Maruc looked kindly at the bound warrior, “Nevertheless, Traldar, in order to resolve the situation we must seek the ‘Knowledge of the Elders’ to discover what truths they wish to hand down to us. You and your people must transcend your grief’s for only that way lies peace. I think the Hutaaka are unlikely to be in a position to subjugate you now.” Maruc glanced about the stricken landscape. “You make too strong a point. However, a wise man does not cast slurs in his arguments. It lessens the impact of what he says, and lights his as a fool in men’s thoughts.”
“Come, let us take these ambassadors. Traldar, the Hutaakan says they are a peaceful race let us see the truth of their words.” Maruc awaited their guide to lead on.
Stephan finished making sure none of the Hutaakan woke up near any of the Traldar and then readied himself to leave. He kept a wary eye on all the humanoids as they began to stir awake but thankfully the party with ambassadors was at some distance by then.
“The Traldar does seem pretty crude and unrefined, Maruc. But give the man his slurs after having just been attacked by a spear-wielding, spell-casting clan of jackal heads. Seems to me that this undead plague may be the common enemy that brings peace between the Traldar and Hutaakan. We can’t get to the temple soon enough.”
Ludo sullenly helped Stephan tie up the remanider of the Tralder. He said to Stephan, “no good will come of this, these Hutakkans do not speak the whole truth, there is more to their story than meets the eye, be on your guard for treachery. The Traldar do not have the faith and power to release and control Undead, but I believe that the Hutakkans do. They may be unrefined, but I think they speak the truth.”
Ludo crouched beside one of the Traldar. “A knife will be placed 20 feet yonder, you can use that to release yourselves when we have gone. Make your way back to your village, go in peace.”
Feldard was glad to be on the move again to some defined place. The aimless wandering of the day before had seem unproductive to the dour dwarf.
Feldard could see by their wary looks that Stephan and Ludo were of the mind that the Hutakaans were the source of treachery in these lands. Feldard own thoughts were that both sides were lying and looking after their own interests. It was only to be expected really, but if asked right now which the dwarf felt more kinship to – it would have to be the Hutakaan.
Feldard followed behind the group, wondering if his own prejudice was blinding him in the same way he suspected that Ludo and Stephen’s were blinding them. Only time would tell. Hopefully they would reach the Temple before dinner. Feldard was hungry, and had a real craving for a good meal and good drink.
Hasan said nothing, but Maruc and Ludo could not fail to notice the elf fall into line next to the Hutakaa, smiling warmly as he did.
“I am Jasiteq,” said the leader of their Hutaakan guides. ”We shall take you to Byxata. It is the last of our great cities. We shall be there before nightfall.”
The party reached Byxata. It had obviously once been a magnificent and opulent town, but was now in ruins and crumbling badly. A stone wall provided some fortification against attack. Some two dozen Hutaakan guards maintained watch on the the ramparts.
Insid the ston walls were approximately 20 buildings, mostly single stories. The outlay had been no doubt designed by the cultured Hutaakans, whereas the brutish Traldar had been employed to carry out the physical labour required to construct the many monuments and buildings. Undoubtedly much blood, sweat and tears had gone into the construction of towns such as this and others. Had the direction and learning offered by the Hutaakans been a reasonable price for the exploitation of the Traldar people?
The party was led through the town streets to the steps of a large shrine, one of few remaining Hutaakan temples, dedicated to their Immortal patron. Miklos recognized the holy symbols adorning the facades as of the Immortal Pflarr. Pflarr was an obscure immortal, with scant information available in any of the tomes Miklos had ever poured over. Now, before them in the town center was a giant statue of what could only be their sacred deity. With the head of a beast, they now saw that Pflarr and the Hutaakans were of the same race.
Jasiteq turned to the group. “Allow me to fetch the priestess. I shall return shortly.”
While they waited outside, there was time to study the frescoes, carvings and sculptures that depicted the story of the Immortal Pflarr. From what they could see, Pflarr was not born but created in ancient times by magical forces, the artwork did not get more specific on the nature of the magicks. Pflarr was depicted as the ruler of some ancient kingdom, there were renderings of pyramids, war turning to peace and the creation of magical artifacts. Finally, it appeared that Pflarr created the Hutaakans in his own image, to be his faithful servants.
From the temple emerged a group of Hutaakan priests, led by a tall, silver-furred female, dressed in pure white robes. She wore a glorious jewelled medallion around her neck, a giant holy symbol.
“Welcome to the Valley of Hutaaka. I am Kforedz, High Priestess of Hutaaka.” She spoke with a haughty, yet tactful tone. “As you have seen, our lands have been overrun by undead, released by the reckless actions of the evil barbarian race known as the Traldar. Jasiteq has informed me that you have travelled here from the outlands, with the means to help us bring the dead to rest.”
One of her aids brought forth a smooth stick, about 3 feet in length, with arcane symbols carved upon it.
“This runestick was bestowed upon us by an elf many ages ago. Only it may open the Vault of the Elders, and therein lies a tome containing the knowledge we require to perform a sacred ritual which may banish the evil that has animated the dead and turned our ancestors against us.”