The group (with the addition of the Lir’s party) is on the way towards Freedom, to avoid further problems with the Belgoi they decide to move towards North instead. During the march, suddenly the sky darkens, huge clouds of dust starts to form. Is a dust storm! And a huge one too.
Moreover, the storm seems to grow up, lightning can be seen in the distance. It’s a bad one. This kind of storms are very rare and are composed by a “core” that is (usually) very “elemental” based, while the outskirt is a normal dust storm. Being caught in one of them is definitively not good.
The party quickly decide that the best option is to move straight to West, into the badlands and try to get shelter somewhere, hoping to avoid being hit by the storm’s core.
Cor move at the head of the caravan looking out for some sort of protection, while Varnag and Hardok takes the rearguard and begin urging everybody to move faster. After a lot of pushing and shoving they manage to get into a shallow canyon that offers enough protection from the sand. However, everybody can see that elemental are whizzing past in the sand, the dust begins to coalesce into animals shapes… the party move forwards into the canyon, the dust and sand in the air is thickening, soon the visibility will be reduced… then the elemental begins to move and attack.
They are not completely solid, but the shapes are of some sort of animals, four-legged and apparently not completely intelligent, they attack without coordination but since it’s just a bunch of sand swirling around, they hits everybody that is around.
After a few seconds, the visibility is reduced to few steps, in the dust, a larger elemental shows up, but is quickly subdued by Cor’s relentless attack.
The elementals are vanquished and they dissipate and scatters into dust.
The party traces their steps back to the rest of the caravan, where Fathalia and the rest of the guards have just fended off a similar attacks, the caravan keeps moving forward. Therai suggest to “ropes” all the members along so nobody gets lost in the dust and the caravan can move forwards, Fathalia says that there is some kind of ruin, or derelict building located in the canyon to the North, she has never been there, but she knows that is there. Apparently an old settlements or fort, definitively a stone structure.
Therai thinks that the ruin could be an old human settlement, sort of a worship site, some sort of a racial-supremacy outpost, and probably has been sacked by Tarek multiple times (Tareks hate everything that is made of stone and whoever made it).
The caravaners grit their theets and push forward, with Varnag and Hardok in the rearguard to recover every stragglers.
The storm is raging now, with lightning strikes and the sky is really dark, luckily, since the caravan is now moving in the open, the Elemental have no chance to coalesce in the wind.
Soon, the shape of a building emerges from the dust, it seems a really old structure but with very thick strong walls, and that’s the reason the building survived this long. Every other remaining of the building is unfortunately gone. However some part of it are still standing and offer protection and shelter from the dust storm. The caravan walks in and settles down waiting for the storm to pass.
Therai is really interested in finding out if somebody has devised some sort of ritual to create an “instant safe camp”, that would be extremely interesting for the caravan business (and everybody else), but nobody has ever heard of such thing.
The caravan decides to stay and spend the night in the structure, the night passes without problems.
At Dawn, Varnag decides to climb on the top of the structure to see around, the remaining of the building are still strong and he manages to climb on top of a tower-like structure without problems, up there, he has a view of the whole area and there is nothing special to see, however, he found a small statue, some sort of a robed human, with a strange pointy head. The statue is obviously very old and ruined, but it’s still in one piece. He decide to take it down and see if somebody can tell anything about it.
Therai has found an opening that lead to some sort of a cellar under the building, Cor and Hardok begins to dig to open the passage and Cor manages to scurry in the opening, there is a lot of sand, rubble and rocks, and in the middle of it Cor found some sort of a ‘coin’, a large disc made of a black, translucent, glass-like stone with an head carved on one side and some symbol that can be translated in the number ‘19’ on the other side. The head looks like a human wearing a cowl or an hat that makes his head look pointy. The coin is huge, almost fist-sized.
Varnag arrives with the statue and show it to Therai, and Therai gets the clear impression that the statue hates him.
Hardok looks around the structure, that has obviously being raided more than once, lots of rubble that could have been statues or other embellishment and have probably been smashed maybe by Tareks,
Hardok looks around the structure, that has obviously being raided more than once, lots of rubble that could have been statues or other embellishment and have probably been smashed maybe by Tareks. Some murals (or remaining) that shows blots of colours but nothing recognizable more than some sort of human forms.
Later in the morning the Caravan leave the ruins and begins to move directly North towards Freedom. They quickly realize that they are now straight in Tareks territory and the possibility to meet a patrol or run straight into a whole tribe are quite high.
Varnag suggest to let the Caravan move in the canyon, to stay out of sight, while a couple of scout can ride forward over the border of the canyon to look out for patrols and other stuff also inside the canyon and if they spot anything the caravan can either backup or get out of the canyon to avoid direct confrontation.
The plan works, they manage to stay out of Tarek’s view for most of the day and put a lot of road behind them, until they realize that one of the patrol they just avoided is bound to walk right in the path they just left in a while. Hardok and Cor manage to disguise their tracks and gain some time while the caravan move away.
In the evening, they reach finally Freedom Vales, the terrains changes into a greener, grassy noll, and in the distance there are structure visible, clear sign of the presence of farmers. Obviously there is still wild life around, but it is relatively safe: no Tareks around.
Everybody is very happy to be close to home and feel a lot more confident now.
The caravan stops in an empty barn along the way that is large enough to give shelter to everybody. During the night Cor sees a large fire raging in the North, looks like some sort of structure is burning in the distance, the group decide to wait for the next morning to investigate.
The next morning at dawn, the caravan moves out of the barn and goes in direction of the nearest settlement, they arrives and they notices a burned-down building and a lot of peoples around, everyone seems very upset, there is shouting, pointing of fingers and they seems to the point of starting a fight, Fathalia tries to talk to them but apparently everyone now is hungry with the caravan (!).
Peoples are getting really agitated now, they have work implements in their hands, but those can also act as weapons, and the mob is beginning surrounding the caravan! Quickly Varnag and Hardok shoves away the mob before the caravan gets completely surrounded and everyone makes a run for it, the caravan gains the open fields, the peoples in pursue quickly gives up and some questions are exchanged.
Fathalia says that she recognizes some of the peoples around, she doesn’t know them personally, but they are all known, and everybody seemed to act strangely, and nobody seemed to recognize her, and as the only Thiefling in Freedom, she should be well known to everybody. Also, there are way too many peoples around in that small village.
Therai theorize if the fuss could be caused by another “psionic lizard” like the one that they already encountered.
The caravan moves forward to the next settlements and they can see peoples working in the fields around and nothing is burning or burned down, so they approach. When they get to the village there are mostly women and children and very few men, a woman with a child claims that they also saw the fire and several of the men run to check it out and they haven’t returned yet, they also sent word to Freedom but it will take a while before they know anything from there.
Then a kid runs in and tell Fathalia that “Azul” is back. “Azul”, explains Fathalia, is an half-giant, a non particularly smart one, that set out with a small party to the Shrine of Shivarn not long before, and nobody returned, but now apparently he was back and “he was awesome”, and he claimed that “he was the best ever and he should rule the world!” then everybody wanted to be like him… and then there was the fire. And the last he knew was that Azul was going to go another village in the east and basically going on in a sort of circle visiting every place around.
So it seems that something is amiss in Freedom Vales, before the group has time to devise a plan, a fire is spotted in the East, and the word is “Get there as fast as you can”, so the group and Fathalia are riding towards the East…