I mean really. D'y ever get a straight answer out of any of them?
Just about everything they say is either bullshit or flowery hippie talk. Their chief gods are the Elephant Man and Skeletor. They've got cannibals who file their teeth. And they have sorcerers and thieves out the wazoo. Three competing death cults. It's like Stygia with even more dope, but at least they bathe occasionally in Khitai.
There is one single solitary explanation for everything from their architecture to their religions.
It's everywhere over there and in everything. Probably the food. There is an entire forest out there filled with crazed animals who got into the dope and now wander around out of their skulls and ready to attack anything that moves.
(xpost from guild forum, where Grignette's Khitai dispatches appear periodically)
Before I was a barbarian, my momma didn't know what to make of me, so she sent me off to a bear shaman to see if he could train me. Spent two weeks there doing odd jobs, when one evening he sits a plate full of toadstools in front of me and tells me to eat them.
I retched for about an hour and started feeling real strange. He sends me into the woods and tells me to find my animal spirit guide. I was gone for four days. Don't remember any of it. A hunting party found me, three quarters naked, in a tree. They eventually take me back to the bear shaman, who pulls a bunch of porcupine quills out of my hide. That's when the memories start coming back, and it ain't pretty. He said I'd been bit or scratched by at least five different kinds of animal. Said he thought one was a crocodile, and they're scarce in Cimmeria. Then he just says "it looks like you and the animals are going to have to go your separate ways."
I guess that hippie one with nature crap just didn't work on me. I did learn something important, though. Dope is bad, unless you really like wrestling porcupines. Which is why this Khitai place kind of weirds me out.
I thought these Hyrkanians were the least ... addled guys on the plain. Probably still are. They ride horses, WHICH IS WHAT PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO RIDE, DUH!
But this evening, one of them tells me that I need to go recruit an ally. This guy is out wandering in the fields. He says he loves the wolves.
OK, another one.....
But even if this seems to be an unlikely recruit, he tells me he'll sign on with us and against the other sodden pack of wolf fans if I kill this mama bear that's been mean to the wolves. Huh? So anyways there's this HUGE freakin' bear in a hollow. I attack it a couple times and run away a couple times. I finally go to the top of the den and spoink it with some arrows. Making it try to charge up a straight vertical put enough damper on its DPS that I was able to kill the damned thing.
Don't tell Ursa.
The Hyrkanians have me hunting snakes, tigers, and wolves for food. So they're just as addled as the rest. I'm eating in Chosain tonight.
OK. Food in Khitai. You know it's strange and mostly bad, and you never know if it is going to have bits of snake or wolf or leopard in it. There's one place you should know about, though.
You have to be pals with the Tamarin Tigers guys, who are crazier than most people over there but at least they don't hang around with ugly smurf demons. You go to their mess hall, and there's this soup they have. It's got black mushrooms and bamboo in it, and lots of red and black pepper, and vinegar, and bits of egg, and it's made with some kind of pork stock. At least, I think it's pork. Hard to tell with all the spices. If you gotta eat in Khitai, this is the place to go.
So, uh, the Last Legion is supposed to be the military over here or something. Now the sorcerers and dope crazed critters might be scary, but we don't have much to fear from the army.
I'm supposed to help defend a town against a mounted assault. I am issued a squad of pikemen. So far so good. Now I ain't Conan, I ain't a general, but I do know that when pikemen are facing a cavalry charge, the right thing to do is to plant your weapon and stay in close formation. These idiots can't do it. No cohesion at all. Every one of them wants to be a hero, and wanders away after an individual rider.
I'm forced to set point for these bozos, apparently, and run back to the group: the only way they'll stay together is if I draw the notice of the enemy first. If they stay together they win; but there's always one bozo or another that wants to give chase and gets himself killed.
No wonder the barracks reek of blue lotus, same as everywhere.
I thought I was on to something for a bit. The Elephant cult had some odd jobs for me. Removing dead bodies from a lake, where the priests of Skeletor want to pollute it. Also gave me a bottle of something that was supposed to purify lotus flowers growing in Testicleville. There were a bunch of people in their hospital who were apparently really out of their skulls on something. Turns out a Yun priest comes in dressed as a character from their hallucinations. Well, that's one less.
But when you get to Chosain, it's back to what you expect. Frail old lady sends me to this herbalist dude in search of the elixir of life. He has me picking a bunch of posies and other oddments in the woods. Thought I could do that, until he wanted me to get Kappa claws or some such crap. Heraclea says the Kappas are easy, but I think she's talking about something else. These things are like those horny toad turtle things. They must remove the glands of the tame ones or something, because the wild ones stink something terrible. At any rate, after many false starts and bare escapes, I manage to collect them. I take them back to this herbalist.
He tells me the elixir of life is tea. He thinks he's funny. He's just another stoned grifter like all the rest. I know what that slang means.