Dark Sun: Seared to the bone

Naivara's Tale of woe

Extract from “The Complete Alumni Almanac”, located in The Walker of the Exalted Path Monastery, 300 years from now :

“Naivara J’ayan was one of the most promising students of Psionics of her generation, excelling in all her subjects at this illustrious institution. Sadly, she failed to fulfil her potential, and left the Monastery in mysterious circumstances. Her father, Hadarai J’ayan, later claimed that she had gone in search of the Lands Within the Wind, though his testimony has been considered unreliable and motivated by a desire to preserve his business reputation. Other reports suggested an illicit romance, with a human or eladrin lover. More fanciful rumours hinted that she fell in with a band of outlaws, and lived a life of crime and violence till the end of her days. Suffice to say that this Monastery never saw her again, and her sad story is a lesson to all current and future students that continuing one’s studies is of paramount importance.”

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The Blood Jewel

A few minutes later, Maro edged cautiously down the staircase that descended from the laboratory. In one hand he held the green globe that Aramil had wielded against them. The stairs opened on to a room about twice as long as it was wide, with a circle of runes inscribed on the floor similar to the one they had seen before. There were three doors in the wall on his right, two smaller ones flanking a double set in the middle. A peculiar clicking sound came from behind the doors which Maro recognised as thri-kreen speech. Taking care to avoid the circle, he approached the middle door and peered through the keyhole. Three kreen were visible, and Maro guessed there were more out of his arc of vision. Behind them he could make out a pedestal surmounted by a crystal dome. A scarlet object glowed beneath.

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The Lich's Laboratory

Mik, dangling from a rope, peered around him, trying to make out shapes in the candlelit chamber below the pit. His years in the Athasian wilderness had inured him to sights that might turn the stomachs of most folk, but there was an unwholesomeness about the space into which he was descending that unnerved him. He smelled the same putrid odour that had pervaded the area above, where they had defeated the zombies and belgoi. Gradually his eyes became more accustomed to the poor light and he made out two of the same crossbow-armed statues that had guarded the tower roof positioned each side of the shaft. There was a long table close by, set with peculiar vials, bottles and instruments. Further back in the shadows he made out chairs fitted with straps and shackles in which sprawled several corpses. In a better-lit area near the middle Mik saw a circle inscribed on the floor. A figure, plainly dead, with melted face and leprous skin stood in the centre, holding an orb. A second figure stood nearby, this one clad in scale armour, bearing a heavy shield and a longsword.

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The Ritual Tower

“Then it’s settled. I shall meet you outside Tyr.” Kivrin rose and left the tavern. “What have we got ourselves into?” asked Maro. “A long trek through the desert with the constant threat of violent death or sunsickness and the vague promise of a reward at the end. Just another ordinary day for people like us,” answered Gwen, breezily.

They travelled day and night, as Kivrin was in a hurry; this time sunsickness took its toll on Gwen and Naivara. Oddly, Sha-karn seemed indifferent to the heat and occasionally spread his arms, as if embracing the crimson sun’s rays. Despite their normal caution the group were ambushed by a band of the undead creatures that frequent the wastes, backed up by a gaj – a giant insect with psychic powers – but fortunately there were no losses.

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Slither

“You want us… to steal… the Blood Crystal… from Slither? We are talking about the same Slither here, aren’t we? ‘Cause the one I mean is a walking fortress of bone owned by an undying defiler mage.” Maro folded his arms and looked across the table. They were in Tyr again, having passed via Altaruk. Soon after their arrival a representative of House Shom had sought a meeting at a local inn and it was this person who sat opposite. Kivrin was an elf of indeterminate age but whose garb identified him as a regular desert traveller. Undeterred by Maro’s comment, he answered calmly, “The very same. You may know that it is part of the Crown of Dust, the ancient artifact once held by Yar-” here he lowered his voice and glanced around the tavern,

“Yarnath. And yes, I want you to steal it. Not just because it would be a great prize, but because I believe Yarnath uses it to control the city and to defile the land further to advance his power. This cannot continue. Now, you’ve sought a fragment of the Crown for us before, without success”, (he glanced at Althaea, but her face was expressionless) “I’m sure you are capable of such a dangerous undertaking. I would of course accompany you, but I have my own objectives within Slither. Once inside, you must seek the Crystal on your own.” “What do you know of the defences?” asked Maro. Kivrin produced a scrap of parchment on which a rough diagram had been sketched. “The top of Slither is made up of a series of towers. We’ll need to find a way up to them and then you’ll have to climb to the top of this one and work your way down to the chamber where the crystal lies. I expect you know the place is garrisoned – humans, elves and tareks – but I’ve heard talk of a tame, or enslaved, tembo somewhere.” There was a collective intake of breath. “We shall need a minute or two to discuss this,” said Althaea. “Of course,” said Kivrin, rising and heading for the door.

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Old Foes and New Sorrow

The party broke camp and headed south towards Altaruk. About half-way there Ku-ki’cha noted the remains of a wrecked sand skiff. Nearby, sharp-eyed Gwen, spotted some little lizard-like humanoids who immediately disappeared into the dunes. “What are those?” “Silt runners”, the thri-kreen replied. “Back to others, quickly!”

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The Devastation of a Dragon

Just a bare-bones writeup this time, haven’t had time to do anything else.

It’s the 29th of the month. Mik, Naivara and Ku-ki’cha lose track of the others. After wandering through the desert they retrace their steps and pick up the trail which leads to a rocky outcropping where Althaea and Maro are resting. As they do so they notice a lone female figure running towards their hiding place. This is Gwen – a human girl, 5’ tall, carrying a raven on her arm. She is being pursued by a small tembo which catches up with her in the rocks. The party engage it and it is killed. Gwen’s character is rather impudent – offers to polish Mik’s head and addresses K as ‘grasshopper’.

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Evading Slither

The hidden door ground open, yielding to the combined shoving of Mikar and Maro. It was Maro who had spotted it first, trailing his fingers idly along the wall and noticing a channel that ran floor to ceiling. The party had rested in the chamber of the wyrm; Graven had pronounced with satisfaction that the defiling magic pervading the placed seemed to have gone once the beast was slain. They were on their way back to the stairs leading back to the caves when the secret door was discovered. Going further, an unlit corridor ended in another door, which opened on to a room floored with sand. A long table, upon which bowls of various sizes had been placed, stood in the middle. At each end of the table was placed a statue of a seated person; curiously, there was a large hole in the top of each statue’s head. Naivara, ever inquisitive, drew nearer to the table and noticed runes carved into the surface. “More riddles!” she declared. “Let’s see… Fill my body with the essence of my power to show you follow my path …what could that mean?” The others stepped warily into the chamber, looking around. “Well, those holes in the statues must be for something – but there’s nothing to put in them but sand,” said Mikar, grasping a handful and letting it run through his fingers. “Perhaps… perhaps that’s it,” said Naivara, picking up a bowl and using it to scoop up some sand off the floor.” As she did so, the sand covering the chamber swirled and resolved itself into five man-sized dust storms. One rushed over to Naivara and dashed the bowl from her hands, scattering its contents. Ku-ki’cha swept a bowl up from the table and filled it hastily, then sprang towards one statue. Before he could empty it into the head, two converged on him and engulfed him in a choking blizzard. The bowl was torn from his claws and he staggered about blindly. Naivara transported herself across the room but misjudged the distance and her bowl broke against one wall. After a mad minute or so dodging the dust devils, Mikar emptied a bowlful into a statue’s head. Instantly, the dust devils sank back into the ground, and two doors ground open, revealing steps leading up.

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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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