Once again the crowd within the Maladran is cheering the team-name given to the players. Silt Serpents! Silt Serpents! they cry. The characters stand staring at the huge surging crowd, some in elation, others sheepish at the attention. Tanter Gorehorn leans down and loudly whispers “Wave, your famous now.” After a few moments of fanatic cries Tanter nods towards the arena exit and tells the players that Brendos will meet them. The characters see a guard begin to escort Brendos from the arena.
The characters are escorted back to the box seat they enjoyed before the bout began. They find a freshly restocked supply of the fine blue dwarven whiskey and smokes. Tom and Therai still seem high on the admiration, while Sorin seems more thoughtful, almost sad. Abraxas is obviously very wounded and Therai begins to aid him with his ardent powers. The characters toast “to victory”. Sorin’s response is a sarcastic salute.
Elsewhere across the dunes a long line of trudging, worn slaves makes their way across the sand. Within their numbers, shackled to two other men with dead eyes and deader souls walks a Kreen named Kacha’ak, who is neither dead nor given up. He wonders at the coming of night as he looks towards the red star that rolls through the sky, wonders if it will bring his death on the end of a shank, or another beating at the hands of his cruel masters. His thoughts are interrupted upon cresting over the top of a high dune. His large black eyes view the slavers destination. Within his view looms the solid stone buildings of dwarven make that are named Ledopolus.
Back in the lavish box seat the party clinks their glasses together. Tom mistakes the fiery whiskey for something less impairing and begins to take shot after shot. Soon enough is well on his way to drunk. Brendos enters the room and informs the players that he has some business to take care of, giving them time to get cleaned up. Only a few minutes after he shuts the door, Tom vomits directly on the dwarven whisky. After an attempt to clean up the mess by Sorin and Therai the party begins to talk. Their conversation attempts to inform Sorin a bit about Balic. They tell Sorin about the golden plated statue the sorceror king of Balic has made of himself. They also tell her about Brendos’s estate where they will soon be returning.
The party goes to leave the Maladran and is beset by adoring fans. The fans ask strange questions, some of which make little sense and others which are quite personal. Therai is the only one who attempts to answer some of them. After the first few, the guards push through the crowd and get the characters to the caravan which drives away. The caravan is followed by a flood of children who begin to sing songs about Silt Serpents. Tom encourages their admiration. The caravan pulls into Bruthambar’s estate and guards shut the kids out as they close the wooden gate.
Because the party knows they are about to get a sand bath, Sorin uses her magic to once again cover the scar left on Tom’s chest. The men bath in one chamber, Sorin in another. After the bath, the characters are sent to a dwarven medicine man who slathers some paste on Abraxas’s wounds, killing the pain. He does little else for the party and sends them back to their rooms. After a bit, Brendos leads in a number of slaves bearing food to the group. He informs the party that he has been asked by two factions about their current price and will meet with both House Wavir and Lord Mezabran in the morning. Abraxas wonders aloud if selling them to the nasty Lord Mezabran would be a good idea and Brendos responds that he does not intent to sell the party until he learns much more about the Nibenay tournament.
The party eats it’s full except for Therai who cites that his headache has killed his appetite. Sorin feels for anything magically wrong with him but only winds up seeing that Tom’s defiler aura has begun to wave out from him. This effect is similar to a wizard casting offensive type spells and is opposed to the pulse of magic that emits from at-rest spell-casters. Now that they look back on Tom’s eating habits for tonight’s meal they realize that he ate the meat with special vigor. Tom himself is memorized by the smell of the bird. Because of this Sorin asks Tom if he is feeling any different. Tom responds that he is feeling twitchy. With nothing coming from this inquiry the party goes to sleep. Tom dreams.
Tom is a creature running across the dunes, hunting prey. This creature does not understand common. The prey he is hunting is a human who he tears the face off of. Tom awakes with a sigh of contentment. He does not attract the attention of the aware Sorin.
The party awakes in the morning. Therai states that his headache has cleared up and he is feeling much better. Tom awakes without a hangover which Sorin comments on. Therai then goes to get breakfast. He returns with oatmeal, eggs and other common fair, as well as broy for Abraxas (who wanted ail). Therai says that the meeting between House Wavir, Lord Mezabran and Lord Mal has already begun. The party discusses sending Therai to listen in, but in the end decides that it wouldn’t be a good move. Tom comments that he wishes he could be a fly on the wall in the meeting. Suddenly the group hears someone yelling upstairs but cannot make out who it is. This is followed by glass breaking. Sorin tries to find a servant but the dwarf guard outside the door refuses to allow her to leave to get one. The guard agrees if a servant should happen along he will send them in.
A servant does soon arrive at the door. Upon asking what is needed Sorin successfully acts as a superior and the slave follows along, even going so far as to bow before her. Sorin asks for ale, but also questions the girl on the noise upstairs. She explains that it was not Mal who made the ruckus but Lord Mezabran. She also comments on his frightening tiefling guards. The slave girl goes and retrieves the ale; when she returns with it a few minutes later she says that the meeting is over, they are not being sold and the interested parties are leaving. In thanks for her help, Sorin offers the girl a drink of ale, which she accepts. After giggling at her bad behavior, the slave girl leaves.
Four minutes later Brendos enters the room. At first he looks upset but then turns to Abraxas and asks him for tips on purchasing a quality slave for cheep. Abraxas tells him that it would be a good idea to buy here in Ledopolus or another outskirt city since their are less slave-scouts. Brendos is also informed that the time just after a tournament is ripe for purchasing, since many sponsors who lost members of their team are selling off the living partners to get out of the business. This information given, Mal thinks to himself and decides to take Abraxas with him to the market. He believes that his experience will aid him in the picking. He desires the Dray to be more presentable and decides he will need shoes for the business at hand. This is a suggestion that Abraxas seems less then thrilled with. In moments the two are off, with a group of eight guards to pick out the groups next team-member.
Tom, Sorin and Therai are left in the room where they discuss Abraxas for a bit. Therai comments how the dray’s emotions are strange and sometimes not what you would expect. Outside the door a voice of a dwarf in authority commands the door-guards keeping the party inside to come with him. Despite protests, the guards are taken and the party is given leave to exit their room. Upon leaving their room, the group manages to overhear the guards planning as they jog away. The lead dwarf speaks of an ambush, with ten targets that Bruthambar is commanding. Outside the window several lesser-armed guards come down the road to mind the parimiter of the estate, but do not come in. Several slaves approach Tom and tell him that the guards have left, both Bruthambar’s and Mal’s and that they are going to play cards. Tom is invited. Sorin and Therai wonder the house and talk.
Tom steals all the shells and dirt that is the pot for the game. Abraxas tries on sandals. Sorin and Therai talk about the elemental stone, freedom and what they would do if they had it, and other assorted things.
In the slave-quarter Abraxas uses his trained eye to find a slave that Mal would buy, but would also have a penchant for rebellion and may be willing to try and escape. Abraxas waves away a slave-master who is lashing the unruly slaves for past wrongs and looked closely at two kreen and one mul. One kreen is a hunter with a sandy brown color. The other kreen is quite and seems passive. The mul is very angry and looks like he wishes to destroy something. Abraxas takes an interest in the very tall sandy kreen. Mal asks him if he can speak common, the kreen says he can. Mal asks how long the kreen has been traveling. Mal is eventually able to translate his different time scale to seven years of travel. When Mal next asks where he comes from and receives the generic answer “Homeland” the slave master goes to lash him but is stopped when Abraxas grabs his hand and holds the blow back. Abraxas’s intimidating gaze gives the slave-driver pause and Mal seems pleased. He asks what weapons he fights with, and the kreen says a Gythka. Then Mal wishes to have a closer inspection and has the kreen unchained. He asks the kreen named Kacha’ka to jump onto the stone he was tied to, which is about 6 feet tall. Kacha’ka easily does so and then to further impress Mal, leaps well over his head and is bought on the spot for his trick. Mal takes Abraxas to deal with the slave-masters and Abraxas manages to haggle an amazing deal from the easily scared merchant, a pittance of 60 gold chits.
Back at the house Sorin and Therai’s conversation ranges from Sheeshesh to Sorin’s long past and back again. Tom is playing cards when very suddenly and out of nowhere he is elsewhere. He slowly wakes up from a blackout where he remembers nothing. A body is underneath him, and he is sitting up on-top of a bed. He realizes that he has a pillow in his hands and slowly removes it from the bodies face. It is Sheeshesh. He is dead. The sounds of sex comes down the hallway. Tom goes to spy on the participants and finds the guard that should be guarding Sheeshesh’s room is screwing a slave girl who belongs to Mal. Tom sneaks away only to run into one of the slaves who was playing cards with him. She asks him if he was able to “finish what you needed to do?” Tom says that he was and successfully lies to pass her. Tom returns quickly to their room. As he heads there Mal’s caravan rides up to the door and he and Abraxas and Kacha’ka enter. By this time Tom is quite calm and manages to control his facial expression. The group meets their new member in the halls. Therai is the first to introduce himself.
Kacha’ka sniffs Sorin and comments on how elves are tasty. Therai is made to worry by his comment but the kreen says that he did not mean to insinuate that he was going to try and eat Sorin, but that he does enjoy elf flesh. He is relieved. The group asks where Kacha’ka is from and is astonished when he says he is beyond the forest ridge, which many accept as the very edge of the world, and many others think is a myth. He says his homeland has crimson plains with little sand.
Since Kacha’ka is hungry he goes over to eat the leftovers from breakfast which is not much more then crumbs. Therai asks Kacha’ka if he has fought in the arena, he says he has. They ask him to expand upon his experience and he says that he has fought in both solo matches and team bouts. Kacha’ka tells that he once had to fight his own team and kill them in the arena. Therai tells Kacha’ka about the upcoming tournament in Nibenay and how the group won in the Maladran. Tom notices some activity outside the door and worries about the soon discovered body.
Sorin checks the “waves” of magical energy that were flowing out from Tom earlier last night and finds that they have settled back into the “pulse”. The group wonders what is going on outside. Once again, the young slave girl who earlier tried the ale comes into the room, she is bearing a refill to the earlier brought ale. She says that Sheeshesh is dead. The house suspects house Tomblador has sent an assassin to kill Mal, but with him absent chose to take his weakened guard captain. Abraxas makes note that she calls him “Lord Sheeshesh” and is outraged that she did so. With the ale delivered she leaves the room. Sorin beams at the usefulness of a kindly treated slave. The group ponders over this action on part of house Tomblador. Kacha’ka asks why people cook their meat, the group responds with a myriad of answers. Just as Therai is espousing how much he hates Sheeshesh Mal enters the room and the tiefling is forced to quickly cover his words. The short man glares icily around the room and says “we’re leaving in the hour”
The group wonders wether they will be given weapons and asked to guard, Abraxas doubts it. Sorin suggests that this estate is far superior to others she has been in for the past few years. Suddenly Therai, speaking psychically to Sorin tells her that he is now free of Sheeshesh’s influence. The chance he has to escape have just gone up.
The group has an hour to kill and proceeds to talk again with Kacha’ka about his arena experiences. This conversation turns to the thri-kreen clutch and Therai says that the four non-kreen members are a clutch, which Kacha’ka says is a synonym with family. Tom mildly curses and pulls out TaNiik’s totem and says it will be difficult to smuggle it with him. Kacha’ka says it is a totem and Sorin says it is a rod for magic use. Sorin looks closely at the rod and focuses her gaze on the water-like creature topping the item. Kacha’ka says that this is the great water spirit and Sorin looks as thought she already knew this information. The water spirit seems more important to TaNiik then the other primal forces. Sorin tries to look uninterested, but their is a gleam in her eyes. Kacha’ka tells of the retaliation against a former master who beat him with a stick. At this point Brendos enters the room with several guards and takes the group outside.
The group sees that the caravan has been fortified with plates of chitin and extra mercenary guards. The group travels on a out-of-the-way path, and not the main road. Rhamil Sandfinger is also along for the ride, bumping along while sitting on the back of the coach. The suns descends and the land turns freezing. The group is tied to the coach by ropes while the sun is going down. Tom spends minutes trying to weasel his hands from the rope. Kacha’ka notices he could easily uses his lower hands to untie his upper hands, he thinks to do so. The guards and mercs go about setting up the campsite. The temperature drops drastically to -3. The party is brought next to a large bonfire. Abraxas has a very hard time with the cold. The party attempts to help Abraxas as much as possible, coming up with many plans to keep him warm. When the party finally bunkers down and tries to get some sleep, Sorin sees a shooting star fly through the sky above and following it is a collection of savage looking rain clouds. A warm front is flowing in with the rain and soon it begins to down-pore. In the rain the group sees a horrible sight, a tembo stalking around a nearby rock. The tembo speaks to the group and says “Come little rats, come die.” A second tembo leaps out and begins to tear into the guards. A hideous fight begins between the many guards, the party and the two psychic, necrotic predators.
Deep in the midst of the battle, one of the tembo knocks Abraxas out cold and as he falls to the ground, consciousnesses leaving him, he has a vision. Abraxas sees he is in a white place with many battle-hardened dwarves, fully bearded and haired are looking down at him. One offers it’s hand and he stands well above their heads. The lead dwarf says that Abraxas summoned them when he offered words in the Maladran after the victory over the armored brute. They tell the dray that his heart is made of stone, that he has blocked off the feelings from his past. They say that he needs them, and then ask if he is really a dray, Abraxas says he isn’t much of one. The dwarves tell him that they wish to crack his stone heart and reforge it of metal, to let his anger burn and have the laughter when it comes. When Abraxas awakes as Therai heals him, he feels something hard underneath him. He reaches down and finds a stone shield of dwarven make, perhaps a sign or gift? The battle continues.
When the creatures become wounded they try to run but one is stopped and surrounded and beaten till it stops moving. After the fight, still in the rain, the guards thank and congratulate the party for their help, even telling Mal of their aid in the battle. The patrician pokes his head out of the armored coach and says “good job” before retreating back inside. The guards allow the party to keep their weapons for the night. As the group once again returns to their fire, which is now getting wet and dying down, they talk about what just happened. Therai remarks that Abraxas’s emotions are different. The group discussed Abraxas’s wounds when suddenly a green light shines from Sorin’s eyes. She hears a voice that only she can hear. She has a vision of a strange liquid creature in a cage, it says “finally I have found you” and asks for her help. Outside the cage, a tall figure with two sets of arms crosses both and speaks “we’ve been bad, what happens when we have been bad.” then a endless scream pierces her mind. She knows the message came from the ruins of Giustenal.
The party is quite confused at all the weird happenings and tries to make some sense of any of it. They are left thinking.