The Awakening of the Desert King

CHAPTER 6 SHEEP! Act II No! This Is Not A Bad Dream
Act II No! This Is Not A Bad Dream

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As the dust settles from Arakasi’s departure from the this world and the remaining Bloodripper Raptors are dispatched Guido staggers back amidst the exhausted, concerned villagers. raptor.jpg

Now comes the time of the calm before the storm. What will our heroes do ? What INCREDIBLE plans will they come up with ?

Guidos lighted axe begins to flicker out leaving the huddled villagers in dark forbidding ruins of Zumurund.

What do you do heroes ?

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CHAPTER 6 SHEEP!
Act I You'd Better Watch Out, There May Be Dogs About

As the group finally decided to do what they can to evacuate the people of Semasit from the Well of Dreams and get to the road and head north to Mannan.

Meanwhile Dim Mak took to the skies aboard his new companion the Ryular dragon Hayalperest. Armed with his bag of newly decapitated al Haladin heads the scarred monk flew back to Semasit attempting to taunt the celebrating dwarves into following him by dropping numerous heads in their path.

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After Valaheire and Arakasi managed to calm the people enough to begin the trip through the Dread Marsh, Guido heard the distinctive roars of approaching trolls drawn to the stench of fresh blood spilt by the headless corpses of Al Haladin. In a panic the remaining bald dwarven prisoners begged Guido to be released. After promising to not attack the group again they were set free.

As the trolls drew closer…

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A battle with ten towering, sprawling armed monstrosities began and after numerous stealthy attacks by Valaheire, tree felling axe swings by Guido, and noxious vapors by Arakasi the trolls were nearly defeated. Then Hayalperest arrived with Dim dropping down deftly through the trees. Making short work of the remaining beasts all save one that ran away into the vine infested muck of the swamps.

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Chapter 5 Act III Am I Right ? Am I Wrong

The heroes go back into the Iyi Rüyalar (well of dreams) and defeat Calaxamar the entity controlling the dragon Hayalperest (desert dreamer). In return Hayal gave each of them an item from his collection of heirlooms and agreed to Dim’s request to travel with the group for a time.

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Upon returning to the surface the group brought the stolen women and children back to the little desert village of Semasit Evervas. Just in time to see three Praetorian Class Silvanestri airships barreling down on a battalion of Al Haladin outriders and jannisseries lead by Corvus Malik.

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With a volley of black powder weapons firing shimmering jet black rounds the Al Haladin brought the vanguard ship crashing down to the ground. The Ghostwalkers scattered as the Al Haladin rode down on them slaying many.

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The people of Semasit pleaded to the group to keep them from certain enslavement at the hands of the now victorious Al Haladin. It was decided to take the entire population underground and hide them in the Well of Dreams. Within twelve hours, food and water supplies dwindling the manscorpions appeared and escaped through hidden tunnels collapsing them as they fled. A small party of Al Haladin trackers stumbled across the entrance to the Well and were either captured or killed by the group. As the refugees from the village began to grow increasingly nervous the heroes prepared their next plan of action…

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CH 5 Interlude : Heroes of the Dinner Table Conversation.

Settling into a lovely feast bought and paid for by Delilah agent of the Circulum Ursinum. The heroes sit back atop the Rooftop gardens of the White Crescent Moon Tavern, guzzling wine and beer and stuffing their faces. As the stars appear overhead and the pale moon rises in the east.
Below a crowd has begun to gather and softly pray…

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Hey there Dim, How did you get so severly scarred? Ever dream of finding a ring of regeneration?

Dim: Each scar is a lesson, something that I was meant to learn. With each cut of the knife or lash of a whip I was made tougher that is one of many truths the Ancient one taught me.
Dim: A ring of what?

What about you there Guido. What kinda deal did that dragon want to make with you down there? You do realize that dragon is being controlled by an evil entity right?

Lionheart, I want to know whats your plan on saving those women and children down there. Any ideas?

So Arakasi, Do you think we should have tried to keep the book? That could have gave us both much power. I gained some just from glancing through it it…

Am I talking to myself here….???

  • ~Valheire Shadowcrest*

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Lionheart roars: “My plan, dear sirs, is simple; kick the crap out of that oversized lizard then free the prisoners and reclaim the gold, silver and magic it has stolen from humanity. HEE HE HE HAW HAWH!”

Osayi says “Well at least that giant, hammer swinging ox stays consistent…a man of few words.”

Guido: (chomp, chew, chew… Gulp). Leave Dim alone Valerie! The scars give him character. But seriously, Dim, you can hold more than your own in a fight, why do you let everyone push you around? You should stand up for yourself. Sol can help.

Val: (Stroking Oyasi’s hair) What? I wasn’t attacking his character? Just curious how he got scarred up and if he ever thought of getting them healed. Thats a strange assumption you made.

Dim: So what you are telling me master Guido is that it is ok to hurt a travelling companion if he pushes me around first? I think I am more confused then I was before. When I first meet all of you, Arakasi demanded that I buy him things from the merchant with my magic rock. When I did not he treated me the way that you are saying that Val is treating me now. Pushing me around, I had no idea what the rock would do to Arakasi and wanted to see. I know he did not value me by the way he treated me, so I did not value him. But when I did what I did to Arakasi the entry group got mad at me, but now you are telling me it is ok to attack Val, i do not understand? Also Arakasi I am sorry for what I did to you before, I thought all you did was whine and demand things from others, now after spending some time with you, I no longer feel you are completely useless, the magic you use to make me strong is much appreciated, but I still think you fight with no honor.

Guido: Sorry Dim, attacking other isn’t what I meant. there are other ways to stand up for youself instead of hitting. Hitting is bad… I forget sometimes that you have not spent much time outside the arena. What I mean is that you shouldn’t can defend yourself with words and non-violent actions.

Also master Guido why did you fail saving that woman? You could have given her to me, for all the fighting I have done for you. Also what is a sol?

Val: I have to agree on saving that woman. You know you had no real shot of it right? Both Dim and I had a much better chance of saving her.

Guido: (puts down his food and lowers his head) it does pain me greatly that I was unable to save that poor woman. I plan on returning for her body to give it a proper burial. I didn try to have her hang on to someone else for transport, but she was so scared that she would not listen to reason and so I assumed all responsibility myself. I will pray for her and for myself for fogiveness from Sol. I do not believe I can ever be forgiven for her death.

Guido: (gulp, burp! Chomp, chomp). The humans aren’t the only ones trapped down there. That possessed dragon is just as much a prisoner. I got a good impression of the Demon possessing him. he’s more interested in us leaving him alone than anything else. Even tried to give away a magic helmet and a prisoner just so I would leave. I wouldn’t trust anything he gave me not to be cursed. I’ve been speaking with Dim and we think that some of the devices he’s wearing are helping to posses him. If we could destroy them, the dragon should return to normal. And that dragon could be a valuable ally. He must be possessed for a reason. Something strategic I think.

Val: (Getting shoulders rubbed from Osayi) That’s the impression I got from the dragon as well. We should hurry to save as many innocents as possible.

Guido: (chomp, nom, nom, nom). Lionheart, speaking of possessed, how’s that working for you? I would think you of all people would want to help free his soul. Or would you rather we just kill you too? I want your help to return this creature of Sol back to his natural state.

Guido: (guzzle…. Belch!) Arakasi, you curse like a Dwarf. Where did you learn to curse so well?

Val: (Sips a glass of wine) It must have been from a dwarf, right?

Guido: Yep. Humans just don’t curse that well on their own. Maybe he has some dwarf blood in him!

Guido: you’re not bad in a fight (nom, nom, nom) for an Elf. but seriously, Valerie, why is the first thing you do is hide?

Val: (hides) The art of the unseen can be a tremendous combat advantage. Cities have fallen not from armies, but from just from one man in the past.

Guido: (chomp. long pause. gulp) Hum. I suppose that is true. It’s just not the way I work. So long as you always back us up, I guess it works for me.

Dim to Lionheart: Why did you kill that man’s family? If someone killed our master Guido would you not be upset?

Dim to the party: I really think we need to go back for Selena, I fear what those creatures have done to her.

Lion Heart: This is war. (Speaking to everyone, broad gesture of the hands) If there is a better way, by Sol, speak of it. I am a simple warrior and know of only one way: (flexing a massive bicep) To wrestle justice from the hands of the wicked. And, (grappling a mellon [not you Russ] from the table and setting it in front of me) To win peace by smashing the forces of evil! (Smash mellon with closed fist.)

Val: Simple warrior? I thought you were a wise Paladin of Sol?

(melon is spelled with one “L” -Russ)

Dim, those people were casualties of war. I regret the loss of every innocent drop of blood ever shed upon the ground. My aim is to help people, even if I have to kill them to do it. You, yourself, know the pain and necessity of victory in combat— you killed your own master in order save yourself. I kill in order to save you and all who fight for what is GOOD.

Speaking of innocent blood, Guido, should you ever try to kill me, I fear ALL yours will be spilt! (Pause and Stare) You are right Guido, when I think of the terrible destruction that this possessed wyrm may cause- I shudder to think of letting it loose upon the world. It must be stopped. And I too, were I possessed could do great harm. If you must kill me let us go to the temple first- there I will sacrifice my life at your hands.

Val: I am confused… Why is Guido trying to kill you? An all what will be split?

Guido: I fear for the day when any of us must die at the hands of one of our comrads. I will try everything in my power to save you’all first. But Lionheart is correct, death may be the only way to save those possessed.

Val: Ummm, no… I know an elf who can exercise demons. So just subdue whomever, tie em up, and save thier lives… Why do I feel like I’m trying to convince a cleric and a paladin to save lives? Shouldn’t that be the other way around? Strange times indeed…

Lion Heart to Val: “innocent blood” spilt. What elf are you talking about? I would much rather save lives than destroy them. If you have a plan, please do go on, we can hear you so much better when you are not running away and hiding.

DIM MAK: (Dim to Lionheart): I did not know, I had killed the ancient one until I was back in my cage. All I know is that I saw him on the other side of the arena, I charged him and started beating him and then everything went black. It was not the first time every thing went black when I got angry, it also happened when I found my mother dead and my father standing over her with blood covered fists. But if Craig is right the ancient one is not dead, and he is still in the arena. I believe he should be the one we save after the dragon.

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Chapter 5 Act II Once In a Lifetime

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Down the heroes descend into the well of dreams. Encountering a room full of foul fungus that brought burning, choking and paralyzing dangers; eventually the five made it to the lower temple stairs guarded by two entrapped flame elementals.

Ever the finesse filled one, Arakasi kicked one of the brazier imprisoned elementals down the stairs setting off numerous traps and releasing and burning the Brood Mothers young. Enraged and on the attack the giant scorpion charged up the stairs only to encounter the second freed elemental. Against the pleading cries of Occam to not damage the Belial’s livelihood Lionheart smashed in the creatures chitinous head. Descending further they faced Turan Father of the Belial manscorpions. Arakasi was pierced with numerous crossbow bolts and nearly mortally injured. Retaliating with a roaring blast of sand and gravel the gem encrusted sorcerer destroyed all of the remaining Belial save Turan.

As the towering figure smote Lionheart driving the great man back a grim, hissing and ominous chuckling appeared from the darkness beyond. Calaxmar the entity controlling the great burnished black dragon appeared.

Calaxmar told the group that the dragon he was controlling must remain so shackled and chained with the mystic manacles or it would run wild and destroy them and the town. If the group promised to leave and never return to this temple he would set his captives free. “Bring me meat and I will give you items of power.” Meat could be apparently translated as conscious, intelligent creatures humanoids and the like. Guido stayed behind and dealt further with Calaxmar.

This resulted in one of the captives, a young woman being freed. Only to meet a horrible end choking and retching on toxic fungal spores.

Finally the group realizing they were possibly no match for the controlled dragon in their weary, beat down state returned to the village of Semasit. There they met once again with Delilah and received an encrypted message from the Circulum Ursinum.

En circulum fidelis good trans

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CHAPTER 5 ACT I YOU MIGHT ASK YOURSELF...HOW DID I GET HERE?

!After fleeing the worm infested Hotel Shaitan and defeating the Dread Host of Malbogiah our heroes continued on their way north towards the capital of Alesandria. A few miles away from the monastery the group observed the Silvenstri airship to leave the storm now dissipating over the Runespire. The fading clouds and lightning was accompanied by the sounds of distant black powder shots and small flashes surrounding the spire area.

The airship rapidly approached the fleeing party and then hovered for a time as if waiting. Cloudlike, vaporous frost silhouettes of eight foot humanoids descended down on the group from the vessel some sixty feet overhead. Approaching the group they dropped a scroll ahead of them on the twisting, dusty roadway. Still several hours from sunrise the escapees of Brimstone hid away until the ship zoomed north into the night.

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They then moved north as the light appeared in the east. As a small hill side town just came into view to the northeast several large scorpions appeared and begin to attack them. After dispatching these giant arachnids a strange sight appeared over a large rocky clump. A half man half scorpion that Dim had heard were once called the Belial. The figure introduced himself as Occam one of the last then Belial in the world. He was saddened by the loss of his scorpion livestock and requested that the group somehow help him. This involved journeying to the river bottom area known as the Dread Marsh where their ancient temple could be found. Apparently his brothers and sisters and father had all begun to act very strangely and speak in a bizarre language.

Promising to help Occam the heroes journeyed on to the scrubland town of Semasit Evervas where they quickly met the Onda (mayor) of the village Ezeek Kwazahali. Ezeek was also the tavern keeper and owner of the main mercantile shop in the village. Guido and Dim came into the town where they soon realized numerous people were missing, Semasit had become rather impoverished. Trade into and out had become beset by attackers in the night. Finally, two days before the Shrine to Sol had been ransacked, the head cleric was gone and blood and gore were found splattered about the place. Guido investigated and found that the sanctified ground had in fact been violated by symbols of evil and darkness. Dim was able to make a small amount of money entertaining the saddened villagers with acrobatics and tricks.

Finally the group gathered in the Shining Crescent Moon Tavern and discussed heading into the deep shadows of the Dread Marsh and seeking out the lost children and villagers. It was here they met X? operative of the Circulum Ursinum that promised to bring them a message if they in fact could discover the goings on in the Well of Dreams Temple. The home of the Belial.

Guido and Occam managed to subdue four of the Belial and then returned back to Semasit to regroup with the others.

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CH 4 ACT III FINALE YOU MUST FIGHT JUST TO KEEP THEM ALIVE!

CH 4 ACT III FINALE
YOU MUST FIGHT JUST TO KEEP THEM ALIVE

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CH 4 FINALE ACTUAL PLAY RECORDING

Lionheart bound. The others surrounding him peering suspicious, nervous. Occasionally a strange clouded expression would pass over his face. His lips moving in silent tense conversation.

Arakasi became frustrated and prepared to leave.

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CH 4 ACT III They Stab It With Their Steely Knives

Chapter 4 act iii

I’m so excited to see what’s next! It’s going to be hard to wait. -Russ

“Oh you will be excited…you will be..”-Benevolent DM

Here’s the Actual Play Recording Link:
CH4 Act III They Stab It With Their Steely Knives

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1WwM0lHrN4

Journal

Lionheart awoke atop the wall disoriented and confused. With Dim, Guido, and Arakasi looking at him with varied degrees of concern, fear and fascination. The haggard looking paladin shook his head and looked into the worm infested courtyard and the nightmare scene of numerous Al Haladin and humans becoming infected and transforming into flesh eating zombies.

Podo Lemurkind the leader of the these drunken monkey monks climbed atop his wagon load of strange twisting tubes, vials and metallic equipment and looked pleadingly toward the heroes atop the wall, “Help Me!” he shouted while at the same time engaging in incredible blinding strikes and kicks with a bizarre staggering movement. He apparently had crushed any of the attacking, slithering worms trying to infect him.

Lionheart looked down into a courtyard full of horror and death and slid down the rope to aid the besieged monk. Dim burned worms out of Guido’s arm and attempted to burn them out of his beard as well.

Immediately Lionheart realized as he reached the courtyard and the sickly rotten looking worms begin to sizzle and disintegrate upon contact with his skin that he was no longer wearing his armor. His chainmail shirt when last he saw it was in the gifted hands of Hidaya the daughter of Dabbah proprietor of the inn. Quickly two twisted, worm riddled corpses arose and after a moment of shambling towards Lionheart suddenly begin to move with an awful fury and speed. They rapidly closed in upon the paladin as he tried to make his way towards Podo.

Somewhere in the cacti and rocks Valaheire and Osayi watched the increasing drama with interest and red wine.

Arakasi looked on in utter exasperation and annoyance still drenched in sweat and exhausted from hauling the big man and dwarf up the wall out of the courtyard of death.

Guido started to move around the wall to help the paladin once again, while Dim tried to secretly tie the rope around the leg of Arakasi for what reason it was unclear.

The paladin found himself surrounded by zombies and out of the inn emerged a bloody, silk clad recently very beautiful dancer now with wriggling worms in her eyes and her throat slit.

As Guido clambered down onto the roof of the shrine to Sol, the monk struck a light and hurled it onto the pile of alchemical equipment. He looked with wide, fearful eyes and yelled “RUN!”. As the various liquids and chemicals begin to ignite he leapt down and fled out of the ruined Hotel Shaitan gates. The great beast of burden, that they called an Apataur appeared to begin to succumb to the thousands of worms burrowing their way into it as it slumped to the ground. Looking into his pack Guido found a package which contained the newly refitted armor of Lionheart emblazoned with a roaring lion and curling Al Haladin script. The paladin slid his shining chain mail over his head, it appeared to fit beautifully.

Lionheart and Guido sought refuge in the protected, sacred ground of the shrine that zombies seemed unable to enter. Arakasi shook his head at the two and climbed down from the wall setting out into the wilds. Dim ran along towards the shrine roof and prepared to rescue the two beset would be rescuers.

Somewhere out in the rocks and cacti Valaheire munched on the last of their rations and placed a hand on Osayi’s thigh…

The weird, green and scarlet alchemical fire begin to build to a terrible explosion as the Apataur arose to its massive legs shaking and staggering looking to kill something. The dwarf cleric and paladin made a break for the inn seeking cover while Dim hunkered down atop the shrine’s roof. The massive blast of green fire and heat was filled with a hundred keening wails and spectral snakes and roaring serpents as it exploded out in great pulsing waves. Destroying the majority of the worms in the courtyard and all of the zombies, save the great lumbering beast.

Somewhere out in the rocks and cacti Valaheire looked at Osayi with surprise at the vast explosion and slid his hand higher up her thigh…Arakasi just shook his head again.

The wall of alchemical fire cooked Lionheart and Guido a bit before they could dive inside the inn, while Dim pressed his bandaged body tightly against the hard, clay tiles of the roof and deftly remained unscathed. Lionheart and Guido ran back for the rope that Dim lowered down to them and begin to escape the courtyard and the lumbering zombified Apataur. The nimble monk leapt along the wall hollering drawing the attention of the great beast.

Somewhere off in the rocks and cacti Valaheire stood up brushed himself off and said “Well I guess I should go save these guys again…” Arakasi sat down and ate a ration sandwich.

Finally the group was reunited outside of the Hotel Shaitan and debated about what should be their next course of action. Arakasi recommended they head to the Upanga Chawi his hidden underground swordmage school some three days north of here and just two days from the imperial capital of Alesandria. As they debated Lionheart begin to reel and stagger again as the pulsing waves of lighting built to even higher intensity atop the runespire pass. The group could see his eyes grow dark and look far away, lips moving to a silent conversation. Then he could audibly be heard to say as he turned to face the arcing lines of electrical light, “All of you get out of here!” and then in that deep, rumbling voice not his own “Yes or No ?”

As his companions looked on with concern and interest, the sky full of jagged bolts of energy and the wind starting to howl about them. The paladin lifted his head towards the sky took out his hammer and shield and said with finality, “Yes.”

With that a single bolt of blood red lightning shot forth from the runespire and smote the towering man to his knees. Immediately horns appeared curling away from his forehead his eyes full of reddish, hateful fire and his beard became sharp and jagged. “HE IS MINE!” came the now full and terrible voice of the Beast. As he arose now towering more than eight feet in height he appeared to be ready to utterly disregard the surrounding companions until he caught sight of Dim.

Dim leapt forward at the now fully possessed paladin and launched a flurry of blinding strikes at him but to little or no effect. The Beast took Lionhearts hammer and with furious roar looked upon Dim bellowing “You Shall Not Banish Me A Second Time Mortal!”; and brought it slamming down on the head of the bandaged monk sending him bloody and reeling and very near to death. Arakasi peppered the horned horror with a few blasts of arcane energy. Guido drew forth the last of his silvered powder and tried one more time to release his companion from the clutches of this horrific other worldly beast…he consecrated the ground where Lionheart stood. Valaheire slipped back into the shadows.

Lionheart with the aid of Guido’s prayers managed to fight off the Beast’s control enough to look more like himself. Valaheire approached him with a rope and told him “We’ve got to tie you up for your own good.” Though the holy warrior looked reluctant he agreed just as Dim came running back at him with another series of powerful strikes. Again the bound, mighty fighter appeared to enter into silent conversation as he turned to look towards the Runespire Pass.

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CH 4 ACT II IN THE MASTER'S CHAMBERS THEY GATHERED FOR THE FEAST

Chapter 4 act ii

As the white heat of afternoon began to fade and the Great Feast in honor of the arrival of Cibelik and Nafira the bounty hunting Silvenestri(Ghostwalkers) was prepared. Amidst the still, breezeless courtyard a very harried and sweaty Dabbah Hudun (owner of the Hotel Shaitan) and Hidaya Hudun (his daughter) were seen constantly dashing about.

The monks of the Drunken Monkey Monastery appeared to be making ready to leave. Barrels were retied and secured, strange mechanisms and metallic objects were shifted about on their wagon. The large beast of burden was being fed and watered. It was here that Lionheart suggested that the group travel together.

The leader of the monastery stated his concern that the heroes were in fact wanted men in Brimstone. They were suspected of treason, spying and fomenting anarchy in the rugged mining town. He also mentioned the certain retaliation of the Silvenestri once the truth of the public execution of the Silvenestri merchants and ambassadors among others became known in Alesandria. He appeared very fearful of the form that retaliation would take. He reminded the group that his first concern was for the well being of his fellow students and apologized for not being able to accommodate their request.

Perhaps the group might wish to journey to the Monastery of a Thousand Sips in the future. He guaranteed that a hospitable welcome would be given there, once his students were safe behind its walls. As they repacked their wagon numerous strange smells and pungent, acrid odors could be detected emanating from beneath the grey tarp stained with numerous dark, brown stains.

The arrival of the Silvenestri bounty hunters into the hotel courtyard caused Lionheart to seek to carry on the conversation in a more private area and headed off to the smithy where Hidaya was feverishly working Lionheart’s Chain Shirt to better fit the giant of a paladin and also repair the numerous broken rings. The monk stated his concern that the bounty hunters might in fact prevent anyone from leaving until their runaway slaves were found.

Lionheart revealed more about the attack on Brimstone and the undead horde which erupted out of the numerous mine shafts and entrances. Hidaya froze up at this and with a quick, minute glance looked downward at the flagstone floor beneath her feet. She desperately tried to keep her feelings hidden but the commanding yet strangely comforting voice of the blond giant caused her to stop and begin to weep uncontrollably. She then gazed upward, eyes shining with tears, at the paladin revealing:

Four weeks ago my mother became agitated, feverish and began behaving very strangely indeed…she kept refusing to eat, and spent much of her time in the lower cellar and only came out at night. She was seen to be repeatedly whispering strangely and covertly to herself…she appeared to be increasingly emaciated. Strange sulfurous smelling vomit belched forth from her sickly, cracked lips and became encrusted on her face…She seemed to not truly recognize us or respond to her name when called. My brother Salik tried day after day to care for her until finally he rushed up the cellar stairs and locked the door his eyes wide and full of terror….

‘that THING down there is not our mother! It just called out to me in a voice like the bottom of a pit of fire, I actually saw the ground around it erupt into fire and flame…and told me that if I brought her your heart I would be rewarded with the promise of all my dreams fulfilled…IT KNEW things about me I’ve NEVER told anyone!’

We spent the next few days praying feverishly at our shrine to Sol the Keeper of Hearth and Home. Then the Al Haladin outriders arrived looking for three escaped slaves from Alesandria and we had to disregard our mother (or whatever it was now). Then two days ago Selena and her troop of the Scarlet Veil entertainers arrived telling us that they were resting before their escort of Al Haladin dwarves arrived to take them to Brimstone. The Scarlet Veil was to perform for the Silvenestri ambassador and his companions.

Father became more and more withdrawn and fearful. At night we would hear occasional shuffling, scraping, pounding coming from below but over time it had grown quieter and quieter. My brother went down to check on our mother and we heard terrible screams and crashing sounds. I tried to plunge down the stairs but my father prevented me. I saw my brothers form, face bloodied, hair scorched and burned from his head, eyes wide with fear at the bottom and then he was roughly yanked out of my view. I knew then that he was most likely already dead.

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My father seemed to go into a sort of shock and became eerily cheerful. He numbly just went back to his role as proprietor of the hotel but he had barricaded the door down to the cellar.

There have always been legends about this hotel; stories of spirits, voices on the wind, strange deaths have certainly occurred here. The structure was built by my ancestors the Al Morin Haladin more than 400 years ago. It is the will of Kaleh that we came here to offer shelter, food, and drink to those most in need…those lost on the roads of the south. It is our way as Al Haladin.

But two days ago my father awoke saying that he must go pray. He exulted telling me that Sol had sent him a vision! A dream to show a way through this gathering darkness. He said that Sol was sending us a Blessing and that we should be vigilant less we miss it…

Now my father is utterly convinced that you five are indeed that blessing. The grey handed human glitters with the heart of the earth within his very skin. Now he journeys to the Crossroads of Worlds! Perhaps he will find my mother’s soul wandering there? The plains elf, though partially blind still offers refuge, protection and aid to that escaped slave…yes I know that is the one the cursed Ghostwalkers (see whispers this word while spitting on the ground and fearfully looking out the smithy door) are hunting. Surely he will help us as well? Your bandaged youth bears the ancient Al Morin Haladin symbol of Hearth and Home! How did he come upon it? The bearded, hairy cousin is a priest of Sol and shines with the radiance of a blessed of the sun.

Then there is you my paladin! Father says you have seen the dark heart of the flames! That you are like the sword tempered by that dark fire! You have been touched by the BEAST but the light of Sol’s Glory doesn’t dampen within you! As it was foretold in the Book of Light:

When Pallid Worm
Crawls Across Night Black Sky
When That Which Is Dead
Will Refuse to Die
When HE that was Sundered
Might Again Be Remade
When Debt Forsaken
Must Now Be Repaid
When Forger of Shadows
Gives Scions Gift Away
When New Forger Arises
The Hammer of Kaleh
When Crossroads of Worlds
Become Open and Wild…

(and at this point Dabbah could be heard calling for her)

Ah! I must go but know that for now I will prepare this too small…this inadequate Al Haladin armor and make it more suiting for a BLESSED ONE such as yourself. But please give me a few days and I will craft such an armor to truly befit The Hammer of KALEH! (Sol in Al Haladin). She looks at a faded worn mural on the far smithy wall…

The decimation of praag

With that Hidaya rushed out of the smithy.

The young, socially awkward monk Dim could not get last nights swim with sultry entertainer Selena out of his mind and eventually sought her out on the backstairs of the hotel. With some tantalizing touches and caresses that sent the hot blooded monk into a whirl of confused arousal she let him know that she would be his if only he would help her troop The Scarlet Veil escape this place.

Dim in utter confusion sought out who he felt was the real leader of this rag tag band of heroes…none other than GUIDO the Knee Cruncher! Guido tried to get Dim straight on the differences between slave life and free life; prostitutes and…non-prostitutes. Much of his wisdom was apparently lost on the young man. As he ran about he eventually nearly smacked into Nafira who ground his head into the dirt as he bowed.
F eladrin4

Nafira tried to learn more about Lionheart, Valahaire and the rest. When told about Brimstone being attacked she seemed less than concerned even doubtful of the groups story.

The Silvenestri apparently told the Al Haladin outriders they were not to leave until the others returned and if not the leader would be executed.

The group then did their best to assist the father and daughter Huddun to prepare this great feast for the guests of honor; the bounty hunters.

The group sat down to a great meal with entertainment provided by Scarlet Veil dancers that entranced all in the room. The swirling, cavorting beauties captivated the many gathered there so much so that the Al Haladin outriders seemed to become unaware of their surroundings. This hypnotic state seemed to be happening with the Drunken Monkey’s as well. Even Arakasi and Valahaire appeared to succumb to the beguiling, writhing dancers bodies. Until the auburn haired Oyasi, the stealthy elf’s reunited companion brought the partially blinded elf to his senses with a firmly planted elbow in his ribs.

Next, a woman clad in thin, sheer emerald silks came down the stairs. Two veiled dancers carried two great baskets which revealed themselves to contain two great eight foot cobras. The cobras swayed with her for a time and then rushed out to attack the heroes in the front row seats. The Ghostwalkers seemed to take renewed interest in the group as they quickly dispatched the cobras, but not before Guido fell over a table and was bitten by one of the venom laden cobras. He was sickened by the bite but not too severely. While Valahaire slashed one of the snakes heads off with his glimmering elven blade Anduril. This brief skirmish ended with the sounds of slow applause from the Silvenestri bounty hunters. The entranced outriders and monks started to become aware of their surroundings once again as the heroes dragged the snake dancer woman to the kitchen as the young woman sobbed and begged for mercy…

Guido charged up the stairs to check on the other entertainers and soon found that they had all left.

As Arakasi and Dim drug the whimpering scantily clad woman to the kitchen a clamor erupted at the Silvenstri’s table. Nafira was seen wide eyed clutching at her throat and collapsed across it convulsing. Cibelik cried out in his strange, otherworldly tongue and then pointed at a wide eyed Hidaya.

“You worthless STONEHEART! How dare you rise against us! You have poisoned her! You have poisoned your master!”

With that he closed his eyes and a strange shimmering appeared around him as he began to briefly fade in and out of view. Placing a hand on the back of the motionless Nafira she too began to fade but then was brought back with a ragged gasp sitting upright staring off into nothing.

As the Al Haladin and monks got up from their tables a great tremor began to be felt from the ground, dust rained down from the ceiling. Plates shattered falling to the floor. It became difficult to walk smoothly without stumbling.

Valahaire grabbed Oyasi and made his way out into the courtyard and quickly climbed atop the roof of the shrine and waited to see what would happen next. From his perch above the courtyard the nimble, partially blind plains elf could observe that the old double gates at the Hotel Shaitan’s entrance began to shake.

Plunging into the kitchen, as Dabbah ran out to go to the aid of his daughter; Arakasi and Dim drug the dancer to the edge of the burning, red hot stove. It was then that they noticed Lionheart was slumped over against the wall a trickle of drool coming out of the big man’s mouth.

Dim began to torture the apparently terrified woman (editor’s note “We here at Awakening of the Desert King campaign would like to apologize on behalf of the behavior of some of the characters here…they really are played by nice people…I swear.”)
Dim kept reminding Arakasi that he felt the woman was in fact lying. Finally, knocking the bound woman unconscious Dim ran out into the courtyard. Guido came in and tried to drag the giant two hundred and fifty pound man out of the kitchen and out into the courtyard as well.

Arakasi remained behind and slit the woman’s throat.

This was the first mortal death someone in the group had caused since their flight from besieged Brimstone.

As the gates burst open three great furrows could be seen rapidly approaching the shimmering oasis pool. Dim leapt up from the second floor with a mighty, seemingly impossible leap to the wall some 15 feet above his head. Guido gave a quick smack to the face of the unconscious paladin in hopes of waking him. Lionheart opened eyes glaring with a strange, crazed light and roared in a voice certainly not his own, THE PALADIN IS MINE! I AM COMING FOR HIM PRIEST!”.

Shocked and confused Guido dropped the groaning warrior and pulled out the his ever dwindling supply of silver powder and with a gouging rake across his own face he flung the silver into the air crying out THE POWER OF SOL COMPELS YOU!”

Lionheart once again fell unconscious.

Arakasi leapt to the base of the north wall where Dim lowered the last tattered remains of their thirty feet of rope allowing the stone handed sorcerer to quickly clamber up. He thrilled to realize that randomly his newly reshaped hand seemed to meld with the stone of the wall aiding his climb.

The courtyard was a confusion of staggering Al Haladin outriders bellowing about most of their mounts being gone, and Drunken Monkey monks trying to get their beasts harnessed up to pull their bulky wagon. Lone Guido with the dour, relentless strength of his race heaved the sagging load of unconscious paladin onto his shoulders. He paused just a moment to whisper to Sol to give him strength; then with muscles heaving, eyes bulging, he made his way to the dangling rope.

Behind him the two bounty hunters exited out of the building with both Hidaya and Dabbah in shimmering, silver rune carved shackles on both hands and feet. The two Al Haladin dwarves looked wide eyed and fearful. From their hovering airship some sixty feet over the hotel a ladder was lowered down and a rope with large curved hooks fixed to the end. Hooking the shackles of the father and daughter the two Silvenestri effortlessly scaled the ladder and brought their prisoners aboard.

As Guido struggled ferociously with the snoring, unresponsive Lionheart he wrapped one thick, muscled arm around him and attempted to climb grasping the frayed, tattered rope with the other. With the assistance of Arakasi heaving and Dim Mak swinging down the other side of the Hotel’s forty foot walls to counterweight. The great bulk of dwarf and paladin began to inch their way upwards.

Suddenly, the three furrows arrived at edge of the pool and erupting from the broken flagstones and sandy ground were three great worms each over fifteen feet in length. These rotten, purplish sickly looking maggot like creatures appeared to look exactly like the much tinier worms encountered around the Brimstone mines or crawling about the Liber Infernum.

With a single drawn out moment…

A courtyard full of the chaos of panicked monks and Al Haladin. A shimmering great pool of freshwater reflecting the gathering storm clouds and sinuous, sparkling green comet high overhead. Flickering torchlight from the many windows of the now vacant Hotel Shaitan. A hovering multi-rotored airship with Silvenestri seen to be watching, waiting from above. A dangling sweat soaked, exhausted dwarf desperately trying to keep a hold of an unconscious drooling paladin. A stone handed, growling with the strain of heaving, gem glittering sorcerer. A scarred, bandaged clinging and swinging from a rope, young monk. A distant hunkered down, watching through his telescope, with his remaining good eye; lovely escaped slave by his side, stealthy elf…

The giant worms plunged into the pool. A great squelching, sticky boom erupted from the hissing water as thousands upon thousands of worms burst forth showering all in the courtyard including Guido and Lionheart. The worms shriveled and died upon coming into contact with Lionheart’s skin. Guido was not so lucky as Arakasi and Dim finally managed to heave the pair to the wall’s parapet.

From there the roiling indigo storm clouds and pulses of swirling lightning could be seen gathering on the Runespire Pass.

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