Okaji and The Ashedo

Source Material for Rolemaster Second Edition

Copyright Brian Potter 1998

Okaji sat beside the embers in the dark tent. Dagral, his king, lay on furs on the far side of the tent. It was three days ago that Dagral had feasted with his uncle, Nehu-tor. That night, both Dagral and Nehu-tor had become ill and fevered. While Nehu-tor recovered the next day, Dagral had not spoken or regained coherence since the fever began. Nehu-tor had declared that one of the servers had tried to poison both men. Nehu-tor had the server run through with a spear and buried head down as a warning to others.

Okaji felt uneasy about Nehu-tor's certainty in this act. Despite Dagral’s past assurances, Okaji had never trusted Nehu-tor. He especially did not trust Nehu-tor’s closest advisor, Za’nag. Okaji had spoken once with a spirit-dog, and it had called Za’nag "day-spirit, night-spirit." He reached over and struck a hollow log beside him. Bukentu, Dagral’s most loyal warrior, stepped into the tent. Good, thought Okaji, Bukentu watches. I will be safe.

"My spirit must walk, Bukentu," Okaji said. "Be doubly alert."

The soldier nodded and stepped back out through the tent door. Okaji sat cross-legged and began a quiet chant. As he did, the dim light of the embers ceased to light his skin, and he became a dark shadow in his furs.

It was the horse-spirit that came to walk with him—a good sign. Okaji and the horse-spirit passed out of the king's tent and walked quietly. The horse wanted to leave the encampment, but Okaji walked slowly to Nehu-tor’s tent. The horse stopped and pawed at the ground, snorting. Okaji began to wonder if the horse was so propitious after all. He looked down and saw a shred of yellow bark in the dirt. It was clearly chedu bark, but what was it doing here? Chedu only grew in the swamps to the north, and it had but one use as far as Okaji knew. Chedu oil would stop a bleeding wound, though it caused great pain and left a scar in the process. Okaji continued to Nehu-tor’s tent, and entered.

The king's uncle sat beside his fire. Across from him sat a young warrior Okaji did not recognize. Nehu-tor was speaking.

"...should pass in the next day. I'm surprised he has lasted this long."

"For some, chedu is slower. But they, too, die after it burns through their gut."

"When he does die, and I declare myself his successor, we may face resistance from Okaji and Bukentu. Neither will dare confront me openly, but their presence could lead to difficulties. I want them taken care of them immediately, you understand."

"Za'nag has arranged to dispose of Okaji. We will send Bukentu out on an errand, and he will have an unfortunate accident on the way. That’s easy enough." As the warrior spoke, he picked up a small stick from the dirt and dropped it into the fire. Okaji saw a single iron band around the man’s wrist as he did this.

Nehu-tor works with the Dark God's minions! Okaji suddenly knew the situation was much worse than he had expected. This proved his fears were more than well founded. Nehu-tor had poisoned the king!

The ar'shabod walked quickly back to Dagral’s tent. His body continued to chant, and slowly his shadow lightened as his spirit returned. When he was done, he quickly reached for the log to summon Bukentu. Okaji could think of only one way to rob Nehu-tor of this prize, and it would require quick action. Dagral could die at any time.

For half the night, Bukentu and six more of Dagral's most loyal warriors had been digging in the woods, under the partial moonlight. As they dug, Okaji searched the forest around them. Occasionally, he would stop and examine their work, giving some instructions before walking off again. Finally, they were finished. They had created a small chamber within the hill. A short crawlway led out one side.

Okaji, Bukentu, and the others sat in a circle in the small, earthen cave. It was barely large enough for them to sit erect, but they did. The warriors all wore armor and helms. Their steel scimitars lay across their knees. Okaji sat before the tunnel entrance, with Bukentu on his left.

No one spoke as Okaji placed a small pile of leaves and bark in the middle of the floor. He then held up a black feather from a raven and chanted quietly, striking his fingers on his knee as he did so. He handed the feather to Bukentu, who calmly pushed the sharpened quill into his wrist-vein as Okaji chanted and the others looked on. Bukentu then passed the quill to his left, and each warrior in turn repeated his actions. Okaji stopped chanting when the feather returned to him. He laid it on the leaves and bark, then sprinkled dirt on the pile. He spoke again, just two words, then turned and crawled out of the chamber. Behind him, no one moved. No one breathed. No heart beat. He rolled a large stone over the tunnel entrance and walked back to the camp as the sun rose.

The warriors were dead, sent to the spirit-world to protect the soul of their king. They would stand guard over his dying body, and once he died, tell him what had happened. Once Dagral died, Okaji could return to the cave and bring the warrior spirits back to this world as ghosts, to seek revenge on Nehu-tor, Za'nak, and their allies. All he need do is bring their swords out from beneath the ground.

There was nothing Okaji could do to save Dagral's life. He would continue to watch over his king, and when he died, Okaji would accuse Nehu-tor of murder, in public. Then if Okaji died, Nehu-tor would be suspected. And if Okaji lived, he would return to the forest and release the warrior’s spirits to exact revenge for the murder of their king. Either way, Dagral’s spirit would have protectors and Nehu-tor’s kingship would fail.

Dagral did not die for two more days. The night after the ritual in the forest, Okaji died while sitting watch over the king. Everyone presumed it was grief and exhaustion, for the ar'shabod had not slept or eaten in five days. Okaji was not alive to confront Nehu-tor, and he never released the warrior’s spirits.

Ashedo (Sentinel Spirits)

 

Type I

Type II

Level

4C

7C

Base Rate

75

75

Max Pace/MN Bonus

Spt/10

Spt/10

Speed MS/AQ

MF/MF

MF/MF

Size/Crit

M#

LA#

Hits

70D

100D

AT (DB)

1 (35)

1 (30)

Attacks

55We/40MBa/Special

70We/60MBa/Special

# Enc

1–10

1–10

Treasure

k

k

Bonus EP

C

D

Outlook (IQ)

Protect (AV)

Protect (AV)

Ashedo (singular and plural) are the souls of individuals who have died voluntarily during a special ritual so that they could then serve as guardians or servants for someone or something important. As such, an ashedo always has some purpose that he pursues. Though he is technically Undead (Class II or III), he is not intrinsically evil (and as such is not normally subject to the special attack of Holy weapons). His disposition is as it was in life—unless he has gone insane during the transformation ritual; there is a 5% chance of this happening, and an insane ashedo will attack anyone and everyone he can.

When an ashedo is created, it always has a weapon specially attuned to it. This may be any weapon the individual used in life. An ashedo can only wield its own personal weapon and will never go more than 50 feet from it. If a living person has mastered the weapon (see below) and the ashedo has the weapon, the spirit will remain within 50 feet of the master. The weapon, along with any physical remains of the body, serves as the spirit's focus. Only if both weapon and remains are destroyed will the ashedo be truly slain. An otherwise dead ashedo will recover from damage or injuries like any other Undead creature.

An ashedo can drain Constitution either with its direct touch or through its weapon. Unlike other forms of Undead, however, the ashedo has conscious control over this power and can choose not to drain someone. An ashedo has no substance under sunlight, even overcast or diffuse. In darkness, it can become corporeal or noncorporeal at will. Once it changes state, it cannot change back until half an hour has passed, or it has been "slain."

When more than one ashedo are created at once, one of them will be a leader to the others. This leader is more powerful than the others and has some control over the other ashedo in its group. This means that if someone wielding its weapon brings the leader under control, an ally of the wielder who tries to control another ashedo in the group gets a +25 to his control roll.

Each ashedo has a focal weapon. This weapon belonged to the person in life, and may have been a normal or magical weapon. As the focus of an ashedo, the weapon qualifies as magical for purposes of causing damage or Detection magic. The weapon also has a will. If a wielder overpowers the will, he or she may control or command the ashedo.

To determine a weapon's will, add the Self-Discipline, Reasoning, Presence, Intuition, and Empathy stat bonuses and racial bonuses of the person who became the ashedo. Add to this another 15 for regular ashedo or 25 for leader ashedo (this reflects the fact that not only is the weapon "intelligent," it has an actual soul bound to it and as such is much harder to overpower than most other self-willed items). Any will the weapon had before it became associated with the ashedo is added to this roll as well.

If a will contest roll (item roll – character roll + 50 if ashedo is insane – 25 for controlled leader weapon) exceeds +25, the spirit will attack the character. If the weapon is not in the character's hand, the ashedo will wield it. If the contest roll falls between –25 and +25, the ashedo will neither serve nor attack the wielder. A will contest roll of –25 or less indicates that the wielder has mastered the weapon, and the ashedo will serve him. If the purposes of the ashedo and wielder coincide, they may be true allies. Otherwise, the ashedo will serve unwillingly.