Oh the Khilaj Alramaad, the Gulf of Dusts!How mighty your dunes, how bright shining your oases!
1 Night is not enough for the wonders of the Desert,
10 Nights is not enough to carry away its treasures,
100 Nights you might live if you know its secrets,
1000 Nights will your bones bleach in the sun if you do not.
Many are the stories of the desert travelers. Many are the nights they have spent beneath uncountable stars, above the uncountable sands, surrounded by unending horizons. They are suffocated by infinities; thus their propensity for tales with endless variations and themes. These are their most famous, their most enduring:
1 - The Cackling Court
2 - Qut, the Wildcat-with-the-fur-studded-with-stars
3 - The Pangopolis
4 - Midrab of the Warm Breeze
5 - Nar, Burning Goat that guards the Oasis
6 - The Grand Council of the Philosopher Mice
7 - The Sand Palace of the Coyote Prince
8 - Tumbletown
9 - Sabaar, the Spiney Sea
10 - Ujuf, Mesa-Castle of the Giant-Lord
11 - The Oasis of Milk and the Trees of Honey
12 - The Glass Fortress of the Djinn King
13 - The Countless Stones
14 - The Khatia, the Mirage-Men
15 - The Ancient Tombs of Lost Theroptera
16 - The Tree of Sorrows
17 - The Tent City of the Scarab-People
18 - The Crocodile's Graveyard
19 - The Locust Knights of Sahandalar
20 - The Mayit, the Dune-Ghouls
21 - Salihafar, the-Turtle-that-grows-Dunes-on-its-back
22 - The Serpent of Bones
23 - Nasir, the Vulture of Mighty Wing-Beat
24 - The Cursed Ahmar, the Cannibal-men of the Valley-Caverns
25 - The Sand-Souled Nomads of the Desert God
26 - The Cavern of 10,000 Wonders
27 - Zerzura, City of the Pillars
28 - The Riddling Beast of the Shadowed Pass
29 - The Desert's Maw
30 - The Fountain of the Sun and the Hanging Gardens of the Moon
1 - The Cackling CourtThey appear as Hyenas, first spotted dappled with heat-haze on the crest of a far-off dune. You hear the laughing and smell the rancid dog-smell. They will circle you for many hours, laughing and slobbering at the thought of you. They will scatter if approached, until it is time to strike. They are Hungry-Spirits, manifestations of the Khilaj's endless thirst. Even when they attack, they remain at a distance, and will attack and latch on to stragglers, attempting to drag them away from the group. As their prey are held, the mighty hunger of the spirits drains the life from their flesh, exhausting as if by starvation in minutes. Once two or three of a group are taken, the Court will leave, and feast on the dry and dessicated flesh of the unlucky 'til only bones remain. They will be back for the others too, eventually.
Special: If the roll includes a double, the pack is lead by a double HD Alpha who projects a withering aura as the Bane spell. If the roll includes a triple, the pack is lead by a triple HD Alpha who also frightens those it grapples.
2 - Qut, the Wildcat-with-the-fur-of-starsA tiny, fickle thing that loves to dance and cavort under the impossible stars of the Khilaj. To those on whom it takes a liking, it can grant stellar blessings based upon the birth-constellation of the recipient, though it does love itself to receive gifts in return for this, even if the blessing was unasked for. Against those that displease it though, tiny comets will hurtle screaming from its empyreal-furs. It loves to crunch on teeth and suck on eyeballs, and it particularly loves the teeth and eyes of those it likes very much, and those it utterly hates. It also hoards magical items and accouterments, though it avoids such base things as weapons.
3 - The PangopolisA city built into and onto a Pangolin the size of a small hill. Each scale of the Pangolin has been fashioned into a building. Slums are on the tail, waving and wild (and closest to the scent-sacs...). Taverns and Inns rest on the feet for the benefit of travelers and visitors. The Noble quarter lie on the sides of the Pangolin where they can get the most shade. No-one lives on the belly. Government can be found on the head and neck of the Pangolin, because they got there first. Much of the sustenance of the people of the city comes from the taken from the Pangolin's mighty capillaries and distilled into a crimson soup, and also edible scraps taken from the Pangolin's left-overs and leavings. This diet leaves long-term somewhat... strange. The Pangopolis is also the home of Pangolin-Plate, a really quiet excellent medium-weight armour that is wonderfully light and flexible for its hardness.
They say that the master of the Pangopolis lives not in one of the Pangolin's scales, but inside the skull of the Pangolin, and controls not just the laws of the city, but the City and the creature it is built on itself.
4 - Midrab of the Warm BreezeActually extremely friendly, though most take it for a monster on first blush, and they are swept away by the dust devils and tornadoes the Bat will summon up with its twirling flight and wings. It has a particular hatred of the Cackling Court, and will often help travelers stalked by them, and strike up a conversation with them once the Hungry-Spirits are driven off. Its roost is high up in a cloud, hollowed out by the Bat, where it keeps a hoard of magical Fire-Gems which it swallows to fuel its breezes and to help keep it buoyant.
5 - Nar, Burning Goat that guards the OasisCursed by the Spirits of the Desert for some ancient infraction, Nar is a Fire-Spirit in the form of a mighty goat the size of a large camel. It guards the Oasis it once defiled, and now cannot enter it on pain of death, a fate which it finds utterly abhorrent. Thusly, it will suffer no others to use the Oasis either. Its Eyes and Horns and Hooves blaze with flames, and when it gallops about in battle, it leaves glass hoof-prints in the sand. If it rears up and smashes its feet into the sand, it creates a deadly storm of broken glass. Needless to say, its charge is flaming death. Its hide is charcoal black, and it radiates such, such heat. It is said that if Nar was to be slain, you could forge metal with only the skin of the goat as your forge. This is so far unsubstantiated of course.
6 - The Grand Council of the Philosopher-MiceEngaged in an unending symposium in the ruined courtyard of some ancient palace, the Philosopher-Mice are determined to unknot the mysteries of the universe. Divided in roughly equal numbers between Mathematicians, Proto-Scientists, Alchemists, Physicians, Antiquarians, and Pure Philosophers, they chug away at their 'Micron Opus' which they say will lay bear every possible secret there could possibly be, by elucidating the very foundational aspects of reality, and thus by addition, literally all there can ever be. They will explain their thesis at great length to any who will listen, though at this point, few do. The Philosopher-Mice are generally genuinely friendly, though they quickly tire of those who can't "keep up". They will eagerly trade for food, particularly fine wine, but they only pay in "knowledge and gratitude". This has all resulted in them gaining a reputation as pretentious pricks. They could be persuaded to use their various skills and knowledge for you, if you can convince them your cause is "worthy" (though this is regularly supplemented, or even replaced, by decent donations).
7 - The Sand Palace of the Coyote PrinceThe Coyote Prince (who is too beautiful for such a base thing as a name) is a Spirit of Beauty and Hospitality. Its mighty palace is opulent in the extreme, jewels and treasures of the desert intergrated into the sandstone walls with the uttermost taste and sense of art, and the Courtiers and Attendants of the Prince spend much of their time ensuring they and the palace are as beautiful as possible. The Coyote Prince itself will gladly receive visitors, and offer them incredible hospitality. Somewhat because of its beauty, and somewhat because of its spirit-magics, it is all but impossible to refuse the its requests, should it wish it so. Flattery however, is said to get you a long way with it, and there are many tales of those who have escaped the geas of the Coyote Prince through tactical compliments and excuses. The palace is guarded on all sides by Pack-Patrols of 2d6 Coyotes, and the Coyote Prince itself is always attended by a double-size pack.
Appearing: Unique + Coyote Guards (see description)
8 - TumbletownThe Monks who Dwell in the Dojo of the Ever-Spinning Earth bear but 3.14 rules.
1st: He who ceases movement must die [Spiritually speaking at least].
2nd: He who cannot accept the flow of the world must die [Again, spiritually speaking].
3rd: He who by his efforts, changes the flow of the earth even but slightly, is glorious.
3.14th: You can't change the flow of the earth, the wind however is another matter.
The monk who thought up the 3.14th rule thought he was hilarious. He is not.
The Tumbletown rolls perpetually over the desert, huge, twisted, hollow. Within the titanic tumble-weed, easily 600 feet in diametre, is a spherical Dojo, endlessly jostled and carried about by the Tumble-weed that houses it. To say the day to day life of the Ascetics within is chaotic is an understatement, but one that they are relentlessly accustomed to. They follow an path of accepting enlightenment, being taken where-ever the literal and spiritual winds of their lives take them. A small community has grown up around them, all having to take on the Monk's philosophy to at least a small degree. They don't have much, but donations come in semi-regularly from people hoping to earn some small token of karmic favour from the merciless powers of chance. Some whisper, that within the very deepest heart of the Dojo, is a Pearl that allows power over the very Winds themselves, but locked within an iron trunk to prevent its use, symbolic of the giving up of control the Monk's practice every day. The monks vehemently deny such things of course.
9 - Sabaar, the Spiney SeaThe caldera of some ancient catastrophe, whatever happened left the soil supernaturally fertile, and so it has become totally, utterly overtaken by Cacti. It is a veritable ocean of Cacti, impenetrable (at least practically speaking) to animals. Some sail the surface of the sea on flat-bottomed boats propelled along on metal-shod poles. They seek out the very largest cacti to harvest their huge spines, and to pump out the water they store within. The bravest, or most foolish, seek the heart of the Spined Sea to find the storied ruins of the city, or perhaps temple, whose people caused the Sea to rise in ancient days. At least one wizard has carved their tower out of a large Cactus, and so-called Spinestown hangs the spines of a truly titanic Cactus, guarded by huge Ballistae. Though, it isn't all fun and games.
Boars the size of houses are said to roam the distant floor of the Sea in its deepest sections, unphased by the cacti's spines. They crunch on the Cacti, which spells doom for rafts that happen to be perched on them at the time.
Swarms of hand-sized Lizards, small enough to fit between the spines of the cacti, strip flesh from bone in minutes.
Many-legged monkeys throw crude spine-spears.
Slow and methodical Spider-Giants shoot ropes of webs at their prey to dash them against the spines.
Humming birds will drain the blood from your veins as readily as they drain the water from the Cacti they perch on.
And most veterans agree something worse haunts the very nadir of the Sea, though none of them can agree on what it actually is.
10 - Ujuf, Mesa-Castle of the Giant-LordLong ago, when the Giants fled Old Fomoria, one of their number, counted mighty among them, eventually settled in the Khilaj, and became a mighty Robber-Baron of the sands. Now though, he is dead and rotting, slain by a coalition of mighty heroes. It is said that in his might, he had two heads and four arms and three legs, though now only bones remain. The Castle is still adorned in the finery and memorabilia of the Ancient Home of the Giants, but the Castle is infested with vermin and wandering spirits. The darkest rumours suggest that the Giant-Lord has risen again, but in truth, its bones have been animate and over-taken by a hive-swarm of angry famine spirits, desperate to escape the dead and drained castle. They long for somewhere new and verdant to devour...
11 - The Oasis of Milk and the Trees of HoneyOnce a storied and revered sanctuary for wanderers of the desert, it is now a rancid and rotten place. The milk is now a crust of thick black foam over a thin pool of stinking rot, and the honey that once flowed from the trees is now thick, crusted, and sour. Normally, this corruption would be cleansed by the oasis by its attendant spirits, but they have been chased away by the Defiler Wasps. They are the size of a man's hand, shell-skeletons as hard as ceramic, stings that literally burn. The swarm is hypnotic in its roiling and undulating. They have overtaken the whole oasis, chewing the honey and dumping bodies into the pool of milk. They have formed a huge, cracking and creaking hive in a set of rocks and boulders near the pool. At its heart is the Queen of the Defiler Wasps, a terrible Demon that is growing fat and powerful on the honey. Eventually, she and her swarm will grow huge and numerous enough to assault and destroy the various cities and powers of the Khilaj, and rule it all.
12 - The Glass Fortress of the Djinn KingSumptuous and Glorious, with many many powers and titles, but also cursedly miserly and paranoid. It will go to any length to avoid granting the many wishes it frequently promises as rewards for services and works it commissions. It is attended and defended by a band of Brass-Clad Fire Giant guardians, and it also has an extensive Seraglio of Water-Nymph Odalisques, who hate him in the cool, indifferent way of their kind. The Djinn King's riches are extensive, well-documented, and exceptionally well defended by magic, magical guardians, and curses. One of its most favoured excuses for not handing out rewards it has promised is that they can only pay out once the (unending and endlessly cyclical) appraisal of its vaults is completed, or that it will grant the wish once its other guest has left, who is certainly due to arrive any moment now! (it always has guests either present, or imminently arriving)
Appearing: Unique + 2d4 Fire Giant Allies + Servantry
13 - The Countless StonesIn a great caldera in the desert, surrounded by high dunes, stands a great monument of concentric and intertwining rings of standing stones, each three times the height of a man. You can see that there are many of them, but if you stop to count them, you will not be able to achieve a satisfactory answer. If you try again, your result will be different again. And again. And again. If you count and count and count, you might be impelled to count forever, and be trapped. Logic does not work here. It is the magic of the spirits that rules here, and it is in their world that you stand now. If you enter the stones and wander their spiral paths, you will find not logic to the paths, and it is only natural that you will become lost. Dreams stalk the corridors of the stones, manifesting shape and potency from your mind. These predatory spirits will seek to slake the hunger of the stones with your blood. If you do traverse the stones though, and if you can overcome the trials of the spirts, you will reach the Place of Meetings, where man and spirit may meet and speak at peace, and powerful spirits at that. At the very heart of the Place of Meetings is the stand that bears that most singular flower, the Nomad's Rose, whose nectar brings knowledge and wisdom to its imbiber. Needless to say, few have ever drunk of it.
14 - The Khatia, the Mirage-MenThey never quite mean to lead to the accidental and tragic death of those they cross paths with, but they don't really go out of their way at all to avoid it, and will happily gather up the now unused trinkets and finery their unwitting prey left behind under pretensions of necessity and expedience. These trinkets and baubles are then disguised by their mirage-magics as being being mere curios and the like. They can be somewhat friendly, (or at least polite) if you can get around their lies, but if you ever call them out on it, they will become defensive in the extreme. No one else in the Khilaj likes the Khatia, they are widely known as massive hypocrites, and rightly so.
15 - The Ancient Tombs of Lost TheropteraThe old God-Kings of the River-Valleys were rich from the sweat of their willing slaves, and in death, they reviled all gods and powers, and sealed themselves in fortress-tombs of stone; sealed with many guardians and magics, daring death to come and claim them. Death eventually came for them of course, coiling like smoke through the gaps in the sealed gates, slaying guardians with impunity, and unweaving spells with a bony finger like the blade of scissors through soft fabric. Today, the wards still stand, and many guardians yet live, the Pyramid Tomb-Castles of the old Valley-Kings unconquered by any other force. And if all those legends are true, there must also be a King's fortune of gold hidden within as well. Perhaps some of the Ancient Valley Kings even held off death too...
16 - The Tree of SorrowsOut in the deepest desert, trees are a rare sight. But this one is huge, a good 100 feet tall. Its branches twist up from the thick twisted trunk in writhing spirals like flame. On the lowest branches are hanged men, their spilled guts feeding the tree with blood. Atop each mighty branch, is perched the sun-bleached skull of some untold sinner. Each skull bears a carven sigil, binding with the skull the spirit of the old sinner, forever tortured by the burning sun, and forever compelled to speak truth to those who should ask of them questions. Many bodies are caught in the knots of the trees, having fallen from above, failing to reach the skulls and the truths they can tell. There are further tales that the tree itself is hollow, and inside is the gnarled and broken body of the first sinner, around whom the whole tree has grown; though to investigate this at all and mar the tree with tool to split it apart would result in your hanging and gutting, hung from the tree to rot.
17 - The Tent City of the Scarab-PeopleA society of semi-sedantry, semi-nomadic farmers; they grow food in mighty balls of manure that they push around the desert from oasis to oasis to prevent the dung-balls from drying out. Mostly they are pretty friendly, at least on the fringes of their Nomad-City. The deeper into the rings of tents and shelters you go, the richer and more hostile the Scarab-People become, and patrols of Scarab-Soldiers patrol the inner circles to keep "undesirables" from getting to the Scarab-Shahs, the rules of the Tent city. There are rumours that the chief of the Shahs is the Scarab-Sultan, but no outsider has been deep enough into the city to confirm or deny this, and many scholars doubt its existance on the grounds of "just because it sounds nice doesn't mean it has to exist" (which in itself is a good insight into fantasy scholarship tbh). The Scarab-People tend mighty desert-millipedes the size of elephants as mounts and livestock, their main source of manure and physical labour, though they will never give up the opportunity to trade for a good source of manure. Some of the Scarab-People are even adventurers themselves, plundering the necropoli and ruins the City passes by for trinkets and treasures that they peddle on the outskirts of the city, where they are most likely to find the outsiders who will buy them. Some humans and other races have established a strange relationship with the Scarab-People, submitting to becoming Man-Cattle, constantly eating to provide manure for the Dung-Farms, caught in a curious state somewhere between guest-friend and farm-animal.
Appearing: Medium City
18 - The Crocodile's GraveyardA crazy maze of old bones and tents of dried, scaled skin, skeletons between the size of your finger and the size of your house. Tended by the Graveyard's Scaled Priest, who dress themselves in old skins and build houses of memory and veneration out of rib-cages and dried scales. The angriest skeleton-spirits receive offerings of blood upon their old, dry jaws.
Only a few travelers get devoured by restless dead crocodiles each year while coming to try to gain the favour of those very spirits.
A Necromancer has moved in recently, and has been stealing the secrets of the most ancient crocodiles, and marring them with wolf-teeth wounds to prevent the spirits from seeking retribution. The Scale-Priests know of the Necromancer, but they know not where they are. Eventually the Necromancer will be able to use the secrets it takes to become a primal kind of Lich, much as many of the more powerful crocodiles have done, harnessing the power of ancient creatures and powers to live forever, carving its phylactery from a thousand thousand crocodile teeth. If the Necromancer has teeth, it can bind the spirit that once owned them, it has carved many into protective charms, and it has made a pair of ancient jaw-bones into knuckledusters.
19 - The Locust Knights of SahandralarQuesting nobles of the Great Democracy of the undying Lands. They only ever refer to their goals as "The Noble Quest!" which has lead to much confusion, as each group has its own different "Great Quest". They are pretty friendly and chivalrous for the most part, though they can be brutal in the extreme if they perceive you as standing between them and their destination. They are chatty and love to sing around campfires in the dimness of evening, though as allies they can be quite mercurial.
Appearing: 2d8, the higher result indicates Knights armed with Lances, the lower indicating Knights armed with Crossbows.
Special: The Lead Lancer has +d3 HD, and is a noted Hero of Sahandralar
20 - The Mayit, the Dune-GhoulsThey were men once, but the treachery of the desert caused their Yellow Humours to rise up in a great torrent, and now they are withered and dry, hungry for fluids. Damage they inflict dessicates the flesh, and the extra water the victim must consume to recover has lead many groups to their death even after their victory over the ghouls, their water supplies proving insufficient after the attack to reach safety. The Dune-Ghouls are cunning ambushers; many hide in the sand, completely buried such they they can burst forth for surprise, and others will steal the arms and armour of their victims in the night before attacking.
Appearing: d4 (exploding result)
21 - Salihafar, the-Turtle-that-grows-Dunes-on-its-backA Turtle like a mountain, it drags itself slowly through the desert, and dunes grow on it when it rests to sleep, before it awakes, shakes them off like water, and continues on. At least one group of Druids dwell on its Lithic-Shell, sewing stones and nurturing boulders on its back. A group of Ascetic Monks call the Turtle their home too, espousing their vows and the virtues of poverty from the lowly and lonely crags of the shell. The Turtle crunches rock like pigs crunch conkers, though it feeds slowly on the stone. Indeed, so slowly that some might live, grow old, and die without ever knowing the true nature of that mountain beyond the horizon. Currently, it chews on the old, old ruins of some forgotten city, all traces of it slowly slipping down the gullet of the creature. Some peoples have sent men to see what lurks within the vast belly of the beast, and the prospectors that return tell of vast mineral fortunes within the walls of living stone. They also speak of the great terrors that dwell within alongside them...
22 - The Serpent of BonesNo tales speak of the Origins of the Serpent of Bones, it is cursed, and must never be given a name. It swallows its prey whole, the meat and fluids being crushed and pulverised by the shifting throat of the Serpent such that the gory mess leaks out through the stained neck of the beast, and the bones are retained within the thing's 'stomach'. These bones are used to repair damage dealt to the Serpent's osseous form. Despite the shape it takes, the Serpent is not particularly fast or flexible, and mostly relies on ambush to trap prey for swallowing, or its crushing weight to beat foes to death. It can burrow through the sand, though slowly and not without great effort, it is infinitely patient. None know of the serpents desires or intents, or if it even has thought higher than that of base animals, it is an enigma.
23 - Nasir, the Vulture of Mighty Wing-BeatSpirit-Brother of Midrab of the Warm Breeze, its wing-beats brush up mighty storms, but for the most part the Vulture is slothful and indolent. Mostly it circles high above the Khilaj, drifting lazily down to kill easy prey and beating up a great storm to hide its hideous form from prying eyes, which it hates. Its feaths are ragged and pale, its flesh is dry tatters, and its beak is cracked and flaking. It hates to be seen, except from far away. It is spiteful and crass, though it is mostly indifferent to man, and may even strike up a conversation with those that avoid looking at it and show it compassion and pity.
24 - The Cursed Ahmar, the Cannibal-men of the Valley-CavernsThey are accursed and totally hateful. Any other denizen of the Khilaj will attempt to butcher them if they can, and will flee with haste and fear if they can't. They wear white, chalky masks with obsidian-black lenses. The chins of the masks are stained a hateful brown by blood. They might have been men once. They certainly aren't now if they ever were. They are utterly wicked. They will eat you if they can. Their weapons are cruel, as are they in temperament. They should not be dealt with lightly.
Appearing: In the Valley of the Ahmar: village - As an Encounter: 3d6
Special: If there are no duplicates, they are lead by a double HD Brave. If there are any duplicates, they are lead by a double HD Shaman.
25 - The Sand-Souled Nomads of the Desert GodThey gave themselves over to the Desert and its gods and their Yellow Humours, so now their flesh is made of sand and their eyes are made of glass. They need no sustenance, and they need no comforts. They roam the desert on lizard-back, and commune with spirits. Their primary work is transforming the desert in accordance with the long plans of the earth; excavating oases, building high dunes, sowing stones adn boulders. They never wander from their tribe except for when their tasks demand it. They are completely dedicated to the cause. Their eyes would be the ideal material for the creation of divination tools, and also would probably be potent alchemical ingredients as well.
26 - The Cavern of 10,000 WondersI'm going to cheat on this one a bit.
Deep in the desert, it is said, is a cave that goes down to the very core of the earth. When the world was ruled by the God-Emperor of early Man, he buried all his most brilliant and most lovely treasures in a cavern in the middle of the desert, that he might be the only one in all the world to posses such glories as he did. It was futile of course. He was neither god, nor emperor of all the earth, but he did posses wonderful things, and the cave is out there, if you could ever find it, or survive the things that dwell within:
d20 Wonders of the Caverns
1 - A trapped Djinn, tangled within a ball of star-cat fur. It offers favours from the Djinn King in exchange for its freedom.
2 - A Diamond the size of a baby, carved to resemble a baby.
3 - A Staff that morphs halfway up to resemble a snake, and eventually become a spiting, biting actual snake.
4 - A Vial of crystal that turns any liquid poured inside into pure water. Powered by a captured and otherwise powerless dryad who takes on the impurities and corruptions of the given liquids.
5 - A Statue 100 feet tall of a man wrestling a serpent with bull's horns.
6 - A clockwork guardian that receives instructions through something like morse-code, inputted on its back. There is a very comfortable leather seat attached near the control-input.
7 - A Globe representing a world absolutely nothing like the game-world, set in gems and jewels of many, many colours.
8 - A Jade Scorpion pendent. Wearing it means certain death.
9 - A beautiful and opulent rug. Meditation upon it allows instantaneous communication with any-one else who is also meditating on a rug.
10 - A Sword of polished and shining wood. Striking a target causes them to lignify in lieu of causing trauma. Those "slain" by the sword turn into tree-like corpses that grow themselves.
11 - A Single Arrow expertly carved out of glass. No other powers, just made of glass.
12 - A Turtle that talks at length about the politics of ancient powers no longer on earth as if it was the most common parlour talk in the world.
13 - A Goose that lays golden eggs that hatch into terribly venomous serpents if not boiled.
14 - A beautiful chest inlay-ed with shell. Within, curls an animate, pearl-carved tiger-cub.
15 - A curled dagger, that when drawn from its sheath, leaves behind a solid trail of ice.
16 - Like, just the best damn hookah in the world, like, you don't even know.
17 - An armband of exquisite design, covered in the promises of the protection of angels. No actual powers.
18 - A sapphire mask depicting a mighty battle-scene. Apparently once the identifying mark of an ancient hero-vigilante.
19 - A leering monkey statue holding out a great ruby as an offering. Trapped up to the bloody gills, if monkeys had gills.
20 - A Serpent statue with diamond eyes, poisoned needles for teeth, and nuggets of adamantium for scales.
d10 Guardians/Monsters of the Caverns
1 - A Djinn swordsman, whose sword is the south-wind.
2 - The spirits of the ancient dead, who always appear as those you love most.
3 - A Serpent of flame with basalt eyes; the only material part of its body.
4 - Hunger-Spirits of the Cackling Court.
5 - Animated-Sand Golems.
6 - Beautiful, filigree clock-work golems.
7 - Undead Crocodile-men, armed with ancient weapons inlayed with silver.
8 - A giant, with five eyes spread around his head, and talons like an eagle instead of hands.
9 - Scorpions with the heads of men; they throw insults that cannot be ignored.
10 - A Dragon, soft of scale and talon, without wings or eyes, but its tongue is silvered like a serpents, and its knowledge of magic is terribly formidable.
27 - Zerzura, City of the PillarsZerzura is sometimes dismissed from the hash-hazed tables of academics as mere myth. Those that know the desert as well as they know their wives, know that far off, on the horizon, you might see the very highest of the spires of the Lost City of Pillars scratching the skies. They do not go there. There are no streets, only wide shining plazas between the great towers. They are tall, tall staves of white rock, ringed with dark windows and rough-carven verandas. The tops of the towers are wide and flat, each topped with a fountain with clear, crystal waters. They are hundreds of feet wide, standing lonely against the sand-horizon. There are many bridges running between the inner levels of the towers amongst the lower levels, and the waters of the fountains high above are channeled down onto them, crashing onto the bridges and then finally the ground. Strangely, the bridges have not eroded away over the aeons. It is said that profound secrets and truths lurk in the waters of the Zenith-Fountains, some in the forms of fish, others in the hearts of crystals, others in carven words. Nothing moves in this quiet city. Perhaps it has guardians, though they must be well-hidden, or invisible. Some of the pillars contain strange, mechanical constructions running through them, with unknown maker or function. Most unsettlingly of all, there are no spirits here, save for the spirits of the fountains. the city is strange, cold, and dead, even by the standards of the desert.
28 - The Riddling Beast of the Shadowed PassA great Sphinx, with the head of a Man, the belly of a Lion, the legs of a Locust, the Wings of an Eagle, and the tail of a Scorpion. It guards a lonely pass through a great mountain range into and out of the Khilaj, and it takes great pleasure in offering travelers a way out of their impending devouring; a contest of riddles. To begin with, it really wasn't all that good, and was often hungry, but in recent years it has improved vastly, and news is slow to spread of this fact. The venom of its tale induces cancers in bone, its breath is intoxicating, and its bite is savagely damaging. In spite of all that, it is also something of a coward, and will flee any battle that doesn't go immediately its way. If cornered, and clearly outmatched, it will beg for its life, and offer the secrets of those it has devoured, for its belly digests the mind as well as the body. This last bit is a lie. It is just that desperate not to die.
29 - The Desert's MawThree rivers feed the Maw after their long, winding journies through the desert. Many tribes and peoples offer their sacrifices and criminals to it to assuage the anger of the Earth, or the Beast, or God, or whatever it is. What it definitely is, is a vast, vast pit in the earth. Half a mile in diameter, miles and miles in depth. And it is ringed at all depths and levels with vast, vast teeth. Tunnels and caverns stud its sides too, and while none have ever been satisfactorily mapped or explored in their entirety, there are peoples and groups that have built their homes within them. Much is paid for Maw-Ivory carved out from the great teeth of the Maw, and such there will always be those willing to risk the wrath of the Maw for riches. They do not dwell too deep though, down there the walls are meaty and raw, and the air is filled with the stench of rot. Of course, there are all kinds of myths and legends of the origins of the Maw. Perhaps it is the slowly fossilising corpse of an ancient titan, or the earthly remains of a slain god sinking into the earth, or the sleeping form of a mighty spirit. Who can say.
30 - The Fountain of the Sun and the Hanging Gardens of the MoonA great Garden-Complex, built about 2 opposite and opposing shrines; An almight Pagoda for the Sun, guarded by a Spider that has caught it in its web; and A great Pillared Promenade for the Moon, caught by a Serpent that constricts it.
The Garden is composed of many hanging galleries from which dangle all sorts of ivies and other such plants, haunted by Spiderous-Monkeys who building crude villages spun from the plants, and who drop from above to ambush rival tribes or adventuring bands. They flee though at the passing of the Gardeners, which are something like Jelly-fish floating serenely in the air, their body-sacs filled with starry voids and nebulas, which pour forth waters to nourish the garden. They fight a losing battle against the loss of the Garden's Sun and Moon. Soon it will all wither away. Silver-Feathered birds meander lazily through the trees and prey on chalky-white lizards the size of tigers, pecking off hand-sized scales before fluttering away.
The Serpent is purple with jagged bands of black, and has three great frills upon its head. It squeezes the Moon in its Promenade, eternally trying to crack it open for the golden yolk that it thinks lies inside. It speaks in a low, sonorous whisper, cooing and singing to the Moon, trying to tempt it into breaking. Its gaze causes immortality; your eyes calcify into shining white moons, and your life slowly drifts away from you. Unless you can be shown the light of the sun, and quickly, you will become trapped in the garden forever, unable to find your way out, and there are more than one group of unfortunate adventurer-undead who have met this sorry fate wandering the gardens.
The Pagoda of the Sun is a large, but squat building at the opposite end of the Gardens to the Promenade of the Moon, and inside it is something like and arena with four great statues at each corner. The statues hold burning braziers that pour forth a glowing golden water that flows down into carven channels in the floor, following strange geometric routes through further small pagodas and gazebos within the greater structure before reaching the centre, and then rising up into a beautiful shining fountain, at the apex of which floats the Sun. Currently though, it is obvious it does not flow up as high as it wishes, and a great web constrains the waters and the sun with it. The Spider of the Fountain drinks the glowing waters, which causes it to glow from within through the cracks and joins of its exoskeleton. It will suffer no-one to touch its great treasure, and it crouches and stalks from above, using the Gazebos and Lesser Pagodas as stepping stones to chase men through the furrows that the light-water channels follow.
If the Sun and the Moon were to be freed, the Garden would begin to blossom again. This would call back the True Elves that planted it in aeons long ago. The Elves, the Serpent, and the Spider would war for control of the Lights of the Garden, striking from the Dark Corners of the buildings.