Thursday, April 16, 2020

Session Thirty Five: Bitter Reality

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

Vashti immediately stated her desire to stay and help the suffering people. She hoped that she could, somehow, heal the damage the black waters caused on the wretched human travelers.  Shade and Alaxander immediately agreed. Julius disagreed and thought they should keep moving. Kalino saw wisdom in both arguments and agreed to go with the consensus, which was to stay and help.
The poor wretches begged for food and water, but were unable to keep any of it down. They were dying and they knew it. Some of them had simply accepted their fate and stared blankly at nothing.
Vashti hoped that the way could help them. She took one of the children, a young boy, and touched him. She used the way, hoping that their malady was a simple disease. It did not change his appearance, but the boy said he felt a little better. He was offered a small cup of water, which he drank eagerly. He kept it down, but Vashti knew this was a temporary reprieve from the diseases effects.
Vashti used all of the mental energy she had, offering the wretches what aid she could. They were thankful for the abatement of their symptoms, even if it was temporary. Vashti was hoping that magic could help, but she had used all of the spell energy that her patron element had granted her for the day.
They moved a short distance from the road and made a camp for the diseased and another for themselves. Vashti lamented that she was unsure if she could cure the wretches and the rest of the group had few words of encouragement for her.
After a few minutes of brooding, she felt that she was being watched and asked Shade to scout the area. Shade agreed and departed.

Shade walked quietly through the rocks and over the stones. He was about a hundred yards away, when he heard a small voice. It asked him what he was doing there. Shade did not see anyone, but answered that they were there to help the diseased people. The voice then asked if he was there to help the land. Shade asked to whom he was speaking. The voice answered that it was land and if Shade was there to help. Shade said that they were not there to harm the land and that they would move on, as soon as the diseased people were healed. The voice ceased to speak and Shade returned to the group.
Shade told them about the voice he had heard and Julius asked him if he had had enough water. Vashti suspected that he could have been talking to an earth elemental, or a spirit of the land. Vashti jogged over the area where Shade had heard the voice and tried to communicate with the land. The land was silent.
While Vashti was talking to herself, Alaxander saw a rat watching them closely. He told Shade and as he did so, the rat jumped down from the rock and scurried away. Alaxander said he knew the rat was watching them. Kalino and Julius chuckled and told Alaxander to have some more water and sit in the shade.
Kalino continued Shade's spear training, as they hadn't had time in quite a few days. Kiara watched Shade practice, giving words of encouragement. After Vashti had rested enough, she used the way to help the diseased wretches, for which they were thankful. Julius used the opportunity to carve a bone longsword from his collection of erdland bones. He was very pleased, believing it was his finest work ever. Alaxander enjoyed the opportunity to nap.
At the end of the day, Vashti was exhausted. Julius agreed to keep the first watch. Everyone else went to sleep.

Day 3, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending

Julius was sitting on a rock, staring at the moonless sky and listening carefully to the sound of the night. Suddenly a large rat jumped on his rock and sat beside him. Julius got up and stepped away.
The rat's form wavered and it become a human man. The man wash disheveled and had wild, unkempt, hair. He was unarmed. Julius didn't say anything, but immediately walked over to Vashti and informed her that they had a visitor. Being a light sleeper, Shade was awoken by the talking.
The man introduced himself as Ahmad and he said that he served the land. Julius asked Ahmad if he was a druid, but Ahmad was annoyingly cryptic in his response. He didn't seem hostile, or afraid of the group, so Vashti assumed he was there to help.
Vashti asked him about her condition, showing him how far the vines had spread on her body. Ahmad explained that she had used a healing draft not made for her people and in an improper way. He knew of no cure and believed that Vashti would, one day, turn into a plant.
Ahmad then explained that he was there to help with the diseased people, and send everyone on their way. If they lingered, he feared, they would damage the land. Vashti, Julius, and Shade understood.
Vashti began telling him about their journey thus far and spoke of the gemstone they were seeking. Julius excused them and pulled Vashti aside, Shade followed. Julius explained that Vashti should not tell someone they met a few minutes ago about their plans. Vashti thought Julius was just being paranoid, but Shade agreed with Julius. Vashti conceded to their request to stay silent on the matter.
Ahmad, meanwhile, had walked over to the wretched people sleeping on the cold, hard ground and was inspecting them. Vashti jogged over to join him. Ahmad explained that the people were both cursed and diseased. The curse would have to be lifted, if they had any hope of surviving. He removed the curse from three of them with his magic, but Vashti would have to do the rest.
Ahmad told Vashti, Shade, and Julius to leave the area as soon as they could. They agreed to his request and thanked him for his assistance. Ahmad nodded, turned into a hawk, and flew away into the night sky.
Julius and Shade commented on the rudeness of Ahmad, but agreed that he was helpful. Julius said that just because Ahmad didn't know of a cure, didn't mean their wasn't one. Vashti doubted that was true, but sent Julius and Shade back to bed, so she could finish her watch.

Day 4, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending

The group awoke to the smell of erland meat, root vegetables, and beans cooking in the early dawn. The diseased humans could barely stand the smell, it appeared the healing Vashti had done the day before had elapsed. As the food cooked, Vashti preached her sermon and called upon the element of water to help her heal the sick humans.
She went among the diseased, removing their curse and then using the way to heal their disease. As she did, Kalino would give them food and Shade would give them water. It took a long while to cure, feed, and water all of the human travelers.
Unfortunately, one of the humans was too old and had succumbed to the disease in the night. Vashti was disappointed, even though no one blamed her for the loss. Shade and Kalino buried the man and Vashti asked the element of water to allow his body to help heal the land and bring back the waters.
Vashti had to rest, to regain her mental strength, and the healing was going slowly. In between feedings, Kalino and Shade practiced with the spear. Julius worked on making a bone shortsword and Alaxander napped.
Just after high sun, the last of the wretches was healed. Vashti, Alaxander, Julius, Kalino, and Shade gave the human travelers some meat, twenty-nine bits, five ceramic pieces, twelve days of rations, a bone dagger, and Julius' newly crafted bone shortsword. The leader of the travelers was named Abbas and they were headed toward Urik. Vashti and Shade then warned the travelers of the grounded armored wagon and encouraged them to trade for water at the client village outside of Urik. The newly healed human travelers thanked the group profusely and offered any aid, if they came upon them again. The human travelers, no longer wretched, traveled west along the road.
Before the group left, they took stock of their supplies and were a little worried that their water was so low. Only nine gallons of the precious liquid left, but it would have to do.
A few hours later, while traveling toward Raam, the group spotted three thri-kreen walking among the rocks and boulders. Shade called out to them in greeting, but was prepared for anything. The kreen leaped over the boulders and charged toward the group. It was difficult to interpret their alien facial expressions, but their bodies were poised for an attack.
One of the thri-kreen attacked Abilkisu and paralyzed him immediately. Another attacked Shade and was able to scratch him, but failed to land a bite. The last of the kreen attacked Kalino, scratched, but was also unable to bite. Vashti called out that everyone should help Abilkisu, so the group converged on the thri-kreen to attack him.
Kalino used the will to turn his arm into an iron khopesh, Julius used the way to make himself invulnerable to physical attacks, Alaxander used the way to mentally punch the kreen, Vashti tried to hit the kreen with her club, but missed. Kiara asked to borrow Julius' obsidian scimitar, but Julius refused. He did allow her to take his bone longsword though. She took it and tried to fight, but she was obviously unskilled.
Shade was paralyzed by one of the thri-kreen, while the one who had paralyzed Abilkisu moved on to attack Julius. The kreen that had attack Kalino moved to attack Kiara. Alaxander continued to used the way to beat on the thri-kreen. Julius used his finely crafted bone longsword to attack, Vashti continued to use her club, and Kalino used his khopesh to great effect. Kiara was proving to be less than impressive with the borrowed longsword.
The thri-kreen battling Kiara was able to bite and paralyze her. One of the other thri-kreen kept attacking Julius, but was confused that he seemed unable to make him bleed. Kalino was bit and scratched, but was able to shake off the injected venom.
Julius slew the first thri-kreen with his bone longsword. Kalino called out that they should help Kiara and rushed to attack the kreen near her. Alaxander continued to use the way, trying to beat through the kreen's carapace with the bludgeoning force of his mind. Vashti was having difficulty harming the naturally armored creature.
The thri-kreen attacking Julius was confused, but attacked him again, hoping to overwhelm whatever defense force he was using. The kreen, who had paralyzed Kiara, moved to attack Alaxander, but was barely able to scratch him with one of its claws. Kalino stabbed and slashed with his arm-khopesh, while Vashti's club bounced off the thri-kreen's chitin again. Alaxander stepped back, but continued his mental assault. Julius hit the thri-kreen attacking him and released the stored kinetic energy from the previous attacks against him. A dozen cuts appeared on the thri-kreens body and it howled in pain.
Julius tried to mentally reactivate his defense, but was distracted and accidentally detonated his finely crafted bone longsword. The thri-kreen attacking Julius was furious and pressed his attack, scratching and biting, but Julius was able to fight off the paralyzing venom. The thri-kreen attacking Alaxander was less successful, only landing a single claw attack. Vashti continued to have trouble, but the combined blows from Alaxander and Kalino killed the second thri-kreen.
The last thri-kreen decided that Julius was too difficult and leaped near Kalino, then bit and paralyzed him. Alaxander did not let up, he targeted the last kreen with the way, continuing to just batter the enemy with pure mental force. Julius would not allow the thri-kreen to escape him and rushed to join the fray. Vashti was finally able to land a blow against the insect.
The thri-kreen fought exhaustively, but could not overcome his foes. It fell when Julius used the way and struck the thri-kreen in the head with a stone. Its chitin cracked and leaked yellow blood. The group was victorious.
After a few minutes, the venom wore off and everyone could move again. Vashti had only a single healing spell and applied it to Shade. The group continued to walk east, still badly injured.
When the sun dipped below the horizon, it was Kiara who found a cave for them to sleep in. The cave contained the body of a dead man, who had many wounds on his withered body. Vashti inspected and found that he had likely died of his wounds a few days prior. He had a full gallon waterskin on his body, which the group took. Shade, Alaxander, and Kalino buried the man's body outside. Vashti checked the water for poison with the way and found none.
They setup their camp inside the cave and setup their normal watch rotation.

Day 5, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending

During Vashti's watch, a foot tall rodent poked its head inside the cave. Vashti knew what the creature was, because her home village often trapped the creatures, it was a jankz. Vashti tried to shoo the animal away, but it ignored her. The jankz moved into the cave, followed by nearly a hundred more.
Vashti woke up Shade and explained that their cave was being invaded by jankz and she didn't know what to do about the venomous rodents.

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. 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. Party NPC. Speaks Rammin, Tyrian, and Balican.

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