Dark Sun: The Karsto Campaigns

E01: Cursed Awakening
A recap on the first few sessions (March or April 2011)

The campaign begins in the 190th King’s Age, year of Priest’s Defiance (the default starting year for 4E Dark Sun, though we began this game using the Savage Worlds system.

We converted to using Basic Roleplaying 4E sometime in the summer of 2011. After buying the Trailblazer RPG rules optimizer in autumn 2011 for a D&D campaign, I converted our game to D&D 3.5 with Trailblazer when I ended the game’s haitus in early 2012. In the summer of 2012, I (again) switched systems to RuneQuest 6E. Despite the constant system-switching, the characters who have survived from the beginning have kept a solidly familiar core. The story remained fluid.

The starting party is comprised of:

Dalamar, a rogue dune trader who left his elven tribe to explore the city-states.
Kathaalis, an afidaen mercenary.
Asis, Kathaalis’ main squeeze and Stockholm’d basement catch.
Maddson, a blind psion/monk Half-giant who sees through his mind’s eye.

Campaign Background

The player characters are assuming the roles of simple money-hunting adventurers in the scourged desert world of Athas. The set of the campaign is based on the recent past dealings of these characters. The party discovered a strange obelisk in an old temple located far out in the desert. The party takes the artifact to a druid named Veloc at his home in the rocky badlands between South Ledopolous and the city-state Balic. The hermit studies the obelisk for awhile on his own and attempts to decrypt it for the characters to determine its purpose and worth. With Veloc’s limited knowledge of old scripts, he only makes out that the obelisk’s runes seem to be referring to god or gods of some sort, but may be empowered. He suggests that they take it to the Praetors of Balic to have them appraise it. Veloc warns the party to feign illiteracy if they are capable of reading, as the templars there have a tight grip on what sort of knowledge is allowed to be free in their city. If the obelisk was important, the templars might be more likely to give an appropriate reward to the characters (more appropriate than some uneducated street merchant).

So, the party journeys to Balic, nearly 60 miles away. They follow the Road of Legions over the course of days beneath the murderous heat of the dying sun. They enter the city of Balic and arrange a small meeting with a few Praetors to discuss their find. The templars take the obelisk to analyze it, but they return to the meeting room with nothing and say nothing. The characters are confused, and ask what the templars have agreed upon for their deal. The Praetors then incant templar magic, granted to them by their Sorcerer-King Andropinis. The templars channel a spell and unleash it upon the party, causing them to experience a brief episode of agony before losing consciousness.

It is assumed that the characters are dead.

Opening vignette

You awaken in a claustrophobic pitch darkness. A desiccate and stale air entangles you. In this air hangs the scent of death. A faint light flickers from the presence of a distant corridor. The dry mason walls dress themselves with tiny dancing shadows. The ground you lay on is dense, and littered with solid bits of jutting objects. Your body is racked with crooked kinks and pain.


Breeze 10th, Year of Priest’s Defiance

The characters awaken in a pitch black pit, aching heavily and scrambling on top of packed dirt and jutting rubble. Maddson, the blind half-giant psion, is the first to get to his feet. He realizes that he and his fellow adventurers are laying in a large chamber of bones, buried or half-buried in the ancient dirt below. There is a strange circular device in the ceiling. He ‘sees’ a torchlight coming from a distant corridor through his psionic vision, and approaches it. There are additional corridors, but none seem to be lit.

The party gathers into the first room, where they encounter the walking dead. Skeletal animations with glowing eyes that attack them on sight. The characters deal with the undead with force, and nearly escaping a hissing armored wight in one of the other chambers before shutting a stone door and hustling up some old spiral stair room to a level above. From here, the party is confronted by the wight, who opened the door in the tomb below. Dalamar, Kathaalis, and Asis keep going while Maddson remains in a rotating sarcophagi room to intercept the approaching wight. Maddson attempts to fend off the horrifying creature with his bare hands and body. This develops into a test of sharp obsidian versus monastic training and willpower. Maddson is wounded in the fight, but he slays the wight. The wight’s obsidian-plated leather armor and obsidian blade is taken.

The party discovers a room with two apertures constructed within it; one on the floor and another directly above it on the ceiling. Given their shock and surreal experience of waking up in a crypt, they do not think much of these devices. The party continues on, noting that their encounters with the undead become stranger; the walking dead no longer attack them (in fact, they barely seem to notice the PCs). The characters have some other strange experiences, including witnessing streams of irregular light pass through their peripheral vision, and glowing skeletons. Eventually, the party makes it up to a huge indoor cemetery. There are many tombs within, as well as several passive raaig ghosts who stare at the characters, but do not interact with them. The party finds that a large, winding stairway creeps up the walls to a large door a few stories up.

The characters climb the stairs, nearly reaching the top before they are attacked by aberrant darkmantles. The party tries to fight them off, but Maddson -who is in the front of the group, is brought to his knees when a darkmantle lands on his head and attempts to strangle him. Maddson, who was already wounded in the crypts below, seems to be encroaching upon incapacitation. Dalamar sees a giant darkmantle begin flying over to them like a creeping doom. The elf assesses the situation for a few seconds, and decides that Maddson is not worth saving or dying for. He edges past the goliath, his thin frame slipping past like a cool draft in an open house. Kathaalis is not as graceful, and pushes past Maddson with Asis in hand. The force of them knocking Maddson to the ledge, where he hangs on with one grip. The darkmantles descend upon him, and Maddson falls to his death into the tombs below. The party touches upon their decision to leave Maddson soon after. They agree it was necessary or else they all would have died.

When the three surviving characters break out of the boarded-up crypt doors, they find themselves on top of a rocky mountain in the thick heat of Athas. The party discovers that they are overlooking Balic, the city of Sails…

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E02: Pallid Affliction
The party seeks an explanation for their peculiar situation..

The ancient crypt doors bend and break under the force of Kathaalis’ well-placed kick. Splinters of wood ricochet in several directions as the seal of the tomb is destroyed. A non-stagnant, hot wind bellows down the dust-ridden hall. The sky outside is painted a dense yellow hue, and a smoldering sun hangs overhead. The light of day casts down on a barren mountain, one which holds the crypt you just emerged from…and overshadows the great city-state Balic. The thick Athasian heat permeates everything, and your brows bead with fresh sweat.

The party assesses the area they have emerged to. They discover another aperture on the mountain that levels out with the crypt’s entrance. Kathaalis, Asis, and Dalamar assume this aperture was used to dump them into the crypt, although the height of the fall seems too daunting to survive from. They begin to piece together the potential events that transpired previous to their awakening. It appears as though the templars must have thrown them into the crypt after their disastrous meeting with them…

Dalamar is the first to notice that his skin is a a sickly, greyish pale. Asis also notices a variation in her skin’s color. The characters are thirsty and weak, and decide they need to make it off of the mountain and seek sustenance in Balic.

The party eventually descends Mount Laeron without encountering anything dangerous. They gather in Balic, and keep a low-profile as to not attract attention from the templars who assaulted them. The group manages to buy water and food, but their concerns continue to grow to find someone to analyze their condition. Dalamar, Asis, and Kathaalis make their way into a pavilion where local and foreign priests are sanctioned the opportunity to use permitted magics in order to tend to the sick. Only those with money are allowed a visitation, and the party scrounges enough ceramic pieces to see a priest.

The priest they meet is a soft-spoken, dark-skinned human. He introduces himself as Armeis, a traveling healer from the city of Urik. The party discusses their dire situation after some coaxing from the Urikite priest. Armeis is intrigued when Dalamar speaks of the reason they were visiting him in the first place; a strange obelisk was stolen from them by the Praetors, and then dumped them into the nigh-forgotten crypts of Mount Laeron. Armeis permits them to take some enchanted potions to assist in alleviation, but tells the group that he does not have a potent-enough spell to heal them of their bizarre disease. Armeis overhears that the characters know of an old druid named Veloc, who is skilled in atypical magics. Armeis also warns the group that non-sanctioned magic in the city was punishable by imprisonment or death, so they would be wise to avoid seeking other casters in Balic.

The group arranges a contract with a small traveling caravan (working for the merchant House Reese). The agreement is that they will tag along with the caravan until they reach the rocky badlands some 60 miles west. The caravan’s added protection and supplies should help the party’s trek out to see Veloc. Armeis is curious about the party’s plight, and offers to attend the meeting with the old druid if they will permit him to join them. The characters agree and Armeis begins to pack his things for departure.

The caravan leaves Balic the very next day, and the party begins their near-week long expedition to Veloc.

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E03: Unveiled

The party leaves the city of Balic with the Rees merchant caravan headed for Fort Glamis. The Caravan takes them to the rocky badlands near fort and the characters depart them (details of this trip are missing). At this point, the group is on their own. They must navigate the dangerous lands that lay before them. They climb through the rocky barrens, and after awhile they stumble upon a tiny oasis. The oasis includes a small cluster of palm trees and a mound of shrubs and dead sticks. Armeis goes to drink from the oasis, but discovers that the mound is actually a creature as it sends a volley of sinewy harpoons at him. A scrapping between the PCs and the Chathrang takes place, but the characters eventually emerge victorious when the group kills it.

The group picks up where they left off and travels through the narrow canyons in the rocky badlands to find Veloc. When they arrive, Veloc approaches them while his two tamed cilops watch on. Veloc takes them inside to discuss their plight and discovers that the visible signs indicate that the party is cursed. Veloc reveals black veins under Dalamar’s pale skin, one indicator of the curse (no mundane afflictions are known to cause this). Veloc concludes that the party was most likely cursed by the Praetors, and then thrown down into the old crypts to dwell with the other undead there eternally. The druid suggests that the only way to relieve themselves of this curse is to kill the templar(s) who created it.

The party stays overnight at Veloc’s home. At some point during this stay, Veloc uses a druidic ritual to attempt to stave off the curse’s effects long enough for the characters to rid themselves of it permanently. The ritual is overseen by Armeis, who isn’t afflicted. An hour or so later, the cursed party members notice that their symptoms have been reduced dramatically (almost back to their former health). Veloc says this remission is temporary, and the characters can expect it to last a few weeks at most. Because their mission to find and kill a specific Praetor(s) is dangerous, Veloc suggests that the party seek out a half-elf Patriciannamed Javairre. Veloc says that Javairre was the last person he spoke to in Balic and that at one point in time he had ties to the Veiled Alliance. The Veiled Alliance could potentially have resources to find the templars responsible for the curse that would eventually kill the PCs and reanimate them as undead.

The party gathers up food and water and sets out for Balic again after their curse is temporarily tamed. When they reach the city a couple days later, they visit the Villa precinct where Javairre’s olive & grape vineyard is said to be. The PCs arrange a meeting with Javairre, and discuss their predicament and association with Veloc. This prompts a response from Javairre, who asks them to join him at a nondescript warehouse near the agora the next night.

The party meets him at the warehouse, where they find several other various people of various races standing about and conversing. It is revealed that this is Javairre’s Veiled Alliance cell, which he leads. The party meets a few of the members, including Korvath (a mul preserver), Zagaulo (a human minstrel), and Grobulus (a dwarven teacher). They eventually come together to discuss current affairs. After this, Javairre introduces the PCs to the rest of his VA cell.

It is not long after this that everyone hears the loud slam of the warehouse door being broken down, and many rushing footsteps pouring into the building. The templars appear to have busted the entire meeting. Some of the Veiled fight the templars, but the PCs run with Javairre downstairs. Armeis seals off the hallway so that no one else could leave this way, which earns a malevolent glare from Korvath, who is trapped on the other side to deal with the Praetors.

The PCs burst through a door to come into a basement-level corridor, which may have another exit. They are cut off by templars who seem to have planned around this potential escape. The party begins to face the templars with violence, and they are rewarded with the same in kind. A dispelling duel ensues between Armeis and a few of the templars, but they eventually arrive at a stalemate. The PCs surrender after a time, and they are carried off and thrown into a caravan filled with several other Veiled members, who display broken flesh and broken spirits.

The party witnesses Javairre being beaten and then dragged away separately from the rest. At this point the crodlu begin to pull them away in their shackles and caravan. They arrive at the shore of the Estuary, where they are said to be transported to Uriah’s Keep

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E04: Uriah's Keep
Captured by templars, the party is shipped off to an island's keep to be executed

Synopsis:

  • ~21 of Breeze (not sure on exact date)
  • Party gets transported across the Estuary of the Forked Tongue on a silt barge with other shackled captives
  • The barge arrives at Uriah’s Keep at after a couple hours
  • The keep is a large fortress sitting on the sheer of a small, rocky mountain
  • PCs wait to be detained in dingy cells in the lower level of the keep
  • PCs are kept here overnight
  • Uriah, a self-declared high priest of Iax Cavaka, talks to each character individually
  • Uriah talks about his need for defilers to “feed back into the depleted earth”, although the PCs are unsure what he means by this (although it’s safe to assume they are to be executed in some way for being associated with a “terrorist” group in Balic
  • When crudely armed cell guards open the door to Kathaalis’ cell-block, they are startled to see that the afidae mercenary has taken the features of a decayed undead creature (which is actually his racial shapechanging ability)
  • Kathaalis uses this distraction to overcome the guards, killing the first one violently with his bare hands and then slaying the next with the first guard’s bone morningstar
  • The afidae makes it out of his cell, where he kills a few more guards in close-combat
  • The main corridor door closes and locks shut, and a cloud of greenish-yellow powdery substance falls from grates in the ceiling and fills the air
  • Everyone in the cell row looses consciousness soon thereafter
  • The PCs awaken in a huge dark dirt pit, the only light being from beyond a portcullis above (they discover that to be the cell row they were just in)
  • There is another dwarf with them, who is banging on the portcullis bars and yelling for “Uriah!”
  • He eventually gives up angrily and approaches the party
  • Turns out he was one of their cell guards, who Uriah turned on when he realized that the prisoners were not manacled

to be continued…

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E05: Silt Sleight
The party escapes the death grip of Uriah's Keep, and steals one of the High Priest's own prisoner barges to sail back to Balic

(to be written)

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E06: The Killing Botch
Grael and Dalamar attempt to negotiate a deal with Kegigoth's master to release him, and things turn for the worst

(to be written)

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Intermission: Haitus events
What has happened to the characters since the 3 month break?

The assassination of Kegigoth’s master turned to disaster, yet the fleet-footed elf Dalamar manages an escape from the Raamian’s patrolled courtyard (but not without bloodshed). The haste of the elf’s break was comparable to the healthiest of dune-runners, and for that escape Dalamar was able to override his terrible malady. By the time the additional Praetors who were summoned at Ghaij’s estate arrived, Dalamar had already cleared the Villa Precinct. He sprinted through noblemen’s yards, catapulted over neck-high walls, rolled through city-debris, and made way down dense and winding alleyways. The elf attracted suspicion from several patrols, and so he had to think quickly as he ran. Dalamar dove into the Arena Precinct’s slums, throwing caution to the night’s wind. Some of the alleyways were so closed in they more resembled dungeon corridors, but the desperate elf didn’t care. The way through was sprinkled with the night’s dark denizens, holding N’ko shard and hallucinogenic woads— and likely concealed daggers. The potential danger of being attacked by these cutthroats paled in the light of being imprisoned and likely put to death. Dalamar kept running at a blinding pace. Hooded doorways, veiled windows, and broken flagstones all passed him by. In his dash, the elf was careful to avoid the slave waste that had been dumped into the extended sliver of an alleyway. However, he was not careful enough to notice the sudden drop in the end section of the slum backway, and he fell haphazardly into the unexpected urban gorge…

Grael could barely struggle with the templars who descended upon him. The poison he had mislaid had absorbed fully into his foul-intentioned flesh. The dwarf’s eyes began to roll, and his limbs grew stiff with the consistency of an agafari tree. By the time Grael could move a finger, the Praetors had dragged him out of the disheveled hallway and into confining manacles that bit at his motionless wrists. He faded in and out of consciousness, surviving perhaps because of his race’s hardiness, or because the dosage he self-inflicted was too small. The templars tied him to a crodlu and rode off into his inevitable detainment.

Dalamar landed back-first into the dark pit of the holding block. The elf’s bones collided hard with the packed sandstone floor. Dalamar attempted to roll with the fall, and arrived as upright as he could. Around him was a amalgam of tall huts and large tents. Several unlit bamboo torches stood stuck in the bits of earth where stone was missing. The flames of the day had been snuffed, and were it not for the elf’s acute low-light vision, he would not have seen the two watchful gladiators poised alertly a few paces away from him…

As for the dwarf Grael, he becomes a part of a perplexing motif, as he suffers the same exact fate his estranged father did at the hands of the very same templars, in the very same city, with a very similar criminal record. What eerie and coincidental destinies time sometimes weaves…

(to be continued and expanded upon)

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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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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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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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