Reckless Breakage

An Excerpt from the Journal of Deovan Dzantulos

12th Day of Highsun, 748 A.D.

Our (my) group has obtained a new acquaintance. This Fortune fellow. By the Twelve Kings, I cannot determine what he is, other than he claims to have once been human; his flesh, if I can call it that, is solid stone, with deep score marks and inscriptions in ancient tongues. I have seen stranger things, it is true, but still, his presence unsettles me somewhat. Never have I been one to put faith in the spirits of the elements. Too capricious. It is better to rely on what things you can always put faith in- mercantilism, for one. Anyways, I am unsure of his motives, but the others have pressured me to trust him.
Skipé and I have discussed him at length. Skipé agrees with me in my assumption that Fortune may be hiding something, but he cannot conclude what it is, either. I believe I may have seen something like Fortune before, though… one of the multifarious strange beings I saw in that terrible dream, in which Skipé was my master, and lord over Athas, perhaps.
In other news, I have managed to obtain a form of rudimentary communication with the halfling, Jora. The others claim he can speak in their minds, but I have never heard anything. Perhaps the amount of other voices already there drown him out. Anyway, I developed a form of signing language with which to converse with him, and have developed a complex and well-thought-out lexicon. Skipé, alas, cannot use it, as his claws are too ungainly.
Besides these occurrences, I have obtained a journal, of sorts, in the Tyrian marketplace. It is what this report is inscribed upon. I believe, now, I will return to sleep… but with one eye open, maybe.

-Deovan Dzantulos

A New Job Offer Appears!

At Kled the party was greeted by Constable Kraine who was pleased to see the group again. Unfortunately neither Kraine or J’elle had seen or heard from Sarta, worrisome news. With word of their intent to go to Tyr, Kraine happily arranged for the group to accompany one of the regular caravans leaving the mining town. He warned the group of the increasing problem with caravan raids and introduced the group to a mul warden who would also be protecting the caravan. True to Kraine’s word, the caravan was attacked by bandits riding landsharks. The party successfully fought off the attackers and made it successfully to Tyr.

Relieved to have finally reached Tyr, the group approached Rhea Khan’s business only to be confronted by the irate trader. Infuriated, the merchant accused the the group of tampering with the chest, stealing its contents, and even the murder of Sarta – who had never arrived in Tyr. The group denied all accusations, but Rhea Khan could not be convinced, especially with the absence of Sarta to speak on the group’s behalf.

Rebuffed, the group took care of their individual business before meeting back at the Golden Inix. There, a tall thri-kreen clad with excessive metal jewelry and flanked by two more brutish but similar looking thri-kreen bodyguards approached the group with a proposition. He introduced himself as Chi-tee, owner of the Hive Mind trading company and advised the group he had heard about their turn of luck with Rhea Khan and explained he was a business rival. He offered a substantial sum of money if the group would accept a job from him, but he would not reveal the details until the group accepted his offer.

After much debate, the group agreed and the nefarious thri-kreen laid out his plan. He informed the group that a certain customer, Drasko Ravavich, was due in four days to ship a chest full of liths to Raam as part of a transaction with Rhea Khan. Stealing the chest would be effective, but more preferable would be to quietly swap out the precious goods for a dummy and let the theft not be discovered until arrival. If the group could do this, Chi-tee promised greater rewards and future profitable ventures with his organization.

A Hero Falls


As the beast thrashes Lavitz’s already mangled body his eyes widen, exploding into a surge of power. Bright white flames pour from them and he screams in agony. A man once known for being hardened and a natural survivalist has become shackled by weakness. His spear planted still firm in his grasp, Lavitz attempts to escape death once more but can not find the strength to do so. He is struck once more, releasing him from not only from his pain but unlocking a power that was bound deep inside long ago. The exhausted limp body folds onto the sand, the Lavitz known and loved was gone. All that remained was his token, located at the butt of his lucky spear. The bronze gilded leaf appears to have drawn the power from Lavitz expanding it into a spiked ball shrouded in arcane ruins. With some careful observation of the ball, Setalle, Daeovan, and Nythok understand the it is a message reading “I have trusted this to a man I knew couldn’t snap this arcane seal until his own death. Take this token and a piece of the carriers body with you to a place of great arcane power and you shall see my face”

Death and Decisions

After resting, the party gathered to confront their prisoner. Rialta is a genasi, born with an air elemental’s soul, and it shows in the constant breeze that stirs the air where ever she happens to be.

The group demands information, about the assassins, about the Watchers. Despite her situation Rialta is condescending and dismissive – but she does not hold her tongue. She tells the group that she belongs to an order of assassins called the Obsidian Order, and after much badgering, she reveals to them her medallion – a piece of rough obsidian fashioned into a disc with a hole in the center – crude and yet also precisely shaped. She explains she has never personally met the Watchers, they contact her psionically and sent her on jobs – just like this one. She notes with interest that this was first time she was sent to work with a team to take out multiple targets – Rialta usually takes single targets. She admits she met the other assassins about a day north of the camp, guided there by the Watchers, and advised by the Watchers when the party was returning so as to prepare their ambush. Rialta warns the party that the Obsidian Order will not stop, even now they are watching, and when at last Jora and Lavitz kill the smug assassin woman, Shaqtir keenly feels the Watcher’s wrath.

Discussing the genasi’s pendant, the group realizes the other assassins likely had pendants as well. Returning to the scene of last night’s fight, they find the dead bodies already being consumed by a flock of kestrakels. The avian scavenger cluster around the bodies and circle in the sky and give the party much grief for disturbing their meals. Dodge, dashing, and swatting at the birds, the group recovers all the pendants. Only Jora is unmolested by the filthy scavengers, moving silently and unobtrusively, his mental aura coaxing the birds to ignore him as he retrieves some of the pendants.

Returning to the came, Nythok is met by Yvonne, who asks the dragonborn to help lead the ritual tonight as Krask is too weak. Nythok reacts angrily. He rebukes Yvonne, arguing that the ritual she and Krask has crafted is crude and dangerous. As a presever and a ritual caster, Nythok warns Yvonne that the power they are weilding is not coming from themselves – and until they know exactly where that power comes from, they are no better than defilers themselves. Yvonne and Nythok argue at length. When presented with the debate, the party eventually sides with Nythok. In the end they come to an agreement – Nythok, Krask and Yvonne spend the remainder of their promised week’s time studying and researching the restoration ritual. The rest of the party works clearing a field in the nearest restored area, preparing the earth for sowing grain.

A Difficult Dawn

Walking back towards the village, the Watchers ever present observing them. The party meets the ghost of Vrak-Chee at the outskirts of the ruined village. The spectre is outraged as he informs the party that a group of trespassers are in the village. He explains they have refused his test and have attacked his ghostly warriors, driving them away. The ghosts can reapparate in an hour or so after being ‘destroyed’ but it is clearly a fruitless battle as the intruders have already destroyed dozens of his warriors while rooting through the party’s campsite. Vrak-Chee is furious at the blatant disrespect to the site of the thri-kreen’s tragedy and asks the party to drive away the intruders. He sends along four of his remaining warriors to help them.

The party approaches the edge of the ruins less than stealthily, and in the darkness of the pre-dawn hours they see no sign of life amid the stones. Lavitz lights a spear and throws it closer. It’s flickering glow allows them to spot on archer, hiding on top of a rocky outcropping, but nothing more. After a couple of false starts, Lavitz charges in and grabs his spear to attack — four arrows scream out of the darkness. Two bite flesh, two dig into the sand past their intended target. Fem assassin

As the fight breaks out, the party struggles beneath a constant rain of arrows as they batter down the first archer and then assault the crumbling ruin of a small house. The Watchers at last take action, pouring their will onto Nythok, the dray’s resistance crumbles and he attacks his companions with his arcane powers before crumpling to the ground. Next they urge Lavitz to turn his spear on his allies, while invisible assassins appear out of the darkness nearby. Shaqtir confronts the assassin’s leader, who turns out to be more than he estimate. Summoning the desert winds, the strange woman flies away from the thri-kreen but he pursues. Annoyed, she pronounces him “more trouble than you’re worth!” and with a stunning blow to his head and chest, knocks the thri-kreen out cold.

The rest of the party fights on, falling to bone-shattering blows only to struggle up again as they come to each other’s aid. Only Zamru holds out well, dodging arrow after arrow and delivering sharp blows to any assassin standing his way. Nythok rises to his feet and with a surge of arcane rage, sends thoughts of anger and death to the female leader, and struck with fear of death greater than the fear of her masters, she surrenders. Wild with fear, the archers continue to fire on the group, but without their leader’s aid, they are eventually struck down by the exhausted party.

The sun rises on a bloodied but triumphant group as they trudge back to their camp with their captive.

Beneath a Watchful Eye

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Delivering the Goods

As the party approaches the city of Raam, they pass through fallow fields surrounding fortified estates. Mercenaries patrol the countryside against attacks from rival noble families, but as long as the adventurers remain on the road, the patrols pay them no mind. Soon, they arrive at the gates. They are stopped at the gates with a few other merchants with meager wagonloads of goods. The mansabdars inspect the kank while Sarta presents his papers to a bored looking templar. Nythok draws attention with his ever-present cantrips and a mansabdar demands to see his arcane license. Everything passes inspection and they are allowed to enter the city.

As they enter the Low Quarter, the buildings they pass are mostly desolate. Windows boarded up, beggers crouch in the doorways sleeping or crying out to passerbys. There are a few places near the gate, wayhouses competeing for the city’s meager visitors. One place, known by nothing else than it’s “Broken Sign” agrees to house the party at 2 shells per day per person, does not include food, the owner agrees to allow them to tether their kank behind the building.

For the rest of the evening, the party spends some time exploring the nearby city blocks. Zamru buys some broy – fermented kank nectar – and shares it with Lavitz. Setalle sets out to purchase more appropriate clothing for business. Shaqtir harasses the still-recovering Sarta while Nythok entertains himself with his cantrips, and Deovan goes to scope out the marketplace.

The so-called Great Market is less than impressive. A handful of scraggly stalls and wary eyed merchants hawking their goods. Mansadbars patrol the area, idle about talking, or escort templars briskly through the refuse-strewn streets. Returning to the Broken Sign, Deovan glimpses armed warriors fighting, dead bodies on the dusty cobblestones, the mansdbars ignore them, despite standing just a dozen feet away in the main street. Deovan hurries back and shares his observations with the party.

Next day, Sarta leads the party to find Imar’s warehouse. Lavitz and Shaqtir carry the chest while the rest stay alert for trouble. Sarta knows his way around as he confidently takes a shortcut through an alley with a high wall on oneside and a half-collapsed building on the other. As Zamru passes by the rubble of a collapsed building, an emaciated form lurches out at him. A filthy elf with a withered leg clad in rags stumbles into the street and clings to Zamru’s robes as he kneels in the dust. “Great one, spare a chit? A broken chit to buy a bit of fruit?” Zamru nudges the beggar away from him, but breaks off a chit and gives it to the elf.
“Badna bless you!” cries the beggar and he scurries back into his hole in the rubble.

Just before they reach the end of the alley, a hoarse voice calls out sharply.

“Stop right there!” A goliath moves to block the way the party just came while a powerful looking dray steps into the other end of the street. She is the one talking. A thri-kreen hops into view ontop of the ruined building next to them.

“Which one of you is the merchant Sarta?”

Lavitz barks back “What?” without hestiation while Setalle nudges Sarta before he can speak. Catching on quickly, Sarta stares dumbly at the dray while the rest of the party nods and indicates that the human warrior is their leader. Setalle encourages the usually not-so-eloquent Lavitz with psionic messages.

“Tell your guards to be at ease, while we could take what we want from you by force, we are not barbarians. Our leader would prefer that we negotiate an exchange. “

The dray explains that her leader knows what is in the chest and they want it. She offers 800 jade for them to hand over the chest to her instead of delivering it to Imar. As the negotiate drags, Nythok’s instinct tells him the dray female might be a Veiled Alliance agent. He tries to signal her secretively, but she does not catch his furtive glances. Nythok alerts Setalle, who more succesfully catches the dray’s attention and as their eyes meet, Setalle signals her and then relays a mental message.
Jamela pablo edit
The dray is surprised and she responds Are you a veiled one? Setalle confirmes and the dragonborn learns from her that Setalle and Nythok are also Veiled Alliance. The dray demonstrates she is both talented and clever as a rapid-fire telepathic discussion takes place she continues to argue with the stubbon Lavitz, insisting that he sell the chest to her rather than surrender it to Imar and the corrupt mansadbars.

From Setalle and Nythok, the dragonborn sorceress learns of the tampered contents of the chest and agrees to the possibility of a future exchange with the party – if their plans are successful. The dray gives them instructions on how to contact her in the future: find the goliath named Drum in the Ghost City outside Raam’s walls. He will contact her, Ankha, if the group should return as promised. With that, Ankha and her companions leave, and the party continues.

At Imar’s warehouse, the group gathers anxiously inside the cavernous space of the warehouse. Laborers move about goods while a tall and well-dressed elf counts off merchandise on a wax tablet. Greeting Sarta, he remarks the usually reliable caravan leader is late. Setalle snaps that they must hurry – and so they get to business. Imar opens the chest and carefully opens one silk bag. Seeing the top filled with grain, the merchant appears immensely pleased and promptly pays Sarta the due amount.

Relieved that their ruse has passed the test, the party quickly resupplies and leaves Raam without a moment’s delay. On the road, Sarta parts way with them, heading for Tyr while the party turns west towards Urik.

The Road to Raam

On the road to Raam a storm sweeps over the adventurers and their solitary kank. Wind howls and lightening flashes as irregular sheets of rain pelts them. Whipping eddies send swirls of dust and grit tears at their protective clothing.

The elemental maelstrom births strange things, and drawn to the presence of living things, a shardstorm vortex appears from the wind and dust in the midst of the trudging party. All around them, flickers of elemental motes hover and flare. Fire, obsidian, and pure cutting wind attack them.

The smallest elementals are weak and unstable, they dissipate quickly before Setalle’s arcane prowess. The rest of the group attack in unison and destroy the enraged shardstorm vortex. It loses cohesion and the dust and stones of its existence blow away in the howling winds of the storm.

The party trudges on as the storm howls around their heads, but there is no point in stopping. Shelter might be found amid the rocky roadside, but their supplies are limited and any delay is that much more time spend unprotected in the open desert.

Resupply at Urik

The group parted ways with Yvonne and Krask heading back to the ruined village of Ashrak. Setting their path north, the group decided to head for Urik to resupply before taking the road to Raam. Without Yvonne’s expert guidance, the party’s estimation of 5 days to Urik instead took them 7 days as they fumbled about the wastes.

Finally arriving in Urik, the adventurers quickly found lodgings and stabled their kanks. Reviewing their resources, they decide to sell one kank in order to purchase enough supplies for their expedition to Raam. Asking around garners them a bit of luck and they’re directed to the Slave Pens of Urik.

Rak’hat is an imposing looking thri-kreen with a dark brown carapace. The owner and manager of the Obsidian Stables, he holds the contract with the city of Urik for supplying mounts and draft beasts for work in the city’s obsidian mines. The party cleaned up their kank and sent the entrepreneurial Deovan in to negotiate. Rak’hat was impressed by the beast and willingly worked up to a price of 550 jade for the kank. The haggling done, the stable hands led away the insect mount and the clerk handed Deovan his payment.

After that, the group set out to purchase supplies. A number of small purchases were easily made in the market or with small business owners: minor repairs made, new clothing fitted, blades sharpened, unguents acquired. The majority of their supplies, food and water for all, were acquired from a mul caravan merchant named Samche. He negotiates narrowly, but the promise of future business lures him and he eventually relents and sells the group 49 days of supplies for 240 jade. He also advises the group that a caravan is currently hiring guards and is due to leave in 8 days, but the party declines to hire on.

Returning to the Doomed Gazelle Inn, the adventurers settle in for a well-earned rest.

Precious Contents

As the party approaches Hanlyn’s camp, they see two departing figures – one is that of the bodyguard Asa, riding away on a kank. The other is the id fiend accompanied by three shambling nightmare thralls. Satisfied, the party inspects the abandoned camp.

In the largest tent, they find an unexpected tenant. Bound and gagged, a battered dragonborn sits in the corner of Hanlyn’s tent. The party debates hotly whether to unbind the dray’s jaws to allow him to speak – or risk the breath of fire the race is known to have. Lavitz drags the prisoner outside the tent while Krask and Yvonne bring in Sarta to treat his wounds. Outside, the argument continues until Lavitz loses all patience and rips the binding from the dray’s muzzle.

The dragon takes a deep breath, and demands to know if the party is friend of foe. Setalle coolly advises the strange they are Hanlyn’s enemies. The dray’s face splits into a wide grin as he announces “You cannot imagine the good fortune you’ve bestowed upon yourselves by rescuing me!”

Introductions are exchanges and the strange dragonborn is known as Nythok, an employee of Sarta who was captured by Hanlyn as they fled across the desert. Nythok is arrogant and overbearing but seems well-intentioned. Sarta vouches for him and clearly has a history with the dragonborn. Sarta and Nythok explain to the party what they mostly already know – that Hanlyn attacked his caravan, killed most of his men, and he fled into the desert with the chest. Sarta, and by extension Nythok, had sworn not to open the chest. Sarta is most eager to deliver the chest to Raam and be done with this dangerous business. Nythok is most anxious to be paid, in large amounts, and the sooner the better. Sarta urges the party to help him, and offers to give the party the caravan’s share of the payment for a job done. He advises them that he needs to deliver the chest to Imar, a grain merchant in Raam who commissioned the special delivery.

Outside the tent, Yvonne waits anxiously for the party to attend to the chest. She demands that they open the chest to see its contents. The party is reluctant for several reasons – largely their agreement with Rhea’Khan and the foreseen difficulties of delivering an opened chest. The elemental priestess urges the party to open the chest, adamant that the contents of it are something that will help bring life to Athas. She declares every intention to take the contents of the chest if it is indeed something that could green Athas than to see it go to “the greed of men”. When the group seems the most resolved to not open the chest, she challenges them:

“Will you tell me that you choose not know what you have risked your lives for? Surely you would want to know that you faced all the dangers of the wastes and came this far for something worthy?”

After considerable debate and consideration, the party resolves to open the chest. A not-so-easy task as the chest is locked and magically warded. Nythok, having recovered quickly enough from his imprisonment, proves himself useful by magically pickpocketing the key from Sarta before helping Setalle and Deovan disrupt the arcane trap.

Unlocking the chest, the party finds 10 silk bags tied shut. Eagerly, Yvonne opens one and pours thick headed grains into her palm. The seeds radiate with primal power, some how enchanted to ensure fruition, likely to be resistant to harsh Athasian weather and perhaps even strong enough bring a little bit of life to dead soil. The group agrees with Yvonne – this is too precious a gift to waste on the greed of the Sorcerer Kings.

A plan is made accordingly. The grain is transferred to another sack. The silk bags are filled with sand and the mouth of each bag is filled with just enough grain to deceive any passing inspection. Yvonne agrees to take the seed back to the haunted thri-kreen village and wait for the party for one month while they deliver the dummy sacks in the restored chest. Returning to the tent, the group solemnly accepts Sarta’s offer and agrees to escort him and the chest the rest of the way to Raam…


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