Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas

Marauders of the Dune Sea
The Face in the Stone

Cult of Dust
The group headed back towards the entrance and then proceeded down the eastern passage. Their progress was blocked by a set of doors bearing markings similar to those found on the Obelisks out front. Cautious of a trap, Morg attempted to disable the device but found as he went through the door that the trap was still active and received a nasty shock. The rest followed him down a long hallway with a large crack in the floor, which had three sets of doors near the far end.

The door at the end of the hallway was closed, but they could hear a crackling sound coming from the other side. Wary of traps, but having no other option, they opened the door to reveal a large room light by four massive braziers, one in each corner of the room. The skeleton of a snake-like creature lay crumbling on the floor. In the flickering light, an altar of carved bone was visible along the northern wall.

When Vinara moved up to the altar to investigate a skeletal figure appeared in each of the two northern braziers, burning but undamaged by the flames. Fire flared in the eye sockets of the skeletal creature on the floor; its tail rising and lashing out sending shards of bone and stone flying. Smoke puffs in the two southern braziers appeared and then faded, revealing several shambling corpses. Two of the corpses were crusted with salt.

The corpses moved with surprising speed and surrounded Vinara, clawing and biting her. She swung her bronze staff, a halo of primal magic surrounding her, the undead quickly falling to her attacks. As the whipping tail of the skeleton continued to blast the room with poisonous bone and stone fragments, Gwyn summoned spectral claws that slashed into a burning skeleton and a salt zombie. Bear and Morg tore into the blazing skeleton and the second salt zombie, taking them down quickly. Morg hacked at the skeletal tail until nothing was left.

After the battle was concluded the group searched the room and found only writing above a picture of a massive serpent with a golden crown on it’s head carved into the altar. Vinara could barely translate the writing.

In the beginning, Ul-Athra and its siblings created the world. For a time, each primordial claimed a domain among the formless, empty regions. Ul-Athra, a creature of wind and rage, had dominion over the fury of the dust storm. It wore upon its brow the Crown of Dust, into which the primordial had invested a considerable sum of its power. When Ul-Athra was lost to the world, fragments of the Crown remained.

Storm Seat
Resting BonesContinuing straight down a hallway, ignoring two side doors, the group found themselves in front of another pair of doors. Tired of caution, Morg flung open the doors and walked inside of a large natural chamber. In a niche in the southern wall, a massive, vaguely humanoid creature made of fused bone was resting on the ground. Four statues, apparently carved from the floor were visible in the chamber. A great stone cauldron was visible on the northern side of the chamber.

As the heroes moved into the room, they could hear low whispers coming from the cauldron. The ghostly mutterings continued without end, mixing words from many languages without meaning. As Vinara moved towards the cauldron, she avoided getting too close to the statues, as the air around them seemed disturbed. The cauldron was large enough to hold the entire party, but was empty except for what appeared to be a faint mist.

Ancestor Hall
Deciding that their need to find the artifact was greater than the need to satisfy their curiosity, the group moved out of the room. Once again they avoided getting too close to the statues. The hallway was light from the far end and had two side passages that each had a large stone urn at the far side.

The southern passage had a snake design decorated on the floor tiles in what appeared to be charcoal. The northern passage was similarly decorated, but the design was painted in a dark green fluid. Both hallways had strange writing which Vinara translated as the phrase “Our ancestors require obeisance” etched in the walls. The large urns remained untouched as the group ventured towards the source of the light.

Wide steps lead down into a grand chamber. Crackling fire burned in two braziers that flanked the stairs. The flames bathed the room in oddly inconstant light, throwing shadows across a floor covered in skeletal and mummified humanoid remains. Vinara moved forward, heading to the southern doors leading out of the room, when she was wracked with pain.

With a shriek, several bodies scattered across the floor began to rise, the sickly sweet odor of decaying flesh blowing through the chamber. A snake sigil, previously obscured by the bodies began to glow with a scarlet light. Around the sigil, a number of ghostly figures appeared moving towards the immobilized Vinara, caressing her with shadowy hands. Morg charged the wraiths, cleaving them with his axe. Vinara and Bear defeated the remaining two with a combined attack.

Gwyn flung her arms in a wide arc spraying the zombies and skeletons with liquid fire. Although Vinara was in constant pain as the sigil continued to drain her energy, their remaining foes were dispatched quickly. Gwyn used her magic to disrupt the sigil long enough for the group to leave the room and head deeper into the Face in the Stone. The exit from the room eventually forked with doors visible at the end of each branch.

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Marauders of the Dune Sea
The Face in the Stone

The Face
The Face in The StoneThe heroes cautiously approached the entrance to the face and as they did so, it became apparent that the movement within was caused by a small group of hejkin. Castri decided to remain outside the face, standing guard in case any of the marauder’s allies attempted to breech the dust storm surrounding the Face.

Gwyn moved forward past the obelisks, which crackled with lightning, striking her. Not seriously injured, she continued in and attempted to intimidate the hejkin into fleeing, bu they were not routed and battle commenced. Morg and Vinara rushed into the cave as the hejkin unleashed lightning attacks of their own. Despite her magic claws tearing into the hejkin, Gwyn suffered the worst under their attack. Two of the hejkin were defeated by Vinara and her entourage, while Morg and Gwyn slew the others.

The group retreated out past the Obelisks, which eventually went dark again. Carefully approaching them, they attempted to discover a way to disable the trap. Unfortunately their actions caused the traps to explode, causing further injuries.

Hejkin Lair
Venturing down the left-hand passage, the group heard a strange sound, akin to a breeze through a fine crystal chime. The source of the sound was found to be the most unusual sight the adventurer’s had seen – running water. Free running water falling down one side of the corridor, pooled in the center of the runnel and flowed away down another constricted channel. Vinara’s keen eyes spotted a shape resting 10 feet below the surface of the water. The creature, resembling a scorpion with tentacles in it’s mouth, was recognized as a chuul. Wary of disturbing the beast, the group vaulted over the stream and continued on down the corridor.

Past the pool of water, the twisting corridor ended in a wide chamber stinking of rotting carrion and spoor. Piles of debris were scattered like nests, and large hole was visible in the center of the chamber. Barely visible in their flickering torchlight, several more hejkin were visible.

Hurt and tired, the heroes charged in to try and make quick work of their foes. Gwyn summoned a blast of fire, burning the hejkin chief as he rang a gong near the entrance. Vinara and Bear took down two of the hejkin quickly before being attacked by the chuul who approached from behind. Morg charged the chief and knocked him into a pit in the room, but its quick reflexes saved it from certain death. Pulling itself out of the pit the chief tossed Bear into the pit and savagely tore into Morg with its claws.

Eventually the hejkin were defeated and Bear was able to climb out of the pit. The group, now completely exhausted was forced to rest in the foul lair of the hejkin. During their rest they uncovered some coins that the hejkin were hoarding, but very little else of value.

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Marauders of the Dune Sea
Finding the Face

Desert Trek
Morg, Vinara and Castri headed to the Merchant District to purchase supplies for their expedition into the desert. Eager to start their trip, the trio did not spend much time listening to news or gossip, but rather made their purchases and headed back.

While the others were busy procuring supplies, Gwyn opened their shop and attempted to attract some business. The day was slow, with only one patron, a merchant named Dalem Shom, of House Shom. While inking his house symbol onto his arm, Dalem expressed concern over a missing caravan and a dramatic increase in raider activity. Gwyn mentioned that when they were in the desert, they would keep a look out for the lost caravan.

The group set out the next day, guided only by the shared visions of Vinara and the Wastewalker, they headed towards the rising sun. Watchful for the vague landmarks seen in the visions, the group struggled against the harsh terrain, with Gwyn suffering the most as they crossed ravines and escarpments.

As the group moved through a particularly narrow section of the badlands, thin strands of nearly invisible crystal suddenly became apparent. As they got closer, it was apparent that the strands formed a large web stretching between several of the boulders. Having seen this type of web before, the heroes were not surprised by the appearance of two large crystal spiders. The battle against the spiders was not difficult for the seasoned adventurers, although the blinding light reflected by the spiders caused Gwyn to be blinded for a short while.

After eight grueling days of travel, the group finally reached what they assumed could only be their destination; a dust storm hanging in place over a cliff wall. The stationary storm, a twisting pillar of blowing dust and sand ascended over 50 feet into the sky. The screaming wind promised stinging death to those who entered.

Storm’s Edge
Dust StormFrom their vantage point, the adventurers could see more than a dozen humans and humanoids among the jumble of rocks and dunes ahead of them. Their ragtag and eclectic dress suggested they were raiders. Some were perched atop the rocks as sentries and other gathered farther away, partly sheltered by a large boulder. Numerous bound human captives lay near the edge of the stationary dust devil. While they assessed the situation, three of the raiders began to drag a captive across the sand and tosses him into the swirling dust. The captive screamed and was gone.

Acting quickly to maintain the element of surprise and prevent more of the captives from being killed, the group sprang into action. Castri launched a volley of arrows across the boulder taking out one of the tarek raiders who was throwing captives into the storm. Morg charged the nearest raider while Gwyn used her magic on a tougher looking tarek. Vinara and Bear moved to position themselves but were unable to take down any of the raiders.

Gwyn summoned claws of arcane energy to tear away at the raiders foolish enough to close in with her. Vinara drained the lifeblood from her opponent to heal Morg who had been wounded battling several of the humans. Castri continued to launch arrows into the raiders switching to those near the captives after they tossed another into the storm.

The group suffered a bit under the hail of javelins and stabs of spears, but eventually they emerged victorious. Although one of the raiders was alive, the heroes tossed him into the storm. The surviving captives were discovered to be the missing House Shom caravan and promised to tell of the heroics of their saviors upon their return to Tyr. Although there was little to be found on the raiders, they did share one thing in common – a tattoo of a snakes skull. None knew of the significance.

Dust Devil
After taking a short rest and seeing the merchants of House Shom off, the heroes decided that the only course of action was to attempt to penetrate the sand storm in the hopes of finding the Face in the Stone. Acting on Castri’s advice, the group lashed themselves together and entered the storm with Morg and Vinara leading the way.

Each was challenged to endure the rigors of the dust devil while helping their comrades through the worst parts. Simple brute strength to push through the sandstorm was not enough, in order to withstand the rigors of the dust devil, each had to avoid getting turned around in the swirling sand. As they pushed further in, the intensity worsened and the punishing winds caused sand dunes to form and shift, threatening to bury them.

Suffering many small wounds, the party eventually emerged from the storm to find a hollow area of still air along a high cliff face. The cliff contained the relief carving of a massive humanoid face – clearly the Face in the Stone. The empty eyes were black shadows, but the gaping mouth was set with two granite obelisks that appeared to be massive teeth. There appeared to be flashes of movement within the cave, but who or what it was, was not possible to determine at the distance.

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Festival of the Cooling Sun
The City of Tyr

Crodlu Racing
The fourth day of the festival opened with a series of crodlu races as the individual contests began. Morg, Gwyn and Castri found themselves competing against each other and two other gladiators. The objective was simple, be the first to guide their crodlu across the finish line after two laps around the area.

The three friends vowed to work together to help Morg win the competition, knowing that only he would be available for the final day of competition. Morg pushed his crodlu hard trusting his athleticism and endurance to help his lizard carry him across the finish line. Gwyn pushed her crodlu hard, while hanging on with all of her strength, all the while maneuvering to prevent the other gladiators from overtaking her friend. Castri had more difficulty keeping up, being unused to the animals, however his skill with the Way caused a great difficulties for the others as he caused debris from the track to blind and hinder them.

Near the finish line Castri collided with another rider sending both of them tumbling across the finish line just behind Morg who finished first and Gwyn who finished in second place. After the race, the three collected their winnings and stayed at the arena to watch the other races. Members of the Red Cord were eliminated but an elf of the Moonrunner tribe showed impressive skills in the racing and looked to be a top contender for the final match of the festival.

Across the Wastes
During the fourth day, Vinara left the city to journey with the Wastewalker to a hidden location to receive training on the ways of a primal guardian. After a day of travel, where she listen to the Wastewalker discuss how all aspects of nature were interconnected, they arrived at a hidden oasis in the foothills of the Ringing Mountains.

The spirits of fire challenged her to destroy the defilers and their allies in order to prevent more damage to the world. The spirit of earth warned her that she would need to endure great hardships if she were to take up the task of restoring Athas to its former state. The spirit of water tasked Vinara with healing the world that had suffered so much at the hands of the sorcerer-kings. Finally the spirit of air challenged Vinara to be cautious in her approach to restoring Athas, knowing that the entrenched power of sorcerer-kings and their allies would not be easily overthrown.

Accepting their challenges and demonstrating her ability to overcome her adversaries, the spirits invested her with the power to become a primal guardian. She learned the power to summon a new companion to help her in quests – a living zephyr that could obscure the vision of her enemies and push them about. Satisfied that her training was complete she began her journey back to Tyr.

The Veiled Alliance
Gwyn journeyed back to the The Warrens to meet her Veiled Alliance contact Jarvix and complete her initiation on the night of the fifth day of the festival. They traveled deep into the Warrens and down into the depths of an abandoned building. From the basement they traveled down into the Under-Tyr, the ruins of the old city of Tyr.

At the gates of an ruined building Gwyn demonstrated her skill in preserving magic by opening the door without harming the fragile lichens nearby. Inside the building she found other members of the Alliance who tested her moral character and dedication to the cause of preserving magic.

More than satisfied with her responses, she was inducted into the Veiled Alliance. She learned that the cells were currently debating divulgence – whether to maintain the secrecy that has protected them for so long, or whether to reveal themselves to the population and capitalize on the death of Kalak to promote good-will towards their members. With the future of such actions uncertain, Gwyn returned to the surface to watch Morg’s final match.

Agis of Asticles
Castri to the estates of Agis in the hopes of learning more about the events surrounding the death of Kalak. Although initially suspect about his motives, Agis eventually divulged much that was previously unknown, hoping that Castri would use such knowledge to help bring about a positive change to the world.

We journeyed to the Forest Ridge where the halflings granted us the use of a Heartwood Spear, pulled from an ancient Tree of Life. They told us that Kalak was attempting to transform into a powerful dragon, and if successful he would bring great destruction to the lands. They instructed us that only by working together could we hope to overcome Kalak’s potent defenses.

During the gladiatorial contest, we struck at once; I used by talents with the Way to weaken his mental defenses, Sadira used her arcane powers to breach his other defenses. Rikus then threw the spear and landed a mortal wound, one that should have killed him, except for the massive life force he was draining from the crowd. We, along with Tithian, followed Kalak into the Ziggurat of Kalak.

Once inside, we found Kalak in the midst of his transformation and attempted to finish him off, but he was too strong, still empowered by the life forces he had stolen. Only the quick actions of Tithian, who began smashing the obsidian orbs around his chamber cut him off from the energies and allowed him to be finally defeated.

If you hope to defeat other sorcerer-kings you will have a much harder time than we did, for the other sorcerer-kings will not be distracted by the rituals that Kalak was attempting when he was slain. Even at your peak, you will need all the help you can receive, you should look find powerful artifacts to aid your quests, but where to start looking is unknown to me.

Armed with this knowledge, Castri returned to watch the final games of the festival.

The Final Duel
Aric of the MoonrunnersThe final match of games was between Morg and and elf named Aric, from the Moonrunner tribe, had earned a reputation for ruthlessness. The two gladiators closed on each other taking cover behind pillars as they did so. When they were close Morg stepped out from behind the pillar and taunted the elf into attacking.

Happy to oblige, Aric charged forth swiping with his massive obsidian blade and landing a deep wound on Morg. The wound began to sting and burn from the poison that was coated on the blade, clearly showing his intent to kill. Morg became enraged and his fury gave him the strength to ignore the wounds and continue fighting. Both gladiators maneuvered around the pillars and patches of brambleweed. The elf’s use of poison and magic during the attack gave him a slight advantage, but the crowd clearly favored Morg. A couple attacks that were parried by Aric appeared to be the turning point, but the combat ended quickly as a massive swipe from Morg’s axe removed the elf’s head.

After the celebration, Morg and the others collected the winnings from their bets and began to prepare for their next journey. They decided to search for the Face in the Stone as the urgency seemed greater. They let a disappointed Rhotan Vor of House Wavir know that when they returned, they would help him search for the lost tomb.

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Festival of the Cooling Sun
The City of Tyr

Coins in the Coffer
After a night of rest, team Obsidian Storm entered the arena once again, this time to find themselves playing against members of the Red Cord mercenary group in a game of coins in the coffer. Morg, Vinara and Gwyn formulated a strategy with Castri as the rules of the game were explained: No attacks on opposing team members, each coin placed in the teams coffer scores one point, the team with the most points after five rounds wins.

During the first round both teams moved quickly towards the center of the area, avoiding the treacherous brambleweed. Morg began to work the crowd as he taunted the other team and moved to block their coffer. Castri attempting to disrupt the charge fired arrows, but his opponents were not deterred. During the second round Castri’s arrows proved equally ineffective, however Gwyn grabbed a coin and deposited it in her team’s coffer. The Red Cord moved to the pile of coins, grabbing three, and headed towards their coffer. The halfling forest keeper conjured vines to ensnare Vinara.

Intercepting his opponents, Morg knocked them back with a ferocious roar. Gwyn’s elven speed allowed her grab a coin and drop it in the coffer, then carefully using her arcane powers, she leapt through the air and knocked the halfling down.

Seeing potential trouble, Castri used his abilities with the Way to move the remaining three coins from the center of the arena to Vinara’s feet. Still entangled by the conjured vines Vinara grabbed and tossed a coin, it just landing short of the coffer. Morg continued to push his opponents back from their coffer and making a good show of it for the crowd. Gwyn chased the halfling, who had ducked beneath he legs and grabbed one of the coins as Vinara’s feet. She used her magic again to summon claws that lifted the halfing and the coin into her coffer. Too late she realized that her attempt to conceal her magic might not have been successful. Vinara, finally free of the halflings vines, deposited the last coin into her coffer and closed the lid, with the halfling still inside.

Morg continued to do battle with his human opponents, with neither side making any real progress. When the final gong signaled the end of the game team Obsidian Storm had won with a score of 4 to 0. The members of the Red Cord retrieved their halfling and walked out the arena as the crowd cheered for team Obsidian Storm.

Finding Friends
After resting, the heroes ventured out into The Warrens to the Elven Market to collect their winnings a place new bets on the outcome of the gladiatorial contest. Although their team was gaining some amount of fame the competition was as well, making the outcome of the tournament still uncertain.

Castri left the Elven Market to meet up with Khalos the aid to Agis who was supposed to be arranging a meeting between them. Pleasantly, Agis had agreed to meet following the third day of the tournament.

JarvixGwyn and Morg made their way from the arena into the Warrens, attempting to create an opportunity to make contact with the Veiled Alliance. After a short while they realized they were being followed and maneuvered to follow their tail. Neither Morg nor Gwyn were particularly subtle and they were lead into a quiet alley where they could converse with some degree of privacy. Their new friend was a red-skinned Tiefling who introduced himself as Jarvix. As they expected, he claimed to be a member of the Veiled Alliance and announced that they had noticed Gwyn and were intending to make her an offer, once she passed their final tests. She was to meet them at dawn on the fifth day of festival.

Later that evening a freak sandstorm blew across the city, and the Wastewalker appeared to Vinara. He spoke of terrible visions that he had where a great sandstorm began to devour the world. In the vision, he saw a lost shrine where evil stirs called the Face in the Stone, and a powerful defiler who is searching for the Face, to unleash the evil. He tasked Vinara with taking up her true destiny and stopping this defiler. However, he felt she was not strong enough to take on this task, and so he offered to train her, starting at dusk on the third night of the festival. He departed with the sandstorm.

The Gaj
The following day was the last of the group battles in the arena, and Obsidian Storm intended to continue their winning streak. The arena was refitted with numerous pillars, blocking their view of the opposing gate. However, the suspense was ended when the announcer revealed that they would be fighting a dreaded Gaj.

Knowing the speed was of the utmost importance to defeat a powerful foe, the team moved quickly. Castri moved to to get a clear shot but his arrow bounced harmlessly off the creatures thick carapace. Gwyn summoned an orb of shifting arcane energy and hurled it toward the Gaj, but the nimble creature ducked just in time avoiding it despite her elven accuracy. Morg and Vinara moved up keeping cover between. The Gaj, slower to react than its opponents, moved forward and unleashed a blast of psychic energy, injuring them both. As Morg’s shrunken head amulet cackled some of the Gaj’s psychic attack was rebounded.

Castri let loose another volley of arrows, but although his aim was true, the arrows failed to penetrate its defenses. Gwyn attempted to assault the Gaj’s mind and remove all evidence from her foe’s senses, however the Gaj’s mental defenses withstood the attack and all she accomplished was to drawn the attention of the beast. Vinara used her primal magic to heal Gwyn and boost her allies defenses. The Gaj moved in while Morg waited for the most opportune moment to strike and sunk its mandibles into Gwyn, holding her in place. She was able to avoid it’s feathery antennae but her wounds were severe. Summoning all his rage, Morg unleashed a furious set of blows on the Gaj, scoring two serious wounds while the creature was occupied with Gwyn.

Finally penetrating the Gaj’s armor, Castri’s arrows finally struck home. Gwyn again failed to wound the Gaj, but she did manage to escape its powerful bite. Vinara moved into melee with burst of primal power trailing after her bronze staff, causing a halo of primal magic to surround her strengthening her allies. The Gaj, its attentions now focused on Morg, savagely ripped into Morg with its mandibles and antennae as it unleashed another blast of mental energy. Morg, barely conscious, was unable to connect with the Gaj, but he was able to escape its grasp.

Castri’s bad luck returned as his arrows bounced off the Gaj’s shell. In desperation Gwyn unleashed a blast of lightning wounding the creature but also Morg and Vinara. Vinara drew the last of the life energy out of the Gaj, renewing Morg’s vitality as it died. Once again team Obsidian Storm was victorious.

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Festival of the Cooling Sun
The City of Tyr

Setting Up Shop
Having spent a few days in the city of Tyr, the heroes decided that their best course of action was to establish a base of operations in the Elven Market. The new shop, Free City Tattoo, would require an investment in order to set up shop. Gwyn, Morg and Vinara traveled about the city attempting to sell some of the treasures they had uncovered in their flight from the Wastewalker. They had little luck in the Smith’s District, although they located several interesting shops including the Tarnished Cup.

About the same time the disgraced noble, Castri, wandered into the Artisan District to look up an old friend, a Half-Giant named Karlen who was the proprietor of Karlen’s Eye. Although Karlen was unable to directly aid Castri, he did pass along a rumor that he had heard about a recently uncovered ruins called the Face in the Stone, which could contain valuables that he would be happy to sell and give Castri a commission. Karlen also suggested that Castri be on the lookout for new arrivals in the city, a group of adventurers who arrived after the last obsidian storm.

A short while later Castri found the adventurers making their way about the city attempting to finance their new venture. After a brief introduction the entire group returned to Karlen’s Eye and arrived at a satisfactory price that would let the group get enough seed money for their shop. Karlen also suggested that if they needed money and were so inclined the city was holding a gladiatorial contest during the upcoming Festival of the Cooling Sun.

Morg set out to enter the group under the name Obsidian Storm for the five day gladiatorial contest.

First Arena Game
Arena of TyrM