Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas

Red Moon Hunt

Entrance to Gulg
Although the party had recovered some of their strength from the fight with the Gulgans, they were in no shape to contend with the well-trained Nibenese forces. The keen eyes of Elleandra and Kira gave the party enough warning to leave the area before the troops arrived. They quickly gathered the clothing of the nganga and judaga foes and Kira summoned the bird spirits to take them to safety. They flew northeast above the Crescent Forest towards the city-state of Gulg. After about an hour, the spirits began to fade and the party set down.

Morg told his allies all that he knew of his former city-state as they donned the gear of the Gulgan warriors. They decided that the safest course of action would be to leave Way-lynn and Iorskan outside the city as dray and half-giants were rarely seen. The rest of the party would enter the city-state by the Queen’s Gate, meet up with the Veiled Alliance contact, procure survival days and spell components and then leave the city.

The spirit eagles landed a few miles outside the city and the party headed towards Gulg from the south. Their first sight was the 20 foot tall hedge of tightly woven razor-sharp brambles, the Mopti Wall. As they approached numerous guards could be seen but the group was allowed to enter the city without any significant challenge. A feeling of unease came over Elleandra as she moved closer to the city – she could feel the anguish of the nature spirits enslaved by the sorcerer-queen. Jarvix directed them to the House of Outsiders where he was to make contact with the Veiled Alliance.

After arranging the meeting and purchasing some supplies they waited for the Veiled Alliance contact to show in a secluded section of the dagada. As they waited, the light crowd dispersed until they were all alone. Suddenly a large group of judagas surrounded them and demanded that the party accompany the warriors to have an audience before the Oba. Out numbered and still weakened from their earlier encounters, the party did not resist.

As the party was escorted deeper into the city, they were awestruck by the lushness of Gulg but also its primitive appearance. The city itself consisted of circular mud and thatch huts arranged into the dagadas – small community groups. Along the way, the party passed near to the city’s arena – the Field of Spears, but their attention was quickly drawn to the center of the city, where an impossibly gigantic agafari tree could be seen. Perched in its highest branches was a wondrous sight – Lalali-Puy’s palace. Beneath the bright and beautiful palace, deep in the shadows, the party could make out the houses of the nganga – foreboding and grim, decorated with ghoulish embellishments, bones, dessicated trophies, and the like.

Entering through the trunk of the mighty tree the party was led up winding stairs. At length, they entered a gleaming white, high-ceilinged chamber. Various slaves, courtiers and soldiers stood around the room, and at one end grew several large, gnarled trees which the party recognized as trees of life. “Abase yourselves in the presence of the Forest Queen!” bellowed a voice. At the other and of the room, seated on a throne carved from the wood of the agafari tree, was Lalali-Puy herself.

“Welcome bold adventurers!” She began with a heavy accent. “We have been told of your bravery and many adventures. We would hear one of your tales as told by you.” There was no mistaking her words as a request and Jarvix told of their encounter with Abalach-Re and her transformation. His tale was slightly embellished to downplay their involvement and ended with Lalali-Puy defeating the dragon. The sorcerer-queen and others in the hall appeared pleased with the story.

“Ah!” She breathed, “It is everything we had hoped for. Please, brave adventurers, accept our hospitality for a few days as an expression of our gratitude. Enjoy your stay in our palace. Everything you see is for your use and pleasure.”

Trouble in Paradise
City-state of GulgWith that the party was escorted to a guest suite where they were reunited with Way-lynn and Iorskan, who had been discovered earlier by a patrol of Gulgan soldiers. Although they were unharmed and allowed to keep their weapons, it was clear they were prisoners and would not be allowed to leave the palace. Jarvix attempted to use the Way to get help, but it was blocked by some power greater than his. Elleandra assisted Kira in communing with nearby plants and animals and received confirmation that the sorcerer-queen and her templars were controlling most of the spirits of nature for their own dark purposes.

They next day the group roamed throughout the palace. Compared to all the other area of Athas they had seen, this was a lush, tropical paradise amid the broad branches of the agafari tree. They found large, luxurious huts, vast meeting chambers, pleasant sitting chambers, and a magnificent view of Gulg and the Crescent Forest beyond. Colorful birds filled the air with song, and iridescent lizards and insects decorated the mighty tree’s trunk and branches. The party was housed in great luxury, and were offered numerous delicacies and as much water and wine as they could drink.

As they rested back in their rooms, they had a visitor who introduced himself as Habban the Fetish Keeper, chief Nganga. Habban was very interested in Elleandra, her background and her magic. They conversed for several hours and it became apparent that he was much more interested in gaining information than giving it. Although he appeared confident, Elleandra sensed that he was rather insecure in his position and nervous about her and her companions.

The discussions were cut short when the party was interrupted by Mogansho the War Chief who was sent to bring them before the sorcerer-queen. They were asked to tell another story and this time Iorskan spoke about their encounters with the forces of Dregoth from the island of Waverly to the ruins beneath Giustenal. He mentioned the return of Kalid-Ma and the mirror they used to escape, both of which the queen and her court listened to intently. At the conclusion of they story, they were dismissed again.

The next day passed much as the previous day had and once again they were summoned before the queen and her court. This time Jarvix told the stories they had learned about the Cleansing Wars, the champions and their tasks. He used many of the sorcerer-kings’ true names during the telling and this caused Lalalai-Puy to become visibly annoyed for a few seconds. There was a brief moment when the party was tempted to start a slow clap, but the mood of the queen stopped them quickly. One member of the queen’s entourage, Shala the Hunt Mistress, spoke up apparently taking offense at the implication that the Oba was anything other than the Forest Goddess. She suggested the party be punished for their disrespect, but the request was not granted and the party was allowed to leave once again.

The following day Kira assumed the form of a colorful songbird and attempted to scout some of the areas of the palace they had not been allowed to enter. She uncovered a library filled with spellbooks of dragon magic and other mundane tomes. Another room held artwork of ancient origins, showing places and creatures never seen in modern times. The last room was a menagerie containing creatures from all over Athas. She returned shortly before the party was summoned before the queen for next story.

This time, the queen’s throne room was almost empty except for the queen, Habban, Shala, Mogansho and another woman. The queen addressed the party with a severe tone in her voice, “So, you have chosen to reject the hospitality that we so generously offered. What are the charges?” Habban spoke first accusing Elleandra of being an evil spirit of nature sent as a spy. According to him the rest of the party was guilty of treachery by not reporting her to the templars. The other woman, Taibela the Chief of Thieves, accused Kira of violating the restricted areas of the Palace and communing with evil nature spirits. Then Shala the Hunt Mistress slyly interjected, suggesting they give the prisoners a fighting chance by having them participate in the Red Moon Hunt in two nights. At this Lalali-Puy smiled and nodded ordering the party to be taken to the dungeons.

Mogansho began to lead them down from the throne room into the dungeons beneath the great agafari tree. The party began looking for an opportune time to escape…

Red Moon Hunt

Taking Flight
Before the party turned around and headed southwest towards their goal of Rafernard’s Forest, they had a serious discussion about what they were trying to to and how they were hoping to accomplish their goals. The sorcerer-kings were the problem and through their reckless use of defiling they had destroyed the world and the group felt that diminishing their power and influence would help start the restoration. Jarvix complied what they new about the various sorcerer-kings and attempted to rank them in terms of power.

Jarvix received a reply to the message he sent the Veiled Alliance in Tyr. Mathias said that Tyr was fine, although the political infighting continued, Kled and the Tree of Life there were still safe and it appeared that the Dragon had finished its collection and returned its domain. Mathias also passed along a Veiled Alliance contact in the city-state of Gulg – a woman named Narissa.

The discussion moved to whether to take the road, making better time but risking more encounters with the forces of the sorcerer-kings, or to travel more slowly overland. Kira reminded her friends that she could possibly summon bird spirits that could move them at great speed through the air, as she had done in the Shadow Tomb. With the help of Morg, Elleandra and Way-lynn, Kira was able to summon enough spirits for the entire group, although they took the form of kestrekels and gave everyone an uneasy feeling.

Kestrekel Spirits

The Battle of the Sorcerer-Kings
The spirits took them swiftly east towards the site of the battle of the sorcerer-kings, where they hoped to gain more information on what happened with Abalach-Re. They made the 125 mile trip in just over 8 hours and touched down in an area of scrub plains on the edge of a verdant belt on the southern end of the Crescent Forest. They located the battle site with ease, as the land had been turned to ash from defiling magic and the corpse of Abalach-Re still remained.

Kira used her magic to speak with the surviving plants and few animals that remained in the area. They related much of what happened during the battle of the sorcerer-kings that took place here. Kira relayed the information and they were all horrified to learn that the three sorcerer-kings knew much about them and their activities. The actions of Lalali-Puy put their minds at ease regarding the possible return of Abalach-Re, but the entire description of the time left them uneasy.

Kira also saw images of the sorcerer-kings and was shocked that although Lalali-puy and Andropinis appeared to be human, the Shadow King of Nibenay was very draconic in his appearance. There was only speculation as to why he was allowed to progress in his transformation when Abalach-Re was being hunted.

While processing the information and preparing to take flight again, a dozen individuals emerged from the nearby scrub brush and quickly surrounded the party. Morg immediately recognized them as judaga (headhunters) and a nganga (witch doctor) from Gulg. Without a word the two groups started attacking each other.

The battle was bloody, with the Gulgan forces far stronger than the party anticipated. It was all that Jarvix and Iorskan could do to keep everyone else alive. Way-lynn proved capable of keeping most of the judaga focused on him, his body assuming the form of unworked stone. Morg struck hard and often at the judaga, a fierce sirocco scouring even the distant enemies. Jarvix used the Way to move his enemies about consolidating them into one area where Elleandra could unleash her magic upon them. Kira shifted in and out of her tiger form, alternately attacking them with spells and claws.

The judaga lasted far longer then the party expected and they came dangerously close to being defeated, but eventually the headhunters of Glug fell. The party took a moment to catch their breath and Elleandra rose up on wings of magic to check if the area was clear of other hostiles while Kira prowled around as well. Their hears sank when they spotted a group of soldiers clad in the raiment of Nibenay. By the time the party regrouped, the Nibenese forces were on them, although they did not appear immediately hostile…

Rampage of the Dragon Queen

Attacks in the Night
Moving as quickly as possible the adventurer’s headed out from Altaruk towards Tyr. They had already been marching for many hours, but they pushed on as best they could. After three hours they decided to stop and take shelter in the rocky terrain. Morg took watch while the others rested and regained their strength. After a few hours Morg spotted a patrol of Balic legionaries that were following the same path and heading into the rocks. Morg woke his companions and they prepared for battle.

Rocky Badlands

The legionaries consisted of praetor, a half-giant and half a dozen soldiers. Jarvix briefly contemplated attempting to talk with the praetor, but at the last moment he changed his mind and lashed out with the Way, catching the soldiers off guard. The rest of the party followed his lead and unleashed a flurry of attacks. The soldiers were tough and stood their ground neither running nor being overwhelmed.

Morg was immobilized by the praetor’s magic and the soldiers surrounded Kira and Iorskan knocking Kira unconscious at several points. Elleandra kept working her magic and distracting the soldiers with visions of flesh-devouring spirits while the rest of the group continued to eliminate the soldiers.

In the heat of the battle, the half-giant turned on the Balic soldiers and started attacking the praetor. The party was thoroughly confused by this, but gave the half-giant space and watched him carefully. With only one soldier left, Jarvix made obscene thrusting gestures towards him as he tried to use the Way to finish him. Either as a result of fatigue from the long march or extreme overconfidence, Jarvix slipped and fell off the rocks injuring himself instead of his target. However, with their new ally, the Balic forces were finally defeated and the party was able to catch their breath and meet their new ally.

New Allies and New Directions
The half-giant introduced himself as Way-lynn and told Jarvix and the others how he had been in the army of Nibenay and more recently a guard in Altaruk, but now was looking for a way to help stop the sorcerer-kings. He witnessed and survived the attacks of Abalach-Re on Altaruk so knew first hand the magnitude of his self-appointed task. The party realized that they had seen Way-lynn before in their visit to Altaruk before heading to Rafernard’s Forest. Happy to have another strong warrior with them, Iorskan and the others accepted him into their group.

Way-lynn filled in the party about the attacks on Altaruk by Abalach-Re and the deaths of Arisphistaneles, Selonius and Culler. Way-lynn also confirmed that the three sorcerer-kings did fight and kill Abalach-Re between Altaruk and Gulg. Jarvix contacted Birk and learned that the party was wanted by the forces of Gulg, Balic and Nibenay. He also learned that Birk and Arnye had defeated Tethrades and recovered the Crystal of Ebon Flame, but that it was lost in the turmoil following the attacks on Altaruk.

As they rested, they discussed their next move. Their original plan to head towards Tyr now felt like a long march in the wrong direction. Although they wanted information from the Veiled Alliance, there was little else to be gained there. Iorskan told the party about his desire to find his clan’s old stronghold and try and unite the dray outcasts into an army to help fight the sorcerer-kings. The stronghold was located in the Black Spine Mountains between Nibenay and Cromlin.

Feeling that this was one of the only concrete actions they could take to further their goals, the party agreed to help Iorskan. They decided that after a good nights rest they would turn back and head towards Altaruk, but try and avoid the trade fort and any complications with the forces of Balic encamped there. With luck they hoped to reach the relative safety of Rafernard’s Forest.

City by the Silt Sea

The Dread Palace
With a look of satisfaction Li-Am took Kalid-Ma’s hand and accepted his offer, revealing his true intentions to continue serving as the sorcerer-king’s templar. The rest of the party was shocked at his betrayal, although there was little time to ponder this, as the battle continued.

Kira switched from Absalom and attacked Li-Am, wounding him greatly, but he still found the strength to stand. Kalid-Ma swept the room with his claws and then began to draw the life out of his enemies. Elleandra was overwhelmed, fell unconscious and then died. Although blinded by Kalid-Ma’s attacks, Jarvix sprinted out of the room, as if answering a call that only he heard.

Iorskan and Morg continued to attack Absalom, eager to finish what they had started. To everyone’s surprise, Elleandra rose from death, an odd light about her. Completely restored to health by a lingering blessing from her time holding the Crystal of Ebon Flame, she tried to attack Kalid-Ma, but found herself unable to break through his defenses with her magic.

Li-Am turned on his former allies and attacked them with his spectral weapon and magic. He wounded Kira, Iorsakn and Morg, and killed Absalom with his combined attacks. Kalid-Ma continued to attack, biting into Iorskan and Morg, and knocking Iorskan to the floor. Only Morg’s incredible toughness allowed him to keep fighting.

The room rumbled and the main doors opened to reveal another massive dragon, whose decaying form could only be that of Dregoth. He let loose with a blast of necrotic energy aimed at Kalid-Ma, but that was large enough to injure most everyone in the room. Li-Am fell to the ground, unable to keep standing with his injuries.

The party was on the verge of despair, when a large portal opened in the room and they could see Jarvix on the other side, concentrating hard, but motioning them towards him. Not wanting to die again, Elleandra used her magic to become insubstantial and slip past the few remaining dray guards. Along the way she stopped by the unconscious Li-Am and grabbed the Skull of Dorag Thel.

Morg, having seen too many foes return from the dead, moved over to Li-Am and proceeded to hack at him with his Axe. Satisfied that he was truly dead, he grabbed the Shadowstaff and moved through the gate dragging the unconscious Iorskan with him.

The Planar GateThe party found themselves in a large room with walls covered in bookshelves overflowing with books and scrolls. One wall was dominated with the large ornate mirror through which they had just stepped. Jarvix appeared to be in contact with the mirror and began to concentrate to try and change the mirror’s focus. Kira grabbed several nearby books, having learned the potential value of the information contained within them. Before Jarvix could complete his work, Dregoth stepped through the portal squeezing his massive form into the library.

Dregoth let loose a blast of defiling magic and the entire party doubled over in pain as their life energy was drained from them. Unwilling to risk further attacks by the undead sorcerer-king, the party joined hands and jumped through the portal, which was flashing seemingly random locations that they had visited. With a scream of rage, they left Dregoth behind and hoped that he would not be able to follow them.

Rafernard’s Forest
The adventurers opened their eyes and looked around, immediately recognizing their location – they were in the central plaza within Rafernard’s Forest. It looked much as it had when they had left it following Abalach-Re’s transformation over a month ago. The land surrounding the skull tower was still defiled and there were remains of hundreds of corpses.

They quickly retreated into the forested areas and found that food and water were still abundant. After tending to their wounds, taking stock of their gear and getting some much needed rest, they started out towards Altaruk, where they hoped to find friends and get information on what had been happening in this part of Athas since they left.

Their rest was not interrupted and their journey across the hot desert between the forest and Altaruk was dusty but otherwise uneventful. When they reached Altaruk, they found that it had changed significantly. The walls were badly damaged and instead of the usual guards, the Legions of Balic now stood watch. Elleandra used her magic to charm one of the guard captains and learned some of what had happened here.

According to the guard captain, Abalach-Re had attacked the fort and was driven away, although when she attacked again the defenders fell. The vast majority of the guards were slain in her attacks as were several prominent leaders. The guards also told how Abalach-Re was defeated by the combined efforts of Andropinis of Balic, Lalali-Puy of Gulg and the Shadow King of Nibenay. Lastly the party learned that they were wanted by Andropinis for breaking into The Ivory Dungeon several weeks back. Fortunately Elleandra’s charms prevented these guards from turning them in, but they decided to not linger and headed out on the road to Tyr.

City by the Silt Sea

As the silt skimmer approached the ruins of Giustenal, Jarvix had some time to review what he had learned from the writings recovered from Waverly. Although he found no mention of dragons, avangions, or Rajaat, there were some discussions of other champions. Dregoth was mentioned as the Ravager of Giants and Kalid-Ma was named as the Minotaur Terror. One champion, Myron, was called the Troll Scorcher and he was apparently killed and replaced by Manu who took on the same title. None had heard the name Manu, but it had a striking similarity to Hamanu, the sorcerer-king of Urik.

When the vessel finally arrived at Giustenal, it slowed to maneuver among the ruins of the city which stretched out into the Sea of Silt. The hordes of undead were unloaded and sent off into the ruins and the party and the other captives were escorted up to the surface. There they could see the massive city of Giustenal half buried by the Sea of Silt and positioned at an odd angle, as if the entire city had been sunken. Off in the distance a haze created by boiling tar pits blocked most of the view of the ruins.

The party waited on what appeared to be an old wall and was told that they would be momentarily taken to Absalom. The dray captain cautioned Jarvix about using the Way and informed him that their books and other heavy gear would be carried down for them. The party was tempted to escape, as there were only nine guards including the captain, but decided against it as their options for getting off the wall were not apparent.

Within a few moments a platform rose from the ruins of a tower connected to the wall and another party of dray, half of whom appeared to guards joined the first group of guards. The other half of the party appeared to be outcast dray and were assigned the menial task of carrying the books and mundane gear of the party. Once all were positioned on the platform one of the guards, who appeared to be a defiler, spoke words of magic and the platform began to descend through a series of tunnels.

Morg studied the walls and was amazed to find they were not constructed by any craft known to him – they appeared to almost have been grown. Jarvix was studying the walls as well when he suddenly appeared to dissociate and then collapsed to the floor of the platform, visibly shaken by something. There was no opportunity to discuss his condition as the platform moved through a series of tunnels. After a few minutes, the platform leveled out, moved horizontally and then stopped at the entrance to a massive cavern.

New GiustenalNew Giustenal
The entrance to the cavern was secured by a massive gate and two towers. The gates were made from a combination of stone and large bones, giving the entry way a grand and ominous appearance. Dray guards could be seen in the towers and as the party approached, the gates appeared to open on their own. As they approached, the more observant members noted that the bones of the gates appeared animated as some horrific golem and that was what caused the gates to open.

Beyond the gate the adventurers were amazed to see a small city spreading out before them. As they were escorted through the city, they saw sights that they might see above the surface. Merchant shops and other businesses were mixed with residential areas along a large central avenue. Although the buildings were familiar, the inhabitants were all dray.

The party could make out a magnificent structure made from gray stone with crimson scales, trim and other draconic decorations. In the center of the building a large steeple could be seen, decorated with dragon scales. The doorway was carved to appear to be a dragon’s mouth, with the portcullis being formed by the creatures teeth. This was a temple of the Dragon, where the faithful gather to hear the words of Dregoth.

The wonder continued as off in the distance the party could see fields of strange plants and pens of even stranger beasts. The most amazing sight was a large river of cool, clear water, flowing through the center of the cavern. The river was over 200 feet wide and numerous floating ships could be seen moving up and down the visible section. This was another of the many gifts that Dregoth had bestowed upon his chosen people, according to their guards.

Beyond the river were more homes and shops but as the avenue rounded to the left a strange forest was visible on the right. Trees were growing from the ceiling, their limbs reaching down and stretching out into a canopy of leaves, their roots winding their way upward. The trees were bearing fruit.

More wonders of the city were revealed to the party as they continued. A beautiful building of ivory sandstone was capped in black obsidian, as towers of similar design rose behind it at varying heights. The party’s eyes were drawn away from that structure to their final destination: a stark and oppressive structure set behind a wall of black obsidian, its surface decorated with giant bones. A huge ribcage of bones made a walkway from the gates to the palace.

The guards led the party through the ribcage of bone and up through a massive set of doors into an entrance hall. The massive doors were opened and the party was taken into a huge chamber made of gray marble inlaid with a turquoise image of a dragon. Atop a stepped platform sat a throne of polished marble. The guard captain left them in the company of the other guards to go find Absalom.

Although their guards were attentive, the did not appear to care if the party explored the room or talked amongst themselves. Jarvix took this time to tell the party about the vision he had on the platform. They had a brief discussion but it was cut short by the arrival of Absalom. He was a tall dray with black scales and appeared to be not entirely alive. He carried a large sword in one hand and an obsidian Orb in another.

He greeted Li-Am and Iorskan, thanking them for delivering the party. He promised that Iorskan would be the general of the outcast dray, and that Li-Am would be the high templar of Dregoth. The party was taken aback and unsure of where the loyalties of their two friends were. Without warning Li-Am and Elleandra dove for the Orb, attempting to wrest it from his hands. Neither was able to secure the Orb but it created a momentary distraction and Kira shifted from a small lizard into her favorite form of a tiger and pounced on Absalom, savagely ripping into him.

Jarvix emanated a hypnotic ripple of psychic influence among the dray, stunning the majority of them, while conjuring a shard of nothingness to hold them fast. Iorskan let his true loyalties be know and orchestrated a devastating coordinated attack on Absalom as he called out “You did a shitty job of making these dray!” Elleandra made another grab for the Orb, but Absalom twisted away and Elleandra summoned illusory barriers around him causing him pain when he attacked. Morg called upon his reserves of strength and made a strike at Absalom at an odd angle catching the dray off guard and wounding him deeply.

Absalom teleported to a more advantageous position, slashing at Iorskan and siphoning his spirit. As Iorskan’s spirit faded, some of Absalom’s wounds healed. The dray guards rushed in attacking Elleandra and Morg. and wounding them deeply. Jarvix and Iorskan attempted to keep their friends standing despite the damage being inflicted on them. Iorskan attempted to keep Absalom’s attention on him by continuing to insult Absalom’s potency as a dray.

The battle continued back and forth until Elleandra finally managed to grab Absalom’s Orb, a look of triumph on her face. Before she could merge the Orb, Li-Am snatched Absalom’s Orb from her. The party breathed a collective sigh of relief as the all too real prospect of the return of Kalid-Ma suddenly didn’t feel like a good idea. Still urged on by her Orbs, Elleandra tried to grab the Orb back from Li-Am, but was unable wrest it from his hands. Li-Am turned her lunge to his advantage and barely managed to get a hold of her Orb. With a swift motion and a smile on his face, Li-Am combined the Orbs.

With a pulse of dark energy and a snapping sound, the Orb flared and cracked issuing forth a stream of black smoke. Helpless to do anything except watch, the smoke coalesced into an ordinary seeming man. Within a look of satisfaction on his face, his body grew and changed into a magnificent and terrifying form of a mighty dragon composed of living shadow, a being of darkness and defiling magic – a creature of nightmares. Its large hand extended towards Li-Am “Your loyalty will be rewarded, you shall be my High Templar”. Too stunned to react, all the party could do was wait to hear Li-Am’s response…

Flight to Giustenal

Ruins of Waverly
The crew of the Dusty Breeze began to repair the vessel, moving a quickly as possible for the presence of the large Dray force on the island. Although the ship had supplies to make repairs, they would not be able to make more repairs should the need arise. The party decided to venture into the island to gather more supplies and explore a bit while the crew was working.

The party headed out in a but quickly realized that they had very little idea where they should go. Elleandra used her magic to fly upwards and get a better idea of the layout of the island. She spent only a short time in the air to reduce the risk of being seen, but was able to see several promising areas that might provide supplies. They decided to head towards the southern end of the island, where there appeared to be more plant life.

After many hours moving across the island and searching Kira discovered a small stream of foul water emerging from behind a large pile of rubble. The rubble was easily cleared and a passageway was revealed leading under the ruins of the city. The sewer captured the interest of the party and they proceeded in after Jarvix used the Way to check in with Captain Daclimitus on the repair progress.

After an hour of so of searching, the encountered a group of Dray in a chamber. Although the Dray were surprised to see the adventurers, they were not immediately hostile and the two groups had a guarded conversation. Iorskan became the spokesperson for the adventurers as the leader of the Dray would not condescend to talk with the other party members.

The party learned that the dray were on a mission for their god, Dregoth, although they would not disclose any specifics to the party. They did appear to almost be expecting Iorskan and suggested that they present themselves to the dray encampment to be judged worthy. There were subtle intonations of other, darker, events taking place, but the party was unable to get more information, as they had not been deemed worthy yet.

Fearful that if they left the dray alone that the party’s presence would be reported to the main dray encampment the party decided to take action. The dray put up a good fight, but proved to be no match for the adventurers. Kira and Li-Am prevented the leader from casting any spells and finished off the majority of the soldiers. Morg took several serious injuries but Iorskan was able to keep him alive.

Lost Lore
After recovering from the fight, the party spent several more hours in the sewers attempting to discover what the dray were up to. Their investigations were yielding no results and they were just about to give up when a faint glow caught their attention. Following the light, they came upon a large room off of the main sewer line occupied by a half-dozen spectral figures.

Ghosts of WaverlyExpecting trouble, the party was relieved to find that the spirits were not immediately hostile to the group. Elleandra spoke with the spirits and discovered that they had perished almost two thousand years ago when Uyness, the ruler of the city, betrayed them and left the city in ruins.

Elleandra was able to convince the spirits that she and the rest of the party were on a mission to restore the world. The spirits offered the party their choice of either riches or knowledge. Although some were tempted by the riches, they eventually decided that the knowledge would be the best choice. The spirits lead them through twisting passages eventually arriving at an apparent dead-end. Iorskan and Li-Am were able to uncover a hidden door which opened into a large room filled with books and scrolls.

When the party tried to enter the room they found that Li-Am and Elleandra were unable to enter the library. The ghosts explained that the library was warded against arcane magic users. Those two waited while the others searched the library for any useful information. The majority of the writings were historical records of Waverly and it appeared that Uyness of Waverly might have been another named used by Abalach-Re. Other records appeared to have more information related to the Cleansing Wars but the party did not spend time to review everything they found. While the literate adventurers were scouring the books, Morg noticed that there were a large number of metal candlesticks, scroll cases and other paraphernalia and helped himself to as much as he could carry.

After gathering all that they could, the party started retracing their steps through the sewers and back to the landing point of the Dusty Breeze. The day had been long and the party pushed themselves hard to reach the landing as quickly as possible. When they reached the ship, they found it destroyed and the crew missing. It was not difficult to put together what had happened as there were numerous Dray footprints near the wreckage. Jarvix risked attempting to contact the captain with the Way and was relieved that he was still alive. Daclimitus said that he and the crew had indeed been captured and were being help and the Dray encampment.

The Dray Encampment
The party took some time to recover their strength and formulate a plan for rescuing the crew and getting them all off the island. Once they had agreed, the party began marching west towards the Dray encampment, with Kira shape-shifted as a songbird and scouting ahead. They encountered nothing but a few wild animals on their journey until they were near to the camp and a patrol spotted them.

Iorskan demanded to see the camp commander and pretended to be delivering the rest of the party to the camp commander. Much to the surprise of the party, the ruse appeared to work and they were allowed entry into the camp. Li-Am and Iorskan were escorted to a comfortable tent while the rest were hauled into a pen on the north side of the camp where many other prisoners, including the crew of the Dusty Breeze were being held.

Kira remained shape-shifted and was able to move about with relative ease. She relayed information to those in the pen. She reported that Li-Am and Iorskan were being treated well and had toured the camp with several disturbing revelations. Firstly, the Dray forces were amassing an army of undead and dray to begin to lay siege to Balic and the other city-states. These Dray were of a different breed than those seen in the Tyr Region (which they called outcasts) and had the outcasts performing all sorts of menial tasks for them. Secondly, the undead that they were creating were from the former inhabitants of the island as well as any non-humans that this army had captured. They were being interrogated and then slain and raised as zombies to be disposable troops. Finally, the humans that were captured were being sent back to Giusetnal to undergo transformation into Dray. The party learned that Absalom had perfected this process and they believed he was so successful by using an Orb of Kalid-Ma.

Before too long the captives and a large number of undead were loaded into one of the Dray ships and the vessel began its journey to Giustenal. Iorskan and Li-Am were aboard as well and being treated as honored guests. Kira, still assuming animal form, followed along, unsure where the loyalties of Li-Am and Iorskan were and unable to help those help prisoner by the Dray. After a week-long journey the vessel came within sight of the ruins of Giustenal.

Flight to Giustenal

Swift Departure
Early in the morning, the party was awoken by Maserak telling them that it was time to go. They were to meet their contact, Captain Daclimitus, at the eastern most dock. He would take them where they wished to go. Maserak cautioned that the Captain was trustworthy, but not a member of the Alliance.

Maserak was visibly shaken and informed them that time was of the essence because he believed that a group of Templars was on their way to the hideout. He feared that they had learned of his location at the Thespian House. The party suggested that he come with them, but Maserak was unwilling to abandon his post. The party had no wish to get involved with a fight and left him behind and they fled.

Although the morning was still early and the winds had picked up blowing fine silt into the town, the party was unlucky and the Templar patrol spotted them. A swift pursuit ensued with the party heading towards the Harbor Precinct. The party made excellent progress, pushing themselves to the limits of the endurance. Although not very familiar with the streets of Balic, they were able to distract their pursuers.

Elleandra made use of her magic skills while within sight of several local shopkeepers setting up for the day and she was not careful enough to disguise her abilities. The phobic shopkeepers were horrified by the display of arcane power and a small mob quickly formed around the party, attempting to overpower the party. Li-Am, Jarvix and Morg attempted to escape the mob, while the rest turned to face them. Their intent was to not harm the people and eventually they demonstrated that they were beyond the abilities of the mob and it dispersed.

The short engagement with the mob did not allow the pursuing Templars to catch up to the party and the group was able to reach the eastern most dock. They found their ship waiting for them as promised and were greeted by a man who introduced himself as Daclimitus. Daclimitus provided some basic ground rules for the voyage and then they set out on the Dusty Breeze, a craft powered by a psionic orb and capable of levitating above the silt.

The Sea of Silt
Out on the Sea of Silt, the party settled into a routine. Most stayed out of the way of the crew as much as possible and kept below deck. Jarvix was keenly interested in the psionic helm and spent his time learning how it worked. Iorskan spent his time above deck, for he alone was made uneasy and somewhat ill by the Journey. During the first day the vessel rounded the Dragon’s Palate on the south side to avoid the majority of the outposts of Balic and then headed into more open silt.

During their second day, a terrible silt storm raged halting them for the day. It was during this time when all were below deck that the party had an uncomfortable series of conversations. Li-Am was confronted about his past and his recent actions. Jarvix lead the questioning but the others in the party supported him. The primary concern was his recent obsession with the Skull of Dorag Thel and his intentions regarding it. Jarvix felt that it would be better in another’s possession. Only Morg spoke out in support of Li-Am, to the surprise of Jarvix, and pointed out that nobody was questioning the motive of Kira or Iorskan, who they had known for the same length of time. Li-Am said that he would have none of the conversation and refused to take part in any further discussion. As a show of trust Morg presented Kira with the Heartwood Spear that he had been carrying since Vinara’s death.

Silt HorrorThe third day was calm and the Dusty Breeze was able to get underway again. However, their travel was briefly halted when the ship came under attack by a giant Silt Horror. The beast latched onto the ship and started to pull it apart and attack the crew and passengers. The party was able to successfully defend the ship and prevented any of the crew from being dragged into the silt. Daclimitus surveyed the ship and found it to be capable of travel, but suggested they make for the island of Waverly for repairs and supplies. Trusting the Captain’s judgement, the party did not argue.

The remaining journey to Waverly took another four days. The winds continued to swirl up silt, but the ship was able to continue moving. During these days, the party mostly kept to themselves, as there was still tension regarding their earlier conversation. There was a brief discussion on where exactly to go after Waverly. Li-Am suggested making landfall sooner near the Pristine Tower and making an overland journey to Giustenal through the Beastbarrens. Another option was to round Giustenal and land in the trade village of Cromlin. A decision was not reached by the time they reached Waverly.

Isle of Waverly
According to Daclimitus, the Isle of Waverly was a long abandoned city that was commonly used by Silt Sailors for resupply of fresh water. There were no permanent settlements on the island and an unspoken covenant allowed sailors to come and go with little fear. When the isle came into sight, things were not as the captain said they would be.

A large encampment was visible on the western beaches and dozens of humanoids could be see seen moving about a large number of carefully laid out tents. The humanoids were large and could barely be made out to be Dray. There were banners laid out in the encampment each with the symbol of a large dragon skull with its eyes closed – the sigil of Dregoth.

Confused by the presence of the Dray, Daclimitus rounded the isle to the south and made landing on the western shore. Hopeful that they were not noticed, the crew began to make repairs as quickly as possible.

Flight to Giustenal

Arrival in Balic
The outlying farmlands were some of the most lush and productive lands the party had ever seen. Grain fields, vineyards, olive groves and pastures stretched as far as they could see. The Road was well maintained and patrolled. In the fields slaves and land owners could be seen working side-by-side. The differences between Balic and Tyr were too numerous to count and almost too much to comprehend.

At the Great Gate, the party was stopped and briefly questioned by the Legionaries and Praetors on duty. Although the party knew the officials were searching for something, it did not appear to be them and they were allowed to enter the city with a casual warning against causing any trouble within the city. They first sight inside the walls was over the Megaleneon, towering above the rest of the city.

The Megaleneon Inside the city they hired a guide and transportation to take them into the Market Precinct to meet their contact in the Veiled Alliance. As they traveled across the city from west to east they became familiar with the different precincts and their guide was happy to answer some of their questions. They moved through the Arena Precinct and the slave market of House Jarko eventually ending at the Criterion. Turning northwards they entered the Harbor Precinct and were able to get a good view of the Arsenal and The Slave Auction. Finally rounding the base of the Megaleneon they moved into the Market Precinct, through the Agora, near the Elven Market and passing the warehouses of Wavir, Rees and Tomblador.

The Thespian House
Without any trouble the party located the Thespian House and entered, hoping that their luck would continue to hold and they could arrange for passage out of the city. The party entered the common room outside of the performance hall and took seats. When they could do so discretely, they asked for Maserak and within a few minutes a half-elf approached their table and gave the sign of the Veiled Alliance, which Jarvix returned. After a few more formalities Maserak was satisfied with their attitude and appeared more willing to answer their questions. The party was still somewhat on edge as Maserak appeared to be very reserved and somewhat paranoid.

The party received very little information from Maserak about Tethrades. Although he know of him, Maserak had no current information or idea about his whereabouts. All he knew was that he hadn’t been seen in the city for quite some time. The party, especially Morg, was frustrated by this apparent dead-end. Somewhat taken aback by their anger, Maserak said he would check in with some others who might have more information.

The transportation out of the city was equally frustrating for the party who had hoped for a quick exit from Balic. Maserak said that he could help them arrange passage on a silt skimmer but that it would take several days before the vessel was ready. His explanations about the need for discretion in a city-state still ruled by a sorcerer-king appeared to fall on deaf ears. Eventually the party accepted the reality of the situation.

Maserak then asked for a show of good faith by the party and had a mission for them. A Veiled Alliance member in Balic had gone missing months before and was believed to be held in The Ivory Dungeon. Fearing that she would eventually crack under torture, Maserak wanted the party to enter the Dungeon through a secret entrance, locate the operative and eliminate her before she revealed any of the Alliance’s secrets.

This mission did not sit well with most of the group and they felt as if there was more going on then they were told. Eventually Maserak was able to convince the party that it was necessary and that the Veiled Alliance simply didn’t have the resources to conduct a raid – the presence of an experienced group of adventurers was too good of an opportunity to waste.

The Ivory Dungeon
Maserak’s directions were vague at best, but the party headed into the Agora late at night to try and locate the secret entrance the Ivory Dungeon. Kira used her shapechanging abilities to locate the secret door after Jarvix had narrowed down the possible entrance points. The door was protected by both physical locks and arcane wards. The locks were beyond the skill of Iorskan, but Li-Am was able to bypass them without too much difficulty. Elleandra was unable to get past the arcane protection, but with the help of Morg, Jarvix and Li-Am the protections were burned out, although each suffered some injuries as a result.

Once inside the Dungeon, they began to search for the operative, Zaldanis, without attracting any attention. Jarvix’s knowledge of building designs allowed them to make good progress towards the prison cells while Kira was able to navigate some treacherous sections of the Dungeon with ease. As they traveled through, the stark beauty of the white marble walls and polished bone bars was not lost on them. At any other time, this building would have been a wondrous sight. Eventually the party reached the prison cells and Iorskan attempted to get the location of Zaldanis out of a prisoner with threats. The prisoner complied, fearful of the powerful Dray and the party found the operative with relative ease.

Knowing what to expect, the party was able to bypass the protections on her cell and freed Zaldanis. There was a brief debate on what to do with her. She had obviously suffered much in the prison and the majority of the party felt sorry for her and decided that the right thing was to return her to Maserak alive. Just after reaching the decision, a half-dozen guards arrived, apparently tipped off to the party’s actions by the prisoner that Iorskan threatened.

A deadly struggle ensued between the party and the guards. Although the guards were well-trained and well-armed, they were no match for the experienced adventurers. Elleandra personally slew two of the guards and the rest fell to the combined attacks of the party. The last guard used some arcane talent to disappear as the combat concluded. They party could not detect where he had gone. The party decided to make a run for the secret door and flee the Dungeon before more guards found them.

As they readied to leave, the rest of the party found Li-Am over the corpse of Zaldanis – he had slain her during the fight. Horrified by their “friend’s” actions there was a brief confrontation. Li-Am’s explained that he completed the job they agreed to do and that there was nothing more to it. Had they not been ready to flee for their lives, they would have pressed the issue, but for now they grabbed the body of Zaldanis and ran.

The party ran faster than they had thought possible and managed to avoid any other patrols, although they were exhausted when they reached the secret door. Exiting back into the Agora, they closed and attempted to seal the door before heading back to the Thespian House. Safely arriving they informed Maserak of their success and presented him with the body. Visibly saddened by the loss of his friend, he nonetheless congratulated them on accomplishing their task, something that the Veiled Alliance in Balic needed but was unable to accomplish themselves.

House Wavir
The party rested that night in the safe house beneath the Thespian House and in the morning Morg and Iorskan headed to the House Wavir compound to make some additional inquires about leaving the city. They were also eager for any additional news and Morg was hoping to be able to recover some of the money that he had loaned the merchant house months ago to fund the expedition to find Vault of Darom Madar, which had ended in failure.

Morg was pleased to be reunited with Rhotan Vor who appeared to genuinely happy to see the mul, despite some lingering bad feelings between the two. Rhotan had apparently returned to Balic after closing shops in Tyr and had been doing well for himself. Morg was frustrated to learn that his money was gone and there was no way to get it back. He was ready to leave when Iorskan struck up a conversation.

Although they had never met, Iorskan had some dealings with House Wavir before and appeared to be on good terms with them. Iorskan produced the coins from House Madar that he had taken off the half-giant assassins sent by Tethrades in Altaruk. After some discussions and much speculation, Iorskan and Rhotan arrived at an interesting theory – Tethrades may have a connection to House Tsalaxa.

House Tsalaxa ambushed Rhotan’s expedition to recover the treasure from the Vault of Darom Madar. It was always suspected, but never confirmed, that House Tsalaxa found the Vault later and recovered the wealth, explaining how their influence had increased so quickly. The only known source of House Madar coins would be House Tsalaxa and with the agents of Tethrades in possession of those coins, it reasoned that Tethrades was working with House Tsalaxa.

Rhotan Vor knew of the approximate location of a House Tsalaxa compound between Raam and Draj. The party’s current plans were to enter the ruins of Giustenal, just on the other side of the Bay of Maray off the Sea of Silt. Rhotan happily gave the location to Morg and Iorskan, hoping that they could deal a blow to House Tsalaxa, which would indirectly aid House Wavir.

That afternoon the party quietly purchased supplies for a month-long journey across the Sea of Silt. Deciding to not draw too much attention, they spread the purchases across several merchant houses. The rest of the day was spent in the Thespian House, in case there were any Praetors searching for the group that had infiltrated the Ivory Dungeon.

The next morning they prepared to depart Balic…

Rampage of the Dragon Queen

Three days later…
He waited alone several miles off the People’s Road, having left his praetors and servants behind. They were carefully hidden and he had no fear that they would be found by her. They were capable, well trained and smart enough to know when they would be no help. Plus they, like all in his city, were expendable. He had no fear for he did not care for them. He did fear what was about to happen, for a threat such as this had not been seen in the last 12 centuries. He feared meeting the other two, for they had not meet since the fall of Dregoth some 1700 years ago. Still, he was a powerful defiler and master of the Way and would not be easily defeated this day. He was, afterall, Andropinis the Dictator of Balic.

Lalali-PuyHer keen eyes spotted the old man and saw that he appeared fit and well. She could tell that he had gained in power since their last meeting, the golden and slightly reptilian features gave that away. She guessed, correctly, that she had progress further than he had and felt a moment of pity for Andropinis, for this encounter might prove too much for him. She felt only a little hesitation as she stopped near him and nodded slightly. The spirits she had consulted prior to their departure all agreed that this was where the confrontation would take place. The hot sun burned down on her dark skin, but she barely noticed – she was Lalali-Puy, the Oba of Gulg and such mundane forces were not a concern.

The bright light and hot sun was a stark contrast to the dark and cool libraries that Nibenay had spent time in during the majority of the last millennia. He was loathe to leave them behind and other plans of his were coming to close to completion, but the situation demanded his attention and the others would need his assistance in order to defeat their former ally. She had tried to accelerate the process and succeeded. She neither remembered or cared about the insanity that followed such a transformation and that made her very dangerous. His path was safer, his path would not destroy the rest of the world, he only had to be patient.

Andropinis and Lalali-Puy were visibly startled by Nibenay’s appearance. They knew he had grown in power but had not realized the extent. He towered above them and wore his draconic appearance with pride. “Where is Unyess?” Nibeany asked without any attempt at courtesy.

“You know she be ’ere very soon. Da spirits never been wrong before; they no be wrong now. I sure, you know dis.” Lalali-Puy responded with not attempt to conceal her dislike for Nibeany.

“Of course I have methods, Inenek, and my results agreed with yours, which is the only reason I’m here. If this had been another of you endless attempts to deceive me, we would not be speaking now.”

“We be putin’ aside our differences Gallard. Dis be som’ing more important.” Lalali-Puy said, using Nibenay’s old name.

“We did.” Andropinis interrupted. “We agreed to deal with Uyness and put an end to her rampage before she can do any more damage. She will be here any moment, if your divination is accurate. Then we can be on our way.”

“Only after we exchange information regarding the adventurers who failed to stop her.” Nibenay reminded the others. “They are a variable that we have not accounted for. If what we have ascertained is true, they will have much to answer for.”

“O’ly one of us be gettin’ to them first, and da spirits say dat it be me.”

A disturbance on the horizon stopped their conversation short. Moving quickly eastward, the shape grew larger and larger. It was unmistakable, it was Abalach-Re the Dragon Queen.

Abalach-Re looked down at the three fools who dared stand against her. Despite her insanity, she knew the faces of the three but did not care that they had stood together to overcome impossible threats before. She cared nothing for their history and she cared nothing for the future. The hatred in her knew no limits and would not be satisfied until she had consumed everything. The Crescent Forest would be a fine starting place. All she had to do was eliminate these three and she would be unstoppable.

She flew down with powerful thrusts of her wings straight towards Lalali-Puy, but changed direction at the last moment and turned on Andropinis, catching him offguard. “Die old man!” she screamed and unleashed a torrent of attacks, blasting him backwards. He was completely unprepared for the power she possessed and she continued to assail him, attacking all of his defenses.

Lalali-Puy countered with her own attacks, but found that they were far less effective than she expected. Despite unleashing a gale of spirits, Abalach-Re remained relatively unharmed. Nibenay fared only slightly better, lashing out psychically and dazing the dragon queen. Andropinis managed to stay afoot and used his powers to not only attack, but also to infuse his two allies with strength and power, while summoning the spirits of loyal Balican soldiers to guard him.

Eventually Andropinis’ defenses failed and he was briefly disabled by her attacks. After regaining his footing, he worked to stay at a greater distance, outside the range of Abalach-Re’s powers but still close enough to able to affect her. Nibeany managed to keep her immobilized with his relentless attacks and his own shroud of shadows kept her from attacking him. Lalali-Puy bore the brunt of the dragon’s attacks, but it was only a matter of time before the battle was concluded.

Nibenay, Lalali-Puy and a severely injured Andropinis stood over the lifeless form of Abalach-Re. The ground around them was barren and covered in black ash which stirred in the slight breeze. They regarded her with mixed feelings, for while she had to be stopped, her death was another reminder that the world was changing and that their power was not as absolute as it once might have been.

Lalali-Puy, without a word, bent over the corpse and pulled out a long obsidian dagger. She reached down and cut out Abalach-Re’s heart from her chest. She quietly stowed it in a thick leather pouch at her waist and then returned to the others.

As they rested and tended to their wounds, they discussed what they knew of a group of adventurers. Each had heard different stories form their spies and informants. Other information had come through merchant houses and dune traders who had seen and encountered them. This group, originating in Tyr had shown themselves to be resourceful, powerful and lucky. None of the three knew what the groups goals were, but each had a strong desire to find them for their own purposes.

If the rumors were true, this group was actively working to destabilize the existing power structures and succeeding rather effectively. The sorcerer-kings had spent too long trying to maintain a delicate balance and if this group thought they could disrupt the balance without consequences, they had made a mistake. A mistake that could ruin everything.

Rampage of the Dragon Queen

Two weeks earlier…

It was early morning when the gongs sounded the call to battle. Birk and Selonius had just finished escorting the last of the non-combatants out of the fortress and into the mountains a few hours ago. The gongs could mean only one thing, Abalach-Re had returned.

Zul and Arnye heard the gongs and sprang to their feet. Fear set in among the remaining guards and those who had offered to stay behind. The two muls tried to reassure them, but their words were of little comfort. Everyone knew what was about to happen, but still had hope they would be lucky and drive the Dragon Queen away one more time.

Arisphistaneles and Culler had just finished another call for help. His contacts with the Veiled Alliance in Tyr and the patricians in Balic were willing to aid the vital trade fort, but it would be days before they could arrive. Culler had tried to reach out to the giants, for even though they were at odds, the rampaging dragon was a threat to all. They refused to help, hiding away and hoping that the threat would pass them by. Help was needed now and it would not come.

Defenders of Altaruk
They all gathered in front of the eastern walls and prepared for battle. All of them had sacrificed much to make Altaruk a prosperous trade outpost as well as a bastion of enlightenment in the harsh lands. There was little hope, but still they had to try, if for no other reason than to prevent Abalach-Re from finding the civilians and merchants who were hiding nearby.

She came again, dropping down out of the sky and using her terrible defiling magic to skill scores of the guards at a time. Already diminished from the first attack, their numbers were just too few. Arrows were unleashed, Arisphistaneles used his magic and the rest hacked at her legs, but most attacks bounced harmlessly off her thick scales. She continued to slash with claws and consume them with horrible defiling magic.

Culler was performing her own hit and run attacks on Abalache-Re and providing an excellent distraction even when her attacks missed. Then, the dragon struck Sundiver with a series of attacks, knocking him out of the sky.

Birk saw Culler torn apart, her head separated from her neck with a powerful bite. Zul was working with Selonius to keep the others fighting using words of encouragement and the Way. The injuries were coming too quickly and were too severe for them to counter. Seeking to put an end to his efforts the dragon focused on Selonius and he was her next victim. With a powerful thrust from her tail, he pierced through his chest and crumpled to the ground.

Arnye charged in to draw her attention as she was starting to show signs of fatigue. He parried several attacks, but his weapons were of no use against her defiling magic and he collapsed under a volley of psionic attacks. Birk, ever at his side, was overwhelmed shortly thereafter and collapsed, face first into the defiled ash forming on the ground.

Then the dragon landed near Zul and began to tear into him with claws, sharper than steel swords. He fell into merciful unconsciousness, his last sight was Abalach-Re turning towards Arisphistaneles.

It was no accident that Arisphistaneles was the last to fall. The Dragon knew of him and relished his agony at seeing his friends cut down. Still he continued to hurl energy missiles at her, each one causing a small wound.

Birk rose to his feet and spat blood and sand from his mouth. How long had he been unconscious? What had happened? Looking around at the destroyed buildings that were once Altaruk, the memories of the last few hours came back to him and he wished that he had remained unconscious.

Zul woke as the few survivors began to trickle back into the remains of Altaruk. He struggled to his feet and began to organize the few guards. Once word of the attack got out there would be attacks by all sorts of raiders, looking to steel anything of value that survived the attack. He would not allow that to happen under his watch.

Arnye was found by Birk and nursed back to health over the next few days. The two friends were grateful to be alive, but deeply saddened by the loss of Airsphistaneles, Selonius and Culler. Neither knew what the future would bring for Altaruk, but it would never be the same again.