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To Kill a Dragon

Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world?

Things that happened previously:

  • Stravos was made a Lieutenant of the Tyrian Army and given command of about 350 soldiers of varying abilities and backgrounds (aka the Legion of Doom or LOD). Most were worthless or scrubs, a few proficient, and one elite group of gladiators. One group consisted of Templars, a few had gladiators, most were ex-slave farmers, artisans, or urban poor
  • Stravos made Sult, Darian, and Krafke his aides
  • Stravos convinced several gladiators of various houses to enlist under his command
  • Stravos was able to round up enough suits of erdlu armor to equip the scrubs
  • Sult put the raw recruits through a day of drills
  • Darian and Krafke acquired water, water barrels, and wagons to supplement Tyr’s rations. Wagons were “borrowed” from Turloff’s workshop and barrels were lent by the merchants
  • LOD mustered and marched into the mountains. The army marched to defend the Iron Mines
  • Stravos and Sult took a small group on a scouting mission. Got ambushed by elves, both sides took serious losses, elves eventually withdrew. Eventually saw the Urikites from a distance, returned to Tyr to report.
  • Darian and Krafke established watch points at strategic locations leading to the Iron Mines. Eventually saw the enemy from a distance, reported to Tyr and to the main force at the Iron Mines. Eventually returned to Tyr. Rejoined Stravos & Sult
  • Urik’s army appeared to be marching directly on Tyr. Tyr’s main army set up an ambush for Urik’s army. LOD in charge of leading Urik’s scouts and vanguard away so they could not screen Urik’s army from Tyr’s trap.
  • LOD ambushed & destroyed several small Urikite scouting parties. Captured missile weapons and several kanks
  • LOD set up a mini-ambush for Urik’s vanguard in a defensible position. Urik’s vanguard was lured in, proved to be twice the size of LOD. LOD could not really contain Urikites
  • Urik’s vanguard was led by two B’rohg. These began to crush the LOD conscripts. LOD took out the psionicists controlling the B’rohg and they turned on the Urikites. Most Urikites attacked the B’rohg.
  • Stalemate? Bloodbath?
  • Next step for LOD: getting Urik’s inixes into inix fury to cause as much disruption & damage to Urikites as possible. psionically convincing them they are thirsty? focus firing them into bloodied status?
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The (Relative) Calm before the Urikan Storm

First, in the two weeks before Morvak tipped off the party that the Urikan army was coming, two items of interest happen. Darien manages to start drawing a pretty robust salary as he gets his gladiator contracts set up. Darien discovers that sortly thereafter, he is making some enemies as he controls most of the gladiator contracts now. With his contracting connections, Darien sets up Sult with a guard job. Lastly, Krafke continues his waterworks planning.

Now, back to present, the party starts off at the council where people are vigorously arguing about how to face the Urikan army threat. The party notices that Turloff, Sult’s old master is there and has a seat as an artisan representative. Sult makes sure to duck out of sight since he recently trashed Turloff’s place.

Girias is also there trying to rally support to name him general of the army which is a post R’kus currently occupies. Neeva draws the party aside and requests them to persuade the top two houses to commit men to the Tyrian army to defend Tyr and the iron mines from Urik. She says if these two houses do this, other houses will follow.

The party returns to House Fenek, but along the way, see Turloff the Evil Hearted (called by his slaves and former slaves) rousing a crowd of artisans in from of House Vordon. Turloff accuses the merchant house of taking too much of a cut from the artisans. House Vordon sends out about 12 guards to drag Turloff into House Vordon and lock him up. The crowd has different ideas and starts to fight the guards. Sult tried to sway the crowd away from Turloff. However, he fails horribly, and part of the crowd is looking at him and his friends. With that action, he turns the crowd so much away from the party that Darien’s actions are ineffective.

The party starts to retreat as more guards fall. Krafke and Sult run to House Fenig to rally men to put an end to Turloff’s mob. At the same time, Stravos and Darien head toward the council on the same mission. While this is happening, the crowd takes down the last of the guards from House Vordon, and start trying to get into the House compound.

Krafke and Sult arrive first with some men and go to secure Turloff. Turloff says to the mob that the guards are aligned with the merchants and are taking him away. Luckily, Darien and Stravos arrive at about that time. Darien talks Turloff into believing the men are actually taking Turloff away for his safety. Turloff is taken off and the mob dissolves. The party continues onto House Fenig and spends the night there.

The next morning, Krafke goes off to repair his sand skiff while Sult goes to work his job. Darien and Krafke go off to convince the top two houses to commit men to engage the Urikan army. First stop is house Terthani. Vildeen, the head of the house, speaks to them. Darien tries to sweet talk Vildeen, but does not make much headway. Stravos steps in and manages to intimidate Vildeen. However, not completely though as Vildeen still asks for 50 men before he will commit his troops for the defense of Tyr and the mine.

With a deal with House Terthani, Stravos and Darien start to head toward House Minthur to secure men from them as well. However, on the way, they run into a man with a strange accent rousing a large crowd. The party hears him exclaiming the advancing Urikan army is a lie perpetrated by the council. The crowd is getting pretty riled by this.

Darien or Stravos starts injecting streetwise knowledge into the crowd that a person with that kind of accent is from Urik. Someone shouts at the man demanding to know where he is from. The man hesitates allowing Darien to sway the crowd that the man is from Urik. The Urikan man decides to run off. Stravos and Darien start to follow, but lose him. They decide to head onto House Minthur.

Once there, they meet Trevalis, head of the house. After the pair talk to Trevalis for a while, they finally hash out a deal. Trevalis will provide men for the war effort if they will damage a rival’s compound. With that last deal negotiated, Darien and Stravos head back to House Fenig to meet with Krafke and Sult and explain the status of the two houses they spoke to.

The whole party decides to go that night to the rival compound to deal the appropriate damage and get House Minthur on board. Once at the compound, the group surveys that there are guard posts a ways out circling the compound. The compound is a series of buildings including grain stores surrounded by a tall hedge. There are two erdlu pens attached to the outside compound formed by hedges.

The group decides to sneak past the guard posts, open the gates to an erdlu pen and burn the hedges causing damage and stampeding the erdlu. After that Stravos would leap over the hedge and light a building on fire. Krafke would set another building on fire by telekinetically moving a torch onto the building.

The plan almost failed when some of the party (mainly Sult) made too much noise sneaking past the guard posts. Luckily Darien disguised everyone as erdlu. It worked so well that the guard led the “erdlu” to the pen perfectly setting up the party to execute their plan.

The rest of the plan worked pretty much flawlessly. Sult also light some of the compound hedge on fire to add more confusion just after Stravos and Krafke ignited their respective buildings. The group then manages to escape into the night and heads toward House Fenig to get some rest.

On the way back, the party is ambushed when a jaw axe crashes into Darien. As the party prepares to engage two elves on a roof, three more elves slip out of an alley. As Sult unsuccessfully tried to stay on the roof and battle the two elves there, the rest of the crew were trying to fend of the other three elves. Krafke and Darien did some damage, but finally when down. Stravos and Sult finished up the rest of the elves except for one which fled. After reviving the rest of the party, Stravos tied up one of the elves and killed the other unconscious elves. When the elf revived, it basically did not answer any questions, then turned invisible and tried to escape. It did not get very far though and was killed.

The party finally made it back to House Fenig and had a good nights rest.

The end…. for now. Tune in next week when the army of Urik is upon Tyr.

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The New Order

Placeholder for when I get time to flesh it out.

Things to discuss:

  • Beginning of Darian’s negotiation with gladiator stables to line up employment contracts.
  • Darian & Stravos visit Council and ask to become overseers of water and food production. Council debates and denies.
  • Council breaks up Tyr-held farmland and distributes small parcels to ex-slaves.
  • Political fallout and the new politics of Tyr.
  • Beginning of Krafke’s water works wandering.
  • Krafke re-establishes himself at psionic school and moves his skiff there; Sult accompanies him and learns school costs 1 silver/week.
  • Sult’s invasion of his former master’s home. Turloff, aka Bill the Evil-Hearted, turns out to be on the council. Sult also wants to investigate the ziggurat.
  • Riots, disorder. Sand skiff looted & busted up, PCs broke again.
  • Discussion with Girias, the veteran slow-and-steady Templar who’s pissed because he was not chosen to be on the Council. (Later he would be pissed again because he got passed over to be a commander of Tyr’s army.)
  • Darian and Stravos encounter a mob bent on attacking & robbing rich-looking people. D&S talk their way out of it.
  • Meetings with Morvak.
  • News that Urik invades! Waking up Etheros, Sadira & R’kus, Tithian, then emergency council meeting.

More coming as I can remember it.

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Kalak Died

After their second match Stravos and Sult licked their more significant wounds in anticipation of their title bout supporting R’Kus and Neeva. Adding to the nerves was R’Kus cryptic instructions for the fight: “I’ll dislodge the Venerable Gaj from the top of the pyramid, and you keep it and everyone else off me after that.” Why would R’Kus need us to keep opponents off him – shouldn’t it the other way around?

Just before the combatants for the final bout were making final preparations, the floor of the arena opened with lots of mechanical noise, and a giant pyramid (of sorts) rose from the ground. At least 50 feet tall, it was square and alternated flat and sloped levels, making it impossible to stand firmly on the sloped sides. The goal was “King of the Castle” of sorts – get and hold the top of the pyramid until all the other gladiators have been defeated. Having the vertical advantage on the pyramid would be critical.

Acting first out of the gate, R’Kus lead his team directly toward the top of the pyramid, and Sult ended up using an amazingly prescient burst of speed to rush past R’Kus and knock the Venerable Gaj off the top of the pyramid. From there the fight got intense, as all 5 teams enclosed the pyramid as a swamp of flying weapons and bodies encircled the structure.

The other teams were all made of very skilled fighters, and winning the bout was never certain for R’Kus, Neeva, Sult and Stravos. The Blue team encircled Neeva from the flank, and while she is a tough and effective fighter, without R’Kus clearing out the chaff she eventually was knocked out. Sult was getting boxed around by the white dragoons and the Red half giants, Stravos was having a tough time helping his team, as a close quarters free-for-all isn’t his type of fight, and R’Kus was constantly gaining the top of the pyramid by blowing gladiators off like flies from trash, and then he would get knocked off again by the unending stream of opponents, although he did flip over a half-giant at one point with his bare hands (that was pretty cool).

Eventually combatants began to get knocked out and the space cleared. Sult and Stravos began to get a tenuous hold on the top of the pyramid, and R’Kus pulled the mytical and amazing spear off his back and began to do some odd ritualistic preparation. While this was going on the pyramid itself began to glow brighter and brighter, and it seemed to be drawing the life force from people within the stadium. The combatants, being of tougher stock, were generally unaffected, but the crowd was getting more and more panicked as people began to drop to the ground. It was difficult to tell if they were dead or unconscious, but it wasn’t good. Clearly evil things were afoot, but Sult and Stravos didn’t have much choice except to continue to fight for the top of the Pyramid. Getting knocked out of the fight now could be fatal.

Despite some interruptions that had him bellowing with rage that they were running out of time, R’Kus finally finished his preparations for whatever it was. Thankfully, and somewhat strangely, the remaining opponent gladiators stopped rushing the top of the pyramid as R’Kus got close to the end of his ritual. AS he finished he drew the spear out and pointed it into the crowd. From that exact spot a blast of magical energy flew at Kalak’s personal terrace and the piercing sound of shattering was heard as the bolt of energy broke Kalak’s own magical shield. Kalak rose and began trying to repair the shield with unknown incantations, but it was too late. R’Kus drew back, and with a mighty leaping hurl he flung the mystical black spear directly at Kalak, and impaled him directly through the chest.

Kalak’s guards immediately dragged him back and into the golden Palace. R’Kus, right before he rushed Kalak’s box, turned to Stravos and said “take Neeva and get everyone out of here.” he then sprinted off and was levitated by some magical force directly into the box. Many of the remaining gladiators followed, as did many guards, nobles and others from the boxes adjacent to Kalak.

The crowd was in chaos. People were will being sucked dry by the pyramid, Kalak had been pierced through the chest by R’Kus and the assassination was clearly on. But the templars and royal guards were keeping everyone in the arena. Sult grabbed Neeva’s unconscious body and made way with Stravos to the spectator section closest to the rendezvous point. They lept into the crowd, intending to get to the point, but a templar and his half giant saw them and yelled at Sult and Stravos to stay in the ring. While Sult looked for a “way through the side door”Stravos then took command, using the skills he had learned in earning a crowd. standing on a bench, Stravos began bellowing to those around him to turn on their oppressors and throw off the shackles of tyranny. to prove his point he did his best R’Kus imitation and impaled the half giant with his zerka. Inspired, the crowd overwhelmed the templar and the half giant.

Now with a cohort of almost 40 Tyrian citizens, Stravos and Sult made for the rendezvous point, but as they reached the concourse there was another problem. This time a more powerful templar and two stronger half giants were commanding stravos to turn back into the arena. He wasn’t having it. With the same bravado as before Stravos commanded the guards to step down. confident in their abilities, they didn’t, and stravos and many of his crew were drilled with two vorpal sweeps, one from each half giant. But luck was one Stravos’ side, as half giants, confused by the commotion and very half witted-half, cut down their templar commander in the same vorpal sweeps. With no leader, Stravos “convinced” the half giants to step down, which they did.

When Stravos reached the gate at the rendezvous point, imagine his relief when he heard Krafke call out to him from the other side of the huge stone block covering the gate. Krafke told Stravos he needed to crank the block out of the way from the control room. Running to the room, Stravos found another half giant (jeesus! how many of these things are there??!) just sitting against the block, stopping it from moving. Additionally, the crank chain was severed. Clearly someone meant for nobody to escape the arena that day. Stravos, using the same “convincing” bravado as before, sent the half giant away to help “somewhere else” and the block was released. Using Krafke’s mental powers of manipulation the block was slid out of the way of the gate.

Stravos and Sult burst out of the stadium, leading a motley mob. The remaining guards outside the gates were already confused and wanted nothing to do with this bunch. No sooner had they been reunited with Krafke and Darian than a strange psychic or magical shockwave of unknown origin knocked almost everyone near the stadium unconscious.

Assuming the blast originated in the stadium and fearing more of the same, the group dragged each other as best they could away from the stadium and into a nearby building for shelter. The group was debating what to do when they heard Tithian’s voice booming from within the stadium.

Neeva insisted on racing back into the stadium, accompanied by Stravos. The others waited in the building, and ran into Xanyon, who joined the group. Tithian showed Kalak’s crown as proof of the sorcerer-king’s demise and announced a Tyrian new order. He would lead the city, along with Agis of Astocles, a leading noble. Kalak’s emancipation of all slaves would be honored.

Tired and injured, the group needed to rest before reacting to this news. They took shelter in the nearby house Fenek stable. Even if there was looting and rioting, who would bother attacking quarters holding nothing but slaves eager to fight?

After much planning that night, the group decided that the city’s first priority needed to be food and water supplies. Infrastructure would start to break down in the confusion, and mass dehydration and famine loomed. Whether out of charity or avarice, the group decided to propose a plan to the city’s new rulers: they would recruit newly freed gladiators as mercenaries, and use this force to secure wells and farmlands which had fallen into chaos. These supplies would then be sold at fair prices or distributed equitably to Tyrian citizens.

Rather than just marching into the palace, the group needed to present their plan to friendly ears. They returned to the Guild of the Hammer, which they found had become a new government center. Eventually they found their friend Melanda, who listed receptively.

Declaring the plan to be above her pay grade, she took them to the palace. There they checked in with R’kus and were eventually lead into the main hall itself, where Tithian was holding court. Some interesting news they were able to pick up:

  • Tyr was generally in chaos—the transition after Kalak was not well planned.
  • The arcanist who brought down Kalak’s barrier was a pretty half elf named Sedira
  • Sedira planning to leave with R’kus soon for mysterious reasons.
  • R’kus had a pivotal role, but did not know many details about the rebel assassination plans or future expectations.
  • Tithian does appear to be the new ruler of Tyr, but does not appear to be a sorcerer-king in the mold of the other rules of Tableland cities. Sedira and Agis appeared to be second and third in power.
  • Melanda and Etheros are both knowledge runners, who were 3rd tier leaders of the rebel.
  • Banther, a templar and rebel, was the most influential person the group talked to. He seemed sympathetic to the group’s plans, but warned them to wait until the leadership decided on a course of action.
  • The new government appears to comprise two competing groups: Kalak’s templars and the rebel leadership.
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All Roads Lead to (or Stay In) Tyr

In the Mountains to the west of Tyr

Lodewijk and Zet’er st’dti’s complete their training at the monk monestary and decide to leave. Not quite sure where to go, the decide to head toward a halfling settlement across the mountains to the west. They are accompanied by three psionists from the monestary who have pledged to escort them to the edge of the mountains due to the dangers inherent in them. As they head west trying to make their way through the various passes, they come upon 3 halflings under heavy attack from Tigone of the Ringing Mountains and the Tigone’s Gith masters.

The party manages to kill or drive off the attackers after some combat although not before a halfling and Lodewijk go down unconscious. They are quickly brought to their senses after the battle. Nok, who appears to be the halfling party leader, thanks the monk party for coming to their aid. When questioned about their business in the mountains, Nok replies they have come from the halfling village on the west side of the mountains. To Lodewijk’s pleasure, they have knowledge of the passes to get to that village which the monk party was heading towards. Nok continues that they are looking for some halfling artifacts which they appear to have lent to the rebels in Tyr. However, the rebels have decided not to return them to the halflings. When pressed, Nok will not reveal what functions the artifact possesses.

Zet’er st’dti and Lodewijk decide to join up with them since Lodewijk wants to help out his fellow halflings. Also, the halflings are on their way to Tyr, which is where the monk pair last saw their friends. They might be able to see their friends again if they are still in town.

Meanwhile, Back in Tyr

Krafke and Darian train at the School of thought while Stravos trains as a gladiator with his partner, a mul slave named Sult.

Over this time of training, three items of interest occur. First, Morvak the templar, happens to run into Darian at the bar. As Darian make polite conversation, Morvak relays the idea that the sorcerer-king is good for Tyr. And if the rebels would succeed in an overthrow attempt, then Tyr would fall into a devastating anarchy.

Two, Krafke and Darian visit Stravos, and meet Sult for the first time. Krafke and Sult start off on the wrong foot when Krafke calls Sult a half breed.

Three, it is announced that the ziggurat will be completed soon and when it is, a huge gladiator event will ensue. Rumor has it that all former freeman who are slaves will be freed again. All slaves taken by the sorcerer king will be returned to their former owners. Rumor also as it that attendance of the event is mandatory.

Finally, the day of the ziggurat completion and the huge gladiatorial event arrive. Darian and Krafke find themselves corraled by their School of Thought to the stadium as the mandatory attendance rumors turn out to be very true. Part way there, they manage to give the school the slip and setup a watch on the second story of a building next to the stadium. They see templars searching each house, so decide go outside to bluff them. The templars don’t buy it, and send them towards the stadium. Luckily, by the time they get to the stadium, the gates have been closed. So, they remain outside the stadium as the gladiatorial event begins.

As Krafke and Darian stand outside, Stravos and Sult are about to start their first event inside the stadium. In this event,6 teams battle each other. The last team standing wins. Sult and Stravos enter as a team After a fairly quick match, the fighting pair emerge victorious with not much of a struggle.

After some other events go on, Stravos and Sult come back into the arena for another event. This time, the pair fight against two B’rohg Hunters, a sort of half-giant, and four dwarves. Things get a little dicier especially with the B’rohg Hunters throwing rocks (and people), but the duo still manage to capture another win. Their reward is a place in the final event fighting alongside R’kus, Champion of Tyr.

That ends this weeks latest exciting chapter in the To Kill A Dragon saga. Tune in next week to find out if:

  • Sult and Stravos survive (or possibly win) the main event.
  • The sorcerer-king sucks the lifeforce out of everyone in the stadium.
  • The rebels are really evil and are planning to do some nasty things with halfling artifacts.
  • The rebels are really good and are planning to do some nasty things with halfling artifacts.
  • The rebels win and brutal anarchy ensues as Morvak predicted.
  • And much much more… :D
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Red Leader, Standing By
Cut the chatter, Red Two. Accelerate to attack speed.

A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

After the standoff in the Guild of the Hammer, the PCs returned to the skiff and discussed their Guild approach for the next day.

The next day, Xanyon went to his blacksmith apprenticeship under Azzer and the other PCs took up their usual spot at the neighborhood tavern. The bartender mentioned that a particular dude had been hanging around the area. The PCs cornered the guy in an alley and brought him into the tavern for drinks and more questioning. The man said little other than his name, Cruerex. Darian was able to glean some information by reading psychic impressions from the man’s drinking mug. Suspicious, he had the bartender give Cruerex a glass of his “finest”. Cruerex eventually passed out from the poison and the PCs carried him outside into a back alley.

They interrogated Cruerex and learned he was an informant for the Templars of Tyr. The Templar Morvak had suspected a rebel cell at the Guild of the Hammer, and he told Cruerex to watch the Guild for suspicious activity. The PCs confiscated his dagger, told him to stay away, released him on good faith, and returned to the tavern. When Xanyon finished his work day, the PCs returned to the Guild.

A New Hope

The PCs found Azzer and Mahlanda there, who agreed to lead the PCs to Leto. Azzer and Xanyon stayed behind to close up shop. Mahlanda led the PCs through an ancient network of tunnels well below Tyr. Eventually they emerged into a room and found Leto waiting for them. After an emotional reunion between Leto and Darian, everyone discussed what was going on.

Leto, Mahlanda, and Azzer were helping the Rebel. This was a loose network in Tyr preparing to overthrow the Sorcerer-King Kalak. Mahlanda was in logistics and was a runner between different cells: everything was fragmented so nobody would know too much in case someone was interrogated by the Templars.

Leto had gotten involved through his trading activities with House Orodin. He became a smuggler, using his trading across the Tablelands as a cover. Appearing to search for his son Darian gave him a pretext to go anywhere he wanted. The Templars were beginning to suspect Leto’s Rebel involvement and he was laying low for a while.

Darian released Stravos, Krafke, and Xanyon from his service. Loyal to his father’s cause, Darian pledged himself to the Rebel. After some discussion, Stravos and Krafke agreed to be placed where they could help the Rebel when the time was right. Xanyon was later given the choice to be more actively involved with the rebel.

The Empire Strikes Back

On their way back to the skiff, Stravos, Krafke, and Darian were attacked by a thrax. The undead water vampire nearly drained Krafke dry before Stravos and Darian could destroy it.

Upon return to the skiff, the PCs noticed the theft of their scrolls from the salt flats caravan. They suspected that templars were involved and this was indirectly confirmed by Tyr’s caravan guards.

The next morning, the PCs re-entered Tyr. A hooded man beckoned them into an alley and they were led to a meeting with a Templar named Morvak. Morvak politely told them Cruerex had been a double agent and was now probably dead. He offered the PCs a chance to meet with his superiors and to become double agents themselves. The PCs declined and left.

Control, control, you must learn control!

The PCs were taken by Mahlanda to where they could best benefit themselves and the Rebel. They were told to improve themselves and that they would know what to do when the time was right. Darian and Krafke enrolled at Tyr’s School of Thought and greatly increased their psionic power.

Mahlanda got Stravos a place in the prestigious gladiator house Fenek, where he bumped into R’kus, the gigantic mul champion of the house. R’kus challenged Stravos to a duel. R’kus prevailed but was impressed with Stravos’ skill and potential.

Stravos was partnered with a large mul named Sult. They were entered in a fight with a tembo, a shadowy, quick magical beast. Thanks to Sult’s resilience and Stravos’ deadliness, the gladiator team prevailed. They resumed their gladiator training and fighting.

What will happen to our unlikely rebels? Will the Rebellion get that shield generator down? Or will it be the shortest offensive of all time? Stay tuned.

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Escape from Slavery, Rebel Rendezvous
Looking for Leto in Tyr

Lots happened last time (arguably more than ever before), so in an effort to make this more readable I’ll skip most of the flowery language.

Background

Stravos, Xanyon (mul guard/blacksmith), Krafke (eccentric skiff captain), and Darian were in Tyr to search for Darian’s father Leto. Last session they were in a bar at bad time and witnessed a rebel girl fleeing from the templars. All but Stravos were enslaved both because they didn’t identify the rebel, and more importantly because the templars need slaves to work on Kalak’s ziggurat.

Part 1: Escape

Xanyon, Krafe, and Darian awoke in the slave camp. Conditions were deadly in the camp—slaves were worked brutally and given insufficient food, water, and sleep. Because many slaves only lasted a week before succumbing to conditions, our “heroes” knew they needed to act quickly.

After having failed to enlarge an altercation between a half-dozen elves and a half-giant into a larger tumult, they knew they needed to act quickly before conditions took their toll. However, the work group they were assigned to provided scant opportunities: they could not scout the camp out, find suitable materials, or even talk amongst themselves. Was it possible to switch groups?

No, it turned out. When another group came up pick up the bamboo our heroes had been chopping, they attempted to blend into the new group. But neither the old nor the new overseer would have any of it. With guards approaching, it seemed the all-or-nothing escape moment had come.

Although carrying the materials of another group didn’t fool either overseer, at least it looked like normal activity to the guards. That enabled them to get close enough to the wall before the entire camp was alterted. Xanyon and Krafke easily climbed the wall of the camp and Darian levitated over.

Part 2: Reassembling the Party

Xanyon, Krafke, and Darian were out of the camp into the streets of Tyr but the general alarm had been sounded, and guards poured out of the gates to find escaped slaves.

Luckily, Krafke’s Skate ability persisted and enabled the three to zigzag through alleys at super-human speed. Getting lucky again, when they ducked into a building it was as it appeared: an empty residence. They quickly changed clothes (long-sleeve shirts) and grabbed a few items, hoping to blend into the Tyr cityfolk.

A mul, a dwarf, and a human trio would be easy recognized together so they split up and proceeded via different routes to the rendezvous site on the other side of down.

By bad luck, Xanyon and Krafke were interrogated by guards looking for the escaped slaves. Both wisely slowed their arms that they were slaves, but insisted that they were performing chores for their masters. After all, if you owned a slave, would you be outside at this time of day? The guards were satisfied and let them continue on. Darian luckily avoided the patrols.

Part 3: Mystic

While Xanyon, Krafke, and Darian were in the slave camps, Stravos continued his search on the outside. He had to lay low for a while (wanted signs with his picture were still up) but managed to check the slave pits again, unsuccessfully, for Darian’s father Leto. He then went back to the Mystic and paid him 6 more silver for his results on where Leto was.

The mystic informed Stravos that Leto was somewhere in Tyr. The mystic seemed quite pleased with himself, but Stravos was less impressed and intimidated him into provided more specific information. While Stravos waited for the results, Xanyon, Krafke, and Darian arrived at the mystic.

After a joyful reunion and a few hours wait, the mystic said that Leto was in the Trade/Artisan district of Tyr. However, some kind of “psychic shield” was protecting him and prevented the mystic from being any more specific.

Part 4: Artisan’s District

Our “heroes” did the usual canvassing of dwarven merchants, using the story that they were looking for a certain type of dwarven good, and had heard that a trader of house Orodin named “Darian” was around. (If Leto had been going around asking for Darian, they would probably hear about it.)

They eventually arrived at a two story compound called the Guild of the Hammer. Nothing seemed amiss at first: it looked like a traditional store and had an ordinary workshop in back. However, when the proprietor was asked about Orodin he seemed to be hiding something, and the building was covered in a psychic effect—presumably the psychic shield the mystic mentioned.

Part 5: The Guild of the Hammer

The first step was to stake out this guild. If strange things were going on there, presumably they would see more than a blacksmith and his apprentice go in or out. There was a bar whose window afforded a view of the compound, so Stravos, Xanyon, and Krafke went in and camped out at that table.

Their time at the bar at first passed uneventfully. The bar itself was almost empty, with only the bartender and a boy on duty and a thri-kreen the only other customer. The boy spilled drinks on the group but they thought nothing of it. Then Stravos and Darian started to pass out.

Was it just too much beer? Krafke, sensing an ambush, started to carry the other two out, but was attacked from behind by the bartender, while the waiter boy ran out. Stravos and Darian had recovered to some extent by now, and the three easily defeated the bartender.

Heavy questioning by Stravos revealed that the bartender sent his boy to get the templars and tended intended to sell the group back into slavery. The group wanted revenge, but also didn’t want trouble from the bartender and more importantly they still wanted to observe the Guild of the Hammer from his bar. So they made a deal: when the templars came the bartender blamed another group that had fleed, and the three heroes would not kill the bartender.

After a few more days in the bar, noone suspicious was observed going in or out of the guild. However the newly talkative bartender did mention that the Guild was probably a rebel stronghold and sometimes the people coming out of the building didn’t match the people going in.

Part 6: Infiltration of the Guild

Our heroes knew something was weird about this building, but just sitting and waiting was accomplishing nothing. So they sent the most expendable member of the party, Xanyon, undercover. He walked into the guild, showed he was an escaped slave, and claimed he wanted to do whatever it took to dethrone Kalak.

The proprietor played it straight: he didn’t immediately call the templars, but he did suggest Xanyon come back in a few days if he was ready to take an honest job. Despite hopes that this was some kind of euphemism, Xanyon arrived later only to be taught blacksmithing. In fact, he spent about a month working under a guildmember learning the craft. His attempts to subtly inquire about the rebels seemed fruitless.

Finally persistence paid off. A guildmember offered a rebel mission to Xanyon: He was to become re-enslaved and join the gladitorial ranks. There he was to impress a particular noble by killing a deadly beast called a Tembo. Once part of that noble’s stable, he was to pass a secret message. The guildmember needed one other to go with Xanyon, so he sent Xanyon off to ask his sympathetic friends.

Xanyon told all of this to Stravos, Krafke, and Darian who were waiting nearby. That night, the four also saw a rebel enter the compound, the girl who originally caused most of them to become enslaved! It was time for a confrontation.

The four burst into the guild to find the girl talking with the proprietor and a new man. Four men soon came to reinforce the rebels and violence seemed possible. However, Xanyon vouched for the group, and the rebel girl had to admit she owed her freedom to them. Darian, Stravos, and Krafke explained that they weren’t looking for the templars, they just wanted to find Darian’s father.

The rebels finally admitted they were connected to Leto. They said that if the group returned tomorrow night, they would be able to speak with Leto. Suspicious, our heroes departed to consider their next action.

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Where are they now?!?

Monastery of the Western MountainTigon

Returning to the high mountains of Athas, we find the monks of the Western Mountain prepared to let Ze’ter undergo the tests to prove he is a true monk. Behind door no. 1 we find Master Monk Whistling Spider, who wishes Ze’ter to learn to reach out with his senses to feel the psionic rhythm. A quick lesson in lethal break dancing later and Ze’ter has learned to see with all of his senses. Behind door no. 2 stands Master Monk Gauntlet, who thinks Ze’ter just needs a good beating. Sending him into a small room, Ze’ter must test his fighting prowess against other monks using only the maneuvers and techniques he has with him, nothing else. After smashing a few faces, and catching a fist to the thorax, Ze’ter not only sees stars, but his accomplishment at another of the monastic challenges. Finally, door no. 3, with Monk Master Insano. Wanting Ze’ter to learn to how to be completely self reliant, he ignores him. The test, it seems, is one of patience and finding a problem to solve on his own. It just so happens one presents itself in the form of delicious lizards to eat… er a tigon to rescue. The beast was ferocious and fearful, but was trapped under a large boulder and slowly dying of thirst and hunger. Seeing another apex predator, Ze’ter cowed the beast and freed it. Hooray! Returning to the Monastery, everyone was adequately impressed by Ze’ter, and that little guy that follows him around and who he shares his meals with. With final words of wisdom, the monks ask if he can investigate what is happening in Tyr and let them know what the whole mess going on there means. Talk about a great segue to…

Pit of Doom, part 2

We find our hapless party of sand skimmers chasing through the desert in search of Leto, or as some might call him “Dad”. Nice guy all around, but apparently caught by some local toughs looking to score a quick bar or two. After searching under every rock and corpse available, the fellas decide there is only one place they could possibly find a captured Leto, and that’s Tyr (what are the odds?)! Quickly skimming to the city, our brave heroes begin searching for contacts who might help. Rescuing a half-elf from the murderous intentions of the elven conclave, they learn… nothing. Rushing to a powerful telepath in the city, they purchase his services and learn… nothing. Bolting to the slave pits they search through the lots of slaves and ask them if they have seen Leto and learn… nothing. Finally, going into the taverns and bars, asking around they do learn something important… templars are enormous assholes, and there is a rebel underground in Tyr (although this isn’t nearly as important, unfortunately). How did our heroes learn this, you ask? They unwittingly harbor a rebel at their barroom table, don’t turn her over to the Templar, and then have to make an action movie exit from said bar through… wait for it… the windows. Ouch. However, it seems this mama’s boy Templar is pretty lame ‘cause he can’t get our heroes nailed down with his magic. Instead, he has to get his thugs to do the dirty work. Pretty imbarrassing if you ask me (but you wouldn’t because I’m the narrator). So, our heroes, sans the really speedy one, find themselves stripped, shaved, and enslaved (haha, get it) in Tyr’s slave pits. That sucks. On the bright side, if Leto’s in the slave pits they might actually find him now…

Will Ze’ter ever be reunited with his pet tigon, Chippy? Will Leto ever be found? Will Tyr ever have its very own condo-hotel ziggurat??? Does anyone get the stupid TV reference? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

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Fred's Luck Runs Out

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…

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Why Are We Getting This Thing Anyway?

My morning of flagellating slaves on the ziggurratt a couple weeks ago was interrupted by an urgent courier from the tyrant himself. Called to his outer chamber I soon learned from the Templar Superior that The Tyrant had stumbled upon mention of an ancient magical amulet in his endless studies, and he wanted it for himself. Unfortunately the amulet was held in the ancient ruined city of Bodach, and he had hand-picked me to lead a small force to retrieve the amulet.

Why he wanted this amulet I will never know, as it is buried within the most dangerous place on all of Athas. Once the mightiest city-state of Athas, Bodach is now under centuries of sand and undead foes. I was assigned a very capable Templar of Tyr as well as a force of seven Tyr Shock Troopers and their leader, an outstanding Mul Captain. Equipped with a dozen Crodlu, 2 dozen erdlu, plentiful supplies and a half-dozen healing potions for each member of the party, The Tyrant was sparing no expense to make sure we were successful in our quest to retrieve the amulet. We set out as night fell across the ringing mountains, and our journey across the sand was uneventful. Bodach is just beyond the Ivory Triangle and the worst foes in that area are bandits and elven raiders until you reach the Sea of Silt, and even then most giants can be fairly easily killed by the epic defiling magic of a Hierophant of Tyr, of which I am one.

We took the north route around the swirling silt lakes to the eastern land bridge to Bodach. The city itself rises out of the sand, as defense was not part of its design and thus there is no city wall – being the mightiest city state in all of history has its benefits. We made sure to time our journey into the city ruins for early morning, as the undead do not venture outside during the day unprovoked. This meant myself and the Templar of Tyr could use our arcane magic to try and sense other powerful arcane sources and locate the general whereabouts of the amulet.

After two full days of searching every above-ground street and alley of the giant city, we decided the best place to begin looking more specifically was what appeared to be an ancient academy of magic. As we made our way through the first level hallways that weren’t yet destroyed, we came across ten zombies behind a large pile of rubble – our first encounter with the undead! Trapped in a narrowed passage due to the rubble, unprepared for the ferocity of the zombies’ attacks and unable to execute trooper tactics, one of the troopers was killed before we were able to completely destroy the zombies. After the encounter we continued searching, as we had to push forward to try and gain possession of the amulet despite the loss of a trooper.

We finally found a stairway down to a subterranean keep, and soon after descending the stairs we came across a handful of skeletons. We were much better prepared this time and the troopers barely needed my help in dispatching these foes. After winding around for a while myself and the Templar of Tyr began to get very strong arcane indications that we were coming close to a very powerful magic source.

The lead trooper, a very courageous fellow named Fred, opened a set of double doors and we had found it. We saw a huge room that was empty except for an alter flanked by two dragon statues. The room also had murals that covered every inch of the walls and depicted the birth of the dragon itself! Inside this room was also a Lich reading the inscriptions on the mural, as well as his personal guard of a half dozen skeletons and four wights. We immediately saw that the Lich was wearing the amulet we sought, and the battle was joined. While myself and the Templar of Tyr engaged the Lich in long-range arcane combat, the troopers protected us by quickly forming a battle line and obliterating the wights on our right flank. Fred valiantly protected our left flank from four of the skeletons that approached us by himself. Once the initial wave of wights and skeletons was dealt with, the troopers expertly fanned out to eradicate the remaining foes, and myself, the Mul Captain and Templar of Tyr focused on finishing the Lich. At this point we were surprised as more undead streamed into the chamber from a side door, called by the plight of an undead leader, and we were once again outmanned.

The valiant Mul Captain and his troopers held the day however, as they defeated wave after wave of skeletons, wights and zombies, even after we were able to kill the Lich. The battle was long and fierce, and the party ended up depleting over half of the healing potions, although we did not lose a single man. Now we have the amulet, although we do not know what it does nor how to operate its magical powers.

By my count it is going to be sundown soon – Bodach is dangerous during the day, but deadly at night. Some of the worst undead legends come to life in Bodach once the red Athas sun sinks behind the ringing mountains. If we do escape Bodach this night and return to Tyr, I must give the Mul Captain’s superior my hearty endorsement – he may be the finest front line commander Tyr has. But that day must wait, because the Templar of Tyr is signaling that he senses approaching magic. They are coming…

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