The Lost Seas

And a new beginning

After soundly defeating the slave quarter guards, the templars, and a band of crazed Smoking Crown Initiates, the Zatla Cowboys paused to catch their breath, but not a moment had passed before the sound of brass horns filled the air. The massive gates to King Hamanu’s compound, Destiny’s Kingdom, began to swing open. Accompanied by a group of half-giant royal guards, the sorcerer-king himself strode forth. Rikus, ever impulsive, charged forward, encouraging his companions to follow. The leaders of the Crimson Legion, along with the Zatla Cowboys, rushed headlong into the fray. It wasn’t long before they realized how hopeless the situation was. King Hamanu’s magic strikes laid Dazeel, the Orchid of the Dunes, flat in the dust, and almost noble Androcles as well, though with his last ounce of consciousness, he managed to duck around a corner and channel his psychic energies into repairing his body before dragging Dazeel to safety and, with the aid of Zuri, helping her back to her feet. As Zuri rushed back into combat, the other two Cowboys huddled in the safety of the alley, watching the hopeless fight unfold before them.

Meanwhile, Rikus’s band, along with Bost and Zuri, found themselves thwarted by Hamanu’s defenses. Then, the situation escalated from bad to worse for our brave band, as the sorcerer-king transformed into a massive bipedal lion, his claws dripping acidic poison. First, Neeva went down, slain by a raking strike. Then, one by one, Rikus’ other companions began to fall before the might of Hamanu and his guards. Occasionally, Zuri’s arcane prowess and Bost’s mighty blows would pierce Hamanu’s magical defenses, but never enough to leave more than a scratch.

Hopeless, unsure what else to do, the Cowboys began to taunt Hamanu. “The dragon is on his way to destroy you,” Bost said.

“You lie!” Hamanu bellowed, his leonine face contorted with rage.

“It is the truth. Your levy has been scattered,” Bost continued. “Urik will pay the price!”

At that moment, the walls of Urik began to thrum with the approach of something massive. Hamanu reverted to his human form, his arrogant pride clearly having faltered, and retreated backward through the gate. “What have you done, Zatla Cowboys? The Dragon will destroy us all!” And with that, the gates to Destiny’s Kingdom swung shut once more.

No sooner did this happen than Zuri’s olivine charm began to thrum with energy. He retrieved it from his belt pouch and was greeted by the disembodied voice and gaze of a familiar adversary.

“What have you done with my levy from Urik?” the Dragon asked.

“We have freed them,” Zuri said. “No more will you feast on the souls of the innocent!”

The Dragon sighed, a rumbling sound. In a weary voice, he said, “Adventurers, do you know how often I have had this conversation? These ‘souls of the innocent,’ as you call them, are what keep the world of Athas safe. It is only their energies that give me the strength to keep Rajaat sealed away in his dark prison.”

“Rajaat?” Zuri asked. “Who is Rajaat?”

In a voice that signaled his amusement at the adventurers’ ignorance, the Dragon began to tell the story of Rajaat. Long ago in Athas’ history, at the pinnacle of the Green Age, during a period known as the Age of Magic, a pyreen named Rajaat discovered the secrets of the arcane, spreading the Preserver magic among the public, while secretly teaching the forbidden art of Defiling magic to a select few acolytes. Together, Rajaat and his champions learned how to prolong their lives indefinitely. They became gods among men, but the energies unleashed by this transformation scorched Athas’ sun into a dark crimson ember.

After some time, the arcane knowledge stored within Rajaat’s mind drove him mad. He hungered to return the world to its pristine Blue Age, and tasked his champions with helping him in his quest. Each was to go forth and wipe one of the races of man from the face of the earth. Ultimately, the Champions of Rajaat discovered their master’s true purpose. To return the world to a Blue Age meant the destruction of all that existed, including the champions themselves. through their combined might, they barely managed to seal him away in a netherworld prison called the Hollow, where he slumbers to this day. The mightiest of the champions, Borys, was transformed through arcane means into the Dragon, and tasked with maintaining the levy, using the souls thus devoured to power the prison that seals Rajaat away.

“Do you know how heavily this burden weighs upon me?” Borys asked the Cowboys. “To keep Athas alive, I must devour the souls of thousands. It is a guilt you cannot even imagine.”

“But why the souls of the innocent?” Bost asked. “Why the souls of slaves and peasants? The wicked of Athas number in the thousands. Surely you can devour them instead.”

With a wry laugh, the Dragon said, “Do you think others have not proposed this before you? Who would choose who is ‘deserving’ and who is not? You? Do you want that burden?”
“Then why not let the world die?” Androcles, who had emerged from his hiding place, said. “Perhaps it is time.” The noble had spoken before he thought, and now that the words were out, he wanted to take them back.

The Dragon paused. “It is tempting. I have considered it. How peaceful it would be to just fly away, to see the far side of the world one last time, to sleep and wait for all to pass.”

The Cowboys stood in a circle, each looking at the next, considering the dilemma they had been offered. Become the arbiters of who lives and who dies on Athas? Let the system of oppression continue as it has for so long? Or just let it all die away?

Then Dazeel spoke. “I love you, Androcles!” she said, setting her multifaceted eyes upon her companion. “I have loved you since I first saw you!”

Androcles and the other Cowboys were stunned into silence by their companion’s admission and its unexpected timing. After a moment of befuddlement, Androcles took Dazeel’s hand in his own and stared into her eyes, unsure what to say in response.

“Perhaps we should let the world live on, then,” Zuri said, watching this scene unfold before him. “Love still exists, even here in the harsh realms of Athas! Isn’t that worth continuing to fight for?”

But Androcles turned to his companions. “No,” he said. “It is because of our love that we should not let this continue. I would not want to see Dazeel continue to suffer in this world. Nor you, Zuri. Nor you, Bost.” He turned to Dazeel, who nodded her head in approval.

“Androcles is right,” Bost said. “What do we do? Let things linger on as they are? For what? So that a hundred years from now the next group of adventurers will be presented with the same choice? The lots of the poor and the weary can never improve. The only way to heal this world is to let it be reborn, no matter what that means for those of us who live now.”

“I need your answer, Cowboys.”

“Leave us, Dragon,” Bost said into the crystal. “Let this world die so that the next can be reborn.”

“As you wish.”

The olivine charm went dark.

For the next several hours, things seemed to return to normal. The streets of Urik had fallen eerily silent with a sound the Cowboys had not heard in a very long time. Peace. The healthy cared for the fallen. Rikus, a broken man, cried over the body of Neeva as Bost tried to comfort him. In the shade of a building damaged during the combat, Dazeel wrapped her arms around Androcles and held him close. The night ended, and the Cowboys began to think, perhaps hope, that the Dragon’s story had been nothing but empty legend, perhaps a tale concocted through years of insanity.

The next day, the adventurers started the long journey back toward Tyr. Talking, even laughing, as they reminisced on their adventures.

“what is that?” Zuri asked.

The other Cowboys followed his finger to the horizon, where a strange haze had arisen. The color of the sky, an unchanging crimson for millennia, was turning blue. The Cowboys watched as this disturbance sped across the landscape toward them, leaving shimmering water, a darker blue than the sky above, in its wake.

It was a strange sensation as the disturbance reached the Cowboys, not an unpleasant one. Like falling asleep. The ground beneath the Cowboys’ feet was changed, and in the space the Cowboys had once inhabited, four schools of multicolored fish flittered away in four different directions.

The Ascent of Filosof
A Tale of Discretion and Valor

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Zuri.

The party had finally arrived at the southern fringes of Urikite territory where an encampment of Tyrian forces had assembled, safely hidden at the bottom of an ancient canyon. A heated discussion was underway over how to proceed now that Tyr’s raiding force was so close to Hamanu’s doorstep. Debate raged on for what seemed like hours as our heroes poured over maps and intelligence procured by Rikus legionnaires. It was finally decided that the group’s first actions would be to capture the watchtower overlooking Urik (which happened to possess full view of the Legion’s likely approach to the city), and then to disrupt the impending levy of Urikite slaves departing soon for the volcanic mountains. In preparation for their raid on the tower, the Cowboy’s surveyed the observation tower recently captured by the Crimson Legion. They were then introduced to brave Filosof, a master climber whose expertise and guidance would be necessary for the treacherous climb that awaited our heroes to the northern watchtower.

Dusk fell at the base of the daunting cliff face as Filosof worked his ropes and riggings, his eyes ablaze with with what he described to the others as “climb-lust”, the burgeoning excitement of spirit he felt before every climb, before each application of his life’s true passion, before the joyous feeling of jagged rock in his hands and of perilous doom below his feet. The fire in Filosof’s belly was quickly extinguished by cruel Androcles who, when presented with the sight of the cliff face, conveniently remembered that he possessed knowledge of a ritual that would easily carry the party safely to the top. Filosof sullenly packed his ropes with the expert care of a true man of the mountain as Androcles began to cast the ritual of Tenser’s Lift, aided by the flickering light of Zuri’s magical candle. Soon the party climbed aboard Androcles’ magical platform and began their casual ascent up the treacherous cliff face. A slight smile could be seen on Filosof’s face as he remarked upon the unnatural ease in which the adventurers quickly approached the watchtower.

Suddenly, the covert silence of the rising platform was pierced by what stuck Zuri’s crystalline ears as the unsettling “pop” of a crushed Kank’s carapace. It was poor Filosof, his head instantly caved in by a falling boulder, his body now falling off the platform toward its sad fate amongst the rocks below the cliff. Looking up, our heroes determined that this was not just a mere unlucky occurrence, but an extremely unlucky occurrence, as this boulder had not fallen by natural means but had been THROWN! Thrown by a pack of four limbed Brohg’s now within sight.

Androcles halted the magical platform’s ascent and our heroes began their fearless assault on the Brohg cave. Bost lept into danger without a second thought. Soon the lead Brohg was on the platform itself, perhaps the very Brohg that had done in poor Filosof, but it was quickly cast off the platform by our heroes and thrown to the rocks below. Suddenly more and more Brohgs emerged from the shadows and the tide of battle was turning. The party quickly called to Bost to return to the platform, taking the watchtower above them was their priority this night and they couldn’t risk defeat at the many hands of these inconsequential Brohgs. Androcles commanded the platform to rise instants before the fast approaching beasts could grab at its base. As the party caught their breath, a pact was made to return to this foul cave and to claim whatever treasure they could find there once they had sufficiently leveled up to face the encounter more easily.

Finally, the party arrived at the top of the cliff. The watchtower stood before them, as well as a small Urikite encampment. What now? How would our heroes commence their assault? Stealth? Distraction? More magical shortcuts? Hadn’t they discussed their plan in depth earlier?? Why was everyone bickering? Who’s in charge of this operation??

Zuri Gets Tumbled

As the Zatla Cowboys joined the raucous celebration, the amber shardmind Zuri stepped back out of the firelight and into the shadows. Leaving the broy-swilling, zatla-smoking, laughter-bellowing Crimson Legion members behind, Zuri slipped between tents in the darkness. It soon grew quieter as the nexus of light and sound that was the celebration slid away.

Here, among the tents and the darkness, was quiet. The only sounds were the occasional snores of Legionnaires who had had too much to drink too early and had already retired to their beds. Somewhere off in the darkness was the clacking of the army’s kanks tied up away from the sleeping area. It was not sleep that Zuri was seeking, however. It left the camp entirely and crossed into the desert, where the flaxen light of Ral and Guthay was its only illumination.

Soon, a stone building appeared amidst the badland flats. Dim light, flickering, shone from its windows. The shardmind approached the door and rapped on it with its crystal-pear-topped staff. The door opened, and plump middle-aged woman peered out. Her cheeks were heavily rouged, and her eyes were lined with a thick layer of kohl. In the darkness the lipsticked redness of her mouth looked black.

“Welcome,” she said in a sultry, smoky tone. “We’ve been expecting you.” She opened the door wide, and the shardmind stepped inside.

Zuri found itself in a dimly-lit, smoky room whose walls and angles were softened by curtains and silken-wall hangings. A strange stringed musical instrument played a sensual tune from somewhere behind one of the curtains. The dim outlines of writhing bodies showed from behind some of the more sheer curtains. Led by the woman who greeted it, Zuri passed by the dark forms and towards a back room.

“Here is what you have been seeking,” purred the woman as she opened a door, gesturing with a jewelled hand tipped with lacquered nails.

Yes, Zuri telepathed her. I must have it! I must! But she held out her hand to stop it.

“First, the payment. Such pleasures do not come cheap.”

Its trembling hands covered with a slick of silicon sweat, Zuri fumbled a precious nub of gold out of his coin-purse. It was in the shape of a lion’s tail, roughly snapped off at the base. Now! Now! Zuri telepathed the woman, straining forward. She eyed the golden tail carefully and bit it. Satisfied, she slipped it into the top of her dress between two full breasts. Zuri surged forward into the room.

Smooth hands took hold of the shardmind as it entered and stripped it of its robes. Zuri was gently lifted down and forward, sliding into a smooth-walled chamber. It felt a cool splash as lubricant was squirted onto its body. Then cool, clean sand was sprinkled over its form. The chamber door was swung shut with a clunking noise, leaving the shardmind in darkness, surrounded by grit and lubricant.

“All right, boys!” came the faint call from beyond the thick walls. The grunting of several men swinging their muscled bodies into position could be heard, followed by the clank and rattle of a pulley and wheel system. Then, the entire chamber Zuri was laying in began to turn. It flopped over onto its front as the grit and lubricant spread all over it. The chamber began to turn faster, and faster, and Zuri flopped and clattered and tumbled. Yes! Yes! its mind began to broadcast uncontrollably in all directions. Oh, god, yes!

It seemed to be over so quickly, though Zuri knew it had really been some hours. After being cleaned off and helped back into its robes, the shardmind was ready to head back to the Legion. On its way out, though, it stopped to admire itself in the mirror. Smooth, shiny, and glossy, its amber body gleamed in the candlelight. Yes, thought Zuri, It’s been far too long since you had a proper tumble. It turned in its heel and walked out into the night with a confident and satisfied stride.

The Road to War 3

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Bost.

Despite multiple faux-pas, the Zatla Cowboys handled themselves relatively well at the big ball. Unfortunately, war was imminent and rapidly approaching.

Despite minor hangovers, the group awoke that morning and hurried themselves over to Agis’ estate. With his assistance, they put the final touches on their plan, which they then delivered to the Revolutionary Council:

Rikus will gives up his seat in exchange for one held by the unskilled workers. Until a city-wide election can be held, this seat will be held by Uj. The Veiled Alliance will not receive a seat on the counsel, but with their imminent unveiling, the city will learn that one of their members already sits on behalf of the freed-slaves. After Tithian’s death, a Senate will resume power, with the first Senate-president coming from Family Beryl. Beryl, in turn, will relinquish claims for land held by Qarbjanoob. Agis agreed to speak on behalf of Embl Turax, and the Zatla Cowboys will pay 50,000 to Tyrthanis.

Notably, King Tithian completely agreed to this plan, without reservations, despite the fact that the group was inarticulate and unpersuasive when they voiced this plan to the council.

With the enemy at the gates, the Revolutionary Council rapidly unconvened. Messengers were sent out, and everyone began to prepare for war. Unexpectently, Bost was offered a commission with the Crimson Legion, which he happily accepted.

Androcles (unbeknownst to the rest of the Cowboys) slunk away to Little Draxa – the Dray ghetto. There, he parlayed with some Dray to see whether they would provide assistance in the upcoming battle by joining the ranks of the Tyrian Guard and by providing some undead war beetles. The dray responded that they MIGHT provide this assistance if Androcles agreed to spy on his dear friends, who had only recently welcomed them happily and readily into their adventuring party. Androcles agreed.

The Urikite army approached and the battle lines formed. The Zatla Cowboys were stationed on the far left-wing, along with the Crimson Legion. There, the group watched a line of Urikite Half-Giants approach. The front-line of the Crimson Legion ran forward, tumbled through their ranks, and began to unleash a synchronized whirlwind of destruction.

Despite this, the obstinate Urikites persevered and held ranks until a contingent of Dray arrived. With this, the Zatla Cowboys moved forward and commenced entry into the foray.

The company of Dray were a formidable foe, but Androcles, Zuri, Dazeel, and Bost were able to vanquish them after some frenzied fighting.

"I'm So Sorry"
The Road to War 2

Water Vampires and Tembos Cohabiting

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Androcles.

While Dazeel was off prettying herself up for the nobles’ ball, the rest of the party decided to check out their new digs, the Zatla Ranch. They were led to their property by Magnus, a tarek neep farmer who worked the fields there. He had sought out the heroes of Qarbjanoob for their assistance in dealing with a mysterious beast that had slain two of his fellow farmers.

The party was dismayed to see the state of their land’s disrepair. A deep gulch, overgrown with scrub and brush, lined the edge of the property, and the bridge spanning it had collapsed. Magnus led them to the ramshackle hut in which one of the dead farmers had lived. Androcles was surprised to find that this humble neep farmer had amassed an impressive library, and as he thumbed through the pages of the books, his companions searched for some clue, some trail leading from the scene of the crime.

After some investigatory work, the party found a trail leading through the thick brush at the edge of their holdings. As they followed it, they sensed something lurking in the growth, seemingly inches from them, so close they could feel its breath upon their necks. Magnus had told them tales of the tembo, a foul beast of the desert, possessing an animalistic cunning and a necrotic aura that could scour skin from bones. But when they sought to confront the beast, he had faded back into the brush.

Eventually, they stumbled upon the collapsing remains of the manor house. The darkened interior seemed to be empty, but after only a few moments of exploring, the creature materialized seemingly from nowhere, launching itself at Bost. Its appearance was half cat, half lizard, and its shadowy aura was poison to the adventurers’ bodies.

As if the tembo weren’t threat enough, before Androcles could act, an ancient man appeared out of nowhere and grabbed him by the throat. Calling upon his psionic might, Androcles teleported the stranger out of the manor house and moved to flank the tembo. Together, he and Bost would take the beast!

But the stranger would not be denied. He ran back into the fray, bypassing Zuri as if he wasn’t even there, and grabbed Androcles from behind. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered into Androcles’ ear. Within moments, he had drained much of the water from the psionicist’s body, leaving a dried up, unconscious husk lying upon the ground.

Together, Zuri and Bost held their own for as long as they could against the tembo and the water vampire, but without their mighty companion, the battle was hopeless! While Bost distracted the villains, Zuri snuck over to Androcles’ inert body and force fed him a healing fruit. With Androcles revived, the tide of battle turned. The three of them together were strong enough to destroy first the tembo and then the water vampire. Zuri looked upon the dying vampire and was surprised to recognize features similar to those of Murter Dyan, disgraced senator and suspected co-founder of the True, executed before a bloodthirsty crowd for his crimes—clearly a relative.

Together, the party returned to Magnus to tell him of their victory.

Seven Angry Halflings, A Revolutionary Counsel, and a Wedding
Escape from Makla 3

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Bost.

The adventurers were still on their way towards Tyr when they were waylaid, once again, by a party of halfling rangers! Remembering their old adversary back at the Lake of Golden Dreams, everyone charged headfirst towards the melee, confident in their respective halfing-killing capabilities. The battle charged forward, with halfling hitting shardmind, shardmind hitting halfing, halfing hitting thri-kreen, thri-kreen hitting halfing, etc etc. The halfings put up a good fight, and just when the adventurers began to obtain the upper hand a cactus came alive and started to attack everyone. This is just standard Athas stuff.

While everyone put forward a lot of energy and effort, the fight progressed in an especially brutal fashion. Thankfully, a group of humans arrived along with Felix – the group’s old friend! With the assistance, the adventurers made quick work of the evildoers.

The adventurers proceeded to follow Felix back to Bellinga, where we again got to meet Elissa: Felix’s betrothed. Catching up with Felix, the group learned Felix wasn’t possessed by the creepy sword at all, but nor was he a swordmage; the Veiled Alliance inspectors had left confused.

That night everyone happily celebrated the couples wedding. The next morning, everyone finished their journey to Tyr.

Once at Tyr, the party hurried to speak with the Revolutionary Council. War! War in Tyr was imminent, and Tyr was awash in chaos. The Revolutionary Council tasked the adventurers with a number of problems: 1) to deal with the striking unskilled laborers, 2) find a solution for Tyr’s lack of undead war beetles, 3) find a solution for the absence of the dray contingent in the Tyrian army, and 4) convince the noble families to provide their agreed-to levy of troops. The party agreed to help, with the understanding that they would reconvene during a masquerade that would be held a few nights later at Blacksun Villa.

Also, the party learned that the Revolutionary Council gave the group an estate as a thankyou for its extensive service to the city. Unfortunately, the party also learned that Birel Windchaser, that crafty elf, took charge of the estate on our behalf.

The Short Happy Life of Kanker the Kank
Escape from Makla 2

Also, Halflings!

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Androcles.

Upon escaping Makla, the party encountered an unsupervised kank loaded with survival rations, days worth of renks, and several bags of sulfur. After a lengthy debate on how best to (ab)use the kank, it was decided that they’d take it with them and slowly starve it to death, leaving its body in the desert to mislead enemies into thinking the party had died. They named the beast Kanker.

The first several days of travel were relatively uneventful. The party encountered a pool of water to supplement their own supplies, and lucky Kanker greedily slurped up what was left after the party had had its fill. A few days later they encountered the ruins of an ancient inn from the Red Age and camped within the rubble.

After several days of peaceful travel, their luck ran out. During his watch, Androcles was alerted by a sound familiar from his childhood: the cry of a wild jungle bird. He awoke the party, and as Dazeel was preparing to stealthily pinpoint the origins of the sound, arrows rained down upon the party! Poor Bost was struck and fell into a deep sleep. Zuri was also struck, though he was able to stave off the debilitating effects of the poison, with some help from Androcles’ bolstering psychic effects. Together, the party slew the halfling raiders and offered them to Kanker as a feast! Kanker’s last days on Athas were proving to be among his finest.

After passing the fork to Kled, the party found themselves mere days away from the farming village of Bellinga. They stumbled upon a spring of clear water and, having resorted to half rations as their supplies dwindled, they were eager to drink. But something about the water seemed suspicious. No signs of life? No insects? This seemed unlikely, so the party led their kank to water and made him drink.

This proved to be a wise decision for the party, though not so much for Kanker. As they debated what to do next, whether to drink the water, scout the area, or continue onward, Kanker rolled onto his back, his spindly legs shuddering and twitching. They folded in on themselves, and poor Kanker was no more.

The party began trying to discern the source of the poison that had fouled the water. With her lower left (her least important) arm, Dazeel reached into the crevice from which the water poured and produced a bag of vile jungle herbs, which Zuri’s ritualistic magic determined were prepared and placed in the spring by Urikite halfling rangers. Danger was close by!

It was decided that word must reach Tyr as soon as possible, and Birel being the party’s fastest runner, went on ahead to deliver the news. Standing next to Kanker’s corpse, the party watched their dear elven friend disappear over the horizon. Sad days indeed.

Another day of travel found the party in a cactus field a day from Bellinga. That was when the arrows began to rain down upon the remaining party members…

Time to get payed
Escape from Makla 1

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Zuri.

After their bewildering battle against the undead of the Black Wash, our heroes began discussing their present predicaments. The party had presumably completed their task for House Kish, but this success was accompanied by some unfortunate complications; namely the death of General Akkad by Bost’s hand, their newfound possession of Akkad’s Golden Lion of Urik, and of course the party’s outstanding business with the Smoking Crown Initiates. After hours of deliberation, the party decided that their best course of action would be to deliver the news of their success to House Kish first thing in the morning, concealing their involvement in Akkad’s death with a story of the general’s heroics in battle and his unfortunate demise at the hands of the undead horde. The ritual book borrowed from the templars of Makla would have to be returned so as to shield the party from any suspicion, and contact with the Smoking Crown Initiates would need to be avoided for the duration of their time under the rim of dawn. Of course, no word would be spoken of their possession of the Golden Lion. There was one reassuring thing that night though, the terrifying screams once heard in the darkness of the Black Wash had finally stopped.

When the party returned to Bloodyfoot the next morning, they were quickly reminded of one further complication that they hadn’t accounted of. During their meeting with Uday Kish, Uday enquired about the location of House Kish’s lent property, the genasi slave K’tek, whose miserable fate that journey is far too terrible to retell here. Thinking on her feet, Dazeel quickly modified the party’s cover story to include the shocking betrayal of K’tek, who, obviously still in league with the Smoking Crown Initiates, assassinated Akkad in broad daylight. The party had no choice but to put K’tek down once and for all. The other members of the party attested to this, and Uday seemed satisfied by this explanation of both Akkad and K’tek’s deaths, even going as far as to give our heroes a bonus for dealing with the no-good K’tek. A chit was issued to the party with instruction to receive their payment from Sazerak Saltcrosser in Makla.

Entering Makla, the party was met by Androcles, a veiled Balican human who claimed to be an associate of Plega, the mysterious brown elf encountered months ago at the Mahindrazal, presumed by the party to have perished along with the other unfortunate travelers ensnared by the foul sand bride Zindriel. Androcles claimed to have been sent by Plega to assist us in our mutual interests and then expressed some surprise at the party’s unhindered arrival, informing them that a crackdown of sorts had recently been imposed along the roads leading in and out of Makla. Being that our heroes were a welcoming bunch, and intrigued to learn what Plega may consider “our mutual interests”, Androcles was invited to accompany the party as they went to find Sazerak and get their reward.

Thankfully, Sazerak was similarly satisfied by the party’s accounts of what occurred in the black wash, and invited the party in to enjoy House Kish’s hospitality, bringing them refreshing broy and local zatla. Eventually, Sazarak left the room, presumably to procure the payment directed by Uday’s chit. Sazarak had been gone a long while when some of the party began to become suspicious. Dazeel leapt up to investigate, pearing out the front window where he observed a gathering of Urikite soldiers and a templar speaking with decidedly nervous looking Sazerak. Out the rear window was a similar scene, though decidedly less imposing than the one out front. After some bickering over how to respond to the situation, it was soon decided for them as a call was heard in the front demanding the surrender of the Tyrian travellers. One by one our heroes quietly crawled out the rear window. It was Zuri, who had foolishly made a point of exiting with Sazerak’s five foot zatla pipe in tow, that alerted the assembling soldiers to their escape as the pipe was heard scraping loudly across the ground beneath the window.

The battle quickly escalated and the party engaged the small assemblage of soldiers led by their captain and one of Hamanu’s templars. The Tyrians proved to be too much for the Urikites however, as they struck down the soldiers one by one, surrounded the captain on all sides, and resisted the empowered gaze of the fearsome templar. As the templar turned to flee, he was struck down by one of Zuri’s powerful psychic attacks. Before more Urikite soldiers could arrive, our heroes fled into the streets of Makla to plan their next move.

After witnessing the arrest of a Tyrian merchant, it was decided that Makla was no longer a place to be for affiliates of Tyr, and the party elected to flee the region as quickly as possible.

A Tragic Reunion
Under the Rim of Dawn 9

As rememebered by Birel Windchaser.

Things were falling into place – we had the helmet, the ritual book, and the general. What we didn’t have was any idea how to cleanse the Black Wash, but we did a good enough job of pretending we knew what we were doing that no one seemed to notice.

Akkad seemed sullen during most of the journey, but Bost and Zuri were able to draw him into conversation, and Dazeel started up with some nonsense about battling the dragon (which was a bit far-fetched even for her, but at least it passed the time). At one point Akkad drew out the Golden Lion awarded him for his victories, and to my astonishment the phrase “Golden Lion” was not symbolic – the lion figurine that was actually made out of gold, large enough to be worth more than entire trade caravans. Urik must be more wealthy than I’d realized to be able to bestow such lavish gifts.

After traveling some distance into the Black Wash we found what we were looking for – the parched earth cracked open all around us and we found ourselves surrounded by undead Urikite soldiers, with Drewet at their center.

The next few moments remain somewhat unclear to me—I struck savagely at what I thought was my enemy, but when my blow landed my trikal had found not the pulp of rotting flesh, but the shell of Dazeel’s carapace. Drewet had cast some charm of confusion, and as I regained my senses I heard her yell “You threw it away!” as her bronze helm was proffered to her. Akkad was struck dumb, gazing despondently at Drewet, and whenever anyone else approached she swatted us away like flies, never taking her gaze off Akkad.

Even more strangely, the soldiers surrounding us did not attack, but silently stood their ground. We tried dispatching a few, but new soldiers crawled out of the earth to take the place of the fallen. We could not leave the battlefield, but at least we were in no direct danger from the horde.

Finally realizing that the only way to resolve this was to break the standoff between Akkad and Drewet, I shouted at the general to give up the Golden Lion, thinking that the gesture might satisfy the undead’s grudge. After hesitating Akkad complied, throwing the trophy at Drewet’s feet, but by then it was too late—she barely glanced at it, disregarding the treasure as if it were some worthless trinket. Incited either by magic or guilt, when the general finally raised his khopesh it was to strike at Bost. As if responding to a message in a language known only to Mul warriors, Bost struck back, but the exchange seemed like not a battle, but a ritual. A single strike was enough to end the general’s life, and as her former lover died fighting her enemy, Drewet, as well as her silent entourage, burst into flames which dispersed almost instantly into the scorching air. With one blow Bost laid to rest both the undead army and its un-living general.

While none of us completely understood the events of that day (or of the battle years past), we all felt confident that the haunting of the Black Wash we were engaged to investigate was over. Not only that, but we still had the ritual book we’d been hired to procure, Drewet’s helm, Akkad’s khopesh, and golden lion worth a fortune. Unfortunately, we also had the corpse of Urik’s most famous and beloved general, the details of whose passing would not be well received. We would have to plan our next steps very carefully.

Havoc from the Hungry Hafling
Under the Rim of Dawn 7

Recorded by scholars studying the life of Bost.

The adventurers were amid the sallow muck of the Lake of Golden Dreams, searching for Akkad’s rumored bronze helmet. The bravest of the group tied themselves together with a giant-hair rope. The genasi and the thri-kreen stayed on the bank, remaining clean and dry.

As the group waded through the mud, they encountered a morbid-looking halfling. The group introduced themselves and the halfling did the same, stating that his name was Fa’ar. When the group asked Fa’ar about a helmet, he smiled, displaying teeth that were filed to a sharp point. Although Zuri telepathically chastised the group against premature judgments, everyone’s fears were realized when the halfling suddenly leaped to attack!

The group fought valiantly, that is except K’tek and Dazeel. The sultry thri-kreen was working on her tan and K’tek, for some odd reason, began spinning in circles.

Blow after blow, the group of adventurers struck at the halfling. Then suddenly, a tentacled otyugh appeared! And after that, a spiny chathrang! The otyugh quickly asserted itself, tentacling pretty much everything in site. Bost and the chathrang exchanged blow after blow, each attempting to wear the other down in a battle of slow attrition.

Finally, the Zatla Cowboys won out. Wiping the muck off of their limbs, they surveyed the field and found magic treasure AND the mysterious helmet they’d been searching for!

Dazeel finished her sunbath and helped everyone back ashore. K’tek, meanwhile, just kept spinning in a circle chanting a strange genasi verse. As he continued this strange dance, he very gradually, but with increasing conviction, transformed into a pile of kank dung. It was real weird, but he’s dead now.


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