After Kalak's Fall, Athas Will Burn

GOD DAMN CACTUSES
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m_0x_DTQG8#t

The search begins
We set off at the break of dawn, heading south west from Alturuk.
The days travel was relatively uneventful, though we did happen upon a wild cactus patch, it’s fruit saving us a days rations.

The following day, we came across a second cactus patch, just as night fell. We decided to camp the night there. In the morning we ate the fruit from this new cactus. most of us started to feel quite strange <see>. We awoke from this altered state to find the cactus it self striking at us, as well as what we could only guess were the reanimated remains of its former victims. Seemingly, the cactus could control whatever ate its fruits, or was struck by its brambles. The group fell in upon itself, finding it difficult to dispatch the cactus as every time we got near we would turn around and strike at each other. We eventually ended the fight, but found ourselves too exhausted to venture forward. As the sun set on this day, we noticed a storm brewing in the distance.

The Storm
We decided to head towards the storm, as it was giving off rather strange arcane and primal energies. Personally I assumed that the tree of life might be using it as a deterrent.

Venturing into the storm we passed through a crevice. There in we found ourselves set upon by nightmarish hellcats. One of the party called them out as Tembou. Their biting and clawing proved most trivial as the storm had weakened them significantly, however their resistance to control made them a handful. It became a difficult predicament for our group when the two gathered together and began leeching away at our life force.

Green Tunnel
Upon dispatching the Tembou, the storm appeared to die down ad focus upon a specific area in the crevice. We quickly found that the area had green vines sprouting from it, hiding a hidden passage of verdant growth. Sand Trek enterprises ventures onward, in search of the tree of life.

View
Cyrus crafts some items
How Sand Trek Enterprises spent money

A few hours around town lent us the supplies we needed to have Cyrus enchant us some nifty new items.
The real challenge was making sure that no one was too suspicious of our endeavors and that we were not discovered during the actual enchanting process.
We decided (at Cyrus’ extreme urging) to venture out into the desert for a day, so that he might craft the items we were in need of.
We asked Cyrus to craft a total of ten items.
2x Helm of Seven Deaths – 2000
1x Robe of Contingency – 840
1x Robe of Scintillation – 520
1x Shockweave armor – 1000
1x Lucky Charm – 840
1x Brooch of No Regrets – 680
1x Circlet of Second Chances – 680
1x Echo of Ty’h’kadi – 2600
1x Phylactery of Action – 680
Totaling – 7360 gold spent to make items along with a full day’s time.

Having upgraded some of our gear we made the trek back to Altaruk. We met up with our faithful caravan driver Packy and headed south west, the direction Birk Suntouched had suggested we would be most likely to find the tree, according to reports he received. The mission, stop anyone else from getting their hands on the tree, at any cost.

View
The Arena
How Sand Trek Enterprises made money

We adventure back to Alturuk after having explored the dragons altar.
Those of us that went down into the pit felt changed by the experience. We suddenly found ourselves giving off the force of death, damaging everything nearby. Experimentation led us to learn to suppress this and even learn to direct it at enemies around us.

Upon arrival in altaruk we learned of an arena tourney. Our gambling templar contact informed us that s new group of dray had been dominating the arena, and seriously messing with her bets. We had done well in previous matches and figured we could take on all comers. Little did we know that we were facing one of our most challenging foes yet.

We first had to win our way into the competition. A few mul easily fell before us.
After the match we felt pretty good.
A friend of Cyrus summoned us to his mansion. Apparently this man was a member of the Veiled Alliance and mayor of the town.
He wanted us to meet a dwarf, again another member of the Veiled Alliance and acquaintance of Cyrus. We told him that we must first finish our battles in the arena as we had bet everything we owned on ourselves to win.
The Mayor was a bit insistent and told us that he had arranged for us to have lunch with the dwarf.

All of us feeling relatively famished, we agreed. Unfortunately, we didn’t think the
of the kind of place we would be meeting a veiled alliance member.

We met Birk Suntouched at a hovel of a tavern, where in we ate some abysmal porridge and learned of the sprouting of a tree of life.

Ambushed
Stepping outside the tavern, we found ourselves set upon by ?Sand-tooth Dagger? assassins. They were apparently friends of the former Karlan. We managed to survive the encounter, as did one of their men, but we were very worse for wear.

Thinking we were being set up by the arena organizes for failure we attempted to back out of the tournament. Instead we found ourselves thrust into the arena.

Arena
We went into the arena battered and bloodied, even playing up our wounds for the crowd. The opponents were tough, but we some how managed to rough it out. We walked away with a hefty purse of 64,000 gold.

View
Fair Weather Winds

Chad’s Newsletter:

Attacked

-three days into our journey , we were attacked by some rough customers. they turned out to be slavers.
-we were nearly taken thanks to a desert vampire who wouldn’t stay down. i’d never seen one before, but it was ugly. and it dressed like a homless person.
-we took an early rest afterwards. we found a cactus field nearby and manage to put together enough food and water for five more days. how fortunate!

Alturuc

-found the rest of the way without incident. the lord of the city was most pleased with my company’s prior work and put us up free of charge.
-there was an arcane user looking for a dragon staff. we had to track down a templar at the Bloodied Knife and talk her into giving us directions. She had a terrible gambling problem, but she gave up the information without much resistance.
-Arachnor and MS-4 insisted on getting rough inside the arena. STE entered. we dispatched our challengers, but it was a free-for-all, so the rest of us had to feign defeat so that Cyrus might claim victory for the team. the crowd was not pleased. but they’re a bunch of barbarians, so who cares what they think?

Mountains

-once we had an abouts, we set off towards the mountains and began searching for the alter. we used our whits (well, Cyrus and i used our whits; the others simply drooled) and found it within a few days. we made camp and planned our next move; something radiating that much magic has got to be trouble.

View
The Bag with 200 lbs. of Love

The sun was just going down as Sand Trek Enterprise stowed their gear on their new sand skiff and made camp for the night. MS-4 clean the blood from his flails while Odo lit a fire with wood provided by Cyrus. Mn’Kar and Arachnor argued over what the tastiest animal in all of Athus really was. Arachnor insisted it was the mul. Mn’Kar argued with caution at this prospect. Packy tended to a small tear in the sand skiff’s sail. Chad sat by the fire, staring into the flame. For the first time since anyone had known him, Chad was not trying to clean his cloths in vein. Cryus came around with the days rations once the fire was a blaze, and the party ate in relative silence.

“Is everything okay,” Cryus asked. He poked Chad in the arm after he didn’t respond.

“Hm?”

“Are you alright, Chad? You’ve been quiet today. You haven’t even complained about the food.”

“Just thinking,” Chad said as he nibbled at the jerked meat.

“Do you want me to enchant that for you?”

“It’s fine,” Chad sighed. Cyrus cast a nervous glance to Odo. Was Chad still sick? Cryus contemplated further inquiry. Before he could ask any more questions, MS-4 and Arachnor stood up without warning and stared off into the distance. Their gazes followed the path from whence they came.

“Someone comes,” MS-4 grunted. He picked up a log and hurled it down the road with all his might. There was a THUD! of wood hitting flesh and a yelp to accompany it. Arachnor flourished his wings and leaped to the impact sight as quick as he could. MS-4 sprinted to the edge of the camp and waited as Arachonr dragged a semiconscious halfling back to camp. He was bleeding from the head were the log had struck him. Arachnor threw the body to the ground as Odo, Cyrus, and MS-4 surrounded the tiny figure. “A scout,” MS-4 grunted.

“I don’t think so,” Cyrus said. “Scouts don’t normally run at the people they are tracking. That’s bad scouting.”

“Maybe he’s a budget scout,” Odo suggested. He raised his lute above his head. “We should probably kill him just to be safe.” Cyrus stayed the teifling’s hand.

“Come now, he’s just a boy,” Cyrus maintained. “He’s no more a threat to us than Mn’kar is to me at chess.” Odo abide Cyrus’ will and sulked off. Cyrus bent over the body and shook the half-ling. “Are you alright, boy? You should know not to run up on people like that.” The halfling groaned, but he was not ready for a conversation. It was here Cyrus derived the halfling’s intent, which also explained why he seemed to be in such a hurry. “Oh for the love of. . . Four! You dunce! He’s a courier!” Cyrus turned to the goliath waving a neatly addressed package in his face. “This is why we ask first and smash later!” MS-4 shrugged and returned to his spot around the camp fire.

“Better safe than sorry,” MS-4 mumbled. Arachnor lifted the halfling off the ground and dangled him by the leg. He wretch him about, studying the halfling’s condition.

“He’s not going to make it,” said the thri’keen. “We better put him out of his misery. And we can’t let the body go to waste.”

“Put him down, Arachnor,” Cyrus ordered. Arachnor glared at the sorcerer, but he released the halfling. The boy rag-dolled to the ground, hitting the sand with a crack. Cyrus shook his head. “Ruffians. . . Chad. I believe this package is for you.” Chad perked up at the sound of his name.

“How’s that now,” he asked. Cyrus reread the address.

“You’re full name is Chadrosky Animosus Fortunatus XIV, right?” Chad nodded. Cyrus tossed him the package, which Chad almost failed to catch.

“For you.” Cryus began tending to the halfling. Chad unbound the paper protecting the cloth contents and read a noted that dropped from inside. Cyrus brought the halfling to consciousness and began administering some first aide and a helping of water. Chad scoffed at the note and examined the contents.

“What is it,” Mn’Kar asked. Chad tossed it aside.

“Just a canvas bag. I already have a nicer one. My father has no aesthetic sense. Clearly he still hates me.” Chad leaned back in the sand, cradling his staff and staring into the fire. “This is just a joke to him. He has no idea what we’ve been through. None.”

“I’m sure he means well,” Mn’Kar said.

“Father has all this money, and the best he can manage is a plain old canvas bag slightly larger than my current one. How about some armed guards? Or a decent weapon? No, this is classic disappointed Thirteenth talking.”

“Hmm. . .” Odo mused. He picked up the bag and examined it closer. He could feel the pulse of magic about. “Cyrus.” Cyrus looked up from the halfling. Odo tossed him the bag, and Cyrus repeated the examination. His eyes widened.

“Heavens,” Cyrus muttered. “This is no ordinary bag.”

“Looks pretty ordinary to me,” Chad grumbled.

“No, you fool. This bag has been enchanted. It can hold far more than meets the eye,” Cyrus explained.

“Like a bunch of equally plain and disappointing canvas bags,” Chad asked. Odo sighed. He stepped over to Cyrus and took the bag. The halfling was coming around.

“Ugh. . .what happened,” he groaned. Odo lifted the boy up by the collar and snapped the bag open with a whip of his arm. “Wait, what are you doing?” Odo stuffed the halfling into the bag and then dangled the bag about like a cut-rate magician. Muffled cries could be heard coming from the bag.

“That’s different,” Chad awed. Odo tossed the bag about. He handled it as though the bag did not contain an unwilling participant. He then lofted the bag back at the shaman who rolled out of the way, letting the bag drop to the sand, fearing he might sustain an unwanted hit to his torso.

“Ow,” the bag yelped. Chad lifted the bag with his walking stick. It was just as light as when he had first opened the package, but it clearly contained a halfling.

“It can carry many times it’s own weight and size without ever feeling burdensome,” Cyrus explained. “It’s no ordinary bag.”

“Not cheap, either,” Odo added. “We could have purchased two more sand skiffs and drivers for the price of this.”

“And still had money left over,” Cyrus said. Chad’s eyes became hazy as he studied the talking bag, which was beginning to make demands. He ran his fingers across the fine weave. “Also, you might want to let that little guy out. It’s enchanted, but I’m pretty sure it’s not enchanted with air.”

“Hm? Oh, yes,” Chad said, snapping back to reality. He turned the bag over and dumped the halfling out. He landed on his back, staring up into the darkening sky.

“Where did I go just now?”

“Maybe someone else can carry all the equipment for once,” MS-4 grunted.

“I wish I had a rich daddy,” Arachnor scoffed. Odo and Cyrus waited for Chad to say something. But he had drifted off into Chad-land again. He let out a sigh.

“Can you take a message to the Thirteenth for me,” Chad asked, taking a small purse coin and placing it into the unsuspecting hand of the halfling. The halfling rubbed his head.

“Just stop doing things to me please,” he said, groggy.

“Tell him,” Chad searched for the right words. “Tell him I’ll make him proud.”

“You should send him some flowers and an engagement ring while you’re at it,” Arachnor mumbled. Cyrus shot him a look.

“Can you do that for me,” Chad asked again.

“Fine,” the halfling said, regaining his balance. “Which way was I coming from again?” The party pointed back down the road. “Thanks.” He stumbled out of the camp, and his walked became a jog as he hurried away from the adventurers.

“He’s probably going to die,” Odo said.

“Yes, he probably will,” Cyrus agreed.

“That was a waste of money,” Odo sighed.

The group took repose for the evening. Chad cradled the bag in his chest all night long.

View
The Gang Get's a Sweet Ride

There were whispers of a defiler in the city. A local shop keeper by the name of Karlen had recently been ousted as a mage of some sort, and the townsfolk were demanding his head. No one person could agree as the circumstances of his big reveal; one story insisted that someone had put a contract on his head and the assassin had decided to make it easy on himself by accusing the shopkeeper of being a defiler. Another story claimed that Karlen had simply succumbed to sun stroke and had uttered madness in his delusional state. It caused panic none the less. There was also talk of third-party involvement; someone, somehow, had forced Karlen to claim defilement in the middle of the crowded street, guaranteeing his death to a certain degree.

None of these reports could be confirmed. They were rumors at best, and while rumors could be an interesting way to pass the time, they netted no coin. So Packy did not concern himself with such matters. He indulged the talkative mul sitting besides him at the tavern, but Packy lent only one ear. He kept his other ear to the ground for information that he could sell down the road. The mul yammered on.

Walneiros could be a pain. The mul did nothing but drink his ales and talk. Gods forbid there be a moment of silence amongst friends, though Packy had always considered “friend” to be a strong word when referring to the mul. Walnerios was useful. And Packy liked to keep useful people around. The uses were limited to the untrained eye, but Walneiros was a good distraction. He kept the eyes of passerbys on the mul and off of the laconic genasi striding alongside him. Walneiros could chat up the strangest of strangers and maintain a conversation whether they wanted to or not. And while Walneiros talked, Packy could slip away, find or trade information, and slip back into the scene without so much as a raised eyebrow. It kept Packy’s pockets discreet but full, and it staved off the loneliness for Walneiros another day. Everybody wins.

Even so, Packy wished the stout mul would shut his mouth every now and again.

“I’m telling ya,” Walneiros said. “This whole place is going to hell. straight to flippin’ hell I tells ya.” A hiccup interrupted his train of thought. “Mage king dead. Defilers walking free through the streets. My empty stein. This place is going to hell.”

“Sure thing, Walneiros,” Packy sighed. He was supposed to meet one of his contacts at the tavern this afternoon before his shift at the skiff yards, but the defiler nonsense had apparently scared the contact into hiding, as it had many people in the city who were not directly connected to the angry mob that had been accumulating for the past hour. Packy heard in passing that a group was forming near the market’s center and demanding some sort of justice. Interesting, perhaps, but worth any money. He was hoping his contact could give him information on a weapons shipment that was passing by within the week. That was worth something.

Packy was a higher-end low life. He was the last buffer between the street rats and the middle men of the underground; charismatic enough to speak clearly, but ugly enough for the higher-paying customers to ignore him all together. His genasi markings and general fear of the arcane had cursed him to life of a information scavenger, but there were none who could claim to be his better; not in Tyr, at least. He had made damn sure of that. Packy was the shadowy ambassador for the street rats, and anything they knew, he knew. And if the middle level criminals wanted to know something, they contacted Packy. And only Packy. He had spent years gaining a monopoly on information trading through shiv and intimidation, and over time he had bottle necked the information outlet until he was the only bridge. To maintain such a reputation without anyone important knowing him was no easy or inexpensive feat. The Shadow Herald is what they called him. It was both parts ominous and tacky, and he had chuckled the first time he heard what people had called him. It was fitting.

Of course, Walneiros knew nothing of Packy’s real job. To the mul, Packy was just another free-lance skiff driver and a great listener. Walneiros had even mentioned the Shadow Herald more than twice to Packy and speculated as to what the herald actually was. Packy had shrugged at the prospect and mumbled, “Gossip, I’m sure.”

Packy leaned beyond his barstool to check the sundial just outside the tavern window. “We have to go,” he said to his companion.

“Yes. One for the road, then,” Walneiros said as he raised his hand to get the barmaid’s attention.

“No,” Packy said. He clasped a hand around the mul’s wrist and forced it down. “You have had enough.”

“Aw, come on, Packy,” the mul whined. “Just a little one.”

“We must go,” Packy repeated. He inched his friend away from the bar. Walneiros resisted at first, but when his fingers could no longer grip the side of the bar, he surrendered to the genasi’s will and shuffled out of the tavern.

Packy watched his friend stumble along the road. He was singing again. It was just after mid day and he was already singing. Packy felt bad for the guy. While Packy was not one for family or alliances, he figured anyone who had gone through what Walneiros had gone through all those years ago deserved a few drinks every now and again. Packy had heard the story two or three times over the years when Walneiros decided that it was time to get into the harder drinks. He wondered if Walneiros could remember any of the times he had broken down crying in front of Packy over the loss of his wife and child. Had the mul done this intentionally, perhaps to foster a closer connection between the two? Or was he simply a raging alcoholic who couldn’t help but get black-out drunk every now and again? Packy figured both.

He steered Walneiros away from a grocery stand.

“Whoop. Thanks, there, Packy. Damn near bit me, it did,” the mul hiccupped. “As I was saying. . . Erm. . . what was I saying?”

“Taxes,” Packy mumbled.

“Yes! Taxes! Can you believe what that blithering coward of a king is doing for taxes these days? It’s criminal, I tells ye!”

“It’s criminal,” Packy repeated.

“Tax this cactus. Tax that dress. Tax the family jewels. How has nobody slit his throat yet? I heard the nobles can’t even agree on that guy. Pfft. Nobles.” Walneiros spat on the ground. “Houty-touty dandies, is what.”

“Dandies,” Packy said.

“Dandies is right. We should just go to the nobles and be like, ‘hey! we deserve more money!’ And then we beat the crap out of every last one.”

“Every last one.”

“Every last one is right. There’s a good in doing that, you know? Robbing from the rich to give to the poor.” Walneiros elbowed his genasi companion. “Poor us, eh, Packy?”

“Poor us,” Pack echoed.

“Poor us, Packy. Poor us. It’s not our fault we were born a couple of working stiffs. Why should they get special treatment just because they copulated? Inbred is what they are, I tells ya. Inbred. I heard from a good source they’re all cousins. Some of them are pretty dim-witted, too. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and that tree is getting smaller every year.”

“Every year.”

“Every year.” Walneiros went silent. Packy counted the seconds as they ticked by. He was hoping today would be the day the mul would break his record of eleven consecutive seconds of peace and quiet. “Say, Packy,” Walneiros began. Eight seconds. A genasi could dream at least. “What does Quierris want with us today anyway? I thought she had all her shifts covered.”

“Many refused to show up today,” Packy said. “She sent me a messenger this morning. Something about the fear of sickness. She is short drivers. Offered us work. We need work. I agreed to get you here.”

“Well I hope she’s paying us extra on my day off,” Walneiros grumbled. Packy didn’t much care for the driving of skiffs, but they were often times excellent sources of information. No one ever suspected the quiet genasi minding his own business as he piloted a skiff across the desert. Packy even used his pull to influence the travel decisions of some of the nobles who wanted to remain clandestine in their dealings. He put in a few good words with the right people, and within a week he could have a skiff full of merchants discussing insider trading as they traveled from Tyr to Silver Spring.

As far as Walneiros was concerned, piloting a skiff was the only job he had not lost in the past five years. Once he got out of the city, it was hard for his drunken state to run a skiff into anything.

The two companions approached the skiff yard and kept an eye out for Quierris. Packy stopped on the edge of the yard and scanned the lot. A shadow fell upon them. The two turned around to see what was blocking out the sun. Packy shaded one eye with his hand and looked to the building behind them. Perched upon the roof was the unmistakable figure of a thri-kreen. Packy couldn’t make out any details while looking directly into the sky, but he could tell the insect was watching them, perhaps even studying them. But for what purpose? Before Packy could think of an answer, the insect spread his wings and leapt out ahead of them, disappearing into the lot behind a skiff. Wings on a thri-kreen were rare. Packy begin to search his memory for a thri-kreen with wings, but could think of none in the city. Might be worth investigating, he thought.

“That was weird,” Walneiros said. “Thri-kreen give me the creeps, I tells ya. All them limbs and gross-looking mouths. It’s like they got a bunch of fingers on their lips. Gives me the shivers. And I heard the women eat the men after they have the sex.” Packy searched the lot for the thri-kreen, expecting him to leap out again. But he appeared to be gone.

“That’s a myth,” Packy said.

“Eh? How you figure? I’ll have you know I heard that from a reliable source.” Packy looked his friend in the eye.

“It’s a myth,” he repeated.

“What makes your source so much better than mine?” Packy turned away and started towards the inner lot. Walneiros shrugged. “I just don’t get him sometimes.”

The two made their way through the lot, weaving in and out of the various rigs in search of their employer. Walneiros, of course, was talking. While passing under one of the taller skiffs, Packy turned to Walneiros to ask him to repeat something. A man dropped down in front of Packy, startling him and causing him to jump back with his hand on his dagger.

“Oh, hello, there,” said the man. He was dangling upside down and his face was beginning to red. He was a well-dressed, middle-aged human who had been climbing along the skiff. Packy recognized him as a noble, and a soft one at that. He moved his hand away from his dagger. “I don’t suppose you work here? Fine skiff. I was examining it for purchasing purposes. It seems a bit more expensive, but certainly worth the coin. I think I will try to talk my company into this one.” The skiff was clearly broken. Packy figured the man dim-witted in addition to being soft. “I slipped, as it were, and I got tangled in my climbing gear whilst examining the deck. But at least I didn’t hit the ground.” He was also a terrible liar. The “climbing gear” he refereed to was the riggings on the skiff itself. “I don’t suppose you gentlemen could get me loose, could you? My vision is beginning to blur.” They didn’t have much time to think it over. A goliath eased his way past them and lifted the human free of his entanglement.

“This is mine,” the goliath mumbled.

“Thank you, Number Four,” the human said. “Put me down, please.” The goliath ignored the human’s orders and instead shouldered the man, starting in the opposite direction. “I said put me down! Hey! Hey! My hat! You forgot my hat! Turn around, I say!” The goliath continued to ignore him as he walked between the skiffs. They could still hear the human making demands, though they could no longer see him.

“What an odd couple,” Walneiros said. “Hey, look here. Now this is a fine hat.” Walneiros retrieved a hat lying in the sand and dusted it off. He donned the article of clothing. “What do you think? Am I a noble now?” The mul looked ridiculous in such an affluent hat. Packy removed the hat and examined it. It was worth more than what Walneiros made in a month piloting skiffs.

“We should find Queirris,” Packy said.

They found the dragonborn in the middle of negotiations with a teifling and a hooded individual. Packy knew better than to bother her during her business. She may have talked sweet and acted friendly, but she was a psychopath. Of that there was no doubt. Many a driver had disappeared from her employment for one reason or another. Packy knew what had happened to them, of course, but the mul had no idea. And he figured Walneiros was better off not knowing.

When they walked within a few yards, the hooded one shot a look in their direction. It startled Packy a bit, half because he wasn’t expecting such an alert response, and half because the human’s face was melted on one side. Packy felt a bit of his lunch come back. When the human determined that the approaching genasi and mul were of no immediate threat, he went back to the negotiations between the teifling and Quairris. Quairris had a smile on her scaly face, but Packy could tell she was perturbed. From a casual observation, the teifling had her on the run. He was as glib as he was confident, and he had no fear of the 6’7” dray staring him down. He was amused by Quairris troubles, but he was intrigued by the human. There was talk a scarred human wandering the lands and casting magic about. It was unlikely, but this could be that human.

“You guys aren’t allowed in either, huh?” Packy looked away from the deal. A thri-kreen had approached them and taken a nonchalant lean against one of the skiffs.

“How do you mean, lad,” Walneiros asked.

“My friends won’t let me near the talking anymore,” the insect clicked. “They say I screw things up.”

“Yer awfully open about that,” Walneiros said. His voice was a tad shaky.

“Yeah, well. So what do you guys do?” The thri-kreen waited for a response. Walneiros averted his gave as he swayed back and forth trying his hardest to look like he had not heard the question. After twelve uncomfortable seconds of silence, Packy responded to the question. “Drivers,” he mumbled.

“That’s neat. My friends are buying a skiff right now. Maybe you could be our pilot?” The thri-kreen smiled at the mul, and it looked as though he were taking a liking to him. Packy studied the bug man, but noticed no wings. Which meant that this was a second thri-kreen they had encountered in the lot.

Walneiros swallowed hard trying not to look terrified.

“I, erm, well I don’t know,” he mumbled. “That depends on a lot. It depends on things. There are things it depends on, you see-“

“Quairris employs around thirty pilots on a freelance basis,” Packy interrupted. “It’s hard to say what she will do and when she will do it, to be honest. The woman is mad. Savvy, for sure. But mad.” The thri-kreen blinked at Packy as he processed the information. Walneiros inched away from his personal space when he thought the bug wasn’t looking.

“Oh, okay,” he replied. “Do you guys have any good stories from piloting the skiffs? Like cool adventures or buried treasure?”

“Ya know, I’m not that great at telling stories,” Walneiros claimed. Packy snorted. If only. “And driving skiffs is a really boring job. A lot of waiting. And a lot of. . . more waiting. You wouldn’t be interested.” The mul continued to inch away from the insect as he spoke. “I have to go now and do some skiff things. You wouldn’t be interested.” The mul dashed off in another direction. “Nice meeting you,” he called back.

“What was that about,” the thri-kreen asked.

“Things, I guess,” Packy shrugged. Walneiros’ phobia of the insects was amusing.

“Paxton,” a voice called. Quairris approached him. “Where is Walneiros? I just saw him ten seconds ago.”

“Things,” Packy said.

“Well I’ve got a job for him. These adventurers need a pilot.”

“Adventurers?” Packy thought it over for a moment. He doubted Walneiros could handle such a trip. “For how long?”

“Until they die or can’t pay anymore,” she growled. “Where is he?” Packy nodded in the direction of the mul, and Quairris stomped off.

“Oh, neat. Looks like he will be our pilot,” the thri-kreen said. Something caught his attention. “Oh, hey. Where’d you get that hat?” He pointed to the hat Packy had hanging from his belt.

“Found it,” he replied without skipping a beat.

“Chad has one just like it. You guys must shop at the same place. He said it was expensive.”

“Chad? Chad who?”

“Chad,” the thri-kreen shrugged. “I only know him as Chad.”

“Is it Chadrosky the thirteenth? The merchant? You know him?”

“Uh. . .maybe? He’s not a merchant as far as I know. He’s a shaman.”

“He’s a. . . he’s a shaman?” Packy’s head begin to swirl. On the one hand, shamans were goody-goody spirits guides. They weren’t any good for coin. On the other hand, if he followed a merchant of the Fortunatus house, that could lucrative in more ways than one. He tried to remember if he had heard anything about the Thirteenth being spiritually connected. “What kind of adventures do you go on anyway?”

“Mn’Kar.” The thri-kreen turned to the voice. The teifling and the disfigured human stood a few feet away. It was the teifling who had spoken. He glared at the genasi. Mn’Kar looked back and forth between the two parties before slinking over to the human. But Packy was now more interested in the teifling. He recognized the teifling as Odo, the infamous bard. He could be as ruthless as he was cunning. No wonder Quairris had been troubled trying to negotiate with him. Packy made a note to watch his tongue.

“Excuse me, but would you fine gentlemen happen to be traveling with Chadrosky the Thirteenth?” Packy was beginning to imagine piles and piles of gold.

“Why do you ask,” said the teifling.

“I just heard he was an interesting guy. I have this business in mind, and I was wondering if I might talk to him about making a few investments with me.” Packy was starting to get nervous. He couldn’t tell if they bought his story or not.

“Can’t help you, friend,” Odo replied. The three adventurers turned away. Packy tried to think quick without giving away his intentions, but he knew he had to watch his step around the bard. He could think of nothing just short of lying, but he was sure that would get him killed. Still, he had to figure out a way to be their pilot. There was too much money at stake.

“Oh, my hat,” someone said. The human from the entangled skiff walked out from the lot and up to Packy. “I thought I had lost it. I’ll have it back now, if you don’t mind.” He held out his hand. The other adventurers eyed the genasi carefully.

“Of course,” Packy smiled, handing him the hat. “I was looking for you.” The human replace the hat upon his head.

“Thank you, lad. I was dying in this sunlight.”

“You must be the Chad the thri-kreen spoke of. Are you Chadrosky the Thirteenth?” The human frowned.

“You mean my father. I’m the fourteenth.” Oh, thought Packy. The fourteenth was notoriously lazy. Still might be worth the effort.

“My mistake,” Packy apologized. He caught figures in the corner of his eye. Quairris was marching Walneiros pack towards Odo and his little gang.

“This is Walneiros,” the Dray said. “He’ll be happy to drive you to where ever your heart desires.” The mul smiled but avoided making eye contact with Mn’Kar.

“At your service,” he mumbled. Without so much as a warning, a thri-kreen dropped from the sky in front of Waleiros. Walnerois cried out and fell onto his backside, his body shaking. The thri-kreen shuffled closer to Walneiros and came face to face with the terrified mul.

“Gods, Arachnor,” said the hooded human. “You nearly gave everyone a heart attack.”

“This one smells like fear,” Arachnor clicked. “He’s no good to us.”

“Don’t be rude,” the human said. “I’m sure he’ll do just fine.” The mul tried to control his terror.

“Get up, Walneiros,” the dray ordered. “Or I’ll see to it you never work in this city again.”

“Yes, flesh sack,” Arachnor teased. “On your feet.” His sadistic pleasure was palpable. “I’ve changed my mind. I want this one.” He chuckled as the mul got to his feat. “Boo,” Arachnor yelped. Walneiros jumped back again. The thri-kreen chuckled.

“He will die too easy,” a deep voice chimed in. The goliath from before made his way into the scene and took a spot behind Chad, crossing his arms and eying the dray with discontent. It was as if he were trying to crush here with his stare alone.

“That’s what I’m counting on,” Arachnor said, salivating his mantis-mouth with his mantis-mouth parts.

“He’s really not this bad,” Chadrosky interjected. “He’s just trying to scare you.” Walneiros looked as though he were on the verge of tears.

“He’ll be fine,” Quairris insisted.

Packy knew what she was doing. Rag-tag team of adventurers? An indetermined amount of time? A desert packed with peril? Waleiros’ unmistakable phobia of mantis-men? Quairris was trying to get him killed.

To the exact reason, Packy could not say. Maybe it was his constant drinking and driving. It was probably his constant drinking and driving. He had wrecked one of her skiffs just the other week. Quairris would not simply fire him, though. She wanted revenge. She wanted to make sure he would never wreck anything ever again. If Waleiros took this job, he was going to die; and that’s the way she wanted it.

At first it didn’t add up; she would lose money because Walneiros would not be able to turn in the payment. Packy smiled as he caught his mistake. She just wanted Walneiros gone and she wanted to remain blameless in the matter. And no one would blame her if he died in the wastes for any reason. The skiff was already paid for, though at a discount thanks to the teifling. She didn’t care about the fair; it was small price to pay to be rid of her burden.

Packy, on the other hand, would be fine.

“I’ll take this one,” Packy said. Eyes fell on him, including the stone-cold gaze of his employer. Be cool, he thought.

“I’ve already given the job to Walneiros,” Quairris insisted.

“He’s clearly sick,” Packy said. “Look at him. He’s got the shivers, he can’t stand up right, won’t make eye contact. He’s got something. Maybe he’s got that mystery sickness everyone has been talking about.”

“No one has that,” Mn’Kar said. “We quar-“ A swift strike from the shaman’s walking stick silenced the thri-kreen in haste. Mn’Kar held his head to stave off the pain.

“Haven’t heard of any sickness,” Chad said with a nervous laugh. “You say he’s sick? Well we wouldn’t want that.” So they do know something about that, Packy thought. This is turning into an interesting day.

“Seems fine to me,” the disfigured human said as he examined the mul.

“He’s very sick,” Packy maintained. “He needs rest. I’ll go in his place.” Packy glanced over to the dray. Her fists clenched, her claws drawing blood from her scaly palms. Had there not been customers present, Packy had no doubt she would tear his spine out. She could do it, too. He had seen it done. He pretended not to notice her. “You’re sick, aren’t you, Walneiros,” Packy said, sneaking a kick to his shin when he hoped no one would see.

“Um,” Walneiros stuttered. “I am sick. I am very sick. I’ve got this shivers, you see. Not great for driving.”

“So he’s sick. I will drive you.” Packy turned to Quairris.

“If the mul doesn’t want to go, we won’t make him,” said the melted-faced human. “And you know these parts?”

“Better than anyone,” Packy said. “Plus, I could use the money.”

“We’re wasting time,” Odo interjected. “Whoever is driving us, load up our things and let’s get to it.” Odo hurried out of the conversation. Packy didn’t wait for Quairris’ permission. He followed Odo to the skiff.

With the gear stored and the sails prepped, Packy did one final check of the wind. Walneiros had helped with the preparation of the skiff, so it had taken them half the time. The mul watched as Packy did some orienteering and studied the wind cone shaking and snapping in a north-eastern direction.

“Packy,” Walneiros said. He paused, searching his mind for the right words. “Thanks.” Packy allowed himself a smile. Odo the Bard? Chadrosky the XIV, son of one of the wealthiest noble merchants in the city? Adventurers in search of unimaginable treasure? No, Walneiros. Thank you.

“Anything for a friend,” he replied.

“You be safe out there.” The wind started to pick up, blowing dust all across the lot. Packy smiled again and he pulled a cord and set the sail. The skiff caught the wind and jerked off, surprising the company and taking the adventurers east of the city. Packy turned back to Walneiros and called out to him just before he was out of ear shot.

“How bad could it be?”

View
22 Decemeber, 2013
A deserted city in wich a dumb bug monsters scares away potential mounts and food.

Chad’s log (where is that laconic bard when you need him?):

Chad and his band of merry bugs find themselves in the deserted city of Kled in a tavern riddled with corpses. There isn’t a single clothing shop in sight, let alone any decent service to be had.

Tavern

  • read the Ardent’s note. Well, I read his note. Because the bug men and that Goliath are only good for blocking swords with their faces.
  • we poked said Ardent – he was mushy and gross.
  • couldn’t find any supplies. I still say Mn’Kar didn’t look hard enough.

House 1

  • more rotting corpses – how dreadful!
  • we found more nothing. I’m sensing a theme.
  • it was a one room house; I don’t know what I was expecting from such a poor people anyway.

Town Square at the second well

  • a boulder had been moved to cover this well.
  • we saw the six fingered sign painted across it. These poor, uneducated people and their superstitions!
  • other than that, it was barren. No bodies, no supplies – nothing.
  • Arachnor poured a a bucket of the well water on the ground (from the eastern well, not the west well we were at.) Nothing happened. I guess that’s why you never see bugs as scientists, mechanics, wizards , sourceres. . . anything useful beyond fighting, really.

House 2

  • came to a second house and peeked inside.
  • this house had multiple rooms and seemed a lot nicer than the previous house.
  • we only found more mushy bodies and Mn’Kar found five gold coins which he refused to share.

Caravan road

  • we found ourselves on the main road. A few blocks in, we found some handsome-looking mounts that we figured we could ride and possibly eat later. Archor scared them away with a terrible shot from his bow. Can’t trust a bug man.
  • came across an empty stable. Couldn’t find the mounts again. Some ranger we have.
  • came across an overturned cart next to an inn. The inn had been converted into a make-shift infirmary. We found 10 cure light wounds potions, 6 days, and Mn’kar found 1 gold. Again, he refused to share.

Burning mul pile

  • it had the loveliest stench. I lost my lunch.

Front of the Mine

  • Arachnor tossed me onto the obsidian scale. Apparently I weight 8 kubits. I’m going to have to watch how much I eat from now on; i feel as though I’m getting fatter from all this dried bread and jerked meat. Got to watch my girlish figure, after all.
  • found a map of the town which revealed nothing.
  • found some funeral pyres. I’m starting to feel bad for these people.

Inside Entrance

  • more piles of more bodies. I threw up what I could spare.
  • managed to shimmy past the piles; it was very tight, let me tell you. I had to keep reminding my less-read companions that coming into to contact with the bodies might pass this sickness onto them. They didn’t seem to care. In a completely unrelated matter, I’ve developed a cough.
  • no light inside the mine. Suspect it’s empty. the monsters want to take a look anyway.

Inside Mine

  • we found a light and looked around. It was a big, empty mine. How about that?
  • we found a store room with 4 days, so it wasn’t a total waste.
  • my companions found a path that had been caved in. It allegedly leads to a great, underground the city of Kemolak built by those quaint mul people. They insisted on digging around for a bit to see if they could get through. I napped while they accomplished nothing.

Light to the Eastern Well

  • we noticed a light coming from the east as we crept past the body piles again.
  • upon investigation, we found it was coming from House Shone’s compound. They are the gentlemen who hired STE for this little adventure. We investigate, and who do we find? Five of the lovely chaps we saved from those ugly rangers not a few days prior!
  • they invited us in and shared their supplies with us (3 days). Two of them seemed an awful tired. I examined them to the best of my abilities (my father would die from laughter if he knew I was the only one around with any sort of medical knowledge). They were more sick than they let on. I feared for their safety. I began to fear for our safety. Arachnor is showing the early signs of whatever this is. I’m not feeling too hot myself. Which is weird on Athus.

The Shone Warehouse

  • we helped ourselves to the warehouse goods. Mostly bulk for trading purposes. Nothing terribly useful for the likes of STE.
  • Arachnor made a silk statue of me. I do not know what compels him to do this. Perhaps some sort of brain damage in his tiny bug head.
  • we stayed up late swapping manly stories with the adventurers. I had a terrible dream. Gloom and doom. When we awoke the next morning, the two fellows I attended to before had perished. I mentioned the dream and Arachnor said he had the very same dream. And I feel a little worse. The other three are progressing in sickness as well. I’m feeling a bit panicked.

STE Leaves For Tyre: First Day

  • we leave the other party in Kled with 13 days between the four of us (Me, Arachnor, Mn’kar, and MS4) and make tracks for Tyre where my family lives. We are hoping to get proper medical attention and a cure before I can no longer fit into my cloths due to being a pile of mush. I wrapped my face and Arachnor’s face in some silk we pulled from the store house so that we hopefully don’t spread it to our companions. He still does not grasp the concept of disease.
  • we were attacked by a Gaaj. I finally found a use for my Noble Presence ability. it was semi useful. We dispatched of the Gaaj without so much as breaking a sweat. While it was a relief that only one attacked us, I couldn’t shake the feeling that some one, somewhere was disappointed beyond all reason. Must be my connection with the spirit world.
  • took a rest. Arachnor and I had our dream again. But he awoke feeling better. I felt the same, but at least I don’t feel worse.

Second Day

  • uneventful travel.
  • we found the road and set up camp a short ways beyond it. We were ambushed by some disgusting reptile men. They nearly killed MS4, but I managed to keep him steady while Arachnor and Mn’kar took them out one-by-one. We barely survived. Thank the spirits. The last one tried to escape. He did not make it far.
  • we took another rest. We will have 5 days left come morning, but we still need another few days of supplies. I pray to the spirits for guidance. Because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do.
View
Fleeing the Face
Frantic chase across the wastes to escape the Lich
View
Into the face
What did the Cult leave behind?
  • Entered the Face in the Stone
  • Appears to be ancient Cult of Ul-Athra shrine
  • Engaged waves of undead, bone traps and defiling magic
  • Defeated a pack of Silk Wyrm Adults
  • Secured part of the Crown of Dust
View
Story so far...
Betrayal, murder, Lost Vaults and Dust Devils

After fighting off an Id Fiend in the Tyr marketplace, an Elven caravan offered the heroes a quick escape from the city, evading Templar seeking to punish those that killed their prize. Upon arrival in Altaruk, they are promptly betrayed by the elves, who planned to sell the into slavery. Besting Kaldras, the party convinces Tellemon that they are innocent, resulting in Kaldras’ banishment from Altaruk.

House Wavir enlisted the party to find a lost caravan outside Altaruk. Successfully returning the wayward caravan, Rhotan Vor promises the party a lucrative assignment in a few days.

Seeking to redeem her clan’s honor, Shava, challenges the party to a galdatorial game. They again best the Moonrunners.

Witnessing their prowess in the Arena, Tellemon invites the party to return to the Arena the following day. While beating down a pack of Gith and a pair of spiders, Tellemon is murdered in the stands. Lord Arisphistaneles commissions the party to investigate the murder. The investigation leads the party to Birk Suntouched, who reveals his membership in the Veiled Alliance and that Tellemon’s murder was to protect Lord Arisphistaneles from a True plot. Birk takes the party to Lord Arisphistaneles, who provides them with a writ for free room and board in Altaruk – and a grateful Veiled Alliance leader.

Once Tellemon’s murder is resolved, Rhotan Vor tasks the party to assist him in searching for the Vault of Darom Madar. They first escort Rhotan’s caravan to Silver Spring Oasis, dispatching the Crimson Vipers and a group of assassins along the way. Once in Silver Spring, the party negotiates with Toramund for additional details about Gothay Canyon, fabled hiding place of the Vault. Utilizing Toramund’s direction, the party and Rhotan Vor’s caravan located the canyon and the Vault. They successfully grant Darom Madar and his family their final rest after centuries of undeath protecting their final resting place.

While traveling from the Vault to Tyr, the party and the caravan are beset by Tyron Tsalaxa. The young Tsalaxa is quickly dispatched by our heroes.

Upon their return to Tyr, the party has gained a bit of fame by finding the lost Vault and take the moniker “Sand Trek Enterprises.”. After spending their hard won ceramic, the party enlists with House Shom to ascertain what happened to a lost caravan and investigate the legend of the Face in the Stone.

After a long, hard search, Sand Trek Enterprises discovers a strange, persistent dust devil. As they approach the whirlwind, they discover Shom’s missing caravan, being sacrificed to the whirlwind by soldiers of the lich Yarnath. They teach Yarnath’s minions a lesson and rescue the caravan drivers, who depart to both Kled and Tyr.

After braving the driving winds and scoring sands, Sand Trek Enterprises enters the Face…

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.