Part Three, On Betik, Province of the Book
A prominent province indeed, Betik is well known as one of the greatest provinces of the entire Mharoti Empire. The road from Qiresh to Betik runs some 550 miles through high passes of the Dragoncoil. Yet this is not a hard journey as well-appointed hostels and waystations dot the trade road. Once clear of the peaks, the land opens to pleasant valleys, scattered with lakes and rivers. The slopes are so richly verdant that all the flocks from far around are brought here to graze in the summer and never run out of pasture. Here, they make the best buckram in the world but are best known for their arcane arts. Betik is home to the Hidden University and colleges devoted to the six traditional schools (literature, alchemy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology). Let me also tell you that high above the provincial capital rests the cloud city of Ashadar, once one of the famed flying cities of Sikkim but long ago captured by the might of the golden wind dragon, Morza Parsis.
The people of Betik are by and large mostly dragonkin, kobolds, drakes, and subservient humans. I can tell you that never before have I found a more literate people. Even the common ox drover not only reads and writes but can hold discourse on topics both common and esoteric. A scholar by the name of Sipars, despite being a man in love with the sound of his own voice, revealed to me a local marvel close by the route I was to travel.
The Skein of Ahnni
To the northeast, beyond a spur of the Dragoncoil, the road runs near to the ruins of Ahnni. I will now describe to you this place of wonder as it was related to me. Once called the City of a Hundred Churches, the long renowned and magnificent Ahnni was destroyed in a single night by some mysterious cataclysm. The very earth itself opened its maw and swallowed the city whole. Now, only the highest towers of Ahnni’s churches can be seen, jutting up from the ground as if a forest of shattered battlements. It is said by those brave enough to enter and descend into those towers that the whole city remains mostly intact below the earth. But since most who venture thus do not return, those subterranean streets must be inhabited by fell creatures.
Of the many rumors I heard concerning Ahnni, there is one I will relate below. It concerns a great treasure said to be housed in that fallen place.
Msaker, the Devouring Maul
Aura strong necromancy; CL 15th; Slot none; Weight 14 lb.
The red-iron head of this +1 wounding earth breaker resembles a draconic head grinning with sharp teeth. Unlike other earth breakers, this relic has an improved critical hit range of 18–20/×3.
Upon a confirmed critical hit, Msaker opens its jaws and tears a chunk out of the stricken foe. This deals an extra 2 points of bleed damage, which stacks with any other bleed damage inflicted by this weapon. Additionally, the physical damage to the foe imparts further penalties depending on the area of the body Msaker hits.
Legs −10 speed penalty
Arms −2 to hit
Body Sickened condition
Head Dazed for 1 round, 20% chance of dazed each round thereafter.
Bleeding damage can be stopped with a successful DC 15 Heal check or by any spell that cures hit point damage. The effects of Msaker’s bite lasts for 1 hour or can be removed with the application of a second healing spell if the caster overcomes Msaker’s CL in an opposed caster level check.
If a spellcaster casts a food creation spell of 5th level or higher (such as heroes’ feast) on Msaker, with a successful opposed caster level check, the hunger of Msaker is sated forever, and it becomes a normal +1 earth breaker.