- A. R. Frayre
A WELCOMED SITE
As the party settles-in for the night and goes about the routine business of starting a fire and cooking the evening meal, suddenly they spot two familiar shapes in the distance; It is none other than Tan and Leth! The two mystics yet live!
With open arms, the two are welcomed into camp with much joy, and both are handed heaping bowls of hot neep stew.
Hassimir recants their journeys since being magically-transported to this savannah, including of course, their run-in with the Razorwings and strange pack of Monstrous Lions a few days ago. Unfortunately, Leth reports that one of the comrades, the Nikaal Psion Ral fell during the violent supernatural storm as he tried to flee and seek shelter. The unfortunate reptile, according to Tan Oz-Gora, was cut to shreds by a gale of razor-sharp salt crystals (known as a glass-storm) brought on by the brutal Athasian winds.
The heroes travel through the hot savannah grasslands. Soon enough, they come upon an area riddled with a jumble of ancient ruins. Adjacent to the ruins, the party spots a sizable bone-crafted slave-wagon filled with people. A flock of vultures circle overhead menacingly. The party cannot tell if anyone still lives within the vessel. Upon approaching the wagon to investigate, the group is ambushed by a huge rabble of Gnoll Tribals hidden within the ruins and tall, dry brush nearby.
No sooner did these savages attack, that the party begins to hack into the hyena-headed abominations, cleaving into their cackling ranks with sharpened bone and steel.
BLAZE OF GLORY
Hordes of these snarling beasts keep coming from the ancient stone ruins! One by one, the mighty tarek barbarian Chuul Kwan lifts his massive blade, bringing down terror and death to these hyena-men with each of his monstrous blows. It was not long before the Red-rage overtakes the giant, mustard-skin brute, and he loses complete control, bashing, biting, head-butting and slashing wildly with his weapon as screams of lust and fury erupt from Chuul’s fanged mouth, echoing fiercely through the ruins.
From out of the ranks of these mange-riddled dog-folk, a massive gnoll warrior appears—The Gnoll Pack-Lord! The monster is a hulking-mass of fur and bone and sharp-teeth, and wields a huge stone axe! In a clash of fury, the two towering hulks clang blades, hacking, jabbing, gouging, and chopping at each other in a massive, frenzied-spray of mutual-gore and blood! As the battle between these two goliaths raged, the gnolls continued their assault on the large tarek, riddling his body with dozens of sharp obsidian arrows. After a fearsome battle, the gnoll-master finally falls, brutally decapitated by Chuul’s huge blade, though the wounds inflicted upon the Tarek by the Pack-Lord are indeed grave…
The remaining gnolls witness the violent death of their leader and run in fear back into the burning wastelands, yapping and howling as they disappeared into the hot, swirling dust.
With a satisfied smirk on his gore-covered face, Chuul falls, finally succumbing to his savage wounds. Gripping his obsidian blade close, the great warrior closses his eyes, and begins his own journey to the realm of his ancestors, where the brave shall live forever.
It was a good death.
CITY OF DUST & BLOOD
It had been a few days since the death of their brother Chuul, and the party’s mood was still somber. During their journey through the dry prairie, they spot the crumbled stone remains of a great city. Many idols and obelisks line the streets of this ancient place, and the party’s wizard Tan Oz-Gora was able to decipher some knowledge from them, as he understood the ancient language of Draxa. According to what he read, this city was once known as Phalypragm, and was a great harbor port and center of trade in times of yore. This entire region was, at one time, a vast ocean of endless water. You and the rest of the party have always heard ancient legends regarding the bunt world of Athas once being lush and green, but you have always dismissed these stories as being nothing but children’s tales. Apparently, this fantastical lore held some bits of truth its seems...
For some time, the party walked through the crumbling harbor city, always keeping a firm-grip on their sword’s pommel though. Amongst the heroes, it was little Basha that first noticed a wondrous site; in the distance, stood a huge marble statue of a young warrior upon a large granite pedestal. Flanking the stone titan, two bubbling springs of fresh, clean, water! One of these life-giving springs overflows, and has, over time, formed a small stream that flows south through the ancient streets of Phalypragm.
The day was mild, in compassion to an average sweltering day on Athas, and the fresh, cold springs were a welcomed reprieve from all the carnage and sorrow of the past few days.
Exploring the nearby structures, Tan was able to decipher the old Draxa writings on the huge marble statue of the young warrior.
“In Honor of my Beloved Son, My First-born, Tutt-Amon”
According to Tan’s teachings of ancient lore, Tutt-Amon was the first-born son of the Dragon-King Kalid-Ma, God-Pharaoh of Kalidnay, thousands of years ago. Legends speak that the young prince was a beautiful man, but held an ugly, evil-soul, and that a former-lover cursed his flesh with a terrible image, so that all would see his true self and flee. It is said that Kalid-Ma loved his son so much, that he had a great palace built for him in the eastern mountains, were he could live away from all those who now shunned his hideous-form. Legends also speak on how Tutt-Amon’s evil and rancor grew with each passing year, and his lust for living-flesh and blood could only be satisfied by yearly convoys of human sacrifices…
As the group filled their empty waterskins and started to set camp for the evening, they are suddenly approached by a large menacing Lask Warrior chewing on the spiced, juicy haunch of a roasted erdlu. The lask hurls the meaty-bone aside and addresses the party, mocking their decision for not taking the sound advice of the Lask Druid Tah-Qwah-Che’ and leaving these sacred Guarded Lands. As he spoke, the party starts noticing more of these savage lask warriors emerge from behind the shadows and ruins, brandishing spiked Agafari war-clubs and sharp, flint-crafted battleaxes.
Very quickly, the conversation goes sour, and the lask leader raises his huge obsidian greataxe roars to his snarling ranks; “Leave none alive!”
Suddenly, from behind the lask leader, a monstrous So-ut appears! Galloping like a mad machine, slamming into the ranks of the heroes with its menacing claws and massive stomping feet. The battle is fierce, but the party manages to repel most of these savages, also sending the lask leader retreating on the scaled back of the So-ut.
Later that evening, the night watch was doubled, though no threat came from the shadows beyond the camp’s light. Alone, and without much fanfare, Leth quietly left the camp and carved the names of his fallen brethren at the foot of one of the ancient statues in remembrance of their friendship and valor.