Tales of Tolara
In the swirling sands of the Zexek Desert, a heart of thunder beats.
103 years old (about mid-30’s for a ssarian)
Vaguely elfin face and body structure, except that instead of an elf, he’s a scorpion man.
Thus, pincers for mouth and bug-eyes for eyes.
Chitin is a deep red with streaks of both lighter and even darker reds throughout.
Tail is 5’ long when fully extended.
Segmented, but only upon close inspection.
Looks more like one smooth limb from further away.
Intricate tribal tattoos cover it from base to tip.
Wears hide armor made from various desert animals.
Looks rather hodgepodge, but actually arranged and sewn with great care to cover more vulnerable areas with the toughest leather.
Also has the hide of a desert tiger and a necklace of its teeth and claws.
The skull of the tiger is attached to the top of his maul.
Most of the skull is covered in what appear to be X’s painted onto it.
Wields a maul that appears to be little more than a rock tied to a large stick.
Despite looking like it’s going to fall off at any moment, it packs quite a wallop and has served Sslenek quite well for many years and felled many enemies.
Sslenek is currently with a number of rag-tag adventurers that include a member of the Bastil guard (who may or may not be mentally unstable), a level headed but rather abrasive elf, a slightly naive yet well-meaning druid, and an energetic half-elf thief that seems to be hiding something.
He ran into Constable Remmington, the Bastil guard, while fighting a horrible abberation that was loose in the sewers in Bastil. They managed to kill it, but Remmington was “urged” to leave the city as the creature’s magical taint had rubbed off on both him and Sslenek. They traveled into the desert, accompanied by Remmington’s camel, Copenhagen, and ran into the elves and half-elf who were trading with a ssarian scouting party.
Sslenek hopes to one day unite the ssarian tribes under one banner and overthrow the Efreet King and his corrupt regime in order to create a ssarian nation that is truly free. He has decided to start the Ssarian Liberation Cartel, a group consisting of only him thus far, but nonetheless devoted to the cause of freeing the ssarian clans of the desert.
Sslenek lived in the northern Zexek desert in the Kek’thrax clan. He was a prominent hunter thanks to discovering an affinity for lightning magic at a young age. The clan shaman taught him to harness the power of the elements and channel it through various weapons. Sslenek always favored mauls, and when he came of age, the shaman helped him make his first maul by shaping the stone of a nearby mountain and attaching it to a piece of ancient petrified wood he found.
At the age of 25, he underwent the Xen-kek ceremony, the traditional ascension to manhood ceremony in the Kek’thrax clan. In it, young ssarians have to survive a week in the Eternal Struggle, the ssarian name for the Zexek desert. By the third night of the ceremony, the group of ssarians had finished the last of the supplies they had brought. However, the next morning they spotted a desert tiger. Many of the group wanted to follow the tiger until it found some prey and attempt to get some for their own, but Sslenek was worried that the tiger was just as lost and desperate as they were. He formulated a plan by which the group would be able to kill the tiger, providing them with enough meat to last them the rest of the week as well as the fur and various other trophies to bring back to the tribe, which would earn them great respect.
His plan was that a majority of the group would lay in wait behind a dune while he led a three of his close friends in an attack on the tiger in an attempt to push him back to the dune. However, he underestimated the tiger’s speed and strength. During the fight, it knocked two of Sslenek’s friends out and cleaved the third in half. As his friend’s corpse fell to the desert sands, Sslenek flew into a rage and called an entire lightning storm into existence in the sky above. He thrust his maul into the air and as bolt after bolt of lightning hit his weapon, rock from far below the sands flew to the surface, encasing the ssarian in armor. After a few seconds, Sslenek leaped at the beast, which leapt at him as well.
This time, it was the tiger that underestimated his foe. Moving almost too fast to see, Sslenek whipped his maul into the tiger’s stomach, sending him flying into the air. Whipping around immediately after landing, Sslenek, howled with rage and, thrusting his maul over his head, he brought it down with all of his strength. As it hit the desert sand, lighting flashed down from the clouds above and struck the still air-born tiger over and over again. The limp corpse of the beast smacked into the dune where the rest of Sslenek’s group had come out of hiding to watch the battle, leaving smoke trails and filling the air with the scent of freshly roasted meat.
The young ssarians ran down the hill, howling in excitement and celebration, but Sslenek did not respond. He simply walked to his fallen friend, his rock armor falling off in pieces as he dredged through the sand, until he was kneeling at the head of his friend. He turned his head to the sky and let out a soft keening noise that grew until it filled the air. The others in the group slowly picked up the cry and joined Sslenek in his mourning.
When they returned to the village, the group brought with them incredible stories of Sslenek’s fight with the desert tiger as well as a fair amount of roasted tiger meat. Sslenek, as the slayer of the beast, walked into the village wearing the hide of the tiger on his back as a cape, a necklace of its teeth and claws around his neck, and brought the skull of the beast to the village shaman. The shaman took the skull, examined it, and asked for Sslenek’s hand. Sslenek extended his arm and before he could say anything, the shaman flicked a small knife across his palm. Sslenek hissed in pain, but held his tongue.
The shaman wiped the blood he drew from Sslenek from the blade and painted a single X in the middle of the skull before handing it back to Sslenek. He told Sslenek that it would serve as a reminder of his friend who had died and that he should mark the skull for each member of the clan who died as a result of his foolhardiness and recklessness. Sslenek bowed deeply and swore to protect each and every member of the clan from then on. The shaman walked forwards to Sslenek, bid him rise, and bowed to him. Sslenek looked around with surprise as the rest of the clan, which had been waiting with baited breath, bowed down to him as well. After a few moments, they all stood back up and lifted Sslenek above their heads. They feasted for many nights in celebration of Sslenek’s great victory against the deadliest of desert beasts.
Last Few Years
A few years ago, after living as a the shaman’s apprentice for all of his life, Sslenek became the tribe’s shaman after the old one died. He became so well respected in that office that he was expected to become the next leader of the tribe. One night, Sslenek went out to the desert to the grave of his friend that died fighting the desert tiger to pay his respects as he did every year. He sat by the grave, which was marked by a large rectangle of glass that had formed when he had called the lighting from the sky to kill the tiger, and made the same sound he had made that day, a quiet keening that slowly grew to an incredible volume. He then drifted off into a deep meditative state that lasted till morning. Once the sun came up, Sslenek gathered his things, bowed to the grave, and headed back to the village.
When he was drawing near to the village, he saw smoke rising from many of the huts and began running as fast as he could. Once he got to the village, he was greeted with a horrific site. Most of the huts were on fire, dozens of bodies, including young hatchlings who had attempted to flee the massacre, littered the desert sands, and at the center of the village, it looked like what few warriors that had escaped the initial attack had made a final stand against their attackers. Sslenek fell to his knees and howled his rage and sadness to the skies as the wispy clouds above quickly turned into immense, dark thunderclouds. After examining the bodies, Sslenek recognized the tattoos of a rival tribe and discovered their tracks. He grabbed his maul and began to follow the tracks, the clouds following behind him.
By nightfall, he had caught up to the raiding party that had decimated his village. He saw their campfire from the top of a nearby dune and let out a horrible screeching roar and ran down the dune, wildly swinging his maul, sending bolt after bolt of lightning into the camp. His maul was not the only source of lighting that disrupted the previously quiet evening in the camp. The thunderclouds that Sslenek had willed into existence from his rage rained down with every bit of lightning they had. A few members of the raiding party managed to avoid the worst of the initial attack and gathered themselves into a line to face the apparently insane warrior attacking them. Within moments, Sslenek reached those warriors and in a single blow, sent them flying into the air where lighting made quick work of them. Sslenek darted around the camp, almost as quick as the lighting that struck all around him, destroying any and all resistance.
The battle lasted only a few minutes from start to end, but by the time Sslenek had finally calmed down to a point where he could think clearly, there was barely a trace left of the raiding party. The desert nearby had turned into a solid sheet of glass from the heat and force of the repeated lighting strikes, and Sslenek’s chitinous skin clinked as he fell to his knees and keened again and again for his lost clan. He sat there for hours, keening over and over again, until he collapsed into a deep, dreamless sleep fueled by pure exhaustion. He woke with the sunrise, slowly gathered himself, and began trudging back to the remnants of his village. He got there by the height of the day, and spent the hottest hours of the desert day wandering about the village, marking the desert tiger skull given to him by the shaman years ago for each fallen member of his tribe from the oldest elder down to the youngest hatchling.
After a few days of burying the dead and mourning, Sslenek headed towards the City of Glass with the hopes of finding a new life there. Upon arriving, he tried to get a meeting with a minor efreet noble and after weeks of waiting, managed to finally see one and asked for permission to lead a small number of warriors in a retaliatory attack on the tribe that slaughtered his. However, the efreet told him that no one cared about the day to day squabbles of lowly ssarians. They were allowed to exist by the efreet and djini to serve them. The tribe that attacked his village was protected by the Efreet King anyway, so he was being extraordinarily kind by not reporting Sslenek’s attack on the warriors of the tribe. Sslenek was then roughly thrown out and left on the street.
Sslenek managed to get a job in the city guard as a member of a patrol squad that wandered the desert, looking for human threats. As a clanless, he had no hope of becoming anything more than that. After a several weeks of wandering the desert, his patrol came upon a merchant caravan that was escorting several nomadic holy men. His commanding officer ordered the patrol to destroy the caravan, but Sslenek objected. They were harmless, just some wandering merchants and other innocent people. The officer simply insisted that those were their standing orders and began charging towards the caravan when he was suddenly blasted by a bolt of lightning from Sslenek. The rest of the patrol stood in awe for a moment before leaping upon the traitorous Sslenek.
The caravan heard the commotion and the caravan guards ran towards the ruckus. By the time they got to the fight, all they saw was a single ssarian standing, lightning coursing over his body, holding a giant stone hammer, and about a dozen dead ssarians. They drew their weapons and demanded to know what had happened. Sslenek explained that his patrol had decided to attack the caravan and he could not stand by and watch more innocent creatures be slaughtered by the mindless slaves of the efreet. The guards sheathed their swords and cautiously brought Sslenek back to the caravan. He asked the merchants if they knew of any place he could escape the rulers of the desert, and they agreed to take him back to Bastil, the City in the Wall, and their point of origin. Sslenek thanked them and the caravan slowly began winding its way towards the edge of the desert as the sun set slowly ahead of them.