Red Sand & Black Sun

The Cloud Ray Comes

The session begins at the end of the conversation with Brokenscale. Abraxas goes to be alone, needing time to sort himself out. The others head off to various activities throughout the Silver Spring Inn. Tom goes outside and uses the relative chaos caused by the dray battle to sneak into the building where the Silver Spring elves keep the caravans of guests. He goes directly for Lashiur Ibbin’s custom wagon, having been suspicious of the quite human for some time and attempts to pick the well-made lock. Ducking a patrol of guards Tom chooses the right tool for the job and soon enough the door is open to him, but as he touches it to push, a magical trap goes off. A black glue-like substance secretes from the door and tries to latch Tom’s arm while the half-elf’s flesh begins to rot. Giving a yelp Tom pulls hard away and tears himself from the door-frame, stopping the rotting in the process. The noise attracts a lone elven guard who comes to investigate as Tom uses his impressive acrobatic prowess to easily escape sight and rise to a casual walk not a dozen feet from his crime. The guard approaches the door and sees it is ajar and a faint violet light is emitting from the crack, he calls to see if anyone is there, when no one answers the guard approaches and looks inside. Tom watches as the guard stops, looks around inside, then walks in as if lured and shuts the door behind himself. No longer interested in the wagon Tom goes to find Sorin.

Kacha’ak was not involved in the conversation with Brokenscale and instead went to search out Toramund. He found the lead elf surrounded by others of his kin, speaking softly about future plans. The kreen interrupts them and asks Toramund if he possesses any maps. Toramund decides to allow the kreen to study them for his earlier deeds, but only if he returns them in their good condition. Kacha’ak agrees and Toramund has the maps sent to the kreen’s room. When Kacha’ak goes to his room he finds Tanark inside. The swordsman thanks Kacha’ak for his earlier actions of taking him upstairs for his injury in the bar fight. Tanark has realized that if he had not been removed from the bar, the dray would have barged in and found him, perhaps killing him on the spot. It was the kreens insistence that he get his injury checked that saved his life. Kacha’ak responds with little emotion that “he knows” and an elf servant appears with the maps. Tanark is surprised Toramund allowed Kacha’ak to view these well made maps and after the servant leaves wonders out loud if Sorin may have some magical means to copy the map. Kacha’ak suggests Tanark go find out and the human goes to do just that while Kacha’ak tries to study the maps.

After the conversation with Brokenscale Sorin and Tanark both head the same direction and wind up walking together towards Talaveern’s room on the third floor. Both are let in to see that the psychic eladrin is surrounded by his many students. He greets both party members and asks if they are well. When the two tell him that they are fine Talaveern laments that he should have been helping against the dray in the fight, but both Therai and Sorin balk at the thought that Talaveern, a dream-psychic who has no combative skills should put himself in danger for little gain. Even the teacher’s students chide him and tell him that his place was with them. Chagrin, the eladrin admits it is a silly desire and then asks Sorin if what happened below had anything to do with their previous topic of conversation (the meteors and demons), she tells him it didn’t. Thinking for a moment, the teacher then bluntly asks Sorin to appraise Therai’s combative prowress; she gives Therai a good grade. With that figured out Talaveern says he should go and make arrangements to leave swiftly with a outgoing caravan before any more surprises happen. Sorin inquires about a friend that she expected to see with Talaveern and is not disappointed when her friend Brun stands from among the students and waves, calling Sorin “sister”. Therai is thoroughly confused but leaves it. Therai is reminded during the conversation that he still has the letter given to him by Kacha’ak last session and wonders if they should open it. Sorin suggests not opening it this moment and the tiefling waits. Just as Talaveern turns to leave, Therai asks a favor, to read his friends Abraxas’s emotions. Talaveern gives the tiefling a measured glance before obliging. From afar the eladrin tells the two that Abraxas is “torn between duty, failure, shame, and the desire to suffer the punishment of his failure.” When the teacher asks why Therai needed this information, Therai responds that he just had to make sure that Abraxas felt the normal emotions that would be expected given the situation. The two leave and head downstairs to the common bar.

Tom finds Sorin in the common bar, he sees Therai speaking with the other travelers about news and events in other parts of Athas. Brokenscale sits in a booth with two empty ales in front of him. He approaches the eladrin and nods towards the powerful dray warrior, asking what Sorin thinks. She responds that she is unsure if he can be trusted, or that Abraxas’s feelings on the matter can be fully trusted for that matter, Tom agrees. Therai approaches, seeing him Tom quickly tells Sorin that he needs to speak with her, the tiefling reaches them and the two inquire about whether Therai can get a psychic read on Brokenscale. Therai tells the two that Brokenscale is the most closed-minded dray he has ever seen, as strong in mind as in body. He notes that he is even stronger then some dray psychics he has seen. Therai wonders if it could be his “master” Ul-Athra that is keeping his mind so closed. Therai says that the only reason he came over was because he thought something was going on, so turns to leave but before he does he remembers something and turns back around. He says that he ran into the tiefling girl again and he convinced her to have drinks with him. Sorin is pleased and Tom is surprised. The half-elf says he thought Therai would never get over Sorin, the eladrin quirks an eyebrow in amusement.

After Therai walks away Sorin asks if the two of them need to go elsewhere in order to speak, Tom holds out his hand and asks if it is alright. Sorin inspects it and sees that it has fading marks of defiling upon it. The two open a psychic communication and speak two conversations at the same time, one out loud about Tom’s poor hand hygiene and the other inside their heads about the defiled limb. Sorin tells Tom that his hand will be fine, but Tom is forced to admit that he went to Lashiur’s wagon and sprung a trap. Tom goes to get a refill, and for the information, Sorin asks him to get her one as well, he agrees. Tanark approaches Sorin just as Tom leaves and informs her about Kacha’ak’s maps and asks if she can “help” them. Sorin says that she doesn’t have the necessary “tools” that can accomplish that. Tanark wonders if Abraxas possess the skill to draw maps but Sorin suggests that she will still come up and aid them if she can. Tanark agrees and leaves.

Tom is up at the bar waiting for the elf bartender to get him his drinks. Tom is looking around at the din and movement around him when suddenly everything goes still. Looking around Tom sees a man in the process of throwing a piece of meat into his mouth, and the meat is frozen in mid-air. Another man is making to roll some dice and Tom can just make out his hand move very slowly towards the crest of his toss. Searching the crowd around him Tom sees a man with red eyes that was not there before step out from behind a frozen drunk coming towards the bar for refills. The human man with red eyes has a balding head, black beard and a sharp vest. The first words he utters are “you know, my people would kill for a name like yours.” then smiles. Tom believes the man is the same one who gifted him the superior speed during the Altarak apartment fight and asks what he wants this time. The human seems confused and assures Tom that this is their first meeting. He then calls Tom “Lord Vile”, Tom responds that he is no lord. The human seems to know intimate details about Tom’s life and tallies off the reasons that Tom is a lord, noble birth, noble family. He sits down at a table and introduces himself as Trog, a business man, who is not a man. Trog and Tom begin to speak about why Trog has come and what he wants. The creature reveals that he is half-efreet half-demon who can grant wishes. His desires lie with Tom and his demon-mark; a sloppy piece of work from a business partner of his, Bejein. Trog explains that Bejein has become a bit obsessive since their encounter in Altarak and that isn’t good for business. He goes on to tell that Mezabran the noble has only been on the scene about two years and it was all thanks to him. Trog is being chanced by some demon hunters, who are now interested in Tom thanks to their eventful fight in Altaruk. Trog says that the demon hunters will most likely reach Tom in Nibenay and will approach him when his guard is down. He wants Tom to play nice with the demon hunters, take what he wants from them, and then when their in just the right position, call in Trog and crush them. In exchange when Tom kills Bejein, he will gain all his titles, money and servants and one more thing. Because of Bejein’s poor job in applying his demonic curse to Tom and Sorin’s successful breaking of the curse, Tom still have a bit of residue on him that gives him all the advantages that come with a demon mark, with none of the downside. Tom inquires if the advantage is Spit, but Trog reveals that Spit is one of his agents sent to watch Tom and that is why the half-demon knows where he is. The advantage, Trog shows is the ability to consume souls for power. Trog has a large collection of them thanks to Bejein and Tom can use them at his will. Consuming a soul will give Tom a temporary burst of incredible power. Tom asks what the catch is to this whole bargain and Trog says he will show the half-elf. He makes an illusion of Tom’s brother, who has just one eye and wears an eye-patch. Trog suddenly has Tom’s blood dagger in his hand and thrusts the knife into his brother’s eye. Tom watches in interest as his brother screams in terrible agony, Trog says “You kill men, they are mine” then slices through Toms brother’s head spraying Tom with blood. The bar resumes it’s activity and Trog is gone. A bar patron tells Tom that he has taken his seat and Tom apologizes. Getting up the half-elf goes to retrieve his drinks, someone picked up his tab, and they left an extra coin with a skull on it. When Tom touches it he feels that it is the power Trog spoke up to awaken the potential in his demon mark. Tom pockets the coin.

Abraxas has decided to stop thinking about his feelings and go to get the supplies ready. He haggles but the shrewd elves won’t lower their prices. The dray does a bit of math and decides to get supplies for the eight inixes rather then the single mekillot.

Sorin heads upstairs after a moment more talk with Tom about the defiling caused by the trap. Just before she arrives at Kacha’aks room, Drokan stops in and takes a look at the maps. He mentions offhandedly that he used to be a cartographer. When Sorin arrives Kacha’ak combines Sorin’s paper with Drokan’s ability and has the dwarf copy the map into Sorin’s spellbook.

Meanwhile Brokenscale walks up to Tom who is still sitting at the table in the common bar. He informs Tom that he is prepared to leave with the group. Tom asks him why he wants to come along and the dray answers that he “doesn’t want his son making the same mistakes”. Tom asks why then did he leave Rhajhan alive to cause further trouble? His response is “he didn’t deserve to die.” Continuing to press, Tom asks what happens the next time they are pushed in a corner, will he want to kill then. Rhajhan says he doesn’t know but assures Tom that when he does no one will be left standing. Tom says that these are just words and Brokenscale ends the conversation with “I see why he likes you” and walks away.

With only an hour or so left till they leave, several of the characters decided to do some last minute shopping. Sorin looked for some rituals with a discreet eye and Abraxas for some magic items, but both turn up empty handed. Tom goes to find some hair dye and discovers a good one. After haggling the price down he purchases a red henna dye. Kacha’ak spends the time carving a symbol to represent his latest victory on to his chitin, while in the process Kacha, his predecessor speaks. He says that the kreen warrior had a good fight and has proven himself a capable warrior, but his technique is unpolished and together they decide that the ancestor warrior will learn from the spirit of his predecessor the ancient techniques of gythka wielding.

Abraxas has finally managed to secure all the supplies needed for their journey, desiring to leave the dray heads to gather up the party. First he goes to the bar and gets Tom and finds Therai, who has discovered the thiefling woman he was having a drink with is married, those three speaks to his Brokenscale and all are introduced. The dray says that the group needs to know a few things before they accept him with them on their journey. He explains that was being chased by the bloodclaw clan and was in turn chasing Rhigar Kinslayer. He lost them for a brief time in Altaruk but caught up their trail once again once they left. He says that he will explain why he was following Rhigar later. Together that group heads up to get Sorin and Kacha’ak. When the group enters Kacha’aks room soon everyone has gathered including the three veiled alliance members who aided Sorin in the fight against the dray, Maul, Clem and Irastus. Together the group goes to get their journey underway.

While getting the inix together Therai remember the letter given to him by Kacha’ak and pulls it out, giving it to Sorin to read. The eladrin opens the letter and looks over it before speaking aloud. Through the letter Therai’s father Lord Jingrice explains that Therai’s birth was not as the tiefling was originally told. The lie Therai had grown up with was that he was both from the union between his father and a tiefling slave girl; the other nobles were so appalled by the child that they forced Immium to give it up into slavery where Mal bought it. The truth is that Jingrice was sent to a battlefield across the silt to fight raiders and was captured in a battle. While held in the enemy camp awaiting ransom back to Balic he fell in love with a tiefling woman named Youl (which means wild in their own tongue) and the two laid together. Several months later when he was back in Balic Youl came to him with one of a set of twins she had bore. She said this ones name was Therai which meant “child” and the other was Uroth but she would not say what that meant. She told Jingrice that their was something wrong with the other child and she would be keeping it. She left the babe with the young noble; but soon his grandfather discovered the child and informed the king of it’s presence. Jingrice was publicly shamed for sleeping with the enemy and the child stripped from him. He could never before reveal this information since Mal had forbid it, making it illegal. Sorin looked at the tiefling and said she would tell him about it later.

The party had headed out from the Silver Spring at this point and Therai nodded to Sorin and then remembered that he needed to tell the party something. The tiefling admitted to keeping a secret and proceeded to explain all he knew about the night before the sandstorm in the Blacksands, where the crodlu breathed blue flame and the tiefling was threatened from a far-off psychic presence. This event greatly confused the party as they had difficulty separating the mysterious vast psychic presence that threatened Therai from Kacha inside of the crodlu’s head, which Kacha’ak was forced to admit existed. The party was immediately suspicious of the kreen spirit inside the crodlu. They ask the spirits motives and Kacha’ak tells the party that he wanted to find members of his bloodline and kill Bejein for having slain him when Kacha was alive. Sorin then asks how old the spirit is, and Kacha’ak answers that he is from the kreen empire which Sorin is able to vaguely explain is very ancient indeed and once covered the world. Being cautious about the situation, Sorin turns to Irastus and asks if he can keep an eye out using his spyglass for anything. The human hands the glass over to Clem the half-elf to keep watch.

While on the trail, Kacha asks if Kacha’ak if his determination to kill Bejein is still strong, the warrior says that it is. The spirit then asks if Kacha’ak can still trust Abraxas since he left out information that proved vital. Kacha’ak says that everyone has secrets, this causes the spirit to ask if his ancestor has been keeping secrets from him. Kacha’ak says he has. When the spirit asks if he would like to fix that, Kacha’ak says that he will soon, but not now. After a brief pause Kacha asks for Kacha’ak to explain one event that happened out in the blacksand; the coming of the giant owl. The warrior tells the spirit that the owl was a servant of Hazzar, a sphinx whom he serves as a champion to. Kacha warns his ancestor that sphinxes can be mysterious and deceptive, but the warrior shrugs that off, saying that they are working together because their goals align. When the spirit inquires what that common goal is, Kacha’ak reveals that the dragon is returning in all it’s terrible might to Athas. The spirit takes great interest in that fact. Finally, Kacha says that he can sense teeming masses of kreen in Nibenay where the group is traveling, he wants Kacha’ak to walk among them and see how they live like vermin. This conversation brings up Ka-Kliek, why she has been traveling with the party since she is a tandi kreen. Kacha’ak says that he knows she is not the same, and he has seen that she can not be like him; he got her to see if one of “them” could change and regain their heritage, but he has discovered that they cannot. Kacha’ak even brings up her strange inability to trance, saying she sleeps. This fact immediately gains Kacha’s attention. The spirit says that this means that Ka-Kliek is part of the bloodline that can trace it all the way back to the kreen empress. He charges his warrior ancestor with protecting Ka-Kliek without giving further reason. Kacha’ak agrees to keep the tandi until the group reaches Nibenay at least.

The company rides onwards and fan out into a line to hold individual conversations. Sorin psychically shares the contents of the letter with Therai. The tiefling is struck by the heavy words and begins to cry. Sorin consuls Therai successfully and promises to aid the psychic in looking for his mother and twin after the current trip has ended. When Therai says that he would like to look for his mother and brother, Sorin suggests that the twin could be a girl, but Therai insists that it is a boy.

Brokenscale falls back to speak to Abraxas. He begins by telling him that the servants of the Skullbearer are called skull-eyes and that they include many different races. He says that when they are not under full control they are kindly and helped Brokenscale learn to read and allowed him to look over the treasure of the Skullbearer. He proceeds to tell Abraxas that Marrowgate, where the Skullbearer lives is now a giant hold, but once was a minotaur fortress. A select few know that, but what almost no one knows is that before that it was a dwarven stronghold and is the resting place of the real Rhigar Kinslayer. His body is entombed within and Brokenscale was able to read his journals, and grow to learn from the wisdom of his teachings. Rhigar knew for a fact that Dregoth, the creator of the dray was indeed real and that he was evil, and therefor made the dray dammed and imperfect. But Rhigar also reasoned that the dray could overcome their creation and rise to greatness. Brokenscale explains that months ago, when he left Marrowgate he had a dream in which the dwarf Armageddon came to him with Abraxas’s shield and told him that his heart was made of iron and their was another he must seek, who could remove his curse. He left and chased the one who wore the name Rhigar Kinslayer knowing that this must be the one. Now that he has seen that it is his very son he is even more convinced and will teach Abraxas all he knows and free him in the only Brokenscale knows he can be freed, killing him. Abraxas then admits that like Rhigar, he too is a murderer and killed his own brother. Brokenscale hits him so hard he falls off his mount. Expecting the dray to attack his son, Tom leaps to Abraxas’s defense, but Brokenscale only tells Abraxas to stand and have his training begin by running instead of riding.

Just as Abraxas goes to get up, Clem points and begins to panic. The group all looks over to see a gigantic cloud ray diving at ludicrous speeds about 2 miles away in the high-sky. They all turn and begin to flee towards a giant rock nearby. In their minds they prepare to fight, face their fear and wonder why this stuff happens to them. The group whirls about to see the lightning-cloaked ray swoop down. Riding atop the ray is Zeburon the Iron Rider, the legendary leader of the black-sand raiders, wearing his signature metal helm and gauntlets/bracers. The group draws weapons as the creature slows, not wanting to plow into the rock they are adjacent to and lashes its tail outwards towards Kacha’ak whom Zeburon is pointing to. The cloud rays tail is attacked when it swings down and wraps round the kreen but to no avail as it seems to be made of rock. It is a few havoc filled moments of thrashing and whirling before Kacha’ak, despite the effort put forth by the players is sailing high into the sky atop the cloud-rays back alone. Just as the cloud ray turned to fly away the characters did have a moment to consider leaping for it and grabbing on for dear life, but for their own reasons chose not to. Kacha’ak did not see this.

High above the ground Zeburon turns and throws a giant-hair rope to Kacha’ak who stands up from his prone position on the back of the giant ray. The rope is tied onto one of the creatures secure spikes, and the other half of the rope is tied around Zeburon himself. Kacha’ak asks why Zeburon is doing this, but the human warrior does not answer from behind his helmet, instead he just stairs with hate-filled eyes as Kacha’ak ties the rope around himself. Being confused by the circumstances Kacha’ak decided to wait until Zeburon attacks him to do anything but when the human warrior does, Kacha’ak realizes he has made a terrible mistake. Whirling with a bone sword the human warlord cuts a bloody swath through the kreens chitin and breaks his face with a terrible blow to the head. Kacha awakes inside of Kacha’aks head and tells the kreen that this man is most definitely their combined enemy and he will give the kreen warrior whatever aid he can. Kacha’ak is filled with energy which regenerates his wounds and the fight begins. The fight is brutally short with Kacha’ak attempting to put up an effort but the blows from Zeburon are too strong and the energy from Kachas spirit is not enough to overcome the wounds. Kacha’ak falls and Zeburon cuts the rope from his waste and hurls him off into oblivion.

Kacha’ak awakes under the watchful hood of Hazzar the sphinx, who explains that she was able to catch the falling kreen and flee from the cloud ray with him. They slipped into the fey-wild where Zeburon could not follow. He is resting now.

The party looks off in the distance where the cloud ray vanished into the horizion with stunned expressions. They discuss the unlikelihood that Kacha’ak is still alive and shake their heads at his sudden death. Some wonder if they should hold a funeral and others wonder how the cloud ray and Zeburon knew where they were. All eyes turn to the Crodlu who was flung far from the group in the confusion. Abraxas tries to lance it with a gythka but misses and the creature takes the weapon and flees in the direction of the ray. They hypothesize that it was the crodlu’s spirit that gave their position away. In a few moments as the group collects itself the members wonder where Ka-Kliek has gone. Therai finds her psychic signature around the large rock and as they go to see, they find a cocoon. Using her vast knowledge Sorin theorizes that Ka-Kliek must be a kreen empress since this is something that only happened to them in time long ago. Most of the party is suspicious of this and Tom even thinks she may be turning into a sorcerer king, a thought which he gets laughed at for. Sorin says that kreen empresses were controllers of the empire in ancient times and their dasil was a strong as metal. The group wonders whether to kill it, leave it or take it. In Kacha’aks memory they decide to take the cocoon with them. They also gather Kacha’aks two magic gythkas which were lost to the kreen when he was flung around by the cloud-ray. Brokenscale makes Abraxas carry it as part of his training.

Hazzar says that Kacha’ak has been resting for seven hours and must now leave if he wishes to catch up with the others. The kreen appears in Athas onto of his crodlu whom Hazzar communicated with and brought to a specific place to meet with them. Now the kreen must traverse the desert alone and with little energy.

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