From the fatigued mind of Thoris Bakerson
The desert has been cruel and unrelenting. I’m near death, barely able to move yet I pushed along and brisk pace every night. The hallucinations I’ve been experiencing have worsened due too my mental fatigue. Charlie, Carl and Louis the geckos, coincidentally the names of unfriendly classmates back in Silvermoon Academy, lie dead at the mouth of a cave that we have claimed for our own use.
Standing atop the ravine the ominous City of Rah’dune towers to our southeast, less than half a days travel at our slow pace. Both Lecarde and Fenrir scale to the highest point of the cliff to gaze upon the city. I remember, what I could remember due to the heatstroke I was experiencing, that climbing such a cliff while hallucinating as much as we were was unwise, but I was too in a daze to mention, though they likely knew that I would normally advise against.
The city itself sits on a plateau of what seems to be an obsidian rock, its walls and towers black and weathered from the heat. Only one entrance can be seen, although a city of this size, the second largest I have gazed upon after my home of Silvermoon, would have several more and potential secret entrances that we are unlikely to find. This entrance is guarded by two massive towers that loom over the entrance as well as what seems to be a platoon of guards. Outside the walls a skirt of defensive towers encircle the city with many patrols weaving between them. In my state of weary, I am unable to devise a plan of entrance that would not end in bloodshed.
Seeking alternatives, we ask out prisoner Alla’hook on what he would devise as well as details about the city. Alla’hook was somewhat helpful, we learned that his tattoo signified his House and Lineage as well as there would be documents we could forge in case we get stopped by guards. Keidro asks about alternate entrances and learns the layout of the city, as well as a entrance near the military district; not a plausible entrance for us.
Francis the phantom, the reoccurring sign of our extreme heatstroke, calls for us at the corpses of his unruly family. Everything about Francis seems odd, offputing of sorts. I pay no heed to the hallucination. Instead I keep watch on Alla’hook while I begin maintenance on Thumbs, sand and grime have been slowing is gears, prematurely grinding the teeth. I assess his inner clockwork; one bevel gear has ground completely down needs to be replaced and the cage gear near the arcane reserve has slipped a disc and needs reassembly. As I begin work Alla’hook looks on in fascination and begins to ask me questions about how the mechanism work. I proudly show him as I open Thumbs completely and reveal its arcane heart, part of my magical lifeforce that powers Thumbs.
Francis reveals that he is an agent of Gaea and much like Shayd and will help us return the mortal realm if we can defeat his inner evil. I know not if it was the heat nor the fact that my opinion would have been ignored, but I reluctantly agreed that we should enter melee with Francis, although I still believed him to be an apparition.
The cave provided shelter from the harmful sun but the heat remains, stale from the lack of wind. Sleep, the forty-five minutes I did sleep, was unsatisfying. My condition worsened during the night and I have contracted some sort of disease that I have named Desert Smite. I became lightheaded, I felt even weaker than before and atop my hallucinations my vision became blurred as if I weren’t wearing my glasses. The rest of the party seemed in high spirits, shrugging off many signs of their heatstroke.
Day seven had came and after some dried camel meat we decided to let Alla’hook go as he has been helpful and we wish him well. I gave him a Nephilium Warhammer, a pound of dried camel meat and my thanks for his help. He was honored to have traveled with us and wished us success and will leave after we slay Francis’ evil spirits.
Francis appeared as he said he would and after a moment to prepare he began to transform. Once again my eyes deceive me as he forms into a large gold dragon and the entire ravine shatters under his feet, large pillars of onyx erupt from the ground and large crevices form around him. A grueling battle began.
The fight was intense, Francis never stayed in one spot, he was able to teleport every 2 seconds and seem to be an expert a such tactics. Weaving in and out of the pillars he stayed out of our range whilst bringing us to the brink of death. During the fight I had fallen and when I awoke there was no sign of Francis. Instead the desert had changed, we were no longer in the shadowfell. The city of Rah’dune had towers of copper, not onyx. Lecarde began to scout ahead while I forged documents in case we get exposed.