An Early Morning
Although their course of action had been decided earlier, Morg made one last-ditch effort to convince the group that they should head directly for the House Tsalaxa caravan. The rest of the heroes were still firmly set on finding the Cistern and the all-important water it might contain. Morg sent Merric out to find information on the Cistern of Aravek while he and the others prepared to venture out into the wilderness. Merric found only a little, stories of dwarf tribes in the desert that use a type of “wind trap” to cool their stone dwellings. He thought that, with a bit of magical aid, the traps could collect water. However Merric doubted that a sufficient amount of water could be collected in a reasonable time.
At the same time, Gwyn, still recovering from her wild evening, found her Veiled Alliance contact Jarvix and inquired about what he might know. Jarvix knew something about Aravek, as he was a preserver and a member of the Veiled Alliance in Tyr many centuries ago. Although he was reclusive, his obsession with creating water was well known. Many suspected he was successful, as Kalak, ordered his tower in the Ringing Mountains destroyed and the preserver killed.
Armed with the information and equipped for a journey into the harsh desert, the group set out attempting to find the Cistern as quickly as possible.
The Trail of Aravek
The sun-scorched hills of the Tyr Region stretched before the group as they exited the gates of Tyr. A shimmering heat mirage painted the false lure of water across the horizon before giving way to the soaring peaks of the Ringing Mountains to the west. Compared to this desolate wasteland, the chaos of the great thronging city-state behind you seemed a virtual paradise.
The group made good time through the rough terrain, however, Gwyn’s exertions the previous night slowed her down considerably and Morg needed to support his elf friend for the first few hours. Every vigilant about the dangers of the desert Vinara and Kelvor kept a close watch on their surroundings. When some signs of possible pursuit were noticed Castri quickly (and quietly) located the pursuing group about an hour behind them. The group, a half-dozen strong, was clearly following them and it was decided to set an ambush, should their tail prove to be hostile or competition.
Morg and Kelvor remained on the trail, while the others continued ahead and then circled back to hide in the rocks. They didn’t have to wait too long before a small group of humans and dwarves, all armed, came into view and came to a halt when they saw the pair on the trail ahead of them. The group appeared to be lead by a man in white robes who spoke to Morg. Although his story of being lost from a caravan was plausible, his accent revealed him as an Urikite.
Quickly the conversation turned into combat, however, the heroes were more than prepared and not at all surprised when the robed man shouted “We shall return to Tyr as conquerors! For Hamanu and Urik! Kill them!” Castri moved quickly from the rocks and used the Crown of Dust to knock four of the group to the ground. The robed man, most likely a templar of Hamanu, let forth a blast of lightning striking Morg and Kelvor, the ground at his feet turning black with his defiling magic. Morg rushed forward, past the prone guards, and landed a might blow on the templar.
Vinara and Bear closed in as well, finishing off one of the raiders and bolstering Morg’s stamina for the retaliation he was sure to face. The two dwarves were reluctant, but under threats from the templar, they charged Castri and Morg, each inflicting serious wounds. The female, who appeared to be a gladiator, hopped to her feet while smashing Morgs legs, causing him to buckle and fall to the ground. Gwyn continued the assault on the templar, blinding him to her with one of her spells. Kelvor moved in drawing the attention of most of their foes in melee.
In short order the group finishing off their attackers, except for the dwarves, who surrendered as soon as the templar was killed. They explained that the army from Urik had seized control of their village, Kled, and that they had joined the templars group under threats of harm to their families. They confirmed that the templar, Anukim, had been following the heroes in an attempt to ambush them after they located the Cistern. The dwarves were set free with most of the food carried by the Urikite’s.
The Lost Cistern of Aravek
After their brief rest and meal with the dwarves, the heroes continued in their search for the Cistern. Although they were still cautions for signs of pursuit or other dangers, they made good time. Skillfully guided by Vinara’s nature sense and Gwyn’s sense of growing magic, they found that the endless barren landscape suddenly gave way to a lush patch of vegetation near a large hill. Although they could see no water source, there was thriving plant life. A tall rocky spire jutted from the hillside and a cave entrance was visible, yawning open, below it. The entire valley was filled with a strange noise: a thick whistling that sounded much like the world’s largest pair of lungs sucking in a single, great, continuous breath.
It was immediately apparent to the group that they had found their destination and that there was a striking resemblance to the Face in the Stone.