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Warriors of the Blue Eyeby Patrick Sullivan
Basically, this is a group of mercenaries based in and around Tyjaret, in the Yavdlom Outer Reaches. They are a diverse group with a mysterious sponsor, and they have never let an elf escape their grasp. Every member of the band has a blue tattoo shaped like an eye somewhere on his or her body.
The Warriors of the Blue Eye were founded nearly forty years ago when a mysterious woman named Asula witnessed a brave band of adventurers efficiently eliminate a small band of Darokinian merchants near Tyjaret, in the Yavdlom Outer Reaches. Asula, a woman of indeterminate age, light-skinned to the people of Tyjaret, but a bit darker than most of the desert nomads, wore a light-coloured cloth wrapped around most of her body, revealing only her face, which was covered entirely by blue tattoo--she was so thoroughly tattooed that her face actually appeared blue. None had ever met Asula previously, and no one is certain of her exact origins. The original party--Ne'irt the Ogre Wicca, Abrazhi the Urdukkabila Thief, Wamulinu the Yavdlom Warrior, and Balalin the mighty Centaur--informed the Akesoli merchants that elves were not welcome in Tyjaret, but the group chose to fight rather than submit. The four friends efficiently killed the four elves in the group, as well as five humans, before the remaining humans were either incapacitated or had surrendered. As the fight ended, they noticed the mysterious figure of Asula watching them from atop a nearby rock. She indicated her friendly intentions, and approached the group. Asula suggested that the friends form a mercenary group to stop potentially-hostile elves before they could infiltrate Yavdlom. Asula was immediately supported by Wamulinu and Abrazhi, though it took her longer to convince Ne'irt and Balalin. Her terms were relatively simple: she promised them 200 gp per year plus one gp per soldier in the band each month. They were allowed to keep any treasure they got from the caravans, and they were free to hire themselves out to anyone else as long as it did not interfere with their duties killing elves. The only thing she asked in return was that they make sure no elves escaped alive to report their actions, and that any scrolls pillaged from travellers be turned over to her. She also promised to train Ne'irt more fully in the magical arts. The friends agreed.
In the years since, they have recruited more soldiers, although the four original partners remain firmly in control of the group. They have efficiently destroyed each and every elf that has passed their way. Their skills have grown immensely, and they actually spend relatively little time on mercenary duties unless absolutely necessary. Since elves and their companions stopped returning from overland trips through the Necklace, most elvish groups (Graakhalians, Torreóners, Darokinians, Thadders, and Alfheimers, at least) have learned not to venture into the area, so elvish catches are actually relatively rare now. The band has been increasingly relying on true mercenary employ--most recently they agreed to work with Chandra and the Karimari in return for 8 elephants, a large amount of hardwood, and an undisclosed cash payment.
Wamulinu often takes advantage of her position as Governess of Tyjaret to make sure that no elves get through the city undetected. Elves are specifically forbidden under current city statutes, but she does not actively publicise that fact outside the town--after all, she wants more elves to come so the band can get more magic and money. Her most trusted adviser, Mohan, is head of the thieves' guild in Tyjaret and also a member of the group. Through this link to the illegal and semi-legal in Tyjaret, there is very little that goes on in this town without Wamulinu's knowledge. The town itself serves as the group's primary fortress--it is well-defended with the gains from high taxes and mercenary monies. The town contains about 80 Warriors of the Blue Eye.
Abrazhi has risen to rank of Chief in his Urdukkabila tribe. All adults in this tribe (usually around fifty) are members of the band, and they guard the overland approaches from the north and east (the overland roads to Sind).
Balalin is Chieftain of his band of centaurs. Although small, this group of about twenty adults is entirely committed to the Warriors of the Blue Eye--one of them is also a Wicca under the tutelage of Ne'irt. The centaurs guard the approach to Tyjaret from the Kladanovic to the west, as well as to the south.
Ne'irt has a tower in Tyjaret and a hidden cave northwest of town. He tutors his centaur protégé, and supports the efforts primarily in spellcasting. Ne'irt's greatest ability is one which Asula taught him--by casting a spell at the intricately-twined tattoo on his stomach, Ne'irt can effect every person who has undergone the ritual in which they receive their blue eye tattoos. Thus, spells like Protection from Evil are far more valuable than they would otherwise be. Under Asula's tutelage, he has learned many spells which are not in the standard wiccan repertoire and advanced beyond his normal Ogre maximum. He is in charge of monitoring approaching ships with his spells, and he also commands the other five ogres in the Warriors of the Blue Eye.
N.B.--I'm not using much in the way of stats here. I do have stats for these characters somewhere, if anyone's interested, but the character background is probably more interesting anyway. These characters possess more magic than normal (including magic weapons, armour, and several potions each), but remember they've been pillaging caravans and ships with elves for decades--many of them from Darokin or Minrothad. The core characters have also all had two or three potions of longevity each.
Ne'irt: Lawful Ogre Wicca
Ne'irt is rather small for an ogre, and by far the most intelligent of his species that he has ever met. This has left him to lead a rather solitary life, associating more with other races than with his own. He was accepted over forty years ago into the society of Tyjaret when his apprenticeship to the centaur wicca Reisks ended abruptly with Reisks' death at the hands of a band of adventurers. It was this very band of adventurers, which included an elf, that provided Ne'irt with his first taste of elvish flesh--which he considers an unparalleled delicacy to this day--as well as a new spellbook to study. After Reisks' son helped Ne'irt cremate his mentor, the young ogre followed an ancient wiccan custom that Reisks had explained--he concocted a mild hallucinogen from the roots of a specific grass that grows in the Konumtali Savannah and followed his instincts for three days. When he regained his clarity, he found himself just outside of the then-rundown town of Tyjaret. Greeted warmly by the inhabitants, he soon settled in this seedy port town and began to befriend several of its more respectable citizens.
Ne'irt has seen several of his friends killed by elves; this, coupled with his taste for elf-flesh, is sufficient for him to justify his employ in the Warriors of the Blue Eye. Ne'irt strongly supports the laws of Yavdlom, and he provides all possible magical assistance to Wamulinu in her position as Governess. He has a strong sense of fair play, and he will oppose any plan to attack any peaceable traders travelling without elves.
Shortly after the company was formed, Asula brought Ne'irt to her home to teach him additional magics. Though he has never spoken of what happened there, he came back with his massive tattoo on his stomach, a simple blue eye tattooed on his forehead, a greatly-weakened constitution, and improved spellcasting abilities. Over the years, Asula has occasionally brought him to her home for additional training. Any spell that he casts at the centre of his stomach tattoo (only spells cast directly at that point, which he covers at all times) effects everyone with a Blue Eye tattoo. Ne'irt also is the only person other than Asula who has the knowledge to tattoo people with the Blue Eye. Ne'irt is a fifth-level Wicca (far beyond the normal maximum for ogres), but he moves rather slowly, and each spell takes two rounds to cast. He has had extensive contact with the Kna who lair off the coast near Tyjaret, and they actually take care of preventing most ships carrying elves from escaping after entering Tyjaret harbour.
Magic Items of note: crystal ball, wand of fear, wand of fireballs, wand of polymorphing, armband of healing (see AC 4--can only be used by clerics, but he wears it anyway), and various potions and charms.
Abrazhi: Chaotic Urdukkabila Thief
Abrazhi is now the chief of a rather large band of Urdukkabila nomads. This particular group remains near Tyjaret at all times so as to monitor the activities and composition of incoming groups. Abrazhi is strong and proud, and a master swordsman. He is also very skilled in horseback riding and stealth. Abrazhi has no particular objections to elves (or any other mercenary work), but he is extremely loyal to his friends. He often is the one to procure desired items for clients. His daughter, Koru recently joined the Warriors of the Blue Eye, although he advised against it. He is, however, proud that his only child is as strong-willed as she is, and he believes that she will make an excellent chief to succeed him. Magic Items of note: Bridle of Soaring (see AC 4), ring of regeneration, displacer cloak, sword +1, +4 v. spellcasters.
Wamulinu: Lawful Yavdlom Warrior
Wamulinu has, for her entire life, made her home in the town of Tyjaret. She is fiercely loyal to Yavdlom and to the city of Tyjaret, and she believes strongly that elves represent a grave threat to the security of Yavdlom. She herself has pointier ears than normal, even in Yavdlom, but she has no prophetic abilities. Because the Outer Reaches of Yavdlom are territories, rather than states, Tyjaret is governed by a Governor or Governess appointed by the people and confirmed by the local Jaji. Wamulinu was only 18 years old when the company was formed, and she quickly began building up a strong mercenary force from within the town guards and aspiring heroes. When she was 26, the previous Governor fell ill and retired, moving to Tanakumba, and Wamulinu replaced him. For over thirty years now, she has worked on building up the city's defences, harbour facilities, and infrastructure. New city walls, well-made docks, harbour defences, a new hospital, several large fountains with fresh water, and a new caravanery are only some of her improvements. She is beloved by the people under her protection largely because, with her guidance, Tyjaret has experienced a remarkably long period of peace and prosperity. She is one of the world's most talented fighters with a spear.
Wamulinu works extremely hard, maintaining both her physical fitness and her knowledge of nearly everything in the city. While she allows some light thievery and gambling, she refuses to let any slave ship dock in her city. Slavers know to avoid Tyjaret--Jaibul has already lost two ships to the Warriors of the Blue Eye.
Important Magical Items: returning spear +1, +5 v. undead, red steel two-handed sword +2, featherweight boots (AC 4).
Balalin: Neutral Centaur Warrior
Balalin, the eldest member of this group, is a thoughtful, quiet leader. He is very strong, but also a brilliant tactician. He is very proud of his strength, and will respect anyone who can demonstrate comparable strength. He speaks several languages , but is unable to swim. He cares deeply about all of his friends, and he is entirely faithful to the order. He is a master of the long bow.
Important Magic Items: War Hammer +1, +4 v. lycanthropes, long bow +4, scarab of protection.