The Lost Seas

Background
In the course of Athasian history, where does the campaign begin?

The Death of Kalak, the Revolutionary Council, and the New Tyr
On the first day of the Year of the Priest’s Defiance, the sorceror-king Kalak of Tyr was assassinated during a gladiatorial match by the mul gladiator Rikus. The city-state could easily have slid into chaos and civil war. However, a Revolutionary Council was quickly formed and appointed Tithian of Mericles the new king of free Tyr. The Revolutionary Council consisted of representatives from the nobles (primarily Agis of Asticles, a powerful psionicist who organized the nobles against Kalak and convinced them to accept Tithian’s First Edict), the templars, the tradesmen, the merchants, the military, and the freed slaves (represented by Sadira, a powerful half-elf sorceress and former slave who many see as being an agent for the Veiled Alliance) as well as Rikus.

Tithian’s First Edict was to free the slaves and abolish slavery within the territory controlled by Tyr. This made him enormously popular with the people and allowed him (and the Revolutionary Council) great leeway in reshaping Tyrian society. The templars, formerly Kalak’s servitors, became the new civil servants and administrator class of the city. Having lost the magical power gained from Kalak, they turned to new forces, building observatories and looking to the stars. The Tyrian Guard reshuffled itself and began to professionalize, with experienced soldiers rising to positions of power to replace the templars who had previously dominated the command ranks. The gladiators, always popular in Tyr and a big part of the revolution, generally became highly-sought-after guards or joined the elite Crimson Legion in the military.

The Dragon’s levy
Now, a year has passed since Kalak’s death. Tyr’s iron mines are shipping ore again, and its economy is struggling through the process of reforming itself without the crutch of slavery. The season of the Dragon approaches, and some in Tyr wonder what Tithian intends to do about the Dragon’s levy. Since the beginning of time, Tyr (and the other city-states) have provided the Dragon with a sacrifice of a thousand slaves per year, marched off into the desert for an unknown purpose, never to return. Kalak’s assassination occurred on the first day of the season of the Dragon, and Tyr did not pay its levy that year in the chaos of revolution. The Dragon stalked the Wastes, collecting levies from the other city-states, but no wrath fell on Tyr for not upholding its traditional duty. This may have emboldened King Tithian to deny the Dragon again, a move that could both make him widely admired (standing up to the evil of the Dragon) but also widely reviled (endangering Tyr). In any case, without slaves, Tyr cannot pay the levy except with free citizens, and surely having the king’s army round up a thousand freemen to turn over to the Dragon would destroy Tithian’s popularity. The problems looms ever closer with no solution on the horizon, even as merchants begin to bring news that the silhouette of the Dragon has been seen in the distance, and the season is beginning.

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Meetup and Crystal Spiders
The Place of Forgetting 1 (revised Marauders of the Dune Sea)

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Vilsis.

2 Sorrow in the Year of the Wind’s Reverence

One day after the celebration of Liberation Day, the dwarf Choum, representative of merchant House Shom, convenes a gathering of five adventurers at the Golden Inix tavern in the city of Tyr.

After making introductions, Choum explains that he is looking to hire a party to track down a certain individual who is in possession of an artifact that House Shom is interested in acquiring. He is reluctant to share any further information until the party commits to taking on the job. Despite some initial skepticism about Shom’s motives, the group agrees to join together an accept the job.

Satisfied with the commitment, Choum goes on to explain that a man named Felix from a small farming village of Bellinga had arrived in Tyr with an ancient sword that he found buried on his family’s land. He met with several merchant houses in Tyr, including House Shom, none of whom apparently offered him an acceptable price for the item. Choum says that he offered Felix 5,000 dragons for the sword, but was ultimately prepared to pay 10,000. Choum was expecting Felix to return the following day, at which point he would offer him the full price (and then go on to sell the item for much more, potentially in another city-state).

However, Felix never showed up for this meeting. Questioning the Golden Inix’s half-elf bartender, Rowan, Choum discovered that Felix had hurried into the Inix, extremely scared or distressed, quickly paid the bill for his lodging, and left with his belongings. Rowan says that Felix mentioned heading towards home, and that he was carrying a bundle on his back that looked roughly sword-shaped.

Choum offers to pay the party 1000 dragons to bring back Felix and the sword. However, if the party only brings back the sword, he will pay them the full price for it: 10,000 dragons. He explains that Bellinga is located northeast of Tyr. It will require about 5 days of travel to reach, starting on the merchant road to the iron mines, but eventually heading into the mountains.

After negotiating an advance from Choum (he provides a pouch that the party ultimately opens to find 200 dragons), the party bought food, water, and budget sun balm for 7 days of travel.

The trip north on the merchant road, including a night of camping, is uneventful.

However, not long after leaving the road and heading through the mountains, some party members notice a shimmering substance stretched across a rocky pass. They are able to recognize this as the web of the Crystal Spider. Despite a nagging sense that these beasts hunt on the ground, Birel Windchaser threw a stone at the web, leading one spider to move out into the open.

As some of the party attacked the spider through its web, others took on the short, but deceptively slippery slope to the top of the rocky outcroppings on either side of the slope. From here, a second spider was sighted. In the ensuing battle, most of the party was temporarily blinded (some more than once) by radiant beams shot from the spiders’ abdomens.

On the recommendation of party members well versed in crystal spider physiology, Vilsis took advantage of the spiders’ inherent vulnerability to thunder damage, firing arrow after arrow infused with elemental thunder spirits. A few of these arrows actually hit spiders. Meanwhile, finding himself atop the ridge and flanked by the two beasts, Bost valiantly struck one of the spiders to the floor of the pass below, shattering it to pieces. Unfortunately, before the second spider could be vanquished, it blinded and then bit Bost, infecting him with crystal venom. The poisoning quickly put him into a coma, and nearly killed him but for a last-minute healing intervention by Birel.

The crystalline webs ended up being quite new and had not entrapped any prior travelers. For their trouble, the party salvaged no treasure.

After taking time to rest and allow Bost to regain his vigor, the party continued toward Bellinga. After five days of travel, on 7 Sorrow, they arrived to find several men congregated around a trading post in the center of town.

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Finding the Place of Forgetting
The Place of Forgetting 2 (revised Marauders of the Dune Sea)

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Bost.

On 7 Sorrow, the group of adventurers arrives in Bellinga, the home village of Felix. Hoping to find the whereabouts of Felix and his copper-hilted sword, the group questions a number of farmers. The farmers explained the little that they knew about Felix: Felix is a young man who primarily makes his living as a farmer. He lives with his family, and has a local sweetheart named Elissa. Recently, a rock-slide on his farm unearthed a number of relics from a long-forgotten era. Felix had traveled to Tyr, hoping to profit from this discovery. Unfortunately, the farmers did not know his current location.

The adventurers continued their investigation by searching for Elissa. With the farmers’ help, the adventurers easily located her residence. After the group convinced Elissa’s mother that they meant no harm, Elissa appeared and consented to speak about Felix. According to Elissa, Felix recently appeared at their home and requested sanctuary. Felix explained to Elissa that while he was visiting Tyr, he was accosted by a number of thugs. Normally somewhat timid, Felix was surprised when he felt violent rage take hold of him, as he greedily slew his attackers. Somehow, Felix knew that the mysterious sword in his possession was responsible. Alarmed, he fled Tyr and returned to Bellinga, with the goal of purging himself of the cursed sword at a place called The Place of Forgetting.

When asked to describe The Place of Forgetting, Elissa responded with the little she knew. The Place of Forgetting is a mystical site, located in the vicinity of Bellinga “where the breath of the Dragon scours the black earth.” While it was once a temple dedicated to some ancient, forgotten power, it is now a site where people go in order to be purged of painful memories.

Elissa’s knowledge of the site was primarily expressed through the fable of Junius and Crespa. In this tale, a bereaved husband travels to the Place of Forgetting to relieve himself of the memories of his recently departed wife. The exact meaning of this legend, if any, is still to be uncovered by the adventurers.

The adventurers promised to help Elissa find Felix, and Elissa and her family reciprocated by offering lodging for the night. Thankful for their hospitality, Dazeel put on a puppet show unlike any that the family has ever seen.

Early in the morning of 8 Sorrow, the adventurers set out to find the Place of Forgetting. With the only clue being that it was located nearby “where the breath of the Dragon scours the black earth”, the adventurers attempted to use what they knew about nature and history to intuit and perceive the correct location. Unfortunately, the adventurers were stumped.

As they wandered the hilly region, the adventurers spotted a band of humans and tareks approaching in the distance. Some of the humans appeared to be bound in captivity. The adventurers quickly took cover on the incline of a hill. As they debated whether or not to attack these apparent slavers, Bost, the ungraceful mul, inadvertently alerted the slavers to their presence in an attempt to spy on them further.

Thinking quickly, and possibly foolishly, the party called out to the slavers and identified themselves as part of the Crimson Legion. Alarmed and confused, the tarek minions looked to their leaders. Oddly, the two humans in raider garb, upon hearing that the adventurers were supposedly from the Crimson Legion, merely snorted and began to bark orders to the tareks. The slavers flanked the adventurers, and closed in to attack. Initially, it did not go well. Birel Windchaser was violently assaulted and entered a state of shock, where she became perilously close to death. But the adventurers rallied. Dazeel deftly maneuvered herself to the peripheries of the battlefield, as she sliced opponent after opponent with her chatkcha. Zuri utilized the powers of chaos to the slavers’ horrifying detriment and Vilsis’ arrows rained death as the eladrin dexterously commanded the battlefield. Bost tenaciously stood his ground, guided by a sense of vengeance once he recognized the slavers as belonging to the same group that once enslaved himself and his family. With a will to live only found on Athas, Birel miraculously recovered and rejoined the fight. The adventurers’ victory became certain, and the slavers’ minions fled as they witnessed the deaths of their employers.

Once they prevailed, the adventurers helped the slaves free themselves. Thankful, the slaves assisted the adventurers in finding the Place of Forgetting. While their knowledge was as unsophisticated as Elissa’s, they were able to provide enough assistance that the party felt confident in continuing their search. After some exploring, the party found a patch of sand contrasting with a black stone hill. From there, they saw an odd site in the distance: a violent sandstorm that seemed to be confined to a small area at the base of a cliff. The adventurers steeled themselves as they prepared to embark into this dusty unknown.

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The Claw of Peace
The Place of Forgetting 3 (revised Marauders of the Dune Sea)

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Zuri.

Now that our heroes had discovered what they believed to be the Place of Forgetting (albeit hidden behind a violent and mysterious sandstorm), they took the opportunity of a brief respite to rest and recover after their perilous battle with the Red Chord. Thus it was in the predawn hours of 9 Sorrow that further investigation of the sandstorm began.

A survey of the sandstorm’s perimeter revealed a collection of tracks and footprints leading in and out of the storm’s center, and after an initial testing of the storm’s severity using Birel’s polearm and Bost’s real arm, a plan was put into motion. The group sent in Zuri (with a rope around his waist), hoping that its Shardmind form would protect it from any ill effects of exposure to the sands. After Zuri returned relatively unhurt and only slightly polished, the party decided to brave the sandstorm as a group, using the cliff wall as a guide and a well tied rope as insurance. The sandstorm proved to be a dangerous violent maelstrom, but the party persevered and pressed on until they reached the storm’s edge.

Once the party emerged safely from the ravaging winds of the sandstorm barricade, they found themselves facing the arched gateway of a dark cavern. Some of the party were quick to notice that this arch, carved handsomely with the figures of snakes, was crackling with electricity. Something was amiss. Bost observed that the electrical energy seemed to be emanating from a Rune at the rightmost bass of the arch. “A room?”, asked Birel. “No, a Rune, R-U-N-E.”, replied Bost, as they both slowly approached the offending artifact to investigate further. Now closer to the entrance of the cavern, signs of motion in the darkness were observed. After a moments thought, Chat’G’Hak was able to deduce that this was assuredly a Rune Trap, easily bested by her thieving prowess. As the others stood guard against the unknown motions, Chat masterfully disarmed the Rune Trap, even taking a moment to glance back to her allies with a boastful wink. Success.

Upon entering the cavern, it was revealed that the mysterious motions in the darkness were in fact a pack of adorably hideous hejkin. The battle was engaged at once and the hejkins quickly displayed their mastery of electrical attacks, but the impressive light show did very little to contain the mighty assault of our noble heroes. Even brave Vilsis (tasked with guarding the cavern’s entrance) played his part by tricking one of the hejkin into believing that it had been flanked, a ruse that would surely not work again. As the final blows were being dealt, a lone bloodied hejkin managed to escape the fray retreating down a passageway to the left.

After catching their breaths above the battered hejkin bodies, the party was set to choose between the two passages that lay before them. Using their far-hearing talents Bost was able to report that all was silent down the rightmost passage, while Zuri claimed to hear what sounded like wind chimes within the leftmost (presumably hejkin filled) passage. The group chose to begin with the silent route, but all that met them there was a mysterious closed door, recently barricaded by planks and electrically charged in a manner similar to the Rune Trap encountered earlier. No rune could be seen however, nor any other means of disarmament. An apparent dead end.

The party then backtracked and continued down the leftmost path. Soon they discovered the source of the wind chime sound that Zuri had described. It was not chimes at all, but in fact a stream of water running down the wall of the cave, a sight that shocked and astounded the party who took a brief moment to fill their canteens with this amazingly fresh spring water.

The passage eventually opened into the corner of a large room, littered with refuse, and with a large open pit at its center. Across the room sat another group of hejkin, including the cowardly fiend that had escaped demise earlier. The hejkin chief called out in Dwarvish inviting the party to “parley” and accept their “claw of peace”. Bost, the only one among the party that spoke Dwarvish, carried on diplomatic talks from afar. Eventually Chat’G’Hak, sensing deception (or perhaps simply not understanding the Dwarvish peace talks), flung her chatchka toward the head of one of the advancing hejkin and the battle began. The hejkin chief struck a large carapace hanging from the cavern wall which made a sound like a gong. This called forth a vicious Chuul that emerged from the pit intending to make a meal of our brave heroes.

The battle was a fierce, but one by one the hejkin underlings fell until only the Chuul and the Chief remained. Eventually the Chuul succumbed to a barrage of attacks from all sides, putting an end to its miserable existence. The hejkin chief continued to mount his stubborn assault, but the party gradually surrounded the fiend and the writing was on the wall. Bost demanded that the near dead chief cease his attacks, offering him a swift death and a respectful burial if he would lay down his arms. The chief was unable to respond however, as Bost’s request ended not with words, but with his blade, separating the chief’s head from his newly christened corpse.

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Snake-fuck Dungeon
The Place of Forgetting 4 (revised Marauders of the Dune Sea)

9 Sorrow, continued, as remembered by Birel

After defeating the remaining hejkins in their lair, we were able to take a breather and claim what loot was to be had. Most of the hejkins had nothing of value, but we scavenged about a hundred dragons from the bottom of the chuul pit, and the leader had a couple magic items of note—Zuri identified gauntlets of braxat power which Bost took (along with a non-magical but lavishly dyed belt) and a safewing geode amulet which I claimed. There was also a small room off to the side containing a table and some ink which Zuri appropriated, explaining that it could be used for rituals.

We were tired from the battle but still too wound up to sleep, so Vilsis and I headed back out to check on the door we saw earlier that seemed to have some sort of ward or rune trap on it. When we approached this time all signs of magic had disappeared, presumably due to the death of the hejkin chief. We left it locked for the time being and returned to the hejkin lair. It stank, but at least it was cooler than the desert, and it had only one entrance to guard. We slept.

Upon waking we proceeded back to the door—there was nowhere else to go—and forced it open. A short way down the hallway a pair of alcoves branched off to either side, each with a basin of liquid and a cup. One was maroon and the other aquamarine, which brought to mind the story of Junius and Crespa, but we could find no sign of Felix or his sword, so we continued on.

Eventually the corridor opened up to a large chamber where we encountered some reptilian-insectoid creatures known as kruthiks. The first few were ornery but not especially dangerous, but we soon found out that those were just hatchlings, and when the parent appeared things became much more interesting. Vilsus was quite successful at picking off the runts, but the large beast boasted a sturdy carapace which seemed nearly impossible to penetrate. Fortunately most of its attention was focused on Bost, who does not bleed easily himself. Eventually we took the creature down, but the battle was fatiguing.

In addition to the door through which we entered the chamber, there were two more doorways, but one was blocked by debris from what appeared to be rather thorough cave-in, so we went the other way. This took us through a corridor that had off to one side a tiny room with robe scraps and broken jars, and a sizable crack in the wall on the other side. The first substantial room we came to contained the remains of the kruthik eggs. (Looks like kruthiks may have arrived relatively recently through the crack in the corridor and set up house, after which the hejkins locked, reinforced, and trapped that door to avoid fighting them.)

Continuing on we came across another pair of alcoves with urns and some grim-sounding warnings, possibly to discourage looting of the following chamber, which was quite a find. The chamber itself was unsettling, with statues depicting some sort of hybrid snake people, and a shallow pit full of small snake skeletons which produced a hissing sound despite no visible signs of life. But most importantly, there was a chair on which was set, nestled in a pile of bones, a magnificent sceptre with a golden pommel. I was about to reach for it when some of my companions brought up misgivings, going so far as to suggest that we just leave it alone. Zuri claimed that there was real magic still at work in the room, but that sceptre is probably worth at least as much as Felix’s sword, and I’m sure we could sell it to Choum for a good price even if we never find Felix. The discussion started to get heated when Bost, who had been looking pensive, finally declared, “Well, the adventure is scaled to our level.” This halted the conversation while we all tried to figure out what he was talking about. I guess it must have something to do with primal energy. In any case we all agreed that we could leave the sceptre alone for now while continuing our search for Felix. It should be easy enough grab on the way out.

Delving deeper into the caves we entered yet another corridor, which forked into a mossy door on one side and a passageway with a dim green light on the other. Vilsus and Zuri, being the quietest of our troop, ventured off to investigate the light. They described it opening into a large room with an altar in the center and walls covered with carvings of snakes, each of with a pair of dimly glowing green eyes, casting an eerie glow about the room. We went through the mossy door.

The room this entered into was covered by fungus, as were a few crouching shapes off to one side. We stepped along the pit to investigate, keeping our distance from the amorphous masses, which brought to mind stories some of us had heard of myconids, walking fungi noted for completely inscrutable behavior. According to legend they behave neither like people nor like animals, in some cases staying inert and aloof despite cajoling and even threats, and in other instances flying into a fury without provocation.

While we were discussing this I looked back and noticed that the shapes were now blocking our exit, although none of us saw them move.

Until they opened their eyes.

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Dazeel gets her groove back
The Place of Forgetting 5 (revised Marauders of the Dune Sea)

From the diary and future autobiography of Chat’G’Hak AKA Dazeel: Orchid of the Dunes.

I am not accustomed to being unconscious. What caused my blackout I do not know. Place of Forgetting indeed! Not even able at first to recall the names of my clutchmates in training, I had enough sense to grip tight my precious metal blade and fall into the darkest corner that my strange surroundings afforded me. Slowly I regained the higher functions of my fractured mind. The taste in the air was foul. Not the kind of putrid foul of the Chuul pit with its rotting and unbuffed chitin within. Not the kind of putrid sweetness of an oasis hiding a bitter enemy… The taste on the air was musky. Old. Like music from a dusty lyre.

My beautiful eyes settled on the black within black in the center of a room that my team (privately dubbed “Team Sparkle”) has entered. I wished not to voice a warning so loud as to alert Team Sparkle for I knew not what slithering tympanic membrane may detect my presence from the pit punctuating the room like the pupil of a man’s eye. Darkness in this moment was my friend. If I were needed to spring into action, I’d have to orient myself to the surroundings first and gain sure footing.

It turned out that the musky taste was a frutescent cluster of mushrooms. Though surprised I was when they started MOVING, they hardly looked threatening. For a moment they looked as if they would not attack, but instead offer us rest and a snack of whatever it is that animated fungi enjoy orally.

NAY! They did not offer us a morsel. They instead offered us GLORIOUS BATTLE. It seemed from my vantage point that a mul warrior, shardmind wizard, eladrin, and sexy elf could easily handle these phallic knaves. How tough could their skin be? Then the TRUE threat to Team Sparkle’s safety arose from that black and most musky pit. I’ve never actually seen a mushroom before, so I can’t honestly say that I know what I’m writing about, but this creature had to be the second-largest—no, largest—mushroom ever to exist. From its blade-like gills spewed a dusty semen that caused the rest of Team Sparkle to more than flinch. At first, disgust was in their expressions…then repulsion…then as if the spores spattered across their mouths like a creamy mustache was casual business attire, they relaxed. Fortunately, I was not in the spray zone, so I decided to take action.

Without a sound I sprung into…well…actions, actually. The aforementioned “action” included:

A backflip, a flourish, drawing of my sacred metal blade, a check of my six to see if anything was behind me, a glance of admiration in the glinting reflection of myself in the dagger, a check to make sure I still had my chatkcha, and a deep plunge into the fleshy domed cranium of what had to be the mother of all shrooms.

The battle was so inglorious that I fail to remember much of it. I’m sure it will come to back to me eventually, but I certainly can’t foretell the need to bore an audience with the recounting without some much-needed embellishment. Perhaps the advances made by our spore foes were misinterpreted? In town they could be real “fun-guys” to cavort with…get it?

When the room fell silent and my mates came to their senses, we looked around for treasure and found a few supplies and curios. Perhaps it is my cosmopolitan indoctrination that drives me to enjoy the quest for treasure. It is doubtless however that what I consider a treasure and what the others in Team Sparkle consider a treasure are conceptually disparate.

What follows next I find difficult to interpret. At least, I find it hard to put into words that folk with soft vocalization could understand. Restless as usual, I crept up the unexplored fork in our path. I noticed the sounds of a struggle ahead. My homuncular friend Bost sensed danger. I hadn’t even noticed him with me. He’s quiet for such a brute. I’m growing to like him very much. He shows bravery that is unmatched, but it is his drive that opens his character to me. He seems compelled to adventure for reasons somewhat similar to my own. I would say that he is marginalized like me, but then our party has a crystalline entity, and a speedy little thing that smells like food. I suppose that makes us all a bit “marginal.”

Usually adept at sneaking and the art of remaining unheard, if I’d had a vertically oriented jaw surely it hitting the floor could have been heard the dungeon over, and throughout the Ringing Mountains. What I saw was a sight to behold for sure. I thought I’d seen it all. Some ancestral memory of skyward-bound kreen had seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, or so I hear… Here were we, crammed in a doorway watching a bone snake attack monsters thrown into a pit by a tornado! Egad! Of course, I’ve dealt with the odd structural support beam spitting cyclones, but never cyclones that toss you into a pit with a magic snake.

I’m still not sure what got into Birel. Perhaps she was as hungry for treasure as I was for her. She darted into the room with speed typical of elfkind. She headed straight for a staff near some sort of throne made for the buttocks of skinned folk. I suppose it was the object’s glimmer that caught her eye. Some sort of arcane tug of war with her desires was no doubt afoot. When she approached one of the columns with its tornadic breath, she too was cast into the pit (without her treasure.)

I must interject an observation: we have uncovered a few rarities in this place. I with my precious metal blade, Birel with her golden stick, Vilsis with his bottle of goo… it seems this place is giving to us what we desire. One by one. I can’t help but think that next, Zuri will find a rock tumbler. All joking aside. I adore the blade. Almost too much. It’s distracting me from my chatkcha.

Bost had issues of his own. He was distracted by an ill-tempered mul thrashing about with another bone-fiend. It turns out this lump of endoskeleton was some sort of slaver. The slaver called for help in a tongue that I couldn’t understand and sounded like someone was draining a dead kank’s intestinal tract of a bit of remaining gas. A haglike hunkered yet wizardlike being appeared and started battling bonething and Team Sparkle with magics that I scarcely understand, and that I probably don’t need to. My first instinct wasn’t to fend off attacks from bone stack, or tornado, or witch hag, or even the sweaty hairless slaver. It was, oddly enough, to save the life of Birel. I’m willing to admit that when short on survival days, I would be tempted to make one of her, but I just as easily admit to starting to respect her. Her ability to heal and grant advantages to those in my party are as valuable as as our weapons. Using my superior dexterity, cunning, wisdom, sneaking, and attitude, I slip myself into the room and to the edge of the pit. There I found Birel, waist deep in a pit being immobilized by the stings of a chattering snake. Reaching in and pulling her out was effortless really, so I will bore you no longer with that part of my tale. However, I did save her tail. …get it?

I would love to say that we survived by the skin of our teeth, but I have no teeth and the skin on the floor was theirs. Bost did a lot of hammering to the Mul fiend’s skull… like after he was dead… it was totally gross. We found an interesting map in his belt pouch. In the end, we learned a valuable lesson:

YOU NEVER KNOW WHICH COLUMNS ARE HOLDING UP THE CEILING AND WHICH ONES WILL TRY AND KILL YOU.

-Dazeel

Also, Birel got her stick. I was unimpressed, but Birel was happy beyond belief. This made me “happy.” I plan to write a one-act play about Birel’s happiness called “Birel finds a stick.” Perhaps, dear reader, one day you shall see it on stage at the Pleasure Argosy, or if my fortunes are so voluminous, on stage at the regular Argosy just up the road.

For the first time in nearly a day, or night, I forget which, I sheathe my precious and glimmering blade… but I can’t take my mind off it.

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Snake Eyes!
The Place of Forgetting 6 (revised Marauders of the Dune Sea)

Cavern of Ignored Powerups

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Vilsis.

Having awoken in the pitch black of the hejkin lair and finding their stock of glowworms dwindling, the party quickly set to work putting together some sub-par torches in order to light their way. As they gathered their belongings, it seemed clear that the task at hand was to return to the chamber of glowing eyes scouted earlier by Vilsis and Zuri and confront whatever lurking evil awaited them there. However, as the group passed by the mouth of the caver, Zuri was overcome by a premonition of ambush and decided to stay and keep watch while the other adventurers continued onward.

Retracing their steps though now-familiar passageways, now clogged with bodies of various dead foes, the party took the time to search for items of value and managed to recover an iron fire-poker that should fetch a pretty penny. After an extended period of anxious negotiation, they also smashed the large burial urns warning of Ningishzida’s wrath and found a couple of perfectly nice jade pendents amongst the charred remains.

Passing by the chamber of the myconids, the adventurers cautiously made their way down the long passageway to the final chamber. The interior was much as the scouts had described – the walls carved with undulating snakes whose eyes glowed a ghostly green, a high domed ceiling, and a steep dais in the middle of the room, topped with a large bowl-shaped altar. On the far wall, a trickle of water flowed from the mouth of a fountain carved in the shape of a snake’s head, flowing into a puddle near a mound of bones and rags, including what seemed like a fresh set of bloody remains.

The party split in two, attempting a pincer maneuver around the dais in order to flank any creature the might be concealed in the back corner of the room. Unfortunately, the room’s primary occupant had no need to hide behind the altar…suddenly a silk wyrm materialized directly behind Bost and blasted the party with a wave of psychic pain! And as if that weren’t enough, the light glowing in the eyes of snake carvings coalesced into floating balls of ghostly aggression.

A long and brutal combat commenced, wherein all of our heroes were periodically slowed and immobilized by ropes of acidic silk and the mysterious ejaculations of the glowing balls. The adventurers wished dearly they had the benefit of Zuri’s burning spray. It seemed as if Vilsis’ bow had been mis-strung as a series of deadly powerful primal arrows slammed uselessly into the walls and floor.

Regardless, the adventurers eventually prevailed over their foes. Searching the room, they found a young man – alive – hidden in a small crack running along the bottom of the far wall. Felix finally discovered. Despite Birel’s hints for tact, Felix was made aware that the party had followed him from Tyr on behalf of House Shom. Meanwhile, Vilsis examined the inside of the bowl altar. Despite clearly having room for at least 19 magical items, the true contents included a wooden bow exuding arcane power, some small but valuable-looking knick-knacks, and the ultimate object of this quest: the rose-tinted stone sword. After some initial distrust, Felix eventually told the adventurers that he had brought the sword here, to the Place of Forgetting, in order to cleanse himself of the memory of having used it to slay a group of thugs in Tyr. He then allowed the adventurers to help him rinse some of the urine out of clothes and return him to Elissa in Bellinga.

On the way out, triumphant in their victory over all manner of foes, the party finally stopped to explore the irregular crack in the wall left undisturbed thus far. Inside, they found some glowing moss that was identified as a key ingredient in a tincture of poison resistance. Wouldn’t that have been useful! Bost and Chat’G’Hak finally threw caution to the wind and tasted the aquamarine and maroon liquids inside the stone basins (why anybody would think to do such a thing, we don’t know) and discovered that both were invigorating potions. The ultimate lesson of the day: when you find mysterious colored liquids and strange plants growing deep inside a monster-infested snake-fuck dungeon, immediately consume them.

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The Lame Kank
The Place of Forgetting 7/ Returning to Tyr 1

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Bost.

They finally did it. Snake-Fuck Dungeon was utterly annihilated. Scores of abominations, including hejkin knuckleheads, anthropomorphic mushrooms, despicable slavers, and even a sentient tornado and a telekinetic wyrm, were wiped from existence. Felix, who turned out to be a lovable yet smelly rapscallion, was rescued. And best of all, the party recovered the curious relic that they sought out for: a copper-hilted stone sword. Immense wealth seemed imminent.

Triumphantly, the party of adventurers emerged from the unholy temple and ventured into the ominous sun. They were soon reminded that Athas is as much of an enemy as those they had recently defeated. Bracing themselves, they were forced to pass through the sandstorm that they encountered when they initially approached the Place of Forgetting. Chafed by the swirling earth, they emerged and noticed a camp on the horizon.

Stealthily, Chat’G’Hak and Vilsis crept up the dune and approached the objects in the distance. They found a sleeping Red Chord tarek! What a dope! With him was a lame kank. The rest of the group joined Chat’G’Hak and Vilsis. The group surrounded the sleeping slaver before he could awake. Bost then greedily placed his foot over the tarek’s crotch and pushed down with the determination of a charging ram. The tarek awoke with a pitiful yelp. In the interrogation that followed, the group learned several important details. When asked about the map that was found on the slavers encountered within the temple, the tarek indicated that the Red Chord had been mapping the movements of the Crimson Legion in the Tyr Region. The tarek also indicated that the mul who was killed inside the temple was none other than Darok, a founder of the Red Chord. The party grilled the tarek as to the whereabouts of the rest of the slavers. On this, the tarek was unhelpful and could only tell us that the headquarters of the Red Chord is nomadic. As the party debated what to do with the tarek captive, Bost pulverized the tarek’s skull with the hammer that once belonged to his boss.

The party continued on to Bellinga. As we approached, a lone farmer noticed our return. Felix and this man started to run towards each other before they joyfully embraced. “Papa!” exclaimed Felix. “Felix!” exclaimed Papa. It was adorable.

Bellinga treated the adventurers as heroes. Although their wealth was meager, a huge feast was arranged on our behalf. A treasured artifact – a bronze bell – was rung to celebrate our exploits. Chat’G’Hak again wowed an audience by adroitly performing amazing feats of puppetry. Zuri shrewdly sold the kank that was recovered from the Red Chord camp to a farmer for much more than what it was worth. The party was good and inebriated when Felix and Elissa excitedly informed the party that they decided to get married, and that we were welcome to attend the wedding. Being crafty and unscrupulous Athasians, we successfully finagled +1s to the offer. They agreed. We slept off the food and booze, and made our way to Tyr.

On the outskirts of Tyr, the party was slowed by a giant traffic jam. Investigating, the party noticed a giant fortified argosy belonging to House Stel of Urik. The argosy, while appearing sturdy, clearly looked as if it had been attacked by something very large and very angry. A guard informed the party that a so-ut had attacked a caravan on its way to Tyr. The party loosened their collars as they sauntered through the gate and into the city itself.

Immediately, the party encountered an animated demonstration. The leader of the demonstration appeared to be a halfling. The halfling was screaming into the crowd, demanding that the laborers be given representation on the Revolutionary Council of Tyr. The guards watched nervously, with their hands ready at their hilts. The party sprang into action, in a farcical attempt to assuage the unrest. Chat’G’Hak began to juggle chairs. Bost decided to lay in the street, in an apparent attempt to convince the demonstrators to embrace a nonviolent resistance type of protest. Others cozied up with the guards and the demonstrators alike, attempting to charm key players into passivity. Somehow, it worked. The demonstrators, satisfied that they made their point, dispersed and relocated to the Kestrekel’s Loft on top of The Golden Inix.

The party began to work to unload the goods they found in the temple. Birel suggested that the group attempt to have the sword appraised by Rhey Khal, a former acquaintance of Birel’s and the owner of Rhey’s Apothecary. Rhey looked at the sword with interest. He told us that while it was obviously magical and from a long-forgotten era, there was nothing especially notable nor sinister about the sword. He indicated that the price initially offered for the sword was fair. While there, the group exchanged a liquid-potion found in the temple for a number of dune runner’s fruits and healing fruits.

Next, the party sent a messenger to inform Choum that the sword has been recovered, and that the party would be waiting for him at The Golden Inix. While a bit annoyed, Choum came to the party and began to negotiate for the transfer of the sword. The party eventually agreed to 1,300 pieces of Nibenese ceramic and 10,000 credit at House Shom in exchange for the sword and for the gold-laced staff that was found in the temple.

The party then retired for the night, planning what to do next. Ideas include speaking with the Crimson Legion or possibly witnessing an execution that is supposed to take place by the hand of Tithian himself.

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Brain Matter
Returning to Tyr 2

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Zuri.

Our heroes arose early on the morning of 18 Sorrow with quite an eventful day ahead of them.

Anzo had news: Choum had left a chit at the bar accounting for the party’s credit at House Shom, and it looked to be on the up and up. Anzo then informed Dazeel that he had been able to arrange a last-minute gig for her later that evening, which she gleefully accepted. Birel told the group that she had a few buyers in mind for the treasures they had found in the Place of Forgetting, and that she would be off to the the markets and emporia for the day to ensure top dragon for their wares.

The rest of the bar however, was swept up in the buzz and excitement regarding the morning’s execution. Three members of The True were to be held accountable for their crimes against Tyr and King Tithian. Bost was eager to attend and urged his remaining companions to accompany him to the event. Having little else to do, and intrigued by the spectacle, they agreed. The execution would be under strict guard, so they left their larger weapons (save for Zuri’s staff) in the custody of Birel and Dazeel. Surely they would have no need for them this day.

The three made their way to the gladiator’s arena and found room for themselves amongst the unruly crowd of the “sun seats”. The ceremony began. Wild cheers arose from the crowd as Tithian emerged onto the King’s viewing platform. With him were other Tyrian VIPs (including Neeva, Agis of Asticles, Sadira, and Strategos Gevello), and curiously, two Dray. Notably absent was the mul hero Rikus. Meanwhile, on the blood-stained grounds of the arena, three prisoners were brought out bound and under guard to a reception of jeers and stone-throwing. They did not appear to be having a good day. Suddenly, the magically amplified voice of a Templar was heard.

From the official record of the royal stenographer:

“House Dyan has been an important part of Tyr for centuries. So it grieved King Tithian greatly to discover that its scion, Senator Murter Dyan, had helped to found The True, an organization dedicated to effecting the return of the tyrant and dictator Kalak. Refusing to admit his crimes despite months of imprisonment and interrogation, Dyan’s pride and insolence poses a continuing danger to Tyr.”

He steps back and King Tithian speaks:

“Murter Dyan, for the crime of counter-revolutionary activities, I strip House Dyan of its estates. Furthermore I sentence you and your associates to death.”

The crowd explodes into roars and cheers as Tithian nods to an eladrin who has emerged from the shadows on the arena floor. He strides toward the captives (who hang their heads in defeat and exhaustion) and stops in front of them. Placing his hand at his temple for a moment, he suddenly drops it. As he does, fountains of blood and brains explode from the ears, noses, mouths, and eye sockets of the three captives. They sink to the ground as the crowd goes wild. After an appropriate time, King Tithian’s hornblowers again silence the crowd with a blast and he speaks:

“Citizens of Tyr, I have worked hard to ensure the safety of Tyr in the face of the forces threatening our new and free society. The danger of war with the other city-states of the Tablelands is ever-present, as is the threat of the Dragon—not to mention internal perils such as the True, who hope to return slavery and tyranny to Tyr. In the past weeks, I have stood firm in negotiations with the Dragon’s emissaries, and for the first time, the Dragon—and therefore the city-states of the Tablelands—accept the new Tyr as an equal to be respected. As Tyr is a city without slaves, we cannot be expected to pay the Dragon his levy this year. The emissaries of the Dragon agree with me, and therefore the Dragon will have to go without once again. The season of the Dragon will pass Tyr by peacefully.”

This news sent the crowd into an unbelievable frenzy. Cheers of joy and support for Tithian filled the air. Eventually the elation subsided, though, and the arena emptied out onto the streets of Tyr, where everyone appeared notably relieved and joyous. The group decided that their next action would be to contact the Crimson Legion and to pass along their intelligence regarding the Red Chord, and perhaps discover why Rikus was absent from the execution. Bost took them all to The Red Kank, a nearby broyhouse frequented by members of the Crimson Legion. There they happened to run into his friend and former gladiator (and current Legion member), Hojar. Zuri showed him the map they had discovered on Darok’s corpse, and they all agreed that Rikus and the others should be made aware of it immediately. Hojar quickly led them towards the noble district, and then to the abandoned mansion (former residence of the exiled Strategos Haamdan) that currently housed the headquarters of the Crimson Legion.

There they were introduced to Rikus, currently occupied in a meeting with his lieutenants, apparently discussing the Revolutionary Council’s decision to implant Dray among the Tyrian Guard. After introductions, Rikus dismissed his inner circle to meet privately with the three adventurers. The map shocked Rikus, who commissioned Bost and his allies to follow the trail of the Red Chord to Altaruk. As they were discussing Rikus’ distaste for his role in Tyrian politics, and his refusal to allow Dray into his ranks, a loud crash was heard. Suddenly three Grell appeared in the room. Rikus leapt to battle and crushed one of the grell before the others could process what was happening. Bost and Vilsis grabbed weapons hanging from the wall and began to engage the other two as Zuri sent balls of chaos energy flying from his staff onto the squishy exposed brains of the grell. Soon the room was clear of threats, but the sounds of battle continued to fill the halls of the mansion. Rikus ran towards the entrance and shouted back to the others to check the back door.

The group found an exit leading to the rear courtyard and stables. Awaiting them there was a terrifying sight: three more disgusting grell beasts encircling a dark mist. Above them, atop the rear wall, stood a mysterious hooded figure; on the ground, a black circle of dead earth extending from its vile form. Vilsis sprang out the door in a rage. “Foul defiler!”, he screamed as he drew his borrowed bow and sent a blast of arrows directly into the opening of the fiend’s hood. It cried out, clutching its face and abruptly vanished in a cloud of smoke, the strange mist departing with it. Without missing a beat, Vilsis turned and directed his rage toward the three remaining grell, volleying a barrage of swarming arrows down on them. Bost ran one of them down, wrestling the mass of tentacles and beaked brain, valiantly drawing the attacks of the other two. Zuri called down a storm of jagged ice shards, slowing their terrible advance. Finally, after some struggle, the final grell fell. The party sped around the front to check the state of the mansion’s entrance. There they found the remains of more grell amidst a handful of fallen gladiators. Bost spotted Hojar amongst the fallen and quickly ran to his aid assuming the worst. Hojar was not dead, however, just gravely wounded, and would have surely bled out if not for Bost’s quick action.

The battle had ended, and the party found Rikus inside the mansion attending to his partner Neeva as the other gladiators paced cautiously about the halls. Sekh, a seemingly disinterested half-elf, informed the group that this was not the first attempt on Rikus’ life, and that more assassination attempts were inevitable. Rikus offered the party lodging and protection for the night, which they accepted. (Word was sent to Dazeel and Birel to meet them at the mansion as soon as they were able in order to depart for Altaruk.)

Later that night, the party awoke to the sounds of combat and struggle. They sprang from their room armed and ready to face another onslaught of attackers, but all they saw was the night watchman shaking his head as he pointed to Rikus and Neeva’s chambers. Awkward.

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Saga of the Mahindrazal
Paying the Levy 1 & 2

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Vilsis.

It seems as if months have passed since the party first set off southeast from Tyr across the sand wastes. They had received information that Eenga, the remaining leader of the Red Chord, could be found in Altaruk. Having extensively weighed the pros and cons of purchasing mounts for the entire party to ride, they decided to purchase a single shiny kank to carry food and water, stocked up on survival days, bought breathing masks and goggles, and began their trek.

Travel through the sand wastes continued uneventfully for a couple of days, until the party found themselves in the midst of a massive sandstorm. Luckily, shelter was within sight – a squat structure amidst the dunes, with the name “Mahindrazal” written in Elven script on the wall. Along with a multitude of other travelers, the party led their kank into the stables and took shelter inside.

Soon after entering the crowded way station, the proprietor of the Mahindrazal, a woman named Zindriel, introduced herself.

Among the travelers within the Mahindrazal was a group of Red Chord slavers, including an elf clad in armor made from the chitin of a slain Thri-Kreen, marking him as a Thri-Kreen Slayer.

The party had a long conversation with Idi, a dwarven trader from House Inika of Gulg.

Over the course of several days, the sandstorm continues unabated. Beyond some entertainment gained by dunking the Red Chord rations in the shitter, the waiting is becoming a bit stale. More to the point, the Mahindrazal seems to be gradually emptying of guests, despite the fact that the sandstorm prevents anybody from leaving the premises. Stranger still, the party begins to notice that the ranks of the Mahindrazal’s (oddly silent) servant staff are expanding will oddly familiar faces.

On the morning of the third day in the Mahindrazal, the party notices that Idi has disappeared…but a new silent Dwarven servant has joined the staff.

After a oddly tense, but wordless interaction between Zindriel and Vilsis, the main hall of the Mahindrazal descended into chaos. A wave of psionic energy, seemingly emanating from Zindriel, washed over the room, laden with the bizarre suggestion that she was being attacked…by our party! Most of the remaining crowd seemed panicked beyond rationality by the blast, but the Red Chord sprung into action – offering to defend Zindriel by vanquishing our heroes.

Zindriel quickly exited through a side door and while most of the party engaged the Red Chord in the main hall, Vilsis rushed through exterior hallways in pursuit. Vilsis eventually returned downstairs, and informed his compatriots that our seemingly-gracious host was actually a power-mad villain who had manufactured the sandstorm to trap and ultimately enslave all of the Mahindrazal’s visitors.

Having defeated the Red Chord in the meantime, the party quickly rummaged for loot amidst the corpses before making their way upstairs to confront Zindriel.

Procuring a key from his sleeve, Vilsis attempted to unlock the door to Zindriel’s chambers, only to find them already unlocked. The party charged inside, where Vilsis was immediately consumed in the transparent, acidic mass of a gelatinous cube! While they party hacked away at the slimy, but highly geometrical beast, Zindriel mysteriously transformed her limbs into columns of sand bashing at our heroes and excreting waves of psionic pain. At one point, the party used their powers to knock the acidic cube straight into Zindriel, engulfing her and giving her a taste of her own medicine.

The party eventually prevailed, but had no time to celebrate their victory. The very structure of the Mahindrazal, seemingly sustained by Zindriel’s power, came crashing down. The party managed to claw their way out of the ruin, though many of their supplies were lost in the process. Luckily, Zuri managed to keep hold of the coin, even while his precious zatla was lost to the infernal sands.

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