Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas


Rest and Recovery
Several weeks passed after the events at the Ziggurat, giving the heroes time to take a much needed rest and plan out their course of action. Life in Tyr settled down after the defeat of the True, although the leaders of Tyr still had not returned.

Vinara communed with the Wastewalker and the elemental spirits in an attempt to determine the best location to plant the seed from the Tree of Life. She received conflicting advice but one thing became clear, they had less then a month to plant the seed before it would die. After discussing with her allies, they decided to travel to the village of Kled and plant the seed there, hoping it would be safe in the hidden city and also help restore Kemalok to its former glory.

Morg made contact with Quick Wenzer to try and gain more insight into the whereabouts of the leaders of Tyr. Unfortunately no new information was gained, simply that they had disappeared before the events at the Ziggurat. In the king’s absence, the ruling council has begun to pass laws and take a more commanding role in the governing of the city. The hottest topic is what to do about the Dragon’s Levy, which is coming due in a few months. Morg’s personal interests in the events at Kled aligned with Vinara’s, and he was eager to join her.

Kelvor spent a good deal of his time trying to research the history of the Swords of Tyr and Jarvix was able to provide some of the answers he spoken. All of the indications were that the remaining swords were not likely to be in Tyr. His friend Karlen did not have any leads on swords matching the general description, but did pass along information that Castri’s mother had been by looking for him. Kelvor also learned a bit about the route the Dragon was likely to take when collecting the Levy and that there was an increase in patrol from the city-state of Balic. The knowledge likely to be contained in the ruins of Kled was of great interest for Kelvor, so he agreed to join the others on the journey to Kled.

Jarvix was able to use his influence in the Veiled Alliance to gain access to some of the restricted materials in the Golden Tower. In addition to helping get information on Kelvor’s swords, he found some records pertaining to the Orb of Kalid-Ma, once owned by the sorcerer-king of the city-state of Kalidnay. He also uncovered some additional lore regarding the Dragon’s Levy and the strange magic seen in the Fey Engine. Although somewhat unsure, Jarvix agreed to travel to Kled in the hopes of learning more and helping his friends.

Elleandra also talked with the more knowledgeable members of the Veiled Alliance regarding dragon magic and she decided to join the group on their journey to Kled to safeguard the seed and hopefully see it grow into a new tree. Her connection to the seed was evident although the exact nature was still somewhat uncertain. He also spent a good deal of time with Kelvor and Jarvix learning to focus her abilities withe the Way.

Gwyn too decided to join in the with her friends and travel to Kled. After reviewing what she learned in the Book of Kemalok Kings, some of the pieces of the past began to fall together. She was hopeful that there would be more information in the ruins of Kemalok and that her ability to decipher the ancient dwarven texts would continue to be useful.

The Snow Queen
As the group was preparing to leave for Kled, they were interrupted by a visitor to the tattoo shop. A woman, who introduced herself as Krystin, invited Gwyn, Morg, Vinara and Kelvor to a meeting with her mistress, a lady of House Arynd. Kelvor recognized the name Arynd, but knew little about them. Although they felt a sense of urgency regarding their trip to Kled, as well as some suspicion regarding the meeting, they accepted and left for the Noble District. Elleandra and Jarvix followed behind, attempting to not draw attention to themselves.

Inside a darkened building on the edge of the Noble District and Merchant District they were introduced to Adina Arynd who provided them with water and invited them to sit down. She asked about the whereabouts of her son, Castri, claiming to want to attempt a reconciliation with him. Kelvor evaded a direct answer to her question and both sides quickly realized that each new more than they were saying. Adina’s questioning became more direct and she became more upset as the conversation continued. Gwyn was the first to notice that the room felt as if it was getting colder.

Outside the building, Jarvix and Elleandra had moved as close as they could and spotted Krystin in one of the adjacent buildings. Inside raised voices could be heard as Adina became more agitated as her questions about her son started to include the Crown of Dust. The room continued to become colder and Gwyn could feel the defiling power of Adina. In a fit of rage, she proclaimed that the Broken Builders would unravel the world once they had the crown and that the heroes would meet their death if they tried to interfere.

Adina AryndElleandra moved quickly to be in position to engage Krystin or Adina, harassing them with images of flesh-eating sprites. Kelvor moved to into melee with Adina, drawing her attention away from the rest of the group. To everyone’s horror, Adina knocked over the pitcher of water and it swirled and solidified into an abomination. She called out to the creature directing to to kill the Gwyn, who she referred to as ‘stupid elven scum, like the rest of them.’ The creature slamed into Gwyn with tremendous strength, releasing a blast of intense cold that burned her.

The party quickly realized the severity of the situation as many of their attacks were dodged or deflected by the trio. Jarvix was able to engage and contain Krystin while the others worked to bring down Olafra and Adina, each surviving several perfectly placed blows by Morg and Vinara. Morg drew the attention of Olafra and was briefly knocked unconscious by the ice creature before being revived by Vinara.

Despite limiting themselves to the confines of the meeting room, the group was eventually successful at overcoming the agents of the Broken Builders. Their attackers had little wealth on them and the precious water used to make Olafra quickly disappeared as the heat returned to the room. Jarvix had heard of these cultists and passed what he knew to the rest of the group as they rested and tended to their wounds.


Free City of TyrIn the weeks following the death of the resurrected sorcerer-king Kalak, the heroes were able to take a much deserved rest and took time to reflect on recent events. They attempted to put perspective on events and to begin to plan their next course of action…

  • The Veiled Alliance and Tyrian Guard have once again attempted to seal the Ziggurat and Golden Tower from the general public. The strange heads discovered in the chambers beneath the Golden Tower, Sacha and Wyan, have not been encountered again. What secrets might be held in the two structures or by the two heads?
  • The seed from the Tree of Life was badly damaged when it was used to resurrect Kalak, and appears to have been drained of much of its power. The seed has begun to start to open, suggesting that it must be planted soon or risk it dying. What is to be done with the powerful relic from Athas’ past?
  • The halflings of the Forest Ridge and the enigmatic Wastewalker appear to know much of the history of Athas. What other advice and insight could they offer to help the heroes accomplish the task set before them by the elemental spirits – the restoration of the Green Age? Are the heroes willing to continue on such dangerous quests?
  • The heroes continue to ponder the strange engine that was draining Elleandra’s home, the Lands Within the Wind, but are no closer to discovering its creator. The energy stolen from her lands was likely being transferred to some other realm. Who could have created such a powerful device and why?
  • The groups collection of powerful magic items has been growing, but the true natures of many are still uncertain. The Orbs of Kalid-Ma and The Shadowstaff are among the most enigmatic and very little information has been discovered about their true origins and purposes. Can these answers be found or have they been lost to the sands of time?
  • The two Swords of Tyr now possessed by Kelvor are powerful weapons clearly designed for a purpose. Kelvor has joined to two known swords together into a single weapon. The location of the other swords is unknown but the power of the weapon created by uniting them all would be incredible, if they could be found. What are the swords true purpose and where are they?
  • The Crown of Dust still remains with the group. Will all that use it fall to the same fate of their former ally Castri? If the crown is to be destroyed, where can such a feat be accomplished? What is the fate of Castri and his master Yarnath?
  • The regular shipments of obsidian from Kled have continued, bringing prosperity to the dwarves and the citizens of Tyr. A messenger accompanied that last delivery with news that the continued, secret restoration of Kemalok has continued but that a strange discovery was made deep beneath the tombs. Lyanius has asked for help from the heroes who help save their city. What has been uncovered beneath the sands?
  • It is said that the gods have long been absent from Athas, although many doubt if they ever had any real power. In the ruins beneath Kled, there was some tangible evidence of divinity and the power that it once had, a revelation that has been weighing heavily on Kelvor’s mind. What would be revealed by searching for the gods and what befell them?
  • The leaders of Tyr have been seen less and less often. There was no word regarding Rikus after his failed attempt to siege the city-state of Urik. King Tithian has not made a public appearance since before the attack by the True. Now Agis and Sadira have not been seen is some time. What could be attracting the attention of these powerful protectors of Tyr?
  • The time of the Dragon’s levy is rapidly approaching and how Tyr intends to satisfy the Dragon is unclear at this time. Legends tell of city-states that were decimated for refusing its demand, although for the only free city to surrender a thousand souls to certain doom is unthinkable for most of its residents. What course of action will be taken?
Ashes of War

Race Against the True
The group moved deeper through the Ziggurat, Morg and Vinara noticed they were moving from beneath the Ziggurat and likely near the Golden Tower. They eventually found themselves before a room that looked to have once contained a great wealth of items, but was now filled with debris. Badly burned bookshelves, empty and broken chests and stone tables with broken items were all that was left of the room’s contents. As they took in the scene, two bloated mummified heads appeared from behind a bookshelf and floated a little closer to the party.

“Looks like they need our help, Sacha.”
“Most certainly. We know what they need to know, Wyan.”
“We saw him pass… quite some time ago… you need our help to catch him.”
“We know what he is up to, yes. Terrible.”

Curious and disgusted by the foul creatures, the group wanted to know about what the help they offered. The heads promised to show them short cut through the passageways so they could catch up with Merric. They claimed that without their help, it would be too late. When asked what the help would cost, they licked their lips and replied…

“We are so hungry. We need to drink from you.”
“A curse.”
“A terrible curse.”
“Not our fault. The treachery of others.”

Nobody in the party felt particularly comfortable with letting the creatures drink from them, nor were the heads willing to bargain with Morg. Feeling they were at an impasse, the group cautiously moved passed Sacha and Wyan, who continued to beg for a drink and to try and convince them of the need for help. However, they did let them pass. While moving through the room, Jarvix noticed an unusual bone scimitar and collected it, suspecting what he had found, he gave it to Kelvor.

The group made their way slowly through the maze of tunnels and rooms. They encountered many traps and narrowly avoided wandering shades. The dark energy flowing through the passageways served to guide them, but also took its toll, beginning to tax their stamina. It was difficult for them to tell how long they traveled and they began to question their decision to not accept the offer of assistance.

The Return of the King
Finally reaching the end of the twisting, horrifying corridors, the party came to a long hallway, the walls of which were covered in murals made of gems and bone. The murals depicted a male human in black metal armor battling brutish humanoids, with what looked very similar to the city of Tyr in the background. As they moved down the hallway, the human took on more and more draconic features, almost transforming iuntil he matched the image on the amulets of the True. The archway at the end of the hallway had a human figure on one side and a full draconic one on the other.

The archway opened into a large, circular room filled with a swirling cloud of ash. At the far side of the room they saw Merric and three robed figures around a pitted basalt alter. On the altar were four intact obsidian spheres and several broken orbs. Elleandra could feel one of the orbs calling to her orb. Also visible on the altar was the seed from the Tree of LIfe. Off to the sides, partially obscured by the ash a dozen or so True guards could be seen as well.

Morg announced their presence and combat ensured with the guards attempting to stall the party long enough for Merric’s ritual to be completed. Kelvor moved to engage Merric while Gwyn and the others focused their attacks on the guards. Using his skill with the Way, Jarvix slipped passed a number of the guards and pulled the seed from the altar to himself. The guards proved relatively easy to dispatch, but the robed defilers caused a great deal of trouble as the hurled ashen bolts.

Kalak RebornNot long after the combat started, the altar erupted, sending the orbs scattering and a large draconic figure emerged – a resurrected Kalak! Emboldened by his presence the True followers surged forward in a more vigorous attack. Aided by Elleandra and Kelvor, Morg swung his dwarven axe and struck true on the sorcerer-king, causing a massive wound that would have killed any normal person. So strong was his magic, that the wound, while painful, did not slow the beast down.

Kelvor was able to distract Merric with his scimitar and used a spike of psionic energy to cause him to harm himself. The blow from his own short sword was fatal and he collapsed to the ground. Elleandra summoned a jet of silver flame burning Kalak badly and forcing him to start draining the life energy from the robed cultists to restore his own health. The attacks of the sorcerer-king caused Gwyn and Jarvix to fall, but through the magic of Elleandra and Vinara, they were kept from death.

Morg struck the fatal blow on the former king of Tyr, causing his body to fall to the ground and crumble into dust. Elleandra recovered the orb and Kelvor retrieved the short sword form Merric’s corpse. Weary, wounded and grateful to be alive, the group found there way out of the Ziggurat, without encountering Sacha or Wyan, and prepared for a much needed rest.

Ashes of War

Moon Chamber
As Morg, Vinara, Kelvor and Gwyn were recovering from their encounter with the exploding zombies each could feel the Ziggurat come “alive” in different ways. It appeared as if massive amounts of arcane, primal and psionic energy were being channeled somewhere. Although none knew for sure what was happening, they all agreed that it was bad and that there wasn’t much time.

Jarvix and Elleandra moved into the Ziggurat through dim passages. The pair stumbled into their friends and everyone was relieved to see that their friends were alright, at least for the moment. Everyone had a sense of unease and urgency about continuing into the Ziggurat and attempting to stop Merric from resurrecting Kalak.

The group wandered through the passages and descended a flight of stairs sized for something much taller than a human. The eventually reached a large chamber that appeared to be carved from a single enormous block of obsidian. Holes in the ceiling revealed focused beams of pale green moonlight which bounced off of smooth obsidian mirrors. The floor was covered in mosaics of draconic figures in various states of metamorphosis. The room contained numerous clay urns carved to resemble a creature contorted in pain, trying to push the lids free.

Cautiously the group entered the room and moved towards the only exit. As they did so they began to feel energy stir as if the shadows were shifting within the stone. Foul apparitions rose from the clay urns and obsidian floor and walls. Their baleful gazes turned towards the party and the reached out with deadly intent. A few of the specters, sensing the power within Gwyn, Elleandra and Jarvix fled, but the rest proceeded to engage the party.

Most of the spirits were swiftly dispatched, but their large numbers proved to make them a difficult challenge and they moved in and out of the walls surrounding the group. Two of the wraiths were significantly more powerful then the others, radiating a foul cold that pierced flesh. The immaterial forms continued to regenerate and took little damage from weapons and spells used against them. The group eventually felled the spirits, but took many wounds. Vinara was able to heal the group, but they decided to push on deeper into the ZIggurat, rather than loose more time resting.

Fly Trap
Weary, but determined, the party descended more stair covered in tiled obsidian. The obsidian all around them began to glow as if humming with power. The passageway opened a larger room containing a half-dozen cells of various sizes and shapes, their bars composed entirely of obsidian. Each cell contained several gaunt bodies apparently pinned to the the walls, as if the obsidian was slowly absorbing them.

As the party surveyed the room, the tortured voices of the captives gasped and pleaded to be set free. With everyone talking at once, it was difficult to make out what was being said, but several phrases were repeated again and again.

“He left us here!”
“Merric traded us the these reavers for safe passage.”
“They are consuming us.”
“Free us from this torment.”

Wary of traps or deception the group questioned the captives attempting to determine if they were telling the truth. Several of the captives did actually appear to be member of the True, sacrificed by Merric for quick passage through this room, but about a half dozen did not. While the party debated what to do with the members of the True, the other bodies became insubstantial and moved from the walls, through the bars and began to attack. Not completely surprised by this turn of events, the party reacted quickly, but the reavers were empowered by the obsidian and proved to be more dangerous they expected.

Kelvor did his best to keep their attention and was successful although he suffered several nearly-fatal injuries, which only appeared to strengthen the foul undead. Elleandra’s magic kept her opponents distracted allowing her allies to maneuver into better positions, but still the fight took far longer than anticipated as each hero mainly attacked separate foes.

Although the creatures were defeated the combat consumed precious time and forced the to rest and tend to their wounds. The group pulled the members of the True from the walls and they all fled the chamber as quickly as they could. As they rested, the party began to wonder – “Are we too late?”

Ashes of War

Foil the True
Left on their own, Jarvix and Elleandra took a few minutes to rest in relative safety. The continuing attacks of the True could be heard around them. Although she still felt drained and queasy, Elleandra was able to compose herself enough to travel. Jarvix was not much better, still weakened after his near-death experience. The cries of the inhabitants of the Warrens spurred them into action. The decided that it was up to them to put an end to the rampaging True.

Elleandra was able to use her charms to good effect and the people they found in hiding were convinced to follow them and find more secure shelter. Jarvix, having spent a lot of time in the Warrens, was able to point out safer locations that could hide people from the attackers. The pair worked furiously to hold back the attackers and counter their defiling. After what felt like hours they were able to route the attackers.

True DefilerJust as it looked like there would be no further trouble, a defiler with several human and half-giant bodyguards came into view. Calling Jarvix and Elleandra by name he offered them a chance to surrender. Refusing his offer, the two prepared for a deadly conflict.

Weakened by their exertions, they were slow to react, Jarvix took a deep wound from one of the Half-Giant’s bone greataxe. The humans moved in quickly and slashed with obsidian greatswords wounding both. Although they were caught somewhat unprepared, Jarvix and Elleandra were not about to go down without a fight. Jarvix used his powerful abilities with the Way to daze and distract his foes, while Elleandra harried her attackers with her spells. The defiler, pulling life energy from the ground, let loose blasts of fiery darts and crimson fire, causing more injuries to the already wounded heroes.

The guards quickly fell as both Jarvix and Elleandra unleashed powerful mental attacks, Elleandra aided by her newly acquired orb. Despite the loss of his guards, the defiler sensed his advantage and continued to press his attack, drawing more and more life energy to fuel his spells. The constant mental assault eventually proved too much for him and he collapsed to the ground blood running from his ears and eyes.

Into the Belly of the Beast
After the fight, Jarvix cautioned Elleandra with regards to her orb. Although he wasn’t completely sure, he felt that there was something dangerous about it. While they were recovering from their combat, a strange blast of energy erupted from the Ziggurat and Elleandra could sense the powerful defiling energy. She also felt a new wave of nausea that seemed to be coming from the Ziggurat.

The two picked themselves up and headed towards the Ziggurat. Jarvix’s knowledge of the pyramid and the Veiled Alliance, along with Elleandra’s arcane skills, allowed them to quickly locate another secret entrance to the pyramid. This one appeared to have been recently opened as there were disturbances in the dust and sand in the passageway. The pair entered to dark and twisting tunnels, hoping they would find Merric or their allies before it was too late.

Ashes of War

Rending the Veil
The group emerged from the Veiled Alliance safe house into the Warrens. The extent of the True’s attack was evident – the entire district was in chaos with True agents attacking and destroying everything in sight. They reasoned that the only way to track down Merric and the stolen seed was to get out of the Warrens as quickly as possible. Everyone suspected that he might be heading to the Ziggurat, but it was impossible to tell.

They felt the best course of action was to make as quiet an exit from the district as possible towards the Elven Market and then assess the situation. They all prepared for what the thought would be an inevitable fight with the True. As they started to move out, Elleandra suddenly became weak and faint. She was barely able to move at all, and had to be helped by Morg. No one knew what had come over her and they didn’t feel as if they could spare a moment to figure it out.

Gwyn and Morg were able to maneuver past a few True with Vinara acting as a lookout and Kelvor using the Way to help bolster the group’s stamina. About halfway out of the Warrens, they came upon a body that they recognized at Jarvix. He appeared to have been badly beaten and was almost dead. Vinara gave him one of her healing berries which was enough to bring him back to consciousness. Gwyn told her friend of Merric’s betrayal and Jarvix voiced his concerns that Merric may be attempting to use the seed to restore Kalak to life. He recommended attempting to break into the Ziggurat with all haste. To aid them he told them of a secret entrance on the south side that they could recognize by an arcane sigil – the same sigil that Gwyn had tattooed on her back.

Into the Belly of the Beast
Leaving Elleandra with Jarvix, the remaining four companions continued to make their way out of the Warrens. The group made their way quickly out of the Warrens and as the entered the Elven Market then ran across Kivrin who was seeking to escape the chaos as well. The group didn’t share all the details with Kivrin, but were eager to know what he had uncovered regarding the crown. Kivrin told them that he believed the final piece of the crown might be held by Ewalu, a great silt horror consort of Ul-Athra. The crown could be used to restore Ul-Athra and although it could be an ally against the Dragon, the primordial has no love for Athas. If the crown itself could be returned to the Elemental Chaos, and might prevent Ul-Athra from returning to the world.

Free from the Warrens, the heroes quickly made their way towards the south side of the Ziggurat and began to search for the hidden entrance. It took all of their cunning to quickly search for the sigil without drawing too much attention to themselves. The Ziggurat was built to channel powerful arcane energies which clouded her ability to sense magic, but eventually Gwyn was able to help locate the entrance. Morg’s strength, along with Gwyn’s magic was able to open the sealed door.

Dead End Beginning
Withering OneThey entered to Ziggurat and lit torches as they began to wander through a series of twisting and turning passageways. Before venturing too far, Gwyn used her magic to seal the door behind them, not wanting to have anyone sneak up on them from behind. Before long they came across a grisly scene. A small shaft of moonlight illuminated the room before them, revealing dozens of bodies. The corpses faces were contorted in agony with blackened tongues visible between foam-flecked lips. Some of the bodies had the amulets of the True.

Several warped forms were hunched over the bodies, and they slowly turned towards the group as it entered the room. The creatures eyes were unfocused and bits of flesh fell from their mouths as they consumed the bodies on the floor. Gwyn and Kelvor recognized these creatures as Withering Ones – zombies that are used to hunt preservers and who react violently to arcane energies.

Kelvor, Vinara and Morg all moved up to block the creatures advance towards Gwyn. Each struck the creatures with their weapons, but only slightly slowed them down. Kelvor was able to defend himself against their attacks, but Morg was grabbed and the Withering One began to eat at his arm and shoulder. Gwyn conjured a sparkling mist that swirled around and covered some of the zombies, attempting to lock them in place and obscure their vision. When the mist made contact with the creature’s flesh, a blast of necrotic energy emanated from it. This started a massive chain reaction which ultimately destroyed all of the zombies and knocked Morg and Kelvor down, draining them to within an inch of true death. Only Vinara was unharmed, a benefit of the life giving Heartwood Spear.

Vinara quickly used her healing spells to restore Kelvor and Morg, but the group was forced to take another quick rest before venturing further into the Ziggurat. They were hopeful that not too much time had passed for them to stop Merric from completing his objectives.

Ashes of War

Return to Tyr
After a few days of much needed rest, the companions decided to return to Tyr ahead of the first shipment of obsidian from Kled. It had been too long since they left the city and everyone was keenly interested to learn the outcome of the recent war with Urik. The dwarves supplied them with fresh food and water and reminded them of their promise to keep the secret of Kemalok.

Before departing Gwyn was given a magnificent platinum tiara as a gift for her translation of the Book of Kemalok Kings. The crown was imbued with magic that allowed her to retain the knowledge of the ancients, according to the dwarves. Kelvor was given a ancient steel shield of the Knights of Kemalok to defend himself and his allies. Morg was allowed to keep the Axe of Rkard and was given the title of Knight of Kemalok. Elleandra had recovered the orb used by Maetan Lubar and had begun to unlock her talents with the Way.

The four day trip from Kled to Tyr was uneventful during their march through the stony badlands and sandy wastes at the foothills of the Ringing Mountains. Along the road, they met no travelers and began to fear the worst. When Tyr came into view, they stopped to try and observe the state of the city. To their pleasant surprise the banners of the free city could be seen and all looked normal.

Not seeing anything to fear the group made the journey to the Caravan Gate and awaited their turn to be admitted into the city. As they waited they drew many stares for they were clearly no ordinary travelers with their steel weapons and exotic armor. The group was reminded just how far they had come since last leaving the city. As they were allowed to enter, they paid their fees with a single gold metal coin, a rare sight in Tyr, or any other city.

Recent History
Merchant District Eager to find out what had transpired in their absence, the group split up and began to learn as much as they could. They all agreed to meet at the end of the day at Free City Tattoo to share what they had uncovered. The tattoo parlor was opened and Gwyn gave Elleandra a tattoo similar to the ones they had received from the halflings of the Forest Ridge. The Veiled Alliance had become more open, following Gwyn’s suggestion and their participation in the war against Urik had given them some popular support. Gwyn was able to make contact with Jarvix from the Veiled Alliance, who the group shared their tales with. Although he was unable to answer all their questions he agreed to set up a meeting that night with Kivrin at an alliance safe house.

They learned that war with Urik initially went well and the army was able to turn back the forces of Urik before they were able to lay siege to the city. A few days after the heroes left the army marched forth under the command of Rikus. He led them into the plains and surprised the Urikites with their numbers and ferocity. The main army was routed with some of the survivors fleeing to regroup at Kled while the others returned to Urik. Rikus, a former slave in Urik, pursued the forces to the city walls. Emboldened by his victory he lead the army to assault the city itself. Although skilled, he was no match for Hamanu and the few survivors could not tell of his fate, only that they last saw him fighting the sorcerer-king.

Merric was able to arrange brief meetings with several key individuals of the city, attempting to tie up several loose ends. Quick Wenzer, one of the few survivors of the attack on Urik, confirmed the rumors of Rikus’ death at the hands of Hamanu. Wenzer was not actively trying to recruit and train new members for the Tyrian Guard. Master Sintha was pleased and surprised to hear of the upcoming shipment of obsidian from Kled and promised to send a unit of guards to escort the caravan safely to Tyr. Much of the economic turmoil within the city had settled following the war, but the iron mines had yet to fully open making the future of the city uncertain. Agis was pleased to see that the companions had survived their ordeals and was happy to report the the Cistern of Aravek was supplying the city with much needed water. He reported that the king, Tithian, was increasingly absent from city meetings and that the Council of Advisors was starting to push through laws without his approval. No one knews what was occupying Tithian’s time.

Morg went out of his way to contact Castri’s former friend Karlen and inform him of his treachery and loss. Karlen was sad to hear that his friend had succumbed to the temptations of power. He also mentioned that Castri’s mother had been by looking for him shortly after they had left the city. He promised to inform her of the loss of her son.

Kelvor spent some of that afternoon learning of the history of the Ziggurat and the fall of Kalak. He heard the stories of Kalak’s mad desire to complete the Ziggurat nearly bankrupting the city. He learned of the gladiatorial games held on the day of its completion where virtually the entire city attended and was subsequently locked in the area. He heard the stories of terrible magic drawing forth the life of the spectators. He heard how Sadira, Agis, Rikus and Tithian fought the sorcerer-king, killing him inside the Ziggurat after driving him from the arena.

Veiled Surprise
After meeting up at Free City Tattoo and exchanging what they had learned, the entire group left for the Veiled Alliance safe house and a meeting with Kivrin and Jarvix. Each of the heroes was hoping that their questions would be answered at this meeting. Kelvor was hoping that Kivrin might provide him with more knowledge regarding the Crown of Dust. Jarvix had promised to look into the strange Fey Engine that had been discovered in Elleandra’s home, the Land Within the WInds. Merric was hoping the the mysterious sword they had recovered might have some of its secrets revealed. Morg simply wanted his original axe back.

They arrived at the safe house a little early and while they were waiting for Kivrin and Jarvix, the pondered over the rumors of the upcoming levy to the Dragon. The annual event would be the first when the city would not pay the tribute of 1000 slaves since Kalak came to power several thousand years ago. There was a certain amount of fear regarding the consequences of not paying the levy and without a sorcerer-king to defend them, the threat of Urik was but a fond memory.

Jarvix and Kivrin became severely late, something that was quite out of the ordinary for a Veiled Alliance meeting. Just as the group was deciding to investigate, the wood and leather door burst forth and a group of humans and half-giants started to come into the room. Sounds of serious conflict could be heard once the magically warded doors were opened. Somehow the safe house had been compromised!

A vicious battle ensued with the companions temporarily trapped in the safe house. One of the humans made no secret of his defiling ways, withering the plants in the room with each spell he cast. Vinara made a mighty thrust with her spear, a burst of primal power trailing after it. The spear struck true, leaving a mortal wound in his chest. Focusing her mind through the obsidian orb, Elleandra unleashed a psychic assault on the half-giants, the intensity of the attack weakening their defenses.

Although the combat was intense, the battle-hardened heroes were able to easily dispatch their attackers. It was only after the fight was over did they realize that Merric was nowhere to be found. They recalled him moving about the room to attain an advantageous position near Vinara, but after that he disappeared. Vinara quickly realized that the seed from the Tree of Life was missing. They all concluded that Merric had betrayed them and taken the seed for his own purposes, whatever they might be.

As they exited the safe house, the group saw the extent of the conflict in the city. It looked as if the entire district was on fire with total chaos in the streets. Numerous other groups of marauders could be seen moving through the streets. There was no sign of Merric.

Village in the Sand

To Save the Village
When they returned from the catacombs, the party was met with a mixture of awe and respect. They had clearly demonstrated that they had the best interests of Kemalok as their concern. Lyanius agreed to lend their support in the hero’s attempt to overthrow the forces of Urik occupying the village of Kled. After their combat in the quarry, the forces of Urik were alerted to the heroes activities. They were now fortifying their position in the village.

Before they left, the corpse of Rkard, the last king of Kemalok presented Morg with his axe, a magnificent steel weapon. Morg felt the weight of the responsiblity of the gift more than the weight of the weapon itsefl. Rkard gave to Gwyn a tome written in an ancient dwarven language that none alive could translate. Her magic would allow her to decipher the ancient text, given enough time.

Morg and Vinara were each given their own group of dwarf soldiers for support and went out into the village, moving into the city towards the central well. After securing the well from a group of templars who appeared to be attempting to poison the water supply, a crashing sound from the north, the direction of the obsidian quarry, shook the village. They moved into the mine and prevented the Urikites from collapsing the entrance. Along the way they were able to recruit more dwarves, but also lost many in their fierce combat.

Kelvor, Elleandra and Gwyn took their dwarves and moved around the south edge of the city towards the detention area. They were forced to move slowly as they encountered heavy resistance from the Urikites and their halfling scouts. After picking up additional dwarves who were willing to fight, they stormed the detention area to find a great many of the dwarves had been slaughtered by their captors. In one cell they found the body of Chai-Tak, who had apparently been taken captive and executed.

The two groups eventually joined up outside the commanders tent and proceeded in. Having secured the important village locations and cut off all escape routes, they felt confident that the command would have not option but to surrender or fight.

Final Confrontation
Maetan LubarThe dwarf soldiers were left to prevent Urikite reinforcements from entering the battle. The heroes found the Urikite commander surrounded by a number of robed allies and a small group of halflings armed with viscous looking weapons. Introducing himself as Maetan Lubar, he offered a chance to surrender and be spared, which was declined. A deadly combat ensued with many dwarves sacrificing themselves too keep the Urikite troops away from the combat.

Maetan and his robed allies proved to be powerful masters of the Way, causing a great deal of harm to the heroes. His mental powers manifested in their minds taking form of numerous serpents all striking with deadly precision. The halflings used poisoned weapons whose slightest nick caused debilitating pain. The mindbenders used their powers to blind and confuse their enemies.

During the fight both Merric and Kelvor suffered nearly-fatal injuries but managed to not succumb to death. As powerful as he was, and with the assistance of an enchanted obsidian orb, Maetan eventually fell to the group’s attacks. WIth their leader defeated, the remaining Urik army scattered to the deserts. Although tempted to pursue, neither the dwarves nor their leaders were in any shape to make a pursuit across the desert.

Village in the Sand

The Crypts of Kemalok
Tasked with quieting the restless spirits of the ancient dwarves of Kemalok, the group cautiously entered the crypts. If successful they would convince the dwarves of their good intentions and would gain their support in overthrowing the forces of Urik. If they failed, they would likely become the dead themselves.

They found the crypt to be a large central chamber with four side chambers that were partially collapsed from the passage of time. The central chamber had a number of small graves along the walls and one large monument to the dwarves of ages past. All was covered in a thick layer of dust, sand and dirt, with much rubble strewn about.

As the group explored the ruins it became obvious that the monument had become damaged at some point in the past. Speculating that restoring the monument would help quiet the spirits of the dwarves the group began searching for the pieces that would restore it. Morg was able to shift rocks and debris from a large pile in one of the rooms and unearthed what appeared to be a religious icon. As he took it, the ground shifted and an undead dwarf emerged and began to move towards him. Kelvor intercepted and kept the creature occupied as best he could with only his shield.

Undead Dwarf

Morg was unable to determine how to fit the icon onto the monument, although Elleandra had little difficulties working it out. As the party worked to uncover additional pieces, more undead dwarves began to appear and it became apparent that those best suited to restoring the monument were also the best suited to fighting the increasing number of undead. Gwyn with her magic and VInara with her Heartwood Spear were the the most capable fighters, but the undead were ferocious and quickly began to wear down their strength.

Although Elleandra was badly wounded, she was able to slip past one of the undead to search for the final piece to the monument. Kelvor fell to the constant attacks of the undead, although Vinara was able to revive him with her healing magic. Eventually finding it, Elleandra raced back to finish the repairs on the monument with the last of strength. As she did so, the undead halted their attacks, gave a nod of acknowledgement and departed the tomb.

Alone on A Hill
Chai-Tak had been alone in the hills overlooking the village of Kled for many hours. He had at first enjoyed the wonderful meal that was the remains of his former opponents, a patrol of the forces of Urik, but soon the boredom set in and he missed his new clutch. He began to wander in the hills, careful to stay out of sight on the off chance that another patrol was nearby.

Without warning Chai-Tak nearly ran into a halfling wearing the red tunic of the army of Urik. Equally surprised to see a lone thri-kreen, both stood starring at each other for a moment. Suddenly the halfling launched a javelin at Chai-Tak, but it flew wide. Chai-Tak drew back on his greatbow and loosed an arrow, striking the halfling squarely in the shoulder. A fierce combat ensued with the halfling charging into melee and Chai-Tak attempting to keep some distance and use his bow.

Chai-Tak was able to land a number of hits on the halfling without suffering too many injuries himself. The toughness of the halfling was such that he appeared to ignore most of the wounds. Eventually the scout landed a series of blows with wicked daggers and another javelin, which was tipped with a poison. Chai-Tak was quickly worn down and eventually collapsed, his last sight was the halfling looming over him with a hungry look in his eyes.

Village in the Sand

An Occupied Village
After leaving the Lands Within the Wind, the group found themselves standing beneath an arch of golden sandstone, taking what shelter they could find from the white-hot sky. Below them was the dwarf village of Kled. The blazing heat was comforting to all in the group except for Elleandra, who was unaccustomed to such conditions.

Dwarves of KledThe central plaza of the village, with a jagged edge of curving salients that resembled tongues of flame, could be seen from their vantage point. The circle was paved with cobblestones of crimson sandstone and a small windmill with slowing spinning sails could be seen in the middle of a round plaza. With each rotation, the mill pumped a few gallons of cool, clear water from a deep well and dumped it into a covered cistern.

The residences of the village were arranged in a series of concentric circles enclosed by a single low wall of red brick. The huts themselves were made of rounded red flagstone walls. The buildings stood only about five feet high, and none were covered by any semblance of a roof. Their interiors were visible and stone tables, benches, beds and other furnishings could be seen.

Looking out of place were several huts constructed of wooden and cloth just outside the city. The banners of Urik and House Lubar could be seen fluttering in the afternoon breeze. A large number of soldiers, all wearing the red tunics of Urik were marching in and around the village. Kelvor estimated the there were about 200 soldiers occupying the village of about 400 dwarves.

The group quickly realized that there was virtually no chance of a successful assault on the village and so they decided to ambush a patrol and sneak into the city to attempt to contact, or start, a resistance to the occupation. After moving to a better location to ambush a patrol, they waited patiently under the hot sun until their prey appeared. Although they were hidden well, the patrol was alert and ready for trouble. A brief combat ensued between them and the forces of Urik, lead by a templar and his half-giant guards.

Gwyn dressed herself in the templar’s robes and Morg and Kelvor made makeshift outfits from the half-giant’s tunics. The rest of the group donned the garb of the soldiers and they all headed into the village. Because of Chai-Tak’s size and appearance it was decided that he remain behind. Kelvor was able to lead the party past several Urikite patrols. Morg used his gift with the Way to eavesdrop, attempting to find the dwarves they had freed from the Urikite templar on the way to the Cistern. Eventually they heard that Niva and Marok were being forced to work in the obsidian mines.

The Obsidian Mines
Still disguised as a templar and guards, the group made their way from the city into the foothills of the mountains towards the obsidian mine. They were briefly stopped along the way at a guard station, but Gwyn was able to bluff her way past the guards with very little difficulty. Once the mines were reached, more guards were convinced to fetch Niva and Marok for “interrogation” by the templar.

Taken out of sight, the two dwarves were relieved to see Morg and his companions and told of the occupation of Kled by a powerful psionicist named Maetan Lubar. Although the dwarves did not like the occupation, they were unwilling to cause trouble for the forces of Urik or do anything that would endanger their village. During this exchange an mine Overseer challenged Gwyn for taking away his workers during their shift. She put on her best act and succeeded in turning him away with an arrogant flip of her hair. Confused by this stubborness and illogical attitude the group started to make their own plans for attacking the forces of Urik. The dwarves were adamant that nothing endanger the safety of the village.

Just as the the group was about to leave the mines and head back towards the village to start trouble, the Overseer returned with a number of guards, prepared for combat. It appeared that Gwyn was not as convincing as she thought. Although the skilled forces of Urik fought well, they were little match for the seasoned veterans of the desert and the combat was over quickly. Niva and Marok were in awe of the the groups skill, especially that of Morg who they claimed fought like a warrior of legend.

The dwarves escorted the party out of the mine area and south of the village. Just as the sun was setting, they arrived at a hill of sand partially covering a section of ruins. What they saw at the hill was barely comprehensible – two dwarves wearing full plate armor made of steel and holding steel great axes were standing guard over two enormous bronze doors. With a few words the guards allowed the party to pass through the doors and into a cool tunnel.

The Ruins of Kemalok
The tunnel they moved down was lined with wide strips of animal hide, gray and cracked with age. The lining was supported with wooden beams to keep the sand from cascading in an burying the excavation. The corridor was so low that everyone had to practically crawl through it. Eventually the tunnel opened into a small chamber, where a makeshift camp had been set up.

A venerable dwarf emerged from a tent and greeted Niva and Marok, he was introduced as Lyanius, the village Urhonomus. The previous exploits of Morg and his companions were retold as well as a description of the fight with the mine overseer. Nodding throughout the telling Lyanius welcomed the group to the ancient dwarven city of Kemalok

“I found Kemalok 200 years ago when I happened upon a short section of parapet the wind had uncovered. I knew instantly that I had uncovered a dwarven city form the time of the ancients. The merlons were too short for your people, and the stonecraft was far beyond anything the paltry mason or our age can achieve."

“I spent the next century and a half excavating the ruins, first working alone and eventually coming to be a leader of an entire village focused upon eventual reestablishment of Kemalok.”

“Since the arrival of the Urikites, our work on Kemalok has nearly halted, robbing us of our focus. We cannot let them discover its location and plunder its treasures. The spirits of our ancestors have become restless with the presence of the Urikites, futher hindering our ability to make progress.”

“I believe that you may have the ability to calm these restless spirits and if you can, you will prove that you are truely heroes and we will fight the Urikites along side of you.”

Morg was especially unnerved by his comments, but the group agreed to follow the old dwarf. The tunnel opens up into a small chamber. The path they took lead to a small stone walkway that looked as though it had once been a bridge. Beside the causeway lay more than a dozen weapons of various materials. Several of them looked to be quite ancient, judging by the rot of their wooden handles or the yellowed brittleness of their bone blades. Lyanius commented often as they made their way through the excavation.

“The remains of those who entered here uninvited.”

On the other end of the bridge, there was an arched gateway in a magnificent stone wall. Inscribed into the stone were several strange runes which none could read. A few feet above the gateway hung a portcullis of rusty-red iron. It was supported by thick iron chains that disappeared through a set of openings into the gatehouses that flanked the pathway. The walls of these buildings were constructed of white marble, so finely cut and carefully fit together that even a sliver of torchlight could not have slipped between them. The group was impressed with the craftsmanship from another age.

“Beyond this gate, place your trust in the strength of your friendship, not the temper of your blade. You may go no further unless you leave your blades behind.”

The group deposited their daggers, axes and sword outside the gatehouse, except for Merric who refused to go unarmed. As the group moved through the archway, a chest-high figure steped from around the gatehouse corner. It wore a complete suit of black metal plate mail, trimmed at every joint in silver and gold. In its hand the figure held a battle-axe of polished steel with scintillating lights and its helm was capped by a jewel-studded crown of galeaming white metal. The only thing visible of a face was swaddled in green bandages, and the eyes burned with a glow as yellow as the afternoon sky.

“This is Rkard, the last of the dwarven kings. Show him you bear no weapons and he will let you pass.”

On the other side of the gatehouse, a confusing warren of tunnels branched off in a dozen directions, leading down what had once been the grand avenues and hidden alleys of a sizable metropolis. The greatest part of Kemalok still ay buried under mounds of sand, but enough of it showed to see that most of the buildings were constructed of granite block. The five-foot doors and narrow, chest-high windows left no doubt that this had indeed been a dwarven city.

Eventually they came to another bridge leading to a gate. This bridge was made of wooden planks, half-rotten and patched here and there with the wide, flat ribs of a mekillot. An immense set of iron doors blocked further passage once the bridge had been crossed. Lyanius pushed open easily, as much a testament to his strength as the engineering. A short tunnel lined with chest-high arrow loops leads to a series of vaults, revealing the outer bailey of a once great castle.

Passing through this area, the party was able to peer into what had been the shops and homes of the castle’s smiths, tanners, fletchers, armorers and dozens of other craftsmen. Their tools, made mostly from steel and iron, still hung in the racks where they had been neatly stored thousands of years ago. The amount of metal the party saw was staggering and beyond anything they had ever seen, or dreamed.

Moving through another gate and into the inner bailey, they arrived at a courtyard before a square keep of white marble. The keep rose high overhead and the roof was lost in the sand overhead. At each corner of the keep stood a round tower, its arrow loops commanding much of the courtyard below.

“The Tower of Buryen, home to the dwarven kings for 3000 years.”

On each side of the entrance foyer sat a pair of stone benches, one sized for the short legs of the dwarves and one for the longer legs of humans. In the corners stood full suits of dwarven plate mail, the shaft of a double-bladed battle-axe gripped in the armor’s gauntlets. Both the armor and the weapons were made of polished steel, gleaming as brilliantly as the day they had been forged.

Vinara noticed that there was no sign of life in the suits of armor and that they were much too small for a dwarf. Although they were about the right height, they were far from broad enough for the massive shoulders and bulging limbs typical of the dwarven race.

“Our ancestors were not as robust as we are today. They even had some hair.”

The next area they moved through was a huge hallway running the perimeter of the keep. The floor was arranged in a pattern of polished black and white squares. At even spaces along the walls, tall white columns supported the vaulted ceiling above. Between each set of arches was a mural painted directly onto the wall.

The first painting before them portrayed a dwarf dressed in a full suit of golden plate armor, a huge warclub cradled in his arms. From beneath his golden crown cascaded a huge mop of unruly hair that hung well past his shoulders. That was not the “worst” of it, either. His face was lost beneath a thick beard that started just below his eyes and tumbled in a tangled mass clear down to his belly. The party was shocked as such a depiction of a dwarf.

“Come along! I didn’t bring you hear to mock my ancestors.”

Dwarf of the Green AgeThe other murals in the hallway portrayed grossly bearded dwarves as well. The paintings usually depicted dwarves standing in the somber halls of dimly lit keeps or in the dark chambers of some vast cave. The last mural in line depicted the guardian of the city, King Rkard. Like the figure that met them at the city gate, the dwarf in the painting had golden-yellow eyes and wore black plate mail trimmed in silver and gold. His helm was crowned by a jewel-studded crown of strange white metal. In his hands, the picture king even held a battle-axe identical to the one carried by the gate-guardian. Behind Rkard, the ground sloped down a gentle hill blanketed by the green stalks and red blossoms of some broad-leafed plant. At the bottom of the slope, a wide ribbon of blue water meandered through a series of lush meadows. In the fields grew food crops of every imaginable color and shape. In the far background of the painting, the river finally disappeared into a forest of billowing trees ranging in color from amber to russet to maroon. Behind this timberland rose a mountain range, its peaks and high slopes strangely covered with white.

“Dwarven artists painted only what they saw.”

Finally the group reached a pair of massive wooden doors so infested with dry rot that it was surprising they still hung on their hinges. Despite the deterioration of the doors, the strange animals carved into each one remained handsome and distinct. The snarling beasts resembled bears, save that, instead of the articulated shells armoring the creatures, these were covered with nothing more protective than a thick mat of long fur.

“Beyond these doors lie the crypts of Kemalok. Here the spirits of our ancestors are unquiet. Go forth and put their souls at ease. If you convince them, then you shall have earned our help against the forces of Urik, and proven that you are heroes.”