The mission begins in the middle of the afternoon with the sun high in the sky. The group heads in the direction of the bandit camp, Abraxas herds the kanks, with many of the group catching rides on their backs. Kacha’ak takes the war crodlu. On the way Rhamil makes small talk. Therai seems agitated and snaps at Rhamil. When they arrive in the bandit camp they see the many tents, including the one large one in the center, also a brazer that smells of kank dung. The camp is surrounded on 3 sides by cliff walls. The group discusses the possibility of taking what they can and leaving right then or hunkering down for the night. They eventually decide to stay in the camp. Therai tells the group that their fears about Brendos finding them are unfounded. The tiefling says that Mal has but one chance to find and capture them and he will not take it. If he comes after them he will likely not send enough guards to capture them and it is even less likely that the pursuers would come up into the mountains. Brendos’s one chance is to ask Andropinis for aid, but this would use his one request given per year from the sorcerer king, which he will not waste on something this small. While Tom and Abraxas talk about the possibility of starting up their own bandit group using this hideaway Sorin and Kacha’ak go to look through the camp for anything they missed, especially papers which might give more information then what was found on the note in the war crodlu’s pack. Though the two do not find any more paper, they do find a secret cash under the largest tent filled to the brim with supplies. Desert gear, a distillation kit, money and lastly, a dried skinmender fruit wrapped in leather. The others come into the tent and discuss what to do with the loot, they decide to split them up, including the money and include a bit for the slaves and a share for Rhamil. The slaves are very thankful when Sorin delivers the money. In the meantime Kacha’ak discovers a small trail behind the camp into the mountain that leads to a kank nest, but he doesn’t go back there at this moment.
Night falls and the characters choose tents, Sorin, Rhamil and most of Mal’s former house slaves take up the smaller tents with Abraxas, Tom, Therai and Kacha’ak take the larger tent with one or two of the house slaves. They set a watch and many of them eventually get to sleep. Kacha’ak volunteers for the first watch and fixes his weapons while he looks on. As Tom and Abraxas drift off, they continue to talk about the option of becoming bandits. Therai does not like the location of the camp and states such. Sorin steals a few pillows from the main tent and steals away to a corner tent. Lights shine from underneath the tent-flap. Before Tom goes to sleep Lasha visits him briefly, but he kindly sends her back. While on watch, Rhamil joins Kacha’ak outside and discussed why Kacha’ak cannot speak without an accent, he is racist. Music trickles out from Sorin’s tent but most everyone who sleeps is asleep.
Kacha’ak begins to make rounds through the camp and eventually notices that Tom is gone from his watch. He immediately goes to search for him and finds him in a nearby tent. Inside the kreen sees a horrifying sight. A pool of blood covers the ground, as he looks up into Tom’s eyes, he sees that they are glowing red. Tom’s mouth of covered in blood and he is chewing on the heart of a very dead former house slave. A great deal of confusion and aggression begins. Kacha’ak seems to be trying to not outright attack Tom but Abraxas and Sorin seem to have little hesitation. As Sorin joins Kacha’ak and goes to attack Tom, a hot, then chill breeze flow out of the tent and in a second a demon forms out of the thin air and fights against Tom’s many former allies trying to scratch and bite them. As it leaps for Sorin another strange creature enters the battle. A hand of metal reaches up to block the demons advance and the two wrestle. Abraxas charges with fast feet towards the demon as he cuts his way through the tent.
Standing in the midst of this action Kacha’ak has a memory surface because of the way he is holding this gythka facing the demon. The story that comes to his memory is one he knows well, because it is told to all young kreen. The story of Ka’cha the first to learn. The tale is about the originator of a powerful tribe of knowledge seekers among the kreen. Ka’cha traveled with a clutch of non-kreen and had many adventures. In the original tale Ka’cha is separated from his clutch and is set upon by a powerful demon who kills him as he heroically holds the line, his sacrifice allows his allies to bring a powerful magic weapon to bear against the beast and end it. In the memory version however, this is not the case. Ka’cha the respected hero of this tribe is in-fact possessing the mark of the demon himself, and the reason his friends leave him is that he is forced to kill his own allies by it’s influence. He strikes off alone to run away from what he has done when his enemy shows up to finish him off. It is only because of the loyalty of his clutch and their valor that the beast is brought low.
It flies with small bat-like wings high above the tents. During the battle a house slave sees the demon and freaks out. Eventually the tent is lit on fire by Sorin and Tom flees behind it. Sorin and Tom fight it out behind the tent while Abraxas and the demon swing many times at each other, to little avail. Finally Therai reaches Tom uses his psychic powers to snap him out of his state. The demon is sucked into the stone cliff side that it is now close to. As Sorin menaces Tom, Therai comments that his headache is connected to Tom’s state. The hatred held by the creature Tom is connected to through his scar with psychic power caused him great stress. He couldn’t pinpoint it because of it’s intensity but he knew it was within someone. Sorin does a magical look at Tom to make sure the darkness is really gone. Kacha’ak goes to move the body out of the tent but Abraxas stops him and they decide that to make the explanation easier, they will let the body burn away. Many of the other slaves have begun to gather on the far side of the tents and the man who saw the demon is over there telling them what he saw. They are frightened and want to know what is going on. Rhamil approaches the players and asks what is going on. They tell the dwarf to keep the slaves over on the far side he grudgingly does so. Kacha’ak explains what Tom has done and Therai is stunned. Sorin asks whether this kind of thing has happened before. Tom reveals that he was the one who killed Sheeshesh. They are less angry then might have otherwise been expected. At that moment Tom hears a voice in his mind, the voice of his possessor “There you are. Time to seal the deal, your mine.”
The creature sends through a terrible agony for Tom but thanks to Sorin’s intervention, using the fey magic within her iron cohort, she is able to cut the psychic cord that allowed communication, making the pain is tolerable. A firm connection is established between the creature and Tom, and the curse now is active. Kacha’ak after this event, demands to have an explication. Abraxas turns slowly and says “Their was an animal attack, Tom was injured and the man in the tent was killed.”. Kacha’ak says that isn’t good enough but as he does he sees another memory within his mind of Ka’cha’s clutch mate saying his exact words to Ka’cha in the past. Sorin interrupts him, not caring about why so much as if they are all safe. She asks Tom if it is truly gone. Tom says he thinks so. Therai pauses for moments as he traces the psychic line back towards Ledopolus, and tells the rest of the group that is where the creature resides. Kacha’ak storms off. Tom gets extremely angry and punches the ground. Kacha’ak walks over to Rhamil and the slaves and says it was an animal attack, but fails to be convincing. The man says that Kacha’ak will not convince him that he did not see a demon. Kacha’ak changes tactics and says that the man did see a demon, and it killed the other slave, Tom fled the scene as it attacked. Kacha’ak says that the group set the fire to kill the demon and it was banished back to it’s own plane. Convinced, the other slaves come up and thank Kacha’ak for driving off the beast. Sorin suggests that Tom not be alone from now on. Abraxas helps Tom clean up. Kacha’ak goes back to join the kanks in their hive-cave through the mountain cut, he occasionally pets the insects, then . Sorin offers to use magic to help Tom clean up but Tom doesn’t want the help of magic.Feeling rebuffed, Sorin goes back to her own tent. The party gets what little sleep the night has left to offer. Tom is always with someone.
In the morning everyone is getting ready to leave, some of the slaves are offering prayers to the charred remains of their fallen companion. Kacha’ak goes to the party and informs them about his hidden kank hive, Sorin goes with him to take a look. Sorin and he discuss the possibility of taming more kanks and Kacha’ak states that he would need some food to use. Both of them then talk about using the remains of the burnt man as feed to lure the kanks to them. Sorin is alright with it, but only if the kreen isn’t caught. Kacha’ak decides to try. At first he is only able to interest the small spitters in his offer, when he pushes them off one bites him. A large soldier then comes forward and takes the body. Kacha’ak tries to interest the other soldiers in the meal but they are uninterested. Kacha’ak takes the single interested soldier back to camp and puts it with the rest of them. He then boldly goes to try again, this time he is swarmed and fiercely bitten until he flees the hive. After that event, the party gets under-way with their new kank. The group makes it way out into the scrub-lands, staying away from the mountains because of Goliath raiders that live in the peaks. The flowers have begun to wither in the hot light of days. Their are a few on foot and a few kank riders, Kacha’ak rides the war crodlu. The crodlu is cruel to the kanks and frequently kicks them in the stomachs when they make noise. Kacha’ak forces it to ride ahead. As they travel along Kacha’ak sees the sign of a oncoming silt-storm rising up from the estuary. The party is forced to ride hard towards any cover they see, which happens to be an oasis that Sorin spots. All but Lasha are pulled onto a mount or sprint to the oasis in the nick of time, but she is lost in the blinding storm.
As they clear the tree-line and are within the trunks of lush plants, they wait for the oncoming blast of silt that will still knock them over with force. But instead of crashing through the trees, the silt breaks and splits against the tree-line though nothing is stopping it from coming into the oasis. This place, Sorin notices is obviously touched by the land behind the wind. Their are lush fruits and plenty of water. The former house slaves immediately partake as do a few others, but some hold off. It is then that a great sphinx who introduces herself as Hazar makes herself known. She wears a hood over her head that covers her whole face. She tells the group that they can feel free to eat and drink to their content, but not to overindulge. She also offers a challenge to each of them if they wish to try. She seeks a champion of good in her eyes to change this world. If the party accepts the challenge she tells them a story that will determine if they are worthy to be her champions. If they are worthy, they shall be given gifts to continue their quest of righteousness, if they are not worthy, but not evil, they will be sent on their way unharmed. Finally, if they are evil, she says they will be rent. After little hesitation Sorin accepts the challenge and is told a story of a merchant girl in Nibenay that confronts her with choices she must make to determine what kind of person she is. Sorin does very well, but not perfect and wins a huge bag of 1000 gold chits. Next Kacha’ak takes the challenge and though his trial is long and difficult, he proves himself in the blind eyes of Hazar and is crowned her champion, he is rewarded with a gythka forged from the silt-storm’s fury, and an additional gift that belongs to her champion. Therai next takes the challenge and is judges worthy like Sorin and receives a magical necklace that will cause him to be the envy of all who look upon it. Rhamil then takes the challenge, but only comes out neutrally and is not rewarded or punished. Lastly, Abraxas takes the challenge, and like Rhamil scores neutrally in the sphinx’s eyes, but she still offers him a reward for his recent improvement and willingness to change. He refuses. All the other slaves are terrified of Hazar and are now suspicious of this oasis, they call her an evil spirit or demon. Infused with a new duty, Kacha’ak is informed of Hazar’s history where a great king named Dregoth destroyed her homeland through defiling. She seeks anyone who can fight these evil lords who rule over the land, anyone who can break their stranglehold so that no one else will suffer.