The Awakening of the Desert King

CHAPTER 4 THIS COULD BE HEAVEN OR THIS COULD BE HELL

Chapter 4 act i

While preparing to travel onward the group observed three haggard figures battling several mounted Al Haladin. The three slew or drove off the dwarves and stumbled towards Brimstone and spotted the party hiding out. They revealed themselves to be two Al Haladin dwarves that had escaped from the gladiatorial arenas of Alesandria, the male dwarf named Crag apparently recognized Dim and let him know that a being called the Ancient One was very much alive and was training fighters again in the arenas. Dim thought him dead but after attacking Crag and knocking him out he discovered that the Ancient One had escaped only to be recaptured. The third figure was a plains elf that turned out to be a rogue one Osayi Orell, romantically intwined with Valaheire. She decided to leave the two dwarves and join up with the group.

With less than a day of travel to exit the Valley of Mourn the band of weary travelers decided to push on into the painful, desert heat of the coming day. Lionheart murmured soft words to Sol and suddenly he quit sweating so profusely and actually looked comfortable in his tattered iron chain mail in the hundred degree heat. Valahaire wrapped the tattered remains of his clothing about his head and pushed on seeming to deal with the harsh environment.

The remaining three definitely looked worse for wear as they pushed on into the blasting sunlight of high noon. Guido staggered under his load and sweat poured off his red, burnt face and into his thick, disheveled beard. He couldn’t possibly keep this up much longer. While the towering paladin smiled and strode purposefully forward. They eventually stopped and tried to find some refuge from the oppressive heat. Dim Mak found them shelter once again proving to be quite adept at locating the small caves and niches away from the intense light.

It was during the this moment of seeking refuge that Arakasi became aware of a slight rustling near him. He opened his sleepy, salt sweat encrusted eyes and became aware of Dim putting something into his water flask! The gem studded sorcerer snatched up the flask and upended it onto his open palm in hopes of not spilling any of their precious two days remaining water supply. Suddenly the young, slightly sunburnt man let out a cry of agony and terror. He fell back violently slamming into the sandy ground. Tiny dark mineral grains sparkled and smoked in the intense white light of day. A thin line of drool trickled out of Arakasi’s mouth as his water spilled out on the desert floor. The dark grains dissolved into his outstretched hand and his skin took on sickly grey pallor, almost corpse-like. A single flawless emerald embedded in his wrist hissed and crackled, finally shattering. He awoke to see Dim staring at him looking shocked.

Dim revealed to the group that he had been carrying a chunk of incredibly dark rock that he found while enslaved by Corvus Malik back in the Brimstone mines. Corvus indicated that this was a substance called Voidstone and that it could be a potential secret weapon to turn the tide in the coming war against the Ghostwalkers. After mining several tons of the stuff he collapsed the mine on the miners killing forty or more slaves, but somehow Dim had survived.

Clearly the conflict between Arakasi and Dim had yet to be resolved…

Finally, as the sun set over the Furnace Mountains to the west and more and more Al Haladin forces could be seen pouring out of the far mountainous valleys. The weary, dirty, sunburnt heroes began their ascent upward to the Runespire Pass and final exodus from the Valley of Mourn. As the first moon arose in the east dark clouds could be seen gathering over the pass. Valehaire whipped out his trusty silver rune scribed telescope and scanned the area. He quickly saw at least eight figures encircled around a tall grey stone monolith twenty feet or more in height. As lightning began to arc above the pass a single bolt struck the stone and with a horrible unearthly roar a great shadowy figure leapt into the world.
Bearded devil

The intensity of evil red light emitted from this being effected Valaheire as if he had pointed the magnifying arcane glass directly at the sun. He let out a gasp as he could no longer see out of that eye. As the other worldly terror became aware of Lionheart it closed the nearly half mile distance in seconds.

Guido brought forth his trusty silver powder and hastily created another warding circle of protection. The group gathered inside. The roaring, cackling fiend with little effort swept aside the protective circle and lashed out at the stalwart paladin with a wickedly barbed glaive twice the height of Lionheart. Dim engaged the beast as well cutting hands and arms on its thick hide. The fiery red creature slashed out at Dim with two vicious strokes sending the bandaged monk reeling. Lionheart made great slamming strikes with his hammer calling out a prayer to Sol to “Guide my hand to SMITE THIS EVIL!” Arakasi shaken but still in the fight launched several bolts of arcane light but appeared to have little effect. Valaheire and Guido struck out at the otherworldly fiend, but their attacks were nothing to the righteous fury of the enraged paladin. For certainly battling such horrors was why Sol had blessed him with life. The hammer strokes caused the ten foot plus creature to actually stagger back somewhat. It was then that it reached a clawed hand out to Lionhearts shoulder and instantly winked out of the heroes sight. Lionheart felt a horrible wrenching pull but leapt back in time before he could be taken.

A few moments passed and the silence again of the empty rocky desert rushed back in only broken by a few distant thunder claps. Then with a booming blast of fire and heat the creature struck out at the confused group. Valaheire and Dim leapt away from the heat totally unscathed while Arakasi appeared to be cooked the worst. The battle looked to begin anew the battered hide of the monstrosity appeared to be healing before their very eyes. When with a blurring rush of bandged legs Dim Mak leapt at it, the hunk of Voidstone in his outstretched hand as he struck. There was an intense crackling of dark electricity and heat and the jaggedly bearded foe roared in pain and dismay and appeared to collapse in on itself leaving only a smoky, hissing area of stone and sand.

Finally the group arrived at the Runespire Pass and discovered the remnants of a recently performed ritual of some type. And far below in the sprawling dry, coastal scrub the vast Naril River could be seen flowing towards the coast and the distant glittering spires of the imperial capital of Alesandria. Closer by the Hotel Shaitan could be seen, promising fresh water, good food and soft beds. At least thats what the group had been
told…

Unknown

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