A note: It would be wise to read up on the information within the Children of Glass codex (Particularly the "Axtrami" and "Xactaki" submissions) before perusing this submission, to gather more of an idea of the particulars behind this story.
It was nay three generations since Barhaki dreamt the origins of the great lord Axtrami, and the following of Axtrami had risen in numbers at a phenomenal pace. Truly, it was as though the population of the desert had gone into a frenzy; already they had unlocked the secret of the precious Ouzquin - Axtramis gift to his children - and Temples made entirely of this material were being erected in nearly every settlement.
It was around this time when the tale of Aurali began.
Aurali was a devout believer of Axtrami and all he had to offer - in fact, he personally felt that none was as close to Axtrami in spirit as he. Throughout his childhood and adolescent years, Aurali rigorously studied all that the faith of Axtrami had to offer in the Ouzquin Dremorix society. Many a morning was spent in the temple of his local settlement of Hartaruz, listening attentively to the acolytes of the morning dew preach their rhetoric to the masses, and each evening was spent watching the glass-smiths experiment with the properties of glass.
Yes, the way Aurali was shaping up, he was certain to become a high-priest of Axtrami - and one of the greatest thus-far in the infant Ouzquin Dremorix society.
Fall From Grace
On his twenty fourth day-of-birth, Aurali felt a calling; a desire for pilgrimage to the great city of Bareka - the capital of his people. He had long heard of its extravagance and its occupants’ adoration for Axtrami; it was time to see it first hand.
Though distance was long and the road non-existent through the scorching sands, Aurali took no animal for riding, and only his staff and enough food and water he could comfortably carry. Using only his knowledge of the land and listening to the calling of Axtrami he traversed the great desert, and some months later found himself breaching the final great dune before the city of Bareka. A gasp escaped his mouth as he was struck with the splendour of this city.
Built around an ancient cliffs edge, the city was divided into two sections; The general populace had created their buildings at the base of the cliff, whereas the richer of the city - including those of the temple of Axtrami - had their expansive homes crafted atop the cliff. There were several methods of traversing from one section of the city to the other; A wide, crafted path inlaid with reinforced glass bricks was cut from the cliff wall, giving access up and down. Additionally, there were many large rope baskets, and natural caverns within the cliff itself which led between the lower and upper sections of Bareka. These caverns also served as the ‘slums’ of Bareka, where the poor and unscrupulous made home.
Truly it was an impressive sight, however in a lesser measure than the awe that Aurali felt, he also felt an odd pang of regret - It seemed that Barekas residents were obsessed with creating the most extravagant buildings; it was as though they were trying to outdo one another rather than utilize the gift of glass in a practical manner.
Even still, Aurali was amazed with the city - he had never seen such a huge amount of people in the one place. The young Ouzquin Dremorix began walking once more, and entered the city in the hopes of seeking out its temple.
It turned out the temple was not so difficult to find - on the main street of the upper-cliff area of the city stood an enormous spire of exquisitely crafted glass; the temple of Axtrami. Aurali entered the temple and spoke with the Acolytes within; telling them of his pilgrimage and requesting that he be able to stay within the temple in exchange for performing any menial tasks that were required. The Acolytes of course agreed, and stayed as a resident of the temple for nearly a year.
But it was not a year of enlightenment as Aurali had hoped; rather, he found that he already knew as much as anyone else about the great Axtrami, and throughout the year, he became ever more cynical about the vanity and pride which the priests held - they glorified the glass, and strove to further their knowledge of the material, however learning of Axtrami appeared to be secondary to them! A pool of contempt welled within Aurali, as he grew to understand the nature of the Acolytes - While they did truly believe in Axtrami, greed and power swayed their actions.
Finally, a day arrived in Bareka, where the high priest of the temple made an announcement in the city’s square. Much of the population had come - including Aurali - to see what he had to say.
"My friends! Today is a monumental occasion; in our reverence to Axtrami, god of storms, I present to you a symbol." The high priest raised his hand, and within it he held a most beautiful orb of the purest, most refined glass Aurali had ever seen. Inscribed on that orb was the image of a bolt of lightning erupting from storm clouds above. "This is an Ouzquin Hemisa! It is the ultimate symbol of our dedication to our life and to Axtramis might. From this day forth, every Ouzquin Dremorix shall obtain one of these and nurture it, for it represents your life. If you shatter this orb, you shatter your ties with our god and shall be seen as dead to us." The priest ceased his speech momentarily and walked through the crowd before finally pausing at Aurali. "I see it fitting that the first Ouzquin Hemisa shall go to you, Aurali; for you have been an example in dedication through this last year. Cherish this gift with your life."
The high priest passed the orb over and smiled smugly, fully convinced that this offering would make Aurali weep in joy. Indeed, Aurali was shaking - however his face showed not pleasure, but an infuriating rage. In the midst of the silent crowd, Aurali spoke venom to the high priest, "Cherish this…? You would have me believe that my place with Axtrami relies on me keeping a piece of glass safe!? You fool!" With this word, Aurali rose the hand which the orb was placed in and clenched. With some effort the first Ouzquin Hemisa was shattered within his palm - the jagged shards dug deeply into his flesh, causing rivulets of blood to trickle onto the steaming sand below. "You value the gift over the gift-bearer! You care more about your glass than your god! You sicken me." With this, Aurali turned and walked through the crowd, nudging his way past.
The stunned silence of the city was deafening - for some time the only thing that could be heard were Auralis footsteps shifting in the sand. Just as he had breached the edge of the crowd and begun walking to the city exit, The infuriated High priest - who was trembling in fury - Screeched, "Blasphemy!! KILL HIM!"
At these words the crowd - still swayed by the words of the high priest - screamed and grabbed whatever they could find; stones, pebbles and whatever trinkets they had. The mob mentality overwhelmed them as they flung any object they could at Aurali. The young Ouzquin Dremorix didn’t even see it coming, and the last thing he felt was a direct "Thunk" on the back of his head, and the feeling of his skull crushing in against his brain…
An eternity had passed. Aurali heard a noise, but the intense agony of his skull gave him no desire to open his eyes.
Against his own will, Aurali finally opened his eyes. He was still in Bareka; still in the same place as he was before he blacked out. But there was absolute silence.
Except for that sound of dripping… Aurali turned around to see an incredible sight; The citizens of Bareka were all behind him - and all frozen in time. Aurali noted the snarls of hatred on their faces - the High priest looked as though he were a starved Jakthra who had just woken up and was hungry for blood. *drip* And that noise… The Ouzquin Dremorix saw what it was - all the projectiles that were being flung at him and which were now frozen in mid-flight were slowly liquidating, and droplets of exquisite colour and reflection were pooling onto the sand below. Aurali stared in awe at the swirling liquid - such a beautiful explosion of blues, purples and greens. Kneeling, he dipped a finger into one of the pools - the liquid stuck to the tip of his finger and hardened into a glass-like material.
"Your people would call it Vultuin, Aurali."
Aurali lept at the sudden new voice - the words which sounded like a rumbling of stones… or the creaking of trees… or the crash of thunder. Turning, he saw a figure - the only other moving thing in this timeless world he was caught in. A cloaked man or woman - he was unsure - was standing before him. There appeared to be no features behind the hood however, excepting a glint of reflection where his two eyes should be. "A… am I dead?"
"Feel the back of your head - what do you think?"
Aurali touched the back of his neck and felt his way to the top of his head - he could feel bone, blood and brain matter in a collapsed shamble, threatening to ooze to the ground. "Ah. But who are you?"
"You know me, Aurali."
To this, Aurali had nothing to say - it was true though; he knew who this figure was before him. He wasn’t awed by this, nor did he feel privileged, or frightened; it was merely a fact to him - Axtrami, God of the Ouzquin Dremorix was standing before him.
"You are the first, you know? ... Of course you don’t. You are the first creature, in over twenty seven millennia, to summon me into existence."
"But I didn’t summon you…!"
"Ah, but you did! Through your belief and dedication to me, you brought me to you in this form." Axtrami swept his hands down to indicate his figure as though he were showing off clothes which he was wearing. "And so here I am. And there you are - with Jelly in place of the back of your head. You made a mess of things, did you not?"
Aurali sighed at this and peered back at the still form of the high priest before turning back to Axtramis form, "They are corrupt - they hold themselves in higher regard than you!"
"True. Yet they spread my name and ensure my survival. For this, I shall not fault them."
To this, Aurali frowned "Your survival? ... You are not a god, are you?"
The sound of laughter and thunder exploded around Aurali, and the figure before him shook his head, "Very observant. And only the smallest fraction of the truths I wish to impart to you. I have desire of someone to speak to - I have been silent for so very long. Would you walk through eternity with me, and share my knowledge?"
"Of course!" At these words, Axtrami laughed once more. A crash of lightning exploded around Aurali, and the young Ouzquin Dremorix shattered into oblivion.
Time started once more, and the high priest screeched his malice at the form of Aurali, and cheered as his form crumpled to the ground.
But the second Auralis lifeless head splattered onto the sand, a phenomenal crash of thunder was heard, and from the sunlit sky, a tremendous arc of lightning erupted over Auralis body, knocking the crowd and high priest onto their backs, blinding them and blotting out their hearing.
Eventually, the high priest stood, his vision slowly clearing. To his disbelief, he saw a figure standing in the small crater where the bolt of lightning hit - but this figure wasn’t human. Standing half the height again of a human, the creature boasted spires of a glass-like material swirling from around his shoulders and back in a spiny formation. It slouched somewhat, and its forearms were elongated enough that the knuckles of its wickedly clawed hands scraped across the ground. Amazingly, in place of skin and flesh, the horror boasted a glassy material which the high priest had heard legends of; Vultuin - opal. An exceptionally rare material which was made only through thousands of years of time, crystallization and pressure. Its impressive size towered over the folk of Bareka, but those who had regained their vision enough noticed that the back of the creatures head was caved in, and there was something oozing from it. A liquid form of what its body was made of, which slowly tricked down its spiny back and dripped to the ground. As each droplet settled in the sand, it solidified into perfect, miniature opals.
Finally, the high priest stared into the jagged creatures eyes - and saw his god peering back at him behind crystal orbs. The high priest began to shriek in agony, yet he could not peer away from the sight of those eyes. Slowly, his skin began to squirm as though his blood were boiling beneath it, and after some time he finally literally burst into a gooey mess of blood, collapsing to the ground.
With the voice of grinding boulders, Aurali - the beast - spoke. "Axtrami light his path." he Uttered, and then turned with a chuckle and lumbered slowly from Bareka - each footstep leaving an imprint of glass. The citizens of Bareka could do nothing but watch as Aurali the Vultuin Xactaki entered the barren desert, never to return.
Aurali, the opal revenant, now wanders the desert of Karikun. He never sleeps and never eats, only lumbering at his slow pace as though he has all the time in the world to muse over things - and effectively he does, as Axtrami has granted him never-ending life.
Aurali is effectively a conduit and confidant of Axtrami - The ‘god’ has shared with him all the knowledge he has picked up over his millennia of observation, and continues to speak with him regularly. Effectively, Aurali is a rather secluded and elusive oracle - which may hold the answer to most anything you may need; if he chooses to share it. And if he does, he will likely share it in a riddle-esque nature. Not because he has to, but because it amuses him.
When Aurali takes a step, the sand beneath his feet is temporarily seared into a jagged glass footprint. This footprint will remain for approximately one day before beginning to break down and returning back to sand. Anyone who finds the "Trek of the Vultuin Xactaki" will be in less than one days traveling distance from him. Additionally, Aurali continues to ooze the opalesque liquid from the back of his damaged skull - a precious opal can sometimes be found amongst the sand of the Karikun desert.
Aurali will never initiate an attack against anyone, but if for some foolish reason someone were to try to attack or ensnare him, they will soon find themselves in a most dire situation. Any metal which touches Aurali will liquefy; so a mace swung at him will splash away molten metal with no resistance and the person swinging it will become overbalanced and likely topple embarrassingly to the ground. Only ‘living’ objects such as wood may strike the opal revenant, and even they have a chance of bursting alight from the great concentrated heat which the beast produces. Any flesh which touches Aurali will burn like touching white-hot steel. Aurali boasts an incredibly high resistance to magical attacks, and its hardened form will take next to no damage from most attacks which are pitted against him. Only when Aurali feels he could be damaged will he fight back - using agility belying his size and awkward gait, he aims to impale assailants on his myriad of spines. furthermore, he can call upon great bolts of lightning to sear anyone around him, and discharge powerfully stunning electrical shocks to all those within a radius.
Additionally, Gazing into the eyes of Aurali will cause a persons blood to slowly increase in temperature until it literally begins to boil. This will take over a minute however, and all it takes to stop the process is looking away from them. Some have claimed to have been mesmerized by Auralis gaze, however, and find it difficult to peer away.
The story of Aurali varies greatly from town to town and person to person, however it is interesting to note that the Sect of the Shattered Orb - the outcast Ouzquin Dremorix - hold Aurali in high regard; and it is said that Aurali is somewhat fond of the outcasts, as well.
- Major quest: The great hunt
An insight is needed, and it is told that a ghoul within the desert knows the answer! The players must seek out the fabled Vultuin Xactaki. Their journey takes them through great glass cities, dried deserts, Sect of the Shattered Orb encampments, and a great ruined temple which once paid homage to a great god. They must face off against desert orcs, reclusive Cyclopes, Hibernating great cats, vicious mummies and terrifying undead beasts of half-obsidian. All to find the elusive Vultuin Xactaki and get the answer they require!
An expansive desert-themed quest using a multitude of submissions from the citadel!
- Side quest/intermission/small encounter
Whilst traveling through the desert, the adventurers come across a trail of glass footsteps trailing across the ground… now what could this be? They may choose to follow it, or continue on in their journey.
The adventurers spot a glittering on the horizon in the desert. When they get there they find nothing, but if they search they will find an opal half buried in the sand. Where did this come from…?