Red Sand & Black Sun

The End of Mezabran

We open in the middle of the fight with Bejein. He claims he is about to become more powerful. Suddenly Abrasis is dropped by the demon, at least he should be, but instead he hulks out and grows two extra arms. He looks just like the servants of Dregoth. Bejein does indeed lose all his flesh and starts radiating abyssal ice that even the strangely cold resistant Sorin is chilled by. Bejein is now a “living” demon skeleton.

The whole group is freaked out by the monster Abraxis has suddenly become, but because of the ritual Sorrin cast on the group before the fight began, we were able to tell that he was still in there, somewhere…

Battle continues for a long time (irl) but not that long (in game)
The portal solidifies as we strike the demon. Sorrin is able to see an enormous figure on the other side with a lightning whip. It is sending through a terrible cold and a horde of tiny demons to Bejein. Sorrin is also able to transform some of the evil ice around her into pure clean ice, but soon the horde of ice demons swarm closer and the group must flee. The monster that is Abraxis continues attacking the fallen demon, ignoring the advancing horde, the rest of the group flees up the tunnel, chased by the abyssal minions before they are called back. Therai tries to go back down before they are all gone to save Abraxis, but is stopped by Sorrin and Tom. Tanarch has Tassa. At the end we felt his mind leave him and become feral (through the ritual). Stasis flickers on and off, each time further away, but finally goes out entirely. As soon as it is all clear we head back down stairs. We note that the ice is gone, as are the remains of Bejein and also Abraxis.

Sorrin goes to collect the book of rituals and all components. Tom retrieves Blood. Then we all gather around the fallen shield. It does talk to us and says it isn’t alone. Bejein’s ghost protectors appear and say that they are freed of the demon, but if they aren’t claimed they will “pass on”. They ask one of us to bind to them. Tom accepts them at the last second. they offer eyes where we can’t go/see. Also they all 3 need to go to the same person. Sorrin determines that Abraxis’s body (at least) left the building through the wall. Therai attempts to psionically find him, but has no luck.

We see plants coming up out of spots on the floor where Abraxis’s blood fell, in the fashion of Hazar. They are all plants common to Athas. Soon we hear sounds coming from the upper levels. The group decides to use the ghosts to investigate. They promptly report back that the assassin of Nibenay, High Consort Denja- leader of the secret police is upstairs with many guards. We decide to make a run for it down the tunnels. Sorrin rips off the fluffy wedding dress and wraps her in Sorrin’s own cloak. We all hurry sneakily to the tunnel hole. Sorrin brings up the rear and releases the shrink spell off the iron grate to block off pursuit. We run and hide in the catacombs. After the clang of metal on stone clears, a female voice threatens us…. We use Tom’s map to navigate to one of Sorrin’s personal safe-houses in the city. We lay low for a bit, Sorrin goes and retreives food for everyone. Also Tassa awakens. Tanark asks Sorrin if he can stay there with Tassa until she is better. Sorrin shows herself to be an OCD cleaner, much to Tom’s amusement. We learn that Tassa has had no clue what has been going on since here trek to Nibenay from the Maladaran. We talk about how he kept bringing her back to life and she says she doesn’t know how he did it, but she believes it was him.

She didn’t know the other kings were in the city. Sorrin says she has a buyer for Tassa’s new house. Tassa offers it to her for 200gc. Tassa says something in Primordial to which Sorrin automatically responds. We discuss what to do about Abraxis. Kacha’ak is going to tell Brokenscale and the two plan to track him down. The siblings bicker a bit because Tassa wants to spar. The group intervenes and convinces her to chill out. Before we head out, Tanark gives Vindicator to Sorrin and she gives him her rapier. The group decides to meet up individually at the inn. Sorrin has to make a detour.
Tom splits off to run an errand.
Sorrin arrives back at the inn and goes to Therai’s table. He is eating again. The eladrin and the tiefling discuss Therai’s blossoming potential, he is becoming a psychic warrior who uses fear as a weapon. While waiting Sorrin inquires about Bruthambar. He soon after arrives accompanied by about 30 dwarven guards.

We go up and talk to the bearded dwarf upstairs in his room. We discuss the tournament. All the group, minus Abraxis and Sorin are going to be staying in the “care” of Bruthambar at the palace. Sorin refuses to come yet on the grounds that she has stuff she needs to do without being under the scrutiny of the kings. Bruthambar mentions trouble on the silt estuary.

The group will enter under The New Silt Serpants. Bruthambar believes his guards will be able to protect us from assassins and foul play. He also gifts us with iron armbands of power. Sorrin stays behind to discuss some business with the dwarf.

9 days till the tournament. Sorrin won’t join till 4 days before.
Opponents-
the minotaur brothers
Ikab the Razor- a drajian elven gladiator slave. He uses metal knives that can cut through stone. Also has a group.
Sch’keh- a Yuan-ti from the forest ridge, he is entering solo.

Bashurn, the Trapsmith- he is the guy who designed the arena. He is from Raam.

No champs for the cities which the three kings are from.

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The Whisperer of Madness

At the end of last session the party decided to move to the Bazzrag’s Bowl where huge fat bazzrags roam beneath patrons feet and eat their leftovers. The party takes note of a young eladrin girl sitting across the tavern with a half-giant guard. After eating, the party goes back to Sorin’s room and discusses plans over the diagrams of Mezabran’s house which Sorin obtained. Sorin turns to Tanark and asks him if he has any clues about how they could go about getting in. When Tanark has a hard time remembering Therai aids him psychically and he remembers that a specific room on the diagram has a wall broken out and covered with a tapestry which Mezabran uses to get down to an underground lair with a small connection with the sewer system. When he first tried to escape he used that very same small tunnel to try and run away.
Tanark talks about the time he escaped Mezabran, saying it was a rainy day and he was forced to leave Tassa behind since she was far away with the demonic noble when his opportunity arose. After much discussion the party seems to lean in the direction of taking this sewer entrance into the underground lair and surprising the demon there.
Abraxas says that he is going to go “cloths shopping” and proceeds to spread some clever rumors about Lord Mezabran, he spins the nobles wedding as a desperate event of a love-struck puppy, marrying a girl well below his station from a destitute household and then, fearful of retribution, fleeing Nibenay. In mentioning his intention to hurt Mezabran’s reputation, Sorin says that it is already underway and Tom also mentions that Mezabran’s greatest backer, Lord Brathen is dead. This comes as a surprise to everyone, but the only thing Tom will explain about the event is “he made me an offer I had to refuse”
The party gets onto the topic about why Mezabran wants to marry Tassa at all. They first think back to the theory about her becoming somehow more valuable for sacrifice after the bond is formed beneath Nibenay’s gaze. Then they think that because Therai feels that Mezabran is prone to obsession and Tanark knows that he obsesses over his own freedom, that perhaps he is going to trade the “more” valuable Tassa to another demon to secure his own freedom. Then Kacha’ak has the idea that with Tassa coming back to life, she could be used for infinite sacrifices, which would make her valuable indeed.
Just as the planning is wrapping up, Drokan knocks and enters with a piece of paper. He shares how he was out in the market at the Sages Square and he saw a number of ruffian boys looking at a strange piece of graffiti that he recolonized from his days of giant fighting. He shows the party a six-fingered hand that was painted on an ally wall, the boys who saw it ran away like it scared them. Drokan associates the symbol with giant-sympathizers but the other party members know it differently. Tom associates the symbol with rebels and anti-king propaganda. Sorin and Abraxas associate it with demonic cults but both know the truth, that the symbol is a catch all for many different rebel groups and cultists. The true nature of the symbol was that it was a mark representing an ancient group of shamanistic warriors who had associations with no king and were refereed to as the “Dark Sun”. The group assures Drokan that in this case it is not a symbol of giant sympathizers and Drokan relaxes “well, then we have nothing to worry about” he says.
The party finalizes their plans for Mezabran and Tanark goes to get some equipment, such as grappling hooks and boot spikes for the underground sewers, which can run into catacombs. Abraxas goes to spread his rumors and Sorin and Tom go out and do their own thing (clandestine activities).
Tom manages to secure maps to the catacombs for the party and the next morning the group goes and in secret, climbs down into the sewers a block or so away from Mezabran’s household, in the grounded nobles district. As the group climbs down they find themselves in a series of dark tunnels. Pulling out the maps they follow them until Kacha’ak hears a strange noise ahead and goes to investigate. When he returns he says that their are 30 or so cocoons ahead of giant moth babies. The party, knowing that the moths are not dangerous to people head past them and find the very same long tunnel that Tanark once tried to escape Mezabran’s house through. They see that it will be a tight squeeze. After Kacha’ak crawls all the way to the end, he sees that the opening into a far larger cave is blocked by a metal grate. Tanark laments that it was most likely put in after his previous escape attempt. Sorin has the solution and uses a ritual to shrink the grates size and it rips away from the wall. The eladrin puts the metal object in her pocket and the party climbs into a huge cavern with a live stable portal inside. Upon further inspection Kacha’ak declares that this is the rumored demon-gate, an object made during his ancestors time that was supposed to capture Bejein. It seems that the demon has turned the object to his own ends. Small demons clamor around it, and a bitter chill that seems to effect everyone but Sorin.
The eladrin approaches and looks at a book next to the gate. A tome is open to an ancient page with abyssal language scrawled in blood. Sorin leafs through the boo and finds a ritual to translate the text, which she uses. With the language unraveled Sorin plans to make use of some of the powerful magics she finds. The portal appears to be situated on a powerful leyline and much preparation has gone into it’s activation, so even the eladrin cannot turn it off without a lot of time. Instead she uses a magic she finds to trap ghosts, hoping to ensnare Bejein’s three warrior servants. She casts the spell and finds that her net actually catches two ghosts who acted as watchers of this place, a dwarf and an elf. The two creature are bound to Sorin for the time and cannot warn Bejein of the parties presence down here. With other information the spirits give, Sorin is able to switch some ingredients of the ritual to backfire on the demon, just when he thinks all is well. The switch is made and the party lies in wait for Bejein. The man Mezabran returns in a few hours and tosses a drugged Tassa on the floor then, with his ghosts all around him, approaches the alter and begins to cast his magic. When the inevitable lashing of magic backfires on the demon in his huge “true” form, the party attacks and a battle for the ages begins.

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The Demons Within and Outside

The session begins with the party finishing up it’s meal in the Happy Lady brothel. Therai mentions that the month of Scorch is finally over and Suns Rest begins tomorrow before heading off to bed, the party notices that the Tiefling looks tired.
Clem, Mul and Irastus enter the Happy Lady but the table doesn’t have enough room for the many of them to sit together.
In just a moment four silken step elves enter the brothel. Abraxas sees something different about one of the elves then the rest of the characters. One of the elves is surrounded by a bright light which dims quickly down to only the area where his heart would be inside his chest. The dray’s artifact shield whispers that the light signifies that the elf is an iron heart. Abraxas chooses not to act on that fact and lets the elves go about their business.
Tom brings up that he would like to find something to do and the other two, Abraxas and Sorin agree to it. Sorin mentions a casino called the Twin Scales that the group could visit. Before heading there Abraxas drops 20 silver at the bar and buys plenty of pitchers for the house.
Sorin splits off from Abraxas and Tom and the duo head into the casino. The pair are able to make out a few nobles as well as many patrons. Tom looks across the casino and can see a Thri-kreen named C’tl from his homeland of Draj. The half-elf makes an attempt to avoid the kreen who is playing games. The two head to the bar and Tom scans the crowd. In a moment Sorin enters the casino under disguise and gives a look around before heading towards the two team-members. She asks Tom to buy her a drink then begins to flit playfully with him for quite a long time before it becomes very clear that Tom is trying to bed her and Sorin makes a quick escape. Abraxas leaves the area, since he sees himself intruding on Tom’s attempts and meets with a small scrawny noble who offers him a job. He desires the Dray to act as a guardsman for an upcoming wedding (Mezabran’s). He will pay him 50 gold pieces for the event. Abraxas takes down his information and says he will get back with him.
Another woman approaches Tom after Sorin leaves, but he is put out by the recent events and thanks her, but sends her on her way. Sorin returns in a different guise that the party has seen. Remembering that he was watching the Kreen C’tl, Tom looks over and is startled that the kreen is looking right at him. He attempts to hide his features and Sorin “aids” him by kicking him in the shin, causing the half-elf to double over in pain. While he is down, Sorin brushes his face and uses her magic to subtly change his features. The kreen passes by with only a sidelong glance. Tom rubs his hurt shin and thanks Sorin.
Over at one of the tables a drunk human man punches a mul bouncer, their jostle causes a single gold piece to roll to Tom’s feet and the half-elf picks it up. Their clash causes more gold to spill out across the floor and everyone close dives towards the money. A brawl breaks out. On the far side of the casino, a handsome man with black hair put into a pony-tail descends half-way down a stairwell and commands a dozen guards in another room to “attend” to the problem. It takes about 5 minutes for the brawl to calm down. After things begin to calm, the bartender accuses Tom and says that he better give the gold piece back. Tom threatens him and the bar-tender backs off scared and winds up giving the half-elf a free drink. The man with the pony-tail is scanning the outskirts of the winding-down brawl, checking for people trying to make off with a few coins. The party comes together at the bar and talks for a bit. Tom asks Sorin why she recommended this casino. Sorin reveals that she had never actually been here and the other two party members remember that Sorin once spoke of a casino in conjunction with Grinis, Sorin’s evil daughter-in-law. This causes an “ah’ha” response from the party. Sorin takes a few minutes to check out the joint, looking for anything to do with her soon-to-be vengeance.
While chatting, the party overhears a conversation going on about a third king who will be soon entering the city.
Two guards soon approach the bar and begin talking over a meal about a pack of Genasi coming round the street outside. They speak about how strange they are. Sorin mentions in low tones that she has always been curious about them since they heard the rumor that a meteor hit their isle out in the silt.
The party decides it is time to leave and just as they do, Sorin sees the target of her ire, Grenis descends the stairs. She approaches the bar causing Sorin to pause and gets a special bottle of wine “Admonith Jenock” from under the counter. Sorin approaches and bumps into her and apologizes very sarcastically. Grenis steps around Sorin with a disgusted look on her face and heads back upstairs.
The party then leaves and sees the mob of Genasi coming down the street. Surprised, the party stops to look. The whole group is very curious and gawks at everything. They see a sand one, a wind one, several fire ones, and at their head is an old woman genasi made of rock. The genasi begin to stair and laugh at the Mul. The feeling is mutual until a few dozen begin to gather, then they start to make the Muls uncomfortable. The old rock genasi waves the group on. The leader now in the front flicks her eyes to the party and then to the muls next to them, then very quickly back to Sorin. Her mouth drops open and she starts repeating Cenalis Mukha, growing louder with each repetition. All the genasi stop, some as if stunned and begin to look at Sorin with reverence on their face. Sorin is quite confused. The genasi begin to kneel before the eladrin. Sorin tries to speak in her own elemental language to the leader. Abraxas moves forward to scatter the group and picks up their leader who is horrified and acts like Abraxas’s touch is burning her (it isn’t). The leader cries out and the group flees. Sorin takes the leader who falls to the ground after Abraxas drops her and goes with her into a nearby alley. The muls, who were initially very suspicious talk about how strange that was.
Sorin speaks in her elemental language to the earth genasi. It is obvious that the language Sorin is using is not the genani’s first language. Sorin asks why the genasi did that. The earth genasi says that it is because Sorin is a crystal daughter. Her gaze then changes, she thinks Sorin is now going to do something special, but the eladrin is at a loss. The genasi says “You must know the way to heaven. Lead us, we are ready”. When the eladrin continues to be confused. “You must have a way to get there.”After she is still at a loss the genasi whistles loudly and says "it is alright, we understand that you must be secretive in this place, we will find you again. The earth genasi leaves Sorin with many questions. The dwarves all begin coming up with strange and exotic reasons why that event occurred. Tom and Abraxas leave quickly back to the brothel.
As Abraxas walks through the streets he sees something strange fly over his head. He believes it is a man flying on a carpet, sweeping quickly out of an alley way and into another… but that’s crazy so he dismisses it immediately. Eventually the group meets back up at the brothel/inn. The party goes to sleep.
In the morning Drokan approaches the party and mentions a place where they can get great deals on leather-wear. That is what he has spent his day doing. Therai comes down the stairs and seems very tired. The party teases him but he seems happy. (they think he got laid) Brokenscale comes down about mid morning, but he looks bruised from the day before. the older dray asks the party if they know somewhere he can get his claymores. fixed. Tanark comes down without much fanfair. Kacha’ak comes too but says he is going out immediately.
That day Abraxas goes with Brokenscale to get his father’s claymores fixed. Sorin stays in with her grandchildren. Therai stays in as well and hangs out. Tom tries to enter a psionic mediation but finds himself unable without Therai’s aid. Kacha’ak comes back in the late afternoon and join the rest. At dinner Abraxas tells the party about his job offer last night. The party thinks it is very little money, and they will be busy right then with getting ready to kill Bejein.
That night all the party except Abraxas heads out onto the streets. Later that night, within his own room practing with his new powers Abraxas sees out of the corner of his eye a huge figure behind him in the room; but when he turns to see it, the figure is gone. Drokan scares the hell out of the dray by knocking on the door. Not knowing who is behind the doorway, Abraxas answers with his sword behind his back, but the dwarf only invites Abraxas out for a smoke. At first it seems as though Drokan is interested in information about the parties decision concerning the tournament, but Abraxas has no information for him. Drokan then asks Abraxas about the shield, and whether it is still talking. Abraxas says that it talks about “dwarf” things mostly. After a bit, Drokan begins to talk with the dray about their respective families, marriages and children. He strangely beings up that Therai may need some direction from Abraxas. After that short conversation, Drokan explains that Asteron, the horned demon will be competing with his huge brother in the Nibenay tournament.
When Drokan heads back inside the brothel and Abraxas is smoking in peace for a moment, the sky suddenly explodes and he sees a huge shape of a demon emerge from a massive cloud of smoke that billows up from the horizon. The dray then hears Nibenay himself use a psionic call to tell the demon that nothing of his world shall exist in his city, and the two begin to fight.
At that moment Tom is getting the hilt of a dagger shoved into his bloody hands (stuff happened outside of game) and in the minds of dozens of demon-hunters that are around the half-elf, they all hear someone scream “Amutaur!”. Then their is an explosion. Startled, all the hunters ascend from the depths of their cavern and look outside to see a huge battle going on between a gigantic demon (Amutaur) and what appears to be Nibenay and Lalali-puy. Tom seems less enthusiastic and jogs behind the many. As the hunters climb up the latter they gather in the upper area of the house. The many of them then hear Nibenay call out his challenge. Espen the hunter’s leader says that they are going to send out some scouts but nothing more. Hopefully if the kings are already fighting they will send the demon-lord back to the abyss quickly and with some ease.
Abraxas sees the demon summon a whip of lightning and a sword of fire, then begin fighting very tiny things. After a minute of fighting, Abraxas sees an explosion blast the demon and feels an intense defiling that sucks the breath out of him. The demon falls and whatever that was seems to be over.
Abraxas goes to Therai’s room and finds the tiefling kneeling next to his bed. The tiefling says he didn’t know where the noise was coming from and that is why he is listening near the floor. Abraxas explains the very strange situation that Therai failed to see. Therai wants to go check it out, Abraxas wants to wait. The two wait for Sorin to return by getting drinks.
Back with Tom the scouts return and say that the kings banished the demon. A magic-user among them clutched at her chest and said that the kings used a powerful magic. The hunters decide to split up and head back home since the city is likely to go into lock-down. Eventually, late into the night, all the party returns. The brothel is packed. When Sorin, who is the last party member to returns enters, she gets a bottle of whisky. Wanting answers, everyone in the traveling group goes into Sorin’s room. Tom shoots a lot of questions about House Shom, but Sorin doesn’t know much about the house except that it is leveled. Sorin plays dumb until a few party members leave, Drokan, Brokenscale and Clem, Mul and Irastus head out when Sorin asks to speak with the close party-members about the tournament.
Sorin explains that she was at House Shom and they were hosting a masquerade. The demon was summoned by The Red Dread. Therai seems surprised. The party discussed the possibility that the demon cultists outside the city and The Red Dread are working together, but it seems slim at best. Tom comments that he thought the Red Dread was a force for good, but Sorin says he is a force for chaos. Sorin keeps looking at Therai. Finally the tiefling gets agitated and asks what is wrong. Sorin says she has something sensitive to tell therai and doesn’t know if he wants the whole party knowing, but he is ok with it, it concerns the note he received from his father when they left the Silver Springs. Therai explains the contents of the note, that he has a brother Urik and a mother named Yul, who is still alive.
Sorin explains that she think she saw Urik today, and he is the Red Dread. She explains that she went to a meeting that night at House Shom with powerful people and it was interrupted by the Red Dread, who summoned Amutaur in order to destroy everything.
Therai is shaking when he stands up and tells the group that he needs to show them something. He takes them to his room and tells them to close the door. Therai turns to Sorin and explains that when they were out in the desert Sorin said some words that stuck with the tiefling, about being weak and helpless and that people are complacent and allow these bad things to happen. He took those words to heart and decided he wasn’t going to be one of those people anymore. He pulls a mock-Red Dread mask and shoes specially designed to look like he has feet (they have wood inside to fit his hooves). Sorin then pulls out one of the Red Dread’s swords, a bone scimitar which she asks Therai to touch. Nothing happens. Therai then pulls out a magic carpet and tells the party that it was he, dressed as the Red Dread who killed the shadow-guard the other night and lit the Nibenay flag on fire. He found the carpet for sale in the market place and the vendor had no idea what it was, he bought it quickly but kept it secret so he could do some good. That is why he has looked tired lately, he has been up at night doing these deeds against the throne. He has used the Red Dread persona because it protected both Therai and his friends, since the acts would be blamed on the bandit, and he wants to act like him because everyone spoke about the Red Dread like he was a hero. The party messes with the magic carpet, standing on it’s floating threads. Therai promises that he isn’t going to wear the mask anymore.
Sorin then starts revealing more information she gained earlier in the night. She tells the party that the kings are attempting to rewrite their current status-quo and create a three way pantheon, with Androponis being the sun, Lalali-puy being the moon and Nibenay being the sky. The other kings will still be enemies and hated. Sorin then is able to tell the party about times before in history that the sorcerer kings joined together to face a greater threat. Sorin guesses that it is Dregoth/Badna (who are the same guy) and that he is in Gustinal, the ruins of his ancient kingdom. Bejein may be working with Badna, also Abalach-Re may still be under Dregoth’s thumb. (she worked with Dregoth the last time he came around, but eventually betrayed him and told the other kings about his plans, and that is when they teamed up against him)
Abraxas shares that Asteron is going to be at the tournament. Sorin shares that Drokan is Bruthambar’s father. The party wonders about their family dynamic in which the father calls the son by his first name, but Sorin suggests that Drokan doesn’t want people to know their real relationship.
A few days pass. It is their 7th day in Nibenay. Abraxas comes down for breakfast and Drokan begins to speak with him about becoming a Arms-Trubador with Sorin. Abraxas says he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. Sorin comes down and presents the floor plan of Mezabran’s household and the group begins to plan how to enter. Eventually the group decided the best plan is to go through the sewer.

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The Winding Path Forward

Tom lands hard on the ground from his long fall. Only his own acrobatic abilities saved him from permanent injury. Gathering his wits, the half-elf runs up the stairs back towards the inn.
Inside the common room of the Lucky Blade, Kacha’ak is sitting at a table with Tanark nearby. The demon-marked human suddenly starts sniffing the air and says he smells a demon. Both abruptly hear the sounds of fighting coming from the smoking-deck Abraxas and Tom just went out on. Both rush forward but Tanark is the first on the scene. Both see the dray-like creature and Tanark goes to stab it with Vindicator but his attack is mostly ineffective. The dray backhands Tanark hard and knocks the fencer out. Kacha’ak has more luck with The Fifth Arm and the strike to the creature’s shoulder singes as though the weapon burned the creature to the touch. With a moments concentration the dray-creature phases and falls through the wooden deck to the ground far below. Looking up at the characters above, he then sinks into the ground and out of sight. Tanark moans in pain and Abraxas slips into blackness.

Tom comes upon the common room and sees the two other patrons, a pair of dwarves slipping out of the inn as quickly as they can due to the noises coming from the deck. Tom goes outside and together he and Kacha’ak tend to the wounded as they can. Soon Therai gets up and the two beckon him to take a look. With his cursory glance the tiefling begins to panic as he notices that Abraxas’s heart has stopped beating. After a long while of panic, the group mysteriously discovers that the dray is still breathing, so is alive, but his heart has ceased to beat. Kacha’ak winds up carrying Abraxas upstairs so they can keep him out of sight. The innkeeper offers to run and get a healer and when the group agrees, goes to do so. They get Abraxas into bed and Tom runs to Sorin’s room with the thought “this must be magic and Sorin’s the magic person” but finds only her two grandsons in her room; she has gone out.

After the combat, Abraxas finds himself in a strange and horrible situation. His soul or spirit has somehow been removed from his body, and he watches as Kacha’ak and the others carry his body up the stairs to lay it on the bed. He then hears three calls, each getting progressively louder for him to “COME!”. With each call he begins to speed inexorably towards somewhere. Abraxas’s spirit zooms beyond the walls of the inn, then beyond Nibenay, then out into the endless dunes and the last thing he sees before his ghost pierces the ground is a set of blurred ruins. He finds himself deep under the ground in a hexagonal room and there he sees Dregoth, creator of the Dray race. He is tall and emaciated with four arms, two containing black metal blades, the other two containing magical rods with lightning coursing between them. His form is draconian but still bipedal with reptilian skin and eyes and a down-turned muzzle. He turns slowly upon the soul of Abraxas. The room they stand in has several cages with the dray word “hold” written in runic form upon the bars and moving forms can be seen beyond the bars. Dregoth tells Abraxas that dray like him, who have the strength to betray their own people are exactly the kind of dray he wants in his army. The undead sorcerror king then begins to approach, telling Abraxas that he is of clan Kegon, or as he knows it, the bloodclaw clan. When his god consumes him, he will be reborn greater then he is now and will serve once again. Abraxas runs to the wall and tries to phase through, but it holds his form now. Just when the horror is upon him a thick armored arm comes through the wall around his neck and pulls him through the wall with it. Abraxas is now floating in blackness with a dwarf who uses his choke hold to put Abraxas out, saying it’s for his own good.

Back in the room Tom returns and informs the party that Sorin is out. Ka-Kliek goes downstairs, to deal with the stress she plans to use the oven to bake pastries. The group begins to discuss the fight which leads Kacha’ak to say that Tanark can smell demons. Tanark obviously doesn’t want the party knowing about this strange ability but tells them that he picked it up when he was with Bejein for all those years; he says demons stink. Therai then notices that Abraxas’s innate psychic abilities are beginning to increase and he is shrinking in mass. The party takes turns placing their various magical items on Abraxas in an attempt to do… something. Kacha’ak’s gythka is the only one that gets a reaction and it causes the dray to have a seizure. When it stops Therai bans anyone else from poking Abraxas with things. Just then Brokenscale enters the room naked and very injured. He falls to the floor immediately. Ka-Kliek is behind him and says that she found him yelling outside on the streets and brought him to the room. The party is able to determine from his wounds that he fought the same creature they did and didn’t do well. He is alive and breathing. Tom goes to Sorin’s room to wait for the eladrin to return and Kacha’ak leaves the inn and goes to track down Brokenscale’s movements.

His search leads the kreen to an alley-way where he sees the walls are near destroyed. He finds a small human street-child who tells him through terrified shakes that two monsters fought in that alley. Kacha’ak learns that their was one four armed and the other had tentacles for hands (brokenscale). With this horrible realization he returns to the inn and tells the others all he found except for the tentacles then goes to wait in the common room.

When the dray warrior awakens it is with the dwarf, in a infinite dune-scape with pitch-black skies. The land is featureless except for the dwarf before Abraxas. The dwarf introduces himself as Malan-beresh, or in dwarven, Armageddon. Abraxas introduces himself and then the dwarf tells Abraxas that he is in the Gray, and he is probably dead. Abraxas accepts his fate calmly and then chooses to go with the dwarf who says he is going to show the dray his friends that help him fight against Dregoth in the afterlife. Abraxas puts his hand into the dwarf and the Malan-beresh uses his knowledge of this place to whisk them off to another place. When they arrive they see a single camp fire and an old friend of the parties, TaNiik TaNiil, the magic-user who disguised himself as a shaman. In quick words the halfling tells the dray that he isn’t “really” dead; that the fire elemental that the party thought took his life actually saved it by sending his soul to the “crystal mother” who is a good being that helped him and is trying to warn the world about the impending battles coming towards it.

Sorin returns to the inn with a young girl, who happens to be her granddaughter “Gale” and is very startled to hear all the news that Kacha’ak has learned since she left; the boys are overjoyed to be united with their sister again. All together the party goes to the room where the party is keeping Abraxas and Sorin. Sorin learns all the party knows then notices that Abraxas seems to be gaining a magical power that he did not possess prior. Brokenscale wakes up and the party interrogates him about the alley fight. They discover that the tentacles are the manifestation of his connection to Ul-Athra and it will not be a danger to the party for another three weeks when the cycle resets and the sand-god calls on him again. Brokenscale tells the party that Dregoth is indeed responsible for the creature’s coming and that another once called upon him to join the sorcerer kings ranks. But with the lives of 15 dray warriors he said no. Dregoth is back, even though the old warrior didn’t want to believe it, and he means the world harm.

Back in the world of the dead a booming voice is heard over the endless dunes and Malan-beresh recognizes it as the spirit of his shield “Armageddon’s divide” and wonders why it is here and how it came to be here. Abraxas lets it slip that it the shield was in his arm when he died. This leads to quick and awkward questions about why a dray is holding the shield and what happened to the dwarf’s people, but all that takes a back seat to the idea that this event means that Abraxas is alive and the shield is there to take him back to his body. with Malan-beresh urging him to run, Abraxas takes off into a deep smoke and finds the gigantic primordial within his shield and wakes up. He spends the next few minutes telling the party all he heard and saw in the world of the spirits. Sorin is very concerned about the imprisoned spirits and Abraxas’s new magical powers. Therai questions Abraxas’s new psychic powers and calls him a battlemind. The party decides that things have gotten dicey and they need to change inns, so they buy rooms at a medium priced inn called the Happy Lady, a brothel.

When Sorin works on her rituals, Kacha’ak wonders the streets, Abraxas sits in private and makes objects float with his mind. He freaks out and goes to get Therai and Sorin’s aid. The two focus on helping him control his new powers and hiding it from would be onlookers. Kacha’ak meets another “sand kreen” out in the streets and they go to get food together to find out more about one another. The new kreen says he was bought by halflings to the city of Gulg as food, but he escaped. He is trying to flee from the people of Gulg, but they know him by a special necklace he wears; which he got for killing a terrible beast back in his homeland. Since both are keen, the other sand-kreen offers to give Kacha’ak the necklace in hopes that he can keep the traditions alive and put it to good use.

Abraxas seems to grasp the abilities of psionic and magic very quickly and thinks to combine the two… like a templar. Sorin thinks this same trail of thought and links him as a templar of Dregoth. Abraxas doesn’t think this is the case.

The party except for Kacha’ak meet in the common room and discuss not fighting in the tournament. Tom thinks that it is stupid to make Bruthambar angry and to pass up this chance for true freedom. Therai asks for directions to Bast’s cobbler shop. Tom goes to pick up his now fixed dagger from the shop. Tanark leaves, Abraxas is bored and Kacha’ak goes to follow up a lead about a tattoo job the other sand kreen told him about and learns that if he shows up the following morning that he can have the job.

Abraxas and Tanark have a conversation about Bejein and the human fencer says that Mezabran has only one friend, a man named Brathan who is also a noble. Tanark also says Mezabran used to speak about someone pursuing him, he would only speak in this way when things got bad.

Kacha’ak argues with Kacha about the ancestor’s desire for the kreen warrior to kill the young kreen woman who bought the kreen slaves. He does not believe this act will send the message that Kacha wants it to send, but will only cause more problems. Kacha’ak does not think the slum kreen are “people” but they have the potential to be. Kacha’ak does not know how to tap into this potential… But does not wish to lead the slum kreen to slaughter for no good reason. Kacha and Kacha’ak wonder about the correct method to use in accomplishing their goals. They wonder if leading the slum kreen out of the city, or killing the kreen woman and use the threat of death to coax them out would be the best approach. If they lead them out then they might find another kreen tribe and get those more experienced kreen to help the slum kreen learn how to survive in the desert.

The next day the group is sitting down to a meal and two half-giant guards are talking about the red dread. Apparently last night he lit a banner of Nibenay on fire and murdered a shadow guard. He and his fellows also broke into a nobles house and killed him. A lord Zitell. Their are rumors that he was dirty. These crimes happened back to back, this guy is very coordinated. Also rumors that a clan of Genasi have come to town spring up.

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The Belly of the Beast

Sorin speaks with her noble contact of House Sarg then leaves and heads back to the Veiled Alliance safe-room she left Ka-Kliek in. She and Ka-Kliek have a chat and “fancy” dinner. After the feast Sorin and the kreen woman hear loud drums coming from the outside street and Sorin goes to investigate. There she sees the entrance of Lalali-puy into Nibenay. A huge procession of acrobats, fire-throwers and judaga enter the city with smoke and intimidation. In the midst of it all, Sorin witnesses the highest rank of Judaga, the Elders. Hideous abominations of men who have had their eyes pierced to stay open at all times and slash-wounds that are kept open with needles to keep themselves constantly bleeding. Through the deepest smoke sitting on a moving miniature pyramid, beyond even the elders Sorin sees the sorcerer queen of Gulg herself. Black as pitch, silky smooth and mostly naked save for metal rings stuck through her body, covering her almost from head to toe. She appears bored and at the same time, superior.

Outside of the city Abraxas, Therai and Tanark get painted by Bast to look like dead men, then cloaked, all head together to the meeting spot with the Wavarian guards. Tom gets dressed up like a cobbler’s helper and learns some simple answers to the few questions that the guards may ask him when they go to enter the city together. Drokan and Tom will both be traveling with Bast, acting as her help and cousin respectively.
(Brokenscale, Clem, Maul and Irastus all have their own ways in to the city)

The dead-looking men meet up with the guards, led by two women. The party notices the strange gender differences that are quite the reverse of most places in the world. After a bit of chat the group piles in with the large pile of dead bandits that are normally let right through the gates because they will stink and sicken onlookers if let to sit.

Bast, Drokan and Tom head with her cobbler’s wagon to the city gate, called the Mekillot Gate because it can fit two mekillot abreast through. There everything seems to be going quite as planned when the guard is called over to his superior. When he returns he tells Bast that he cannot let them through as the sorcerer queen has entered the city, it could be up to an hour.

Back at the gate, the Wavarian corpse wagon is also stopped because of the queens entrance and the disguised party members are forced to sit in the pile for far longer then any of them ever wanted. A angsty guard starts stabbing the dead bandits and stabs Tanark’s hand, causing him great pain, he eventually throws up silently. While amongst the large crowd at the gate, Abraxas hears about a group of elves that have just arrived in Nibenay called the Silken Step, rumored assassins who are making the crowds uneasy. Finally all are let into the gate and meet up with Sorin and Ka-Kliek at the appointed warehouse where the dirty magically clean up.

The party goes and using a sound plan, rent a room at two seperate inns so they can switch with ease should they get in trouble (they are worried that with the busyness inherent in this huge tournament, that all the rooms will be gone). They get rooms at two seedier inns, the Wild Dunes and the Lucky Blade. The dunes is quite the worse of the two, with a rough crowd of elves and humans, even a halfling. The lucky blade has an old mul woman as innkeeper and she is agressive. The inn appears to be a place for dwarves, muls and humans as well as a smattering of elves.

With their rooms bought, the party splits up and goes to do business in the city of towers. They wonder the streets, looking in shops, going to auctions and visiting the slums respectively. They find many exotic and magical items, some of which they spend their hard earned gold on. Sorin and Tanark go to find a good disguise for Tanark to wear while in the city.

Kacha’ak goes to the kreen slums of Nibenay and looks without pity on the slovenly way these Tandi-kreen live. A alpha-male kreen with two females takes a disliking to Kacha’ak, a “sand-kreen” and starts getting rough. A crowd gathers to watch the fight but when Kacha’ak demands the alpha’s submission something unexpected happens. The slum-kreen recognize him (falsely) as a khan (chieftain of a kreen tribe). They call him Mech’shital (or savior) and ask him to aid them in rising up to overthrow those who oppress the kreen in Nibenay, but Kacha’ak refuses. Just as soon as things start getting loud Ka-Kliek pulls Kacha’ak away from the slums, saying that they should go. A shadow bride enters the scene and breaks up the crowd by quickly killing a kreen protester. She asks Kacha’ak a few questions then notes that he is quite a bit smarter and more able then the weak kreen here and tells him to stay away from here, which he calmly says he already intended to leave and goes. The two kreen later run into a slave auction and suddenly Kacha’ak feels an intense hatred pouring from Kacha inside him. It is for a kreen female who is purchasing a chain of kreen slaves for her own use. She has a giant male kreen guard with her. Kacha calls her a race betrayer and sets Kacha’ak to hunt her down. The warrior and Ka-Kliek chase the kreen woman to a warehouse where they spy her telling commands to the slaves and the slaves are acting out her every order. The woman-kreen and her slaves and their tails then leave and Kacha’ak follows them to her house. After he finds the location of her home, the kreen warrior leaves secure in his information.

During this time Sorin buys a precious religious artifact from a temple of Nibenay (gauntlets of blinding strikes) and Abraxas buys some magical dice (midnight sixes) from an auction and that night gives them to Tom.

Tom goes knife shopping and, being thrifty, makes a deal to save some money on repairing his magical dagger and spends most of the day walking across town.

Sorin goes to the Vaults of Nibenay and tells them the secret information to access her own vault. There she gets all of her money that the bank owes her and also is given a mysterious letter written in eladrin with fine penmanship. It was delivered to the bank only two days prior and holds an invitation to the illustrious club Cloud Nine. Written inside the envelope is “We have an offer you won’t refuse”. Once she leaves the bank with her new full money pouch, she goes searching for her lost grandchildren. Her search takes her to a broken back alley where supreme luck has her overhear her grandson Brinshaw, the older of the two. Both boys have taken up with a rebel gang that steals to survive. They have little food or clothing. Sorin has Brinshaw (who is quite the angst-filled teen) get his brother after managing to convince him that she was really Sorin (she was in disguise when she showed herself). After the eladrin grandmother gets some food into the boys, she takes them both back to the Lucky Blade and introduces them to the rest of the party.

That night the party is resting at the Lucky Blade, Sorin has gone upstairs with Clem, Maul and Irastus who are in a nearby room. She is with her grandchildren catching up on lost time. Tom, Abraxas, Tanark, Therai and Drokan are smoking and drinking downstairs. They sigh contented with a day of not dodging danger and feeling the oppressive heat on them at all times. Tanark gives the party gifts, well-made hand-crafted smoking pipes. He is still very preoccupied with the oncoming wedding of his sister to a demon but the other two wave him off for the moment, he never stops. Tom and Abraxas go out onto a deck where they smoke. While out on the deck a massive dray figure cloaked in black walks out as well (though Kacha’ak never saw him go through the common room). Once outside the two become quite alarmed by the huge figure and draw their weapons. In an instant the dray-like creature is upon them and hurls Tom off the balcony (he catching onto a clothing cord a few meters down) Abraxas slams his shield into the mammoth’s head, and stabs it in the chest, but the wounds heal nearly instantly. The bulk around the cloaked figure’s midsection reveals itself to be an extra set of arms. He grapples Abraxas and tosses his shield aside with titanic strength. He speaks in a strange harsh language but Abraxas can only make out two words “Bada” and “Dregoth”. The dray-creature jams a open palm towards Abraxas’s chest and he screams.

View
Nibenay at Last

The session begins with Sorin, Tanark, Tom, Kacha’ak, Clem, Irastus and Mul chasing after the fleeing defiler who runs into a long and narrow canyon at the back of the rocky area. Abraxas and Therai go to aid the prisoners who were under the mental control of the psionic human among the cultists, but now that they are freed they are panicking. Both tiefling and dray approach and the older and younger woman and manage to talk down the elder of the two, but Abraxas has to resort to slapping some calm into the younger just to get her bonds off. All the while Brokenscale is taking in the smell of the battlefield as he cleans his weapon and checks the bodies for valuables. Drokan goes to speak with the other former prisoners back at the mounts.
Meanwhile Sorin attempts to block the defiler’s way by causing an avalanche in his path to little avail. Running past the rocks she did knock down from the canyon wall, the defiler struck back by doing the very same thing with his powerful lightning, causing several good sized rocks to fall between the party and the dark wizard. Kacha’ak makes short work of these rocks by jumping a grand distance over them. Sorin remembers that the ritual she was using to cut through obstacles for their mounts is still working and activates it’s power to help herself, Tanark, Tom and her veiled alliance allies move quickly through the mess. Kacha’ak arrives through the dust and rocks first and sees the defiler just as he teleports into any one of a dozen small winding canyon-ways. When he reaches the junction between them all he listens to find the culprit. Just as the rest catch up he tells them to guess one of the two paths that he is sure the defiler is down. Sorin searches for magic and comes up with the same information. One of the two paths is correct. Tom however knows exactly which path the defiler is down since Spit his demon is following him from the air, but does not mention which. Kacha’ak and Tom choose correctly with Sorin and the other three taking the other path. Their are tense moments of chase before Sorin and her crew realize that they have gone the wrong way and turn back to take the other path. Kacha’ak and Tom are slowed by a natural barrier, a wall of rock with a single small hole in the middle (which the wizard teleported through) The party comes together again when Sorin also makes use of her natural ability to teleport as an eladrin and cuts out the time the other two had to use to climb up and over the obstacle.
The defiler is fianally pinned and a fierce battle begins with magic shooting back and forth and the blades of both the half-elf and the kreen dealing enough damage for a final powerful shot by Sorin to finish the job. As the defiler lays dying on the ground he tries to reach out and whisper a word, but suddenly is crushed by a huge unseen force that smashes his body into pulp. Sorin can see a powerfully magic symbol which she knows is the symbol of Orcus, which she takes note of, and Tom feels the presence of a demon. After the group gets abruptly over their shock, they leave to return to the others in the group.
The group arrives back with the others and together they speak to the goliath Grum and several of the other prisoners who tell the party that the cultists did horrible things, but also that they had a wagon of supplies nearby that they take the party to. After rummaging inside, the group finds three potions inside a locked and trapped box that are used to knock people out. When exiting the wagon several members of the party notice that Grum has a bad infection and will surely die soon. Abraxas mentions it to Brokenscale wondering if they should do something about it, Brokenscale’s response is why? He wonders at the burden taking care of the goliath would be and says not to bother, but Abraxas insists and has Therai aid the half-giant.
Together the expanded group uses the wagon and mounts to ride across the last of the Stormclaw Mountains. The newcomers are wary of the group with so many strange people, and the fact that they are obviously lethal doesn’t help either. During the last night of their journey the air grows bitterly cold and the group has to huddle together next to fires for warmth. Sorin and Kacha’ak aid two of the former prisoners in staying warm. During this time Kacha speaks in Kacha’ak’s head. The ancient kreen tells Kacha’ak that the group will soon be in Nibenay and that his time to choose if he is going to clutch is now. Kacha’ak decides that it is time to clutch with the group and goes out herb hunting to find some special flowers for making tea. When he returns from his hunt it turns out he has been successful and brews the tea. He then pours and gives a cup to Tanark, Abraxas, Sorin and Tom and says that this is a part of a ritual to become clutch with non-kreen; a symbol so they can feel involved in the process.
After the moment of comradeship the group begins to feel strange and together are sucked into a vision of Kacha’s past. Their they see Kacha’s clutch arguing around a fires light in a unknown desert with strange stars in the sky above. A human with dreadlocks and a spiked chain named Bardis, the dwarf Yarnath and an elf girl all make up the kreen clutch. They argue about Kacha needing to leave the group for all their safety. The party can clearly see the demon mark of Bejein on Kacha’s chest. The warrior Bardis desires to go and kill Bejein now and be done with him, the dwarf Yarnath wants to go and find someone called the “preserver king, beyond the glass” and then go kill Nibenay. All but the elf girl agree on one thing, that Kacha needs to leave the group, and for the good of his clutch, the kreen goes.
The party finds themselves back at their own fire in the chill air of the night. Kacha speaks to the whole party for the first time, telling them that their clutching ritual reminded him of that night; he says the two groups are similar in some aspects. The ancient ghost then reveals what he would not before because until Kacha’ak clutched with the group they were not worthy of this level of trust. Kacha removes the powerful illusion from the khans gythka and unveils that it is an ancient gythka made of blue empress dasil. Kacha says that it was his own weapon that he has hidden away till he found someone worthy of it. It is called the Fifth Arm and it is the true home of Kacha’s ghost, not the crodlu as he had led the party to believe. He also tells the party that the crodlu that Kacha’ak rides is his own crodlu, thousands of years old. The party has a question for the ancient spirit and wonders what the sword vindicator is since it was supposedly connected to this very gythka. Kacha explains that vindicator is one of the seven weapons of Tyr, the ancient leader of the city of Tyr, and the sorcerer king founder of the now free city, before Kalak’s time. The party dwells on the news but can do little more as they need to focus on surviving the frozen night. Thanks to the parties natural fortitude they are able to keep all the sentient people alive, but loose two inix to the frost.
In the morning, the warmth of the sun shines down warming the land and Ka-kliek’s cocoon. The shell finally breaks and much to everyone’s surprise (especially the new travelers that the party saved yesterday) a fresh green Ka-kliek emerges with wings capable of flight and a slue of other new abilities. She is stunned, even frightened of what has become of her, but the party tries to reassure her even as they keep the newcomers from seeing her as much as possible. The kreen woman shows that her skin can now camouflage into invisibility, she can fly, and can create wet blue dasil which hardens almost immediately. With as little fanfare as possible the group travels on.
After a half-day of travel the group finally reaches Bremil Pass and gains news of the road from messenger boys and girls sent from other caravans waiting to pass through the canyon. Nothing is very alarming and the group keeps their heroic deeds under wraps so as not to draw attention. The party lies and says that they came through the mountains, a far less impressive feat. After about an hour the group is allowed to pass through and finds themselves exiting the pass into a forest, the likes of which most of the party has never seen. There the many guards stop the wagon and give the group a warning, specifically to the dray among them. The guards say that their are several cloaked half-giants who are attacking and killing any dray they find nearby and that the two of the should be careful. After the wagon moves on Brokenscale expresses his mistrust of their warning and says they were holding information back. The group has many hilarious mishaps in the forest and are scolded by Sorin for touching so many things. Eventually they exit the forest and see the grand city of Nibenay itself in the distance with it’s spiraling towers and great walls.
On the final road to the city they see dozens of shops have set up outside the city and are catering to hundreds of travelers who are waiting on their chance to enter the city proper because of tight security. The groups wagon is accosted by a beggar who it turns out is actually a member of the veiled alliance and tells Sorin to pull off the road far back from the stalls and wait. The group does just that and eventually another member of the alliance, a mul named Bast Umbumbar rides up in a cobber’s wagon and approaches the party. She makes quick small chat and tells them that after such a long journey their shoes will need some patching up and invites them in her wagon (of course this is all to get the group in a more confidential environment to speak freely) the group goes along and inside the wagon Bast tells the group that she is with the alliance and they have a plan to get the whole group in the city. Tom and Drokan will come with her and act as helpers/cousins to get in the city with her, whom the guards know well and wont bother. Abraxas, Therai, and Kacha’ak will meet with some house Wavir bounty hunters who are due back near the end of the day and with makeup helping, will pretend to be dead bounties and simply ride in with the other corpses that the headhunters got in the dunes. The guards won’t stop a cart of dead men because of the stench, not to mention they are part of the largest and most successful house in Athas. Brokenscale and Clem, Maul and Irastus will get in their own ways. Fianlly Sorin will go into the city with the wagon and Ka-Kliek hidden invisible in the back of it.
The plan goes into effect and Sorin and Ka-Kliek go together with the wagon to the gate. They are stopped by the guards but with the special papers Sorin possesses she gets let in quickly and heads for a veiled alliance safe house where she leaves the very nervous Ka-Kliek. The eladrin then heads to the serpents tower to get to the cliff-side where the noble houses reside. She goes to her own and finds it both abandoned and ill-kept with dust and glass shards everywhere. Furious she then heads to a noble friend, the house of Sarg to speak with her good ally Tala.

View
The Stormclaw Mountains

The session began in the aftermath of the Thrax fight, with the party victorious, but not without cost. Drokan woke up from being knocked out during the last few seconds of the whirlwind to see the party battered but not broken. With the sun coming up the group decided to begin it’s travels for the day and mounted up. Abraxas picked up his withered water-skin as he neared his inix and cast it away as it was brittle and useless.

The party made slow speed through the layers of high rocks that seemed ever-present in these lands and eventually, with the sun rising over the crest of the horizon, saw the mass that was the Stormclaw mountains in the distance. Drokan said that they were not more then a day and a half away. During the day-long ride, Abraxas and Tom held a conversation in which Abraxas was inadvertently rude and called Tom a liar, causing the half-elf to not speak with the dray for the remainder of the ride. Abraxas and Sorin then started trying to teach each other about particular skills, Sorin tried to teach Abraxas the “common” alphabet for the purposes of learning to read, and Abraxas tried to teach Sorin the draconic language. Abraxas was able to learn his ABCs for common, but Sorin had a far more difficult time with the dray language, mostly because Abraxas himself did not know anything about grammar.

That night the temperatures dropped into the 30s with a fierce cold-snap and bitter strong winds. Kacha’ak attempted to build many fires with little avail until Tom suggested they station the party and the fire behind a wind-breaking rock which was very successful. After setting up the fire and huddling near it for warmth the party used their magical goblets to toast each other’s accomplishments and drink the magically imbued liquid. Thanks to Sorin’s magic, the cold water they drank became hot and tasted just like hot chocolate. The party drank to each others great deeds and were warmed by the delicious brew, which Tanark said was the best thing he had ever tasted. Just as the toasting was finished Kacha’ak was started and jumped into a defensive stance with his Gythka out ready for action, but dropped it when the huge beast in the night turned out to be Hazar the Gynosphinx. This did not stop Brokenscale from yelling a battle-cry and charging forward, but the calls after him did cause him to suddenly stop. Hazar whispered towards the group and as she did the party could see trees, plants and wildlife spring up around them, filling in the frigid wastes with greenery and warmth, though it was obvious that they were still in the same place. When asked why she had come, the sphinx told the group that she had come with news about what she had learned concerning Zeburon, the Iron Rider and his purpose behind attacking Kacha’ak. She told the group that she flew after the cloud-ray and the bandit-lord using wispy clouds she created as cover until she had tracked them back to Slither, the Crawling Citadel. There Zeburon met with a bearded dwarf that Hazar guessed was an undead from an ancient age when dwarves commonly possessed facial hair. This dwarf had demonic hands, scaly, red and tipped with claws and wore a demon-skin tunic. He breathed smoke and his eyes were pin-points of red. Hazar then explained that one of her powers was to gaze upon a person and steal their true name. She did that to this monster and learned his name was Yarnath. The dwarf saw Hazar and used powerful magic and psionic talents, ripping the ground apart with a extremely lethal blast. Hazar barely escaped. The sphinx warned Kacha’ak that he should stay out of the Black Sands if at all possible since this man obviously was dangerous and seemed to control Zeburon.

After this was explained the party still had questions concerning this warlock from a past age, but Hazar had no more information. She said that she would gather her people, the sphinx together and try to convince them to aid her concerning this matter. At this point Kacha’ak revealed that this Yarnath was a enemy of his ancestor Kacha. The two had once been clutch back when they had been alive. But Yarnath had always been worried about the might of the kreen and became more and more obsessed with taking it away from them. Eventually this caused a duel to the death between the two, which Kacha won. Kacha even suggested that Yarnath may have been responsible for summoning the demon Bejein in the first place, though he had no proof. Yarnath wanted to see Kacha suffer, and needed Kacha’ak alive so he could torture the spirit ancestor through his bloodline by having them both watch the genocide of the kreen race. The party absorbed this dire information then after the mood settled down Hazar asked if any of the newcomers or previous non-champions wished to take the sphinx’s test. Tanark stepped forward, then Clem and Maul, then finally Irastus. None became champions, but neither were any killed. Hazar was disgusted by Irastus and his apparently terrible past and sent him away quickly. Hazar then offered to teleport the party a reasonable distance towards Nibenay to help on their way. The group accepted and when Hazar flew away and the plants and trees vanished, they were much closer to the Stormclaw Mountains. Unfortunately their fires were back at the other camp-sight and they needed to make new ones. The chill caused the party members to get less rest then they otherwise might have and have a horrible experience, but otherwise none were permanently harmed save for a small inix, which died in the night.

When the group woke, the day did not warm as it usually did, instead the cold air came off the mountain peaks and a light fog rolled down the slopes. The group mounted up and Sorin cast her Trailblaze ritual to aid their travels as they winded through narrow canyons and between mountain and foothill. After several hours the group saw upon a high mountain ridge a group of four hill-giants. The inix’s were steered towards the large boulders nearby to hide till the giants passed, but Drokan was forced to split away from the larger party because the rocks they were behind were only big enough for them. When he went behind his rock, a poisonous snake slithered out from between a crack, spooking his mount and causing the dwarf sun-priest to become dismounted as it bolted out from under him and into the open. In the blink of an eye, a giant rock flew down like a meteor and crushed the inix to death; it was thrown by one of the female giants. One of the males came down and the party pressed themselves tight in their hiding spots as the giant raked up the fleshy pulp and his rock then went back up on the cliff and the giants walked out of sight. The party collectively sighed and went on their way after Drokan mounted on Kacha’ak’s crodlu.

It was another few hours before the group was forced to travel into the foothills due to rough-terrain and there they encountered several scared people, bound by the hands fleeing a group of darkly-robbed men. The front robed man tried to hide a ceremonial knife from the party as he asked for his “slaves” back, as they had ran behind the party for protection. The bound men and women, one young human girl and man, a goliath man, a dwarf man, and an elf woman cried that their captors were going to sacrifice them to a dark ritual and were twisted folk. The party could see over a dozen men up on the secluded rise which the prisoners had fled from. The party was obviously well armed so the robed man offered the group money or perhaps the goliath to sell when they reached civilization, as long as they returned the remainder of the “slaves”. Sorin sensed defiling magic and Abraxas was outraged as the party drew their arms and proceeded to slaughter the cultists who were ill-equipped to fight the well-armed party. Among their ranks was a defiler human with a dark face and evil aura, also a psychic human who seemed to be keeping the sacrifices docile. Those two were quite a bit more impressive then the rather ordinary men who made up the bulk of the cultists and the defiler shot bolts of black lightning that injured several party members. He also killed and threw one of the sacrifices into a deep-dug pit and called upon several demon lords to accept his offering. At first he was confused as nothing seemed to be happening. Tom’s glass dagger, given to him mysteriously during the night seemed to have a strange reaction to this attempted sacrifice, and Tom saw in it’s mirror-like surface the face of the sacrificed man, anguished by unseen forces. Tom quickly sheathed the glass dagger as he had never meant to draw it in the first place, it was put into his hand by his magical armor (which normally does that).

Undeterred, the defiler tried again, this time with three of the cultists who jumped willingly into the pit to die. From the pile of bodies already in the hole rose a terrible demon as the cultist sacrifices were torn apart by invisible claws. The demon had great wings and a beak like a vulture. It took to the skies and attacked the party from above as the defiler made his escape into several back canyons behind the pit and alter. Tom threw one of his knives at the creature and bit into it’s flesh. Surprised the creature flew away after rending two still-living sacrifices and carrying their bodies off with him.

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Enemies in the Black

Sorin reeled from the effort of removing the curse from the judaga mask. It had been a difficult process with a powerful aftereffect, the mask had forced her to witness a psychic imprint left upon it by it’s former master, the act of defiling. The eladrin was now suffering from a vague sense of defiling withdraw and feels the urge to defile whenever she casts a spell. The party discusses the possibility of the judaga returning in the night to finish them, they believe the judaga could easily kill the party in the physical world. Therai gives the party a reason to believe he will not return when he tells them that during his psychic battle in Sorin’s mind he was able to instill a bit of his own fear within the gulgian warrior, the judaga responded very well to that fear and became quite scared of the situation and the party before fleeing. Therai thinks that the fear he felt will keep the warrior away for the time being. Tom states with some trepidation that the judaga can still find the party wherever they go since he was able to find them out in the middle of a dangerous desert. Sorin is able to calm his nerves about that as well; having felt the power of the mask in full she tells Tom that Lalali-Puy herself placed a special enchantment on the mask that allowed the judaga to find fey creatures over great distances, and Sorin herself is a fey creature. Now that he does not possess the mask and it’s enchantment he can no longer find the party so easily. Tired for the time, the party lays down to rest. In the night Kacha speaks to his ancestor through a psychic connection. The ancient keen asks his bodkin if he feels more ready to clutch with the group, since it will be needed for the fight against Bejein. He also reminds the ranger that with a kreen empress in cocoon, he is not just fighting for vengeance, but for the kreen races future. Kacha’ak says that he feels a deeper connection to the party but is not quite ready for the clutching. He also asks why the clutching is necessary for killing a demon. The ancient spirit tells Kacha’ak that Bejein plays off the weaknesses within a creatures mind, and Kacha’ak’s lack of clutch is a great weakness that the demon will exploit. When Kacha’ak asks if having a clutch will also be a weakness since he will have more people to care about then just himself, Kacha responds that the scenario Kacha’ak speaks of is possible, and that is why he needs strong clutch-mates like Sorin, Abraxas, Tom and Therai. Kacha seems satisfied that he has grown more fond of the party and lets the subject rest. In his sleep, Abraxas murmurs in a strange language and seems to be dreaming.

Later in the night, very near dawn, Tanark receives an important message from Tassa in Nibenay through the twins psychic connection. He wakes the group and tells them about what she said. Bejein has become more paranoid as of late because of the party and is in the process of preparing a ritual deep in his manors basement, a sacred space that no one but him is allowed to enter, and the reason Mezabran does not allow guards into his home. He is also soon to be wed to Tassa and keeps telling her that they will consummate their marriage in a far away place. When Tanark describes a few of the ritual components to Sorin she is able to tell that the ritual is of the teleportation variety and seems capable of crossing planes. With that knowledge the party thinks the demon is going to take Tassa to somewhere terrible. In Mezabran’s paranoia he has hired on a psychic guard to keep Tassa from communicating with Tanark, but while trying on wedding dresses Tassa managed to slip away and send the communication to Tanark. The wedding will be one week before the tournament in Nibenay beneath the gaze of the palace. Tanark states his intention to stop Bejein at all costs from taking his sister. The party begins to plan, maybe of crashing the wedding itself, but their sure to be many guards, or attacking Mezabran before the wedding. Then a possible idea presents itself; during the wedding Mezabran will bring the majority of his house and personal guard to keep the ceremony safe, leaving his house unguarded; the party can sneak in and down into his sacred space. When he returns to the house they will ambush him in a place where no reinforcements will be called. Not decided, the party sees the sun begin to rise and breaks camp. Just as they are making ready to leave the group sees one of the eyed black zombies who Sorin quickly blasts away with a magic missile. Tanark manages to cleanse the black stone inside the zombie. Tom comments that Sorin seems very worn from all the ritual casting of yesterday (he is noticing her surprise at casting a spell due to the feeling of desiring to defile. She seems off). The party leaves camp. After a while of traveling the group begins to see strange cactus plants. Kacha’ak determines that they are club-foot cactus but they have been warped by this place and have a few extra limbs. Sorin can sense that they have a minute amount of defiling done to them but seem to be combating the defiling, weakening it overtime. As the group heads through the cacti Kacha’ak and Brokenscale see off in the distance that limbless and eyed zombies have been placed in the limbs of the cactus, creating a seeing wall between the group and the way out over a far mound of dirt. The group discusses how to proceed since they do not wish to be seen and have the zombies call something terrible. They eventually decide to send Tom, Sorin, Kacha’ak, Tanark and Clem ahead to cut a silent swath through the wall and let the rest of the group come through the gap. On the way through Kacha’ak kills a zombie wearing a tabard, he notices that it is more fresh then the others so he takes the piece of ripped cloth and brings it to show the party. After two and a half hours of work the party has completed their goal and are now on the other side of the cactus and zombie wall without alerting any listening ears. The moment the party breaks through the wall they hear the mysterious bell ring in the distance three times once again. Not knowing what do to about that, Therai takes a moment to probe the simple mind of one of the fresher zombies and discovers latent memories about how that man died. He sees in it’s mind frozen forever the image of it’s killers, four armed zombies wielding scimitars. It sends a shiver up the parties collective spine.
Kacha’ak takes a moment to show the tabard to the party who thinks upon it. Abraxas and Tom know that the tabard belongs to the sundry footpads mercenary guild, a group of cutthroats and robbers, and that group would have no reason to be in this ruined city unless they had heard tale of riches to be found. Abraxas convinces the group to check a few of the other tabard wearing zombies in the area just to make sure their isn’t some kind of treasure map left on their persons. Sorin agrees and heads forward to do just that. Her first missile misses the head but a quick second finishes the job before it has time to speak. She finds no map, but instead something far more disturbing, a giant piece of a tooth is broken off in the zombies chest. The tooth is black and defiled, and seems to be made of hundreds of smaller teeth. While Sorin is off checking the body, Tom turns to Clem, Maul and Irastus and asks if they are going to do anything about Sorin being disturbed from the fight last night with the judaga (Tom believes the aftereffects of the mask are the work of the battle). Irastus responds that Sorin is capable and he is no psychic. After cleansing the defiling, Sorin shows the tooth to the rest of the group and they are able to determine that it belongs to the largest silt-shark they have ever heard of. As the party is discussing the possibility of a shark that big Clem tells the party that they are being followed and points to a rolling cloud of dust far behind the party in the cityscape. Kacha’ak is not so sure that it is a caravan after all and climbs up onto a rock and, using the spyglass he sees that it is indeed a megalodon-sized shark heading towards the party. The party begins to run away towards the mound in the distance that seems to be the edge of this territory when something suprising happens. The shark seems to go underground for a moment, or drives towards the ground then turns about and heads back the way it came, leaving the party. Theories abound but the party is more interested in getting far away from this place then figuring out why they are not shark-chow.

The party makes it to the mounded dirt which serves as the border of the ancient city and runs along a ley-line which Sorin knows could be useful for casting powerful magics to those who are attuned to it. Beyond the mound is the endless stretches of black sand for which this place is named. As the party crosses back into the desert they notice that the relative moisture in the air vanishes suddenly and is replaced by a bitter dry wind. The eladrin swordmage can feel a particular energy on the horizon and knows the the party is approaching defiled land near the core of the black sands. They rest for a night a reasonable distance away from the cities ancient border and during their camp they discuss their options. They can go around the defiled land and risk running into monsters, or head directly through the defiled land and meet no other living thing but face the terrible consequences of the defiling; finally they could try to straddle the line between the two, running towards defiled land when attacked and away from it when they are safe. They choose the middle rout even though it is difficult. The group continue on the following morning after preparing themselves to resist possible defiled lands through magical augment of their own natural stamina. During their two day journey they see dune reapers, a beast giant and his slaves, a cathrang and a tribe of nomadic elves who hold crooks but have no heard to be seen. When the party sees the huge hive of dune reapers in the distance and begin to make haste upon their inixes, Brokenscale’s foot-stirrup snaps and he topples off his inix and hits his head hard on a rock, cutting open a gash from which blood spills. He claims to be alright and shakes off offers of help, but Sorin insists, calling the powerful warrior a “young-ling”, begrudgingly the dray agrees to accept Therai’s healing. The party is suspicious of the snapped strap and wonders at the battles and hardship they have endured, or perhaps it is a more sinister trap- sabotage.

On the night of the second day beyond the cities ancient border the party stops in a rocky area to camp and sets up tents and a fire. In the middle of the night Sorin tries on the judaga’s mask after thinking upon the terrible possibilities that very act could bring. Kacha’ak is next to her, poised to strike her down if some corrupting effect should occur. At first the object tests her magical power, and when it finds the eladrin worthy, it settles to hovering in front of her head. It shrinks slightly for her smaller frame, and etchings of vines and leaves form upon it’s once barren surface. Sorin found that the mask not only increased her magical powers but also allowed her to see in the blackest night. The mask was built to cause a uncontrollable psychic horror in the wearer’s enemies and it still possessed the ability to do just that. After admiring the masks power, Sorin and Kacha’ak set to the duty of watch. Near morning, their mostly silent watch was broken by the sound of loud gusting winds sweeping towards them on the sands. A pair of dune golems rode the winds towards the party and, after being seen, burrowed down then rose up to attack with powerful arms and grasping sand. Brokenscale and Tanark took the brunt of their first attacks, while the parties own weapons seemed to do little against their shifting bodies. The battle was only second in when the party realized the golems were not alone, ugly undead men with husk-like forms and sunken eyes screamed out from the shadows and grasped outlying fighters with iron-grips. These creatures were thrax, water vampires who with a touch sucked the moisture out of whatever they desired, and this moment they desired the water in the parties flesh and water-skins. It was a confusing and frantic few moments of fierce battle and Tom had been grabbed by the white hands of a thrax, who whispered apologies to the half-elf, “but I am just so thirsty!” the undead said as he began to drain the water from Tom’s flesh. He pulled up Tom’s head as they fought and the Thrax saw into Tom’s face. The reaction was instant and intense, the Thrax threw back his head and roared a feral beast roar then tried to rip Tom limb from limb rather then steal his water. The roar was echoed in all the rest of the thrax and one even yelled “the enemy!” and the now feral undead converged on Tom as the half-elf used every ounce of agility he possessed to slip from their grasp and hide in the midnight. Drokan was nearly crushed mid-fight and lay unconscious on the ground for the remainder of the struggle. The party struck hard against the thrax and finally felled the final one, as the fifth thrax died the dune golems collapsed into useless dust. The party found a five-part symbol on each thrax’s back that formed a rune that allowed them to control the golems. In the battle’s aftermath, the party wondered over the thrax’s sudden hate for Tom but could find no answers. With the sun rising in the sky the party broke camp and decided to ride onward towards the Stormclaw mountains.

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Ghost Town and the Judaga Returns

The session begins with Kacha’ak returning from the Fey-wild, where he was with Hazar for seven hours. The kreen was resting after his terrible beating at the hands of Zeburon the Iron Rider and just now thrust back into the world to follow after his allies. The kreen appeared in a small cave where his crodlu was waiting for him. The creature had been called by the gyno-sphinx to aid it’s friend and come it did. The two ventured out of the cave where they spotted a small cactus owl, a servant of Hazar’s sent to aid the kreen champion. The owl led the two out across the blacksands in a roughly straight line, supposedly towards the rest of the group. Along the journey Kacha’ak saw a heard of kanks crossing the blacksands in the rare event of hive-seeking. The group was dozens strong and Kacha’ak chose to follow the owl and slowly grow more distant to the swarm. It was only when the kreen saw the dust from their travels stop that he grew curious and returned only to find the kanks digging in the sands. He watched for a bit until the heard passed on. Mount and kreen approached the hole in the sands and saw that the kanks had found underground water, but almost none was left. Also in the hole were semi-cut gems and hints of an ancient building that may have been the source of the cutting. Kacha’ak gathered what was left of the water and rummaged among the ruins, picking up the gems. He noticed a large marble stone that had a particular symbol, obviously carved into it’s surface. After noting the symbol the kreen used his vast strength to roll the heavy stone and uncovered several metal shards. One was what was left of a cutting knife (perhaps for tanning) and the other was the top of a chisel. The crodlu made a noise of worry and began to scratch nervously at the ground while the kreen gathered. Just as the two metal pieces were picked up off the ground Kacha’ak felt the rumble of a burrowing creature. The kreen ran quickly towards the crodlu, who waited steadfastly for it’s rider despite the powerful warning of danger. The moment Kacha’ak mounted and veered the crodlu to run a megapeed (the same one the party would encounter later in the day?) burst from the ground underneath the hole made by the kanks. The massive insect began a long chase, attempting to eat the rider and mount, but to no avail as the pair were simply too fast over flat ground.

As the two ran away from the megapeed a rain of ash began to fall from the sky. The owl led the two to a maze of high brittle rocks and onward into the crossing rock paths. When night began to fall and the eyeless zombies of the blacksands began ripped their way from the ground Kacha’ak and crodlu stopped, much to the seeming annoyance of the owl, and found shelter to hold over in for the night.

(The events before this line happened during the last session and where what took place for Kacha’ak during that time. Below are events after last session)

The group, missing Kacha’ak since he was DEFINITELY dead had stopped to camp for the night after running from an angry megapeed. Abraxas had fallen asleep as soon as the group had stopped for camp and the cocoon of Ka-Kliek, the now kreen empress sat next to the sleeping dray. Sorin sat atop a large rock in their camp sight watching the blacksand zombies rise up from the ground while the others made fires, ate and drank, and fed the Inixs. Sitting around the fires, Brokenscale started up a conversation with the group about reasons they were all traveling with this particular company. Drokan said it was because of his promise to the party that they would reach Nibenay. Tanark cited his drive for vengeance and desire to rescue his sister Tassa from Mezabran’s hands. Clem, Maul and Irastus kept their reason secret. It wasn’t long until the group lay down for a rest around the fires, which kept the zombies at bay. In the night Clem suddenly cursed and frantically tried to free himself from his nap-sack. When he did it was obvious that he had been bit by something. The half-elf’s eyes rolled back into his head and he began to seize just as a violet spider crawled quickly from his sleeping bag. Brokenscale tagged the spider with a spit of lightning from his maw and fried it, much to Sorin’s annoyance. Sorin and Therai were on Clem quickly but neither had any expertise in dealing with what appeared at first to be a mundane poison. The two allowed Irastus to take Clem and try something, but it was too late, Clem was dead. Their was a moment of terrible silence before Clem’s eyes shot open and his hands locked around Irastus’s neck in a stranglehold. The half-elf’s eyes were pure black and he groaned much like one of the eyeless zombies. Abraxas tried to strike the possessed Clem with his weapon but the half-elf made a swift dodge backwards. Brokenscale rushed Clem and body-slammed the half-elf on the ground, pinning him. Therai then sensed a trickle of psychic energy and warned the party that Clem was only being controlled by a psychic venom and that the tiefling psychic could cure him. Abraxas held his assault back at this remark but Tom lunged forward and clubbed Clem on the head with his dagger’s hilt, knocking him out. Incapacitated, Therai was able to work his abilities on Clem, but had to keep in constant contact and wakefulness to restore him. The rest of the tiefling’s night was spent in the pursuit of wellness for Clem.

In the morning Sorin was still atop the rock from the previous night. She seemed triumphant with her long hours of work during the night. It was then that she spotted Kacha’ak and the crodlu twisting through the rock-ways and announced his surprising return to the party. Though everyone seemed surprised, Drokan especially made the extra effort to climb up on the rock and take a look for himself. Chiding remarks were made to those who had doubted his capabilities and a rousing welcome was given by all. As Abraxas fried up some rations to give the kreen the group looked over his now broken form, his missing mandible, the chopped off arm, several terrible slashed and holes punched into his chitin. The kreen settled down next to the fire and began his tale about Zeburon and Hazar. He explained it all over food and the party was impressed. During the conversation the kreen unveiled some of the more sensitive moments to the whole group, one thing led to another and both Brokenscale and Drokan were told that the party had met a sphinx and Kacha’ak was the champion of said sphinx. Also that Kacha, Kacha’ak’s ancestor resided within his crodlu and occasionally spoke to him. The group returned Kacha’ak’s khans gythka which he had dropped during the fight against the cloud ray and slowly explained what had become of Ka-kliek. The kreen was quite stunned at the news and had to stop the now stupid crodlu from trying to break the important cocoon. Brokenscale was thoughtful before announcing that this tale made Kacha’ak worthy of being dubbed a honorary dray-whelp and telling the kreen that he would now train under Abraxas. Kacha’ak tried to explain that he had been through quite the experience and would need some rest. Brokenscale left the decision to Abraxas, who was lenient and for his kindness was forced to carry the kreen warrior when he fell unconscious in the next few moments. With the story over the group packed up camp and got ready to leave. Sorin took a moment to appraise Brokenscale and Drokan before making it known that she was a wizard by announcing that she had been experimenting with creating her own rituals and had come to a breakthrough last night. She then told the party she would cast her powerful new magic to aid them in their travels and called for silence. She walked around and marked each party member and mount with an exotic symbol during her casting. When she finished she revealed her new power to create a tunnel of empty space that traveled with the group, allowing them to bypass many normal obstacles and speed up their pace greatly.

The group traveled for six clean hours and made good headway towards the stormclaw mountains. The ritual aided them both by cutting out the obstacles and fading their tracks greatly. At the end of the rituals duration the symbols that Sorin had made upon the party and mounts had faded into vanishing. When the ritual ended the group found themselves exiting into an area through a large rock wall. The brittle rocks that had formed the maze previously were here but in smaller sizes. The signs of ancient ruins were all around the party and strangest of all, off to their left was a huge road made out of smooth obsidian stone, polished and heated in the desert sun. Upon the road were the steaming bodies of charred zombies. Off upon the horizon the group could now see a huge structure of rock dominating the skyline. Spikes of black stone sprung out of a middle trunk of rock that rose up tall from the ground, making something like a giant, squat leafless tree. The party began to look around and found the carved symbol of Gulg inscribed upon a rock face. A theory that this place had once been an ancient city and that the warriors of Gulg had laid waste to it began to form in the minds of the party. It was then that a particular zombie crept out from behind a bend in the rock to the parties right and stared at the group with very blue eyes. After a moment, the zombie turned right around and went back behind the bend, leaving the parties sight. The group began to follow the strange zombie, fearing that it was a spy for a greater entity. When they turned around the bend they found themselves in an enclosed space with high rock walls. The group fanned out because the zombie was no where to be seen. Kacha’ak approached a wall and looked carefully at the rock structure when the zombie’s eyes opened up in the rock and it’s body cracked away from the stone, perfectly camouflaged with the dark rocky surface to try and grab the kreen. Kacha’ak dodged the grapple and Sorin launched a ball of force at the creature to blow it apart. Within the creature Sorin found a stone filled with defiled magic and forced herself to lay hands upon the object and diffuse the corrupted magic into the earth, cleansing it of taint. With that complete the group desired to move on quickly and Sorin recast her travel ritual called Trailblaze and the group proceeded to cut through the rocks and walls suffusing this area.

It was another six hours later when the ritual ended and allowed the group to exit the final stone before giving out. The party found itself in what appeared to be an ancient mostly-enclosed courtyard with the massive tree-like stone now behind them but still close. Four columns rose up at points within the courtyard but their purpose was lost to time. The party saw that it was growing darker and started setting up camp. As they were Kacha’ak jumped high onto one of the columns and looked around the street-like setup. He was alarmed at nearly a dozen of the eyed zombies could be seen from his high perch, crawling or shuffling as if on patrol through the otherwise empty streets. The keen was able to leap down just as the creatures raised their eyes to his location and they failed to spot him. Returning to the ground he warned the group that they should move camp elsewhere. Kacha’ak was put in-charge of finding the way to go through the streets that would get the party away safely, but immediately turned into two of the zombies. The undead began to make a croaking word with their mouths, it sounded like “KAR”. The two zombies were quickly dispatched but Therai wanted to get close to the undead to see what their thoughts looked like. Kacha’ak and he crept forward to try and get next to one for that very purpose. When the kreen looked around a nearby corner he was again spotted by a zombie that began to croak out the same word. Therai got a glean of it’s thoughts as the creature was being finished off. He found out that they were trying to scream the word “cartilage”. The group was off down the streets quickly and soon away from the yelling zombies. The night closed upon them and they needed to stop in the night or else risk an accident. They found a well-defended semi-enclosure that appeared to be the shell of a ruined house and made camp there.

In the night without a camp fire the group tried to sleep. Sorin and Kacha’ak kept watch on a rise, slightly out of sight from the party. In the middle of the night, though their eyes were sharp, the kreen was quite stunned when the arm of the Judaga and soon the whole body materialized out of thin air and clasped his fingers into Sorin’s head, making holes near her temples. The Judaga had been invisible and how that he had his prey formed a barrier of golden light around both of them. Kacha’ak stood stock still for long moments before gathering up his courage and throwing his common gythka, while striking the shield with his magical gythka. The common gythka was destroyed upon impact and while the other survived a powerful jolt of magic blew the kreen backwards and caused enough ruckus to call the other party members over. Abraxas fearlessly charged the Judaga’s shield, his own artifact shield first. The two shields collided and bolts of lightning shot out at the impact, searing the ground nearby with jags of energy. The Judaga was oblivious to this all, for he was focused within Sorin’s mind.

Within Sorins head the Judaga appeared on an area of open ground near a wall formed of ice. Not knowing what the wall was or where Sorin was the Judaga screamed, calling her a witch and vile creature. He began to attack the wall of ice, trying to bring it down to find Sorin. Outside Abraxas struck the Judaga in the head with his shield, managing to break through the Judaga’s own force shield. The sound of head meeting metal was like that of two metal objects colliding. The Judaga turned his attention outward long enough to hurl Abraxas into a stone wall, hard. The party then stood looking at the seemingly hopeless situation. Within Sorin’s own mind the eladrin began to fight back, freezing the Judaga in a block of ice using her own mental prowess. Outside the mind, Tom yelled for Therai to do something since he was the psychic of the group. Therai yelled that he couldn’t because he didn’t have enough life experience, but as the pressure mounted to act, the tiefling called upon the experiences of the other party members, using their skills and prior successes to aid his own efforts to aid Sorin. First he used Tom’s crafty thieving abilities to break into the Judaga’s shield. Next he the other party members abilities to find his way into Sorin’s mind through the Judaga’s own psychic passages (the party was not privy to what Therai was gaining from the others). When he did reach the area of Sorin’s mind where the Judaga was located he saw the spirit warrior break free from his cage of ice and begin slamming the wall with psychic blows. When Therai tried to interfere the Judaga attacked him and the ardent was forced to call upon Abraxas’s natural toughness to aid him in surviving the attack then Kacha’aks ability and speed to begin his own assault. While the two were fighting, Sorin began to call down a terrible blizzard, but protected Therai from it’s effects. The Judaga was both confused by these strange images that Sorin seemed to possess within her own mind (ice and blizzards) and saw her as a true villain. He began to flail wildly in the blinding winds as Sorin laced the falling slow with her own memories of the Judaga’s prior life with her in the Land Behind the Wind. These thoughts further confused the Judaga who was screaming in rage and the final blow was Sorin opening a crack in her minds wall and showing the Judaga what lay beyond. Whatever it was, the sight was too much for the warriors mind and he ripped himself from Sorin’s mind and fled, leaving behind his mask. Everyone was weakened from the encounter, but patted Therai on the back and helped Sorin up. She still had marks punched in the sides of her head from the Judaga’s finger tips which would never go away, but she could easily cover them with her hair. The party took a moment to breath after the chaos of the past few moments and gather themselves. After a moment Sorin approached the Judaga’s mask and sought to cleanse it using her ritual to remove the foul curse placed upon it. She succeeded.

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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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