Dark Sun: The Karsto Campaigns

E16: Into the Prophet's Citadel (part 1)
The party enters the expansive aging citadel immediately north of Gigus.

Echoes of dwarven generations long dead appear in their ancient divination circles and altar rooms. The occasional dwindled carcass of reptilian beasts litter the checkered rose taupe stone floors, which are caked in dust and debris. The Citadel’s chambers lay in ruin, and the only inhabitants seem to be unintelligent beasts that have used the place for shelter.

The first level of the Prophet’s Citadel

Entering the aged citadel through a large fissure in the perimeter’s wall, the party finds themselves in an unused altar room. A sculpture of a rigid face stands upon the altar, sheathed in a permanent divine flame. Investigation of the statuette reveals it was used for rituals, and is likely a dwarven representation of the primordial Kol-Tukulkg, a being rumored of granting fire to the Tablelands.

The group sifts through old bed quarters, which appear to have been barracks for acolyte priests.

The group presses on to enter a very large circular chamber, that is supported by many tall pillars. Two large serpents appear to have nested in the room, and the party deals with the beasts to move through the chamber freely (fight was probably less epic than it should have been).

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E15: The Jagged Crags
The party docks their silt skiff in an enclosed alcove on the edge of the island of Ledo, and venture into the dangerous giant crags seeking the village of Gigus.

Synopsis

The Cliff Alcove

  • The PCs sail the silt estuary to a very low-traffic area to dock on the island of Ledo
  • The party rests safely for the night in the rugged alcove.
  • When they awaken, Dalamar feels slightly ill, and it appears that Veloc’s spell effects cast weeks ago to temporarily relieve the PCs of their curse are beginning to subside. Dalamar isn’t substantially affected, but his skin becomes pallid and his eye circles appear darkened.
  • The party splits the next morning, leaving Captain Volrouak and Awakanak to guard and tend to his silt skiff while the others (Asis, Dalamar, Hanibaal, and Kathaalis) venture out into The Jagged Crags to search for the village of Gigus.
  • Before the party can exit the natural tunnels behind the alcove, they encounter several people.
  • A Mul by the name of Xhanyon speaks to the PCs, asking if they were part of the merchants they were seeking to trade with.
  • Hanibaal implies that he is an overseer of trade in this area, even though he doesn’t know what Xhanyon is talking about.
  • When the group reveals themselves to be rangers of the Winged Mantles, they ask that they trade with the PCs, who oblige.
  • Back inside the docking alcove, Xhanyon expresses disdain when he realizes the vessel the supposed merchants brought is only a silt skimmer AND the PCs have no flint and not enough water to trade.
  • The Winged Mantles are a bit irritated but willing to exchange information for 500 ceramic pieces when Xhanyon learns that the party is heading through the Jagged Crags to Gigus. This exchange occurs and the party learns of Tuoc, a giant priest of Ovo Cajaka. They also learn that the priest has supposedly placed malicious runes throughout the Crags, and that passage has been disrupted and limited to only a few pathways. They learn that the runes are capable of summoning guardians that are hostile to outsiders.
  • Xhanyon tells the PCs that the giants leader only goes by the title " The Great Ruler of Giant-kind "
  • Hanibaal had already known the leader’s name and that he is a one-eyed giant augmented by divine magic. However, the crag ranger also speaks of a voluminous and old religious center called the Prophet’s Citadel, which still stands below an equally huge tower where the giants’ leader is rumored to reside.
  • The Winged Mantles depart but not before suggesting that they wish not to be sought out or followed.
  • The party respects this wish and allows them to depart before they leave the alcove.

The Jagged Crags

  • The PCs (excluding Capt. Volrouak and his remaining crewman Awakanak) emerge from the tunnel behind the alcove, and stand in a narrow valley in the Crags.
  • The Crags passage is fairly narrow (no more than 20 feet wide in traversable areas), as the rangers said. The party finds a pathway but it’s apparent that at certain points along the way intervention has been placed in the form of collapsed and stacked rocks and mountain faces.
  • Along the way, the party spots a mountain spider waiting very still in a hard-to-reach hole in the side of one of the rock faces after finding a couple dead humanoids in a small dip below.
  • The party also encounters a handful of runes along the pathway to Gigus. The runes appear in narrow chokes, and seem to trigger based on proximity and movement. The runes summoned various-sized earth elemental guardians which immediately attacked the PCs. These guardians were dealt with by the party with blade and spell.
  • Dalamar was able to disable a couple malicious runes.

Gigus

  • The PCs eventually reach the village of Gigus, which appears to be massive stone slab homes and giant embossed rock faces from a distance. They spot huge giants walking throughout the village, some carrying weapons the length of an elf or longer.
  • The group decides to climb a nearby cliff face with rope and attempt to find a flank to approach the village without alerting any of the giants.
  • Kathaalis leads the group through the rocky ridges and along even narrower passages before reaching the base of the Prophet’s Citadel. Hanging very high above the citadel (and partially embedded into one side of a mountainside) is a large tower. Some birds flock around its pinnacle and the rising sun makes the mountain and the tower a partial silhouette.
  • Hanibaal assesses the base citadel, which is large but does not seem to be made for giants.
  • The citadel itself is ancient — centuries old at least — and wracked with crumbly fissures.
  • The PCs spot a large enough crack near the back end of the citadel to crawl through. A single dead tree creeps out of the hole in the exterior.
  • Darkness awaits within.
  • The party enters the gape.

- end -

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E14: Broken Vessel
A halved silt ship lays in ruin in the Estuary, and something strange lies in wake...

to be written…lol

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E13: South Ledopolus
The small dwarven settlement of South Ledopolous offers both safe haven and inherent danger

(to be written)

synopsis: The party trololos

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E12: Reinforcements
The party accompanies a band of trained Wavir mercenaries to relieve the weakened silver mine south of Fort Glamis.
Calls of the frightened mercenaries beckon from within the House Wavir mining camp. By ear, the psionic beasts tear through the mercenaries inside as occasional death rattles are heard. Nataku lays on the ground motionless, and it's not clear whether the mul is alive or dead. The bitter humans that accuse you of being the causing factor in this ravage stand around him, rummaging through his pack and supplies. Before they can get their dirty hands on the mul's stashed possessions, they all seem to answer a call and go rushing back into the camp inside the rock.


6th of Mist, Year of Priest’s Defiance

Discerning the status of the downed water cleric

Dalamar looks back at the scene that took place after he bolted for the desert. A lifeless Nataku is slumped over face-down on the earth’s floor, the mekillot some 20 meters behind him stares slowly at the water cleric. Taking note of the fleeing mercenaries, the elf sneaks back over to his adventuring companion, carefully assessing the situation before investigating the mul close-up. Not seeing any signs of other human mercenaries, Dalamar strides over to Nataku and drags his body to a safe and hidden place beside the rock. The mul’s chitinous plate scrapes up a pile of dirt and dust as he is pulled away by the 6’4" elf. Dalamar looks the mul over, and discovers that he’s still alive, albeit very unconscious. He rounds up the astray crodlu and lifts Nataku onto its back, strapping him on with rope. While Dalamar would never be found riding a beast of burden, he finds the beast very convenient because of the current situation.

Night trek back to Fort Glamis

Dalamar leads the crodlu and its unconscious cargo back to Fort Glamis, using his keen survival skills to avoid dangers and continue in the right direction. The elf’s potion of darkvision still allowing him to see normally in a black-and-white spectrum. Nearly 3 hours pass before the elf and his carry reach the fort. Dalamar witnesses a strange sight of several humanoid figures in the distance standing motionless at the feet of the fort’s pale walls. The people stare up at the wall’s perimeter, where no patrolling mercenaries are found. Dalamar is careful to avoid the fort, and he circles around to the rocky outcrop where the party rested a couple nights before. When he encircles the distance, he hears an unnerving moaning coming from the humanoids, who still never move. The elf holes up in the walled section of the outcrop, and sets up his tent for the water cleric.

7th of Mist, Year of Priest’s Defiance

Dalamar’s camp outside of Fort Glamis

Dalamar sits at watch, paying close attention to the figures that surround the southwest corner of Fort Glamis. The potion wears off, leaving the elf to look on with his low-light vision. A notable contrast between the brightness and acuity the potion granted and the elf’s normal sight are readily apparent, but Dalamar still sees the distant silhouettes standing motionless at the wall.

Nataku’s natural mul resilience enables him to recover from his beat-down faster than any other tableland race would. He becomes conscious not long after the elf sets camp, and through confused and blurred vision sees the elf Dalamar writing in his leather-bound journal with a quill pen. The mul barely seems to remember the immediate events that led up to his awakening. Dalamar explains what happened reservedly, and mentions the problem at the wall of Fort Glamis just over the patchy stretch of desert outside. When questioned further, Dalamar insists that he saved the mul’s life. Nataku casts a wound-healing spell on his cuts and bruises and eventually goes back to rest. When he awakens a few hours later, the elf and mul switch roles. Nataku attempts to watch as best he can, but his vision isn’t anywhere near as acute as Dalamar’s. He braves the darkness, allowing his dilated eyes to loosely scan the outside. He hears the distant cries of wild beasts, and can only barely make out the figures surrounding the fort that the elf spoke of. The crimson sun creeps over the horizon after a few hours, and soon the elf awakens to the quiet and watchful Nataku. The mul says that the figures left sometime in the night, and the gates to the fort have been opened.

Nataku’s conversation with Bryphero

The two agree to part temporarily as Dalamar gathers up the camping gear while Nataku heads inside the fort to speak with Bryphero once again. The water cleric enters the fort and is welcomed as a savior of the water supply. When he requests a talk with the fortmaster, he is granted near-immediate access. Bryphero awaits inside and the two greet each other. The fortmaster looks tired and stressed, but it is unclear whether or not the man has heard the news of the silver mine. Before Nataku can mention anything substantial, the door snaps open and a sweating elven runner stands in the doorway. He frantically delivers the news that the silver mine has been reaved by strange horrific creatures, and that many of the mercenaries were killed in the attempt to fend them off. He says that the beasts are dead but so are a slew of the contracted soldiers.

Bryphero’s entire demeanor changes from bad to worse, and he begins to bark orders at the elf, ordering him to tell Captain Gorda to ready her troops for immediate departure. When the runner leaves, conversation resumes between the distressed fortmaster and Nataku. The water cleric doesn’t mention that he was at the mining camp just hours earlier. Instead, he asks what he can do to assist. Bryphero tells him to get Gorda to round up 30 troops and have them march to the mining camp. Nataku asks the fortmaster of his current mental state, and explains that he might be able to help that as well. Bryphero explains that it’s obviously the current events at the mine causing him great distress, but Nataku sees through the explanation as a red herring and inquires further.

Bryphero’s expedition massacre monologue

Bryphero reveals that he is stressed over an event that took place about 10 days prior. He says that he accompanied an expedition into the mine with several of the mercenaries there and they stumbled upon a crystal cave. When they set climbing rungs down into the cave and descended to scout out the cavern, they were attacked by strange and horrific creatures. The mercenaries attempted to defend themselves and the fortmaster, but the battle was a losing one. Bryphero explains that he fled up the rungs in the cave wall, with the others in tow. The mercenaries couldn’t make it and were dragged back down and killed by the monsters. The fortmaster had to arrange the section to be barricaded and sealed off in case the creatures climbed the wall. He says that he fears the creatures that escaped the mine were the ones leftover from the massacre he witnessed. Nataku assures the fortmaster that he will attempt to get to the bottom of the attacks, and relieve the sundered mining effort. After a written note signed by Bryphero, the mul takes his leave and heads for the mercenary quarters to speak with Captain Gorda.

Assembling the company of House Wavir mercenaries

Nataku departs the Fortmaster’s hall and head’s directly to the mercenary quarters. Once inside, he spots Captain Gorda rounding up a section of her troops. She guides them over with hand signals and makes them check over their gear and supplies. It is apparent that she has already been preparing them for departure. Nataku speaks to the busy captain, giving her Bryphero’s wishes for her to arrange 30 soldiers. She does so, and the band begins to depart. Nataku heads to find Hanibaal. He awaits the human’s long sleep-cycle to be over because there isn’t a sign of the man as soon as Nataku enters the mealhall. Once the bard wakes up, Nataku finds him and reveals what has happened (reservedly). Hanibaal eats his breakfast without any told-you-so’s, and soon departs with the water cleric. The two head for Dalamar’s camp, which is now gathered. The elf is surprised to see a band of mercenaries standing at the gate, and Nataku tells him that he is to accompany him back to the mining camp for a relief effort. The three set out with the band of soldiers. Hanibaal attempts to liven the desert trek with a humming song. He recalls the Ode to the spear soldier, a Balician song of extensive history. However, when the bard begins to hum, he finds that he has forgotten the melody and flubs the tune. Several soldiers look confused and agitated at the bard’s performance (perhaps more confused after hearing his performance in the mealhall the night before). The band of mercenaries continues on, though.

Mining camp relief

Upon arrival to the mines, the mercenary group discovered a more resolved scene than that witnessed by the cleric and the elf earlier that night. The beasts that plagued the mine through the night had been slain and the men of the mining camp were tending to the wounded and dead. Nataku’s desire to help the wounded men kicked in, but he decided they needed to clear their names in the camp, and went to meet with Eldonno. Dalamar was reluctant and shared his feelings of just keeping his head down, but Nataku reminded him of the written clearance of Bryphero that Nataku retrieved before they set out with the army. This relieved Dalamar and also impressed Hanibaal who noted that what ever made the job of clearing their names was well welcomed. Given the conditions of meeting a very tired and very stressed Eldonno, the party’s news of bringing the army and paperwork to clear their name brought relief to the mountain of a man. Eldonno quickly topped off the conversation with the reveal of his desire for the party to fix a broken barricade that cause this whole dilemma in the depths of the silver mine. The party gives a a unanimous decision to help each bearing a different intent. Nataku is eager to help, Dalamar is eager to do what ever it takes to leave, and Hanibaal is eager for the favor the would create. The party quickly sets out into the mining camp to gather resources for the new task. Nataku asked how they should proceed and asked if there was a way he could spend some time with the wounded, Hanibaal says yes and he will come get him when the preparations were ready. Hanibaal then talks to Captain Gorda about taking some troops down into the mine with them seeing how the camp was now safe, and she agreed for Hanibaal to lead 7 men. Hanibaal follows this up by asking around the camp for the man with the most experience of the mine. He is turned to Domtwag the chief coordinator of the mine. Hanibaal requests Domtwag’s to accompany them down and asks for him to bring a man that knows most about the barricade and can handle himself in case of a fight. When Domtwag shows reluctance Hanibaal informs him that he is under order of Eldonno, who gave Hanibaal right to solve this problem and Domtwag has no choice in the matter. A few minutes later, Domtwag has shown up with a man refered to as Greenshield who bears the same look of concern and disapproval as Domtwag. Hanibaal greets them and alerts the troops, Dalamar, and Nataku that they were ready to depart. The large group entered the sealed mine ready to challenge what ever waves of enemies dare threaten them, but the tension quickly broke upon the deep sighs of relief from Domtwag when they realized there were none. The group encountered no threats during their trek to the barricade, and when they arrived at the disassembled barrier, they had no problem putting it back together.

Leaving the Mining Camp

Once the barricade was fixed the group quickly returned to the mining camp to inform Eldonno of their success. Eldonno was relieved that the incident had concluded and told them that he owed the party of three. Both Nataku and Hanibaal told him not to worry about it for now. All the group asked was for a letter acknowledging their deeds and permission to use the forge at the camp, and Eldonno granted both. Before they left they went to the forge and had their fifteen pounds of silver ground down into the powered silver they needed. After they thanked Captain Gorda and then set out into the desert towards South Ledopolous.

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E11: Phthisis
Neurosis unearthed.
The threshold to the mine thrashes open, the large stone slab of a door creates a crumbling fissure in the archway as it is thrown off center. Out comes a 10 ft. tall walking terror, with eyes of green malevolence and claws that could tear through flesh and bone. The thing's spiny body seems purely unnatural. The mercenaries of House Wavir are sent into a sprawling chaos of fight or flight. The ones that stay behind are nearly shaken with hesitation, as the beast surely means nothing more than to rend their skin from the bone.


6th of Mist, Year of Priest’s Defiance

A joyful humming can be heard from within the fort as citizens begin setting preparations in motion for the festivities of celebration to begin in the evening. The party goes about preparing for the night as well, with the exception of Kathaalis and Asis whose whereabouts are still unknown. Dalamar does not worry about the two, because with the short history that they have spent together these actions are very characteristic of the mercenary. Nataku gazes of the edge of the well watching visions of his youth come and go through the shimmering ripples of the lifesaving water. The water priest spends time that he is not daydreaming thinking about how to address the crowd tonight about taking care of the well, without killing the mood of the party before it even begins. Hanibaal spends the afternoon in thought about what music he should, and ensuring his instrument is in perfect shape for his performance in the evening. Soon the festivities begin and all the preparations start to flow without flaw, Nataku preaches the sanctity found in water, Dalamar schmoozing with local merchants with hopes of gaining valuable insight in the trading markets. Hanibaal sets his makeshift stage watching the gathering crowd with a slight smirk; everything was going along the rails of a regular party until the bard began to play.

The crowd of near a hundred strong pours into the belly of the small mealhall, expecting a the party to begin. Hanibaal lifts his bow to his cello’s strings, and begins to play. A deep resonating melody erupts through the noise of the crowd and a heavenly tune if such place existed in Athas, poured through the fort making people gaze in awe as tears welled in their eyes as Hanibaal sang of the heroics of the merchant, the priest, And the noble. Such a tune even brought the reluctant fort master out to the meal hall. After the performance the Hanibaal, Nataku, and Dalamar graciously accepted the endearing praise, each of the three go off to celebrate the success in their own way. Dalamar notices the amorous eyes of the elven lass that wouldn’t speak to him a day before have fallen on him, and quickly swoops to capitalize. Hanibaal is approached by Bryphero who begins to offer the bard a handsome salary to stay full time as the forts entertainer, but Hanibaal politely declines. Hanibaal suggests that instead he can make stops by the fort and perform just out of friendship and for the simple favor of spreading word of Hanibaal’s triumphs through House Wavir as high as the fort master could. Bryphero was pleased with this arrangement, and announces his parting just as Nataku was stepping outside with a shady looking dwarf. Nataku proceeds to question the shady looking dwarf only to be offered some substances that Nataku could perceive being illegal. The priest then states he was mistaken and quickly left the dwarf and headed back to the party, where he spots the other Afidae he knew, Paalthas. The mul quickly takes the chance to strike up conversation with the man.

Dalamar sits with Hanibaal sharing drink and thanks for what the bard had done for them. They both share stories, music, and laughter gaining a healthy respect for one another, Dalamar admiring the man for his musical talent, and Hanibaal with a glint in his eye after discovering the elves keen knack for the business world. These good times are quickly interrupted by a frantic Nataku, who exclaimed that the three must leave immediately because their lives were in danger, who was rushing through his speech so fast that one word barely had time to finish before he was pushing another out. They rise and begin to leave once Nataku tells them that Praetors are currently among them. Hanibaal questions the mul, saying that leaving now is a hasty decision and one that should be dealt with in the morning. Nataku hurled an insult at the man, saying that they were leaving for the mines with or without him. Hanibaal did not put up a fight, but grabbed three attractive women and took them to his room for the night.

Nataku bursts from the meal hall, sprinting towards the stable in hopes of purchasing a beast of burden to make their hazardous venture into the unforgiving athasian night. He spots two beasts, an erdlu and a crodlu, but when no one was there to sell him one he yelled to a guard who informed him that he may take one without any problems. Nataku awkwardly mounts the crodlu and then hurries to a market stall occupied by the shady dwarf who then sold Nataku two potions of darkvision. Upon reaching Dalamar, they both hesitantly downed the potions and ran into the night.

Dalamar harnesses his elven instincts and navigates the eight miles of desert, guiding Nataku and himself to the mines safely. They arrive at the entry of the mines after an hour or two of riding. Both the elf and the priest get the feeling that the trip through the desert wasn’t going to be the worst danger they faced that night, because scattered around the vast entrance were wounded men who at the sight of the two adventures, yell at them to leave.

(to be continued)

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E10: Plasmic Choke
Oozing inside of the Fort's cistern is a massive aberration.
...In between the ridges in the floor and walls is a dried paste, appearing to be a very pale cyan film. The air is just as hot as the air outside some 100+ feet above. A quiet, near-subsonic drone resounds through the chamber that siphons off of the surrounding aquifer.


6th of Mist, Year of Priest’s Defiance

The party awakens for another day. Nataku, Hanibaal, Kathaalis, and Asis emerge from the lodge at Fort Glamis at different times. Dalamar, who was kicked out of the mealhall, was forced to sleep beside the lodge in his personal tent. The group eats a meal and carries on with the morning.

Nataku speaks with Dalamar about his curse, and the elf explains the story of how he and his companions came to be cursed several weeks ago, and what the curse is and what it will do if they do not remove it in time. Hanibaal Demontes — who is active in the conversation — is also interested in the curse. The water cleric’s knowledge of the undead prompts him to suggest that he has access to spells that could rid the party of the Curse of Undeath. Dalamar tells Nataku of Veloc’s attempt at removing the curse, and how it failed to do anything but temporarily alleviate it and buy them an estimated few week’s time. The mul ponders a bit, and then remembers that holy water would be a beneficiary factor for their strange ailment. Nataku says he needs 5 lbs. of powdered silver for each vial of holy water he must create. Silver is a rare and precious metal, but Dalamar knows that House Wavir controls a mine about 8 miles south of the fort. The mine’s primary export is silver. Nataku decides that he will ask the fortmaster for a reward of silver if he and the rest can somehow end the water shortage in the well.

Nataku decides that it’s time to speak with the fortmaster, Bryphero. He approaches the main operations hall and talks to the guards there. He tells them of his scheduled meeting with the fortmaster, and they send Bryphero a notification that Nataku is present to speak with him. Nataku is eventually let inside and before him is a room furnished with fine wooden chairs and a table. Paintings of fertile and green landscapes adorn the walls.

A man is standing at the head of the table, his hand resting on an arm piece of the nearest chair. He is a human —likely to have a Balician bloodline, as his skin is light tan. His long thin hair is swept back behind a receded hairline, and an obvious paste-dyed color covers the grey. Nataku speaks first, explaining his concerns over the water-shortage and his willingness to help. Bryphero speaks of Captain Gorda and her mercenaries who have yet to brave being lowered into the well, so Nataku’s willingness brings him good news. Bryphero is willing to pay Nataku 3,000 cp if he and the rest of the party can investigate the well and fix the shortage if possible. Nataku requests 15 lbs. of silver, and Bryphero initially denies this request, as any significant amount of silver lost is money lost. Nataku speaks of what will happen to the fort and its mining operation if the well runs dry, which would potentially shut down the fort until another source of water was found. This is entirely logical and thus Nataku persuades Bryphero to grant him the silver he requests once their job is done.

Bryphero and Nataku settle on a payment of 3,000 cp and 15 pounds of silver. Nataku would later return to Bryphero for a written contract after he spoke to Captain Gorda, the mul mercenary captain. Captain Gorda grants Nataku some of her climbing gear to descend into the well.

Nataku rounds up the group after his agreement with the fortmaster, and they begin to set up their climbing equipment to lower themselves into the well. Kathaalis goes down first, igniting a recently purchased sunrod for light while exploring the chamber in the well. Nataku casts light on his finely crafted wooden staff for additional light. The well’s depth continues further down in a smaller waterhole that is still filled with water. The well’s rope is treading the waterline, suggesting that the fort only has perhaps a week of water left (unless they can procure a longer pulley system). The chamber looks considerably old, and smells of earth minerals and stagnant water. Eight corridors extend outwardly in opposing directions from the well.

Once the party reaches the bottom, Hanibaal immediately notices a film of lightly tinted substance all over the dried up flagstones. He identifies the film as dried up cytoplasm, probably the product of a waterskin ooze. When Kathaalis leads the group down the north-most chamber, he enters a large winding and round room (that appears to go all the way around and connects all of the corridors). The wall features a large inward emboss that seems to lead to many small holes/tubes further away. The emboss is filled with a transparent and morphic thing, which appears to be a cytoplasmic ooze. The ooze is immense in size, and fills the entire aquifer emboss all the way around. Hanibaal suggests that the creature holds water to grow and if it is destroyed it may pop, flooding the chamber quickly. The party must remove the blockage, however. After prodding the ooze a bit, it releases a sudden and deep auditory sound, and its insides warp for a brief moment.

Nataku pries at the waterskin ooze with his staff, but even with his considerable strength, it does not budge. Strangely, Nataku feels an equal pressure on his own body when he applies it to the creature. Dalamar grows impatient and fires a frost arrow at the thing. The arrow penetrates the wall of the ooze and freezes the cytoplasm inside momentarily. But Dalamar feels a sharp icy pain in his body as soon as the arrow sinks into the mindless creature. Kathaalis suddenly wishes to leave the well, and doesn’t explain his departure to the rest. He and Asis simply climb up their grappling hooks and exit the 100+ ft. well. Kathaalis then leaves the fort.

Nataku decides to fetch Paalthas, the afidae seer he met the day prior. The mul thinks that the psion may be able to help identify the creature’s power and help find a way to remove it. He locates Paalthas in the lodge and speaks briefly with him. Paalthas wishes to be paid an equal share for his efforts and Nataku finds this agreeable (as Kathaalis and Asis have left them, he figures Paalthas can have their share of the money). Once back beneath the fort in the well, Paalthas examines the creature. He uses some sort of power, and his eyes glow faintly and a distinctive psionic moan emanates from his mind. He tells the party that the ooze has an empathic feedback active, and any damage the party does to the creature, some of that damage will reflect back unto them.

Hanibaal summons an invisible servant with his sorcerous magic, and uses it to enable him to push a vial of Jankx poison into the ooze without harming himself. The ooze seems to lose all momentum, its dexterity brutally robbed by the posion. The ooze begins to seep out of the emboss, as it can no longer control its morphic mass. The emboss begins to siphon water through its aquifer tubes, slowly returning some amount of fluid into the chamber. Nataku decides to summon the most powerful water elemental he can conjure. The elemental summoned is bolstered by his adeptness with the conjuration domain. The water elemental begins to lay waste to the disabled cytoplasmic giant, poking many holes in its outer wall. The party rushes for the climbing ropes, and ascend quickly. Nataku stays, as he is able to breathe underwater if need be. The ooze seeps toward the central waterhole, and its wall can no longer hold all of the collected water. It bursts, sending waves of pouring water all around. Nataku dismisses the wounded elemental and he returns to the surface.

The fort’s citizens and soldiers are enamored by the party. The well is now full of water again and within a short time the water will be re-purified. Nataku immediately avoids the gathering crowd and heads to the main operations hall. He hears the captivating sounds of Hanibaal’s cello, but it only irritates him as he looks back to see the bard hoarding the glory. Nataku receives payment from the grateful fortmaster, but the silver he requested is in the form of three ingots. He is informed that he can go to the silver mine and use the refinery equipment there to create the powder he needs.

As the bard Hanibaal and the rogue merchant Dalamar soak up the praise from the crowd, Nataku plans on leaving the next day for the mine. Where did Kathaalis and Asis go? Will the holy water be created? And if so, will it have any success in treating the curse?

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E09: Collectors
Gibbering merchants palm ceramic coins and luring products beneath the large market tent of Fort Glamis. The air is crowded and stuffy, but the greenish tent blocks the descending sun. The multiple conversations between buyers and sellers blur together. You see a high wooden case lined with several types of armor and shields. Some weapons stand on a rack, with heads of bone and points of sharp obsidian --and some with bronze. Mercenaries are seen handing off their old equipment to those leaving the fort in need of protection. In return, these soldiers receive ceramic coins and bars, all engraved with the seal of Androphinis' treasury.


5th of Mist, Year of Priest’s Defiance

Kathaalis and Asis browse the merchant quarter for better armor and ammunition for their bows. Kathaalis purchases two suits of enchanted chitin armor, which replaces his and Asis’ old leather suits. The afidae also buys a couple cloaks and 50 corrosive arrows.

Dalamar enters the mealhall, looking to explore whatever the fort has to offer. He enters and sees only a few patrons; a female elf with thick auburn hair, a still-bodied male afidae, a male human bard playing a tyrian cello, and a couple of the fort’s mercenaries eating a meal. He approaches the kitchen to buy food, and is scoffed at by the other elf. She looks at him with utter and unprovoked contempt, then sits down at a table and eats her over-cooked meat. Dalamar asks one of the cooks (a tall dwarven male) what the problem with the other elf is. He is told by the cook that the red-haired elf hates elves. This perplexes Dalamar, but he simply asks for a cooked meal and sits down at another table.

Nataku approaches the main operations hall in an attempt to talk to the fortmaster, Bryphero. He is instead blocked by two armed guards, who tell him that the fortmaster isn’t seeing visitors. Nataku states his intent to discuss the well that is drying up, and this persuades one of the guards to enter the building to tell Bryphero. He returns and tells the water cleric that the fortmaster agreed to speak with him the next morning. Nataku accepts the meeting and departs.

Dalamar begins to eat his over-cooked meal of unseasoned erdlu meat. He suddenly feels his mind going fuzzy, and a soft voice that is not his own begins to speak. The voice tells the elf that “the Praetors are here.” Dalamar looks around, confused. The voice doesn’t seem to be coming from any physical person within the room. “…and that is not all. Another group of men seek to speak with you. Over a debt.” Dalamar now becomes visibly anxious at the voice that’s speaking in his head. He stands up from his seat. “The men are outside, why don’t you go take a look?” The elf looks about again, not noticing any indication of who is transmitting the message. He leaves the mealhall abruptly, and looks around the fort’s interior at a glance to see if the voice’s suggestion is true. Dalamar finds nothing, but he sees his companions Kathaalis and Asis looking at new equipment at the other end of the fort, and the water cleric Nataku approaching the mealhall from the fortmaster’s quarters.

Nataku confronts the elf who bought him out at Balic so that he could be free of the Criterion’s deadly arena. The elf looks visibly distressed, and so Nataku asks him what the issue is. Dalamar tells the water priest that he was hearing a voice speak to him once he sat down in the mealhall’s tavern. He explains that the voice told him that there were Balician templars present at the fort already, and that a group of other men stand outside of the gate to confront him about a past debt. The two enter the mealhall, this time with the intent of finding out where the voice came from.

The patrons are exactly where they all were, minding their own. Nataku wishes to cast zone of truth but he realizes that the spell will attract unwanted attention due to its verbal and somatic components. He persuades Dalamar to cause an unruly distraction so that he can complete the spell without drawing the wrong sets of eyes. Dalamar reluctantly goes along with the plan, and smashes his plate on the floor, and yelling out that the food is terrible etc. etc. A sharp whip streaks across the room from the human bard and meets Dalamar’s cheek with a loud gash. A sliver of blood forms on the elf’s face. Nataku completes the spell in one of the front corners of the room. The mercenaries are the only ones affected, and the afidae gazes at Nataku (seemingly realizing the cleric cast the spell). The dwarven cook tells Dalamar to leave the mealhall and never come back. At this point, Nataku approaches the mercenaries and detracts information about the well running dry and what’s going on with it from the mercenaries.

Afterwards, Nataku seeks out the afidae, who saw him cast zone of truth. He earnestly explains that his friend Dalamar had been hearing a voice earlier. The afidae immediately confirms that he was the one who sent the psionic message. He reveals himself to be Paalthas, and that he has a concern for Dalamar and his companions, but doesn’t explain why in detail. He tells Nataku that men are out to collect money from Dalamar.

Nataku and Paalthas exit the mealhall to find Dalamar, who is waiting outside. Dalamar seems to be a little irritated at the whole scene, but Nataku tells him that it was appreciated and he found the person who sent him a telepathic message. Paalthas explains himself once again, and tells Dalamar that he should confront the men outside, and that it would be best that he and the water cleric and anyone else they’re accompanied with leave Fort Glamis at the earliest possibility.

Dalamar and Nataku slowly approach the gate of the fort outside. Down the ramp, they spot a large bluish cilops with a reddish eye, and four bad-looking dudes standing around. A human with chiseled features and two hideous alhulaks, an ugly elf, an immense half-giant, and an uglier human with burn scars covering the right side of his forehead. The two are hesitant to approach them based on their looks, but do so anyway. The man with the alhulaks introduces himself as a collector, paid by Uriah to locate Dalamar and his companions to collect the debt they owe for stealing and destroying a silt barge that belonged to the high priest of Iax Cavaka.

Dalamar acts like an asshole about it, and dances around the subject. The man, who says his name is Abraxus, tells the two that they owe 14,000 cp, 10,000 for the silt barge, 3,500 for their efforts in tracking them down, and another 500 for the escaped halfling slave who was locked up in the barge’s cabin. Dalamar seems to try and make an exit strategy, but Nataku simply hands Abraxus 14,000 cp of his own money. The money is collected in a bag in ceramic bars. The money is part of Nataku’s own savings, which he stored in Balic before he was caught using magic and enslaved as a arcana-casting defiler would be.

Abraxus seems visibly satisfied that the debt was collected so easily. He tells Dalamar and Nataku that he knows the Praetors in Balic are looking for them, even if they are outside of the city and therefore outside of the templar’s jurisdiction. He mentions that the crimes they committed seemed to have been enough to catch the vast attention of the templars. He offers his own services if the party ever returns to Fort Glamis in the future. The bounty hunters part, and the elf and mul are left to return to the mealhall.

When they do return, they confront the bard who whipped Dalamar earlier. Due to not being able to enter the meal hall, Dalamar sends Nataku in to retrieve the bard. Once outside, the bard introduces himself as Hanibaal Demontes and without remorse explains why he whipped the elf with his bladed whip. Dalamar does not seem upset the man, and even acknowledged that he was being a bit of a kank’s ass. However, Nataku isn’t as quick to forgive the bard, much less harbor a positive view of him. Dalamar asks the bard what he was doing in Fort Glamis, to which the bard replied that he was simply traveling around till he receive news from Tyr. At that moment, Kathaalis and Asis meet the three outside the meal hall after concluding their shopping from around the fort. Hanibaal notices that they both purchased some armor he “psionicly” reinforced. He then noticed how well the group was equipped, and asked the group if they would be interested in acting as body guards for his departure from the fort. Hanibaal does question the group of the use of a stick-wielding Mul. This immediately upsets Nataku, and he attempts to show the use of his staff off to the bard, but Hanibaal dismisses notion as a jest insulting Nataku even more. With this swift blow to his ego and the priest’s compulsion to be the best, he pulls out an empty jug and begins to create water inside. Hanibaal quickly casts a hidden acid orb to destroy the bottom of the jug to conceal the action of water creation in a drought ridden fort with a dried well, but did not miss the opportunity to hurl an insult at the Mul for his foolishness. The insult proved to be the last straw for Nataku, who’s blue tribal tattoos began to glow as the water priest began using his power to summon a water elemental in the heart of the fort. Whether it was the crowd that immediately began to gather with looks of awe, fear, and desperation in their eyes or the realization of how far the took this measuring contest, he quickly sent the elemental back to it’s plane and retreating into the meal hall. The crowd lingered with questions but Hanibaal insisted it was an illusion, and gave an intimidating glare to the ones that did not listen to him, dispersing what was left of the crowd. From there the five agreed on resting for the night and meeting up in the morning before anything escalated further.

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E08: Tooth and Claw
"The desert can be a host of many lost treasures and ever-persisting dangers. One of those omnipresent dangers is death." -- Otaa, elder elf of the Water Hunter tribe

The scourging crimson sun hangs almost directly overhead in the midday sky. A steady, heated wind slowly seeps over the canyon walls. The distant calls of wild beasts occasionally echo throughout the rocky gorges. With the old druid Veloc nowhere to be found, you begin to wonder what could have happened to him. The curse is still in remission now, but how long will Veloc’s magic keep undeath at arm’s length?

It is the 4th day of Mist. The party collects themselves after searching the hoodoo. Eyrth takes a rest within, and the party decides what they will do next. They decide to rest until the temperature outside reaches a bearable point so that they can travel. Eyrth watches outside while the others rest for four hours (enough rest for the enduring mul Nataku, but not enough for Dalamar, Kathaalis, or Asis). After awakening, Kathaalis explains to the rest of the group that there are two nearby settlements that may be of interest: South Ledopolus and Fort Glamis. The afidae says that Fort Glamis is closer and offers itself as a trading hub, so that the party could resupply. The group decides that in this case the fort is probably the best place to go first.

The party sets out a short time before sunset. The heat is bearable and the sky is dimmed, but the party will lose less hydration this way. Kathaalis leads, winding through the rock corridors, up and under ledges, and through sparse vegetation only to wind up back at Veloc’s hoodoo. The party is confused, but Kathaalis seems to have merely been putting on a deception. He then finds the absolute quickest way out of the badlands, and succeeds in avoiding any dangerous creatures that may have been lurking within.

At this point, Dalamar decides it best that he guide the group through the flat(ter) lands until they all reach Fort Glamis. Dusk falls like a curtain, and the moons Ral and Guthay begin to take on the crescent of light from a nearly set sun. The elf and the rest proceed through the desert.

Eventually, Dalamar sees strange silhouettes flying high in the dark red sky. They look to be circling around, but because of the distance, the elf cannot determine how large the creatures might be. The smell of carrion assaults the senses of the party like a falling boulder, and the group continues on to find a giant husk of some rotting beast laying next to some large rocks. The creature still looks to be moving!

Eyrth lets his enchanted bone trident fly through the air towards the squirming husk. It sinks in briefly before jutting back out and returning to the psychic warrior’s hands. The trident reeks of rotting flesh. All of the sudden, a larger silhouette rises from behind the large corpse. The group can make out the general features of the giant beast: A four-legged monster with chitinous plates covering most of its body, and fur where there are no chitin plates. Its nose alone is the size of a grown man’s head. And its incisors are long-enough to pierce all the way through one’s chest.

Dalamar instinctively shoots a couple rapid arrows at the animal, their cold magic streaming through the air. Asis does the same, letting a couple arrows fly (but neither penetrate the thick armor plating of the beast). Kathaalis also shoots the animal with his composite longbow. Eyrth approaches the creature after using an augmented version of his expansion power, and growing to match its huge size. The beast lets out a psionic wave of mental confusion, and all but Dalamar and Asis resist. Nataku begins to summon a water elemental, which gates into the material plane from the exotic plane of water. The being resembles a standing wave of water.

Dalamar is unable to speak or even perceive what exactly is going on as the confusion weighs heavy on his already-frantic mind. In his confusion, he attacks the beast with his cold-enhanced bow, and one of the arrows sinks deep into the creature’s chest. It lets out a thundering roar of agony that surely echoes throughout the desert for miles. Asis, failing to distinguish friend from foe, turns around and fires an arrow almost point-blank through the midsection of Dalamar. The arrow lodges itself into the side of the elf, and wedges against his hip-bone. Because of his state of confusion, he cannot perceive that his ally wounded him. He can only perceive the immense pain.

Eyrth attempts to grapple the ferocious beast either out of braveness or stupidity. This provokes a threat from the animal, who claws at the psychic warrior, wounding him deeply. Eyrth’s hold on the animal isn’t established and blood begins to stream down his body from the deep puncture holes in his flesh.

The monster takes another swipe at Eyrth. This time, its immense claws slash at the throat of the ex-gladiator, nearly severing his head entirely. Eyrth falls backwards to the ground, his expansion fizzling out. As he lay on the ground in his normal form, the life bleeds from his eyes as blood spews from his gaping throat. He dies almost instantly.

The water cleric Nataku rushes over to heal the wound that Asis inflicted upon Dalamar. He casts an advanced cure spell, which causes the arrow to slide out of the wound and then seals it. This causes a euphoric body feeling in Dalamar, and relieves the deep pain in a moment.

The confusion wears off of Dalamar and Asis, and the group non-verbally decides that with Eyrth dead it would be a wise decision to run from this terrible giant. They do so, with elf Dalamar running away first (and is gone from the scene in an instant). The others run a different way, and Asis runs head-on into a belgoi after making a sharp turn in a canyon. The creature’s bell gives a slight toll from the impact. Three more belgoi stand nearby, and look on with creepily blank expressions. One of them begins to ring its bell, and Kathaalis feels as if his mind is being invaded. The afidae staves off the impulse to give in, and he and the rest run back in the direction from which they came. Dalamar spots them in the distance and the group rejoins. They quickly leave the area and head to Fort Glamis.

The party —sans-Eyrth, reaches their destination after another hour or so of quick overland movement. They see the fort, which is composed of four tall pale-stoned walls, laying upon an elevated bed of rock. Its tall wooden ramps are drawn up, revealing that the fort is closed up for the night. Kathaalis spots a unnervingly still humanoid standing near the far corner of the fort in the distance. As the party sets up camp in a rocky outcropping, Kathaalis watches the figure for quite some time. It never moves.

The morning brings the 5th day of Mist, and the group collects their temporary camp and heads to the fort. The agafari ramps are lowered now, and the party heads into the outpost after a brisk search and briefing by the guards standing at the entrance. Nataku discovers that the well in the center of the fort is running out of water. Nataku also learns of the fortmaster, Bryphero. The water priest is told that Bryphero might be able to discuss the water-shortage in length, but not to expect a conversation with him because he “has been shut-in lately”.

Dalamar investigates the well and buys about a gallon of water from the well-guards for a ceramic piece. The guards inform the elf that no more than a bucket of water per person may be distributed in a single day.

Kathaalis and Asis browse the merchant rows, looking to buy new weapons, armor, and other equipment.

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E07: Peculiar Dream
A dream has the power to poison sleep.

It was dusk when you arrived here. You now see several silhouetted figures leading you down a long stone corridor. Subdued light flickers ahead from two weak torches mounted on the dry sandstone walls. Sand piles up in the corners. Directly behind the torches stands a arched wooden door, which is coated in years of dust. As you encroach upon this door, one of the figures reaches ahead to open it. He looks back to you briefly, the brazen torchlight reveals his pale flesh and jet black eyes that show no white. As the door opens, light pours into the corridor, but the room ahead isn’t much brighter than the hallway you stand in.

There is a man standing at an altar. His back is turned to you, and you can see ripples of lean muscle twitch under his tight leathery skin. He wears a dilapidated leather abdominal brace, which houses several tiny vials and pouches of arcane components. His dark, floor-length robe is filthy, and covered in dirt and dust. The man seems intent on whatever he is working on placed upon the altar. For a moment though, you forget that the man is even there.

You examine the chamber you and the others have now arrived at. The walls are reddish unhewn stone. The flagstone floors are sprinkled with spots of dried blood. You look at your hands, but you are distracted when you find that the others have left the chamber. You look up. The man is no longer at the altar. A broken pyramid-shaped implement lays on the altar, smoldering with necrotic mist. A sense of fear and urgency swells in the air. You make your leave for the corridor when you are confronted by a bald humanoid with deep-sunken eyes and pallid, bone-gaunt flesh. It is the man at the altar.

You instinctively strike at the man, bringing your bone sword forth to slay him. You do no understand why the blade travels so slowly, but as sure as the next daylight you sever his hands at the wrists as he attempts to prevent your attack. The desiccate hands fall slowly to the floor; one palm lay facing down, the other facing up. The downward-turned hand begins to burn with violet necrotic ardor, while the other lays motionless.

The man looks at you incredulously… but a slow smile begins to crinkle through his ancient face. The corridor behind him begins to glow with the brightness of day, and his outline dissipates quickly into the Athasian sky…

It is the 4th day of Mist when the characters awaken. Dalamar finds himself emerging from this dream and a cloudy stupor to hear a thundering commotion surrounding the party’s resting place; a canyon hoodoo with just barely enough room to sleep within. The characters, who are on the run from Balician templars, decided to camp in this rocky gorge before they set out to seek Veloc again.

The elf Dalamar briefly comes to realize his dream and dwells on it for a brief moment before peering out of the opening crevasse to discover a harrowing stampede of Baazrag. The stampede of the large, spined creatures conjures a thick cloud of dust and it permeates the rocky gorge.

The other characters awaken immediately thereafter and are quick to investigate. Eyrth, the battle-worn psychic ex-gladiator (a proficient climber) ascends the rock tent interior to gather a vantage point outside. He sees the large moons Ral and Guthay hanging in the olive-yellow morning sky and a barreling stampede pouring over the horizon and into the canyon. After the Bazraag cease and taper out, he spots two growing lights in the distance that come piercing through the fog of dust and debris.

Eyrth and Nataku are the first to exit the crevasse in the rock tent, and stand outside to get a grip on what the approaching lights are. Two creatures in the form of large felinely flames come sprinting down at them into the gorge. Eyrth pushes Nataku out of harms way and Dalamar conceals himself as best he can, lining up his arrow for a shot. The beasts composed of fire unleash a breath of scorching flame, engulfing Eyrth when he fails to get out of its way. Eyrth shields himself as best he can but the scent of burnt hair and skin begins to color the air around him.

Dalamar lets his nocked arrow fly as soon as the first elemental beast crosses his line-of-sight. His enchanted longbow sheathing the arrow in pure cold, which streams through the air leaving a trail of shimmering arcane ice crystals in its wake. The arrow penetrates the beast’s fire, rupturing it and sinking into its scalding flesh.

Asis makes way towards Dalamar, her githian bow in hand. She lets an arrow fly, which finds its target. Her attack hits the same creature Dalamar hit. The flame beast yelps with another strange bestial cry.

Eyrth wields his psyche to allow him to grow to a size comparable to the elemental beast that coated him in flames, and brings his shield and trident up to strike the creature. He finds his mark and the trident reaps into the beast’s chest. Eyrth notices the strike may not have penetrated as deep as he thought, however.

Kathaalis also makes use of his longbow, reaching the crevasse entrance after the elf and his companion Asis. He loads an arrow and fires it, aiming for the first monster. His aim falls short and the arrow slips through the elemental’s swirling body flares.

Nataku, the eccentric cleric of water, pulls out his decanter of pure rainwater and uses the implement to draw from the power of his elemental plane of devotion. He emits a projection of invisible opposing elemental energy, which impinges upon the beasts. This turning attempt causes the 2nd beast to turn and flee, while the other remains composed.

Eventually, Dalamar slays the remaining fire beast with an accelerated barrage of arrows, both enhanced with cold magic. The beast lets out an odd death rattle, then keels over and fizzles out in a heap of smoke and embers.

The group assesses the situation, and Nataku urges it best they leave, if and before the other fire elemental beast returns.

The group finds its way through the dense stony badlands and canyons of the wastes, encroaching upon Veloc’s own hoodoo around highsun. They note a canvas-textured curtain swaying in the heated wind, and enter thereafter.

The characters find the abode empty, with no sign of the strange druidic anchorite anywhere. They check the main living space. Empty. The library. Empty, except for a single ceramic goblet placed upon a ceramic stand in the center of the room. The goblet holds no contents, except a mosaic pattern inside and the remnants of water stains as discovered by the rain cleric, Nataku.

Dalamar discovers a wooden box in which a single scroll is placed upon. The scroll is wrapped in the dried hide of some reptilian animal. The scroll reveals itself to be a hand-drawn map of a floor-plan. The schematic reveals no indication of what the location is.

Nataku investigates a small room below after pushing aside a curtain that laid on the floor. He finds a small table, and two full waterskins. As a priest of rain, Nataku realizes the water is more than pure enough to drink.

What does Dalamar’s dream mean, if anything? What has become of Veloc the druid? Is the map Dalamar found of any relevance to the party?

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