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Red Sand & Black Sun

Mission 8- Demons in the Dark

Silt Serpents! Silt Serpents! Silt Serpents! The crowd cheers as the group finishes the last thri-kreen. Medics carry Therai and Abraxas away from the fight on stretchers, leaving Tom and Sorrin to limp along behind them. The group is taken to a bard and a shaman who begin the process of patching up the party.

After they are healed, the party sees a contingent of slightly injured dwarven guards on the way into the medical bay as the group is on their way out. There is only a moment as the two groups pass each other and the party can only catch a glance of them, but there appears to have been some sort of scuffle. They are then led to Brendos who seems quite happy with the day’s events. He takes his slaves to the caravan immediately which takes them out of the arena and back to Bruthambar’s estate under five guards watch. On the way back, Therai asks a guard for water and to Sorrin’s shock, receives it. The party discusses their new member Sorrin’s abilities, and the workings of Therai’s psychic healing that does not truly heal the body but instead tricks the mind into believing it is uninjured and aids in the healing process. Lord Jingrice Immium enters the conversation and Therai reveals that he is indeed his son. Therai also shows that he has been branded as a slave from birth.

When the caravan arrives back at Bruthambar’s house they are surprised to see a caravan with a sickle symbol upon it, the sign of the Immium family. Brendos seems agitated, and he obviously did not expect to see Jingrice there, either. The party is whisked off to their room without even a sandscrub while Brendos goes to deal with this new development. In their room, Therai seems distracted by his biological father’s sudden arrival here, but distracts himself by using his psychic power to allow total relaxation for the rest of the party. When he is done with Abraxas the Dray is totally relaxed and does not want to get up.

Just then, the wooden slat on the door is removed and two servants bring in a meal. It is not their lavish usual fair. They bring a crust of bread and a thick oatmeal. Therai asks one of the servants, an average-looking girl, what is going on with his father being at the estate. The servant tells Therai that lord Jingrice is very angry, which surprises Therai greatly. When she is further questioned about his purpose she tells Therai that the lord seems to be there to collect his son, and leaves. Theari appears deeply distracted, yet continues to focus on healing the party, focusing on Tom’s aching muscles next. Right when he is about to head over to Sorrin to do the same, the large black human the party knows as the head slave woman comes in with broy (a rather disgusting alcoholic drink) for the party. Abraxas complains about the quality of the beverage and requests ale instead. After she makes a brief trip back to the kitchen to exchange the broy for the more palatable ale, she informs Therai that Lord Jingrice is here to claim Theari. Brendos is in breech of their original slave contract that said Therai was not to fight in the arena. Now that Mal has broken that, Jingrice can claim Theari, effectively freeing him of all the brutality he has suffered up to this point and gain a chance at a better life. Therai is maelstrom of emotion at this point. He begins work on Sorrin’s back again. Tom seems dour and he and Abraxas take the ale that the head slave brought and down it hardily. Sorrin is privy to Therai’s psychic emanations through her psychic massage, she senses that he is feeling great guilt and is being torn between two choices. She tells him not to feel bad about what he might do.

It is not long before Brendos comes to their door and enters the room. He is very angry but forces a smile. He tells the group that Lord Jingrice is in the building and is there about some fine-print contained within Therai’s contract that specifies when he is allowed to fight in the arena. The two patricians disagree as to when Therai is free from the rules that bind him not to fight in the ring, but the law has sided with Jingrice and he is here to claim his son.

Brendos tells Therai that all he has to do is tell his father that he is happy in the employ of the Mal house and he can remain. He gives a not-so-subtle threat that everyone should help him come to this decision. He gives Therai a half and hour to think it over then leaves. After a few minutes of silence, Abraxas offers Therai some ale which he turned down earlier. This time he accepts. There is some emotional talk, and Therai subtly asks to be told what they want. Tom, who had been sullen and quiet up until this point, tells Therai that it is a great opportunity for him, but he believes that they may die without his help. Abraxis tells the party that if Therai leaves then Mal would be a fool not to replace him with a person also capable of healing. Sorrin lays out Therai’s option in a very logical way for him to see. Sorrin and Abraxas reassure Therai that no matter which way he goes, they will bear him no ill-will. Even Tom grudgingly admits that Therai would be a fool not to take this offer for himself and that it’s what Tom would likely do in his place, but that he still believes their own chances of survival are grim without him. After speaking with the group, Therai says his mind is made up and knocks on the door to inform the patricians.

Lord Jingrice and Brendos come in. Lord Jingrice is a noble figure with a slightly stooped posture and who walks with a cane. Therai stands before his father and with a straight face he lies. He tells his would-be savior that he would rather stay with Brendos than leave with him. His father looks stricken. He asks again to make sure. When he is rejected a second time, he pauses then raises his head. He looks past his son at Therai’s teammates standing behind him and tells them to take care of him, which they agree to do. He then turns to leave. He seems to pause just a moment as he turns to go, as if he heard something from a mysterious voice on the air, then continues on his way.

Therai looks exhausted after the ordeal. Sorrin tries to comfort him. Tom looks honestly surprised but pleased, clapping his friend on his arm supportively. Abraxas shoves an ale into Therai’s hand that he immediately downs. He tells the group that they are the first friends he has had in five years. After some warm discussion, Therai lays down on the bed and smiles.

Brendos comes down again, this time with a promised feast: Sliced bread, kank necter, a roasted Bazzrag and a pheasant. The party squabbles over the food a bit, Tom managing to squirrel away most of the pheasant. Brendos informs the party that the finals to take place tomorrow will be under the still-sword rules and that their should be no death aside from the possible accident. The winners are to present the losers to the sponsor that owns them for judgement. Brendos tells the party a bit about the Armored Brute and Yassi the halfling psychic. With this knowledge imparted, Brendos leaves.

After the meal, four armored dwarf guards come into the room and disarm the characters, telling them that Bruthambar wishes to see them, to the party’s surprise. Bruthambar enters; he is a huge dwarf with a noble air and strangest of all, a beard. He tells the party that the beard is a gift from his ancestors and that his heritage allows him to rule. He gestures to a mural of a haired and bearded dwarf on the wall, holding a war-hammer with a sun behind it, he says that the ancient dwarves of this land are honored by the fighting that takes place in the arena. He also subtly hints that he knows about the parties meetings with the Veiled Alliance. He suggests in cryptic words that he eventually expects the party to be free men, and when they are they might wish to return here to work for him. He requests that if the party should win the finals tomorrow that they say some special dwarven words to offer up the victory to the dwarven ancestors “Maurk Deanchok”.

After the conversation, the party goes to sleep. Deep in the dark Sorrin suddenly feels that she is being watched. Upon finding nothing with her eyes, Sorrin searches for magic and finds the feeling of defiling. Abraxas awakes also from a bad feeling and is immediately suspicious upon finding Sorrin looking out the window. Sorrin smells a terrible smell coming in from the window. The air is hot.

In his sleep Tom begins to dream of horrible things. He is reliving the most terrible moment of his life.

Abraxas sees Sorrin at the window and watches her hair which blows in the breeze in a steady pulse that gives the impression that something is breathing on her, though no one can see it. He goes to sneak up under the window near Sorrin while the elf attempts to distract the thing they now know is there. When she speaks the breath stops.

In his sleep Tom dreams that a huge and dark figure is shoving red-hot stone shards into his body (in unpleasant places on his hands). A voice speaks from the darkness, a booming voice that is low and large. Therai catches the intensity of the dream from Tom and begins to twist and turn in his sleep.

Sorrin communes mentally with Abraxas and tells him that they should wake the others…
Within Tom’s dream the dark figure demands to hear what Tom knows of the stone. Through agony Tom tells the darkness that it fell from the sky. The shadow raises Tom’s hand and drives a stake through his palm deep into his arm. It asks who Badna is. Tom, howling in pain, says it is a god of some sort and the booming voice laughs and scoffs that Tom knows nothing. It removes the spike from his hand and drives it through his heart, laughing. Tom awakes screaming.

Abraxas hear something akin to a huge footstep outside before it is drowned out by both Therai and Tom. Therai awakes gasping “No Tom!”, it becomes obvious that he was feeling some of what was happening to Tom within his dream. The fence on the parameter of the estate suddenly bends alarmingly though nothing is acting upon it and snaps back upwards. The weight that must have been put upon it was tremendous. The guards notice and go to take a look at it. They are confused. Within the room Sorrin looks out the window and down to the ground, trying to find tracks of the creature. She sees some defiled ground, in the shape of a dray foot, but the size of a mekillot claw. The two patches of defiled ground vanish as though blown away by the wind, the grass that was outside the window is gone.

Tom panics and huddles in a corner. Therai attempts to help Tom. He wants to know “What was that”, he was able to see something. The dwarf guards come over to the window because of Tom’s scream and asks if everything is alright. Sorrin lies and tells him that Tom bit his tongue. Sorrin asks the dwarf if he saw anything, but they did not.

Tom realizes that the pain of the stab is lingering and he sees a small light coming from under his shirt. He freaks out and rips off his shirt. Upon his chest is a burn mark. Therai tells Tom that the focus of a powerful psychic can cause a mark like that on someone. Tom demands that he heal it and the Tiefling tries, but the healing only intensifies the pain.

Sorrin knows a story of a dead sorcerer king who went mad. Over years he was whispered mad lies by an invisible demon who drove him to suicide. The demon was named Bejein. This situation bears a similarity to that one. Sorrin whispers the demons name. For some reason this story does not reassure the panicked Tom.

Suddenly, the pain vanishes, leaving behind a strange, black, circular scar on Tom’s chest to the right of his heart. Sorrin investigates the scar and sees that the scar tissue begins to spread forming a line upwards then curving a half-circle around counterclockwise. Therai believes he can now heal Tom and tries again. He works this time.

Sorrin attempts to feel for any magic involved in the scar but only finds that Tom feels like a defiler; like he has magic. Sorrin asks many questions and is immediately suspicious about this new change, but Tom only seems bewildered and scared. She recognizes a similar magical feel with Tom that she had felt before when she saw the green-fire creature that killed her Veiled Alliance group. She very carefully asks Tom what happened in his dream and what he may have said within it. Tom says he can’t remember, and the group seems to believe him. They guess that some great entity has bound Tom to itself. Sorrin says it is Bejein, and Therai wonders how she could know anything about demons. She answers that she is 200 years old.

Sorrin touches the scar and the nerves are dead. The scar goes deep and to remove it might kill Tom. The party then begins to wonder why it didn’t attack Therai. Therai says it attacked him as well, but his mental barricades he learned to keep with psychic training help protect him. He is asked where he trained to become a psychic, he answers that he learned from a private tutor in Balic. The party tries to get some sleep with Sorrin keeping watch. Sorrin’s demeanor towards Tom, which up until now has been fridged at best, openly hostile at worst, has suddenly shifted to an almost maternal attitude, and she seems to sincerely wish to help him, much to his confusion. Therai offers to help the rest relax and in moments, Tom and Abraxas are asleep with Therai following eventually. Before sleeping, Therai talks with Sorrin and comments on his seeming innate trust of her. Sorrin also says she has trusted those here more then she would usually.

The following morning, Sorrin sees a cloud in the sky. To help cover Tom’s new mark, Abraxas gives Tom his shirt since Tom ripped his to shreds the night before in his terror, and fashions a vest for himself out of Tom’s much smaller shirt. Breakfast is brought to the party, trays of succulent fruit, crusty bread, and cheese. When the servants say that the characters are going to be given a bath after breakfast Sorrin offers to help Tom cover his new mark with more magic. She shows the same kindness and maternity to Tom as she did the night before, which he responds to with a cautious suspicion. After the bath, the characters are called to Brendos’s office in new burlap sacks. He has bought them new armor to try on, and a box of cookies. The players try on their new armor. Therai has a new chitinous chain with ram horns spiraling off the shoulders, the rest are superior hides and leathers. The characters train with Rhamil before leaving to the arena.

When the party arrives they are taken to a nobles box to wait for the bout. There is a dwarven whiskey and cigarettes in the room that the party pours and cheers to TaNiik. A dwarf arrives and takes the group to the Pyramid of Terror. The characters run out one at a time as announced. They see a great many fans in the stands, screaming in excitement. Soon the opponents are announced and the bout begins.

The bout is savage, with Abraxas dropping many times. The armored brute hits incredibly hard and Yassi, the Halfling psychic effects the players with crippling status effects. By the end of the bout it is only the armored brute remaining and the party gangs up on him to defeat the most difficult single opponent they have yet faced. One by one, the characters offer up the two gladiators and Yassi to lord Mezabran’s judgement and he lets them live. Tom rips off the Armored Brute’s helmet only to reveal the face of Tassa Thero. Mezabran wishes for her to die. Despite a final try by Sorrin to offer her to Mal also (which Tom agrees to despite it being dangerous), which only leads to the same decision, Tom gleefully slits Tassa’s willing throat. Abraxas and Sorrin both say the words Bruthambar asked them to say, to offer the victory to the dwarven ancestors. Tanter Gorehorn and Bruthambar come onto the pyramid. Tanter presents a scroll to the party, the scroll is an invitation to a legendary event. The shadow-king himself, king Nibenay is hosting a tournament for the first time ever and they are invited, along with Asteron. Bruthambar then presents a stone hammer trophy to the party. The party gains 6 fame, one for a 36 intimidate check made by Sorrin as the crowd cheers.

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