Red Sand & Black Sun

The Silver Springs

The characters begin as they enter the very large Silver Springs Inn. As they are nearing the door, leafy fronds and gardening elves are all around them and bardic music can be heard from just inside. Drokan approaches and, walking backwards speaks to the characters, suggesting that as gladators he can get them rooms without anyone questioning the decision. He does not want them staying with the rest of the slaves in the tightly packed quarter because other slaves might attack or even kill them for their expensive gear. Kacha’ak says he does not need a room but Drokan says he will just get him a cheep one. The sun-priest asks Sorin what kind of room she is getting, and he will get rooms to match for each of the characters. The eladrin responds that she will be getting the “2nd level” rooms. The third level houses the super-rich and the first floor the poor. Drokan goes to get in the long line for room keys, leaving the characters to look around the massive inn. On the first floor are four distinct sections, a common tavern with common drinks and common company, a guarded elite area with high-shelf drinks, plenty of drugs, and prostitution as well as anything else you have the money for. The third area is a pit surrounded by high stone where spectators view cage matches for sport and betting, and finally a classy tea-shop, one of the few on Athas where the well-to-do purchase exotic tea, some of which is spiked. After hearing the cries from the arena, Abraxas and Tom cannot help themselves and go to view an exotic beast, called a Gaj. Therai is quickly lured off by the smells of tea, Sorin and Ka-kliek/Kacha’ak follow behind.

In the arena Tom and Abraxas witness a huge cage being lowered onto the pit by a group of elves, the announcer is informing the crowd that this cage has been warded against the gaj’s psychic powers and the beast cannot mentally attack them through it, but the gathered should still stay clear of the edge of the pit, for the gaj’s tendrils can still grab a foot. Abraxas and Tom get close and look on as the announcer calls the name of the gaj’s challenger, the cage match champion, Brokenscale, the dray from an mysterious clan. As the dray enters the lower pit from an underground holding chamber the onlookers get a glimpse of his horrible scars that cover his face, nearly half his muzzle is missing and his body is covered in signs of previous battle. The gaj pulls hard against it’s binding chain connected to the wall and breaks the flimsy-looking links as it charges Brokenscale. The dray had a moment of surprise before he too bore down upon the beast; the battle was fast and savage with Brokenscale coming out the victor and proving that he is indeed a potent fighter. The group proceeds to watch several more matches, two halflings with spears, and two gith; creatures from another world who became stuck in Athas long ago, they have regressed to more primal forms. Abraxas seems riveted on the violence while Tom makes small talk with the patrons around the pit. The half-elf speaks to a human with a mul slave at his back. He asks about the nature of the bouts, the quality and frequency, and where the elves retrieve these warriors and creatures. The human tells Tom about the network of traveling elven caravans and tribes out in the wastes who capture both men and beasts for use at just such cage pits throughout Athas. The human also tells Tom that two dray from the Gorteck clan own Brokenscale and that they are extremely uninterested in selling him; as a matter of fact they broke a buyer’s hand earlier that very day. The bouts come to a unsatisfying conclusion with the gith fight and the gathered audience goes to get drinks and refreshment in the other sections.

In the tea shop on the other side of the hall Sorin entered and sat down at a table to be immediately waited upon by an elf servant. Therai pressed his nose up against a glass case, containing watery buckets housing exotic tea-petals. Kacha’ak watched as Ka-Kliek was drawn by a tempting scent to a gruff-looking noble. The woman kreen then proceeded to try and get as close as she dare to his cup which she then told Kacha’ak smelled like an elf. Kacha’ak’s curiosity was peaked and as he too neared it did indeed smell like an elf. Back at Sorin’s table her waiter recommended the flower-blossom tea; a brew that he hinted came from the land behind the wind. Sorin knew from her childhood that this tea would smell and taste like what the drinker most desired. (the tea that Kacha’ak and Ka-Kliek are looking at and the one Sorin is are one and the same). Both parties proceeded to pay the exorbitant price for the cup of tea and enjoy it’s varied taste. The thri-kreen’s tea tasted like elves and Sorin’s smelled of fresh plants and nature and tasted of the purest cold water. As the groups were enjoying their drinks an elf waiter approached Kacha’ak’s table and asked the kreen warrior if he would like his slave (Ka-kliek) taken to the appropriate quarter for a slave. Ka-kliek overheard and forcefully told the elf that she was not a slave and would not be going anywhere, Kacha’ak agreed and the elf went away apologizing. Ka’kliek was proud of her vague threat and asked if it made her more like a thri-kreen, when Kacha’ak said it did the kreen woman said that the two of them should do the dance of joy to celebrate. Kacha’ak secretly did not want to but agreed to do so anyway later, and in a place with more space.

Sorin was joined at her table by Therai who commented that the tea-lovers in this room were unusually calm and kept emotionally. Sorin had her glass of expensive brew and told a waiter to bring one for Therai; when the tiefling tried to say he would buy the cup the waiter gave him a look and the psychic was forced to admit that he had no money as a slave and was forced to accept Sorin’s generosity. As the two sat and spoke Therai was drawn inexpliciably to look at an eladrin who had just entered the tea-shop. The eladrin was a male with striking blue eyes and vestments of light blue. He was leading 10 students of varied races with matching symbols to his own. Therai stood up as if drawn to the eladrin, who looked at Therai with a quizzical glance, and then past him at Sorin. Therai approached and then seemed to remember something, muttered apologizes then returned to his seat. The male eladrin opened up psychic communication with Sorin and asked if she was indeed Cimorene Ambrai of Nibenay. When she confirmed the two knew that they were friends from times past. The psychics name was Talaveern and the two began to chat psychically as he sat with his many psychic pupils at another table. Sorin informed Therai about the communication and he joined as well. The other eladrin asked about how they had come to be at this place, where they were going and how the two had met. Sorin said that they had come from Ledopolus where the two of them and others had met. They were on their way to Nibenay for the tournament. Therai explained that Talaveern was his psychic tutor from Balic and that he had been under the guise of an elf then, but Therai had remembered his psychic signature when he had entered the room, but for several reasons had stopped himself from the introduction. (not being absolutely sure of his identity, him not being an elf, etc.). With a bit of chat, the eladrin psychic and Sorin/Therai set up a time later that night to meet up and talk in a more private setting. With that complete Sorin heads off to the sand-baths to scrub down, Therai listens to the enchanting elven music being serenaded to tea-shop and Kacha’ak and Ka-Kliek receive their room key (as does everyone else from Drokan) and go to check it out. (and also do the dance of joy)

Sorin and Kacha’ak go off long before the bouts in the arena end and by the time Sorin is done scrubbing herself off the last gith match is just wrapping up. After the patrons rush from the cage section to get drinks Tom follows. Abraxas stays behind as he receives a message from his shield saying it would like to speak to him. This is suprising as at the beginning of their meeting, the shield couldn’t speak psychically at all, then it could only do so when Abraxas held it, now it can communicate with him while being held far away behind a vault door. Abraxas agrees and sits down in the empty cage area to speak. The shield explains that it is sorry for the way it acted in the desert and says that Abraxas has more then proven himself worthy. The shield then goes on to explain a bit about itself and it’s history. The shield says it was not always a shield, but once a creature called a primordial that was defeated by a dwarf, whose dwarven name translated to armageddon. The clan that forged the shield which he is contained in now passed it as a powerful weapon to it’s best fighter for generations, but eventually those warriors might have been strong of arm, but were lacking in the brains department. The shield became used to giving orders to simpletons and having them be followed because it was “the shield”. It sees now that Abraxas is smarter then that and should not be treated as they were. The shield says that it’s powers are now open to the dray and he can make use of them. In addition the shield offers Abraxas training, which would take place in his sleep in place of his dreams (which the dray is for some reason excited about). Abraxas would learn the ancient fighting styles of the most potent dwarves to ever live, but it will come as a small price. While learning these techniques which might well mesh with his own up-front styles, he will have a more difficult time learning anything else having to do with combat. Abraxas agrees that this would be great and accepts the offer.

After Sorin’s sand-bath she goes to ask Kacha’ak and Ka-kliek if they would like to get some dinner. She calls upon them in their room and Kacha’ak makes it known that he would very much like to go to dinner (he doesn’t want to dance anymore) Ka-kliek tells a bemused Sorin about the dance of joy and the eladrin wants to see it; both kreen do it once more for her entertainment. On the way down to dinner Therai stops Sorin and asks her “am I childish” out of the blue. The eladrin tactfully answers that in some ways he is, and in others he is very mature. Therai tells her that a tiefling female just turned down his offer to eat with him because he “acted like a child”. Therai looks melancholy as the group heads down to dinner.

Downstairs in the common bar/restaurant Tom approaches Tanark at the bar who also looks quite down and the swordsman gets the half-elf a drink. Tanark is obviously buzzed from all the drinks and begins to speak to Tom; saying that he knows that even though the two are very different, they are also much the same. They both grew up with powerful people above them commanding them and being generally cruel. Tanark speculates that the real difference between their upbrings is that Tanark had Tassa and Tom had no-one to help him. He laments a past time under Mezabran’s ownership in which the corrupt noble brought them to this very oasis and Mezabran used Tanark’s noble title as a means to get them special treatment; the plan backfired though. Chief Toramund made sure that as noble born, Tanark and Tassa got their own rooms and ensured that they had the freedom for the occasion to be one that Tanark remembers fondly. He says that Tassa was an amazing person who even when terrible things were being done to her, she could always smile and say a kind word. Tanark calls for some high-shelf drinks for Tom and he, the two down shots of ghost-maker, a drink that is said to make the taster see into the grey and look upon the ghosts of the passed. Tom takes a shot and feels the disembodied, violent effects of the drink. Sorin, Abraxas, Rhamil and the kreen come down to the restraint part of the bar and call over Tanark and Tom to eat. As the two get up to join them, Tom expieriences his first mini-peak and feels a bit of vertigo as he feels himself leave his body and float upwards, staring down at the bar and himself before rocketing back into himself. Abraxas pats him on the back and warns him that he will have roughly 6 of those in the first hour. The group goes and orders from an array of exotic dishes, including shark-fin soup, zombie-cactus spines, and silt runner eggs.

During the meal, Therai asks the group a serious question, “am I a burden” he asks because Sorin didn’t say he wasn’t childish. The group agrees that Therai is not a burden and the tiefling psychic goes on to explain why he is the way he is. Most psychics close off their mind to others, but this has a side effect of making them dour and boring. Therai keeps his mind open to the emotions of the group and therefor feels a great deal of what they do. The group suddenly realizes that Therai’s quick shifts in emotion are usually when another member of the group is feeling strongly one way or another. With that out of the way, Sorin tells the group about her and Therai’s psychic friend who wanted to meet with them later that night, Tom wants to go and see if he needs to kill this eladrin for knowing who a few of their members really are, Kacha’ak, Ka-kliek, and Therai go as well. Abraxas offers to stay and get drunk with Tanark. Rhamil goes to woo Riswynn.

Together, the group heads upstairs to the extravagantly decedent third floor, with tapestries hanging upon the walls and murals of ancient scenes adorning the hallway. Sorin gives a light knock upon the eladrin’s door and he welcomes them inside, offering them drinks. Talaveern informs the group that he and his students are traveling to Tyr to investigate some meteor with psychic emanations coming from it. At this, Sorin and Kacha’ak exchange a glance and the kreen brings out his own sliver of meteor to show to the psychic. The eladrin takes a look at the piece and marvels. He says that this small piece has the remnants of a psychic presence that has left it. He uses his psychic powers to make a image of it in the air, a bit of a cog; he says it is part of a psychic machine that is incomplete. Sorin warns him to be careful when he reaches Tyr. Talaveern laughs at the rumors about demons exiting the stones until Sorin gives him a deadly serious glance. As he sobers, he offers the characters sweet cakes. The conversation turns and Talaveern tells the group that he and his students had to travel through Nibenay and saw the gathering of outsiders and other kings templar in the city. He repeats the rumors the characters have already heard about other kings visiting the city for the tournament. He also tells of a rumor that one of the meteors in the recent meteor storm, seen all over Athas, crashed down deep in the silt-sea on the Genasi’s island and burned it. The strange elemental people have been forced to flee towards Athas’s other shores. Tom seems to be getting bored at this point and when Sorin and Kacha’ak agree that they have more time to listen the half-elf gets up and suddenly leaves the room. He goes to speak to other people in the building and see what else he can uncover about the eladrin psychic. The tidbits that he does discover do not present any alarm. Afterwards Tom heads to Sorin’s room and tries to pick the lock but his skills are not a match for the well-made door and he gives up after a time to wait for the eladrin woman to return.

Down in the common bar, Abraxas is suprised when his elf friend named Jiro who is a flamboyantly gay bar-tender comes upon him in and Tanark, the two have a genial conversation where Jiro tells him how well he is doing, Abraxas tells the elf that he has non-dray traveling companions. Jori says that if Abraxas comes to the rich bar in an hour, he will get a free drink and a surprise. Tanark seems confused when Jiro leaves.

Upstairs, in the eladrin’s room his tone changes suddenly when Tom leaves; he asks if Sorin is in trouble and offers any aid he can. The bladesinger asks if he might keep his eyes and ears open in Tyr; she has agents who can reach him there and retrieve the info. Talaveern then rants at Therai for a few minutes for not keeping up with his psychic training. After the embarrassing lashing, Talaveern begins to guess a lot of information about the meteors and manages to learn that Sorin has seen more then one and that demons have spawned from them to attack the party. This causes him great distress. Talaveern and Sorin exchange fond farewells and make plans to see each other in the morning then the group leaves. Sorin heads back to her room where she sees Tom who questions her about the conversation after he left. Sorin explains that he guessed a bit about the meteor but that he is a good man with good intentions. Tom is suspiscious and presses her for information. Sorin’s explanation for why he should be trusted was as much about her own motivation as the psychics she was defending; all about the wrongness done to the world and the attempts to preserve what is left, and that both of them were fighting for a better tomorrow, although she did not include herself in the defense. Tom finally relented and showed a rare bit of concern, though whether it was because he actually cared for Sorin, or cared more about what dangers he was walking into now was unclear.

Down in the bar Abraxas is still getting drunk with Tanark and a human says a small but inconsiderate question that starts a bar fight with the powerful dray. Abraxas drunkenly brawls with the men, knocking one down. Tanark stands to try and help but is so very drunk that he swings wildly, topples over and knocks his chin hard against the bar counter and becomes temporarily unconscious. Several elf guards rush in with night-sticks and begin to try and knock Abraxas down, but none succeed. After taking on six or seven guards Abraxas is socked in the jaw by Brokenscale who beckons the dray into a fist-fight. Though Abraxas does get a good punch in, the scarred veteran hurls Abraxas into a wall, putting him down for the count. Just as he is drifting out of consciousness Abraxas vaguely thinks that he recolonized the warriors fighting style as that of his long-lost father. Ka-Kliek headed back to the kreens room from the third floor, while Kacha’ak heard a number of loud bangs downstairs (where Abraxas was brawling) and headed down to check out the commotion. He sees the dray being dragged off to the underground cells, the dray waves to him. Kacha’ak goes and checks on Tanark who claims to be alright, although he is obviously injured from the bar counter. The swordsman tries to wave Kacha’ak off but the kreen refuses to leave and instead carries Tanark to Therai to get patched up.

Abraxas is put down in a cell of stone with a wooden door and has wooden manacles put upon his hands. He tries to remove his grogginess when his shield calls to him from upstairs. It tells him to pay attention then allows him to witness a conversation that it is “overhearing” outside the vault. A unknown deep gravely voice is speaking to Chief Toramund. The voice says that “they” are looking for a man named Tanark and a dray named Abraxas who has betrayed their clan and left them. Although the chief denies anyone of those names being in his inn the voice calls his bluff and demands entrance. Toramund says that they must attempt to be quick and quite about this and leave his other guests alone. The voice says they only want the men he named and those who aid them. The shield tells Abraxas that he must get free and the dray makes several unsuccessful attempts at breaking his manacles and ramming the door down. He is gathering his strength for a massive charge when the door swings open and Jiro comes into the cell, saying he has come to rescue the dray. Abraxas seems dazed but allows the elf to unlock his cuffs even though he does not fully trust that Jiro won’t stab him in the back. When the elf does free the dray Abraxas is grateful. Jiro leads him to a underground pool in a back chamber from which springs the cool air that flows throughout the inn, ventilation. The elf shows the dray the vents that cross through the walls of most the compound, but asks Abraxas not to reveal these to anyone, he can use them to escape. Abraxas has other plans but is disappointed when he learns they do not go into the weapons vault. He makes plans to find his friends instead and goes to do just that.

Upstairs Kacha’ak delivers Tanark to Therai and as he shoves the drunk human into the tieflings room he turns to leave, but sees four suspicious dray head to Tanark’s door down the hall (currently unoccupied). Two of the dray are magic users and two are warriors. Kacha’ak watches as the dray approach the door, knock and when they realize the lights are off and no one is answering, they use a key one pulls out to open the door. The two warriors walk into the darkness and Kacha’ak hears noises that can only be stabbing into a mattress. Sorin exits her room just at this moment and Kacha’ak uses his innate psychic powers to communicate with her and tell her to go back inside her room, that he believes some dray just made an attempt on Tanark’s life. Sorin watches carefully from the crack in her doorway. Tanark, being belligerent begins to storm out of the tieflings room at just the wrong time and Kacha’ak warns Therai not to let him out into the hall. The tiefling thinks fast and manages to slap Tanark across the face, stunning him long enough to pull him back in, but not fast enough. The dray see and become curious; they approach Therai’s room. Sorin connects the party with her psychic voice and the group tries to figure out what is going on. As they are speaking Abraxas drops out of Sorin’s ceiling and the two commune further, eventually figuring out that dray are trying to kill both he and Tanark…..

Sorin moves quick, gauging where she believes the weapons vault is, she goes out into the hall and feels the presence of her “bound” blade through wood and stone. She magically grasps the sword and it is suddenly in her hand. Tom is now informed of the situation through the psychic link. The dray have reached Therai’s room and are now threatening to break it down if it is not opened. Away from the dray, but still in the hall with Sorin is Kacha’ak who sees Jiro come up the stairs. The elf throws Kacha’ak the keys to the vault because he knows he is with Abraxas then flees at the sight of dray. As Abraxas and Sorin argue about what information should be discussed at that very moment, the dray bust down the door to Therai’s room. Kacha’ak makes use of the ducts that Abraxas came out of to go above the ceiling. A fight begins with the unarmed Kacha’ak, Abraxas, Tanark, and Therai and the armed Tom and Sorin against two dray clan-warriors and two potent sorcerers. The fight is rough-and-tumble with the powerful dray making a show of their brutality and training while the characters scramble for advantage when they have little to show. As the fight progresses Durn and nine of his dwarves charge to aid the party, but closely following is plenty of unseen dray, including one that appears to be the leader. He speaks from the safety of the stairwell and confirms with a lieutenant that the building is surrounded and the men are ready. The session ends mid combat with one dray on fire, another dray holding off all of Tanark, Therai and Kacha’ak and two being beaten back by Abraxas and Sorin and Tom; Abraxas is armed with a staff he picked up off one of the sorcerers.

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