As the Dark Sun Sleeps

Day 10-14/Session 4 -- OOC Highlights -- Detailed
Detailed Highlights

Sam’s Perspective:

  • He’s trapped inside a small, coffin-shaped box. He can hear discussion between two figures accompanying the cart his coffin-box is on. One of them is a woman.
    • She mentions arriving in Tyr. He begins to make noise. The two of them talk, briefly, with the other figure – a Mul named Ying – pulling Sam out of the box and holding a knife to his throat . She alludes to “what you did to my brother,” and he tries to protest that he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She refuses to acknowledge his protest, and shoves him back in the box.
    • He pushes an image in his mind of Evette Sandstone – his only link to Tyr – only to have her push back, and speak to him psychically, warning him against such an attack.
    • Having no other recourse, Sam – letting all of his frustration build within – focuses his psychic energy on one of the rear wheels of the cart, causing it to ignite. The wind pushes the smoke away from his captors, causing the fire to spread – singeing Sam pretty badly – but also causing the axel of the cart to snap, catching his captors’ attention as the cart tumbles to the sand.
    • The woman pushes the thought into Sam’s mind: “you made this happen, didn’t you?”

The Party’s Perspective:

  • Recovering from the battle in the sandstorm with the powerful mage, the group manages to find tracks, which lead them on the trail of Sam’s kidnappers.
    • They manage to see, in the distance, what looks to be flame. As they move to investigate, they stumble across the cart which used-to contain Sam’s body, enclosed within a coffin shaped box, burned and collapsed to the sand, with no sign of Sam’s body.
    • They perceive Sam’s kidnappers a mile ahead, and make pursuit. The kidnappers do likewise, and speed ahead in the direction to Tyr.
      • Anansi catches up and begins a dialogue, saying the party only wants her companion. The woman, in speaking with Anansi, reveals her name to be Tura of the Tyrian house Lamore, and that “Mother will be very angry” that the party killed Father and her Brother.
      • Anansi pieces together that the brother was one of the Dead Tyrian Teenagers the party stumbled across and whose bodies they looted; and that her Father was the mage they just fought – and killed – in the desert, and stole his rather distinctive, oversized magical sword.
      • Anansi bluffs her that her Father survived the fight and escaped, while also warning the rest of the party via some psychic Thought Projection to hang back, since their presence – particularly Pan’s with Father’s sword – could spiral the incident out of control.
      • The two sides near, and Tura holds a blade to Sam’s throat, saying he would go to trial in Tyr for what he’d done. The party backs off and makes camp, so that Anansi can shapeshift into the form of her Father, Azul, and he rides to Tura and her companion’s camp to convince her that he survived the fight – bloodied, but survived.
        • Anansi and Sam communicate psychically, and Anansi manages to successfully convince Tura – in the form of Azul – that he has dragged Sam off into the desert, killed him, and left his body for the buzzards.
        • Anansi pushes the ruse even further, convincing Tura they should wait, double-back, and ambush the party trailing behind them.
      • As Anansi and Tura move to an ambush point on a rocky ridge alongside the trail that the party has camped next to, Pan moves into position to get the drop on Tura.
      • Sam, having reclaimed his equipment from his partymates, joins Kahvi on the mirroring ridge across the trail from Anansi, Tura, and Pan.
      • Monkeyarty is smoking by the fire of the camp, the only member of the party visible to anyone along the ridgeline.
        • As he sneaks up behind Anansi, Tura, and her Mul half-brother Ying, Pan makes noise which alerts them to his presence. At this, Anansi thought-projects to the others, and Monkeyarty – bored – throws a thunderstick into the campfire, which ignites, causing a massive boom and a distraction consisting of one of the tents igniting, and Monkearty dousing it with his own urine. This allows Pan to sneak back into the darkness, and up the ridgeline.
      • Anansi convinces Tura and Ying that the party will be coming from the urine-soaked tents, and with their attention diverted, he throws a tanglefoot cord at Ying’s feet.
        • Kahvi and Sam immediately miss from across the road, but Pan manages to successfully throw a tanglefoot cord on Tura’s feet.
        • Kahvi and Sam still draw little luck from their bows, and Pan does little better, teleporting to Ying and missing right away. Anansi shows some success by conjuring a crown of madness on Ying, causing him to turn on his half-sister.
        • Kahvi manages to hit Ying as well, trading blows with Tura, who hits her back; Sam’s luck changes, missing Ying with a glancing blow, but Pan – having suffered major damage from both enemies now and contemplating his escape – lands a devastating blow to Ying, sending him tumbling down the ravine to his death below on the roadside.
        • Anansi uses this opportunity, while still in the guise of Azul, to convince Tura into surrender.
      • Allowing Tura to lick her wounds, Anansi nee Azul browbeats her into confessing to the history of all the events, feigning ignorance and amnesia. She relents, saying that her brother, Scapy, took the Sun-Rod and the map to find the rest of the clockwork weapons, and that she joined her father at the behest of the Society, claiming “I’m not even a member; I don’t know anything.”
        • When pressed, she admits that the Society she’s referring to is the Society for the Betterment of Everything, an organization Azul is a major contributing member to, and when she admits this, they learn that the Society is a benevolent organization that, under the rule of King Kalak, was persecuted and treated as pariahs, due to their kind treatment of the poor, the underclass, the slaves.
      • The group convenes, trying to decide what to do with poor Tura, almost causing Kahvi’s walkout when they won’t submit to her plans to reveal their subterfuge to the poor girl. Instead, using an alchemical potion of forgetfulness picked up from the Dead Tyrian Teenagers, they drug her, and when she awakes, she has forgotten the events of the last four days.
    • The party escorts Tura into Tyr, gaining from Tura and Ying’s stores twenty-odd alchemical items, and an additional 700gp, as well as a silver version of the society pendant, similar to the ones found with the Dead Tyrian Teenagers.
  • Traveling the remaining few days to Tyr, the party makes it safely to the outskirts of Tyr, noticing that the city has attracted a collection of stragglers, outcasts, beggars, and ex-slaves camped outside the gates of the city.
    • Arriving at the city gates, they are asked to pay a 5gp tax for entrance and, after quickly demurring, realize that they are not lacking in funds, so they enter.
    • The tone of the city is bustling, with lots of gawkers milling about, taking in the sights of the first free city they’ve known in Athas in their lifetimes; the locals don’t seem to know how to comport themselves; there’s an obviously high transient population, with signs of high-unemployment with people begging for work, coins, or scraps.
    • They return Tura to the Lamore home, and meet Mother – Sheila Lamore – who comes to greet them. Upon meeting Sam, and learning of his name and reputation, she insists they stay for dinner, as she must hear “the story.” Flirting heavily with Sam, he promises her that he will return for dinner, and as he makes his goodbye, he stumbles and falls facefirst into her ample bosom.
  • Following this embarrassing encounter, they set their sights on Kahvi’s goal: finding her sister.
    • Their first approach is to plant themselves in a darkened corner of a tavern, very conspicuously spending their money to attract attention and, hopefully, hungry mouths looking for work.
    • The Tavernkeep is the first to take them up on their unsolicited offer, and he quickly agrees to ask around for information on this particular white-haired elven girl.
      • He then reveals that many of the noble households in the city have paid-off much of the city’s guards and constabulary in order to keep their slaves as-is.
      • Pan offers the Tavernkeep a solid 10gp as a retainer to “get him started” with the promise of more gold to come with good information.
  • The party then decides that Sam is to visit Mother Evette to get her perspective on the situation in Tyr, as well as to find guards who may be upstanding – the strategy being if they can find worthwhile guards, those guards might know on which doors to knock to find the elven girl.
    • It’s here that Kahvi reveals her secondary goal: when her clan was driven out of Tyr, she wants to know what happened to Skaht, her older brother, who has been missing for about a year when he disappeared into the crowd while they fled Tyr, but they’re skeptical about digging up much information on the brother, since he looks a whole lot more typical of your common-variety elf.
      • Sam learns from Mother Evette that the sister is tending the soil at the King’s Garden.
      • He also learns some information about the Lamore family, that he’s connected with the SBE and was an expert-level alchemist, who also has a laboratory connected with his work.
        • When she learns about the standing date with Sheila Lamore, which Sam is desperate to break, she insists she wouldn’t want to offend a woman of Sheila’s standing.
  • The party discovers that the King’s Garden allows limited visitation from commoners into the gardens – it’s one-day-per week, limited to one-hundred visitors, and today happens to be that day. They leave Anansi in the tavern awaiting the Tavernkeep’s news.
    • They bribe their way inside to be included with the hundred guests already touring the gardens, and inside they find Lirin in a smaller, wooded section, tending to a tree.
      • It’s a calm, tranquil section, cordoned off and on its own, with less water and less flowers.
      • Immediately, Lirin and Kahvi’s reunion turns ugly, with resentment bubbling to the surface over Skaht’s turning up missing. Added to this is Kahvi’s insistence that Lirin leave with her and return to the clan, which is clearly not on Lirin’s agenda. Kahvi reacts terribly to this bad news, breaking off and assaulting a wall, catching a warning from one of the guards.
      • Pan and Sam offer to have Lirin come back with them to dinner at House Sandstone, in order to patch things up with Kahvi. She says she’s forbidden and beholden to the whims of House Dyan, her employers. They offer to speak to the Dyan’s on her behalf.
  • They rejoin Anansi, and the party divides again, this time with Sam and Anansi going to speak to the Dyans’ – with Anansi taking on yet another guise as Iris Allen – while Kahvi and Pan remain at the tavern.
    • Krul, the Dyan house slave master, meets them and lets them into the foyer, directing them to Master William, the ascendant to the house who is practicing his fencing in the central courtyard.
    • As they talk with William, they try to influence him, intimating that King Tithian has an interest in his white-haired elf and her superb gardening abilities, and that he might steal the elf out from under Dyan – or at least be convinced to do so.
    • William grows threatening, kicking Sam and Anansi out, scoffing that they would have the temerity to tell him what he should do with “his elf.”
  • They rejoin the party at the tavern, convincing Kahvi that the Dyan brat is the key – plus Sam just wants to get even with him for scoffing at him in the way he did.
  • The Tavernkeep returns with information on Lirin’s routine, which has proved useless to the party due to the events of their day. Nevertheless, they generously give him 10gp for his efforts, and add 15gp for him to begin the search on Kahvi’s brother.
    • Since they’re staying at House Sandstone following dinner, they also pay the Tavernkeep 2gp for holding a room for them for this evening, and in his gratitude, he agrees to warn them if anyone comes asking about them.
  • The party sets off for the nightlife in the Tyr marketplace, insisting he go join Sheila for their dinner-date.
    • Sam returns, shaken from his encounter at House Lamore, but rumors quickly begin spreading involving yet another sexual conquest, this one involving a castrati servant, some mangoes, and a well-known Tyrian juggling act.
    • In the marketplace, the Tavernkeep catches up with them, informing them of a trader leaving for Ur who had spotted the brother – the brother, it seems, had trained the trader’s men.
    • Meanwhile: Lirin, who had returned to the Dyan household, tries desperately to sneak out, only to fail miserably at scaling the front courtyard’s walls. Krul catches her in the act, takes pity, and helps hoist her over the wall to freedom.
    • Back in the marketplace: Pan immediately suspects the Tavernkeep of double-dealing, since he came across that unexpected information so quickly. He forces the Tavernkeep by the neck into a blind alley. As the party threatens the Tavernkeep, they are spotted by six guards passing by on the street, who move in to attack them.
      • Immediately the advantage swings towards the party, as a fireblast hits one of the guards from seemingly out of nowhere. Unbeknownst to them, it’s source is Lirin: who is eastward down-the-street from their position, lending assistance. Her attack attracts two of the guard, one of whom strikes her for nominal damage.
      • Pan uses the fireblast to shove his Tavernkeep hostage deeper into the northern section of the alley, laying a blast-strip between himself and his closest guard. Kahvi mimics the tactic, choosing the western spine of the alley. Anansi makes an impossible trickshot from inside the alleyway, tossing a globule of oil at one of the guards while he’s still out in the street, and takes a hit for his trouble. Sam immediately takes the higher ground, using some Thought Projection to give everyone a sense of the layout of the complicated battlefield and continuing to do so for the remainder of the fight, while also striking a red-fletched arrow into one of the guards.
      • Out of sight of most of the party, Lirin defensively shapeshifts into a were-Kirre, attacking a guard immediately with a bloody strike, though she is hit and knocked prone. Pan leaps over his own blast-strip, attacking a guard with an amazing, ebony shadow-blade, only to have the Captain miss on a target of opportunity. Kahvi charges at a guard approaching from her flank, only to miss and get hit for some slight damage. Anansi releases her alchemical fire on the guard she hit with the oil, killing him and bursting his corpse into flame inside the dank alleyway, providing some light by which the rest of the party can fight by. Sam takes advantage of this, striking an additional guard with a hard-aimed arrow.
      • Lirin takes that shapeshifting ability further, reducing herself to a mouse in an attempt to escape; a guard manages to hit her to cause some more damage, the wound persisting. Pan strikes at the Captain and misses, and then on his original target, missing also. Kahvi takes a massive swipe at her opponent, having that opponent miss for his trouble. Anansi manages to cast her Crown of Madness on the Captain, having the Captain retaliate with a devastating blow right back on Anansi. Sam fires another red-fletched missile, striking his target hard.
      • Lirin makes a strong attack, with a guard attacking her during a defensive roll; she strikes back, killing him, and when the other guard attempts to strike her, he misses entirely, striking the corpse of his friend in the back of the head. Pan attacks the Captain, hitting him with a hard blow, the Captain shouts in protest and frustration, revealing that the Captain of this group of guards is none other than…
        • …William Dyan.
      • Kahvi hits her opponent with a strong blow, and he misses her yet again. Anansi hits her target strong, and Sam helps her out with an inspiring word to heal herself, only to miss himself on a bad shot.
      • Hearing William in the mix, Liring approaches the alleyway intersection from the east, throwing a thunderclap attack his way. It misses, but throws everyone out of whack for a moment. She is attacked, but it fails to hit. Pan attacks William, hitting him strongly, and he is hit with a pretty strong attack in return. Anansi attempts a trick shot, which misses. Sam, attempting to get a better vantage on the fight that Pan drew towards the eastern alleyway, takes a running leap across the alleyway, and lands on an adjoining rooftop.
      • Lirin immediately transforms into her Kirre form, takes a running dive down the alleyway, brandishing claws and teeth, letting them sink deep into William’s body, sending him to the ground, gasping breath, bubbling blood. Pan hits one of the remaining guards with a significant strike, as do Anansi and Sam, who also recognizes Lirin as an ally and encourages her to shore up her defenses. Kahvi recognized the thunderclap and Kirre form as her sister, and comes rushing to her side, as William breathes his last breath throwing bloody epithets at Lirin.
    • The fight finished, the party strong-arms the Tavernkeep into lending them his private quarters for cleanup, after they rush from the alleyway and all the dead bodies. They’re buying his silence and his life for the 200gp he received from the Dyans for betraying them – he keeps the money, he delivers information about Skaht, and they don’t kill him.
  • After cleaning up, they rejoin Mother Evette, regale her with some of the stories of their adventures, leaving out stories which implicate them in any way. They learn more information about the SBE: Azul was the founder of the organization; she intimates that the Society is nothing more than a coffee klatch, which Sam doesn’t believe but can’t do more than intuit.
    • Anansi proposes they call themselves the Fire Bandits.
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Day 9-10/Session 3 -- OOC Highlights -- Narrative
DM's Narrative

Dawn breaks over the oasis of Silver Spring with the scheming Anansi ready to set her mischievous plan into motion. She begins by convincing a merchant she met the day before to let her run his booth for a few hours, then coyly seduces a young officer in Anvil‘s service, **** (I’ve got his name written down, just not with me :P ), to come see her show later that night… and to see her personally after the show.

The merchant leaves his booth at the appointed time and Anansi quickly takes his form and performs business as usual, being careful not to steal a single copper piece. He’s far more interested in his big customer for the day – Anvil‘s lieutenant and accountant, Sven. Sven arrives with guards and a cart and Anansi begins processing his order, as Pan slides up and begins to share a tale of a slave trader headed across the tablelands who has about thirty fat halflings, nobles of some sort, presumably, given the riches that were found on their persons by the slavers. Sven is only mildly interested until Tosh’s name comes up, at which point Sven asks Pan to meet him and Anvil later that afternoon. Anansi also relates word of an officer in Anvil’s charge who was looking to go AWOL, possibly with a few men in tow. Sven is also appreciative of this information, and we are assured that the situation will be dealt with swiftly.

Meanwhile, Kahvi has been tasked with keeping an eye on the merchant, to avoid him coming back early or meddling with Anansi‘s plans. Kahvi soon learns that the man himself hasn’t come to keep an eye on his booth, but he did send a young street urchin to do so. The boy relates with wide-eyed wonder that he has seen the Merchant both at his booth and in the pavilion, after which the merchant summons the Captain of the local constabulary, Captain Jown-Zi, to handle the situation. Kahvi tries to distract the boy, Then goes to the booth the warn Anansi and Pan that the guards are coming, and that the gig is up. Pan wisely decides to skedaddle. Anansi points out that he hasn’t stolen a dime, turns back into his buxom woman form and waits for the guardsmen, who surround the tent in plainclothes disguises. Jown-Zi steps out and after a brief interrogation, decides to lock the both of them up.

The two prisoners are interrogated seperately, as Jown-Zi tries to determine what sorcery was used to create the illusion that the merchant was there all afternoon. Neither of them give up much information, but Anansi says that one of the other party members has the power, not her. Jown-Zi says that someone with such talent would be useful to her, but Anansi still doesn’t budge, suggesting that she be allowed to leave and find the rest of her party. Jown-Zi decides she doesn’t trust Anansi, and lets Kahvi go instead, under close guard.

Meanwhile, Pan has a date with Anvil. Anvil is as advertised: calm, brief and calculating, until he confirms that Tosh is nearby. Tosh is the one black mark on Anvil’s otherwise sterling reputation, as Tosh rebelled against Anvil early in his leadership of the caravan and stole away with a few dozen men and a whole lot of cash. So Anvil jumps at the chance to put an end to the pest. He rides out with forty of his best men shortly thereafter, leaving Sven in charge of the Nadir camp. Sven, meanwhile, has tortured and punished **** publicly, so presumably the “mutiny” Anansi had hoped to inspire has been shut down.

Kahvi then catches up with Pan just outside the party’s tent, where they’ve left Sam sleeping. When they go inside there’s no Sam to be found, and the artifacts from the young party that was slaughtered by Gith have been stolen! Acting quickly, they discover that Sam has been kidnapped by three figures in white robes who are now riding Krudlu hard toward Tyr. When they tell Jown-Zi all of this, Jown-Zi throws up her hands and says “Just get out of my town!” Then her guards help the party pack and show them to the gate.

The three of them ride hard in search of Sam. Kahvi does an excellent job with her tracking, confirming that the mysterious white-robed trio is staying on the road and allowing the party to move very quickly. As they crest a ridge near sunset, they see one of the white robed figures in the valley below. He’s stopped and is standing menacingly in the middle of the road, a large staff or possibly sword in his hand. The party watches as the cart holding Sam and the other two riders disappear over the far slope, and then a sandstorm whips up, clearly summoned by the man with the staff, the tip of which has begun to glow.

The party charges forward in the treacherous, blinding winds. Pan‘s Stupid Krudlu stumbles and snaps its leg, forcing him to switch to Sam’s krudlu and costing him a few moments. The other two charge on, and find themselves in an ‘eye’ in the storm, with the mage standing at the center. He barks a few arcane words, and the earth begins to shift in places as rotting corpses claw their way to the surface.

The battle is pitched and extremely difficult, as the mage is clearly more powerful than any of the party members. Pan, close to death himself, manages to fell the mage with a terrible blow from his great sword, and the undead are dispatched shortly thereafter.

Searching the body, they find that the ‘staff’ was in fact a massive two-handed sword, too large for any of the group to use effectively, though the mage seemed to weild the well-balanced blade with ease. The sword had, built into the handle, the same dial-construction that had been found on the Rod.

They also discovered a pendant with the three interwoven metals found previously. The pendant was in the shape of a B, but on closer inspection it was discovered that each of the metals followed distinct patterns within that shape. The bronze was the full B, the silver was in an S shape, and the gold was in an E shape. With seemingly nothing else to glean from the mage’s corpse, they set out into the dusk once more in search of their kidnapped friend…

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Day 1-8/Session 2 -- OOC Highlights -- Brief
Brief Highlights
  • At Tosh and the Dune Riders’ slaver camp, the party decides to move on, hoping to double back when they regroup in order to free Tosh’s slaves from his captivity. This feels dubious – but with the Dune Riders numbering about eight riders, eight crossbowmen led by a captain named Bakus, seven footsoldiers led by a man named Levo, all leading about twenty-odd slaves – but the numbers were, frankly, against the group.
    • Day 5Kahvi’s tracking leads the party into the blind end of a v-shaped ravine. As she begins to regroup, and the party ascends the rocky north-western slope of the ravine, some of the party’s more perceptive members track the unmistakable rumbling gait of a Rampager thundering across the sands, straight down the neck of the ravine towards them. The party escapes by tying pots and pans to to Monkeyarty’s waist, while Anansi tosses the box of cigars from the same across the ravine, which sends Monkeyarty scampering across the rim of the ravine, attracting the Rampager, diverting it southeast.
    • Evening 5 – That evening, in the middle of the night, Kahvi begins to sense a seismic shift in the cosmos, as her access to the Feywild begins to slip away. This gives her a profound sense of hopelessness and ennui.
      • Anansi senses a cosmic shift, but more pronounced is Pan’s reaction. As this shift builds in intensity, Kahvi, Anansi, and Pan notice the twin moons of Ral and Guthay aligning themselves on a perfect vertical axis in the sky, eclipsing one another. At the moment of this particular cosmic event, Pan’s own sense of his connection to a greater cosmic power grows and, flush with this cresting wave of darkness, he begins to spill forth a manic monologue, detailing such strange sights and exotic features as oceans, fish, kings, princes, and a Raven Queen.
    • Day 8 – At about a half-a-day’s travel from Silver Spring, the group stumbles upon signs of a fierce battle. Scattered about them are the bodies of five human teens, humans whose brand-new, high quality clothing and desert gear seems to indicate that these teens were possibly wealthy, and other indicators tell the group that they seem vaguely Tyrian in origin.
      • The group decides to take action, sneaking up on the encampment, hoping for a surprise sneak attack in the dusky air. Anansi and Sam concoct a plan of throwing oil and an alchemical fire on one of the nearest tents, hoping to convert it into a firebomb which will both announce their attack to the Gith, as well as give the party the element of surprise when they finally attack. The battle is hard-fought, with the party (barely) escaping with their lives, as well as a sizable amount of loot including:
    • End of Day 8 – The Party reaches Silver Spring by nightfall. As they approach, they are beholden to check in with the guards, identifying themselves to Captain Jown-Zi, who permits them access with the usual reassurances that they will not cause trouble in their peaceful settlement. The party takes stock in the situation in the township, which consists of a market area and a living area populated by eight large caravans. This sight greets them along with several, more permanent settlements of shantytowns populated by who are undoubtedly ex-slaves living on bedrolls, under tarps, et cetera, with the Calshey Family from Ur, a slave-trading family, nearby as well.
      • In the market area, they encounter Frederick, a blind man, who is playing – and hands-down winning – several hands of poker against transient players. They converse with Frederick over the next few hands of poker, which Pan still manages to win, as Frederick mentions having flown to Silver Spring with Monkeyarty. Anansi reclaims his monkey with a box of eldritch cigars, and the old man disappears mysteriously.
      • The party begins asking around about the rumors of Tyr and King Kalak’s overthrow, and Tithian’s granting the slaves their freedom. They get this information confirmed. Anansi takes on the female persona of Barbara Gordon, and opens a discussion with two of the slaves at the obvious ex-slave camp. She then offers to take on the caravans of ex-slaves in order to go after Tosh and his Dune Riders and the fifty-odd slaves they have in their retinue. Moe and Curley advise her that she needs to speak with Anvil, the half-giant leader of the ex-slave army.
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Day 1-8/Session 2 -- OOC Highlights -- Detailed
Detailed Highlights
  • At Tosh and the Dune Riders’ slaver camp, the party decides to move on, hoping to double back when they regroup in order to free Tosh’s slaves from his captivity. This feels dubious – but with the Dune Riders numbering about eight riders, eight crossbowmen led by a captain named Bakus, seven footsoldiers led by a man named Levo, all leading about twenty-odd slaves – but the numbers were, frankly, against the group.
    • Day 1-2 – The party moves on, with a foreguard from the Dune Riders following. Their trailing behind the group worried the group, but Kahvi reassures the party that the foreguard behavior that they are merely checking to makes sure the party isn’t going to ambush the camp.
    • Day 4 – The party begins to hit the desolate Tablelands just north of the Black Sands region. Unprepared for the harsh desert travel, Sam succumbs to minor sun poisoning.
    • Day 5 – The following day, Kahvi’s tracking leads the party into the blind end of a v-shaped ravine. As she begins to regroup, and the party ascends the rocky north-western slope of the ravine, some of the party’s more perceptive members track the unmistakable rumbling gait of a Rampager thundering across the sands, straight down the neck of the ravine towards them.
      • The party desperately tries to ascend, knowing the Rampager will be on them in moments. Thinking quickly, Pan ties a skirt of clanking pots, pans, and assorted minor salable items from Bremil Pass to Monkeyarty’s waist, while Anansi tosses the box of cigars from the same across the ravine, which sends Monkeyarty scampering across the rim of the ravine.
      • This attracts the Rampager’s attention, diverting it to the south-east, allowing the party to ascend to ground level and survey their surroundings.
      • Kahvi spots a high butte on the horizon, so the party ascends and makes camp, the better for Kahvi to retrace their route and get them back on track.
    • Evening 5 – That evening, in the middle of the night, Kahvi begins to sense a seismic shift in the cosmos, as her access to the Feywild begins to slip away. This gives her a profound sense of hopelessness and ennui.
      • The mounts react badly to this same cosmic shift, with Pan’s Stupid Krudlu slipping free of its tethers, falling to its death at the foot of the butte below.
      • Anansi senses the same shift, but more pronounced is Pan’s reaction. As this shift builds in intensity, Kahvi, Anansi, and Pan notice the twin moons of Ral and Guthay aligning themselves on a perfect vertical axis in the sky, eclipsing one another. At the moment of this particular cosmic event, Pan’s own sense of his connection to a greater cosmic power grows and, flush with this cresting wave of darkness, he begins to spill forth a manic monologue, detailing such strange sights and exotic features as oceans, fish, kings, princes, and a Raven Queen.
      • Sam, having no connection to a magical source whatsoever, sleeps through the entire event. The party tries to convey what just happened, but it barely registers for Sam, who has heard – from his studies and readings – of similar astronomical events, but lacks the context for any significance therein.
      • In the morning, they retrieve Pan’s supplies from his dead krudlu, backtrack about half-a-day’s travel, and retake their path to Tyr.
    • Day 6/Day 7 – At about a day’s travel from Silver Spring, the group spots the tracks of a pack of about fifteen-to-twenty Gith heading in their same north-easterly direction towards Tyr. Sam miraculously suffers through the worst of his sun-poisoning and begins to feel better.
    • Day 8 – At about a half-a-day’s travel from Silver Spring, the group stumbles upon signs of a fierce battle.
      • Scattered about them are the bodies of five human teens, humans whose brand-new, high quality clothing and desert gear seems to indicate that these teens were possibly wealthy, and other indicators tell the group that they seem vaguely Tyrian in origin.
      • The other side of this battle is indicated as well, with the dead bodies of ten-or-so Gith scattering the landscape, though all of them are young.
      • After inspecting the bodies for usable material, the group decides to leave them to the desert and to follow, instead, the trail of five-or-so Gith, which leads them to a small encampment of about eight Gith total sitting around a fire near three tents.
        • The group decides to take action, sneaking up on the encampment, hoping for a surprise sneak attack in the dusky air. Anansi and Sam concoct a plan of throwing oil and an alchemical fire on one of the nearest tents, hoping to convert it into a firebomb which will both announce their attack to the Gith, as well as give the party the element of surprise when they finally attack.
        • Taking the initiative, Kahvi is immediately pounced on by a trio of Gith, one of whom she dispatches quickly.
        • Pan uses a mystical shade on a Gith, surrounding him with bands of ethereal shadow, but when he blows this shade, its mystical potency proves ineffective.
        • Anansi attempts to provide Pan some support, attracting the attention of a different Gith.
        • Sam takes aim and manages to hit yet another Gith with his first strike.
        • With things looking good thus far in the battle – Kahvi quickly dispatching one of her attackers, and Pan using his shroud to attack his foe with a poison strike – things start to turn south for the party, as Pan takes some massive damage for rushing into the front lines, Anansi is hit severely from a javelin-throwing Gith, and
          Sam attracts the attention of a magic-wielding Gith, suffering massive damage as well.
        • Kahvi manages to dispatch her grouping of foes, while Pan manages a desperate healing surge to regroup. Having knocked his foe to the ground with the poison strike, the two trade blows. Anansi’s attack proves fruitless, as does Sam’s, though his inspiring words towards Pan allow his desperate heal.
        • Kahvi takes the opportunity to attack Pan’s foe, killing him with a charged attack; meanwhile Anansi turns his attention on the magic-wielding Gith, who manages to attack Sam severely with a psychic attack, crippling Sam.
        • Seeing his opening, the magic-wielding Gith takes a last pot-shot at Sam, felling him, only to be shot at from range by Kahvi, only to have her miss. The tide having turned on him, this Gith takes flight with Kahvi in pursuit, as Sam clings to death’s door, narrowly escaping a permanent ending with a healthy combination of resilience and luck.
      • As the party begins to inspect the Gith encampment and bodies, they turn up a wealth of loot. The Gith are carrying a massive amount of gold – around 650gp total; but inside the tents, in a giant loot pile, and in an obvious commander’s stash, the party discovers the Gith’s take from the Dead Tyrian Teenagers, which includes:
    • End of Day 8 – The Party reaches Silver Spring by nightfall.
      • As they approach, they are beholden to check in with the guards, identifying themselves to Captain Jown-Zi, who permits them access with the usual reassurances that they will not cause trouble in their peaceful settlement.
      • The party takes stock in the situation in the township, which consists of a market area and a living area populated by eight large caravans. This sight greets them along with several, more permanent settlements of shantytowns populated by who are undoubtedly ex-slaves living on bedrolls, under tarps, et cetera.
      • Near one of the major encampment of slaves,
        Sam notices the presence of the Calshey Family from Ur, a group of slave traders known for their production and stock from the north. It is a caravan made up of almost all slaves – almost two-hundred in number – accompanied by a hundred and twenty people, all of whom remain stoic and dead-silent, with the slaves carefully hidden away.
      • Opposite the oasis from the encampment is the market area, bustling with an active nightlife. The party settles themselves and heads over in order to get a sense of the political world currently in play.
        • In the market area, they encounter Frederick, a blind man, who is playing – and hands-down winning – several hands of poker against transient players. As the party takes the table to play, they are immediately aware that Frederick’s winning streak is undoubtedly due to Monkeyarty, who is proudly perched on Frederick’s shoulder, smoking away and accuses the party of cheating after Pan wins several hands.
        • They converse with Frederick over the next few hands of poker, which Pan still manages to win, as Frederick mentions having flown to Silver Spring with Monkeyarty.
        • While this continues, Anansi conjures a box of eldritch cigars on the party’s end of the table which, proving too much of a temptation for Monkeyarty, he attempts to grab, at which point Anansi reclaims his monkey, and the old man disappears mysteriously.
      • The party begins asking around about the rumors of Tyr and King Kalak’s overthrow, and Tithian’s granting the slaves their freedom. They get this information confirmed.
      • They ask about their mysterious poker-opponent, Frederick, and they learn he was boasting of betting the Dead Tyrian Teenagers that he could outrun their mounts. He was seen returning to town with five crodlu in tow, which likely explains their being stranded in the desert and Frederick’s seed money which he just lost to Pan.
      • Anansi takes on the female persona of Barbara Gordon, and opens a discussion with two of the slaves at the obvious ex-slave camp.
        • She learns their names are Moe and Curley, that they are ex-gladiator slaves out of Tyr.
        • She inquires about the idea of a freedom-fighter army, since the presence of the Calshey’s so close could lead to re-enslavement, since it’s only in Tyr that slavery’s been banished.
        • She then offers to take on the caravans of ex-slaves in order to go after Tosh and his Dune Riders and the fifty-odd slaves they have in their retinue.
        • Moe and Curley advise her that she needs to speak with Anvil, the half-giant leader of the ex-slave army.
      • Taking this information back to the party, Anansi advocates a plan which would pit their many enemies against them, opening the opportunity for them to raid the stores of the Calshey Family, which they would undoubtedly leave behind.
        • As the party demurs, Anansi points out how callous they seemed when the numbers were against them in the Dune Riders’ camp, and this might help them assuage their guilt for leaving those slaves to their fates, while also lining her purse.
        • The party bunkers down for the night, and
          Sam finds himself slipping away into the din of the nightlife in the marketplace.
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Day 1/Session 1 -- OOC Highlights -- Brief
Brief Highlights
  • Komic Sandstone, cousin to Samael, hires Sam, Kahvi, Content Not Found: anansi, and Pan to travel to Tyr to be his eyes and ears on the ground in the city following the recent uprisings following King Kalak’s overthrow and the ensuing political instability.
  • Traveling northeast, shortly after mid-day (2pm-ish, local), the group encountered a Nibenese guard-tower in Bremil Pass. A guard standing watch demanded a tax; several party members knew this was extortion and had enough knowledge of local custom to call the guard’s bluff. Professor Monkeyarty disappeared during the stand-off with the guard, reappearing moments later rappelling out of the top of the tower, lugging a case of expensive cigars and other merchandise, retreating to the top of the tower. Four interior guards, including the tower Captain, engaged the party in combat. A tough fight led to the party’s victory. The party began looting the bodies.
  • Kahvi detected a sizable, thirty-man patrol heading from the northeast to the Guard Tower. Anansi changed form to resemble the Captain, then burned the Captain’s body using an alchemical fire. The Party edged out an escape, heading west and skirting the northern edge of the Stormclaw Mountains.
  • Kahvi led the party in a westerly direction across the Tablelands, while also covering their tracks in the hopes of skirting any pursuers. Three-odd hours later, Sam and Pan – while tag-teaming the scout position – encountered tracks heading in the same direction as their own path. Kahvi recognized the tracks as which they identified as being a mix of kank and others, possibly human; She confirmed her suspicions that they were barefoot humans surrounded by well-shod humans and kank, a sure sign of slavers if she ever knew one.
  • Following the tracks, Kahvi took point, sending signals a quarter-of-a-mile back to Pan, who let Anansi and Sam hang in the rear, waiting on positive signals from the lead. They quickly evaded, lying in wait, some party members hearing activity on the far side of the dune which, after substantial time, subsided.
  • Lying in wait as night fell, all seemed fine until four kank spearmen appeared on the top of a dune to the north. Tosh, the captain who identified the slavers as the Dune Riders, engaged the party in conversation. Anansi, still in the form of the dead Captain from the Bremil Pass tower, engaged Tosh in conversation. Tosh, unimpressed with the new, green Captain, invited the Party back to the Riders’ camp.
  • Sam offered his family name as an indicator of their status, mentioning Komic, thinking that this slaver party might be in his employ and that they were really meant to check up on them.
  • Tosh invited the party back to the camp as guests, in order to entertain the slavers with Sam’s tale of drunken debauchery, to which Anansi and Pan provided accompaniment and support.
  • Deciding on a guard rotation to keep them safe overnight, Sam offered this prudent plan as cold comfort to the rest of the Party, but particularly to Kahvi upon their seeing the destitute state of the slaves in the Riders’ bondage: that his estranged step-mother in Tyr was anti-slavery, and that they could buy the freedom of the slaves who survived the trek across the Tablelands.
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Day 1/Session 1 -- OOC Highlights -- Detailed
Detailed Highlights
  • Komic Sandstone, cousin to Samael, hires Sam, Kahvi, Anansi, and Pan to travel to Tyr to be his eyes and ears on the ground in the city following the recent uprisings following King Kalak’s overthrow and the ensuing political instability;
    • Komic offered 500gp to Sam and Kahvi up-front, with the promise of 1000gp (possibly) on the backend, with the chit of a job to-be-named-later from Komic.
    • After eavesdropping as performers in the Sages’ District, Anansi and Pan joined the party as muscle/assistance following Anansi’s memorable demonstration of her changeling powers (with their up-front possibly coming from Sam’s cut?);
    • Kahvi is serving as their scout through the Tablelands;
    • Kahvi was assured that members of her former clan, including a particular white-haired slave, were sold off, with the white-haired slave going to the Dyan family, a prominent noble family.
    • Professor Monkeyarty, Anansi’s smoking monkey, caused a ruckus in a nearby stall, successfully stealing tobacco and fruit (or something);
    • The party departed at first light the following morning, after purchasing provisions and Pan selling off his beloved, nameless horse (what’s a horse?) for a different, desert-suitable mount.
  • Traveling northeast, shortly after mid-day (2pm-ish), the group encountered a Nibenese guard-tower in Bremil Pass;
    • A guard standing watch demanded a tax; several party members knew this was extortion and had enough knowledge of local custom to call the guard’s bluff;
    • Professor Monkeyarty disappeared during the stand-off with the guard, reappearing moments later rappelling out of the top of the tower, lugging a case of expensive cigars and other merchandise, retreating to the top of the tower;
    • Four interior guards, including the tower Captain, engaged the party in combat;
      • Anansi was quickly targeted by the extorting guard, knocked prone, and severely and harshly attacked;
      • Kahvi, moving to engage the exiting guards, was knocked prone early;
      • Pan was hit hard early by one of the exiting guards;
      • Sam offered an early shot against Anansi’s attacker;
      • Anansi took damage while on the ground, but eventually made it to his feet;
      • Sam offered assistance to both Anansi and Kahvi following their damage, but kept missing each of his attacks;
      • Pan took a tremendous amount of damage, was taken to near death, but at the moment he fell, he struck an impressive blow to his attacker then fell;
      • Anansi teleported across the field to Pan’s attacker, then to the roof of the guard tower, next to Professor Monkeyarty;
      • Kahvi and Sam tag-teamed the original attacker and the Captain, with assisting shots from Anansi on the rooftop, with Sam delivering the killing blow (his only other successful hit of the encounter);
      • Pan blew through his attackers using a combination of shrouds and intangibility, and an assist from Anansi (I believe), ending the encounter.
    • The party began looting the bodies.
      • Sam stopped Anansi from completely cleaning the place out due to practicality and needlessly attracting attention (at Davey’s OOC suggestion);
        • They picked out assorted, innocuous goods and gained 200gp for their troubles (half inside, half on the initial extortionist);
        • Anansi kept the Captain’s signet ring;
        • Kahvi took a cask of water and slung it onto her pack-kank;
      • Kahvi and Sam talked about their fellow party members being obvious magic-users;
        • Sam warned them to keep it toned down to avoid attracting needless attention;
      • Kahvi detected a sizable, thirty-man patrol heading from the northeast to the Guard Tower;
        • Anansi changed form to resemble the Captain, then burned the Captain’s body using an alchemical fire;
        • The Party edged out an escape, heading west and skirting the northern edge of the Stormclaw Mountains.
    • Kahvi led the party in a westerly direction across the Tablelands, while also covering their tracks in the hopes of skirting any pursuers;
      • Three-odd hours later, Sam and Pan – while tag-teaming the scout position – encountered tracks heading in the same direction as their own path;
      • Kahvi recognized the tracks as which they identified as being a mix of kank and others, possibly human;
        • She confirmed her suspicions that they were barefoot humans surrounded by well-shod humans and kank, a sure sign of slavers if she ever knew one;
      • Following the tracks, Kahvi took point, sending signals a quarter-of-a-mile back to Pan, who let Anansi and Sam hang in the rear, waiting on positive signals from the lead;
        • The party planned an end-around, hoping to crest north/north-by-northwest, skirting south of baazrac habitat, but north of their sure-to-be numerous slaver quarry;
        • The tracks wound around dunes until, at dusk around 7pm, hoping the coast was clear of slavers, Kahvi crested a dune, spotted sentries from their quarry, who spotted her in turn and came running after the party;
        • They quickly evaded, lying in wait, some party members hearing activity on the far side of the dune which, after substantial time, subsided;
    • Lying in wait as night fell, all seemed fine until four kank spearmen appeared on the top of a dune to the north;
      • The spearmen were identified by Pan and Kahvi;
      • Tosh, the captain who identified the slavers as the Dune Riders, engaged the party in conversation;
      • Anansi, still in the form of the dead Captain from the Bremil Pass tower, engaged Tosh in conversation;
        • Anansi cast suspicion on Tosh and his men for the Party’s crimes at the Bremil Pass tower (of which Tosh was unaware, having been there the same morning);
        • Tosh sent up a signal hawk at the start of the conversation;
        • Tosh revealed the Captain’s name was Captain Franco, and discovering that Tosh knew him well, Anansi quickly changed forms and identified herself as Captain Ibenay;
        • Tosh questioned ‘Ibenay’’s story of night-exercises to discover the identity of the raiders of the Bremil Pass tower, and especially questioned the presence of Sam and Pan, knowing that Kahvi – as an elven scout – made good sense;
        • Tosh, unimpressed with the new, green Captain, invited the Party back to the Dune Riders’ camp;
          • Tosh’s signal hawk returned, marking the arrival of the other four kank spearmen, on the dune to the Party’s south;
          • Tosh insisted they return, intimating they would become enslaved and sold off;
        • Sam offered his family name as an indicator of their status, mentioning Komic, thinking that this slaver party might be in his employ and that they were really meant to check up on them;
          • Remaining skeptical, Tosh asked for proof of Sandstone birthright;
          • Sam mentioned a knife given him by Razul, the current patriarch, which didn’t impress Tosh;
          • Tosh was reminded of a ribald story involving a nephew of Razul’s, asking Sam if he was that nephew – Sam confirmed;
          • Tosh invited the party back to the camp as guests, in order to entertain the slavers with
            Sam’s tale of drunken debauchery, to which Anansi and Pan provided accompaniment and support.
    • Deciding on a guard rotation to keep them safe overnight, Sam offered this prudent plan as cold comfort to the rest of the Party, but particularly to Kahvi upon their seeing the destitute state of the slaves in the Dune Riders’ bondage: that his estranged step-mother in Tyr was anti-slavery, and that they could buy the freedom of the slaves who survived the trek across the Tablelands.
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Day 1 – The Bremil Pass Incident or Monkeys Like Smoke
From the Journal of Samael Sandstone

Mother Evette,

I told the Nauripides Daughters story again, only this time it saved my life. It saved all our lives, actually.

I’m getting ahead of myself, as usual. Let me start over.

(And for the record, I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing these journal entries to you, Mother Evette. I mean, we are heading to Tyr and everything, only I’m certain that when we make it across these bleached Tablelands – if we make it across this blasted landscape, that is, and based on today’s events, that outcome seems unlikely – I’m not likely to show you this journal. If I do, though – or if by happenstance my remains and their effects make it to you and your house – know that I had you in mind as I was writing these words, both because of what happened, but also because of what you said so many moons ago…but, again, I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Nibenay after dark was bustling. Sage’s Square filled with countless citizens, rich and poor, all thankful for the relief from the day’s oppressive heat – a record, according to the quickly spreading rumor. I was simply content to drink it all in, thankful myself for the almost moderate temperature, as well as the booze, which was plenty, and the women, who were likewise.

I quickly found myself drawn to the western edge of the square, where I caught a sight most strange: beyond market sights familiar was a stage with a couple of troubadours busking for the crowd’s delight. Or I should say for the crowd’s near delight. This odd pair – a gaunt, tall, ashen-faced man delivering a series of strange tales of sights and details so familiar yet faintly wrong was standing alongside an alabaster-skinned lute player, so intent on the fingerwork on the struts of her instrument that she never seemed to notice the crowd throwing more ceramic in front of her over her companion. For my money, however (though not literally, for I wasn’t given the chance, as you’ll soon see), the ashen-faced man’s tall tales – of plentiful forests, a moderate sun, and other unusual, fantastical delights – were going unnoticed and unloved by the crowd, and as I was going approach him to tell him so, I felt a heavy-handed slap-tapping on my shoulder.

Wheeling around, I saw a face familiar to me – Komec, as it turned out; uncle’s fourth wife’s brother, or somesuch. I remembered him vaguely through my dehydration and diminishing drunk, but he smiled, reminded me, quizzed me on my stay in Nibenay, and ribbed me for not seeing him sooner. He was blithely ignorant – and, to be honest, remains so – of your advice to me, following Razul’s challenge: that a man, a Sandstone man, needs to find his own way in the world. I was trying to live by your words, Mother Evette, honestly, and that was why my week-long stay in the city had remained largely unannounced.

Regardless, Komec invited me to grog and conversation, and he talked promise and power when I intimated that I was striking out on my own. He brought up my Incident, briefly, which I shrugged off, and when the conversation returned to my desire to make a name, he began mouthing off about Tyr and the recent unrest there. Komec being Komec – boisterous, belligerent, with that belly-aching laugh that shakes the table when he overstresses it – we quickly attracted attention, particularly that of a lanky Elven female.

She insinuated herself in our conversation, particularly at the mention of enslavement, and things between her and Komec quickly became heated. Before I knew it, the Elf had Komec against a wall, hand tight around his throat, and Komec quickly responded with a blade pressed against her ribs.

I was, to be perfectly honest, shell-shocked.

I knew I was no match for this Elf, even if it was Komec and myself facing her, but I also knew this scene of revelry and joy could soon turn sour. Komec and the Elf exchanged words, and eventually the posturing ended and we all sat. This Elf, Kahvi by name, was interested in knowledge of her enslaved tribe who hailed from Tyr; Komec implied such knowledge, but it came at a price of a hundred gold – a price I thought steep, but a price I was hoping the Elf would pay, as the scenario had me intrigued.

After excusing himself for a brief spell, I engaged Kahvi to offer her some exchange, since I had an interest in making it to Tyr myself and would need a guide, having never made it past the Stormclaws. Komec quickly returned, interrupting our conversation and bottom-lining it all – he would offer us five-hundred gold apiece for Kahvi to lead me in an expedition across the Tablelands, with the promise of more gold when we report back to him the state of play in Tyr. Having done all that, his only other condition was a job-to-be-named later.

With the job laid out, Komec explained the information Kahvi sought – that he knew of an Elven tribe from around the time and location she described; she pressed him for information about a “little jewel” he described at the auction, one who, as it turned out, had stark-white hair and was sold to a prominent family in Tyr, the Dyans, for some…nefarious purposes.

Hearing little more than “gold,” I’m sure, the alabaster lute-ist and her storyteller – Anansi and Pan, I’ve come later to discover – insinuated themselves into our conversation, offering their services. When their apparent skills of lute-playing and storytelling were dismissed, they insinuated more…devious skills, to which Komec asked for a demonstration.

Offering a mystery at first, Anansi directed our attention to a waitress, left with her down an alley, and then the waitress subsequently returned – speaking with Anansi’s voice. If you can believe it, Mother Evette, then your skepticism is weaker than mine and I was there!

Regardless, it seems Anansi has the power to become other people in physical form – some sort of arcane metamorphosis which one is more likely to read about in the histories than to see in real life.

This power demonstrated, and Pan’s intimated at but vouched for by Anansi, we had our party. The particulars of our journey escape me as of this writing – I was deep into my third or fourth mug of grog by this point and, other than setting the agenda of meeting by first light for provisions and reconnoiter, I have only a vague recollection of how that first evening with Komec ended beyond my offer of my share to the minstrels.

At the time of this writing, though, I’m only sure of the events of the next morning – this morning – and the rest of this horrible, horrible day.


I pause in my narrative at this moment to remind you of the events of last year – of Razul’s birthday festival, my house arrest following the Incident, and the last time you and I spoke before your departure to Tyr and everything that’s transpired since then.

You remember, don’t you Mother?

It was one of Razul’s lavish affairs, trying to get all of Balic to celebrate the wonder that is him. I felt fortunate that the culminating festivities were held at our family villa, since my punishment following the Nauripides sisters was four months in the villa with little contact from the outside world, and I was still weeks away from that particular enforcement being lifted – the Veiled Alliance isn’t kind when their patrons are…wronged, are they?

We met in the library, if you recall. Shelves filled with more books than I can ever recall seeing anywhere before, or since. Razul’s desire for possessions as a show of wealth and success certainly overwhelms his intellect – many of the spines cracked as I opened them and read them, having settled since their original owners and writers bound them to begin with.

You met me in there, we exchanged pleasantries, and you immediately started in on the Incident. But what you said to me that night, I’ll never forget – and it actually led to my conversation with Razul, his obsidian gift to me, and started me on the year-long journey that led to the fantastic events of the day.

You said, “Samael…Sam. Sandstone men are a greedy, lustful sort – their hearts are set on the moment, their minds set on self-interests, their hands on whatever feels most soft, most pleasant, most comforting. Temporary things, Sam. Now before you object, before you counter with what the Nauripedes sisters meant to you in your heart, before whatever false platitudes and excuses you’ve been giving yourself and everyone else these past few months, consider this:

“Mathias Sandstone – this house’s founder – thought moves ahead. He saw the way the Balic houses were going to shift power between themselves and he made sure – he charted his path – to ensure his safety no matter the outcome. His savvy – and it was savvy I saw in your uncle, Razul, when we first met – was to see the opportunity, the potential business to be found in the writing on that wall.

“He was a man who charted his own path, Sam. And in doing so, he founded his own house.

“He wasn’t full of excuses; he didn’t offer any bribes to city Templars to forget about embarrassing details of erdlu; he didn’t allow rumors to exist beyond him simply because he was a bored, pampered little brat.

“He found his own way in the world. And I think you should live by that example. And if you live by that challenge, I promise I’ll do the same – and we will meet again, in a year, to see how well we both have lived up to that.

“Think you can do that, Sam?"


The morning light was barely breaking.

I was haggling with a vendor over the price of day rations, hoping to knock a few coin off here and there, but figuring Komec’s name would bring the prices above fair market value. Packing my purchases, I looked across the dusky, dewed square to witness my-soon to-be companions:

Pan, convincing a kank herder to purchase a strange creature Pan called a “horse” – a sort of long-faced, four-legged mount, looking capable of a rider, some provisions, and speed, but probably not built for the Tablelands;

Kahvi loading her kank with fat saddlebags, so full and prepared that it looked almost overloaded, with little room for a rider;

Anansi, arguing with a small, long-tailed Tyrian monkey – whom we had met the night previous, knocking over a stall and scaling a building to its rooftop, fruit and tobacco in hand, arms raised in victory. This was Professor Monkeyarty, as Anansi had explained, an odd name, I thought, and an odder monkey, one who’s painfully addicted, as it turns out, to smoke.

These were the people whose lives I was leading into certain danger, and whose lives I was entrusting with mine.

This should have been my first warning.

That said, the day started out strong, with Kahvi leading us through the morning- and noon-day sun toward Bremil Pass, from which, she assured us, she could lead us west across the Tablelands, shaving a few days from what was certain to be a twelve-day journey to Tyr.

It was Bremil Pass, however, where all the trouble started…


Riding through the cool of the pass, with the two-o’clock sun at our sides, we came on Bremil Pass and a guard tower lying in wait at a choke point in the terrain. As we rode up, the guard stopped us, surveyed us, asked for our point of origin. When we told him Nibenay, his mouth creased into a smile and he demanded gold from us each as a new, regional tax being imposed on the tower.

Anansi, quick with a bargain or a bluff, engaged this extortionist guard, after a quick, whispered consultation among many of us familiar with the area yet unfamiliar with the tax. Our attempts to sway him, to let him pass, even to offer up the family name as an example of our influence were for naught, and as we were trying to decide the next move, that move was decided for us.

Just as Anansi noticed Professor Monkeyarty was absent from the party, we heard a commotion, noticed an arrow whizzing past us from the second story window, and saw his little monkey body scurry up to the roof of the guard tower, clutching what appeared to be a cigar box to his chest the way a mother would cradle and infant from a burning building. As soon as we could yell at Monkeyarty to stop his…ahem, monkeyshines…the battle was joined.

The extortionist guard took a swipe at Anansi, felling her with one blow knocking her prone to the ground; his fellow guards, including a Captain, quickly filed from inside the tower and began to take positions; Kahvi darted forward, and she began to engage two of the guards only to get knocked down herself; inexplicably, Pan — who was riding beside my own erdlu mount and myself — disappeared in a puff of smoke, the smell of brimstone, and a flash of black light, only to reappear a few yards away, engaging with a guard at the furthest flank on the battlefield.

Feeling emboldened and fresh, I took a shot at Anansi’s foe, striking my quarry with an initial hit from my greatbow. Even with two companions down, my first strike was making me feel enlightened, making me feel battle-ready, making me feel bold and decisive. I offered a few inspiring words to my companions, hoping that my encouragement would help them back to their feet, hoping that shouting formations I had read in my studies in the stacks would help turn the tide against these five, lone, human guards.

Do you remember, Mother Evette, the summer when I was twelve and I stayed with you and Razul when the two of you still lived in the villa on the eastern edge of Balic? How Razul kept me with Icher, his mul master-at-arms, during the bulk of my days, and all I did whinge and complain bitterly about the heat, and I would beg and plead for the shade and the cool of Razul’s library, of the crisp feeling of parchment beneath my fingertips? And do you remember how Razul caught Icher, on a particularly blustery day, beating me with my own palmwood shortbow, the string snapped and slapping me like a whip? How he stood there, leaning against a pillar, watching this mul wail and wail at me with my own weapon? How I didn’t fight back, how disappointed Razul’s face was, and how he sentenced the mul to a death in the desert despite my failings?

I only mention this story, Mother Evette, because I wish now, today, that I had listened more closely to Icher, that I had heeded his teachings a bit better, that I had practiced my bowmanship as he taught me, and that I had learned to hit a target just a bit better.

My skills, Mother Evette, are sharp — I will give myself that much credit. And to their credit, I am able to be an effective leader of men — my time in some of Razul’s caravans over the last year has taught me that, rousing the troops against the odd baazrag or wild boar attack.

But facing five highly-trained Nibanese guards with nothing but a ragtag group of unproven mercenaries, scouts, and brigands? Not knowing if I would survive the next twelve days let alone the next twelve minutes?

Well, that must have affected my resolve more desperately than I thought, for each successive arrow I nocked, each fletching I let fly, flew further and further from the targets I called. Here, my battlemates were valiantly swinging — wildly in some cases, fighting for their lives — while I comically zig-zagged across the pass on the back of my preening crodlu, arrow-after-arrow missing the mark by inches and, oftentimes, by feet.

Embarrassing doesn’t begin to cover it.

I saw some amazing things in the midst of this battle, displays of courage from my companions that came from wellsprings I know not of — Anansi and Kahvi repeatedly being knocked back off their feet, fighting for their lives until they saw an opening for an attack or to regain their footing; Pan striking his foes using arcane methods, surrounding them with thick shrouds of shadow which would then explode around them like thunderheads breaking free; even the enemy, fighting for their lives, would strike boldly and bravely, swiftly changing angles of attack, taking every advantage at their disposal.

None of this — none of this — equals some of the sights I saw in the final moments of battle. You know I know of magic — Uncle Gamelin, as you well know, has his entertainment routine which he registers with the Veiled and keeps current and up to date, though I think it’s merely prestidigitation and charisma and not arcane forces; I had a friend who dabbled when I was still a boy; and, of course, the Nauripides incident involved some of that. Regardless, despite my limited experience with magic, the stories I’ve read and the things I’ve seen all pale in comparison to what I witnessed at Bremil Pass.

As if the teleportation wasn’t enough, I swear when I looked across the battlefield I saw this happen with my companion, Pan — as true as I am sitting here in a slaver camp, free as a bird, writing this entry to you, my dearest aunt. Pan was wounded, staggering, slumped, and breathing bloody bubbles but still bravely facing his foe, sword at the ready. At his enemy’s next strike — a blow I would swear to you should have ended Pan’s life where he stood — Pan readied his weapon and delivered a punishing blow in kind to the enemy…and then dropped dead where he was.
Knowing I had seconds to spare, I immediately steered my crodlu across the path and shouted my own impossibly worthless words of encouragement to Pan, someone who, I believe, has a more interesting story than anyone you or I know in the heavens and in the earth combined. I witnessed this man — this man who, hand to the dead gods, had just died, regain his footing, cast another black cloud over his foe, and proceed to explode those clouds and the person encircled within.

This was happening, by the way, simultaneously and concurrently to events which were technically closer to me, as Anansi yelled a curse at one of her nearby foes, seemed to summon dark energies to not only produce eldritch tentacles wrapping up said foe and felling him, before using that dark energy to teleport herself to the top of the tower next to her monkey. From that vantage, she rained down eldritch blasts on our foes — none of them effective as best as I could tell, but the confusion and the distraction proved a boon to Kahvi and myself once we engaged the remaining soldiers, including the Captain.

Kahvi dispensed a few of them once she found her footing, and Pan found his second wind by this point, wrapping his foe in clouds. She stood her ground, took aim at the Captain, and while hitting, knocking him back, and staggering him into the possibility of one of Anansi’s blasts, the Captain stood, wavering.

Ready to fall.

I steadied my greatbow, thought of Icher and the feeling of my shortbow cracking against my ribs. I held my breath. Steadied my aim further. And then released a shot which stood straight into the Captain’s right eye.

At this point, Pan’s foe exploded in a flash of searing blacklight, and the dust around the battlefield settled quietly among four…make that five dazed adventurers.


So if our day was one, why do my feelings sound so hollow? Why does my account ring so hopeless?

Soon after our pyrrhic victory, our party began a brief argument – largely between Anansi and myself, as she was interested in picking the place clean, Pan didn’t seem to care and Kahvi was staying largely aloof as well. Ultimately, I advised Anansi to loot the materiel that could largely stay untraceable – gold, odd assortments of innocuous goods, and the party decided that a cask of water would be advisable as well, which Kahvi strapped to her much-burdened kank.

I then advised Pan and Anansi, in no uncertain terms, that their magic usage needs to be curbed as much as possible – I knew full well what such unfettered displays of arcana would do to them, and to us for harboring them as well. Pan agreed in a sort of noncommittal way; Anansi barely acknowledged her agreement, as she worked a signet ring off the dead Captain’s corpse.

Watching her over the body of our fallen foe, I looked down at him, remembering his own lack of success in battle, his own frequent misses, and I wondered if one day Anansi would be working some trinket off of my own corpse.

I couldn’t linger too long in this reverie, as Kahvi alerted us to an advancing force – thirty-odd soldiers, she said, a detachment coming back from patrols, by the looks of it. Anansi took one look at Kahvi, one look at the dead Captain, and instantly shifted her looks like putty to appear as the Captain. Pan intuited her strategy, but pointed out that the body was right there, and wouldn’t the soldiers suspect something was amiss if a corpse and a person shared the same face?

Almost without thought, Anansi produced a small ampule of alchemical fire which she threw down, shattering it against the Captain’s chest and immediately catching the corpse in flames. I watched for a moment while my companions mounted their steeds, and then I likewise mounted mine as Kahvi led us west, skirting the northern edge of the Stormclaws.


Our path was treacherous, slowed somewhat by our scout doubling back to cover our tracks, or slow us down to find terrain ample to leave no trail. Pan and I covered for her while she was on our flank, and it was in the midst of this process that I spotted some tracks ahead of us and pointed them out to Pan.

We both examined them, but the best we could determine is that they were heading in the same direction as ourselves, they were numerous, and they were of mixed creature types. Not having much to go on, Pan and I stopped the rest of the party, while Pan went to retrieve Kahvi, to let her determine the nature of the tracks.

Slavers, she determined, pointing out the telltale signs of kank and shod human feet on the outside, joined by barefeet human tracks in the middle. She guessed a total party of about forty or so, half-and-half by number, with about eight kank riders astride.

Way, way, way too many to be a viable number for a physical confrontation.

We quickly decided on a plan of Kahvi scouting a half-mile ahead, following the trail which continued in the direction she was already leading us, with Pan taking up the middle signal position, while I kept Anansi and Monkearty company in the rear.

Evening was rising around us, the desert starting to cool, and this process was slow and tedious – particularly with a bickering changeling and monkey couple in tow behind me. After one of our many check-ins as a group, it was decided that we needed to make an end-around, try to take our path in a wider arc around the dunes to, hopefully, overtake our quarry and move on past them, putting a sizable distance between ourselves and the group we were following.

As dusk settled, Kahvi risked cresting a dune in order to get a sense of our position relative to theirs. In the fading light, she spotted some sentries silhouetted by the setting sun, only they spotted her immediately, too, and gave chase. She retreated back to the party, indicated a desire – nee, need – to run and run quick, and we harem-scarum retreated to the shelter in the lee of a neighboring dune, hunkering down and remaining deathly silent, hearing the maneuvers and searching of the sentries on the settling air behind us.

Night settled as we waited, all the light draining from the desert, with the only available light the poor-quality blue cast down from Ral, ascendant and full, and Guthay, in transition and one-quarter. I was virtually blind, and I imagine some of my other companions were as well, but given Kahvi and Pan’s level of alertness, I could only gather some natural abilities they possessed which I lack.

Just as things seemed to settle and our need to make a next move became apparent, Kahvi and Pan froze, trying to direct our attention to four kank spearmen cresting the dune to our north and settling on top. One of the three introduced himself as Tosh, the Captain of the contingent – known as the Dune Riders – and he asked our business.

Anansi, unprompted, stepped forward, still wearing the visage of the Bremil Pass Captain under her desert clothing. She introduced herself, in a male persona, as the captain of the guard tower, and tried to turn the conversation back on Tosh, insinuating his guilt in the party’s crimes. Tosh released a hawk into the night sky, and then engaged Anansi in conversation. He revealed the dead Captain’s name – Franco – and that he had just been fleeced by Franco and his men earlier that evening, and Anansi revealed her new visage – presumably just created – and name as ‘Ibenay,’ having just replaced Franco following today’s…incident.

Tosh remained skeptical of our story, buying into it some but seeing opportunity where we saw none – our hope was that Anansi’s bluff would convince him, and our story held water, but he kept pointing to myself and Pan as the odd-men out. He believed that ‘Ibenay’ would have a elven desert scout to help them on night maneuvers tracking down the arsonist raiders who took out the guard tower, but he didn’t buy why an odd pairing such as Pan and I would be with the group. He insisted we discuss the details back at camp, and in shackles.

At that moment, the hawk returned. And behind us, four more kank spearmen flanked us from the south.

We were destined to be enslaved, it seemed.

Without much of a choice, I stepped forward and introduced myself. Fully. Not being familiar with the Dune Riders at all, it seemed a fair possibility that Tosh would have worked for – if not directly, then indirectly – cousin Komec, and would certainly know Razul by reputation. Their association with slavers would have brought these guys into their influence at some point. Tosh immediately suspected me, asking for proof to my Sandstone heritage.

All I had was this obsidian knife Razul gave me, and the story attached to it. Neither of which impressed Tosh at all. Even namechecking Komec seemed points against us, as Tosh identified him as a filthy degenerate – an accurate description, and one I wasn’t apt to disagree with.
Just when all seemed lost, just when we could feel the bite of the shackles on our wrists, just when we could imagine the years of toil and pain that went with it, inspiration struck Tosh.

“You weren’t the Sandstone…the one with that incident, were you?” I knew exactly what he was talking about, Mother Evette. My biggest brag; my biggest shame. He started relating fragments of the story – the fragments that he had heard. I’ve heard enough variations to know which version he was familiar with – the strain that left out some of the Veiled details, but the one that added in the deviance and the erdlu. Names seemed fuzzy for him, so I figured concubines would do, and I knew exactly the story he wanted to hear – no matter how far from the facts it may have been.

He insisted we come back to camp, that I tell the story to his other slavers, that we have a jolly good time. He insinuated that I would, for certain, be his guest, and I made sure to vouch for my companions as well – valiant men, women, and monkeys who had ultimately saved my life that afternoon, and whose lives I had saved likewise.

I couldn’t abandon them to this…man.

So we returned to his camp. We put on a good show. As entertaining as it was – Anansi’s lute accompanying my ribald details which seemed to shock, horrify, and titillate the slavers as well as some of my companions; Pan provided some colorful interjections which, to be quite honest, weren’t entirely inaccurate while also being…creative…well, I couldn’t help but let my gaze drift to the twenty-odd, shackled figures sitting just outside the firelight, eyes burning hate into the sand as their naked figures shivered in the dropping temperatures of the night.

I could tell many of them, Kahvi in particular, were eaten away by such a sight, and it was a sight that, by all rights, I should be used to as well. So here I sit, having been relieved of first shift guard duty this first night with my new companions, in a slaver camp taking in their…hospitality…feeling dirty and wrong and sick about it all. I can’t sleep, so I thought I’d write to you, knowing that I’ve taken my first step. Knowing that heading towards Tyr, regardless of what Komec has in store for us, is the right thing to do, if only so that we can keep our appointment. Most of all, though, it’s knowing how close I was to enslavement – in spite of my family name, even – so I know that this business of ours…of Razul’s, of Komec’s…well, in many ways, it strikes me as a dangerous one to be in, right?

After all, every man charts his own path.

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Dark Sun Adventure Log!
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Background.

Our story opens with four characters with an array of experiences, goals and secrets.

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