Red Sand & Black Sun

Megapede, Attack!!

We open the session with our adventurers absorbing the aftermath of the giant ray’s attack and the loss of Kacha’ak. Most of the group appears somber, with some genuinely upset feelings and some feigned. Tom waits atop the large rock while Abraxis attempts a sad visage, but for the most part fails to convince anyone. Sorrin looks saddened, but her attention is soon captured but the cocooned Ka’Kliek. Maul and Tanarch seem upset as well, but the most effected seems to be Drokan, who apparently had strong feelings for the kreen. The group eventually decides it is time to head out. Abraxis is set to running with the cocoon lashed to his back as part of his training. While on the move we discover his hidden musical talent as he plays his newly acquired bandura. There is discussion about the history of the Black Sands. It used to be called “The Plains of Blood and Ash” and we soon learn the reason for the latter part of the title as we see a dark curtain of the ash ‘rain’ in the distance. We stop for a short rest after about three hours of travel and before we reach the ash fall.

During the break, Abraxis asked Tom if he knows anything about court manners, to which Tom admits knowledge of the Draji courts, but no others. There is much discussion on the practices at various courts in the cities of Athas. Eventually, a distracted Sorrin offers to teach Abraxis about court manners Athas-wide. He also asks her to teach him to read common to which she also agrees. She asks him if he could teacher Draconic. We discover that he wants this training because he is interested in becoming a troubadour. Lord Taliim Gransom is suggested by one of the npcs as a possible employer in the future. During this rest Tom also agreed to teach Sorrin the elven language though he doesn’t know what kind of teacher he’ll be.
At the end of out rest an insect the size of a fist that is see-through like glass buzzes into the middle of our group. Everyone looks at it intently until Therai exclaims that it is using psychic abilities aimed at the ground, possibly like it is calling something. Sorrin blows it to bits with a well placed magic missile.
The party decides it would be wise to quickly move incase the crystalline bug had managed to summon something. We head into the jagged black stone maze and soon enter the ash fall. Abraxis keeps playing his bandura against Sorrins better judgement, but it does seem to have a rallying effect on the group’s moral.
Before we entered the stone maze we had seen several kestrickles [?] flying circles over a spot in the twisting passages. They were estimated to be pretty much on the route we were taking and several people expressed intreats in going to check it out for varying reasoned including treasure and tactical planing on what we will find in the maze. Irastus and Brokenscale were the foremost supporters with Tom and Sorrin in the opposite corner. When we finally get ear the place where the scavengers are circling we find that is mere minutes out of our path and curiosity overcomes us and we decide to check it out.
We find a wounded, ill and dieing Dagorran. Sorrin recognizes it as a tracker that the templars of Nibenay use often to sniff out V. A. members. Tom expands that they are vicious pack predators. He notes that this one appears to be wild. Sorrin detects minute traces of magic in the creatures.
Brokenscale suggests that we kill the creature so that we can get a better look around. The creature snarls as his is said. Abraxis egis playing sooting music so that he can get closer to put the beast out of it’s misery, but the chords have a rejuvenating effect and the monster is healed! It leaps at Abraxis and to everyone’s shock (and a little horror) begins to lick Braxy’s scaly muzzle. It lets him up and begins to root around in the scattered humanoid bones that litter this area. It shoves a small bag of gold out of the way and it slide to Abraxis. It has 10 gold in it and he tosses the bag to Sorrin. She holds onto it to return to him later. The monster eventually seemed to find what it is searching for. It returns to Abraxis with a human skull carried carefully in it’s jaw. The skull has three evenly spaced puncture holes in the temple that Abraxis deducts came from a punch in the head with a spiked gauntlet. We all look around the clearing and make a disturbing discovery about the bones here. They are all stripped of flesh by knives. This is disturbingly reminiscent of tale of the raiders hear stripping the flesh from the bones of their victims and eating it. We find wood splintered about and no gear, packs or supplies.
We then make another surprising discovery. The dragorran can understand what we are saying while speaking common, indicating a higher level of intellect. We question it about where it lives and what it was doing here and if it has a pack. It responds with head nodding and shaking and creepily grinning at us. We gather that he was here tracking someone and that it wasn’t any of the daed people here. No, it does not have a master and that it was from the north. Abraxis gives it ale from his flask and tosses it some of his rations. He then asks the beast if it would like to travel with us, to the dubious looks and comments of his travel companions, and the creature nods that it would. We mount up to head out and then the beast heads off in the opposite direction…
We travel on until we eventually come to a hole in the ground roughly the size of a wagon. A cooler air is coming out of the cave entrance and there are 4 sloughed off incest skins outside it. Two older ones and two newer ones. We are about to bypass it when Sorrin spies several blue ritual stones in the entrance. Sorrin stops and asks what we know about cilops, large centipede creatures. The combined group knowledge is that they are used as trackers, using psychic energies, by templars in many kingdoms. They are viscous, and kill and eat people. We are fairly sure we can handle them… Sorring says that she would like to retrieve the stones. Drokan says that he’ll do it and quickly proceeds to hop off is nix and break them off. He brings them back to Sorrin who packs them in her bag, and tells of the three more glowing red ones he sees inside. Sorrin says that she’ll go in to get them if the group could cover her, but much to her surprise Tom offers to get them in her stead. He asks that Sorrin watch his back and the rest of the party stay back as they are not very stealthy.
The red stones are about fifteen feet into the cave and in the process of getting them he sees several more. Farther in though he sees an amazing sight. A large orange stone, one of the stones used to cast massive and powerful rituals, and Tom knows that it is sold for probably over 4000 gold pieces. He can also see two cilopses farther in the cave, as well and an odd looking nest. Using the psychic link Sorrin had created he calls her forward and shows her the orange stone. When she gets closer the incests react to the psychic link so she drops it. The two decide to go ahead and get the stones.
Tom sneaks forward and gathers the stones, but Sorrin makes a slight noise and attracts the attention of the cilopses. She instantly throws up an illusionary wall that appears to be made of ice (though none of the party can see this…) and stops the monsters before thy can attack Tom. He gathers the orange stone whiled Sorrin holds off the creatures. She tells Tom to get the rest of the stones while she takes care of the beasts. Brokenscale and Abraxis, as well as he three V. A. guards join the battle and we make quick work of them. The rest of the party enters the cave and we look at the large cavern inside. There is a foul smell permeating the cave, the smell of rot. We see some magic armor in the nest, on a mouldering corpse and Therai decides he must have it. We deduct that the nest is not in fact a cilops nest, but that of a megapede. We are all horrified and decide to leave quickly, but Therai insists on getting the armor. He can’t get the straps off the body so he says he needs a knife to cut them. In frustration Tom throws him a knife, but he throws it at his horns, which then gets stuck in one of them. Sorrin heeds back to help him hurry up and she looks extremely agitated with the situation, but Therai just hefts the body along, dislodging one of the corpse’s legs ing the process.
The group watches in horror as the fallen limb knocks into one of the megapede eggs and it slides out of the nest. The adventurers double time it out of the cave, Sorrin franticly casting multiple prestidigitations to cleanse the musk off of everyone who entered the cave and off of the crystals that we collected so that the monster can’t track us. We book it out of the cave and waiting at the entrance is the dragoman. It steps out of the way as we barrel out. At the exit we hear the sound we all dreaded hearing, the clacking of hundreds of sharp tipped legs.
Therai begins making sounds as though he is in pain or being attacked so Abraxis punches him in the face in hopes of breaking the psychic connection. It unfortunately works all to well and Therai, whi was actually attempting to block the monster from finding us, now has a clear view. We spur out mounts to a run but Abraxis’s inix is startled by the falling rocks and the monster’s approach and lags behind the pack. Abraxis takes a swing at the huge creature and knocks it’s many legs from under it. Just before the beast bursts from the tunnel Sorrin blasts the support rocks that Abraxis is franticly gesturing at.
We run with Tom at the front of the pack leading us through the best routes to try and loose it. The group preforms some impressive feats of riding, Drokan starts a fire that further confuses it, and Sorrin who has been racking her brain for a way to get rid if it, unleashes a powerful illusion os the group multiplied by 10 running in every possible direction along with a clamorous racket so it can’t follow by sound.
The exhausted adventurers continue on for a time to make sure it won’t find them then decide to call it a night. Tensions run high in the camp that night as Tom begins yelling at Therai and Sorrin punches him in the face (poor Therai, he is kind of like Simon Tan this session….) Tensions eventually work themselves out and the group drifts off to sleep with Sorrin keeping watch. During the night, whoever is sharing a turn at watch often hears Sorrin muttering and chanting under her breath, working intently with one of her books…

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Gunthru Kamisama66

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