Dark Sun: Seared to the bone

Crown Wyrm

The only other exit from the chamber was a stone door, which opened on to a corridor. Mik advanced cautiously along this passage, prodding the floor with a spear, but the way was safe and presently the party entered a room containing a sturdy table and no other exits. The floor bore scratch marks, suggesting that the table could be slid, although no amount of shoving would budge it. Graven peered closer, and in the torchlight he read the marks: I end the race. I am the beginning of the end, the start of eternity and the end of space. There are two of me in heaven and one in hell. I am in water, fire, sunshine and darkness. I am the beginning of earth and the end of life. “Again, easy. The letter ‘E’”, said Naivara with confidence, and traced the answer with her finger on the table surface. Sure enough the table rolled aside noisily, revealing stairs leading down. The party entered the gloomy hole, coughing in the stale air. As the last member passed through the table rolled back into place, though there seemed to be a release lever just inside the opening.

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Ancestor Hall

Maropona surveyed the area with distaste. The area was lit by the purplish fire emanating from two huge braziers set either side of the steps, and the sight of it set his flesh crawling. Defiling magic, he thought. A pedestal, supporting an urn, stood at each end of the short passages to the left and right of the steps. The party hesitated, fearing more traps. Eventually Ku-ki’cha approached one cautiously. The urn bore a snake design painted in some kind of dark green fluid, and characters in a language the thri-kreen could not decipher. Naivara appeared at his shoulder. “That’s primordial,” she said, “Our ancestors require… obeisance. Hmm. Ah, there’s a nMaropona surveyed the area with distaste. The area was lit by the purplish fire emanating from two huge braziers set either side of the steps, and the sight of it set his flesh crawling. Defiling magic, he thought. A pedestal, supporting an urn, stood at each end of the short passages to the left and right of the steps. The party hesitated, fearing more traps. Eventually Ku-ki’cha approached one cautiously. The urn bore a snake design painted in some kind of dark green fluid, and characters in a language the thri-kreen could not decipher. Naivara appeared at his shoulder. “That’s primordial,” she said, “Our ancestors require… obeisance. Hmm. Ah, there’s a name too – Koranath Maeshez. Could these be his ashes, I wonder? Let’s have a look at the other one.” The urn at the end of the opposite corridor was similarly decorated, although the artist seemed to have used charcoal. “All I can make out is a name – Palmas Thoran. No, Mik, wait-" As her companion started to lift the urn a pulse of energy shot out from it and sent everyone reeling. “I… I can’t see!” shouted Mik. “I can’t!” “Me too!” came several cries.

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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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