Shades of the Blade by Darron Patton

Shades of the Blade by Daron Patton
Koraffo stared at the Khad’dan buried deep in Ulkunk’s amorphous corpse. He was the sole survivor now. Why hadn’t he simply refused to follow the human female’s orders? Why didn’t matter any more. The Hir-Kal would be coming for him next. Then it could rest again. The Yazirian sighed then dropped his blaster belt and blaster to the deck. Lasers would be no use against such a phantom. According to legend nothing was. The hissing song of his Khad’dan being swiftly drawn from its sheathe echoed down the silent passageway. If an ancient evil wanted his life, it would have to pass through ancient steel to take it. ________________________________________

The morning rays of an unnamed star glinted off the ablative hull of the privateer, Prodigal Sun as she lifted slowly into the air. In less than a quarter hour, Sun had cleared the thin atmosphere of the likewise nameless planetoid the team had spent two days exploring. Within an hour, the ship was already building up velocity for the first void-hop back home.

In a second-hand acceleration couch, Koraffo absentmindedly fidgeted with his holster. His mouth cycled through tight-lipped, barely contained anger to purse-lipped contemplation, back to anger. Pop. Close. Pop. Close. Pop. “Will you cut that out,” Marsha Teak said staring back at him from the pilot’s seat. Her seething glare cut through any veneer of civility the two had managed to maintain to this point. “We are taking these artifacts back to base and that’s that. No more discussion. You read me, ‘Raff?”

“Loud and clear,” The Yazirian’s lips curled back to show sharp canines and he flared his nostrils in open contempt of Teak’s decision to continue on in what Koraffo felt was nothing less than tempting the gods. Ulkunk, the Dralasite astrogator/engineer/every other free position on the ship, burbled for a moment. “Perhaps we should reconsider, Captain. After all, disturbing graves isn’t standard even for Streel Corp.”

Teak looked at her second-in-command, a nonplussed expression pasted on her face. She pulled her three-barred rank insignia from her collar and held them out to the Dral. “Perhaps you should call, T’keec up here and make it a unanimous mutiny, Ulk.”

The blob blustered at the accusation. “No one said anything about mutiny, Captain. I was simply pointing out--"

“Listen, Gentle-beings. For better or worse, I am the skipper on this little bag of bolts and what I say goes. The Executive VP has a thing for collections and he wants anything unusual we run across. I’d rate those ancient Yazzie grave-sites back there as unusual, wouldn’t you?”

“Well, yes, but--"

“Like I just told our simian muscle-boy here, it’s not open to discussion. Not another gods-damned word about it. From anyone!”

No one knows what happened to the crew of Prodigal Sun. When she was recovered, all four of the crew had been killed by various grizzly means. The human female captain had been strangled by some sort strap. The Vrusk male archaeologist was dissected into component anatomical sections, joint by joint. Several deep stab wounds were found in the Dralasite neuter’s cadaver.

Circumstantial evidence points to the crew’s only Yazirian member, Koraffo except his remains massed less than four kilograms when recovered, though it all seems to be present based on proportional analysis. Piracy is one possible explanation, but why would pirates leave a perfectly functional ship floating derelict? Strangely the only thing missing from the ship’s manifested cargo was a crate listed simply as artifacts. Perhaps no one will really ever know what happened aboard this ship.

The Hir-Kal (Clan Shadow) is a venerable legend among the Yazirians. Protectors of their masters’ graves, these spiritual beings supposedly wreak vengeance on any foolish enough to disturb a Yazirian warrior’s tomb. According to myth, the Hir-Kal are creatures of living darkness, taking their very substance from the absence of light. From gnawtoki cats to Yazirian nightbirds, they are said to be capable of changing form, passing through walls like a Khad’dan through water.

Accounts of Hir-Kal attack say that the only way to survive witnessing a Hir-Kal’s fury is to not be the offending party. Other than simple innocence in the offending act, Yazirian folk history cites no known defenses against these shade creatures.

Adventure Hook #1: The crew of Prodigal Sun discovered a hastily made grave for a Yazirian warrior and looted the ornate weapons and equipment that had been laid to rest with his remains. The PCs could stumble on a similar find complete with several nearly irresistible items of great value. Will they respect the dead and leave the tomb undisturbed or will they try to make off with the valuables? A Hir-Kal or events the PCs could ascribe to a Hir-Kal might just follow them should they disturb the slumbering warrior.

Adventure Hook #2: The PCs are part of a starship crew that finds a jettisoned crate marked Streel Corp Cargo (control number:189AA8293:archaeological artifacts) floating out in the middle of nowhere. Shortly after the crate is brought aboard, strange things begin happening aboard ship. Accidents, system failures, maybe even a death. Has the Hir-Kal come aboard with the relics?

Adventure Hook#3: A frantic and sleepless looking Ifshnit merchant offers to sell one of the PCs a pea-sized black crystal that he claims came from an ancient Yazirian Khad’dan. He offers to sell the gem for a fraction of its worth. Strange behavior for an Ifshnit especially one with a rare ebony emerald; is the stone stolen or does he have another reason for wanting to part with it?