Fred moaned in pain. Crushed beneath the dead weight of his crodlu mount, he felt the beast’s massive carcass slowly pressing the life out of him. Turning his head, Fred could see the corpses of his friends, their mounts, and their erdlu beasts of burden strewn across the salt flats. Many were blackened and shrivelled husks, as if the life had been sucked out of them. Maybe that really had been the Dragon that found them. Somehow the Dragon had missed defiling or eating him amidst the carnage, but his faithful crodlu’s carcass would soon finish him off. Fred’s life flashed before his eyes…
Fred was a soldier of Tyr. His six-man squad and its shock troop leader were assigned to assist a Tyrian Templar Defiler on a delivery mission. The Templar was told to deliver a scroll/request for something to an Ivory Triangle denizen named Wheelock, to give Wheelock a second scroll as payment, and to bring the requested item(s) back to Tyr. The Templar was not to return to Tyr without the requested item. An elite andros mul captain of the Tyr Guard was also assigned to assist the Templar. The group was given riding crodlus, pack erdlus, survival equipment, and two healing potions per man.
The party rode out of Tyr and quickly arrived at Fort Skonz. The templar and captains inquired about Wheelock, but learned very little. They decided to veer off the roads and travel across the Tablelands straight to Fort Kalvis.
One evening, the party heard a noise from its gear pile. They discovered a massive shadowy silk wyrm in the midst of draining several water casks. The wyrm thrashed about, severely injuring several guards with its poisonous bite, before being driven off in a hail of crossbow bolts and the templar’s fireballs. The group resolved to be better prepared next time, and that opportunity came the next evening. The silk wyrm had returned! But Fred and friends battled valiantly and slew the beast.
The group arrived at Fort Kalvis. Its leaders inquired about finding Wheelock, and learned something about skulls atop spears and Wheelock living in a hut in the valley below. They left Kalvis to search the Great Ivory Plain for Wheelock. Their search was interrupted by a running battle with 24 salt zombies. The speed of the crodlus and the deadliness of crossbows and fireballs made short work of many zombies, and eventually the group dismounted to take down the rest of the zombies. Several guards were downed but all were eventually revived, and the zombies were crushed.
The group scoured the sands and eventually found Wheelock’s cave! Everyone wishing to see him had to drink a mild poison, and were admitted to see a deranged old man and his caretaker Toth. They learned that Wheelock was a poisoner extraordinaire, that his experiments on himself had caused his insanity, that Toth was completely loyal to Wheelock, and that Toth’s wife “entertained” guests at her Ledopolus tavern. The Templar and the captains negotiated with Wheelock (via Toth) but were unable to meet Wheelock’s price for the desired item.
In frustration, the Templar marched the group to Ledopolus to seek guidance from Shardivan, a dwarven elder. Annoyed at being disturbed, Shardivan laid into the Templar, telling him how insanely greedy Wheelock was, how utterly the Templar had misread Wheelock, and how the Templar had totally botched the negotiation. Shardivan confirmed the value of the party’s offering to Wheelock and told them not to let Wheelock push them around.
The group returned to Wheelock and forcefully convinced him to accept their offer, sweetened with several gold coins acquired in Ledopolus. The Templar pocketed the traded item and the party set out for Tyr. But a day into the salt flats, they saw the shadow of the Dragon, and the rest was a blur of agony…Fred was sure his end was near…