Dark Sun: Seared to the bone

Storm Seat

The chief’s body yielded a key, two gems and a good sum in coin. Given his lack of interest in material wealth, it was agreed that the thri-kreen should carry any valuables found. The party rested in the hejkin lair, despite the unpleasant smell. After several hours they returned to the electrified door. As Althaea gingerly approached the door with the hejkin’s key held in front of her, the crackling stopped and the bard could push the door open safely.

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Cult of Dust

Mik’s brow furrowed in thought. “Time, perhaps? Men’s sight grows dim with age, but they may become wiser too, and some buildings crumble with age but others… grow stronger because they are old? Surely not, but we have three guesses. TIME!” he called aloud. Wrong , the whisper came back. Maro muttered to himself. “What makes buildings strong? Bricks, made of sand… but sand can wear away a wall, and it also makes a man blind, as we know all too well, but makes a man see?”

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Face in the Stone

The loss of two companions had been hard, but two of the freed prisoners declared themselves willing to join the companions. Both were physically impressive. Maropona, a mul warden, declared that there were defilers nearby and that he was sworn to destroy them. Mikar Zadackara Reharmal (“Call me Mik”), a goliath ranger and ex-gladiator, swore to protect Naivara against her foes in thanks.

After a night’s rest the party roped themselves together and began edging through the enormous dust devil, keeping against the rock face on one side. Maropona went first, followed by Ku-ki’cha, then Althaea, Naivara and Mik. It was impossible to see, and the only way they could communicate was through pulling on the rope that joined them. The sand tore mercilessly at the travellers, clogging their eyes and nostrils and making breathing difficult. Once or twice they stumbled over an object on the ground; too soft for a rock, they guessed it to be one of the bodies of the prisoners who they had seen tossed in earlier. Eventually they emerged out the other side of the sandstorm and stood for a few minutes shaking sand out of their clothing. Naivara thought longingly of the bath-house at the Golden Enix in Tyr, then stopped abruptly, staring across the flat expanse of desert on the other side of the sandstorm. It was the exact same thing she had seen in her vision – a huge carven humanoid face carved into rock, the mouth gaping open at ground level. “The Face of Stone!”, she cried out, “Aramil!”

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Storm's Edge

Where the devil ’s horn threads the tunnel in the sky, a stony visage rarely blinks its hollow eye.
The echoes in the deep can be heard
south of my sandy blizzard
Blood flows from the victims in fountains
in this temple within these mountains
My crown rests once again
till enough blood runs from the slain
The dragon’s call shall be heard once more
as I drag it to the underground before my holy war.

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Visions

“Halt, travellers! You are required to pay a tax before entering Tyr – the price is 50 silvers.” Two armed men barred the way, bearing Tyrian insignia. House Wavir’s caravan was approaching the outskirts of Tyr, passing through a crowded ramshackle settlement that sprawled outside the city’s Caravan Gate. Ku-ki’cha stood in front of the two soldiers, glancing back at the skiff bearing Rhotan Vor, wondering if he would pay the tolls. The dwarf seemed to ignore the soldiers and the skiffs rolled by them. Obviously he has some arrangement with them, or his rank exempts him from paying, thought the monk, and fished in his coin-pouch for the five gold, not wanting to infringe the law even before entering Tyr. He did not notice that his companions had chosen to ignore the two soldiers, and trotted up to join them. “Did those men take any money from you?” asked Rhotan. “Yes, they were toll collectors. I paid them five gold.” The dwarf smiled. “I think you’ve been had, friend. Those weren’t city guards, just a couple of scam artists.” Ku-ki’cha turned and ran back, trying to spot the two men, but they had disappeared in the milling crowds. He shrugged and ran back to the others. It’s just money, after all, he thought.

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The Race to Tyr!

Eyes narrowed in concentration, Naivara manoeuvred the treasure chests one by one up out of the cave, following a few steps behind as they floated along. The sand below each sealed box swirled gently as the edge of her psionic field passed over it. A few caravaneers watched her with interest, until Rhotan Vor snapped at them to stop lounging and see to making the skiffs ready. Up at the top of the canyon, Wil and Ku-ki’cha crouched behind a dune, each scanning the horizon with their sensing eye. The newcomer, Braz, had reported that House Tsalaxa were sending a force in pursuit from Silver Springs and they could be expected within the hour.

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The Vault of Darom Madar

The party rested at length to recover their strength and to prepare for the next push into the caverns. The cave mouth that Ku’ki-cha had run towards opened into a rectangular chamber cut into the rock, with two large recesses cut into the south wall. Naivara peered through into the gloom and her keen eyes made out a pair of what she guessed to be sarcophagi in each alcove. However, the chamber was dominated by a solid carved block of obsidian which stood square in the middle of the rubble-strewn floor.

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The Canyon of Gothay

Two days later the little wagon train was traversing the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes. Ku-ki’cha was in a good mood; this was his homeland, and he chattered constantly about local landmarks until the party persuaded him to scout ahead. The sun had passed its zenith when the thri-kreen called out in his piping accent, “It is here! Come and look!” The company caught him up and found themselves close to the brink of a cliff. A broad but not overlong cleft ran through the rocky floor of this part of the desert. Towards the top of the cliff, many caves could be seen. This, then, was the Canyon of Gothay. The party pooled their knowledge of such places and formed an educated guess as to which caves might be most likely to hide the treasure vault – and what unpleasant denizens might lurk within them.

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Elven Relations

“The Lord Toramund will see you now”, spoke the elven guard with ill-concealed disdain. The party were shepherded through a maze of passageways until they stood on the threshold of a luxuriously furnished room. A male elf, clad in rich clothes, lounged on a rug. Another spoilt lordling, thought Wil. “You can leave me with them, Theothas, I’m sure I’ll be quite safe”, said the elf, gesturing towards the door. “As my lord commands”, replied the guard, then saluted and left, smirking at the visitors. Is someone going to let us in on the joke? Wil wondered.

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The Road to Silver Springs

Wil pored over the sheet of parchment spread out across a large flat rock, trying to make sense of the lines of stick-figures that covered it. He’d been given the letter in Altaruk to deliver to the elf Toramund, lord of the Silver Springs Oasis, and the fact that it was written in this curious cipher only made him more curious as to its content. Perhaps there was a little paranoia motivating him too, but in Athas suspicion was considered more of a survival trait than a character flaw. Eventually every one of the adventurers hired to guard Rhotan Var had had a look at the letter, even the thri-kreen Ku-ki’cha, who inadvertently poked a hole in the parchment. Slowly, patterns were identified and the document’s overall meaning became clear: Toramund’s son Ravi had been taken by some group called the ‘Toothcutters’ in Tyr and had been killed by them.

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