rewards she could receive for saving someone of his status) begins firing arrows into the man-apes locked in combat with him. Mahath may be hard pressed but he fights with the heart of a tiger and when the man-apes facing him roar in pain due to the bite of several arrows, the general presses his advantage. He is badly injured in the melee, but with Yan-mei’s aid he survived his scrape with death.
As the general attempts to rally his troops, Yanmei continues to give him cover with her bow and is scanning the area for an escape route both she and the general could use. Below her the Zuagir rider is messily knocked form his horse and set upon by a brutal man-ape. Over the din of the battle she hears a voice shouting, “Khitan! Khitan! Where are you?”
Looking around, Yan-mei spots the Zamoran sorcerer Ravu shouting for her and weaving his way through the battle. Cursing she jumps onto a vacated horse and spurs it into action, wondering what the Zamoran had in mind. Directing the mount across the field of battle she weaves around man-apes and tramples and Zuagir unfortunate enough to get in her way, leaning low in the saddle she extends her arm to the sorcerer in an attempt to snatch him up. He grabs onto her arm, swinging himself into the saddle behind her.
Yan-mei thunders across the ruins, slashing at the man-apes as she goes. Ravu informs her that the ritual he enacted upon the ape master is fueled by his own soul. Should he die, the ape master will lose his power.
“Don’t tempt me wizard,” is Yan-mei’s response.
He explains to her that he wants her to kill him in order to end the abomination that he unwittingly unleashed into the world.
Finding a section of the ruins where the combat wasn’t raging wildly around them they dismount and she asks him if this is indeed what he wants. It takes him a moment but he reassures her that he did indeed want to go through with it. With a little hesitation Yan-mei plunges one of her Ghanata knives into the Zamoran’s heart and the effect of his death is immediate.
A savage howl of pain rends air and the ape man doubles over in pain as Ravu falls to the ground. With another savage howl the ape master tumbles forward, falling off of the cliff face, brutally bouncing of the side as it falls. Striking the ground below, its form lies unmoving and broken.
With their master dead, the remaining man-apes begin to panic and the humans take heart. Soon the tide of the battle changes with the Turanians winning the day. The Zuagir riders used the battle to free their kinfolk then fled back into the desert. In the aftermath of the battle, an injured General Mahath surveys what is left of his company. Upon reaching Yan-mei he notes the purple fletched arrows in her quiver and remembers seeing those same arrows peppering the two bests he fought so hardly against. The Hawk of Aghrapur offers her a position in his personal guard and an officer’s rank. After some consideration the Khitan thief accepts.
Despite their victory at the ruins, there is still much work to be done. Bahim Baal, while grievously wounded, is still alive and the Zuagir insurgency still needs to be put to rest.
Yan-mei received enough XP to place her at level 2 and gained 1 fate point.