Monday, April 29, 2013

Dust Thou Art, and Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return

 The group decided to follow along the edge of the Black Spine mountain range. They were unsure how long the distance was across the Great Ivory Plain salt flats. The group decided to wait out high sun in the bazaar, then set out.
They walked until evening. Nothing bothered them, except the relentless sun and dehydration. Finally, the sun began to set. Cyrus sat on a large rock.
“Time to rest.” He declared.
As Yaotl began to build a fire, he bumped into Ren, just as Ren was about to take a drink from his water skin. Precious water spilled over the fire and put it out. Flustered, Yaotl set off the hunt. Ran and Aziza set off to find food and discovered some wild farro. Unfortunately it wasn't fruited, so they picked the spines. Yaotl caught a small lizard and returned to camp.
He successfully started a fire and cooked a bland dinner of lizard meat and farro bread. Ren kept watch that night.
Ren shouted a warning, just as a huge scorpion scrambled out from behind a boulder and attacked a sleeping Roan.
Imagine this thing four feet long.

Everyone got up and attacked the scorpion, but it managed to sting Roan again, killing him. Ren ripped the scorpions tail off and bludgeoned it to death.
Yaotl rushed to Roan and checked his vitals. Confused, he determined that Roan was only sleeping and not dead. They hauled the scorpion carcass away and went back to sleep.
A few hours later, Roan got up. He looked sick and Ren asked him if he was alright, while nudging Yaotl awake with his foot. Roan fell at Ren and bit him in the arm.
“What are you doing?” Ren shouted, falling back.
Yaotl was rubbing his eyes, “Roan, what's going on?”
Roan fell on Yaotl and bit deeply into his shoulder. Yaotl screamed, and woke everyone, except Cyrus. Roan kept biting at Yaotl, who was trying to get to his feet.
“It's not Roan!” He shouted.
The group attacked the thing that was once their friend and broke it's neck, paralyzing it's body. It continued to bite at them, until Yaotl drove a flaming scimitar into it's head. Everyone was solemn and quiet.
Yaotl and Aziza built a bonfire for Roan's body. Everyone went about their morning routine quietly.
“Friend Roan..” Aziza began.
Yaotl interrupted her, “No, now is not the time for words. Wait until we give him to the wind.”
As the body burned, high sun came and went. The group failed to find shelter and sweltered under the suns blistering rays. They all drank extra water to rejuvenate themselves. A few hours later, Roans body was ash and Yaotl gathered him in a canvas backpack.
The group marched for two hours before making camp in a defensible position. The night passed without event and they set out in the morning. Four hours later, the group set out to find water and prepare to hide during high sun. Shortly after high sun, the group found a mountain, and started to climb.
Kaza, being afraid of heights, refused to climb too high and Cyrus didn't want to climb at all. They decided to stay behind, at the base of the mountain, while everyone else climbed upward. Aziza struggled with her own fear of heights, but decided that Roan's friendship meant more to her, than her fears.
The group climbed for two hours, while Cyrus and Kaza rested below. Suddenly, two lirrs rounded the rocks and spotted them. Kaza heard them coming, but Cyrus was completely surprised. Cyrus and Kaza put up a fight, but soon realized they were no match for the lirrs. Kaza was bit on his hand and dropped his mace. Cyrus rushed to his friend and teleported them to a high plateau, where the lirrs could not get them. Kaza was nervous, due to the height, but had no way to get down.
Ren, Aziza, Yaotl, Fenuku, and Basheera camp on the mountain side. In the morning, they continued their climb, until the wind was cool and fresh. Yaotl took a handful of Roan's ashes and released them into the wind.
“Goodbye, my friend.” He whispered, “May the wind carry you to better places.”
“He helped me escape from slavery.” Aziza told them, grabbing a handful of ash. “Friend Roan, we commit your body to the wind.”
The players sang “Dust in the Wind.”

The group took hours to climb down the mountain. When they finally reached the bottom, they were shocked to discover their friends were missing. Blood was everywhere and they quickly discovered Kaza's mace among the rocks.
“Oh no!” Aziza exclaimed, “We shouldn't have left them.”
“Gone. Two more, gone.” Ren lamented.
“No, I refuse to believe it!” Yaotl professed.
Kaza and Cyrus could see their friends, but were too far away to hear them, or be heard by them. Cyrus attempted to teleport to them, but failed. He was exhausted and began to meditate, to recover his mental strength.
Yaotl, Ren, and Aziza agreed to wait one day for their friends. If they did not return in that time, they would move on. Ren found a cave nearby and Kaza watched his friends walk away.
That evening, the group in the cave was attacked by two lirrs. The lirrs tore into Ren, but were no match for the larger force. Even Basheera helped, by throwing rocks at them. They cut open the lirrs and did not find evidence that their friends were eaten. Their hope increased.
In the morning, they returned to the base of the mountain to look for their friends. Kaza saw them and woke Cyrus. Cyrus groggily got up and teleported them to their companions. Aziza ran and hugged them. Ren and Yaotl simply smiled, happy that they did not have to bury their friends.
They set off toward Nibenay. A few hours later, they spotted a dark skinned man in a tattered cloak.
“Greeting, trave-” Ren began.
The man spun around, brandishing a dagger, “Beware! I am Ardivan the Black, master psionicist. If you wish me harm, you will be killed.”
The group was bewildered.
“We do not wish you harm.” Ren stated. “Do you need help?”
Ardivan did not relax. “I need nothing from you.”
Ren continued, “We have water and food.”
“You are disturbing my meditations.”
Ren bowed slightly, “Our apologizes.” Then he turned to the group, “We should go.”
Yaotl stepped forward, “Do you need food or water?”
Ardivan relaxed slightly and looked confused. Speaking to Ren, he asked, “Does he always repeat you?”
Ren smiled, “No always, but often.”
Ardivan laughed and the party moved on.
A few hours after high sun, the group encountered a large group of Elves. After a discussion, amongst themselves, about Elf morals, they decided to not interact with the nomads and moved on. They marched a couple hours longer than usual, determined to put as much distance as possible between them and the Elves. Cyrus complained about his aching feet the whole time.
The next day, in the early morning, the salt flats were replaced by grass lands. They saw herders tending flocks of Erdlu. They marched all day, nothing bothering them. Aziza stated that the lack of trouble was due to Roan watching over them. They set camp that night and slept unmolested.
The next day, Ren approached one of the Erdlu herds. An armed patrol ran over to intercept him.
“Stay back!” They shouted.
Ren put his arms up, “Which way to Nibenay?”
“Due west.” One of the herders answered, “But if I were you, I'd take the road.”
“Thank you.” Ren replied and slowly withdrew.
After high sun, the group finally found the road. A fast moving caravan was approaching. Yaotl signaled to get their attention. A group of dirty men, who were armed, armored, and riding crodlu rode over and pointed spears at the party.
“Calm yourself.” Yatol began, “I only wish to know which way to Nibenay.”
“This way, down the road.” One of the guards replied gruffly with a nod of his head.
They guards waited until the caravan had passed, before withdrawing. The group marched on, walking much faster, now the ground was even. They all decided to pull their hoods up, for various reasons.
Then, they heard music. They couldn't help themselves, they began to move their bodies to the rhythm. Nibenay came into view. Ren stood, awestruck, at seeing the dancing gates and intricately carved walls.
“It's beautiful.” He whispered.

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