Reckless Breakage

Breaking New Ground

The party has assembled to meet Rea’Khan, a prominent half-elf trader located in Tyr. Rea’Khan once led some of the largest caravans in and out of Tyr. There is no road in Athas Rea’Khan has not traveled and he knows every trick in the trade in getting his cargo from point A to point B. Age has caught up to the half-elf and he has decided to “settle down” in the city of Tyr. His intelligence and wisdom has made him one of the toughest bargainers in the territory. People would be surprised with the number of people who owes Rea’Khan a “favor” and most people do not want to know how people are indebted to Rea’Khan. Considered to be “fairly honest”, Rea’Khan is approachable by all, but his specialty is handling trades that require an element of danger or annonimity.

Word is out that Rea’Khan is looking for young muscle. No more is known. Applicants must apply directly to his large but modest shop in the caravan district.

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The First Few Steps

The party cautiously approaches Rea’Khan’s business “More for Less” cautiously. The large but modest store in the caravan district is staffed by various young men (elves, half-elves, humans). The young man in charge is Sweepy, a 17 year old half-elf, who inquires if the party is interested in anything in particular. The party admits that they interested in the task Rea’Khan has to offer. Sweepy goes upstairs to confer with Rea’Khan while the party waits. Eventually everybody is led upstairs to a large office / storeroom / living quarters in which they see Rea’Khan sitting behind a desk cluttered with paperwork. The party cautiously watches the only entrance upstairs.

Rea’Khan tries to learn a little about each character with modest success. Soon everybody gets down to business and Rea’Khan informs the party that he has lost track of one of his caravans. Sarta, a male human, has been hired to transport 4 chests from Tyr to Raam. The chests are covered in elven runes and wrapped in orange cloth. Each chest weighs around 100 pounds and is approximately 2 feet by 1 foot by 1 foot. The contents of the chests is none of the party’s business – the chest are magical in nature and are locked with primal magic. The chest’s are not to be opened.

Rea’Khan is genuinely concerned about Sarta health and safety, but more concerned in the cargo and the contract he has agreed to with the people in Raam. The deal is 200 gp to determine what has happened to Sarta and the cargo. If Sarta is in need of assistance the party shall render aid. If the party finds Sarta and he can explain what the delay is to reach Silver Springs and he has the means of accomplishing his delivery to Raam, the party can use their discretion and let him continue. If not, the party is to “escort” Sarta and the cargo back to Tyr immediately. Force, if needed, can be used against Sarta. The party will be paid 200 gp if the cargo is brought back to Tyr safely and an additional 200 gp will be paid if Sarta is brought back to Rea’Khan alive. Rea’Khan gives each member 15 survival day rations for the trip and “LENDS” the party four beasts of burden to help them determine what has happened to Sarta. Sweepy is to gather the livestock and travel with the party as a means to return the livestock. Sweepy is mildly surprised but is anxious to travel with the group.

Before leaving Tyr the party locates The Psurlon’s Den and cautiously enters in order to see if they can ascertain any information concerning Sarta. Entering the bar is small groups they talk to various people (Landra the arm-wrestler, Deserea the waitress, Gar the bartender, “Toak” the beggar, Karl the drunk, and Ellendissia the juggler). Eventually the party realizes that all of these people work for the owner and manager of the Psurlon’s Den, Jalob. Jalob wishes to talk to the party in the back room (office $ storage) along with a few key employees in case things turn ugly. The party learns that Jalob is a very knowledgeable man on what is going on in Tyr. He knows Rea’Khan and believes that he is holding something back from the party. This fact is not surprising to Jalob because he understands that Rea’Khan works in the shadows and there are lots of instances he can not be forthcoming. Rea’Khan is not a murderer or a thief, but he probably knows a few. He certainly has been hired by many questionable characters. Rea’Khan is not a man to be taken lightly.

Unfortunately Jalob does not know any information about Sarta’s whereabouts. Jalob is willing to vouch for Sarta. “He is a fine man and an excellent caravaan leader.” Jalob does tell the party that Sarta has girlfriend\fiance’ named J’Elle who lives in neighboring Kled. If anyone knows where Sarta is – J’Elle would be the one to talk to.

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Visiting Kled

The group travels to Kled, encountering only a minor delay when they stumble across a ruined caravan being looted by mutated ssurans. The caravan, and it’s corpses, are thankfully not those of Sarta and his wagons.

Kled’s authority are grateful for the news, but have little information to offer. They direct the part to find J’Elle in the shoddy hovels of the residential area, but the party isn’t the first to come to Kled looking for Sarta…

A gang of unknown thugs confront the part in the dirty streets before they can find J’Elle’s house. Uneasy words are exchanged as the leader of the gang gauges the party’s intentions and the party tries to leverage information about Sarta’s whereabouts. The nameless leader isn’t interested in sharing his motives and a fight quickly breaks out. Disadvantaged but determined, the party drives the thugs back until the ruthless leader calls a retreat. Without remorse the leader and his dog leaves behind several groaning and unconscious followers in the hands of the party.

Do these thugs, so easily expendable by their defiling leader, actually know anything or are they just hired fists? There is still J’Elle to find, will she have any answers to these strange occurrences?

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Tale of Two Interviews

As the party catches it breath and their recent adversary scatter a booming voice echoes down the narrow street. “What is going on here?” bellows a particular hard looking dwarf with three weapon bearing companions. The party recognizes Constable Kraine from their earlier visit in which they reported the wrecked caravan 1 day outside of Kled. Kraine and his deputies insist that three members of the party be brought to the strong-house for questioning along with the three unconscious attackers.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to talk to Kraine before the party reaches the interrogation room, Setalle, Krask, and Shaqtir are able to get a few good words about their party and how they were attacked in the street. Setalle explains that they had left the constable’s office and started walking down the street and found a large band of men surrounding some houses in the center of Kled. The party was confronted and when they refused to give ground a fight broke out. A fight in which nobody was killed and the rest of the party fled. The suggestion was made that each of the unconscious ruffians be interrogated alone soon after they awoke. Kraine, seeing an opportunity for some support, agrees to the plan but states that the party can threaten by not touch any of the unconscious detainees – (having men hurt under Kraine’s care would not be accepted by the people of Kled.

The first detainee to awaken was Derka – “My friends and I were attacked by these fiends. We just came to Kled and we are looking for work in the mines.” The party members and the wise constable detects untruths. After being accused of being a liar and being confronted with the fact that Setalle is conducting the interrogation, Derka reveals that the leader of the party is Hanlyn and his stupid dog Claw. Not much more is revealed until the second detainee awakes.

The party arranges Derka to be taken out of the room before Zanfear is sat down in front of Setalle. "Your friends have ratted you out. “We know that Hanlyn is leading your party and he issued the command to attack,” stated Setalle. Zanfear tries a miserable lie in that his friends were attacked from out of nowhere and that they had just arrived in Kled looking for work as caravan escorts. The obvious lie fails miserably and Setalle threatens harm if Zanfear doesn’t disclose some more information. Zanfear states that they are looking for a man named Sarta and they suspected that he may be heading to Klen to reunite with J’Elle. After being accused of attacking caravans traveling between Tyre and Kled, the constable and party learn that Hanlyn and crew have nothing to do with the recent transportation problems. They approached Kled from the SE and crossed the dessert to get to Kled.

Soon Zanfear was led out of the room and the third detainee, Andarr, was sat down in front of the party and the Constable. Setalle quickly refutes Andarr’s feeble ‘Who me?’ attempt to lie his way out of trouble and make another skillful threat to Andarr’s well-being. Andarr tells everybody that his is part of a very large party that attacked Sarta’s caravan one day west of Silver Springs. Both Sarta’s caravan and the attacking party fought and took losses when a silt storm struck the area, allowing Sarta, a couple of his men, and his cargo to escape out in the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes. After a couple day pursuit the ambushers loose the elusive Sarta and decide to split forces Hanlyn will travel to Kled and Penaire, co-leader of the party, will try to pick up Sarta’s trail. The group is to reunite at the meeting site one day west of Silver Springs. All of the party were hired by Penaire and Hanlyn in Raam. All members were aware that they would be attacking a caravan lead by Sarta and the merchandise would be delivered to Raam. Having determined who is to blame for the battle in the streets of Kled, Constable Kraine allows our adventurers to go free and decides to hold the detainees four day in order to see if the men are wanted in nearby Tyre and give the party a head-start. Fighting in the town of Kled is the only crime the men are guilty of. Kraine knows that attempts to punish all crimes outside of his jurisdiction will just lead to trouble.

Lavitz, Uchoo-Loo, and Zamru knock on the door of the ramshackle hovel belonging to J’elle. The shy female believes at first that they are more of the thugs that have been harassing her and hanging around the streets in front of her hovel. After persuading her of their good intentions, J’elle invites them inside. J’elle is obviously in love with Sarta and they have considered getting married. As their relationship has gotten stronger Sarta’s trips have gotten shorter and shorter with more and more trips between Kled and Tyr. Rea’Khan had planned this shipment for months and Sarta has been fairly compensated for the trip.

J’elle reveals she is an ex-slave, as is Sara. now terribly worried about Sarta and was suspecting the worse since “those bad men” were watching her home. She has no idea where Sarta is but she suggests the party go to Silver Springs where Sarta is known fairly well. J’elle is a tailor and medic and she gives them a sample of her needlework and three prepped bandages as a thank you for the group’s efforts.

After finishing their interview, Lavitz, Uchoo-loo, and Zamru wander over to the local tavern. Being outsiders, the locals are less friendly and the bar brawl ends almost as soon as it starts. Lavitz drunkenly throws some gold pieces at the irate tavernkeep, who counts his profits for the day done and leaves to avoid further confrontation with the violent adventurers.

Once out of the bar, the party determines to rest for the night and recover from the battle in the street and sober up from the little skirmish in the bar. Lavitz insists that he has purchased the bar for 5 gold pieces, but the party convinces him his skills are needed in the desert. The party decides on a forced march which will allow them to cross the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes if they are not detained. The tactic draws down double rations and they make good time the first of two days.

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Baazrags and Bandits

After a grueling march across the sands, the group reaches Hanlyn’s camp. Amid the rocks and silt, the tents are strangely unattended and silent except for some slight movements. The group’s attempt to slip into the campsite stealthily fail when they draw the attention of a scavenging baazrag breeder. With a gruff sound she summons the attention of the rest of the pack, the baazrags attack. Only after Shaqtir leaps over one of the rocks does the group realize they’re being watched by a handful of bandits left behind by Hanlyn to ensure his pursuers fall into his nasty reptilian trap. The bandits harass the group with a few arrows, but when the group starts striking back, one goes down under Zamru’s fists and the others flee.
Jhakar

The baazrags are true athasian scavangers – tough and nasty. They knock down several of the party members and gnaw on them, but the group eventually downs the female breeder and with the smaller males and adolescents dead or driven away they are left with a lot of questions.

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Silver Spring

The group reaches Silver Spring and spends the day combing it’s residents for information about Hanlyn and Sarta. Little luck is to be hand until eventually the group is pointed in the direction of a nomadic elemental priestess currently camping half a day’s travel beyond Silver Spring’s walls. A short hike later and the group meets with Yvonne Siltsinger. Yvonne acknowledges seeing Hanlyn’s group chasing Sarta through the desert and agrees to lead the party there in exchange for a promise of labor: the party must aid her for 1 week with planting new life in the wasteland. The party agrees.

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Siltsinger Leads the Way

At dawn the group meets Yvonne Siltsinger outside of Silver Spring and they start across the desert without much ceremony. Yvonne sets a brisk, but not grueling, pace across the wastes and a day’s travel goes by with only minor irritations.

Marching leaves little time for talking, and Yvonne even rebukes Lavitz for wasting his breath talking instead of walking. Deovan notices the priestess is leading them into a very large defiled area and the group becomes concerned. Deovan can tell the defiled land was ruined at least a year or more ago, so there is little worry of immediate danger from such a powerful defiler – but Krask’s concern is about the creatures affected by the corrupted landscape. Strange tracks litter the ground and suggest this defiled land is by no means desolate of life.

Yvonne is not much of a conversationalist, but at the rare break to eat and sip water, Setalle strikes up a conversation with the woman. Yvonne admits that she is leading them straight through the defiled area because circling around would take too long.

Pushing ever onwards, the party stumbles upon a silt pit and is attacked by swarms of z’tal lizards – noxious rat-sized reptiles. Tormented by the defiled wasteland, the malodorous lizards burrow out of the silt and attack the larger humanoids with mindless rage. The party fends them off stolidly. Yvonne gives them little rest though before pressing forward yet again.

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The Vision of V'rak Chee

The wasteland around the party is completely defiled as they jog deeper into the desert. Yvonne halts only to help the group protect themselves against the unnatural effects of the lifeless landscape, sharing some small measure of her power to ward off the worst of it’s maddening nothingness. Then, she urges the group to greater speed than before and, upon determined questioning, she reveals that soon the group will pass through the epicenter of the defiled zone.

Her words show true when the ruins of a small village crest the horizon. Yvonne is visibly anxious as she leads them past the crumbling walls to a sturdy stone well that seems to be the only thing still standing in this decimated town. Agitated, the party members are bothered by Yvonne’s reluctance to explain more about the defiled area, look around warily for danger and are hesitant to approach the well themselves.

Krask is vigilant for signs of warped monsters or tormented creatures, and knowing that this village lay at the center of such a vast defiled zone he summons his will and calls out to the spirits so that they might help him. The first words barely leave his mouth when Yvonne turns, alarmed, and shouts “No! Stop! Don’t—”

But her objections are too late. Krask staggers as not one, but hundreds of spirits answer his call. Before the party can move, the empty ruins around them are suddenly populated with scores of translucent thri-kreen. Their manifestations appear withered, tormented, and grief-stricken. One steps forward, obviously the leader, and demands to know why Yvonne has brought these trespassers here. At her awkward excuses and the group’s questioning, the ghostly thri-kreen reveals what Yvonne has not: that they may not pass through this village, nor use its well, without first paying a price. The group much choose: pay the price or fight their way through.

For several anxious minutes the adventurers debate their options hotly. They demand details from Yvonne and V’rak Chee – the spectral thri-kreen leader – and consider which outcome might be the least costly. Yvonne admits she had hoped to sneak the party past the ghosts but that she herself has already faced V’rak Chee’s toll and survived. V’rak Chee advises them that the price is not negotiable, it cannot be paid for more or less than what it is.

Lavitz volunteers first, followed by Shaqtir. Setalle coaxes Deovan forwards, then Zamru, Krask, and Setalle all step forward. As each approach, the thri-kreen specter places his insubstantial claws on their shoulders and one by one the adventurers are convulsed with pain as they fall unconscious to the ground. As each one falls, Krask attends to them until his turn comes and he too is stricken.

Although the vision lasts only moments, it is vivid in the passage of time. Days creep by without change in the silt, sand, and sun, and a lone thri-kreen trudges through the desert, pausing occasionally to lean against his staff. At last, V’rak Chee stumbles to his knees by a tiny pool – an oasis brackened by silt. Burying his claws into the mud, he prays to the elemental spirits. With great endurance he waits, time passes before the mud bubbles, silt swirls as it flees the wet ground and the moisture becomes a tiny swirling eddy of purest blue water. An amorphous shape rises and looks up at the insect. Exhausted but exultant, the thri-kreen nomad earnestly tenders his offer. The burbling elemental agrees, and before the young warrior can express his gratitude, the elemental bursts and dissolves back into the sand.

V’rak Chee stands, and around him the aspect of time flits and flutters. More thri-kreen arrive, buildings rise from the sands; stone and stucco are raised by their many strong clawed arms. The mud at V’rak’s feet sinks down, down into a dark hole and then is encircled lovingly in a protective stone shell. Beautiful, life-giving water is drawn from the well’s depth and the thriving thri-kreen village celebrates the wisdom of their founder and the anniversary of their village and give humble thanks to the elemental spirit that sustains them.

Too soon a shadow falls across the tiny village. The creature is dark and terrible, a massive beast of scales and leathery wings. His weight cracks the cobblestones and his claws rend the earth beneath them.

SUCH BUSY LITTLE INSECTS YOU HAVE BEENAND YET I DON’T RECALL GRANTING BUGS PERMISSION TO BUILD A NEW TOWN WITHIN OUR DOMAIN…” the Dragon of Tyr’s eyes roll indulgently as he rumbles his ultimatum. “STILL, I AM IN A FORGIVING MOOD. PRESENT TO US A SUFFICIENT OFFERING AND YOUR SHABBY HOVELS MAY CONTINUE TO EXIST.”

V’rak Chee stands at the fore-front, amid a vanguard of his best warriors. Raising his gythka defiantly, the thri-kreen shouts his challenge.

“You hold no domain here! Ash’rak is free from your fear and tyranny and we will not tolerate demands from defilers. We will give you nothing!”

The saurian beast rolls his eyes again and a terrible sound rises from his massive chest. Without words, without incantations or gestures, the draconic jaws part and the blackened maw crackles with energy. The first screams fill the air as the defiling begins. Life is ripped from the living, it exhumes itself from existance. Wretchedly, the thri-kreen wither and fall in ever expanding waves. The warriors shriek they clatter into dust, the breeders and the young scream only briefly before they too shrivel into piles of black cinders. The blackness spreads, and spreads, ever outwards until the dragon’s maws gently close.

THAT WAS A FOOLISH CHOICE…” the winged horror advises the emptiness. Creaking membranes stir up cyclones of black silt and the Dragon of Tyr wings away from the empty village, uncaring of the massacre he has wrought.

Br 76

When the adventurers rouse themselves, staggering back to their feet aching and exhausted, the thri-kreen warriors withdraw. All keep their distance except the wretched looking V’rak Chee.

“I am bound forever to this place, but it must never be forgotten what that beast did here. I hope you carry these memories across Athas and warn others of the Dragon of Tyr. For sharing my pain, you may partake of this well. Despite the defiling, the noble elemental upholds his pact: the water here is pure and fresh.”

So the party rests and fills their waterskins. Setalle talks a bit with V’rak, learning that the thri-kreen’s sons were sworn to be elemental priests in his oath to the water elemental, and that this well will always be open to them should they ever return to this place.

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Sibling Rivalry
A mini session with Setalle and Krusk

Sibling Rivalry

The sun beat down on the party as they left behind the haunted thri-kreen village. Yvonne’s promises of finding Hanlyn in one day quickly fell flat as the party’s journey stretched out to two, three, five, seven days trudging through the wasteland. Moods were on edge, tensions were thick, squabbling broke out at the slightest provocations.

Accusations were being hurled when Krask and Setalle noticed a ominous silohuette on the red sky horizon as the wind was just begining to rise. The Dragon was far away yet, but approaching the group. Setalle quickly broke up the fighting and Krask steered the group to a cluster of broken rocks. Everyone quickly sought hiding places amid the rocks when a challenging voice rang out across the wind. Krask and Setalle turn to face the owner.

“Setalle Anaan! I am here to arrest you for your crimes against Nibenay!”

A woman, remarkable in her similarity to Setalle, sat astride a crodlu. She is Seneste Anaan, Setalle’s younger sister and also a templar for Nibenay. At her side, standing in the sand yet almost as tall as the crodlu, a hulking half-giant warrior.

Setalle challenges her sister for proof, and her sister responds – with the severed head of Setalle’s contact from Tyr. Terror and hopeless threaten to overwhelm Krash and Setalle, but Setalle remains calm – and suddenly she disappears.

Krask is left alone to fight against an angered Seneste. Imperiously she commands her bodyguard to attack, and alone Krask fights bravely but he is no match for the half giant ex-gladiator. Then, before the brute can strike his final blow, the dread wings of the Dragon fill the sky…

Setalle jerks awake, and moments later so does Krask. Trembling and sweating, they leap to their feet, disoriented and confused. The nightmare is gone. The rocks still stand, but the memory comes flooding back – the party left the thri-kreen village, nightfall came and they stopped to rest – only a day has passed. Before the relief can wash over them an angry, rattling hiss alarms Krask and he spins about. A scaly reptile slides off the nearest rock and attacks.

The Id fiend is a treacherous beast, but not one for fighting its own battles. Setalle and Krask quickly subdue the creature until it begs for its life – cunningly it offers its services if the two will spare its life. Setalla is suspicious, she knows these beasts are duplicitous and murderous, but she agrees. It may be hazardous to make alliances with the nightmare beasts, but the risk might be worth the advantage if they can use the Id fiend against Hanlyn’s forces.

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Hanlyn's Confrontation

Krask and Setalle wake the group and prepare to move on. Yvonne’s words show true when signs of all kinds announce a sizable force nearby. Cautiously the party scouts the enemy’s encampment.

In the rocky wasteland, a plain stretches out below the rise the party gathered on. Three ancient sand-worn monoliths, their details scoured to unrecognizable shapes, stood on the bank of a dry riverbed. Four large tents pitched among them. Nearby two kanks idle, tied to a tether line. Guards patrol vigilantly against the desert threats. The ancient river, once deep and strong, is long gone and it’s bed now home to silt pools and sandstone caves. Thinking to outflank the camp, the party cleverly circles around and descends into the riverbed. Approaching the camp invisibly, their progress is halted by a commanding voice echoing against the sandstone embankments.

“Sarta, enough of this charade! Surrender the chest and I’ll allow you to leave unharmed… If I’m forced to send my men in after you, I won’t be responsible for what happens!”

In the curve of the dead river, Hanlyn peers down at the sandstone caves riddling the far side. Between him and Sarta’s refuge stand thugs, archers, ex-gladiators, and of course his faithful dog Claw. Arrows are trained on the largest hole, men with clubs and bone swords wait anxiously, sweating in the heat of the sun.

The party moves quickly. They fall back and climb the embankment. At the right moment, from the top of the ledge, the group launched a surprise attack on the distracted gang. The archers fall almost instantly, clearing the way to Hanlyn. Vaulting down the ledges, the brawlers close the remaining distance and the dry river basin becomes an impromptu gladiatorial pit as a grand melee ensues.

Two thugs rushed the sandstone cave’s entrance the moment they realized they were being ambushed. Hanlyn’s bodyguard, the ex-gladiator mul Asa, struggles to protect his employer, but Hanlyn is too quickly surrounded. As he sees his men fall to the sand one by one and realizes neither Claw or Asa will be able to save him – Hanlyn shouts his defiance to his attackers.

“You think you’ve won? You don’t know! You haven’t won anything!”

locked chestWith grim and perhaps crazed determination, the defiler threw himself from the sandstone ledge, cracking his skull on the rocks below. Setalle sends her thoughts to Asa – “Your boss is dead, lay down your weapons and walk away.” Asa accepts mutely, jogging away down the dry river bed. Claw yelps as he dies, and soon the remaining thugs are bleeding their life out into the silt. Across the riverbed, two of Hanlyn’s men appear dragging a large chest. The party kills them quickly and recovers the chest. They find a badly beaten Sarta unconscious in the back of the sandstone cave.

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