Shade dripped water into Vashti's mouth, making sure she did not choke. They kept watch and went back to sleep. Thankfully, the thrax did not return.
Vashti woke with the others in the morning. After rehydrating, she preached her sermon to the group and captive muls. She then gave the muls water and food. They muls were perplexed, but gratefully took the offerings.
Vashti began questioning the captives. They explained that they lived in some ruins near the black waters, but were driven out of it by a dwarf wearing a black cassock and some soldiers. The ruins were about four days away. Vashti informed the rest of the group and they had a discussion about what to do.
They decided that the dwarf in question was obviously Abu. And that meant one of the gems was in the ruins. The ruins were clearly between their present location and Raam. Vashti was holding off her plant growth with the way, so they thought finding a gem that could potentially destroy a sorcerer king was slightly more important. The group agreed, Julius was the most reluctant.
They freed the three muls and returned their weapons. The group also provided them with some clothes, six ceramic pieces, three days of rations, a full one gallon waterskin, a light blanket, two small sacks, and a pair of sandals. The muls thanked them, told them to follow the road to the black waters, then turn left. They also warned them not to drink of the black waters and then they ran off toward Urik.
The group packed up their belongings, gathered their kanks, and set off for the ruins. They followed the road for a couple of hours, when six men riding heavy crodlu approached. One was wearing a bronze scimitar, but wielding an obsidian tipped spear. He yelled at the group to step aside for a House Stel caravan. The group did as ordered and moved to the side of the road. Moments later, seven wagons passed, being pulled by kanks. They caravan was heavily guarded. Once the caravan passed, the crodlu riders moved on. The group moved back onto the road and continued toward the ruins.
As high sun approached, Kalino spotted a rocky overhang to hide under. There were even some rocks to sit on and rest. After eating their midday meal, Shade suddenly started screaming. He fell on the ground and writhed in pain. Everyone was taken aback and stared at each other, shocked.
Vashti, being the healer, started looking over Shade. She took off his leather armor and then, his shirt. She didn't see anything obviously wrong with his chest and stomach, so she flipped him over. There, on his back, right over his spine, was a unremarkable looking black beetle. She thought about smashing the beetle with her bone club, but thought better of it. She turned to Alaxander and told him to use the way.
Vashti suddenly fell to the ground and started screaming. Kalino took her shirt off and flipped her over. Over her spine was another of the beetles. Julius and Alaxander burned up the first beetle and turned their attention, and the power of the way, onto the second. Abilkisu began searching the rocks for more of the beetles.
It didn't take long for the beetle to remove itself from Vashti and begin to fly away. Alaxander and Julius did not let it flee. The used the way to burn it to a crisp. Vashti stopped screaming and caught her breath. The rest of the group joined Abilkisu in the search for more beetles and found none.
After high sun, the group got ready to travel. Vashti and Shade quietly complained about feeling weak, but they knew that they had to move on. They continued to follow the road east, toward the black waters.
A couple of hours later, the group heard a commotion over a rocky rise. Shade went to investigate and saw a huge lizard, with rocky growths all over its body, attacking a fortress wagon's mekillots. The fortress wagon's guards were fighting the monster, but seemed to be having little success in stopping the beast.
Shade returned to the group and reported what he had seen. The rest of the group moved forward to see the battle. They talked about what they should do and decided to help the caravan battle the creature. As they moved into position, they saw magical fire shoot down from the top of the fortress wagon.
Vashti and Kalino looked closely and saw the plants around the wagon had been turned to ash. The group paused, knowing that the merchant house employed a defiler, they were less likely to offer assistance. The group talked it over and decided to not only not help the merchant house, but to slay the defiler before they left.
Alaxander's rock slammed into the beast's back and exploded. The beast, while chewing on a large chunk of mekillot, looked up to see what caused the impact. The attack looked very impressive and some of the house soldiers cheered.
Shade began climbing up the side of the fortress wagon. Alaxander began attacking the huge earthen lizard with the way, projecting strikes of pure mental energy. Vashti and Julius continued attacking the same way, doing a little damage to the defiler, but distracting him greatly.
Shade made it to the top of the wagon and pulled out his iron dagger. Alaxander continued using the way to strike the great beast. Vashti used her water hammer and Julius used the way to harm the defiler. The gargantuan earth lizard seemed more interested in feeding on the mekillots, than attacking the soldiers. Although, large mental powered detonations exploded through the house soldiers.
Shade stepped up behind the defiler, grabbed his long black hair, pulled back his head, and ran his iron blade across the defiler's exposed throat. He released the defiler's hair and pushed his body from the top of the fortress wagon. The sounds of battle muffled the crunch of the defiler's body hitting the road below.
The guards next to Shade were surprised to see a half-elf assassin on top of their wagon. Vashti turned the water hammer on the guards and Julius began throwing rocks at them too. Kalino told Vashti that he was going to make sure the defiler was dead and ran toward the battle. Alaxander continued to fight alongside the merchant house soldiers.
The undistracted guards began loosing arrows at Shade, as Shade quickly climbed down the side of the fortress wagon. One of the guards drew his short sword and futilely attacked the water hammer. Julius attacked the guards shooting at Shade with rocks.
Shade ran behind some rocks, which tumbled when an explosion rocked the battlefield. This allowed some of the archers to strike him with arrows. Vashti and Julius were successfully distracting the guards, but there were too many to distract them all. Kalino dragged the defiler's body beneath the wagon and began searching it. Alaxander began gathering a collection of fallen soldier's weapons.
Shade fled into the stony barrens, out of range of the archers, who turned their attention back to the monster. Vashti left the guards alone and turned her hammer toward the monster as well. Kalino easily found the defiler's material component pouch and took it for himself.
Shade made a wide arc, coming back to the group's rendezvous point. Kalino grabbed the defiler's coin pouch and recognized that his robe was also his spell book. Vashti's water hammer winked out of existence. Julius stopped using the way, now that Shade was safely away. Alaxander asked a soldier, who looked to be in command, what he should do. The man was surprised to hear Balican, but ordered Alaxander to attack the drake.
Kalino removed the defiler's bloody robe from his body and cut off the defiler's head. Alaxander continued gathering weapons. The rest of the group fell back from the battle.
Kalino sneaked away from the battle. The soldiers that did see him were far more concerned with the beast eating their mekillots. Alaxander filled his arms with short bows and arrows, but did not flee the battle. The group was starting to wonder if Alaxander had a plan.
Kalino stuffed the robe into his backpack and made a wide arc back to the group. Everyone watched as Alaxander walked around the battlefield. They watched as the creature devoured the merchant house's mekillots.
The creature turned to leave and the merchant house forces let it go. They were stranded on the road and would have to send riders back to Raam to request more mekillots. The Balican speaking commander rode his crodlu up to Alaxander and dismounted.
He thanked Alaxander for his assistance during the battle and asked if he knew of a half-elf assassin. Alaxander dodged the question, not giving a clear answer. A soldier ran up and gave a report in a language that Alaxander clearly didn't understand. The commander responded in the same unknown language and the soldier ran off.
The commander made small talk and offered Alaxander employment. Alaxander declined, but allowed the commander to ask him numerous questions about himself. Alaxander said he was from Tyr and was traveling alone.
Suddenly, Alaxander felt something slide over the top of his head from behind. He realized that there was an obsidian circlet on his head and he could not use the way. The commander swung a sap at Alaxander's head, but Alaxander moved just in time and the sap missed.
Alaxander dropped some of the weapons he was holding and removed the circlet from his head. The soldiers began pummeling Alaxander with their fists. One punched Alaxander in the left eye, giving him a good shiner. Alaxander shook his head and voiced his disappointment, he then teleported out of the wagon.
When Alaxander appeared near the group, Vashti rushed over to check on him. Despite his black eye, he said he was fine. Kalino sniggered at Alaxander's wound and hurt pride.
The group discussed what to do next and decided to give the grounded fortress wagon a wide birth. They traveled through the stony barrens and were happy to not have a wagon with them. As the sun dipped below the horizon, they set up camp in a relatively flat area. They set up watch and went to sleep.
Day 1, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending
The group woke up and were surprised to have gotten a full night of sleep in the wilderness. They went through their normal routine and set off into the desert. The kanks were handling the rocks without any difficulty and the group was happy for that.
They walked most of the day, pausing for high sun, but finally made it back to the road. They figured they lost half a day with the detour and maybe a quarter of a day due to the run in with the fortress wagon.
As the sun neared the horizon, they crested a ridge and saw a colony of hundreds of wild kanks. The kanks were eating everything in sight and the group quickly backed off. They didn't want to be seen as a meal.
They moved half a mile from the kanks and set up camp along the road, making sure to keep watch.
Day 2, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending
During Alaxander's and Kalino's watch, three kanks were spotted coming toward them. Kalino pulled out his chitin khopesh and Alaxander woke up Vashti. Vashti rose and said she was going to scare them off.
Using the way, Vashti suddenly took on the appearance of a wyvern. The kanks were scared away and Kalino was surprised as well. Kalino yelled involuntarily and fled a short distance from Vashti. Kiara woke and grabbed Shade, gasping. Abilkisu woke up groggily and missed the whole thing. Everyone else, somehow, expected their friend to turn into a wyvern and did not react.
It was nearly time to wake up, so everyone got an early start to their day. Vashti preached her sermon and handed out the daily rations. They packed up camp and began their trek down the road.
An hour later, they spotted a dozen individuals shambling on the road toward them. Due to the way the figures moved, Julius thought they might be undead. Vashti thought they could be sick or injured people.
In order to find out, Vashti grew wyvern wings from her back and flew over the shambling travelers, the travelers recoiled in horror and there were shouts of fear. Vashti was convinced they were not undead.
She landed near the group an explained what had happened. They group moved to intercept the shambling travelers. When they could see them clearly, they could see that the travelers had blisters and boils, and their flesh was rotting. The wretched traveling group started begging for food and water.
Vashti cautiously stepped forward and magically healed one of the wretches. The flesh healed for a moment, but then starting rotting again, immediately.
One of the travelers, a man, stepped forward and waved Vashti off. "It's no use." He said hoarsely in broken Tyrian, "We have drunk from the black waters."
Join us in two weeks for another exciting session of Adventures Under the Dark Sun.
2nd edition AD&D Dark Sun Cast of Player Characters and other Major Characters
Julius: Human male psychokinetic. 22 years old. Played by Dave. Speaks Balican, Tyrian, and Giant.
Alaxander: Human male psychokinetic. 17 years old. Played by Ben. Speaks Balican, Tyrian, and Elf.
Vashti: Human female clairsentient/water cleric. 20 years old. Played by my wife. Speaks Nibnese, Gith, Tyrian, and Balican.
Shade: Half-Elf male ranger/thief, 18 years old. Played by Chad. Speaks Balican, Elf and Tyrian.
Kalino: Human male fighter/preserver. 20 years old. Played by DM. Speaks Rammin, Tyrian, and Balican.