THE EBONY MONOLITH
For several hours, the party has been traveling north through the hellish Athasian wastes.
Earlier that day, the group’s kreen ranger had informed the party that he would scout ahead and meet up with them at a designated point on the road. With those words, Ga-Rak departed north into the darkness…
At about noon, when the burning red sun was at its fiery zenith, the group decides to catch their breath and drink their daily ration of water beneath the shade of some nearby ruins.
Various scenes of crude graffiti plaster most of these toppled stone buildings, all seem to have been inscribed with blood and feces. The motif of large, menacing scorpion-like images make-up the majority of these offense icons.
With much on his mind concerning the information obtained from the Halfling witch Mama Fortuna regarding the Ruins of Oz-Oka, Leth relayed this information to the rest of his companions. Using the map as a guide, and after some time debate about their next move, the party agreed to investigate the ancient ruins before moving on to the valley of Mirok.
As they gulp down the life-giving liquid, the colossal braxat Terric soon notices a large, strange shape in the dunes beyond. Pulling out his trusty spyglass, Lokti the elven rogue spots a large basalt monolith. He and Tan-Oz-Gora decide to scout ahead and check the mysterious black object out.
Upon closer inspection, they find that the monolith is carved in the likeness of a deformed, grimacing man—similar to a small fetish statue Tan-Oz-Gora discovered a few days back (The Fetish of Kalid-Ma). Ancient carvings nearly cover the 12-foot tall object, all written in old Draxa, the ancient tongue of Athas. Time and wind has eroded much of what has been written on the archaic black monument, though Tan-Oz-Gora was able to decipher that this odd statue was some sort of regional marker for the ancient city-state of Kalidnay.
Lokti notices something at the base of this monolith and nearly vomits; a series of crude ceramic bowls, each filled with various gory parts of humanoids (blood-soaked eyeballs, severed fingers, shredded intestines, etc.). This monolith seems to be a foul-hearted shrine to some dark and evil cause…
Taking some time to properly bury what’s left of these unfortunate sacrifices, Leth the Air priest performs the last rites on these wretches and gives them a proper send-off, according to Chan’s holy scriptures. Having done so, the party continues onward.
FROM THE SANDS BELOW
Traveling several miles further into this ruin-filled region, the group starts to notice more and more of this scorpion blood and feces graffiti splattered upon the walls of these ruins, until at last they spot something shocking; standing less than a hundred feet away from them on a crumbled marble pillar is a Dune Freak! These foul desert creatures, also known as Anakore, are a brute-race of corpulent desert mutants. Killers, Raiders, and worst of all Cannibals! With a hideous, bloody grin, the dune freak tosses aside the half-eaten severed human arm it was enthusiastically munching on and begins to maniacally laugh at the party.
With a terrible howling screech, a swarm of these bloated desert mutants burst up from the hot, white sands and attack the group, ripping savagely into the party’s ranks with their vicious claws and teeth. After a few moments however, the heroes were able to slay most of these miscreants and send the remaining cannibal savages fleeing into the surrounding dunes beyond.
VALLEY of the SCORPION GODS
The party finds themselves within a vast ruined city. The place looks all but abandoned, except for the occasional small lizard or insect crawling across the dusty ground. Everywhere they look, great stone statues of scorpion-like beasts abound. As they approach what seems to be the center of this massive settlement, the DARK SUN begins to set on the region, and the party decides to hunker down for the night within the relative safety of one of the ruins.
As night passes, Leth and Lokti are pulling night watch duty. Suddenly, from out of the darkness, a horrendous sight emerges; a swarm of Monstrous Scorpions!
In a pinch, Lokti and Leth awaken their companions and the vicious battle begins! The fight is long and fierce, with Vargass once again not being able to withstand the lure of his cursed axe’s power, sending him into a blind rage. After the giant vermin are destroyed, Ral En-Kai was able to assuage Vargass’ mindless berserker-rage before he could kill any one of the party, sending him into a deep, psionic-induced slumber.
MADNESS of the HALFLING’S AXE
After the battle with the giant vermin, Blazing-Sun takes advantage of the situation and snatches-up the cursed halfling’s axe from Vargass’ clawed hands. The priest then spirits the vile weapon away, hiding it amongst the ruins beyond in a secret place, lost for all time—somewhere hidden where no other unfortunate wretch would succumb to the weapon’s madness and rage.
Later that night, Vargass awakens distraught and desperate, as he searches the camp feverishly for his beloved Axe of Googa Mooga. Overtaken by a fanatical craze to get the ensorcelled stone axe back in his hands at whatever the cost, the hulking lizardfolk disappears into the darkness beyond, calling out desperately for it, until his rumbling voice can be heard no-more…