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1: Civin’s thunder


Risgan was favourably affected by the tale of treasure spoken by the magician, Phon, a friend and new crony of young Moeze. He put himself to thinking. The loss of the reward for the isk-rider’s capture had put certain financial stresses on their ensemble’s future: the merchants of Bazuur were struggling to recover their business from the erstwhile destructions of the isk marauder and his mutant, ravenish isk horde. Clientele was dwindling after the terror so long in their midst. Withal, the relic-hunters had sold most of their wares, to cover their costs of carrier-balloons, shop-space, and the daily rent levied by the merchant guild for the privilege of displaying in the Bazuurian pavilions. Risgan felt pained to have traded off his teratyx steed, Aerwiler, which had helped him win the duel against his enemy Melfrum . . . but nothing was to be done.

Risgan sensed there were priceless relics to be had in this region of the Zanthian steppes, lonely and haunted according to legend. He had speedily researched the history of the purported legend of which Phon spoke, lingering long in the local museum-library in the old Romasque quarter at night: information confirmed by a regional geographer who had apparently visited the area many years ago. “’Tis a dry land of sarsens and sagebrush, peopled by nomads and isks,” he said, “but sombrely bewitching all the same. The ruins of Lim-Lalyn are stark. You, pilgrim, will find the site at the base of the Majabi hills, heralded by pillars and fangs of carved stone, once obelisks and menhirs of the rulers of Ming and Mang.”

The proclamation impressed Risgan. He assembled a team of pack-beasts to accompany his troupe—five men—for the journey would take at least a fortnight there and back.

From the local stable and outpost at Bazuur, the retriever hired two didors and five stout where-backs and three packbeasts of medium stature. As necessary adjuncts in their ambitious trek across the steppes north and west, he ordered three large bladder-drums of water, two durable tents, tarps and a brazier for outdoor camping.

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