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.
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.
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.