- A. R. Frayre
After the harrowing battle with Gaj, the party leaves the Haru-Abbakk pass, and enters a great sandy expanse. Lokti notices something in the distance, and pulling out his spyglass, spots a sizable caravan! It’s mighty banners fly on the masts of several of the caravan’s cargo wagons; two crossed black scimitars on a white field—the unmistakable icon of House Stel of Urik.
Water! Provisions! A ray of hope! They quickly make their way towards the caravan. As they cross the dusty valley, they suddenly see a lone figure tumbling down a massive dune. The desperate halfling female runs towards the party and lets out a horrific scream!
Seconds later, a massive Sand Worm bursts from the dust below and swallows her whole. A pair of these monstrous worms emerge and attack the party. Instinctively, the heroes attack without a second’s delay, charging-up their magical weapons and special innate abilities.
Vargass, the mighty Ssurran tribal enters into a blood-thirsty rage, but instead of attacking the worms, the great reptile commences to beat-down on the elvish rogue Lokti! It seems that the ssurran is under some sort of mind-control or curse causing him to turn on his fellow adventurers! As if these huge killer worms were not enough, now the party must contend with a crazed barbarian as well!
As the battle rages on, another one of these worm-monsters bursts up from the hot sands and joins the battle! It’s a vicious back-and-forth melee as the party defend themselves from the worms and Vargass! Blazing-sun, the pterran fire priest eventually manages to subdue Vargass with a hold spell as the rest of the party deal with the worms. With a coordinated attack, the heroes manage to finally slay the two worms.
In the aftermath of the great battle, the party hears screeching and grunting coming from the inside of one of the giant slain worms---its’ the halfling—she yet lives! Without delay, Leth carefully cuts the little savage out of the monster’s gullet. The halfling is covered in a thick, amber goop and reeks of bile, but is otherwise unharmed. She introduces herself as Red Peach Thorn-foot, captain of the Halfling scouts under the command of the Merchant House of Stel of Urik. She thanks the party profusely, then asks them to join her back in camp. She is sure that the caravan master would love to offer his profound thanks for rescuing her from the squirming desert beasts.
Nearby, Vargass’ mysterious rage subsides. Perhaps someone in the Stel camp may have answers to this strange outburst?
The House Stel campsite is a grand affair, but certainly nowhere nearly as large as caravan’s go, consisting only of a few hundred caravaneers, three dozen beasts of burden, and a handful of half-giant guardsmen. The caravan also boasts two dozen or so halfling scouts armed with barbed bone lances and riding on lightly-armored war crodlu.
The halfling Red Peach leads the party up to the caravan master’s tent and introduces them to him. His name is Aziz Cloud-Runner, a half-elf man appearing to be in his late 60’s, with dark skin, pointed ears, a long gray beard, and wearing bejeweled robes.
Aziz thanks the party for their help with Red Peach, and allows them to stay the night and purchase the much-needed supplies and mounts they require. He also gifts the group with a wondrous item; a steel dagger! The party also approaches Aziz and ask him if he could perhaps lend his wisdom regarding the strange situation with the barbarian Vargass’ violent outburst.
“Mama Fortuna! She may perhaps have an answer to their problem!” Aziz states. Mama Fortuna, he explains, is an ancient halfling shaman and mystic that has been part of House Stel for generations. Within her mind, she holds countless secrets and archives of knowledge of the arcane and divine powers.
The inside of this small, hide-crafted tent reeks of strange chemicals, incense, and smoke. Countless jars filled with various bizarre contents (intestines, eyeballs, etc.) line the walls of the tent, as dozens of animal bones and poorly-cured beast hides hang from the ceiling.
At the center of this tent sits an ancient halfling female. She has pale, paper-thin skin and wears her white hair in long, knotted, dirty dreadlocks. Her gnarled hands stretch out towards the party and welcomes them to sit down by her at the fire.
The party explains the situation regarding Vargass to Fortuna, and she quickly divines that the source of this violence is the magical halfling axe that Vargass claimed from the Gaj’s treasure horde recently (The Axe of Great Googa Mooga) is cursed! She explains that entering his barbarian rage triggers the behavior, and that only powerful magic can break this spell…
THE RUINS OF OZ-OKA
Later that evening, as the party settled in for the night around one of the many roaring fires within the Stel campsite, Leth was suddenly compelled to seek Mama Fortuna’s counsel. Alone, he went to the old crones and voiced his concern regarding the strange dreams he had a few days back at The Temple of the Four Thunders, where he also discovered the prophetic scroll grasped within the hands of a fellow dead Air priest.
Using her divine powers, Mama Fortuna told Leth about an ancient and holy city, Oz-Oka, said to hold a wondrous relic of old, The Heart of Jarak-Synn! This treasure, said to be one of the 6 Relics of Zinj—mighty artefacts from ancient times who may just hold the fate of the Tyr region within their power…
Fortuna spoke of Oz-Oka’s vast and deadly dungeon, filled with deadly traps for would-be thieves, and that this labyrinth is guarded by the living dead (elemental priests who failed to defend the temple from a despot king and his army) and other wasteland abomination. Guarding this sacred treasure is said to be one of the 6 Sorrows, an ancient hate left over from olden-times…the more details the old witch divulged, the more Leth’s prophetic dreams began to make sense…
The halfling crone then gifted Leth with a detailed map on how to reach the holy ruins of Oz-Oka, as well as a few magical potion fruits to aid him on his quest. Fate had chosen Leth and his allies to discover the mysteries of these archaic prophecies, and perhaps within the primordial walls of Oz-Oka they may find the answers they so desperately seek...
Saying farewell to their new ally Aziz, and good thanks for his hospitality within his camp, the party was able to purchase all the necessary goods and mounts needed for the rest of their journey north towards the Valley of Mirok.
Deciding to return back to the Haru-Abbakk Pass to replenish their water supplies from its natural freshwater springs, the group ends up staying several days within the misty canyon due to the hellish heat wave sweeping the region.
By the 3rd day of setting camp within the relative safety of the canyon, the harsh heat in the region had subsided enough for the party to continue north. As the group began to break camp and move on, the party is attacked by a large rabble of Slig! These creatures are a savage race of primitive, cave-dwelling, tribals that wage war on all who dare enter their wasteland hunting grounds. Leading these creatures in the attack, a lumbering green-skinned with massive tusks—a Magera! This monstrous brute wields a huge bone greatsword pulsing with electrical energy! At his side, a pair of hulking, armor-plated beasts—Fordorran!
With savage fury, the party clashes with these monsters, exchanging blow for brutal blow with these scaled brutes, but eventually manage to slay the magera and chase his scaly-minions out of the canyon.