Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas

The Island of Mytilene

Last Stand
Giants of MytileneWith both the giants and the adventurers expecting the worst from each other, neither side was surprised that combat erupted…

Lena’s spear thrust was easily dodged by the chieftain but Way-Lynn took advantage of the opportunity and decapitated the giant with one swing of the Headsman’s Axe

Although taken aback by the loss of their leader, the chieftess and the giants continued their attacks. The surrounding giants started moving into melee with those who were at range pelting the party with spears and rocks….

Banoc was hit several times with the thrown rocks, losing his control over the weather, however this allowed him to more fully focus on the fight at hand…

A distant horn blast brought a moment of hope that the beastheaded giants might have arrived, but after a few moments, there was no sign of them, and the hope dwindled…

Gwyn summoned a ring of flame attempting to hold off a group of the younger giants and, although they were burned by the flames, they pushed through…

Daqiq brought down the chieftess with a volley of perfectly aimed arrows…

Giant FightersMore giants from the surrounding rooms moved in and the party could hear the sounds of bears as well…

Jax and Banoc used their magic to keep the party fighting as long as they could, but as they tired and the giants kept coming, a change in tactics was needed…

At the urging of Iulius and Lena, the party fell back towards the Oracle, hoping to use it as cover or possibly threaten to destroy it as a last resort to gain their freedom…

Banoc attempted to conjure a wall of blades to cover their retreat but mis-judged things and a well-timed blow from a giant’s club broke his concentration causing the wall to disappear…

Flames raced across Gwyn’s body as her wing’s came out, shedding bright light and empowering her fire magic…

Lena threatened to destroy the Oracle and the giants paused for a moment…

Jo’orsh and Sa’ram
Dwarven BansheeOn the platform holding the orb, Jax could sense two powerful spirits and attempted to contact them…

The spirits of Jo’orsh and Sa’ram appeared and gained physical form standing near the Oracle…

When questioned, they revealed that they had been using the giants to guard the Lens (as they called the Oracle) and cared not who was in control as long as they were strong and could defend it…

When the party tried to sway their opinions by mentioning that the death of Borys was one of their goals, the undead dwarves responded that despite their hatred of the Butcher of Dwarves, Borys must not be destroyed…

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The Island of Mytilene

Tense Negotiations
Although the dwarven banshees were guarded Lena and Jax were able to coax some information out of them. Jo’orsh and Sa’ram told of their oath to protect Kemalok and avenge the dwarven people against Borys. However, they admitted to abandoning this focus and cursing themselves to eternal unlife when they found that to destroy Borys would unleash far greater evils.

If the Dragon dies, Rajaat will be freed. He’ll resume his wars on the Green Races and won’t stop until all of them have perished. We cannot condemn all the races of Athas to death to avenge the dwarves on Borys, or even to spare ourselves an eternity of suffering.

All the while the giants looked on with fear and awe unsure what to make of the situation. Way-lynn, Lena and Iulius stayed at the ready, prepared to strike should any hostilities start up again.

Wreathed in flames, Gwyn tried to be subtle and worked to make a connection to the Oracle, drawn to its power and curious about what she could learn from it. As the conversation turned and Banoc felt they had reached an agreement that would let them leave, Gwyn slipped up and Sa’ram charged at her. Lena’s quick strike stopped him before he could reach her.

Jax was able to persuade Sa’ram to let them go, as no harm was done. The banshee agreed, but warned the group to never mention the Lens or there would be the most dire consequences. To the rest of the groups amazement, they were able to exit the caves without any trouble from the giants or the dwarven banshees.

Two Heads are Better…
The weather outside the caves had turned worse with Banoc’s weather control magic failing. The temperature had risen to unbearable conditions and the winds were raging. As best they could, the party debated the next course of action. Daqiq wanted to find the beast-headed giants and return to attack the human-headed giants.

Sacha and WyanJax used her magic to send a message to the crew of the Slutty Kraken and the only reply was “Help, come quick”. Fearful the giants had betrayed them, Lena mounted her crodlu and prepared to march off with Iulius behind her. As she did two figures appeared out of the blowing sand – the two disembodied heads Sacha and Wyan.

I wouldn’t head in that direction, unless you’d like an untimely death."

The heads greeted Gwyn and told the group that the sorcerer-king of Balic was waiting for them. The head suggested that the party head with them to another boat on the island, one they claimed was used by Tithian and Agis, who had both been killed by the giants.

They party did not know what to do – they didn’t want to abandon the crew and didn’t trust the heads (who kept asking to drink their blood). In the midst of a raging sandstorm, they pondered their next move…

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The Island of Mytilene

Hard Choices
In the biting sand and intense wind, a debate among the party raged on whether to go back to their ship to try and save the crew or follow the head’s advice and leave them to die. The party was split and arguments were made that swayed everyone back and forth. Way-Lynn in particular was conflicted while Daqiq was steadfast in his belief that there was nothing they could actually do for the crew.

Eventually everyone’s minds were made up and the party spit. Iulius and Lena could not leave the crew to the whims of Andropinis and headed west towards the landing point. The rest of the party followed Sacha and Wyan towards their vessel.

Although none said it, they all feared it would be the last time they saw each other….

The Shadow Viper
After a half-day march through the terrible weather, the party found themselves in a somewhat sheltered part of the island. There, partially covered by the sand and silt, was the vessel that the head spoke of. Gathering inside the hull, the party found two corpses that had been badly bludgeoned, by the giants according to Sacha. Gwyn recognized them as Tithian, the king of Tyr and Agis, a noble of House Asticles, both of whom were responsible for the death of Kalak.

Although they had been dead for months, some of their gear was still in excellent condition and the party recovered two magic rings, a sword and a pair of bracers. Within the ship itself were a pair of goggles fitted with purple crystal lenses. The party had no problem helping themselves to the items, as the former owners were clearly not needing them. Banoc briefly contemplated using his magic to try and return one to life, but that wouldn’t be feasible until the present situation was resolved.

AndropinisDictator Andropinis
Lena and Iulius marched through the wind-blown sand, attempting not to choke on the silt. As they neared the shores, the weather abruptly calmed. They had spent enough time around Banoc to recognize when the weather was being controlled.

As they arrived at the shore, they saw a magnificent vessel out on the Silt Sea and the wreckage of the Sinful Kraken on the shore. A small army of half-giants and soldiers from Balic were on the beach, with the crew of the Sinful Kraken bound and on their knees before them. Andropinis stood in the middle of them.

Lena attempted a diplomatic approach and tried to bargain with information on Dregoth’s plans as well as invoking the name Rajaat. Andropinis appeared to be mostly confused by Lena’s “knowledge” and apparently knew much of it already. Lena’s guesses about Rajaat appeared to amuse the sorcerer-king more than intrigue him. However, hard Lena tried, she could not get the Dictator of Balic to release the crew and eventually grew frustrated and called him out.

The sorcerer-king obliged and engaged with Lena while his troops looked on. Lena’s lance was able to make contact with the monarch, but was unable to pierce his preternatural flesh. Drawing a flaming sword and conjuring a black shield of arcane and psionic energy, Andropinis continued to deflect Lena’s attacks are rained blow after blow onto her. As tough as she was, there was no contest and she was battered down in seconds.

The last thing she saw was Iulius being taken captive by the soldiers of Balic.

A New Plan
While huddling in the boat, which they learned was called the Shadow Viper, another debate began on how long to wait for Lena and what the next actions should be. Wyan told them that unless they obtained the Oracle, they would have no chance of defeating Borys and the sorcerer-kings. He proposed a simple solution of slaughtering all of the giants, but the party was not keen on that plan.

The eventually decided on moving the Shadow Viper closer to the crystal caves and having Jax assume the form of one of the dwarven banshees to try and draw out the giants. She could also use her magic to let the party infiltrate the caves and there, Gwyn would attempt to take control of the Oracle and they could then all escape. It was a bold plan, but the best they could come up with.

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The Island of Mytilene

New Hope
With their plan for stealing the Oracle set, they started to execute it. Sacha and Wyan reminded them it would be easier to just slaughter the giants and take the Oracle, but the party was not swayed by the heads. Daqiq took the helm of the Shadow Viper and moved it to a closer location to the giant’s cave, in case things went wrong and they needed a quick escape. Although he only had some experience controlling vessels such as this, he more more than up to the task.

As they left the vessel and prepared to let Jax’s magic turn them into sand, a strange being entered their sight. As tall as an elf, but not quite as large as a half-giant, the creature appeared to be made of wood and stone. Banoc felt the power of nature from the creature, who introduced itself as Phyll. They quickly learned that it was drawn to the magic of Banoc and appeared to be interested in rejuvenating the world. Wary, but in need of allies, the allowed Phyll to join their quest to steal the Oracle.

Complications
Assuming the form of sand and dust, they moved past the guards in the giant’s cave and settled near the Oracle. Jax materialized first and as she did so, she assumed the form of Jo’orsh. She got the attention of the nearby giants and when she had an audience, Jax told a tale of the Saram conspiring with evil beings in an attempt to steal the the Oracle. Her words were inflammatory and the giants appeared to believe every word of it, as they gathered themselves into a mod and moved out to bring the fight to their neighbors.

After they were sure the giants were gone, Gwyn materialized and flames erupted from her. She touched the Oracle and attempted to bond with it. As she did Jo’orsh and Sa’ram materialized and attacked. The group had been so concerned with the sorcerer-king and the giants that they forgot about the dwarven banshees. Even as the two told Gwyn to stop they moved to attack her.

The rest of the party was helpless as Jax battled the two banshees while they attacked Gwyn who was focused on bonding with the Oracle. Jax alternated using her magic to attack and heal, and found that the undead were very resilient to her magic and still capable warriors. Gwyn made progress with the Oracle bu the wounds started to accumulate faster than Jax could restore. Gwyn unleashed a powerful wave of healing to restored her and Jax to full health.

Jo’orsh finally fell to Jax’s magic and was banished for a time. Just as the others finally reformed into their bodies Gwyn finished her bonding to the Oracle and gained access to its tremendous powers. They all joined the fight with Way-lynn and Phyll moving up close to attack the undead. Banoc bolstered his friend with his healing magic while Daqiq rained arrows down on the creatures, turning Jo’orsh into dust.

Not wanting to leave loose ends, they ambushed Sa’ram when he returned from his banishment. Out numbered and already wounded, the banshee was finally defeated as Gwyn launched volley after volley of rays of fire.

With the threats eliminated, Gwyn caused the Dark Lens to shrink in side and placed it in the magic bag she took from Krampus. They all assumed the form of dust again and returned to the Shadow Viper, amazed that they were successful in the heist.

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Return of the Dust Kraken

Fleeing the Island of Mytilene aboard the Shadow Viper, the party traveled east deeper into the Sea of Silt looking for Ehwahla and the final piece of the Crown of Dust. As they searched they discussed their actions on Mytilene and their next steps. All agreed that Ul-Athra was a dangerous ally, but they felt that the rewards were worth the risk.

Banoc and Phyll use their magic to help guide the boat and eventually the reach a small island where they find Ehwahla. After some negotiations, the Crown of Dust is handed over the Ehwahla and she completes the Crown, allowing Ul-Athra to be reborn. For a moment they party has some hope, but Ul-Athra proclaims that to save Athas it must be torn down and rebuilt from the ruins. To further complicate matters Ul-Athra used the Crown to summon the party’s old nemesis Yarnath back to Athas.

Ehwahla

Realizing the error, the party launched themselves at their enemies attempting to catch them by surprise. Daqiq fired a series of arrows at Yarnath and dusted him, the Blood Jewel in the Crown flashing brightly. Ul-Athra and Ehwahla were not so easily defeated and proved too much for the group. Phyll, Gwyn and Banoc were flung back when they were hit by a wall of dust and sand. Jax, Daqiq and Way-lynn managed to keep their footing, but retreated to stand with their friends. Gwyn used her magic to teleport the party to the Elven Market in Nibenay, but something went wrong…

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The Road of Kings

Gwyn falls into a dreamlike state as she is transported across Athas by her Wish spell. Though the Teleportation is instantaneous, it is as though she has hours to contemplate her journey.

Where are we going? I can tell just by the pull of the wind that we aren’t headed to Nibenay. Why should we be? What’s one more thing going wrong? Shit.

Gwyn sees the forms of two noble men, each decorated with the signets of great houses of Athas. They rise up toward her from the desert, before vanishing into dust.

Even as a child among the Sky Singers I knew I had the power to preserve, to respect and maintain balance among the life contained within my arcane gifts. As I mastered this art I came to believe that it might allow me to become a hero…to bring growth and vibrancy to this place. Was that too naive? Perhaps in the unforgiving dryness of Athas no one is able to become a hero. Vinara, Morg, Elleandra, Jarvix, Kelvor, Thea, and the others…they came so close, and now they are dead. And for what? So that I and my current compatriots can let loose Ul-Athra? Allow a sorcerer-king to roam the Silt Sea and do as he pleases with our crew? I fear we have made one too many mistakes.

Gwyn has visions of two hideous floating heads bouncing around in the ether – each growling hungrily. One of them snarls, “We will never taste your blood now.”

I’ve never believed in fate. My mother and my birth father were both evil – I never once allowed myself to think I would go down a similar path, instead believing that I would make my own meaning. Now I question whether there is even such a thing. After leaving Moil, which nearly broke me, I was ready to start anew, taking flight on these scaled wings and moving ever faster toward our triumph – toward a brighter day for Athas. Now I can’t bring myself to imagine that this day will ever come.

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The Road of Kings

Reflections
Looking out over unending stony barrens, the party realized they were nowhere near Nibenay and only had Gwyn’s sense they were north of Nibenay to help. To the north and east, the land appeared to give way into scrub plains while the south and west appeared to be all stony barrens as far as they could see. Although the scrub plains might have been slightly more hospitable, they decided to travel south in the hopes of getting their bearings.

Phyll proved to be a valuable asset as his mere presence invigorated the party and allowed them to travel longer during the days. He also used his primal magic to create some food and water which helped stretch their supplies. Having fled the Shadow Viper quickly, they were low on the essentials needed to survive in the hot deserts of Athas.

Stony Barrens

As the party traveled for days, their thoughts turned towards the recent events and they reflected on their actions and the consequences…

  • Gwyn felt overwhelmed and that she had betrayed her personal beliefs. Their actions regarding the giants and dwarves horrified her.
  • Daqiq cared less about the dwarves and gaints and felt they were simply obstacles for a greater good. He was worried about the return of Ul-Athra and the safety of people in the cities.
  • Jax shared her husband’s worries about the common people but that the ends justify the means. She was slightly more hopeful about the eventual outcome.
  • Way-lynn was rather stoic, but admitted leaving behind the crew of the Sinful Kraken was wrong. They felt unfocused and really wasn’t sure what they were fighting for.
  • Banoc felt lost and as questioning his beliefs. He had no real issues with leaving behind the crew as he admitted to himself he was somewhat of a coward.
  • Phyll simply wanted to restore Athas and put an end to the defilers, no mater the cost.

During their first night Banoc communed with his elemental and felt better about their decision to travel south. According to his divinations, they had enough supplies to reach civilization and that going further north would not have been helpful for their cause.

Kenku Traders
The following morning, the group awoke to a horrific discovery – Gwyn’s lips and nose had fallen off leaving her face terribly disfigured. Too shocked and disturbed to offer any guidance, Gwyn stood still as Banoc used his magic once again to restore her body. They worried about her deterioration but could think of nothing to do except try and repair the damage once it happened.

During the following day, they happened across a group of Kenku traders. These merchants only communicated using phrases they had heard before, but the general meaning was ascertained without too much trouble. The party purchased a large number of supplies to make their journey easier as well as provide some comforts – wine, food and water were to top priorities. Banoc purchased some diamonds to use with his spells and a toy Wooshwagon was found a purchased by Way-lynn.

They parted ways with the Kenku and continued south until they needed rest. Banoc felt as if the elements had spoke truly to him and that the Kenku were some form of a blessing.

The Walking Dead
The next morning came with more horrifying events. All of the goods obtained by the Kenku had turned to ash overnight. The food was gone, the water was gone, the diamonds were gone, everything. Phyll was on watch and there were no intruders in the camp. They could only guess that they had been deceived by the Kenku. Daqiq was furious and wanted to track them down for revenge. The rest of the party decided that while they were poorer of coin they were richer of knowledge and that is was best to let the Kenku go. Reluctantly Daqiq agreed.

Additionally, Gwyn’s ears had fallen off over night. Once again Banoc’s magic was able to reattach her body parts, but he still could not determine for sure what was causing the decay. The parts that he had previously restored appeared to be just fine, although every so slightly more draconic in appearance. Gwyn suffered no pain or other debilitating effects, so no believed it was the same affliction that Thea suffered from.

This next day and night were without incident or encounter and the following morning Gwyn remained whole.

Around mid-day, the party encountered a group of thirty individuals wandering from the southwest and the two groups approached each other. Never had they seen such a dismal lot of humanity. Mostly humans, they were all limping and walking somewhat erratically. As they got closer still, the traveler’s tattered clothes became apparent and their exposed flesh was seen to be covered in boils and suppurating abscesses of the skin. They were moaning unintelligibly at first, but soon a few words could be made out – “food” “water” “help us”.

The leader introduced himself as Sil Dresh, and Way-lynn knew of him from their time in the Shadow Guard of Nibenay. They learned that this group was made up of refugees from the battle at Urik, which did not go well for most of the troops, even though a shadowy dragon was driven off with the combined power of Hamanu, Lalali-Puy, Nibenay and the Dragon itself. This group had fled and wandered for several days before coming upon the Black Waters Oasis. So great was their thirst that they drank from the cursed waters and now were wasting away.

Phyll tried to help by making more food and water. Although the refugees were able to eat and drink, they were unable to hold down the food and came back up within seconds. Gwyn dared to use the Dark Lens to try and restore the refugee’s to health, but even her wishes were unable to completely restore them. They symptoms decreased in intensity, but the underlying affliction remained. Whatever the cause, it was more powerful than her wishes.

The Ruins of Yaramuke
The refugees elected to remain with the party as they had no better option and felt that the party was their best chance for salvation. They party was glad to have the extra hands as they decided to head toward the Ruins of Yaramuke, which were just north of the Oasis. They now knew their approximate location and that gave them a slight bit of hope.

Jax knew a little of the story of Yaramuke, a tale that she had heard from another bard. Phyll knew a little as well, that the sorcerer-queen Sielba was particularly vengeful in the purging of the druids and preservers, but that it was rumored she kept their knowledge for herself rather than destroy it like the other sorcerer-kings. They hoped that her knowledge might help in their quest to restore Athas.

With the refugees following them, the party made the journey to the ruins of Yaramuke, arriving there in the early afternoon of the following day. The treacherous ruins would not provide a safe place to rest, unless an intact building could be located. They prepared to search the ruins, looking for a secure place to act as a base of operations. The size of the ruins and their treacherous nature would likely require days to explore.

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The Ruins of Yaramuke

The Gith Cave
Given the size of the ruins of Yaramuke, the party decided to split up to cover more ground and hopefully locate a safe place to rest.

Daqiq, Jax and Gwyn searched in the northeast corner of the ruins but found nothing except an aggressive patch of spider cacti. They suffered a few injuries, but nothing too serious.