Dark Sun: Grave Burden

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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