January 15, 2018 at 8:31 pm #9084
We are back in action!
Session 24 – Return to the Sand!
Catching up with The Five and the White Palm Oasis
===Catching up with The Five===
First we catch up on what the The Five have been doing since the return of Sinbad
* Ahmed sought out the great desert party and camel races
* Araceli sought information on Sinrilli
* Menivis returned to the Mameluks and raided a troublesome tribe
* Salim bathed in sand for week
* And Tabari wrote up the history of the Lizardmen and submitted it. He also learned of the death of his daughter in childbirth
Amhed desired to return to his tribe to understand the visions provided by Jabal the Black. Upon return to his old oasis, he finds it much reduced in population. Those that remain are quiet and deferential to Amhed. Amhed seeks out Old Lady Anza, a bitter women that has never been kind to him. Surprisingly, she is respectful and deferential as well.
They learn that the water in the oasis is much diminished, and that the core of the tribe has moved to what is now known as the Oasis of the White Palm, about a six hour trek. This is location that long ago Kalem and Amhed were exploring and where Kalem received his permanent injury.
Heading to the Oasis of the White Palm, Amhed finds a thriving community. He also finds that his brother Kalem is in charge. In fact, he is a steward awaiting the return of Ahmed! Since Amhed left, the tribe had reluctantly moved here under Shiek Khalid dar Zahran, also known as the Patient. Things went well, but the Shiek unexpected died. Then, the Eldars surprised everyone by not appointing his son Nasir dar Zahran but instead selected Abbad the Unclean, a rather swarmy tanner.
A foulness permeated the the tribe under Abbad. Corruption and oppression reigned. Then Ahmed miraculously rushed in, wounded Abbad and forced him to flee, but just as quickly vanished! The Elders, cleared headed now, appointed Kalem steward in hopes of Ahmed’s return.
The Elders were about to proclaim Kalem Shiek but Ahmed has now returned. While everyone was treated as honored guests (although a few less honored than others), Ahmed cannot simple abdicate now – it would open things for the Elders.
Word has come that the old Oasis is under attack by the Desert Orcs. In a show of unity, Kalem sends off Ahmed, the rest of The Five, and 20 warriors. What they find is disaster.
The Five find themselves standing amidst the ruins of Ahmed’s old village. Most buildings are gutted by unforgiving fire. No item large than a cup is intact. The air is heaving with the smell of death and smoke.
But that is not all.
The worst is are the Impaled. Sharpened poles have been driven into the group around the central well. Some still moan, most are out from shock. Some are dead, likely from other abuse piled upon them.
One impaled, Old Lady Anza, moans in pain and delerium.
They do what they can (which is not much). They learn the following from Old Lady Anza before she dies.
* Attacked by Orcs – markings of a Crown of Fire – Menivis recognizes the description from his recent work
* They road in on black horses – they did not look right
* The lead Orc flew in on the back of a large winged beast
* The lead Orc was referred to as Akhmet the Impaler.
* There was another orc that slaughtered their best warrior and beheaded them.
* He demanded Jinn Blooded and Jinn Mages. After brutalizing a few people, they are identified. The Winged creature grabbed the mage, stabbed him with a stinger, and then dropped him from a great height. The one Jinn Blooded was trussed and thrown on back of a horse.
* The orcs then destroyed the villiage after rape, pilliage, and impaling.
The horror continued. Some of the impaled pulled themselves off their poles and shambled towards the group. Skeleteons alight with fire stumbled out of the burned out caravanasari. The warriors, already sicked by the sights, fleed in terror – leaving The Five to battle the horrors.
Finally over, the group gathered up the bodies for proper disposal.
Left is Death!February 2, 2018 at 10:28 pm #9136
Session 25 – Hunted by Landshark
Note: A piece of information I did not get in the prior write-up. So as the group readied to leave the Oasis of the White Palm this occured: During the rousing speeches and boosts, Tabari uses the opportunity to get a look at the sole obilisk in the oasis. What perplexes him after looking at the obolisk is that it is off limits to people, yet its dedicated to Martek, the grand Vizer to the Great Suleiman!
As The Five prepared to leave the ruin villiage, Araceli notices a bit of movement by a stone hut. Cautiously, they approach. Its a large stone jar. They find a man there who introduces himself as Khalid the Rich. He is a traveler from the cities and found himself caught in the maelstrom of the orc attack. After some back and forth, he joins the group on their revenge for orc blood.
It will take time to catch the orcs. They are not fully prepared for a journey, but they know the region and set off with a few spare horses.
After an evening and morning of travel, the group settles down to rest for the hottest part of the day. But it does not go well. The group is awoken by the death scream of a horse. They quickly discover a Landshark has found them. Large, armor for skin, always hungry, and swims through the sand. Not a good place to be. Menivus is nearly eaten by the beast. None were able to harm it. But it seemed satisfied with the two horses it ate once Araceli and Salim got the rest to a rocky groun.
Stone Circles of Al-Shirkuh
The group comes upon a Stone Circle. Tabari knows that these are mini-sacred sites. The stones are in the patter of a constellation that represents one of the gods. They eventually figure out it is the constellation of the Ruhk – that of Upuaut. The group leaves an offering of the saddles of the slain horses.
Going forward, the journey seems easier.
Beni the Pious
On Araceli’s watch, our old friend Beni comes to visit. Pretty much, its him saying that “the Cursed have “passed the test” and that “the Divine Pharaoh” looks forward to joining their Ka with his.” Then he says “He Who Comes in Peace” will be here soon. Somehow, they do not kill him, but they do notice there is something … off … with him.
Another destroed villiage, although the group is gaining on the orcs. However, a clan of Hyaendae have now claimed it as their own. A tense moment, but Ahmed is able to convince them to let the group take care of the dead.
The orcs split, with the majority headed south. A smaller group (about 30) continue on to the small oasis on the edge of control by Ahmed’s tribe. The orcs are still there. The group plots their attack.
Note: they are at 50% of supplies on their journey
Left is Death!March 30, 2018 at 11:55 am #9481
A bit behind on the logs. The next three postings are from Ahmed’s POV
Left is Death!March 30, 2018 at 11:58 am #9482
Session 26 – Battle of the Ravine Oasis
I hate sand orcs.
They had raided my tribe, slaughtering many people in the smaller, further-flung encampments and we were intent on bring them retribution and perhaps burning out the local infestation.
We ran into a band of the foul creatures in one of my tribe’s camps. Sadly, sand-storms swept in, making our battle more difficult, but through determination, skill, and divine providence, we were victorious. Menivis slew one of the great berserkers while I provided what aid I could to him to take down the other. Leaderless, the remaining vermin were cut down or fled into the desert. I took the berserker’s two great axes (and now they hand in the sheikh’s tent to remind our people that we can beat those abominations.)
In the aftermath of the battle, we found two survivors. One had been brutally tortured, tongue cut out and blinded. Salim knew him to be a Jinn Mage who the sand orcs despise greatly. We gathered two hundred gold dinar from the sand orc dead as well as a potion in a grey-green stone flask.
We could not leave the survivors to fend for themselves as we hunted the enemy further so we headed back to the oasis to deliver them to safety.
Along the way, we encountered a merchant named Masaharta who had enchanted tents and servants for whom death had not freed them from servitude. He offered to trade things for Araceli’s bow and I even toyed with the idea of having him take our survivors back to the oasis so we could venture out against the sand orcs once again. In the end, we did no trade with the merchant after being advised by Tabari that the man was using dark magics for his trade and the safety of our survivors was not assured.
Through hot nights and resting during the hotter days, we rationed our food and water and returned to the Oasis of the White Palms…
Left is Death!March 30, 2018 at 11:59 am #9483
Session 27 – Araceli’s Abduction!
Ahmed will be sheikh!
Those were the whispers I heard as I walked through the oasis. Even I began to believe it was my right path. I sat and spoke with Tabari for no better a vizier could I pick but the grey-muzzled Cakali was not interested in serving my little tribe. Nevertheless it was made clear that there was support for me and I could take the role if I so chose. Even speaking to my brother did not make things clearer. He deferred to me, somewhat bitter that as a cripple he wouldn’t even make it an interesting competition if we both vied for it.
In the middle of all this, Araceli came up missing. For a time, we thought she was simply taking a walk around the nearby desert. Certainly when we adventured together we remained aware of each other’s actions but in a protected, civilized place there was room for us to do what we needed to do without always checking in. As the day wore on though, it became more apparent something was wrong.
Khalid was sent into the unmarried women’s tent where Araceli had been staying and reported that all of her possessions were there except her bow, her cursed jar, and some clothing. There were no signs of struggle but she had left things behind that she would not if she were doing this by choice. Tabari walked in more openly and reported that he felt a residue of strong, ancient enchantment that tasted of a tinge of Hekatic magic.
We began to search the oasis, spreading the word. I suspected that the obelisk to Martek and the grounds deemed forbidden by the elders were the most logical place she might have gone and ended up trapped somehow. Salim starts searching the grounds by the obelisk and falls through the sand, a narrow pit concealed by a glamour of sand a top it. We ventured down the hole, battling swarms of spiders. Khalid was sharp enough to spot a secret door that led to other chambers. He finds a chamber with two doors adorned with large serpents with glowing red eyes. Hieroglyphs glorifying Iblis betrayed the nature of the small temple.
In the end, we found no trace of Araceli beneath the obelisk and left the words of the Elders stand: none should walk near the end of the oasis where the obelisk stands.
Left is Death!March 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm #9484
Session 28 – Battle of the Oliphant
Araceli is missing! We’ve turned the oasis upside-down to get a trace of where she’s gone, if she was taken, if she left of her own accord… There was no hint of dissatisfaction with our path. She seemed willing to fight along my side though if I were to take on the mantle of sheikh, I believe she would not have remained here.
Perhaps that was it. The need for leadership of my tribe is clear and I would be the only unifying person. If I turn the place of honor down it will be left to the Elders whose “wisdom” is often tainted by petty jealousies. Still, I go to seek their counsel and it appears my brother has been quietly campaigning with them. They appear united to support him as sheikh, a path I find myself surprisingly relieved by. My duty would have been to my people but the call of adventure is strong in my blood. I wished my brother wisdom, luck, and strength and promised to return as often as I could.
Given no other clues, we seek out Hala the Blind, the one person in the tribe blessed with the Sight. She is willing though “the truth is expensive.” Salim is fascinated by her use of sands to divine clues and truths, drawing patterns in the sand without touching it. We give her something which Araceli owned to help her focus on the missing elf.
“You will not be sheikh.”
I am not surprised but hearing it from her makes it more real.
“There is a strong connection between Araceli and Menivis and a darkness in the north.”
Symbols emerge from the sands: a powerful pyramid of the divine is tied to the darkness. A very bright star gem is tied to the pyramid as well as a Tomb of Brightness, Martek’s missing resting place.
“A dark bow moves north toward the pyramid.”
Araceli’s bow has healing powers but it also exacts a price in souls which is disturbing. That must be what is meant.
“The star gem is said to give the possessor the ability to find the tomb of Martek,” commented Tabari, his grey muzzle drawn in sobriety.
“War comes… Fire across the lands…”
Hala’s final truth-telling is all we need to know. Our time with my people is quickly coming to an end.
We seek out Iricu’s caravan pens and find Arad, companion originally of Menivis and Araceli the last time they delved into a major pyramid. They have been cursed with canoptic jars they stole from the pyramid and of which they cannot now rid themselves. Arad is a tracker and just the man we need to find Araceli. Arad remembers where the pyramid is.
We gather our things and Araceli’s. I make the necessary farewells, publicly acknowledging my brother as sheikh and bowing to him. With that we take to horseback.
“We ride!” I bellow for no apparent reason. There is polite clapping from some tribesmen nearby.
It does not take us long to find gigantic tracks of a massive beast plodding northward. From time to time, we find in the sand curse words, hastily but elegantly scribed. We suspect we know the general route: the Plains of Ash, the Jinn Lands of Old, the Oasis of Dates, the Desert of Ash, and Hekata with its own darkness and terrors.
When we catch up to the creature north of the Plains of Ash, I am truly amazed. It lumbers along, at least forty feet tall and looking like the oliphants of legend. It appears to have been mummified with wrappings and shrouds cloaking it from the sun. It’s tusks are massive and would easily demolish buildings in any city. On its back are heavy carpets and ropes supporting a cluster of tents. People lurk on a walkway that surrounds the tents and there are weapons of war mounted in each direction.
We plan and debate most of the day, trailing the beast which moves slowly but makes up for it with its long strides. Finally a plan emerges. Tabari and Salim will sit upon Salim’s feisty magical carpet, wait ahead of the beast for it to lumber up to them and then board it with ropes and grapnels. The ropes will be thrown down for Menivis and myself to climb up the beast. United, we will defeat the resistance and enter the tents to find Araceli, no doubt bound and gagged for her potent fists and sharper tongue.
As Suleiman, blessed is his name, is known to have said, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” We launched our plan at dusk so that we might not be seen as easily but would not be attempting this in the darkness of no moon. The magical carpet awaited too far away and the oliphant’s defenders began to send massive spears from a ballistae and more at them. Menivis attempted to climb the side of the oliphant but was nearly crushed beneath it’s massive feet. More undead creatures scrambled down from above to attack Menivis and myself but they were easily dispatched.
Slinging my blades, Flash and Sing, on my back, I scrambled up the side of the creature and took to the walk way, ready to cut down the villains who had kidnapped my friend…
Left is Death!March 30, 2018 at 2:57 pm #9487
High Priest of Hoenir & Champion of QedeshetApril 5, 2018 at 4:49 pm #9519
Below is Session 27 (Araceli Abducted) from Tabari’s POV
Ahmed will be sheik?
The idea surprised Tabari, but it had taken hold of parts of the tribe. At first it was just whispers as people went about their day. Now it was much louder, so that Ahmed felt comfortable asking Tabari to be his vizier.
“I am sorry my friend, but I cannot stay here. If it is time for me to settle in one place, then it would have to be the temple in Qarah. I have only been there briefly since I accepted Qedeshet’s calling.”
Tabari could tell Ahmed knew he wasn’t all that sorry and was thankful his friend did not press him on the subject. After a few minutes he felt he had to ask if Ahmed was sure of his decision. “Do you really want to be sheik? Of all of us you are the one that most interested in seeking out danger and evil. And the most interested in the glory that comes with defeating it. Will being sheik of this tribe be enough for you?”
This time Tabari was actually sorry. To be sheik was a great thing and it shouldn’t be his place to deny that.
“I can still go out and fight evil,” Ahmed started. “I would just be here…”
“Have either of you seen Araceli? She hasn’t been around the camp all day.” Tabari was glad for Salim’s interruption. “Khalid snuck into her tent and said all of her gear is there.”
The three made their way to her tent. Normally he would not have been permitted to enter. But a sharp word from the soon to be sheik had the guards step aside. Tabari looked through Araceli’s belongings hoping to find her bow and the canopic jar. His heart sank as he realized neither were in the tent.
He reach out to her bed and prayed. “Qedeshet show me,” he said, his fears growing with the hint of Hekatic magic being revealed.
Left is Death!April 20, 2018 at 5:15 pm #9548
Session 29 – Sandstorm of Doom!
Araceli is saved!
Just as I reached the top of the Olifant and clashed with a horde of abominable undead, our sweet Araceli burst free from her captors and rushed down to be rid of her moving prison. I quickly joined her and the others, moving fast to avoid the Olifant’s massive feet trying to crush us.
A malevolently conjured sand storm emerged as we struggled eastward to the Heart of Fire mountains. Soon we were escaping the Olifant and the battering effects of the sand storm. Minutes became hours as we struggled forward, half-blind. It was Tabari with his wisdom and magics that helped us to survive and reach the mountains. Without him we would have surely been lost to the sands.
Arad the Pathfinder led us to a cave at the edge of the mountains. We rushed in and had little time to breathe in our respite from the sand when the Olifant slammed into the mountainside, crushing the entrance and choking it shut with stone and debris. We were saved from the Pharoah’s minions who rode it but trapped in the mountain.
A luck would have it, the cave led deeper into the mountain. We took time to rest as we had been riding, fighting, and walking through stand storms for close to a day. Aside from hearing some skittering creatures, we were not accosted during our ‘night’ in the cave.
Continuing deeper we reached a cave passage riddled with holes. Fire-belching serpents crouched in the holes eager to roast and consume and creature, animal or man who might wander into the cave. With sword and spell, we were able to pass through them unharmed.
Now we stand at a dizzying chasm. A series of wooden platforms hang by iron chains from a ceiling lost to shadows. The chains are slimy and the platforms are small, round, and decayed. The platforms hang in line leading the way forward. We’ll need to marshall our wisdom, skills, and magics to traverse them safely…
Left is Death!April 24, 2018 at 11:04 am #9558
Session 30 – Lair of the Hydra!
From Menivis’ POV
Menivis lowered his bloody Kopesh and pulled his lips back in a satisfied snarl as the Hydras corpse slid beneath the steaming lava flow. It had been a near thing to best the beast who had dogged their path ever since they had been forced to take refugee in the cave system. Glancing behind him he saw Ahmed staggering back to his feet, as usual he was bleeding profusely from half a dozen rather ugly wounds. But Menivis was confident the hearty Dervish would recover to dance his blades again. His was lest confidant of the Sand Mage Salim. It was fortunate he had been quick enough to drag the unfortunate wizard from sinking into the lava flow when he tripped over his own two feet while trying to join the fight. The Cakali snorted derisively, Salim had been ridding that annoying carpet too long. His legs were getting weak and his ass fat. He could see that Tabari, that cunning ‘Old Wolf’ was already tending to the mage. A last glace around told him the Ice Elf Araceli was still with them as well, her rather disturbing, soul devouring bow had struck several key blows in the fight. A quick wave from her told him she was doing just fine.
From Ahmed’s Point of View
The heat. These mountains were born of fire and still lived in flames hotter than the sun outside. I’d rather be outside. Of course, outside has a massive mummified olifant and who knows how many other enraged dead. And it is sealed off with half a mountainside. No way but forward.
We had to depend once again on Sirocco, the cantankerous carpet Salim acquired along with an oasis full of grief. I’d been able to master my magics enough to fly myself but getting all of us across required some thought and still people were faced with noxious gases, geysers of searing mud, corrupted airs, and malevolent forces shrouding themselves within the vapors. Still, we passed that challenge and headed further into the mountain, never knowing if the caves were connected to any exit or if we were exploring our tomb.
The last chamber was quite large: scores of hands high and a moderate bow shot from end to end. The floor was snaked with rivers of molten rock giving the chamber a quite drujish light. Stones of hardier stuff survived amidst the rivers of rock, close enough together to suggest one could jump from one to the other to get across. Across the way, in the dimness was a section less dim and we placed our hopes on it being a way forward.
The air was particularly foul and we all felt choked of our breath even as we took in great, burning lungfuls.
“I tire of this,” groused Salim, no doubt missing his beloved sands. He rolled up his protesting carpet, grabbed a hold of Arad, our tracker, and shouted a few words of magic. There was nothing more than the sound of a hand clap and we could see the two of them standing on the far “shore” of this treacherous landscape. For some reason, Salim came closer to the edge and threw his hands in the air as he fell and slid toward the searing rock.
“I jump well,” said Menivis with practiced pronunciation. He proceeded to lift up our elderly Cakali on to his broad back and jog forward. From one stone to the next, he deftly avoided the flickering flames and kept good footing on the stones. Within moments he too was on the far shore, letting Tabari down and fishing Salim back from certain immolation.
“Hang on tight,” I said calmly. Araceli perched on my back leaving my swords free as I whispered the words that helped bring the magic forth. We rose from the ground and drifted over the first few rivers of glowing rock. Clouds of the hazy vapors were drifting across the area and they hid a most unpleasant surprise. A great beast many-headed monstrosity emerged from the cloud just as we neared it, snapping and striking with its many mouths of sharp teeth. It was quite large, blocking the way forward as it emerged from the largest flow of molten rock.
Araceli, quick thinking as always, dropped to the ground and backed up, her bow in her hand as if by magic and she began to pelt the monster with arrows. I must admit that it shook me and even my dervish magics left their comfortable place in my mind. I fell to the rock less gracefully than she and felt the sudden loss of my magical advantages in melee. As the elf maiden leapt from rock to rock, she continued to shoot at the beast as she neared the far shore.
Without my magics, I was ill-matched to the beast, taking wound after wound and lucky to hold on to my trademark swords. I was just not able to find its weakness though cutting off a head only served to have it grow another in its stead. It was brave Menivis who saved me and ended the monster. He joined me back among the fire and rock, hacking at the monster’s body until he clove it true. The beast gave out a dying shriek before collapsing and slowly being drawn back into the flow of molten stone.
Salim and I were in rough shape and were truly thankful for the healing ministrations of our friends and comrades. Sore and aching, we were prepared to continue the journey. A brief exploration of this side of the chamber found more bodies of those less fortunate than ourselves. My thoughts of the existence of lack thereof of an exit from the mountain plagued my thoughts. I did not notice where it came from but admired the beautiful horn carved from the antlers of a giant northern beast.
A key discovery about Hellfrost was made in our campaign last night. The heroes just finished battle with particularly nasty hydra. They discovered a True Relic in its lair.
Now we still like some of that olde-school randomness and pulled up the charts from the FC (with a caveat as GM I can nix things given the level of magic, etc). So they roll up a magic horn that grants two Edges, one of which is Steady Hands (the other being Nerves of Steel). The game is set in the Land of Fire with one PC being an Hearth Elf archer (Jo). So another player (Mark D) thought it would be cool to have it be from the North. So it made sense it would be a Saxa hunting horn.
In other words, a Saxaphone…
In game, the Hunting Horn of Toli
Left is Death!
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