After having just survived the Mamuke’s attack on our party we decided to rest while we hoped to heal the ailing camels, allowing us to make quicker travel through this harsh desert. We hadn’t been resting long when Kiedro shouts, “Do you see it?” as he is pointing to an outcropping of trees in the distance. Longing to sate our thirst, we decide to make our way to the oasis, hoping that it is not just an image of the desert. Kiedro has the foresight to grab our gear which makes me think, “Maybe this one isn’t a complete fool!” Once we get to the oasis we realize that this is one of the deserts challenges and we have to decide how best to approach it.
Day 4 – The Oasis
Spenser is the first of us to decide, surrendering himself to the desert which in turn rewards him with enough water to quench his thirst, but leaving him feeling slightly off-tilt. Thorus, being the cerebral one, decides to test the water for cleanliness and to use his clear water solution. While he is waiting for the results the others don’t have that much patience. Lorthandriel and (from what I’ve gathered thus far in our journeys, his male companion) Lecarde chose to ignore this clear oasis water on the path to true sustenance, believing this to be more than meets the eye. As for myself, I surrendered to the desert, believing that appeasing the spirit would be a boon. I was so blessed in the fact that I was also able to gather some fresh water to soothe the burning in my throat. As Spenser before me though, I too felt this take something away from me and felt the weight of the desert settle even more upon my shoulders. Grudash…poor Grudash, this fine fellow took to filling his waterskin and gathering a big gulp of crystal blue, ice-cold water only to have the desert play his mind for a fool. He spits out a mouthful of sand and I can’t help but laugh to myself. Now, no adventure can be serious ALL the time, and this is where our minds cleared with the comedy of Kiedro. Our big Barbarian friend decides that he doesn’t want a drink, he wants the whole damn thing! He comes charging up to the oasis and goes flying into the air with all intent to land in the pool of water, instead he makes a big sand angel when the mirage vanishes before his eyes and he ends up face down in the unwelcoming sands.
After having passed the challenge of the desert, whether worse for the wear or not, we set up camp to rest until nightfall. Throughout the day the camels are attended to while those of us unskilled in the healing powers of nature lie around to try and recover a bit. While we are resting, Spenser looks over to me and calmly states, “Fenrir, do not be alarmed but there is a lizard on your shoulder.” I slowly crane my neck to see out of the corner of my eye a gecko staring at me, but this is no ordinary gecko! No my friends, this gecko appears to be golden with eyes of Ruby…a fetching sum if I can capture the little guy I must say! I slowly (cause I’m so stealthy…more on that later!) reach up to grab the gecko. It appears that I had snatched him but POOF! he appears on top of my head. Now, for the strangest part of my tale yet, he speaks to us! We learn from speaking with him that his name is Francis and he lives with his auntie and uncle, but often roams the desert looking for bugs and coins. Lorthandriel, being so always astute, takes particular notice of this last fact. When Francis darts over to his hand, Lorthandriel pulls a gold coin from his pocket and flips it, this entrances Francis who cannot look at anything but the coin now. Lorthandriel then uses his diplomacy skills to glean more information from Francis. We learn that Francis no longer lives with his auntie and uncle because his cousins are mean and have taken his stash of gold coins, refusing to return them. Francis also looks at the map and reveals to us that the symbol of the mother with child is for the Altar of the Mother, a place of worship and sanctuary in times past. He warns us that this place may now be riddled with danger and under attack. Before parting, Francis asks us to help him recover his stash of gold coins and if successful, he will share them with us. He informs us that his uncles name is Charlie, so perhaps we can parlay and get the coins back in a peaceful manner.
At this time, nightfall is drawing nigh, and we realize that our allies have been unsuccessful in restoring the camels to health. While this doesn’t help us in our travels, we realize the passing of the camels is also fortuitous to us as we are able to take the meat from their bones and the water and fat from their humps, giving us food and water for the travels awaiting us. Shortly after undertaking our journey once more there comes from the distance, in all directions, the faint sound of laughter. We all kind of glance around to make sure we aren’t going crazy but the others have heard it too…and hear it coming closer and closer. It is then we see them, the glowing yellow eyes piercing the darkness of night. Hyenas, the emissary of the desert. “Have you not challenged us enough already desert spirit? You send your emissaries to finish the job but that will not work!” I shout into the night, hoping to alert the spirit that we are not a band of souls to be hers.
Day 5 – The Laughter Medicine
As the hyenas encircle us, we realize that we must think quickly on how best to handle the situation, without much time to consult the group we all must make our own decision. Lecarde, that sniveling bitch, he transformed into a desert animal and ran away…“damn coward!” I think, but notice that a few of the blathering fools follow him. I think that perhaps I judged him too soon! Lorthandriel, he’s full of hot air so he appears to bluff the simple-minded dogs into thinking we are a much larger group and not the easy prey they seek. He succeeds in scaring another pack of the hyenas off. As I see Lecarde and Lorthandriel scare off a few of the dogs, I still think that there are just too many and there must be another way to best them. As I devise my plan, Thorus begins conjuring a towering, blazing inferno to scare the dogs away but as with many things…fails miserably! “I’ll have to pick up his slack” I say out loud, hearing a groan leave his lips…he realizes. While Thorus is standing there, looking defeated, Kiedro reaches into the sack Thorus carries and pulls out a giant meat-hook, a six foot chain, and a 5 lb. slab of meat and shouts, “Hope I catch me a big one!” He sends the hook into the darkness and yanks it back when he feels a nibble. He manages to pull a couple dogs in by the hook, but realizes the other 5 or 6 hyenas are in close pursuit. Kiedro makes quick work of all 8 hyenas, but is noticeably worse off. Grudash has a bit more luck with this challenge than the oasis and intimidates a pack of them into thinking they can find easier prey elsewhere. Lastly, Spenser and I once more offer ourselves to the desert, walking out into the night with 10 lb. of meat between us, throwing it to the remaining hyenas. They appear to be satisfied with this offering and leave our party to continue traveling through the night. While Spenser and I managed to save our group from the full assault of the pack, we are somehow more inflicted by the desert than the rest of our party who seem to actually prosper slightly. “How does the desert weigh so heavily on us” I ponder.
We haven’t made much progress during our 5th night as butchering the camels and the hyena attack hindered our movement. As the sun rises and we begin setting up camp, a few of the keener members in our party notice off in the distance, standing tall above the sands is a wall…this has to be Rahadun they exclaim! Even taller than the wall, contrasting starkly with the blue sky is an ominous-looking tower. We can see the spikes jutting out from sides of the onyx structure giving off quite the unfriendly vibe. We realize at this point that getting into Rahadun is going to be a bit tougher than we imagined.
Day 6 – The Desert Divide
We are awakened near dusk by the howling of the wind and the stinging sand biting into our flesh. A sandstorm, just what we needed…another one of the deserts challenges! We decide that we must push on, but Thorus, who appears to be cracking under the deserts spirit breaking will decides that he is better suited to hunker down and wait out the storm. He creates a makeshift windblock and hides behind it. The rest of us, being less of a bitch, decide to venture through the storm. Spenser and I once again surrender ourselves to the desert, which in turn grants our party unimpeded travel through the sandstorm, yet we both feel the desert once again tightening her grasp around our souls. Thinking to myself, “This is the last time I offer to surrender to the desert and help these other guys out, I am getting nothing in return!” We make decent headway through the night at this point, and as dawn approaches we can see a large crevasse up ahead. We make our way to the entrance where we start setting up camp. We are chatting as we set up the campsite and we all agree that we hope Thorus isn’t too far behind. You never know what dangers can befall a solo adventurer in these strange lands. While preparing camp, I can’t help but notice that about 100 yards further into the crevasse are what appear to be a bunch of dried up corpses. Now, I will be the first to admit that I’m one greedy S.O.B. so I stealthily make my way towards the bodies, unbeknownst to the group. While rifling through the corpses I hear overhead a loud, gurgling snarl…oh shit! This cannot be good! I look up just in time to see a large lizardman fling a spell my way. A cloud appears over my head and I begin getting pelted…by SALT! Oh god, he’s trying to suck the moisture from me, leaving me as one of these dried up corpses. Thankfully I am able to deflect it and avoid the mummification, but that is the least of my worries. Those dried-up corpses…well, they are not so much corpses anymore as they are now heading my way and trying to kill me! Hopefully the guys will realize something is up and come help!
The enemies are closing around me, biting and tearing at my flesh. I will not go down so easy, and they do not know that I am a much better fighter when surrounded. I manage to bloody 4 of the blights around me, killing a couple too. While getting ready to unleash my next assault on my assailants the vision leaves my eyes. I am in complete darkness! Did I go blind? No, thankfully it’s spell cast by one of these denizens. I still “know” where they are so can try to unleash hell once more.
Now, the party didn’t know that I had snuck off to examine the corpses but they did know something was going on when they noticed that I was MIA and the loud snarl echoed up the crevasse. The other guys quickly gather their gear and rush down to come to my aid.
As I’m standing in the darkness my auditory senses are tingling. I hear the gasping of the blights, the gnashing of their teeth, and what’s that? A bell is clanging…WHOA! I’m being pulled out of the darkness and right into the grasp of another lizardman. This CANNOT be good I think, as I soon realize that without my allies I’m screwed. I manage to fight off the attackers for a little while longer before succumbing to their onslaught. As I lie on the ground, death all but certain, I see over the cusp come my brothers-in-arms! A sight never so welcome before! Before the attackers can finish me off for good, the band is upon them drawing their attacks. Lorthandriel manages to restore my health enough to allow me to once again resume fighting. Even near death I will not back down from battle! The guys do notice that our opponents for the most part seem to be quite badly injured and take note of the two crumpled masses on the floor as well. They all shout in amazement at my prowess, but I scorn them and let them know that the battle is still far from over. Ultimately, we prevail in this battle and realize that the large lizardman that had first attacked me was Charlie. This was Francis’s family, so now it was up to us to find the gold stash and complete our agreement with our golden gecko friend. Just as we are examining the last of the corpses, who should appear but our good friend Thorus. He asks if he missed anything exciting while we were apart. Of course, we told him no, afraid his frail state of mind would snap completely if we let on about the excitement we had just endured. Instead we tell him that Charlie and his family must’ve been killed by a war party of Mamuks, so now we just had to find the gold. We search the caves and discover a few rooms, and lastly, behind a fake wall we discover the gold stash. Over 1,000 coins by our estimation. A hefty sum coming our way if Francis holds true to his end of the bargain!
Here is where our journey ends for the time being. Don’t worry though, I’m sure it will contain more stories of Fenrir’s greatnes…err, our parties greatness shortly! Rahadun awaits us and I can only imagine the tales that will come from that….