The group decides to take a tour around the mausoleum, just to check, but there are apparently no backdoor or other entrances, the building is square, decorated with the bazrat script and the strange statues, but no other entrances or doors.
Since the area is still under the influence of the defiler effects, they decide to retire south out of the range of the effect before camping. The next day they decide to leave the area and go back to Freedom.
While riding along, they meet another hunter, going towards a little settlement, that inform them that a small group of Tarek has been spotted, they appear to be heading for an area of badlands, with one of their shaman, probably to perform some kind of ritual and call the spirit of their ancestor and make the terrain “theirs”.
The group immediately spring to action and races to the place, they dismount the Crodlu and circle around a group of big boulders to catch the Tarek from an unexpected side.
The Tarek have placed a couple of guards on boulders, but they are looking towards the north, so approaching from the south the group can get pretty close without being seen. The Tarek shaman is chanting, the group quickly decide that the best option is to attack and dispatch the shaman as fast as possible, they split in two, Hardok advances on the left with the intention of attacking the guards and distract them, while Cor decide to sprint forward, climb the boulder and attack the guard hoping for a quick kill. And he succeed! A brutal strike slashes the Tarek’s side, cutting him down in one strong move. The other guards notices and yell an allarm, but too late, Cor jumps down the boulder and immediately attacks the Tarek’s shaman, the other Tareks begins to react just as the other member of the group race into tha clearing and attacks.
A battle ensue, the Tarek are surprised and quickly dispatched and the ritual is never completed.
The group stops at the settlement for a good night rest and returns to Freedom with yet another trophy, after being to Shivarn and back, also a scuff with the Tarek. As a present and “good luck charm”, Cor is presented with Bartras’ old sword, that served him faithfully since his time as slave-gladiator. The sword is made of metal (!), and is, strangely enough, bare of sign and embellishment, is a “all-business” thing, very sharp and very tought.
After another day of preparation, the Caravan is again on the road, with some unresolved problem in freedom about the Wind of Vengeance of the (future) security of the trading business. Fathalia is accompanying the Caravan as a speaker for Lir house. 2 Guards are also part of the entourage.
Following a suggestion from Tarek, a bag of psychedelic herbs is added to the cargo, those things are naturally grown in Freedom and could supplement the kind of goods that they plan to sell in Urik. However, they’ll have to be carefull in bringing this kind of stuff into the city.
The trip plan is to move north across the Storm Ridge, along the western side of the Storm Maze, a natural maze of canyons where powerful electric storm forms and rages, then turn east and proceed along the badlands to reach the caravan route somewhere south of Urik.
The first day passes uneventful, Therai chats with Fathalia, that seems to be very enamoured with Urik as a city, and compare it to “that dumpster of Tyr”, she claims that Urik is a lot more clean, bettere organized and has a lot more to offer than Tyr.
[Urik is know as a very militaristic society, very well organized but also very tough in dealing with crime (or undesired people) and there is a lot of burocracy involved]
During the trip, another group of Tarek shows up, luckily, they are “good” Tarek, the kind of tarek with which you can have some discussion. However, Fathalia quickly suggests to keep quiet over the Jadite that is transported, since carrying and carving stones is not something that could be liked by the Tarek. Therai inquires if the idea of passing along often with huge caravans has been discussed with the Tareks and if any trouble is expected from them.
The Tarek greets the group and sais that the “earth was restless a few week before” and now a huge thunderstorm is raging on the Maze, and this is uncommon. They think that the Storm Pillar is maybe the cause of that.
Questioning, the group learn that somewhere in the center of the Storm Maze there is something that the Tarek refer as Storm Pillar, that apparently, control (somehow) the storms. The Tarek are worried because the size of this storm is way bigger than what they know as ‘normal’.
The group after a bit of discussion, decide that for the future security of the route, they have to investigate, they decide to follow the advice of the Tarek and pass to the East side of the maze, where one of the direct ‘entrance’ lay, there they can enter the maze and reach the center where the Pillar is.
The detour takes several hours, after that, they enters the maze. The canyons appears to be fairly smooth, between 10 and 12 meters high, thunderclaps and lightning are visible and colours the sky of bright flashes.
Approaching, they realize that some of the noises are closer than others, and then Hardok realize that the noises are thunderclap used by Thunder Rams to communicate with each others (they already encounter Thunder Rams in their previous expedition to Jadite Tiger), they are basically harmles, but they are extremely courious and provoke lightning shocks with their horns. After a turn, they can see them, a couple of adult rams, one basically ‘floating’ in mid air and the other nibbling at some grass, they appears to be a bit confused, probably the continous thundering is confusing them, but they notices the group and become very curious. Theirs horn are flashing with lightning…
Hardok quickly flip his Thunder Blade and provoke a couple of loud claps, the Ram becomes very interested in the blade, Hardok toss the blade at Rochus’ friend that quickly runs into a side canyons, followed by the Rams, the group can proceed without problems from the Rams, after a while Rochus’ friend came back with the blade in complete safety.
The group manages like this to reach basically the center of the maze. Behind a bend on the canyon, the can see something like a pile of floating stones, in the center of a veritable whirlwind of primal energy, blue-white lightning flashes around, rocks and gravel are dragged in circle, and two strange twisty funnel are circling around, distorting, floating, changing shape, becoming more or less visible and flashing lighthing around. On the border of the maelstrom, lightning elemental can be seen forming and dissolving.
Therai get as close as he can to the maelstrom and with his Arcanic abilities perceive that the “Pillar” is actually disrupted, he can clearly see that a fissure have opened in the ground, passing right in the middle of the pilla, and the two “whirlwind” are destabilizing the pillar, but removing the whirlwind, either by using arcanic or psionic power (or with the good old technic of bashing), the pillar could be stabilized. However, chances are that as soon as they begin their action, the Elemental in the area will get very excited.
The group prepare to act…