Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas

The Road of Kings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Road of Kings

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

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

Stony Barrens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Ruins of Yaramuke

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

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

Banoc, Way-lynn and Phyll had more success and discovered a cave entrance in the side of a small cliff. Alerting the other half of the party, they headed in. The cave showed signs of inhabitants, and they were quickly discovered to be gith. The gith tried to ambush the adventurers, but it was no contest. After having slain all but two of the gith, the party explored the rest of the caves and discovered a room with gith young cowering in fear.

Taken aback, the party tried to make amends, but the gith were not willing to trust those who had invaded the caves and slaughtered their family. In the morning the party left, leaving the gith and their treasure behind. Phyll created extra food for the gith, to appease the guilt.

Ruins of Yaramuke

The Temple of Earth
Banoc and Phyll used their magic to try and learn about the ruins and what else they may encounter there. Banoc’s elemental spirits lead him to believe that the palace was protected by powerful magics making it difficult to discover even when the city wasn’t in ruins. Phyll sensed a strong elemental presence and the party headed towards it, having no better course to take.

Eventually they found what appeared to be the entrance to a temple. The doors were barely visible and covered in an immense pile of sand and rubble. The party and the refugees worked for several hours to clear it all out and gain access to the interior.

Inside the discovered several rooms each containing an ancient relic from the past. One room contained an ancient fountain that still had stale, but drinkable, water. Another room appeared to be a workshop of some type that had several desiccated corpses.

The final room held an altar to the elements of earth and resting atop was a large crystal sphere made to look like an eyeball. Pictograms of mountains and earthen wonders decorated the white of the eye. As the party moved to take the orb, a corpse emerged from the shadows . The party recognized it as a dwarven banshee and prepared for combat. The creature instead spoke, warning the party to not disrupt the eye.

The conversation continued and the party learned that the dwarf was tasked to place the eye atop a tower which allowed Sielba’s palace to be blessed and its location revealed. As the tower was destroyed the dwarf was unable to fulfill his focus and became cursed to undeath. The dwarf was stubborn in death, presumably as it was in life, and unwilling to entertain alternatives to his focus.

The party pondered how to obtain the eye…

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The Ruins of Yaramuke

Ruins of Yaramuke

WIth the ruins of Yaramuke the adventurers have embarked on a quest to recover knowledge stolen by the sorcerer-queen Sielba from druids and preservers of old. They hope to use the knowledge to reverse a powerful curse on the nearby Black Waters Oasis and possibly to bring about a new Green Age of Athas. They race against the hours as their survival supplies are limited an the cursed refugees continue to wither, despite the efforts of Banoc and Gwynn.

At the Temple of Earth, the party wrestled with how to obtain the Earth’s Eye from the Dwarven Banshee guarding it. They had learned that in order to reveal the location of Sielba’s palace, they would need the Earth’s Eye and the Cerulean Orb in their proper places as sunset. However, the structures had been destroyed when Yaramuke was sacked by Hamanu, making it impossible for task to be completed. After all their attempts to reason with the creature had failed, Daqiq resorted to sleight of hand, but the Banshee was not deceived and attacked. The party was easily able to defeat the undead and gained possession of the Eye.

The following day, the group continued to explore the ruins, discovering a cave inhabited by silt runners. The weak reptilian humanoids were easily defeated by Banoc and Jax who took their supply of water for their own. Gwyn and Way-lynn were less successful in finding anything of interest, but were affected by some strange magic which hurled Way-lynn into the air and caused Gwyn to temporarily grow a third eye.

In the afternoon, the party unearthed the ruins of a museum containing many displays of art from the past. After exploring rooms filled with mirrors and statues, they removed rubble blocking a chamber containing many different orbs of all makes, shapes and colors. Using a dagger they found the templar barracks days earlier, they were able to deduce which of the orbs was the object of their quest.

Now in possession of both Earth’s Eye and the Cerulean Orb, the party only needs to discover how to use them to reveal the palace of the sorcerer-queen…

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The Ruins of Yaramuke

The party continued to explore the ruins in an attempt to location the proper positions for Earth’s Eye and the Cerulean Orb, and although they encountered many difficulties, they faced no opposition. Gwyn detected a spectral sensor that was trying to spy on her. Banoc fell into a trap and found himself stranded in the Astral Sea for some time. Phyll fell into a sinkhole and would have suffocated had he needed to breathe. Daqiq and Way-lynn discovered a warehouse with construction supplies and an unstable floor filled with obsidian shard lined pits.

Jax located the statue with an outstretched hand that accepted the Cerulean Orb and they were confident they found the location of the tower to hold Earth’s Eye. As the tower was in ruins they didn’t know the height that was needed to reveal the palace of Sielba. Banoc communed with his elemental patron and narrowed down the location, but when the sun set the beams did not converge.

Their night was interrupted with screams so horrible they none were able to get rest. The following day they continued their search and discovered a mural depicting the statue and tower as it was during the rule of Sielba. With this information they could accurately place the Eye. And at the next sunset, the beams united to reveal the entrance to Sielba’s palace.

Visitor's Center

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The Ruins of Yaramuke

With the last rays of the setting sun, the Cerulean Orb and the Eye of Earth blazed to life and illuminated the entrance to the palace of Sielba. The party decided to leave the refugees in the gith cave as they were deteriorating quickly and would likely be of little use in the palace. Banoc feared that without additional intervention by Gwyn, the refugees would not last more than 2 days.

The party made their way through the palace finding little of interest, save for some loose coins and half-giant skeletons that appeared to be guarding long-forgotten chambers. Much to Phyll’s dismay, there was not sign of the druidic lore rumored to have been sequestered by Sielba. A secret door was discovered leading down to a lower level and Daqiq lead the way.

The lower level held the treasury of the sorcerer-queen and many more skeletons, who were alerted to the groups presence by a crack of thunder created by Jax. Banoc blasted the majority of the skeletons into dust and the rest were destroyed by a combination of Gwyn’s magic and Way-lynn’s weapons. Hundreds of metal coins of all types were found in the rooms and they all loaded up as much as they could carry.

Palace Treasure

In a magnificent bedroom, which they assumed belonged to Sielba, another stairway leading down was uncovered. As hour was getting very late, they only briefly looked below before retreating to a safe room to try and rest before exploring further

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The Ruins of Yaramuke

In the ruins of Sielba’s palace, they party found no rest, for what they thought were the denizens of desert that were howling and screaming was more in their minds. This haunting persisted and they eventually gave up and continued to search the lowest level of the palace. There they found something more precious than the gold above – knowledge. Sielba’s chambers were filled with wonderous knowledge of magic, nature and otherworldly machines. There were also tomes of history that appeared to contain knowledge of Athas that none but the sorcerer-kings knew. They, somewhat reluctantly, dropped most of their coins so that they could bring this knowledge back to the surface.

Banoc discovered a powerful scroll that he was barely able to decipher. This Scroll of Blue Waters appeared to be capable of reversing the curse on the Black Waters Oasis as well as restoring those who had drank from it. They needed to be journey to the oasis to use it, and the spell was so complex that Banoc was not sure he could successfully use it. Knowing that their refugees were running low on time, they hurried back to the surface.

Their path was blocked by animated obsidian statues that appeared to have been activated by the group attempting to leave with the treasure. Although the party could have defeated them, their animation also triggered a collapse of the ceiling. Daqiq lead the charge with Phyll and Way-lynn covering the rest of the party as they attempted to escape. Jax was brilliant and used her magic to temporarily banish the golems from Athas to avoid the majority of them. Gwyn used her staff to create an impenetrable wall of force blocking their pursuit.

Eventually clear of the ruins and running as fast as they could through the rising heat of day, the party reached the gith water cave and began to mobilize the refugees. They could only hope to reach the oasis and complete the spell before the golems caught up with them.

Ruins of Yaramuke

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Black Waters Oasis

After a long, slow march from the Ruins of Yaramuke to the Black Waters Oasis, the party encountered a strange hermit named Phabum who they learned was a druid that tended the Oasis. The party was able to convince him to assist in the purification of the water and they began to cast the spell from the Scroll of Blue Waters. As they did so, hundreds of undead began to rise from the ground and attack the party.

Phyll protected Phabum and Banoc as they worked to complete the ritual. Daqiq and Way-lynn attacked the undead, attempting to thin the numbers as best they could. Gwyn used her magic to summon a ring of fire around the casters, attempting to shield them from attacks while blasting other undead with fireballs. Jax used her magic to push back the mass of undead and summoned spiritual guardians to protect the party as they fell back into the oasis to protect Phabum and Banoc.

Desert Storm

The spell was completed and the scroll melted into water and the oasis turned a healthy shade of blue. Some of the zombies faded into dust, but those remaining become rejuvenated and are alive once again. A thundercloud formed above the oasis, lightning crashed, hitting the monument, and rain fell for a few moments. Phyll caught Banoc and Phaebum as they fell to their knees, exhausted. The rain renewed the refugees’ health and Gwyn and Way-lynn found that they were now fully alive.

All enjoyed the cool, clear waters of the Oasis and discussed where they would go next…

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Blue Waters Oasis

The discussions continued late into the night. The success a purifying the water and the brief rains that fell had invigorated the party and the survivors of the curse, which now numbered almost 200. The optimism was an unusual feeling for everyone. Everyone had their plans regarding the Blue Waters Oasis and their next steps…

  • Banoc selected this oasis as his new home.
  • Phyll was eager to help Phabum start training druids.
  • Gwyn was eager to return to Nibenay and reclaim their lost possessions.
  • Jax was eager to research the lore that was recovered from the ruins of Sielba’s palace.
  • Way-lynn was concerned about the defense of the Oasis and began preperations for fortifying the area and training defense forces.
  • Daqiq desired to return to the ruins and reclaim more treasure.

The following morning, Way-lynn awoke to a surprise – they had returned to a half-giant. The Scroll of Blue Waters appeared to have reversed the effects suffered during their time in the Ruins of Pluton. They also were surprised by the arrival of a contingent of half-giants on a nearby ridge. When they were approached the party discovered that Siemhouk, the high templar of Nibenay, was with the half-giants.

The young girl was her usual mysterious self, however, they learned from Seimhouk that Dregoth was active in Raam, Kalid-Ma had indeed been defeated at Urik and retreated and that Balic was being destroyed by the forces of Ul-Athra and Yarnath. She implied, in an unsubtle way, that if the party didn’t clean up the messes they made, she would expose this Blue Waters Oasis to Nibenay. Hostilities almost broke out, but Daqiq was a calming influence on Banoc.

Siemhouk left the party to decide their fate and after much discussion, they elected to help Tyr out first. Gwyn teleported them to the Free City Tattoo shop they once called home…

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Occupied Tyr

After attempting to disguise themselves, especially Phyll, the party ventured out onto the streets of Tyr to get a feel for the city and attempt to make contact with the Veiled Alliance. At the Drunken Giant, Banoc and Gwyn attempted to find members of the Alliance, but they were unsuccessful. It appeared that the Alliance in Tyr was driven into hiding following the occupation of the city by Kalid-Ma and were even more suspicious of outsiders than normal.

Gwyn headed to an old ally, Karlen, at his store, Karlen’s Eye. They found him still running the shop and he provided information on the current state of Tyr. He told them of the arrival of Kalid-Ma and his high templar Li-Am from the south and their easy defeat of the city’s guard. With a sorcerer-king once again in control of the city, the old ways had returned – templars and nobles were scheming as even and the brief freedom enjoyed was gone. Kalid-Ma had only just returned from his defeat at Urik in the north, although Karlen mentioned that the sorcerer-king had returned from the south.

Karlen agreed to fence a number of items the party had discovered and use the proceeds to try and obtain useful items and components need for Gwyn to create powerful magic tattoos. With some relief, Banoc gave up the Blade Perilous into Karlen’s care. It would be a few day’s before his contacts returned with the items the party requested.

Streets of Tyr

While they roamed the city, Phyll sensed the powerful primal energy of the sorcerer-king’s gardens and suspected that there were many Trees of Life there. Had the rest of the party not intervened, he would have attempt to open the garden to the city, surely earning the wrath of Kalid-Ma. As they made their way back to Free City Tattoo, they encountered a press gang, conscripting citizens into Kalid-Ma’s new army.

The party decided that enough was enough and a fight ensued. The thugs of Kalid-Ma were tough, but not a match for the seasoned adventurers. The combat was over quickly, with Way-lynn, Phyll and Daqiq making a good show of defeating their opponents. The crowd of citizens watch with a mixture of awe and horror. Daqiq, Jax and Phyll freed the prisoners, gave them weapons and told them to earn their freedom.

Leaving before more templars and guards arrived, the party headed to the Warrens and the Under-Tyr in an attempt to find the Alliance and escape pursuit.

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