Shadow on the Sand

Shadow on the Sand – Attempt 1, Part 5

Aside : Apologise for the lack of updates this week.  Let’s just say that over the last day and a half, my assistant (worth her weight in gold!) and I have prepared 8,000 pages of Appeal Books and lodged them with the Family Court of Australia.

She’ll never read this, but C.G. – you’re awesome!


Back to my adventure as a fugitive from the state.

After my refreshing bath / sauna / towel-stealing, I lightly trip down the steps of the bathhouse, and enter the ‘Saadi-tas-Ouda’ or Square of the Dead.

I can only assume that I know this name and location from my conversations with my [former] ship’s crew, because I would be (gorily) impressed if there was actually a sign announcing this ominous title.

Project Aon link – Heads in ‘Square of the Dead’

In a ‘gasp’ ominous moment, I note that the heads of my introductory envoy and the crew of my ship have been separated from their corresponding bodies and now ‘decorate’ the poles of the square, all with their foreheads adorned with the Vassagonian epithet of ‘traitor’.

Hell of a thing for the mere ‘crime’ of manning an oar on the ship of an envoy.


I quickly dash into the quarter of the city which houses the spice and herb merchants.  I immediately notice a shop which is directly relevant to my physical condition.



The shop in question is clearly adorned with the legend of :

‘Bir Dar Masoun—HERB-MISTRESS’

Aside : This will all be for naught if this sign simply means that Bir is the illicit lover of some dude named ‘Herb’.


I enter the shop, and, after some preliminary blather, the ‘herb-mistress’ regretfully declares that she has no supplies whatsoever of the ‘Oede’ herb due to cost, and that the only supplies in the entire kingdom are within the palace of the Zakhan.

Bring it, Adam.


She does attempt to pad her profit margins by offering me some temporary relief in the form of Laumspur, Larnuma and Rendalim’s Elixir potions.  Given my full backpack (with 2 healing potions already) I politely decline her offer.

As Lone Wolf has done so many times, with so many other available women, presumably.

Project Aon link – Potions and rug

As I leave, I do get what may be helpful advice as, for no particular reason, the herbalist mentions that the guards at the north entrance of the palace can be bribed.

Aside : Whereas, presumably, the guards at the east, south and west entrances are steadfast servants of morality and don’t care about money.

Okay, whatever.

Right, Jennifer?


I leave the herbalist store through a side-alley.

There is  then a MASSIVE amount of colour dialogue here, all relating to a previous rule of Vassagonia known as the ‘Black Zakhan’ and the tomb containing the two daughters who were slain by him.  It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the main narrative, but go to here and then section 160 if you want to read the story.

In any event, I arrive at the palace and promptly, based upon my intelligence, approach the north gate.

There are two guards on duty and for some reason (!) I somehow ‘know’ that normally there would be twenty guards present at this time.

As I ponder my plan, a rider hands a scroll to the guards, before speedily riding through the gate, which is quickly opened for him.  As the guards examine the scroll, I note that they have neglected to close the open gate.

Since I have the Kai Disciplines of both Camouflage and Hunting I am able to take advantage of the guards’ distraction…




…the guards’ distraction to sneak into the palace gardens without them [the guards] raising the alarm.

For some reason it is now (!) and not while I was in the peaceful confines of the herbalist, that I must eat a Meal or lose 3 Endurance.  I make an executive decision that I can’t exactly use my ‘Hunting’ skill to grab some food, so I get a Meal from my backpack.

There are two entrances to the palace, being either through the kitchens or the ‘trophy hall’.   However, my Sixth Sense / Tracking skills both inform me that the only way to the storage room containing the Oede herb is, in fact, through the ‘trophy hall’.

And that is where I leave you, with a promise of another entry before Christmas.

Base Stats : CS : 17, E : 20, GC 48

Current Stats : CS : 24(-3 for Limbdeath), E : 26

Weapons : Sommerswerd (+8 CS), Sword

Backpack : 1 Meal, 2 Laumspur potions (+4E), Rope, Tinderbox, Towel (2 spaces)

Special Items : Map, Crystal Star, Shield (+2 CS – CURRENTLY UNUSABLE), Sommerswerd, Padded Waistcoat (+2 E), Chainmail Waistcoat (+4 E) Blue Stone Triangle Pendant, Diamond, Ornate Silver Key, Dagger of Vashna, Black Sash

Kai Rank : Savant

Kai Disciplines : Camouflage, Animal Kinship, Tracking, Hunting, Sixth Sense, Healing, Mind Over Matter, Mindblast (+2CS), Mindshield

Paragraph : 149

11 thoughts on “Shadow on the Sand – Attempt 1, Part 5

  1. The heads on the spikes left quite an impression on me. It wasn’t even the image; it was the thought of decent, innocent men being branded traitors and executed by a corrupt government.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joe’s world building was at its absolute best in this book. While the backstory info was a little unrealistic for Lone Wolf to know, especially since its possible he doesn’t even have Sixth Sense yet, I am willing to overlook that since the info itself really brings Vassagonia to life. The scene with the heads on poles in the square indeed really ups the ante regarding the stakes of this adventure as it illustrates how brutal the new Zakhan is.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “There are two guards on duty and for some reason (!) I somehow ‘know’ that normally there would be twenty guards present at this time.” In the previous section, Lone Wolf says that all guards are around the town looking for you (with that dreadful Maouk)…your lawyer Matteo :D: D

    1. That is true but (and I don’t want to get to worked up about a minor point) this would have been better communicated IMHO by “there are two guards where you would normally expect many more, and this may be due to soldiers being seconded to scour the city for you”. It was the ‘exact’ number of 20 that bugged me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s precedent, too: in Fire on the Water it’s Hunting that enables you to recognize the nutritious fruit on the tree near where you’re washed ashore following the shipwreck.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Technically speaking, since he’s only just moved in the New Zakhan won’t have any emotional attachment to any of the flowers yet. The Head Gardener on the other hand will want blood (excellent fertiliser) and he’s got Weaponskill in Secateurs 😯

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Aside 1:Living on the other side of the world I was both worried and relieved to see police foiling a major terrorism plot in Melbourne. Long may they continue to be on the ball.

    Aside 2 : 8000 pages? I’m so concerned about not wasting paper I’ll even keep used envelopes to write on (and in the shop I’ll use a till receipt until its all gone) and you just went through EIGHT THOUSAND pages in a few days??? I feel like an environmentalist who after years of campaigning to save every drop of petrol and sliver of wood suddenly realises the Sun consumes 600 million tons of hydrogen per second. 8000 pages? I feel … strange.

    Lets go from the oppressive fantasy of conservation to the fantasy of Lone Wolf fighting oppression. (So there’s no misunderstanding, I’m not not implying or thinking that you were wasting paper, my sister is a legal secretary after all).

    Aside 3. C G is definitly missing out in not reading your blog, but it speaks volumns for your workplace relations that she doesn’t have to.

    Aside 4 : Thats enough asides.

    Curiously, I was always stricken with guilt whenever I saw the dead crew as I knew when Mauok ordered the crew hand me over or be executed he wasn’t bluffing. However neither you, T-man or Nym90 seem to have had any such thoughts. Still, like T-man it left a very lasting impression.

    I have never ever thought of your interpretation of Herb-Mistress. I don’t know how much it comes from your warped imagination and how much from your job in Family Law but hats off to you for that one.😂

    The description of the gate guards does seem to go from normally being the Keystone Kops to Laurel and Hardy. And seriously, if the North Gate Guards are open to bribery BUT there’s usually TWENTY of them she should have first directed you to the local money lender instead. Still if the external security is so lax then inside should be a walk in the park.

    P.s. much time was lost by the Ms Delpy distraction, lost but not wasted 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Aren’t the sailors’ heads on pike a result of LW’s actions. Maouk did issue a fair warning to the Vassagonian Navy crew: “Surrender the Kai Lord to me. The Zakhan commands it. Your lives and the lives of all your kin will be forfeit if you disobey this order!”. Since you fled, they were unable to surrender you to Maouk, and were found guilty of treason. The judicial system of Vassagonia is probably harsh by our standards, but the outcome was expected. Since there are only men’s head on the square, I guess their families were spared, probably because of the alleviating circumstances that they only helped you by inaction and not by providing active support to you. See, one could even surmise that they got a fair trial and the opportunity for plea bargaining.

    OK, I can’t really defend their views on justice but Sommerlund’s judicial system seem equally awful, since you can murder innocent Halvorc (chosen out of prejudice) or Viveka (for the 42 crowns she’s carrying) as well as the six town guard just doing their job in Radagorn and basically walk away scot-free because you’re a Nobleman…

    Liked by 1 person

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