- A. R. Frayre
The day was overcast, which is a rare and strange thing out here in the salt flats, in and of itself. The party decides to hunker-down for the night amidst a series of salty spires adjacent to a immense natural salt wall. As they go about the nightly business of setting camp, finding necessary wood for the fire, and preparing the evening meal of roasted desert hare and neep (a starchy Athasian tuber), they notice the eerie silence of this part of the wastelands…
During the second shift of the nightly watch, as Leth and Terric begin to turn in for the night, and Chuul Kwan and Hassimir begin to rouse themselves out of slumber for their stretch of watch duty, they hear a series of noises, which even manages to awaken Jub-Jubs, Kassak’s faithful Jhakar companion. The small, stout creature begins to bark uncontrollably into the darkness beyond. Eventually, Hassimir awakens Kassak and informs him that the Jhakar may have caught wind of something dangerous out in the inky-shadows. Immediately, Kassak gets up (though a bit sluggishly, he is in fact cold-blooded) and goes out to scout the darkness beyond. His time away begins to worry the duo, and they go and awaken the rest of this motley-crew.
In half-hour’s time, the scaly ssurran returned with nothing out of the ordinary to report, except for a strange tribal trinket he found just outside of camp; it appeared to be a small, ceramic bell tethered onto a braided rope crafted from human hair.
Using his primal ability to speak with beasts, Kassak asked Jub-Jubs what she saw earlier. “Skinny Woman, Skinny Woman!” the chubby Jhakar repeated frantically.
Kassak showed the item to the rest of the party. Especially stunned by this revelation, was Hassimir. The grizzled Urikite retreated back to his tent to arm himself, without saying another word…
In the dead of night it happens; a hellish chorus of tiny bells ring-out from the darkness beyond the campfire, followed by lunatic laughter and blood-curdling howls! “Belgoi!” Hassimir roars out, as he unsheathes his enchanted bone scimitar and shimmering bronze kukri.
Belgoi, for the uninitiated, are a wretched race of ignorant tribals that devour and despoil both the people and land around them. At first sight, the belgoi appear human–and then you notice the long claws on the end of their fingers, their puckered toothless mouths, and their webbed, three-toed feet. They have a taste for the flesh of intelligent races, and no sane ruler will tolerate them within five day’s travel of his or her city.
In a flash, the rest of the party is awakened from their deep slumber and draw their blades. The tall, lanky, violet-skinned mutants attack in a massive wave against the camp, but the hero’s skill gives back what they receive from these savages ten-fold!
A DEFILER’S RAGE
In the chaos, Tan-Oz-Gora gets severely injured by several of these creature’s psionic attacks, and magically retreats into Hassimir's tents. To his surprise, a pair of Belgoi await him inside, one a young male, one an ancient female dressed in bones and feathers, covered in arcane tattoos, possibly a shaman or witch doctor. The young male quickly overpowers tan and begins to drag him away, while the old Belgoi hag taunts the half-elf, exclaiming that his seed will benefit their tribe—for they are in need of a powerful defiler! Enraged, Tan kicks the old hag off him and blasts both belgoi with savage magical blasts, obliterating the pair in a matter of seconds.
Tan emerges, his entire body pulsing with arcane energy, and then commences with the bloody business of decimating large swathes of these invading creatures with defiler magic!
The party rummages through the aftermath of Tan-Oz-Gora’s immense blasts of arcane power, finding several handfuls of precious gems amongst the defiled and withered Belgoi corpses, all the while giving the young half-elven mage second and worried glances. Physically-drained from his actions, Tan retreats back into his bedroll and rests...
THE KNIGHTS OF KALID-MA
The group has been tirelessly trekking through this hellishly-hot salt flats for several days now. As they traveled, the ssurran ranger Kassak explained that he had passed through this harsh country a few years back, and at the edge of this salty domain lay an expanse of scrub plains where a small farming community of ex-slaves dwell. They could re-supply there before heading north he suggested. The place in question; Jaw-bone Ridge.
Later that afternoon, the party encounters a series of salt-encrusted ruins. Tan suddenly spots a large sandstone skull, similar to what the party encountered before. Curiosity gets the better of him and he goes to investigate, ignoring Kassak’s dire warning to keep moving on, as these places were homes of the dead and should be left alone…
Further study of the ruins reveal that this was a sacred temple dedicated to the Dragon-King Kalid-Ma, and that many of his loyal followers are buried on these hollowed grounds. The ruins also revealed several wizard spells carved directly into these archaic stones that could be very useful to Tan...
As Tan inscribes some arcane writings from the skull into his spellbook, suddenly, great rifts begin to open up from the salty-earth, spitting out dozens of undead Skeletal Warriors! These skeletal fighters are all dressed in ancient brass armor and wield green-rusted khopesh swords. The walking bones surround the party, hacking and slashing relentlessly with their rancid claws and rusted blades. Amongst the dead, even their Skeletal War-hounds join in the battle!
After a few moments of battling-back these living dead, it appears that the heroes have the upper hand, until a great rumbling crash is heard; a huge, hulking, Skeletal Giant bursts from a nearby salt pillar, followed by a band of heavily-armed salt-encrusted Skeletal Knights! The battle is long and bloody, with Tan once again having to resort to defiling magic, killing Hassimir’s beloved mount in the process with a mighty lightning bolt, unfortunately!
After the terrible conflict, the party was able to recover several precious stones, ancient gold jewelry, and a magical item or two.