Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #24: Gushkin the Hermit

Two hexes northeast, one southeast of Alakran.


Back when people used to live around here, some of them knew of an eccentric, the Old Man of the River Crossing. The hooded, white-bearded hermit could be seen from the ancient diorite bridge that carried Nama'a the Road of Flowers over the Shi-Ar -- pottering around the river at dusk, dawn, or in the maddening hours of the high summer day. Some saw him disappear from sight like the far reflections that shimmer in the air above the furnace sands. Others saw him talking to the birds. If any had dealings with him, nobody wished it to be known.

Even after disaster and invasion, the Old Man remains in his usual haunts and ways. Gnolls and Khilan lizard-raiders have tried at times to slay him or shake him down for treasure, but he always gets away, though not in ways the proud like to repeat. Sometimes he disappears as if he was never there. Other times he turns into a goldfinch, and though the archers may swear they hit the target as it flew away, their arrows never fell it. 

The hermit has no time for ruffians, but allows heroes to approach. He gives his name as Gushkin, and is a kindly soul, fond of animals. He hears and tells news about the enemies and defenders of the land. What's more, he gives wise advice about the likely success of enterprises aimed at the liberation of Dulsharna from the yoke of Chaos. He has the power to speak in the mind of those he trusts from afar.

Who is, or was, Gushkin? That was not revealed until the very last session of the Game of Bronze, so I will hold that knowledge for some time here. It can be seen, however, that he possesses great power, but has his reasons not to use it directly in the struggle for the land. His dwelling, if he has one, has never been found.

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