Runequest Thursday #17: The Vengeance Song of Itunkala Wind Khan!

Clint Staples

If you read my last post, you might remember that Brightwater was holding its first seasonal market. Generally successful, in that the numerous Praxian tribes did not destroy them, they made a little money, and began to build some relationships with other folk in the region, it was also hampered by the appearance of a strong Lunar war party magicked to the gills and ready to fight. Having talked their way out of that, things began to settle down, until Itunkala rode in, sat down at the inpromptu tavern, and proceeded to drink heroically. 

After hours of heavy drinking, which did nothing to alt the Wind Khan's morose mood or his state of un-inebriation, he began to sing his sorrows.

Now at this point I need to give credit to what inspired this interlude. The very fine fanzine for things Runequest, Hearts in Glorantha, contained a song in Issue 2, itself inspired by a traditional Sioux children's song, by John Harding. I really liked the mood of it, so I altered it slightly to suit my purpose and it became the Trading War Song of Itunkala. So here is my version, with thanks to John Harding for his version, and to traditional beliefs of the Sioux indigenous people.

 

Itunkala’s Trading War Song

Ho Wahani! Ho Endrawaha! Friends it has come to pass…

Ash stripes on my face I crave; Blue Sable slaves I crave, the end of

Igmu I crave.

Itunkala , on the raiding trail I ride, Wind Khan of the Warpath.

Behold my steed Washin the bull,

Behold me Itunkala on stomper, snorter, Eiritha’s son! Washin!

Me a man myself riding, me, Itunkala of the Flower Bison, first in war!

Friends, a bone sword I carry to slash my foes, a stone spear I carry to

pierce them.

A sword to cut Igmu of the Blue sables: a spear to pierce the madmen.

Gagarthi, with sword I am coming; Gagarthi, with a spear I am coming:

In a warlike manner I ride!

Igmu your mounts I crave,

Igmu your women I crave,

Blue Sables! Slaves you will be, or fodder!

Friends, The War Trail has glory enough to share,

Who will ride the Black Wind, reap the Sables,

Who will bury them under boulders, confuse their souls,

Who will avenge Wahani, Who Eirithani or Endrawaha!?

Bloody the ground, send them home on the trail of souls,

Sable souls will light their way.

 

When some of the heroes of Brightwater heard the song, they were intrigued [especially the Orlanthi among them]. When the Wind Khan called on them to aid in his quest, he threw arm rings of silver onto the tables, to buy mounts for any who would follow who were afoot. This was the clincher for many of the heroes, who agreed to follow the Khan. Ughari, the Aurochs shaman among them, attempted to speak to the spirits of Itunkala's wives, who harangued him in the spirit world, but they were little more than shades, with nothing of their persona remaining. The other nomads told him of the doomed, accursed Wind Khan, who has led four previous vengeance parties to their deaths against Igmu, Lord of Wind Hunt, a cannibal and murderer who, scorning the normal strictures of nomad life, devoted himself to Gagarth, the Wild Hunter, daemon of the Upper Air. 

But Ughari's reticence was overpowered by the other heroes, and they went with Itunkala anyway.

Igmu has been aware of Itunkala's quest for revenge, and placed obstructions in his path. Great dust storms blasted them driving them off course or into shelter, steppes ghouls burst from the roiling obfuscation. After trekking into the shadow of Vasala Mountain, the seat of Gagarth's ancient power, the heroes and Itunkala faces Igmu, his band of cannibal cultists, and the Whirlvishes that attend him (stats for the steppes ghouls appear in a pdf attachment to this post and you can find the write-up for the Whirlvish here).A few days ago, I posted the first part of this quest, upon which the Heroes of Brightwater ventured, to aid the Orlanthi runelord Itunkala in his vengeance against the murderer and cannibal Igmu of the Blue Sables, Lord of the Wild Hunter. After a grueling day traveling the scorching wasteland of Prax in high summer, Itunkala led them, through dust storms and steppes ghouls, to the foot of Vasala Mountain, ancient seat of the Wild Hunter's power.

Here they confronted Igmu and his cannibal tribesmen.

As the heroes neared, everyone began casting spells of war, Bladesharp to quicken the edges of the blades, Protection to enhance their armor. Itunkala asked if any would accept the gift of Fanaticism spells, which would aid them in the fight, at the expense of caution. Many accepted. The Khan kept his Berserker spell for himself, should he need it. When they were ready, the warband charged.

Igmu, secure in his place of power, waited. But he was not unprepared.

The chargers closed, only to be blasted by another dust storm fiercer than the ones before. Out of its whirling clouds flew whirlvishes, spirit blades slashing, tearing away armor and flesh. The heroes faced them, cutting down the spectral things, whose essence could be disturbed by weapons, but who can never truly be slain. The Khan, sparing none of the power he had hoarded against his cause, called upon a storm of his own to sweep away the dust-devil. Orlanth, God of Winds, had gifted the canny old warrior with powerful elemental aid, and the dust storm and the dust warriors, were cast aside.

The way to Igmu, who sat upon a dead mule, bloody-handed, appeared clear! The charge of Itunkala's vengeance band resumed.

And was halted by the tempest steed, who slammed them with a wall of wind that stopped even the massive Washin, war-aurochs of the Wind Khan, in their tracks. Cannibal cultists plagued them cutting at mounts and riders alike, In past encounters, it had been the tempest steed that had frustrated the Itunkala's vengeance, destroying his warriors or sweeping its master away to safety. This time, Itunkala called upon his master, Orlanth, to aid him. Orlanth heard his cry, and blasted away the wall of wind, revealing the tempest steed itself, that had been hidden in its depths.

As the more warlike leapt again to the attack, Ughari peered at the eldritch creature, saw the binding mark upon it, and saw a way to unravel it. A desperate struggle erupted between the savage, jagged-toothed, wildmen, and the attacking riders. Efrodir, from the unfamilar seat of his new aurochs, clove with his keen Humakti sword. Zoe, thrown back by a swift attack, loosed her crossbow into the heart of another killing the madman instantly. Wyrmhere, longsword cutting and salamander scorching, cleared a space for the heroes to push onward. Sayyid slashed and hammered as she maneuvered her mount through the press of maniacs, making for their master, who appeared to be working some magic from his place atop the dead mule.

Many outdistanced the cannibals, which left them to Efrodir's tender mercies. He spun this way and that, hewing limbs and bleeding from several wounds, as the others surged ahead with the Khan. Ughari saw the fault in the Tempest Steed's binding rune, and undid it with a howl of triumph. The creature immediately transformed into a huge whirlwind, and soared skyward, free of its bondage.

Sayyid was first to reach Igmu, who gave up whatever imprecation he had been making to his savage god, swept up his hewing spear, and impaled the Grazelander's horse in the chest. The beast went down, all but dead, its rider leaping clear with fluid grace to round on the enemy khan. An exchange of blows as Sayyid attempted to close past the reach of the spear, and she backed away, badly wounded.

Itunkala, on his faithful bull aurochs, Washin, charged past the injured Sayyid. A short duel of incredible skill played out between the two weapon-masters as the Heroes of Brightwater closed to aid the Khan of Orlanth. But itunkala buried his Bonesword in the skull of the wild khan, killing him instantly.

Moving out of exposition ...

By the time all of that occurred it was 1:30 AM. I thanked everybody for sticking out a long session, but people were pretty fully engaged. Me for sure. I had lost all track of time during the battle.

Attached to this post are statblock docs for Itunkala Wind Khan and his war-aurochs Allied Spirit Washin, and another for Igmu Wild Khan, the Tempest Steed and the Cannibal cultists.

Itunkhala is shown with the his POWer at its pre-divine-intervention amount. Smashing the Tempest Steed's dust storm and allowing the charge ot continue cost him 6 permanent POW, so he would be at POW 9 now. This technically means he is not a Wind Khan anymore, but he calls that a fair deal for sending his wives spirits on to Eiritha before they were lost entirely. In time, perhaps he will revier enough power to regain his former status.

The tempest steed, as you will see, is not a creature of the Wild Hunter, but it is a powerful wild spirit of the Upper Air, so many people confuse the two. As soon as its binding sigil was undone, it left, which should tell you something about how it felt in Igmu's service.

The Cannibals are statted to be played either with hit locations, or more as flunkies> In which case, they don't track Hit Locations. In that case, they have a major wound number, in the lower part of the statblock. If they take a single wound of that amount [after armor] they have taken a serious wound, and may fall or flee depending on the tactical situation.