Wednesday 31 May 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #151: The Gorge of Zi'iri

Eight hexes north, three northeast of Alakran.


The hills east of Shasari, dividing them from the valley province of Hana, are mainly desolate in these past years, the nomadic goatherds of those parts having been killed or driven off by Utik Bloody Tooth's band of ogres. Through these ridges with their sparse grass and thorny dells runs a gorge, 10-30 feet wide and 10-20 feet deep. And through this gorge runs a road, little grown-over but also seldom traveled, for it leads only to the upper reaches of the Hana river; the rest of the valley trades downstream. The canyon is known as the Gorge of Zi'iri by outsiders but as Haltara by the folk of Zi'iri itself.

At a turn midway through the gorge, low on a cliff face and easy to miss, is a curious set of scratchings. Locals and traders believe that once per lifetime, if a passer-by or group of them scratches a single word, sometimes continuing a sentence, then when the sentence is finished, it will metaphorically come true for all who contributed. Examples of completed sentences are:

Abundant bees to the humble, but wasps to the evildoer

When lions roar, surely in the village it is heard

The shoulders of the Happy bear no burden of the future

Overflowing Gold and Jewels To NIRNi

Lore has it that greedy wishes like the last one are granted especially metaphorically, so the "gold and jewels" might manifest as the "true gold and jewels of friendship" or worse yet, the "gold" of yellow discharge and "jewels" of red and black carbuncles.

The current unfinished sentence is

Multitudes of hanging

Add to it if you dare!



Tuesday 30 May 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #150: The Military Companies of Shasari

Nine hexes north, two northeast of Alakran.


We find the camp of the Third Company of the Shasari army an hour's easy chariot ride from the capital, poised to defend the southern lands. In theory, anyway. In practice, neither the Third nor the Sixth (whose camp near Anani we have passed over, distracted by the caprices and oddities of that famous town) are well placed to reach the frontier of the Arhappa in time to repel raids from the south. 

The order of battle of each of the six companies of the Shasari army is standard, though the First and Second, posted in the capital, are granted more capable fighters and equipment.

60 longspearmen, hide armor

20 longbow archers, unarmored

10 2-man 2-eland chariot teams (hide armor; 2 lancers/archers, one of which drives if in motion)

Three-man, four-eland chariots for captain and lieutenant, each scale-armored with driver and bowman.

The military preparedness of Shasari is not great. None of the towns are walled, fortresses are nonexistent except in the north (from long-ago civil strife with the province of Tarhun in that direction), and the Companies, while reasonably brave, are not numerous. The troops could be better armed but currently only the 1st has heavy spear and charioteers (scale armor). The other legions' armor was sold off to neighboring provinces during a debt crisis two generations ago. After all, Shasari does not abut any hostile state, and Dulsharna's government seemed peaceful and stable...

The Third's captain is the volatile and resentful Hashtayar, known as the Sunstroke, and his lieutenant is Tatileni, a man who follows orders but secretly sympathizes with Halpashulupi. The company's camp is organized around a well, which more and more in summer runs dry, so that oxen with barrels have to be sent to the river. They also have a detention pen for local criminals built of sharpened cedar stakes, known as the Red Roofless House for the color of the wood.