Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Session Forty-Four: The Queen of Yaramuke

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

Jessel asked Vashti if her plant half had been defiled. She answered that it had not and they both started at Kalino quizzically. Kalino was still gasping, but told them that he was not a defiler.
Jessel then looked up and with frustration called out, "Now? Right now?" With a look a resignation, he apologized and said he had to go. He opened a dimension door and stepped through.
The cold in Alaxander's chest had become common place, like an old injury, it was easy for him to ignore. But now, the cold began to move. He was alarmed as it moved down his chest, through his left leg and out of the bottom of his foot. For the first time in days, his heart felt warm. He shuddered at the sensation and his left leg gave out.
As he fell to the wet ground, he slid into the black water. He tried to grab the wet rocks, but his fingers slipped. He could not stop his descent and disappeared into the black water.
Vashti leapt toward Alaxander's rapidly disappearing form. She grabbed the back of his breastplate and called out. Shade grabbed Vashti and then Alaxander. He pulled them out of the black water easily.
Vashti asked if Alaxander had drunk any of the water, to which he replied that he had not. Vashti checked him out anyway, to make sure he was not poisoned. After a few minutes, she was satisfied with his condition.
Suddenly, with shock and exclamations, the body of the horned man rose. Vashti was ready to strike with her bone club, but she saw the the horned man's eyes were black, instead of red, and a black mist rose from the corners of his mouth.

"It's you, isn't it?" Alaxander asked.
The horned man nodded and then spoke in a voice unlike the horned mans, it was far more feminine. "I have been watching and learning from everything you have done and seen. Now, you have provided me with a vessel, this body." She paused and looked at her new hands. "Thank you."
Alaxander nodded to her and then turned to the group. "A couple of weeks ago, I accidentally teleported to place called the Shadow Realm. She lived there." He turned back to the shadow-woman, "How did you get to our world?"
She gestured with her new hands to Alaxander, "You brought me."
Alaxander shrugged and nodded, he had expected that response.
The shadow-woman continued, "The world has changed greatly since I was last here. I must seek out and discover what has become of my master."
Vashti started asking the shadow-woman many questions, but they were ignored. The shadow-woman instead turned to Alaxander and said, "You will be rewarded for helping me." Then, she teleported away with a bamf. Vashti was very upset at being ignored.
Shade's eyes widened, "We never got the gem off of that body!"
Everyone groaned in agreement and were dismayed at their foolishness. Abu entered the cave a couple of minutes later. He was joined by six skeletons, four human guards, and two unarmed humans. Abu greeted them and called them friends.
Abu asked them if they had recovered his gem. Vashti said they had not. Abu apologized and wished that he could believe them. He asked if she would allow his mind-bender could verify her story. She replied that she would allow it, only if he promised not to mess with anything else. Abu ordered the mind-bender to verify her story and nothing else.
Vashti found herself on the mindscape with the pale human man. She reluctantly opened her mind to him. Vashti saw her life start running backwards for few days, which she found disconcerting. After a minute, the mind-bender left her mind and told Abu that she saw the gem with a horned man and after a fight, the horned man teleported away.
Abu nodded and ordered his men to search the cavern, because there was no guarantee that the horned man had the gem. He asked that the group not interfere, because he did not want a fight. The group agreed and Abu's minions began searching the island they were standing on. They then began to fan out, literally leaving no stone unturned.
The group had all made it to the center island and were standing around the pillar there. Abilkisu looked down and saw a glint of something buried in some loose rocks. He reached down and pulled out the gem the group was looking for. He held it toward Vashti and asked if that was the gem. Vashti gasped and took the gem, covering it with her cloak. Surprisingly, Abu and his group did not notice the exchange.
Vashti slowly walked to Alaxander and, as covertly as possible, passed him the gemstone. Alaxander concealed it in his cloak. Abu and his minions were too busy searching the surrounding area to notice. Alaxander spoke loudly and said he was going to check on the kanks. He then teleported away.
Abu said that if Alaxander wasn't so hasty, he would have told him that Abu and his people had commandeered the kanks and the supplies on them. Vashti asked that they and their supplies be returned. Abu said they would be, but they drank much of their water, as Abu's supplies were running low. Vashti understood and thanked Abu for returning what he could.
Alaxander appeared outside of the palace. He found himself surrounded by some of Abu's minions and some undead. Alaxander started to talk, but one of Abu's men pointed and commanded them to "Get him!" As the skeletons and living foes moved toward him, he teleported away.
Alaxander appeared in the ruined warehouse. It was empty, save for him. He pulled out the gem and held it in his hands. He was slightly surprised when it spoke to him.
It introduced itself as the Gem of the Arm and it's purpose was to kill the Ogre Doom. It would be pleased if that was Alaxander's purpose as well. Alaxander said that if the ogre doom was Kalak, then that was his purpose. The gem revealed that it could use the way to boost Alaxander's strength. Alaxander was pleased and then sat down to meditate.
After an hour, or so, the cave had been searched and Abu's people had not found the gem, obviously. He bid the group fairwell and then told the mind-bender to try and find out where the horned man had gone. They walked up the stairs, continuing their conversation beyond the hearing range of the group.
Now, Vashti decided it was time to explore the black waters. She ignored water and stepped into the poisoned water around her. The water felt wrong as she walked and she had a forlorn feeling as she looked around.
Scattered inside the water were many bone of creatures. She could see the undead that she had turned earlier still trying to flee from her. She walked around one of the islands and was surprised to find a large skeleton that was bound. She tied a rope around the skeleton and then returned to the island.
Back on dry land, Kalino and Shade were able to pull the skeleton to them. The skeleton was humanoid, around ten feet tall, and had a small tail. The skeleton's face had an enlongated snout-like protrusion as well. It was bound in a silk rope and attached to the rope were small obsidian disks. Each disk had an arcane character carved into it. The skeleton was also wearing a blindfold with one of the obsidian disks affixed to it.
Shade removed the blindfold and stared for a moment at the skeleton's empty eye sockets. Vashti, Kalino, Kiara, and Julius were all speculating at the purpose of the obsidian disks and the reason for binding a skeleton in such a fashion. Shade took out his iron dagger and cut the rope.
A yellow light lit up the skeleton's eye sockets and the skeleton began struggling to remove its bonds. The skeleton stood and brushed itself free of the rope. It looked at its hands and seemed confused for a moment. It them looked at the group and seemed to dismiss them. The skeleton walked with a hunch as it made its way to the stairwell.
Vashti called out for the thing to stop, but it did not listen. Kiara suddenly gasped, as she watched the thing retreat. She explained that the skeleton was a powerful defiler and they must stop it before it could rest. She then explained that she needed to inform her master of the thing's escape.
Everyone was silently dumbfounded, except for Shade, who knew the truth. Kiara grasped a lion-headed medallion in her hands and spoke allowed.
"Master," She began, "Kalak's foolish minions have set free the dead queen of Yaramuke. She is in a weakened state and I will try to keep her from gaining strength." Kiara paused for a moment and then said, "Yes master."
She then looked at the group and implored them to help her. She said that help was on the way, but they had to hold back the queen before she could recover. The group agreed and as they walked, they began asking Kiara questions. Who was her master? Why was she helping them? Why did she lie about who she was?
Kiara explained that she served the Lion of Urik and he shared the same goal they did, the death of Kalak. She was helping them because she was ordered too and she had lied because she had to make sure that her king was not being deceived by them. The group understood and were actually pleased to have another ally, if it was the despot of Urik.
They tracked the skeleton to the botanical garden on the palace's ground floor. They found that if they touched the paving stones in the proper way, they would levitate to the upper floor. They all did so and saw the skeleton sitting quietly on a throne. Julius said she was meditating, trying to regain her mental strength. Shade took the magic obsidian broadsword, with Julius' permission, and rushed forward to attack.
Julius quickly sent a message, with the way, to Alaxander and explained their predicament. Kalino, Vashti, Abilkisu, and Kiara all joined in the physical assault of the severely weakened queen. After being struck a few times, the queen stood and slashed Shade with her wicked claws. Shade cried out in pain.
Alaxander teleported to them. Julius used the way to shoot lightning at their giant foe. Even though he doubted he would last long, Shade attacked again. Kalino attacked with his chitin khopesh, Vashti used her bone club, Abilkisu used his stone mace, and Kiara used her obsidian scimitar. They didn't seem to being doing much more than distracting the queen. She slashed Shade again.
Julius tried to use the way to detonate the queen, but his power failed. Alaxander punched the queen with the way. Shade was really hurt, so Kiara touched him and called for her master to heal him. Her hand glowed gold and some of Shade's wounds closed. This drew the queen's attention and she attacked Kiara ferociously. Shade struck the queen again and yelled at her to stop. Vashti and Abilkisu attacked, as did Kalino.
Out of mental strength, Julius unsheathed his bone longsword and ran to the back of the throne. Alaxander used the way again to punch the queen. Kiara attacked with her scimitar and Shade attacked with his broadsword. The queen slashed and then kicked Kiara, who was starting to look very bloody. Vashti and Abilkisu just kept hitting the queen. Kalino dropped his khopesh and it slid across the floor.
Alaxander ran forward and hit the queen with his bone club. Vashti did the same and Abilkisu hit her with his mace. Shade struck with the broadsword again and Kiara used her scimitar. The queen picked up Kiara and threw her against the wall. Kiara crumpled to the ground. Kalino pulled out his iron-tipped spear and stabbed the queen. Julius ran out, from behind the throne, and attacked the queen from behind.
The queen turned her attention to Alaxander and began stabbing him. The rest of the group refused to let up. Kiara had pretended to be unconscious and when the queen's attention was elsewhere, she crawled behind the throne.
Alaxander ran from the queen and used the way again. The queen pursued and slammed Alaxander against the wall. Alaxander was hurt badly, but kept attacking. The rest of the group didn't stop either and the queen was very annoyed. She grabbed Alaxander and slammed him against the wall again.
Alaxander fled from the queen, running as far as he could from her. The queen turned her attention back to Shade and began using her wicked claws on him. The group just kept hitting the queen, over and over. They were tiring, but could not give up the fight.
The queen was so large, that she could easily move past the group to attack whom she wanted. She slashed Shade again and he was feeling woozy from the loss of blood. Although he had a strong feeling that he would not survive another blow from the queen, he refused to flee. He decided to fight until his last breath and he slashed wildly at his foe. The blows landed and the magic keeping the queen upright failed. She collapsed and ceased moving.
The queen is down. Alaxander has a cowboy hat.
Kiara crawled out from behind the throne. She explained that the queen was not dead, that the magic keeping her awake would eventually return. Hearing this, Vashti kept hitting the queen's lifeless skeleton. She asked what they should do. Kiara answered that the help she called for should arrive soon.
A few minutes later, a group of five yellow robed men entered the throne room. They all had Urikite features and style. They greeted the group and then healed Kiara, Shade, and Alaxander a little.
The men began their task. They took the old silk rope and used magic to mend the cut that caused her escape. They then rebound the skeleton, making sure to precisely place each disk in the correct location. They also replaced the blindfold.
They insisted that Kiara join them, which she did, and they began a ritual. The templars burned some incense and began chanting in unison. When the templars began chanting, a pair of golden lion's eyes appeared in the air above the queen's skeleton. The runes on the obsidian disks began to glow with a golden light. After about thirty minutes of chanting and holding up their arms, the templars ceased. The lion's eyes closed and the glow on the disks slowly faded away. One of the male templars said, "It is done."
They picked up the body and began carrying it away. Vashti was concerned that they were returning her body to the black water, but they assured her that they would put her body in a more secure location. Vashti was relieved and asked why they didn't kill her. One of the templars explained that beings such as her could not die. The men then carried the skeleton out of the throne room.

Thank you for reading and 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. 18 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. Party NPC. Speaks Rammin, Tyrian, and Balican.
Special Guest Star: Jessel: Half-Giant male earth cleric. 30 years old. Played by Nate. Speaks Giant and Tyrian.

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