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Posted by on 1999 Jul 6 |

Where the Thunder Rams Dwell

(1 Arhat 398 SV: 14 of 19)

Dear Reader,

It has been a busy day for the hunt, and I have scouted ahead for what is to come.  The log today will be but a brief one upon the Thunder Rams that lope along the side paths of Neer’s Hummock.  I did travel a little farther afield by going down the path of Kweld Andu, and I will touch on that venture toward the end of this entry.

If one decides to travel around Neer’s Hummock instead of braving its slopes, you will come across a grassy, dead-end, path that is frequently used by the indigenous Thunder Rams in their day-to-day travels.  They are named for the booming echoes that occur during the mating season when the creatures butt together their curved horns in ceremonial display.  Of course, this sound is heard all-too-closely and personal when any passing interlopers to their territory feel the brunt of their charges.

ramThe biggest danger when facing these normally placid, but fiercely territorial, creatures is one’s footwork.  They are less of a threat than the Blood Wolves (which have learned to leave them well-enough alone, but may explain the Rams willingness to drive off intruders) but pose a real danger to anybody with a problem in balance.   The steep terrain has caused more than one hunter to actually slip and fall when trying to swing at them. The rams are quite sure-footed and their butting attacks can leave you spinning like a top.

With axe in hand, the encounter with the first Thunder Ram was very brief. I managed to carve it’s horn as a trophy and this I would give to a passing hunter.   As always I would caution those who have not hunted a creature before, to do so with at least one companion beside you.  Judging a critter’s abilities by hearsay is a sure way to find yourself upon your back counting the clouds.

A little before night fall, Damaria and I did some exploration along the next portion of the Quest.  From the top of Neer’s Hummock, where one would think it is unclimable, there is a route that is known as Kweld Andu. Literally this means Death Day, but Praise once mentioned that it better translates as “Moment of Death” or more perhaps “The Final Instant”.  These two descriptions are quite appropriate for the landscape along the trail does seem frozen at the moment of death.

The trail leads to a great gate which is graced with carvings that hint at the dark history of this foul place.  The figures that battle upon the stone carved frescos are of all races (I even spy now those which I had once taken as monsters: Prydean’s and Rakash in Moonform), and their fear-filled eyes are done to such realism that any who look cannot help but spare a shiver for their plight.  The gates lie open, but the darkness beyond prevents the curious from discerning what lays past this portal.

Perhaps I was being foolish, for I had heard of the protections necessary to enter the lands beyond the gate, but I tried to enter anyway without Cleric’s blessing.  No sooner had foot touched the threshold did an invisible hand press upon my chest and force me back.  The very gateway itself seemed to speak and uttered these words; “Beyond my guard is a vile darkness, a doom.  I will not let you go unprepared.  Seek protection brother.”  Damaria’s touch proved me unharmed by the experience, but I decided not to press the voice’s words to try the gate again.  It will wait until I have good companions, Ammara and Myrta I hope, to accompany within.

There is only one question I have that leaves me even now unsettled…Why did the voice name me brother?

Until next, Gentle Readers, I will set quill aside and make preparation to go beyond this gate.  Perhaps within we will find clue to the history of this dark region.