Almost a week had passed since Rhotan Vor of House Wavir had asked Morg and his companions to help him search for the fabled Vault of Darom Madar. The dwarf was getting impatient as he felt sure that other were searching for the Vault as well, given that the drunk that gave him the information would certainly have talked to others. Unwilling to wait any longer or to give up on finding such lucrative treasure, Rhotan began to search for other adventurers.
The tough times were getting tougher in Tyr as the economy continued to sink and envoy’s from the other city-states demanded that the iron mines be reopened. Rhotan gathered a half-dozen guards, only one of which had seen any real action, a man named Kelvor. All required their pay up front and the expense of preparing a large caravan taxes Rhotan’s finances to the limit.
The next day, the caravan set out, the hired guards moving quickly ahead to scout out their path. The rest of the caravan consisted of three sand skiffs. Each of the three-wheeled vehicles was propelled by a single sailed and manned by a pilot and a couple of deck hands. The group headed towards the elven village of Silver Spring Oasis to resupply and gather more information.
The Crimson Oasis
The journey across the deserts taxed the caravan’s members as they suffered under the relentless heat of the crimson sun. Kelvor and the scouts tried to keep the caravan headed in the right direction despite the blowing winds and dangers of the wilderness, but they faltered several times. Eventually they reached a small oasis where they made camp.
The oasis was not much more than a muddy hole in the ground surrounded by desert scrub, but even its foul tasting water was a welcome relief from the desert. Before the first sip of water was taken, the oasis erupted into violent action as three armed men burst from cover and charged the caravan. Safely behind the cover of some rocks a dwarf and halfling emerged and slowly moved towards the battle.
Although Kelvor tried be organize a defense, the other guards were caught by surprise as the raiders ran several of them through with their spears. The dwarf called down a blinding ray of light into the melee, hampering the defense of the caravan, while the halfling used the Way to confuse the befuddle the guards.
Kelvor’s whirling defenses kept the raiders attention on him for the remainder of the skirmish and his harmony of body and mind allowed him to survive several deadly attacks by the wilder and sun priest. Eventually the bandits were defeated, although half of the guards had perished and several more were severely wounded.
Undeterred by their struggle at the oasis, Rhotan continued on towards Silver Springs, confident that they could resupply there. He thought that with some luck they might even be able to hire on replacements. As the caravan moved through a ceaseless blur of sun-scorched sand and rolling dunes, there was little to break the monotony of heat and thirst. When the barbed arrows began hissing form the sky, fired by a trio of dark shapes on the crest of a nearby dune, it was almost a welcome break to the drudgery of travel.
The elven assassin’s aim was superb quickly cutting down more of the remaining guards before they could reach the top of the dune. Just as the survivors reached the top of the dune, they were wracked with pain as the ground around them turned into dark ash. Riding atop a crodlu was a hooded man that summoned a whip of fire that wrapped around Kelvor, burning his skin and leaving a trail of ash. Wounded as they were, the remaining members of the caravan were no match for the defiler assassin and his troops.
When Kelvor awoke, he was bruised and battered. There were no signs of the assassins, except for several areas of ash on the desert floor and a few bodies, already burned in the sun. As he searched the area, the only signs of the caravan were the wheel marks of the sand skiffs, already being covered by the blowing sands. All but one of the bodies, Rhotan’s, were dead and already the victim of desert scavengers. Rhotan was alive, but only barely, apparently the victim of a severe blow to the head. The vast majority of their supplies were missing, including all of Rhotan’s information on the Vault.
The Walk of Shame
With virtually no other options, Kelvor and Rhotan turned back towards Tyr. Their vitality leeched by the sun’s punishing rays and already weakened by their ordeals, the pair barely made it back alive. Word of their failure spread quickly, as did rumors that House Wavir’s long time enemy, House Tsalaxa, was likely to be blamed. Others simply pointed to the folly of searching for things that are best left alone.
Regardless of the truth to those rumors the consequences were immediate and dire. Rhotan had invested a considerable some of money in the caravan, and House Wavir had suffered for his expedition’s failure. Within two days, the merchant house had closed its operations in Tyr and moved out. Rhotan left as well, heading out to Altaruk to try and salvage his position in the merchant house.
Kelvor remained in Tyr. Rhotan thought that should Morg and his companions return, they might be able to team up and track down those responsible for the attack. A desperate hope that House Wavir’s fortunes might change.