- A. R. Frayre
The fiery-red Athasian sun burns down hard upon your backs, as an infernally-hot wind scours the dusty region you and your companions now travel through. In the distance, the Elvish rogue Lokti catches a silvery flash of what seems like metal. Using his trusty spyglass, he sees yet another House Vordon cargo wagon in ruin, as well as the monstrous corpse of a Mekillot. On top of the great dead beast lie the remains of a man, his body adorned with silver jewelry.
Also amongst the wagon, Lokti spots a lone Kank. The beast seems to be geared with a saddle and has several packs and a saddlebag strapped to its back. The Air priest Leth suggest that they check things out, as a kank would be a very welcome addition to your motley crew…
Cautiously, the party enters the scene, weapons drawn. The wagon looks ransacked, but you and your comrades decide to have a closer look regardless. Your supplies are running low, and every scrap of food or water would be vital. Leth approaches the kank, and with his innate ability with animals, he quickly calms and subdues the beast, grabbing its reins and leading towards the rest of the party.
Being the curious wizard that he is, Tan-Oz-Gora takes a peek at the corpse that was spotted earlier by Lokti. Searching the cadaver yields a fanciful Scrollcase which contains several useful spells, as well as other enchanted items. From the looks of it, this poor soul was a wizard as well. What he was doing here remains a mystery.
As Tan-Oz-Gora finishes up his investigation of the corpse, a low, gurgling groan is heard throughout the area, emanating from within the massive mekillot corpse. Loud clacking can now be heard from all the surrounding area, to an almost deafening-pitch. In a flash, a massive, gore-covered claw busts out from the mekillot and slams Tan-Oz-Gora square in the chest; before the party can realize what’s happening, a large swarm of viscous Dune Crabs burrow out from the surrounding dunes and descend upon the shocked party, snapping wildly with their huge claws in overwhelming numbers. Suddenly—from behind a rocky outcropping--a Nikaal bursts forth swinging his T’kaesali (an exotic nikaal polearm), cleaving into several of the creatures. The strange reptilian wields the vicious spear-like weapon with the grace and savagery of a Tyrian gladiator.
A horrid and bloody battle ensues shortly thereafter, as the group quickly gather their bearings and deal with the crustacean threat, slaying most of these strange beasts, and sending the remaining monsters fleeing into the earth from whence they came.
After the brutal battle, Leth approaches the mysterious nikaal with a warrior’s welcome! The nikaal is Ral En-Kai, a psion and a comrade of his during his time as a slave in the Mines of Garlock. Ral had escaped the Tyrian slave caravan you and your companions did a few days back, and had been traveling north towards Tyr as well. Somewhere along the wasteland path, Ral caught scent of the party and followed them through the wastes.
DEATH FROM ABOVE
It’s been several hours since your battle with the monstrous clutch of Dune Crabs, and the heat has been getting increasingly greater. Walking these powdery-dunes, you spot a great and menacing skull carved on the side of a sandstone hill amongst a jumble of crumbling pillars.
The holy-man Leth decides to take a better peak at the strange stone skull. Upon closer inspection, he discovers that the skull is a dark altar of sorts, a shrine to the unholy, as is evident from the piles of torn and desiccated cadavers that lay at the foot of this grisly, blood-splattered monolith. A strange series of ancient glyphs are carved upon the base of this macabre stone shrine, writings that Leth does not comprehend…
As you traverse these hellish wastes, you suddenly hear a blood-curdling cry; from the skies above you see them, a trio of Giant Undead Vultures swooping down upon you and the companions!
The monsters barrel down, attacking with their rot-encrusted beaks and gore covered talons. The battle is fierce, made worse by these beast’s ability to spew-out massive cones of necrotic sludge down upon the party!
The blasts of necrotic power slams deep into some of the party members, knocking them out of commission and dying. Desperation sets in, but the party gathers their courage and strikes as one, managing to fell the creatures and sending them back into the void. After the terrible carnage, Blazing-Sun and his fellow cleric Leth begin the task of healing the party and bringing the hurt back from the brink of death.
Worn and battered, the party decides to take refuge beneath some of the nearby pillars and catch their breath, resting in the shade as they bind their wounds. In the meanwhile, Tan-Oz-Gora decides to get a closer look at the strange writings carved on the sandstone skull…
As the rest of the party takes a short rest beneath the shade of the ancient pillars, Tan-Oz-Gora begins his investigation of the skull-altar, more specifically, the strange carving etched on its blood-caked base. It turns out, the writings are in Abyssal, the language of demons and fiends.
Scouring the ancient glyphs, Tan discovers a magical spell, which he immediately begins to scribe in his spellbook. He also is able to make out a very bizarre and cryptic inscription;
“The Six shall become one. He will bring to pass
the Obsidian Dawn, and usher forth The Age of Bone”
Just as he is finishing up his inscription of the spell, Tan, Leth, Lokti, and Ral hear the clashing of blades coming from the rest of their group! Before they can react, a massive undead monstrosity, a Half-giant Zombie, appears from behind the skull shrine and attacks them!
On the other side of the skull, Terric, Chuul, and Vargass exchange blade strikes with two more of these rotting-hulks. You recognize these wretches to be former guards from the House Vordon slave-hulk, The Inferno, you and your companions recently escaped from.
A furious battle erupts, but you and the party manage to over-power the dead giants and cut them down with no small effort. In the aftermath, you discover that one of the armored behemoths wielded a magical greatsword and wore an enchanted ring.
After the battle, you continue to travel north, and set camp at the base of a crumbling tower, overlooking a vast sandy basin. The dark sun begins to set over this land, as the twin moons, Ral and Guthay take their places in the heavens. Let us hope that this night be a quiet and restful one, for there are many miles ahead for you and your comrades…
Sand Stone Skull available here