Dark Sun Sandbox

Out of here!
Session 2015-03-21

First session of spring! Twan missing, Varnag was played by Jaroen.

…we’ve left the group just after the fight with the large shadow horror in a cul-de sac, while everybody is resting a bit, Therai decide to check an hunch of his, and pulls the Shadow Sphere out of the bag, by concentrating his thought he can somehow “contact” the sphere and realizes that with that, he can somehow “manipulate” the shadow-material.
The shadow wall at the end of the corridor begins to bubble and a cavity appears!

By walking slowly forward, the group is able to “tunnel” into the shadow substance. After a bit, or what it seems to be days, they emerge from tunnel into a strange room.

It is completely composed by shadow material, but it is very solid, and all the details are a lot more defined than anything they saw before. The room is septagonal, in the exact center, a pedestal rises, that looks like it has been made to hold the sphere. Around it, 7 chairs are disposed facing the pedestal. Around the room there are various benches and tables, covered in equipment.

Some of the tools are gardening tools, and some plant remaining on the tables suggest that the tools were used to plant, transplant and tend some sort of plants. Rochus checks the plant they got in the crystal tower, and notices first of all that they got 12 of them, second, the plants are solid black, but it seems that they are real plant but covered in a thin layer of
shadow substance, like a second skin. The plants have a bulbous fruit, like a tomato or sort of. Looking at the remaining on the table it looks like the fruit was the interest of whoever was dwelling in that place.

On other tables are alchemist tools and devices and some more stuff that nobody can decipher. There are also books, unfortunately they are completely black.

Therai and Varnag inspect the pedestal and they reach the conclusion that this is not a bad shadow copy of a room, this is a real shadow room, and that explains why the room is so well defined. They are now in the real shadow Yaramuk, probably the sphere come from this place. A quick check of Therai, confirms that the sphere now “wants” to go to the pedestal.

After a bit of thinking, Therai has an insight on the matter: the fruit are like concentrated life force, consuming them will give back some energy, but will also destroy the precious fruits. Another option, is to concentrate on the sphere and “embrace” the darkness, this will let them regain some of their strength, but at the price of becoming permanently connected with the shadow.

They debate a lot about the pro and con of every option, somebody is not very happy about “going dark” but the alternative, pointed out by Therai, is probably death. So they decide to take a middle-approach. Since they don’t have a lot of fruit, they decide to consume 2 each, leaving 2 in reserve and regain some precious energy, then everybody will decide how much “shadow” they want to go with.

So everybody takes his own decision, so they place the sphere on the pedestal, where the sphere remain hovering on top of it, then everybody concentrate on the sphere, Cor basically goes for the shadow, and as a result, his skin is visibly grayish, but he regain
a lot of strength and also some more insight in how the shadow-world works. Everybody else decide to keep it low and is not that much affected.

[everyone got 1 healing surge back by turning 1 “shadow” token into a permanent one, except Cor that went all the way and got 7 permanent token but he got 7 healing surge back. each fruit provided hp for 1 healing surge, everyone got 2]

They notices that the ceiling has begun to “wriggle” in spots: the shadow guardian has found them!

Therai has managed to get enough insight into how that world works so he figures that the trick is to “force” the sphere to open a tunnel to a specific place. He does so and the group continue into the shadow tunnel.

After some time walking in the tunnel the group emerges at the outskirt of the inner citadel, in natural (even if very scarce) light! The same place where they entered the inner garden, they can clearly see the semi-destroyed gatehouse where they fought the golem,
Hardok comments that it feels like a lifetime ago.

They also notice a very dense darkness hovering above, with swirling tendrils reaching down in search…

So it’s a “run for it”, but as soon as they reach the Hardok-shaped hole in the wall, they notices something wrong… the destroyed golem is still there, but is not ‘destroyed’… part of it are now shadow-substance and it’s functional.

Another battle ensues, since the golem is right in front of the door and there isn’t much space, Cor decide to test his renewed strength and perform a nifty trick climbing the wall, walking over a ledge and jumping down trying to take the golem from behind, sadly, he only manages to get halfway through, so he doesn’t get a full back-stabbing position, but still manages to impress is companions. Re-destroyed the golem, the group exit the gatehouse and decide that it is better to dive into some building instead of running in the open. The searching tendrils are very close now…

They quickly enters the same building they moved through when they entered, one of which had a bunch of corpses, remaining of a previous adventuring party. However they adventuring party is now replaced by shadows copies of it, and they attack.

The battle is complicated by the sudden appearance of another big shadow-horror and some tentacles from the nearby walls… in the meantime Cor has discovered that he can “tune” into the shadows creatures and manages to even turn one of them into a shadow-copy of himself, that join the fights against the shadow horror (even if only for a short time before being squashed by a force-attack).

The horror is vanquished, but ceiling and walls are now entirely black: more shadow coming… Rushing out of the building, they see a bunch of tendrils or tentacles plunging into the building they just left. No time to lose!

[MILESTONE: 1 Action point / 800xp gained about 1000 to the next level]

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Into the Light (and out again)!
Session 2015-02-21

Alex missing, Cor was played by Davide

…The group proceed towards the bluish-light, they notices that the ground goes from being shadow-substance to real dirt, they are definitively in some sort of garden. There are rows of remaining of plants and after a bit, they meet again with the stream that follows the path towards the light.

The garden is sort-of circular, with various paths converging towards the center where a large, round constructions stands. The building is some sort of a tower, with a ground floor made of grey stone, and the upper floor made of a glass-like translucent substance, the bluish light shine through the wall but is not clear what does create it.

The river that flows on the side of the path is pitch black and the substance that creates it is extremely dense but it seems to flow faster. Whatever it is, it seems that it generates inside the tower. There are traces of defiling that follows the row of greenery, precisely channeled in rows.
Rochus looks at the sky, and he can see that there is some sort of black “thing” hanging on the sky, that stirs and twirls, and there are “tentacles” or tendrils of sort that are now coming down.. they don’t seem to be moving very fast but the ‘thing’ is a as big as eye can see…

The group quickly reaches the building and notices that the doors are made of the same gray stone, they force them open and are inside a large round room, there are 7 doors in the room, each one of them probably connect with a similar path, and by each door there is a flight of stairs that leads upstairs. The ceiling is curved and then drops down in some sort of a funnel towards the center of the room where there is a large basin, with a pedestal of some sort, at the top of the pedestal a glass or crystal sphere, the core of the sphere is pitch black, from the funnel a flow of water falls on the sphere, where it touches, the water gurgles and is turned into a pitch-black-gooeish substance that flows down into the basin and then into 7 channels carved into the floor and then towards the walls (and probably outside).
..Is that the ‘sphere of darkness’ which the Braxat refers to ?

Therai theorizes that there has been a very special and powerful defiling that was channeled and controlled in a very careful way to create all that. There are also some writing on the walls, after some reading, they reach the conclusion that the whole story of Amanu defile-bombing the city is a fabrication, it seems that Yaramuk had a “shadow version” of itself that was, somehow, transported into Athas while Yaramuk self was transported in the ‘shadow-world’, and they are now standing in the center of the shadow version. Whatever swapped the two cities made a big mess and destroyed a lot of people in the process. The focus for the shadow-world is that sphere in the center.
Another thing that is stated in the writing, is that Shadow-Yaramuk had a powerful “guardian”, and that is also being transported in the ‘real world’. Rochus immediately thinks about the tendrils coming down from the sky…

After a bit of conjecturing, they decide that the best thing to do is to try to shut off the water flowing on the sphere, somehow, so they move upstairs. There is light, but is a cold light, not warm, the walls are made of a transparent material that is as hard as stone at the touch. There are pots and rows of dirt were plants were probably grown, the place looks a lot like a greenhouse. The center of the room is completely occupied by a large but shallow basin, filled with clear water, the basin is surrounded by 7 pillars made of black obsidian (or similar material), at the top of each pillar a sphere is the focus of defiling forces that runs along the rows of dirt towards the center of the water basin, where they meet, a large blob of water that burbles and boils, then it sprout some sort of humanoid form and they realize that it is a huge water elemental, kept in check by the defiling forces in the middle of the basin and it sounds also a lot pissed.

There is a bit of indecision about what to do, it seems that the elemental create the water fall, by acting as an elemental gates, however, is not clear if the elemental was bound in the room by the same forces that created the defiling or not, and is unclear if the elemental can be destroyed at all while is in there… Anyhow, he is not happy and starts attacking the party, so a battle ensue, complicated by the fact that the elemental can ‘sprout’ small elementals that causes distractions.
After a while the elemental is disrupted, even if Therai warns everybody that it is not destroyed, only temporarily incapacitated, they checks the obsidian pillars but can’t find any flaws in the material, so is unclear if they can or not destroy them, and the water begins to stir again.. so as a temporary solution they decide to toss dirt into the pool and temporarily clog the drain, to stop the flow of water. Quickly they return downstairs, Therai tosses an heavy canvas over the sphere and with some help they grab the sphere before the water begins to flow again.

The group moves outside, where they notices that the black tendrils from the sky are now a lot closer, and there is confusion about which way is “out”. After a bit Hardok realizes that every path has a small stream of black water flowing on the side, but it is clear by the status of the paths which one is the south one. However, it seems by the traces that they came from the West and not the south.

They must have been turned around in the black building.

Anyhow, they decide to proceed south in a bee-line towards the outer (and normal) world. But immediately they run into a black building and a cul-de-sac, where they are confronted by the black guardian, in the form of several tendrils sprouting from the walls and a large “mouth-like” thing with tendrils that looks like a meat grinder.
The creature (if it is a ‘creature’) is extremely tough, but they manage to repel it for a while and continue in their adventurous escape…

Milestone! 1 Action Point!

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A Light in the Darkness
Session 2015-02-07

Twan absent – Varnag was played by Davide

…we’d left our heroes venturing further into the darkness in the inner Yaramuk Citadel, pursued by a group of shadow copies of Urquite soldiers.

The group tries to move as fast as possible without stumbling into another problem, however they notice something: if they linger too much into observing or studying the strange ‘shadow’ environment, the shadow gets to them and they begin to feel the cold a lot more…

Stumbling around, they manage to reach a larger area, with a stone floor, and they have the strong sensation that they are now on an open area, like a courtyard or such.
Hardok manage to figure out which side of the courtyard used to be exposed to the sun by the status of the stone, so they can orient themselves and continue towards North and the center of the citadel.

They enter another corridor and found themselves into a large room, with workbenches covered with alchemicals tools and equipments and a number of large “vats”. The room is a patch of real things and shadow-copies, and one of the vat contains a blob of shadow matter, it seems the room was used to “make” things.

An examination of the tools from Varnag makes him remember an old legend: Yaramuk Queen had devised a way to “copy” living creatures, making multiple copies of them to be used for various pourposes. And it seems the legend wasn’t fake: it seems this is where the copies were made. And it seems that the shadow form in the vat were supposed to be a Tembo, so maybe this is where the Tembo were created.

Therai is torned between his urge of moving forward and the will of studying the tools, but he ends up remembering what happened with the metal boxes in UnderTyr and decide to move forward.

The group proceed in the same direction, they descend a staircase and are in a large room with the remaining of cages or something similar, one side of the room is partially occupated by what were tables or other stuff that are now either destroyed or turned into blob of shadow-substance.

The remaining of the cages contains bones or what was bones, a cursory glance made them think that the remaining in the cages were of tembos. Real Tembos, not shadow copies. Maybe an holding room for the creatures made in the previous room?

The group decide to proceed, however, after a bit, they found themselves in the very same room, only they enters from the same door they just exit (!)

Something wrong.. it seems that the space around them is “twisted” in a strange way, and they also notices that the remaining of the tembo are now moving.. and in a bit, they found themselves confronting 3 tembos: one adult and 2 cubs.

A battle ensues, but the group manage to destroy the shadow-copies of the Tembos, it seems those copies were not very well made, or maybe the ages have damaged them. Just when the group was going to get out again, another group of copies of themselves enters by the door!

Cor decides that the best option is to run away and exit the door, but the others can’t follow (or decide not to do so) so another battle begins. This time the drill is known (and Cor after a bit realizes that nobody is following him so he gets back into the fight), so the shadow group is also defeated (note: this is a milestone, everybody gets a free action point).

They manage finally to figure a way out of the place and they found themselves in the open, the ground is now dirt and real stone, and after a bit they found a cobblestone path that lead along the river. It seems the darkness is less… dark. The torches are shining better, there are traces of vegetation (or where vegetations has been in the past) and they can see a faint bluish gloom in the distance… Is it the ‘inner garden’ maybe?

Black Token Status: Cor 6, Varnag 3, Hardok 4, Therai 3, Friend 1, Rochus 5

LEVEL UP!

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Pitch Black
Session 2015/01/17

Everybody present

… the group stands peering into the darkness to the center of Yaramuk, the Citadel is almost invisible, there are traces of a
garden (once), with paths and possibly shrubbery or plants, but are now completely dead. The darkness intensify and is really
difficult to see after a few paces.

Therai’s fire elemental and a couple of torches provide a bit of lights, but as soon as somebody walks even a few paces away, the darkness is complete. And the sound is also muffled, like the air gets thicker.

The group observe the surroundings trying to decide the best course of action, what they notice is that the ground seems to be made of really dark stone, but is not stone for real is a strange dark substance that seems to have “copied” the original stone of the path they are standing on, and between stones, where there was some lichen or grass, the dark substance has ‘copied’ even that but it wasn’t that succesful in doing so.

Therai takes the lead and direct everybody along the border of the inner citadel, back towards the river, the reasoning is that following the river sooner or later they will probably found the remaining of the inner garden.

Walking along the path they found a number of corpses lying around, and they can also ‘feel’ the presence of defiling ‘bubbles’ around but at the moment no trouble. The corpses are ancient, the equipment seems to suggest they were Uriq’s forces. They also notices that the bodies have ‘sunk’ into the dark substance of the ground and are now completely stuck.

Suddenly, a building seems to emerge from the darkness, is the front of some constructions that follows the border of the
inner city, is made of some sort of really dark stone. There is a tall gate that is ajar.

Cor and Rochus peek into the building but there isn’t much to see, they enters and are in some sort of an atrium, very large and with a tall ceiling, so tall that it disappear into the darkness. The try to keep a more-or-less linear path forward.

After a while, they reaches a larger room, they notices that the floor is now mixed between regular marble stones and the ‘shadow’ stone that tryies to imitate the marble.

In the center of the room stands some sort of apparatus. Or at last, a black-shadow replica of an apparatus, with several knobs and levers and something that look like a chair to sit into it. Beyond the device are 4 “things”, that when revealed by the light appears to be Braxat-replica, attached to some sort of devices on the ceiling and under the floor, chains and leverages protrude from the floor. A couple of the replica seems to be melted or severly damaged, but a couple looks fairly Braxat-looking.

Of course there is no stopping Therai that immediately wants to check the device, and it seems that the Braxat were attached to such thing to be used as “motor” to do some sort of work, and the weird device was used to keep them under control (somehow), but now the whole thing as become shadow-matter.

And, at the approach of the group, the shadow-braxats starts to stear and one of them manages to break free from his “restrain”.

A battle ensue, the shadow-braxat appears to be able to perform ‘acid’ attacks in addition of being really huge and strong, in the meantime Therai figures that using the device he can “manipulate” the braxat that is still attached to it, and in a couple of tryis he manages to basically shut it down, the other one is reduced to bits by the group.

The group decide that the longer they stay in one place, the worse it is, the darkness seems to intensify, so they decide to move forward, but when they approach the door, a replica of themselves enters!

So they have to fight themselves, it seems the copies are not perfect, but they seems to imitate quite well the kind of attacks and defense of the various characters. Anyhow, the group manages to defeat them, and decide not to linger around. Cor manages to swipe the iron sword replica, that is made of the same black shadow stuff and it is incredibly cold at the touch, he wraps it into some cloth and decide to carry it with him.

Moving forward, they reaches another large room, this contains a number of corpses, judging by the gears they are wearing they are Uriq’s forces, but the weapons and gear are not “modern”, they seems to have been dead for a long time, some seems to have been dead by starvation or exposure. The body looks like have ‘sunk’ into the shadow-floor. However, some shadow-copy of the Uriq’s soldiers materialize from the darkness and the group decide that it’s time to go. They moves forward following the corridor into the darkness.

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Beware of the Shadows!
Session 2014/11/29

Twan and Alex absents, Varnag was played by Davide and Cor was played by Jaroen.

…the situation is full of trouble: the inner city lays in front of the heroes, but they are not very confident that they can handle the perils that it is going to throw at them. Varnag is in really bad shape. After a quick discussion the decision is to withdraw outside of the ‘danger zone’ and try to backtrack to a point where they can rest and recover a bit, then attempt again with a better plan and more stamina.

Getting out of Yaramuke seems easier than getting in, especially now that they know what to look for and how to evade the problems.

The group quickly reaches the outskirt of the urbanized area, there a surprise expect them: the spot where they had left the crodlu is devoid of crodlus… it seems that they have broken their leashes and gone astray! From a quick check it seems that the crodlu weren’t stolen or attacked, they just didn’t wanted to be there at all and escaped. It also seems that they scattered in all directions. There is nothing to do but proceed on foot.

Therai suggests that they can check with that strange Braxat they saw before if there is a chance of resting at his farm. Nobody has ever heard of a ‘farming’ braxat, but there aren’t many options. Luckily, from the traces on the dust, it seems that a couple of Crodlu went in the same direction, and after a while they spot them grazing on some small plant. They catches them easily enough (the Crodlu are domesticated). One of the two seems limping a bit, but a quick check by Rochus tell them that it’s nothing bad, a bit of a liniment and some rest and it will be fine again. After a bit they also notices the traces of other 2 crodlu that seems to be still going towards the outskirt of the city. So it seems they only lost one.

After a while, the group manages to be in sight of the farm and they also spot the Braxat sitting on his rocks apparently in deep thought. Rochus and Cor will move forward and try to stay hidden while Therai, Varnag and Hardok approaches the Braxat, if he doesn’t seem very friendly everybody will jump him.

They also notices that the 2 missing crodlu are grazing around with the other crodlus, so all of them are present now. Therai approached the Braxat, that seems to finally noticing them.

Therai – Hallo there… great farmer…

The Braxat slowly gets up, towering above them all. Therai has the impression that he’s not very dangerous, it looks a bit surprised and a bit… slow. Another strange feature is that his eyes are completely black, like a couple of black stones. That’s definitively not normal and Therai guess that it has something to do with Shadow Magic (the sort that creates the Tembos).

Therai – I apologize for the disturbing, I don’t mean any harm… I’m lost and just looking for some safe place.

the Braxat seems to slowly ponder the words, like something he isn’t used to, then slowly nods and mutter “Adventurer!”

Therai – Yes, we’re adventurer, we’re travelling to Yaramuke and we’re relly appreciated a safe place.
Braxat – Yaramuke… Good.
Therai – Yaramuke is very bad now.
Braxat – Yes. Dangerous.
Therai – Is it okay if we stay at the farm?
Braxat – Good. You go to Yaramuke. The Crodlu stay. Dangerous. Crodlu Safe here. For you.
Therai – And we can stay safe at the farm?
Braxat – You can rest. I have quest for you!
Therai – (oh fuck)… Of course… You are… very right. Something in return. Sounds fine. We help you and you help us.

Varnag is puzzled by the Braxat, he knows that they are not really bright but this one seems a bit strange. There is an urban legend that in Tyr there is a group of Halfling that somehow has a Braxat.

Braxat – Follows.

The Braxat moves towards the farm, he counts his crodlu and realize that there are more, he mutters “More. Yours”. So he makes the connection that the crodlus have to belongs to the group.

Braxat – Have you been in Yaramuke?
Therai – Yes, we got to the wall.
Braxat – Not inside?
Therai – Why?

The braxat seems confused.

Braxat – Dangerous.
Therai – Do you know Yaramuke?
Braxat – Dangerous. Defiled. Shadow. You in city. Beware of your shadows.
Therai – What is the problem with the shadow?
Braxat – Dangerous.
Therai – Are you from Yaramuke?

He seems to think about then he mutters “Yes. No”.

Therai has the impression that the creature is actually two persons in one.

Therai – How can we call you?
Braxat – Braxat. Braxat is Braxat!

He seems satisfied with that.

Therai – You watch the crodlus?
Braxat – Yes, I watch the crodlus for the adventurers. They take them back when they leave. Sometimes they don’t.
Hardok – Many adventurers around here?
Braxat – Sometimes.
Hardok – (to no one in particular) So much for the forgotten city.
Therai – Did you see the shadow?
Braxat – Yaramuke is shadow. Braxat stay out. Defiled too big.
Hardok – (to no one in particular) This guy seems smarter than other people.
Therai – What is this quest that you want us to do?
Braxat – Find thing. (he seems to think for a while) Find Sphere of Shadows. Bring. Me want look at Sphere. You keep.

The group is a bit confused about this. He wants to look at this ‘sphere of shadows’. Therai hypothesizes that somehow the ‘shadow’ is inside his body and using this Sphere maybe it can ‘escape’ it. But nobody has heard of this “sphere of shadow”. Therai assumes that is some sort of crystal ball used as a focus for some sort of ritual.

Rochus – Do you know where the Sphere is in Yaramuke?
Braxat – Inner city. In shadow. Near gardens. Fountain.
Rochus – You’ve met a lot of adventurers.. any tip on how to survive?
Braxat – Keep moving. Stay away from shadow horror.

So there is some sort of garden in the inner city, with a fountain. Or so it seems.

Braxat – Beware statues.

Lots of things to be aware of apparently.

The Braxat at this point enters the barn, scraping his head on the top of the door, and gesture towards a corned that is covered with some hay and a nearby barrel.

Braxat – You rest here. Drink.

The water in the barrel looks like thick red wine, it tastes bitter but can be drank. Cor goes to check the distillation device, that seems to be put together with scampered remaining of pottery and obsidian glass.

Varnag collapses immediately on the hay and is snoring in 5 minutes flat. And basically everybody is resting and recovering. The place is desolate and abandoned, it seems that the Braxat spent his time thinking on his rock. Nothing disturbs the rest of the guys (for once), so they get up a lot rested and ready to tackle Yaramuke once again.

Therai decides that the simplest way to move around is to summon his “fire elemental” and use it more or less as a moving torch to illuminate the surrounding.

The group leaves the crodlu at the care of the Braxat and moves back to Yaramuke. This time aware of the ghosts, the defiled patches and the flaming creatures. They quickly reaches the inner wall avoiding troubles. There they consider if there is a different way to cross the wall that does not involve passing the unstable terrain.

Something that attract their attention is some sort of very dark cloud in the dark sky. But it’s moving in an irregular way… Some sort of shadow creature maybe? Rochus decides that it’s worth to keep an eye on it.

The wall is quite tall, but has been battered and seems possible to climb it. There is a bit of divergence of opinion about which place is the best for the climb, and while they are trying to toss the rope on the wall the sound of ghosts begins to be heard and a light turns on in one of the houses. Finally they manage to climb up, leaving Therai and Rochus’ friend tied to the rope to be lifted up. There is a bit of a rush at pulling the rope but they manage and everybody is on the top of the wall.

The group looks around: the city is very dark and it looks a lot like a ghost town. No much damages to the buildings, except the damage inflict by the time and lack of maintenance, but there is definitively something dark and sinister afoot.

There is a door on the nearest tower that lead to a spiral staircase that brings them on the street level. Rochus keeps an eye on the dark shadow in the sky, and notices that it seems closest to the ground now, but it’s difficult to see. In the road they can see some corpses, including a large quadruped.

They decided to move towards the river, there are more corpses around, but they seems ancient, probably some warriors that were either defending the city or attacking it. Unfortunately after a while they run into a large defiled patch that stretches along the road, so they decide to move north, towards the center of the city through an alley and a small plaza. The plaza is full with the remenance of some sort of a market, while moving towards the center they notices a severe drop in the temperature.

The buildings are still in good state after all, and the dark cloud is no longer in sight, but instead of the sun, that at this point should be on the south, there is some sort of dark disk hanging in the sky, like everything is in reverse, and the shadows are also pointing towards south. It seems the light doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. After that, they decide to try to move directly towards the center of the city, in the general direction of the big tower in the center, avoid problems as far as possible.

After some twist and turns, they reaches a large open area, with some benches and a statue, they are quite weary of the statue but decides in the end that it’s just a statue. It’s the statue of a woman with two large animals at her side, looking better they notices that the animals are Tembos. And the woman was probably Yaramuke’s Sorcerer Queen. Definitively, there is a connection between shadows and Yaramuke.

Along the road they notices some corpses that don’t look very old, probably others adventurer.

They reaches two large boulevards, that runs along the river bank, and follow the road towards the city’s center. At one point they decide that the other side of the road looks better so they cross over at a bridge. Therai looks if there are boats or rafts that could be used to move on the river, but everything that was there have long gone or it’s completely destroyed by the time.

At the end of the boulevard, a bridge connects both side, and ahead the road is closed by a long fence, with a large gate flanked by two large statues, the fence disappears in both direction in the darkness. The road is littered with corpses that seems not too old and they seems to have been smashed by great force.

Looking a bit better but without getting much closer, they notices that there are marks that looks like they have been pummeled by large fists. They notices the size of the statues and remember the warning of the Braxat of “beware the statues” and suppose that those aren’t statue but Golem or some other kind of constructs, and it’s better to leave them alone.
The fence seems made entirely of obsidian, very sharp and with pointy bits at the top. On the other side there are the remenance of an old strip of grass, but now all the traces of life are gone.

They decide to leave the road and goes through some house at the side of the street and locate another gate or a different way to avoid the statues.

The houses in this area are posh and large, obviously very rich houses, the interior seems intact, except for the time passed, but no much damages seems to have happened. Cor and Rochus have no trouble getting into one, the door disintegrating into dust as soon as they touches it, but then they get lost inside, and end up in an inner courtyard with a lonely tree, or what’s left of it, standing in a corner. They notices that the tree seems to be in the shadow even if it’s in the light of Therai’s fire elemental.

They moves to another house trying to locate an exit in the street, the house is wide open, the door is gone, inside there are a bunch of corpses, quite new and chopped to bits, it seems the adventurers tried to barricade the room but weren’t very successful in their attempt.

Quickly they leave the house and manage to get back to the road, at a distance from the gate. Therai approach the fence carefully and he feels immediately that trying to cross it wouldn’t be a smart idea. The fence is radiating something, a cold feeling.

In the distance, there is another gate house, this one is across the fence and has one lonely statue guarding it in front. The statue itself doesn’t look pristine: the head is missing and its body seems battered and scarred. It’s still looking powerful.

They decide to try to climb the gate house remaining out of the guardian’s view, get to the roof, cross the fence and climb down the other side, possibly avoiding the statue at all.
Unfortunately, as soon as they begin the climb, there is a rumbling sound and the statue moves, slowly but decisively, in their direction. The Golem is indeed very strong, doesn’t have weapons but its massive fists are capable of smashing walls. The group decide that a direct confrontation is to be avoided and quickly climb the wall of the building.

The problem at this point is the steep incline of the roof that makes Hardok slip and cling to the side of the building, and the Golem is so tall that he can grab the roof and lift itself up.
Everybody leaves the roof as fast as they can and gets into the building, just before the roof collapses bringing the Golem crashing into the building. Inside Varnag, Cor and Rochus confront and dispatch 2 ghosts that have materialized and then proceed to the ground floor, the Golem sees them through a door and smashed the double door to get them. Luckily, the Golem is damaged by the past battles and Hardok can keep it busy while Rochus, Varnag and Cor smash it, in the end the massive statues lies in bits and a new Hardok-shaped
door is carved in the wall of the building, but they are now inside the inner citadel of Yaramuke…

+700 Xp – Total 14550 Xp.

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Yaramuk, the defiled city
Session 2014-11-01

Alex absent, Cor was played by Jaroen.

…we’ve left the group after the spider fight in the tunnel, they decide that since they’re here, it would make sense to continue towards the end of the tunnel.

Rochus and Cor moves forward trying to be as stealthy as possible, and they get to the end of the tunnel, the tunnel opens in a large, circular chamber, with decorated walls and alcoves along the walls, a raised center stand of sort, maybe there was a statue there or was supposed to be a statue.

Bodies or remaining of bodies are scattered around.

Rochus moves to the left while Hardok moves to the right, Cor takes center position to illuminate the room with a torch. The hall is large and tall, the bodies are certainly of dwarvens, mangled and smashed, the flesh mummified, they are certainly dead by long time, some tools are scattered around. From the remaining of the garments it seems they were the workers that were working at this hall, the carvings in the alcoves are unfinished, some are smeared with dessicated blood.

There are some evidence of some spiders, but it seems the room is clean. Rochus’ friend doesn’t like the place and remain by the entrance hissing loudly.

Hardok and Rochus notices that some of the carving are writing, in common and something else, but the ‘something else’ is abraded, like it got deleted, wiped out from reality. Cor is checking the floor for trapdoors, the floor is roughly finished, still not polished like you could expect by dwarven standard, but there are no evident trapdoors or passages towards lower levels.

Then, while Hardok is looking, the essicated blood smeared on the walls, become fluid again and start to flow, while the bodies begins to shake. Hardok yell a warning and prepare for battle.

..the bodies tends to re-assemble some are missing parts or limbs that are too mangled, but they seems solid enough, 5 zombie-like figures rises from the floor, one visibly larger than the other and produces a gurgling sound “…remember…”, Hardok decides that that one is the most threatening so he moves and attacks trying to pin it down.

The strange creature turns out to be some sort of banshee, whose high-pitch shreak turns everyone that hears it into a berserk that attacks even allies. Anyhow, the battle is resolved in a victory for our heroes and all the zombies are dispatched.

Therai takes a bit of time to check the place and decide that it is some sort of dwarven memorial, dedicated to something, but it was destroyed, and the workers killed, before it was finished, so the dead are left in an un-peaceful state because they couldn’t finish their work. And an un-happy dwarf makes for a very un-happy undead. Hence the call “remember” of the banshee. Some parts of the text that have been left and can still be read are quite puzzling: “to save Athas”, “the enemy of us all”, “to crash the boundaries” and “must not forget”. But with so few details it’s impossible to decipher.

A quick checks of the room doesn’t reveal any other passage or doorways, then, before the undead stirs again, everyone decide it’s time to be somewhere else and the group leaves from the same way they came in.

So the group emerge in the light and notices that some time has passed. After a brief rest to recover a bit, they decide to follow the path back to the main road and see if the caravan has passed.

It seems so, the traces of a large caravan are evident, so the group proceed along the Road of Kings towards east.

After another not-so-restful night, the group takes to the road again, and immediately they spot another large caravan, this time with the Stel insignia. At this point the drill is clear: leave the road, try to stay out of sight and move around. Later, they found something that look like an old riverbed, now dried and dead. By a few landmarks that are reported in their map they manage to find an old road leading north. It has to be the road to Yaramuke!

The old road mostly follow the riverbed, after a while they notice that the bottom of the river looks a bit more moist than before, it’s definitively not water, but it’s not dust either.
The wind is prevalent from the south, so everything ‘nasty’ should be transported the other way and so this part of the road should be safe.

Along the road they encounter an old campsite that seems unused by at least a month, so maybe the road is not completely unused.

Since the day is almost at the end, they decide to stop there and camp for the night. The next day they proceed along the road, and after a while they notice that now there is some mud at the bottom of the river, the place is getting wetter! However, the mud doesn’t look “healty”… it smells bad. More north, they notices that the ‘mud’ now looks like some sort of very dense water, almost gelatine and it ‘flows’ very slowly. It still stinks and doesn’t look very good.

Along the road, the group sees something that looks like a farm, at least a wooden constructions with a fenced area that house some crodlu that are slowly grazing on the sparse vegetation. The building doesn’t look pristine, but is certainly functional. Rochus and Cor proceed on foot and gets closer, they notices some equipment attached to the side of the barn that looks like saddles and other implements used to ride crodlu, there are some sacks that are stored there. The place looks like is inhabited. But by who? Who is so crazy to live there?

Nearby the farm, Rochus sees a figure sitting in meditation on a pile of rocks, from stories, he recognize the creature as a Braxat

{the Braxat is a huge reptilian-like biped, with an armored carapace and horned head, those creature have been created by warping magic, they are not particularly friendly but are not stupid either. }

The group, and especially Therai, is intrigued by the presence of this creature here, so they decide to set camp on the other side of the river, in a spot where they can see the farm without being in plain sight and see what happens. The answer to that is “not much”. The Braxat sits on his rocks for quite a while, then it moves and feed the animals, checks a juvenile Crodlu in the enclosure, then he enters the barn (scraping the top of the door with his horns) and emerges a moment later with a couple of buckets that he fill with the foul water of the river and then brings back to the barn, from the chimney of which smokes pours a moment later.

…what the hell is going on here?

Therai is really curious now.

Taking the opportunity when the Braxat is going away with a couple more buckets, Rochus dashes towards the barn and looks inside, besides more farming implement, some sacks (supplies probably) and a few other amenities, something like a huge alembic stand center, referring the discovery to the other, Therai identify the device as a distillation mean. The Braxat is purifying the foul water of the river maybe?

Anyhow, Varnag and Hardok argues that the Braxat could also be not so friendly towards strangers, and the Crodlu could be the ones of other fools that went in to say “hi”. So the best thing to do is to press forward towards Yaramuke and maybe, on the way back to Urik stop by to see what’s going on. Reluctantly Therai concede the point and the group pack up and keep moving towards north.

The “water” in the river now looks like some sort of sludge, and Therai begin to sense the defiling in the air and in the distance, they can begin to see a silhouette of a city. Yaramuke is in view.
The vegetation is becoming sparse and is mostly dead.

The territory around is obviously old farmland, now mostly dead, the group has reached the outskirt of the city, there are skeleton of farm animals and ruin of farms around. Nearby the road there are the ruins of such a farm and something seems to be a bit weird about it, Cor and Rochus again approach to check, walking around they notices that the shadow are not right, it seems that something like a powerful light coming from Yaramuke as ‘etched’ the shadow in the ground and in the walls. There are also arrows, sticking in the walls and in the ground. It seems the farm has been pillaged before the defiling toke place.

The group continues and they notices that a lot of the houses (now ruined) are outside the walls of the city itself. It seems that part of the population were living outside.

The ‘water’ is now very evident and it seems to ‘flow’ with the consistence of dense oil, and there are also ‘things’ moving through it. The river goes in the direction of the city and into it, passing under the walls.

Therai can sense that the defiling is not consistent, there are patches, spots where the defiling forces are stronger and other parts where it’s weaker or totally absent.

The crodlu now begins to refuse to advance, sensing that something is wrong. The group decide to leave them in one of the less-decadent fences and continue on foot.
The “river” is the only thing that moves.

Looking around for any sign of life, they can’t find anything and they don’t even sense any sort of ‘natural spirit’ around the place. They decide to follow the river towards the city, avoiding the patches of defiling energy, and they also notices that is getting dark already, but is not late enough to be dark, it looks like even the light inside the city is defiled. Therai thinks that the only way to find something is follow the river into the old wall of Yaramuke, deep in the hart of the defiled city.

XP 13150 – level up!

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The Peril of Caravanings
it's other Caravans!

Session 2014/10/04 – everybody present

…we had left our heroes interested in various side activities in Urik, so Hardok goes to investigate the whereabouts of the “King”, and to do so, he decides to goes to the official Public Office of the Foreign Guard and ask some question by pretending to be a newcomer interested in joining the army. It turns out that the position of “captain” wasn’t that glamorous and most of the new ideas comes from the new guy that apparently managed to turn that boring position in something a lot more interesting for himself. It also appears that he is also quite a newcomer. Hardok reasons that he must have some good protector, but also to have racked up a few enemies in the process, and it could be interesting to see who is in which side.

Therai is really interested in finding some sort of ritual or other sort of arcane magic that could create a “safe” camp in the wilderness to rest at night without the trouble of being attacked every now and then, this could speed up the operations of the trade house and potentially provide a big advantage. Of course, if somebody had invented something like that everybody would be using by now… so we are either looking for some sort of “forgotten” magic or something that has been banned by the actual ruling. Of course the best way to find something like that would be to either contact the Templars or their “opposite”, the “Veiled Alliance”, but doing the first is really dangerous and the second is easier said than done considering that it is a secret (and illegal) organization seen by most as a terrorist group.

In any event, a few probes in that direction lead to some lead. It seems that a couple of herbalist in Urik have been researching the same stuff for some times and have done some progress in that direction, so the group goes to investigate.
The two, an elderly couple Herbert and List (yeah, no kidding), says that there is an ancient ritual, but there are a few bits of it that requires strange components, in specific something that can be extracted only from the essence extracted from ‘corrupted soil’. Basically they are looking for some sort of fruit of plant that has resisted and lived nearby corrupted or defiled terrain. And it appear they know where to find it.

In the North, along the route to Raam, there is an ancient route leading towards the ruin of Yaramuk and along that route there is Black Waters that is a stream. The ancient town of Yaramuk was the theater of a giant defiling perpetrated by Hamanu because he got pissed at Yaramuk’s king that pretended to be better than him. So Hamanu called up a massive amount of magic and destroyed the whole place at once. Around there you can be certain to find something that, if it resisted, it is strong enough. Of course you can also find other things that are a lot less pleasant. So be aware.

The group is interested in going and check it out, since there will be sometimes before the next caravan arrives and things are sort-of ok at the moment. Then the news arrives that somebody has arrived at Hafisa’s manor from Freedom. The group goes to check, and along the road, they witness a strange event: a panicked crodlu, harnessed to a cart full with pottery, comes careening down an alley, pursued by his owner (it seems) yelling and screaming to stop the cart.

The Crodlu crashes right onto a Templar Patrol, pottery flies everywhere, the patrol goes into shock and begins to act like nothing had happened. After a bit of conversation the group manages to convince the patrol that is better if they help them out, so after this bit of “good citizenships” a little investigations is carried out. It seems that an Elf just tossed some sort of a stink bomb at the Crodlu’s nose and scared the crap out of him. The result is a lot of broken pottery and a very angry merchant.

The group checks the alley, following the destruction path and reaches a factory where the pottery is made, in the door a couple of porters are chatting about the broken pottery and the fact that the Elfs are always causing troubles. But it doesn’t seems anything major, just some troublemakers. It also seems that more pottery factory were damaged or attacked in the last few days, but very little information seems to be available about this ‘epidemic’.

Other news that arrives: Urik’s military is gearing up for something apparently big, maybe they plan to attack Kled or even Tyr itself (?).

The group reaches the Warehouse and is informed that a raider from Freedom is now housed at Afisa’s Manor, the raider was apparently part of a raiding party that succesfully attacked a Stel caravan along the road to Kled, then they decided to turn traders to offload the cargo and in turn were attacked by a Stel raiding party, now the few survivors scattered and he managed to get to Afisa’s. The doubt is: what to do with this idiot now? Officially, Hafisa’s is not associated with raiders (and indeed raiding is damaging the trading), but at the same time, tossing him to the wolves doesn’t seems very nice thing to do.
After a bit of debating the group decide that he has to get the hell out of there, and possibly disappear.

The preparation for the departure begins, since the group is going to follow for most part the trading route towards Raam, there will be a good-marked path and not much wilderness-scouting (hopefully).

However, along the road, things starts to go bad almost immediately, first the group spot a bunch of elves on the road, it seems a full elven tribe that just attacked and destroyed a caravan, and there are patrols around. The group quickly leaves the route and goes cross-country trying to avoid detection and direct confrontation with an hundred or so elven warriors. The trick works and after a while the group re-join the route away from the attack-zone. The question is if the detour is going to get the whole group lost or not. It turns out that no, the group is still on the right path, and after a bit of rest in the night, they are back on the road.

The group is moving along the route at a distance from Urik now, and they spot other peoples moving along the road, and there is also a huge Mekillot.

That’s a caravan from House Tsalaxa (they are the only candidate for the title of “worse than Stel”), they have their headquarted in Draj, the City of Moon, they are also not so friendly towards small houses and it is obviously a big slave caravan directed to Urik, again, the group leaves the road and moves cross-country. Tsalaxa has a reputation for rounding his number of slaves by attacking smaller caravans encountered en route and adding their members to the slaves to be sold. So a quick decision is taken about moving cross-counter again and avoiding the caravan and problems (as much as possible).

After a lot of detours, it seems they have found an old and forgotten path, that goes more or less parallel to the original route but it tends to deviate towards the Dragon’s Bowl that is rumored to be the site from which the Dragon was created.

The trail doesn’t seems to have been used for a while and it leads towards some rocky terrain where Therai spots an opening, it seems some sort of a natural cave that has been worked on to make it larger and flatter and more “inviting”, it seems to follow the tunnel and goes down for a while, there are steps going down and murals along the walls. Probably of dwarvens origin, Therai is hitchy to explore it, so everybody approach the entrance carefully and Rochus spots traces of crystal spiders, but not the huge kind, a lot smaller and faster.

The entrance leads to a long corridor with big painting on the walls that depict Dwarfs building the cave, then turning from builders to scholar or clerics and then sort of “worshipping” some Beholder creature. At this point, the group is quite into the corridor, when Varnag spots a gemstone of some sort in the eye of one of the painting… but isn’t a gemstone: it’s a spider!

A quick battle ensues between the group and about 6 spiders, those are poisonous and when badly wounded they “flashes” blinding their opponents. Anyway, the spiders are dispatched and the group can proceed towards the end of the tunnel…

XP: 900 – Total: 1400 – next session is a level up.

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Poker Faces
session 2014/09/13

Poker Faces…

Session held at Alex’s place, Jaroen missing, Therai was played by consensus (more or less)

…we’ve left the group just after the succesful recapture of the old fort, after a somehow good night of sleep. The Fort belonged to house Kletira, but was then sold to house Hafisa as a out-of-town base of operation. Unfortunately it seems that some kind of bandit group decided to use it the same way. While rifling through the provision left by the bandits, somebody spots a group of people approaching in the distance.

They seems to be the same scruffy people as the bandit, so there is a huge chance that is either another group of bandits or the same group reinforcement. Since the two archers that escaped the recapture were running towards north and this group is coming from the west there is a big chance that they don’t know the fort is now in different hands, so quickly the group decide to counter-ambush the approaching group (about 8 peoples led by a tall guy with a trikal).

Rochus leave the fort and hide behind some bushes to attack them from behind while the others let them in and then attack them frontally.

Varnag poses as one of the bandits and talk with the approaching group, that claim they were bringing provisions for the other group. So he opens the door and let them in, then everybody jumps out of their hideout and attacks.

The plan somehow work, 7 of the bandit are quickly finished off, only one archer (it’s always the archers) make a run for it and disappear before anyone could catch him. After a good night sleep, the group awake and notices another group approaching, this time is a large formation of about 30 men, with the insigna of house Stel and lead by somebody in full metal armor! Can it be the heir of Stel house herself?

Stel house is fairly aggressive against other houses, they maintain a fully functional private army, in fact the house is more of a mercenary/private army group with attached a trade department than a real trade house.

There is a bit of negotiation, the Stel group is onto a bunch of elvens from the Swiftwing tribe, a nomadic group of raiders/traders that seems to be operating in the area wreaking havoc along the trade route north of Urik, and they were investigating who was staying at the fort. The group explains that the fort belongs now to house Hafisa and that was rightfully bought. Yes, there were some bandits occupying it but now they’ve been dealt with and there won’t be any more trouble from bandits. After tossing some of the bodies out of the fort, the Stel group is convinced and they leave in good order.

In the late afternoon, finally, the reinforcement from Hafisa arrives with fresh provisions and other peoples. So the next day the group is finally ready to leave the fort and get back to the city.

In the meantime, the Jadite has been sold with profit to the Sedan family, a noble family with interest in the art and the connections to resell it. The day-to-day business of running the house is getting arranged so everybody has time to take a look around and discuss what to do, especially with Stel. Now, there is a relation with the Hafisa family that is useful but Hafisa is seeing the trading as a business and this can help or not.

At this point a courier arrives bringing some interesting news: it seems that a caravan belonging to Stel was attacked by a group of Swiftwing elven in the North. The raiders managed to kill half of the caravan and capture part of it, but a small group escaped and it’s hiding somewhere nearby the caravan route.

The Swiftings are knowing for the raiding but not only that, they are also doing some trading on the side and herding, unlike the Freedom raiders, that only raid to free slaves and damages whoever trades in slavery, the Swiftwings are not picky about who they raid, and they are not picky about selling or employing slaves themselves. The Stel caravan was carrying wine and spices from Gulg and some slaves, so there is a chance that some of them are with the group that escaped.

A plan is quickly put together: the group will race north along the caravan route, get to the spot where the attack was carried on, then follows the tracks to find the missing group, then, if possible, help the remaining people to reach Urik and convince them to either free or sell the slaves to Hafisa’s group. This could both boost the relation with Stel and increase the prestige of Hafisa’s with Freedom. An alternative plan is to simply attack the Stel survivors and steal the whole caravan, but it’s risky, obviously Stel will make a move too, they could arrive at the wrong time…

Anyhow, the group mounts on the Crodlus and quickly dashes north.

Approaching what they think is the spot where the caravan was attacked they notices another group already there. It’s a caravan with the insigna of house Vordon. About 20 peoples in total, they seems to be investigating the place themselves. Therai isn’t thrilled about meeting his old house and decides to avoid the spot altogether. Following the traces of the survivors, they find the caravan. It’s a small group of 6 survivors, a bit messed up, with some mounts and about 7 slaves that don’t look very fit. The survivors are led by a guy that ain’t a caravan leader (or a leader at all) but somehow has stepped up and is trying to do his best.

A quick negotiation ensues, the deal is: we can help them reach Urik by joining forces, this will make us look like a group of 18 peoples and if the Vordon group spots us they could simply decide that it isn’t worth it and move away, in exchange of that, they agree to report that none of the slave survived the attack. On the other hand we could simply leave them to Vordon or make short work of them and free the slave and then try to avoid Vordon. Plan a is of course the simplest and the one that has the better chances of success.

And succeed it does. When Vordon is seen, everybody try to appear as impressive as he can, also the slaves have been unbounded and they are pretending to be part of the caravan too. The Vordon’s group looks a bit and then they simply turn around and moves away.

Unfortunately, the luck runs out: approaching Urik they are met by the same battle group from Stel. They were on the same rescue mission but apparently somebody else did the rescuing.

Therai tries to bluff his way through it and win the freedom of the slaves but one of the Stel caraveners slips out something and the whole thing falls over. Stel gets his caravan as it is, however the group is free to leave and return to his own business. In short: nothing gained (only some XP).

Urik is a very organized city, most of the houses are plain square house, painted in jellow, a lot of green is around the city that has a huge piping and water system underneath. Non-citizens (that basically means most of non-humans) are restricted to the so-called “foreign” quarter, that is patrolled by a division of Urik’s military mostly composed by half-giant. The lead of this “police” force is sometime referred as the “king” of the foreign quarter. There are also lions around the city, that are psionic and highly considered.

In the meantime, Varnag has asked Hafisa who can know something more about his statuine, and Hafisa has referred to a member of the government, actually a Templar that is interested in this kind of antiquites. The templar, a tall Urikite named Kosir, comments that the object is really old, an artifact from a very ancient group that could be considered a precursor of the Templars, the object is from ancient wars, and they usually don’t pop up like this for nothing. They sort-of “picks” peoples that are worthy of them to be taken. And as long as Varnag’s goal will more or less align with the artifact’s goal, he will get a bonus from it. But certainly he shouldn’t brag about it and not trying to sell it. Kosir also claim that he could claim the object for the king, but he think that is a lot more interesting if it stays with Varnag.

Cor try to read into that behavior, and it seems that Kosir is a strategist, somebody that consider playing an high-level game of chess.

The token they found with the statuine is connected with it, but it doesn’t have any magical attribute on his own.

Asked about the Tembo, Kosir claims that they are also very old, and it is worrying and surprisingly that they are now apparently reproducing. Hardok asks about the Tower of Bones and Kosir explain that is one of those things that seems to roam about the Southern Wastes, and is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t linger in the wastes. About why was it made and by who, it is some sort of a mistery.

Some more local news: it seems that the Staying Tax, a city tax that has to be paid by all the resident of the foreign district, has just been raised. And that under the order of the “king” of the district, that apparently is able to do so on a whim. The guy (an half-giant named Craig) is spotted by Hardok on the street, surrounded by his personal body guard of half-giants, and he immediately recognizes as the half-giant that betrayed the tribe and was in cohort with the undead of the Tower of Bone. So the hunt is “on” !

XP: 875 (total 11.500)

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Urik - City of Lions
session 02-08-2014

After leaving the desert behind and setting up the camp not far from Urik, the long traveled caravan gets a rather short visit from a lion, observing the camp from distance.
lion_night.jpg
The watch decides that no immediate danger comes from this lion. But the legend at the campfire has it, that the nation of Urik believes in the Lion-God. And that there are even Lions running free through Urik and that they are holy animals and considered to be the ‘children’ of the Lion-God. It says that the lions can look right into your soul and have psionic powers.
But despite many adventure-stories where the lions became bigger and bigger in time, the night passes by peacefully.

In the morning the caravan prepares its way to its final goal: Havisar Manor , where they will meet Ilios Havisar the quite young head of the family (the father just died 1 year ago).
The caravan travels to the north-east and enters the hilly and green and fruitful lands of Havisar, which are impressively vast and wide.
Arriving at the Manor, the caravan is welcomed by Nikolos the keeper of the manor.
Nikolos’ dark skin is rather obvious and the group gets further insight into Urik’s culture:
All original Urikides have dark skin and the official color of Urik is yellow, as it is displayed on official houses and worn by officials such as templers.
Nikolos himself is the slave of Ilios but he is rather proud of it and doesnt look like a ‘typical’ slave, but rich.
Nikolos describes Urik as green and with a lot of water and its own plumbing system and he also tells that the Havisar family has another house in the city, where the majority of the family is living, while the manor outside of Urik is for business.
While Tyr is famous for its iron mines, Urik is famous for its trade in pottery and obsidian, slavery and arms.
After the group has regenerated by taking a proper bath and having a proper meal,
Ilios arrives in the evening at the manor.
Ilios makes a very friendly and open impression, although he also seems to be sharp and cautious.
After a quick introduction the talk comes quickly to business.
Ilios was very busy and rather successful in the last weeks and tells that he managed to buy some assets and left overs from another small trading house which vanished, Including a small fortress in the bandit ridge north-west of Urik in the direction of Makla.

After the positive news Ilios explains why this other small trading house ‘vanished’.
The biggest and most influential trading house in Urik: House Stel, agressively destroys every small trading house, which could be a competitor as early as possible. It is known that House Stel is favoured by the Sourcerer King Hamanu and thus the city officials.
House Stel has its head quarter in Urik – a giant, massive fortress in the obsidian quarter.
House Stel trades with slavery, arms, pottery, stolen carriage and bounty hunting. They hate elves and they work together with House Rawir in Tyr. They dont have a monopoly on trade but almost on arms.

Ilios checks the jadite figurines and is quite happy about it. He tells that he has another small caravan already ready which could go back to freedom. This small caravan contains exotic medicaments, spices and other ‘goods’ which Therai examines quite thoroughly. He concludes that they have a good value.
Ilios also bought the warehouse from the former small trading house (House Gaithera), which was destroyed by Stel. Coincidently this warehouse is situated directly next to the huge fortress of House Stel in the obsidian quarter.
The next day the caravan travels to this warehouse entering Urik through the Obsidian gate.
Just before the gate, the group observes a small patrol, consisting of three city officials dressed in yellow (most likely templers) and… a lioness!! It seems that this lioness is almost the patrol leader, and while passing by the group it seems to scan everyone and looks right to their souls.
Nothing really happens though, and thus the caravan continues its way into the obsidian quarter of Urik.
Right at the entrance is the huge fortress of House Stel and to the left a giant pit with razor-sharp black obsidian walls. It is the arena of black death. Which was a obsidian mine many many years ago.
Investigating the quarter, Cor finds out that all the big trading houses have a place here. But house Stel seems to be the most present one and is loved by the people. Cor sees a female coming out of the Stel fortress fully dressed in metal armor!!! It seems that house Stel is not very humble but shows its power. And it seems that the major trading route of house Stel is towards the north-west of Urik in the direction of Makla and the Halfling-village.
Arriving at the warehouse, the jadite is well stored and the banners of the new small trading house ‘Havisar’ are raised. (A suggestion was to use the head of a thunder ram as a symbol for the new trading house).
The deal is, that 50% of the profit goes cash into the groups pockets, while the other half gets re-invested into the set-up of the trading house.
Overall it seems that Ilios is doing this all not for money but for prestige…

After all goods arrived safely, the next plan is to visit the small newly purchased fortress in the bandit ridge, to check its status. As it is robably quickly occupied by un-wanted creatures, if we dont claim it soon enough.
Thus, the group stays in the foreign-quarter for the night.
At dawn the group heads towards the north-west to the bandit ridge and in the late afternoon reaches the fortress.
The fortress is still in good shape, but is not abandoned. There are ten well armed humans inside. It could be the former owners from the trading house Gaithera, so the group approaches the gate and talks to the gate guard. After a short while they let the group in.
However, after a few seconds it is clear that the bandit ridge has its name not for no reason.. ITS A TRAP!!
Ten bandits turn to their supposed ‘victims’ and draw their weapons.
IMG_0750.JPG
But unfortunately they underestimated us. And so Cor (himself a rogue and familiar in the business of burglary) jumps to the nearest and weakest bandit and kills him instantly before anybody else could move. A little stunned by this quick response and because of the great effort the group makes, one by one of the bandits bites the dust. Only the two crossbow-shooters escape willingly and fall and stumble off the tower window and run for their lifes.

After the fight the group inspects the fortress but only finds the remaining corpses of the original owners and the bandits. Enjoying the view from the fortress tower, Cor makes out a big caravan in the distance and later recognizes the white banner of house Stel on it with the two crossed scimtars.
The group decides to stay for the night in the fortress, but somehow this night wont be as peaceful as expected…

Each finishes the session with a total of 10625 EXP.

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The Sand of Despair
session 2014-07-19

The caravan awakes in the “conquered” Oasis, a bit more rested after the night, they quickly pack their stuff and takes the trail towards the North, around mid-afternoon, they spot a group (about 16) of travelers coming from the north, they appears to be a mixed group of humans, elvens and an half-giant, towering above the group.

Fathalia seems to recognize the half-giant as one of the raiders from Freedom, so Therai and Rochus moves forward to meet the group. They seems a bit in disarray, all of them seems very nervous, Therai starts some chit-chat with them, the ‘leader’ of the group seems to be the half-giant Gur but there is some murmuring that makes Rochus and Therai think that not everybody agrees with that.

Anyhow, it seems the group was camping along the Bandit’s Ridge when they were attacked by some sort of creature, so fast that it was almost invisible, and it killed the actual group leader leaving the entire group in disarray. The creature then “vanished” in the shadow like it was a shadow itself. They are now supposed to go the oasis where they are supposed to meet with Porgo.

Therai pass along the information about the ‘demon’ in Freedom and the demise of Porgo, this doesn’t makes anybody happy. The raiders begins to be quite distressed and it seems they start to think about the various options, like also attacking the caravan. The group attempt to discuss the things with firmness and with a little show of strength and intimidation and they manage to convince the raiders to continue towards the Oasis.

Avoided direct confrontation, the group discuss the events, there is a strong suspicion that the creature the raiders saw was a Tembo. The group already has some experiences with Tembos after the encounter with the two youth in the Jade Forest, they fill in Rochus about the events and the dangerous creature.

In any event, the caravan proceed along the Bandit’s Ridge. At night fall they decide to camp more or less in the same spot where probably the group of Raiders stopped. Therai decides to set up double guards, and for each shift, somebody with low-light vision with somebody with normal vision, to avoid surprises.

During the night, nothings happens.

In the morning, the group wakes up a bit more rested (but still not 100% recovered), and they immediately notices a bunch of strange creatures scurrying around, they looks like small reptiles with white and red feathers, Rochus recognizes them as Tsaagan, they are swarm predators, not very strong, but fast and ferocious when they are in a pack, the swarm their prey and takes bites out of it, then retreat and try again until they are satisfied or the prey die. Or both.
Tsaagan

The group moves a bit away from the caravan, leaving Fathalia and the guards to control and attempt to “scare” the Tsaagans away, but it doesn’t work very well, so they have to fight a few of them. Luckily, the critters are not so tought and after a quick fight, most of them are dead and the rest are repelled for the moment. The group mounts the Crodlus and leaves towards the North.

After another day of travel, the groups stops at another well-known (and used) camp spot, during the night, some of the group aren’t sleeping and are moving around, Hardok is going to get something to drink when some sort of dark shadow crosses the camp at speed and attacks the sleeping Therai! Hardok immediately yell to alert everybody and attack in retaliation, it’s the Tembo, that immediately disappear in the shadow.

A difficult battle begins between the group and the Tembo that is actively trying to kill Therai (evidently he decided that Therai is the most important of the group). Cor, with keen observation manages to spot the Tembo 3 times, even when the Tembo is basically invisible, but when it is in that form, the attack are weakened. The result is that Therai hits the ground 3 times, however, the Tembo also gets some damage. After the third time that he hits Therai, the Tembo decides that that is enough and disappear in the shadow.

The rest of the night passes without other incidents.

The next day, the group decides to move a bit on the east side following more or less the Ridge, at the side of the Sand of Despair, that is a zone of the desert that has strange psionic effect.

While they move along, they encounter a deep gorge, it seems another effect of the earthquake the Tarek talked before, it seems that a bit further in the desert the gorge become less steep and deep and can be crossed, after a bit of walking however, it occur to Therai and Varnag that the gorge doesn’t actually exists! It is an illusion created by the desert and the group has actually traveled in the desert for quite a while! They reverse direction and go back to the ridge.

The sky clears and the sun is hitting down hard… at this point everybody is suspicious that this is another illusion so there is the choice if to ignore it or takes extra measure… somebody doesn’t believe it and in the end it gets a sun stroke !

In the end, the group, severely weakened but successful, reaches the end of the ridge and a safe spot where to spend the night. If everything goes ok, the next day they should reach Afisa’s mansion outside Urik!

Xp : <level>

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