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The Journal of Zong-Tossu, Entry 8 - The Island of the Pariahs

This is the journal of Zong-Tossu, a master ghav-urath (life-shaper) from the Rhul-thaun capital of Thamasku. Zong-Tossu was sent by the har-etuil (judgment-makers) along with a detachment of junior life-shapers and lawkeepers to investigate a mysterious ring of standing stones and the strange creatures said to occasionally appear within. The expeditionary force was accompanied by a thri-kreen emissary known as Cho’ka.

Having crossed the Predator Sea - one of the shallow seas of Guthay - Zong-Tossu, the surviving members of his group, and their chitine captors float just offshore of the Island of the Pariahs.

A NOTE FOR READERS: The journals of Zong-Tossu, though fascinating, should not be taken as accurate. Even though he was considered a great ghav-urath, eventually many of his writings were dismissed as the products of severe psychosis by the ruling council of Thamasku and simply regarded as fiction or parody. It was rumored Zong-Tossu had a mental breakdown caused by his usage of the narcotic cam-rahn.

With the Island of the Pariahs in sight, the chitine rounded up Cho’ka, myself, and the other Rhul-thaun back upon the raft and sailed away from the sea-bourne colossi, seeking to make landfall. Far fewer of us sailed for the island than had set out on the Predator Sea - two of the spider-folk warriors had fallen, and a ghav-urath and two vher-etuils had been lost from our original expedition, all slain during the previous night’s isopod attack. As our craft maneuvered towards the island, one of the chitine moved among us, binding our arms with webbing once again. As it did so, it chittered quietly and Cho’ka translated: “He apologizes for binding his ‘little blade-brothers’ like this, but says custom demands you be bound when presented to the ‘star children’.” I could only nod at the chitine’s show of sympathy.

When we finally landed on the marshy beach, the chitine walked us towards the center of the island, where a mesa could be seen to rise. The beach was covered with pleasantly teal grass and the stands of bamboo were set back quite a way from the water’s edge. The journey through the island’s jungle was neither long nor difficult, and we arrived at the towering mesa quickly. When we arrived, the spider-folk motioned for us to sit upon the ground and then produced a low, rhythmic thrumming in unison, much like they had back at their village. After what seemed like an eternity of watching the chitine perform this unnerving orchestra, the chorus suddenly ceased when a host of strange entities appeared from a nearby cave.

I could only assume these beings were the namesakes of this island - the Pariahs: they seemed to come in all shapes and sizes, assembled from the same basic body shape and parts as a Rhul-thaun, but without any kind of plan. Some were great brutes with three or more arms or legs, while others seemed to have overly-large heads and somewhat atrophied bodies, with the smaller ones riding in baskets upon the backs of their larger kin. Some of the creatures had only one eye, while others had many; some walked on powerful arms but had atrophied legs; one even had an arm-like stalk in place of a neck, complete with several disturbing joints. Strangely enough, this misshaped congregation of brutes and pygmies seemed strangely familiar - though their bodies bore many mutations, they seemed to have faces similar to ours but somewhat more flat, with great blunt teeth, flatter noses, and more angular features. They felt somehow like distant kinfolk, like a reflection of ourselves but looking back at us with strange faces and broken bodies.

One of the largest brutes walked up to our group, and bowed its head low. It had three arms and one leg, and walked with a strange ape-like ambulation - moving forward on its stronger side. Riding on its back was what appeared to be a small child with the face of an elderly person and six eyes in two columns of three. The child-like rider looked upon us and spoke in a voice most strange, both high and low-pitched at once in an unsettlingly discordant manner. Most confusingly, this rider spoke a dialect of our own tongue, albeit a heavily corrupted one. He asked us: “Who are you that has come to the Island of the Wrongly Formed? You bring our ancestral foes upon us, they who are known to us as the chitine. Though we are having a tentative peace, we must still perform a ritual battle every time we meet. I am known as Oracle. I guide our people, and would know who you are. But first, we must bring out the beasts for the ritual combat with our ancestral enemies.”

At this, Oracle’s brute clapped its mighty hands and two large, heavy-set reptilian predators (which we later named ‘island gorgonopsids’) were brought out. A chitine had its arms tied behind its back and had a reptilian predator tied to its front with a hemp rope; meanwhile, a brutish Pariah was similarly tied up and lashed to a reptilian predator. The ritual warriors then began to circle each other as the snapping predators lunged, trying to bite at each other.

As the ritual battle progressed, the warriors frequently circled each other, often defensively side-stepping an attack or lungeing at the other to let the vicious predators bite at each other or the opposing warrior. This dance of death lasted for several moments until the Pariah brute lunged forward obviously, allowing the chitine to side-step perfectly and then counter, surging forward with its gorgonopsid to rip out the throat of the opposing gorgonopsid, ending the battle. The chitine were declared the victors and both gorgonopsids were swiftly put out of their misery. Food and water were brought out - the food being the roasted gorgonopsids - and a great celebration was held.

The next morning, Oacle led our group and the chitine warriors back to the beach, where supplies of food and fresh water were being loaded onto the raft. The spider-folk embraced us as warriors and one of them chittered and Cho’ka once again translated: “They wish us, their ‘blade-brothers’, well on our journey.” I nodded in thanks and asked Cho’ka to return the thought, wishing the chitine well on their long voyage home. They mounted their raft and, with a last hesitant glance, the spider-folk set back off upon the Predator Sea. Once they had left, Oracle turned to me and said “Zong Tossu, Tr’Shadai, Cho’ka - you have been long-expected. You must come with us, deep within the bowels of this island, to a sacred place where we shall consult the Dervish Octopus.” Tr’Shadai and Cho’ka both looked at me, waiting for my decision; I turned my shocked gaze to Oracle and could only nod in agreement to his offer; we would meet this Dervish Octopus.