Question from TODD GARDINER. Answer by Greg Stafford. Published 1st Feb 2000
Q: What is the story of Tada’s High Tumulus? Since a “tumulus” is a mound grave, it is implied that this is a created feature of enormous proportion. Is the ancestor spirit of Tada contacted there regularly? Is it a pilgrimage stop for migrating shamans? And how is it used during the Hero Wars?
A: Tada’s High Tumulus is exactly as you said: it is the burial mound of Tada, the wily superhero of Storm Age Prax. It is a sacred place for the Praxians, though rarely visited because it is one of the taboo Giant Places.
Tada was a handsome and well-loved hero who stood at the side of Genert, a great giant that ruled in the earliest creation. Tada became a warrior to fight chaos and threw back many foes before he was slain by Ragnaglar. Tada was buried under a mountain-sized memorial mound, and if you don’t think he was a giant just look at the size of the tumulus: almost two thousand feet of piled dirt and rocks.
Actually, the parts that were found were buried, for Tada was torn to bits. Some parts were lost forever, others were saved by ancient folks and are still found among the tribes in Prax. These prehistoric parts are called the Grisly Portions, and though many are said to exist, only four are known to be real. They are his leadwood club, the wind sandals, lion skin cloak and battle mask. These artifacts are actually his hand, feet, skin, and face preserved by their own great magical power. They also show Tada’s huge stature, for the battle mask is as high as two men, and the leadwood club is so heavy that it takes dozens of strong men to move it. A fifth Grisly Portion, Tada’s Loincloth, is said to hold the fertility of Prax, and is the most frequently reported other portion. It has not been seen or reported since before the Dawn.
The Tumulus is a very strong spirit power spot. It is relatively easy to enter the Spirit Plane there. That is its main value to shamans, and also makes it a threat to ordinary people who go there, since they might find themselves accidentally in the Other World.
Shamans can obtain armies at the Tumulus. Tada’s armies were buried after him in the lesser mounds called the Sleeping City Hills. If the right ceremonies are performed at Assembly Rock, certain promises made, and the blood of bulls shed, then a spirit army can be summoned from the mounds. They come from the Spirit Plane through the Tumulus, stay for a while, and disperse when the fight is done. Although many different peoples followed Tada, four in particular are remembered as the ones who carried the Grisly Portions, and these are the most common spirit armies called in legend. They are the Copper People, Aldryami Lords, Longears, and Earth Knights.
The only living descendants of Tada today are the sorry Oasis Folk, and none of the Praxians believe their claims of former glory. They are generally ancestor worshippers, but do not often get to travel. Thus, the Tumulus is not a big place for ancestors.
Prophecies say that Tada himself will be awakened if his Grisly Portions are taken atop the Tumulus at the right time, and if the right sacrifice is made. His great armies will accompany him, and an entire nation of folk will appear to help him. His appearance will mark a return of the Green Age in Prax, and perhaps in the whole Wastes.
We do not know exactly how this will affect the Hero Wars.
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