Sons of Tyranny

The Vault of Darom Madar?

During the scuffle with the Wildrunners the city guard was alerted and several dozen were dispatched to the market to deal with the unrest.

The group quickly finds themselves being hemmed in by the city guard. Lucan leads the group through the narrow winding side streets and back to the safety of the Inn. Once their the group finds that Red isn’t with them. Several hours later they discover that he was captured by the city guard and is being held prisoner in the slave quarters.

Abraxus and the other make preparations to leave town the next morning.

Lucan and D’Ander wait until the middle of the night then sneak into the slave quarters. Their they find Red in a small cell by himself. In the moonlight of Athas’s twin moons they can clearly see that his left hand has been severed and all that remains is a stump. They start to pick the lock on his cell but Red tells them to go away. He is performing a mission, vital to the future of Athas. If they wish to do so they can, but they must become slaves for the rouse to work. Neither the elf or the halfling seem to keen on being slaves. Red tells them to go with the fool Abraxus then, “our paths may cross again if you are not killed on that fools errand”. With that the two silently leave the slave compound the same way they entered.

In the morning the group decides to put off their departure until after the slave auction, hoping that they may be able to buy Red’s freedom cheaply. The bidding quickly exceeds the amount they are willing to pay for Red’s freedom and so the group decides to head out and leave Red to his fate.

In the caravan area D’ander and Lucan make some inquiries about the slave trader who bought Red and the caravans destination. The slavers name is Terremon, a merchant from Tyr who is buying up all of the cheap slaves outside of Tyr. His next stop will be either Raam or Nibinay, which no one can say for sure, but it will be some time before the caravan reaches either destination with their slow moving argosies.

The group decides that they will follow Abraxus to the Black Spine mountains. Then afterwards they will head to Nibinay then Raam to follow up about the fate of Red. Perhaps then, his mission will done.

Days after leaving Altaruk the corpse of dead elf is found in an abandoned building near the elven market. The city guard is on edge for a few days but no more elves turn up dead and so the matter is soon forgotten.

The group reaches the Silver Spring oasis and spends the night in the walled compound with this small group of elves. The next morning the group moves on toward their destination in the Black Spine mountains. Travel on the trade road is mundane, they encounter a few other caravans and trade information about the road ahead, share a bit of broy then continue on their journey. Near the end of the fifth day the group veers from the path of the trade road and begins to follow a narrow animal path up into the Black Spines.

During their second day they are approached by a band of Gith, they seem open to trade but Lucan decides to attack rather than negotiating. He seems to have a great dislike for gith. The gith being greatly outnumbered are easily killed and the group finds that they have two prisoners, probably what they were wanting to try and trade to the group. The two prisoners are an elven female and a male minotaur. Both are appreciative of being freed from the gith and decide to cast in their lot with the group until they leave the mountains.

On the third day the group finds themselves standing before facade of an ancient temple carved into the side of great cliff, that they believe is the vault of Darom Madar. To reach the temple the group must first cross a great chasm spanned by a narrow foot bridge. So they decide to rest for the night before attempting to enter the temple.

Back in the Silver Springs oasis the body of an elven woman who had been missing for two days is found buried in a shallow grave. A single large wound is found on the woman, a nice thin clean wound, like those made by metal weapons. The tracks around the grave have been obscured and no other clues are to be found. The elves recall a group of travelers passing though a few days before, the day before the woman went missing, they were headed north and at least on of them carried a metal spear. The chieftain of the Silver Hand elves gathers a dozen of his best warriors and trackers to his side and then sets out to avenge the death of his granddaughter.

Dealing with Kaldras

After arriving in Altaruk no one in the group is in the mood to confront the elves. They are weary and tired from the journey. So they decide to head to the inn and get some rest. At the Inn the group gets several rooms and arranges for the stabling of their Kanks. Most of the group relaxes, eating and drinking before heading off for a wash and some rest. Lucan decides to head off to the elven market of Altaruk, which is well known to him. He meets up with a few friends and finds out about the arrival and location of the Wildrunner’s as well as makes arrangement for the sale of the goods the group took from the House Shom Argosy, and subsequently drug across the desert on their wild elven chase.

As he leaves the elven market a young elven woman steps into his path. He vaguely recognizes the woman from the attack on the argosy a few days back. She smiles coyly, “my name is Aliea Fairwind, tell your friends that if they want to take revenge on Kaldras, they must act quickly. He is already preparing the tribe to leave Altaruk. If we get into the open desert, you know that you and your friends have no chance of catching us.”

Lucan eyes her suspiciously, “and why do you divulge this information to me and my new associates.”

Aliea smiles and replies “well, it would not be upsetting to everyone in the tribe, perhaps even me…if Kaldras were to be ambushed and killed by your friends.”

Lucan eyes the Wildrunner’s witch hard “What’s in it for me if I get my associates to deal with Kaldras, especially since they have declared that they no longer wish to seek revenge on him or the Wildrunners.”

Aliea scoffs, “I can hardly believe that have forgiven Kaldras, just biding their time more likely…but I will make it worth your while if you can speed things up” she says flashing a wicked smiling and giving Lucan a wink.

“I have no desire to be your next husband witch” replies Lucan “I deal in goods and coin, perhaps you can supply with one or the other, perhaps even both.”

“that is a pity” replies Aliea, “I could use a decent house slave”. She sighs “very well then, I will give you a pair of Wildrunner boots as compensation for this task…but I want Kaldras dead by the end of the night, once he is dead, I’ll be in charge and will call off the warriors of the tribe”.

The two nod in agreement and head their separate ways.

At the Inn Red receives a visit from a Jozhal who looks to be a dune trader or possibly a merchant,and wishes to speak with you about the possibility of hiring the group for some work. In a quite booth at the back of the booth, they dune trader buys Red a drink and they begin to discuss the details. After a bit the man peers around cautiously and tells Red “my patron is a member of those who wear the veil. He has heard of you from a mutual friend in Tyr, and knows of your reputation as a defender of Athas and of those who would be enslaved. He wishes to discuss with you, in private, a secret mission to freeing slaves from the sorcerer kings and the Dragon of Athas himself.” the man eyes the room nervously “If you have any inclination to meet with my patron, then come with me. I am to lead you to a secluded meeting place.

Red eyes the Jozhal hard, but is unable to read him, he gets up and follows after him but fears that he may be heading into a slavers trap.

The two walk quickly and quietly through the streets of Altaruk until they reach a section of town that is older and more run down than the rest. They approach an dilapidated, crumbling building and the man motions for Red to enter “my patron waits inside, through the second door”.

Red unslings his his mighty hammer and scowls at the man “if this is a trap, I will crush your skull when I am done with whomever waits inside”, and with that he tightens his grip on his hammer and enters the abandoned building.

Inside he finds the room dark and cool but can clearly see a door at the back of the room after the momentary adjustment of his eyes to the darkness of the room. He grabs the rope handle of the door and then is suddenly blinded by a flash of light. His vision returns quickly and he finds himself in large opulently decorated room. A well dressed, regal man sits at a table sipping a glass of wine.

Sorry if the portal disturbed you, it is a bit unsettling if you are unaware of what is about to happen, please, have a seat”, and he motions for Red to sit. “Do you know who I am?” the man asks and Red shakes his head no. Introducing himself “My name is Arisphistinales, the Governor of Altaruk, Balican noble, and high ranking member of the Veiled alliance”. “we have learned” he continues, “that the Tithian fully intends to pay the Dragons levy, despite his pledge to the contrary, and is seeking to make himself a sorcerer king. He is of course attempting to do all of this secretly. He has dispatched his agents to the other city states across Athas, with orders to purchase slaves to fill the levy. No doubt bankrupting Tyr in the process. We of the Alliance have dedicated ourselves to his defeat, if we can insure that the levy goes unpaid that Tithian will have little chance of obtaining his ultimate goal. Soon after we learned of his plans we had one of our members pose as a slave and attempt to find where the levy will be paid, and to try and organize the slaves to rebel. Unfortunately, we have not heard anything back from this man and we fear that he has been discovered and killed”.

He stares at Red, “we have decided that sending one of our own, a mage, might have been a mistake. While an excellent wizard, the man lacked certain leadership qualities, that in retrospect made him a poor candidate for the task. You on the other hand, are a warrior and if you choose to be, a leader”.

Arisphistinales pauses as if hesitant to continue, “we want you to go in, find the location they are keeping the slaves and organize them into revolt. Once you find this place, if you can manage to get word out, we can send our people to help, but otherwise you are on you own. It will be dangerous, and you may well fail and become fodder for the Dragon. So if you are disinclined to take on this task I fully understand.

Early in the evening the group awakes from their rest and meets in the tap room of the Inn. They are joined shortly by Red and Lucan, who have spent the afternoon in other pursuits. Lucan tells the group that he has made arrangements to sell the cargo from the House Shom Argosy for 200 Talons of gold. The group is pleased with this and order another round of drinks. Red meanwhile sits quietly deep in thought.

Red begins to speak “I have found us work”. The group quiets and looks at Red for further information. “honest work” he continues “noble work, freeing slaves, and it pays”.

The rest of the group moans, “not the slave thing again” growls Abraxus “because it worked out so good for us the last time, traitorous elves, and lets not forget almost dying of heat stroke on our way here.”

The rest of the group nods in agreement. Abraxus pulls something out of his cloak, “I have a better idea”. Abraxus smiles “While you were all resting, or off getting into business you shouldn’t have” he stares at Red, “I found this”. He unrolls and ancient papyrus scroll on the table. “It shows the location of the Vault of Darom Madar” he smiles greedily.

Now it’s Red’s turn to scowl “where did you find that? down in the Elven Market I have no doubt. Now who is being a fool! Do you really believe that thing is real?

Lucan takes a hard look at the map “it doesn’t look like Elven work to me”, scrutinizing it more closely, “it looks rather authentic and old. Not to mention I know all of the huckster who are in Altaruk right now and none of them are known for selling bogus treasure maps. So I can almost assure you it didn’t come from the Elven market”.

“See, I told you it was real” Abraxus smiles. Red is still incredulous that a treasure map would simply fall into the hands of the Dray and questions him on where he obtained the map. Abraxus will not divulge where he found the map, and things begin to spiral further into futile arguments with Red attempting to brooch the subject of freeing the slaves again.

Lucan finally breaks the tension “well I know one thing we can all agree on”. He says “Kaldras cheated us and he deserves to pay”. The group agrees, and Lucan continues “I learned earlier today, from a trusted source, that the Wildrunners are already packing up and making ready to leave Altaruk. So if we want to deal with him and recoup some of the money that is rightly ours” he corrects himself “I mean yours, then we have to act quickly. If the Wildrunners get out of town I’m afraid it may take months or even years before we could catch up with them again.

After much debate and assurances by Lucan that the Wildrunners witch Aliea will aid them, the group decides to confront Kaldras and his band of elves in the Elven Market of Altaruk. They group first decides to check the lay of the land before ambushing the elves and finds the elves still lingering in the market. Lucan and D’Ander attempt to move into position unnoticed by the Elven guards on the rooftops, but Abraxus decides there is not time and little use for stealth. He enters the crumbling old building the elves are using as a headquarters on the pretext of setting up another raid. Inside he finds Kaldras drunk and seemingly incapacitated. The elf leader is flanked by only two guards and Aliea. He quickly levels his spear and attacks Kaldras without warning before the guards can attack. He lands a solid thrust to the shoulder, a blow that would have killed most any other man. Kaldras, though drunk, manages to stand and stumble out a side door while his warriors move in on Abraxus. Abraxus follows after Kaldras moving past Aliea, who stabs the Dray and chides him on his failure to kill Kaldras outright. Outside the others move toward the building to aid Abraxus or take out elven warriors on the roof tops. D’Ander is cornered outside the building and beaten unconscious by two elven warriors. In the alley, Aliea teleports in front of Kaldras, who is now stumbling and bleeding out, but still alive. She grabs him by the face and begins to suck the life out of him. In the market, Red can see Aliea’s defiling of the old elven warriors spirit. He is torn, while he has sworn to protect Athas from defilers, he has no love for Kaldras. He decides to wait and see what happens when Kaldras is dead. If the witch continues to defile or doesn’t call of the remaining elves, he plans to kill her. Thankfully Aliea is true to her word and orders the elves to retreat after Kaldras is dead. The rest of the elves believing that she was trying to save Kaldras, follow her orders and flee.

The Path to Altaruk

After loading their kanks the elves set off into the badlands, on their way to Altaruk, or so they say. As they leave the PC’s are still sorting through the cargo bay of the argosy and loading up their three kanks, as they are not as adept or experienced at loading cargo quickly like the elves are. The group also faces another quandary, what to do with the prisoners they took. After finishing loading the kanks the group talks it over, Red is in favor of letting them go, but Abraxus is worried that the group will be identified as enemies of House Shom forevermore. He suggests that they cut their throats or put them in the argosy and light it on fire. The others have no wish to murder dozens of people, and the rest of the group sides with Red, but they want to only let one prisoner free in order to slow any possible pursuit.

As the group looks through the crowd of prisoners for the most non-threatening candidate they come across a smirking elf. Abraxus stops to ask the elf what is so funny as he raises his fist to slap the bound elf. “oh nothing, other than the fact that the Wildrunners played you all for fools” the elf replies. “While you were digging through the scraps and trash of the main cargo hold, Kaldras had his men slip up to the middle deck and take all the money, trade bars, gems and other highly valuable items from the secured cargo room behind the secret door in the captains cabin”.

Abraxus, enraged, rushes back into the argosy and confirms the elf statement. After informing the rest of the group, they decide to head after the elves instead of taking the safer and more direct route, the trade road, to Altaruk. The bound elf offers his services as a wilderness scout, claiming he is familiar with the area, and knows of several oasis. The group doubts the voracity of his claims, but they could use a good tracker and an archer. The elf finds his chitin great bow and then head over to introduce himself properly to the party. Red cuts him off before he can begin “we haven’t had much luck with elves lately, so save your breath, no one cares what your name is. Now get out front where we can see you and find the Wildrunner Tribes trail or I’ll cut you in half”. The elf promptly finds the trail and the group sets out on foot with their kanks loaded to capacity with herbs and spices looted from House Shom.

The group finds the trek through the rocky badlands slow going and arduous. In an attempt to catch up with the elves the group presses on past when they should have stopped for the night. After traveling for nearly sixteen hours they stop and rest for the night. Unknown to the group, but well known to the new elf guide, the Wildrunners are well known in the Elven Markets across Athas for the remarkable and fine magic boots they craft. These boots allow them to run at a greater speed than any other elf on the planet. There is no chance that the group will catch the Wildrunner, but the elf, not wishing to be the bearer of bad news keeps this to himself. As the groups guide he is merely making sure the Wildrunners trail doesn’t lead into any traps or ambushes.

The next day the group again travels for sixteen hours and it is taking a toll. Most of the group is fatigued and tired and no shape to confront a critic lizard let alone a tribe of elves.

On the third day, the group wanders into a narrow canyon that is surprisingly green in comparison to the region that they have just traveled through. The elf guide tells the rest of the group that a spring is near. The group enters the canyon and hears a curious low rumbling noise echoing off the cliff walls.

The sounds stop abruptly and from behind a boulder not too far in front, a Brohg stands up to his full height. Bleary eyed from his nap he yawns and stretches his four arms before reaching for his club and a large rock. D’Ander moves to the left attempting to move around the rock formation and flank the Brohg from behind. As he moves forward he is hit by a blow gun dart from a hidden silt runner. Lucan (the elf) is likewise hit by two blow gun darts and tries to remove them before to much of the darts poison enters his blood stream. Lucan then fires two arrows towards his assailants, wounding the first and killing the second. Red throws his javelin at the Brohg hitting the beast in the foot and pinning it to the ground and making it howl in pain. Blu and Abraxus move foreword to attack the Brohg hoping to take advantage of his hobbling and distracted state. The Brohg sees them coming and is ready for their attacks and swats away their pitiful weapon thrusts with his huge club. Then, rather unexpectedly, the Brohg reaches down and grabs the Thri-kreen warrior, lifts him off the ground, and hurls him at Red. Red and Blu (make green) are both seriously injured and lay in a heap on the ground.

D’Ander moves in before the silt runners can react, he quickly and efficiently crushes the skull of one and slices open the throat of the second. Before their bodies hit the ground he turns his attention toward the Brohg and quietly slips in to position behind the four-armed giant. Lucan fires several more arrows at the Brohg, wounding him but not seriously. Abraxus attacks repeatedly but finds each thrust of his spear turned back by the the Brohgs’ clubs sweeping blows. At the same time, Abraxus uses the length of the spear to keep out of the Brohgs reach, as he has no desire to be the next projectile. In Abraxus’s mind he hears the voice of Urrok the Brave, a once might Orc warrior whose spirit was magically transferred into his own weapon thousands of years ago. Urrok berates Abraxus for being a weakling and a coward, (as he has nearly every minute of every day since Abraxus took possession of the spear) and demands that he move in closer and kill the beast like a true warrior. Red, manages to pull himself up and shake the fog from his vision. Furious, he charges at the beast swinging his great stone maul at its knee, which shatters with a sickening crack. The beast roars in pain and goes down. D’Ander moves in taking advantage of the fallen Brohgs helplessness as does Abraxus. In moments the giants life-blood feeds the sands of Athas.

After taking a moment to catch their breath the group spreads out and searches the canyon. They find the Brohgs lair, the base of an ancient tower covered with a roof made from the hides of slain beasts. Inside they find mostly the tattered and well worn possessions of the Brohg and the silt runners. Among these items they also find a good size cache of sacks of herbs, spices and food. The bags bear the triple dragonfly mark of House Shom. Not finding the corpses of any elves or kanks the group reaches the conclusion that Kaldras bartered them with the Brohg in exchange for passage through the canyon or possibly for the attack on them.

After some further searching the group finds a small spring, and takes the time to restock their store of water. They then set off with renewed vigor after the Wildrunners. By mid afternoon they have reached the end of the badlands and stand on the last rocky bluff overseeing a vast stretch of sandy wastes. With little delay or comment, the group climbs down the cliff and heads out across the dunes.

Hours later as the sun begins to set the group catches sight of what appears to be a partially sand covered road ahead of them. They decide that it might be a good place to rest for the night. They also notice that the sand in front of the being disturbed by something large crawling under the sand. Before the can react the ground explodes beneath them, blinding them with sand and knocking Abraxus, Blu and Lucan to the ground. Several Anakore emerge from the still burning sand and attempt to grab Red, D’Ander, and Lucan. Red crushes the arm of one with his hammer while Lucan rolls to his right, narrowly missing another Anakore’s attack. As the group looks around they notice that the halfling D’Ander is no where to be found. The other Anakore retreat below ground, apparently satisfied that they will at the least have a snack for the efforts. The groups stands quietly staring at the ground not sure what they can do, if anything for their fallen friend. Then a small hand emerges weakly from the sand. Red quickly pulls D’Ander out of the ground. After coughing the sand and grit from his lungs he holds up his new prized possession, an Ankore hand, “It looks as though I will be the one who eats tonight” he says with a smile.

The group, still wary of further attacks moves onto the solid bedrock of the old road and sets up a make-shift camp and divides into watches. Late in the night as Abraxus sits quietly watching the sands for any sign of movement he spots something hovering above the crest of one of the dunes. He squints to make out what it is in the dim light of the twin moons. That is all the floating head of Wyan of Bodach needs. Abraxus finds his mind seized by a powerful psionic master. He stands and begins to walk across the sands to meet his new master. In his mind Wyan of Bodach has seized control, and quiets the screaming voice of Urrok the Brave after greeting him as one would an old friend.

On the other side of the dune Wyan releases control of Abraxus’ mind and the Dray falls to one knee his head splitting with pain. Wyan begins to talk. “well Dray, you are a weak minded fool aren’t you. But you may still be of some use to me. I have a mission for you, should you complete the mission in a timely manner, then I shall let you keep my magic spear, that you looted from Unice’s temple… and where better to hide that which she desires most, than in the whore’s own temple” he cackles madly "but never mind about that now. I no longer have any need for such petty rivalries. Search your mind, and you will find that I have places memories there. The knowledge of how to reach an ancient temple, and the ritual to open it’s doors. Inside you will find an elaborately carved and adorned wooden box, a relic of the Green Age. I need that box Dray! Fetch it and I shall allow you to keep “Urrok the Annoying” and as my servant, you shall have more power and wealth than you can comprehend. I would get it myself of course, if it were not for the fact that I have no arms to carry it…and of course their are the powerful magic wards placed by Borys and that fool Kalak that prevent me from personally opening the portal". Wyan begins to float away, presumably towards Tyr, as the head leaves it adds “you have three weeks to do as I bid, otherwise I will find you and rip open your throat so that I may lap up you blood”.

The next morning the group sets off and reaches Altaruk by mid-morning. They pay the two Talon price per head to enter the trade town intending to head for the nearest inn. As they pass through the gate Lucan spots an elven lookout run off towards the elven market. He turns to the other and announces “The Wildrunners have been alerted to our presence”.

The Argosy of House Shom

After rendezvousing with the elves the group discusses their plan of attack with Kaldras. Kaldras draws them a map in the sand showing the trade road and the bend in the road where he plans to set up the ambush. He explains that along the western side of the road is a cliff that is 30 to 40 ft. higher than the top of the Argosy. Because of the cliff and the boulders strewn along the base, the Argosy will be forced to move out into the sand and dust on the other side of the road. He plans to position his warriors along the top of the cliff so that his archers can fire down into the Argosy, denying them the benefit of cover, and hopefully keeping them busy or in hiding. The PC’s job, Kaldras explains, is to use the dust kicked up by the Mekillot’s and the Argosy’s wheels as cover to approach on foot and unnoticed in order to take out the foot patrol stationed along the perimeter of the vehicle. Once that is done, the must find a way into the Argosy, through one of the side doors or through a window. Once inside they must eliminate any guards on the cargo and passenger decks. When that is done the elven archers should have cleared out the top deck. Once that is done, all they need to do is find their way to the drivers seat and force the pilots to surrender, or otherwise force the vehicle to a stop. “Once this is done, we’ll throw open the cargo doors and load up our kanks and be rich men. The slaves should also be in the cargo hold, you can do with them as you will.”

The group asks a few questions then decides that it is as good a plan as any, and so move off to the ambush site to take up positions and wait for the argosy.

When it passes by the elves begin their attack, and the group emerges from hiding to attack the guards on the western side of the argosy. Except for D’Ander who moves quickly between the two Mekillot pulling the argosy and begins scaling the behemoth vehicle. Red, Abraxus and the others press the attack on the outer guards while D’Ander manages to find an unsecured window an the second floor of the argosy. He could use it as an access point buy a guard is looking out the window, trying to see the elves above. Unnoticed by the guard he decides to grab the man by his dangling scarf and pulls him out the window, he lands on the ground and is crushed under the wheels of the argosy. D’Ander then jumps through the open window and finds himself in a small room with four more guards. One screams “Halfling!” and flees, the others decide that three men can take out a little halfling, cannibals or not.

A few moments later D’Ander emerges from the small room into the common room of the passenger deck, covered in the gore of his last three victims, hunting for the fourth. He pauses long enough to take stock of his surroundings and opens the door to the outside of the argosy.

Outside the group has little trouble with the guards, and soon notices that D’Ander has opened the door on the middle deck. Abraxus decides to jump and grab the base of the stairs and climb his way up, but the bottom stair breaks and he falls and is nearly crushed by the wheel. Red and Blu are spotted by the guards at the rear of the argosy and move to silence them.

After some effort Abraxus manages to climb aboard the argosy and meets up with D’Ander who has been waiting and they then proceed up the stairs onto the upper deck. Here they come upon three guards who were taking cover from the elven barrage inside the argosy. The first guard grabs the halfling and tries to push him out the window at the back of the short hallway, but D’Ander slips to the side and uses his own weight and the man’s momentum to send guard through the window instead. He then turn back to face the other two guards, when Abraxus is struck from behind by two more guards who had been hiding on the middle deck.

Red and Blue finish the last guard at the rear of the argosy and then join the others on the middle deck after climbing up the outer stairs. They have the guards and a sun priest on the passenger deck surrounded and quickly cut them down. When they finally make their way to the upper deck they find D’Ander using once guards corpse as a bench while snacking on another.

After a moments rest the regroup and head across the open deck and break down the doors to the pilots cabin, several guards attack but a man at the rear of the room tells the guards “stand down!, we surrender”. The PC’s are relieved and take the surrendering guards out to the open deck where they bind their hands. A quick search of the argosy reveals a few more hidden guards and some passengers who all surrender. All the prisoners are bound and led outside and into the shade by the side of the argosy.

While searching the rest of the argosy for prisoners the group notices a banner hanging at the back of the pilots room. A banner of three white dragonflies on a red-and-black, diagonally divided field. The symbol of House Shom. They instantly realize that the argosy does not belong to House Ianto, and that Kaldras probably lied to them about the ownership in order to get them to do his dirty work.

Irate the group heads outside to confront Kaldras and finds the Elves about to open the cargo doors. They tell Kaldras that the argosy doesn’t belong to Ianto. Kaldras smiles and tells them, “my scouts must have made a mistake, after all…elves tend to be unreliable. Unfortunately, the scout who identified the argosy as belonging to Ianto was killed by one of the Kank outriders we confronted earlier this morning.” He shrugs his shoulder, “such is life, but do not despair my friends, for we are all now very rich men”.

Noticing that they are outnumbered ten to one they decide not to presently take action and bide their time. The cargo doors are opened and the elves stream in and begin looting the cargo hold. The group, fearing that they may be left with nothing if they do not act quickly, join in the looting.

From Slaves to Marauders

In the morning the group meets with Kaldras and his band and discovers that his tribes witch is none other than the one who was working for the nobles during the assassination attempt on Xalos. Kaldras calms them down by pointing out that it was only business, and the nobles were paying good coin.

The group leaves Tyr and spends the next three days traveling to the ambush spot where they plan to attack the Argosy. The Elves keep to themselves during the trip and the group has an easy time reaching their destination.

Kaldras lays out the plan. Telling the group that the Argosy is guarded by three groups of outriders on Kanks. He and his elves will take out two of those groups while they take out the third. He tells them, that because they are slow, they can attack the trailing outriders. All they need to do is wait until the Argosy passes then set up and ambush on the road.

The groups split up and the PC’s wait for the Argosy to pass and set up an ambush. When the Kank riders come into range the group charges out and attacks. The group kills the guards and manages to capture three of the Kanks. Unfortunately Giovanti the halfling is stabbed through the eye by one of the kank riders, while at the same time being crushed in the mandibles of the Kank.

They bury him under a small pile of stones next to the bleached bones of a gnoll raider. Afterward the group heads to the rendezvous point with the elves to set up the ambush of the argosy.

Election Day pt. 2

Red springs into action and pushes his way through the panicked crowd and jumps onto the closest mekilot. Meanwhile the others notice some men and dwarves enter the square, their eyes keeping an a watchful eye as they head toward the election platform. Giovanti the halfing works his way through the crowd to intercept them, while Ben Dover the Eladrin Psion, uses his abilities to assault the groups leader.

Red quickly brings the first mekilot under control then rides it towards the second mekilot. When he is close enough he jumps onto the back of the second mekilot and brings it under control.

Giovanti, using the crowd as cover harries the nobles minions keeping them from their mission and quickly takes down three of the six men, while Ben takes care of their leader. One flees, the other, a Dwarf makes killing Giovanti his focus, and fail miserably at it. After being killed by Giovanti the dwarf rises as a ghost to haunt the square for ever more.

Ben notices that the city guards in charge of the election tokens have been stuffing a large bag with the tokens of the man backed by the nobles. He and Abraxus jump them and knock them to the ground.

When the Templars arrive the city guards are taken away to face the King’s punishment.

After a few more hours the election is over, the left over tokens are counted and Xalos is declared to be one of the two winners. As a special treat, he invites the group to the gladiator games being held by Tithian that night. The decide to go and see what the games are like from the other side of the arena. They spend the night drinking and feasting with Xalos.

While at the games, Red is approached by a man who introduces himself as Korsun of House Mareneth, a small but wealthy trading house in Tyr. He tells Red that he was in the square earlier in the day and witnessed his daring feat of jumping from one Mekilot to the other. “I am in need of courageous warriors such as yourself. I control the ancient city of Celik, they are ruins now, but it has a healthy spring and fertile fields. One day, with the help of men such as yourself the city will be reclaimed and we will turn it into the only truly free city that Athas has seen since the rise of the Sorcerer Kings.” Red declines his offer, suspecting the man might have an ulterior motive. A little later he speaks with Xalos and finds out that Korsun is what he says he is, and is recruiting all manner of people in order to re-establish the city of Celik.

After the group leaves the arena they decide to head home. When they pass through the Shadow Square a figure steps out of the shadows (what else would you expect). The man who approaches them is an elf named Kaldras. He is the chief of the Wildrunner’s clan. He tells them that he has heard of them from Shalar Balasan‘s Mekilot driver. “The man is drunk in the Red Kank on the other side of the square. Telling anyone who will listen about how earned extra coin to cover up the fact that Shalar ordered him to leave you in the desert to rot, rather than pay you. Also, the man claims that Shalar paid you only a pittance of what a real caravan guard would make, taking advantage of your ignorance or such matters because you are all ex-slaves” after a brief pause, Kaldras continues "seeing how you all have a bone to pick with Shalar, I have a proposition for you. As I’m sure you all know, we elves keep a close eye one the comings and going of caravans. My scouts have reported to me that an Argosy recently left Alturak, a House Ianto Argosy, loaded with slaves and goods. They have not yet received word that slavery is illegal in Tyr. Shalar dispatched a courier earlier today, but my men intercepted him and convinced him not to deliver his message, lest the Argosy turn and head for Urik instead. You help me assault the Argosy, we split the cargo and your free hundreds of slaves."

Red not trusting the elf Kaldras heads to the Red Kank and finds Shalar’s Mekilot driver, a man named Marut. He drags the poor man outside and interrogates him. He confirms Kaldras story about Shalar cheating them out of money and ordering Marut to leave them in the desert. Red decides to kill Shalar and heads for the Iron Square and Shalar’s residence. The rest of the group convince him to stay his anger, and get revenge on Shalar by raiding their Argosy and thereby insuring the House will fall into financial ruin.

The group casts in their lot with Kaldras and the Wildrunners and decide to head out first thing in the morning. They promise to meet Kaldras in The Warrens where his tribe is staying.

Election Day

In the home of Xalos the Stonecutter the PC’s begin to interrogate the man they captured during the street ambush. The human appears to be scared and malnourished. With only a little prodding the man begins to talk. His name is Hazmin and up until a few weeks ago he was a slave working in the brickyards helping to build Kalak’s ziggarut. Though his life was tough as a slave, he ate every day and received his ration of water. Since his release his eagerness for freedom has been dulled by the harsh realities of the streets of Tyr. Most nights he goes to sleep hungry, thirsty, and fearing that he will not live to see the sun rise again. That was, until a few days ago. Then man came through the warrens rounding up men and women, anyone who could swing a club. They paid a shekel for days work of bullying shop keepers, merchants and citizens. The work was easy enough and the pay was good, after all it does not matter to him who gets elected. Then yesterday, they were all offered another job, murder… the thought didn’t sit well, but the pay was more money than he had ever seen or even dreamed of, 10 scales each. Enough to keep food in his belly for months, maybe even a year if he managed his money wisely. The men who ran the operation never gave their names and they operated out of a series of old abandoned building in warrens. There were many rumors as to who we were working for, the most common was that the scheme was being run by the nobles. Shoshana Beryl and Murter Dyan in particular.

Abraxus decides to let the man go, reasoning that he has no personal grudge against them. He warns Hazmin before he leaves, that should their weapons cross again, that he will not hesitate to cut him down. Hazmin politely thanks Abraxus for sparing his life and assures him that he has no intention of going back to work as an enforcer, he wishes only for a quite life and an old mans death.

The group decides that for now, they can do nothing further and decide to get some rest for the night, as the election will begin in the morning. They speak with Xalos, telling him that they will return in the morning just after sunrise and then head back to their flop-house.

Their night is uneventful and the group wakes early in the morning and prepares their gear and weapons as they eat a meager meal of boiled and salted yara buds. The two halfings though disdain the yara buds in favor of strips of raw Tarek, gleaned from last nights hunting. As they leave they notice a cordon of men in purple tunics bearing an eight-pointed star at the end of the street. The city guards having blocked off access to the various parts of the city until after the city wide elections. The group turns and head off for Xalos’ estate.

When they arrive at the home of Xalos and find him outside with a group of a dozen men. After greeting them, Xalos continues his mornings preparations. “surely the nobles will attempt to disrupt the elections” he explains, “so I want as many people as I can on the lookout for trouble. One group will watch the streets and sewer entrances making sure they do not attempt to move their supporters about the city to inflate their numbers or having people vote twice. The second group will come with me, though I don’t think I’ll need protection now, but the nobles and their supporters could cause trouble at the square” He gives the PC’s the option of choosing which job the prefer and a few moments later they set of with Xalos and head for Artisan Square at the heart of the district.

They find the Artisan Square packed with people and a carnival like atmosphere. Many merchants have set up temporary stalls to hawk their wares and sell food and drink to the people who come to vote. In the center of the square, a large wooden platform has been erected for the four politicians seeking office. King Tithian sparing no expense has had it stuffed with pillows and stocked with rare delicacies and plenty of wine. Each has a small balcony, with a silk banner bearing his symbol from which to make speeches. From the shade, the would be representatives can call out to the voters as they pass by, beseeching them to vote for them, making last minute appeals to each and every voter if they so choose. All in all the mood is festive and hopeful as voters file past, patiently waiting their turn to vote.

After the voters pass by the wooden platform they arrive at the ballot box guarded by the city guard. Whereupon, a representative appointed by King Tithian places a single clay token of each of those representatives (and matching their silken banners) in a box, each voter simply takes the token of the man he wishes to see elected and then moves on.

The group decides to split up and moves about the base of the platform and in the crowd keeping an eye out for anything out of ordinary. After four hours of voting the group begins to tire of their vigil. Then at the north end of the square they spot a man run into the crowd pursued by two other men who are attempting to hide their weapons but still keep them at hand. Those who can see the man are easily able to recognize him as Hazmin, the man from the night before. Hazmin pushes through the crowd trying to stay ahead of his would be assassins. D’ander jumps from his perch on the central platform and weaves his way through the crowd with little effort and intercepts Hazmin. Suddenly across the other side of the square the crowd erupts in panicked screams and begins to part before the trampling charge of two Mekilots


Political Aspirations

The character learn that in their absence that the good king of Tyr, Tithian I, has decreed that all citizens of Tyr shall have one cup of water per day free from the public wells. In addition, the noble senate has been dissolved and is to be replaced by a council of advisers elected from each district.

The group, having nothing to do currently spends a few days relaxing in their flop-house in the artisan district, while they wait for Meliot to restore the scrolls they found in the temple. Abraxus has the gold coin he found appraised at 2500 shekels and decides to sell the coin. The group eats and drinks well for the night and then returns to their flop-house. D’ander the halfling keeps watch while the rest of the group sleeps.

D’ander notices a man in a burnoose watching the building from the alleyway next to the charnal house down the street. The man watches the building for about twenty minutes then heads off down the street towards the Elven Market. D’ander slips from his observation post, climbs down to the street and follows the hooded-man into the Elven district. Despite D’anders great skills at tracking and hunting he soon looses the man and finds himself nearly lost in the Warrens. He decides to head back to the flop-house. When he returns he finds the Eladrin in the midst of a feverish nightmare.

The Eladrin’s dreams are filled with visions of battle and gore, green-skinned men fighting with vicious fury against elves, men and all manner of creatures. One green-skinned man stands out from the rest, massive with muscles like knotted rope and a keen mind, he is a great champion and wields a metal great spear that looks dimly familiar. In the vision the green-skinned champion turns toward him and roars “You are not worthy of Urrok the Brave!”.

A knock on the door awakens the group out of their slumber. Always wary they grab their weapons and make ready for combat as Geovanti throws open the door. The mid-morning sun pours in blinding them. A large man, a mul gives a them a greeting, “good day sons of Tyr!, I am Xalos the Stonecutter, and I have a proposition for you”.

Xalos enters and quickly explains that all of Tyr has heard about Tythian’s proclamations, and the formation of a council of advisers to the king. He, Xalos explains to them, is running for election and he needs some good strong men, who are handy with a weapon. There are those in Tyr who would assassinate rivals and rig the council elections. He tells them he will pay them of course, in addition to the sense righteousness that they will be helping to keep Tyr free from the the machinations of the nobles.

After a bit of discussion and negotiation, the group agrees to serve as Xalos body guards until the day after the election. Xalos the Stonecutter bids them to grab their belongings, their is no time to waste and he heads off down the street as the group scrambles to grab their gear.

They spend the day following Xalos around the Artisan District as he visits with it’s citizens and power brokers, making deals and promises in exchange for votes. He, it would seem was born to be a politician. That night Xalos and the his body guards head for the Caravan District where there is a meeting discussing the new electoral process and procedures. The warehouse is packed with people and Xalos tells the group that they can wait outside if they wish, since the meeting is under the protection of the Templar’s.

Outside the group is approached by a man who attempts to recruit them as miners for House Ianto’s salt mining operation. “Pay is one scale a day” the man tells them. Having previously had poor relations with House Ianto Red tells the man to “piss off!” The man heeds the warning a quickly heads down the empty lane, glancing backwards and keeping a wary eye on the group. The entire group quickly surmises that something is amiss (again) with the House Ianto salt mining operation. As the cost of salt per pound is so low that they could not possibly pay laborers a Scale each per day and make a profit. They guess that Ianto has probably secretly gone back in the slave business and is just using the promise of a high paying job to lure the unwary and desperate into leaving Tyr and their freedom behind.

After the meeting finishes up Xalos meets the group in the street and they head back to the Artisan District. Xalos seems to be in a good mood and is optimistic of his chances of being elected. As the group nears Xalos home and workshop D’ander spots movement on the roof above. An Tarek armed with a bow fires from his position as does another Tarek. From behind them and from side allies come the sounds of men running. D’ander shouts “Ambush” and the group breaks into a run towards Xalos’ home, but they are cut off by another group of armed men. D’ander and Giovanti the feral halflings stay close to the mul, protecting him. While the others wade into battle and Kelm the Hunter takes care of the Tareks on the roof tops. An elven witch casts several spells on the group causing them great trouble and Abraxus shatters his bone axe when he misses club wielding Tarek who is attempting to kill the Eladrin. Without an extra weapon Abraxus is on the defensive against the Tarek until the Eladrin throws him the metal spear he found at the Temple in the salt flats. The group manages to rout the attackers and Abraxus manages to capture one them, whom they quickly drag back to Xalos’s house for interrogation.

Back to the Salt Mines and Tyr

After looting the tomb and waiting until sunrise, the group emerges from the crypt. They find that the undead have returned to their graves, at least temporarily, and head out across the salt flat back toward the location of the salt mine. After a few hours they arrive back at the rock shelter that was being used as a base camp by the miners and find it deserted. After searching the shelter for signs of foul play, and then anything usable the group decides to head back to Tyr. They discover that the two Mekillot have left no tracks, indicating that they left before, or possibly during the sand storm that hit late yesterday evening as they were entering the tomb. It would seem that they were abandoned and left to die in the desert by House Ianto.

The group decides to spend the rest of the day in the area and foraging for enough food and water to make the three and half day return trip, and spend much of the rest of the day engaged in this task.

The next morning they set off early in the cool hours just before dawn and by mid-afternoon they have spotted several land marks indicating that they are near to the cut-off near the main road. Without much trouble the group finds the main road and head back towards Tyr. After three uneventful days they reach the gates of Tyr. After paying the King’s Levy of 2 bits each the group returns to their flop house in the Artisan district and as it is late in the evening the group gets some sleep.

The next day they decide to find a buyer for the scrolls they found in the tomb. After several hours of asking around they are directed to Melliot’s Scriptorium, an establishment not far from their quarters, and with a solid reputation for honesty. After meeting with Melliot the group decides to have the scrolls restored. Melliot tells the group that the scrolls are at least a thousand years old and in poor condition. It could take weeks to complete the restoration.

The Temple of Wyan of Bodach

The group decides to climb down off the butte and head toward the ruined temple to the west. They set out across the salt flat expecting to arrive at the temple in only a few hours. However, the simmering heat coming off of the salt flat made the ruin appear closer than it really was. After several extra hours of walking the group finally reaches the ancient crumbling temple. From a distance the group can see that a portion of the roof remains intact as do most of the edifices walls. They keep a sharp eye out for movement from within the temple as they approach closer, so intent on watching the dark shadows within in the glaring reflected light of the salt flat that only D’Ander, the Halfling notices that the ground surrounding the temple is greatly disturbed. At their present location, only small areas, a few feet across are disturbed but as one moves closer to the temple, the entirety of the ground surrounding it becomes disturbed. The group decides to approach from another direction, should the ground disturbance be caused by some burrowing creature, they decide it would be wise to outflank it in order to reach the temple. After a short distance the group can see that the ground all the way around the temple is disturbed. They also notice that off in the distance a sand storm, and figure that it will hit in less than two hours and will force them to remain at the temple over night, or either head back to the Ianto’s rock shelter. While they stop to discuss their options, Blu’chez (Thri-kreen warrior) decides that the best course of action is to simply run across the loose salt-sand to the temple. The rest of the group waits until he is halfway across the disturbance before they decide to join him and follow suit. Seeing how he has not been devoured they assume it is reasonably safe.

Having safely reached the temple after a four hour trek the group is tired and thirsty, but they decide to do a quick reconnaissance to insure that it is not occupied. After a some cautious exploration of the temple they discover that the walls of the temple are covered in bas-relief carving that were once painting in bright vibrant colors, though they are now cracked and faded. The scenes on the walls depict a human male (?), slaughtering strange looking green beast-men in a variety of horrific ways.

Near the far end of the temple, in a side chamber just off of the main alter room, Abraxus finds the desiccated corpse of a half-giant. The half-giant, clearly the mines overseer, is laying face down in a pile of rubble and lying across his right arm. After closer inspection Abraxus is able to tell that the corpse is clutching something tightly in his barely visible right hand. He decides to turn the corpse over and pry its hand open. As he does so, he sees a writhing mass of slug-like creatures underneath it, and in the dead half-giants hand, and ancient solid gold coin. After snatching the coin away he drops his hold on the corpse but is unable to move away quickly enough and the swarm of Rot Grubs begins to crawl up his exposed arm and legs. D’Ander rushes to his side and attempts to kill as many of the grubs as possible.

The rest of the group, hearing Abraxus’ squeals of alarm rush to see what is happening. When they do so, an adult Silk Wyrm and five hatchlings that had been awakened from their slumber by the commotion, drop from the ceiling catching the group unaware and attempt to make a quick meal of them. In the ensuing melee Keln is badly injured by the Silk Wyrm before the rest of the group forces it to flee out into the salt flats. Blu, chases it down and with some help from D’Ander they finish it off.

Retreating back to the shade of the temple the group decides to take a rest, bandage Abraxus’ wounds, drink some water, and let Keln recover from the Wyrm’s assault. The group after resting for a bit decides to go back to examining the bas-relief murals. Blu, using his magical lens is able to decipher a bit of the script they find on one of the walls. The explains the meaning of the glyphs to Thurnderhoof who then translates it into common for the rest of the group, as Blu will not speak such a crude and vulgar language as common or any other human language for that matter. The glyphs tell something about a man named Wyan of Bodach, but the writing is far too fragmentary to discern what the story is about. The group assumes that the Wyan of Bodach is the man pictured slaughtering the green beasties in the murals.

After having rested for a bit, Abraxus show the rest of the group the gold coin he found in the half-giants hand. They determine that it is pure gold, and probably worth nearly 2,500 shekels. They decide that he must have found it in a vault or crypt below the temple and so set off to look for entrances to a crypt. There are also still four missing human guards and workers yet to be found and a sleeping place out of the dust storm would be an added bonus.

The dust from a sand storm hits the temple and limits visibility to only 20-30 ft. The strong winds blowing through the structure creates a low ominous moaning sound. The group hastens their search for more suitable shelter out of the blowing, lung clogging sand. Behind the main alter they find a secret door, that when opened exposes a set of narrow stairs that lead steeply down into the darkness below. Some of the group is beginning to have second thoughts about sleeping in a crypt and express that perhaps they should wait until the following morning to explore the crypt. The moaning sound of the wind becomes louder, while at the same time the strength of the wind seems to be subsiding, at least momentarily. Visibility improves a bit and the characters now hear the shuffling of feat scrapping on hard stone floors. They look into the surrounding rooms of the temple and beyond into the salt flat and see that hordes of zombies are descending upon it from all directions. They realize that the ground disturbance surrounding the temple was from the undead whom it would seem, dig themselves out their graves each night and roam the temple and the salt flats in search of flesh.

Not wishing to be torn apart by hundreds of ravenous zombies the group enters the crypt and seal the door behind them.

Below in the crypts, the group finds the corpses of the four other men they came looking for. The men have no obvious physical wounds, and the doors on either side of the room are barred, from this side of the door. Clearly, whatever killed these men came down the stairs above, or more likely, was not hindered by physical barriers at all. As such, the group decides to open the door to see what horrors lay beyond. They enter the first room and find themselves staring at a statue of a large dragon. On either side of the statue is a sarcophagus, both still intact. Abraxus approaches the first sarcophagus and decides to pry off the lid, hoping to find more gold coins within. With some effort, and the help of Blu, (and despite the protest of some of the others) they are able to push it aside, but the bulk and the weight of the unbalanced lid sends it crashing to the floor where it shatters.

Awakened by the desecration of their tomb, vengeful ghosts awaken and assail the group. After repelling the spirits the groups find the sarcophagi empty of anything valuable, but in cubbies along both side walls, in plain sight, they find 16 sealed scroll tubes. Thunderhoof opens several and determines that they are poor shape and likely to simply fall apart. They decide to take the scroll tubes hoping that they may be able to find someone who could restore them to readable, if not usable condition or someone who would be interested in buying them despite their poor condition.

Thunderhoof stops to repair his warhammer, which he broke fighting the spirits of this room. The rest of the group decides to spend the time searching for hidden doors and such. Much to their amazement, they actually find one. It opens when a small level hidden in the tail of the dragon statue is turned. The door opens directly behind where Thunderhoof is setting. He quickly jumps to his feet, determined to thrash anything that comes out of the gloom beyond. No threat materializes and the group begins to explore the chamber.

They find that it contains a single ornate sarcophagi covered with the bas-relief carving of a green beast-man warrior. Blu, with his magic lens reads the sarcophagi’ inscriptions and Thunderhoof translates. They learn that it belongs to a beast-man named Urrok the Brave a mighty warrior of the beast-men who slew hundred of men during his lifetime, and much to their disbelief, four dragons single-handed. Of course, they decide that looting it is the only sensible course of action and open the sarcophagi. Inside they find that Urrok’s bones and most of his equipment have turned to dust. However, they find two spears tipped with metal blades in near perfect condition.


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