The Fields of Padyr
Though it ended with the Twin Cataclysms over a thousand years ago, the echoes of the Great Suel-Bakluni War still resound throughout eastern Oerik. Nowhere are they heard more loudly than on the Fields of Padyr. Lying at the feet of the Sulhaut Mountains on the southern edge of the Dry Steppes, these arid plains bore witness to the first clash between the sipahis of the Baklunish Padishah and the legions of the Suel Imperium. In that battle, the opposing armies all but annihilated each other, an ominous foreshadowing of the disaster that was to befall both empires. The warning was to go unheeded.
Lying at the head of a long, narrow pass piercing the Sulhauts, the Fields of Padyr were once verdant and beautiful. They were the site of many bloody and often futile battles as the rival empires attempted to dominate the strategically vital pass. These titanic contests left the land scorched by the arcane fire of Bakluni and Suel war mages and scarred by war. Both sides extensively fortified their positions, producing a confused network of breastworks, trenches and fortifications. Most of the lesser structures have long since crumbled away, but some of the sturdier bastions survive to this day. The great nine-towered Suel citadel of Kuravhe, which overlooks the Fields from the highest point of the pass, is said to yet endure.
The legacy of the ancient slaughter still haunts the battlefield. Tombs of the fallen litter the plain. These range from simple barrows raised over mass graves containing the bodies of hundreds of warriors to elaborate mausoleums erected in the memory of the high born Bakluni or Suel whose life’s blood drenched the arid dust of Padyr. Traces of many of the barrows have long since been scoured away by time and the elements, but some mausoleums protected by fading preservative wards yet survive. Others are but a shadow of their former glory, crumbling away like the bones of their occupants. Though most mundane items have long since vanished, it is certain that many magical weapons, armour and other objects forged at the height of the Suel and Bakluni empires lie interred among the bones of their former owners.
This hidden wealth of items and lore from a more glorious age has drawn many to seek the Fields. Few have returned to tell of their travels. Tales of the strange and horrific dangers of the old battlefields are common currency along the caravan routes of the Bakluni lands. These stories have filtered into the Flanaess along the Great Western Road, growing more fanciful with each telling. If the bards are to be believed, the ancient armies continue their fatal struggle even in death, rising from the graves each night, flinging themselves upon their long-dead foes before sinking back into the red dust each dawn. They tell of how the land itself, infused by the hatred of those buried within it, rises up to smite any living thing that dares to walk upon it, while the multitudes of monolithic grave markers scream out in agonised torment at the dark of the Great Moon.
Of course, few can gainsay such stories, however unlikely they might seem. However, the imagination of many in Greyhawk has been pricked by the recent appearance of Kalim ibn Rezan al-Kofeh in the free city. This gregarious and self-styled “purveyor of antiquities” claimed to have not only visited the Fields of Padyr, but also to have recovered a number of ancient Suel and Bakluni relics, certainly magical and, if Kalim is to be believed, surpassingly powerful. The substantial sums of gold that the Bakluni demanded just to see the items led many to denounce him as a trickster. If Kalim is troubled by such talk he does not show it, instead dismissing it with a winning smile and another tall tale of his adventures.
DM’s Notes: Though many of Kalim’s tales are just that, his lies are wrapped around a kernel of truth. Several of the items in his possession did indeed come from the Fields of Padyr. Kalim liberated them from the body of a Komali adventurer he murdered in Kester. Unfortunately for him, the ancient Suel relics have drawn the unwelcome attention of the Scarlet Brotherhood who plan to liberate them from Kalim, along with any information he might have about the Fields, by means that the Ekbiri will not find agreeable.
The Fields of Padyr themselves are indeed as dangerous as the stories claim. The tremendous magical energies unleashed during decades of conflict have warped the very fabric of the land. Indiscriminate bolts of magical energy crackle between the imposing grave markers, affecting any creature living or undead they strike with random magical effects. Time itself has become distorted, sometimes running faster and slower or even stopping entirely (mimicking the effect of haste, slow and time stop spells respectively). While arcane spells cast here are automatically Maximised, the use of such magic is perilous in the extreme as it attracts the attention of strange incorporeal undead that stalk the plains. Called jeharezim (spell drinkers) by the local Paynim dervishes, these restless spirits are sustained by magic. They are drawn to arcane spell casters like moths to a flame, absorbing their victim’s spells, magical items and life force with equal relish. The spell drinkers have not forgotten their ancient loyalties: Suel and Bakluni jeharezim command armies of lesser shades in battle, continuing in undeath the war that claimed their lives.
The jeharezim have long since consumed many of the magical items buried beneath the Fields. However, the wards placed on some of the larger mausoleums and fortifications confound even their insatiable hunger. These tombs alone, therefore, contain the great treasure promised by the bards’ tales. However, would-be fortune seekers must first deal with the array of cunning traps designed to keep the ancient remains inviolate and then find some means of escaping the ravenous jeharezim and their undead servants lying in wait outside.
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