The Endless Sands
Tarnum left the lush underground tunnels of the World Tree not knowing where his search for Vorr would take him. Like a divining rod drawn to water, he felt an unexplainable force pulling him to the northeast across an inhospitable desert.
Tarnum must cross an inhospitable desert, but he has a new enemy. He must defeat the Inferno town without dying himself. All Heroes are limited to level six, and all of Tarnum's experience, spells, skills, and artifacts will carry over to the next map.
|Day 1 - day 1|
|The World Tree is safe now that the Necromancers have been defeated, and this Barbarian tribe who used to worship Vorr has sworn to protect it with their lives. I admire them, forever giving up the warmth and light of the upper world to protect something that most people don't even know exists.|
There is still honor in our Barbarian hearts, which assures me that I still might be able to repair the damage I caused.
Once again, I must leave a place and people I have grown to love. I wish I could remain among these Barbarians, but Vorr still lives and the Ancestors are still strangely silent. I call upon them nightly, but there is no answer. Sometimes, I imagine I can hear a distant cry of pain. There's no way to know if it's real though.
My only chance is to find Vorr. He fled this world when I defeated the Necromancers, and I have a hunch that if I find him I will also discover the Ancestors.
|Day 4 - day 4|
|There must be a way to the surface. There is evidence that I'm getting closer - roots protruding from the ceiling, dead tunnels too far from the life-giving influence of the World Tree, and I swear it's warmer here.|
I've brought along some of the Barbarians to help me on this quest. I can't face Vorr alone. In fact, I'm not sure I have the power to defeat an Ancestor, especially a mad one like Vorr.
Is it even possible to kill an Ancestor?
|Day 9 - day 9|
|I woke this morning sick for the first time in centuries. I rushed from my tent, dropped to my knees, and heaved for nearly an hour. Even now, I can barely sit in the saddle. Sweat rolls down my face as if the rain fell on me alone. And I can feel the heat emanating from my skin.|
How can this be?
Then it occurred to me that perhaps I am somehow linked to the Ancestors. Perhaps my immortality comes from them, as if I were part of them. If so, then what would happen if Vorr managed to destroy the other Ancestors? Would I die, or become mortal once again?
Either way, it doesn't frighten me. It is, however, what I have been fighting for all these years - to become normal once again.
But then I began to wonder what else would change by the death of the Ancestors. They are our spiritual guides. They are like a lighthouse for the Barbarian people.
Without them, would we smash against the rocks of fate?.
|Day 12 - day 12|
|At least my illness has seemed to pass, although I am much weaker now. I still don't know if this sudden outburst is somehow linked with the suffering of the Ancestors. I would speak with the shaman about this, except I don't want to have to explain how I became the Immortal Hero. It's better that he never know.|
|Day 19 - day 19|
|I proposed a question to my wisest shaman, Wern, this morning.|
"I sensed that Vorr fled to the northeast, but I no longer sense him. Where could he have gone?" I asked.
The wise man was silent for some time, and then said, "What d'you bring me?"
It was Wern's way. In fact, the way of all shaman. Since shaman didn't till their own fields, or raise their own sheep, they lived solely from the generosity of those who sought their wisdom. I reached into a sack on my hip, removed a ceramic bottle, and pulled the stopper out with my teeth.
"Try it," I said.
Wern took a cautious sip. His eyebrows perked up as he recognized the strong spirits within, then he took a long swallow.
"I'll think on this matter, Tarnum," Wern said. He took another swallow. Already, his cheeks became flushed.
"Come back another time," he said.
|Day 22 - day 22|
|"What d'you bring me?" Wern, the shaman, asked when I entered the tent.|
"I already brought you something. A bottle? Three days ago?"
But there was no recognition in the shaman's expression. Sighing, I left briefly and returned with a keg of ale from my own tent.
"Oh, good! Now, return in a few days and let me meditate on..."
Wern never finished his sentence because my hand closed around his scrawny throat.
"No, you'll answer me now, old man!" I said.
When I let go, Wern was more cooperative. Wern's been known to keep people waiting for an answer for months. If I hadn't shown the shaman I was serious, I would never learn anything.
"Ah, yes, you wanted to know where the Mad Ancestor could've gone. I tried to talk to the spirits, but they are quiet. Strange. It worries me!"
"Yes, I know that already, but where could Vorr have gone?"
"Without the guidance of the Ancestors, I can not say," Wern said.
In truth, none of us are whole without the Ancestors.
"Thank you," I said, standing. Before I left, I added, "Keep trying, will you?"
Quietly, Wern said, "Of course."
|Day 26 - day 26|
|Last night, the camp was attacked by a swarm of Imps. They flew among the men, scratching them and running off the horses. They tore down the tents and pitched burning brands on them while my men were still inside. Thankfully, no one was killed during that chaos, although there were many injuries.|
When it was all over, however, I learned the true nature of their attack. The little creatures managed to snatch some of our supplies.
|Day 31 - day 31|
|We spent most of the morning searching for some missing Goblins. They went out last night to collect firewood and no one realized until now that they never came back. Unfortunately, we discovered them staked to anthills, long dead.|
It was obviously the work of one of those twisted Demons - I recognize their battle tactics. They like to strike fear in their opponents before they attack. Men don't fight as well when they fear their opponent, and my men fear these Demons now.
|Day 36 - day 36|
|Today, one of my scouts discovered the secret camp of the Demons who killed my Goblins. If I was ever going to defeat these creatures, I had to prove to my men that they weren't worthy of their fear.|
So, I took four men with me to the Demon camp. While they watched from the bushes, I approached the Demons alone. I faced Imps, and Gogs, and a single Demon alone. If I hadn't caught them by surprise, I would've been killed. Instead, I swept through them like an angry storm.
First, I took out the Gogs, then the Demon leader. Most of the Imps ran. Unfortunately, they ran directly into my men, who joined the fray to finish the last of the creatures.
Picking up one of the Imps, I said, "This is what you've been afraid of! Now, go back and tell the others - our enemy is weak!".
|2, 34, 0||It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the glaring light of day, something you haven't seen in months. The air is hot and arid, and the sun stings your skin. It feels good.|
|4, 21, 0||"Ambush!" you shout as dozens of arrows fly from the rocks above.|
Your men take cover as a second volley falls. Then you order your men up the hill.
"Ferret out those cowards!" you command.
But your men return an hour later without a sign of the bandits.
Later, you realize the arrows weren't meant for your men, but their water skins. Half your water is gone!
|7, 23, 1||You see an Orc woodsman and his son on the path ahead, huge bundles of wood across their shoulders. When they see you, they bow their heads slightly.|
The father says, "No need goin' that way. It's blocked."
"Blocked? How?" you say.
"Cave in - months ago. Strangest thing though. Those were some mighty strong tunnels before."
"Is there any other way to the surface?" you ask.
"Yeah, I hear those spellcasting Necromancers put in a Monolith of some sort down here - might still be working," the Orc says.
You thank him, letting the Orc and his son return to their work.
|8, 33, 1||Light streams into the cavern from the mouth of a distant cave. Finally, you've found the way to the surface! But you fail to notice the black-clad men lurking in the shadows. They leap out among your men and attack.|
|23, 8, 0||The land ahead rises slightly, bulging like a black sore on the surface of the desert. The sand is charred, and in the distance thick smoke rises from an active volcano.|
You get the impression that this scorched land hasn't always been here. In fact, it might be quite new.
|13, 19, 1||Stronghold|
|29, 5, 0||Inferno|
|13, 20, 1||Tarnum the Barbarian|
|29, 6, 0||Rashka the Demoniac|
|3, 30, 1||Demon||You hear the clanking of metal tools on rock and cautiously approach, finding several Demons working on the cavern ahead. They appear to be attempting to bring the ceiling down in an effort to trap you forever in this subterranean land.|
When they spot you, they drop their tools and attack.
|8, 25, 0||Hell Hound||The howls echoing off the cliffs sounds like a hundred thousand wolves surround you. You form your men in a circle, prepared to meet your threat. Finally, you spot them - a horde of giant black dogs sprint toward you, smoke trailing from their nostrils.|
"Hell Hounds," you mutter, tightening your grip on your sword.
|13, 23, 0||Goblin||This pack of Goblins claims they were once part of your army. They have been lost in the tunnels all this time and would like to rejoin your forces.|
|31, 26, 0||Cerberus||Someone has chained a pack of Cerberus to the rocks in this area. Their leashes are long enough for them to hunt and attack you, but short enough to keep them guarding the Border Guard at their backs.|
|32, 15, 0||Magog||There are several yellow spots of light in the distance like many campfires. What is this? An army?|
Gritting your teeth, you march forward to meet your fate. Instead, you discover lots of Magogs waiting for you, prepared to do battle to the death.
|33, 29, 0||Rogue||"Oo-tee-dee!" the hooded bandits shout as they spring from the rocks.|
You can't see their faces, but their murderous eyes gleam from within the darkness of their cloaks.
|4, 0, 0||Ogre's Club of Havoc||The bones of countless unfortunate souls litter the sand in this area. These are the remains of the foolish adventurers who thought they could take the Ogre's Club of Havoc from the three Behemoths who guard it. Your skull would be a good addition to this mess. Do you want to attack?|
|13, 16, 1||Targ of the Rampaging Ogre||A pack of Ogre Magi stand in a circle ahead with a shield dangling over a large bonfire. You guess by their chanting that they still worship Vorr the Insane. Do you want to attack them and rescue the magical shield they are about to destroy in Vorr's name?|
|22, 32, 0||Equestrian's Gloves||The bones of a traveler and his horse are strewn on the sand. Strangely, the only thing on the corpse that hasn't rotted away in the hot sun is a pair of riding gloves still covering the skeletal hands.|